18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
South Australian Supplies
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel raise with his colleague the matter of coal supplies that have been forwarded to South Australia during the last three mouths and say whether any deficiencies in that State’s percentage of supplies that was agreed upon can be made up? Will he also raise with the Minister the question of having sufficient shipping made available so that - the due percentage of supplies can be shipped to South Australia before the end- “of the year?
– I shall certainly take that matter up with the Minister. The honorable member will no doubt realize that because of the coal strike it may not be possible to make up to South Australia any deficiency in coal supplies to which it was entitled under the agreement to which he refers, but if it is passible to do so I am sure that my colleague will see that shipping is made available insofar as is within his powers to do so. I. should imagine that some of the coal sent to South Australia would be transported by shipping that is not under the Minister’s control and some of it by rail, and that circumstance would have to be taken into account in reaching the final decision on the matter. I shall discuss the question with the Minister and I am sure that he will do everything possible to ensure that South Australia receives its fair supplies of coal.
– Oan the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether it is correct t.hat the remains of an aircraft were discovered in the hills near Brindabella yesterday by a party of trainees from the
Royal Military College, Duntroon? Can tha Minister tell the House what aircraft it is, and will he make available any information he may have concerning the . discovery ?
– It is correct that an aircraft has been discovered in the hills about 40 miles from Canberra. [ am informed that the discovery of the aircraft was made yesterday by a party of cadets led, I understand, by Captain Sharp, of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, but full particulars are not yet available. It is understood that the aircraft is the one that was missing about August of last year and from all the information available so far there is every reason to believe that it is that aircraft. I understand its identification is VH-ABY, and that it probably is a small De Haviland aircraft. Various particulars have been obtained but have not yet been checked. I am reluctant to malco an announcement until the relatives of the people who are believed to have been in the aircraft have been informed. A member of the Air Accidents Committee of Investigation of the Civil Aviation Department is in Canberra as the result of the report, which was received at a very late hour last night, and he is expected to proceed to the scene of the crash probably before lunch to-day. At a later stage I may have sufficient information to make a statement hut I think the ‘honorable gentleman will agree that df the facts are as I have stated sufficient particulars have been already supplied to constitute an answer to his question.
– Could the. aircraft be a Percival Gull that was lost in August of last year?
– -Yes, I think it could .be, but I repeat that full particulars are not yet available. It is a very sorrowful satisfaction to know that this discovery was made at last in bushy country that is very seldom traversed b3 ordinary people. It seems likely that full identification will take place and, even now, it may be possible to discover the cause of the accident. I understand that, in the aircraft, there are two bodies which have not yet been touched.
Mb. P. C. SPENDER, M.P.
– Have you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, seen the report in the Canberra Times entitled “Mr Spender Gagged ‘ in House “ ? The report stated, inter aiia -
Informed that he had been discourteous to the Choir, Mr. Spender was “gagged” by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (Mr. Clark) last night from making any further observations on a hill to grant £10,000,000 to the United Kingdom.
Do you not consider, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the reference by the newspaper to the gagging of the honorable member for Warringah is a reflection on the decision of the Chair? Is it not a fact that, last night, the Deputy Chairman of Committees ordered me to resume my seat - a good decision, I should add - on the ground that my remarks were not relevant to the clause under consideration, but no newspaper reported that I had “been gagged ? Is not the selection of a member of the Opposition for such publicity an example of one-eyed and partisan reporting’, and of disrespect to the Chair. providing further proof that the press is one of the main forces to-day which Is breaking down respect for the parliamentary institution?
-The report in the Canberra Times, to which the honorable member has referred, is not correct. I made certain suggestions to the honorable member for Warringah last night in relation to his speech, and later ordered him to resume his seat, not because of what he was saying in the debate(. but because of his reflections on the Chair. In reply to the further question by the honorable member for Wilmot, I have to state that the Chair has no knowledge of what occurs in committee.
– I desire to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented ?
– Yes, sir, I claim that you have misrepresented me.
– In what way?
– You said that you had ordered me to resume my seat because 1 had made a reflection on the Chair.
– Order I The Chair is the judge in such a matter.
– I did not make a reflection on the Chair.
– I considered that the honorable member’s attitude was discourteous to the Chair, and for that reason, I ordered his to resume his seat. There is no point of order involved.
– 1 rise to order.
– Does the Acting Leader of the Opposition desire to refer to the same matter?
Mr.- Harrison. - I desire to raise a question of procedure.
– There is no point of order involved.
– The matter which [ desire to raise relates to the subject upon which you, sir, have given a ruling. I should like to ask you to obtain the Hansard report of the incident which occurred last night, so that you may inform your mind whether, in the heat of the discussion, you misinterpreted the words of the honorable member for Warringah. If, after perusing the Hansard report, you find that you misinterpreted the honorable member’s remarks, will you make the necessary amends?
– Order ! T think that I shall make the same reply to the Acting Leader of the Opposition as I made to the honorable member foi Warringah. I dealt with the honorable member because of his insolent attitude towards the Chair and for no other reason.
– I address a question to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, touching upon precedent. When a minister who is moving the second reading of a bill deals with certain subjects and makes different points thereon is it competent for an honorable member in replying to him to refer to those subjects and points? In view of the fact that the Prime Minister, when moving the second reading of the United Kingdom Grant Bill incorporated in his remarks certain portions of his budget speech in which he made the points, first that the grant would assist Great Britain to restore its own trade and would assist the - world’s economic problem and, secondly - to use the right honorable gentleman’s own. words - “ in essentials the problem is one of production” - what standing order did I infringe when I attempted to refer to production in this country?
– It is not the practice of the Chair to indicate its mind upon hypothetical questions. The Chair gives its ruling at the time a particular point arises in the course of debate. I considered that the matter which the honorable member was proceeding to discuss was irrelevant to the question before the Chair. However, it was not for that reason that I ordered the honorable member to resume his seat.
– You stopped me.
– The honorable member said that he intended to deal with production in Australia, but after I had warned him that he would be entitled to refer only in passing to that subject, he was insolent to the Chair and it was for that reason that I ordered him to resume his seat.
– Has the Minister for Immigration seen a statement by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited to the effect that, for a long time, it has been applying to obtain migrants as employees in the production of refined sugar? In view of the acute shortage of sugar, particularly refined sugar, and the need for increased production to meet requirements for the forthcoming fruit season, will the Minister give urgent consideration to the employment of adequate numbers of refugee migrants in the sugar industry to overcome the shortage?
– I have not seen any recent statement by anybody associated with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited dealing with the use of migrant labour in the refineries of that company. I am most sympathetic to any request” that migrant labour should be made available to the company so that greater quantities of sugar can be refined in Sydney and Melbourne and, perhaps, at other centres in order to enable housewives of Australia to obtain the supplies of sugar they require in the fruit season and also to permit canneries to obtain all the sugar that they require. I gave the undertaking to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited in Melbourne last July that I would allot 50 migrants to its refinery at Yarraville in Victoria provided accommodation could be found for them. However, I met with difficulties in all directions, particularly from the Municipality of Footscray, which adopted a most unreasonable and irrational attitude, on the matter. After numerous discussions it was eventually decided to accommodate the migrants at a site which the Minister for Air made available at Fishermen’s Bend for the erection of hostels. We have not been able to secure all the huts that we require for the accommodation of these migrants. We are moving as fast as we can, and as soon as it is humanly possible to do so we should have 500 Baltic workers housed at Fishermen’s Bend and at least 50 of those migrants will be allotted to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited refinery at Yarraville. At Meadowbank arid other places in Sydney we are trying to hasten the provision of hostels so that migrant labour can be made available for not only sugar refineries but also other undertakings, such as brick and tile works. Any delay that has occurred has been beyond our capacity to remedy, but we are doing everything possible in the matter and I hope that even yet it will be possible to build up a surplus stock of 15,000 tons of sugar in Melbourne to take us over the next season, and to build up large stocks of sugar also in other centres to meet the requirement of Australian citizens.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to a report which was submitted to the Government of Queensland by the Director of the Bureau of Sugar Experiment Stations, Mr. King, in the course of which it was stated that the estimated yield of sugar during the current year is 5,600,000 tons, and that it is anticipated that 250,000 tons will remain in store at the end of the year, which will be the largest carry-over in the history of the industry. He also stated -
The sugar storage and shipping position is occasioning grave concern to the industry, and it is feared that crushing operations may be hampered at some mills if sufficient ships are not made available regularly to clear accumulated stocks.
Because of insufficient shipping there is a risk that crushing operations may have to be suspended, and that would result in considerable unemployment, hardship and chaos in the sugar-growing areas. Will the Minister, therefore, do everything possible to provide additional shipping to move sugar from north Queensland ports?
– I shall draw the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to the matter. Of course, it. must be realized that all shipping is not under the control of the Minister-
– It is a pity that the Government cannot have the available ships loaded.
– The interjection of the honorable member for Henty is not. helpful because the loading facilities at some ports are not as good as they might be. In tiny event, I am dealing not with the rate of loading of vessels but with the availability of shipping. 1 know that the Minister will do his utmost to make sufficient shipping available to lift sugar from the Queensland ports.
– The Sydney Morning Herald yesterday reported that Mr. W. A. Chaffey, member for Tamworth, stated in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales on Wednesday that last week he had seen eight new cars for second-hand . disposal in a firm’s premises in Sydney and that he had asked the Minister for Transport, Mr. O’Sullivan, to ascertain who were the original purchasers of the cars and how they came to be displayed on the floor of the disposal firm. Mr. O’Sullivan in his reply said that the State Government had no control over the sale of motor vehicles and that he thought that control should be lifted entirely. In the absence of the Minister for Transport, I ask the Prime Minister whether there is any control over the re-sale of new motor ears, seeing that they have to be bought originally on a priority and that, if they are immediately re-sold on an uncontrolled market, any body may buy them. Is it possible to adopt the view expressed by Mr. O’sullivan that control should be lifted entirely. If not, what are the reasons for not adopting his view?
– I have not seen the report of the matter that the honorable gentleman claims was discussed in the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales on Wednesday, but I shall have inquiries made about it and tell him the result, r can say, however, that control is exercised over the re-sale of new cars.
– The regulations seem to lie ignored.
– I am referring to cars, the sale of which is controlled. New cars of up to 12 horse-power may be bought and sold without restriction. The sale and purchase of new cars of a horsepower in excess of that limit are controlled. Before such cars may be placed on the second-hand market they must have passed through a specified period of possession and a specified degree of use in the hands of the original purchaser. The Minister for Transport has intimated that from the end of the year there will be no control over the sale and purchase of new cars from easy currency countries. Control of the sale and purchase of new cars from hard currency countries will be retained for a longer period. A simple reason exists for that situation. Many men engaged in essential work, such as medical men and primary producers, are anxious for American cars, especially for use in country districts, because of their clearance and other qualities needed for easier travel over rough roads. American cars, I know myself, are the most suitable for certain classes of country and certain kinds of work. It is necessary to restrict the disposal of such cars to essential users. So the Minister for Transport has decided, with the approval of the Government, to retain control over the disposal of such cars; but it is hoped that within a reasonable time such control will be also lifted. The matter is under constant review.
– Concerning the refusal of the Government of Western Australia to accept the offer of the Australian Government to meet the capital cost, estimated at £125,000, of construction of a medical school in the University of Western Australia, can the Treasurer state whether the annual expenditure .by that university on the faculty of medicine was mentioned in the negotiations which took place between the Australian Government and the State Government, and, if so, with what result?
– Both the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and the Minister for Health were anxious to provide assistance for the establishment of a medical school in the University of Western Australia, and when Mr. Wise was Premier of that State he suggested that the Commonwealth should defray the capital cost of establishing a school of medicine and should also contribute towards its maintenance. In the first, place the Government offered to make a grant of £75,000 towards the capital cost, but in view of the increased costs of building the matter was reconsidered and it was decided to increase the proposed grant to £125,000, but the Australian Government rejected the proposal that it should make a contribution towards the maintenance expenditure of the proposed school, and no discussions have since taken place between the respective governments. The reason why discussions were discontinued was that it was quite apparent that in the years ahead, when the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme finishes, the Universities will have to review their whole financial position. The universities have been receiving substantial financial assistance from the Government, through the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, but when that scheme finishes the position generally will have to be re-examined by the State governments and other “ interests involved. The only condition attaching to the Government’s offer of £125,000 for capital expenditure was that the Minister for Health should have the right to nominate one person to the council which controls that section of the university. The representations that were made by Mr. “Wise were rejected in favour of the making of a grant towards capital expenditure, with the intention of reviewing the other aspect of the matter at a later date.
– Will the Minister for the Army indicate whether he is prepared to lay on the table of the House all papers and statutory declarations concerning an ex-serviceman named Frank Loyal Weaver, who has been giving trouble to the Army authorities by travelling to Japan on allegedly forged documents?
– I shall examine the papers, and then consider whether I shall table them.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether he ha9 been advised that the Australian High Commissioner in London, Mr. Beasley, proposes to accompany Their Majesties the King and Queen on their visit to Australia, and to travel on Vanguard, as suggested in a cable from London? If so, how long -will Mr. Beasley be absent from hi9 post? In view of the delicate state of international affairs, what arrangement does the Government propose to make to maintain its contact with the British Government at the highest level during such absence? Will the Government consider the advisability of sending a Cabinet Minister to London to represent the Commonwealth during that period?
– Before any announcement was made in connexion with the intended visit to Australia of Their Majesties, I had discussed with my colleagues the subject of Australian representatives abroad being brought back periodically, so .that they may get fresh first-hand knowledge of the local atmosphere, and keep in touch with the Government. It is true that consideration has been given to allowing our representatives abroad, particularly Mr. Beasley, who is very closely associated with certain United Kingdom negotiations to come back to Australia. No doubt it was intimated to Mr. Beasley that consideration would be given to allowing him to come back to Australia early next year. During my personal conversation with Mr. Beasley when I was in London, I said that the Government would give consideration to the matter of bringing him back to Australia some time during the early part of next year for discussions and close contact with Ministers. I have not heard anything about the suggestion that he may travel on Vanguard.
– At the conclusion of hi* lecture at the Albert Hall in Canberra, the famous town-planner, Sir Patrick Abercrombie, is reported to have said that all was not well with the Canberra plan. He said that it was not healthy that the administrative centre should be divorced from industry. I point out that parents in Canberra are very disturbed because when their children reach the age of seventeen or eighteen years, they invariably lose them to the great cities of Sydney and Melbourne and elsewhere. The reason for that is that there is no avenue of employment for the children in Canberra other than the Public Service. In addition, the people of Canberra are ill-supplied with shopping centres. In these circumstances, will the Minister for the Interior immediately call in an outside planner, such as the State planner of Western Australia, Mr. Davidson, to design and advise on (a) the establishment of a complete civic centre at Kingston, near the railway station, and the proper siteing of the saw-milling industry, which is being established haphazardly; (6) the establishment of other industries in Canberra, so that avenues of employment apart from the Public Service will he available to youths; and (c) the provision of proper shopping centres in existing suburbs, and the building of additional shopping centres before any new suburbs are opened up, so that the shopping monopoly at Civic Centre and Kingston will be broken up immediately, and so that the people of Canberra will not have to travel long distances to do their shopping?
– While the honorable member was asking his question I felt inclined at one stage to move that he be granted an extension of time. The question is a very complicated one, and difficult to follow. With regard to the recent visit of Sir Patrick Abercrombie, I explained last night that at a dinner -
Mr. Blain interjecting,
– As the honorable member for the Northern Territory apparently does not wish to listen to the reply to his question, the Minister may ignore it.
-I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether ais officers can take action to settle the mining dispute at Captain’s Flat, which has reached a very serious stage? I ask your permission, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to make a brief explanation. For some time the trade unions and the management of the mine at Captain’s Flat have been in dispute, the trade unions claiming an appropriate lead bonus and the mine management offering to institute a profit sharing scheme. Following the dismissal of 30 miners, a stoppage of work occurred. At a conference that was presided over by Mr. Justice Cantor, it was suggested that the men should return to work and that the judge should then proceed to determine their claim. The trade union leaders accepted-
-What is the honorable gentleman’s question?
– This is an extremely important matter, and some explanation of it is necessary. I shall ask my question as soon as possible. The trade union leaders agreed to a return to work and informed Mr. Justice Cantor that they would recommend that course to the men. Before they -could return to Captain’s Flat-
– Order I The honorable gentleman must ask his question. He is not entitled to give information of this kind.
– It is information that is necessary to the answering of the ques tion. Before the trade union leaders returned to Captain’s Flat, the company issued notices of dismissal-
– Order 1 The honorable gentleman must ask his question without further explanation. If he does not do so, I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– The question that .1 wish to ask is whether the Minister will investigate the developments that I am informed have taken place at Captain’s Flat to-day, following a further conference and an arrangement that the notices of dismissal should be withdrawn. Will the Minister investigate the truth of the statement .made to me this morning by trade union representatives from Captain’s Flat, that, instead of withdrawing the notices of dismissal, the company has called for fresh applications for all positions in the mine? If the officers of the Department of Labour and National Service can take action to promote a settlement of this dispute, a very valuable service will be rendered to the community. Is the Minister aware that the products of this mine, including lead, are of extreme importance in earning dollars for Australia and that, therefore, a settlement of the dispute is urgently necessary ?
– I shall answer the question. I am aware of the details of the dispute at Captain’s Flat, but it has not yet been possible to obtain full information regarding the developments that have occurred there within the last 24 hours. The company claims that the mine at Captain’s Flat is not sufficiently profitable to enable it to adopt the same procedure in regard to a lead bonus as is adopted at Broken Hill. The same thing may be said of other mines such as those at Mount Isa and elsewhere, where the managements also claim that production is not sufficiently profitable to enable them to pay lead bonuses on the scale of those paid to workers at Broken Hill. As the honorable member lias said, the management at Captain’s Flat offered the workers some sort of profit sharing scheme, which the men finally rejected. I have not been able to get a clear picture of developments in the last 24 hours, but arrangements are being made to obtain the latest information about the dispute and I promise the honorable member that the matter will be investigated to-day.
– -Reports published in Melbourne yesterday state that the Commonwealth publication, Australian Pocket, Book, printed in 1945, which is being made available to intending immigrants, contains misleading information regarding Australian living costs, which have increased enormously since the date-, of publication. Will the Minister for Immigration have the booklet examined with a view to bringing it up to date?
– I understand thatsome reference is made to this matter in to-day’s issue of the Melbourne Argus. The book is out of date, and we have frozen the few copies remaining in our offices around the world. The book was published in 1946. Its figures were supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician in 1945. A new issue of the publication is being undertaken at present. Frankly, I do not know whether we ought to publish any statement about living costs in Australia. Since the defeat of the Government’s proposals at the prices referendum, living costs have risen so catastrophic-ally everywhere in Australia that I should need to have a new issue of the publication prepared almost every week in order to keep it up to date.
– Controls have been lifted only since September.
– Since September the cost of living has risen considerably in relation to some items, and it is not possible, therefore, to give a statement of living costs that one could say with certainty would be much the same two or three months hence. The price of whiting, for instance, rose from ls. 6d. per lb. to 5s. 6d. per lb. immediately after the Commonwealth lost control. It is obvious that, in our Commonwealth publications, we must just forget about prices and hope that at some time, somehow the people of Australia will be able to sort out the position which arose when the States secured control.
Status of Women Commission
– Will the Prime Minister seek nominations, from representative women’s organizations at an early date so that a woman may be appointed to act as Australian observer at the next session of the Status of Women Commission, to be held, in Lebanon early in 194’9, and so that such observer may report not only to this Government but also to the Australian National Committee for United Nations?
– Proposals for the appointment of a representative of all women’s organizations have been placed before me by several deputations. One deputation, which was introduced, by the honorable member for Perth, represented all the women’s organizations of Western Australia and urged that, if the Government would consider the appointment of women to various bodies such as the ow mentioned by the honorable member for Bourke, they would agree to form an Australian council so that a definitenomination could bc submitted on behalf of all women’s organizations in Australia. I do not think that it has been possible to do that, although I understand that some steps have been taken with the object of co-ordinating the activities of all women’s organizations to secure the submission of a panel of names, from which a woman could be appointed to represent Australia abroad at various conferences. I shall examine the matter in the light of the representations made by the honorable member and ascertain whether it is possible to get all women’s organizations, irrespective of their political colour, to submit a joint panel of names rather than allow to continue the conflict that has taken place in years gone by over the appointment of women to represent Australia at these conferences. As the honorable member knows, when ladies quarrel among themselves it is time for gentlemen to retire. Very often I have been reluctant to support requests for the appointment of women delegates to overseas conferences because of the fear that I would bring down on my head the wrath of other women’s organizations whose representatives were not selected. It is said that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Debate resumed from the 11th November (vide page 2924), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Mr. THOMPSON (Hindmarsh; [11.12]. - All honorable members are, I am sure, very gratified by the proposal contained in this bill. Although the leaders of the Opposition parties expressed their appreciation of the proposal they devoted most of their time to a discussion of the economic position of Great Britain which has resulted from the sacrifices made by that country during the war. I do not intend to discuss that matter as fully as honorable members opposite have done. The people of Australia are fully aware of the fact that this country is in a favorable position to-day solely because of the sacrifices made by the people of Great Britain during the war. If, in the early days of the war, Great Britain had negotiated a peace with Hitler, Australia would not be in the favorable position which it now enjoys. During the twelve months following Dunkirk, the people of Great Britain were thrown on their own resources. They were forced to wage the fight against Hitler and the hordes of German troops practically without assistance. Because of the heavy drain then imposed on its man-power and resources Great Britain is now in a very difficult economic position. We are fortunate to be able to assist the Mother Country. As the result of good prices for our export products we have established vast reserves of Australian funds in London. It may he said that the proposed gift of £10,000,000 to the British Government will not greatly assist the British people as it will only reduce our trade balances in London. I do not subscribe to that view. In the final analysis this gift will be provided by the taxpayers of Australia. Our substantial favorable trade balance with Great Britain has only been made possible because the Commonwealth Bank has made funds available to primary producers to send their goods overseas and to the extent that those, funds have been made available, a debit has been created in our internal finances. I do not agree with those who claim that this gift of £10,000,000 to the United Kingdom is merely a. paper transaction. It is much more than that. We must remember also that the advantages of this gift will noi accrue entirely to Great’ Britain. We, in this country, are substantially dependent “ upon the prosperity of the Mother Country. Huge loans have been made to Great Britain by the United States of America to enable the British people to continue their endeavour to find a solution of their economic difficulties. When those sums have been expended, of course, not only will the purchasing power of the United Kingdom be depleted, but also provision will have to be made for the repayment of the loans out of current income. I believe, therefore, that we should be prepared to assist in the rehabilitation of the British economy to the best of our ability. Our contribution should not be limited to £10,000,000. 1. should be prepared to support any move by the Government to give much greater financial assistance, in view of what the United Kingdom has done for this country in the past. As 1 have said, we must remember that we, too, will benefit from an improvement of the economic position of the United Kingdom. No doubt many Australian primary producers believe that they should be permitted to take advantage of the high prices ruling on the world’s markets rather than be obliged to accept the lower returns that they receive under contracts with the United Kingdom. Others may believe that Australia’s exports could be better used to gain dollar credits so that we could import from, the United States of America essential equipment such as machinery. But we must remember that we are a British race, and that we have achieved the degree of economic prosperity that we enjoy today because of the British markets that have been available to us in the past for our primary products. By making this gift wo shall help Great Britain and also Australia. Let us make it plain that the Parliament supports the Government’s proposal to give £10,000,000 to Great Britain, and let the gift be made without fuss, and without reference to any sacrifice that may be involved. Let us help Great Britain as we would help members pf our own families, without counting the cost, and because we believe we should do it. What we propose to do now is only a small recognition of all that Great Britain has done for us in the past.
– I welcome the proposal to give £10,000,000 to Great Britain. I have two regrets - that the amount is too small, and that we have delayed so long in giving it. Last year, I urged in this Parliament that we should give to Britain £25,000,000 in money and a further £25,000,000 worth of food. Everything that has happened since has indicated that we could well have afforded to do so, and that it would have been to our advantage to do it. Although some persons take great pride in this gift, and adopt the attitude that we are conferring a benefit, I believe that what we are doing is merely an act of selfpreservation. If we let Britain go “ down the drain if we fail to do everything possible to ensure its quick recovery, the immediate economic future of Australia will be dark, and our ability to defend ourselves against aggression will be jeopardized. Britain has been Australia’s best market for butter, eggs, pork, beef, mutton, lamb, dried fruits and canned fruits, and has given Australia the benefit of substantial preferences. Therefore, Australia is more interested than any other country, with the possible exception of New Zealand, in Britain’s quick recovery. In making this gift, we are casting our bread upon the waters, and it will in due time return to us. When I was in South Africa last year, the South African Parliament discussed a proposal to lend £80,000,000 in gold to Great Britain at the nominal rate of interest of 1 per cent. The measure was introduced by General Smuts, and Dr. Malan, the present Prime Minister, who was dien Leader of the Opposition, warmly supported the proposal, although he holds isolationist opinions. He said that anything they did for Great Britain, they would get back five times over. He pointed out that Great Britain was also the sole buyer of much of South Africa’s products, and therefore it was absolutely essential to keep Britain on its feet. He said it was also important to recognize that Britain should not be considered merely as a market but as a guide and counsellor of the great nations of the world on the road to peace. I believe that we ought to consider whether this amount of £10,000,000 is adequate to help Britain at the present time, and whether we should not give more. In 1947-48 Australia increased its foreign trade by £100,000,000 a year above the 1946-47 level. That figure excludes the value of gold exports. It is therefore quite obvious that if we liked we could do much more than is proposed in the bill. The trade figure that I hare mentioned includes an increase of between £50,000,000 and £60,000,000 in the value in our sales to Britain. For instance, sales’ of wheat to’ Britain rose from £5.500,000 to £26,000,000 in value.
– The right honorable gentleman must confine his remarks to the bill before the House.
– If I may, I shall quote from a statement made by the Prime Minister on the reason for this bill in which he quoted a statement made by Mr. Attlee, the British Prime Minister. I take it, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I shall be permitted to read the statement.
– The right honorable gentleman may not read from any publication but he may make quotations.
– I am merely quoting Mr. Attlee’s speech in the British Parliament. The Prime Minis-. l:er (Mr. Chifley) said - in considering the position of those reserves, we must bear in mind that, as announced in my budget speech of September, 1947, Mr. Attlee, the British Prime Minister, has informed us that we can help most with the United Kingdom sterling balances problem if we take it as a broad objective to live within our external income. If, in order to do this, it should become necessary to take action to restrict imports from all sources, the United Kingdom Government would prefer that we impose such restrictions rather than call on the London funds which we had accumulated np to the 30th June, 1947.
The Australian Government decided to increase Australia’s London funds by increasing the total amount of exports. That, has been done.
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman has a very limited scope in that direction.
– This gift is being made to Great Britain, as the Prime Minister pointed out, because Britain’s dollar resources are perilously low even though Britain is. receiving American aid. That position is accentuated because of the assistance that Britain must give to the devastated countries of Europe. The Prime Minister said -
I referred to the trade and payments difficulties which have hampered European economic recovery. The most obvious of these difficulties has been the dollar shortage.
War devastated Europe has required vast quantities of goods of all kinds from the limited States and other dollar countries for economic reconstruction. It has been quite beyond the capacity of the European countries to meet, from their own dollar earnings, the dollar cost of this vast flow of supplies, and, since the war ended, the United States has given aid to Europe on a generous scale.
Then he proceeded to point out that the United Kingdom had made a very substantial contribution to European recovery even from the sums that it received under the Marshall aid plan. Australia can assist very materially in Britain’s recovery by giving more than the £10,000,000 proposed in the measure. It is quite obvious that Australia can afford to give more because most of the goods that we sell to Britain have increased in value. Since the end of the year the value of our primary products exported to Britain have shown a considerable increase although we have exported only about the same amount as before. The essential, reason for helping Britain is to assist that country to” overcome the very difficult problem it is facing. Britain is attempting to balance its trade, especially with countries requiring dollars in payment for goods exported to Britain, and in order to enable it to do that it has to concentrate on exporting goods. If Australia can also increase its export of goods’ to dollar countries it will, by adding to the dollar pool, make a very substantial contribution to Britain’s recovery. There are two reasons why we should give help to Britain. The first is that we should help to improve, the position of the workers in
Britain who make the motor cars, tractors, cigarettes and. other goods that Britain is exporting so as to earn foreign exchange. I do not understand why Britain is exporting cigarettes, but we should seek to help its people in their terrific fight against very great odds. The second reason is that we should help in the general dollar position by purchasing all the machinery we require for our farms from Britain. That machinery will enable us to increase our primary production and earn more dollars for the dollar pool. Professor Copland has pointed out that the position in Britain that we are now trying to alleviate is not a short-term problem. Britain’s debts to other sterling countries amount to about £4,000,000,000. Those debts are frozen at the present time and the British Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps, is trying to increase Britain’s export trade by £300,000,000 or £400,000,000 a year. At the same time he is trying to increase imports of raw materials so as to keep Britain’s manufacturing industries fully occupied and earning dollars. It seems to me that as well as providing money one of the things we should be doing to help Britain is, as I have said, to increase our imports of British tractors, motor cars and other machinery in the manufacture of which Britain is a pastmaster and is still the world’s greatest exponent. As a result of the increased primary production made possible by those machines we shall be able not only to supply Britain with products that it now buys from dollar countries, but also to sell more to dollar countries ourselves and so earn dollars for the pool. Argentina and the United States of America are two of Great Britain’s greatest suppliers. We should increase our production by using British machines, such as new tractors. The British market for our primary produce is virtually unlimited. An increase of exports by Australia to Great Britain means a corresponding decrease of imports by that country from the dollar areas. That trade will be to our mutual advantage.
We made a gift to Great Britain last year of £25,000,000, and this year we propose to make a gift of £10,000,000. That gift should not be the limit to our assistance. We should sell our products to Great Britain at a lower price than we sell them to other countries. We are already rendering aid in that respect. For instance, Great Britain pays for Australian and New Zealand butter approximately ls. a pound less than it pays for Danish butter. If we can increase our exports of butter to the United Kingdom, we shall, to that degree, relieve its position much more than we can by a monetary gift. Great Britain’s economic problem is not a short term one, but will endure for many years. Although hostilities ceased more than three years ago, the food ration in the United Kingdom is, in some respects, more severe than it was during the worst period of the war. By increasing our exports of food, we shall enable the British to increase their rations. An adequate diet will make it possible for British workers to increase their output, and, in that way, the United Kingdom will be able to reduce the volume of imports.
Another way in which we can assist the United Kingdom is to cease importing non-essential goods from that country. At present, Britain must export to us many non-essential goods in order to pay for the food which it purchases from us. Instead of importing cigarettes from Great Britain, which are made out of Virginian leaf, we could obtain our smokers’ requirements from other sources and increase our purchases of Ferguson tractors and motor cars from the United Kingdom. Agricultural implements and other machinery are of greater importance than many of the goods we now buy from Britain. When I was abroad last year, Englishmen informed me that one of the causes of staleness among the people was their inability to purchase various amenities. Although the British people have purchasing power, they are unable to buy their requirements of such items as cigarettes and tobacco. By obtaining our smokers’ requirements from other sources, we shall assist the people of the United Kingdom considerably. The suggestions which I have made will, if adopted, have a more practical and beneficial result than will the gift of £10,000,0.00. Great Britain must extricate itself from its present economic difficulties by increasing its exports to many countries, particularly the dollar areas. Australia should import large numbers of British motor cars and tractors, but our people are being discouraged from doing so by the severity of petrol rationing. For a year, the sales of British motor cars in Australia rose rapidly, but I understand that a recession has set in since the reduction of the petrol ration. The Ferguson, tractor is one of the best machines in the world. The only drawback is that its first-class engine operates on petrol.
– Order ! The right honorable member’s remarks are not relevant to the bill.
– I am merely making points to show how we can assist Great Britain.
– Order ! The honorable member has already made too many points which he is not entitled to make.
– Australia also requires asistance to enable it to help the United Kingdom, and, in my opinion, should raise a dollar loan either in the United .States of America or Canada. Australia owes a great deal of its present prosperity to the high prices which Great Britain is paying for our primary commodities, and we can well afford to increase our gift to £25,000,000. I repeat the statement by the Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa, Dr. Malan, who when referring to a similar project said, in effect, “The £80,000,000 which South Africa borrows will yield a return of four or five times that amount because it will so increase the absorptive and productive capacities of South Africa that the Union will be able to give more substantial aid to Great Britain “.
– This bill, which has the unanimous support of the people of Australia expresses our admiration for the people of the United Kingdom who will be fortified in their present economic struggle by the knowledge that there are other people in distant parts of the world who are concerned with their plight and are determined to assist them. It is axiomatic that the characteristics of a Government within its domestic sphere are exhibited in its international relations. That Great Britain deserves assistance, there can be no question. The part which it has played in defending and preserving democracy is so well known that I need not describe it, even briefly, at this juncture. In a modest way we are expressing, by this gift of £10,000,000 our appreciation of the British people and admiration for all they have done, in war and peace, to preserve democracy.
The bill, by making a gift to Great Britain, will contribute to the recovery of Europe. “Whereas, normally, the British Government would sell goods to the value of £10,000,000 in other parts of the world, it will now divert those goods to the war devastated areas of Europe, which so urgently require rehabilitation, and assist to relieve the sufferings of millions of people. The Western democracies have fought to preserve the four freedoms, and the people of the countries which were overrun by the Nazis will gain strength for their efforts to rehabilitate themselves by the knowledge that they are receiving assistance from people in other parts of the world. This bill will indirectly make a contribution to the Marshall aid plan, the purpose of which is to aid the recovery oF the European economy. We should be proud to be contributing to that assistance. It is indeed regrettable that certain nations, particularly Russia have on i lie contrary, sabotaged the Marshall plan. Russia claims to be international in spirit, but to-day, it is exhibiting the worst traits of nationalism. The recovery of Europe has been hindered by its inability, or unwillingness, ‘ to cooperate with the other nations in that work. It is withholding support from the devastated countries of Europe, and lacks the spirit of co-operation which is necessary to enable them to restore their economies. Some of those countries were its allies in the darkest days of the recent war.. The extreme nationalistic attitude of Russia to-day is beyond the comprehension of those peoples who are able to shed the narrow traits of nationalism. Assistance of the kind proposed under this measure gives to those peoples some help and courage to face the future. The British people, who bore the brunt of the recent world war, will be fortified by the knowledge that other countries are anxious that they should enjoy peace to the full, and that other peoples in distant parts are not unmindful of their present plight. We are endeavouring to succour them to the best of our ability.
A’t times, the part which Australia is now playing in the international sphere is not appreciated to the degree it should be even by some Australians who, unfortunately, are prone to belittle our efforts in that respect. This country can be justly proud of its record in the international sphere in the post-war period. Australia’s contribution to Unrra entitles this country to share the credit for the good work that is being done by that organization. Australia, by its contributions to Unrra, ranks among that organization’s three greatest benefactors. Numerous organizations are functioning under the auspices of Unrra with the object of helping peoples in countries devastated in the recent war, and such aid is giving to those peoples the courage without which their future would be hopeless. I am proud that we are able to rise above the inhibitions of extreme nationalism. Indeed, extreme nationalism has invariably been responsible for the catastrophies which have overtaken the world. We realize that men and women are still men and women regardless of their nationality or the country in which they live. Human feelings and sufferings are not measured by geographical considerations. Only by maintaining that condition of mind shall we be able to deal effectively with the problems confronting the world and thus give hope to the peoples of devastated countries. On the other hand, however, so long as international politics are dominated by the extreme nationalism of any one country and power politics in the basis of international relationships the outlook for the world will remain grim indeed.
This relief is to be made available to the British people to whom we owe so much for the peace and prosperity which we ourselves enjoy to-day. It is at least some recognition of the sufferings which we escaped but they endured, and their heroism when hard-pressed whilst we re.mained completely free. We owe to the British people a great debt of gratitude and the least we can do is to endeavour in some measure to pay that debt. I support the bill.
.- With the general sentiments just expressed by the honorable member for West Sydney (.Mr. O’Connor) all honorable members will agree. Under this measure it is proposed to make a grant of £10,000,000 to Great Britain from credits which Australia has built up in London. Tt is right and proper that we should make this gift from those surpluses which we have built up from the sales of products to Great Britain during the recent war. Incidentally, the Mother Country paid good prices for all the goods that we were capable of supplying to it. I ask, however, whether we cannot do better. In effect, this will he merely a book-keeping entry. Although it may save Great Britain expenditure of dollars and sterling, it will fill no English stomachs. We should not be smug about this proposal and feel that we are doing a great deal for the Mother Country. Indeed, this aid represents very little. On previous occasions I have asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) specifically whether the Government would make a Christmas gift to Great Britain as other nations have done. For instance, the Argentine, an alien nation, has given Great Britain an immense gift of meat. The British people are mindful of that fact. In addition, New Zealand has made large gifts of food to Great Britain, and Canada has helped the Mother Country financially and in other ways. However, whilst even the State governments have made gifts to Great Britain, the Australian Government has not given one “ounce of food as a gift to the Mother Country.
– That is not correct.
– I should like the honorable member to cite one instance in which this Government has made a gift of food to Great Britain. When I asked the Prime Minister if this Government had ever done so, the right honorable gentleman replied in the negative. Therefore, I refer the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) to his own leader on the subject. Honorable members who were in Great Britain during the war know how short Britain was of foodstuffs at that time. Rationing in that country was then very acute, but the position to-day is even worse. If we could follow the example of other nations and he -really generous in providing aid to the British people we could do a great deal of good. This is not a one-sided business. The honorable member for West Sydney referred to the great part which Great Britain played during the war. We need not dilate upon that aspect. Great Britain’s achievements during the war are recent history. The Mother Country alone saved civilization. It saved Russia, a fact which that country often forgets to-day. But for Empire unity at that time, the present world picture, although grim, would have been even more gloomy. I repeat that this business is not onesided. Although Great Britain faced the enemy at its gate, twenty miles across the English Channel, it launched great armies in distant campaigns during the recent war. At the same time it made available immense quantities of the products of its factories to help its allies. It equipped complete divisions in Russia to which country it sent tanks, aircraft, rubber and foodstuffs. It rendered considerable aid also to the Dominions. During the recent war, Great Britain expended £33,000,000 in Australia directly on war purposes. Of that sum, £7,000,000 was expended for naval purposes alone in the equipment of stations and the construction of mine sweepers, and £1,900,000 for the upkeep of civilians interned here. In addition, the Mother Country made a gift of the cruiser Shropshire which played its part in the defence of this country after we had suffered the loss of Sydney. The Australian people opened a fund for the purpose of purchasing a cruiser to replace Sydney. Shropshire was given to us and the money the Australian people subscribed to replace Sydney is being diverted by the Government to other purposes. The Empire air training scheme would not have been possible but for the gift’ of equipment by Britain to Australia. Instructors were sent here at the beginning of the war. Serving and past members of the Royal Australian Air Force know the great service that those instructors rendered in training young Australians. But for the 1,600 training aircraft that Britain sent here we should not have been able to operate squadrons in Britain and later in New Guinea and other places to our north in defence of this country itself. We were also given engines and spare parts. The aircraft alone were worth more than £1,000,000. To-day one can see many of them rotting in the sun and rain at Laverton, Amberley and other places. Some of them were sold by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. So we have received as revenue the money received from the sale of aircraft that were given to us. [ do not wish to imply that the scheme was all one-sided ; it was not. The Empire air training scheme was perhaps the greatest example of co-operation in the Empire’s history. Nevertheless, without Britain’s aid we should never have been able to play our great part in achieving victory. What I deprecate is smugness about this- gift of credit to Britain. Last year and the year before I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) to buy food in Australia and send it as a gift to Britain to supplement gifts of money. En both years he said that the matter would be examined. After months of consideration, in both years, in answer to repeated reminders from me, he said that the Government would not do it. I have often instanced what other nations have done for Britain. I turn my attention to the International Red Cross Society, possibly the greatest organization for good in the world, not excepting the United Nations, the new toy that fascinates the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) so much. In 1946-47 the Australian Bed Cross Society was asked by its counterpart in Britain to help in relieving the distress of the people in Britain caused by the appalling floods that followed the thaw after one of the most severe winters in memory. The Prime Minister was asked by me to supplement the Australian Red Cross Society’s efforts by sending food to Britain. He did nothing. Yet Australia has been able to help suffering in Asia and other countries. The International Children’s Relief Fund is splendid. But charity begins at home, and the Australian Government is lagging behind the Australian people in being generous to our kith and kin. The response of the Australian people to appeals for aid to Britain has been magnificent. That is because we are a warm-hearted and open-handed nation individually. But what assistance has the Government given? Over and over again we have objected to the excessive postage charged on food parcels sent to Britain. The Postmaster-General’s Department is profiteering on the postage on the parcels. The Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) and his representative in this chamber, - the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), brag about what a wonderful department the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is and about the profits it makes, but we are not told that much of the profit is derived from the excessive postage on food parcels sent to Britain by poor people. More parcels would be sent if the postage were reduced.
– The honorable gentleman is unfair because he knows that there is an international agreement on postage.
– I know the honorable member, too. He will rise soon and make a mealy-mouthed speech saying that we are too British.
– If the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) interjects he will get what is coming to him. Let him go back to the girls’ journal that he used to edit instead of remaining here to make simpering speeches.
– Order! The honorable member has sufficient knowledge of the Standing Orders to know that he is not permitted to interrupt when the Chair is indicating the line of action that must be followed. He is not entitled to build a speech on the honorable gentleman opposite.
– I know there is an international postal agreement. We all know that. The Government of Britain must share culpability with the Australian Government for the excessive postage charged on food parcels, but it is not beyond the competence of the Australian Government to reach an agreement with the British Government to reduce the postage in order that greater quantities of goods may flow from Australia to Britain. The postage on parcels containing such essential foods as fats is almost equal to the cost of the contents. The problem ought to be easily resolved in consultation with the British Government. I was referring to the fact that the Australian Government did not help the Australian Red Cross Society to alleviate suffering in Britain after the disastrous floods of 1946-47. Singlehanded, the society gathered 700 tons of food and sent it to Britain for distribution by the British Red Cross Society. There were 7,751 cases sent to Britain for winter relief in 1946-47. Our Prime Minister said at the time, with the backing of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard), that the Government could not buy food on the Australian market to send to the British people. That was nonsense. I concede that supplies of meat to Australian people were rationed then but they are not now. Now we had the spectacle of refrigerated ships having to leave Australia with empty holds on the longer journey to New Zealand to pick up meat cargoes, because of an unfortunate strike in Melbourne. When I complained bitterly that our fat lambs were not being exported to Great Britain because of that strike, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture made a most nonsensical statement when he said that the people of Britain would be better off in the end because the longer the lambs were left unslaughtered the fatter they would be when slaughtered. That was a ridiculous display of side-stepping. Now that meat is not rationed in Australia, the Government could enter the market and buy meat to send to Britain. If it spent £5,000,000 on buying bacon and other meats, fats and other commodities for export to Britain as a gift, the moral effect would be infinitely greater than that of a mere credit entry in the ledgers of the Exchequer in Britain, no matter how great it may be. The gift of £10,000,000 is to be commended, hut it is not enough. It should be supplemented by a substantial gift of food. That would bring us into line with other British dominions and our own people. Under the operations of the International Emergency Food Council much food that should go to Britain is diverted to such countries as Burma and India. The in- effectiveness of the shadowy body without statutory authority, which sits in. Washington and on which, incidentally, Australia is represented by onlyone official, in determining the international distribution of food relief, is one reason why the peopleof Great Britain are still underfed. The system of distribution is certainly not right. I consider that thepresent Government is influenced far toomuch by international sentiments and fails to realize that the British Empirecould be made the most effective union of nations to-day. “We hear far too much talk of the world being dependent upon only two great nations, Russia and the United States of America. We tend to forget that we are members of an organization, the resources of which are at least equal to those of Russia and the United States. Whilst our man-power may be less than either of the two nations mentioned, our achievements and traditions far excel theirs. We should seek to strengthen the bonds of our Empire, not by flag-wagging and talk, but ‘by practical action. The present plight of the United Kingdom presents a splendid opportunity for other members of the British Commonwealth to demonstrate their solidarity. The Government should go into the market and buy up foodstuffs of all kinds for the underfed people of Great Britain. Instead of doing that it contents itself with making a mere money gift to the United Kingdom, an action which will undoubtedly be misinterpreted in some quarters in that country as a payment akin to conscience money. If the Government took practical action of the kind that I suggest its actions would conform to the generous sentiment of our people, particularly towards their kinsfolk in Great Britain.
.- Like other honorable members, I realize that although the present gift is undoubtedly a generous gesture it cannot accomplish a great deal to assist the people of the United Kingdom. I shall have something to say concerning that aspect of the matter later in my speech, but I propose now to deal with the muddled thinking which characterizes several members of the Opposition, particularly the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White).
That honorable gentleman thinks that any action taken by the present Government, or anything which it does to conform to the wishes of the Australian people, must necessarily be subjected to severe criticism. If ever a gleam of real Australianism penetrates the consciousness of the honorable member, the shock which he will receive will be comparable only with the disturbance which followed the bolt of lightning that struck the elm tree outside the village blacksmith’s shop. Although he undoubtedly means well, I shall have something to say later about his response to an honest remark which I made to him by way of interjection when he was speaking about food parcels. However, I was pleased with the utterances of other members of the Opposition who have spoken on the bill. Having regard to the economic plight of Great Britain arid the sufferings of the British people, we must all admit that the proposed gift is only a small contribution. I was particularly impressed with the reasoned statements made by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), who did not hesitate to cut through much of the sentimentality which has surrounded discussion of the proposal and to deal with the realities of the situation which confronts Great Britain to-day. He criticized quite frankly the nature of the goods which Great Britain is exporting to Australia at present, and said that in place of manufactured American tobacco, which comes to us in the form of expensive English cigarettes, and other high-priced luxuries, such as expensive chocolate biscuits. Great Britain should concentrate on exporting to Australia more essential goods, and particularly those that will assist us to develop our economy. Mechanical equipment and agricultural machinery are very badly needed in this country. The right honorable gentleman pointed out that the principal consideration of British exporters at the moment appears to be to export any goods that will increase Great Britain’s overseas trade. The remarkable increase, even over the pre-war trade of Great Britain, which has already taken place, indicates the urgency of their effort, and is, in itself, an assurance that Great Britain’s battle for economic survival will be won. It is not very long ago that some of our European and American friends expressed the opinion that Great Britain was finished. We do not hear any such criticism now, and the British people under the lead of the present Labour Government have demonstrated the staunchness which has always characterized them regardless of the political complexion of their government. After all, the success of great national efforts must depend, in the last resort, on the staunchness of the working class.
– Does the honorable gentleman regard himself as a worker?
– At some time I might discuss privately with the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) whether he regards himself as a journalist, but, in any event, that has nothing to do with the measure which we are discussing. Whenever it is proposed to make a grant to the United Kingdom the honorable member for Balaclava becomes excited by highly sentimental considerations, and when members and supporters of the Government reply to his criticisms, he invariably complains that we accuse him of being too British. I remind him that there is nothing so horrible as a person of hyphenated nationality. I have no time for people who call themselves ScotsAustralians, Irish-Australians, or AngloAustralians. Surely we have had time in 150 years to become Australians, and to be quietly proud of the fact.
– I have given proof of the practical nature of my Australian nationality.
– The honorable member may have done so, but unfortunately he does not convey a similar impression in his utterances. In the present debate several side issues have been raised, and it is undoubtedly true that we can do a great deal to assist Great ‘ Britain, apart from making gifts of money. Indeed, some finance experts have pointed out that the mere provision of money will not greatly assist Great Britain at the present time. The real necessity is to repair Great Britain’s shattered economy and to reconstruct the web of international trade so that that country will have an opportunity to regain its rightful place.
In discussing this gift, I think that something should be done to correct the unsatisfactory conditions which surround the despatch of food parcels to Great Britain. I am not criticizing the organization which was established to increase and expedite the supply of Australian food to our British kinsfolk, but I do criticize those commercial interests which are so devoid of human feeling as to exploit the generous sentiment of our people. The products of certain’ canneries have been the- cause of grievous complaint. The honorable member has himself drawn attention to the unsatisfactory condition of much of the canned food sent to Great Britain in food parcels. One would hardly think that manufacturers would be so unscrupulous in the preparation of food parcels, which they know are to travel 12,000 miles to Great Britain and will be found to be unsatisfactory when opened. The big retail stores which sell highpriced food parcels also deserve criticism. Although the attractive wrappings of the food parcels displayed in some large retail stores induce many people to pay their money to have those parcels sent to relatives and friends in the United Kingdom, experience has shown that the goods contained in many of them are not satisfactory, and they are- certainly not representative of high-class Australian food. Of course, the goods are prepared in elaborate celophane wrappings, but the real merit of food parcels should lie in the quality and condition of the food which they contain. Apart altogether from the commercial immorality displayed by certain interests in this country which are concerned in the preparation of food parcels for export, we cannot afford to lose sight of the damaging effect that their actions may have on our future trade with the United Kingdom and other countries. I know from my recent visit to the East that similar criticism may be applied to our exports to Asiatic countries. Our present trade with the East is characterized by a sloppy approach on the part of manufacturers and exporters. Frequent complaints have been made in this chamber of the unsatisfactory nature and condition of Australian exports, and something should be done to remedy that disability. Tn the main, all honorable members agree with the principle of the measure and hope that Australia will be able to accomplish more to assist the United Kingdom. However, I consider that the contention of honorable members opposite that we are niggardly in our treatment of our British kinsfolk, and that we have not been nearly as generous as are other dominions, is quite wrong. The motive force of our effort to assist Great Britain lies in the unselfish labour and charitable sentiment of the ordinary people of this country. The Government will always assist our people, who have shown such greatness in sacrifice to implement their charitable intentions. To return to discussion of the bill, if honorable members will remove from their minds considerations of mere sentimentality, and confront the facts of the situation, I think that those who have any sense of fairness will realize that the contribution that the Government proposes to make is not such a bad one. After all, the other dominions of the Empire have made gifts to Great Britain, and we have given to the limit of our financial resources. It may be that the British Government would prefer that the present gift should take some other form, but as the recipient of our gift, it undoubtedly feels that it would be invidious for it to quibble over the form which the gift should take.
The honorable member for Balaclava complained that, although the PostmasterGeneral’s Department made a profit of £6,000,000 during the last financial year, what he termed exorbitant postage rates are still being charged on food parcels consigned to Great Britain. Of course, the honorable member knows very well that that matter was thrashed out some considerable time ago, and that as the result of representations which were made direct to the Prime Minister and the Postmaster-General of the United Kingdom, it was revealed that the existence of an international agreement on postal charges prevents any reduction of charges being made on goods consigned to Great Britain. In any event, it would not be consistent with the maintenance of British dignity abroad for that country to ask the other parties to the international agreement to allow the postal charges to be reduced in its favour. In the electorate of Parkes, which I represent, there are groups of British migrants, some of whom have now resided in Australia for twenty years, who are distressed at their inability, because of high postal charges, to send as many food parcels to Great Britain as they desire, but, as has been pointed out on a number of occasions, that difficulty cannot be overcome by any unilateral action. The honorable member knows that to blame the Government for that is not quite fair. Referring to the logical statements that we .have heard this morning, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) investigated the trade possibilities and suggested that more food should be supplied to Great Britain to enable that country to further increase its production and thus regain its logical and neighbourly markets. The honorable member for balaclava (Mr. White) said that the distribution of food is influenced far too much .by international sentiments.
– And Russianized, too.
– The British Government has negotiated with the Dominions a trade agreement with Japan, for the development of international trade. It may be to our own disadvantage at this stage to have negotiated that agreement, because the goods that will come to this country from Japan could better be sent to us by Great Britain. There is not very much that we can get from Japan which could not be provided by Great Britain, except cotton goods and other textiles and we can even get those from Britain. In return, Japan will get wool from us. When I was is Japan it was apparent that many visitors to that country were potential traders. When the bright coat of sentiment is scraped off, it appears that almost every nation in the world is “eagerly awaiting the opportunity to exploit the cheap labour of that highly industrialized nation. The time is not yet ripe for trading with Japan. Admittedly the trade agreement just completed is for only £55,000,000.
– But the honorable member is sponsoring it.
– At some time in the future, of course, we shall have to resume trading with Japan, but I deplore the eagerness to do so merely because Japan can sell goods cheaply. It cannot be gainsaid that the day we begin to restore trading with Japan, we start to build that country up again. The members of the parliamentary delegation that visited Japan will bear me out when I say that many people there are waiting, feverishly, fo] the Army of Occupation to leave, in order to take advantage of industrial opportunities. We should make haste slowly. I should rather have seen a peace treaty, in which these things could have been thrashed out. We could sell our wool to Great Britain. However, we intend to sell it to Japan at a high price, and, in consequence, the exports of that country coming to Australia will sell at cheap prices, and doubtless, at times, Australian goods will be passed over. The shops are full of English shirts, tobacco, and manufactured goods, but the essential commodities that we require are not yet coming out. This is only a trickle of trade, and while we are waiting for it to become a stream, a certain stultification will occur. Whilst we will get out of this agreement some ceramics, which is a poetic name for cheap crockery, as well as fans, and dolls from Japan, there is nothing vital that we require from that country. My experience in Japan was, that whilst I was briefed to the limit of my endurance on constitutional aspects, the democratic education of the peasantry, and the future development of their living standards and basic industries, whenever I broached the question of trade with the other countries, particularly European countries, I was met with a blanket of silence. I do not blame the officials for that; it was due to the fact that there are so many representatives of trading interests waiting to exploit the position. Although this trade agreement is for only £55,000,000, it will not take long to expand to £550,000,000. I am no foolish enough to say, that if we have an international trade plan, exenemy countries should be excluded from it. There is always a reaction after a war. The only reason that we are encouraging this trade with Japan is because of the cheap manufactures of that country. There should be an appreciable interval to enable us to examine the position fully. Before we expand our wool trade with Japan, in the interests of trade with Great Britain we should have another look at the reports and see whether the spindles being used to make up our wool could be brought out here as reparations. We are hurrying this trade too much.
– Reference to the wool tra.de is a little beyond the scope of this debate.
– Although I apologize for that reference, it is an important matter. In supporting this contribution of £10,000,000 to Great Britain I hope that it will be accepted in the same good spirit as it is given. It is to be hoped that Great Britain’s rehabilitation will not be longer delayed, and that the plans of the United States of America for the relief of Europe will have the desired effect. In this connexion, the wise Government which has recently been returned to office in the United States of America will doubtless play a big part.
– I support the grant of this amount of £10,000,000 to Great Britain. It is a gesture which is backed by the whole of the people of this country. If anything, it falls a little short of their wishes. The £10,000,000 is but a gesture, because we realize that we owe much more to Great Britain than that. During the war years, while we took cash for everything that we supplied to Great Britain, Canada gave that country £100,000,000 sterling, followed by £100,000,000 worth of food. It paid to Great Britain its total national debt. That was supplemented by further large amounts of cash, ships, and everything possible. On the other hand Australia gave nothing to Great Britain during that period beyond m sympathetic admiration for what Great Britain was doing for us. During the war it was the taxpayers of Great Britain who provided the money foi- the forces that saved Australia’s sea lines Section of the great fleet of Great Britain operated in the Pacific Ocean whenever it was possible for them to leave the Atlantic Ocean and the Medi terranean Sea. During that time, Australia built up great credits abroad. After effecting its own rehabilitation, Great Britain is entitled to look forward to the day when it will be able to start to pay back the large amounts of money that that country borrowed in order to carry on the war, together with interest. Gifts such as this will hasten that day. The sale of our surplus production allows us to accumulate credits in Great Britain. The vessels in which that surplus production is carried are British owned and controlled. At the present time, those vessels, as well as our own coastal vessels, are delayed for weeks in Australian ports.
It has been said that our contribution to Unrra was a very generous one, but it was no greater in proportion than that which was made by other nations, except Russia. In comparison with the Russian contribution, our contribution was a large one, but that is true of all other nations. We contributed approximately £12,000,000 to that organization, but it purchased £10,000,000 worth of goods from us.
– The honorable gentleman is entitled to make only a passing reference to that subject.
– We owe much to Great Britain. The guided weapons range project is a British undertaking that is being carried out in Australia by British scientists and is financed largely with British money. It is an experiment with which we are proud to be associated, but it was initiated and is directed by Great Britain. Our interests in Malaya, which lies at our very door, are now being protected by British troops. The British Government recently sent the . second battalion of the Coldstream Guards and the second battalion of the Scots Guards as well as the Second Guards Brigade to Malaya. They are there to protect us, at the expense of the British taxpayers. We do not always take those factors into consideration. We are proposing to give to the United Kingdom £10,000,000 of its own money, or £10,000,000 of the profits that we have made from the sale of our products to that country. In comparison with other countries, ours is a poor showing in this connexion, and we should not imagine that those other countries are not aware of it. Some time ago, in urging that more food be sent to Great Britain, Mr. Dillon, speaking in the Dai! in Eire, :said that many Britons were suffering a degree of exhaustion because of shortages of food. He went on to say that Britain’s sacrifices would excite admiration for a very valiant people. That statement was made by the Opposition Leader of a country the people of which now claim to be foreigners to the Empire. Mr. De Valera said in reply to Mr. Dillon -
Our Government considers it nothing short of wonderful that the British people are behaving as they are in stinting themselves in order to send food to where it is most needed in Europe.
Those sentiments were expressed by people who appreciate what that mighty little country is doing We, on the other hand, criticize it if we find that small parcels of our butter or other products are being diverted by it to other countries in order to save human lives. We should do something in recognition of the colossal trade that we are. now doing with Great Britain and the huge sums that we are charging it for our products, and which it is prepared to pay to us. In answer to all our requests for increased prices of butter, wool, beef and other commodities, Britain has always found the money. We are indebted to Britain, not only for the prosperous position in which our trade with that country has placed us, but also for its protection of the British colonies and other areas near Australia in which it is interested. We do not partake in the defence of those areas, but we are pleased to enjoy the benefits that flow from it. I hope that Australia will follow the example of Canada and loosen its purse strings to a. greater degree, not only to assist Great Britain to pass successfully through the present crisis hut also to enable it to put something “in the locker “ so that it may be able to discharge the colossal liabilities that it has assumed.
.- I am sure that all honorable members welcome this bill, except perhaps the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser). Honorable gentlemen opposite have not a monopoly of concern for the Old Country, its economic welfare and the standard of living of its people. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) sometimes resents what is said by honorable members on this side of the House in favour of Britain. He wishes to preserve that right for himself. This Government has expressed its concern for the people of Britain in a practical way. At approximately this time last year, the Parliament passed a bill that enabled a gift of £25,000,000 to be made to Britain, and this year it will doubtless pass thi? bill, which, provides for a further gift of £10,000,000. Thus, we shall have given £35,000,0000 in two years, and set an example to other countries in regard to monetary gifts. The honorable memberfor Balaclava said that this gift will be only a book entry. If that is so, it will be of no value to Great Britain. If the honorable gentleman really believes that to be the case, why does he propose to vote for this bill ? If it will have no effect other than the entering of figures in books, it is useless to bring it down, and it will certainly be wrong for the honorable gentleman to vote for it. This gift of £10,000,000 will enable Britain to purchase food wherever it likes. We do not propose to specify how the money shall be spent. It can be expended in whatever way Britain desires, and it will, therefore, have a practical bearing on Britain’s recovery. I wish to refer to a letter that 7. received this week from the Reverend Eric Griffin, of Stoke-on-Trent in England. In his letter, the. reverend gentleman pays tribute to what Australia is doing and has done for Britain. It is good to have British people writing in that vein, ‘because honorable members opposite seek to create the impression that no one in that country is thankful for what we are doing. The Canberra Times yesterday reported an excellent commentary on the situation in Great Britain by the Rev. Alan Walker, who has returned from the World Council of Churches at Amsterdam. He said that the British socialist experiment was the most important political development in the world and that the British Government had achieved remarkable changes by extending social services and building houses, and by legislative action. He said, “ The British experiment will show to the world a way between the right and the left “. I know the Rev. Alan Walker, and I know that he does not make wild statements. He led the Australian delegation to the council, and I place great faith in his opinions. I am pleased that the speeches of honorable members opposite have contained no criticism, on this occasion at any rate, of the so-called socialist Government of Great Britain. Last year, when this House debated the bill which provided for a gift of £25,000,000, we heard many disparaging references by members of the Opposition to the British experiment. When will they realize that the United Kingdom to-day is an oasis of sanity in an insane world? When will they realize that the only effective middle course that can be steered between the warring ideologies- of the world is being pursued by Great Britain? We look to the right, politically and economically, and we find the United States, with its great wealth and power. We look to the left, and we find the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, with its political ruthlessness
In the United Kingdom, the socialist, or Labour Government is performing deeds that will produce remarkable results within the next five years. It will save the country from what, not long ago, appeared to be almost inevitable ruin. Anything that the Australian Government can do, either by making monetary gifts or by increasing our markets for British goods, will have a profound influence upon the success of the British experiment in negotiating a central course between the extreme right and the extreme left in international political and economic affairs. The British Government is responsible not only to its own people but also to the peoples of many other countries, which look to it for guidance and tutelage. It is also a partner in the great air-lift to Berlin. The gift of £10,000,000, which this bill will authorize, may very well aid Great Britain to pay its share of the tremendous cost of taking food to Berlin in an endeavour to uphold its responsibilities to the people of that city. That air-lift is absolutely vital to the welfare of western Europe. It is a battle of food for the loyalty and support of the German people. The group of countries that wins the battle will gain the political support of the German people in the future. Any monetary gift that can help Great Britain to play its part in the struggle is something far more important than a mere book entry.
We are helping Great Britain in other ways also. Australia provides a market for British cars, tractors, domestic goods, farm implements, and wire and wire netting. Great Britain must have markets in other countries if it is to win its struggle for economic survival. Even the honorable member for Balaclava must admit that. If we can provide a safe and stable market for British goods, weshall contribute directly and in a large measure to the recovery of the United Kingdom. The Opposition may prate about sending beef, lamb and other foods to the United. Kingdom as gifts-
– The honorable member wants to send rabbits, too.
– Tes, and rabbits, for that matter. It is ridiculous hypocrisy to talk of making Christmas gifts of food, when the provision of a market for British goods for the next ten years is far more important. That would be one of the greatest aids that we could render to the United Kingdom.
– Can not we do both?
– We can make monetary gifts and also provide markets. Individual Australians and organizations are sending gift food parcels to the British people and I pay a tribute to them on that account. To unload the responsibility for making such gifts upon the Australian Government would be, in my opinion, to stretch the functions of government too far. The Government will encourage the people in every possible way to send food parcels, but it should not be expected to take over that task itself. Thi9 Labour Government has created a state of financial and economic stability that will keep us on a sound footing for many years. In this state of prosperity, we are able to buy British goods. Should our purchasing power be drained off by the private banks or by any other means, the Australian market for British products would immediately disappear and Great Britain would suffer.
– There, has always been a market, in Australia for British goods.
– Yes, but it was often a very restricted market,, particularly before World War LT.
Surely the- Opposition does not expect us to be unconcerned about Great Britain’s economic recovery. The International Emergency Food Council supervises the distribution of the world’s food production to various countries.
– Order! The honorable, member should confine his remarks, to the subject of the bill..
– The honorable member for Balaclava discussed: this subject.
– I know nothing about, that..
Mr: DUTHIE__ I am sorry that you were not in the chair when he was speaking. I conclude by saying that the United Kingdom Government will be able to use our gift of £10,000,000 in whatever way it deems fit. If it wishes to use the fund to finance: the diversion of food to other countries, that will be its own concern. If we help it to do so, we shall be aiding not only Great Britain’s recovery, but also the recovery of the world. The: degree of reestablishment that. has. been accomplished by Great Britain, in. the. last twelve months has. provided one of history’s, greatest, examples of courage, faith in ideals and. a. Government’s, loyalty to its. tasks and preparedness to experiment with its economic and. financial arrangements. The Government is to be commended for having introduced this hill, which has my whole-hearted support.
.. - The purpose of the bill now before the House is to appropriate £10,000,000 for a grant to His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom. Every honorable member, irrespective of party affiliation, will welcome with great satisfaction this proposal to assist Great Britain in its difficulties. If. any of us are- critical of. the measure, it is not because of the amount of the proposed gift, hut because of the manner in which the gift is to be made and because we believe that it. will have little or no effect on the ultimate recovery of Great Britain or- of world trade.. In. his second-reading speech, thePrime Minister (Mr. Chifley) dealt with tha implications arising from this gift, the difficulties facing Great Britain, and world economy generally: In his, openingremarks, the right honorable gentleman said -
In the budget speech … I referred to the trade and payments difficulties- which have - hampered European economic recovery. The most obvious of these difficulties lias been the dollar shortage:
I propose to. say something about, the dollar shortage. I. claim, and very reason: ably, that there, is no dollar shortagetoday. The official figures published by the United States Treasury disclose that there are more dollars and” more credit in the. United. States to-day than ever before in the history of that country. That country has enormous resources, of dollar credits and” what is called, in banking parlance, “ till currency “’, consisting, of dollars issued to the people for. their services.. There is no shortage of dollars, but there is a. great shortage of. the good’s which, are. supplied, by the United. States: of America. The honorable member.- for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) complained, rather querulously that honorable members on. this, side of the House had. not criticized, the. socialist, governments of Great Britain and Australia for the action which, they are taking, to solve difficulties that have arisen from the enormous demands madethroughout the world for American goods. I propose to remedy that and givethem, bath the full measure of criticism to which they are due.. In considering this proposed gift we should have in mind the words of. the German philosopher Hegel, “ The altOgetherness of everything “. We may discuss the proposed gift, but we may not suggest how it should be used or refer’ toits effect on the economy of Great Britain or of Australia. As Hegel pointed out, there is the altogetherness of everything. When a note has been sounded hereit may echo around the world. I believe that this gift will have very little effect on the problems that confront Great Britain. I have obtained from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics a statement relating to the Australian balances in gold and British Treasury securities held in
London. These figures are fairly up to date. If there has been any variation of our London balances since they were prepared it has been in an upward direction. The statement shows that at the 25th August, 1948, Australian balances in gold and British Treasury securities in London amounted to £267,832,000. At present the amount may be slightly greater. We propose to make a gift of £10,000,000 to Great Britain merely by reducing our London balances by £10,000,000. What possible effect could that have upon the economy of Great Britain ? I suggest that the mishandling of this matter might have very devastating effects on our own economy because we have done nothing to lessen the credit base of the Commonwealth in order to make this proposed gift. We have done nothing to stem the rising tide of prices brought about by inflationary conditions through the excessive amount of purchasing power and by the swelling of the Australian credit base. Some years ago, in company with the Prime Minister, I had the honour to serve as a member of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems. Professor Melville, the economic adviser to the Commonwealth Bank, explained to the members of the royal commission the structure of our credit system and the methods by which the credit base could he increased or reduced. One of the principal points stressed by Professor Melville was that the credit base of Australia was diminished by imports, or by the decrease of our London balances. At present Australian funds in London are continually swelling. They are not being liquidated by large importations of British goods into this country. I ask leave to continue my remarks when the debate is resumed.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Calwell.) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. Dedman) read a first time.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1948 -
No. 70 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 71. - Peace Officer Guard Association.
No. 72 - Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association (Australia) andothers.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appoint ments - Department -
Interior - A.G. W. Greatorex.
Repatriation - M. E. Coe.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations -
Orders - Inventions and designs (6).
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for -
Commonwealth office accommodation purposes - Brisbane, Queensland.
Department of Social Services purposes - Toorak, Victoria.
Postal purposes - Waroona, Western Australia.
House adjourned at 12.55 p.m.
The following answers to question were circulated: -*
Film, “ No Orchids for Miss Blandish “.
Wheat: Mr. F. H. Cullen.
Mr.Ryan asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Is Mr. F. H. Cullen a salaried officer of the Wheat Board?
Did Mr. Cullen, while a salaried officer of the Government, address meetings of wheatfarmers during the recent Victorian wheat poll?
If so, did he speak in support of a “ Yes “ vote? 4.Did he use an official car to convey him to and from these meetings?
Did any other officers of the Government attend these meetings and act in a similar manner ?
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - 1.. What were the total imports of motor vehicles from dollar sources during the past twelve months?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has advised that the information is being obtained and will be furnished as soon as possible.
Civil Aviation : DC6 Aircraft.
s asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Mr. Arthur Crouch.
s. - On the 11th November, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asked the following question : -
Has a Mr. Arthur Crouch, of Sydney, been appointed to the staff of the journal BOON, which circulates amongst members of the occupation force in Japan? If so, will the Minister say whether Mr. Crouch is an exserviceman? Was the position on BOON advertised in the newspapers, and were there any other applicants for the position? If so, what were their names, qualifications and war service? If the Minister cannot supply this information immediately, will he make inquiries, and issue a full statement later?
I now inform the honorable member as follows : -
Mr. Arthur Crouch, a Sydney journalist, has not been appointed to the staff of BCON, the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces official newspaper. Mr. Crouch is not a re- turned soldier. Action has been taken for advertisements to be inserted in newspapers in thecapital cities throughout the Commonwealth, calling for applications from journalist members of the Australian Journalists Association and printers of the Printing Industry Employees Union to the positions required to be filled on the staff of BCON.
Instructions have been issued that in the selection of these staff appointments, the provisions of the Returned Soldiers Preference Act will he strictly observed.
e asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What aTe the names and war service of the members of the No. 1 War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Mr. Michael Arden Hickey, Lieutenant, 2nd/28th Battalion ;
June, 1940. - Enlisted as private in original 2nd/28th Infantry Battalion, 9th Division.
January, 1941. - Embarked for service oversea; was promoted from ranks, in succession - Lance-corporal, corporal, lance-sergeant, warrant officer - and gained commission in the field.
Served - Middle East. Wounded in action during Siege of Tobruk, and subsequently evacuated September, 1941. Rejoined unit and again wounded at El Alemaine and taken prisoner of war was prisoner of war for nine months in North Africa and Italy, being repatriated through loss of left eye.
June, 1943. - Returned to Australia.
September, 1943. - Discharged, appointment terminated.
Mr. Gerald John Joseph O’Sullivan, 3104. sapper, 4th Division Signals; - 13th June, 191.6. - Enlisted, New South Wales. 24th January, 1917. - Embarked for service oversea. 3rd August, 191 7. - Proceeded to France ex England 2nd September, 191,8. - On leave to United Kingdom. 20th- September, 1918. - Rejoined unit in the field. 1st May, 1919. - Evacuated to. hospital, bronchial pneumonia. 15 th October, 1919; - Returned to Australia. 20th December, 1919. - Discharged; termination of appointment of enlistment.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 November 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19481112_reps_18_199/>.