18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Alleged Leakages from Official Quarters.
– Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Government proposes to spy on members of this Parliament,will the right honorable gentleman inform the House - (a) whether instructions have been given to tap the private telephone conversations and tamper with the private mail of members of this House; (b) whether this work will be entrusted to a special political police force to be recruited from known members of the Communist party in the Government’s employ; (c) whether members of the Government consulted the Communist leader Thornton during their interviews with him in Canberra recently, about the operations of the N.K.V.D. or Soviet Political Police, with the view of adopting its methods here; and (d) whether the Government proposes to introduce into this Parliament legislation similar to that now before the Czech Communist Parliament, to make any form of opposition to the Government a crime to be dealt with by a secret court ?
– In answer to the first portion of the question, which relates to the alleged spying on members of the Parliament, I have issued a very simple instruction to the Acting AttorneyGeneral, who is in charge of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, to ascertain, if possible, in what possible ways documents have been used, or may be used, and how such documents could come into the hands not only of members of this Parliament, but also of other individuals who are in this building only as a privilege. The Commonwealth Investigation Service has been asked to ascertain whether there has been a leakage of information, and, if so, how it has occurred. This instruction is not aimed at any particular person. The object is to find out how certain confidential, and in some instances, secret, government documents could be allowed to pass into the hands of individuals other than those who are entitled to the possession of them. The Government desires to know what is happening and who is responsible for it. If the inquiry brings into the net members of the Parliament, or other individuals whose presence in this building is a privilege and not a right, that will be noted. This work, naturally, has been entrusted to the Acting Attorney-General, whose department, as I have said, administers the Commonwealth Investigation Service. When a report has been made on the investigations, it will be brought to my notice. I made it perfectly clear yesterday that whatever is done in regard to this matter will not be done in order to gain any political advantage.
– Oh, no!
– I should not dream of that.
– It will be done to silence the Opposition.
– I assure honorable members that the Government is more concerned with the interests of this country than with the gaining of some political advantage over any particular individual. The honorable member for Reid has mentioned a visit to Canberra by Mr. Thornton. I did not see Mr. Thornton on that occasion, and I do not know anything about the contacts that he might have made while he was here. I do not remember any request having been made by Mr. Thornton to see me on that occasion. Had he made such a request as the secretary of a union, his representations would have been given consideration in the light of the time available as would those of any other union secretary.
Mr.WHITE. - I address a question to the Prime Minister regarding press reports which state that the Government of Malaya has decided to ban the entry into Malaya of all Communists and Communist sympathizers. The reports also state that the ban applies to persons of all nationalities including Australians, and mentions the name of Lawrence Sharkey, a Moscow-trained Communist who is the leader of the Communists in Australia and adds that information is being gathered about him and his operations while he was in Singapore some time ago. Will the Prime Minister or the Minister for Immigration offer the closest cooperation to the Malayan Government to see that the ban is enforced and that the troubles that that country faces to-day are not further fomented by undesirable Australians who go there?
– I understand that the Minister for Immigration has already made it perfectly clear that if any Government makes a request that certain individuals shall not be granted passports or visés for entry into its country its wish will be carried out by the’ Australian Government. That has already been done in an instance involving India and Pakistan and precisely the same thing will be done in regard to Malaya. Regarding the other matters raised, the fact is that the Malayan administration has for many months refused permission for even Chinese and Indians to enter Malaya. There was a great deal of discussion in this Parliament about certain Malayan individuals. On my visit to Singapore I found that there had been a ban placed on the immigration into Malaya of particular nationalities, yet the Malayan authorities complained about Australia’s attitude to immigration. I have no doubt that the Malayan Government adopted its policy for its own reasons. I am not questioning its reasons which were no doubt quite sound in the circumstances.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the report in this morning’s press that police officers of the Malayan Government are investigating statements and examining captured documents concerning conversations between the Australian Communist, L. Sharkey, and Malayan leaders in Singapore last March, shortly before the outbreak of Communist terrorism in that area? Will the Australian Government request the Malayan Government to forward to Australia information of the result of this investigation in order that the extent of the part of Australian Communists in the Malayan troubles shall be made known to the public of this country ?
– I have not seen the statement in this morning’s newspapers to which the honorable member has referred. In fact, I have not yet read any of to-day’s newspapers. The honorable gentleman mentioned a report that, the Malayan authorities, presumably at the instance of Mr. Malcolm MacDonald, who is the Governor-General of Malaya and Special Commissioner in South-East Asia, are examining certain captured documents. From my communications with Mr. MacDonald from time to time, I have been able to obtain his views about a number of matters affecting the Malayan Union. I assume that if Mr. MacDonald desired to inform us about any particular matters affecting the Malayan Union, as he has already done in requesting arms and equipment,, he will do so. However, I shall examine the matter which the honorable member has raised.
– Can the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General inform me whether high administrative officers, when called up for jury service in the Australian Capital Territory, have been refused exemption from such service despite requests for it from their departmental heads? In view of the extra pressure now applied to public servants will he state whether sympathetic consideration will be accorded to representations for exemption from jury service of high administrative officers?
– I do not know whether the facts stated are correct but I shall consult the Acting AttorneyGeneral and I am certain that he will give consideration to the point the honorable member has raised.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service concerning representations madeto me in relation to lighthouse-keepers on the Victorian coast. A telegram which I have received requests that I should ventilate in the House tha- fact that the hours of lighthouse-keepers have not been improved in the last 80 years and that for over 20 years the lighthouse-keepers have not been able to secure the appointment of an arbitrator to hear their claims. Will the Minister investigate this claim with a view to granting conditions to lighthousebeepers which will be at least comparable with those enjoyed by other Commonwealth servants?
– If it is a fact that no improvement has been made in the conditions of lighthouse-keepers during the last 80 year3 the position should certainly be investigated. These officers are employees of the Marine Branch of the Department of Shipping and Fuel, and are members of the Public Service. Of my own knowledge I am aware that the lighthousekeepers have appeared before the arbitration courts from time to time, and I have attended conferences concerning their conditions. I shall investigate the matter but I shall be surprised if the facts are as stated by the honorable member.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that radio station 3DB, Melbourne, which is owned by Sir Keith Murdoch and his associates has sent out letters to its clients announcing that an additional charge of 33-J per cent, will be made for radio advertisements? Is that development due to the transfer of control of prices from the Commonwealth to the States? Since licences for radio transmitting stations have to be renewed annually, can the Postmaster-General take action to prevent radio advertisers from being exploited, because any increase of the cost of advertising must be passed on to the general public by increased prices for advertised goods?
– I shall bring the matter to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral in order to ascertain, first, whether station 3DB has increased its charges by 33^ per cent., and, secondly, to ascertain whether any other radio station has acted similarly. I shall also ask the Postmaster-General to ascertain whether he has power under the Australian Broadcasting Act to limit the degree to which holders of radio transmitting licences can exploit the public in the manner in which it is alleged Sir Keith Murdoch and his associates are doing. I shall also request the PostmasterGeneral to inquire into the result of the recent transfer of control of rents and prices from the Commonwealth to the States insofar as it affects matters connected with broadcasting,
– Can the Prime Minister furnish any detailed information about the method of working and distributing the phosphatic deposits on Christmas Island? I should like to know whether the Government proposes to allow private enterprise to continue to work and distribute the phosphates or whether it contemplates establishing a trading concern which will compete with private enterprise along similar lines to those followed by Trans-Australia Airlines in the field of civil aviation.
– The matter mentioned by the honorable member has been the subject of discussions between the New Zealand and Australian Governments, and Mr. Gaze, an official of the British Phosphate Commissioners, was authorized by both Governments to conduct the negotiations. Although certain matters of detail have yet to be decided, I can assure honorable members that steps have been taken to ensure that ample supplies of phosphatic rock, which is so important to primary producers, will be made available to both countries. The Government considered the matter to be of such importance that it authorized the Minister for External Territories and Treasury officials to engage in discussions with New Zealand officials concerning the purchase price of the undertaking, and the rights associated with the present leases, which run for 42 years. It was considered that the New Zealand and Australian Governments should acquire those rights, and that has been done. General negotiations have been conducted by Mr. Gaze, but certain formalities relating to distribution have yet to be determined. In principle, we have agreed to the acquisition for £2,750,000. Final arrangements will be made as early as practicable.
– Who will work the deposits at the island?
– We have endeavoured to make arrangements for the British Phosphate Commissioners, who already work the deposits at Nauru and Ocean Islands, to undertake the work and distribute the phosphatic rock from Christmas Island. It would seem that, having regard to the transport difficulties involved, the Commission was in the best position to undertake the distribution of the phosphatic rock from Christmas Island. These matters have yet to be finalized. The objective of the Minister for External Territories is to arrange for the commissioners to act as the operating agent at Christmas Island.
– I have received a number of inquiries about food commodities regarded as necessaries by a great many families, which are at present, and have been for many months past off the market, at least in Victoria. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House whathas happened to treacle and golden syrup, and why these commodities are not available to the people? How long does the honorable gentleman suppose the people are likely to be deprived of these nourishing foods?
– Imust confess that I have not the faintest idea what has become of treacle and golden syrup. I am aware that both are nourishing foods. I shall make it my business to institute inquiries, and I shall endeavour to furnish the honorable member with the desired information as early as possible.
Tasmanian Shipping Services
– Urgent representa tions have been made to me by grocers in the midland districts of Tasmania regarding the grave shortage of sugar, stating that they have been out of supplies for more than three weeks. As the next shipment of sugar is not due at Launceston until the 11th or 12th October, will the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, through the Australian Shipping Board, make representations to the companies concerned, with a view to speeding up this shipment of sugar, if possible? Will the honorable gentleman endeavour to have shipments to Tasmania made with more regularity and also arrange for better spacing of ships on the Tasmanian service ?
– I am aware that supplies of sugar are not as readily available in a number of places throughout Australia as the Government would like them to be, principally because there is not sufficient labour available in the refining factories to ensure that adequate supplies are on hand to meet requirements. Insofar as the shortage in Tasmania relates to transport difficulties in that State, I shall draw the attention of my colleague the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to the situation. I am certain that if it is possible for him to have a ship made available immediately for the purpose of transporting to Tasmania these urgently needed supplies, he will do so. I shall also ask the Minister to inquire into the regularity of the shipping schedule between the mainland and Tasmania and I am sure that he will do his utmost to assist.
– In view of the statement in this morning’s press, under a Washington date-line, that there is no record in the State Department of the United States of America of an agreement that the “ Manila girls “ would be returned to Australia after their war service, can the Minister for Immigration say whether the agreement is in writing? If so, who were the signatories? Can he now disclose the exact nature of the document on which I seek information?
– I would say to the honorable member for Darwin that rumour was ever a lying jade and the rumours that are circulating in Washington and that have been publishedin the Melbourne Herald in relation to documents or other records that exist, or are said to exist, concerning an agreement between myself and members of the American Embassy, are not to be relied on. I was approached in January, 1946, by the American Chargé d’Aff aires, Mr. John Minter, with a irequest that a number of Australian girls should be permitted to accompany the American Army to Manila. Previously, Colonel Jordan had “ spirited “ fourteen girls out of this country without passports or documents of any sort, in an American aircraft which left from Brisbane. He claimed that he had the right to do that because the girls were members of the American Army. They were Australian citizens, and only civilian members of the American Army. We protested to the American authorities against this highhanded action by Colonel Jordan, although I believe that he acted in good faith. The girls were returned to Australia and we were asked to allow not only those fourteen girls but a considerable number of other girls to go to perform duties for a period of six months. I agreed after consulting the Prime Minister and the girls left in batches for Service in Manila and later, in Tokyo. We were asked to permit them to accompany the American Army to Tokyo. We were told that the American forces would not require them: for more than six months in all, and we agreed that they should go for that period, while they were serving with the American Army, and, as the Prime Minister reminds me, while American girls were being trained to take their places.
– What are their ages?
-The honorable member for New England is entirely out of order. He is not allowed to cross-question the Minister.’
– The American Charge d’Affaires promised me that those girls would be returned, and subsequently an American colonel came to my office and gave me an explicit undertaking that after the completion of’ certain work, and at the end of their period of service, the American Army would return the gia-ls to- Australia. This Government has acted very generously in regard to the American and British authorities, but to some degree our generosity has been imposed upon. When the war was over it was thought that Australia should supply typists and stenographers for the British Army in Malaya and Burma, and in other places, and for the American Army in Malaya and Tokyo. We already had a great shortage of labour in this country. We were trying to attract migrants to Australia, and whilst we were prepared to act reasonably in respect of both the- British and American authorities, we expected that we would receive co-operation from those authorities inrespect of any agreement we entered into. We had no trouble with the British, but it seems that many changes have since taken place among the staff of the United States Embassy in Canberra, and there seems to have been a certain amount of remissness on the part of high officials there in making notes of what they had promised, and what they had undertaken to do. The American Army authorities, having got what they wanted, made no- note of the obligations into which they had entered. Beyond certain documents, which are sufficient in themselves, there is not a complete record of all that transpired to back my protest to the American Embassy here, and to the State Department in Washington. However, there is extant sufficient evidence of the agreement, and there would have been no trouble whatever if the United States Army authorities had honoured the obligations they had entered into. In some instances, instead of returning the girls to Australia at the expense of the United States, the American Army officers persuaded the girls, or the girls persuaded the Army Officers, that they should sign agreements releasing the American Army of any obligations to return them to Australia. Yesterday, I answered a question on this subject, and pointed out that two of the girls who had gone to the United States of America were already stranded there, and their parents were asking the Australian Government to pay their passages back, to this country. Another girl is also in unfortunate circumstances, and I have no doubt that the Australian Government will be asked to bear the expense of bringing her back to Australia also. I have taken my stand on a matter of principle. The United States Government, through officials of the American Embassy in Canberra, entered into an agreement with the Australian
Government, and the United States Army authorities have not fulfilled the agreement. I see no reason why I should make it easy, for anybody, particularly the representatives of a great power, to escape the obligations which they entered into with the Government of this country.
– I ask the Minister lor Immigration whether the young Australian ladies who are known as the “ Manila girls are minors, or whether they have reached the age of twenty-one years? Is it not a fact that, in attempting to force those ladies to return to Australia and bring them in behind an iron curtain in this country, the Minister is acting in breach of the Declaration of Human Rights the draft of which is now being considered by the Committee on Human Rights of the United Nations General Assembly of which, I understand, the Attorney-General is chairman? Is not the Minister abrogating human rights, in breach of that convention, by preventing persons over the age of 21 years from emigrating freely from their own country to any other country? If so, why is he acting in breach of the draft convention and attempting to take coercive action against the young women?
– No restrictions are placed upon the rights of any persons in Australia who wish to emigrate. There is in the instance referred to by the honorable member for New England a special situation, which I went to pains to explain in answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Darwin, in which the Government of the United States is involved because of an agreement which it made with the Australian Government. I propose to continue to insist that the -United States Government shall carry out its obligations. The question whether these girls are minors is beside the point, and in any case I am not in a position to give any interesting details about their ages. The human rights convention, with which the honorable member seems to have a passing acquaintance, is also beside the point. We shall deal with the situation which has arisen as the result of an agreement made with the United States Government and, when that situation has been resolved, we shall take up any other questions which the honorable member might like to ask about human rights or anything else. At present, the right of the Australian Government to have an agreement honoured is the only consideration.
– Does the Minister for Immigration regard the repatriation of the five Australian girls now in the United States of America as a matter of national importance to Australia? Will he also state why the alleged sins of the American authorities should be visited upon the heads of those girls ?
– This matter has been taken far enough in questions. The Standing Orders provide that questions must not be based upon other questions asked in the House on the same day. The honorable member’s question has already been answered in a reply to the honorable member for New England.
Forced Landing of Aircraft “ Kanana
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether it is proposed to hold an inquiry into the forced landing of the aircraft Kanana at Bowning this week? Has he seen a report in this morning’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph in which it is stated that an official of Australian National Airways had said that the pilot, Captain A. G. Hubbard, had failed to use an automatic fire extinguisher when the port engine of the plane caught fire? Has the Minister also seen the statement of Captain Hubbard, D.S.O., D.F.C., and former wing-commander in the Royal Australian Air Force, that he did not know whether he would have had time to use the extinguisher, as his first consideration had been the safety of the 27 passengers and the three members of the crew? Seeing that the pilot performed a magnificent feat in bringing the aircraft down without loss of life, or injury to the 27 passengers and three members of the crew, does not the Minister think that the published statement in the newspaper is calculated to prejudice the pilot’s future? Will the Minister ensure that the interests of the pilot will be protected fit an official inquiry if one is held?
– I have seen a number of press reports regarding the forced landing of the aircraft Kanana at Bowning, near Yass, and I can understand that people might be confused by reading them. I have not seen the report referred to by the honorable member in his question, wherein it is alleged that an Australian National Airways spokesman had said that the pilot failed to use a fire extinguisher which was at his disposal. I. gather from what I have read and from information furnished directly to me that the captain and crew of the aircraft including the hostess, Miss NorthAsh, did a magnificent job in saving the lives of the passengers; but I am reluctant to express any opinion before I have received full information which will be supplied to me by officers who have gone to the scene of the crash to investigate the accident. That entails a thorough technical investigation, and until I receive their report I cannot offer any opinion. It is wrong for any one to speak in advance in any way that might prejudice the members of the crew of the aircraft or any one associated with the accident. All of us admire the skill with which the plane was landed by the crew under conditions of extreme emergency, and I suggest that any person who rnakes statements of the kind to which the honorable member has referred - and, of course, I cannot stop them - does an injury to persons who may have to give evidence at the official inquiry and may have to offer an opinion as to the cause of the accident.
– About three weeks ago I asked the Prime Minister whether he intended to establish a wool-selling centre at Rockhampton and he replied that the matter would be discussed at the meeting of the Cabinet which was held last Tuesday. I have not yet been informed whether the matter was discussed at that meeting, or whether any decision has been arrived at. Oan the right honorable gentleman now supply me with that, information?
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will answer the question.
– Cabinet dealt with this matter at its meeting yesterday, and after a full examination of the position decided to defer further action pending the receipt of assurances from wool brokers and buyers that they would use such a centre if it were provided.
Butter and Tea
– Last week I asked the Minister for the Interior whether he could inform the House of the method by which, the new issue of coupons in respect of the rationing of butter and tea would be made. Is he yet able to supply that information?
– Yes. The new coupons in respect of the rationing of butter and tea will be issued throughout Australia by the Commonwealth Electoral Branch on the 27th November.
– Almost a year ago I asked the Minister for Labour and National Service a question relating to a dispute between two prominent railway unions in Tasmania and he undertook to give me a full reply at a later date. I have not yet received any reply on the matter. When may I expect to receive it ?
– I am sorry if I have overlooked a question asked by the honorable member. So far as I can recall, the dispute to which reference was made is an internal domestic fight between two sections of the one union relating to some trouble that happened in 1917. because no industrial dispute exists between, the Tasmanian Government and its railway employees. I shall look up the honorable member’s question and supply him later with the information he sought.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Tariff Board Act - Tariff Board - Annual Report for year 1947-48, together with Summary of Recommendations.
The report is accompanied by an annexure which summarizes the recommendations made by the Tariff Board and sets out the action taken in respect of them.
Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen - Works at Alice Springs.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is the policy of the Government to make any provision for the settlement of ex-servicemen in territories under the direct control of the Commonwealth.
– The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction will answer the question.
– The honorable member asked this question yesterday. I refer him to the reply which I gave to him yesterday.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior when action will be taken to carry out three important works at Alice Springs for which money has been allocated. The first project is a sewerage scheme, the second is the removal of the cattle yards to another site so that the town may be extended towards the west, and the third is the construction of a causeway across the Todd River to join the two parts of the town. In view of newspaper reports of the last Legislative Council debates indicating that there is very little co-operation between the administration controlled by the Administrator, and the Director of Works in the Northern Territory, and in view of the fact that the Administrator may only requisition for these works and hope for the best, I ask the Minister to give serious and urgent consideration to the appointment of a. committee to control the Northern Territory, with the Administrator as chairman in complete charge, and with senior officers, including the Director of Works, comprising a committee of three or four members, so that we may prevent thisbacking and filling, and the disputes between senior officers in the Northern Territory.
– Order ! A question is designed to elicit information and should not contain comment.
– I have no intention of appointing a committee such as the honorable member has suggested. He is perfectly well aware that the shortage of labour and materials is even more acute in the Northern Territory than it is in any other part of the Commonwealth. The works to which ho has referred have been included in the Estimates, and it is expected that the construction of the bridge over Todd River and the sewerage works at Alice Springs will be completed this year. The Minister for Works and Housing has both matters in hand. The projects to be put in hand also include the removal of the cattle yards from the present site to a site selected just outside Alice Springs. I repeat that the completion of those works will depend upon the supply of labour that is available. In the Northern Territory, as in all other centres, essential works will be undertaken before those that are non-essential. I realize that the construction of the bridge over Todd River, and the sewerage works, are urgently needed to meet the requirements of Alice Springs, and I assure the honorable member that it is intended that both works shall be completed this year.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 5th October (vide page 1177).
Department of Works and Housing
Proposed vote, £2,200,000.
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed vote, £4,568,000.
Department of Trade and Customs
Proposed vote, £1,513,000.
Department of Health
Proposed vote, £477,600.
Department of Commerce and Agriculture
Proposed vote, £846,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– The committee has now to consider the estimates for the Department of Works and Housing, the Department of Civil
Aviation, the Department of Trade and Customs, the Department of Health and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. The time allotted for the consideration of the estimated expenditure by these five departments in the financial year 1948-49 is approximately four hours. Under the Standing Orders, an honorable member is allowed to speak for two periods, each not exceeding 30 minutes, on each question before the Chair on the Estimates, and the Minister in charge of a department, the estimates for which are being considered, is allowed to speak for as long as he likes to speak. If what has already occurred is a guide to what will occur, the Ministers who are responsible for these departments will speak for some time. An honorable member opposite interjects to ask why I am wasting time. In the time that is at my disposal, I can only scratch the surface of these estimates, because I desire that other honorable members on this side of the chamber may have an opportunity to express their views.
I can only deal collectively with the departments that are now under consideration. The Australian people must be amazed at the increased appropriations which are proposed. The amounts by which the estimated expenditure for the year 1948-49 exceeds the amount that was actually expended in the year 1947-48 in respect of the departments now under consideration are as follows: -
Talcing the five departments together, the aggregate amount that the committee is now asked to vote exceeds by £1,314,840 the amount that was expended in 1947-48. The Government apparently does not regard that as an excessive increase. It treats millions of pounds very lightly at the present time. We have to consider the record of these departments in order to see what they are now doing, what they did last year, and what they intend to do in future with this large amount of the taxpayers’ money. The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) has told honorable members of the great plans that his department has for the future. It is not necessary to go very far from Parliament House in Canberra to see what is, in fact, being done. I saw a Department of Information film recently which depicted some of the houses that are now being built on the outskirts of this city and which it said could be the slums of the future. Any honorable member who has taken the trouble to inspect them knows that it is not in the best interests of Australia to build houses of that kind. It is not a progressive move, and a Government that talks of improving the conditions of the people and at the same time allows such houses to be erected is, to say the least, inconsistent. These remarks apply to every city or town in Australia in which the Department of Works and Housing is operating. I have seen some houses in which the bedrooms are so small that if a double bed were put into one of them the occupants would find it difficult to get out of the bed.
In my opinion, Australian civil aviation undertakings are using too much petrol. The quantities that are now allocated to them should be substantially reduced. I remind the committee that the petrol allocations to primary producers have been reduced considerably. Civil aviation in Australia is a luxury, and we cannot afford luxuries that hamper production. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said that he much regretted the recent reduction of petrol supplies for civil aviation purposes. But why should he regret that? Why should he not be prepared to make a further substantial cut to enable those members of the community who are engaged in essential primary production to get on. with their job unhampered by a state of affairs which generally is attributed to the dollar shortage? The proposed vote for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture is £38,385 more than was expended during the last financial year. I invite the Minister to tell us, without occupying too much time and so precluding other members from speaking, some thing about his plans for increasing primary production. If there is any instrumentality in this country which can improve the breed of stock and increase primary production generally, it is the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. I find, however, that only £5,000 is being allocated for the assistance of importers of pedigreed stock. This activity is vital if our flocks and herds are to be maintained at the highest possible standard. Overseas trade publicity is to cost only £21,000 but I find that the sum of £1,500,000 is being provided to finance the New Zealand Wheat Agreement.
– The wheat-growers are getting their full payments.
– As the Minister points out, the New Zealand Wheat Agreement is not costing the wheatgrowers anything. They are paid the full value of their products; but the expenditure provided for in the budget has to be met by the taxpayers of Australia, and it is on their .behalf that I am offering my present criticisms.
The increased expenditure of approximately £190,000 by the Department of Health may be quite justified. Let us hope that it is. If it will mean a corresponding improvement in the health of the Australian people there will be no complaint about it from this side of the committee. However, I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway), who represents the Minister for Health in this chamber, the plight of a young man in my electorate who was a “ blue baby “. He is now eighteen years of age, hut, if he is to live, he requires an urgent operation. In view of the social services contribution that is levied upon members of this community, I should like to know what the Government is doing with cases of this kind. Is there any means by which this man may have his operation without appealing to charity? After all the Government’s talk of what it is doing to assist the people of this country, are urgent cases of this kind still to be dependent upon charity? If the Minister will reply to this inquiry he will be doing a service not only to me but to many people throughout Australia. I believe that any member of this community who requires urgent medical attention should have it.
I wish to deal mainly with the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and specifically with the wheat industry. Unfortunately, questions asked in this chamber about that industry and about other matters coming within the province of this department seem, to annoy the Minister. Occasionally we get a satisfactory answer, but very often we do not. However, outside the House, the Minister is a different man, and always extends the utmost courtesy to members of the Parliament. I remind the Government that the present economic stability of Australia is founded largely upon the wheat industry. To prove that statement. I shall cite some figures. I shall take the No. 10 pool which, generally speaking, covers wheat operations from the 1st December, 1946, to the 30th November, 1947. That is the only complete period in the immediate past for which figures are available. In that season, the Australian wheat crop was 117,262,000 bushels of which approximately 98,506,000 bushels was actually received by the Australian Wheat Board. The rest was kept for seed and for other purposes. Of the wheat that went into the No. 10 pool, the quantity sold in Australia for home consumption, including the making of flour and breakfast foods, was 34,922,000 bushels. This was sold at an average price of approximately 4s. lid. a bushel f.o.r. ports. The quantity sold for stock feed was 22,235,000 bushels, and the average price was again approximately 4s. lid. a bushel f.o.r. ports. It is reasonable to say, taking Victoria as a criterion because my electorate is in that State, that freight to the seaboard averaged 4 1/2d. a bushel. The cost of administration may he placed at approximately the same figure, making a total of 9d. to be subtracted from the 4s. lid. a bushel, leaving 4s. 2d. a bushel. The total quantity of wheat sold in this country was 57,157,000 bushels which is far more than half of the quantity held in No. 10 pool. The point I wish to make is that the average price of wheat overseas during the period of that pool was 15s. 8d. a bushel, of which 2s. 2d. a bushel waa retained for stabilization purposes and will, as the Minister has said, be repaid later. Taking the difference between 4s. lid. a bushel at ports, and 15s. 8d. a bushel at ports at 10s. in round figures, and the total homeconsumption sales at 57,157,000 bushels, the wheat-grower contributed to the national economy approximately £28,578,500 in respect of No. 10 pool alone. Has any other Australian industry made such a valuable contribution? On top of that, of course, the income of wheat-growers was taxed. In my electorate some wheatgrowers were paying 10s. in the £1 income tax. This meant that if they harvested eight bags to the acre at £1 a bag, they paid £4 an acre to the Government exclusive of indirect taxation Is it any wonder that I had to ask the Minister only yesterday when the price of wheat for home consumption would be increased? The Minister has said definitely that the Government will stand by the index figure that has been fixed. In Australia it would appear that the days of very low prices for wheat are past, although nobody expects overseas prices to remain at their present high level. It is probable, however, that for many years to come the cost of wheat production in Australia will be at least twice as much as it was ten or fifteen years ago although the home consumption price has advanced by only ls. Id. a bushel. Wheat-growers are contributing to the Australian economy vast amounts of money as I have clearly shown by my reference to No. 10 pool. Let us examine what the Government is doing for the wheat-growers, and what it should do if it took a long-range view. The Minister for Immigration often tells honorable members that Australia must increase its population and that it must admit millions of migrants to this country. There is only a certain area of Australia that is suitable for wheatgrowing. It should be our desire to foster the wheat-growing industry and not to take such large sums of money from the wheat-grower. The wheat-grower is heavily taxed but obtains very little from the Government in return. The Government’s attitude to the wheatgrower might be summed up in these words : “ Prices are high overseas. You are receiving some recompense for many years of drought and low world prices. We intend to bleed you white “.
The Government should do more for the growers of this great product than it. does now. There is too much Australian wheat being sold at concessional rates. 1 do not object very strongly to such sales for human consumption but one must consider first, the vast quantity of breakfast foods on the market; secondly, the cost of wheat for human consumption in Australia which is at least 10s. a bushel less than the average export price for No. 10 pool wheat, and thirdly, the fact that every loaf of bread, biscuit and cake bought or made by Australian housewives is made from wheat that was bought at that lower price I think my point has been thoroughly subsantiated. It is only by considering these aspects that honorable members can even start to realize the contribution that the wheat-growers, are making to stabilize the economy of this country. When a drought occurs, similar to that now occurring in north Wimmera in my electorate and, according to the honorable member for Grey, to the one now occurring in South Australia, what does the Government do for the drought-stricken wheatgrower? If he is lucky it gives him 12s. an acre.
– Previous governments gave only 2 s.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order !
– The honorable member for Riverina may interject as much as he likes, but the fact remains that the wheat-grower receives only 12s. an acre in the circumstances T have mentioned.
Mr. Langtry interjecting.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Riverina is disorderly.
– That amount of 12s. an acre, considered in relation to the great contribution to the Australian economy which is made by the wheatgrowers, is as nothing at all, because at the present day, with the high cost of tractors, fuel oil and other equipment necessary for wheat production, it does not pay a fraction of the cost of sowing wheat apart from all other operations in connexion with the industry.
Mr. Langtry interjecting,
– You should be cooperating with me, since you represent a wheat-growing area.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member for Wimmera will address the Chair.
– The honorable member for Riverina should be cooperating with me in trying to obtain a better Heal for the wheat-growers.
Mr. Langtry interjecting,
– Order !
– I shall proceed when the honorable member for Riverina coots down. We hear too much from this Government about what happened 20 or >P years ago, and the honorable member fur Riverina is a real star turn in that line.
Mr. Langtry interjecting.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I shall name the honorable member for Riverina unless he desists from interjecting.
– I should not like the honorable member for Riverina to be named, as I wish him to put up a fight on behalf of the wheat-growers later in this debate. The Government is overlooking the real value of the vast wheat industry. Individual wheat-growers come and go, but the Australian people hope that this Commonwealth will become a great nation in the future. For that reason, the very basis of the foodstuffs to be consumed by our increasing population must be fostered and maintained. The wheat industry is not being so fostered and maintained under the Government’s present policy. The Government has sold more than 20,0.00,000 bushels of wheat at concessional rates for stock feeding. Because of the difference between prices which aru received for wheat sold in Australia and overseas prices, wheat-growers have lost by those sales alone an amount of about £11.000,000. That amount is in effect a contribution to the nation’s economy, but it is only a fraction of the real contribution made by wheat-growers. The Government is selling wheat at conces sional rates to raisers of pigs and poultry and to other people. If the Government desires to assist poultry-farmers or pigraisers or farmers with starving sheep, let it do so by all means, but on the same basis as that on which the Government sold wheat to New Zealand. That is to say, let the Government pay from Consolidated Revenue the difference between the overseas price for wheat and the prices received for wheat sold at concessional rates. Why should New Zealand get a separate deal? I should like honorable members opposite r,o answer that question, but no one seems to be able to answer it; at least, no honorable member opposite has ever attempted to do so. If I went into partnership with some one to start a poultry farm, for which I required 1,000 bushels of wheat, why should the wheat-growers have to keep me going? It is time this unfairness was ended. The Australian Country party holds that wheat for human consumption in Australia could be. sold at cost of production plus a margin of profit, but that when wheat is sold at concessional prices the difference should be paid by the Government and not be wholly borne by the grower. I see that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard is .busy at the table and I know what he will say when he rises. He will tell us that the wheat-grower “can’t have it both ways “. He will tell us that prices for wheat were low many years ago and that at that time the wheat-grower was pleased to take advantage of the home-consumption price in Australia, which was then our best market. That debit has been wiped out long ago. It was wiped out on the price rise in the first few months after the recent world war, so that argument is no longer valid. To-day wheat-growers all over Australia, including those in my electorate whom I. represent, are asking how long the present state of affairs is to continue. It is possible, and has been possible in the past, that all the wheat grown in Australia could be used for home comaumption, but prices ruling overseas go as high as £1 a bushel whilst the price iri Australia of wheat for stock-feeding is 4s. lid. a bushel at ports. When there is a drought and the wheat crop is poor it is likely that the Government will sell an even greater proportion of the wheat crop for stock feeding than it does now. I represent many woolgrowers, and I say that when sheep are starving during a drought we can supply wheat to1 feed them as the Government, on a previous occasion, arranged in regard to Queensland. I believe that the Government should take action to assist stock-owners in emergencies, but it should provide wheat at concessional prices and pay the difference to the growers. As soon as sheep get on their feet again, although there may be a break in the wool, after a bad time they may be shorn and the wool sold for export at world parity prices, which are not restricted by the Government, but the unfortunate wheat-growers who provide feed for the sheep do not receive any corresponding benefit. Wheat sold at concessional rates which is consumed by stock helps to produce meat and wool for sale at high prices overseas. If the Minister can explain such an anomaly then he is a genius. I want him to assure us that a definite limitation will be placed on the sale of wheat as concessional prices. The Minister has dictatorial powers to interfere in the handling of wheat and to order wheat to be sold at concessional prices. We object to the way such power has been used by this Government. I have always advocated stabilization- of the wheat industry. which requires stabilization more than does any other primary industry, but wheat-growers are genuinely apprehensive that the Minister will step in and order more and more wheat to be sold at low prices in Australia. The wheat industry has already done far more than its share to maintain the national economy, and it should not be called upon to make any further contributions.
I should like the Minister to make a definite statement of the Government’s intention in regard to the concessional sale of wheat. Is it intended that wheat shall continue to be sold at the present concessional prices, or that the volume sold shall be reduced or increased? Wheat-growers are most anxious that the Minister should furnish a definite answer to that question. For the moment it may be taken that wheat-growers are in accord with the present homeconsumption price, plus a margin of profit of wheat for human consumption, but they object most strongly to any increase, or even a continuance, of the present volume of sales at concessional prices for any other purposes. Such sales are harassing wheat-growers and are not in any way assisting the wheat industry, which is of such vital importance to this country.
Mr. Pollard having been called,
– I rise to order. I endeavoured to obtain the call before the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, but he was preferred. For three days I have been seeking to obtain the call in the debate on the Estimates, but on each occasion a Minister -has risen simultaneously. What is happening is quite obvious.
– Order! The Chair did not see the honorable member for Reid earlier. I have called the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
– In making his contribution to the debate the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull) was good enough to refer to me as being one of the most courteous persons honorable members could wish to meet outside the chamber. However, he then suggested that my attitude inside the chamber towards members of the Opposition is discourteous, particularly when replying to their questions. I think that I can fairly say that I endeavour to set an example of courtesy when I answer questions in the chamber. However, the honorable member for Wimmera and other honorable members opposite often ask questions not with a view to soliciting information, but in order to manufacture political propaganda for their use, and whilst I endeavour to answer all questions factually, when tricky questions are asked I treat them as such when replying to them.
The honorable member for Wimmera confined his speech to an attack on the Government’s attitude towards the wheat industry. He said that the great majority of wheat-growers in his constituency, as well as wheat-growers generally, were dissatisfied with the Government’s treatment of the industry, but I am convinced that the honorable member has no justification for making that assertion. The plain fact is that members of the present Government survived the general elections held in 1943 and 1946, and at each of those elections the Australian Labour party placed before the electors, and particularly those in wheatgrowing areas, its plans for the stabilization of the wheat industry. At each general election the people, including the wheat-growers, endorsed the statements of policy made by the Australian Labour party, whose candidates received a substantial number of wheat-growers’ votes. That, in itself, indicates substantial support by the wheat-growers for the Government’s stabilization plans. I know that from time to time various members of the Opposition, including particularly the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) and the honorable -member for Wimmera, who have a special interest in the wheat-growers, have complained that the Government is unsympathetic to the industry. In ventilating their complaints they have stressed the importance to Australia’s economy of the industry, but the Government is by no means unaware of that importance When the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully), who preceded me in the portfolio of Commerce and Agriculture, introduced a measure in 1946 to provide for the stabilization of the wheat industry, I went to considerable trouble, in the course of my speech, to quote statistics which indicated the vital importance of the industry to the national economy. I think that I adequately illustrated the impact of the industry on railway revenue, on employment generally in primary industries, and on the future of the agricultural implement manufacturing industry in this country. I also emphasized the importance of wheat to the pastoral and poultry industries and even to the dairying industry. Those are commonplace facts to most honorable members, and no one can deny the impor.tance to Australia of the wheat in dustry. The present Government has realized the great importance of the wheat industry, and that is why it has endeavoured for several years past to place the industry upon a proper basis by providing an adequate scheme of stabilization. In 1946, my predecessor, as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, the present Vice-President of the Executive Council brought down a wheat stabilization plan-
– And sold some wheat to New Zealand.
– The operation of that plan was conditional upon the cooperation of each of the State governments of Australia. Each of them, irrespective of their political complexion, undertook to introduce the necessary complementary legislation to enable the legislation passed by this Parliament to become operative; but unfortunately the degree of stabilization which the Commonwealth legislation would have ensured did not become an established fact principally because of the antagonism and party political propaganda of the party to which the honorable member for Wimmera belongs. Largely for that reason some of the States failed to enact the requisite complementary legislation. It is true that in some States a ballot of wheat-growers was held, but the proposal was not taken any further. That the wheat-growing industry has been effectively temporarily stabilized since 1946, and that we have been able to operate an effective organized marketing system for wheat has been due not to the legislation brought down by my predecessor but to the fact that we have been able to continue to market wheat under the defence power. In spite of that the Government’s wheat stabilization scheme has been opposed throughout the Commonwealth by the friends and allies of the honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable member for Indi. Reference has been made to a challenge in the High Court in the . Nelungaloo case, in which the Government’s power compulsorily to acquire wheat was challenged by the former honorable member for Riverina, Mr. Horace Nock, and his associates. Encouraging Mr. Nock in every way were the members of the Liberal and Australian Country parties, and all the people who in the past have allied themselves to an open marketing scheme for wheat in this country.
– Did not Mr. Nock have a right to approach the court?
– Nobody challenges the right of any citizen to approach the court. I am merely pointing out that those who opposed the organized marketing of wheat in Australia were members of the tory parties opposite and their allies. Since the States failed to pass the necessary complementary legislation, this Government has never let up for a moment in its endeavours to bring to successful fruition a wheat stabilization and marketing scheme. At last, I am pleased to say, all indications now lead us to believe that in a short period - within three weeks or a month - it will be possible to introduce into this Parliament another wheat stabilization bill. By an 30 per cent, majority the wheat-growers of Victoria have signified their willingness to have their State government introduce complementary legislation for this purpose. The good news has come over the air that, by a 62 per cent, majority, and despite the opposition of their selfstyled friends in the tory parties opposite, the wheat-growers of Western Australia have also signified the desire that the Western Australian Government shall also introduce the requisite complementary legislation to bring to fruition the effective wheat stabilization and marketing scheme announced by the Government some months ago. Never at any time have we let up in our efforts to bring about stability in the wheat industry. Notwithstanding the activities of the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and his friends and political associates we have gone from point to point in our endeavour to reach a satisfactory solution of the problems of the wheat industry. When the honorable member for Richmond saw that we were at the point of success he had the effrontery to come into this Parliament and say that I had called this plan the “ Pollard plan “. I have never made such a statement. I have not the vanity of the honorable member for Richmond. T have never claimed that any plan I may have evolved in association with the officers of the department over which I preside should have my name appended to it. In that respect I am perhaps rather different from some members of the parties opposite. We all know of the Paterson butter scheme, though why it was called the “ Paterson scheme “ I do not know. It was propounded by an officer of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, but because Mr. Paterson happened to preside over the department at that time, it was called the “ Paterson plan “. The honorable member for Richmond falsely states - a practice not unusual for him - that the plan now before the Australian wheat-growers was not suggested by me. It is true that it has never been called the “ Pollard plan “ and it never will be so called; but it is completely untrue to say, as the honorable member has said, that I had searched through the files of my department and finally found a plan which had been propounded by a former Minister for Commerce, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), and that I called it the “Pollard plan “.’
– Every line of it shows that it is the “Page plan”.
– Throughout all the endeavours and strivings of this Government to evolve a wheat stabilization plan, the honorable gentleman and his associates have condemned its efforts in season and out of season. The wheatgrowers in Victoria, by a large majority have indicated their belief that this plan has been evolved solely for the purpose of placing the wheat industry on sound foundations, thus improving the economy of this country to the degree that it is dependent upon the wheat industry. Notwithstanding that endorsement of the Government’s plan the honorable member blatantly says that the plan is the “ Page plan “. He says, “ This is my former leader’s plan. It has been lifted from the files of the department, redressed and styled the “ Pollard plan “. If it were in fact the “ Page plan “, why then do not the honorable member for Richmond and his associates bless it and say that it is the finest plan ever propounded in the interests of the wheat-growers of this country ? The honorable member has condemned the plan purely for political propaganda purposes. Like his colleague, the honorable member for Indi, the honorable member month after month condemned the Government’s plan, but when he saw the writing on the wall he said that we had stolen the plan from the Australian Country party. Why should I bother to search the files of the department to find a plan that had been propounded by a to ry government? Everybody knows that when anti-Labour governments were in office no effective plan was evolved for anything, it is for that reason that honorable members opposite have endeavoured in every way to counter the strenuous efforts made by the Labour Government to alleviate the difficulties of the unfortunate primary producers of this country who, while governments formed by the Opposition parties were in office, were, in every sense of the. word, in a perilous condition. The “ greatest “ plan that the right honorable member for Cowper ever introduced was the famous debt adjustment scheme. He thought it was “ great “ but everybody else viewed it with disgust. That plan placed the wheatfarmers of this country merely on subsistence, and they were put in the invidious position of being able to meet only part of their commitments. Every plan that this Government has introduced, including this one, has been a plan which goes beyond the provision of a mere subsistence for the farmers, and has committed all the taxpayers of this country to contribute an amount sufficient to ensure that the standard of living of the wheat-farmers and the dairyfarmers shall be based on similar calculations as apply to the determination of the standard of living for all other people in Australia. That has never before been provided for in the history of the Commonwealth of Australia. It matters not whether the price of wheat rises or falls in two years’ time because the people of Australia are committed to see that the wheat-farmer gets his cost of production, based on the index figure which indicates variations in the cost of production.
– What about the concessional sales?
– In respect of the concessional sales in the past-
– But what of the future?
– And also in the future, the plan has been accepted by the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, with the reservation that they maintain the right to press for more generous treatment in respect of concessional sales. There will be no change in the plan. It provides that each State Government, within the confines of its own State, will fix the price of wheat for internal consumption at 6s. 3d. a bushel, varied from time to time according to fluctuations in the cost of production of that wheat. That will apply whether the wheat be required for human consumption or for stock feed. The honorable member and members of the Australian Country party would be well advised to be very careful in respect of this matter, since it affects, substantially, flour and bread prices within Australia. Does the honorable member for Wimmera desire to put the price of bread up considerably ?
– I referred to wheat for human consumption.
– Does the honorable member want to be responsible for an increase of the cost of living to the railway men and others in his electorate, to a figure substantially above the cost of production to the wheatfarmers concerned? Does he wish to be responsible for the adoption of a policy that would substantially inflate the already high prices of eggs, both within Australia, and outside? Does he desire to make the position of the poultry-farmer utterly impossible by charging 10s., 15s. or 17s. a bushel, or whatever the external parity price of wheat may be?
– The Minister knows that he did not suggest that.
– The honorable member suggested that the price in Australia for stock feed should be the external price. So also did other members of the party to which the honorable member belongs. The effect of that would be a fiftyfifty proposition that portion should be sold in Australia at a high price and another portion at a lower price, which would be quite impracticable. I say to the honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable member for Indi that this matter has been well thrashed out in the electorates of Western Australia and Victoria, and despite all the propaganda and all the propositions submitted, a majority of wheatgrowers of those States have voted in favour of a plan which gives justice to every section of the community. Let us consider the stock feed proposition. In the last three months the Government has received many telegrams from people in Western Australia, including Mr. Wood, the Minister for Agriculture, requesting that thousands of bushels of wheat be made available to save sheep which were starving. Is it suggested that those unfortunate sheep breeders of Western Australia, whose sheep were dying because of drought, should pay the overseas parity price of wheat? In many instances they themselves are wheatgrowers. Let us analyse the politically- inspired demand by this section of theprimary producers, or any other members of the anti-Labour parties, in respect of this product. Pig iron is the basis of the agricultural implement manufacturing industry, but do honorable members realize that if Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited were allowed to increase the price of pig iron to overseas parity, the price in Australia would rise from approximately £6 a ton to about £12 10s. a ton? The immediate effect would be increased prices for harvesters, ploughs, plough shears, discs, seed and top-dressing equipment, separators and their parts, milking machines, and every other portion of farming equipment which is manufactured in Australia. Whilst some farm machinery, such as tractors, is not manufactured in Australia, considerable quantities of farm machinery are manufactured in this country. Let us consider the situation in regard to the manufacture of galvanized iron which farmers require for their fowl sheds and other buildings, and as protection from damage by rats, weevils, and political propaganda disseminated by members of the Aus- tralian Country party. The price of zinc in the markets of the world is £93 a ton, yet the zinc producers of Australia are required to sell zinc within Australia at £22 a ton in order that such products as galvanized iron and wire netting may be ‘ sold to the primary producers at a price in line with the Australian internal economy. It must not beforgotten that in the United States of America the wages paid to the unskilled workers in this industry is at the rate of about £3 a day. The honorable member for Indi has argued that growers should be paid world parity prices for that part of their wheat consumed in Australia. If his argument be sound, the wage earners, without whom the wheat could not be produced or transported, are entitled to overseas wage parity rates, namely, £3 a day.
– The honorable gentleman has a wonderful imagination.
– My imagination never leads me away from facts, but the honorable member for Indi, under the influence of his imagination, wanders far from facts up the curly garden path. Already, he has lifted envious eyes from his own electorate of Indi to the plains of Barkly. Similarly, the distinguished and much decorated honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin), as soon as the boundaries of the new electorates were published, saw that the division of Bendigo was likely to be uncomfortable-
– Order !
– I am sorry that I am not allowed to tell the whole story. As I have previously stated, when the Government was frustrated in its attempt to promote the welfare of the wheat industry - largely because of the political machinations of the Opposition - it immediately brought in alternative proposals. The Government has stuck to those proposals until at last we have worn down all opposition. Honorable members opposite have at last become convinced that the growers do not believe what they have been saying, as has been demonstrated in the ballot of wheat-growers in two States. Therefore, honorable members opposite have relinquished the fight. From now on, their attitude towards the Government’s wheat plan will be very different from what it was in the past. The growers have received much better treatment from this Government than from anti-Labour governments. When the honorable member for Indi was asked, while his party was in power, to arrange for the payment of an additional 3d. a bushel, which even then would have brought the price to only half the cost of production, he said, “ I refuse to embarrass the Government “. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Fuller), the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Langtry) and the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) have never refused to put the case of the wheat-growers on the ground that it might embarrass the Government. In caucus and at cabinet meetings they have strongly pressed the claims of growers to a price that would at least meet the cost of production. The Government’s plan has now been accepted by practically all the growers, and will be in operation before long. It is opposed by a few tories in the Wheat Growers Federation, but most of the leading members of that organization are urging the growers to accept the plan, and there is no doubt that it will be accepted in all States. Indeed, so confident is the Government of this, that Commonwealth legislation to implement the plan has already been prepared. Similarly, the State governments, whatever their political complexion, will introduce complementary legislation. Let me read from a document which sets out the Government’s stabilization proposals : - (.1) The Commonwealth Government shall guarantee a price of 6s. 3d. a bushel f.o.r. ports bulk basis for wheat grown and delivered by wheat-growers.
– While the world parity price is 17s. 3d. a bushel.
– Is the honorable member for Indi opposed to the plan? Has he courage enough to get up and speak against it? The honorable member has retired into his shell, and become notably silent since the growers expressed their approval of the plan. Further proposals are -
It was stated at a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council that some of the States were prepared to have the plan administered by the Australian Wheat Board, the States merely appointing superintendents. Other States preferred to appoint boards of their own. I can see no reason why such a matter should not be left to the States to decide for themselves. According to a press report, the Victorian Government has decided not to set up a board, but to carry on through the Australian Wheat Board as hitherto, the board acting through a State superintendent.
– Is the Minister ever going to appoint a chairman of the Australian Wheat Board?
– Yes, but he will not be a friend of the honorable member, nor any one of whom the honorable member would approve. The plan also provides -
Honorable members are aware that legislation is already before the Parliament to provide for the refund to growers of the tax imposed in respect of wheat for the 1945-46 and 1946-47 seasons.
– That is the money which the Minister said he would never give back to the growers.
– I have never made any such statement. The fact that the money is now to be paid to the growers indicates that circumstances have changed as the stabilization funds have become substantially stronger, and that the Government does not desire to withhold from the primary producers money which they have contributed to those funds. That is a fair proposition. Under the plan -
The Commonwealth agrees that it will not hold an excessive amount in the fund, and it will consider a refund of tax to the oldest contributing pool whenever the financial prospects of the fund justify it. The State Ministers agree-
Those Ministers were representative of every political party - to recommend to their governments the passage of legislation necessary to ensure -
The home consumption price equal to the guaranteed price.
That legislative authority exists in each State to empower the direction of wheat by the Australian Wheat Board at any time to an approved organization as defined in proposal (4) above. (<2) The regulation of wheat-growing on marginal areas which have been reconstructed under the plans approved for the elimination of uneconomic wheat areas, and the establishment of a committee to advise in cases where action to regulate wheat-growing on marginal areas is necessary.
Some misunderstanding has arisen with respect to the growing of wheat in marginal areas. It is well known that under the reconstruction plans of some States farmers are allowed to grow wheat in order to enable them to rotate their crops for the more efficient conduct of their farms. Farmers are allowed to market the limited quantity of wheat grown under those conditions, but in the main such wheat is used for stock fodder or to build up fodder reserves. That position will not be substantially altered under this plan. The conference also agreed - subject to acceptance by the respective State governments -
That is the plan which is proving acceptable to the organized’ wheat industry. It is quite clear. The honorable member for Wimmera had something to say with respect to control.
– Let some one else have a “go”.
– The Minister for Works and Housing told the Minister to keep going because he does not want the estimates in respect of his department to come under fire.
– I rise to order. Under the Standing Orders an honorable member is allowed 30 minutes to speak to the Estimates. The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) has been reading long slabs from documents, knowing that this debate is restricted by the application of the guillotine and that other honorable members will thereby be precluded from speaking. Therefore, in utilizing so much time he is offending against the spirit of the Standing Orders. Should he not observe the same time limit as is imposed upon honorable members?
– The Minister is not subject to any time limit when discussing the Estimates.
– I admit that I do not mind frustrating the honorable member for Indi, but, at least, I am endeavouring to be courteous to the honorable member for Wimmera by complying with his request that I elucidate the various problems about which he expressed grave concern. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) raised the question of the ultimate control of wheat.
– The Minister is stone-walling.
– The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) is the “ dizzy limit “ when it comes to stone-walling. He should be lined up withhis colleague the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) and placed in concrete. That would make him a good “ stone-waller “.
– Order !
– With respect to the ultimate control of wheat, I have said over and over again, but I deem it wise once more to repeat, that-
Motion (by Mr. Bernard Corser) put -
That the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) be not further heard.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. T. Sheehan.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Less than two hours remain for honorable, members to express their views on the proposed votes for five important departments, namely, the Department of Worlds and Housing, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of Trade and Customs, the Department of Hearth and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. For nearly an hour the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), acting contrary to all parliamentary ethics, indulged in a rambling discourse on the stabilization of the wheat industry and other subjects. I could say a good deal about the Department of Trade and Customs, which, 1 consider, has incurred wasteful expenditure. Approximately 40 persons were appointed to the Australian delegation to attend the International Conference on Tariffs and Trade at Geneva, and another large delegation subsequently attended a trade conference at Havana. Their only achievement has been to knock away the props which, in the past, have supported imperial trade. When the House is considering the International Trade Organization Bill, I shall deal with that subject, because I believe that those people in Australia who believe in fostering our secondary industries have been betrayed. The established policy of protection will be destroyed, and, in fact, imperial preference will be ultimately abandoned. Had I sufficient time at my disposal I should also refer to the retention of primage duties. The prices of many imported goods are much too dear because of excessive primage duties, which were originally imposed purely for revenue purposes. I could also speak at some length on the admittance of goods under customs by-law. Duties have been imposed for protective purposes on the importation of many classes of goods, but many of those articles are not being produced in this country in sufficient quantities to meet the local demand. We urgently require from overseas Oregon and other timber for building purposes, but the Government has refused to permit such timber to be admitted under by-law. The Government has also ignored the Tariff Board. The law provides that the Government shall consult the Tariff Board before making any variations of duties, yet, so far as I am aware, it is prepared to adopt the proposals of the International Trade Organization, without having obtained the views of the board. However, I shall deal with those matters more extensively when we are considering the International Trade Organization Bill.
The proposed vote for the Department of Civil Aviation has been increased for this financial year by more than £700,000. This department has done and can continue to do a great deal to develop aviation in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 18.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was dealing with the proposed vote for the Department of Civil Aviation. The Government is seeking a complete monopoly in civil aviation. It intends to remove all competition, as it sought to do with regard to the banks. When the High Court was asked, to rule whether the legislation to nationalize civil aviation in Australia was in accordance with the Constitution, the Government was told that it could run an airline in competition with private airlines. It is now competing with private airways operators in various ways and, I submit, in many unfair ways. I propose to confine my remarks to that subject, because time is short and other honorable members want to talk on other matters. Yesterday, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Drakeford), presented an illuminating document to the Parliament. It is the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission for 1947-4S, and it is appropriate that we should have it in our hands at this moment. Paragraph 12 of the document reads as follows: -
Trans-Australia Airlines objective is to provide a service of national importance sustained by its own earnings-
That is a little ironic. The paragraph proceeds -
The Commission feels that it is well on its way towards the achievement of this purpose.
Although Australian National Airlines Commission has had £3,670,000 advanced to it, Trans-Australia Airlines incurred a loss, according to the report to to which I have referred, of £296,801. During the preceding ten months it incurred a loss of £505.927. It is useless to rail against the Government’s policy. We know that Australia is a Socialist Government and that it is out to nationalize everything. It was thwarted by the High Court in what it sought to do with regard to civil a viation. If it indulges in socialistic enterprises, it should at least try to ensure that they pay their way. Under private enterprise, which is sometimes sneeringly referred to as capitalism, it is the shareholders in a concern who have to bear the losses, hut if an enterprise run by the Government incurs a loss it has to be made good by the imposition of taxes on the whole of the people. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Australia who do not make use of the services that are provided by Trans-Australia Airlines, but nevertheless that undertaking is financed by money that is taken from the pockets of the people in the form of taxes. The money is squandered in an orgy of socialistic extravagance when it could be used for a better purpose. The Estimates for other departments are how before the committee, and it will not be out of place if I say that restrictions’ are imposed upon the importation of many articles into Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr.
Chifley) knows that the deaf people and their associations have been in constant communication with him concerning the provision of efficient deaf aids and articles used in the manufacture of batteries which are on the list of forbidden imports from dollar areas. Because the Government is determined to conduct a nationalized air service, it is not only prepared to lose £700,000 in operating costs during the last two years and advance enormous sums to it, hut it is also prepared to use valuable dollars to buy aircraft for the service, and at the same time to frustrate private companies which also wish to purchase aircraft. By means of questions addressed to the Minister for Air 1 extracted the information that approximately 2,500,000 dollars was expended upon the purchase of Convair airliner.* for Trans-Australia Airlines. I do not propose to criticize the Convair aircraft. In these days all aircraft are good, and some are better than others. When an aircraft is said to be designed to carry 40 passengers, I expect to see four engines in it instead of two, but that is a matter of taste. In addition to buying Convair airliners, the Government has spent, approximately 1,000,000 dollars upon the purchase of spare parts and has sent a number of engineers to America in order to learn how to service the aeroplanes. A private business enterprise would have arranged for one or two engineers to come to Australia with the aircraft and to instrucother engineers here. In that prodigal way the Government has played with the money of the taxpayers, and I submit that it has not acted fairly to them.
I do not propose to indulge in criticism of the Minister, who resents any criticism of his department, but I do criticize this extravagance and wastefulness. I have no interest in aviation except that I was a pioneer of it and desire to see it prosper in Australia. One’s remarks are sometimes twisted by people who wish to misrepresent, but I desire to pay a tribute to the air crews of Trans-Australia Airlines. They are the same kind of men as those who operate the private airlines. They are chosen from the excellent young men who were trained under the Empire Air Training Scheme, and by the aero clubs and other organizations. I know many of them personally. I say that the standard of operations in Australia is good, in spite of occasional disasters. This Government, however, in the running of this government enterprise, has resorted to unfair tactics in order to put other operators out of existence. The proposed vote for the Department of Civil Aviation is now £4,568,000, or £719,000 in excess of the department’s actual expenditure in 1947-48. This department had ii good record in regulating aviation and in helping it in many ways, but it is now being used by the Government as an instrument to harass the private companies. There are some officials who have positions with the National Airlines Commission and also in the regulating department, which sees all the secrets of the private companies. The appointment of the chairman of the commission, Mr. Coles, was a political appointment. Mr. Coles, the former member for Henty, crossed to the Labour side of the House at a critical time and his services were rewarded by his appointment as chairman of the National Airlines Commission at a salary of £8,500 a year and expenses. The deputy chairman of the commission is also a Labour appointee, representing the Sydney Trades Hall. Those two persons were not concerned with aviation at the time they were appointed to their present positions, although they may have learned a great deal about it by now. [ submit that the Government could have done better than that and prevented the waste of large sums of money.
E say deliberately that the Government has been guilty of unfair practices. There are some gems in the report from which I have already quoted that should not be overlooked by honorable members. 1. have already referred to the passage which sets out the objectives of TransAustralia Airlines and to its losses. Paragraph 19 of the report reads as follows : -
On the 1st November, 1947, T.A.A. made its entry into the Northern Territory when, as successor to Guinea Airways Limited, whose goodwill was purchased, it took over the operation of the thrice-weekly DC3 service from Adelaide to Darwin-
All the world knows that Trans-Australia Airlines forced Guinea Airways Limited out of existence. Guinea Airways Limited is the company which opened up the New Guinea gold-fields and initiated a service between the north and south coasts of Australia. It has been eliminated by the government airline, which is supported, by all the financial resources of the nation. The company threatened to take some action against the Government. I do not know the details, but I do know that a sum of money was paid and that Guinea Airways Limited does not now function on this route. The report states that the goodwill of the company was putchased, and I propose to leave it at that, although I point out that that is the way in which a private trust or a monopoly forces the little man out of existence. Do members of the Labour party believe in that policy? They say that they are opposed to monopolies, and so am I. I do not believe in monopolies in private enterprise, but I consider that a government monopoly is worse. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited is often attacked as being a monopolistic company. It is a large company that has absorbed others, but there are at least seventeen or eighteen other private airways companies operating in Australia to-day. In addition, the Government can exercise control over private companies through the medium of their charters.
I propose to show what the Government is doing in connexion with a small airways company that is operating in Queensland. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) has referred to this case before, and I now propose to give more details about it. There has been criticism in the Queensland press of the fact that, on the service from Townsville to Mount Isa, aircraft operated by Trans-Australia Airlines and Townsville and Country Airways Proprietary Limited take off on certain days within five minutes of each other, and that there are no air services between those points for some days afterwards. A correspondent has written to me directing my attention to certain letters that have appeared in the Queensland press. His letter reads -
I am enclosing for your information two cuttings from the Townsville paper which I think apeak for themselves.
In particular, I would say that we entirely agree with the absurdity of these planes going through on the same day, leaving the other days blank of air services.
The letter of Mr. Montgomery makes it perfectly plain how this has occurred and does reveal the outrageous tactics adopted by T.A.A. in their attempt to crush this little organization of returned airmen who committed no crime except to use their rehabilitation moneys for the purpose of establishing a good little airline and carrying an air service to quarters where it was badly needed.
When this strange anomaly of aircraft taking off within five minutes of each other from a certain Queensland airfield occurred, the manager of this company wrote the following letter: -
After our pioneering the route at great expense, we, returned airmen, were disillusioned when the Government-owned T.A.A. extended its services to incorporate our route apparently hoping to reap the harvest of our labour and decided to run their services on the same day as ours but to leave Townsville five minutes before our scheduled time and the reason does not leave much to the imagination.
Would such a practice be regarded as ethical in the business world? I imagine that no private company would behave in that way towards a rival organization, but the Government, in its desire to crush all opposition, is prepared to go to any lengths. This company is operated by ex-servicemen who served in the Royal Australian Air Force during’ the war. They began the service with Anson aircraft, exhibiting the proper pioneer spirit that has made aviation in Australia what it is to-day. Subsequently, they purchased a Douglas aircraft to expand their service, but soon ‘ afterwards Trans- Australia Airlines came into the field. The letter continues -
Further than the Douglas service T.A.C.A. provides an Anson service outwards on Wednesdays and return on Thursdays each week and this service has been in operation for two months. My company at all times is anxious to co-operate with the western folk who have patronized our airways so loyally, and kept us in the air, and is prepared to increase the service according to the demand, which could only be done by Anson aircraft, this in turn being governed by petrol allocation.
I do not wish to be unf air to the Minister, but I do not think that he has explained adequately in this chamber why this particular field was invaded by Trans-Australia Airlines in an attempt to defeat private enterprise.
I come now to the petrol allocation. Nearly a year ago, when civil aviation matters were being discussed in this chamber, I said that I believed that the Minister had had a conference with the airline operators on the allocation of petrol with a view to reducing consumption. Incidentally, at that time I also drew attention to the fact that, the Minister was using an aircraft to travel to and from Canberra, a practice which, I am glad to say, he has abandoned. The Minister denied that any arrangement had been made in regard to the allocation of petrol, and I had to accept his assurance on that point. A Minister has the advantage of being able to turn to his departmental officials for a statement on any matter that is raised in this chamber, and members of the Opposition must accept such statements. We hear rumours and we submit them to the Minister with whatever authority they may have. On that occasion I said that I understood that some conference had been held on the question of petrol, and if my recollection is correct, the Minister gave a flat denial; but let me quote from the current issue of Aircraft, the Melbourne aviation journal on this matter. It says - . when the first warning was issued by the Department of Civil Aviation that petrol conservation was to be an overriding consideration in service expansions, it was realized that a peg would have to be applied to progress. Now that peg has been applied. By Cabinet decision, it has been decided that unsubsidized scheduled services are to be restricted to a monthly quota 5 per cent, less than their usage at July 1, 1948; that subsidized services are restricted to their usage at that date; and that contract operators, aero clubs, and similar purposes are to bc pegged at a usage rate 10 per cent, less than at that date. For this purpose, the department defines a subsidized service as one for which a payment is made by the Government over and above any contract for the carriage of mail. The result, as we forecast when restrictions were mooted, is that expansion of air transport, one of the most vital features of Australia’s post-war development, will come to an abrupt halt. Depending on how the decision is implemented, it may mean that some services will be cut altogether, but nearly all will have to be trimmed. A ruthless attitude by the Department of Civil Aviation may have the effect of doubling the force of the blow on such an airline as A..N.A. In response to earlier appeals, A.N.A. voluntarily introduced cuts in services which yielded an 8 per cent, saving in fuel consumption. Those cuts became operative on June 28 - three days before the date set by the Government as the basis for a compulsory cut of 5 per cent. As a further conservation move, A.N.A. had run inter-capital freighter services on an unscheduled basis, holding aircraft until they were packed with freight, rather than send them oil’ at a fixed time with a partial load. While dollars remain the yardstick by which development of aviation in the Commonwealth is to he measured, it is obvious that some peg is necessary, but the pegging must be equitable to all operating companies.
According to the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission, TransAustralia Airlines has expanded its services considerably in the last six months ; yet that is the period during which the “ stand still “ policy was supposed to operate. I believe that it was in thatperiod also that Trans-Australia Airlines duplicated the Queensland service to which I have referred. Apparently, although a brake was placed upon private enterprise, Trans-Australia Airlines was permitted to offer full blast competition.
I come now to air-mail subsidies. After Trans-Australia Airlines had made the colossal loss of £500,000 in ten months, the method of subsidizing air mails was altered. The subsidy paid to the private companies for the carriage of mails was 025d. per lb. mile, and apparently this was regarded as an adequate remuneration; but when it was found that TransAustralia Airlines could not pay its way on that basis, it was decided that a payment of approximately £325,000 should be made by the Postal Department to TransAustralia Airlines for the carriage of mails. This information was elicited in answers to questions asked in this chamber. There is a reference to the matter in the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission. On page 4 of that document the following statement appears : -
Payment for mail carriage is made in a lump sum fixed annually in the light of the services, frequencies and capacity available. Under this arrangement, Trans-Australia Airlines has accepted not only the mails regularly transmitted by air but also special and additional consignments tendered by the Postmaster-General’s Department during periods of interruption of normal transport facilities and in other circumstances of special emergency.
Apparently Trans-Australia Airlines is so unsound financially that it cannot continue the practice established by private enterprise of carrying mails on a poundage basis, and to make its accounts look a little better, the lump sum subsidy system has been reverted to although it is being discarded everywhere.
There is much more one could say in connexion with the four departments now under discussion, but the Government is insisting that the votes, totalling more than £10,000,000, shall be approved in a few minutes. The Minister who spoke before me occupied fifty minutes with a rambling speech which could have been delivered in much less time. I hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation will not speak at length. If Ministers must speak, let them reply tersely and to the point. The Government is pouring out in socialistic ventures money which has been wrung from the taxpayers of this country, and these ventures should all be examined. We realize that that is the Government’s policy. It intends to nationalize everything that it can lay its hands on. We know that the Minister for Civil Aviation was a signatory to the infamous 1921 Labour declaration that the party intended to nationalize the means of production, distribution and exchange. That policy was copied from Russia, and its presence in the Labour party’s platform has defamed the Labour movement. I hope that soon it will be excised from Labour’s policy, and that the Labour party will, in its objective, come closer to the name by which it is known. Nationalization has been attempted in the aviation industry which is vital to this country’s development. The industry has been pioneered by outstanding Australian airmen who have been in no way beholden to the Government for their success. I remind the Government, too, that had British aircraft of the Viking type been purchased instead of the Convairs now being delivered from America for Trans-Australia Airlines, the saving to this country would have been substantial. Great Britain would have benefited from the purchase, and our dollar shortage would have been eased. The Government was unwisely advised to purchase Convairs and has dissipated the taxpayers’ money on this venture. It is mot at all surprising that Trans-Australia
Airlines is running at a loss. The Government should examine the position again and endeavour to find a better basis so that less public money will be wasted.
– The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) always commences any speech he makes in this chamber by criticizing a Minister. I do not resent constructive criticism from any source, but if the criticism is carping, as was that of the honorable member, I do resent it and obviously must reply to it, probably in the same spirit. When criticisms have already been shown to be on fallacious grounds they must he refuted. The honorable member has said that the Government’s policy is to nationalize everything. He ignores entirely what the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has repeatedly stated in this Parliament, that the programme of the Labour party is to nationalize enterprises essential to the conduct of public utilities. Surely airlines constitute such an enterprise. Honorable members overlook what is happening in many countries of the world. The last time I addressed the House on this subject I said that nationalization of airlines was being undertaken in Britain and France, and that Norway, Sweden and Denmark had agreed jointly to operate government airlines. There are many other government airlines operating in other parts of the world, including Trans-Canada Airlines in Canada. That particular airline has been operating for a longer period than Australia’s nationalized airline, and with some success. Honorable members opposite have suggested that government airlines are bound to lose and are run in a manner which is not in the best interests of the community while private air-lines invariably make profits. They have failed to inform themselves on how private airlines have been operating since the inception of civil aviation in this country. The honorable member for Balaclava referred to the fact that a mail subsidy of 325,000 was being paid to TransAustralia Airlines, and appeared to imply that such subsidies were paid to government airlines only. There is a nongovernment airline operating to Australia at the present time which is said to be subsidized by mail payments of more than a dollar a mile for the round trip at a cost of £6,000 twice weekly while the British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines service to America receives no subsidy other than actual payment on a poundage basis for the mail which it carries. By subsidizing Trans- Australia Airlines for the carriage of mail the Government is placing that airline in a position to carry His Majesty’s mails, and 1 believe that that is the proper thing for the Government to do. Trans-Australia Airlines is under contract to carry any mail offered, and during the Queensland rail strike which lasted for a period of nine weeks, it carried all mail to and from that State. Similarly, during a period when the Bass Strait steamship service was not operating, TransAustralia Airlines carried all mail to and from Tasmania, and not only first-class mail. Its contract provides that it shall do so.
To refute the statements by honorable members opposite that government airlines always lose and that private airlines always pay I shall quote the latest figures available for some airlines which operate in the very citadel of private enterprise, the United States of America.
-What about those operating in Australia?
– I say quite definitely that I believe Trans-Australia Airlines has done a splendid job in Australia. It has been operating for only 21 months. For the first nine months of its existence it did. not have a full fleet and had to face heavy establishment costs, as do all airlines in their early days. Notwithstanding those factors it has cut its lasses considerably in the last year compared’ with its first nine months of operation.
– The taxpayers pay for its losses.
– There are plenty of railways which the honorable gentleman’s party established that have been losing for years.
– What about the American railways?
– American railways have lost heavily, too. I shall quote figures from an authoritative source, the
Civil Aeronautics Board of the United States of America, in connexion with the operation of United States domestic airlines. These airlines operate within the United States itself, and their operating losses in 194S compared with 1947 were as follows : - In the year ending the 31st December, 1947, the operating losses for sixteen domestic trunk airlines was 20,900,102 dollars as compared, with a net loss of 5,621,832 dollars for the year ending 31st December, 1946. For the first six months of this year the aggregate loss was 11,866,36S dollars compared with 15,963,301 dollars for the same period last year. Fourteen of these sixteen domestic airlines showed losses in the first six months of this year.
– What does that prove? Let the Minister compare like with like.
– I am showing that in the most highly developed private enterprise country in the world privatelyoperated airlines are running at a loss.
– Whose money are they losing?
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), having a lawyer’s mind, will probably twist the figures that I have given, but he will not be able to refute them. I can understand honorable members opposite being disturbed by these figures.
– What about Ansett Airways Limited?
– Ansett Airways Limited lost about £11,000 on airlines, but recouped itself by its operation of pioneer coaches and hotels, where the tariff is unrestricted. It is not possible for me to say what Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited lost, because that company does not publish any figures, as it is a proprietary company. Honorable members opposite have in the past attempted from time to time to obtain figures relative to the operation of Trans-Australia Airlines. In doing so they are only attempting to gain ammunition to furnish competitors with some ground of criticism against’ Trans- Australia Airlines. As Minister for Civil Aviation I am thoroughly satisfied with the efforts of Trans-Australia Airlines to operate a good service. There is no better service operating anywhere and I believe even honorable members opposite will admit that freely.
I shall cite some additional figures in respect of American Airlines, which is probably the biggest domestic airline operator in the United States of America. Between January and June of this year it lost 4,457,287 dollars as against an operating loss of 3,279,822 dollars in the same period last year.
– How long has that airline been carrying on at a loss?
– It has been carrying on at a loss for some years, although during the war, in common with airlines everywhere, it benefited from the density of traffic. Now that the Government is engaging in competition with the private airlines, it is revealed that fourteen of the sixteen major airlines are losing money year by year. However, I hope that they will not continue to do so. The losses incurred by British Government airlines have also been considerable. However, I want to be quite fair, and I must point out that when Imperial Airways Limited were operating airlines in the United Kingdom, that company incurred heavy losses for the share of the passenger traffic which it carried, and a subsidy had to be paid by the Government. Of course, honorable members opposite do not object to the payment of considerable subsidies to private concerns which incur losses, but when a government-operated concern loses money subsidies are a dreadful thing. The fact that Imperial Airways Limited and British Overseas Airways Corporation lost heavily is undeniable, but the loss is justified because those airlines had to keep the British flag flying over the international air routes. Nevertheless, I hope that before long I shall be able to announce that, the London-Sydney air service is paying its way. But when I am able to make such an announcement no praise will be forthcoming from members of the Opposition because the Government happens to own that service. Eastern Airlines lost 3,749,000 dollars, which was a greater loss proportionately than it incurred during the previous year, because whilst the total annual loss decreased from 16,000,000 dollars to approximately 12,000,000 dollars, only two . of the large companies which were operating domestic airlines under the aegis of private enterprise made a profit, and the profits earned by those two companies were used to offset the loss of the whole of the United States of America. So much for the argument that private enterprises invariably operate at a profit whilst government concerns must necessarily lose money.
Reference was made by the honorable member for Balaclava to the appointment of Mr. Coles to the Australian National Airlines Commission. -The reference was a most unfair one, and the results of the commission’s operations contain ample refutation of the criticism. However, if I did not answer the criticism I would be twitted by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who interjected., with not being able to reply to it. Mr. Coles’s highly successful commercial career proves that he is a most capable business man, and his appointment to the commission was a wise one. Another member of the board, Mr. Taylor, has been criticized on the ground that his appointment was made for political reasons. However, Mr. Taylor is a successful practising solicitor and is highly thought of by those who have come in contact with him. Criticism of the appointment of the other members of the board is also unwarranted, because it is obviously desirable that both the Treasury and the Department of Civil Aviation should be represented on the board. A good augury for the future of TransAustralia Airlines is the increasing number of passengers carried by the airline in the last six months. That increase proves conclusively that there is a growing demand for air travel and that people are realizing the value of the government airline.
The honorable member for Balaclava alleged that the Government was crushing a small company in Queensland. The facts are that for a considerable time negotiations were conducted between the Australian National Airlines Commission and the Queensland Government to operate a service in that State. It was never intended that the service should be operated profitably. Intra-state services in Queensland had previously been operated - by Qantas Limited, and those services have now been taken over by Trans-Australia Airlines. The act formerly provided that one month’s notice had to be given before a new airline could be commenced, and the requisite notice was duly given by the .commission. However, two or three days before TransAustralia Airlines was about to commence a service to Cloncurry, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited offered to provide a Douglas aircraft, because the small company which was then operating could not do so. The Government has no desire to crush competition or to harm any one engaged in civil aviation. I remind honorable members that many of them have repeatedly approached me with requests that better aerial services be provided for remote parts of the country. It cannot be denied that the Government has always considered such requests sympathetically, and that it has paid to private airlines large sums in subsidies to provide such services. The Government’s policy generally. is to promote the development of civil aviation throughout Australia, and in order to do so it is necessary to provide additional facilities, which entail the expenditure of increased amounts of public money. Criticism was directed at the Government recently on the ground that sufficient radar equipment and other navigational aids were not provided by the Department of Civil Aviation. However, some time ago the -Government formulated a programme to improve facilities and completion of that programme will involve the expenditure of £5,000,000. Completion of the programme will place us in the forefront of international aviation. At present only one country has better safety and navigational devices than Australia, and that country, the United States of America, is, of course, the wealthiest in the world.
– No one criticized the expenditure of money to improve flying facilities.
– It should be borne in mind that most of the increased expenditure provided in the Estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation is for capital expenditure. I did not intend to mention that fact, but since the honorable member for Balaclava raised the matter I think I should emphasize that. At the end of the recent war the total staff employed in the Department of Civil Aviation was only approximately 700. To-day the number has increased to 2,700. During the war the staff of the department had to be restricted because men were not available. The air force had established navigational aids in various parts of Australia, and those installations had to be taken over by the department after the war. Does any honorable member suggest that an increase of the staff of the Department of Civil Aviation for that purpose was not necessary? I am convinced that the staff of that department is doing as good a job as the staff of any similar organization in any other country. One has only to meet people engaged in civil aviation in other parts of the world to realize that Australia is recognized as a very progressive power in aviation, and as long as I am Minister for Civil Aviation I shall endeavour to maintain and to promote our reputation.
The honorable member for Balaclava was good enough to say that in criticizing the Government’s policy he was not criticizing me personally, but he went on to say that I always resent criticism. That is a foolish statement, because I do not resent sound criticism of the department or of the Government’s policy in regard to civil aviation. I desire to emphasize that because I feel that the remarks of the honorable member might have created in the minds of people who heard them the impression . that the Government is not desirous of obtaining the assistance of those who are qualified to advise and assist us in matters of civil aviation.
I propose to say something now with regard to the Convair aircraft which were purchased recently by the Australian National Airlines Commission. For months a campaign of criticism was waged to the effect that the aircraft were not suited to Australian conditions and that their purchase, particularly at the present time, was a waste of money. That criticism has been completely refuted by the performances of the aircraft which has arrived in Australia. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton) was one of the first to criticize the purchase of Convair aircraft. He accepted an article in Smith’s Weekly, which is one of the most unreliable newspapers in this country, as being true, and he based his criticism on it.
I know that honorable members opposite are disturbed because I have refuted so completely the criticisms which they have been making for so long. They are particularly incensed, of course, at my exposure of the falsity of the criticism which they directed at the purchase of aircraft for Trans-Australia Airlines. Those aircraft were purchased by the Government for the service of the people of Australia.
– The Minister will not deny that their purchase entailed the expenditure of a very large sum of dollars ?
– The dollars were provided before financial restrictions were imposed in Australia. The contract for the purchase of the aircraft had been made previously, and, in any event, the present Government does not repudiate its contracts. It might interest honorable members to know that although the Convair aircraft have only two engines, it has been proved again and again that they can fly a full load quite satisfactorily on only one engine. Furthermore, although the critics of the Government alleged that their range was restricted to only 800 miles, it has been demonstrated that the range is as great as 1,300 or 1,400 miles. Indeed, the first hop flown by the Convair aircraft which arrived recently was 1,250 miles. The aircraft was loaded to within 100 lb. of its “ all-up “ weight.
– What was the total cost of the purchase of the aircraft?
– With spare parts and everything thrown in, the five aircraft cost less than £500,000, or approximately £91,000 for each aircraft. A lot of foolish assertions have been made and misleading statistics have been quoted to discredit the performance of the Convair aircraft, but the performance of the first of those aircraft to arrive in Australia has already dispelled much of that criticism. I have no doubt that when the aircraft are taken into operation they will increase the number of passengers carried by Trans-Australia Airlines in a way that will alarm some of the champions of private enterprise. I do not intend to revert to the appointments of Mr. Coles and Mr. Taylor except to say that I am thankful to have the services of such men on the Australian National Airlines Commission. - Nothing outrageous was done in connexion with the commencement of the Queensland service to which the honorable member for Balaclava referred. It was commenced by arrangement with the Queensland Government, which was the only State government willing to co-operate with the Australian Government. Most of the State governments, not necessarily antiLabour governments, did not want the Commonwealth to enter the field. We are going on with that contract. We do not expect to make a profit from the service. Indeed, it will have to be subsidized for a while. But had we not commenced to operate it even the small company formerly providing the service - I believe it is called Inland Air Service Proprietary Limited - would probably have been the victim of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, just as were each of the eight or nine companies which were swallowed up by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited before this Government decided to commence a government airline. If the honorable member for Balaclava is opposed to monopolies he should be opposed to expansion of that kind by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. No one has ever heard me decry the efficiency of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, or take advantage of anything that might have happened in its operations. I realize that in air operations anything may happen at any time. People who boast about the safety of this or that airline may find their boasts shattered at a moment’s notice. All that we can say is that in Australia generally, air operations have been on a basis that should give the people confidence in air transport. The proportion of air accidents- in Australia is very small indeed, by comparison with air accidents in other countries. I deplore the tendency to give extensive press publicity to air -accidents and to minimize road and railway accidents in which, comparatively, the loss of life over a number of years has been fairly considerable.
The honorable member referred to what he described as the harassing tactics of the Department of Civil Aviation, but he cited no instance to justify his statement except that certain petrol restrictions had been imposed on the operating companies.
– If I had the time to do so I could give the Minister many instances.
– Undoubtedly the honorable member did not want to take up too much of the limited time at our disposal. Neither have I any desire to do so. The honorable member produced no evidence to sustain his charge. He simply wants it to be thought by the people that the Department of Civil Aviation leans towards Trans-Australia Airlines to the disadvantage of the other companies. That is completely untrue. The department is being fairly administered and I hope that it will continue to be so administered in the future. So little has been said in this debate regarding the Estimates of the department that I do not think that it is necessary for me to deal further with them.
If honorable members will read the third annual report of the Australian National Airlines Commission, they will see that the operations of TransAustralia Airlines have been fully and fairly covered. Nothing has been hidden, and there is no desire on the part of the commission to hide anything. Referring to Guinea Airways Limited the honorable member stated that I had said that the goodwill of the company had been purchased by the Commonwealth. In its third annua] report, the Australian National Airlines Commission states -
On the 1st November, 1947, Trans-Australia Airlines made its entry into the Northern Territory when, as successor to Guinea Airways Limited, whose goodwill was purchased, it took over the operation of the thrice-weekly D.C.3 service from Adelaide to Darwin.
It is true that the Government compensated Guinea Airways Limited for its goodwill, notwithstanding that before the service was taken over by TransAustralia Airlines, Guinea Airways Limited had received a government subsidy to operate the Northern Territory service. The honorable member sees nothing wrong with paying subsidies to private companies to maintain air services but when a government-controlled airline incurrs a loss, even on a service in what is known to be an unprofitable area, the honorable member is critical. Criticism of that kind is offered solely for the purpose of making political capital out of the alleged intention of the Government to nationalize everything.
The Department of Civil Aviation is administered efficiently and its affairs are conducted fairly and with justice to all airline operators. Trans-Australia Airlines has done a splendid job for Australia and I hope that it will continue to do so. I trust that Qantas Empire Airways Limited will, in the near future, be able to break even or perhaps show a little profit. Government airlines, wherever they are operating in Australia, are doing as well as any airline operated by private enterprise. Furthermore, Government airlines show a great deal more consideration to the public than has ever been extended by the private operating companies at any time.
.- It is obvious that, with the strict limitation of time, and the number of departments grouped together for the purposes of the debate, no continuity of discussion can be achieved. I wish briefly to bring under the notice of the Government what I regard as a glaring instance of neglect on its part. I refer to the shortage of wire netting in this country and the need for importing wire netting from dollar countries. The importation of wire netting is, I submit, absolutely necessary as a temporary arrangement in order to bridge the gap between existing requirements and the present output of Australian manufacturers. If this neglect is continued the consequence will be a trail of ruin in this country which may well take generations to repair. The Government seemsto be completely oblivious of the position. Landholders have been waiting for years for the fulfilment of orders for only five or six coils of wire. It is reasonable to expect that many more years will elapse before local producers can hope to meet the demand. In the meantime, irreparable damage is being done to pasture lands all over Australia.
It is a well established fact that with all the devices that science can bring to their aid, landholders in hill country, with a reasonable rainfall, are never more than a single step ahead of the rabbit menace. To-day they are fighting a losing battle because of their inability to obtain supplies of wire. Recently the honorable member forWilmot (Mr. Duthie), in asking a question on this subject, made the rather novel suggestion that rabbits should be the agents of their own destruction. The honorable member asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) whether the proceeds of the sales of rabbit skins in the United States of America could be used for the purchase of wire netting to guard against the rabbit menace in Australia. It was a logical question but because it was logical the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was stumped for an answer. I have seldom seen the Minister knocked off his perch. He is usually capable of going around, underneath or clean over a question with the greatest facility. In this instance he failed to do any one of those things. The best he could do in a lengthy reply was to say that the high-pressure sales agency, by which term he described the American concern willing to supply wire netting, had failed to mention the price at which it was prepared to sell wire netting to Australia. This high pressure agency, which one can regard only as an enterprising private concern quite legitimately trying to push its wares, immediately remedied the deficiency, and let the Minister, and every member of Parliament, know exactly the price of its goods. Then we get this answer from the Minister, sent by him to a constituent of mine who was anxious to control the rabbit pest on his property-
Certain suggestions have been made that dollars should be provided for the purchase of wire and wire-netting which, it is stated, is available in the United States of America. On subsequent investigation, however, quite apart from the dollar aspect, it has been ascertained that the costs are far in excess of the locally manufactured commodity; for example No. 17 gauge 42-in. x1½-in. wire netting, landed on wharfs in Australia from America, is priced at £6 per 100-yd. coil. Added to this would be distribution and agents’ charges. The local price for the Australian article is approximately £2 12s. per 100 yards for 18-gauge 42in. x 1½ in.
The Minister concluded his letter in this fashion -
Similarly, inquiries I have made regarding wire from the Continent show that the price is greatly in excess of locally manufactured goods.
Under these circumstances I am sure you will agree that, even if available, the imported article would be uneconomical from the Australian primary producers’ point of view.
That would he an excellent answer if it were possible to get wire netting in Australia, even within a reasonable number of years. However, it is well known that the assets of landholders are usually in the form of property, and not money in the bank. What does the Minister think would be most acceptable to a landholder troubled with rabbits - to have £l00 in the bank while his property was deteriorating, or to lay out £108 for the purchase of a mile of wire netting with which to protect the asset which he had been acquiring all his working life? There can be only one answer to that question. Therefore, I support the request of the honorable member for Wilmot and urge that consideration be given to the practical suggestion that money raised by the sale of rabbit skins should be used to subsidize the purchase of wire netting in the United States of America. I am sure that farmers would prefer to pay £108 a mile for American netting, so that they may protect their properties now, to waiting an indefinite time to buy Australian netting for £46 a mile. If the rabbit menace is allowed to develop at the present rate it will leave a trail of ruin for future governments to contend with. I propose to quote from some of the highpressure sales literature which this American firm has distributed among honorable members. I commend the firm for its interest in Australian conditions, and for its business acumen. The firm has been at some pains to find out Australia’s requirements in wire netting, and has collected data showing the destruction resulting from neglect on the part of whoever is responsible. In the last analysis, that must be the Australian Government, because the purchase of wire netting from overseas is bound up with the dollar position. The following extract from the company’s printed matter is informative: -
It is reported that the maintenance of more than 500 miles of the 2,049 miles of rabbit fencing erected over 30 years ago, in the north-west pastoral country of Western Australia, at an outlay of over £300,000, to block rabbits travelling from the eastern States, will shortly be abandoned mainly owing to the lack of netting material. It is also reported from the same source, that some of the most settled parts of Western Australia are already overrun with the pest, as they have by-passed the fence in millions.
Does that mean anything to the Government? The following letter was received from a grazier in New South Wales, which is much nearer home -
Our property, which is only 105 miles from Sydney, has a present carrying capacity of only 1,500 sheep, as compared with 6,000 sheep before the property was overrun with rabbits. Beyond our southern boundary, about 4,000 acres of good sound country can now carry no stock whatever - the rabbits have completely ruined it.
Does that register with the Minister? Only one sheep is being grazed now where four were previously grazed. Only one bale of wool is being produced from an area which formerly produced four, and all because wire netting is not available. The writer of the letter continued -
We have written to our federal member, asking him to make representations to the Government to permit the importation of American wire netting, barbed wire, fencing wire and corrugated iron.
I have heard members of this Parliament pressing the claims of graziers in this respect. Here is an example of good basalt grazing country being ravaged by rabbits so that many years must elapse before its productivity can be restored. The Governor of New South Wales, Lieutenant-General Northcott, when opening the Sydney Sheep Show in June last, said that Australia’s sheep population was the lowest since 1924, and that wool production was lower than for 22 years. This must have some relation to the facts I have adduced.
– Australia lost 24,000,000 sheep because of drought.
– I am speaking of the destruction wrought by rabbits. Graziers are imploring the Government to obtain American netting, and the facts which I have stated ought to shake the Government out of its complacence. I cannot understand how the Government is able to ignore such representations. Instead of doing anything effective, Ministers point to their budget of over £500,000,000, scratch one another’s backs, and then agree to limit the time allotted for consideration of the Estimates. It has even been arranged that Ministers should use most of the broadcasting time so that the people may not hear members of the Opposition criticizing the Estimates. Let me quote the following verse from the gospel of St. Matthew: -
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul
I might ask, what is the nation profited if, for the sake of saving a few miserable dollars, we lose a large percentage of the productive capacity of our land? That is a reasonable paraphrase of the question in St. Matthew. Honorable members will be interested to learn about the nature df some of the goods which Australia has imported from the United States of America in recent years. In the period 1945-47, we had a trade deficit of 142,569,000 dollars with the United States of America. Even under normal conditions, we would not regard that deficit with any pleasure. Australia is a land of plenty, and probably has a greater abundance of food than any other country, but we imported foodstuffs of animal origin at a cost of 4,000,000 dollars and foodstuffs of vegetable origin at a cost of 2,751,000 dollars. Did we need to import foodstuffs of animal and vegetable origin? .Are we not exporting goods of that kind in great abundance? We also imported spirituous and alcoholic liquors at a cost of 34,000 dollars, and I notice that items described as “ miscellaneous “ cost 43,430,000 dollars. However, in that period, we did not import one coil of netting. I should like to know what goods are included in the description of “miscellaneous”, and I suggest that the Government should prohibit the importation of foodstuffs of animal and vegetable origin and spirituous and alcoholic liquors, and expend the dollars so saved on wire netting for the purpose of assisting our graziers.
Honorable members opposite should never forget that our graziers are respon sible, and will continue to he responsible, for the maintenance of our high social services structure. If primary industry were to collapse through any cause at all, such as a decline of prices overseas or a fall in production, the Governments house of cards would collapse overnight. Honorable members know that perfectly well. . The social services fabric, costing £90,000,000 per annum, which exceeds, the total Commonwealth budget in prewar years, has been .made possible by unprecedentedly high revenues, but that rate of expenditure could not be maintained if the price of wheat fell to 3s. a bushel and the price of butter to ls. 6d. per lb. The primary industries on which the Government must depend for the maintenance of high revenues, are being shamefully neglected. Because honorable members opposite can see a strip of green grass outside the main door of Parliament House, they believe that everything in the garden is lovely. They do not seem to know or care what is happening in the extensive grazing areas.
I urge the Government to look into this problem again. It is always looking into this or that problem but never achieves any result. Ministers do not wear the right coloured spectacles. Is not a dollar loan preferable to the ruin which will follow the continuance of the neglect which I have described? Honorable members opposite have heard the statistical report. They must realize that imports such as those to which I referred are superfluous. But we do require wire and wire netting to assist our graziers to maintain the national revenue at its present high level. The suggestion that the money obtained from the sale of rabbit skins in the United States of America should be used for the purchase of wire netting in America to help to combat the rabbit menace in this country is worthy of examination. I hope that the Government will not ignore it.
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) has made some remarkable statements about the supply of wire and wire products in Australia, and has depicted scenes of desolation and destruction throughout the wheat and grazing areas. From the picture which he painted, one- could be excused for believing that the agricultural industries were completely devastated as the result of the lack of fencing materials.
– I referred to the pastoral areas and not to agricultural areas.
– Very well. The fact is that in the period from 1946 to 1948, the manufacture of wire and wire netting was equal to the pre-war figure.
– Equal in value to prewar production?
– It was equal in tone weight of wire and wire products. Therefore, if the conditions of desolation in the pastoral industry, to which the honorable member for Gippsland has referred, really exist, they certainly did not result from the Labour Government’s neglect. Since the end of the war, the average monthly tonnage of wire and wire products manufactured is equal to the prewar figure. The honorable member for Gippsland has merely told another sob story.
– The primary producers have to wait two years before they can obtain supplies of wire and wire netting.
– That is perfectly true, and the reason is that many primary producers are now in a better financial position to buy wire. Many of them had not ordered wire for fifteen or twenty years, because when anti-Labour governments were in office, they were not in a financial position to do so. That is the truth. The honorable member for Gippsland also said that Australia’s sheep population had never been lower, and he attributed that position to the little bunny. He completely ignored the fact that Australia lost 24,000,000 sheep as the result of drought. That explanation did not mean anything to him. He attributed the loss entirely to the lack of wire netting in the pastoral industry.
– Keep to rabbits.
– -Or der ! The honorable member for Gippsland was heard in silence, and I ask him not to interject.
– I deserved to be heard in silence.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member must be silent now.
– In Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, a bigger percentage of sheep are raised, not in the pastoral areas, but in the agricultural areas. The honorable member for Gippsland interjected earlier that his remarks applied only to the pastoral areas. I remind him that two-thirds of the wool produced in Victoria is grown in agricultural areas and not in the pastoral areas. The honorable member also told another little story about the rabbitproof fence in Western Australia. I have some knowledge of the rabbit-proof fence because my farm is situated only 7 miles from it. The honorable member complained that the rabbit-proof fence had fallen into a condition of disrepair because of inability to obtain supplies of wire and wire netting. What he did not state was that the rabbitproof fence was maintained in good order and condition when the quantity of wire and wire netting produced was no greater than the present production , of those materials. If the rabbit-proof fence could be maintained on the basis of the prewar production of wire and wire netting, why is it not possible to maintain it with the same production at the present time? The honorable member obviously does not know the position in Western Australia. He said that there are as many rabbits inside the rabbit-proof fence as there are outside it.
– I did not.
– At any rate, that statement would be perfectly true. That position has obtained for twenty years, ever since I have been farming. So the honorable member’s complaint on that score may be described as “just another little rabbit pulled out of the hat “.
– That position has not obtained for twenty years.
– Probably the only time that the honorable member has visited Western Australia was when he accompanied the Broadcasting Committee there. After he had his tour, he resigned from the committee and said that it was not doing useful work.
– If the Minister want? any more of that, he will get it.
– The honorable member for Gippsland advocated that Australia should purchase quantities of wire netting from overseas. Of course, it is not possible to buy any netting in the sterling area.
– Rubbish ! What about Belgium ?
– If supplies are available in Belgium, why do not Australian graziers buy their requirements from that country?
– Because the Government will not permit them to do so.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member for NewEngland must remain silent..
– He could not remain silent if he tried.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I will take action if he does not.
– Large sterling credits are held by the Government and they could be used for the purchase of these articles, but the fact is that they are not available. The same remarks apply to supplies of wire from Britain. It has been said in this debate that the heavy duty imposed on British wire prevented the Australian farmers from purchasing it, but no duty is imposed on imported British wire. Honorable members opposite should ascertain the facts before making such statements in this chamber.
I turn now to some of the matters affecting my own department that were mentioned by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Turnbull). I did not propose to deal in detail with them, because they are of a very minor nature, hut the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) said that I was encouraging the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) to continue with his fine speech on the wheat industry, because I feared that my department would be criticized. I am not afraid of any criticism that may be made of my department or of its actions during the last two years.
If the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain), who is interjecting wishes to participate in this debate, he is quite welcome to do so. I am prepared to answer any charge against my department that may be made by the honorable gentleman or any other member of the Opposition. The honorable member for Wimmera said that there had been an increase of £252,000 in the administrative costs of the Department of Works and Housing. That is true. The honorable member went on to ask what the department did. I point out that on many occasions he, in common with other honorable members, has written letters to me in which he has asked for certain work to be done. Such requests have have referred to the construction of aerodromes and post offices, and to other maintenance and construction work that is undertaken by the Department of Works and Housing. What is the reason for the increase in the departmental administrative costs to which the honorable member for Wimmera referred? The largest part of the increase is due to the expansion of the staff of the department to deal with constructional work on the guided weapons range. Does the honorable gentleman imagine that that work could be undertaken by the normal staff of my department? An extra sum of money is required to pay the technical officers who are engaged in the work on this project that the Department of Works and Housing is undertaking for another department. Additional staff has also been necessary for works in New Guinea. At one time, the New Guinea Administration had its own Public Works Department, which operated under the control of the Department of External Territories. The Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) asked me to take over certain responsibilities with regard to public works and town planning in New Guinea.
– Is the Department of Works and Housing building the model native village?
– It is not building a model native village, but it is building a modern town near Rabaul. It is also doing work at Port Moresby and Lae. On Manus Island, which has been taken over by the Australian Government following the evacuation of the American troops, the department is engaged in demolition and constructional activities on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy. That also entails an increase of staff. Another cause of the increase in expenditure is the increased rates of pay that were recently granted to all public servants.
– And to the 40-hour week.
– It has nothing to do with that. It is due to the increased rates of pay that were granted to all public servants, and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) ; knows as much about it as I do. Another reason for the increase is that ;the War Service Homes Commission has been abolished and its work is being undertaken by a section of the Department of Works and Housing. The salaries of certain architects, surveyors, and other officers are now charged against my department. Another factor is the necessity to engage additional staff to carry out the increased maintenance and constructional work that is required to be done by the department. The total value of the work that was done by the Department of Works and Housing last year was approximately £9,000,000, but it is anticipated that in the next twelve months that sum will be exceeded because of the availability of larger supplies of materials and the greater amount of labour that has been made available by the action of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) in bringing Bait migrants to this country. A considerable amount of unskilled labour is being made available to my department and it is expected that much more engineering work which requires such labour will be undertaken. Engineering works on a considerable scale are in progress in Canberra. I refer to drainage and water conservation schemes, among other things. In the Northern Territory, a sewerage system will be constructed for the town of Darwin. Considerable maintenance work will be required to be done on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation. Many of .the airstrips that were constructed during the war now require to be resealed, and that will entail the use of much labour. It is intended to maintain many of .these airstrips for use by civil aviation undertakings and for defence purposes.
– Has the Minister seen the bridge on the road to Fairbairn aerodrome, which was constructed by his department?
– That bridge was constructed during the war, and before I became a member of the Parliament. I believe it was finished in 1942 or early in 1943. It has not been very satisfactory, because it has been washed away on two or three occasions. I do not desire to criticize the engineers who constructed it, because we all make mistakes.
– They would probably be shot in Russia.
– Thank goodness that the conditions that exist in Russia do not exist in Australia yet.
– “ Yet “ is the right word.
– They will not exist if this Government remains in power. The only time when this country may be subject to fascist control - because, after all, fascism and communism are twin sisters - will be when the Liberal party is in complete control of the country, ‘ if that time ever arrives. There will be no danger of fascist or communist control while the Labour party forms the government of Australia.
Sir Earle Page interjecting,
– The conditions in which communism breeds existed in this country when the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), the tragic Treasurer, got Australia into such a financial position that it could not borrow from Britain-
– I rise to order. The “ guillotine “ has been brought into operation in this debate on the Estimates, thus limiting the right of honorable members effectively to criticize the administration of various departments. The Minister is supposed to be addressing himself to the Estimates before the committee, but is dealing with communism and fascism purely in order to waste time. I ask you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to direct him to confine his remarks to the Estimates.
– The Minister was provoked’ to reply to interjections from honorable members of the Opposition.
– If honorable members opposite had displayed some degree of good manners and tolerance they would not have caused me to “ go off the rails “ in answer to the right honorable member for Cowper, who, in fact, did the greatest amount- - ‘-
– I take a point of order. I regard the Minister’s statement as distinctly objectionable and lying.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The right honorable gentleman himself is just as offensive as, or more so than the Minister was. I ask him to withdraw his statement accusing the Minister of lying.
– 1 withdraw that statement.
– If the Minister has made any reflection on the right honorable member for Cowper I ask him also to withdraw it.
– In deference to the Chair, I withdraw anything which might be objectionable to the right honorable gentleman. I am sorry that the honorable member for “Wimmera is not in the chamber at present, as I shall conclude my remarks by giving a final answer to another of the statements that he made. He stated that the houses being built in Australia are nothing other than slums and that when he got into bed he did not have enough room to get out again. As a matter of fact I believe that that honorable member is in a state of perpetual sleep.
– Why does not the Minister adhere to the truth ? The honorable member for Wimmera said “ some of the houses “.
– Then what did he mean by “ some of the houses “. Did he mean those built under the CommonwealthState housing agreement? Why does not the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) adhere to the facts? He does not know what he is talking about. I shall quote from a newspaper report of a statement about the standard of building in Australia which was made by Mr. A. S. P. Sangster, a building expert who- is. the general works> manager of Wunderlich Limited. The report reads -
After travelling more than- 25,000 miles, to find out, Mr. A. S. P. Sangster, building expert, of Strathfield, declares that Australia’s rebuilding programme is one of the best and wisest in the world’.
That is not a statement made by a member of the La/bour party.
– Did Mr. Sangster receive a good contract from the Government ?
– Does the Government use tiles supplied by Mr. Sangster’s company ?
– There is a tile factory in Canberra from which the Government buys all the concrete tiles it requires. The report of the newspaper interview with Mr. Sangster continues -
Mr. Sangster, who arrived from the; United States of America to-day by Australian National Airlines Skymaster, is the general works manager of Wunderlich. “ Australia docs not lag in manufacture of new type buildings materials or in the methods of building “, lie said.
– As Mr. Sangster travelled by Australian National Airways, which is a privately owned airline, the Minister should suspect him.
– That would rather be further proof that Mr. Songster is not a supporter of this Government but is probably a very good member of the Liberal . party. Mr. Sangster also stated that while some other countries might have built more houses or built houses at a greater rate than Australia, the way in which they were built meant that they would not last and, in fact, would end up as slums. That is what the general works manager of one of the largest business firms in Australia which manufactures building components states regarding the type of house being built in Australia, and the rate of construction. His statement gives a complete answer to statements repeatedly made by honorable members of the Opposition, and particularly that made by the honorable member for Wimmera, who, like many other Opposition members, seems to take a delight in decrying the capacity and effort of his own country.
.- The Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) has had a great deal to say about the Department of Works and Housing, but it was only towards the close of his speech that he had aid anything regarding the CommonwealthState housing agreement. He quoted a Mr. Sangster. I do not know Mr. Sangster or what he is, but I wish to refer to the Commonwealth-State housing agreement and its absolute failure to make available the number and quality of houses that Australia desires. I’ should like to deal with this point at some length, although I realize that I am not likely to be given an opportunity by the Government to do so. I shall give honorable members some statistical information which will prove the point [ wish to make. Honorable members will recall that the 1947 census revealed that the lag in home construction meant that 116,828 families were sharing singlefamily homes. There were 271 instances in which five or more families were sharing a single home; S18 instances in which four families were sharing a single home; 4,446 instances where three families were sharing a single home; and 25,000 instances in which two families were sharing a single home. Yet in the light of these damaging statistics the Minister claims that the CommonwealthState housing agreement has been successful. He knows full well that circumstances such as I have mentioned, of families being crammed into homes with resulting domestic conflict and of young people sharing homes with their inlaws, are breeding destruction and discontent in the family life of Australia. They are destroying the very basis of family life in Australia and the Minister is directly responsible. The housing scheme sponsored by the Government is a complete failure. ‘ Since the commencement of the scheme until September, 1947, the States have completed only 10,400 of the 19,000 homes that were commenced under the scheme. Let us contrast that with what has happened under the private enterprise that this Government has always decried. Whenever an honorable member on this side of the chamber speaks of the need for private enterprise to take control of the facilities that are essential for development, Government supporters are immediately ranged against the suggestion. In the period that the government scheme has been operating, private builders have completed 4S,:i.S5 homes out of 68,661 commenced compared with the 10,400 completed out of the 19,000 commenced under the government scheme. This means that private builders completed 70 per cent, of the homes which they commenced, compared with 55 per cent, completed under the ComroonwealithState housing scheme. Eoi the first two post-war years the houses completed were not even sufficient to provide for the average annual, requirements of 50,000 dwellings laid down by the Commonwealth Housing Commission in 1944, let alone sufficient to overtake any of the back lag created by the demands of young people reaching adult age and desiring to marry and accept family responsibilities or those of new settlers who came to Australia under immigration schemes. The Government has fallen clown on its job. In 1947-48 the total number of houses completed in Australia was 42,867. Even that figure is below the target set by the commission in 1944 as the first post-war year’s objective. In New South Wales 14,858 homes were completed in the year ended the 30th June last. Of these, government-sponsored houses numbered 4,093 compared with 10,765 erected by private enterprise. We are constrained to ask what is the chief reason for this failure of the Government to bring forward a scheme of a comprehensive nature to meet the housing requirements of the people. Why has the Government failed to bring harmony and happiness into the home life of the country and why has it refused to give consideration to the unfortunate plight of people who, for too long, have been without homes? Why has it failed the exservicemen who, when they were going overseas, were told that they were to fight for the preservation of the ordinary amenities of civilization? What has this Government done to honour these obligations to the people and to our exservicemen? One of the chief reasons why the Commonwealth-State housing scheme has been a failure is because the Government has allowed Communist-controlled unions to dictate to it how many exservicemen may be trained in the building industry under the rehabilitation scheme. That in itself is a sad enough story. “What a shocking state of affairs that men who went overseas to fight for the preservation of democracy and the democratic way of life should be denied training in a vital industry which would enable them to provide for themselves and their fellow Australians one of the principal amenities of life. The Government has allowed the unions to dictate to it in this matter and the results have been appalling. Original plans provided for the training of 32,850 ex-servicemen in the building industry in the two years commencing in May, 1946. En New South Wales the quota was established at 13,850 men; but up till August last, only 7,100 men had been trained. The Building Workers Industrial Union made it clear that it would not permit any additional exservicemen to be trained in the building industry. As an indication of the need for such training, there were in May last unfulfilled requisitions at the Commonwealth EmploymentBureau for building labour 1,446 in the city area of Sydney and 540 for such labour in the country areas. These men could not he supplied solely because the Government allowed the unions to close their ranks against new members and to determine the number of ex-servicemen who should be given courses in brick-laying and home-building generally.
– These are the facts and the figures. Why, otherwise, are these men refused the right to be trained in those industries?
– They are not being refused an opportunity to train in those industries.
– They are being turned away. I ask the Minister why the target of 32,850 men was not reached ?
– There were all sorts of reasons.
– The principal reason is because the Building Workers Industrial Union, a Communist-controlled organization, will have none of the scheme. Let me analyse still further what the Minister has said with regard to the building programme. Mr. Sangster, who is associated with the tiling industry, made a statement on the subject, and the Minister, in endeavouring to justify the deficiencies of the Government’s home building scheme, quoted what Mr. Sangster had said. Let us consider the output of home requirements by industries a llied with the building industry in order to assess the opportunities available to the Government for carrying out the home-building programme. If there be a shortage of raw materials, such as bricks, tiles and other materials for home building, the best scheme in the world cannot be brought to fruition.
– The honorable member is answering his own question why the target for the training of exservicemen in the building trades could not be reached.
– By inference the Minister now contends that ex-servicemen were not trained in the building industry in accordance with the target figures, because basic building materials were not being produced in the requisite quantities. The two essentials of a homebuilding programme are basic materials: and building labour. On its own admission, the Government has fallen down on the job of providing the requisite building labour. Excluding working proprietors, the percentage increase in the number of employees working in Australian factories since 193S-39 is 57.4 for males and 35.6 for females, or a total average increase of 51.6 per cent. These figures cover all employees engaged in factories throughout Australia in the production of all commodities. Instead of the production of bricks being increased in such a way as to enable the home-building problem to be attacked in an effective manner, we find that, compared with pre-war years, brick production has decreased by 17 per cent. Notwithstanding the increase of 57.4 per cent, in the employment of male factory workers, the production of ordinary terra cotta tiles used for the roofing of homes has increased by only 6 per cent. I ask the Minister . to be realistic in his approach to this problem and to reconsider it with a view to producing greater quantities of the basie materials needed for home building so that the people in what we call this democratic country may enjoy decent housing conditions. Let u3 consider the position in relation to the production of fuel, gas and electric stoves, all of which are essential equipment for modern homes. Surely the Minister does not expect people living under overcrowded conditions, such as five families living in one home to do their cooking in the back yard over an aboriginal’s twig fire. Yet that is what we are coming to in this country. As the result of strikes and industrial disturbances the production of fuel stoves has increased by only 5.4 per cent. In the production of gas stoves there has been a colossal increase of 1.4 per cent. In electric stoves production was higher. In spite of these revealing figures the Minister talks about a comprehensive home-building scheme.
– “Were very large quantities of electric stoves manufactured in pre-war years?
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council is well aware that, after a householder puts in a requisition for an electric ‘stove he has to wait twelve months or more before the order is filled. Representations were recently made to me by a farmer who had been unable to secure a fuel stove. He told me that he had been waiting for nine months for a stove. What a shocking state of affairs ! Let us consider other basic materials required for home buildings. Since 198S-39 the production of pig iron, blooms and billets has been increased by only 14.6 per cent, and 12.3 per cent, respectively. Yet the Minister talks about a comprehensive home-building scheme ! If the Government really desires to embark upon a practical home-building scheme it should take positive action. First, let it appoint a first-class business executive to control the housing scheme, as was done during the war in connexion with the production of munitions. Let him be free from parliamentary or governmental interference. The Director-General of Munitions, who. had the right, of access to, the Prime Minister- and could write his own ticket, carried out his task very efficiently. Surely homes are as essential to-day as were munitions during the war. Indeed, nothing touches the well-being of the people of Australia more closely than theousing problem. It is the most human problem that any government has ever had to tackle. If a first-class business man were appointed to control a practical home-building plan he could break the bottle necks and expedite the supply of materials and the construction of homes. That task cannot be tackled satisfactorily by a junior Minister who has no concept of the problem that confronts him. Secondly, let the Government remove the sales tax from all building materials, including builders’ hard ware. Thirdly, let it evolve a comprehensive scheme of financial assistance to encourage home ownership. Let it abandon the attitude taken by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that if a man leaves the ranks of the rent-payers to become a homeowner he becomes a little capitalist. The greatest security is given not by the home-renter but to the home-owner. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction’s reference to home owners as little capitalists is merely a further instance of how the socialization bug has. penetrated into the ranks of the Government. Fourthly, let the Government increase the output of materials by expanding coal production and by giving a greater incentive to the workers to produce more by providing incentive payments and reducing taxes. Fifthly, let the Government tackle seriously the problem of training, young men in the building trades, particularly exservicement, so that larger numbers of young men may be attracted to the industry! Lastly, let the Government adopt a comprehensive- scheme for the abolition of slums and provide finance for home purchase on reasonable terms and conditions. A comprehensive housing scheme requires much more than such airy persiflage as was indulged in by the Minister for Works and Housing when he told us about the CommonwealthState housing scheme. Until the Government is prepared to face up to this problem it will continue to do a grave disservice to this country.
Byits inaction it is breaking up homes, destroying family life and denying the amenities of civilization to our people. People who are members of the four, five or six families living in a single home will ultimately rise in their wrath and denounce the Government for its failure to carry out its obligations.
– The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department ofWorks and Housing, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of Trade and Customs, the Department of Health and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, has expired.
Question put -
That the proposed votes be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Department of Social Services
Proposed vote, £892,000.
Department of Supply and Development
Proposed vote, £1,115,500.
Department of Shipping and Fuel
Proposed vote, £2,165,700.
Department of External Territories
Proposed vote, £70,000.
Department of Immigration
Proposed vote, £312,400. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I intend to refer to a matter of great importance to the people living in the Maryborough and Bundaberg districts. For some years past difficulty has been experienced by traders in Maryborough and Bundaberg in obtaining delivery of goods awaiting shipment at southern ports. Recently, af ter many representations had been made by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Davidson) and myself,, the coastal vessel Baralaba, which had been reconditioned, was to have been put on the run, in addition to Babinda, in an endeavour to pick up the cargoes which were accumulating in the south. Babinda was to load 300 tons of coke at Port Kembla for Walkers Foundry in Maryborough, and was to take general cargoes for Maryborough and Bundaberg. This would have practically cleared the stores, except for some veryheavy castings. Baralaba has not lef t Sydney because of labour trouble fomented by Communistcontrolled unions. The refusal of union leaders to allow the ship to be worked is preventing muck-needed supplies from going to the north. It is causing distress among the people, and is preventing the delivery of essential requirements to industry, the public, and to hospitals, Baralaba is still in port in Sydney, as are twenty other ships which are held up because of labour trouble, besides sixteen British ships which are waiting to load wheat that has not yet arrived at the seabord because the Communist-dominated miners will not hew coal needed by the Railways Department. Babinda is still in port because the Communist-controlled Seamen’s Union demands that an assistant cook be employed on the vessel. The award provides that a cook shall be employed for a crew of twenty, and the crew of Babinda numbers only nineteen, including the cook. However, the shipping agents decided to obey the masters, that is, the Communists, who are also the masters of the Government. They decided that it was better to let the ship sail, and therefore informed the general secretary of the Seamen’s Union that they were prepared to employ an assistant cook. However, no union member is prepared to offer for the position, and so the ship is still in port. The coke needed by the foundry in Maryborough has not been loaded, and other much-needed cargo remains on the wharfs. The other vessel, Baralaba, is held up in Brisbane with 569 tons of cargo for Maryborough, and 291 tons for Bundaberg, because the Communistcontrolled Seamen’s Union demands the replacement of a cook, who has been on the ship for fourteen months without previous complaint having been made of him. The shipping company has no reason to dismiss him. This is a very serious thing for the people of Maryborough and Bundaberg, and the shipping company has just about had enough. In a letter which I received to-day, the Sydney agents point out that the unfavorable voyage results, due to the loss of time and slow working, do not encourage the owners to keep the vessel on the run. Although they are anxious to keep’ the ships in the trade, they fear that, unless they have the cooperation of the employees, both ashore and on board, in an endeavour to keep their ships sailing regularly, they will have to consider whether it is worth their while remaining in the river trade. This trade is important to all sections of the community in Maryborough and Bundaberg, and not least important to the workers, whether they be employees of the foundry, tradesmen, businessmen, or housewives in the homes. The workers are beginning to realize that the Australian Government has failed to govern. The economy of Australia, is being attacked by the agency of a foreign power. Has the Government decided to yield altogether to the pressure of the Communists? Does the Government regard us as a conquered people ? It would appear so. Goods are rapidly accumulating in many Australian ports, and the Communist-controlled unions are determined that they shall not be shipped. Wire and wire netting and iron and steel goods are being held up in this way, and this is seriously inconveniencing the manufacturers and primary producers. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is now receiving the same quantity of raw materials as it received twenty years ago. During the war, the manufacture of galvanized iron and wire and wire netting practically ceased for civilian purposes and the output of many iron and steel products was greatly reduced, with the result, that the demand for those goods to-da.y is greater than it has ever been in our history. Because of Communist-directed strikes the goods are not reaching consumers, and our development is being hampered. We have been importing iron products from the United Kingdom, including 1,000 railway trucks for New South Wales, because Australian workers, who earn higher wages and enjoy better conditions of employment, than worker? in the United Kingdom, adopt go-slow tactics and are not permitted to reach maximum output figures. Although the supplies of raw materials which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is receiving are restricted, that organization is rendering a great service to Australia. Veritable mountains of manufactured goods are awaiting shipment, but the vessels cannot sail. Iron rods, fabricated iron materials, bridges and parts of bridges, machinery, parts of tractors, galvanized iron, wire and wire netting and fencing posts are accumulating, and the ships can not take them to the users. Although vessels are lying in Sydney. Melbourne and Brisbane, the Government, will not take any action to break the Communist’s stranglehold on the shipping industry.
When I have referred to this difficulty nt question time, the Minister has stated, in reply, that the Opposition urged the people, at a referendum, not to grant to the Commonwealth Parliament authority ro enable the Government to deal with these matters. It is just as well that the Opposition did adopt that policy. Although the Government has power to dealt with the Communists, it refuses to act. Why; then, should the people entrust the Government with additional powers? The request which I mate to the Minister to-day is that he exercise his authority to direct these ships to sail. I have referred to two specific vessels, Baralaba mid Babinda. An industrial dispute has not occurred over rates of pay or conditions of employment, but, the ships simply are not to sail. I urge the Minister to take action to ensure that the Communists shall not control the whole of industry and create unemployment, as is their intention. They have inflicted hardships on the community and inconvenience on manufacturers and primary producers and have caused people innorthern Queensland to suffer privation. When asked what he proposes to do to remedy the position, the responsible Minister merely replies to the effect that the Opposition urged the people not to grant to the Commonwealth Parliament additional power to deal with such matters. Of course, he controls the Commonwealth-owned ships, but still the mountains of materials in the southern ports are growing. What is the reason? The Communists are particularly interested in our great iron and steel industry. Honorable members will be alarmed to know how long it takes to unload and load ships. Iron Master arrived in port with 2,871 tons of steel products and remained there for twelve days. Ellaroo had 5,569 tons of steel products, and remained in port for 24 days. Iron Warrior arrived with o,39S tons of pig iron and was eighteen days discharging it. River Fitzroy had 6,047 tons of steel products on board and was nineteen days unloading. River Murrimbidgee was eighteen days discharging 4,495 tons of cargo. The slow turn-round of ships restricts the flow of raw materials to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company
Limited and to the iron and steel industry generally in Australia. We must realize that Australia is menaced by Communists. My special object in speaking this afternoon is to urge the Minister to ensure that the unlawful hold-ups of Baralaba and Babinda shall not be tolerated any longer. The controllers of the ships have done everything in their power to overcome the deadlock, and it now behoves the Minister to break the Communists’ control. I leave that responsibility with him.
.- The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) has severely criticized workers who do much more work for the community than he does.
– Is the Minister referring to the Communists?
– No, I refer to the waterside workers.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay referred to the Communists.
– Order! The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) must not interject.
– I am concerned because ships are being held up. The waterside workers are not doing any work at all.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay is not doing very much work, either. He seems to forget that a great deal of the work done by stevedores throughout Australia is very heavy work indeed. Many of the difficulties in the stevedoring industry are due to the fact that the employers have not provided the necessary modern equipment for handling cargoes. That matter was brought out quite clearly when an allegation was made that sugar was not being moved quickly enough from certain ports in northern Queensland.
– The two ships to which I have referred are already loaded.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member for Wide Bay must not interject.
– The Chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission, Judge Kirby, went to that port, and his report clearly indicated that the reason why more speedy progress could not be made, there was that the equipment was not of a modern kind. No matter how many additional men were sent to that port, they would not he able to handle the cargo any more quickly, because the equipment was not suitable for the purpose.
– That is not true of Mackay.
– It is true of the northern port which I have in mind. The honorable member for Wide Bay mentioned Baralaba and Babinda. The firstnamed ship, I understand, is actually on its way to-day, so that there is no trouble with that vessel.
– Did the Minister say that there was no trouble in connexion with Baralaba^
– The honorable member said that the ship was tied up indefinitely. It is not tied up indefinitely, because it is now at sea.
– That has happened since I asked my question this morning.
– That must be a tribute to the efficacy of the honorable gentleman’s methods in asking questions. However, the plain fact is that the ship is on its way, so we can disregard it in this debate. I understand that the proceedings which have been taken in connexion with Babinda, over which a dispute arose, are in accordance with the provisions of the Navigation Act.’ A committee- has been appointed, and is considering the matter. It is hoped that the trouble will be settled by to-morrow. The honorable member for Wide Bay also mentioned that shipping generally was tied up and delayed at times at various ports in Australia, because of the shortage of coal. He then proceeded to blame the coal-miners for that position. It is true that the production of coal is not sufficient to meet all of the requirements of the country, but that is not because the coal-miners are not working hard, but because industry in Australia has received such a boost, due to the policy of this Government, that it requires more coal than it ever required before. Coal requirements to-day are greatly in excess of those of the days when anti-Labour governments Were in office. At one period when an anti-Labour government was in office, approximately 250j000 Australians were unemployed, and, naturally, industry did not require so much coal then as it requires to-day. Industrial development is one reason for the general shortage of coal for industry. According to my information, bunker coal is generally available in all Australian ports with the exception, perhaps, of some outlying ports such as Albany, where, for technical reasons, coal has to be kept in hulks. Bunker coal is one of the primary needs of industry, and that need is generally met. The honorable member for Wide Bay made a vague general allegation to the effect that coal is not available, and, for that reason, vessels are unable to proceed from port to port. That allegation is completely untrue. Bunker coal is » available.
– I did not make the statement which the Minister has attributed to me.
– Order ! The Minister must be heard in silence. If the honorable member interjects again, I shall deal with him.
– The explanation which I have given disposes of that allegation by the honorable member for Wide Bay. One other fact which must be taken into account is that the ships engaged in the coastal trade to-day are substantially larger than they were before the war. Vessels of the River class, of 9,000 tons, are carrying much more cargo than a larger number of smaller vessels of 4,000 tons were able to carry before the war.
– That is not true.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member for Wakefield is transgressing the Standing Orders in saying that the Minister is not telling the truth.
– Naturally, it takes longer to unload a 9,000-ton ship than to unload a 4,000-ton ship. Consequently, individual ships are, on the average, in port for a longer time to-day than they were before the war. When we take into account the fact that vessels are larger than they were before the war, and that the equipment available in the ports is not of a modern kind to enable cargoes to be handled quickly, we must admit that the waterside workers throughout Australia are not doing a bad job. It is true, of course, that here and there, individual troubles do arise. Insofar as these troubles arise because of the tactics of the Communist party, I condemn them. However, because I condemn the activities of the Communist party in relation to the waterside workers and the trade union movement generally, that does not mean that I agree with the honorable member for Wide Bay. When the honorable gentleman was supporting an antiLabour government, he took nosteps to see that the waterside workers and other workers were dealt with fairly. He was not concerned at all with the welfare of the workers. We are now living in conditions of full employment, and it is only natural that the workers should use their strength to secure what was denied to them in the past. They sometimes resort to tactics that do not meet with my approval, but one can understand that, because they are in a stronger position to-day than they ever have been and they are tempted, to some degree, to overemphasize what they consider to be their rights. As to the disputes on the two vessels, to which I have now specifically referred, one has already been settled and it is hoped that the other will be settled to-morrow. I am sure that in connexion with these and other disputes that may arise, the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) will do his utmost to ensure that shipping facilities are made available as soon as possible and that the industry runs as smoothly as it can do.
Mr.RYAN (Flinders) [4.32].- The excuses that were made by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), in reply to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) do not hold water. I have not the time to deal with all the statements that were made by the honorable gentleman, but I wish to comment upon his remark that the delay in loading and unloading ships to-day is due to the fact that the ship- owners and wharf-owners have failed to install modern machinery. It is true that the old machinery is still installed on the wharfs, but the fact remains that in 1939 the wharf labourers, using that machinery, loaded cargo at the rate of approximately 25 tons an hour, working in gangs of twenty men, whereas to-day, using the same machinery, but working in larger gangs, they are loading cargo at the rate of only 15 tons an hour. It will, therefore, be seen that the Minister’s excuse is not worth much.
My main purpose in rising was to refer to the activities of the Department of Immigration. My first point refers to the scheme for bringing migrants to Australia from abroad. It is fair to say, and I think most honorable members on this side of the chamber will agree with me. that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) is doing all that he can do to bring migrants here. The honorable gentleman realizes, as we all do, the importance of considerably increasing our population in the years that lie immediately ahead of us because of the present world unrest and our defence problems. In my opinion, he is doing with great enthusiasm all that he can do. The point I want to make is that the results that are being obtained are not commensurate with our requirements. We are told that at some date in the future, though not this year, migrants will arrive at the rate of 70,000 a year and that the figure will probably be increased to 100,000 a year.
– Seventy thousand will be brought to Australia this year.
– They have not arrived yet.
– The year has not yet ended.
– There are only three months of it left. It is possible even for the Minister to learn from the experience of the past. If we look back at the results of past immigration schemes, we cannot look forward to the future with any degree of optimism. Between 1921 and 1925 an average of 36,500 migrants a year arrived in this country. Between 1926 and 1930 the average yearly rate dropped to 26,000. It is noticeable that, as the unrest abroad after World War I. grew less and conditions became more normal, the number of people who wanted to migrate to Australia diminished. That is likely to occur again. Therefore, if we are to get the immigrants that we require so badly, we must strike while the iron is hot. The target of 70,000 or 100,000 people a year at which the Minister is aiming seems to me to be quite inadequate. If it is achieved and maintained for ten years our population will have been increased by only 700,000 or 1,000,000. Those figures fall far short of our requirements.
As the Minister is aware, there are great difficulties in the way of securing a large number of immigrants. Those difficulties are largely of our own making, but not entirely. The migrants from the United Kingdom who are coming to Australia to-day differ from those who came here 20, 40 or 60 years ago. Migrants are leaving more behind them now than migrants did previously, and as a result the newcomers in these days expect to find more here than their predecessors did when they arrived in Australia. They are not prepared to go into the bush and build log houses in which to live. If possible, they want to be provided with houses and the normal amenities of modern civilized life. Houses are difficult to provide. In addition to that difficulty, there is not sufficient shipping space for all those who wish to come to Australia. A third and very important difficulty is the attitude of the trade unions towards the migrants who are now arriving. In the last few weeks the miners’ and the ironworkers’ trade unions have “dug their toes in “ and have said to the Government that they are not prepared to have these people working with their members. They are doing exactly what the wharf labourers did a short time ago. They are taking the direction of policy from the hands of the Government and laying down the law for themselves. That i-< a problem that the Government must face, but it has not yet done so. I believe that if we are to get, through immigration, the population that we require we must take a wider and more imaginative view than that which the Government is taking. I believe that the only way in which we can achieve the objective that we all have -in mind is by some form of mass migration. As the Minister knows, there are some people in Britain who are seriously considering the transfer of whole sections of population, forming a com- plete economic unit. To do that will necessitate making arrangements with the United Kingdom Government: It will also entail vision on our part as well as on that of the United Kingdom authorities.
– Surely the honorable member does not claim that that idea is original.
– It seems to be original as far as the Government is concerned.
– We were the first to put it forward.
– Apparently it was not put forward with sufficient emphasis, because it seems already to have been dropped.
My second point concerns the’ way in which the present Immigration Act is being administered by the Government and the Minister for Immigration. That seems to me to be very important from the point of view of increasing our population and also from the point of view of our relations with the outside world. The Minister’s actions are largely influenced by the White Australia policy, in which we all believe. That policy has been evolved over perhaps a half a century. There arc two main principles under lying it. The first is the protection of our race and, a.s far as possible, the purity of our British blood, and the second is the protection of our standard of living. Those are the two main pillars on which the White Australia policy rests. To maintain the policy, much as we all believe in it, will be a matter of considerable difficulty. The outside world is steadily becoming more hostile to it. What Australia is doing to maintain the White Australia policy is the reverse of what requires to be done in regard to our relations with other countries. The Minister for Immigration, by his actions, and, above all, by his words, has stirred hd resentment in other countries. He has offered gratuitous insults to some of them and has thus aroused ill feeling. I talked recently to a high official of the Indian Government and I deliberately put to him a very controversial question because I wanted to know the feeling of the Indian people about our immigration policy. He said that the people of India could not understand our policy. They fought with us and other members of the British Empire in two wars and lost millions of men through sickness and disease in supporting the Empire. Nevertheless, after those wars had ended, they saw Australia letting in freely the enemies against whom the Indian people had fought - and he referred to the Germans - but excluding entirely the inhabitants of India.
– Who said that?
– A high official of the Indian Government.
– What is his name?
– I would not trust the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) with the name of anybody. That is the feel- ing of the people of a sister dominion, and I think it is a very understandable one.
– What did the honorable member tell this official?
– I explained to him the basis of the White Australia policy. The statement of that Indian official indicates what people are thinking in a dominion which is essentially friendly to Australia. I have referred to the gratuitous insults that the Minister has offered to the peoples of other countries. Only recently, the honorable gentleman talked in this chamber of the gross indecency of an Australian having a Japanese wife. He also said that the entry of such a. wife into Australia was a gross pollution of this fair land.
– I said the Japanese women should not be allowed to pollute our shores.
– The two phrases have exactly the same meaning, and as far as the outside world is concerned, the meaning is very bad.
– The statements are grossly different in content.
– While we all agree that any Australian who, in present circumstances, marries a Japanese woman is doing something that he should not do from our point of view, the outside world, and particularly the peoples of the Asiatic countries, regard the Minister’s words as being directed to a man who marries, not a woman of a former enemy nation, but one of the yellow races.
– I spoke of the Japanese and nobody else.
– The peoples of the Asiatic countries would not think of a Japanese woman as a former enemy national, but as a member of the coloured races which they believe we wish to exclude from Australia. The committee knows of other instances in which action, not words, has been taken by the Government in regard to persons married to Australian citizens. I shall not go into all the details, but I shall recall the various instances that have occurred. There was the case of a Tongan woman, who had married an Australian-
– He was not an Australian.
– Perhaps I should have said a British subject. There was also the case of an Englishman married to a Chinese and another case of an Englishman with a Burmese mother. I remind honorable members of a reply given by the Minister to my colleague the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) to a question whether Maoris would be admitted to Australia as residents. There were also the Government’s actions in relation to the deportation of Malays and of an unfortunate negro boxer who had been ten years in Australia. He had been married in this country, but was deported by the Government. By such actions, Australia is arousing resentment among the coloured nations. Those actions by the Minister are not mandatory under the act, which merely excludes from residence in Australia certain categories of people including those who suffer from certain diseases or are mentally deficient, like other individuals of whom the Opposition knows, or who have committed certain crimes or acts of moral turpitude. Those are the only classes that are excluded under the act. Other classes are excluded entirely by the decision of the Minister, and, therefore, the responsibility for the results of that exclusion rests entirely with him. Not long ago, the Minister said, in reply to a question which I had asked him, that the exclusion of coloured peoples had been the practice in Australia for 47 years, and his reply, by inference, raised the question, “ How could I change that policy? “
– -Why should I change it?
– The world moves’ on. We are living ia an era which is’ 50 years ahead of that in which honorable members opposite seem to be living. Our environment is changing and we must adapt ourselves to new circumstances. One can be a firm believer in the White Australia policy without believing that if is necessary to keep every single coloured foreigner out of Australia. If the only way in which an Asiatic could gain entry to Australia was to marry an Australian citizen, surely there could be no danger to our standards of either racial purity or of living. The Minister has told the world that his actions are designed, to protect, those two> standards, but no sensible man,, particularly in any of the countries in which his policy is arousing resentment, could possibly believe that the residence in this country of 10’ or 50 foreign coloured wives could affect either of those standards:
I turn now to’ another action to- which many people, including honorable members on this side of the chamber, object very strongly. I refer- to the action taken by the Minister in regard to the persons now generally termed the “ Manila girls “. I shall not go into the details of that particular matter, because the Minister knows them only too well. The Minister’ has stated that the Government intends to have these girl’s returned to Australia, not because they have transgressed or broken any promises, but because the American authorities with whom they axe serving have not done what they said they would do. The Minister, because he is unable to act against the American authorities, is wreaking his vengeance on these unfortunate women.
– - Do not make me laught..
– This is not an isolated instance, brat is surely a matter of principle. The Government is’ arrogating to itself the right to say whether an individual citizen shall work abroad’,, or even gr> abroad. That’ surely is some thing one would find in very, few countries outside. Russia.
– I knew the honorable member- would mention Russia.
– I naturally mentioned that country because the- Minister’s actions remind’ me- of it. I am concerned about those actions, first, because of the resentment they are causing abroad, which might turn to- hatred and, secondly, because of the assumption of power by the Government over the lives and1 wellbeing of individuals in. this country. I also consider that the Government’sactions constitute an intrusion, by it into the family life of the people concerned. The Government has no right to intervene in such matters.
– The honorable member forgot to mention the quota system.
– I shall come to that matter and do not require the Minister to remind me of it. The Government’sactions have had an enormous effect abroad. Australians’ live cheek’ by jowl with the nations’ of South-East Asia and: because of that this country should, attempt to* administer its- laws1 more tactfully’. I wish to make one further suggestion. A-s mentioned earlier in the debate by the honorable member for New England (Mr.. Abbott), the Government has subscribed to- what might be termed the bill of human rights, drawn up by the United Nations. In doing so it has agreed in common with the other nations concerned1, to allow freeingress and egress of citizens- between this and other countries and has agreed to observe and pie-mote family life. By its- recent actions the Government has very grievously transgressed against both undertakings. All honorable members of this Parliament support the United Nations organization and believe that, differences which arise amongst nations should be referred for settlement to that body when negotiators between the countries concerned have failed to reach agreement. Does’ the Australian Government realize that one day the United’ Nationsmay have to rule’ on some matter brought u]? by the Netherlands^ Malaya or Chinaregarding Australia’s exclusion of their nationals?’ The question would comebefore the United Nations’ tribunal, comprising the representatives of 58 nations,. many of whom are coloured people. What does the Government think will he the attitude of that tribunal unless we can keep the governments of -those other nations reasonably satisfied that we are behaving in a generous and sensible manner and not tactlessly. Such troubles may arise and we may be able to do nothing about them.
– Is this not a plea for appeasement’?
– It is a plea for more tactful handling of -this particular matter. The Minister mentioned the quota system. The Government has decided to lay down a rigid bar against any coloured person entering Australia to become a resident. As that bar stands at present it is offensive to all the nations affected by it. I believe Australia .should consider the adoption of a quota system for the admission of coloured people, not in large numbers ‘but on a basis that -would show the countries concerned that Australia was prepared to admit selected individuals in small numbers.
– What percentage of immigrants would the honorable member suggest should be coloured people?
– -I believe Australia could safely admit about 150 coloured persons a year. I believe that not because I wish to -weaken the foundations of our basic policy in any “way, but because such a policy of admitting small numbers of coloured people -would be understood by countries abroad and would not be regarded with the same resentment as is our present policy. I hope the Government will .give serious consideration to my suggestion because I believe such a policy would mean a great deal to Australia in its relations with the Asiatic peoples who are out near neighbours. I am convinced that at present Australia is on the wrong track.
.- I did not intend to enter the debate, but some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) have induced me to participate in it. The honorable member is usually considered to be a good sort of a fellow who can always be relied upon to take part in -debates and to resume “hia seat ‘without having said anything of any moment. His performance to-day was no exception to the general rule. I know that in the opinion of a majority of the Australian people the Minister for Immigration !(Mr. Calwell) is doing a very good job indeed. The honorable member for Flinders spoke about the White Australia policy. He rambled on and said something about Japanese wives. If the Minister for Immigration does nothing other than preserve the White Australia policy he most certainly -will justify his administration as far as I am concerned. The Minister has no need to apologize to anybody for preserving the White Australia policy. I know there are many members on the Opposition benches and many people in business whom those honorable members represent, who would be glad to see Australia return to the old kanaka days. It is of no use for the Opposition to say that that is not true. Those persons would like to see a return of the days when the workers of Australia lad to contend with the breaking down of their conditions. Tie present ‘Government intends to see that such times do not recur and the Minister is playing an important role in that respect. It is all very well for people to talk about what should be d’one regarding immigration. Any one capable of thinking for himself knows quite -well that this country must populate ot perish. There is nothing new in that statement, but honorable members also know that there are extraordinary difficulties in regard to the immigration of . British people to this country. The honorable member for Flinders made a suggestion which the Minister had stated many months ago to be a very sound idea. I refer to the encouragement of mass immigration from Britain. The honorable member surely must know that both the Minister for Immigration and the Prime Minister have . discussed that particular matter and made public statements to the effect that they desire to bring from Britain to Australia industries complete with their employees, and set them up in some of the vast unused spaces that exist in Australia to-day. Honorable members of the Opposition must know that that task is not a simple one. In the first place the United Kingdom Government, as is only logical, does not wish to lose much of Britain’s man-power. Even though industries were removed from Britain to Australia, Britain would still require the man-power employed in those industries r.o make up other shortages. There is also the shipping obstacle. We all know that very many more migrants would be brought to Australia if transport facilities were available to bring them here. Every honorable member who is honest with himself will admit that the Minister for Immigration has done everything possible to expedite the transport to Australia of people from other countries who wish to settle here. It is remarkable that an honorable member opposite should criticize the Minister when he knows very well that a previous government formed by his own party did nothing about the migration problem.
– I did not say that the Minister for Immigration had not brought many people here. On the contrary I congratulated him on the way in which he has carried out his task.
– The inference from the honorable member’s remarks was that the Minister for Immigration had been going around with his eyes closed and that he had been living in another world, when the fact is that he has probably done more than any other Minister in any Australian government to bring desirable migrants to Australia. When [ have been a member of the Parliament a little longer, maybe I shall not expect Opposition members to acknowledge the merit of any policy adopted by the Government. I should perhaps know by now not to expect Opposition members to say to a Minister, “ I know you are doing a good job and I know that you are sincere in your endeavours “.
– I said that.
– My main purpose in taking part in this debate is to counter the statement by the honorable member for Flinders that there is trouble in trade union circles because certain migrants are being placed in certain industries. It is true that the miners’ federation recently objected to the employment of some Poles in the coal mines. Any one who knows anything of the industrial history of the Poles would know that there is reason to be careful about the employment of Polish labour in any Australian industry. J. do not suggest that the coal-miners or any other groups of workers should ban the employment of Polish labour in their industry; but I do not blame them for expressing some concern about the employment of Polish labour, especially when they know the circumstances associated with Polish labour as well as I do. All that the coal-miners did was to take steps to ensure that the working conditions for which their fathers and forefathers had fought over the years would not be destroyed by the introduction of some additional labour to the industry, whether it be migrant labour or otherwise. This is the only instance of which I know of any industrial union in this country taking exception to the employment of migrant labour.
– The Federated Ironworkers Association has also done so.
– That is so. I had overlooked that instance. Those are the only two instances of objection being taken by organizations to the introduction of migrant labour into specific industries. In neither case has the organization issued a threat, yet Mr. Thornton, who came to Canberra recently to talk over this matter with the Minister for Immigration, has been subjected to abuse in this chamber for so doing.
– He should be locked up.
– As the democratically elected leader of the Federated Ironworkers Association, Mr. Thornton is entitled to be received by any Minister. I remind honorable members opposite that “ Ernie “ Thornton has also been received by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) on several occasions.
– When ?
– Will any honorable member opposite deny that, in his capacity of general secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association, Mr. Thornton was granted an interview by the Leader of the Opposition when that right honorable gentleman was Prime Minister of the Commonwealth? In 1939, when the coal-miners went on strike, the right honorable gentleman-
– On a point of order, I submit that whether or not the Leader of the Opposition has seen Mr. Thornton can have no possible connexion with the Estimates now before the committee.
– The honorable member for Herbert is discussing the subject .of migration and is referring to the employment of migrants in this country. He is in order in so doing.
– My remarks were provoked by the criticism of trade unions by the honorable member for Flinders for taking exception to the employment of certain migrant labour in Australian industries. I have replied to the honorable member by saying that there have been only two instances in which such exception has been taken.
– They are very important ones. >
– Because, in an attempt to prevent a hold-up in industry, the secretary of the Federated IronWorkers Association came to Canberra and discussed with the Minister for Immigration a matter bearing upon a possible industrial dispute, both he and the Minister are maligned by members of the Opposition. Consider the other industries in which migrant labour is employed ? Consider, for instance, the sugar industry. From my standpoint the sugar industry comes very close to home. I believe that this year the Minister for Immigration saved the Queensland sugar industry, if not from destruction, at least from a considerable disaster. Because of the shortage of labour, the industry was faced with the position of having to leave hundreds of thousands of tons of this year’s crop either to rot or to stand over for an indefinite .period. The Minister thereupon decided to provide Baits to work in the sugar industry and, as the result of his efforts, although the sugar crop in Queensland is probably bigger this year than it has ever been at any time in the history of the State, it is being harvested and no hold-up of any kind is occurring. The Baits in the Ingham, Herbert River, Innisfail and far northern districts of Queensland are doing a very good job. Every one en gaged in the industry with whom I have discussed this matter has spoken in the highest possible terms of the assistance given to the industry by the Minister and his departmental officers in providing this additional migrant labour. If in his capacity as Minister for Immigration the honorable gentleman does nothing more than to bring in labour to assist important Australian primary industries, such as the sugar industry, he will have admirably fulfilled his ministerial duties. Honorable members opposite are continually blaring about industrial disputes, and complaining about what some industrial unionists or leaders of industrial organizations have done. Utterances such as those of the honorable member for Flinders do more to provoke industrial disputes than anything trade union officials or members of trade unions can ever do.
– Nonsense !
– Trade union leaders are concerned about preserving industrial conditions in the industries with which they are associated, as they are perfectly entitled to do. If there were a threat of industrial trouble on the coal fields or in the heavy industries as the result of the attitude adopted by Mr. Thornton there might be some justification for the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders ; but no threat exists. In his extraordinarily able way the Minister for Immigration is handling this matter in a manner which will prevent an industrial dispute from taking place, l.f by his provocative remarks, the honorable member for Flinders wishes to precipitate an industrial dispute, he must take full responsibility for his action. By misconstruing the happenings in trade union circles the honorable member merely provokes unionists and he must accept responsibility for his actions. Instead of being maligned by honorable members opposite and by certain people outside this chamber, the Minister for Immigration should be congratulated and lauded for the excellent, work he is doing.
– The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) has just indulged in a favourite pastime of honorable members opposite of making certain statements, pretending that they came from the mouths of honorable members on this side of the chamber, and then proceeding to attack them vigorously. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) began his speech by paying a tribute to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell). He said that for the most part honorable members on this side of the chamber applauded the policy adopted by the Minister, and immediately the honorable member for Herbert made a vitriolic attack upon him. He subsequently admitted that in two instances representations had been made by trade union leaders regarding the employment of migrants in certain industries. As we are discussing the Estimates of the departments concerned all these matters are fair subjects for criticism. No one can accuse the honorable member for Flinders of making unfair statements. I am horrified, however, that the honorable member for Herbert should have taken this occasion to make such an unwarranted attack upon the honorable member for Flinders. Another thing that annoyed me - and it has many times annoyed me in this Parliament - was the statement that honorable members on this side of the chamber favour a return to the kanaka days. I have said many times on public platforms all over Australia, and I repeat again here to-day, that in my view the general line of demarcation between the two main political schools of thought in this country is in their approach to the problem of securing a decent deal for all our people. I hope that I am not giving the Australian Labour party any more credit for its intention than it deserves. I believe that it. is the general notion of all Australians that there should be a fair deal to all. In order to achieve their objectives honorable members opposite believe in concentration on government ownership; we believe in the dispersal of ownership throughout the community. There lies the real difference between the policies of the two principal parties represented in this chamber, and bitter debates from time to time are generally the result of the imaginings and unfair accusations of strongly “partisan speakers. For my part I bitterly resent the attack made by the honorable member for Herbert on honorable members on this side of the chamber on his allegation that we stand for a return to the kanaka days and the impoverishment of the general standards of the people of Australia.
I propose now to say a few words about social services; but because a bill will soon be introduced for the purpose among other things of consolidating all the legislation dealing with social services, I shall not deal fully with the subject. There are, however, one or two matters which I believe should be discussed at this stage and there are one or two amendments which the Government might in justice incorporate in the consolidated legislation to be brought before us. Members of the Government are disposed to congratulate themselves unduly upon the” increases which have been granted to age and invalid pensioners. As a matter of fact, the present rate of pension bears about the same relation to the basic wage as the rate in 1920 bore to the basic wage of that time. In 1920, the old-age pension was 15s. a week and the Harvester award, providing a basic wage of £2 2s. a week, was still in operation. Thus, the basic wage was two and four-fifths times as much as the old-age pension. The new age pension is to be 42s. 6d. a week, and the average basic wage for Australia is £5 15s. a week.
– It is more than that.
– According tothe figures supplied to me, the average basic wage over the six States is £5 16s. a week, which is a little less than two and four-fifths times as much as- the agepension. Therefore, members of theGovernment need not be too complacent about present pension rates. Those who have to live on the age pension, without any other income, and without possessing any property, have, as honorable membersknow, a very difficult time, indeed. I have here a newspaper extract which refers to the way in which an old man of 80. manages to support himself on a pension of 37s: 6d. a week. I quoteas follows : -
He doesn’t drink. To-day he looked tidy and trim in clothes he had bought at the-
Brotherhood of St. Laurence shop for a few stallings. For the coat lie was wearing he had paid 2s. “It would cost easily fis. if I went to a second -hand shop”, he said.
He rents a small room in Fitzroy, which lias no electric light, and cooks his breakfast and tea himself on a spirit stove. The midday meal he gets at a caf£ for which he must pay ls. Od. or 2s.
The Coolibah Club, where he spends his days, has no cook at the moment, so he has lost, temporarily, the benefit of its ls. three-course midday meal.
For breakfast he cooks fried onions or an egg. Then in the evening he usually has saveloys. He can’t have a fire in his bedroom because he has been told it is not good for his asthma, and because he finds it hard to chop wood and carry it upstairs. For lighting he uses a kerosene lamp.
To the best of his ability he works out his weekly budget like this-
– The honorable member must confine her remarks to the administration of the department. She is not in order in discussing the department generally.
– I submit that everything I have been saying has to do with the administration of the Department of Social Services. I can see no difference between the kind of argument that I have been adducing and the kind of argument that has been permitted in the case of other honorable members during this debate.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member may make her remarks when the Social Services Consolidation Bill is under consideration.
– In deference to your ruling, I shall not continue with what I was saying. Although an increase of 5s. a week has been granted to age and invalid pensioners, pensions are still barely enough to live on. I now come to the widow’s pension, which it is proposed to increase from 42s. 6d. to 47s. 6d. a week. This is 5s. a week more than the age pension, the extra amount being intended, I presume, for the support of a child under sixteen years of age who does not qualify for endowment under the child endowment scheme. I believe I am right in saying that it is not proposed to increase this amount of 5s., and this is the only instance in the entire range of pensions payments in which no increase has been granted. This may be an oversight. Probably, the authorities believe that, in granting an A class widow a 5s. increase, they had covered her case. However, an increase of 2s. 6d. a week has been granted in the case of all children other than the first child, so there seems to be no reason why a similar increase should not be granted in respect of the first child, also. I mention the matter now in the hope that, when the consolidating measure is brought down, the position will be remedied.
I wish to bring to the notice of the Minister a matter touching upon the amount of income which may be earned by a pensioner without its affecting the amount of his pension. If a pensioner is able actively to engage in some work, he is permitted to earn up to £1 a week without loss of pension, and it is proposed now to increase this amount to 30s. a week. Recently, I received a letter from a woman pensioner who owned her ownhome, and had let two of her rooms, with gas and electricity supplied, for 25s. a week. She estimated that gas and electricity cost 5s. a week, so that her return from the letting of her rooms was £1 a week. That view, however, was contested by the department, and she was credited with an income of 25s. a week. That is an obvious injustice. If a pensioner were boarding somebody else for 30s. a week, it could not be claimed that the extra income thus earned was 30s. a week, because the cost of feeding a boarder would probably be not less than 25s. I ask the Minister to look into this matter.
I come now to child endowment: I am disappointed that the Government has not yet seen fit to make the child endowment scheme cover all children in all families. I am also disappointed that the Government has adhered to the old flat rate of endowment. A graduated scheme would be better. Let the payment for the first child be smaller than for the others, but let it increase for each succeeding child. That would come nearer to achieving essential justice, and should tend to increase the birth-rate. However, the point I wish particularly to stress is that provision should be made for the child under sixteen who is not :a first child. When the scheme was first introduced, this aspect was not, I believe, sufficiently considered. The first child receives no endowment. As soon as the second child reaches sixteen it, too, ceases to qualify for endowment. Thus, there is always one child under sixteen not receiving endowment. In a family of six or seven, there could be one child under sixteen for which nothing was being received, although some of the older children might still be dependent upon the parents. In the case of large families, this constitutes a hardship. The parents have usually readied a stage in life when they are no longer able to put forward extra effort to increase their earnings.
– When the sixth or seventh child reaches the age of sixteen, the others will be in employment.
– Som<; will probably be married, while others may not even have left school. It is a. fine thing that many parents make sacrifices to keep their children at school beyond sixteen years of age so that they may qualify for a chosen occupation. I know of many instances of the kind, and I can supply the Minister with particulars if he wishes. If the Government persists, as no doubt it will, in refusing endowment to the first child, let it consider the proposition that other children of a family should be endowed, even though they may become, technically, first children, provided that older children remain dependent upon their parents after the age of sixteen while receiving higher education. Alternatively, let such a provision apply to families of more than four or five children. This would be a step in the right direction, and would convince parents that the Government was interested in the welfare of families.
This morning, I asked a question of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) concerning those girls who went out of Australia during the war under some form of contract to the Government of the United States of America. The Minister was at some pains to explain the nature of the agreement made when they left Australia. I thank him for his courtesy, and the care which he took to go into details. But I must confess that while he was speaking, the thought occurred to me that the hope for agreement among all the peoples of the world was very slender when it was so easy for a disagreement to arise between friends, as it has on this occasion. When the Minister spoke, apparently with some perturbation, about the desire of the United Kingdom and American Governments to obtain typing assistance from Australia after the cessation of hostilities, I could not help feeling that we were probably in a better position than any other belligerent to supply it. We could very well have done so without any great detriment to ourselves, and by so doing, we would have fostered the development of even more friendly relations with the United Kingdom and the United States of America. I fully appreciate the paramount thought in the Minister’s mind, that the American Government should be prepared to honour an agreement into which it, entered with the Australian Government. The Minister said that the United States Government is morally bound to send the girls back to Australia. I put it to him that the whole basis of the agreement was governed by the fact that, in war-time, every person in Australia was subject to the man-power regulations.
– The agreement was entered into in 1946, after the war had ended.
– That being so, I cannot see any reason for the Minister’s action in insisting that the girls should return to Australia. If they were entitled to enter the service of the American Government and were of age, or if their parents consented to their going abroad, the Minister had no moral right to impose any conditions regarding their return to Australia. Surely the girls, as individuals, have some rights. We are not dealing with cattle. The girls are not goods such as are exchanged in commercial transactions. They are adult citizens of Australia who have been taught to believe that they are free citizens of a free country. If there were no other obstacles in the way of their accepting employment with the United States Government in Manila, the Minister had no right to ask from America anything more than an undertaking to return the girls to Australia at the end of their period of service, provided they desired to come back here.
– The Minister would not issue passports to them. He only granted them certificates of identity.
– The wishes of the girls themselves should now be considered. The Minister said that two of the girls have been in difficulties.
– I said that they had been stranded.
– From considerations of kindness, the Minister refrained from mentioning the circumstances of one of them.
– -That was a third girl.
– The Minister made it pretty clear.
– Even if the Australian Government were finally obliged to bring the girls back here’ at public expense, that course would be preferable to the violation of a principle of the magnitude of the present one. I say to the Minister, in all friendliness, that he is making a grave mistake, which is not in keeping with the measure that he has taken to make the status of married women in regard to nationality much clearer and fairer than it has been. In this instance, he is completely reversing his attitude and is doing so merely in the interests of the dignity, if it may be so termed, of the Department of Immigration and the Australian Government. This agreement between the United States of America and Australia in no way sets aside the rights of those girls as human beings and Australian citizens. I hope that even now, the Minister will reconsider his decision in the matter.
– The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), speaking on the proposed vote for the Department of Immigration, paid a tribute to my officers and myself. My officers must be included in any compliments that are paid in respect of the development of our immigration policy. We have every prospect of receiving 70,000 migrants this year. We should have to go back more than 30 years in our history to find a time when 70,000 migrants came here in one year. We shall achieve our objective of 70,000 persons a year in a little more than three years after my appointment as Minister for Immigration. At the time of my appointment, the war was still in progress.
The honorable member for Flinders, having complimented us, said that we should have to do better than 70,000 migrants a year, and that we should be inaugurating a scheme of mass migration. He almost claimed the copyright of the idea. He did not say that I had put that scheme forward many months ago. He -expressed the opinion that I should pursue our immigration policy with greater vigour. I do not know that I can pursue it with any more vigour than I. have done. The difficulty in this matter lies, not in Australia, but in the United Kingdom. Not one of the three great political parties in Great Britain, the Labour party, the Liberal party or the Conservative party, is prepared to endorse the principle of mass migration. That subject- is a matter of domestic politics in Great Britain. Any political party that approves the principle of mass migration will be accused by its opponents of desiring to scuttle the Empire, or of letting Great Britain’s prestige down. Any political party which endorsed the principle of mass migration would immediately give an electoral advantage to its opponents. That is the truth of the situation. Not one leading personality in Great Britain, with the exception of Dr. Dalton, who is the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will say that there should be a dispersion of people and industries throughout the whole of the British Commonwealth. He alone considers the needs of the British Commonwealth to be above the needs of any particular part of it. Our inability to inaugurate mass migration is also due to shipping problems. At this point I must pause to say that Great Britain would have great physical difficulty in providing substantially more shipping than it is doing at present; but if Great Britain could provide twice as many ships as it is providing, we should accept the people, and find ways and means of employing them and dispersing them throughout Australia.
My departmental officers and my ministerial colleagues have spent many anxious hours in trying to work out schemes for bringing people to Australia. When we found that we could not get sufficient ships, we tried to find ways and means of bringing people by air for a part of the way and by sea for the remainder of the journey. Last week, I told honorable members of consultations which I had had in Canberra with representatives of the International Refugee Organization at Geneva. I informed them that Australia had despatched Brigadier White to Cairo, London and Geneva for the purpose of discussing the matter with various authorities. He will present a report to the Government within a few weeks. We secured the appointment of Major-General Lloyd as the representative in Australia of the International Refugee Organization. He has been in Geneva, and knows our problems. He has also visited London and knows the British view. When he returns, we shall have consultations with him for the purpose of deciding whether we can take any additional measures to accelerate the flow of people to Australia. In all the circumstances we are doing reasonably well. San Francisco will leave Genoa on the 15th of this month with 1,330 displaced persons for Australia. Asturias will leave a port in the United Kingdom on the 20th of this month with 1,440 persons under the free and assisted passages scheme, and with 126 former Polish soldiers. That will be the biggest shipload, of people ever to come to this country. Consequently, the criticisms which the honorable member for Flinders has voiced, apart from his compliments, are not quite fair.
– I said that I recognized the difficulties.
– Had the honorable member recognized them adequately, his voice would not have developed such a strident note, and he would not have adopted such a critical tone. The honorable gentleman attacked me on the matter of our restrictive immigration laws and practices. He also attacked the trade unions. It is true that some unions, under Communist control, have been averse to the employment of Baits, but it is also true that we have many occupations in Australia into which we can place all the people who are likely to arrive in this country in the proximate future, without allocating them to those particular industries. However, I am not satisfied with that. I have had conversations with the trade union leaders who have criticized our policy. I have ascertained their views, and have expressed my own opinions on the subject, and I have not the slightest doubt that, within a few months, Baits, Poles. Ukranians, Czechs and Yugoslavs will be working in the iron and steel industry and in the coal-mines.
A great deal of patience must be exercised in a matter of this kind. Australians have been notoriously insular, and inclined to view a stranger with a great deal of suspicion. They have even regarded a person from Great Britain as an object, both of scorn, and of criticism of an unfortunate kind. That spirit has had to be broken down. The term “ Pommy “, applied as an opprobrious epithet, has caused considerable suffering to people who have been so labelled. It takes a good deal of effort to make Australians realize that they must be tolerant of all those who had not the great good fortune to be born under the Southern Cross. What is true in respect of Englishborn people is even more true of those who were born of parents who could not speak the English language. Speaking generally, I can say that Australians are becoming more tolerant. They realize that if they do not become tolerant, the future of their children and their children’s children in this part of the world will be most difficult.
The honorable member for Flinders then proceeded to criticize the administration of our immigration laws in relation to the admission of Asiatics to Australia. I have done nothing more than carry out the precedents which have been established during 48 years of federation. But those precedents go back much further because 90 years ago, on the goldfields in eastern Victoria, at Lambing Flat, now known as Young, in New South Wales, and at Gympie, in Queensland, clashes occurred between Chinese and persons of European origin, and in consequence the colonial parliaments imposed a poll tax on the admission of Chinese citizens to this country. Kanakas were brought into Australia for the purpose of developing the sugar-can industry in Queensland, hut there was always resentment about that kind of labour. With federation, a device was found to restrict the entry of unsuitable migrants. I think that it was the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain who suggested it to our delegates when they were in Great Britain in connexion with the establishment of federation. The suggestion was that our immigration laws might be so drafted as to enable a dictation test to be given to immigrants. That test would not give offence to the people of other countries on racial grounds. Our dictation test is applied to certain Europeans whom we do not desire to admit to this country, and almost invariably to Asiatics. The honorable member for Flinders said that if we applied a quota system to the admission of the Asiatic people who applied for permanent residence it would give less offence than the present system and abate the tide of criticism that is rising in the continent of Asia because of our immigration laws. I do not believe that any thing of the kind would happen. I do not think that an occidental mind can follow the mental processes of an oriental mind. I have talked to Asiatic diplomats, who have told me that a quota system would be grossly offensive to their peoples. They certainly have no desire themselves ever to be satisfied with such a system. When Australia was approached by an Asiatic power with regard to a treaty, the Asiatic power stipulated that it wanted for its nationals the same right of entry into this country as is accorded by it to the nationals of any European country. It is idle to assume that if we establish a quota system we shall appease the Asiatic peoples. A policy of appeasement never pays, irrespective of whether it is applied internationally, nationally or in any other way. An appeasement system is a bad one. It arises from an inferiority complex and is governed by fear. Any suggestion of a quota system is a suggestion of a policy of appeasement. The policy that has been in vogue in Australia for the last 48 years can continue for the next 4S years, and I see no reason why it should not continue for another 148 years. Why should we change it? The Chinese people give no better consideration to Australians going to China than we give to Chinese people coming here. Before World War II., the Japanese laws were much more restrictive upon Europeans than the, Australian laws were upon Japanese subjects.
– We know what has happened in Japan.
– I arn not worried about what has happened in Japan. I do not think we could ever appease the Japanese, and we should not try to do so. The honorable member for Flinders attacked me because I said the Japanese men and women should hot be allowed to pollute these shores. I have no racial animosity, but when I made that remark about pollution I think that I was expressing the opinion that the Australian people have formed owing to the brutalities of the Japanese Army and the attitude of the Japanese people in World War II. I could let the Japanese wives of Australian soldiers come to Australia, but I have more concern for the mothers and wives of Australian servicemen who were so brutally treated by the Japanese than to do that. If the honorable gentleman thinks that he is expressing Australian opinion when he talks as he does, he is making a fatal mistake. I have in my hand letters that were sent to me by the mothers and wives of Australian servicemen after 1 made the statement to which the honorable member has referred. They are very feeling letters, and they express strong sentiments about those who did such awful things to Australian seivicemen. The time has not yet arrived when we should allow Japanese people to come into this country. A long time must elapse before the Australian people can forgive the Japanese sufficiently to allow them to enter Australia. It was not until nine years after the conclusion of World War I. that German people, were allowed to come to Australia. No matter what wc may think of the Germans, there is a great difference, between the attitude of our people towards the Germans and their attitude towards the Japanese. In my administration I have tried to express the sentiments of the great majority of the Australian, people. I regard myself merely as the custodian of the rights of the Australian people in the matter of immigration. I should be recreant to my trust if I allowed, in defiance of our traditions and practices, that influx of people that the honorable member for Flinders has advocated. The honorable gentleman said that we should let a few people in every year.
– I was talking of married people.
– The honorable gentleman said that Ave should allow a few people in every year. I have no doubt that when he said that he had in mind the American practice or experiment of a quota system. I remind every one who talks about a. quota system that America has quotas for Europeans as well as Asiatics. It has a quota for Australians. Many Australians wish to go to America, but the Australian quota is so small that they will not be able to enter the United States of America for the next two or three years to come. The American quota system permits the entry every year of,, among others, 100 Australians, 150 Chinese and 100 Indians. It excludes completely the African negro, who is the bloodbrother of the American negro. Honorable members who criticize the Government for not introducing a quota system will find little solace in the American practice and experience. I know that Australia is being criticized in Asia. We do not criticize any nation . in Asia or America. The peoples of Asia and the Americans have the right to run their own countries a? they think best, and we have an equal right to run our country as wc think best. We do not interfere with the
Indian people in the administration of Indian affairs or with the Chinese people in the administration of Chinese affairs. When the Asiatic countries held a conference in New Delhi last year they went on record as saying that it was the unalienable and exclusive right of every country to determine the composition of its own population.
The people outside of this country who are attempting to force us to change our immigration policy are a mixed grill. They include members of the Communist party, who wish to break down our immigration laws and our established policy because of their distorted views about the brotherhood of man; and certain church leaders of every denomination who want a quota system also bocause of their particular ideas about the brotherhood of man. Newspapers like the South China Morning Post and the Malayan Free Press, which attack me personally very bitterly, are also arrayed against us. On investigation, I find that those newspapers are not owned or edited by Asiatics. They are owned by Englishmen who reside in those territories and arc attacking us because it is undeniable that our immigration laws and practices have never been popular in England. Englishmen view the world through European eyes. A problem that is only a problem of the Far East as far as Europe is concerned is, to those who live in Australia, a problem of the Near North. We have to view the problem fundamentally differently. It is amusing to see the line-up of irreconcilable elements on the question of our immigration laws and practices. The Commun111St party is unquestionably the party that has stirred up opposition to the application of .our policy. The terminology of some of the resolutions which have been passed by the Communist party and by church organizations is almost identical. It is easy to see how that comes about. The intellectuals of the Communist party go to the people with . whom they were associated at universities and who are not Communists. They talk this matter over, and if they find a ready field in which to sow their ideas they produce a resolution to be proposed. It is amazing how some persons who are violently anti-Communist in their outlook accept resolutions that are suggested to them by men whom they know to be members of the Communist party.
The honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) said, and I accept her assurance, that she does not want to destroy our present immigration laws and practices. I do not believe that any honorable member opposite, whether he be a member of the Liberal party or of the Australian Country party, wants to make any fundamental change in these laws. Those who talk of quotas, of letting sonic people in, and of administering our laws in a less clumsy and less arrogant fashion, as the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) once referred to it, do not realize that they are playing with fire. When our grandfathers and fathers founded this country they made sure that the standards of living that they brought with them from older countries would not be destroyed by large numbers of Asiatics. They established exclusive laws. We should be failing in our duty to our children and to their children if we were to create in our time and generation a problem that could grow to the extent that the Harlem problem has grown in the United States of America. We are bound not to allow that to happen. We are bound to maintain such institutions and laws as will ensure that our present standard of living is maintained. If we desire to help people who do not enjoy the same high standard of living as we do, we shall achieve success not by bringing them to this country, but by helping them to raise the standards of living in their own countries. If we were to bring them to Australia and intermingle their blood with ours we should only create an unfortunate class of halfbreeds. Those half-breeds would be ostracized by their brothers and lead miserable lives. Having said that to honorable members opposite, I remind them that the sentiments that they express are not always those which are expressed by members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party outside this Parliament.
– Or by members of the Labour party.
– If there is one matter on which there is no doubt in the minds of members of the Labour party it is the maintenance of the present immigration laws and practices of Australia. That is the number one plank of our political religion. We have always maintained that, and always will do so. A little while ago, on the 30th June last to be precise, the Melbourne Surf, printed a short paragraph. It was headed “M.L.C. Wants Coloured Labour for North “, and it read as follows: -
Northern Australia could be settled only by the introduction of coloured labour, said Sir William Angliss (Lib., S.Prov.), in the Legislative Council yesterday.
I took the trouble to read the Victorian Ilansard report of what Sir William Angliss said. He expressed the view that we could only develop the Northern Territory and the northern portions of Australia by bringing in coloured labour, in the same way as the kanakas were brought in years ago, and sending them out again when they had finished their contracts. That is the opinion of a member of the Liberal party who is also a member of a State parliament.
– He is about 84 years of agc, and senile.
– The honorable gentleman may excuse him if he wishes to do so, but he made those statements. There are other people who hold somewhat similar opinions. I was approached by a member of the Graziers Association and asked whether 1 would agree to the admission of Chinese to act as cooks on outback stations in Queensland and New South Wales. I told him that I should never agree to the admission of Asiatics to work on stations in any part of Australia. This gentleman told me that he thought that that would be my answer, and I said that I could try to help the graziers by supplying them with Baltic labour. He asked about Italians. I said that we might be able to let him have Italians to act as cooks, and there the interview ended, On the 2nd July of this year the
Sydney Morning Herald contained the following report of a meeting of the Graziers Federal Council: -
Italians Sought as Outback Cooks.
The Graziers Federal Council wants Italian immigrants as cooks on stations in the “ outback ‘’. lt would rather have Chinese, but the Minister for immigration, Mr. A. A. Calwell, will not agree
They carried it even to the point of disputing my decision that Asiatics cannot bf: brought .into this country to do any work that Australians can do and have done. We can claim to our credit and to that of our grandfathers and fathers that we have settled this continent without bringing in inferior classes of any race to do the hard work. That policy will be continued as long as this Government remains in power. Any government that does the opposite to it will do something for which Australia will pay a heavy penalty.
Silting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Individuals, such as Malayans and Indonesians, who have been deported from this country were war-time evacuees who were given asylum in Australia and were told very definitely that they would have to leave when the war ended. There were 4,000 Indonesians and Portuguese-Timorese half-castes and some 1,000 Chinese who went voluntarily, but there was difficulty in ensuring the departure of some others. A great deal of fuss was made about the departure of the Malayans to whom the honorable member for Flinders made some reference earlier to-day. For some time Australia has had a policy in regard to the admission of Asiatics who desire to enter the country as merchants, students, or assistants to or substitutes of fellow nationals who have established themselves in business here. This practice will be continued and Chinese and Indian people will enter Australia as freely as they have done in the past provided they fall within these clearly defined groups. The Government does not intend to allow an Asiatic influx into Australia to disturb Australian living standards. If Asiatic people are to enter
Australia we expect them to have the same cultural standards and the same way of life as the Australian people and also to conform to Australian conditions. Australia does not admit any Asiatics as permanent residents but the terms of their entry into Australia clearly indicate that, provided they can maintain the required volume of business, they may obtain renewals of their permits to remain for set periods. Those conditions have been considered satisfactory by the diplomatic representatives of the nations concerned and are quite as generous as Australians would obtain if they went to live in the countries from which most of our Asiatic visitors come. I desire to make it quite clear that there is not. the slightest intention on the part of the Government to offend anybody on racial grounds, but Australia has the right to say who shall come and live here. A nation has the same right in regard to who may enter its country as an individual has in respect of who may enter his home. We all have th§ right as individuals to say who shall visit us, and we may refuse any one the right of entry to our home or we may welcome him as we please. The Melbourne Age has indicated its views quite clearly. On the 14th July last, which is a memorable day, being the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille, it headed its leading article “~No equivocation on migration policy”. The article stated -
The clear warning by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) of the dangers of admitting Asians to Australian on a limited quota should be heeded by all Australians who have the welfare of the country and their children at heart. At no time in Australia’s history has the need for long sight and courage in protecting the racial character of the population been greater than it is to-day. Any compromise on what is widely termed the white-Australia policy would lie the thin edge of a wedge which would split apart, in the years ahead, the structure of national security, happiness and prosperity.
The article then refers to America and South America and mentions the persistent vocal challenge to Australian immigration policy from South Eastern Asian sources in recent times and it states -
Its -mainspring appears to be located in identifiable propaganda centres.
Lt, is true that the Communist party is strongly in favour of the abandonment of our immigration policy, and some other people who are not Communists have followed along the same line. The leading article continues -
The interchange of students and trade representatives, the dissemination of technological : “ 1 1 el scientific information and the provision of economic aid for needy Asian countries are essential measures of mutual benefit to both races. To go beyond that would be to abandon a priceless heritage and jeopardize the whole well-being of future generations in Australia.
In conclusion 1. shall draw attention to a speech made by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), the making of which I hope he has since repented. H is speech is recorded in the Melbourne Sun of the 29th June last in part as follows : -
Every Australian citizen should have the right of choice in marriage be it black, white or brindle, Mr. Gullett said, criticizing the
Government’s foreign policy. They should have the right to bring the foreign bride or bridegroom to thi: country for assimilation into its domestic economy.
I believe that that sentiment is not in accord with the view of a great majority of the Australian people. If we were to permit that policy to obtain, we should have within a few decades an influx of Asiatic people who had married Australians permanently or temporarily and had thus gained entry to this country that they would not be entitled to gain under ordinary conditions. It would be possible for any Asiatic person coming ashore from a visiting ship to go through a ceremony of marriage in a registry office or church and by the mere fact of having gone through that ceremony become entitled to remain here for life. In very little time our present standards would be endangered.
– I used the words “ bring here “.
– I shall repeat what the honorable gentleman said -
They should have the right to bring the foreign bride or bridegroom to this country for assimilation into its domestic economy.
– Note the word “ bring “.
– If people arc entitled to go out of the country and bring in a bride or bridegroom from overseas, obviously such brides or bridegrooms must have the right, if the marriage is performed in Australia, to remain here even though the second party originally only visits Australia in a ship.
– If a person is allowed to go abroad and bring back a bride, then obviously the marriage of a person who is here in pursuit of his calling must be allowed. A person who marries an Australian, woman must bc allowed the same rights as an Australian going overseas and bringing back a foreign bride or bridegroom.
– Brides, are not usually seamen.
– But seamen usually do marry brides.
– I did not put it in that way.
– The honorable gentleman’s way was just as objectionable to the sentiment of the Australian people, and I drew attention to it because his views do not conform to the views of the Government or, I believe, of the people.
– I propose to deal with a subject to which the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) has already referred. It concerns the shipping services to various Queensland ports particularly Maryborough, Bundaberg and Gladstone. The honorable member for Wide Bay applied himself effectively to this matter and submitted a strong argument on the need for further action on the part of the Government to relieve the present position at these ports. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), replying on behalf of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) commenced his reply with a cheap, persona] sneer at the honorable member. That honorable member had introduced the subject and dealt with it reasonably and forcibly, and neither the cogency of his remarks, nor the importance of the subject warranted such treatment from the Minister. However, honorable members are becoming accustomed to hearing that kind of reply in this chamber, and it seems to me that these tactics are used by the Government to cover incompetence and an inability to answer the case made out against it. I have applied myself to the matter of improved shipping in these areas by means of personal representations to the Minister concerned, by questions in the House, and by references in various speeches. As a result of my efforts, some temporary relief has been obtained from time to time. I say it is high time that the people in these areas were given some form of security regarding the export of their products and the import of the material so essential to the development of their districts.
– Does the honorable member desire shipping controls to be restored ?
– I shall refer to that point later. Maryborough and Gladstone are both river ports which must be served by small coastal ships. The districts of which they are the centres are largely concerned with the production of sugar and the requirements of imported materials are the same in both ports. Both ports are also unfortunately in a similar condition regarding shipping services. An example of the inadequacy of the present service may be gained from the fact that since the beginning of July the port of Bundaberg has had five trips from Baralaba and one from Babinda, both of which are small coastal vessels. The large districts they serve have to rely on that meagre service for the importation of all goods from the south, and for the transport of sugar to southern States. That condition existed at a period when these districts must be well serviced to enable the shipping of sugar production to the south. From time to time when the Government has been approached for assistance, Ministers have been prone to jibe at private enterprise. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds), who interjected a few minutes ago, was following that lead. I admit that private enterprise has to be looked to to give as great a measure of relief as possible, but private shipping companies have not yet recovered from the effects of the war when they suffered from government acquisitions of their vessels and other losses. As yet they have had very little opportunity to replace these losses. In addition to submitting representations to the Government, I have conferred with representatives of the shipping companies, and I know that the companies are doing their utmost to relieve the position in Queensland. The Government can help, because, under its ship-building programme it is proceeding with the construction of a type of small ship, the “ E “ class. For the time being at any rate it would considerably relieve the position if one of these vessels were made available. In that regard I desire, in conjunction with the honorable member for Wide Bay, to submit a request that the Minister for Shipping and Fuel pay a visit to those areas in order to see for himself exactly what the position is and to meet the representatives of the Maryborough and Bundaberg Chambers of Commerce in order to discuss how to find some way out of the difficulty. An invitation has already been issued to the Minister and I ask that lie accept it as quickly as possible, because no time should be lost in coming to a decision on this important matter. I ask that a visit be paid to the city of Maryborough. Interested parties at Bundaberg will go to Maryborough to interview the Minister there. That is one way in which the Government can assist in relieving the position, but there are other ways. Another reason for the serious shipping position in Queensland is the slow turn-round of ships which I have, mentioned before in this chamber. One instance was the recent loss by Baralaba of three valuable days at Bundaberg as a result of a dispute on the waterfront. This dispute, which has existed for a considerable time, arose over a request by the watersiders for a reclassification of the port for the purpose of attendance money payments. I know that that matter has been discussed and that it was the subject of an application to the Stevedoring Industry Commission Som, considerable time ago. Whatever the merits or demerits of the claim may be, at least the watersiders had a right to expect that the commission, which was ushered in last year with a great flourish of trumpets, would hear their claim within a reasonable time. Only after the claim has been dealt with by the commission will the Government be in a position to demand that a proper service lie provided for the port by those whose responsibility it is to provide it. In passing, while I admit frankly that the great delay in dealing with this claim has contributed to the hold-up, I do not for one moment condone the action of any body of workers in holding a pistol at the. head of the community in order to force an early hearing or perhaps the granting of their claim. Other fact-or? which have contributed to the state of affairs that exists at the port have already been referred to by the honorable member for Wide Bay. The honorable “member stated that the coastal vessel Baralaba has been held up in Brisbane and that Babinda, another small, boat servicing these ports, has been held up in Sydney as the result of a dispute over the employment of a cook. In replying to the honorable member for Wide Bay. the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) stated that Baralaba had sailed this morning and that it was hoped that Babinda would be free to sail to morrow. That is good news, but it does not get over the fact that much time which has already been wasted cannot be picked up. As the result of these delays there is stacked in millers’ sheds and on the wharfs in the Bundaberg area 28,000 tons of manufactured sugar. In order to give an indication of the seriousness of the situation I inform honorable members that that represents 65 per cent, of the total quantity of sugar manufactured during this season to date in the Bundaberg area. Only 35 per cent, of the sugar already manufactured has been shipped. The continuance of that state of affairs can lead to only one result. This year the total crop in the Bundaberg district is expected to yield approximately 80,000 tons of sugar and growers and the. millers alike are particularly concerned with the position that has developed. The mills may be forced to close down because they have not sufficient storage space to store additional quantities of manufactured sugar. Millers and farmers generally are making every effort to deal with the situation. At meetings which have been held the farmers have indicated that they are prepared to cut and load on Saturdays, and the millers have agreed to pay overtime rates at week-ends if necessary in order to enable them to handle the crop. These arrangements, however, will be ineffective if the manufactured sugar cannot be freed from the mills and the wharf storages. The whole situation depends upon the ability to increase the shipping service to those ports and to reduce the time for the turn round of ships.
It may be well for me to refer at this stage to the. general position regarding the lifting of sugar in Queensland, particularly in view of the somewhat complacent remarks made by Ministers. Ministers have said several times in the last few weeks that the position in regard to sugar shipments from north Queensland is reasonably satisfactory. I admitted a week or two ago that, as the result of the visit of Judge Kirby, a considerable quantity of last season’s stored sugar had been lifted; but it cannot be said that the position is satisfactory. It has now become evident that unless the general position improves, there is a grave danger that at least 10 per cent, of this year’s crop will have to be left standing in the fields and become a total loss. That percentage of the total crop represents S0,000 tons of sugar, or, in other words, sugar of a gross value of £2,000,000. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction stated that part of the difficulty was due to the fact that the loading equipment installed at most of the ports in north Queensland was not modern or efficient. I say from my own knowledge that that statement is not correct. In practically all the ports, certainly in all the major ports handling sugar in Queensland, efficient conveyor equipment has been installed in recent years which will stand comparison with that installed anywhere in the world. The handling equipment at Mackay was erected only a few years before the war and I do not know of any more modern handling installation anywhere. Certainly in one or two of the smaller ports the handling equipment is not so good. In making his statement the Minister was probably thinking of the port of Lucinda Point, where only a small jetty serves the two mills established there. It is fortunate that those mills can gain relief by transporting their sugar by rail to Townsville. Although the equipment at Lucinda Point may not be as good as it might be there are working there extremely good gangs of watersiders, and the loading position is not serious. At Cairns, Townsville, Mackay and Bundaberg there is available effective and modern loading equipment of the conveyor type which, if properly used, could adequately handle a greater volume of tonnage than is likely to be available this year. Let us remember that only a few years ago, in 1939, the Queensland sugar industry manufactured and shipped within a reasonable, time after the commencement of the new year no less than 891,000 tons of sugar. This year we expect to ship only 800,000 tons. In view of what has been done in the past, the contention that the handling equipment is inefficient will not stand the test of reason.
My remarks on the port position in North Queensland would not be complete without a further reference to the position of Gladstone, a very fine port, which for some reason seems to have become the Cinderella port of central Queensland. No ships have called at the port of Gladstone since May last, notwithstanding, the fact that it serves a large farming and pastoral area extending over the coastal range and embracing such districts as Monto and the adjoining farming areas and portion of the Callide Valley, where considerable coal deposits have recently been developed. A serious position has arisen because that district has no shipping service from Sydney, Port Kembla and Newcastle, from which centres almost all of the essential material for its development has to be obtained. I have received letters from various firms indicating that time and time again their quotas of supplies from firms such as Lysaght’s have been cancolled because of the inability of suppliers to obtain shipping space. These quotas have been lost to the district. At public meetings of those interested the requirements of the area were stressed. It was pointed out that there is an extreme shortage of materials necessary for home building in that area. The position there is infinitely more acute than that created by the general shortages which exist all over Australia. Even the small quota made available to that area cannot be shipped there. In addition, it has been practically impossible for the farmers to obtain supplies of iron, fencing materials, and the like, and accordingly those engaged in this rich producing area are in grave difficulties. Only last week I asked for some action to be taken to ensure that the coastal vessel Delamere, which was loading in Sydney, would include Gladstone on its next northern trip. The Minister promised to do everything possible, but I have not yet received a reply indicating whether my request has been granted. Another alarming feature which is developing in Gladstone as a result of the absence of an adequate shipping service in that a large meat works there is considering transferring a good deal of its activities to Sydney or Brisbane, because it cannot adequately house its present employees let alone provide for the extension of its activities. These facts, which have been submitted to the Minister concerned by the honorable member for Wide Bay and myself, definitely confirm our contention that it is vitally necessary that everything that can be done to increase the shipping service to North Queensland ports should be done. There should be no more fobbing off by statements that the matter will be looked into. A visit to the area should be made by a responsible Minister so that he may see for himself at first hand what needs to be done. Action should be taken by the Government to provide one new small vessel for the handling of that trade. A suitable vessel should be allotted from the Government’s shipbuilding programme. Such a visit would clear the atmosphere and would, I believe, achieve some results which would relieve the grave situation that exists there.
– I have just been informed that arrangements have been made for the coastal vessel Delamere to leave Sydney with 600 tons of cargo for Gladstone. The vessel is due to sail almost immediately. Almost every point raised by the honorable member to-night favours Government resumption of shipping control.
– What rubbish!
– Honorable members opposite speak with two voices. Every day at question time- the Government is bombarded with questions as to why shipping is not made available to this and that port, but at other times honorable members want to get rid of all controls. No sooner had the Government decided to Hand back to private enterprise the responsibility for providing shipping services than honorable members opposite began to complain. The Government does not propose to re-enter the sphere of shipping control.
– Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Department of Social Services, the Department of Supply and Development, the Department of Shipping and Fuel, the Department of External Territories and the Department of Immigration has expired.
Question put -
That the proposed votes be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. H. P. Lazzarini.)
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed vote; £1,345,000.
Department of Transport
Proposed vote,. £162,000.
Department of Information
Proposed vote, £351,500.
Department of Postwar Reconstruction
Proposed vote, £787,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- The Department of Information should appear on these Estimates as the “Department for the Supply of Quotations”, because its sole function appears to be to keep the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) supplied with a continuous flow of quotations. These are taken from ancient political history, from newspapers,- and from Hansard, and are distributed in the proportion of three, to the Minister and one to the Minister’s party. On recent performances it would, perhaps, be more appropriate to call the Minister, not the “ Minister for Quotations “ but the “ Minister for Misquotations “. Recently, in order to bolster up a very weak, personal attack upon me, the Minister used a quotation concerning something that took place in New South Wales in 1928. Then, in an attempt to make it appear that T was responsible for what had happened, he said that 1 was Premier of New South Wales at that time. He knew, of course, that I was not Premier of New South Wales in 1928. He knew that I was the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of New South Wales in 1928, and that I did not become Premier until two years later. I cite that instance in order to show how dangerous it is to have in the Government a Minister who distorts facts in order to suit his quotations. Then, applying the principle laid down by Goebbels the Minister accused me of lying. He said that I was not prepared to make a statement about the Communists outside the Parliament where I did not enjoy parliamentary privilege. He knew, of course, that I had published a book in which I named the leaders of the Communist party in Australia, and made charges against them. He also knew that Thornton had taken out a writ for £10.000 against me, but I do not run for cover as did the Minister for Information when he took out a writ against the Sydney Daily Telegraph. I did not “ squib “ the issue with the Communists, as he “ squibbed “ the issue with the Daily Telegraph.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Will the honorable gentleman tell me to which department he is referring?
– To the Department of Information.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Will the honorable gentleman say what the action of the Minister in regard to the Daily Telegraph has to do with the department under discussion?
– I was merely saying that I did not “ squib “ the issue as the Minis ter did. In my case, it was Thornton, the Communist leader, who ran away. The Minister for Information accused me of lying when I said that Communists had been appointed by this Government to key positions.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member is not permitted to make the discussion of the proposed vote for the Department of Information an excuse for an irrelevant attack upon the Minister for Information in regard to a matter which has nothing to do with the administration of the Department of Information.
– It was the Minister for Information who attacked me, and 1 am replying to what the Minister said. It is not surprising to see the Minister for Information, in this Parliament and elsewhere, defending the Communists, but I have named the Communists which this Government appointed to key positions.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member is trying to discuss a subject which the committee has already discussed and disposed of. The subject of communism was discussed when it was relevant to the department then before the committee. It is nol relevant to any of the departments now before the committee.
– I propose to show thai the Minister for Information appointed Communists to his department. I desire to show the cumulative and injurious effect of that action on this country. The Minister for Information said that I had not named those men. I had done so. I named Atcherley and Pomeroy. So I hurl that lie back into the Minister’s teeth. He also stated that I had lied when I said that Communists had been appointed to boards that control transport in this country.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The Department of Transport and the Department of Shipping and Fuel are not under consideration.
– I named Healy, the Communist secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, whom the Government appointed to the Stevedoring Industry Commission.
– I rise to order! I should like to know whether it is in order for the Minister for Information to attempt to influence the Chair from the treasury bench.
– Order ! The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is grossly out of order. The Chair will not be influenced by any one. I regard the honorable member’s remark as a reflection on the Chair, and I ask him to withdraw it.
– Sir, I did not reflect upon the Chair. I said that an attempt was being made to influence the Chair, not that the Chair had been influenced by it. If you. <ur, regard my remark as a reflection upon the Chair, T withdraw it.
– I also mentioned E. V. Elliott, the Communist secretary of the Seamen’s Union, whom the Government appointed to the Commonwealth Maritime Industry Commission. I also mentioned I. Williams, Communist ‘ secretary of the miners’ federation, whom this Government appointed to the Royal Commission on the Coalmining Industry. I want it to be clearly understood that I named those gentlemen, not under cover of parliamentary privilege, hut outside the Parliament. So, again, I hurl that lie back into the teeth of the Minister for Information. To suit his own purposes, the Minister dragged in the name of a former member for Cook, Mr. J. S. Garden. That was a slur on members of the party to which he belongs, and a snide way of attacking one of his own colleagues. That is typical of the Minister. He knew how the present member for Cook came to be elected ‘to this eli amber.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I will not put up with the honorable member for Reid much longer. I ask him to tell me how he relates the subject of the entry of the honorable member for Cook to the House of Representatives with any of the departments now under consideration.
–The Minister for Information made his attacks on me and I did not squirm or squeal. The Estimates of the Department of Information are now under consideration, and honorable members are in order, I submit, in criticizing the Minister’s actions.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Honorable members will be in order in criticizing the proposed vote for the Department of Information, but the honorable member for Reid may not move around the whole world, as it were, to make an attack on the Minister. I ask him to direct his remarks to the departments now under consideration; otherwise, I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– As a Minister of the Crown, the honorable gentleman is privileged in having the right of preaudience in this committee. As Minister for Information, he said certain things about me, and I claim to have an equal right to speak in my defence. He has accused me of lying, and I should be permitted to hurl the lie back in his teeth. I did not- interrupt the Minister when he attacked me, and now I claim my right to reply to him. I shall be brief.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member for Reid is not in order, in speaking to the proposed vote for the Department of Information in replying to statements made by a Minister or any honorable member when the Estimates of another department were being discussed.
– I hope that my remarks have not been misunderstood. I ask for your indulgence, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The Minister for Information has attacked me, and I am entitled to speak in my own defence. I shall not waste one word, either. I was pointing out that when the Minister for Information dragged in the name of Garden against me, ho knew that he was wrong, that he was casting a slur on members of the political party to which he belongs and that he was doing, in a snide way. an injury to one of his colleagues. That is typical of the Minister. He knows how the present member for Cook was elected to the House of Representatives, and I desire all honorable members to know the facts. The Minister knows how Garden was defeated at that election.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN”.How does the honorable member connect his remarks with the proposed vote for the Department of Information?
– The honorable member for Reid is being very informative.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The .honorable ‘member for Reid -appears to think that he is ‘engaging dm a -general budget debate.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! I do ,not require any help from members of the Opposition. They are trying to help the honorable member for Reid, of course. T.he honorable member for Reid will have the same rights in this committee as any .other honorable .member, -no more and no less.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear !
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable gentleman must confine his remarks to the four departments .under consideration.
– I am criticizing the Minister’s action in using his official position, and also public money and a governmental -instrumentality to attack me. I desire to criticize his .’administration of the Department .of Information. Garden was the nominee of the ‘present Government -party. He had ‘been -selected by the federal executive of the Australian Labour party, -of -which the Minister for Information was a member. Garden was defeated by the candidate who (Carried my banner, the present member for Cook. That is how that honorable member came to be elected to the House of Representatives, and .that is how the former member for Cook, Mr. J. S. Garden, was defeated.
– - Order ! The honorable member had better leave it at that.
– The Minister knows that he went to Sydney and conspired with Garden against my leadership.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I shall not call the honorable gentleman to order again. He has referred “to incidents which took place before the Department of Information came into existence, and certainly before the Minister for Information was appointed to that office. If the honorable member cannot confine his remarks to the four departments under consideration, I shall ask him to ^resume his seat.
– The Minister knows that Garden was given a job by this Government because—
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to resume his seat.
– The remarks of the honorable mem’ber for Reid relate to the Department of Transport.
– 1 rise to order. I submit that the honorable member is in order in referring to the appointment of a person to the Department of Labour and National Service, which is now under consideration. The committee is considering not -only the Estimates for the current financial year, but also the actual expenditure for the last financial year. A former member for Cook, Mr. Garden, >was em-ployed in the Department of Labour and National “Service during the period ‘under consideration, ‘and “in accordance with the correct interpretation of the Standing Orders, the honorable member for Reid may :refer to Mr. Garden
– Order! The Chair is of the opinion that the honorable member for Reid has been referring to “this subject in -an ‘entirely different manne-
Opposition Members. - Oh1!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order’! The Chair was of the opinion that the remarks of the .honorable member for Reid related to matters other than the appointment of a person to the Department of Labour and National Service. However, I shall hear the honorable member for Reid further to see whether he connects his remarks with any of the four departments under consideration.
– The Minister for Information and the Minister for Transport know that Garden was given a Commonwealth job as a liaison officer in the Department of Labour and National Service because of the services which he had rendered against me. Now, because Garden is in a place where he cannot defend himself, Ministers are prepared to “ put the ‘boot “ into that particular gentleman. I desire to -show that the Minister for Information, because of his actions past and present, is not a fit person to administer the Department of
Information. Even his former leader, the late Mr. John Curtin, and other Ministers were not immune from his underhand tactics. He stepped into the shoes of that very good Labour man, the late Dr. Maloney, and many honorable members will recall how bitter he was when he was not elected to the first Curtin Ministry, and how he attacked the Government, which he was pledged to support, at every opportunity on the adjournment of the House.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member to resume his seat. The actions of the Minister when he was a private- member have nothing to do with the proposed vote for the Department of Information. If the honorable gentleman desires to go back as far as 1941, he will have to wait for a suitable occasion. He is not in order in doing so now.
– I submit to you, sir, with all due respect because you have been in the Chair for long periods, that throughout the sittings of the committee on Friday, yesterday and to-day, I took advantage of every opportunity to obtain the call in order to discuss the Estimates of every department. I was not called. It was just bad luck, I admit.
– Order ! The Chair has nothing to do with the good luck or bad luck of the honorable member. Even if he failed to catch the eye of the Chair and did not get the call for the purpose of discussing the Estimates of other departments, he is not in order now in discussing the votes of earlier departments, to which the committee has now agreed. That must be quite clear.
– I do not want to discuss the Estimates of any other department. The. Minister to whom I am referring is in charge of one of the departments that are now under discussion, and it is the only one on which I can- discuss and criticize him. Is the ruling of the Chair that the Minister in charge of a department and the estimates for that department are above criticism?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.That is not correct. The honorable member for Reid can say what he likes to say in fair criticism of the Department of Information and its administration.
– And of its administrator?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Of its administration. What the honorable member for Melbourne did as a private member, or what any other honorable member said or did in this chamber as a private member, is not relevant to the question that is now before the Chair.
– If what the Minister for Information did twelve months ago cannot be discussed now, I say that no one has the right to discuss what happened twenty years ago. If I have to sit here and listen to the Minister make statements that are false, and which I am proving to be untrue, and if, on the only occasion on which I can reply to those statements, I am to be debarred from doing so, then the King’s justice and the King’s Parliament are not what I thought them to be. I am desirous of rebutting what the Minister said about me. If I cannot do so, that is too bad. If I cannot do it in the discussion of these Estimates, there is no other way in which I can do it. If I am not to be allowed to speak, I shall have to put up with it; However, I shall endeavour to answer the Minister’s charges and will go as far as I am permitted to go by the Chair.
Honorable members will remember how on that occasion the Minister ranted and raved all over the Commonwealth against his then leader, and how he insulted him both in private and public. They will recall the second conscription fight-
– I rise to order. Is it in order for an honorable member to read a speech that has been prepared for him by some one outside of the Parliament who is biased against the Minister for Information? I submit that it is quite out of order for the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) to read such a speech. I submit that this vile attack on the Minister has no reference to the Estimates that are now being discussed.
– With regard to reading his speech, I do not think the honorable member is transgressing to any greater extent than many other honorable members have done. As far as I can see, he is referring to- copious notes. I point out to the honorable member that I am not trying to stifle him, but the general political career of the Minister for Information is not under discussion at the present moment.
– “Why was mine?
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.L do not know what the Minister said about the honorable member for Reid. I was not in the chair at that time. I am pointing out to the honorable gentleman that he has all the freedom in the world to say what he likes, in parliamentary language, about what the Minister has done or failed to do in administering the Department of Information. He cannot, however, roam around the world, attacking the Minister for Information or any other member of the committee under the guise of discussing the Estimates. What the committee is now. discussing, among other things, is the Department of Information and the Estimates in relation to it. The honorable gentleman is entitled to give his reasons for saying why he thinks that the administration of the department is faulty and why the Estimates should not be approved. He can attack the administration of the department and suggest that it has been right or wrong, but he cannot rove around the world in order to follow the political history of the Minister for Information or any other Minister.
– So far I have not got beyond New South Wales. I was stating what the Minister did, and showing that he is unfit to be a Minister of the Crown. I am trying to show the committee what kind of an administrator he is. I was telling honorable members of how the honorable gentleman acted in the second conscription fight, how he vilified his then leader, and how he circulated copies of manifestos that were issued and signed by his leader in the first conscription fight.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Was that done through the Department of Information.
– This Minister did it.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable gentleman was not a Minister then.
– I have been attacked, and I am attempting to reply to the attack. I have listened to Ministers talking about the brothers-in-law, sistersinlaw and other relatives of members of the Opposition. I have heard remarks about men marrying for money. None of those comments had anything to do with the Estimates of any department. Surely I have the right to say something. I point out how the Minister for Information dug back into the files of the Melbourne Herald for 1906 to discredit his then leader, and how he dug up an anticonscription speech that was delivered by his leader in the Melbourne Trades Hall as a young man and circulated it privately throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Even then the honorable gentleman was training, and that was his training ground, to become the “ Minister for Quotations “. He did all those things, and still remained within the ranks of the Labour party.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable gentleman’s time his expired.
– I propose to tell the committee something about the Department of Information. I have no intention of replying to anything with which the old gentleman from Reid (Mr. Lang) has regaled the committee to-night.
– The old gentleman?
– The failing septugenarian
– I rise to order. Since the rules of debate are being strictly enforced, I point out that it is proper for an honorable member to refer to another honorable member as the honorable member for whatever his electorate may be. The Minister for Information has referred to the honorable member for Reid as “ the old gentleman from Reid “. I submit that that expression is unparliamentary and out of order, and suggest that the Chair direct the Minister to conform to the rules of debate that apply in this chamber.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.My attention was diverted and I did not catch what the Minister said. I ask the honorable gentleman to refer to the honorable member forReid and other honorable members by their electorates.
– Now that the game isbecoming clean, I shall refer to the honorable member forReid, and also to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) by their parliamentary titles. That is the form of address that we have in this Parliament and I shall keep to it.
– I rise to order. A question was raised last week concerning the correct method of addressing an honorable member of the Parliament. I ask you, sir, to say whether it is not correct to address a member of this honorable House in the same way as a member of the House of Commons, which is the Mother of Parliaments, is addressed, namely, as the honorable and gallant gentleman.
– The honorable member has raised no point of order. Whatever may be the practice of the House of Commons, the rules of this Parliament require an honorable member, when speaking in this chamber, to address another honorable member by the electorate that he represents. That is all that is required.
– I should like to tell this committee and, through it, the people of Australia of what is being done under the Parliament’s authority to publicize Australia abroad. I am the better able to do this because during my overseas tour last year I was able to examine on the spot our publicity activities in the countries that I visited. Prom being principally the servant, and by no means always an honest one, of sectional interests, publicity has grown to national stature in the use to which it is being put by the Commonwealth Department of Information. We are not unique in this, because in recent years, organized national publicity has become increasingly a principal means of national expression; but we are to-day in the vanguard of those progressive nations which have realized the necessity and the possibilities of publicity and we are already harvesting its results.
– I rise to order. I point out that the Minister for Information is reading every word of his speech, and I understand that that constitutes a breach of our Standing Orders. I direct your attention, sir, to a ruling by the Temporary Chairman of Committees, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), that a member must not read his speech in this chamber.
– The Minister is not reading his speech. He is referring to his notes.
– The Standing Orders do not prohibit a Minister from reading his speech.
– I rise to order. As there seems to be some doubt about whether or not the Minister is reading his speech, will you, sir, as a test, ask the honorable gentleman to hand a copy of his notes to you so that as he proceeds with his speech you may satisfy yourself whether he is or is not reading it?
– There is no point of order involved.
– As the Minister in charge of a department, the Estimates for which are under discussion, I am entitled to read my speech, if I desire to do so. The Standing Orders do not apply in this case.
The principal aims of our national publicity are to help the other peoples of the world to understand us, our aims and endeavours, and to foster good relationships in all our dealings with them. In a sentence, the Department of Information exists to make Australia better and more favorably known to the rest of the world.
Our national publicity is also a powerful aid to our immigration plans. It is a means of letting people know, factually and faithfully, the sort of people we are, the conditions which immigrants will encounter here, and the opportunities which this country offers them. With this knowledge, those who elect to make their future in Australia are far more likely to make successful citizens than many who in the past have come here ill informed, and perhaps misled by sanguine slogans and glib generalities. The officers of the Department of Information abroad have gained a fine reputation in the short history of this organization for telling the truth about Australia. They are information ‘officers and not propagandists, and as such have the confidence of the press, writers, lecturers and others with whom they deal as being a source from which accurate information on Australia can be obtained.
Broadly, in the organizational structures of the Department of Information, which performs these publicity tasks, Australia is the main production base, the Australian Government’s overseas offices are its principal outlets, and its media are every means of presenting Australia to the peoples of the world - principally in print, over the air, and on the screen. The department’s main activities in this country are, consequently, the production of letterpress, photographs, radio scripts, and films. The product goes chiefly to the Australian News and Information Bureau at Australia House, London, to a similar bureau in New York, and to Australian diplomatic and trade establishments overseas. Officers of the department are attached to such establishments in America, Canada, France, India, Egypt and Malaya.
Because publicity for Australia in other countries is the department’s principal activity, I shall try to give the committee some idea of its extent and of the success it has attained. I feel sure the facts will surprise many people, especially those whose impressions of the department have been gained mainly from criticism by newspapers which have not bothered to inform themselves or their readers of the extent of its services to this country. With dollar spending limited, we have had to make each dollar do the work of two or more in dollar currency countries. Mr. E. G. Bonney, formerly Director-General of the Department of Information in Australia, assumed the post of Director-General of the Australian News and Information Bureau in New York last April. He took over at a time when Australia’s dollar position was becoming extremely acute.
– I rise to order. An honorable member suggested a short while ago that the Minister was reading his speech. You, sir, ruled that the honorable gentleman was merely consulting his notes. I now ask you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, if you are still of the opinion that the Minister is merely consulting notes, and I draw attention to Standing Order 256, which states, without any possibility of its being misunderstood, that a member shall not read his speech. I suggest that the Minister is merely taking the opportunity to make a press statement through the medium of the Parliament. He is not making a speech, but is merely reading notes passed to him, and I contend that he has no right to continue.
– It is the practice to allow Ministers to refer to prepared statements. Ministerial statements and second-reading speeches are invariably read.
– I desire to take the point of order that this is not a secondreading speech.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.It is a ministerial statement.
– It is not a statement.
– By streamlining the organization to meet the new conditions, the bureau has maintained all its vital information, radio and film services,, although its expenditure has been reduced by 20 per cent. We continue to secure excellent placements of Australian articles and pictures in the American press. Throughout the country these ari? so numerous that the mere task of keeping a record of them has become too. costly and cumbersome to be justified, but during the last month for which there are records, some 12,000 clippings were sent in by a press-cutting agency which operates only in the. eastern States of America. Full-length magazine articles, mainly illustrated and of the type which appear in the department’s publication South-West Pacific, are placed in the United States of America at the rate of about one a day, and these are of great importance a3 they give a balanced picture of the Australian way of life. Our magazine material appears, as major items have done recently, in publications such as Life, with its circulation of 26,000,000 copies and the Sunday supplement of a New York paper with its 4,000,000 readers. It is accepted also by magazines of lesser circulation but great influence, such as the Christian Science Monitor, The Rotarian, and specialist journals devoted to engineering, trade, and similar matters. Daily and weekly news summaries go to all leading American editors and commentators. News bulletins are issued regularly in such specialized fields as agriculture, finance, aviation and women’s interests.
Large quantities of descriptive booklets and maps are sent to school teachers, children, universities, colleges and libraries. In many American schools, classes are doing regular studies on Australia. Requests from American schools often total 500 a month, and requests of a general nature about Australia’s arts, sciences, industries, sports and other activities run at the same high rate. The department’s documentary films for publicizing Australia abroad are popular in America. The cost of production is now being offset by increasing revenues from rentals. Television has opened up new avenues for publicizing Australia. Programme organizers have already featured much Australian material from films made by the department. We expect more placements in this direction as television expands. Extra revenue from this field will help considerably in meeting the costs of producing films.
The ‘ New York bureau has had an outstanding success in arranging with 160 radio stations throughout the United States for a weekly broadcast of an Australian programme, “ A Look at Australia “. Outstanding Australians visiting the United States are featured in these broadcasts and in radio and television interviews over the major networks. Most of these broadcasts are given in the evening, when the potential listening audience is highest. It is impossible to measure the results of activities such as these; but a valuable indication of the acceptability of the department’s material and the work of the bureau was given when the bureau asked people on its mailing lists to fill in cards indicating the subjects relating to Australia in which they were interested. More than 60 per cent, of the cards were filled in and returned, although experience by much larger organizations had shown a 25 per cent, response to be a maximum result. As a result of the demand indicated on the cards, the number of items of mail despatched from ‘ the bureau rose to 2,000 each working day.
Reporting on its work among educational institutions, the West Coast officeof the bureau, at San Francisco. saysthat some American university studentshave written their theses on Australian subjects, mainly from material prepared and supplied by the office, and this is a common occurrence in the other areas where our services are available. The work of the bureau, in association with that of the Department of Immigration’s representatives in America, is reflected inthe fact that up to the 30th June last, despite the very limited passengershipping available, nearly 1,000 immigrants had reached Australia from the United States.
– I rise to order. I request, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that you rule under what circumstances Standing Order 256 may be invoked. You have stated in a previous ruling that a Minister is entitled to read a ministerial statement or a prepared speech on the second reading of a bill.
I point out, however, that a ministerial statement has to be made by leave of the House ‘ and that this debate is in committee. I also point out at this stage what the highest authority on British parliamentary procedure, May, says on this particular subject. He says that the purpose of Standing Order 256, which provides that speeches shall not be read, is primarily to maintain the cut and thrust of debate, and goes on to say-
The reading of speeches is even more improper in committee than in the House itself.
This chamber is at present in committee. I suggest that the Minister is only taking up time in order to prevent other honorable members from speaking, and is therefore abusing the rules and privileges, of the Parliament.
– The Minister is only following the practice of the Parliament and taking advantage of a privilege which has been invariably extended to Ministers. He is giving a detailed statement of the work of his department, by means of a prepared statement.
– Honorable members opposite sat down to allow the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Lang) to deliver a tirade.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! The Minister may continue his statement.
– Acting within the limits of a small vote, the department’s officer attached to the office of the Australian Government Trade Commissioner, New York, organized and supervised an Australian exhibit at the International Textiles Exposition in New York last June. This, and an Australian display centre and a display window at Rockefeller Centre, have provided outstanding instances of the trade promotional publicity in which he is engaged.
I am certain that honorable members on both sides of the chamber are most interested to know what is happening inside the Department of Information and I have gone to some trouble to have this information prepared. I have still eighteen pages to read.
– As the Minister has declared that he has eighteen pages to read, and because that reading, in view of the limited time available for the consideration of these Estimates, will mean a delay that will prevent honorable members On the Opposition side from speaking, I move -
That the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) be not further heard.
Question put. The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. T. Sheehan.)
Majority . . 8
Question so resolved in the negative.
The activities of the department’s officers at other overseas posts resemble those I have outlined, although smaller financial resources aire available to them. Whether in Canada, Europe, Egypt, India or Malaya, these officers have succeeded to an astonishing extent, as the department’s records and my observations fully confirm, in reaching the eyes and ears of the world with Australia’s national publicity. Much attention has been given to educational work by our officer at the office of the High Commissioner for Australia in Canada. He reports that from the 1st July, 1947, to the .31st May, 1948, he distributed 2,551 special packages of Australian educational material to schools. Many Canadian schools have special study projects on Australia. He states -
Canadian scientists and others are realizing more and more the fact that Australia, and Canada have many problems in common, and arc keen on exchanging information.
Many journals in France have given pride of place to articles on Australia supplied through the department’s press attache at the Australian Embassy, Paris. Not long ago, an important French commercial review devoted an entire issue to an economic study of Australia prepared by the department’s writers. Material is supplied from this centre to other European countries, and the attache maintains a reference sys tem which is frequently used by journalists, authors and students.
In the Middle East and the arc of Asiatic countries which stretches across Australia’s near north, pictorial publicity material is of special importance, because pictures sneak all languages. Thus, our information officer in Cairo reports that the greatest success is being achieved by means of our films. These are fed into circuits which extend from Egypt as far afield as Tripolitania, Kenya and Iran. Despite newsprint shortage, and heavy demands upon their space by a long succession of dramatic events in their own country, Indian newspapers have given generous space to Australian publicity material supplied through the department’s officer at New Delhi. He reports that when Indian editors have occasion to deal with Australian news and affairs they mostly tend to approach them in a friendly frame of mind, because they are accustomed to receiving from the Australian office, not propaganda material on contentious subjects, but material which has been prepared in an effort to supply the sort of information which will interest their readers. Having recently emerged as a dominion, India has shown particular interest in the Australian Constitution, and in our methods of administration. Departments of the Government of India have drawn heavily upon material supplied to our officer for information on these subjects, and there seems little doubt that this has influenced, for instance, the draft Indian constitution. The Trade Information Officer at the office of the Senior Australian Trade Commissioner for the Indian Ocean zone is concerned with publicity relating to Australian trade, primary and secondary industry, and economics. Austral News, an eight-page monthly newspaper produced from his office, has been widely acclaimed as the most useful publication of the kind in the area. An economic survey, agricultural newsletter, and technical newsletter are among the features regularly distributed from the office to the press and interested authorities.
Month after month, Australian publicity material distributed by the Trade Information Officer at the office of the Australian Commissioner, Singapore, has occupied hundreds of column-inches of space in Malayan newspapers. Working under difficulties, this office has succeeded on several occasions in placing such conclusive facts before editors that they have withheld, or re-ca9t, items which, by misrepresentation or bias, would have been harmful to Australia.
Use of films as a vehicle for Australian publicity in Malaya is illustrated by the record of an open-air screening at Penang of some of the department’s colour films to about 3,000 Malayans. Although rain was drizzling upon the audience, they sat throughout the programme. At its conclusion, five village head-men approached the officer in charge of the screening, and begged that such films be sent to -their villages. The duties of our Trade Information officers include ^answering press comment where necessary, publicising visits of Australian business men, assisting in promoting exhibitions and displays, and selling campaigns, and directing the flow cif trade publicity material to oversea media from the Department of Information and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. The material provided by these departments is made available also to a number of trade commissioners at points where there is no information or publicity officer..
A great deal of the work of all our overseas officers, bureau staffs and press attaches^ as well as trade information officers, is associated with trade promotion. A very high percentage of the articles prepared in Australia and published in the overseas press deals with trade subjects, new Australian inventions and new processes, and there has been a very heartening response in inquiries from overseas business men and importers following the publication qf these’ articles. Our overseas officers, too> apart from the trade information officers, work closely with the trade commissioners, particularly in bringing their specialized knowledge to bear on the preparation of exhibitions and other graphic displays designed to promote trade and closer understanding.
Although I have referred at length to the activities of the department’s overseas officers, I have provided no more than glimpses of their work, which involves the use of practically all forms of publicity media. Results of their activities are readily apparent in those countries in which they are engaged, but are little known in Australia. Where experience shows that in any particular country circumstances do not justify continued maintenance of an officer, we do not hesitate to withdraw our representative. This, was the case in Nanking, China, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where press attaches were initially posted. It is a principle underlying the department’s work that the national interest is served best by factual, informative material, provided this can be made sufficiently attractive tor the reader, the listener, and the film audience to gain attention and hold interest. The radio time alone gained by Australian Department of Information activities in other countries is literally invaluable. I feel safe in saying that even if it were bought at the rates usually charged for time on the air, the value of such publicity would amount to a very substantial part indeed of the £324,448 which the entire activities of the department, at home and abroad, cost last year. It is because of the interest-content and integrity of the department’s material that the question of payment does not arise. The radio and press overseas are glad to accept and use it on. its merits alone.
Another important part of my department’s work is the winning of recognition abroad for Australian culture. Australian literature has come of age but this is not generally realized abroad and my department has attempted to overcome this lag. It does this in a number of ways. One is the distribution, in co-operation with Australian publishers, of review copies of Australian books to overseas editors, and publishers. Another is the holding of exhibitions of Australian, books in. Britain and in the United. States of America. Another way is. the placing of articles on all aspects of Australian literature in overseas literary journals and reviews.
Publicity for. the Department of Immigration is carried. out both- overseas and in, Australia) by a. specialized, seddon* of the Department of Information. Members of this, section are experienced journalists, who have made. a. close study of Australia’s immigration policy and the problems associated! with, ite The section is in constant- liaison with1 the. senior officers of the Department of Immigration, and with the. Commonwealth Immigration. Advisory Council and the State migration” authorities-: One officer of the section is. stationed in London where he works between the. London office of tha Department; of Information- and the Commonwealth Migration- Branch, Australia House: This1 officer also handles publicity throughout Europe) in co-operation> with Australian? representatives in Europe, including the Australian Military Mission in Germany. The work of the section is three-fold;, First,, it carries out- direct, publicity, overseas to make known Australia^ immigration schemes and Australia, as- a home for the migrants.;, secondly, it provides advice to migrants, on health,, customs, quarantine requirements, &c, and maintains) the migrant’s interest, in Australia while awaiting passage-;, and thirdly,, it. conducts, publicity in Australia to assist the assimilation, of newcomers into the Australian community, and to- encourage nonBritish migrants to adopt Australian citizenship. In accordance with a- directive issued before the- publicity section began operations, all information supplied for overseas consumption is. of a strictly factual nature. Emphasis is always placed on such items as the housing shortage in, Australia. The publicity section has produced’ booklets, which have had wide distribution in Britain, Europe and the United; States of America. Several of them have gone, into second and third editions. These booklets, explain the way. of, life in Australia;, our customs, social services, and< institutions, and, other points, of” interest. to> the .prospective migrant; the free and. assisted passages.1 schemes operating from the United Kingdom;- and the- assisted passages- scheme, from the. United’ States of America. A. pre-embarkation service booklet is being, prepared in. London to replace, mimeographed; circulars- giving advice on-, shipping, transfer- of money, and the like. A. monthly bulletin entitled Australia- and the- Migrant, is- produced! in London to- serve as a seller of migration to Australia, and to sustain the interest of migrants! awaiting transport. This’ publicity- is< supplemented by lectures,, broadcasts- from Radio Australia, placement, of articles and pictures in the- British press, exhibitions; posters, and films: om Australia. Two booklets have; been prepared’ for distribution throughout European- countries from which Australia1 seeks; migrants, particularly to- the: displaced, persons camps in occupied Germany. Am extension of publicity services to the displaced persons Gamps- has been, started, and Radio- Australia, is: now broadcasting a. daily onehour, programme of news; music: and feature, programmes direct. to> tha- International Relief Organization-, camps Pesters*, pictures, displays, and placement of articles in the foreign-language press in hath the American audi British occupation, zones- supplement this publicity. In Australia,, work iiss weLL advanced on production of. six handbooks! for new immigrants;, one.- for each State. These books will introduce the newcomer- to Australia and- particularly to the State in, which the- migrant will reside; A booklet in. simplified English is being prepared to,- help the- non.-British migrants to be absorbed, easily into the community, and to indicate- to- them the1 advantages of adopting Australian: citizenship. Information on the! Commonwealth’s immigration, plans and their progress is provided: to- the- Australian- people in a monthly news-review; bulletin prepared for the> Department of Immigration. Copies go to the Australian- press and radio, to organizational journals,, to employer. and employee organizations, to church heads, welfare bodies, and other opinion-forming, sections- o£ the community. During the last financial year, the: section’s, publicity work was restricted by the limited; number, of- ships available to- bring migrants., to. Australia.
This year the section has plans which will enable it to provide as wide a cover of immigration publicity as circumstances and policy dictate.
The Shortwave Division of the Department of Information, which made a significant contribution to the waging of the war against Japan, has been serving an important peace-time purpose as Radic Australia. To-day, every important nation is using shortwave as an instrument of goodwill and publicity. Although the cost of Radio Australia is small compared with that of comparable services in other countries, it has a worldwide reputation. A recent survey made in Sweden, a country noted for its avid interest in shortwave broadcasting, rated Radio Australia with the British Broadcasting Corporation and the shortwave services of Canada and the United States of America, as the four leading services of their kind in the world.
Radio Australia operates from the most extensive and powerful station in the Southern Hemisphere, and is on the air for 22 hours of programme time a day. Broadcasting in five languages, it transmits seventeen news bulletins daily. In these bulletins and in its talks features, it presents Australian events and their background clearly and impartially to the world. The number of letters received by Radio Australia has been steadily mounting over the past three years. They come in now at the rate of 25,000 a year - a clear indication of its popularity, for only a minute proportion of radio listeners bother to write to their stations. Radio Australia uses talks, features and music to tell Australia’s story, to develop trade, to encourage migrants, investors and tourists, and to publicize the achievements of Australians in music, art, science, industry, sport and other spheres. Its news is quoted and requoted by radio stations, newspapers and periodicals throughout the world.
During the last year, Radio Australia programmes have been relayed by All.India Radio, Singapore Radio, the big Mutual System in the United States, New Zealand’s National Broadcasting Service, the Canadian and South African Broadcasting Corporations, and the British Broadcasting Corporation. Its news bulletins and other features are relayed three times every day over mediumwave and shortwave by occupation forces’ stations in Japan. When, owing to the volume of work involved, 500 people occupying important position; were asked by the department’s London bureau whether they would accept a weekly Australian news bulletin in place of the daily bulletin transmitted by Radio Australia and distributed by the bureau, remarkable tributes to the service flowed in. Among these was a letter from the secretary of Dalgety and Company in London in the course of which he said -
This publication is of vital importance to this company, and owing to the large number of directors and executives who are concerned with the information contained therein, it is necessary for them to have copies of the daily bulletin in their hands at early as possible. Hence we are unable to reduce the number of copies we require.
The manager of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in London wrote -
As the Central Bank, we are daily called upon to answer numerous inquiries on Australian affairs, and to provide up-to-date statistics, many of which we can find only in the bulletin.
Mr. W. S. Robinson, of Austral Developments Limited, replied to the bureau’s circular as follows: -
Your bulletin has a wide circulation in our office, and we find it always of great interest.
More than 70 films have been produced by the Film Division of the Department of Information. These have been of all types, from instructional films for technical training to general interest films on subjects as diverse as Antarctica, hallet, arid aviation. Many have been designed for theatrical release, to stimulate interest in Australian achievement. One of them, titled School in the Mailbox, achieved the rare honour of nomination for an academy award. In Australia, there has been a great increase in the theatrical distribution of my department’s films. As many as four have been running at one time in capital cities, where it is estimated they have been seen by more than a million people. Thousands more will see them on suburban and country circuits. Press critics have been warm in their praise of such films as Spotlight on Australian Ballet, School iti the Mailbox Namatjira the Painter and Antarctic Adventure. In the present year, distribution will be expanded and more films released theatrically. Besides bringing Australian activity to the attention of the Australian public, distribution represents a source of revenue to the Government. The department’s policy is to contract with commercial distributors for straight-out fees or for a percentage of returns. As the number of films grows, returns will increase.
Preparation of the stream of material necessary to maintain the department’s world-wide press publicity services naturally is a big task. It is exacting especially because of the high standard of accuracy needed in acting as an official mouthpiece of Australia. Yet it is performed by 28 writers, and a photographic section which supplies the necessary illustrations. The size of the literary staff employed is less than is required by a daily newspaper in one of our big cities. So well and favorably have the department’s services become known, that a large proportion of the material is supplied in response to requests by various publications. Feature articles produced by the department cover almost every aspect of Australian affairs. In addition, the department supplies a vast amount of information in the form of newsletters for use by newspapers, periodicals, lecturers, radio commentators and others.
A feature known as Talkabout, relating to unusual and interesting aspects of Australia, has for two years been supplied to the great Associated Press newsagency, which circulates it, with illustrations by the agency’s artists, to 1,500 newspapers in the United States of America, and to newspapers in 21 other countries. We face constantly increasing demands for pictures of Australian life - our sports, tourist attractions, industrial activities and so on. Investors, working men, tourists and immigrants want to know what Australia has to offer, and pictures help to tell them the story. Each week approximately 1,500 prints are distributed through our overseas representatives to newspapers, magazines, libraries, schools and other organizations interested in. Australia.
Honorable members have received from time to time copies of the Department of Information overseas publicity magazine,
South-West Pacific, and I feel confident that they have been impressed by the high quality of its contents and the craftmanship evident in its appearance. Practically every article and many of the illustrations have been reproduced in important overseas publications. Australia in Facts and Figures, also prepared and produced by the department, is widely used as a source of reference and reading, both in Australia and overseas; and its circulation continues to grow as demand for the booklet increases. It is included in reading material placed bv the department on outgoing aircraft and ships. Most of the copies made available in Australia go to newspaper and broadcasting offices, literary institutes, local governing bodies, Commonwealth and State departments, and schools. Know Australia, a pithy, factual booklet, has run to its seventh edition, and a total distribution of approximately 1,000,000 copies. Like all these publications, it is in constant demand, particularly among prospective immigrants and tourists. Other publications are produced a9 occasion requires.
With the concurrence of the State tourist authorities, tourist publicity on behalf of Australia in other countries has been included in the responsibilities of the Department of Information. Shortage of shinning and accommodation, and the continuance of unsettled world conditions, have been a setback to hopes of early resumption of tourist traffic to Australia, although a boom is being experienced in Australia’s domestic tourist trade. It is noteworthy, however, that Great Britain, despite its acute food shortage and housing problem, has established a national tourist authority and is taking very active and successful steps to attract tourists, particularly in relation to its dollar currency requirements. The British Travel Association reports that Britain’s post-war tourist traffic is now its greatest single earner of dollars. The association looks forward to the British Isles reaping within a few years an annual return of £100,000,000 sterling from tourism. With this example in mind, the department is using the present lull in tourist traffic to Australia to plan ahead, and to explore all avenues for the necessary co-operation on a national basis pf ;all concerned in the development of Australia’s tourist attractions.
Liaison is maintained by the Department ,of Information with other .departments, both Commonwealth and State, and with instrumentalities in which the Commonwealth, is concerned, in relation <to publicity matters. The -department makes .available the full range -.pf its resources in joint endeavours related to (special campaigns and .exhibitions. This work is facilitated .by -offices >of .the department in Sydney and Melbourne, which deal with matters within .their respective -spheres. They .also contribute substantially to the volume .©f publicity material despatched by the department’s central secretariat in -Canberra. Information, .assistance and -advice is .given by .the department to international press correspondents film producers and (.others who visit this country seeking to cater for the interest -pf the world at large in Australia, In this, the department’s State .offices provide convenient points of contact.
Despite the world-wide lange, :and the diversity of the activities of my department, its total expenditure in the year ended, the .30th June last, was £324,409 or £9,0.00 less than the .amount authorized by the Parliament. Expenditure for the current year is estimated at £351,50.0. The increase in comparison with last year’s estimate is .due solely to costofliving .adjustments to salaries and wages, and represents the minimum amount necessary for the department to maintain its existing activities. Honorable members may find it helpful, as a basis of comparison, to know that the UnderSecretary of State for Commonwealth Relations told the House of Commons in July last that total British Government expenditure on overseas information services in 194S-49 would, at then current rates, reach £11,622,000. This means that the United Kingdom spends just under 5s. a head of its population on information services, while Australia spends only lid. a person. Our offices, at home and overseas, are small arid modest compared even with those of certain tiny European and South American countries, but their efficiency and the results they have achieved have had them accepted on several occasions as ,the models for other nations which wished to .set ,up .national news and information ‘bureaux, or to improve their existing ones. The story of my department .is, I am happy to say, one of steady achievement .and valuable contribution to Australia’s interests. Results speak for themselves.
Mr. ADERMA20J (Maranoa) (‘9..-40].- I wish to deal with -only two aspects of the Estimates now .before us, one pertaining to (the administration of the Department of Transport and the other to thai -.of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction Before I do so, however, I must ,say that, in view of the time taken by .the .Minister for Information (Mr, Calwell,) to-night in his attempt to defend his department against any criticism that might .be voiced in this chamber. I .am beginning .to altar my opinion >of the efficiency .of .the Department of Information. As the Minister stone-walled, .this debate by giving us :a long .dissertation >on the activities of his department, -one can only conclude that its administration must be rotten indeed.
I have discussed the subject -of roadmaking machinery in this -chamber on many occasions. Paint of the moneys made available joinder the Commonwealth Add Roads and Works Act is to he , set aside for the purchase of road-making machinery. I draw the attention .of the Minister for Transport (Mr.. Ward) to the serious plight of local governing .authorities in Queensland because of their inability to procure roadmaking machinery, I have received a letter from the Wondai Shire Council, which is representative of most of the 2.6 local authorities in my electorate. It reads as follows : -
In March, 19*8, when machinery was thought .to be available, and years after some had been lost by the shire to impressment by the services, we were not successful in buying. In November of that year orders were accepted by Waugh and Josephson for supply of one No. 12 Caterpillar Grader, and by Tutt-Bryant for one Allis Chalmers “ AD “ Grader. Waugh and Josephson would not indicate a date for delivery, but Tutt-Bryant promised delivery within six months. These orders of almost two years standing have not been delivered, making our position most serious.
Not only have the orders not been delivered but when I approached the State authorities which recently took over the control of the distribution of these machines from the Department of Works and Housing, and intimated that it would follow the scheme of distribution previously adopted by that department, I was informed that I could be given no help in the matter. I asked if delivery could he -expected within twelve months and was informed that they could not even promise that. Local governing authorities prefer tractors of the caterpillar type, the framework of which is manufactured in Australia. Last year the issue of licences for the importation of tractors of that type was suspended and this year only seven of those tractors are to be imported for the whole of Queensland. That indicates how serious the situation has become. Earlier, when I asked that the number of permits be at least doubled so that the most urgent and pressing requirements could be met, I was informed that the number of machines imported had reached the capacity of the Australian manufacturers in providing the requisite framework. I also asked what roadmaking machinery was being exported from Australia and I was informed that no machinery was being exported, other than to New Guinea and other territories under the control of the Commonwealth. Mr. George E. Bryant, of the Tutt-Bryant organization in Australia, is reported as follows in the Industrial News Service which, I presume, is a publication produced by the organization : -
Australian factories were producing more construction .machinery than any other country in the world, except U.S.A., claimed Mr. George T3. Bryant, a leading Australian chartered engineer, upon his return from America. “ For example “, he said, “ Australia is today able to export in addition to supplying her own needs. Recently some £50,000 worth of treedozers for clearing work associated with the British Food Council’s ground nut project were exported to Tanganyika, South Africa, in addition to several 150 h.p. high-speed industrial wheel tractors to Sweden, India, Malaya and other countries.
– I should say that Mr. Bryant, who is concerned with the manufacture of machinery of this kind, ought to know. I want the matter cleared up. The Government should make it possible to import more tractors so that local bodies in Queensland may keep roads in repair. If only double the number were imported, they would meet the most urgent requirements, and the number of dollars involved would not be great. The agents of machinery firms say they cannot promise delivery within five years, and a road grader is practically worn out after five years’ use. The need for machinery of this kind is urgent, and I ask whether the Government is going to allow the export of such machinery as is made in Australia. The supply of tyres for roadmaking machinery is another problem. Rubber is available, but it is hard to get the tyres made.
On more than one occasion I have heard the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) eulogize the Government’s land settlement programme for ex-servicemen. I have also heard him criticize the Victorian Government for its handling of this matter, but the Queensland Government has not done so well as the Victorian Government, although there is more suitable land available for settlement in Queensland than in Victoria. I have here a copy of the most recent issue of the Legionnaire, the official organ of the Australian Legion of Ex-service Men and Women, in which there appears an article headed, “ What about Soldiers’ Land - Mr. FoleY ? “ Mr. Foley is Minister for Lands in the Queensland Government. The article states -
Two thousand Queensland ex-servicemen who helped save Australia’s 3,000,000 square miles from the Japanese, have now found they can’t get an acre of land for themselves.
This is the number of ex-servicemen approved under the War Service Land Settlement Scheme and still awaiting farms. They have been waiting for 3, 4 and 5 years. For all they know they might have to wait another 10 years.
They think, and “Legionnaire” think they have waited long enough. It’s just about time that the State Minister for Lands (Mr. Foley) tells them frankly exactly what the Queensland Government is doing for them.
There have been plenty of vague promises, plenty of nebulous plans, plenty of finesounding optimistic press statements by responsible Ministers during and since the war. But there have been very few farms.
In March, 1946, two and a half years ago, the then Minister for Lands (Mr. Jones) gave a glowing statement to Legionnaire about the prospects for soldier settlement.
These were some of the assurances Mr. Jones gave: -
Seven and a half million acres, spread over many parts of the State were involved in land settlement proposals;
Inspection and subdivision of 5,700,000 acres of pastoral land throughout Queensland’s sheep districts was progressing. Half of the land selected would be available for ex-servicemen.
Agricultural and dairy farm land totalling nearly 1,000,000 acres were under expert scrutiny for submission for approval and inclusion in the Commonwealth State Settlement Scheme.
In Canberra a few weeks ago, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) revealed how little had really been achieved. Hia statement exposed, beyond doubt, the abject failure of the Queensland Government to settle ex-servicemen on the land.
Mr. Dedman disclosed that, of 1,427 exservicemen given farms throughout Australia under the War Service Land Settlement Scheme only (54 had been helped by the Queensland Government.
How can the Government be satisfied with the progress of its land settlement schemes for ex-servicemen? Government supporters have criticized what was done for ex-servicemen after the first world war, but the record of this Government is an outstanding failure, in spite of the fact that, in Queensland at any rate, much suitable land is available, and a Labour government is in office in that State. I have not heard any Queensland Ministers in this Parliament eulogizing the land settlement scheme for ex-servicemen in Queensland. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction should take the matter up with the Queensland Government, instead of criticizing the governments in other States where a far better job has been done than the Government of Queensland has been able to do. I raise this question in the interests of ex-servicemen who are looking for land, and who have been waiting for two and a half years for the farms that were promised them. I want to hear what the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction intends to do about it.
.- It is shown at page 81 of the Estimates that expenditure by the Department of Labour and National Service was £1,178,300 in 1947-4’S. whereas estimated expenditure for 1948-49 is £1,345,000, an increase of £166,444. This department was set up to find jobs. for those seeking them, Ye the Government boasts every day that in Australia practically no one is 0U of work, and that is true. The department has a pay-roll of more thai £1,000,000. In the summary of expenditure shown at page 81 of the Estimates, salaries and payments in the nature of salaries are estimated to amount to £1,123,900 for the present financial year. What do the officers employed in this department do? For instance, there are 26 research officers, besides a chief research officer, and five senior officers. The salary of the chief research officer is more than £1,000 a year. There are also ten assistant research officers, nineteen psychologists and vocational guide officers, seventeen inspectors, twenty architects and 21 engineers. What are they doing in the department? In Victoria, alone, there are 40,000 jobs waiting to be filled, according to figures issued by the State Statistician. From the reply to a question which I asked some monthsago to ascertain how many jobs the department had filled, I learned that if the number of jobs was divided into the amount paid in salaries to officers of the department, it would be found that the filling of each job cost the taxpayers between £2 and £3, even though some of the jobs lasted only for a day or two. In his reply to me, the Minister for Labour and National Service wrote many pages pointing out what a useful work the department did in advising employers. That may be so, but I have never heard of any employer going to the department for advice. Every suburb of every city is dotted with branch offices of the department, although many ex-servicemen are unable to obtain office accommodation. The department also employs survey officers, executive officers, senior clerks and a production illustrator. I do not want to disparage the work of these officers. If there was unemployment they could, no doubt, do useful work, but under present conditions I believe that the activities of the department could be centralized. If a man is looking for a job to-day he consults the classified advertisements in his newspaper. He does not trail along to the
Government employment office. I have no wish to see the officers employed by this department thrown out of work, but i. am sure that many of them would be glad to go into productive employment if the opportunity to do so were offered to them. Therefore, I should like the Minister to make a short statement explaining what the officers are doing, and why, when manufacturers, importers and commercial houses urgently require employees, it should be necessary to retain the services of SCores of people in this department. They cannot have much work to do. They are occupying office space which could be better utilized for other purposes. They should be engaged in more productive employment.
– From time to time, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) has asked many questions about the Department of Labour and National Service, and has received detailed replies about its activities. He has then selected a section of an answer, and harped upon it month after month without telling the whole story. Many honorable members have asked, quite properly, for information about the staffs engaged in the. Department of Labour and National Service and in other departments. More than a year ago, the Public Service Board, at the request of the Prime. Minister (Mr. Chifley), appointed a special committee to examine the staffs of all departments and to recommend retrenchments to a permanent peace-time basis. As the result of that investigation, the staff of nearly every department has been reduced by several hundred officers. For instance, the Department of Labour and National Service employs 300 fewer officers this year than it employed last year, although its functions have increased. The Government did not desire to dispense with the services of people unnecessarily. The purpose of the inquiry was to retrench temporary employees, and to arrive at a maximum basis of staffs necessary to carry on administrative work, so that officers could be placed on a permanent basis. Last year, the staff of the Department of Labour and National Service was reduced by 137 temporary employees and 130 permanent officers. The special committee is continuing its inquiries. My department, still employs a few temporary officers.
– What does the Minister mean by a “ permanent peace-time basis”?
– During the war Commonwealth departments had to expand their staffs. The Department of Labour and National Service, for example, employed a considerable number of persons to administer the man-power regulations.
– The man-power organization has been carried over to peacetime.
– It has not. It was in order that such war-time organizations should not be continued in peacetime that the special committee was appointed to investigate the staffs of all departments. Members of that committee included Major-General Stevens and the Public Service Commissioner^ Mr. Pinner.
– What is the basis? Are not staffs reduced as the need for them diminishes ?
– Why does’ the Department of Labour and National Service require 42 research officers?
– The staff of that department has been reduced in accordance with the recommendations of the special committee. The honorable member for Balaclava referred to the Commonwealth Employment Service. He ascertained the total number of persons who had been placed in positions by the Commonwealth Employment Service, divided it . into the proposed vote for the whole department, and then stated that the result represented the cost of finding em- ployment for each person. Although that calculation was childish and ridiculous, the honorable member continues to repeat it. He should be ashamed of himself for doing so. The work of the Department of Labour and National Service is not confined to the employment section. The Commonwealth Employment Office is only a part of the department.
The. Department of Labour and National Service, administers the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme and defence training schemes. Honorable members may not be aware that radio engineers and- other technicians are. still being, trained for the Royal Australian Navy, the Army and the. Royal Australian Air Force. The number is not large. Disabled persons, exservicemen and civilians are being trained so that, instead of being invalid’ pensioners, they may do useful work in the community. Persons are also being trained in industry. Employers have agreed to train men on the job in an endeavour to overcome the shortage of experienced tradesmen. In addition, workers, who have been rendered redundant by technological! changes, are. being, retrained. That arrangement is described in the White Paper on Eull Employment. Standards o£ industrial! training, are. being raised in conjunction with the Universities Commission. Yesterday, the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) said “ that the. Government had fallen down on the job of training ex-service personnel. But the fact is that according to figures, compiled last week in connexion with the full-time vocational training sherne, 82,079 persons had been, accepted, 56^042 were in training and 38,612 had completed training: In connexion with parttime classes and technical training at night, 16-7,000 had been accepted, 149,000 were in training and 13,229 had completed their training.
– What has that information to do with the question that I asked ?
– I am answering the criticism that the Department of Labour and National Service has fallen down on the job of training ex-service personnel. The welfare section of the department is rendering excellent service. The employers will admit that, and they are glad to co-operate in this work. Anybody who visits workshops and factories will see the great improvements that have been made in lighting, and ventilation.
– Has the Minister ever visited a Commonwealth employment office?
– I have.- been to. a few of them, and 1 found- that the. staffs, had nothing,- to do.
– I have been through as many workshops as any other honorable member- has. On one occasion, a manager made a remark to me when he noticed: that an engineer was reading a newspaper in working hours. The. official said to me, “ Did you see the engineer reading the newspaper?”- I replied that I had. I added, “ If I were in your place, I should be happy to see him doing that. I notice that the whole of the work is proceeding in perfect rhythm. There is not a sign of any grating in the machinery. Everything is well oiled and in perfect order. If that officer had to- keep his. eye. on the thermometer to see that the machinery was working properly and- had to watch constantly that the number of revolutions was kept uniform, he would! have worked himself into a flurry o£ excitment. Instead o£ that, he- is. calmly reading the newspaper.. That is an. indication that everything is alL right, and is. proof, that the men. are doing their job properly.”
The Department of Labour and National Service^ is- also concerned with industrial conciliation and arbitration. Since the appointment of the new conciliation commissioners some time ago, between 400 and 500 disputes ‘ have been dealt with. That involves more work for the department. I emphasize that the industrial, section of the department has no relation to the employment section. The welfare section has almost revolutionized working conditions in factories. For example, in these days nearly every large factory has a modern cafeteria or dining-room, and amenities.
– Factories had those amenities long before the Department of Labour and National Service was established.
– Of course, the honorable member for Balaclava does not like- to see improvements occurring under the administration of a Labour government. I shall now deal with one of the worst statements that have been made about industrial conditions in this debate. If I do not explain the true position Australian industry Will be placed in a bad light in the eyes of the people of other countries. That will be unfortunate at a time when we are trying to encourage overseas industrialists to establish factories in this country. The Acting Leader of the Opposition read figures which were perfectly true, but he left the wrong, impression. I propose to explain exactly how the Commonwealth Statistician collects data in relation to industrial disputes, including time Lost as the result of industrial disputes. The Commonwealth Statistician- states that the equivalent of ten working days lost has been adopted as’ a minimum. That may mean one man idle for ten days or ten men idle for one day. The returns would include one-hour stop-work meetings if the attendances :at them, were lar.ge enough. That explanation shows the detail into which the Common.weail.th Statistician goes in compiling, information. Even when- only a few hours are lost at a stopwork meeting, they may be reckoned as days lost in an industrial- dispute. The Acting Leader of the Opposition has sufficient knowledge of industrial problems not to place a wrong’ interpretation on those figures, unless he desired purposely to create a wrong, impression’. Surely he did not want to do~ that.
– The Minister’s remarks are irrelevant.
– They are not. One of the principal functions of the Department for Labour and National Service is the handling of industrial matters. The statement which the Acting leader of the, Opposition made was true as far as it went, but I desire to correct another wrong impression that may have been, created. The honorable .gentleman said,, in effect, that in. 1938 there were 375 industrial disputes- recorded, by the. Com.monwealth Statistician, but that in 1947 there were 982 disputes recorded.. The honorable gentleman stopped at that point. The impression which he left upon his listeners was that there were nearly three times as many industrial disputes last year as there were in 1938. He selected the year 1938 because he was then a. member of the ^Menzies Government. I have .selected the same years, and asked the Commonwealth Statistician for the true story, because 1 do not want the honorable gentleman to leave a wrong impression that might possibly ruin the economic reputation of this country. In 19$S the total number of days lost through industrial disputes was 1,337,994. In 1947, when there were nearly three times as many disputes, the number of man-days lost was 1,338,728. That works out at 0.5S5 of a day per capita per annum in 1938, and 0.511 of a day in 1947, or a fraction over half a day per capita per a’nnum, or less than one minute a day. I am not saying that that is not too much time lost. I do not mean that, j agree that there are too many disputes and too many days lost. I should like workers not to lose even one shilling in wages through industrial disputes, and employers not to lose one fraction of production as the result of stoppages. I am trying to achieve that objective. However,’ the Acting Leader of the Opposition* made’ it appear that as three times- as- many industrial disputes occurred last year compared with 1938, three times as much production, was lost last, year compared with 1938.
– ‘The Minister does not suggest that men resume production immediately they finish’ a stop-work meeting.
– I am stating that the speec*h of the honorable gentleman could have created in other countries a wrong impression about the industrial situation in Australia. The position was not nearly three times as bad in 1947 as it was in 1938. In fact, it had not grown worse. In 1947, there were 331,600 more people1 employed in factories and workshops than in 1938. The honorable gentleman did not make that position clear. He stopped, short, and did not tell the whole story. It is impossible to say what is lost in production by merely quoting the number of disputes. That information does not give the real, picture. The only real way to find out whether more production is lost in one period compared with another as the result of industrial disputes is to take the number of manhours lost in one period .ant1, compare it with the relevant figures for another period.
– Production is the basis for any comparison.
– That would be better still. The only real test is to ascertain the number of hours or days that have been lost and the number of people who were employed in a certain period. Lf a calculation is made on that basis, it will be seen that the position was better in 1947 than it was in 1938. There were approximately 300,000 more people in employment in 1947 than in 1938. If the number of people employed had been the same in both years, the position in 1938 would have been slightly better than in 1947, but when the man hours that were lost in 1947 are spread over an extra 300,000 people the balance is shifted in favour of 1947. If the matter is examined in that way, it will be seen that, although the honorable gentleman’s figures are correct, a different state of affairs is revealed.
Mr. White interjecting,
– I am replying to a criticism that was made of my department. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) is only a nuisance.
– I put forward a proposition, and when I asked the Minister to answer it he said that I was a nuisance. [ regard that remark as offensive, and ask that it be withdrawn.
– If what I said was offensive to the honorable member for Balaclava, then I withdraw my remark. I have already answered him, and I shall endeavour now to answer another honorable member with a greater mind than his.
– What does the Minister know about minds?
– Order! The honorable member for Balaclava must cease interjecting.
– I do not want the industrial position of Australia to be wrongly stated. It was said that the number of establishments in which industrial disputes have occurred has increased considerably, and the figures show that that statement is true. I propose to show why the figure increased in 1947. Honorable mem bers opposite will recall the metal trades dispute which started just before Christmas of 1946 and continued for two or three months afterwards. A few ironworkers were on strike. Just before Christmas of 1947 the Chamber of Manufactures of Victoria made a great mistake, as its members admitted to me in confidence. They said that they made a blunder because they gave way to two or three of their hotheads. It will be seen that there are hotheads among the employers as well as among the employees. A lockout was ordered. Every little metal trades workshop in Victoria was closed, and boilermakers, engineers, blackmiths, sheet metal workers, moulders and other tradesmen connected with the metal trades, who had not previously been concerned in the dispute, were locked out. That caused a great increase in the number of establishments that were involved in industrial disputes. Although what the honorable member said was correct, he did not completely outline the picture, and the incomplete picturepresented the position as being many times worse than in fact it is.
– Has the Department of Labour and National Service ascertained the production per capita in Australia in, for instance, 1938, and compared it with the corresponding figures for the postwar years ?
– Those figures have been taken out many times. They were used during the 40-hour week and basic wage cases.
– Do the figures not show that there has been a fall in production ?’
– They might show that there has been a decrease in some-‘ instances and not in others. I would not deny that in some industries production per capita has decreased, but there are others in which it has increased.
– What is the overall position ?
– I do not know.
– If the Minister has the figures he should disclose them to the committee.
– I have not got them here. I am at present engaged in attempting to settle a dispute in Victoria, where the matchmakers are on strike. They are all piece-workers, and have the incentives to production which honorable gentlemen opposite advocate. On one type of machine the employees produced 1,350 gross of matches a day when they were working a 44-hour week. Their hours were then reduced to 40 a week. The conciliation commissioner, Mr. Morrison, who is a very experienced officer, fixed the output at 1,400 gross instead of 1,350, although the employees were working four hours a week loss than before. The employees said that the increase was too much, and ceased work. It is hoped that the case will be re-heard by the .conciliation commissioner next week and that the dispute will then he settled. I point out that the conciliation commissioner asked them to do more in a 40-hour week than they were doing in a 44-hour week.
– The whole basis of the claim for a 40-hour week was that employees could produce more in 40 hours than in 44 hours, but nobody outside the Labour party believed that it would be so.
– It can be proved in some instances that the output for a 40- hour week is greater than that for a 44- hour week. In the case to which I have referred, the employees were asked to produce more in a shorter working week.
– The conciliation commissioner said that the output should be greater, and the employees said that they were being asked to do too much.
- Mr. Staniforth Rickettson, the chairman of the Capel Court Investment Company, an organization with investments in no less than 217 companies, mostly in Australia and New Zealand, does not think that the economic position of Australia -is as bad as honorable gentlemen opposite say it is. On the 22nd March, 194S, speaking at the annual meeting of his company, he said -
Some Australians may perhaps overemphasize their own political ,and industrial troubles, but careful examination of political, financial and economic conditions in all countries will disclose, I feel, that Australia now is predominantly the best practicable field, and the one offering the most attractions, for the investment of British capital.
Obviously that gentleman does not think that Australia is such a dismal place as
Opposition members say that it is. The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has probably seen Mr. Carter appearing in court many times. When Mr. Carter was representing the Western Australian Employers Federation in proceedings in the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration before Judge DrakeBrockman, the judge asked him why the organization for which he was appearingdid not combine with employers organizations in other States so that one Commonwealth award could be made to cover all of them. Mr. Carter said that there was nothing to prevent that being done except the natural fear of his clients that they would be “ brought out from their little industrial backwater of comparative peace into the turmoil of the Eastern situation “. The judge then remarked -
More recently, that turmoil in the east has not been very big, because Australia has been the least disturbed of any industrial country in the world with the exception of one for a long period.
– That is absolute nonsense.
– That statement was made by Judge Drake-Brockman. Mr. Carter then said -
Yes, and I think I oan justly say that they claim that Western Australia has been the most peaceful of all the States.
He admitted that industrial conditions in the other States of Australia were more settled than those in other countries, but suggested that Western Australia was the most peaceful of the Australian States. It will he seen that a business man and a judge both deny the implied suggestion of the Acting Leader of the Opposition that this country is in a state of turmoil and industrial chaos, and is a bad place in which to invest money.
, - I desire to address my remarks to the Estimates’ for the Department of Postwar Reconstruction. It is proposed that a sum of £24,000 should be allotted for investigation expenses in relation to resources and development projects. A distinguished Scandinavian scientist, who is one of the greatest experts in the world on the production of cellulose and its manufacture into various products, was recently brought to this country to examine a special project.
I saw the Comptroller-General of Customs in order to discover the quantities of articles manufactured from timber that have been imported into Australia during the last few years. I propose to deal with two items - newsprint and rayon yarn. The value of the imports of those articles increased by £6,000,000 between 1946- 47 and 1947-48, despite the fact that they have been subjected to severe rationing. In 1946-47 the total value of imports of these two items was £7,760,000 Australian and in 1947-48 it was £13,525,000 Australian. If, by utilizing our timber resources, we could avoid the expenditure of over £13,000,000 on the importation of these goods, dollars to that value would be made available for the purchase of tractors, motor cars, lorries, petrol and machinery that would enable us materially to increase our total production and to make long-term plans for the continued employment of our people as well as of many migrants. The £13,525,000 worth of imports is made up of 117,000 tons of newsprint, valued at £3,561,000; 35,000 tons of the better class of printing paper, valued at £3,635,000; 46,000 tons of various forms of wood pulp, which is not at present made in Australia, for the manufacture of paper, valued at £2,000,000; and 12,000,000 lb. of rayon yams, which are made from wood fibres, valued at £4,327,000. In 1947- 48, 53,000 tons of paper was made in Australia, and 152,000 tons was imported. We need 2S0,000 tons of paper a year to meet our normal consumption. So, in 1947-48 we were short by 75,000 tons of what we required to carry on. Australian capacity to absorb locallymanufactured paper, would he roughly 227,000 tons above whatever quantity was necessary to supply rayon, cellulose, celluloid, paint and lacquers in addition to what was already produced in Australia. The establishment of works to deal with wood fibres and the conversion of timber into the products I have mentioned would lead to the establishment of industries which would have to be near the sites from which they drew their raw materials and would require a substantia] amount of water to enable them to operate. These developments would necessarily lead to decentralized industries, the operation of which would require the development of « considerable amount of power, which would in turn enable other industries to be set up in the same region. At the present time in Australia, timber is converted mainly to building materials or firewood. Only about 10 per cent, of forest timbers are actually utilized. Only one in three of the trees of any .good forest can’ be used because of the fact that many trees are not straight, but if there were a combination of saw-milling associated with the manufacture of paper pulp and cellulose it would he possible to use 60 per cent, or 70 per cent, of Australia’s total bulk of timber. That would eliminate tremendous waste. If a system of reafforestation were carried into effect as well as a system of -rotation in the use of timbers it would be found that, as a result of extra care and improved technique, it would be possible to treble the total production of timber in this country and so establish permanent industries associated with country districts. There are only a limited number of valuable timbers in Australia and of timber belts of such magnitude as would permit the establishment of any big undertaking in the manufacture of paper pulp and rayon, both of which require at least 100,000 tons of wood a year at the outset.
Of the f out most valuable sites one is in Tasmania, where by reason of heavy rainfall and humid conditions the growth of timber is exceptionel and the re-growth of timber already cut down is relatively fast. Two of the other districts are on the north coast of New South Wales, particularly on the Clarence River and the Clarence-Macleay plateau, and the fourth is in northern Queensland. In each of these places there is Toughly available in one location about 1,000,000 acres of heavily timbered country that would be of extraordinary value in establishing undertakings. The position on the Clarence River ha6 been examined by the Forestry Department of New South Wales, which has found that if a 60-year rotation scheme were adopted it would be possible to cut no less than 1,600,000 tons of timber every year and that that amount would be increased with the progress of reafforestation and as a result of proper care being taken of the plantation. A similar programme would also be of extraordinary value in Papua and New Guinea, where there are not only very dense forests but also extraordinary opportunities for the development of water power. Australia would be able to establish big industries there and would not have to sell timber concessions. It could put those; natural assets, into use and create: permanent employment. The development of these industries on a comprehensive ‘ scale sufficient to supply the: ever-growing’ needs of Australia, would ensure the proper care and protection of out forests. If a very definite policy of forest conservation were adopted it would be found, as it has been found in other countries, that conservation and development of forests- would not only preserve the’ timber supply but would alsoprevent soil’ erosion and1 limit flood damage as well as the silting up of streams and dams. It would also undoubtedly retard the progress of heavy floods to- the lower reaches of the various rivers. During the last few years we have seen terrific floods in the northern rivers of New . South Wales, particularly the Richmond and the Clarence, and there is no doubt that the denudation of the hill country in the1 upper reaches of these rivers has been largely responsible for1 the severity and rapidity of these repeated inundations. There are several outstanding types of timber on the sites where this development could take place and the needs of Australia iri wood pulp for the manufacture of paper, rayon and plastics are sufficiently great to necessitate that development. In Tasmania, for instance, there are at least 1,000,000 acres of first-class forest land available foi- these purposes: out of the 1,853,000 acres of forest reserves in that State. Three hundred thousand acres have been leased to the Australian Paper Mills and 500,000 acres to the Burnie interests. In 1944-45 the Australian Paper Mills made 30,000 tons of newsprint and that company hopes by 1952 to develop its plant so that it will be able to manufacture about 80,000 tons of newsprint annually. The Burnie project is producing at present 30j000 tons of better class paper but even for the production of that paper it is necessary to import £2,000,000 worth of long-fibred pulp. In the north coast of New South Wales, in northern Queensland and New Guinea, the juxtaposition of soft woods or scrub timbers and eucalypts makes’ possible the development not merely of a shortfibred but. also of a long-fibred paper pulp industry. An examination has been made of the scrub timbers of those areas. Some 30 years ago I submitted 17 tons of these timbers to the distinguished scientists Messrs. Baker and1 Smith of the Sydney Technological Museum, both of whom have international reputations. They found that no less than thirteen of the most common scrub timbers, which probably constitute about 60 per cent, of the- total volume- of the timber, had a long microscopic fibre1 length almost identical with the spruce’ and’ hemlock from’ which mechanical pulp is manufactured in Canada, the United States and Sweden, and that the other timbers in the area have also very valuable qualities for- the manufacture of chemical pulp. Both kind’s of timbers were found to have extraordinarily good felting properties’. I desire to put on record the names of some of the timbers to which I refer because I hope that the Minister himself will realize the importance of this matter and ensure that before the distinguished scientist whom I have mentioned leaves the country arrangements will be made to enable him to make a thorough examination of the’ whole subject. The thirteen scrub timbers which are the most promising are: Beech, blackjack, colonial pine, silky oak, butter wood, cherry wood, sassafras, rosewood, mellonwood, maple, coach wood, crow’s foot elm and water- gum. As well as those there are other timbers suitable for the production of either chemical or mechanical paper pulp. It is satisfactory to know that the two scientists whose names- I have just mentioned stated that the fibres of numerous North American timbers used for paper pulp manufacture are similar to Australian timbers. The other timbers which I wish to mention in that respect are : Cork wood, cudgerie, blue fig, kurrajong, iron wood, scrub ash, chinaman’s cedar, white cedar, brown cedar, brown beech, poplar, scrub stringy bark, nettle tree and black apple. The cellulose content of these timbers is also very high and beside them there is a very big stand of eucalypts, especially of flooded gum and blackbutt which stand in an almost solid forest. Those are, in their physical and microscopic characters and paper pulping qualities, almost identical with the big trees in Tasmania from which such good paper has been made. If the development of the Clarence River which [ have been urging for many years and which is now being examined by the Australian Government and the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland were carried into effect, there would be some 300 miles of navigable water into the heart of those timber areas, which would give us exactly similar conditions for the establishment of the paper pulp industry as obtain in Canada and the United States of America. There are two things that the Government can do which would enable Australia to make enormous savings in the huge dollar imports represented by paper. The first is to make certain that the distinguished cullulose expert who has been brought to Australia for a special commercial purpose shall report on these timbers in northern New South Wales and northern Queensland, and the second is to do everything possible to hasten the completion of the experts’ report on the Clarence River scheme and establish the undertaking itself. Such actions would ensure that the timber industry would become, in my opinion, at least the third industry in order of national importance. Its establishment would help materially in our international position at all times, but especially during the next few years when it is expected that the dollar position of the whole of the British Empire will remain acute. The establishment of this industry would enable Australia to secure the essential imports which would make it possible to provide avocations to absorb thousands of migrants. I again emphasize the point that thephysical conditions associated with this industry are such that it must be established on the site of the raw materials and must therefore cause a concentration of population away from the big cities, and will thereby lead to the establishment throughout various parts of Australia of huge new centres of population and of manufacturing enterprises which will energize life, production and culture and lift the standard of living in those areas.
– I am always interested when the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) deals with problems relating to thedevelopment of water schemes in that part of northern New South Wales which he represents. I do not know for how long the right honorable gentleman has been a member of the Australian Parliament, but I do know that he has been a member of it for many years. For a long period, he was Treasurer of theCommonwealth. I do not think that he was successful in that office, and, in fact, I understand that one of his own colleagues dubbed him the “ tragicTreasurer “. It seems curious that the right honorable gentleman, who has had innumerable opportunities-
– I rise to order.. Earlier, the Chair insisted that the honorable member for Reid should confine his remarks to the Estimates of the departments before the committee. I submit that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) has made no pretence of relating his remarks to the Estimates now under consideration, and that, accordingly, his speech is out of order.
– The honorable member may safely leave that matter in the hands of the Chair, which will ensure that the Minister confines his remarks to the proposed votes before the committee.
– The right honorable member for Cowper referred to the development of the Clarence River project. The Division of Industrial Development in my department has made and is still pursuing investigations into that scheme. Because of that, I submit that my remarks are related to the departments now under discussion. During all the time that the right honorable member for Cowper has been a member or .a Minister in the Parliament, he has not taken any steps to develop the water resources of New South Wales.
– On a point of order, I submit that the Minister’s statement is deliberately untrue. I established the Nymboida hydro-electric scheme, which served an area of some 1,500 square miles.
– Order ! That is not a point of order. It is more like a personal explanation.
– The right honorable gentleman is now excusing himself. What he is saying now is that there has been a certain development in the use of the waters of the Clarence River. That may be true, but the right honorable gentleman should have developed the use of those waters to a much greater degree than he did when he had the opportunity to do so.
– I was not able to do so, because the Scullin Government would not allow me to do so.
– -For a long period in New South Wales, up to 1941 if I remember aright, a government of the same political complexion as the right honorable gentleman was in office in New South Wales. Therefore, if the neglect of the Clarence River waters scheme was the fault of the New South Wales Government, it was the fault of a government formed by the political party to which the right honorable gentleman belongs. He talks about the development of these schemes now that he is a back-bencher, but when he had an opportunity to do something about it, he failed to take advantage of it.
The right honorable member for Cowper also said that there is in this country a Scandinavian timber expert.
I am not certain whether the right honorable gentleman is confusing him with a German scientist, who was sent to Australia by the technical mission in Germany, which functions under the Division of Industrial Development.
– I was told that the gentleman concerned was a Scandinavian.
– If there is a Scandinavian timber expert in Australia I know nothing about him. I do know, however, that there is in Australia a German scientist who was brought here under the auspices of the technical mission in Germany, which is sponsored by the Division of Industrial Development in my department. This person is an expert in timber generally and particularly in the use of timber for paper pulp purposes. He is one of a number of German scientists brought here by the Government, i wish to draw attention to the great service rendered to industry generally in this country by this Government in establishing the technical mission in Germany and in obtaining the services of some 50 German scientists. The visits of these German scientists were assisted very materially by my colleague, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), because it is his department which screens these men to ensure that they shall not be of a type we would like to prevent from entering Australia because of their political ideals. The Government is to be congratulated on the steps it has taken to obtain the services of these scientists. The technical mission in Germany was also responsible for obtaining as reparations valuable capital and tooling equipment. A good deal of this equipment has already been brought to Australia. Some of it has been sold by auction to certain companies, and some has been leased under certain conditions. One of the items of equipment obtained through the technical mission in Germany, which is of great importance to Australian industry, is a big press which has been set up in the electorate so ably represented by yourself, Mr. Temporary Chairman, in Newcastle. Arrangements have been made for the press to be available for the purposes of industry generally. The Government has been responsible for bringing to this country not only a German timber expert but also a large number of German scientists with a knowledge of techniques which would not otherwise have been available to Australian industry.
I propose now to deal with the matter raised by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann).
– “Will the Minister examine the representations I have made.
– The right honorable gentleman may rest assured that while the German timber expert remains in Australia he will do everything the Government wishes him to do to assist in the development of our timber resources. If the Government desires him to go to Queensland, northern New South Wales, Tasmania, or anywhere else in Australia, to undertake investigations, it will see that those investigations are undertaken. I may mention at this stage that two of the German scientists brought here are experts in the brown coal industry. They have visited four of the States and have made very valuable reports on the brown coal deposits there. These reports are now under consideration by the various State governments and as a result I believe that valuable developments will take place in the brown coal industry in the States concerned.
I turn now to the question raised by the honorable member for Maranoa. The honorable gentleman, complained about what he termed the slowness of the application of the scheme for the land settlement >of ex-servicemen in Queensland. I have no very detailed figures in relation to .Queensland, but I .shall quote some as I proceed. I have quite a lot of information about the .settlement of ex-servicemen throughout Australia, which I shall be pleased to make available to the committee. At the present time the number of holdings approved by the Commonwealth throughout the whole of Australia is 2,760. Up .to the end of August last, approved holdings that have been allocated by the various States total 1,706. There is a considerable margin between the number of holdings that have been approved by the Commonwealth and the number that have been allocated by the respective States. I do not want that to be regarded as a criticism of the State governments, which are doing a very excellent job in the field of land settlement of ex-servicemen generally, although there has been some criticism of what are alleged to be delays in the land settlement of ex-servicemen generally. My own point of view in the matter is that it is very much better to go slowly and make sure of what is being done rather than to proceed too fast and have all the confusion and chaos that resulted from soldier settlement proposals put forward after the first war. The soldier settlement schemes which were introduced by anti-Labour governments when they were in office in this country after the first world war were a ghastly failure. Even if it takes a little longer to make sure that the exserviceman on this occasion will have a good chance of success, it is well worth while our taking the extra time. To make certain that ex-servicemen will have a reasonably good chance of success on this occasion, the Commonwealth has undertaken schemes of rural training in different States throughout the Commonwealth and the number of ex-servicemen who have .applied for those courses, or who are undergoing rural training under this scheme, is 3,127.
– What is being done to settle ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory ?
– The total cost to the Commonwealth of the land settlement of ex-servicemen, up to the end of August this year, has been £12,281,000. Two forms of assistance to such settlers are provided by the Australian Government. One is the general scheme. The honorable mem.ber for Indi (Mr. McEwen) would not himself like to settle in the Northern Territory, but he may at some time or other inform the committee how he acquired the right of possession of a soldier settlement proposition after the first war.
– There is no secret about that.
– It would also be interesting to hear how he was able to obtain land for the purpose of soldier settlement after the .first world war, and how the honorable member manages to get irrigation channels on his property.
The TEMPORARYCHAIRMAN (Mr. Watkins).- Order! The time allottedforthe consideration of the proposedvotesfor the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of Transport, the Department of Informationand the Department of Post-war Reconstruction has expired.
Question put -
Th at the proposed votes be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. D.O. Watkins.)
Majority . .10
Question so resolved inthe affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Holloway) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr.HUTCHINSON (Deakin) [11.5].- Ipropose to mention a matter which I think isof sufficient importance to warrant a reply on behalf of the Government, even at this late hour. It arises out of a report in the press that certain buildings used as a physics laboratory in the Universityof Melbourne were to-day burnt down. I quote the following from the newspaper report: -
Thelaboratories were used by the C.S.I.R. and theUniversity in carrying out vital defence experiments in nuclear physics. Professor L. H. Martin, Who was in charge of the laboratories,said to-day that irreplaceable equipment valued atmorethan £10,000was destroyed. It was the most devastating fire in the University’s history. Valuablerecords of experiments, including weekly reports radioed from cosmic research stations on Heard and Macquarie Islands, were destroyed. A week ago part ofthe University Zoology School was badly seared by a mystery fire, and early this yearanother physics section was burnt out. Because of the lackof space at theUniversity, the laboratories were housedin three 40-ft. converted army huts which had been joined together. Three separate experiments on nuclear and cosmic physics werenearing completion after two years work. Professor Martin saidit was the mainCommonwealth defence research centre and the only one in Australia undertaking such work. Previous research had been made at the University into cosmic rays, and files of records made over four years were lost. Thefire was first noticed by a student.
This was a most important occurrence, and the circumstances surrounding it might well be alarming. I could ask whether it was an act of sabotage or an accident. If it was an accident, how did it occur, and who was responsible for allowing it to occur? Apparently, the laboratory was housed in some old army huts and, so far as we can find out, no one was on duty to guard the buildings, although this was the main laboratory used for a particular phase of investigation. I understand that it is the duty of the Commonwealth Investigation Service to guard buildings of this kind. Was a security officer on duty at the time? Apparently not. A student saw flames coming from the building, and the fire brigade was called, but, of course, arrived too late, and all the records were destroyed. Is there any reason to wonder that the government of a friendly nation such as the United States of America should hesitate to entrust defence secrets to Australian government authorities, when a laboratory, in which important defence investigations were being conducted, was left unguarded? Any doubts which have been entertained about the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research might well be entertained also about the Government itself, because the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is, after all, merely a government instrumentality and is under government control. At the present time, we are engaged in a cold war with Russia. It is needless to point out that there is in every democratic country a fifth column at work which, as the Premier of Belgium, Mr. Spaak, said, makes Hitler’s fifth columns look like an organization of boy scouts. The Communists’ fifth columns work in two ways. First, they work through the big industrial unions, particularly those which are engaged in heavy industries and transport activities; and secondly, as was demonstrated in Canada and the United States of America, they endeavour to infiltrate into research activities being carried on in the interests of defence. The fire at the Melbourne University occurred this morning, but no reference has been made to it in the Parliament until now. Has the Government instituted an inquiry into the fire? The Chief Fire Officer said that he was certain that there was no sinister significance about the fire, although it is the third which has occurred recently at the Melbourne University. On what ground did he make that statement? Such an accident could occur only because the building was not, so far as we are aware, guarded at the time. There have been too many similar incidents recently. Only a little while ago, a theft occurred from a defence establishment at Mangalore, in my electorate. I have no doubt that that establishment, also, was not sufficiently guarded. A quantity of small arms ammunition was taken, and on another occasion some grenades disappeared from a defence establishment. “What sort of Government is this-
– Yes, a Labour Government, which is betraying the trust of the people. If the laboratory at the University of Melbourne could be burndown because no one was on guard, it was equally possible for the records to have been stolen from the building. Apparently, the work which was being done at the laboratory was part of an Empire research programme, and it’ is possible that the destruction of the records mighdelay the work at other Empire research establishments for years.
– I did see the reporin this evening’s press about the fire in the grounds of the University .of Melbourne. Of course, it was an unfortunate incident in that a valuable building and valuable equipment were destroyed. However, if the honorable member had been listening when I was speaking two nights ago, he would have heard me say that the experiments being conducted at this laboratory had no connexion whatever with defence. This is merely another example of how the press endeavours to create the impression that all scientific research in Australia is connected with defence. 1 do not know what Professor Martin if alleged to have said; but I do know that those experiment’s were undertaken at the University of Melbourne, because they are of no defence significance al all. I have said that defence scientific research is a matter for the Defence Department; and there were sufficient defence projects being undertaken in this country. The set of experiments at the University of Melbourne was not one of the projects sponsored by the Defence Department. Those experiments were part of a series of experiments undertaken in fundamental research into nuclear energy generally with the objecof training sufficient men to develop an atomic or nuclear energy stock-pile in this country should we at any time require it. They were not a defence project at all. As I explained earlier, it is customary for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to sponsor experiments which are carried out at universities and at other institutions throughout the Commonwealth, and this was one of a series of such experiments. The team at the University of Melbourne was headed by Professor Martin, who is an officer of that university and not an officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and he is not bound to the Australian Government in any way whatever. However, the Government believed that it should finance those experiments for the purpose I have indicated. I am not aware whether the buildings were guarded. If that was necessary, that was the responsibility of the university authorities. There was no necessity to place any guard on the buildings from a security point of view.What is involved in these experiments is well known to physicists throughout the world. They involve nothing that is secret. Therefore, there was no necessity to make any security arrangements at the buildings or in connexion with the experiments. Furthermore, in relation to the experiments undertaken no information of a secret nature was sought, or received, from the United States of America or from any other country. When I say that the responsibility for guarding the buildings was the responsibility of the university authorities, I am not in any way criticizing those authorities. No doubt, they took what they deemed to be reasonable precautions against fire hazard. But in spite of all precautions, unfortunately, fires do sometimes break out. This fire was most unfortunate. Probably it will be difficult to resume the experiments and to replace the plant, equipment and records that have been lost. The experiments, I repeat, have no significance whatever from a defence, or security, point of view.
Motion (by Mr. Scully) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.24 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Status of Women.
Unrra : Distribution of Supplies; Fishing Boats.
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, . upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The Australian Hide and Leather Industries ‘Board administers a marketing scheme for hides and -leather which -involves a form of equalization, ..while a voluntary -equalization arrangement .is operated by the tallow trade in respect of tallow. No moneys .arc .held by the Government or paid into government revenue in respect of -these schemes. The Side and Leather .Boards funds at present show a net credit oS approximately £71,000. 1 am informed that the amount standing to the credit of No. 4 Tallow Pool is approximately £696,000.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 October 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19481006_reps_18_198/>.