18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker ‘(Mr. J. 3. Clark) took the chair at ‘2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Arising, out of .the Government’s decision .to remove .the control ever the distribution of new .motor vehicles -as soon as circumstances permit, and following the action taken ‘recently to release from -control all motor vehicles of 12 horse-power and .under, is the’ Minister for Transport in a position to indicate when further relaxations pf control may “be expected, and whether the next step in de-control will remove the new Australian car “ Holden from the field of cars for which permits are required ?
– Whilst the position in regard to .the supply of motor vehicle? generally is .still acute, it is being ^constantly reviewed by the Government. J am pleased to be able to say that, as from the lft December next, all motor vehicles coming from soft. currency countries will be freed from control. That decision will naturally exclude from control the Australian car “ Holden*’ to which the honorable member -has referred. These relaxations do not indicate that an ample of supply of motor vehicles is coming ,to Australia. The latest returns show that there are approximately 76,000 unsatisfied applications for motor vehicles, of which 49,000 are. for motor cars and 27,000 for utilities.O. the unsatisfied applications, 70,000 are for motor vehicles manufactured in North America. These figures exclude 19,000 applications for motor vehicles of 12 horse-power and under from which control has now been lifted. Providing that the trade continues to co-operate with the Government in ensuring that essential users shall get first priority in releases the Government believes that it will be able progressively to lift the control as from the 1st December next.
Statement by Mr. Burns.
– The Prime Minister will recall that on several occasions I have referred to subversive statements made by Mr. Burns, a Communist executive member in Queensland, in which he indicated that if Russia came into conflict with the western powers, including Great Britain, the Communist party would aline itself with Russia. The Tight honorable gentleman has indicated that he received a report on this matter yesterday. Having perused the reports, ishe now in a position to say what action will be taken against this man, and will he now indicate whether or not he will review the attitude he has adopted in the past in refusing to appoint a royal commission to inquire into the activities of Communists in Australia!
– A report has been received and a decision has been made in relation to it. That decision will be announced in a few days. As to the latter portion of the honorable member’s question, as I have indicated before, no good purpose would be served by the appointment of such a royal commission. However, that matter will be given further consideration.
– Does not the Prime Minister consider that the reports that the Russian influence at the election of the President of the United Nations General
Assembly was used against Dr. Evatt. prove conclusively that the lying propaganda of the Opposition against that right honorable gentleman has been proved groundless? In view of the attack on Dr. Evatt by the Russian press will the Prime Minister ask the Acting Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Country party whether they will assure Dr. Evatt of their strongest support? Further as the election of Dr. Evatt is a high tribute to Australia, will the Prime Minister ask whether the Opposition proposes to offer him congratulations and good wishes ?
– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I take exception to the unparliamentary language in which the question is couched. I take particular exception to the reference to “ the lying propaganda of the Opposition “, which if entirely unparliamentary, and I ask that the remark be withdrawn.
– The procedure is that an honorable member referred to in unparliamentary language may ask that the remarks be withdrawn. [ do not think the honorable member for Griffith referred specifically to any honorable member. Therefore, there is no point of order.
– I have not studied the voting list, but I understand that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) received a substantial majority of the’ votes. His election to the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly confers a great distinction upon the right honorable gentleman himself and on Australia. I am only sorry that his work in the cause of peace is not so well appreciated by some people inAustralia as it is by the great nations of the world. With regard to the other matter referred to by the honorable member for Griffith, one naturally expects a great deal of jealousy from political opponents.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question which arises out of the appointment of the Minister for External Affairs as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Unless I misunderstand the position, the appointment of the right honorable gentleman to that officewill entail his absence from Australia for long periods. Will the Prime Minister consider offering the services of the Minister to act as mediator in Palestine in succession to the late Count Bernadotte, so that he may carry out the work which he conceived and initiated, and in the fulfilment of which the Swedish mediator was assassinated ?
– The services of the Minister for External Affairs are too valuable to Australia for him to be allowed to .devote his full time to the work that would devolve upon a mediator in Palestine. I am not assuming that other mediators will be appointed to endeavour to compose the differences between the Tews and the Arabs in that country, but I. am speaking in an individual sense. I expect that, arising from the report of the late Count Bernadotte, a commission ir similar body will be appointed to deal with the situation in Palestine. I do not propose to consider the suggestion which the honorable member for Barker has made.
– I have received nine telegrams from primary producers at Attunga, in the New England electorate, protesting against the quota imposed on power kerosene and distillate in the farming areas of New South Wales. The farmers who sent these telegrams say that they will not be able to sow their crops or do their ploughing and fallowing. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether the Government desires the farmers of Australia to grow more food for shipment to starving people in Great Britain and to ,:ase the dollar position, or to cut down their production? It will not give them kerosene and power distillate in the quantities that they require, ‘ as was done during the war, when the need for restrictions was greater than it is to-day. I desire the information so that I shall be able to tell tinfarmers whether to carry on as they are and grow more food or to restrict pro-
– The honorable member is not really asking the question in the interests of the farmers.
– That is untrue. I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
– Order ! The honorable member for New England must learn to control himself. The Minister has the call and must not be interrupted.
– The honorable member did not ask this question in the interests of the farmers. He asked it in the interests of certain oil companies. Because I happen to be a member of a Cabinet sub-committee that deals with supplies of petrol and kerosene, I know a good deal about the subject. It must be accepted - and, I think, is accepted by all honorable members of this House, irrespective of party - that it is essential, because of the dollar shortage, to conserve petrol and kerosene. When it was decided that kerosene imports had to bc pegged at the quantity imported last year, the Minister for Shipping and Fuel asked the oil companies to agree to a base period upon which to fix quotas for kerosene. The companies could not agree among themselves. The Minister then asked them to refrain, in the meantime, from initiating a sales campaign to increase the quantity of kerosene held by farmers on their farms. An agreement to this effect was reached, and some of the “companies honoured it, but others broke their promise, and embarked upon a high-pressure sales campaign in certain districts in order to ensure that, for a particular period of the year, their sales would be at a very high level, so that, when the quota was fixed, they would be able to claim that their average sales were greater than, in fact, they were. I have in my hand correspondence which show? that some of the firms did embark upon such a campaign. The following letter, dated the 1st September, 1944, was sent out by one of the oil companies which broke its promise, and refused to cooperate with the Government: -
To All Ampol Agents and Representatives. Dear Sir/s,
This is it - i 31. Day.
We confirm the telegram sent this day a.follows: “Go for your life, boots and all. There is to be no press publicity yet from your end “.
To those ofyou who attended the agents’ regional conferences, the purport of the. telegram is quite clear. To those who, unfortunately, could not attend theconferencesit isnotpossibletogive you in writing the full and complete story, but our representative willbecontactingyouwithinthenextfew daysandwillexplainclearlywhatisrequired.
Pleaseunderstandthatatthemomentyou only carry out phase No. 1 and we do not desire anypublicity-pressorotherwise-at yourenduntilyouarefurtheradvised.
Mr.DEDMAN.-The conferencesre- ferred to were called for the specific purpose of increasing sales: I have also aletterfromafarmerwhoresidesin the New England electorate.
Mr-. DEDMAN- The Tamworth district.
-What is the farmer’s name?
-Order ! The honorable member must cease intersecting.
-The honorablememberisnotgoingtocatchme easily as that.Hewouldliketovictimizethe writeroftheletter but heis not going to havetheopportunityto doso. The letter is as follows -
A.M.P.’sDubboagent,incompanywithan A.M.P.representativefromSydney,statedto Mr.J.K.Wheeler,afarmerofDubbo,that themajoroilcompanieshavebribedSenator Ashley to freeze A.M.P. out of business under the quotacontrolsystem.
What an allegation to make against a responsible Minister of the Crown ! The letter goeson -
A.M.P. are going to. defy the Government, and have already taken legal advice and are prepared togo to the High Court of Australia.
A.M.P. are telling all farmers to support them rather than leave themselves to the mercies of the. bigger companies, and are trying to book ahead three to six months’ supplies for subsequent delivery.
Two representativesfromA.M.P.addressed a meeting, of primary producers in theNarro- minearea,andpointed out to them that the Government was endeavouring to control supplies of powerand lighting kerosene and distillate,,butthey,theA.M.P.,werenot prepared toobeytheGovernment’sinstructions, and were quite prepared to makeny possible deliveries available, and’ that farmers could place their orders in a forward sense
The correspondence shows clearly that this is a ramp on the part of certain companies, which are trying to sell to the farmers kerosene in excess of their requirements. The honorable member for New England and all other honorable members may rest assured that, subject to the limitations which, because of thf dollar shortage, have to be placed on. supplies of kerosene and petrol entering Australia, the Government will’ take every step to ensure that the distribution to farmers shall be on an equitable basis. But the Government will not allow the honorable member forNew England or anybody else to be a” stooge” for oil companies that are endeavouring to break down the agreement into which they have entered.
Mr. Archie Cameron havingbeen called,
Mr.Abbott. -I desire tomake a. per sonal explanation.
-Order : The honorable member for Barkerhas received the. call, and may avail himself of it if he so desires.
-I rise to order.
-Order No point of order is involved.The Chair hascalled the honorable member for Barker.
Mr.Anthony. -Is not an honorable member entitledto take a point of order at any time?
-An hon orable member is entitled to take a point of order only when no. other honorable member has the call. The honorable member for Barker rose first, and received the call.
Mr. ArchieCameron having askeda question and received’ a reply,
-I desire to make a personal explanation.
-I rise to-order. Earlier, the honorable member forRichmond rose to order and you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. ruled that ia point (of order had .no precedence tat all. I ‘direct attention to Standing Order 284, -which reads -
AH Questions of Order and matters .df Privilege at any time arising shall, until decided, suspend the consideration -and -decision of every other Question. [ also direct ‘attention to Standing Order 286-
Upon u Question oil ‘.Order being .raised .fine Member called to order shall : resume his scat, and after the Question of Order has been stated co .the Speaker by the Member rising to tha Question of -Order, the Speaker shall give his ruling or decision thereof.
Therefore, I submit that the Chair should rule that when .an honorable member rises :o order, his question of order shall “have precedence of all other “business. Otherwise, the conduct of the House could not bc resolved, nor could it rest in ‘Mr. Speaker.
There is another matter to which I desire ito refer. Easier, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, when replying 50 a question by the honorable member for New England, read passages from certain documents. Standing Order ‘317 reads -
A document relating to public affairs quoted from by a Minister of the Crown, unless stated to be of a confidential nature ‘Or such as should more property be obtained -by Address, may , De called for and made a public document.
L call for the documents and ask that they be made public documents.
– In rising to order, the honorable member for Warringah has referred to two entirely different matters. The first related to my ruling on a point of order that had been raised by the honorable member for Richmond. In that instance., I ruled that no point of order was involved. Any matter arising merely -from the call from the Chair involves, in my opinion, a point of view and not a point of order. The Chair has the right to decide which honorable member shall receive She call.
The other matter raised by the honorable member for Warringah related to a call for a document. The .document in question should :have been ‘Called for at the time at which a .quotation was made from it.
– How ‘could it then have been called for?
– Order ! It could frame been called -f or ait that (time. That is the trailing of the Chair.
– I rise to seek enlightenment .as to “the procedure that honorable members of ‘this House “may f ollow. I rose to order to call .for the tabling of a -document. You., sir, denied me the opportunity “to do so. Having done that and having called the honorable member for Barker, you said that the time had passed “when I could call f or -the tabling of the document. At what stage of the proceedings is an honorable member entitled, -under the ‘Standing Orders, to take the point that I endeavoured to ta’ke and to ask that a Minister “who had quoted from a public document should ta’ble it, particularly “when the Minister concerned is the Muriate” :Tot Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), whose -habit it is to allege’ that he nas certain documents, when he -cannot prove that he has them?
– If the honorable member for Richmond rose for that purpose, he should have-
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! If certain honorable members do not behave themselves, I shall have ito deal with them. The honorable “member for Richmond rose to order. It was mot necessary .to >do that. Had he so desired, he could have called for the .document. The discussion then developed into one relating to whether the honorable member for Barker or the honorable member for New England should have the scali. J called the honorable member for Barker.
– I desire to make a personal explanation in reply to the comment off the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) upon my motives in referring to the great difficulty in which certain fanners in the Attunga district of Tamworth have been placed by reason of the operation of the quota system imposed by the Government in the distribution of power kerosene and distillate. T claim that the. Minister for Post-war Reconstruction misrepresented me when he said that my action had been taken in the interests of the oil companies amd not of the farmers, and that I was a “stooge” for those companies. The Minister is an ex-officer of the British army awd, as such, is supposed to be a gentleman. I propose to stow that I was not a “ stooge “ for the oil companies. The first of the telegrams of protest that I received in regard to this matter was from A. H. Gallagher, of Attunga. Has any honorable member heard of a “ Gallagher oil company “ in this country? The next telegram that [ received was from H. Scholes, of Attunga, and others were received from A. Easterman, L. Jeffrey, C. R. Brines and H. Doolan. Has any honorable member heard of a “Doolan oil company”? Further telegrams were received from H. O’Dell and F. . Gallagher. Those telegrams conclusively prove that I was misrepresented by the Minister. The honorable gentleman made his misrepresentation worse by quoting from a letter that he said was dated the 1st September, 1944. It is four years old. That makes it a stale document. I now ask, at this, the first opportunity I have had, that the whole of the. correspondence from which the Minister for Defence quoted be tabled in this House. I ask that that correspondence be recovered from the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), to whom the Minister banded it after he had finished his reply to my question. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel thereupon promptly disappeared. I move -
That the correspondence be placed on the table of the House so that honorable members may inspect it with a view to determining whether it is what the Minister claimed it to be.
– I second the motion.
Mr. Hadley having been called,
– I rise to a point of order. A motion has been made and seconded, but not put to the House.
– Order ! If the honorable member for New England does not behave himself in tha House, I shall immediately name him.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for New England -has submitted a motion, which has been seconded, but which you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have not put to the House. What is the procedure to be followed in the conduct of this House in connexion with such matters?
-Order! What is the nature of the motion submitted by the honorable member for New England ?
– I shall explain the nature of the motion.
-The honorable member rose to make a personal explanation and had no right to go beyond that.
– I submitted the motion at the first and only opportunity I had. I demand that it be put to the House, and that a division be taken on it.
-Order! The honorable member for Lilley has the call.
– Then I move -
That the ruling of the Deputy Speaker be disagreed with.
– I rise to a point of order. I take it that a motion having been submitted disagreeing with a ruling of the Chair, the business of the House cannot be proceeded with until that question has been resolved.
– No ruling has been given by the Chair, consequently there can be no motion of disagreement. The honorable member for New England rose to make a personal explanation, and was not entitled to engage in any debate in regard to the subject-matter of it or to speak upon any other matter. When he had completed his personal explanation he had concluded his call. I have now called the honorable member for Lilley.
Mr. Abbott having approached the Chair,
– I name the honorable member for New England.
– Why have I been named ?
-The honorable member told me that I could do what I damn well liked.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I approached Mr. Deputy Speaker and he threatened me. He said that he would put me out of the
House for misbehaviour. I had not misbehaved. I said to him, in personal conversation between ourselves, “You can do what you like”.
– Order ! The honorable member is not helping himself by again interrupting. If he does not behave himself I shall deal with him further after he has expiated his present offence.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) proposed-
That the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) be suspended from the service of the House.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Mr. Deputy
– Order ! There may be no discussion of the matter.
– I merely desire to appeal to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) on behalf of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). That is quite customary. I rose simultaneously with the right honorable gentleman. He received the call, the Chair passing me over in his favour. I suggest that I now be permitted to appeal to the House and the Prime Minister.
– Order ! I have endeavoured to be very fair and tolerant. I consider that I have been more than reasonable with the honorable member for New England, in view of his conduct in this House. I have named the honorable member, and the question now before the House is that he be suspended from the service of the House.
– Before the motion is put, I rise to a point of order.
– Is the point of order related to the division?
– Yes. My point of order is, whether a division to suspend an honorable member may take place following a conversation, not a public discussion, ‘ between a member of the House and the occupant of the chair in an entirely personal capacity?
-Order ! I was very reasonable with the honorable member for New England.
– Honorable members do not know what took place between the Chair and’ the honorable member for New England.
– If the honorable member for Warringah did not hear what took place, many other honorable members did. The Chair demands the courtesy to which it is entitled.
Question put -
That the honorable member for New England be suspended from the service of the House (Mr. Chifley’s motion).
The House divided. (Mr, Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for New England thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
By the indulgence- of the- House a Member may explain matters’ of a personal nature although there be no question .before’ thi House; but such, matters, may not be- debated
Standing Order 260 reads -
A Member who has spoken to a Question may again be: heard, to explain- himself ii regard to some material part of his speech which has- been misquoted or misunderstood hut shall not introduce, any new matter, 01 interrupt any Member in possession of. thi Chair, and no debatable matter shall Bbrought forward1 or- debate- arise upon, sue) explanation.
Clearly, the honorable memBer for Nev. England’ was not entitled to submit t motion (luring the course of a personal explanation. Therefore, the Chair re fused* to accept his. motion. All the other matters mentioned by the Acting. Leader of the1 Opposition are extraneous to thai issue.
That the ruling of the DePUtY Speaker il answer- to the question of order raised by, th< Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr Harrison)- om the 23rd -September,. 1948, bi> disagreed! with.
Motion (‘by Mr. Calwell) agreed to-
That leave be. given to bring in a bill for at» act relating- to British nationality and An= tralian citizenship…
Motion (by Mr-. Calwell) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring- in a bo foi am- act to amend the Immigration (Guardian ship of Children) Act 1940.
Kangaroo Island Am Service - Repara tions from Germany: Watchmaking Plant - Age Pensions - Sugar : Supplies for Fruit Canning ; Harvesting and Transport - Power Kerosene - Associated Dominions Assurance Society Proprietary Limited: Statements by Mr. J. T. Lang, M.P. - Broadcasting : Frequency Modulation ; Broadcasting Committee.
Question proposed -
That Mr. Deputy Speaker do now leave the hair and that the House resolve itself into
Committee of Ways and Means
– I raise one question that I do not think can be conveniently dealt with in the budget debate. I have given the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford) certain particulars concerning the state of the Kangaroo Island transport services, especially the air service. I have had occasion to refer to this matter before. Kangaroo Island, which is an important part ofmy electorate, is separated from the mainland of Australia by a strip of water. Seacommunication is difficult. A ship of the type required to improve sea communication is not available. The ship normally employed is going into dock and will not be avail- able for several months. The only other method of transport is by air. A service is run by Guinea Airways. The information I have is contained in a letter, which I passed to the Minister about ten days ago. It is to the effect that the Department of Air intends to penalize Kangaroo Island residents still further by cutting down the normal air service during the coming summer. There are special conditions that apply to Kangaroo Island that do not apply to any other part of my electorate. They may apply in some other electorates. I do not know. But Kangaroo Island is a pleasure resort. Great numbers of people go there to holiday or to fish. Most people prefer to go there by air. It is a short flight. Ordinarily aircraft fly the journey in half an hour and improved aircraft in even less time. Local people are not able to book passages by air as a rule, because bookings are generally made four, six or eight weeks ahead. So, with the small amount of steamer traffic offering and the cutting down of the air service, which is being made by the Minister for Civil Aviation, as the head of the department, people who wish to visit the island as tourists, including fishermen and others are sadly inconvenienced. So are local residents, who are not able to get air transport in an emergency. Another fact that the Minister must take into consideration is that the Government of South Australia, as agent for the Australian Government, intends to settle no less than 250 ex-servicemen on Kangaroo Island in the near future. Commonwealth and State officerswhohavetogo to Kangaroo Island in connexion with the preparatory work sometimes have to make the visit at short notice. With only one steamer a week providing an inadequate sea service and the air service cut down, it is difficult for local residents, people engaged on official business, prospective settlers, holiday-makers, tourists and fishermen to get to and from Kangaroo Island. I should like the Minister for Civil Aviation to have a good look at Kangaroo Island. He was good enough at one stage, perhaps in a moment of weak-mindedness, to promise to go there with me some day.
-Heisafraid that the honorable member may leavehimthere.
-I remember that when I was PostmasterGeneral I closed down a wireless station and thenwentto Kangaroo Island on holidays. The heads of the station concerned had to fly to KangarooIslandto apologize to me. It was good Christmas fun. I ask the Minister to make it convenient as soon as he possibly can to go to Kangaroo Island and seetheconditions for himself, because, if he is to control the Department of Civil Aviation, it stands to reason that places like Kangaroo Island, which are cut off by water from continental Australia, have a prior claim for air services to those people who have rail, road and private motor services to supply their needs.
The other matter I raise is one thatI would have raised at question time had not the Prime Minister curtailed ques- tions.Idonotknowwhethertheright honorable gentleman was attempting thereby to celebrate his birthday. At any rate, it is announced in the press to-day that Australia will receive as reparations from Germany the complete production unit of the watchmaking plant of Franz Hermie and Sons at Gosheim [ should like to know from whatever Minister is concerned whether the plant will be submitted at public auction or whether it will be disposed of privately find, in any case, whether the interests of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) will be safeguarded.
.- On the 16th September, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) sent to me under cover of a letter written by himself a letter written to him by a Mr. Bennet concerning the Kangaroo Island air service. The letter was sent by me to the Department of Civil Aviation for examination. [ sent this reply to the honorable member -
I acknowledge your strong personal representations in support of the desire of the District Council of Kingscote that additional air services should be made available to’ Kangaroo Island. The importance of adequate transport for residents of the island is appreciated, and I note from Mr. Bennet’s letter to you that it is understood Guinea Airways intend to curtail service during the summer. The position is being examined and as soon as I am able to do so I shall let you have further information.
The way in which the honorable member has presented the case makes it appear that the department is using some compulsion in that direction.
– I think that is so.
– I doubt it. As a matter of fact, whatever is done in regard to the consumption of aviation spirit by civil aircraft will not apply to subsidized services, and I think the Kangaroo Island service is subsidized. In any case, the proposed reduction will not amount to 5 per cent, of existing services, and that relates only to nonsubsidized services. So, if the service is conducted four days a week the actual curtailment over a year would not amount to more than a day or two.
– But the service is carried on four or five times a day.
– The service, if it is not subsidized, cannot be exempted from whatever cuts are decided upon without incurring the risk of other people coming along and saying that they have an equally strong case. I appreciate the honorable member’s concern about the Kangaroo Island service. No instruction? had been issued when that letter was written for the service to be curtailed. The matter of curtailment of civil aviation services is still being considered by the Government. No fuel order has been issued. Until the fuel order goes into operation, it rests with the Guinea Airways whether it continues the service to Kangaroo Island on the present basis or not. If the fuel order is operated, unsubsidized services will be cut by 5 per cent. As for the honorable member’s references to shipping, we have, of course, no control over shipping services. I did tell the honorable member that I should be happy to visit Kangaroo Island and see the place where he had a victory over radio people when he was PostmasterGeneral. But it is not possible for me to go to all the places I want to go to If I can. arrange a time to sui» the convenience of the honorable member and myself, which cannot be in the immediate future, I will go to the island with him. The matter of air services is being examined to ensure that the people shall not be deprived of any essential transport. The honorable member mentioned the development of soldier settlement on Kangaroo Island. He said that 250 ex-servicemen were to be settled there. Obviously, when they are settled there, extra transport services will be needed. That will be considered in due course. I do not know of any intention of the Department of Civil Aviation to reduce the existing service to Kangaroo Island or of any order having been given to that effect.
– I desire to bring to the notice of the Government the position of elderly persons, who have all their lives been good citizens, and have succeeded in saving some money. In my electorate, there, are several such persons, who have saved as much as £1,000 or £1,500. One man acceded to the request of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), and invested his £1,500 in a war loan at 3$ per cent., which yields him £46 17s. 6d. a year. That is his only income. The prospectus of the loan appealed to the public to lend their money to the Government, and so prevent inflation. The man of whom I speak applied for an age pension, but was told that he was not entitled to it because he had more than £750. The department suggested that he should spend the money so that he would become eligible for a pension.
– What department gave that advice?
– The Department of Social Services. I have the applicant’s letter, and I know that similar advice has been given in other instances. The department says, in effect, to the applicant: “We realize that if you did not have this money you and your wife would be eligible to receive pensions amounting to £213 a year. We know that you cannot live on £46 a year. Therefore, we suggest that you spend your money, after which you will be eligible for pensions “.
– But if he spent the money in certain ways he would still not be eligible for a pension.
– That is so, but the man and his wife could use the money to defray living expenses, and so live comfortably for a couple of years. Then, when it was spent they could apply for pensions, The Government does not give sufficient consideration to thrifty, deserving citizens who have saved money. It treats better those people who, through misfortune in some instances, or through their own fault in other instances, have become destitute. I do not claim that the person who has £1,000 or £1,500 is entitled to a full age pension, but he should be entitled to receive the difference between the pension and the income which his savings yields. I do not propose to state the name of the man whose letter I have here, but I shall supply it to the Minister for ‘Social Services if that is desired.
I urge upon the Government the need to ensure that sufficient sugar is made available this year to preserve the fruit crop in the southern States. In the electorates of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) and the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). and in my own electorate, a great deal of fruit is grown, and it is important that sugar should be available to preserve it. About 20 per cent, of the Victorian fruit crop was lost last year because of the scarcity of sugar, with the result thai the growers suffered loss, and the people of Britain, who are so much in need of preserved fruit, had their supplies curtailed. Even in many parts of Australia people are unable to obtain canned fruit. There is a general scarcity of sugar in Australia, and in many districts housewives cannot buy more than 2 lb. at h time. This is not the fault of the sugargrowers, or of the manufacturers. I was in Queensland recently, and found tha’ the mills had large quantities of sugar on hand, and that the growers could produce a great deal more cane if they were allowed to do so. The trouble is due to transport difficulties, and the fact that the Government is not prepared to deal with those who are creating the difficulties. For this reason, raw sugar cannot be brought south for refining. The people to whom I spoke in the north of Queensland were afraid that, because of the accumulated stocks of raw sugar, the mills would not this year be able to take all the cane offering. The fruit harvest in Victoria will begin in a little over three months’ time, so that the Government must take action now to ensure that sugar is available for processing the fruit. Otherwise, the fruit-growers will lose the reward of their labour, the people of Great Britain will have to go without the fruit they need, and Australia will lose the value of this export trade. I hope that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) will ensure that sufficient labour is made available to the cane-growers and sugar mills to ensure that the southern fruit crop will not be criminally wasted as happened last year.
– Reference has been made to the production of sugar, the provision of adequate supplies for the people of Australia, -and the despatch ©f the surplus products to Great Britain. Honorable members will recall that early this year., a conference of cane-growers was held at Grafton, in New South Wales. I. attended by invitation, -and discussed with the ‘cane-growers’ executive problem’s associated with the industry. I promised that 1,000 Baltic workers would go into the sugar-producing districts ‘of Queensland to ©tat cane. That promise wa’s fulfilled, although it was with ‘ difficulty that we were able to arrange ‘at such short notice for the ‘allocation of so many men to -a particular industry. However, 900 Baits went into the industry. We also promised to obtain the services of 400 former ‘members of the Polish Army, who had fought in association with the British Army during the war. It was also arranged to issue landing permits on She application of 500 families in Queensland, who wished to nominate friends or relatives living i n Italy, so that they might come to Australia to cut cane. They were to -come at the expense ‘of their -own relatives and friends. The Australian Government was not ‘obliged to arrange transport, ‘or to contribute towards the payment of their fares. ‘Stran’gely enough, when the Baltic workers went into the cane-frields, many Australians, Who had previously been associated with the industry, but had. not worked in it ‘the previous year, also ‘” turned up “ when the ‘gangs -Were being signed ‘on, and there was plenty of labour for cutting all the ‘cane. The estimated sugar harvest this year is S00,000 ‘tons, and the expected price will be about £25 a ton. Thus, the sugar cheque will be approximately £20,000,000, or £5,000,000 more than last year. When 1 was in Queensland for three or four weeks during July, I saw the Baltic workers in action. I spoke with the millers, the cane-growers and members of the ‘executives of the Australian Workers Union, as well as with representatives of the shipping company, and at “that time I found everybody perfectly happy. The Baits were fitting very satisfactorily into the industry and fat that time, they were earning between £2 and £2 10s. « day, and some Australian canecutters were ea rawing between -i£3 and S3 10s. ia day.
The sugar was also being shifted. There was a short interruption following the big strike in Queensland, and for a period, the State railway department waa unable to supply sufficient trucks., but by the middle of July, all the sugar which wa, banked mp last year had been shifted, with the exception of a-bout 339 tons ai one mill. The South Johnstone Mill ha<3 despatched not -only 6,000 tons of this year’s crop, but also 7,000 tons of last year’s ‘crop. I speak., not ‘of tons of sugar cane, but of tons -of .sugar, and it require.1 approximately 7 .tons of sugar cane uyield 1 ton of sugar.
– Somebody must have been working in order to make that transportation possible.
– Everybody was working. There were mo complaints about wharf labourers, railway employees, mill hands and executives of shipping companies and mills.
M;r. Rankin.- If the wharf labourers did not ‘complain, they were easily satisfied.
– The wharf labourers in Queensland have been much maligned. Indeed, wharf labourers in many other parts of Australia have been maligned in the press. Often, lack of shipping, the use of obsolete handling gear, mismanagement and a shortage of “railway trucks are responsible for delaying the wharf labourers. I pay a tribute ‘to the work of the wharf labourers of Queensland in shifting .this .year’s crop. I have not heard ‘anything, except in regard -to Lucinda Point, to .suggest that any delay has .occurred in disposing of this year’« crop.
– I shall supply some additional inf ormation which ‘will interest the Minister.
– There may be other places in addition to Lucinda Point, but no one will deny that the position is incomparably better -this .year than it was last year. The Government has done everything possible to supply labour in order that the crop could he cut.
M*. Davidson. - That is admitted.
– The Government also ^supplied labour for transporting the crop.
Mb-.. CALWELL.- That is so. According to ian ‘estimate, the crop was 300,000 .tens. If that is “not -a record crop it iia one tff *he best if or .many years.
– The crop is nearly 100,000 below the record.
– Bu’t it is considerably in excess of last year’s crop.
– This .year’s ‘crop exceeds the crops for many years.
– That is so. The Government also had to decide what was to , be done with th’e sugar when it was despatched from Queensland to southern parts. We .are most anxious to ensure that ‘all the people .of Australia shall have an ample .supply of sugar next summer. Lt is a number ‘of years since they have bad >all the sugar that they require for jam-.making and other purposes. The war was responsible for , most of the inconvenience which the people have suffered, :but in order .to assist, the Government arranged to supply 50 men to the Colonial Sugar [Refining Company Limited, in Melbourne. Those ‘men will be housed in the Royal Australian Air Force cam,pa.t Fishermen’s Rend in:order that they may be employed in the sugar refinery at Yarraville. We had to provide accommodation for those nien. We could not expect them to work in the refinery if they did not have anywhere ito live. We experienced some delay in obtaining accommodation for them, :but we hope that, as the result of the employment of those nien in Melbourne, ‘and ‘the work of Australians who are already engaged in the industry, we shall be able to build U’P a ‘Stock »pile off approximately 15,000 tons of sugar so that -all fruit-growers an’d housewives in “Victoria this ‘year ‘may have ‘all the -sugar that -they require. Similarly, in New -South Wales, we are trying to assist ‘with the foreign migrant labour which we nave at ‘our disposal. Any .other ‘State which considers that it Wants ‘assistance ‘has only to apply “to the Department of .Labour and .National Service, ‘officials >of which, in ‘conjunction with officers of ‘the Department of Immigration, will -do ‘their ;best to serve “the interests df ‘the ‘community in this matter.
- 1 desire .to .direct attention to a serious position which .has -arisen in .country districts as the result of the restrictionsplaced on supplies of . power -kerosene. ] do not want it to be said that, in making my submissions, I hold a brief for the oil companies. I do not, hut I am holding a brief for former soldiers, -sailors and airmen, who were induced to settle on the land in my .electorate, and who, to-day. are at their wits’ end to obtain sufficient fuel for their machines. Great difficult;) has been experienced in obtaining an adequate number of tractors to enable .primary producers to increase production, which is so vital, but restrictions have now been placed on the quantity of fuel that primary producers require for their machines. Those restrictions will create a sewious -position. Many of the settlershave -been induced to increase production. They were not satisfied to work a 40-houi v.:ee”k, ‘but ‘used their tractors by day and night ito cultivate the land. Provided seasonable conditions continue ito be favorable, they will soon begin to harvest 8 good crop. They -view with great alarm the restrictions which have been placed upon the sale of power -kerosene. I am not satisfied with -the explanation of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman.) that the actions of oil companies are responsible for the lack of adequate supplies of power kerosene to meet ‘the requirements cri primary producers. Had the Minister’s ‘adviserstaken the ‘trouble to ascertain the quantity of .this fuel Which was used ‘during the past twelve months, and had he based a
Australian Broadcasting Act by omitting the provisions relating to the committee, the bill will have a speedy passage through the Parliament.
Motion (by Mr. Thompson) put - That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 22nd September (vide page 757), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No.1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances, £12,000 “, be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Harrison had moved, by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by£1, as an instruction to the Government - to withdraw and redraft the budget . (vide page 430).
.-I was not present in the House when the budget was introduced, but since my return from abroad I have listened to several speeches delivered by Government supporters. The dominant note thatI have caught from their speeches has been one of complete complacency. For them, all is well in this best of all possible worlds; this is a good budget, and our defences are adequate. Then there was a somewhat flabby, timid and pacifist suggestion that we should not talk about war. According to them, if we talk more about peace and less about war, there will be no war. To me that if about the most dangerous attitude that any one could adopt.
I should like to take honorable mem bers with me in spirit on a trip to the other side of the world as I saw it a few weeks ago. I went by a flying boat that left Sydney, and alighted at Bowenon the coast of Queensland the following morning. From Bowen, we flew across the north Australian peninsula to Darwin. Down below we could see a grim and forbidding country, perhaps millions of acres in extent, known as North Australia. It is washed by the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and, from the air, that country looks lonely and hopeless. We came down at Darwin on the northern side of Australia I was forced to remember duringthe trip that our population numbers 7,500,000 people, who inhabita continent with an area of approximately 3,000,000 square miles; and that half of Australia is arid and virtually uninhabitable. Our population density is lea? than three people to the square mile, and a great part of the continent is undeveloped and incapable of development. On the following morning, we passed across the Indonesian Archipelago where, in a narrow group of islands, that looked almost like pocket handkerchiefs spread out on the sea below, 70,000,000 people live and work. A considerable made by the honorable member for Reid-
– I rise to order. I think it is laid m down in our Standing Orders that one honorable member may not reflect upon the motives of another honorable member in making certain charges. On page 431 of May’s Parliamentary Practice, under the heading “ Personal allusions and unparliamentary expression “, the following passage appears:-
It will also bc useful to give examples here . if expressions which are unparliamentary and which call for prompt interference. These nay be classified as follows -
1 ) The imputation of false or unavowed motives.
The honorable member for Martin is now alleging that the honorable member for Reid had false and unavowed motives in making his criticism of the Speaker of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and I submit that he is not “ii titled to do so.
– An honorable member is not entitled to reflect upon another honorable member. If the honorable member for Reid considers that he has been reflected upon-
– Any member of the House may take exception to such remarks.
– Order ! The honorable member for Richmond stated his case, and he must remain silent while I am speaking. The honorable member for Reid has not objected to any of the remarks made by the honorable member for Martin as being unparliamentary or offensive to him. In those circumstances, I do not propose to rule that the remarks are out of order. If the Chair were called upon to rule out of order every reflection upon an honorable member that was made by another honorable member without any protest by the member involved, a substantial part of our proceedings would be ruled out of order.
– If I might be permitted ‘
– Order ! The honorable member has made his point, and I have given my ruling. I shall allow no further discussion of it.
– I am sure that the honorable member for Reid is embarrassed by the support that is being given to him b> the honorable members opposite. The basis of the reflections of the honorable member for Richmond upon certain honorable members on this side of thi House at times calls for explanation.
– Order : The honorable member for Martin must not deal with the incident that occurred between the Chair and the honorable member for Richmond. It has been disposed of.
– I take exception to the remarks that were just made by the honorable member for Martin. I have made no reflections at any time upon honorable members of this House in respect of their personal lives. My criticisms have been entirely-
– Order !
– I am entitled to demand a withdrawal of the remarks that were just made by the honorable member for Martin.
– If the honorable member for Richmond considers that the remarks are offensive to him, I ask the honorable member for Martin to withdraw them.
– If my remarks were offensive to the honorable member, 1 withdraw them. The basis of the attack upon Mr. Lamb that was made by the honorable member for Reid, and which was delivered with considerable vindictiveness, is that Mr. Lamb, as a director representing the employees on the board of an insurance company, proved himself to.be a bad Labour man and a bad trade unionist. Those charges were listened to in silence by the honorable member who is constantly interrupting me when I am attempting to reply to them.
The basis of the charge made by Mr. Lang is entirely groundless. The facts reveal a very different state of affairs. It is on record at the head office of the insurance company concerned that in 1939 the managing director issued a circular instructing members of the staff to join a union. They did so. After twelve months the two members of the staff who are alleged to have supplied
Mr. Lang with statutory declarations ;eased their union membership, the union being the New South “Wales Insurance Officers Association. This union ceased o operate later on, and members individually transferred to the Insurance Clerks Federation. It is also on record that it vas at the request of the union that Mr. Lamb was appointed as a director to represent the employees, notwithstanding Mr. Lang’s statement to the contrary.
– I rise to order. It is ~be custom in this House for an honor- ible member to refer to another honorable member by the electorate that he represents and not by name. The honorible member for Martin is consistently referring to the honorable member for Reid as “Mr. Lang”.
– The honorable member’s point is a frivolous me.
– I shall accede to the wishes of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann). The two x-employees of the company from whom the honorable member for Reid obtained statutory declarations - which, I am informed, will at a later date be proved *m oath to be false - were not dismissed by the company because they wanted to join a union. They were dismissed for far more serious reasons, including their refusal to supply the company’s auditors with information concerningallegations they had made. They were, dismissed by the managing director, whofi the circumstances, had no alternative. Mr. Lamb had nothing whatever to do with their dismissal which was purely an administrative act by the management, In his endeavour to besmirch Mr. Lamb the honorable member for Reid recklessly and without justification, attacked the insurance company against which he had no grudge. On the contrary the managing, director of that insurance company gave.- the honorable member for Reid substantial financial assistance to establish his newspaper the Century: In his recklessness the- honorable member for Reid had no regard for “he company or its policy holders. It is a company which, I have learned, stands very high in the esteem of its policy holder? and has rendered a first-class service to them. It is true that the company’s actuarial liability at present exceeds its assets. That has also been true of every such company at some stage or other of its progress” or development
– Is. the honorable mem ber reading his speech?
– I am quoting from my notes, as I have not such a fund of knowledge as the honorable member foi Indi (Mr. McEwen), I have learned that the company pays all its legitimate claims and charges in full. It shows handsome annual surpluses, and like other such companies, will at no distant date, overcome its present actuarial disability The honorable member for Reid is the last man I know of who should attack, any company. The manner in which he obtained money from friends and supporters to launch his newspaper the Century, was snide and dishonest. Those from whom he obtained money understood that they wert taking shares in the Century, hut late they discovered that the honorable member for Reid had put their money into another company, Express .Newspapers Limited. They have also discovered that their shares in that company are not, and can nevebe, worth the paper they are written on. The honorable member put his own money into the Century where it is safe and secure, and likely to show profits because of the support given to that newspaper by the well-known vested interests whose willing tool he is. The honorable member’s attack on Mr. Lamb has’ done that gentleman no harm, but has brought contempt on his own head. The honorable member for Reid’ has the false reputation of being a brainy man, and yet his only contribution to the national welfare since his election to this Parliament has been to trail around a muckrake and to stab and strike first at one individual or organization, and1 then at another: By his actions he has degraded the National Parliament and is not a fit and proper person to be a member of it. On the other hand, Mr. Lamb, who is the honorable member for Granville in the New South Wales Parliament, has a long record of loyal service to both the: Labour and trade union movements and has been continuously- a member of both since” a very early age. He is a respected member of the trade union movement and his reputation may be said to be much higher and greater than that of the honors able member for Reid, who has’ so viciously attacked him. I have no doubt that when the New South Wales- Parliament re-assembles Mr. Lamb will fully answer the charges made against him in this House by the honorable member for Reid and will expose that honorable member for what he is, which is, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) once described him, a .” nuisance and a menace <- the political life of this country “.
. -I refer to the question of the despatch of sugar supplies from northern Queensland. Earlier this afternoon, the honorable! member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) discussed this question from a different point of view to that from which I shall deal with it. He put forward a plea for. action to ensure that producers iri his area, mainly fruit-growers, should be supplied with sufficient quantities of sugar to enable them to process their crops. I was pleased to notice that the honorable member, no doubt because if the knowledge gained during his recent sour of Queensland, realizes that any shortage of sugar supplies sent to southern fruit-growers is not the result of produc-tion shortages in Queensland. I thank him for his- acknowledgment of that fact. The honorable member referred in his remarks to- the fact that it was possible that, unless sugar- at present stored: in mills was shifted at an early date, processing of this season’s crop might be delayed. I am pleased to notice that the Minister for Labour and National Service. (Mr. Holloway) is in the House,, as it is. to his department that my remarks particularly apply. The question of the harvesting of the present sugar crop is me which has attracted’ attention for some considerable period’, not only in the sugar industry itself, but also in certain departments, of the Australian- Government which are associated- with it. Because of the foresight which has been a feature of the sugar industry for years, it was realized early in the past that there were several, important factors which must, be considered in any action taken to ensure that this season’s crop would be harvested. The first factor was tha there was> a carry-over from last year’.crop, of a considerable quantity of sugar which was held at mills and wharfs ii north Queensland1, which, if not shifted before the harvesting of this season’s crop is undertaken, would seriously impede the harvest. The second facto was the supply of labour for this year’s harvest. The third factor was the shifting- of this- season’s sugar production as it became available at mills and wharfs. With respect to thi first factor, as a result of various delibera tions, a good job was performed in Iii tine a considerable quantity of the sugar carried over, and when this season’s har vest comes forward wharfs and mills will, in the main, be reasonably free of las; year’s crop. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) stated, a few minutes ago, that he had made available to the sugar industry approximately 1,000 displaced persons from Baltic States to assist in the harvest. I am prepared to pay tribute to his department for that action.. Those Baits are now working in the industry and, from information I have had from time to time, it appears that they are doing a good job. As a result, of that, circumstance and of other considerations, mills are now able to work at something like 100 per cent of their capacity for the first time since 1941. The third problem, that of ensuring that the present crop is shifted at t reasonable rate so that mill’s will’ not bi forced to cease processing work because of lack of storage space, has not yet been satisfactorily solved; in spite of thi statement of the Minister for Immigration that he believed sugar was being shifted at a reasonable rate. That this shall be assured is of great importance, not only to the sugar industry and to Australia, but also to Britain. The Government should do everything possible to ensure that the whole of this year’s expected crop, which the Minister stated would amount to approximately 800,000 tons, will be lifted within a reasonable period. There are three things te be considered. First, it is only reasonablethat sugar-growers, who have had a rather thin time during the last three or tour years, should be given every opportunity to take advantage of this year’s good crop and the high export prices for sugar obtainable at present. Secondly, a large tonnage of sugar is required by Great Britain. It was only yesterday or to-day that an announcement appeared in the press that Great Britain needed this year all the sugar that it could obtain from Australia as its full requirements vere not available from other sources, lt was estimated that Great Britain would require 400,000 tons of this year’s Australian crop, the total of which, I repeat, is expected to be 800,000 tons. Australia’s own sugar consumption is 400,000 tons, so that if we are to meet the needs of Britain it is essential . to produce as much sugar as possible and to keep supplies, moving. The third factor is that after the middle of November and up to the end of December, depending on when the early storm rains come, it is not practicable to harvest sugar in Queensland. Towards the end of December, after rain, the sugar content in the cane decreases considerably. This fact may not be realized by honorable members generally. It is, therefore, desirable that nothing shall impede the rapid harvesting of the crop between now and the middle of December. Efforts of various kinds have been made to ensure that this year’s crop shall be lifted in full. I have given close consideration to the problem. Unquestionably the position is not entirely satisfactory. I ascertained as the result of my inquiries that at the larger ports, although the tonnages shifted had fallen below the target set, the position is not yet acute; but, at some of , the smaller ports the position has become acute, because manufactured sugar is not being lifted. This applies particularly tto Bundaberg. Some time ago Judge Kirby visited the sugar centres of north Queensland and arranged that all work in relation to the shifting and shipping of sugar should be organized to maximum capacity. After his visit to Bundaberg various bodies, particularly the chamber of commerce, became interested in the problem. Acting as an intermediary, the chamber of commerce arranged for a three months’ test in order to ascertain where the real trouble in relation to the slow turn-round: of ships rested. The watersiders agreed to work at reasonable maximum capacity for a certain time, and the shipping companies agreed to supply ships in sufficient volume to lift all the sugar available. As the result of the trial it was possible to determine whether the real trouble lay in the slow turn-round of ships or whether some other factor was hampering the despatch of sugar from Queensland ports. Yesterday I received from Bundaberg a telegram in the following terms : -
Bundaberg millers concerned present attitude local watersiders. They refuse work after five daily, including week-ends. Their action follows refusal request for payment attendance money daily. Baralaba -
That is one of the sugar boats which serve this port -
Baralaba arrived Bundaberg Wednesday 15th, due depart Tuesday 21st, delayed three full days. This may result in shipping company curtailing service to Bundaberg tiniest men agreeable work full hours in terms their award. General sugar removals position serious without further petty delays. Re.pectfully suggest you endeavour move department responsible for control waterfront. Have wired Senator Courtice similar terms.
It is obvious from the terms of the telegram that the source of the trouble if simply a quarrel between the watersiders and the department responsible for the payment of attendance money. As the result of this quarrel farmers and others dependent on the sugar industry in that district are likely to be severely penalized. One of the responsible millers in the district wrote to me. as follows : -
Up to the 18th September, 1948. the mill had manufactured 10,055 sack tons” of sugar. Despatched -
Our storage space at Bingera is approximately 11,600 tons and little over 50 per cent, of the mills’ peak. The crop is estimated to harvest from 28,000 to’ 28,500 sack tons of sugar.
The crop this year from that mill will be about 28,500 sack tons of sugar. The mill has already manufactured 10,650 sack tons, but has not been able to despatch one-half of that quantity. In view of the importance of this matter to sugar producers, to the waterside workers who want the work, and to Great Britain which needs every ton of sugar we can produce in excess of our own requirements, I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) to inquire into it immediately so that crushing in the Bundaberg area may proceed without delay. If a mill is forced to stop crushing, the cane-cutters responsible for supplying that mill immediately go elsewhere for work and do not return. I earnestly appeal to the responsible Ministers to do everything possible to settle these differences between the waterside workers and the department so that the sugar may be lifted without delay.
– It would bc a great pity if the collective efforts made to lift the sugar crop this year were to fail because of transport difficulties. After being successful in obtaining the necessary labour to handle the crop the Government hoped that its shipment to southern ports would be assured. We hope that the labour supplied to the industry will stay in Queensland and handle next season’s crop. I have received several letters from millers and growers in Queensland thanking me for the labour made available to them. The bottle-neck in the sugar industry has nearly always been at the refineries. Both the companies and the governments concerned will have to cooperate in order to remove the bottleneck. The Government is doing everything possible to secure additional labour for the refineries at Sydney and Melbourne. One of the problems associated with the provision of additional labour is the building of the necessary accommodation to house the workers. I assure the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) that I shall do everything I can to assist the industry and I shall at once discuss the problem with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) with a view to expediting the settlement of the matters in dispute.
.- I wish to raise a matter of more than usual interest not only to those personally involved but also to the people of Australia generally. A fortnight ago the Government announced that frequency modulation was to be introduced into Australia and that this new development in radio would be made available only to the national stations. This announcement gave rise to a good deal of concern, particularly among those associated with commercial radio stations. Unless we have grown completely cynical even in these days when the freedom of the people is being so much encroached upon, this is a matter which must be regarded as of first-rate national importance. This decision on the part of the Government will deny to commercial radio one of the most outstanding technical advances in the industry. The undeniable ultimate object of this decision is to smother and destroy commercial radio in Australia. This is but another step by the Government along the path of socialization, the first steps having been taken last year when the Government announced that it proposed to nationalize the trading banks of this country. When that announcement was made there was intense indignation all over Australia at the proposal of the Government to take control of the people’s wealth in all it? forms. That move, however, was obvious to every person in Australia. This proposal is much more insidious. This is a subtle attempt to socialize an industry by a man who for the time being controls the destiny of this country as Prime Minister. Consider the effect of a similar proposal on other activities. Let me draw an analogy between this proposal and a similar proposal to nationalize the transport industry. Suppose the Government of the day said to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited or to Ansett Airways Limited, “ We shall not allow you to take advantage of any technical improvements or advances in the design or operation of aircraft. We propose to limit these technical improvements solely to aircraft operated by Trans-Australia Airlines on behalf of the Government. We shall compel you, not at the moment, but -over the years, to become an /obsolete industry, and (because of your (obsolescence we ‘undoubtedly shall ultimately destroy yon “. What would be the reaction to such ‘a proposal’? We must remember that roe are dealing “with .a Government that does not stop at a mild form of socialization, but one which stands for socialization in all its forms, ; even “beyond the limits of the Constitution. In 1945 the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) moved the resolution that the Labour party stood for ‘complete socialization -even beyond the limits -of the Constitution. The party’s policy originally contemplated socialization within the limits of the Constitution, but the Minister was responsible for the deletion from that plank ;of the platform of the words ‘within the limits -of the Constitution”.. Should this Government ‘gain complete political .control -of banking it would control ‘advances, interest ‘rates and exchange and thus have nearly all the powers it required to smash industry of every kind. Now it proposes virtually to destroy commercial radio of the future. Let me give another example. Suppose it said to the primary industries, “All the great technical advances and improvements that may come out of the laboratories of the world, and from research into animal husbandry are to be denied to you. These &r.e to be used exclusively for enterprises under State control “. We can see at & glance the ramifications of this proposal to deny to commercial radio the latest technical advances and improvements. It is not to be -wondered at that many people have not yet awakened to the great principle involved in this proposal. They do not understand the proposal because it relates to a technical matter. Frequency modulation is in operation in the United States of America, having teen developed to a very great degree by the commercial radio stations ‘in that .country. ‘Television, though ‘stall in its infancy, will soon be available to us. This proposal may not affect ‘anybody very much -at the moment, but ultimately frequency modulation will provide ‘additional wave lengths which will he ample for both national and commercial stations. That applies also to television, and doubtless there will he further ‘advances in ‘radio ‘science. Imagine the position if sail new technical processesare. ‘confined to the national service operated by the Australian Broadcastin’g Commission. ‘Commercial radio will be made -obsolete. People will be equipped with apparatus built to con-form -to -the latest developments and the commercial stations will have no listeners. An industry can be killed by the direct process as the ‘-Government contemplates doing with the Australian private ‘banking system, or by strangulation -by the indirect process of making it obsolete, as the Government is seeking to defeat the commercial radio system by making it obsolete. If the Government is allowed to pursue its course of confining the operation -of technical developments to the national instrumentality, commercial radio will undoubtedly suffer a- complete eclipse. An interesting aspect of the second process of killing an industry has a bearing on the provision of the ‘Constitution .for the payment by .the Government of just compensations for the acquisition -of property. The Sigh Court has ruled many times that “jus; compensation “ means “ the value, of pro peTty at the time of acquisition “. If commercial radio stations are gradually squeezed out of the field by being denied access to improvements, their value will be reduced to the point of absurdity al which point the Government will be able to step in and acquire them. I warn the Australian public that that process need not be. confined to the field of radio. There are other fields of industry te which it -can be extended by ,a Government hungry to nationalize industry. 1 do not believe that the authors of the Constitution had in mind, when they wrote that provision, the thought that a process would be discovered by which il could be circumvented. People have not fully assimilated all the aspects of the Government’s decision to confine the operation of frequency modulation radio to -the Australian Broadcasting ‘Commission, but -the more they assimilate them the more they will realize that commercia] radio is doomed.
The Broadcasting Committee, of which I am -a. member, is regarded outside this House as “the travelling circus, greatest show ‘on earth “. It goes to Queensland in the winter and to Tasmania the summer, It has; a great objection, to cold. It goes where the weather ils warm,, but. mot. too, hot,’ because it abhors flies. Sometimes members of the committee from this side of the House accompany it and’ sometimes not.. We. regard it as essential that one of us should accompany the: circus to keep, it under observation. Its cost must be considerable.. One of the two subjects- it most recently investigated was the reception of parliamentary broadcasts in certain areas! To make that’ investigation a great peregrination’ took place. Journeys were made- hi accordance with a plan to ensure that members would en’joy the- best climatic conditions of the areas which’ the committee- visited. One would naturally expect that if any one were- asked, “Would you like to receive parliamentary broadcasts’? “ the answer would be “ Yes “. Bt did not require1 any costly committee to journey all’ over the country to find that out. Nor did it require- such journeyings by the’ committee to discover bow broadcasts were, to be. received. That is, not a matter, for: a. layman to. investigate. It is a. job for the. technicians of the Postmaster-General’s Department. The second question was whether a fund should bc established for. the assistance of Australian composers.. As can easily be imagined, every one interested in benefiting, from such, a fund turned, up to give evidence. They were “hand, knees and, boompa a daisy “ into the honey-pot w,hen it was proffered to them. All members of the committee share the. desire to help Australian composers to get on to the musical map of the world, but. there was no need for the committee to travel the country at great expense to ascertain whether such a fund should or. should not he established. The- PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron.) could himself more easily and at vastly less, expense have, arrived at the conclusion which the committee reached”. The commit:tee has those useless tasks referred, to it, but. not such important tasks as inquiring into the adoption, of the frequency modulation system in. the Australian radio service, which involves such fundamentals in the. British way of life as freedom of the. air and the right of the individual ro enter a. vocatiom and advance himself in it. I asked’ several times at. meetings of. the- committee when the subject of frequency modulation would come before- it. I was never told and. it. never came- before the. committee, and I do not think that it ever will do so. In other words, the committee will be given chicken-feed matters to inquire into at great cost, but will be denied’ the right of inquiring into, fundamental questions affecting the national and commercial radio services of this country. Mr-. Harry Alderman was right when he wrote te the Bishop of Newcastle! about station 2HD. to the effect that if the bishop did certain things for the1 Labour party and gave it certain considerations he could he practically sure to. get the licence te. operate that station-, because there was. a majority of. Labour men on the Broadcasting Committee. It is true that there if a majority of Government supporters on the committee. There would be a majority of our members of it if. we were in power. The point I am making is that party ideologies must intrude into such a committee, and the Opposition parties and the Labour party ase sharply divided’, upon ideologies1. With ideologies entering into its considerations the committee is incapable of giving an impartial opinion on the problems it investigates. We have been chid in this debate for having failed to suggest bow economies, could! be made. I suggest that the committee1 be abolished as soon as possible. It is a waste of. public money. It does not; dc one bit of good to> any one.
– Why does not the honorable member make a start by resigning from the- committee ?
– I arn not talking personally. I w.ant to have the- committee abolished^ but while. it lasts, it is necessary for- some of us, to watch what it is doing and to see that its- reports are not distorted. Even at inconvenience, to myself, I will follow its perambulations as well as 1 can. in- order to keep a check on it. I am far too> busy a man to accompany it wherever it goes-. I present the Government with a chance of saving a considerable amount of money. I think I can assure it on behalf of both Opposition parties that if it brings down a bill to amend the on the highest incomes of 18s. 6d. in the£1.
The wheat farmers remember that during the depression years wheat was sold on the Horsham Plains of Victoria for1s.10d. a bushel, and in the Riverina for about the same amount. The wheatgrowers of Australia were driven into bankruptcy then, but, despite the propaganda of the Country party, they are beginning to realize that this Government is, and always has been, the farmers’ friend. If they did not think that the Government was the farmers’ friend, 80 per cent. of them would not have voted in favor of the wheat stabilization scheme, which they know to be a Commonwealth scheme. It is the Scully plan. It is a plan that this Government formulated on the advice of the farmers who are in our party. We are a party of all kinds of people - workers, farmers, doctors and lawyers - but in these days there are no “ stooges “ for big business on the. right of the Chair. No one on this side of the chamber has any concern other than to do the greatest amount of good for everybody in the community.
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) said that a man with a wife and two children, who earns £300 a year, pays up to £118 a year in indirect taxes. That statement is a complete concoction. It could only be possible if each of those persons consumed a full quota of beer, spirits, wines, tobacco and cigarettes, if the family used 224 gallons of petrol a year and a full share of all other imported commodities, if it were buying all luxury lines that are subject to the higher rates of sales tax, and if it were paying” wages of more than £20 a week and, therefore, contributing to the pay-roll tax. If the members of the family were not doing any of those things, they would not pay even a minute fraction of £118 a year. Contrariwise, the honorable member’s calculations could prove that a man earning £10,000 a year need pay only £29 a year in indirect taxes, if he were abstemious. The real position is that a taxpayer who earns £300 a year and has a wife and two children pays no direct taxes; that, buying mainly essential foods and clothing, he pays practically no sales tax; that he pays excise only to the extent that he uses beer and tobacco; that he pays customs duty only to the extent that it is passed on by merchants and manufacturers; that he pays no payroll tax; and that he pays entertainment tax probably only at the lowest rate applicable to the cheapest seats.
– And he pays £1 for his wireless licence!
– It was £1 5s. when the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) was Postmaster-General and in those days listeners were not allowed to hear all the stations that they wanted to hear because the honorable member played the role of a little Hitler and closed down one or two stations. The Leader of the Australian Country party said that the Treasurer was an outstanding record breaker. And so he is. He is one of the greatest figures that the public life of this country has ever produced. He is one of those rare personages who has a way of ingratiating himself with everybody who meets him. He has a simple urbanity and natural courtesy which the honorable member for Warringah will never have. To me he is a mixture of an Abraham Lincoln, a Will Rogers and an honest backcountry Australian.
– And a Ned Kelly.
– An attack by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) on any honorable member sitting on this side of the committee is a compliment. The Treasurer, according to the Leader of the Australian Country party, has presented budgets to this House on a record number of occasions. But his records are not finished. He will present a budget next year, and in the following year, and in many years to come. The Leader of the Australian Country party also said that the Treasurer had achieved a record public debt of £2,700,000,000, and had a record number of employees. I remind the committee that most of that public debt was incurred as a result of World War II. and I know that the Leader of the Australian Country party did not intend to be uncharitable or unfair in his criticism of the Treasurer. No other area of those islands is uncultivable, consisting as it does of mountain ranges and dense forests, but so much of the land as is fertile has been cultivated to the last inch. There, as I have said, 70,000,000 eke out an existence, and are multiplying year by year. On the subject of world population generally, I read recently that there are now 200,000,000 more people in the world than there were in 1939, notwithstanding the loss and devastation caused by the war. Compared with our population density of two and a half to the square mile, the population of the Indonesian Archipelago is about 600 to the square mile. Another fact which strikes one forcibly is that the people there lc work. All the time, the growing popu’lation is pressing upon the available space, and the land is proving too small for it. Ultimately, the time must come when the Indonesians will have to move out beyond their own small string of islands, as, indeed, their forefathers did less than 100 years ago, when they migrated to Singapore and Malaya. Those who ought to know, such as Vlieland the demographer, assert that Singapore and Malaya were not originally inhabited by the race of people which is now there. It was only after the British, under Sir Stamford Raffles, came to Singapore that large numbers of Indonesians moved in from Java attracted by the improved conditions. In the island of Singapore, and in Malaya, there is a seething . mass of some millions of people, . most of whom toil on the land. Passing over those countries to the north of Australia, I was struck by the importance to the inhabitants of the river systems along which the bulk of the papulation is grouped. Typical examples are the Irrawaddy River, in Burma, and the river Ganges in India. I was reminded that, in this respect, Australia is at a grave disadvantage as compared with other lands. It is also at a disadvantage in that our great mountain systems run north and south, instead of east and west. That the direction of the lie of these mountain ranges is important is demonstrated by the fact that, in India, the monsoonal winds, blowing always in the same direction, carry the rain away from the Sind Desert, because of the barrier formed, by the Sind Mountains, so that the Punjab is fertile, while Pakistan, to’ :the - north, is arid. Geographical conditions are of great importance to a country, and Australia, is not fortunate in this respect. This throws upon us a greater obligation to do the best we can with what we have.
My journey took me over Burma and then over India, vast stretches of which are uninhabitable, but the country nevertheless supports between 350,000,000 and 400,000,000 people. Most of them toil on the land and get their living from the soil, and they are multiplying rapidly. After leaving India, we passed over Arabia and North Africa, with their dying lands. North Africa, which, according to my history books, was once the granary of Rome, is now, for the most part, an arid desert because of geographical changes. There is a lesson in this for Australia. Similar changes are taking place here as the result of soil erosion. In North Africa, the area of fertile land is contracting, and the population diminishing. Leaving Africa, we crossed France into England, where all the cultivable land is worked to the last inch by people who toil lovingly and faithfully upon it. The French peasants and the English farmers love their land, and deal faithfully with it. They, put back into the soil what they take out of it. with the result that, generation after generation, the land remains fertile.
Let us take this journey again, from another angle. When one leaves Australia, and passes over the Indonesian Archipelago, one immediately remembers that among the 70,000,001’ people who inhabit those islands, there is at present in progress :< Communist revolution. It was at first popularly supposed that the disturbance was an uprising of the people who, sought self-determination in government. That is not so, as every one is now aware. Alongside the racial revolution, there is in progress a first-class Communist outbreak, which has now progressed so far that the Communists have attempted to take charge of the government of the country. It is the same in Malaya. The night I arrived at Singapore, a state of national emergency was declared because of the disturbances. There were barricades on the roads, and troops were everywhere. Fighting had broken -out in -the “hills, land a* Oem.munist revolt -against the government was in progress. When I reached Singapore on my way back to Australia, I was informed by people who ought to know, and whom I believed, that the re-volution, although superficially .under .control, was still the cause of very deep concern. It was -suggested to me that it might be a long :time before .effective control was e-established.
Another Communist revolt, sponsored by a foreign power, has also broken out in Burma, a day’s flight to the north-west >f Malaya. When the British, in their wisdom or otherwise, withdrew from Burma, they left .a caretaker -government i-n power, but it could not control the -situation. A Communist revolution broke out, :amd as still in progress. In Siam a similar resolution has broken out. These aire not uprisings of primitive peoples fighting for the right of selfdetermination ; they are alien -movements sponsored *>y a foreign power.
Next comes India. When I was in London, I was inf ormed by eminent members ‘of the Indian community that they were deeply concerned about the spread of Communist doctrines in India. Those doctrines are not to be confused with the ‘semi-religious “ communalist “ beliefs which hare always been current among the Indians; they are straight-out Communist doctrines, and they are spreading Throughout the population. Across half the world therefore, between Australia and the United Kingdom, we encounter at almost every stride the problem of the alarming extension of violent communism. A similar situation exists in Italy France, in my view, at present bangs in the balance as a democratic power. Throughout Europe itself, ancient states have been gobbled up one after another. But the political .situation in Germany demonstrates the final moral for Australian politicians and citizens. Four powers, which were supposed to have been allies in World War II., are aw (trying to control a defeated -power, Germany. I regret that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has just left the chamber, because I desire to express my gratitude to him for making it possible for me to fly to Berlin, where I stayed for four days. The .aircraft in which 1 travelled .flew down the northern corri,Dor from Hamburg. After hairing seen that -devastated city, *and Berlin, J do not meed to be reminded by any honor able member opposite of the awful consequences of modern warfare. Whether atom bombs or high explosive and incendiary bombs .are used is immaterial Modern war is too horrible for any responsible persons to want to contemplate, -much less desire to cause.
Berlin is divided into f out sectors - 1m > British, the American, the French and the Russian. It is idle te comment on how that situation arose, or .say that better statesmanship might have yielded better results. The real answer is that it was an ad hoc arrangement, which was the best com promise that could be reached at the time The arrangement was made upon what seemed to be a justifiable -assumption that ‘Soviet Russia was genuinely desirous of making the compromise work. ‘Unfortunately, events have proved that the assumption was not justified. ‘The position now is that there is a quad-partite government, which does not function because the Soviet will not allow it to do so Local-governing “bodies -of democratically elected members of the German community are also unable to function because the Soviet, by interference, ‘and indeed, violence, is preventing them from doing so. People -are being kidnapped by day ‘and night, and shootings are sa common occurrence. The news of many of the outrages if never published in the press. There are forms of violence which haunt the minds of the people in the city, -because they do not ‘know what will happen from one day to the next. Finally, Russia has created a grossly fantastic position by “suddenly refusing to allow the United States of America, -Great Britain and France to use road or rail transport into Berlin. Honorable members will remember that the German capital is -situated nearly ;200 miles inside the Russian zone of occupation, which begins on the seaboard north of the Elbe River and travels obliquely across Germany to Czechoslovakia. Of course, -the Western Powers never intended that that area should be regarded as Soviet territory. It was to be the Soviet zone of occupation, pending the signing of the peace treaty. Under the arrangement between the four powers, the zone was to be occupied by Russian troops, but the German populace in it were to receive instruction in the functioning of the democratic system. But the iron curtain baa dropped along the western border of the .zone, which, for practical purposes, kas now become Russian territory. The exception is Berlin, which, it seems to the American, British and French commanders and politicians, must therefore continue to be jointly occupied .by the four powers, and not solely by the Russians.
The reason which the Russians gave for their decision to forbid rail and road transport into the city was “technical difficulties Of course, that explanation has not deceived anybody. The so-called technical difficulties have not been remedied, and for nearly three months no road or rail transport has passed from western Europe into Berlin. The result would have been that, under normal conditions, between 2,500,000 and 3,000,000 Germans in Berlin would have starved or frozen to death, because coal, food and other supplies would have been denied to them. The Western Bowers considered that their prestige demanded that they should counter the Russian move, and they resolved that they would not tolerate the position. I wholeheartedly endorse their attitude. Ever since, we have been transporting by air the food and fuel which the Germans in the western sector of Berlin require. The air lift continues every day. As I stated earlier, I flew down the air corridor from Hamburg into Berlin, and left the city by another corridor. The flights can be difficult and trying adventures. Each corridor is narrow, and Russian planes may fly about them at any time. Weather conditions are not always suitable for flying, and the young pilots with whom t flew, skilled as they were, were obviously under great strain. But they are doing the job, and I believe that, in the Pace of any difficulties that may arise, they will continue to do so.
At Gatow airport, in the British sector, die commanding officer, a group captain nf the Royal Air Force who deeply im pressed me, stated that the air lift had been increased from three or four aircraft a day to about 300 planes a day and this will increase further to 500 plane.1- a day. That information is not secret At Templehof airport, which is in the American sector, American officers told me a similar story. After a small’ beginning, the Americans are now usinga large number of aircraft in this service. I met many of the important and wellinformed people there, and all of then stated that the air lift will continue aslong as the Russians deny us the use of road and rail transport to and from Berlin. If necessary, it will con tinue during the winter months. Thai will not be easy. In October, mists begin to close in over the valleys, and flyingconditions will be more difficult. In thi depth of winter conditions of snow, iceand fog become intense, and flying risk? will be further accentuated. Nevertheless, I was informed that the British anaAmerican Governments are determined trcontinue the air lift.
At this point, I interrupt the theme of my speech in order to make a plea to the Prime Minister that the gesture which he made earlier in offering to send Australian air crews to assist in the air lift should he repeated. The offer wasextremely well received overseas, andcreated a fine impression of imperial solidarity.
– How many aircraft did Australia send for the purpose of assisting in the air lift ?
– I do not know. 1 understand that fifteen Dakotas were offered, but the Australian Government was informed that they were not required, because bigger aircraft were availablefrom the United States of America. Speaking subject to correction, I believe that Australia sent abroad the number of air crews required for fifteen aircraft. Another offer of assistance will enhanceAustralia’s reputation abroad, and increase the feeling of moral solidarity, which is so vital at the present time. Young Australian airmen would be gladto serve in an adventure of that kind, insuch a worthy cause. Yesterday, I asked the Prime Minister whether he wouldconsider offering additional air crews,, but in reply he merely said that no request had been made for them. I talked to air crews in Berlin, and to their commanders, and I know that any offer which Australia makes to supply air personnel will be gratefully, gladly and eagerly accepted. I hope that the Prime Minister will not lose this opportunity to enhance our prestige overseas.
I return now to the main theme of my speech. The fantastic conditions, which make the air lift into Berlin necessary, will continue as long as the Russians deny the Western Powers the right of road and rail transport into that city. The remarks which I am about to make are not intended to be provocative, because no one who has a knowledge of the situation in Europe desires to act provocatively, but I believe that the Parliament should have the benefit of the opinion of honorable members who have witnessed the conditions in Europe. It is my judgment that Russia intends to take western Europe if it can get it. We must decide whether we shall allow Russia to realize that ambition. I also believe that Russia plans ultimately to dominate the whole world, and, therefore, Australians, who believe in democracy, must make up their minds whether they are prepared to stand hy while Russia proceeds to achieve its ambitions. Speaking for other members of the Liberal party, and, I believe, for nearly all Australians, I say that Russia must not he allowed to overrun western Europe. We dare not permit the Soviet to take the whole of western Europe and to flood the world with its philosophy and ideology, discoloured as it is with the stain of having 12,000,000 people in concentration camps. The Russian Communists believe in government by a ruthless dictatorship, which denies to individuals their right of self-determination and self-expression and is fierce, and utterly destructive of every principle in which we believe. Sooner or later, we must take our stand with the other democratic countries, and deny to Russia the world domination that it . seeks. My opinion may he expressed thus, “ If we have to fight, we must fight “. Many knowledgeable people in Europe believe that a third world war is inevitable. God forbid that this should be. Many acres in Berlin where buildings once stood are strewn with rubble and twisted iron. There are thousands of rickety buildings without windows and roofs, and where many of the people live I do not know. Those scenes of desolation and devastation were caused, not by an atom bomb, but by high explosive and incendiary bombs, which are less destructive. I shrink from the thought that this country or any other country should be subjected to such destruction. Nevertheless, the thought that we should have to surrender to Russia because we -did not resist at the right time, or because we were not firm in the early stages, is completely untenable. We must not give up the only way of life that is worth while to people like ourselves. I repeat: If we have to fight, we must fight. If we do not make it perfectly clear to the Russians where we stand in the matter, we shall certainly have to fight. We mav leave it too late.
I come now to the conclusions which 1 draw from the world situation at I saw it in the course of a few weeks. 1 frankly concede that my examination was in some ways superficial. It could noi have been otherwise in the time thai I had at my disposal. Australia to-day stands in a position of the most deadly danger. If I am charged with exaggeration, I shall plead, “ Not guilty ‘’. Those words are, if anything, an understatement. Never before in our history, and I do not exclude the year 1942, have Australia and the things for which w< care stood in such danger. The populations of the small islands to the north of Australia are increasing and will eventually have insufficient space in which to live. We are, therefore, faced with the danger that one day we may find in isolated places around the Australian coast, which are not at present populated, little groups of people who have drifted to those places in one of the racial movements that tend to occur when economic pressure drives people from their homes. This may occur almost imperceptiblynot in pursuance of a deliberate policy of conquest, but because of the pressure of economic forces. If that happened we could not bayonet or shoot them. The only preparations that can be made against that kind of almost imperceptible movement must be made>-in- advance of and not after the event. Then there is the threat of a Communist war starting in Europe and spreading its red tide to our shores. I believe that the only response’ to these things is to work desperately hard. We cannot have in Australia a paradise either for workers or managers. The danger that threatens is coo great. We must work hard to increase production, and particularly the production of food, so that we may feed, not only ourselves, but also our allies and people in other parts of the world. When we speak of the arid centre of Australia, which probably comprises one-half of the continent, we must not overlook the fact chat, according to the geographers, there is a very fertile area of country stretching from the north around the coast to the west. We must develop the rich, fertile and cultivable parts of Australia to the utmost degree and in the shortest possible rime. That is a task which demands real statesmanship, and no party shibboleths or preconceived ideas or prejudices should be allowed to turn us from it. We must also expand our defences. Having regard r.o our needs, the defences of Australia at present are paltry, shabby and foolish. We could not defend anything with the defences which are proposed. We may go down, as other nations have done before. Nothing is static. I do not believe that we shall go down if we manage our affairs properly. But if we do not take drastic and immediate action, and have proper regard for the trend of developments in the world, we most certainly shall go down.
– I was engaged in preparing notes for a speech, and I did not expect to be called at this moment. However, as honorable members opposite apparently do not wish to speak now I shall step into the breach. I was not in Canberra when the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) delivered his budget speech. I was in Queensland, investigating the remarkable job that is being done by the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Hanlon, through the agency of that highly qualified and efficient officer, Mr. Kemp. I refer, of course, to the food production scheme at Capella in northern Queensland. I have read the report of the Treasurer’s speech. At the beginning of it, the right honorable gentleman used these words -
The factor which did most to determine financial conditions in 1947-48 was the exceptional^’ large and widespread rise in incomes.
At the end of the speech, the right honorable gentleman said-
Much has been said about providing incentive for workers but I believe that the best incentive that can be given to workers is 8 sense of security - security of employment and security against sickness, unemployment, and the disabilities of old age. The industrialist, again, can forward his project with most confidence if he knows that demand will be sustained. Of this the best, guarantee is full employment and the provision of adequate social services to those people who have to spend the greater part of their incomes on necessaries. Therefore, security, in the largest sense, has all along been the keynote of the Government’s financial and economic pro gramme.
We have heard a lot about security, but it does not always ring true, especially to those people who possess the spirit of adventure that this socialist-communist Government desires to kill.
– Is the honorable gentleman opposed to the payment of age pensions ?
– Honorable members opposite do not hold a mortgage on humanity. This talk of security is merely vote-catching propaganda, and I think that the, members of the Government know that it is. It is almost a eulogy of the futility of effort. I admit that governments other than Labour governments have introduced social serviceslegislation, but this so-called Labour party has gone further. Social service? have now developed into a “ gimme club “. The spirit of adventure that built Australia is being killed. This security twaddle does not ring true. The Government knows that it, is frequently “ taken for a ride “ and that many people are receiving benefits to which they are not entitled. That sort of thing is going on under the very eyes of Ministers, but they rarely expose it. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson) is one of. those who stands up to any electors that he considers are abusing the social services scheme, and I wish that every honorable member opposite would do the same. A creeping paralysis is spreading across this continent. It is sponsored by the Australian
Communists. The Communists in Russia do not subscribe to. a policy of Less hours and less work. The idea of workmen being given incentives to increase production is looked at askance by the pressure groups which dominate this Government, and they will not agree to incentive payments. In Russia, however, outstanding workers are presented with badges, bronze medals and other prizes. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said yesterday that all governments find something good in what is being done in Russia, and no one will deny that they do, but conditions are different in Australia because the Government has yielded to the pressure groups which are demanding, shorter hours and which are penalizing or blackmailing workmen who wish to work overtime. It seems to me that the members of this Government, the “ stooges “ of the Communists, have failed in their duty to the country by not declaring them.selves to he in favour of incentives. Instead of giving a lead to the artisans and tradesmen of Australia they are compelled to listen to their masters and to support what the pressure groups tell them they must support. When the question of communism was debated luring the last parliamentary session, not one member of the Government declared himself. [Quorum formed.] The Government has built a Frankenstein, which, is personified in its centralization policy. We have men 30 years of age who actually state that they are looking forward to the day when they can draw the age pension. What the Government should be inculcating in the youth of this country is the spirit of adventure, which will breed the type of individual who pioneered Australia, who himself prepared for his old age and who 4 aid, “I hope I shall never have to draw the pension”. I do not wish honorable members on the Government side of the House to misunderstand my remarks. Ever since [ have been a member of this Parliament [ have supported the age pensioners, the needy and the widows, and I can believe that the Prime Minister, like myself, is one of those who could quote what Ben Jonson said when in the streets of London he saw a beggar. Jonson said, “ There but for tha grace of God goes Ben Jensen ‘”.
– It was John Wesley who said that.
– I have quoted from both the opening and concluding remark.’ of the Prime Minister’s budget speech. Between those quotations we have what if supposed to be the meat of the budget, if there be any meat in it. It seems to me that the Prime Minister in the main has given us, to use the language of the dietician, a surfeit of carbohydrates, which make only for fatty degeneration, instead of protein, which has the property of rejuvenating and replacing body tissues. If the Prime Minister asserts that there is meat in this budget, I must say that I am unable to find it myself. Nor can 1 find any intestinal fortitude in it at all. The Minister for Defence (Mr Dedman) has indicated that there it mot much intestinal fortitude in thi* Government’s policy for the defence of this country, but I shall deal with thai later. This budget vitally affects the man in the street, the worker, the artist, the carpenter.. I personally think that the true position has been placed very ably before the Parliament .by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang). I believe that all honorable members on the Government side are painfully conscious of how mercilessly he has criticized the budget. From factual information he showed how little the £1 note can buy at the present time compared with its purchasing power before the last war. He failed to produce the normal manifestations of shame in members of the Government since they did not hang their heads, but he did shame them, as they acknowledged by the attitude of bravado with which they reacted to his speech. They brazened the whole thing out, because they knew that he was right on the target. They hoped that the public would know nothing about their activities and their propensity for catching votes by deceiving the workers of Australia. However, it remained for one of the female members of this Parliament, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons), to shame the Government thoroughly. Under her courteous, yet incisive and merciless onslaught, member = of this so-called Labour Government had the appearance of persons who had been slashed by a sword. I have never seen men 30 much shamed by a woman. They showed their shame by the whiteness of their gills and the manner in which they hung their heads.
The Government is apprehensive because it knows that the people of Australia are well aware of what has been happening and how the Government has deceived them. I shall repeat a definition of the word “ shame “ which I mentioned in this chamber once before, and which was given by the Greek philosopher Aristophanes in the year 400 B.C. He said -
Shame is an apprehension of a vision redected from the surface of opinion, the opinion of the public.
Aristophanes wrote a humorous play entitled The Frogs, a title which would fit the Government to-day. I wonder that the Government, or so-called Government, since it does not govern except by interference, does not ascertain what the people are thinking, and have been thinking since the end of 1945. Above all why does it not ascertain what the war widow is thinking, and those other widows who are in almost as poor circumstances as war widows? The widows are “fed up “ with this Government, and well the Government knows it. Do these women go to work in uncongenial surroundings because they wish to ? No, they go to work because they must do so in order to obtain sufficient money to keep their homes going. Do they share their houses with other families because they wish to do so? No, they share their homes because they must do so in order to pay the instalments on the due date. Why are these instalments so overburdening? The answer is, because the cost of building has become so heavy. Why does not the Government mix with the people and find out what is happening, or ask its advisers for the information? The reason why building construction is so costly is because the Government has failed to control the Communists, who have forced a go-slow policy on Australian workers. What does a worker think when he sees his fellow worker going slow on the construction of homes for the people, as they are doing even in Canberra ? Workers who wish to work their hardest must also slow down because they are afraid that otherwise their fellow workers might victimize them. The Prime Minister has confirmed his reputation for firmness. He has the firmness of a trap, the firmness of a python with a rabbit in its coils.
An honorable member has interjected and asked when I joined “the party”. I have joined the party of free men who may speak as their consciences dictate. Honorable members on the Government side of the committee dare not speak their minds, because their minds were made up for them in 1921 and again in 1924, when the Labour party platform was formulated. The shackles are still on their minds. In his remarkable speech, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) stated that the Government had been mesmerized by figures, and that the £1 had lost its value. I am repeating that statement so that the Government may hear it a second time. When the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) spoke on the budget he was criticized by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) for confounding himself, because he accused the Government of producing an inflationary budget while at the same time destroying the purchasing power of workers’ wages. If the honorable member for Fremantle had used a little cross-fertilization of mind, and taken into account the purchasing power of the fi, he would have agreed with the Leader of the Australian Country party entirely.
I shall now turn to the defence, or lack of defence, of this country, and shall refer to the fine speech made by the honorable member for Darwin, in which she trounced the Government mercilessly and made Ministers hang their heads in shame under her fiery criticism. She said that the people were losing faith in the democratic system and even in the Parliament and in politicians, and were, above all, losing faith in the administrative services. I regard myself as one who always speaks in defence of the public servant, even as one honorable member has just stated in an interjection, the bureaucrat. Bureaucrats are compelled by circumstances to be bureaucrats. Whenever this totalitarian, socialist Government fails it leaves its senior public servants to “ carry the baby “. Senior public servants are compelled to be bureaucrats for the simple reason that Ministers refuse to accept the responsibilities of their office. The Government to-day has one obsession and one only. Tt preaches uniformity, uniformity and more uniformity! This is the nonsense school that has come to this centralized Parliament. If the Banking Bill had survived the test in the High Court it would have constituted, as it were, the first six-inch nail in the coffin of the body politic and the creation of the frankenstein monster would have been completed. Having been a public servant myself, I sympathize with the bureaucrats who serve this communistsocialist Government, and are compelled to take the responsibilities which their incompetent ministerial heads refuse to take. Undoubtedly, I could criticize a few public servants, but I pay tribute to very many of them. Members of this Government do not know their jobs. They are square pegs in round holes. They would not know a mine from a rabbit warren, Mitchell grass from spear grass, or a buffalo from an over-sized wombat. On every occasion they place the onus of responsibility on their senior public servants. I should perhaps at this stage indicate what I believe to be the solution of this problem. Everybody knows that I first came into the Parliament as a regionalist, bent upon doing my utmost to bring about decentralization. I was confident that sane government would continue in the Commonwealth sphere and that here we had the nucleus of the nation. My views have completely changed for the time being. I am no longer a regionalist. A good deal has been said in this chamber about the geographical re-subdivision of Australia, but what authority has been given to regions that have been established and given some form of self-government? They should be given sovereign powers to deal with their domestic affairs. The only way in which this nation can develop to the fullest extent of the inherent value of the soil is by the creation of new states, each with sovereign authority to control its own domestic policy. Every democratic person would support such a proposal. This Government, however, loves power too much to contemplate handing over sovereign powers to minor bodies. Its cry is for uniformity, uniformity and more uniformity.- Its masters, the pressure groups outside the Parliament, dictate its policy of centralization. Ministers are mere “ stooges “ for their Communist dictators. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and the rest of the intelligentsia of the Labour movement are merely being used by the Communists for the time being. They will be disowned when their work is done. The Communists will then take complete control of Australia. We must fight against this menace, and the best way to fight is by the establishment of new regions, or new states, each with control over its own domestic policy. Let us take away the sovereign powers from this gang of hombres that now controls the destiny of the nation. Australia, in common with many other countries, is turning towards totalitarianism, whether to the right or to the left. Pressure is exerted either by the big monopolies or by the Communists through their willing tools, the members of the Australian Labour party. Which of these pressure groups will triumph? The only way in which to fight them is by establishing new States and by vesting authority in many hands instead of in the hands of only one person. No public servant, if he be wise, desires to exercise sole authority. Wherever, possible committees should be established to assist senior public servants to discharge their functions. Consider for a moment how the concentration of authority in the hands of one man was responsible for the failure of the scheme for the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land in Western Australia. Mr. Panton, Minister for Lands in the Western Australian Labour Government, which preceded the McLarty Government, was an old friend of mine in the 51st Battalion, but he was responsible for the failure of the scheme simply because he refused to delegate authority to others. When the scheme failed he pushed the responsibility for its failure on to his senior officers. After the defeat of the Labour Government, the new Premier, Mr. McLarty, seeing clearly the fallacy of concentrating all authority in the hands of one man, immediately established a committee to assist the Minister for Lands and his officers. He regarded the scheme as too big for one man to handle. Every licensed surveyor from one end of Australia to the other agrees with him. Members of this Government, too, wish to retain all power in their hands ; and they, too, shelve responsibility and invariably “ pass the buck “, as Mr. Panton did in Western Australia. The Tasmanian Government, in its wisdom, has decided to adopt a scheme of regionalization, and it has chosen to direct the scheme one of the most brilliant planners that Australia has ever produced, the Queenslander, Mr. Mcinnes. 1 was privileged to serve my articles under Mr. Mcinnes in 1923. Apart from being a licensed surveyor he also passed the highest examination open to members of his profession. Before the war I suggested to the Government that it should employ him, but apparently Ministers thought that he was merely looking for a job and they promised to put his name on the list. The Tasmanian Government appointed Mr. Mcinnes as State planner and gave him full authority to go ahead with the regionalization scheme. When Mr. Mcinnes arrived in Hobart, however, he refused to accept the appointment on the ground that he did not wish to be made solely responsible. Imagine the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), who announced recently at Ashfield that he loved power, refusing to accept supreme authority over anything ! Mr. Mcinnes convinced the Premier- of Tasmania, Mr. Cosgrove, that no person should have supreme authority, no matter what his qualifications may be. I mention this merely for the purpose of indicating that if Australia is to develop it must abandon the idea of centralized government and uniformity.
Every Australian who has the welfare of his country at heart must be disturbed’ by events .in Malaya and Indonesia. The failure of the Government satisfactorily to handle -the Indonesian situation is a disgrace to this great white continent in a yellow sea. Reporting on the efforts of the Indonesian Republic to combat communism, the Sydney Morning Herald. yesterday, published the following paragraphs : -
Republican sources in Batavia say the Communists have between 3,000 and 4,000 troops in Madiun province. They are well armed, mainly with Japanese weapons. The Republican Premier, Mohamed Hatta, said in Jogjakarta to-day that his government would not allow the Dutch to intervene in the Communist uprising.
He was replying to a statement in Washington yesterday by the Netherlands Foreign Minister, Dr. D. U. Stikker. Dr. Stikker said the Dutch and Republicans jointly should stamp out communism in Indonesia.
He said the unrest in Indonesia and throughout south-east Asia was directly inspired by Moscow. This was obvious from statements by the Communist leader, Muso.
In the same issue of the Sydney Morning Herald appeared the following cablegram from London : -
The Lieutenant Governor-General of Indonesia, Dr. H. van Mook, said to-day that Dutch co-operation with Singapore and Australia had become better as the result of the latest developments in Indonesia.
Events would force a division in the .Republic, he said. Those who opposed co-operation with the Dutch would group themselves with the Communists. Others would come- together in the opposite camp. This could only clarify the situation.
It would be interesting to know what the Government intends to do about Australia’s defence. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), in a fine speech last night on the defence of Australia, told how he had put youngsters into camp in 1911 and 1912 under the scheme that formed the basis of the Australian Imperial Force that went first to Gallipoli and then to France. I was one of them. The right honorable gentleman was criticized by people who do not like giving their services. The right honorable gentleman was then a member of the Labour party. How that party has deteriorated ! I do not think the Government has the authority of its supporters to promote a defence policy. Its only policy is to rely on the United States of America and to hide in the funk hole of the guided weapons testing range, which is essentially a project of Great Britain. That and the “ push-button “ mechanized war are all that the Government can talk about. Labourites are frightened that they would lose votes if they asked young men to give up Saturday afternoons to military training. But young men arc waiting to do so. From 1930, when the Scullin Labour Government, many former members and supporters of which are still in this chamber, discontinued universal training, the Labour party has encouraged Australia’s growing manhood to despise defence service and to regard uniforms as something to be ashamed of.
– That is not so.
– Of course it is. When World War II. broke out, thousands of men joined the Australian Imperial Force, but many more thousands, who had accepted the ideology of the new type of Labour party, refused to go anywhere near a military camp until they were called up. We old “ diggers “ know the Labour party’s hostility towards military service, particularly those of us who went into primary production after World War I. When the returned soldiers who had engaged in pineapple-growing sent their fruit to the Brisbane wharfs for shipment, it was thrown into the Brisbane River by Communists. No “ digger “ was game to wear his returned soldier badge in any big company, especially a liquor bar, because if he did so he would almost certainly be assaulted.
– When did that happen?
– It happened, all right! The spirit of hatred of service and uniforms was inculcated into Australian youths from 1930 by the Labour party, and that had repercussions in 1939. Members of the Labour party must pull themselves together. They know the danger that exists. It is the duty of the Government to ensure that young men shall be imbued with the desire to serve in the defence of their country against the teeming hordes of Asia, who are bound to come against us, if not in our time very soon thereafter. I made a prophetic speech at the Darwin Town Hall in 1937, more than two years before war broke out. I pointed out the necessity for making Australia so strong that nobody would ever want to attack it. and said that only when other nations knew that to send a force here would be to commit suicide would we be safe. I exhort the Government to place on the statute-book a defence act worthy of Australians, a white people in yellow seas. I further said at Darwin on that occasion -
There are several schools of thought about where the danger may come from. Some say that the Japanese Imperalists may conquer China, push Britain out of China, and then use some spot in Asia as a jumping-off place to take Australia, Germany helping, in order to get back her colonies.
That very nearly happened. I went on to say -
Others say that Russia and China may get together, beat Japan, and take Australia. A third school thinks that the whole world may be plunged in war, and that Germany and Italy will use the opportunity to join with Japan to free India and that Australia and New Zealand will bc taken and divided by those powers in the process.
How nearly - was that brought about ! We have Japan under control now, but for how long can we keep it under control? Pressure groups are operating in Asia and in Korea. Cut-throats and bandits are leading an uprising in Malaya. A Communist cell in Java has been established by Russia. A Communist cell operates in Darwin and controls the local newspaper. I demand that the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Senator McKenna) immediately send to Darwin a section of the Commonwealth Investigation Service to overthrow the Communists in Darwin. The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) conferred with those Communists recently. He knows that he was talking to Communists most of the time he was there. They did not introduce themselves to me when I was there last. They avoided me as they would a viper. I demand that in the interests of Australia’s safety the Communist element in Darwin, which is our aerial meeting point with the western hemisphere, be kept under control, so that it shall be prevented from linking up with the Communist cell in Indonesia. We must establish a protective screen throughout the archipelago of islands to the north of Australia - through Singapore, Borneo, New Guinea and the Solomons.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.5S to 8 p.m.
– There is much that I could say in commendation and amplification of this excellent budget, and in condemnation and refutation of the remarks of the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) and others in their somewhat feeble criticism of it. However, I intend to devote myself tonight to the Government’s defence policy as related to the budget. But first, I propose to deal with one important item about which the Leader of the Australian Country party misled the House. He said that at Geneva I had been responsible for reducing the preferences enjoyed by the United Kingdom in the Australian market. That statement was utterly false, if the right honorable gentleman had followed the course of those negotiations, he would know that the bargaining between the United Kingdom and the United States of America took place quite separately from the negotiations at which the representatives of Australia were present. The United Kingdom did agree to forgo some of the preference.0 which it enjoyed in the Australian market. In return for those concessions, the Government of the United Kingdom hoped to obtain certain benefits, and neither I, nor any other member of the Australian delegation, or of the Australian Government, had anything to do with the matter. While I am on this subject of preferences, may I direct the attention of the House to the following statement which appeared in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald : -
Mr. Menzies said he thought free trade in the Empire was “not worth talking about”, because, as separate geographical communities, each part had its own job to do in the world.
What did the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who is overseas, mean by that statement? Since Empire free trade is one form of imperial preference, he could only have meant that imperial preference was not worth talking about.
– What absolute nonsense that is!
– Honorable members opposite must accept the truth. The plain fact is that, under the Ottawa Agreement, the United Kingdom enjoys free entry for certain of its goods to the Australian market. That is free trade, but similar goods imported from foreign countries are subject to a tariff. The Leader of the Opposition said, according to the report in the Sydney Morning Herald, that free trade in the Empire was not worth talking about. I can imagine the Leader of the Australian Country party exclaiming, as he did once before, “ Another .stab in the back!”.
To-night, however, I wish to devote most of my attention to defence matters. The deputy leader of the Opposition made a three-point attack on the budget. His first point was that taxation should be further reduced. His second was that a more positive and comprehensive defence plan should be prepared. In amplifying the second point, he said that Australian expenditure on defence, as provided for in the budget, was not nearly enough. Thus, in one breath the honorable member asked for a reduction of taxation, and in the next he demanded increased expenditure on defence. He quoted from certain remarks made by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery. I propose to quote something which the Field Marshal said at a meeting in Adelaide. He declared that the strength of a nation lay in the following five things : -
A strong national character.
Good organization for scientific and technical research.
A powerful industrial potential.
Well dispensed upkeep of small peace-time forces’ backed by non-regular “forces.
Preparedness, which does not mean maintaining big forces.
That is the end of a quotation taken verbatim from the Sydney Daily Telegraph. The Austraiian defence plan, for which this budget makes provision, is based on the very points mentioned by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery. The deputy leader of the Opposition chided me for having said that there was no prospect of war for some years to come. Well in making that remark, I was in excellent company. I pray to God I was right. Field Marshal Lord Montgomery said, in similar circumstances -
In the forseeable future, I do not see any big war.
– When did he say that?
– He said it before the Berlin crisis. My statement was also made before the crisis developed. However, let us come to the present time. Only yesterday, I read in the press that Mr. Dewey, the selected candidate of the Republican party for the Presidential election in the United States of America, said that his policy was based on the firm belief that we could have peace.
I propose to read part of the amendment moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), to dissect it, and try to find out just what the honorable gentleman meant by it. That part of the amendment which relates to defence is as follows : -
That the first item be reduced by fi as an instruction to the Government to withdraw and redraft the budget … in order that, in view of the present grave and unsettled world conditions, a more comprehensive and positive defence plan commensurate with the security of Australia may be prepared.
I shall first deal with the question of defence in relation to the present international situation. Our war-time enemies, which were great powers, were disarmed after their defeat. The enemy countries are now occupied by allied forces. Although it has not been possible up to the present to conclude peace treaties providing controls and guarantees against the resurgence of Germany and Japan, it is obvious that the present unsettled condition of the world is not due to any menace from those countries. The three great powers left in the world are the allies who were victorious in the recent war - the British Commonwealth of Nations, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. All of them made great sacrifices in men and money during the war, and, in proportion to their resources, the United Kingdom, as the principal partner in the British Commonwealth of Nations, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, suffered most. The United States of America, by reason of its vast resources, is now by far and away the leading power in the world.
It is also the sole possessor of a stock of atomic bombs. We read in the Scripture -
What king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
Whether or not the Bible is read in Russia these days I feel certain that the truth expressed in the verse I have just quoted is being given deep consideration by those who direct the destinies of that country. While, on a short-term view, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be hi an advantageous military position in Europe, one must recognize, on taking the long-term view, that the position would be vastly different once the forces of the great democracies were fully arrayed. It is interesting to compare the present world situation with that of 1939. Germany had suffered no great damage in the first World War. It had had 21 years in which to re-arm. It had, in fact, the best-equipped army and air force in the world. Germany had in Italy, its satellite, an ally possessing a not insignificant navy, as well as an army of some size. Away in the Pacific. Japan, under the domination of an ideology similar to that of the nazis, had a navy equal in size to that of the United Kingdom, and its land forces were not to be despised. That was the situation in 1939. In this year of peace 1948, the Australian Government ha? provided in the budget an amount of £87,000,000 for defence. What did the Opposition provide for defence in the budget of the 8th September, 1939, when it held the reins of government, and when Great Britain stood alone against the might of Germany? At a time when it was uncertain where the United States of America would stand, when it was not clear on which side Russia would fight, when the Empire was already at war, the best the government of the day, drawn from the parties now in Opposition, were prepared to do was to provide £35,000,000 for the defence of the country. They were so smugly selfsatisfied in 1939 that they permitted 250,000 people, whom they could have used to prepare for the defence of the country, to remain unemployed. The amount of £S7,000,000 provided in this budget for defence is in addition to a further £112,000,000 provided under the heading “ Defence and Post-war Charges”, so that the total provision under the two headings is no less than £199,000,000. The amount of £S7,000,000 to be devoted exclusively to defence and allied services represents £11 3s. per head of population, as compared with a provision of £5 per head for the same purpose in 1939-40. In Canada and New Zealand, the corresponding budget provisions last year for the same purposes were £6 10s. and £9 10s. a head respectively.
The amount of the defence vote is a matter for government decision and responsibility, having regard to its judgment of the international position, the provision to be made for other charges on the budget, and the taxation that should be imposed. In a democracy it is axiomatic that defence policy must he compatible with the maintenance of a balanced economy, not only because it makes heavy demands on national resources in man-power and materials, but also because, to be successful, it must have its roots in healthy social economic conditions. Never in all the history of Australia was a defence policy so firmly rooted in healthy social and economic conditions as is this Government’s present defence policy. The relation between defence and, the national economy is well illustrated in the following statement on Canadian defence policy, which applies equally to Australia-^
The organization that is now being evolved was planned with the following concepts in mind. Canada is a vast country with great natural resources, but a relatively small population. Its people ure genuinely interested, not only in remaining at peace themselves, but also in doing what they can to promote world peace. Should another war ever occur, Canada will not light alone but only as one of a larger group of democratic powers. It therefore follows that the aim of our whole defence organization must be to make an adequate contribution to preparations for the defence of freedom with the least possible diversion of effort and resources from the peaceful development of the country. This can best be done by having a small highly skilled nucleus that is concerned with planning for defence and for keeping the defensive resources of the country in a suitable state of preparedness.
At the conference of Prime Ministers held in London in 1946, the Prime Minister of Australia expressed the willingness of this country to make a larger contribution to the defence of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific. The corollary to this offer was the acceptance by Australia of the responsibility for developing this country as a main support base in the Pacific. This relates not only to the provision of the armed forces but. also to participation in the strategic development and distribution of the resources and population of the British Commonwealth. The method to he adopted in order to achieve that objective is by strengthening the economy of Australia, and increasing its population. This Government’s success in attracting capital to this country for the development of secondary industries, and in obtaining migrants under the policy so ably conducted by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), are well known everywhere.
However, it would be quite contradictory to pursue a policy of developing Australia, as a main support area by the expansion of industry and population, while retarding the economy by withdrawing a large proportion of the manpower for continuous military training for several months a year. It is important to note in passing that, at the meeting of the Defence Council last Tuesday, the Government’s military advisers expressed the opinion that they preferred the present militia system to a reversion to the limited periods of training of a large body of men in accordance with the universal training provisions of the Defence Act. Therefore, it is quite misleading to assess Australian’s defence policy solely in terms of the proposed strength of the forces. The development of Australia by increased man-power and material resources, as accepted by the Prime Minister at the London Conference in 1946, will provide a constantly growing capacity to enable us to bear a greater share of the burden of British Commonwealth defence. A considered balance must be maintained between the needs of the defence of the country, and the requirements of the national economy as a whole. Confirmation of the adequacy of the present financial provision is indicated by the fact that it was not physically possible, under present economic conditions, for the departments concerned to expend more than £30,000,000 of the £37,000,000 voted to them last year. Defence is a matter of what is physically possible as well as of what is financially practicable. The services and departments concerned have been given a guaranteed programme involving the expenditure of £250,000,000 during a five-year period, in order to achieve the objectives which they have submitted and of which the Government has approved.
The next matter with which I shall deal is the demand by the Acting Leader of the Opposition for a “more comprehensive and positive defence plan “. Just what the honorable gentleman meant by the word “ positive I do not know. It is curiously reminiscent of Communist jargon. However, when outlining the Government’s post-war defence programme last year, I referred to the fact that the growth of a scheme of collective security under the United Nations would necessarily be slow, and that, in the meantime, reliance must be placed upon co-operation in British Commonwealth defence, and in the last resort, upon the forces than can be raised in an emergency to provide for the inherent right of individual self defence which is prescribed in the charter. It is undeniable that great advances in co-operation in British Empire defence have been made by Labour governments in Australia. For instance, the Fisher Government decided to establish the Royal Australian Navy, and to organize the defence forces on a basis in harmony with growing national aspirations and stature. Another Labour Prime Minister, the late John Curtin, put forward proposals in 1944 for the improvement of machinery for British co-operation which, had they been accepted, would have enabled an- overall plan for Empire defence to be developed. The present Prime Minister, at the London Conference in 1946, stated that, in the absence of such an over-all plan as the late Mr. Curtin had proposed, the only possibility of developing co-operation in Empire defence was on a regional basis. He added, that in the future, Australia must make a larger contribution towards the defence of the British Commonwealth, that that could be best done in the Pacific theatre, and that the approach to a common scheme of defence for these areas in question should be by agreement between the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia and, when possible, with the United States of America, and perhaps later with other countries with possessions in that area. Those views were fully endorsed by the United Kingdom and New Zealand governments. Under thai agreement, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have now joint service representatives and staffs accredited to the Defence Department in Australia, and strategic planning for defence has been commenced by the Australian joint service machinery in association with the overseas representatives. Reciprocal arrangements have been made for the Australian Government to be represented in the higher defence machinery of the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Never previously has machinery of this nature been established in Australia, or between the United Kingdom and any of the Dominions, for the planning of common defence measures. That machinery has been created on the initiative of the Australian Labour Government.
The plans for British Empire cooperation are not merely plans on paper. The assumption by Australia of the responsibility for a greater share of the burden of British Commonwealth defence in the Pacific is demonstrated by the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. The supply and maintenance of the force, the original strength of which was 35,000, have beer undertaken through Australian channels, under Australian direction and administration, and largely from Australian resources. The original order of battle for the force provided for 32 per cent, of it being Australian, whilst the remainder consisted of contingents from the United Kingdom, India, and New Zealand. Approximately 75 per cent, of the present strength of the force is Australian. For certain reasons, the soundness of which the sovereign governments concerned are the sole judges, the Indian contingent has been withdrawn, the withdrawal of the
United Kingdom contingent is almost complete, and the withdrawal of the New Zealand contingent is now proceeding. Those withdrawals have resulted in an increase of the Australian percentage of the total strength in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force, and in the near future, the whole of that force will be of Australian composition. “We recognize that Great Britain has onerous responsibilities in other parts of the world, and the Australian Government has accepted the major share of the responsibility of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in order to render some relief, in keeping with the special responsibility that it is assuming in the Pacific.
The next direction in which the Government has assumed a substantial commitment for co-operation in British Commonwealth defence is in defence research and development. The policy of the Australian Government is to take all steps within the capacity of the nation to provide the most modern equipment for our forces. To avoid a wasteful dispersion of effort, the joint policy of the United Kingdom and Australian Governments is to direct activity as far as possible to those projects which, ultimately, are expected to have the greatest effect upon the future conduct of war. Accordingly, an amount of £33,500,000 has been included in the five-year programme for research and development in pursuance of the policy of undertaking a greater share of the British Commonwealth cooperation in defence. The long range weapons project which is being undertaken jointly by the United Kingdom and Australia, is the main item in the research and development programme. A statement by one honorable member that that project is entirely a British plan is not correct. The long range weapons project will increase the capacity of Australia to defend itself with the latest weapons. That is important in view of out small man-power resources and our large territory. The Australian Government is giving to this project the highest priority in its works and other requirements, and although there has been a slight lag in the expenditure on works in connexion with the plan the lag has not been of such a degree as to interfere with the final programme of trials. Other research activities deal with the development and design of aircraft. Various projects relate to armament and other war material which, on account of security requirements, I cannot describe them in detail. Action is being taken to give civilian scientists training in the United Kingdom in defence research. Last April, we had very useful discussions on aspects of defence science with Sir Ben Lockspieser, chief scientist of the United Kingdom Ministry of Supply. The Government has invited Sir Henry Tizard, Chairman of the Defence Research Policy Advisory Committee in the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, to visit Australia for consultations next November. I submit that the Opposition case for a more comprehensive and positive defence plan fails completely when applied to the Government’s policy on defence research and development, which is the No. 1 priority in Empire defence.
– What is the strength of our defence forces at present?
– I propose to give some information on that aspect. The strength of the Permanent Naval Forces to be achieved by the end of the fiveyear programme’ is 14,753, compared with 5,204 in 1939. The’ strength on the 30th June last, which marked the conclusion of the first year of the programme, was 10,676. Certain steps have been taken to remedy the shortage of personnel. The trained recruiting staffs have been increased, the upper age limit has been raised, and the educational standard has been lowered. The recruitment of 1,000 ex-Royal Navy ratings in the United Kingdom is also being sought. It is anticipated that 400 of these ratings will arrive in Australia shortly on Kanimbla. The naval plan originally envisaged that the first aircraft carrier would be commissioned in June, 1948, and arrive in Australia approximately in December, 1948. Unfortunately, there has been some delay in commissioning the vessel and it is not due to arrive until March, 1949. That is due to- circumstances over which this Government has no control. The establishment of the air station at Nowra is proceeding, and will be completely ready when the first aircraft carrier group arrives in March, 1949.
Dealing with the naval construction programme, two “ Battle “ class destroyers, H.M.A.S. Tobruk and H.M.A.S. Anzac, were launched during the last twelve months. The naval programme envisages the. construction of four additional destroyers of the “ Daring “ class, two at Cockatoo and two at Williamstown. The provision of two aircraft carriers and the other increases of the strength of the Royal Australian Navy to which I have referred are contributions to the naval strength of the British Commonwealth of Nations as well as to our own defence. The United Kingdom Government expressed its appreciation of the Australian Government’s decision to obtain the aircraft carriers in the following terms: -
United Kingdom Government welcomes decision of Australian Government to form a naval aviation brunch ns part of its post-war defence policy and modernization of Royal Australian Navy. Establishment of Australian naval air ann will be a valuable contribution to the naval resources’ of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific area.
The fact that the personnel strength of the Navy is double that of 1939 and that the Government is taking steps to increase the number of ships and to maintain naval shipbuilding resources provides a further satisfactory answer to the alleged need for a more comprehensive defence plan with regard to the navy.
I propose now to deal with the Army. The plan provides for a total post-war strength of 19,000 for the Permanent Forces and 50,000 for the Citizen Forces. The present numbers of full-time duty personnel in the Regular Army and the Interim Army are 11,000 and 9,300 respectively, making a total of 20,300, compared with the pre-war strength of 3,900. Critics of the Government’s policy in relation to land forces should examine carefully the roles which I outlined for the post-war army in a statement that I made, to the Parliament last year. I said then that the first role was to provide the forces which might be required to fulfil a possible future commitment to the United Nations, including regional arrangements in the Pacific. That would entail that at least a proportion of the troops should be permanently employed, trained to a high standard and at a high degree of readiness. Nothing else would suffice for that role, because quick action might be necessary in an emergency in those areas. I said that the second role for the army was to participate in arrangements for co-operation in British Commonwealth defence. The forces required for that role would be similar to those required to fulfil a commitment to the United Nations. I said that the third role for the army was to provide the basic organization for expansion in time of war. That must be related to the authoritative view as to where the initial battles are most likely to be fought. In my opinion, it is impossible to believe that that role would demand a large army. We must be completely realistic about this matter. The Prime Minister said recently that it was well known that if war were to break out in Europe tomorrow the forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics could sweep across Europe to the English Channel. If that happened, where would Australia be able to deploy the large forces that honorable members opposite want to raise by compulsory military training? Would the Opposition send them to the Continent pf Europe to be annihilated as the Russians swept forward? Would they send them to the United Kingdom, which already has sufficient men under arms to defend itself? Where would the honorable gentlemen desire to send these forces ?
The Leader of the Australian Country party devoted only one sentence of his speech to the question of defence. A notable feature of the debate in fact, is that, so far, the only honorable members opposite who have had the temerity to claim that universal military training should be introduced are those who would be on the back benches if the Opposition parties were to occupy the treasury bench. Not one of their leaders has made it plain to the Parliament and the country that he is at this stage in favour of calling up large numbers of our young men and training them under a scheme for universal military training. I believe that our success in war would depend largely upon the industrial and economic resources that were available in Australia to produce the requirements of modern armed forces. If a reasonably short period of universal service were adopted, it would lead to the formation of a large army of partially trained and equipped men. Much of the money that is available for defence would be devoted to that purpose and would not be available for essential developments in the other services, scientific research, and the development of our secondary industries. I maintain that the system of universal service is inappropriate to the country’s present need. If the Government introduced national service with a restricted period of training in this country, it would be accused of preparing not for the last war but for the one before it. At the meeting of the Defence Council on Tuesday last, our military advisers stated as their considered opinion that they preferred the present plan to one under which universal military training would be introduced. The fourth role for the land forces is the local defence of the mainland of Australia. I suggest that if honorable members opposite carefully study these roles they will be convinced that the present plan is that which is best suited to Australia’s needs. I am informed that, having regard to the commitments in Japan, it would bc physically impossible for the Army authorities to deal with the large numbers of men who would be called up under the Opposition’s plan for compulsory military training in Australia. It is both illogical and unsound to demand a more comprehensive and positive plan in relation to our land forces when the Army is not able to put into effect the one that is provided for it by this programme.
All. units planned for the Permanent Air Force of sixteen operational squadrons and ancillary units have been formed and are now either at their permanent locations or in Japan. The fighter wing is based in Japan, and plans for its return to Australia are being considered. A fighter squadron in excess of the forces provided for by the plan is also in Japan. A. general reconnaissance squadron planned to be based at Townsville has not yet been established. The strength of the Royal Australian Air Force to be achieved at the end of the five years is 13,000. The strength on the 30th June, 1948, was 8,000, compared with a prewar strength of 3,500. I understand that the average monthly intake of new recruits during the last three months has been satisfactory. All units of the Royal . Australian Air Force have their full complement of aircraft. The bomber wing is being completely re-armed with Lincoln aircraft as they become available from local production. The fighter wing is equipped with Mustang aircraft. The provision of modern jet-engined fighters, manufactured in Australia, is already well under way. The transport wing is at present equipped with Dakotas. Part of the wing is now taking part in the air lift to Berlin. Reserves of aircraft of every kind are available. They are held in various categories of storage for use as required. For security reasons I do not propose to mention the number of aircraft that is held in reserve. The reserve, however, exceeds both in quantity and quality that which existed in 1939, when the Opposition parties were in power. I regret that I have not time to deal with the supply aspects of the defence programme and that I must pass on to general conclusions in relation to the adequacy of the programme as a whole. The amendment before the committee refers to “ a more comprehensive and positive defence plan “. I have shown that our plans in relation to all aspects of defence are comprehensive and positive, that our permanent military forces are much larger than they were in 1939, that the strength of the Navy is double what it was in 1939, and that the strength of the Air Force is more than double what it was in 1939. The total number of permanent and full-time men in all the services now is 39,000, compared with 12,600 in 1939. I submit that the plans that have been put forward by the Government are both comprehensive and positive. On this point, as on all other points, the amendment must fail completely.
.- We have listened to a very senior Minister, the Minister for Defence and the’’ Minister for Post-war Reconstruction) (Mr. Dedman) explaining the so-called! defence policy of Australia. He took the characteristic line of every member who speaks on the Government side, which is that the Government can do no wrong,, and that everything it does is perfect. He opened his speech with a misrepresentation, which characterized the remainder of the speech. He sought to suggest that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who is at present overseas, had supported his own view upon the destruction of Imperial preference, by quoting the right honorable gentleman’s statement that free trade in the Empire was not worth talking about. Even a child with an elementary knowledge of English and of thu history of trade relations within the Empire would know perfectly well that what the Leader of the Opposition was speaking about was the need for the development, by the various parts of the Empire, of their own separate economy. Either the Minister knew that that was what the right honorable gentleman was speaking about or he did not know it. If he knew it he misrepresented the position. If he did not know it, he showed his abysmal ignorance of affairs of state.
He outlined to the Parliament what he described as a defence programme magnificent in concept and brilliant in execution, and yet there is no force in this country that could defend anything. He spent half his time in destroying his own argument. On the one hand he asked what there was to fear in this country. He stated that Australia’s enemies had been laid low and that Russia was the only country which, it could be suggested, could attack us. He suggested it could not or would not attack us. On the other hand, he said our defence forces should not be sent off overseas to Europe. If his arguments on both counts are correct, there is ‘ no need for any defence force at all, and I am rather inclined to think that that is his policy. The real truth is that the Labour party is approaching the problems of defence in exactly the same manner now as it approached them in 1939, when it constituted the Opposition in this chamber. We always hear a great deal from the Government side of what happened in 1939. I shall inform honorable mem- bers, before I resume my seat, of somethings that were said and done in 1939 by the Labour party. At the moment I shall direct my attention first to the general nature of the Government’s defence programme, and I shall quote shortly the comments of two outstanding men on thar programme. It is significant that, when one examines the defence pro gramme, one can reach only one conclusion, which is that the defence plan of the Government is purely a compromise. How else can it be explained thai the Government proposes to expend th< sum of £62,500,000 on the army over » period of five years, and, strange to say. precisely the same amount on the Royal Australian Air Force? In addition, th> defence programme provides for an expenditure of £75,000,000 on the Royal Australian Navy. It is quite obvious to any one with any experience of the armed forces of this country, that this programme is nothing more than an unhappy compromise. It was on that particular ground that the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison), among others, moved his amendment. The Opposition does not regard this question as a mere matter, of figures. It seems to. me that the Minister for Defence is solely concerned with figures, but the Opposition is more concerned with realities. Among other things, the Minister stated that there were 11,000 Australian soldiers in the occupation force in Japan, but he does not appear to know the exact number. When the relief of the .British Commonwealth Occupation Force commenced on the 15th October, 1946, the strength of Australian troops in Japan was 9,829. On the 4th August this year, the strength of the force was not 11,000 as the Minister has said, but it was 5,3S4. The Minister does not know anything about the defence forces he controls. Out of the total number of Australian troops in Japan, only 750 men are combat troops. We have no real troops in Australia itself. Any one who has had contact with the Royal Australian Air Force knows very well that Australia could not put more than four squadrons into the air tomorrow, and yet the Minister makes the pretence that our defence forces are in proper shape. Perhaps he believes that. I do not mind which it is since pretence would indicate dishonesty and belief would indicate ignorance. Let me tell the committee and the people of Australia as I promised to do what two individuals whose reputation, as far as military affairs are concerned, stands far above that of the Minister for Defence, have to say on this subject.
The first authority I shall quote is General Sir Thomas Blarney. Whatever the Government may say now about him, the fact remains that it was glad to shelter under his wing during the perilous days of the war. He led this country to victory, and during the Middle East campaign was brought back and sent to New Guinea to retrieve the difficult situation there, which he did with success. He knows more about warfare than all the honorable members of this Parliament put together. In the Sydney Sun of the 5th June, 1947, he Ls quoted as saying -
Australia will gonn find she has a contemptible military force which will be unable to put one division of thoroughly trained men in the field in an emergency.
On the 20th November, 1947, he said -
Australia’s so-called defence plan is as truly a defence plan as the story that there is a man in the moon.
Those views came from the CommanderinChief of the Australian forces during the war. Yet the Minister for Defence would have the people believe that there is no room for criticism in respect of this magnificent defence scheme evolved. T suppose, by himself.
The second authority whom I shall quote is Air Vice-Marshal Bostock, a gentleman of whom I have had some experience. We produced, in Australia, no greater leader in the air than Air Vice-Marshal Bostock. The fact that he worked in the closest co-operation with the Americans and the experience he thereby obtained gives him the highest qualifications in this country in respect of air force questions - certainly as eminent as those of any man in the Permanent Air Force. This is what he said -
A permanent Royal Australian Air Force of such limited fighting strength can be justified only if it becomes the spearhead of a citizen air force, which should be well trained and equipped and ready to take the air at short notice.
In 1940, it was estimated that 73 squadrons were necessary to safeguard Australia. This figure was actually approved by the Federal Government. Only when American aid to the tune of about 70 squadrons reached us were we able to turn the tide in New Guinea. Yet that lesson seems to have been ignored and we are to depend in future on an air force of a little more than half the strength of that which the initial Japanese onslaught in 1941 destroyed, lt was a grim outlook.
The people of this country will accept the opinion of these two experts in preference to that of the Minister in respect of the value of the Government’s defence programme. The Opposition is not concerned with the money involved, but with the necessity for a sound plan. We have not yet heard from the Minister a plan designed to fit in with imperial defence or even with one designed for the adequate defence of this country. As in every debate, speakers on the Government side take us back over the years. That has been characteristic of the tactics of the Labour Government over the past six or seven years. It tells the people of this country what great warriors the members of the Government were in 1939 and during the war, and how then finally led this country to a magnificent victory. They always draw attention, as this Minister has done, to past years, instead of dealing with the problem of to-day. So that the people will not be misled, it is necessary for me also to go back over the years, but it will not take me long. In 1930 this Labour party which now pretends to be the sole repository of military wisdom, terminated during an administration under the Prime Ministership of the right honorable member for Yarra, Mr. Scullin, the compulsory training scheme in Australia. It closed down Duntroon Military College and Jervis Bay Naval Station and put a complete end to the military organization and training in Australia at that time. Then we come to the period immediately preceding 1939. Those of us who were in the Parliament then do not require to refer to Hansard to refresh our memories, because we remember that at the time when the Liberal Government sought to increase the defences of this country, meagre as they were, it had to do so in the face of bitter opposition from the Labour party which then formed the Opposition. Let me tell honorable members what was said in 1938 by a man whose memory I very much respect and who then led the Labour party. I refer to the late John Curtin, and I quote his words because they clearly express the policy of the Labour party at that time. I refer to volume 157 of Parliamentary Debates, which contains a report of a debate which occurred on a motion of want of confidence moved by the then Leader of the Labour Opposition on 2nd November, 1938. That was after the Munich crisis, and I ask honorable members to remember that, those on the Labour side of the chamber were always wise about the Munich crisis and always anticipated Nazi aggression, or so they would have us believe now. But the truth is that they revealed then the same “ pussyfoot “ attitude as they reveal now. They said then as they say now, “ There is no danger “. Here is what Mr. Curtin as the spokesman of the Labour party said less than a year before the outbreak of war -
Defence expenditure must depend entirely upon the conditions which prevail in the world from time to time. Obviously that must be the position. 1 say that any increase of defence expenditure after the Munich Pact so far as Australia is concerned appears to me to he an utterly unjustifiable and hysterical piece of panic propaganda.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) interjected to the effectthat the Government ‘ was asking for a policy of “mark your own ticket “ in respect of defence, as indeed it was, because it was seeking to prepare the defences of Australia. Mr. Curtin then went on to say -
That is so; they marked their own ticket, but they have now discarded that ticket in order to write a new ticket, much larger in volume, and 1 venture to say, not sufficiently justified to this Parliament or to the people. 1 believe that the greater part of this hysteria is based merely on a desire to provide a background for political manoeuvring.
That was stated by the leader of the Labour party, the same party which now wants the people to believe that the present Opposition failed in its duty when it was the Government in 1939. The real truth is that not only before the outbreak of World War II. but also after it, one Labour mem-
Mr. Spender. ber after another expressed views in opposition to arming the country. I shall read to the committee statements made in this chamber by members on the Labour side at that time, some of whom are still honorable members of this Parliament. The present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) said on the 3rd November, 1938 -
The Government is expending much too rapidly on defence.
Much too rapidly ! Now honorable members opposite ask why we did not prepare the country before 1939. The honorable gentleman continued -
It is making plans for more than the adequate defence of Australia. I make no excuse for saying that.
He would not make any excuses then, but in the meantime the story has changed, for it preaches falsely day in and day out that the Labour party was the great defender of this country. Another honorable gentleman distinguished for his outstanding strategic knowledge is the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward). Listen to what he said at that time -
It is amusing to hear people say we will not give up New Guinea. To these people 1 would say that if it shoiil.1 become necessary to defend our mandated territories, they should defend themselves
In November. 1939. even after the. war had commenced, when one would have thought that, unless the honorable gentleman shared the ideology of a few people in this country who regarded the war as an imperialistic war, he would have held different views, he said -
Instead of carrying on this stupid conflict, an effort should be made at the earliest moment to summon a conference of the major nations for the purpose of ending it.
That is the characteristic outlook of this great military authority. In December, 19.39, Senator Collings, who also became a member of the Government during the war period said -
I would not negotiate with that scoundrel Churchill. I regard Mr. Churchill as a mad dog let loose for the .purpose of spreading hatred where previously none existed.
This is the crew who would have people believe that they are, and were, the great defenders of this country. These are the people who claim to have steered the barque to victory. They have said time and time again that we left the country defenceless. Let me quote the words of the late Mr. Curtin when he took office in 1941. Prior to assuming office Mr. Curtin had been a member of the War Council. He knew the developments that had taken place overseas and from October, 1940, onwards, he fully endorsed the defence plans of the then Government. When the Labour Government which succeeded the Menzies Government knew that the fruit of our labours was ripe to be plucked, they grabbed the treasury benches. Every one now knows that you cannot start from “ taws “ and produce aeroplanes within three or four months, Mr. Curtin said - t have to pay tribute to the Government which preceded my own for the constructive work they have done in defence and the foundations they have laid. The Navy wast at its highest pitch of efficiency, as demonstrated by the notable exploits of its* ships overseas.
We had a number of ships overseas at that time, including Hobart, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide. Mr. Curtin went on -
The home defence army was well trained and its equipment had been greatly improved. The strength of the Air Force had been largely increased, both in respect of home defencesquadrons and the training resources of the Empire air scheme.
The Empire Air Training Scheme was one of the most magnificent schemes ever conceived for the defence of the Empire; but we hear very little of it now. Mr. Curtin continued -
The equipment of the Air Force had also been much improved. Finally, munitions production and the development of production capacity over a wide range of classes, including aircraft, was growing weekly.
Is it not about time the Labour party gave up misleading the people into believing that we had failed in our duty, that the Labour Government had to come to the rescue of the country and that its efforts resulted in victory?
Let us now give some consideration to the real problems of defence that face this country. Apparently the Minister for Defence can see no reason for altering the Government’s defence plan’ which was made long ago. Although in Great Britain there has been a quickening and a rapid increase of the defence programme, and although re-armament is taking place in the United States of
America, nothing of the kind is being done here because the Minister for Defence cannot be persuaded that there is any reason to alter the magnificent plan which was apparently conceived in his brain. On the 30th March last, after his return from overseas, the Minister said -
From knowledge I have gained from my two recent trips abroad there will be no war within the next few years. Nothing has occurred in Europe or elsewhere to cause the Federal Government to think its five years’ £200,000,000 defence plan should be altered in any way.
Earlier in the same month there had been the coup in Czechoslovakia. From that time onward -we have seen aggression after aggression, with the lights of liberty going out again, not only in Europe, but also throughout the world. Apparently, these events do not arouse the attention of this Government. Ministers would have us believe that nothing Las taken place within the last six month.” which should alter the Government’s defence plan one iota. It does not satisfy me to be told that the Defence Council has been called together and that it has not suggested any alteration of the plan. It is stupid to characterize those who talk about preparation for war as warmongers. An obligation is placed upon us to face up to our responsibilities. We must be prepared to meet the danger that threatens us if war should unhappily come about. No man. woman or child can view with anything but the greatest unhappiness the possibility of another war; but that does not relieve us of the responsibility of doing everything possible to ensure that if war does come we shall be prepared to meet it. The world to-day is in two mammoth camps, and no matter how peaceful we may be we cannot but view with alarm the possibility of Russia making a thrust down through the Malayan archipelago to the very fringes of Australia. Are Ave to close our eyes and say that what we planned twelve months ago is good enough to-day? It seems to me that considering the dangers that confront this country, there is every justification for the amendment proposed by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) and that it should receive the approval of every person in this country whose mind is not completely biased by party prejudice.
My only concern is to see that a proper defence plan is evolved. Let us consider what possible attack we may be subjected to and what plan we can make to meet it. Our prime duty is to defend this country. That does not mean, as we have said on more than one occasion, that we must plan to defend it inside our own shores. It is preferable to keep the thrust from reaching Australia. We can best defend Australia at its periphery. That was the view we held before World War II., and we have held the view constantly ever since. That, however, is not the view of the Australian Labour party and never was its view until very late in World War II., and it was accepted then, though with qualification only, ‘because it was thrust upon the party by the weight of circumstances and events. What defences have we to meet a possible thrust? We are told that something is to be provided at Manus Island. From information that has come to me I know little about Manus Island. Our defences at Manus Island constitute a very poor show. One of the greatest mistakes this Government ever made was to refuse to accept the offer of a great nation with powerful installations on Manus Island to retain a naval base there. That offer was rejected on the ground that we should not give away territory. Whatever we may have given away there would have been more than compensated for by the security afforded by a naval base of a great and powerful nation lying in the direction from which possible attack upon our country could come.
Too many Ministers are dealing with this problem of defence. The Minister for Defence and three subordinate Ministers all share in it. A set-up oi that type can only lead to compromise and to constant struggles between the service departments for more funds. That compromise is revealed in the budget figures. I would like the speaker who is to follow me to obtain from the Minister for Defence an explanation as to how it came about that the amount of money provided under the five-year plan for the Army is the exact equivalent of that allotted to the Royal Australian Air Force. When two branches of the forces, whose role and methods of operation are entirely different, are given exactly the same financial provision, it is impossible to reconcile the fact with any other hypothesis than that the defence programme is merely a compromise. Our defence plan should be based on advice given by men who fought in World War II. and whose services are still available to the nation. On Tuesday night the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers) made a pitiable, befogged and sentimental approach to this serious problem. The honorable gentleman said that he was praying for peace. While we all pray for peace, the Minister’s deplorably weak utterances took us back to the drivelling attitude that was so characteristic of Labour members during the period antecedent to 1939. Honorable members opposite are displaying the same pacifist mentality that they exhibited in the days before 1939. When we say that the only way to meet aggression is to prepare against it, we enunciate what is the simplest of all truths in modern life. None of us wants war, but we must prepare to defend ourselves should war come upon us. Let us examine some aspects of the Government’s defence plan as we know it. Let us consider first the Army. There can be no proper conception of any defence plan unless it be one which involves the principle that with the privileges of citizenship go the obligations of citizenship. Since we have heard so much of what Field Marshal Lord Montgomery has said let me, also, quote a recent statement of that great soldier. Speaking of the British Army as recently as the 18th August Inst, Field Marshal Lord Montgomery said -
Without a strong territorial army there can bp no national army and no national security.
That corresponds with the militia forces in this country and is particularly what honorable- members on this side of the chamber are concerned about. Field Marshal Lord Montgomery continued -
Every man and woman in Britain should understand that if the territorial army fails their homes, freedom and way of life will be In the greatest danger if we are attacked.
Every word of that applies with equal force to this country. The statement proceeds -
The territorial army under post-war reorganization is intended to provide a basis for the extension of the national army in the event of war.
It is planned to consist of infantry armed and airborne divisions and a nucleus of heavyequipment units, which would be uneconomic for a small regular force to maintain in peace time.
That is precisely what Australia needs. If people who say we do not stand for universal training mean that we do not stand for annually calling up men willynilly as they reach army age into the ranks, thereby damaging our industrial economy, they are quite right, but if they mean that we are not prepared to call up annually from each age group by ballot, sufficient men to provide a trained reserve, they are quite wrong. I cannot understand how the Government’s proposed militia will have any value if it is to repeat the pitiable performance of the Militia before 1939. In these modern days, we should realize that the first need it trained men. That need can be met only by a system of universal service under which men in various age groups will be called up by ballot each year and trained. “We want trained men for the Air Force, both in the air and on the ground. The Government could train ground crews by first training them in selected trades under a- system of universal training and then placing them in key industries for which their training fitted them so that they could be readily available to be called, up in an emergency.. That involves tackling the trade unions and the Government would not have the courage to do it. The union leaders govern this country nowadays, not the Parliament, which has become the mere facade of democracy.
– Are not the men referred to by the honorable member working in engineering trades?
– They are working in industry, but they are losing the value of the trades that they learned in the Air Force.
– I said they were working in engineering trades, not just in industry.
– I will not take the view of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) abou what should be done in defence matters any more than I would take the views of three or four of his colleagues in the Ministry. There is no indication of any proper defence plan in the Government’s policy. Its idea is to have a militia, members of which will spend a little while in camp each year and do their other training periodically during the year. That will noi create an army for the defence of the country. What consideration has the Government given to the use of the vast number of pilots that we have in the country or to train their successors ? The pilots and navigators of Trans-Australia Airlines would provide a nucleus for the training of other pilots and navigators against an emergency. Few of the things that ought to be done are being done. Above all, no plan has been revealed for the co-ordination of the three armed services. We have limited resources and it is idle to divide them almost equally between the three branches. Many years ago the Labour party’s then leader, the late Mr. John Curtin, said that one of the best things that Australia could do was to place more emphasis on the Air Force than on the other armed forces. That appears to have been forgotten by the Labour party.
– We have not forgotten it.
– The Government must have forgotten it when it proposed to expend on the Army the same money as on the Air Force. We should dismiss the Service Ministers. They perform no real function. With the armed force? we have, they are not needed. One Minister should be in charge of our defences and he should devote his whole strength and intelligence to developing a co-ordinated defence plan which would use our resources to the utmost. I agree with the Minister for Defence that the whole nation must be organized. That has been axiomatic for seven or eight, years, for we have seen total war waged. We need plans for the best use of our men and materials in war, but they are not forthcoming.
So every justification exists, on this point alone, for the motion of censure, for such it is, moved by the Acting Leader of the Opposition if there is one thing that we cannot close our eyes to, it is the terrifying march of events abroad. We hope and seek to avoid war, but we shall not avoid it by turning our eyes away from what is taking place in the world. I have made these remarks without th« desire to make political capital out of them. It is unfortunate that there cannot be a defence council on which the leaders of the Opposition parties, as well as the Government parties, could be represented. That has always been my personal view. The plan put before us by the Government does not provide for the use of our resources to the best advantage and it is producing a hotchpotch that has been condemned by two of the outstanding men in the Army and the Air Force that Australia has produced in this generation. Not long ago, certain generals sought to place their views on defence matters before the Minister for the Army, but were not even given the opportunity to do so. They are men who have fought for Australia and know much more, in my judgment, and I speak with large experience of the Army, about defence than do many of the present advisers of the Government. They were refused even a hearing. Whether that was because most of them were militia officers I do not know. Some of them had fought only in World War II., but others had fought in both wars. In the face of that, how can the Government hope to satisfy the public that its defence plans do not add up to a huge waste of money ?
In the little time remaining to me, I desire to make reference to the budget itself, not in detail, because the details have been completely covered by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), but broadly. One thing that strikes me about the budget is that the Government, knowing very well that around the corner there must be a decline of prices overseas that will have a most devastating effect on our economy, is still budgeting for expenditure at an extraordinarily high level. Prices paid for our exports overseas are on an average 400 per cent, greater than they were before the war. It must be obvious that thai cannot continue indefinitely. Yet we have had placed before us a budget that is inflationary and does not make provision for the inevitable recession. The people will scrutinize this budget more closely than they have scrutinized any other. It is said that large concessions are to be given to the people, but what does the budget amount to in simple terms? I hope I do not over-simplify it when I say that it merely maintains the present rate of expenditure plus specific amounts of additional expenditure, such as £’25,000,000 *for the payment of war gratuity, £10,000,000 as a gift to Great Britain, and two or three other items. The only reduction of expenditure proposed is on subsidies, the expenditure on which is to be reduced by £26,000,000. Taxation is to be reduced by an approximately equal amount. .Nothing more than that one statement is required to prove that the total burden of the bud ger is to be no less than was the burden of the budget of last year.. It is obvious that the course pursued by the Government will inevitably result in higher prices which will create a further inflationary trend and bring in its wake the old trouble that most of us have fought against of wages chasing prices continuously. The Government has done a bad thing by withdrawing subsidies. I am not concerned with the political aspects of their withdrawal, but I am concerned with the economic Consequences that will follow. When subsidies are removed prices will rise and the rise of prices will mostly affect people on the lower incomes. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who usually gives a great deal of thought to his speeches, and to whom I always listen intently, went right off the rails when he said that subsidies could not be given to the States. There is no constitutional bar to the Government’s making a grant to the States of the amount of money involved in subsidies, on condition that the States fix the prices of the commodities in respect of which the subsidies are granted. I believe that the Government is praying for increased prices so that next year, as an election bait, it will be able to bring down a budget granting the taxpayers substantial tax concessions from hidden reserves. No doubt it will then say to them : “ The rise of prices was solely due to the fact that you did not give us control of prices. You were misled by our political opponents “. Nothing could be more fantastic or farther from the truth. The decision to withdraw subsidies is characteristic of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). It was because of pique that he decided to try to nationalize the banks and it was equally due to pique that he decided that subsidies should be withdrawn. He knew what the consequences would be. But the consequences suit him politically. Those capable of judging consider that the Government’s defence plans are insufficient and that the budget cannot be justified in the eyes qf the people.
– Ord er ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– This is the greatest budget that has ever been presented to the Australian Parliament, and the attacks that have been made upon it by honorable members on the Opposition side of the chamber have proved nothing to the contrary. Honorable gentlemen opposite did not try to prove anything. They just wanted to cloud the issue. In the budget, it is proposed to give back to the people by way of tax reductions £28,000,000, of which £22,000,000 will be remitted this financial year. In addition, the Government proposes to increase social service benefits by £21,000,000, so that the people will profit by £49,000,000 in tax reductions and increased social service payments. What other government, in the whole history of federation, ever tried to do as much? When the Opposition parties were in power, it was the hardest thing in the world to get them to provide an extra shilling a week for the old age pensioners. It was the hardest thing in the world to get them even to annul some of the harsh measures which they had introduced in 1932, the first year they were in office after the defeat of the Scullin Government. The present. Government has managed the affairs of Australia during its seven years of office in a manner which no previous government was able to equal. It raised the sum of £1,513,970,132 for war purposes. The total national debt, owed by the Commonwealth and the States, is £2,790,215,169, upon which the interest liability is £82,324,768 a year. That amount has to be voted by Parliament annually. We are in debt to those overseas who lent the money to us, and to the people of Australia who subscribed to victory loans, to liberty loans and to reconstruction loans. The only way in which it would be possible to reduce expenditure, as requested by honorable members opposite, would be to repudiate interest payments. This one item of interest payments is almost equal to a pre-war budget, and it cannot be reduced. As a matter of fact, the Government has been successful in reducing the interest rate on our national indebtedness to £2 19s. per cent. In other days, the Opposition, when in power, was in the habit of floating loans at 5 per cent, and 6 per cent. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), when he was Prime Minister, floated a 6 per cent, loan, and the interest was made free of both Federal and State income tax. This Government has reduced the interest burden. It did not put the country into pawn overseas during the war. It raised all the war loans within Australia, and repatriated £77,839,812 of overseas indebtedness.’ If the Opposition were in power again, precisely the same condition of affairs would obtain as existed under the Lyons and Menzies Governments. To-day, the credit of Australia is extraordinarly high. It is so high that every conversion loan that we have floated overseas has been oversubscribed, and every loan that has been floated in Australia has been oversubscribed, also. In 1933, the Lyons Government floated overseas a loan of £9,621,000, of which £3,478,000 was left with the underwriters. It was 36.15 per cent, undersubscribed. The underwriters burnt their fingers over the first loan, as did those who underwrote many of the succeeding loans. The full story is revealed in the following table : -
The longer the anti-Labour governments remained in power, the worse the position became and the more the credit of Australia suffered. Their last oversea loan was floated in October, 1939, just after war broke out.
Et was for £6,000,000, of which £4,788,000 was left on the hands of the underwriters. The extraordinarily large amount of SO per cent, of the total loan was not subscribed by the public because they had lost confidence in the financial stability of Australia-
– Who was Treasurer then ?
– The right honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was one of the long list of Treasurers who served in anti-Labour governments before the war, and the president of the Liberal party, Mr. R. G. Casey, was another. The only bright spot in the record was when the present Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) was Treasurer. With the Liberal party and its ideological predecessors, it was ever thus. In the days of the Bruce-Page Government overseas loans were undersubscribed. In 1926, a loan of £6,000,000 was undersubscribed by £4,000,000. In 1925 a loan of £5,000,000 was undersubscribed by £2,000,000. Always, when an antiLabour government has vacated office, it has left an empty treasury, an exhausted loan market and a broken economy. Honorable members opposite have voiced a lot of airy platitudes. They have tried to convince, themselves that the Government is giving nothing back to the public in this budget; that the budget is, in fact, a joke perpetrated upon the public, and that there will be no real tax remissions for any one. In a short time, however, the people will find that their pay envelopes are heavier than they were before. They will also receive a substantial refund from the Taxation Branch in July of next year, and that is what honorable members opposite do not like. The Government has honoured its promises in their entirety. We did not go into the auction mart to buy votes at the last election. The right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) said that, if his party were returned to power, he would reduce taxation by £20,000,000. The Leader of the Australian Country party said that he would reduce taxation by £28,000,000. Eventually, the people realized that there was no unanimity among the Opposition parties and that it was simply a matter of huckstering . for votes. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), on the contrary, made no promises. He did not offer any inducements. He said, “ Trust this Government which has managed the economy of Australia so well “, and the people did trust it. It is stated in a document which has been circulated for the information of honorable members, that since 1942, the Government has remitted taxes to the amount of £138,000,000, made up of a remission of £20,000,000 in January. 1946; £17,500,000 in July, 1946; and £33,000,000 in July, 1947. The present proposal is to grant a further remission of £26,000,000. Tn addition, remission.- -of sales tax and other charges amount to a further £2,000,000.
This Government has managed the affairs of Australia so well that the people now have £6S1,000,000 in their savings bank accounts. In 1947, they had £660,000,000 in the savings banks. The total amount in the savings banks was only £236,991,000 when the Opposition parties were in power. Honorable members opposite have accused the Government of destroying the economy of the country, but the fact remains that the people have three times as much money in the savings banks now as when the Opposition parties were in power. And to whose credit does this money stand ? It is owned by the ordinary people, whose spending power assures prosperity for everybody. This Government looks after the people, and that is why it enjoys their confidence. It is also the reason why the Government faces the future confidently. Not all persons with the same ideological background as honorable members opposite think as they do. Sir Norman Brookes returned to Australia on 18th August.
– Another one quoting Sir Norman Brookes!
– Yes, but I shall quote him correctly. All the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) did was to chase him into his sick, room, and try to get him to repudiate what he had said. I have here the report of an interview with Sir Norman Brookes as published in the Melbourne Herald. If the Herald is right, the honorable member for Balaclava is wrong. The honorable member mutters like a married magpie in objection to my statement, but here is the report of what Sir Norman Brookes said -
Australians might moan, but their country was in a sounder economic position than any other country he knew, said Sir Norman Brookes to-day.
Does the honorable member for Balaclava assert that Sir Norman Brookes did not say that?
– I read his answer.
– The honorable member quibbles and shuffles on this issue as on every other. The report continues -
Prices had been held down so successfully that even if there was a slump abroad Australia could withstand it. “ If only we can realize what a wonderful position we are in now, and make the most of our opportunities, there should be no stopping us “, said Sir Norman. “ We can face th>future with the greatest optimism “.
That is not Labour propaganda. It ithe opinion of a captain of industry, a man associated with the Liberal party, whose ideas on many matters are the same as those of honorable members opposite. As a matter of fact, member? of his family have, in the past, stood a? candidates for the Nationalist party, the United Anstralia party, and the Liberal party in parliamentary elections. Si Norman returned to Australia determined to tell the truth, and all the moanings - to use his own classic expression - of honorable members opposite, will not fool the Australian people. They know that the economy of the country is sound. They know that there is full employment, and thai the people have plenty of money in the savings banks. The Australian people recognize that there are shortages, which are not due to unemployment, but . to a scarcity of material!: and man-power. Even the scarcity of materials is due, in the final analysis, to a scarcity of man-power. Australia has not enough people to do the work that needs to be done. Ii is in the paradoxical position of experiencing a depression in reverse. During the ‘ depression, there was plenty of labour, but there were not enough jobs, To-day there are plenty of jobs, but not enough men. If Sir Norman Brookes is right in saying that Australia can face the future with optimism, it must be because Australia has a good and honest Government. It would be impossible to face the future with optimism if a great many people were out of work, and there was undeserved destitution in the country-
– Did not the Prime Minister, speaking at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, voice a warning against the danger of another economic depression?
– He did, and everybody is concerned at the possibility of an economic depression. It remains true, however, that no other country has a? sound an economy as Australia. T df-
– The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) certainly benefited.
– Every honorable member opposite, who is a wealthy man, secured substantial benefits from the antiLabour governments that ruled and ruined Australia from 1932-33 until 1938-39. Remissions of land tax in that period totalled £8,700,000, and benefited principally the big landholders in the cities.
The Government’s so-called free -medicine scheme - that will certainly not he free - and other nonsensical socialistic extravagance -
I wonder whether the honorable member for Balaclava spoke for every other member of the Opposition. Did he speak for the Australian Country party when hp condemned the Government’s free medicine scheme as being socialistic and extravagant? Did he speak for the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) ? I ask those honorable members whether they are opposed to the free medicine scheme. On every possible occasion, the honorable member for Balaclava has attacked the scheme, misrepresented it and made all kinds of mendacious statements about it. When the Pharmaceutical Benefits Bill was before this chamber, he said -
I ask the propounders of this wonderful piece of legislation, who asked for it to be introduced? Have the people been clamouring for free bottles” of medicine, or is this one of the bright ideas emanating from the brains t.rust of the Labour party?
– That was a good speech.
Opposition members interjecting,
– I notice that other honorable members opposite are in agreement with those sentiments.
– The extract from my speech is the best part of the Minister’s speech to date.
– When the idiotic clamour of members of the Opposition dies down, I shall remind them of a little history. When the Banking Bill was before this chamber, I quoted verse 35, chapter 31, of the Book of Job -
Oh . . . that mine adversary had written a book.
I quoted that verse against the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) who wrote Bond Free, and then came in as a “ stooge “ for the financial institutions to oppose the Banking Bill. T also quoted it against the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), who wrote The Forgotten People, in which he attacked members of the Douglas Credit Movement, who were petitioning the Parliament. Later, the right honorable gentleman and his supporters went through the pantomime of presenting petitions to the Parliament . day after day for months, although, in his book, he had condemned that kind of action. I suggest that a good modern version of the verse would be -
Oh that mine adversary would appear on « newsreel.
Honorable members opposite have condemned free medicine. I have in my possession a newsreel which depicts Mr. R. G. Casey, in 1937, talking about the national health and pensions insurance scheme. It is a good picture. ] had a 16-mm. copy made of it and, with the permission of the President and Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall show it to any honorable members who desire to see it. Honorable members opposite are invited to attend the performance and admire the Adonis-like features of the federal leader of the Liberal party, gaze upon his sartorial excellence and listen to the mellifluous flow of his melodious voice. I am not able to imitate his voice. Nature deals differently with different people. Nature has made the honorable member for Balaclava handsome, hut it did not give him any brains. It gave the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) a sense of humour. It has not given me a good voice, or made me handsome, hut it has treated me much more generously in the supply of brains than it has treated most honorable members opposite. I invite them to listen to the words of Mr. Casey, because they are really intriguing and important. Mr. Casey said -
I much appreciate the opportunity of a minute or two’s talk to you because national insurance is going to make a tremendous change for the better in the homes of the working men and women of Australia.
Honorable members opposite should listen in breathless silence to the next sentence which is as follows : -
If you are a man working for under £7 a week, you will pay ls. 6d. a week and for that you will get free doctor and free medicine-
The honorable member for Balaclava declared that free medicine was socialistic and extravagant. Whoever would, have thought of calling Mr. Casey, of all people, a socialist? The commentary proceeded - and £1 while you are sick, and in addition, 3s. (id. a week for each child under the age of fifteen.
Just imagine the munificence of it! The commentary continued -
If you die, which I hope you don’t, then your widow will get 12s. (id. a week, plus 3s. Od. for each dependent child and she will get this for life or until she remarries.
Flow generous ! Those proposals were as far as the Liberal party in those days was prepared to go with its national health and pensions scheme. I do not propose to enumerate all the benefits that the Labour Government gives to the people for the payment of ls. 6d. a week. Incidentally, the social services contribution is not a flat rate, but is levied on a graduated scale. The Government does not pay 3s. 6d. a week in respect of each child under the age of fifteen years, but has raised the child endowment payment by 100 per cent, since assuming office. In addition, it has increased age pensions by more than 100 per cent. Expenditure on social security benefits now amounts to £74,000,000 per annum. By the time of the next election, about December, 1949, or January, 1950, we hope to be paying social services benefits at the rate of approximately £100,000,000 per annum to those persons in the community who need them. I pause to remark that the present Leader of the Opposition resigned from the Lyons Government because it would not put into operation the legislation for the national health scheme which Mr. Casey had sponsored and about which he boasted in his newsreel talk. The Leader of the Opposition probably left the Lyons Government because it would not introduce a free medicine scheme and a free doctor service which some honorable members opposite regard as socialistic and extravagant. The Government has never squandered money, but has been most careful with the people’s property. When honorable members opposite occupied the treasury bench, they squandered money to an extraordinary degree. There was the instance, small in itself, but indicative of the general mentality of the BrucePage Government, of a dog kennel being installed at the Prime Minister’s lodge at a cost of £28.
– A dog kennel could not be provided for £28 to-day.
– In that instance, public money was squandered. The kennel itself was too rich. The poor dog could not take it. He died in a fortnight. Anti-Labour governments in those day? did not provide any social service* for the man who was trying to rear a family. It amazes me that in a democracy like Australia, after 80 or 90 years of an educational system that is free, secular and compulsory, we should find any person in the community so lacking in intelligence as to vote for any honorable member opposite. It also amazes me that the Liberal party and the Australian Country party have any representation in this Parliament at all. The policy which the Labour Government is following is obviously the right policy for the people of Australia.
– The Liberal candidate polled only one vote out of every six in Denison at the last election.
– The Liberal party and the Australian Country party have hopes of being returned to the treasury bench at the next general election, but such ambitions are not likely to be realized. They play up to the press, as the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) did in his speech on the budget. His first words were to this effect, “ I read the leading article in the Daily Telegraph, and it is of the usual high standard of philosophic worth and literary skill to be found in that journal”. On the 1st May, 1940, he made a speech at a Rotary Club luncheon, which was also reported in that newspaper. It was his May Day speech. He said -
I am pleased to know that the Government proposes further to restrict the press. It is high time this was done. We have shown a great deal of tolerance in times gone by, but in time of war it is necessary to hand over the liberty of free speech to the Government.
Honorable members opposite say ohe thing when they are in office and another thing when they are out of office. Their memories are so short that they cannot catch up with themselves. I have told them on more than one occasion in this chamber that they remind me very much of the French Bourbons. They learn nothing and they forget nothing. All that they do is to tell the same series of lies, working on Goebbels’s technique that if you repeat a lie often enough yon will get people to believe it. They keep saying the same thing. They talk of socialism and communism, and of the designs that the Labour party has upon the liberties of the people. Because they have had the assistance of powerful media, because they have had the assistance of the films on some occasions, because they have been able to make use of the radio and press on other occasions, and because they have plenty of money to publish pamphlets, they have been able to fool quite a lot of people. That sort of thing, however, cannot go on for ever. They tell us of the Communist menace that is abroad and which has to be restrained. They say that the Government wants to do all sorts of things with insurance companies, banks, Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and so on. The fact is that we have no constitutional power to deal with any industries other than those which are enumerated in section 51 of the Constitution. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) recently visited the coal-fields of New South Wales with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), the right honorable gentleman said something which the press of Australia did not report, or, if it did report it, did so only in a very condensed form. The Prime Minister said on that occasion -
The Government does not intend to nationalize undertakings other than public utilities which it is satisfied can serve the people better if not controlled by private enter-, prise. We have not the power to nationalize mines, and there is no evidence that nationalization will help to improve the position. We have no intention of nationalizing things like rag shops and ice cream carts.
That statement by the Prime Minister of Australia was given little prominence by the newspapers of this country. It was a statement of government policy, and no amount of misrepresentation by honorable members opposite can change it. We passed legislation to nationalize the banks because they were trying to destroy the 1945 banking legislation which the people endorsed by their votes at the 1946 general election. Because the solicitor for the Melbourne City Council, which launched the attack on the Banking Act of 1945 in the High Court of Australia, happened, by the strangest coincidence in the world, also to be the secretary of the Victorian division of the Associated Banks of Australia, and because the challenge of the Melbourne City Council was directed, not only against the one section that the High Court declared to be invalid, but against the whole of the act, the Government decided to finish the banks in their present form before the banks finished the people of Australia in another depression. We are anxious to protect the people from depression, and the effects of depression. There are two ways in which that can be done. The first is by keeping a good government in office, and the second is by destroying the power of people who are not elected by anybody and are responsible only to shareholders to manipulate the credit of this country. Such people should not have the power to contract credit and cause deflation, or to increase the flow of credit and cause inflation. As I have said on several occasions, inflation and deflation arp both cumulative in their ill effects. They both lead to mass unemployment. Honorable gentlemen opposite, who are the champions of confusion and the creators of chaos, would do precisely the same things to-morrow, if they were back on the treasury bench, as they did in the years between 1916 and 1941. During that time, except for brief periods, they had an overwhelming majority in both houses of Parliament and could have prevented much of the misery that was inflicted on the people of Australia. They would not pass a bill through the Senate to create a fiduciary note issue of £18,000,000 for the purpose of financing the sale of wheat and for putting unemployed people to work in a scale which would have involved an estimated expenditure of £1,000,000 a month. They said that to do so would destroy the financial stability of Australia. Yet, when Australia was engaged in the last war, this Government used national credit to the amount of £147,000,000 to bridge the gap between expenditure and the amount of money that could be obtained from loans and taxes. The maximum amount that could be obtained from loans was raised, and income tax was increased to a maximum. time. There are shortages of wire and piping. Only lately has it been possible to obtain gates. There is also a shortage of wire netting. British and American firms are offering to send us wire made of aluminium and other materials, at all sorts of fantastic prices. Despite talk by the Government of full employment, there is practically “ empty “ production. The output of steel is only up to about 60 per cent. of the pre-war volume, and the requirements of the community are not being met.
The record of the Government is an absolutely deplorable one. Ministers have shown no signs of comprehending the needs of the community. If ever there was a time when the people should be up and praying, it is now. They should all pray for delivery from wickedness and sneers of this Government.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Holloway) read a first time.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Bank Act - Appointment - I. A. Butler.
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 117.
Customs Act -
Customs Proclamation - No. 723.
Regulations - Statutory Rules1948, No. 120.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948. No. 99 (substitute copy).
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 118.
Defence (Transitional Provisions)Act -
National Security (Enemy Property) Regulations - Order - Areas ceasing to be enemy territory or persons ceasing to be enemy subjects.
National Security (Food Control) RegulationsOrder - No. 34.
National Security (Prices ) Regulations -Orders- Nos. 3392-3408.
National Security (Rabbit Skins) Regulations - Order - Returns.
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Order - No. 155.
National Security (Tea Control) Regulations - Order - No. 9.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, Nos. 114, 121, 122.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 115.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes - South Plympton, South Australia.
Navigation Act - Regu lations - Statu tory Rules 1948, No. 112.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 113.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Regulations - 1948 -
No. 2 (Education Ordinance).
No. 3 (Building and Services Ordinance) .
Seat of Government Administration Act-
Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the Australian Capital Territory foryear 1947-48.
Services Trust Funds Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 110.
Trade Marks Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, No. 111.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1948, No. 119.
House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
The following answers to questions mere circulated: -
Search for Oil.
– If the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) ever wishes to retire from politics, no doubt he will travel to Switzerland like Edward Gibbon did. and commence his magnum opus on the decline and fall of the Australian Labour party. He is a great authority on history. He is always interesting, always amusing, sometimes exciting, and always wholly inaccurate. I shall deal with two or three of his inaccuracies to-night. He referred to the method by which loans were raised during the administration of previous governments. He named the Lyons. Menzies, Fadden, Bruce-Page and other governments, going hack over a period of many years ; but he failed to state the facts. I shall state them now. During the period to which he referred, there was the most complete freedom on the part of investors to put their money into government bonds, or into private business. Yet. he compared those days with more recent times when the Australian Government had an absolute stranglehold over all investments. We all know that unless the Advisory Committee on Capita! Issues approved a certain investment, it could not be made.
– It would have been impossible for Mr. Casey and myself to be here at the same time, as I now represent the electorate that he formerly held.
– But not the Minister’.friends, as I learned later.
– Not the the Department of Supply. The Departments of Shipping and Fuel are administered as one portfolio.
– And to New Guinea.
– An auctioneer would not find a man employment, or place him in a job for nothing.
– The Government could make some representations to the John Burke Line of Steamers about the matter.
Telephone Services - Junior Postal Officials.
g asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. An agreement was signed in New York, on the 3rd June, 1948, by Mr. J. D. L-. Hood, on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Mr. Julius Katz-Suchy, on behalf of Poland, for the supply without charge to the Government of Poland of Australian wool to the value of £A.250,000. The Government of Australia also agreed to pay in relation to this wool the cost of procurement, storage, transportation and shipping to the port of entry into Poland.
The requirements of wool for Poland and Czechoslovakia have not been fully met by imports during the past year, and it is most unlikely that any wool shipped to these countries has found its way to Russia.
Czechoslovakia and Poland have always been solid wool buyers from this country. To bear this point out, the following figures show the total weight of wool shipped to the abovementioned countries, for a period prior to World War II. and also for the two years after the war: -
Such wool will not be used for the maintenance of armed forces or any other military or similar purposes.
The wool provided in accordance wit.h this agreement is given and will be used for relief needs in accordance with the principle reaffirmed in Assembly Resolution 48 (1). (Resolution 48 (1) recognized that certain countries needed financial assistance to provide for imports of food and other basic essentials of life.)
y. - On the 16th September the honorable member for “Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) asked a question regarding a communication sent to the Council of Foreign Ministers by the Australian High Commissioner in London concerning Italian colonies.
I have looked into the matter anc! desire to inform the honorable member as follows: -
Tn sending ft telegram to the Council of Foreign Ministers requesting that a report of the Ministers’ Deputies should be transmitted to all interested governments and that the Australian Government should be given the opportunity to present its views direct to the council, Mr. Beasley was acting on the instructions of the Minister for External Affairs. The procedure adopted in send initios communication was the same as on previous occasions when the Government has communicated with the Council of Foreign Ministers or the Deputies on the question of the Italian colonies. These previous communications have also been sent by Mr. Beasley on the authorization of the Minister for External Affairs. The Australian Government has received no formal reply to this communication to the Council of Foreign Ministers. It is understood, however, that no interested governments other than the four major powers were given the opportunity of presenting their views to the Council of Foreign Ministers. The views of the Australian Government, however, were presented to the Deputies of the Foreign Ministers during the meeting which preceded the Paris session of the Council of Foreign Ministers. In authorizing the sending of this telegram the Minister for External Affairs has followed the consistent policy of ensuring that our views on questions on which we have earned the right to speak are given full consideration. Australian forces made an important contribution to the allied victory in North Africa and it is only right that full weight should be given to Australia’s views on the former Italian colonies in this area. Since the Council of Foreign Ministers has not reached an agreed solution the whole question will come before tho General Assembly for a recommendation.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
The destinations of the above exports are summarized as follows: -
House of Representatives.
Friday, 84 September 1948.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and rood prayers.
N.- I am in receipt of information which is causing me some concern. If it be true, it reveals a sorry state of affairs ; but if it be not true, the Prime Minister should be given an opportunity to refute it. Therefore, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether it is a fact that the names and addresses of applicants for permits for motor vehicles are passed on to the Commonwealth Bank by the Commonwealth authority controlling the issue of such permits? Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Bank is using this information to increase its car finance business? Is there any truth in the suggestion that the names of those who seek to purchase cars are also being sent by this Commonwealth authority to the Taxation Branch in order to enable its officers to make a check on the purchaser’s method of payment for a vehicle? Is it a fact that a list of 19,000 names has been passed on by the permit authority to the Commonwealth Bank? If so, does not the Prime Minister consider that this practice is in violation of the conditions applicable to the furnishing of confidential information, and is entirely unjustified?
D. - I have read the press report to which the Acting Leader of the Opposition has doubtless referred. That report is only partly true. There is no discrimination in favour of the Commonwealth Bank. Every motor distributing house has its own finance section and arranges its own group insurances, and the lists that were made available to the Commonwealth Bank were made available also to the State Chambers of Automotive Industries. They were all on an equal footing. What the complaint really amounts to is that prior to the Commonwealth Bank becoming interested in this form of business the finance corporations of the various motor distributors were charging 10 per cent, interest on advances in respect of second-hand cars and 8 per cent, interest on advances in respect of new cars. Since the Commonwealth Bank has come into the business, they have reduced their rates to 8 per cent, on advances in respect of second-hand cars and 6 per cent, on those in respect of new cars. But those interest charges are still much less favorable than the rates made available by the Commonwealth Bank itself, which charges a flat rate of interest of 4 per cent, on advances in respect of both new and second-hand cars. The bank also advances up to twothirds of the amount required and extends the repayment over a period of three years. The bank’s terms have become widely known to the people, and it is now writing up new business to the value of £700,000 each month. In order to show how favorably the scheme has been received by the public, I point out that I have been advised that even Liberal and Australian Country party members of this House have taken advantage of the terms offered.
G. - Has the attention of the Minister for Works and Housing been directed to the plight of 88 families, which are being evicted from Hargrave Park, near Liverpool, New South Wales, and that emergency accommodation for them is inadequate? Will he consider giving the families priority in the matter of accommodation ? Will the Government provide for these Australians hostels affording accommodation equal to that provided at Bathurst for newly-arrived immigrants?
Mr. LEMMON.- The provision of accommodation for persons in the situation described by the honorable member is the responsibility of the State Government. In the past, the attitude of the State authorities has always been generous and sympathetic, but, in the present instance, certain persons, influenced by Communists, have defied the Government, and have refused to pay any of the rent due by them. Because of their defiance, the State Government has taken action, which I fully support. It is strange that the honorable member for Reid, who is always attacking the Communists, should now take the part of persons whose defiance of the authorities has been inspired by Communists.
N.- I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question, and, by way of preface, I point out that I shall derive no pleasure from doing so. However, these are crucial times, and, bearing in mind the fact that so many men fought and died in defence of democracy, I am impelled to take this action. Can the Prime Minister say - 1. Whether Bishop Burgmann, who has been appointed an adviser to the Australian delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations in Paris, is the same Bishop Burgmann whose association with Communist bodies throughout the war was notorious? Is he the same man whose internment I said, when speaking in this House in 1941, might be necessary in view of his encouragement of the Communists antirecruiting campaign? 2. Is he the same Bishop Burgmann whose name appears in the official list of officers of the AustralianRussian Society for 1948, as one of the three patrons of the society, the other two being Ilya Ehrenburg, an official head of the Soviet Union Foreign Propaganda Bureau, and Dr. Hewlett Johnson, who was recently banned from entry into the United States of America because of his Communist associations? 3. In view of the fact that the Anglo-Russian Society has recently been declared by the executive of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party to be a Communist body, with which Labour party members must not associate, will he inform the House whether Dr. Burgmann has resigned his office in the Australian Russian Society, and repudiated its doctrines? 4. If not, how does he reconcile the bishop’s appointment as an Australian official adviser to the Australian delegation, with the alleged principles of the Government, and the ruling of the Australian Labour party?
Mr. CHIFLEY.- I know nothing of the subject about which the honorable member has asked so many questions, but I do know that Bishop Burgmann is a very distinguished prelate of the Church of England, and a very distinguished scholar. My own impression is that he is held in high esteem by the people of Australia, both as an ecclesiastic and as a scholar. The honorable member can address his other questions to other sources.
N- My question relates to such men, and women if there were any, as were called back to the Public Service during World War II., although they had passed the age of retirement. They did not seek re-employment with the Commonwealth, but were informed that their services were needed owing to the war-time state of emergency. I have been told that, in some instances, at least a part of the pensions rightly owing to those persons under the terms of the Superannuation Act was withheld. I ask the Prime Minister whether that information is correct. Should not steps be taken to ensure that every retired public servant v/ho was required to return for service in Commonwealth departments shall receive the full amount of the pension due to him at the date of his retirement according to the terms of the Superannuation Act and irrespective of the salary paid to him for his extra service? If the act does not clearly define the position of persons recalled to work after the retiring age owing to a state of emergency, will the Prime Minister arrange to have it amended?
Mr. CHIFLEY.- The question refers to certain retired public servants who were brought back to do special classes of work during the war. The rule in the Public Service has always been that, in such circumstances, the superannuation which would normally be payable shall be reduced to the amount actually contributed by the officer to the superannuation fund - usually about 50 per cent. The portion of the pension normally provided by the Commonwealth, through the Superannuation Board, is not paid during such period of re-employment. That principle has been upheld by all governments, ff effect were given to the honorable member’s suggestion, any re-employed person in the Public Service would receive not only a full salary, but also a full superannuation payment, probably half of which would be provided by the Commonwealth. Proposals of that nature have been rejected by all governments. There have been many representations on this matter, but there is no likelihood of any change being made at present. In some instances, a great deal more than 50 per cent, of the superannuation payments made to retired officers is contributed by the Commonwealth. This is the result of the comparatively recent inauguration of the superannuation scheme. Some retired officers draw more than 70 per cent, of their superannuation payments from. Consolidated Revenue. Of course this will not happen in later years, as the age groups have changed over the period since the inauguration of the scheme. In the light of the circumstances which I have outlined, it would not be reasonable to expect the Govern ment to pay a re-employed officer a full salary as well as a large proportion of his superannuation payment.
E. - I ask the Minister for the Interior to inform me whether the Government has yet decided on the method of distributing the new ration books? If it has, will he inform me whether the distribution will be made through post offices or through electoral offices? If the Minister has decided to utilize the electoral offices, will the new ration books be issued at polling booths? I seek this information because several of my constituents have written to me on the subject?
Mr. JOHNSON. - At the moment, no final decision has been made, but the matter has been the subject of discussion between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Trade and Customs. It is expected that a decision will be arrived at early next week, and it will then be communicated to the honorable member.
N. - I desire t0 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel a question relating to the shipping service to the port of Gladstone. Previously, representations were made for the establishment of a reasonable service to that port, and it was considered some time ago that arrangements had been made to provide at least one ship a month for that purpose. I am now informed that no steamer has serviced Gladstone since May, and that in the intervening period, there have been at least four services to similar ports on the coast of Queensland. At present, Delamere, which is a government-owned vessel under charter to the John Burke Line of Steamers, is loading in Sydney, and should leave within a fortnight for Brisbane and Rockhampton. There are about 300 tons of cargo available in Sydney for shipment to Gladstone. Will the Minister immediately make every possible effort to influence those in control of Delamere to include a call at that the price of wheat will fall considerably this year. Undoubtedly, that will vitally affect the basis of Australia’s economy, and therefore, the Government must give serious consideration to that fact. Unfortunately, extraordinary ignorance exists among our metropolitan population of the real basis of our economy. Australia is still essentially a primary producing country ; and if the source of our prosperity is suddenly affected by developments adverse to our primary industries, the whole facade of our secondary industries will topple over. We are now beginning to manufacture complete motor cars in this country. We are told that Australia has grown up industrially. The motor car manufacturing industry will provide employment for approximately 9,000 people. One can imagine what will happen to that industry should overseas prices for primary products suddenly fall. In that event, widespread unemployment would be inevitable, because I recollect that whereas prior to the depression up to 70,000 cars were being sold annually in Australia, that number decreased to only 4,000 annually during the depression.
At present, we have flowing into the country thousands of migrants, and a great deal of capital which is coming here because of the fear of a socialized Britain. Industries are still calling out for man-power, and new industries are being established throughout the Commonwealth. Yet the fact is that the only market that is available to our secondary industries is in the main the domestic market. That is the situation we must face. Indeed, it is recognized in a veiled sort of way in the budget which contains just a hint of a warning that everything is not just right in Australia. I believe that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) will agree with me when I say that, if Australia is to avert a recession, we must increase our population. It is obvious that 7,000,000 people cannot provide an adequate market for the output which our secondary industries are striving to produce. We need to increase our population in order to enlarge the domestic market. I am always prepared to give commendation where it is due, and, in passing, I acknowledge the impetus which the Minister is giving to immigration. I do not know whether he views the Australian economy as I do. However, he will admit that we need to increase our population not only to make this country more secure against possible aggression but also to strengthen our economy. Failure to increase our population will imperil not only our economy but also the whole system of social services which the Government is now attempting to establish. I believe that that system already shows signs of weakness. An increase of our population is the answer to all these problems. By that means we can continue to expand our secondary industries and maintain a reasonably high standard of living, particularly if people realize that if they want a bigger loaf, they must themselves provide it.
Dealing with immigration on previous occasions I have emphasized the necessity to assimilate non-British migrants in our communities. That can best be done by maintaining an English language press solely and common schools where English is the main language. During the recent war, I asked the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) how many newspapers were published in foreign languages in this country. I sought that information as the result of what I saw in the United States of America when I visited that country about ten years ago. In America, large communities of foreigners, whose total numbers run into millions, have completely retained their nationality through the publication of newspapers in their own languages. I said to myself at the time that I hoped I would never see such a state of affairs in Australia. However, the Minister for External Affairs did not reply to my question in the ordinary way. He gave me a confidential reply, and, for that reason, it was not published in Hansard as replies to questions asked upon notice usually are.I have not that reply with me at the moment, but I was astounded at the number of foreign language newspapers which . I was informed were circulating in this country at that time. I have no objection to foreign nationals in this country receiving journals from the countries of their origin; but I emphasize that we
T - My question to the Prime Minister is prompted by the recent announcement that the Goverment is considering submitting to the Parliament a proposal that pensions shall be paid to ex-members of the Parliament. Before the House is asked to consider that proposal, will the right honorable gentleman appoint a committee to consider the whole basis of payments to war widows, totally and permanently incapacitated exservicemen, and blinded ex-servicemen?
Mr. CHIFLEY- All that has occurred in relation to the provision of retiring allowances for members of the Parliament is that the Parliamentary Labour party has approved of the principle and has referred to Cabinet the task of preparing a report and making an appropriate recommendation. The general principles of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act were formulated by a joint parliamentary committee, of which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was chairman and on which several honorable members opposite served very efficiently.
Y.- I agree that the increase or otherwise of the payments which are made under the act are questions which have been determined by the Government since then, but the general principles of the act were decided by the committee to which I have referred. It is not likely that at this stage the Government will agree to the setting up of another joint parliamentary committee to consider payments. However, the honorable gentleman’s ‘ question will receive consideration.
Mr. WHITE. - I preface my question by stating that, although the Prime iinister and Treasurer said in the course of his recent budget speech that pensions, including war pensions, would be increased by approximately 10 per cent., apparently it is intended to increase by only 5s. a week the pensions payable to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, who’ are physically incapable of supplementing their pension by earning money. Such an increase -would represent an effective in- crease to them of only 5 per cent. Will the Prime Minister examine the legislation which the Government proposes to introduce so as to ensure that the proportionate increase of the pensions payable to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen will be at least equal to that made to the pensions of civilians and other classes of ex-servicemen?
– In the budget speech which I delivered some reference was made to an increase of pensions by approximately 10 per cent., and I believe that the Minister for Repatriation, who is more conversant with the details of the proposed increases than I am, has placed before the House full information about the increases. Whilst, generally speaking, the proposals which are incorporated in the budget, which is now before honorable members, will be implemented in their present form in the legislation which has been introduced, I shall ask my colleague to re-examine the matter in order to ensure that there are no extraordinary anomalies.
N. - Local authorities in the country districts of Queensland are desperately short of road-graders. Will the Minister for Works and Housing review the present policy with regard to the granting of import licences for engines to be used in road-graders of the caterpillar type? I am informed that during this year only seven of these engines will be allocated to Queensland. I suggest to the Minister-
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER. - Is the honorable member making a speech or asking a question?
– I am trying to explain the matter clearly so that the Minister will understand it. Will the Minister consider granting licences for the importation into Queensland of fourteen or fifteen of these engines instead of seven, so that at least the most deserving cases may be dealt with? Import licences are necessary only for the engine, because the -remainder of the machine is built in Australia.
Mr. LEMMON. - In consultation with the Minister for Trade and Customs. I shall consider the points which have been raised by the honorable member and inform him of our decision.
Y. - On a number of occasions I have received representations concerning youths who enlist in the Royal Australian Navy at eighteen years of age for twelve years, which means that they are bound to serve until they are 30 years of age. The young men are afraid that when they are discharged they will find their employment opportunities restricted compared with those of members of the civil population. In the absence of the Minister for the Navy, I ask the Minister for Defence whether the Government will consider introducing six-year terms of enlistment as well as .twelve-year terms? Will the Minister give consideration to expanding opportunities for technical, trade, and professional training for seamen as an inducement to enlistment without forfeiting future security? Is the Minister satisfied that the present navy system gives adequate promotional opportunities to the lower deck?
Mr. DEDMAN. - It is true that men enlisting in the Navy are required to serve for twelve years. The period of enlistment was given full consideration by the Minister for the Navy and the Naval Board before a decision was made on it. However, I am quite sure that the Minister and the Department of the Navy will be prepared to review the situation to ascertain whether anything can be gained by reducing the minimum period of service from twelve to six years. At present there is a wide variety of trades and occupations in which men may attain proficiency during their service in the Navy, but again I assure the honorable member that if the Minister can find any method of widening the scope of the technical training of navy personnel to place them in a better position to compete for civilian work upon their discharge, he will be prepared to adopt it. I shall ask the Minister to consider the matters raised by the honorable member, and to supply him with full information on the subject.
E. - Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 wish to ask you a question arising out of an incident which occurred in the House yesterday. When the honorable member for New England, in the course of a personal explanation, sought to move that a certain document–
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER. - Order ! What is the honorable member’s question?
– I can scarcely indicate the (purport of the question without reminding you of the incident that occurred.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER.- Order ! That matter was dealt with yesterday under a ruling of the Chair.
– That is not the matter to which I am referring. You will recall that a certain incident occurred.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER. - I have a faint recollection of it.
– I am sure you have. After you had ruled against the honorable member for New England, he moved dissent from your ruling, and his motion was seconded, I understand, by the honorable member for Warringah. The honorable member for New England walked up to you and handed you a paper on which he had written his motion of dissent.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER. - Order ! I understand that the honorable member wants to ask a question. He must do so now or resume his seat.
– My question now follows : Having presented the paper to you. nothing further was done on that motion-
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER-Order! The honorable member will resume his seat.
e. - I rise to a point of order. I take exception to the fact, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that while I was in the middle of asking a question relating to the absence of any reference to a certain matter from to-day’s notice-paper, you ordered me to sit down. I submit that-
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER.- Order ! The honorable member for Parramatta will resume his seat. The honorable member did not, as he says, proceed to ask any question at all. He obtained the call so that he could ask a question, but he proceeded to make a statement and he knows that he is not entitled to make any lengthy statement in such circumstances. He may make a very brief statement in order to make his position clear. I warned the honorable member twice that he was proceeding on a lengthy dissertation, which the rules of the House did not allow, and as he continued in that strain I ordered him to resume his seat.
– Did the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture see a recent article in the Sydney Sun in which a Dutch businessman, Mr. J. H. Monti, claimed that Japan was capturing Australian trade in the East, notably in hardware and textiles? Can the Minister say whether this is a fact, and, if so, what steps can and will be taken to set the matter right?
Mr. POLLARD. - I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred, but I know that at present every surplus export food commodity produced in Australia is in demand, to a greater extent than Australia is able to supply it, by the United Kingdom and by dollar areas.
D.- Hold your mug! Why does not the honorable member for the Northern Territory learn decent manners ?
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER. - Order ! The honorable member for the Northern Territory must remain silent.
– In addition, Australia has adequate export markets in the Bast and has a token trade there which will be a valuable factor in the future, when Australia may have a substantially greater surplus to send overseas to markets other than the United Kingdom and dollar areas.
l.– By £26,000,000.
– As far as I can see the reduction is to be aproximately £22,000,000 in this financial year. However, assuming the Minister’s figure to be correct, all that the Treasurer proposes to give away is what he has already taken away by other means. Thus, there is to be no real reduction of taxes. The Treasurer also proposes to increase the rate of payment in respect of certain . social services ; but, strange as it may seem, the only recipients of social service benefits who will not receive the proposed 10 per cent, increase are blinded and totally disabled exservicemen. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked a very pertinent question on that subject a few minutes ago which deserves a much more complete answer than that given by the Treasurer. These concessions are to be granted only to r&store the purchasing value of the benefits to what it was in the past. If costs are deliberately increased by the withdrawal of subsidies, the whole structure of social service benefits is undermined. All that the Treasurer proposes to do is to endeavour to restore to some degree the purchasing value that has been lost. How is this proposal portrayed in the budget? Approximately £14,000,000 will be required to meet the additional cost of social services; but the Treasurer proposes to balance his budget in this respect by raising a loan of approximately £17,000,000. In other words, additional social service payments are to be met from loan money and, on the face of it, no attempt is made in thi? budget to meet expenditure out of revenue. Having regard to the fact that the Treasurer presented a balanced budget last year, and taking into account the surface prosperity in the community, this budget is most unsound. On the surface it appears that, in a period of boom conditions, the Treasurer proposes to resort to the loan market in orde to balance his budget; but we all are aware of the actual position. This year the Government will reap the benefit of the record cheques that came to Australia last year from the sale of our surplus wool, wheat and other exportable commodities. These returns will flow into this year’s .budget. These moneys not only circulate among those personally interested but also throughout the community with the result that in the current year the Treasurer will receive additional revenue. The budget throughout is a masterpiece of deception. In fact the Treasurer proposes to give away nothing beyond what he will save by the withdrawal of subsidies. In the light of known facts- he anticipates a greatly enhanced revenue, which, I have no doubt, will bc distributed to all and sundry in an endeavour to buy votes to ensure the Government’s return to office at the next general election.
There is no national outlook in thi.Government. The approach to the budget is - “ How does it affect me ? “. As long as the country is governed along those lines there will not be any real stimulus to production. Only by an increase of production can inflation be. prevented in this country. For some considerable time I have taken a. keen interest in Australia’s production of foodstuffs and, to a lesser degree, gold and base metals. I am personally interested in primary production and there are large gold-producing areas within my electorate. Wool figures are up this year, and we had a record wheat crop, but in nearly all other instances the1 production of commodities which contribute to the wealth of the nation has fallen. The production, of meat, products has declined, and the decrease of butter production is alarming. According to the last figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician, dated the 14th September,, 1947, the production of sugar has fallen. Gold, which is one of the greatest “ dollar-spinners “ we could’ have, is alarmingly down, as also is silver. Lead is down, and copper production is at a low level. The figures do not indicate a very satisfactory state of affairs in this country. They certainly do not indicate that great prosperity exists, or that the social services provisions in Australia are on. a very secure and permanent basis. If honorable members were to examine the figures relating to most of our other in?dustries also, they would find that production is lower because the output per man-hour is lower.
N.- There- is no need for one to go to the coal-mines, or to the wharfs-, or to- an art gallery, to see exhibitions of still-life. Evidence of that state of affairs can be seen at the rear of Parliament House, where extensions are in course of erection.
N.- Yes; but it is the Minister’s job to do. it, not mine.
N”.- If the Minister would have a look through the window near the job he would gain an idea of what is happening in every avenue of industry in this country.
Let me now come to another subject which I shall call “ Whither Australia “. After World War I. there was a great boom in secondary industries in this country. Such conditions obtained until 1922-23 when, to prevent our industries from collapsing, there was a universal cry for protection. Such a cry is again being heard in certain industries to-day. Nearly all industries in this country were given very substantial protection. Indeed, without it many of the industries established during World War I. would have been forced to close their doors and dispense with their employees. Later, in 1927, the burden of that protection was. estimated at 8 per cent, of the. income- of our export, industries. Subsequently, export values felL and we experienced what is now known asthe great depression. Prices of our primary products overseas collapsed andour secondary industries depended almost entirely upon the domestic- market. The position was that a ruined agriculture was carrying an 8 per cent, burden of secondary protection. In. the recent war, our secondary industries experienced much, the same conditions as they experienced, in World War I. Many new . industries were, established and the developmental process is still going on. Hundreds of thousands more men have gone into secondary industries. However, whilst we have opened up some new markets, for our exports, our secondary industries again find, themselves mainly dependent upon, the small domestic market provided by a population of 7,000,000. Avenues for exports were opened up particularly in countries to the north of Australia, but those markets have been substantially curtailed, if not completely lost, as the result of Communist activities, of which this Government seems to have no idea. I believe that some of those avenues have been closed to us for ever. Therefore, in the main, our secondary industries are again limited to the domestic market. At present, high prices are being realized for wool, wheat and other products: Ordinary fine comeback wool is fetching £90 a bale, an unprecedented price; whilst wheat is fetching from 18s. to £1 a bushel. I doubt whether those products will again realize such high prices for many years. Our primary industries at present are able to bear the excess costs resulting from world conditions and that are involved in maintaining the existing measure of protection afforded to our secondary industries, simply because overseas prices for primary products are so high. But what will happen when those prices fall ? The price of wool is already on the decline. The United States of America has had’ a record wheat crop, and several European countries, following a series1 of severe droughts,, anticipate fairly good harvests this season. Although .there is still a wide and unsatisfied demand for all sorts of foodstuffs, it can confidently be forecast that the price of wheat will fall considerably this year. Undoubtedly,that will vitally affect the basis of Australia’s economy, and, therefore, the Government must give serious consideration to thatfact. Unfortunately, extraordinary ignorance exists among our metropolitan population of the real basis of our economy. Australia is still essentially a primary producing country; and if the source of our prosperity is suddenly affected by developments adverse to our primary industries, the whole facade of our secondary industries will topple over. We are now beginning to manufacture complete motor cars in this country. We are told that Australia has grown up industrially. The motor car manufacturing industry will provide employment for approximately 9,000 people. One can imagine what will happen to that industry should overseas prices for primary products suddenly fall. In that event, widespread unemployment would be inevitable, because I recollect that whereas prior to the depression up to 70,000 cars were being sold annually in Australia, that number decreased to only 4,000 annually during the depression.
At present, we have flowing into the country thousands of migrants, and a great deal of capital which is coming here because of the fear of a socialized Britain. Industries are still calling out for man-power, and new industries are being established throughout the Commonwealth. Yet the fact is that the only market that is available to our secondary industries is in the main the domestic market. That is the situation we must face. Indeed, it is recognized in a veiled sort of way in the budget which contains just a hint of a warning that everything is not just right in Australia. I believe that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) will agree with me when I say that, if Australia is to avert a recession, we must increase our population. It is obvious that 7,000,000 people cannot provide an adequate market for the output which our secondary industries are striving to produce. We need to increase our population in order to enlarge the domestic market. I am always prepared to give commendation where it is due, and, in passing, I acknowledge the impetus which the Minister is giving to immigration. I do not know whether he views the Australian economy as I do. However, he will admit that we need to increase our population not only to make this country more secure against possible aggression but also to strengthen our economy. Failure to increase our population will imperil not only our economy but also the whole system of social services which the Government is now attempting to establish. I believe that that system already shows signs of weakness. An increase of our population is the answer to all these problems. By that means we can continue to expand our secondary industries and maintain a reasonably high standard of living, particularly if people realize that if they want a bigger loaf, they must themselves provide it.
Dealing with immigration on previous occasions I have emphasized the necessity to assimilate non-British migrants in our communities. That can best be clone by maintaining an English language press solely and common schools where English is the main language. During the recent war, I asked the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) how many newspapers were published in foreign languages in this country. I sought that information as the result of what I saw in the United States of America when I visited that country about ten years ago. In America, large communities of foreigners, whose total numbers run into millions, have completely retained their nationality through the publication of newspapers in their own languages. I said to myself at the time that I hoped I would never see such a state of affairs in Australia. However, the Minister for External Affairs did not reply to my question in the ordinary way. He gave me a confidential reply, and, for that reason, it was not published in Hansard as replies to questions asked upon notice usually are.I have not that reply with me at the moment but I was astounded at the number of foreign language newspapers which . I was informed were circulating in this country at that time. I have no objection to foreign nationals in this country receiving journals from the countries of their origin; but I emphasize that we must keep the press of this nation an English language press. That will not cause harm to anybody, but will be of the greatest benefit to the nation.
N.- That is a big step forward, but I should go farther. Let us also see that the children of foreign parents are brought into our schools. When I was iri South Australia recently, V was informed, to my amazement, that in certain areas there are many persons, Australian-born of the fifth generation, who cannot speak one word of English.
N.- I was told that they are not so rare, though I do not say that there are thousands of them. We recognize that we must have more population if we are to maintain our economy, hut we should ensure that the new-comers and their children are taught in our schools, and learn the English language.
N. - In a matter of this kind, the general policy should be directed by the Commonwealth. If necessary, the State authorities could be assisted by Commonwealth grants, but 1 do not think that will be needed.
N.- I mentioned the matter as an example of what has happened in the past, and which should not be allowed to happen again.
I wish to emphasize the importance of increasing our food production in proportion to the increase of population. Last year, I obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician certain figures relating to food production in Australia, because I wished to learn what were the possibilities of increasing production in order to meet the needs of a larger population, and also, if possible, to increase our exports. It is important that we should export more food so as to help the people of Great Britain. The figures are rather alarming. For 1945-46, the production of meat in Australia was little more than enough to feed our present population, plus 1,000,000 adults. Many people have the idea that there is a tremendous surplus of primary products, that we could bring in millions of people and still have plenty of food for them. The sooner they get that out of their minds the better, because it is not true. If the population were increased by 1,000,000 adults the consequent diversion of whole milk from butter-making - and, thank, God, we are becoming a milk-drinking people - would seriously curtail the production of butter. It is true that 1945-46. the year for which the figures were taken out, followed one of the worst droughts in the history of Australia, but. when making an investigation of this kind, it is not wise to base one’s calculations on a year when production was at its highest. For the years after 1946-47. production was somewhat higher, but the position is still unsatisfactory. Even now, we are exporting only 25 per cent, of the meat we produce. In other words, we are consuming approximately 75 per cent, of it. Thus, if the population were to increase by 1,500,000 adults, we should consume practically all the food we produced and exports would diminish almost to vanishing point. We cannot view with equanimity the present situation in regard to butter production. It is necessary that we should increase exports if we are to make provision for the support of a larger population and, at the same time, establish credits overseas. Recently, I obtained some information from the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom about food imports into Great. Britain, before the war. I wished to learn how we could help Britain .by supplying food which .that country is at present buying from dollar areas. I learned that, of Britain’s total meat imports, only 8 per cent, came from Australia. Empire countries supplied Britain with 13,000,000 cwt. :of meat, as against 18,000,000 cwt. from foreign countries, mostly those in the .dollar areas. Obviously, therefore, w.e must greatly increase the production of meat if we are to supply Britain with the meat it is now buying from the United States of America and Argentina. The predominant concern of any Australian government must be to increase the production of food, and that will not be easy. We have no great mountain ranges and few great rivers. We have a large area of good soil, but it is not of much use without water. Let us by all means expand secondary industries and improve transport facilities, but our first concern should be to develop the agricultural resources of the country. That is essential so that we may feed our own population, help the people of Britain, and improve our economy.
What is most needed in Australia today is a change of outlook on the part of the people. There is far too much cynicism, especially among young people. This may be in some measure due to the experience of two world wars in so short a time, but cynicism really indicates a lack of confidence and self-reliance. Such a lack is manifest in many quarters today. There is also the frustration that many young people feel when they try to establish themselves in life. This, in turn, comes back to the question of taxation of companies and persons. .It is almost impossible to-day for young men to .establish a business out of ‘their savings. The truth is that the Treasurer does not leave them enough. The situation calls .for spiritual and moral readjustment and a recasting of .our way of : thinking so as to re-establish our confidence and self-reliance. .Pressure should be maintained :on the Government :to pursue .a policy that will provide conditions which -will ‘provide ‘good opportunities in life for coming generations. Of course, the policy of a socialist government may be .to :keep the people always subservient «nd to withhold from individuals opportunities ‘to .save sufficient to enable them to engage in enterprises of their own. Whether .that be so or not, the fact itthat disillusionment is prevalent throughout the community to-day, which explains the general lack of pride in work and in institutions and the absence of a high moral code in public life. We must restore these things if Australia is to be worthy of its heritage. Anybody who has visited the United States, of America must have been impressed by the vigor and spirit of enterprise evident in that country. A similar spirit could well be infused into Australian life. I know that there are many extremes of good and bad in America, but there is power and energy in the American way of life. Even the trade unions, although. they demand high wages as Australian unionists do, encourage hard work. They know that only by means of increased production can high wages be maintained. This vigour is evident everywhere. Workers in new factories give the impression of straining at the leash. “ Let’s go “ is the slogan throughout the United States of America, in factories, fields and shops. The motive may be desire for personal reward, but the resultant benefits spread throughout the nation. We must recreate the same psychology in Australia and destroy the dangerous idea that an honest day’s toil should not be done. We must encourage pride in the excellence of fine work and, above all, we must learn -to see ourselves in proper perspective. Our young country is capable of sustaining a population of 30,000,000 or 40^000,000 on the highest standard of living in .the world. People want to come here from other countries and, unless another .world war intervenes, they will come here. Vast opportunities for advancement await those with enterprise and self-reliance. We must teach the people that the development of our country offers great rewards to all who are prepared to express themselves in mental and physical activity. The sooner we adopt the American slogan, “Let’s go “, the better will it ‘be for all Australians, whether young or old.
n. - Are the coal-miners giving maximum production?
– If the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) were given the opportunity, he would march the coalminers to work at the point of a bayonet, and stand over them. He has broad acres but a narrow mind. He would force men to work, but that method would not increase production. Of course, Australian industries are dependent on coal. The honorable member for Bendigo has not the brains to think of better incentives than the bayonet or hunger to induce the coal-miners to increase their output. Ill-informed people, who condemn the coal-miners, usually do not know what coal-mining entails, the conditions under which the men work underground and the effect that employment in the industry has on their health. Would the honorable member deny to the sons of miners the right to leave the industry and. settle on the land so that, after a few years, they could sit back at ease as he and I do? We do not meet. any danger in our occupation, and wc shall probably live to a ripe old age under healthy conditions. If the honorable member and other people like him worked to improve the conditions of the miners, Australia would have adequate supplies of coal, because the miners would be contented, as the employees of the Hume Pipe Company (Australia) Limited are contented. I propose to read some extracts from an article which was published in the supplement to the Argus on the 28th August last. The author is Mr. Rupert Charlett, who describes conditions in the coal mines of Holland. The article reads -
The State has taken a hand not only in planning mines for safety, mechanizing them, and providing better working conditions, but in ensuring that there is nothing comparable to the “ black country “ of the English coalfields. The planning extends even to miners’ homes, which in most areas are a series of “ garden villages “.
That description could not be applied to any of the coal-fields in Australia. The article continues -
State intervention in the Dutch coal industry - four of the twelve Dutch mines arc
Suite-owned and produce 58 per cent, of all Holland’s coal - dates from 1913. From that time the Dutch Mining Council planned for long-range operations and for the training of specialists to operate its mechanized mines.
Machines were introduced where possible not only to speed production, but to reduce exacting manual toil in the confined spaces of the pits. And along with its mechanization plans the council introduced an interesting innovation - a “school for miners”, which not only trains them to handle the new machines but to become mine managers. It is not merely h technical school, for part of its time is given to general education courses.
It has helped to make Dutch coal mines the safest in the world by ensuring that all workers are thoroughly trained in the operation of their machines, and are conversant with safety codes. By raising the men’s general educational standards, it has enabled them to have a more intelligent “ say “ in the management of their own industry,, and in particular has given able men every opportunity to graduate to executive positions. And it lias had this extra result: While the great coal-mining countries have become desperately short of workers, because miners have refused to allow their sons to go into the dirty, exacting and dangerous work of mining coal, the Dutch mines have plenty of “ recruits “ - and from miners’ families, too. Privatelyowned mines soon adopted the State’s innovations. Before youths are permitted to work in the pits they spend four hours a day on practical and theoretical training in a “ model “ mine, so that they can get the ‘. feel “ of pit work, and become accustomed to equipment, and the safety codes and signals. Most boys do not work underground until they have attended the school for three years. They spend half of each school day in the “ model “ mine and workshops, the other half of the day being devoted to general education. Nothing is overlooked in training tomorrow’s miners. They even take a special course of gymnastics so that they will be agile in low and confined spaces. Before they arc allowed to work underground they must pass a strict medical test. They work under the care of “ mine fathers “ until they gain “’ pit sense “. Their first jobs are as “ wheelers “, but this is a misnomer, as all skips and pit ponies long ago gave way to conveyor belts, chutes and underground trains in Dutch mines. ‘ After two years the recruit may become an assistant hewer, and at 23 he may enter for the examination of hewer. Once he passes this examination he may enrol for a four-year course for mine manager. For the first two years he must study after work, but in the second two he works only half shifts, spending the remainder of the shifts at school. All this time he receives full wages.
Butch coal mines have the lowest accident rate in the world, due not only to intelligent planning of the mines themselves, and to the specialized training of the miners, but to the extra supervision - twelve inspectors for every 32,000 miners, compared to ten for every 80,000 men in British coal mines. In addition, mine managements retain five additional inspectors, appointed by the miners themselves, who are paid by the managements. They protect underground workers not only from accidents, but from the “ dust “ menace-the cause of dreaded coal mine explosions and of silicosis. Despite the virtual non-existence of this disease, all underground workers are given an X-ray examination every three years. The “ clean “ record of Dutch mines applies to accidents as well as industrial disputes, as the following international figures indicate: -
d. - The Opposition parties have all the criminal exporters hanging on to them.
– The Minister ‘ talks of criminals ; I remind him that the Labour Premier of Queensland has been negotiating with the Communists. He cannot refute the charge, which was confirmed by the statement of a Communist leader of the Waterside WorkersFederation, who admitted that he was privileged to negotiate with the Prime Minister and that the Premier of Queensland had agreed to release those men and upset the law for which he himself was responsible. The Premier, likewise, did not bring a number of others to justice. That indicates that the Labour party is unable to state truthfully that it is free from any connexion with the Communists. A Labour government has given them preference even to the extent of breaking its own laws and allowing Communists to evade justice.
I turn now to the subject of interest rates. The establishment of the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank under the guidance of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), when a member of a previous government, shows the Australian Country party’s attitude toward - interest rates. As early as 1934 that department made interest rates as low a? 3^ per cent, to assist the primary producers. In J uly, 1940, according to the . Commonwealth Bank’s own records the interest rate was further reduced to Z( per cent. No reduction has occurred since that date with the exception that interest, in the case of a government guarantee, is 3J per cent., but the rate which the Commonwealth Bank charges is still the same as that which the Liberal government introduced.
The budget stands condemned on the following grounds: It makes no effective contribution to the welfare of the ‘ people; the cost of living has been increased as a consequence of the Government’s policy; the inflationary conditions have been aggravated by that policy; the increased benefits in social services provided in the budget, although warranted, will not be equivalent to the ever-rising costs of living; production in primary industry, as a basic factor in our economy, receives no assistance to obtain supplies of machinery or labour by the budget proposals; it is unstable, as its estimates are dependent upon the maintenance at their present levels of prices received for the export of commodities, particularly wheat and wool.
I shall deal with those grounds in turn. The Treasurer estimated that tax reductions in this financial year would amount to £20,000,000, but at the same time he has withdrawn £26,000,000 which would have been distributed in subsidies on commodities. According to statement No. 2 in the budget, the actual revenue received in last year’s taxation collections was £465,000,000. The estimated revenue for this year is £509,000,000, an increase of approximately £44,000,000. That shows that the people are being taxed more heavily. How effective the tax cuts are is also shown by the fact that after they came into operation the. average tax per head of the population will still be £21 1 6s. 4d., which is only 7d. less than the average during the previous year, and £1 5s. 4d. greater than the 1946-47 average. The average amount collected in income tax which stood at £18 9s. 4d. per head in 1946-47, will be £19 9s. 4d. on the latest estimate. In effect, over-all tax collections are to be increased. This ever-hungry Treasurer is determined to break his previous continuity of records in getting more and more money, year after year, from the people.
Turning now to the cost of living, it is obvious that- the withdrawal of subsidies on items affecting it must necessarily cause increases in prices. In reply to the honorable member for Wannon I say that that is not a direct result of the loss of the recent referendum or the return of price control powers to the States, but is due to the deliberate action of the Treasurer in withdrawing subsidies, increasing taxes, and passing on increased costs to the producers of this country. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has broken faith with the people. The honorable member stated that the Opposition had broken faith by making lying statements. I throw that assertion back in his teeth. Every honorable member on the Opposition side can at least claim to have as much respect for his character as the members of the government side have for theirs. Opposition members can stand up to the statements they made to the people during the referendum campaign, in which they pointed out the power which the Government had taken unto itself by the National Emergency Act, and which it could have retained until the end of the present year. The Government has thrown that act overboard because the people did not vote to suit it at the referendum. Incidentally, the Opposition, also gave the Government an assurance that it. would co-operate to secure a continuation of the provisions of the act until it was necessary to withdraw them.
On the third point, .1. say that the budget, far from attacking inflation, is definitely having an inflationary effect, since every £1,000,000 which the Government collects in sales tax, income tax and customs duties means that another £1,000,000 is added to what the people must pay for commodities. The spiral then continues. The cost of living goes up, wages rise in consequence, and then the Treasurer collects more in taxes, which makes the cost of living go up, followed by a rise in wages, and so we go “ round and round the mulberry bush “. As the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) pointed out, every ls. wage increase to the working man means another £1,000,000 to the Treasurer. He is continually taking more money from the people for the Government to spend. If the money were being expended wisely the people would not mind heavy taxation as much as they do now.
On the subject of increased social benefits, I say that the cost of commodities to the consumer is increasing far in excess of the 5s. increases which are made in pensions from time to time. Pensioners should be entitled to an increase of their pension at least equivalent to the increase in the cost of living. Undoubtedly, the present increase of social service payments is more than warranted but the distribution of social service benefits could be improved. The huge amount expended on the free medicine scheme shows how farcical is the claim that such medicine is free. The taxpayer has to pay for every penny spent to give him “ free “ medicine, and he does not welcome having to pay for it in taxes.
As to my fifth point, that primary industries receive no assistance from the Government’s budget proposals to obtain supplies of machinery or labour, I say that the same conditions in regard to those supplies as operated in the past will continue to operate during this financial year. Primary producers will still be unable to obtain supplies of wire, galvanized iron or netting. They have been in that position ever since the war ended, but the budget will not help them, and they will remain in the same desperate plight. At present, except in isolated instances, they are unable to obtain their requirements. Another, and even more important, factor in increasing production is an adequate supply of fuel oil. In demanding that more fuel oil be made available for primary producers, I ignore the insinuation made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) in the course of the answer which he gave to a question yesterday to the effect that honorable members on this side of the House are only concerned to protect the interests of the oil companies. Neither I nor any other member of the Opposition is connected in any way with any oil company, but because of the harm done to primary producers by the Government’s decision to reduce the supply of power fuel by another 20 per cent., we are vitally concerned with oil supplies. Primary producers depend very greatly upon supplies of fuel to operate .their tractors, trucks and farm machinery, and it will be impossible for them to maintain the existing rate of production, apart altogether from increasing production, if the Government persists in reducing the present limited supplies by 20 per cent. Members of the Australian Country party are continually receiving telegrams from primary producers complaining that local oil distributors are unable to assist them to continue production by advancing fuel from their quotas for the following month because the distributors’ quotas for the next period are already exhausted, and no further supplies can be issued by the oil companies’ agents before the 1st October. The position of primary producers is desperate, yet the Minister has the audacity to assert that members of the Opposition, who have protested to the
Government, are simply acting on behalf of the oil companies. It would have been more truthful of the Minister to say that the political party to which he belongs is the one which is concerned with the interests of the oil companies, breweries and other monopolies because it is from those concerns that it receives funds for electioneering. Members of the Australian Country party are more concerned with maintaining the stability of our economy by obtaining for primary producers the materials which they require to continue producing essential commodities.
I returned to Canberra, the day before the opening of the present session and immediately approached the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and told him of the desperate position of primary producers due to the acute shortage of fuel oil. I explained to him that the present month of September is the ploughing season for certain crops,, and that unless sUpplies of liquid fuel were forthcoming many farmers would be unable to sow crops. The Minister undertook to investigate the matter promptly, but instead of furnishing a reply to me within a couple of days he waited for two weeks, and then informed me that his investigations had failed to disclose one instance of a primary producer having to curtail his operations because of the scarcity of liquid fuel. Undoubtedly his purpose in delaying his reply was to allow the greater part of the month of September to pass, so that he would not have to make available supplies during that month. “We are receiving complaints not only from the primary producers but also from the oil companies’ agents and distributors, who are gravely concened at the plight of their customers, the primary producers. One of the major oil companies issued a circular to its distributors, a copy of which I saw. It was to the effect that the quota of power kerosene had been reduced by 20 per cent. Power kerosene is used almost exclusively for production purposes, and when one realizes the degree of dependence of farmers on power kerosene, supplies of which the Government has decided to reduce by 20 per cent., it is obvious that the Government’s real purpose is not to increase, but to restrict, production. When -I interviewed the
Minister Le asked me for the names of individual farmers who were adversely affected by the fuel situation, and undertook to ensure that supplies were made available to them. Although I furnished the names of several farmers the Minister did nothing to assist them. The only person in my electorate who received any assistance was an individual in the Cunnamulla district, and the Brisbane office of the Liquid Fuel Control Board came to his assistance only after I had mentioned details of the case in this chamber. The man concerned, who operates eight motor trucks in the Cunnamulla district, had his liquid fuel quota reduced to 1,000 gallons a month. Previously he used to submit details of the work on which he was engaged, and the Liquid Fuel Control Board would issue a special licence to enable him to obtain sufficient petrol to carry out his contracts. The man concerned was quite satisfied with that arrangement, but, following the Government’s recent decision to curtail still further the supplies of liquid fuel, he was told by the Board that no further special licences would be issued to him. On investigating the matter, I discovered that three of his vehicles, which were used to carry mail and parcels for the Postal Department, were allowed altogether only 540 gallons of petrol a month, which meant that he had to operate his other five vehicles on 460 gallons a month. Those vehicles are used to cart wool, wheat, sheep and other primary produce which has to be hauled long distances in the Cunnamulla district. Any one who knows anything of farming realizes that one tractor alone would require 460 gallons a month. However, because I mentioned the case in this chamber, and not because of the undertaking given to me by the Minister, the truck-owner has now been permitted to make special application for the petrol which he needs to operate his services. When members of the present Government do something wrong they do not like publicity to be given to their actions, and because of the fear that publicity migh t bc given to the case the Minister rook action.
N.- The honorable member’s interjection indicates clearly that preference is given to supporters of the Government in such matters, although the Government, which is elected democratically, is supposed to treat all sections of the community alike. If the Government wants primary producers to increase production, let it make available sufficient liquid fuel, without which it is impossible for farmers to increase production. The Government has restricted the supply of lighting kerosense to people in country districts who are completely dependent on kerosene for lighting. In many country areas electric power is not available, and since people cannot be expected to use candles, the only source of light available to them is kerosene. When they ask the Government to make available sufficient kerosene to enable them to enjoy one of the essential amenities of life, the present Government says, in effect, “No j you can sit in the dark. We are not concerned that you work much more than a 40- hour week, so long as you toil all day and produce sufficient food to feed the city-dwellers who will not work “.
N.- I challenge any member or supporter of the Government to come to my electorate and debate these issues with me on the public platform.
The loss of primary production because of the lack of farming machinery is considerable. Although farmers have been endeavouring for the last two years to persuade the Government to allow sufficient harvesters to be imported they are still as badly off as ever. In the Kingaroy district, in which I reside, large quantities of maize, peanuts and other foodstuffs which are vitally important to our economy at the present time, are grown. However, we have not been able to obtain a single planting machine in the last two years. A few machines designed to be drawn by tractors have been supplied, but we have been unable to obtain any horse-drawn machines because the Government is withholding import licences for all agricultural machinery. The firms which import agricultural machinery were informed by the Government two years ago that the importation of machinery was temporarily suspended, but the Government should have stated that so far as it was concerned the suspension would be permanent. I appeal to the Government to give further consideration to t)i is. matter. Tractors are still scarce. During the recent recess I addressed a letter to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), pointing out the dire straits1 to which farmers were reduced because of their inability to obtain this essential equipment. The Minister replied stating that approximately 11,000 wheeled tractors would be permitted entry into Australia during the next twelve months, and, in order that farmers may be aware of the circumstances, I arranged for his statement to be published in several country newspapers. Whilst these additional tractors will afford relief to’ farmers in closely settled agricultural areas who require wheeled tractors, they will not bring relief to wheat-growers, who need tractors of the caterpillar D-4 type. Apparently the latter are only imported from dollar countries. Tractors of the wheeled type are unsuitable for drawing the heavy implements used in wheat-growing areas. Apparently no relief is to be given to wheat-growers under the Government’s restrictive import policy. A storekeeper at Dalby informed me that during the last twelve months he had 200 orders on his books, but that he saw no prospect of being able to get more than a few machines. I trust that the Government will review the import licensing system so that additional tractors of all types may be imported.
The budget is unstable as realization of the estimated receipts depends upon the maintenance of the present high prices for export commodities, particularly wool and wheat on the overseas markets. Whilst we are fortunate that world prices for these commodities remain high, thus enabling us to maintain a reasonably stable economy, we must all regret that the hungry peoples of Europe have to pay such high prices for their essential foods.
During the debate last night some reference was made to the Scully wheat plan. I do not propose to go into the merits or demerits of that plan now, other than to say that, but for the tragic restrictions imposed under it, many additional millions, of bushels of wheat would have been grown, to the benefit, not only of this country, but also of overseas people who were crying out for wheat. As the result of the restriction of the crops to 3,000 bushels production fell below the level of our own domestic requirements.
N”. - The crops were restricted as the result of the limitation of the price of 4s. a bushel to the first 3,000 bushels. No wheat-grower could afford to grow wheat at 2s. 2d. a bushel as a first advance because that price was below the cost of production. The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) may have been well sa tisfied with the plan because under it the growers in the State which he represents received 12s. an acre as compensation for not growing wheat. No one could suggest that from any angle the Scully wheat plan benefited Australia.
N. - I disagree with the honorable gentleman.
N.- Members of the Australian Wheat Board publicly expressed their opposition to the plan. As the result of the restrictions imposed by the plan Queensland’s requirements of wheat had to be imported from the south at approximately 5s. 6d. a bushel.
The instability of the budget is revealed by the admission of the Treasurer that it depends upon the maintenance of the existing high prices of our exportable products. A fall in those prices might, have disastrous effects in this country. The much maligned producers, whom the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) referred to recently as “ hill billies “, constitute the backbone of the country upon whose efforts the economy of this country rests. Primary producers agree that everything possible should be done to develop our export trade in secondary products; but at the same time they realize that without the primary industries this country would not be able to carry on. As it is the wish of honorable members that this sitting should terminate early, [ shall reserve my further comments until the ‘Estimates are being considered.
– The Minister for Transport will answer the question.
– That was five years ago.
– What about the Japanese ?
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 23rd September (vide page 858), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division No. 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries’ and allowances, fi 2,000”. be agreed to.
Upon which Mr. Harrison had moved, by way of amendment -
That the first item be reduced by £1, as an instruction to the Government - to withdraw and redraft the budget . . . [vide page 430).
.- The debate on the budget affords to honorable members an opportunity to discuss a number of matters which concern them apart from discussion of the general statement of Government policy contained in that document. In any event, the Government’s policy, as revealed in the budget, has already been thoroughly examined and, I submit, completely discredited by the able analysis of it made by the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) in the course of his speech. I propose now to refer to a number of matters which were not mentioned by that, right honorable gentleman, but first, 1 shall make a few general comments on the budget. At the outset let me say that I have never read a document which concerns the vital interests of the nation, which is more unreal than this budget presented by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley). After all, a. budget is supposed to be something in the nature of a show case to display the state of the nation’s affairs, and it should furnish an impartial account of the Government’s administration during the preceding twelve months, and some indication of its future policy. During a period of boom conditions the Treasurer has introduced a boom budget. He refers continually to the need for increased production. Of course, it is obvious to every honorable member that unless effective action is taken to increase man-power exertion we cannot expect any increase of production. The budget documents and the speech delivered by the right honorable gentleman savour more of political expediency . than any previous budget of which I have had experience. It is, in every sense, a pre-election year budget. It is impossible to disguise the fact that next year members of the political party opposite will indulge in one of the greatest bribery campaigns ever known in the history of Australian politics. The budget sets out to portray certain reductions of taxes. A study of the figures presented by the Treasurer reveals that, except in respect of one or two minor items, the right honorable gentleman expects to obtain greater revenue this year than last year. It is true that he proposes to reduce income tax by approximately £22,000,000; but what has made that reduction possible ? The truth of the matter is that he will save £26,000,000 by the withdrawal of certain subsidies. The consumers who will be most affected by rising costs due to the withdrawal of those subsides are those on the lower incomes. Having saved £26,000,000 in this way the right honorable gentleman magnanimously proposes to reduce taxes by £22,000,000.
– That is not true.
– Will the honorable member go out and tell, the workers what he has implied in this chamber?
– It would not he “still-life” for long.
– Supervising the printing of newspapers in foreign languages is not the responsibility of the Minister for Immigration. I authorize the issuing of permits, but I insist in every instance that 25 per cent, of the material shall be published in English, and that the leading article of each of those newspapers shall always be published in English.
– There are very few such persons.
– I agree that the children of foreign immigrants should be taught the English language, but it is the State education authorities which decide what languages shall be taught in State schools.
– But if there are Australian children of the fifth generation who cannot speak English, they are not immigrants, and I cannot do anything about them.
.-] was astounded to hear the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) .declare that he is losing faith in the youth of Australia and in our working men. -In one breath, honorable members opposite tell the workers that the Government is- overtaxing them, and then, in the next breath, they complain to- the Government that the workers will not work. That seems to be the main, trend of their speeches in this chamber. They are hard pressed to find any legitimate grounds, for criticism of this budget, because it will give relief to those sections of the population most entitled to relief - in fact, to those persons who, according to the honorable member for Deakin, suffer from frustation. For the last three or four years members of the Opposition have pursued a policy which, has caused a great deal of discontent in. the community. They have engaged in “mischievous propaganda, through newspapers and other mediums of publication, in an effort to convince the people that they are over- taxed by the Government and are “ only working for Chifley”. Unfortunately some people have been gulled and led to believe that it is unprofitable for them to work overtime. Time after time I have heard members of the Opposition tell the workers that they have nothing, to gain by working hard, and then those members turn, around and condemn the workers on account of reduced production. I have great faith in our working men, amongst whom I include, not only labourers, but also those who work in offices, on farms and in industries. ‘ The achievements of Australian working men in the short history of this nation have been remarkable. A famous architect who recently arrived here from the United States of America has praised the great cities that we have built up with our population of only about 7,000,000. In particular, he has paid tribute to the men who planned the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Australian tradesmen who built it. In this Parliament the honorable member for Deakin insults Australian workers, but I notice that he lacks the courage to do so elsewhere. I wish that our working men could see him and some of his colleagues when they sleep in. this chamber. I wonder what they would think? Perhaps television would ho a< good thing.
The unsatisfactory level of production in Australia is the fault of the Opposition. It has brought about this state of affairs “by means of unrelenting, mischievous and untrue propaganda^ as I shall prove. For instance, it has completely misrepresented the Government’s tax policy. A few examples will serve to support my argument. Consider the case of a single man who earned £371 in 1946-£47. For that year he paid £60 in income tax, leaving a net income of £311. In the following year, if his earnings increased to £423, he was taxed £54, leaving, a net income of £369. The facts disprove the claims that such people have not benefited from tax remissions. Consider also the case of a married man with, two children - an average family - earning a constant income of £400 a year. In 1944-45, he was taxed £46, leaving a. net income of £354.. That was his net income. In 1945-46, when taxes were still high, he paid £43, and- had a net income of £357. In 1946-47 he paid a tax of £33, and his net income was £367. In 1947-4.8, he paid tax of only £12, leaving him with a net income of £3SS. Therefore, he is better off by £34 per annum compared with 1944-45 and, under this budget, child endowment will be increased by 2s. 6d. to 10s. a week. So the working man will not be convinced when honorable members opposite tell him that he is worse off now than he was in the past.
Members of the Opposition complain that high taxes do not provide workers with an incentive to increase production. Given the opportunity, honorable members opposite would again employ the incentives of hunger, and fear of unemployment, as they did during the economic depression of the early 1930’s. Hunger and the fear of unemployment are sharp spurs to make workers increase their output. Those spurs were used, not only on workers in secondary industries, but also on primary producers. The harder the- man on the land worked, the more he produced, and the deeper he got into debt. Honorable members opposite favour that kind of economic condition. For instance, the Lyons Government, in its first year of office in 1932, remitted land tax to wealthy companies and land.holders. but at the same time reduced the invalid and old-age pension below the level to which it had been reduced in accordance with the provisions of the
Premiers plan and even took a mortgage on the homes of pensioners. If pensioners had children who were in a financial position to contribute to the support of their parents, they were compelled to do so. That was the method of finance which an anti-Labour government adopted less than twenty years ago.
Complaints that the economic position of Australia is bad are not supported by the prosperous condition of many companies. The truth was told in the figures on the financial page of the Melbourne Herald last Tuesday. The profit of Sutex Limited was 15 per cent, this year, compared with 12 per cent, last year, and the increased profit of the Hume Pipe Company (Australia) Limited was described as “ spectacular “. A tyre company recorded a net profit of 11 3/4 per cent. Yet we are told that companies are going bankrupt because they are overtaxed. Obviously, they are in a prosperous condition. Honorable members opposite emphasize that employees must have an incentive to increase production. They should study the kind of incentive that the Hume Pipe Company (Australia) Limited has introduced. It has the right idea, and is sincerely desirous of stepping up .production and efficiency. They do not believe that the best incentives are hunger and ‘fear of unemployment. According to the financial editor of the Melbourne Herald, the output per man-hour of the Hume Pipe Company (Australia) Limited has risen by 25 per cent, compared with the pre-war level. Factory efficiency has improved, and business with the Far East has been revived. Profits have shown a “ most spectacular leap “. After allowing for taxation, the profit soared to £229,629, equalling 14 per cent, on shareholders’ funds, compared with a net profit of £60,081 last year. The financial writer of the Melbourne Herald stated that features of the company are a profit-sharing scheme, and employee-management committees in factories. Complaints that production is falling off, and that men will not work, are unjustified. Honorable members opposite prefer the conditions when men stand three deep at the factory gates waiting for employment. The so-called high level of taxation has not killed the Hume
Pipe Company (Australia) Limited, or any other companies which are mentioned from time to time on the financial page of the Melbourne Herald.
Only Poland (where coal seams are thick and accessible) exceeds the production a man of Dutch mines, despite the comparatively thin and undulating coal seams in Holland. Dutch authorities claim two reasons for their fine record : Contented, . well-trained workers, and clean, safe, mechanized mines.
Australians, who lose more than £10 million a year in industrial production because of coal shortages, may be heartened by the fact that one country has been able to demonstrate that coal can be produced without continual, ruinous, industrial strife. Some Australians may even see a similarity between the constitution of the Dutch Mining Council and the Australian Joint Coal Board, and hope for similar success here.
It would be much more helpful if honorable members opposite, instead of continually condemning the Australian miners, were to apply what little intelligence they have to urging that conditions in our mines should be raised to the same level as those in the Dutch mines. If they were, probably men and boys would be waiting to go into the mines of this country. The Labour party is endeavouring to bring that about, but honorable members opposite think longingly of the time when men were driven by hunger to accept any conditions that were offered to them. Those days, however, have passed, and the sooner it is realized by the Opposition the better it will be. The conditions which obtained then bred communism.
In this debate, as in the debate on the Address-in-Reply, honorable members opposite have confined their remarks almost exclusively to the subject of communism. They have accused all members on this side of the chamber, and even the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), of being Communists. The Communist party, the
Liberal party and the Australian Country party have much in common. Politically they are closely related to one another; each of them desires this Government to be defeated. Honorable members opposite have not the courage to say that they are opposed to social security and are not in favour of the imposition of a high :rate of tax on the higher income group to finance it. They know that the only way in which they can hope to defeat this Government at the next general elections is to persuade the workers to vote for them, and therefore they cannot say that they do not believe in good conditions or social security. The Communist party realizes that the improvement of the conditions of the people which is being brought about by the Labour party will kill communism in Australia. Communism gained its present hold upon other countries because of the shocking conditions which existed in them for generations. The Communist party and the Opposition parties “have different reasons for desiring the defeat of this Government. The Communists would welcome the bad conditions which would soon be created if this Government were defeated at the next general elections and the Opposition parties formed the Government of Australia. Expenditure on social services would be curtailed and the standard of living of the people would be reduced. The Opposition has no prospect of success at the next elections if the campaign is fought on the Government’s administrative record. The only way in which it could win would be by creating great industrial strife before then, and I have no hesitation in saying that if the Communist party required a few thousand pounds to create that strife, the money would readily he made available to it by the Opposition parties. If this Government were defeated, the Communists would be more pleased than the members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party would be, because it would mean that the day of the Communists ‘had nearly arrived. There would be a return to the old shocking conditions. The honorable member for Deakin said that there was a lack of incentive and that ‘the young people were suffering from a sense of frustration.
What the honorable member probably has in mind is that ‘workers’ children now have an opportunity to go to the universities and that he does not want them to compete with his children. He wants to see youths begging for a job or .for food, as they did in the depression years. At that time the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) had plenty of cheap labour. Any amount of cheap labour was available in those days, but the country was dying. Honorable members opposite do not realize that if those conditions ever return, the Communists will step in. I warn the people that the defeat of this Government would be the greatest possible encouragement that the Communist party could he given.
It was said that the Prime Minister does not believe in savings being accumulated by the people. The Statistician’s figures show that in 1939-40 savings bank deposits totalled £244,000,000 and that the present total is £682,000,000. Do those figures show that the Prime Minister does not believe in savings? How many farmers have paid off their mortgages? The Labour party believes in ownership. Honorable members opposite call us socialists, but what is wrong with socialism if it permits a man to pay off his mortgage? The Opposition wants the farmers again to be in the hands of the bankers. Private banks now charge 8 per cent, or 10 per cent, interest on money advanced to farmers to purchase cars, but the Commonwealth Bank charges only 4 per cent. That is socialism. The Opposition does not believe in it, nor do the bankers. The Labour party, by creating conditions whereby the people can accumulate savings, pay off their mortgages on their farms and own their own homes, is en:suring that the workers will not again be driven by hunger to accept whatever conditions may be offered. The standard of living of every section of the community has increased. That is true even of the business men, because output and profits have increased. What is wrong with that? As to taxation, in 1939 a married man with a wife and two children, earning £300 a year, paid £4 a year income tax in New South Wales, and £3 16s. a year in Victoria.’ He received no child endowment payments. Now he pays no tax. Business nien returning to this country from overseas agree that Australia’s economy to-day is sounder than that of any other nation; but the Labour Government looks ahead. It realized some time ago that if the economic stability of this country was to be safeguarded, additional constitutional power for the Commonwealth Parliament was necessary. A referendum was held on the continuance by the Commonwealth of the control of prices and rents. The referendum was defeated as the result of the propaganda poured out by the Opposition parties in this Parliament and their supporters; but they overstepped the mark on that occasion, and they may joon find that they have pulled Australia’s economy down around their own heads. The proposal placed before the people was that the new powers should be conferred upon this Parliament, the elected representatives of the people - not the legislative councils of the States which are controlled by the privileged few and elected on a franchise which gives a vote to only one person in every three. Typical of the members of these institutions is Sir Frank Clarke, a banker who is concerned mainly with profit-making. Unfortunately, the people of this country were grossly misled by the propaganda of the Opposition parties, who claimed that price control could be administered adequately by the States. We told the people the truth. We had nothing to hide. We put to them the simple question, “Do you want this proa contracting-out form, which has to be the Opposition parties was - “ The State Government can and will protect you from prices or rent exploitation “. To the working man rents are fundamental. He must have shelter, immediately the referendum, was defeated, Labour’s opponents changed their tune somewhat and began to warn the people against price rises. Now they argue that costs are increasing because the Commonwealth has ceased to pay subsidies. That is not correct. The Commonwealth is still subsidizing tea, butter and superphosphates because it has some control over those commodities; but it has no control over textiles and we emphasized that in our referendum campaign. How can anybody’ reasonably expect the Commonwealth to continue to pay subsidies on materials used in the manufacture of goods, the price of which is beyond its control? Would any honorable member opposite give me a blank cheque to use as I pleased? Of course he would not, and that is the crux of our argument on subsidies. In any event, the withdrawal of subsidies will make little difference to the prices of manufactured articles; but manufacturers are seeking increases of as much as 50 per cent. I doubt whether the withdrawal of the subsidy on wool will increase the cost of a suit of clothes by £1, but I have no doubt that the price will be increased by £5 or £6. It is an “ open go “ for the profiteers. They can ask what they like. Can the States administer price controls adequately? 1 believe that they cannot with the small staffs that they employ. Business people will ask for their goods as much as they believe the people will be prepared to pay for them. The Opposition must take the blame for that state of affairs. Every member of the Opposition is guilty of misleading the people, and the people will not easily forgive or forget. The result of the prices referendum was a tragedy. With a continuance of Commonwealth control, price rises would have been infinitesimal, and subsidies would have been continued. Given the opportunity, a man will always exploit his fellows. That is human nature. Otherwise, there would .not be any need for a police force. Unfortunately, wc have not yet reached that ideal state of society. With goods in short supply, purchasers will be forced to pay whatever prices are asked for essential commodities. Bents will go up. That is how the workers will be exploited. The guilt lies entirely with the Opposition. The referendum issues were .not political, but the Opposition parties made them so. They should have been frank in their statements to the people. They thought that the defeat of the referendum would lower the prestige of the Labour party. But we can:always face the people, because we have told them the truth. In spite of all the propaganda of the Opposition parties and their unlimited funds, the truth will always prevail.
This budget is one of the best brought down in this House since I have been a member of it. It gives relief from taxes to those who need it most, the family men. I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Deakin on immigration, and I pay a tribute to the Ministor for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) who lias applied his dynamic personality to a most difficult task. He has been able to get the ships. Honorable members opposite laughed when he said that he would bring 70,000 migrants to this country each year, but he is doing it. The migrants are of splendid types and will be a great asset to this country. The Minister is a reasonable man, and I know that he will give the fullest consideration to the suggestion that I am about to make. One of Australia’s main primary products is wool, and there is wide scope for the expansion of the textile industry in this country. To that end, we should endeavour to bring here trained textile operatives from overseas. These people should be given priority. With the textile industry firmly established in this country, we could export manufactured articles instead of raw wool. In addition, the industry would give widespread employment and would thus expand the home market.
– I wish to make some comments on certain statements that have been made by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod). The honorable member endeavoured to associate the Communists with the Australian Country party, there is no such association; but I believe that there is a very close relationship between the Communists and the Australian Labour party. For their continued membership of this chamber, some members of the Labour party are dependent on the support of Communists. Although the number of Communists in the various electorates may not be great, their support of some candidates is sufficient to elect them. Honorable members opposite know that to be true. Many of them are in this chamber as the result of the preference votes of Communist electors.
– We do not have to go to such lengths to achieve things ; at least I do not have to do so on behalf of persons in my electorate.
– Those tears will not save the honorable member at the next elections.
– There was no limits tion to 3,000 bushels under the plan.
– The wheat-growers’ organization in Queensland supported the plan.
– Its support is on record.
The following answer to a question was circulated; -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is the total number of publications published by (a) the Department of Information, (6) the Department of Immigration, and (o) the Department of Post-war Reconstruction?
What is the total cost to the respective departments of these publications and what amount of newsprint and/or paper is used in their publication!
Mr. CHIFLEY. - The information is being obtained and a reply will he furnished as early as possible.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 September 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19480923_reps_18_198/>.