House of Representatives
19 February 1948

18th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 73




-Has the Prime Minister seen a report of the conviction in the Special Federal Court, Sydney,of a youth for a patrol coupon racket by means of which he obtained tickets for 50,000 gallons of petrol a month? Is he aware that a police witness said that the youth obtained the tickets merely by filling in a form and that he had not been asked to produceany certificate of registration of trucks or other motor vehicles? Will the Prime Minister state the reason for this apparent laxity on the part of official’s in failing to demand proof of bona fides when issuing petrol coupons? What action is contemplated to ensure against a repetition of such illegal practices?


-I did see that a youth of nineteen was convicted of a charge relating to petrol tickets. I did not read all the details mentioned by the honorable member of how he acquired the tickets. I said in the last sessional period that we were not satisfied with the policing of the distribution of petrol tickets and that the system was being examined right through from the Note Issue Department of the Commonwealth 74 Petrol. [REPRESENTATIVES.] Repatriation.

Bank, which prints the tickets, through the distributing officers and then, to the oil companies, which collect the tickets from the petrol resellers. I believe that I also stated that I had asked the Auditor-General to have an examination made of the whole matter. All those things have been done. I do not know anything about this case, but I will obtain particulars for the honorable member. We are satisfied, however, that the checking of tickets from the Note Issue Department is complete. I understand that there was a question whether forged registration certificates were being tendered and whether there was a complete check of applications for petrol coupons. That aspect has been investigated. I will have a short report prepared for the honorable member.He may rest assured that nothing has been left undone that ought to be done. The services of the Commonwealth Investigation Service and the police departments in the States have been enlisted to ensurea tightening up of the policing of petrol rationing.

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Dispensing Payments


– Has the Minister for

Repatriation seen a recent statement in a Brisbane newspaper that an exservicemansuffering from malaria was given a prescription for atebrin and quinine tab lets? He was surprised to learn that two chemists in the suburb in which he resided refused to make up the prescription because they woud have to wait too long for payment from the Repatriation Department. To prevent a recurrence of refusals by chemists to make up prescriptions for ex-servicemen, will the Minister expedite payment to the chemists in order that patients suffering from malaria may have their prescriptions made up without delay?

Minister for Repatriation · BASS, TASMANIA · ALP

– No complaintshave been made to me and I have not read in the press any reports relating to this matter. However, I shall obtain a report from Queensland on the subject of the alleged delay in the department making payments for prescriptions, and ascertain whether any delay is occurring. Obviously, when thousands of prescriptions are dispensed by chemists, it is difficult for the Repatriation Department to keep the position completely watertight regarding payments. I have not heardof any delays, and I do not think that any inordinate delays in making payments have occurred. However, I shall inquire into the matter, find inform the honorable member of the result.

page 74


Shortage of Wire Netting


– The rapid increase of rabbits and hares in Victoria has created a real menace to production. In the Wimmera electorate, one has only to trave by motor car at night tosee hundreds of rabbits and scores of hares. The increase has no doubt been brought about by the shortage of wire netting, rabbit traps and fumigating material, and the inability of producers to obtain supplies of cartridges. Of course, the destruction of rabbits has not been assisted by the levy of1s. 6d. per lb. on skins.


-Order! The honorable member is debating all the reasons for the increase of rabbits and hares in Victoria. He is not entitled to do so when asking a question.


– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture treat this matter as urgent, and order an immediate investigation with a view to making the materials which I have mentioned available to those producers who are menaced by vermin?

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · ALP

– The honorable member will be aware that there is a grave scarcity of labour in Australia to-day, particularly in the heavy industries. This shortage is due to the inability of private enterprise to recruit sufficient labour for the manufacture of wire netting-

Mr Turnbull:

– What of the shipping hold-up?


– Order ! The honorable member has asked a question, and now proceeds to answer it. He should listen in silence to the reply to the question which is being given by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.


– I have said that it is due to the inability of private enterprise to recruit sufficient labour for

*Vermin Destruction.* [19 February, 1948.] *Vermin Destruction.* 75 the manufacture of wire netting and fencing wire that a desperate shortage of these materials does exist in Australia. If the honorable member suggests that the Australian Government should commence manufacturing wire netting and fencing wire and recruit the labour required for this purpose, I shall be prepared to consider his proposal. All honorablemembers realize that these materials are in short supply, but every possible action is being taken to overcome the scarcity. The honorable member will also be aware that my very active colleague, the Minister for Immigration, is working day and night in an endeavour to ensure that every available ship that we can obtain from the people who own them shall come to these shores laden with migrants who will be willing to engage in our heavy industries and produce our requirements. Further, I direct the attention of the honorable member to the fact that the problem of keeping down vermin in Victoria is the responsibility of the State Government, and the honorable gentleman should also make representations on the subject in that quarter. Ammunition, too, is scarce for the same reason that wire netting and fencing wire are scarce. Again, I admit, that the production' of this commodity is in the hands of a very efficient private enterprise in this country, but, until production difficulties can be overcome, with the assistance of the Minister for Immigration, the improvement will be rather slow. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -What about the levy ? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- I have sent circular letters to nearly every member of this Parliament on many occasions explaining that the levy on rabbit skins was imposed by the Menzies Government with the support of the Opposition of the day. *So,* if there is any blame attaching to this action, we are all blameworthy in some measure. The purpose of the levy was to ensure that the felt hats required by our military forces and by the civilian population would be available at a price in keeping with Australia's internal economy. The rabbit skin levy does not have any material effect on the activities of those who carry out rabbit destruction in this country because the high prices ruling overseas for rabbit skins provide ample incentive for this work. Last year, rabbit skins exported to the United States of America and other dollar areas realized 6,000,000 dollars. In fact, it is claimed that rabbit trapping is so remunerative that trappers will not destroy does found in the traps because they want to ensure an increase of the rabbit population so that their livelihood may continue. {: .page-start } page 75 {:#debate-3} ### OATS Mr.DUTHIE.- With reference to the arrangements that are being made in respect of the price and marketing of oats this season, can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform me whether Tasmanian oat-growers will receive a share of the export price? Arc there any agents of the Australian Government in Tasmania who can receive oats for home consumption or export? When the oats are sold to millers, will the first price be the last? {: #debate-3-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
ALP -- To ensure that growers of oats in Australia this season shall receive the full benefit, if they so desire, of the high prices ruling overseas, the Government has established a voluntary oat pool. Growers who deliver oats to the pool are guaranteed 3s. 6d. a bushel on trucks at railway sidings. That payment will be in the nature of a guaranteed price and a first advance. The Barley Board, which will receive the oats into the pool, will have the sole right to export the oats. In addition, it will be entitled to sell oats for consumption in this country. The operations of the pool will ensure an equalization of returns to growers who deliver to the pool. That is to say, if the Bailey Board receives 10,000,000 bushels of oats this season and exports 5,00.0,000 at 10s. a bushel and sells 5,000,000 in this country at 5s. a bushel, the equalized price to the oat-grower will be 7s, 6d. a bushel less the cost of administration, which is estimated at10d. a bushel. Those who do not deliver to the pool, of course, can sell their oats only within Australia. They will receive only the price paid to them initially by the purchasers. The pool will be effective in every State, including Tasmania. {: .page-start } page 75 {:#debate-4} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-4-0} #### JAPANESE PEACE TREATY {: #subdebate-4-0-s0 .speaker-L0G} ##### Mr RYAN:
FLINDERS, VICTORIA -- Can the Prime Minister indicate when the conference to draw 76 *Japanese Peace Treaty.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Steel.* up the terms of the Japanese peace treaty is likely to assemble? Is he not of the opinion that the sooner the treaty is drawn up the better, and can he give a reason for what seems to be a long delay in calling the conference together? {: #subdebate-4-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I regret that it is not possible to announce a date for the assembling of the conference to drawup the Japanese peace treaty. A deadlock has been reached in regard to this matter. I believe that the Soviet Government takes the view that the treaty should be dealt with in the first place by the foreign ministers of the four major powers. Of course, that is not acceptable to Australia, and I believe that it is not acceptable to a number of other nations. It is generally considered that all those nations which participated in the war against Japan in the Pacific area should take part in the peace conference. Every endeavour has been made to overcome the present deadlock, but I cannot say whether the suggestions that have been made are acceptable or not. The answer to the honorable member is that the deadlock occurred because of a difference of opinion regarding the composition of the body to deal with the treaty. At present I can give no indication of the date when the treaty will he considered. {: .page-start } page 76 {:#debate-5} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-5-0} #### STEEL {: #subdebate-5-0-s0 .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- Can the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Shipping inform the House whether control of steel supplies by the Commonwealth is still in operation? If so, can he explain why there is a great shortage of steel in South Australia, particularly of steel required for the manufacture of ploughshares, discs and other agricultural implements? Furthermore, is there any truth in the report that approximately 60,000 tons of steel is lying at Newcastle awaiting shipment to South Australia ? {: #subdebate-5-0-s1 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN:
Minister for Defence · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP -- I am not aware whether there are any supplies of steel awaiting shipment at Newcastle. I shall have inquiries made and inform the honorable member of the facts. It is true that there is a general shortage of steel throughout Australia, and that control over steel supplies is exercised by the Commonwealth As far as I am aware, each State is provided with an allocation and it is then the responsibility of each State government to distribute its quota amongst the different industries. Until such time as the production of steel increases considerably the shortage will continue. I shall make further inquiries, and if I obtain any additional information I shall convey it to the honorable member. {: .page-start } page 76 {:#debate-6} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-6-0} #### SHIPPING Ban on Dutch Ships. {: #subdebate-6-0-s0 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA -- Has the Prime Minister seen the statement made on the 31st January by the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, **Mr. Roach,** that the waterside workers' ban on Dutch shipping still operates? Has he also seen **Mr. Roach's** further statement that the ban had been imposed at the request of the Indonesian trade union movement, and would be lifted or modified only when that movement asked the federation to do so? Is the ban still in existence? If so, does the Prime Minister approve the Government abdicating its responsibility to govern in favour of an outside body? {: #subdebate-6-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I have not seen the latter statement attributed to **Mr. Roach.** However, a most reputable person did bring to my notice a statement made by **Mr. Roach** some time ago, in the course of which he was reported to have said that the ban on Dutch shipping, which had been imposed with the concurrence of federal unions within the Australian Council of Trades Unions, could not be lifted until the decision of that body had been reversed. The copy of the statement which **Mr. Roach** was said to have made did not contain any reference to the union with which **Mr. Roach** is connected. Endeavours have been made by the Government to have the ban on the transportation to the Netherlands East Indies of civilian goods, as opposed to arms, lifted., and it was hoped that the establishment of the Committee of Good Offices, whose members are now reporting to the Security Council, would result in the ban being lifted. The Government has never acquiesced in the imposition of a ban on the transportation of civilian goods to Java. {: .speaker-JOI} ##### Mr Beale: -- But the Government has done nothing about it! *Shipping.* [19 February, 1948.] *Wheat.* 77 {: #subdebate-6-0-s2 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I do all I can. For instance, when it was reported recently that a ban was to be placed on the resumption of shipping between Holland and Australia by a Dutch line, I made certain representations and issued a a public statement, as the result of which it was decided not to impose the threatened ban. The resumption of shipping between Holland and Australia is something which affects this country more than the carriage of goods to Indonesia. We all hope that a peaceful settlement of the dispute in the Netherlands East Indies will be reached, and that normal trade relations will be resumed between our two countries. {: .page-start } page 77 {:#debate-7} ### LEAVE OF ABSENCE Motion (by **Mr. Chifley)** -by *leave -* agreed to - >That leave of absence for one month be given to the right honorable member for Yarra(Mr. Scullin), on the ground of ill health. {: .page-start } page 77 {:#debate-8} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-8-0} #### WHEAT {: #subdebate-8-0-s0 .speaker-KZN} ##### Mr LANGTRY:
RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Publication of reports of the proceedings at. the recent conference between the Minister for Commerce and. Agriculture, State Ministers of Agriculture and wheat-growers' organizations concerning the adoption of a stabilization scheme for wheat has led to agreat deal of criticism of the Government. Of course, the rumour that negotiations had broken down completely was denied by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the House yesterday. Can the Minister now inform the House whether the " stumbling block " encountered in the negotiations was the matter of a guaranteed price, the home consumption price or the suggested extension of time of operation of the scheme to inelude the 1953 season's crop? Has any period been fixed for State Governments and wheat-growers' organizations to reconsider the matter before informing the Minister of their final decision? {: #subdebate-8-0-s1 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
ALP -- To furnish a complete answer to. the honorable member's question would necessitate my making a speech, which I do not propose to do. The discussions referred to by the honorable member took place at a special con ference held after the termination of the recent meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, and was the outcome of a decision reached at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, held in August last. At the latter conference it was decided that Commonwealth and State Ministers should meet later in Canberra to explore the possibilities of evolving a satisfactory stabilization scheme, and it was also decided then that representatives of wheat-growers' organizations should be invited to hold a simultaneous meeting in Canberra, so that they could submit proposals in writing to the special conference of Ministers. The Wheat Growers Federation met simultaneously with the conference of Ministers and submitted its proposals, which were then considered. The conference then indicated its decision upon the proposals and, after considering them, the federation intimated whether it accepted or rejected them. After some discussion, I indicated the decisions of the Australian Government on most of the stabilization proposals, pointing out that there was no deviation from those announced when the increased price was published. I undertook to take to Cabinet a recommendation that the period of the plan should be extended by one year and a proposal that a responsible committee should be appointed to consider means of making payments to those who sold their properties before any stabilization plan was finally wound up, if one was inaugurated. It was never envisaged that the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers would be able immediately to determine a mutually acceptable wheat stabilization plan. The State Ministers for Agriculture go back to their own cabinets, report what they are told by the Commonwealth Minister for Agriculture about how far the Federal Government is prepared to go, decide what further recommendations shall be made to the Australian Cabinet, and so on. Then the State Governments are in a position to inform the Australian Government whether they, in turn, are prepared to introduce the complementary legislation that is essential to the continuation of a stabilization scheme. 78 *Wheat.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Immigration.* As to the time element, it has been conveyed clearly to the State Governments that if stabilization is to be accomplished, they must pass the necessary legislation in time for the plan to operate in respect of the new crop in November of this year. I am awaiting further information from them. {: .page-start } page 78 {:#debate-9} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-9-0} #### ABORIGINES Income Tax - Social Services {: #subdebate-9-0-s0 .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBRIDE:
WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA -- I ask the PrimiMinister whether it is a fact that Australian aborigines in receipt of appropriate incomes are required to pay income tax, including social service contributions? Is it also a fact that aborigines are not entitled to existing social service benefits ? If those are facts, will the Prime Minister consider extending existing social service benefits to the aborigines? {: #subdebate-9-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- That question requires a lengthy answer. As to the first part, in some cases, income tax does apply. Aborigines living under civilized conditions are ordinary citizens, and, therefore, the normal income tax laws apply to them. As to the second part of the question, in some cases social benefits are paid. I do not want to take up the time of the House now, and I shall arrange for a full reply to be given to the honorable member later: {: .page-start } page 78 {:#debate-10} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-10-0} #### IMMIGRATION {: #subdebate-10-0-s0 .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Has the Minister for Immigration read reports of a scheme being undertaken by the Legion of Exservice Men and Women known as the " Sponsor of Migrants Scheme ", whereby ex-service personnel in Australia renew acquaintance with " mates " on the battlefields with a view to bringing them to this country as. migrants? Does he approve the scheme? Will it conflict with the free and assisted passage scheme for British migrants? If he does approve the scheme, and we are to have outside organizations assisting in our migration plans, can he give an assurance that permanent employment and permanent housing accommodation will be provided for such migrants ? {: #subdebate-10-0-s1 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
Minister for Immigration · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP -- As I explained some months ago, considerably in excess of 400,000 persons are registered at Aus- tralia House to come to Australia, and 211,000 are included in applications filed in Australia House. About 90,000 have relatives and friends in Australia who are prepared to arrange accommodation for them in their own homes. The employment aspect does not present any difficulty, because this country is in the extraordinary position of having a depression in reverse. We have more ; jobs available to-day than we have people to fill them. Possibly, we could fill 200,000 jobs if we could only transport that number of additional people to these shores. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne has interested himself in a scheme to sponsor the migration of persons from Great Britain, who have neither friends nor relatives in this country, to give them accommodation here. The Legion of Exservice Men and Women in New South Wales has propounded a similar scheme. I shall approve any scheme which will help to bring people to Australia provided that accommodation here is ready for them, so that Australians, particularly Australian ex-servicemen, are not placed in further difficulty in obtaining housing accommodation for themselves and their families. With respect to suitability of accommodation, every effort is made to ensure that persons offering accommodation are genuinely offering suitable accommodation. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: -- Suitable and permanent accommodation. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- Yes. We inspect the accommodation offered. In some cases we have refused applications because the accommodation offered was either not suitable or did not give any evidence of being permanent. The honorable member can rest assured that anybody with proposals to put up will have them sympathetically considered by the Department. {: .page-start } page 78 {:#debate-11} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-11-0} #### CIVIL AVIATION Trans-Australia Airlines {: #subdebate-11-0-s0 .speaker-KCA} ##### Mr DAVIDSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND -- I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether it is a fact that Trans-Australia Airlines recently established a service from Townsville to Charters Towers, Julia Creek and Cloncurry, notwithstanding that a service on *Civil Aviation.* [19 February, 1948.] *Motor Vehicles.* 79 the same route had already been established by ex-servicemen? If so, will the Minister inform the House of the justification for the establishment of this service, which will seriously hamper the rehabilitation of these ex-servicemen? {: #subdebate-11-0-s1 .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr DRAKEFORD:
Minister for Air · MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA · ALP -- As from Monday last, Trans-Australia Airlines established a service from Townsville to Mount Isa. Previously, Townsville and Inland Services was operating on the same route, with aeroplanes which could land at places where Douglas machines could not land. The new service is intended to give a more frequent and better service, and it has been commenced with the consent and encouragement of the Queensland Government. The suggestion that some injustice is being done to exservicemen is. entirely without foundation. Eighty per cent. of the employees of Trans-Australia Airlines are ex-service personnel; and no other organization employs a higher percentage of ex-service personnel. {: .page-start } page 79 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### MOTOR VEHICLES {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I understand that recently the Minister for Transport assumed control of what is known as the New Vehicles Releases Committee. Can the Minister inform the House what will be the policy with respect to the release of new motor vehicles in future? Will priority be given to applications from persons who require vehicles for urgent business andindustrial reasons over applications from persons requiring motor vehicles solely for pleasure. I am informed that in some States vehicles are released to people to be used solely for pleasure. Yet, in New South Wales, many people engaged in the mining industry are unable to procure motor cars in which to carry on activities associated with that important industry. Will they be given priority over people in other States who require cars merely for pleasure purposes? Can the Minister arrange to transfer to New South Wales cars that are surplus in other States? {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
Minister for External Territories · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- It has never been the practice since the control was established to approve the release of cars for purely pleasure purposes. In New South Wales, the organization has been changed at the request of the State Government. The changes made by the Commonwealth are designed to prevent any of the abuses which, it is alleged, have occurred in the past. The same policy as previously is applied in the other States. The cars are released on the basis of the essentiality of the purposes in respect of which applications have been lodged. If the honorable member knows of any releases having been made for purely pleasure purposes and he furnishes details immediate investigations will be instituted. {: .page-start } page 79 {:#debate-13} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-13-0} #### FRESH FRUIT Malayan Market {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-J7U} ##### Dame ENID LYONS:
DARWIN, TASMANIA -- Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture been drawn to the recent statement of Malayan importers that, unless Australia re-organized its haphazard methods of shipment, South Africa would capture the Malayan fresh fruit market - worth £800,000 to Australia last year? If so, can he indicate what action has been taken or is intended to protect this valuable market for Australian products? {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
ALP -- My attention has not been drawn to the statement, but I am sure that the honorable member will realize that Australia does not control shipping between Australia and Malaya. Control is entirely in the hands of the shipping companies. I am not always impressed by some of the statements that come from Malaya about Australian fruit. It seems that when there is a glutted market there the importers tend to blame the Australian exporters. Those circumstances have always to be taken into consideration in respect of complaints of that sort. I assure the honorable member that our officers who are in charge of the inspection of fruit for export, are most careful about the types, standards and packing of fruit consigned to Malaya. Sometimes trouble occurs in Malaya. Recently, there was trouble over a shipment of oranges. Waterside workers in Malaya were on strike and the oranges were not unloaded. There was sabotage on board after the ship reached port and the fruit was deliberately damaged. There were, of course, " kickbacks ". Some 80Fresh *Fruit.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Employment.* people in Malaya tend to blame the Australian exporters) merchants and growers, but I assure the. honorable member that our trade representatives in Malaya and Singapore, who keep in close touch with Australia are co-operating with us to keep our fruit trade with Malaya on a high plane and to preserve a high ethical standard between the Australian exporter and the Malayan importers. {: .page-start } page 80 {:#debate-14} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-14-0} #### EMPLOYMENT Age Limits {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-JPL} ##### Mrs BLACKBURN:
BOURKE, VICTORIA -- Can the Minister for Labour and National Service verify statements that a number of private business firms and those controlling some public works have an age limit of 35 years for men seeking employment, and that, in the main,only heavy work or labouring work is being offered at the employment offices to men over 50 years of age? Would it be possible to ascertain whether many men in the, 45 to, 65 year group are out of employment ? All cannot bechecked against unemployment benefit figures. AmI right in assuming that the means test should not applyto men in this group whoseek unemployment relief when they have failed toobtain employment of which they are capable? {: #subdebate-14-0-s1 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
Minister for Labour and National Service · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP -- I will reply to the last part of thequestion first. It is easy to ascertain the ages of those who are unemployed, if there are any, and Where they are. The honorable member's question was whether there could be some discrimination in determining the right of eligibility for social service payments because of the age of-applicants. There is. no need for that, because the mere fact that they are. out of work and, having been submitted to the works test, cannot be given work, entitles them to unemployment relief. The first part of the question is the most difficult. Do I know of any cases of employers having refused to employ people over the age of 35? I have heard of such cases, andI have investigated them, but I have never been able to prove one, with this qualification : some large companies that employ men over the age of 70 are making some of their employees permanent but do not make permanent any one over the age of 40 or 45. When I ask them why they do that, in view of the state of the labour market, they say that it is not because they do not want to employ men over that age, or that such men are not so good as others, but because of the welfare schemes of superannuation and retiring allowances that they have put into operation at the request of the Australian Government. So, we have repercussions when we take steps to improve the lot of the masses. If the companies are to put their employees on a permanent basis and allow them to share in the benefit of retiring allowances, they cannot carry out those schemes if the employees begin at 40 or 50years of age. But I have no proof that an employer will not employ menor women because of age. I intend to follow this matter up because I have had cases reported to me that I have not been able to prove. I will follow it up and supply the honorable member with further information when I have it. {: .page-start } page 80 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### THE PARLIAMENT Reportof Chief ElectoralOfficer. {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES -- A Sydney newspaper last night stated that a report on the redistribution of electorates made by **Mr. Turner,** the Chief Electoral Officer, was confidentially made available to members of the Labour, caucus for their use during the discussions on the proposals to increasethe size of the Parliament. I ask the Minister for the Interior whether such a report was distributed as stated ? Has the report been made available to other members of the Parliament not belonging to the Labour party, and, if not; what is the reason for the secretiveness regarding this document.? {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I shall answer the question. The only paper distributed to members of caucus was a report, with a number of statistics and schedules prepared by the Chief Electoral Officer. That document was forwarded to the Minister for the Interior in the first place, and I also received a copy. I then issued instructions for a copy to be sent to each honorable senator and member of the House of Representatives. No document other than that was made available to members of caucus. I think that the writer of the newspaper article probably *TheParliament.[19February,1948.]* **Mr. L.** *Sharkey.* . 81 thought that the document hadbeendis- tributed only to members of caucus for theirconsideration,but I issuedinstruction that copies were to beroneoed and supplied toeverymemberof theParlia- ment.I believethatthathas been done. That is the only document which has been issued. {: .page-start } page 81 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### MR.L. SHARKEY {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr LANG:
REID, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Has the attention ofthe Prime Minister been directed to the fact t hat theGovernment of India is very concerned aboutthe visit to country of Mr.L. Sharkey, theleader of the Australian Communistparty ?Did the Aus- tralian Government issue a passport to Mr.Sharkey?Ifso,onwhat grounds did theGovernment issue this passport, when ithad,refused togrant passports to Aus- tralian working for the Americans in the Pacific ? Is the Government aware of any action being taken by the Communist Party toestablish a sectionof the Cominform in South-East Asia? Is . **Mr. Sharkey's** visit to India connected with that proposal ? Further, has the Govern- mentofIndia conveyed its views on this subject to the Australian Government? {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
ALP -- An application was received from **Mr. Sharkey** - not **Mr. Miles** - for the issue of a. passport to enable him to go to India. The Government of India stipulates that before a visa can be issued to anybody to enter that country, the views of the Indian Govern- ment must be ascertained, and, its approval given.. The ordinary procedures were followed in the case of the application by **Mr. Sharkey.** A cablegram was despatched to the Indian Government asking whether it had any objection to the issue . of a visa and whether it approved of **Mr. Sharkey** being permitted to enter India. The Government of India replied that it had no objection to **Mr. Sharkey** coming to that country. It didlay down a condition that he could remain in India for a certain period, which would enable him to attend a particular conference there, but that he must leave the day after the completion of the conference. When the IndianGovernment intimated that it had noobjection to the issue of a visa, a passport was issued to **Mr. Sharkey** and he proceeded abroad. In respect of the issue of passports, no discrimination is made betweenpersons of different political faiths, provided they are permitted to function legally. As the Communist pairtyhas the right to nominate persons tostand for Parliament and is in every way permitted to function legally, no discrimination is made against its members seeking to go abroad. {: .page-start } page 81 {:#debate-17} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-17-0} #### CIVIL AVIATION {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-KIX} ##### Mr HUTCHINSON:
DEAKIN, VICTORIA -- Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform me whether it. is a fact that a recent report from the London office of the British Overseas Airways. Corporation suggested that American Convair airliners shortly to be used by Transr-Australia Airlines are unsuitable for Australian distances? Was it correctly stated, in the press on the 31st January last that this report was made confidentially to the Australian Department of Civil Aviation, and. indicated that the aircraft would not be able to Carry maximum loads.? In view of the huge* dollar commitments entered into by Trans-Australia Airlines for the purchase of these aircraft, and the understandable concern of the Australian air-travelling public about the matter, will the Minister make a statement to the House on this subject? {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr DRAKEFORD:
ALP -- I have read in the newspapers all sorts of reports - some of them sheer propaganda - about the Convair airliners which have been purchased and. I am not accepting them. So far asI know, a confidential report has not yet been supplied to the Department of Civil Aviation about these aircraft. If such a report has been made, it has not yet reached me, I should like to see it. The Convair airliners have been purchased to specifications which provide for the carriage of 40 passengers between Melbourne and Sydney, and similar distances between Australian cities, with ample fuel reserve to meet the requirements of the regulations of the Australian Department of Civil Aviation. The latest reports from the technical representative of the TransAustralia Airlines at the Consolidated Vultee factory at San Diego in the United States of America confirm that these 82 *Civil Aviation.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Income Tax.* requirements will be satisfactorily met. The Convair airliner has been granted an approved type certificate by the United States civil aviation authorities, but final tests on pressurization and de-icing equipment are not yet completed. Speed and performance figures for these aircraft during the United States civil aviation authority's tests have been satisfactory. Three Convair-airliners have been delivered to airlines in the United States, and a further 173 are on order by American and overseas airlines. Delivery in America of the five aircraft for Trans- Australia Airlines is. expected as follows : One in April, one in May, one in June and the remaining two in July. Final acceptance by Trans-Australia Airlines is conditional upon the aircraft having a full certificate of airworthiness for scheduled airline operations. I hope that this information which I have given to the House, will help to kill the inspired propaganda that has been disseminated from time to time against these fine aircraft. {: .page-start } page 82 {:#debate-18} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-18-0} #### INCOME TAX Arrears {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr FADDEN:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND -- Has the Treasurer seen the figures in the Auditor-General's report, which was laid on the table of the House yesterday, showing that taxes due and outstanding at the 30th June, 1947, exceeded £57,000,000? If so, what action has been taken to collect this huge sum? What was the amount outstanding at the 31st December last? {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I have not yet read the Auditor-General's report, but I hope to do so next week-end. Every effort is being made to reduce the amount of tax arrears, and I believe that this task has been satisfactorily accomplished. The House must remember always that a considerable percentage of the arrears are related to appeals against assessments. {: .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr Fadden: -- The taxpayer is obliged to pay the amount shown on the assessment even though he proposes to appeal later. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- Some taxpayers ask for a deferment of payment. Doubtless the right honorable gentleman had in mind the Taxation Board of Review, which hears appeals against assessments, but often when I use the word " appeal ", I refer to applications for deferment of the payment of tax, or applications for permission to pay by instalments. This applies not only to companies but also to individuals. Every effort is being made to collect the arrears. I am not able to inform the right honorable gentleman as to the amount of arrears at the 31st December last, but I shall obtain the figure for him. {: .page-start } page 82 {:#debate-19} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-19-0} #### NORTHERN TERRITORY Works Programme {: #subdebate-19-0-s0 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
NORTHERN TERRITORY -- I address to the Minis ter for Works and Housing a question arising out of a report published in the Melbourne *Sun News-Pictorial* yesterday of the proceedings of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory in Darwin on Tuesday. The report states - >The harmony of yesterday's opening proceedings in the Northern Territory Legislative Council was forgotten to-day during a sharp debate on housing. > >At one stage the Speaker (The Administrator, **Mr. Driver)** threatened to name **Mr. V.** H. Webster, member for Tennant Creek. > > **Mr. Webster** had moved that the workings of the Department of Works and Housing should be investigated. He said there was great dissatisfaction throughout the Territory because too few homes were being built. > >When the Government Secretary **(Mr. R. Leydin),** speaking against the motion, doubted **Mr. Webster's** sincerity, **Mr. Webster** jumped to his feet, protesting. > >Voting on the motion was adjourned until the next sitting so that the Council could ascertain what power it had to investigate a department with head-quarters outside the Territory. A motion to investigate the shortage of medical staff was similarly dealt with. I ask the Minister for Works and Housing who, in the absence through illness of the Minister for the Interior last year, introduced into this Parliament the legislation constituting the Northern Territory Legislative Council, to ascertain whether there is any real authority vested in this new body or whether it is an emasculated legislature. Further, will the Minister undertake to hold immediately an investigation of the activities of his department in the Northern Territory, not only in the light of the criticism that I have voiced of it in the last year or two, but also because of the supporting criticisms that have been offered by **Dr. Webster?** I should like to know particularly what was the cost of renovating the Darwin Post Office and whether it is a fact that the Department of Works and Housing was ashamed to send its bill to the Postmaster-General's Department for this work? {: #subdebate-19-0-s1 .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON:
Minister for Works and Housing · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP -- At no time have I been ashamed to give the cost of any project undertaken by my department, and I shall be pleased to provide the honorable member for the Northern Territory with the figures relating to the job that he has mentioned. I have no intention of holding an inquiry into the charges which the honorable member claims have been made by **Dr. Webster.** If the Administrator believes that the charges are worth referring to me I shall examine them and take whatever steps 1 consider to be necessary. The question of the power of the Legislative Council is a matter for the Minister for the Interior, but I am sure that it will be necessary for him to refer it to the Attorney-General's Department for legal advice. {: .page-start } page 83 {:#debate-20} ### CUSTOMS TARIFF BILL 1948 *In committee* : Consideration resumed from the 18th February *(vide* page 63). Schedule. Item 3 (Ale, spirits and beverages) and item ' 19 (Tobacco leaf) - *by leave -* further considered together. . {: #debate-20-s0 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
Postmaster-General · Barker · ALP -- I should not have risen had it not been for certain statements made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council **(Mr. Scully)** last night. The honorable gentleman should cast his mind back to 1930 when certain duties were levied on imported tobacco. The Minister virtually expressed himself as a dyedinthewool protectionist and ventured the suggestion that the only hope for the tobacco industry in Australia was a reversion to some form of punitive tariff taxation on imported tobacco. I say to the Minister and to the Government that under the. conditions that prevail in Australia to-day the customs duties required for this purpose must necessarily be much higher than they were in 1930-31. I remind the House that quite recently the Government - perhaps quite willingly - permitted this country to. be handed over to a 40-hour week system. In my opinion that is one of the wickedest things that have ever been done to Australian 'industry. It stands to reason that the cost of production of goods manufactured in this country must rise considerably as the result of the shorter working week and the Government, if it thinks at all on these matters, .must recognize that the tariff wall that will be required, to protect Australian industries functioning on a 40- hour week from outside competition of the kind referred to by the Vice-President of the Executive Council last night, will necessarily be much higher than it was in 1930-31. I recall to the honorable gentleman's mind something that he has probably forgotten, namely, the effect of the 1930 tariff on the sheepskin industry. We do not want to revert to administration of that kind. The first essential is to grow tobacco on the right country ; the second is to . grow tobacco of the right variety; and the third is to grow it in the right way. My experience as a Minister for Commerce in this country on two occasions, i,s that if the quality is in the tobacco, there will never be any doubt about selling it at the right price. There is a far too great tendency in the Australian tobacco industry to assume that anything that is grown and called tobacco will find a local market at a price satisfactory to the grower. In relation to production, I raise the important consideration of the 40-hour week because, recently, a prominent gentleman associated with the Labour party said in Adelaide that shortly the dairy industry would have to be converted to a 40-hour week. When that happens, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** will find it necessary to turn his mind to the price of milk, butter and cheese. When tobacco plants are first put out, they must be watered about five times a day or even more if the weather is hot. Then, when the tobacco is being cured, it has to be watched night and day. With a 40-hour week in operation, it stands to reason that the troubles of the tobacco industry will only be starting when the proposal to which the committee is now being asked to agree is given effect. Probably when the membership of this Parliament is increased as it may be before the next elections, we shall find that the Minister for Immigration **(Mr. Calwell)** has sponsored a few immigrant members so- that there will be a proper infusion of overseas, interests into the new House. **Mr. FADDEN** (Darling Downs Leader of the Austr:;liu;i Country party) "3.33". - This debate affords me an opportunity to make a. few observations regarding the potentialities of the tobacco industry in Australia. The advantages to be gained are twofold. First, we' would be establishing a very important industry on a sound basis, and, secondly, the production of tobacco in this country would ease our dollar difficulties considerably. Sixteen years ago, in March, 1932, 1 personally carried out considerable research into tobacco-growing in Australia and had prepared and printed a. review of the investigations. I was particularly interested in the tobacco industry at that time because of the acute economic conditions then' existing in this country. It will be recalled that during the depression there was considerable unemployment throughout Australia, particularly in Queensland, and I considered that the establishment of the tobacco-growing industry in that State would do much to alleviate the economic strain. The statistics that I gathered in the course of my inquiry, are, of course. out of date tq-day, and the conclusions may not have application to existing circumstances. However; I ascertained that only 2 or 3 per cent, of the trade of the largest tobacco companies operating in Australia was in Australian tobacco, and that only between 2 and 3 per cent, of Australian smokers would smoke composite tobacco. Growers then were producing only enough bright leaf to enable the manufacturers to include about *2i* per cent, of Australian tobacco in every pound produced. **Mr. G.** P. Darnell-Smith, a Doctor of Science and Director of the ' Sydney Botanic Gardens, said in 1932 that Australians were growing tobacco in districts not suited to the production of the type of leaf demanded by Australian manufacturers and consequently by. Australian smokers. Giving evidence before a select committee which had been appointed to investigate the tobacco industry by a government composed of the parties now in Opposition, **Mr. Darnell-Smith** stated that, in the. Mareeba district in northern Queensland, there were large areas of land which appeared to be ideaL for the production of tobacco suited to. Australian requirements. His evidence also indicated that the future of the tobacco industry for the production of light leaf and cigarette tobacco lay north of Bowden, about 2.0 degrees south latitude. An official survey, including examination of the results of test plots, conclusively proved that Queensland was pre-eminently suited to the production of bright leaf tobacco of superior texture, colour and aroma, a type for which there- would be. fully a 90 per cent, demand in Australia and in other English-speaking- countries. Small quantities of tobacco have been grown in Queensland almost since it was established as a colony. In 1894, over 1,000,000 lb. of cured leaf was produced in Queensland from 900 acres of land. However, after 1896 the industry slowly declined in Queensland and production contracted to an area of less than 100 acres in 1925. After 193Q there was an expansion of cultivation in all States. Production was so increased in Queensland that, in 1944-45, that State produced about 50 per cent, of the entire Australian crop. The remainder was grown in Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. "Of the 1,300,000 lb. of dried leaf produced in that year off 1,800 acres, 60 per cent, came from the Mareeba district of the Atherton Tablelands. Most of the remainder was grown in the Townsville, Mackay, Bowen and Gladstone districts. As long ago as 1932, I declared that Australia could produce all .the bright leaf tobacco required for home consumption and that, in addition, production could be stepped up so that millions of pounds of this readily marketable type of tobacco would be available for export. Expert tests have proved that light Australian tobacco produced in northern Queensland districts is comparable with the best light Virginian leaf. Had this industry been fostered in northern Queensland, Australia would have been able to save millions of dollars pf expenditure on imported tobacco. We could have built up a splendid Australian industry and also we should have had the chance to establish export markets both in Great Britain and in other English-speaking countries. A thorough investigation of the needs of the industry and proper encouragement of growers even at this stage can be Of great value to the nation. The increase of production which did occur after 1933 was due largely to the encouragement given to the industry by the government of the day. That government decided to pay £20,000 annually to assist the States to continue economic and scientific research in the industry. This was of great assistance to the industry. A further grant of £62,500, increased later by £11,250, was allotted by the Commonwealth Government for periodic distribution, . commencing with the year 1939. Then, of course, the intervention of war interrupted the plan which had been operating since 1931. This "plan did much to develop disease-resisting -varieties of tobacco. It improved the smoking qualities of Australian leaf and enabled the growers to deal with diseases such as blue mould. However, much still remains to be done. The Australian tobacco-growing industry has never received the encouragement which it has deserved and which it is -entitled to receive in the interests of Australia generally. A superficial survey of the industry indicates its potential value. "The dollar .situation to-day is most acute. And it will continue to be so even if the position is not aggravated. Consequently, -we should do everything possible to entourage production . of our own requirements within Australia. That is our -responsibility as Australians. I emphasize that Australia can produce sufficient -tobacco to meet the needs of Australian smokers in terms of both quantity and quality. There has been & great deal of prejudice against Australian leaf and in many instances that prejudice has been -ill founded. The researches of the Council-for Scientific and Industrial Research and the evidence submitted at tariff inquiries and to a Royal Commission which sat in 1929 provide adequate proof of my statements should proof be required. I hope that this Government will authorize a survey of the industry with a view to its future development. "We have plenty of idle land that -can be adapted .to tobacco production be cause, paradoxically, expert opinion is that poor land is most suited to the successful growing of good tobacco. Allthe facilities are at hand for the development of the industry, and present economic conditions, particularly in the- light of the dollar situation, demand that we should do everything possible to expand Australian industries ' and make ourselves independent of imports. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be instructed to carry out a survey of the industry, and to resume the work which it was carrying out until 1932. The industry can be of great value to Australia. It requires a great deal of husbanding and all of the scientific 'assistance that can be given to it. Tobacco growing has been described more than once as scientific gardening. It is hard work; the crops have to be watered continuously and given constant attention, and expert advice and guidance is required not only during the growing period but also during the treatment and curing of the leaf. I trust that the Government will continue the operation .of the scheme decided upon by the Lyons Government, and will make available annual grants for the establishment of experimental stations and other scientific facilities, because the industry is destined to be of great .importance to Australia. {: #debate-20-s1 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN:
Indi .- When I spoke on this matter yesterday, I emphasized the importance of the tobacco industry to Australia, and referred particularly to the possibilities of increasing production. , I explained that the production of local tobacco leaf would ease the dollar situation, not only for Australia, but also for the United Kingdom. Whilst I do not regard tobacco as a completely avoidable import, the fact remains that every pound of tobacco which we import diminishes the' pool of dollars available for the purchase of unavoidable imports from, dollar areas.' Furthermore, it draws upon the dollars available in Great Britain, and this is important because now, as always, we rely upon the United Kingdom to make good our dollar deficit. Conversely, every pound of local tobacco leaf which we export to the United Kingdom represents a savings, in dollars to that country. Those are obvious facts, and, to me, it seems incumbent upon the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** to make a statement of the Government's policy in regard to the encouragement of Australian tobacco production. The schedule now before us Ls more than a mere revenue-producing or protective one. Indeed, it is of a most unusual nature, in that it proposes to confer upon the Minister for Trade and Customs discretionary power to prescribe the proportions of Australian leaf which may be mixed with imported leaf, thereby absolving imported leaf from payment of a high rate of duty. Notwithstanding this, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has listened to this protracted debate without attempting to make any statement of policy, and I protest against the attitude he is adopting. I believe that it is his duty to state clearly the policy which the Government intends to follow - if it has any policy - in regard to the stimulation of tobacco production in this country. The Lyons Government, which I supported before I became a member of it, took what I believe to be the most constructive step yet taken in Australia to foster the development of the Australian tobacco industry. The tariff schedule which it devised was no mere, unscientific protective tariff, but was one carefully designed to enlist the active support of manufacturers and importers to stimulate the production of Australian leaf. Indeed, that was the first time in the history of this country that importers of 'a particular commodity were deliberately encouraged to stimulate local production of that commodity. That result was achieved by the' imposition of a variable duty. The honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White),** who was then Minister for Trade and Customs, was responsible for the introduction of the legislation, and I pay tribute to him for it. That legislation provided that if cigarettes blended from imported and local tobacco contained 2-J per cent, of the latter, the duty payable on the remaining *97i* per cent, of imported leaf was to be subject to a substantial " drawback ". Similarly, if pipe tobacco blended of imported and Australian, leaf contained 13 pei- cent, of the latter there was to be a considerable rebate in the duty on the imported leaf. This policy not only overcame the difficulty of smokers having to choose between tobacco mixtures containing only imported tobacco and other mixtures containing only Australian leaf, but it was also designed to cultivate a taste for Australian tobacco amongst smokers in this country. That intention was quite a proper one. If one were to go to Egypt, Greece, Turkey, Rhodesia, or any other country which grows tobacco in any quantity, one would find that the people of that country appreciate and demand the peculiar flavour of the local product. Therefore, it is only proper that the Australian Government should seek to cultivate a taste for Australian tobacco and its distinctive aroma. The percentages of local leaf permitted to be blended with imported leaf were later increased from 2-J per cent, lo 3 per cent., and from 13 per cent, to 15 per cent., in the case of cigarettes and pipe tobacco respectively. At the time it was announced that as sufficient quantities of Australian leaf became available the statutory minimum percentage of local tobacco would be raised, and no one has ever criticized that policy. The tariff schedule now before the committee does not propose to abandon that policy, but it does propose to alter considerably the application of that policy. Although the Minister has not yet spoken, the proposed tariff schedule contains, in itself, an admission that sufficient Australian leaf to meet the statutory minimum percentage is no longer available. Sufficient Australian leaf is not being produced to provide an admixture of 3 per cent., in the case of cigarettes, or 15 per cent.,, in the case of pipe tobacco. Adoption of the proposal before us would authorize the Minister for Trade and Customs to prescribe from time to time the proportion of Australian leaf to be blended with imported leaf. The fact that it is necessary to make such a provision is in itself a serious reflection on some one. The honorable member for Griffith **(Mr. Conelan)** pointed his finger at the farmers, and obviously either the farmers or the Government are responsible for the present decline of production. I shall discuss this aspect of the matter presently, but at the *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. [19 February, 1948.] *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. 87 moment I point out that it is a very serious thing for the committee to authorize any Minister to say to importers and manufacturers : " In my judgment you are entitled to be absolved from the obligation to pay vast sums of money in duty ". And it must be realized that the amounts involved will be very large. I have extracted figures showing that in the year 1945-46, in the course of the operation of the law, duty concessions on cigarettes totalled £592.000. The concessions were made because the manufacturers used 3 per cent, of local leaf. In the same year, duty concessions to manufacturers using the statutory minimum admixture of 15 per cent, of Australian leaf in pipe tobacco amounted to £845,000. In that year, in respect of cigarette and pipe tobacco, manufacturers were granted a concession of £1,437,000. The figures for 1940-47 are, for cigarette tobacco. £81 0,000, and for pipe tobacco, £1.138,000. The total concession to manufacturers in that year was £1,953,000. In those two years duty concessions were approximately £3,500,000, but those concessions are now to be given on the personal decision of the Minister for Trade and Customs and not in accordance with the specific operation of a statute. We have allowed ourselves to drift into a position in which we are required to repose in a Minister the power to grant a rebate of £3,500,000 in two years. I have no doubt, that that fits in with the policy of the Labour party, which seeks to avoid the specific application of statutes and to centralize authority in officials and in particular Ministers. I protest against the drift that has resulted in this most obnoxious result. {: .speaker-JYV} ##### Mr Fuller: -- Is the honorable member serious ? {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN: -- I have no doubt that the honorable member for Hume. **(Mr. Fuller)** regards this as a joke. It is wrong that a policy with such farreaching and serious implications should be brought before the Parliament without any explanation being given by the Minister concerned. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The fact is that when I delivered my second-reading speech the honorable member was absent from the chamber. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN: -- That, is not correct. The Minister's speech contained none of this information. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- It did. This is an old game played bythe honorable member. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN: -- These concessions are to be granted by the Minister principally to one company. It has been pointed out from all sides of the House in debates on tobacco that the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited produces 90 per cent. of the tobacco manufactured in this country. I do not know whether that figure is correct, but there is no doubt that it produces the great majority. This is the company upon which a former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture made a violent attack last night. It is not a satisfactory state of affairs when a member of the Cabinet makes such an attack in the course of a debate upon legislation designed to repose in a Minister personally the right to grant or withhold these vast concessions. The root of the trouble is to be found in the serious decline in the production of tobacco in this country in recent years. It is a crop that is bound to fluctuate from year to year. Production, however, has not only fluctuated but has gone down on a continuous and unarrested slide. In 1941 tobacco production was rather more than 5,000,000 lb.; in 1942 it was almost 7,000,000 lb.; in 1943 it was 4,000,000 lb. ; in 1944 it was 3,800,000 lb ; in 1945 it was 2,500,000 lb. ; and in 1946 it was 2,400,000 lb. I do not know what the figure will be for this year, but I have no reason to believe it will improve. The explanation of this decrease in production is to be found not in seasonal conditions but in policy. Since 1941 the tobacco-growing industry has been virtually under absolute government control, with the prices to the growers determined positively by the Government. There is not the slightest doubt that a man's decision to accept a certain job or to grow a particular crop is largely determined by his estimate of the return he will get. From his meagre knowledge of the industry, the honorable member for Griffith **(Mr. Conelan),** speaking as a supporter of the Government, said last night that the explanation for the decrease was that the farmers 88 *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948.[REPRESEN'TATlVES.] *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. turned from the production of tobacco to the raising of other crops. I disagreed with most of what he said, but on that point he was right. In the exercise of their discretion, the farmers turned to the production of other crops. By its illjudged policy of maintaining too low a price for tobacco, the Government is discouraging the production of this crop. It is one that we need more than tomatoes, maize, beans, peas and the other alternative crops that the farmers grow. It would have saved us dollars; if production had risen instead of falling, a tremendous contribution would have been made to the easing of the acuteness of our present dollar position. I propose to quote figures showing how the Government handled the price factor. A system of appraisal of tobacco leaf was introduced. It was somewhat similar to the system for the appraisal of wool. That was a good decision, and one that I have advocated for years. But the whole success of the appraisal system in respect of its impact upon the volume of production lies in the price level of the table of limits. The Government took 1939 as the base year; and for the first year to which appraisals were applied, namely, 1941, the table of limits was worked out on the basis of a 25 per cent. increase of the 1939 price. In 1942 there was a further 10 per cent, increase upon the previous year's table of limits, which was the base year plus 25 per cent. In 1943 there was an additional 10 per cent. on the base year; and in 1944 there was the same figure as in 1943 plus a 10 per cent. subsidy. In 1946 there was the same figure as in 1943, again plus a 10 per cent. subsidy; and in 1946 10 per cent. was added to the total of the previous year's actual table of limits. For 1947 there was a 13 per cent. increase on the figure for the previous year. In view of those figures, honorable members and listeners may be inclined to ask what one is moaning about, because those figures seem to present a continuous upward curve in the price which ought to provide an adequate incentive to production. This magnificent and continuing increase of price will be more readily understood when I quote from the corresponding table of indices. Taking 1939 as the base year with a base index figure of 100, we find that the fixed price on the table of limits in respect of subsequent years expressed in terms of index figures was as follows: 1941, 125; 1942, 137.5; 1943, 150; 1944, 150; 1945, 150; 1946, 165; 1947, 187.5. Those figures sound all right but let us see how they actually worked out in money to the farmer. In 1941, the first year of appraisal, the average return to the farmer was 29.06d. per lb. In the next year, after receiving a 10 per cent. increase, the farmer received 29.94d. per lb. The next year, when he was receiving another 10 per cent. increase, his return was 30.86d. per lb.; and the next year, when he was still receiving an increase of 10 per cent., and when the index figure was 150, his return was 28.87d. per lb. In theory, he was receiving 50 per cent.. more for his tobacco; but, in fact, his return was a half-penny per lb. less than he received in 1941. In 1945, when the index figure was still 150, or anincrease of 50 per cent, on the base year, his return was 27.07d. per lb. or 2d. per lb. less than he received in 1941. Mr.Pollard. - Plus a 10 per cent. subsidy. {: #debate-20-s2 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN:
INDI, VICTORIA · CP; LCL from 1940; CP from 1943 -- Yes ; and that wouldl return him another 2¾d. per lb. In 1946, when no subsidy was paid, and when the index figure had risen to 165, he received, despite the increase of 65 per cent. in the index figure, only 3d. per lb. more than he received in 1941. Having regard to the increase of the index figure by 65 percent. on an original price of 29d. per lb., an increase of 65 per cent. on the base year index, at a quick glance, would represent an increase of 20d. per lb., but, in fact, the farmers received only 3d. per lb. more. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The honorable member is assuming that the leaf is always of the same quality. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN: -- I am pointing out what the farmer actually received; and it is the money which the farmer receives that determines whether he will go on growing tobacco. That is the only factor that counts in this matter. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- On the quality ofthe leaf produced at Myrtleford this year, does the honorable member suggest that the table of limits would return to the *Customs Tariff Bill.* 1948. [19February, 1 948.] *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. 89 grower the price which the honorable member thinks it should return to him? {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN: -- There will be no crop at Myrtleford this year. Departmental officers informed me that their latest estimate was that there would be 30 tons of tobacco at Myrtleford, but two weeks ago 3 inches of rain fell in that district, and consequently, if I know anything about the industry at all,I know that there will be no crop at all in that area. That fact emphasizes the precariousness of the industry and should make the Government realize that it must not shave the return to the grower to the last penny. Periodically, growers- experience adverse weather conditions or the depredation of pests and diseases such as blue mould. In respect of the last year,, 1947, when there was another increase of 13 per cent., bringing the index figure to 187.5, I am informd that the anticipated overall return to the grower will only be between 35d. and36d per lb. I say to the committee and to the country, here is anactual example of the operation of price control applied to an. industry and. having the effect of destroying it. Price control has damned this industry. Curing the last seven years, the Government has exercised all the powers with respect to the tobacco industry that it now seeks to apply to every industry in this country if the prices referendum be carried. In. respect of the tobacco industry, it has exercised uninhibited powers and it has destroyed the industry, and has thus helped, to put this country "in the cart " with respect to our, dollar problem; but not satisfied with its ineptitude in applying price control to one industry, it now seeks to apply price control to all industries. An examination of the control exercised by this Government over the tobacco industry reveals a sorry state of affairs. I challenge honorable members to mention any other industry that has thus been brought to its knees during the term of office of this Government when it has been armed with every control and authority it could imaginably possess. It. is the duty of the Minister to stand up and tell the committee what is the policy of the Government with respect to stimulating the production of tobacco in Australia. In a country which has not yet been completely socialized, no government will ever attaint satisfactory production in any industry unless it givesa sufficient incentive. to producers by recognizing the profit motive. I believe that the experience of the tobacco industry ought to be a guide to the people of this country when they are asked to place every other industry completely within the clutches of this Government. {: #debate-20-s3 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP . -The problem of tobacco production in Australia should be approached in a nonparty impartial spirit. The honorable member for Indi (Mr: McEwen), of course, is incapable of approaching any subject in that spirit. After all, I do not suppose there is any form of agricultural production in Australia which presents to. the producer a. more complex set of problems than. does tobacco production. My mind goes back nearly twenty years to the problems of tobacco production in Victoria, when, in the Ovens Valley, in the very electorate that the honorable member for Indi. now represents, a vast expansion of tobacco production was taking place. That expansion occurred largely as the direct outcome of the incentive given to the industry by the Scullin Labour Government. It is true - andI want to be perfectly fair - that that incentivewas so great that it stimulated the formation of bogus companies, or, to say the least, companies with little substance and little knowledge of the propositions that they wereembarking upon. It encouraged in the industry people with neither the production nor the technical knowledge required in such a difficult industry; but, at least, it did bring forward vastly increased production both there and in other parts of Australia. It is true that for a period in thethirties there was again some degree of expansion of production. But always, in certain circumstances, this industry has taken, from time to time, a serious backward step. It is useless any one in the Parliament or anywhere else trying to tell me that thatcan be attributed to the Government.. The fact is that here is a combination of factors, not the least of which is 90 *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. that the highly specialized nature of the industry requires, in its very essence, that people who engage in tobacco production must be qualified for that type of work. Lots of people engage in tasks for which they are not qualified. One could illustrate that point by the example of the honorable member for Indi who has entered a particular occupation, to wit, membership of this Parliament. He is not really qualified for the job, but, at least, he does some sort of job. But if a person goes into tobacco production without that great gift of being qualified for it, there is no hope for him. Great problems confront the industry - problems of soil character, water application, insect infestation, and the fact that there is practically only one buyer, one great company. No Australian government has, as far as I know, the power to force that company to buy at a specific figure. In addition to those problems, there is the prejudice of the Australian smoker against Australian tobacco. I believe that the prejudice is rapidly disappearing and that, in due course, when production increases, the Australian smoker will smoke Australian tobacco as avidly as he smokes the imported to-day. Let us be fair. We know that in 1929, 1930 or thereabouts the evidence given before a commission into the tobacco industry by a man in a high technical position in Australia - and the evidence is on record - was that tobacco grown in Australia in proximity to eucalypt plantations or eucalypts growing naturally would be tainted with the eucalyptus. He was not an employee of the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited or any other tobacco interest, and, in all probability, he really believed that his statement was factual. But every one knows that the statement was absurd. It has been mentioned during the debate in this chamber. It would be as stupid to say that cabbages grown near eucalypts would be tainted. The fact is that in Australia the tobacco-grower has one purchaser, and whatever the Government does, short of compelling that purchaser to buy at a specific price, the growers remain in a difficult position. In addition, the marketing situation is precarious. During the war, as the honorable member for Indi has said, the Go vernment established a Tobacco Marketing Board under National Security Regulations. On that board were representatives of the tobacco-growers themselves and representatives of the other interests concerned. Tables of limits were set up. Appraisal authorities were established and with the appraisal authorities always went a representative of the tobaccogrowers and two observers. It has been well said - and there is a considerable amount of truth in it - that, notwithstanding that the Government from time to time, for the period of the operation of that board, increased tobacco prices by about 50 per cent., the increase to the grower was not very great. The fact remains that the observers representing the Tobacco Growers Association, so far as I know, have not lodged one protest or suggested the appraiser did not appraise the tobacco correctly. One would naturally expect protests to be lodged with the Government by the growers' representative or the observers if the appraisers nefariously did not grade and appraise leaf as it should have been. Owing to a combination of circumstances, the quality of the leaf did not keep pace with the increased prices set down in the table of limits. They included the entry of inexperienced people into the industries, climatic conditions, insect infestation, shortage of materials and shortage of insecticides. I cannot be dogmatic, but I can say that the fact that, as far as I know, no protest was ever made, indicates that that is the unfortunate position to-day. In my room I have samples of Australian tobacco leaf taken from the stocks held in one of the tobacco appraisal centres recently. Honorable members are welcome to inspect them. Among them is tobacco leaf that realizes 3s. 6d. per lb. It is beautiful, lemoncoloured leaf. {: .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
NORTHERN TERRITORY · IND -- From the north? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- Yes. The honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** is not an expert but he has some knowledge of tobacco-growing. {: .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr Blain: -- I grow it. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- Some of the tobacco brought 6d. per lb. I cannot claim to be an expert either, but tolook at the tobacco leaf that was sold *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. [19 February, 1948.] *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. 91 at 6d. per lb., one would saythat at one stage it must have shown promise of maturing as a beautiful lemoncoloured leaf. To me, it looks as though it was picked immature or placed in an inefficient drying kiln. Anyway, it did not result as a high-class leaf. Also amongst the samples are samples of leaf for which no price was offered because of its inferior quality owing to poor kiln-drying, picking or some other cause. Those are problems that cannot be overcome solely by the price factor. The people in the industry must know how to engage in it. Science must be applied to it. Shortages of material and labour for irrigation, which is required particularly in Queensland, must be overcome. It is said by investigators that irrigation is essential in Queensland. In addition, further research work is essential by the State authorities and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. That work is going on all the time. The problem finally in regard to prices is one that cannot be overcome, despite what the honorable member for Indi says, unless he is prepared to accept the responsibility of saying to the people who are almost the sole purchasing authority, " You have to take this leaf into your factory and pay so much per lb. for it ". Of course, the honorable memberwould describe that as an illustration of bureaucratic control and interference with the liberty of the subject, and another example of the activities of a socialist government in this country. I ask the honorable member to state whether he is prepared to supporta proposal to force the company to pay a certain price for the leaf, whether it considers the leaf is worth that amount or not, and to compel the company to take into the factory for manufacture into cigarette or pipe tobacco a type of leaf which it considers does not measure up to its requirements. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- I have never suggested it, but the Minister is now doing so. {: .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr Scully: -- The honorable member did suggest it. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- I did not. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- What the Government is doing is to continue the policy of the Government of which the honorable member for Indi was a member, of allowing tobacco to be imported at a reduced rate of duty in accordance with the proportion of Australian leaf which is incorporated in it for smoking in Australia. The honorable member claimed that the administration of which he was a member introduced that policy. We are continuing it, and are making provision, unfortunately because of decreased production, for a smaller quantity of Australian leaf to be used with the imported leaf, and the company will have the right to enjoy a lower rate of duty. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- What provision has been made for research into tobacco-growing? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- Provision is made for research in the vote for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. We are not now dealing with research, or the Council forScientific and Industrial Research. However, I assure the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** that since I have been Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, I have been keenly desirous of advancing the welfare of the tobacco-growing industry in Australia. {: .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr Scully: -- More money is now expended in a month than was expended in a. year on the industry when the honorable member for Balaclava was Minister for Trade and Customs. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- I merely asked whether provision had been made for research into tobacco-growing. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- After all, that matter is the responsibility of the State D epartments of . Agriculture. The Australian Government should and does become involved to any degree only in the matter of research, and this work is undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. We co-operate with the State Departments of Agriculture, and assist them in every possible way. I now desire to speak briefly on another aspect. During World War II., the Government established the Tobacco Marketing Board on which various interests concerned in the industry were represented. The Government considered that if we are to ensure to the tobaccogrowers in Australia at least some competition and some rights under an appraisal scheme, it is -essential to continue in the post-war period some form of co-ordinated Commonwealth-State marketing control. With that .object in view, the Commonwealth representatives at the meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council in July, 1947, submitted to the State Ministers for Agriculture the proposition that the States should cooperate in such a plan. They expressed their concurrence with the proposal, and the Australian Government thereupon decided that, the States having indicated their willingness to co-operate in such a plan to continue appraisal and Commonwealth marketing, it would introduce the necessary legislation, provided the State Governments brought down similar legislation. At a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council last week, the Victorian Minister for Agriculture indicated that his State was not interested. In those circumstances, Commonwealth marketing cannot be continued. The result will be that tobacco-growers in Victoria will market their leaf as a separate entity, and tobacco-growers in Queensland will market their leaf as. a separate entity. There will also be a division of appraisal authorities. Indeed, the Commonwealth appraisal authority will cease to exist. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: -- - When, will that happen? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- At the end of this season. Unfortunately, there may be several marketing authorities, and only one buying authority. That situation may lead to a differentiation in price systems in the' two States, with substantial ultimate disadvantages to the tobaccogrowers of Australia. Any hope that one might have of dealing with any sinister practices,, as they have been termed, can be realized only through a co-ordinated all-powerful marketing authority, having the blessing and .legislative assistance of the respective State parliaments. Unfortunately, that will not be possible. I can only hope and pray that matters will turn out all right, but I have grave fears indeed about the ultimate result. Reference has been made to sinister influences in the industry. I believe that we should say .less about sinister influences, and get down' to facts. After all, sinister influences do not count very much if one produces a first-class leaf. Where a first-class product is available, the protection afforded by the tariff should, in itself, result in the purchasing authority at least endeavouring to " play the game ", I know that, in the past, it has not been in the interests of buying companies toencourage Australian production, but I am' extremely doubtful if to-day they are deliberately standing in the way of increased tobacco production in Australia. If the Australian tobacco-grower, aided by scientific research and adequate marketing facilities, produces a quality leaf, the buying authority can be brought to a sense of realism, and will face up to its responsibility, provided always that some body is vested with a residual power to deal with it, should it not face up to its responsibility. > {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- The purchasers have put whole districts out of the industry. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- I have just pointed out that the Commonwealth tobacco marketing authority, because of the objections of Victoria, is virtually dead. If we are to have several States marketing tobacco and only, one buying authority, they all might be put out of the industry, but I do not believe that will happen. In my opinion, we must concentrate on helping the tobacco-grower, particularly with scientific advice, and ensure that, wherever possible, suitable persons engage in tobacco culture. At present, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics section of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has under consideration proposals for tobacco-growing in Northern Queensland. I consider that there is scope in the tobacco industry for the right class of ex-serviceman, contiguous to people who have a lifetime of experience of the industry. Making allowances for all the war-time disabilities, the Government has always demonstrated its earnest desire to assist this industry. We shall continue to do so, and anything within reason that we can do to increase !he production and quality of tobacco in Australia, we shall certainly do. The following premium system has been adopted for the 1948 crop, on the basic value of the leaf. The prices quoted in the table of limits, without the percentage *CustomsTariffBill1948.* [19 February, 1948.] *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. 93 addition, are as follows : If the basic value of the leaf is 27d. per lb. and over, a premium of 9d. per lb. will be paid. If the basic value of the leaf is from 18d. to 26d. per lb., a premium of 6d. per lb. will be paid. If the basic value of the leaf is from 15d. to I7d. per lb., a premium of 3d. per lb. will be paid. Ifthe basic value of the leaf isless than 15d. per lb., no premium will be paid. It is useless to pay a premium ontobacco leaf which does not measure upto the required standards of quality, and encourageadditional production of that type of leaf. Last night, the honorable member for Balaclava made a remark about the Government paying 4½ per cent. rebate to the company on account of increased prices of tobacco.Thefact is that no preferential treatment hasbeen shown by this Government tothe British-Australasian TobaccoCompany Proprietary Limited. The 4½ per cent.whichwas paid to the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited was a rebate paid to an importingcompany, just as it is paid to other importing companies, in orderto keep down the price of a particular product tothe Australian consuming public, and is in accordancewith the economic regulations which the Government promulgated in 1943. Any snide suggestionby thehonorablemember that theGovernment showedpreferentialtreatmentto the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, as such, willnot bear examination. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -- Idid not make that allegation, and the Minister is perfectly aware of it. I replied to an attack by theVice-President of the Executive Council **(Mr. Scully)** on the company, and pointed out that the Government had treated it in that way. Mr.POLLARD. - In exactly thesame way as other importingcompanies were treated. {: #debate-20-s4 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** has given to honorable members an illuminating account of the tobacco industry, and its trials and tribulations. As one who had some experience of the industry in the early years of World War II., I sympathisewith his administrative difficulties. Hehas con fessed that in spite of everything that the Government has attempted, and the urgent need for the production of tobacco in this country to conserve dollars, tobacco-growing has declined rapidly. According to figures given by the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen),** seven years ago, in 1941-42, approximately 2,000,000 lb. of tobaccowas produced ; to-dayproduction is a mere trickle. That is conclusive proof, if proof be required, of a regrettable failure somewhere, and if the Minister does not know where the failure has occurred or what can be done to prevent its recurrence, the industry faces complete extinction. As the honorable -member for Indi has pointed out, in- centive is an important factor. It is important in every trade and occupation. As one who has had some experience of groving various primary products, I appreciate that unless there is incentive - an -expectancy not merelyof a marginal profit but of a handsome profit -growers will not continue their activities. I say thatthere must be ahandsome profitbe- causesuch a profit isrequired, in some years at least, to offset losses in adverse seasons. All primary producers are faced with the possibility of extremely low incomesor evenlosses in some seasons and they depend upon their "bumper" cropsto carry them overthose periods. Whenan organization such as the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited endeavours to reduce prices to what it considers will provide a reasonable profit margin in the year of production only, it is contributing to the ultimate extinction of the industry, because growers will have no reserves to tide them over less prosperous years. Profit should be averaged over a number of years. In my electorate in the northern part of New South Wales tobacco-growing has practically ceased although a considerable volume was produced in years gone by. In the Tenterfield district, and along the Queensland border, can be seen disused tobacco kilns by the score. Former tobacco-growersare no longer interested in the industry and have turned to some other form of primary production. They were beaten not only by unremunerative returns for their leaf, but also by disease, insect pests, and adverse seasonal conditions. I have no doubt, however, that with the incentive of profitable prices, there would be a drift back from other industries - perhaps less important industries - to tobacco-growing. As the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has said, tobacco production i3 a highly-skilled and specialized industry. It is also a tedious industry and few Australians have had the patience to stick to it. In areas adjacent to my own district the industry is almost entirely in the hands of Italians. I do not intend to disparage these people in any way, but they are the only ones who are prepared to spend many hours, day and night, planting out the roots, watering, spraying to prevent diseases and to combat insect pests and attending the drying kilns. Australians .certainly will not tackle this industry to-day whim they can find much more remunerative occupations elsewhere. Another thing that is stifling tobacco-growing, and the Minister has rightly put his finger on this point, is the scarcity of labour. In every country district of Australia to-day . it is almost imposible to find farm employees. The problem is not always the wages that are offered. Men just will not go into the country districts. They compare country working conditions With those in more lucrative industries in the cities. They realize that by remaining in the metropolitan areas they can enjoy a 40- hour week, receive higher wages, and have more opportunities for sport and recreation, so why should they go into the bush? The drift from rural areas to the cities is unchecked. Recently I visited many parts of the Commonwealth and everywhere the farmers told me the same story. At Mildura, in' the electorate of the' honorable member for Wimmera. **(Mr. Turnbull),** fruit-growers said that they' did not know how they were going to harvest their crops. In the past, they had been getting all kinds of. casual employees but this source of labour was drying up. Many casual fruit-pickers had come to the conclusion that the little extra they received after paying taxes was not worth the effort, and they were no longer 'interested in temporary jobs. Similar conditions exist in the sugar in- dustry, as honorable members representing cane-growing districts will testify. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order!** The honorable member must confine his remarks to the items now before the committee.. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I am showing that what is happening in the tobacco industry to-day is characteristic of the conditions obtaining in other primary industries. The point I am making is that unless the Government takes steps to ensure that primary producers shall receive adequate returns for their labour, there will be a continued drift to other avenues of employment. It is all very well to say that tobacco-growers should offer higher wages to attract labour; but how cun they pay higher wages unless their returns are sufficient to enable them to do so? Wages depend entirely upon the price that can be realized for the tobacco leaf. I agree with the Minister that a premium .should be paid for first-grade leaf. It is no use this country growing tcn times .the quantity of tobacco that we are now producing if it is to be of a quality not acceptable to Australian smokers. When all is said and done, the man who smokes the- tobacco is the arbiter. He determines whether he will smoke Australian leaf or whether he will pay a fancy price for imported tobacco, as he is doing to-day in the main. Therefore, I welcome the encouragement that has been' given to growers by providing for a premium price for superior leaf. In fact, I suggest that consideration be given to' increasing the margin payable for better grade tobacco, because the production of such leaf is considerably more difficult and more expensive than the production of lower grades. More art and more careful attention in the drying and other processes are required to produce high quality leaf, and the product is certainly worth much more than poor leaf. I view with concern the far-reaching powers possessed, by the Minister for Trade and Customs to fix the amounts payable to 'the tobacco companies under1 certain conditions. As the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** pointed out, he has the disposal of £2,000,000 or £3,000,000 under his personal control and subject to *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. [19 February, 1948.] *Customs Tariff Bill* 1948. 95 his personal favour. We have learned in this country that too many safeguards cannot be imposed upon the authority of Ministers to. exercise patronage through their departments. I hope that this provision which I have mentioned will be abolished. It was introduced into the legislation about the end of 1946, and I do not know to what extent the power has been exercised up to date. It would be interesting to have a statement from the Minister on that subject. While the Minister has power to distribute bonuses, or whatever one might like to call them, amounting to millions of pounds, there is a possibility of things happening of which we have seen and heard more than enough in the last few weeks. I hope that the Minister will be more successful in stimulating tobacco production in Australia in future than he has been in the past, because unless something is done soon we shall not have much Australian tobacco to worry about at all. {: #debate-20-s5 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- I have listened with a great deal of interest throughout this debate to what honorable members on this side of the chamber have said in their endeavour to get a clear-cut statement of policy from the Government relative to the tobacco industry. I cannot blame the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** for not being in a position to make a statement of policy, because he is not the Minister responsible for the development of this industry. {: .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEwen: -- Yes he is. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- He is responsible only in part. He cannot makea pronouncement of government policy on the subject without securing some idea of that policy from the Minister for Trade and Customs **(Senator Courtice).** Obviously there has been no liaison between the two Ministers. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture devoted some time to replying to the observations of honorable members on this side of the chamber. What did we hear? We heard only a violent barrage of words which contained no statement of the Government's policy regarding the tobacco industry. The honorable gentleman relied almost exclusively upon the tariff schedule. I think that, with a few excep tions, the same duties as operated on the 21st November, 1940, still operate. However, the Minister for Trade and Customs is given a certain over-riding power with regard to the use of available Australian tobacco leaf. We on this side of the chamber are concerned with making available the maximum quantity of good quality Australian leaf. All that the Minister for Trade and Customs seems to be concerned about is a gradual reduction of the percentage of Australian leaf used in manufactured tobacco under the power granted to him. We want a clear statement of government policy. When the Opposition parties were in the happy position now occupied by the Government, we had a policy for the expansion of the tobacco industry. That policy resulted in widespread development of the industry within Australia. I well remember that, when the Lyons Government was in power, the production of tobacco leaf in Australia amounted to 12,000,000 lb. annually. To-day, the output is approximately 2,800,000 lb. annually. Something has happened to bring that about. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The honorable member's figure is incorrect. Production amounts to about 4,000,000 lb. annually. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The Minister ought to blush in correcting me, considering the figure he has stated in comparison with production when I was a member of the Lyons Government. In those days, the Government had a constructive policy for the extension of the tobacco industry. We should not allow ourselves to be deluded about this industry. From the observations of Ministers and their colleagues, one might gather the impression that a. farmer can grow tobacco anywhere. Of course that is not so. A farmer must have the right soil, the right rainfall, and the right climatic conditions before he can produce good quality tobacco leaf. Furthermore, the industry does not lend itself to mechanization. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- It does lend itself to mechanization. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- The processes involved in curing tobacco leaf depend almost exclusively upon manual labour. Therefore, it is in the main what one might term a peasant industry. That is why, as the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** pointed out, the industry is .being gradually taken over by aliens who are accustomed to lower standards of living than Australians. These immigrants are taking over the industry because It cannot be developed under present conditions on. a basis that will give the farmer a return per acre comparable with that which .he can obtain from other crops which are more cheerfully looked upon by the present Government. This committee, will soon be considering another part of the schedule dealing with our trade agreement with Rhodesia. This contains some reference to tobacco, and honorable members will find that Australia has made an arrangement .with Rhodesia for the acceptance of Rhodesian tobacco. That arrangement was made at a time when there was a flush period of tobacco production in this country. I wonder what will be the ultimate result if we continue to develop trade agreements of this nature to the detriment of our own tobacco-growers. Although I was the Minister who negotiated that trade agreement with Rhodesia, I say that we should examine the agreement again in the light of the present situation of the Australian tobacco industry, which seems to be fading out of existence. It seems to me to be "going down the wind " because of the failure of the Government to encourage an industry which should mean so much to Australia at this time of dollar restrictions. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- It was not "up the wind " when the honorable member was Minister for Trade and Customs; {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- But it was pretty flush in production at that time. The encouragement given to manufacturers and importers to utilize increasing, quantities of Australian leaf by means of the "drawback" provision in the duty payable on imported leaf which had been blended with a sufficient percentage of local leaf, did increase the production of Australian leaf.' The industry has had . its ups. and downs, and the application of an artificial stimulus to Australian production did result in Australian tobacco gaining a bad name because vast quantities of inferior leaf were foisted upon the Australian -smoking public. I realize also that large sums of money were spent to establish the industry in this country, and ihat the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research made energetic and protracted efforts to combat the various diseases and pests which beset Australian tobacco crops, and I appreciate the splendid job done by that body. The fact remains, however, that tobaccogrowing is an industry of fluctuating fortunes. If things had gone light with the industry it.might. at this time of acute shortage of dollars, have been of untold value to our national economy. Nevertheless, one cannot overlook the fact that because of the short-sightedness of the Government, and of the Minister .for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** in particular, the industry has received no assistance, and that is largely responsible for its present condition. The treatment meted out to the tobacco industry by the Government is in line with its attitude towards many rural industries. {: #debate-20-s6 .speaker-JLR} ##### Mr ADERMANN:
Maranoa .- The further contribution which I desire to make to the debate is to bring to the attention of the committee a telegram which I have received from **Mr. Shorten, president** cf the Southern Queensland Tobacco Growers Association, who telegraphed me after he had listened to a broadcast of the debate last night. He states that the first mOve which the Government should make is to "improve marketing so as to assure growers' full commercial value for leaf produced ". 1 was most interested to hear the speech of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard),** and I appreciate the problems and difficulties confronting the Government in regard to this industry. However, the Minister says we have no right to use' the term " sinister ". as applied to- purchases. **Mr. Shorten** does not employ that term, and I hesitate to use it. However, I am satisfied that growers have good reason to be dissatisfied with the methods' of marketing which have obtained in', the industry. The first sales of tobacco crops' in any season, invariably realize the best prices. It is said that the major- company buying for all. manufacturers pays the better price, until the demands of the smaller manufacturers are met, when the prices have fallen. That happens year, after year, and although growers have in many years held back samples of the first part of their crop sold for purposes of comparison with the latter part, the large companies invariably allege, that the tobacco, which they purchase is of inferior quality to that sold earlier, arguing that, in consequence, they are entitled to purchase it at a lower price. When things like that happen year after, year they cannot be due to mere coincidence, and this is an injustice suffered by groovers to which I have drawn attention many times previously. Before any other action is taken to improve the lot of tobaccogrowers that is something which should be remedied. **Mr. Shorten** then urges the payment of "government assistance to solve production problems ". I do not know exactly what he had in mind, but from the latter part of his telegram I assume he means the payment of financial assistance for the purpose of combating disease and pests. Like manyothers,I believed that mould, the principal disease to which tobacco crops grown in this country are susceptible, could be overcome by spraying with benzol, but evidently that is not so. The exceptionally wet season which has prevailed in all parts of Australia has evidently had a detrimental . effect on the Queensland tobacco crop. The nextstep which **Mr. Shorten** . urges should betaken is . the provisionof additional water supplies for irrigation ". An adequate supply of water for irrigation purposesis particularly essential inthe district where **Mr. Shorten** . operates. Supplies of water for irrigation have been promised bysuccessive Stategovernments for many years,but nothing has been done toimplement those promises. However, the present . Government in Queensland hasundertaken to provide water for that purpose,and Itrustthat its promisewill provean exceptionto the rule. **Mr. Shorten** then mentionsthematter of" premium payments ". Atpresent theyare madeonthe following basis, namely: Leafwhichsells at27d. perlb. ormore, 9d. perlb.leafwhich sells at 18d. to 26d. per lb., 6d. per lb.; leaf which sells at 15d. to17d. perlb., 3d. per lb. However, the Minister, in the course, of his speech, omitted to state that those premiums are paid by the tobacco manufacturers, and not by the Government. Honorable members will realize, therefore,that the Government is not giving any financial assistance to this industry, which has always been " on the bread-line". In this respect, tobacco falls into the same categoryas cotton. Previous governments have failed to provide a sufficient return to the growers of cotton and tobacco to encourage production in sufficient quantities. Had they done so, the country would undoubtedly have been saved much of the embarrassment caused by the present shortage of dollars. **Mr. Shorten** states, that growers are of the unanimous opinion that premium payments should be made by theGovernment, and not by manufacturers. The aadoption of that proposal would , of course, involve the Government jn the payment of a subsidy, and growers askforpaymentof a subsidyof9d. per lb. for all grades of tobacco leaf. Whilst I agree thatpayment of a subsidy is necessary,I disagree with the proposal that a uniform rate should be paid for all production, irrespective of its quality.Myexperienceof industry is opposed to the adoption of any such prpposal. Growers argue that payment of the subsidy by the Government, instead ofbythe manufacturers, would result in fairer treatment for them. They advocate that if they are paidonthe basisof a " table of limits ", plus , a subsidy which theycontendtheyare entitledto receive, itwould provide a greater incentiveto them to produce more tobacco. The price paidto growers of tobacco leaf inthiscountry has never been satisfactory,and Irepeatthestatement I made yesterday,thatanincreaseof tariff duty on imported leafwill not encourage growerstoimprove thequality of their product.However, ifthey knowthat they will receive asatisfactory price I believe thatthey willcooperatewiththeGovernment and restore the industry, which has almostgone out ofexistence, toa nationalasset. Labour isanotherproblemwhich confrontstobbacco-growers.TheMinis- ter suggested that the industry might, with advantage, be mechanized. I disagree with that contention, because if it is capable of being mechanized at all, it could be mechanized only to a limited degree. I cannot imagine how a machine could be utilized to pick grubs off tobacco plants every morning, or to gather leaves as they mature. An entire tobacco crop is not harvested at ohe time, the operation is progressive. Difficulties. would present themselves to the use of machinery in several cultural operations. If this, industry is to succeed we must be prepared to supply labour. I rose to put before the committee the point of view of the growers, who say unanimously that their proposals provide the solution of the main difficulties. Unless a price is given that will encourage growers to produce - not a borderline price - we shall never get the production that is needed. {: #debate-20-s7 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
Northern Territory -- I spoke last night upon this important industry as it affects Australia. J was surprised to hear the Minister make the best speech for the monopolist that I have ever heard from, a member of a so-called democratic Government. He probably spoke as he did because of his ignorance of the real position, but nevertheless his speech was merely a defence of the monopolist. He concluded his wandering remarks by saying, in effect, that if the quality is good the price will be right. That means the price paid by the manufacturers, but I do not trust them any more than anyone else does on this side of the committee. The Government is throwing this industry into the hands of a foreign element. Only certain types of persons will be able to make a success of tobacco-growing in Australia and they are the people accustomed to a lower standard of living than Australians, such as Yugoslavs and others from south-eastern Europe. Some fifteen years ago the Canadians fought to save their agricultural industry and to prevent their standard of living being lowered by reason of an influx of immigrants accustomed to a lower standard than 'themselves. The same position is now arising in Australia. Honorable members on this side of the chamber want a prosperous yeomanry and not the indigent peasantry that this Government is sponsoring by its actions. It is probable that the Minister made his defence of the monopolist, as it was in effect, because he had not taken the trouble to ascertain the technique of tobacco-growing. Other honorable members have referred to it and to the patience that is required, but only in passing. I have grown tobacco from a seed bed. We used to cut whole stalks down, put two across a pole and carry them into a tobacco -shed. That was the procedure 30 years ago, but the technique now requires the use of kilns. To meet the present requirements of the cigarette market, the tobacco leaf has to be stripped periodically, in other words, it is necessary to adopt the technique of the Hollanders in countries like Sumatra. Honorable members opposite would be enlightened if they visited that country and talked to the people who are making a success of tobacco-growing there. I do not wonder that the Hollanders are fighting the barbarians for their rights and for the return of their plantations. When tobacco-growing land there has bean used for five years, it is spelled and not used again for ten years. The private companies of the Hollanders , have research organizations continuously at work, hut in Australia the policy is haphazard and go-as-you-please, despite the fact that we have established the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I do not know of one government experimental farm that is assisting the growers here in the same way as the private research organizations in Sumatra and Malaya are helping growers there. The tobacco leaf grown in eastern Sumatra is produced essentially for cigar coverings and is so assiduously culled that much of it is destroyed. I was reliably informed by a Hollander that there are about 30 different classifications of leaf. There are some for length, some for colour and others for flavour width and so on. If we are to put the industry on a proper basis in Australia and to have a prosperous yeomanry rather than an indigent peasantry, the price of tobacco leaf to the grower must be guaranteed by the Government. It is useless for the Minister to. run away from the problem- and to say that if the colour or the quality is right the price will be right. He criticized the honorable member for Balaclava **(Mr. White)** for using theword " sinister ". I say there is a sinister synchronizationof circum stances in this matter. Surely that is so if the tobacco companies are to dictate the price and appoint their own appraisers. In this situation, the Minister should not take objection to the word, bad as it is, and loath as I am to use it. The Commonwealth Government must give premiums or prizes for the superior quality tobacco so that the super-grower may be rewarded. Despite the difficult technique of tobacco-growing,there are still many Australians who are highly qualified for the task. The second-class lands in the far north, despised by many people, will come into their own as suitable areas for the growing of cotton and tobacco if the grower is guaranteed a fair price for his product. I ask the Government to see to it that 3s. 6d. per lb. will not be regarded as the highest price for first-class leaf. At 5s. per lb., the good class leaf will be produced. *Sitting suspended from 5.13 to 8 p.m.* {: #debate-20-s8 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- Prior to the suspension of the sitting, the committee was discussing the question of reverting to the pre-war duty upon tobacco. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard),** when replying to the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen),** exhibited considerable pique, a fact I was sorry to note because he was not a member of the Parliament when this industry was established. Consequently, I am afraid that he based his remarks upon wrong assumptions. I am afraid that his predecessor in office, the Vice-President of the Executive Council **(Mr. Scully),** who has spoken in this debate as though he had a monopoly of. knowledge of the industry, has misled him. The Minister should appreciate the fact that several honorable members on this side of the chamber have actually grown tobacco, whilst others have discharged responsibilities of administration in respect of the industry. I am sure that, as an enthusiastic Minister, he is avid for the latest ideas concerning the industry, because tobacco culture offers a means to this country of earning dollars. Faced, as we are at present, with a dollar strin gency, that aspect should considerably agitate the Minister's mind. However, as I have said, the Minister exhibited considerable pique when replying to the honorable member for Indi, whereas he would have acted with more wisdom had he thanked the honorable member for his very thoughtful speech. Obviously, the honorable member for Indi is an authority on the industry. His electorate includes the Ovens Valley, which is the biggest tobacco-growing district in Victoria. The Minister would be well-advised to study the facts of the case. He admitted that a previous Labour administration made a blunder when, during the depression, it placed a crude and fantastic duty upon tobacco, with the result that speculators found it easy to "palm off" land upon which they pursuaded settlers to grow tobacco. Those persons found that they could not make tobaccogrowing pay. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** emphasized, quality is most important. If tobacco leaf of the proper grade is grown it can be sold, but it is impossible to dispose of cabbage-leaf varieties. Only suitable land should be used for the production of tobacco leaf. Coarse and dark varieties cannot be forced upon consumers. Honorable members opposite have thrown many stones at the BritishAustralasian Tobacco Company. It is true that that company does the bulk of the business in the handling of tobacco in this country. However, it is equallytrue that thecompany operates with the highest efficiency. The Government in which I was Minister for Trade and Customs provided for the blending of an increasing percentage of Australian leaf in local manufacture. During my term as Minister, I dealt with the very complaint voiced by the Vice-President of the Executive Council when he complained that tobacco grown to-day in the Tarnworth district could not be sold. I had that complaint investigated, not by representatives of any company, but by departmental officers, who reported that growers in that district were attempting to produce tobacco leaf on soil which was utterly unsuitable. However, since those: days the general quality of Australianproduced leaf has improved. This has beenduelargely toresearchencouraged by pastgovernments inthe interests of the industry. Those governments realized that given adequate guidance, tobacco growerscando aswell asgrowers of wheat and wool.As the result of thatpolicy, we find to-day that tobacco and cotton, both of which are dollar earners,can beprofitably produced inthiscountry and can helpnot only AustraliabutalsoGreatBritainin meeting the dollarproblem. Thisisanimportant consideration at a time when we read that the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley),theMinisterfor** Commerce and Agriculture(Mr. Pollard) and a host of officials are exploring tariff schedules with theobject offindingoutwhatproductswe canexportto the United States of America in order to ease the dollar shortage. They will search for a long time before they find what else we can sell to the United States of America. Tobacco and cotton head the list of productsof which we can buy less from that country. I do not put theseviews to theGovernmentinany partisan spirit. I advance them in the sincere desire that the Government will investigate them. I also point outthat the Government inwhich Iwas Minister for Trade and Customs allocated the sum of £40,000 annually for research work in the interests of thetobaccogrowing industry. Under that scheme inspectors went outamong the farmersgiving them the full benefitof their advice, and, at the same time, the greatest degree of experimentation was carried on.Thatworkproved to bemost successful. I recall that a cure was discovered for downy mildew and, other diseases which haddecimated tobacco crops inQueensland.Thatpolicy was infinitely better than merely imposing a duty on tobacco,and had itbeen continued Australian growerswould be producing considerablymoretobacco leaf thantheyareabletoproduce to-day.If honorable members opposite approach thisproblemfrom a national point of view they willagain implement that policy. Ifthe Ministerfor Commerce andAgriculture tookthe trouble to study what was done by previousgovernments in theinterests of the industry he, also, would support it. The expenditure of £40,000 annually on research effecteda considerableimprovement in thequality of Australian leafandstepped up the productionofmahoganyand lemon colour leaf which isreadily saleable.Butthis vote is not provided for in this Government'sestimates. That provision was madeata time when the Australian Government'srevenue was comparatively small. This Government talks in terms of tens of millions ofpounds. TheAustralian people have never been more heavily taxed than they are at present. Revenueis flowinginto the Government's coffers in such a way that Ministerslike the MinisterforAir **(Mr. Drakeford)donot** know what to do with all the money. The Minister for Air cannot think where to put another un- payable Government airline. Ministers are faced with an embarrassment of riches. At the same time, ministers and members are able to takejauntsall round the world. The Australian people are now the most heavily taxed people of the world. Yet, whilst the Government still extorts more taxes, it cannot spare a miserable£40,000a year in order to help the tobacco growers of the Commonwealth to develop their industryand thus earnmore dollars for thiscountry. Whereare the plannerswho havebeen tellingushow theworldshould be run, and who have been signing agreements at Geneva and, of all places, Havana, where they should have learned something about tobacco, yet at a time like this they cannot realize the importance of the tobacco industry?I believe that when the Minister forCom- m erce andAgriculture thinks the matter over he will go" hot foot " to Cabinet andsay, " We were made to look silly in this debate.You mustallocate £40,000 to helpthis industry. JackDedmanhas just come back from Havana,and he should have learned something.Let him bring down a recommendationthat some allocation be made for research in the interests of the tobacco industry". Inthe lastEstimates a considerable sum wasappopriated forplant culture, but noneof it is being expended on tobacco I should be glad to be corrected on that point if I am wrong. At any rate, the Government is not expending anything like £40,000 ayear in this sphere. However, in view of its record revenues, it could easily afford to double that appropriation. I again urge the Minister to study the suggestions made in this debate. I hope that be will nol continue to be so impetuous, but, on the contrary, will realize that such suggestions are worth studying just as he has found it worth while to study rabbit skins and other matters with such enthusiasm that his replies to questions on such subjects never take more than a quarter of an hour. Items' agreed to. Item 180 agreed to. Division 7. - Oils, Paints and Varnishes. Item 229 (Petroleum and shale products) - {: #debate-20-s9 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- This is a comprehensive item covering naphtha, benzine, benzoline, gasoline, pentane, petrol and any other petroleum or shale spirit. I believe that the reduction of duty is not sufficient to encourage the project of the National Oil Proprietary Limited at Glen Davis. I have had considerable experience of that project, not only in my present position as a liaison between the mining unions and the Government but also as chairman of the Public Works Committee when it inquired into the project from 1943 to 1945, and even farther back than that, in connexion with the American commission's proposal for a hew plant to extract old from shale known as the Renco or Jackmani retort. The Public Works Committee included representatives of all the political parties then, represented in the Parliament. After exhaustive inquiries, the committee submitted to the Parliament certain recommendations, including one that while the committee agreed that the Pumpherston retorts should be improved, it considered that a pilot plant should be erected to try out the American idea in order to ascertain whether we could recover from 120 to 140 gallons from a ton of shale, which, it was claimed, Lad been shown to be possible by laboratory tests. We found that the retorts had been set up in various places. The Americans claimed that the retort " delivered the goods ", but we were not quite satisfied for we wished to see it operate on what may be termed run-of-the-mine shale instead of selected shale without the dirt that would go through with run-of-the-mine shale. That recommendation was carried out in part, but, on my recent visit to Glen Davis, I found that the plant has never been completed, let alone tested. That indicates to me that we waste money in setting up parliamentary committees whose recommendations are not carried out. The committee of which I was chairman was of the opinion that, the system should be given a fair trial, but the excuse now offered is that not sufficient shale is being mined to supply the present plant, despite the fact, that it was put to me, as a miner, that if we could induce the miners at Glen- Davis to agree to a system of extraction of pillars by machinery, sufficient shale would be mined to supply not only the existing plant but also the new Renco or Jackamani retort. There must be some reason for the failure. I make it quite clear that miners fear extraction of pillars by machinery. They believe that it endangers their lives. But many of the miners have invested their life savings in. homes at Glen Davis. They do not want the project to close down as a losing proposition, as it has been for a period of years under the control of the National Oil Proprietary Limited. The project has been able to carry on only because the Labour Government has carried the losses. I was at Glen Davis only a fortnight ago and I spoke not only to the miners but also to a. public meeting in an attempt to keep production at as high a level as possible. They have agreed to do so. The honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison),** as a member of the Public Works Committee when I was chairman, will agree that Glen Davis is completely isolated. It has no amenities, no bathing facilities, no hospital and no hall for pictures, bar a bug and flea-ridden bag place. The people there are living in isolation trying in a period of national emergency to get shale for the nation. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order** ! The honorable member is a little wide of the matter before the committee. He is entitled to make reasonable reference to the subject he has been discussing, but the question before the Chair is the schedule to the bill. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I was advised by the clerk, **Mr. Chairman,** that I would he in order discussing this subject. If you are over-ruling him- {: #debate-20-s10 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The Chair is in complete control of the committee. If the honorable gentleman persists in his present attitude I shall ask him to resume his seat. I rule that he is too far from the matter before the Chair. I am prepared to allow him to make a reasonable reference to the subject that he has been dealing with but he is going into too much detail. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I shall make a reasonable reference to it and will endeavour to conform to your ruling. I know that this item is very comprehensive. It is related to item 11 and the reduction of excise from 4d. to 3d. a gallon. If we wish to help this national project at Glen Davis we should waive the duty altogether. We should do so if we are to make this country self-contained in regard to oil from our solids, both shale and coal. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! I think that the honorable member has the wrong matter before him. The committee is dealing with the schedule to the bill. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Will you make my speech for me? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! Resume your seat. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Will you indicate when I may speak. Item agreed to. Division 9. - Drugs and Chemicals. Item 266 (Benzol and Naphtha). {: #debate-20-s11 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- I have permitted a number of items to pass without asking the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture(Mr. Pollard) for an explanation of the variations of the rates of duty, but I now consider that the time has arrived when he should give to the Committee some information about these matters, because they are of general importance to the Australian industries affected by the duties. At this point, the Minister should explain the various alterations which have been made in the duties applicable to benzol and naphtha. In 1933-39, the British preferential tariff was 6d. a gallon, the intermediate tariff 9d. and the general tariff 9d. On the 2nd May, 1940, the duties were increased to 9d.,1s. and1s. a gallon respectively. In 1946 the British preferential tariff was reduced from 9d. to8d. a gallon, the intermediate tariff from1s. to11d. and the general tariff from1s. to11d. However, those reductions do not restore the pre-war rates. These duties, we know, are imposed for revenue producing purposes,, although they also afford some degree of protection to our local industries. The Minister should also explain to the committee the reasons for these variations. These duties have been validated over a number of years, and honorable members will be interested to know exactly why the duties have fluctuated as they have done. A similar explanation is due to the committee in respect of item 277, carbonic acid gas. In . 1933-39, the British preferential tariff was 2d. per lb. and the intermediate and general tariffs were 3d. per lb. In 1940 the rates were increased to1s. 2d.,1s. 3d. and1s. 3d. per lb. respectively. In 1946 the British preferential tariff was reduced to 2d. per lb. and the intermediate tariff and general tariff to 3d. per lb. The reason for that reduction is easily understood, but we have not been informed why the duties applicable to benzol and naphtha have not been restored to the pre-war rates. {: #debate-20-s12 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- The proposed duties represent an increase of 2d. a gallon on the rates in operation under the customs tariff of 1933-39. In May, 1940, the Menzies Government increased the rates in force in 1939 by 3d. a. gallon. The present Government reduced therate by1d. a gallon in November, 1946. These amendments are consequential upon the alterations of the duty on petrol. Benzol and naphtha may be used as substitutes for petrol, and in order to safeguard revenue it is necessary that the duties on such products be at the same level as those applying to petrol. The item is unimportant as a revenue producer, because importations are relatively small. In 1938-39, immediately before the outbreak of World War II.. the revenue collected was £956 : in 1939 it was £1,275, in 1945-46, £7; and in 1946-47, £4. Therefore, thehonorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison)** will see that the subject-matter of the item is not of vast importance as a revenue producer or as an imposition on the consumers of this product. {: #debate-20-s13 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I should like you, **Mr. Chairman,** to inform me when I may complete the remarks which I began a few minutes ago. Item 229 is in the division headed " Oils, Paints and Varnishes ", and contains a reference to petroleum and shale products. The **CHAIRMAN (Mr.** Clark).Order! Item 266 is before the Chair. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Then you have " clouted " me completely. I want to know when I may complete my speech. When I began to speak on item 229, you stated that I was elaborating the subject unnecessarily and asked me to resume my seat. {: #debate-20-s14 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! Item 266, which is before the Chair, appears under division " Drugs and Chemicals ", and the specific subjects under consideration are benzol and naphtha. {: #debate-20-s15 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .- I should like to ask a question. Will you, **Mr. Chairman,** inform me whether I shall be permitted, when the committee is considering benzol and naphtha, to discuss petrol? Does petrol come under the same heading asnaphtha ? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- No. In this instance, benzol and naphtha come under the heading of " Drugs and Chemicals ". {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- Perhaps I shall have an opportunity to refer to petrol when we are considering the excise? {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member may have that opportunity at a later date. Item agreed to. Item 277 agreed to. Schedule and Title agreed to. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted. Bill read a third time. {: .page-start } page 103 {:#debate-21} ### TARIFF PROPOSALS 1946 {:#subdebate-21-0} #### Customs Tariff (Southern Rhodesian Preference) Amendment (No. 1) {:#subdebate-21-1} #### In Committee of Ways and Means: >Consideration resumed from the 14th November, 1946 *(vide* page 262, volume 189), onmotion by **Mr. Pollard** - >That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Southern Rhodesian Preference) 1941 be amended . . .(vide page 261). {: #subdebate-21-1-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP .- The Customs Tariff (Southern Rhodesian Preference) Act 1941 provides for a concessional rate of duty on tobacco leaf when imported from Southern Rhodesia. The description of the goods follows the wording of item 19 appearing in the Customs Tariff. As the result of the alteration of the wording of tariff item 19 proposed by the Customs Tariff resolution of the 14th November, 1946, it is necessary to make a consequential alteration to the schedule of the Customs Tariff (Southern Rhodesian Preference) Act. The alteration to which I have referred, was the provision that the minimum quantity of Australian tobacco leaf which could be blended with' imported leaf in order to qualify the latter for concessional rates of duty, was to be varied in accordance with the size of the Australian tobacco crop. Previously, provision was made that a fixed percentage of Australian leaf was required to be blended with the imported leaf. Honorable members will see that the proposal is on all fours with the proposal in relation to tobacco imported from sources other than Southern Rhodesia. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted. {:#subdebate-21-2} #### Ordered - >That **Mr. Pollard** and Mr.Lemmon do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. {: .page-start } page 103 {:#debate-22} ### CUSTOMS TARIFF (SOUTHERN RHODESIAN PREFERENCE) BILL 1948 Bill presented by **Mr. Pollard** and passed through all stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 104 {:#debate-23} ### TARIFF PROPOSALS 1946 Excise Tariff Amendment (No. l). *in Committee of Ways and Means:* Consideration resumed from the 14th November, 1946 *(vide* page 262, vol. 189), on motion by **Mr. Pollard** - >That the schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921-193!) be amended . . . *(vide* page 260). Item 1 (Beer) and item 11 (Petroleum or shale products) - *by leave* - considered together. {: #debate-23-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- The amendments now proposed to the Excise Tariff are associated with 'Customs Tariff Proposal No. 1, of the 14th November, 1946, and are designed to implement reductions of duty as part of the Government's 1946 budget .programme. The reduction of Id. a gallon, in the rates of duty specified in item 11 of this resolution is complementary to the reduction of Id. a gallon in customs duties on petrol and allied petroleum products provided for in Customs Tariff Proposal No. 1 of the 14th November, 1946. Honorable members will note from the memorandum of alterations that a number of changes in item 11 have occurred since it was enacted in 1939. First, the rates were increased by 3d. a gallon from the 3rd May, 1940, as a revenue measure. On the 21st August, 1940, the item was amended to cover coal tar and coke area distillates other than benzol, and the rates on liquid fuel produced from both indigenous shale and coal were reduced to encourage and speed up production of fuel in Australia. At the time the Menzies Government gave an assurance to producers that, provided they were in production by the 2.1st August, 1942, they would be given protection against imported petrol for a period of fifteen years. The item was worded accordingly. . War-time circumstances prevented some producers from commencing production by the date stipulated and the item was subsequently amended to remove this condition. The amendment of the 5th March, 1942, was effected to make the item more comprehensive. The definition of " beer " is also being amended for administrative purposes. {: #debate-23-s1 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- I am rather interested in what the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** has said. I realize that certain administrative changes are provided for in the proposals that the committee, is considering, but so far We have not. heard very much about them. I invite the Minister to tell the committee just what is intended, and how the changes are likely to affect tariff and excise duties generally. I take it that we are now dealing comprehensively with the entire schedule. That means that we have an opportunity to discuss, for instance, an amendment to the definition of beer. We are also able to discuss excise duties imposed upon " Petroleum or Shale Products, viz. : Petrol, Benzine, Benzoline, Gasoline, Naphtha, Pentane." and so on. This, of course, opens up the entire field of petrol rationing and the production of oil from shale - the matter with which the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. Jamas)** was dealing so ably a few minutes ago. We are also at liberty to discuss, I take it, " Coal Tar and Coke Oven Distillates " &c, mentioned in item 13 (c) and "Petroleum and Shale Distillates " &c, mentioned in item 11 (b). First, I should like to know the reason for the addition of the definition of beer. This, of course, is a suitable subject for discussion on a hot evening in. Canberra, and, although, I am not one who is addicted to this beverage, I am so interested that T should like to know the meaning of the words - >For the purposes of this item, beer means any fermented liquor brewed from a mash of malted or other grains or extracts from malted or other grains with or without sugars or glucose or both sugars and glucose, hops or other vegetable bitters. That all sounds very nice. Am I to assume that we now have better methods of brewing? No doubt the Minister, with his vast knowledge and great experience, will be able to tell me what- is meant by *hat definition. I come now to certain remarks made earlier in the debate by the honorable member for Hunter. It is' true that' I was a member of the Public Works Committee when, in the early days of World War II., it investigated the production of oil from shale at Glen Davis and Baerami. I was vastly interested in the possibilities of these fields, and of others including Latrobe, which we all believed, gave great hopes of the production in this country of necessary wartime fuels. In the course of our investigations we came across a retort known as the Renco retort which, it was claimed, gave a yield that was staggering compared with that of other retorts. The company interested in the Glen Davis deposits took over this retort with the idea of using it as a pilot plant, and, in the event of satisfactory operation, installing others throughout the works. It was taken up to Glen Davis. The committee saw the plant in its dismantled state where the foundations hadbeen set for its erection. We were then told that it would be erected within a period of ten months. The honorable member for Hunter greatly interested himself in this matter on behalf of his electorate and because of the great knowledge which he has of the subject. As chairman of the Public Works Committee, he received assurances that the Glen Davis management proposed to go ahead with the erection of the retort. The committee was informed in evidence that great losses had been sustained in the Glen Davis field. We knew that private enterprise was waiting to develop the Baerami field and was awaiting a report as to the suitability or otherwise of the Renco retort before setting up retorts at Baerami. However, the management at Glen Davis, for its own reasons, did not go ahead with the erection ofthat retort. I am not sure, but I believe that it has not yet been installed. Its vast possibilities have never been explored. The losses sustained by the present method of retorting might well be reduced considerably if the Renco retort were installed and put into operation. Early reports as to its efficiency should be tested. At, the time the Public Works Committee visited Glen Davis, it was said that the company operating at Baerami had every intention of installing Renco retorts inthat field ifthe installation at Glen Davis proved to be successful. It was claimed that the more efficient results obtainable from the Renco retort would have paid handsomely in the early days of retorting, even at the higher excise duty applied by this Government. However, the retort is still lying idle at Glen Davis. I do not know whether it has rusted away completely, but at any rate its possibilities have not been exploited. I suggest to the Minister that action should be taken to bring that retort up to date. The results obtained from it might justify the installation of a battery of similar retorts. I shall not discuss the subject further because I know that the honorable member for Hunter wants to deal with it. Because of his earlier difficulties in attempting to discuss this subject on another item, I have endeavoured to give him an indication that he can discuss it now. {: #debate-23-s2 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I am Indebted to you, **Mr. Chairman,** for the fact that the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison)** has stolen some of my thunder. However, I bow to your very wise ruling. What the honorable member for Wentworth has said is perfectly true. I was dealing with that matter when you ruled wrongly - {: #debate-23-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I withdraw " wrongly ". {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member must make no reflections upon the Chair. If I have any further insolence from him I shall ask him to resume his seat immediately. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Very well. I did not intend to say the word "wrongly", and I tried to make an adequate apology. I have visited Glen Davis, as the honorable member for Wentworth knows, on three occasions. I have learned that the retort mentioned by the honorable gentleman has not yet been installed although the Public Works Committee recommended to the Government that it should be erected and tested. It has been only partially erected. When my remarks were ruled out of order earlier this evening, I was endeavouring to point out that sufficient shale could not be produced to supply the Pumpherston retorts, which arenow in use. I went to Glen Davis at the request of the miners federation, to ask the men to extract pillars by machine, which is a very dangerous process. They agreed to do so in order to try and save the homes which they had established there. Other governments as well as the present Government have been interested in the extraction of oil from shale under the management of National Oil Proprietary Limited. The project has been a losing one, but we want to try to make it profitable in order that the employees who have gone to Glen Davis to live will have at least some security. These men have put all of their assets into that place, and they want the project to become an economic success. I have never known men and' women more willing to make their town a congenial place. The men are working hard in an endeavour to keep up the output of shale. Many factors contribute to the fact that the maximum possible production is not being maintained at Glen Davis. One of these is the lack of a satisfactory housing scheme. Homes are not provided for married workers. A man does not like to maintain two homes, one for himself at Glen Davis and another for his wife at Lithgow or elsewhere. The State Government has been asked to build homes in that locality in order that the population may be increased and the output of shale maintained. However, the Premier, **Mr. McGirr,** has " passed the buck " to the Australian Government and has said that the matter is one for National Oil Proprietary Limited, which is dependent on this Government. That is what has been reported to me. I do not say that it is correct, but it calls for an answer by some responsible person. Furthermore, the State Government will not consider erecting a hospital or even a child welfare clinic. These things affect the success of the Glen Davis project. The building of houses and a hospital would contribute towards saving the money that has been sunk, or at any rate invested, in the Glen Davis proposition by this Government, and by previous governments. We want to make the project a profitable one. If my ideas, which are the ideas submitted to me by the people who live at Glen Davis, are carried out, I sincerely believe that the project can be made to succeed and the homes of the people saved. The Joint *_ Goal* Board would not interest itself in providing houses and amenities for the workers at Glen Davis. *lt* asserted that it had no right to do so, because the word " coal " is not mentioned in relation to the process. The Joint Coal Board, therefore, washed its hands of the matter, stating that it could, not provide the same amenities for shale workers as for coal-miners. In my opinion, it would be an easy matter for the Government to bring the employees of National Oil Proprietary Limited within the ambit of the Joint Coal Board so that they may share in the improved, amenities which are to be provided for coal-miners in the near future. Why should the sick child of a miner employed at Glen Davis have to be transported 50 miles to Lithgow hospital? It is ridiculous that people employed at Glen Davis should be denied ordinary hospital facilities. No provision whatever is made for maternity cases, and the result is that expectant mothers often give birth to babies while pt>, *route* to the maternity hospital at Lithgow. It is tragic to think that people who are engaged in <i vital national enterprise should be treated in such h fashion. A great will have to bp done to provide reasonable amenities. The schedule under discussion specifically mentions "beverages", which, of course, includes beer. It is the right of a working man at Glen Davis to enjoy a drink of beer at the end of his day's work, just *w* black-coated workers do in metropolitan areas. But for three days in every week no beer is available to him. What is the result? Pedlars of "plonk" visit the valley and. sell it to the miners. Those who consume this cheap wine and have a drink of water the following morning find themselves " on the booze " again. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order! The honorable member must confine himself to the item, under discussion. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES: -- If there is to be .a greater output of shale there must be contentment amongst the miners. The complaints of the miners which I have mentioned contribute largely, to the fact that insufficient shale is mined to justify the operation of all the retorts. I support the recommendation of the Public Works Committee that Renco retorts should be taken into use. Although the employees at Glen Davis' have invested thousands of pounds in a co-operative society, for the construction of homes, they are unable to obtain building labour. Building contractors will not undertake work in the area because there is not sufficient accommodation for their employees. In company with the honorable member for Wentworth, I visited bag shacks, where the only flooring was bare earth. Yet those miners are supposed to work contentedly . and to maintain an output sufficient to meet the nation's ' requirements. If we want miners to take their lives in their hands, as they do every time they go down into the bowels of the earth, some amenities must be provided for them. They must be able to live a normal life with their wives and families, not an isolated life as they do now. The summary of recommendations made by the Public Works Committee which visited the Glen Davis and Baerami shale oil-fields, contains certain definite proposals, some of which I shall quote. Sub-paragraph 2 of paragraph 80 recommended - >That the work of installing and working the pilot Renco retort at Glen Davis for trial under working conditions be completed without further delay ... Paragraph 68 of the report states that " When oil is recovered from shale a useless material is left . . ." Subparagraph 4, of paragraph 80, Summary of Recommendations, states - '. . if the development of the Baerami field be undertaken by private enterprise, the Commonwealth Government give to the company undertaking the work such assistance for a limited period, in the form of remission of excise duty, and/or bounties on oil produced, as will enable the business to-be conducted without loss in the developmental stage (paragraph 79). Obviously if we want to encourage a national industry such as this, which has involved a loss of many 'thousands of pounds of the taxpayers money during the recent national crisis, then it is up to us to remove the duty altogether. Paragraph 72 states - >The Committee was impressed by the information placed before it and recommends, that from the point of view of national security,,;' .id r.s a major post-war project, the hydrogenation of black coal and the treatment of Victorian brown coal to produce fuel oil and petrol - and later, by-products - should be given immediate and earnest consideration. Honorable members who have been members of Parliament for any. length of time recognize that I have always been interested in the coal industry, and in the extraction of oil from shale and coal. In my opinion there is ample scope for both industries, and in any case, there is more' coal in this country than oil shale. Tests of Maitland coal have proved that it contains from 12 to 15 per cent, of oil, a higher percentage than is found in coal won in any other part of .the world. As the result of my recent journey through Germany I made certain recommendations to the Government. In the preparation of my report and recommendations 1 was greatly assisted by a **Mr. Beazley** of Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd., an expert whom I met in Munster, whose services had been loaned to the Allied coal control authorities in north Germany. This gentleman advised me that the Australian Government would be well advised not to accept one or two Fischer-Tropsch retorts, hut to seek the service's of German experts to visit Australia and erect retorts for the extraction of oil from coal. I felt that that would be the better course to take. These men, who were forced to work for the Nazis, were quite prepared to give us the benefit of their experience of the plants they had operated in Ger: many and to assist in installing new plant here. To transport plant covering 5 to 10 acres of ground would require two vessels of the size of *Queen Mary.* I supported **Mr. Beazley's** recommendation and strongly urged the Government to accept it. The criticism can be offered that there is not at present sufficient coal to satisfy the needs of industry, but I do not believe that situation to be permanent. The attempts of the miners' federation to impose discipline in the coal-fields will, I am sure, result eventually in an adequate supply of coal becoming available for normal industrial use, as well as for the conduct of experiments designed to alleviate the present shortage of flow oil by extracting oil from solids such as shale and coal. There are greater quantities of coal available than of shale, and it is cheaper to mine coal than shale. We are importing almost all of our oil fuel. To employ our people at extracting oil from solids, even though, the resultant product may cost more than imported oil, willbe far better than to do what was done during the years from 1930, almost up to the outbreak of thelast war, when we paid out " doles " to the extent of £15,000,000 a year. In such circumstances Australia would not be dependent upon other countries for oil supplies if another war occurs. I trust it will not, but if we make no attempt to safeguard ourselves in this way. we may be deprived entirely of oil supplies. Although there is a shortage of coal, I believe it is time that we began these experiments. We should bring these Germans here so that they may give us the benefit of the knowledge they have gained by operating plants economically with coal of inferior quality. {: #debate-23-s4 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .- I should like to support the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** in his plea for the extraction of oil from coal ; but we should be more interested if the honorable member, who represents Newcastle, could ensure the extraction of coal from the soil at the present time. It would be better if we got the coal before talking of extracting oil from it. I agree that it is necessary for the Government to secure, if possible, a reduction in the quantity of petrol used in this country. Australia imports approximately 33,000,000 gallons per month, and a few million gallons are obtained by way of extraction from shale. It should be possible to reduce consumption by 10 per cent. Two cuts have already been made, one of 10 per cent. in October last, and another of 10 per cent. in November last. An investigation of the figures might be expected to reveal a substantial reduction in the quantity of oil sold by the oil companies. I have not yet been able to obtain the complete figures, but those I have show that there has been practically no reduction in petrol consumption in Australia, despite the two cuts to which I. have referred. {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard: -- The honorable member has not calculated what the increase would have been if the cuts were not imposed. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- A report in the press to-day discloses one of the reasons why such areduction and consequent saving of vital dollars has not occurred. A youth of nineteen years of age was able to secure- {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! The honorable member is entitled to make reference to petrol rationing insofar as it is affected by the duties and the excise tariff, but he is not entitled to indulge in a general dissertation on that subject. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I presume the necessity for those duties is governed by the necessity to conserve petrol. . {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- TheChair has given its ruling. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- If I am ruled out, of order, I cannot proceed. I consider that I ought to be able to say that petrol rationing is necessary and show how it can be tightened up in order to conserve the supplies that are available. I have perforce to accept the ruling of the Chair, and I cannot even express disagreement with it. I might be suspended for a month if I did. An enormous sum of public money has been squandered by the Government on the so-called extraction of oil from shale at Glen Davis. Figures issued by the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** show that since its establishment National Oil Proprietary Limited, has been advanced £3,091,000 of public money. Including interest of £287,000, a total expenditure of £3,378,000 of Commonwealth funds has been involved at Glen Davis. As the honorable member for Hunter has pointed out, there is practically nothing to show for it. I have not available at the moment exact figuresof production at Glen Davis, but I believe that the total production would represent no more than a bagatelle so far as Australia's requirements are concerned. The cost of producing petrol at Glen Davis is out of all proportion to the economics of the project. It is proposed to impose an excise duty of 3d. a gallon upon production up to 10,000,000 gallons - I do not believe that anything approaching 10,000,000 gallons a year has yet been reached at Glen Davis - and, thereafter, duty at the rate of 8½d. a gallon is to be applied. In any case, what is the sense of these duties when all of the money involved is government money? It is [simply a<. matter of government, bookkeeping,.' because the gov-erament will-pay back-in respect of the project any revenue it« Motives, frorru the production at Glen DaVis. 'The proposal will . not -mean any actual ^benefit to the Treasury, unless, -of course, the . 'Minister ; has some other explanation- -of 'the . matter to offer. ! say emphatically that'-: 'either . i this waste of public: money at. -Gleni. Davis-must- be eliininatedj-'Ois greater efficioncyi'must be exercised . in-'the 'extraction.'.of '.oil from shale. -at Glen -Davis. ' In-previous.-debates it has been pointed o.ut' first outofdate . j;etorts w.erei used at Glen Davis ; and'ilrt was claimed-for years, that as soon as -they were replaced the project- would r-etwra dividends. So.. far . -as I. can gather '.'th&'Old retorts' . have -been replaced t find- ther-planU.gener.aHy has 'been overhauled. At any 'rate, . a vast sum of money . has been expended for.. that purpose. ..However, -production, has. not, yet been. pap. to expectations. . The Parliament and the»GOuntry iare -en titled' to know the facts with- respect to", the' Glen Davis projfict/ -because -this, proposal affects almost exclusively , ^petrol produced at ' Glen Davis. -i-As- 1 am. precluded at this juncture' from dealing with petrol rationing, "C sliall take an- "opportunity to do so . on fhe. . motion.'for the- adjournment of the House. Mr.WHITE (Wilmot) [9.14.]-A11 honorable -m'em'bers 'ate vitally' interested *iri*4his matter,- although' it- may 'seem a "veT/'dry "-topic- in- comparison''with*somp"of I the '-sVbjeets * <we have- ''dealt » with tece'h'tly. The* 'Government . -proposes to deduce by 'Id? a' gallon the rate' of i excise "duty oir-petrol:.- 'produced 'from shale', in "Australia. "TJp 'to < November -last,' duty Avas,'impos:ed'a-tl,the,,rate,of 9'kl. a: gallon, and the" 'rate has now been - reduced to *l-4S$&:* a~ gallon. -Phis is a revenueproducing dtfty-j.but' t'hc'-object of* the reduction is ' to ' encourage* the-'prodiaatron of petroleum, or shale,' -products such' as petrol P bend ne and benzol in this country. Allw.'of u=' -are' aware of ' the' desperate dtol'lar'i'ii^&sitioiT' ednfrorsting ' Australia, "Mand'of 'thA fact that a.& oil Wells -in* the ©Mted "''States of . . America are - be»coirtiuig less . 'productive " fhat counttry i is looking ti : to production in -o therv'CO u n fcr.i es it in-- '0 l-cl *p.* r » to' *as* up ple-m en t its own production. ; Gonsecfuently,:-thi.s ds ; a . aita.1 (proposal which - cannot be treated lightly. vAH? honorable-, members whonhave so.. far- spoken, in. . this : debate ueal-ize the urgency of our situation. Anything i the Government can do to encourage-. local . production . -of . petrol i.« surely . of national' value- and significance. ". I - . propose to deal . briefly with' the possibilities of ..devielopiaig itheiishale oil deposits at Latnobetin. Tasmania. . I lived at '.'iLatrobe for . two an*J a . half years. . ! The town is situated in my -leleetora-te. i I .. listened with, particular ioiterest'ito rthe speeches of the honorable ..anenaher ,.for : Hunter , **(Mr. James)** and ..the honorable member, for iWentworth (Mrl Harrison), who recalled lihatithe Public -Works Committee investigated! shaleuoili -deposits! about,, *three years* ifig'O. 1 Thatioommittee visited iLatrobe and made a.'ifepo.rt on , the-depositsiin..that,ai'ea. T-hey are old deposits- which , were worked successfully : up to a, point about 35. years iBgo. . - Siuoentheiiy however,. the-re . ha&.been mo activity ton, ith at field. Various, -reasons have beeiir advanced ' . for sthe cessation of operations ;.>but: it may interest . honorable members i . to. . know thatt motor . , were run on.ipebrol . "produced fji'om.'tthe shale . oil deposits at., Latrobe. , The,- cars -rran very well son- that petrol, ibut,tiU'nfortunately. the petrol, gave off fumesi . which ..ex-tended for-, many miles in sthe -w^ake 0$ a vehicle. That-i . was the ronlyn 'unfavorable.', feature ofi the«petr.ol-ahd it was -.due mainly : to> the "fact.'ithati no modern- retorts , -werpi av.ailable in.' thossi.da.ys for- treating, thei shale. However, with iplant-^of- the . type- which should -shave heen installedtat.Gleri Davis it? should be possible to: -produce 'high standard petrol at Latrobe. Therefore, we cannot mei-elynbrush-asideuthe. matter by pointing . to . the unnlcasant features to which I have . referred. . The Latrobe shale . 'oil deposits , . have never . been prope.rly:exploited. I have discussed the history of the field with,ma.ny. local people who -have, . resided.- in j that area for many years. . A, German . engineer installed! the old . plant , at. iLatrobe. . It.* is . still there, being, a. reminder of., an, honest attempt to produce, petrol . f.rom . shale. -Ehe',.ipoint I' emphasize is. that- within : 'fehe ..lasti.i'30 years no- really 'effective attempt . -has i been -.made- toiexplore the possibilities *of< the- '-shale oil deposits ;jt Latrobe.' I am aware' of the argument that the deposits are not large enough, to make their exploitation economical and that the cost of production would be very high. Surely our need to produce petrol in this country to-day should stimulate the Government, if not individual companies, to explore the possibilities of those deposits. Recently, I heard rumours that the land bearing the deposits at Latrobe had been leased to an oil company for a period of 50 years. I am wondering, whether, as has often happened in respect of other promising oil-bearing deposits, an attempt is being made to discourage the development of the Latrobe deposits. To-day, for the first time in . our history, and for the reasons I have mentioned, a sincere attempt is being made to produce petrol in Australia. All shale deposits, wherever they exist throughout the Commonwealth, including the Latrobe deposits should now be genuinely tested and such efforts should not be abandoned until every possible test has been made. I repeat that no such attention has yet been given to the deposits at Latrobe. Even if the field could be operated for Tasmania only, it would be of tremendous assistance, as all our petrol is imported from the mainland, and that, of course, at times causes us great concern as well as higher costs. So I put these facts to the committee in order to keep the matter before us so that the possibilities of Latrobe shall not be regarded as hopeless. Our Government ' should be inspired to every effort, oven though there may be losses in the initial stages, to get the desperately needed petrol from our own shale deposits. {: #debate-23-s5 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN:
Bendigo . --I was a member of the Public "Works Committee that was authorized during the war to inquire into our shale deposits. We inquired into shale deposits throughout Australia. "We- did not consider there was any possibility of the successful use of the Latrobe deposits. There had been at some long distant date an attempt to produce motor spirit from that shale. The deposit is slight. There are agreat many disabilities in its use. There is a hard pebble through a great section of it. Our opinion was that it was quite impossible to produce shale oil at a figure that would encourage any go vernment, even in a time of war, to use it. We decided that there was a possibility of success at Glen Davis. We believed that with the use of Renco retorts there was a chance that we might be able to . produce motor spirit there at a cost that, in war-time conditions, would justify the Government in spending money on it. I do not believe that intime of peace any government is justified in spending a considerable sum of money on any of the shale deposits. I believe that there is a possibility that we should be justified in considering the production of oil from coal. . We have wonderful coal deposits in New South Wales, but, unfortunately, our experience has-been for the last four or five years that we cannot produce sufficient coal from the New South Wales fields to carry on essential industries - gas works, steel works and railways. I believe that in Victoria possibly the best opportunity of producing spirit from coal is provided by the vast brown coal deposits of Gippsland, about which the honorable member for Gippsland **(Mr. Bowden)** can speak authoritatively. When one considers that there we have deposits running a distance of 100 miles' and varying from 100 to 150 feet in depth one can imagine that with the adoption of the proper method, of hydrogenation, the, method used in Germany, there is a possibility of producing motor spirit at a cost that would justify the Government in spending money on it. I do not believe that the Government would be justified in spending money on experiments in the production of oil from the coal in New South Wales - the deposits there are too valuable from other points of view - but the second-grade coal of Gippsland provides justification for the Government to bring the best experts available to Australia from Germany where, owing to absence of natural oil, they were forced to produce oil from coal. The Government would, be justified in spending a large sum of money in developing the Gippsland coal deposits for the production of oil, but, as the results of the investigations of the Public Works Committee, . I do not believe that the shale oil deposits are worth developing in any circumstances, other than to meet the exigencies of war. {: #debate-23-s6 .speaker-J7U} ##### Dame ENID LYONS:
Darwin . -I support strongly the remarks of the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison)** and other honorable members who have urged the necessity for experimenting with Australian shale by the use of the Renco retorts. In common with the honorable member for Wilmot **(Mr. Duthie),** I know something of the Latrobe deposits and something of the report of the committee that investigated the whole proposition some years ago. The honorable member said that it was 35 years since motor spirit was produced from the Latrobe shale, but I know that motor spirit was being produced from that shale twenty years ago. The Bronter retort was in operation and quite a lot of fuel was produced.I used some of it on occasions. I can verify the honorable member's remarks about the vapours that resulted from its use. I was running a ten-year-old Hudson and getting about 10 miles a gallon. With a certain amount of commercial petrol in my petrol tank, mixed with the local product, I went from Latrobe to Wynyard, a distance of 40 miles, on just over a gallon. Believe it or not ! {: .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr Fadden: -- I imagine the honorable member had the road to herself. {: .speaker-J7U} ##### Dame ENID LYONS: -- There was no one behind me for many miles. I was not happy about the smell, myself. But the power was there, without doubt. It was an enormously powerful spirit. The one difficulty, of course, was the lack of refining, and the odor was terrific. Of course, some damage would be done to the car engine if one ran too long on the spirit. The real trouble was the sulphur content, which, at that time, could notbe eliminated. It so happens that about eighteen months ago I met **Mr. George** Bronter, who was then operating the retort. It was his father, an American, who designed it. He has now severed all connexion with that kind of work, certainly with the Latrobe field. But he assures me that, as the result of knowledge gained from recent experiments, it would now be commercially possible to undertake the refining of the output from Latrobe. He says that, in his opinion, because of limitations of which the committee has been informed, petrol produced from Latrobe shale would never be able to compete even with petrol produced from other Australian . shales. It cannot be produced economically enough to make it worth exporting from Tasmania. He spent two or three years on a complete survey of the field, and he assures me that it is capable of producing sufficient petrol to meet all Tasmania's needs. The honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** said that, in his opinion, as a member of the committee that investigated the Australian shale deposits, it would not be feasible to produce petrol from Australian shale, except under conditions of war. Quite obviously, you cannot begin to produce from shale under conditions of war. The foundations must be laid before the emergency arises. So. I suggest that now is the time to begin the experiments. The general situation in regard to petrol and, I say with great reluctance, the general situation with regard to war, are such that it would be wise to make whatever provision for the production of petrol within Australia we possibly can. So, I commend to the Government that it proceed with the use of the Renco retort, which has proved to be so very much more capable of results than any other retorts hitherto used in Australia. I particularly ask that in the event of any such work being carried out, the Latrobe field be examined most carefully, having regard to the fact that, as far as I am aware, at any rate, it is the only petrol-bearing mineral in Tasmania. {: #debate-23-s7 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .- Another subject apropos this is : what is to be the fate of the power alcohol distilleries that were erected during the war to produce motor spirit from wheat? In an answer to a question asked by me, I ascertained that about £2,000,000 was expended on these distilleries and that about a dozen pints of spirit was produced. They did not function, for what reason I do not know. In any event, wheat is too valuable to be used in the production of spirit. Has the Government disposed of those distilleries? One of them was placed most strategically in the electorate of Wimmera which was then represented by one no 'longer with "UB, who rs the . admanaswator 'of Noxfo'l'k Island "now. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- The hon'orablo 'fiie'mher is reMr'ing -to 'political 'strategy'? {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- 'Pes, I Ydfef to political stra'tegy and ndt to military strategy. The 'Government 'has expanded 'Vast Slims o'f mohdy dh ihfese distilleries, 'and -the buildings 'a're 'still there-^ - {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- Order ! ( The Honor allle member's remarks are 'entirely out 'of o'rder. 'They ''relate to 'power alcohol, 'and not to petroleum 'products. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -- I presume that so'ine o'f the Government 'under taking's produce power al'cbho1]. 'At any 'fate, that was intended. {: .speaker-10000} ##### The CHAIRMAN: -- The honorable member must not canvass 'that. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE: -i shall not ask the Minister to explain what the Government proposes to do with those undertakings, but I shall direct, my remarks to other branches, of oil production. For example, the 'Minister' for 'External Territories **(Mr. W'ard')** announced in the House, and it... was reported in the . press of the 'United Kingdom,, that he proposed . to visit . New Guinea -for the . purpose of ascertaining the. prospects of. producing oil there in. great . quantities. 'I should like to know whether the llinistor is 'likely to fin'ake that visit, and, if so, . how soon? 'Apropos the shale oil distilleries, 'I consider that 'the information which .. the honor a'ble member "fox Darwin ' (Darno Enid Lyons) and other honorable members have given' to theco'mmittee regarding the Latrobe and 'Glen Davis . projects Is valuable. 'I',am,well aware 'of the progress'.th at/has been-in&de. The 'late "husband of -the' -honor able member for 'Darwin when he "was Prime Minister made 'provision for an emergency petrol "supply by ensuring production at Glen Davis. Certainly, the production 'was uneconomic, but it was intended to' meet -a war-t-ime emergency and. a1? such, did serve its purpose in *v* small measure. The Latrobe project was in rhe'snme category. Petrol or othes power fuel is produced from . molasses u: Queensland, where there is a distiller? The Government should make a; statemenl to the Parliament without delay regarding its proposals for the future use ol these «e m cr-gency undefi'tarkings. They '-can be kept ''operating as ipilot plants, hut, in the 'Main, we . shall rely on supplies . of iHjtorted : prifrrol >nnless the 'wizardry, . of i lie 'Minister -for . -Exter-nal Territories can produce nOw>oil in New . Guinea. Ihone that it will. In any -event, I should lik.-. the M'inister to investigate all these auxiliary supplies, including wheat 'distilleries and shale distilleries, and 'announce lihe^Go-v-prnTriont's policy 'relating to them. Mr.ADERMAN(Maranoa)[9.33]. - Perhaps ydu, **Mr. Chairman,** will guide me In ascertaining the 'appropriate 'p'lacn for lr.e'to refer 'to operations designed *U>* secure oil in 'the Roma district of 'Queensland. 'Item 11 (a) provides that petroleum or shale products, namely, petrol, ben'zine, benzoline, gasoline, naphtha, pentane and any other petroleum or shale spirit, havin'g a flash point of lin'der *"T&* degrees 'Fahreriheit when telte'd in 'an Abel Pensky 'closed test apparatus, 'as 'prescribed . by d'epartmental by-law's, shall be 'fr'ef 'of outy. 'These pVdd'u'ets, 'not elsewhere included - in 'the schedule, shall be' subject to.'aduty of Sid. a. gallon. 'Th'o'se'that are produced ''from shale min'ed in 'Australia shall'be subject to a duty of od. a gallon. I should like to'ldlow in '-what- category will 'he' included the products *<Si* enterprises of porsans who 'have -invested their savings in trying 'to 'assist '.the country -by' endeavouring to"locate'-gas . petroleum. . 'The' Government should encourage them hy exempting any -such products -from duty, but more than that, it'shou'lid provide some -financial -assistance. iWhen'.'WP consider the history 'of iRonfa --'and *~.1k»* surroim'diaig district, "we: mitist'iadmit- that it is the most promising"© il -field "in 'Australia. That view i'is held 'toy practical men who- have investigated it. 'Many':of the-' local residents have' invested 'all their available- money in 'the.,projec.t,**w>hieh,- to date, has been unsuccessful commerciaWy. In the cireumstanceu, we cannot . expect, any' further assistance f rom' that (quarter. Now, I understand ' that some action is being taken on a -larger' scale hy the: Sho'll Company, hut- 1 consider that this is a venture which should be financed to a dc-gree by the Government. As I-am= seeking information about this matter, I -ask the Minister for Commerce and Agricul lure (M-r. Pollard) to explain what has beendone to assist those who are trying to develop thisfield for the purposeof providingthecountrywithurgently- needed gas petroleum. {: #debate-23-s8 .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT:
New England .- Idesire to makesome observationsabout theproduction ofpetrolfrom shale in Australia, andparticularly about the petrol produced by National Oil Proprietary Limited.Item 11 (a) statesthat petroleum or shale productsproducedby this undertaking shall be subject to the following rates of duty : - (a)Foreach gallonnotexceeding10,000,000 gallons in each year commencing on thefirstday ofJanuary,3d. {: type="a" start="b"} 0. For each gallon exceeding 10,000,000 in eachyearcommencingon the first day ofJanuary,8½d. The Auditor-General'sreport on National Oil Prroprietary Limited's workings at GlenDavis isoneof the most disturbing documentsthathonorable members have seen for a long time. Year byyear, the expenditure of the Commonwealthin this undertaking has beenincreasing. Advancesmadeby the Commonwealth during the twelve months endedthe 31st December, 1946, amounted to£385,918, bringing the total Commonwealthloans at that date to £3,291,735. Only the original advance of£334,000 has been covered by a deed of covenant and charge. When this undertaking first began to operate, Australia was engaged in World War II., and it was considered that the physicalmeans of conveying petrol to this country might be completely cut off by enemy action. Thatdanger does not exist to-day, and the question which honorable members should now ask themselves is whether it is worthwhile that the Australian public, whoaresorely harassed by taxes,should be burdened with thisgreat incubus of the Glen Davis project under NationalOil Proprietary Limited. Financially, the Australian Government, and the Government of New South Wales, are heavily involved. Whenwe examine the AuiditorGeneral's report relating to production, we find that none of the estimates of production, either at thebeginning or during the period of the existence of this undertaking, has been realized. In particular, I direct attention to replies which the Minister for SupplyandShipping (Sena tor Ashley) gave to questions asked by ex-Senator Brand about this matter.On one occasion in 1945, ex-Senator Brand asked when itwas considered that National Oil Proprietary Limited's undertaking would reach the target figure of 10,000,000 gallons per annum. In a most optimistic spirit, the Minister said that it was expected that the undertaking would reach the production of 10,000,000 gallons in March, 1946. From an examination of the Auditor-General's report,I find that the company produced 1,303,000 gallons in 1944, 2,224,000 gallons in 1945 and 4,079,000 gallons in 1946. Ishall be interested to hear the Ministerfor Commerce and Agriculture **(Mr. Pollard)** inform the committee what wasthe production by the undertaking in 1947, because NationalOilProprietary Limitedisnot meetingthe estimates of production that were madein respect of the Glen Davis project. According to the AuditorGeneral's report, theselling price of petrol, after excluding excise, was 1s. 3.42d.a gallonin1946,1s. 5d. a gallon in1945, and1s. 7¼d. in1944, and sales of petrol realized £199,720 in 1946, £127,623 in 1945 and , £80,854 in 1944: The losses on operations in those years were £301,000, £342,000 and £303,000 respectively.Itseems to be extraordinarily bad business that inthe production and sale of £199,000 worth of a product, a loss of £401,000 should be incurred. Isitany wonder that the people of this countryare unable to obtain anyrelief from high taxes? Is it right that this great undertaking should be permitted to continue to lose approximately £500,000 a year ? Provision has beenmade in theEstimates for the current financial yearfor assistance to the Glen Davisprojectamounting to £239,000. That figure seems very low indeed when one considers that the loss on the undertaking has grown steadily from£263,000 in1942, to £401,000 in 1946. I should be interested to hear from theMinister whatloss has been incurred in the current financial year. Inreply to a question earlier to-day, the honorablemember for Wimmera **(Mr. Turnbull)was** informed that it was not possible to manufacture largerquantities of wire netting, steel fencing posts, and other articles urgently required by the man. on the land if he is to produce the commodities that are necessary to alleviate the food shortage in Great Britain. The reason given by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture for the inability to increase production of these requirements was the shortage of manpower; yet the Government is prepared to continue to foster a project which has proved wasteful, not only of man-power, but also of revenue contributed by Australian taxpayers. A loss of approximately £500,000 a year is not insignificant. One can only assume that with losses increasing not in arithmetical progression, but in a manner reminiscent of steep taxation curves, this little bouncing baby will probably be losing £750,000 or more a year in the not distant future, because, as the infant's age increases, it becomes more and more voracious in its demand upon the taxpayers of this country. Therefore, the Government might well consider whether the continuance of the Glen Davis project is justified, or whether it should be scrapped entirely,particularly in view of its inability to produce even half the estimated quantities of petrol. The continued losses are adding enormously to the capital indebtedness of the undertaking, and the Government cannot hope to recover its investment. Abandonment of the project would release man-power for the production of essential requirements such as steel for housing. The undertaking was established purely for war purposes. It was a safeguard against the risk of Australia being cut off from its overseas oil supplies; but apparently once this socialist Government, which believes that no socialist administration ever makes mistakes in planning, starts the flywheel going, it cannot be stopped. It continues at increasing speed, year after year, creating so many vested interests in Government departments that opposition to it is swept aside. . At Glen Davis to-day, petrol is being produced at enormous cost and can only be sold for much less than its real value. Again I say that the project should be. thoroughly investigated with a view to diverting the man-power now engaged in it to more essential occupations than the production of minute quantities of petrol. Labour is required urgently for the production of commodities, export of which will assist materially the dollar battle that is now taking place, and of food for the people of Great Britain. In addition there is a shortage of certain commodities such as textiles in this country. Throughout the Commonwealth hundreds of homes await roofs and fittings, while Australian citizens are denied their rightful inheritance. Items agreed to. Preliminary paragraph - {: #debate-23-s9 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- I move - >That the preliminary paragraph be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph : - "That the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921-1939 be amended as hereinafter set out, and that on. and after the fifteenth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and forty-six, or such later date as may be specified in the Schedule to this resolution, 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." The amendment is entirely formal and provides for the operation of certain of the duties in the schedule at a specified later date. Item 11 provides for certain duties to operate on and after the 21st August, 1955. Amendment agreed to. Preliminary paragraph, as amended, and schedule agreed to. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted. {:#subdebate-23-0} #### Ordered - >That **Mr. Pollard** and **Mr. Lemmon** do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. {: .page-start } page 114 {:#debate-24} ### EXCISE TARIFF BILL 1948 Bill presented by **Mr. Pollard,** and passed through all stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 114 {:#debate-25} ### TARIFF PROPOSALS 1947 {:#subdebate-25-0} #### Excise Tariff Amendment (No. 2) {:#subdebate-25-1} #### In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from the 4th June, 1947(vide page 3374, Vol. 192), on motion by **Mr. Pollard** - >That the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921- 1939,a s proposed to be amended by the Excise Tariff Proposals introduced into the House or Representatives on the fourteenth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and forty-six, be further amended ashereinafter set out . . .(vide page 3373). {: #subdebate-25-1-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP . -This tariff proposal implemented the Government's decision to reduce the rate of excise duty on spirit used in the fortification of wine consequent upon the cessation of payment of wine export bounty. Under the provisions of the Wine Export Bounty Act 1939-1944, an amount of 2s. 6d. a gallon from the excise duty imposed on spirit for the fortification of wine had been transferred to a trust account from which bounty had been paid. With the cessation of the payment of bounty by the expiration of the Wine Export Bounty Act 1939-1944 it was unnecessary to transfer this amount from excise collections and it was therefore decided to reduce the rate of duty on fortifying spirit by 2s. 6d. a gallon. A further amendment to the item was the elimination of the provision for special rates of duty on spirit used in fortifying grape must prior to the 13th March, 1930. The quantity of such spirit yet to be cleared from bond is negligible and the continuance of special provision was not considered necessary. The simplification of the item results in a flat rate of 4s. a gallon being applied to spirit for the fortification of wine. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted. {:#subdebate-25-2} #### Ordered - >That **Mr. Pollard** and **Mr. Lemmon** do prepare and bring ina bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. {: .page-start } page 115 {:#debate-26} ### EXCISE TARIFF BILL (No. 2) 1948 Bill presented by **Mr. Pollard,** and passed through all stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 115 {:#debate-27} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-27-0} #### TARIFF PROPOSALS 1947 Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 2) *In Committee of Ways and Means:* Consideration resumed from the 14th November, 1947(vide page 2143, Vol. 184), on motion by **Mr. Pollard** - >That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1939 be amended . . .(vide page 2086). {: #subdebate-27-0-s0 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP .- This proposal is the first of a group of four tariff proposals which were tabled in Parliament on the 14th November, 1947, viz. : - Customs Tariff Amendment No. 2, Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment No. 1, Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Amendment No. 1, and Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Amendment No. 1. The Government made certain decisions in respect of the basis of value for duty of imported goods which were jointly implemented by the four tariff proposals tabled on the 14th November, 1947, and I propose now to refer in detail to these decisions and allow it to serve mainly as an explanation of the associated tariff proposals, which will be dealt with later by the committee. Towards the end of last year, Parliament approved of a bill to amend the Customs Act to provide for the calculation of value for duty of imported goods in Australian currency and to abolish the addition of the statutory 10 per cent. to the f.o.b. value of imported goods. Prior to this amendment, the Customs Act provided that all duties should be paid in British currency and that the value of goods shown on. invoices should be converted to British currency. While Australian currency was on par with that of the United Kingdom the position was satisfactory, but when Australian currency was depreciated in 1930 the paradoxical procedure arose of calculating the value for duty of goods in United Kingdom currency, applying a rate of duty of, say, 10 per cent., and accepting the resultant figures as duty in Australian currency. A further practice which was in opera tion was the loading of the f.o.b. price of imported goods with a statutory charge of 10 per cent. before arriving at the value for duty.Theprovisionappeared in the original Customs Actof 1901, but lost its significance in later years. *The* ii...-. of the amendment to the Customs Act whichwas passed the endof last year was to inincreasethefigure atwhich thevalue *for* duty wasexpressed. For example,a previous value for duty of £110sterlingisnewexpressedas£125 Australian.Thiswouldhaveresultedin increased duties being ; collected if the tariffhad valorem rates had remained unchanged. As theamendment to the Customs Act was purely for administrative purposes, it wasnecessary to reduce ad valorem ratesby 12 per- cent,to ensure that approximately thesame amount of duty collectedas previously.If the exact 12 per cent, reduction had been appliedin all instances, however, many fractional rates would have resulted and it wasdecided to eliminate theseby adjusting all reduced rates to the nearest 21/2per cent. The maximum variation from the formulais11/4per cent, increase ordecrease,and in most cases itis considerably smaller. It wasalso decided, consequent upon the expression of value for , duty in Australian currency, that itwould be preferable to eliminate the provision for exchange adjustment and show in" the tariff theactualrateswhichareoperating under existing exchangeconditions.For example, a British preferential tariffrate which appeared in the tariffat35 , per cent., but which was subject to exchange adjustmentof25 per cent. - onequarter -resulted inanetrate of '26 per cent, beingpaid.Applyingthefurther12 per cent. reductionas previously described, theratenow appears as221/2 percent. Allrates of duty which werepreviously subjecttoexchange adjustmenthavebeen shown inthese proposalsattheirnet level,and in consequence it wasnecessary tointroduceproposalsto eliminate the provisions for exchangeadjustment. Thiswas effected byCustomsTariff (Exchange Adjustment) ProposalsNo. 1, whichwillbebefore the committeeof shortly.Exchangecorrectives wherever theyappeared inthetariffhave also been removed. In the case ofexchangecorrectives however, no change of theratesof duty, other thanthe 12per centalteration for value for duty, purposes,.- has* been necessary as the net 'operativ&'rarte is shown in the tariff. Exchange correctiveswere basedon pre-war conditions and inthe event of a change, inthe exchange positionofAustralia or other countriesappropriate actioncanbe taken in the light ofcurrent conditions. With regard to CustomsTariff ProposalsNo.2 it will be noted that it includes two schedules. 'The reason for this is that theamount of printing had to be reduced. In the majority of cases, only the rates ofduty were required to be altered" in accordancewith the formula, andthefirst schedule merely specified theitemnumber and the new ratesof duty. In thecircumstancesitwas not considered necessary inthememorandum ofalterations to-setout every item in the firstschedulewith the proposedand previous rates ofduty. There are a few exceptions to thegeneralprinciplewhich thereductions havefollowedand these are shownwiththereasons thereforin the memorandum of alterations. The secondschedule relates to itemsin which ithas been necessary tomake some alteration intheir wordingandto items which were in theproposalstage prior tothe14th November, 1947.These have beendividedforexplanatorypurposes into groups Aand B.Group -Arelates to items wherevalues previouslyappearing thereinwere expressed in UnitedKing- domcurrencyand haveto bealtered to Australiancurrency.Certainitems have been included in groupB of the second schedule becausethey were inthe proposal stage prior to the amendment ofthe1 4th November,1947. For this reason all changesinthe ratessince the itemwerelastenactedhavebeen shown in full. In addition to the memorandum of alterations, therehavebeen distributed to, honorable membersnotes onamendments I intend to more duringthedebate on the first and second schedules. These amendments are purely for adminstrative purposesand nochangesinratesofduty are involved. First Schedule Question stated - >That items to 121 *(a)* (2) be agreed to. {: #subdebate-27-0-s1 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- There may be items included in the question which the committee wishes to discuss in detail, and if all the items referred to are takenenbloc honorable members willbe denied an opportunity of speaking to them. For that reason I suggest that the itemsbe taken in their proper order. Items 2 to 121 (a) (2) agreed to. Item 129 (a) (Textile articles). {: #subdebate-27-0-s2 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Ministerfor Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- As stated in the explanatory memorandum circulated to honorable members, it is proposed to transfer this item from the first schedule to thesecond schedule.I shall therefore ask the committee to negative the item, and, I shall move for its incorporation in the second schedule at the proper time. That course will be f ollowed by ten items in the first schedule. {: #subdebate-27-0-s3 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP; LP from 1944 -- All that we have before us at the moment is the numbers contained in the schedule. Thatmaybe all right, but it wouldbe muchmorehelpful to the committee if we knewtowhat item a number related.I have donenothingto impede theMinister in regard to the items mentioned in the schedules because, as I have already pointed out, a lot of them arepurely revenue-producing and protective items which have already been validated and inrespect of which no representations have been made by any industry. Therefore, many of them can be regarded as purely machinery provisions. Nevertheless, if the Minister when he referred to item 122 (a), for example, had indicated the nature of that item it would have facilitated thecommittee's discussion. I should havepreferred thatall the items includedinthis schedule be setout in detail, but I realize the printing difficulties involved. Had the itemsbeen set out indetailhonor able members who were interested in particular items could have spoken in thecommittee if they had desired to doso,but wedo not know to whatgoodsthe different numbers relate. At the moment I shouldlike the Minister to state exactly what item 122 (a) refers to. {: #subdebate-27-0-s4 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · Ballarat · ALP -- The honorable member's request is a most reasonable one. Details of the items covered in the schedule could not be given because of the great amount of printed matter that would have been required. Items 122 (a) and (b) deal with textiles, including materials cut into shape therefor, and felt articles, including materials cut into shape therefor. The explanation of the amendment is that under the 1933-39 tariff any article in which textiles or felt was used in any degree whatever was liable to duty. The amendment will remove this anomaly, and only articles where the chief component is felt will bedutiable. The reduction of duties is in. conformity with the general principle of adjustment following thechange in the basis of assessing value for duty. Item negatived. Item 122(b)(Felt articles). {: #subdebate-27-0-s5 .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr WHITE:
Balaclava .The shortage of sewing threadscan be raised on this item. It is a question on which many honorable members have receivedletters, and it has beenraised before by the honorable Memberfor Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons). There is agreat scarcity of sewing threads, and I ask the Minister to assure the committee that he will cause inquiries to be made to ascertain why that is so. Ihave written to him from time to time about it, but his answers havenotbeen satisfactory. Some thread is manufactured in Australia,but the main supplyis imported. Housewives complain that threads cannot he purchased. Mr.POLLARD (Ballarat- Minister for Commerce and Agriculture,) [10.11]. - I know there is a shortage of threads and particularly of white sewing thread. Every possible effort is being made to overcome the shortage. Wearedependentfor oursupplies uponIndia, Japan, the United Kingdom andother places. The Government is doing its best to alleviate the shortage, but it cannot direct other countries to supply thread. {: .speaker-KZR} ##### Mr White: -Is an import licence still needed? {: .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD: -- I cannot say atthe moment. Item negatived. Items 122 (c) to 136 (f) (1) agreed to. Item 136(f) (2) negatived. Items 136 (g) to 146 (a) agreed to. Item 147 negatived. Items 148 (a) to 174 (m) (92) agreed to. Item 174 (m) (93) negatived. Items 174 (m) (94) to 174 (m) (149) agreed to. Item 174 (m) (150) negatived. Items 174 (m) (151) to 176 (n) (2) agreed to. Item 176 (o) negatived. Items 176 (q) to 181 (a) (1) (b) agreed to. Item 181 (a) (2) negatived. Items 181 (aa) (1) to 208 (e) agreed to. Item 208 (f) negatived. Items 208 (g) to 393 (a) agreed to. Item 393 (b) negatived. Items 393 (c) (1) to 418 (b) agreed to. Item 418 (c) (1) negatived. Items 418 (c) (2) to 443 agreed to. Second Schedule Items 44 (g), 69 (c) (1), 91 (b) (1), 105 (d) (2), 105 (o) (1), 110 (d) and 120 (b) (1) agreed to. Item 122 (a) (b) (Textile and felt articles). Amendments (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >By omitting the whole of sub-item (a) (twice occurring) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - " (a) Textile articles n.e.i., including mate rials cut into shape therefor, ad val., British, 20 per cent.; intermediate. 37½ per cent.; general, 424 per cent." > >By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) (twice occurring) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item : - " (b) Felt articles n.e.i., including materials cut into shape therefor, ad val., British, 27½ per cent.; intermediate, 52½ per cent.; general, 52½ per cent." Item 122 (d) agreed to. Item, as amended, agreedto. Items 130 (b) (1) (b) and 136 (d) agreed to. Item 136 (f) (Hoop iron). Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >By omitting the whole of paragraph (2) (twice occurring) of sub-item (f) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - " (2) Hoop n.e.i., ad val., British, free; intermediate, 124 per cent.; general, 12½ per cent. and in respect of paragraph (2) - a deferred duty as follows: - on and after 1st April, 1948. > >Hoop n.e.i., ad val., British, 10 per cent.; intermediate, 10 per cent.; general, 20 per cent.; and per ton, intermediate, 70s.; general. 70s." Item, as amended, agreed to. Item 147 (Tinplate) Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >By omitting the whole item (twice occurring) and inserting in its stead the following item: - " 147. Iron and steel, viz.: - > >Plates and sheets, plain tinned, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 12½ per cent.; general, 12½ per cent. and a deferred duty as follows: - on and after 1st January. 1949. 147. Iron and steel, viz.: - > >Plates and sheets, plain tinned, per ton, British, 57s.; intermediate, 115s.; general, 115s." Item, as amended, agreed to. Item 174 (Drilling and sawing machines). Amendments (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >By omitting the whole of paragraph (93) of sub-item (m) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - " (93) Drilling machines, vertical, equipped with feeds operated by mechanical as distinct from hand power, exceeding nine-sixteenths inch drilling capacity in mild steel or with maximum speed in excess of 5.000 r.p.m., ad val., British, free; intermediate, 124 per cent.; general, 124 per cent." > >By omitting the whole of paragraph (150) of sub-item (m) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - " (150) Sawing machines, hot; sawing machines, friction, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 12½ per cent.; general, 124 per cent." Item as amended, agreed to. Items 176 (e) (2), 176 (e) (3), 176 (m) (1) (2) and (3) agreed to. Item 176 (o) (Lifting jacks). Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to - >By omitting the whole of sub-item (o) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - "(o) Lifting jacks, each, British,5s.6d.; intermediate,6s. 6d. ; general, 7s.6d.: or ad val., British, 22½ per. cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 57½ per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty." Item 176 (p) (Lathes). By omitting the whole of sub-item (p) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - " (p) Lathes, precision, under 5½ inch centres for die and tool work, when the degree of error in parallelism of the spindle and the bed does not exceed . 0005 inch on a length of bar equalling double the height of the centres, and the surfacing slide produces a surface with a degree of error not exceeding . 0008 inch per 12 inches - {: type="1" start="2"} 0. The value for duty of which exceeds £28 10s. each - for each £1 by which the value for duty exceeds £28 10s., the rate of duty shall be the rate under paragraph (1) reduced by 2.4 (British preferential tariff), 3.2 (intermediate tariff) and 3.2 (general tariff), with minimum of, ad val. British, free; intermediate, 12½ per cent.: general, 12½ per cent." Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- {: type="a" start="a"} 0. By omitting after "each - " the words " for each £1 by which the value for duty exceeds £28 10s.." and 1. By inserting after " (General tariff) " the words " for each £1 by which the value for duty exceeds £28 10s." Item, as amended, agreed to. Items 177. (b) (3) (d), 178 (d) (1) (b), 179 (d) (1) (a) (1) (b), 179 (d) (2) (a) (2), 179 (d) (2) (b) (2) and 181 (a) (1) (c) agreed to. Item 181 (a) (2) (Valves). Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >By omitting the whole ofparagraph (2) (twice occurring) of sub-item (a) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph: - " (2) Valves for wireless telegraphy and telephony including rectifying valves, each, British, 4s. 3d.; intermediate. 5s.6d.; general,6s. ; or ad val., British, 174 per cent.; intermediate, 35 per cent. ;general., 35 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty." Item, as amended, agreed to. Item 186 agreed to. Item 208 (f) (Slide fasteners). Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >By omitting the whole of sub-item (f) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - " (f) Slide fasteners of the progressive interlocking type, ad val., British, 171 per cent.; intermediate. 45 per cent. ; general, 50 per cent." Item 208 (k), agreed to. Item, as amended, agreed to. Items 219 (f), 227 (a), 241 (c), 254 (d), 2S9 (a), 291 (n), 306, 318 (a) (4) (a), 318 (b), 334 (o) (1) (a), 334 (q), 342, 346 (a) (1) (a), 376 (a), 380 (b) (1) and 390 (a) (3) agreed to. Item 393 (Silks and artificial silk twists). Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >By omitting the whole of sub-item (b) and inserting in its stead the following sub-item: - " (b) Sewing, knitting, crocheting and embroidery silks and artificial silks; sewing, knitting, crocheting and embroidery silk twists; sewing, knitting, crocheting and embroidery artificial silk twists, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 12½ per cent.; general, 12½ per cent." Item, as amended, agreed to. Item 409 agreed to. Item 418 (c) (1) (Barographs, barometers, &c.). Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >By omitting the whole of paragraph (1) of sub-item (c) and inserting in its stead the following paragraph : - "(1) Barographs; barometers and barometer movements ; calorimeters ; cathetometers; dividing engines for graduating bars, tubes and circles; kymographs and time markers; dial micrometers; hygrometers; microtomes ; spherometers ; thermostats : microscopical, mineralogical and blow pipe cabinets (fitted) ; mercury vacuum pumps; viscosimeters ; vacuum oven's for laboratories; drawing, mathematical and surveying instruments n.e.i., but not including tripods, ad val., British, free; intermediate. 17½ per cent.; general, 174 per cent." Item, as amended, agreed to. Item 427 agreed to. Preliminary paragraph 4 - >That on and after the fifteenth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and fortyseven, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, the Duties of Customs be calculated in pursuance of the Customs Tariff 1933-1939 as affected by these Proposals. Amendment (by **Mr. Pollard)** agreed to- >That the fourth paragraph of the preliminary matter be left out and the following inserted in lieu thereof : - "4. That on and after the fifteenth day of November, One thousand nine hundred and forty-seven, or such later date as is specified in the Second Schedule to these Proposals, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capital Territory, the Duties of Customs be calculated in. pursuance of the CustomsTariff 1933-1939 as affected by these Proposals. " 4a. That, without prejudice to the generality of the preceding paragraph of these Proposals, where, in respect of any goods coveredby an item or portion, ofan item in the Second Schedule to these Proposals, it is provided that rates of duty in respect of those goods shall be imposed on and after a date to be fixed by Proclamation, the Governor-General may, by Proclamation, fix a date on and after which the rates of duty in respect of those goods shall be imposed." Preliminary Paragraphs and schedules, as amended, agreed to. Resolution reported. Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted. Ordered - >That **Mr. Pollard** and **Mr. Lemmon** do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution. {: .page-start } page 120 {:#debate-28} ### CUSTOMS TARIFF BILL (No. 2) 1948 Bill presented by **Mr. Pollard,** and passed through all stages without amendment or debate. {: .page-start } page 120 {:#debate-29} ### PAPERS The following papers were pre sented : - >Audit Act. - Finance - Treasurer's Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for year 1946-47, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General. Ordered to be printed. Commonwealth Public Service Act - A ppoin tmen ts - Postmaster-General's Department -W. A. Austin, J. H. Barnes, M. F. Elliott. E. G. Francome, J. L. Hoare. Defence Act - Royal Military College - Report for l946. Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinance - 1947 - No. 16 - Ordinances Reprint and Revision. House adjourned at 10.34 p.m. {: .page-start } page 120 {:#debate-30} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated. -* {:#subdebate-30-0} #### Income Tax: Unissued Assessments {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr Fadden: n asked the Treasurer, *upon notice : -* >How many taxation assessments have not yet been issued in respect of income derived in each financial year commencing with the year 1943-44. {: #subdebate-30-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- According to advices received by the Commissioner of Taxation from Deputy Commissioners, the answer to the right honorable gentleman's question is as follows: - >Year ended 30.6.44 -6,000 assessments. > >Year ended 30.6.45 - 10,000 assessments. > >Year ended 30.6.46 -67,000 assessments. > >The assessments still to be issued for the years mentioned fall into two broad categories, namely - cases where returns have been lodged after the stipulated time, either voluntarily or as a result of default action by the department; and cases where the assessing process is partially completed but subsequent action is held up. for some reason, particularly cases involving correspondence to clear up doubtful items or. reference to other returns. > >The unissued assessments in respect of the year ended 30th June, 1946 represent 2 per cent. of. the total returns lodged. Immigration : All-party Committee of Inquiry. {: #subdebate-30-0-s2 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr Lang: g asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice : -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Will the Prime Minister consider the appointment of an all-party committee to give consideration to eases of hardship in connexion with immigration matters? 1. Will he have inquiries made into the circumstances surrounding the granting of entry permits to a Chinese,CharlieTim So or Louie Yock Quen, after such permit had been refused by the Minister for Immigration? 2. Was the permit subsequently issued by the Acting Minister during the Minister's absence abroad, on representations made by the member for Sonant? 3. Does the permit allow Charlie Tim So to bring his wife and five children? 4. Was the basis on which the application was granted, that Charlie Tim So would be conducting an export business? 5. Will the Prime Minister ascertain whether the said export business was not in fact a fantan school formerly conducted by his late father, an unnaturalized Chinese in Townsville ? 6. Is it a Ifact that the . Taxation Branch has outstanding claims amounting to . £2,500 for income tax.' a'gaia-rs-t the 'estate, arising . from profits made by the gambling school v 7. In view o'f the attitude adopted in the Tim So case, will he authorize the committee I have suggested to have a look into the cases of certain deportees . who entered as refugees in 'exceptional times but are to-day hardworking members of the community? 8. Will further deportations of such refugees be held up (pending the results >of such investigations ? {: #subdebate-30-0-s3 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Government considers it unnecessary to appoint an all-party committee- to inquire into these matters. 1. Inquiries have been made into the circumstances of the case. 3, ..4, -a, i(J. The permit was issued by the Acting Minister during the absence of the Minister. The circumstances are as follows: Stock iQuea . is the -son 'of the 'late iLouie Tim So,, a -domiciled Chinese Who conducted the firm nf Louie See Bros, of Townsv'iTle and had other business interests in Queensland. Tin iJan'uaTy 'of this year application was made on beli'alf -ot Louie Tim So's widow for permission *>r Yock Qtxen to enter Australia in connexion 'uiifh *fce grant of -probate -of 1/puie Tim 'So's will 4tn4 'distribution -of his estate n:nd 'a'lso to 'enable her -to secure 'the noWice and direction -of -her 'son in connexion with the husiness of 1-iouie 'See -Bros. As ffhe application was not 'one 'for approva'l 'under immigration policy 'it 'was not -approved : by flie "Minister. lin . August -last ifehe Consul-G-'cne.ral forChina applied far eeconsiOevattion tof Yock Quen's admission on the ground that his late father and the letter's two brothers (also deceased) hard in She "past cavr-ied . out 'substantial overseas 'tniade and la-nraingemenits 'were ibeing made for the resumption of this trade, for which Yock Quen's services were essential. -llepresentatioiis 'in regard 'to the matter were made also T)y **Mr. Edmonds,** . M.'P. The Departments (file -shows that the late Louie Tim >So . had -previously engaged in overseas tirade. It is the rule to . admit Asiatics who are in a. position to engage in overseas trade to the standard laid down in the immigration policy. In the light of the additional facts which Iliad . been placed before him . the Acting Minister, . in Abe absence -of Ithe Minister abroad, . granted approval for Yock Quen's admission- under -exemption for two years on She unideia'tanding that he . would engage -in such : ti;ade and that . any extension of that period . would depend on the amount of overseas trade done. In accordance with existing . policy permission was -given for Yock Quen'-s wife and children to ^accompany him : to ^Australia. So 'fitr as Yoflk Qnen -'and his family are iconrjer.ned . the -usual periodical . checks will -be made in regard 'to them and they will be required to leave if itiis found tha't Yock Quen Fail's -to observe -the conditions under which 'he was admitted and to engage in overseas trade to the required standard. {: type="1" start="7"} 0. The Commissioner of Taxation, . with whom I have discussed this question, has informed me that the secrecy provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act preclude him from divulging any information respecting the affairs -of a taxpayer.. In . these circumstances, I . am unable to ifurnish the desii'ed advice. 8, 9. -Presumably the honorable member had in "mind certain Malayan seamen who aa-.e a'bout to be repatriated. If so, the case of these -men is quite a separate matter which, lias no connexion whatever with Yock Quen's admission to Australia. {:#subdebate-30-1} #### Shippingfreightsubsidies - Post Delays {: #subdebate-30-1-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis:
MORETON, QUEENSLAND s asked, the Minister representijig the . Minister for Trade and Customs, *'upon notice -* 1.. Is it a fact that the subsidy being paid to shippers o'f intra-state goods in Queensland has been withdrawn whilst the subsidy is still belli" . paid , to shippers from other States on goods into Queensland? {: type="1" start="2"} 0. In view of . the position whereby goods can be shipped . f-com, , say Sydney to Hockhainpton cheaper than they can faiom Brisbane to Rockhaiii.pton, . wilJ he gave . consideration to the elimination . of this idiseivimi nation against Queensland shippers.? {: #subdebate-30-1-s1 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard:
ALP -- The Minister for 'Trade and Ciustoans has supplied the following information : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes - on a limited range o!f goods. 1. Tihere is mo discrimination against Queensland shippers ibut tiaere . is . a very slight net advantage to interstate . sliipper.s on . a very small . proportion . of the (goods shipped to Queensland ports. . As freight subsidies are being eliminated this advantage will soon disappear. ' {: #subdebate-30-1-s2 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister representing the Minriste'r for iSupply and ShApiping, *iwpon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. . Has he . seen *tho statement made recently by the chairman of the Clan Line of Steamers, at 'present visiting Australia, to the effect flliat, -affter 13eira (Portugese East Africa') and Buenos Aires (South America), Australian ports were the slowest in the world in 'the 'handling of shipping? 1. Is it a fact, as stated by this" highly experienced visitor, that half the time of voyages of . ships on : fche -Australian run is spent in port; waiting for labour and wharfs or in handling cargo; if so, will the Government cause an immediate . investigation to 'be made into . all -shipping facilities . 'in . Australian ; ports ? 2. Will 'the 'Government take some definite steps to itiisui:e Ithe more efficient . and more expeditious handling of all 'shipping in -Aus- >Ifci-arlimi . ports? {: #subdebate-30-1-s3 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr Dedman:
ALP -- The Minister for Supply and Shipping has supplied the following information: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable member, attributed to the chairman of the Clan Line of Steamers. 1. It is a fact that ships spend very considerableperiods in port. There is no necessity for the Government to commence an immediate investigation into all shipping facilities in Australian ports since the Government has had this matter under close investigation for some years and is still actively inquiring into it and taking such action as is within its power to improve conditions. The powers of the Commonwealth Government, however, have not. speaking generally, been such as enable it to deal, apart from war-time emergencies, with harbour equipment and installations, with the routing or programming of ships, nor with the transport of cargoes to and from wharfs. Nevertheless, the Government has interested itself in such matters and in respect to the port of Sydney, for example, in collaboration with State authorities, has initiated action within the last few days toexpedite clearance of cargoes from wharfs andwharf sheds where congestion has had a marked effect in delaying ships. Similar conditions exist at other main ports in the Commonwealth and it is the function of State authorities to deal with harbours and railways serving harbours, and of private enterprise to arrange transport for clearing cargoes from port installations and to arrange programmes for ships (except ships belonging to the Commonwealth Line). The Stevedoring Industry Commission, on which both shipping employers and waterside workers are represented, is in almost constant session regarding the manning of the ports with waterside labour and the industrial conditions of waterside labourers. Within the last three weeks, arrangements have been made for 750 additional waterside workers to the previously existing labour level at that port, and the position in respect to labour at all ports is under continuous and close review. From the refe rences made above to other factors which affect the total position in relation to turn-round of ships, it will be recognized by the honorable member that the difficulties he alludes to cannot be solved by merely adding to the labour strength at ports. 2. The Government will continue to take such steps as are within its power or can be achieved in collaboration with State authorities and as are from time to time recognized as necessary to improve the turn-around of ships in Australian ports. {:#subdebate-30-2} #### Trade Unions: Communist Members {: #subdebate-30-2-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister acting for the Attorney-General, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has he seen the statement made by **Mr. T.** Dougherty, federal secretary of the Australian Workers Union, at the recent federal convention of that union at Coolangatta, Queensland, to the effect that no provision existed under the Commonwealth arbitration law whereby unions could prevent Communists becoming or remaining members of a union? 1. Further, has he seen the reported views of **Mr. Dougherty** that he would be happy if a position could be created to ensure that worthwhile unions could prevent Communists from Attaining office? 2. Has considerationbeen given to the creation of such a law; if not, why not? {: #subdebate-30-2-s1 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. 1. Yes. 2. It is considered that union members should have a substantially free right of choice from amongst themselves of candidates for office. Industrial Unrest: Statements by **Mr. Fallon.** {: #subdebate-30-2-s2 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister acting for the Attorney-General, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. When **Mr. Fallon.** Queensland secretary of the Australian Workers Union, speaking at the annual convention of the union held at Coolangatta on the 29th January, said that those responsible for the hardships which the people of Australia are suffering to-day because of all kinds of shortages could definitely be regarded as guilty of treason to this country and treachery to the working people, was he expressing views which are synonymous with those of the Commonwealth Government? 1. If so, when does the Government propose to take action to eliminate such treachery and treason ? {: #subdebate-30-2-s3 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. and 2. I have no information as to what **Mr. Fallon** said at the recent conference of the Australian Workers Union. I will, however, ask **Mr. Fallon** whether he made the statement referred to by the honorable member and will then be in a position to furnish a reply to his question. Local Government Services : Import Duties on Equipment {: #subdebate-30-2-s4 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard:
ALP d. - On the 2nd December last, the honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Sheehan)** asked whether it is a fact that import duties are imposed on equipment required by municipal councils in New South Wales for their cleansing services, and whether, in view of the factthat the councils are not operating at aprofit and are merely rendering a public service, would the Minister give consideration to the discontinuance of import charges on such equipment. The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : - >Equipment of this kind imported by or for municipal councils is subject to the similar tariff treatment as that imported by other bodies or persons as the customs tariff does not make any distinction in this respect. > >Where imported equipment is of a class or kind not commercially produced in Australia, consideration is given, upon application to the Department of Trade and Customs, to the question of admission of the equipment, under a customs by-law at a concessional rate of duty or free of duty whichever is found appropriate. > >If the honorable member knows of any instances where customs duty has been levied on plant or equipment imported by a municipal council which is of a class or kind not commercially produced in Australia the Minister will have the case investigated. Governor-General : Staff. {: #subdebate-30-2-s5 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP y. - On the 3rd December last, the honorable member forReid **(Mr. Lang)** asked the following questions : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that the Official Secretary to the Governor-General has been called upon to take over the extra duties of Comptroller? 1. Has his salary been increased to recompense him for the additional work? 2. If so, what is his new salary? 3. Is the Government kept fully informed regarding changes made from time to time in the Governor-General's establishment? 4. What is the appropriate tribunal for the fixation of wages in the establishment? 5. Are all members of the establishment whose salaries are provided by vote from the Consolidated Revenue Fund members of the registered trade unions covering their callings? I now inform the honorable member as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Yes. The Official Secretary assumed the extra duties on the 13th December, 1947. 1. Yes. 2. New salary range £888-£l,012 (actual £1,289). 3. Yes. 4. Wages for the members of the domestic staff were fixed by the Department of the Interior, the Treasury and the Commonwealth Public Service Board acting in consultation. Salaries for clerical staff were fixed by the Public Service Board. 5. The departmental records do not contain the information sought by the honorable member. {:#subdebate-30-3} #### Commonwealth Superannuation Act {: #subdebate-30-3-s0 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley:
ALP y. - Onthe 4th December last, the honorable member for Swan **(Mr. Hamilton)** asked the following questions, *upon notice: -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that, by recent amendments to the Superannuation Act, retired Commonwealth officers received 25 per centum on the amounts payable to them, to off-set the increased and rising cost of living? 1. Have all Commonwealth retired officers been affected by the increased costof living? 2. Why were 175 officers in Western Australia debarred from the relief granted to all other retired officers? 3. Will he take action to eliminate this discrimination so that all Commonwealth retired officers will enjoy equal relief from the effects of the high cost of living? 4. Has he yet considered the claims of the Commonwealth Retired Officers Association (Western Australian Branch) for consideration in relation to cost-of-living conditions? 5. If so, what was his decision? The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. By an amendment of the Commonwealth Superannuation Act in June last, pensions payable under that act, except those payable under section 57 of the act, were increased by 25 per cent. 1. Yes. 2. The retired officers referred to were en titled to free pensions under State law and on transfer to the Commonwealth Public Service, the pension rights were preserved by section 84 of the Constitution. These free pensions are greater than the increased pensions payable under the Commonwealth Superannuation Act. 3. 5 and6. The matter was referred to a Treasury committee during the parliamentary recess and a report by that committee is now receiving consideration by the Government. Cancer : CommonwealthResearch Fund - Bra und Treatmen t. {: #subdebate-30-3-s1 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is there a Commonwealth cancer research fund? If so, what amount is allocated to this fund each year? 1. In view of the urgent importance of minimizing the danger of cancer, will he explain why the Health Department has made no apparent attempt to investigate the claims of **Mr. Braund,** of Sydney, in the matter with a view to assessing the merits or demerits of such claims ? 2. Is the Government reluctant to investigate **Mr. Braund's** claims by reason of the opposition of certain eminent surgeons? 3. Will he give an assurance that the department will leave no stone unturned in order that sufferers of this dread disease may find relief? {: #subdebate-30-3-s2 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway:
ALP y. - The Minister for Health has supplied the following information : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. There is no Common wealth cancer research fund, but assistance is given by the Commonwealth X-ray and Stadium Laboratory in the issue of radium and radon or radium emanations to hospitals and medical practitioners in connexion with cancer research and treatment. In 1928, the Commonwealth expended £100,000 for the purchase of radium which has been reconditioned from time to time in the light of improved scientific knowledge. The amount expended in1946-47 by the X-ray and radium laboratory was £5,827 and the estimated amount in 1947-48 is £8280. 1. It is considered undes irable for the Health Department as yet to duplicate the investigation by a committee set up by the Government of Sew South Wales. 2. No. 3. The honorable member may be assured that the Health Department will give every assistance as the opportunity presents itself, in the attack on cancer-. re-establishment : reconstruction {:#subdebate-30-4} #### Training Scheme ; Tradesman Trainees {: #subdebate-30-4-s0 .speaker-KGC} ##### Mr Hamilton:
SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA n; asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, *upon notice--* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it. fact that under the Post-war Reconstruction, Training Scheme a trainee is allowed twelve months' full time training in which to pass the qualifying examination for entry intoa university ? *2:If* a traineefails in the examination, is further training provided ? 1. Must the number of subjectsbe at least three, of which history is not one, to qualify , for auniversitycourse in agricultural science? 2. What subjects must a trainee study for this qualifying examination? 3. Is twelve months considered a sufficiently long period ? 4. Is there any provision for a. trainee, who cannot attend the full-time training course for qualification at a technical college through being obliged to assist his father in conducting a farm, to engage in the studies:, if so, how many subjects musthe take, what are they, and what period for qualification is allowed in such cases ? 5. How many students sat for the qualifying examination last year in Western Australia, and how many passed the examination ? 6. Of those who failed lastyear, how many are continuing their studies at their own expense? 7. Are. the marked papers of those sitting for the examination, available for, inspection? {: #subdebate-30-4-s1 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr Dedman:
ALP -- -The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Subject to eligibility and suitability, applicants may be given twelve mouths' fulltime training to enable them: to satisfy the entrance qualifications for a course of professional training. 1. Except where a failure in qualifying training is due to medical or other special reasons, a member, who fails to qualify after twelve months' full-time training may not be granted farther full-time qualifying benefits, In certain cases, however, approval may be granted for the suspension of benefits for not more than one year to enable a trainee1 to qualify at hisown expense, or full-time benefits in, some less difficult course for which he is already qualified,maybe granted. 2. It is assumed that the question relates to the Agricultural Science course at the University of Western Austral ia. A trainee undergoing qualifying training for admission to that course is required to study five subjects. History is a permissible but not an essential subect. 3. Of the five subjects required,tobestudied, English is compulsory and the other four subjects may be chosen from Mathematics A, Mathematics IS, Applied Mathematics, History, Geography, History and Economics. 4. Yes. 5. A trainee who isunable to attend, a training institution for the purpose of receiving full-time qualifying training with a view to taking Agricultural Science at the University ofWestern Australia may apply to undertake his qualifying, training by correspondence.In such cases the same subjects must be studied but the course isextended to two years instead of one. 6. During. 1946, 81 trainees sat for the qualifying examination in Western. Australia, in- cluding eight who were studying with aview toqualifying for training in Agricultural Science, 75 trainees, including the eight who proposed taking Agricultural Science, passed this examination. 7. Of the six trainees who failed' to qualify, three are continuing to studyat their own expense. 9). No. Mr.Hamilton asked the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. . Is it a fact that in May, 1946, the Department ofPostwar Reconstruction estimated that 32,850 tradesmen were required to carry out the overallCommonwealth building pro gram me? 1. Is it a fact that, of that total, only 7,289 trainees were placed in industry in the Commonwealth at the 7th July, 1947? 2. Were only6,486 intraining at that date, leaving19,075 to be trained? *4:>* BXWr *vM»ff* off suBht trainees-.- had-i been . placed in industry attfce- ?th.-AuguBt/' 7th'Sepf. tember, 7th October, and 7tli November, respectively ? ' 5:-.WiM>'.he;expla*n'.thb' reason ; f or" this, ilap: in ' training men'-foT suflh important work ? Mr.Dedman.- Tn'e ' answers' to- the honbfabie:' member's" question's' are' as" follows':- ' 1." Yes. It was estimated, that an additional *itsSiS* trau^smeii 'won'ld-ultimately be- required ' frottP'' all s6tt*eesi' ittutiai«g.r apprenticeship;. intlrtigiatidn*' oiid-a frDm> the'- Commonwealth--. Hecdn^ni:tion><Training::Schame,.,to. achieve,the.. overall' "Commonwealth building . programme of.' Otrjtnft' booses' per" annum; plus' 20 1- per" cent.. etptiftioW1 in other- types » of -building. &'a%8i&. Tte,fi%ttres-'<rU«teftlb'y^'the A'onoiBbleuieinl!>e'r.,.a&4 relating; to- trainees' fplwed-iin. the ind&iti-y.-aHii these ii*. training;, did. not represent' the ppsitioh- existin'g' at *-fOi-* July,, 1947'. They- were' ffgiifes' presented1 tb' the BuildingiiinUstry Can-ferCJicei.- which mtet< on' thuUdatey sKfrnrings the1-' position as' at 31st'- Mayy. 1 94-7. Tift? total: number., who'liave commenced? building. t'rades»sihce the inception of 'the. scheme' ill' I7,»61! {: type="1" start="4"} 0. Figures' as- at' th'b"dat'e8"reque3tt!d'are'DOt' available; tffflS1 ttitr follfcwitrg ffgWeS'-'show the; litohthly, jfrtigreNS totals* of trainees-, placed' inthe building: industry,:-^ 3-7th-Junej.-1947- 8;316.- 25th July,- 1947- 9,010.- 29 th AWguStj 1947- 10j02§. 28 th- September,, 1^47-10,480: 31st Ootobclv.1047- ll',89k, 5*. It- w-tW never intended- that- all trainees would be trained' at the one time. The training rMtfaftistf' B'e 'geaf ed " tB-t^e capaCity of industryta>aiHstn,b' (farWy trained' men' wtioee proficiency tW SHc' time . - of plafcehieiw is- oulj? 40-' per cent. If is apparent- that- the.- dumber- of. men in thebuilding industry] is sufficient to handle all: bniliiin'g activity' fof#Hi"ch there" are" materials..

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 February 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.