18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Nationalization : Petitions ; Statements by Mr. Fell and Mr. Hollway.
Petitions in relation to banking in Australia were presented as follows: -
By Mr. BLAIN, from certain residents of New Guinea.
By Mr. FRANCIS, from certain electors of the division of Moreton.
By Mr. ANTHONY, from certain electors of the division of Richmond.
By Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON, from certain electors of South Australia.
By Mr. BERNARD CORSER, from certain electors of the division of Wide Bay.
Petitions received and read.
– Has the Minister for Information seen a statement in the press to-day in which
Mr. D. Fell, president of the Employers
Federation, called upon the employers to fight the Banking Bill by every means in
their power ? Has the honorable gentleman also seen a statement in the press
purporting to have been made by the Leader of the Liberal party in Victoria, Mr. Hollway, that the main issue in the Victorian
general elections will be the Banking Bill?
– I will do as the’ honorable member suggests and consult theMinister acting for the Attorney-General, to see whether certain threats made by some people opposing the nationalization of banking plan should be investigated. The right honorable member for Cowper and some other honorable members like the honorable member for Moreton, who supports him but has not yet expressed himself in that way publicly, have talked very violently on this bill, but the democratic way of life will be preserved, and this Government can be depended upon to see that it is.
– In view of the answer by the Minister for Information - and I look upon the honorable gentleman as a responsible Minister - that the Minister acting for the Attorney General will be asked to instruct the Commonwealth Investigation Service to investigate opposition to the Government’s banking nationalization legislation, I ask the Prime Minister whether this means that the Minister proposes to offer threats of intimidation to the free expression of public opinion against such legislation by the use of members of the Commonwealth Investigation Service. If so, how would such action differ from the use of the Gestapo and OGPU by governments of totalitarian countries?
– The honorable member may .rest easy in his bed at night. I have previously said in this House ‘that no matter what party a citizen may be a member of he is entitled to express his opinions within the limits allowed by the law. A Labour Government will never withdraw that right from any person in this country, whether he be a member of the “ Blue Guard “, or whatever it has been called, the Liberal party, the Australian Country party or the Communist party. Certain utterances are subversive, and could be dangerous to the peace, order and good government of the country. I have made it perfectly clear to the honorable member and to others that anybody who cares to express opposition to the Government’s banking legislation is quite entitled to do so. That will enable the public to see clearly who are the opponents of that legislation. Some of those who have joined up with the honorable member’s party have been recognized for decades in this country as being of the deepest dyed conservative type. I am glad when they come out into the open and show who are opposing the interests of the people.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– In regard to what?
– I was misrepresented by the Chair.
– In committee?
– No, in the House. The Prime Minister, when moving the second reading of the
Banking Bill, referred to two methods of dealing with the private banks, and I
interposed that both amounted to confiscation. You,
– On looking up the record of the honorable member I find that he was not suspended twice during this session but that his suspensions took place during the life of the last Parliament.
– The- honorable member should have been suspended.
-Order ! The Chair determines that. I suggest that if the honorable member for Balaclava limited his interjections he would not bring forth the wrath of the Chair.
– Do not qualify your apology.
Sydney Dispute - Stopwork Meeting at Mackay.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service able to give the House any information relating to developments occurring in connexion with the dispute on the Sydney waterfront T If the Government has taken any action in the matter, will he inform the House what has been done?
– The Arbitration Court has moved in the matter, the Chief Judge having allotted to the Conciliation Commissioner attached to the marine industries, Mr. Morrison, the task of investigating the matters in dispute. Mr. Morrison has called a conference of the parties to be held to-morrow. We hope that a satisfactory solution of the dispute will be found.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping whether he has seen newspaper reports that on Monday of this week waterside workers at Mackay ignored the Port Committee’s instruction to continue work, and held an illegal four-hour meeting which was addressed by the waterside workers’ federal official, Mr. Roche. This delay seriously affected the loading, of sugar on the overseas freighter Talbot. Will the Minister say what action has been taken against those who participated in this illegal stoppage, or what action it is intended to take against them ?
– I have not seen press comment on the matter mentioned by the honorable gentleman. Experience, of course, leads me to take with a grain of salt anything that appears in the press of this country. Since I have not had the opportunity of reading the report referred to, all I can do is to bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping, who, I am sure, will take any action that needs to be taken.
Fairbairn Aerodrome: - Guinea Airways
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that there are no facilities at the Fairbairn Aerodrome, Canberra, for the repair of damage to civil aircraft, and that in the event of trouble, of however a minor nature, a mechanic has to be brought from Sydney in the first available incoming aeroplane to carry out repairs? ls the honorable gentleman aware that this 9’ ate of affairs has on occasions caused great delays to aircraft and much inconvenience to passengers? Is he aware that no assistance can be obtained from the mechanics of the Royal Australian Air Force station on the aerodrome since they have not the required civil certificates? Is he aware that the airlines using the aerodrome have tried to establish this very important repair service but have been unable to obtain permission from his department to build the necessary accommodation? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that facilities for the repair of minor damage are made available at this important aerodrome?
– I am aware that the delays have taken place not only at Canberra but also at various other places, including Sydney and Melbourne, because of defects that require repairs to be made in order that aircraft may proceed with safety, but the information I have is that on the whole the aircraft run pretty close to time and have a very high average of time keeping. I am not aware of details of any of the instances referred to by the honorable member. I agree that it should be possible to have minor repairs effected without having to send long distances for qualified mechanics to make the repairs. If the honorable gentleman will be good enough to supply instances, I will undertake to have them inquired into with a view to avoiding unnecessary delays.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that in 1939 Guinea Airways carried more freight than all the airlines in Australia, including Trans-Australia Airways, last year and that the organization pioneered aviation in New Guinea and the Australian north-south route? Is its contract about to be cancelled, despite all the pioneering work it did, and the service handed over to the Government-controlled airlines?
– I am aware that in 1939 and preceding years a greater quantity of freight was carried by Guinea Airways and other operators of airlines in the goldfields area of New Guinea than by other companies. A very heavy tonnage was carried, because air transport was the only way in which freight could be conveyed to the goldfields, and Guinea Airways did an excellent joh. As to whether its contract will be cancelled, the Australian National Airlines Act states that where an adequate service is provided by the commission other airlines shall not operate in territorial areas. That provision will be given effect, and will come into operation on the 2nd November next.
Payment in Cash - Dental Students.
– I direct the attention of the Prime Minister or the Minister for Repatriation, whoever it may concern, to the case of an exserviceman who lost a leg on naval duty. He applied for his war gratuity to be paid to him in cash. The act provides that the gratuity may be paid in cash to persons who are totally or permanently incapacitated. In this matter the War Gratuity Board has exercised its discretionary power under section 6 of the act to direct that the wording of section 21e shall be regarded as being “ totally and permanently incapacitated “, whereas the word used in the act is “ or “. This man is permanently incapacitated, having lost a leg. Before the war he was a farm hand, but the loss of a leg compelled him to seek a vocation that would not be so severe on an artificial limb. He has taken up house-painting and requires a utility truck in which to transport his equipment. He needs the cash to buy the truck. I should like the appropriate Minister to ensure that payment of war gratuity shall be made in cash to help permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen,
– As the honorable member knows, the War Gratuity Act was based entirely on the recommendations of an all-party parliamentary committee, all the members of which were ex-servicemen. Since the act was ^passed, the regulations have been ^amended on two occasions in order to meet cases of hardship, involving payments for sickness and hospital expenses. I recall that I promised several honorable members-
– I wrote to the Prime Minister about these cases.
– An honorable member mentioned it in the House. After the War Gratuity Board has had an opportunity to survey the whole field, I shall ask the members of the all-party committee - unfortunately ex-Senator Collett, who was a member, is now deceased - to discuss these matters with the board with a view to recommending to the Parliament the adoption of some amendments. At the same time, the board has surveyed many of these particular types of case and I hope to have the advice of the all-party committee regarding amendments.
– The act now provides for the payment of the money in the circumstances which I described.
– In that event, I assume that it is a matter of interpretation. If the honorable member will give to me the name of the person concerned, I shall consider the case! In the general field, however, I hope at a later stage to meet the all-party committee for a discussion of the matter.
– Will the Prime Minister review applications for war gratuity by .medical and dental students in the third and fourth year of their training course, the studies of some of whom were interrupted by their war service, in order that they may purchase instruments that they will- need when they start oft’ in their profession? The grant that is made by the Repatriation Department in respect of tools of trade or professional equipment is inadequate for the purchase of these necessary instruments. The war gratuity of some of these men who had long service in the forces amounts to as much as £130, and if it were paid to thom they would be able to set themselves up in life. Does not the right honorable gentleman believe that such cases should have special consideration?
– The equipment of students who are undergoing training at universities is .provided at those institutions. Does the honorable member refer to the student who has completed his course and desires to set up in business?
– If the honorable member wishes me to look into that .aspect I shall be glad to do so, and to see whether anything can be done.
– Assuming that a large number of well constructed buildings may shortly become surplus to the requirements of the business .for which they are at present used, will the Prime Minister take action to acquire them for the accommodation of unhoused persons after the banking legislation becomes operative? Will he ensure that the use of the buildings for this purpose shall have first priority?
– The practice has been for the Australian Government, whenever buildings have become surplus for any particular reason, to make them available first to State Governments for the purpose of assisting them to overcome their housing problems. If some buildings become surplus as the result of legislation which may be passed by this Parliament, the honorable members suggestion will have the most sympathetic consideration.
– I have recently received a number of telegrams from organizations in my electorate in regard to the abolition of the means test. I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has yet considered the practicability of abolishing this test in regard to social services. Can the right honorable gentleman give the House any information on this important subject, which is agitating the minds of so many people ?
– The subject has been considered on a number of occasions, and, as the honorable member for Brisbane is aware, certain relaxations of the test were made some time ago. The Australian Labour party’s desire has always been to devise some plan that would result in the abolition of the means test, but a very large sum of money is involved. I have not seen the latest estimates of the cost of abolishing the means test but it has been estimated that an amount of £38,000,000 or £40,000,000 per annum would be involved. For that reason, and because of the impact that such action would have on the finances of the country, nothing further has been done to relax the test. The honorable gentleman may inform his constituents, however, that the subject is receiving constant attention from the government.
– In view of the anxiety of Tasmanian growers of apples and pears about the future of their industry, I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether he will state the Government’s intentions in regard to the handling of the apple and pear crop this year. Will the honorable gentleman announce this month whether the acquisition scheme will be continued wholly or in part?
– At the moment the Australian Government is not aware of the probable apple and pear requirements of the United Kingdom Government. As soon as that government indicates the quantity of fruit which it is likely to need the Australian Government will make a decision on the continuance or otherwise of the acquisition scheme.
– Last night, it was announced over the national news service, and the State broadcasting service in Tasmania, that Sir Claude James, Tasmanian Agent-General in London, said that he had been advised by the Australian Government that it intended to continue the apple and pear acquisition scheme. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether this is correct?
– Whether or not the apple and pear acquisition, scheme is to be continued is a matter of Government policy, and so far the Government has not reached a decision about it. In the circumstances, I cannot see how the Tasmanian Agent-General in London could be in a position to say whether or not the scheme is to be continued.
– Last December, a committee was appointed to investigate butter production costs. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has announced that it was upon the report of that committee that the Government decided recently that the price of butter should be increased. When reports of similar committees have previously been presented to> the Government, copies of them have been supplied to honorable members. Will the Minister adopt that practice in this instance? If that be not possible immediately owing to printing or other difficulties, will te provide an opportunity for me and other honorable members who. are keenly interested in the dairying in*dustry to peruse the report either to-day or early next week?
– The report referred to by the honorable member was only an interim report, and was made to the Government.
– So were the others.
– As soon as is practicable, the Government will readily make the report available to the honorable member and to the Parliament generally.
– The Minister is not game to make it available.
– The honorable member is most anxious to obtain a copy of the report, and I am most anxious that he shall obtain it. That is not practicable at the moment, but it should be in a very brief space of time.
– Some days ago, I asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services a question relating to assistance in connexion with the care and maintenance of persons in mental hospitals, and he kindly undertook to obtain information on the subject. Has he now information which will enable him to ‘reply to my question?
Mp-. HOLLOWAY. - Since the honorable member asked her question, I have discussed the matter on two or three occasions with the Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services. Some time ago, consideration was given to the suggestions of the honorable member. The Minister has decided, and the Government has agreed, that there shall not be an amendment of the act at the present time. The Minister has had’ discussions with State Ministers, with a view to bringing under the provisions of the hospital benefits scheme those whom the honorable member claims should have further assistance. Evidence in regard to cost has been collected, and the investigation has been almost completed. That should remove most of the honorable member’s anxiety. The position as it stands is better than some people imagine it to be. When a person is admitted to a mental asylum, his or her pension is stopped if he or she remains in the asylum for four or more weeks, but is restored immediately upon release, with the addition of four retrospective weekly payments. If a male breadwinner is sent into hospital, the wife is immediately regarded as a widow under the Widows’ Pensions Act and is entitled to a widow’s pension. If there are any children the mother of whom ‘becomes an inmate, the person who has the care and custody of them collects the payment on behalf of each child. In addition, there is a provision which gives to the Director of Social Services power to deal with special cases, such as those which the honorable member has in mind. If the act does not make specific provision for the granting of relief, the Director of Social Services is empowered to Use his own judgment and grant relief. I believe that those not now provided for by the act will be covered when they come under the provisions of the hospital benefits scheme.
– In view of the shortage of fertilizers, has the Department of Commerce and Agriculture considered the possibility of using seaweed for that purpose? If not, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture obtain from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research a report upon the chemical properties of seaweed and its’ suitability for use in agriculture of various types, with a view to the organization of a scheme of conservation and distribution ?
– I am not able to say whether the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has considered the use of seaweed as a fertilizer, but I shall be very glad to make inquiries. I shall also approach the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and let the honorable member know the result.
Reports on Items.
– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Bounty on Tractors.
Bounty on Wire Netting.
– Does the Prime Minister know that about 14,000 tons of steel (is awaiting shipment to Queensland from Newcastle and Port Kembla? In view of the urgent need to press on with housing construction, and to supply farm requirements, can the Prime Minister say whether anything has been done to expedite, or assure, the transport of, steel and steel products from Newcastle and Port Kembla If not, will he have the matter investigated with a view to affording some relief to the people of Queensland?
– I know, of course, that there are difficulties in regard to shipping, but I did not know how much iron and steel was awaiting shipment. I shall be glad to take the matter up with the Minister for Supply and Shipping with a view to expediting, if possible, shipments to Queensland.
Message received from the Senate intimating that
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 16th October (vide page 920.)
Proposed vote, £975,500.
Proposed vote, £740,500.
Proposed vote, £2,779,000.
Proposed vote, £4,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– Only one hourhas been allotted for the discussion of these territories for
which enormous amounts of money are to be voted. It is a disgraceful thing that
honorable members are not allowed to discuss such matters at length. I do not object
to the amounts which it is proposed to vote, but the committee has a right to know how
the money is to be expended. I draw particular attention to the administration of the
Northern Territory. As honorable members know, there is in the Northern Territory an
administrator, and now it is proposed that a legislative council shall be elected to
assist him. As a matter of fact, the elections for this council are to be held in the
first week in December. No one man, however capable, should be called upon to
undertake the job of administering the Northern Territory. I say that with all respect
to the present administrator. He is a young man, and eventually he will become one of
the best administrators we have everhad, but he should not be asked to carry the
burden alone. I remind honorable members thatthe Minister for Lands in Western
Australia declared only recently, as reported in the
– Would the honorable member advocate the inclusion in that ^portfolio of responsibility for New Guinea?
– Yes. The people of N-ow Guinea already look upon me as their representative in this Parliament. I have received a letter from a well known military gentleman in New Guinea which reads as follows: - 1 am coming to Canberra on 26th October next as the delegate for New Guinea to the Annual Congress of the Returned Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. The Congress opens on 28th October, and will last for some days.
This is the first time in history that New Guinea has been so represented and I feel quite honoured by having been selected for the job.
The ex-servicemen’s organization is one of the few bodies in New Guinea with the
necessary status to present a case. There is no electoral body in New Guinea to which a
case could be presented, this Government in its unwisdom having abolished the
Legislative Council there. It seems strangely inconsistent that it should do so and
should subsequently establish a Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, which
already has a representative in this Parliament. There is a good deal of merit in the
suggestion of the honorable member for Richmond
I will forward you a copy of the agenda as set .out by our State Branch - this is being typed and should reach you next week.
And here is the crucial part -
It is possible that there may be some matters of mutual interest., as the problems of the Northern Territory on shipping, housing and rehabilitation must be similar to those of New Guinea.
The writer of that letter is Colonel Allen, a very efficient soldier who served with the 17th Battalion in World War I and as a colonel in World War II in the Middle East and as officer in charge of the Labour Battalions in New Guinea. Colonel Allen has rendered valuable service to the nation and is respected and admired by the natives. He told me’ only a few weeks ago that he proposes to leave New Guinea and go to Tanganyika, where he hopes to get a better deal as the result of the big development scheme which the British Government is carrying out there. To-day, New Guinea is in the control of an army of anthropologists from Sydney who are virtually masters in a. territory in which our boys died and lie in jungle graves. It is a positive disgrace that a man who has spent half his lifetime in New Guinea, and has rendered such excellent service to the nation, should leave the territory and go to Tanganyika because his worth is not recognized. A commission should be appointed to inquire into the administration not only of New Guinea but also of the Northern Territory and to ascertain how best the present wretched administration can be improved.
The only active industries in the Northern Territory are the pastoral, or land, and
mining industries. I propose to deal first with the land industry, of which I claim to
have some real knowledge by virtue of my training. The Land Board, which was abolished
as a result of a recommendation in the Fletcher - Payne Report, should be resuscitated.
That report was a factual and very valuable document, but unfortunately, as the result
of pressure from vested interests, including Vesteys and Lord Luke, a recommendation was
made that the board should be abolished.
Very little of the money which was allocated for the development of mining in the Northern Territory last year was expended, and I hope that this year the expenditure will be substantially increased. I realize that it is difficult for the Minister to examine every application for assistance for mining operations. He must always be careful that he is not having a joke put over him by someone without capital, who desires to use government funds for floating on the stock exchange companies bogus or otherwise. However, there are some small companies in the Northern Territory which deserve assistance. One of them which is “ above board “ is engaged in tin-mining at Maranboy and I ask the Minister to give to its needs sympathetic consideration. One of the requirements is the development of the water supply from Beswick Creek, so that the battery may .be started up at Maranboy. At Fountain Head, a private operator Mr. Potter has had to do the crushing because the battery there is out of commission. This work is really a government job.
An amount of £400,000 has been allocated for “ Works Services “. There must be an interesting story behind that, and I cannot be too critical of the Department of Works and Housing which controls the erection of houses in the Northern Territory. The set-up is peculiar. The architects, I believe, may be quite competent to design buildings for, say, the Commonwealth Bank. They may be able to give an excellent lecture on the history of architecture, beginning from the Norman period and proceeding to the early English and decorated period of 1265, the perpendicular period of the 14th century, and the Gothic period up to the Renaissance. However, what we require is domestic architecture, suited to the climate of the Northern Territory. We need an expert on domestic architecture, but such an officer does not appear to be employed by the Department of Works and Housing. What happened in 1926 when a former member for Gippsland, Mr. Paterson, was Minister for the Interior? When I criticized the type of houses in Darwin as being totally unsuitable for the tropics, he was good enough to send to the town an architect, Mr. Haslam, and, in addition, provided money for him to proceed to Singapore. When the architect returned, I conferred with him, and he designed a type of house suitable for the climate of Darwin. I do not know whether he is still employed by the department. I intend to ring up the department to-day to ascertain his whereabouts, if possible, because he did a remarkable job. The designs which he made provided for the walls to be louvred to enable the circulation of air through the houses. He went so far as to experiment, not with the straight louvre, but with a curved louvre, so that a slight ten-mile an hour breeze would pass through the house at 25 miles an hour. In addition, the curved louvre could be opened at will. Before the advent of Mr. Haslam, the type of house in Darwin had four rooms in a block and they were surrounded by a verandah. It was the hottest type of house ever designed, and was built in the days of the first administrator in 1911. People lived, not in the house but on the verandah. Indeed, it was impossible for any one to live in those four box rooms at the centre of the structure. If Mr. Haslam is still alive I hope that we shall be able once more to obtain his valuable services, because at present the department is making a mess of house construction in Darwin.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am always interested in the proposed vote for the Northern Territory and the future of that vast area. I should like to ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) to make available to honorable members the reports, if they are complete, of the surveys made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research into the potentialities of the Northern Territory. In one report to which I referred some years ago, there seemed to be excellent prospects for water conservation and irrigation in connexion with the Ord River scheme.
– The Ord River scheme is in Western Australia.
– A joint scheme was under consideration for the Northern Territory and Western Australia. In fact, the former Prime Minister, the late Mr. Curtin, appointed a committee to inquire into the subject. The other matter related to the rivers of the Northern Territory, and the prospects of irrigation within their vicinity. An important subject which I discussed on one occasion with the honorable member for the Northern Territory ( Mr. Blain) was the prospects of cotton and tobacco growing in that area.
– Those are two most important subjects. I am delighted with the honorable member’s remarks.
– For once, the honorable member for the Northern Territory and I are in agreement. I must note the date and the time. The cotton position is a difficult one for us in these days of reconstruction, and if it were possible adequately to produce cotton and tobacco in Australia, those two big industries would greatly help our development. I have read the reports published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. They appeared to be factual documents, and contained a note of romance regarding what could be done with the Northern Territory. For the first time, I found a scientific approach. We were not told that every part of the Northern Territory would blosson like the rose. The report, while recognizing that grazing and cattle raising must be the major projects, devoted considerable attention to water conservation and irrigation, and the possibility of keeping stock fat until they went to Wyndham for slaughtering and shipment overseas. It also began to make out a case in regard to the cultivation of cotton and tobacco. I make these references only in passing. I am an admirer of the potentialities of the north. I have visited the area on four or five occasions, and whenever I go there, I am amazed that we, who live in the south, should know so little about the Northern Territory and its potentialities. During World War II., large numbers of Australian servicemen were stationed in the Northern Territory, and many of them would like to return and settle there. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has referred to pastoral leases and the difficulties which exist in that connexion. If we are to settle ex-servicemen or immi-.grants in the north, we must have planned irrigation projects. I ask the Minister to make available to us the latest information about the cotton and tobacco potentialities of the north.
.- J refer to the proposed- grant to the provisional administration of Papua and New Guinea, towards expenses, of £2,350,000. That huge sum will have to be paid by the taxpayers of Australia, a,nd we are entitled to a statement of how it will he spent. I can find no details in any document made available to us covering this item. Whenever an honorable member on .this side of the chamber introduces a discussion about the administration of our external territories he is met with abuse from the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward), who alleges that we are the friends of sweaters, and the like. Some time ago I moved a motion on private members’ day which was intended to be helpful, and in which 1 proposed that a committee of members of all parties should visit Papua and New Guinea to investigate conditions on the spot. Such committees are often appointed by the British Parliament. But what can one expect from the present Minister for External Territories, who, on one occasion, said, in regard to these territories - and I quote the following passage from Hansard -
It is amusing to hear people say that we shall not give up New Guinea - to those people I would say that if it should become necessary to defend our mandated territory they should defend it themselves. As ‘-far as I am concerned, all I can judge about the necessity for retaining New Guinea is that a handful of exploiters have got hold of the -country, some interested in aerial transport, some in goldmining, and some in the search for oil. These people want to retain New Guinea in order to preserve their own commercial interests.
If that be the view of the Minister administering these territories, he should be removed from office.
– How long ago were those statements made?
– Some years ago, before the honorable gentleman assumed ministerial office. Papua and New Guinea are rich in natural resources, vegetable’ fats, which the world so greatly needs, and other commodities. During the administration of the pre-war non-Labour government there was a measure of local government in Papua, but nowadays that has been abandoned, and an attempt is being made to administer Papua and New Guinea from Canberra. However wellintentioned the officers charged with this administration may be such an administration must be detrimental to the territories. While discussing another item in the Estimates, I referred to the administration of the Minister for External Territories in relation to Papua and New Guinea and was told that there was no objection to his policy. It has also been said that we are on the side of the exploiters, or words to that effect. In this connexion I direct attention to the following extract from the newspaper Mufti: -
All territorians - administration employees, planters, merchants mid miners alike - are experiencing the repercussions of
Mr. Ward's“new order-‘ in New Guinea. What this “ new order “ is designed to accomplish has not yet been made clear, hut what is clear - abundantly so - is that the Ward Administration is not only hindering the rehabilitation of New Guinea hut threatens to stifle private enterprise altogether. “New Guinea” for -the “ native “ has become a party catch cry; a catch cry for which the Australian taxpayer will eventually have to pay something ‘like £1,500,000 a year; this for a Territory of abundant wealth in gold and copra which before this war was self-supporting and could again bc so but for the Government muddling.
Before the wai-, during the regime of the Lyons, Menzies and Fadden
Governments, some Commonwealth funds were provided to assist in the development of New
Guinea. While I was Minister for Trade and Customs a bounty was provided for von years,
to assist white men to give employment to the native peoples under good conditions.
Medical services, were made available under one of the greatest administrators of native
territories in the world - I refer to the late
Patronage favouritism displayed hy Administrator prevents contented service. Minister asked May 1045 grant arbitration without results. High cost of living coupled low salaries means bankruptcy many public servants. Meagre superannuation pensions pre vents officer retiring. Minister ignored representations front associations May 1945 new superannuation scheme. Promised public service ordnance regulations not promulgated. Administrator refused receive deputation wives public servants but keeps open door nativedeputations.
It is astonishing that, although there is no authority for a
stabilization scheme for copra in these territories, the Government is retaining a part
of the proceeds of the sale of copra and placing it to the credit of government funds.
Neither the copra producers nor the gold-mining companies are allowed to retain the
proper proceeds from their activities. There can be no justification for the actions of
the Government in this regard. Copra producers should he paid the full proceeds that
their product brings on the worlds markets. The Minister for External Territories has
denied that anomolies exist in his administration. Why, then, was not the honorable
gentleman willing to agree to my request that an all party parliamentary committee
should visit Papua and New Guinea during the winter recess for the purpose of reporting
on affairs there? Such, a report would be valuable in very many ways. The honorable
gentleman, however, took advantage of the standing order which limited the time of the
debate on that occasion and prevented other honorable gentlemen from speaking to my
motion. Since then he has visited Geneva and no doubt with much arrogance submitted 95
amendments during: certain discussions on native affairs. I have no doubt that the
honorable gentleman, notwithstanding his immature experience in the administration of
native affairs, employed typical rabblerousingstatements such as he uses in public
meetings in East Sydney in telling the conference which he was addressing of his own
magnificent administration. I donot criticize the officials of the PapuaNew Guinea
administration, many of whom made the supreme sacrifice during the war. Some hundreds of
them werelost in the Japanese hell-ship
Government. One of the officers lost was a brother of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) who, in a public office in New Guinea which correspondsto that of the Treasurer of this country, rendered signal service to the whole community.
The Government has not seen fit to restore the former administration in these territories, but has applied a policy which is alleged to be more satisfactory and more helpful in respect of the natives. I point out that the administration formerly provided medical and educational facilities under conditions which did not spoil the natives, whereas the policy being applied by this Government is totally unsatisfactory in that regard. Of what use is it to pay natives in bank-notes to meet claims for war damage, for these simple-minded people do not understand the value of money? It would be far better for the Government to restock villages with pigs and poultry, andto provide seed for the replanting of gardens. The variations which the Minister for External Affairs has made in the indenture system have also been unsatisfactory. The new conditions are too restrictive and the period of employment, which is now one year, is too short to give satisfactory results. We have the extraordinary situation of one Minister of this Government making provision for former Polish soldiers to come to this country conditionally upon their agreeing to remain in their employment for two years, while another Minister, who is in charge of our external territories, provides a system of employment which requires natives to remain in their employment for only one year. It is alleged that the previous indentures enforced slave conditions upon the natives, whereas in fact, they could more properly be compared with the indentures signed by apprentices, seamen and the like. The Minister for External Affairs has adopted a very high-handed attitude. We can only hope that during his travels he has acquired more wisdom. Under existing conditions, there is every justification for our asking that an inquiry be made into the administration of Papua and New Guinea, so that the good reputation of Australia in regard to native administration may be preserved. He should invite members of all parties in the Senate and the House of Representatives to accompany him to the territories, so that they could gain a better idea of what is being done there. While the honorable gentleman was overseas, the Minister for the Army
(Mr. Chambers)administered his department. I submitted in writing to that Minister a proposal in regard to a parliamentary visit, but he replied that the duties of his own department were too heavy to permit of his making a visit. Other members of the Opposition were also prepared to go. The Minister has said that shortly he will again visit the territory. He made a very brief visit some years ago. On the next occasion, he should not confine his attentions to the Port Moresby district, in which, we know, a lavish native village is being built at an expenditure of about £100,000, while the natives of theRabaul region, whose villages were bombed, whose numbers were substantially reduced, and who need medical attention, are being neglected. The honorable gentleman should travel widely in the territory, and remain there for a considerable time. When he returned from his last visit, he read a tribute from some native about “what a fine fellow number one Government was “. Other natives, though, held different opinions. I have on the noticepaper a motion, the debate on which could have been concluded long ago, had the Minister so desired. It proposes -
That a Joint Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the following:
the inadequacy of the administration whichhas 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 with a 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 should advance sound reasons for the large expenditure proposed, and show how the money is being expended. He should also explain why experiments are being conducted in the growing of tea, seeing that a similar scheme, when previously proposed, was i ejected. Labour is scarce in the territories. Should the growing of tea be undertaken a further difficulty arises. If the Minister places before us a complete report, we shall be able to judge as to whether or not the proposed expenditure is justifiable.
– I desire to reply to the suggestions of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen).
The honorable member for the Northern Territory, in his opening remarks, congratulated the Government on its selection of an administrator. I appreciate his congratulations, and am confident that the gentleman appointed will prove to be one of the best administrators ever to have held that responsible office. In the brief period during which Mr. Driver has had charge of the Northern Territory, he has won the confidence of the people by his outstanding ability and untiring energy in formulating a programme for the development of an area which has received very scant consideration from all previous governments. I realize that the development of the Northern Territory is not an easy task. I have no fantastic ideas. But I have said in this Parliament, as well as in other places, that the Northern Territory will have a very great future if it is properly treated. Up to date, it has not had just consideration from either lessees or any other section. About two years ago, I made an extensive tour of the territory, and was amazed at the lack of development and facilities. I found that big companies such as Vesteys, Bovril Australian Estates Limited, and others had depended wholly on ‘the natural resources of the country. Cattle were travelling 12 miles backward and forward to a waterhole. That meant that they spent the whole of their time walking out to feed and back to water. How could stock be expected to keep in condition in such wretched circumstances? My investigations convinced me that an administrative change was necessary. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory, myself and others who have had the opportunity of coming into contact with the new Administrator know, the Government has done a very good job in that connexion. . We all are determined to benefit by past mistakes.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory referred to the availability of land in the territory. Not a lot of land is available at the present time. That which is available will be thoroughly surveyed by the Director of Lands. I shall not take any risks in connexion with its allocation until I have examined his report. The time has arrived when full consideration must be given to the future welfare of the lands of the Northern Territory, and I intend, even at the cost of delay, to ensure that a proper survey of them shall be made by thoroughly competent men before coming to any decisions.
I have decided to make provision for a land court by an amendment of the existing legislation. I assure the honorable member for the Northern Territory that the draft of the amendment is in the Attorney-General’s Department, and will be sent to the newly elected Legislative Council next January. Those people who consider that they have not had a just and fair deal will then be able to approach a court of appeal.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory also referred to mining development. The -Government has given attention to the position at Tennant Creek. The Administrator, who is a water conservation engineer, selected a site, and a successful bore was sunk. The matter of reticulation is now being handled by the Department of Works and Housing. I hope that, in the very near future, the water will he laid on to Tennant Creek. The other proposal is more difficult, because of the meagre population at Maranboy, but we realize that there are possibilities of developing the tin-field there. The possibility of obtaining water from Beswick Creek is being examined by the Administrator.
The honorable member also criticized the design of houses being erected in Darwin. I know that he realizes the difficulties associated with putting the new plan into effect, but sometimes I am at a loss to understand his attitude. I am sure that he realizes that the Government is determined that, notwithstanding all obstacles, Darwin will be built in such a fashion that it will be, not only an important asset, but also an advertisement to Australia. The administration has been most careful in choosing suitable designs for houses in the Northern Territory. It even sent an expert to Brazil to get whatever information was obtainable from that country about buildings for hot climates. The honorable member commended the work of a certain officer of the department, and then went on to say that he did not know now whether the man was dead or alive. As a matter of fact, the officer referred to is still in the employ of the Department of Works and Housing, and his principle work is to watch carefully building development in the Northern Territory. Because of its strategic value, the Northern Territory is regarded by the Government as of great importance to Australia. The more it is developed, the better it will be for Australia as a whole.
The honorable member for Parkes asked for information about the reports of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the work of the Northern Development Committee. That committee was created in accordance with an agreement between the Governments of Western Australia, Queensland and the Commonwealth to direct the work of qualified men planning the development of northern Australia. It is obvious that any important developmental work in Queensland on the one side, or Western Australia on the other, would have its effect upon settlement in the Northern Territory. For instance, developmental work by the Government of Western Australia in connexion with the Ord River scheme would also affect the territory over the border. I am sure that the two State governments mentioned working in conjunction with this Government, will be able to bring much valuable land into pro- duction. Those persons who criticize proposals for the development of land in the Territory have usually either not seen it at all, or merely flown over it in an aeroplane. I believe that there is great room for development in the Ord River district, especially in the production of tobacco and cotton, just as there is in the Katherine area. In its efforts to develop the Northern Territory, the Government is hampered by the conservative legislation and administrative acts of previous governments, and in particular, by the unjustifiably long leases which were granted. These leases cannot be terminated except by paying unduly high compensation. Until the land, which’ is the subject of the leases, is available for re-allocation, the Government’s scheme for development will be held up.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory also complained because there was no scheme in operation in the territory for the settlement of ex-servicemen, and he drew an unfavorable comparison between what was happening in the territory and in Western Australia. In reply to him, I point out that very little of the land in the Northern Territory is suitable for closer settlement. It is the wish of the Government to protect exservicemen from exploitation, and to prevent them from acting as dummies for big financial interests. Therefore, the Government will not define its policy in regard to land settlement in the Territory until it has received the report of the Lands Director, who is making a complete survey of suitable areas.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) about the administration of the territories
of Papua and New Guinea. I do not wish to enter into a violent controversy with the
Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) on
this subject, because I know that he is inclined to regard criticism of his department
as a personal attack on himself. I have before me the Commonwealth Year-Book for 1939, showing the expenditure on the
territories of Papua and New Guinea at that time when Australian colonization of those
areas was in a reasonably nourishing condition. In 1939, the expenditure on Papua and
New Guinea was about £1,000,000, about £500,000 being expended on each. In
the Estimates before us the total appropriation for the territories of Papua and New
Guinea is £2,779,000. Thus, compared with the normal provision in pre-war years,
an additional amount of approximately £1,750,000 is to he provided. I <lo not
doubt that certain circumstances may exist to-day that call for increased expenditure
; but in view of the enormous amount of money to be provided, we are entitled to some
information as to the items on which it is to be expended. The manner in which these
Estimates have been presented to the committee demonstrates how the Government is
attempting to smother up its proposed1 expenditure in these territories. The first
item under Division No. 255 reads: “ Grant to Provisional Administration towards
expenses, including native welfare, war damage and reconstruction, £2,350,000
“. A lump sum is provided for those services. Under item 10, restoration of lands
and roads, an additional amount of £40,000 has been provided and an additional
amount of £100,000 has also been provided for reopened plantations - clearing
secondary growth. The committee and the taxpayers generally are entitled to have a
detailed statement showing how all this money is to be expended so that they may know
whether extravagances in the administration of the territory are contemplated. In
almost every instance in government accounting, a dissection of large amounts is given
so that honorable members are able to see at a glance what is proposed. Only those who
have something to hide cloak their accounts in obscurity in this way. I stress the
enormous expenditure proposed to be incurred by the Department of External Territories
by comparison with the vote for the Australian Capital Territory. For the whole of the
Australian Capital Territory, including Jervis Bay, an amount of £740,500 is to
be provided, or only approximately one-quarter of the vote for Papua and New Guinea.
In the estimates of expenditure for the Australian Capital Territory, a complete
breakdown is given showing by what departments and on what services the money is to be
expended. The honorable member for Balaclava
– The honorablemember is misrepresenting the facts. He is deliberately stone-walling in order to prevent me from replying to his deliberately untrue statements.
– The right honorable member for Cowper cited the case of his brother’s widow, but no reply has been made by the Minister. If I am able to provoke him into making a reply-
– The honorable member knows that the time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes now before the committee is on the point of expiry.
– The Government imposed the time limit on the consideration of these Estimates and accordingly it must accept responsibility for any disabilities that may arise therefrom. But he is in control of the treasury bench at the moment, and the Government is in control of the country. If he cannot reply now, he ought to be able to reply on some other occasion.
– I will.
– A reply is also-
– Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, Papua, New Guinea and Norfolk Island has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That the following resolution be reported to the House: - That, including the several sums already voted for such services, there be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1947-48, for the several services hereunder specified, a sum not exceeding £162,015,000.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That, towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the service of the year 1947-48, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum not exceeding £93,826,000.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr.Dedman and Mr. Scully do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Dedman, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That thebill be now read a second time.
.- When the Estimates were under consideration I found it impossible to discuss the matter of Land Sales Control and the royal commission thereon because the Prime Minister acts in a dual capacity. As Treasurer, he is in charge of the Land Sales Control, and, as Prime Minister, he is in charge of royal commissions, but I could not combine the two. So I take this opportunity of saying what I had hoped to say before. When a government appoints a royal commission, it frames its own terms of reference and chooses its own judge. That is why I have always opposed the appointment of royal commissions. The land sales inquiry was a travesty from start to finish. Extraordinary steps were taken by the Government to restrict its ambit. All requests for a full and complete inquiry were rejected. The actual conduct of the inquiry was even more extraordinary. The commissioner skilfully adhered to the letter of his restricted terms of reference. Land Sales Control comes directly under the control of the Treasurer. Mr. Lush was the Treasurer’s personal delegate. He graduated from the Treasurer’s office at Canberra. No phase of governmental activity was closer to the Prime Minister’s personal administration. He has kept his finger on the pulse of Land Sales Control throughout. It was his pet creation. Like Caesar’s wife, it was supposed to be incorruptible. A Prime Minister, jealous of the reputation of his administration, would have insisted on throwing the doors wide open. He would have insisted on a complete, unrestricted parliamentary inquiry. He would have appeared himself before the inquiry. Then, if misconduct or wrongdoing was proven against any of his officers, he would have taken prompt and decisive action against the wrong-doers. If it was the system that was at fault, then he would have altered the system. But what do we find? First, inordinate delay while the terms of reference were found. That could be only for the purpose of protecting the Government. Then, when adverse findings were recorded, no action was taken. Despite all the precautions, misconduct was clearly established. But the Government has taken no action against the culprits. Why? Is it afraid that the whole story may come to light ? The whitewash brush left too many dirty stains as it was for the Government’s peace of mind. The inquiry proved that the Treasurer’s administration of his own department has been a failure. Sydney was the largest office. On the Government’s own admission it has failed twice - before Lush and after Lush. The trouble with Mr. Lush started in 1945. But nothing happened until May, 1947. Was not the Treasurer aware of what was happening in his own department? Months prior to the public exposure in May last, the dogs were barking that all was not well in Sydney Land Sales Control. Is it a fact that the Treasurer summoned Mr. Lush to Canberra at one stage? Were certain rumours discussed at that interview? If he knew, why did he not act promptly? Why did he wait until after the scandals were disclosed in the press, and the matter had been raised, not once, but on several occasions in this Parliament? Only a very stubborn administrator would have refused to admit that the control of land sales is bad, not only in principle, but also in its administration. No human being can be expected to give honest and correct decisions on the thousands of applications which are handled by the office. Only a stubborn administrator would have failed to take the only possible action, namely, to abolish the control of land sales immediately. The evidence showed that the
Treasurer’s delegates had discretionary as well as plenary powers. Land Sales Control officials were inundated with thousands of applications, all of which required individual decisions, and the officials were not even experienced in the rudiments of real estate. They had had no legal experience. Thus the jeweller’s travelling salesman had absolute power to determine the value of an estate. The recommendations of the advisory committee vere ignored. By a stroke of the pen, a poorly paid public servant can add thousands of pounds to an approved valuation. That, in itself, is vicious. Those responsible for such a system are accessories before thu fact in any act of corruption.
The conduct of the inquiry was even more disturbing than what it revealed about some of the principals. As soon as it seemed that there was a danger that the inquiry might get beyond the Lush affair, all concerned took extraordinary steps to bottle it up again. There was the incident of Mr. Lush’s famous list. He was accused of having given preferential treatment, and personal attention to Parry, Burke and Alexander. In reply, Lush said that he was ready to submit a li3t of the names of 30 other persons to whom he had given similar treatment. Immediately, there was a panic. . He said that his list included the names of some members of this Parliament. It was even suggested that it included the names of two Ministers, as well as those of certain other prominent political figures. So the commissioner ruled that there was nothing wrong in giving preferential treatment to such people. No matter how he tried, Lush’s counsel was unable to get that list before the commissioner.
Sitting suspended from 12.^5 to 2.15 p.m.
– In excluding such evidence, the commissioner said -
I have decided not to admit into evidence the list of names tendered by Mr. Isaacs, or to admit evidence of the preferential treatment Mr. Lush may have given to persons or bodies other than those mentioned in the terms of reference.
At this stage I am in a position to say that, whatever else it may amount to, the general giving of preferential treatment by
Mr. Lushto those named in the royal commission does not, in itself, amount to wrongdoing or misconduct.
He went on to say -
I have to decide whether in particular transactions other acts or omissions amounted! to misconduct, either on the part of
Mr. Lush,who was admittedly giving preferential’ treatment, or on the part of others, who wereadmittedly receiving it.
The royal commissioner so ruled. Yet,, at the end of the inquiry, the original accusations were revived, and Lush was condemned on this very matter. Should not the list be produced, even at thislate stage? If any member, including a Cabinet Minister, used his official position to bring any influence to bear on a public servant delegated .with such re- sponsibilities, then the door would be wide open for the pollution of the entire system. Lush was most effectively gagged when he attempted to produce the list; produce it, Mr. Speaker, in his own defence. It was ruled out, under the terms of reference.
Then there was the Alderman affair. Mr. Alderman
is an Adelaide lawyer who specializes in political lobbying. He has proved himself a
very slick operator. Since the present Government came into power, he appears to have
devoted very little of his time to his legal practice in Adelaide. During 1942 and 1943,
he attached himself to the then Minister for the Army. He put in a lot of time around
Darwin. As a result, he put in a bill of costs to the Government, amounting to
£6,460 15s. He charged for 93 days in “ operational and bombed areas “, at
twenty guineas a day. Also, for 259 days which he spent in Sydney and Melbourne, he
charged at the rate of fifteen guineas a day. In addition, he charged, for 352 days,
travelling expenses at £1 10s. a day. Eventually, he agreed to settle his claim for
£6,000, after the bill had been queried. Had
It is the same Mr. Alderman who bobbed up trafficking in the broadcasting licences of Jehovah Witnesses. Once again, he proved himself a slick operator. On behalf of Jehovah Witnesses, he traded its Adelaide broadcasting station to the Methodist Church and the South Australian branch of the Australian Labour party. Then, he turned his attention to Newcastle, in New South Wales. He persuaded the Australian Labour party to “ part up “ £4 a share for 2HD, then a defunct station, or £16,000 in all. That indicates just how expert Mr. Alderman is as a trader.
It is not surprising, therefore, to find Alderman interesting himself in Land Sales
Control. He bobbed up in Canberra on behalf of the Western Assurance Company. According
to the very busy Mr. Balmford, he gave the very
persistent Mr. Alderman from three to four hours of
his time while Mr. Alderman applied the pressure to
increase the price of a property in Pitt-street, Sydney, mind you, not Adelaide.
Eventually, Mr. Balmford agreed to an increase of
£4,000 on the previously approved price. So,
Then there was the Parry affair. Parry, also, was a man who specialized in political contacts. He was another parasite on the people who control the Government’s political machine. He is a man who thrived on political favours. He knew his way around, especially through the back door. But the inquiry did not start at the beginning of the Parry affair. It carefully avoided the stench of the Victory Garden which became a golf course. Parry had immediate access not only to Lush, but also to Canberra.” Parry purchased the Fenwick estate, comprising 86 acres, in December, 1943, for the sum of £10,000. At that time, Lush was not in charge of the Sydney office. The commissioner reported that the file relating to the Treasurer’s consent could not be found, so was not available to the inquiry. Parry, in acquiring the estate, had only one object in mind, and that was to subdivide it and make a huge profit. The Victory Garden enabled him to obtain government assistance in preparing his estate for subdivision. When Mr. Parry decided to collect his profits, he came to Canberra and saw the Treasurer personally. He wanted to purchase two extra blocks. The Treasurer informed him that he would grant his request provided that the estate was not to be subdivided at a profit. In July, 1945, Parry transferred ll acres of land in a property called the Golf Links estate to a family company and proceeded with his plan to subdivide it. The valuation placed upon that land and an adjoining li acres was only £2,900. Parry .wanted to sell it for £9,000. He knew that at the time the Housing Commission of New South Wales intended to resume the land in furtherance of a government housing scheme. Lush wrote to the Canberra Land Sales Control office on the 22nd October. 1945, in the following terms : -
Whatever prices are finally agreed to will result in Mr. Parry making a substantial profit on the transaction. The question then arises whether any limitation should be placed on the amount of that profit, or whether approval should be granted for the sale of each allotment at prices which are reasonable for similar land in the same area.
That was Mr. Lush’s submission. Mr. Balmford, who had the advantage of constant contact with the Treasurer, replied two days later in the following terms : -
It would not be practicable to introduce a fixed margin of profit based on the original purchase price and be able to maintain that position on appeal. As subdivisions are now permitted we must stand by February, 1942V valuations and comparable sales when determining the price of each allotment.
I should like to know, and the people would like to know, whether that was the Treasurer’s own decision? How can it be reconciled with the decision embodied in the original letter of the Treasurer to Parry intimating that he would not be permitted to sell” at a profit? Lush consented to the sale at £8,400, which represented a profit of 200 per cent, for Parry, while the Housing Commission was in the process of resuming that land. To obtain the Treasurer’s consent, in order to establish a value for the estate which the
Housing Commission was about to resume, became a matter of vital importance to Parry.
Towards the end of the inquiry it looked as though the entire story would come out
and that the probe would go right back to the beginning, but Parry, the chief witness,
suddenly left Australia. This Parliament is entitled to a full explanation of all the
circumstances surrounding Parry’s escape from the jurisdiction of the royal
commission. Counsel instructed by the Crown knew that he was about to leave the country,
but took uo steps to prevent his departure. One cannot help but ask : Did counsel for
the Crown receive any instructions? If they did, from whom did they obtain them? Parry
obtained a passport and a taxation clearance, and I have no doubt that he also obtained
dollars. Why? The Government had a clear responsibility to ensure that Parry remained in
this country. How did its members know that criminal proceedings would not have to be
taken as the result of the commissioner’s report? The fact is that Parry was an
embarrassment to many people while he remained here, ‘because he knew too much. He
had subdivided the land and had done so at a profit; something which was contrary to the
terms of his explicit agreement with the Treasurer. If
The final chapter in the story of this inquiry is the astounding promotion of the
royal commissioner. He was appointed to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and
Arbitration while still considering his report. It was wrong for the Government to make
such an offer to him, and it was wrong for the judge to accept it. The Government’s
administration was clearly on trial. An’ adverse finding on its administration would
have damaged it immeasurably. We have wit- nessed the spectacle frequently of
governments taking refuge from hostileinquiries by pleading that matters the subject of
inquiries are sub judice. Here,, the Government
itself was sub judice; yet it had the audacity,
while the royal commissioner was still considering his report,, to offer him a promotion
!. That should be sufficient to shock any one who desiresto see the integrity of our
judicial system maintained. Such a thing should never have happened, and it has tainted
the entire proceedings and the commissioner’s report. There was a time when members
of the judiciary of this country had a really high conception of their obligation to
hold themselves aloof from controversy. The late
British justice is founded on the impartiality of the judiciary, not for the sake of the judges as private individuals, but because they are the channels by which the King’s justice is conveyed to the people. To be impartial, and to be universally thought so. are both absolutely necessary for the giving of justice in free, open and uninterrupted currents.
That principle has been undermined by this Government.
– I know that the honorable member for Reid
– He was limited by the terms of reference.
– The honorable member is suggesting that all the muck-rakers in Australia should have been given an opportunity to go before the judge and prolong the inquiry for year after year.
– That is not right.
– Of course it is right. Certain charges were made in this House after Mr. Lush, at my direction, had been removed from his official position in Sydney on the grounds that he had been guilty of irregularities in regard to procedure. On that general ground the inquiry was conducted. I do not want to go into the matter any further than to refer honorable members to the report of Judge Kirby. The statement that he had been ordered, or in some way induced, to give decision of a certain kind is not only slanderous, but is also the sheerest nonsense. I do not know him personally.
I have had no contact with the parties concerned in the inquiry except
that on one occasion I had an interview lasting for about ten minutes with Mr. Parry, M.L.C., who was at one time chairman of the
Sydney County Council, and, I understand, mayor of one of the Sydney municipalities for
eleven or twelve years. I mention the record of
– Is the Prime Minister suggesting that
– I do not suggest that. I wish to refute at once the suggestion that the offer
of a judgeship was made to Judge Kirby while he was conducting the inquiry, or while
he was preparing his report. Nothing of the kind occurred. Judge Kirby has conducted
a number of inquiries. He was detailed for this inquiry by the Chief Justice of New
South Wales, Sir Frederick Jordan, with the
consent of the Government of New South Wales, in the same way as other judges have
been detailed from time to time for similar work. That is how he came to conduct
this particular inquiry. The honorable member for Reid spoke of Mr. Parry. I do not know Mr. Parry, but, as I have said, on. one occasion I did see him in
Canberra. He was a member of the Legislative Council in New South “Wales, and I
was asked to see him. In reply to the interjection of the honorable member for
Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), I now say that I do
not know who was the member of Parliament who asked me to see Mr. Parry. I saw
I now turn to Mr. Alderman. He is a professional
man whom I have met on several occasions in Canberra, but I think that I have had only
one conversation with him that related to anything associated with business. He came to
Canberra to represent a certain airline company in which some members of th»
Opposition have been greatly interested. The company was not Trans- Australia Airlines.
I understand that Mr. Alderman is the personal
representative of that company. It is true that he represented the Government in certain
cases; I think that he was assisting counsel to
I deeply regret that Mr. Lush was diverted from the path of rectitude. At the same time, I know that this is not a world in which every one is perfect. Even the disciples of Christ had their defects. I shall not be one to punish too severely a man who was induced by sharp business men to fall by the wayside.- I shall not lend myself to that sort of thing,, especially as the judge stated in his report that Mr. Lush had already suffered, severely for his actions. Although hewill not fill the same job again, or a similar job, I am not prepared to throw him out in the street. He has been more sinned against than sinning, because he was influenced by “ slick “ business men. One would have assumed that a man who was a member of the Sydney City Council for ten or eleven years; chairman of the County Council, he having been elected to that position and not appointed to it by any government ; a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales,, elected largely by the votes of the conservative section of the community, because he is not a Labour man-
– He is not a Liberal. The right honorable gentleman knowsthat he is an independent.
– At the time that Mr. Parry was elected to the LegislativeCouncil of New South Wales he must have received the support of a large number of conservatives.
– He must have received sufficient Labour votes to swing the balance.
– I could tell a nice story about that. He is not on our side. Will the right honorable gentleman explain why Mr. Parry was allowed toleave the country?
– I do not know what legal powers exist which would have prevented Mr. Parry from leaving Australia. So far as I know, there isnothing to prevent any citizen from going to the Taxation Branch and. provided the police do not object, obtaining a taxation clearance to leave Australia. That matter is dealt with not on a ministerial level, but by the Commissioner of Taxation. Every honorable member whois not entirely ignorant of government administration is aware of that. As to theissue of the passport, I do not think anybody has protested more vociferously about passports than have honorablemembers opposite.
– Would theright honorable gentleman give the honorable member for Reid a passport toleave the country?
– I know of no legal reason why the honorable member for Reid should not be issued with a passport to leave Australia, though there may be some moral reasons for refusing it because of the irresponsible charges he makes against certain people. I know of no legal power vested in Judge Kirby which would have enabled him to prevent Parry from leaving Australia. If Judge Kirby wanted Parry to give further evidence he could have taken the necessary steps to secure it; apparently he had already satisfied himself as to the type of man Parry was and the business methods which he had adopted. I would not have taken any notice of the general charges made by the honorable member for Reid except that I wanted an opportunity to clear up this point. The honorable member has been pressing them for a long time and they have not benefited him very much. I do not like a judge, whom I do not know personally, but who enjoys the highest reputation in his profession and in the community, to be subjected to unfair criticism. I do not know what government appointed Judge Kirby to the Bench, nor am I interested to know. All I am concerned about is that the learned judge is held in high repute. Mr. Alderman is, I understand, a reputable citizen of Adelaide who apparently represents certain big capitalist companies and comes here - like other lobbyists who mostly sit behind the Opposition parties - to press the claims of his principals. I do not object to his doing so. If these people believe that they are entitled to see their parliamentary representatives they have every right to do so. That was common practice long before I came into the Parliament.
– They come to us in the open.
– The honorable member may rest assured that they do not come to me-
– Big business supports the Australian Labour party just as much as it does the parties in opposition.
– I assure the honorable member that they do not come to me in secret. The political friends of honorable members come here and, because they are citizens of the community, I grant them an interview if time permits. I do not ask them what their politics are. I am a servant of the public in this country, and if any man believes that he has a grievance and his parliamentary representative thinks it should be submitted to me, I see the man if time permits, irrespective of what his political beliefs may he. I regard it as the duty of every public man to do so. I do not ask people for whom, they voted at the last elections or for whom they propose to vote at the next elections. I should never refuse to see any man because his political convictions differed from my own. I have made that clear ever since I first entered politics as a private mem ber No matter how violently a man may disagree with me politically, if he suffers under a sense of injustice I see him if 1 am able to do so.
-Order! The time allotted for the consideration of all stage; of the Appropriation Bill has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Australian Representation Overseas - SERVICEWOMEN’S Pay - “War Service Homes : Position of “War “Widows - “Western Australian Shipping Services - Cornsacks.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I am glad that the forms of the House give honorable members an opportunity to raise matters that they believe to be of great public importance. On another occasion I endeavoured to say something in regard to the subject I am now about to discuss, but was prevented from doing so. What happened, subsequently, is now history, and I propose to say no more about it. There comes a time, however, when, notwithstanding the use of the forms of the House to prevent an honorable member from expressing his views, an opportunity to do so presents itself. I avail myself of that opportunity now. 1 understand that the public departments are to have made available to them sums of money to defray the cost of Australian representation overseas greatly in excess of those provided during the last financial year. The .information I have shows that the amounts proposed to be provided for this purpose are as follows: - International Labour Conferences, representation, £38,000; World Trade and Employment Conference, representation, £4’0,000; United’ Nations Pood and Agriculture Organization, contribution and representation, £47,000; United Nations Organization, representation, £95,000; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, contribution and representation, £61,000; South Pacific Commission, contribution and representation, £30,000. The items covering representation alone total £173,000, and those covering representation and contributions total £138,000. Representation at the International Labour Conference is estimated to cost £38,000, an amount almost equal to the cost of Australia’s contribution, namely, £36,000. One may reasonably assume that the same ratio will obtain in regard to all items in which representation and contribution are lumped together. We might, therefore, add to the known estimated cost of representation one-half of the £138,000 representing both representation and contribution, which will give us a grand total of £252,000, which this Government proposes to expend during this financial year on overseas representation. It is interesting to ascertain what the Government expended last year, a year of extraordinary government jaunting, on this account. The information I have shows that the cost of our representation at the International Labour Conference was £31,338; at minor conferences, £9,879; Conference on International Trade and Employment, £49,922; United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, £45,495; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, £33,551; International Institute of Agriculture, Rome, £8,351; and South Seas Commission, £3,716. On a proportionate basis, we arrive at an amount of £31,000 in respect of those headings, making a total cost of representation for this financial year of £161,000. Thus, the Government proposes to make available approximately an additional £100,000 of the taxpayers’ money to meet the cost for the current financial year of representation overseas on these conferences. I do not say that the Government should not be adequately represented overseas. Indeed, in the international sphere the Government should pull its weight and ensure that expression shall be given to Australia’s point of view in the councils of the world; but when we find this extravagance at a time when the Australian people are bearing so heavy a burden of taxation to send Government supporters on joy-rides it is high-time that it was exposed. The public should be informed that the Government intends to expend £100,000 more this financial year on jaunts of this kind than was expended last year.
– They are all going overseas again.
– I do not know what the Government proposes to do, but it has reached the apex of
financial foolishness in its expenditure on these jaunts. I have in my hand a letter
written by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to the
honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder)
setting out details of Government representation at various conferences last year. I
shall take only one example, namely, the International Labour Organization conference.
When the Opposition parties were inoffice, the International Labour Organization
called for representation of Australia at least once a year and we complied with that
request, sending delegates to represent the Government, employers and employees.
However, we found that on other occasions Australia could be quite adequately
represented at International. Labour Organization conferences by one of our high
commissioners. But what do we find to-day? During the last fourteen months this
Government has sent no fewer than nine ministerial supporters as delegates
toInternational Labour Organization conferences. Can any one seriously say that such
representation is justified, or that the Government is not using the International
Labour Organization purely as- an excuse to give joy rides to its supporters in this
Parliament? Here are the particulars:
– There is some doubt as to whether the comment made by the Sydney Morning Herald in the footnote to that report is libellous.
– Well, let the honorable senator have a “ go “ at Mr. Browne.
– Browne has not made outside the statement which was made in this House.
– Browne has publicly stated outside that
Mr. WARD AT GENEVA.
Conduct of Case Criticized.
Presentation of Australia’s case at the International Labour Organization in Geneva was criticized yesterday by Councillor H. P. Higginson, president of the Employers’ Federation in an address to the Melbourne Junior Chamber of Commerce.
Councillor Higginson was one of the employers’ delegates at Geneva. The Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) and Senator Amour represented the Australian Government. More than 100 submissions were made by Australia to the conference, but Mr. Ward had 9(> amendments, of which about six were accepted, Councillor Higginson said. Their presentation was a “ larrikin “ presentation which did not do Australia any good, he declared.
We have one example of Senator Amour being tossed off the plane in San Francisco because of questionable practices, and that of a Minister being told that his representations were larrikin representations. Yet the people of Australia are paying more money than ever before only to get that sort of representation overseas.
– Order f The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I direct the attention of the Minister of the Army (Mr. Chambers) to a certain matter that concerns women who remain in the women’s services. It concerns their pay. About three months ago there was a general rise of Army pay, but, although these women were, I presume, to obtain the same rise, they have not received it, although repeated representations have been made through their officers for it. The last rise they received was in 1942, when they received an extra 4d. a day. In June last year, they had their taxation remission taken from them. They now have to pay income tax where formerly they had not to do so. That means that they are losing money. A warrant officer until June last was paid at the rate of 8s. 8d. a day, plus 2s. a day deferred pay. She now draws that amount, that is 10s. 8d. a day, and she has to pay ls. a day tax, which means that she is ls. a day worse off than formerly, instead of better off, as she is presumed to be by the public since Army rates of pay have been increased. The comment made to me was that any person who had been in the employ of the same employer for six years would consider herself unfairly treated if at the end of that period she was worse off than before. Another point is that this warrant officer receives less than the lowest paid stenographer in the Repatriation Department. She assures me that it is a matter of considerable heartburning that members of the public are inclined to believe that girls in the services are employed unnecessarily, when, as a matter of fact, their very presence is saving money in the matter of pay. So I ask the Minister for the Army to look into this matter immediately and ensure that the increased rate is speedily applied to the women’s services.
Recently, I asked the Minister for Works and Housing
– I am pleased that the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Snipping is present, because I desire to bring to the notice of the Government the shipping position as it affects Western Australia. For some weeks, there has been a disagreement between the Fremantle Tally Clerks Union and the Federated Clerks Union of Australia. The Federated Clerks Union, which is led by a gentleman named Hughes, who, I understand, is on the central executive of the Communist party of New South Wales, has determined that the Fremantle Tally Clerks Union shall join the Federated Clerks Union. The result is a hold-up throughout Australian ports. Tally clerks will not handle cargoes to or from Western Australia. At the moment a conciliation commissioner is in Perth. I understand he has informed the men that he will not hear their case until they resume work. On top of that, we are faced with the position of the foremen stevedores threatening to go on strike if they do not have certain conditions granted to them. I understand that a conference is taking place in Sydney this afternoon on that matter and that there is every possibility that it will be satisfactorily settled over the week-end. In the hope that it will be, I am informed that the Australian Shipping Board will berth a vessel on Monday morning as a test case. As regards cargoes for Western Australia, there are at Sydney 14,000 tons, at Newcastle 7,000 tons and at Port Kembla 2,200 tons. The cargo at Newcastle and Port Kembla consists mainly of steel and steel pipes urgently required in areas in Western Australia that experienced drought this year. The cargoes also include home-building materials urgently needed in Western Australia. It is no use making ships available to load at Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla unless they can take on cargoes for
Western Australia only and proceed direct to Fremantle. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson), who is at the table will understand the position perfectly, being a Western Australian. A considerable proportion of the 14,000 tons of cargo lying at Sydney is deck cargo, and has been on the wharfs for the past six months. It is mainly m road-making machinery and, owing to the delay in providing shipping to carry it, local governing authorities in Western Australia, who are the purchasers, will be penalized by having to pay the increased price approved by the Prices Commissioner in the meantime. I was speaking, a few moments ago, by telephone, to our liaison officer in Sydney, and he pointed out that, as soon as shipping is resumed, the first essential is to get vessels to load at Sydney, Newcastle and Port Kembla with cargoes for direct transmission to Fremantle.
The position in Melbourne is a little worse than at New South Wales ports, because the accumulated cargo amounts to 25,000 tons. If it is transported by rail the manufacturers concerned have been authorized to charge the increased freight, as compared with sea freight, co the purchasers. That may be normal business practice, but it is hard on the people of Western Australia, who are being penalized because of action of a Communist-inspired union in New South Wales. The 25,000 tons of cargo at Melbourne includes 250 tons of spare parts for harvesting machinery. These are urgently required in Western Australia. As the Minister for the Interior is aware, harvesting is starting in that State now, and will he in full swing in two weeks. The cargo also includes 22 headers, balers, hay presses and other machinery required at harvest time. I mention these commodities because every one appreciates the urgent need for them. It appears that a settlement of the dispute may be reached during the coming week-end, and I urge the Government to instruct the Department of Supply and Shipping to do everything possible to make vessels available at the various ports to load these cargoes’ immediately for Western Australia. One “ River “ class steamer alone could shift the cargoes from Newcastle and Port Kembla, totalling 9,000 tons.
Two ships could clean up theback-lag in Sydney, and another two and a half or three ships at most could remove all available cargoes from Melbourne and Adelaide. Again I urgently request the Government to give serious consideration to this matter.
.- I wish to speak for a few minutes about the serious plight of wheat-farmers in New South Wales in particular, and throughout Australia generally, who are facing to-day a grave shortage of cornsacks. Already protest meetings are being held. In my electorate, such meetings have been held at Forbes, Peak Hill and other wheat-growing centres. For the first time for many years, Australia is to have a “ bumper “ wheat crop ; yet the Government has allocated only one bag per bushel where there is a silo, and four bags per bushel where there is not a silo. The present wheat crop will break all records. An initial survey indicates that it will be between 110,000,000 and 130,000,000 bushels, which is far in excess of anything harvested previously. Providence has been bountiful, but we cannot expect Providence to harvest and transport the crop, nor can we get away from the fact that under Commonwealth law, the Australian “Wheat Board has a complete monopoly of cornsacks. Theboard is the only authority that can import the sacks. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) directs the operations of the board, and therefore he has failed, and his Government has failed to make proper provision for this crop. The crop has not appeared suddenly overnight.We have known for many months that the harvest would be a record. The tragedy is that little can be done now. Bulk storage facilities are totally inadequate. The permanent silo accommodation is limited, and there is insufficient labour or materials to provide emergency silos which in normal timescould be constructed to take the overflow. Wheat farmers are too busy to do the job for which the Government is responsible. There has been a suggestion that baled hay storage accommodation could be used for wheat, but there is a lack of proper waterproofing to cover the baled hay. In addition, this type of storage accommodation cannot be proofed against mice, and finally, there is no flooring. Possibly, with extra trucks, the railways could carry an additional 6,000,000 or 8,000,000 bushels provided the wheat could be unloaded directly into the ships; but what assurance have we thatthose engaged in loading the ships will not be on strike? It would be quite useless for the railways to carry wheat to the ports unless there was some assurance that there would be no shipping strikes or hold-ups, and that the grain could be loaded directs into the ships. What is the Government doing about it? To clear up the uncertainty that exists throughout the country amongst wheat-growers, the Government must say definitely what quantity of bags is in store; what further allocations are to be made, and how soon : what shipments may be expected and will these arrive in time for the harvest; and whether it is prepared to send someone to India in an endeavour to obtain the maximum number of bags required to meet this emergency? Partial loss of the crop would be the greatest tragedy that Australia has faced in food production, particularly in view of the fact that northern hemisphere crops are far below last season’s yield. A hungry world wants all that we can produce. If the Government cannot provide increased storage or more cornsacks, will it compensate the wheat-growers for the loss of their crop, grown, I remind honorable members opposite, under licence ?
– The matters that have been raised by honorable members will be brought to the notice of the appropriate Ministers.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act- Land acquired for Defence purposes -Ross, Tasmania.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance - 1 947 -
No. 7 - Darwin Town Management.
No. 8 - Aboriginals.
No. 9 - Mining.
House adjourned at 3.36 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 October 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19471017_reps_18_193/>.