House of Representatives
28 June 1949

18th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) took the chair at 3 p.m., and’ read prayers.

page 1548




– Has the Prime Minister read the report of a speech made by Mr. W. H. Spooner, President of the New South “Wales branch of the Liberal party, when addressing the annual convention of that organization in Sydney oh the 23rd June last ? Mr. Spooner is reported to have said -

The Labour party was prepared to take all the help it could get from Communists in order to hold power but was pretending that it was opposed to Communism. There is a simple way to test the sincerity of the Labour party. We challenge them to adopt the Liberal party procedure of always placing the Communist candidate last on the ballot-paper.

Is it not a fact that in former State general elections the Communist candidates, Mr. Graham for the Hartley seat, and Mr. Williams for the Paddington seat, were given the second preference votes of the candidates for the Liberal party, then known as the United Australia party, in preference to other candidates contesting those electorates? Is it not also a fact that the Liberal party “ How to vote “card for the 1946 Senate election gave to the Communist party group, composed of Messrs. Sharkey, Walsh and White, 4th, 5th and 6th preferences, to the returned soldier Labour candidate, Senator Ashley, the 19th preference, and to his two colleagues the 20th and 21st preferences? I further ask the Prime Minister to say whether the allocation of these preferences does not indicate that the Liberal party was prepared to accept Communist support for political purposes ?


– I have not read the statement about preferences by Mr. Spooner, but I know that Senator Ashley was placed after the Communist candidate by the conservative section of our political opponents. What the honorable gentleman has said about the placing of preferences is correct. It is also true that on several occasions in State elections, and on at least one occasion that comes clearly to my mind, a conservative candidate’s election was due to the distribution of Communists preferences. It is also true that an election candidate representing the party led by the honorable member for Reid was also returned on one occasion as the result of the allocation of Communist preferences. I have not read the speech by Mr. Spooner and can therefore make no further comment upon it.

page 1548




– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service any information regarding the likelihood of an early settlement of the waterside dispute at Hobart, that has now continued for four weeks?


– I have no information about that matter but I shall mention it to the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and ascertain whether he can supply me with any information that I can pass on to the honorable member.


– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel. On Friday last I received urgent telegrams from the Sugar Manufacturers Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Merchants Association at Mackay, stating that the Port Committee at Mackay had suspended the whole of the members of the Mackay branch of the Waterside Workers Federation for a month, which means that the port will be tied up for that period and that great hardship will be caused to people in that centre. Will the honorable gentleman confer with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel and ascertain what action has been taken and what are the prospects of an early settlement of the dispute at Mackay?

Minister for Defence · CORIO, VICTORIA · ALP

– I had not heardof the action taken by the Port Committee at Mackay. It is difficult to understandwhy such action should have been taken. I shall immediately consult with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel who, I am sure, will inquire into the matter immediately and ascertain what remedial action can be taken.

*Coal Strike.* [28 June, 1949.] *Goal Strike.* 1549 {: .page-start } page 1549 {:#debate-2} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-2-0} #### COAL STRIKE Seat of Government - Parliamentary Sittings - Postal Services - Unemployment Benefit {: #subdebate-2-0-s0 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr LANG:
REID, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Prime Minister consider the removal of the seat of Government, temporarily, to Sydney, so that the Parliament will be on the spot to deal with the hour-to-hour emergency arising from the coal crisis and also so as to discount all suggestions that the members of the Parliament are not sharing in the general hardships and privations nowbeing experienced by the people? {: #subdebate-2-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- No. {: #subdebate-2-0-s2 .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Prime Minister, on. behalf of the Government, give the House an assurance that the Parliament will be kept continuously in session during the present grave crisis in the nation's affairs, due to the coal strike, and that the Parliament will be given an opportunity to discuss, and, if necessary, to deal with the strike position each week? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- I am not prepared to give any assurance-- {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- Why? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- I am not prepared to give any assurance about how long the Parliament will sit. That will be a matter for determination by the Parliament itself, and not by me. At the moment, it seems that the Parliament will sit this week and next week to deal with the business appearing on the business paper. If there is other 'business to be transacted the Government will determine whether, in its opinion, the. Parliament should sit longer than is at present intended, and it will make a recommendation to that effect to the Parliament, which will itself decide the date of adjournment. {: #subdebate-2-0-s3 .speaker-KHY} ##### Mr HOWSE:
CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General arrange with the Minister for Civil Aviation for all first-class mails to he carried by air, particularly in country districts, during the national emergency caused by the coal strike ; and following the complete dislocation of rail services? If that suggestion cannotbe adopted, will he arrange with the Minister for Transport for all first-class mail matter to be carried by road,because the restriction on rail services is causing great inconvenience? {: #subdebate-2-0-s4 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
Minister for Immigration · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP -- I shall ask the Postmaster-General to discuss with the Minister for Civil Aviation the proposals that the honorable gentleman has made, and supply an answer as soon as possible. The Minister for Civil Aviation is doing his utmost to secure the best possible services not only in regard to mails but also in relation to other matters which concern the people who are affected by the strike. {: #subdebate-2-0-s5 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT:
FAWKNER, VICTORIA -- Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services make a statement for the guidance of the public and of honorable members generally, about the conditions on which unemployment benefit payments may be made to those who find themselves out of work because of the coal strike? Is the unemployment benefit limited according to income received from other sources or by the wives of unemployed persons? Will the Minister make available to honorable members a few copies of the forms that have to be filled in so that constituents who apply to them for forms may be supplied with them and so may apply for unemployment relief? {: #subdebate-2-0-s6 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
Minister for Labour and National Service · MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · ALP -- I think the law is well-known by those who are likely to wish to avail themselves of it. If the honorable member thinks I should do so I shall obtain two or three copies of the forms for them. Seven days must elapse before unemployment benefit payments may begin. Eligibility for the benefit depends on a works test and an income test. Persons who refuse work offered to them within a reasonable distance of their homes debar themselves from receiving the benefit. If no work is offering, single persons are entitled to 25s. a week, and a married man is entitled to 25s. a week for himself plus £1 a week for his wife and 5s. a week for the first child, making a total of 50s. a week. The permissible income without affecting the unemployment benefit is £1 a week. That is not quite so much as is allowed under other social services legislation, but the amount has not been reviewed since variations were made in the similar payments under other headings. 1550 *Widows' Pensions.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Population.* {: .page-start } page 1550 {:#debate-3} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-3-0} #### WIDOWS' PENSIONS {: #subdebate-3-0-s0 .speaker-JWU} ##### Mr FRASER:
EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I preface a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services by stating that I understand that a widow who receives the highest rate of widow's pension obtains an allowance in respect of a child under the age of sixteen years. If such a widow wished to keep a child at school for higher education, would she continue to receive a widow's pension at the highest rate, including an allowance for the child, even though the child were past the age of sixteen years? If the answer is " Yes ", is the mother's pension affected by any earnings that the child may gain by casual employment, for instance by taking odd jobs which bring in a few shillings a week? {: #subdebate-3-0-s1 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
ALP -- The answer to the first portion of the question is " Yes ", and to the second portion " No ". Under the Social Services Consolidation Act there is authority for the DirectorGeneral of Social Services to continue to pay a full rate of pension to a widow who desires to keep her child at school, full time, after the child has reached sixteen years of age. In such instances the mother may draw the full pension, including the allowance for the child, until the child has reached the age of eighteen years, provided the child is kept at a full-time study course. If the child earns a few shillings a week from odd jobs, such as selling newspapers, the income so earned would not be calculated in assessing the widow's pension, provided that the activities by which the child earned that money did not interfere with the full-time studies. The payment is really a subsidyby the Commonwealth for the encouragement of higher education. {: .page-start } page 1550 {:#debate-4} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-4-0} #### COMMONWEALTH DISPOSALS COMMISSION Reported Sale of Rifles {: #subdebate-4-0-s0 .speaker-KQK} ##### Mr McDONALD:
CORANGAMITE, VICTORIA -- Can the Minister for Defence say whether the Government, th rough the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, has offered to an American arms firm a large quantity of rifles in serviceable condition? If so, has any restriction been placed on the resale of the rifles in Australia? {: #subdebate-4-0-s1 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN:
ALP -- I am not aware that the Government, through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, or in any other way, has disposed of a large quantity of rifles or ammunition. However, I shall have inquiries made, and shall furnish the honorable member with any information on the subject that I can get. {: .page-start } page 1550 {:#debate-5} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-5-0} #### POPULATION {: #subdebate-5-0-s0 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL:
WIMMERA, VICTORIA -- In a recent issue of the *Sunraysia Daily,* there is an article headed " Talks likely over Empire Population ". Apropos of that article, has the Prime Minister any comment to make on the recently published report of the royal commission on population in the United Kingdom? Is it true, as reported, that there is likely to be a special imperial conference to discuss the problem of European migration to British Commonwealth countries and to the colonies? If so, will Australia be represented at it? {: #subdebate-5-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I have not seen the article in the *Sunraysia Daily,* but I have read a condensed version of an article on population in the United Kingdom, in Europe and in eastern countries. I have heard nothing about the holding of an imperial conference to discuss population, although there have been informal discussions about transferring more people from the United Kingdom to the Dominions, including Australia. There have also been discussions with representatives of the Italian Government about migration, and with a representative of the Netherlands Government with a view to bringing to Australia, where they might be profitably employed, some of the people of Holland, the population of which is dense. I do not think it is likely that a special imperial conference will be held in the near future to discuss population problems. {: .page-start } page 1550 {:#debate-6} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-6-0} #### CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE {: #subdebate-6-0-s0 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT: -- Can the Prime Minister say whether it is a fact, as has been widely reported, that a conference of Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth is being summoned in London to discuss currency and exchange problems? Has he received an invitation to attend such a. conference? Will Australia be 'represented by him or some other Minister? Have there been any developments not previously disclosed which lend special significance to the downward movement in the value of British Government stock? {: #subdebate-6-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I have not heard that a conference of Prime Ministers is likely to be held in the near future, although consideration is being given to arranging for a discussion of economic matters, which would affect me, as Treasurer. Such discussions would also involve other countries. I am not in a position to say any mere on the subject. I have already made it clear to honorable members that there is difficulty in bridging the dollar gap, and in balancing trade commitments with hard currency countries in general. The position, as I have said on other occasions, is not so bright now as it was six months ago. I do not want to be an alarmist or to engage in pessimistic forebodings about the future. From time to time I have tried to stress the point that a number of the questions asked in this House seem to indicate a complete lack of responsibility on the part of some honorable members in relation to empire difficulties that have been caused by the shortage of dollars. The position that has arisen as the result of the scarcity of dollars will be difficult to rectify. I can say no more than that at the present moment. Discussions will continue to take place on certain levels. I want to make it clear, however, that there has not been any suggestion at any conference or economic discussion that our currency should be devalued. {: #subdebate-6-0-s2 .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT: -- I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question about the dollar difficulties of the British Empire, a subject upon which the right honorable gentleman frequently harps in this House. Has the Prime Minister studied the work of the American economist Hazlitt. entitled *Can Dollars Save the World?* In that publication Hazlitt states that, in his opinion, one of the prime essentials to the improvement of tie monetary conditions of the world, and particularly of sterling in relation to the dollar, is to remove the pegs from the exchanges, and allow the exchanges to operate freely. {: #subdebate-6-0-s3 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! Will the honorable member frame his question ? {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT: -- Does the right honorable gentleman recollect that he and I, as members of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking 'Systems, signed a section of the report in which we stated that, in our opinion, the major contribution to recovery in Australia was the devaluation of the £1. Will the right honorable gentleman have the proposal examined by economic experts? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- The royal commission of which the honorable member and I were members inquired into a set of circumstances different from those ruling to-day, because the trend then was deflationary, whereas to-day it is inflationary. I have read many opinions on whether the pound sterling should be depreciated or appreciated. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer, **Sir Stafford** Cripps, has expressed himself in very strong terms on the devaluation of the pound sterling. Opinions about European currencies vary. I have indicated that while the pound sterling bears its present relationship to the dollar we shall maintain the present relationship between the Australian pound and the pound sterling. I am not going to suggest to the United Kingdom that it should vary the relationship between the pound sterling and the' United States dollar ; that is a matter for its own decision. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT: -- I ask the Prime Minister whether with respect to an answer that he gave me regarding the valuation of sterling- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman knows that heis not entitled to ask a question based on' the answer to another question. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT: -- I do not intend to ask. such a question. I ask the Prime Minister whether the Australian Government has any interest in the rate of exchange between the dollar and the pound sterling? If not, why are the Australian peopleprevented from importing petrol and other commodities that they require, on the ground that such prevention is necessary to protect the dollar-sterling rate of exchange? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- I think that the honorable member has two matters mixed up. First of all, the dollars that we spend on petrol have no relation to the question of exchange rate and the valuation of the pound sterling. They are totally different subjects. Whether the Australian pound was devaluated or not, or whether the pound sterling was devaluated or not, a certain amount of dollars would still have to be found to pay for petrol. I must confess that I cannot see any connexion between the first portion of the honorable member's question and the second portion of it, and I shall say only that the Government is inters ted in the question of the value of the pound sterling. For that matter, Ave are also interested in the currency values of the French franc, the Italian lira, the Swiss gold franc, and the kronen. But, although we are interested in the value of those currencies, we certainly do not make suggestions to the different countries concerned on what they should do regarding the valuation of their currency. {: .page-start } page 1552 {:#debate-7} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-7-0} #### ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT {: #subdebate-7-0-s0 .speaker-C7E} ##### Sir EARLE PAGE:
COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs. In view of the great shortage of electrical equipment, and the desperate need for those living in rural areas to secure electrical connexions at reasonable cost will the Government consider waiving the customs duties on insulators and pins, which local authorities have been advised by their State governments to import from overseas, and on which the existing rate of duty is per cent.? {: #subdebate-7-0-s1 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr POLLARD:
Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · ALP -- I shall be glad to convey the right honorable member's question to the Minister for Trade and Customs and ask that an answer be furnished to him. {: .page-start } page 1552 {:#debate-8} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-8-0} #### PETROL {: #subdebate-8-0-s0 .speaker-KFQ} ##### Mr GULLETT:
HENTY, VICTORIA -- I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel after having made considerable inquiries among retailers, wholesalers, and consumers of petrol. Is it not a fact that, since the lifting of petrol rationing, sales of petrol have shown a slight but marked decrease? Is the Minister aware that yesterday the Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcast from a Sydney station a statement warning people about the possibility of the re-introduction of petrol rationing, and that, as a direct result of that broadcast, there was a rush on petrol and the supplies of some pumps were exhausted? Is there any truth in the suggestion that the broadcast announcement was made with the direct object of causing a shortage, and that the Government makes no secret of its desire to re-introduce petrol rationing? Is it not a fact that the reduced consumption of petrol is due to a cessation of the colossal leakage under the rationing system, and to the discontinuance of misappropriations of petrol tickets and of faulty allotment of allowances? Is there any intention on the part of the Government to re-impose petrol rationing ? If so, will the Minister inquire carefully into the allowances of taxi-service proprietors, truck drivers and others who used their licences *to* exploit legitimate consumers? {: #subdebate-8-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I do not know who made the broadcast to which the honorable gentleman has referred. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: -- It was made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission yesterday afternoon. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- I say at once that it was not made on behalf of the Australian Government. Following the decision of the High Court that the Commonwealth had no power to ration petrol in Ausralia. I called the Premiers together. I have given the House a *resume* of the information that was given to them and of what transpired' at the conference. It was pointed out that the importation of petrol into this country involves substantial dollar expenditure. The figure was given to the Premiers. It was further pointed out' that the supply of petrol to the sterling area and to other areas in respect of which the United Kingdom has to find dollars for petrol is costing 400,000,000 dollars a year. I stated' to the Premiers that it may not always be possible even to maintain the presentrate of imports of petrol into Australia because in six or twelve months' time supplies may not be available in the quantities in which they are at present *Petrol.* [28 June, 1949.] *Broadcasting.* 1553 available. I put it to the Premiers that the Commonwealth would be prepared to bear the cost of petrol rationing in Australia, to be entirely responsible for it and to accept any criticism of its administration if the State governments would pass the necessary legislation. They, of course, are the only authorities which can legislate on the subject. The Premiers informed me at. the con- clusion of the conference that they would place the Commonwealth's proposals before their Cabinets, but I have not yet received communications from them informing me of the decisions that have been arrived at. Yesterday I despatched telegrams asking the Premiers to inform me of the views of their governments on the matter. Petrol rationing cannot be re-introduced unless the State parliaments pass legislation to enable it to be done. The Commonwealth has a duty, from the defence point of view, to maintain in Australia a reserve of petrol for aviation and' road transport purposes. In due course the Government will give an indication of the policy that it proposes to adopt in order to ensure that that reserve is maintained. It is essential that it should be maintained. Other action by the Commonwealth depends entirely upon the powers that the States are prepared to confer upon it. {: .page-start } page 1553 {:#debate-9} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-9-0} #### BROADCASTING " The Boy from the Never-Never " - Parliamentary Proceedings. {: #subdebate-9-0-s0 .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr BERNARD CORSER:
WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND -- Has the attention of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General been directed to the broadcasting by the Australian Broadcasting Commission of a play entitled *The Boy from the Never-Never,* by Darcy Niland? It deals with soil erosion and concerns the experiences of an aboriginal boy called Jimmy Perry who, according to the broadcast, claimed to have seen Christ in the desert. Does the PostmasterGeneral approve of the action of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in permitting to be broadcast a play in which the utterances of a man portraying Christ are interspersed with bar-room conversation and cheap gibes? In view of the fact that the broadcast was highly blasphemous and that one speaker suggested that it was government propa ganda, will the Minister ascertain who was responsible for initiating it? Will the Postmaster-General communicate with the chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in order to ensure that there shall be no repetition of this highly offensive type of broadcast? {: #subdebate-9-0-s1 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
ALP -- This is the first time that I have heard' of any such broadcast. If the honorable gentleman had confined his remarks to the objections to the alleged blasphemous nature of the broadcast, he would have been on firmer ground. He has tried to exploit what may be a very unhappy situation by asking whether it was government propaganda or something of that kind. {: .speaker-K6Q} ##### Mr Bernard Corser: -- I have not said that it is government propaganda. One speaker has said that it is. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- I should have liked the honorable gentleman to tellme the name of the speaker and where the words were spoken. They might have been spoken at a meeting of the Australian Country party. However, I promise the honorable gentleman that I shall refer the matter to the Postmaster-General and obtain a reply for him as soon as possible. {: #subdebate-9-0-s2 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I ask you, **Mr. Deputy Speaker,** as chairman of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee, a question about the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings. When an allegation is made against an honorable member in the course of a question during the first 35 minutes in which questions are asked, that allegation is re-broadcast in the evening to an Australiawide audience, whereas, although the honorable member against whom the allegation was made may have disproved it in the course of a personal explanation, that personal explanation is not rebroadcast under the rules! which have been adopted, for they specify that only questions, and no other matter, not even personal explanations, shall be re-broadcast. I ask you, **Mr. Deputy Speaker,** whether you will take up with the committee the question of allowing justice to be done to members who have had allegations made against them by permitting their personal explanations to be re-broadcast. Alternatively, will you ask the committee to rule 1554 *Broadcasting.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] **Dr.** *H. V. Evatt, M.P.* that questions containing allegations that have been disproved in personal explanations shall be eliminated from the re-broadcast ? {: #subdebate-9-0-s3 .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Clark:
DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES -- The rules adopted by the Parliament are that the first 35 minutes of questions and answers shall be rebroadcast in the evenings. All other matters, including personal explanations which arise within that first 35 minutes of the proceedings are eliminated from the re-broadcast. I shall be pleased to submit to the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee the matter raised by the honorable member, to what it has to say about it. {: .page-start } page 1554 {:#debate-10} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-10-0} #### DR. H. V. EVATT, M.P {: #subdebate-10-0-s0 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
Postmaster-General · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP -- Recently, the President of the Republic ofFrance conferred upon the Minister for External Affairs the Legion of Honour, and I desire to address a question to that right honorable gentleman about his acceptance of that honour. Does the Minister realize that that high honour was instituted by the first and greatest of the French emperors? Did the right honorable gentleman obtain the consent of His Majesty the King before he accepted the honour? Does his acceptance of the honour constitute a violation of the policy of the Australian Labour party, as agreed to last September, that its members should not accept imperial honours or awards? How does the right honorable gentleman reconcile his acceptance of an imperial honour from the president of an imperial republic with the fact that he would not be allowed to receive an honour from the King of this democratic Commonwealth? {: #subdebate-10-0-s1 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
ALP -- I shall answer the question. I shall not attempt to refute the matters of historical interest that the honorable gentleman has mentioned about the origin of the Legion of Honour. However, I am able to inform him that the Minister for External Affairs had the consent of His Majesty the King in respect of his acceptance of the honour. Furthermore, the honour was conferred upon him as the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- But the Minister is still an Australian citizen. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- I am endeavouring to give the honorable member some information, but apparently he knows more about the subject than I do. I repeat that the Minister had the consent of His Majesty relative to his acceptance of the honour which was conferred upon him by virtue of his being the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. In those circumstances, it was not a violation of the policy of the Australian Labour party. The honour has been conferred' upon him not because of his membership of the Australian Government, but because of the great international position that he occupied. {: .page-start } page 1554 {:#debate-11} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-11-0} #### WAR SERVICE HOMES {: #subdebate-11-0-s0 .speaker-KEP} ##### Mr FALKINDER: -- I ask the Minister for Works and Housing whether there is any intention of reducing the interest rate on war service homes advances from 3¾ per cent? {: #subdebate-11-0-s1 .speaker-L0X} ##### Mr LEMMON:
Minister for Works and Housing · FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP -- That matter was debated at length recently in the House. The interest rate on war service homes advances is constantly under review, but there is no intention of reducing it at the present time. {: .page-start } page 1554 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### COMMONWEALTH CONTRACTS High Court Action Against Mr. R. E. Fitzpatrick {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA -- I desire to ask the Attorney-General a question about the case of **Mr. Fitzpatrick** which involves the Bankstown Aerodrome scandal. This matter has been raised several times. The right honorable gentleman promised to take action. I ask him now whether during his brief visit to Australia he intends to take action against Fitzpatrick before the statute of limitations puts him out of court? {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr EVATT:
Attorney-General · BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- Action against Fitzpatrick has already been initiated and the case is pending before the court. Certain preliminary decisions have been given by the court. Therefore the statute of limitations does not apply. The honorable member was supplied with full information months ago. I shall get him the latest details. *Election Campaign Funds.* [28 J une, 1949.] *Election Campaign Funds.* 1655 {: .page-start } page 1555 {:#debate-13} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-13-0} #### FEDERATED UNION OF LOCOMOTIVE ENGINEMEN {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-KHY} ##### Mr HOWSE: -- Is the Minister for Transport able to give me any information about a nation-wide train stoppage that is planned to take place from the 24th July, next, because of a decision to strike by the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen? Is it a fact that the union has threatened to call its members out on strike if its claim for a 25 per cent. increase of wages and salaries for night work is not granted by the 24th July? If the claim were granted, what would be its effect on industry? Would rail fares and freight rates have to be increased in all States? If so, to what extent? {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
Minister for External Territories · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP -- I understand that the matter that has been raised by the honorable gentleman is at present the subject of investigation. The effect of such a stoppage on transport services generally throughout the Commonwealth would be a matter for later examination, after the claim had been determined. I consider that the stage has not been reached when the question should be either examined or answered. {: .page-start } page 1555 {:#debate-14} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-14-0} #### ELECTION CAMPAIGN FUNDS {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-L1A} ##### Mr WILLIAMS:
ROBERTSON, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I desire to make a short personal explanation. I claim that I have been misrepresented. Last Friday the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Lang)** asked the Prime Minister a question in which he sought information on whether the Minister for Information **(Mr. Calwell)** had received moneys at the time of the 1946 general election from a broadcasting company, and whether the Minister had distributed the moneys so received to me and to other honorable members as part of our electioneering expenses. My first impulse was to ignore the matter altogether, because the Prime Minister answered the question fully and I take the view that honorable members should not have to explain personally every little bit of tittle tattle that is aired in this House. However, knowing the technique of the honorable member for Reid I believe that it is as well that his allegation should be corrected and the correction put on the records of this House. I have never received a brass farthing from the Minister for Information or from any one else on his behalf or with his authority. I have never discussed the matter of election expenses with him or with any other Minister. The suggestion of the honorable member for Reid did not contain one scintilla of truth from beginning to end. {: .page-start } page 1555 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### CIVIL AVIATION Air Crash at Lae. {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-KEP} ##### Mr FALKINDER: -- Will the Minister for Civil Aviation make available to the House the full text of the report prepared for the Department of Civil Aviation on the crash of an aircraft at Lae in New Guinea, in view of the fact that a debate will possibly be held on this subject in the near future? {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr DRAKEFORD:
Minister for Air · MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA · ALP -- No. Departmental reports of the kind mentioned by the honorable member are not laid on the table of the House. They are for departmental information only. In giving that answer I am merely following the procedure that has been observed over a long period. {: .page-start } page 1555 {:#debate-16} ### HOUR OF MEETING Motion (by **Mr. Chifley)** agreed to - >That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m. {: .page-start } page 1555 {:#debate-17} ### COAL {:#subdebate-17-0} #### Formal Motion for Adjournment {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Clark: -- I have received from the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely - >The present coal strike; ways and means of maintaining the fullest possible supplies of coal to the public; and the urgent necessity for the taking of adequate measures to defeat the strike. {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
Leader of the Opposition · Kooyong -- I move - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-17-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Is the motion supported? *Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,* {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- The course of moving the adjournment of the House has been taken so that the Parliament may have an opportunity to discuss the most important internal event in Australia at the present time. It is entirely proper that this House should, at the earliest possible moment, put the Government and the people in possession of its views on a matter that is affecting the daily lives of hundreds of thousands, and, indeed, of millions of people in Australia. There is, of course, a strict limit of time to formal debate on a motion for the adjournment of the House. I shall be permitted to speak for twenty minutes and subsequent speakers on this side of the House, as well as private members on the Government side, will be limited to ten minutes. I propose, therefore, to be as brief as possible. It would be possible in a discussion about the coal strike to make a considerable speech on what has happened or has not happened in the past, because the plain truth, as most Australians are realizing is, that this is a Communist strike and not something that has come " out of the blue ". It is the culminating point of a long series of events in which the Communists have seen their opponents retreating instead of attacking. Indeed, it is open to belief that the strike now in existence might never have occurred if there had been ways and means to obtain the views of every member of the striking unions, by means of a secret ballot. On that aspect of the matter I content myself with reminding the House that a considerable time has elapsed' since I gave notice of motion that I would introduce a private member's bill designed to establish a procedure for the holding of secret ballots in relation to proposed stoppages of work and not merely in regard to elections of office-bearers or of irregularities, like the hill that the Government has foreshadowed'. I gave that notice of motion on the 18th May, a clear month before the holding of the stop-work meetings that finally made recommendations in favour of the strike that started yesterday. But I shall not dwell on that, because the people of Australia, while they will have their opinion about it, are at the moment desperately concerned to know how we propose to get coal? The lack of coal has caused the unemployment of hundreds of thousands of persons, and imposed hardship on every one, particularly women and children, all over Australia. It is ironical to remember that there is at grass or in ships' holds a substantial quantity of coal that is urgently needed. There is coal already at grass in the Maitland field, but its transport has been barred by the miners' federation. However, it is there, and the people will want to know why, at a time like this, some thousands of tons of coal, available for immediate transport to industries that are of vital importance to Australia, are allowed to remain unused simply because a Communistcontrolled union has said that it is not to be moved. In other words they will want to know who is in charge of the country - the Communists, or the lawfully elected representatives of the people? In Melbourne, for months past, there has been tied up a ship rejoicing in the name of *Haligonian Duke,* loaded with thousands of tons of coal on which the grass is growing. An argument is going on between two governments on whose responsibility it is, but the people are not concerned with that. They want the coal to be unloaded and used. That is the one thing that counts. There is still another point to be considered. It is now a long time since the Joint Coal Board pointed out plainly to the Government that the production of coal in Australia was 1,500,000 tons per annum under requirements. The Government of Victoria, confronted with its own difficulties arising from the scarcity of coal, has for some time been importing coal from overseas. More recently, South Australia has been doing the same thing. In the case of Victoria, many thousands of tons have been imported, at high prices no doubt, but if that coal had not been imported the industrial position would have even been more deplorable than it is now. Why has not the Australian Government attacked the problem in that way? Why should we not import coal, and subsidize its import if necessary, when it is admitted that, for a variety of reasons which the Government is presumably not able to control, our own production of coal is less than our urgent requirements ? There is a perfectly clear case for the importation, of coal. I now put forward a further suggestion which, if taken up by the Government, could make a very great and rapid difference to the position. We have in Australia a number of open cut coalmines. Probably, the one with the greatest output is the one at Muswellbrook. Open-cut mining has been developed in Australia to a considerable extent in the last few years, and it is often overlooked that, but for the development of this new form of mining - because it is new in Australia - our coal supplies would have been even more dreadfully inadequate than has been the case. Coal produced by deep mining has not been nearly enough to meet requirements. The open-cut mines at present in operation in New South Wales have a capacity to produce approximately 8,000 tons of coal a day. Their actual production during the five months up to the 30th May last has been just about 6,000 tons a day, and they are working only one shift. Of open-«ut coal-mining, it cannot be argued that the experienced coalman er is the only man who can get coal. lt is true that in New South Wales open-cut mining has attracted the attention of the miners' federation; hut the open-cut mines in South Australia and Victoria are worked by members of the Australian Workers Union. I think that that is true also of Queensland, although I am open to correction. {: .speaker-K0K} ##### Mr Conelan: -- The right honorable gentleman is wrong about Queensland. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES: -- Well, it is certainly true that in Victoria and South Australia the open-out mines are not worked by members of the miners' federation. lt is well known that the Australian Workers Union stands for constitutional action. Years ago, it tossed the Communists out, and would have nothing to do with them, but the miners' federation has been hag-ridden toy the Communists for years and years. That fact was responsible for the decision of the Chief fudge of the Arbitration Court in the Kemira dispute. It was only necessary for him to look at the 'records of the miners' federation and of the Australian Workers Union to decide that the work of driving the Kemira tunnel should, he entrusted to mem,bers of the Australian Workers Union. I hope that we shall not be told by anybody that we cannot increase production from open-out mines because the miners' federation will not allow it. In order to increase production it is necessary only to assemble machinery and gather men - not miners, hut men experienced in the use of earth-moving machinery. We must organize a labour force, but not necessarily a very great force. We have also to arrange for transport to carry the coal after it is won. The Government has far more information at its disposal than I have, and perhaps it can throw some light on this matter. However, on the 'basis of the figures I have cited, if open-cut mines are worked three shifts a day, seven days a week, it should be possible to produce upwards of 120,000 tons of coal a week. That is a lot of coal, and it would make an enormous difference to industry in Australia. Production at that irate, if maintained, would yield between 5,000,000 and 6,000,000 tons a year. However, I do not wish to be misunderstood. I do not say that it would be possible to continue to operate the opencut mines at that rate, because they have limited resources, hut for a period of weeks, in order to cope with this emergency, we could and should, and, I believe, must, attack the problem of getting the coal where it is available, and where it oan .be obtained without interference from the miners who do not work. If we do that we shall strike a great 'blow against the success of the strike, and make a great contribution towards the carrying on of the vital industries of the country. These are desperate times and we need to take uncommonly strong measures. I therefore put it that the most immediate attention should be directed to the problem of getting coal by open-cut methods. The third matter I refer to is the problem of dealing with the strikers. I think that in one sense of that word we have dealt with the strikers for too long. We have been content to go on dealing with Communist leaders as if they were ordinary, legitimate trade union leaders. It now appears quite forcibly - and the drastic measure which the AttorneyGeneral **(Dr. Evatt)** has fore-shadowed indicates it - that we are dealing with people who have declared war on the 1558 *coal.[REPRESENTATIVES.] Coal.* community. It is of no earthly use to be mealy-mouthed. When people declare war on the community they have to be treated as people should be treated who declare war on the community. These men are wreckers and the people of Australia expect them to be dealt with by every instrument that the law can provide. It is interesting to note that in the measure which the Attorney-General has given notice of his intention to introduce, provision is to be made for freezing the funds of other unions which are, it is thought, liable to become involved in the dispute by way of sympathy strikes or financial support. But the offenders here are members of the miners' federation, and, in particular, their leaders who have led them into this strike. They are the people who have declared war on the community. If they are to be fought, they can be fought by lawful methods. They can be fought by invoking the law of this country. If the law is not strong enough, it should be strengthened. I do not desire to occupy any time at this stage by going into the question of how it should be strengthened for we have made frequent suggestions on that point. I remind the House that there are two pieces of legislation already in existence, the provisions of which could be used to fight these law-breakers. Apparently no recourse has been made to them. In the first place, there is the Crimes Act. Communist propaganda in Australia has unfortunately persuaded a lot of good honest trade unionists that there is something strange about having a Crimes Act and that such an act is repressive. Every civilized country in the world has a Crimes Act. Every State has a Crimes Act. Section 30j of the Crimes Act provides - (1.) If at any time the Governor-General is of opinion that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States . . . There could be no more perfect description of the present disturbance - he may make a Proclamation to that effect, which Proclamation shall be and remain in operation for the purposes of this section until it is revoked. (2.) Any person who, during the operation of such Proclamation, takes part in or continues, or incites to, urges, aids or encourages the taking part in, or continuance of, a lookout or strike - {: type="a" start="a"} 0. in relation to employment in or in connexion with the transport of goods or the conveyance of passengers in trade or commerce with other countries or among the States ; or 1. in relation to employment in, or in connexion with, the provision of any public service by the Commonwealth or by any Department or public authority under the Commonwealth, shall be guilty of an offence. . . . Criminal penalties are provided. Assuming that there is something to argue about in that - and I am familiar with one argument that has been raised but I do agree with it - I remind honorable memmembers only three years ago we passed in this House the Coal Industry Act which established the Coal Industry Tribunal which, in fact, has been the centre of the claims and the negotiations which preceded this strike. That tribunal - again I speak subject to correction - acting within its jurisdiction made an order that there should not be a stopwork meeting. Section 54 of the Coal Industry Act provides - >Any person who refuses or fails to comply with any order, direction or requirement made or given by any authority in exercise of any power or function vested in it by this Act shall be guilty of an offence against this Act. The penalty in the case of a company is £1,000 and, in addition, £100 for each day during which the offence continues, and, in the case of an individual, £100 or imprisonment for six months, or both. Why was such a provision inserted in the act if it was not intended to use it? What comfort is it to the ordinary citizen to open his newspaper and see that some one is wondering why the employers do not prosecute the miners under this provision? I see nothing in the provision about the employer prosecuting the miners. Will it be said that the Government cannot prosecute for breaches of its own law which is expressed in terms as broad as those which I have just read? This strike must be smashed, but we shall not smash it unless we are prepared to recognize that the people who organize a strike of this kind are criminals. If, having a suitable criminal code under which they might be attacked, we say " No ; we will not do that ; it might create ill-feeling ", then we are retreating before them. *[Extension of time granted.]* I have practically concluded. On a matter of such moment as this, 1 do not desire to trespass on the time of the House beyond my apprpriate period. I have stated my case, briefly I hope, in three ways. First I have had a brief glance at the past. Indeed, we might fruitfully have a long look at the past, hut I do not take up time to do so now. Secondly, I have asked how we can get coal now, next week and the week after. What is the easiest possible way in which we may organize into the bins at electricity works and other works the coal which this country needs? Finally, how do we deal here and now with the people who have brought this calamity upon us? We must discover a proper sense of proportion. I have always regarded as the most curious of anomalies the fact that some poor wretch who steals £3 or £4 can be sent to gaol for a month, but that the man who steals the means of living of 1,000,000 of his fellow citizens can defy the law. Even when the striker has broken the law as it stands and defies it, thus maintaining his offence, the Government does not say, " We, the Government, will deal with him " ; on the contrary it asks, "Why does not somebody else deal with him?". This is not a dispute between employers and employees in the usual sense. It is true that it takes that form.. It is true that it is an industrial matter. But the issue to-day is the maintenance of the rights of the people of Australia, and on that issue the people of Australia must have one champion, the Government which they have put into office. {: #subdebate-17-0-s3 .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY:
Prime Minister and Treasurer · Macquarie · ALP -- The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** has referred to the past. I am sure that in regard to coal disputes the right honorable gentleman has some very unpleasant memories of the past. The kind of thing that is occurring now occurred when he was Prime Minister, although perhaps to a lesser degree. I do not want to go into that matter, but it is well known that during the coal strike of 1940 the right honorable gentleman found that his efforts to obtain coal and to get the miners to resume work were just as ineffectual as those of anybody else. The fact of the matter is that the only persons who can mine coal are the coal-miners. At various times governments have tried to find a method of winning coal from underground by using the services of persons other than recognized miners, but they have all failed to do so. That is true, not only of Australia, but also of other countries. That is why the coal-miner has a responsibility to the community. I am sorry to say that in this instance he has entirely disregarded it. There is absolutely no justification for the present stoppage of coal production in Australia. I have already emphasized in statements that I have made to this House and to the press that the Coal Industry Tribunal was established specially to deal with the industrial troubles of the miners. Certain claims were made to that tribunal. I do not want to take up the time of the House by recounting them in detail ; but one of them was withdrawn altogether, and another, which, related to long service leave, was considered by the tribunal, which announced that it was prepared to give judgment upon it. It is not only the miners' federation that is involved in this dispute. There are four or five other mining unions concerned in it as well. From whatever point of view the matter is looked at, there can be absolutely no justification for those unions not awaiting the judgment of the Coal Industry Tribunal upon the claim in relation to long service leave. That view is shared by the New South Wales Government, which, together with the Australian Government, was responsible for the legislation that established the Coal Industry Tribunal and the Joint Coal Board. Those two bodies must be regarded separately, because they have entirely different functions. The Joint Coal Board deals with the production and distribution of coal. The Coal Industry Tribunal is concerned entirely with industrial matters, which it has always been prepared to deal with expeditiously. In this instance, the miners' federation and the other unions comprising what is known as the Combined Mining Unions Council have decided to ignore the Coal Industry Tribunal and to endeavour to enforce the granting of their claims by a brutal attack upon the necessaries of life of the community and upon the arbitration system. The Australian Government has said precisely what was said by the Leader of the Opposition when he was Prime Minister in 1940. It has said that there is an arbitration authority that is vested with complete power to deal with miners' grievances and to decide whether or not there is merit in them. Both this Government and the Government of New South Wales, which were responsible for the legislation under which the Coal Industry Tribunal was established, have made it clear that that tribunal is the only body that is going to deal with the miners' claims, no matter what the miners may do or what threats against the community they may make. That is where the matter has got to be settled. That is the policy of the country and of this Parliament. It is certainly the policy of the Labour party that conciliation and arbitration must be the method by which industrial disputes shall be settled. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of open-cut operations. The Joint Coal Board has been responsible for developing open-cut mining in New South Wales. Open-cut production was taking place only on a small scale in New South Wales prior to the establishment of the board. The objective is to push on with that form of production in order to increase coal supplies. The right honorable gentleman has referred to something that has happened in the northern coalfields regarding the transport of coal that is already at grass. I have not been informed of the full details of the incident, but I understand that conflicting statements have been made about it. I want to make it clear that the men employed in open-cut coal production in New South Wales are members of a number of unions. Some of those unions, such as the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen's Association, are involved in the strike. As a result, the pattern is very complicated. Some members of the unions that are involved in the strike occupy key positions in open-cut projects. The right honorable gentleman referred to the importation of coal. The ship *Haligonian Duke* was brought to this country from, I think, Bombay, with a cargo of coal for the Victorian Government. That Government is a conservative government, of the same political colour as the party to which the right honorable gentleman belongs. The ship was under charter to bring coal to Victoria from India. It is in port in Victoria, and there is a Liberal government in that State. If it is possible for governments to do all that the right honorable gentleman has suggested that they can do, it is strange that the Victorian Government has not been able to arrange for the unloading of the cargo of the *Haligonian Duke.* The failure to unload the cargo is not due to any action of the Australian Government. I appreciate the position of the Premier of Victoria in regard to this matter. I realize that he is faced with insuperable difficulties in securing the unloading of coal from the *Haligonian Duke.* {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- The difficulties would not be insuperable if the Australian Government would co-operate with the Victorian Government. That is what the Premier of Victoria has asked for. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- The vessel is under charter to bring coal to Victoria for the Victorian Government. There is no co-operation that we can give in regard to the matter. I do not wish honorable members to think that I am condemning **Mr. Hollway.** I realize that he is faced with insuperable difficulties in attempting to get the coal off the ship. I have only referred to the matter to show that a government which has the same political views as the Leader of the Opposition has been unable to secure the unloading of coal from a ship in Melbourne. Other ships have come to Australia with coal from overseas. The Australian Government has freely sponsored the importation of coal. It has sponsored the importation of coal into South Australia from the United Kingdom, and into Victoria from India and South Africa, although I understand that the Victorian Government was not successful in its efforts to obtain coal from the latter country. The Attorney-General **(Dr. Evatt)** has given notice of his intention to ask for the leave of the House to introduce a bill to-morrow. I hope that the House Will expedite the passage of the bill, and we may ask for that to be done. The measure will afford an opportunity for honorable members to deal with this matter from various aspects. I want to make it clear that the problem of obtaining coal when the coalminers will not work is one that has not been solved by the government of any country in the world. It has not been solved in the United States of America. I am not saying that it has not been possible to produce some coal in America from open-cuts. Recently, when John Lewis ordered the soft-coal miners of the United States to cease work, he was not prosecuted. He is still at liberty, and he will order another close down next week or next month if he desires to do so. Nobody accuses John Lewis of being a Communist. He is, in reality, a capitalist. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- The American coalminers produced 800,000,000 tons of coal last year. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- That does not matter to us. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- Is that the attitude that the Prime Minister takes 1 No wonder the miners will not produce coal. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member for New England **(Mr. Abbott)** is producing a lot of noise. He must remain silent. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- A couple of weeks ugo, John Lewis ordered the soft-coal miners to knock off work, and all of them obeyed. But nobody has said that Lewis is a Communist. However, I am not engaging in. an 'argument 'about that aspect. All I am trying to do is to show that no country is able to produce underground coal unless the men who are trained for that work are prepared to do it. In making that statement, I do not refer to coal obtained from an open.cut mine. The Leader of the Opposition has mentioned the possibility of prosecuting the leaders of the miners' federation. I have had some experience of the industrial world, and I know that prosecutions have never solved industrial difficulties. In New South Wales many years ago, the Wade Government put Peter Bowling in leg-irons during an industrial disturbance. Officials of the miners' federation have been gaoled in the town in which I live. The Bavin Government introduced free labour at Rothbury during an industrial disturbance, and prosecuted the miners' leaders. But almost invariably, a government that has prosecuted industrial leaders during a period of industrial disturbance has been rejected by the public within a few months. At the moment, I am not speaks ing against the suggestion that theleaders of unions who engage in industrial disturbances should be prosecuted.. I am merely commenting on the strangefact that, despite what the Leader of the Opposition has said, the general public does not regard men whohave been engaged in industrial troubles as criminals. I realize that at present,, people are being deprived of the necessaries of life and that the whole economiclife of the country has been slowed almost, to a dead stop. The men who are re* sponsible for this strike may present their grievances, if they are grievances, to the Coal Industry Tribunal, which has been established for the specific purpose of preventing discord in the coalmining industry. In the absence of a better descriptive term, I can only say that those responsible for this strike are showing a completely callous disregard of the interests of their fellow citizens. However, the undeniable fact is that the public does not regard strike leaders as criminals. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- The Prime Minister should hear what the people are saying about the union leaders now. They reckon that their bellies are empty. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- My industrial experience is as great as that of the honorable member for New England **(Mr. Abbott).** I have lived among the coalminers, and I know them. I also have an extensive knowledge of the industrial world. I emphasize that the general public does not regard men who engage in industrial disturbances as criminals. The House will have an opportunity to debate some of these matters later. As I stated last week, I hope that the men who comprise the miners' federation and other mining unions will quickly realize their responsibility to the people of this country, and recognize that their action in calling a strike is a callous disregard of the interests of their follow citizens. The Australian Government and the Government of New South Wales, which have established the Joint Coal Board, are in constant consultation about the position. Of course, the conservative governments in Western Australia and Victoria have full opportunity to apply to strikers within their respective States any punitive measures that they deem necessary. I do not know what those governments propose to do about the matter. So far as I know, the Government of Western Australia has not announced that it proposes to take punitive measures against the Collie miners, and the Government of Victoria has not declared that it has plans for producing coal at Wonthaggi. This trouble will not be cured until the miners themselves realize the consequences of their actions. Of course, there may he some differences of opinion about the methods that should be adopted to bring them to the realization that they have a duty to the public. The Coal Industry Tribunal is the special authority that has been appointed to assist them. The history of the coal-mining industry reveals a wanton disregard by most owners - not all owners - of the interests of the miners themselves for hundreds of years, and the object of the Australian Government and the Government of New South Wales has been to improve the conditions of those workers. But the workers themselves have a part to play. Unless they are prepared to play that part- {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- Will not the Prime Minister prompt them? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- Unless they are prepared to play that part, they cannot expect to be provided with the machinery that has enabled them to vastly improve their conditions in the last few years. The most important factor in settling the present dispute may be the views of other unionists about this strike, and not all the blethering of the press or of other sections against the miners. The press has always been against the miners, whether they were right or wrong. The conservatives and mine-owners in the community took the view that the miners were always wrong. In this case, I think that they are completely wrong. I do not want to discuss the merits or demerits of whether the miner should have a 35-hour working week, long service leave and other things they have claimed. It is not for the Government or me to make a judgment on those matters. The Australian Government and the Government of New South Wales take the attitude that the Coal Industry Tribunal has been appointed to deal with such claims, and that the miners are entirely wrong in acting as they are doing and are showing a callous disregard for their fellow citizens' rights when they do not approach the proper tribunal to have those wrongs, if they are wrongs, rectified. {: .speaker-DQC} ##### Mr Hughes: -- What about the coal at gras3 ? {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr CHIFLEY: -- The right honorable member for North Sydney **(Mr. Hughes)** has had a long experience of this particular business of inciting strikes, so he should know something about it. I repeat that the Government takes no sides about whether the claims for long service leave and the 35-hour working week are justified or unjustified. In cooperation with the Government of New South Wales, it has provided a tribunal to determine those claims, and, as far as the Government is concerned, that is the only tribunal which will make any determination on those matters. I hope that the miners will realize that the proper way in which they should seek the redress of their grievances, if they are grievances, is to approach the Coal Industry Tribunal. I believe that, ultimately, common sense and some consideration for the community will cause them to follow that course. {: #subdebate-17-0-s4 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .- The Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** has told the coal-miners that the proper way in which to settle the present industrial dispute is for them to approach the Coal Industry Tribunal. The right honorable gentleman should know that a part of the policy of the Communist executive of the miners' federation is the complete abandonment of arbitration and the substitution of the policy of force in industrial disputes. The speech which the Prime Minister has made this afternoon will be of little comfort to the tens of thousands of citizens who are looking to the Government for a lead in the present crisis. Approximately 250,000 persons are already out of work in New South Wales, and by the end of this week, probably more than 700,000 persons will be faced with unemployment as the result of the coal strike. The Leader of the Opposition has said that the people of Australia can properly look to only one authority to show them the way out and that that authority is the government of the day. The Prime Minister this afternoon traversed the history of the previous coal strikes and dwelt on the ineffectuality of dealing with them by insisting on the observance of law and order. He harked back the old days. Any one who has listened to him, both inside and outside this House, must be filled with a sense of the utmost depression. The only constructive proposal that has been placed before the Parliament is that of the Leader of the Opposition that an act should be passed to compel the taking of secret ballots for the election of trade union officials and on the calling of strikes. I propose to relate the history of this coal strike. The terms of the motion on which the miners' were called upon to vote at mass meetings were such that the most moderate of miners could not have voted other than in favour of it. {: .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies: -- When was that? {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- On the 6th June. The motion read as follows: - >That the coal-owners, having deliberately repudiated their previous acceptance of long service leave; the Joint Coal Board having scrapped its scheme for an even worse one, with a completely unreal approach to the question of continuous working; the chairman of the Coal Industry Tribunal having already rejected the principle of leave based on aggregate service; and with no satisfaction in connexion with hours and wages claims: > >We determine that aggregate meetings be held on Thursday, June 16, in all districts to deal with a recommendation for a general stoppage on Monday, June 27, failing satisfaction of bur claims. > >In making this decision we re-affirm the right to hold stop-work meetings whenever deemed necessary by the Central Council, and the right to take industrial action to enforce just demands and warn that an attempt to take away these rights will be resisted to the absolute limit by this federation, and any upheaval resulting from an attempt to do so will rest upon the shoulders of those responsible for such attempt. That proposition was accepted almost unanimously. Who amongst the miners could have voted other than for the motion? They were asked to say whether they were for or against declaring that they were not going to be trampled upon or to have their rights taken from them. Naturally they voted in support of the motion. But what did the resolution do? It conferred on the executive of the union power to call the strike that began on Monday. In order to show the efficacy of the secret ballot in industrial matters as proposed by the Leader of the Opposition, I cite the history of a fairly recent industrial dispute in Sydney. There wa3 a week-end tramway strike and several mass meetings were held. On the 24th September, 1948, a mass meeting of tramway men decided by 129 votes to 309 to reject the advice of their executive and to strike. The Communist element was to the forefront. Four days later, the Conciliation Commissioner, **Mr. Blackburn,** ordered the men to return to work. At a mass meeting at the Leichhardt stadium, the tramway men decided by 224 votes to 169, again against the advice of their executive, to maintain their attitude. A secret ballot was taken on the 8th October and, by 2,078 votes to 1,299, a majority of 779, the men decided to man Sunday trams. That is one of the most recent examples of how men vote at mass meetings and at secret ballots. In considering strikes, one must understand the justice of the claims of the strikers. The claims of the coal-miners are being considered by the Coal Industry Tribunal. The policy of the Chifley Government, in the last two or three years, has been to allow coal stocks to go down. It has tolerated industrial troubles on the coal-fields. The result of its tolerance is that last year 2,000,000 tons of coal that was needed by industry and by householders in Australia remained underground. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel **(Senator Ashley)** visited the coal-fields in April. He said at that time - >I am very dissatisfied with coal production. Last Thursday, of sixteen pits idle, 1564 *Coal.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Coal.* fourteen were not working because of troubles with wheelers and assistants - not disputes with bosses, but disputes and troubles associated with boys in the pits. These things cannot continue. The miners cannot starve the cow and have it at the same time. Most of the disputes in the coal mines in the last few years have not been between employee and employer but have been caused by trifles. The Australian Government has on several occasions brought before this House legislation to "streamline" industrial disputes. The Joint Coal Board is the result of one of its experiments. In its report for 1949, the board stated that the powers conferred upon it are similar to and in some important respects- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member's time has expired. Motion (by **Sir Earle** Page) negatived - >Tnat the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** be granted an extension of {: #subdebate-17-0-s5 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN:
Minister for Defence and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction · Corio · ALP -- The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** has been giving free advice about what ought to b e done in this crisis. We all are concerned about the inconvenience and hardship to which the community is being exposed by the action of the coal-miners, but I recall 1940, when the Leader of the Opposition had to face a crisis in the coal industry. His attitude now and the attitude that he advises the Government to take are entirely different from that which he took then. It is true that the circumstances in 1940 were not exactly parallel with those of to-day. The honorable member for Richmond said that the policy of the Chifley Government had been to allow stocks of coal at grass to fall. In 1940, there were big stocks of coal at grass, but the 1940 strike exhausted them. So it is not because of the policy of the Chifley Government, or of the Curtin Government before it, that stocks of coal have been exhausted. The stocks were exhausted in 1940. The position then was much more critical than it is to-day, because, in 1940, we were at the beginning of a war and Hitler's stormtroopers were over-running Europe. The coal strike of 1940 involved the Australian com munity in hardship, not perhaps so great as the hardship that confronts it to-day, although our lives and liberties were at stake, and the coal strike hindered our war effort. That strike began on the 11th March and finished on the 15th May. It lasted about ten weeks. In the middle of April, 1940, German troops invaded Denmark and Norway and, on the 2nd May, it was announced that the United Kingdom had been forced to withdraw its troops from Norway. Early in May, the Dutch army surrendered to Hitler's stormtroopers. A fortnight later, the British army escaped from Dunkirk. That was when the coal strike occurred. Let us examine the statements and the attitude of the right honorable gentleman then. On the 2nd March, 1940, he said that the Australian Government had no intention of taking further action in the dispute. Six days later, on the 8th March, according to the Sydney *Daily Telegraph,* efforts by the Government of New South Wales to secure federal intervention in the dispute had not succeeded. On the same day, in a last effort to induce the right honorable gentleman to convene a conference, Labour members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales sent him an urgent telegram as follows : - >We the Parliamentary representatives from all the mining districts, appeal to you to convene a conference between the coal proprietors and the unions immediately. Otherwise a general stoppage, involving untold suffering and misery to thousands of innocent people, and industrial stagnation throughout the Commonwealth, appears inevitable. - Knight, Baddeley, Booth, Cameron, Arthur, Davids. Dunn, Davidson, Horsington, Sweeney, Hawkins. On the 12th March, 1940, the right honorable gentleman was reported by the same newspaper as having said that he was most unhappy about the dispute. That is the extent to which the right honorable gentleman appeared to 'be worried at that time. He was "most unhappy about the dispute ". He had already convened a conference of owners and employees, but it had not succeeded. The *Daily Telegraph* report to which I have just referred, continued - > **Mr. Menzies** stated subsequently that ho had not brought the coal strike before to-day's Cabinet. A Cabinet meeting was held on that day and the present Leader of the Opposition indicated that he had not even brought the coal strike to the notice of the Cabinet. On the 21st March, 1940, according to the *Daily Telegraph,* the right honorable gentleman is reported to have said - >The coal strike will not be settled by Commonwealth Government intervention. . . . > >It would be fatal to the whole idea of arbitration and intolerable to the pUblic interest if the doctrine were established that you should get what you can from the Court and strike for the balance. > >The strike is a disastrous error, and I earnestly hope that sober reflection will lead to a return to industrial peace. . . . Commenting on that statement, the then secretary of the Combined Mining Unions said, according to the *Daily Telegraph -* >It is about time that the Prime Minister came to earth and recognized that his abstractions do not answer the issues with which the Commonwealth will be faced if the coal strike is continued and extended. Casually enough the then Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** stated that his answer to the possibility of a general strike could be given in three sentences - First, the Government would not appoint a special tribunal ; secondly, the Government would uphold the authority of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court; and thirdly, if changes were to be made in the award they should be made by the court itself. That was the stand taken by the right honorable Leader when he was Prime Minister and it is exactly- {: .speaker-JYV} ##### Mr Fuller: -- Was not the nation at war at that period? {: .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN: -- The nation was at war. I have told the House about the critical nature of the war at that particular period when the forces of Hitler were over-running Europe and the British expeditionary force was about to be evacuated from Dunkirk. For ten weeks the then Prime Minister allowed a coal strike to continue and kept saying, in effect, ' The Government does not intend to rake any action whatsoever with regard to this dispute ". On the 4th May, 1940, the right honorable gentleman said that the issuing of regulations to re-open the coal mines was a preliminary step. In the tenth week of the strike, when it was evident that the miners were about to go back to work, the Prime Minister actually issued a threat against the coalminers. I shall quote from another report of that period. Speaking at Kurri Kurri the right honorable gentleman said, according to the *Sydney Morning Herald* of the 20th April, 1940- >The whole Cabinet has given this matter most careful consideration. We are anxious to get rid of this dispute so that urgent affairs can proceed. But we have definitely decided that the action that shall be taken in this dispute shall be by the Court and not by the Government. If we do not uphold the Court it means an end of the arbitration system. That is exactly the stand that the present Government is taking. The Government does not propose to intervene in this dispute. The Government says to the miners, "You must go back to the appropriate tribunal that was established to arbitrate and to consider matters in relation to disputes within your industry". This strike has been caused for one reason, and one reason only. The miners' leaders have rejected arbitration and conciliation in putting forward their claims. They have made no attempt to allow the Coal Industry Tribunal, which was established' for this particular purpose, to complete its hearings on their claims. They have not attempted to exhaust the resources of the system of arbitration and conciliation that has been established by the law of the country. But, although the miners' leaders have been very ill advised to take the action that they have taken, I believe that in the last resort wiser counsels will prevail and the miners will return to work. I believe that at this stage, anyway, there- ;s very little for the Commonwealth to do beyond what has been indicated this afternoon by the Attorney-General **(Dr. Evatt).** {: #subdebate-17-0-s6 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr Watkins -- Order! The Minister's time has expired. **Mr. ARCHIE** CAMERON (Barker) T4.50]. - The speech of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction **(Mr. Dedman)** consisted almost entirely of a recital of what the Menzies Government did in 1940. It is rather refreshing to hear honorable gentlemen opposite stating that they are following lavishly in the footsteps of the Menzies Government with respect to events that occurred in 1940, when the present Government was in opposition. I am rather amazed that Government members should adopt such an 1566 *Coal.[REPRESENTATIVES] Coal.* attitude. Incidentally, without going too fully into what happened in 1940, which is now fairly ancient history, I point out to the Minister that at that time we had in Australia very big reserves of coal. There was no hold-up of industry then, as there is to-day. In 1940, people did not have to go without the ordinary decencies of life because a strike had been caused by the miners' leaders, who are the enemies of this community, and who have apparently never heard of Robert Burns's phrase "man's inhumanity to man", to say nothing of inhumanity to women and children. What happened in 1940 has no connexion with what is happening now. We are supposed to have a government that is closely in touch with the trade union movement of Australia. But it is becoming quite clear that honorable members on the Government side are no more able to negotiate with certain trade union leaders than was a government led by the present Leader of the Opposition in 1940. The Government has been able to convince quite a lot of people of the validity of its claim that it is more able than any Liberal-Australian Country party government to deal with matters concerning the trade union movement, but the present situation does not bear out that claim. The present coal strike means that there is a fight on between the Australian Government and the people of Australia, on the one hand, and the Communist-controlled coal-mining unions on the other hand. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** made what, from my point of view, was a most interesting speech. He said, in effect, that if the coal-miners will not work there is no solution to the present problem. I should like to know, in reference to his statement about the Victorian position concerning a shipload of coal that is held up, whether the Seamen's Union of Australia and the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia are not federal organizations. Is not the Australian Government responsible for certain of their activities ? The Prime Minister also stated that prosecutions would solve no difficulties. I n view of that statement I ask him why he included in the Coal Industry Act provisions regarding prosecutions. Why are penalties provided in that Act? Why does it also provide authority to prosecute? Why were these provisions put in the act if the Prime Minister now says that, in effect, it is utterly futile to have them there? The Prime Minister and the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction say that it is the policy of the Government to take no part in industrial disputes. That was not their attitude when they intervened in the hearing of the 40-hour week case and were quite prepared to commit the country to a course of action that it could ill afford. There is one interesting point that I should like to have cleared up and perhaps the next Minister who speaks can clear it up for me. I should like to know whether sustenance will be paid, under the provisions of the Social Services Consolidation Act to people who are out of work through supporting the strike by the coal-miners. Is the law of Australia to-day such that a man may go on strike and then approach the Department of Social Services and ask for a handout ? {: .speaker-KQB} ##### Mr Scully: -- The act is quite definite on that point. Itsays that an individual may not do so. {: #subdebate-17-0-s7 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
ALP -- Many unions are supporting the strike by the coal-miners. The Government intends to take certain action to-morrow to prevent those unions from using their funds in support of the miners. It is no use beating about the bush on this matter. The coal strike is a deliberate and premeditated assault on the standard of living and living conditions of every person in Australia. It is a deliberate attempt to tie up the Australian Government and to hold it up to the ridicule and contempt of the community, and also to destroy the foundations upon which we live and have our being, in the interests of a few men who subscribe to ideas imported from that delectable country Russia. The Government cannot get away from this issue by adopting the attitude taken by the Prime Minister, who seems to be a Pontius Pilate when it comes to such matters, for he simply washes his hands of them. The Prime Minister's attitude is, "Let it come. If I do nothing, no doubt time and tide and circumstances will fix it for me ". The people of Australia want answers to the questions with which they are faced to-day. They want to know whether they have in office a government that will handle the position adequately, or whether they have a government that will be used as a doormat by every group of Communist trade union leaders that likes to wipe dirty boots upon it. No amount of side-stepping, or quotation of newspaper reports about what took place in 1940, will supply those answers. The people want measures and results. The strike leaders could not have chosen a more deadly time of the year in which to stage this strike than the present, when we have the longest nights, the shortest days and the coldest weather of the year. Surely any man who had a spark of humanity in his make-up would take the view that the disastrous floodings that occurred last week in and around the northern coalfields area would justify the calling-off of this strike. It is a political strike in every sense of the word, and not an industrial strike. I do not attempt to pass judgment on the miners' claims for a 35-hour week and long-service leave. I shall only say that my personal opinion is that a lot of people live to a good old age after having worked more than 40 hours a week. Two conditions must be observed in relation to any consideration of a claim for long-service leave such as that put forward by the miners. One is that those who obtain the benefit of long-service leave must work for it and not loaf, either by absenteeism or strikes. The second is that the community will require that it shall have sufficient coal at all times for its purposes, as well as a reserve in hand. A country like Australia should not be put in the position in which the State of South Australia has been put many times, when a coal strike immediately affects production. The people of South Australia on many occasions have had to go without gas and transport and factory production simply because rough weather has held up a collier on its way from New South Wales to that State. We are living in a highly complicated state of civilization and everything depends on our ability to produce power, consistently and in sufficient quantities for the needs of the community. If the members of the miners' federation are no longer interested in mining coal there is nothing in the world to prevent them from saying so. Let them get out of the industry and make way for men who are prepared to work. I have heard in this House for years the story that a man cannot be a coal-miner unless he is a descendant of generations of coal-miners. I do not believe a word of that. During the last war people were taken from all sorts of occupations, and in fact, from no occupations at all, and in a short time were trained to do some of the most highly skilled jobs in the world. {: .speaker-KQK} ##### Mr McDonald: -- And they did them well. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON: -- That is so. {: .speaker-JYV} ##### Mr Fuller: -- Those jobs were not in the coal-mining industry. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON: -- The continuous working of coal mines is a problem that must be faced. The Leader of the Opposition has put a certain course of action forward that the Government could take. But the Government intends rather to take the attitude that might be expressed in the words " We do not propose to do anything at all about this matter: We intend to leave it to Providence and to the coal-miners to find a solution for it". {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s8 .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr CHAMBERS:
Minister for the Army · Adelaide · ALP -- Let me make it clear at the outset that I deprecate the tact that the coal-miners are on strike, but I doubt whether anything that can be said in this House between now and the time they go back to work will do anything to improve the situation. So far, I have not heard from the Opposition side of the House anything which would really help to solve the problem that confronts us. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** offered several suggestions. {: .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr CHAMBERS: -- -Yes, but I do not think they were practical. It has been said that legislation should be passed requiring industrial organizations to hold a secret ballot before calling a strike. Well, suppose that a secret ballot had been held in connexion with this dispute, and the miners had decided to go on strike. Would we then have had to condone the strike because we had insisted on the taking of a secret ballot? Reference has also been made to the action of the miners in aggravating the sufferings of the people affected by the recent floods, but who are the people affected? They are the miners themselves, and their wives and children. It is in keeping with their strange psychology that, in the midst of the difficulties and hardship arising out of the floods in the Maitland district, .they should decide to go on strike. It is estimated that, as a result of the strike, about 800,000 persons will he unemployed throughout Australia. Of that number, at least 500,000 would have the right to dictate to their unions whether they should go on strike or continue to work. Does any one suggest that it would be possible to prosecute 500,000 persons? Supposing the members of the ironworkers' federation, the Seamen's Union, the Waterside Workers Federation and the Clerks Union, went on strike, as well as the members of the miners' federation. Those are among the largest unions in Australia, with a membership of nearly 500,000 persons. Is it suggested that it would he possible to prosecute 500,000 persons and put them in gaol? {: .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: -- The Minister's remarks are childish. {: .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr CHAMBERS: -- I have listened to some childish talk this afternoon, and have heard nothing from the Opposition but some vague talk about secret ballots and the working of brown coal deposits. If we are to-day getting less coal from the brown coal deposits than we should the fault is not that of Labour governments. The mines have been working in Victoria for 30 years, and that State should now be independent of New South Wales. In South Australia, the Leigh Creek mine has been working for some years, hut even to-day there are facilities for using only 5,000 tons of brown coal a week in South Australia. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBride: -- The mine could produce 10,000 tons a week. {: .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr CHAMBERS: -- It is estimated that the mine could produce 22,000 tons a week, but according to a statement made by the Premier of South Australia **(Mr. Playford)** last week, there are facilities for using only 5,000 tons. The locomotives that draw the coal from Leigh Creek to Peterborough have not been adapted to burn brown coal, and they will have to cease running next week because of the lack of black coal. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- Those engines are owned by the Commonwealth. {: .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr CHAMBERS: -- It does not matter who owns them. The fact is that they have not been adapted to burn brown coal. At any rate, State, not Commonwealth locomotives draw the coal from Peterborough to Adelaide. The various State governments must accept some responsibility for the present position. All the talk we shall listen to in this House between now and the time the strike ends will be for political purposes. The Government- {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBride: -- Is on the way out. {: .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr CHAMBERS: -- We heard that in 1943, and again in 1946. This Government has done a great deal for the coalminers, and for the members of other industrial organizations. A strike of coalminers is nothing new. I can understand that members of the Opposition do not like us to compare the present situation with the miners' strike of 1940. The position was the same then as it is now, and the then Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** could do nothing about it. I have already referred to the strange psychology of a coal-miner, and it seems to be the same all over the world. When Britain was being blitzed during the war,, and when the nation was fighting for its life, the coal-miners went on strike. In the United States of America, when the war was at its height, there was a strike of coal-miners. This Government realizes its responsibility to the people, and will do everything that is humanly possible. {: .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr McBride: -- Which means nothing. {: .speaker-JWR} ##### Mr CHAMBERS: -- I should like to know what the contribution of the honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. McBride)** has been to the welfare of Australia. During the years he has been in public life, he has drawn remuneration from every organization he has been associated with, but I do not know of any great contribution he has ever made to the welfare of the country. There are many on this side of the House who have shown in a practical- way on two occasions that they had the interests of the people at heart. Thousands of men, including coal-miners and their sons, played their part in the 1914-18 war, aud also in the 1939-45 war. **Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Watkins).** - Order! The Minister's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s9 .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr HOLT:
Fawkner .- Honorable members should not lose sight of the fact that we are experiencing now the result of a long drawn out conspiracy. The coal strike is not a sudden development; it is a carefully planned attack on the living standards of the community, and an attempt to use force to defy the Government and the law of the land. The strike was planned for the middle of the Australian winter, and when there was no reserve of coal above ground. It was planned so as to cause the greatest inconvenience and the greatest hardship, and with a full knowledge that it was in defiance of the law as declared by a tribunal appointed by the Government itself. All this mealy-mouthed talk about not being able to get any one but coal-miners to go down into the mines, and about the impossibility of prosecuting the miners' leaders, gets us nowhere. Any government that does not face the fact that this strike constitutes a wilful defiance of the law of the land, and an attempt to destroy the living standards of the community, is not entitled to the name of government. We have been told that in 1940 the situation was exactly the same as it is now, and that the present Government is doing what the Menzies Government did at that time. Such a statement is utter nonsense. In point of fact, the situation in 1940 was exactly the reverse of the present situation. In 1940, the effects of the strike were felt not by the community, but by the miners. There was plenty of coal in reserve to keep industry going, to provide fuel and power, and to ensure warmth and comfort for the people. The government of the day saw to it that the welfare of the community was maintained, and it then decided to make a stand of the issue of arbitration, knowing that it was not the community that would suffer directly from the action of the miners, but the miners themselves, and their families. Now, as I have said, the position is reversed. The community needs coal. The miners can always get enough coal for themselves, but the people generally are feeling the hardship. In 1940, the government, as an act of deliberate policy, allowed the miners to remain on strike if they refused to go back to work under the conditions laid down by the Arbitration Court, knowing that stocks of coal were available to see the community through the crisis. The present Government, by its apathy, has allowed the country to drift into a position where there are no coal reserves at all, and it has made no attempt to get coal. It has left the community utterly defenceless in the face of the present threat. And it is not as if coal could not be obtained. It is true that we have not been able to get all we need from our own mines, but there is no scarcity of coal in the world. It is not a difficult commodity to transport from one place to another, and we are not so bankrupt of resources that we cannot buy coal that is freely available from other parts of the world. We on this side of the House have pressed the Government to import coal, not necessarily in order to meet a situation arising out of a strike, but to build up stocks for essential industries. It could obtain coal from South Africa, England, India, and, if necessary, from the United States of America, where there is an abundance of coal. We were told by the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** that when John L. Lewis called the American coal-miners out on strike there was nothing that the United States Government was able to do about the matter. I recall that John L. Lewis was tried for contempt of court and was heavily fined. Apart from disciplinary action of that kind, it must be remembered that in the United States of America there is available at grass a reserve stock of 70,000,000 tons of (30 al. Yet the Prime Minister has said that the United States Government has not been able to deal more effectively with the problem of disputes in the coal industry than has the Australian Government. When, in February, of this year, I asked the right honorable gentleman whether he had explored the possibilities of getting coal from other countries, he replied - >The Australian Government, itself, has not sought to import coal from other countries, but certain State governments have considered the matter. The Liberal Governments of Victoria and South Australia showed sufficient initiative to supplement the coal resources available to them., but not this Government. I then asked the right honorable gentleman - >Has the Joint Coal Board tried to get any coal from abroad T The Joint Coal Board was specially established to increase supplies of coal to the Australian people. As the board had stated in its annual report last year, that local production was 1,500,000 tons below the essential requirements of the Australian people, I asked whether it had done anything to get coal from abroad. The Prime Minister's answer was " No ". This is just another instance of the futility of this Government, which is not only bereft of capacity to increase coal production in this country, but is also not prepared to use the resources of foreign exchange which are available to it to supplement such supplies as are available by obtaining coal from other countries. The Government's attitude on the constructive proposal made by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** for the holding of secret ballots as a means of averting a crisis such as this is also most unsatisfactory. Let us bring in coal from abroad. Let us enact legislation which will give to the rank and file unionist the right to say in a secret ballot whether or. not he wants to disrupt the life of this community. We are well aware that hard working unionists will not prejudice their working future by throwing back in the teeth of some militant leader a motion which he brings before them. For reasons which we oan readily understand the hard working unionist hesitates to record a vote which may adversely affect his future working life. This Government has repeatedly denied to the Leader of the Opposition an opportunity to introduce a measure designed to give to unionists the right of expressing their views in a secret ballot, and it has itself refused to introduce such a measure. Reference has been made to the collier *Haligonian Duke,* now in Melbourne with a cargo of coal from India. The Prime Minister asked why the State Government has not arranged for the unloading of that vessel. I replied that it was because the Australian Government had refused to cooperate with the State on the matter. I shall explain that interjection. The Victorian Government has displayed great courage by introducing and putting through the Parliament the Essential Services Act. That act has kept Victoria free from serious industrial stoppages during the last twelve months. The Victorian Government pointed out to the Prime Minister that if it unloaded the *Haligonian Duke* Victoria might be blockaded, not from within, but from without. For that reason, it sought the co-operation of the Australian Government in this matter. The Victorian Government asked the Australian Government to join with it in meeting any action which might come from outside Victoria as the result of any arrangements made to unload the vessel. The Prime Minister refused' to co-operate and the ship still remains unloaded. **Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lazzarini).** - Order ! The honorable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s10 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
Minister for Information and Minister for Immigration · Melbourne · ALP -- The Prime Minister ?Mr. Chifley) has stated' the position of the Government on this matter. The Government had made a decision, and that decision stands. The miners must either go back to arbitration or else take the responsibility of declaring war on the community. The Government will make no effort to compromise with them. It will do nothing by which the miners may be eased out of the position which they themselves have deliberately chosen. Under the dictatorship of the Communists in their union they have decided to hold this community to ransom at the most difficult period of the year. They have declared war, it is truly said, on the women and children of this country. Acting within its constitutional powers, the Government has 'announced that it proposes to freeze the funds of all unions which are involved in this struggle. The constitutional powers of the Government are very limited. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to say that the Government should do this or that; but whenever the Government has sought to increase the powers of the Parliament for the use of all governments of the future, whether Labour or non-Labour, the Opposition, always strident, always powerful, has generally been successful in influencing the people to reject each proposal. If the Commonwealth Parliament had powers similar to those possessed by the Parliaments of Great Britain and the dominion of Hew Zealand, many of our problems would be much easier to solve. If the Government's powers were increased, it could do many things which it is now prevented from- doing. The honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Holt)** asked why the Government does not buy coal from abroad. I do not know that the Government has constitutional power to buy coal from abroad and to sell it to the State governments. The honorable member has said that the State governments are buying coal from abroad. I remind him that the States are obtaining from this Government all the credits they need for that purpose. The States have all the residual powers of government - all these powers other than the very limited powers which are named in section 51 of the Constitution. If State governments need coal, it is their responsibility to get it. This Government has not denied to the States such assistance as it is able to render in obtaining coal from abroad. The collier *Haligonian Duke,* arrived in Melborne and an industrial dispute took place on board the vessel. As the vessel was lying in the port of Melbourne the matter came under the control of the Victorian Government. The Victorian Government sent a telegram to Canberra asking whether the Aus tralian Government would help it to get the vessel unloaded. The matter is entirely one within the responsibility of the Victorian Government and it should take such steps as may be necessary to get that coal, or it should leave the coal where it is. If honorable members opposite want this Government to solve all the problems that arise on industrial issues that confront this community from time to time, they will first have to support the transfer of complete powers to the Commonwealth Parliament. Until the Commonwealth. Parliament has complete powers, the Government can exercise to the best of its ability only those limited powers which are specifically conferred upon the Commonwealth by the Constitution. Every one knows that this is not an industrial trouble in the real sense of the word. It is an by the Communist party to exploit the situation of the miners for the purpose of destroying this Government, if possible, and of demonstrating to the miners and others that they have a black-mailing power which, if used sufficiently ruthlessly, can bring success to the Communist cause. The Communists are suffering from a loss of prestige because of their failures in recent times. Sharkey, having been found guilty of sedition, is about to go to gaol. Healy has been charged in Western Australia and Phillips in Queensland has also been found guilty of a breach of the law. These set-backs to important members of the Communist party form the background of this struggle. Knowing these things the Government, acting in concert with the Government of New South Wales, is doing what it can by introducing supplementary and complementary legislation to protect the interests of the community. When honorable members opposite were in office and a strike occurred, what did they do? When a coal strike occured while the honorable member for Fawkner was Minister for Labour and Industry, the honorable gentleman said, in effect, " We have plenty of coal at grass ; you can stay out as long as you like ". The government of which he was a member established a secret fund for the purpose of trying to bribe the miners' leaders. Later, when it was suggested that the secret fund be made the subject of a royal commission, all sorts of denials of the existence of the fund was made by honorable members opposite in the hope that they would be able to fool the people into believing that they were strong men. *La* those days no prosecutions were launched against the miners' leaders and no one was gaoled for taking part in the strike. All that honorable members opposite tried to do was to use the gentle art of bribery in an attempt to solve their problems. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: **Mr. Abbott** *interjecting,* {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- The honorable member for New England **(Mr. Abbott),** who is interjecting, once went down a mine. Later he said that the miner's life was too easy and thereby caused' a strike. The whole community knows that there is an awful legacy of hate in the mining community as the result of the bad conditions of the past. Too many miners in Australia recall those bad conditions. **Mr. Aneurin** Bevan, a member of the Government of the United Kingdom is one who has burst forth *in.* almost vitriolic abuse of the mine owners because of what he suffered as a boy in the coal-mines. That legacy of hate must be taken into consideration when matters of this kind are considered. The Victorian Essential Services Act to which reference was made by the honorable member for Fawkner, became a farce. That legislation was introduced by a government which did not want to introduce anything. The Hollway Government took the . first opportunity that offered to excuse itself for not using the provisions of that act. The trouble between the Country party and the Liberal-Country party in Victoria relates specifically to the failure, in the view of the Country party, of the LiberalCountry party effectively to use the powers of that act. In the opinion of **Mr. McDonald,** the Leader of the Victorian Country party, **Mr. Hollway** has been running away from all of these troubles. It is wrong for honorable members opposite to say, as the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** has said, that this Government has deliberately allowed coal stocks to dwindle. Any government which adopted such a policy would not deserve to remain in office. There has been a great deal of trouble on the coal-fields; but in spite of it the production of coal last year was higher than in the preceding year. Uniformly for a number of years it has been better than it was in any corresponding period prior to the war. It should have been, because this Government has done more to rectify the legitimate grievances of the coal-miners than has any previous government. The Joint Coal Board, which was established by this Government, has given to the miners much more than they ever hoped for, and much more than they would have got had no such tribunal been established. The Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** has rightly described the action of the coal-miners in deciding to challenge the whole community at this time as base ingratitude to the Labour Government for what it has done to assist them. This Government, knows the feelings of the average trade unionist throughout Australia. It knows that he is sick and tired of the Communist section - the majority section - of miners' leaders. We shall do all that we can within our constitutional powers to meet this problem. Where our constitutional powers run out the State governments wil! have to take over and do what they can if they want to protect their citizens. After all, the people are citizens not only of the Commonwealth but also of the States. **Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lazzarini).** - Order! The Minister's time has expired. {: #subdebate-17-0-s11 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA · ST CP; UCP from 1940; CP from 1943 .- lt is amazing that, in a time of great national stress, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** should have made such a mealy-mouthed speech as that to which we have listened this afternoon. The right honorable gentleman having said there is no justification for the miners' action in striking and causing the suffering that the people are now undergoing, went on to talk a lot of " blah " about the past suffering of the miners. I daresay that under the Tudors and other monarchs a great many people suffered. At one time those who were not free-men had bands around their necks. However, the events of the past are of no interest to-day. We want this country to be prosperous and we want its people to receive the treatment to which they are entitled. We are not very much interested in the fact that in the past the Prime Minister took part in some big industrial disturbance. I remember that when the first Australian Imperial Force was abroad the right honorable gentleman played a part in one industrial disturbance that does not redound to his credit {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr Haylen: -- 1 thought the honorable gentleman said that what happened in the past is of no interest to-day. {: #subdebate-17-0-s12 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- The event of which I have just spoken occurred comparatively recently. The right honorable gentleman has said that the Government is against this strike, but a senator who is a supporter of this Government is reported to have defended the miners. In *Common Cause* of the 25th June, the following passage appeared: - >In a spirited defence of our position recently, **Senator Morrow** charged the employers with being responsible for industrial unrest in the coal-fields. > >Quoting facts concerning the lack of services and amenities, **Senator Morrow** commented: " That is enough to make rebels of decent men.. They are entitled to fight, because they are being robbed right and left, not only in relation to wages, but also in connexion with their conditions generally. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- Is he a Communist? {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- I do not know whether he is a Communist, but at any rate he is very pink. Although it is obvious that the Prime Minister's sympathies are with the strikers, he has stated that they have no justification whatever for their present actions, which are causing trouble and misery throughout Australia, and particularly in Sydney. The Minister for the Army **(Mr. Chambers)** has seen fit to gibe at the honorable member for Wakefield **(Mr. McBride)** and to say that he has not done very much for his country. I remind the Minister that when the honorable member for Wakefield was Minister for Munitions he was responsible for laying the foundation of the great munitions production effort in this country for which this Government has been trying to claim the credit ever since. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- That has nothing to do with the question before the Chair. {: #subdebate-17-0-s13 .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA · ST CP; UCP from 1940; CP from 1943 -- Before you took the Chair, **Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker,** your predecessor allowed the Minister- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! I am not concerned with that. What the honorable member for Wakefield did in regard to munitions is not relevant to the matter which is now under discussion. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- It is impossible to manufacture munitions without coal. There is no doubt that the miners had some grievances in the past, but that remark applies to thousands of other people. For a long period the miners have been poisoned by the Communist doctrines that have been preached to them. It is a strange fact that in the last war 52 per cent, of the strength of a battalion was raised in the Newcastle area deserted or was absent without leave when due to embark for service in the Pacific Islands. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! Whether soldiers deserted or were absent without leave has nothing to do with the matter that is before the House. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- The poisonous doctrines that have been preached to those men made them behave then, as the miners are behaving now, in a manner detrimental to the interests of Australia. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The honorable gentleman is defying the ruling of the Chair. If he does not confine his remarks to the question before the House, I shall ask him to resume his seat. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- Honorable gentlemen opposite who have tried to defend the Government by saying that Victoria and South Austrafia have not developed the production of 'brown coal to the degree to which it could have been developed, obviously do not know of the tremendous amount of : brown coal and the vast quantity of brickettes that are produced at Morwell. The Governments of Victoria and South Australia have been compelled to expend very large sums of money upon altering machinery, fitting new grates to furnaces and redesigning railway engines, because the miners in New South Wales are determined not to supply them with the coal that they require for their 1574 *Coal.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Coal.* industries and their people. The Government cannot deal with this dispute by saying that although it thinks that the miners are wrong, it is going to sit down and do nothing. It has got to do something. It has been said that no constructive suggestion for a settlement of the dispute has been made from this side of the House. If the Government had the necessary courage it would declare the existence of a state of national emergency and, if necessary, call up the miners under the defence powers and let them work for a while at the same rates of pay as those which were paid to the men who fought in the last war. Those men risked their lives for this country and for the miners, who are unworthy of the sacrifices that were made. We cannot allow this section of the community to " stick up " the whole of the people of Australia. We cannot allow our hospitals to go without heating or lighting. We cannot tolerate our people being forced to use the most primitive methods to cook their food and to suffer black-outs and other disadvantages merely because the Communist leaders of the miners, who have reduced' out reserves of coal to such a level that the nation cannot carry on if coal production is interrupted, now desire to smash the industries of this country and to cause ill-feeling, not because they consider that the miners are being badly treated financially, but because they want to create suitable conditions for the spreading of their poisonous, anti-British and antiAustralian doctrines throughout the country. They have got the miners into such a state of mind that they are prepared to strike and make everybody suffer. We know that some of the miners were involved in the recent floods. It has been suggested in some quarters that only the miners were affected by them, but the farmers along the flooded rivers have also suffered a great deal. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- The miners were not affected. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- Some of them were. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- Very few. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr RANKIN: -- Some miners in the flood areas were affected, but the farmers suffered tremendous losses. In many instances, a whole year of their work has been destroyed and their farms will not be in production again for almost a year.. It was not the miners who suffered most as a result of the floods. I am satisfied that the people of Australia will demand that the Government shall not allow these conditions to continue and that it shall take definite action to put a stop to the irresponsible actions of the miners. The people of the cities who are suffering at the hands of this section of the community will demand a reckoning. {: #subdebate-17-0-s14 .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN:
Parkes .- It is obvious from the debate that has taken place on this motion that every wellintentioned member of the House is seeking a quick solution of this problem. In those circumstances, I am amazed that the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** has been so provocative. The honorable gentleman, having said that we must forget the sad history of the mining industry because the events of the past are of no interest to-day, went back into the past and made the extraordinary allegation that 53 per cent. of the workers from the coal-fields who enlisted in the Army during the last war had deserted. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- I was referring to one battalion. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN: -- Even so, it is an extraordinary statement. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- It is a true one. {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN: -- Two Victoria Cros winners came from the coal-fields. One of them was the former Labour member for Kogarah, the late William Currey. He was born in Maitland and worked in the coal-mines. It is difficult to see what bearing military service has upon a struggle that is both political and industrial. If the reason for the initiation of this debate by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Menzies)** was to ask what the Government's role is in this crisis, the right honorable gentleman has been answered by speakers from this side of the House, who have directed attention to the fact that in 1940, under circumstances that were somewhat similar to the present circumstances, the right honorable gentleman himself took action parallel to that which has been taken by this Government. The Prime Minister **(Mr.** Chifley), with a complete understanding of the position and with all the facts available to him, has made a statement to which attention should be paid by the nation. This dispute must be settled by arbitration. Although some members of the Opposition have attempted to gain political advantage from this crisis, the honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Holt)** has said that in 1940 the Menzies Government insisted that the coal strike of that year should be settled by arbitration, but he let the cat out of the bag by saying that at that time there was plenty of coal at grass, so the Government did not care what happened. Statements of that kind strengthen the miners' view of the danger of having large stocks of coa] at grass if the stocks are to be used as a strike-breaking instrument instead of as an instrument of service to the community. I am not going to say that in this dispute the miners are right. In my opinion they are foolishly, utterly and tragically wrong. This is not an industrial dispute. I agree that the issue is a political one. Much has been said about the background to this dispute, but the miners and Australians generally cannot live in the past. They must come forward to this century. Instead of living under the bardic influence of *How Green is My Valley,* they should think of how difficult are the circumstances of their fellow-workers who have supported them loyally through the years of struggle. I have heard it said in this chamber that there was tragedy and misery in the coal-fields, and it may be that there was, but there is want, anxiety and a feeling of stress now among the people of Sydney, which is the largest Australian community that is affected by the present strike. {: .speaker-KFQ} ##### Mr Gullett: -- What is the Government going to do about it? {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN: -- That will be revealed in the future. It is necessary to have a sense of history when considering strikes. It is easy to become emotional and to put forward certain suggestions. I suppose that the suggestion that the honorable member for Henty **(Mr. Gullett)** would make is that the New Guard should be called into action. My suggestion is that we should hang on for as long as we can, consistent with decency, fair play and Australianism, without appeasement, in order to see whether a solution of the problem can bc arrived at. We have been trained in that technique, and the honorable member for Henty has not. I think that the attitude that has been adopted by the Prime Minister is a grand one. At the moment it receives only modified support from the people, because they are demanding action, but when a considerable industrial upheaval occurs, it cannot be settled immediately. There are no miracles but a slow and tortuous working upon the basis of arbitration. Upon that rock the Prime Minister stands firm. The Australian Government and the Government of New South Wales have cooperated to provide special machinery to enable the coal-miners to have their grievances heard and, if necessary, redressed. The Joint Coal Board has greatly improved conditions in the coalmining industry. Human behaviour can be altered by improving the conditions of the workers. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- Why are the miners on strike ? {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN: -- I am endeavouring to make the point that, gradually, we must alter human behaviour. The conditions of the coal-miners have improved immeasurably within the last few years since the appointment of the Joint Coal Board. The men have been provided with many amenities, including lung clinics, playing areas and swimming pools, in an endeavour to improve their outlook. However, the psychology of the miner has not yet been changed to such a degree that he is prepared to abandon the strike method completely in favour of approaching the Coal Industry Tribunal. Another important factor is the attitude of the partisan Communist leaders, because they have changed what might have been, in the past, industrial trouble into purely political trouble. As the result of that policy, the general public is being held to ransom. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr Abbott: -- What does the honorable member propose to do about it? {: .speaker-KGX} ##### Mr HAYLEN: -- I have only this to say. Thank God it is a Labour Government that is facing the problem. If the Liberal party and the Australian Country party were in office, they would probably consider that the best way of resolving the strike would be to use a " slush " fund. History has shown that various groups do not change their propaganda mediums with the passing of the years. On one memorable occasion, honorable members opposite decided that the best way in which to conduct a coal struggle was, first, to urge the coalminers to submit their claims to the Arbitration Court, and, secondly, to establish a " slush " fund with which to bribe the men to return to work. While carrying out that policy, they uttered pious platitudes for the ears of the general public. If propaganda does not change its course, I should like to know the source of the funds available to the Communists. Some people in Sydney are saying to-day that the Communists appear to have plenty of money. Debate interrupted under Standing Order 257b. {: .page-start } page 1576 {:#debate-18} ### ASSENT TO BILLS Assent to the following bills reported : - Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1948-49. Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1948-49. {: .page-start } page 1576 {:#debate-19} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: - States Grants Bill 1949. Supply (Works and Services) Bill (No. 1) 1949-50. {: .page-start } page 1576 {:#debate-20} ### LIGHTHOUSES BILL 1949 Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by **Mr. Dedman)** read a first time. {: .page-start } page 1576 {:#debate-21} ### NEW AND OPPOSED BUSINESS AFTER 11 P.M Motion (by **Mr. Chifley)** proposed - >That Standing Order 70 - 11 o'clock rule - be suspended for the remainder of this week. {: #debate-21-s0 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond -- I should like the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** to explain why he has submitted this motion. A government usually takes this course when the Parliament is on the eve of going into recess. As every honorable member knows, the submission of that motion usually implies the possibility of an all-night sitting, during which the Government's legislation is passed by the process of exhausting honorable members. I shall be interested to hear the Prime Minister justify his action in submitting this motion at the present time. If the Government has introduced this motion because it expects that this parliamentary period will conclude this week, I cannot agree with it. While the nation is suffering from the impact of industrial chaos, the House should remain in session. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- The purpose of the motion is to allow the Government to introduce new business after 11 p.m. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- As long as we have the Prime Minister's promise- {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- I assure the honorable member that there is nothing sinister associated with the motion. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- That is quite a change. However, I accept the assurance. {: #debate-21-s1 .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT:
New England -- As a rule, we can accept the assurances of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley),** but circumstances alter cases. The honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** has clearly explained that the objective of a government in suspending Standing Order 70 is to enable it to complete its business as quickly as possible almost immediately before the Parliament goes into recess. This afternoon, I asked the Prime Minister to give an assurance, on behalf of the Government, that the Parliament would be kept continuously in session during the present industrial crisis, and, if necessary, be given an opportunity to discuss the strike position each week. I may be oldfashioned, but I believe that the elected representatives of the people in this Parliament are the proper persons to deal with a national crisis and defend the interests of the starving and frozen people who cannot express their views in this forum. They are without warmth in their homes, although there is plenty of coal. {: .speaker-A48} ##### Mr Chifley: -- In order to save the honorable member any trouble, may I *Stevedoring Industry* [28 June, 1949.] *Bill* 1949. 1577 tell him that the purpose of the motion is to suspend Standing Order 70 for the remainder of this week. The Government does not contemplate the House rising this week. {: .speaker-JLL} ##### Mr ABBOTT: -- If the Government undertakes that the Parliament will not go into recess this week, I shall withdraw my opposition to the motion, but I shall renew my opposition to a similar motion if the right honorable gentleman submits it next week. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 1577 {:#debate-22} ### STEVEDORING INDUSTRY BILL 1949 Motion (by **Mr. Dedman)** agreed to - >That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the prevention or settle- , ment by conciliation or arbitration of industrial disputes, extending beyond the limits of any one State, in connexion with stevedoring operations; to regulate industrial matters in connexion with, and to regulate and control the performance of, stevedoring operations in the course of trade and commerce with other countries or among the States; and for other purposes. {: .page-start } page 1577 {:#debate-23} ### DEFENCE FORCES RETIREMENT BENEFITS BILL 1949 Motion (by **Mr. Dedman)** agreed to - >That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1 948. {: .page-start } page 1577 {:#debate-24} ### AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS' REPATRIATION BILL 1949 Motion (by **Mr. Barnard)** agreed to - >That leave be given to bring in bill for an act to amend the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act 1920-1948. *Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.* {: .page-start } page 1577 {:#debate-25} ### STEVEDORING INDUSTRY BILL 1949 Bill presented by **Mr. Dedman,** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-25-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-25-0-s0 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN:
Minister for Defence and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction · Corio · ALP -- *by leave* - I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. The purpose of the bill is to repeal the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947-48, and to make provision for the replacement of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Honorable members will notice from a comparison of the titles of the act and of this bill that the objects of the two measures are the same. In this casual industry, it has been very difficult over the years to provide sufficient pools of labour for handling cargoes and to maintain regularity of employment and earnings among waterside workers. This is why it was agreed on both sides of this House when the act was introduced that it was necessary to have some authority to provide pools of labour for the regular and speedy turn-round of ships and to change, as far as possible and with as little dislocation as there need be, this casual and intermittent industry into one providing regular and steady employment. The Government decided in 1947 that every possible step should be taken to achieve industrial peace in what has always been one of Australia's most turbulent industries. The experience gained from the Stevedoring Industry Commission in the war years, together with **Mr. Justice** Foster's recommendation, led the Government to make a bold legislative experiment. It vested in the one commission, not only the administrative functions I have mentioned but also powers to prevent or settle industrial disputes. Success in handling these disputes was hoped for, not because of any departure from arbitration, but because there would be greater opportunities for co-operation of both employers and employees, while still retaining arbitration. The spirit and rules of arbitration were maintained by providing that a judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, or a conciliation commissioner, shouldbe the independent and impartial chairman of the commission. In actual fact, **Mr. Justice** Kirby, a judge of the court, was appointed as first chairman. The commission, continuing the work of the war-time body has performed its two-fold functions, one in the sphere of management, and the other in the sphere of conciliation and arbitration, with a measure of success which well justified both the Government's experiment and the commission's continued existence. Regular pools of labour have been available for stevedoring operations in all Australian ports, and, in various ways, assistance has been given to both ship-owners and waterside workers in the more efficient conduct of stevedoring operations. Here I might mention the very valuable assistance rendered by the commission in the removal of the major portion of the 1948 record sugar crop from Queensland sugar ports. That was an important success because, at the beginning of crushing, all sugar interests and shipowners agreed that it was wellnigh impossible. They ako predicted that sugar would be moved' so slowly that crushing would be stopped at various mills. Honorable members know that such catastrophes did not occur. The commission has maintained bureaux and pick-up centres and has allocated labour among the various ships and competing shipowners in a manner, the achievement of which in the various ports would have been impossible for shipowners themselves. In this regard, attention must be paid to the general shortage of labour in Australian industry and the responsibility of the commission not to take too much labour from the common pool and give it to the shipping industry to the detriment of industry generally and the Australian economy. On the industrial side, by virtue of the stress that was laid on conciliation, the commission was able very substantially to reduce the time lost by strikes and other industrial stoppages. In the first phase of the commission's activities, the time lost during these stoppages, even including that lost in the long general strike in Queensland in 1948, was reduced to well under one-half of what had been lost in the previous" year. Later, and up to the suspension of the commission's activities, this lost time was reduced still further to between one-third and onequarter. The commission was able also to continue benefits which, although due to the men, would have been difficult of achievement if the industry had not been under some sort of unified control. In this regard, I mention the payment of attendance money, which not only was a benefit to the men, but also effectively ensured their regular attendance at pick-up centres for work. Also, the commission was able to grant annual leave with pay to workers in this casual industry and to organize the arrangements for the actual taking of such leave. Having devoted its primary attention to the reduction of strikes, the commission had advanced to a position where it could devote more attention to the achievement of greater efficiency in the conduct of stevedoring operations. At this stage, when the roundtable method had achieved success in the avenues indicated, and when gradual success in other avenues was to be anticipated, the representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation on the commission indicated in a clear and unmistakable manner that the round-table method could not succeed so long as they were members of the commission. **Mr. Healy** and **Mr. Roach,** the federation'srepresentatives, on two different occasions, incited waterside workers to strike against their own commission's orders. The strikes had nothing whatever to do with conditions of employment of waterside workers, but followed court proceedings against a **Mr. Sharkey** and a **Mr. McPhillips,** neither of whom had any connexion with this industry. As a result of these incitements, stoppages occurred in various ports and a state of affairs was brought about which neither the chairman of the commission nor the Government could tolerate. The Government asked for assurances from **Mr. Healy** and **Mr. Roach,** that while they remained members of the commission, they would co-operate with it and not incite members of their federation to flout the commission's authority and disobey its orders. **Mr. Healy** and **Mr. Roach** refused to give those assurances and the Government then asked the federation to nominate two other representatives in their places. When the federation refused to do that, the Government had no alternative but to dissolve the Stevedoring Industry Commission. At the same time, the Government realized that the admitted need for an administrative authority to maintain pick-up centres and bureaux and to supply labour still existed. As events had shown that the time was not yet ripe for the actual disputants to be represented on the commision the only solution was to constitute a similar authority on which neither side would be represented. This bill, therefore, provides for the establishment of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board which will replace the Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Government considered, *Stevedoring Industry* [28 June, 1949.] *Bill* 1949. 1579 however, that the industrial functions should be vested not in the board, but in a judicial tribunal. It considered that the most appropriate tribunal for this industry was the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The bill, therefore provides that the jurisdiction to prevent or settle by conciliation or arbitration, industrial disputes in this industry and power to regulate industrial matters, shall be vested in that court. This jurisdiction will be exercised by a single judge. The board will have power to intervene and be represented in all proceedings before the court, thus preserving a vital link between the board and the court. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- Who will make the determinations - a judge or a conciliation commissioner ? {: .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN: -- A judge. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Board will consist of a chairman and two other members, fulfilling, broadly speaking, the functions exercised by the old commission, other than those associated with arbitration. Those functions are set out in clause 13 and include the regulation of stevedoring operations, the provision of sufficient waterside workers for such operations, the payment of attendance money, the establishment of employment bureaux, and the provision of amenities. The board is also to be charged with the function of developing port facilities, including the introduction of mechanized methods of handling cargo. The board's functions are to be performed with a view to securing the speedy, safe and efficient performance of stevedoring operations. The board will continue to deal with such matters as the actual machinery of registration of waterside workers, the allotment of gangs to employers as required, the provision of amenities and generally to ensure that such measures as are possible shall be taken for securing efficient working on the waterfront and the availability of adequate labour for the loading and unloading of ships. No provision is made for the representation of any particular interests on the board. Parts III. and IV. of the bill provide respectively for the continuance of the systems of registration of employers and waterside workers and the establishment of waterside employment committees. The provisions of the regulations made under the Stevedoring Industry Act about alteration of port quotas have, with slight modification, been inserted in clause 22. The financial provisions of the bill are similar, in effect, to the financial provisions of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947-48. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Board will assume all the rights, property, assets, obligations and liabilities of the Stevedoring Industry Commission constituted under the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947-48. The continuance of proceedings and the keeping in force of orders made by the commission is also provided for. There will be no interruption in the control and regulation of the industry and the new board will be able to take over from the commission with a minimum of dislocation. In introducing this measure, the Government is making an earnest endeavour to retain for the industry and the community the benefits that were obtained by its former legislation and to provide far further progress, greater efficiency and more harmony in the industry. There is room for considerable improvement in co-operation between employers and the workers in the industry and the Government trusts that under the measures now being introduced, employers and employees will co-operate fully with the court and the board. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Holt)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1579 {:#debate-26} ### DEFENCE FORCES RETIREMENT BENEFITS BILL 1949 Bill presented by **Mr. Dedman,** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-26-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-26-0-s0 .speaker-KCF} ##### Mr DEDMAN:
Minister for Defence and Minister for Post-war Reconstruction · Corio · ALP -- *by leave* -I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. On the 5th May, last year, I had the privilege of introducing a bill for an act to provide retirement benefits for members of the Permanent Defence Forces of the Commonwealth. That bill became the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, which came into operation on the 2nd July, 1948. In the course of my speech, I referred to deficiencies in the then existing retirement provisions of the three services and said that in view of the varied conditions of service in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, many of which are of long standing, and the impracticability of covering in a hill every possible class of case, a general provision had been inserted enabling regulations to be made to deal with isolated and unusual cases and incidentally, any minor 'changes or variations that might take place in the course of the adjustment of the services to uniform conditions of service. In the course of administration of the act certain anomalies have become apparent. In some instances, as the act stands, they operate to the disadvantage of the member. They cannot be corrected by regulations and amendment of the act is necessary to remove them.. Experience has shown also that some minor additions are desirable. Members of the Permanent Military Forces and certain personnel of the Royal Australian Air Force were contributors to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. These members were compulsorily transferred to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund when the act was brought into operation last year. It was an inherent principle of the defence forces retirement benefits scheme that no contributor transferred from the superannuation fund should receive less favorable treatment under the new act than he would have received under the Superannuation Act. This, however, is not specifically provided for in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and it is proposed under clause 17 of the bill to provide that the benefits payable to a member of the defence forces who was previously a contributor under the Superannuation Act, shall not be less than those that he would have received under that act as at the date of his transfer. As the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act now stands, it is possible, through the unusual conditions under which certain members were enlisted, that the benefits under it might have been less than those members would have received had they been retired under the provisions of the Superannuation Act. The addition proposed to section 81 of the act will remove that anomaly. Clause 9 of the bill provides that, with certain exceptions, members who receive pension or benefits under the act shall not also receive deferred pay, and vice versa. This amendment does not involve any new principle, as it was a provision in the Superannuation Act, under which personnel were previously contributing. The intention was that this principle should be maintained in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, and that deferred pay should cease to be credited when the new retirement benefits scheme came into operation. Due, however, to some administrative delay in effecting amendments to service regulations, it has become necessary to make the proposed additions to section 73 of the act to prevent the payment of double benefits. The more important amendments to existing sections of the act are those affecting sections 23 and 77. The bill provides for amendment of section 23 to overcome an anomaly resulting from the present wording, under which a member may be required1 to make 26 fortnightly contributions to the fund in respect of units from which he will not receive any increase of pension. The amendment will correct this anomaly and will provide that 26 contributions shall be required of the member only where the additional units will increase his retirement benefit, or where units are taken up in the last year of a member's service prior to reaching the age of 60 years or on retirement from the forces after less than twelve months' service as a contributor. Clause 13 of the bill refers to an amendment of section 77 of the act to provide certain concessions to serving members who, when under the Commonwealth Superannuation Act, were contributing for a fewer number of units than they were entitled to contribute for. In some instances the neglected units were not taken up because of the advanced age of the member and because of his financial circumstances. It is proposed to relax the provision that now requires such members to increase their contributions up to the number of units appropriate to their present rate of pay. The remaining amendments are of a minor nature and may be left for consideration at the committee stage. I might mention for the information of honorable members that the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act has been in operation for twelve months and that experience during that period has shown that the scheme generally is soundly based and is providing substantial benefits for personnel on retirement from the services. The amendments shown in the bill are the result of recommendations of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board, on which each of the three services is represented. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Gullett)** adjourned {: .page-start } page 1581 {:#debate-27} ### AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS' REPATRIATION BILL 1949 Bill presented by **Mr. Barnard,** and read a first time. {:#subdebate-27-0} #### Second Reading {: #subdebate-27-0-s0 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Minister for Repatriation · Bass · ALP -- *by leave* - I move - >That the bill be now read a second time. This is a short bill to amend the rate of service pension for the first child of a service pensioner. The Government has decided that the rate of pension in respect of a child of an invalid pensioner shall be increased from !0s. a fortnight to 18s. a fortnight, mid that a similar increase shall be granted in respect of the service pension for the first child of a service pensioner. Service pension in respect of children is payable in certain cases where the memher is granted service pension on the ground1 of being permanently unemployable, or suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. The rates for children are expressed in the act as - One child, 10s. a fortnight; two children, 15s.; three children, 20s. ; four or more children, 25s. If the first child is to receive 8s. more, then all the rates will require to be recast 8s. higher than those at present shown. The bill will effect this. Of the number of children in receipt of service pension, about 100 are first children. The additional expenditure involved will therefore l>e a little more than £1,000. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Holt)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1581 {:#debate-28} ### POST AND TELEGRAPH RATES BILL 1949 {:#subdebate-28-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the 21st June *(vide* page 1200) on motion by **Mr. Calwell** - >That the bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
Barker · ALP -- It is marvellous how this Government can make great changes of front on very vital issues. The bill before the House is designed to increase postal, telegraph and telephone charges, although we are not yet half way through the year. At Christmas, last year, the Minister for Labour and National Service **(Mr. Holloway)** saw fit to issue a pamphlet with the title, " Ten Years of War and Peace" in big black type, followed by this description of its contents - >A New Year statement issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Honorable E. J. Holloway, M.H.E.), headed by the Australian coat of arms and the inscription " Commonwealth of Australia ". The honorable gentleman must have been away from his crystal ball for some time, or completely out of touch with his colleague the Postmaster-General **(Senator Cameron),** because he saw fit to say something about what overseas people think of our postal and telegraph services. I am astonished at that, because I have always understood that the fashion of this Government is to care not one hoot for what overseas people think about anything in Australia. At any rate, it is most interesting to learn that now and again Ministers of the present Government pay some attention to what overseas people think of our local conditions and services. I shall quote a whole passage from this New Year statement, because it is very relevant to the subject before -us. Indeed, I am astonished that the Minister for Information **(Mr. Calwell)** did not see fit to give his colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, an advertisement by quoting it him.=elf. The document states in pair* - >Visitors from overseas countries cannot understand how we Australians have made such rapid reconstruction since the war. They see on every hand, in spite of the obvious shortage of labour, signs of unheard of prosperity not for a few but for all tha people. 1582 *Post and Telegraph* [REPRESENTATIVES.]Rates *Bill1949.* > >When they examine out production figures they are astounded both in connexion with Government enterprise 'and private industry. For example, they find that our postal, telegraph, and telephone services are among the cheapest and most rapidly developing in the world. > >P.M.G.'s Department - Increase in Business. > >The following figures give some idea of what has been done in spite of labour and material shortages: - > >In 1939 there were 43,000 employees. > >In 1948 there were 69,000 employees. {: .speaker-KDB} ##### Mr Edmonds: -- And they are doing a good job. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON: -- The document continues - >In 1938 there were 630,000 telephones in use in Australia. > >In 1948 there were 965,000 telephones in use. > >In 1938 there were 1,000,000 wireless licences. > >In 1948 this had grown to 1,800,000 licences. > >In 1938 the year's profit was £3,500,000. > >In 1947 this had reached £5,103,000. Yet, according to the Minister for Information, who represents the PostmasterGeneral in this chamber, the postal, telegraph and telephone services will show a loss of about £6,000,000 in the coming year. That is a fair achievement. The document continues - >The Postmaster-General's Department intends to continue this programme of development until every home is equipped with telephonic and wireless services. The desire, the will and the money are here. It only needs the labour and the hearty co-operation and physical effort of all those engaged in this national work to reach this goal. > >That there are tens of thousands of claims for such services still unmet is a sure sign of the increased spending power of our people en masse due to regular unbroken incomes, but money alone cannot give us the living standards we desire. In addition to the facilities mentioned, we must have a healthy home for every family with all the laboursaving devices to relieve the housewife, and in every home, to safeguard the health of ourselves and our children, there must he a modern refrigerator. We have a most modern refrigerator supplied by the miners' federation, a strike of whose members began yesterday. That is a patent that will not bring much in the way of royalties. I have quoted from the New Year statement of the Minister for Labour and National Service merely as a sort of " pipeopener" to show how completely Ministers can either turn somersaults on government policy and achievements, or, alternatively, take it upon themselves to talk about departments administered by their colleagues without consulting the Ministers in charge of those departments. I shall turn now to the speech by the Minister for Information. I have no doubt that he had not read his speech before he presented it to the House, but nineteen pages of typescript were handed to all honorable members, and we all are, no doubt, deeply indebted to the honorable gentleman for committing has views to paper in such an easily read way. The thing that stands out in the speech is that the Minister went to great pains, which must have taxed his ingenuity almost to the breaking point, to show that, notwithstanding the increases of rates and charges that we are now considering, the people of Australia ought to consider themselves lucky indeed that they have such a moderate, modest, and careful Government. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON: -- Implicit in the speech is the idea that, if it had not been for the kind of government that. Australia now has, the rates and charges might have been infinitely greater. The opening paragraph of the Minister's speech is worth quoting. He said - >This bill deals with the amendment of *the* Posts and Telegraphs Act to adjust certain postal and telegraphic charges in order to give an equitable return for the services provided under present costs and conditions. That is worthy of the honorable gentleman. Letus examine the income of the Postal Department during the last few years. In 1939-40, according to the department's reports, there were 75,000 private mail boxes in use. This year the number has risen to 93,000. The commission on money orders has yielded £390,000 as against £290,000 previously, an increase of 30 per cent. Revenue from the telegraph branch has doubled in nine years, whilst revenue from the telephone branch has increased from £8,500,000 to £15.000,000. and that from postage from £6,650,000to £13,000,000. During the same period, revenue from radio licencefees has increased from £549,000 to £820,000, and that from miscellaneous items from £440,000 to £748,000. I cannot understand how a business, the revenue of which has increased so much in the last few years, should now find itself in financial difficulties. According to the Minister's speech, the Postal Department showed a surplus of £6,674,000 for the year 1944-45, as against a surplus of £3,625,000 for the year 1938-39. That happens to he the financial year during which, for five hectic months, I was more or less insecurely installed as PostmasterGeneral. I take no credit for the fact that there was a surplus in that year. The Postal Department is a going concern, and the Postmaster-General is the luckiest man in Cabinet, and can do all his work in two hours a day. From a record profit in 1944-45, the PostmasterGeneral expects a deficit of £3,500,000 for the current financial year, and the esti- mated loss would be over £6,000,000 during 1949-50 if existing rates were maintained. Surely it is the act of a financial genius to turn a surplus of £6,674,000 into a deficit of over £6,000,000 in the short space of five years. Such an achievement is beyond anything to which private enterprise ever aspired. I cannot understand the Minister's figures about staff. There is one reference to a total of 69,000 employees in the Postal Department, but that does not tally with the figures (published by the Public Service Board. In 1938-39, the total number of employees was 35,066, whilst on the 30th June, 1948, according to the Public Service Board, the total number of employees was 60,304, an increase of 70 per cent. The Minister has admitted that the department does not now render the same efficient service as it did previously. Much leeway has to be made up in the installation of telephones, for instance. The cost of running the department has increased, and certain reasons have been given. On that point, the Minister said - >Since the beginning of 1947, the increase in direct labour costs immediately attributable to the cost of living rises and the upward movement of wages, coupled with the 40-hour week, have advanced the department's annual wages bill by more than £7,000,000, apart altogether from the wages of new staff. The 40-hour week itself is not the major - cause of the increase in labour expenditure, since it represents only 15 per cent, of the extra wages bill. I pause there to call attention to a salient fact. I understood that the introduction of the 40-hour week meant that each employee would do about 11 per cent, less work than before, but, according to the statement of the Minister, the increased cost due to the 40-hour week is about 15 per cent. Thus, it appears that if output be reduced by 11 per cent., the cost is increased by 15 per cent. But that is not all. According to the statements of the Minister, the increased cost due to the introduction of the 40-hour week is £1,050,000, apart from the cost of new staff ; yet the Postmaster-General, speaking in Hobart on the 29th April of this year, made the following statement, as reported in the *Mercury* of the following day: - >The introduction of the 40-hour week had increased labour coats by £750,000 annually. When the shorter working week began on January 1, 1948. it was estimated that the department would need an additional 2,350 employees. However, it has not been possible to obtain the increased staff and an increase in overtime has been unavoidable. Thus, the Postmaster-General puts the figure at £750,000, whereas his representative in this chamber states that the cost is £1,050,000, apart from the cost of extra staff. As a matter of fact, the department has not been able to get the additional 2,350 employees required to inaugurate the 40-hour week in the full bloom of its usefulness, and many employees have had to work overtime. It is interesting to note that, whilst the working week has been officially reduced, many employees have actually worked more hours than before. I always understood that the policy of the Government was to get rid of overtime, although it has come to my knowledge that many of the employees actually look for overtime work. That brings me to a consideration of the New Year message of the Minister for Labour and National Service who, in one paragraph, encourages people to work overtime. He shows in a table that -the person on a normal income of £12 a week, who earns £4 a week overtime, has to pay only an extra 16s. 6d. a week in tax, or about 20 per cent, of the extra earnings. Under the new scale of charges, registration fees are to be practically doubled, as is the fee for special delivery. "We are told in the most ingenuous way that the new postage rates on newspapers still represent a valuable concession to the proprietors of newspapers. I always understood that the concession rates on newspapers were designed to benefit the newspaper readers. Although the postage rate is paid in the first instance by the proprietors, it ultimately becomes a charge which is met by the subscriber. The rate for short-distance telegrams up to a distance of 15 miles has been increased by 66§ per cent.; that is, from 9d. to ls. 3d. Eoi* distances over 15 miles, the rate has been increased by 50 per cent. In 1939, when I was PostmasterGeneral, one of the things I induced Cabinet to agree to was the abolition of the border rate on telegrams. Those who had the right to advise me said that it would result in a loss of revenue, but I did not believe them. The special rate was abolished, not during my term of office, but during that of my successor, **Mr. Victor** Thorby, and the figures proved that my forecast was right. One of the most interesting features of the new proposals are the provisions relating to press telegrams. On that subject, the Minister said - >The rates for press telegrams concerning parliamentary, executive, departmental and other Commonwealth proceedings will not be disturbed, but the charges for other press telegrams will be raised by 60 per cent. What does he mean when he refers to Commonwealth proceedings? Does he include statements by the leaders of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, or does the term cover only statements that emanate from the Government, or from government departments? Do comments by party leaders outside the Parliament on government or departmental decisions come within the definition which would entitle them to the benefit of the reduced rates? If not, it is clear that it is proposed to place a premium on Government statements or, if one likes to be nasty, on Government propaganda. Some people would not suggest that the Minister for Information would indulge in propaganda in any circumstances, but we might suspect some of his colleagues. The Minister for Information is silent. Perhaps he did not examine this possibility. But the matter is of great importance to newspaper proprietors, and to the people who read newspapers. I should like to know whether all political parties are to be placed on an equal footing, or whether the Government and government departments are to be given preferential treatment to the disadvantage of Opposition parties. Charges for lettergrams are to be increased by 20 per cent. The Minister takes great credit to the Government for not having increased telephone charges very greatly in country areas. The charge for telephones which are connected to small rural exchanges is to be increased by 5s. yearly. Increases of 15s. in Hobart, 22s. 6d. in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, and 25s. in Sydney and Melbourne are also to be made. 'Ibo unit fee for local calls is to be raised by *id.* in the country and *id.* in the metropolitan areas. There are all too many instances of lack of appreciation of the vital difference between being connected to a big metropolitan exchange, which serves tens of thousands of subscribers all of whom may be contacted for the local call fee, and being on a country exchange serving from half a dozen to 100 subscribers. The telephone subscriber connected to a metropolitan exchange has a great advantage over the country subscriber because he is able to contact any one of many thousands of subscribers for the local call fee From the viewpoint of the country subscriber there is not a great deal of warrant for praise in the proposed realinement of charges. Telephone charges are a burning subject in country areas. The only way in which these inequalities can be adjusted is by proceeding with the installation of automatic exchanges: in country centres as rapidly as possible. I am connected to an automatic exchange and I appreciate the convenience of a service which is available for 24 hours of the day for seven days of the week. The Minister has said that 51 automatic exchanges have been established in metropolitan areas and rural districts and that seventeen automatic exchanges are being installed at the moment. I should very much like to know how many of the 51 automatic exchanges already established and how many of the seventeen which are now being installed are country exchanges. A continuous telephone service is a matter of vital interest to country subscribers. Such a service is needed in summer as a means of warning people of the outbreak or likely outbreak of fire. The sooner the whole country is linked up by a continuous telephene service, the better will the position be. The Minister does not propose to increase the call charge of 2d. for the use of public telephones. I am fortunate in that I very rarely use a public telephone. Those who are obliged to use public telephones complain that very often, especially in the evenings, people stay in the call box for an inordinate time. At present, users of public telephones may talk until the last trump if they wish to do so, and the Government may have to consider some means by which it can limit the length of time occupied for the standard call fee. If a person likes to carry on a conversation with another subscriber for a couple of hours with his own private telephone he prevents only incoming calls from being made ; but the user of a public telephone who talks for a very long time prevents others from using a public facility. The rights of the public should be considered. Dealing with trunk line calls the Minister said - >In most overseas countries only two rate periods are in operation, and in adjusting its tariff schedule to provide for two periods, instead of three as at present, the Australian Postal Department will follow international practise. I am not in the least impressed by that statement. As far as I can understand the Universal Postal Union regulations do not deal with internal trunkcalls. That is a matter entirely for our own arrangement. In some countries the telephones services are not government owned. There are no government-owned services in the United States of America and, as far as I am aware, in Canada. I do not think that any particular good will result from conforming to what other countries do in respect of internal trunk-calls. This action is in contrast with the usual policy of the present Government of taking credit for doing things differently from other countries. I suppose it was rather hard put to find a suitable argument with which to back up a measure of this kind. The Minister also said - >The elimination of the night rate will spread traffic more evenly, reduce the volume of latenight calls and thus assist in providing staff during peak periods at a time when it is not possible to secure an adequate supply of suitable girls. The last statement tells quite a story, but I cannot go into it profitably just now. The Minister also said - >The combined additional revenue which it is expected will he received from the revised postal, telephone and telegraph charges is in the order of £5,500,000 yearly, this representing a net increase of about 16 per cent, in the tola] earnings of the Post Office. "We have been told by Ministers and by honorable members opposite again and again that the increases that have been made in the prices of commodities and services have resulted from the foolish decision of the people when they were asked at the referendum on rents and prices to clothe the Commonwealth with permanent powers to control prices. This lesson should be written out a hundred times by the Government. Nothing but the Government's" own actions has prevented it from controlling prices in the Postal Department. In the Minister's speech there is tacit admission that the proposed increases in the costs of the services rendered by the Postal Department result from the Government's own policy. If the Government cannot control the affairs of one of its departments, how in the name of fortune could we expect it to control prices if power to do so were given to it ? No alteration of the Constitution is required to enable the Postal Department to control the charges for its services. The people and the States have no control over them whatsoever. Sole control of these matters is exercised by the Government itself and it has been of such a nature that the Government has been forced to bring before the Parliament a measure which proposes to increase some existing charges by as much as 66$ per cent, and to impose an average overall increase of 16 per cent. Although the Minister has said that there will be no increase of letter rates the surcharge of £d. which was imposed as a war measure is now to be merged into the general postage rate. The most that the Government can say is that it has taken off the surcharge of id. and has added id. to the charge. From the viewpoint of the person who pays, it does not matter whether the impost be called a charge or a surcharge. Another interesting sidelight is that the Postal Department transmits nearly 4,000,000 meteorological telegrams yearly. The people of South Australia, generally, and those in New South Wales who suffered from the recent floods would have been just as well off, or better off, without the weather forecasts which are made on the information contained in such telegrams. Our meteorological officers seem to have developed an awful habit of incorrectly forecasting weather conditions. The Government stands condemned out of the Minister's own mouth. The Postal Department has failed to maintain efficient services; it has heavily increased its staff; and the Government proposes to make heavy increases in postal, telephone and telegraph charges because of its own foolish policy and because it has not been able to do very much about controlling costs. There is only one proposal in this measure with which I agree. I agree wholeheartedly with the proposal to inaugurate a system under which the Postal Department will not in future be bound down by budgetary provisions year by year. In the past, it has not been able to obtain money for its requirements until the budget had been passed and any moneys that remained unexpended at the close of the financial year had to revert to the Treasury. That system has operated, not because of weaknesses on the part of governments, but because the Constitution provides that all moneys unexpended at the close of the financial year shall be paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. At present no moneys can be expended hy government departments until appropriate votes have been agreed to by this Parliament. That is the law. But recently we had a frank admission by the Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** that the Government had authorized the expenditure of certain moneys without first having obtained the approval of the Parliament. In doing so, it showed a contempt for the Parliament which is unique in the history of British parliamentary institutions. I commend the Government for having decided to inaugurate a system under which the Postal Department will know for two, three of more years in advance that each year regular amounts of money will be provided for expenditure on developmental works. Such a practice is not new in the history of the Postal Department. During the regime of the Bruce-Page Government approximately £56,000,000 was made available for the purpose of a long-term programme for the extension of telephone services. That programme enabled the postal authorities to plan ahead, knowing what their resources would be from year to year. I oppose this bill. I do not think it is warranted and I believe that it constitutes irrefutable evidence of the effect of the failure of this Government to exercise proper control over the Postal Department. I can instance one or two respects in which the Postmaster-General has failed lamentably to carry out his task. Consider, for a moment, the arrangements made for letter deliveries in country areas. There are many little towns in my electorate in which letter deliveries have been arranged only within certain limits of the boundaries of the towns. Those who live beyond the specified limit have to collect their own mail. Those who live outside the town area get no delivery service at all, but they still have to pay for it. Nobody can suggest that the Government is warranted in increasing the staff of the Postal Department by 70 per cent, to cope wtih the additional business now transacted. A great deal of the real work of the Postal Department is done in country towns by persons who are not regular members of the staff. Like the major in *The Pirates of Penzance* there is hardly anything on earth with which they are not supposed to be acquainted. They have got to sell duty stamps and wage tax stamps, pay out social service benefits, cash postal notes and do a hundred and one other things. They are collectors of taxes. They are almost be-alls and endalls. They are the general factotums for the Commonwealth in their own little areas. They do a remarkably good job. {: #subdebate-28-0-s1 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- Do they receive payment from the Department of Social Services and other departments for these duties ? {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON: -- I could not say. According to the Minister's second-reading speech, they perform many of these services for nothing. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: **Mr. Anthony** *interjecting,* {: #subdebate-28-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER:
Mr. Lazzarini -- Order! The honorable member for Barker is doing quite well on his own. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON: -- I . am always happy to receive assistance. No matter how well one is doing, one can always do a little better. This question of payment for services rendered through the Postal Department is one that will always be with us. I regard the department as, in general, a very efficient concern, but I agree with the Minister that there has been a certain decrease of its efficiency. That was inevitable as a result of the war, but the fighting has now been over for four years and we are entitled to expect a return to what was considered before the outbreak of the war to be a normal state of efficiency. There is no indication in the Minister's second-reading speech that the Government has that in mind or that these fairly heavy imposts that are proposed will bring about that very desirable state of affairs. However, I can assure the Minister in charge of the bill, who represents a metropolitan constituency, that, while it may not worry him very much, some honorable gentlemen opposite who represent country constituencies, including yourself, **Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker,** will in future be somewhat busy explaining to their electors how this has occurred under the administration of a government which claims that it is responsible for all good things down here below. I am amazed at the figures that have been given by the Minister in charge of the bill in an attempt to show that postal charges in the United States of America, Canada and Great Britain are higher than those in force in Australia. I should have expected the Minister, if he were a logical man, to say that it is obvious that postal charges in those countries should be higher than charges in this country. They are not in the " golden age ". The Labour party has not come into power in Canada or the United States of America. It is in power in the United Kingdom, but it seems as though there are one or two rifts in the lute there. In those circumstances, the Government should not endeavour to take credit to itself for conditions in Australia being better than conditions in those countries. The whole of the Government's case in the Parliament has been that it is a more capable, wide-awake and farseeing government than any of the poor wretched governments overseas. Therefore, when the members of the Government, these great experts in efficiency whose achievements are as big as the Rock of Gibraltar and as permanent as the pyramids, compare themselves with the members of the Governments of the United States and Canada they bring themselves down to a level at which I did not expect them to place themselves. {: #subdebate-28-0-s3 .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr BURKE:
Perth .- The bill before the House is designed to amend the Post and Telegraph Rates Act 1902-1941. It provides for a fairly general increase of postal charges. Those increases are necessary because of the increased costs of the Postmaster-General's Department and the need for the department to expand the services that it provides. The honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** was not unduly critical of the Postmaster-General's Department as an institution, and indeed he paid a well-deserved tribute to it, but he appears to be critical of the proposed increases of charges. I took a note of one or two of his major criticisms. One concerned the rather heavy increase of staff that has taken place in recent years. Honorable members generally are constantly clamoring for increased postal services in city and country areas. An increase of services entails an increase of staff. Therefore, the general consensus of opinion appears to be that the increases of staff are justified. That appears to me to answer one of the major criticisms that have been made by the honorable gentleman. Another of his criticisms related to the increase of the charges for services rendered by the Postmaster-General's Department in comparison with the general increase of prices that has occurred, and which is generally regarded as being due to the reversion to the States of the responsibility for prices control. What the honorable gentleman has failed to mention is that the general increase of prices which has occurred in recent years has been responsible for a heavy increase of the costs of the Postal Department. That is only common sense, and it is well-known to the public and to the House. It is pointless to discuss at the moment whether prices generally would have risen more or less than they have in fact risen had the responsibility for prices control remained with the Commonwealth, but it is true to say that the sharp increases of the prices of major lines of goods that has occurred in recent years has been one of the most potent factors in causing a deficiency in the accounts of the Postal Department and the increases of charges that are now 'proposed. Therefore, I believe that the honorable gentleman cannot substantiate the criticism that he has made in that regard. It is no answer to say that the Government can control the charges for services rendered by the Postal Department. If the department is to be run as a business enterprise, ito charges must reflect its increased costs caused by an increase of the prices of goods of all kinds, not only in Australia but also overseas. The honorable gentleman has said that letter deliveries in many areas are not warranted or wanted and ought to be discontinued. I believe that he is unique in that respect in this Parliament. I have never heard of a similar claim being made by any honorable member of this House. I have heard representations made for letter deliveries to be increased, because the delivery of letters is a service that is desired by the people and one which is their right. It cannot be denied that there is a great disparity between city and country areas, but I have yet to learn that any honorable member who represents a constituency in one of the more thickly populated areas of Australia has complained of an excess of letter deliveries. The complaints are usually the reverse of that. The honorable member for Barker has criticized the comparison of postal rates in Australia and other countries that has been made by the Minister. What the Minister has said is that postal charges in this country are lower than those in other countries. The populations of the countries to which he has referred are larger and of a greater density than the population of this country. The more dense a population, the less should be the cost per unit of postal services. Therefore, it must reflect great credit upon the Australian Postal Department if, despite the larger over-all size and greater density of the populations of other countries, it can provide postal services here at charges lower than those in such other countries. In considering the measure that is at present before the House, we must examine the nature of the postal organization in this country. It is a business organization. It is expected to provide services and to make charges that are sufficient to cover the cost of its operations and perhaps to return a profit to the Treasury. The question whether it should make a profit on all its services or an overall profit is one that can be argued'. For my part, I believe that the profit should be earned largely in the metropolitan areas and that some of that profit should be used to offset losses incurred by providing services in country districts. That is the general approach of the PostmasterGeneral's Department to the matter. The department, as a business organization, must necessarily operate at a profit, and it is surprising to hear honorable gentlemen opposite criticize that principle. I do not always subscribe to their view that every organization established by the Government should operate at a profit, because that is not always a good test of efficiency or of the value of the services that are rendered, but I believe that an organization such as the Postal Department should impose charges that will at least cover its current operation costs. It is surprising to hear honorable gentlemen opposite, who pin their faith, in season and out of season, to profit as the criterion of a successful enterprise, berating the Government for proposing to increase the charges for postal services in order to ensure that the Postal Department shall make a profit or, at least, that it shall not incur a loss. That is what they do on every occasion when they attack this decision of the Government. The Postal Department provides a special service for special individuals or organizations in this country, and those individuals and organizations ought to bear the cost of the provision of the special service. It does not matter whether the department makes a profit at the expense of city dwellers and gives concessions to country dwellers as long as, in the overall picture, a loss is not incurred that is passed on to citizens who are not users of the special service that is provided by the department. Honorable gentlemen opposite should support a measure which provides for the covering of the operating costs of the department, provided that the increased charges do not result .in the earning of an exorbitant profit which could be handed to the Treasury. In. his second-reading speech, the Minister has pointed out that during the war years maintenance work was necessarily deferred. That means that in the current rear and succeeding years a lag in maintenance must be overtaken. "With general prices increasing still further as time goes on, the operating costs of the department must be greater than they were. Those two factors render it necessary for the department to take one of three courses. The first is that the expansion of postal services that is desired should not be (proceeded with, or perhaps that some existing facilities should' he discontinued. The second course is that a heavy additional charge should be placed upon Consolidated Revenue, to be borne not only by the persons who use the services provided by the department, but also by the general community. The third course is that the charges for specially selected services provided by the Department should be increased by a reasonable degree. The third course is the one that has been chosen by the Government, and 1 do not think that the decision can be assailed. It has been claimed' that during recent years large profits have been made by the Postmaster-General's Department. Those profits have been earned in large measure by the surcharge upon postal fees. That was never intended to be a charge for facilities provided. It was a special war-time tax designed to produce war-time revenue and probably also to withdraw money from circulation in a community the purchasing power of which was in excess of the value of the goods and services that were available. It is proposed to make that surcharge a permanent charge, and that is not unreasonable. The increase of postal charges that is proposed will certainly not be out of step with the current increases of the costs of all other goods and services. The wages and salaries of the army of employees of the Postal Department are of paramount importance. The test that is applied by most (people in the community to governmental and private organizations is whether a profit accrues from their operations. Not only is that test used' in discussing organizations generally, but it is also a very strong argument in cases before the arbitration tribunals. If, at the hearing of a claim for increased wages or better amenities, the Postmaster-General's Department pointed out that it was incurring a heavy loss by the provision of its services, that would undoubtedly be an argument against an increase of wages or the provision of better amenities for the members of the staff of the department generally. It has been recognized in this Parliament and throughout the country for many years that the employees in all branches of the Postmaster-General's Department render loyal and efficient service, but that their wages do not compare favorably with the remuneration of employees in other branches of government activity and in private employment generally. Therefore, it is only fair and reasonable that the public who use those special facilities should pay some of the additional cost of the services that are granted to them in order that reasonable salaries may be paid to and proper amenities provided for the employees of the department. I now desire to refer briefly to conditions of employment in the PostmasterGeneral's Department. A short time ago, I accompanied the secretary of a postal employees' union on a visit to a number of centres in Western Australia, and I found that conditions in the post offices were crude in many cases and quite inadequate in all cases. An attempt should be made at an early date to improve the conditions of linemen and other employees of the department. It is true that the provision of such facilities would compete with, the requirements of other branches of industry, both government and private, which must provide facilities, and also with the requirements for hospitals and homes for the community, but the need for providing changing rooms and various amenities for the employees of the PostmasterGeneral's Department is no less vital in the interests of the efficient working of that industry and the health of the employees than is the provision of buildings and services for the community generally. That statement is applicable not only to post offices outside the metropolitan area of Perth but also to the General Post Office in Perth itself. That building, which was erected some years ago, does not provide sufficient facilities for the increasing staff. The situation is further complicated by the fact that other government departments use sections of the General Post Office building, and, consequently, proper accommodation for the staff and amenities is not available. The attention of the Postmaster-General has been directed to this matter, and I trust that the Minister who represents him in this chamber will bring to his notice again the situation in the General Post Office, Perth, and in other parts of the metropolitan area and more distant centres. The Minister's second-reading speech was comprehensive, and I shall not discuss it at length. However, I desire to refer to the proposal to increase telephone subscribers' rentals. The increase is not great, and will not have a severe affect on the community as a whole. It will be resented less than an increase of income tax would be for the purpose of meeting the deficits incurred by the PostmasterGeneral's Department. The Minister has also pointed out that it has been the policy of the Government to provide postal and telecommunication facilities in country districts at the lowest possible rates, and that public necessity and convenience rather than the financial aspects have been the determining factors. In the course of his lengthy speech, the Minister dealt with many details of the Postal Department. He pointed out that, in recent years, the department's earnings considerably exceeded its ex- penses, but that in the present financial year, it will incur a fairly substantial loss and that, unless rates for various service are increased, it will incur heavy losses in succeeding years. The Government cannot allow that position to continue and the Minister has clearly shown that only two remedial measures can be considered. The first is to make an increased payment to the PostmasterGeneral's Department from Consolidated Revenue, and the second is to increase the revenue derived from the activities of the department. The Government has decided that the second course is preferable to the first, and I support that view. Another important factor in the present administration of the department is the opportunity that has been given to it for forward planning. It is quite clear that such a vast organization cannot plan its development satisfactorily from year to year. The Government is to be commended for having formulated a programme for a number of years in order that the PostmasterGeneral and his staff may plan for an expanding service to meet the needs of the residents of the cities and the country districts generally. The honorable member for Barker might have been correct when he stated that the practice of forward planning for , the PostmasterGeneral's Department was introduced by a previous government. If that were so, it is regrettable that that practice was discontinued. However, it is not less laudable that the present Government has reintroduced the practice, if it formerly existed, or commenced that practice, rf it is a new departure in the procedure of the department. The Postal Department had a vast job to do in war-time, and it discharged its responsibilities magnificently. It still has a big job to do in the peace-time era. Because of the work that it performed during the war, the quality of the service that is given to-day is not so high as we had come to expect from the department. When I make that statement, I do not suggest that the service which the Postmaster-General's Department is now rendering is unsatisfactory. Over the years we have learned to expect a very high standard of service, and today, because that standard falls somewhat below the normally high standard, many of us are inclined to be critical. The explanation is to be found in the heavy load that the Postal Department bore during the war. The difficulties of the department have been accentuated by the problem of obtaining equipment from overseas. Telephones and other facilities cannot now be provided at the rate at which we desire them. In addition, the major demand for telephone services is a new one. The telephone is no longer a luxury, but a modern necessity. Because the country is to-day in a more prosperous condition than it was at any other period of its history, more people desire to have the benefits of this ordinary amenity, as it has become. That is why the telephone branch cannot keep pace with the increasing demands for instruments. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: -- To-night people would prefer to have coal. {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr BURKE: -- That is another story, ft is a sad story. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order 1 Coal is not mentioned in this bill, and has no relation to the PostmasterGeneral's Department. {: .speaker-JTF} ##### Mr BURKE: -- That is so. As the result of increasing charges for various services, the Postmaster-General and his officers will be able to plan forward with the knowledge that the earnings of the department will cover the expenses. The department will be able to provide, in the future, the high standard of service that we expect from it. I believe that the community in general will accept the proposals for increasing the charges as the best solution of the problem. The deficit that the department is incurring on its activities should be met by increasing the rates payable by those who use the services. The many thousands of people who do not receive those specialized services should not be called upon to share the cost of them. I support the bill, believing that it is necessary and desirable, and that the people of Australia approve of it. {: #subdebate-28-0-s4 .speaker-JLR} ##### Mr ADERMANN:
Maranoa -- The purpose of this bill is to increase the charges for services that are rendered by various branches of the PostmasterGeneral's Department. The honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Burke)** has expressed his opinions about the methods by which the Government should attack, the problem. Attack it the Government must, from one point or another. The figures which the Minister representing the Postmaster-General **(Mr. Calwell)** has supplied in his secondreading speech, reveal a drift in the finances of the department. In the tenyear period 1937-47, the department made a profit of £51,000,000, which was paid into Consolidated Revenue. The earnings of the department for the first eleven months of this financial year show an increase of £1,600,000 compared with the returns for the corresponding period in the previous year, but the increased earnings were swallowed up by extra expenses. It is expected that the deficit this year will be £3,500,000 and for next year £6,000,000. The bill proposes that the charges for various services shall be increased by from 50 per cent, to 100 per cent, in some respects. For example, the fee for registering a letter will be increased by 100 per cent, from 3d. to 6d. Postage rates on books and periodicals which are registered will be increased by 50 per cent. The base rate for ordinary telegrams sent between the two telegraph offices not more than fifteen miles apart, will be increased by 66$ per cent., and for other telegram charges by 50 per cent. Honorable members have not been informed about the proposed increases of charges for telephone services, because the new rates will be introduced by regulation. As I have shown, the department made a profit of £51,000,000 in the period 1937-47. It expended £46,300,000 on capital works, &c. The profits that it made were paid into and were used by the Treasury. The Postal Department has borrowed from the Treasury sums of money equivalent to its surpluses, and, for that privilege, it has paid interest. During the period 1937-47, interest payments to the Treasury amounted to £17,700,000, or an average of £1,800,000 a year. Any private business that is capable of repaying the total expenditure on capital assets in a period of ten years may be regarded as most profitable indeed. The over-all working expenses for 1947 amounted to £24,084,824. After providing for expenses and paying interest of approximately £1,500,000, the department showed a profit of £5,103,886, or 21 per cent. We have not been informed whether the losses for the first eleven months of this financial year occurred over the whole of the transactions or in only some branches of the department. The analysis for 1947 shows that the earnings of the telephone branch amounted to £13,800,000, and workingexpenses to £10,000,000 exclusive of interest, giving a gross profit of 38 per cent. The net profit, after allowing for working expenses and interest, was £2,500,000 or 25 per cent. The telegraph branch earned £3,200,000 and its working expenses were £3,000,000. Allowing for interest charges, that branch made a net profit of £148,000, or 5 per cent. The earnings of the postal branch amounted to £12,800,000 and working expenses to £9,800,000. After allowing for interest charges of £93,850, there was a surplus of £2,840,000. That represents a net profit of 28 per cent, from the telephone, telegraph and postal branches of the department. The wireless branch showed a loss of 5 per cent. The total deficit, including interest, in the wireless branch amounted to £418,000. In the previous year, it lost £148,900. The Minister should provide more particulars on all these matters. We should be told in which branches of the department losses occurred. All that the Minister has given us is a general statement. He has told us that the cost of materials has risen. So it has. He has told us that the 40-hour week is a factor in the increased cost of -administration of the department. There is a difference of opinion between the honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** and the Minister about the extra cost of the 40-hour week to the department. Many tributes have been paid to the Postal Department for the work that it does on behalf of other sections of the Australian Government's administration. Until recently, postal officers distributed petrol ration tickets. The Department of Social Services paid £200,000 to the Postal Department for services rendered on its behalf. I concede that it is a matter of Peter paying Paul in that one department pays another department out of the same pocket, but, in order to make the Postal Department's finances bear more resemblance to reality, all its services on behalf of other departments should be paid for. The figures show that the department earned £468,000 in 1947 for having handled meteorological telegrams. I do not know whether that is a just figure or not, but I have failed to find any record of a contribution to the revenue of the Postal Department in consideration of its having handled the distribution of petrol ration tickets. I agree with the honorable member for Perth that a proportion of the profits from the activities of the department in the cities should be used to provide services in rural areas. The department will provide telephone services in country districts only if it is satisfied that the revenue that it will earn therefrom warrants the provision of the services. Even if the extra revenue obtainable warrants increased hours of telephone service, it is difficult to obtain the extra labour necessary to provide the service. I do not know what allowance non-official postmasters receive now, but previously it was insufficient for them to meet the cost of providing week-end telephone services. The amount given to them for that purpose, which was only about £2, was not nearly sufficient. The result was that they had to work extra time themselves. That raises a point about automatic telephone exchanges. The Minister was ambiguous in his remarks about them. I do not know of any automatic exchanges that are being installed in the country districts of Queensland. A lot of money is being spent in the cities in the provision of automatic exchanges. I do not suggest for a minute that automatic exchanges should not be provided in the cities, but country districts ought to be considered too. The then PostmasterGeneral **(Senator Ashley)** visited Queensland during the war and said of the Dalby and Kingaroy post offices that their condition was so poor that their replacement was too urgent to await the end of the war. Yet, to-day, they stand as they were. The postal officers there are working in pens. Postal facilities in country districts are deteriorating. The workers cannot be blamed. The deterioration is largely due to lack of proper buildings and the department's inability to obtain labour. I take this opportunity to direct attention to rural mail services. I do not suggest that rural mail services produce revenue sufficient to meet their cost, but that should not weigh. Many mail services that were reduced during the war have not been restored. The Minister talks about our having a progressive government, but it has not shown progressiveness in respect of rural mail services. The Minister said that we had to be businesslike and accept one of three choices - reduction of expenditure by withdrawing or reducing postal services, which we all agree should not he done; the financing of the department's losses from the Consolidated Revenue or the imposition of increased charges. My view is that the deficit should be financed from Consolidated Revenue. The country-man is the man who will be most penalized by the additional charges. It is intended to abolish the concessional night rate on trunk-line telephone calls. Every one knows that the man who toils in the fields has no time to spare during the day to make trunk-line telephone calls. He conducts his business by telephone at night. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council **(Mr. Scully)** knows, many deals in sheep and cattle are made by night over the telephone. Primary producers generally have big bills to meet every year for the trunk-line telephone calls that they make. The abolition of the concessional night rate will heavily penalize the man in the backblocks. That is in effect, another attack upon the country citizenship. I say to the Minister quite seriously that since the Government intends to make the department pay for itself, even though it has accumulated an average of £5,000,000 surplus each year for a number of years, which went into Consolidated Revenue, the same Consolidated Revenue should bear the extra construction costs for the erection of telephone lines to connect subscribers who live at great distances from country exchanges. At present such a subscriber has to pay the entire construction cost except for £100. Because of increased construction costs that £100 does not constitute so big a proportion of the total cost as it formerly did. The construction allow ance of £100 should be at least doubled. If the Government will not do that it will, in effect, tax the country subscriber by way of the initial construction costs. I challenge the Government to meet the needs of the country in this matter. The Government cannot have it every way. It cannot expect the country subscriber to virtually provide his own service by paying the greater part of the cost of erection of a telephone line and then ask him to pay the full service charges as if he had not paid the construction cost in the first place. It is obvious that the policy of the Government is to make reductions of direct taxation whilst penalizing the taxpayers by means of indirect taxation. The Government cannot, in this instance, blame the defeat of the prices referendum for the fact that the costs of the Postal Department have risen. The Treasurer **(Mr. Chifley)** has said that on a revenue estimate he would have a surplus of £35,000,000 above his estimated expenditure this year. Allowing for the £21,000,000 that he was short of meeting expenditure out of revenue which he expected to meet by way of loan, he will still have a surplus out of which he could meet the extra capital charges of the Postal Department. Whilst we desire to facilitate the progress of the Postal Department and to see the restoration of services that we are not receiving to the full at present, I repeat that the extra charges should be met out of Consolidated Revenue. Why should the public be taxed indirectly at a rate that increases from year to year? Year by year, record revenues have been accumulating, but because there are small deficits in this department or that the Government mulcts the people in extra indirect taxes by way of the charges made by departments. Foi these reasons, and because I consider that the increases proposed under the bill are an extra tax which will hamper the people who produce our real wealth, I am opposed to the measure. {: #subdebate-28-0-s5 .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY:
Fremantle .- I do not suppose that , any realist would pretend to the country or himself that any bill to increase charges would meet with popular approval, and I do not propose to make that pretence. In the course of his speech, the honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** spoke of increases in the staff of the Postal Department. The figures that he gave were slightly different from those given by the honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Adermann).** It will be agreed that there was an increase from about 43,000 to 75,000 employees in the decade between 1938-39 and 1948-49. It is not of much use for members of the Opposition to comment on that increase of staff unless they are prepared to show that the increase is not justified by an increasing volume of work. In fact statistics, which, unfortunately, the Minister did not quote, show an enormous increase in the volume of work carried out by the Postal Department in the space of that same decade. I propose to quote these statistics for the sake of having them put on record. The number of postal articles handled by the department in 1938-39 was 1,086,000,000. In 1948-49, the comparative number was 1,350,000,000, which was an increase of 24 per cent, in the decade. The number of telegrams sent more than doubled in the decade. It increased from 16,600,000 in 1938-39 to 34,500,000 in 1948-49, the latter number being calculated on an eleven months actual basis with the twelfth month estimated. The 1948-49 figure represents an increase of 108 per cent. The number of telephone calls increased from 637,000,000 in 1938-39 to 989,000,000 in 1948-49, or an increase of 55 per cent., or, in absolute figures, of 362,000,000 telephone calls. The number of telephone subscribers increased from 651,000 to 1,014,000 or an increase of 66 per cent, in the decade, and the number of public telephones increased from 11,000 to 13,600 or an increase of 24 per cent. The financial turnover of the Postal Department has increased from £186,000,000 in 1938-39 to £400,000,000 in 1948-49. Quite clearly there has been a very vast increase in the amount of business handled by the Postal Department, and nobody in his senses would suggest that the staff which handled the work performed by the department in 1938-39 could handle the volume of work in 1948-49. It was inevitable that there should be a large increase in the number of employees, so I do not see that there is much merit in what the honorable member for Barker had to say about the increased number of employees in the department. I point out that the increased volume of work that I have quoted is purely the increased postal work of the Postal Department. The honorable member for Barker deplored the fact that many other duties had been imposed on the department. For instance, when the Menzies Government introduced child endowment, much *to its* credit, it imposed the duty of distributing child endowment payments on the Postal Department. The honorable member queried the use of the department for such purposes {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- I did not query it. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY: -- I apologize if I have misinterpreted the honorable gentleman. I do not see any alternative to using the Postal Department to do such work. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- Neither do I. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY: -- The Postal Department covers the length and breadth of the land, and is the one instrumentality that can be used everywhere. During the war it had the duty of carrying out a part of the Government's savings programme by way of the sale of war savings certificates. It has always carried out the duty of distributing pensions, and during the war it had various duties in connexion with rationing, including petrol rationing. The honorable member for Barker made great play on the point that the reduction of the working week from 44 hours to 40 hours had meant an increase of 11 per cent, in the cost of production. I query his arithmetic. The apparent increase is 9Vn per cent., but that increased percentage would not involve the same percentage increase of expenditure, because there are penalty rates of overtime to be considered. The honorable member twitted the Government, alleging that the increase of postal, telegraph and telephone rates would be an increase of prices, and he said that the Government could control these charges and need not make those increases of prices. I should like to hear the honorable member maintain that view when the Premier of South Australia, **Mr. Playford,** comes to Canberra and puts up a case for an increased reimbursement from taxation to his State, because of the increased costs of State government departments in South Australia caused by the increase of the basic wage. When the basic wage is increased there must be an increase of State government expenditure. By the same standards, there must be an increase of the cost of salaries and wages paid by the Postal Department arising from increases of the basic wage. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- The introduction of the 40-hour week was one of the main factors that caused the recent increase of the basic wage. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY: -- I dispute that. Wartime inflation was a much bigger factor in that increase than was the 40-hour week. {: .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr Archie Cameron: -- The Government's policy has caused' inflation. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY: -- The honorable member is trying to suggest that it is purely government policy that produces inflation in war-time. Every one knows, surely, that if hundreds of thousands of men are taken out of production and continue to be paid wages so that they can live, an inflationary situation will inevitably be created, because the volume of wages will have been increased without any commensurate increase in the volume of production. No government, whether socialist or anti-socialist, has been able to prevent inflation in war-time. The honorable member for Maranoa **(Mr. Adermann)** criticized' the increase of postal rates on the ground that they would constitute indirect taxes. I do not accept that argument. If I pay ls. 6d. for the despatch of a telegram from Canberra to Perth I do not call that expenditure taxation. It is nothing other than a reasonable charge for a service. If I buy a pound of peanuts from the honorable member for Maranoa he surely does not call the payment for the peanuts taxation, but regards it as a legitimate payment for goods supplied. If I pay somebody for the services that they perform for me by way of providing transport, the payment is not looked upon as taxation but as a payment for service. Unless it can be demonstrated that charges are utterly unreasonable it is futile to say that they constitute merely another means of indirect taxation. If the fact is that the Postal Department is actually running at a los3 - and the honorable member for Barker says that the Postal Department generally is efficient - then it means that the increased charges proposed to be made by the Postal Department are not taxation, but are charges imposed by an efficient department to cover its costs. If it did not increase charges to cover its costs it would not be an efficient department. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- Capital costs are causing this increase of rates. {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY: -- That was implicit in the argument by the honorable member for Maranoa, who contended that because in the past the profits of the Postal Department were paid into Consolidated Revenue, it is only fair that Consolidated Revenue should pay for any expected loss rather than that an increase of charges should be made. That argument would be 100 per cent, correct were it not for the fact that the Government has said that new postal works costing £30,000,000 will be paid for out of Consolidated Revenue. The Government merely asks that the current cost of running the department shall be met out of post office revenue. The Minister has informed us that 107 new postal buildings have been completed recently, and that a further 124 are under construction. These improvements havebeen long overdue. It is extraordinary to note how many post office buildings predate federation. The Commonwealth took over a stock of postal buildings established to serve the community of 1900 or earlier, and in many instances buildings erected nearly 60 years ago are still in use in towns and districts, the population of which have greatly increased. That is particularly true of Western Australia, where the population almost trebled in the decade between 1890 and 1900. The increased charges by the Postal Department have been criticized by the newspapers, although they have never questioned the right of private enterprise, faced with an increased basic "wage, to pass on the cost to the consuming public in the form of increased charges for goods and services. As a matter of fact, private enterprise has always done that. The newspapers should be the last to criticize, because they have increased advertising rates in such a spectacular fashion, in comparison with the proposed increases by the Postal Department, that' their charges now amount to sheer piracy. Criticism comes ill from the newspapers, which took such a prominent part in defeating the Government's price control proposals, seeing that they were themselves among the first to increase charges the moment Commonwealth price control was removed. The construction of new post offices throughout the country is urgent, but the Government will Iia ve some difficulty in reconciling such work with its urgent housing programme. During the last two years, 146,000 additional telephones have been installed. The length of cable in use has been increased by 240,000 miles, and 1,000 -new public telephones have been installed. The department has increased the number of trunk-line channels by 115,000; and the number of telegraph channels by 35,000. Many automatic telephone exchanges have been established. This programme of expansion will make it necessary to increase the staff still further. For the servicing of automatic telephone exchanges more technicians must be appointed, and this will increase costs because technicians are highly paid. One of the problems facing Australia to-day is the obsolescence of the transcontinental trunk-line service. As the result of technical improvements abroad, between 200 and 300 calls can be handled on the one set of trunk-line cables at the one time. Here, if one tries to put a call through .to Western Australia, one is often told that other people are on the line, and one must wait The sooner we oan replace the present system with one that will permit of multiple conversations over the same wire, the better. It would cost a lot of money to do that, but the service would be greatly improved. It is also desirable to instal multiple channels for the trans-continental telegraphic service. The department is faced with heavy expenditure for the manufacture and installation of new telephone exchange equipment. There should be a more positive policy for the replacement of party lines in country districts by individual channels. The Minister has explained that if existing charges remain unaltered there will be a loss of about £3,000,000, compared with a Pre. vious profit of about £4,000,000. The increased basic wage is responsible for an additional outlay of £7,500,000, which is more than sufficient to wipe out previous profits. It cannot be denied that charges should be sufficiently high to meet current expenditure. Therefore, the Government has no alternative but to increase charges. {: #subdebate-28-0-s6 .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON:
Wentworth -- The purpose of this bill is to increase by about £5,500,000, charges for services rendered by the Postal Department. The department expects a deficit of £3,500,000 for 1948-49, and estimates that, unless charges are increased, the deficit for 1949-50 would be £6,000,000. We know that previous governments, whenever they wanted more revenue, almost invariably increased postal charges, making a vague promise that charges would revert to the previous figure when conditions improved. Such promises were made with tongue in cheek, and this Government is following well-established procedure. Once the charges are increased, they will never be reduced. The people should understand that an additional £6,000,000 will be taken out of their pockets to meet an expected deficit, but that should the Postal Department, by some chance, show a surplus in the future, it will go into Consolidated Revenue, and postal charges will remain the same. During the last Supply debate, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Chifley)** tried to justify the increases by saying that services valued at about £12,000,000 a year were rendered by the Postal Department to other government departments. I do not understand the system of accountancy practised in the Postal Department, but I believe that the department should be paid for the services which it renders to other government departments and instrumentalities, such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission. When the Government controlled prices it would not, I am sure, have tolerated in a private firm the same system of accounting as that which the Postal Department follows in its relations with other government departments. The Government tried to obtain permanent control over prices, but the people decided otherwise. Since then, it has bitterly castigated State governments for their failure to keep down prices. When it was first proposed to introduce a 40-hour week, Government spokesmen said that it would not increase costs. How, the Government justifies the increase of postal charges, in some instances by 100 per cent., by asserting that they are due to the 40-hour week. It must bring a wry smile to the lips of the taxpayers when they remember that this Government, which claimed that it would be able to keep down prices if it had permanent power to control them, has not even been able to keep down prices in its own monopoly, the Postal Department. After my speech on the Supply Bill, I was taken to task outside the Parliament for referring to a certain lack of efficiency aud courtesy in the Postal Department. [ wish it to be clearly understood that I have the highest regard for officers of the department. One has only to fill the honoured position of Postmaster-General in order to have a wholesome regard for the work of officers of that department. When I speak of the loss of efficiency I speak in exactly the same terms as did the Minister when, in his second-reading speech, he said - >Then again, the deferment of maintenance works to enable the department to concentrate on war demands and the release of 8,000 employees for war service contributed greatly to the increased profits, but only at the cost of a reduction in the standard of service. Later, when dealing with the problem of meeting the heavy increased demands for facilities, the honorable gentleman said - >The standard of service had deteriorated seriously; facilities available were overloaded and the staff was far below the minimum requirements. I have said no more than that. If the standard of the service is lowered inefficiency must result. Such inefficiency may he a common trend not only in the Postal Department but also in the realm of private enterprise. We all agree that present-day standards of efficiency and courtesy are not what they were prior to the war. I conclude my observations on that aspect of the .matter by saying that this trend is recognized by the Postmaster-General. The PostmasterGeneral **(Senator Cameron)** in his second-reading speech on the introduction of this bill in the Senate said - >Although it is a national enterprise, the Postal Department is a business undertaking and as such it must pay its way. He added - >If this course was not followed, the people who use the various services provided by the Postal Department would gain at the expense of the ordinary taxpayer, and this benefit would increase according to the demands made upon the departmental facilities by individual users. The Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral in this chamber was much more cautious. He did not over-emphasize the view that the Postal Department must pay its way. These increases will he discriminatory in effect. In the final analysis they will be borne by the working community. Let us face up to that fact fairly and squarely. It cannot be gainsaid that in the ultimate analysis those who will have to provide the additional £6,000,000 for postal, telegraph and telephone services will be the working men of Australia. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- It will be provided by big business. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Let us analyse that interjection. It is true that in the main, our postal, telephone and telegraph services are used by big business. Big business has no choice in the matter. If a business man wants to expand his business and attract a larger clientele he must use these services, but as the Government operates a monopoly in this field not only must he use tho services provided by the Government, but also he must pay the charges imposed by the Government. He has no alternative. Therefore, it is true that big business will pay these increased charges. That will apply with greater force in some States than in others. Because South Australia and Western Australia have not the same industrial capacity as have the eastern States, business men in South Australia and Western Australia must carry out the greater part of their business transactions with the eastern States through the postal services. They must use the telegraph, the telephone, air mail services . and the ordinary mail services which are provided by the Postal Department. If a 50 per cent, increase be imposed in telegraph rates for messages sent beyond a distance of fifteen miles, that increase will affect not only individuals who desire to send telegrams to places more than fifteen miles away, but also business men in South Australia and Western Australia who conduct the bulk of their business with the eastern States. The proposed increases, therefore, will impose a very heavy burden on business interests in those two States. These increases will inevitably mean increases in production costs and' in the final analysis they will be borne by the consumer. The ordinary individual who is not engaged in business may please himself whether or not he will continue to use the services provided by the Postal Department. If he finds that telephone charges are too high he may cut down his telephone usage. He need not necessarily use any of the services provided by the Postal Department. As a consumer, however, he has no alternative but to pay for these increased charges in , added production or distribution costs. Unlike the business man, he is unable to pass on these additional charges to others. In their effect, the proposed increased charges will represent a form of indirect taxation. They must add to the cost of living and in the final analysis they will be met in the main by the workers, who will be called upon to subsidize the Postal Department for services which they directly use to a very little extent. Every shirt, every pair of socks and every pair of shoes that the worker buys, will carry some fractional portion of the increased charges which the Minister says will be borne by big business. The cost of these increased charges will be passed on to the consumers and will be reflected in almost every commodity which the working man must buy. The working man with a family who has to utilize the whole of his earnings in order to maintain his f amily will, in the main, subsidize these increased charges. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- The honorable member should be careful or big business will be putting him on the mat. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- If big business gets no better result from carpeting me than did the miners when they put the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** on the carpet, it will gain nothing. As I have shown, the cumu lative effect of these increased charges will be increased living costs which must inevitably be borne by the working men of Australia. I was interested to read the comments on this proposal which were made by **Mr. A.** E. Heath, president of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce. **Mr. Heath** is reported to have said - >The approval by Federal Cabinet of higher charges for postal, telephone, and telegraph services is another example of the belief popular in parliamentary circles that industry and commerce can absorb unlimited increases in costs. Of course, they cannot do so; they must pass it on. Therefore, not big business, but the working man will assimilate this additional impost. **Mr. Ashley** Buckingham, the president of the Retail Traders' Association of New South Wales said - >These increases are an impost on private enterprise. Although the proposed increases may not seem to be very large, they will turn into a very large increase in the annual bill which commerce must foot. One can understand why the average working man virtually ignores this impost as it appears to him to be infinitesimal. However, when he ultimately pays a total additional impost of approximately £6,000,000, which will be reflected in small increases of the cost of the commodities he purchases, he will realize that he is contributing a very large additional sum in indirect taxation. The Government is placing this burden, not on the business man, at whom to some degree it is aimed, but on the workers who are the largest purchasers of goods in the community. The Postal Department is a government monopoly. The socialist -always point to it as the supreme example of what socialization can do for the people. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- Does not the honorable member agree with that? {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- Although the department has been run as a monopoly and has made huge surpluses in the past the present socialist Government within a period of ten years becomes obliged, to increase departmental charges by approximately £6,000,000 in the aggregate. That is a serious indictment of this socialist Government monopoly, but that result is typical of government interference in industry. Under non-Labour governments this enterprise accumulated surpluses on its operations amounting to £51,000,000; but under the present socialist Government it is now showing a loss. It is worthy of note that the Postmaster-General has warned the workers of this country that they must not increase production or they will work themselves out of a job. This Government would not allow private enterprise to increase its charges for goods or services, merely because an undertaking was being run at a loss, but it resorts to that course to meet deficits in governmental undertakings. The Government would direct a private business concern which sought to use that means of meeting a deficit to recoup its losses from a surplus which might be held in respect of another phase of the undertaking, or it would say that private enterprise must reduce its production. It would not allow a private undertaking to increase its charges for goods, or services, merely because that undertaking was losing money. The Government invariably followed that practice when it exercised prices control during the war, but it is not applying that principle in its own undertaking. In this instance, it just walks across established principle. Otherwise, it would finance the Postal Department's deficits out of its surplus revenue collections and from the large amounts of taxation over and above its needs which it has collected from the people year after year and paid into trust funds so that the actual amount of those surplus collections cannot be ascertained. Why does it insist that private enterprise shall make each section of an undertaking pay its own way? If the Government followed that principle in relation to the Postal Department it would not need to place this additional indirect impost upon the people in order to finance its communications services. By its determination to finance the Postal Department in that way it is adding to the inflationary trends about which we hear so much from the Prime Minister, who claims that he is trying to avoid inflation. Perhaps it is not so surprising that the present Labour Government has decided to increase these communications charges instead of meeting the additional costs out of surplus collections of taxes. The Postmaster-General is noted for his opposition to higher production. In November last he said - >Workers have nothing to gain and every thing to lose by increasing production beyond what should be necessary to maintain themselves and their families. Of course, the Postmaster-General is a member of a government which is pledged to socialization and, therefore, is the enemy of private enterprise. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- Nonsense 1 {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I know that it is fashionable for Ministers and their supporters to say that private enterprise is flourishing under the present Government. It would appear that the Government is prepared to embrace private enterprise; but, at the same time, in its hand it conceals a dagger. It is not surprising that the Postmaster-General exhorts the workers to go slow because if they increase production they will work themselves out of a job. The Postal Department is not only our largest government undertaking; it is also the largest undertaking, government or private, in the Commonwealth. It is a matter for serious concern when such a large undertaking increases the charges for its services instead of meeting the additional cost out of surplus revenue. We might well ask if the same principle is to be applied to other government ventures, such as Trans-Australia Airlines which, I understand, will again show a loss on its operations for the current financial year. Will the losses of that and other government undertakings be met by an indirect tax on the working man? If so, having regard to the number and variety of expensive government socialistic ventures that this Government is operating, the people cannot expect any real taxation relief while it remains in office. The proposed rehabilitation programme for the. Postal Department services also calls for criticism. Whilst it is recognized that the backlog of services and maintenance occasioned under war conditions must be overtaken, that the increased demands for departmental services must be met and that the increased costs of production and higher wages must be provided for, one must inquire whether the Government's rehabilitation has been wisely evolved. For instance, although new buildings are desira!ble in any rehabilitation programme, could not their erection be (postponed in cases where additions would serve as well as new constructions, at least temporarily, and could not the new buildings be erected later so that their cost could be spread more evenly over a period, and posterity be called upon to bear some of the expense ? Why should we meet the whole expense of a vast rehabilitation and re-building programme from current revenue? Would it not .be more reasonable and just to provide that those who come later and will utilize the services should he called upon to bear some of the expense of their provision? Could not more money be expended from loan funds so that the full cost of the programme would not bear directly and immediately upon a hard-pressed community? I urge the Government to consider financing its departmental deficits from surplus revenue collections instead of from increased charges for services, when those charges will he an indirect impost upon the people. The Government should spread the cost of new works over a longer period in order to lessen the burden upon the shoulders of the people, and it should use a greater proportion of loan funds for the purpose of new works. If those things were done, the increased charges that are now proposed would not he necessary. When 1 was Postmaster-General, I investigated the charges that were made for telephone services in New Zealand. The New Zealand Government instituted what I considered to he au excellent scheme under which rent was charged for a telephone but no charge was made for telephone calls. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr Thompson: -- A charge was made for trunk calls. {: .speaker-KNX} ##### Mr HARRISON: -- I aim speaking of local calls. Under that system, there is hardly ever any argument about the accounts that are rendered to telephone users. A person pays the rental for a telephone and uses the instrument as much as he likes. Another advantage of the system is that the Postal Department knows almost to the pound what its annual revenue from its telephone services will he, apart from the revenue from trunk calls, and is therefore in a good position to balance its budget. I realize that in Australia there are certain obstacles in the way of the adoption of that system. One of them is the great distances between populated areas. I believe, however, that the system 'is worthy of close investigation. It has been suggested that the adoption of the system would impose a heavier burden upon the country people than upon the city people, but I believe that the difficulty could be overcome by a zoning scheme. I desire to leave the thought in the minds of those who have given some consideration to this matter that, irrespective of what increased charges are imposed by this great government monopoly for the services that it provides, they will inevitably be borne by the working man who purchases a commodity and finds that the increases are reflected in some small increase of the price of that commodity. {: #subdebate-28-0-s7 .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON:
Hindmarsh -- I thank the honorable member for Wentworth **(Mr. Harrison)** for his statement that when the charges for goods or services are increased it is the working man who has .to pay. Honorable members on this side of the House have argued for years that the man who does the work is the mau who pays for all increased charges. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- Farmers, too. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- The farmer is a working man. When the honorable member for Wimmera **(Mr. Turnbull)** was practising his profession, he was a working man, too. The only way in which to approach the consideration of the increased charges that are proposed under this bill is to ask whether, having regard to the increased costs of labour and materials, it is reasonable to ask the persons who receive the benefit of the services that are provided by the Postmaster-General's Department to pay more for them. That is all that we need to worry about. The honorable member for Wentworth has argued that the increased charges will constitute an indirect tax. Although he has repeatedly urged the Government to reduce indirect taxes, he now opposes the imposition of a direct charge upon the users of postal services. He has said in other debates that if people knew what they were paying in taxes, they would appreciate what it costs to run the country. Honorable members opposite have repeatedly told the House that, although the Government has tried to lead working men to believe that no income tax is chargeable upon the first few hundred pounds of their incomes, they are paying a lot of money in indirect taxes. Honorable gentlemen opposite have objected to indirect taxation. They have urged that it should be done away with and that the people should be taxed directly so that they will know precisely what they are paying. Now, when there is a measure before the House for the imposition of a direct charge upon the people in respect of services that they receive, they say that the Government should not impose that direct charge but should meet from revenue the losses that are incurred by the Postal Department. To do that would be to impose another indirect tax upon the community. The honorable member for "Wentworth has pointed out that the charge for a telegram of fourteen words to be delivered at an address over 15 miles away is ls. He has said that under these proposals the cost of telegrams will be increased by 50 per cent. I have received an ordinary telegram to-night consisting of 43 words. The cost of that telegram was ls. for the first fourteen words and 2s. 5d. for the remaining 29 words, making a total cost of 3s. 5d. Under these proposals, the cost of the first fourteen words would be ls. 6d., while the charge for the remaining 29 words would still be 2s. 5d., making a total cost of 3s. lid. The cost of the telegram would be increased, not by 50 per cent, but by approximately 1.5 per cent. The cost of a more lengthy telegram might be increased by only 5 per cent. The ordinary telegram that is sent by a member of the Parliament does not often consist of fourteen words or less. In fact, I would say that in the case of honorable gentlemen opposite 40 words would be a conservative estimate. The charge for an ordinary telegram consisting of 24 words is now ls. lOd. Under the proposed increases, it will cost 2s. 4d., or approximately 30 per cent. more. I mention those figures in order to demonstrate that the contention of honorable members opposite that the proposed increase for telegrams between offices over fifteen miles apart will amount to 50 per cent, is only half the story. Admittedly, the minimum charge for telegrams of fourteen words is to bpincreased by 50 per cent., but they forgot to mention that the rate for the excess words will not' be increased at all. That is typical of their exaggeration. Statistic* have been quoted by the honorable member for Barker **(Mr. Archie Cameron)** and other members of the Opposition which show that 1,014,000 telephones have been installed throughout Australia. The rental charged for telephones in Melbourne and Sydney is to he increased by 25s. a year, and in Adelaide and some other capitals by 22s. 6d. a year, but in the country rural areas the increase will be only 5s. a year, so that the general average will probably not amount to more than £1 for each subscriber. On 1,000,000 telephones the increase will total only approximately £1,000,000. I emphasize that at the moment I am dealing not with the rates for telephone calls but with the annual rental. Concerning the proposed increase of postal charges honorable members opposite did not mention the fact that ordinary members of the community, who send only two or three letters a week, will continue to pay only 21/2d. postage on each of their letters. The workers certainly do not send many telegrams a year. {: #subdebate-28-0-s8 .speaker-KOL} ##### Mr MCBRIDE: -- Has not the average worker a telephone? {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- If he has a telephone he must be prepared to pay the increased charge, because, like his wages, the cost of providing services has increased considerably. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that although honorable members opposite have complained of the proposed increase of postal and telephone charges, they have not uttered one word of protest against the substantial increase of shipping freights which has taken place. I do not contend that some increase of freight rates was not justified, but the point I make now is that members of the Opposition did not contend that the increase of shipping freights would adversely affect the whole community by increasing the price of goods. {: .speaker-009MC} ##### Mr Holt: -- I emphasized that fact. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- The honorable member for Fawkner **(Mr. Holt)** may have done so; but if he did, his attitude towards the increase of shipping freights is not typical of that of members of the Opposition generally. I was astounded to hear the honorable member for Wentworth allege that members and supporters of the Government argued that the administrative COStS of the Postal Department would not increase when the 40-hour week was introduced. I have not heard any responsible member of the Australian Labour party contend that a worker can himself do as much work in 40 hours as he can in 44 hours. The point that was made at the time, and which I now repeat, is that because of the application of mechanism to industrial processes, it is in most instances possible to produce as much in 40 hours as it was formerly in 44 hours. Of course, the fact remains that in such occupations as that of delivering letters it is not possible for employees to do as much work as they formerly did in 44 hours. The same comment might be made concerning telegraphists--- {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- What about the "blah " that was talked about ."industrial fatigue " ? {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- If the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** thinks that reference to " industrial fatigue " is merely " blah I suggest to him that he should operate a repetitive machine for hours on end, as so many workers have to do, and decide for himself whether there is such a condition as " industrial fatigue ". Reasonable men, who are not out to make industrial trouble, have told me of the great personal benefit that they have received from the introduction of the 40-hour week. To return to the Postal Department, I repeat that we cannot expect employees to perform the same amount of work in 40 hours as they formerly did in 44 hours. When an honorable member opposite referred to the effect of the increased postal charges on the transmission of newspapers, I interjected in order to mention the very considerable increase which has taken place in the cost of press advertisements. Newspapers, in common with all other industrial undertakings, have had to contend with substantially increased costs in recent years. At the same time, the production of newspapers has been greatly cheapened by the introduction of mechanical devices, which are now availed of to a degree which was not contemplated even a few years ago. Even reports of the proceedings of the Parliament are rattled over the teleprinters to the big newspaper offices in the capital cities hundreds of miles away. To-day newspapers are printed, not by hundreds but by thousands, a minute. Notwithstanding the considerable economies which have been effected by the introduction of machinery, the newspaper proprietors have increased their charges by as much as 200 per cent. Of course, they are not an exception, because all employers have found it necessary to increase charges in order to meet increased costs of production. Mention has been made in the course of this debate of telephone exchanges. In my electorate very serious difficulties have been encountered in the provision of telephonic communication because of the enormous expansion of industry which has taken place. When the present telephone exchanges were built some years ago, it was believed that they would adequately meet the needs of the district, including the extra demand which it was anticipated would be made on the service. Of course, no one could foresee that ordinary working people who, a few years ago, would not have contemplated installing a telephone, would now be clamouring for one. However, apart from the increased number of private subscribers, the establishment and expansion of big industrial undertakings has led to unprecedented demands on the telephone service. Some honorable members have advocated that rural manual exchanges should be converted as soon as possible to automatic exchanges; but I prefer that the existing manual exchanges should be retained and expanded until the present extraordinary demands for telephone facilities are fulfilled. I make that statement in all sincerity. {: .speaker-K2A} ##### Mr Rankin: -- That is not the policy of the Postmaster-General's Department. *Post and Telegraph* [28 June, 1949.] *Rates Bill* 1949. 1603 {: #subdebate-28-0-s9 .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- I realize that. The position in the country districts is difficult. Subscriberswho are connected with a small manual exchange are able to use their telephones only during certain hours. Naturally, the installation of an automatic exchange giving a 24-hourly service would be of inestimable benefit to them. I hope that automatic exchanges will be installed in country centres as quickly as possible, but I cannot overlook the urgent need to meet the demand for telephones in the large cities. A few weeks ago, I pointed out that some exservicemen in my electorate, who have invested their capital in small businesses, are losing opportunities because they cannot obtain telephones. Their disadvantages are obvious. They are unable to get in touch with clients, and clients are unable to get in touch with them. Frequently, their competitor is a man who was established in business during the war, and has a telephone. I feel their position most keenly, because they are losing ground. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral and his officers will carefully consider that position. Even a person who because of constant sickness in the home, requires a telephone, is unable to obtain an instrument, though he may have been granted a high priority. I make a special plea to-night on behalf of ex-servicemen, who should not be forgotten simply because the department desires to substitute automatic exchanges for manual exchanges in various country centres. During this debate, some honorable members have referred to the substantial surpluses that the PostmasterGeneral's Department earned in the tenyear period 1937-47. However, the demand for additional post offices and facilities is increasing. Many honorable members have probably received representations from local governing authorities, school committees and a hundred and one semi-public bodies for the provision of additional postal facilities in their electorates. The erection of post offices is expensive, and expanded services necessitate the employment of extra staff, thus increasing the expenses of the department. As honorable members frequently urge the Postmaster-General and his officers to accede to those representa tions for additional facilities, they should not object to reasonable charges for those services. No honorable member has said, at least in my hearing, that the proposed increases are excessive or unreasonable. Speakers in this debate have merely stated that for many years, the profits that the department has made have been paid into Consolidated Revenue. Some honorable members have said that the losses which the Postal Department is incurring should now be met from Consolidated Revenue. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- Those honorable members do not say for how long the losses should be met from Consolidated Revenue. {: .speaker-KVT} ##### Mr THOMPSON: -- I agree with honorable members opposite when they say that if the Postal Department performs work for another department, it should be credited with the value of that service. The existing rates for telegraph and telephone services were fixed long before this Government came into office. If those charges were fair and reasonable at a time when the cost of labour and materials was considerably lower than it is to-day, honorable members opposite must admit that the proposed new charges are not excessive on the basis of the existing costs of labour and materials. Indeed, the amount of the proposed increases appears to indicate that the department has improved its technical work and administration; otherwise the increases would need to be greater.I regret the need to increase charges, but I believe that a reasonable price should be paid for any services, whether they are rendered by the government or by private enterprise. Debate (on motion by **Mr. Anthony)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1603 {:#debate-29} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE {: .page-start } page 1603 {:#debate-30} ### SENATE The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: - {:#subdebate-30-0} #### International Wheat Agreement Bill 1949. War Service Homes Bill 1949 {: .page-start } page 1603 {:#debate-31} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-31-0} #### Wheat Motion (by **Mr.** Calwell) proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-31-0-s0 .speaker-KGC} ##### Mr HAMILTON:
Swan .- On Thursday, the 9th June, while we were 1604: *Adjournment.* [REPRESENTATIVES.] *Adjournment.* debating the Supply Bill (No. 1) 1949-50 and while the proposed vote for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture was being considered, mention was made of the wheat deal with the United Kingdom. {: #subdebate-31-0-s1 .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Clark: -- Order! The honorable member is not entitled to refer to a debate that has already taken place during this session. {: .speaker-KGC} ##### Mr HAMILTON: -- I desire to take this opportunity to correct a misstatement that was made about the appointment of **Mr. Teasdale,** and also another statement deprecating the action of the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia- {: #subdebate-31-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable member is entitled to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the House, but he is not entitled to reply to a statement that was made during the debate on a bill that has been passed. {: .speaker-KGC} ##### Mr HAMILTON: -- I desire to correct a misstatement by the Minister for Work and Housing **(Mr. Lemmon),** and this is the first opportunity that I have had to do so. The Minister, who was replying to a statement by the honorable member for Indi **(Mr. McEwen)** about the wheat deal with the United Kingdom, said - >The honorable member for Indi said that the Minister for Commerce and Agricultur. had criticized the chosen representative of the wheat-growers. I wrote down the words, "chosen representative", and I hope I am not misquoting the honorable member. If so, I am open to correction. It is untrue to say that **Mr. Teasdale** is the " chosen representa tive " of the wheat-growers. Let me tell honorable members how **Mr. Teasdale** got on the board. Those were the words of the Minister tor Works and Housing. He went on further to say - >The Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia asked the Wheat Section of the newly formed Farmers Union to submit to him a panel of six names from which he or the Government would select a representative to sit on the Board. I remind the House that the Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia is not a member of this chamber, and has bad no opportunity to refute the statement of the Minister for Works and Housing. I propose, therefore, to do it for him. The Minister for Works and Housing continued- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! I have given the honorable member every opportunity to make a statement. He is now replying to something that was said in the course of an earlier debate in the current session of the Parliament. The Standing Orders do not permit that. The honorable member may not revive a previous debate. {: .speaker-KGC} ##### Mr HAMILTON: -- I am only quoting this statement before I disclose the information that is in my possession. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order ! The Chair has ruled that the honorable member is out of order. {: .speaker-KGC} ##### Mr HAMILTON: -- May I lay on the table of this chamber, so that it may be recorded in *Hansard,* a letter from the State Minister for Agriculture in Western Australia to the honorable member for Indi? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- No. A private member cannot do that. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 1604 {:#debate-32} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented : - >Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1949 - No. 46 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers' Association. > >Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - > >Defence purposes - > >Meckatharra East, Western Australia. > >Noonkanbah, Western Australia. > >Department of Civil Aviation purposes - > >Nyngan, New South Wales. > >Postal purposes - > >Brisbane, Queensland. > >Hall's Creek, Western Australia. > >North Brighton, Victoria. > >Temora, New South Wales. > >Victoria Point, Queensland. > >House adjourned at 11.7 p.m. {: .page-start } page 1604 {:#debate-33} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated: -* {:#subdebate-33-0} #### Tobacco {: #subdebate-33-0-s0 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What is the estimated annual quantity of tobacco grownin Australia at present? 1. By what amount does it fall short of annual requirements? 2. Which countries export tobacco to Australia?. 3. Is it a fact, according to the published comments by the special agronomist of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, **Mr. W.** M. Curtis, that Austraiian production of tobacco can be increased to 15,000,000 lb. of leaf annually? 4. Is it desirable that Australian production of tobacco should bc stepped up ? 5. If so, what steps is the Government taking to assist the expansion of the Australian tobacco-growing industry? {: #subdebate-33-0-s1 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Production from the 1048-40 crop is estimated at 4,000,000 lb. 1. 28.000,000 lb. 2. United States of America, Southern Rhodesia, South-West Africa, Brazil, Cuba, Netherlands Indies, Philippines. 3. Tobacco-growing does not appear to be a very attractive occupation to the average producer, and, although there is a known potential for increased production in Australia, a number of problems which are at present receiving attention under the research programme of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will hare to be solved before any very great expansion in the production of tobacco leaf in Australia can be regarded as essentially a sound proposition. Within the limits of available staff and facilities, the State governments concerned are pursuing the sound policy of endeavouring to overcome known problems before entering into new areas for commercial production. The State organizations concerned are expanding their technical services as opportunity offers. 4. Yes, provided leaf of acceptable type and quality is produced. 5. The expansion of the Australian tobaccogrowing industry is primarily a matter for the States, but the Commonwealth Government iB actively assisting in the development of the industry. The Commonwealth has provided an annual grant of £10,000 for a period of five years on a £l-to-£l basis, which is allocated amongst the producing States of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, for experimental and demonstration work in connexion with tobaccoleaf production. In addition, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is actively engaged in research work on tobacco problems. Particular matters under attention at present are irrigation requirements and the development of suitable varieties, in co-operation with the Queensland State Department of Agriculture; the investigation of diseases, particularly in Victoria; and the examination of the chemical nature of tobacco with a view to the improvement of -quality. In co-operation with the Queensland Government, the Commonwealth Government has made arrangements to settle up to 120 soldier-settlers in the Burdekin area in Queensland on farms of about 40 acres from each of which an annual yield of 10,000 lb. of good quality leaf may be expected, totalling 1,200,000 lb. Some of these farms will be planted during the coming season and the remainder within a few years. In addition, arrangements have been made with the Western Australian Government for the settling of 30 soldier-settlers in that State. {:#subdebate-33-1} #### Capital Investment Corporation Limited {: #subdebate-33-1-s0 .speaker-KZJ} ##### Mr LANG:
REID, NEW SOUTH WALES · LANG LAB; ALP (N-C) from 1948 s asked the Attorney-General, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is a firm called Capital Investment Corporation Limited registered in Canberra; if so, who are the directors and subscribers of the firm? 1. Did the company obtain permission from Capital Issues control for its flotation? {: #subdebate-33-1-s1 .speaker-DTN} ##### Dr Evatt:
ALP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Capital Investment Corporation Limited was registered as a company in Canberra on the 14th July, 1937, with a nominal capital of £500,000 of £1 each. The directors, ob at 15th April, 1948, were Norm. V. Stewart and W. L. MacKenzie and the secretary, M. Guy Smith. The names of the other directors (if any) have not been filed in the Companies Registry, Canberra. The subscribers to the memorandum and articles of association were - Francis Edward Emmett Brooks, solicitor, 39 Hunterstreet, Sydney; Eleanor Scott, secretary, 33 Hunter-street, Sydney; Lorna Clark, secretary, 33 Hunter-street, Sydney; Ernest Arthur Hurdis clerk, 33 Hunter-street, Sydney; Dorothea Peters, clerk, 33 Hunter-street, Sydney; William Hastings Russell Campbell, articled clerk, 33 Hunter-street, Sydney; John Anderson, clerk, 33-39 Hunter-street, Sydney - One share each. Witness to signatures - Dorothy Muller, clerk', 33 Hunter-street, Sydney. 1. There was no Capital Issues control when the company was incorporated. Early last year the company passed a special resolution subdividing the capital of the company of 500,000 shares of £1 into 2,000,000 shares of 5s.. It was not necessary to obtain the approval of the Treasurer under the Capital Issues Regulations to this subdivision of £1 shares into 5s. shares. Sugar {: #subdebate-33-1-s2 .speaker-JWT} ##### Mr Francis: s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Is it a fact that Queensland sugargrowers are seeking a new federal inquiry into production costs? 1. Has the industry also asked for a rise in the price of sugar? 2. What information has the Government of any increase in the production cost of sugar since the last federal inquiry which was held in 1947? 1606 *Answers to Questions.* [SENATE.] *SS. Levenpool.* 3. If no information has reached the Government on this matter, will he order an investigation into the claims of growers that, since 1947, production costs had risen more than in the period between 1933 and 1947, when the price remained at 4d. per lb.? {: #subdebate-33-1-s3 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard:
ALP -- The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. No request has as yet been received by the Commonwealth Government. 1. No application has been received for an increase in the price of sugar. 2. As no special investigationhas since been made into this matter the Government has no complete information. 3. The question will be considered on receipt of representations from the industry. " Ten Years ofWar and Peace ". Mr.White asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Was the publication by the Honorable E. J. Holloway, entitled *Ten Years of War and Peace* - a New Year's statement issued by the Minister, published at taxpayers' expense? 1. What was the cost for paper and publication! 2. Why does the publication bear the Commonwealth coat of arms and no imprint of the printer? 3. Is it an offence to issue publications of this kind without bearingthe name of the printer? {: #subdebate-33-1-s4 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr HOLLOWAY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA · FLP; ALP from 1936 y. - The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The cost of publication was charged to my department, as the publication was intended to further the policies in relation to industrial matters, employment, and production that my department is administering under my direction. 1. £61 10s. 2. See answer to No. 1. 3. No.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 June 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.