House of Representatives
18 February 1948

18th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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– B - By way of preface to a question which I wish to address to the Minister acting for the AttorneyGeneral, who, I understand, is absent, I point out that in November, 1946, I asked a question as to what action had been taken in regard to what has become known as the “ Keane trunks mystery “.


– Order! The House has already been informed on two occasions that there is no such case. The honorable member is entitled only to give such explanation as will make his question clear.


– In November, 1946, I asked a question relating to the seizure by customs officers of goods consigned to Australia which were owned by the late Senator Keane when he was Minister for Trade and Customs. I was informed by the Attorney-General that, following investigations, certain proceed ings had been instituted. On the 11th April, 1947, in the Special Federal Court, a man was convicted and fined on a charge of having evaded customs duty on imported goods. Notice of appeal against the conviction was given. Repeated questions asked by me in this ‘ House since that date have failed to elicit what has transpired in relation to the hearing of that appeal. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the replies given to my questions, and the long period that has elapsed since notice of appeal was given, will the Minister acting for the Attorney-General inform” me of the latest developments in this matter? Can he state when the appeal is likely to come up for hearing; and will he explain the reason for the long delay in the appeal coming before the court? Will he also advise me what was the date of the seizure by customs officers of goods from the United States addressed to Mrs. R. V. Keane, widow of the late Senator Keane? What was the date of the lodging of an appeal by Goldberg, and when is it expected that the appeal will be heard ?

Minister for Labour and National Service · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP

– I shall have to reiterate what I said in answer to the question which the honorable gentleman has reiterated this afternoon. As the honorable member says, he asked a question in November.

Mr Harrison:

– November, 1946.


– On the last occasion he asked his question, I informed him that a gentleman named Goldberg was convicted. That conviction had nothing to do with any case known as the “ Keane case”. Goldberg appealed against the conviction. He, himself, askedfor an adjournment from time to time because he was hot prepared to go on with his appeal. Later, a definite date was fixed for the hearing, but at that time counsel for Mr. Goldberg suffered a bereavement in his family and that caused further delay. Subsequently, the law vacation intervened, and, later, the AttorneyGeneral’s Department was to some degree responsible for a short adjournment because the departmental officers were waiting for Mr. Shand to return from England. The position at present is that the law vacation is now over and arrangements have been made for the case to come on for hearing. I assure the honorable member that even should Goldberg’s counsel desire a further adjournment, the Attorney-General’s Department is anxious to proceed with the case and will endeavour to haveit brought on because it is tired of the long delay. I assure the honorable member that if we have our way the case will come on within a few days.

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Braund Treatment


– Has the

Minister representing the Minister for Health seen reports in the Australian press of Mr. John Braund’s claim that he has through years of research found a ‘definite cure for cancer? Is he aware that the governments of New South Wales and Victoria have appointed committees to investigate the Braund cancer cure? If so, in view of ‘the importance of the matter to the many thousands of unfortunate sufferers and to humanity generally, has the Australian Government taken any steps to co-operate with the New South Wales and Victorian Governments in their investigations? Should the investigations prove the Braund treatment to be an effective cure, does the Australian Government intend to provide financial assistance in order that the treatment may be made a Commonwealth matter to be controlled by the Australian Government ?


– Yes, I have seen the reports in the newspapers, and so has the Minister for Health. As far as I know there have been no direct negotiations between the Commonwealth Minister for Health or the Commonwealth Health Department and Mr. Braund or the State Ministers for Health or Departments of Health, but I am certain that he is watching the position closely and that if his co-operation is needed or desired he will give it. If any really satisfactory progress can be made, I am certain that the Commonwealth Health Department and the Australian Government will not be lacking in co-operating with any one in tackling the terrible cancel scourge.

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– Restrictions have been imposed upon Australian industry and especially upon country people by the renewed severity of petrol rationing, which the Prime Minister has stated has been imposed to conserve dollar currency. I ask the Prime Minister whether it is not a. fact that petrol supplies are available in the Netherlands East Indies that could be purchased with Australian currency and would not necessitate any drain on the dollar reserves. What efforts, if any, has the Government made to secure the necessary increased supplies from the Netherlands East Indies? Is it not a. fact that the principal obstacle to importing any Netherlands East Indies petrol is the ban imposed upon Dutch shipping by the Communist-controlled Waterside Workers Federation? Does the Government directly or indirectly support that ban ? Ifnot, does it propose to do anything to enforce theauthority of the Parliament through the Government of the country so that we may be enabled to draw our industrial fuel from what appears to be the most convenient available source?


-I do not think the honorable member is fully aware of all the facts concerned with the production of petrol in the Netherlands East Indies. I do not know what developments have taken place in the last few weeks, but Mr. Avery, the general manager of the company most interested in the production of petrol, particularly refined petrol, in Balikapan saw me some time ago and indicated that he hoped that, if his company could get certain equipment, a list of which was sent to the Government and’ was examined by the Minister for Supply and Shipping to see if it was possible ‘to supply the equipment from Australia, it would be possible within eight or nine months to provide Australia with petrol supplies. It was found that we could not spare the necessary equipment. Of course, the possibility of, our drawing supplies from the Netherlands East Indies was dependent on the ban mentioned by the honorable member having been removed by that time. We would have been glad to give assistance in regard to equipment, but there was not sufficient available to enable us to do so. We indicated to Mr. Avery, who is known to some honorable members, that we were anxious to’ obtain supplies from the sterling area. However, we-can never be certain these days what comprises easy currency areas and hard currency areas,because, from time to time, they tend to change from one to the other, or from hard to semi-hard currency areas. From the assurances given to me by Mr. Avery, i t would ‘ appear that we can deal on a sterling basis, and we indicated that we would be glad to assist in any way possible. As to the ban, we hoped that the political difficulties which have arisen in the Netherlands, East Indies would be adjusted before long and that any restrictions might be removed so that trade could be carried on between the two countries. Finally, I inform the honorable member that the Government has not been a party to the imposition of any bans.


– Is the Prime Minister aware that the “ Nats “ organization in Queensland-


– Order ! That is an unknown body.


– I mean the Liberal party of Australia and its off-shoot the Queensland People’s party are paying organizers a car allowance of £4 10s. a week to organize against the best government ever known in this country.


– Order !


– In view of rationing of petrol to the people, will the Prime Minister have the noxious practice stopped ?


– I have not had the circumstances referred to by the honorable gentleman brought to my notice. All political organizations and trade union organizations have, in certain circumstances, been given certain petrol allowances to carry out what are regarded as their normal duties. I do not know of any special favour being shown, to the Opposition parties in Queensland. All I can say is that the, policy of the Government is that reasonable treatment shall be given to all sections of the community regardless of politics. However, I will ascertain whether any undue favoritism is being shown.

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Stabilization Scheme


– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture read in the press a statement by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture that three or four’ wheat-growing States might consider a wheat plan independent of the Commonwealth? Has the honorable gentleman received any advice from the States or from the Victorian Minister for Agriculture on this subject? If so, what are the details of the plan? Does the Minister know whether wheat-growers’ organizations have expressed any views on State pools?

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · ALP

– I have seen the statement attributed to the Victorian Minister for Agriculture. He is entitled to speculate as to the future marketing arrangements for the wheat industry. I have not received any information -from him regarding the attitude of Victoria, nor have E had any intimation from any other Minister for Agriculture as to what the attitude of his State will be towards stabilization. The honorable member will recollect that at the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council held in Canberra last week, the State Ministers for Agriculture were told in no uncertain language, but courteously and firmly, exactly what the Commonwealth’s proposals are for a wheat stabilization plan. Contrary to the impression created by the press, discussions at the Australian Agricultural Council did hot break down. Naturally, the State Ministers for Agriculture, including the Victorian Minister, will indicate to their respective Cabinets what the situation is, and eventually, no doubt, intimate to the Australian Government what they propose to do in respect of its latest wheat stabilization plans.


– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture make a statement to the House at an early date setting out the position which now exists, in the view of the Government, in relation to the marketing of wheat and the prospects for a stabilization plan in the light of the recent conference which took place in Canberra?


– I shall be glad to give consideration to the honorable member’s suggestion.

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– Just before the Christmas recess, a matter concerning allegations made against the honorable member for the Northern Territory was referred to the Committee of Privileges. I now desire to askthe Prime Minister when may we expect the report of the Committee of Privileges which, I understand, has sat and investigated the m atter ?


– Order ! I regret that I must rule the right honorable gentleman’s question out of order. This is not a question which concerns any Minister or the Ministry. The Committee of Privileges is not a government committee, but a committee of the Parliament, and the only person who can be questioned about the matter is the chairman of it.

Mr Menzies:

– The chairman of the committee?


– Yes.

Later :


– As the chairman of the Committee of Privileges, the AttorneyGeneral, is not present to-day, may I put to you, Mr. Speaker, the question that I have just addressed to the Prime Minister, with the request that you convey it to the Attorney-General ?


– As I have pointed out, the Committee of Privileges is a committee of this House, and in normal circumstances the chairman of any such committee may be questioned. In view of the absence of the Attorney-General, I undertake to obtain the information sought, and supply it to the right honorable gentleman.

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– I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether it is correct, as stated by the Leader of the Australian Country party, that, in adopting the price of 2s. per lb. for commercial butter for its five-year plan of a guaranteed price to the dairy-farmer, the Government ignored the majority report of the committee which investigated the cost ofproduction in the industry?


– Whilst it is true that a section of the committee recommended a payment of 2s. l½d. per lb. commercial butter fat, it is also true that the full committee in computing costs provided for the payment of interest at the rate of 4½ per cent. in respect of the equity of dairy-farmers in their properties to cover production costs. In view of the fact that the Government is guaranteeing a price of 2s. per lb. for five years, it is removing most of the production risk and giving considerable security to dairymen. This will allow farmers interest at 3¼ per cent. on equities, which is the interest payable on Commonwealth bonds. In these circumstances, the guaranteed price was adjusted back to 2s. per lb., which is considered to be generous. I may say that when the Government’s proposal was announced, dairy-farmers and their representatives in this country, almost without exception, applauded the decision and expressed great satisfaction with it.

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– In view of the state ment attributed to the Premier of South Australia that apple-growers in that State are being penalized by the exclusion of South Australia from the apple export

Commerce and Agriculture state the reasons for this action?


– I do not consider, and the Government does not consider, that the apple-growers of South Australia will he penalized because all apples for export to the United Kingdom and elsewhere this season will be drawn from Tasmania and Western Australia. The reason for confining the quota to these States is that the quantity of apples ordered is limited. The United Kingdom is to take 3,000,000 bushels. Over a long period, the Australian Government has been paying Western Australia and Tasmania for millions of bushels of apples which, because of the lack of export markets and the limited demand in this country, could not be consumed. Because of the uncertainty of the export position this season, the .Government decided- some months ago that, as a measure of assistance to Western Australia and Tasmania, the two States whose economies depend largely upon apple growing, the acquisition scheme should be continued in respect of these States. As the Commonwealth is using taxpayers’ money to pay for this fruit, it is considered right that the Government should recoup itself as far as possible this year from the export markets. I do not think that .South Australian fruitgrowers will be adversely affected because’ a perusal of interstate and local market returns received by. South Australian fruit-growers in years during which export markets have not been available indicates ihat they have been excellent.

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– I direct a question to the Prime Minister concerning the following statement which appeared, in the Sydney press this morning : -

Canberra, Tuesday. - It was stated to-day on behalf of the Department of External Affairs that Australia was not concerned in any way in events affecting British sovereignty in the Falkland Islands. The areas in dispute are described as outside Australian spheres of interest.

Does the Prime Minister subscribe to the view of the Department of External Affairs that the Falkland Islands are not in Australia’s spheres of interest, because they are vital to the protection of the sea quota this season, can the Minister for routes in the South Atlantic, as was demonstrated in World War II. and particularly in World War I., when they were used by Admiral Sturdee as a base to destroy the German Pacific Fleet? Is it the policy of the Australian Government to consider certain parts of the Empire as “ outside our spheres of interest “ ? If so, does not the Prime Minister consider that this is imperilling the solidarity of the. Empire and thus endangering Australia’s security? Will the Government send an Australian cruiser to the Falkland Islands to stand by Great Britain and demonstrate that the Empire is one and indivisible?


– I have not seen the statement in the Sydney press mentioned by the honorable member and I am not aware of any statement having been made on behalf of the Government in the matter. If somebody suggested, that Australia did not have any direct controlling interest in that area, I think that would be, in a physical sense, true. It is true, of course, that the interests ‘of the United Kingdom affect Australia’s interests. Therefore, we always have a friendly interest and a desire to help when the United Kingdom is affected. I think that can be completely clear. Finally, the honorable member asked whether any warship should be sent to the Falkland Islands from this country. This, of course, would be a matter of consultation between the Governments. No consideration has been given to such a proposal, but if some suggestions are made in that direction they will receive the attention of the Government.

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– I rise to make a personal explanation. On Saturday last, the Sydney Morning Herald published in its “ Granny “ column the following statement : -

Mr. Max Falstein has asked Randwick Council to approve of a project of his to build a block of flats in the area at a cost of ?22,000.

That statement is quite untrue. When it appeared, I telephoned Mr. Henderson, the general manager of the Sydney

Morning Herald, who expressed profuse apologies for its publication. He also showed deep concern that the Sydney Morning Herald should have published information without first of all having verified the facts. However, on the Monday, the next day of publication, this aggravation was added to the false statement which had already been made -

Mr. Falstein, M.P., denies that he applied to theRand wick Council on his ownbehalf. . . He says he made the application on behalf of his mother.

Still without verification of the facts! Such a statement would seem innocuous if conditions were normal, but, having regard to the fact that interest in matters of this nature has been heightened considerably by recent press accounts of court proceedings in at least two States of the Commonwealth, I consider that it is necessary for me to make a personal explanation in connexion with it. The plain fact is that the flats for which approval was sought are proposed to be built by my mother. The only reason why I was involved at all was that, because of ill health, my mother has been away in the Blue Mountains convalescing, and, as far as I know, will not return to Sydney until the end of this week. That is the only reason why I was interested in putting thematter before the Randwick Council. I have not the means to build a block of flats costing £22,000. It is necessary for me to say these things because some people may have the idea that membership of the Parliament affords an opportunity to exploit more lucrative fields of remuneration than are evident. The vilest aspect of the matter is that, if the Sydney Morning Herald had taken the trouble to make a telephone call to the town clerk or the building inspector of Randwick Municipal Council, it could have ascertained all the facts. The author of the falsehood, Mr. Deamer, published the paragraph in question without verifying what he wrote. However, I have taken the trouble to verify the fact that Mr. Deamer has been absent from his employment many times-


– Order ! The honorable member’s remarks are not connected with the subject of his personal explanation.


– . . . by reason of drink. However, I want to assure my constituents and members of the Parliament that the statement in the press, of which I complain, is untrueand unwarranted.

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– A report has appeared in the press that the Government proposes to acquire a large area in the heart of the City of Melbourne for the construction of Commonwealth offices. Can the Minister for the Interior inform me whether the Government had any consultation with the Victorian Government or the Melbourne City Council before reaching that decision? If not, does it propose to discuss the matter with the authorities I have mentioned before proceeding with its plans? Will the Minister make available to members of the Parliament interested in the matter a complete statement of the Government’s intentions, and details of the plans of the offices it proposes to erect ?

Minister for the Interior · KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– In the first instance, a sub-committee of Cabinet comprising Ministers representing Victorian electorates was appointed to select a suitable site in the City of Melbourne. Later, the committee made a recommendation to Cabinet, and, on the evidence submitted,Cabinet decided to acquire the site referred to by the honorable member for Fawkner. The acquisition proceeded along similar lines to most acquisitions of land, and the Government has nothing to hide. Any information which’ the honorable member desires concerning the transaction can be made available.

Mr Menzies:

– Have any plans been prepared for the building?


– The Department of Worksand Housing is preparing plans, but they have not yet been adopted.

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Shortage of Feed Wheat


– In view of the im portant contract which the Government has recently made for the export of large quantities of eggs to the United Kingdom, and the consequent need to increase local production, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture assist ( poultryfarmers by increasing their supply of wheat? Will he also arrange with State governments for increased quantities of wire netting and other materials to be made available for purchase by poultryfarmers?


– The Government is aware of the implications of its contract for an increased annual export of eggs to the United Kingdom, and I can assure the honorable member for Robertson, wh.0’ is keenly interested in the industry, that an increased quantity of wheat will ultimately be made available to poultryfarmers. A survey of the situation is being made. Every possible assistance given to the industry to assist it in discharging its obligations. This contract, providing for an increase in the number of eggs to be supplied to the United Kingdom, will not involve an expansion of our total production by more than 40 per cent. Those who are under the impression that it will necessitate, immediately, a threefold increase in wheat fed to poultry, are not correct. The immediate increase in wheat consumption will be small; the main increase will probably take place next year and in the years to follow, possibly at a time when Australian .wheat-growers will be very happy fo receive the handsome home-consumption price lately guaranteed by this Government. I shall be glad to take up the question of wire netting with the various States, which are, of course, the controllers of distribution within their own areas.

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– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture define the Government’s attitude with regard to the export of whatever quantity of next season’s, grain sorghum and maize is in excess of anticipated local requirements?


– The Government is closely examining the matter of the export of grains other than wheat. Having regard to the demands for Australian grains made by poultry breeders and others requiring stock feed, it is recog nized that an endeavour should be made to ensure that growers of grains other than wheat make a fair contribution to the stock feeding requirements of this country. I discussed this question with the Agricultural Council recently. An examination is being made of the prospects of setting up a Miscellaneous Grains Export Control Board, which could perhaps clearly define what proportion of each grain, when there is a ready export market, should be allotted to the local market. That would enable both feeders and exporters to know precisely where, they stood.

As to the sorghum situation in Queensland, the right honorable gentleman knows that it was recently decided to issue an export licence for 600,000 bushels under certain conditions. When that amount has been cleared and when it has been demonstrated that there is an additional surplus and that a fair share of the available sorghum is being placed on the local market, the question of additional export licences will be determined.

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Friendly Society Benefits


– Is the Minister for Repatriation aware that ex-servicemen entering repatriation hospitals are’ deprived of the benefits’ of payments by friendly societies to which they may belong because the department refuses to issue certificates declaring them medically unfit for work? The men must be issued with certificates within 48 hours of being declared unfit, they must have further certificates during their period of incapacity, and they must be declared fit by a duly qualified medical officer. These conditions are not being complied with by the repatriation authorities in Queensland. Will the Minister ensure that this anomaly is adjusted ?

Minister for Repatriation · BASS, TASMANIA · ALP

– I am not aware that there is any anomaly or difficulty obtaining in Queensland in regard to certificates, but I shall cause inquiries to be made. I assure the honorable gentleman that the Government will see that no hardship or penalty is imposed on any member of a friendly society, whether he be in Queensland or any other State.

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– Has the Prime Minister read in this morning’s press a report of the statement made by Viscount Bruce in the House of Lords yesterday advocating the establishment of a permanent council of British nations? Does the Prime Minister view this proposal with favour? Has he anything to say on the subject?


– I have not seen the report to which _ the honorable member refers. It had been indicated to me that Viscount Bruce was likely to make a statement covering the subject mentioned. I should’ like an opportunity to study in detail the suggestions he made before approving, or condemning, them’. However, at present I do not believe that anything is to be gained by holding any special . conference covering economic matters.

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– With respect to war gratuity payments, I ask the Trea-. surer the following questions: - Has the all-party committee met and discussed the conditions under which war gratuity shall be paid in future? If so, what is the basis of the alterations, if any, proposed by the committee? Has final consideration been given to the question as to whether service in London is to be regarded as overseas service for the payment of gratuity? What arrangements are being made to bring all entitlements into line where discrepancies occur and financial loss confronts men whose entitlements have been incorrectly issued?


– As I have informed the House on previous occasions, the War Gratuity Act is based on a report of a parliamentary all-party committee on which six returned soldiers sat. I also indicated to the House on a previous occasion that after the Central War Gratuity Board, ‘ of which General Savige is chairman, had an opportunity to examine how the present act works and whether as the result of its operation some hardships, or anomalies, might be occurring, I would consult with the. Leader of the Opposition, the .Leader of the Australian Country party and those members of the all-party committee still available. Mr. Frost, who is now Australia’s representative in Ceylon is not now a member of the House, and, unfortunately, ex-Senator Collett, who was very helpful as a member of the committee, has died in the interim. I shall consult with the leaders of the Opposition parties with a view to calling the committee together with added members to replace those members of the original committee who are not now available. I shall also ask General Savige to be present at meetings of the committee when it might discuss whether, in its opinion, some minor relaxations might be made. The only alteration made recently has been that certain discretion has been exercised with regard to the payment of medical and hospital expenses incurred by those entitled to war gratuity. I assure the honorable member that the aspects which she has mentioned will be examined. I hope within the next few days to have discussions with the leaders of the Opposition parties to see whether it is not possible to get the all-party committee to meet again.

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– In connexion with the conversion loan just floated in London, would the Treasurer supply the following information: - Who were the underwriters employed? Who recommended the underwriters? What is the estimated total cost of underwriting? What would have been the comparable cost of raising a. similar amount on the Australian market? What is the amount that will have to be paid in cash, because the loan is being issued at a discount? Did trading open at a premium? Is the Treasurer in a position to supply the reason why the loan was not repatriated?


– The honorable member, of course, will know that the question of this loan, its conversion or repatriation, is a matter which comes within the jurisdiction of the Loan Council, and that I, as chairman of the Loan Council, .communicate with the State Treasurers with respect to the terms and conditions on which the loan should be converted, or, indeed, whether some, or all, of the loan should be repatriated. It is perfectly true that if the loan be repatriated the necessary funds have to be found by the Commonwealth Bank. I presume that the loan to which the honorable member refers is the £17,000,000 o per cent, sterling interest loan held by New South “Wales. As the honorable member has asked a series of questions, I believe that J should take the opportunity to reply to them in detail, and as this, is a matter for the Loan Council and not the Parliament, I shall later supply him with the information he desires.

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– Last year, during the debate on the Income Tax Assessment Bill, I drew the Prime Minister’s attention to Division 6a of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1941, regarding double taxation on the income of husbands and wives where the husband makes a gift to his wife; and the Prime Minister confirmed the ‘ view that that part of the Income Tax Assessment Act ceased to be in force after the 31st December, 1946, because it was dependent upon the continuance of the original National Security Act. I have now been advised by a constituent that he has been told by an official of the Taxation Department in Sydney, that as the Sydney office had received no confirmation from Canberra as to the true position, ho benefits which the taxpayer would receive by reason of the cessation of that division could be granted. In view of that fact, and having regard to the words of the section and the Prime Minister’s own unequivocal confirmation given to me, will he give peremptory instructions in this matter to all Deputy Taxation Commissioners throughout Australia and advise them of the true position in order that taxpayers may have the benefit of the relief which the law grants to them ?


– First, I make it clear that no Treasurer has ever given directions to Commissioners of Taxation, and neither have I ever done so. The Commissioner of Taxation is responsible directly to the Parliament, and the Parliament has never intended that he should receive directions from the Treasurer. But I will certainly place the point raised by the honorable gentleman before the Commissioner of Taxation. I have no doubt, knowing his generosity, that if some injustice is being done it will .be rectified.

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Proposed Commonwealth Line - Poet Delays


– As all Tasmanian members are desperately interested in the shipping position, I should like to know from the Minister for Transport when we can expect that the Commonwealth Shipping Line will be established?

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

– That is not a matter for the Commonwealth Department of Transport, but 1 will ask the Minister for Supply and Shipping to supply the honorable member with l;!:c information he asks for. m


– It is suggested that many ships now take up to six or seven weeks from the time they enter Sydney Harbour till they clear, the port of Sydney. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping what is the cause of the great- delay in the port of Sydney in the turnabout of ships. What steps, if any, has the Government taken and what steps, if any, does it propose to take to deal with the problem ?

Minister for Defence · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP

– I am not aware of any undue delay in the turnabout of ships in the port of Sydney.

Mr Holt:

– Some have , been there since before the Minister went abroad.


– The honorable member has not produced any evidence of that. The question will be referred to the Minister for Supply and Shipping with a request that an early answer be supplied.

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Queensland Strike


– H Has ‘ it come to the notice of the Prime Minister through the press or otherwise- that the whole of Queensland’s railway service has been held up by a strike and that a passenger and general service has had to be established where possible by the’

Queensland Government? As the service is using tons of petrol and as citizens are liable to heavy penalties if they exceed their ration of petrol by two gallons because of the necessity for conserving supplies, will the Australian Government take action to deal with the Communist strike agitators responsible for such disorganization as well as the waste of petrol, the use of which by Australian citizens the Government has decided to curtail?


– It has come to my notice that there is an industrial disturbance in Queensland. Early last week, the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, sent a telegram to me asking that permits he given for the transport of certain material by air. I understand that a request was also made to the Liquid Fuel Control Board for additional petrol. That matter was dealt with by the Minister for Supply and Shipping under whose control the Liquid Fuel Board operates. I discussed the request for permission to carry certain materials by air with the Minister for Civil Aviation. The request was granted. The granting of the request was indicated to Mr. Hanlon. Further than that, I have received no communication from the Queensland Government on the matter. The dispute comes within the jurisdiction of the Queensland State Arbitration Court. Strange to say, this is the first time. I have heard that the strike was instigated by Communists.

Mr Bernard Corser:

– The Premier of Queensland will tell the right honorable gentleman that it was.


– He may, but he has not told me yet, and I am not aware of the circumstances or the political philosophy of the leaders of the strike. All I can say is that both the Department of Supply and Shipping and the Department of Civil Aviation have been given directions that all the assistance needed by the Premier of Queensland is to be granted.

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Mr.HAMILTON.- I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether 1,021 Allis Chalmers tractors will shortly come into this country as the result of the final arrangement under lend-lease?

Is it also a fact that originally it was intended that 13.9 per cent. of those tractors were to go to Western Australia, and that recently the figure was altered to little better than 2 per cent., which means that of the 1,021 tractors Western Australia will receive only 23, plus possibly another nineteen that have been in dispute for some time with a firm in Queensland? Will the Minister inform the House whether the facts are as stated and say why Western Australia’s quota has been reduced, from 13.9 to about 2 per cent.?


– It is a fact that some tractors will be coming into Australia under the final lend-lease settlement. I assure the honorable member that the allocations as between the States are made impartially. Western Australia will receive its quota from the common tractor pool along with every other State in the Commonwealth.

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Adoption of Children


– Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether the draft of the new ordinance relating to the adoption of children by residents of the Northern Territory has been received from the Attorney-General’s Department? If so, can the Minister indicate when this ordinance will be promulgated, so that, when children are adopted in the Northern Territory, no stigma will be associated with them by reason of information which is at present attached to their birth certificates . and adoption papers, under the terms of the original ordinance, No. 14 of 1935?


– A draft ordinance is now with the Attorney-General’s Department and recent inquiries disclosed that the draft will be available shortly and will be submitted to the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory for consideration before it is promulgated.

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Appointments to Boards


– During a debate in the

Parliament late last year, I urged the Government to consider appointing to the Military Board, Air Board and Naval

Board, respectively, a Citizen Forces officer. I understood that the Government did not approve at that time, but in the absence abroad of the Minister for Defence, the Government decided to appoint a Citizen Forces officer, General Wootten, to the Military BoardWill the Minister for Defence inform me whether the Government intends to appoint a Citizen Forces officer to the Air Board and the Naval Board respectively? If not, why not?


– I shall consult with the Minister for the Navy and the Minister for Air, regarding this matter, and, in due course, inform the honorable member of the result of the discussions.

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– In view of the heavy damage suffered by Tasmanian orchardists as the result of the disease known as black spot, can the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research inform me whether that organization has made any attempt to eradicate or control this disease? If the matter is being investigated, will the Minister indicate the result of the researches? If the matter so far has not been dealt with by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, will the Minister issue instructions immediately for it to beinvestigated ?


– The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is conducting experiments over a very wide field in order that some methods may be found to combat pests in various agricultural industries, including the fruit-growing industry. I am not aware whether the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is actually investigating black spot, but I shall make inquiries and ask the organization to ascertain what it can do in the matter.

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– I desire to address to the Prime Minister a question relating to the business of this House. The first business which appears on the noticepaper, and about which he was good enough to inform me by letter, consists of certain tariff schedules. Then, a general debate will take place on the statements made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction on the agreement relating to tariffsand trade generally, which was made at Geneva, and thereafter the House will discuss the tariff schedules which arise out of that general agreement. I desire to ask the Prime Minister: As the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has now returned from Havana, at which, I understand, the terms of the charter were under discussion, will the Minister make a statement to the House on the Havana debates, and the results of them? Can that statement be made as soon as possible so that we may be able to discuss all these matters together, instead of trying to separate the debate on the Geneva Agreement from the debate on the Havana Charter, the two matters being, as I understand and anticipate, very closely associated?


– It was hoped that the discussions at Havana with regard to the charter would have been concluded at an earlier date than this, but I understand that these deliberations will not be concluded before the end of this month. Although the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who attended the Havana discussions, may be able to make a general statement on the conference, he will not be able to give a detailed statement regarding the charter, because certain matters are still under consideration. In the circumstances, a general debate on the charter might not be possible for some time. One reason is that there are a considerable number of minor amendments, and other amendments of an interpretative character, and probably it will be some time before we shall be able to submit to the House a full copy of the completed charter. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that it would have been of considerable advantage if we could have dealt with the charter in conjunction with the Geneva schedules arid reports, but I am not sure when that would be possible. I have also in mind that other countries will require a period in which to consider the adoption of the charter. Unfortunate though it may appear, the Government believes that it is desirable, as the United States of America and other countries have applied administratively the tariff reductions, for this Parliament to express its opinion on the concessions contained in the schedules. I regret that it will not be possible to adopt the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition, but I shall ascertain from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction whether he can make a general statement as distinct from a detailed statement on the Havana Conference, and endeavour to inform the Leader of the Opposition to-morrow of our decision on the matter.

page 14




– Will the Prime Minister inform the House what is the position to-day regarding the establishment of Joint Coal Boards in Australia? What was the final position resolved between the Prime Minister and the Premier of Queensland on this matter? Does the arrangement providefor the granting of financial assistance to the coal-mining industry in Queensland for the purpose of helping to expand and develop it, as has taken place in New South Wales? The Joint Coal Board has communicated with twelve local authorities in the coal-mining areas of New South Wales, offering financial assistance for the establishment of amenities in those districts. An extract from the correspondence contained in this offer reads -

General community amenities will be taken to embrace projects of the following types: -

Parks, gardens, tree-planting, road beautification, &c.

Recreation,sporting and playing areas available for general public use.

Baths, swimming pools and beach improvements.

Community centres, libraries and halls.

Colliery approach roads where traffic is confined to vehicles travelling to and from the colliery.

For approved works (including the cost of land) in this category, the board will grant 60per cent. of the accepted estimate of cost, in predominantly coal-mining communities.

Has assistance similar to that mentioned in the communication from the Joint Coal Board been made available to local authorities in coal-mining areas in Queensland? If not, why not?


– At present, New South Wales is the only State in which a. Joint Coal Board is operating. Requests have been made by the miners’ federation and others for a Joint Coal Board to be set up in the other coalproducing States. The Australian Government has not sought from the State Governments any agreement on this particular matter, but I have had discussions with the State Premiers on this subject, and it has been indicated to four States that if they desire a Joint Coal Board and are prepared to pass the necessary legislation on. the same lines as that which operates in New South Wales, the Australian Government will be prepared to consider establishing a Joint Coal Board in relation to them. The same thing happened in regard to Queensland. We did not seek to establish a Joint Coal Board in that State, but many requests were made for the appointment of such an organization and we indicated to the Premier of Queensland the conditions under which we would be prepared to set up such an authority, which would operate on similar lines to the Joint Coal Board of New South Wales.

Mr Francis:

– What are those conditions?


– The conditions are: The passing of legislation by both Parliaments, the formulation of a joint agreement by which certain laws passed by the Commonwealth or the State concerned shall not be altered without the concurrence of the other party, certain provisions in regard to the allocation of money for welfare and administrative expenses, and other general principles relating to assistance to the coal-mining industry. Our suggestion was that the Joint Coal Board in Queensland should consist of the present Joint Coal Board, which is the New South Wales authority, and one Queensland representative. Mr. Hanlon was not prepared to agree to that, and we, as a Government, were not pressing him to do so. Later, we offered to agree to two Queensland representatives, with the Joint Coal Board operating any general machinery that might be adopted for Queensland. I discussed the matter with Mr. Hanlon on a number of occasions. I made it clear to him that the

Commonwealth was not pressing for the establishment of a Joint Coal Board in Queensland, and that if the Queensland Government believed that the coal-mining industry of that State could be developed quicker, better, or with improved conditions, we should be prepared to co-operate. Mr. Hanlon was not prepared to accede to these conditions. We also discussed certain other aspects of the industry with which I shall not weary the House. They included, however, the starting of operations by certain companies, and the development of other fields, including the Callide Valley field as well as Blair Athol. Mr. Hanlon made certain . requests that might be helpful in developing the coalmining industry, and I shall put them to Cabinet later. We discussed amenities and, getting back to the Davidson report, I indicated to Mr. Hanlon that, even although he went ahead with his own coal board, which, I understand, he intends to do, we would give consideration to making a grant to the Queensland Government for the provision of amenities in the industry. I cannot indicate at the moment the amount of the grant, or the conditions under which it would be made, but that is the stage that the discussions have now reached.

page 15




– Is the Prime Minister aware that although hosiery manufacturers in Australia are permitted to import from the United States raw silk for the manufacture of hosiery, they are not permitted to import nylon thread, which, 1 understand, is more fashionable, more durable, and costs less? Will the right honorable gentleman give favorable consideration to allowing these manufacturers to expend (heir dollar resources on either nylon or silk thread?


– The importation of silk into this country was discussed about two years ago. Silk comes mainly from Japan.

Mr Conelan:

– This comes from America.


– Most silk is of Japanese origin, although it comes through America. The first supplies were auctioned in America. Permission was granted for the importation of limited quantities and this was done, but I under stand that very little silk has been imported in recent times. The whole question of conserving our dollar resources has been given full’ consideration. Nylon for motor tyre cord has been imported because it is an essential material. I am informed that nylon stockings are now being brought from Great Britain which, of course, is a sterling area, and I cannot promise the honorable member that dollar credits will be made available to import other than essential goods from America. However, I shall have the matter examined.

page 15




– I ask the Prime Minister whether a committee was appointed some time ago to inquire into certain aspects of the administration of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, including expenditure. If so, has the report of the committee yet been received ? Will it be tabled for the information of honorable members?


– A committee consisting of Mr. A. A. Fitzgerald, Mr. W. Harris, a- former sub-accountant of the Treasury in Melbourne, later associated with aircraft production, and now retired, and ‘Mr. E. G. Bonney, until recently the Director-General of Information. The terms of reference of the committee included financial aspects of the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s administration, but not matters of policy. Within the last fortnight I made inquiries and ascertained that certain delay has occurred in having the report prepared. However, it is expected at an early date. As I have not seen the report, and it has not yet been submitted to Cabinet, I am unable to say whether or not it will be of such a character that it should be tabled in this House. However, I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s request.

page 15


Assent to the following bills reported : -

States Grants (Tax Reimbursement) Bill 1947.

Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1947. Parliamentary Allowances Bill (No. 2) 1947. Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications)

Bill 1947.

Loan (Housing) Bill 1947.

States Grants Bill (No. 2) 1947.

Ministers of State Bill 1947.

Commonwealth Public Works Committee Bill 1947.

Royal Style and Titles Bill (Australia) 1947.

War Service Homes Bill (No. 2) 1947.

Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Bill 1947.

Tractor Bounty Bill 1947.

Australian Soldiers’ RepatriationBill (No. 2) 1947.

Trading with the Enemy Bill 1947.

Egg Export Control Bill 1947.

Egg Export Charges Bill 1947.

Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill 1947.

Treaty of Peace (Italy) Bill 1947.

Treaty of Peace (Roumania) Bill 1947.

Treaty of Peace (Hungary) Bill 1947.

Treaty of Peace (Finland) Bill 1947.

Treaty of Peace (Bulgaria) Bill 194.7.

Commonwealth Public Service Bill (No. 2) 1947.

Beer Excise Bill (No. 2) 1947.

Distillation Bill 1947.

Spirits Bill 1947.

Excise Bill 1947.

Air Navigation Bill (No. 2) 1947.

Australian National Airlines Bill 1947.

International Labour Organisation Bill 1947.

Quarantine Bill (No. 2,) 1947.

World Health Organization Bill 1947.

page 16


Formal Motion for Adjournment

Mr SPEAKER (Hon J S Rosevear:

– I have received from the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of. discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -

The circumstances in which certain Australian citizens attached to the United States of America Forces in the Pacific were recalled to Australia by the Government and the means employed by the Government to achieve its purpose.


.- I move -

That the House do now adjourn.


– Is the motion supported ?

Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,


– The motion arises out of the recall by this Government of 50 Australian girls who were attached to the United States of America Forces in the Pacific, specifically, at Tokyo and Guam. The mere recall of these girls may not, in itself, be a matter of any importance, but the circumstances surrounding their recall and the means employed by the Government, give rise to principles of first-class importance to this chamber and to the people of Australia. This action involves a definite and unwarranted invasion of the’ liberty of the subject:; it indicates a continuance of war-time mentality which assumes thai Australians can be pushed around regardless of their own wishes; it demands an examination of the illegal use of governmental power to compel people to return to this country; and, finally, it was carried out in circumstances which cannot be conducive to the best relations between the United States of America and Australia. These girls left Australia with the permission of the Australian Government. They had been attached for some time to the American forces in Australia. When those forces left these shores a request was made to the Australian Government that the girls bo given permission to leave the country in order to work with the American forces in the Pacific area because of their very wide knowledge of the work with which they had been dealing in Australia. That permission was granted. Then suddenly we read in the newspapers - no announcement having been made by the Minister concerned or by whoever was responsible for this action - that these girls had been recalled to Australia against their wills and, indeed, despite unofficial protests from the American forces.

It is well at the outset to say that a great principle is involved. I believe it to be the right of any individual in Australia - a right which ought to be asserted by this chamber - to pass freely from this country to any other country whenever he or she thinks fit. It may be that citizens could be refused - and in present circumstances are refused - permission to take more than a certain amount of currency abroad. However, no impediment should be placed upon their light to leave this country except forover-riding considerations of security or upon their right to remain away from this country and return to it when they thinkfit.

My second observation is that the present system of passports is only a relatively modern idea. It has developed since 1914. It is true’ that passports were in use in Europe in the previous century, but the system did not apply in most civilized countries before 1914.’ Si use World War I. there has been a growth of control over citizens by governments seeking to prevent individuals from passing freely to and fro. However, .be it said that such control was never applied, until this incident occurred; to Australians who had gone overseas with the permission of their gove rumen t. I know of no other occasion on which an Australian government has sought to recall citizens whom it had given permission to leave the country. This action appears to be an extraordinary parallel to the actions of such governments as that of Yugoslavia, which rivalled its citizens from this country, seeking to control them even after they had passed beyond the boundaries of Yugoslavia.

I believe that an examination of the facts in this case will show, first, that there was no justification for such a highhanded action ; secondly, that the Government erred in applying means to bring the girls back to Australia such as pressure upon the American Government and intimidation of the girls themselves; and, thirdly, that not only has this served ho useful purpose but also it has struck very definitely at the civil liberties of Australian citizens. There have been various explanations from official sources of the reasons for this action and it will be interesting to hear what justification is advanced to the Australian people by the Minister. The only summary that I have been able to find is a statement made by the government spokesman - and we al] know that the government spokesman, whoever he may be, usually reflects the governmental attitude towards any matter. The following statement was published in the newspapers on the 19th January. That it is clearly an authentic: report is evidenced by the fact that three newspapers published it almost word for word and in the same sequence.

So that the Parliament may he informed precisely of the facts and learn what various excuse.”. here been advanced by the Government for this action, I propose io read the report of (the state ment by the government spokesman. It begins-

A government spokesman said in Canberra last night that, about two years ago, the American Army had asked the Australian Government to allow a number of Australian girls who had been working with the United States Army in Australia to continue their work in the South-west Pacific.

The United States Army had pointed out that, if the Australian Government refused this request, they would have to bring American girls out and train them.

The Australian Government had agreed to the- American request, but had stipulated that the Australian girls should return ,to Australia when their period of service ended.

It is something new in the administration of this country if, after a person has been given permission to leave Australia, he can be compelled to return at any time by an agreement made with somebody else. I should like to know what justification there was for the Government’s action. What was its reason for seeking to impose this term, and in fact doing so, upon the American Government, and by what fight did it seek to affect the rights of individuals by such an agreement? The report continues -

The girls had been signed on for periods ran/ring from six months to two years.

The spokesman added.: “ The time for the return of the girls lias expired, and, in terms of the agreement, the United States Army hasagreed to fly thom homo “.

It is known that the United States headquarters Under General MacArthur returned the girls with great reluctance indeed. However, the Australian Government was adamant that they must be returned. The reason is not apparent except that an agreement had been made with the Government of the United States that the girls had to come back to Australia. The Government spokesman also said. - “Some of the girls ure married, and their husbands have complained that they have overstayed their period of service with the. United States Army “.

That is one of the reasons advanced. It seems to me to be a footling thing that a government should concern itself in the domestic affairs of individuals. Thestatement continued - “The Government will not. allow the girls to visit America to spend their dollar savings “..

That indicates the mentality of the pawnbroker - that the Government was justified in bringing these girls back to Australia and interfering with their rights, as citizens, to go where they wanted to go, merely because they had earned some money. The statement added - “ lt is refusing permission on two grounds - the girls went out of Australia to do a specific job. not to tour the world, and the dollars are valuable to Australia in a dollar crisis “.

That is certainly a very interesting sidelight upon the desire of people who exercised extraordinary powers over the right9 of individuals during the war to seek to continue to assert those powers in times of peace. We have been told that wartime controls are to be relinquished as rapidly as possible. Nevertheless, on every hand we find complete reluctance on the part of the Government, and on the part of the bureaucratic officials under it, to give up any one of those controls.

Is this a forerunner of an attempt by the Government to .control people and prevent them from leaving this country? On one occasion I read in a report a recommendation to the Government that artisans of certain categories should not be allowed to Australia for a period of so many years after the war. If this is a reflection of that type of mentality, it is well that the subject-matter on which the motion which I have submitted is based should give honorable members an opportunity to ensure that in future the rights of individuals to leave this country, subject only to the requirements of security, shall be unimpeded. Our citizens should have the right of passage from Australia to any other country under the protection of a passport issued by the Australian Government.

The report which I have quoted continued with the following explanation of the Government’s policy -

Our policy is to retain our own population.

That is a new one ! Apparently it is a policy similar to that pursued by Yugoslavia, in regard to nationals of that country who had left Yugoslavia. The means employed may not be exactly the same, but the principle involved, namely, the exertion of pressure upon the girls to give effect to the will of the Government, certainly is. The government spokesman is reported to have said -

Of course, we would never do anything forcibly to prevent any one remaining in Australia against their will.

As a matter of policy we want these people back’ in Australia.

The two sentences seem to conflict with each other. The report continues -

The Americans will fly the girls home or pay their faros.

The questions which I ask the- Minister are these: Why did the Government stipulate that the girls should return to Australia when their period of service was ended? What right did it have to impose such conditions? Is it not a prerequisite that any Australian who wishes to go overseas must be in possession of a passport? Is it a fact that the majority, if not all, of the girls concerned were not given passports by the Australian Government? If that is7 so, why were they not issued with passports? The Passport Act 1938 states that an Australian passport may be issued to British subjects, and contains a provision that for certain purposes the word “ passport “ shall include a document of identity issued from official sources. Provision is also made in the act for the promulgation of regulations to enable the issue of certificates of identity. When the regulations are read with the act it is quite clear that any Australian citizen who can establish his identity as such is entitled to the issue of a, passport when he wishes to go overseas, unless his departure would imperil the national welfare or security. However, there is provision in the act for the issue of certificates of identity to people who are “ stateless “ or who claim that they are British. That provision is contained in Statutory Rule No. 47 of 1939. Regulation 9 states-

An authorized officer may issue a certificate of identity to any alien who is about to leave the Commonwealth. …

Whilst regulation 10 provides -

An authorized officer may issue a document of identity for travel purposes to any person who claims to be a British subject. . . . provision having .been made in an earlier regulation for the issue of passports to Australian subjects. I want to know why these girls were issued with passports similar to those issued to “ stateless “ people leaving Australia ?

What justification in law - quite apart from any justification as a matter of public policy - was there to bring these girls back? I want the Minister’s answers to both those questions. A passport or a certificate of identity can be cancelled at any time by the Minister, assuming that he has good reason to do so ; but these girls were overseas and there was only one way to get them back, namely, by putting pressure on the American Government, or, alternatively, by telling the girls, either directly or indirectly, that they would be without passports and without jobs if they did not return. As Australians, these girls were earning perfectly good money and holding good positions, but they were compelled by gross, as well as by petty, abuse of power to return to Australia. I say “gross” abuse, because the Government’s action constitutes a serious invasion of the rights of the girls as Australians; and “ petty “ abuse because the reasons advanced in justification of the action taken could not be sustained by any reasonable man. Finally, if the statement of one of the girls is to be believed, some of them, at least, held passports. Miss Hope T. King, one of the girls in Manila, who wished to go to the United States of America, said she had to wait six months before she could obtain a passport. Instead of getting a passport, she was punished for six months and left entirely without a job, and despite the protest which she and others made she has now been ‘compelled to return to Australia.

I have submitted this motion so that the House may give expression to its views on this matter. In my opinion the Government’s action strikes at the basic rights of Australian citizens and reflects the greatest discredit on whoever was responsible for the means employed to bring the girls back to Australia.

Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration · Melbourne · ALP

– I accept full responsibility for everything done in this matter. If the contention of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) be correct, the United States Army had the right at the end of the wai- to enlist the services of 10,000, or even of 100,000, Australian girls ‘and to take them to any part of the world, and the Australian Government had not the right to impose any conditions or to offer any objection. That contention is simply absurd. Never before in the history of this country has a government been approached by the leader of an allied army, with a request that the services of Australian citizens be made available to them for a temporary period. After the war ended in 1945, the Australian War Cabinet decided, for very good reasons, that no Australian women should proceed abroad for service with an allied force, nor should any Australian woman be allowed even to go to Japan for service with the Australian component of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. Representations were made to the Government by the Dutch forces, as well as by the American forces, for permission to employ Australian women overseas, and the British Army also requested that the services of Australian women be made available for work in Burma and India. If the contention of the honorable member for Warringah be correct, the Government should have agreed immediately to every such suggestion, and should not have offered any objection to Australians going anywhere in the world. But Australia has its ‘needs too, and the Government had to take a reasonable view in regard to the number of persons it could make available for service with our distinguished allies. In spite of the earlier decision of the War Cabinet, the Government’ agreed, because of the peculiar circumstances of the American situation, to cooperate with the United States Army as fully and as enthusiastically as it could. We were not happy to let Australian women, or, for that matter, Australian men, go from Australia, because we have great need of people in this country. It seems paradoxical that we should be spending millions of pounds to attract overseas people to Australia, whilst at the same time we allow Australians to leave their country to accept employment with other governments. We should have been perfectly justified in refusing the request of the American authorities that they be allowed to take Australian men and women to serve with their forces, but we took the action which we did because we wanted to help the Americans in their difficulty. The American authorities contended that the training and experience gained in their service by the first batches of Australian womenwere such that it would be extremelydifficult to replace them by American women. They also contended that, in fact, any replacement would result in their having to withdraw American men from vital work, which would prejudicially affect not only American, but other allied, post-war operations.We could, with perfect justice, have said to them : “ Yours is an American job; you should get American men and women to serve with your army. We have enough to do to service the Australian component of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force “. But in view of the special representations made by Mr. John Minter, Counsellor to the then American Legation, who was speaking on behalf of the General Officer commanding the American Forces in the Pacific, the Government entered into an agreement with the United States Government . that certain Australian men and women, whose names were submitted by the American Legation, could proceed to Pacific areas to perform specified work for a limited period. At the end of that time the United States Government was to return them to Australia at the expense of America. I saw nothing wrong in making such an agreement. Having entered into it and having carried it out to the satisfaction of the American authorities, I had, as Minister for Immigration, a right to expect the Americans to honour their undertakings at the end of the term of the agreement. I have nothing to complain about in regard to their attitude in that connexion.

There was a total of 231 people involved. Each person leaving for service in the Pacific was issued with a passport of twelve months duration and understood the terms of the agreement under which departure was permitted. No protest of any sort was made by any one of themeither before leaving Australia or during service with the Americans; the protests began to arrive only when they were told it was time to come home. They constituted an Australia component of the American Army, and sooner or later every army has to be demobilized. They were demobilized, not suddenly, as the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) says, but considerably later than the time until which we undertook to make their services available.

The parties of Australians who left for employment with the United States forces were as follows: -

Manila. - 23 females.

Pacific Air Services Command - 9 females.

Pacific Air Materials Area- 9 males, 16 females.

Okinawa - 4 males, 16 females.

Marianne Islands Air Materials

Area - 31 males, 20 females.

Foreign Economic Administration - 3 females.

Guam - 14 females, 86 males.

That is a total of 101 females and 130 males.

I ask honorable members to distinguish between those who went to Guam and those who went to other fields of operations. The American authorities made several applications, the first, towards the end of 1945,dealing with the first six fieldsof operation, and the second, in 1947, dealing with Guam. In making them, they expressed appreciation of Australia’s home labour difficulties and problems and affirmed their determination to honour the terms of the agreements. At no time did they ask that these men and girls should be taken for permanent service outside Australia ; they emphasized on all occasions that they wanted that labour only for a certain period, after which the Australian men and women would be replaced by Americans who had, in the meantime, been trained to take over the jobs. The Americans were just asanxious to see American work done by Americans, after a period, as we were to see the Australian people returned to Australia when the Americans no longer needed them.

The honorable member for Warringah talked of the damage to relations between the American forces and ourselves caused by the Government’saction. I have no knowledge of that except from newspaper observations. A careful reading of the remarks of any American general who has given his name to a statement reveals that he said he did not like losing the services of the Australians and that it was withreluctance that he had to consent to their going, but the terras of the agreements were such that he was bound to agree. In any case, regardless of the observations made by any American general, the fact is that the agreements were made on a governmental level; they were made between the United States Legation in Canberra, as it was at one time, and the United States Embassy, as it was at a later period, and the Australian Government. Subordinate officers of the American Forces, in the same way as subordinate officers of the Australian Government, have only to carry out the terms of the agreements.


– The comments of those subordinates, whatever they may be, are beside the point and irrelevant to the issue.I need not have given permission to any of these girls to leave Australia. There could have been no criticism of me if I had refused to allow any Australian to go to serve in a foreign army.

Mr Holt:

– What rubbish ! They have rights.


– They have no rights in the matter of serving in or with a foreign army. It is a privilege conceded by this country.

Mr Spender:

– Is punching a typewriter serving in a foreign army ?


– Those who were punching typewriters with those forces probably did a considerable amount towards achieving victory and did a great job for the Americans in their work of occupation. Sneering comments about the nature of the work reveal the minds of those who make this criticism.

We have never before been faced with this issue. If there is any. validity in the claim of the honorable member for Warringah, then the government of any country, in peace or in war, has a right to come into Australia to recruit a force, to clothe it and to transport it from Australia in its own aircraft and at its own expense and the Australian government of the day must stand meekly by because the free dom of the subject is at stake and must allow anybody to be enticed to go to any part of the world.

It is only because a small number of persons is involved that honorable members are making an issue of this. If the numbers ran into thousands, the position would have been different. The honorable member for Warringah says there should be no impediment to any person leaving this country. That is the rule to-day; there is no impediment to any person leaving this country to go anywhere else. There must, however, be an impediment to the government of another country coming here to recruit forces. Persons who wish to leave Australia are entitled to a passport, but those who want to go to serve under the terms of an agreement reached between this or any other Australian government and the government of a foreign power have to accept the terms of that agreement. They cannot have it both ways. . They cannot have a good job with the Americans and then, when the time comes for the Americans to honour the agreement and to send them back, say that they ought to be allowed to stay as long as they like.

We have difficulty with people going out of Australia, payings their own fares or going under the sponsorship of theatrical companies and the like, and after a period finding themselves unable to return. Last year the Australian Government had to assist 300 distressed Australians to return to this country.

Mr Spender:

– These people were not distressed.


– They might become distressed. If, at the end of their term of service, the American Government was under no obligation to send them back, they would have found themselves out of employment. The American Army some day will leave Tokyo, Manila and Okinawa. These persons would then have either to pay their own fares or to do as some people do in those circumstances, namely, set up a plaintive wail for the Australian Government to pay their passages back to their own country.

At the time the representations were made with respect to the personnel who went to Guam, I was advised by the representative of the commanding general that no non-American subjects, including Australians - and Australians are aliens on American territory - could be permitted to romain on Guam for more than six months. The Government did not recall personnel working on Guam. The period of their service had not expired. The figures I cited a little while ago showed that 100 persons served on Guam. The American authorities, themselves, before the term of service expired, decided to terminate the employment , of those Australians and to repatriate them to Australia; and that action was taken by the American authorities of their own volition. We made no representations to them to return the personnel serving on Guam. But we did ask the American authorities about personnel serving at Manila, and Okinawa and in the Marianne Islands and other spheres of activity. We had a right to ask the Americans at that stage when the Australians were coming home. The first body of Australians went away on the 6th January, 1946. Other bodies followed at regular intervals, and the girls who were spirited out of Australia and brought back were allowed to go and serve with the American forces sometime about July, 1946.

Mr Spender:

– Spirited out of Australia by whom?


– By an American colonel, who had no right to do what he did. The American Legation at Canberra apologised for his action, and ordered him to bring the girls back. They were taken out in American aircraft without passports or the authority of the Australian Government. We were not even told that they had gone. The American colonel concerned is a good friend of mine. He cooked breakfast for me one morning at Brisbane and later drove me to catch my plane. On the way to Archerfield Aerodrome we negotiated some business which did a good turn for Australia. The colonel misunderstood his authority. He thought he had the right to move these girls out of Australia, without reference to the Australian Government. He found out his mistake. We accepted his explanation, and we have retained a happy association with him since.

These girls serving with the American forces went for a ‘ period, of twelve months. The first of them departed early in 1946. We did not begin to inquire about their return until towards the end of 194Y. They were twelve months away in accordance with their terms of agreement, and it was six months, or more, later, before we began to make inquiries. We asked the American Embassy to inquire when they would be returning to Australia. We certainly were not going to be placed in the position of having eventually to repatriate them at public expense. The days of the occupation in Japan, whether Australian or American, are growing to a close. The honorable, member for Warringah asked why I should have stipulated that the girls return. I did so because the Americans said that they only wanted them for a period and they would return them at the end of that period. So we put that in the agreement. We put other clauses also in the agreement : First, the Americans were to pay the girls’ expenses out of Australia; secondly, they were to send them back at American expense; and, thirdly, they were to observe certain conditions with respect to wages’ and conditions of work while the girls were in their employ. The Americans cooperated splendidly in every respect. The honorable member for Warringah asked what right the Australian Government has’ to impose conditions on any persons leaving Australia.

Mr Spender:

– I asked what right it has to impose those conditions.


– Those conditions, or any other conditions ? If the Government has the right to impose some conditions, it has the right to impose other conditions also. Under the naturalization laws of this country that have obtained for nearly 40 years every person who -becomes a naturalized British subject is not allowed to leave this country until twelve months after he, or she, has been naturalized. The reason for ‘that provision goes back into the remote past; but no non-Labour government has altered it, and I certainly have no intention of altering it while’ I am Minister for Immigration. In the past we have placed conditions upon the departure of persons who were naturalized British subjects, and therefore, had all the rights of a British-born subject. [Extension of time granted.] I wish to answer the honorable member for Warringah with respect to the conditions imposed in this matter. This was an entirely new situation. We had never faced a similar situation before, and we had no precedent to guide us.I believed that we did the reasonable thing, not only in the interests of the Australian Government and the Australian people when we were so short of labour, but also in the interests of the American Government, which wanted assistance quickly, as well as in the interests of the persons themselves who, if they were eventually stranded, would be either unable to come hack to Australia or would have to appeal to the Australian Government for financial assistance. The American Embassy, after I had made representation that they should assist in the return of the men and womento Australia, wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Immigration over the signature ofMr. Harold Shantz, Counsellor, on the 22nd January last, the following letter: -

Dear Mr. Heyes

I refer to your letter of November 24, 1947-

Under the agreement, the first batch of these girls should have returned to Australia on the 6th January, 1947 - - concerning Australian women who were allowed to proceed overseas prior to 1947 for service with the American Forces in the Pacific, enclosing lists of a number who have not yet returned and stating that your Minister desired that these women should now return to Australia.

The Embassy’s records indicate that many of the women listed were granted passports to proceed abroad for employment with the American Forces as a result of representations by this office. The representations were made at the request of the military authorities, who stated that the women were experienced personnel previously employed by them and were urgently needed. It was understood that the American authorities would providefor their transportation and for their return to Australia when the employment ceased.

The American authorities concerned and the American Legation expressed their gratitude to your Minister for his sympathetic consideration of the needs of the United States Forces, and for making it possible for the women to accept the positions offered.

Copies of your letter of November 24, 1947, were transmitted to the American authorities, and press reports indicate that they are taking steps to comply with the Minister’s desire.

In respect of the second batch of persons who went to Guam, the Commanding General in the Marianne Islands Air Material Area, wrote to the Secretary of the Department of Immigration a letter in which he laid down the conditions under which these Australian personnel would be taken away and be brought back, and he concluded his letter with these words -

It is with the utmost respect for your problems that this Command makes a request for the employment of not more than 100 Australian nationals and it is with the assurance that this Command will under no circumstances belie the confidence placed by the Australian Government in this request.

I do not think that I need say more about the matter except to observe that in recent months, as Minister for Immigration, I have had to counter a great deal of misguided criticism with respect to the number of persons listed by the Commonwealth Statistician as permanent departures from Australia. My job is to build Australia’s population. Surely, it could not be expected of me, as Minister for Immigration, that I should encourage people to stay away from Australia in defiance of an agreement to which they themselves individually as well as theAmerican government were parties. I said last year that we should get 30,000 people into Australia from abroad in 1947. We got 32,000, but 21,000 left the country. I have been criticized because people leave Australia. Now I am being criticized by the Opposition for bringing people back to Australia. Opposition members cannot have it both ways. I know the position of Australia. I know about broken agreements. I know the needs of the Australian people and the need for people of their own blood to be here. I am doing all I can to bring back distressed Australians all the time. I am no less interested in the freedom of the citizen than is any other person in the House. I am certainly more interested than those who offer criticism. I am dedicated to the principle of individual freedom but I am also dedicated to the principle that undertakings must be honoured.

New England

– I add my protest to that of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) against the recall to Australia of girls who have been employed overseas by theAmerican forces. The long tirade from the Minister for Immigation (Mr. Calwell) was no reply to the observations of the honorable member for Warringah because the Minister took for granted and used as his thesis the argument that Australians have no right of human freedom but are to be treated as cattle and trucked from one quarter to another and brought back whenever the Government decides. The recall of these girls involves a vital principle. Their numbers may not be great and they may not suffer very much by having to return, but the principle in jeopardy is the freedom of Australian citizens to go overseas and take employment of their own choice without having first to receive the consent of the Government and then be liable to recall whenever the Government decides.It is interesting to remember that at the Summer School of Political Science at Canberra in 1944 the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt). who is rarely in this House, said that after the war the right of men and women to choose their own vocation had to be surrendered in the interest of the Government of the nation. He has tried ever since to explain away that threat of interference with human rights. But we have concrete evidence, in the words of the Minister for Immigation, that in 1945, one year after the, Attorney-General made his statement challenging the right of Australians to choose their own vocations, the Cabinet decided that no Australian women should be permitted to go from Australia to serve with allied forces, the British Army or in the area of Japan occupied by own troops. This is the Government that claims to espouse the principle of equal treatment for men and women and proclaims its adherence to the belief in personal freedom. But, when the acid test is applied it is found to be no different from any other socialistic or communistic government, which all the time deny their people freedom.

The Minister said that Australia had its needs. Have not these girls their needs? They are refused them. They are required to surrender the liberty for which their forefathers fought for generations in order that they may have a totalitarian government exercising its. will overthem. Their rights should be inviolate. The Minister, most brazenly, said he need not have given them permission to goand that had he not criticism could not have been offered. What a. pretty position it is when we have a Minister brazen enough to say that Australian citizens could have been refused the right toleave Australia and that there could not have been criticism had he done so. He harped on the fact. He said, “ An entirely new situation arose. There was no precedent to guide me “. He repeated that two or three times. But he had a precedent. It has been laid down in the rights of British subjects since Magna Charta. Since then, British people have had the right to do what they like with their own lives if they do not act criminally - and I have no time for criminals and their associates and would gaol the lot of them. But these women have done no wrong. The Minister said there was no precedent because never before had there been a request from a foreign government for Australian women to go overseas to be employed by it. There may not have been a precedent in that respect, but there is a law - the law of human freedom. They should have had the right to goabroad without restriction. When the Government said, “ You are going only for a limited period “, and provided them with restricted passports and arranged to bring them back, it broke that law.

I understand that their salaries are going to be taxed on the dollars they earned overseas. I understand that the salary of Sir William Webb, a justice of the High Court of Australia, when he presides over the War Crimes Tribunal at Tokyo, is free of tax. Mr. S. G. McFarlane, who was recently appointed to the International Monetary Fund, does not pay tax on his salary of the equivalent of £17,000 taxable in Australian currency. The beloved of the Government receive treatment that no other citizen of Australia could hope for. While Ministers talk about human rights and the protection of the “ small “ people of Australia, they are treating these girls as the Communist-controlled slave nations of Europe aretreating their citizens. At the same time wealthy civil servants and other people in high places, who should be in the Commonwealth attending to their own business and not bolting overseas, receive their money tax free.

We have listened to the weakest defence of the violation of human liberty that we have ever heard in the Parliament. When the Minister replies in the future to criticism of his having invaded human liberties, I hope that he will take care to put up a better case thanhe has done this time, because he has simply shown that he is a tyrant and that the Government is determined to apply industrialconscription by one method or another, as forecast by the Attorney-General in 1944 at the Summer School of Political Science and as was implemented to a, degree in the Cabinet minute of 1945. The thumbscrews are being screwed tighter and tighter on the liberty of the people by the Government and the Minister, who is such a notable member of it.


.- I listened with Some interest to the proposition made by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) relating to the infringement of the liberty of the Australian subject. I listened with amazement to his colleague, the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), who put Stalin on trial for the problems of the girls in Guam. I do not believe that the subject on which the motion is based and which, no doubt, is sincerely made, has any substance in relation to the situation. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) hasclearly expounded the position, but I desire, as an observer from the Government side of the House, to state that it appears to me that the conscience of the Opposition can be whipped up into a frenzy of protest so long as there is a good story behind it in the press. The reason that this matter is aired at all is that honorable members opposite know perfectly well that the subject, from the standpoint of its news value, has had a quite unnecessary airing in the press, and they desire to capitalize the situation. Further, I am advised by my journalist friends that members of the Liberal party have begun, through the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), what is known as the “Win the Women Campaign “. The beginnings of it were when the Leader of the Opposition visited Sydney, and told the working women how badly off they were, how many parcels they had to carry up the awful hills, and how dreadful these efforts must be for them. For this situation, he laidall the blame at the door of the Labour Government. We, in New South Wales, are rather cynical, and regarded hisjest as being in bad taste.

The second attack in the “ Win the Women Campaign “ was launched by the honorable member for Warringah when he made a protest on behalf of the young women who have been recalled to their own country. This was to be another attempt to influence the women to vote for Liberal candidates at the next elections. I consider that it was mendacious and insincere in that respect. On more than one occasion, the Minister has explained this position, but the Opposition did not discuss the question from the standpoint of whether or not these girls should return to Australia. Members of the Opposition talked airily about the liberty of the subject, and pointed out that these young women were attached to the war machine. Ifthey were as assiduous in their electorates asthey should be, they would know that one of the present difficulties is the repatriation of Australian brides from the United States of America. Relatives come to honorable members seeking Government assistance to bring deserted women home to Australia.

The young ladies, about whom the pre sent controversy rages, were following the avocation of secretary or performing other duties connected with United States establishments on these islands. They were under contract to do a job, and to return to Australia. I believe that this Government could be properly attacked if it had not taken action to ensure that the young ladies did return to Australia Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that, three years or five, years hence, on the termination of their jobs, they had gone to the United States of America, and were ‘ stranded there. That could happen. In those circumstances, they would be proper subjects for repatriation. All that the Minister desired was to ensure their return to Australia , and, if they wished, they could then leave ti. is country again as easily as did the honorable .member for Warringah, who, some time ago, travelled on a luxury cruise on Orion. I cannot see any valid reason why these people should not return to their own country in con formity with their contract. Is Australia so distasteful to them that they must hav& the Liberal party, which has never had a true concept of what Australia really means, to expound the principle of liberty of the subject on their behalf, so that they might be permitted to remain abroad?

WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP; LCL from 1951; LP from 1954

– Suppose the young ladies do not want to return to Australia?


– The performance of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) in this House is a good indication that he does not desire to return. The honorable member for Warringah trotted out all the old slogans and cliches. The Opposition has the best all-time, 24-hour shift cliche factory that .1 have ever heard of to produce them. The honorable member mentioned war-time, and the rights of the individual. He declared that in this matter great principles were involved, namely, that a man may freely pass from this country whenever he thinks fit. The only thing that stops men from doing that at the present time is that,, unlike the honorable member for Warringah, they have not sufficient financial means to enable them to travel. The honorable member spoke in vapid cliches about these things, which had no true relation to the facts. The honorable member for New England, of course, feels that on every possible occasion in this chamber he must roar, and this afternoon he roared again. Although he nearly succeeded in terrifying the occupants of the House, he did not make any contribution to the debate other than to quote something which friend Wentworth had told him, and, in so doing, he misquoted it, because they are getting on each other’s nerves a little at the present time.

This proposition is simplicity itself. I believe that the Minister acted quite correctly. His decision was an Australian one, and should not be subjected to any criticism. He said, without equivocation, that after the young ladies return to Australia they may, in future, travel where they desire. There is no analogy or comparison between what has been happening in dictator-controlled countries, and honoring a contract with a great ally in relation to our personnel. Are we to take the view that we do not care by whom Australian women are employed, or in what circumstances, or whether they return to Australia, despite the fact that we have entered into a contract to see that they are sent back here after they have completed a war job, or a post-war job? That is the whole position. Honorable members opposite have treated the order as if it were an awful infringement of the liberty of the subject. I do not believe that members of the Opposition care very much for’ the liberty of the subject, but they do care for the headlines in to-morrow’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Sydney Daily Telegraph. As I said before, this is only a press stunt. It is the first instalment of the “Win the Women Campaign “, which, I am sure, will add great lustre to the Opposition in its fight to return to the treasury bench.

The honorable member for Warringah has not succeeded in making out a case. In his endeavours to do so, he even had recourse to a legal examination of the Passport Act for the purpose of bolstering his case. He began his speech on a high note of emotion about war-time and the rights of the individual, and declared that we should go marching on with banners flying to uphold everything which we should hold dear. He concluded by quoting some of this Government’s legislation. Therefore, after this examination, there is not much more for me to say except that the Opposition has wasted too muchtime on what is obviously a stunt.

Mr McBride:

– It is the honorable member who is wasting the time of the House.


– 1 congratulate myself upon not hearing the interjection. Knowing the quality of the honorable member’s contribution to debates in this

House. The Minister for Immigration explained the number and type of jobs on which these young ladies have been engaged, and he decided, that after their work had been completed, they should return to Australia. There had been a lag of time, which gives an indication of great tolerance on his part, as the Americans might still be requiring the services of the young ladies. After the expiration of that time, it was his responsibility as Minister to ensure that they returned to Australia. That has been done. I agree with him, and I am sure that, in their innermosthearts, members of the Opposition agree that it was a good gesture to the world tha t we in Australia watch our Australian nationals -not using “watch” in a derogatory sense - in order to observe their standards throughout the world. If there are contracts to be honoured, we observe thom.

Complaints have been voiced in Sydney about the long absence abroad of these girls. Tn my own electorate, the mother of one 01 the girls spoke to me about the matter. That indicates that the question is not one-sided. Reference was made to the fact that several of the girls have married while abroad, and one of the generous members of the Liberal party asked, “ What have their marital relations to do with this matter ? “ So the sacred ties of marriage were, for the purposes of this argument, to be swept aside because members of the Liberal party had another slogan at the moment ! However, it is more important to us that-

Mr Abbott:

– Does, the honorable member expect the Labour party to plan our marriages now?


– I do not know what the honorable member for New England wants, I am only trying to explain what I want. The honorable member for Warringah did not approach’ this subject in an intelligent manner. There can’ be a danger in these things, and that .is one of the reasons that caused the Government to make a contract in relation to these young women. The Opposition has not adduced a case ‘in support of the subject before the House, because, from its very nature, it was thrashed out long ago. The statement of the Minister was so overwhelmingly honest and comprehensive that I am sure all valid criticism has been answered.


– Order! The honorable member has exhausted bis time.


.- I agree . that this subject raises an important matter of principle, and I am certain that Government supporters who examine it soberly and impartially will admit it. I cannot help contrasting this debate with a discussion which took place in this Parliament about ten years ago, when a similar principle was involved, and it was considered that the government of the day, which I was supporting on general grounds, had acted on a purely personal motive in relation to the free movement of a British person into this country. 1 refer to the Freer case, which was given ‘ much prominence in the press and caused a heated political controversy at the time. In contrast with the position that we find to-day, criticism of the then Government’s action on that occasion did not come only from the Opposition side of the chamber. In fact, it was launched from the Government side, and I am glad to say that such was the independence of spirit and democratic outlook of some individuals in the Parliament at that time, that the motion received support from all parts of the House. Many honorable members will recall the incident clearly.

We have, in the concluding words of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and in the statement by the Government spokesman, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), the same intrusion of personal matters. Domestic affairs have been brought into Government relationships in a- most undesirable manner. That is one ground upon which our criticism rests. Clearly, this Government has not been uninfluenced by pressures that have been put upon it by those whose personal motives are involved in this matter; but the large question of principle, the right of Australian citizens to move freely outside of this -country and to remain outside of it if they so desire, cannot be swept aside in the terms in which the Minister and toose supporting him hari endeavoured to sweep it aside. I.f this motion has done nothing else, it has produced an extraordinarily revealing statement from the Minister for Immigration, and I believe that his utterances are typical of the totalitarian outlook that characterizes himself and his colleagues in the Cabinet. It was obvious right through his speech that the real issue so far as he was concerned was what had been arranged with the American authorities, and not whether the rights of Australian citizens were being ignored. The individuals involved apparently are regarded as so many bodies to be. pushed there or t rough t back here according to whatever arrangements were worked out by the Minister with the American authorities. We in the Opposition are not concerned with the arrangements that the Minister has made with the American authorities. We are concerned with the rights of those Australian citizens who chose to seek employment abroad and who desire now to remain in that employment. How shallow are the arguments that the Minister has advanced! .’He said that Australia had its own needs, and he even expanded that theme. One could almost’ hear an echo of the philosophy of the Fuhrer that the people of Germany should remain in their own country and work for its greatness, or of the Communist Government in Russia to-day that the Russian citizens must remain ist home to develop their homeland. I hope we have not reached the stage of totalitarian administration here in which Australian citizens who desire to work abroad can be conscripted into the service of this country whether they like it or not. The Minister said that although we had had our own needs when the request for the services of these girls was made- originally, we had vanted to help our Allies. But let us see what help was extended. In the first place, ‘231 individuals were to be made available. This, I remind the House, was at the end of a war during which at least ‘700,000 Australians had been engaged in war work either directly in the services or indirectly in munitions establishments or other essential war undertakings, without any noticeable lowering of the Australian standard of life. Yet, according to the Minister, we were so conscious of our own needs that we could barely sp’are the services of 231 men and women in response to a request for assistance from an ally which had given us so much material help by sending its sea, land and air forces to protect us from invasion. We were to lend the United States of America 231’ “ bodies “ for a year on the strict understanding that they would be shipped back to this country at the end of that time. But for the Dutch who had been prepared to give up Java to help us, and who subsequently lost warship after warship in the defence of our waters, we were not prepared to do even, that much. For the British who had defended Australia in the Battle of Britain, and the Battle of the Atlantic, we were not prepared to make one soul available although undoubtedly many were willing to go. This is the Government that talks about the four freedoms, and the rights of our citizens. Anybody who has had dealings with the departments handling passport and currency exchange matters during the last few months cannot escape the conclusion that this Government is all too prone to use its controls for political purposes. There was no difficulty in arranging for Mr. Goldberg to go abroad although he was the subject of a judicial inquiry. There was no difficulty about permitting Mr. Parry, who was involved in the land sales control inquiry, to go abroad and to obtain the necessary dollar credits for this purpose; there was no difficulty about allowing Mr. Urquhart the necessary dollar currency to go abroad; season after season, year after year, we have seen Mr. Thornton going overseas; but when it comes to these girls in the service of the American forces, happy in their jobs, satisfied with their working conditions, and, at the request of their employers, seeking to remain overseas, we find the long arm of this totalitarian government stretching out to bring them back to Australia, Jo which country they have no immediate desire to return. Whatever the Government may say in defence of this action, there is a substantial question of principle involved, and nothing that the Minister has said to-day will shake my belief that liberties placed in pawn during the years of the war by this Government and its administration, are not still being seriously threatened and will continue to be threatened and will continue to be threatened as long as this totalitarian socialist outlook is allowed to prevail.


.- The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has used the subject matter on which this motion is based as another excuse for indulging in some propaganda about what he .describes as the totalitarian, socialist outlook of this Government. It is indeed indicative of the weakness of the Opposition’s case that on every such occasion, instead of dealing with the facts of the situation, its supporters devote’ their speeches to propaganda outbursts in the vain hope of writing down the” great work- of this Labour Government. The issue before us to-day is simple.. The circumstances have been fully explained by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) in reply to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr-. Spender). The Government agreed t« make available to the American forces, subject of course to, the willingness of the individuals concerned, a certain number of women to be employed outside of this country for a certain term. As the Minister has clearly stated, an undertaking was given that at the expiration of the prescribed period the women would be returned to this country. It is clear that, in the present state of affairs some years- after the termination of the war, the military forces of all nations are being reduced or totally demobilized. Therefore,, the American undertaking must soon come into force or, if it is not honoured, the Australian Government must make provision- for the return of the girls who were allowed to serve with the American forces under special arrangement for a limited period. That is what was arranged and that is what is being done.

It is idle and foolish to suggest that this action in any way limits the freedom of Australian people to go anywhere they desire to go. The simple fact is that, having been returned to Australia in pursuance of an arrangement made by the Government, these girls can go where they will throughout the world with perfect freedom. The only formalities required, if they desire to travel or to leave Australia to settle elsewhere, are those provided for in Australian laws. If they wish to travel in dollar areas, they must be able to get sufficient dollars.. The fact is that there is no limitation upon the freedom of these girls, or of any citizen of this country. They may leave Australia and go where they will.

The simple issue is that the Government, through the Minister for Immigration, made an arrangement and is ensuring that it shall be carried out. To twist that into an indication that the Australian people are being regimented oi being held within the country, as was the case in Germany and is the case in Russia to-day, is to completely distort the facts of the situation. Certainly it does not help to bolster up the case that is sought to be made against the Government. I can add little more to what has been said. The Minister has clearly stated the case for the Government, and, in the eyes of all men and women who do not seek to find propaganda in every situation, he has well justified the action which he has taken.


.- This House is indebted to the honorable member’ for Warringah (Mr. Spender) for having raised this matter, because it relates to an issue of very great principle. I listened with interest to the reply of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), and, to some degree, I was sympathetic with the effort that he made to explain the reason for bringing these girls back to Australia. He explained that, as Minister for Immigration, he is charged with the responsibility of trying to bring people into this country. He also explained that these girls were sent to territories occupied by American forces under an agreement to return to Australia. But what he did not explain was the right of the Government to trade in the bodies of Australians in. the way that it has done! That is what its action amounts to - an indenture system. The Government has indentured over 200 Australian citizens to the Americans on conditions similar to those governing , the indenture of natives, in New Guinea, to which it, and the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) in particular, strongly objected. In New Guinea, natives were engaged under contracts for periods of one, two or three years and their employers were required to return them to their villages on the expiration of the contracts. There is not the slightest difference.

What the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Burke) fails to recognize is that the Government’s action in this matter is very closely paralleled by the high-handed action of the Soviet Government in refusing to’ allow Russian girls who had married British subjects to join their husbands in the United Kingdom. Many of the Australian girls affected by this action are the wives of Americans overseas. Are they to be forcibly dragged away from their husbands merely because it i.– the whim of the Minister for Immigration that they be brought back to Australia even though they do not want to return ? What is the difference between the action of the Soviet Government, in separating husbands in London from their wives in Moscow, and that of the Minister for Immigration, in tearing apart young couples who became married while abroad ?

This is an invasion of the rights of Australians to determine their own destinies. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said that he had received a very plaintive letter from the mother of one of the girls urging that she be brought back’ to Australia. Is this person over 21 years of age? As far as I know, all of the girls affected in this matter are over that age. Otherwise they would not have been allowed to leave the country. Is this girl to be refused the right to lead her own life without her mother interfering and, with the aid of the influence brought to bear by the honorable member for Parkes on the Minister for Immigration, bringing her back to Australia?

There is. a very important principle involved in this. It is not just a matter of retaining over 100 girls as citizens of Australia. I suppose ‘hey would not constitute a very important factor in the population of Australia or of any other country. The principle involves the right of a person to’ determine his own destiny. If these girls want to remain abroad, why should they not be allowed to do so? They will return to Australia, and immigrants from other countries will come to Australia, only if conditions here are made sufficiently attractive to induce them to live here. Under the adminstration of the present Government, what encouragement is there for a great many people to live in- Australia? They are only seized upon as instruments of taxation to help the Government to carry out its various schemes.

I have no doubt that the Minister for Immigration meant well. His speech, was quite plausible if one listened to it without studying its underlying implications. But his action was one of paternalism. It was an assumption by him of the power to determine the rights of other people to decide their own way of living. Every -ti on of this Government is tainted with the same kind of thinking. I am indebted to the honorable member for Warringah for having raised this matter in this House. There is no doubt that when a vote is taken honorable members on the Government side of the House, who pretend to be champions of the poor and the weak and defenders of human liberty, will troop across the floor of the chamber to defeat the motion. Their action will strike some chord in the minds of the people of Australia.

The people will realize that this is merely an indication that the Government wants to control everything and iverybody. They will recognize a very close similarity between what the Government has done in this case and what the Soviet Government has done in separating Russian women from their British husbands. The Government has deported a number of Malays. ,1 do not question that action. It is in accordance with the policy that we have laid down. However, the Government is handing out the same sort of treatment to Australian citizens and is taking to itself the right to move people about the world. As other honorable members have said, no difficulty is -placed in the way of ‘ certain people leaving this country. I refer to people who are under the cloud of a royal commission and under the cloud of the courts who are trying to escape justice, and to agitators of various kinds.

They have been given dollars, passports and facilities, and the Government has blessed them and wished them God speed. I hope that we shall not have occasion to debate a question such as this again. The Government’s abuse of power has gone far enough. The only thing that will remove that abuse will be a change of government, because this Government has been so corroded by its. war-time powers that it does not now realize when it is abusing them.


.- Until I heard the explanation given by the Minister for Immigation (Mr. Calwell), I thought that there might have been a sound reason for his insisting that the girls should return to Australia. But, having heard him, I can only believe that, because he is clothed with a little brief authority as Minister, he has somehow become intoxicated with his own importance. He has become crazed with the fact that he has the power to decide who shall come 1o this, country and who shall leave it. But so far as these girls are concerned, there is a simple solution of the problem at hand, and I am amazed that it has not been applied. Any person who joins a military force - and I assume the women concerned joined the United States Army and fall within that category - can secure his discharge overseas when his period of service is ended. I repeat that that is the prerogative of any’ member of a military force. As an example, after the termination of World War I., I obtained my discharge while I was still in England. Why should not these women do the same thing? All tha.t is required of a person seeking his discharge abroad is that he shall give an undertaking that he will not become a charge upon his country and come home at his own expense, which is the right of any member of a democracy; Will the Minister for Immigration make a statement later and say that these women have made such an application to him and that he has refused it? If he does refuse such an application, then he is a danger to Australia, and should not hold his portfolio.

During the debate mention was made of a “ panic “ decision reached by the War Cabinet during the war that no women should be allowed to leave

Australia. That was a most extraordinary decision, more so because women’s units served in the armed forces in various parts of the world and actually sustained casualties. Women members of the Royal Air Force came to Australia, but no Australian women were allowed to go to Great Britain, and with the exception of the nurses who accompanied the forces overseas no women were allowed to leave this country. The Minister admits that requests from British, American and Dutch forces for the services of Australian women were refused. What was the reason for that? Did members of the Government feel that our women were in some way inferior, that they should be ordered about and told where they could go and what they must do? Apparently the Minister even suggests that they must come home when he says so! If that is the Australian Labour party’s conception of women’s part in a democracy then I am amazed. If they do not believe that women have equal rights with men, then obviously women should not be entitled to a vote. However, to return to the plight of the women serving with the American forces in the Pacific, I repeat that a simple remedy is available to them. If they are prepared to accept their discharge overseas, then they are entitled to it.

If the Government is bent upon pursuing this policy, then its members should scrutinize applications for passports from people of the type to which the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has referred. When the Government was asked for passports for youths to attend a youth conference in Great Britain, where 13,000 of our young men served with the Royal Australian Air Force during the war, it refused to grant approval to any selection from among them. However, it approved the issue of passports to two well-known Communists. Had the Government given them only a single ticket I should have approved its action ; but the men to whom I refer came ‘back to this country. Another such was Mr. Thornton, a well known disturber of industrial peace. I asked a question in the House some timeago, which is recorded in Hansard, as to whether the Government paid his expenses. The Government admitted that it did pay some amount, saying that it allowed him to go because he was a representative of certain unions: Still another was Mr. Don Thompson, dictator of the building trades unions, another well-known Communist, who has been responsible for the “goslow “ policy in home construction in Australia. Again the Government was privy to his departure. The Government also approved a number of Australians going to Yugoslavia to accept employment in the construction of a railroad, a semimilitary work being carried out at the direction of Tito, the blood-stained imitator of Stalin; and to-day Australians are still working in. that country. Obviously, the Government knew all about the purpose of their departure, and approved it. Those men have not been told that they have to come back; on the contrary, they will stay there until they have become thoroughly indoctrinated in the “comradely” way of life.

Mr Calwell:

-Noone has been refused permission to leave Australia.


– No, because the Government would immediately receive a demand from the “hammer and sickle “ people, and it would quit. But the people involved in the present dispute are only women, who do not belong to any trade union, whose only crime is that they did a good job for our allies during the war. The Minister said we helped the Americans, but he has forgotten that they helped us; too. Because he has allowed this handful of Australian women to go overseas, he thinks he has only to beckon them and they must come home. I advise him to forget the action he has taken, go back on what he has said, and say to them: “ All those who want a discharge can’ now obtain it overseas “. If he is not prepared to do that then it is just another illustration of the way in which power can make fools of men.


.- As is usually the case with a debate on a formal motion for the adjournment of the House, members of the Opposition get off the beaten track and endeavour to launch a barrage of political propaganda. The debates on many of the matters which they raise on motions such as this have honor able beginnings, but they do not always end honorably. When the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) raises the issue of the freedom of the individual he naturally has the support of all freedom-loving people; but when we analyse the facts of this matter as outlined by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) we find that it is in a different category to anything which has happened previously. It is the first time that such action has been taken, and it will probably be the last. The honorable member for Warringah and his colleagues have spoiled their case by dragging the debate down to the level of cheap political propaganda. They have sought to establish that Australia is nothing more than a huge conscription camp, and I am very disappointed in their effort. I like to listen to arguments presented fairly and squarely, hot to mean attempts to exploit a situation for political gain. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) has made the low insinuation that the Government is using the passport system for political purposes. That, I think, indicates sufficiently the depth to which they have sunk. This country is not a “ conscription camp”, nor does this isolated incident support that contention. When theagreement by which Australian women went abroad to serve the American forces was entered into - and I emphasize that it was an agreement negotiated between two countrieson a high level - man-power controls were still inoperation in this country-

Mr Rankin:

– Why does not the honorable member refer to it as “industrial conscription “ ?


– Man-power controls may be a form of conscription, but they were enacted by a regulation made during war-time. The Government repealed those regulations as soon as it could; and to-day workers can work where they like and stay as long as they like.

Mr Holt:

– The honorable member could not work on the waterfront to-day even if he wanted to.

Mr Calwell:

– He could not even before the war.


– Order ! The honorable member for Wilmot has the call.


– To-day a man can go from job to job, and there is no conscription. Of course, I realize that many people contend that we should retain workers in essential industries rather than permit them to engage in nonessential industries. However, as I said previously, the attempt by members of the Opposition to enlarge upon this incident andto accuse the Government of turning the country into a conscription camp is a disgusting performance and simply levers their own prestige. In this post-war era too many people are snapping their fingers at agreements. Traditionally, an Englishman’s wordwas always his bond, just as the word of an Australian was his bond. However, to-day agreements are not considered so sacred.In the circumstances the Government is to be commended for bringing the American authorities to an understanding that the terms of the agreement had to be honoured. That agreement expired six months before the Minister made any real move to bring the women back to Australia. It should be realized that the moment these women return to Australia they are free to go to any employment they like, or to visit any country they like. The fact remains, however, that the men and women concerned entered into a. binding agreement and the time has come for them to carry out their part of it. Of course, had there been no agreement, undoubtedly the Government’s action would have been a tyrannical one. That would have been conscription ; that would have been tyranny. The Government could justifiably have been accused of using Nazi or Soviet methods. But an agreement is an agreement, and I stress that. If it is treated merely as a scrap of paper, as the Opposition suggests, it entails a lowering of moral standards. All that this Government is trying to do is to carry out its part of the agreement, and the American authorities are prepared to carry out their part.

I deprecate the attempt by the Opposition to treat this issue purely on the basis of party political propaganda. The freedom of the individual is a precious thing, and this country has safeguarded it. It has abandoned all man-power controls, and its citizens can work where they like and can go where they like. Last year 20,000 people left Australia, and the Government did not attempt to stop any of them. That illustrates how freely persons can leave this country. In fact, there is some anxiety lest too many should go and thereby hamper the immigration programme. The Minister has merely honoured an agreement entered into between these people, the American Government and the Australian Government.

Motion (by Mr. Scully) proposed -

That the question be now put.

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

AYES: 28

NOES: 40

Majority …… . 10

Majority…… 12



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Question put -

That the House do now adjourn.

The Housedivided. (Mr.Speaker -Hon. J. S. Rosevear.)

Question so resolved in the negative.

Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.

page 34


Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 4) ; Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Amendment (No. 3); Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 3)

In Committee of Ways and Means:

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP

.- I move- [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 4).]

That the Schedule to the *Customs Tariff* 1933-1939, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as hereinafter set out, and that on and after the nineteenth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and forty -eight, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the *Customs Tariff* 1933-1939 as soamended. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. That in this Resolution " Customs Tariff Proposals " mean the Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : - 14th November,1946; 14th November, 1947 ; and 18th November. 1947. [Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Amendment (No. 3).] That the Schedule to the *Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference)* 1934-1939) as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals, be further amended as hereinafter set out, and that on and after the nineteenth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and forty-eight, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Customs be collected in pursuance of the *Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference)* 1934-1939 as so amended. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. That in this Resolution " Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals " mean the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : - 14th November, 1947 ; and 18th November, 1947. [Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 3).] That the Schedule to the *Excise Tariff* 1921-1939, as proposed to be amended by Excise Tariff Proposals, be further amended as hereinafter set out, and that on and after the nineteenth day of February, One thousand nine hundred and forty-eight, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, Duties of Excise be collected in pursuance of the *Excise Tariff* 1921-1939 as so amended. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. That in this Resolution " Excise Tariff Proposals " mean the Excise Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the following dates, namely : - 14th November, 1946 ; and 4th June, 1947. In introducing these proposals, I state at the outset that it is the Government's intention to proceed at an early date with tariff debates on all outstanding tariff proposals, which will include the tariff proposals tabled in Parliament on the 18th November, 1947, which were consequent upon the Geneva trade discussions. The purpose of the proposals which 1 am now tabling is primarily to bring before the committee tariff amendments which were introduced in a previous Parliament and collections of duty under which have been validated. These reintroductions, as they may he termed, prepare the tariff amendments for discussion by the committee. There are fi ve amendments in the three resolutions which I have just' tabled which have not been previously introduced. They are items 393 (d) (1) and 427 (e) in Customs Tariff Proposal No. 4, item 359 (f) (3) in Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposal No. 3 and items 2 (l) and 10 (e) in Excise Tariff Proposal ' No. 3. The amendment to item 393 (d) (1) is for administrative purposes ; no change of rates is involved, but the wording has been altered in order to specify more clearly the goods intended to be classified thereunder. Item 427 (e) is a new sub-item in the Customs Tariff. In the past, duty-free entry has been extended to oil or water colour paintings by Australian students or artists resident abroad for a period not exceeding seven years. It was requested that Australian sculptors should be granted a similar concession with respect to their work and this is the purpose of the new sub-item. Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposal No. 3 is also primarily an administrative amendment. "When the Canadian-Australian Trade Agreement was concluded in 1931, Australia undertook to afford Canada a 17£ per cent, preference over certain gears entered under the general tariff. In recent years, the tariff item under which the gears were entered in 1931 has been altered in structure and it has become necessary to effect the proposed amendment to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Act to ensure that Canada shall receive on the gears specified the benefits to which it is entitled. No alteration of rates of duty is involved in either of the new excise amendments. Item 2 (l) previously provided that spirit for use in the manufacture of citrus essences should be subject to a concessional rate of ,12s. per proof gallon if a minimum of 6 oz. of citrus essential oil produced from Australian materials was added to it. There has recently been produced in Australia a more concentrated form of citrus essential oil, namely citrus terpeneless essential oil, and it was considered justifiable that blending of this new citrus oil with spirit should also qualify the spirit for the lower rate of excise duty. The 'amendment has been made to excise item 10 (e) to bring excise concessions into line with customs concessions afforded on goods for official use by representatives in Australia of British possessions or foreign countries who are not citizens of the countries they represent. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 43 {:#debate-30} ### TARIFF PROPOSALS 1946 Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1). *In Committee of Ways and Means:* Consideration resumed from the 14th November, 1946 *(vide* page 262; volume 189), on motion by **Mr. Pollard** - {:#subdebate-30-0} #### Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1.) That the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1939 be amended . . . *(vide* page 258, 14th November, 1946, Vol. 189). {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- The tariff schedule before the committee was laid upon the table of the House on the 14th November, 1946. A memorandum has been prepared and distributed amongst honorable members showing a comparison between the proposed rates of duty under each item and those operating under the Customs Tariff 1933-1939. In certain cases there were changes in the -items during the war. It was not found practicable during the war to hold a tariff debate, but the collection of duties was validated and these changes have been included in the memorandum of alterations to provide honorable members with a complete picture of the tariff alterations since the last tariff debate. Before discussing these particular tariff proposals in any detail I inform honorable members that the Government proposes that within the next few weeks all tariff resolutions before the Parliament shall be debated. The tariff proposals I have just introduced were, as explained then, introduced primarily to bring all tariff amendments into the committee stage in preparation for a tariff debate. It is proposed -that the debate will be divided broadly "into five stages. The first group will T)e those proposals introduced on the 14th November, 1946, comprising Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1, Customs Tariff ' (Southern Rhodesian Preference) Proposals No. .1 and Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1. This will be followed by Excise Tariff Proposals No. :2 introduced on the ' 4th June, 1947. The third group will consist of Customs Tariff Proposals No. 2, Customs Tariff- (New Zealand Preference) Proposals No. 1, Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals No. 1 and Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Proposals No. 1, introduced on -the 14th November, 1947. The fourth stage will relate to the Tariff Proposals tabled in Parliament to-night. At that juncture, the only resolutions which will not have been debated will be those introduced on the 18th November, 1947, viz., the proposals embodying the tariff alterations consequent upon the Geneva trade discussions. The final stage will be devoted to debating those proposals, which comprise Customs Tariff Proposals No. 3, Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals No. 2, and Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals No. 2. The proposals covered by the resolution at present before the committee formed a part of the Government's 1946 budget programme. Reductions of duty were provided as follows : - ls. 6d. a gallon on methylated spirits; elimination of duty of 6d. per lb. on dry batteries and" dry cells less than 6 volts; I'd. a gallon on petrol and allied petroleum products and ls. per lb. on carbonic acid gas. With the exception of the reductions of duty on petrol and allied products, very little loss of customs revenue was involved, as the reductions were consequential upon reductions of excise duty on similar goods. With regard to petrol and petroleum products, however, the major revenue is derived from customs duties and it was anticipated that the reduction of Id. a gallon would affect revenue by approximately £1,300,000 in a full financial year. One item appears in the resolution before the committee which is not entirely of a revenue nature and on which no reduction in rates of duty was involved. I refer to tariff item 19 relating to tobacco leaf. . This item was amended to provide for a varying percentage of Australian leaf to be required to be blended with imported leaf for the purpose of affording concessional rates of duty on tobacco leaf imported for blending with Australian tobacco leaf. Since 1938, tariff item 19 had provided that a confessional rare of duty should apply to imported leaf if blended with 15 per cent, of Australian, but in recent years the quantity of tobacco leaf produced in Australia has fallen considerably, and item 19 as amended provides for the minimum percentage of Australian leaf to be varied in accordance with the size of the local crop. The alteration of this item was supported by the Australian Tobacco Board, on 'which the tobacco-, growers were represented. {: #subdebate-30-0-s1 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth . -I have been most interested in listening to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture " **(Mr. Pollard)** re-introduce this schedule. To use a colloquialism, this debate is really a pipe-opener for the real tariff debate. I refer now to the observations' made by the Minister relating to the Geneva conference, the effect of the International Trade Charter and the arrangements made at Geneva about our trade with other countries, the effect , of multilateral agreements compared with our unilateral agreements, and the general effect upon our policy of British preferences. The schedule which we are discussing now is not of great importance. Most of the items involved. are of a revenue-producing nature, although a number of them are of a protectivecharacter, but their introduction datesback as far as the beginning of World War II. They have been validated, they are in operation, and they have been accepted by industry, and I for one do not know of any reactions in industry which would create anxiety regarding the alteration of duties. Therefore, it appears to me that this discussion is merely a matter of clearing the deck for the major debate. Of course, the Minister will need to explain a number of items which will affect industry. For example, I have no doubt that those of my colleagues who are members of the Australian Country party will desire to know something about the Government's intentions concerning tobacco, because that is of vital importance : the wine bounty and excise duties relating to fortified spirit. These are matters of general importance and I am sure that they will be brought forward for general interest and information. Some of these items have been in operation for four, five or six years, and even if this committee in its wisdom sought to alter some of the duties so imposed, I doubt whether its action would be effective in granting a concession or relief to those operating under them. Consequently, we can accept the schedule. BeforeI conclude my remarks, I desire to voice briefly a general criticism. During World War II., tariff schedules were introduced, progress was reported, and subsequently validating bills were introduced and passed. Some of the most important debates in previous parliaments took place on tariff schedules. Indeed, protective tariffs have not only produced an expansion of industry in Australia, but have also created a home market, consolidating the interests of primary producers. The general acceptance of that fact as being a matter of prime importance emphasizes the need that in future, when tariff schedules are introduced in this chamber, honorable members shall have the opportunity within a reasonable time to debate fully the alterations of tariff items. The reason is that at some unguarded moment the alteration of a protective tariff might ruin or stifle an industry vital to the Australian economy. This is a matter of prime importance which we should always keep in mind when we are discussing tariff proposals. Although this schedule is now re- introduced, it has become almost a part, if not officially then semiofficially, of our statutes. Later, I shall require information relating to certain matters. I have with me a number of reports of the Tariff Board, Some of them seem to conflict with the alterations that have been made. I shall not deliver a lengthy speech now, but I suggest that the Minister should show courteous consideration to our requests for explanations of the need for making these adjustments to our tariff schedules. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported. Standing Orderssuspended; resolution adopted. {:#subdebate-30-1} #### Ordered - >That **Mr. Pollard** and **Mr. Lemmon** do prepare and tiling in a bill to carry out the foregojng resolution. {: .page-start } page 45 {:#debate-31} ### CUSTOMS TARIFF BILL 1948 Bill presented by **Mr. Pollard** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-31-0} #### Second Reading Motion (by **Mr. Pollard)** proposed - That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** to explain how far the motion for the second reading of the bill will take us in our consideration of the schedule. We do not desire, by agreeing to this motion, to be excluded from discussing; items contained in the schedule. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Honorable members may discuss in committee items contained in the schedule. {: #subdebate-31-0-s1 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN:
Indi -- I have not been able to follow clearly the procedure which has been adopted to date, and I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to intimate whether this is the only opportunity available to honorable members todiscuss the various items in the schedule. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The honorable member may do so now. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN: -- Is this the only opportunity available to honorable members ? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The honorable member may discuss the. various items in committee. Mr.McEWEN. -I prefer to discuss each item separately. Question resolved in the affirmative. Hill read a second time. *In committee:* {: #subdebate-31-0-s2 .speaker-JUQ} ##### The CHAIRMAN (Mr Clark:
DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Is it the desire of the committee that the bill be taken as a whole? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- No. We desire to consider each item in the schedule separately. Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to. Schedule. {: #subdebate-31-0-s3 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN:
Indi .- I refer to division 11 of the schedule, " Tobacco and Manufactures thereof ". I take this opportunity to stress the ineffectiveness of existing customs and excise provisions in the encouragement of the production of tobacco in this country. Whilst I do not suggest that we should rely entirely upon excise and customs tariff to stimulate tobacco-growing in Australia, substantially that has been the traditional means adopted by successive governments for this purpose. There has never been more urgency than there is to-day for us to take whatever steps are necessary to stimulate the volume, and improve the quality of tobacco produced in this country because all the tobacco purchased by Australia overseas is paid for out of our dollar resources. There is no need for me at. this juncture to canvass the seriousness of the dollar position to-day, but I draw attention to the fact that many people are prone to regard our dollar deficits as a purely Australian problem, whereas, in fact, that is not so. This country has never had a favorable balance of trade with the United States of America, and for many years we have relied upon London for the settlement of our trading account with that country. This really meansthat every dollar thatis added to our overseas indebtedness not only in creases our own problem, but also diminishes the capacity of the United Kingdom Government to import urgently required foodstuffs. This country has been too proud to borrow dollars. We have been too proud to go honestly on to the dollar market and borrow for ourselves; but we have not been too proud to allow the United Kingdom Government to borrow dollars and then draw upon those dollars ourselves. That is the blunt truth. Tobacco is an ordinary agricultural product like wheat, maize or barley; yet this is the only continent in the world that is unable to supply itself with tobacco. The continentsof America, Asia, Africa and even Europe all produce sufficient tobacco to meet their own needs. I am sure that Australia is not the only continent in the world that is incapable of providing suitable climatic and soil conditions for tobacco-growing. The problem is a scientific one. We have not yet solved it, but I am sure that we are capable of solving it and I urge the Government to devote its endeavours to finding the solution. It has at its disposal the scientific resources of the Council for Scientific and IndustrialResearch. The aid of the State departments of Agriculture could be enlisted also by the provision of financial assistance. Their financial resources are pegged now by the decisions of the Loan Council, and by the uniform tax system, but with Commonwealth assistance, experimental stations could be established on a production scale thus aiding Australia to escape from the thraldom of the necessity to import this requirement of modem civilization and thus draw upon the dollar resources of the United Kingdom. It is time that the people of this country knew that we are not wrestling with a purely local problem, but that we are drawing to a substantial degree for our dollar credits upon the depleted funds of the United Kingdom and, in so doing, leaving the people of that country short of food, clothing and essential raw materials. The committee is entitled to a statement from the Minister of the effect the Government believes this variation of the tariff schedule will have. It is common knowledge that, so far, Australia has not been able to produce the volume or quality of leaf required by the Australian smokier. We ha vb produced tobacco of a kind which, when mixed with the Virginian leaf in the proportion of 2£ per cent. Australian to 97^- per cent. Virginian, has produced a mixture acceptable to Australian smokers. The Lyons Government inaugurated a preferential tariff in respect of imported tobacco which was to be used for -blending with Australian leaf. That was the first really constructive step towards gradually encouraging the Australian smoker to adapt himself to the flavour of Australian leaf. Subsequently, I understand, the blending proportions were changed to 5. per cent. Australian and 95 per cent, imported leaf, and I consider that the time has come when, in the light of the present dollar emergency, the Government should consider whether this tariff preference, which is aimed at stimulating the use of Australian leaf, should not be restricted to imported tobacco leaf which is to be mixed with an even greater precentage of Australian leaf than that stipulated at present. The implications of. this matter are so serious in the light of the dollar situation which exists to-day, that the Minister should .not be- satisfied merely to submit a tariff schedule and say, " The committee ought to pass this ". We ought to be told whether this is part of a plan to stimulate the production of tobacco in Australia, or whether tobacco is merely regarded as a source of revenue from import duty. Is the Government aiming, by means of a long-distance plan, at eventual self containment in respect of this commodity on which, we spend millions of pounds annually for imports? Knowing that I shall have a second opportunity to speak on this subject in the committee stage, I shall say nothing more now. T ask the Minister to inform the committee of the Government's plans in respect of tobacco production. When he takes the committee and the country into his confidence. I may have further comments to make. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- I direct your attention to a point of procedure, **Mr. Chairman.** I did not make the observation while the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** was speaking, but I now draw your attention to the fact that, the committee is discussing,, with your per mission, item 19 dealing with tobacco leaf. However, the committee has not yet discussed or passed item 3. I suggest that the procedure will be more happy and harmonious if we discuss each item separately as it comes before the committee instead of permitting discussion to take place at *random* on all items in the schedule, each honorable member dealing with the items which specially interest him. I suggest that at this stage you limit discussion to item 3 and item 19 so that the committee may pass them and then deal separately with each item remaining in the schedule. {: #subdebate-31-0-s4 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The intention of the Chair was to allow the committee to consider the schedule as a whole. Therefore, I intended to permit discussion of all items in the schedule. However, if it is the wish of the committee, we could deal with items 3 and 19 now, and then consider the remaining items separately. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr Harrison: -- Thank you, **Mr. Chairman.** Item 3 (Ale, Spirits, and Beverages) and item 19 (Tobacco leaf) - *by leave -* considered together. {: #subdebate-31-0-s5 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- There is much substance in what the honorable member for . Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** has said. I do not agree entirely with his remarks, hut - 1 consider that item 19 calls for some explanation from the Government. The production of tobacco leaf in Australia has exercised the minds of the growers, governments, and manufacturers to an extraordinary degree. In the early days of tobacco culture in Australia, we were producing a sort of cabbage-leaf type of tobacco, very heavy and dark, that was of little value except for disinfectant purposes or as a wash of some sort. Then the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research brought into being a body of men .who closely investigated the growing of tobacco leaf here. These men concentrated upon disease,. such as blue mould, which occur in tobacco leaf. The experience which they gained in the field, the results of which were passed to the growers, was' very helpful. We then learned than only certain districts in Australia could produce the lemon-coloured fine type of tobacco leaf required. We discovered that someareas could produce leaf equal in quality to any produced in the world. Unfortunately, the urge to produce quantity rather than quality was uppermost and we were then faced with a problem which ultimately had to be taken in hand by a former government. At that time we insisted, because of our protective interest in the industry, that the whole tobacco crop should be taken over and we forced manufacturers tobuy and use Australian tobaccoleaf, irrespective of whether it was good, bad or indifferent. That affected to a great degree the tobacco consumedin Australia. I have been present at demonstrations at Mareeba andI recall meeting a group of tobacco-growers in that area, not one of whom was smoking tobacco leaf of his own production. All of them were smoking Virginia imported leaf, yet they were clamouring to have their product placed on the Australian market for the use of Australian smokers. Those were the conditions that obtained in the industry when it was uncontrolled. Of course, the industry is now subject to control, and it is in a position to produce a better type of leaf than formerly. It is in a position also to concentrate upon areas capable of producing a high quality of tobacco leaf. The Government must be aware of this. Surely it does not regard tobacco merely as a revenueproducing item. The industry must have a prosperous future in this country. At Sarina, growers are producing leaf comparable with the best imported tobacco. Itsflavour may not be all that wedesire, and it may be strange to our Australian palates, which are accustomed to Virginian tobacco, justas Rhodesian tobacco is strange to us. However, the fact remains that Australians canproduce tobacco comparable with any other tobacco in the world. The Minister ought to be in a position to state whether the Government has a plan for the extensive development of tobacco production in Australia. If so, he should inform us how this proposed alteration now before the committee will affect that plan. {: #subdebate-31-0-s6 .speaker-K0K} ##### Mr CONELAN:
Griffith .- It is very illuminating to hear of the alleged difficulties of Australian tobacco-growers from the honorablemember for Indi (Mr.McEwen) and the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison).For** very many years thesetwo honorable gentlemen belonged to the partiesin power in this Parliament, but they did not take any steps at all to putthe Australiantobacco industry on a sound footing. {: .speaker-JYV} ##### Mr Fuller: -- They wrecked it! {: .speaker-K0K} ##### Mr CONELAN: -- Yes, they wrecked it as far back as 1931. Anti-Labour governments did not give any encouragement to the development of the tobacco industryin Australia until the LyonsGovernment tookaction in1938. Then, during the war period,the farmers themselves allowed their crops to deteriorate. They were happy to grow other products, such as grains,thatwerethen in demand, so that theycouldbenefit by thehigh prices obtainablefor them on overseas markets. The honorable memberfor Indi said that Australia was too proudtoborrow dollars to purchase tobacco. In my opinion, that is a ridiculous statement, because the Australian Government, under its present leader,has endeavoured in everywaypossible, to assist Great Britain with dollar purchases. It has denied the people of Australia certain tilings in order to conserve the dollar pool on behalf ofGreat Britain. It has sold to Great Britain all of its surplus primary products so that Great Britain can obtainmore dollars from sources where dollars are available. The answer to the suggestion that the Government should buy dollars to purchase tobacco for this country is that the Government has embarked on a policy to encourage the growth of Australian tobacco leaf. By increasing the quantity of Australian leaf more local tobacco will be available for blending with imported leaf, thus increasing the supply of tobacco for consumption. To-day we purchase more tobacco from sterling areas than we do from dollar areas. We are obtaining large quantities of tobacco and cigarettes from Great Britain, Egypt and South Africa, none of which has to be paid for in dollars. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- From where does the honorable member imagine that British tobacco comes? Mr. CONELAN. If the United Kingdom is purchasing tobacco; in order :to -sell it . to countries with " serai-hard " currency. that -is 'Great Britain's -look-out : it should 310. t purchase so much .tobacco ito export to "-.soft" or ' "medium " currency countries. .All that the Minister for Trade -and -.Customs seeks is. .authority . to exercise .discretionary power .to vary the .proportion ..of i imported leaf which must be blended with. Australian leaf .in the manufacture of tobacco in this country. The purpose of the 'proposal 'is to .foster 'the. growth ..of .tobacco leaf in Australia, and J .am - confident .that if .it is 'agreed to the .tobacco industry will prosper, particularly '.in Queensland, in the -future. {: #subdebate-31-0-s7 .speaker-JLR} ##### Mr ADERMANN:
Maranoa .- The history of 'the tobacco industry in Australia proves ^abundantly that tariff ;protection lis mot sufficient to solve the -problems .-confronting it. The Minister for Commerce ;and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** has pointed out that the production of tobacco leaf in this -country has shown a continuous decline for many years. The honorable member for Griffith **-(Mr. Conelan)** states that the "Government's proposal represents nothing more than a request for parliamentary authority *'.or* the Minister for Trade anc! Customs . to exercise a discretionary power to vary the tariff. If the honorable member's contention be correct, I should like .the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to point to any such provision in the schedule. The Minister, however, stated that this proposal is not designed to increase revenue, but merely to vary the quantity, of Australian leaf that would be blended with the imported product- in accordance with the volume of Australian production. As I said previously, the imposition of tariff protection has not, solved the problems confronting tobacco-growers, nor do I think that they can be solved in that way. "We may increase the consumption of Australian leaf if we make the tariff on imported leaf unduly high, but our experience shows that such a policy will not benefit local tobacco-growers. Honorable members like the honorable member for Griffith **(Mr. Conelan),** who represents a city electorate, have no right to say that tobacco-growers have allowed their crops "to :go to ruin. That is an irresponsible -statement. Actually, price is i the.. determining factor and growers do not receive -'a satisfactory price for their leaf, 'land while manufacturers, .who are the sole buyers, are permitted to grade" locally .grown leaf they do not feel satisfied with the results. I appreciate that the present Government and preceding governments have permitted increases in the proportion of Australian leaf .which may be blended with imported leaf and increased, payments. During .the wa r, when it was increasingly difficult to obtain sufficient -tobacco leaf, manuf acturers said to the growers : " The quality df "your leaf is all right ;. we want yon to produce more and more ". However, when the war was- over and imported leaf 'was again available to the manufacturers, they said to the growers : " We must have better quality leaf ". The growers have been doing their utmost to comply with the manufacturers' demand. They have changed the location in which they. grow their tobacco crops from year to year, and have done everything they can to improve .the quality of .their product. In spite of this they have been told that the quality of their leaf is deteriorating. Now the manufacturers have changed their tune, and with the backing of ihe Government and other interests, they are- again 'saying to the growers : " Your leaf is all .right.; we want more and more Australian tobacco ". According to the manufacturers the present quality of Australian- leaf is all right, but any one who knows anything of the industry realizes that the quality of the leaf has always been satisfactory, and that it is the grading system which is at fault. What is required in' this country is a number of practical, experienced men who know the quality of tobacco, to grade locally grown leaf instead of allowing the manufacturers alone to do so. Because of the attitude of governments and manufacturers in the past, growers are to-day producing a smaller quantity of superior quality, hut their aggregate returns are no greater than before. I do not think that an increase in tariff protection would solve the difficulties confronting growers, and T do not advocate it. Other disabilities affecting tobaccogrowers in this country, such ns the grading system which I have mentioned, must be remedied. The Australian Government and the Queensland Government are urging the growers to produce more tobacco leaf, hut we shall certainly not get more while the price of leaf remains less than 3s. per lb. I agree that the Minister for Trade and Customs should have power to vary the proportions of local and imported leaf blended by manufacturers. During the war, when .the quantity of imported leaf available to manufacturers declined very considerably, the manufacturers asked the Government to vary the tariff schedules so as to permit the' blending of a higher proportion of Australian leaf, and the Government could not do anything but agree. At . one stage the growers asked that they he paid ls. 6d. out of the excise of 10s. 6d. per lb. collected on tobacco. That would have enabled the growers to receive a fair return, but the proposal was not accepted by the Government. To-day" there is no stabilization of price to protect the growers. If we want to improve our dollar deficit, then obviously we must produce, and, if possible, export, some of the commodities for which we are at present paying dollars. For that reason the more tobacco we grow in Australia the better. To encourage increased production the growers should be given a guaranteed price of 3s. per lb.,- which is not too high. If that is done I am confident that the growers will produce the goods. {: #subdebate-31-0-s8 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER:
"Wide Bay -- - I agree that any attempt to improve the quality of Australian tobacco by increasing' the tariff on imported tobacco will not serve its purpose. One of the greatest obstacles to the- sale of Austraiian tobacco is the colossal price which consumers have to pay for it. Of that huge amount only a small sum goes to :he grower. 'We have been told by experts that a dry climate is required to grow first-class tobacco leaf, and some of these experts have claimed that the Australian climate is not suitable. However, that is contradicted by the experience of other tobacco producing countries, particularly Canada, which is snow-bound for half the year. The Canadian Go vernment has met with considerable success in its efforts to stimulate tobacco growing in that country. It has achieved that success, not by importing tobacco seed and passing .it on to the growers, but by establishing experimental stations and generally introducing scientific methods into the growth of tobacco leaf. It has paid ;pecial attention to its local climatic conditions and to the diseases and pests associated with those conditions. The result is that to-day one province in Canada produces sufficent tobacco of good quality to provide enough for consumption by all the tobacco smokers in the dominion's population of 14,000,000. That encouragement by the national government has placed Canada in a very strong position so far as expenditure is concerned when compared with Australia, which needs to import tobacco from dollar areas. Although Canada produces enough tobacco for its population it imports an amount equal to 2^- per cent, of its production for blending purposes, but it exports a similar amount. In this country, unfortunately, despite the efforts made by the Commonwealth and State Governments, there has been a sinister attempt to depress the tobaccogrowing industry. I was a member of a royal commission that inquired into the ability of the Texas area to grow tobacco and to produce minerals, stock, and so on. In evidence before that commission growers gave sworn testimony that they had been told it was useless to continue to grow tobacco, because it was not suitable and had to be kiln dried, and even though the manufacturers were paying a very low price they would nol: continue to take it. They erected kilns, but were then informed that their product was not of a sufficiently high quality because it lacked the necessary canary colour. They secured the assistance of experts from New South Wales and grew tobacco under their supervision. It was dried in kilns and had a beautiful canary colour that was evident even to a layman. The buyers then said that the tobacco tasted of eucalyptus. No greater evidence of the damage to Australia's hopes of becoming a tobacco-growing country could be produced. it is the task of, the Australian and State governments, through their scientific and industrial experts, to establish experimental stations throughout Australia, not only in Queensland, in order to discover the best areas in which to grow the various classes of tobacco use'd in cigars, pipes and cigarettes. I trust the Government will not take the view that such encouragement should not be given because already sufficient revenue is obtained from excise duties imposed upon our tobacco. Smoking has been discouraged in Australia by the extraction of £10,000,000 or £12,000,000 a year from a small population by excise and duties. If a large portion of that money was devoted to developing the cultivation of suitable Australian tobacco, we might eventually reach the same position as Canada has done. If the Government is prepared to spend money upon the experiments that must be undertaken before different classes of tobacco can be produced and an expansion of the industry commenced, fairness must be exercised in estimating what price the grower shall receive. In my own district there are kilns that have not been used for- years because the growers received such a low price for their product that' it hardly paid them, to send it away. Not only .must our scientists set to work, hut the Australian Government must institute a scheme to ensure that prices are fixed at a proper level so that the grower is protected and [ the industry is enabled to expand as it should do. {: #subdebate-31-0-s9 .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT:
New England -- I support the remarks made by the Deputy Leader pf the Australian Country party **(Mr. McEwen)** regarding the tobacco industry in Australia. It has always seemed to me to be an amazing thing that tobacco, which can be grown in as many parts of the world and in as great a variety of climates as wheat, has in latter years not been developed in Australia to the same extent 33 in other countries. "When I was marching through to Germany with the Array of Occupation in . 1919, my unit was billeted in a small village in Belgium. The cure of the village offered us some very good tobacco that had been grown in Belgium, when the climate is very severe. To my mind it was equal to any Virginian tobacco. To show that it is possible to grow tobacco in the cold northern European climate, I refer to an act placed on the statute-book of England, in the time of James I., forbidding the growing of tobacco in England and Ireland in those days, for fear that the Virginian planters should be ruined. The colony of Virginia had not then been very long established and was largely dependent for its income upon the production of tobacco. This crop can be grown in almost any climate. A perusal of the early year books of the various States of Australia and of some of the earlier issues of Coghlan's *Wealth and Progress of New South Wales* shows that there was- a very large tobacco-growing industry in Australia. The industry gradually declined, and I believe it declined partly because the growers could not get an adequate price for their product, but mainly because there was a tobacco manufacturing company in Australia that was -more interested in the development of the sales of Virginian tobacco than in the sales of the home grown product. I believe, also, that a smoker can cultivate a taste for .any tobacco. Any one who has smoked Magaliesberg South African tobacco and has spilled the ash' out of his pipe and burnt his clothing, and who can recall the rank and bitter taste of that mixture as well as the acridity of the smoke, would be very pessimistic, indeed, if he believed, that smokers cannot be led over a period of years to cultivate a taste for any kind of tobacco which it is desired they should smoke. The Australian leaf is not inferior, and need not be inferior, to much of the imported leaf. The honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** has reminded me that it was the policy of the Lyons Government to give a rebate of duty on an increasing percentage of Austraiian leaf blended with imported leaf in the manufacture of local brands. As the result of that encouragement the percentage of Australian leaf used in local manufacture steadily increased over the years, and, at the same time, the Australian smoker cultivated a taste for the Australian-grown leaf. The ultimate objective of that policy was to achieve u high-class all-Australian pack, eliminating imported leaf from manufacture altogether. The honorable member ffor Griffith **(Mr. Conelan)** said that the' growers ha'l fallen down on the job. Like other honorable members opposite, who repeatedly reveal how little they know about the problems of rural production, he showed that he knew very little about the industry. The Government, and npt the 'farmers, has fallen down on the job by failing to provide attractive prices for tobacco during the war period. As the result of that policy growers have been unable to carry out the programme laid down by the Lyons Go*vernment. To-day, sufficient leaf is not being produced to provide the basic percentage for blending originally laid down by the Lyons Government as a basis for a rebate of duty. The Government . must give the growers a better deal if more Australian tobacco is to be produced.. In addition, as the honorable member for' Maranoa **(Mr. Adermann)** and the honorable member for Indi have pointed out, every ounce of tobacco produced and smoked in this country assists our dollar position overseas. At present, we have the spectacle of this country being flooded with Virginian tobacco imported from Great Britain, which buys it in a hard currency dollar area. The honorable member for Griffith used all sorts of phrases, " semi-soft, soft, semi-hard, hard, and medium currency areas "! He has "out-keyned" Keynes in coining phrases which must make currency experts wonder what he meant. It is a sad spectacle to see dollar tobacco being imported into Great Britain, andbeing sent by that country to Australia, which is a soft currency area, simply in order to enable Great Britain to make some small profit. If we were able to produce our own requirements of tobacco there would be no need for Great Britain to import great quantities of leaf as it is doing at present from dollar areas, and, as the honorable member for Indi has pointed out, Great Britain could use the money thus saved in encouraging more profitable production and in maintaining the health of its people. Much could also be said about the need for more intensive scientific research as a means of encouraging the tobacco industry., Not only this Government, but also the State governments, treat tobacco-growing as a Cinderella industry. This is particularly evident when we measure the efforts of governments on behalf of the industry with the degree of .scientific research that has been parried out in respect of the larger and more prosperous primary -industries. I Si:. the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** to urge upon the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research **(Mr. Dedman)** the- necessity for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to co-operate with organizations in the States which are concerned with the welfare of the industry. I refer particularly to the organization which is in charge of scientific research into the industry in New South "Wales because, probably, this work has been developed to a greater degree in New South. Wales than' in. any of the other States. The objective of. such research should be to evolve' better strains of tobacco and also to educate growers concerning the classes of land suitable for the growth of the finest leaf. One of the tragedies of the industry is that many farmers attempt to grow tobacco on alluvial flats which are not suitable for the production of the finest leaf of the quality produced in Greece, which is incorporated in Egyptian cigarettes, or in Virginia which is used in the manufacture of American tobacco which, I understand, is grown mainly on pure white sand treated with organic fertilizer. In too many instances Australian farmers are attempting to grow tobacco on unsuitable land. A tremendous amount of research is called for if the industry is to prosper, and our growers must be taught many things if they are to be enabled to produce the best leaf. In such an educational campaign it would be wise to obtain films depicting the methods employed in the industry in leading tobacco producing and exporting countries. If growers in Southern Rhodesia can produce the finest Virginian class of leaf, I fail to see why Australian growers cannot produce equally fine leaf. At the same, time, it should be possible to encourage Australian smokers over a period of years to smoke nothing but Australian-produced tobacco. {: #subdebate-31-0-s10 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr FRANCIS:
Moreton .- The Government's proposal with respect to tobacco is obviously based on a policy of despair. The .schedule introduced by the- Lyons Government provided for a certain quantity of Australian leaf be blended with imported tobacco in local manufacture. That policy was designed to develop the industry in this country. This Government, however, proposes that, as insufficient leaf is being produced to give effect to the Lyons Government's policy, the Minister shall be empowered, from time to time,' having regard to the available supply of Australiangrown tobacco leaf, to. make bylaws fixing the percentage of Australian leaf that shall be blended with imported tobacco in local manufacture. The duty shows a substantial reduction in that connexion. There are two industries in Australia that, having regard to the vast' quantities of commodities, that we import, we could develop and have not developed - the tobacco in- dustry and the cotton industry. We import millions of pounds worth of tobacco annually. A few years ago, we "imported £15,000,000 worth of cotton or r-cf.ton goods annually. The production graphs for both industries show an almost perpendicular drop. The *Yearbook* of 1931 shows that tobacco wa9 first introduced in Australia in 1861. After -a few years, we had under cultivation practically the fame acreage as we have to-day. . Production since 1931-32 has steadily declined. The highest production was in 1931-32, the first year of the Lyons Government, when 12,200,000 lb. of tobacco was grown. In 1932-33 the crop totalled 9,400,000 lb. In 1933-34 it dropped to 3,200,000 lb. In subsequent it fluctuated as follows : - The last-mentioned year is the latest - for which .figures are available. We began the tobacco industry away back in 1861. So there is no doubt that tha Minister has put before the committee a policy of despair when he indicates that the Government is ' seeking the right to prescribe a lesser percentage of Australian tobacco leaf to be mixed, with imported leaf. The Government has lost heart. I say in the interests of tobacco consumers, growers, manufacturers and importers that the country is entitled to know whether the Government proposes to do anything to help the tobacco industry. Several honorable members have asked what it proposes to do, but the Minister has not replied to them. So far., he has not given any indication that he hopes to increase the production of tobacco.- But our production of tobacco and cotton is substantially below what we could .produce, because no policy ever- seems to be devised to help the two industries. I believe that irrigation must play a big part in the production of cotton and tobacco. During the war, we heard from the bureaucrats in Australia that they had great plans for the post-war development of the country and for the stepping up of production. Great schemes of irrigation were talked about. But where are they? The Government has misled the people. It has fallen down on its job. I am astonished that a government should be prepared to place such a policy of despair before, the Parliament. .Apparently people engaged in the production of tobacco and those interested in the prospects of the industry are to be given no hope for the future. The Government is recreant to the trust placed in it by the people in making this proposal, in view of the fact that the tobacco production declined from 12,200.000 lb. in 1931-32, the first year of the Lyons Government, to 2,800,000 lb. in 1944-45. That is something that must be faced. We need tobacco. The honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** laid stress on the part that the importation of tobacco from America plays in the dollar pool and the serious effect that it is having on Great Britain's economy. From our point of view, we have to step up the production of tobacco, because it is a product natural to this country, and one for the production of which we have the greatest possible scope. In past years, we have produced great quantities of tobacco and cotton, but the production of both has declined to dangerous levels. Yet the Government sits by placidly, taking no steps to increase production. If this nation is to develop, we must produce the crops that we can produce and for which the nation is crying out. I repeat that the Minister's proposal to reduce the quantity of Australian tobacco leaf that must be mixed with imported leaf in order that the imported leaf may qualify for concessional ra tes of customs duty is a policy of despair. {: #subdebate-31-0-s11 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN:
Bendigo -- I support what was said by the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** about tobacco cultivation. I believe that a great deal of the trouble in the tobacco-growing industry has been caused in the last few years by the policy of the Government in employing the buyers of the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited as appraisers. {: #subdebate-31-0-s12 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
ALP -- That is not right. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- It is of no use for the Minister to say that that is not right, because it is right. . Many of the appraisers in Victoria were employees of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, which is a bit like Vesteys' Limited, and consists of a long-headed crowd whose big money is invested in America. They want to sell their cheap, negro-grown tobacco to the people of Australia. The policy of the Government has been not to assist the Australian industry, but to use it purely as a revenueproducing instrument, and it has produced a tremendous amount of revenue. But the Government has killed the industry in Australia. Production has declined since the Government took office from more than 5,000,000 lb. to 2,800,000 lb. annually, largely because the growers have not been given a payable price. The policy of the appraisers has been to pay almost as much for the mahogany leaf, grown on the heavy country, the rich fiats, as for the fine leaf grown at Mareeba, in Queensland, and at Gunbower Island, in my electorate. The former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, **Mr. Scully,** has seen tobacco grown in my electorate and he was astounded at its quality. I think he will agree that he said that he had never seen better quality leaf. When the Government came to -power, there were approximately 40 growers in that district. One planted as much as" 40 acres a year. To-day there is only one grower there, and last season he had under cultivation only 4 acres, because he received only *id.* per lb. more for high-class leaf than was paid for the mahogany leaf grown where almost twiceas much an acre was produced as he could produce. The policy of these interests is perfectly obvious. They know that the trend to-day is towards a light cigarette tobacco - the golden leaf or thelemoncoloured leaf. They realize that if we establish the industry in Australia on a large scale, producing a high class leaf, it will be a serious competitor with Virginian tobacco. They know also that the mahogany leaf, which is grown on the rich flats, is not a serious competitor with their negro-grown tobacco. That is their policy, and I am astounded that the Government has allowed them to :' get away with it " until now. There is another matter. Provision ismade that 8 per cent, of Australiangrown leaf shall be used, but the Minister may vary that, as there might not bpsufficient Australian leaf to make up therequisite quantity. I realize that if thereis not sufficient leaf, the percentage might have to be reduced, hut responsibility fortius position rests with this Government*. Therefore, it must alter its policy, subsidize the growers and ensure that they shall return to reasonable conditions. The Government must also ensure that a just, price shall be paid for the higher grade leaf, and that the producers of mahogany leaf shall receive the cost of production plus a reasonable profit. In every way,, they should be encouraged. As the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen )? pointed out, an increase of Australiangrown tobacco will be of great assistanceto the United Kingdom and Australia inreducing the expenditure of dollars upon American tobacco. At present this expenditure causes a tremendous drain on the dollar pool. Therefore, I urge the Government to revise its policy and instead of using the excise and customs tariff aspurely revenue-producing instruments,, devote a large portion of the collectionsto the encouragement of the industry in** Australia. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is one of the finest organizations in this country," and possibly in the world. It is capable of conducting experiments to improve the quality of our tobacco. I believe that wu should expend money through this organization, improve the quality of our leaf, and endeavour to eradicate the diseases which cause considerable losses to the industry. Tobacco-growers should receive the cost of production plus a reasonable, profit. If my recommendations are adopted, the tobacco industry will expand, and the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited will not then be in a position to strangle our growers. {: #subdebate-31-0-s13 .speaker-KSD} ##### Mr McLEOD:
Wannon .- I am impelled to participate in this discussion by certain remarks of Opposition members. The honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** made a good contribution to the debate, but , he *-ould not avoid accusing the Labour Government of killing the tobacco industry. The truth, of course, isthat the Scullin Government was the first Administration which ever encouraged the tobacco industry in Australia. Unfortunately, the Scullin Government was defeated after it had been in office for two years, and I saw the fate which befell the tobacco industry under successive United Australia party Australian Country party administrations, which acted on behalf of the great monopolistic interests to which the honorable member for Bendigo referred. I hope that those interests do not still wield the same influence as formerly in appraisals. I should not like to think that they do, because the Labour Government has given growers a majority of. representation on the Tobacco Board. Surely the members of the Tobacco Board ensure that the things which the honorable member for Bendigo mentioned are not being " put over " the industry. I should not like to think that that is happening, although it is possible. Honorable members representing Queensland constituencies, including the honorable member for Maranoa. **(Mr. Adermann)** have made fine contributions to this debate. As Australians, we know that we can grow tobacco successfully in this country. Other countries with climatic conditions similar to our own, are able to grow tobacco satisfactorily. We ask, why cannot we do so in Australia? I am not a tobacco-grower- {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- We shall not be able to grow tobacco satisfactorily in Australia under the 40-hour working week. {: .speaker-KSD} ##### Mr McLEOD: -- There may be difficulties. 'We have not the experience and technical knowledge of other tobaccogrowing countries, but when the Scullin Government was encouraging this industry, I saw in ray own electorate some very fine tobacco grown on the lighter soils. The most important type of leaf is the lemon leaf. I have seen it grown on poorer classes of soil. I agree with the statement that in the rich irrigation areas, a big leaf is produced, hut the demand for it is not very great. In probably every State, there are areas which have a suitable climate, rainfall and soil for tobaccogrowing. The soil need not necessarily be of the heavy variety. Some of the finest tobacco leaf has been produced on poor soil which, in its. virgin state, was scrub country. The excise from the leaf grown on this land yielded a considerable sura. At one period, the growers were encouraged by the results, and by the revenue that they derived from their small tobacco farms, to invest their profits in the building of a kiln. In the following year, they were ruined. Excise was increased and import duties were, reduced on the importation of Virginian leaf, with the result that these Australian growers were unable to compete. Yet some honorable members opposite accused the Scullin Government of destroying the Australian tobacco-growing industry. When a Labour government again took office in 1941, it found that the price of every primary product, including wool, wheat and tobacco, was below the cost of production. Consequently, it had to take steps to give the producer a payable price plus a reasonable profit. Now, the Government has taken further steps to encourage tobacco-growing. The Australian Labour party has always contributed more to this industry than have the political parties which constitute the Opposition in this chamber, because we do not owe any allegiance to that great monopoly, the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- It must be the only monopoly to which the Labour government does not owe any allegiance. {: .speaker-KSD} ##### Mr McLEOD: -- I believe that departmental' officers and the Government would know if a monopoly was exerting an unfortunate influence' on the tobacco industry. I am aware that the Tobacco Board will protect the interest of the growers. For the unfortunate position of the industry before the Labour Government took office in 1941, I blame members of the Australian Country party rather than members of the Liberal party, who frankly represent " big business ". The majority of members of the Australian Country party claim that they a,re not associated in any way with " big business "', yet as a political organization, they allied themselves with the Liberal party. The Labour Government will ensure that as far as possible, this industry will be assisted in every possible way in the technical sphere. I understand that an embargo has been placed upon the importation of seed. It sometimes occurs to me that Australian growers may not have the right kind of seed, or need a change of seed. I have discussed the subject with officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, who informed me that they have evolved a method for immunizing seedlings against the onset of blue mould, which is a serious disease in tobacco. Later, I hope that the Minister will -explain exactly what the department is doing in this field of experimentation. Australian smokers use approximately 26,000,000 lb. of tobacco annually, yet we grow only 5,000,000 lb. or 6,000,000 lb. per annum. Probably one-half of that is coarse tobacco, or pipe tobacco, whereas the big demand is for the light tobacco. {: .speaker-JRJ} ##### Mr Bowden: -- The honorable member would not like to smoke some of the Australiangrown leaf. {: .speaker-KSD} ##### Mr McLEOD: -- I do not know why some people are always prejudiced against anything produced in Australia. {: .speaker-JRJ} ##### Mr Bowden: -- -I have smoked the Australiangrown leaf. {: .speaker-KSD} ##### Mr McLEOD: -- I have great confidence in our tobacco-growers. .By ex perimentation, Australian pastoralistsbuilt up our great wool industry, and Australians have produced a rustresistant wheat. Our young men are technically minded, and our tobaccogrowers,with the assistance of the scientists, will overcome their problems. We can rely upon the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** to deal with any adverse influences that may be brought to bear by big business interests upon tobacco growing _ in this country. We must .face the practical problems involved. The production of tobacco requires an enormous amount of labour. That was proved in the area of which I spoke earlier. Even in the worst days of the depression not one person was drawing sustenance in that district. Everybody was employed in the tobacco industry. The provision of sufficient labour to increase tobacco production within the next couple of years will be most difficult. There is a shortage of labour in almost every primary industry as well as the secondary . industries of this country. I have no doubt, however, that means will be found of overcoming this problem, possibly by the use of machinery. Again I refute the suggestion that this Government has been responsible for the reduction that has taken place in the production of tobacco in this country in recent years. In fact, I go so far as to say that had the broad principle laid down by the Labour Government originally been adhered to, tobacco production would probably be somewhere in the vicinity of 12,000,000 lb. or 15,000,000 lb, a year instead of the mere trifle that is being produced to-day. {: #subdebate-31-0-s14 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
Northern Territory -- I was most interested in the remarks of. the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** in his advocacy of an increase of tobacco production in this country as a means of easing the dollar problem. The honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Adermann),** too, gave an indication of his practical knowledge of the industry when he drew attention to the manner in which tobacco-growers in this country have been browbeaten and deprived of just returns for their products. As the honorable member said, land for tobacco-growing was sold in 1931 at. exorbitant prices, and then the W. D. and {: type="A" start="H"} 0. 0. Wills combine succeeded in using our tariff barriers a3 a- means of exploiting the people of this country by importing cheap " negrogrown " tobacco. The tobacco industry of Australia has suffered most severely and it is time that some government saw the light, ' particularly in view of the increased knowledge of tobacco growing that has been acquired over the years since the first attempt was made to inaugurate the industry in this country. I am one of the few members of this Parliament who has actually grown tobacco. In my younger days I grew tobacco on the rich flats of the Dumaresq River at Ashford, near Inverell. I am pleased indeed that the agricultural potentialities of this area have at last been recognized, and that a weir is to be built across the river at Mingoola, not far from Inverell. The type of tobacco that we grew there was the "shoestring"- variety, with leaves anything up to four feet long and ribs as thick as a man's finger. We realize now, of course, that the soil was too rich and that we were growing a type of tobacco leaf for which there is no demand to-day. However, iri' 1931, in my more mature years, I bought a farm at Kingaroy, once again to try tobacco growing. Knowing that the Greeks were experts in the production of tobacco, my brother and I went to Brisbane and, after an interview with the Greek Consul, we had an expert Greek tobacco-grower visit our farm. When he saw corn growing eleven fee; high and with as many as three v cobs on one stalk, he laughed and went away. He said g hat the soil was far too rich for tobacco. So the land wa9 converted to other agricultural activities. We know now that Australia's second-class lands are" the most suitable for the growing of the light leaf that, is so much in demand. In north Queensland and in the Northern Territory there are millions of acres of this type of land. Another examination should be made of the rivers of the Northern Territory, and instead of flying to grow tobacco on the rich alluvial flats, crops should be cultivated on the higher reaches of the rivers in the light soil areas. Millions of acres of this type of country are idle to-day. All our first- class agricultural areas have been taken up and we are searching for some economic activity that can be carried on in the less fertile soils. Tobacco and cotton growing is the solution of this problem. Strangely enough, these two commodities are in the shortest supply in this country to-day, yet Australia is capable of producing large quantities of ' them. I agree with the honorable member for Indi and the honorable member for Maranoa that we should take a longterm Australian view of our present difficulties, ' and ensure that steps' shall be taken to devote some of our surplus revenue to increasing the production of these much needed commodities by utilizing hitherto undeveloped second-class land. The honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** has given some enlighten-, ing facts. I assume that- he speaks with some authority on this subject. His reference to the activities of appraisers has revealed yet another instance of rascality. Apparently,, when an increased payment for tobacco has been recommended by the Government, the appraisers have applied stricter standards of grading, so that the grower ha.? derived little or no benefit. It is inevitable that an appraiser who is also thi' buying agent of a company will be biased,, at least subconsciously if not consciously, in favour of the organization that he represents. Apparently, the ethical standards of these men have not been very high. Buyers should not be permitted to act also as appraisers. Tobacco-growers should be protected from this sort of exploitation. That is the duty of thi' Government. Immediate action is required to place tobacco growing in this country on a sound footing. We have listened too long to those who claim that tobacco grown in Australia has a flavour of eucalyptus, or some nauseating smell. Appraising could be done by experts of the Council for Scientific and Research. I recall that in 1935, a year after I was elected to this Parliament, **Dr. Dickson** of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in his report upon the tobacco industry, said that tobacco grown in certain areas around the -Katharine River, 200 miles south of Darwin, had been classified as. among the best that had ever been brought to Canberra. In 1936, when a conservative government was in power, and the honorable member for Balaclava was Minister for Trade and Customs, I succeeded in securing permission for a tobacco-grower on the Daly River to manufacture his own tobacco under excise supervision by the local police officer. He is now selling his product to the Government and exporting it to New Guinea for the natives. That brings me to another point. In the old days, a station manager could buy tobacco intended for use by the aborigines at 2s. per lb. Choice tobacco cost 13s. 6d. per lb., but that price was so high that many smokers could not afford to buy it and they decided to buy the cheap type. Thereupon the tobacco industry raised the price of the inferior tobacco to 10s. 6d. per lb. Then the station-owners decided that they might as well pay the extra 3s. per lb and enjoy a good smoke instead of using the aborigines' tobacco. That is one reason why the rake-off of the companies has been so great. They have charged inflated prices for inferior grades of tobacco usually smoked by natives. The industry is seriously in need of an overhaul. The Government should be well-informed on the subject now, because honorable members on this side of the chamber have stated the facts clearly. It is high time for the Government to authorize a reliable classification of soils in order to solve the problem of finding suitable areas for the production of various kinds of tobacco under economic conditions. {: #subdebate-31-0-s15 .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr SCULLY:
Vice-President of the Executive Council · Gwydir · ALP -- Although I wasnot present when the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** spoke, I have listened to the remarks of other speakers and I am in agreement with them to a degree. The history of the tobacco industry in Australia up to date has been sordid. I say advisedly, as a Minister who was directly interested in tobacco production for five or six years, that the Government has not had the co-operation and the backing that it should have had from the major tobacco company operating in. Australia. That company, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin),** has had a considerable effect on the industry in this country. It seems to wield adisproportionate degree of influence. It is all very well for honorable members opposite; to blame this Government for the present condition of the tobacco industry, but when Icame into office as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture I found in existence a tobaccoboard that had been created by my predecessor, a member of the Australian Country party, which was entirely dominated by manufacturing interests. There was' only one representative of the growers on the board. At the first opportunity I disbanded that body and appointed a board with a preponderance of members representing: the growers of the various tobacco producing areas of Australia. There were representatives of Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland nominated by the growers themselves. This board was established under National Security Regulations, and for the first time in the history of Australia the industry had a governing body truly representative of the producers. The war was then hard upon us, and the major tobacco-growing areas in southern Queensland suffered severely because production there was principally in the hands of enemy aliens, Italians. These Italians were taken off the tobacco flats along the Dumaresq River, an area which is considered by myself and by many other experts to be the Virginia of Australia. With proper development and adequate irrigation, that land can produce sufficient high-quality tobacco leaf to meet Australian requirements. There are tens of thousands of acres of good quality tobacco growing land there. All that is needed to enable production to be developed is adequate irrigation, and the water can be obtained when the big dam which hasbeen planned is completed.That will open up one of the finest tobacco growing areas in the world. I refer now to the Australian TobaccoBoard. After a year of operation, I had complaints from members of the reconstituted board. My reply was "Well, the growers have a majority on the board. What more can I do ? " Various sections of the growers' representatives complained that the growers' representatives from other areas were letting them down and taking sides with the manufacturers' representatives. Then I called a conference with the Prices Commisioner and, with the backing of Cabinet, we agreed upon an increase of 10 per cent, upon appraisement prices. As the honorable member for Bendigo has said, some good prices were fixed by appraisal for high quality tobacco, but the overall price was the same as for the previous season. Then we called another conference. The Prices Commisioner heard the complaints of the growers, and we decided in the following season to grant a further increase of 10 per cent, or 15 per cent. That satisfied the growers at the time, but when the season had ended and the appraisal for the whole of Australia had been averaged, we found that the result was still the same as it had been two years previously. When I broached the subject with the appraisers and officials of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, they said that the quality of the leaf was to blame. I admit that a lot of the leaf which I inspected in Western Australia was not up to standard. However, I have been associated with the tobacco industry for many years and I am able to say without fear of successful contradiction that the tobacco generally was of a fair average quality. My judgment has the support of expert growers. Always, there, seemed to be a mysterious influence which -brought average prices down to the levels which prevailed years previously. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- Who were the appraisers ? {: .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr SCULLY: -- There were representatives of the growers, the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, and the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited. The representative of the company in my opinion - and others who know him will agree with me - is one of the greatest experts on tobacco in Australia. Nobody doubts his ability as an expert, and I cast ' no reflections upon his integrity. Nevertheless, there seemed to be one mysterious influence dominating the appraisals, and prices did not advance. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- You were the Minister. Why did not you do something about it? {: .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr SCULLY: -- I did. I made certain recommendations to Cabinet and, in order to assist the industry, the Govern.merit. for the first time in the history of Australia, made a direct contribution of over £10,000 by way of bonus so that the growers should have an adequate return from the previous season's crop. We did 'everything humanly possible in the circumstances. We did much more than had been done by any previous government, because it was during the history of the government to which the honorable member for Indi belonged that the Australian tobacco industry fell into the. doldrums. When I took over the portfolio of Commerce and Agriculture during the war, labour was hard to get and hundreds of enemy aliens on tobacco farms had to be interned. That is how the industry fell into difficulties. Furthermore, the amount of work that has to be applied- to the production of tobacco is far greater than that required in any other agricultural pursuit. Because of the great prosperity enjoyed by primary industry in this country during the war, most of the men employed in tobaccogrowing engaged in other industries which provided higher wages and better conditions. Moreover, labour difficulties were accentuated in the tobacco-growing industry because it is a hazardous and highly technical one. Notwithstanding those difficulties, everything that could be done by the Government to assist the industry during the war years was done. In appreciation of the Government's efforts, I. was tendered a dinner in southern Queensland by leading growers of tobacco in that State, who said that the present Government had clone more for the industry than any previous government. As evidence of the sincerity of the solicitude of members of the Opposition for tobaccogrowers, I recall that when they were in power the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited declined to accept huge quantities of Australian leaf. Things were so bad that when I became Minister for Commerce and Agriculture one of the first documents presented for my signature was an order to burn some thousands- of pounds of leaf in my own electorate. I informed the officer of the department who presented the order to me for my signature that I would not authorize its destruction. He was surprised, and said : " The Department of Trade and Customs has ordered it to be destroyed ". I declined to sign the order, however, and summoned representatives of the growers, who negotiated with the Tobacco Board and som<: of the smaller companies. The result was that some of the smaller companies made an offer for the tobacco, which encouraged the major companies to interest themselves in it also. In the Tamworth district alone over £14,000 worth of tobacco was salvaged. That tobacco leaf was manufactured into smoking tobacco and I did not hear any complaints about its quality. I am not a smoker, but I assume honorable members who arn smokers consumed some of that tobacco and appreciated it. I emphasize that it was only my personal intervention that saved the crop. It is all very well for the honorable member for Moreton (M>. Francis) to say that 12,000,000 lb. of tobacco leaf was grown during the year that the government which he supported took office, but he omitted to mention that thi- tobacco was grown because of the inducement provided by the Scullin Government, which imposed a high protective tariff. When the Government which the honorable member supported took office that tariff was reduced, and the. Australian tobacco-growing industry suffered a blow from which it has not yet recovered. Many honorable members who condemn the Government for its attitude . towards tobacco-growers were members of that Government, and the honorable member for Moreton was a prominent member of it. It is of no use for him to seek to delude the tobaccogrowers of this country, because their memories are at least as good as his own. As one who knows something of the industry, I say that we can grow tobacco equal to any in the world. I have seen tobacco leaf grown in the Mareeba district, mentioned by the honorable member for Bendigo, which is at least equal, to any imported tobacco. All that is required to produce sufficient high quality tobacco leaf in this country is to introduce proper systems of irrigation to provide a regular supply of water for the crop. Of course, support must be forthcoming from the smokers of Australia, If further encouragement is required for Australian tobacco-growers I should boprepared to afford it- by imposing a high duty. Most of the tobacco which came into this country in former years was thu excess production of countries likeRhodesia and the southern States of America, where coloured labour is employed. It should be remembered that it is no longer 'possible for the Government to protect tobacco-growers by means of the National Security Regulations. Bearing in mind that the export of tobacco would be a most valuable source of income to this country, I would not hesitate to impose a highly protective tariff in order to develop this important industry. {: #subdebate-31-0-s16 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- The Australian tobacco-growing industry has had many vicissitudes. It is a fact that in many countries tobacco is used as a revenue producer, but it should be borne in mind that there is a " law of diminishing returns ", somethingwhich governments in this country tend to forget. . The variable duties on tobacco were introduced by the Lyons Government, and, as the Minister who introduced that legislation, I accept any praiseor blame that may be forthcoming. Ourpurpose in introducing that legislation was to ensure the consumption of an increasing quantity of locally grown tobacco, something which supporters of the Government appear to have forgotten. I agree with the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** that this industry is one which has a great future. Like cotton, it does not require first-class land, but -it does require land which has been carefully selected for the purpose. Unfortunately, 'because of theprohibitive tariff imposed by a .Labourgovernment and the operations of "land sharks ", who sold unsuitable land at high prices for tobacco-growing, many tobacco-grower's sustained heavy losses and the industry' suffered a great set-back. The Tariff Board made very desirable- recommendations. The Lyons . Government, instead of allowing these men to be gulled, made a grant of £40,000 a year for research in order to encourage production. That research work was to be done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The Minister for the Navy **(Mr. Riordan)** will remember that although there were occasional good crops at Mareeba, on other occasions the crop was a complete failure because of downy mildew and other diseases. It was because the Lyons Government granted that amount for five years to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research that ultimately a remedy was found for this disease, thereby making the cultivation of tobacco a more certain operation. Although tobacco was at one time grown in perhaps 48 States of the United States of America, production is now largely confined to the State of Virginia. It would have been beneficialif this country had gone on with the progressive research that we instituted. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** has said,the richer the land is the stronger andranker is the tobacco. The same applies in a large measure to the wine industry. As to the Tamworth district about whichthe Vice-President of the Executive Council has spoken, all the Chinese market gardeners thereturned over to tobaccogrowingbecause of the ridiculous policy ofthe Labour Government of that time. The honorable member says he does not smoke, but he lives in a pipe dream. He does not know this industry. I went to Tamworth and I saw the tobacco to which he has referred. In the Parliament I quoted the names of the Chinese growers who could not sell it. They were unable to effect sales because the leaf was too rank. The research policy we instituted after the Tariff Board inquiry meant that better tobacco was produced in Australia, most of which could be sold. This Government talks of saving dollars, but it allows imported tobacco tocome in to the detriment of Australian tobacco. Why does it not follow the example that we set? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- If we did, there would benone grownat all. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- The Minister is new to this industry, and I wish him well in it. Possibly he may learn a little from this debate. Honorable members opposite talk of the dollar stringency.Britain made a drastic cut in tobacco and film imports. This Government has not touched films; itallows them to come in as before provided the exporters invest some of their earnings in Australia. We draw dollars from Britain to pay for pictures in Australia. The Government's policy in regard to tobacco is almost the same, for the tobacco is imported from the United States of America. That is apparently considered to be more desirable than that the Australian industry should be dealt with scientifically. The usual brick has been thrown at the manufacturing companies. There is not only one company, although one . is certainly very much bigger than the others. Who has been the friend of this company? I draw the Government's attentionto a bill brought down in April, 1944, allowing a rebate of £250,000 on excise duty to the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited. Thatwas called price stabilization. The reason given to justify therebate was that American tobacco had increased in price and that the increase couldnot be passed onto thepublic. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- Under the Economic Organization Regulations. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- It does not matter what it was under; I am giving facts. I only mention thisbecause honorable members opposite havemade this a political subject instead of trying to be helpful to the growers. The Government granteda 4½ per cent. reduction in the excise duty. The company that received the benefit of that was the big company; its share was £250,000. I ask the Government not to punish this industry more heavily and. not to talk about helping the men on the land when allthe time it is bleeding them white and punishing the people who use their tobacco. TheGovernment should see that these variable duties operate. The purpose of this schedule is to revert to those duties and the Minister at the table willhaveto assist in implementing them. Let' the Government go on increasing the quantity of Australian tobacco as it becomes available and as the quality improves. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- That is what is provided for. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- M - Many mis-statements have been made to-night by honorable members opposite who do not understand what happened in the past. The very heavy tobacco is not always saleable except for fumigation and other purposes, but the mahogany type, the lemon leaf and the like, is readily saleable. More and more of that could be sold and more and more land could be taken up for the purpose of growing it. Instead of wasting revenue on socialistic schemes, instead of starting airlines here, there and everywhere in an attempt to anticipate private enterprise, the Government might well consider allowing this money to go back to the people, and encouraging the industry by means of direct grants to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Let it find ways and means of achieving a greater expansion of the industry, which would also result in a saving of dollars, thus helping Australia and, indirectly, Britain. {: #subdebate-31-0-s17 .speaker-KCA} ##### Mr DAVIDSON:
Capricornia -- The discussion on this item has not only emphasized the desirability of expanding the production of tobacco in Australia, but it has also indicated the degree of assistance that will need to be provided. There is obviously no argument about the fact is highly desirable that the tobacco industry should be developed. There is in my mind, however, considerable doubt as to the value of these provisions in assisting to bring that about. The provisions are that foreign tobacco imported and used in a blend with Australian tobacco shall attract a lower tariff rate than foreign tobacco not so blended, the idea being that Australian manufacturers will be persuaded to use a larger percentage of Australian leaf than would be otherwise used. Whilst that certainly provides a degree of assistance to the industry, it is nevertheless, in my opinion, rather a left-handed way of doing it. It has been tried in other industries, notably the power alcohol industry, where it was provided that certain .petrols had to be blended with a certain proportion of power alcohol. The plan was not particularly successful in that case; nor has it been particularly successful in the development of the tobacco industry, as is shown by the decline in production. Tobacco of good quality can certainly be grown in Australia. The Vice-President of the Executive Council **(Mr. Scully)** says that he has seen tobacco produced in Australia comparable' with any produced in other parts of the world. I do not doubt that. I myself have seen splendid tobacco being grown along the coast of Queensland. Moreover, as .'the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** has pointed out, a particular feature about the industry is that the best quality leaf is produced from the poorer soil. As a matter of fact, in the Koumala and Sarina districts in my electorate, tobacco grown on white spewy soil which agriculturalists would not consider for the production of other crops, has brought the highest prices. It is clear that the quality of leaf required to suit Australian smokers can be grown in this country. What is most needed in order to develop the industry is assistance in a. form which will guarantee security to the grower and thus enable him to continue in production. The. decrease of production has been mainly caused not by the elimination of enemy aliens from the industry during the war, as the VicePresident of the Executive Council suggested, but because ' many Australian growers went out of production when the industry did not offer them a fair return for their labour and capital. Throughout the tobacco-growing areas are to be seen kilns erected by growers which are not in operation at present. The assistance required by the industry can be classified under two headings First, growers need help in the technical sphere. This is a young industry which is attempting to develop in the face of fierce competition from other countries. In that respect it differs from some other ' primary industries which have developed from small beginnings, but which have not been faced with such fierce foreign competition. Those industries had to develop varieties based on intensive studies of soil types before they were able to succeed in producing first quality products. I refer to the wheat and sugar industries in which, as well as in other industries, a great deal of money had to be expended in the early stages of their development in experimenting with various types having regard to the suitability of the soils available. In view of the prices now being paid, tobacco growers find it utterly impossible to outlay the expenditure necessary to undertake essential experimentation. Therefore, the first assistance which the Government must give to the industry is in respect of experimentation. The second form of assistance most needed by the industry is the provision of a guaranteed price. Let us compare the return to the grower with that obtained by the Government from the industry. At short notice I have not been able to obtain detailed figures relating to prices, but I say without fear of contradiction that the average price being received by the growers would not exceed 3s. per lb. At the same time, the schedule now under consideration provides for duties from 5s. per lb. to over 9s. per lb. That means that the Government is receiving much more revenue than the producers from the production of tobacco. The Government should realize that the industry, at its present stage of development, cannot be regarded as a. revenue producer. On the contrary, a large proportion of the revenue received by the Government either from local production or imported tobacco can be returned to the industry with profit ultimately to both the Government and the industry. If that were done, and the producer were guaranteed a price that would yield him a fair return, he would go on developing the industry ; and in the long run such assistance would prove to be a profitable investment from the point of view of the Government. Assistance in that form would be much more valuable to the industry than that suggested by the VicePresident of the Executive Council when he said that he would even agree to a considerable increase of the duty on tobacco. Such a policy would only have the effect of increasing the price to the consumer, thus restricting consumption, whilst providing morerevenue to the Government without giving any material assistance to the producer. That is not a sound method of assisting the industry. 1 submit that in order to assist the in dustry effectively the Government must realize that the industry cannot develop on the basis of the small degree of protection afforded under this proposal. The Government must offer some other form of assistance, and the best form would be to return to the industry a considerable proportion of the revenue which it now derives from tariff duty. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 63 {:#debate-32} ### PAPERS The following papers were pre sented : - Aliens Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 8. Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1947- No. 106 - Peace Officer Guard Association. No. 107 - Federated Ironworkers' Association of Australia. Nos. 108-110 - Hospital Employees' Federation of Australasia. No.111 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others. No. 112 - Federated Ironworkers' Association of Australia. No. 113 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others. No. 114 - Commonwealth Medical Officers' Association. No. 1 1 5 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others. No.116 - Amalgamated Engineering Union. Nos. 117-119 - Association of Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and Draughtsmen of Australia. Nos. 120-121 - Commonwealth Foremen's Association. 1948- No. 1 - Federated Ironworkers' Association of Australia and others. No. 2 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans' Association. Australian Broadcasting Act - Fifteenth Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for year 1946-47. Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 169 Commonwealth Bank Act - Appointments - M. J. Boyce, F. L. Harper, B. Koroloff. Commonwealth Employees' Compensation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948. No. 13. Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department - Attorney -General - F. Wilkins. Civil Aviation - L. J. Clementson, A. Drew, J. E. French, G. C. T. Morrison. T. F. W. Robbing, F. G. Shanahan. Commerce and Agriculture - W. J. Bettenay. Interior - J. A. W. Banks, B. C. Hamilton, W. A. Macdonald, J. D. McConnell, A, W. Sharp. Labour and National Service - W. T. Clark, B. W. Foord, E. Freidin, P. M. Goldston. Post-war Reconstruction - T. T. Colquhoun. Repatriation - R. K. Hopkins, C. Williams. Supply and Shipping - P. O'Neill. Works and Housings - A. T. Brunton, T. E. Collins, J. A. Drake, C. K. Fraser. L. G. Grant, F. T. Jellett, J. M. Keane, C. C. McCarthy, K. R. McGeachin, C. M. Miller, E. R. Peck, A. J. Perry,. W. J. Richardson, H. J. Rose, J. P. Rose, T. V. Sheppard, A. B. Smith, B. B. Smith, D. B. Windebank. Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, Nos. 163, 165 (Parliamentary Officers). Customs Act - Customs Proclamation - No.691. Regulations - Statutory Rules- 1947, No. 164. 1948, No. 6. Customs Act and Commerce (Trade, Descriptions) Act - Regulations - StatutoryRules 1948, No. 11. Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 1. Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, Nos. 166, 167. Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Apple and Pear Acqui sition) Regulations - Order - Apple and pear acquisition 1947-48. National Security (Economic Organiza- tion) Regulations - Orders - Exemption. War servicelandsettlement - Victorian (6-dated 1st December, 1947. 3rd December,1947 (2), and 12th January, 1948 (3)). National Security (Enemy Property) Regulations - Order - Persons ceasing tobe enemy subjects. Nationnal Security (Industrial Property Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (31 ). National Security (Prices) Regulations - Declarations -Nos. 165-167. National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders- Nos. 3166, 31.67, 3178-3182. 3184-3256. National Security (Rabbit Skins) Regulations - Order- - Returns. National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Order - No. 152. National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Order - 1947, No. 57. National Security (Wheat Acquisition) Regulations - Order - Acquisition of wheat. Regulations - Statutory Rules - 1947, No. 168. 1948, Nos. 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 15. Egg Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules1948, No. 17. Egg Export Control Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1948; No. 18. Immigration Act. - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 161. Incometax Assessment Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1947, No. 173. Judiciary Act - Rule of Court, dated 21st October, 1947. Lands Acquisition Act- Land acquired for- Council for Scientific and Industrial Research purposes - Armidale, New South Wales. Geelong, Victoria. Indooroopilly, Queensland. Defence purposes - Amberley, Queensland. Dowerin South, Western Australia. Hamilton, Victoria. Rushcutters Bay, New South Wales. Springbank, South Australia. Stuart Junction, Queensland. Department of Civil Aviation purposes- Bowen, Queensland. Carpentaria Downs, Queensland. Cooktown, Queensland. Geraldton, Western Australia. Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. Kingscote, South Australia. Townsville, Queensland. Winton, Queensland. Department of the Interior purposes - Port Hedland, Western Australia. Department of Social Services purposes - Warrawee, New South Wales. Department of Works and Housing purposes - Perth, Western Australia. Postal purposes - Altona, Victoria. Caloundra, Queensland. Cessnock, New South Wales. Clifton, Queensland. Coonamble, New South Wales. Co r in d a, Queensland. Cremorne, New South Wales. Darlinghurst, New South Wales. Diamond Creek, Victoria. Gawler, South Australia. Haymarket(Sydney), New South Wales. Katanning, Western Australia, Kew East, Victoria. Mallala, South Australia. Melton, Victoria. Mossman Park, Western Australia. Newmarket, Victoria. Singleton, New South Wales. Somerton, Victoria. Sunshine, Victoria. Temora, New South Wales. Tully, Queensland. Woolloongabba, Queensland. Yarram, Victoria. Telephonic purposes - Rockhampton Queensland. Meat Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 12. Nationality Act - Return for 1947. Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance - 1948 - No. 1 - Slaughtering. Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Regulations- 1947 - No. 3(Darwin Town Area Leases Ordinance). No. 4 (Aboriginals Ordinance). Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinances - 1947- No. 13 - Administration and Probate (New Guinea). No. 14- Trustee Companies. No.15- Supply (No. 2)1947-48. 1948- No. 1- Supply (No. 3) 1947-48. Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulation - Statutory Rules 1948, Nos. 9, 16. Science and Industry Research Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 5. Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act- Ordinances - 1947- No. 11 - Housing. No. 12 - Education. No. 13- Motor Traffic (No. 2). No. 14 - City Area Leases. No. 15 - Trustee Companies. 1948-No. 1 - Liquor. Regulations - 1947 - No. 4 (Motor Traffic Ordinance). No. 5 (Motor Traffic Ordinance). Social Services Contribution Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 172. Stevedoring Industry Act - Orders - 1947, "A"-"E". 1948. Nos. 1, 2. Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 170. Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 171. Superannuation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 14. War Service Homes Act-Report of War Service Homes Commission for year 1946-47, together with statement and balance-sheet. House adjourned at 10.17 p.m. answerstoquestions. *The following answers to questions were circulated: -* War Crimes. William Webb's return to Japan have been completed. He left Brisbane by air on Tuesday, the 9th December, 1947. Public Service : Temporary Employees. >What is the total number of temporary Commonwealth public servants? > >How many have been so employed (a) for over 25 years, (b) for over ten years and (c) for over five years? > >Is it necessary for the head of each department to certify that a temporary employee is likely to be employed for a further ten years before he can obtain superannuation rights ? > >How many temporary employees are participating in the superannuation scheme? > >What amendments, if any, are proposed to enabletemporary employees to become permanent employees if their continued employment for long periods is likely? The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: - >1.68,267. > >2. (a) 109; (b) 1,708; (c) 12,387. > >Yes, under section 4 (5) of the Superannuation Act. > >2,024. > >5.No amendments are proposed. Armed Forces: Pay and Allowances. >Is it a fact that where a serviceman and his wife lived together under normal circumstances prior to his enlistment 3s. a day separation allowance and 4s. a day marriage allowance were paid under the scale of payments introduced on the 1st July, 1947? > >From his daily rate of pay and allowances, is a serviceman obliged to allot 13s. a day to his wife? > >Is it a fact that where a husband becomes separatedfrom his wife through his wife's misconduct, the separation and marriage allowances are not paid to the serviceman? > >Where a wife is forced to obtain a separation or maintenance order against her serviceman husband, because of the husband's misconduct, are the separation and marriage allowances refused? > >If so, does this practice impose an extreme hardship upon the serviceman's wife through no fault of her own? > >Is it a fact that, when such cases are heard by magistrates in Western Australia, they invariably order payments! of amounts to coincide with payments made to dependants who are livingunder normal circumstances with their husbands, namely, 13s. a day, or £411s. a week ? > >Is it a fact that, where such an order exists, a serviceman cannot allot 13s. a day to his wife if his rate of pay is only 10s. a day, and, therefore, unless he is granted a court order for a reduction of the amount of maintenance, he is liable to arrest under warrant for arrears upon his discharge from the services ? > >Will he examine the July instruction and provide that, where families were living together under normal circumstances prior to the husband's enlistment, and, because of the husband's conduct the wife has been forced to leave him, either by mutual arrangement or by court order, he should receive the separation and marriage allowances and his wife the 13s. a day allotment? >Yes. > >A married serviceman as at (1) is obliged to allot 13s. per day, which includes an amount of 7s. per day for marriage and separation allowance. > >Yes, but the member would be regarded as a single man and in lieu of the 3s. separation allowance and 4s. marriage allowance, would receive 4s.6d. per day " living-out " allowance if living out of camp. > >Separation and marriage allowances are not payable in these circumstances, but the conditions as at 3 above apply. > >Not necessarily. If the wife has obtained a maintenance order against her husband, the District Finance Officer may, under the provisions of National Security (Military Forces) Regulations (Regulation No.6) make a compulsory allotment to the wife from the pay of the member. > >I have no information of the practice obtaining in civil courts in Western Australia. > >See reply to question No.6. It is pointed out, however, that the lowest rate of active pay for an Australian soldier out of the recruit stage is11s. per day, exclusive of allowances. Unless a soldier is living in camp, the minimum rate of pay is 15s.6d. per day. > >The question of reviewing certain provisions of the new pay code in the light of experience since the 1st July, 1947, is proceeding. The class of case to which the honorable member refers is at present under consideration. Iron and Steel. >Present production of iron and steel in the Commonwealth is higher than in pre-war years but demands are substantially greater. This is due to our current industrial expansion, hack log of unsatisfied demands and the fact that large quantities of semi-fabricated steel products and special lines which were previously imported arc not now available to us from abroad. > >The iron and steel industries have commenced production of many of those special lines and are planning to meet most of Australia's requirements from local production but it will be a long time before present shortages are overcome. > >On the one hand is the ever-increasing demand for raw iron and steel goods and for semi-fabricated products for structural and other purposes; and on the other is the restrictive influence of man-power and fuel shortages which make it impossible for these industries to produce to the full capacity of their plants. > >As an instance, the production of galvanized fencing wires (which was suspended during the war years) is limited only by lack of labour and is being increased as men can be attracted to the industry. But production is meeting a part only of the great demand for these essential materials and a large accumulation of orders has still to be satisfied. > >In the meantime, exports of iron and steel are restricted so as to assist, to the greatest practicable extent, housing, food production and industrial programmes within the Commonwealth. > >Constant attention is being given to the problems of these industries and the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New South Wales are co-operating in special housing plans to provide accommodation for additional workers to man the mills in that State. Conciliation Commissioners. >What are (a) the names,(b) the ages and (c) the details of the military service of each of the Conciliation Commissioners appointed by theGovernment? > >What were the previous positions held by each commissioner, both in the Public Service and elsewhere? > >To what sections of industry has each been appointed, and what arc his qualifications to deal with the matters which will come before him in his particular section? Electrical Appliances. >Is it a fact that electric stoves, radiators, bath heaters, refrigerator plants, &c., are almost unprocurable in parts of Queensland? > >Is it a fact that these commodities are. plentiful in the northern river areas of New South Wales? > >Will he take steps to ensure a more equitable distribution of these much-needed articles? >As radiators and refrigerator plants are not items which are within the control of the Commonwealth as to production and allocation between States, I have no information as to the position in Queensland. In regard to electric stoves andbath heaters, the allocation of which, between States, is arrangedby the Commonwealth, I desire to say that the Commonwealth is unaware of any overall shortage of bath heaters, but is aware that there is an overall short supply throughout the Commonwealth of electric stoves. > >As distribution within a State is a matter outside the function of the Commonwealth,I ant unable to say whether or not the items mentioned are plentiful in the northern rivers area of New South Wales. > >The Commonwealth has taken steps to ensure an equitable allocation of electric stoves and bath heaters as between the States, and the States have concurred in the quota allotted. New Guinea : Death of **Mr. John** Scott. >Was **Mr. John** Scott, of the New Guinea Gold Company, killed on New Year's Eve at Lae, after an affray withFilipinos of a United States war graves unit? > >Have members of the unit menaced the lives and safety of other white men and women in this district? > >What action has been taken for the arrest and trial of the Filipino responsible for the death of **Mr. Scott?** > >When will the unit be leaving New Guinea? > **Mr. John** Scott of New Guinea Gold-fields Limited died at Lae on the 3rd January, 1948, from head injuries received as a result of missiles thrown into the hall at Lae during the course of a New Year's Eve dance on the 31st December, 1947, and following an attempt by a number of Filipinos attached to a United States war graves unit to enter the hall without payment. > >The Administrator reported that in addition to the incident mentioned in item 1 several minor incidents occurred between Europeans and Filipinos. > >A number of Filipinos were apprehended and one Filipino is held in custody by the > >Administration of the Territory pending trial on a charge of unlawful killing. > >The Administrator has advised that the American authorities are arranging to remove all Filipino personnel from the Territory. Primary and Secondary Production. *Primary Industries.* In regard to primary industries, I wish to state that specific action has already been taken by the Commonwealth Government in relation to our more important primary industries. He will be aware of the measures taken by the Commonwealth Government to give stability to the wheat industry in the form of a guaranteed price, and of the efforts made by this Government to secure the co-operation and assistance of the State governments in implementing the necessary complementary legislation. This matter was discussed at the last Premiers' Conference when it was agreed that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, would confer with the Premiers, State Ministers of Agriculture, and representatives of the wheat industry at an early date in an endeavour to secure acceptance by all concerned of a scheme which would give that stability which the industry requires. On the production side, it is almost unneccessary for me to comment on the record crop which is in sight this year and which should enable the Commonwealth Government to meet in full its commitments to the United Kingdom and perhaps to a lesser extent the requirements of other countries including India. In regard to barley, the Commonwealth Government has continued the National Security Regulations covering the acquisition of this crop. This was necessary following the inability of the previous government in Victoria to pass the legislation necessary for the setting up of a pool system of marketing in conjunction with the Government of South Australia. It is hoped that this legislation will be passed in the immediate future, but action has been taken by the Commonwealth Government to protect growers' interests and the stability of the industry until such time as the industry itself, in conjunction with the two State Governments mentioned, can give effect to plans already determined. On the production side of this industry again the crop about to be harvested will he of record dimensions, and the Commonwealth Government, through the Australian Barley Board, has taken all necessary steps to handle and export the surplus. Oats is another grain which promises a record exportable surplus. The Com moi i wealth Government has taken steps to ensure the handling of this surplus through its instrumentality, the Australian Barley Board. It has never been deemed necessary previously for any special action to be taken to market this particular crop. Before finally dealing with grains I would mention that the Government is negotiating with various countries for the sale of wheat and other grains, and in several instances has given consideration to the drawing up of contracts over a period beyond the present crop year. The Commonwealth Government in recent months has paid particular attention to the dairying industry. It has been in consultation with the Government of the' United Kingdom regarding the extension of the existing contract for the purchase of the exportable surplus of butter and cheese to the 30th June, 1948, and indications are that a further agreement on a basis satisfactory to the dairy- fanners of Australia will bc the outcome of these discussions. On the production side of the industry the Government recently announced its intention of guaranteeing a price of 2s. a lb. commercial butter basis to the dairy -farmer.' In addition it hits agreed to expend a sum not exceeding £250,000 annually during the next five years in order to achieve increased efficiency within the industry and thereby automatically bring about au increase in production. It can be said that this is the first time that the dairying industry has been placed on a satisfactory basis and has been guaranteed that stability which it has sought over a number of years. The Government is also negotiating with the Government of the United Kingdom for an extension of its existing contract in regard to the exportable surplus of meat, lt is thought that these negotiations will have a satisfactory outcome from, the point of view of the industry itself. The Government has made available to the Australian Meat Board trust funds which will bc spent in the interests of the industry itself. Particular attention will be given to pasture improvement, improvement in stock ' routes, the feeding of cattle, and the production of types of animals which will be suitable for our chilled beef trade, not for export during a few months of the year but for export over the whole twelve months so that our product will reach the markets of the United Kingdom regularly and in excellent condition. The Commonwealth Government has further plans in connexion with this, industry. Mention could be made of the action taken in regard to several other commodities, particularly eggs, dried fruits, canned fruits, &c, all of which are receiving the attention of the Government both fi;om the point of view of price stability and also the expansion of production with a view to increasing exportable surpluses. In. recent weeks the Commonwealth Government has been in communication with the Government of the United. Kingdom in regal,d to plans for the stimulation pf production of particular primary industries in Australia. Although the discussions are in the preliminary stage there arc indications tha.t the proposals when given effect to will result, in a well directed impetus being given to- production. Reference has been made to dairy production, egg production, production of" chilled beef, and certain essential oils. It is hoped that when the small expert, mission arrives in Australia from the United Kingdom plans will be available for their examination and for necessary action by the two Governments concerned. *Secondary Industries.* On the secondary industries side the Commonwealth Government has been taking a keen and active interest in export trade. Shortly after the cessation of hostilities, the, Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, greatly expanded the personnel of the Trade Commissioner Service. This was done with theexpress purpose of making available to manufacturers in Australia information concerning possible outlets for secondary industry production. The Government has also' fostered and developed the Export Advisory Committees in the several States. These function through the Central Export Advisory Committee which in turu makes recommendations to the Commonwealth Government regarding the measures which it should adopt not only to createinterest in the export of our secondary industries but also to urge manufacturers to engage in export trade. While the Government realizes that it isnecessary in the first instance to meet the needs of the consuming public in Australia it has consistently advocated that where' possiblemanufacturers of secondary industry goodsshould now strive to place portion of their output in oversea.s markets. It is the Commonwealth Government's view that while Australia will- remain dependent upon her primary industries for many years to nome, greater efforts- should be made by thoseassociated with secondary industries not only to develop those industries to meet Australian requirements but also to strive to achieve that exportable surplus which, will assist them in their present activities and also enable them tosteadily expand in the future. The Government is acutely aware of theimportance of developing overseas markets. It has. with, good- reason, seen fit to- continue thepolicy of long-term contracts with the Government of the United Kingdom for certain essential food exports. On the other hand, thispolicy to some extent lessens-, the possibility of securing that diversification of overseasmarkets which is so- important. Special emphasis has therefore, been, laid on the diversion, where- possible, of. our secondary industry goods to overseas markets where dollars can beearned. While this is only perhaps a passing phase, i,t is particularly important at themoment, and it is my hope that as a result of the action mow being taken further permanent markets for Australian goods, especially in the secondary industry field, will be secured and held. Through the Secondary Industries Commission particularly, the Government has made- available a considerable number of former war-time factories, surplus to defence requirements, but suitable for private industry. The availability of these factories to industry, at a time when industrial buildinghas been generally restricted by the States to enable the construction of houses, has been of real value to manufacturers and to the Commonwealth. Two hundred and nine leases and sixteen sales of such buildings have been effected, and it is anticipated that employment to be offered by the particular industries so involved will be in the vicinity of 41,000 persons'. Manufacture in these former government factories will include a wide range of articles such as electrical equipment, motor car parts, rayon yarn, artificial silk and wool fabrics, footwear, clothing, ladies' wearing apparel, cosmetics, steam generating plants, clocks, electric household appliances, medical supplies, carpets, air compressors and the like. The Secondary Industries Division of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction provides the administrative machinery necessary to the Commission, and in addition is of direct assistance to industry in extending immediate assistance in such matters as the obtaining of supplies of essential raw materials, the sponsoring of transport of industrialists within Australia and abroad, the acquisition of factory space, and the provision of technical advice and technical information to manufacturers. In respect of the last item, the Commission administers the Scientific and Technical Mission to Germany, through which agency a volume of scientific and technical information regarding German industry is being made available to secondary industry in Australia. The scope of activity of the Division and the emphasis on the question of assistance to industry is reflected in the terms of the long term Charter of the Division as authorized by the Government and set out hereunder, viz. : - As an aid to production and an item of importance in industrial management, the question of "materials handling" is receiving increasing attention in the United States of America. Within Australia, the Secondary Industries Division has set up a "Bureau of Materials Handling " which is devoting attention to the problem of packaging, storage, mechanical handling of materials for production and finished goods, and the handling and controlling of work in progress. In this connexion, the Division has published certain literature which has been received by industry with great interest - copies of four such publications are being forwarded to the right honorable gentleman. In this work, organizations such as the Institute , of Industrial Management, the Standards Association and the like, as well as individual manufacturers, are closely cooperating with the Secondary Industries Division. To effect a more equitable spread of industry throughout Australia, the policy of decentralization upon the recommendation of the Commonwealth has been adopted by all States. incidentally, the allocation of former Government war-time factories to private industry has effectively assisted in the implementation of this policy, which is, of course, important from both economic and strategic aspects. To fill the gaps in our secondary economy, manufacturing industries from abroad, particularly from the United Kingdom, have been invited to establish themselves in Australia. A number of firms has accepted this invitation and in so doing many of the firms have decided to bring to this country skilled or partly skilled technicians who will help establish the subsidiary factories in Australia - a, most desirable form of immigration. In this respect, encouragement has been given to those industries which already have accumulated experience in the art of exporting and who will be prepared when establishing manufacture in this country to produce for export from Australia as well as for the local market. Of major importance to industry is the question of availability to the individual factories of technical research facilities. Through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Munitions Supply Laboratories and the activities of the Secondary Industries Division, this question is receiving constant attention by Government and industry. Generally it may be said that there is now a greater emphasis than ever before, on the part of those interested in the development of secondary industry in Australia, on three salient factors, namely: - I am forwarding the right honorable gentleman a folder containing a series of publications prepared from time to time by the Secondary Industries Division on matters relating to industrial development in Australia, and which may prove of interest, together with a document entitled *Australia's Manufacturing* *Economy in the Post-war Period.* The latter briefly summarizes the nature and extent of expansion of secondary industries in Australia since the cessation of hostilities. Public Service: Staffs. >Although definite data about rural employment will not be available from Census tabulations for some months other data available suggest that at the present time the numbers engaged in rural industry are approximately equal to the pre-war level. The numbers of males are slightly lower while females engaged are more numerous than in 1939. > >It is a fact, as pointed out by the Prime Minister, that there is a long-term tendency for rural industries to employ a declining proportion of the total force in work. Depression conditions in the early 1930's resulted in a reversal of this trend. However, comparing 1920-21 with 1938-39, the proportion of the total population in work engaged in rural industry decreased from 21.9 per cent. to 18.9 per cent. or, to express the same thing in different terms, while the total population in work increased by 33.6 per cent., the number engaged in rural industry expanded by only 15.2 per cent. (see Table 5). > >Although present-day conditions are not comparable with pre-war, it appears to be unreasonable to expect that the present distribution of labour will alter much in favour of rural industry. Much depends on the relative attractiveness to both employers and employees of rural against non-rural industries. There is an unsatisfied demand for labour from employers in all branches of industry and the number of suitable persons becoming available is very limited. > >It appears that short of some action such as special training of young persons for farm work combined with some further improvement in the wage levels of rural workers, there is little prospect of significant recruitment to rural industries. This follows from the relatively stronger competitive power of other industries which are not so dependent on prices of exports. **Mr. Fadden** apparently has assumed that there is a relatively large unsatisfied demand for labour in rural industries but I am not in a position to comment on this. > >The numbers of persons being absorbed by Commonwealth Authorities in recent months is relatively small. Most of the recorded increases in civilians employed has been due to the transfer of staff of military hospitals to civilian status and to the transfer from private ownership of the Telecommunications establishments. A further important part of the increase in Commonwealth Government employment occurred in the wages staff of the Department of Works and Housing who are included in the building industry figures, the small increase in which is of concern to **Mr. Fadden.** During the four months ended October, 1947, employees in the building and construction industry increased by 3.2 per cent. compared with 1.6 per cent. in all industries (excluding rural) combined. Employees in manufacturing increased by 1 . 8 per cent. Of the total increase since July, 1939, in wage earners in employment, viz., about 516,000. manufacturing has absorbed nearly half (252,500). > >Four tables relating to Government employment are appended. > >Table 3 shows that Commonwealth Government employment in October, 1947, may be grouped as follows: - Armed Forces : Australians in Japan. >Up to August, 1946, the importation of goods from Japan was' prohibited by the Trading with the Enemy Act 1939-1940 but, in respect of goods sent or brought to Australia by members of the Defence Forces serving in Japan, a concession had been made by licence granted under that act whereby service personnel may have sent or brought to Australia goods, not being goods for sale or exchange, to the value of ££.10 in any period of twelve months. An additional concession which was being allowed was that such goods valued at £E.10 in any period of twelve months and hot being for sale or exchange were admitted free of duty. > >The officer commanding the Australian component of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces in Japan was advised of the nature of these concessions and of the limitations thereof: > >The serviceman referred to by the honorable member claims that he did not bring any goods to Australia when he returned from Japan, but that, during the .period August, 1940, to May, 1947, parcels, the declared value of which wag £119 10s., which he had forwarded by post arrived in Adelaide. These parcels were addressed to various people and contained artificial' pearls, fancy goods, jewellery, apparel ana the tike. > >In accordance with the concessions mentioned, four parcels of a total declared value of £E.10 were delivered free of duty. The remaining twenty-four parcels, were detained and, prior to the serviceman'^ return, the addressees we're advised that delivery of the parcels could not be permitted but the parcels could be returned to the sender if the addressees so desired. > >In connexion with three parcels which arrived in Adelaide in November, 194G, andwhich contained imitation pearl necklaces and two pearl' brooches, the declared value of which was f 13 10s., one addressee made application for a licence to import the goods. It has been ascertained that the goods in these three parcels were intended for sale and that the Bender had intimated .'that he was looking for goods to bill-chase' in Japan which might Show a profit ou sale in Australia as lie desired to accumulate funds in Australia for his plans for the future. As he returned tq Australia for discharge, it was decided, in his case, to allow a concession, which is not to be taken as a precedent, by allowing delivery of those articles in respect of which evidence could be produced that 'then- 'value had been correctly declared, that they Were bona fide gifts to individuals and that they Were not for sale or -exchange, subject to duty being paid thereon. > >The concession "was approved in May last but has not so far been taken advantage of by the sender. It must therefore be -assumed that the goods concerned do not fall within the scope of the concession and consequently there is no option but for the Department ' of Trade and Customs to treat them as .prohibited imports. " . > >In accordance with the usual practice the goods' will, be disposed of at auction sale by the Collector pf Customs, South Australia. At the sale the 'sender would be entitled, as would any other member of the public, to bid for any goods .in which he is interested. - > >As from ' September, 1947, trading with the enemy restrictions on private trade with -Japan have been lifted but no licences for private commercial importations from Japan have yet been' granted. > >An Interim Sterling Payments Agreement providing for private trade between Japan and the sterling area to be financed in sterling was. recently concluded with the Supreme Command Allied Powers but the agreement is not yet ' actually in operation. > >In any event, one of the clauses of the agree-,. ' ment provides that any unused sterling balances' held in the sterling account to be established by the Supreme Command may be converted into dollars at six monthly intervals. > >Until some means can be. found of overcoming the difficulties created- by this convertibility clause it will be necessary, to continue to treat Japan as virtually a . dollar " country for import licensing purposes. Accordingly in present circumstances the importation of luxury or non-essential articles . from Japan, for trading purposes cannot be permitted.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 February 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.