18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Nationalization ^Petitions - Political CRISIS in Victoria.
Petitions in relation to banking in Australia were presented as follows: -
By Mr. ANTHONY, from certain electors of the division of Richmond.
By Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON, from certain residents of Macclesfield, South Australia. later:
– I have with me a number of forms signed by approximately 8,000 to 10,000 people of my electorate protesting against the proposed nationalization of banking, without a prior referendum being held, but I am unable to present them to the House in the form of a petition because the document is not worded in accordance with the requirements of Standing Orders. In order that 1 may discharge my duty to my constituents, will the Prime Minister intimate whether. he is prepared to receive the documents now or at some appointed time and place?
– Members of the Australian Country party, with the Leader of that party as their spokesman, took the opportunity last week, as’ did the Leader of the Opposition to-day, to present to me petitions which had not been prepared in a form suitable for presentation to the Parliament. I shall be quite willing to grant a private audience to the honorable member, in order that he may present to me the documents he has mentioned.
– I received to-day a letter from a constituent, complaining that there is a persistent rumour in Tasmania that the Prime Minister is refusing to accept petitions and protests on the Government’s banking proposals. “Will the right honorable gentleman give the assurance that those rumours are unfounded?
– In no instance has * communication that has been forwarded to me either as Treasurer or Prime Minister been rejected ; all of them have been received, and, as a matter of fact, read. I do not pretend for a moment that all of them- have been studied in detail. The leaders of both the Opposition parties know that I have provided opportunities for them to present petitions on behalf of their constituents. The opportunity to present further petitions is still open.
– What notice is the right honorable gentleman taking of them?
– I believe that I am entitled to keep my own counsel on that matter.-
– It has been brought to my notice that, in my electorate, particularly at sugar mills, the employees, when leaving the premises after they have received their pay, are met by the manager of the mill with a petition which he asks them to sign, almost placing, the pen in their hands for that purpose. Will the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General say whether such acts of intimidation of employees are permissible? Oan the Acting AttorneyGeneral do anything to prevent their continuance?
– I have heard of the practice referred to by the honorable member having been followed in some places, but not in the Queensland sugar fields. I do not know whether anything oan be done to prevent people from signing a petition if they feel inclined to do so. If I know the sugar workers, I do not. think that they will sign a petition against their will.
– It is reported from Victoria that an early’ election will be held in that State at which the nationalization of the private banks will be the main issue. As this will be the first occasion on which a large section of the Australian people will have an opportunity to express their opinion publicly on this matter, will the Prime Minister defer the introduction into this Parliament of the nationalization legislation on this subject until the decision of the Victorian people hai been given?
– I have no official knowledge of what has happened in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. I was too busy last night to listen to the news broadcasts and I have not read the newspapers to-day. However, I have heard from some of my colleagues that there has been some disturbance in the Victorian Parliament. I am sure that the honorable member for Fawkner, having due regard for the sovereign rights of the States, would not wish me to interfere in such a matter. Further, I do not propose to engage in a discussion of n measure that is not yet before this House. The hanking legislation will he presented to the Parliament as soon .as the draftsmen have finished their work. At the earliest, the bill will be introduced at the end of next week, but more probably not until the beginning of the following week.
– “Why not defer it until the opinion of the people of Victoria has been expressed?
– I do not know what legislation passed by the Commonwealth Parliament has to do with any State Parliament. It would he presumptuous on the part of this Parliament, for instance, to tell the Premier of South Australia or of Western Australia or of Tasmania that we did not like certain State legislation and would therefore refuse to pass future States grants measures. Similarly, any action by a State government to influence the decisions of this Parliament would be political presumption.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping direct that army huts at Kapooka military camp, near Wagga, New South Wales, shall be disposed! of locally, in order to ease the acute housing shortage in that district and elsewhere in the southern Riverina?
– As I explained recently, the State Governments have first call on Commonwealth property that is sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, a body which is under the control of the Minister for Supply and Shipping. Since the housing of the people is primarily a responsibility of State Governments, the correct approach to the matter is for the Government of New South Wales to lay claim on the huts referred to, with a view to provision being made to meet the housing requirements of the people of the Wagga district. I shall refer the matter to the Minister for Supply and Shipping in order that attention may be given to any further aspects which should be considered.
– In order that an informed debate may take place on the extent of and necessity for the trade restrictions from dollar areas recently imposed or foreshadowed by the Government, will the Prime Minister present to the House a paper setting forth detailsof such restrictions and the reasons therefor, and also indicating, in addition to the estimated dollar deficiency during 1946-47, the estimated dollar deficiency for 1947-48, with particulars under each heading included in the total deficiency,, and showing also how the dollar loan by the United States of America to Great Britain has been applied and what balance, if any, of such loan remains?
– As to the dollar deficiency for the financial year 1946-47, I have already given the information in broad terms to the Leader of the Australian Country party. I believe that similar information was asked for, and supplied to, the honorable member for Warringah. I shall ascertain what further information I can obtain for the Leader of the Opposition. Only an approximate estimate of the dollar deficiency for the present financial year can be given, as I think the right honorable gentleman will realize. Before even an approximate estimate can be made we must know what our dollar earnings for the financial year will be. I am afraid that it will not be possible to give details of the final restrictions that may be imposed until after the dollar talks in London have taken place and a more complete examination of the whole position has been made. The Government’s inability to give the information is a physical disability and is not due to any disinclination on its part to supply the information. I doubt whether, during the budget debate or in the immediate future, it will be possible to give anything like a reasonably accurate estimate of the dollar deficiency. The right honorable gentleman will understand that the expenditure of the dollar loan by the United States of America to the United Kingdom is a matter entirely within the knowledge of the British Treasury. It is true that I have been given, confidentially, a fairly accurate estimate showing how the dollars have been expended, but I do not think that the information contained in the confidential document that I have received has been published anywhere. As I thought that the Opposition parties should have the right background, I offered last week to let them see confidentially, some figures that had been sent to me for my own personal information. I could not publish a statement of that kind without the consent of the British Government. However, in response to the request of the right honorable gentleman I shall ask what portion, if any, of those figures can be released. I am willing that the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Country party should, in their capacity as party leaders, examine the figures so that they may be as well informed on the subject as I am. If necessary, I shall get the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. McFarlane, who has just returned from abroad, to explain to the right honorable gentleman any matters relating to the documents which need explaining.
Poles and Maltese - Arrivals on “ Tidewater “.
– In this morning’s Canberra Times the following item is published : -
London, Wednesday. - Migration authorities at Australia House stated that the Furious will leave with 1,750 permanent settlers for Australia. These include 280 Poles and between 250 and 300 Maltese.
Mr. N. W. Lamidey, chief migration officer, said that by the end of the year about 6,000 migrants will have left for Australia.
Will the Minister for Immigration say whether Furious is one of the ships about which he made arrangements when he was in England ? If so, can he explain why this number of Poles and Maltese are to be carried, seeing that so many British people wish to come to Australia?
– I have not yet received any advice from my chief migration officer in London on the subjectmatter of the press report referred to. We ha.ve been negotiating with the British Admiralty for the use of a British aircraft carrier. If it be true that favorable action has been taken by Viscount Hall, of the British Admiralty, it is probable that Furious is the ship which has been made available. I have not approved of the immigration to Australia of 2S0 Poles and between 250 and 300 Maltese, but I did agree with the British Government, as a condition of obtaining Asturias, that 280 Poles, who had fought alongside the Australians at Tobruk, should be brought to Australia to work on the hydro-electric project at Butler’s Gorge in Tasmania, and elsewhere - work which Australians do not want to do -because they can find more congenial work elsewhere. In regard to the second trip by Asturias in November, the British Government asked us to take another 2S0 Poles of a total of 900 which the Government of Tasmania wants to bring to that State. The British Government also asked us to accept some Maltese. The authorities in Malta are in difficulties because the island is over-populated, and much of the arable land was rendered useless by bombing during the war. The British Government has asked us to accept 100 Maltese, mostly women and children, who have relatives already in Australia, and who can be provided with housing. I accepted that condition because I wish Asturias to make more trips. Seeing that 1,678 persons were carried on this ship on its last trip to Fremantle, it is obvious that it brings a great many British migrants, even if we also get some migrants whom we do not ordinarily regard as British. At the same time, I point out that, legally, the Maltese are British subjects. The arrangements that we make with the British Government are made as the result of negotiations. We do not own any ships, and we have to accept some of the conditions laid down by the British Government, which has responsibilities to other people as well as those who want to leave Britain to come to Australia.
– The Sydney Daily Telegraph yesterday published a message from London, stating that the British Navy was shadowing ‘he Panamanian ship Tidewater, which left Marseilles ostensibly for Sydney with 805 Jewish refugee.? on board. What information can the Minister for Immigration give on the matter? Will he ascertain whether Tidewater, which gave its destination as Sydney, is, in fact, proceeding to Sydney by arrangement with, his department?
– Tidewater is not proceeding anywhere by arrangement with my department. To date, we have made no arrangements in regard to the shipping of persons from Europe. When the first ship carrying displaced persons to Australia from displaced persons’ camps in Europe leaves European waters, it will leave under an agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the appropriate body that has been set up by the United Nations to effect the transfer of people from displaced persons’ camps to ‘this country. I have read the account of Tidewater having left Marseilles. The honorable member for Moreton asked me a question about the matter recently, and F. am trying to get some information in regard to it. If the press statement be true - that the British Navy is shadowing Tidewater - obviously the vessel must be making for Palestine, and not for Sydney. The only reason for the shadowing of any vessel in the Mediterranean by the British Navy would be to prevent illegal immigration into Palestine. I have no further information to impart at the moment, but I hope that I shall have some a little later.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether it is a fact that in August the Royal Australian Air Force refused to service Dutch aeroplanes in Brisbane? If so, was this action taken with, the approval of the Minister, or any member of the Government or any high official of the Royal Australian Air Force? What was the reason for this reported refusal, and was the Commonwealth’s intention communicated to the Dutch authorities?
– I shall answer the right honorable member’s question in the same way as I answered a similar question which was asked on a previous occasion. No request was made to me for any assistance from the Royal Australian Air Force to fuel Dutch aeroplanes.
– That is not the question.
– Well, it is the answer. If no request was made the answer is obvious. As the Dutch authorities possess both aeroplanes and petrol and have personnel available for fuelling aeroplanes there can be no cause for any complaint when facilities are available for that purpose.
Advance - Stabilization
– In view of the very high price ruling for sheep at present, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture recommend to Cabinet that the first advance payment on wheat be made as high as possible? Farmers requiring sheep are urgently in need of adequate finance to enable them to use oats and wheat stubbles, otherwise the grazing value of stubbles will be lost. I know many farmers who crop only fallow land and who intend to plant stubble land. The stubbles are burnt off in March and April. That means that only a limited period of time is available to farmers to derive revenue from stubble grazing. I notice from to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald that ships will be made available immediately to lift a large portion of the wheat crop immediately it is harvested. In these circumstances will the Minister do his utmost to arrange a very substantial first payment on wheat?
– I am glad to be able to inform the honorable member that the Cabinet, realizing fully the difficulties confronting wheat farmers in the Riverina and other wheat growing areas, has already decided to pay a higher advance on wheat this year than that paid in the past. The amount of the advance will be announced at a very early date.
– It is fairly well known that recently at Warracknabeal a mass meeting of wheat-growers carried a resolution supporting the stabilization plan of the Australian Wheatgrowers’ Federation. Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture received a copy of the resolution, and what action does he contemplate taking to meet the desires of these producers?
– I have, through the honorable member, received a copy of the resolution carried by a meeting of wheatgrowers summoned by the political Country party to discuss the fixation of a home consumption price of wheat. I assure the honorable member that when the report of the commission inquiring into the cost of production in the wheat industry is received full consideration will he given to the matter raised by him.
– I ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, what is the position with regard to training at the fisheries training school at Cronulla? Ex-servicemen selected for training at that school have complained that the commencement date of their training has been postponed on several occasions this year.
– At present, it is not quite clear whether there will be opportunities for men who wish to be trained at the Cronulla Fisheries School to enter the fishing industry on the terms we expected they would be able to when the school was first started. It may be that a too optimistic estimate was made of the absorptive capacity of the industry. For that reason we are postponing the decision as to when the second school will commence.
Operations in London.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has engaged any firm of underwriters in London in connexion with any loan floated in recent months, or for loans about to be floated? If so, will he indicate the names of the underwriters and the terms on which they have been engaged ? Has a report been received from the High Commissioner in London, Mr. Beasley, recommending theunderwriting of a renewal of a loan by the Government of New South Wales from the Bank of Westminster? If so, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House of the context of the recommendations madeby Mr. Beasley?
– For some years it has been the practice for all Commonwealth loans to be handled by the Commonwealth Bank. I understand, however, that some time ago the Government’s financial advisers in London reported that there might be some difficulty in regard to the conversion of future loans, and suggested that the underwriting of such loans should be considered. I took the opportunity to discuss the matter with the State Premiers. The New South Wales Joan to which the honorable member referred is, from memory, for an amount of £17,000,000 and bears interest at the rate5¼ per cent. sterling.
I have promised to consult with the State Premiers before any action is taken for the conversion in London of loans in which the States are interested. I am unable to give the honorable member any definite information as to when any new conversion loan may be floated or whether the Government, acting upon the advice of the Loan Council, may use some of its funds for the repatriation of small loans. The matter is quite fluid at the moment. I shall endeavour to let the hon orable member have advance information of any action proposed to be taken in this connexion in the near future. It is not usual for governments to make public letters which it receives from its officers abroad. In broad terms Mr. Beasley conveyed to me an appreciation of the general financial position in London as he saw it, and no more.
– In view of the recent reduction of the petrol ration in this country and as many motorists have arranged trips for the Christmas holidays, will the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping ascertain whether favorable consideration will be given to extending the currency of October and November coupons which normally will expire at the end of November for a further two months.
– I shall refer the honorable member’s request to the Minister for Supply and Shipping.
Procedure at Auction Sales.
– I have been informed that when homes are offered for sale at auction under the Land Sales Control Regulations, the auctioneers issue numbered tickets to intending bidders but do not keep a record of the names of the individuals to whom the tickets are issued. Several people may bid the ceiling price for a home, thus necessitating a ballot, and as a number of bidders often act as dummies for one intending purchaser, he naturally has an unfair advantage over legitimate home-seekers. Will the Treasurer ascertain whether in future auctioneers could be instructed to obtain the names and addresses of intending bidders when he is issuing ballot numbers, and also a monetary deposit as a token of good faith, in an endeavour to stop the racketeering now taking place.
– I have not had brought to my notice any instances of the practice to which the honorable member has referred, but I shall examine the position and answer the honorable member’s question as soon as possible.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General how many applications for telephones are outstanding and what efforts are being made to overcome the shortage. What efforts are being made to obtain automatic telephone equipment to enable the necessary conversion of city telephone exchanges from the manual to the automatic system?
– I told the honorable member for Batman yesterday that I would try to obtain a statement from the Postmaster-General indicating the present position and the difficulties confronting the Government in meeting the requests of so many people who are enjoying such a high level of prosperity that they can afford to install telephones.
– Who can get everything but what they want.
– They have a good government at any rate. The department which is trying to cope with 100,000 applications for telephones installed 11,000 in July and August. I will try to obtain a statement of the position from the Postmaster-General and have it roneoed and distributed to all honorable members so that they shall all know what good progress is being made, the difficulties confronting the department and how lack of exchange facilities is preventing the installation of telephones in busy areas in all the capital cities of Australia.
– In dew of the exposure made by me in this House of what became known as the “ Keane trunks case “ and subsequent court action, which implicated a late Minister of the Crown, can the Minister acting for the Attorney-General tell me what stage has been reached in the matter? If the case is still awaiting finality, will he state the reason for the delay in its completion?
– If the honorable member refers to the Goldberg case-
– No, the Keane trunk case.
– Is not that the same thing? The only case that has been delayed is the- appeal by Mr. Goldberg against a conviction in connexion with the matter that the honorable member has in mind. That is the only conviction of which I am aware. The delay is not due in any way to action by the Government, or the Attorney-General’s Department;, it is the result of a request for an extension of time by Mr. Goldberg’s solicitors..
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister with reference to the 24 business men who have gone to Japan to seek trade on behalf of Australia. Will the Japanese goods be distributed fairly between the States on arrival in Australia, and then will a fair distribution be made, through ordinary channels, between city and country storekeepers so that the large city emporiums will not be allowed to absorb the bulk of the consignments ?
– The Department of Trade and Customs has made arrangements for a fair distribution of goods . imported from- Japan. I could give the honorable member details of the channels through which the distribution is to be made, but I think it will be more satisfactory to him if I arrange for the Minister for Trade and Customs to give him a full explanation. I have taken a personal interest in this matter, and I have been assured that the arrangements that have been made are satisfactory to all retailers’ organizations. However, I shall make certain that the assurance is correct and inform the honorable member later.
– Were the retailers in each State consulted ?
– I understand that consultations were held with all representative bodies associated with the distribution of goods of the classes that will be affected and that these bodies agreed in general principle with the department’s proposals. I do not claim that every individual retailer is satisfied, but the organizations concerned have signified their approval of the arrangement.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen a report that 500 Yugoslavs will embark on a Yugoslav ship in Western Australia next month to return to Yugoslavia? If the report is correct, how many Yugoslavs will leave Australia, why are they leaving, and will there be any restriction on the quantity of personal belongings or property that they will be permitted to take out of Australia? If Yugoslav ships are coming to Australia for this purpose, can they be used to bring British immigrants here?
– I have seen the statement to which the honorable member referred. We have been informed that a ship is to come to Australia, but we have not been able to secure any definite information as yet regarding its name or the anticipated date of its arrival. The honorable member for Robertson asked me a question on the same subject some months ago. I repeat now what I said then, namely, that the Australian Government does not know how many Yugoslavs resident in Australia, whether Yugoslav nationals or naturalized British subjects, want to leave’ this country for Yugoslavia. All that we know is that Tito’s Government is said to be sponsoring a “ back-to- Yugoslavia “ movement for the purpose of rebuilding that country and that apparently some people in Australia believe the propaganda which has been disseminated and are prepared to sell up their holdings in this country and go back to Yugoslavia. When I answered the honorable member for Robertson, I said I thought that they were very foolish to leave this country. It is the best country that they have ever been in, or are ever likely to be in. We have done what we can. through our immigration officers in Western Australia and elsewhere, to try to dissuade them. The articles which they may desire to take away from Australia will have to be considered if or when any large number of them propose to leave this country. For my own part, if I have any say in the decision, they will not be allowed to take away any tools of trade which are so necessary for the development of Australia. The Yugoslavs, as a class, have been very good citizens of Australia. One young man named Starcevich, whose Yugoslav parents could not speak English when they came to this country less than 30 years ago, won the Victoria Cross in World War II. Whilst numbers of Yugoslavs may be contemplating leaving Australia, there are thousands of Yugoslavs in camps for displaced persons in Europe who would be only too happy to come to Australia.
– I direct to the Minister for Immigration a question relating to the former Graylands Military Camp, which is now under the control of his department and which is used periodically to provide temporary accommodation for immigrants when they disembark from ships at Fremantle. I understand that the Farmers Union of Western Australia desires to use the camp as a holiday centre for children from the country districts of Western Australia and others who have come to Western Australia for periods when the camp is not being used by immigrants. I ask the Minister whether he has reached a decision on the matter ?
– I received from the Farmers Union of Western Australia a request that when the Graylands Camp is not in use the Department of Immigration might make it available as a city camp for children from country districts whom the Farmers Union desires to bring to Perth for a holiday. ‘ I replied immediately that the Department of Immigration will make the camp available to the Farmers Union or to any similar body that desires to utilize it as a holiday camp for country children at times when the department does not require it as a transit depot for persons travelling from Fremantle eastward after disembarkation from the ships which have brought them here.
– I remind the Minister for the Interior that grave dissatisfaction exists in the Northern Territory as the result of the method of culling applicants for land recently resumed in that area and the allocation of the lands after the culling. As the Government has not set aside an area for the settlement of ex-servicemen there, will the Minister agree to re-appoint the Land Board which was abolished some years ago? When lands are to be allocated in future will he ensure that the applicants who have survived the culling shall go before the Land Board, as they do in Queensland a.nd elsewhere, and participate in the ballots ‘under the supervision of the Land Commissioner?
– The masters which ohe honorable .member has mentioned ‘are now receiving consideration, but as he knows perfectly well, the subdivision of portions of the land in the Northern Territory, which would be classed as suitable for the kind of settlement which he has in mind, was delayed for a long period until we discovered a suitable director of lands. Af ter we had selected a suitable person, he discovered that, owing to domestic reasons, he could not ‘accept the position.
– That is not so. The gentleman concerned discovered that the Government would offer him an appointment for only one year.
– The departmental files discloses that this gentleman made no reference to the length of the term of his appointment. Later he wrote an apologetic letter because of the inconvenience which he had caused to the Department of the Interior ‘by accepting the appointment and then rejecting it. His action resulted in the department having to repeat the whole procedure of advertising the position, inviting applications and selecting an applicant. However, a suitable man was eventually appointed to the position, and his report is now awaited. No decision will be made in regard to the subdivision of land until his report is received.
– Last week I asked a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services in respect of the payment of pensions .to pensioners while they are in hospital, and the Minister stated that he would inquire into the matter. Is he now able to furnish a reply to my question?
– The position is that the payment of a pension or an allowance to any one entitled to receive such payment under the social service legislation is a statutory right of the person concerned, and the money is his to dispose of as he wishes. Every member of the community entering hospital is entitled to payment of the sum of £2 2a. a week towards the cost of his accommodation and treatment, that amount representing the fee chargeable for accommodation in a public ward. However, if a pensioner elects to enter a public ward of a hospital he receives accommodation and treatment without having to pay any money to the hospital. On the other hand, if he chooses to enter a private hospital he cannot be compelled to pay unless he agreed with the management of the hospital concerned to do so. There is no legal power to compel a pensioner to pay for hospital accommodation if he does not desire to do so.
– As an incentive to increased production, will the Prime Minister consider abolishing immediately the remaining wage-pegging regulations?
– Some months ago the Government indicated that when the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1947 was proclaimed there would be a review of wage-pegging regulations. That review is now taking place, and I hope to make an announcement when the new act is proclaimed. I shall communicate the Government’s decision to the honorable member as soon as possible.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Munitions inform me what progress has been made in the construction of Tudor and Lincoln type aircraft, a programme which was decided upon some months ago? Has any such aircraft been converted for commercial use or are they all to be used by the Royal Australian Air Force? Is the department constructing any jet engines of the Nene type?
– I shall refer the right honorable member’s question to the Minister for Munitions and request him to prepare an answer.
– I ask the Minister for “Post-war Reconstruction to state when :the Parliament may expect to receive : from him a report of the International conference on Trade and Employment that was held at Geneva. Can the honorable gentleman say whether the general principles of Empire preference are being maintained? In view of the great importance of the subject in relation to the economy of this country, will he also say whether an opportunity will be given for honorable members to discuss the matter during this sessional period?
– In answer to a question which another Opposition member asked recently, I said that as soon as certain documents had been received from Geneva. I would make a statement in respect of both the Charter of the International Trade Organization and the tariff negotiations which took place at Geneva. Those negotiations have not yet been completed, and until they have been it will not be possible to have a discussion on them.
– What time is- likely to elapse before that stage has -been reached ?
– The documents relating to the Charter of the International Trade Organization have been received, but a sufficient number of them has not been printed to enable every honorable member to .be supplied with a copy. Until that stage has been reached, a debate on the matter would be somewhat premature.
.- 1 move -
That the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker- That the honorable member for Balaclava should resume his seat for continued irrelevance - be disagreed with.
This is rather ancient history. The fault is that of the Government, not mine. The matter arose last June, when Mr. Deputy Speaker refused to allow rae to continue to take part in a debate. I then took the correct parliamentary procedure, by dissenting from his ruling. I direct the attention of the House to the relevant standing order -
If any objection is taken to the ruling or decision of the Speaker, such objection must be taken nt once, and in writing, and motion made, which, if seconded, shall be proposed tn the House, and debate thereon forthwith adjourned to -the next sitting day.
The motion of dissent appeared on the notice-paper for the following day, but the Government passed it by and it was not debated. Consequently, discussion had been held over since last June. This is, therefore, my first opportunity to discuss it. I admit that the importance of the matter has diminished considerably because of the lapse of time. The facts are, that you, Mr. Speaker, in your capacity as the honorable member for Dalley, had addressed the House on the Parliamentary Allowances Bill, which was designed to increase the allowance of members by 50 per cent. I disagreed with the object of the measure, but, you, speaking from the floor of the House-, gave reasons why honorable members should accept the additional allowance. In the course of your address you gave facts about the basic wage having been increased from time to time. You also said that as pensions had been increased there was justification for the allowance of members also being increased. I do not claim to have quoted your exact words but that, I believe, was the purport of your remarks. I received the call, after you, and in the course of my speech I set out reasons why honorable members should not accept the increased allowance. Other honorable members on this side spoke in a similar strain. In the course of my remarks I said -
How can we legislate to grant a benefit to ourselves when anomalies such as that are permitted to continue?
I referred to the totally inadequate pensions of war widows, although since then they have been offered a few crumbs. I continued -
There should be some priority in the rectification of anomalies, and, in my view, the injustice which I sought to have removed should certainly take precedence over the adjustment of the parliamentary allowance.
I drew attention to the fact that unemployed disabled ex-servicemen had a portion of their pension deducted from their unemployment benefits. In order to show how erroneous was the decision of Mr. Deputy Speaker I shall quote further from my speech on that occasion -
Without going too deeply into service matters, one could cite many examples of anomalies that are still permitted to exist.
I then referred to the fact that certain flying corps instructors who were invited to join the Royal Australian Air Force at the outbreak of war and had established certain rights in respect of pay were deprived of hundreds of pounds as the result of a regulation which was tabled in 1943 and had retrospective effect. I pointed out that I had fought their case unsuccessfully in the House, but that, later, judgment in their favour was given by die Supreme Court of New South Wales. I went on to say that, subsequently, the Government took the case to the High Court and had the decision reversed, though with criticism by the judge. ‘ It later announced that it would not accept the decision of the court, but that ultimately it had decided to make an ex gratia, payment to the men concerned. At that juncture Mr. Deputy Speaker called me to order. I then said -
During the course of his remarks the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) who is also Speaker, referred to invalid and okage pensions and other matters of that kind.
– Who was in the Chair at the time?
– The honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), who is Deputy Speaker. He said - 1 have allowed the honorable member considerable latitude. I now ask him to confine his remarks to the bill before the House.
Having again been called to order by Mr. Deputy Speaker, I said -
Let me say that if one is to be circumscribed in this way on a matter which concerns the treatment by the Government of other sections of the community, about which we on this side of the House have some conscience.
Whereupon, Mr. Deputy Speaker again called me to order, and said -
If the honorable member persists in defying my ruling the Chair will order him to resume his seat.
A moment later, after I had introduced another subject, he ordered me to resume my seat. In my opinion, Mr. Deputy Speaker made an honest mistake in thinking that I was continuing to speak on the same subject. A little later 1 objected to his ruling in accordance with the procedure set out in the Standing Orders. I put my objection in writing. The motion of dissent was seconded by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison).
The incident itself is not of great importance, but the principle involved in it, affects all honorable members. If freedom of speech should exist anywhere, it certainly should exist in the Parliament of a democratic country. I believe that Mr. Deputy Speaker acted hastily, due to a misunderstanding; and if he is fair, he ‘ will agree that he did so. I think that he was not following the de bate closely, and did not realize that 1 intended only to touch lightly on certain subjects. On that occasion you, Mr. Speaker, in your address, mentioned certain matters in some detail, and I felt justified in following your example. In order to give the facts associated with this happening, I fear that I must be rather personal in my remarks. Mr. Deputy Speaker is rather inexperienced in the conduct of the House; he has not your experience in the chair, Mr. Speaker. On that occasion, I believe that he acted too hastily, and that his restriction of ihe debate was unwarranted. If he had had more experience I do not think that he would have acted as he did. An incident which occurred in this chamber last night when the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) made a mild interjection
– Order ! The honorable member may not refer to a discussion in committee.
– I am sorry that I am prevented from quoting from the record of last night’s proceedings.
– The Standing Orders prevent the honorable member from doing so.
– 1 mentioned last night’s incident because it was not you, Mr. Speaker, who named the honorable member for Richmond, but the Deputy Speaker. If you were to give to your deputy a little training in the art of controlling the House, he might not be so hasty. After all, he should endeavour to uphold the. dignity of the Chair, as you endeavour to do, to the best of your ability. In a democracy it should be the practice of those most experienced in parliamentary procedure - men like yourself, Mr. Speaker - to follow the best traditions of the parliamentary institution and set an example to the Parliament. If either you or your deputy does not set that example, but, on the contrary, behaves hastily, or does not show that tolerance or allow that freedom of speech which is our inheritance, there is a lack of decorum, and the parliamentary institution suffers. I have never said an unparliamentary thing in my eighteen years of parliamentary life. Tt is true that I speak vigorously and vehemently - and I intend to do so in the future - but some of the utterances made here, which go unchallenged by the Chair, make me wonder whether proper standards always prevail in this place. I shall not say more. I moved the motion of dissent because I believed that an injustice had been done to me. It is the duty of the Deputy Speaker, who is, after all, a recruit Speaker, to say that he made a mistake. I invite him to do so, and thus to follow the example of others who sometimes err. In this instance a withdrawal is warranted. As the honorable member for Darling gains experience he may, in time, prove a worthy deputy to you, sir, in this House.
After I had been ordered to resume my seat the honorable member for Wentworth rose to order. He said -
I have listened with great interest to this debate and have noticed that other honorable members have spoken about the basic wage, widows’ and invalid and old-age pensions and matters of that kind which have some bearing on the attitude of the Government towards certain sections of the community as compared with its attitude towards members of the Parliament as disclosed by the bill now before us. I listened attentively to the speech of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) who endeavoured to link up matters concerning the pensions paid to ex-servicemen with the bill. I suggest that the Chair should permit him to continue his speech. I am sure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the honorable member had no desire to flout the ruling of the Chair.
I invite Mr. .Deputy Speaker to admit that he was precipitate on the occasion referred to and made a mistake.
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) claims that there has been considerable delay in discussing his notice of motion. If there has been any delay, it has been entirely the honorable member’s own fault, as 1 shall show.
– On a point of order. I have been in attendance at every meeting of the Parliament, so I bake exception to that statement. I think the Minister was abroad at the time, so he is not speaking with any knowledge or authority.
– Order ! There must be no more frivolous interruptions, or there will be trouble.
– The honorable member is mistaken. I was in this chamber when the incident occurred. I left Australia only two days before the Parliament went into recess. The incident occurred when I was in the House. The honorable member suggests that there has been considerable delay. If there has been delay it was entirely through the fault of the honorable member himself. The incident arose in this way. On the 4th June last, the House was considering the Parliamentary Allowances Bill, and the honorable member for Balaclava proceeded to discuss the deferred pay of certain members of the Air Force. Mr. Deputy Speaker called upon the honorable member to confine his remarks to the matter before the House. The honorable member proceeded to argue with the Chair, and Mr. Deputy Speaker warned him that if he persisted in defying the Chair by continued irrelevance, he would order him to resume his seat. The honorable member ignored the warning, and proceeded to speak on another matter unrelated to the Parliamentary Allowances Bill. He was thereupon ordered to resume his seat, and he then gave notice that he would move dissent from Mr. Deputy Speaker’s ruling. Standing Order 274 states -
No member shall digress from the subjectmatter of any question under discussion.
Obviously Mr. Deputy Speaker was within his rights in calling the honorable member for Balaclava to order, and since the honorable member did not obey the ruling of the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker was within his rights in calling upon the honorable member to resume his seat. Standing Order 276 is as follows : -
The Speaker may call the attention of the House to continued irrelevance . . . and may direct a member to discontinue his speech.
But the honorable member could have taken action to have the matter determined there and then, because Standing Order 276 goes on to say -
Provided that such member shall have the right to require that the question whether he be further heard be put, and thereupon such question shall be put without debate.
Had the honorable member, instead of giving notice of dissent from the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker, moved that he himself be further heard, the question could have been decided there and then. Had he done so the House, not Mr. Deputy Speaker, would have decided whether or not he could continue his speech. The honorable member did not exercise that right at the time. He declined the opportunity to put the matter to the House, and now he moves dissent from the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker. I submit that the action of Mr. Deputy Speaker was in conformity with the Standing Orders and the practice of the House, and that, moreover, he was doing his duty to honorable members by ensuring that the time of the House should not be wasted. Mr. Deputy Speaker was .-justified in asking the honorable member to resume his seat, seeing that the honorable member had not complied with a ruling of the Chair, and had ignored a further warning. T therefore maintain that the action of Mr. Deputy Speaker should be upheld, and that the House should reject the motion.
– I have just listened to an extraordinary defence offered by the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), the burden- of which was that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) had the opportunity to follow a certain line of action, and that, because he did not follow that line, he had no right to take any other action that was open to him under the Standing Orders. The Minister quoted a standing order to the effect that a member may not digress from the matter under discussion, and he claimed that Mr. Deputy Speaker had acted under that standing order. The Minister then said that the honorable member for Balaclava had the right under another standing order to move that he be further heard. I point out, however, that by this time the matter had gone beyond’ the s’.age of whether or not the honorable member for Balaclava should be heard. The honorable member wished to dissent from the ruling of the Chair because he considered that the ruling given was not a proper one. Why should he ask the House to give him leave to continue his speech, if he believed that the Chair had given a wrong ruling? The Minister said that the honorable member for Balaclava wa9 himself responsible for the delay that had occurred. That statement merely begs the question, because we know that the Government alone has the right to determine the order of business on the notice-paper. The Government, instead of allowing the motion of the honorable member for Balaclava to come up for discussion in June last, deliberately placed it low on the notice-paper in the expectation that so much time would elapse before it was considered that honorable members would have forgotten about it. or that the motion, when it did pome forward for discussion, would not be considered in a proper atmosphere. I well remember the incident, and the heat that it engendered. I remember how the honorable member for Balaclava sought to place another aspect of the matter before the House, and I remember how Mr. Deputy Speaker, with great heat, and with no show of that judicial calm which should characterize the occupant of that office, sought to impede the honorable member. That brings me to another point. We know the great responsibility that devolves upon the Chair. We know that it is the highest position to which this House can. elect one of its members. Theoccupant of the chair has a duty to guard the interests of honorable members, and not of a section of them. He is hot. there to protect the Government, but to protect the rights of all honorable members. Nevertheless, we have often had rulings and decisions from the Chair which, in my opinion, were tantamount to something out of Cole’s Funny Book. I doubt whether there is any precedence to which many of them could be related. You, Mr. Speaker, with your great knowledge of the forms and procedure of the House, should institute a class for beginners for the benefit of chairmen, so that you may instruct them in elementary procedure. I have noticed that when arguments are going against the Government, the chairmen lend to call the speaker to order, to restrict the range of debate, to divert attention, and to allow interjections - behaviour which strikes at the very roots of parliamentary procedure. They do that and “get away” with it because they know that they have the weight, of numbers behind them to support their rulings. Thisis a case in point. I myself have suffered inlike manner. Unless you, yourself, Mr. Speaker, decide to take a hand in the conduct of affairs of the House when you are not in the Chair, proceedings in this chamber will tend to be conducted under “Rafferty’s rules”, and the value of the Parliament as a deliberative assembly will be destroyed.
.- Honorable members opposite make it a practice in debate to discuss any subject except that immediately before the Chair. That observation applies even on this occasion to the remarks of the two honorable members opposite who have just spoken. The fact of the matter is that the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) failed to take the opportunity provided under Standing Order 276 to have this matter determined.
Mr.Thompson. - That is the only effective method.
– Yes ; and that standing order prescribes the proper time for the determination of such a matter. Nevertheless, the honorable member for Balaclava now seeks to obtain a determination on an occasion much later in point of time.
-i gave notice of my motion on the night in question, and it has not been taken off the notice-paper.
– It is not a question of when notice of the motion was given, because, in any event, such a motion could not have been discussed until the opportunity for so doing presented itself, and that would, inevitably, be on an occasion considerably later in point of time. It seems to me that the ruling given by Mr. Deputy Speaker was proper, and, indeed, the only ruling which he could have given in the circumstances. The honorable member for Balaclava should have challenged it in accordance with Standing Order 276. However, to contend, as the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has said, that Mr. Deputy Speaker relies upon the Government to use its weight of numbers to enforce his rulings is to ignore the facts. The time of the House is being wasted in discussing this matter when it must be obvious that the ruling given by Mr. Deputy Speaker was a proper ruling.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) put -
That the question be put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr.White) put -
That the ruling of Mr. Deputy Speaker - That the honorable member for Balaclava should resume his seat for continued irrelevance - be disagreed with.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That Standing Order 280 be amended by adding thereto the following: - “or (4) by leave of the member speaking, to address a question to such member “.
So that the motion may foe understood it is necessary to refer to Standing Order 280 which reads -
No member shall interrupt another member whilst speaking, unless (1) to request that his words be taken down; (2) to call attention to a point of Order or Privilege suddenly arising: or (3) to call attention to the want of a Quorum.
The purpose of my amendment is to add another exception to that standing order which means generally, that complete silence must be observed by all honorable members whilst somebody else is speaking. It is designed to permit an honorable member, by leave of the person addressing the House or the committee, to address a question to such person. This is a matter which I had hoped would be approached by all honorable members on a non-party basis, but from whisperings which came to me at lunch time to-day I gathered that the Labour party met this morning and that caucus decided to oppose this motion. It seems to me to be carrying things too far to make party issues of questions which touch the rights and privileges of honorable members. The purpose of my motion is to bring this Parliament and its rules of debate more in accordance with modern practice and to give to this Parliament real powers of debate. It has become the practice for honorable members, particularly in second-reading speeches to state what they have prepared regardless of the point to which the debate has proceeded and irrespective of whether it bears upon the real issue or not. We have been accustomed to use this House merely as a base for the dissemination of propaganda and not for the purpose for which it was designed, namely, to be a deliberative assembly. My second observation is - and I direct my attention only to Standing Order 280, although many others are equally cobwebbed with age and need to be replaced - that the standing order gives far too much arbitrary power to the presiding officer. I do not direct my attention to the occupant of the chair at the moment, nor to any particular occupant of the chair; I direct it to the general proposition irrespective of who may be in the chair. The standing order prescribes that no member shall interrupt another member whilst speaking, except in three very special and limited circumstances.
It seems to me that this standing order, which to use a cliche, has been observed more in the breach than in the performance for a long time past, has led honorable members to believe, if not with truth, certainly in their hearts, that interruptions coming from one side of the chamber are viewed with disfavour, whilst those which come from the other side are viewed with benevolence. It may be that those on the Opposition side of the chamber who think, with great respect, that that has taken place more than once in the lifetime of this Parliament, may be basing their views on wrong premises. Be that as it may, it seems to me that the appearance of impartiality on the part of the Speaker or the Chairman is just as important as his actual impartiality itself. It is wrong for the Speaker of this chamber to have the right to treat interruptions benevolently in respect of the party to which he belongs, and harshly in respect of its opponents. It seems to me to be of extreme importance that when a Minister is addressing the chamber an honorable member rising in his place should have the right, by leave of that Minister, to direct to him a pertinent question aimed at securing information vital to the discussion, or at keeping the Minister to the issue. That surely is the whole value of debate in this legislature. If not, we may call it a parliament, but it no longer is a parliament.
I direct attention now to the practices operating in other countries. “When I have been overseas T have always endeavoured to take time off to visit other parliaments and see how they conduct their affairs. In the Mother of Parliaments, the provision that I am now seeking has been the practice for a long time. In the Canadian Parliament, No. 24S of the Rules and Forms states -
Whilst a member is addressing the House, no one has a right to interrupt him by putting a question to him . . .
I am not claiming that right. I am claiming the privilege of asking a member who is addressing the chamber to permit me to put a question to him -
We on this side of the chamber contend that it is not for Mr. Speaker to protect a Minister by calling “ Order ! “ A Minister should be prepared to stand in his place and say whether or not he will permit a question to be directed to him. If a Minister never allowed a. question to be put to him, he would very soon be marked as one who had not the courage to meet debate when it arose. That probably is the real reason why this Government will not support my motion. If a Minister has the capacity to argue he will not be afraid of any question that may be put to him. On the contrary, he will welcome questions so that his ability to put his own case may be revealed, and the questions clarified, or his own mind clarified by the pertinence of the observations or questions put to him.
In the United States of America, the House Manual and Digest states -
A member desiring to interrupt another in debates should address the Chair for permission of the member speaking, but the latter may exercise his own discretion as to whether or not lie will yield.
I recall one debate to which I listened in the American Senate. Senator Tydings, of Maryland, was debating the question of overriding the veto of the President on a taxation measure. The Senate proposed merely to alter the date of the coming into operation of certain taxation concessions - a matter on .which Senator Tydings had changed the view that he had held on the previous occasion.
He was explaining why he had changed his view, and to me the debate was most interesting. “While Senator Tydings was addressing the chamber other senators rose from time to time and asked whether he would yield. If Senator Tydings would not yield, the challenger would resume his seat, but if Senator Tydings would yield, the new speaker would say perhaps that the issue of the matter was 30 and so, or - “ the real point I am seeking to make is so and so. Will you answer that?” That practice seems to me to be essential in debate. For many years past the tendency has been for honorable members to come into this chamber with prepared speeches some of which have no real bearing on the issue. One honorable member deals with a particular subject-matter and is followed by another who pea-haps deals with the same subject-matter but ignores the point at issue.
I have before me No. 163 of Vol. 441 of the Parliamentary Debates of the House of Commons, dated the 13th August of this year. A perusal of this report shows how proceedings are conducted in that legislature. I draw attention particularly to a. discussion reported on page 2505. Mr. Pritt, the member for Hammersmith North, was speaking and was dealing with a speech that had been made by the member for Horsham, Earl Winter ton. In the course of Mr. Pritt’ s speech, Earl Winterton rose, stating that as Mr. Pritt was referring to remarks that had been made by him, he wanted to interrupt the speech and put a certain point. He did so and Mr. Pritt resumed bis speech. Later, Earl Winterton again interrupted and said : “ But, surely, this is a completely different, point. I do not think I shall bs giving away an official secret “… Once again Mr. Pritt continued his speech. Subsequently, Mr. Marples, the member for Wallasey, rose, but on that occasion Mr. Pritt did nor, give way. He said, “ No, I cannot give way to the honorable member, I have made no charge against him “. Mr. Marples then resumed his seat. On that occasion, of course, Mr. Pritt was exercising his right in accordance with the forms of the House. As this practice is followed in the Mother of Parliaments, in Canada, and in the Senate of the United States of America - I have not been present at a debate in Congress, but I understand the same procedure applies - why should it not be adopted here?
Earlier to-day it was common talk in the corridors of this building - I heard it from a pressman - that this very matter was debated by caucus this morning, and that caucus decided against my proposal. I invite honorable members opposite to say whether or not that is so. It is a most serious and shameful thing that mere questions of procedure in this House should be made party matters. Is the Government afraid of debate? Is it afraid of an honorable member rising in his place and asking a Minister to “ yield “ so that he may ask a question or state the real point at issue ?. The adoption of this practice in this House is long overdue. For seeking to direct a question to a Minister in the course of a recent debate I was suspended from the service of the House. Our present procedure places far too much discretion in the hands of Mr. Speaker.
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) wishes to amend Standing Order 280 to enable an honorable member who is addressing the House to be interrupted by another honorable member “by leave of the member speaking, to address >a question to such member “. His interpretation of how his proposed amendment if adopted would operate is that if I was speaking, and he wanted to interject, he would rise in his place, ‘ and tell Mr. Speaker that he wanted leave to interject.
– Nothing of the sort! If I rose in my place, the member speaking would know that I wanted to ask a question and would yield or not.
– The honorable member would rise to address a question to the honorable member speaking. I have had long experience of parliamentary Standing Orders and of different men in the chair. Our Standing Orders were not put into operation by the present Government. Except for a few amendments, they have operated for many years. I say with due kindness that it is rather remarkable that, having suffered a penalty for having disobeyed the Standing Orders, the honorable member now attempts to have them altered.
– I thought the honorable member was a bigger man than that !
– If I was not bigger than the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) I should be very small. I prefaced my remark by saying that it was not meant unkindly. The honorable member for Warringah was a member of a government that made no effort to amend the Standing Orders as he now desires them to be amended.
– It was the practice of our administration to accept questions and debate matters.
– I do not object to questions. I am always happy to answer as many questions as honorable members opposite like to put to me. But because interjections do not worry me and are, in fact, welcomed by me is no reason for altering the procedure in the manner suggested by the honorable member for Warringah. Other honorable members may not like to be placed at a disadvantage by being diverted from: their arguments. Having been diverted they may find ‘difficulty in returning to the points they were making when interrupted.
– If we cannot think, we should not be here.
– The honorable member is unable to listen to other honorable members without interjecting. That in itself is a good reason for the retention of the standing order in its present form. Before the honorable member recently got into trouble with the Chair he hardly ceased interjecting. Mr. Speaker allowed him to interject almost interminably. I wondered why he was being given so much latitude. The honorable member said that the Government of which he was a member permitted interjections.
– I said, “Questions”.
– Interjections so frequent as those of the honorable member before his suspension would never have been permitted by whoever was in the chair when his party was in power, f recollect reading recently in a newspaper that in the Senate of the United
States of America, when one senator was speaking, a bright young senator in one of the back seats rose and asked leave to put a question. The senator addressing the Senate, kindly yielded. I forget the exact time it took for the senator seeking information to ask his question, but it was between ten and eleven hours.
– That is an abuse that could be easily dealt with.
– That was certainly an abuse of a privilege. I do not know whether the honorable member has considered the time limit on speeches. With a time limit imposed on honorable members, any honorable member, by the device of asking leave to interject, could occupy unduly a portion of the honorable member’s time. I remind the honorable member for Warringah that he said that if a Minister refused leave to another honorable member to ask a question during his speech, he would show that he was afraid to answer questions.
– I have been misrepresented.
– The honorable member is always claiming that he has been misrepresented when he finds himself “ up against it “. That cuts no ice with me.
– That does not bother me.
– I hope the honorable member will learn to control himself a little when others are speaking, because if he can do what he is now doing in trying to knock me off my perch, what could he not do if the Standing Orders were amended in the direction desired by him ! He would then expect me to sit down and keep quiet while he asked me questions. Unless I knew what the question was to be, it would be difficult for me to say that I was prepared to let him ask it. There would be no sense in a standing order that gave the honorable mem:ber the right to ask a question, with the leave of the member, unless’ the member was prepared to hear the question. Almost the whole time allotted by the Standing Orders to an honorable member to make a speech could be taken up by other honorable members asking him questions. Moreover, an honorable member could be helped if he were floundering byan adroit leading question asked by one of his colleagues. The honorable member for Warringah, as a lawyer, ought to know how easy it is to put a man on to a particular line of thought by means of a nicely worded leading question. The more I look at the proposed amendment, the more it appears to me that instead of helping honorable members, it would obstruct them. My idea of the Standing Orders of this Parliament or any other parliament is that they are to be administered by the Chair for the protection of honorable members to ensure that they shall have the full opportunity to state their views.
– I agree with that.
– The honorable member described the Standing Orders as being musty or mouldy. They may be musty with age, hut, with all due respect to the honorable member, I say that–
– Order ! The debate must now be interrupted under Standing Order 119. Does the honorable member wish to have leave to continue his remarks when the debate is resumed?
Passages ok “ Strathmore “.
Debate resumed from the 6th March (vide page 444), on motion by Mr. Lang -
That there be laid upon the table of the House -
the papers relating to the entry of 200 alien immigrants who arrived from the Middle Bast on Strathmore,
the original applications for permission to enter, together with the recommendations thereon, and
the text of the representations made through Australia House to the British Ministry of Transport which led to the withholding of 200 berths from passengers stranded in England in order to accommodate migrants from the Middle East.
.- This motion was submitted by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) in Novem ber, 1946. The honorable member demanded that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) table in this House certain papers in connexion with 200 alien immigrants who arrived in Australia from the Middle East on Strathmore. Honorable members will recollect that the Minister gave a clear exposition of the circumstances of the case, and that his firm decision not to table the papers had the endorsement of honorable members on this side of the House and also of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). The arguments of the honorable member for Reid were fully disposed of when the Minister said that he would allow the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) to examine the files and that, if they saw anything in the documents which they thought honorable members should know, he would be prepared to present the information to the House.
– Bothright honorable gentlemen saw those files.
– Evidently they saw nothing in them that conflicted with the staternents made by the Minister.
The assertions of the honorable member for Reid when he introduced the motion were proved to be entirely incorrect and I believe that, as the Minister said, the honorable gentleman was merely on a “ muck-raking expedition “ to satisfy his own purposes in connexion with a newspaper and otherventures with which he is associated. In my view, the Minister’s decision not to present the papers to this House has been well justified. He is to be congratulated on his broadminded and capable administration of the Department of Immigration and the sincerity of his efforts to improve facilities for bringing new settlers to Australia. He views the problems of his portfolio in a way which is not often evident in the occupants of important public posts. The Minister is prepared to assist the entry to Australia of all persons whom he knows to be good potential citizens. Moreover, he has a tremendous capacity for hard work. Recently he returned from an expedition abroad where he examined immigration problems, and the result of this journey will undoubtedly be of great value to the nation. I am sure that ultimately its effect will be to create a great flow of immigrants to Australia. In view of his excellent services to the country in this respect, it is very disheartening to find that his work is being continually criticized by such persons as the honorable member for Reid, who has demanded access to confidential files in this instance, merely for his own private purposes. I shall not speak at length on the motion, because honorable members have already shown that they approve the Minister’s actions. However, I should have been lacking in my devotion to duty if I had failed to reiterate some of the statements of other honorable members, including the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and the honorable member for Warringah, who was very outspoken on this subject. I commend the attitude of the Minister and of the Government. I. am opposed to the tabling of the papers in this instance for the good reason that such action would merely reveal to the honorable member for Reid information which he requires for the purpose of “ muck-raking “, which, incidentally, is popular with some members of the Opposition. Publication of the contents of the files would not serve any good purpose but would be harmful to the immigrants concerned, to Australia generally, and to the Department of Immigration.
Motion (by Mr. Falstein) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I wish to speak on this motion.
– The honorable member is not entitled to debate the motion, “ That the debate be now adjourned “.
– This is one of the Minister’s tricks.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Reid wishes to debate the motion, “ That the debate be now adjourned “. Is he not entitled to speak on that motion?
Question put; the House divided. (Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. T. N.Sheehy.)
Question so resolved in theaffirmative.
Debate resumed from the 1st May (vide page 1826), on motion by Mr. White -
That a Joint Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the following: - (a.) theinadequacy of the administration which has been set up under the New Guinea Act;
the failure of the administration to maintain production of essential commodities;
the lack of a policy for the economic development of the Territories which could proceed hand in hand witha progressive native policy;
the unbalanced native policy and its adverse effect upon the natives and upon economic development; and
the unrest which exists in the Public Service in the Territories due to unsettled conditions and the failure of the Government to provide suitable living conditions, adequate classification, and to deal with the high cost of living.
– The Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) has already dealt conclusively with the statements madeby the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) in support of his motion. When the debate was interrupted under Standing Order 119, the Minister obtained leave to continue his remarks at a later date. In his absence-
– Where is the Minister ?
– Hehas been abroad.
– Does the Minister for the Army express the views of the Minister for External Territories regarding the administration of external territories ?
– I am expressing my own views this afternoon. I did not say that I was expressing the views of the Minister for External Territories. Were I not acting for the Minister for External Territories, I should still have the right to express my opinion in this debate on matters pertaining to the administration of Papua and New Guinea.
I welcome this opportunity to give to the House additional information about the steps which the Government is taking to rehabilitate Papua and New Guinea, and to carry out its programme for theadvancement of those territories and their inhabitants. The cardinal points of the Government’s policy are the fullest possible development of the territories, and the social, economic and political advancement of theirinhabitants. However, non-native expansion must be governed by the well-being of the indigenous inhabitants of the territories as a whole.
– I rise to order. On the 1st May last, the Minister for External Territories replied fully to the matters which I raised when I submitted my motion, and even obtained an extension of time. I have not had an. opportunity to reply, yet the Minister for the Army has intervened to continue the debate on behalf of the Government. A speaker from this side of the chamber should have received the call.
– Order! The Minister for the Army rose, and received the call. He is quite in order in continuing the debate.
– While the territories of Papua and New Guinea have undoubted natural resources, the indigenous population is comparatively small, numbering approximately 1,250,000 persons. Before the outbreak of World War II., there was a concentration upon the use of native labour by Europeans, to the detriment of the development by the natives, as individuals, of their own agriculture. The Australian Government is determined to give to the natives an opportunity to advance in their own right, and not be merely individuals employed by non-native agriculturists and industrialists. In order to achieve this objective, the Government must provide full facilities for better health and education, and for a greater participation by the natives in the wealth of their country and eventually in its government. The task of restoring civil administration to an area as vast as Papua and New Guinea would be, in any circumstances, one of magnitude. The territories have been a huge battleground. Nearly every settlement has been devastated, and public utilities, including small ships which are so vital to the islands, have been destroyed. The commercial activities and the organized life of the inhabitants have been completely disrupted. The whole economy of the territories was virtually destroyed during the war. When reading the speech of the honorable member for Balaclava, I discovered that his severest criticism was that the Government and the Minister for External Territories were giving too much consideration to the conditions of native labourers in New Guinea and Papua. He referred to improved labour conditions for the natives, and to the fact that the Commonwealth proposed to expend £’1S,000 upon the erection of a model native village at Hanuabada. Criticism was also directed at the payments now being made to the indentured native labourers. I was in New Guinea from the early part of 1941 until the middle of 1942, which was a. very anxious period in New Guinea, and I witnessed some of the work which the natives did. They are known to Australian servicemen as the “ f fuzzy-wuzzy angels “, and we can never repay them sufficiently for what they did. They gave their lives in thousands, most of their property was destroyed, and they were conscripted and taken from their homes and villages. The natives of Papua and New Guinea were completely at the disposal of the armed forces. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Government to repay them in some- way for the invaluable service which they rendered to the Allies, and to Australian servicemen in particular.
When I first visited New Guinea in the early part of 1941 the natives’ conditions were not good and, generally, their state of health was far from satisfactory. I remember seeing queues of them a mile long at the early morning pick parades.
– A queue one mile long would represent 5,000 men if ; they were in single file.
I Mr. CHAMBERS. - I frequently saw parties of natives a mile long; and if the honorable member knows New Guinea at all he should know that the natives usually walk in single file. They were suffering from serious types of malaria, tropical ulcer’s and other diseases, and it was obvious that before the arrival of the armed forces there had been little provision for their medical treatment. When they discovered that they could receive treatment from the armed forces they came along in hundreds. Their living conditions were bad, and from Ela Beach and other beaches they could be seen returning from the hills where they had been working to spend the night in their lakatois because they had no other accommodation. Lakatois are very small vessels, not as large as a rowing boat. At Port Moresby whole families of natives were living under those condi tions. The only educational facilities available to them was that provided by the missions. Prior to the Japanese bombardment of the country, I saw nativeboys who had been educated at the missions working in the stores of BurnsPhilp and Company Limited and in other places. Those nativespossessed a high degree of intelligence, and it was clear that,, if given the opportunity, they would become an asset to Australia. Many displayed considerable ability and were able to work side by side with British and Australian employees. A white man working at one of these stores received a wage of £4 to £5 a week, or perhaps more, but the native boys did exactly the same work for a wage of 5s. a month..
The Government has decided that this, state of affairs shall not continue, and that if natives are to be employed they must be paid a wage at least commensurate with what they do. It has alsodecided to improve their conditions, and now intends to spend money on the construction of a new village to replace one which was destroyed during the war. It proposes to provide medical facilities and to make available to them educational facilities. Surely no member of this House can condemn the Government or the Minister for External Territoriesfor endeavouring to ensure that thenatives receive the treatment to which they are justly entitled. I do not think it is necessary for me to say anythingfurther, other than to point out that the honorable member for Balaclava was given every opportunity to voice hiscomplaint - in fact he was granted an. extension of time - .and the Minister for Externa] Territories has already explained the position very clearly. Even if the Minister had been present in the House to-day I do not think that he could have made the position’ any clearer. The Government should becommended for its policy in- regard to the improvement of the natives’ conditions, because, after all, it proposes only to giveto them something to which they arejustly entitled.
– I have in my possession letters from the secretary of the Citizens Association of
New Guinea and others who ask that something should be said in this House to express their dissatisfaction at the conditions imposed upon them. Unfortunately, white residents of New Guinea have very little means of making known their complaints, and since they constitute an important outpost for Australia, regard should be paid to their representations. The development of New Guinea by white people is at least as important to the future security of Australia as the welfare of the natives, important though that consideration may be. Although these people are giving their lives to serve in a tropical climate in order to maintain our northern outpost, they complain that their case is not considered at all, and that in their efforts to develop New Guinea they are discouraged by the Australian Government in every possible way.
The only information at present in my possession is that which has come to me through letters which I have received from New Guinea, and at this stage I do not propose to criticize the new system for the employment of native labour introduced by the Government because, frankly, I do not know sufficient about it. For that reason I think that the Government should provide facilities for members of this House to visit Papua and New Guinea in order to obtain a first-hand knowledge of the country - as was done by governments prior to the war - so that they can express themselves in this Parliament from certain knowledge. However, as I lack the opportunity to visit New Guinea, I put forward some of the facts which have been presented to me. Residents of Lae, in particular, are critical of the port facilities, or rather the lack of them. For instance, the secretary of the Citizens Association of New Guinea has written stating that there are practically no facilities for unloading cargo at that port. He points out that when a ship arrives :at the wharf, a good deal of the cargo falls into the harbour because there are no nets or other landing gear, and the unfortunate person to whom the goods are consigned, having already paid duty on them, has to go without the goods, and is then refused a refund of the duty. I ask that this charge be investi gated. So incensed are the white residents of New Guinea that I understand there is a movement afoot to present their case to the Mandates Commission. Surely there can be no greater reflection upon an Australian government than that Australians should consider presenting to the Mandates Commission at Lake Success, in the United States of America, a petition praying that they be protected against the Australian Government. These residents say that they have lost everything. They were chased out of New Guinea by the Japanese. Some of the planters lost their lives in fighting a vanguard action against the invader. It was they who took the first blow. Those who survived found their way to Australia, where some took jobs in factories and munitions works, while others joined the armed forces. When the war was over, and the battle won, they returned to New Guinea, and found bomb holes where their homes had stood. They found their plantations overgrown by jungle. One man told me that, so complete was the devastation ‘in his area, that he could not even identify the spot where hi3 home had been. Since their return, it has been explained to me, a good many of them have been living on the payments received from the War Damage Commission as compensation for the loss of their homes, plantations, &c. Thus, they are being compelled to eat into their capital. Many of the children and young people who have returned to New Guinea were born there. They are the very best kind of citizens that we could have in such an area. However, the people are becoming discouraged and heart-broken. Indeed, they must have reached the ultimate in despair when Australians speak of going before the Mandates Commission in the hope of receiving fair treatment. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), and the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward), who, unfortunately, is not present because of his visit overseas, have said much about looking after the natives. Of course, it is our duty to look after the natives. No one in this House wants to see the natives improperly exploited, but there should be a measure of realism in regard to the natives, who must still go a long way before they are educated and civilized, and before they reach the position where they can be treated in the same way as white men. The white settlers in New Guinea are trying to establish plantations for the production of copra, coffee and rubber, commodities which are necessary to Australia, and they should be encouraged by the Australian Administration. This is necessary if New Guinea is to be developed, and if the natives themselves are to be civilized, but the development of New Guinea cannot proceed without adequate supplies of native labour. Australians certainly will not go there to work on copra plantations. Therefore, the planters must rely on a reasonable supply of native labour. I agree that the natives should be properly paid, but they should be paid in accordance with a standard expected by the natives themselves. The plantations cannot be successfully worked if the natives are virtually unionized, and put on a 40-hour week. I do not say that these things are actually being done, but they are indicative of the kind of thing that is taking place. For instance, native workers may not now be kept on a plantation for more than twelve months. At the expiration of that time, they must be sent back to their own villages, whereas previously workers stayed with their employer for several years. It is claimed that a native is not of much use on a plantation for the first few months; yet now, by the direct order of the Minister, he must be returned to his village after twelve months’ service. It is said that the native has the option of returning to the plantation to work again, but any one familiar with native custom knows that once the workers on a plantation are dispersed it is very difficult to get them back again.
I am not sufficiently informed on this subject to be able to speak with the authority I should like. My information has come to me from communications sent by organizations of settlers in the north, who have selected me, and some other honorable members of this House, to speak for them because of the interest we have displayed in their affairs over the years. I demand that the Government should give more sympathetic treatment to these people, upon whom Australia depends to maintain our position in New Guinea. How can Australia claim first title to a mandate over New Guinea if we are not prepared to develop the country? And how, I ask, can the country be developed except by white men and women from Australia who are prepared to spend their lives in the tropics? In order to induce them to do so, they should be assured of a greater financial reward than might be considered appropriate for those who remain in the capital cities of Australia. They are not getting that treatment. Under the present administration they are regarded as exploiters. People who have developed Papua and New Guinea are scorned and insulted by the Government, instead of being encouraged. I ask for a different approach to the problems of these territories. It would be of tremendous advantage if facilities were provided to enable as many members of the Parliament as are interested to visit New Guinea to study conditions there on the spot, so that they may be able to decide what measures are called for. I suggest that a committee consisting of members of all political parties should visit New Guinea.
Motion (by Mr. George Lawson) put -
That the debate be new adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
WAYS AND MEANS. (Grievance Day.)
Banking : Nationalization - Official Publication : “ This is Australia “ - Maritime Industry Commission - Legislative Programme - Public Service: Reduction of Staffs - Agricultural Machinery - Wart racknabeal Power Alcohol Distillery: Use of Site - Motor Vehicles: Black Market - Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen - Mail Services : Air Transport1 - Armed Forces: Discharges - “Wheat : Homeconsumption Price - Visits Overseas by Mr. F. M. Daly, M.P., and Senator Amour - Sydney “ Daily- Telegraph “ : Political Cartoons - Mr. T. T. Lang, M.P. - Queensland Shipping Services - Primary Production.
Question proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of Ways and Means.
, - I have with me in the chamber a number of books, some of which have been published recently. Yesterday, [ received from the Government of Canada a book entitled The Canadian Official Hand-book and to-day I received from the Australian Government a hook with the title This is Australia. I shall compare the two publications. I believe that everything that any one can reason ably desire to know about the Dominion of Canada is contained in its official hand-book - a volume of 264 pages, with a good map, the whole being printed on Canadian newsprint at the cost of so many dollars. The Australian book contains 400 pages, and is well illustrated. It also is made of Canadian newsprint at the cost of dollars.
First, I shall deal with the treatment of the different capital cities of Australia in This is Australia. If ever bias was shown in an official publication, it i.= shown in the treatment of Australia’s capital cities. Canberra is given two pages, and is shown partly in colour. It will be more coloured when I have finished speaking. Sydney is honoured with six pages. One page suffices for Melbourne and also for Adelaide. Brisbane has been allotted two pages, one of which, perhaps significantly, if coloured red. Two coloured pages are devoted to Perth. Hobart has one page, as has Launceston.
I now turn to the most amazing statement that I have ever read in connexion with banks. The first bank mentioned is the Commonwealth Bank; after it, there is a. reference to savings banks and then two pages are devoted to the trading banks of Australia. I cannot believe that the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) saw this volume before it was printed. He and that other great democrat, the Minister for Transport (Mr-. Ward), were, away from Australia when the decision to nationalize the banks was made. What does the Minister say about the trading banks in this publication? I shall read his testimonial to the trading banks so that every word may appear in Hansard. It reads -
The system of trading banks in Australia ha? developed into a group of large banks, of great financial strength with networks of branches all over the country. In fact, the branch system is as typical of Australian banking as it is of banking in Scotland, where it originated. In the early life of Australian banking few branches were established; in fact, in 1850 Australian banks had only nine branches between them. In 1893, on the other hand, they had 1,4T0 branches, and continued development brought the number of branches to well over 3,000 before the present war. In many difficult periods in Australian banking experience the branch banking system hae shown its strength and resilience.
During the 1931 depression, for instance, none of the established banks failed-
That is a great tribute to those banks - in marked contrast with experience in the United States, a country which relies mainly on “ unit “ banks. Another feature which has contributed to the strength of the banking system is the size of the individual banks nf which it is comprised. This feature is an effect, to some extent, of the process of amalgamations and absorptions which began (lin ing the 1014-18 war, and reduced the number of Australian trading banks from twenty in 1S117 to nine in 1931. While this process has given thu Australian banking system greater strength than ever before, it has not impaired the keen competition between the banks which is necessary to ensure good service to the public at minimum cost.
That is the testimonial of the Minister for Information, that repository of truth, wisdom, and excellence. I continue the quotation -
Another characteristic feature of Australian hanking is the particularly high level of reserves which the banks maintain. Branch luinking, it is true, permits the concentration nf reserves and so increases their effectiveness, but large reserves have proved necessary in Australia because a big proportion of bank advances are made to primary producers. Fluctuating prices or seasonal vagaries may at any time force these people to seek assistance from their bankers - generally many of them at the same time. Substantial reserves enable banks to “ carry on “ their customers through bad seasons. Without such reserves: this would bc impossible. Another feature typical of Australian banking is the overdraft system. Under this system the banks do not provide a fixed loan, upon the whole of which interest must be paid, a.? would a mortgage bank, but establish an agreed limit up to which a customer’s account may be overdrawn, and charge him interest only on the actual daily debit balance of his account. This is especially suited to Australian requirements. Many borrowers have wide seasonal variations in their need for accommodation, so that they pay much less interest under the overdraft system than they would under a system of fixed advances. A wool-grower, for example, may receive only one payment a year for his flip, while his expenses are fairly evenly spread over the season. Moreover, he might find it hard to meet the repayment instalment of a fixed loan in a bad season; an overdraft, on the oilier hand, can vary according to the borrower’s needs from season to season, with no fixed repayment schedule. As already mentioned, the trading banks invest a substantial portion of their resources in loans to primary producers. They provide, not only the shortterm seasonal finance, the working expenses connected with preparing for and growing a crop, or with running a sheep property, but in many cases a substantial proportion of the primary producers’ fixed capital. This means that, bank advances, though technically repayable on demand, are in actual practice considerably less liquid than bank loans in countries where this system is not in operation. In the same way many manufacturers and traders obtain not only working capital but also a proportion of their fixed capital by borrowing from their bankers. This practice, though not universally favoured in other countries, has been proved sound and valuable in. Australia.
I shall not read the rest of it.
– Read all of it.
– I have no objection .to doing that, if it should be the desire of the House. I have a strong suspicion that on occasions such as this there ought to be in this House a stand such as bandsmen have for holding their music, or one of those things which 1 have seen in European cathedrals, to which the Bible was chained in mediaeval times, so that a book of this size could be rested upon it; because, although my physical condition is not bad, and my physical proportions are above the average, it is physically exhausting to me to stand up and read from this volume for 10 or 15 minutes. I should rather carry wheat, or stack hay, or struggle with half-grown calves. However, in deference to the wish of some honorable members, I shall proceed with the quotation - lt has been facilitated to some extent by the fixed deposit system which Australian banks maintain, paying interest on deposits which are lodged with them for fixed terms of up to two years. The assurance that a large proporton of his deposits are fixed for a reasonable period enables the banker to extend his advances into fields of less liquid lending than he would feel safe .in doing otherwise.
Then follows in special type, in black Setters, the words “ Post-war Developments “, which subject is dealt with in these terms -
Bank lending in Australia, as in other countries, has been, as a general practice, against adequate security, although there have always been some exceptions to this rule. In recent years, however, several trading banks have begun to develop unsecured small loans, called “ personal loans “, as a definite department of their business. They have already helped thousands of people, who, with no security to offer, have needed a small sum to meet some sudden expense. There should be a considerable field for development of this type of loan after the war, not only to meet sud) unexpected expenses as hospital and doctors bills-
I understood that those were to be cared for by the social services scheme of the Government; consequently, I cannot see the need for that reference - but also to finance the purchase of consumers’ durable goods - refrigerators and the like-
The Government’s banking legislation might well be put into the refrigerator for some time -
Somewhat .similar to “ personal loans “, in some respects, is the financing of small industrial ventures. Many such enterprises hare failed to get a start because the security they Iia ve been able to offer has been unattractive to ordinary lenders.
– Do not stress that.
– This is what the Minister for Information says is the post-war job of the. trading banks.
– Sent out with his compliments
– Exactly. The quotation continues -
Undertakings with good prospects of success, in spite of their lack of orthodox banking security, should offer a fruitful field for extension of post-war lending.
On the part of the trading banks, mark you -
The banks have always provided funds for housing, both by advancing money to homebuyers and by financing the operations of builder*. There is now a. very wide scope for expansion of this type of finance.
That is the statement of a responsible Minister on the future of the trading banks, delivered to members of the Opposition this very afternoon. This is the last paragraph, and it, too, is introduced in very heavy type -
Current Legislation. No review of the Australian banking system would be complete without a. reference to the banking legislation recently passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. The legislation divides roughly into three classes. The first is designed to make permanent the war-time controls over the trading banks. It covers such matters as foreign exchange control, the fixing of interest rates for banking transactions, and the advance policy of the trading banks. In addition, credit policy generally is to be controlled- by means of a system of “ special accounts “ in the Commonwealth Bank in which the trading banks can be required to place funds coining into their hands through increases in their deposits. The second feature of the legislation is the abolition of the Commonwealth Bank Board and with it the status of the bank as an instrumentality independent of the Government and responsible only to Parliament. Instead the bank is to be controlled by a Governor who is to be aided by an Advisory Council, but subject to direction of the Commonwealth Treasurer in matters of policy. Thirdly, the functions of the bank are to be expanded by the establishment of special departments to make loans for housing and for loans to industry. In addition the Commonwealth Bank is to be directed to seek general banking business actively. The technical efficiency of the trading hanks is not in question;-
Mark that - the matter is fundamentally one of control.
Not ownership, but control -
The trading banks have shown themselves to lie seriously perturbed by the legislation. lt will probably be some time, perhaps many years, before its full effects on the Australian banking system can be judged. Although the new legislation introduces an element o: ti n certainty as to the direction oT post-war development in banking, some lines are reasonably clear. Housing finance will provide a greater outlet than before the war for bank funds, while personal loans - small loans without security - are a comparatively new development which should expand. One thing is certain, that the banking system will, in the future, provide effectively for the financial needs of Australia.
All that was put under the heading of Trading Banks “, with a sub-heading “ Current Legislation “ in bold letters. If ever there was a more damning document presented to honorable members on a proposal which is to be the subject of legislation in the near future, I have never heard of it. What I have read is published under the authority of the Australian Government. Look at the carton in which this volume has been sent to us. Any one would think that it came from the Department of Social Services as a container for free medicine. Let us compare the cost of this book with that of the publication issued by the Canadian Government. The latter was circulated in an ordinary envelope. I should like the Minister to answer some questions. Can he tell us, when he gets time to settle down after his great adventures overseas, what it cost to publish this book? Secondly, will he try to find out from the Canadian Government the cost of its book? Further, I should like to know the extent to which Australia’s dollar resources were called upon to pay for the material involved in the production of this book. I should also like so- know who was responsible for inserting* in the hook the statement on trading banks which I have just read.
– A best seller!
– No, it is being given away. It is one of the few things which the Minister for Information will always regret having given away. Who is responsible for inserting that article on trading banks in the book ?
– The Minister was.
– I shall tell honorable members when I have an opportunity to speak.
– I do not know whether the Minister is nodding or just shaking his head.
– I am merely indicating that I shall finish off the honorable member in a few minutes.
– I am asking for information from, the Minister, and, apparently, he has all the inf ormation at his disposal.
– The honorable member should have asked me those questions bef ore he started to talk about the book.
– Not only must we know who was responsible for compiling that article; but it is also something which the Government must stand up to, because the Government cannot go to the country saying that it is in the public interest and essential to nationalize the trading banks of Australia, and, at the same time, publish an article of that kind, which is the most fulsome eulogy of the private banking system of Australia that I have ever read. If it had been prepared at the headquarters of the Bank of New South Wales, or the Union Bank, or if the gentleman who prepared the statement quoted by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) which was blown out on Tuesday was put onto the job, they could not have produced a better eulogy of the private banking system. This calls for a lot of explanation from the Minister for Information.
– The honorable member . for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has succeeded in making himself look very foolish this afternoon. He has delivered a tirade entirely on supposition. If he had turned to the first page of the book he would have read that it was produced and edited by Oswald L. Ziegler with the collaboration of the Australian Department of Information, and with the cooperation of the Australian Government and the State Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia. Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. He would have seen that it was published by Oswald L. Ziegler in. association with Gotham (Australasia) Proprietary Limited, Sydney; designed by Gert Sellheim; wholly set up “ and printed in Australia by Bloxham and Chambers Proprietary Limited and W. E. Smith Limited, Sydney. The photo engravings are by Morris Proprietary Limited, Sydney, Hartland and Hyde Proprietary Limited, Sydney, Bacon and Company Proprietary, Sydney, Photoengraving Art Company Proprietary, Sydney, S. A. Best Proprietary Limited. Brisbane, Queensland, S. A. Best Proprietary Limited, Newcastle, New South Wales, Gibney and Son Limited, Perth, Photo Lithographic and Engraving Company Proprietary Limited, Sydney, whilst the blocks of wild flowers were loaned by S. H. Lamb Printing House, Fremantle. The photographs were supplied by the Commonwealth Department of Information, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, Public Relations Department of the Army, Public Relations Department of Air, Rural Bank, New South Wales, Land Newspaper Limited, Sydney, the Daily Mirror and Truth and Sportsman Limited, Sydney, Country Life, Sydney, Pix, Sydney. The Poultry Newspaper, Sydney, Woman’s Weekly, Sydney, Woman, Sydney, Melbourne Herald, Melbourne Sun. Melbourne Argus, and Melbourne Age. And there follows a long list of names of organizations and institutions which collaborated in the production of the volume. That is proof that this publication was the result of a combined effort of private enterprise in collaboration with all the governments of Australia.
– On behalf of the Government.
– It was not produced on behalf of the Government of Australia at all.
– With other governments.
– I was approached by Mr. Ziegler, on behalf of this private company in New South Wales, the chairman of which is Mr. E. C. Sommerlad, M.L.C., a member of the Country party in the Legislative Council of New South Wales, and asked whether the Department of Information would assist it to publish a standard, or an excellent, work on Australia, because it was felt by many people in Australia and overseas that we did not have a really first-class work on Australia to sell, or to give, to those seeking information about this country. I agreed to assist. I supplied pictures, as did the various people that I have mentioned. The Governments of Western Australia, South Australia, . Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania bought two or more pages in the publication, and’, as a result, pictures of The capital cities in those States were displayed in the volume. The Government of New South Wales bought more pages than the other State governments. The Australian Government paid a subsidy of about £250 in respect of the production. The whole enterprise was financed by the company I have mentioned, and the publication cost many thousands of pounds to produce. It has been placed on the market and is selling at 18s. a volume, whilst the de luxe volume is being sold at £3 3s. The American and British publication rights have already been sold by Mr. Ziegler and his friends. All of the profits made will go to the entrepreneurs responsible for its production, [n consideration of the assistance given by the Department of Information and other Commonwealth departments, and in return for the small subsidy we made, the company contracted to give u.s several hundred copies of the publication. I received these in due course and, as a matter of courtesy, sent copies to every member and senator with my compliments. Was there anything wron? with that? Can anybody who can discuss the matter intelligently tell me where I have erred ? The trading banks purchased copies from the company. The story of the trading banks was written by the banking organizations themselves; .the story of the
Commonwealth Bank was written by officials of that bank. I regarded it as the function of my department to help publicize Australia, both through the instrumentality of the department itself and in collaboration with all people of good will. I do not care what the trading banks have to say in their own defence. If they liked to buy space in a publication which we helped to publish for the purpose of bringing new people to Australia, and new industries to this country, and of telling the world more about Australia, they were entitled to use that space as they wished. In assisting the publication of this book, I think I have done a. worthwhile job for Australia. J leave the unrepentent “penitent” writhing on the horns of the dilemma of his own creation.
.- The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) has just made the most astounding statement I have ever heard from the lips of a Minister of the Crown. This morning, members of this Parliament received as a gift from the Government, sent to them with the compliments . of .the Minister, a copy of the book This is Australia. I received my copy at about lunch time. Yet at 5.30 p.m. on this same day the Minister repudiates many of the statements contained in it. To make certain that people will believe the book to be about Australia there are photographs first of the King, then of the former Governor-General, the Duke of Gloucester and his family, and finally of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), together with an introduction by the right honorable gentleman, under the Commonwealth coat of arms, inviting people to come to Australia, and saying, in effect, “ These are the things you can expect to find here; these are the things that make Australia attractive “. The right honorable gentleman concludes his statement by saying “ I have great faith in the future greatness of this country. Those who feel they can share that faith are welcome here “. On pages 44 and 45 there appears a statement by the Minister for Information headed “ Sinews of Society “, in which the honorable gentleman attempts to set out what Australia can provide. He repeated in that statement many of the things he has been saying overseas when asking people to come to Australia. He invites people to come to this country where there have been tremendous developments. What has made these tremendous developments possible ?
– The wise administration by Labour governments.
– If the honorable gentleman will look at the statute-book of this Parliament he will find tha.’; a few years after a Labour government has gone out of office not one statute passed by it has remained unamended. The Minister for Information goes on to point out that this development has been made possible by private enterprise, and then he says, in effect, “ This is what we offer you ; this is what we ask you to come and enjoy “. Not one suggestion was made in the long extract read by ‘the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) relating to the trading banks that the private banks would be completely eliminated. People are being attracted to Australia under false pretences. Why are these statements broadcast to the world if they are not true ? The Department of Information has contributed money to enable this publication to be produced. It provided all the paper on which this publication is printed.
– It did nothing of the kind. It did not provide the paper.
– The Government must have provided the dollars to enable the paper to be procured. What right has the Government to sponsor a publication, ostensibly an official document containing photographs of His Majesty the King, a former Australian Governor-General and the Prime Minister, and containing statements by Ministers of State, and then say, “ We do not believe in some of the statements contained in this publication. Much of what is contained in it is only so much baloney ‘ “. What is stated in the publication in regard to the trading banks is undeniably true, and that is why it was published. Those statements could not be faulted in any respect. The statements concerning the trading banks amply demonstrate how necessary are the private banks to the preservation of our way of life. I invite honorable members to read the War History of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia which was published in June of this year. In page after page of that history frequent reference is made to the co-operation and patriotic assistance rendered by the trading banks to the war effort. The disclaimer now voiced by the Minister constitutes the most ungenerous statement I have ever heard. Notwithstanding that his department made a contribution to the cost of producing the book, no sooner had it been issued than the honorable gentleman says, “ I do not believe one-half of the things contained in it “. If that be so, what reliance can we place on other publications bearing the imprimatur of the Minister? This publication has been sent out to the world, which assumes that the statements contained in it are made in good faith. If they are bona fide statements why should the Minister endeavour to repudiate them? Why should he now cover himself by saying, “Somebody else wrote them. I did not even see them “. Is it right that the honorable gentleman should come to the Parliament and say in regard to a publication of this kind, “ The statements made on pages so and so are not true “. Surely this is the most extraordinary statement that has ever been made by a Minister of the Crown in any Parliament of the world. No one else would have the effrontery to deal with the matter as the honorable gentleman has done.
It is perhaps worth while taking this opportunity to say something about the idea circulated throughout the country by various members of the Labour party that to get “ oodles “ of money by way of overdrafts that will never be called up we have only to commandeer the trading banks. We are all aware of the pitiful cases brought before this Parliament simply because the rigid rules made by the Repatriation Department and War Service Homes Commission have been infringed. Let us consider for a moment a report published in May last by an important bank, the Rural Bank of New South Wales. The report states -
Borrowers in financial difficulties due to circumstances beyond their control were extended every consideration in accordance with the bank’s usual policy and only when there was no hope of a settler’s rehabilitation was action taken to exercise powers as mortgagees.
However, where through neglect of securities or for some other reason it was considered necessary to protect our interests, the bank did not hesitate to take appropriate action.
There were 700 liens executed in favour df the bank during the year under review and proceeds collected under this form of security totalled £309,812. In accordance with our usual procedure, which has met with the approval of all interested parties in the past, an amount of £195,375 was distributed from the proceeds collected.
Circumstances rendered it necessary to call up the loans of 21 borrowers during the year. The bank was in possession, as mortgagee, of nineteen properties as at June 30, 1940, of which one was leased with option of purchase, three were available for private sale, the remainder having been withheld from sale for various reasons.
The sales of 38 properties were completed during the year and three holdings were declared forfeited and reverted to the Crown, dross losses totalling £29,311 were incurred, hut this contingency was provided for at the end of the preceding year. In addition to the sales which were completed, contracts for the sale of 34 properties were current and in process of completion as at 30th June, 1946.
Dealing with advances for homes, the report states that during the year it was necessary for the bank to repossess only three properties and that at the 30th June, 1946, the bank was in possession of 343 securities on which money was owing. I should not condemn any bank for that. When a bank seeks deposits, it must offer security and must give a promise of proper and efficient handling of accounts. Whatever justification there may be for the nationalization of the private banks, it is a poor argument to say that people will have money shovelled out to them in the manner suggested. There has not been any more hardship at the hands of the private banks than at the hands of the government-controlled institutions. I am glad that the honorable member for Barker has taken this opportunity to place on record the story of the private banks published under the imprimatur of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), and carrying a photograph of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), apparently the article reveals exactly what they feel in their hearts.
Before resuming my seat, I wish to refer to another most important matter, f ask the Government why the Maritime Industries Commission, which, so far as I can gather, has no statutory authority, should have the right to impose industrial conscription upon the people of this coun- try. The commission certainly has no authority to do so from this Parliament and if it has any .such authority from a State parliament it should not exercise it, because the workers with whom it is concerned are subject to Commonwealth arbitration laws. Recently, the commission dismissed four marine engineers who had dealt legally with a fireman. These engineers have been excluded from their industry and have had all chance of earning a livelihood taken from them. Looking into the history of this commission, I find that it has taken similar action with firemen and seamen. I understand that the waterfront dislocation that has arisen recently is due entirely to the commission’s dismissal of the four engineers. Surely it is not right that men should be excluded from an industry in which they have spent their working lives and upon which they rely for their livelihood. I understand that Judge Kelly is to inquire into this dispute, and I put it to the Government that one aspect of the matter to which particular attention should be directed is the origin of the Commission’s powers to say to an employee, “ You cannot practise your profession or trade in this conn-try “. Surely that is of the essence of industrial conscription and direction; but that is what has happened according to statements published repeatedly in the press during the last four or five weeks and, so far as I am aware, not denied. An explanation of this matter should be forthcoming. If it is necessary that this power should be exercised, then let us tackle the problem properly as it has been tackled in Great Britain, where Sir Stafford Cripps has been given certain statutory powers. It is a matter for this Parliament and not something that should be done behind our backs.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 to S p.m.
.- The conduct of certain members of the Commonwealth Parliament while abroad has raised very grave issues, and those issues demand the immediate attention of this Parliament. They involve their attitude towards the public purse. Matters of high principle and public probity are at stake. It is my considered opinion that certain members have disqualified themselves under the Constitution and are no longer competent to remain as members of this Parliament. Before a member can qualify to sit in the House, he must satisfy certain conditions, and one of those conditions is that he shall hold no office of profit under the Crown or have any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Commonwealth. The purpose of that provision is to act as a safeguard against corruption of the Parliament. At the same time the Constitution lays down that members shall receive an allowance, that allowance to be fixed by the Parliament. But that was to be the only reward and’ the only remuneration that a member can receive for his services to the Parliament. That was the clear intention: that no member shall be corrupted by being offered a reward for his vote or his services while he is a member of the Parliament. This principle is set out in section 45 of the Constitution, which states -
If a senator or member, of the House of Representatives - (iii. ) directly or indirectly takes or agrees to take any fee or honorarium for services rendered to the Commonwealth, or for services rendered in the Parliament to any person or State: his place shall thereupon become vacant.
That provision is fundamental to the parliamentary system. Yet, in recent months, it has been violated, not once, hut many times. The Government has introduced the system of rewards for private members. If they support the Government in caucus, they get a plum or reward.
– What sort of plum?
– They are given a trip abroad. While abroad a private member has all his expenses paid. He draws fifteen dollars a day for living expenses.
– Absolutely untrue !
– The honorable member will have his chance later. In addition, the Government pays his hotel expenses and transport. So the private member who gets a trip is better off while he is outside Australia than while he is in Australia. He is in receipt of an indirect honorarium for services rendered in the party room. By accepting a re ward, he disqualifies himself as a member of the House. What occurred inside caucus about the Bretton Woods Agreement provides proof of the way the Government is violating the Constitution. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) was defeated in caucus over Bretton Woods. Then certain members were given trips abroad and others were ‘ promised trips. They then voted for Bretton Woods, and one eminent member of this House, who was opposed to Bretton Woods, came out complaining that he had been defeated by the tourists of the party. We had the case of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly). He voted for Bretton Woods. So he was given a trip abroad to attend a transport conference at Geneva. He travelled by air. That took three days. The conference lasted ten days. Then, instead of returning immediately to Australia by the quickest possible route, he went sight-seeing in Europe. He told us the other night that he was in North Italy. We read about him in Paris. He spent a month in England, and then proceeded to Canada and the United States of America. Had he returned immediately after the conference ended, he would have been away from this country for less than one month. Instead, he was away for five months. And during that time he charged all his expenses to the public purse. He lived in the best hotels at the people’s expense. He used up that commodity that we cannot get - dollars. He visited the tourist cities of the Continent. That was the honorable member’s reward. That was his indirect honorarium for his services to the Government within the party room.
By accepting it, I assert that he has disqualified himself and, under the Constitution, should not remain a member if this House. The intention of the Constitution is crystal clear. The same principles apply to members of this House as should apply - I use that qualification advisedly - to the judiciary and to every other branch of our legislatures. Before any private member can accept one penny piece from Consolidated Revenue for any purpose whatever, it must be clearly set down as a specific appropriation approved by the Parliament. That is provided in section 48 of the Constitution. Ministers of State are paid salaries. Under the
Constitution, private members receive an allowance. The full amount of that allowance must be set down in an act of Parliament. Members are entitled to that allowance and not one penny more. That is provided in the Constitution under which we live and under which this Parliament governs the country. That is why I have raised this question here to-night. In no circumstances, by any government, or by any person, must that Constitution be warped as it has been in regard to the matters that I have discussed.
– As “ Grievance Day “ gives private members an opportunity to speak on all subjects, and as we seldom have a “ Grievance Day “ owing to the intervention of some item of government business, I propose to take full advantage of my privilege to-night and air many grievances which we on this side of the House have against the Government. As honorable members are aware, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) had given notice of motion that government business should take precedence over private members’ grievances to-day, but, owing to certain circumstances, he withdrew the notice of motion, and so we are now able to exercise our right to discuss such matters as we have in mind. During this debate we have been told about all sorts of tours around the world. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang), for instance, has described the journeys overseas of honorable members on the government side of the chamber. I do not wish to refer to such matters. I do not wish even to refer to the world travels of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), or to say anything of a personal nature on the subject. I believe that I should concentrate on matters nearer home. It is interesting to hear about world tours, but the Government should attend to urgent local problems. It has plenty of scope for that at present.
One grievance which I place high on my list relates to the Government’s practice of rushing legislation through the Parliament as the end of each sessional period approaches. Sometimes it has forced as many as a dozen bills through this House in one night. Some of those measures were of great importance to the nation. The Prime Minister’s practice is to tell honorable members, in the last week of a period, that they must finish their business programme by the Friday of that week, with the result that a list of important measures often has to be passed within a period of 24 hours. No business institution in Australia would conduct its affairs in that way. It indicates poor management, and the Government should realize the fact. The sooner it does so and brings down legislation at reasonable intervals, the better it will be for Australia.
– The Opposition parties have done likewise in the past.
– That does not affect the justice of my case. The practice is wrong, and, as I have repeatedly said, “ two wrongs do not make a right “. If a practice is wrong, we should try to rectify it. Everybody knows that fifteen or twenty bills were rushed through this House at the end of the last sessional period and that the Government allowed only a few minutes to debate each, so that many of us had no chance to discuss them at all. The procedure is bad, and we should correct it, whatever precedents there may be.
As usual, I have something important to say about the wheat industry. My grievance in this connexion arises from the way in which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) has been evading questions that I have asked him in this House. Honorable members will recall that I asked a question in’ relation to the home-consumption price of wheat and pointed out the necessity for raising this price to conform with the present Australian standard of values. I asked that question in a simple way, but the Minister either misconstrued it or deliberately avoided a direct answer by referring to the export price. Everybody who takes an intelligent interest in the newspapers is aware that a mass meeting of wheat-growers was held at Warracknabeal recently. Goodness knows, these primary producers are a great asset to Australia. The meeting resolved to support the Australian Wheat Growers Federation scheme for stabilization of the industry. Subsequently I asked the Minister whether he had heard of the meeting and, if so, what he intended tq do about the resolution. He replied that he had heard of the meeting but that, as he had no official information about the wording of the resolution, he could not deal with it then. Later, a copy of the resolution was sent to him and I repeated the question. Once again he avoided giving a direct answer. To-day, in the House, he again avoided the question, and referred to the homeconsumption price. The wheat-growers are obliged to accept a low homeconsumption price, and the Government will not adopt a genuine - I say “ genuine “ advisedly - stabilization scheme. I shall briefly review the home-consumption price. Honorable members opposite are constantly referring to the export price of 17s. a bushel, and try to forget that the home-consumption return to growers is approximately 4s. a bushel at sidings. Last night, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) tried to distract attention by stating that we cannot mould the politics of Prance with wheat at 16s. a bushel. That remark had nothing to do with the subject which the committee was considering at the time-
– Order ! I am sorry to interrupt the honorable member when I am under fire, but I remind him that he will not be in order in referring to happenings in committee.
– The homeconsumption price of 5s. 2d. a bushel at ports is completely inadequate. The Government is always harping on this figure, and some people in the cities and in some country towns believe that the grower receives this amount whereas, in fact, he averages approximately 4s. a bushel at country sidings. The homeconsumption price was fixed in 1938. Since then, Australia has experienced nine years of war and peace. During that period, our basic values have advanced by from 50 to 100 per cent., but the home-consumption price for wheat has remained stationary. You, Mr. Speaker, will agree that, in 1938, the price of 5s. 2d. a bushel at ports bore some relation to Australian current values. To-day, that price is completely inadequate. I shall illustrate my contention with an example. If a farmer sold a bushel of wheat in 1938, the proceeds would purchase a duplicate part for a machine. If the farmer sold a number of bushels of wheat, he could buy a suit of clothes, which is just as much a wheat-grower’s equipment as a tractor is. If he sold more bushels of wheat, he could buy a tractor or a motor car. What is the position to-day? To purchase the duplicate part, he requires two or three bushels of wheat, and three times as many bushels as he needed in 1938 to buy a suit of clothes. To purchase a motor car or a tractor, he needs twice as many bushels as in 1938, but the home-consumption price remains the same.
– He needs five times as many bushels of wheat.
– That is rather an exaggeration. The wheat-grower is in a different position from other primary producers. For example, if a man had 400 fat lambs in 1938 and they fetched £1 a head, he could purchase a motor car costing £400. To-day, 400 fat lambs will bring £2 a head, and he can still purchase a motor car costing £800. In other words, the price of fat lambs and wool is keeping in relation to present-day costs. But the price of wheat has remained stationary, and this Government will not stand up to its obligation to wheatgrowers to raise the price. What is the explanation of the Government’s attitude? Wheat-growers throughout Australia are asking this question. The answer is that an increase of the price of wheat might result in an increase in the price of bread by perhaps Id. a loaf, and the supporters of the Government would not like that. They are looking for votes, and, consequently, they are prepared to sacrifice this .vital primary industry. Wheatgrowers are left to manage as best they can.
The old story of the stabilization scheme need not be retold now. The Government’s scheme was not acceptable to the wheat-growers. The Wheat Growers Federation has put forward a plan which is fair and reasonable, but whenever I ask questions about wheat stabilization, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture avoids the issue. He does not want to say “ No “, and he will not say “ Yes ‘”.
That describes how he is acting. He takes the middle course of avoiding the issue, and we do not get anywhere. I speak on behalf of a large number of wheat-growers, because the electorate of Wimmera is a great wheat-producing area. Wheat-growers have .not had a fair deal from the Government. If the Government would send a representative to a mass meeting of wheat-growers at, say, Warracknabeal, the Minister would be able to meet them and hear their views. I issue to him now an invitation to accompany me to one of the wheatgrowing centres in Wimmera, and disruss the position with farmers.
– Will the honorable member pay the Minister’s expenses ?
– That is a reasonable question. If the Minister will come r shall pay his expenses, although I make the condition that he travel with me in my 1935 model car and not in one of the new Buicks which the Government has purchased. That is a fair offer. He will meet a large number of wheat-growers who are clamouring for better conditions. Those who were responsible for the provision of “ Grievance Day “ in this Parliament must have had in mind the necessity to provide honorable members with opportunities to raise such vital subjects as I .am discussing this evening. Honorable members opposite know that the injustice which wheat-growers are now suffering should be corrected, but government policy precludes this from being done. Any government which will not protect this section of primary producers will be responsible for lowering the standard of living.
I did not speak in the general debate on the budget because I have been suffering the discomfort of .a sore throat which some honorable members contract in Canberra, but I take this opportunity now to deal with some of the matters which I intended to discuss earlier this week. One of them is the necessity for full production. This subject has been debated in the House on numerous occasions. The Government emphasizes the need for full employment. A few days ago, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), in reply to a question, stated that the number of unem ployed throughout the Commonwealth, was just over 4,000 persons. Of course, the computation is based on the number of persons who apply for unemployment relief. In the same way, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr.. Dedman) calculates the number of exservicemen who have been satisfactorily rehabilitated in industry. The Minister for Labour and National Service claimed that the number of persons who had applied for unemployment relief were the only ones which had not been satisfactorily absorbed in jobs. That is ridiculous. Even so, Australia has almost achieved full employment. I concede that. Pull employment is a worthy objective, but it is not worth anything to Australia unless it is closely related to full production. Throughout Australia, men are employed in all kinds of non-productive work. The figures which the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. Fadden) read to the chamber a few days ago show conclusively that government departments are increasing their staffs. I should like to know whether the Government, if the present boom period does not continue, can still keep so many men in nonproductive employment. Is it the duty of the Government, at this time when there is an opportunity to place every man in productive work, to maintain men on non-productive work?
– Is not the honorable member continually asking for more postal facilities?
– Many honorable members are asking for increased postal facilities, but at the same time, we ask for other things which are, perhaps, even more necessary. Full production should be our aim, and we are not attaining it. We have almost achieved full employment, which, of itself, is not particularly advantageous to the country. But what is the real situation? The fact is that there are far too many people engaged in non-productive work. In saying that I do not refer to the public servants employed in departments like that of the Postmaster-General, or in the railway systems, who have played their part in the administration of this country; I refer to people employed in departments created during the wa:r. The existence of many of those departments has been quite unnecessarily extended during the post-war period.
– “What departments are they?
– Mention was made of one of them in the book to which the honorable member referred to-day, namely, the ‘ Department of Information. If some of the departments created during war time are necessary to-day, they are certainly overburdened with staff. If 33 per cent, of the persons employed in those departments were dismissed the efficiency of the departments would not be affected, but, on the other hand, it would have the effect of releasing a considerable number of people for employment in productive work. I have spoken to a number of men employed in Commonwealth departments which came into existence during the war, and I know that most of them would welcome a change to productive work, provided that change were made on just terms. There is no permanency for employees engaged in non-productive work. That kind of work cannot last, and unless individuals have a “ cushy “ job they realize that their future is insecure. In any event, in a progressive country like Australia, we cannot afford to have people wasting their time in easy, nonproductive jobs. It is time that the Government reconsidered its policy in regard to the departments I have indicated.
Possibly the worst example of “ rehabilitation “ is afforded by the Government’s policy of giving temporary employment to ex-servicemen in government departments. If this country is to enjoy freedom and real prosperity the departments to which those men are being appointed must go ; and when they are abolished - and I cannot understand how they can continue to function much longer - then these unfortunate men will be thrown on to the labour market. Now is the time to put things right and to place those men in productive work.
The other side of the picture is not so pleasant. The men who are doing the real work in this country to-day, namely, the primary producers, are unable to obtain machinery and implements to carry on the all-important work on which they are engage* . During the present year they have been unable to obtain even harvesting machines. I am continually receiving letters from primary producers, complaining bitterly of the shortage of farm machinery, but as soon as I bring them to the notice of the Government, its Ministers raise their hands and say, “ That is private enterprise “. But how cam we get along without private enterprise? Because of the Government’s misguided policy in regard to man-power, the primary producers cannot get the machinery which they so sorely need. No private concern would tolerate such a shortage of equipment, but because the Government and its departments are a huge monopoly the situation continues. When manufacturers and distributors of farm machinery are asked why they cannot supply machinery, their invariable answer is that the shortage is due to lack of. manpower. No wonder there is a lack of man-power in industry ! But there is no lack of man-power in government departments of the kind to which I have referred.
Since I have been a member of parliament I have had occasion to visit a number of Commonwealth departments, and in many cases I have found the staff behaving like bees in a disturbed hive, running about doing nothing. I know that the policy of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is to discourage the maximum production, because his theory is that if the necessities of life are available in too great a quantity we might have another depression. Of course, that theory is a ridiculous one. The simile of the bee-hive which I used might also be applied to the collection of excessive taxes. If one robs a bee-hive twice in the winter the bees will either die or become so weak that they cannot produce any honey. On the other hand, if one allows them to produce to the limit they swarm out of the hive in the summer, fly over the land and multiply. The lessons of nature, which have stood the test of time, are still true to-day. The services of men cannot be harnessed in a non-productive economy without diminishing, if not actually preventing, prosperity.
I am pleased that the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (Mr. Dedman) is in the House at the moment, because I intend to say something about the power alcohol distillery at Warracknabeal. All sorts of conjectures have appeared in the press as to the future of that undertaking, and although I have asked the Minister several questions regarding it he has never been able to give a satisfactory answer.
– I can tell the honorable member something about it!
– Then why has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) not done so? I am the member for the electoral district in which Warracknabeal is situated, and although the Minister admits that he can tell me something about it, he sits there in blissful silence!
– Order! The Minister has to sit there in blissful silence because he is not permitted to answer the honorable member’s question at this stage.
– I shall certainly ask a question to-morrow morning about the matter, and I am sure a lot of people will be anxious to hear the answer. The distillery undertaking has as an adjunct about 1,200 acres of land, and local people naturally want to know what is to happen to that land. Apparently, no one but the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture knows anything about it; but I have, at least, nailed some one at last who does know something about it! Then there is the matter of the plant and machinery. What is to be done with that? The local people are concerned that something should be done; but, in my efforts, as their parliamentary representative, to find out >what is to happen to it I have not received the slightest co-operation or assistance from members of the Government. The only information which I have received came from an officer of a government department, whose name I do not intend to reveal. I sent a telegram to this gentleman in Perth, and he had the courtesy to reply, giving me some information. I can assure my constituents in Warracknabeal that they will obtain all the information it is possible for me to extract in regard to this matter.
Another matter about which I intend to say something is the scandalous black market which exists in the sale of motor cars. What is the Government doing about that? It is significant that the moment members of the Government thought that there was a black market in meat the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully), who was then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, made an effort to suppress it, although his efforts were not successful. Every one knows that it is impossible to buy a motor car unless one buys it on the black market. About one car in a thousand is sold honestly. I bought one of the few last January, and I am prepared to furnish any information concerning that transaction. When I was present at a meeting in the Wimmera district recently a man said, “ There is only one car in a thousand which one can buy at the pegged price “ ; and I was able to say, “ Yes, there is one outside the hall “. Are members of the Government simply closing their eyes to this disgraceful state of affairs? What do they intend to do?
– Perhaps they are going to nationalize the sale of cars?
– The present situation in regard to the disposal of motor cars affords a fair idea of the effects which nationalization of banking will have when it is introduced. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) is evidently an expert on this kind of thing, but I should imagine that he would prefer nationalization of money 1 I have not addressed myself to-night to the subject of banking, because I believe that the right time to do so will be when the legislation for the nationalization of the banking system is before this House. Then, Government and Opposition members will not have any doubt in their minds as to where I stand.
I wish to refer briefly to the singleunit farm proposition in connexion with the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. The electorate of Wimmera does not, over the whole of its area, lend itself to group settlement, but is admirable for settlement in the form of single unit farms. The men who fought for Australia were given a great welcome home when they returned to this country. The words “welcome” and “home”, when used in conjunction, are probably as expressive as any two words in the English language. What has happened since those welcomes were given? Most of the men have been told : “ If you want to settle on the land, go down into the cow country “. The reason is that the Commonwealth Government has determinedly set itself against single-unit farms.
– That is not true. The State Government can provide singleunit farms whenever it likes to do so.
– I have said that the Commonwealth Government has set itself against single-unit farms, and has determinedly refused .to put any finance into the proposition. The scheme propounded by the State Government demands the payment of a deposit of at least 10 per cent, of the purchase money, and in most instances 20 per cent, or more is asked. That, of course, is the business of the State; I am not trying to dictate its policy. Under group settlement, an ex-serviceman can go on the land even though he has no money. Because there is not a group settlement in a certain area, why should an ex-serviceman who has no money be debarred from going on the land in his own district? Everybody must admit that is the district in which he should be settled. He knows the conditions, he has some knowledge of values, and he has friends or relatives who will help him; but he cannot go- on the land there unless he has a rich father who will find 10 per cent, or 20 per cent, of the purchase money. It is high time the Government adopted a proposition under which a strict valuation would accompany the purchase of a single-unit farm. In addition, a portion of the burden of the payment should be borne by the Government, along the lines that are adopted under the group settlement scheme. I am not trying to gain any party political kudos. I know many of these men and have met them on countless occasions. One man at Nullawil, in a very important wheat-growing district, said to mie : “ I have been waiting for settlement here for six months, and have been unable to get it. At last I have obtained a job down at Geelong. My wife, my two children and myself are going there, because we have a chance of getting a house.”
Mr. Falstein interjecting,
– The honorable member for Watson would like all the people to be crowded into the cities, especially in his electorate. That is not what is needed in this country. Only by giving the men a chance to rehabilitate themselves, and enabling them to produce, shall we be able to do anything to benefit them personally and the country as a whole. Much more could be said about this matter, but the time available to me is not sufficient to enable me to elaborate.
Recently, the Postmaster-General (“Senator Cameron) gave a very broad hint that, all mail matter might shortly be carried by aeroplane. In this age of air travel nothing short of that should be tolerated. An article published in the new Sunraysia Daily refers to the MilduraMelbourne mail service in these terms -
Recently the Sunraysia Daily made a strong . plea for the carriage of all first-class mail matter to and from Mildura by air, at ordinary postal rates. The need for a daily mail service has also been urged by the Mildura Chamber of Commerce.
It must be remembered that Mildura is a city and admittedly it needs a good mail service. The article continued -
Emphasizing the inadequacy of the present service is an experience by Mr. R. D. Elliott. C.M.G., chairman of directors of Sunraysia Daily. On Monday he received in Melbourne a copy of last Thursday’s issue of the paper, and by the same mail was delivered to him a letter from London, also despatched on Thursday.
There is something wrong when the transmission of mail from London to Melbourne takes no longer than from Mildura to Melbourne, seeing that both Mildura and Melbourne are in the State of Victoria. The article went on to say -
Even when it is conceded that newspapers are treated as second-class mail matter, the above incident indicates a farcical situation, and should impress upon the postal authorities the imperative need for an improvement in Mildura’s mail service.
Finally, I want to refer to a question which recently I asked the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), from whom I received a reply; hut the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), in response to another question, was given the answer that I wanted, namely, that if a man who had deserted from the Army in 1944 now surrendered to the authorities he would be given a dishonorable discharge and his deferred pay, and could walk away free. If a man broke into a shop in Canberra to-night, and was not apprehended until twenty years later, he would still have to stand his trial. As a crime, breaking into a shop in Canberra would fade into insignificance compared with desertion from the Army at a time when Australia needed the services of all its men. “Why should a man who deserted his comrades, perhaps on the field of battle, be given his discharge and deferred pay? I cannot understand the attitude of the authorities.
– He would be given a dishonorable discharge, and would suffer many penalties. He would be deprived of all benefits.
– But he would receive his deferred pay. The point that 1. make is that he would walk out a free man.
– With a dishonorable discharge.
– He could tear that up, and throw it into the first rubbish bin he came to. While these men are being given their deferred pay, ex-prisoners of war cannot obtain the payment that I have sought on their behalf on many occasions. War widows get only a mere pittance - insufficient for their needs. No one can understand the actions of the Government.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Toil night honorable members have listened to one of the tirades of personal abuse for which the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) is notorious. Following his usual practice, both in this House and elsewhere, the honorable member paid little attention to the truth. Instead, he indulged in vile and unsubstantiated insinuations, and generally carried on in the traditional fashion which has brought him ill fame. He spoke of rackets, racketeering and rewards for services rendered. Those are things that the honorable member knows all about. Ho has always posed as an advocate of the nationalization of banking, He accepts his rake-off from the private banking institutions for their advertisements in his newspaper against the nationalization of banking. .1 say these things to let the people know the type of individual who makes these charges. He is recognized as the greatest racketeer of all time in Australian politics. He is a traitor to the Labour movement and its principles. Indeed, he may be termed the arch “ rat “ of the movement. This is the man who says that members of the Labour movement in this Parliament have been bought off by promises of trips abroad ! After making general insinuations of this kind the honorable member singled me out for special attention. He made a bitter personal attack on me. I propose to answer his charges, and to show honorable members and the people of Australia how illfounded and incorrect they are. I shall! reveal to them the type of individual who takes every opportunity to besmirch everything that the Labour movement stands’ for.
I shall deal, first, with the charge that I had voted for the Bretton Woods agreement because of a promise by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) that the reward for my vote would be a trip abroad. The public should know that the Prime Minister is not in a position to promise any member anything of this nature. The Labour party is a democratic party, and is conducted on democratic lines. Every matter that comes before caucus, whether it be proposed legislation or a trip overseas, is decided by a majority vote. Members of the Labour party, unlike the honorable member for Reid, accept the verdict of the majority. I make no secret of the fact that I supported the Bretton Woods agreement: but I supported it long before I dreamed that I should be selected to represent Australia abroad. Without being promised anything I was selected by a ballot conducted by my party to go abroad. The honorable member has indulged in his usual practice of making vile and unfounded statements. He has done so with the deliberate intention to besmirch the reputation of individual members of the Labour party, notwithstanding that he knows full well that Ite cannot prove his charges. I make’ noapology for having stood for selection, or for my activities while abroad, which- I shall explain to the House. The honorable member says that any member of the Parliament who receives any money from the Government that is not authorized by law should be disqualified from sitting in the Parliament; yet that does not stop him from collecting 22s. 6d. a day when absent from his home, although the payment is not authorized by any statute. The honorable member then went on to speak of air travel by members. He sits for four or five hours in a train when travelling to and from Sydney because he is not game to travel by air. He has never had a flight in anaeroplane. He values his hide more than the speed and comfort of air travel. I confess that in one respect I agree with him, for I am not particularly keen on air travel. It was for that reason that I returned from England and America by ship.
The honorable member also said that members who travel abroad receive 15 dollars a day living expenses, in addition to having their hotel expenses and transport costs paid. Either that was a guess or some one gave the honorable member wrong information. I shall explode his first bomb - the charge that I accepted 15 dollars a day for living expenses during the entire period of my absence by reading from the instructions given to me by the Department of External Affairs prior to leaving Australia -
Allowances payable while on official duty -
In the course of my visit abroad I was in receipt of only 10s. a day for about eight weeks. These facts are a complete refutation of the honorable member’s lying assertions. He went on to say that all my expenses were charged to the Government in my absence. I assure honorable members that a considerable proportion of my expenses came out of my own pocket. The honorable member’s assertion was based on hearsay, without any effort to ascertain the facts.
Another charge levelled against me was that I went away to attend a conference on inland transport which was to last ten days. It is true that I attended a conference dealing with inland transport, conducted by the International Labour Organization at Geneva, hut it lasted for more than ten days; it commenced on the 22nd April and ended about a fortnight later. Following that conference, I, in company with representatives of employers and employees, attended a further conference of the Coal Committee of the International Labour Organization as the representative of the Government. That ‘important conference lasted a fortnight. These two conferences occupied a month, so that the lying statement of the honorable member for Reid is disproved. I was accused of taking a long time to do a trip to Geneva which the honorable member said he could complete in three days. My answer to that charge is that I was booked by the department to travel on a flying-boat which took nine days to take me to London, and I reached Geneva eleven days after leaving Sydney. I was in London only one day when I left for the conference, travelling by way of France. Again, the honorable member’s assertion is false. As the rest of the statements of the honorable member for Reid were of a similar character, they can he dismissed.
The honorable member wanted to know what I was doing in the various countries I visited. I shall satisfy his curiosity. I attended conferences at Geneva which lasted a month. In due course, a report on those conferences will be submitted to the Government. At the conclusion of those meetings I went back to London, via France, in which country I undertook some work for the Minister for Information and Immigration (Mr. Calwell). Following that, I did. similar work for the department in Brussels. Reports on my activities will be submitted to the Government later. In London I discussed my work in these countries with the Minister personally. I also ‘Undertook a survey of the housing situation at the request of the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon). That survey included the inspection of a number of prefabricated houses, advanced methods of producing homes, and houses erected and in course of erection.
One activity which interested me immensely was a visit to the coal mines of Wales, in conjunction with members of the British Coal Board, and of the Department of Labour and Industry. This visit enabled me to compare mining conditions in Wales with those in this country. I inspected certain industries, notably the Ford motor works, in order to study their methods of production, and their conditions of employment. I visited Ireland on business for the Departments of Information and Immigration. I make no apology for saying that any member of this Parliament, who is fortunate enough to be chosen to represent Australia abroad, should take full advantage of the opportunity in order to widen his . knowledge and experience. I should have failed in my duty to the Government, to the Parliament and to the people if I had failed to take the opportunity to study conditions in Great Britain, the heart of the Empire, especially at this time when conditions in that country are of so much interest to Australia.
In accordance with the general practice, which was usually followed by members of all parties, I came home via the United States of America, where I did certain work for the Departments of Information and Immigration. I studied the American scene in the same way as I studied European and British conditions, and availed myself of the opportunity to increase my knowledge. I remind honorable members that some years go Sir Archdale Parkhill went to Cairo to attend a postal conference, and came home via England and the United States. From America, I travelled home by ship, because I prefer that method of travel, as does the honorable member for Reid. I see no need to apologize to the honorable member for Reid for having been chosen by my party to represent the Government, and my work on behalf of the Govern ment will bear any investigation. I dismiss entirely the criticism of the honorable member for Reid. He cannot see further than his nose. Indeed, he. has never been further than a hack street of Auburn. He is the most isolationist member of this House and, because of his narrow and warped point of view, deplores any achievement by the Labour party. During my trip I gained considerable knowledge, and I believe that I am now better fitted as a result, to serve the Parliament and the people. I have now made a full and proper explanation, and I leave it to the good sense and good judgment of honorable members, irrespective of the party to which they belong, to dismiss altogether the biased, irrational and unsubstantiated charges of the honorable member for Reid in regard to my activities abroad.
.- I regret to intrude upon this- atmosphere of domestic bliss, but the forms of the House give us an opportunity on private member’s day to speak on a variety of subjects. Although I have been interested in listening to the travelogue of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly), I must confess that it appears tome that a lot of money was spent unnecessarily upon his trip. I also believe that alot of money was wasted on this publication which I hold in my hand, This isAustralia. On private member’s day thedebate is often disjointed because of the variety of subjects dealt with, but on this occasion the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) found it necessary to return to one of the first topics raised in order to defend himself against the charges brought by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). If _ I remember rightly, the Minister claimed that this is not an official publication, that it did not receive the imprimatur of the Department of Information. _ He said that it was purely an advertising medium in which certain interests bought space. That is very interesting, because if one can prove that he publication has been endorsed by the Department of Information, one would expect that department to honour its endorsement, just as a person who endorses a. cheque is required, if need be, to honour his endorsement. The Minister skimmed lightly over the name of the producer of (his publication and those who had collaborated in its production. He- said .that the book had been produced and edited by Oswald L. Ziegler, with the collaboration of the Australian Department of Information, and with the co-operation of the Commonwealth Government and the State governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia,. Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. He then went on and spoke &l the publisher, the designer and the printer, and he read out a long list of those who had supplied photo engravings and photographs, and that was all he said. That might seem comprehensive, but’ there was no value in it in relation to the arguments advanced by “the honorable member for Barker. 1 have in my hand a publication issued by the Canadian authorities, and it is stated therein that the book was published by ;the authority of the Honorable James MacKinnon, Minister of Trade and Cus toms. Then it is stated -
Special articles deal with “ The Pulp and Paper Industry in Canada “ and “ Canada’s Place in the British Commonwealth ot Nations “. These are the result of cooperative effort between the editorial staff and recognized authorities - Dominion, provincial, or private.
The producers acknowledge the articles used, and take responsibility for them because they have endorsed the publication. They also thank those by whose courtesy photographs were made available. There are two full columns of names under this heading, and they are in the same category as the long list of acknowledgments read out by the Minister for Information. It is interesting to note the meaning of the word “ collaboration “ as set forth in Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary. Webster gives the meaning as follows : -
The act of collaborating or working together. ‘United labour.
That, of course, has no reference to the Australian Labour party. In the Oxford English Dictionary the following definition is given: -
United labour; co-operation, especially in literary, artistic or scientific work.
In the production of .the book under” consideration there was co-operation between the’ Department of Information, the State governments, and contributors, and several acknowledgments are made. Indeed the Commonwealth coat of arms appears on the front inside cover of the book. That, in itself, indicates, that the volume has been endorsed by the Government; otherwise, the Commonwealth coat of arms would not be used in that way. Each of several articles bears the coat of arms of the respective States, that is, the imprimatur of the respective State governments. Thus it is clear that those articles have been endorsed by the various governments, which must take full responsibility for them. The volume also contains articles written by certain individuals, including “ Civic Development “ by Mr. Roy Hendy, Town Clerk of Sydney ; “ Music and the Arts “, by Dr. Arundel Orchard; “Australia on the Air “, .by Mr. T. W. Bearup ; “ Building “, by Mr. T. J. Cavanagh; and “ These, Our Tasks”, by Mr. C. R. Hall, Secretary of the Chamber of. Manufactures, New South Wales. All of these articles are endorsed by name; and when an article is not so endorsed, one is justified in inferring that, it must have been written in collaboration with the government department concerned, and, that being so, must have been endorsed by that particular department. We find no less a person than the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) among the contributors to the volume. 1 have no doubt that he will endorse the articles “ Treasury “, “ Taxation “ and “Banking”, because those subjects come within his sphere as Treasurer. We also find that the Minister for Information has written a preface entitled, “ Sinews of Society “. It is a preface to the whole series of articles contained in the volume, including the article “ Trading Banks “. The Minister’s preface makes interesting reading. For instance, he writes -
Even a stroll among the bushland wildflowers is an experience never to be forgotten.
In the article, the Minister becomes quite lyrical; but I suggest that, like the flowers that bloom in the spring, his arguments to-day have nothing whatever to do with the statement made by the honorable member for Barker. I shall now deal with the article on trading banks which has given rise to this discussion. I know of no more damaging statement that could be made at this juncture on behalf of this irresponsible Minister.
– As the honorable member’s remark is unparliamentary, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. This Minister lacks responsibility in this particular instance, because he disclaims it. Repeatedly, at odd moments, he seems to say the wrong thing on matters of government policy, and then claims that he has been misrepresented when he i3 taken to task. He then tries to blast the press out of existence because they dare to expose him. In reply to the Minister’s defence, I shall read extracts from the article. The article is rather interesting. One of the articles preceding it is entitled “ Finance “, of which a subarticle is- headed “ Treasury “. I venture to say that nobody would dare to publish such an article with those titles without the endorsement of the Treasurer. Would any one dare, without the endorsement of the Government to publish articles under those titles in a book of this kind on matters that are of such importance to the Government at a time like this? The article on trading banks is also preceded by an article entitled “ The Commonwealth Bank “, and that page is embellished with the coat of arms of the Commonwealth, which, consequently, must have endorsed it. That article is followed by an article entitled “ Savings Banks “, which carries the coat of arms of the State Savings Bank of Victoria. Surely, it cannot be said that that institution did not endorse that article! Then follows the article entitled “ Trading Banks “. It is not endorsed, but it is to be assumed from the preface to the volume that it has been written in collaboration with the relevant government department. The article reads -
In many difficult periods in Australian banking experience the branch banking system has shown its strength and resilience. During the 1931 depression, for instance, none of the established banks failed, in marked contrast with the experience of the United States a country which relies mainly on “unit” banks.
Honorable members opposite have said over and over again that the trading banks have failed to do that very thing. Yet this article, written in collaboration with the Minister’s department, presents one of the best defences for the maintenance of the trading bank system that could possibly be presented. The article continues -
Substantial reserves ‘enable banks to “carry on “ their customers through bad seasons. Without such reserves this would be impossible.
How often have we heard honorable members opposite say that in bad seasons the trading banks foreclose on the primary producer? If they took note of the reactions throughout the country at the moment they would readily realize what the primary producers think about the trading banks. Only on Tuesday last 1 addressed a meeting at West Maitland which was called to protest against the Government’s. proposal to nationalize the trading banks, and that meeting was attended by over 1,400 people. In that article, the Minister for Information has stated an absolute truth ; but he is now running away from it. Among the other contributors we find the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). Do honorable members opposite say that that Minister will not accept authority for the article bearing his name? Another article is contributed by the ex-member for Capricornia, Mr. Forde, who is now High Commissioner in Canada. Do honorable members opposite say that he does not accept responsibility for that article? The arguments of honorable members opposite on this matter are poppycock. If words mean anything, these articles have been written in collaboration and co-operation with, not only the Department of Information, but also the Commonwealth Government and also the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. We are informed of that fact in cold, hard print. How does the Minister for Information seek to get around that fact? He read out the names of all the contributors of photographs and photo-engravings. That was all he did, except to say that certain space in the volume had been purchased by certain interests who had contributed articles.
– Including the private banks.
– I thank the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) for the interjection. He always helps me in debate. He says, “ including the trading banks “. Does he mean to tell me that under the endorsement which this volume carries, that is, the endorsement of the Commonwealth Government, the Department of Information and the various State governments, those authorities would consent to anything being published in this form which the trading banks would wish to have published but with which they did not agree ? No.
– Would the governments I have mentioned, or any of their departments, permit any policy with which they did not agree to be enunciated in this form under their endorsement? It is useless for honorable members opposite to talk such rubbish. In the journalistic world it is a principle that when space is bought in a publication of this kind, articles published in such, space are indicated to be advertisements. I do 1101 see any label of that kind here. None of the articles in this volume is labelled as advertising matter. Of course not. If space in the volume was purchased by the Government of New South Wales, I could understand it, because there is an endorsement; if it was purchased by the civic authorities, I could understand it, because there is also the endorsement of such authorities; but I cannot be convinced that there is no endorsement by the Commonwealth Government of these articles.
– Liar !
Mr. Holt. - I rise to order. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, ruled that the honorable member for Wentworth was not in order in using the expression “ irresponsible Minister “, on the ground that it was unparliamentary. The honorable member for Watson keeps audibly interjecting that the honorable member for W entworth is a liar. Does the Chair allow that?
– The Chair did not hear the word “liar “.
– Everybody else did.
– All 1 can hear is the noise being made by the honorable member for Wentworth and some interruptions by the honorable member for Watson. I cannot hear what the honorable member for Watson is saying. If he has used the expression complained of, I ask him to withdraw it.
– In deference to you, Mi-. Deputy Speaker, I withdraw it.
Mx. HARRISON.- I am not concerned with the observations made by the honorable member for Watson. I know his prestige, standing and veracity. Statements made by him do not concern me one iota. The ethics governing the production of literary matter demand, as honorable members must know, that advertising matter must appear in print as such. If printed matter is not identified as advertising it is regarded as “straight” matter. Following the preface written by the Minister for Information appears a series of articles which deal with treasury and taxation matters which must have been sponsored by the Treasurer, because the information which they contain is not within the knowledge of a lay writer. Then follows an article dealing with banking which must have been endorsed by the Commonwealth Bank. It seems to me that, although the Minister sought to mislead the House by reading a series of acknowledgments of photographs and photographic engravings, and then said, “ The space was purchased “, when the whole trend of the publication, page after page shows the Government’s endorsement of the matter covered in it, the House can only assume that all of the articles, particularly those articles related to the mysteries associated with treasury and taxation matters, were written and printed in collaboration with Ministers, and that, once again, the Minister has made an unfortunate mistake.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) has displayed a great deal of heat and occupied a long time in attempting to present a case, but he has not even convinced himself that he has made a case in relation to the matters to which he has referred. We still find that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) remains decapitated. In all my experience I have never seen anything so much like a weak little chicken walking to the woodheap, knowing that the axe was there and laying his head on the block, waiting for the final swoop of decapitation. I wonder that a man of the experience of the honorable member for Barker should do such things; but it is not the first time that a man has been geared up by the press to put over what seemed to be a good story, this time that the Government had supported the trading banks, that it had written a book which purported to give some credit to the trading banks. The story would be rushed to every edition in the country and the honorable member was to be the great discoverer. In fact he was so excited over the prospect that he threw a book worth 17s. over his shoulder, and it is not like a Scotsman to do that, particularly the honorable member for Barker.
– That is a stupid statement.
– I am dealing with a stupid subject and with the stupid statements made by the honorable member. It waa obvious that the whole thing was stage-managed - the tearing apart of the brown paper, the throwing away of the string, all that egotistical exhibitionism for which the honorable member is famous. His attack on the Minister was in extremely bad taste, because he is always fawning On the honorable gentleman and chasing him round the corridors of this building. Notwithstanding that, he had the temerity to come here with this “ phony “ story, knowing it would be printed.
– Order ! If the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) does not behave himself he will be put out of the House.
– -I shall not stand for this nonsense.
– Before the honorable member for Barker was so capably dealt with by the Minister he thought he was on a good “ stunt “ and acted like a child, which was surprising to me because he is a. man of such great capacity and experience..
– For God’s sake do not give me a reference!
– I do not. think a reference would “ stick “. I have no intention of giving the honorable member a reference; I shall give him the bare minimum of his deserts. In this case there was deliberate collaboration to get a story in the press which would not be in line with the facts. Why, only a few minutes before he made his speech, the honorable member was seen talking to representatives of the press in the corridor outside this chamber.
– The press knows the truth.
– It is apparent that this story was “ cooked up “ by the press, and that the honorable member for Barker “ fell for it “. Junior to him as I am in years of experience in this House, 1 advise him not to . be “ sold a pup “ by pressmen and not to father a press story. It is bound to be illegitimate. If there was in this loaded story an intention to damage the Minister, who is one of the most honorable members in- this chamber, and the Minister told the honorable member it was a lie he could well believe it as such. The article on the trading banks was obviously written by a bank clerk, because it is not even good journalism. The honorable member for Wentworth talks about the flowers that bloom in the spring; this article was so obviously propaganda for the banks that no one would possibly believe it to be otherwise. The story told by the Minister needs no reiteration. The story which the Minister had produced-
– Then the Minister did produce the article?
– I can see that the honorable member for Wentworth would like to fasten upon the Minister responsibility for the whole of this production. Even if the honorable gentleman had written the book it was at least a finely worded piece of literature. The contributors to the book were expected to write their contributions in their own way. If the Minister had asked a contributor from the trading banks to set out in writing his ideas of private banking, it might be just as artistic but untrue as a story setting out the ideas of the honorable member for Wentworth on the subject of democracy. The Opposition has endeavoured to make political capital by reflecting upon those responsible for this publication; but the attack has been a “ phoney “ attack from the outset. It was intended to be a stunt newspaper story, but it has failed miserably. The defence offered by the honorable member for Wentworth and his colleagues was pitiful. As usual the honorable member loaded every statement with cliches. Last night, when I was ill and listened to the Parliament on the air, the honorable member made an utterly stupid statement four or five times, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has said. I assume that, having made it four or five times, the honorable member for the Northern Territory eventually understood it.
To-night, the honorable member for Wentworth spoke of collaboration, and he licked his lips over the word because he himself is a collaborationist. He likes to think of collaboration in its fascist sense. So, rather regretfully he said to the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), “You are a collaborationist” no doubt thinking all the time “I wish I had half your luck”. The important question to be considered is not who prepared this publication, but what contribution does it make. Whether it is sponsored by the Ministry of Information, the banks, the Australian Country party, the Liberal party, the Labour party, or people with no fixed political affiliation, does it make a real contribution to the dissemination of accurate information about this country ? Definitely it does. Then why should the honorable member for Barker throw it over his shoulder- in rejection, and compare it with a small booklet from Canada? The honorable member spoke in irritation as if a lot of money had been spent on this volume, and as if he felt it his duty to draw the attention of the House to a squandering of public funds and a wastage of dollars. I recall one occasion on which the value of Australian literature was disparaged by two honorable members in this chamber. They were the honorable member for Barker and the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). I sometimes think that behind such attacks is a genuine hatred of this country. These honorable members apparently do not wish Australia’s story to be told abroad. They have fixed “ crown-colony “ minds. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has a fixed “ crown-colony “ mind with a socialite fringe to it, which is even more dangerous and more deadly. But he is young and he may recover.
Mi-. Holt. - I hope to prove a better patriot than the honorable member for Parkes.
– The honorable member will have many opportunities to try, but he has quite a long way to catch up. This matter has now been well thrashed out. It is obvious that the honorable member for Barker made a blunder. His case was dealt with summarily and effectively by the Minister. The timing was perfect, and there was no opportunity for the honorable member’s story to go out to the world as a “ scoop “. The story was killed. Then of course, there was a scatter amongst honorable members opposite who, no doubt, felt it their duty to build up the honorable member’s ease. The honorable member for Wentworth was called in. He became lost in a welter of words. No doubt he believed that he was creating quite an impression by striding up and down the chamber, but he was only causing reverberations in the House and static on the radio. His speech had no real significance and did not minimize the debacle of the honorable member for Barker. The honorable member for Barker sits with such a whimsical smile, sometimes that one wonders whether he is as cunning as he believes himself to be, or is like the old dingo who, after years of hunting, has lost his pace and is in great danger of losing his tail.
Again I say that this is a fine volume whoever produced it. It is a credit to Australia, lt is vastly different from the creations of the pinch-penny, paltry minds of honorable members opposite who, when occupying the treasury bench, paid journalists of this country miserable pittances to tell the story of Australia. This is the way the job should be done. It is a tribute to the journalistic profession, the magazine producers, the bookbinders, and the hundred and one other people to whom credit was given by the Minister for Information. One often bears the. criticism voiced in this chamber by uninformed members, mostly Australian Country party adherents, that the Department of Information is redundant. The truth is that it is doing a splendid job and is keeping in employment many journalists who because of the newsprint shortage might be out of work. Unfortunately, most journalists are necessarily job-conscious, .and are compelled to write things that they do not believe. A refusal, of course, would mean loss of employment, and the Liberal party certainly would not give them jobs. Although honorable members opposite use journalists through the newspaper owners, the journalist himself is worth saving but I cannot say that for most, newspaper owners. If the honorable member tor Wentworth is waiting to ask me about an apology that he claims I made in a newspaper on one occasion, I suggest that he should spend half an hour with me sometime and hear the whole story. 1 have never apologized to a newspaper in my life, ft was the board of directors.
– They had to apologize for you.
– They apologized during my absence and without my consent. It was an apology that I never approved. . I cannot be responsible for anything that was published without my knowledge or consent. It was a bad break on the part of my bosses, and I apologized for them.
The final point that I wish to make is that we must give credit for this type of literature in a book like This is Australia. In the past the stuff that lias gone out of this country has not been good publicity for Australia. When Lord Bruce was monarch of all he surveyed in that little island fortress known ,as Australia House, there were little picture postcards in the windows saying “ This is Australia” and showing koala bears, or “ big brothers “ meeting “ little brothers “ on the wharfs in 1916. The two monumental works were a picture of the scaling of the heights of Gallipoli, and “ Tom’s last word at Rourke’s drift “. Under the Labour Government, the Department of Information revived Australian publicity, and Australia
House is very much alive to-day. The publicity is first rate, and migrants are being attracted to this country.. This publication, too, is first rate and will be read in Great Britain.. The readers will know nothing of the untidy little mind of the honorable member for Wentworth and the egocentric tendencies of the honorable member for Barker, who has sought to defame an all-Australian publication for the sake of a little brief notoriety and perhaps half a column of publicity in the Sydney Morning Herald or whatever paper he was “gunning” for. I remind honorable members opposite that, because of their criticism of this publication, they may have to face a court-martial of their own. What will Mr. Sommerlad say to members of the Australian Country party? He has spent a lot of money on this book. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has gone white at the thought of what will happen to him when Mr. Sommerlad gets on to this matter in the morning. The book has not been besmirched by Opposition attacks.
– Every bit of it is good.
– There is a trace of gold in the honorable member for Gippsland, but those with whom he sits do noi ring true. Because he is either naive or humane, the honorable gentleman always rnakes a reasonable statement, about activities on this side of the House. I pay him that tribute. I see that he is sitting on the edge of his seat. He is probably trying to keep away from the general corruption on the other side. 1 was diverted from the point that we cannot afford to allow cheap publications ro go from Australia. Every journalist in Australia will agree that this is an excellent publication.
I turn now to criticism of trips abroad by members of Parliament, particularly my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly). Statistics reveal that his trip was by no means the longest. A quick glance at the record shows that Sir Archdale Parkhill went to a conference at-
– I do not think the honorable member for Parkes is aware that Sir Archdale Parkhill passed away to-day. It would be unfortunate to drag his name into a debate.
– I was not aware of that, and I thank the honorable member for Wentworth for having told me. Criticism of a young member for having gone abroad on a mission on behalf of the Government falls ill from the lips of a man such as the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). Some years ago there was a cry for “ new blood “ in the Commonwealth Parliament, and the Labour party, the most valiant and successful political party at the time, was returned to office with a number of young men amongst its parliamentary members. Amongst them was the honorable member for Martin. In the time he has been a member he has developed. Admittedly he was absent for five months, but a quick glance at the records shows that the right honorable member for Cowper was >away for nearly twelve months and that other honorable members have been away for periods of five, six and seven months. All absences were justifiable.
– The right honorable member for Cowper was absent on a ministerial mission.
Mr. Calwell interjecting,
Mr. Anthony. - On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you, as custodian of the House, have seen fit at times to rebuke honorable members for having interjected. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) is not only interjecting, but also interjecting from a seat that is not his own, which is worse, thereby committing a double offence. I ask you to extend to him the same discipline as you extend to honorable members on this side when they interject.
– I did not hear the Minister’s interjection. I shall enforce discipline on all members as required, including the honorable member himself.
– The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) misunderstands me. I was not talking in a derogatory sense about the time occupied abroad by the right honorable member for Cowper. I was pointing out that long trips are necessary sometimes. Whether a long trip was necessary for the honorable member for Martin is the matter in dispute. I remind honorable members of the newspaper editorials constantly being written about the mediocrity . of politicians. That applies to the Opposition as well as to us. They said that we should go out and learn the world and come back laden with knowledge. Once that advice is taken and we break away from our isolation, which worries the editors of newspapers so much, we are accused of wasting public money. Honorable members and the people may rest assured that, with one of the most careful Treasurers in the history of federation guarding the public purse, there is a stringent limit to any waste or undue expenditure. I know from experience that one cannot travel abroad without digging deep into one’s own pocket. The allowance of the Treasurer does not nearly suffice. An extraordinary attack was made on the honorable member for Martin because he, perhaps, overstayed his leave by a couple of weeks and preferred to return by sea rather than air. The honorable member for Martin enumerated the jobs he did abroad. T know that they were efficiently done. The Minister who commissioned him while abroad to tackle those extra job? told me that he had done splendidly. He has the right approach and manners that impress. He had hardly left this country when rumours were rife that he was’ going away for a long stay. The stories came from Communists in his electorate. I know that because, while he was absent, I took over his electoral duties, as he did for me when I was abroad. So his electors were not left without representation. Some Communists infiltrated into the Labour League and were promptly ousted. They had the ear of the editor of the Sunday Telegraph, to whom they carried every little scrap of gossip. The honorable member was caricatured in filthy political cartoons by the refugee Molnar, the protected person, who has, in other filthy cartoons, caricatured the Prime Minister and every other prominent political figure in the Labour party. He draws £28 a week for doing his dirty work. In King Billy’s column, which I commend to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), there appeared paragraphs week by week about the honorable member for Martin and the duration of his travels. livery item in the newspapers published in the Martin electorate that concerned the honorable member for Martin was republished, whereas, normally, the editor of the Daily Telegraph would scorn to scan their columns. So the campaign against the honorable member for Martin grew because he had. the political integrity to throw the Communists out of the Labour League. That was how the Communists paid him back. No one objects to fair criticism, but there is a limit beyond which criticism cannot be justified, and I query the right of the refugee, Molnar, to do as he has done about, the honorable member for Martin. Molnar’s dossier is readily available. We find that he came from Rumania to Australia among the earlier refugees. Ear some time during the war he worked as an architect in some governmental post. Then he was appointed cartoonistin.,:11let for the Sydney Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, after two Australians had been dismissed because they would not produce cartoons filthy enough for the editors, when they were trying r,o break the late John Curtin’s heart when he was trying to avert a coal crisis. That story is well known.
– That is Packer’s paper.
– Yes, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph, which are owned by Frank Packer and E. G. Theodore. This refugee replaced two Australians who refused to sink low enough to produce the sort of cartoon that they wanted in order to blacken the miners in the eyes of Australia. The first to go was one of Australia’s finest artists. George Finey. When he went he was’ blackballed by the rest of the newspapers and is now living in dire stress at his Springwood home. He was boycotted because he walked out rather than depict the malicious and the untrue to the degradation of the miners in order to provoke them to go on strike and stay on strike. The next to go was Mahoney, because he would not agree to sink to the levels his job required him to sink to. He walked out, too. In came the refugee, for whom no work is low enough. If there is any aroma in the middle pages of the Telegraph, honorable members know the reason. He drew a cartoon to which I take the greatest exception. It goes close to infringing the privileges of the House. It shows the honorable member for Martin on his knees licking the boots of the Prime Minister. .That is a “ fine “ tribute from a man who took shelter in this country while our men were fighting for him and his kin. It is not a matter of party politics. I, by assisting the activities of the Minister for Immigration in a small way, have done considerable work for refugees. I have helped by my writings, such as they are, to support their cause and to teach Australians that we have a duty to them. But here is one who has been recreant to his trust and who has taken advantage of every opportunity to deride this Government both in war when he was protected, and in peace. He is the man who has taken the bread out of the mouths of two fine Australians. There are not many jobs in the higher income brackets of journalism and cartoon work, but he holds one of them and sits in his glory with a pencil beside him, planning his cartoons. His . editorial colleagues come to his office and say to him, “ What cartoon is not fit to print to-day? You draw it, and I will write an editorial about it “. That is the depth of degradation to which the Sydney Daily Telegraph has descended. The cartoon which 1 have mentioned was an insult to every parliamentarian, and its publication should have been taken, up at the time on a question of privilege. As I have said, I was forced, because of incapacity, to be absent from, this House and listen to the broadcast of debates yesterday, when I heard one of the worst exhibitions of bad manners that has ever been presented by members of the Opposition. As I was listening to the broadcast, a group of men came to me in a deputation and, although they were not all supporters of mine, they remarked that the “ turn “ put. on by the Opposition was the worst that they had heard since the broadcasting of parliamentary debates was initiated. A discussion was in progress about an article which had been written by an Irish journalist with reference to Senator Amour. The senator’s name had been misspelt, and there was some play on this fact. Above all the criticism of the
Irish writer and the talk about an Irishman’s grandson going home to Clare, I heard the tinkling laughter of the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). After all, Ireland gave Australia seventeen men who died at Eureka. There was a slight suggestion of racial superiority in this talk from Opposition members, and I was surprised that the honorable member for Darwin should be involved in it. I warn her that-
– The honorable member is the lowest thing in this House.
– The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) would not be classified in the human species. He would be just a little black lizard. I repeat that there was an undercurrent of malice in the speeches of honorable members opposite. There was laughter at the expense of “ this poor little newspaper “ in Ireland. The whole thing played right into the hands of the crown colonists opposite, who hate anything Australian. They hate the good Australian book which was the subject of discussion earlier to-night and they hate the idea that an Australian can prove that this is a good country. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) read the story “from the Clare Champion in yesterday’s debate.
– The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) read it.
– It was read first by the honorable member for Warringah; the honorable member for Richmond merely reiterated it. In the first place, this attack was a bad advertisement for the Opposition. In the second place, it involved something more than just an attack on Senator Amour. I thought that it was rather bad form for the honorable member for Warringah to criticize the honorable senator who, when serving his country as a soldier, was so seriously wounded that for some months his life was despaired of, because the only time that anything militaristic ever occurred to the honorable member for Warringah was when he stood in front of a soldier’s pay-book and called himself a colonel in the Pay Corps.
– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The honorable mem ber for Warringah is not in this House to speak for himself, and I wish to explain that he enlisted during World War I. and was sent to a camp, but was too young to go overseas. The honorable member for Parkes should retract his statement and apologize for the slur upon the honorable member for Warringah.
– There is no point of order.
– The whole affair was so despicable that I shall not waste further time dealing with it. In due courseSenator Amour will make a statement in the Senate. However, we would not be his comrades if we failed to defend him against such malicious tongues as those of the honorable member for Warringah and the honorable member for Richmond. The latter gloated over the task of attackLug the honorable senator. Had the broadcast been made with television, 1 am sure that I should have been able to see the smirk on his face as he did so. One could tell that both honorable gentlemen were enjoying the opportunity to malign, .somebody and raise a cheap chuckle about Irish newspapers and an Irishman going back to the land of his forebears. Fortunately, their statements were checked by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), who is himself an Irishman. -He delivered a wellmannered speech, the tone of which in itself was a rebuke to the Opposition.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker. When I was speaking earlier to-night I referred to Sir Archdale Parkhill, not knowing at the time that he had died to-day. I assure the House that, had I known of his death, I certainly would not have used his name during my speech.
– I, too, have an explanation to make on the same lines, Mr. Speaker. I should like to record the fact that, when discussing some items of Government expenditure, I also referred to Sir Archdale Parkhill in ignorance of his death until I was informed of it by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), whereupon I desisted.
– I do not propose to talk about books, either large or small, or to attempt to give a lecture on world tours. Like the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull), I propose to deal with a local matter which I consider to be of at least as much importance as other matters that have been dealt with in this debate. I draw the attention of the Government to the unsatisfactory position which has existed since the end of the war in relation to shipping services to central Queensland ports. This matter has already been mentioned on several occasions in this House, and I have had some correspondence about it with those responsible. Nevertheless, the position still remains most unfortunate for residents of the areas which are affected, and I contend that the Government can no longer be excused for its failure to rectify the situation on the ground that present conditions are the result of the war. Admittedly, the situation arose from conditions which came with the aftermath of war, but I submit that now, two years after the end of the war, it is high time for a considerable improvement of the shipping service to be made. Those citizens who are affected were content for some time to await the expected improvement. However, they now contend that the situation could have been avoided if the Government had adopted a vigorous policy and made the best possible use of the shipping resources at its command at the end of the war and, in addition, had acquired the considerable numbers of small craft available for disposal by both the Australian and the American armed forces. The Government’s neglect in this respect has imposed severe penalties on large numbers of people and, unless there is a quick improvement in the situation, their outcry will become irresistible. I propose to show exactly how the present position is adversely affecting various sections of the community.
As a convenient yardstick for measuring the service now being given to these areas, I cite the earnings of waterside workers in the Port of Bundaberg. At this stage, I desire to point out that there are waterside workers and waterside workers; but those to whom I am referring are not the kind of “ shrewdy “ whom one encounters in certain other areas. The Bundaberg men have made their living on the waterfront for a con siderable number of years, and they are prepared to work if the opportunity to do so is afforded them. Prom the 1st January, 1946, to the 31st December, 1946, the earnings of the 54 or 55 members of the Bundaberg branch of the Waterside Workers Federation averaged only £4 a week. For .the twelve months from the 1st July, 1946, to the 31st June, 1947, their average weekly earnings too £2 17s. That is a convenient yardstick for measuring the volume of shipping which is entering that river port, and it is indicative of the position which exists in other ports such as Gladstone and Rockhampton. In the Gladstone area, the maximum earnings of waterside workers for the twelve months ended the 30th June last only slightly exceeded £250, yet Gladstone is one of the best ports in Australia. Its meat-works could provide a considerable volume of outgoing cargo, and the district justifies a substantial inward service. However, ships come to the port only at intermittent periods, with the result that there is no continuity of supply. Consequently, orders which might be submitted to shippers for inward cargoes cannot be lodged by merchants and others because they are not assured of a regular service.
Apart from the instances which I have cited regarding waterside workers, I also point out that business people generally are adversely affected by this lack of shipping. It is rather remarkable that one of the reasons which has been given for the absence of shipping, particularly to Gladstone, is that there is no assurance of inward or outward cargo. Before the outbreak of World War II. the port of Gladstone had a regular weekly service. That, in itself, indicates that it could now support a similar service. However, the contention is advanced that orders for shipping are not coming forward from local merchants and others. The position is that as the result of war-time conditions merchants in that area were forced to bring their goods into the city by rail. Ships were not available. Now, merchants and others are told that because they are still forced to bring produce and materials by rail, the tonnage is not available to justify the establishment of a regular shipping service. As any one with a knowledge of the subject will readily recognize, merchants and importers in that area cannot possibly give orders to shippers for materials and goods unless they can rely on a regular service. They must keep up an adequate supply of goods to the district, and until they know that shipping is available, they must continue to obtain their supplies by rail. Yet the fact that they are still doing so is used as an argument against them when they request an increase of shipping facilities.
A further adverse result, which I consider to be most important, is the effect which this position is having upon producers generally in the surrounding districts. During the budget debate, many speakers on both sides of the chamber emphasized that we must plan for a considerable increase of production. That statement was perfectly true, and all honorable members agree with it. The Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Pad den) read figures which show an alarming decrease of production in recent years. Every honorable member agrees - even the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) referred to this subject in his budget speech - that we must do everything possible to increase our production. There are several main reasons for the reduced production. The first is the heavy load of taxation which the people bear, and which is depriving them of the incentive to produce. Tha.t fact cannot be emphasized too often. Another reason, which affects Queensland, is that decreased production is partly due to periods of drought. Here, I stress that some people attempt to blame the whole of the decline upon drought conditions, but that is not true. Only a certain percentage is attributable to that factor. The. third reason is the alarming shortage of materials which primary producers need for the rehabilitation of their properties. Tn this instance, the lack of adequate shipping services is affecting the redevelopment of primary industries. Primary producers everywhere are unable to obtain even a meagre supply of the essential materials which they require, because shipping services are so poor and a great deal of the goods which are available must be transported by rail. Essential materials like barbed wire, plain wire, corrugated iron, machinery and imple- ments are necessary to our recovery, and unless they can be brought into the district at reasonable rates, obviously the recovery must be so much slower. As is well-known, the supply of these materials is inadequate for the requirements of the country generally; but, in addition, inadequate distribution is depriving producers in these areas of their fair share of these materials.
Therefore, I submit that in order to provide adequate employment for those depending on shipping, enable merchants and others to import and sell goods at reasonable rates, and assist the proper recovery of primary production, a move should be made to improve the shipping service to the areas which I have mentioned. The only way in which that can reasonably be done is for the Government to make a careful investigation of the position. The investigation should be undertaken, not by some official sitting in his office and relying on figures, but by a man with a practical knowledge of the subject who will go to these areas and ascertain for himself the true position. By that means he will be able to determine the best method of dealing with the matter. The situation warrants a thorough investigation. I ask the Government to give urgent attention to this request, and take the appropriate action.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Conelan) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Appointments - N. J. Anderson, E. Chadwick, V. C. Chapman, A. Doubikin, J. A. Gardiner,
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of Works and Housing - W. J. Baker, H. M. Beavis, L. A. Butler. J. R. L. Copley, M. S. D. de Plater, R. F. Emery, M. Gilchrist, W. Hingee
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Mentone, Victoria.
Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinance - 1947 - No. 10 - Police Offences (Papua).
House adjourned at 10.8 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Armed Forces: Payment in Lieu of Leave.
s asked the Minister act ing for the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable . member’s questions are as follows : -
Civil Aviation : Petrol Tax.
e asked the Minister for
Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
What was the number of unemployedin each State of the Commonwealth for each month of the past twelve months and what was the amount of unemployment benefit paid for each month in each State over the same period?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
No official statistics are available to show the actual number of persons unemployed in fact at any particular time. Table A hereunder shows the number of males and females in each State registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service in each month since September, 1946, as disengaged workers. It is known, however, that a considerable proportion of those registered as disengaged are not in fact unemployed but are workers in employment who are seeking improved positions or changes of position.
Table B shows the number of males and females in each State in each month since September, 1946, who were in receipt of unemployment benefit or re-employment allowance. While not all unemployed persons seek, or are eligible for. payment ofunemployment benefit or re-employment allowance, the figures showing numbers of recipients of unemployment, benefit provide the most reliable guide to the numbers actually unemployed from month to month and furnish the most sensitive indicator of changes in the employment situation.
Table C, which has been supplied by the Minister for Social Services, and which relates directly to Table B, shows the amount of unemployment benefit paid for each month in each State since September, 1943.
is asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
How many persons have been on strike in «ach of the six States for each month of this year, &n<l how many man-hours have been lost in each case?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19471002_reps_18_193/>.