18th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the report which appeared in the Melbourne Sun on the 25th November of a statement made by Sir Keith Murdoch, chairman of directors of the Herald and “Weekly Times Limited, who has just returned from an extended trip abroad, concerning the AttorneyGeneral and Minister for External Affairs, Dr, H. V. Evatt, which reads as follows : -
He suits the United Nations perfect!;. He’s friendly, very busy, lobbies industriously, regards compromises us essential to the solution of current problems; feels the United Nations has to work, and is held in high esteem for trying to make it succeed.
– I have not seen the particular statement referred to by the honorable member, although I have seen published reports of numerous other recent eulogistic references from sources in India, South Africa and Eire, to the work of the Minister for External Affairs, I think that the excellent job done by the Minister in all matters which affect the welfare of the British Commonwealth is appreciated by every one except members of the Opposition.
– -Flax-growers of Victoria arc under the impression that an agreement of three years’ duration was made between the Commonwealth and certain State governments, but because of rumours now circulating that the industry is to be disposed, of to private enterprise they are experiencing considerable anxiety. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture throw any light upon the matter ?
– Those growers who believe that the Government is committed to conducting the industry for three years are under a misapprehension.
More than twelve months ago the Government decided tentatively to carry on the industry for a period of three years, but to review the position of the industry periodically. Following upon such a review recently the Government decided that because it -was not possible constitutionally to continue to conduct the industry its property should be disposed of. It was decided to give to the States concerned an opportunity to acquire the property as a going concern. If they declined the opportunity, then to give spinners and others interested an opportunity to acquire it.
Reconstruction TRAINING Scheme.
– I preface my question by extending -a welcome to you, Mr. Speaker. I assure you that your return to the Parliament is appreciated I have received many letters from ex-servicemen’s organizations in New South Wales requesting that Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme trainees hu paid an allowance equivalent to the basic wage in order to enable them to maintain themselves and their families. Will the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction give ‘the House some information about the Government’s intentions in this connexion ?
– I also take the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, of welcoming you back to the Parliament. Tho allowances that are paid to Commonwealth reconstruction scheme trainees to which the honorable member for Richmond has referred have been the subject of rauch consideration by the Government for a long .period of . time. When the scheme started, it was decided that the living allowance payable to a trainee should bc related to other payments that were being made to ex-servicemen . generally. The allowance was based upon the needs of a single man, .and provision, was made for additional payments to trainees with wives and dependent children. The scheme is not ungenerous, and it compares favorably with similar schemes da any other part of the world. These payments have been made for over four years. At no t:me has the basis of them been criticized in .this Parliament. Since the inception of the scheme, the allowance has been increased on ‘two occasions. The most recent increase was one of ‘5s. a week, which was made in conformity with the promise made in the budget speech. In considering the allowances that are paid to ex-servicemen ‘ generally, it is necessary to bear in mind that, after all, the ‘community has to pay them, The honorable member for Richmond has continually advocated the reduction of taxes. He cannot have it both ways. He cannot with any hope of . success advocate a reduction of taxes and at the same time advocate tho increase of an allowance which is, I believe, fairly generous.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to-
That the House, nt ita rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service say whether trade’ onions registered with the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration are affected by certain provisions of the Essential Services Act that was recently proclaimed in the State of Victoria - relating to compulsory secret ballots’? Is he in a position to make any statement on the matter? Were the prosecutions that were launched by the Victorian Government directed only against those members of die executives ‘of tho tramway union and the Australian Railways Union who are members of the Australian Labour party, practically ‘every ‘one of whom has opposed the strike action inspired by the Communist officials <o: those organizations? Onn the Minister explain why the Liberal-Country party Government of Victoria -authorized the . issue of summarises against loyal members of the Australian Labour party who were opposed te what the ^executives of their unions did, and refused to authorize the issue of summonses ‘against Communist members of the executives of the unions concerned, including the secretaries of the Australian Railways Union, and the tramway union, who ‘are both members of the Communist party ?
– There are many legal technicalities affecting this question that I shall leave to constitutional lawyers. In answer to the first portion of the question, however, at least two unions involved in the prosecutions made under the Victorian Government’s emergency legislation are registered with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Whether the powers of the State and the Commonwealth clash as a result of the operation of the Essential Services Act of Victoria, I shall leave to the AttorneyGeneral or his advisers. In reply to the second portion of the question, it is true - and here I can give only the facts - that the leaders of two of the unions involved in the prosecutions who are well known members of the Communist party were not prosecuted. I have no knowledge that they are members of the Communist party, ‘but they say so themselves. It is also true that most of the unionists prosecuted are members of the Australian Labour party and therefore not members of the Communist party. I do not know why a discrimination was made by the Government of Victoria.
-Has the Minister seen a statement made in Adelaide on Sunday morning by Mr. W. B. Darker, who recently returned from a conference in Johannesburg, to the effect that there were great possibilities of developing reciprocal, trade between Australia and East Africa ? Is the Minister .aware that East Africa is anxious to import from Australia such commodities as wheat, butter, canned foods, hardware, knitting wool, tinned meats, jam, dairy products, powdered milk, and cheese; and that in return East Africa could supply to Australia sisal, cotton, oils, coffee and tea? Can the Minister give an indication of any plans which his department may have for developing this important new market?
– I have not seen the statement referred to but I know that there are opportunities for reciprocal trade between East Africa and Australia and that advantage has been taken of such .trading opportunities in respect of wheat, which goes to the African con tinent .and, on some -occasions, to East Africa-; of -butter, in respect of which we are under contract to the United Kingdom to sell to that country the bulk of our exports, -.but of which we will have small quantities available to other markets.; and of wool, which exporters are allowed to export to Africa if they so desire after the home-consumption demand in Australia has been met. Australia has a Trade Commissioner and staff in South Africa. The Trade Commissioner was recently allowed to tour Africa with a delegation that went to that country and I have seen published accounts of bis activities and of the work he is doing. I consider that the service performed by the Trade Commissioner in Africa at the moment is wide enough in scope to enable contact to bc maintained with East Africa. I am quite sure that commercial firms in Australia are fully aware of the trade opportunities in East Africa and that they will exploit them to the maximum extent possible. My department i.= ready to ‘help them in that respect.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a recent article in the press, entitled “We are Losing Markets, Exporters Say “ ? In case the right honorable gentleman has not seen the article, I should like to make a brief reference to it. The article states -
The ; cause is rising -costs ‘and ‘decrease of production.
– Order 1 I have ruled -on ‘innumerable occasions that an honora’ble member, “when asking a question, may not introduce a newspaper article containing debatable matter, and invite the Prime Minister to debate it. Debate in the asking of questions is out of order, whether the debatable matter is introduced by the honorable member who asks the question, or by proxy in a newspaper article.
– May I refer to the article at all?
– So far, the honorable member has introduced debatable matter in a newspaper article about the reasons for the loss of markets. He is clearly inviting the Prime Minister to debate whether the newspaper assertion is right,, and he is not in order in doing so.
I ask him to get down to the essence of the question.
– As there has been some comment recently, and articles have been published in the press attributing the decrease of production and rising cost3 to the introduction of the 40-hour week-
– Order ! The honorable member is still out of order. The Prime Minister may argue, in reply, that the decrease of production and rising costs are not attributable to the 40-hour week. Debate of that kind on questions would contravene the Standing Orders, which provide that a question must not contain debatable matter.
-! shall recast my question. Has the Prime Minister found, on investigation, that the 40-hour week is causing a decrease of production and an increase of costs? If so, what action is he taking to remedy the situation?
– There is very little difference between the question which the honorable member has just asked, and tho manner in which he began his original question, but I shall allow it to pass.
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will answer the question.
– I wanted the Prime Minister to reply to my question.
– The responsibility for answering the honorable member’s question has been delegated to me. I have seen the article to which the honorable member has referred, and I regard it as sadly astray in many respects. Australia’s trade with other countries, both in value and, in many respects, in volume, is greater than hitherto. Some examples and comparisons with 1938-39 are as follows : -
Those are only a few items.
– Selected items.
– The honorable member asked for these facts. I also havesome figures dealing with the volume of” exports of certain products in 1938-39- and in 1947-48. These are some of the items -
– I rise to order. ] should like to have your ruling on this matter, Mr. Speaker. I intended to citecertain articles in respect of which export figures reveal a decrease. Of course, your ruling would not allow me to do that-
– Order ! Nothing prevented the honorable member from citing those figures. All that I prevented him from doing was to use argument associated with those figures.
– My interesting comparison continues -
The output of flour for September, 194S, was 146,000 tons, compared with an average monthly output of 114,000 tons in 1938-39. The output of bran in September last was 28,500 tons, compared with 24,100 tons in 1938-39. The output cf pollard for September was 30,500 tons compared with 23,700 tons in 1938-39. The figures showing the total volume of wheat exported this year will not be available until early in January, but they will probably represent an all-time record. Generally there is a rising tide of exports, which reflects credit on workers and managements and the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. The figures are still increasing from day to day and hour to hour.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a statement by Sir Percival Griffiths, of the International Tea Market Expansion Board in Colombo, that the world would soon have more tea than it wanted and that to maintain the machinery of international regulation it is necessary to keep export control? In view of these statements, will the Government ask its High Commissioner in Ceylon to forward a report regarding any evidence of the existence of a world” tea cartel ? Will the Government consider the abandonment of tea rationing in Australia? Will it review its present tea subsidy policy to ascertain whether that policy is not merely subsidizing the tea cartel at the expense of Australian taxpayers ?
– I happened only this morning to read a very long report about the position of tea production which dealt not only with tea production in India and Ceylon but also with the possibility of its further development and expansion in the Netherlands East Indies. I do not know whether, in some cases, combines operate for the sale of tea, but generally speaking there has not been sufficient tea production in the world to meet world consumption requirements. Last year, the world demand for ten. exceeded production by approximately 15 per cent. However, it is expected that when tea-producing areas have been restored and developed in the Netherlands East Indies there will be ample tea to meet requirements, but we do not know when those plantations will resume full production. A large number of trees, which have been allowed to overgrow, have had to be, or will have to be, pruned heavily. After that operation, the trees will not produce fully again for two years. To-day, the Tea Controller, Mr. Bennett, has indicated that we may have to make representations to the Netherlands East Indies in order to ascertain whether we shall be able to obtain additional quantities of tea from that area. Because of the shortage of that commodity, and the need for ensuring that we receive our allocation, the Government has controlled the purchase of tea and rationed supplies to Australian consumers. The honorable member for Reid should remember that the Government is paying a subsidy of approximately 2s. 6d. per lb. on tea. There is a small tax of about 3d. per lb., but that is only a contra in the subsidy account. Even if ample supplies were available, the Government would not be prepared to permit purchases in excess of the neces sary requirements of the community while it was paying such a heavy subsidy. 1 assure the honorable member that the matter has been examined very closely. A majority of tea merchants favour abolishing the rationing of this commodity and increasing the price, but the Government, has not yet been able to accept their opinion. We have not yet fixed a date for the abolition of tea rationing, but the matter is always receiving consideration. I am not able to guarantee whether rationing will be abolished six months or even twelve months hence.
– Can the Minister for the Navy inform the House when the two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Australian Navy will be put into service. Is it proposed to alter from time to time the types of aircraft that will be based on those carriers, and will any Australian industry be established for this purpose? Is it proposed to make any base in Western Australia capable of servicing these vessels?
– It is anticipated that the first aircraft carrier will reach Australia early in the new year and will enter upon service with the Royal Australian Naval Squadron immediately. The second aircraft carrier has not yet been built. Steps will be taken during its construction to ensure that only the most modern equipment is fitted. It is impossible to forecast when this aircraft carrier will be completed. At present aircraft carriers are being equipped with Firefly and Sea Fury aeroplanes, although from time to time the taking into use of jet-propelled aircraft for that purpose has been considered by the Royal Navy. This aspect of the matter is also being closely watched by the Australian Government in association with the authorities in Great Britain. If the use of jet-propelled or other modern types of aircraft w found to be expedient by the British authorities, the Royal Australian Navy will immediately consider the advisability of their use in conjunction with aircraft carriers attached to the Royal Australian Naval Squadron. The policy of this Government is that both of the new aircraft carriers shall hara attached to them, the moat, up-to-date aircraft available,, and that they shall be manned by highly trained personnel. The possibility of the development of the Australian aircraft production industry in connexion with this matter has not been overlooked. Arrangements have already been made with some aircraft .manufacturers, to establish works in this country. Although I do not know whether such works will be established in Western Australia, the manufacturers of aircraft to be provided for use with the aircraft carriers have already taken action to establish works in the eastern part of this country.
– Several weeks ago I requested the Prime Minister to look into the matter of the export of rice from Australia. Will the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether he has yet had an opportunity to discuss this matter with the- British Government, and, if so, with what result? I point out that due to drought conditions operating in various parts of Australia, the price of vegetables has risen considerably. In the three years that have elapsed since the termination of World War II., every effort has been made by rice-growers in Australia to increase their production, in order to make as much rice as possible available for the peoples of other countries of the world who desperately need it. During that period, however, those countries have had ample opportunity to again develop their rice-fields. I Tikewise draw attention to the fact that large quantities of this commodity arc still, apparently, being supplied to Chinese cafe proprietors in Australia. Will the Prime Minister examine this matter thoroughly with a view to having supplies of rice released for purchase by the working people of Australia, who would welcome the opportunity to obtain a substitute for vegetables at present?
– The. Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will answer the question
– I thought that most people, particularly members of the Parliament, knew that, with the ardent support of the United: Kingdom’, Australia was exporting rice to help prevent, millions of eastern, people from dying of starvation.
– That was three years ago..
– And right up to the present. The honorable member- will appreciate that Malaya generally, and Singapore particularly, have a close association with the British Commonwealth of Nations. At the- strongly expressed wish of the Government of the United Kingdom,, the Australian Government in order to help the people of eastern countries, is depriving its own people of. rice, grown in this country. By doing this, Australia is not only rendering a great humanitarian service to, hundreds of thousands of Asiatics who are literally starving, but also is assisting the United Kingdom considerably. While starvation conditions exist in eastern. Asia, it is unlikely that, the honorable member for Moreton, or those for- whom he speaks in this Parliament, will be able to get rice in the quantities that they desire. At the outbreak of the Pacific war, an allowance of rice was made to Chinese residents of this country. That ration continues, but supplies are not made available to cafes. No doubt, in some cases, Chinese cafe proprietors deprive themselves of rice and sell it to Europeans and, to that degree, there may be some black marketing in rice. In the rationing of rice to the Chinese community, we have had the whole-hearted co-operation of the Chinese ConsulGeneral, who, through his officers, issues rice coupons to Chinese residents in this country. Each receives his own. supply, but -probably some of them hand their rations over for sale in cafes. That, however, is no condemnation of Australia’s gesture in exporting rice to assist unfortunate people in other parts of the world. Upon the production of a medical certificate, rice is made available in this country to Europeans who are invalids and require rice in their diet.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question about the practice that is followed in the Public Service when a senior position has to- he filled, and the choice lies .between an exserviceman with some rehabilitation teaming, and some one dso whose work was not interrupted by the war, and who, therefore, is both efficient and up to date. Do ex-servicemen receive sufficient rehabilitation training, or are there opportunities to gain experience through rehabilitation training sufficient to bridge the gap caused by their absence from civil employment during the war years? Would it be possible to provide more efficient rehabilitation training so that exservicemen will be equally qualified with others to fill senior positions in the Public Service?
– This is. a difficult problem. Promotions in the Public Service are made on seniority, efficiency, training and knowledge. I gather that the honorable member is referring particularly to the higher positions in the Public Service. So far as I am aware, ex-servicemen have not been prejudiced in the filling of those positions. I oan call to mind several ex-servicemen who have reached very high positions, although they were absent from their civil employment during the whole of the war period. One of those, for instance, is Colonel Stevens, who recently was appointed to the Public Service Board itself. During the war he commanded troops in New Guinea and elsewhere. I have not heard any complaint about the matter that the honorable members mentioned, but I shall discuss it with the chairman of the Public Service Board, and ascertain whether any ex-servicemen have been deprived of promotions that were due to them, because of the lack of experience which they might have gained had they not served in the armed forces. I shall also inquire into the suitability of the reconstruction training that is being provided in this connexion, and let the honorable member have an answer as soon as possible.
– The wheat season in the early districts is practically over and the wheat-growers are intensely interested in prices. Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture indicate whether any .contracts have .been made for the sale of the new wheat? If not, can he say whether the prices that growers are likely to receive have been the subject of negotiation? What relation is the price likely to have to -world parity?
– I know of no firm sales or contracts of any magnitude in relation to the new season’s wheat. There have been inquiries and discussions, but no decisions have been made in relation to the sale of any large quantity of such wheat. The discussions will go on. The Australian Wheat Board will be consulted as previously. I hope that the outcome will be satisfactory to wheat-growers generally.
– Can the Minister indicate what price the wheat-growers are likely to receive?
Decentralization of INDUSTRY - Strengthening of Buildings.
– -Those of ns who think of the significance of atomic warfare in relation to this country feel that if our great cities of Sydney and Melbourne should be hit most of our industrial resources will be destroyed. In view of the press reports that the Prime Minister is to confer with the State governments on the strengthening of buildings to meet the requirements of an atomic age, will the Prime Minister at the same time consider a still more important aspect of our defence programme and seek to limit the size of Australia’s great capital cities for at least ten years in order to force decentralization of population and industrial expansion at chosen points throughout Australia so that, in the event of atomic warfare, it will be necessary for an invader to do more than merely bomb Sydney and Melbourne to render Australia easily assailable through our lack of resources ?
– The strengthening of buildings in order to make them less susceptible to destruction by atomic bombs is a subject about which both the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Works and Housing have gained a great deal of information from British experts. The Minister for Works and Housing is now considering methods of strengthening Commonwealth buildings, particularly in the foundations. The problem was recently discussed with the eminent British scientist, Sir Henry Tizard. The decentralization of industry is a difficult problem. That has been proved by the British Government, which is endeavouring to persuade British industrialists to move their factories from cities to less densely populated areas. The problem is made difficult by the shortage of men and materials apart from the great cost involved in transferring factories from cities to outer areas. We have encouraged manufacturers in Australia to establish their industries or subsidiaries in country areas. If a new industry is being established, we try to induce the company concerned to avoid metropolitan sites. We have to a degree succeeded. The Burlington Mills and, I understand, other firms are being established at Rutherford in New South Wales. The factories of Electricity Meter and Allied Industries Limited, better known as “ Emco “, and California Productions Limited are also to be established outside Sydney. The same policy is being applied in Victoria, where new factories, including one owned by an English firm, have been, or are being, established at Ballarat. Assistance is being given, not directly, but indirectly, to firms prepared to establish their factories in country areas. All State governments, regardless of their political colour, are endeavouring to persuade large industrial concerns contemplating enlargement of their enterprises to transfer to country areas. The honorable member may rest assured that the matter is being closely watched. The British Government subsidizes firms prepared to establish themselves outside cities. We are encouraging Australian firms to do the same thing.
– In view of the negotiations at present pending between the Prime Minister and Mr. Cunliffe, managing director of the British Aluminium Company, and the probability that Tasmania is likely to lose the aluminium ingot production plant already planned for that State can the Prime Minister indicate what other type of in dustry it is proposed to establish in Tasmania in consideration of the withdrawing of .that State from the agreement made with the Australian Government under the Aluminium Industry Act?
– This matter was raised some days ago and I indicated then that any proposal for altering the agreement would have to be satisfactory to the Tasmanian Government. Otherwise the present agreement between the Australian and the Tasmanian Governments must stand. The Australian Government will not be responsible for breaking the agreement. I have spoken to Mr. Cosgrove, the Premier of Tasmania, about the matter and I do not desire to commit either him or his Government to any views upon it. I gathered that if any re-arrangement were suggested which would involve the repeal of the present agreement to permit the Commonwealth to join with other concerns for the production of aluminium on a much larger scale, the Tasmanian Government would be prepared to consider it provided that Tasmania was ‘assured of the volume of industrial activity originally contemplated for that State when the agreement was reached. A leader of the British aluminium industry arrived in Australia last week to consider the whole subject, and in view of certain developments he has now left Australia again to consult with his principals. The chairman of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission has sent me a letter the contents of which I propose to communicate to Mr. Cosgrove. I shall indicate at the same time that any new proposals would not in any way reduce the volume of industrial activity that was originally intended should take place in Tasmania. Any variation of the original scheme might result in greater industrial activity in that State than was contemplated under the original agreement. No proposal will be made that will reduce the degree of industrial expansion originally intended for Tasmania, when the agreement was entered into.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister foi- Health -aware of a strong report in New South Wales that medical practitioners who issue prescriptions under the Government’s pharmaceutical benefits scheme are being boycotted by fellow practitioners in the suburbs in which they practise? The boycott is said to work in this way : If a doctor who issues prescriptions under the Government’s scheme requests assistance from a colleague and the latter refuses, the doctor who seeks help is told that he will not get any assistance from that section of the profession which is not co-operating in the Scheme until he drops the scheme. If that be so, will the Minister make representations to the British Medical Association upon the matter and stress “the inhumanity of such action?
– I am not aware of any reports on the matter which the honorable member has raised. I shall bring his question to the notice of the Minister for Health immediately.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen a statement made by Mr. Edwards, Secretary of the Bread Manufacturers Association of Tasmania, to the effect that Tasmania has become the dumping ground for poor quality milling wheat from the mainland ? If the Minister has Seen the statement, has he any comment to make on this allegation? If the honorable gentleman has not seen the statement, will he cause investigations to be made so that steps may be taken to ensure that Tasmanian bread consumers will be provided in future with flour of the highest possible quality?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred. I do not think that it can be truthfully said that Tasmania is a dumping ground for inferior wheat from the mainland. I feel sure that the Australian Wheat Board would despatch to Tasmania the best quality wheat available to it. It is possible that milling wheat of the highest quality is not always on hand when a ship is available to transport it to Tasmania. I do not believe that the board would exercise discrimination such as has been suggested. I shall institute inquiries to ascertain whether there is any basis for the complaint.
Price of Australian Cab
– Will the Prime Minister state whether any Commonwealth or State price-fixing authority has agreed upon the sale -price of the new Australian motor car?
– 1 must confess that I am not aware of all of the items in respect of which the State price-fixing authorities have decided to abolish price fixing. I understand that they number, in all, approximately 30,000. As far as I am aware the fixation of the prices of new and second-hand motor vehicles has been left to those selling them. Following its abandonment of the field of price fixation as the result of the recent referendum on the control of rents and prices, the Commonwealth has had no say in the fixation of the prices of motor vehicles and it does not propose to make any representations on the subject.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether any limitations are imposed on the movement of Australian diplomats accredited to the Soviet Union, and whether such limitations are confined to a section of Moscow? If so. was any reason given by the Soviet Government for this action, and was a.ny protest lodged by the Australian Government?
– This is the first time I have heard a suggestion that limitations have been imposed on the movements of the Australian Ambassador and the members of his staff at Moscow. All countries define certain military areas and defence establishments which may not be visited by foreigners except by special permission. In many countries the taking of photographs of certain areas is prohibited. That is not unusual in countries other than Russia’. Apart from general restrictions of that kind, as far as I am aware no limitations have been imposed on the free movement of Australian officials at Moscow. No complaints have reached me on the subject.
Nationalization : PRIVY Council Appeal.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is true, as reported in the Hobart Mercury of the 1Sth November, that Mr. D. F. Pritt, K.C.,. has been briefed by the Commonwealth to. assist the Attorney-General in the Privy Council appeal in the banking case? Is it also true, as reported in the same newspaper, that Mr. Pritt is one of the. most, noted Communists in Eng-land?
– It is- true that Mr. Pritt,. who- is a very eminent lawyer in the United Kingdom, is one of the counsel briefed by the. Australian Government in the banking case appeal. Although in days- gone by I have heard it said that Mr. Pritt held very radical views, I have never heard it asserted that he was a Communist. However, I sincerely hope that members- of the legal profession who are retained by governments’, corporations and individuals in important litigation are selected- not because of their political views, but solely because of their legal ability. I point out that amongst the lawyers who are representing the Australian Government in the appeal mentioned, there are, undoubtedly, some whose personal political views are violently opposed to those of the Government^ but I do not think for a moment that they would allow their private views to influence the discharge of their professional duties. After all, barristers are retained to present the views of their clients and not their own views. In any event, I have never acquiesced in the suggestion that before retaining the services of a professional man the Government should examine his political views,
MEMBERSHIP of Italy and Finland.
– Can the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs say whether the report which appeared in yesterday’s press that Australia’s representative joined a bloc of six Soviet nations and Chile and Ethiopia in voting against the motion submitted by the Belgian representative in the United
Nations that the- applications of Italy and Finland to join the United Nations should- be- reconsidered.? If the report is- correct, can the- right honorable gentleman say why such, a step was taken? If the Australian representative did vote with the repre: sentatives of the eight powers mentioned, will the Minister tell the House the name of the Australian delegate who registered the vote? Did the Australian representative make that decision on instructions from the Government, or of his own volition? Can the right honorable gentleman say how much longer the people of Australia must continue to- be misrepresented by delegates who, at overseas conferences, consistently vote against the inclinations of the majority of Australians by alining themselves with Russia and its satellites %
– I do not know how the honorable member determines what is or is not in accordance- with the wishes of the majority of the people of Australia. Although many pronouncements have been made from time to time of the opinions held by the majority of Australians on various matters which are the subject of controversy, it is undeniable that many of those pronouncements have proved to be sadly astray. I have in mind, as an example, the forecast made by the Leader of the Opposition of the probable result of the last general election. To return to the question asked by the honorable member, I point out that it is neither practicable nor desirable for Australia’s diplomatic representatives to be left without any discretion to discuss and vote upon minor matters raised at international conferences held in Paris and elsewhere. Just as the Government of tho United States of America delegates authority to Mr. George Marshall, and the British Government leaves to Mr. Ernest Bevin and Mr. Hector McNeil the making of decisions on. minor matters, so the Australian Go<vernment leaves to its representatives abroad the conduct of matters of minor importance. A Minister or official who represents his country abroad- knows the general views of his government, and it is not to be expected that he should, cable his government for instructions and precipitate a. cabinet meeting every time some little difficulty arises. In regard to the action talien. by Australia’s, representative on the specific matter, mentioned by the honorable member, I shall have a statement prepared for him. In answer to requests made by the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Warringah from time to time, I hope to present to the Parliament within the next day or two a statement on international affairs,, and if honorable members are brief enough on other matters there may be an opportunity to discuss it.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that an Australian petrol company has claimed that, it can supply about Iia If of Australia’s require^ ments of petrol by shipping petrol to Australia from non-dollar areas in its own tankers? Does the right honorable gentleman- know anything of that claim, and. of its merits? Can he also indicate when the Australian people may expect some, relief from the present petrol rationing system ?
– As I have indicated when similar questions have been asked previously, I would require considerable time to furnish a proper explanation of the considerations involved in the restriction of Australia’s consumption of petrol. Q have heard of offers- by certain companies to supply petrol from sterling areas, but, like the honorable member for Parramatta, I do not propose- to. mention any names. Of course, some of the claims are completely exaggerated. From my knowledge of the overall picture, I am aware that the supply of petrol to Australia from sterling areas would, involve the United Kingdom in the purchase of considerably more petrol from dollar areas. The supply of refined petrol throughout the world this. year is estimated to approximate 430,000,000 tons, and during’ the next few years it is hoped to- increase the supply to- 530;000,000 tons annually. The biggest obstacle in the way of increasing production of refined petrol is the lack of sufficient machinery and refineries. To overcome the difficulty the British Government’ proposes to establish, a number- of refining plants, in addition to5- those- which will be erected in the Netherlands- East Indies. Even if it were possible to import all the petrol we require in Australia from sterling areas, the United Kingdom would still have to pay dollars for the petrol it purchases. Since all the petrol used by Empire countries comes from the Empire petrol pool, every gallon saved means that a gallon Jess has to be purchased from the dollar area. The honorable member has mentioned a specific claim by a certain company. I have seen similar statements made by one or two companies. In each instance I doubted, the soundness of the claim. In any event, even if it were possible to import all our requirements of petrol from the- nondollar areas, it would not, as I have endeavoured to. explain, improve the overall position.. An increase of supplies of petrol depends largely on refining capacity. The consumption of petrol in the United States of America has increased over the pre-war consumption of that country by approximately 70 per cent., and similar increases are occurring in other countries. The greatest expansion of production of refined petrol which I can imagine- is from. 25 to 35 per cent, of the present production,, but even that, rate of increase will become possible only if all the projected refineries are constructed according to time-table.
– In view of the fact that the Government, by imposing a special tax of 2s. a bale on wool, has been able to accumulate a very considerable fund’ in addition to accumulating £7,000,000 from the sale of noils, locks and low-grade wools for research into sheep diseases and other matters affecting graziers and that that amount cannot possibly be spent by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research for that purpose at present, I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether the Government will consider rescinding the special tax?
– The imposition of the tax is a matter of policy for the Government to determine, but I point out that the contribution of 2s. a bale by the: wool-growers is supplemented by a. contribution of 2s. a bale by the Government.. Furthermore, the imposition of the- tax was made, at the suggestion of the wool-growers’ representatives themselves. For that reason the Government would like to know the woolgrowers’ opinion on “the matter before making any change in the present policy. From my knowledge of the appreciation of the wool-growers of the good work done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, I imagine that the majority of them would be reluctant to discontinue or reduce the charge.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1948. Income Tax Bill 1948. Tuberculosis Bill 1948. Wheat Tax (Repeal and Refund) Bill 1948. Wheat Industry Stabilization .Bill 1948. Wheat Export Charge Bill 1948. Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1948.
Social Services Contribution Bill 1948. Western Australia Grant (Water Supply) Bill 1948.
War Gratuity Appropriation Bill 1948. Loan (Housing) Bill 1948.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 25, I lay on the table my warrant, nominating Mr. Abbott, Mr. Bowden, Mr. Burke, Mr. Gullett, Mr. Hadley, Mr. Hutchinson, Mr. Lazzarini, Mr. Mulcahy, Mr. Rankin Mr. Ryan, Mr. Sheehan, Mr. Sheehy and Mr. Watkins to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested 30 to do by the Chairman of Committees.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) - by leave - agreed to -
That, during the unavoidable absence of the Deputy Speaker, the Speaker be authorized to call upon any of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees to relieve him temporarily in the chair.
Kr. LEMMON (Forrest- Minister for Works and Housing) [4.1]. - I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee
Act 1913-1947, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report, viz.: - The erection of a multi-story block and associated buildings at the Macleod Repatriation Tubercular Sanatorium, Melbourne.
The project is required by the Repatriation Department to extend the existing sanatorium for ex-service personnel suffering from tuberculosis. The extent of the proposal is a new multi-story ward block providing 201 beds, a new multistory home for 182 nurses and female staff, new boiler house and installations, the remodelling of existing ward blocks to provide for 100 ambulatory patients, and the remodelling of the existing nurses’ home to provide accommodation for S6 male staff. The multi-story buildings will be steel-framed concrete encased structures, with reinforced concrete floor slabs and stairs. The other buildings will be of normal brick construction These buildings will be served by a new system of internal roads and services. The estimated cost of the project is £1,050,000. The drawings of the proposal are tabled herewith.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 3rd November (vide page 2421), on motion by Mr. Chifley -
That the bill be now rend a second time.
– I desire, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Australian Country Party, to welcome you back to the Parliament and to express the hope that you had a very pleasant sojourn on the other side of the world.
This bill proposes four amendments to the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945. The first of these is to increase the maximum housing loan from £1,250 to £1,750. Honorable members on this side of the House have no objection to this amendment, which is obviously designed to meet, the increase of housing costs which has occurred since the end of the war. Many factors have contributed to this increase. Not the least of them has been the premature introduction of the 40-hour week in Australia. Otter factors have been low production per man-hour, the slow turnround of ships, the ever increasing cost of transport generally, and the increase of freights which has been brought about by the Government’s removal of subsidies following the recent referendum. The removal of those subsidies affected not only shipping freights but also the basic wage. All those factors have increased building costs, and that is recognized in this measure, which, as I have said seeks to increase the maximum housing loan from £1,250 to £1,750. Although there is no objection in principle to this amendment, there is some objection to the action of the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) in giving ministerial approval to it as far back as last June, in anticipation of the Parliament passing this measure. That was an undue use of the powers of the Executive. Although the amendment has merits, I direct attention to what is, in the opinion of honorable members on this side of the House, a violation of the Government’s constitutional authority and a neglect of the Parliament.
– I remind the right honorable gentleman that, in regard to tax matters, for many years Treasurers have acted in anticipation of legislation being passed by the Parliament.
– I recognize that there are some circumstances under which it may be necessary to do so, but I consider it to he a bad principle to take undue Executive action in anticipation of parliamentary authorization.
The second amendment seeks to increase the maximum Mortgage Bank Department loan to an individual borrower from £5,000 to £10,000. There is no objection in principle to this increase. It is well known that production costs in the primary industries have increased sharply during the last few years. Land values have been pegged, but the prices of tractors, agricultural implements and so on have been increased by the present inflationary trends to such a degree that the present maximum loan of £5,000 is no longer adequate.
The third amendment is designed to remove legal doubts which have arisen regarding the authority of the Rural Credits Department of the Common wealth Bank to secure its advances on a government guarantee. This instrumentality is used to finance the marketing of primary products. Consequently, if there is any legal doubt about the extent to which security could be obtained or the functions of this department could be carried out, obviously those doubts should be removed, and so the Opposition has no objection to the amendment.
The fourth amendment is designed to bring the definition of “ efficiency “ in relation to Commonwealth Bank officers, into line with the definition in the Public Service Act, and naturally there should not be any variance between the definitions. The widening of the definition, and its application to banking officials to the same extent as it applies to public servants, is a machinery matter to which the Opposition does not object.
.- I desire to supplement the remarks of my leader, and to say that the House is bound to take notice of the fact that the Government has considered it necessary to increase the permissible maximum loan for the building of houses from £1,250 to £1,750. Honorable members cannot proceed to adopt such an amendment without paying some regard to the causes which have rendered it necessary. I consider, as does my leader, that the results intended to be achieved by some of the clauses would have been achieved by the Government in the past but for some of its own actions, not the least of which was the introduction of the 40-hour week. I am sure that every honorable member on this side of the House, and no doubt every honorable member on the Government side, desires to institute shorter hours of labour for workers. But if we had been asked to conduct a competition to choose the most inopportune time to introduce shorter working hours, without prejudicing the national interest, I am quite sure we could not have chosen a more inopportune time than the Government chose. It should be remembered that the Government itself was a party to-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman may not engage in a dissertation on the 40-hour week, which has nothing to do with the measure before the House. The question is whether loans of the character mentioned should be increased or not.
– I am bound to respect your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I merely say that it cannot be a very intelligent procedure if honorable members are to vote on whether there ought to be an increase of the permissible loan for bousing, unless they are permitted to examine the necessity for such an increase. To examine that necessity would inevitably involve an examination of the causes of it, and some of those causes might be controllable-
– .Order ! The Chair thinks otherwise. Do not let us be at loggerheads about it. The honorable member’s own leader set the question out very clearly and saw no necessity to go into those details.
– I hope that we are not going to have the novel situation-
– Order ! The “ novel situation “ is that the honorable member must obey the ruling of the Chair. There is no reference to the 40- hour .week in the bill.
– There is no reference to the speech of my leader in the bill.
– Order ! The honorable member should get on with his own speech.
– I intended to say that it ls an extraordinary state of affairs that the Parliament should increase the permissible loan without the Government having justified or explained the circumstances that make such an increase necessary. But if I am obliged to pass that point without enlarging upon it
I shall refer to the increase of permissible -loans upon mortgage and say that it has now become quite evident, and apparently it has been admitted by the Government, that the maximum permissible loan upon mortgage on rural land was previously inadequate at £5,000, as many honorable members claimed at the outset of the scheme. Now the Government is forced to admit that that maximum is inadequate and to raise it to £10,000. The necessity for the increase has nothing to do with an in crease in the price of land, because rural land prices are still pegged by this Government at the same level as -when the legislation that established the mortgage loan section of the Commonwealth Bank was introduced. That legislation has never been of any real use to the working farmers of this country. It is extraordinary that the Commonwealth Bank. which is held up to us by the present Government as such an admirable institution that all other banking institutions in the country should be abolished, cannot charge .as low .a rate of interest for mortgage .loans as the State banks can afford to do. The Credit Foncier branch of the State Savings Bank of Victoria charges a lower rate of interest for rural mortgage loans than the Commonwealth Bank charges. I should have expected that the Minister introducing the bill would have made some reference to this discrepancy. Time and again honorable members on this side of the House have asked why the Commonwealth Bank could not reduce its interest rate on rural mortgage loans to at least the level charged by the State Savings Bank of Victoria. Time and again the Prime Minister .and Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has stated that he would examine the position. Although .he has said on a number of occasions over a period of years that he would do so, be has .never done anything about it. I do not know whether he has actually examined the position or not. Under this legislation, upon which honorable members are invited to vote, loans upon rural lands will bear an interest rate varying from 4 per cent, to 4^ per cent. Private mortgagees charge -as low a -rate of interest as that, and the rural credit section of the State Savings Bank of Victoria charges 3$ per cent, lt seems curious that this magnificent Commonwealth Bank, which, in the opinion of the Government, should be given a complete monopoly, has to charge a higher Tate of interest than a State instrumentality charges. It also seems curious that the Government has taken years to recognize that £5,000 is not :a high enough maximum permissible loan for rural land. While I have not had any recent opportunity to bring ‘myself up to date with information about the number of successful applicants for rural mortgage loans, the last time 1 spoke on this matter in the House I was able to quote figures that showed that in the previous year only 416 applicants had been successful in their applications for rural mortgage loans under the act. Very many more had made applications, but the incredibly conservative attitude of the Commonwealth Bank had prevented them from being successful. The truth is that whereas the rural mortgage loans provision, was intended to enable the working farmer to get a loan of up to, as the statute provides, 70 per cent, of the value of his property, the attitude of the Commonwealth Bank under this Government has, as a matter of fact, converted the 70 per cent, valuation to, on an average, about. 50 per cent, of the true valuation. According to instances which have been repeatedly brought to my notice, the maximum loan that the bank will make upon rural lands is approximately 50 per cent, of the purchase price permitted by the Commonwealth Treasury. An incredible state of affairs has thereby arisen. The Commonwealth Treasury is the authority which approves of the purchase price. The act provides that the Commonwealth Bank may advance up to 70 per cent, of the value of the land, but the bank disputes the validity of the purchase price permitted by the Commonwealth Treasury, and writes down, the valuation to about 50 per cent. One piece of land, which I know very well, has changed hands three or four times in twenty years at approximately the same price. The value has not been complicated by improvements other than some fencing. When the Commonwealth Bank is asked to make an advance upon the property, it places a value upon it of about 60 per cent, of the amount which four successful practical farmers have been prepared to pay for it, and which the delegate of the Treasurer has approved of in the last sale. Yet the highest advance which the Commonwealth Bank will make is less than 50 per cent, of the purchase price. The only conclusion which I can reach is that persons who need a loan representing a reasonably high percen- tage of the value of the land in1 which they are interested, have no chance of getting- it from the Commonwealth Bank. The only people who have any prospect of being granted a loan at 4 per cent, or 4$ per cent, repayable in 20 years or 40 years are those who c-.n obtain a loan with equal facility elsewhere. In operation, the Mortgage Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank has been a convenience to wealthy people, because they are able to get loans at 4 per cent, and 4rJ per cent, repayable in 20 years or 40 years. Because of the extreme conservatism of the valuers of the Commonwealth Bank the Mortgage Bank Department has not been of any use to the small farmer. I put it strongly to the Government that it is in an indefensible position when the delegate of the Treasurer approves of a price and the senior valuers in the Commonwealth Bank completely disregard his assessment and place a much lower valuation upon the property. This matter is one of. administration and the Treasurer himself must accept responsibility for it. Under the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945, the Labour Government abolished the Commonwealth Bank Board, which had previously exercised control over such matters. The Government claimed, at the time, that the substitution of ministerial control for the control which the Bank Board had exercised would be advantageous. In practice, that forecast has not been realized. If only 400 loan applications by farmers and pastoralists to the nation’s own bank have been granted in a year I am satisfied that the administration of the institution is not satisfactory.
Last week, the Government announced the appointment of the Director-General of Post-war Reconstruction, Dr. Coombs, as the new Governor of the bank. I am now discussing the proposed amendments of the Commonwealth Bank Act, and I contend that Dr. Coombs is not a banker in the ordinary sense.
-Order! Dr. Coombs may not be a banker in the ordinary sense, but the honorable member for Indi is not in order, in debating this bill, in referring to the appointment of Dr. Coomb as Governor of the bank. The honorable member was in order when he was discussing interest rates and mortgages; but I remind him that this bill does not relate to the personnel of the bank.
– I rise to order.
– Order! I have decided the matter.
– I desire to raise another point of order in relation to the bill.
– I have already ruled that the honorable member for Indi is not in order in discussing the appointment of Dr. Coombs as Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. If the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) desires to raise a point of order on another matter, he may do so.
– I desire to direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, in case you may have overlooked the point, to clause 5 of the bill, which amends section 165 of the principal act. The proposed new subsection provides for the promotion of officers of the Commonwealth Bank, including the most senior officers. I intend to discuss that sub-section at a later stage, and that is why I have taken the point of order.
– The honorable member will be very unfortunate if he tries to discuss the Governor of the bank.
– He is an employee of the bank.
– The Governor of the bank is appointed by Cabinet.
– In any event, the appointment of the Governor has no relation to the bill.
– To clarify the position, I shall read parts of the bill. Clause 1 states - (1.) This Act may be cited as the Commonwealth Bank Act 1948, (2.) The Commonwealth Bank Act 1945* is in this Act referred to as the Principal Act. (3.) The Principal Act, as amended by this Act, mav be cited as the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945-1948.
This bill amends the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945, which provides, inter alia, for the appointment of the Governor of the bank, and I consider that, in the circumstances, I am entitled to discuss that particular subject.
– Order ! The honorable member for Indi has been a member of the Parliament long enough to know that he is not in order in discussing a principal act at length when he is debating a bill to amend only certain provisions of it. He must confinehis remarks to the proposed amendments. For example, he may express his opinions about whether the amendments are wiseor unwise, and whether they should be made. If he were in order in discussing the management of the Commonwealth Bank, the whole debate on the original measure could be revived.
– I should be very gladto revive it.
-Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks toan expression of opinion about whether the proposed amendments should be made to the act.
– I assume that it will’ be permissible for an honorable member to move amendments to the act other than those now contained in the bill.
– That may possibly be done in committee.
– In fact, it will be permissible for an honorable member tomove an amendment designed to bringthe Governor of the bank within theambit of section 165 of the principal act. Clause 5 of the bill reads -
Section one hundred and sixty-five of thePrincipal Act is amended by adding at theend thereof the following sub-section: - “ (3.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section, ‘efficiency’” shall, in relation to promotions to such senior executive positions in the Service of the Bank as are prescribed, include not only special’ qualifications and aptitude for the discharge - of the duties of the position to be filled but. also for the discharge of the duties of positions of higher status in that Service.”.
I should like you, Mr. Speaker, to correct me if I am wrong, but I claim that I will be in order in forecasting a possible - amendment in committee designed tobring within the ambit of section 165 of” the principal act the senior officers of the Commonwealth Bank, including themost senior officer, the Governor. I desired to refer to the qualifications of the Governor himself and the necessity, in my judgment, for that officer to be an. experienced banker.
– The honorable member has already said that, and I have ruled such references out of order. If he wants to move an amendment in the committee stages, he can obtain a ruling from the Chairman of Committees. If the honorable member were permitted to forecast any conceivable amendment during the second-reading debate, his scope would be unlimited.
– It seems that my scope is not to be unlimited. I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, as I always do. In my opinion, increases of the amounts of permissible advances have been too long delayed, but the rate of interest on advances is higher than it ought to be. In arriving at this judgment, I have used as my measuring stick the rate of interest charged by the State banks. The land valuations of the Commonwealth Bank are unbelievably conservative. I challenge anybody to produce evidence that any other instrumentality in Australia is as conservative as is the Commonwealth Bank in that respect. It is not only curious but also improper that the Government should have one authority functioning under the Treasurer, namely, the delegate of the Treasurer, to place valuations upon land, and another authority, also operating directly under the Treasurer, namely, a -senior valuer of the Commonwealth Bank, who usually makes conflicting valuations.
.- In discussing this bill to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945, I draw attention in particular to the amendment proposed in clause 5. That clause will add a new sub-section to section 165 of the principal act, which reads - 165. - (1.) In the selection of an officer for promotion to a vacant position, consideration shall be given first to the relative efficiency of the officers available for promotion and, in the event of equality of efficiency of “two or more officers, then to the relative seniority of those officers. (2.) For the purposes of this section - (a) “efficiency” means special qualifications and aptitude for the discharge of the duties of the position to be filled, together with merit, diligence and good conduct, and, in the case of an officer who has at any time been engaged on war service-
I emphasize the reference to war service - includes such efficiency as, in the opinion of the Bank, the officer would have attained but for his absence on war service; and
The bill will amend that section by adding the following sub-section: - (3.) Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section, “ efficiency “ shall, in relation to promotions to such senior-
I stress the word “ senior “ - executive positions in the Service of the Bank as are prescribed, include not only special qualifications and aptitude for the discharge of the duties of the position to be filled but also for the discharge of the duties of positions of higher status in that Service.
That means, in effect, that an officer of the bank will not be entitled to the benefits of the existing act for promotion by reason of efficiency and seniority and that, if a vacancy occurs in a position higher than the immediate grade standard above that which he occupies, he may be debarred from appointment to it. Clause 5 has two objectives. The first is to enable appointments by political patronage. That must he the interpretation of the provision. The second objective is to remove the impediment created by the preference sections of the Reestablishment and Employment Act.
This apparently innocent clause at the end of the bill will strike a blow against the law in relation to preference for ex-servicemen as it affects the promotion rights of Commonwealth Bank officers. “When the bill becomes law, ex-servicemen employed by the bank may still be translated from messengers to lift operators or from first-grade clerks to second-grade clerks, but they may be debarred from promotion to such positions as that of senior inspector or even Governor of the bank. The bill will open the door wide to political patronage of the worst kind, and there is reason to believe that patronage of that sort is already being exercised in a way that is resented by many officers of the Commonwealth Bank throughout Australia. A young man who enters the service of the Commonwealth Bank is led to believe that, provided that he is diligent and efficient in the performance of his duties, the highest offices of the bank will be open to him. The despised capitalist institutions, the trading banks, have never within my recollection gone outside the ranks of their own officers in making senior appointments.
– Order! The honorable member should confine his remarks to the bill.
– The Commonwealth Bank should not be less fair to its employees than are the trading banks to their officers. I am pointing out that, in this respect, the bill which we are considering opens the gate to all kinds of abuses. It will amend an act which is only three years old and was introduced and proclaimed by the present Government. I cannot see any necessity for amending that legislation so soon after its enactment. The bill will strike at the principle of preference to exservicemen and will provide means for the exercise of political patronage, which has already been gratified to the utmost degree by . recent appointments. I add my criticism of this clause to that of the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison). It is not so innocent as it appears, and I am sure that its provisions are resented by many Commonwealth Bank officers throughout Australia. They believe that, by virtue of the experience which they have gained in the service of the Commonwealth Bank, their intimate knowledge of the internal working of the bank, its exchange system, its currency system, its advance policy and everything else pertaining to its operations, as well as by virtue of their loyalty and devotion to the service, they are entitled to be rewarded in due course, if their qualifications are adequate, with appointments to the highest positions in the bank. I agree with them. They cannot so believe today. Their doubts must be accentuated by the introduction of this bill so soon after the appointment of a new Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. They must now entertain grave doubts. Proposed new sub-section 3 of section 165 of the principal act reads -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the last preceding sub-section, ‘ efficiency ‘ shall, in relation to promotions to such senior executive positions in the Service of the Bank as are prescribed, include not only special qualifications and aptitude for the discharge of the duties of the position to be filled but also for the discharge of the duties of positions of higher status in that Service.
This provision deals expressly with the filling of the senior positions in the service of the Commonwealth Bank. It is expressly aimed at defeating the provisions of the 1945 act, which were designed to ensure that the “ little “ officers of the bank, who have stuck to it through thick and thin, would be rewarded with senior jobs.
– Order ! The amendment before the House deals only with the promotion of officers within the service. The honorable member is entitled to discuss that matter only. He should not try to avoid the ruling that has already been given by Mr. Speaker (Mr. Rosevear), by pretending that he does not understand the meaning of the proposed amendment.
– I have not been discussing anything else.
– The honorable member is not entitled to speak on other matters.
– So far as I bid aware, no definition of “ an officer of the bank’s service “ appears either in the principal act or in the amending legislation. I presume that he could be defined as one who discharges paid services for the bank. I object very strongly to the amendment, because I do not consider that it is bona fide for the good of the bank. In my opinion it would result in political patronage influencing the service. Officers who were prepared to “kowtow “ to the Minister would secure better prospects of promotion than would others who had not the advantage of political acquaintanceships. Men in the more humble positions would be at a disadvantage compared with the political (; wire-pullers “. In my opinion the amendment is not in the best interests of either the Public Service generally, or of the Commonwealth Bank in particular.
– In his usual way, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has endeavoured to distort the position. He said that the Mortgage
Bank Department of the Commonwealth Bank was merely an institution to assist wealthy graziers. I point out that this amendment seeks to increase the amount that may be lent on mortgage, from the present amount of £5,000, to £10,000. Despite the honorable member’s criticism of the proposed increase, I remind honorable members that in the past he has said that the amount which may be lent on mortgage should, at the outset, have been fixed at £10,000. As a result of inquiries that I have made in this matter T. find that 2,158 advances have been made to primary producers, totalling £4,385,000, or an average of approximately £2,000 an applicant. These figures do not support the honorable member’s contention that the Mortgage Bank Department has been used only to help wealthy graziers. An applicant who requires a loan of only £2,000 in connexion with his grazing activities could, by no stretch of the imagination, be regarded as a wealthy grazier.
– He is a “little capitalist
– By interjection, the honorable member now admits that he completely misled the House. According to the latest figures published, the business of the bank continued to expand last year, 327 new loans aggregating £595,670, or an average of £1,800 an applicant, being approved. Obviously the honorable member blurted out a complete misrepresentation of the position, without any regard at all for accuracy. [ remind honorable members that the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) does not oppose the provisions contained in this measure.
Although I do not know whether the rate of interest charged by the State Savings Bank of Victoria for Credit Foncier loans is lower than that charged on loans by the Commonwealth Bank, I remind the House that since this Government assumed office, the rates of interest on all types of loans have been reduced. They are considerably lower than when’ honorable members opposite formed the Government of this country. In 1921 the rate of interest on overdrafts was 64 per cent., whilst that on loans to local government authorities was 5 per cent, and 5^ per cent.
In January, 1925, when, if m memory serves me correctly, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) was Treasurer of the Common^ wealth, the rate of interest on overdrafts; was 7 per cent. Since 1939, that ratehas been as low as 4^ per cent. Therate of interest chargeable on loans madeby the Sural Credits Department of the. Commonwealth Bank was 6^ per cent* when the right honorable member for Cowper was Treasurer; to-day it is 3$ per cent.
– Not with this bank.
– Tes, that is the ruling rate of interest at present. That is a tremendous advantage to primary producers. The Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank last year advanced to marketing authorities and co-operative societies the record total of £181,000,000 at 3£ per cent, interest. It is quite evident, therefore, that primary producers have benefited substantially by the reduction of interest rates brought about by the Labour Government. I turn now to the interest rate chargeable to local governing authorities.
– I rise to order. I ask whether the rate of interest chargeable to local governing authorities is any more within the ambit of this measure than are some of the matters that I was prevented by the Chair from referring to in my speech?
– The honorable member for Indi was permitted to refer to interest rates on loans for which provision is made in the bill. I ask the Minister to confine his remarks to those matters, namely, building loans and loans to primary producers.
– I accept your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was endeavouring to reply to several points that were made by the honorable member for Indi. However, I believe that I have dealt effectively with interest rates chargeable on loans by the Mortgage Bank Department and the Rural Credits Department of the Commonwealth Bank, and I shall leave the honorable member for Indi to wallow in his misrepresentations. I turn now to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who made certain, observations about the provisions of this bill relating to the promotion of officers of the Commonwealth Bank. First, I make it quite clear that the Commonwealth Bank is bound by the preference provisions of the Re-establishment and Employment Act, just as all other Government instrumentalities and private employers are bound, and that those provisions will be given effect by the Government. Secondly, section 165 of the principal act, which is to be amended by clause 5 of this bill, does not apply to the appointment of the Governor of the bank. The Governor is appointed under section 23 of the 1945 legislation, which was copied from earlier legislation brought in while the present Opposition parties occupied the treasury bench. In other words, the Governor of the bank-
– Order ! The Minister is not entitled to refer to the Governor of the bank. That matter does not come within the scope of the bill.
– That is the point I was endeavouring to make. Clause 5 has no relation to the appointment of the Governor. I turn now to the other point that was made by the honorable member for Richmond. This bill merely brings the Commonwealth Bank Act into line with the Commonwealth Public Service Act. There can be no question whatever of political patronage. The object of the amendment is to ensure that, in considering the appointment of an officer to any vacant position on the staff of the Commonwealth Bank, not only shall the efficiency of that officer in relation to the position to be filled be taken into account, but also his capacity for promotion to still higher rank will be considered. That is quite natural. I do not think that any opposition was raised in this chamber to the amendment of the Commonwealth Public Service Act in this way, and surely, if the provision is considered right for that act, it should also be considered right for this legislation. However, if there is anything in the argument used by the honorable member for Richmond, I remind him that the Commonwealth Bank Act provides for appeals. If an officer believes that he is particularly qualified for a job that is vacant, and for higher positions, but that job has been given to some one else, he may appeal to the tribunal for which provision is made in section 166 of the 1945 legislation. I contend, therefore, that there is no real substance in the arguments of the honorable member for Indi and the honorable member for Richmond. The honorable member for Indi misrepresented the facts, particularly relating to interest rates and, as 1 have said, the provisions of this bill relating to promotions, merely bring the principal act into line with the Commonwealth Public Service Act, which, in this respect, was not criticized when it was before this chamber not long ago.
– The question is that the bill be now read a second time.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to speak to this measure.
-Order! The Minister has closed the debate.
– I rise to order. The second reading of the bill was moved by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley).
– Apparently an error has been made. I understood that the Minister now in charge of the bill (Mr. Dedman) had moved the second reading. However, I remind the House that it is the established practice that when a Minister, who is in charge of a measure, and is representing the Minister who introduced it, speaks, he closes the debate. If other members wished to speak on this occasion, they should have risen before the call was given to the Minister in charge of the bill so that he would have an opportunity to reply to the debate. However, as there apparently has been some misunderstanding, I now call the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald).
– It has been said that I had the opportunity to rise before the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) spoke, but I did not intend to speak. I rose after he had spoken because of something he said. As he was not the Minister who introduced the bill, I was in order in rising to reply to some of his statements. He spent most of his time in attacking the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) for what he declared was misrepresentation and distortion, and then, to show that the honorable member for Indi had not a complete monopoly of the art of misrepresentation and distortion, he proceeded to do a little of it himself. He quoted the interest rate in 1921 as 61/2 per cent, and compared it with the interest rate to-day to show that this Government had reduced the interest rate. He carefully avoided any reference to the interest rate in 1941, when another government was in power. The process of decreasing the interest rate was definitely in progress at that stage. The interest rate then was considerably below the figure quoted by the Minister. It has been said that a half-truth spoken with the intention of deceiving is as bad as a lie. The Minister gave only half of the truth with the intention of deceiving the House and the people.
.- When this bill was introduced I was concerned about advances. I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) a question based on his statement to the effect that advances would be made upon guarantees by the Government. My concern was relieved when I saw the wording of the bill, which states that advances may be made upon security as well as upon a guarantee. As I entered the House the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) said that if previous governments had made advances under this scheme, the farmers would have been saved millions of pounds. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), as Treasurer, in 1926 introduced the legislation establishing the rural credits section of the Commonwealth Bank. As the chairman of a marketing board, in the early ‘thirties, I vividly remember advances being made to it at 33/4 per cent.
– At 61/4 per cent.
– I assure the Minister that we paid only 33/4 per cent, on all advances made to the Marketing Board asfrom the early ‘thirties.
– The statistics are here in my hand.
– It is useless for the Minister to try to ram down the throats of people that what I say is not correct. The most paid on all advances to peanut-growers was 33/4 per cent.
– I do not believe it.
– That is true. Advances were not always made on a State government guarantee, either. They were made on the security of the crops. In effect, we have already had the benefit of what this bill sets out to do. I wondered when it was introduced what purpose it had, because its principles were applied long before this Government assumed office. The Minister is not being genuine when he tries to mislead the people of Australia in this matter. Give credit where credit is due - to the right honorable member for Cowper for having introduced this principle many years ago.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or. debate; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Dedman) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– Is leave granted ?
Leave not granted.
Debate resumed from the 17th November (vide page 3072), on motion by Mr. Holloway -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a bill with a praiseworthy objective, namely, the provision of adequate pensions for judges of the courts of the Commonwealth, their widows, and certain children. In the light of those objectives it receives my approval. The Minister representing the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Holloway), when moving the second reading of the bill, said that it. was a contribution towards the independence and impartiality of the judiciary. Anything that directs itself towards that end is to be supported, particularly since, in these day3, there is sometimes a suspicion that judges are tempted by the hope of other preferment to be not always completely impartial in the discharge of their duties. In the light of that occasional suspicion, which I am not suggesting is well founded but which could be well founded, having regard to what has occurred in other countries, it is important that members of the judiciary be placed beyond any expectation of any other position and that as compensation they be given adequate pension rights for themselves and their families. So, this bill, in principle, receives the approval of this side of the House. Certain of its aspects, however, require some information from the Minister. The bill does not interfere with the existing pension rights of the Commonwealth judiciary. It proposes to give different pension rights to future appointees to that office and to their widows and children. At the same time, the bill gives an option to present holders of judicial office to elect to take the benefits of this measure. In order that my point may be understood, I direct the attention of honorable members to section 48a of the Judiciary Act. It applies for the purposes of my argument to all other Commonwealth judges. The section provides for the payment of pensions to judges on retirement from the judiciary but the pensions are payable to them alone. The legislation makes no provision for the payment of pensions to the widows or children of judges. By virtue of this bill, pensions are to be paid to judges on different conditions and are to be less than those paid under the existing legislation, but provision is made for the payment of pensions to the widows and children of judges. The first point to which I direct my attention is the option given in clause 13 of the bill, sub-clause 2 of which states -
The provisions of sections six to eleven (inclusive) of this Act shall not apply to or in relation to any Judge who is serving as a Judge at the date of the commencement of this
Act unless, by notice in writing to the Minister within six months after the commencement of this Act, he elects to come within the appica-tion of those provisions.
My point can be placed before the Minister fairly simply. It is whether it is good’ or not, as a matter of public policy, to provide for the widows and children of judges. I support the provision of pensions for widows, and I applaud the Government’s approach to the matter; but I cannot understand why the Government, having, decided that the widows and children of Commonwealth judicial officers ought to be supported, refuses to extend the same principle to the widows and children of the existing holders of the office, or why it should be made dependent upon the election of a judge whether they should or should not receive these pensions. Under the bill the Government, in effect, says to a present judge, “ You must determine not for yourself only, but for your widow and children “. In other words, he must make an election within six months and thus decide whether his widow and children shall receive any benefit under this measure. That provision is indefensible. I believe that existing rights should not be interfered with. It is true that an anomaly arises as the result of the fact that existing appointees to judicial office will receive a sum of money in their own right by way of pension in excess of that provided for under this bill, but if it is right that: the widow ought to receive support in the form of pensions provided by the Commonwealth, that support should be provided regardless of any election by a judge. After all, he would have to make an election, having in mind his own age and expectation of life and his wife’s age and expectation of life, and, probably persuaded by other factors also, make what is substantially a mathematical determination in the matter. His determination ought not to affect the right of a widow or children to receive pensions. Therefore, I urge not only that existing rights be preserved, as this bill does preserve them, but also that it ought not to be the subject of election by a judge whether his widow or children receive the pension which the bill otherwise provides. I put that submission notwithstanding the fact that I can see that an initial anomaly will thereby be created. I apprehend that the matter may need to be dealt with between the time the bill is disposed of in this chamber and in the Senate.
My second point arises in respect of clause 15. I know of no provision under existing legislation similar to that clause, fi I am wrong I shall be glad to be corrected. It reads -
A pension or allowance under this Act shall Ot, unless the Governor-General otherwise decides, be payable to a Judge, or to the widow and children of a Judge, who has been removed under section seventy-two of the Constitution. lt is well to see how wide that clause is. f believe that it ought to be omitted. Section 72 of the Constitution provides that a judge may be removed upon resolution of both Houses of the Parliament on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. At the moment I direct my attention to incapacity. Incapacity may arise from many causes which have no bearing whatever upon the moral standing or conduct of a judge. It could arise through deterioration of his mental faculties through no cause of his own to a stage when he is not capable of discharging his judicial duties. It has been a pleasant and significant feature of our judges that despite their ages they have been able to discharge their duties with distinguished ability in dealing with the difficult problems which have -come before them. However, I direct myself to the principle involved in this matter. If a judge, in fact, was removed on the ground of incapacity, whether or not through his own fault, no pension would be payable to him or to his widow or children unless the Governor-General, that is, the Executive or the Minister administering the measure, otherwise decides. Clause 6 provides that when a judge attains the age of 60 years and he has been a judge for ten years, he may retire upon a pension when those two conditions are fulfilled, equal to 27^ per cent, of his salary ; and if he continues in office until he reaches the age of 65 years, that is, for a further five years, in that went his pension increases by 2^ per cent, in respect of each additional vear until the maximum is reached. When he reaches the age of 65 years in those circumstances he has qualified for the maximum pension payable under this bill. But reading clause 6 with clause 15, one draws the inference that the latter is intended to act in terrorem against existing judges so as to hold over them a stick - unless they elect to come under this bill and then, in effect, accept the pension and get out, there is always the possibility that they will be removed on the ground of proved incapacity; and if that does happen they lose pension rights completely both for themselves and for their widows and children. I do not like clause 15. When a man has qualified for his pension and could retire the day after he reaches the prescribed age, 1 see no reason why, because he remains on the Bench and subsequently is by motion retired on the ground of proved incapacity, he should lose one penny of the pension for which he has already qualified. For example, a man does not lose his pension if he has retired and, subsequently, through old age has become incapacitated. Why, therefore, should he lose his pension if, in fact, he has already qualified and could retire, but from a sense of public duty or a desire to give his experience to the country remains for a further term of ten years on the Bench .and is then met with a resolution to remove him on the ground of proved incapacity? Furthermore, why should his removal, whether or not it be on the ground of misconduct on his part, and after he has qualified for a pension for himself and for his widow and children, disentitle his widow and children to what the bill provides for them? I should like to know why this particular clause has been inserted. I should like to know precisely what actuated the Government to insert this particular provision. It appears to me to be a new type of legislation. Why should it apply, in any event, in the case of incapacity to a man who has already qualified for pension under clause 6; and why, finally, in any event, .should it apply to disentitle his widow and children to what otherwise they would be entitled to under the provisions of the bill ? I regard those two matters as being of some importance and as marring what otherwise seems to me to bp a good bill.
Another point to which I wish to direct attention arises from clause 12 which reads as follows: -
Where a Judge has, prior to his appointment, served in any judicial office under a State-
the period of his service in that office ; or
the period of ten years, whichever is the less, shall, for the purposes of sections six and seven of this Act, be added to, and be deemed to be part of, his service as a judge.
It is well for us to observe the great distinction between judicial office under the Commonwealth Constitution and “ any judicial office under a State “. A person who is appointed to a judicial office under section 72 of the Commonwealth Constitution cannot be discharged from office except in certain circumstances. Normally, he is appointed for life. That is the ruling of the High Court and, in a case which went to the Privy Council, although it did not decide upon that point, the Privy Council seemed to share the view of the High Court. Under the Commonwealth Constitution, persons appointed to discharge judicial functions of importance in the community are appointed for life. That is not so in the States. Under clause 12 a judge who, prior to his appointment, has served in any judicial office under a State, is entitled to count his State service as part of his service as a Commonwealth judge for the purpose of determining his pension rights. Such a judge may have served for a period as a magistrate - an important office but one in which the duties performed bear no comparison with those performed by a justice of the High Court or a judge of the Arbitration Court. A person who serves in such a minor judicial office before his appointment to the High Court or to the Arbitration Court, may, under this clause, have his service in such minor office classed as service in a “judicial office under a State” and accordingly taken into account in assessing his pension. Frankly, I cannot understand why service in such a minor office should count. So that my argument may be seen in its true setting, I shall repeat the words of sub-clause 1 of clause 6. The sub-clause reads - (1.) Where a Judge who has attained the age of 60 years retires after serving as a judge for not less than ten years he shall, on retiring, be entitled to an annual pension at the rate of twenty-seven and one-half per centum of his salary and at the additional rate of two and one-half per centum of his salary for each completed year of service in excess of ten years, but so that the rate of pension shall not exceed forty per centum of his salary.
This extraordinary provision of clause 12 requires more consideration than has apparently been given to it by the Government. What is the reason for its inclusion in the bill? Why was it so worded ? If it is intended to apply only to those who have served under a State in a high judicial office, why does it not specifically say so? As the bill is drafted, “ any judicial office under a State “ will apply to and qualify for the provisions of clauses 6 and 7.
– The honorable gentleman should remember the position of the widows, about whom we have heard so much in this House.
– Before the right honorable gentleman returned to the chamber, I had made some observations on that point which I hope the Government will consider. It does not satisfy me for government spokesmen merely to say that such a provision can be justified because I conceive that under it two things might happen. First, a judge who has qualified for a pension under a State law may be entitled to draw a pension under this provision. The bill does not contain any qualifying provision to prevent such a judge from drawing two pensions in that way. Secondly, since service is one of the conditions under which a judge qualifies for a pension, why should service in any judicial office in a State, which may bear no comparison with service as a justice of the High Court or a judge of the Arbitration Court, be taken into consideration ?
– We dealt with that matter before in a bill.
– The Government may have done so, but not in a bill of this setting. I have already pointed out that a justice of the High Court or a judge of the Arbitration Court is not entitled to a pension unless two things co-exist - the attainment of an age of 60 years and completion of service as a judge for ten years. Under the provisions of clause 12. however, any judge who, prior to his appointment, served in any judicial office under a State - his service might merely have been in the office of a minor magistrate - is entitled to have such service counted as qualifying service for a pension. He is entitled to the same credit for such service as is a justice of the High Court who has served in that higher office for a similar period. Nothing can justify that-
– The honorable member is drawing a rather long bow.
– No bow is too long for this Government. Some of the appointments made or suggested by this Government could easily come within the provisions of clause 12. If it is not intended that the clause shall cover service in such minor offices it should be amended to provide that it shall apply only to those who have served in a judicial office under a State of a status equivalent to that of a Supreme Court judge. So that it may be understood that my point is well taken, I remind honorable members that the term “ judicial office “ has, at least on one occasion, been considered by the Privy Council. In the Shell case, the Privy Council held, if I may express the matter in general terms, that a man who has authority to mete out justice as between the subjects of the King discharges a judicial office. That decision shows how widely drawn is the clause.
Finally, I draw attention to the proviso to clause 7 which stipulates that if the widow of a judge who dies before retirement remarries her pension shall thereupon cease and determine. If the widow of such a judge remarries, there is no cogent reason why, during the period of her second marriage, she should have the support of her husband, and at the same time draw a widow’s pension. But what of her position should she survive her second spouse? It is well known that with the possible exception of the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), women over the aSe of 70 years have a greater expectation of life than have mere male members of the community of equal age. I cannot understand why such a disqualification should extend beyond the period of the widow’s remarriage. Although that is a minor point it should receive consideration by the Government. I trust that the Minister will furnish more information than has so far been furnished concerning the points of criticism which I have sought to make.
– in reply - I am happy that on this occasion I can assure the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) that the matters that he has .raised will be considered by the Government before the measure is transmitted to the Senate; but that does not mean, of course, that the Government has no answer to the criticisms he has made. The honorable member protested against the principle contained in clause 12 that a judge who has had, prior to his appointment to a Commonwealth court, judicial service under a State government should have his period of service with the State government taken into consideration in calculating his length of service with the Commonwealth. The honorable member mentioned the possibility that many State judicial officers who were not actually regarded as judges by the States, might claim to be covered by clause 12. I realize the force of the criticism made by the honorable member that we may be going too far, and his criticism will be considered. However, as a lawyer, the honorable member no doubt realizes, even more than I do, the difficulty which confronts a government in obtaining applications from really able lawyers for appointment to the bench. It is, of course, particularly important that appointees to various Commonwealth courts, and particularly the High Court and the Arbitration Court, should be of the utmost competence and professional eminence, and, therefore, if we are to attract lawyers with the requisite qualifications we must make proper provision for their social security-
– I have always considered that any one who accepts appointment as a judge should not expect to receive any further advantage, judicial or otherwise.
– There are degrees, even amongst judges, and the status of the judges of the several courts varies considerably. We- all know thedifference in their- degrees of precedence. When- a government has to fill judicial vacancies, prospective^ appointees always inquire what guarantees of security the Government proposes to give. Many years ago, legislation was passed by the States to provide pensions and reasonable security for State judges. As I understand the complaint of the honorable member, he does not so much criticize the Australian Government’s intention to do likewise, but he fears that the provision contained in clause 12 of the measure may involve the Commonwealth in a commitment to pay maximum pensions to a larger number of judicial appointees. The next point made by the honorable member related to-
– The right of judges to make an election, and the possibility of their widows and children being deprived of any rights except those which accrue from elections made by the judges.
– I understood that the honorable member extended his argument to cover the cases of widows and children of judges, and that he considered that the judges should not have any right of election.
– No. I said that the judges’ existing rights ought to be preserved, and that the rights of widows and children to pensions should not be dependent upon election by individual judges.
– The reason why provision is made that judges shall still exercise the right of election is that successive governments have entered into contracts with some of those who are at present occupying judicial positions. Prior to their appointments those judges naturally insisted on receiving certain assurances of their future conditions, and they were given definite assurances. In the light of those assurances members of the present Government consider that they would be guilty of a breach of faith if they altered those conditions without the consent of the judicial officers concerned. Under the present measure a judge is offered a free choice between the kinds of pension to which he may contribute. The next point made by the honorable member is that, if a judge remarries after the decease of his first wife, the children of his subsequent marriage should be properly protected. I shall ask the Acting Attorney-General to review that provision in the measure.
The honorable member complained of clause 15, which reach* -
A pension or allowance under this Act shall not, unless the Governor-General otherwise decides, be payable to a Judge, or to the widow and children of a Judge, who hasbeen removed under section 72 of the Constitution.
No new principle is contained in thai provision. The legislation under which pensions are paid to officers of the armed services provides that an officer who is dismissed from the service, or is suspended in certain circumstances, shall not be entitled to payment of any pension, notwithstanding that he may have completed as much as 99 per cent, of the period of service necessary to entitle him to payment of a pension-
– Why should such officers not receive a pension?
– I do not know. As a matter of fact, before I became a member of the Government I introduced deputations to Ministers protesting against such a provision. However, when we consider the terms of section 72 of the Constitution, which provides that a judge can only be removed by decision of the Governor-General in Council after presentation of an address by both Houses of the Parliament, we realize that he must be guilty of some striking and extraordinary misconduct.
– Why should that provision be imported into this bill?.
– In the combined wisdom of members of the Government it is thought necessary to retain that provision, although every honorable member must realize that it is extremely unlikely that any judge will be guilty of such misconduct as would lead to his removal from office. I do not consider that there is much likelihood of the Government accepting an amendment to clause 15, but I think that the Acting Attorney-General may give serious consideration to the other two amendments suggested by the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Holloway) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to make provision for pensions for judges of courts established under laws of the Commonwealth and to make provision for the families of such judges, and for other purposes.
Resolution reported and - by leave - adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Clauses 1 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9- (1.) On the death of a person who is or has been a Judge, an allowance at the rate of One pound per week shall be paid in respect of each of his, or his widow’s, children . . .
– The clause in. its present form leaves the way open for an allowance to be paid to a person to whom the Government has no desire that it should be paid. I move -
That, in sub-clause (1.), the words “is or has been a Judge “, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - “ is a Judge or was, immediately prior to his death, in receipt of a pension under section six of this Act “.
If the amendment is agreed to, the children of a deceased judge who was not, immediately prior to his death, in receipt of a pension under clause 6, will not be entitled to receive the allowance that is referred to in this clause.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.
Clause 12 (Prior judicial service under a State).
.- Clause 12 presupposes that judges of the High Court or of any of the other Commonwealth courts may have served previously in another judicial office.I believe that it is exceedingly bad to hold out the opportunity of promotion to any person who is appointed to a judicial office. My experience as a Minister proved to me that there are some judges and people holding magisterial positions who are prepared . to make themselves very pleasant to those in power in the hope that they will be appointed to more important judicial positions. In my very firm view, a man, having been appointed to a judicial office, should never be given any hope of appointment to a higher judicial office.
– I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender). Any one with experience of courts of law knows that this is a very dangerous principle to introduce into legislation. There are no party implications in this question. The clause involves an important principle, which the committee should examine. In a State, a judge is appointed to the Supreme Court either as Chief Justice or as a puisne judge. If he be appointed as a puisne judge, the principle, which has sometimes been departed from although it has, until lately, been well accepted by governments and by those who make a study of jurisprudence and legal principles, is that, having been appointed to that position, he should stay there and should not look for further advancement. It may be asked why not. The essence of judicial appointments is that the appointees should be impartial and should have nothing to hope for from any government. If a judicial officer, having been appointed to a junior judicial position, thinks that at some future stage of his career he may, by following a certain course of conduct, be able to obtain advancement, he may act accordingly. We should do our utmost to prevent such a state of affairs from occurring and to put out of the reach of any holder of a judicial office the hope that he may be able to benefit from his decisions. It should not matter one jot or tittle to a judge or a magistrate what happens when a case is decided. In the Commonwealth courts, the judges are appointed for life, and in some of the State courts they are appointed until they are 70 years of age. Their salaries are large, although they are not, in my opinion, sufficiently large. “We pay large salaries to our judges because we wish them to be free, not only from financial anxiety, but also from ambition. This is a wrong principle to introduce into legislation, and I support the view that was expressed by the honorable member for Warringah.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 13 and 14 agreed to.
Clause 15 -
A pension or allowance under this Act shall not, unless the Governor-General otherwise decides, be payable to a Judge, or to the widow and children of a Judge, who has been removed under section seventy-two of the Constitution.
.- 1 do not propose to repeat what I said in my second-reading speech, but nothing said by the Minister (Mr. Holloway) in hi9 reply has convinced me that there is any justification for this clause. The honorable gentleman said that the possibility of an address from both Houses of the Parliament praying for the removal of a judge under section 72 of the Constitution is so remote that we may as well dismiss it from our minds, ff that is so, we may as well dismiss this clause from the bill. This provision has never before been applied to judicial appointments, and it could be used as a form of intimidation of judges. At present, judges who have qualified for their pensions have rights established by law; but, under this legislation, which seeks to make a vital alteration of the existing position, if they are removed under section 72 of the Constitution their pension rights will disappear overnight. I asked the Minister whether this was something new, and he conceded that it was. He has sought to justify it by saying that a similar provision applies in respect of high military officers, but that is no reason why this provision should be applied to judges. Military officers are subject to ministerial control, and the Executive can direct them as to what they shall, do. Under the Constitution, judges are a part of the government of this country. They are not, happily, the subject of direction by the Executive. The Constitution provides for the Executive, the Parliament, and the judiciary. By this clause, the Par liament is, in effect, saying to thejudges that, although they may have qualified for their pensions by virtue of many years of service to the country, if, following an address from both Houses of the Parliament, they are removed from their positions on the ground of incapacity, they will forfeit their pension rights and, in addition, the rights of their widows or children to bd allowance. I see no justification foi such a provision. I feel so strongly about this matter that I shall, if necessary,, divide the committee upon it.
– It is not proposed to put into this measure anything in relation to an offence that is not in the Constitution.
– Yes, it is.
– It is possible now, under the Constitution, for a judge to be removed for misbehaviour or incapacity. To that degree, this bill does not propose anything new. It seeks, however, to add that a pension or allowance under this legislation shall not, unless the GovernorGeneral otherwise decides, be payable to a judge or to the widow and children of a judge, who has been removed under the provisions of the Constitution. If the honorable member considers the point that he has raised is of serious moment I promise him that the Acting Attorney-General (Senator McKenna) shall examine it. I cannot accept the amendment. As the honorable member knows, the Acting Attorney-General is in another place. I have been given permission to say that such matters as that raised by the honorable member will be examined by him before the bill is passed by the Senate.
– I have been interested in the remarks of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and in the answer given to him by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). The Government must have a reason for introducing the clause now being debated, yet no satisfactory reason has been given by the Minister. It is quite possible, as the honorable member for Warringah has pointed out, that an individual who had given long service of a very efficient and capable nature, could commit an act thaI might call for action by the Government under section 72 of the Constitution. Notwithstanding the good service that that individual had already rendered, he would lose all his pension rights, and his wife and children would suffer. The Government must have some particular instance in mind, lt ought to be able to lay before the House the circumstances in which a person who had rendered valuable service to the community might transgress and bo the object of action taken under section 72. The Minister should be able to say, “ In such and such circumstances we would consider that such and such penalties would be justified “. 1 ask the Minister to give to the House an illustration of the circumstances that would apply. Let him tell the House what he has in mind. If he can do that he may justify the inclusion of the clause. Otherwise, its inclusion is not justified in any way.
– All I desire to say, in addition to what I have already said, is that the Government is simply acting in accordance with the Constitution. Under section 72 of the Constitution, a judge is treated the same as anybody else ; if he so misbehaves as to justify punishment he shall be punished. The punishment that already exists for offences will apply also to the pensions now being granted to judges - pensions that they were not entitled to before.
.- I regret taking up the time of the committee, but I am moved to do so by the unsatisfactory nature of the Minister’s reply. The provision in the clause is a new departure as applied to the judicial office and no reason has been advanced for its inclusion in the bill. Who prepares the legislation placed before this Parliament? Are bills to be brought before us and the Minister in charge of them to be unable to give the reasons behind a particular provision to which we are asked to give our approval? Under any responsible government is not a measure of- such importance as the present one, a matter of policy? This limitation on the provision for pensions for judges. Surely some one on the ministerial level is responsible for it. Whoever is responsible for it must have a reason for it. I am compelled to believe that there is a reason that has not been disclosed. I shall indicate how the provision contained in the bill could work in respect of existing members of the High Court. Honorable members know the views of the Labour Government about some of the present High Court justices. I do not desire to introduce a controversial note into the debate, but the fact is that here is a clause which says, in effect, to the present justices on the High Court Bench, “ Under existing legislation you have a right to receive a certain pension. But you can lose it by government regulation “. Under section 48a of the Judiciary Act judges are entitled to a pension when they have completed fifteen years of service whether they are removed under section 72 of the Constitution or not. The Minister has said that nothing is being changed by this provision. He has said in effect, “ It is all very simple. After all it is only a clause of four lines and we should not bother to hold up the business of the chamber over four lines. We are doing nothing more than the Constitution provides “. It is true that the Government cannot add to the Constitution, and under section 72 of it both Houses may, by appropriate resolution, ask that any judge shall be removed from judicial office. But it is not true that clause 15 will not alter the existing rights of the judge. I took the pains to point out that, under the Judiciary Act, whether a judge is removed from office or not, once he has qualified for his pension nothing can be done by any government to deprive him of it. But this bill may deprive judges of their pension rights in certain circumstances. Clause 15 reads -
A pension or allowance under this Act should not, unless the Governor-General otherwise decides, be payable to a Judge, or to the widow and children of a Judge, who has been removed under section seventy-two of the Constitution.
Of course, one gets the impression from such verbiage that the Governor-General sits down and says, “ Is it right or not right ? “ We know that, as a matter of constitutional practice, the GovernorGeneral accepts the advice of the Minister, which means that in practice the Attorney-General of the day makes the decision. I am not speaking of to-day but of any day, perhaps of 50 years hence, because this legislation will endure indefinitely until it is amended.
– Would the honorable member agree that a judge who had committed an offence such as to cause both Houses of Parliament to dismiss him, should still draw the taxpayers’ money in the form of a pension?
– Unquestionably if incapacity be the ground he should draw his pension if he had already qualified for it. That has been so ever since Commonwealth pensions for judges were introduced. Persons entitled to pensions have retained their pension rights irrespective of what happened. The Minister mentioned in his second-reading speech the preservation of the impartiality of the Bench, where fearless men would give their judgments without fear of consequences to themselves. Yet judges are told in effect by the Government, “ If we remove you under section 72 of the Constitution your rights are gone “. I do not know whether the Government intends by this clause to suggest to the High Court judges that they had better get out now-
– Would the provision apply only to those appointed in the future ?
– No. It would apply to the present judges and to judges appointed in the future. All pension rights of a judge, his wife and children vTll be dependent on a resolution of both Houses of Parliament. It is symptomatic of the corruption of democracy that we have a Government whose will both Houses of the Parliament will follow to the letter because it has the necessary numbers in each House. Under section 72 of the Constitution a judge may not be removed solely because of misbehaviour. There must also be the ground of incapacity. I took pains to point out that “ incapacity” might refer to a number of factors.
– In order to elicit the Government’s reason for including this clause in the bill, I move -
That the words “, unless the GovernorGeneral otherwise decides, be payable to a judge, or to the widow and children of a judge, who has been removed under section seventy-two of the Constitution “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ be payable to a judge who has been removed under section seventy-two of the Constitution on the ground of misbehaviour being proved misdemeanour or felony under the law of the Commonwealth or of a State “.
The clause will then read, as follows: -
A pension or allowance under this Act shall not be payable to a Judge who has been removed under section seventy-two of the Constitution on the ground of misbehaviour being a proved misdemeanour or felony under the law of the Commonwealth or a State.
I submit the amendment because i believe that the clause, in its present form, will be, in effect, a weapon which the Government can use in terrorem against judges. The clause will permit the Government, at its discretion, to have a judge removed from office on the ground of incapacity. I point out that the word “incapacity” is of very wide content. I cannot see any reason why the Government should refuse to accept the amendment. The Opposition agrees that the Government should have power to remove a judge from office on the ground of misbehaviour being a proved misdemeanour or felony under the laws of the Commonwealth or a State and that penalties should flow from that misbehaviour but my argument is directed to the word “ incapacity “. Under section 72 of the Constitution, a justice of the High Court or a judge of any other Commonwealth court may be removed from office by the Governor-General in Council - on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session, praying for such removal on the grounds of proved misbehaviour or incapacity.
As I have stated, the word “ incapacity “ is of such wide content that it may be a powerful weapon in the hands of the government of the day. A judge who, by virtue of his period of service, becomes entitled to a pension, should not be deprived of his pension rights on an address from both Houses, of the Parliament, praying for bis removal from office on the ground of hia incapacity. After a judge has given excellent service to the Commonwealth for many years, incapacity may arise from causes completely beyond his control. Members of the Opposition are prepared to concede that a pension should not be granted to a judge who ‘ has been proved guilty of a misdemeanour or a felony under the law of the Commonwealth or a State. We consider that the discretionary power in the clause should be removed. In our opinion, certain objective facts should determine the right or otherwise of a judge to receive a pension. We consider that the reference to the widow and children of a judge should be left out on the principle that an action of a judge should not penalize his widow or children. The clause in its present form may make the widow and children punishable for an act of the judge himself.
This clause embodies a principle. I have endeavoured to ascertain from the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is in charge of the bill, the reason for the inclusion of the clause. So far, the honorable gentleman has not offered, an explanation. I should also like to know who is responsible for the drafting of the clause. If the Minister, or Cabinet as a whole, was responsible, I invite the honorable gentleman to explain the reason for it. Why does the Government propose to penalize a judge irrespective of the degree or causes of incapacity? Why are the widow and children to be made responsible for the degree of incapacity in respect of which a judge is removed from office under section 72 of the Constitution?
– The honorable member may rest assured that the clause was drafted after a very wide consultation.
– The interjection by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) intrigues me greatly. Perhaps the right honorable gentleman will give, in clear language, the explanation that the Minister for Labour and National Service has been quite incapable of conveying to the committee. I do not criticize the Minister in that respect, because I do not believe that he has been told, the reason for the insertion of this clause in the bill.
But some Minister, on behalf of the Government, should give the reason, and it will need to be an overwhelming reason before I shall be satisfied. The independence of justices of the High Court and judges of other Commonwealth courts should at all times be upheld by the government of the day.
I have made it perfectly clear, in dealing with this subject, that I am not concerned in any way with party politics, and I am certain that those honorable members who have heard my speech will agree that I have approached the matter from a purely objective stand-point. I have dealt only with principles. The clause should certainly be amended, so that it will not be left to a Minister to determine, after a judge has been removed from office, whether he or his widow and children should receive a pension. In any event, the widow and children should be completely absolved from any act of the judge if he is otherwise entitled to a pension. No disqualification should be imposed to deprive a judge or his widow and children of a pension, unless upon the grounds stated in my amendment. The clause, as amended, will go as far as it should go in point of justice, but beyond that I am totally opposed to the provision. If the Government does not accept my amendment, I shall divide the committee in an endeavour to elicit the principle upon which this clause is based.
.- 1 support the amendment. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has clarified the position admirably. A judge earns a pension by virtue of the services which he renders in Commonwealth courts for many years. But a judge may suffer an apoplectic seizure, or degeneration of the nerves, so that he is unable to take his place on the Bench, and the Governor-General in Council, on an address from both Houses of the Parliament in the same session, may remove him from office on the ground of proved incapacity. In such circumstances, a judge should not be debarred from receiving a pension. I urge the Government to re-examine the clause from that stand-point.
I agree that a judge, who had been removed from office on the ground of misbehaviour, being a proved misdemeanour or felony under the law of the Commonwealth or a State, should not receive a pension. Nobody desires that a judge should be given a pension if he has been corrupt, for instance. If he has prostituted his position in that way, it would be wrong to pay him a pension. Therefore, I agree with that part of the proposed amendment which would eliminate the claims of a judge who so misbehaved. But why should his wife and children be penalized? They would not be guilty of corruption and, by reason of their dependence upon the judge, they should be entitled to a pension. Surely it is not the obligation of this Parliament to pursue the wife and children of an unfortunate judge who may suffer a lapse. His misconduct would not justify such extraordinary action. It would be neither wise nor just. When a man is found guilty of an offence by ordinary criminal process, we do not declare that his wife and children shall be ineligible for superannuation, pensions or other benefits. This subject must be treated realistically. The pensions payable to judges are to be reduced so that provision may be made for their wives and children. Therefore, it seems to me to be a very reasonable proposal that wives and children should be excluded from the provisions of this clause.
– I cannot understand why the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) is not prepared to rise and reply to the reasonable request that was made by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) when he moved the amendment which we are now considering.
– I answered it this afternoon when the Acting Leader of the Opposition was not in the chamber.
– The amendment was moved after the committee reassembled this evening, and I have been in the chamber . ever since then. The Minister should be attentive to the proceedings and not make charges that are entirely unjustified. This clause states -
A pension or allowance under this Act shall not, unless the Governor-General otherwise decides, be payable to a Judge, or to the widow and children of a Judge, who has been removed under section seventy-two of the Constitution.
Section 72 of the Constitution states -
The Justices of the High Court and of the other courts created by the Parliament -
The Constitution clearly specifies misbehaviour or incapacity. This provision seeks to strike not only at judges who might be found guilty of misbehaviour or be proved to be incapable, but also at their wives and children. I want to dispense with all forensic subtleties in this matter and approach it merely as a layman. It seems to me that a justice of the High Court or a judge of the Supreme Court who is found guilty of a misdemeanour or a felony should be punished, and that this clause should be drafted in such a way as to provide for his punishment. However, on the subject of incapacity, I ask honorable members to realize that the justices of the High Court are appointed for life. Already some responsible Ministers and supporters of the Government have attacked certain members of the High Court and have said that they show incapacity for their work. Therefore, it seems to me that this clause has been inserted in the bill merely for the purpose of intimidation. Judges have been charged with incapacity because, forsooth, they will not bend themselves to government direction or give judgments according to the wishes of the Government. It seems to me that the Government is saying to the justices of the High Court, in effect, “ If you are not prepared to bend yourselves to government direction, then we, having already charged you with incapacity- “
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order ! The honorable gentleman should not pursue that line of argument. If he does so, other honorable members will be entitled to reply, but honorable members are not entitled to attack the judiciary in discussing this measure.
– I am pointing to the reasons underlying the inclusion of this clause in the bill because the Minister will not do so. He is absolutely silent on the subject. What purpose lies behind the clause? Why should the Government declare, at this juncture, “We propose to take action that will enable us to remove all pension rights of certain justices”? This clause proposes the infliction of penalties which have never previously been provided in law. I am seeking to find the reason for such action. As I have said, I do not approach the subject with the forensic subtlety of the honorable member for Warringah and other learned legal gentlemen in this chamber. I am trying to discuss it from the commonsense point of view of the layman in order to find out the true reason for the insertion of the clause. If there is no substance in what I have said, the Government could easily accept the amendment. It would preserve the rights of wives and children of justices of the High Court or judges of the Supreme Court, and of those who, upon reaching a certain age, might be declared by honorable members on the government side of the chamber to be incapable of carrying out their judicial duties. Let us be blunt. The Government says to the justices of the High Court, “ When you reach an age at which we consider that you can no longer carry out your duties with capacity, you must retire. If you do not retire, we shall penalize you, because we shall pass a resolution in the Parliament to declare that you are incapable of carrying out your duties “. If the Government carries out that threat, it will not only penalize the justices but also will pursue their wives and children and deprive them of the rights that their husbands and fathers have established over a lifetime.
– I am afraid that the honorable member has a bad mind.
– I have not. I say to the Minister that, if the Government takes away from the wives and children of judges the rights that they have hitherto enjoyed, unless it has some reason for that action-
– The wives and children of judges have never had pensions.
– The wives and children of judges have not had pension rights but judges have had them. By means of this clause the Government may deprive not only the judges but also their wives and children of the benefits that, should flow from the bill. The clause implies intimidation. Therefore, if the Government has no intention of imposing some form of intimidation upon judges, it should readily accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Warringah. If it refuses to accept the amendment, the Minister should clearly state why it will not do so. He should also explain why the clause has been drafted so that it will apply in the event of incapacity and enable the Government to take action that has never been taken up to date against a justice of the High Court. I ask the Minister for an explanation because I repeat that I am very much aware of the attacks that have been made upon the judiciary by members on the other side of the chamber.
– The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) said that he could not imagine that the Government would reject the amendment. He has a very poor imagination. That is all I have to say about the matter. The story of this provision is simple. I understand that justices of the High Court have considered for many years that provision ought to be made for their wives should they be widowed. This matter came up for consideration a couple of years ago. A number of honorable members on this side of the committee felt that the justices of the High Court were already fairly treated. The Government, however, decided that provision should be made for their widows and children. Anxiety must be felt by a judge if adequate provision has not been made for his wife and children. Opposition members have suggested that in a number of instances this measure will operate harshly because of certain circumstances.
That is all nonsense. 1 recall the case of a judge, who had not been appointed by this Government, who was forced to retire, due to a physical disability. He was not in the best of circumstances. The Government dealt with that case sympathetically. Previous justices of the High Court have said that there should be some provision for the widows of judges. Although I am not prepared to go into great detail at this stage, I can assure the committee that this bill has been introduced only after inquiries over a very wide field. Consultations have taken place with eminent legal authorities in regard to its provisions. Although it has been suggested that the bill does not cover all possible contingencies, the Government was not prepared to deal with any one specific case. I point out that the present judges will he able to elect whether they desire to come under the provisions of this bill. There are no grounds for the sinister suggestion that was made by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) in this regard. In effect, each existing Commonwealth judge will himself decide whether be wishes to avail himself of the opportunity to provide for his widow, in the event of his death. All persons appointed to the High Court Bench in the future will automatically come under the provisions of this measure. Because of the varying circumstances of the present justices of the High Court, it has been suggested that in some instances they may not wish to take advantage of these provisions, because they do not consider that it would, be to their material advantage to do so. As I have already said, it will not be compulsory for them to come under this scheme, if they do not wish to do so. As honorable members will readily understand, it would be a difficult matter to obtain opinions on this measure from all those who may be affected. Although High Court justices do not, generally, form deputations to the Government on matters of this kind, there are other ways of ascertaining their mind.
– By having a look at their investments?
– The honorable gentleman would be well advised to leave that aspect alone, because it would not stand airing. Due to the different cir cumstances of the High Court justices, in some instances this measure will prove of no advantage. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), Professor Bailey and others have considered those aspects. It was decided finally that the judge himself would be in the best position to decide whether he should come under the provisions of this measure. In future, of course, Commonwealth judges will be appointed under these conditions. They will thus know precisely the terms of their engagement.
The honorable member for “Warringah raised some technical and legal points relating to the measure, based on the equity of law. Whilst an examination of those aspects will be made by the Acting Attorney-General and legal officers associated with the department before the bill is transmitted to the Senate, I point out that it is unusual for those for whom provision is made in a measure to be allowed the option of deciding whether they shall accept the advantages offered. One rather senses that the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) has a very suspicious mind in these matters. The Government is not prepared to accept any amendments, because this matter has been given a great deal of thought and has been examined carefully by eminent legal minds.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has treated the committee to an all-time classic high in his rambling around the mulberry bush. I remind the committee that although we are dealing with clause 15, the Prime Minister dealt with every clause except it. I feel that it is encumbent on me to point out to the committee exactly how the provision of the clause will work in practice. When the right honorable gentleman said that judges had been more than fairly treated, I assume that he means that judges who have been on the Bench for twenty or 30 years are so treated because they will receive a pension equal to about half their salary. I do not agree that that is fair treatment. I know something of High Court work, and I say without hesitation that the pension to be provided for such justices is not over-generous, having regard to the fact that they have spent, nol only the prime, but, indeed, the evening of their lives performing the arduous duties of their office. The Prime Minister has merely drawn a red herring across the trail. I point out that all High Court and other judicial appointments under the Commonwealth are for life. Paragraph ii of section 72 of the Constitution provides that persons so appointed cannot be removed1 from office except for proved misbehaviour or incapacity, or by votes of both Houses of the Parliament. The paragraph contains the words - ‘“proved incapacity or misbehaviour”, and it is obvious that any Parliament that was called upon to pass a resolution for the removal of a judge, would have to act as both judge and jury. That is bad enough, but at least Lt is what the Constitution provides. But now there is to be added a new provision which is not in any other legislation. We are being asked to provide that any judge who is so removed is to be deprived of certain rights which are conferred upon him by the Constitution and by the Judiciary Act. Therefore, an additional threat is to be held over the heads of judges. There is now before the chamber an amendment limiting the grounds for removal to proved felonies or misdemeanours. It is unfortunate that we have had to draw attention to this matter because no such case has even occurred in this country, nor is it likely to occur. However, that exception is made in the amendment, therefore, we are left to consider the question of “ incapacity “. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) pointed out, that incapacity could take many forms. A judge may be growing old and, although under the Constitution he has been appointed for life, a particular government may not like him or his judgments, and may deem his age to constitute incapacity. It may well happen that, with the trend of political events in this country, some future government - I do not say this Government - will seek to remove a judge from office on grounds which both Houses of the Parliament, in other words the executive of any government which controls both Houses, may consider to be incapacity. I do not like that because I consider that it is in the nature of n threat hanging over the heads of judges. Now, we find that there is to be added ttit a provision never contemplated by tin Constitution, that in the event of a judge being so removed - I stress again that th, Executive is both judge and jury - In and his widow and children willose all his pension rights. That is something which, I contend, this Parliament should not stomach. The Prime Minister has said that the Government will not accept any amendments, and I realize that the amendment now under consideration will be defeated, but I hope that the people of Australia who are listening to-night, as many members of this committee are listening, will come to the conclusion that the Government is taking an unreasonable and dictatorial attitude on this matter.
The Prime Minister said that this clause would apply only to judges who elected to participate in the new system. That is misrepresenting the bill entirely. Under the Judiciary Act as it now stands, a judge is paid a certain salary, and is entitled to a pension of half of his salary when he retires, regardless of the reason for his retirement. It is true that he may elect to come in within certain provisionof this measure; but even if he does not so elect he will still bt caught by this clause. That is to say. whether he is one of the present judges now entitled to receive a pension of half his salary with no special allowance for his widow or children, or whether he is a judge appointed under the new scheme envisaged by this bill, he will still be liable, if he is removed because of incapacity, to be deprived of his pension rights. I say, therefore, for the Prime Minister to state that the matter is entirely one for the judges themselves to decide, is wrong. As I have said, they will all be caught by this clause whether they like it or not. A case could perhaps be made out for depriving a judge of his pension rights should his removal result from some illegality such as corruption or fraud on his part, and that contingency is covered by the amendment. The word “ incapacity “ is as long as the chancellor’? foot,’ to use a common legal saying. Its meaning is vague and nebulous. It is a matter to be determined by the government of the day which may well hold ideas of which nobody else in the Parliament will approve. The provision is much wider than the one now in existence. It constitutes a threat to judges which may be used to prevent them from being impartial in the future. I believe that every honorable member should vote for the amendment
– Laymen naturally are usually rather dubious about crossing swords with legal giants, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Of course, we cannot expect the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) who is not a lawyer to know very much about technical matters of this kind. He could only speak of cheating, robbing, and sinister motives. This provision is more generous than the one now in existence. It does not take anything away from members of the judiciary and it offers to them certain additional benefits. We cannot take seriously the feeble, hypocritical references by honorable members opposite to depriving widows and children of their livelihood. I do not think that any High Court justice to-day has children under sixteen years of age, nor is that contingency likely to arise except in isolated cases. I emphasize that nothing is being taken away from the dependents of High Court justices, because no provision is made for them at present. No provision has ever been made for the dependants of High Court justices, and there will not be any such provision unless this legislation is passed. Therefore let us get back to some of the serious aspects of the measure. The Constitution provides for the payment of pensions to High Court justices and other judges upon retirement, but does not make any reference to the payment of pensions to judges who have been removed from office under section 72. This clause deals with the removal of judges from office for an offence such as bribery, corruption, or murder.
– What about incapacity?
– That is covered by this legislation, but not by the existing law. This measure is more generous from every point of view than the existing legislation. This clause provides that judges who are removed from office shall lose their pensions. That is the law to-day. At present, a judge who retires is entitled to a pension, but a judge who is removed from office is not. Now, the Government is proposing to provide something which has not been provided hitherto. I refer to allowances for the dependants of deceased judges. The bill > provides that if, because of some offence a judge is removed from office by a resolution of both Houses of the Parliament,, sitting in the one session, he shall losehis pension, and in addition, the further benefits that this legislation provides shall be lost to his family. Should that happen, no child will lose its pension., because the provision applies only to existing judges. The fears of honorable members opposite that there is something sinister in this legislation, can only apply to present judges. The Acting Leader of the Opposition seems to believe that the Government wishes to rid the High Court of certain justices. He would not suggest that the Government would want to remove any judge whom it appointed in the future. I remind the committee that one judge, not of the High Court, but of the Arbitration Court, was removed from the bench on the grounds of incapacity, at his own request. Legal members of this chamber will know the gentleman to whom I am referring. He felt that he was incapable of carrying out his duties because of a physical disability. He was Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court. I shall not mention his name, but he was a very fine gentleman. This Government treated him more generously than he expected. He did not think that he would get better. He did get better and is carrying on a business. To his credit he has refused to accept the pension. I should not have mentioned that but for the fact that the Prime Minister forgot to do so. That was a case of incapacity. This clause provides -
A pension or allowance under this Act shall not, unless the Governor-General otherwise decides, he payable to a Judge, or to the widow and children of a Judge, who have been removed under section seventy-two of the Constitution.
Surely no one suggests that the Government, which, under this legislation, proposes to give to Commonwealth judges an advantage they have not hitherto enjoyed, would treat unfairly a judge forced into retirement by physical incapacity. The legislation proposes to give to the widows and children of judges pensions, which no previous legislation has ever given to them. Judges, because of their position, have to live at a high standard. They spend thousands of pounds on the education of their children. Those facts were given to us as a reason why it would be a good thing to provide pensions for the widows and children of judges. These are days when it is regarded as essential that every one, regardless of station, shall be provided with security. It is not true to suggest that we are taking anything from any one. I repeat once more, for the benefit of the Acting Leader of the Opposition, the promise given by the Prime Minister that the logical and wise points made by the honorable member for Warringah will be referred to the Acting Attorney-General for examination before the bill passes through the Senate. The Acting Leader of the Opposition was either not present when the promise was made or was too “ dopey “ to understand it. We did not mean the bill to be harmful to our judges, and, should there be anything harmful to them in it, it will be removed. Section 72 of the Constitution does not make any provision for the payment of pensions to judges removed from office. Happily, I cannot remember any judge having been removed and probably no judge ever will be removed, but section 72 is in the Constitution and must be observed. We did not put it there and we cannot take it out. I do not think that the taxpayers of Australia should be expected to meet the cost of pensions for judges who render themselves unfit for office and so have to be removed. Nor should the public have to provide for pensions to the dependants of such judges. Our High Court justices are treated fairly, though perhaps not so well as they should be treated. The justices are almost the final arbiters of the meaning of the laws that we pass, and so are among the most highly placed persons in the community. Few cases go beyond them to the Privy Council. The amendment cannot be accepted.
.- I am reluctant to take up the time of the committee, but the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General (Mr. Holloway) is apparently quite uninformed on the real issue. I propose to deal with certain matters that he has referred to in order to demonstrate that what he has said was quite wrong. He said that the clause gave something that was not given before and did not take anything away. That is obviously wrong, because clause 5 provides -
The Acts specified in the first column of the Schedule are amended as respectively specified in the second column of the Schedule and, as so amended, may be cited as respectively specified in the third column of the Schedule.
The schedule provides for the repeal of section 48a of the Judiciary Act. That means that the provisions of the Judiciary Act under which the High Court justices were appointed, and by the sole virtue of which they receive pensions on retirement, are to go.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order ! The honorable member must confine himself to the clause.
– I am confining myself to the clause.
– The honorable member is speaking on the schedule.
– The Minister said that the bill proposed to give something and to take nothing away. The provisions of section 48a of the Judiciary Act are being taken away from the judges.
– The schedule is not before the committee and the honorable member is not entitled to debate it now.
-I am answering the Minister, who said that the bill gave something and took nothing away. When this bill becomes law, High Court justices will have no rights to pensions under the Judiciary Act, and their rights will stem from the proposed Judges’ Pensions Act. Therefore, it is clear that if that is correct - and the Minister’s legal advisers may check this - the whole pension rights of judges, past, present and future, will stem from the new law. I answer the Minister by saying that this bill takes from judges the terms under which they were appointed. Justices of the High Court were appointed under the Judiciary Act, which, from 1926, gave them certain rights in certain events. Those events are now affected by the clause now before the committee, which must be read with clause 1 3 (4), which provides -
A Judge who is serving as such at the date of commencement of this Act and who does not make any election in pursuance of subsection (2.) of this Section shall retain any right to pensions to which he was entitled, immediately prior to the commencement of this Act, under any provision of an Act specified in the first column of the Schedule, and that provision shall continue to apply to and in relation to that Judge as if the Act so specified had not been amended as provided in this Act.
Pensions, or allowances, payable under this measure include those payable to both existing judges and future appointees, and the clause which the committee is considering provides that, unless the Governor-General otherwise decides, judges shall, in the event of incapacity or misbehaviour, be deprived of rights to which, otherwise, they were entitled. The Minister said that, if the Governor-General should decide otherwise, the matter would be left to the Government and the Government would do the right thing. I am not prepared to trust any government to do what is called the right thing, because ideas as to what is the “right thing” vary largely according to the views of the people exercising power. If, in fact, the Government decided to-morrow that any existing judge was, because of age, or some physical or mental infirmity, incapable in its opinion of discharging the duties of his high office, it could carry a resolution of both Houses of the Parliament and automatically under this provision the judge would be deprived of any claim. Then, whatever pension he might get, if he got any at all, would be granted at the discretion of the Government. That is the whole vice of the clause. This clause, as I have been at pains to point out, applies to all present judges and all future appointees. Et is clearly beyond dispute that the provision will apply in respect of future judges. If the bill is passed, pensions of existing judges will stem from this measure. This clause provides that in certain circumstances, depending upon the decision of the Executive, pensions or allowances under this measure shall not he payable to a judge.
Secondly, the provision, “ unless the Governor-General otherwise decides “, is purely a matter of discretion. It gives no legal right to a judge who will have over his head at all times this provision, which could operate against his fearlessness and independence, and these are of prime significance to the preservation of democracy. Judges will have held over them this provision that a government, which has control of both Houses of the Parliament, can remove them from office on the ground of incapacity and say to them, “If we do that, you will lose all your rights. Could anything be more calculated to destroy the impartiality and independence of our high judicial officers? As to the widows or children of judges, the Minister said that nothing is being done to affect them. That is obviously wrong, because whether a judge’s widow or children will receive any pension at all will depend upon whether a motion of both Houses of the Parliament is passed to remove a judge from office on the ground of incapacity or otherwise. The Government, in its social services legislation, provides that when a man is convicted of a criminal offence and is sentenced to gaol, his wife shall nonetheless be eligible for social service benefit. But, in relation to judges the Government is prepared to deprive their wives and children of any pension. We stand steadfast against any proposition that this Government, or any government, to-day, to-morrow or 30 years hence, shall have in its hands a weapon to say to judges, “ Retire or else “. That is the best way I can sum up the matter. When I asked the Government to advance a reason for the inclusion of this clause, which the Minister said was new and novel, in its application to judges’ pensions-
-. - I did not say it was “ novel “.
– “ New “ substantially means “ novel “. At all events this provision is new; it has not been applied before in respect of the pensions of judges. Therefore, I should like to know why the Government has included this provision in the bill. I have invited the Prime Minister (Mr.” Chifley), since the Minister for Labour and National
Service would not or was incapable of telling the committee - not because he is mentally incapable, but because he has not assimilated the instructions of his legal officers - to give a reason for the inclusion of this provision. I invited the Prime Minister to -give that reason, but he dealt with every clause of the bill except this one. My whole point is that this clause places in the hand of any government a weapon which it will be able to apply against any judge. “We are not unaware that certain members of the Labour party hold the view that certain members of the High Court ought not to be there. Here is a political weapon which enables them to say to any judge, “If you get off the Bench now you will enjoy pensions for yourself and, if you elect, for your widow and children; but if you do not get off the Bench now you may lose all. because under this provision, if we pass a resolution of both Houses of the Parliament to remove you from office, you will be left without any pension at all “. I regard this provision as one of the most serious infringements of judicial rights that one could imagine. It is the obligation of every honorable member to uphold the judiciary. Regardless of who constitute it, it represents a primary and separate function of government; and it should not be left in the hands of the Parliament to remove any judge with the penalty of loss of his rights on the ground of incapacity. [ have not denied that the Constitution gives to the Parliament power to remove judges upon the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity, but when the Minister says that that ends the matter he is completely misstating the position, because the right to pension still remains to judges under the Constitution whether or not this clause is agreed to; but this provision enables the Government not only to exercise that power under the Constitution but, as the result of doing so, also to deprive the judges of otherwise vested rights. All existing judges were appointed on the basis that they have the right presently given to them by existing legislation. This clause takes those rights away. The Minister shakes his head to indicate disagreement with that view, but it must be obvious that this provision means that a government which has a majority in both Houses of the Parliament may not only remove the judges, but, as the result of removing them, may deprive them of their rights under existing legislation.
– That is not correct.
– Any statement by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that something is not true conveys nothing to either the people or the Parliament. Perhaps, the Minister, who is an expert on everything, will tell us why my statement is not correct. Should he do so, he might direct his attention to these observations: First, if this clause be not passed, all existing pension rights of judges will continue; secondly, if the bill is passed the only right of a judge to pension of any description will stem from this measure; and, thirdly, under this clause, judges can be deprived of pension, or allowance if they are removed on any of the grounds provided- in section 72 of the Constitution. My amendment is designed to make those penalties apply only in the. event of a judge being removed from office on the ground of misdemeanour or felony. I cannot imagine that any other ground could be advanced to justify depriving a judge of his pension. As a judge grows old he may be held to be incapable of continuing in office as the result of causes over which he has no control. If he is removed because of incapacity he should not, and certainly his widow and children should not be penalized and made subject to the charity of this or any other government.
– This afternoon and earlier to-night, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) debated this measure in a very dignified way; but after I had addressed the committee on this clause and suggested that his legal knowledge appeared to be a little astray he descended from that high level of debate and’ became excited and was even a little more coarse than was the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison). The honorable member for Warringah suggested that the Government was trying to intimidate the judges. He jumped from clause to clause, and even referred to the schedule to the bill, in his attempt to prove that Lf this bill became law the judges would lose something. He even attempted to prove that, because of the introduction of a sliding scale of pensions, the judges would be entitled to a lower pension than hitherto.
– I said nothing of the sort.
– At the outset of my remarks I said that if a judge cared to do so he could retain the rights and privileges he now enjoys. I repeat that a judge is not compelled to come into the new scheme.
– I agree with the honorable gentleman.
– If he chooses to come into the new scheme in order to obtain pension benefits for his widow and children he should expect to suffer some loss of pension for himself. Sub-clause 4 of clause 13 reads -
A Judge who is serving as such at the date of the commencement of this Act and who does not make an election in pursuance of sub section (2.) of this section shall retain any right to pension to which he was entitled, immediately prior to the commencement of this Act, under any provision of an Act specified in the first column of the Schedule, and that provision shall continue to apply to and in relation to that Judge as if the Act so specified had not been amended as provided in this Act.
– I think the Minister might leave it at that.
– I do not think there is anything else to which I should reply. I have promised the honorable member for Warringah that the two serious objections which he has raised will be brought to the notice of the Acting Attorney-General (Senator McKenna). E am sure that that honorable gentleman will examine the logic of the honorable member’s representations, and that, if he agrees with it, he will amend the clause when the bill reaches the Senate..
.- One statement was made by the Minister (Mr. Holloway) which I cannot let pass unchallenged. The honorable gentleman said that pensions payable under section 48a of the Judiciary Act were not applicable to judges who had been removed from office by the Governor-General under section 72 of the Constitution on an address from both Houses of the Parliament for proved misbehaviour or incapacity. If that be true, why has this clause been inserted in the bill? If the Minister’s proposition be correct, this clause is utterly unnecessary. The clause provides that a pension shall not be payable to a judge, or to the widow and children of a judge, who has been removed under section 72 of the Constitution. If, in fact, such a judge has no pension rights under the Judiciary Act, why has ink and paper been wasted by the insertion of the clause we are now discussing ?
– The bill deals with a new kind of pension. Will the honorable member state whether the Judiciary Act gives pension rights to judges who are removed from office?
– Yes. The word “ retirement “ in that act has a very wide meaning.
– The honorable member is well aware of the difference between “ retirement “ and “ removal “. I ask him not to hedge. I gave him a straight answer when he asked for it.
– I propose to give to the Minister an equally straight answer. Section 48a of the Judiciary Act gives to judges certain pension rights on retirement. In that act, the word “ retirement” means any sort of retirement, whether by an act of the Parliament or by the voluntary wish of the judge himself. I trust that, even though he may not agree with my answer,- the Minister will not regard it as anything but a straight answer.
– That is the sort of stuff the honorable member puts over in the courts.
– It is the “sort of stuff” which is put over successfully in the courts because the interpretation placed on the word “ retirement “ in section 48a of the Judiciary Act is clear and beyond question. If that were not so, the legal advisers of the Minister would not have bothered to insert this clause in the bill. The Minister wags his head in disapproval. It is obvious that the purpose of this clause is to change the existing law. It is intended to put judges in a less favorable position than they enjoyed under section 48a of the Judiciary Act. To that extent the clause constitutes a new latent threat to judges and accordingly it should not be allowed.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Mr. Spender’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the clause be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. J. J. Clark.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Schedule and Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 17 th November (vide page 3078), on motion by Mr. Pollard -
That the bill be now read a second time.
it would appear that the base3 for the industry are to be located in New South “Wales and Western Australia. I should have thought that it was obvious to any one that Tasmania was best suited geographically as a base for the conduct of whaling operations in the southern seas. One naturally assumes that the Australian whaling industry will expand, and some attention should be paid to Tasmania’s claims to resume its former importance in the industry.
Those concerned in whaling are apprehensive about the part proposed to be taken by Japan in the industry, and there is a feeling that Australia is “missing out “ compared with Japan. The bill provides that the minimum lengths of whales that may legally be caught shall be fixed by regulation. Parenthetically, C may observe that such an eminent piscatorial authority as Sir Izaak Walton would probably have been amazed had he been obliged to throw back into the sea a blue whale of 70 feet which he had caught. In conclusion, I again appeal to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) to consider Tasmania’s claims as a whaling base.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 23rd November (vide page 3300)j on motion by Mr. Holloway -
That the hill he -now read la , second time.
.- The principal purpose of the bill, which proposes to amend the Social Services Consolidation Act, is to authorize the commencement of a scheme of rehabilitation training for people who are physically handicapped. During and since the war we have had considerable experience of rehabilitation training. I believe that approximately 10,000 people, many of whom suffered from severe disabilities, have passed through the training centres, and the success which has attended their training is a good augury for the future.
The Department of Social Services has had considerable experience of certain classes of invalid civilians, of whom approximately 5,000 have received treatment which has benefited them considerably. In the course of his second-reading speech, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) that 1,000 such persons had been rehabilitated to ordinary civilian life. The passage of the measure now before us should achieve two great purposes. It should conserve man-power and effect economy by saving the community the expense of paying benefits to those who are unable to function economically; and, secondly, it should improve the lives of the unfortunate persons concerned. The second consideration is, of course, the more important. Undoubtedly a person who suffers a grievous disability, from whatever cause it may arise, feels himself out of touch with his fellows, is deprived of a great deal of ordinary social intercourse, and, in consequence, often becomes depressed and unhappy. Therefore, any measure which will have the effect of restoring such an individual to his proper place in society must command the support of every honorable member.
As pointed out by the Minister, the Government is undoubtedly confronted with certain difficulties in implementing such a scheme as that proposed. In the first place, sufficient buildings are not. available for training centres, and we all know how difficult it is to acquire ‘buildings even for housing accommodation. Secondly, there is a grave shortage of trained personnel to administer rehabilitation training. The Government, therefore, proposes that training shall be limited, at first, to invalid pensioners who are in receipt of, or are eligible for, social service benefits, and to those who are unemployed or are receiving sickness benefits. Later it is proposed to extend the operation of the scheme to cover all persons who are physically incapable and to include the victims of industrial accidents. I think that everyone agrees with that provision. However, another class of persons to whom I believe the scheme should be applied when the time comes, is age pensioners. Quite a number of age pensioners who are unable, possibly because of their age, to continue their ordinary avocations, might usefully be trained to carry out handicrafts which would add considerably in the aggregate to the wealth of the community and would enrich their own lives immeasurably. That is a suggestion which the Government might well consider, not from the stand-point of its application now, but at some later time, when greater numbers of trained personnel and more accommodation are available.
The bill clarifies the provisions of the principal act with regard to the twenty years’ residence in Australia that is necessary to qualify for an invalid pension. There has apparently been some doubt whether the twenty years’ residence in this country must have been subsequent to the date on which the disability was incurred, or whether it is sufficient to have resided in Australia for twenty years, irrespective of the date when the disability was incurred. The position is now made clear. I have never understood why it is necessary to insist upon a qualification of twenty years. I believe that the period could well be shortened. Doubtless many honorable members have had cases brought to their notice in which hardship has been inflicted upon an individual because he has lived in this country for a few years short of the period that is necessary to qualify him for an invalid pension. When representations are made to the department, one is told that the claimant must wait until the period of twenty years has expired. In many instances, the wait of three or five years, as the case may be, has caused great hardship. Why is it necessary to have this long residential qualification ? It ha3 been said that it is necessary because we are trying to provide for reciprocity between Australia and the United Kingdom in regard to pensions. The immigrants who are now coming from Britain to Australia can be counted in tens of thousands, but very few people are leaving Australia to live in Britain. Therefore,, we are not likely to gain anything from an agreement with the United Kingdom in regard to pensions, if and when it is concluded. In the meantime, the people who are coming to Australia from the United Kingdom under present arrangements must live here for twenty years before they become eligible for invalid pensions. If a man settles in this country and becomes an Australian, why should not the fact that he is an Australian citizen entitle him to all of the rights and privileges that are enjoyed by Australian citizens who have lived here for twenty years? Why is a long residential qualification necessary? I suggest that this matter should be reconsidered, because we desire to encourage people to come here in great numbers.
We on this side of the House welcome the bill, and wish it a speedy passage.
– I support this bill, which seeks to amend the principal act in several important respects. I am pleased to note that civilian widows with children over the age of sixteen years will benefit by this measure. Cases of hardship suffered by such widows are continually being brought to my notice, and I am pleased that, by clause 12, the position of this class of persons will be improved. 3 should have been more pleased if the improvement were greater than it is, but it is to be hoped that that further improvement will be made in the near future.
Some time ago I asked certain questions about limbless civilians who were unable to provide themselves with artificial limbs. I want to know whether, under the provisions of the proposed new Part VIII., it will be possible to provide them with artificial limbs. Proposed section 135tc, which deals with the provision of medical appliances, may be intended to benefit these persons. Is it intended that limbless civilians shall be provided with artificial limbs? I understand that an artificial leg may cost £80. Will the full amount be borne by the Government? If not, how much of it will be?
Stump socks are now not obtainable by civilians. Is the proposed section 135k intended to cover the provision of stump socks and similar articles? I understand that such firms as T. Roper and Denyers Proprietary Limited have no stump socks for civilians and that the only place from which these articles can be obtained is the Commonwealth factory, from which all supplies go to ex-servicemen. I am informed that the factory is not permitted to supply civilians, but it might be possible for it to do so if the provision of these articles were a service and not a sale, and if the persons needing them could apply, under the provisions of this proposed section, for them to be supplied. I have received many letters recently regarding hearing aids. Does the proposed section 135k relate to these articles? I should be pleased if the Minister could answer these questions, which are of considerable interest to the persons concerned.
The case of Mr. S. Keenan, who has been trying to obtain a pension for a number of years, is probably well known to the members of this House who represent New South Wales constituencies. A number of friends, and I believe some of the members of this House have investigated his case and promised to assist him in his attempts to obtain a pension. Would his case, the particulars of which the Minister may know, come under proposed new sub-section 2 of section 25, which reads -
A person who became permanently incapacitated for work or permanently blind while outside Australia (otherwise than during a temporary absence from Australia) but has resided in Australia -
for a continuous period of not less than twenty years; or
for periods aggregating not less than twenty years, whether any such period was before or after he became permanently incapacitated for work or permanently blind, shall, for the purposes of this section, be deemed to have become permanently incapacitated for work or permanently blind while in Australia.
I should like to know whether Mr. Keenan would be able to obtain his pension under those provisions?
– I support the remarks made by the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan), and I congratulate the Government on introducing the measure, which is an attempt to rehabilitate incapacitated people. I also support the suggestion made by the honorable member for Flinders about age pensioners. Probably the saddest people in Australia are those who live in cities, have no near relatives and must live in single rooms with nowhere to go to meet their fellows, and have also no occupation. A scheme such as this applied to such people would be of inestimable benefit not only from a social and psychological standpoint but also economically. It may return to them the capacity to earn up to the amount that is now allowable under the act and restore to them the knowledge that they are useful members of society. I also support the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders about the desirability of reducing the period of qualification at present applied to arrivals from overseas. I remind the Minister, in this connexion, that the Nationality and Citizenship Bill now before the House imposes on even British citizens coming to Australia a qualifying period -of five years before they can become Australian citizens. I suggest that, in all the circumstances obtaining at the present time, that period of five years might very well be made the qualifying period for all the rights of citizenship in Australia including those provided in this measure.
.-I approve the measure, but there is one portion of it that I should like the Minister to explain, as I consider that its application might cause hardship or injustice to some invalid pensioners. The proposed new section 135n states -
If, in the opinion of the Director-General, a person who is a claimant for a benefit or is a beneficiary should -
submit himself for medical, psychological or other like examination;
receive medical or other treatment:
undertake a course of trainingfor the improvement of his physical or mental capacity;
undertake a course of vocational training; or
do any work suitable to be done by him, the Director-General may refuse to grant a benefit to that person, or may cancel or suspend til at person’s benefit, unless that person complies with the requirements of the DirectorGeneral in respect of any such matter.
There are many invalid pensioners who may be suffering from some grave affliction and may not desire to undergo treatment. They may be subnormal people or people who, it might be suggested, should go to some asylum or other institution to receive shock treatment, and who may object to such a proposal. Their refusal to undergo the treatment prescribed by the Director-General might mean that they would be refused a continuance of pension rights and I ask the Minister to explain whether that is the intention of the section.
– in reply - I am pleased with the manner in which the House has received the measure. I shall reply first to the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) who has expressed a fear that, if the measure is administered too harshly it may do harm to some invalid pensioners who cannot stand up to training or other treatment. There is no compulsion about the particular provision he mentioned. There are some people who belong to the class known as “ leadswingers “, who do not want to try to help themselves and the DirectorGeneral might threaten to discontinue paying pensions to such people while they were unwilling to try to help themselves although perfectly able to do so. The clause, however, does not have any of the intentions that the honorable member for Cook fears. It is the Government’s desire, wherever possible, to train the invalid pensioners, or any other civilians for that matter, so that they may become active members of the community. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) and the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) desire this provision to be extended as far as possible. That is the Government’s desire also, but at the moment we can go no further than an immediate proposal to apply it to invalid pensioners. That limitation does not mean that we do not intend to provide eventually for all the partially invalided people in the community.
I repeat that there is no compulsion on an invalid pensioner to take treatment but that where it is obvious that a pensioner does not wish to try to rehabilitate himself he may be threatened with the loss of his pension. It is intended to select people and invite them to come along and offer themselves for some kind of training. The scheme is based upon the wonderful success that was achieved in Australia and in other parts of the world in rehabilitating exservicemen. One would have thought it impossible for some of the ex-servicemen who underwent training ever to become really useful citizens again. Many of them were limbless and others suffered from nervous disorders. Through treatment and the provision of appliances, those individuals can now earn their own living. It is because of the wonderful success of the scheme for training ex-servicemen that we are now extending it to a similar field in the civil community, and are starting with the invalid pensioners. In addition to the humanitarian motive, there is an economic motive in the scheme. It will enable invalid pensioners to earn their own living, which will build them up both physically and mentally, to win back their manhood, and feel that they are useful members of society. But there is no intention to compel people to take training unless they feel equal to it. They may be nervous wrecks who, when the proper training is made available to them, will be able to resume their rightful place in the community. As the honorable member for Flinders has stated, many people who were formerly in receipt of invalid pensions are now earning full wages as workers. There are about 360 of such people now undergoing training, and the number would be greater if more facilities were available. Provision of artificial limbs, a subject that the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) mentioned, is being carried out commensurate with the availability of such aids. There is nothing thai would be useful to an invalid pensioner or that would enable him to earn his own living that will not be supplied to him free. The only condition attached to that provision is that when invalid pensioners are capable of engaging in employment and are receiving full wages for it, they will be asked to pay back by some easy method tbe cost of the aids lent to them during the training period.
– An amputee needs more than the loan of an artificial limb.
– Artificial limbs are made at the Commonwealth factories. At present artificial limbs are not available to civilians, not because tbe factories will not make them for non-service personnel, but because their total output is required for ex-servicemen.
– Will they be provided free of charge?
– Yes, if it is necessary to enable an invalid pensioner to receive training in order to equip himself for employment.
– Suppose the person concerned is not an invalid pensioner but a working man.
– At this stage, such a person will not bc undergoing training. I have been referring only to those persons whom we shall train.
– Will not provision be made for the class which I have mentioned ?
– While the present scarcity exists, the last person to whom an artificial limb will be supplied is an amputee who is not able to rehabilitate himself in employment, not because he should not have it, but because it will be used more usefully by a person who requires it to enable him to resume work. That situation exists only because of the limited supply of artificial limbs, and will improve when the Commonwealth repatriation factories have overtaken the demands of ex-servicemen. The factories will probably not be able for a few years to cater for people other than ex-service personnel.
I shall now describe briefly to honorable members how the work has progressed. As the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) has stated, the facilities have not yet been established on the large national scale which we have envisaged. However, the Department of Social Services has developed its organization in each State. Such institutions as technical colleges and technical schools have been giving instruction, and business colleges in each of the six capital cities have been co-operating with the department to train people. Those business colleges are paid for their services. Instruction is given in 59 subjects. With the concurrence of honorable membersI shall incorporate inHansard the list of institutions and establishments which have been used for the vocational training of invalid pensioners. It is as follows : -
Sydney Technical College.
Stott and Hoare.
Hemingway and Robertson.
Australian Radio College.
Metropolitan Business College.
Melbourne Technical College.
Ballarat Technical College.
Bendigo Technical College.
Bradshaw’s Business College.
Hemingway and Robertson.
Geelong School of Technology.
Speck’s Business College.
Brisbane Technical School.
Technical Correspondence School.
Education Department Correspondence Course.
Toowoomba Technical School.
South Australian School of Mines.
Muirden Business College.
Hemingway and Robertson.
Education Department Correspondence Training Section.
McCabe Academy of Dressmaking.
Mrs. Kenlough Dressmaking School.
Perth Technical School.
Peacock Brothers School.
Mrs. Hunter’s School of Music.
Stott’s Business College.
City Commercial College.
Education Department Correspondence Courses.
Stanley School of Dressmaking.
Hobart Teehnical School.
The following is the list of occupations for which vocational training has been given to invalid pensioners : -
Accountancy, bookkeeping, boot repairing, blacksmith, boilermaker, box-maker, butcher, carpenter, cook, cinema operator, commercial art, clerical work, dressmaking, draughtsman, domestic, dental mechanic, engine driver, engraver, fitter, furrier, fibrous plaster worker, French polisher, glass blower, galvanizer, gardener. handyman, hospital orderly, journalism, millinery, mill hand, machine setter, maltster, piano repairer, panel beater, process worker, painter, plasterer, radio, needlework, meat inspector, shorthand-typists, storeman, sketching, poultry farming, saddler, shearer, tiler, telephonist, tuckpointer, tool sharpener, tailoring, toy maker, X-ray operator, wood machinist, wireman, and welder. Other courses - University course, general education, and braille.
The plan has been put into operation effectively and many people are receiving training. However, that is only the beginning. I have no knowledge of the case of Mr. Keenan, but if he is a pensioner, I shall ascertain whether he may receive training.
Some honorable members have urged that migrants who settle in Australia should not be required to reside here for twenty years before they become eligible to receive the age pension, and have suggested that the period should be reduced. The reason why the period of 20 years was selected was that no country could afford to become regarded as the dumping ground of people about to attain the age of 60 or 65 years. Numbers of elderly people are now settling in Australia with younger members of their families. I recognize that the present law may impose hardship on some people, and Australia is urging other members of the Commonwealth of Nations to enter into a reciprocal arrangement for the payment of pensions.
– Such a reciprocal arrangement will not assist us.
– No; but it will help the people who suffer hardship because of having to wait for twenty years before they become eligible to receive an age pension. Whenever the House is considering social services legislation, honorable members opposite point out that the proportion of old people to young people in Australia is increasing, and that we shall not be able much longer to bear the expense associated with maintaining social services at the present level. We cannot afford to reduce the period of twenty years to ten years or five years, but the representations by honorable members on the matter will receive care- ful consideration. The period of residence for an applicant for an invalid pension is only five years.
– What provision has been made in respect of the means test for persons under 21 years of age?
– Provision has been made, not in this legislation, but by regulation. The honorable member for Cook has raised this matter on several occasions. He refers to invalids under 21 years of age who must be maintained, if possible, by their parents. The exemption allowable for every adult member of a family has been increased from 50s. to 60s. Thus, the exemption in respect of a man, wife and one dependant is £9 a week. In the circumstances, I consider that the means test is fair.
I explained the purposes of the bill very thoroughly in my second-reading speech, and honorable members have a sound knowledge of the subject. They have not found serious fault with the bill, but seem to be unanimously in favour of it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 24th November (vide page 3419), on motion by Mr. Lemmon -
That the bill be now read a second time
.- This bill amends the War Service Homes Act 1918-1947, and the principal alteration is made to section 38 which relates to the insurance of dwelling houses. The section has been in operation since 1919, and the purpose of the amendment is to empower the War Service Homes Commission to continue the insurance of a house after the liability of the purchaser or borrower has been repaid. The premiums on insurances so effected are approximately one-half the premiums charged by the private companies. I am very pleased that that has been so since 1919. In spite of the very low rate of premium, the insurance fund under the
War Service Homes Act is in a very sound condition. The premium income from the inception of the scheme to the 30th June, 1947, totalled £713,548. The latest available figures dealing with the fund are contained in the annual report of the War Service Homes Commission for 1946-47. Claims upon the fund, both paid and outstanding, at the date when the report was prepared, numbered only 126,220. Those payments and administrative charges and contributions from the fund towards the maintenance of fire brigades left a profit of £400,000 in the fund, if an insurance scheme can be said to show a profit in that way. At that time, 45,000 homes had been built under the War Service Homes Act, and the costs of 21,000 of them had been repaid by the purchasers. Homes under construction and those on which contributions were still being paid numbered 30,000. Although 45,000 homes had been built, only a very small percentage of payments had fallen into arrears, a high tribute to the ex-servicemen who occupied the houses. The percentage of arrears owing at the end of 1947-48 was a mere bagatelle. The figures for the respective States were as follows : -
Those figures disclose a commendable state of affairs. They show that exservicemen who are purchasing homes under the scheme are faithfully meeting their obligations.
The facts that 21,000 homes have been completely paid off and that the amount of arrears’ is remarkably small are the reasons for my enthusiastic support, on behalf of the Opposition, of the proposals contained in the bill. Those proposals mainly relate to amendments of section 38 of the principal act to provide for three additional benefits to exservicemen. The first benefit is that exservicemen, or the widows of ex-servicemen occupying war service homes in respect of which liability has been completely discharged, may continue to enjoy the 50 per cent, rate of premium made available by the War Service Homes Commission.
The existing act does not extend that benefit, and such occupants are required to insure with private companies. The second benefit is that occupants who are about to complete the purchase of war service homes will be permitted to continue to enjoy the benefit of the special rate of premium. The third benefit is that, if an ex-serviceman occupying a war service home dies, his widow or his trustees may continue to pay the low rate of insurance premium to the War Service Homes Commission until the property has been disposed of in accordance with the law relating to the administration of probate. Those three variations of the terms of section 38 of the principal act commend themselves to the Opposition. They have been requested by individual ex-servicemen and by ex-servicemen’s organizations. Therefore, I congratulate the Government upon introducing this measure, which I hope will be granted a speedy passage by the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
Section thirty-eight of the Principal Act is amended -
by inserting in sub-section (1.), after the words “dwelling house” (twice occurring), the words “to which this Act applies “;
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - “ (3.) In this section, ‘dwellinghouse to which this Act applies ‘ means a dwelling-house which is the subject of a subsisting contract of sale or mortgage entered into in pursuance of this Act.”.
Amendments (by Mr. Dedman) agreed to -
That paragraph (a) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following paragraph : - “ (o) by omitting sub-section (1.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - (1.) Every dwelling-house in which the Director has an interest, and all building material on the site of, and for use in the erection of, a dwelling house in which the Director has or will have an interest, shall be insured as prescribed against fire and prescribed risks.’; and”.
That paragraph (o) be left out.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 25th November (vide page 3580).
Clause 8 (Continuance of certain Trish citizens as British subjects).
– When the committee reported progress about ten minutes before midnight last Thursday, we were discussing issues raised by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison) and the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) regarding a mutual recognition of citizenship rights by the Government of Great Britain and the Government of Ireland. When the House met on the following day, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) made a statement which I think elucidated those very complicated and difficult matters and indicated that the Australian Government adopted the same attitude as that of the United Kingdom Government. I rise now to say - and I think it should be said - that, in spite of the passage of an act by the Irish Government to cut the last link binding Ireland to the British Crown, the position of Irish citizens under British law, even under the act not yet proclaimed, and the position of Irish citizens under the bill which we are now considering, will not be altered in any way. It is a most extraordinary position. It is entirely paradoxical, but it suggests the possibility that, in years to come, Canada and the United States of America may declare that the citizens of either country shall not be foreigners in the other country. Perhaps some day the United Kingdom and the United States of America may adopt a similar attitude in regard to their citizenship laws, and perhaps we ourselves and the United States may be able to work out some formula which will give reciprocal rights to citizens of either country when living in the other country. In fact, it may bring for ward by a few years the realization of Tennyson’s dream of the brotherhood of man. In more prosaic terms, it may help to bring forward the time when the English-speaking nations will have a closer . relationship than exists under their nationality ‘ laws to-day. I hope that something which will be of benefit particularly to members of the Englishspeaking nations will arise out of this extraordinary development.
.- I echo to some degree the sentiments of the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) on this matter of a mutual extension of rights of nationality by various nations. The position created by Eire is, as the Minister said, anomalous and something has been done by the British Parliament to meet it. Following what was done by the British Parliament in its legislation, which has yet to become law, we have followed suit under clause 8 of this bill. Any step towards achieving some common link of nationality or citizenship between various nations is a step in the right direction. It will be remembered that Mr. Winston Churchill offered the French people common nationality in the dark days of 1940. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that in our time we shall be able to extend that courtesy to other countries. As the Minister for Immigration has said, Canada and the United States of America may be moving in that direction. I am not so insular or national as to think that this is a bad move. Anybody who has travelled abroad knows of the difficulties that are associated with moving from one country to another. Any action which will reduce these difficulties is a step in the right direction.
This clause is not only, of necessity, highly technical, because of the paradoxical situation created, but also much more restricted than probably the Minister realizes, judging by his last remarks. There will be great difficulty in applying this measure to Irish citizens after the External Relations Act is repealed. In the meantime Irish citizens can take the benefit of the provision. The operative words of the clause are - who, immediately prior to the date of commencement of this Act, was also a British subject. . . .
When the Irish Parliament repeals the External Relations Act shortly, Irishmen will cease to be British subjects. That is the difficulty. I have read the statement that was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) on Friday. As I understand it the position is that while the External Relations Act has remained in force, the British Government has always been prepared to accept the position that Irish citizens here have been, technically, British subjects. The whole purport of the repeal of that act is to change that position. They will not become aliens, because by a series of public statements we have pronounced that they shall be in a better position than aliens, although not British subjects.
– Great Britain has said that they will be neither British nor aliens, but somewhere in between.
– Whether fish, fowl or red herrings, I do not know, but somebody has to unravel this tangle. If it is going to be looked at seriously, an Irish citizen may find himself unable to claim the benefit of this clause after the repeal of the External Relations Act. If that act is repealed, it, will be necessary to have some supplementary legislation to amend this position, if it is desired to amend it. I am not so sure what is intended. The British Parliament dealt with it in section 2 of the British act and made no bones about it. That act does not purport, to deal with any more than the odd case. That section does not give an automatic and blanket right to Irish citizens to retain their British subjecthood. Section 2 of the British act is in almost the identical terms of this clause of our proposed legislation. I am not raising this as a controversial matter, but because it is of importance to Irish citizens. As matters stand, the rights that we intend to extend to them may not be so extensive as some people thought they would be. As I view it, in some special cases where, owing to Irish legislation or non-operation of the British Nationality Act, which does not come into force until the 1st January, this provision may be applied. It is quite clear to me that the operative words of clause 8 of the bill, which are based on the British act, mean that the Irish citizen, seeking to take advantage of that provision, must also be a British subject. Once Eire repeals the act, that position cannot persist. Confirmation of that view is contained in the following words of Mr. Attlee. in his statement to the United Kingdom House of Commons: -
As a result of these discussions, the United Kingdom Government has been able to give the most careful consideration to the relations between the United Kingdom and Eire when the Republic of Ireland Bill comes into force. The United Kingdom recognizes with regret that Eire will then no longer he a member of the Commonwealth.
Therefore Irish citizens have no longer the status of British subjects in any shape or form. The statement continued -
Accordingly, the United Kingdom Government will not regard the enactment of this legislation by Eire as placing Eire in the category of a foreign country, or Eire’s citizens in the category of foreigners . . . So far as Eire citizens are concerned, the position in the United Kingdom will be governed by the British Nationality Act 1948.
– Which has not yet come into force.
– It will come into force on the 1st January. The relevant section is section 2, which says, in almost identical terms with this clause -
Any subject of Eire who, immediately before the commencement of this Act was also a British subject, shall not by reason of anything contained in Section 1 of this Act, be deemed to have ceased to be a British subject, if at any time he gives in notice in writing to the Secretary of State . . .
As I see it, once the External Relations Act is repealed the wider benefits of this clause will not accrue to Irishmen.
– I do not think the contention of the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) is correct. After the repeal of the External Relations Act, Irish citizens will still be able to exercise rights under this clause of the bill. They will be British subjects until the passage of this bill. It is a most extraordinary situation. As I explained last week, when the Irish representatives met the Australian Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), the Canadian Minister for
External Affairs, and three or four members of the British Cabinet, this matter was ironed out. Despite the repeal of the External Relations Act, reciprocal arrangements will be made. No amendment will have to be made to the British law, which is not yet proclaimed, and no amendment will be needed to the Australian legislation. Irish citizens who go to England will enjoy all of the advantages of British citizenship, while British and Australian citizens who go to Ireland should have all of the benefits of the Irish law. I shall read to the honorable gentleman portions of the speech made by the Prime Minister of Ireland, Mr. Costello, to the Dail at Dublin on the 24th of this month, on the second reading of the Republic of Ireland Bill. This should be recorded because in the future many people of Irish birth or descent in this country will want to know what their position is. The fact that the British Parliament has been able to devise a new definition is a tribute to the British capacity for compromise, which has been one of the most outstanding features of British statesmanship in the last half century. Britain stood too rigidly upright before the war with the American colonies and lost them. The relationship was too taut, and it broke. Although in recent times the- ties have not been so noticeable, they have been stronger. Mr. Costello said -
So far we have been unable to deal with British or Commonwealth subjects by means of the appropriate provisions of our Nationality Act. The appropriate provisions are, of course, those contained in section 23, which provides that-
And this is the extraordinary provision -
Then follows the portion of the speech to which I wish particularly to direct the attention of the honorable member for Parramatta -
At a later stage, but in the near future I hope, it is the Government’s intention to review our whole nationality law and to bring before the Dail a comprehensive measure to rectify many of the anomalies that now exist in the Act of 1935.
– That might be too late.
– Our representatives and the representatives of the other Dominions and the United Kingdom have agreed with the Irish Government upon this course. What the Irish Government proposes to do, in the words of Mr. Costello, is this -
In the new bill provisions will be made to ensure that Commonwealth citizens shall be afforded comparable rights to those afforded to our citizens in the British Commonwealth. There is one thing I should like to make clear to our friends in Britain and in the Commonwealth generally; it is that after the passage of this bill we will continue, provided they so desire, the exchange of citizenship rights and privileges. Ireland does not now and when the External Relations Act is repealed Ireland does not intend to regard their citizens as foreigners or their countries as foreign countries. Throughout, the position of the Irish Government is, that while Ireland is not a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, it recognizes and confirms the existence of a specially close relationship arising not only from ties of friendship and kinship but from traditional and long established economic, social and trade relations based on common interest with the nations that form the British Commonwealth. This exchange of rights and privileges which it is our firm desire and intention to maintain and strengthen, in our view constitutes a special relationship which negatives the view that other countries could raise valid objections on the grounds that Ireland should be treated as a foreign country by Britain and the Commonwealth countries, for the purpose of this exchange of rights and privileges. These are the considerations which we put forward to Britain and the Commonwealth countries. We found that they on their part were equally determined not to regard the passage of this bill as placing Ireland in the category of foreign countries or our citizens in tho category of foreigners, but were prepared to continue the exchange of citizenship and trade preference rights. Accordingly the factual exchange of rights that has existed hitherto will continue unimpaired. By reason of the fact that we have eliminated from this exchange controversial forms, we may reasonably hope that a greater spirit of goodwill and co-operation will actuate this factual relationship.
I have nothing more to add to that.
– The Minister said that he saw no difficulty about this clause because Irish citizens would be British subjects under our existing nationality legislation. Does he agree that if the Dail repeals the External Relations Act a state of affairs will be created in which an Irish citizen will cease to be a British subject because of that act?
– Whatever the legal position may be, we have agreed with the United Kingdom and the other dominions to continue a relationship, and the Irish Parliament proposes to pass legislation providing that countries which agree to accord to Irish citizens reciprocal rights of citizenship which will make them British subjects, will, in turn, have their citizens accepted by Ireland and given the full citizenship rights of Irish citizens. Lawyers will never be able to understand why this has happened, but statesmen have devised it to preserve a desirable and desired relationship.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Clause 10 - (1.) Subject to this section, a person born in Australia after the commencement of this Act shall be an Australian citizen by birth. (2.) A person shall not be an Australian citizen by virtue of this section if, at the time of his birth -
his father was not an Australian citizen and possessed the immunity from suit and legal process which is accorded to an envoy of a foreign country accredited to His Majesty; or
– I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), paragraph (a), after the word “ father “, the following words be inserted: - “or mother”.
To be logical and consistent, this amendment should be made. The envoy of a foreign country may be a woman. At least one country, Soviet Russia, and I believe that there are others, has appointed women to such positions. If this clause remains as it is drafted, there could be a curious result. A woman who had been appointed by the Soviet Government as an envoy to Australia might marry an Australian in this country. Any child of those parents would be an Australian citizen. I have no objection to that, but I think that we should he consistent.
.- This clause, taken with clause 11, is the crux of this very difficult situation. It provides - (1.) Subject to this section, a person born in Australia after the commencement of this Act shall be an Australian citizen by birth.
Sub-clause 2 provides that certain persons shall not be Australian citizens in certain circumstances. Those circumstances are governed not by statute law but by a gathering together of common law. The first thing to remember is that, under this provision, Australian citizenship is to be basic and that everything else will flow from it. That is a complete reversal of the previous position. British subjecthood will henceforth derive from Australian citizenship, and Australian citizens will henceforth be worse off. Honorable members may remember that, in my second-reading speech, I illustrated the likely results of the new arrangement, which means a basic Australian citizenship with a nebulous British subjecthood flowing from it. The following quotation from The Bound Table sums up the matter - .
A whole series of consequent anomalies springs to the mind. An Australian coming to London must normally wait twelve months before becoming qualified for any employment, public or private, that may bc restricted to a citizen of the United Kingdom and the colonies, although arrivals from, say, Jamaica ‘or the Gold Coast would be automatically qualified at once. If a Maltese woman marries an Englishman she is affected by no change of citizenship, being both Maltese and a citizen of the United Kingdom, without change or formality. But if a Canadian woman - or an Australian woman - marries an Englishman she has to choose between’ two citizenships, and if she chooses her husband’s she has to affirm her choice by registration. To the extent that its passage will have any practical impact, the bill subtracts in such ways from the benefits of Canadian citizens and adds no benefits to anybody.
I again make the point that we shall be worse off when this bill becomes law. The writer adds -
Potential anomalies and injustices could be easily multiplied. They might perhaps he excused if the anomalies under the existing system, which have been mentioned as defects, were eradicated by the new plan. But they are not. Bach self-governing member of the Commonwealth will legislate for its own citizenship, providing for naturalization of aliens, the nationality of married women and the like matters in its own terms and its citizenship will automatically confer British subjecthood. Thus the paradox of the common status and the different terms of acquiring or losing it will remain as paradoxical as ever. The only plea in defence can be that, under the new plan, the common status of British subjecthood will have little practical importance. And that is the condemnation of the bill which then emerges in its true light as a measure to weaken the Commonwealth by turning the common status into an empty phrase.
That sums up the matter. I do not propose to enter the controversy again as I did with great emphasis in my secondreading speech, hut I do say that if we are to make Australian citizenship the basis from which British subjecthood shall flow we shall be worse off, because Australians going to Great Britain will be under handicaps that they did not experience when they went there as British subjects, in the full sense of the word.
. -I should like the Minister to clarify the clause, which says, in sub-clause 1 - . . a person born in Australia after the commencement of this Act shall be an Australian citizen by birth.
What is my position? I was born before the bill will become law.
– The honorable gentleman’s position is covered by another clause.
– It has been said that this bill and the legislation introduced into the Parliaments of the United Kingdom and the other British Dominions on this subject weaken the British nationality, but my belief is that the common nationhood will still be retained, and that there is no reason why we should not develop an even stronger British Commonwealth. My concern about this clause is what is conveyed by “ Australian citizenship “. The clause provides - . . a person born in Australia after the commencement of this act shall be an Australian citizen by birth.
That is a new conception. We are now to approach nationality through Aus tralian citizenship, which will automatically confer British subjecthood. Clause 5 defines Australia as including Norfolk Island and the Territory of Papua. The bill, as I understand it, means that all persons, of whatever colour or race, and regardless of their origin, whether born on the Australian mainland, or on Norfolk Island, or in the Territory of Papua, are Australian citizens. I take it that it is the intention of the bill that all persons born in any of those countries, whether they be black or white, shall, by virtue of being Australian citizens, also become, under clause 7, British subjects owing allegiance to the Crown.
– As I explained in my second-reading speech, the clause proposes to make all’ persons born in Australia and its territories British subjects by making them Australian citizens. Prior to the enactment of our legislation about a year ago, aliens could have lived in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea for 20, or 25, years and not been eligible for naturalization, because the view was held in Great Britain that, in respect of the mandate for Palestine, a person who lived there for the required period of five years could be given only Palestinian naturalization. Our experts in Australia took the view that, under British nationality law then commonly recognized throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations, persons who lived or were born in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea could not become British subjects unless they lived for five years inside any of His Majesty’s dominions. The mandated territory was regarded as being on the fringe of the Commonwealth. Australian aboriginal subjects have always been regarded as British subjects, although they may not have been given all the rights in this country that other British subjects have received.
– They still remain British subjects.
– Tes. The intention of the measure is to make British subjects of all persons born in the Commonwealth and its dependent territories.
Clause 25 covers the position raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Thompson).
– Why should not that provision precede this clause?
– The draftsmen think that that provision is in its proper
Sequence in clause 25; they have to tell the story coherently. As this is the essential clause of the bill which establishes Australian citizenship for the first time, and makes it the source from which nationality derives, this clause in my opinion is in its proper sequence in the bill. 1 cannot accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) because, whilst it seems to establish equality between the sexes, the fact is that under nationality law nationality has always been regarded as deriving from the father and not from the mother, and we could not have a nationality status deriving from both the father and the mother.
– What will be the position of Australian women who marry aliens and elect to remain Australians and have children? What is the position of such children ?
– If the children are born in Australia they will be Australian citizens. Otherwise the children will take their father’s nationality. Children born out of wedlock will take their mother’s nationality. Children born in Australia of American fathers and Australian mothers during the war were American subjects under American law, but “ their mothers remained Australians, and most of the 10,000 Australian brides who have gone to the United States of America have never surrendered their British nationality to become Americans. Under American law as distinct from British law they do not automatically lose their citizenship by marriage. We are setting the anomaly that Australian women must lose their Australian citizenship and British nationality right in this measure by adopting the American practice.
– What is the position of a woman married to a Dutchman but living in Australia with three children while her husband lives in Java? The three children are Dutch. If she elects to remain an Australian, can she naturalize the children?
– Again, if the children were born in Australia they would be Australian citizens. If they were not born in Australia, the mother could naturalize them in due course, but under the law passed in 1946 she ceases to be even technically an alien. Under the 1937 act brought in by the Lyons Government Australian women married to aliens were given all the rights of British citizenship, although technically they remained aliens. Because we had to have a uniform law throughout the British Commonwealth, we decided by our 1946 legislation to make such women British subjects while they remained in Australia. As that act was an Australian law only and there was no comparable law in force in any other British dominion they became aliens again the moment they passed out of the 3-mile sea limit which defines our national boundaries. In the particular case mentioned by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), the children if not born in Australia would be Dutch if born in Dutch territory because the father is Dutch. Until this measure is proclaimed, if the mother went outside Australia she too would be Dutch, but if she does not intend to go out of Australia but intends to remain here, she remains an Australian but the children remain Dutch until the father becomes naturalized.
– When the father becomes naturalized, the children’s naturalization will automatically follow?
– Yes, because they are under the prescribed age. ‘ Reverting to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke, the point I have put with regard to nationality deriving from the father was upheld by a committee of women which I appointed at the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) in 1946. Senator Tangney was chairman and the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) was vice-chairman of that committee. Its membership included three other eminently qualified ladies and representatives of the Department of
Immigration and the Attorney-General’s Department. That committee upheld the contention that nationality derives from the father. My idea in appointing the committee was that it should consider the difficulties arising from all such questions of nationality law. I am afraid that we would complicate the position inextricably if we were to provide that the nationalities of both the father and the mother should determine the child’s nationality. One or other has to prevail in the matter, and in this man-made civilization the father’s nationality prevails.
.- I should like to raise one point bearing in mind the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn). In order to make my point clear, I refer to clause 11, which deals with citizenship by descent. It states - (1.) Subject to this section, a person born outside Australia after the commencement of this Act shall be an Australian citizen by descent, if -
at the time of the birth -
I should like to know whether a like position could arise with regard to citizenship by birth. What would be the position of a child born out of wedlock of an Australian mother in Australia, or outside Australia whose father is a foreigner ?
– The child is an Australian citizen.
– If born out of wedlock in Australia?
– Yes; and also if born out of wedlock outside Australia, because in both instances it would be presumed the father would have no rights.
– That is interesting. It is clear that, in respect of nationality, a child horn out of wedlock is in a preferred position by comparison with a child born in wedlock.
– In what respect?
– It has been provided that the nationality of a child stems from the father.
– That is, of a child born in wedlock.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bourke seeks to insert in paragraph a, of sub-clause 2, after the word “ father “ the words “ or mother “. The Minister has said that the amendment cannot be accepted because, in determining citizenship at birth, the mother is not recognized. The citizenship of a child born in wedlock stems from the father; but a child born out of wedlock automatically assumes the nationality of the mother. In other words, for the purposes of subclause 2, a child born out of wedlock is placed in a preferred position by comparison with a child born in wedlock. It is to rectify that obvious anomaly in the legislation that the honorable member for Bourke has proposed her amendment. If the Government accepts the amendment the child of the married woman will be given the same rights as the child of an unmarried mother. This extraordinary anomaly should be rectified. I suggest that the Minister should re-examine the amendment more closely.
– I wish to add a word or two to what has been said by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Harrison). The whole matter rests upon responsibility. As the mother is legally responsible for a child born out of wedlock it is from the mother that the nationality of her child stems. I point out to the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) that the purpose of this clause is to establish not who shall be but who shall not be an Australian citizen. I suggest that a woman occupying the position of foreign envoy in Australia would not be likely to be producing a family at that period of her career.
– There has been a good deal of misapprehension about this bill. It is designed primarily to determine citizenship and, through citizenship, nationality in relation to the peoples of other nations. Australian citizenship may be acquired by birth, by descent or by acquisition.
No matter how it be acquired it confers no special rights upon the citizen. The purpose of the hill is simply to determine an Australian citizenship in relation to the Empire and, as such, to the rest of the world. In short, whether one be black or white, one may acquire Australian citizenship. A person who is horn in Australia, in Norfolk Island or in the Territory of Papua is an Australian citizen, but he acquires no rights on that account. It is true that one section of Australian citizens may have different rights from others under our electoral laws. There is a great deal of misapprehension as to what Australian citizenship really means. The Minister agrees, I am sure, that whether citizenship be acquired by birth, by descent or by acquisition, it confers no particular rights but merely indicates that the person concerned is within the protection of the Australian Government, and by virtue of clause 7 of the bill is automatically a British subject owing allegiance to the Crown. These points should be made clear by the Government.
– What the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) has said is, broadly, correct. One acquires citizenship either by birth, by descent, or by acquisition through a process of naturalization. Whether one be born a citizen of Australia or whether he acquires citizenship in Australia, he obtains the advantage of being a British national, and, in addition, the more limited advantage of protection by the Australian Government in matters in which he may need that protection. No attempt has been made to define what rights citizenship confers in respect of matters that are of internal importance, such as the right of the natives of New Guinea, or persons born in New Guinea who are ethnologically of Asiatic origin to travel on the mainland and to engage in certain occupations and do certain other things. We shall look at all these matters at a later stage. If we did not define citizenship and include our mandated territory under our present nationality law the same situation would arise as is envisaged now by the honorable member. I do not dis agree with his view. At a later stage we may have to define what rights are conferred by citizenship and whether those rights are conferred by this legislation on persons living in the mandated territories. All persons born in Australia, whatever may be their ethnological origin, or whatever may be the pigmentation of their skins-
– Including the residents of Norfolk Island.
– The residents of Norfolk Island and Papua who are living in territories of the Commonwealth, are closely related to us and are subject to our laws regardless of what agreement may be arrived at.
– All residents of New Guinea will become citizens of Australia under this bill?
– If they are British subjects before the commencement of this .act, yes, and also all persons of European origin and descent who were born in New Guinea. Under the existing law the natives of Papua have certain rights in Papua as British subjects; but persons of European origin and descent inside Papua if they are aliens have no rights in respect of our nationality laws. We decided to correct that position. All persons born in Australia or Papua, no matter what their pigmentation or ethnic origin, will be Australian citizens. Such persons have always had the right to return to Australia, and that right is to be recognized by conferring Australian citizenship on them. Persons born in the mandated territories will not become Australian citizens by virtue of being born there, but only if descended from British subjects. Persons who come to Australia from Asia, and become the parents of children here, and then take the children away during their tender years, do not thereby acquire a right to return to Australia, nor will the children have that right.
– But the children will be Australian citizens.
– There will be difficulties whatever we do. The wording of this clause is almost identical with the comparable section of the British act, which confers British citizenship, not only upon residents of the United Kingdom, but also upon residents of such places, as Malta, Cyprus and the West Indies. Such persons will ha.s the same rights as persons born in Great Britain, and descended from someone who came over with William the Conqueror, enjoy.
.- ‘ That was always the policy of the United Kingdom, which maintained the open door in regard to citizenship for residents from all parts of the Empire. The only difference between the present situation and what always prevailed is that Great Britain has been reluctantly forced into the position of making a special citizenship for residents of the United Kingdom and residents of the colonies. The Minister said that we might be forced to define in greater detail the position of citizens of Australia, their rights and duties. That, I believe, is exactly what will happen. At present, we have Australian citizenship without its being exactly defined, and without any clear expression of the rights and duties conferred by Australian citizenship. It may be said that there has always been Australian citizenship, but only in the sense of a person having domicile in Australia, which conferred certain rights and duties, including the right to vote. Now, we have gone much further, and defined Australian citizens as native-born Australians, and such other persons as are specifically mentioned in this legislation. My real anxiety is that, inevitably and irresistibly, we shall be forced to define the rights and duties of Australian citizens, just as Canada and the United Kingdom will be driven to define the rights and duties of their citizens. The passage of this legislation will make us tend, even against our will, to draw away from the other parts of the Empire. It will prove to be a disintegrating force. At present, a British subject, who has resided in Australia for six months, has the right to vote.
– He must be a certain kind of British subject.
– Yes, that is so. I accept the correction. Sooner or later, the law will be amended to confer the right to vote, not upon British subjects as such, but only upon Australian citizens. Otherwise, there would be no meaning in the expression Australian citizenship. Our criminal laws will eventually be amended in order to recognize the new situation. In all these things the test will be Australian citizenship, not British subjecthood. Then, in the very nature of things, the United Kingdom Government will bring down legislation providing that a person may not become a member of the Crown forces, in Great Britain, or enter the civil service, or become a member of the learned professions, unless he is a United Kingdom citizen. No such condition exists to-day. Colonials who can scrape up a steamer fare and travel to Great Britain become eligible to vote or to stand for Parliament almost as soon as the ship arrives at Southampton because they are British subjects; but, imperceptibly at first, that will tend to change. Already, Australians are in a worse position under the new legislation than they were before. We cannot stop the present trend, but we ought, at least, to realize where we are going.
– In fairness to the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), I wish to state that my conception of the bill is as I explained it. Some of the Government’s advisers believe that, as New Guinea is a mandated territory, residents are not, under international law, the subjects of His Majesty the King, a fact which may prevent certain of the native population, and any Europeans born there, from becoming Australian citizens by birth. However, they can acquire Australian citizenship by naturalization.
– What about Papua?
– Persons born in Papua automatically become Australian citizens. If we incorporated the Mandated Territory of New Guinea in Australia, as South Africa desires to incorporate German South-West Africa, the position in regard to residents of New Guinea would then become the same as that of residents of Papua. It may be that Australian citizenship can be acquired by residents of New Guinea only by naturalization, but the people of
Papua and Norfolk Island will undoubtedly be Australian citizens. In answer to the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale), I point out that there is nothing in the law to prevent a citizen of Australia, who goes to the United Kingdom, from finding employment under the Crown, from voting, or from standing for Parliament. In the same way, persons coming to Australia from Great Britain will, after six months’ residence, enjoy the right to vote or to stand for Parliament. We could have made the period two years or five years, but it was believed that it was sufficient to fix the period at six months as being long enough to determine whether or not a person intended to remain in the country.
– I did not say that such a law existed; I said that the inevitable tendency would be to pass legislation based on Australian citizenship.
– The honorable member’s contention may or may not be right, but I admit that he has put it forward in a reasonable manner. However, I refer him to paragraph 6 of page 2 of the explanatory memorandum which I circulated.
– When the Minister said that a native of Papua is, under this legislation, an Australian citizen, did he mean that if Papuans came to Australia they would have the right to vote in Australia ?
– We do not even give them the right to come to Australia. An Englishman who came to this country and complied with our electoral laws could exercise restricted rights as a British subject, whereas a native of Papua would be an Australian citizen but would not be capable of exercising rights of citizenship.
– Although the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) was unable to accept the amendment which I have just moved to this clause, I intend to move a further amendment with the same purpose. Of course, I realize from the refusal of the Minister to accept my previous amendment that he will not entertain the amendment which I am now about to move. I move -
That, in sub-clause (2.), paragraph (6), after the word “ father “, the following words be inserted: - “or mother”.
This would actually increase the disability imposed upon the class of people contemplated by the clause, but I had thought on reading the bill that it intended to advocate equal treatment of men and women. I consider that the clause would be more consistent if my amendment is allowed. Another point on which I should like the Minister to enlighten the committee is whether a certificate furnished by the Minister will be conclusive evidence that the place of birth was under occupation by the enemy at the material time. The clause should be worded so as to prevent any ambiguity or misapprehension.
– The Government’s purpose in including sub-clause 2 is to exclude children born of enemy fathers in any part of this country which is in enemy occupation in time of war. After enemy troops have been driven out of an area we do not want the children of mixed marriages and irregular unions to be able to claim the rights of Australian citizenship.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Citizenship by descent).
– I do not think that the clause should pass without some observations being made upon it. In the first place, it reveals a departure from the early rule for determining nationality under British law. The method of determination which was customarily adopted in days of old was that of the soil; in other words, the place of birth of a child determined its nationality. The provisions of this clause go some distance towards substituting for the law of the soil the law of the blood as the determining factor. However, the clause is not even consistent, because the determination of a child’s nationality will not depend wholly upon the law of blood. The clause provides that a person who is born outside Australia after the commencement of the act shall be deemed to be an Australian citizen by descent if at the time of the birth his father was an Australian citizen. In other words, the child will derive its citizenship by virtue of its blood relationship, plus its parents’ citizenship at the stated time, irrespective of the race to which its father belonged. In the case of a person born out of wedlock, whose mother was an Australian citizen, or a British subject ordinarily resident in Australia or New Guinea, he shall be entitled to Australian citizenship.
Sub-clause 1 of the clause reads -
Subject to this section, a person born outside Australia after the commencement of this Act shall be an Australian citizen by descent if -
at the time of the birth -
in the case of a person born out of wedlock, his mother was an Australian citizen or a British subject ordinarily resident in Australia or New Guinea ;
When honorable members consider the implications of the term “ British subject “ in that provision, they will realize how wide the provisions of the clause are. I draw attention to that fact because I think that the committee should realize the probable effects of the operation of the clause. It is conceivable that a person of Chinese, or for that matter, any Oriental blood, who is born of a white woman outside wedlock, may be entitled to Australian citizenship because of the operation of clause 10, and the offspring of the union will become Australian citizens by descent under clause 11. Those provisions should be made clear to all members of the committee. The purpose of the bill is to define Australian citizenship in relation to two matters; first, the common subjecthood of citizens of the British crown; secondly, the delineation of Australian citizenship for the protection of the Australian Government. As I understand the measure, it does not confer any rights at all on an Australian citizen, whether he be white or black, because the definition of rights will be the subject of other legislation.
– British nationality law has never declared that a British citizen must be born on British soil. Under British nationality law a child born of a British family in a foreign country is entitled to British citizenship. Some important judicial decisions have been given on this matter, and I commend to the attention of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) the reports of the case of W. H. Fielding. Fielding was born in New York of a British father, and during his adulthood he contested a seat in the Legislative Council of Victoria. Objection was taken to the validity of his candidature on the ground that he was an American national because he had been born on American soil. However, the courts held that the fact that he had a British father entitled him to be regarded as a British subject.
– I shall not debate that case with tho Minister. The point which I am endeavouring to make is that the concept of British nationality imported into the bill is an entirely new one.
– It may be new in Australian legislation, because we are now proposing for the first time to establish Australian citizenship. However, I think that the honorable member will discover on examination that one does not need to be born inside the King’s domains to be regarded as a British subject; it is sufficient that his father was a British subject. A famous organization to which I have belonged for many years, the Australian Natives Association, has always accepted for membership persons born outside Australia who are descended from an Australian father, and I assume that the association had some basis in law for its attitude.
.- This clause maintains the conception of citizenship by descent derived from the father, and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) stated that it was included after advice from a committee of women who were appointed to inquire into the matter some time ago. Apparently that committee, having considered the matter, advised that that should still be the basis. Sub-section 1 reads as follows : -
Subject to this section, a person born outside Australia after the commencement of this Act shall ; be an Australian citizen by descent if . . .
the birth is registered at an Australian Consulate within one year after its occurrence or, in special circumstances, within such extended period as the Minister allows.
L agree substantially with the reasons that have been given for the insertion of this provision in the bill, but it assumes that there are Australian consulates in every part of the world in which a child of an Australian citizen is likely to be born. There must, in fact, be many parts of the world in which there are no Australian consulates. Does this provision mean that if there is no Australian consulate in the part of the world in which a child referred to in this clause is born, the child will not have the benefit of Australian citizenship because its birth could not be registered at an Australian consulate ? I suggest that the Minister should examine paragraph b with a view to inserting “ or British “ after the word “ Australian “.
– Clause 5, the definitions clause, defines the term “ Australian consulate “ as follows : - “Australian consulate “‘means theoffice of a diplomatic or consular officer of the Australian Government at which a register of births is kept or, in a country where there is no such office or in New Guinea, such office as is approved by the Minister and includes an office of the Department of Immigration;
It could include a British consulate.
– It could, if the Minister approved.
– And he would so approve.
– That would involve some officer, when this legislation became effective, studying maps of all the countries of the world and finding those in which there are at present no Australian consulates. The Minister would then h ave to approve, by regulation, proclamation, or other appropriate means, some alternative office.
– It is done now in regard to the issue of vises.
– Sub-clause 2 provides -
A person who, after the commencement of this Act, is horn in a country to which section seven of this Act applies, and whose father, or, in the case of a person born out of wedlock, whose mother, was an Australian citizen not ordinarily resident in Australia or New Guinea at the time of the birth, shall not become an Australian citizen under this section if, under the law of that country, he became a citizen of that country at birth.
– The sub-clause covers cases of dual nationality, and there are plenty of them.
– I appreciate that. It is proposed that Australian citizenship shall be granted to a child born in one of the countries specified in clause 7 whose mother is an Australian citizen ordinarily resident in Australia. That concession is made. Why is it necessary that the test should be whether the mother is ordinarily resident in Australia? If she is in fact an Australian citizen, why should her child not be given the benefit of Australian citizenship automatically?
– The child referred to in sub-clause 1 (a) (i) is a. child born in wedlock, whereas the child referred to in sub-clause 1 (a) (ii) is a child born out of wedlock. The distinction is clearly marriage, but the use of the word “ father “ does not clearly express that. It is only by reading sub-clause 1 (a) (ii) that one sees that marriage is the point of difference. Could that be clarified?
– The presumption is that, where a father is referred to, he is the father of a child born in wedlock, because what follows in relation to a mother relates to a child born out of wedlock.
The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) has asked, in effect, why sub-clause 2 should be limited to children born in other British Commonwealth countries and why a child born in a foreign country should not.be prevented from becoming an Australian citizen if his father was not ordinarily resident in Australia. The purpose of the provision is to reduce the number of persons who will possess the citizenship of more than one British Commonwealth country. If we did not provide that when a parent ceased to be ordinarily resident in Australia the child should not have that protection, it could happen that such a child could, by residence somewhere else, acquire, say, Canadian citizenship, and thus have a multiplicity of citizenships. We want to reduce the number of persons who will possess the citizenship of more than one British Commonwealth country. It is not desired, however, that any child of an Australian citizen should be prevented from acquiring British nationality merely because his father was not ordinarily a resident of Australia.
– I was referring to the mother.
– A child born in a British country is at least assured of the status of a British subject, whereas one born in foreign territory would not acquire that statue unless it acquired the status of an Australian citizen. Germany had a system of dual nationality, and China and a number of other countries have similar systems. It is considered that it would be going too far to give an Australian no opportunity to pass on British nationality to his child.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 (Registration as Australian citizens).
– This is the clause by which Austraiian citizenship may be acquired by registration. Clause 7 set out the countries, citizenship of which carries the status of British subjecthood. Clause 12 states - (1.) The Minister may, upon application in the prescribed manner, grant a certificate of registration as an Australian citizen to a person who is a citizen of a country to which section seven of this Act applies, or an Irish citizen, and satisfies the Minister -
that he is of full age and of full capacity ;
Those words make it perfectly clear what the Minister has in mind. I direct attention to the parallel British legislation, and ask why the principle that is em bodied in that legislation has not been followed in this measure. It has been pointed out that the introduction of a law of this kind in the various dominions, because of the conditions that they may impose before granting citizenship, has a tendency to drive us further apart. In the British act, it is laid down, for example, that an Australian citizen who is a British subject may, after residing in the United Kingdom for a period of twelve months, acquire United Kingdom and colony citizenship. But under the present measure the acquisition by a British subject in Australia of Australian citizenship after twelve months’ residence is at the discretion of the Minister. The bill provides that a British subject must have resided in Australia for a period of five years out of the eight years preceding his application for citizenship, or for a period of twelve months, when he may acquire citizenship at the discretion of the Minister. No such discretionary power is provided in the British act, the provisions of which are specific. I should like the Minister to tell the House why an Englishman or a Scotsman who comes to Australia should be under a greater disadvantage in acquiring the citizenship of his adopted country than is an Australian residing in England or Scotland. If we go so far as to extend reciprocal privileges to the citizens of the Republic of Ireland there is no reason why we should not extend the same re:ciprocal privileges to the other dominions and the United Kingdom. I should like the Minister to explain that discrepancy, because it seems that we are straining at the gnat whilst swallowing the camel.
I am also concerned over the position of an Englishman or a .Scotsman who is resident in Australia, .at the time of the passage of this bill.
– He would become automatically an Australian citizen.
– What would be his position should he wish to retain United Kingdom and colony citizenship and not to become an Australian citizen? Must he make application to retain his United Kingdom and colony citizenship rights or alternatively to obtain Australian citizenship rights? The Minister has stated that he would automatically become an Australian, but he might not wish to do so.
– He would automatically become an Australian citizen if he wanted to become one.
– Must he register?
– So there we have the extraordinary position that an Englishman may acquire two citizenship rights.
– He might believe that he was a British subject and decide to retain his status as a United Kingdom citizen. He might say, “What am I to do? Must I make application to obtain Australian citizenship, or renounce my United Kingdom citizenship?”. The Minister stated that he would automatically acquire Australian citizenship. How could such a man decide in which category he stood, if he were not required to make an application to acquire Australian citizenship but made a mental reservation that he would remain a United Kingdom citizen? If he returned to the United Kingdom would he be looked upon as an Australian citizen and have to make application to become a United Kingdom citizen, or would the fact that he was born in the United Kingdom prior to the passage of this legislation in Australia automatically entitle him to his United Kingdom citizenship on his return to that country? A mental reservation about his citizenship rights would not give him the true citizenship rights that he might claim. I know full well that there will be a great difference in these citizenship rights according to whether an individual is a British subject, but considering that we are laying so much stress on creating an Australian nationality and that the United Kingdom has introduced a bill to define United Kingdom and colony citizenship, it seems to me that some definite and positive action would have to be taken by a person to claim the rights of either a United Kingdom citizen or of an Australian citizen.
– In the transitional stages of the early operation of the act, it is possible that a British subject who automatically becomes an Australian citizen will be also a citizen of the United Kingdom and the colonies. There will be some instances of dual citizenship, just as at present there are some of dual nationality, but as time goes on and persons are born into citizenship there will be no such thing as automatic acquisition of citizenship by residence. Automatic acquisition of citizenship by British subjects will be just a passing phase in the early stages of the operation of the act, ‘but some provision has to be made for people who find themselves in Australia as British subjects and automatically become Australian citizens without wanting to do so. Such persons need never register as Australian citizens and if they return to the United Kingdom they will on their entry to that country immediately resume their United Kingdom citizenship without difficulty or interference. The honorable gentleman also referred to the question of the five-year period of qualification for citizenship rights. Different dominions have different laws applying to qualification for citizenship rights. Canada requires five years’ residence before any one from any other dominion may acquire Canadian citizenship. Great Britain requires one year. Under this measure Australia will require five years or one year, whichever the Minister in his discretion decides.
– Is it five out of the last eight years, or some other shorter period ?
– Or some other shorter period not being less than one year, as the Minister decides. There will be some reciprocity. For instance, we should give a British subject from the United Kingdom registration in one year, but if a person came from Canada, a dominion that will not allow an Australian to become a Canadian citizen under five years, we would be perfectly entitled to say that, on a basis of reciprocity, he could not become an Australian citizen under five years.
– I hope that the Government will not apply that principle.
– Perhaps we shall not, hut as there are different standards we have put both standards in the bill which will leave to the Minister the determination of what is best in the existing circumstances. If there was a uniform one-year qualification period throughout the Commonwealth, we should have followed suit and provided for a one-year qualification period in the present measure instead of placing the responsibility on the Minister to decide whether the qualifying period is to be five years or one year.
– I should like an elucidation of the clause under debate, or the clause to which the matter to which I shall refer is relevant. Thousands of people in Australia will be affected by this measure. The Minister has said that a British subject who comes to Australia or is at present here will automatically become an Australian citizen. Many such people fear that their status may be affected and have mentioned their fears to me. They have been advised that they will be required to register. I have perused the bill, and I cannot see a clause which provides that they automatically become Australian citizens by virtue of the fact that they are residing in this country at the commencement of the Act.
– I refer the honorable member to clause 25.
– I have examined that clause, but it does not appear to me to specify that they shall automaticallybecome Australian citizens. The provision is not so clear as it should be, and people who are affected by it have been advised by their attorneys that they will have to seek registration.
– They will not be obliged to seek registration, but they may register, if they like.
– I am aware that I am speaking on clause 12, and that the issues which I have raised may be covered by clause 25; but I should like the Minister to make a specific declaration about the clauses which will automatically confer Australian citizenship upon subjects of the United Kingdom and other countries constituting the
British Empire. If the honorable gentleman will do so, he will remove the cause of a good deal of disquiet in the minds of the people to whom I have referred.
.- This clause is as good an illustration as we have had so far of what has already been referred to as the way in which some of us will be worse off under this legislation than under the old act. In the United Kingdom, under the previous legislation, and, indeed, under the new Nationality Act, before a British subject coming from the Dominions can acquire British citizenship all that is required is that he shall have remained in the country for twelve months, or be in the Crown service. The provisions of clause 12 of the bill, however, are not so restrictive that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a prospective Australian to comply with them. A British subject who comes to Australia from the United Kingdom or another dominion must jump six hurdles before he can acquire Australian citizenship. First, he must be of full age and capacity. Secondly, he must have resided in this country for five out of the previous eight years, or such less time but not less than twelve months, as the Minister may determine. Thirdly, he must be of good character. Fourthly, he must have an adequate knowledge of the English language or have resided here for 20 years. Fifthly, he must have a knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship, whatever that means. Sixthly, he must intend to reside in Australia or enter the Crown service in this country. In comparison with the position of a British subject of Australia seeking to acquire British citizenship in England, those requirements are startling. Great Britain is preserving an open door whilst Australia, Canada and certain other dominions are imposing restrictions. The fact that the United Kingdom is preserving an open door is beneficial to Australians. In this instance Australians who go to the United Kingdom will be in a better position than that of British subjects who come to Australia from the United Kingdom or from the other dominions.
The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) stated that it was necessary that there should be some degree of flexibility in . the period of residence qualifying a person to obtain Australian citizenship by registration because other dominions such as Canada have imposed a period of five years. I do not recognize the validity of that argument. The United Kingdom imposes a period of only one year and, if we accept the Minister’s contention, the United Kingdom should impose a period of five years or introduce a provision allowing flexibility. What is good enough for the United Kingdom in this matter should be good enough for Australia. However, we are making it difficult for British subjects to come here by imposing a number of qualifications which a person who desires to acquire Australian citizenship by registration must fulfil. Those qualifications are taken from the clauses provided in respect of people acquiring nationality by naturalization. In this clause we are dealing with people of a different category. We are dealing with our own kinsfolk from other parts of the British Empire; This provision is a mistake and I hope that it is not yet too late to repair it. I hear laughter from Mr. Speaker. It seems to fill him with hilarity.
– I am referring not to you, sir, but to another gentleman.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I ask the honorable member to deal with the clause.
– It is a mistake to impose on citizens of the British Commonwealth who desire to acquire Australian citizenship by registration the same onerous conditions as we impose on foreigners who seek Australian citizenship by naturalization. This clause provides another illustration of the way in which British subjects coming to Australia from abroad will be worse off in future than they have been in the past when they could simply move from one part of the British Commonwealth of Nations to another by the one sign and symbol that they were British subjects.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 agreed to.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1948 -
No. 83 - Vehicle Builders Employees’ Federation of Australia.
No. 84 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Nos. 85 and 86 - Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australasia.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Health - -J. Entwistle.
Interior - B. Bradshaw, J. E. Fewins, K.P.Lynch.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Mannibadar, Victoria.
Science and Industry Endowment Act - Report by the Auditor-General on the accounts of the Science and Industry
Endowment Fund for year 1947-48.
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Australia export to (a) the United Kingdom; (b) New Zealand, and (c) India, in each of the years 1946-47 and 1947-48?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
I should point out to the honorable member that the figures which I have given relate to shipments during financial years and include wheat and flour from three crops, namely, the crops harvested at the end of 1945, 1940 and 1947. Export sales during the two year period from the 1st July, 1946, to 30th June, 1948, were made at various prices. The figures I have given are average prices for shipments to the three countries concerned. In the case of New Zealand the average price for 1946-47 is a blend of shipments at 9s.6d. from the 1945-46 crop, and at 5s. 9d. from the 1940-47 crop. Similarly the average price for 1947-48 in the case of New Zealand is a blend of two prices - 5s. 9d. on shipments up to the end of January, 1948, and6s. 4d. on shipments after February. This increase brought the price of New Zealand into line with the homeconsumption price of6s. 3d. f.o.r., which is equivalent to 6s. 4d. f.o.b.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable gentleman’s questions are as follows : -
Notes on Table. - No allowance is made for the inflow of North American capital into Australia. A recent estimate by the United States Department of Commerce showed that United States capital investment in Australia increased by about £6,000,000 in the calendar year 1947. It is believed that the inflow of United States and Canadian capital was of the order of £10,000,000 in both 1946-47 and 1947-48 but that figure is only tentative. However, it must be taken into account when estimating Australia’s net dollar deficit. Australia’s gold production of about £10,000,000 in 1947-48 was sold to the United Kingdom against payment in sterling. This gold may be regarded as equivalent to dollars and is thus an offset to the deficit for 1947-48 shown in the table. However, Australia’s contribution of £3,800,000 million in gold to the International Monetary Fund and International Bank of Reconstruction and Development during 1947-48 must be regarded as increasing her dollar deficit.
y. - On the 24th Septem ber, the honorable member for Went- worth (Mr. Harrison) asked the fallowing questions: -
Inow inform the honorable member as follows : - 1. (a) Three in Australia, one in London and one in New York; (b) one in Australia and one in London; (c) three in Australia. 2. (a) South-West Pacific, circulation 7,000, quarterly, free. Facts and Figures, circulation 30,000, quarterly, free. Know Australia, printed as required, free. (There was an issue of 400,000 during 1940-47 and two issues, one of 50,000 and one of 15,000, during 1947-48.) Australia, circulation 10,000, issued quarterly in New York, free. Australia, circulation 15,000, issued monthly in London, free. (6) To-morrow’s Australians, circulation 6,000, monthly, free. Australia and the Migrant, circulation 10,000, issued monthly in London, free. The Department of Immigration also issues individual booklets as distinct from regular publications to cover specific fields of inquiry. Such publications are issued only as the demand warrants and those in current circulation are - Education in Australia, circulation60,000, free. Australia and You, circulation 50,000, free. Booklet for U.S. Veterans, circulation 50,000, free. Happy in a New Homeland, circulation 75.000, free. A Handbook for the New Australian, in six separate State editions, is now in production. (c) Current Affairs Bulletin, circulation 21,000, fortnightly, price 4d. each, 10s. per annum or special rates for bulk supplies. Discussion Poster, circulation 1,200, fortnightly, price6d. each, 10s. per annum or special rates for bulk supplies. Education News, circulation 1,450, six times a year, free. The Department of Post-war Reconstruction also issues individual booklets and pamphlets as distinct from regular publications. Examples of these are - Occupational pamphlets (seven issues), circulation 236,500, free. Change Over (eight issues), circulation 105.000, free. Return to Civil Life, circulation 50,000, free. Legal Service, circulation 25,000, free. Communities in Action To-day, circulation 20,000, free. Australian Resources, circulation 5,000,1s. 6d. each or special rates for bulk supplies.
Department of Post-war Reconstruction 1947-48 - £15,700, 22 tons. No newsprint was or will be used.
Iron and Steel
n. - On the 23rd November, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. McBride) asked a question concerning the shipment of iron and steel to South Australia. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information: -
In the period from the 1st August, 1948, to the 31st October, 1948, over 30,000 tons of steel was shipped from Newcastle and Port Kembla to South Australia and at the present time there are accumulations of steel products awaiting shipment to South -Australia of 15,000 tons at Newcastle and 3,800 tons at Port Kembla. The necessity of providing additional shipping to transport the increased quantity of coal that has been available for shipment in recent weeks has necessitated a reallocation of available vessels from other trades to that of coal shipment. The vessel Levenpool. which the honorable member has mentioned, was one vessel whose steel loading was cancelled to enable it to lift urgently needed coal for Adelaide. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited’s vessel Iron Knob is now loading a cargo of steel for South Australia and the Australian Shipping Board has made available the vessels Oakby and Swainby to load steel products for Adelaide. These three vessels will clear the whole of the existing accumulations of South Australian steel products.
Townsville Water Supply.
n. - On the 24th November, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) asked a question concerning the shipment of water pipes to Townsville, Queensland. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information : -
At the present time there is approximately 1,000 tons of steel products at Newcastle awaiting shipment to North Queensland ports including Townsville and the Australian Shipping Board will allot a vessel this week to commence loading the total quantity available. If the goods required by the Townsville Council are included in the quantity available for shipment while this vessel is loading they will be included in the cargo lifted.
n. - On the 24th November, the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) asked a question concerning the functions of the Australian Shipping Board. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information: -
The Australian Shipping Board, which is still operating under powers contained in the National Security (Shipping Co-ordination) Regulations, no longer exercises the powers of control contained in the regulations and which were designed to meet the situation which applied during the war years. The board at present has virtually only one function, viz., to operate on behalf of the Government the Commonwealth-owned vessels and vessels chartered from overseas. The board at present is the largest single operator of ships in the Commonwealth and has 42 vessels under its control. Twenty-six of these are Commonwealthowned ships and the remainder are chartered from overseas. The number of chartered vessels fluctuates, but at the present there are sixteen of these ships. The uses to which various vessels are put vary from time to time in accordance with the most urgent needs around the coast and speaking generally the Commonwealth vessels are not engaged in any fixed trades, but are employed as occasion warrants to cover the needs of any particular area or the shipment of any particular commodity. This method of operating ships is uneconomic and could not be undertaken by private companies. The costs involved are accepted by the Commonwealth as a contribution towards assisting to maintain essential shipping services around the Australian coast. At the present juncture the vessels under the board’s control are disposed as follows: - Coal/ironstone trade, 14; Tasmanian trade, 8; Eastern States-Darwin service, 1 ; under charter to Western Australia State Shipping Service, 2; vessels under sub? charter, 3; engaged in the general cargo and miscellaneous trades, 12; under refit, 2; total, 42. In addition to the above, two 0,000-ton vessels, Barrigun and Balaar, have recently been sold to private shipping companies. Although no control is exercised over Australian shipping, a voluntary system has been in operation since the derequisitioning of the privately owned coastal vessels whereby the disposition of ships comprising the Australian coastal fleet, both government and privately owned, is directed by a Joint Traffic Committee on which both the private shipowners and the Australian Shipping Board are represented. The Combined Traffic Committee allocates vessels to various trades in accordance with the cargoes offering, the vessels available and the most urgent needs existing at the time. Vessels of the privately owned companies are insufficient to cater for all trades and the ships of the Australian Shipping Board are used from time to time to supplement the tonnage of the private companies, particularly in such trades as the Queensland sugar trade, shipment of steel, timber, &c. Thus the Australian Shipping Board, while it has no direct control over shipping, is able to influence the direction of Australian shipping by virtue of the tonnage which it operates and through the machinery of the Combined Traffic Committees.
n. - On the 26th November, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Rankin) asked a question concerning irregularities in the issue of petrol ration tickets. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information : -
No high official of the Victorian Liquid Fuel Control Board has recently been suspended. Recently three junior officers were suspended pending an investigation involving irregularities in the issue of special licences. Prosecutions followed and the officers were found guilty of an offence and consequently convicted. Each officer so involved has now been dismissed.
Postal Department : Opening of Registered Letter.
y. - On the 16th November, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) asked me a question concerning the publication in the press of the account of the opening of a registered letter containing £700 in £10 bank notes at the General Post Office, Brisbane.
I am informed that the question appears to relate to an ordinary parcel enclosing £6,910 in £10 treasury notes, which was posted at the William-street Post Office, Sydney, and delivered during February, 1948, to an address in Brisbane. Because the identity of the addressee was not known at the address indicated, the parcel was returned to the Chief Parcel Office, Mail Branch, Sydney, for return to the sender. No particulars relative to the name and address of the sender appeared on the parcel and, although extensive inquiries have been undertaken by the department, it has not been possible to establish by whom the parcel was posted. In the circumstances, the contents of the parcel (£6,910) have been paid into miscellaneous revenue, but should the sender be able to satisfy the Postmaster-General’s Department as to bis identity and produce the required evidence of the posting of the parcel, the money will be made available.
n. - On the 18th November, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) asked me the following question : -
Can the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research say whether any research has been made into flour milling methods to determine what methods best retain the nutritive value of flour? If so, will the findings be published? If no research has yet been conducted, will the Minister consider the possibility of instituting such research?
I now advise the honorable member as follows : -
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has not conducted investigations into flour milling methods to determine which best retain the nutritive value of flour. The subject has been considered, however, by the National Health and Medical Research Council and reference is made to it in Appendix 2, page 41, of the report of the Council at its Twelfth Session in 1941, and, also, in the Appendix on page 8 of the Fourteenth Session of the Council held in 1942. These reports are available to honorable members in the Parliamentary Library.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made in regard to these matters and I shall advise the honorable member of the result as soon as possible.
n. - On the 23rd November the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) asked a question concerning the shipment of sugar to Tasmania and the diversion of the vessel Inchmay from the Tasmanian run to the New Guinea service. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following information : -
The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited has made stocks of sugar available for shipment to Tasmania but the company does notwish to shipmore than 1,500 tons in any one vessel. This requirement of the company means that full advantage cannot always be taken of the shipping available to transport sugar. The snipping service between Sydney and Tasmania is mainly carried on by the Union Steamship Company and when this company has not sufficient tonnage available to lift all the cargo offering the Australian Shipping Board provides supplementary tonnage as required. Insofar as the vessel Inchmay is concerned, although it had been in-‘ tended to divert the ship to New Guinea for a special voyage a substitute vessel has now been allotted for this purpose and the Inchmay will loadfor Hobart as originally intended. It is not a fact that vessels from the Tasmanian service are called on whenever diversions are made for special reasons as the requirements of the whole Australian coastal trade are considered by traffic committees on which the private shipping companies and the Australian Shipping Board are represented. In the case of Tasmania the shipping requirements of the State are advised to the Tasmanian Traffic Committee by the Tasmanian . Government through specially appointed liaison officers in Melbourne and Sydney. In addition the Director of Shipping has had a representative in Tasmania for Borne months making a special study of the requirements of that State and the Australian Shipping Board makes particular endeavours to provide additional tonnage for the Tasmanian service whenever the Tasmanian Traffic Committee is unable to allot sufficient tonnage to meet the State’s requirements.
Russia : Charges bt Mr. Christopher Mayhew.
Mr.Chifley. - On the 27th October the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) asked questions concerning statements reported to have been made by Mr. Christopher Mayhew. Further to my written reply to the honorable member’s questions, I desire to inform him that the official summary of the proceedings of the one hundred and third meeting of the Third Committee of the General Assembly has now been received. This record contains a summary of a speech by Mr. Mayhew which is apparently that referred to by the honorable member. The text of the summary of Mr. Mayhew’s speech is attached as requested by the honorable member, and to the extent that answers can be given to parts one, two and three of the honorable member’s question, this record will supply them. The debate as a whole contains the discussion of amendments (proposed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and others) to Article 3 of the Draft Declaration on Human Bights. This article reads - “Every one has the right to life, liberty and security of person “. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republic’s amendment proposed, inter alia, the abolition of the death penalty in time of peace. The other amendments expanded or added to in various ways the concepts embodied in the original draft article. It is not proposed to reproduce the full record for general distribution to honorable members. A copy of the full summary record of the one hundred and third meeting will, however, be made available for the honorable member to ‘ peruse, if he bo desires.
Extract from the Proceedings of the Third Session, Third Committeeof the United Nations, 15th October. Mr. Mathew (United Kingdom) supported the statements of the French and Chinese representatives. While it duly appreciated the efforts of all the delegations which had submitted amendments and constructive suggestions, the United Kingdom delegation thought that the Third Committee should show greater respect’ for the draft prepared by the Commission on Human Sights.
As regards the question of capital punishment, Mr. Mayhew wished to make it clear that a vote on the amendment submitted by the U.S.S.R. could in no way be interpreted as a vote against or. in favour of. the abolition of the death penalty.”
To illustrate his point of view he recalled that in spite of the fact that capital punishment was in use in Czechoslovakia, the Czechoslovak delegation had stated that it would vote in favour of the U.S.S.R. amendment. Similarly, countries which had abolished capital punishment were free to vote against the U.S.S.R. amendment if they felt that it was out of place in article 3.
Mr. Mayhew expressed the hope that the position of countries such as his, which had not abolished the death penalty, would be respected, and that they would not be forced to withhold their approval of the whole of the declaration.
He deplored the fact that the Third Committee was used by some delegations as » platform from which to make tendentious accusations for propaganda purposes against countries thatdid not share their ideology.
The representative of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, had attacked the United States of America on the question of lynching, and the Yugoslav representative had just done the same; he had attacked the United Kingdom on the question of the alleged exploitation of the populations of non-self-governing territories under its care. The United States delegation had confined itself to a brief and dignified reply; the United Kingdom delegation had preferred to make no reply. Bothhad hoped that their self-restraint would be rewarded; they had been mistaken.
He did not wish his silence to be mistaken for weakness or for inability to answer. The allegations of the U.S.S.R. were, however, easy to refute. To Bee that, it would be sufficient to refer to the information which the United Kingdom scrupulously supplied to the Non-Self-Governing Territories Division of the Secretariat, in accordance with the provisions of Article 73b of the Charter. It Bhowed a constant decrease in the death rate in all the territories administered by the United Kingdom. Far from creating conditions which, as claimed by the U.S.S.R. delegation, promoted hunger and death among the indigenous population, the activity of the United Kingdomexpressed itself in the creation of conditions which compared favorably with those in other under-developed areas of the world. A comparison must be drawn between areas, whether autonomous or not, with thesame degree of development, and not, as was insidiously done by the U.S.S.R. delegation when it contrasted India with the British Isles, between an under-developed area and one which, on the contrary, had reached a very high standard of living.
Not only did the United Kingdom delegation formally refute the allegations of the U.S.S.R. representative, but it wished to state that it did not recognize the moral right of the U.S.S.R. to make such accusations against the United Kingdom. The U.S.S.R., claiming to be the only country qualified to speak on behalf of democracy, had erected within its borders a system which made slaves of millions of human beings. Such a phenomenon was unprecedented in all history.
Since 1930 the world had felt concern about the existence of forced labour in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. But, at the time, it had been viewed as a normal phenomenon, the inevitable result of a vast social experi ment. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had, for a long time, been accorded the benefit of a doubt, and even a certain amount of sympathy.
However, the war had taught the world a . terrible lesson. The discovery of concentration camps in Nazi Germany had proved that it was possible for a totalitarian state to conceal its activities from its own population and even from its officials, and that once a State resorted to police methods it could no longer stop.
An ever-increasing amount of evidence had engendered doubts in the minds of those who were most ardently in favour of the Soviet regime. It showed that the statements which claimed the U.S.S.R. to be the workers’ paradise were nothing but shameful fraud. Mr. Mayhew recalled that, as far back as 1931, Mr. Molotov had announced to the Sixth Congress of the Soviets that great public works would be undertaken with the helpof “masses deprived of liberty”; and whereas the U.S.S.R. continued, on the one hand, to executive large-scale projects, it did not, on the other, grant any amnesty or liberate its prisoners. The most conservative estimate reached after a perusal of Soviet publications placed the number of prisoners in the U.S.S.R. at 1,830,000; non-Soviet estimates placed that number at several millions. Furthermore, tragic reports of the conditions prevailing in the U.S.S.R. detention camps came from prisoners who had escaped from those camps; such testimony was perhaps not to be accepted without a certain amount of scepticism, but it could not be discarded completely.
The anxiety of the free world was aroused; the free peoples of the world wished to have their questions answered. If there was nothing to hide, why did the U.S.S.R. surround itself with so much secrecy ? It was patent that the anxiety was justified and that was why the United Kingdom could not allow Soviet propaganda to attack, as it was doing, the liberty and the way of life of democratic peoples.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 November 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1948/19481130_reps_18_200/>.