House of Representatives
3 December 1947

18th Parliament · 1st Session

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

page 3061


Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.

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Mr. Speaker, I desire to direct a question to you relating to what took place last night on the motion for the adjournment of the House. The Minister for Labour and National Service was at that time in charge of the House, and he moved the adjournement. Earlier, my colleague the honorable member for Fawkner had spoken both to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and to myself, indicating that on the motion for the adjournment he desired to refer to the matter of Trans-Australia Airlines, and Trans-Australia Airlines travel, particularly as he had been the representative of my party on a committee that had been discussing those matters under your chairmanship. When the honorable member rose on the question being put, he addressed you, sir, three or four times in my own hearing,but he did not receive the call. I ask why he did not receive the call.


– The position when the House adjourned at approximately 12.20 this morning was that a division on the motion for the third reading of a bill had just been concluded and that every member who had voted was present in the chamber. The result of the division, was, I think, ayes, 39; and noes, 20; so there were 59 members present. I should not be under-estimating the position if I said that when the motion for the adjournment was put there were at least twenty members in the House who were on their feet and calling “ Mr. Speaker “. That is not an unusual occurrence. As a matter of fact, I have seen similar happenings at 3, 4 and 5 o’clock in the morning. I have always considered such calls to be facetious. As the House yesterday sat continuously for some fourteen hours, I thought it might be the sudden release of the tension that induced honorable members to adopt thatattitude. Quite frankly, I did not anticipate that any honorable member seriously wished to receive a call.

If a member desires to speak on the motion for the adjournment it is usual for him to intimate to me his desires to do so. I understand from the Leader of the Opposition that the honorable member for Fawkner spoke to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and to somebody else. He might have paid me the compliment of intimating to me that he desired to speak. However, he did not do so. As there were 59 members present at the time and as at least 20 of them - facetiously, I think-were clamouring “ Mr. Speaker “, it can quite easily be understood how the honorable member for Fawkner was overlooked. I had no personal interest in overlooking him. I put it seriously to the House that if any honorablememberhadbeen in my position he would have considered that the honorable member for Fawkner was the last person who might have been expected to desire to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House. I say that because, just before the motion was put, he had spoken for about 40 minutes, and it requires some enthusiasm, for an honorable member who has spoken for 40 minutes, to speak again on the motion for the adjournment. On the face of it, it is reasonable to suggest that if I were looking for some one who was going to speak on the motion for the adjournment - some one who had not notified me previously - I should look somewhere else than to an honorable member who had just concluded a speech. I do not want to lecture the House, but since there has been some criticism of the conduct of the Chair, let me. point out that the conduct of honorable members is very often open to question. When the Speaker enters the House he is met with respect, honorable members standing in their places. He returns that respect, and if we are to follow slavishly the practice of the House of Commons, he is entitled to the same respect upon leaving the Chair, and not to facetious calls for his attention from honorable members who do not intend to speak. It is becoming a practice in this House to make demonstrations on the motion for the adjournment, and to get considerable publicity in the press. I knew nothing of the desire of the honorable member for Fawkner to speak until I was approached by press representatives a quarter of an hour after the House adjourned, who asked me if I had anything to say in rebuttal of what the honorable member for Fawkner had said. That is all the explanation I intend to make.


by leave - Since you ha ve stated, Mr. Speaker, that it has been my practice to speak frequently on the motion for the adjournment of the House-


– If the honorable member sought for leave to speak in order to misrepresent what I said, I shall ask the House to take notice of the fact. I did not say that it was the practice of the honorable member to speak frequently on the motion for the adjournment, but that it was the custom of honorable members to notify me if they proposed to speak on that motion.


– You said. Mr. Speaker, that it was the practice of honorable members to make demonstrations on the motion for the adjournment of the House with a view to seeking press publicity. The implication was that I had followed that course. As a matter of fact, I have spoken only once on the motion for the adjournment during this sessional period. It has not been my practice to make facetious requests for the call, or to rise and seek the call unless I intended to speak. It has never been the practice, so far as my experience goes, for honorable members to notify the Speaker that they intended to speak on the motion for the adjournment. Honorable members have the right, on that motion, to discuss matters which they believe to be of urgent importance. I had notified my intention to my Leader (Mr. Menzies) the Deputy Leader (Mr. Harrison), and had also spoken to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) earlier in the day, and sought some information from the Minister. Having regard to the lateness of the hour, I would not have sought to speak on the motion for the adjournment had the matter not been one of urgency. The Australian National Airlines Bill was to be debated in the House, and in the interest of my party, and of honorable members generally, it was desirable that the Government should say what it intended to do in respect to the proposal to over-ride decisions previously reached at a meeting of representatives of all parties.

Mr Johnson:

– I rise to make a personal explanation. The honorable member forFawknerhas said that he mentioned tome yesterday that he intended to speak on the adjournment last night.

Mr Holt:

– No. I said that earlier in the day Ihad discussed with the Minister the matter with which I proposed to deal.

Mr Johnson:

– The honorable member definitely implied that he had mentioned his intention to speak on the adjournment not only to the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but also to myself. The honorable member questioned me in regard to members’ privileges and asked whether honorable members were entitled to travel by Trans-Australia. Airlines or Australian National Airways aircraft. I informed him that when TransAustralia Airlines aircraft were available, members were expected to use them because Trans-Australia Airlines was a government instrumentality. The honorable member agreed with that, and said that as it was the decision of the committee, he had no quarrel with it. That was his definite statement to me.

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– In view of the interest aroused in the case of the fourteen Malayan seamen who are to be repatriated, will the Minister for Immigration state, for the information of honorable members and the public generally, the circumstances in which these men entered this country?

Minister for Immigration · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP

– I have some information concerning the circumstances in which the fourteen Malays entered Australia, and in view of the publicity that hits been given to their projected repatriation, I think I should outline these circumstances to the House. One of the Malays deserted his ship in 1942 in Australian waters; another refused to re-sign his ship’s articles in 194.3; and another was permitted to sign off his vessel for recreation leave and failed to rejoin the ship. Three .served with the American transport service and signed off in 1946 pending repatriation. Another was brought here in 1945 from Japan for recuperation and subsequent repatriation. Seven signed off vessels in Australia pending repatriation. No ships were available at the time to repatriate those men, and they were permitted to remain, in this country. I pointed out yesterday that two of the Malays were already married in Singapore before they contracted marriages in Australia with Australian women. I now find that two others included in the fourteen who arc alleged to be married are living with Australian women who are not their wives, but only their de facto wives. I do not propose to make any further investigations. I have already learned enough to be able to convince the Australian people if that he necessary that what the Government, is doing is right and proper, and in accordance with established practice and precedent. The Government does not intend to depart from that practice and precedent.

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether clothes rationing will lie reconsidered, bf ‘.L*. Government with the object of removing restrictions on thi’ sale of all clothing except cotton goods. If rationing is to be reconsidered when may the people expect an announcement in that connexion ?


– I thought that I had. made it clear to the House yesterday that we regarded the supply of materials for clothing now covered by coupon raf.ioni.Jig as very doubtful. We consider tha.r, it is far better to continue the rationing of clothing, particularly those items in doubtful supply, until the Government can be completely sure that there will be no shortage of these materials. The honorable member also asked when will this matter be reviewed. I inform him that all these matters are constantly under review, and I discuss them with the responsible Ministers and the Government. If we are certain of continuity of supplies, we shall review the matter.

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– In view of statements recently made in this House that the dependants of public servants and others who lost their lives as the result of the .Japanese invasion of New Guinea have been unfairly treated, will the Minister for External Territories state specifically what payments are made to these dependants?

Minister for External Territories · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– In all such cases, a civilian war pension is made available at the rate paid to the dependants of a member of the Australian Forces holding the r;ink of private. In other words, a widow receives £2 l»s. -a week, 17s. Gd. in respect of the first child under the age of sixteen years, and 12s. 6d. for each subsequent child, plus a domestic allowance of 7s. 6d. a week. ‘ If there are two children under the age of sixteen years, she also receives child endowment in respect of the second child of 7s. Cd. a week. Therefore, a widow with two dependent children receives £5 a week. If the deceased person was a member of the Commonwealth Public Service, the widow receives a superannuation pension in addition to the civilian war pension. The widow of Mr. H. H. Page, who was Government Secretary in New Guinea and to whom the honorable member for Richmond referred, receives a New Guinea civilian war pension of £2 15s. a week and a superannuation payment of £4 a week, making a total of £6 15s. a week.

Lol rr:

Mr Anthony:

– I wish to make a per so n a l ex p 1lanation .

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– In respect of what subject?


– I was misrepresented by the Minister for External Territories.


– The honorable member was not misrepresented. The Minister merely stated a fact. The Chair will not permit any honorable member to abuse the privileges of the House. The honorable member must resume his seat.

Mr Anthony:

– The Minister abused his privilege ; we expect a little bit of fair treatment.


– Resume your seat.

Mr Anthony:

– You allowed the Minister to make an explanation.


– I name the honorable member for Richmond.

Mr Anthony:

– You “ gagged “ the debate on New Guinea, then you use the privileges of the House to distort-

Motion (by Mr.Chifley) put -

That the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) be suspended from the service of the House.

The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)

AYES: 40

NOES: 20

Majority . . . . 20



Question soresolved in the affirmative.

The honorable member for Richmond thereupon withdrew from the chamber.

page 3064




– I desire to address to the Prime Minister a question relating to the manner in which licences to import from the United States of America essential goods required in the agricultural and timber industries and in open cut coal mines are being held up. By way of explanation, I shall read several extracts from a letter written by the general manager of one of the principal tractor distributing companies of New South Wales. He wrote -

We are becoming very concerned at the delay in receiving advice from the departments concerned in connexion with the securing of licences to import from our principals the necessary spare parts to keep in good order and running condition the diesel tractors sold by thisfirm in New South Wales and Queensland over the last twenty years.

You areaware that all licences covering importations from, dollar countries have been called in far review and all people interested were to” supply full particulars by a certain date.

My correspondent states that the firm has not been able to get any licences duringthe last three months to import spare parts, and emphasizes that it is necessary to maintain a regular flow. He fears that Australian production will’ be held up by the inability of tractors to operate because of the lack of spare parts. He also points out that in New Zealand the matter of spareparts was dealt with expeditiously, and the dealer experienced a delay of only four weeks. In New Zealand the supply of spare parts must be dealt with quickly, and in that dominion a dealer was granted a “‘blanket” licence for 1948 to import all the spare parts which he considered he would need. Will the Prime Minister take steps to expedite the issue of licences for the importation of spare parts for tractors? Will he also arrange to issue “ blanket “ licences for 1948, as was done in New Zealand, for the importation of all necessary spare parts?


– I am not sure whether the honorable member referred to heavy type tractors or agricultural Type tractors.


– I referred to both types of tractors. I am prepared to allow the right honorable gentleman to read the letter.


– As the honorable member knows, all import licences have been called in for review. A considerable number regarded as absolutely essential have been revalidated. Under last week’s order licences involving from £17,000,000 to £18,000,000 worth of imports were cancelled for various reasons; but they are now being examined. The Leader of the Australian Country party, on a previous occasion, raised the subject of spare parts. This relates not only to tractors but also to motor transport generally, involving the necessity to maintain adequate road transport. That aspect is now being examined. The question of spare parts for not only tractors but also generally for motor vehicles already in use is now being urgently examined. I shall followup the matter raised by the honorable member.

page 3065


Report of Public Works Committee


– I present the report, with minutes of evidence, of the Public Works Committee on the following subject: -

Erection of Repatriation Administrative Offices, Perth

Ordered that the report be printed.

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– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the Official Secretary to the Governor-General has been called upon to take over the extra duties of Comptroller? Has his salary been increased to recompense him for the additional work? If so, what is his new salary? Is the Government kept, fully informed regarding changes made from time to time in the GovernorGeneral’s establishment? What is the. appropriate tribunal for the fixationof wages in the establishment? Are all members of the establishment whose salaries are provided by vote from the Consolidated Revenue fund members of the registered trade unions covering their callings ?


– It is intended that the Official Secretary to the GovernorGeneral . shall take over the duties of Comptroller as the result of. the resignation of Captain Crowther. The question of the re-adjustment of salaries is now being considered. Generally these matters are examined by the Public Service Board. The principle adopted by the Government is to secure the advice of the board in relation to such matters, whether they come directly under the jurisdiction of the board or not. The Government has nothing to do with the appointment of servants and other employees at Government House. That, I assume, is a matter for the Comptroller of the Household. I have no intimate knowledge on the subject. Senior appointments, such as that of Official Secretary to the Governor-General, are made by the Government, and I as Prime Minister and Minister in control of the Public Service Board am especially interested in such appointments. I do not know whether members of the Governor - General’s staff are trade unionists. I should imagine that that is a matter for union secretaries and organizers to ascertain.

Mr Lang:

– Are they paid out of Consolidated Revenue?


– There is provision in the Estimates for a certain sum for the payment of salaries and wages to members of the Governor-General’s establishment. At this stage, I cannot give a more detailed answer to the honorable gentleman, but I shall obtain the information and supply it to him. The payments are, I think, covered by the Estimates.

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Fares and Freights - Tasmanian Services - Ansett Amw ays Proprietary Lim mcn.


– yesterday, I asked the Minister for Air whether a certain regulation had been issued by the Civil Aviation Department to the effect that airport facilities would bo denied to contractors who did not charge the fares considered desirable by the Minister, and he- replied that the regulation had been printed in the Gazette. I have since discovered that that is not so. I have however obtained a copy of the regulation, which provides -

Tim owner of au aircraft engaged in a public transport system . . . shall . . . furnish 1:0 thu Minister his tarin* nf charges . .

The Minister may . . . reject any such tarin” and direct the adoption in its stead of such tiri IT as lie considers fair and reasonable . . .

If the owner of an aircraft . . . refuses to furnish hig tari fi’ of charges . . . the Minister may .direct that the aerodrome or facility shall not bc open to . . . thi1 aircraft iti that owner . . .

Can the Minister say if and when thi.’ regulation will he tabled in the Parliament so that a motion for its disallowance may be made?


– It is not correct that I informed the honorable member that the regulation was printed in the Gazette. What I said was–

Mr White:

– The Minister’s statement ir in Hansard.


– A shorthand note was taken of my statement which was as follows -

Regulations have been gazetted under which powers been taken to do certain i ,,e s that are set out therein . . .

I suggest that the honorable member procure a copy and read it.

As usual, the honorable .member for Balaclava, is trying to misrepresent what I said. A regulation has been prepared, but it does not say that occupancy of aerodromes will bo denied to contractors who do not charge certain fares, but that facilities could be so denied. No action has yet, been taken in that direction. A. copy of the regulation was supplied to the honorable member last night as an act of courtesy when I learned that the Government Printer had not been able to print it. As soon as it is printed the regulation will be available for every one to read. So that the honorable member would not be without the, ammunition which he desired to use, I furnished a copy of the regulation to bini, as well as to the Leader of the Opposition.


– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation inform me whether Australian National Airways Limited has applied for permission to fly D.C.4 aircraft to Cambridge aerodrome, Tasmania, in order to cope with extra traffic during the Christmas period? Is it a fact that, the Department of Civil Aviation has refused permission, notwithstanding that the firm’s licences are endorsed to operate such aircraft, and that the company has previously landed aircraft of that type 011 Cambridge aerodrome? Is it also a fa«t. that the department has refused to furnish any explanation of its attitude’?


– I have not heard of any such application having been made by Australian National Airways Limited. However, I shall inquire whether such an application was made, and if it has been refused I shall ascertain the reasons and inform the honorable member. I am confident, that if any such application was rejected, it was on the ground of public safety. The policy of the department is to encourage airline operators to provide the maximum service not only for Tasmania but also for all other parts of Australia.

Mr. DRAKEFORD (MaribyrnongMinister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation). - by - I welcome the opportunity of informing the House of the facts in regard to the controversy with Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited regarding fares, which has been given so much publicity in the press during the last, week or two. The picture conveyed by the various statements which have been published in the press is entirely misleading, and many honorable members are aware that a substantial proportion of the daily press failed to publish a ministerial statement which I made on this subject a. little while a.go. The press has further distorted the facts to make it appear that the Government’s action in this matter was an attempt, to bolster up the revenue of Trans-Australia Airlines. whereas, in fact;, the Government has been attempting, as I shall show, to protect the legitimate interests of all operators. I stress that my approval of the 20 per cent, increase in fares had the full support of the major private operator, Australian National Airways Limited, as well as that of several smaller private operators who attended the conference which recommended that increase. I stress the fact that that conference recommended an increase.

I.n order that honorable members may appreciate fully the circumstances of the recent controversy it is necessary for tuc to sketch briefly the history of Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited. That company was formed about 1937, and the departmental files indicate that since the first half of 193S. the company has been making almost continuous requests for subsidy, more subsidy and still more subsidy. For a considerable proportion of the time since, the company has actually been in receipt of subsidy, though seldom was the subsidy granted as high as that requested by the company, for the very sound reason that the reports of departmental officers often indicated that the company’s proposals were unsound or that their costs were inflated. Nevertheless, the company has been subsidized at a rate as high us £<!3,500 per annum. in May, 1942. the company terminated its contracts and surrendered its airline licences in order to enter into contracts with the United States forces, and the company’s organization was employed in those activities until the end of 1944. There is evidence that these contracts for military transport were highly lucrative to the company. When they were terminated, because they were no longer required, the company sought to have the current operators displaced from certain services to enable it to engage again in civil aviation operations. Thu Government felt that there was no justification for displacing such operators, who bud equally contributed to the war effort, to make way for Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited, but in order to preserve the Ansett Airways airline organization* which was then quite a small one, the Government did issue licences to the company to operate from Melbourne, to Adelaide via

Mount Gambier, and from Melbourne to Canberra via Wagga. As from May, :i’.)45. the company was granted a subsidy of £2»,f>00 per annum, but shortly thereafter it sought to extend ite services so as to engage in the inter-capital services in competition with Australian National Airways. The department consistently opposed extension of the operations of Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited into inter-capital services, although such services were at that, stage operated only by a private operator - Australian National Airways. Such an attitude was entirely reasonable because it wim noi the policy of the Government to subsidize one private operator to compete: with another private operator. However, at the insistent representation by Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited that extension of its service from Canberra to Sydney would reduce the subsidy payable by the Government, I did agree to Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited extending ins service to Sydney. It was not long, however, before the company sought a further increase in its subsidy, but, in. the circumstances I have outlined, such request was not approved. I emphasize that what I have so far outlined of the history of Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited is all prior to the commencement of Trans-Australia Airlines operations. 1 may also say that the departmental files up to that stage contain many requests by Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited to eliminate calls at country centres in order to improve their inter-capital communications, although the company consistently sought, and was generally granted, subsidy specifically to serve country centres. I may also say that the departmental files indicate cases of misrepresentations and false statements, some of which have been subsequently admitted by the company.

We come now to the stage when TransAustralia Airlines commenced operating in accordance with the Government’s policy. Taking nd vantage of the High Court’s decision that airline licences for interstate services could not be refused to any operator who complied with the safety requirements, Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited inaugurated services from Melbourne to Tasmania in competition with both Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways, though still in receipt of a subsidy of £92,500 per annum for the purpose of operating services to country centres not served by either Australian National Airways or Trans-Australia Airlines. This action naturally gave reason for concern to the Government and when Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited, some time later, acted in breach of their subsidy contract, action was promptly taken to cancel that contract and thus terminate the subsidy. This was in June last. The company subsequently sought to have the subsidy restored, but was told that it must choose between competing, without subsidy, with operators on the inter-capital services and operating only feeder services, for which a reasonable subsidy might be approved. The company deliberately chose the former course.

This brings us to the stage when, at about the beginning of October, I instructed the Director-General of Civil Aviation to call a conference of airline operators to discuss the question of increases in fares. I gave this instruction because it was known to the department that operating costs had risen substantially, in addition to the added costs resulting from the Government’s decision io charge for the use of Government airway facilities. It was known that all operators were concerned at the increased costs, but none of them wished to take the initiative in raising fares.

At the conference all operators, including Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited, agreed that the increasing cost3 justified an increase of 20 per cent, in fares, and it was reported to me that all operators bad agreed to introduce such an increase from an agreed date. I approved the increase on that understanding. Subsequently, I learned that the representatives of Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited at the conference had raised the question of second-class or secondary services, but the meeting felt that that conference was not the proper place to . discuss such a matter. I am informed that” all other representatives at the conference left the meeting in the belief that Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited had agreed to introduce the 20 per cent, increase. As honorable members are aware from press reports, Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited did not in fact increase its fares, as did other operators, and as the company had not formally .furnished a schedule of increased fares as required under the appropriate regulation of the Air Navigation Regulations, it was not possible legally to apply the increased fare to it. Nevertheless, the company did submit several applications for increases of fares, both for inter-capital journeys and for journeys to or from country centres, but it either modified or withdrew such applications before they could be examined and dealt with properly.

Polio wing an interview I gave to a representative of Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited, the company last week applied for approval to adopt the 20 per cent, increase on its services to Tasmania, whilst still retaining the lower fares on its services on the mainland. In view of the then existing doubts as to the efficacy of the regulation, and rather than have protracted delay which would be unfair and prejudicial to the other operators, 1 approved the schedule of fares submitted by Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited. However, in order not to place that company in a privileged position on the mainland services, I simultaneously approved a reduction in the corresponding mainland fares charged :by the competitors of Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited, namely, Australian’ National Airways and Trans-Australia Airlines. However, Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited has not as yet adopted the higher fares on the Tasmanian services, which I approved on the company’s application, and consideration is now being given to the further steps to be taken. In the meantime action has been taken to amend the Air Navigation Regulations to enable the Government properly to control this subject of fares and freight rates and, if necessary, to enforce its decisions, which are intended at all times to be equitable and just and in’ the best interests of the community.

Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited admits that it is seeking to be placed in the privileged position of being authorized to charge a lower fare than its competitors, and the company apparently expects the Government to use its powers to help it to attain this unfair position. I emphasize that after the second conference had failed to reach agreement - with Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited being the only dissentient - the company applied for an increase on its Tasmanian services, provided it obtained approval for the old fares on the indirect MelbourneAdelaide and Melbourne-Sydney services. These requests by Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited were approved in full. I may say that the departmental files contain statements by that company expressing its resolute opposition to unbridled competition of any nature as it believes that would he inimical to the best interests of Australia and could only tend to delay the extension of services to small towns. In May of this year the company wrote saying that it believed in healthy controlled competition but was resolutely opposed to unbridled competition, as would be experienced if fares were allowed to be cut. Notwithstanding the facts as I have now outlined them, Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited is still being presented to the public as a martyr to my determination to increase fares, whereas actually the position is that the company applied for the reduced fare on the mainland indirect services and got it; it applied for the increased fare on the Tasmanian direct services and got it; it has not adopted Ibo increased fares which it asked for on the Tasmanian services, and has publicly sta tei that it intends further to reduce the f.-.res on the indirect mainland services. This latter public statement is not confirmed by the subsequent letter I have received from the company’s _ solicitor.

It will be seen, therefore, that there has been no persecution of Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited whatever. The company has, on the contrary, had its applications granted, but has run away from them, as it has done on previous occasions. I lay-on the table the following paper : -

Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited - Fares - Ministerial Statement.

Mr Menzies:

– Will the Minister move that the paper be printed?

Motion (by Mr. DRAKEFORD) proposed -

That the paper bc printed.


.- The Minister has read a long statement denouncing Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited. I am not interested in the pros and cons of his discussions with the company, but there is a report in this morning’s press which, if it be true, is a complete rebuttal of all he has said about it. It is as follows: -

The managing director of Ansett Airways (Mr. R. M. Ansett) to-day charged the Civil Aviation Department and Trans-Australia Airlines with “ gross distortion “ of his company’s.attitude towards higher air fares.

Mr. Ansett said that a letter from an official of Trans-Australia Airlines to the Daily Telegraph, purporting to show his company’s views, was “quite inaccurate”.

Mr. Ansett said : “ The letter made four points. “ The official’s statements were wrong on each point. “First he alleged that I had approached Trans-Australia Airlines suggesting that it should buy Ansett Airways but that I had asked t a high a price. “I did offer to sell Ansett Airline to TransAustralia Airlines twelve months ago, but not because we were losing heavily. “I offered to sell for the book value of our assets, plus £20,000 for goodwill. “ Trans-Australia Airlines wanted us to sell for the book value of assets” only. We refused and the matter was dropped. “ Secondly, the official alleges Ansett sought a conference to raise air fares. “We did no such thing.”

I am s;lad that the Minister (Mr. Drakeford) lias said that Trans-Australia Airlines was an.-:ious to raise fares.


– I said that all the companies were anxious to raise fares.


– Trans-Australia Airlines was anxious not to be put out of business, and so the Minister arranged this series of conferences. Mr. Ansett said that the initiative lay with the Government. He then continued - “I never discussed the matter at any tin., with the chairman of the Airlines Commissi- n (Mr. Coles) as the letter alleges! “In October, a conference of all airline operatirs, chaired by Air-Marshal Williams, waa called by the Oi”l Aviation Department to discuss air fares,”’ Air. Ansett continued. “Mr. R. Herborne represented Ansett Airways. “Mr. Herborne made it clear that we did not want fares raised on our mainland services. They are secondary services mid we do not consider them competitive with the first class direct services our competitors operate. “Air-Marshal Williams brushed aside discussion of secondary services. Hu ruled they should be considered at a later consultation.

They were not ra ised again at that conference. “Next day Air-Marshal Williams announced that the conference had decided to raise all air fares bv 20 per cent, from 20th October last.

A Tra its- Australia Airlines official wrote to the Daily Telegraph on the subject. It is extraordinary that a government official should write to the press giving misleading information about private airline companies.

Mr Drakeford:

– That is not true. Who was thic official? Is his name given ?


– The Minister may find that out for himself He has his minions around him to obtain information. The letter from the Trans-Australia Airlines official to the Daily Telegraph stated -

We did not contradict the statement until the rise operated.

Mr. Ansett went on to say ; “On the same day I. -wrote to Air-Marshal Williams and told him we would not increase our fares on any except our Tasmanian service, which was not a. secondary service. “ At another conference of airline operators on 20th November, called to discuss my refusal to raise fares. I charged .Air-Marshal Williams with having misrepresented my case to the Minister. Mr. Drakeford. “ Air-Marshal Williams admitted a.fc that conference, that my representative at the previous conference had objected to a fares increase.

That is a complete answer to the statement of the Minister. It is clear that the Government has used the Civil Aviation Department - a department with a fine record in the past for promulgating rules for the control of civil aviation: - as a weapon to drive private airlines out of business. The Deputy Controller of Civil Aviation acts in a dual capacity - he is a. member of the Australian National Airlines Commission, and is also an official of the Civil Aviation Department. The regulation states -

The owner of an aircraft engaged in a public transport service which uses any aerodrome or any air route or airway facility maintained and operated by the Commonwealth shall, in respect of each such service, furnish to the Minister his tariff of charges for the carriage of persons or cargo on ibo aircraft. The Minister may . . . reject any such tariff and direct thu adoption in its stead of such tariff as he considers fair and reasonable for the service provided. . . . Where the Minister considers the circumstances of the case so warrant, the Minister may withdraw at any time an approval given, or deemed to have been given., or a direction given, under this regulation and may direct the owner of the aircraft concerned to adopt such tariff of charges as the Minister specified.

It is clear that a private company must lay hare particulars of i:s business to officials who are also officials of the Government airline. The regulation also makes it clear that the Minister is to be, not only a czar in the field of civil aviation, but also a sultan in the field of price fixing. Surely we have enough price control now without the Minister for Air butting in. Would it not be a good thing to have some competition between airlines, and should that coin pi’tition not. be fair? Competition cannot hi; fair if the rules are made by officials of the Government airline. Already, ?4,500,000 of public money has been allocated for the running of this expensive toy. Competition should be encouraged, rather than stifled by government regulations. However, it is nil part of the pattern of the Go verm nent’s socialistic program me. Once the Government succeeeds in pushing the private companies off the air routes, everything will be easy for it, and fares will go up. To-day, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) asked the Minister whether it was true that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, a Tasmanian company, had been refused, permission to land a Skymaster on the Hobart aerodrome.

Mr Barnard:

– It is not a Tasmanian company.


– I am surprised that the Minister for Repatriation (Mir. Barnard:), who represents a Tasmanian constituency, does not know ‘better. He is a railway man, and, apparently, he i-1; unable to raise bts thoughts above trains. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited’ was started by Mr. Holyman as a Tasmanian enterprise Now, this company has been refused permission to land its” Skymaster on:,th< aerodrome for the Christmas season, although it has been demonstrated that the aerodrome would be safe. As a matter of fact, a Skymaster landed on the Hobart aerodrome about two months ago. I asked the Minister whether it was true that a subsidy of 3d. per lb. was paid on the carriage of meat by the Government airline, the importers paying one penny and the balancebeing made up by a government department. The Minister said that he did not know. The fact is that if meat is carried by a private airline it has to pay the full 3d. per lb., and then apply for a. refund to the tortuous channels of government departments. I have here an advertisement by Trans-Australia Airlines inviting the public to travel in Convair aircraft. Some time ago, I asked the Minister for Air why Convair aircraft were being imported and the Minister replied that British aircraft were not available. I supplied information to the effect that British aircraft were available and had been used during the Royal tour of South Africa. The Minister had to admit that the officials of his department had never seen those craft.Nowwe have this advertisement inviting the public to travel by Convair aircraft, andannouncing -

Goodbye to altitude discomfort when you fly in the T.A.A. “ pressurised “ Convair liner.

That is a dishonest advertisement. If the principal of a private firm had authorized an advertisement of that kind, he would be cut by his friends. I have no interest in airlines, but I am interested in aviation, and I want it to expand. The Opposition will do its best to fight this government octopus which is seeking to strangle the private airlines.

Debate (on motion by Mr.Sheehan) adjourned.

page 3071




– I have received a number of inquiries in relation to the new drug ertron. which I understand is being used in the treatment of arthritis. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Social Services say whether this drug is available and, if so, how supplies of it can be obtained?


– A similar questionwas asked recently by the honorable member forFremantle. I have discussed this matter with the Minister for Supply and Shipping, who has ascertained that the drug is difficult to obtain. Accordingly, he has issued instructions that supplies of the drug shall be obtained for Australia, if possible. I. shall consult with him again in order to ascertain the present position, and will let the honorable member know the result.

page 3071





– I desire to ask the Minister for Immigration a question about the possibility of obtaining from Italy suitable migrants as farm labourers and as labourers at outback mines. I crave the Chair’s indulgence to read two small quotations from the press. The first is -



Leonora,Oct.,6. - That outback mines would be forced to cease operations unless more labour was forthcoming was stated at yesterday’s meeting of the Gwalia-Leonora R.S.L. Sub-branch. Discussion took place over the proposed Italian immigrants and the following motion was carried unanimously: That owing to the acute shortages of labour existing in outback mines and for cutting firewood supplies, and the importance of goldmining in the present economic crisis, the sub-branch supported the introduction of suitable Italian workers into the industry, as they would not be displacing Australians who evidently did not want to engage in mining.

The second is -

It is to be hoped that, as soon as possible, Mr. Calwell will do all he can to facilitate the return of repatriated prisoners who proved suitable as farm labourers during the war and who are anxious to leave their country. A system of nomination by farmers anxious to re-employ former prisonersmight be worthy of his consideration.

Now that the peace treaty with Italy will soon be ratified in this Parliament, is the Minister able and willing to set out the views of the Government on the subject of the return to Australia of repatriated prisoners of war to be employed by farmers who nominate them when they can be guaranteed employment and housing and are prepared to sign a declaration that they will remain so employed for, say, two years? If he is not yet able to declare the Government’s views on the matter, and as there is a great scarcity of farm labour and as the Italians, if permitted to come to Australia, would not be competing with any one for work and housing, will he give the matter early consideration in order that a plan may be formulated and put into operation to ensure adequate farm labour in the coming year?


– I share with the honorable member for Swan and other honorable members the concern about the shortage of farm labour. The question of permitting former Italian prisoners of war to return to Australia in the near future, or eventually, is being considered by the Commonwealth Advisory Migration Council, on which a number of exservicemen sit as representatives of organizations or in their individual capacities. I understand that the council at its meeting in January will give consideration to the matter of the return of Italian prisoners of war to work as farm labourers under certain conditions indicated by the honorable member in his question. When I receive the report of the council, I will place the matter before the Cabinet and try to get an early decision. We want to ensure that all farmers from Queensland to Western Australia shall have adequate assistance next year to lift the harvest. It is undeniably true that there is a tremendous shortage of farm labour, because the cities are much more attractive than the country in the matter of working conditions. The Government has not formulated any policy on the matter up to date. That answers the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question. I hope to be able when the House meets after the recess to indicate the Government’s policy in this matter.

page 3072



Blair Athol Open Cut


– Has the Prime Minister seen or heard of an agreement between an English firm and the Government of Queensland to exploit the Blair Athol coal deposits by the open-cut method? Does the agreement contain a provision that the company shall be allowed to ship all the coal overseas after the domestic requirements of Queensland have been met? If that is a fact, what action, if any, can be taken by the Australian Government or the Joint Coal Board to ensure that before exports of coal, which is in short supply in Australia, are. allowed Australia’s needs as a whole shall be met?


– I have not seen any such agreement but I have heard of a proposal to develop coal-fields in Queensland. I understand that the Queensland Government proposes to make an agreement with an English company, which would not, of course, directly concern the Australian Government. Although 1 have not received any official intimation of the nature of the proposal, I have been informed verbally that it is intended to develop the coal industry in Queensland in order to provide additional power and fuel for that State, and to enable Queensland to export a certain amount of coal. It is also proposed to extract oil from coal won. However, I emphasize that any information is entirely unofficial and that the Government is not a party to the proposal.

page 3072



Motion (by Mr. Chifley)proposed -

That Government business shall take prece dence over general business to-morrow.


– If the object of this motion is once again to cut out private members’ business, or “ Grievance Day “, I wish to protest against it most emphatically. This is not the first occasion on which I have opposed attempts to prevent private members from bringing forward important business in this Parliament. It has been the practice in all democratic parliaments to permit private members to speak on matters that they consider to be of paramount importance to the nation or to their constituents. The elimination of such opportunities in this House means that we are slowly moving away from the democratic practices cif the past. In my view, it has become increasingly necessary for members to have an opportunity to speak upon private matters or grievances that they wish to bring forward. In recent months we have been denied an opportunity to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House at a time when reasonable press publicly can be expected. I stress the necessity for press publicity, because, very often, although one is speaking on a matter that is of vital importance, one cannot expect any assistance from the Government. The only course then is to enlist public support. The opportunity to speak on the adjournment on Friday afternoons has been curtailed by the introduction of the practice of adjourning the House at midday. This means that a member who wishes to bring a private matter to the notice of the Government can do so only in the late hours of the night, when the chamber is very sparsely attended. In this way the rights of private members are being whittled down. I realize, of course, that the Government does not like my mentioning this matter, but it is of vital importance to private members who are charged with the responsibility of safeguarding the interests of their constituents. The raising of grievances in this chamber is not popular with most Ministers and Government supporters, and I realize that my opposition to this motion will not be welcomed by the occupants of the treasury bench.

The preservation of the right of honorable members to ventilate grievances on the day that is normally set apart for that purpose would extend a sessional period by only one or two days. On the last occasion that I opposed a motion of this kind, I said that it would not matter if a session were prolonged for a week or two so long as honorable members were doing what they considered to be in the interest of Australia. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) said the other day that members of the Opposition wanted to get back to their electorates’, but it would appear now that it is Government supporters, and not members of the Opposition, who want the sessional period to end quickly regardless of the rights of honorable members. The decision as to when a period of a session should end lies with the Prime Minister himself. If he so desired he could extend the present sittings by a week or a month if necessary.

Mr Pollard:

– Make it three months.


– Yes, three months if that were necessary for the good of Australia. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) may be, quite unconsciously, putting forward a sane proposal. Why is the Prime Minister demanding that private members shall once again forego the privilege of “ Grievance Day “ or private members’ day? There can be only two reasons: The first is that “ Grievance Day “ might result in the airing of certain matters that the Government would prefer not to be discussed. I shall let that sink in. What I have said appears to be annoying honorable members opposite quite a lot. The second reason is that Grievance Day might extend the sittings for a day or two. These are the only two possible reasons for the motion that we are now discussing. And let us examine them : I believe that any Prime Minister should give private members a chance to speak on the special day that is set aside for them, whether the speeches are likely to be pleasing to the Government or not. All members want to be home for Christmas, but this is only the 3rd December, and if Parliament rose on about the 12th December members would still have ample time to reach their homes for the holidays. From memory, only on one occasion in the present long sessional period have private members had an opportunity to speak on the day set aside for this purpose. This constant denying of an important privilege is not right in a democratic country.

Mr Sheehan:

– The honorable member must have been away.


– An honorable member opposite has suggested that I have been away on sitting days. Members of the Government have been accused of making many mis-statements lately; now, the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) is making a gross mis-statement, because I have not missed a sitting day since I have been a member of this House.

Government members interjecting,


– Order ! the honorable member for Wimmera must be heard in silence.


– All this laughing does not trouble me in the slightest degree.

I intend to have my say. I repeat that only on one day during the present sessional period have private members been able to exercise their right to bring forward matters that are of importance to their constituents. Even on that occasion, the Prime Minister had submitted a motion similar to that now under discussion, but as a certain debate terminated earlier than the right honorable gentleman had expected, and there was no more Government .business ready, he allowed “ Grievance Day” matters to be discussed as an act of grace. Again I enter an emphatic protest against this practice, and even at tins late stage I ask the Prime Minister to reconsider his action.

Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

in re-ply - In the first place, the honorable member for “Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) has not directed his remarks to the motion under discussion at all. Tins motion has nothing to do with “Grievance Day”. However, although he has been sparring with the shadow to-day, the substance may appear to-morrow. I hope there will be no hypocrisy about this matter. Quite a number of members are hoping that the present sessional period will end tomorrow night.

Mr Turnbull:

– Why ?


– Most honorable members are very tired after the long sittings and constant travelling and wish to get back to their electorates. I, for one, shall be glad to see the present sittings end to-morrow and I am hoping to expedite the business for that purpose. However, as I have said, this motion has nothing to do with “ Grievance Day “. When the relevant motion is moved tomorrow the honorable member will have an opportunity to deal with it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 3074


Motion (by Mr. Holloway) agreed to-

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve the amended constitution of the International Labour Organization.

Bill presented, and read a first time.

Second Reading

Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne PortsMinister for Labour and National Service) [ll.’4G(. - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary approval for the constitution of the International Labour Organization as amended by the instrument of- amendment which was adopted by the general conference of the International Labour Organization on the 9th October, 1946. .Some minor amendments to the original constitution contained in Part XIII of the Treaty of Versailles 3 919 were adopted by the In tenia tiona! Labour Organization Conference at sessions in 1922 and 194.5, and in the latter year, the conference appointed a Delegation on Constitutional Questions to review’ the past record of the organization’s work and to make proposals for remodelling and re-equipping the organization to enable if to discharge ite duties with enhanced efficiency.

As honorable members have nor previously had the amendments of 1922 and :1945 brought to their notice, I shall briefly outline the main provisions.’ By the Instrument of Amendment 1922, the size of the governing body was increased from 24 to 32. However, no alteration was made in the proportion of representatives of governments, employers’ organizations and workers’ organizations which gave governments 50 per cent, of the votes. In 1945, the conference adopted a further instrument which was designed to deal with three questions of immediate urgency in view of the liquidation of the League of Nations. All reference to the League of Nations was deleted, and the article relating to finance was amended to provide that financial and budgetary arrangements could be made with the United Nations, and that, in the absence of such arrangements, the organization should have its own budgetary facilities. The third amendment, dealing with the ratification of amendments to the constitution, was altered by deleting the requirement that amendments should be ratified by the League of Nations.

In 1946, a Delegation on Constitutional Questions carried out a general revision of the constitution and recommended numerous amendments to remodel the organizations and establish close relationships with the United Nations. A new text was prepared, and this was approved by the conference in September. 1946 . Probably the most important effect of this revision is to strengthen the position in regard to the adoption and implementation of conventions and recommendations which are agreed to at, annual sessions of the con- ference. Whilst this is not so important in the case of advanced countries like Australia, it, is of particular importance to less developed countries.

The amendments agreed upon by the 1946 conference have three main purposes -

  1. Entirely to dissociate the constitution of the International Labour Organization from the Treaty of Versailles :
  2. To revise procedures in the light of 30 years’ experience;
  3. To re-state certain functions nml procedures to bring the International Labour Organization into line with the Charter of the United Nations.

As the number of amendments adopted by the conference in 1940 was very large, a memo ran dum has been prepared for honorable members setting out the now constitution and the text in force prior to the revision. One amendment of particular interest is the re-statement, of the aims of the organization to include the Declaration of Philadelphia. This brings in such new matters as consideration of high employment policies which have been persistently advocated by Australian delega tes to the interna tiona.] conferences since 1943. A. change has also been made in relation to dependent territories which is designed to clarify the obligations of such countries as Australia.

This alteration deals with the procedure laid down for ratification of conventions by members having trust territories, and the submission of reports on labour conditions in these territories. Other questions deal with the seat of the organization, the meeting place of the conference, determination of the eight States of general industrial importance which have permanent seats in the governing body, and the establishment of regional agencies. The remaining amendments deal mainly with procedural questions and the internal administration of the organization. Such things are included as the transfer of chancery functions from the League of Nations to the International Labour Organization, the registration of ratified conventions to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the making of rules for the expeditious determination of disputes relating t;o interpretation of conventions. Several member nations have already ratified the new constitution and the remainder have been urged by the International Labour Organization to give to the matter urgent consideration fit that the organization can bring the new constitution into force as soon as possible. The bill is to obtain this Government’s approval of the constitution as adopted at the 1.946 session of the conference.

This bill consists mainly of formalities, and does not involve any principles. For example, eight or nine of the amendments merely insert the word “general” after the word “director”. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) will agree to proceed with the consideration of the bill now.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Menzies) adjourned.

page 3075



ReferencetoPublicWorks Committee.

Minister for Works and Housing · Forrest · ALP

– I move -

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1936, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz. : - The erection of tribophysics laboratory at Melbourne University, for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

The construction of the building is required to enable research to be carried out by the Lubricants and Bearings Section of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, at present accommodated in University Buildings, which the section has been requested to make available for university purposes as soon as possible. The initial proposal envisages ground floor, first and second floors with part basement. The construction is to be of steel frame and reinforced concrete with brick facing and stone trim. The estimated cost, allowing for central heating, gas, hot water and electrical service is £93,500. I lay on the table of the House the plans of the proposed building.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 3076


Reference to Public Works Committee

Minister for Works and Housing · Forrest · ALP

– I move-

That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1930, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz.: - Additions to telephone exchange at Hamilton, New South Wales.

The proposed work is an addition to the existing exchange building at Hamilton, New South Wales. The extension is to be 49 feet along Lawson-street with a depth of 83 feet, providing an additional floor space on three floors of approximately 17;200 square feet. The additions to the building are required owing to the urgent need to develop the main northern trunk route, and additional accommodation is considered essential by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The proposed additions will be of steel-framed construction with reinforced concrete floors, brick walls to match existing building in tone, steel windows, steel roof trusses with corrugated asbestos cement roofing over the existing portion of the building. The existing roof trusses will be re-used over the new rear extension of the building and sheeted with corrugated asbestos cement roofing. The estimated cost of the building is £73,353. The estimate for the exchange equipment is not yet available. I lay on the table of the House the plans of the proposed work.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 3076



.- I move -

That the Committee of Privileges be convened to inquire into the allegations made by the honorable member for Lang as to the wrongful use by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, whilst a prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese, of his Par liamentary privileges; and that, for the purposes of this inquiry, the committee shall have power to call witnesses on oath and inspect official documents.

The unhappy necessity for this motion arises from a statement made by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) during a debate on the 6th November, 1947, when the honorable member, addressing himself to the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), said that the latter had shown his gold pass to the Japanese in order to get special treatment. The imputation, so clear as to amount to a direct allegation, is that the honorable member for the Northern Territory, while serving as a member of the Australian Imperial Force and having, by decision of higher military authority, fallenas a prisoner of war into the hands of the Japanese, improperly and selfishly and in an unsoldierlike manner, displayed his parliamentary gold pass to his Japanese enemies for the purpose, and with the intention, of securing privileged treatment for himself in disregard of the condition of his companions in captivity. Unhappily, the honorable member for Lang was not the only honorable member to east such imputations, because in the cross-fire of debate a week or so earlier I heard another Government member fling the same accusation at the honorable member for the Northern Territory. So, it must be concluded that some person has given circulation to this charge. I do not believe that it originated with the honorable member for Lang. If it can be shown that the charge is basely untrue, as I am clearly able now to prove, the originator of this charge must be a person of the utmost malice, devoid of honour, and without any normal sense of human decency.

Through information which came to me and other members of the Advisory War Council, I have knowledge of certain plans and efforts of the honorable member for the Northern Territory, while a prisoner of war, directed to the purpose of bringing succor to his companions; and this knowledge has been supplemented by personal conversations with friends of mine and others since tiheir release from Japanese imprisonment. On the night of this incident, I attempted to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House, believing that I could clear the honorable member for the Northern Territory, but Standing Orders precluded me from speaking on the subject at that juncture. Therefore, T took the only step which I thought practicable in those circumstances, of giving notice of this motion so that there should be a full and formal opportunity for a committee of this House to investigate and pass judgment on the terrible allegation of the honorable member for Lang. I am bound to express in thb strongest terms my condemnation of the Government for failing to arrange the business of the House so as to permit most promptly this discussion, which alone can provide the opportunity to produce evidence to refute and prove to be utterly without vestige of foundation this slur upon the honour of a soldier, a gentleman and an honorable member of this House. I said earlier that the old legal maxim, that justice delayed is justice denied, applies in this instance. The refusal of the Government to make an earlier opportunity available for this discussion has involved the honorable member for the Northern Territory in great mental distress, and, as evidenced by the numerous letters and resolutions which I have received - and the vastly many more that the honorable member concerned has received - has, at the same time, caused great distress and evoked very strong resentment in the minds of thousands of returned soldiers and their organizations, and kinsfolk of servicemen.

Prisoners of war associations in the various States and the State branches of the Returned, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia and very many sub-branches and individuals, have written to me expressing their strongest condemnation of, and disgust at, the charges made. But more important still, there has been evoked instantly, offers by telograms and letters from men and offi cers who had been prisoners of war with the honorable member for the Northern Territory to testify on oath, not only to. the falseness of the charge made, but also to his very great courage and fortitude, constant unselfishness, and willingness to sacrifice himself at any time and in any manner at all which would have contributed to improving the conditions of his fellow prisoners, or contributed to their relief. I now desire to produce the evidence which will dismiss instantly the charge made against the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and proclaim the record of a courageous man.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– Order! The honorable member for Indi is, himself, a member of the Committee of Privileges, and his motion is that the committee be convened to inquire into these allegations. As the honorable gentleman himself will be one of the jury, it appears to me that he is now going beyond proper limits. Do I understand that the honorable member is now going to produce proof of something regarding which he wants the Committee of Privileges to inquire?


– I propose to produce material which I regard as proof of my statements, but, ultimately, this is a matter for judgment by the House, because the Committee of Privileges is a committee of this House. This House is superior to the committee. It may well transpire that the evidence which I shall produce will satisfy the House.

Mr.SPEAKER.- All that I am suggesting to the honorable member is that he is a member of the Committee of Privileges. Hehas moved that the committee be convened to inquire into this matter; but he is setting out to produce proof before the committee meets to consider the matter.


– I desire to have the opportunity to lay upon the table certain correspondence and statutory declarations which have a bearing upon this issue, and to quote some correspondence which has been addressed to me. They reveal the honorable member for the Northern Territory as a modest man. They give a glimpse of a record for which he might well claim credit, particularly as a public man: but, instead, he has never uttered one word to claim credit on his return, .lie has not even spoken in his own self-defence. I have letters, statements and statutory declarations covering all of the circumstances of the honorable member’s captivity as a. prisoner of war in. the hands of the Japanese. These documents make reference to the production of his gold pass. However, as the tabling of the documents would not :give a clear, ready and consecutive story of the incidents of his captivity, I desire first, to relate the general story in narrative form, and then to produce t>he documents to substantiate my statements by the evidence of men, each of whom is willing to repeat on oath the statement he has made.

After the surrender at Singapore, with other members of the Australian Infantry Forces totalling about 1,500, Sergeant Blain, as he then was, was transferred to North Borneo where he and his comrades were imprisoned in a. camp at Sandakan under conditions which proved tragic for many of his companions. Men wore dying daily. Sergeant Blain was one of a number who planned, with the commanding officer of the Australian prisoners, that a party should escape to Australia, to carry information of their plight, to their fellow Australians and of their apprehensions that they might all be massacred, apprehensions which, as all honorable members well know, were subsequently proved to bo well founded, because all of. the men either died or were massacred, with the exception of six only.

It was proposed - and he accepted the role - that Sergeant Blain should lead the escape party to Australia, where it could give information of the situation of its fellow Australians and of the disposition and strength of the Japanese, and make a proposal, which the commanding officer considered feasible, that a relief party should bo landed to rescue the Australians and that Sergeant Blain should lead the return rescue party. It was necessary to secure the aid of natives. Sergeant Blain contacted a. friendly Chinese through his mate, Joe James, a dentist who is now living at Como, Perth. The men needed the boats, food and assistance which natives alone could secure for them. The Chinese was loyal, and willing to help, but he expressed fear for his life in the future and ‘asked for an assurance that at some time, perhaps after the wai-, bo should be transferred to Australia for his own safety. Sergeant Blain gave him this assurance with the approval of his commanding officer, and, in order to establish his status in. giving that assurance - the help of the Chinese as boat-man was absolutely essential to the success of the venture - he showed the Chinese, through his friend. Joe, his gold pass as a member of the House of Representatives.

Unfortunately the Japanese gained some knowledge of the plan through an Indian who learned of it and turned traitor. The Japanese immediately apprehended those who were known or suspected to be associated with the plan, as well as a number of natives. Eight of the natives were beheaded. Sergeant Blain and those of his companions who were suspected of complicity were closely imprisoned, bashed, tortured and starved for two months in order to reduce their resistance to the interminable interrogation of the Japanese. No Australian betrayed his follows. One of the native?, under torture, said that there was an Australian who had a medal and that he was a secret service agent.

The Japanese identified Sergeant. Blain as the Australian concerned, and charged him with being a member of the secret service, conviction for which would have meant immediate execution. Sergeant Blain naturally pointed out that the medal concerned was not connected with the secret service but indicated his membership of this Parliament. The Japanese disbelieved him and laughed, and bashed him again and again. Sergeant Blain then told them to find the medal where he had hidden it in the camp where they arrested him. The men were then transferred to Knelling, where they were again subjected for two months to interrogation by a military court, which meted out sentences.

Sergeant Blain’s captain, Captain Matthews, was executed. The honorable member has told me that only last week the George Cross, the equivalent of the

Victoria Cross, was awarded posthumously to Captain Matthews and given to his son.Eight of the loyal natives were beheaded. Sergeant Blain was sentenced to two years imprisonment in cells and sent to Outram. Road Jail, Singapore, where, with his companions, he was closely confined in cells under conditions of hardship which brought about the deaths of most of his companions. One of them died beside Sergeant Blain in his cell. Sergeant Blain had been reduced almost toa skeleton when he was rescued.

That is the true story behind the charges that were implied in the interjection made by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy). The commanding officer of the honorable member for the Northern Territory when he was a prisoner, Major Fleming, immediately this charge was published voluntarily took it upon himself to write an unsolicited letter to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). He also sent a copy of the letter to the honorable member for t he Northern Territory for his own use. On the 18th November, Major Fleming wrote this letter to the Prime Minister -

The Right Honorable the Prime Minister,

Dear Sir,

With great respect I. desire to put before you certain facts which I consider are relevant tothe matter raised in the House recently concerning the circumstances in which Mr. Wain, M.H.R.. showed his Parliamentary pass to the Japanese.

In November,1942. the situation of B. Force. A.I.F.,at Sandakan was serious and deteriorating and urgent representations were made to thu Japanese for increased rations and better treatment generally. Sgt. M. Main (ashe then was) offered either to go alone to the Japanese authorities, or to accompany me, reveal his identity as an Australian M.P, and add his representations to those already before thu Japs. It was pointed out to Sgt. Blain that the probable consequences of such action would be imprisonment or transfer to Japan. Sgt. Blain cheerfully accepted that risk. It was decided that this offer would be accepted only if our requests to the Japs were denied. As a matter of fact, we were granted a considerable increase in rations and the question of Sgt. Blain approaching theJaps did not arise again during my term at Sandakan.

Plans were made by A.I.F. at Sandakan for certain eventualities and one reason for the reluctance to reveal Sgt. Blain’s identity was that he was to lead a. special party of six which was to endeavour to contact our forces, if, and when the opportunity or the necessity arose. Each man was warned that thu chances of getting through were at least one hundred to one against.. Sgt. Blain, as did the others, agreed without hesitation to the plan. Indeed, Sgt. Blain toldme privately that he considered it was his duty to attempt something of this nature in an endeavour to bring help to his countrymen, and that no matter what the risk, he wouldbe triad to take it. I was transferred from Sandakan to Kuching in June,1943, and up to that time no opportunity Or necessity for sending this party had arisen.

Iwishto state emphatically that never at anytime did Sgt. Blain receive, nor did he ever suggest that hu should receive, any special privileges. On the contrary, he showed at all times a willingness to sacrifice himself for his fellow prisoners which was in keeping with the highest traditions of thu A.I.F.

I apologize for writing at considerable length in this matter, Sir, but . I feel very strongly that a grave injustice has been done to a brave man. Sgt. Blain knew much of the secret plans of the A.I..F., apart from the abovementionedescape party, and, but for the fortitude of this man,and those others who wore arrested and tortured with him, I, and quite a number of other officers ofB. Force would certainly have been arrested and probably shot.

Yours respectfully, (Sgd.) F. A. Fleming.

Formerly Major A.I.F. and CO.:

Force Sandakan November 1942 - 10th June,1943

P.S. - Iam sending a copy of this to Mr. Blain,Ina previous letter I. informed him that I wouldbe prepared to give evidence or to make sworn statements as outlined in this letter.- F. A. F.

I have received a confirmatory letter from a Mr. Pryce, who was an officer in the Australian Imperial Force. He wrote the following letter fromWalla Walla, New South Wales, on the 7th November : -

The Deputy Leader of the Country party.

Dear Mr. McEwen,

I have just read a report in theS.M.H. of an incident in which you came to the defence of Mr. Blain. May I give you some additional information which you might not have received.

I was in Sandakan with Blain. Later, with 150otherofficers, . I was moved to Kuching. We officers knew of Sgt. Main’s plans and. owing to the fact that others had already tried and failed to escape, were worried over his chances. My biggest worry was that if ever the Japanese captured him and found out that he wasa member of our Parliament he wouldbe immediately shot. I felt that in Japanese eyes he would be too important a person for them to ever leave alive to return to Australia to tell the truth. Many of my companions held similar views at the time and Blain was warned of the risk he ran.

Un fortunatelyhe was arrested by the Kempai-tai before he even had a chance to escape. He did not take his gold pass with him when arrested. I distinctly remember a Kempaii-tai officer coming out later to the camp and demanding a gold pass which he knew was in Blain’s possession. We know now that a native talked under torture. At the momentthe Kempai-tai got the pass I remember remarking that that was the end of Sgt. Blain.

My second point is thatI don’t imagine any Australian in the prison camps was ever nai’vc enough to imagine that he would obtain privileged treatment from the Japanese. Only those who were there can tell how each and every mau hated the Jap and bow that hatred was “reciprocated. Theirs was a racial hatred which we al] recognized. It is futile to suggest that a man in planning to escape (for which the penalty could be death) would even imagine in hie wildest dreams that he would obtain sympathetic treatment from the Jap if ever he were caught.

You are most likely in possession of these facts, but should you want corroboration, I am sure Major F. R. Fleming, of Scotch College, Melbourne, our Commanding Officer at the time would give themto you.

Your faithfully, (Sgd.) J. C. Pryce.

Incidentally, I hope Canberra meals are better than the snake stews Sgt. Blain used to make in Sandakan. - J.C.P.

A statement by Mr. J. H. James, now of Fremantle, a former staff-sergeant in the Australian Imperial Force, who was a prisoner of war with the honorable member for the Northern Territory, was published in the West Australian of the 14th November, 1947. From it I extract the following : -

I wish to refute the statement of Mr. Mulcahy, which is very far from the facts of the case. The gold pass mentioned was shown by me, by permission of Sergeant Blain, in the presence of Sapper Martin of New South Wales, to a native Chinese at Sandakan, with the idea of gaining assistance to escape. The reason for doing so was to convince the Chinese that if he rendered assistance he would be suitably rewarded by the Commonwealth Government in return for helping Australian soldiers. As a matter of fact, since the termination of the war that lad has been allowed to enter Australia.

This plan of escape had the approval of Major Fleming, who was Officer in Command of the camp, the idea being to reach Australia and seek assistance from the Red Cross. There were 600 sick men in the camp at that time with no possible hope for help. It was also intended to try to effect a rescue, as it was feared a massacre was intended which later proved correct, only six being alive to-day out of those remaining in the camp at rhe finish. The reason that the pass was en trusted to me was because my work gave mc a greater opportunity of making contacts outside the camp.

This plan was dropped and another was formulated in which Dr. Taylor, a civilian practitioner who was held on parole by the Japanese, was to be used. Unfortunately, before it could be put into operation, Sergeant Blain and I were arrested through the discovery by the Japanese of the original plan. We were duly court-martialled in Kuching, after spending six weeks in the hands of the Japanese military police in Sandakan. Owing to his possession of the gold pass, Sergeant Blain was accused of being a member of the Secret Service, of which the pass was supposed to be a badge. The production of the pass was demanded, and eventually it was obtained from its hiding place.

The court-martial accepted the explanation that the gold pass entitled the owner, as a member of the House of Representatives, to free transportation. The situation was a very “ sticky “ one, because Sergeant Blain and I were due to be executed had the pass not been produced.

Mr. A. J. Somervaille, a former prisoner of war, and now secretary of the Waratah-Mayfield Sub-branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, Newcastle, has published a statement in which he says -

I was a fellow prisoner of war with Mr. Blain. When we went to Changi camp, Mr. Blain, a born leader, was a man to whom we all looked for help and advice. He did everything for the men, never lowered himself before any one, and never used his gold pass to got preferential treatment.

Lieutenant R. G.Wells, of Signals, 8th Australian Division, an officer who was associated with the honorable member for the Northern Territory in a prison camp in Borneo, wrote to the honorable member for the Northern Territory immediately after he saw in the press the. allegations made by the honorable member for Lang. Writing from 3 Holyroodavenue, North Essendon, on the 7th November, 1947, he said -

My dear Mac,

I read with horror the allegations made against you in this evening’s Melbourne Herald. If there is anything I can do in the way of supporting evidence in your defence, I shall be only too pleased to help. The report I submitted to the Army, and of which I have a copy here, would silence any allegations made against you.

I propose to table the whole of a report made by Lieutenant Wells. As it consists of 23 pages, it is too lengthy for me to read all of it, but I shall read a few relevant passages. The report, which was made by Lieutenant Wells to his superior officers after his release, is headed : “ Report on the Activities of “ B “ Force for period July, 1942, to July, 1943 “. The first extract that I .shall give to the House is as follows: -

Sergeant Wallace persuaded Signalman McKenzie and Signalman Harvey, ‘8th Division Signals, to escape with him on the 8th May, 1943. Ten days later McKenzie and Harvey were seen by Japanese guards in close proximity to the aerodrome, attempting to collect coco-nuts, Wallace being nowhere in sight. Both were shot on sight and the bodies, identified by Lieutenant Pascoe-Pearce, were buried in the new Eight Mile Peg cemetery. Wallace later contacted Joo Ming and through him asked Matthews for assistance.

Reporting events immediately following that attempt to escape, Lieutenant Wells continued -

He then contacted Signalman Martin, F. J., 8th Division Signals, who was working on the aerodrome with Staff-Sergeant James. They took Blain’s gold pass to show Chin Pain Chang to impress upon him the importance of helping Blain to escape. Nothing further eventuated in connexion with his escape as the -natives told him to wait. Later on, while Wallace was still at large, James and Martin took a note from Blain addressed to Mr. Forde (then Minister for the Army) and delivered it to Ghin Pain Chang,- through whom it subsequently reached Wallace. It is presumed that his note eventually reached its destination. 1 understand that the note did eventually reach its destination. The report continues -

Dominat Koh, an Indian vendor on the aerodrome, knew something of Joo Ming’s activities in connexion with the prisoner of war and attempted to blackmail him, reporting an inkling of his knowledge to the Japanese on or about the 1.6th July, 1943. Joo Ming and his father-in-law were arrested and tortured when they gave away information which led to the arrest of Funk and Lagan. In order to prevent additional information from reaching the ears of the Japanese Military Police, some of the natives, during their questioning and torture, gave information regarding unimportant contacts. Thus Signalman Martin’s name was mentioned by Joo Ming and the proposed escape plan of Blain and James led to the arrest of these men. The arrest of Ah Ping and Sergeant Stevens led, subsequently, to MacMillan and Roffey being drawn in.

Captain Stanley Woods, formerly of the 2/10th Ordnance Field Park, Australian Imperial Force, a fellow prisoner, has forwarded, unsolicited, a statutory declaration in which he says -

A few days after Sergeant Blain’s arrest, the Japanese commandant of the area, Hoshijima, came into the camp- office. He was bellowing and appeared to be furious. Captain George Cook, of the Australian Imperial Force, and I were present, and the following conversation took place: -

Hoshijima said: “Is Blain, the sergeant, a member of Parliament, Captain Cook? I do not believe him. “ Cook said : ‘” Yes. You ask Captain Woods “.

Hoshijima then said to me : “ Is he a /member of Parliament ?” I said, “Yes”. Hoshijima said: “How do you know?” Cook said: “We have read his speeches in our papers a-nd we know he is a member of Parliament.”

Hoshijima said: “I do not believe it. Can you prove it? Has he any letters or personal things?” Both Cook and I said, “We do not know what he has in his kit.” The kitbags of Blain and other arrested personnel were stacked in the office. Hoshijima then said: “1 want Blain’s kit.”

I personally picked out his kitbag and emptied it on the floor. Among the belongings which fell out on to the floor were some letters addressed to Blain, M.H.R., and a gold pass.

Hoshijima said: “W<hat does M.H.B. mean ? “ I said : “ Member of the House of Representatives, and means he is a member of Parliament.”

Pointing -to the gold pass, Hoshijima said: “What’s that?” Both Cook and I replied: “ It is Blain’s gold pass.” Hoshijima asked : “What is it for?”

I said: “It permits Blain to travel free in Australia because he is a member of Parliament.”

Hoshijima demanded that the pass be handed over to him. We refused. We argued with him for ten minutes. He became violent. He did not strike either of us, but threatened to do so.

As he seemed to be going to strike us at any moment, and as he would get the pass in any event, after consultation with Cook, 1 finally gave it to him, saying: “‘It is not my property. It is Sergeant Blain’s, and I have no permission to give it to you “.

He took the gold pass and put it in his pocket. That is the last I saw of it. At this time Blain was 8J miles away.

In all the times I knew Sergeant Blain as a prisoner of war he did not once attempt, to my knowledge, to obtain any advantage for himself at the expense of his fellow-prisoners. He at all times showed the utmost loyalty to his country and to his comrades.

There is no truth whatever in the suggestion that Sergeant Blain used, or attempted to use, his parliamentary gold pass in order to obtain any benefit or advantage from the Japanese.

Finally, I read a statutory declaration by the honorable member for the Northern Territory himself. It is dated the 1st December, 1947 -

I, Adair Macalister Blain of “ Tureena Homestead” Nanango in the State of Queensland a member of the House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of Australia and formerly

Sergeantinthe 2/12 RoyalAustralian Engineers NX56669 do hereby solemnly and sincerely declare that: -

In the 1914-1918 War I was a member of the Australian Imperial Force my number being Number2126 and my rank being Corporal Acting Sergeant in”D” Company nl’ the 32nd Battalion. 1 would say that he must have enlisted within a few days of the outbreak of war to have obtained that low number -

During my service in the 1914-1918 War I was twice wounded the first time at Mussines and later at the taking of Mont St. Quentin and I was also a casualty from gas.

I was taken Prisoner of War in common with the other personnel of the Eighth Ausiralian Division by the Japanese at Singapore on the fifteenth day of February One thousand nine hundred and forty-two.

Whilst such a prisoner I was elected as president of the Malay Exservicemen’s Association generally called the M.E.A. and so remained until my transfer to Sandakan.

On the eighth day of July One thousand nine hundred and forty-two I was one of the one thousand five hundred officers and other ranks known as “ B “ Force who were transferred to Sandakan British North Borneo. I was held ft prisoner on the AgriculturalExpcrimental Area, eight and a half miles from Sandakan. I had with me my gold travelling pass issued to me as a member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.

During the period I was a prisoner of war at Sandakan in 1943 I was engaged upon plans to escape from the custody of the Japanese. The arrangements in connexion with these plans necessitated communication with Dr. Taylor and other persons outside the camp, using Borneo policemen and other natives as messengers. In order to indicate to the persons who received our communications that they were genuine and did in fact originate from me I sometimes sent my pass with the messengers who carried the letters through the Japanese lines.

This was the only use which I made of my gold Parliamentary Pass while I was a prisoner of war in Sandakan camp, except when I once trusted it to Staff Sergeant James of Perth in order to convince a Chinese, Chin (‘hee Kong, that we had authority behind us and were in a position to reward him if he assisted us in our attempts to escape and bring help to the camp.

On the Ninth day of September One thousand nine hundred and forty-three t was arrested by the Japanese. I was bound and my wrists tied and after being bashed about the head by the Japanese, I was taken to the civil prison at Sandakan in a lorry. There I was divested of all my clothing except slacks and a pair of socks. My kit was left behind in the Japanese Guardroom at the Eight Mile Camp.

For seven weeks I was kept in a cell with a Chinese prisoner and a Malay policeman. Immediately I was thrown into the cell and the guard had gone the Chinese said: “You area member of Parliament and are trying to escape and then revolt in the camp and blow up the wireless station “.. I denied all knowledge fearing he was placed in my cell to spy on me which later proved true.

Our sole diet was a handful of rice given at one p.m: and a second handful at seven p.m. This reduced us to skeletons. Our ration was in conformity with the JapaneseKempei-tai practice. We were allowed to wash ourselves only once a week.

About seven weeks after the ninth day nf September One thousand nine hundred and forty-three I was taken out of the cell to a room in the Kempei-Tai Headquarters which was used for the examination and torture of prisoners. A corporal and an interpreter of Kempei-Tai were present.

The corporal said: “You arc a sergeant”. He tapped me on the head with a pencil. I replied: “Yes”.

The corporal then asked me : “ Did you send a letter out of the camp?” I said “No”.

The corporal took a heavy walking stick which was on the table. He struck me several times on the head with the stick exclaiming: “ You lie “. His method was to strike me on one part of the head untilhe had raised a. lump the size of a lien’s egg, then transferring his blows to another part of my head until he had raised another lump. He raised three lumps in tills way.

I continued to say “ No “.

He then struck mc on the jaw with his wrist, bending from the ground and using his full weight and knocking me to the floor.I then admitted that I had sent a letter out. I did this because it seemed to me from the tenor of the examination that they had intercepted the letter or that some one had confessed.

The examination then proceeded. The corporal repeatedly bashed me on the jaw and face until I was helpless and unable to stand up and almost insensible. This treatment continued for an hour. I was then flung back into my cell to revive and remained lying on the floor for some hours before I was in a condition to stand erect.

A few days afterwards I was again taken to the Kempei-Tui torture room. The same corporal was there with the interpreter.

Before asking any questions he bashed me on the jaw. He then continued to bash me, repeating: “ You are secret service”. Each time he struck mc I said: “I am not secret service “ and continued to deny it. The corporal then said: “You are. Tell the truth. You have a medal.We know.” I said: “I am not secret service. I have told you the truth. I have a medal. It is my pass as a member of the Australian Parliament.” He said: “You lie. You not officer. How can you be member of Parliament?” He became uncontrollably angry and continued to strike me with all his weight and growing fury for some time. I kept repeating my statement. This went on for about ten minutes, the corpora] striking mc furiously. When the chance offered I said: “If you do not believe mc, my pass is in my gas mask case in my kit at the Prisoner of War Cam p. You can see it for yourself.” The corporal said : “Seeing is believing.” . I was then thrown back on to the floor of the cell.

After this, overa period of about three weeksI was called up to the torture cell at intervals for questioning in an attempt to induce me under bashingto convict; my comrades of participation in our escape attempt. At these examinations the gold pass was not mentioned again. 16.I neverat any time showed my pass to the Japanese nor didI except when I was being hashed in the torture room of. the Kempei-Tai atSandakan mention its existence tothem. I mentioned it then only because I, under torture andbecause I believed that if I did not do so, 1 should undoubtedly be convicted by them as a secret service agent and executed along with anybody who could be shown to have been associated with me in any way. Also becauseI knew that, the pass was my kit and that they would certainly findit.

I dirt not at any timeeither personally orthrough any other person ask any favour of the Japanese either by virtue of my position as a member of Parliament or otherwise. My attitude towards them was always one of undisguised hostility. 18.In February One thousand nine hundred and forty-four I was tried beforea Japanese Military Court inKuching and was convicted on acharge of sending out aletter and trying to escape from a prisoner of war camp.I wassentenced to two years penal servitude and transferred toOutram Road Gaol in Singapore to serve my sentence.I was carried out of the On tramRoadGaol to hospital in aseriouscondition and weighing ninety- eight pounds on the tenth day of April One thousand nine hundred and. forty-five. I was not again sent hack to gaol as the Japanese medicalofficer who examined me in conjunction with our own medical officerDr. Gunther ofBulolo. New Guinea, certified that I was in serious danger of death from starvation and my injuries. 19.WhenIcameout of gaol on the tenth day of April One thousand nine hundred and forty-live the Japanese handed me an envelope in which were my reading glasses, my gold pass and my first war medal ribbons which had been torn off my uniform during aba shing immediately afterIhadbeen sentenced in Kuching.

The gold pass remained in my possession for a month untilI came out of the danger ward of thePrisoner of War Hospital.I then gaveitto LieutenantLes.O’Connell L.A.O. now of 7 Hardy Street, Hollywood, Western Australia to pawn with anIndian outside the camp along with the goldcappings whichI knocked offmy teeth in order to buy foodfor myselfand my comrades who were starving to death.I have not seen it since and do not know what became of it.

AndImakethis solemn Declaration by virtue of the Statutory Declarations Act 1911- 1944 conscientiously believing the statement? contained therein to be true in every particular.

The documents, the originals of whichI produce, speak for themselves, and no words of mine are needed to point the deductions to be drawn from them. The record of the honorable member for the Northern Territory would be a proud one for any man to hold, and is one which would entitle him to the gratitude and admiration of his fellow countrymen. Furthermore, his record is such that he might well have avoided involving himself in the dangers and hardships which I have narrated. When World War II. broke out, the honorable member, notwithstanding that he already had a fine record of service in one war, and was a member of Parliament, and belonged to a profession, chose to enlist in the Second Australian Imperial Force. Because of his previous war record and his professional training, he would have been quite justified in seeking a commission in a technical unit, where: he would have received higher pay. more privileges and encountered less discomfort. Buthe did not, choose to do that; he enlisted as a private soldier in a combatant unit Australia is proud of the Australian Imperial Force and it* record of gallantry; for it was the gallantry and fighting skill of the Australian Imperial Force which gave to this country the right, which has never since been denied, to a recognized place in the councils of the nations of the world. Every Australian honours the Australian Imperial Force, and we speak proudly of the heroes of that force. But unless those who praise them speak with empty irresponsibility, this man is one of the heroes, and it is to our shame that his honour has been besmirched in this House. Furthermore, it is inexcusable that the charge should have been allowed to lie against him without his being afforded an opportunity to refute it in the place where it was made. There must be no further delay now in proclaiming the falsity of the charge, and the unanimous confidence of this House in the honour of our gallant colleague.

Mr Harrison:

-I formally second the motion.

Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP

.- The proposal to refer this matter to a committee of privileges is accepted by the Government, although I had hoped that common sense would have prevailed and that such a course would have been unnecessary. The honorable members concerned in the incident are both well known to the House. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) was a very gallant soldier, and whatever differences members on this side of the House may have had with him on political matters, I do not think that any supporter of the Government regards him as being other than a very decent man. However, I must say that I regard the action of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), who has moved that this matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges, of which he is a member, as deplorable. Furthermore, the honorable member has attempted to influence the opinions of other members of the committee while the matter is sub judice.

Opposition members interjecting,


– Order ! The Prime Minister is expressing a point of view, and honorable members must be prepared to listen to it.


– I remind honorable members that the Committee of Privileges, is a semi-judicial body. I have not the Hansard report of the incident before me, but whatever accusations were made emanated from an honorable member who is regarded by every member of the House as one of the most gentlemanly of our colleagues.. The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), to whom I refer, is quiet, gentlemanly, understanding and considerate in his behaviour, and enjoys the personal respect of honorable members to a degree unsurpassed by any other honorable gentleman. Furthermore, I point out that the honorable member for the Northern Territory also used a very nasty expression in referring to the honorable member for Lang, possibly quite justifiably at the time. But, in all the circumstances, I had hoped that the honorable gentlemen concerned might have disposed of the unfortunate incident by making statements in the House, and I certainly do not consider that the speech which the honorable member for Indi has just made has helped matters at all. My own belief is that if this matter had been left to the common sense, goodwill and good fellowship of the honorable gentlemen concerned it would have been settled amicably and apologies would have been made. It appears to me that there is something behind the attempt which has undoubtedly been made to fan the political flames. Possibly, members of the Opposition thought that, by discrediting the honorable member for Lang, they could discredit the Government. However, since the Government accepts the motion to refer the matter to the Committee of Privileges, I do not propose to discuss the merits or demerits of the honorable gentlemen concerned, except to deplore the fact that the incident has been allowed to develop as it has, and to deprecate the attempt made to inflame the feelings of certain sections of the community. I feel that the controversy which has surrounded the whole unhappy incident reflects little credit on Parliament. As I said previously, when a controversy like this occurs and accusations are made in the heat of debate, one would not imagine that deliberate attempts would be made to stir up political feeling. The Government accepts the proposal to convene the Committee of Privileges, and that committee will deal with the matter.

Sitting suspended from 12.42 to 2.15 p.m.

Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong

– I do not desire unduly to prolong the debate on this most unhappy matter, but as I propose to move an amendment to this motion, and to invite the House to carry it, I wish to make a short explanation. Having listened to the powerful and moving statement of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and having heard the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) ‘l could not held wondering this morning whether the origin of this matter had become entirely forgotten. I remind honorable members that on the 6th November last, there were certain interjections during a speech by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), whereupon the honorable member said, as reported at page 1786 of Hansard of that date -

  1. . Unlike the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain),. he-

That was another soldier referred to - did not show his gold pass to the Japanese in order to get special treatment.

Mr Conelan:

– What was said before that?


– If the honorable member is curious, I will tell him. It will be very interesting indeed to know whether this charge is still persisted in. A reference was made by the honorable member for Lang to a gentleman who was described as “ a one-legged digger “. The Hansard report continues -

Mr Blain:

– Where is the digger now?


– I hope he is in Heaven.

Mr Blain:

– The honorable member ought to be ashamed of himself.


– This man. who went away to fight far his country, became a member of Parliament; but, unlike the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), he did not show his gold pass to the Japanese in order to get special treatment.

That was the statement as originally made. Some great disturbance having arisen over the matter, reference was made to it again on the following day, the 7th November. In the course of the debate on that day the honorable member for Lang said -

I regret that it was necessary for me to make that retort to him. I have the greatest admiration for anybody who enlisted in the Army, and I have the greatest sympathy for those who suffered during the campaign against the Japanese, particularly those who were unfortunate enough to be captured by them. Since the honorable member for the Northern Territory has been a member of this House, members of the Labour party have been more than generous to him because of his low mentality. . . .

Subsequently, the honorable member for Lang rose and went through the procedure of making a personal explanation, and in doing so made this extraordinary statement appropos the honorable member for the Northern Territory -

I hope that in future his conduct will not prevent other honorable members from express ing their opinion, for that reason, I nave no ill feeling against him. I have no intention now and never had any intention-


-Order ! Is the -right honorable gentleman quoting from an uncorrected proof of the report of the debates ?


– I am.

Mr Speaker:

– The right honorable gentleman is not entitled to do that.


– I confess that what I have been doing constitutes an offence, but the rule is more honoured in the breach than in the observance in this House. However, I have a very clear recollection of the matter. My recollection is that the honorable member for Lang said, “ I have no ill feeling against him. I intended to make no reflection upon him in a military capacity”, or words to that effect. All I can say is - and I think every honorable member will agree with me - that it was felt that the offence had been accentuated and not mitigated by the statement then made. I confess to being completely mystified by this matter. A charge was made. If the honorable member for Lang did not desire that charge to be understood as it was understood, why has he not long since cleared the record on this matter? Why has he not long since completely unequivocally said, “ Of course I make no charge of that kind ? “ On the contrary, everything that has happened during the last two weeks has meant that the charge has been left undealt with on the records of this Parliament. It is a very grave charge, and . I venture to say, having heard what we have all heard this morning, that it is a charge made against a very brave, unselfish and loyal gentleman. A charge of this kind ought not to be allowed to hang in the air.

The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) had a limited amount of time in which to speak and therefore he was not able to produce all the material available. I have before me - and I say at once that I do not propose to read it because largely it covers the same ground, although from a slightly different individual point of view - a very careful statement by Mr. Leonard Lawrence Draney, a lawyer of Brisbane, which I have received through the courtesy of my colleague the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis).

I make that available to honorable mem bers. It is in accord with the other statements that have been made.

There are two questions that arise here. The first is - and I hope we shall face up to it - whether anybody in this House adduces evidence to support the charge. The answer obviously is that no honorable member desires to adduce such evidence. This is, on the face of it, an unsupported andunsupportable charge. I’ have listened to the discussion, but, for the life of me, I fail to understand why the time of members of this Parliament should be occupied about it for any considerable time. The Government says, “At this stage we will agree to this going to the Committee of Privileges”. To investigate what? What is being investigated ? Does the honorable member for Lang maintain a charge of the improper use of a gold pass?

Mr.Mulcahy. - I have never charged a nybody.


– Then it is doubly true that the honorable member for Lang is making no charge now and that he will pursue no charge before the Committee of Privileges. Therefore, we are dealing with a matter closely touching the honour and the record of one of our colleagues in this Parliament, and in relation to that matter all the evidence is one way. There has been laid before the House statement after statement made by people of high standing and repute, vouched for on oath. Does any one say anything to the contrary? Does any one desire to persist in this fantastic allegation? Of course not. What is there, then, to investigate? What need is there for this Parliament to delegate this function to anybody? It is a function that honorable members of this House ought, to discharge themselves, and at the earliest moment, for the sake of their own reputations for fair play and decent understanding of what men like the honorable member for the Northern Territory have suffered for their sakes.

I move the following amendment -

That all the words after “ That “ he left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - the House, having heard statements in relation to certain allegations made against the honorable member for the Northern Territory, declares its opinion -

that the conduct of the said honor able member whilst a prisoner of war in the hands of the Japanese was marked by courage and fidelity; and

that the said honorable member, whilea prisoner as aforesaid, did not wrongfully use his parliamentary privileges “.

Mr.Chifley. - The Government will not accept any amendment. It has accepted the motion moved by the honorable member for Indi.

Mr McEwen:

-i would gladly accept the amendment.

Question put -

That the words proposed to be left out (Mr.Menzies’s amendment) stand part of the question.

The House divided. (Mr.Speaker- Hon. j. S. Rosevear.)

AYES: 40

NOES: 20

Majority . . . . 20



Question so resolved inthe affirmative.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

page 3087


Bill presented by Mr.Drakeford, and read a first time.


MaribyrnongMinister for Air and Minister forCivil Aviation · ALP

by leave - I move -

That thebillbe now read a second time.

The primary purpose of this bill is to authorize the Australian National Airlines Commission to undertake and develop intra-state air services. Under the existing act, the commission may engage in intra-state services only to the extent that such services are incidental to the safe, efficient and economical operation of interstate territorial and international services. As one step towards the development of intrastate services, it is proposed that section 19 of the act be amplified so as to authorize expressly the transport of mail within any State. While section 22 of the existing act refers to the promotion of the carriage of mails this section is not expressly linked with section 19. The Australian Parliament has unquestionable power to provideair transport, whether interstate or intra-state, for postal purposes, and it is now considered desirable that the commission should he clearly authorized to carry mails intra-state in order to be able to implement any agreement for the carriage of mails authorized under section 22. The commission will then be able to carry passengers and freight within any State as incidental to the postal service, provided that the primary purpose of a particular service is the carriage of mail.

It is also proposed that provision be made for the adoption of the powers in relation to air transport referred to the Commonwealth in 1943 under the Commonwealth Powers Acts of the various

States except Victoria and Tasmania. Queensland and New South Wales have referred to this Parliament the matter of air transport and South Australia and Western Australia the matter of the regulation of air transport. These references remain effective and cannot be revoked by ordinary legislative process until the 2nd September, 1950, so that until that date the Australian Parliament may make laws in respect of air transport within the States which have made the references. As yet these special and additional powers referred by the States have not been invoked.

During the recent conference of Common wealth, and State Ministers, the Premier of Queensland indicated that his Government desired the Commonwealth to authorize the Australian National Airlines Commission to establish and operate intra-state services in Queensland on condition that the commission pays the same rate of tax as that imposed by that State on privately operated airlines. TheGovernment considers that it willbe of direct benefit, not. only to Queensland, but also to the Commonwealth as a whole, if the commission develops intra-state services within Queensland and other States, even though it is possible that these services, in view of their developmental nature, may be unprofitable at the beginning. It has, therefore, decided to accept the invitation of the Queensland Government to engage in this new sphere of air serviceoperations. The vesting in the commission of the necessary authority with respect to Queensland requires an amendment of the Australian National Airlines Act relying on the powers vested in this Parliament by virtue of the reference of the matter of air transport by the Commonwealth Powers Act of 1943 in. that State. The provision in the bill implementing State references authorizes the establishment, maintenance and operation of air services within any State which has made the necessary references so that fresh legislation will not be necessary as and when it is decided to take advantage of the reference in any particular State. Although there is no legal necessityto impose any limitation, the bill provides that the commission shall not establish any service unless the Premier of the State in which the service is to be established has notified the Prime Minister in writing that he consents to the establishment of the service. This will ensure that the powers which have already been referred by four States will not be exercised without the express consent of the States concerned. In addition, a further sub-clause imposes an obligation on the commission to pay from time to time amounts equivalent to the licence-fees which would be payable under the law of the State if the service were operated by an authority other than the commission. This provision has the effect of requiring the commission to pay the same licencefees as private operators and meets the condition stipulated by the Premier of Queensland at the Premiers Conference. Another clause amends section 48 which provides that the commission must give 30 days' notice of intention to establish a service. It is proposed that this requirement should in future be limited to territorial airline licences applied for by Trans-Australia Airlines in circumstances which will bring into operation section 46 of the act and thereby render inoperative any airline licence held by any other person by reason of the fact that the commission is providing an adequate service. The original purpose of section 48 was to give reasonable notice to operators whose airline licences might be affected by the operation of section 46 of the act. In view of the decision of the High Court in the *Australian National Airways* case, the holders of interstate airline licences are not affected by section 46 and, as the commission has found in practice that these requirements unnecessarily delay the establishment or operation of new services at short notice, it is now proposed to limit the requirements of notice to cases where some other licence-holders may be affected by the operation of the act. The remaining clauses are mainly concerned with matters of drafting and in particular repeal those sections of the act declared invalid by the High Court in the *Australian National Airways* case. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Menzies)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 3088 {:#debate-18} ### EGG EXPORT CONTROL BILL 1947 *In committee:* Consideration resumed from the 2nd December *(vide* page 2969). Clause 5 - (1.) For the purposes of this Act, there shall be an Australian Egg Board. (7.) The member appointed to represent the Commonwealth Government shall be Chairman of the Board and shall hold office for such period as the Governor-General directs, but the Governor-General may, on the recommendation of the Minister; remove the Chairman from his office for incapacity, incompetence or misbehaviour. Upon which **Mr. Anthony** had moved by way of amendment - >That," in sub-clause (7.), the words, "The member appointed to represent the Commonwealth Government shall be Chairman of the Board", be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - "The Chairman of the Board shall be elected by the members of the Board ". Amendment negatived. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clauses 6 to 8 agreed to. Clause 9 - (1.) Subject to this section, meetings of the Board shall be held at such times, and at such places within the Commonwealth, as the Board from time to time determines. (8.) If the Chairman or other person presiding at any meeting of the Board dissents from any decision of the Board at that meeting and signifies at that meeting to the other members present in person his intention to bring his dissent to the notice of the Minister and, within twenty-four hours after the close of the meeting, transmits to the Minister notice of his dissent together with full particulars of the decision, the decision shall have no effect unless the Minister approves the decision (whether with or without variation) and, if the Minister approves the decision subject to a variation, the varied decision as so approved shall be deemed to be the decision of the Board. {: #debate-18-s0 .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN:
Flinders .- I move - >That sub-clause (8.) be left out. I have already, in my previous remarks, stated the reasons why the Opposition objects to this sub-clause. As it reads, the sub-clause gives to the chairman of the board authority, should he dissent from any decision of the board, to bring his dissent to the notice of the Minister who may approve, vary, or disapprove, the decision. In other words, the Minister is given complete power over the hoard. This, we submit, is not in . accordance with the best interests of the industry. 1 do not propose to repeat the Opposition's reasons for its objections to this provision. They have been clearly stated not only by myself but also by other honorable members. We have shown that in relation to a similar board, the powers of the Minister, or of his nominee, amount in effect to complete authority to override the decisions of that board. I refer to the Advisory Board set up under the National Security Regulations to assist the Federal Egg Controller. On many occasions since the establishment of this control, the Federal Egg Controller has acted entirely contrary to the wishes of the board. In fact, he informed a conference of representatives of State Egg Boards that he was not obliged under the National Security Regulations to heed the recommendations of the board, and that on occasions he would choose to disregard them. Under sub-clause 8, similar authority is given to the chairman of the proposed Australian Egg Board. The person to be appointed by the Minister as chairman of the board will be able, in exactly the same way, to refer all decisions of the board to the Minister for his opinion. I draw attention also to one other point which is very important ! This board will exert a most important influence on the poultry industry in Australia. Subject to the Minister, it will have complete power over all matters associated with the export of eggs. As I said, the board will purchase eggs from the producers and sell them abroad, and the prices at which this exportable surplus will be sold will certainly have a major effect on all egg prices in Australia. In effect, the well-being of the poultry industry will be practically dependent on the export prices received for eggs. As I stated earlier, the poultry industry, taken as a whole, is our fourth major primary industry. This year, Australia will export 30,000,000 dozen egg9, which is a large proportion of our total egg production. The prices received for this exportable surplus must have ah effect on the whole industry, and determine the local price of eggs. It is wrong that one man, even though he may be a capable Minister. should have the power to deter mine the conditions under which the industry shall operate, and the prosperity or otherwise which will attach to it. That power should rest in the hands of a board consisting of the representatives of the producers. For that reason, 1 have submitted the amendment, which, if agreed to, will remove from the Minister the authority to make these decisions, and restore to the board itself the power to make them and implement them. Amendment negatived. Clause agreed to. Clause 10 (Executive committee of board). {: #debate-18-s1 .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN:
Flinders .- Under this clause, an executive committee of the Australian Egg Board will be created consisting of the chairman and four other members of the board. Of the four other members, only two will be the representatives of the producers. As the producers have a majority of representatives on the Australian Egg Board, they should have a majority of representatives on the executive committee. Therefore, I ask the Minister to consider amending the clause to increase the number of producer mem- " bers to three. Of the remaining two members, one will be the chairman aud the fifth will be a non-producer. Clause agreed to. Clauses 11 and 12 agreed to. Clause 13 (Powers of board). {: #debate-18-s2 .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN:
Flinders .- Obviously the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** is not prepared to answer any of the questions which I have asked him on behalf of egg producers. I hope that he will be good enough to reply to two questions that I shall ask in relation to clause 13. This provision deals with the powers of the board. Although they are described as powers, the hoard will have authority only to make recommendations to the Minister. The board may make recommendations for the purpose of regulating the export of eggs from Australia; make reports and suggestions to the Minister on such matters as the quality, standards and grading of eggs for export; advise or make recommendations to the Minister regarding matters arising in connexion with any export programmes relating to eggs; and with the concurrence of the Minister, make recommendations regarding experimental work in the industry. In other words, the board will hare power to -make recommendations to the. Minister in relation to the purchase and sale of eggs. I invite the honorable gentleman to explain whether the board itself will have authority to determine the price of eggs, both to the producer and. in foreign markets. For example, will the board conduct negotiations with the United Kingdom Government regarding the selling price of eggs to the United Kingdom, or will that power be vested in the Minister? I should, also like to know whether the board will make decisions or recommendations to the Minister in regard to the prices to he paid to Australian egg producers. {: #debate-18-s3 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP [2.52 1. - I do not know the kind of answer that the honorable member for Hinders **(Mr. Ryan)** desires me to give. On one hand, he has criticized the establishment of this board, and suggests that it is being robbed of the power to do as it pleases. Then, on. the other hand, he asks whether the. board will determine the prices at, which eggs will be sold for export, and negotiate contracts with the United Kingdom Government or in any other export market, f do not. know what the honorable member wants. If I say that the board will lie the sole authority to determine the prices to 1% paid to producers and the prices at which eggs will be sold in the United Kingdom, the Government ami I will probably be accused of handing over to a semi-governmental authority an arbitrary power which the Government should retain. The board is pin powered to buy eggs for the United Kingdom market; but the board's actions will be subject to the final concurrence of the Minister. In trading which is carried on between Australia and the United Kingdom, the United Kingdom Government does not purchase from merchants or single producers here. It negotiates its contracts for the supply of meat, eggs and butter, direct with the Australian Government. In. the circumstances, any contracts for the sale of eggs will be negotiated between the Australian Government and the United Kingdom Government. The ' United Kingdom Government has clearly indicated that it will purchase only from the Australian Government; but, in these transactions, the Australian Government will be fortified by having at its disposal the advice of an expert authority, as represented by the personnel of this board. That explanation should clarify the situation for the honorable member. {: .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr Ryan: -- Will the board negotiate with the United Kingdom Government, regarding the price of eggs? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- No, the Australian Government will negotiate with the United Kingdom Government; but, as I explained, it will be fortified with the advice and opinions of this expert authority. The personnel of the board will include merchants, producers, executive officers and employees. Naturally, before a contract is entered into with the United Kingdom Government, the Minister will say to the Australian Egg Board, " The United Kingdom. Government desires to negotiate a new contract for the purchase of eggs. What does the board think of its suggestions regarding the proposed contract? Does the hoard consider that the terms of the proposed contract are satisfactory? " Having consulted this expert authority, the Government will then decide whether to negotiate a contract and on what terms. That is explicit in the bill. It has been 1he practice to deal with one authority since the Government of the United Kingdom indicated that it did not wish to huy primary products from individual merchants but preferred instead to negotiate with a centralized governmental authority. That preference explains the reason for the phraseology of this clause. The honorable member complained that I had not replied to his requests for information regarding the powers to be vested in the chairman of the board. I regret that I did not do so previously, and I shall rectify the omission now. Authorities such as the Australian Egg Board are set up to represent certain sections of primary industries. Nobody has yet questioned the desirability of including a government nominee in the membership of each such board. The fact is that, if a produces' representative were elected as chairman of such a body, he would be placed in a most invidious position. The chairman of a board is essentiallythe watch-dog of the interests of all of the people and, therefore, he must be impartial. That is why the Government has decided that the chairmen of such boards must be government nominees, and that, when the handling of public money is involved in the operations of such an authority, the chairman, in the person of the government; nominee, shall have the right to veto any unwise decision made by it, and he allowed a period of 24 hours within which to bring to the notice of the Minister any proposed action of the authority which might outrage the interests of the people as a whole. The honorable member for Flinders will readily admit that, if members of the board were allowed to elect their own chairman, they might select a representative of the producers, of the merchants, or of the employees. Such an appointment would immediately cause a clash of interests in the mind of the person elected. He would have difficulty in. being impartial. This Government will continue to do what governments of the same political colour as the honorable member have done in the past. Such governments appointed men of high calibre and great experience of the industries with which they were connected as chairmen of export control boards, and expected them to carry out their duties conscientiously always keeping uppermost in their minds their responsibility to guard the interests of the people. I heard a good deal of humbug talked lastnight about the Government's decision that its nominee should be chairman ofthe board. Every government for many years past has ensured from time to time- The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order!** The Minister is straying from the provisions of the clause before the committee. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- I believe you arc right, **Mr. Chairman.** I concludeby saying that anti-Labour governments have appointed their own nominees as chairmen of authorities similar to the Australian Egg Board. This was done in the case of the Australian Wool Board, the Australian Wheat Board, the Australian Meat Board, the Commonwealth Bank Board, and many other such bodies. {: #debate-18-s4 .speaker-KGC} ##### Mr HAMILTON:
Swan .-I should like the Minister **(Mr. Pollard)** to give an assurance in respect of paragraph c, which provides that the board shall have power - onbehalfoftheCommonwealth and subject to any directions of the Minister - {: type="i" start="i"} 0. to purchase eggs which are intended for export and comply with the conditions and restrictions with which eggs intended for exportare required to comply; and 1. to manage and control all matters connected with the handling, storage, protection, treatment, transfer and shipment of, and to sell, eggs purchased in accordance with the last preceding sub-paragraph. The Minister said earlier that if, for instance, the British Government should want to purchase eggs from Australia, he would approach the Australian Egg Board and obtain its expert advice, which would be submitted to the Government. I assume that he implied that the Government would act according to that advice. However, the producers would like to know whether, in respect of any primary product, there is likely to be a repetition of events which took place a little over twelve months ago, when the advice of aboard which had been appointed to look after certain primary producing interests was disregarded by the Minister. That board was opposed to the terms of a proposed contract for the sale of Australian primary produce to another country, but the Minister nevertheless entered into the contract at a lower price than the ruling world parity. The egg producers would be glad to have the Minister's assurance that he will pay attention in all cases to the expert advice which he praised a few minutes ago. They do not want to be the victims of a repetition of the events I have mentioned. Will the Minister indicate whether he will take notice of the advice of the Australian Egg Board before concluding any contract for the sale of eggs to another country? Clause agreed to. Clauses 14 to 16 agreed to. Clause 17 (Finance). {: #debate-18-s5 .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN:
Flinders .- This clause lays down a method of financing the operations of the Australian Egg Board, and provides - (1.) The board shall open and maintain with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia an account or accounts into which shall be paid - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. all moneys received in the exercise of the powers and functions of the board under this act; 1. all moneys appropriated by the Parliament for use by the board on behalf of the Commonwealth; and 2. all moneys advanced by the Treasurer to the board for the purpose of the exercise of the powers and functions of the board under this act. Clause 19 provides - The moneys paid into any account or accounts opened by the board in pursuance of section seventeen of this act or into the fund shall be applied by the board in payment of the expenses and other charges incurred by the board. These provisions give rise to two important points. The first concerns the export levy which is to be imposed on eggs at the rate of½d. per dozen. If all of the moneys specified in clause 17 are to be paid over to the Australian Egg Board to make good the costs that it will incur, why is it necessary to impose the additional levy of½d. per dozen which has been foreshadowed? This point requires clarification. Under present conditions, the Government of the United Kingdom pays 2s.1d. per dozen for Australian eggs, and the producers receive only ls. 9d. per dozen. The difference of 4d. per dozen should be more than sufficient to cover the costs of the board and any other incidental expenses in connexion with the export' of eggs. In fact, many producers consider that the charge of 4d. per dozen is far too high. It is difficult to find any reason for the proposed export charge of½d. per dozen in the light of what is taking place to-day. Is it intended that the costs of the board shall be increased in any way? The second point, which is even more important than the first, concerns the socalled stabilization fund, which to-day is at the disposal of the Federal Controller of Eggs. This fund has been created by levying a charge of1d. per dozen on eggs during recent years. At one time, it amounted to £750,000. There have been various payments from it since then for the purpose of stabilizing the egg produc ing industry, and it now amounts to about £500,000. Is this fund to be placed at the disposal of the board, or is it to be handed to the State Equalization committees in order to meet their capital expenditure, as they have requested ? I should like to know what is to be done with the fund. Will the Minister give an assurance that it will be maintained for the use of the equalization committees? As we know, there is to be set up a Federal Egg Equalization Company Limited which is to be formed by the merging of the various State equalization committees. What will be its relation to the Australian Egg Board? I assume that one of its functions will be to pass over to the Australian Egg Board surplus eggs for export. But what will be the functions of the State equalization boards? What is to happen to the fund of £500,000 raised for the stabilization of egg prices? That is causing concern amongst the State boards and the producers. I should like the Minister to elucidate the position. {: #debate-18-s6 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- The honorable member for Flinders **(Mr. Ryan)** has raised some extraneous matters. Repeated announcements have been made by myself and other governmental authorities that £500,000 of the fund of about £600,000 derived from the operations of the Egg Control will be made available to the Federal Egg Equalization Company Limited, if and when it is formed. That company will be, in effect, a federation of the State egg boards. It will be formed when the State egg boards have completed their negotiations. The other £100,000 will be handed to the State egg boards to assist them in commencing operations on their own account again. The Government will not keep one penny of the money. The honorable member has a wrong idea about egg export prices. Bie referred to the contract price of 2s.1d. a dozen for eggs in shell sold to Great Britain, and the ls. 9d. a dozen received by the producers and implied that the difference was swallowed up in the administrative costs of the Egg Control. That completely misrepresents the position. The contract price of 2s.1d. a dozen applies to first-grade eggs in shell. Lower prices are received for second-grade eggs in shell, pulped eggs and dried eggs. In the peak production period, from June to December, 70 per cent. of our production is surplus to our requirements, but unfortunately only 30 per cent. of the surplus eggs qualify for the contract price of 2s.1d. a dozen. The lower prices received for the other eggs account for the difference. It is true that a small levy is made on eggs in the peak production period. The proceeds of that levy are paid into the stabilization fund for distribution to the producers in the period from January to June in order to raise their returns when production is less. There is no mystery about that. Should the Australian Egg Board accumulate more funds than it needs for its operations, the levy could be reduced or the board could reduce its overdraft from and interest payments to the CommonwealthBank. In August last year, the Government decided, in line with its general policy of relinquishing controls to the States as soon as possible, to return to the States control of the egg industry. The Commonwealth control will end on the 31st December. It is strange that although honorable' gentlemen opposite continually advocate the abolition of Commonwealth controls, tory State Ministers plea for their retention as soon as their abolition is proposed by us. As soon as we decided to relinquish control of the egg industry, the Minister for Agriculture in the Government of South Australia sent me a telegram saying, in effect, "For God's sake keep the control going Tor another twelve months ". "We, however, intend to allow the States to manage their own affairs in their own way. All that we shall be responsible for will be the purchase of eggs to supply the United Kingdom and the setting of standards for export eggs in order that the good name of the Australian product may be preserved in the overseas markets. Thatpolicy has been applied by all AustralianGovernments in respect of all primary commodities exported. I hope that information is sufficiently complete for the honorable gentleman. {: .speaker-KCA} ##### Mr Davidson: -- Will the board make its annual report and balance-sheet available to the producers? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -Certainly. The reports of all such authorities are made available. Clause agreed to. Clauses18 to 24 agreed to. Title agreed to. Bill reported with an amendment; report - *by leave* - adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3093 {:#debate-19} ### EGG EXPORT CHARGES BILL 1947 *In Committee of Ways and Means:* Motion (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to - >That, subject to lower rates of charges being prescribed by regulations made, and subject to exemptions allowed under order made, under the Act passed to give effect to this Resolution, charges be imposed at the rates specified in the following Schedule on all eggs (being hen eggs in shell and including the following products of hen eggs, namely, liquid whole egg, liquid egg white, liquid egg yolk, dried whole egg, sugared dried egg and dried egg white) exported from the Commonwealth after a date to be fixed by Proclamation under that Act: - Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted. *Ordered -* >That **Mr. Pollard** and **Mr. Holloway** do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. Bill presented by **Mr. Pollard,** and passed through all stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 3093 {:#debate-20} ### DEFENCE (TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS) BILL 1947 Debate resumed from the 5th November *(vide* page 1684), on motion by **Mr. Dedman** - >Thatthebill be nowread a second time. {: #debate-20-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- This bill is designed to amend the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946, and for other purposes. Immediately two points present themselves. The first is that this bill is designed to continue in operation for a period of twelve months certain regulations promulgated under the National Security Act for the control of certain aspects of our economy. The second point is : Should' these controls at this juncture, in these days of peace, be continued for a period of twelve months? If so, in what manner should they be continued? Should they be continued by way of regulations which, I remind the House, were designed during the war period, or should they be implemented by way of legislation? These .are very important points which this House should consider. As was said by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies),** there will be no attempt on the part of the Opposition to vote against the continuation of these controls for a period of twelve months. We wish, however, to draw attention to certain faults that arise out of the administration of the regulations governing these controls. That brings into sharp focus the questions I have asked : Should these controls he continued for a further twelve months by way of existing regulations, or should they be translated into legislation? I well remember in 1946 - to be precise, on the 10th April, 1946 - the Attorney-General in his secondreading speech on the National Security Bill, a measure which was designed to terminate the National Security Regulations by the 31st March, 1946, saying this - >I a.m convinced it is preferable to terminate the act at the end of this year- That, was the year 1946. He went on - leaving it to Parliament to deal with any specific matters by way of legislation. That was a forthright statement. It recognized the authority of the Parliament. It recognized that we, as a parliamentary institution, should, in times of peace, take charge of controls that had been implemented by way of regulation in time of war. It recognized that there should be given to this House an opportunity to discuss the effect of these regulations upon the various specifics that were controlled, that an opportunity would be given to the House to amend the bill if necessary in such a way as to make for effective control, and indeed, that there would be restored to the Parliament its full power and authority over these controls which were designed to help our economy, and that such controls would be taken out of the hands of those who formerly exercised them by way of regulation. If that statement meant anything, it meant that if prices control, land sales control or rents control were to continue, legislation should be introduced to give effect to such continuation. Having said that, one would have expected that, in the ensuing twelve months, some action would have been taken by the Government to implement the assurance given by the Attorney-General, but instead we found that, in December. 1946, another Defence (Transitional Provisions,) Bill was brought before us which was designed to continue for the period of twelve months certain of the regulations. Having made his first statement, .the Attorney-General departed entirely from the principles he had -laid down and introduced a bill t'o continue for a further twelve months the very controls he condemned by . his statement in April, 1946. Some of us believed that, statement to be one which we might be able to accept. Some of us believed that over the year between 1946 and 1947 there would be a tapering off of these controls and that such essential controls as remained necessary for Commonwealth action would be translated into legislation which would be subject to review in this House and that we could take- the necessary action to help the Government tighten up the administration of those controls. After two years of peace, however, another bill is introduced and another assurance is given by a Minister. It is true that on this occasion the assurance is given by a different Minister, but its verbiage is much the same. On page 8 of the typed transcript of the second-reading speech made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction **(Mr. Dedman),** which was circulated to honorable members - that is the source of my information - there appears this paragraph During 1946 in terms of volume about 90 sots of regulations were allowed to lapse in whole or in part and about180 individual regulations were removed from the General and Supplementary Regulations. This year the number which it is possible to dispense with is very much smaller, the figures being fifteen sets and nineteen general and supplementary. We have not progressed very far in the ensuing twelve months. We have not taken the necessary tapering-off steps with regard tothese controls. The Minister then went on to declare Government policy much the same as the AttorneyGeneral declared it. He said - >It is the policy of the Government to embody in permanent legislation at the earliest possible date provisions which are now contained in National Security Kegulations and which it is desirable shall have permanent effectas part of the law of the Commonwealth. The honorable gentleman was more explicit when he gave his assurance. The Opposition said, "All right; we shall grant you an extension of these powers for a further twelve months, but during that period we expect two things to happen. First, we expect a. tapering off of those controls that can well be tapered off by the Commonwealth, leaving it to the States to exercise them if they so desire, and secondly, those controls which for a stabilized economy must still be subject to some Commonwealth control should be embodied in legislation". Two Ministers of the Crown, over a period of years it is true, have subscribed to the same principle. I am anxious to know when they propose to give effect to their assurances. Did. they utter mere words ? {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- The honorable member has already quoted the regulations that have been allowed to lapse. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The Minister has missed the point. I have already quoted the statement made by the AttorneyGeneral last year, and the statement made by the Minister himself in introducing this bill, to the effect that it is the desire of the Government to introduce legislation dealing particularly with specific controls which it considers should be continued. We discussed recently a measure which dealt with the control of patriotic funds. That particular subject was lifted out of the. great mass of regulations and made the subject of specific legislation. Consequently, honorable . members were able to debate that subject in an effective way ; but with a bill such as the one now before the House, that procedure is almost impracticable, for time is not available for a detailed discussion of all the matters dealt with in the measure. The Government should return to the States the control of affairs which properly come within the sphere of State action, and other matters which then still remain the subject of National Security Regulations should be pin-pointed in a specific legislative proposal. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- The honorable gentleman, appears to forget the terms of the bill that was dealt with last night. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The Minister must not attempt to sidestep the issue in that fashion. A great number of subjects are still shrouded in the semi-darkness of the regulations Avhich continue to be applied under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act. The bill referred to by the Minister a. moment ago indicated, all too clearly, the general policy of this Government. It has been said that great power always corrupts small minds. The measure now before us provides a striking illustration of the truth of that statement. The members of the Chifley Cabinet are small-minded persons who are power-drunk. Not sa tisfied with exercising great powers during the war, they wishto continue to exercise them in the peace period. They desire certain powers to he included in the framework of the Commonwealth on a permanent basis. In seeking power to continue to impose government-by-regulation upon the people, the members of the Cabinet are flouting the Parliament and the people. They are, in fact, seeking to retain power and to vest it permanently in the hands of individuals whom we have described as bureaucrats. The procedure of the Government is cutting completely across our federal system of government, and totally disregarding the division of power that should exist under a federal system as between Commonwealth and State authorities. By refusing to restore to the States the powers which they normally exercised in peace-time, the Government is acting most arbitrarily. On this account, there is arraigned against it practically all the State parliaments of Australia, and also the great majority of the people, as was shown by the recent elections in Victoria, and as will be shown, again when the referendum on rents and prices is held next year. The Government is facing, a wall of opposition, but it cannot read the signs of the times. It is going- recklessly from stage to stage in a fashion which, indicates clearly that its members should submit themselves for. examination by a psychiatrist. Ministers, in fact, have allowed themselves to be overwhelmed by a mental obsession. The questions that we should consider are whether these controls; or any of them, should be continued; and, if so, whether they should be exercised by the Commonwealth or the States, and for what periods. At this juncture the Opposition might be prepared to agree to the continuation of certain controls if the Government made it clear that within the next twelve months it would restore such control's to the State parliaments. State governments are in much closer contact with the people generally than is the Australian Government, and, therefore, are better able to administer controls on a basis that will be satisfactory to the people. The period which has elapsed since the passage of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill 1946 should have been sufficient to allow proper' measures of co-ordination to be developed between Commonwealth and State authorities. Even if it were agreed that certain specific powers could best be exercised by the Commonwealth for a brief period, all other controls should be restored to the State authorities immediately. We have been told, time and time again, that the control of land sales by the Commonwealth, for example, is absolutely necessary for the establishment of the economy of this, country, and it has been said that if such controls were discontinued by the Commonwealth, our whole rent structure would be endangered. It is strange, however, that land sales controls have never been applied in Canada or South Africa. Both of those dominions exercise controls over rents, but they have not considered, land sales controls to be a necessary, corollary to the imposition, of an effective control over rents. It is interesting to note also that although' clothes- rationing is being lifted, in New Zealand it is to- be continued in Australia. This is strange when we realize that , substantial quantities of woollen textiles manufactured in this country are being exported to New Zealand. Australia, which, manufactures these textiles, is to remain under a system of clothes rationing, whereas New Zealand, which is not a manufacturing country, is to be free of such controls. This indicates clearly that the Australian Government is actuated by a desire to retain power, irrespective of whether it is necessary . or not. We shall never get back to proper trading conditions and effective competition until the Government is- prepared to lift controls or, alternatively, to allow the States to exercise them. Honorable members who are in close contact with the State governments and State instrumentalities must realize that they are - becoming- cynical about Commonwealth control, and with good reason. No one is in a better position to realize the shortcomings of Commonwealth administration than are members of State governments and of State instrumentalities. It is common knowledge that there is a black market in almost every commodity over which the Commonwealth is supposed to exercise control. The States are in a much better position to- police control regulations. The administration in Canberra is so distant and so centralized that black marketing is everywhere rampant. The honorable member for Parramatta **(Mr. Beale),** speaking- on another subject last evening, gave some idea of the extent of the black market in motor cars. I propose to discuss petrol rationing: We know that the administration of the petrol rationing regulations costs about £19,000 a month, but we also know that every body in Australia was getting- as much petrol as he. wanted. Why, then, was rationing continued? Was it merely in order to keep a government department in existence ? Recently, the Government has tightened up petrol rationing, because it had been advised that considerably more petrol was being, used than should have been used. There has been a leakage of petrol coupons, and an attempt is being, made to find out about it. A garage, proprietor told me on the 1st December, that he had been approached eight days- before the. December issue was- due by a man who offered him SOO December tickets, and he wanted 500 gallons: of petrol. He said that he knew of another man in. the same trade who was offered. 8,000 coupons at 2d. a coupon. That is an example of how government control is breaking down, and the Government has reduced petrol supplies in an endeavour to close up the loopholes. Surely it should be possible to develop a system that would prevent the leakage of petrol coupons. The Government is aware that practically all petrol coupons are issued from post offices. Coupons should be stamped at the post office at the time of their issue to the public, and no ticket should be honoured unless it bore the post office stamp. That would be an easy way to prevent any leakage. Every petrol licence states the number of gallons which may be issued under that licence, so that the authorities ought to know just how many coupons need to be printed to enable the authorized quantity of petrol to be bought - a small reserve being printed to cover special cases. Black marketing in motor cars will be aggravated by the drastic new measures which have been taken to reduce the importation of motor vehicles from dollar areas, as recently announced by the Prime Minister. Australia will commence the year 1948 with a deficiency of about 100,000 motor vehicles, according to figures published in the official journal for November of the automotive industry. A close analysis has revealed that about 87 per cent. of the vehicles on the road are over seven years old, and almost 50 per cent are over twelve years old. Recently, I travelled in a train with a man who had gone to Sydney to buy an axle to replace the one which had broken in his 1934 model car. Eventually, he had to buy one on the black market, a taxi driver taking him to the place of purchase. He told me that he knew of another man who had to pay £28 for a spare part for which the proper price was £8. When it is realized that 87 per cent. of the cars on the road are so old, we can understand that an. extensive black market exists in spare parts for. replacements. An authoritative survey of the position in Sydney shows that the. black market has become vicious, and that more than double the pegged prices are being asked for recent model cars. Honorable members are familiar with the. technique employed by the black marketeers, because it has been explained in this House before. Even on the black market, a buyer has little hope of. obtaining a reasonably good car unless he has another to trade in, because the black marketeer wants to get a double " rakeoff ", one on the car he sells, and another on the one that is traded in. It is generally known now that there is a schedule of black-market prices just as there is a schedule of official prices authorized by the Prices Commissioner. Responsible dealers have long since given up trading in transfers of this kind. The figures in regard to meat are staggering. Some time ago, I made certain exposures in this House in. regard to meat inspectors, and the Government has now launched prosecutions against some of them. It has been reliably stated that between 50,000 and 100,000tons of meat goes on to the black market each year, much of which is used to feed pets and racing greyhounds. It is estimated that racing greyhounds eat as much as 45,000 tons of meat a year, which represents nearly one-quarter of the quantity of meatlikely to be sent to Great Britain in the present year. Everybody knows that the rationing of meat is a farce. Every housewife knows that she. can get all the meat she wants from the butcher shops, no matter what coupons she may have. The honorable member for Hindmarsh **(Mr. Thompson)** said that; in spite of the ban, more cream was being sold now than before, and he asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** whether some more equitable method of. distributing cream could be arranged. The honorable member for Hindmarsh realizes that in regard to cream, government control is no more effective than in regard to other commodities. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Does the honorable member think that the Government ought to discontinue the control of cream sales ? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The Minister cannot put me off by asking me whether Commonwealth control of meat or creamshould be discontinued. The point is that; although the Government pretends to exercise control over: those commodities it is not:. in fact, doingso. There is an extensive black market, and of what use are controls unless they are effectively policed? Butter and tea can be bought openly almost anywhere without coupons. It was stated in Brisbane that the black market price for butter was £7 for 56 lb., and that the black market price for tea was 5s. per lb. The legitimate prices for the two commodities are, respectively, £4 3s. for 56 lb., and 2s. 4d. per lb. If these statements are correct, it reveals a very sorry state of affairs. So long as the Government maintains control over the sale of commodities, the control provisions should be under continuous parliamentary review. That is why I ask that they should be made the subject of specific legislation. I know it is old-fashioned to insist upon the observance of democratic practices, and that control by regulations administered by bureaucrats is now the order of the day. That was well illustrated recently, when legislation was brought before this House containing no specific provisions except one authorizing the Governor-General to make regulations. In one instance, the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holloway)** said that; the control of patriotic funds was to be made the subject of legislation, instead of regulations its heretofore, but when the legislation was introduced it merely authorized the Governor-General to .make regulations in respect of patriotic funds. In this way, the power of Parliament is being whittled away. The regulations providing .for land sales control have been the subject of continuous criticism for some time, and the regulations themselves have been continuously evaded by the people of Australia. It has been estimated by those in a position to know that between SO per cent, and 90 per cent, of all land sales arc effected on the black market. A personal friend of mine cited an example which is worth repeating. He was trying to buy a block of land at the seaside. He saw the local agent, who showed him a block of land. He asked the local agent the price. The agent replied that it was worth £550. My friend said, "What is the fixed price?" The agent replied, " Have you not done any of this before? " My friend replied that he had not. The agent said, " What you do is to give me £250, for which I shall not give you a receipt. Then we shall make out our contract for the fixed price of £300 and when you sign it, and pay that amount, you will get a receipt for £300." Thus £250 would be paid on the black market. My friend wanted the land, but he was not prepared to pay a black-market price for it. He did not get the land. However, the point which I make is that hundreds of people who do not wish to become criminals are breaking the law because they desire to purchase things which they consider are necessary to their well-being. They know that unless they pay a. black market price for a block of land which they want, they have not any hope of obtaining it. Consequently, there is it continual evasion and a cynical disregard of government control. The sooner the Government abolishes the control of land, sales, the sooner one section of the community will return to a proper acceptance of moral responsibility. I asked a number of real estate agents whether the statement that SO per cent, nr 90 per cent, of land sales were executed on the black market had any foundation. They replied that the percentage was even higher. I said to one of my friends, "Surely you arc not a party to these transactions?" He replied, "Of course not. Reputable men will not, but there is nothing to prevent vendor and prospective purchaser from arranging privately, unknown to the real estate agent, nlm sale of land or a house at a blackmarket price." That was the point which was made by a solicitor to whom I also spoke about this subject. He said, :< We are doing a good deal of convey an ci ug, and we do not lend ourselves to black-market transactions. A man who desires to buy land gets in touch with the vendor. What they do outside my office is not my business. I draw up the contract for the sale at the pegged price." These controls, which are so easy to evade, infect the morals of the people and change them from law-abiding citizens into criminals. Honorable members have rend the findings of the royal commissioner who inquired into the Lush case. The Government took steps to ensure that the terms of reference of the royal commissioner were not sufficiently wide to permit a thorough and revealing investigation. When certain evidence was advanced before the royal commissioner, it was made perfectly clear that it could notbe accepted. M r. SPEAKER.- Order ! The honorable member's remarks are rather wide of the bill. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I am using that only as an illustration of the fact that these illegal transactions are known to the Government. When these illegal transactions are generally known but the Government blinks at thom, and people who are normally law-abiding citizens treat t he regulations with a cynical disregard, I contend that the law is bad and should be amended. It reflects very little credit upon the Government. Unless the Government takes action to enforce its authority to control real estate transactions, the whole authority of the Parliament is likely to be undermined. The Opposition has had cause to question the attitude of the labour party regarding governmental controls. We have revealed that there is in being a plot to establish a supreme economic council to take the place of the Parliament. It seems to me to be rather significant that these matters 'which are designed to bring the Government into contempt, are the very controls which this Government is continuing, but is not policing. The Government still allows people to flout the law, and takes no determined action to prevent it. When we refer to the control of land sales the Government replies that itis indissolubly linked with rent control. As I. have pointed out, that has not been the experience in Canada and South Africa. If we closely examine this matter, we shall find that the statement is utter rubbish. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** himself appeared to recognize the merit of this contention, because, on the 30th July last, he wrote to the Real Estate Institute of Australia in the following terms: - >I desire to inform you that the Government is giving constant attention to the relaxation or abolition of controls which were imposed during the war period It is certainly not the Government's intention to perpetuate the present systemof land sales control. If that be the Government's view, why does it not abolish the control of land sales, which, asI shall prove, has no bearing on rents, hut causes people to buy land or buildings on the black market. Honest people who refuse to buy on the black market are unable to purchase real estate. These regulations place a premium upon dishonesty. The control of rents is one of the matters which can be successfully exercised by the States. This opinion is shared by persons who made it their business to examine this subject minutely. The Federal Real Estate Executive Committee devoted a good deal of attention to these controls, and passed the following resolution recently - >Whilst believing that some form of rent control should be retained, this executive, having obtained the views nf representatives from all States, is of the opinion that, owing to varying conditions existing in the various States, the matter is one whichcan be more effectively dealt with by State control. When we examine this matter, we cannot come to any otherconclusion. The Commonwealth has controlled rents only in certain States, and then without any relation to the price of land or property or the increased price of building. No general date has been adopted for pegging values. In South Australia and Western Australia the State Governments exercise their own controls. Outside those States no uniform method of control exists. In New South Wales, the values were pegged in August, 1939; in Victoria, December, 1940; in Queensland, December, 1940, and in Tasmania, August, 1939. Neither South Australia nor Western Australia adopted any pegged date. I shall also show that there is no uniformity in the methods of arriving at a fair rent, although a common fair rent formula is generally used in a" the States where the regulations apply. Under this formula, the allowances differ in each State according to its peculiar requirements. The depreciation factor is varied considerably, and the maintenance and repair allowance also varies from State to State. The rate of the permitted return differs from State to State. Each State has such divergent problems and characteristics that it was necessary, even during the worst period of World War . II, to control rents under a State unit system, and not on a nationwide basis. That is why we find it so effective within South Australia and Western Australia. Regarding the basis of a fair return, the housing costs vary in all States. For a two bedroom brick -dwelling, the price per square in New South Wales is £144, in Victoria £135, in Queensland £131, in South- Australia, where there is no rent control, £96, and in Western Australia £91. In Tasmania, for a three bedroom house, built of timber, the price per square is £112. Therefore, we see that there is no uniformity in selecting the basis of a fair return. I have already pointed out the difference in the dates of pegging values, and I have set out how the fair rents courts treat the depreciation, and maintenance and repair factors. Now, I have shown how the price per square of a dwelling varies in the States. If a man builds a house in South Australia, the cost per square is lower than in New South Wales. In the circumstances, how can we have any uniformity in regard to rent control? Therefore, rent control can be better exercised within the States themselves. We know that rents for comparable accommodation vary within the States. How can the Government claim that the control of land sales is required in order to check an increase of rents? These arguments which I have advanced regarding the relation between land sales and building costs have a complete relation to fixing a fair rent. All those factors vary from State to State, and make impracticable any control by a centralized Commonwealth authority. Rents are now pegged, and may be continued at any desired level by the use of the existing formula. If the Government were to abolish the control of land sales, it could still continue rent control under the existing formula. It does not follow that because a man buys a block of land and erects a house upon it, the rent paid by a person who is living in a dwelling built in 1934 will be affected. The formula can still be applied. Under the existing regulations rents are pegged at different dates in the various States, and all such dates differ from the date on which land ' values were pegged. For example, the capital value for fair rents in New South Wales on the 31st August, 1939, is not the capital value for land sales on the 10th February, 1942. In addition, rents are fixed which take account of comparable rents existing at the 31st August, 1939. Therefore, we can see how completely at variance rent control is with the control of land sales. But the control of rents will, in the main, control land values because the market value of rentproducing property is based on its incomeearning capacity. Such property value would always remain indirectly controlled, because its income was subject to control. In this regard, I shall quote figures compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician. I had the pleasure of quoting them a few days ago in order to show rent control itself is a factor which is controlling income. I drew attention to the 83 per cent, increase of clothing costs, the 17J per cent, increase of food and grocery costs, and the 26^ per cent, increase of the costs of miscellaneous items between September, 1939, and June, 1947, as compared with the *i* per cent, increase of rents. Those figures were issued by the Commonwealth Statistician. They show that rents have not increased comparably with the costs of commodities. Therefore, a person who draws income from rents is unable to secure a fair return .for his investment because rents have been rigidly pegged whilst the prices of goods and services have been allowed to rise steeply. To summarize, the Government is seeking to continue permanently in peacetime a war-time control, the power to impose such control being rightly vested in the States, and thereby it is endangering our federal system. Furthermore, it cannot enforce this control successfully. The people are openly revolting against it because they consider it to be a bad law, and they show their contempt for it by flouting it. This leads us to examine the Government's motives more closely. In the bill, which proposes an amendment of the Constitution, we see the pattern of the socialized State. The Government is amassing a huge army of public servants. This is a significant fact. I warn the people of Australia that this administrative army is being brought into being in order to police the: socialist State. Its numbers are being increased almost monthly. The official figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician this month disclose that the number of persons in government employment has reached the record level of 569,300 out of a total of 2,306,200 persons employed in Australia. That figure represents approximately 20.3 per cent, of the working population. The growth of this army of public servants under a Government which is seeking to take unto itself still further powers is strikingly significant. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- That figure is the total number of persons employed by all governments. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- That is so. I accept the qualification. However, that fact does not destroy the point of my argument. Although committees have been appointed for the purpose of shearing away superfluous branches of Commonwealth departments, reports continue to show that the Public Service is swelling beyond all reasonable proportions in comparison with the total number of persons employed in outside essential services. All of these things are linked with the Government's desire to maintain controls at all .costs and, in fact, to increase those controls. Having made full use of all powers already provided in the Constitution, the Government now seeks additional powers from the people. That indicates its way of thinking, and I sa.y to the people that the sooner they realize that the Government is rapidly advancing, along the road to socialization the better it will be for them. In seeking to perpetuate controls, it is copying the pattern of socialization that has already been laid down in the Banking Act. {: #debate-20-s1 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr LANG:
Reid .- This bill is based on a legal fiction. It is a lawyer's trick to circumvent the Constitution. The bill is based on a presumption that the war- that ended more than two years ago will last for another- twelve months - that is, until December, 1948. Otherwise, this Government would have no right to continue these powers. The Constitution is being warped. All the major controls covered7 by this bill have to-day not the slightest relation to the naval or military defence of the Commonwealth of Australia. Yet that is the constitutional peg on which the Government hangs this bill! The Government knows that if these controls were challenged, the High Court might declare them to be invalid and unconstitutional. Therefore, this bill is 90 per cent, a legislative bluff I The Government, with its tremendous resources and its unlimited access to the legal talent of Australia, is bluffing the people out of their constitutional rights. It is getting away with the bluff : because no single person is in a position to fight it. But that does not make this bill either morally or constitutionally sound. It only breeds contempt for the constitutional powers. How can any right-thinking man or woman to-day believe that the continuance of land sales control is essential for the military and naval defence of the nation? Are we to believe that Australia would be exposed to the terrible menace of invasion if we were to abandon coupons for tea. towels ? This Parliament was endowed with certain powers under the Constitution. That is of the very essence of the federal system under which it exists. It cannot seize powers like a brigand state. The alternative to our present Constitution is a commonwealth based on the expropriation of powers without any reference to the people. That, of course, has happened in other countries during the last quarter of a century. But, though it has happened in other countries, I say that it is not Australian, not democratic, and not Labour's policy. Under the Constitution as it stands to-day, all these powers are the property of the State governments of Australia. The State governments can legislate for prices control, or they can delegate their power to do so to the Australian Government. All those powers not specifically conferred on the Australian Parliament are the property of the State parliaments. It is not for this Parliament to sneak those powers away, as is being done in this bill, by resorting to the methods of the legal " shyster ". If the States believe that prices control, capital issues control, land sales control, and the other controls covered in this bill are essential for the welfare of their people, then surely they can be trusted to legislate for them. The alternative is for the Commonwealth to obtain power by the appropriate constitutional method. The use of the- power covering the military and naval defence of Australia for these purposes is a subterfuge unworthy of a responsible government and unworthy also of a responsible Parliament. Why is the Government prepared to go to such extreme lengths to retain these controls? lt realizes that its constitutional position is precarious and, for that reason, and that reason only, it proposes to conduct another referendum. That referendum could have been held at any time this year, lt could have been held, and. would have been held, if the Government had a. proper regard for the rights of the people. It was not held because the Government was afraid that it would be rejected, tinder this bill, it will be possible for the Government to thwart the will of the people, whatever the result of the referendum may' be. It can do that until the end of next year, and, even then, it will be possible for a power-drunk bureaucracy to persuade the Government to introduce another transitional measure to go on for another twelve months. Every time a Minister opens his mouth, we hear a new explanation of why the Government needs these powers. One Minister says they are needed to deal with the depression that is just around the corner. Another Minister will explain that they are needed to deal with the prosperity that we have with us. A third Minister tells us the Government must have them to cope with inflation. Yet another Minister will assure us that we must be ready for deflation. If we believe yet another Minister, the price of primary produce is going sky-high, and will continue the trend. One of his colleagues is just as certain that we must face a collapse of wool prices, of wheat prices, and the prices of every other primary commodity. The truth is that the craving for these powers has no real connexion with the economic needs of the country. It is a. lust of power for power's sake. This Government has created a. system. It used to be called a managed economy. Mussolini called it fascism. Stalin calls it communism. It is a State despotism, in which the forms of government are worshipped, and the god-heads are the super-bureaucrats who govern the Government. This system is based on a new doctrine of infallibility of the official mind. It moves with a multi- plicity of regulations. The bureaucrat can do no wrong. If he recommends to a Minister that wheat should be sold to another country for 5s. 9d. a bushel, when every other country is willing to pay £1 a bushel, then it is the Minister who blunders, not, the official. It is the people who pay for the blunder. This codification of our daily lives has resulted in the taxpayer carrying an inverted pyramid of bureaucrats, all clinging to their emergency powers, and all trying to hang on to a war that is already over. When the surrender was negotiated, there was almost a state of panic in Canberra. It was thought that the end of the war would bring an end to the war-time despotism over the lives of the individual. But, these bureaucrats fought desperately hard for their war-won privileges, and their vested interests. Instead of being diminished, the bureaucracy is growing daily. It has entrenched itself in Canberra, it. is attempting to centralize all power, and all controls, in this city of red tape. tn introducing the bill, the Minister provided no valid justification for the continuance of, these controls. They are not, essential to a. war effort in a war that is already won. They have no real connexion with the defence problems of the country. They are not, even achieving their avowed objective. Prices control has resulted only in an aggravation . of shortages, and the establishment of the black market. The cost of living is an ascending spiral, despite the activities of prices control. In 1.939 a.n apple cost a penny; to-day, it, has become a 4d.-n.pp1e. The cherries that were then bought at 4d. per lb. are to-day 2s. per lb. Mothers are paying 4d. and 3d. for oranges for their young children, although they are much inferior to those previously sold at fourteen for ls. Even such staple commodities as bread and milk are dearer, and threatening to become even more expensive. Increased transport charges, sanctioned by the Prices Branch, clothing at twice its pre-war cost, and every item on the breakfast table testify to the failure of prices control. Under the present system, there is no incentive to produce more goods. Even when goods are produced they are, often .stacked in warehouses, awaiting a decision from the Prices Branch, before they can be placed on the market. The result is that the wealthy, who can. afford black market prices, get the goods, while the poor, who cannot afford to go to the black market, go without. The removal of prices control would do away with many of the present impediments to production. The big monopolies nourish under prices control. They squeeze out competitors. Similarly, land sales control is another farce. The cost, of building is more than double that operating in 1939. How can prices of those houses be equitably held down to 1939 levels, when homes being built under present conditions are inferior in -quality to, and cost twice as much as, those built then. Rent control can he implemented by State governments, because the States have the machinery for on-the-spot decisions by local courts. The Commonwealth has no such machinery, but has to rely on the special federal courts. There *is* no justification for the continuance of federal control. All the cost of the elaborate bureaucratic machinery must in the final result he loaded on to the cost of living. There is a dearth of labour in industry, because so much labour has been diverted to the work of the bureaucracy. The maintenance of the bureaucratic army not only means higher taxation, but also imposes additional overhead on industry, owing to the constant necessity for filling in forms and halting the processes of production, while some bureaucrat makes up his mind. Instead of getting on with the job of production, industry has to wait on priorities, and secure official sanctions, before making minor decisions, and go through a tortuous process of observing the highly complex set of regulations. Prices control has become another instrument of taxation in a dual sense. It has added to the burden of general taxation, by calling for the maintenance of an army of inspectors and experts. It has also been used as an instrument of taxation, by imposing on industry a form nf profit control. Instead of encouraging industry to become more efficient, and thereby producing more, prices control has provided a premium on inefficiency, by stipulating profit margins, which must not be exceeded. This helps the inefficient industry, and penalizes the efficient. That was shown in the *Daveney* case. Another flagrant, example of the abuses of this system can Iks seen in the working of the same typo of official mind in the departmental war being waged on Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited. There, an attempt is being made to force an airline, operator to increase the charges for his service, although he maintains he could reduce the cost of air travel to the public, Such action on the part of Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited would be contrary to the spirit of regimentation and totalitarian rule. The Government's only excuse for the continuance of these controls is its own statement that the cost of living increased in the United States, when the Office of Prices Administration Control was lifted. But the truth is that while the Office of Prices Administration Control was operating, thu workers of- America were going without meat and essential goods. When ocntrol by the Office ofc When control by the Office of Price9 Administration Control was lifted, they were able to get meat and the other goods they needed. The shortages in America have disappeared. Production has already caught up with demand. The workers in the United States of America are enjoying a far better standard of living than they ever had. That is the only test that can be applied. The truth, of course, is that the rising wage levels have had to keep pace with the cost of living. In Australia, wage levels have not kept pace with the rising cost of living. At the present time, Australian workers are in a. vicious circle. There is a definite timelag in wage increases behind increased living costs. Until such time as the impediments to production are removed, and there is a reasonable incentive for workers to produce more, by providing them with a better standard of living, it will be impossible to overtake this timelag. The Government's idea of economic justice for the worker is that he should be able to lift himself up by his own boot straps. All these controls are not contributing one iota towards the solution of the real problem of production. They are hindering production. At one time a worker could hope to achieve economic independence. He could start out in his own business. To-day, he is circumvented by regulations and licences. This system is the creation of those who believe in the centralization of all authority, of all thinking, and of all action. It suits the big monopolies, and that is why representatives of those monopolies have been so eager to rush to the assistance of the Government. Examine the list of advisers of the Government in implementing these controls, and there will be found the representatives of every major monopoly in the country. The vote on this bill will be a vote for a continuation, or a vote for the termination, of the system. A vote in favour of the bill is a vote for continued regimentation, a vote for totalitarian rule. A vote against the bill is a vote for Labour principles, for the freedom of the working man and woman, to work out their own economic destiny, and to achieve their own economic independence. A vote against the bill is a vote against foreign economic and political philosophy. It is a vote to bring back into our lives real Australianism, so that this will no longer be a police State, but a country where freedom means more than lip service to shibboleths and platitudes. It is a vote that can make this Australia of ours a country where a man can do his own thinking, and carve out his own destiny, without having to pass through the assembly line of Canberra bureaucracy. {: #debate-20-s2 .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE:
Parramatta .- I am sorry the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** is not in the House at the moment, because what I have to say will be directed chiefly to the right honorable gentleman, especially in answer to some remarks he made last night on the bill then before the House. Mr.Calwell. - I shall take notice of what the honorable member says. {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE: -- I am sure the Minister will do so, not only inadequately, but also in his own vociferous and noisy way. Last year, when we were discussing the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill of that time, I made some observations in criticism of the administration of these regulations, in particular of the regulations governing prices, land sales and rent control, and the fixation of second-hand motor car prices. The effect of what 1 said on that 'occasion was that the administration of these regulations was unscientific and, in -some instances, idiotic. I also pointed out that in many respects their administration was oppressive and had the effect of making lawbreakers out of honest men. I spoke with some experience because, over a period of years, I had, both as counsel for the prosecution and for the defence, had many hundreds of ordinary citizens come before the courts in my presence charged with offences under these regulations. Although in some instances those citizens were obvious rogues, the vast majority of them were people just like every one of us in this chamber, people who had been caught up in the web of these regulations, who either did not realize that they had done wrong, or, being oppressed, as they thought, by the regulations, had taken the law into their own hands. In most instances they were people who had no respect for the law as it had been declared. Therefore, I say that they were plain citizens like ourselves who, in many instances quite unnecessarily, were having the mark of criminality put upon them. That was the drift of the remarks I made last year, and I do not propose to repeat them. I suggested on that occasion, as I did in a few words in passing last night, that prices were unnecessarily fixed, in respect of some commodities, that land prices fixation was wrong, and that in the case of vacant land there seemed to be no justification for the continuance of prices fixation, because there was no scarcity of vacant land. I also passed what I think might be described as a fairly trenchant criticism of the controls over second-hand motor car sales. What I said then still stands. There has been no change for the better since the end of 1946. Indeed, my own observation leads me to suppose that the position is now even worse than it was then. Whatever has to he done with these regulations, whether or not they are tobe approved by this Parliament to operate for a further year, the fact still stands that, unless something drastic is done by the Government to improve their administration, we shall have a still wider degree of lawlessness in the community and, to a still wider extent, will normal citizens have the stamp of criminality unnecessarily put upon them. I am not disposed for several reasons to speak any longer than I can possibly help. I rose principally to make some comments arising out of something the Prime Minister said last night. We are asked to continue these powers for another year. Last night, if I remember aright, the Prime Minister spoke immediately after me. In replying to some comments of mine, and indeed, in endeavouring, as he said, to give the real reason for bringing down the referendum legislation, the right honorable gentleman said 'that there was some doubt about these powers. In a vague and mumbling sort of way he attempted to suggest that the Government was not certain that these powers would last even for another twelve months. He even purported, without quoting the opinion of any lawyer, to say that eminent barristers had thrown doubts on the suggestion that they might not even last for twelve months. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- He did not say that. {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE: -- He did, and for good measure he threw in some comments made by **Mr. Dunstan,** M.L.A., of Victoria, who, as far as I know, is not a lawyer. He went further and, in answer to an interjection by me, said that I should have been aware that there had been a recent decision of the High Court on the matter. The right honorable gentleman was referring to the *Daveney* case by which price control had, he said, been upheld by the High Court by a majority of only one, and that on the casting vote of the Chief Justice, **'Sir John** Latham. I then said to the right honorable gentleman, "Do you suggest that the price-fixing power under the defence power will go within the next twelve months?" The right honorable .gentleman's only answer was another mumble and an alleged quotation from something that **Mr. Dunstan,** a Victorian politician, but to the best of my knowledge not a legal authority, had to say. The way in which the Prime Minister approached this question of the length of time during which the Commonwealth may hope to maintain its price-fixing power under the defence power seems to me to be plain misrepresentation, and I cannot resist the opportunity to reply to his remarks. The suggestion is that, even within twelve months, power to fix prices might be lost because of what some unnamed lawyer has said, and, more particularly, because of what **Mr. Dunstan** has said. The Prime Minister said, " If you look at the recent High Court case, the *Daveney* case, you will see that this power was maintained only on the casting vote of the Chief Justice ". I should like briefly to point out that what was decided in the *Daveney* case was not prices control, but what we compendiously call profit control. That will appear from some words of the Chief Justice himself. The principle of prices control was not challenged in any way in the High Court, and indeed it could not be challenged, because some years before it had been precisely upheld by the High Court. I take leave to read the headnote in the *Daveney* case as reported in C.L.R. 73, at page 237. It reads - >Pursuant to paragraph 8 of Prices Regulation Order No. 2182, a Deputy Prices Commissioner notified a company the maximum prices at which confectionery manufactured by it might be sold. This notification was given after correspondence and interviews, which showed that, since 1939, the company had, as result of economy and greater turnover, increased its Tate of gross profit without increasing its selling prices; that the Deputy Prices Commissioner desired the company to reduce its turnover by 20 per cent, in order to reduce' ite rate of gross profit; and that company was not prepared to do so. The fact is that the company, by its efficient methods, had increased its turnover ; but, since 1938, it had not increased its prices. So the Commonwealth was seeking to control the profits of the company. It wa9 saying, in effect, to the company : " You must not earn so much money; we do not say that you are overcharging the public, hut you must not earn as much as you did before. You must reduce your turnover by 20 per cent; you must reduce your production by 20 per cent." That was a staggering proposition. One would have thought that at a time such as the present, when Australia was under necessity to increase its production to the highest possible point, such advice would not have been given. The company, showing considerable spirit, challenged the order of the Prices Commissioner, and the matter went to the High Court. Three of the six judges on the bench held that the case was outside the ambit of the prices control regulations, and three other judges, including the Chief Justice, held that the case came within the ambit of the prices control regulations, though I think it is fair to say that they had their own ideas on the economics of the situation. The bench was three for, and three against. In such circumstances, the judgment follows the judgment of the Chief Justice, and the appeal was accordingly dismissed. The point was, however, that the general power of the Commonwealth to fix prices was not challenged in that case. No reference was made to the power. The issue discussed was whether there was power to control profits. In order to make the point perfectly clear, I direct attention to the following passage from the judgment of the Chief Justice, which appears at page 247 of the volume from which I have just quoted - >Price-fixinghas been upheld by this court as a legitimate form of federal action under the defence power because it is directed to protecting purchasers in time of war from being overcharged by producers and to preventing profiteering and inflation. The Chief Justice then gave an authority for the proposition by referring to the case *Victorian Chamber of Manufac- tures* v. *the Commonwealth of Australia.* which is reported in67C.L.R.1943, a t page 335. It was in order to make this point clear that I rose to participate in the debate. The Prime Minister's reference to the judgment, following the casting vote of the Chief Justice, and to that being the straw that tipped the scale in favour of the exercise of the prices control power by the Commonwealth, was not accurate. The judgment did not turn upon the price-fixing power of the Commonwealth at all. When the Prime Minister attempted to draw that red herring across the trail he was guilty of shabby misrepresentation. {: #debate-20-s3 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration · Melbourne · ALP -- The honorable member for Parramatta **(Mr. Beale)** takes himself very seriously when he expresses a regret that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** was not present in the chamber to hear his mournful dirge on this bill. The Prime Minister said what he had to say last night. He is engaged on >'ery important work outside of the chamber. It is not in every parliament that a Prime Minister spends as much time in the House as the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth spends in this House. The Prime Minister spends all the time he can in the House, but he always has many other duties to perform; therefore, he must be absent at times. It is asking a very great deal of the Prime Minister that he should waste his valuable time listening to the pompous, didactic and irritating gentleman who takes every opportunity that presents itself to him to speak on any matter involving questions of law. When the honorable gentleman rises to speak he empties the House. What he had to say last year on the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill, which was then before the House, was taken into consideration by theGovernment, but the Government held the view that its own legal advisers were better able to advise it than is the honorable member for Parramatta. The Government has no need to seek the assistance of any briefless barrister in the Liberal party who desires to tell it what it should do in respect of price-fixing or any other matter. The Government is satisfied that the bill which it has brought clown is for the benefit of the people of Australia. It also believes that the bill will withstand any challenge that may be made against it. It wouldbe a bad thing for Australia if this legislation were successfully challenged. The Government has good reason for believing that, if the High Court should invalidate this legislation by declaring it *ultra vires* the Constitution, the State governments would not do anything effective to protect the people of Australia. In his speech last night the Prime Minister referred to opinions expressed by **Mr. Dunstan** and **Mr. McDonald,** two Victorian parliamentarians, and his remarks were apposite. I can only say that I would like to hear **Mr. Dunstan** deal with the arguments of the honorable member for Parramatta. What he would say on the subject in five minutes would be nobody's business. The honorable member for Parramatta has stated that what he said in 1946 still stands. That may be so, but there is an inference behind what the honorable gentleman has said thai, is not healthy. He has said that the people of Australia are not obeying the laws made by this Parliament. The honorable gentleman propounded some strange doctrine to the effect that the Government should not impose laws, right or wrong, good or bad, if the people will not. obey thom. He has said that the Australian Parliament should not pass even good laws if the people are determined not to respect them. That is the strangest doctrine that I have ever heard, even if it, is couched in what the honorable member for Parramatta says is recognized as a. principle of jurisprudence. The honorable gentleman should himself do something t;o clean up the mess which he indicates exists amongst the legal fraternity of Australia. He said that the people are simply not obeying the laws, and obviously some lawyers are giving bad advice on obeying the laws. If that is so. it. is the duty of members of the legal profession to do something definite in the matter. They should advise people not to break the laws, but to respect them. Does the honorable member for Parramatta himself encourage people to break the law, or to respect it? He would lead us to believe that he speaks authoritatively regarding the amount of law breaking that is going on. He says that otherwise respectable people are buying second-hand motor cars in disobedience of the law, and becoming criminals thereby, and that they could be saved from this happening if only the Government would let racketeers and profiteers in second-hand goods have their own way. I suspect that the honorable member himself has been doing something in this matter, and perhaps advising people not to olley the law by using various devices which he hopes will keep them out of the reach of the law. The honorable gentleman has said too much or too little. It is time that he came out into the open and. spoke precisely about the crooked deals which he says have been made in motor cars, and in violation of price-fixing. If the inference from what he has said is true it would appear that a great majority of legal practitioners in Australia are aiding and abetting evasions of the law. The honorable gentleman docs not deny what I am saying; in fact his silence is rather significant. What he is asking the Government to do is to open the Hood gates to let the profiteers and racketeers carry on their operations within the law. He is much too unctuous and sanctimonious. We have no use for speeches made in this humbugging fashion. The next time the honorable gentleman rises to address the House, whether it be when another Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill is under consideration in twelve months' or six months' time, or on some earlier occasion, let him tell the truth as he knows it, and not indulge in a series of insinuations, innuendoes and inferences, or other devious forms of speech, let him be specific and explicit in his expressions. The honorable gentleman referred to the *Daveney* case. I have some information on that subject which I think it desirable to submit to honorable members. It is a statement that was made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Sena to Courtice), in the Senate on the 1.7th October last. The Minister said - >Information has been received that thi* Privy Council has decided not to grant leave to appeal in the cafe known ari the *Minn* *Dareney* case. *Sow* that thu Privy Council has made its decision and the case is no longer *nub* *judice,* 1 wish to make a statement in answer to criticisms that have been levelled against the Prices Commissioner, and in answer to certain allegations regarding price control policy. > >Miss Daveney Proprietary Limited is a company engaged in the manufacture of confectionery. A review of the company's trading operations in .1045 showed substantial increases in profits resulting from many factors including increased turnover, the elimination of unprofitable lines, lower packing costs and the operation of the Government's price stabilization plan. The Prices Commissioner made an order requiring the company to reduce prices. The company did not do so and it was prosecuted and fined. The company appealed to the High Court and the appeal was disallowed. Leave to appeal to the Privy Council has now been refused. > >There has been an endeavour to make political capital out of certain allegations that' wore made when the case was before the Australian courts. The most important of these was an allegation that a Prices Branch official hail told a representative of the company that because profits were high it should reduce its turnover. 'Che records of the Prices Branch disclose that no such statement was ever made by a prices official. Unfortunately, the allegation was not repudiated when it was first made, and as the question whether a prices official did or did not say audi a. thing was claimed by the prosecution to be irrevelant and inadmissible evidence was not called to refute it. The allegation is also mentioned in the High Court judgment; it was apparently accepted by the High Court as a fact, probably for the reason that it had not been denied. These circumstances gave rise to a certain amount of criticism of the Prices Commissioner and the Prices Branch because it has been generally accepted that the allegation was a statement of fact. A full report of discussions with the company's officials is on record in the Prices Branch and the officers concerned have- given a flat denial to the allegation that the company was asked to reduce turnover in order to get its profits down. The company was required to reduce prices for the reasons I have already given. The lower prices gave the company ample opportunity to earn reasonable profits. The policy followed by the Prices Commissioner in this case was the policy that had been adopted in thousands of cases since the inception of price control, lt introduced no new features. The honorable member for Parramatta should take notice of that comment. The statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs concludes - >The judgment of the High Court was a decision in favour of the Prices Commissioner, and declared that his action in taking profits into consideration when fixing prices was valid. The decision of the Privy Council refusing leave lo appeal leaves the judgment of the High Court as the final judicial decision on the validity of the Prices Commissioner's action. *I* urge that this legislation be given a speedy passage. It is essential for the protection of the people, of everybody engaged in industry, of the manufacturer, the worker, the person who supplies the raw material to the manufacturer, the man who sells wholesale, as well as the man who sells retail, and, in particular, for the protection of the primary producer. All these persons need the protection, which the legislation will provide. Any breaking, down of prices control at this stage could land Australia in a position similar to that of France and the United States of America to-day. Prices control has been the salvation of Australia. It has given us what is generally regarded as one of the soundest economies in the world. No one has even attempted to dispute the statement of the Prime Minister- to that effect. It is proved by the statistics of the United Nations as well as by those of the. International Labour Organization. "We have been particularly fortunate in being able tn keep the purchasing power of the people at something near what it was at the outbreak of the war. At least, we have not had the experience of prices going through the roof, and causing great suffering among the people. This bill ought to be passed without question. The honorable member for Parramatta would do well to avoid legal arguments, and come down to the facts. {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr Beale: -- I said that the Prime Minister had misrepresented the facts. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- The Prime Minister has never misrepresented any facts. His reputation is that of a man of sincerity and honesty, who would not mislead anybody. Apparently, the honorable member for Parramatta cannot read his own law books, and the opinions of the judges. Before he came into the Parliament, this Government gave him a lot of briefs to argue prices cases on its behalf in the courts. There are some who think that we gave him too many such cases, and, for my part, after listening to the honorable member in this House, I am not surprised that he lost more cases than he won. Now, he is getting his own party into trouble. I was under the impression that the bill had received the benediction of the Opposition, which did not intend to oppose it. In the circumstances, we did not expect the acrid and acrimonious criticism which the honorable member has directed against the bill. I repeat that the Prime Minister has never misrepresented anybody. If the honorable member for Parramatta aspires to be Prime Minister, I advise him to model his conduct on that of the right honorable member for Macquarie **(Mr. Chifley).** {: #debate-20-s4 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT:
Fawkner .- The Minister for Information **(Mr. Calwell)** said he understood that the bill had received the benediction of the Opposition. That is a euphemistic way of expressing the attitude of the Opposition. It is true that the Opposition does not propose to oppose the bill by vote. We accept, the situation with regret and reluctance; but, seeing that the Government has allowed things to drift on for so long in regard to controls, many of which we- believe to be unnecessary and obstructive, it would obviously be unwise to make a sudden departure, which would have a serious effect on Australia's economy. Because the Government is in that situation, we say to it : " We will give you another twelve months' breathing space, but we expect you to do with a great deal more celerity than you have so fax evinced, what we expected you to do during the last twelve months, when you brought similar legislation before the Parliament ". At that time, -the AttorneyGeneral **(Dr. Evatt),** who was in charge of the legislation, told us that the hill was necessary to provide for an orderly transition from the conditions of war to those of peace. We gave him twelve months so that the Government might gradually wind up National Security controls, but we now find thai the most important of those controls are being continued with all their rigidity and severity, and, in result, with, an even greater obstructive effect than previously. We pointed out, when the previous bill was before the House, that it was impossible to get from the people in time of peace the same ready acceptance of a centralized system of control as in time of war. In peace-time, the people demand a restoration of the opportunities and freedoms and rights which they enjoyed before the war. The people placed those things in pawn temporarily, in order to provide for the defence of the country, but now that the emergency has passed, they expect, as one of the rewards of victory, and as compensation for the sacrifices they have made, the restoration of their rights and freedoms. It is all very well for the Minister to attempt to lecture the honorable member for Parramatta **(Mr. Beale),** and to say that, apparently, he has been consorting with law-breakers, and conniving at their, wickedness. It is but humbug for any. member of the Government, or any Government supporter, to deny the existence of black markets, or to pretend ignorance of them. He would need to be blind, deaf and dumb not to be aware that there is widespread evasion of control provisions, as well as direct contravention of them. Such a situation ls bad, not only for the economy of the country; but also for the individual members of the community. When we have legislation of this kind before us, we should ask to what extent it is necessary, and to what extent it can be improved upon, at least as regards the administration of the controls, which it embodies. It is necessary to remind ourselves at this stage of the original objective of the control organization which was set up. The country was at war. We were confronted with the task of diverting as rapidly as possible our resources in man-power and materials, which had formerly been employed in satisfying consumer needs, to the production of materials and services for the prosecution of the war. In pursuance of that end, controls of various kinds were clamped down. That situation was accepted in time of war, but surely our objective in time of peace should be just the reverse. In time of war, controls are applied in order to divert materials and man-power to the needs of war. Artificial restrictions are imposed on competition amongst producers in order to obtain from them the maximum production. In peace, however, our problem is very different. We need to increase competition, and to release resources in order to satisfy the demands of private citizens. We need to make labour available in order to satisfy our domestic requirements, and in order to build up export markets. Therefore, instead of keeping tied up tens of thousands or, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of persons, in the administration and policing of controls, we should be releasing them so that the people might have the products which they need.' If the Government had made a genuine attempt during, the last twelve months to attain these objectives, we would have commended it. We would have accepted the situation, and said, "You have gone so far. You did your best, and we will give you time to finish the job." But the Government has made no such attempt, and I believe it has not done so because it does not desire the restoration of the kind of economy which existed before the war. It has mixed up the objective which the Attorney-General said the Government had set before itself twelve months ago, with its socialistic objective which calls for the indefinite continuation of the control system, not only of prices and capital issues and profit, but also, as events in Great Britain have- shown, of man-power; involving, in the last resort, the conscription of labour for the purposes of. government. The Prime Minister said only yesterday, in answer- to a questionby me about its banking policy, that the Government was now clamping clown upon advances by banks for certain developmental purposes - a. degree of control unknown to us before the war. It envisages the permanent regulation of our economy by the Government. A policy of that kind enforced in time of peace will defeat the objectives which we should set before ourselves. It will restrict rather than encourage production. That statement is not merely an expression of opinion,but is based upon statistics quoted by the Leader of the Australian Country party **(Mr. Fadden)** when the budget was before the House; statistics which have not been denied. He showed that there has been a serious decline in the production of most of our basic commodities, despite the fact that technical methods were improved during the war, and despite the fact that more than 500,000 men and women, at the most active and most useful period of their lives, had returned to industry from the services. In spite of this, shortages continue, and many manufacturers are finding that shortages are more acute than ever, so faras their own manufacturing processes are concerned. There may be brighter phases of the story; if so, let the Government reveal them, but the experience of honorable members on this side of the chamber confirms the assertion that shortages are continuing. There is no sign of an early improvement. On the contrary, it appears that the position will become worse. I turn now to some of the details of the controls themselves. Whatever justification there may be for continuing some sort of control, I believe that it can be shown that practically every one of the controls which it is now proposed to continue is hindering and obstructing production. Our objective should be to achieve a level of production which would prevent the inflation of the currency. Inflation is prevented not by prices control alone. The best way in which to meet this inflationary situation is to produce the goods which will absorb the surplus purchasing power of the people. I shall examine each of these controls in turn. During the debate on the Constitution Alteration (Prices and Rents) Bill dur ing the last fewdays, we have heard a good deal about prices control. While I shall not dwell on that subject now, it is undeniable that the continuation of prices control in respect of items which are freely available and in a competitive field has the effect of keeping prices up. Let: us consider the homely example of fruit and vegetables. The housewife has developed the psychology that when the maximum price is fixed, the supplier, in practice, regards it also as the minimum price. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The prices of very few lines of fruit and vegetables are controlled to-day. The honorable member is putting up a shadow, and having a smack at it. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- I do not claim to be an expert in these matters. I am advancing illustrations which have come to my notice. Ifmy remarks are inaccurate in any aspect, I shall accept correction. Prices control did apply to a wide field of fruit, vegetables, meat and. other foods. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Yes, to meat, but not now to fruit and vegetables. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- Anyway, the principle still holds, because it was undoubtedly true in respect of fruit a,nd vegetables during the period in which prices control operated, that the maximum price, when fixed, immediately tended to become the minimum price as well; and the housewife, knowing that the Government had fixed the price, was prepared to pay it. Then again we have the psychology of scarcity. The moment people believe that some goods are scarce, everybody wants to huy them, and so the price is forced up. The best answer to that situation is not merely prices control itself, but an encouragement of production which will defeat the scarcity. The Minister informed us that many items of food are no longer subject to prices control. For nearly three years, the responsible department has been endeavouring to bring out a. consolidated price list in respect of grocery items. The following passage appeared in the issue of the *Grocery and Storekeeping News,* of the 7th October last : - >The official list of maximum retail prices which may be charged by Victorian grocers was not available when this issue closed, although it has been in course of preparation since 1044.. . . . The New South Wales list, covering about 8,000 lines, showed various according to distance from Sydney. The order covered 80 pages in the *Commonwealth* *Gazette* and gives retailers some idea of the mass of figures they will have to wade through when the "local list eventually comes to light. Movements of prices in the grocery trade are so rapid in these times that it is impossible for the department to bring out. an accurate list from day to day. During the last few weeks, two new factors have been introduced. The first is the 4.0-hour week, which will take effect from the 1st January, 194S, and the second is an increase of 12-i- per cent, in the price of sugar. These will affect many of the 8,000 items referred to in the price-list, and the prices of such items will have to be adjusted. This occurs in a field where there is considerable competition. To show how unnecessarily detailed pricefixing can become, I cite an instance quoted in the *Grocery and* *Storekeeping News* issued on the 7th June last. Itrefers to the fixing of prices to be charged for whole pepper and ground pepper. .Although it is only a matter of a few shillings and pence, the prices fixed by the department run into four places of decimals. For whole pepper the price i? 2s. 11.5625d. per IK. and for ground pepper 3s. 0.8125d per lb. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Those are wholesale prices. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- Yes, but this iuformatio.ii is to bo supplied to grocers who purchase 7-lb., 14-lb., or 2S-lb. lots of pepper, and the prices aru worked out, to four places of decimals. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The honorable member will probably find that there are some qualifications in the prices order regarding the calculation of the decimals. It might not appear in the publication from which he is quoting, but it, will appear in the order. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- -This is the information given by the wholesaler to the trade, and appears in the trade journal. In tin lots, the price is in pence and half-pence. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I knew that there was a " catch " in it somewhere. The honor-- able member did not propose to explain it, until I interrogated him. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- If the Minister desires members of the Opposition to quote all the details that they consider they should bring to his notice, I shall bc happy to do so, provided the Government allows me sufficient time. I am picking out illustrations which, to my mind, are evidence of anomalies. I do not say that every fixed price is anomalous, but I do consider that price-fixing has become unnecessarily rigid and detailed and that, in respect of wide fields of goods, competition is now sufficiently strong to enable the restrictions to be removed. I. shall cite another anomaly. This is in relation to used motor vehicles. A newspaper, referring to a recent case where motor cars which had been wrecked, were offered for sale at the pegged price applicable to motor vehicles in good condition, published the following headlines : - " Wreck at same legal price as good car ". The article stated that, "There is no difference in the pegged price of wrecked cars and cars of the same make in good condition ". Does the Minister seriously suggest that, the existing price-fixing arrangement in respect of second-hand motor vehicles is satisfactory? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I do. It is a substantial advantage to a vast number of honest people. Whilst it has some disadvantages, they are more than outweighed by the advantages. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- I cite three instances, namely, a motor car which has been completely wrecked in an accident, a motor ear of the same make in which a new engine has-been installed, and a motor car which, at least, has four wheels, and an engine, and is in running order. Under the present arrangement, the prices of these three motor vehicles are pegged at exactly the same figure. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- That is not so. An owner may apply to the Prices Commissioner for the right to add to the pegged price, expenditure incurred on a motor vehicle. The honorable member waves that provision airily aside. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- The Munster claims to be a practical man. He stated that the owner of a motor vehicle can apply to the Prices Commissioner for approval to increase the price of his car. I ask : In practice, how many people will go through all the red tape, circumlocution and delay which would be involved in making the application? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- A man who has a bona fide claim will do so, because he "will be able to sell his car at an increased price. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- If that is the Minister's view, I shall say no more. I do not desire to elaborate the point any further, but I believe that there is sufficient common sense left in this Parliament for honorable members to realize just how fantastic that claim is. A few days ago, I heard about a motor car which had been wrecked and which was insured for £200. The owner submitted a claim for £200 to the insurance company. In reply, the insurance company pointed out that the pegged price of the vehicle was less than £200, but it was prepared to pay him £200 and take possession of the wreck. After considering this proposition, the owner obtained an estimate of the cost of repairing the vehicle. Eventually, he decided that he would not claim the £200 from the insurance company, because he knew that if he expended £150 on the vehicle, he could sell it for approximately £450 or £500 and thus show a substantial profit over the amount that the insurance company was prepared to pay to him. When situations of this kind arise, it is useless to condemn the Australian people as a whole as being lawbreakers, crooks and criminals. They will not submit indefinitely to a condition of affairs which seems to them to be absolutely unjust, and so contrary to common sense that they cannot respect the Government or the administration which enforces it. The point which I set out to make earlier is that the operation of prices control in these matters has the effect of involving some people in transactions which are contrary to the law, but in respect of scores of other people who are not prepared to break the law, it " freezes " that particular article for the time being. There are many motor vehicles which should be in use. If they were, they would assist to relieve the shortage of transport. However, the owners consider that, without breaking the law, they would not get for the vehicles a price which they regard as fair. When we consider transactions in land, the position is even more serious. I tell the Minister that there are thousands of properties in Australia which would be placed on the market if the owners, who are determined not to break the law, -believed they could get what they regarded under present economic conditions as a fair price, or what the community generally would regard as a fair price. It is futile for the Minister to enforce the prices which ruled in 1942. At present, there is the anomalous situation of rents being fixed on the basis of 1940 levels, and the values of properties being fixed on 1942 levels. Many elderly couples occupy large houses. Their children have married, and live elsewhere. Those elderly couples would be willing to live in flats or maisonettes and make available their large homes to accommodate many people. But if they sell their properties, they must accept the values ruling in 1942. If they desire to build smaller houses, they must pay present-day costs. As a result of that, the property is frozen. I have been informed by representatives of estate agencies and the property owners' association, who are able to speak with -some authority .on this matter; that there are scores, if not thousands, of properties throughout Australia which would be placed on the market if the owners knew that they could sell or exchange them on a fair basis. Under rent control, a property owner is restricted to a net return of "5 per .cent. Some honorable members may think that this is a fair return from an investment, but if we are to encourage the building of houses for letting, a business which provided a great deal of the housing accommodation .for the people prior to the war, we must offer better inducements than are now offered to people who are prepared to take the risks associated with building and the administrative inconveniences and irritations associated with the letting of properties. Compare the position of a person deriving income from rents with that of a person who derives income from a mortgage. The Government allows the mortgagee to charge a rate of interest of 4J per cent. He does not take the same risk as does the home builder. Neither does he have the same administrative irritations and the inconvenience of having to deal regularly with tenants, or any of the unexpected expenditures which are demanded from time to time for 'the 'maintenance of 'rented properties. 'Nevertheless, the return from his investment is almost as great as that of the -person who has invested his money in property for rental. The effect of all this is to damp down, rather than encourage, the production of homes. The best way to overcome the effect of shortages of goods is to increase production, but various controls militate against increased production. Any honorable member who has studied the subsidy arrangements which operate under the administration of this Government will readily appreciate how they have a restrictive effect on production. I shall try to explain the situation as crisply as I can. In order to maintain control over the prices of goods which are imported as components "for articles which are manufactured in Australia, the Government has arranged subsidy payments to the importers. It fixes prices for manufactured goods on the assumption that each imported component will cost a certain amount. If, in the final result, the manufacturer is able to show that the component costs considerably more than was estimated, the question of subsidy arises. One would expect the Government to pay the manufacturer, by way of subsidy, the difference between the estimated price of the component 'and its actual" price. But that is not what happens. The Government attempts to impose a form of profit control. It takes the stand that, if the manufacturer earns more than a certain percentage of profit on his entire manufacturing operations, not on the manufacture of the particular commodity concerned, his subsidy must be reduced accordingly. In those circumstances, it is impossible for any manufacturer to assess his future position with any degree of accuracy. In the present unsettled state of world trade he must place orders months, perhaps a year or more, in advance. He does so without knowing what subsidy will be paid to him in respect of the articles when they are finally imported. Undoubtedly this is having a restrictive effect on production. I have been assured of this by manufacturers who have placed details of their business operations before members of the Opposition. I quote from a statement made by one of these men, who refers to what he. describes as a system of selective fixation of prices by the Prices Branch. He declared - >Manufacturers now select their lines of manufacture according to profit margins allowed, and the risk entailed to production of new lines. Finns that normally produce a wide range of lines now make a selective choice according to the prices approved and not, as they would normally, in accordance with consumers' demand. When the approved price is not acceptable, even though there is an intense demand for the article, production is curtailed. As illustrations, he referred to woollen socks and the smallest sizes of children's shoes. Referring to the subsidy system, he. stated - >Exporters are handicapped by -the complexities involved in the subsidy system. Goods for export, which have ingredients that are subsidized to keep down the price for home consumption, arc sold subject to rebate to the Commonwealth of the extra amount which would enter into the cost if subsidies were not paid. Adjustments of this kind are confusing to the manufacturer, the exporter and the overseas merchant. Quotations are all subject to review. In cases of this kind, the Government would be wise to allow firms to proceed on the basis of the payment of full subsidy. .Then, if higher profits were made - this would not be so in all instances - the Government could levy high rates of tax. I point out that a firm, may .show a high profit on its turnover of a certain article but nevertheless sustain .a financial loss over its whole field of operations. The system I suggest would not penalize such companies as the .present system does. If these controls are to continue to operate for the period of twelve months proposed in the bill, and particularly if they are to continue for tie very much longer period that the carrying of the referendum would imply, there must be an overhaul of the existing administrative arrangements. In short, controls should be removed from goods which are again available under ordinary competitive conditions. If subsidies are paid, they should be paid irrespective of the result of a company's trading operations in respect of all lines of goods in which it deals. Calculation of subsidy should be based on the particular transaction or series of transactions involved. Then, traders would know what they were doing. The importer, tire exporter, and iiic consumer would know what to expect. The Government should adopt a more realistic attitude in respect of land sales and motor car sales, and recognize that iiic prices which it insists upon at present lo not represent in reality the valuation of to-day as represented either by market prices or by a fair assessment of the replacement value of the commodities concerned. A great deal of dissatisfaction would be prevented if the Government would agree to do as I suggest. It need be under no illusions on that score. There is. widespread dissatisfaction in Australia, and it is not confined to those who seek to make some profit from their manufacturing and trading operations. It is felt also by consumers, who believe that the effect of prices control in some instances has been merely to keep prices at a high level which would not be maintained if the Government encouraged the greater production of goods that can be achieved by industry. Proof of the truth of my statements lies in the very doubt which exists regarding the outcome of the proposed referendum. One would imagine that, if controls had been exercised wisely and had had beneficial results, an overwhelming majority of the people would gladly give to the Government the power which it requests. _ However, even supporters of this Government predict that the referendum will be lost, or at any rate they admit a grave doubt as to whether or not it will be successful. This fear of defeat exists only because they know that the public is dissatisfied with the administration of economic controls. I hope that the anomalies which have been brought to the notice of the Government during this debate by honorable members on both sides of the House will be removed so that a smoother operation of controls will result during the coming year. {: #debate-20-s5 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- From the general line of debate pursued by honorable members opposite, it appears that their main attacks have been directed not so much against the transitional powers as applied to factors other than prices control as against prices control itself. The honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison)** referred to factors other than prices control in order to make a veiled attack on the continuation of the rationing of meat, butter, cream, and tea. Is it true, then, that the Opposition wishes the Government to discontinue the rationing of these foods and abandon the aid to Britain which tin's control makes possible? I ask the honorable member for Wentworth and his colleagues to answer that question. Not long ago, honorable members opposite were clamorous in their demands that more should be done by Australia to help the people of Great Britain. It is undeniable that, apart from maintaining control of the local consumption of butter - a control which has been honorably observed in the main by grocers, butter factories and primary producers - there is no satisfactory way of assuring supplies of that commodity to the people of Great Britain. That is true also of meat and cream. It is true that there have been some leakages in the meat and cream rationing schemes. However, that fact does not justify the discontinuance of rationing and a consequent diminution of the quantities of foodstuffs shipped by Australia to the United Kingdom. The honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Holt)** concentrated most of his criticism of this bill on prices control. Like the honorable member for Wentworth, he had a great deal to say about the application of .prices control to used motor cars. Everybody knows that no law is fully observed in peace-time by the community at large. For instance, there are flagrant contraventions of the liquor licensing laws. Does anybody suggest that, because of such contraventions, there should not be any control of the manufacture and distribution of alcoholic liquors? There are flagrant abuses of the law governing the production and distribution of narcotics. Does any responsible member of this House suggest that, because of failure to secure 100 per cent, observance of that law, it should be abandoned? Every law that has ever been enacted has been contravened at some time. Contraventions of prices regulations are used by honorable members opposite as a reason for asking that the controls be lifted, but the controls arcprotecting millions of people in this country. The black market in secondhand motor vehicles is the most frequent example cited by honorable 'members in support of their contention that prices control is ineffective. It is quite truethat there is a measure of black marketing, but it is also true that the control of the prices of second-hand cars is largely effective in protecting the people from flagrant and. disgraceful exploitation. Mr.McBride. - Nonsense ! {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- The honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. McBride)** says that that is nonsense, but the real story about the second-hand car market is that few good second-hand cars are available for sale because the owners obviously have every reason to retain them. The main sources of good second-hand cars are those made available by men leaving the country, bymen who have bought a new car, and by deceased estates. In all three cases, the car is likely to be sold to a. friend of the previous owner at the pegged price.That is as true a statementas was ever tittered. Most honorable members know of relatives, friends and acquaintances who, because they have been lucky enough to buy a. new car, and as honorable, decent men, have sold their old cars to people within their own circles at the pegged prices. I know many people who have sold second-hand cars to relatives, friends or acquaintances at the pegged price, and who would have had no hesitation in asking for a higher price were it not for the fact that prices are pegged. The honorable member for Wakefield knows that that is true. In addition, there is the large volume of cars sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. There is evidence that a. large proportion of the worthwhile second-hand ears is sold at the pegged price. The cars sold by certain unscrupulous dealers at excessive prices are mostly worthless worn-out cars sold to a client with more money than sense who enters into collusion with the dealer to defeat, the Prices Branch. Usually, be soon learns his error and resells the car to some other dealer at the best price he can get, usually not a good one, and the same old wreck re-appears in the black market as soon as another victim can be found. It is not generally recognized that the Prices Commissioner has two distinct functions - the determination of maximum prices and their enforcement. The fixation of maximum prices is the more important. The commissioner has prepared a schedule of prices for all makes of second-hand vehicles of various ages, and he has said to the purchasing public. " These cars are worth this much money and no more". The prices that he ha.; fixed are soundlybased and are accepted by the trade as fair in relation to either the original value of the used car or the price paid to-day for a new car of the same make. In other words, the price fixed for a 1937 car of any make is not out of line with what the value of a 1947 car purchased at to-day's prices will he in ten years' time. He has fulfilled this part of his function, and he has told the public the proper prices for second-hand cars when their age is allowed for. If a member of the public with this knowledge is prepared to offer a black marketeer a higher price, he is as guilty as is a man who sells the car. He does not deserve protection. The second function of the Prices Commissioner is to police the prices he has fixed. Because of collusion between buyers and sellers, this has become a difficult task in the ease of second-hand motorcars. Nevertheless, black marketeers have not escaped penalty. From the 1st January, 1947, to the30thSeptember, 1947, there were 121 convictions in Australia for sales of second-hand motor cars at. excessive prices and fines and costs totalling *£9,565* were imposed, and one trader was sentenced to imprisonment for three months. The rual conclusion to he drawn from the existence of a. black market in secondhand cars it not to pretend that it is typical of all commodities or to assert that the solution is to remove control and legalize blackmarket prices. That would only mean that those who are now robbed illegally would be robbed legally, while those who to-day can get a second-hand car at a reasonable price would also have to pay exorbitant prices. The real significance of the black market in secondhand ears is that it gives a pointer to the sort of prices which would have to be paid for all commodities in short supply if prices control were removed. The honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Holt)** alleged that owners of secondhand cars, on which they had spent substantial sums of money for repairs or reconditioning, were held to the pegged price, but the facts are otherwise. As a member of the Parliament, he ought to be familiar with the fact that such a person can apply to the Prices Commissioner for permission to sell at above the fixed price.. All that he has to do is to demonstrate what he has spent on the car in order to put it into a special condition mechanically. That completely explodes the honorable members allegation. He is a champion in making statements of that type. He also referred to the price of whole pepper having been fixed at 2s. 11.5625d. per lb. When I asked him to tell the full story, he admitted that the retailers had no difficulty in working out the price to the nearest halfpenny. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- I did not. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- The honorable member admitted that the regulations enable retail grocers to easily work out the price they may charge for pepper: The honorable members remarks were typical of the misrepresentations indulged in about prices control. We constantly hear about the impossibility of policing prices, and we are told that the system is breaking down. But what are the facts? The protection of the consumers is not in respect of " tiddley winking " things, but in respect of basic commodities. The great value of prices control lies in the fixing of prices of steel, galvanized iron, wire, superphosphate, and all sorts of materials that are produced by big manufacturers. They cannot evade prices control, and therefore people are protected to a degree that was unknown between the end of World War I. and the outbreak of World War II. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- In that period Australia produced the cheapest steel in the world. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- In 1924, I, as a soldier- settler, paid 35s. a coil for No. 8 galvanized wire. I can prove that. *Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.* {: .page-start } page 3116 {:#debate-21} ### DISTINGUISHED VISITOR {: #debate-21-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- I desire to inform the House that the. Right Reverend **Dr. E.** S. Woods, Bishop of Lichfield, a member of the. House of Lords, is within the precincts of the chamber. With the concurrence of honorable mem bers, I shall invite him to take a seat on the floor of the House beside the Speaker's chair. Honorable Members. - Hear, hear ! **Dr. Woods** *thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly.* {: .page-start } page 3116 {:#debate-22} ### DEFENCE (TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS) BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-22-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed. {: #subdebate-22-0-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
ALP -- Following the end of World War I. and until the outbreak of World War II. no protection had been given to the primary producers of this country against wholesalers and retailers who desired to extract maximum prices for the primary producers' requirements. I make bold to say that had it not been for the fact that this Government is now in office there would not now have been prices control to-day and the people would not have been protected against avaricious members of the community. The retention of controls over the great basic commodities which the people so greatly need is imperative. In the wider sense, these commodities are bricks and timber and, in respect of primary producers, artificial fertilizers, fencing wire, wire netting, and ironmongery supplies. Because these commodities are marketed by reputable people, both wholesalers and retailers, there is no real facility for black marketing and racketeering. It is true that in spite of prices control some facilities exist in the community for the operation of black marketing and racketeering, particularly in connexion with the marketing of liquor, tobacco and what may be termed luxury goods. Prices control of the great basic products, however, confers a greater benefit on the community at large. Reputable manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are very jealous of their reputations ; but there are others in the community who are only too anxious to engage in black marketing and racketeering when the opportunity' is- presented. Honorable members opposite, who laid such great stress on the activities of. the black marketeers and racketeers, grossly overpainted the picture, certainly in respect of the great basic commodities which I have mentioned. These are but a few factors relating to prices control which is but one feature of this bill. The bill proposes the continuation of a number of other powers for the ensuing twelve months. It proposes, for instance, to continue the Agricultural Aids Regulation under which the Government controls the purchase, manufacture,, sale and distribution of agricultural chemicals. But for the existence of that control, avaricious . manufacturers -with the greatest influence, and with the greatest money resources at their 'disposal, would be able to obtain more- than an adequate share of those commodities and divert them to use in the manufacture of low priority products. The ' regulations "which are to be continued by' this -measure also enable the Government -to -retain control over jute products. *Ml* honorable members are aware 'that during the present harvest great problems have confronted the "wheat-growers because df uncertainty as to supplies of cornsacks. If control of jute products were not carried forward into next year, chaos might result. The Government, through the Jute Controller, the Australian Wheat ' Board, and the Minister for Commerce .and Agriculture, now has complete and effective control over the distribution of cornsacks. It is true that jute is in short supply and that there .is need for the Government so to handle available .supplies as to ensure just and equitable distribution among those who use jute products. As the result of this control, the primary producer is to-day able to obtain the benefit of purchases of jute from India .made earlier this year :by the Government at comparatively low prices. Later in the year the price of jute rose to a much higher level. Instead of jute now being sold at a price based on the present price in the Indian market, the Government has equalized the price over the purchases made throughout the year. Would any honorable member say that, :had- jute remained uncontrolled, the price now would not be based on the .higher levels now prevailing in the Indian market? The Government also exercises control over .superphosphate. It is true that direct control over that commodity is to be relinquished, but the Government .proposes to retain the right for the Prices Commissioner to .fix the price of superphosphate for the farming community. It is well known .that, .after World War I., the price of superphosphate rose to approximately £5 10s. a ton. It was not until a co-operative organization was established to engage in the manufacture of superphosphate, just -prior to the outbreak of "World War TI., that superphosphate prices were brought down to £2 15s. >a ton -net to the -.producers. {: .speaker-L1A} ##### Mr Williams: -- What is the price to-day ? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- It is £6 ls. a ton. That increase is due to the high cost of phosphatic rock. These are but a "few illustrations of the need for the continuation of these regulations. Honorable .members opposite, have used this occasion .to concentrate on a few of the weaknesses of prices control in respect of a few commodities which are not basic commodities. In doing so, they have endeavoured to divert .the minds of the people from .the real efficacy of prices control as we 'know it to-day. If we are to be protected from the experiences we had during the -period between the two world "wars, it -is essential that this measure be agreed to and that prices control be continued in the. future. One honorable member referred to pegged land values. Primary producers should know that, with the present high prices of primary products, if land values were uncontrolled, there would immediately be an inflationary tendency and that a temptation 'would be offered to ' primary producers to sell their land at exceedingly high values. If that were done we would eventually reap -the whirlwind and again find ourselves in the position that existed after World War I., when thousands of primary producers throughout Australia received low prices for their primary products but had to meet interest payments on the excessively high purchase prices they paid for their holdings. We would probably have a repetition of the need for farmers' debt 'adjustment acts and other forms of .assistance devised by the Australian Government and the governments of the States in those days in an attempt to -extricate the farmers from their difficulties. I commend the bill to the House and suggest that it will he of great value to the people of this country. {: #subdebate-22-0-s1 .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE:
Wakefield **.- Mr. Speaker-** {: #subdebate-22-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! Did the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** move the second reading of this bill? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- It was moved by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction **(Mr. Dedman).** {: .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr Clark: -- I rise to order. I understand that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is now acting for the Minister foi- Post-war Reconstruction, who is abroad on public business, and, accordingly, his speech should close the second-reading debute. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -The Chair is concerned only with which Minister moved the second reading of the bill. The honorable member for Wakefield may proceed. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- In approving this bill, I think I am expressing the views of the Opposition as a whole when I say that we do so with extreme reluctance. We call to mind the debate that took place in this House last year when the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill was passed. We were told on that occasion that the Government required an extension of its war-time powers for at least twelve months in order to enable it either to repeal, relax or hand over to the appropriate peace-time authorities, namely, the State governments, the various controls that it had exercised during the war. We are not opposed to imposition of controls in war-time. Honorable members will recall that the Menzies Government was in office when World War IT. broke out and that that Government promptly introduced regulations governing prices fixation and appointed Professor Copland as Prices Commissioner for that purpose. I. believe it is worth recalling that during the regime of the Menzies Government the controls were extraordinarily effective in keeping prices down to a low level. It is only fair to say that during the first two years of the war the prices of the basic commodities which go to make up the cost of living rose by less than 10 per cent. It was not until there was a change of government, and the Curtin Administration took over, that prices began to rise rapidly. Whereas the prices of basic commodities during the first two years of the Avar had risen by less than 10 per' cent., during the next twelve or fourteen months they rose by from 15 to 25 per cent. In its exercise of prices control the Labour Government was not able to hold down the prices as effectively as was the Menzies Government. Indeed, it is well to recall that during the same period - 1 speak from memory now - while Australian prices had risen approximately 25 per cent., prices in New Zealand rose by less than 15 per cent., and in Canada by approximately 17 per cent. In that period the Governments of those countries, the conditions of which approximated to the conditions of Australia, were able to hold their prices at stable rates very much more effectively than the Australian Government was able to hold prices in this country. It was only after the right honorable member for Cowper **(Sir** Earle Page), who had spent twelve months as the Australian representative on the British War Council, vigorously urged this Government to introduce the system of subsidies on commodities as a means to hold prices that eventually the system was introduced here. The procedure had been developed in Great Britain from the beginning of the war, and Britain's problem in this regard, as honorable members well know, was very much more acute than that in Australia. As the result of the advocacy of the right honorable member for Cowper, and only after a bitter experience of a comparatively rapid increase in the cost of living in the first fifteen months of the war, the Curtin Government adopted the subsidy scheme. What the people of Australia are worried about to-day is the complete selfsatisfaction of members of this Government with war-time achievements as the result of its price fixing and other controls. We have been told, in season and out of season, by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** and other members of his Cabinet, that the economy of Australia compares more than favorably with that of any other country in the world. Even if that were the case it would be only a half truth, because if we compare the economy of this country with that of other countries we must also compare their respective conditions. When we do that, we discover that Australia does not show up in anything like the favorable light that the Prime Minister and his colleagues would lead us to accept as being the true position. I shall submit to honorable members some figures on a pounds, shillings, andpence basis showing our position in relation to other nations which fought on the side of Britain during the war. These figures should completely destroy the complacency of honorable gentlemen opposite. The returns are not completely up to date, butI have no reason to believe that the situation has altered in any material degree. The figures show that Great Britain held first place in the intensity of its war effort. These are the figures, and they relate to the period from the beginning of the war until June. 1946 - Mr.McBRIDE. - Australia, it will be seen, is fourth on the list. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Having allowed the honorable member to declare the placings, I now ask him how he proposes to connect his remarks with the bill. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -I shall endeavour to show that the controls exercised by this Government were very largely assisted by our economic position throughout the war period. Our position to-day is not by any means entirely the result of the controls; ii is due also in part to our war effort. Having had some experience of administration in the early days of the war, 1 would be the last to depreciate Australia's war effort, but when we consider our war effort we must also take into account the magnitude of the war efforts of the people of other countries. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member is very wide of the bill at the moment. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- It has been stated again and again in this debate, and particularly by the Minister for Information **(Mr. Calwell),** that in comparison with other countries, Australia is in a preeminent position. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- This bill provides for a continuation of certain provisions of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act for another twelve months. The honorable gentleman's remarks, therefore, do not seem to be relevant, {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- I am endeavouring to indicate that the position of Australia is not due to the controls which this Government has exercised. In fact, the Opposition believes that the position is such that there is ample reason to question why the Government desires to continue certain controls which we consider to he unnecessary. We think that certain controls are impeding the return to peace-time conditions in Australia. A good deal has been said about the danger of lifting controls. The Minister for Information, for instance, warned the people, in. no uncertain terms, that it. would he dangerous to lift the controls, and, in support of his argument, he referred to conditions in France and the United States of America. I should have thought that the Minister for Information, at all events, would have been better informed than to adopt that line of argument. We know that chaotic conditions prevail in France, but whether those conditions are due to the lifting of controls or to Communist influences 1. shall not address myself at the moment. Unquestionably, however, the conditions in France are so appalling that, in order to restore affairs to anything like normal, it. has been necessary to appeal to the United States of America for help ona grand scale. Whatever we may say about the lifting of controls in America, it. cannot be disputed that the country has gotback to a peace-time footing, and that its productive output is in excess of that of any other country in the world. I very rarely agree with any views expressed by the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Lang),** but. I am in agreement with his statement this afternoon that a lot of flapdoodle is being talked about the United States of America. I propose to give some figures to the House relating to conditions in America, compared with conditions in Australia. We all know that rationing has been abolished iri the United. States, of America and that most commodities . are in sufficient supply there to enable the people te purchase their requirements. I propose to compare conditions in the United States of America and Australia in June, 1939, with those of June) 1947, although T admit that America did not enter the war until 1941. Between June> 1939 and June, 1947, the real wages of the people of America increased by 13.4 per cent., while those of the Australian- people increased by only 6.7 per cent., or only half of the American increase. I do not think that any honorable member will suggest that the living standards of Australia are better than those of America. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Of course they are. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- I disagree with the Minister. The living standards of America are the highest- in the world, bar none. One of the greatest problems which confronted this- Government,- and, in fact, all other governments, on the cessation of hostilities was how to restore peace-time production. In. this country 40 per cent, of our productive capacity was diverted to the war effort. The problem that had to be faced when the war ended ' was the conversion of thatproductive capacity to peace-time needs, and the -supplying of the goods -that were lacking in Australia; I believe that that is still the major problem that we have to face. I do not consider it too strong a statement to make that one of the greatest causes of industrial turmoil and low production in Australia has been the continuance of wage-pegging regulations long after they were serving any useful purpose. Admittedly; some restrictions were necessary during the war, and the people of Australia, in their great desire to achieve the maximum war effort, submitted to: controls to a remarkable extent, even though they considered, rightly or wrongly, that many regulations were unnecessary. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities, however, the people expected that these controls would be relaxed, at an accelerating, rate. In particular, they expected that wage pegging would, be promptly removed. Yet the Prime Minister and his colleagues, have held tenaciously to these regulations, although it is generally admitted, that they have ceased to be effective and should, have been discarded, long. ago. But it did give the agitators, the extremists and the Communists something with which, to attack, the Government, something with which to cause industrial turmoil. It was only after the Occurrence of a. strike which could not be settled in any other way that the Prime Minister reluctantly relaxed the. wage-pegging regulations, which were doing, no. good, hut the utmost harm. Whatever may be said about, industrial conditions and industrial, laws in this country and the United States of America, the fact remains that the authorities in the United States of America did assume control of industrial matters. In. that country, there was passed what has become known as the Taft-Hartley Act, which amended the Wagner Act. The passing of that act provoked strong reactions. It was called a reactionary measure, and people prophesied that it would create greater industrial disturbance. Most- of- us, including myself, never saw the provisions of the act at the time, but people were misled by what, appeared in the newspapers. I have had an opportunity since to examine the act itself; and it is worthwhile to recount the main. provisions, and their purpose. One provision gave unionists the right to work. In other words, a union could not prevent a member from going on. with his- job provided he had' paid his- union- fees. Another provision prevented the imposition of unduly high entrance fees to the unions - something. which might very well be applied in this country, also. Another provision, and a. most important one, was that which liberated the unions from Communist control - something which is long overdue in this country. In the United States of America, it was done, not by banning, or deporting Communists, but by preventing any union, which was controlled or led by Communists, from benefiting under the industrial laws of the country. In other words, if union, members, of their own volition, elected Communists to control their union, that union would be outside the industrial law. That is something which also might very well be- copied here. Another provision was that members of - a union should have access to the books of tha union. Still another exempted, members- of a union from personal liability- in respect of- fines imposed on the union as an organization. Whatever might have been said against that act when it was passed, the fact remains that it achieved its purpose. There are fewer strikes and industrial hold-ups in the United States of America now than there were before the passing of the act. I suggest that the Government examine that piece of legislation with a view to introducing into this Parliament a measure designed to curtail the industrial turmoil, which is so widespread in Australia. Members of the Government have laid emphasis upon what they describe as the ever-increasing output of our factories. In this connexion, it is interesting to point out how ex-servicemen have gone back into civil employment. I do not advocate industrial conscription, although a Socialist Government in Great Britain has already reintroduced it, but it is a fact that the retention of controls and the growth of government departments have resulted in the diversion of a great deal of labour from productive avenues of employment. Employment in the Commonwealth Public Service has increased out of all proportion to that in primary and secondary industries. According to figures released at the end of August last by the Commonwealth Statistician, the number of persons employed in the Commonwealth Public Service increased between 1939 and the end of August of this year by 91,347, an increase of 134 per cent. Many of the persons thus employed left useful productive occupations to go into government jobs. The number of persons employed in manufacturing industries increased during the same period by 40 per cent. The increase of all government and semigovernmental employment amounts to 39.7 per cent., and in employment in commerce by 14 per cent. Despite the fact that the Minister for Works and Housing **(Mr. Lemmon)** has stressed more than once the tremendous efforts being made to overcome the housing shortage, the fact remains that the number of persons employed in the building and construction industry has increased by only 6.8 per cent as against an increase of 134 per cent. in the Commonwealth Public Service. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The Chair has been very patient. Can the honorable member explain what anything which he has said during the last ten minutes has to do with the bill ? {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- What I have said illustrates how the present trend must be changed if production is to be increased. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honorable member is still too far away from the bill. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- I propose to cite some figures about production that will be right on the bill. These controls about which we are talking are supposed to increase production - although that is the last thing which they, in fact, are doing. I do not need to remind honorable members of the position on the coal-fields; it is already too well-known to everyone. Figures released covering the period up to October of this year show that losses from strikes and hold-ups amounted to- 500,000 tons more this year than last year. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -The honorable member is right away from the subject. Coal production has nothing to do with the bill. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- But general production has. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The Chair thinks otherwise. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** gave a long dissertation about, the abundance of goods in Australia. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I did not say anything of the sort. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- The Minister tried to compare conditions at the present time with those which prevailed after the last war, particularly in regard to the supply of superphosphates, wire and other commodities. I believe that government controls have been almost a total f ailure, but if they have any purpose at all it is to prevent prices from rising. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- That is the point. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- Then it is very interesting to note variations of prices under the system of controls imposed by the Government, and the figures which I am about to cite are taken from a publication issued by the Commonwealth Statistician. They show that prices of primary products have increased less than have prices of other commodities. In other words, the primary producers are carrying the burden of the cost entailed in keeping down prices. We know that prices for wheat and flour have remained steady throughout the whole period, but it is interesting to note that the price of potatoes, which has been controlled during the war and since, has increased since 1939 by 51.91 per cent. The percentage increase in regard to other commodities has been as follows: - It is evident, therefore, that price fixing has not been entirely successful. As a matter of fact, there never has been pricefixing in the real meaning of the term. There has been a. system of profitlimita- tion, and it has operated most unfairly, even on that basis. It is necessary to bring to the attention of honorable members the way in which some of the bigger -organizations have escaped the effects of -control. Commonwealth Oil Refineries, Limited, a petrol and oil company in which the Government holds 51 per cent. -of the shares, made profits as follows, in various years since 1939: - It will be seen that, in . 1944, two years after a Labour Government came into office, gross profits increased from £97,895 to £374,737. The profits were made by a company with a paid-up capital of £850,000; yet prices officials will control the profit made by some small confectionery show. I admit that the Treasurer got the biggest rake off. It may salve the consciences of honorable members opposite to know that, out of the profit of £914,000, in 1946 the Treasury received by way of taxes, £690,000. However, that does not conceal the fact that the people of Australia were overcharged for their petrol and oil products during that period. That is the way in which this Government, which claims to he the protector of the " small man ", operates. I raisedthis matter in this chamber on a previous occasion, but the Government did not take any action. The simple fact is that we are not returning to peacetime conditions, and we are not producing the goods which this country requires. Recently, we were told that, because of the dollar shortage, the importation from the United States of America of essential materials and equipment necessary for an expansion of Australian production, will be curtailed. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to discuss the dollar situation. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- I do not desire to. but it is most important that. Australia shall achieve maximum production. At present, we have not even approached that ha ppy position. It is futile for the Minister to talk about the increased output of coal. As everybody knows, our manufacturers are receiving only approximately SO per cent, of their requirements. How can we achieve maximum production and play our responsible part in the reconstruction of the United Kingdom and Europe when we cannot provide the wherewithal even to meet our own requirements? The Minister referred to the prices of commodities in the period immediately following World War I. I admit that to-day, prices are satisfactory, but materials arenon-existent, because of the muddle that the Government has made of the industrial position. Recently, I received information, which I believe to be accurate, showing that even when goods are produced, they are left at the factories, because transport is not available to convey them, to the places where they are needed. At Newcastle at the moment, the output of wire, which is urgently required to overtake the lag of maintenance caused by seven years of war. is only between 50 per cent, and 60 per cent, of the capacity of the factories. This is due partly to labour difficulties, but to a greater degree to the lack of steel rods. Approximately 3.500 tons of wire are now lying in the yards at Newcastle awaiting shipment. I know that South Australia is starving for this material. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! In other circumstances, the honorable member would be making a very good budget speech. but his remarks have nothing to do with this bill. M'r. MoBRIDE. - I accept your ruling. M.r. Speaker, but I was under the impression that the powers which the Government seeks for another twelve months arc for the purpose not only of fixing prices, but also of stimulating production. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! Those powers have no relation to wire or wire netting lying at Newcastle. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- It is most important to primary producers in other parts of Australia. If I am not in order in discussing this subject on this hill, I hope that an early opportunity will occur to enable me to refer to it. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Yes, at a suitable opportunity. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE: -- That will be well worth while. Now I return to the bill. I have already stated that, with great reluctance, members of the Opposition will support this bill, which will allow the Government approximately thirteen mouths in which to repeal or relax controls which it is now exercising. 1 do not hold the fear which the Prime Minister and honorable members opposite expressed, particularly on the Constitution Alteration (Prices and Rents) Bill, that unless these controls are made permanent - in my opinion they will not be - a dire, disaster will befall Australia. Any person who makes that statement reflects most discreditably upon the High Court, because under the defence power in the Constitution the Parliament of the Commonwealth has complete authority to control all those things which should be con trolled during the transition period from war to peace. I suggest to you, **Mr. Speaker,** above all others, that the High Court, in deciding any of these questions, will not be influenced by any political bias, but will judge fairly on the economic conditions. There is no obstacle to prevent the continuance of these war-time powers for years if, in the opinion of the High Court, they are required for the orderly transition from war-time to peace-time conditions. 1 have complete confidence in the ability and impartiality of the High Court to decide these' natters. So, while I am prepared to sup port this bill, I am not one of those whohas any fear that any necessary powers ./.. erred by this bill, or more properly under the defence power contained in theConstitution, will be taken from the Government until the High Court - that most competent body - decides that thetime has arrived for the Government torelinquish them. **Mr. TURNBULL** (Wimmera) [8.52 1.. - As I have already spoken on the Constitution Alteration (Prices and Rents) Bill, which enabled me to discuss many of the powers contained in the Defence(Transitional Provisions) Bill, I shall; not detain the House for long while I sum up my views. Members of the Opposition intend to support the bill, which I view with rather mixed feelings. I antone of those people who hopes that, assoon as possible, we shall return to normal peace-time conditions. Price-fixing is a war-time measure, and the sooner wereturn to normal conditions the better it. will be for the country. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** considered that all the talk about blackmarketing was exaggerated. I .ask him whether be has tried to buy a second-hand motor vehicle or rent a house or a flatwithout being asked to pay a black-market price? Has he tried to buy many of thecommodities in short supply? I should' say that he has not. Had he even attempted to do so, he would not say that references to black marketing wereexaggerated. While we support the bill, we expect theGovernment to strictly administer pricefixing. It is useless to have pricefixingunless the Government makes an attempt, to implement and police it. Unfortunately, the Government has not attempted' to police price-fixing in relation to secondhand motor vehicles. Motor cars are advertised for sale at the pegged price, but the seller expects a payment in addition to the pegged price, or another vehicle as a trade-in. The Government does not appear to worry about these conditions, and the Minister tells the people that the control of prices of second-hand motor cars has been a wonderful success. He believes that all the talk of black marketing is an exaggeration. Honorable members know that it is not. Black marketeers and racketeers are rampant in second-hand motor car deals, land sales and the renting of flats and houses. I urge the Government to tighten up these controls, so that people will be able to buy goods at the fixed price. In Australia, motor cars are scarce. The Victorian Directorate of Emergency Road Transport at present has 18,000 unsatisfied orders for motor cars. No wonder black marketeers are having a field day when the Government does not strictly administer the prices regulations. When goods are in short supply and black marketing is rife, people who have small incomes experience greater difficulty in obtaining their share. Black marketing hits the basic wage earner, because he is unable to pay a few shillings more than the fixed price for, say, cigarettes. In the same way, the average citizen is unable to pay hundreds of pounds more than the pegged price for second-hand motor cars, which should be cheap. As the. result of the operations of the black marketeer, the average citizen is deprived of many goods to which he is entitled. I ask the Minister to explain to the House how he considers that a butcher at the Newmarket sale yards in Melbourne, who buys fat lambs at 54s. a head, can. make a profit after paying wages, rent, taxes and the cost of transport. {: .speaker-KSD} ##### Mr McLeod: -- What does he obtain from the sale of skins ? {: #subdebate-22-0-s3 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL: -- The value of skins has risen a little. I did not consider that it was necessary for the honorable member for Wannon (M!r. McLeod) to remind the Minister that the price of skins has increased slightly. However, I ask the Minister to inform me how a butcher can possibly make a profit without dealing on the black market. Butchers certainly do deal on the black market, and since the inception of price-fixing of meat, the Government has not been able to police marketing generally. Occasionally, officers of the Prices Branch swoop down on a butcher, as they did a few months ago, and perhaps he is fined heavily or sent to gaol. Having taken this action, the Government is content to let the rest of the world go by. It makes a scapegoat of one man. A government which promulgates regulations that it cannot police or administer should reconsider its policy. During the next twelve months, the Government should taper off all these controls. By doing so, it will show that it is sincere. If there are as many controls in operation twelve months hence as there are to-day, we can be certain that the Government intends to retain these powers permanently. I am a firm believer in private enterprise. Collectively, individuals with initiative make a great nation like Australia, or a great Empire like the British Empire. I support the bill with mixed feelings, knowing that it is necessary for the Government to continue temporarily to control the prices of certain goods, but knowing also that we should not retain these powers permanently. I ask the Government to make a sincere effort to implement its powers and abolish black marketing. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. *In committee:* Clauses 1 to 9 - *by leave* - considered together. {: #subdebate-22-0-s4 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- It is customary in committee for honorable members to pay attention to the various clauses of bills, and this is a very good custom because in dealing with this Government we frequently find, tucked away in some obscure portion of a bill, some provision that will alter the effect of existing legislation, which the Government hopes to pass without the knowledge of honorable members. This bill will amend a number of existing acts. Of course, it will amend the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946, which is the purpose stated in its title, but it will also amend the- Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1946, the Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Act 1947, the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1941, the Defence Act 1903-1945, and the National Registration Act 1939, in the last-mentioned case by completely repealing the legislation. Honorable members will note, therefore, that the Government is casting its net over a wide area in this measure. I refer to subclause 2 of clause 7, which states - >After Section thirty-four of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1041, the following section is inserted:- I ask the committee to take particular notice of the wording of the proposed new section. It is as follows : - " 34a. Where, under any Act- That is, any act on the statute-book of this Parliament - the exercise .of a power or function by a person is dependent upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of that person in relation to a matter and that power or function has been delegated in .pursuance of that Act, that power or function may be .exercised by the delegate upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of the delegate in relation to that matter.". I have examined section 34 of the Acts Interpretation Act. It deals with power to determine authority to administer oaths and such matters. This sub-clause will insert a new section which sets out, in terms which the Government may understand but which, I venture to say, nobody else will understand, just what the Government's intentions are in relation to this matter. I want the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** to explain to the committee the purpose that lies behind this provision. I have some idea of its purpose, because I have read this bill in conjunction with the recently passed Banking Act, and I see in it a complete plan for the establishment of a socialist state in Australia. Honorable members are aware that -the Banking Act will enable the Government to monopolize the whole financial structure of Australia and, therefore, to socialize the nation without difficulty. Under this bill and the Constitution Alteration (Prices and Rents) Bill, the Government .seeks to gain control -for all time of the price structure of Australia. That would complete the plan -for socialization. In every plan of socialization, there must be a place for a commissar to work under the direction of the ruling political party. I have recently studied the Russian system of government, and I foresee that system being transplanted to Australia gradually and by stealth. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order** ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause before the committee. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I am doing so. After that passing reference to the Russian system, I direct my remarks to the provision which will empower the Government to delegate authority to a person to take action, not on facts, not according to precedent, not in the light of experience, but according to his own opinion, belief, or state of mind. Surely that is a drastic power to grant to any person ! Any person to whom authority is so delegated may make decisions, without stating his reasons for doing so, which are entirely contrary to all relevant facts. That provision is contained in this clause. I shall not labour the matter further. The Minister must explain this clause to the committee in full detail. It seem? to me that it was inserted in the bill in the hope that it might be passed without arousing any deep suspicion in the minds pf the Opposition and of the people generally. It will have -an effect on every law inscribed on the statute-book of -this Parliament, and I leave it to the good sense of the committee to determine whether the Government is entitled to enact a sweeping amendment of this character. Unless 1 am given a satisfactory explanation by the Minister, I propose to pursue the matter to the full extent of my privileges in this chamber. {: #subdebate-22-0-s5 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- The purpose of clause 7 is quite clear. The bill provides for the repeal of a number of regulations and for the amendment of a number of others, with the result that administration of certain provisions must be handed from one department to another. Clause 7, sub-clause 2, provides for a legal transference of the powers of one Minister to another Minister. It simply proposes the insertion of a new section 34a in the Acts Interpretation Act in order to obviate the necessity for amending a number of acts. This procedure has been used repeatedly in the past. It is only a formal machinery provision. {: #subdebate-22-0-s6 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong -- I regret very much that I cannot accept that explanation for one moment. I have no doubt that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** put it forward in good faith ; hut, unfortunately, it will not do. This is a bill to amend the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946, and it contains a preamble which recites the particular relation that this matter has to the defence of the country. In particular, the preamble states - >And whereas the continued operation of certain of the regulations declared by that act to be in force until midnight on the thirty-first day of December, One thousand niue hundred and forty-seven will not, after that date, be necessary for the purposes specified in the preamble to that Act: > >And whereas it is necessary, for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth, to provide that certain of those Regulations shall continue to operate during the time of transition . . All this by way of preamble purports to refer to some temporary provision which has relation to the defence of the country. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Hear, hear! {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- In other words, the honorable gentleman puts this bill before us as a measure dealing only with a passing problem! The point referred to by the honorable member for "Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison)** is very important, because clause 7, sub-clause 2, proposes to insert in the Acts Interpretation Act not a temporary measure, but a permanent one. This is what it states - >After section thirty-four of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1941 the following section is inserted: - " 34a. Where, under any Act- That means under any act passed by this Parliament in the past, present, or future - the exercise of a power or function by a person is dependent upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of that person in relation to a matter and that power or function has been delegated in pursuance of that Act, that power or function may be exercised by the delegate upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of the delegate in relation to that matter.". I point out to the committee how that fits into the Acts Interpretation Act which, after all, is probably the oldest statute passed by this Parliament, dating from 1901. Section 33 of the Acts Interpretation Act deals with the making of appointments for the granting of approvals and consents and indicates that, unless the contrary intention appears, such powers are to be exercisable upon the recommendation or subject to the approval or consent of the person appointed. In other words, there is a primary authority and a primary responsibility under all acts of this Parliament that the person appointed to perform a duty shall perform it. Then we find that provision is made in a great number of acts of Parliament for a Minister or the head of a department to delegate his authority. However, up to now, we have jealously guarded this position - that, if somebody is to be dealt with upon the opinion of a Minister, it must be done upon the opinion of the Minister honestly formed, and upon the opinion of nobody else, and that if some act has to be performed by some other person designated in the law, it must be performed upon his opinion or state of mind, not upon that of anybody else. The Tight honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** will recall that earlier to-day we had a little discussion about a celebrated case in which a man was interned on the opinion of the Minister. If a man is to be dealt with on the opinion of the Minister, it should be on his opinion and not the opinion of some one else, because the Minister is at responsible person. Ministers are responsible to the Parliament, and when & Minister forms an opinion and acts upon it, he may state it to the Parliament and defend it. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- What happens should he die and another Minister take his place? {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- The other Minister succeeds to all the rights and responsibilities of the previous Minister, and if he desires to alter the opinion formed by the previous Minister, he may. do so, and if it is a matter of forming a fresh opinion, he may form a fresh opinion. The point is that, under this amendment, which is not an amendment of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act, hut is an amendment of the Acts Interpretation Act and i3 brought into this bill for convenience- {: .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr Lang: -- Order of the Day 16 on the notice-paper is a bill to amend the Acts Interpretation Act. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- Yes; I agree. But, the point is that in this bill, which otherwise is a bill to deal with 'temporary matters, there is a provision that amends one of the permanent laws of the Commonwealth, and what it says without any qualification is - >Where, under any Act, the exercise of a power or function by a person is dependent upon the opinion, belief or state of wind of that person in relation to a matter and that power or function has been delegated in pursuance of that Act, that power or function may be exercised by the delegate upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of the delegate in relation to that matter. The Minister knows that there must be 250 acts of the Commonwealth Parliament that would come within the ambit of that provision. Under it, for the first time, a Minister will be treated as having delegated his power to form an opinion. {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr Burke: -- Does not that provision endure for only twelve months? {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- I speak, subject to correction, but I would say that the provision will be permanent. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The powers taken under this bill are limited to twelve months after the 31st December next. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- Really ! Where is that provision to be found? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- This is a bill to extend for a further twelve months the operations of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- This is a bill to extend the operation of certain regulations and acts. The clause I am dealing with has no relation to the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act. It says in unqualified terms - {: type="1" start="7"} 0. -- (1.) After section nineteen b of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1941 the following section is inserted : - (2.) After section thirty-four of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1941 the following section is inserted: - I should be very interested to be told - and it may be so for all I know - that there is some provision in this bill - and the Minister owes a duty to us to point it out if there is one - which limits the operation of the alteration of the Acts Interpretation Act to a period of twelve months, because, on the face of it, this is permanent alteration. I, for one, am always willing to accept a statutory provision that, in certain circumstances, the opinion of some responsible person should be acted upon in certain events; but would any honorable member be willing to say that, because that responsible person may delegate certain administrative functions to other people, he shall also be deemed to delegate, perhaps to some junior official, the power to form an opinion, upon which opinion the particular circumstances of a citizen will depend ? This is a very bad provision indeed. It is a provision that should not be approved by the committee. If the Government desires, in some special circumstances, in relation to some specific act of Parliament, which can be discussed in this chamber, to say that the delegate may himself form an opinion, then let us discuss that on its merits; but what the Government is saying is that, in relation to any acts of Parliament on the statutebook, wherever a delegation of authority is found, the right to form an opinion goes to the official to whom a delegation has been made. It is a very substantial departure in statute law in this country, and I once more ask the Minister to throw a little more light on it. {: #subdebate-22-0-s7 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- I think it is quite clear that this is a bill to extend the operation of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act to the end of 1948. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies: -- Before the Minister proceeds any further, I should like to interrupt him. We do not want to be at cross-purposes. If the Minister will look at clause 2, he will see the following provision : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Section one, two and three of this act shall come into operation on the day on which this act receives the Royal Assent. 1. The remaining sections of this act shall come into operation on the first day of January, one thousand, nine hundred and forty-eight. One of those provisions is the provision I just referred to. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- The main purpose of thebill is to extend the operation of the Defence (Transitional Provisions). Act to the end of 194S. The proposed new section 34a of the Acts. Interpretation Act will not he limited to twelve months.. It is inserted to obviate the need to bring down individual bills to amend a host of acts. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies: -- In other words, it is tobe a permanent provision. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- Does the right honorable gentleman suggest that we ought to bring down a string of amendments of acts when we can accomplish the same end. by this means? {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies: -- What I do suggest is that, now that the Minister agrees that this is. to be a permanent alteration of the Acts Interpretation Act, he should indicate to the committee the acts that will be affected by it. There must be at least 200. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- The right honorable gentleman knows that there is a wide range of acts that will be affected. It is not practicable to bring down legislation to amend every one of them individually. The right honorable gentleman himself says that there must be 200 or more such acts. {: #subdebate-22-0-s8 .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE:
Parramatta .- I support what has been said by the Loader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** and the honorable member for. Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison).** Clause 2 of the bill provides that, sections 1, 2 and 3 shall come into operation when it receives the Royal assent and. that the remaining sections shall come into operation on the 1st January next.. Clause 3 amends section 6 of the principal act by substituting the word "forty-eight" for the word " forty-seven ", which means that it extends the operation of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act for another twelve months after the end of this year. Except for some machinery provisions, that is the only provision relating to the Defence (Transitional Provisions.) Act. We are all familiar with the procedure by which governments, having decided on legislation to deal with a particular subjectmatter, take the opportunity to insert in that legislation provisions dealing with an altogether different subject-matter. This is one of those bills. Opportunity is taken, as the Leader of the Opposition has said, to provide in clause 7 for the amendment of the Acts Interpretation Act by the insertion therein of the following new section : - 34a. Where, under anyact, the exercise of a power or function by a person is dependent upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of that person in relation to a matter and that power or function has been delegated in pursuance of that Act, that power or function may be exercised by the delegate upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of the delegate in relation to that matter. The point I make has already been adequately made by the Leader- of the Opposition. It is that the operation of that provision will not be limited to twelve months, but the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** seems tobe under the impression that it will be. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- I am not. {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE: -- It may be that its operation is intended to be limited to twelve months; but it will not be. It may be that a case could be made out that a delegate should have the power of. expressing an opinion on. matters concerning the period of transition between war and peace. None has been made out. But no case could, possibly be made out that a delegate should have the power of expressing an opinion Under multifarious acts, quite apart from the Defence (Transitional. Provisions.) Act that would be binding on the courts. So there are two evils in this proposal. The first is that the proposed power is to be unlimited as to its period of operation. Secondly, it is to be unlimited in its ambit. Therefore, I ask. the Minister to modify the proposal and to make it clear to the Parliament and the people that the Government does not intend to operate the proposed power for more than twelve months. If he does not the Labour party will create a rod to boat its own back, because, in due course, it will be out of office and it will be the first to complain if junior officers have the right to express opinions binding on litigants and the courts. The proposal is revolutionary, and I hope that the Minister will reconsider it. {: #subdebate-22-0-s9 .speaker-KEU} ##### Mr FALSTEIN:
Watson .- It is a continual source of wonderment to me that whenever legal questions are introduced into a debate in this chamber by members of the Opposition the lead is always taken by the honorable member forWentworth **(Mr. Harrison),** who is himself not a lawyer. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- And the honorable member is not a commercial man, either. {: .speaker-KEU} ##### Mr FALSTEIN: -- The cheap sneers of the honorable member will not extricate him from this matter. If he had taken the trouble to read the principal act, that is the 1946 act, he would have seen a similar provision in sub-section 3 of section18. I suggest to the committee that that provision is identical in every respect with the section intended to be inserted in the Acts Intepretation Act, with the exception that the section proposed to be inserted has a general application to all legislation, whereas subsection 3 of section 18 of the principal act, which has been extended by clause 3 of the bill under discussion, relates to regulations under the principal act. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies: -- That is a material difference. {: .speaker-KEU} ##### Mr FALSTEIN: -- I shall come to that in a moment, if the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies),** whose knowledge of the law is unquestioned, will permit me to put my case. I propose to read to the committee exactly what section 18 (3) of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act provides. The committee will notice as I read how great is the similarity in the wording. The section reads as follows: - >Where in any regulation in force by virtue of this act the exercise of any power or function by a Minister, or the operation of any provision of that regulation- And the reference is to regulations because this is the interpretation which is to be permitted in respect of regulations under the principal act - is dependent upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of a Minister in relation to any matter, that power or function may be exercised by the person to whom that power or function has been delegated by the Minister or that provision may operate, as the case may be, upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of that person in relation to that matter. The Leader of the Opposition has stated for the benefit of the committee that there is a preamble to this bill. I draw his attention to the fact that there is also a title to the bill and that that title says that it is a bill for an act to amend the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946 and for other purposes. One of the other purposes is to provide in the Acts Interpretation Act forthe general application of something which has been in existence since the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946 was passed by this Parliament. If the honorable member forWentworth is trying to find a nigger in the wood pile, he has a very small wood pile in which to look for him on this occasion. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- But he is a big nigger. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- He is certainly the right colour. {: .speaker-KEU} ##### Mr FALSTEIN: -- The whole purpose of the bill now under discussion - and I hope I shall be permitted to make passing reference to all clauses of the bill, although only clause 7 is under discussion - is to provide by clause 3 that the principal act shall be extended to operate from 1947 to 1948. The point I wish to make is that no benefit will accrue to the Government by inserting the new section in the Acts Interpretation Act as it relates to the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act because that is already provided for in the principal act itself. It is not uncommon for a Government when bringing down legislation to provide for amendment, as is the case with this bill, of other legislation. This bill provides for the amendment of other acts. Every honorable member knows that the purpose of the Acts Interpretation Act is to prevent the unnecessary repetition of a number of provisos, safeguards and interpretations in various acts which are brought before the Parliament These things are, if I may put it that way, summarized in the Acts Interpretation Act. The provisions in that act have general application to all legislation. There is nothing sinister in what is proposed by the Government. I hope that the honorable member for Wentworth will see at once that what is proposed has only general application, whereas the special application in the hill under discussion has already been provided for and still exists under the present law. {: #subdebate-22-0-s10 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong -- I am indebted to the honorable member for Watson **(Mr. Falstein).** There is a great deal more common ground between the view he has put and the view I have expressed than perhaps he realizes at present. He points out, very rightly, that the long title describes the bill as a bill to amend the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946 and for other purposes. As one who has had the honour of being Attorney-General of the country for five years, I am not unfamiliar with the expression " for other purposes ". I have been thinking >a good deal in the last few days of a very distinguished servant of this country, **Sir George** Knowles, whose recent death is deplored by all of us. He was a magnificent public servant. He was Solicitor-General ' when I was Attorney-General, and I well remember on many occasions, when a draft bill arrived, having a good look at it and saying, "I think we will put in the words and for other purposes ' because they will give us a little elbow room ". Every parliamentary draftsman is familiar with that device. The whole point is that the phrase " and for other purposes " includes the very clause I have been debating. It has nothing to do with the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act as such, but it has everything to do with " other purposes ". It is not limited in point of time; it is a permanent provision. The honorable member for Watson has pointed out that in the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946, which it is our main purpose now to amend, there was a provision in section 18 (3) very similar to this one. If the present provision related only to regulations which are being continued in operation by this bill, I would not quarrel with it. As the honorable member rightly says, it would not be necessary. All we would need to do would be to continue the relevant portion of the 1946 act. But the whole point I am making is that it is one thing to continue this rather extraordinary power of delegation in relation to temporary regula tions, and another thing to apply this extraordinary power of delegation to the power to form an opinion on every act of the Commonwealth Parliament. The two things are as different as chalk is from cheese. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- It is necessary where it has been omitted in the past. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- I hope that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** will remember that we have in the past been rather jealous of the principle of responsible government. We do not mind giving power to the Minister, because the Minister is frequently in his place in this chamber and can be questioned or be called upon to answer criticisms; but Ave have been jealous of the idea of allowing Ministers to delegate power, not perhaps to the head of a department, who is a man highly placed, but to some minor official. It may be necessary to delegate power of action from time to time; but it is a very dangerous thing to delegate to some minor official power to form an opinion upon which the rights of the citizen will depend. These formations of opinions are operative in their effect. When so and so is of the opinion that such and such is the case, certain results are to follow. I do not mind the Minister having the right to form an opinion, because, if I am so disposed, I may cross-examine him and criticize him in this chamber. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Is it not essential that the Minister should have the right to delegate power to form an opinion to the same extent as he was entitled to do so under the original act? {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- The delegation of purely executive authority is frequently justified, but the delegation of authority to form an opinion - which is not subject to challenge, mark you - and which is binding upon the citizen, is an entirely different matter. I am not quarrelling with power of this kind as it applies to temporary defence transitional regulations. All I am objecting to is the permanent change in the law which will affect anything from one to 300 acts of this Parliament which Ave have not in mind at all. I propose to move an amendment which will crystallize my views on this subject, the purpose of which is to ensure that this sub-section shall cease to operate on the 31st December, 1948. If the Government accepts that amendment, and if at the end of 1948, as it may well do, it says, " We should continue some of these regulations " - and 1 have ad ready indicated that the Opposition is prepared to giye open consideration to that matter dependent upon circumstances at the time - we will say, " Good ; then you may deal with this sub-clause in the same way as you dealt with the regulations ". {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- lt might interfere with the Banking Act- {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- I do not think that the most ingenious person could tie this up with the Banking Act. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- I am not so sure. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- I am glad that at the tail end of this sessional period the right honorable gentleman is beginning to look a gift horse in the mouth. It is a great mistake. He must take this. He will now realize that in this temporarybill, a bill which on the face of it professes to make a temporary and limited extension of certain controls, there is a permanent provision which will increase the power of officialdom by providing that wherever the official is the delegate of power and a question of opinion is involved, he is to have the right to form that opinion, which would be just as binding as if it were made by the man who delegated the authority to him. I move - >That, in clause 7, sub-clause (2.), at the end of proposed new section 34a, the following words be added : - " This sub-section shall cease to operate on the thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and forty-eight ". {: #subdebate-22-0-s11 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- The Government is not prepared to accept the amendment. It must be quite clear that in a number of acts to which this sub-clause refers specific powers are given to a certain authority and those powers are exercisable on the state of mind or opinion of that particular authority. When authority to delegate power is given it would be ridiculous to deny to the person to whom the authority is delegated the right to express his own state of mind. If that were done, the delegation of power would be meaningless. {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr Beale: -- We have never had this expressed before. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- There are many things that we have never had before. We have never had the honorable member before, and, of course, the same was true of me at a certain stage. The Government cannot accept the amendment. {: #subdebate-22-0-s12 .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr BEALE:
Parramatta .- I should not have risen but for the Minister's provocative remark. I wish to put my point of view by way of illustration.Some years ago a bill was introduced into the New South Wales Parliament called the Western Lands Bill. It was regarded as the high water mark in the arrogation of judicial authority by Ministers. It dealt with many subjects, including the overstocking of pastoral leases in the far western division. It provided penalties as a deterrent to overstocking. The measure stated that if, " in the opinion of the Minister ", a pastoralist was guilty of overstocking he should be subject to certain prescribed penalties. While the bill was under consideration it was pointed out that that was the first time that such a provision had appeared in a New South Wales bill. In effect, it meant that, instead of the guilt of a person being determined by a properly constituted tribunal, it was determined solely by the Minister. If the Minister was of the opinion that a lessee was guilty, he was guilty, and that was the end of it. That was bad enough, and the provision was ultimately defeated. It was pointed out while the proposal was under debate that as the Minister was answerable to Parliament and as his administration could be criticized on the floor of the House, there was some protection for a lessee. But suppose there had been in that New South Wales measure a provision similar to the one now before us, by which the Minister could delegate his authority to some other person, perhaps an under-secretary, or the secretary of a pastoral protection board in the far west, the pastoralist would have had no protection at all, for the subordinate officer would not have been open to criticism on the floor of the House as would a Minister. I protest against this provision being inserted in a bill which admittedly is intended to serve only a temporary purpose, for if this provision he agreed to it will appear in a permanent statute and will have application to Commonwealth legislation over a very wide sphere, including customs and excise and a thousand and one other subjects on which this Parliament legislates. It would be utterly wrong to allow a Minister to delegate to some subordinate authority a power to make decisions which would involve citizens in penalties without providing any redress or any right of review. Such an individual would not be available for criticism in Parliament; he would not be here to be fired at. This is a revolutionary provision and I hope, even at this late stage - though I do not profess to be hopeful - that the Minister will accept the amendment. {: #subdebate-22-0-s13 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT:
Fawkner .- I support the amendment for many reasons. Whilst it may be true, as the honorable member for Watson **(Mr. Falstein)** has said, that the title of the bill makes reference to amendment of the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act and includes the words " and for other purposes ", the honorable gentleman knows very well that if he were drafting a legal document he would set out in the preamble the purpose for which it was designed. If he examines the preamble of this bill he will find no reference in it to the inclusion in the bill of provisions of a permanent character. On the contrary, the preamble emphasizes the temporary character of the bill in a number of soothing and consoling phrases relating to an orderly return to conditions of peace, and to the limitation of - the measure to a period of twelve months. No reference is made in the preamble to any provisions of a permanent character. This particular clause emphasizes that the new despotism is enthroned in all its glory. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- Cheer up. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- I find it very difficult to cheer up when I think of the acts for which the Minister ,and his colleagues have been responsible. {: #subdebate-22-0-s14 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- This provision is, in fact, a deification of officialdom. The people of Australia are not looking for that kind of thing; they expect Ministers to accept their responsibilities and to be answerable to the Parliament for the manner in which those responsibilities are discharged. .Ministers should be willing to accept their responsibilities, but this Government is determined, in the name of the new order, to follow the path of reaction. This is the golden age geared in reverse. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman's remarks are wide of the bill. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- We are expected to accept this provision as being suitable to a benign despotism, or a form of dictatorship, autocracy, or the like. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- This is the new despotism. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member might take some notice of the directions of the Chair. I ask him to deal only with the clause and matters relevant to it. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- I consider that my remarks are relevant. I am submitting that Ministers should accept the responsibilities of the positions and that they should not be given power to delegate their authority to persons who are neither directly nor indirectly responsible to the Parliament. The Government is apparently attempting to achieve some particular objective in an underhand manner. It is seeking to insert a permanent provision in a bill which it has declared to be of a temporary character. This is, indeed, the deification of officialdom. The Government is prepared to surrender its war-time powers only with the utmost reluctance, and in a most grudging way. Because the Leader of the Opposition has moved to ensure that the amendment to be effected by this clause shall remain in force for only twelve months, I shall support it. Question put - >That the words proposed to be added **(Mr.** Menzies's amendment) be so added. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.) AYES: 21 NOES: 37 Majority . . . . 16 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Clauses agreed to. First Schedule. {: #debate-22-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- I move - >That the words "National Security (Salvage)Regulations" be left out. It is proposed that the Salvage Commission, the operations of which have been bringing in a revenue of about £60,000 a month, should have its authority extended to enable it to wind up its activities. Amendment agreed to. First Schedule, as amended, agreed to. Second Schedule agreed to. Preamble and Title agreed to. Bill reported with an amendment; report - *by leave* - adopted. Bill- *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3133 {:#debate-23} ### TREATY OF PEACE (ITALY) BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-23-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 8th October *(vide* page 516), on motion by **Mr.. Chifley** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-23-0-s0 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong -- The bills on thenoticepaper which we nowreach arethose dealing with treaties of peace with. Italy, Roumania, Hungary, Finland and Bulgaria. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** made a speech on the 8th October, by way of a general introduction to all these treaties, and he indicated that, whilst the treaties were not entirely satisfactory, they were not, on a short-range view, entirely unsatisfactory. He offered some observations upon the manner of the making of the treaties, and I do not desire to add anything at this stage to what he said. I do not believe that any useful purpose would be served by initiating a full dress debate upon what should be done to these former enemy countries. The outstanding fact is that the treaties have been negotiated, and all we can do is to withhold ratification or grant it. If we withhold ratification it will not prevent the treaties from existing, nor will it alter their effect. Mr.Chifley. - It could create soma administrative difficulties. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- I agree, and therefore I do not propose to oppose ratification. I desire, however, to make two observations. The first is that, in the making of European treaties I am not sure that we have not spread our claims somewhat widely. We have, in respect of each of these treaties, demanded in the appropriate quarters to be consulted, and what is described an effective voice in the settlement. I do not know that I can agree that our claim in the case of each treaty is the same. If there is one former enemy country in relation to which we had a claim of great importance it is Italy, and I think we might with advantage have pressed our claim in regard to Italy even if it meant abating our claim in regard to some of the other settlements. The defeat of Italy as a belligerent was, to a substantial degree - I do not say a determining degree - due to a very great feat of arms by Australian soldiers in North Africa. However, there is nothing to be gained by elaborating that point. I would myself, bad I been confronted with this problem while in the position of the Minister for External Affairs **(Dr. Evatt),** have been inclined to differentiate between our claim to be present during the initial discussions regarding Italy, and our claim to be present during the initial discussions with regard to Bulgaria. But these are accomplished facts, and I will not occupy time in discussing them now. My other observation is this: The fate of the world during the next ten or twenty years or, it may be, during the next century, will be very closely bound up with what happens in Europe, and that may depend, not so much on the form of treaties made in relation to European countries, as upon the substantial participation by other countries in the European settlement; and, in particular, upon the substantial participation by the United States of America. There is in Europe an alarming state of affairswhich is full of menace. There is a very powerful Russian *Hoc in* Eastern Europe, and in the west, particularly in Germany and in France, there is social and industrial disturbance, great poverty and very little on which to feed the people. There is also the vital problem of reconstructing industry in these countries, so that their populations can live civilized lives, and be taken out of the shadow of fear, and out of the atmosphere of revenge and bitterness which surrounds them. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- That is just- as true of Germany itself. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- Yes, I included Germany. Therefore. I believe, as the Prime Minister does, that the ultimate result in Europe is not going to depend so much upon these sheets of paper which represent the treaty documents, as upon how far the rest of the world can organize its forces, both material and human, in order to bring about some form of restoration to Europe which has suffered more bitterly in home, and factory, and in the human spirit, than have the other countries of the world. Therefore, while one speaks with some reluctance of the policy of a great and eminently friendly country like the United States of America, I cannot help feeling that the slogan for the United States of America should be, not so much, " We fear Russia " as " We feed Europe ". In other words, that the United States of America should help Europe, and particularly the countries of Western Europe which were overrun during the war and which, as a result, have fallen into disorder, and are slow to restore their productive capacity. The documents before us represent what are very much accomplished facts. They do not seem in reality to be dealing with the main problem of European reconstruction. The main problem confronting Europe is the restoration of industry, trade and mutual understanding, and in the solving of that problem the countries of Europe should receive the assistance of men and women of goodwill all over the world. Therefore, I have little doubt that the history of Europe during the next ten or twenty years will record that the stability of the world depended, not so much upon documents, as upon the outside help brought to the people of Europe in the right time and in the right place. {: #subdebate-23-0-s1 .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY:
Fremantle -- The treaties before the House deal with an area of Europe in regard to which the post-war treaties of World War I. were conspicuous for their failure. I refer to the Treaty of St. Germain with Austria, the Treaty of Trianon with Hungary, and the Treaty of Neuilly with Bulgaria.- The treaties now under consideration also refer to areas of the world in which Communist governments have emerged. In Roumania. there is a Communist government under the premiership of Groza. In Bulgaria, there is a Communist government under Dimitroff and Ana Pauker. In Hungary, there is a Leftist government led by Dinnyes, which has been pursuing a policy not so radical as that of Roumania and Bulgaria, but, nevertheless, very radical judged by previous Hungarian standards. The treaties after World War I. were disastrous in that they destroyed the AustroHungarian Empire. That Empire was often referred to as a mere feudal survival. I arn not referring to its social aspect when I say that its destruction was a disaster, hut I refer to it as a free-trade area, in which there was a rapidly and continuously rising standard of living. The break-up of the empire into fragments which were incapable of a separate economic existence was one of the important factors making for instability in Europe between the two world wars. French policy directed towards the reorganization of some of the states concerned into the Little Entente directed against Germany failed to provide anything like a substitute for a single political unit such as the Austro-Hungarian Empire. However, I am not concerned so much about the political background of the treaties as with the disposition of the Australian press, when discussing eastern Europe, or that part of it behind the socalled " iron curtain " - to suggest that the structure which Russia has built up is something impermanent, and that this area is one in which our policy can be readily and easily successful. It seems to me to ignore two things. First, it ignores the lack of democratic tradition in Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Because **Mr.** Groza's Government in Roumania is undemocratic and authoritarian, and because the governments of Bulgaria and Hungary are also undemocratic and authoritarian, we feel that there is likely to be a powerful movement of unrest in these countries which will overturn them, and that we can regard that area as an unstable area once the Russian occupying forces are withdrawn. That seems to me to be profoundly untrue. These countries have never had a democratic form of government in the sense that we know it. Between World War I. and World War II. Bulgaria, under King Boris was most undemocratic, and because of that, it is not likely that there has developed, except among certain elements that have had some contact with western Europe, a tradition and outlook which will cause unrest under the new governments which have come into being. We should also recognize the strength that these Communist governments have acquired in those countries by a simple expedient which most revolutionary governments have adopted in Europe during the last 150 years. I refer to the expedient of giving land to the peasantry, and to the expedient of the sub-division of feudal estates which, on an enormous scale, has been carried out in Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary. Any one with even a slight acquaintance with history knows that almost every revolutionary settlement from the. time of the Reformation onwards, which has included a redistribution of land, has stabilized itself to a marked degree by carrying out the redistribution of land. That is a factor making, at any rate, for the stability of the Communist regimes which have emerged in eastern Europe. The second thing, which is quite important in this part of the world, is to recognize that the Communist governments that have emerged, have learnt an important lesson from the failure of their predecessors in the inter-war period. I want it to be clearly understood that I am not defending the social programme of the Communist governments, or their ruthless suppression of liberty, or the treachery with which they have used certain elements in order to get into power, and then turned on those elements ; but I am endeavouring to be realistic in discussing the ability of these Communist regimes to get a grip on these communities by producing certain definite results. One of the definite results which they are producing to-day is to weld this area into an economic unit. Bismark once remarked that " if there were not an Austro-Hungarian Empire, we should have to invent it ". He referred to its convenience as a free trade area and as a natural economic unit. The interlocking of currencies, trade and transport between these several States, which the Communist governments of those countries are now carrying out, is re-creating a natural economic unit, and must work towards the stability of the Danubian States and the perpetuation of the Communist regimes there, especially when one takes into consideration the fact that there is also the influence of Russia operating upon them. Against that, and a factor militating against Russian policy in this area, is Russia's continued insistence upon enormous reparations from these various countries. No amount of Communist apologetics can conceal one fact, namely, that due to the circumstances of war, these countries are virtually starving; and there cannot be support for a policy which transfers from those countries, by way of reparations, capital equipment and food to Russia. There have been signs actually incorporated in treaties that Russia, recognizing this, is seeing its reparations programme in point of time and in point of quantity of goods as a means of attempting to gain support an Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary. There are also Russian claims on Bulgaria which appear to be entirely unjustified. Russia was at war with Bulgaria for only one week. The declaration of war came not as the result <of Bulgarian aggressive action, but from Russia after Bulgaria had sued for peace with the Western Powers with which it had been at war. Russia appears to have declared war on Bulgaria for the sake of having the right to occupy that country, and it was' one of **Mr. Churchill's** concessions to Russia that he agreed that Bulgaria, although it had not been at war with Russia, should be within the Russian zone of influence. Just as Russia has acquired the greatest share of reparations from Manchuria, although it was at war with Japan for only one week, so it is acquiring the greatest share of reparations from Bulgaria, although Bulgaria waged no aggressive action against Russia. Indeed, it is difficult to see how a reparations claim can stand, since no Bulgarian troops entered Russia to do any damage there. By a series of treaties with those countries, Russia has strengthened its economic grip on the area to a very large degree. Russia has made economic agreement not only with those particular countries but it has made one with Czechoslovakia, which directs the whole of Czech foreign trade in the direction of Russia. With Hungary, it signed a trade treaty on the 15th July last which directs towards Russia such major Hungarian products as oil, rolled steel, engineering and electrical equipment, diesel trains, and locomotives; and Russia is exporting to Hungary annually 300,000 tons of iron ore, 250,000 tons of coal and 12,000 tons of raw cotton. If we look at the list of goods, we can see the significance of this policy. This is ostensibly a trade agreement; but if Russia sends the raw materials of the goods which it is to take back from those countries, it becomes immediately obvious that all that Russia is doing is to use the industries of those countries. If it sends iron ore to Hungary and receives from Hungary electrical equipment, locomotives and heavy engineering equipment, it is obvious that this is not genuine trade but the mere utilization by Russia of the labour and industrial equipment of such, countries as Hungary. With Bulgaria, Russia has concluded a similar agreement. With countries such as Yugoslavia that were our allies during World War II., Russia is pursuing an entirely different policy. It is building up the secondary industries of Yugoslavia which, no doubt, Russia can regard as being entirely trustworthy, but it is not building up the secondary industries of the ex-enemy powers, because it is only moving raw materials to them, and receiving from them capital equipment. {: .speaker-KHY} ##### Mr Howse: -- Is Russia sending large quantities of raw materials to those countries ? {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY: -- Yes. That is proved by the figures which I quoted a few moments ago. Apart from iron ore and coal, the list includes 60,000 tons of salt per annum and large quantities of manganese and wolfram. The policy which Russia is pursuing in these areas is being supplemented by a policy between the several satellites themselves. It is important to notice that although Russia is still exacting reparations from the exenemy powers of Bulgaria, Roumania and Hungary, the former allies of Russia and ourselves in World War II., namely, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, which Germany overran, have virtually been required to waive their reparations claims. I do not express any regret about that, because I consider that reparations, to a large extent, are absurdities when we consider the utter ruin of Europe at the present time. But it is significant that what has virtually taken, place is a withdrawal of reparations claims by every other country in favour of a very strong assertion of claims by Russia. Russian diplomacy has successfully got away with that particular item of policy. I do not denounce that. I imagine that the temptation to pursue that policy is enormous when one considers the extensive damage which was done to Russia in World War II. But I do point it out as the policy which is being pursued by Russia to-day. Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia have entered into very close trade treaties with Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary, which have virtually formed a customs union in the east of Europe. Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, both of which have communist governments, concluded a trade agreement which was signed by Dimitroff and Marshal Tito at Bled early this year. The treaty provides for a draft pact of friendship, co-operation and mutual assistance; for economic co-operation in the form of stabilized exchange rates - a customs union; mutual assistance in industry; electrification, agriculture, foreign trade, mining and transport; and a frontier agreement. Most significantly, it provides for the co-ordination of their foreign policies. I quote the actual passage from the treaty - >The establishment of close contact between, and the pursuance of a common policy by the two governments with relation to the frequent frontier provocations by the Monarcho-Fascist Greek Government, as well as with regard to the Investigation Commission set up by the Security Council in the light of it? heretofore biased activities. . . I emphasize that those words are not mine but are contained in the treaty. The Government of Greece is characterized in the treaty as "MonarchoFascist ", and the Security Council of the United Nations is described as " biased ". So, one can see here a clear co-ordination of the foreign policy of Bulgaria and Yugoslavia towards Greece, which has become one of the storm centres in the relations of Russia and the United States of America. The treaty also provides for cultural and press co-operation between the two powers. Yugoslavia waived its claim to 25,000,000 dollars worth of reparations! Bulgaria actually attacked Yugoslavia but did not attack Russia, yet it has its penal ties waived in respect of Yugoslavia but maintained in respect of Russia. Just how severe the imposition of Russian reparations upon Bulgaria has been can be deduced from the fact that Russia absorbed 66 per cent, of Bulgaria's exports in the first year of peace. I do not intend to go any further into the subject of these interlocking treaties, except to say that Russia has trade agreements with every one of the eastern European powers - Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Roumania, Bulgaria and Hungary. The general characteristic of these economic agreements is that Russia is providing those minor powers with raw materials, which they are manufacturing and re-exporting to Russia. In other words, eastern Europe is being used as a source for the recovery of Russia from war damage. I mention certain final considerations in respect of these peace treaties because they are important in any analysis of future Communist policy in Europe, and the formation of the Cominform is, after all, an instrument for coordinating future Communist foreign policies. There has been a common factor in all of those countries in the way in which the Communist governments have come into power. It is true that those governments are utilizing completely undemocratic principles, but they are gaining the prestige which the destruction of surviving forms of fuedalism must necessarily give to the Communist party. In addition to that, they have shown an ability to use the Western Powers and such liberal elements as there are in those countries until they have gained power, and then to turn and destroy them. The actual overthrow of Fascism in Roumania was achieved by the King in conjunction with a noted Roumanian democrat, Juliu Maniu, who had been persecuted by the Antonescu Government and the Iron Guardist Fascist governments. Maniu and the King brought about the downfall of Antonescu. They brought in the Communists, although the Communist party had no significance in predominantly peasant countries. The Communists were allotted a few portfolios, including the decisive portfolio in European practice of the Ministry of the Interior. Then they followed a policy of character-assassination of Maniu and used Russian occupation troops to overthrow him in favour of a Communist government, which allowed a few socialdemocratic elements to remain, until, finally, there followed the complete' elimination of all other than the Communists. In other words, the liberals were utilized to such a point as was necessary and then were destroyed. In Roumania, the Communists actually brought back into power former Iron Guardist Fascists, especially the man who had been head of the Iron Guard secret police because of his special knowledge of the liberal elements in the country. When they had been used to suppress the liberals, they themselves were eliminated, leaving only a Communist government in control. In Roumania there has been, in addition, the almost Gilbertian situation of the royal prerogatives of the Ring, Michael, being used to overthrow the Crown and the form of society that previously existed. In other words, there was a crown revolution, an event unprecedented in European history. A similar story could be told of Bulgaria, where a very noted democrat came into power, overturned the quasi-Fascist government which had been left by King Boris and made peace overtures to the west at considerable risk to himself, whereupon Russia declared war on him, occupied his country and ultimately overthrew him, installing the Communist government of Dimitroff in his place. The same policy is being attempted in Hungary, but with less success, and it is being pursued more gradually. Hungary is a country which did not have a democracy in the western sense of the word in 1939, but bad one of those queer nineteenth-century European forms of limited democracy, having high property qualifications under the electoral system and so forth, which had survived in that country longer than anywhere else in Europe. A very large peasantry existed in Hungary, so that the Smallholders party was the dominant one. The Communist policy there, made possible only by the presence after a long period of occupation of Russian forces, has been to try to move the leadership of the Hun garian Smallholders party farther and farther to what might be called the left, but which more properly might be described as being farther and farther towards the elements which will pursue a foreign policy subordinate to Russia. First of all there was the Ferenc Nagy government in Hungary. It was overthrown by an internal intrigue. The Communists within the Diet have pressed continually for trials and denunciations of those members of the Smallholders party whom they regard as opposed to themselves, and they have finally succeeded in moving the Government to the centre of the Smallholders party, the centre group being led by the present Premier, Dinnyes. Now, as in Czechoslovakia, where they began by denouncing the noted democrats, Masaryk and Benes, the Communists, having used Dinnyes to overturn Nagy, are pursuing a policy of denouncing Dinnyes with the idea of moving the Government farther away and finally establishing a Communist authoritarian regime. As I have said, the ground in all this area is well prepared for such a policy. I think that we ought to recognize that the Communists will stabilize their regime and that nobody is prepared to use force to overturn them. The Communists are remarkably efficient in preventing counter-organization within a country. There are Russian occupying forces in some of those countries, and we must also recognize the fact that, by distributing land to the peasantry, the Communists have gained for themselves a great measure of goodwill. The story would be different, of course, if they attempted to collectivize agriculture or to carry out the full Communist programme, butthey have been realistic enough to pursue only an interim policy up to the present. These peace treaties cannot be altered by this Parliament. They are accomplished facts. However, we can understand the major techniques of Russian foreign policy if we consider what has taken place within those countries and if we consider how, during the war, the western powers were induced to abandon any attempt to exert influence in eastern Europe and, in fact, by treaties such as those of Potsdam and Yalta, even to waive in the decisive period after the war their claim to any say in those areas. The peace treaties cannot be altered by us. They should be ratified by us. However, they contain within themselves an important lesson for us, and it would be well, if we are to predict the future tendency of Russian foreign policy, to understand what has happened in the area of Europe to which they have reference. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3139 {:#debate-24} ### TREATYOF PEACE (ROUMANIA) BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-24-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration · Melbourne · ALP -- I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. I understand that, in the opinion of the House, the Prime Minister's second-reading speech on the Treaty of Peace (Italy) Bill also covered the proposed treaties of peace with Bourn ania, Hungary, Finland and Bulgaria. In the circumstances, I shall not say anything further. I believe that the opinion of the House will be favorable to the ratification of the four remaining treaties, because it has unanimously approved of the Treaty of Peace (Italy) Bill. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3139 {:#debate-25} ### TREATY OF PEACE (HUNGARY) BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-25-0} #### Second Reading Motion (by **Mr. Calwell)** agreed to - >That the bill be now read a second time. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3139 {:#debate-26} ### TREATY OF PEACE (FINLAND) BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-26-0} #### Second Reading Motion (by **Mr. Calwell)** agreed to - >That the bill be now read a second time. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3139 {:#debate-27} ### TREATY OF PEACE (BULGARIA) BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-27-0} #### Second Reading Motion (by **Mr. Calwell)** agreed to - >That the bill be now read a second time. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3139 {:#debate-28} ### COMMONWEALTH PUBLIC SERVICE BILL (No. 2) 1947 {:#subdebate-28-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 20th November *(vide* page 2374), on motion by **Mr. Chifley** - >That the bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3139 {:#debate-29} ### BEER EXCISE BILL (No. 2) 1947 {:#subdebate-29-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 20th November *(vide* page 2374), on motion by **Mr. Pollard** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- This bill and the three that will follow it will effect administrative changes. This bill clarifies the position relating to the licensing of brewers and provides that they shall at all times be licensed in accordance with the law. Ihope that it does not require the brewersof hop beer and other temperance drinks to be licensed. It does not seem that it does. The Opposition supports the bill. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3140 {:#debate-30} ### DISTILLATION BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-30-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 20th November *(vide* page 2375), on motion by **Mr. Pollard** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- This is only a minor bill. It is proposed to revert to the provisions that were in existence before 1923 when the principal act was amended to obviate the necessity for the licensing of small stills of 1- gallon capacity and under for the distillation of spirits. It has been found that the law is being evaded and that it is necessary to revert to the former practice. Other machinery amendments are made. No further comment is necessary because the measure is brought down merely to ensure that the law shall be enforced. The Opposition supports it. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3140 {:#debate-31} ### SPIRITS BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-31-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 20th November *(vide* page 2375), on motion by **Mr. Pollard** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- This is a bill to enable methylated spirits to be used in medicines for external use as distinct from liniments. The Opposition supports it. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3140 {:#debate-32} ### EXCISE BILL 1947 {:#subdebate-32-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 20th November *(vide* page 2376), on motion by **Mr. Pollard** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-32-0-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- This is a minor administrative bill to amend section 12 of the principal act to enable the removal of , a portion of a State from the jurisdiction of the Collector of Customs for that State to the control of the Collector of Customs for an adjoining State. The bill also brings into being a more modern method of marking packages containing tobacco products. The Opposition supports the bill. Question resolved in the afiirmative. Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - *by leave* - read a third time. {: .page-start } page 3140 {:#debate-33} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-33-0} #### New Guinea Motion (by **Mr. Chifley)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-33-0-s0 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- I have received from a reliable source information about affairs in New Guinea of such a serious character that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** ought to place it under the notice of the Minister for External Territories **(Mr. Ward)** in order that he may obtain an immediate report on it. The information is as follows: - >The most active political propagandist in Port Moresby to-day is a man named Leighton. He is in the employ of the Administration. He is called locally "Director of Shipping" - but in my opinion he probably is merely the agent of the Australian Shipping Board. **Mr. Leighton** definitely was a steward aboard ships which traded on the Australian coast and, as far as any one knows, this is his chief qualification to be a director of shipping. It is understood that he held some commissioned post in the Army during the war. He is undoubtedly a protege of **Mr. E.** J. Ward and directed one or two of **Mr. Ward's** election campaigns. He is a very active agent of the Labour party in Port Moresby and recently has organized two or three political meetings, attended by both Europeans and natives. > >It is reported that last May Day when he was travelling on a ship either going to or coming from Papua, he was prominent in the celebration of May Day and wore a medallion, bearing a picture of Joseph Stalin on his lapel. He is regarded in Port Moresby as the exponent of the extreme left. > >About a month ago a representative of the Australian Seamen's Union arrived in Port Moresby by air and undertook the organization of the native truck drivers into a union of some kind. It is believed that he obtained money as union fees from a number of these natives. He has returned south and it is believed that he has laid the foundations of a Transport Union there, which will be closely allied with the Communist Australian Seamen's Union. During his stay in Port Moresby this man (whose name I could not obtain) was closely associated with Leighton. > >There is no doubt that the Administration, by its passive attitude, is encouraging promulgation of Communist doctrine among the natives. For example, a well-known native who served on Australian naval craft during the war went out to the Delta Division in recent months and there established Communist settlements. He announced that the Europeans were to be withdrawn from Papua and that the, natives would take charge. He deprived the Administration police of their uniforms and set up his own police force. He even went to the Port Romilly saw-mill and ordered that it be closed down. He got money from the natives for the establishment of a navy. Finally, the missionaries in the district protested to Port Moresby about this man's activities and he was taken to Port Moresby and questioned. He was found to be in possession of a quantity of Communist literature. The Administration did nothing with him, however, and he was released and is believed to be carrying on propaganda among the natives. > >There is a good deal of this kind of thing going on and that the attitude of the natives towards Europeans is steadily becoming worse. > >I have been much interested in the replies of Ward and Chifley to your questions about shortage of essential goods inRabaul. I can assure you that Colonel Allen's statements were not exaggerated. I have had letters from three of four other people in the Rabaul district, all to the same effect - that they are desperately short of all essential supplies. The Minister should not delay going to New Guinea to clear up the position. He should take with him a representative of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia, as he said that he would do if one were nominated. The Federal Executive of the League advises me that it has written to the Minister asking whether that is so and whether he will agree to a representative of the league accompanying him to New Guinea. When he goes there, I hope the Minister will make inquiries into the activities of the public servant named by my informant. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 3141 {:#debate-34} ### PAPERS The following papers were pre sented : - >Australian National Airlines Act - Second Annual Report, including Financial Accounts, by the Australian National Airlines Commission, for year 1946-47. > >Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations- Order - War service land settlement - Queensland (dated 11th November, 1947.) National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations - Order - No.63. National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 3122 (substitute copy), 3164, 3165, 3168-3177, 3183. National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 149, 150. Order - Control of Tinplate (No. 2). House adjourned at 10.58 p.m. {: .page-start } page 3141 {:#debate-35} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated.: -* United Nations : Minorities of Nationals. Medicalservices. Loan Conversions : Morgan Stanley and Company. It should be explained that Morgan Stanley and Company were not the sole underwriters. They were the leaders of a group of underwriters comprising about 80 financial houses. In floating the loans selling agents were appointed by the underwriters to sell the securities of such loans. The underwriting commission covered payments to these selling agents and the associated underwriters, as well as commission to Morgan Stanley and Company as arrangers of the operations. Morgan Stanley and Company were underwriters only and have completed their underwriting operations in connexion with these loans. The agents in the United States of America for the Commonwealth dealing with the payment of interest from time to time and the purchase of securities of the loans out of Sinking Fund moneys are J. P. Morgan and Company. Associated with them in various loans are the National City Bank of New York and the Chase National Bank. Morgan Stanley and Company are not identical with J. P. Morgan and Company. They operate as entirely separate companies. {:#subdebate-35-0} #### Australian Prisoners of War : Reparations {: #subdebate-35-0-s0 .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES s asked the Minister for the Army, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has his attention been drawn to the request of ex-servicemen who were prisoners of war in Japan that a claim be made against the Japanese Government for compensation for privations suffered by them ? 1. Will he make a statement on the matter before final peace talks with Japan are concluded? {: #subdebate-35-0-s1 .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr Chambers:
Minister for the Army · ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and 2. The question as to whether a special claim for reparations will be made in respect of ill-treatment of ex-prisoners of war is a question of Government policy which will no doubt require a Cabinet decision and then probably only after the views of the United Kingdom and/or other Allied governments interested in the Japanese peace treaty have been obtained. The sufferings of Australian prisoners of war inJapanese hands will be borne in mind when reparation claims against Japan are being considered at the Allied Peace Conference. {:#subdebate-35-1} #### Streptomycin {: #subdebate-35-1-s0 .speaker-KEP} ##### Mr Falkinder: r asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, *upon notice -* >In relation to the drug streptomycin which is urgently needed for treatment of meningitis, will he supply information in relation to *(a)* the quantity imported, (b) the quantity produced or proposed to be produced locally, (c) the quantity estimated tobe sufficient for Australia's needs, (d) its distribution, including the percentage of supplies allotted to the various States, (e) the estimated cost of production, (f) the price on sale to the public of (i) the imported drug and (ii) the locallyproduced drug, *(g)* the date when local production will begin, and (A) the duty being charged on imported supplies and the rate of such duty? {: #subdebate-35-1-s1 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway:
ALP -- The Minister for Health and Social Services has supplied the following information: - >Influenzal meningitis and tuberculous meningitis are the forms of this malady which respond best when treated with streptomycin. («.) Quantity imported - 17,250 grams since l«st July. 1947. (6) Streptomycin is produced locally at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in small quantities which are used only for experimental and research purposes, (c) The quantity coming into Australia is limited by the export licences granted by -the Government of United States of America. How much is required to satisfy Australia's needs is not known. It is only a limited number of ( of tuberculosis which benefit by treatment with streptomycin. (d) Import licences are granted to importing houses on condition that preference is given to the requirements of public- hospitals and of thi Repatriation Commission. When these requirements have been satis lied the balance of the drug is distributed by the importing houses to general practitioners. No percentage is fixed for any State, (c) The estimated cost of production is not known. (/) (i) The price to the public has varied from £3 to 25s. a gram, (ii) The locally produced drug is not for sale (see answer to question (6)) (9) The date when local production for general use will begin is not known. *ih)* No duty is being charged on imported supplies of streptomycin. Before November, 1946. n duty of 1"> pi'r cent, was imposed, b since that date its importation has been free ot duty. {:#subdebate-35-2} #### Armed Forces: Recruiting {: #subdebate-35-2-s0 .speaker-KEP} ##### Mr Falkinder: r asked the Minister acting for the Minister for Defence, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What lias been the expenditure during the last year on advertisements, inviting recruits for (a) the Royal Australian Navy. (6) the Army, and (c) the Royal Australian Air Force? 1. How many recruits have entered each of the three services in the same period? {: #subdebate-35-2-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The following information has been supplied by the Departments of the Navy, Army and Air : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Expenditure during the twelve months ended the 31st October, 1947, on advertisements for recruits! - Royal Australian Navy, £9,033; Army, £.12,935; Royal Australian Air Force, £9,300 ; total, £31,2G8. 1. The numbers of recruits who have entered each of the three Services during the twelve months ended 31st October, 1947, are as follows: - Royal Australian Navy, 2,149; Army, 3,081 ; Royal Australian Air Force, 4,047; total, 9,277. Pacific War: Operations in Borneo. {: #subdebate-35-2-s2 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP y. - On the 20th November, the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr.** Falkinder) asked the following question : - >Has the Prime Minister seen press reports of a statement made by **Sir Thomas** Blarney to the effect that in 1945 the Australian Command prepared a plan which would have obviated . the subsequent tragedy of the " death march " from Sandakan. That plan involved the employment of Australian paratroops but, according to **Sir Thomas** Blarney, it had to be abandoned because aircraft were not available. Will the Prime Minister state the reason why aircraft could not be provided at that time and obtain a full report for the information of honorable members? I have been informed by the Army authorities as follows: - >There is no record at Army Head-quarters of the personal action taken by General **Sir Thomas** Blarney in this matter. The Army authorities state that the records held by them do not disclose any operational plan for the rescue of prisoners of war from Sandakan in 1945. Also, there is no record of any report or representations by General Blarney to the Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, to whom he had the right of direct access and communication on operational matters affecting the Australian Army. Similarly, no report or submission was made to the Advisory War Council by himself or his deputy. I mention this only to show that the matter did not receive consideration on a governmental level, nor was there any request for representations by the Government to the Commander-in-Chief, South-West Pacific Area in support of any plan. As I stated before, General MacArthur was responsible for the control of operations in the South-West Pacific Area in accordance with the overall strategy for the defeat of the Japanese, and I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by pursuing the matter further. Postal Department: Newspapers; Food- Parcels. {: #subdebate-35-2-s3 .speaker-KEU} ##### Mr Falstein: n asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, *upon v alice -* >Will the Postmaster -General .cause an examination to be made of Australian daily newspapers to ascertain whether any newspaper has breached the statutory requirements regarding the ratio of news to advertisements and, if the examination reveals that breaches have been committed, cause prosecutions to be launched ? {: #subdebate-35-2-s4 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell:
ALP -- The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information :-- >One of the conditions governing the registration of any publication for transmission through the post as a newspaper is that it must consist in substantial part of news and articles relating to current topics or of religious, technical or practical information. The make-up of all Australian daily newspapers, which are registered under the Post and Telegraph Act, is under the constant notice of departmental officers, and there is no evidence in the possession of the department which would justify deregistration of any such newspaper on the ground that the proportion of advertisements to other matter is excessive. {: #subdebate-35-2-s5 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell:
ALP l. - On the 25th November, the honorable member for Flinders **(Mr. Ryan)** asked the following question : - >In view of the numerous reports that food parcels to Britain are taking from three to six months to reach the addressee, can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General advise me how long parcels lodged in Australia are retained before their despatch by ship to the United Kingdom? Is the Government aware that food parcels for the United Kingdom often take up to five or six months to reach their destination? Is the Government taking any steps to expedite the despatch of Australian food parcels to the United Kingdom? In this connexion, is it a fact, as reported in the press recently, that a. number of ships returning to the United Kingdom have not carried capacity cargoes ? The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information: - >The Australian Post Office deals expeditiously with the enormous volume of food parcels which is posted for transmission to the United Kingdom. Full advantage is taken of the space available on all vessels sailing for Great Britain, but, due to the abnormal shipping conditions which still prevail, there is sometimes no alternative but to store parcels until they can be placed on suitable vessels. > >The importance of sending food parcels forward in an orderly flow is fully appreciated by the department and, if necessary, parcels mails are conveyed by rail from one State to another to avoid delay in shipment. > >During the early part of 1947, unavoidable delays of several weeks occurred because shipping accommodation was not available, but the position has improved substantially since then and the maximum holding period in Australia rarely exceeds two weeks. > >It is not always possible to despatch the whole of the parcels mails on fast steamers travelling on direct routes, and slower vessels must also be utilized, with the result that up to three months have been occupied in some instances in sea conveyance alone. The average period taken in sea transport is about eight weeks, however, and some consignments have reached their destination within five weeks from the date of despatch. > >A little delay is to be expected in the handling and delivery of parcels in the United Kingdom, where a great strain is placed on the postal service because of the heavy shipments of parcels mails which are constantly arriving from Australia and other countries. This matter has been the subject of discussion with the British Administration, however, and there is reason for believing that the majority of the parcels are delivered to addressees within a few days of their arrival in that country. > >The Australian Post Office is watching the matter closely, and will continue to take all possible steps to see that parcels are not held in the Commonwealth for a longer period than is necessary in the light of the shipping facilities available. {:#subdebate-35-3} #### Australian National Film Board {: #subdebate-35-3-s0 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: n asked the Minister for information, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Who are the present members of the Australian National Film Board? 1. What was the total staff associated with this organization at (a) the 30th October, 1946, and (b) the 30th October, 1947? 2. What was spent on (a) salaries, and (b) general expenses of such staff during last financial year and what is the estimate for this financial year? 3. Is any revenue received as a result of the activities of this organization. If so. what amount was received last financial year? {: #subdebate-35-3-s1 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. **Chairman** - **Mr. E.** G. Btonney. Members - Messrs K. Binns, T. H. E. Heyes," J. A. Tonkin, L. Bromilow, **Dr. T.** L. Robertson and **Dr. H.** S. Wyndham. 1. The total staff of the Films Division of the Department of Information, which is the production authority for the board, was, on the dates mentioned: - (a) 54, (b) 55. 2. 1940-47- (a) £27,798, (b) £40,311. 1947-48- (a) £34,000, (b) £32,900. 3. Yes. Although made primarily to publicize Australia overseas and for adult education purposes locally, board films are being sought for general exhibition. Last year they earned approximately £4,500 overseas, and £500 in Australia. The revenue is improving as the films are becoming known and this total will be increased considerably during the current financial year. Banking : Australian-owned Banks in New Zealand. {: #subdebate-35-3-s2 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: n asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has the Government sent any Commonwealth officers or Commonwealth Bank officers to New Zealand or does it propose to send any such officers to discuss with the New Zealand Government authorities action in relation to branches of the Australian trading banks in the Dominion, following the passage of the Banking Bill through the Commonwealth Parliament? . 1. Does he intend to have any discussions with the New Zealand Government during his approaching visit to the Dominion? {: #subdebate-35-3-s3 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No. 1. There is no such intention at present. {: #subdebate-35-3-s4 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr Lang: g asked the Treasurer, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has the Government yet decided on the policy regarding Australian-owned banks operating in overseas countries? 1. Does it propose to continue operating branches of such banks in New Zealand ? 2. In view of the action it proposes taking against the branches of the New Zealand Governmentowned Bank of New Zealand operating in this country, has it ascertained whether any reprisals are likely? 3. Would the possibility of such action affect the valuation of assets owned by the Australian private banks in New Zealand? {: #subdebate-35-3-s5 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No. 1. See answer to No. 1. 2. The Government does not anticipate that any circumstances are likely to arise that would cause what the honorable member describes as reprisals. 3. See answer to No. 3. {:#subdebate-35-4} #### Coal: Exploration of Resources {: #subdebate-35-4-s0 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr Bernard Corser:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND r asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. In view of the continuing acute coal situation in the several States and the necessity to exploit every available source of coal supply, has the Government taken any action to investigate the location, capacity, quality, mining and electricity-producing possibilities of second-grade coal? 1. If so, what was the result of such investigation?. 2. If not, will he arrange for an investigation along the lines suggested? {: #subdebate-35-4-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - 1., 2., and 3. Exploration of coal resources is going on almost continually throughout Australia. 0:.a of the principal objectives of this exploration is to discover coal-bearing; areas which may lend themselves to immediate development. Such work is going on at present under State or joint Commonwealth-State auspices in all States of the Commonwealth. In Victoria the State Electricity Commission is doing everything possible to expand production of brown coal and at the present time has representatives in the Philippine Islands who are endeavouring to obtain addi tional machinery. Other brown coal deposits in Victoria are also being exploited. A considerable amount of boring; for black coal is being done by the State Mines Department. The South Australian Government is expanding production from Leigh Creek and additional quantities of coal from New South Wales have recently been allocated to the Commonwealth Railways in order to carry the additional Leigh Creek production. At Leigh Creek also, geophysical surveys are being carried out for the South Australian Government by the Commonwealth in search of additional coal-bearing areas. The State has several drilling plants operating in this area. The Government of Queensland is now negotiating with British mining interests with a view to expanding production from the open cut at Blair Athol. For some time past the Western Australian Government has been carrying on prospecting operations on a coal seam at Greenough River. The Commonwealth has recently completed a geophysical survey of the Collie area by means of which the possible coal-bearing land has been defined and it is now proposed to test the area further by drilling. In New South Wales the Joint Coal Board is accumulating additional open cut machinery and is actively prospecting suitable open cut areas. As to underground mining the available labour, materials and equipment are fully engaged in the development and production of higher grade coals. Consequently the object of the Joint "Coal Board is to develop the expansion of underground coal production, concentrating attention upon those mines where good quality coal can be produced with the minimum of labour, materials and equipment. Overseas Missions. {: #subdebate-35-4-s2 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP y. - On the 9th October, the honorable member for Franklin **(Mr. Falkinder)** asked the following question : - >Yesterday the Prime Minister furnished a list of visits abroad of Ministers and members of this Parliament since October, 1941. Can the Prime Minister supply me with a further list showing the actual expenditure by each Minister or member of Parliament? "Where members or Ministers proceed abroad as a delegation sometimes necessarily, expenses are incurred as a whole and it is difficult for the amount attributable to each member of the delegation to be allotted separately. In regard to the honorable member's question, however, the .available records have been examined and the attached statement sets out, so far as it is practicable to ascertain, the amounts - including both his personal and official commitments - paid on behalf of Minister or member of Parliament who proceeded abroad on official missions during the period referred to.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 December 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.