19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) Cameron) took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Health about the present epidemic of poliomyelitis. We all realize that it is primarily a matter for State health authorities, but I should like to know whether the Department of Health has done, or is able to do, anything to help. Seeing that the epidemic is so wide-spread, and shows no signs of abating, can the Minister make a statement on the subject now or in the near future ?
– The Department of Health has engaged a research scientist to study poliomyelitis. Unfortunately, the cause of the disease, and the manner in which it spreads, are not known. At the present time, the States are doing a very good job in their efforts to control the disease. I have informed the State Ministers of Health that if they believe that the constitution of a federal council of Ministers of Health would be of value, I am willing to call the Ministers together to consider the matter. So far, only the Tasmanian Minister has accepted the proposal.
– In view of the fact that the Dundas report on taxation in the northern areas of Western Australia is of vital interest to the people of Western Australia, _ will the Treasurer release the report at an early date?
– The investigation was instituted at the direction of the former Treasurer, who refused to disclose the contents of the report, on the ground that it was a confidential document for his- information and not for publication, an attitude with which I heartily agree. However, the previous Treasurer offered to make the contents of the report known to the State Premiers concerned,
– During the last few years, there has been a ban on the sale of rice within Australia, except to certain small groups of people with special claims to be supplied with it. Does the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture intend to maintain the ban? If not, does he believe that the reason for which the ban was imposed, which was to make Australian rice available for the feeding of people in the Pacific islands and in southeast Asia, no longer exists?
– I have given some consideration to the withholding of rice from general consumption in Australia. At present, the rice that we produce is made available to Asiatics resident in Australia, to sick persons who obtain permits, to people in similar categories in New Zealand, to our own people in New
Guinea and Papua, and t> the people in: the phosphate islands, as well as to thosein a limited number of the adjoining Pacific islands. The rice left over after these needs have been satisfied has, up tothe present, been sent to communities in. the Far East within British Empirecountries.
– Principally to Malaya.
– Yes, as the righthonorable member for Barton has said, principally to Malaya. It appears still to be necessary to divert the surplus tothat quarter. The matter is being kept under continuous review.
Tenth Anniversary of Arrival in Australia.
– Is the Minister forInformation aware of the proposal that American ex-servicemen should mark thetenth anniversary of their landing in Australia by a visit to this country? If so, what action is the Department of Information taking in this regard in New York, not only to help with publicity - but also in every other possible way?
– I am aware of theproposal that American ex-servicemen should come to Australia in largenumbers to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their landing in this country. My department in New York is assisting in the matter of publicity. I am not aware of any other assistance it isgiving, or could give, except, in that vehicle. We are prepared to encourageAmerican ex-servicemen to come herebecause we think that it would be good’ for Australia that as many of them aspossible should visit these shores. I am sure that their visit will bo very well’ received by many thousands of Australians of both sexes who have happy recollections of their stay in Australia-, during the war.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform me of thefrequency that is provided for in theagreement recently made between theGovernments of Australia and Ceylon, for the establishment of an air- service between the two countries? For what period has the agreement been made, and to what degree does it differ from that which was ready for signature when the Minister for Civil Aviation took over his portfolio. Will the Minister lay on the table a copy of the agreement and any schedules thereto, or will he otherwise make available a copy of that agreement for perusal by honorable members?
– The negotiations between the former Australian Government and the Government of Ceylon continued for approximately two years. An agreement was signed within two weeks by this Government. I shall be glad to lay on the table a copy of the agreement and the schedules attached thereto. I point out to the honorable member that the agreement differs from the one about which he is thinking in that greater frequency of service is now provided for.
– Has the Minister for Transport received an application from the New South Wales Local Government Association, or any other local governing bodies, for a greater share of the petrol tax for road maintenance purposes? If so, is the honorable gentleman in a position to indicate what the Government intends to do in respect of this request?
– I have received a deputation from the New South Wales Local Government Association and I have also had many letters from local governing bodies on this subject. At present the Commonwealth, provides approximately £5,500,000 a year, for main road purposes, and approximately £3,000,000 a year for roads under the control of local governing authorities. The proceeds of these grants are distributed by the State authorities concerned, in terms of the Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Act. The local governing authorities have asked for a greater allocation of the petrol tax. They, like every other body, want more from the Commonwealth. There seems to be an Oliver Twist quality about them. As to how much more can be given, and the circumstances under which it can be given, I can only say that that is a matter of Government policy. The Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Act expires on the 30th June next. The future form and content of that legislation is now under consideration. The representations which have been made will be taken into account, and the State authorities will be consulted before any decision is ‘reached.
– My question is based on the fact that local government bodies are at the end of their financial resources for the building of feeder roads. Two coal mines in the Burragorang Valley are producing 1,000 tons of coal per day each for the Bunnerong and Balmain power houses. For two days they have been prevented from despatching coal over a very precipitous road extending for 20 miles. The Wollondilly Shire Council has stated that it has completely exhausted its resources, and the municipality of Camden proposes to halt heavy traffic on certain of its roads. In urgent cases like this, will the Minister for Supply and Development confer with the Minister for Transport to ascertain whether funds can be made available to alleviate the financial stringency caused by the previous Government?
– While having every possible sympathy with the case put forward by the honorable member, particularly in view of the loss of coal, I must say that the matter in present circumstances is one entirely for the Government of New South Wales. Pending the creation of the Ministry of Development, I do not think that the Australian Government would have any status in the matter at all. However, I would expect the Government of New South Wales to be sympathetic, and a good deal concerned, in the light of what the honorable member has said.
– My question to the Postmaster-General refers to the representations which I and other honorable members of the Australian Country party have submitted on various occasions during the last two years to the effect that the amount of departmental expenditure in establishing new country telephone services should be increased from the present figure of £100 per subscriber to £200. It will be remembered that those representations were not successful. “Will the Postmaster-General now undertake to give favorable consideration to my proposal, so that country areas which urgently need telephone services may obtain them without the present excessive costs to subscribers?
– I realize the necessity for increasing the present allowance of £100 per subscriber. That figure was fixed a considerable time ago, and, of course, money does not go so far to-day as it did at that time. Therefore, if the same length of line is to be conceded to & country subscriber, an increased amount must be provided by the Government. The exact amount has not yet been determined, but very sympathetic consideration is being given to the matter.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral consider reducing rental charges for party line telephones serving two parties? If an existing subscriber agrees to share his service the rent is reduced by only 10s. per annum and the party with whom the line is shared likewise receives a rent reduction of only 10s. per annum. Consequently, if a line is shared, the PostmasterGeneral receives £12 15s., and if it is not shared the rent remains at £6 17s. 6d. I think a reduction of, say, £2 per annum for party lines might induce people to help in overcoming the difficulties that exist owing to the shortage in the supply of telephones by sharing their lines with other people.
– I do not think that any incentive is required to induce people to install telephones to-day. About 120,000 applications are outstanding. In relation to the sharing of a line it must be remembered that the manufacture of the cable and the construction of the line are only part of the service required. The rest of it includes the telephone, the switchboard and the central office. I do not see any prospect of reducing the charge for party lines.
– In view of the difficulty of arranging for the operation of unofficial post offices in country areas and the limited hours of service available to telephone subscribers in districts served by those offices, will the PostmasterGeneral consider connecting such telephone subscribers to the nearest continuously operated exchanges or, alternatively, providing for a more general installation of automatic exchanges?
– The solution of the problem appears to be the installation of additional rural automatic exchanges, and that is one of the projects that I am trying to expedite as much as possible. The provision of such exchanges, of course, depends upon the availability of equipment. I have recently signed orders and contracts for the manufacture in Australia of about £2,000,000 worth of equipment, and I hope that the number of rural automatic exchanges will be increased as the new equipment is delivered.
– The Postal Department attributes the delay in the installation of telephones in the Brisbane area to the scarcity of underground cable. Can the Postmaster-General say when the department expects to obtain delivery of that consignment of underground cable which is supposed to be overdue?
– I do not know of any overdue consignment of underground cable. Queensland is better off in the matter of telephone installations than some of the other States because delays in Queensland have not been so great. However, if there has been a delay in the delivery of underground cable I shall look into the matter, and see if its delivery can be expedited.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Navy been directed to an announcement by the United States Navy Department to the effect that a joint Anglo-American manoeuvre will be held in the Pacific this month ? Can the Minister inform the House whether Australian naval forces have been invited to participate in that manoeuvre?
– There has been some preliminary examination of the matter, and some communications have been addressed to me verbally relative to it, but a decision has not yet been made.
– Because of language difficulties, it is the practice of new Australians to approach their ministers of religion when they are in trouble. Will the Minister for Immigration give special consideration to applications from ministers of religion who wish to come to Australia?
– I assure the honorable member that the Government works in the closest co-operation with the church authorities in the matter to which he has referred. There is an inter-church committee which examines problems of this kind. As the result of arrangements which were made by the previous Government, and which we have continued, chaplains are now authorized to travel on ships that are bringing migrants from Great Britain and Europe to Australia. Those chaplains are able to give counsel and advice to migrants and to conduct religious services for them. I do not know whether my answer is a complete reply to the question that the honorable member has asked, but I assure him that the matter is actively taken up with the church authorities concerned. .
– In view of the promises made during the election campaign by the Liberal party and the Australian Country party that, if returned to office, they would do everything possible to relieve the burdens of the housewife, will the Treasurer provide the money that is necessary to enable municipal councils to establish and maintain home help and housekeeper services for mothers when they are ill ? By way of explanation, I point out that municipal councils in Melbourne provide services whereby trained housekeepers look after the children of mothers who are in hospital. The scheme is financed on the basis of ability to pay, so that it is not self-supporting. If the scheme is to be continued, the Commonwealth must grant financial assistance to the municipalities. I should like to know whether the Government is prepared to enable this worthwhile service to the mothers of our community to continue.
– The matters which have been raised by the honorable member will be investigated.
– Will the Minister for Immigration state whether there is a considerable shortage of experienced coalminers throughout Australia? If that is a fact, will the Minister say whether any overtures have been made to him or to his department with the object of bringing experienced British mine workers to this country? If such representations have not been made, will consideration be given to the making of overtures in Great Britain in order to arrange for the bringing of British coal-miners to Australia in .preference to other miners who cannot speak the English language, provided that this can be done without unduly depleting the number of miners in the British coal industry?
– I am aware that there is a shortage of labour for coal mines in Australia and that coal is very seriously needed. I am not aware that representations have been made by any section of the industry to urge the Government to bring British coal-miners to this .country as migrants. The honorable member wil1 be aware that, this year, the Government has embarked upon a policy, for the first, time, of selecting British migrants who are to come to Australia outside of the ordinary nomination scheme. Provided we are able to do this without seriously cutting into the labour resources of the United Kingdom Government, we shall endeavour to bring coal-miners to this country from -the United Kingdom. I appreciate that, having regard to necessary safety measures, it is not practicable to put migrants from Europe into the coal mines until they have mastered the English language. Consequently, until we can get men who have a sufficient knowledge of English, we shall certainly do what else we can to supplement the labour force in the coal-mining industry.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Supply and Development concerning the Oaklands coal-field near Corowa, which is the only coal-field in the Murray “Valley area.
Will the Minister inform the House what plans he has for the development of that region ?
– I appreciate the honorable member’s interest in that most important coal area in the Riverina. The Bureau of Mineral Resources has recently completed two geophysical surveys of the area which appear to indicate the existence, over an area of about 50 square miles, of coal deposits varying in depth below the surface from 200 feet to 1,200 feet and probably averaging about 30 feet in thickness. However, those estimates must be checked by drilling. Both the geophysical surveys and the drilling operations have been undertaken by the Bureau of Mineral Resources at the instance of and in collaboration with the Government of New South Wales. The area is a most interesting one from a developmental point of view, and those who know most about it have great hopes that it will prove to be a valuable coal asset upon which the nation can draw in the future. Leases are not being granted in the area at present. As the district lies within New South Wales, the allocation of leases is entirely under the control of that State. No doubt it will make arrangements for the exploitation of the field as soon as the surveys have proved it.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is a fact that a large number of retired mine-workers residing on the South Coast of New South Wales are living out the last days of their lives in homes that are unfit for human beings. The majority of the miners on a pension are suffering from dust om the lungs caused by working many years in the industry, and no attempt has been made to provide homes for them. Will the Minister take this matter up with the Joint Coal Board, which is doing a magnificent job in providing amenities in mining centres, so that it might help men who have given their lives to the industry to enjoy some of the advantages of life at the end of their days?
– The Government is very sympathetic towards this problem of dusted lungs and yesterday it formally opened a conference of world experts in pneumoconiosis under the auspices of the
International Labour Organization. I regret to learn that the miners to whom the honorable member-has referred are living in houses which are considered to be unsatisfactory, and I hope that while he was a member of the Parliament of New South Wales he showed the same interest and activity in pressing for some remedial action similar to that which be hopes will occur through his intervention of this House. I shall consider the matters that he has brought to my notice to see whether there are any points that I might suitably bring to thenotice of the Joint Coal Board.
– Has the Prime Minister’s attention been drawn to a recent newspaper report that a Japanese citizen was actively campaigning for international recognition of Japan’s right to> occupy a slice of Antarctic territory, alleged to have been discovered by a Japanese explorer in 1911? Will the Prime Minister comment on this report?
– I have not seen the news item referred to, but I shall make it a point to read it and shall discusswith the Minister for External Affairs anything that may arise from the report.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Supply and Development concerning the Commonwealth industrial undertaking at St. Mary’s, New South Wales, known locally as “ TheArea “. Is the Minister aware that the lessees of Commonwealth buildings there” a.re uneasy concerning the security of their tenancies and fear that, in certain circumstances, the Government may repossess the building’s that have been leased to them? As this uncertainty is affecting production and restrainingmanufacturers from adopting policies of expansion in their industries, will the Minister consider the desirability of selling the buildings and real estate to the tenants with the object of establishingan air of permanency and security in the area?
– I realize that the honorable member is keenly interested in the- industrial area at St. Mary’s, which is located about 30 miles west of Sydney in the electorate that he represents. I realize also that the conditions of occupancy by private enterprise of the former explosive factory buildings include a provision for re-occupation by the Commonwealth in time of war. However, the Government has no intention of re-oocupying the buildings under present conditions, and I assure the honorable member that the tenure of the present occupants is secure. This Government, in conjunction with the Government of New South Wales, is preparing a scheme to develop the area and the surrounding district with the object of making it a permanent industrial region. The possibility of the sale of the premises is actually under consideration now, and I hope that the proposal will be consummated. The honorable member can confidently assure the occupants of the buildings that they run no risk, in present circumstances or even, I believe, in future circumstances,of having the properties resumed by the Government.
– -Has the attention of the Minister for External Affairs been directed to a Tokyo report of last week which stated that General MacArthur may allow Japan to take part in a talk on an international level, provided that other nations concerned do not object. In view of Japan’s strategic and industrial importance in the Pacific, particularly in relation to the British Commonwealth of Nations, will the Minister ascertain from General MacArthur the exact nature of the proposed talk and whether Australia will be invited to participate in it.
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is “Yes”. As to the second part of it, inquiries will presently be made.
– Many persons were in receipt of free medicine prior to the present Government taking office. I ask the Minister for Health whether persons who were receiving free medicine are still doing so on the prescriptions of doctors who are prepared to prescribe? I also ask what action the Government is taking to implement the free medical service and health scheme which it has advocated and when it proposes to put such schemes into operation.
– The Government is actively discussing the whole matter with all the interested parties. I can assure the honorable member that it will produce, in a much shorter time than the last Government did, a complete scheme to cover the Commonwealth. The provision of free medicine will be continued under existing legislation until our policy has been announced and legislation thereon has been passed.
– Can the Minister for Health say whether funds are still being made available to State divisions of the National Fitness Council? If so, will he ascertain whether any part of those funds is being made available to State branches of the Eureka League, a Communist auxiliary, or any of its subsidiary bodies? If so, what action does he intend to take about it?
– Funds made available for promoting national fitness are being disbursed in accordance with the plan laid down by the previous government. If I find, as a result of inquiries, that money is being used for the purpose mentioned, action will be taken.
– Can the Minister for Health say what his department is doing to make more beds available in hospitals throughout Australia, seeing that the need for accommodation is so urgent ?
– All the beds under the direct control of the Department of Health are in full use. I remind the honorable member of a statement in the Governor-General’s Speech that it is proposed to take this matter up with the State governments later in the year.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that there is at present a hold-up of shipping in all Queensland ports? Can he say whether a major stoppage is likely to occur?
Mi-. HOLT. - I do not think it is correct to say that there is a stoppage in all Queensland ports. There is, I am advised, a stoppage in Brisbane, arising out of a dispute about rotating hatches. The matter was to become an issue a few days ago, but as heavy rams fell during the last two days, and no work was done at the port on that account, the dispute did not progress. To-day, the men refused to resume work on certain conditions, and I understand that the matter was to be discussed before Judge Kirby at 2.30 o’clock this afternoon. In the circumstances, there is nothing further I can say, except that the matter will be kept under review.
– Is the Minister for Information aware that the provisions of the 1940 legislation against the importation of syndicated artistic features are being circumvented by bringing in one copy of a 16-mm, reproduction of comic strips, which are reproduced in Australia by firms that have the exclusive right to publish them, and that this has resulted in flooding the country with a great amount of absolute rubbish which passes for children’s comics, the subjectmatter of which consists of every sort of crime? Will the Minister say what is being done to prevent the flooding of Australia with matter of this kind?
– I am not familiar with the matter raised by the honorable member. Indeed, I am not sure whether it comes within the scope of my department. However, I shall look into it, and if it is the concern of another Minister, I shall take it up with him.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913-1947, the following members be appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz.: - Mr. Bowden, Mr. Cramer, Mr. McDonald, Mr. O’Connor, Mr. Edgar Russell and Mr.. Watkins.
Motions (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - agreed to -
That the number of members appointed to serve on the Standing Orders Committee be increased to eight, and that Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister, the Chairman of Committees, Mr. Tom Burke, Mr. Clark, Mr. McDonald, Sir Earle Page and Mr. Rosevear be members of that committee; three to form a quorum.
That Mr. Speaker, Mr. Beazley, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Duthie. Mr. Hasluck, Mr. Haylen and Mr. Wentworth be members of the Library Committee: three to form a quorum.
That Mr. Speaker, Mr. Bryson, Mr. Bernard Corser, Mr. Gullett, Mr. Hulme, Mr. Mulcahy and Mr. Watkins be members of the House Committee; three to form a quorum.
That Mr. Daly, Mr. Haylen, Mr. Leslie, Mr. O’Connor, Mr. Osborne, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Wilson be members of the Printing Committee; three to form a quorum, with power to confer with a similar committee of the Senate.
That Mr. Clark, Dr: Evatt, Mr. Kent Hughes, Mr. McDonald, Mr. McLeay, Mr. Sheehan and Mr. Turnbull be members of the Committee of Privileges: five to form a quorum.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Works and Housing a question about the proposal to send a delegation overseas to inquire into the availability of prefabricated homes. The Minister said that the delegation would include four experts. In view of the fact that the delegation will have nothing to do with the designing of homes or the placing of orders, but will merely investigate firms and countries from which supplies may be obtained, will the Minister say what expert knowledge is necessary for the performance of that task?
Will he say why the information cannot be obtained by correspondence, or through Australian or British representatives abroad, and why it requires a delegation of four to secure it. I should also like to know whether the Minister has conferred with his colleague, the honorable member for Chisholm, who would bc able to supply him with most, if not all, of the information to be sought. Is it not a fact that representatives of overseas firms are already in Australia endeavouring to place orders for prefabricated homes? Finally, have the members of the delegation any direct connexion with the building trade in Australia, and will they be able to acquire knowledge as the result of their trip abroad which they will be able to turn to their own advantage on their return?
– I shall answer the questions in reverse. Three of the four members of the mission are government officers find have no connexion with anything except government affairs. The fourth member has no connexion with the building industry in any shape or form. It is essential to send the mission abroad in order to discover which firms and countries are best able to meet the requirements of the governments of Australia and the States for imported houses in relation to plant, equipment, ability to live up to engagements in respect of large commitments, the quality of work and the raw materials to be used, inspection and a dozen other matters that will occur to almost every honorable member’s mind which will have to be investigated overseas by an objective body of men from this country. The mission is quite essential. All States are in thorough agreement with it. The two States which ure particularly affected, New South Wales and Victoria, are most anxious to send their representatives abroad with the mission.
– Has the Minister for the Interior been in consultation with the National Capital Planning and Development Committee or the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council in respect of the alienation of the reserve area of land previously allocated for railway purposes and which is now being developed as an industrial lease area? Is the Minister able to produce the original plan which designated this parcel of land as an industrial area? If so, will he state whether the utilization of this land is not governed by the provisions of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act section 12a (1) which still remain valid?
– The reversion of this area to a minor industrial area was not discussed with the National Capital Planning and Development Committee, but with a departmental planning committee. The area was originally set apart as a minor industrial area and, as I mentioned yesterday, tenders were called for blocks within the area. Only one block was taken up at that time, upon which the Canberra Steam Laundry now stands. Certain housing works were later undertaken in the area by both the Commonwealth and private individuals. I have already undertaken to investigate the desirability of laying on the table the papers in relation to the reversion proposal. My investigations have not yet been completed. As soon as they are completed, I shall inform the honorable member of the decision on the subject. In any case I assure the honorable member that the provisions of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act will be complied with.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Sugar - Protocol relating to the International Sugar Agreement (signed in London, 31st August, 1049).
This protocol was signed in London on the 31st August, 1949, by representatives of the Governments of the Union of South Africa, the Commonwealth of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, the Dominican Republic, the French Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Hayti, the Netherlands, Peru, the Republic of the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, the United States of America, and the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. This protocol is similar to the protocol which was signed on the 31st August, 1948, and extends the International Sugar Agreement, which initially operated from 1937, for a further period of one year to the 31st August, 1950.
The International Sugar Agreement of 1937 was to operate for a period of five years, but its provisions have been continued by successive protocols. The first protocol continued the agreement unchanged until the 31st August, 1944, but subsequent protocols have provided that certain articles, particularly the quota provisions, shall remain inoperative.
– I rise to order. The Minister is departing from the procedure for the formal tabling of the paper. He has not asked for permission to make a statement. I consider that he should do so before continuing.
– It is true that the Minister did not ask for leave to make a statement. What he is doing comes within the scope of a ministerial statement. I happen to know that the subject with which he is dealing is of great importance to many honorable members. I suggest that he should move for the printing of the paper so that honorable members may have an opportunity later to debate it.
– I shall do so. In the later protocols the signatories recognize that revision of the agreement is necessary and should be undertaken as soon as the time appears to be opportune. Discussion of any such revision should take the existing agreement as the starting point, and due account should be taken of any general principles of commodity policy embodied in any agreements which might be concluded under the auspices of the United Nations.
In August, 1948, a committee was appointed by the National Sugar Council -
This special committee has held a number of meetings and its report will be considered at a meeting of the full council to be called not later than July, 1950. I move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
– For the guidance of Ministers I should perhaps lay down early in our proceedings the procedure to be followed when Ministers desire to lay papers on the table. Such action may be taken only after the expiration of the first 35 minutes of question time. If, however, a Minister desires to comment on the paper which he proposes to lay on the table, such remarks will come under the heading of a ministerial statement and he may table the document only after questions have been concluded.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health which is based on a letter which I have received, and which I shall make available to the right honorable gentleman, from Mr. Frank Gladen. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the living conditions and treatment of sufferers from leprosy in and around Australia? If so, is he satisfied with the standard of such living conditions and treatment? If the right honorable gentleman has not a full knowledge of the subject, will he cause full investigations to be made on it?
– The honorable member will recall that immediately after the Government took office a statement was made that a royal commission would be appointed to deal with the subject of health in north Australia. This week the Prime Minister will contact the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland on this subject. He suggested that, as from the point of view of tropical illness, north-west Australia, northern Queensland and the Northern Territory constitute an integral unit, the royal commission might cover the whole of that area in order to ensure that the treatment of leprosy and tropical diseases, and the general condition of the natives should be dealt with in accordance with a uniform policy.
– I ask for leave to make a short reply to a question by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) concerning trade union ballots.
– Why does not the Minister make the statement when the period allotted for questions has expired?
– It has expired.
-The Minister for Labour and National Service has asked for leave to make a statement in answer to a question. Is leave granted?
Leave not granted.
Debate resumed from the 28th February (vide page 165), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
Mat it please Youn Excellency:
We the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to ; i el dress to Parliament.
.- I agree entirely with the sentiments that are expressed in the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, but I disagree almost entirely with the Speech that the GovernorGeneral was called upon to make last week. I listened most attentively while His Excellency was reading his Speech, and, thinking that I must have misunderstood what he read, I obtained a copy of the Speech, and perused it carefully. I have also listened to comments by honorable members opposite on the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, and my first impression of it has not changed. I thought, during the closing minutes of yesterday’s sitting, that I was at last about to hear an important contribution to the debate by a Government supporter. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) was discussing the Government’s proposal for the establishment of a Ministry of National Development which would administer and control major programmes of national expansion. However, I remembered that action had not been taken, at that stage, to form the Ministry of National Development. The proposal is still in nebulous form. The honorable member also emphasized the necessity for summoning a convention to bring the Australian Constitution up to date, but, to my amazement, he explained to the House that, in his opinion, the purpose of that convention should be, not to increase the powers of the Australian Parliament with a view to making it a truly national legislature, which would be able to govern in the interests of the whole of the people, but to restrict the already limited authority that this Parliament possesses. Referring again to the Ministry of National Development, the honorable member suggested that one of the first projects that that organization should undertake should be the provision of a water supply for people living within approximately 6 miles of the Perth General Post Office. I have heard some parish-pump proposals in this House in the past, and I consider that the honorable gentleman’s suggestion caps all of them.. It was worthy of being placed, not before the National Parliament, ‘but before a municipal council. At that stage of his speech, I decided that I had not heard any contribution of value from any Government supporter.
The Governor-General’s Speech purports to forecast legislation that the Government will present to the Parliament during this session. I noted that the projected bills are a substantial departure from the glowing promises that were made to the people during the election campaign by the Leader of the Liberal party of Australia (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden) who are now teamed in this Government. According to those right honorable gentlemen everything in the garden would be lovely if they were returned to office. However, I have noticed that the glowing promises which were made during the election campaign have been considerably watered down since polling day, the 10th December last. Obviously, the new Government has begun to realize the responsibilities that it has taken upon its shoulders and has commenced to back-pedal. As the election day recedes, the tempo of the backpedalling will increase. I forecast that a political situation will develop in this Parliament similar to that which has developed in the Victorian Parliament. Victoria is suffering at the present time from the injurious effects of a composite Liberal-Country party Government. The political history of Australia shows conclusively that whenever the Liberal party and the Country party have formed a composite administration they have not been able to govern successfully. Petty jealousies of all kinds have arisen, and individuals have sought to gain more power at the expense of their colleagues. Squabbles have occurred, and after a composite government has been in existence for a short time the attention of Ministers has been taken up by petty party squabbles, and the job of governing has been forgotten. Australians have witnessed that spectacle time after time, not only in State parliaments, but also in the National Parliament. I believe, that, on this occasion, those experiences will be repeated with this unholy combination of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party.
The effects of the Victorian election in 1947 and the Commonwealth election in 1949 are somewhat similar. The antiLabour parties did not receive a large majority of the total votes polled, but they obtained a large majority of members in each parliament. As I look around thi3 chamber to-day, I see many honorable members opposite who should not be here if Ave are to have good government in the Commonwealth sphere of administration, and I am forced to the conclusion that the Australian Government will be similar to that under which Victorians have suffered for approximately two years.
At the election in Victoria in 1947, the Liberal party and the Country party were returned to office with an overwhelming majority. The strength of the Labour party was reduced to eighteen members in a house of 65. However, Labour candidates polled approximately 44 per cent, of the total votes recorded in the election. The composite Government was formed under the leadership of Mr. Hollway, and the Victorian public was promised many beneficial changes. The State as a whole was to progress. More coal and power were to be obtained and new industries were to be established. The people were expected to work harder, and, naturally, profits were to be increased. But as time passed, the glowing promises that had been made before the State election were forgotten, and the familiar squabble between the Liberal party and the Country party began. Mr. Hollway was Premier. Mr. McDonald thought that he ought to hold that office, and Mr. Dunstan considered that he should be the most important member of the Cabinet; but he was given the very -minor portfolio of the Ministry of Health, which he did not hold for very long because, being a very shrewd politician, he made his portfolio appear to be more important than those held by the senior Ministers of the Cabinet, and the old jealousies were revived. Instead of good legislation being placed before Parliament, the whole time of the members of the Cabinet was occupied in squabbling among themselves, with the result that Mr. Hollway announced to the people of Victoria that he had decided to throw his Country party colleagues to the wolves ; that he would no longer work with them but would form an entirely Liberal party cabinet. I warn members of the Australian Country party in this House that his party also decided, when it threw the members of the Country party out of the Cabinet, that it would kill that party in Victoria. The brilliant brainwave that it had was to change its name, which it had not had for long but which had already begun to smell. The other names that that party has had over the years have also smelt. The name was changed to the Liberal and Country party, the aim being to obliterate the Country party as a separate entity. Mr. Hollway has continued in office as Premier of Victoria and the affairs of that State have gone from bad to worse. No legislation that is of any use to the people of the State has been enacted. Mr. Hollway and his Liberal party colleagues are clinging to the treasury bench like leeches and will have to he scraped off. That will happen before very long. I predict that we shall witness a similar state of affairs in this House. The Liberal party and the Australian Country party are acting as very close friends to-day. They have told the people that they have no differences in regard to policy or to politics and that they are bosom f friends. Yet in the rather recent past the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden), who is also Deputy Prime Minister, accused his leader of having driven a stiletto into his back. Has the leader of the Government put that stiletto, back in its sheath, or dispossessed himself of it? Will he, in the near future, again stab his deputy in the back with it? You will remember, Mr. Speaker, the accusations that were made by the leader of the Government against his deputy. You will also remember that the Minister for Health was a prominent Minister in a composite government that Mr. Bruce led in the 1920’s. He was Treasurer of the Commonwealth, in which office he earned the name of “ tragic Treasurer “, for which he cannot claim much fame. Under his control the Commonwealth Treasury, in a time of plenty and prosperity, was more nearly bankrupt than it has been at any other stage of Australia’s history. The Minister for Supply and Development, a member of a previous ministry in this Parliament, was appointed by the government of the day to represent Australia in the United States of America - a rather important position and one of great responsibility, particularly when Japan and America entered the war. I recollect that when Australia appealed to America for assistance in the time of its greatest need, to prevent an invasion by Japanese soldiers, that right honorable gentleman accepted a comfortable position in Egypt, deserted his post in America and left Australian representation to his understrappers. To-day he is one of those people who are expected to lead Australia during our present trying times.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), who is also Minister for External Territories, came into this House as an independent, which he remained until his acceptance of a position in a United Australia party ministry. He discarded his independent ideas when he was given place and power, and joined the United Australia party. Eventually, he lost his position in the Ministry and again became an independent ; but when he saw the opportunity of again obtaining place and power he joined the brand new Liberal party. Can one expect him to be a team man, or to lead Australia along the road to progress? He typifies the small boy with the cricket bat whose motto was, “ Either you play according to my rules or I shall take my bat home “. With such a conglomeration, stable government cannot be expected. I know the Liberal and Australian Country parties have a majority of the members of this House. The Liberal party and the Country party of Victoria had as large a majority yet could not agree to carry on together. I anticipate that before long there will be similar differences here. The members of the Australian Country party need to beware, not only of the stiletto of the Leader of the Government, but also of a few other stilettos which will be used on them when they are least expecting an attack. The Government has made two or three decisions during its period of office. Petrol rationing hasbeen lifted. Whether that was a wise or an unwise move remains to be proved.- We shall know within the next three or four months whether the judgment of theGovernment was good or otherwise. Another early Government decision which concerns me as an industrialist, but moreparticularly as an ex-official of a PublicService union, was to discontinue what has been known as preference to unionists within the Public Service. I asked the Prime Minister a question in regard to that matter in this House last week and received a rather illuminating answer. The right honorable gentleman told the workers of Australia during the last election campaign, that he was a friend of the trade unionist; that he would do nothing to harm him but, rather, would improve the conditions of the general body of trade unionists throughout Australia. Many of them believed that he would fulfil that promise. I did not believe him because I knew what Liberal party promises to industrialists were worth. I learned to my sorrow many years ago that such promises of friendship for the workers and belief in unionism were empty.
Although the right honorable gentleman declared that unions should be assisted ‘by the Government and assured the unionists of his sympathy, his first action upon attaining office was to declare, in effect, “ I shall give preference to non-unionists within the Public Service. I prefer the ‘ scab ‘ to the good unionist “. A brief study of events since an antiLabour government decided in 1920 that the Public Service should have a special system of arbitration reveals the insincerity of the professions of support for unionism that have been voiced by anti-Labour parties. Prior to 1920, organizations of workers employed in the Public Service had operated under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. However, the anti-Labour government then in office decided to establish a special tribunal, and it enacted legislation that provided for the appointment of an arbitrator to hear claims made by and on behalf of the various unions ^represented in the Public Service and the replies to those claims made on behalf of the various departments and the Public Service Board, and to give decisions with respect to rates of pay and conditions of employment within the Public Service. The act empowered the arbitrator to make awards for members of claimant organizations, but it made no provision whatever for the application of award rates of pay and conditions of employment to nonunionists. In the early days of the operation of that act, only unionists obtained the benefits of the unions’ activities, but the anti-Labour and antiunion government then in power soon decided to extend the provisions of awards obtained at the expense of the unions to non-unionists as well as to unionists. That government was a little more subtle than the present Government, however, and, instead of declaring that non-unionists should obtain the benefits of union awards, it merely instructed the Public Service Board to amend the staff regulations so as to provide for the general application of the rates of pay and conditions of employment set out in the awards. When a Labour government later came into office it decided that, as members of the unions had paid the costs of obtaining awards, they alone were entitled to reap any rewards thus gained, and it re-established the principle of preference to unionists.
Every anti-Labour government that has gained power with the swing of the political pendulum has given preference to non-unionists, and history is now repeating itself. During the eight-years period of Labour administration that has just ended, successive governments have insisted that the provisions of the Arbitration (Public Service) Act, which were brought into force by an anti-Labour government, should apply so that only those employees who contributed to union expenses in order to secure awards should obtain the benefits of those awards. Now the Prime Minister, who has told us that he is a great friend of the unions and the workers, is “ putting in the boot “ where he thinks there is the least chance of retaliation. He knows that the Commonwealth Public Service Act prohibits strikes within the Public Service. The Government has ways and means of disciplining public servants, which deprive those workers of the freedom of action that is enjoyed by other workers throughout Australia. The Prime Minister and his colleagues believe that when they attack [public servants they are attacking the weakest section of the organized industrial movement. Their action has been most cowardly and unwarranted. I refer honorable members to the answer that was given by the Prime Minister to a question that I put to him on this subject last week. I asked the right honorable gentleman to explain why he had extended preference to nonunionists in the Public Service and he replied that the Government had done so because, as an employer of labour, it could not differentiate, in rates of pay and conditions of employment, between one employee and another. He added that the living costs of nonunionists were as high as those of unionists, and that both non-unionists and unionists were equally taxed. That answer was deliberately misleading. In the final part of my question, which the right honorable gentleman answered first, I asked him whether the Government would agree to pay the total costs of the presentation of union claims to the arbitrator if it intended to continue to extend preference to non-unionists.
His answer to that was a definite “ No “. That proved definitely that the right honorable gentleman had decided to impose upon unionists financial restrictions which he would not impose upon non-unionists. The unionist and the non-unionist in the Public Service are not upon an equal footing even when they receive equal pay. The rates of pay and conditions of employment enjoyed by public servants have been gained at the expense of the members of the various unions. The attitude of the. Government in this matter has been typically anti-unionist. It has been consistently maintained by anti-Labour governments in all of their dealings with the members of industrial organizations.
The following passage in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech particularly intrigued me : -
My Government realizes that the increase in the cost of living is accentuating the difficulties with which age and widow pensioners in particular have to contend. My advisers realize, also, that the present system, under which various benefits are paid subject to :i means test, gives rise to problems of which there is no easy solution.
A different story was told during the election campaign. The leaders of the present Government parties and their supporters told the people then that, if elected, they would increase the rate of age and invalid pensions and would abolish the means test. They had a very simple formula to deal with the problem then, but they have suddenly realized, now that they are faced with the responsibility of government-
– Order ! The treasury bench is unoccupied. It must be occupied by a Minister at all times during debates.
– We are told now, in spite of all the election promises, that there is no easy solution of the problems of pensioners. The Governor-General’s Speech continued in the following terms : -
My Government, however, is closely investigating the most pressing anomalies to see what can be done to remove them. It believes, moreover, that the application of its financial and economic policy will result in improvement in the purchasing power of the currency, so that pensioners, as well as other fixed income groups, will benefit.
All the glowing promises held out to age, invalid and widow pensioners, have disappeared into empty air. The only ray of hope for the age pensioners is that the Government will reduce the cost of living and so make the £2 2s. 6d. a week go a little further than it now goes towards meeting their living expenses. Since this Government has taken office the cost of living has increased by almost 10 per cent., so the promise to reduce it will not be fulfilled for many years. Unless the Government honours its promises, the pensioners face a very bleak prospect in the coming winter.
There is also the suggestion in His-. Excellency’s Speech that more value will be put into the Australian £1. Some of us held the belief that the Prime Minister proposed to appreciate the Australian currency to parity with sterling. While the Prime Minister was coll”veying that impression to the electors the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) was telling his country constituents that the £1 could not be appreciated because the interests of the primary producer must be considered. Therefore, the fight is on between the two sections of the Ministry on the question of whether the £1 will be appreciated to benefit those on low incomes and on pensions, or whether it will remain as it is at present for the benefit of the primary producers. Apart from a few airy sentences, neither the Prime Minister nor any of his Ministers has given any explanation of how value is to be put back into the £1. Whenever a suggestion has been made a denial has been forthcoming from another direction. This Government will not appreciate the £1, and all its statements on price-fixing and the reduction of the prices of commodities are only empty promises.
In 1948 the leaders of the present Government stumped the whole of Australia asking the electors to reject the referendum on prices control. They informed the people that if power to fix prices reverted to the State governments an effective control could be exercised by them. The Liberal Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hollway, said that he had all the legislation prepared and could take over price-fixing immediately a “ No “ vote was recorded against the referendum. The people believed those specious arguments and promises and the majority voted against the referendum. When the federal government of the day relinquished prices control to the States, Mr. Hollway said that he was not ready to proceed with any scheme. Unless prices and profits are controlled, the cost of living will not be reduced. The Government will be able to make only empty promises until prices control is returned to the Commonwealth. Why are such empty promises made in His Excellency’s Speech ? Why is such an important speech made a mockery? The Government should say what it will do about prices and should not continue to. mislead the peopleas it has done in the past. [Extension of time granted.] Whilst I did not expect very much from His Excellency’s Speech, I was disappointed with it because the election promises that the present Government made to the people of Australia have not been fulfilled. If those promises are not carried out we can expect a. period of stagnation in this country. Greater profits may be expected by the comparatively few persons who provided the money that enabled the parties opposite to attain office, but no progress by the general mass of the people is likely. The election of this Government not only will mean stagnation but also will prevent the march to progress and prosperity of the Austraiian people.
.- I must confess to feeling somewhat overawed on this occasion, but I do feel honored at having been chosen by the people of Bass to represent them in this Parliament. Despite what the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) has said, I am proud to be a supporter of this Government which, as time passes, will get increasing support from the people. This Government will restore the prestige and dignity that characterized the old parliamentary tradition. During my election campaign I visited over 6,000 houses in my electorate. I discovered that people wanted to he proud of their representatives and of their Parliament. Being a member of this House is an entirely new experience for me, and I have watched its proceedings with a great deal of interest. I say very humbly that I thought your speech. Mr. Speaker, on the occasion of your election to the chair, was a gem of wit and dignity. I cannot say as much for the speech of the honorable member for Wills, nor that of the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). The latter gentleman merely abused the Government and all it stands for. His speech was full of inaccuracies and was in very bad taste. I was amazed that a man of his experience should seek to lay the sins of the former Government at the doorstep of this Government. No government failed more hopelessly to reduce the cost of living or to maintain the purchasing power of the Australian £1 than did the Government which has just been defeated. According to reliable statisticians, the purchasing power of the fi in 3941 was 20s. ; by 1943 it had dropped to 14s. 7d. ; and by 1948 it had suffered a further decline to 12s. 8d. Immediately prior to this Government taking office it was worth considerably under 10s. Those figures are indisputable and they speak for themselves.
I should like to relate an experience th:t I had during my electioneering campaign. I was canvassing in a Labour section of Launceston, and when I knocked on the door of a certain house I knew that I was liable to get an earbashing. My suspicions were confirmed when I introduced myself to the gentleman who came to the door. When I had explained our intentions he said to me, “ What nonsense ; what can you do for us? To-day we have more money than we have ever had and are better off than we ever were before in our lives “. Just at that moment his wife, who, I might add, was an extra outsize in wives, came to the door, and I thought that T was in for a double ear-bashing. However, I also thought it was time I put my case. I said, “Yes. I agree that you have more money to-day, but how far does it go? “ To my amazement, the good lady turned round and “ got stuck into “ her husband, not into me, and said, with a flow of language which I cannot repeat here. “ I have been trying to knock that into this so-and-so’s thick skull for the last six months “. I thought it was time to get out, because I had no wish to become involved in a family fight. Therefore. I made my farewells, and added as I was leaving, “ I hope I shall see you again “. As I reached the gate, the lady called to me in a voice that boomed all over the street, “ You will get my vote, young man, and what is more, when I’ve finished with this so-and-so, you will get his, too “.
I relate that story, not only because it happens to be true, but also because it illustrates very well what has happened in connexion with the cost of living. In his Speech, the Governor-General referred to the cost of living, and said that it would not be easy to solve the problem without the co-operation of all sections of the community. Let us hope that we shall get that measure of co-operation which is so necessary.
The honorable member for “Wills instead of attempting to co-operate, devoted the whole of his speech to personal abuse. It contained no evidence of constructive thought. Such speeches only waste the time of this Parliament and of the people of Australia. We on this side of the House do not object to criticism so long as it is constructive.
During the last eight years, output per man-hour has dropped alarmingly. This has been due to several reasons, not the least of which are strikes and industrial disturbances, whilst another is the. application of the misguided go-slow policy. I was amazed to hear the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) declare that Communist influence has declined in Australia. I remind him that, in the recent election, approximately 90,000 primary votes were cast for Communist candidates. During the last four years, we have witnessed the unchecked growth of communism in Australia. In full-page advertisements in every newspaper throughout, the country, the last government, at great expense to the taxpayers, told the public that the coal strike, which was the greatest industrial disaster of recent years, was Communistinspired. Now, almost every honorable member who has spoken from the Opposition side of the House, has declared that communism is declining. I believe that the reverse is the case. Honorable members opposite have expressed strong opposition to the introduction of the secret ballot in the management of trade unions. I believe that a compulsory secret ballot of unionists on certain issues would be one of the most effective measures for fighting Communist influence. Nothing could be fairer than to ensure that every trade unionist shall have an effective voice in the control of his union. I say that as a unionist myself. Whatever may be the opinion of honorable members opposite, it does not alter the fact that the present Government looks very favorably on the rights of trade unionists. But it does not believe that Communists, or a militant minority, should be able to dominate the unions. Let me quote the following brief extract from the Examiner of the 28th February, which deals with the attitude of the unions to the Government’s industrial peace plan : -
A.C.T.U. leaders have already indicated clearly that the trade union movement would fight any legislation to exclude Communists from holding office in trade unions after they had been elected by a genuine trade union ballot.
Does that make it appear that honorable members opposite are doing their best to rid the country of Communist influence? I think not. The Government aims at achieving lasting industrial peace. The last Government, during ite long life, failed to achieve anything like industrial peace, with the result that the costs of production soared. Wages certainly increased from time to time, but the cost of living outstripped them in ;i mad race. Thus, the situation was produced which aroused the ire of the housewife whom I mentioned a little earlier, the lady who was unable to balance the family budget. If wages are to be worth more production must be increased. It is merely to keep on increasing wages. We must attack the problem at the right end. We must reduce costs, because that would automatically raise the purchasing power of the £1. I quote the following from a statement by Professor G. L. Wood :-
Since 1945 there had .been a very large increase in volume of money in Australia, but not a comparable increase in goods produced. The worst thing that could happen at present would be to grant further wage increases, because they would merely decrease the value of money. You may have higher wages, say, this year than last year, but if price rises are greater, you may obtain fewer goods for the extra money.
The effective way to reduce the cost of living is to lower costs. The mere increasing of wages may be likened to a dog chasing its tail. Every time wages are increased, prices also rise. If every one were to do a full 40 hours’ work in the week, instead of adopting the go-slow policy of which we see much to-day, T believe that it would be possible to restore the purchasing power of the £1. The Government believes that there should be opportunity and progress for all. It believes that wages should be the highest that industry can afford to pay. It is anxious to bring about the best possible’ conditions of labour, and to increase amenities wherever that is practicable. It wants management and labour to ge together because, until there is effective understanding between employers and employees, we shall not be able to do much to promote industrial peace. Unfortunately, many honorable members opposite carry a chip on their shoulders. They cannot realize that the Government is sincerely in favour of improving the lot of the worker. Surely it is only comnonsense that if wages are the highest that industry can afford, and if conditions are the best possible, production will be increased, and greater production means lower costs. Therefore, Government supporters are in favour of improved conditions for the workers, but they ask that if the workers receive high wages and have the benefits of good conditions, they should give a reasonable return in work. In other words, they want a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. In order to achieve this, there must be cooperation. Notwithstanding political differences, every one should co-operate, and thus make of Australia a happier land. Although it is not the practice of the Government to interfere with the arbitration system, I should like to offer a personal observation on the 40-hour week. I believe that it was introduced at an inopportune time; but it is here to stay, and it is the duty of every one concerned to give a full 40-hour week’s work. In passing, I merely make this point: T wonder how far costs would have soared if the Labour Government had remained in office, and there had been progressive decreases in the number of working hours until a 30-hour week obtained, as is provided for in the Labour platform.
We on this side of the House are strongly in favour of the introduction of incentive payments and profit-sharing schemes, and I cannot understand why they are opposed by the trade unions. I have discussed the matter with some trade unionists, who are favorably disposed to them, although their unions are opposed to them. There is in Launceston the firm, of L. W. Smith Proprietary Limited, one of the largest wool-scouring and carbonizing firms in the southern hemisphere. It works on a system of profitsharing with its employees, and its staff is the most efficient and contented in the industry. In that factory, particular attention is paid to the comfort of the employees. The firm even goes so far as to encourage its employees to discuss their private problems with the management, which assists them when necessary. Thi* establishes a. great amount of goodwill. If we could improve the relationships between employers and employees throughout the whole range of industry, we should go a long way towards achieving industrial peace. If, as seems likely, the unions will not co-operate by agreeing to the introduction of incentive schemes, I favour the introduction of a system of payment by results. After all, what could be fairer than that? It should not be impossible to analyse production methods in various occupations, clerical, as well as manual, and to arrange incentive payments based on that analysis. Legislation could be introduced to fix suitable minimum payments, and under such, a system payment by results would be fair. It may be necessary to introduce legislation along those lines if the unions persistently refuse to co-operate. After all, we all are part of the one community. I have made it clear that honorable members on this side of the House are more than anxious to helpthe workers. We want the nation to prosper. There should be no danger of unemployment for an indefinite period. There are unlimited possibilities for development in Australia, and the Government is resolved to develop our resources. Nothing succeeds like incentive. The introduction df an incentivewould kindle the interest of the workers,. encourage them to use their initiative, and stimulate a pride in their jobs.
Since I have been in this House, I have heard honorable members of the Opposition express themselves as opposed to the introduction of compulsory military training. I make no apology for saying that I am in favour of it. If a country is worth living in, it is worth fighting for. Recently I had a conversation with one of my electors, a Liberal supporter, who complained rather bitterly that I had mentioned the subject of compulsory military training in a broadcast. I said to him, “ You agree that this country is worth living in? “ He replied, “Yes, of course it is “. I then asked him, “ Is it worth fighting for?”, and he replied, “Yes, I suppose it is “. “ Well, then “, I replied, “ I suppose you want the son of your next door neighbour, but not your own son, to do the fighting “, which rather set him back. His was the common attitude of people who are opposed to compulsory military training. Those who live in a community must be prepared to share us responsibilities. I make no apology for strongly advocating that every Australian should stand up to his obligations and do bis bit. I believe military training to bc very helpful in the formation of a young man’s character. I appeal to all people, no matter what their shade of political thought may be, to do their best to increase production and so reduce, costs. Although the achievement of that objective will take some time, increased production offers the simplest solution of the problem of restoring value to the £1.
– Not so many years have passed since Arthur Phillip raised the British flag in Sydney Cove, but during that short period we have witnessed some very distinctive changes in Australia’s political history. During the early period of our history there was what we might call the separation period, when the States separated from the colony of New South Wales. The second phase began in 1901 when the States joined together in one great federation known as the Commonwealth of Australia. In that year the first Commonwealth Parliament met in Melbourne. Now, in 1950, we have reached what I might . describe as the third great phase in our history, which began last week with the opening of the Nineteenth Commonwealth Parliament by the Governor-General. I do not make these remarks in any extremely light vein. I believe that the years that lie ahead of us will perhaps be the most critical in world history. To-day we are living in an atomic age under the shadow of the hydrogen bomb and other modern weapons of destruction. Whilst we -may devote much time to the consideration of our domestic problems I believe that in the years immediately ahead, our international relations will be of prime importance to this country. Australia is a young nation living in an old world from which we shall learn much during the next few years.
I was very pleased to note that the Governor-General in his opening remarks expressed the loyalty of the Australian people to Their Majesties the King and Queen. The expression of our loyalty to the Throne was only right and fitting and all honorable members join in the sentiments expressed by His Excellency. Next in order of importance His Excellency made reference to our foreign relations and outlined what is to be done in the international sphere in the immediate future. Australia is a lonely outpost of white civilization bordering on a coloured sea. When we consider the events that have been taking place in the Far East during the last few years we must ask ourselves some pertinent questions. First, do we really believe that the Chinese Communist leader, Mao-tse-Tung, will stop at the borders of Indo-China, Burma and Thailand ? Secondly, can the insurrection in Malaya be satisfactorily quelled by existing forces there? We must also review our relations with the new independent nations that have been established in the Asian sphere, particularly with our nearest neighbour, Indonesia. All these matters constitute immediate pressing problems, and all of them have a great bearing on our internal well-being. In this connexion, I wish to leave a thought in the minds of honorable members in relation to our future cooperation with Japan. It has been suggested that the time has arrived when Japan should again take its place in international councils. . Having lived with the Japanese for some years under rather curious conditions, and knowing their characteristics fairly well, I offer some advice to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender). I suggest to the honorable gentleman that we should use
I lie Japanese internationally, but that we should never trust them.
Lt should be the proud responsibility of every Australian to play his part in the defence of his country. Responsibility for. the defence of Australia is the role of not only the men and women in the services, but also the men and women, in industry. During World War II. the fighting man in the air, on the sea, or in the front line, could not have continued to wage war on the enemy unless he continued to have behind him the five or ten men who were engaged ‘ in the production of the essential materials of war. It should be the proud responsibility of every single Australian, whether he views obligation from the angle of taking part in a particular service or otherwise, to share in the burden of the defence of his country. I am pleased to note that particular reference was made in the Governor-General’s Speech to the necessity for a co-ordinated regional scheme of defence in which the British Commonwealth of Nations would act in close conjunction and co-ordination with that great nation, the United States of America.
I propose now to descend from the realms of higher politics to the little domestic stage as it is represented by the electorate known as Darling Downs in Queensland, which I have the honour to represent in this Parliament. That electorate has as its centre the town of Toowoomba, which, despite what my friend, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce), may have said, is now the second largest town in Queensland and, 1 understand, the largest inland town in Australia. The Darling Downs area yields approximately 90 per cent, of the. wheat and 33 per cent, of the dairy products produced in Queensland. When one considers that electorate, one must view it principally from the angle of its rural importance. The Darling Downs is a particularly fertile area which consists principally of black soil plains. It has been rightly classi- fied as one of the richest producing areas in the Commonwealth. Artificial fertilization is practically unknown in the wheat belt there. In common with other primary producing areas throughout Australia, it has had to face for many years problems that arise from decreasing production. During the last eight years physical primary production throughout Australia has remained practically static. Official records reveal that the total area under crops in Australia decreased from 23,500,000 acres in 1938-39 to 22,200,000 acres in 1947-4S. In the same period our sheep population decreased by 18 per cent, and our cattle population by 1 per cent. Physical exports of dairy products and meat also decreased to an appreciable extent. It will be understood that, having regard to our increased population, unless production, is increased exports must still further decline as time goes on. It is well known that if the present trend continues, before many years have elapsed Australia will have to import some of its requirements of certain primary products. I refer principally to meat and, to a lesser degree, to potatoes and citrus fruits. What is the reason for this decrease of production ? We do not condemn any one for it. When we examine a trend such as this, we should seek the underlying cause and endeavour to rectify it rather than condemn any one for its existence. One of the factors responsible for the decline of production is the drift of population to the cities or, in other words, the aggregation of huge populations in the metropolitan and urban areas and the denudation of population in rural areas. Figures that I have taken from the 1947 census, which covered the period from 1933 to 1947, reveal very clearly that that drift has been a continuing process. During that fourteen-year period the urban population increased by 737,872 and the provincial population increased by 238,562 ; but the rural population decreased by 27,495. In other words, whilst there was a fairly steep increase of the metropolitan and provincial populations there was a relatively sharp drop in the population of urban areas. During the same period the number of people in the capital cities increased from 46. S7 per cent, to 50.7 per cent, of the total population. Thus, at, present more than 50 per cent, of our total population, is concentrated in the principal cities of Australia. The number of displaced persons drafted to rural areas for employment purely in rural occupations, has been relatively small. I am not certain of the figure but I believe it to be approximately 8 per cent, of the total number of new arrivals. The direct effect of this policy is to be seen even within my own electorate, first in the cultivation of ama Her areas’ for the growing of crops and, secondly, in the reduction of dairy herds with a consequent decline of the production of milk, cream and butter. Thirdly, dairy herds are being sold, and some dairying areas are being used for the production of crops because less labour is required for that purpose. Yesterday, r received from the Commonwealth Statistician figures that show a sharp decline of the number of milking cows in the Darling Downs area. The number was reduced from more than 101,000 cows in 1942-43 to 91,000 in 1948-49.
I should like to refer briefly to some of the causes of the movement of population from the rural areas to the large cities. The first cause may be described
H.3 the rather mythical attraction of the bright lights of the cities, and the prospect of better working conditions, including a shorter working week. Sometimes, country people who transfer to the cities find their new life is not so attractive as they had imagined it would .be. Another reason for the drift of population from rural districts to metropolitan areas is r,!ie lack of amenities in the country. The housing situation in most cities is serious, but the rural areas also have a housing problem. ‘ When people who live in country districts are unable to obtain adequate accommodation, they believe that they may be more successful in the cities, and, therefore, they move to the metropolitan areas. The shortage of materials of all kinds is another reason for the drift of population, and, last but not least, is the effect of taxation. How can we stop that drift ? I humbly submit a few of my own ideas on the subject. First, I recommend the introduction of such amenities as water, light and power to the rural areas. The larger country towns already possess those facilities; but they are not available at comparatively short distances from those centres. The whole position should be thoroughly investigated. If such amenities can be provided in rural areas, people may be induced to remain there. I also advocate the provision of good libraries throughout country centres. Reasonable libraries of any description are almost non-existent in many areas. I further recommend the provision of theatre facilities in rural districts. Although that may not seem essential, I believe that the innovation would be a most important factor in arresting the movement of population. The bright neon lights outside the theatres in Brisbane or Sydney are most attractive to many visitors from the country. I do not suggest that the same class of theatre can be constructed in country centres as has been erected in the capital cities; nevertheless the provision of some kind of theatre facilities would undoubtedly be welcomed by the people who live in those areas. We should endeavour to overcome the housing problem in rural districts., and we should decentralize education, particularly rural education. Another important factor is the decentralization of industry. Many people consider that big industries cannot function satisfactorily under conditions of decentralization that involve long journeys to the waterfront and consequent high costs of transport. But some industries can be decentralized without detrimental results. I cite an instance of successful decentralization in the electorate of Darling Downs. In the City of Toowoomba, there is a large undertaking known as the Toowoomba Foundry Proprietary Limited, which manufactures Southern Cross engines, windmills and other machinery. That enterprise, which has been operating for many years, at present employs approximately 1,300 persons, and is expanding rapidly. To my knowledge, Toowoomba Foundry Proprietary Limited has not experienced any major industrial trouble. By efficient methods of production it is able, not only to compete with manufacturers in the big cities of the southern States, but also to export on a competitive market. The experience of that enterprise demonstrates that industries of certain kinds can be successfully decentralized.
Another factor that may assist to arrest the migration of population from rural areas to the large cities is the provision of good roads and, particularly, the construction and maintenance of feeder roads. That recommendation raises the matter of the financial independence of local and regional authorities, and will be dealt with at another time, but I consider that local and regional authorities are the organizations that are best able to look after feeder roads, because they have first-hand knowledge of the work that should be done. I also recommend the expansion of telephone facilities throughout country areas, and I suggest that experimentation with television should be expedited. In my opinion, the provision of television services in country areas would be an important factor in keeping some people satisfied with their social conditions in the country. More migrants should be encouraged to settle in the rural areas. I do not suggest that migrants should bc diverted from the cities, but I do contend that more can be done to encourage persons from the United Kingdom and displaced persons from Europe to settle in the rural areas, and, in that way, compensate for the loss of population. I also suggest that taxation should be reviewed. The Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) has already promised to give consideration to that matter. The suggestions that I have made may, if given effect, assist to arrest the drift of population from the purely rural areas to the cities.
I desire now to discuss the War Service Land Settlement Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, with particular reference to the position in Queensland. To August, 1949, only 161 ex-servicemen had been rehabilitated under that scheme. The original intention was that, by that time, between 7,000 and 8,000 men would be settled on the land in that State. The scheme should be speeded up in Queensland, which is lagging a little behind the southern States. However, that is not my principal reason for referring to this matter. Clause 11 of the agreement provides that the obligation devolves upon each State government to bring the land into production before an ex-serviceman settles on it. So far as I am aware, that provision is being observed in Victoria and South Australia, and I understand that the position is somewhat unsettled in New South Wales, . but Queensland is not making any attempt to bring the land into production before ex-servicemen are settled on it. I make no comment on that, other than to say that the Commonwealth should make inquiries with a view to ensuring that clause 11 of the agreement shall be implemented in future.
Unfortunately, the search for oil in Australia has not been extensively discussed in this House or in other quarters throughout the Commonwealth. I invite honorable members to consider the present position. The United States of America owes its predominant economic position in the world to-day to the fact that it has unlimited supplies of petroleum. Australia would be in a wonderful position if oil in large and payable quantities could be found within its borders. Indeed, I go so far as to say that, upon the discovery of oil in payable quantities here, the economic position of this country would change overnight, and our position as a power in the world would be immeasurably strengthened. There is a good deal of truth in the old saying that the world turns on oil. Aircraft, ships and motor vehicles are dependent on petroleum for locomotion and lubrication. The history of the search for oil in Australia is a sorry story, and I propose briefly to trace it. The search has been proceeding for approximately 40 years, with very little result to date. Prior to 1919, some preliminary geological surveys had been made throughout the length and breadth ‘of the continent. Considerable work was done in the northwestern part of Western Australia, in an area not far distant from Adelaide, and on the western coast of Victoria. A certain amount of work was also done in New Guinea and the Northern Territory. However, the searches had been impotent sorts of ventures, and no results worthy of mention were obtained from them. However, even in those early searches, traces of oil were found, and, because of that, honorable members may wonder why
Australia is not producing oil, but the position is not so simple as that.
The discovery of oil depends upon many factors. At present, oil may be found at many places in Australia, but what we are looking for is, not a trace of oil, but oil wells that will yield large quantities of petroleum. So far, we have been able to find traces of oil, but we have not been able to discover oil wells. I shall endeavour to explain the position. ““Geologically speaking, Australia is an old continent. It dates back to the paleozoic period, and most of the fossils that have been found throughout it indicate that the great bulk of the continent is about that age. Other areas are of a relatively younger geological age, some of them being up to the tertiary period. Sometimes, an accumulation of oil is discovered, not in old strata, but in comparatively new rocks. The explanation is that oil “migrates” from one point to another. A trace of oil might be found in one centre, but a search might not disclose an accumulation of it. The reason is that the oil has accumulated many miles from that spot. That “migration” of oil misled the early prospectors. If a geologist discovers a coal seam, he knows that excavation should uncover a considerable quantity of coal; but the discovery of a trace of oil does not necessarily mean that boring will lead the prospector to an accumulation of oil. Haphazard, “ wildcat “ schemes for the discovery of oil persisted for some years but in 1939 the States and the territories of the Commonwealth passed legislation to control the search. Before 1939, there had been no coordinated effort, but since that year, the quest has been intensified, and has been undertaken extensively over a reasonably large area, with certain results. Oil has been found a short distance from Australia. At present, two oil-fields at Klamona and Wasian in Netherlands New Guinea are producing satisfactory quantities of oil. That illustrates the importance of Netherlands New Guinea and New Guinea to Australia at the present time. We are importing oil from what is virtually a suburban area of Australia and there are bright possibilities of discovering further oil supplies in New Guinea and portions of Australia. I commend to the Minister for Supply and Development encouragement of the search for oil. We look to the future with confidence, knowing that oil is close to Australia in New Guinea and further sources of supply may be discovered not only in that territory but also in Australia, with the result that this country may have a place as one of the oil-producing nations of the world.
The present assembling of this House is an unusual occasion in that it contains the greatest number of new members it has had since federation was established. 1 congratulate you, Mr. Speaker, on your appointment to your high office. I also commiserate with you because of the number of new members over whom you have to preside. Thinking along the lines of your .remarks, before you ascended the steps to the chair, and observing what I may call the vast array of enthusiastic faces in this chamber, perhaps I may adapt your own words to the circumstances by saying, “ May the Good Lord have mercy on Mr. Speaker “.
Sitting suspended from 4.4-7 to 8 p.m.
– There appears to be only one point of agreement between honorable members of the Opposition and the supporters of the Government, and that is the affirmation of our loyalty to the Crown. That seems to be the only element that gives any promise of uniting all parties in the work of governing the country. It is a strange fact that no member of the Opposition has yet expressed any measure of approval of the well-conceived plans that the Government has prepared for the work of the Parliament during the current session. The policy that was disclosed in the Governor-General’s Speech was identical with the policy that the leaders of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party expressed very clealy on the hustings. Every major item of legislation that has been forecast in the Governor-General’s Speech was referred to in the policy speeches of the party leaders at the opening of the election campaign. Up to date the Opposition has not oxpressed any forebodings concerning the introduction of such legislation. For instance, it has admitted to no fear of confidence tricks of the character of the legislation that was introduced by the Chifley Government for the purpose of nationalizing banking. Hence, it is apparent that the Opposition has confidence in the integrity of this Government, a fact that leads me to hope that the Parliament may yet achieve some measure of success in its deliberations.
Some members of the Opposition have attempted to drive a wedge between the two united parties which are supporting the Government. In fact, one honorable member of the opposition described the Australian Country party in very unpleasant terms to-day. I am sorry that I and my colleagues offend his olfactory senses, but I assure him that there is no chance of forcing a division between the two governing parties, because the fear of Marxian socialism is a sufficient spur to keep us working in harmony. Every section of the community is an integral part of the whole nation, and if any government were to favour one section by granting it privileges at the expense of any other section the inevitable result would be dissatisfaction and disunity. A constitutionally elected government is entitled to the full co-operation of every section of the community, and I draw the attention of the House to the threats of noncooperation that have been uttered by representatives of the Opposition, not only in this House, but also outside it. Every thoughtful person must be aware of the fact that we are confronted by grave external threats. We have heard reassuring statements from various members of the Opposition, who have declared that there is no likelihood of war in the near future, but only one man in the world knows whether war will break out or not. and I submit that he does not share his confidence with the Opposition in this House. Apart from external threats, we must deal with very grave internal threats.
The nation is in a critical economic situation, and we must lose no time in putting our house in order. This Government has been invested by the electors with full power to administer the affairs of the nation. The policy that has been laid down by the Government parties offers a solution of many of the problems that beset Australia to-day During the course of this debate I have gained the impression that there is a general feeling of bitter disappointment amongst members of the Opposition. They believe that the electors made a mistake in failing to return them to power. Many attempts have been made by them to draw red herrings across the trail in order to disguise the reason for the general loss of confidence in their policy. If honorable members of the Opposition sincerely wish to learn why they forfeited the confidence of the people, they should cast their minds back to the period during which they were preparing their election propaganda. Upon what points of their policy did they consider themselves to be most vulnerable? I suggest that they were worried principally about their party’s socialist pledge. The problem of bank nationalization, the reduced purchasing power of the Australian pound, and the unhampered activities of the Communists must have caused them serious concern.
Petrol rationing did not cause the downfall of the Labour Government. That was never one of the major points at issue in the minds of the electors. The petrol rationing situation merely opened the eyes of the people to the objectives of the Labour Government, and so caused them to lose confidence in its socialist plan. I am a newcomer to this Parliament, and perhaps thd only reason why I gained the approval of the electors of Hume is to be found in the intention of the Chifley Government to practise socialism. As a layman, I never -worried about the force and astuteness of the Australian Labour party’s propaganda machine, but I was very impressed by its effectiveness during the election campaign. However, it seemed to me that this propaganda was undemocratic. It seemed to be based upon the theory expressed by a great exponent of propaganda of modern times, who declared that, if the people were told the same story often enough and loudly enough, some of them would believe it. During my election campaign, I asked hundreds of financial members of the Australian Labour party whom T met whether they were socialists.
Except for one or two of the old hands, every one of them vehemently denied any adherence to socialism. That illustrates the fact that, if people are told a. story often enough and loudly enough, they will come to believe in it. Those electors did not believe that the Australian Labour party stood for socialism, but we who support this Government know that members of the Labour party are socialists. The same propaganda methods are now being employed in this chamber. Every member of the Opposition who has taken part in this debate has declared, at some time during his speech, that he has the honour to represent the workers. “Well, 2,300,000 Australian electors voted for Government supporters at the election, and all of them could not have been capitalists ! The propaganda of the Labour party has been cleverly planned, and we have often underestimated its effect.
Another fact, that causes me concern is the affiliation of the trade unions with a political party. That affiliation is mostundemocratic. Men and women are often forced to join trade unions in order to earn their livelihood, and they become affiliated with a political party because of that very necessity. The situation is misunderstood by many people only .because the Australian Labour party uses the term “ Labour “. If it came out in its true colours and described itself as the “ Australian Socialist party “, it would sacrifice the support of many electors who voted for it at the last election. I have raised these points because honorable members of the Opposition are continually introducing party politics into the discussions of this National Parliament at the direction of their party propaganda machine. In my opinion, the duties of the Opposition are to act as a check upon the exuberance of the parties that are in power, to offer constructive criticism, and to help to maintain existing parliamentary institutions. Honorable members who support the Government have been brought up on democratic principles and honorable members of the Opposition will find, therefore, that the Government will offer them every possible opportunity to make valuable use of their functions as members of the Opposition by expressing the minority view in this national forum. I may have been unobservant, but up to the present I have seen no evidence of the Opposition endeavouring to carry out its task by helping in the deliberations of this Parliament.
It is an historical fact that the greatest progress that has been made since federation has occurred chiefly under the administration of non-Labour governments. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) supported that declaration last night, when he described the great expansion that had taken place consistently, except for one dreadful period, from the early ‘twenties until 1939. He asserted that the progress that had been made during that period had represented the most remarkable improvement in any country. He described it as having been unparalleled in history. During the most successful part of that era, the same parties as now govern the country were in power. Honorable members of the Opposition know that, under the administration of this Government, they will be allowed to exercise their full rights as members of the National Parliament. Mr. Speaker has laid down his dictum concerning the conduct of the affairs of this House. I also wish to express my intention to carry out my share of the work of this Parliament with sincerity and decorum. We all should realize that tHe hopes and the fears of the people of Australia are completely involved in our work.
I propose to discuss now what I have seen of the Opposition at work in this chamber. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) is a gentleman for whom I have great respect. He has always brought dignity and courtesy to the work of this House. However, he adopted a very negative policy at the recent election, and his party was defeated as a result. I have a profound dislike for his philosophies, but he has impressed me with the idea that, in his opinion, nobody could succeed where he had failed. T listened with very mixed feelings to the speech made by the honorable member foi’ Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) earlier in the debate. As a party man, the fact that his fulminations were broadcast throughout the nation filled me with intense satisfaction. I knew that he was doing irreparable harm to his own party. The address was more suitable to a mob than to a national parliament, and I was dismayed by his conception of the duties of the Opposition. His first point is one that has been raised by every member of the Opposition. It related to the falling value of the fi. He made a great song and dance about that. In the policy speech of the Leader of the Opposition not one word was said about the falling purchasing power of the Australian fi, yet every Opposition speaker has mentioned it. I can think of three reasons why the Leader of the Opposition omitted to mention it. First, his Government was not aware of it ; secondly, if they were aware of it, they had no remedy; and, thirdly, it was deliberately omitted to mislead the people. It must be plain to every economist that inflation can lead to a greater disaster than a depression. If inflation had remained unchecked the economic position of Australia would have become chaotic. A state of emergency would have occurred which would have led to the seizing of arbitrary powers by the Government. The establishment of a socialist state could then have ensued. All honorable members who support this Government entered the election with great misgivings. They felt that if they did not win, it was doubtful whether there would be any more free elections.
The honorable member for Melbourne divided the members of this House into capitalists and workers. _ I suggest that that was first-class political humbug. He said that the rich have no interest in the falling value of the fi. But how can the rich remain rich if the value of their money decreases? The prosperity of this country depends on the maintenance of the purchasing power of the people, but an unemployed person has no purchasing power. It is recognized by every Government supporter that unemployment is one of the greatest social evils of our time, and we intend to prevent that ugly spectre from again stalking the land. The honorable member for Melbourne is considered to be a likely candidate for the office of Prime Minister in the next socialist government if the present Leader of the Opposition is too old when such a time arrives. He is a brilliant debater, and, as a party man, I enjoyed his speech; but as a member of this House I was filled with dismay. This chamber owes a small measure of gratitude to the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). He said that the Chifley Government had handed overfull coffers and a sound financial structureto the present Government. In his nextbreath he demanded immediate improvement by this Government of the lot of the pensioners. That is also in contrast with the boast by the Leader of the Opposition in his policy speech about the work his Government had done for pensioners. I remind the House also of the lamentations of a labour senator from Tasmania who did not secure re-election. He said that the Labour Government had been too mean towards the pensioners and ex-servicemen. The House can put its own construction on what is behind those remarks.
Naturally I listened with great interest to the speech of the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Gordon Anderson). He often spoke from a merely sectional point of view, but I Relieve that, as his mind becomes broadened by service in this House, we shall find him a worthy opponent. He spoke of the struggle of men and women on the land under primitive conditions in the early days. He said, that they succeeded through hard work and were entitled to modern amenities. Success depends on hard work and no man can expect to improve his lot unless he is prepared to work hard. The honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) asked a day or so ago whether the reserve stocks of petrol for defence were secure and he painted an ugly picture, of the assaults that our reserves were being exposed to. If he is so. concerned about reserves he should support the efforts of this Government to build up defence stocks of coal and to implement its declared policy on military training. Petrol will not save the nation unless other action is also taken. The honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) said that the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) was confused in his thinking and he accused the wartime Opposition parties of muddled thinking during the war. He also said that he was not afraid of socialism even though he had heard it said that a socialist state would take the houses from the people. Of course he is not afraid. He is pledged to socialism. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar) asked the people to forget classconsciousness and said that there should be no such thing in Australia. He said that it did not come over from the old world and it was an issue raised by Communists and agitators to create disunity in our nation. There should be no classconscious feeling in Australia.
The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) made a thoughtful and constructive speech. He took the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) to task for his attitude- on the proposed banning of Communists. But surely it will be admitted that there must be some discipline in a democracy and that unbridled licence cannot be allowed. The Government which the honorable gentleman supported banned Communists from the rocket range. That must have been done because the Government did not trust them and believed that they could be treacherous. It is not correct to define democracy in terms of complete freedom. I am democratic, hut I do not recognize the right of Communists to exist in a democracy. The honorable member quoted from figures prepared by statisticians to show that industrial output had increased by 9 per cent, in the last year. Output may have increased in certain industries, but it has not increased in the basic coal and steel industries. The honorable member quoted figures which fitted his arguments. He said that during the time the Chifley Government had been in office the people’s savings had increased from £200,000,000 to £800,000,000. If that increased wealth belonged to capitalists, surely the Chifley Government was indifferent towards the workers. The conditions of all workers have improved tremendously. In a democracy the three forces which affect -the national economy are capital, labour :and management. Each of those forces is entitled to its just reward and the favoring of any one of them at the expense of the others is wrong. Until we evolve a form of co-operative capitalism strikes and industrial troubles will continue. If a just understanding can be reached by the three forces to which I have referred many of our social problems will be solved.
The electors in my electorate have fulfilled their part of the social contract during the last few years. They have provided wheat, wool, meat and a thousand other commodities. They have fulfilled their contracts under grim conditions of shortages of labour and materials. They have lacked such conveniences of civilized life as electricity, water and good roads, but nevertheless they have fulfilled their obligations. Because of the deficiencies from which they have suffered under the previous administration they have sent me here to implement the policy that this Government submitted to them on the hustings. They have expressed fears for our defences and fear of the consequences of continuing to give the Communists the immunity that that political group enjoys to-day. If I have been somewhat critical in my maiden speech, I assure honorable members that my intention was only to initiate a constructive debate on national problems. This country was preserved at the cost of great sacrifice of life. Because of that sacrifice, the people of Australia are deserving of a Government which concerns itself with national and not party issues. The present Government is blessed with some of the most able leaders to be found in any country of the world. They will give Australia fair and just government that will promote the welfare of all sections of the community. The Government is entitled to receive the co-operation of every one. I feel sure that I am voicing the opinion of all those who support the Government when I say that we shall welcome constructive criticism from the Opposition, but I do not think that the Government is in the mood to accept an undemocratic and partisan attitude on the part of Opposition members. This is a strong Government, and it will see that the will of the people prevails.
.- 1 listened with great interest and attention to the honorable and gallant member for Hume (Mr. Charles Anderson), who, in his maiden speech, expressed his point of view on many subjects. Like a good soldier, he marshalled his arguments, and although he criticized the Opposition, his contribution to the debate was of value. I express my pleasure in his speech, although the presence of the honorable member in this chamber has robbed us of a well-beloved comrade in a political sense. I do not agree with him on the reasons for the defeat of the Labour Government. The Labour party does not believe in post-mortems, and I am not concerned with the arguments about whether this or that cause was responsible for our defeat. I fall back on the words of the sage who calls himself G. B. Shaw and, through him, I give my version of the cause of our defeat. He once said -
The real use of votes for everybody is to prevent us from being governed better than we can bear.
There is much in that statement if we take the time to examine it.
Since I have been paying my tribute to the honorable member for Hume, and, in a general sense, to new members on both sides of the House, I take this opportunity to refer to you, Mr. Speaker, and to the ;post of dignity that you occupy. Having listened to your scriptural references when you were elected I was all the more interested to note how the Scotch bramble, a thorny one, you will admit, was blown to the foot of the chair. Your speech of acceptance was sincere, and in the highest traditions of the House of Commons, and the practices of this House. When you quoted scripture I was almost impelled to rise to my feet, and say -
Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips;
I hope that that grace abounding will flow to both sides of the House. I can say that, up to the present, we are entirely satisfied.
I now turn to the matter under discussion at the moment which is the rather arid document that has been placed before us for consideration. This, Mr. Speaker, is amateur night when there is no broadcast. When there is no multiple ear of the community listening to our heart-beats, we may speak freely to one another, and trust to my colleagues of the press to give us adequatereport. Having looked through theSpeech of the Governor-General, which, was delivered with dignity, and which carried the message of our Sovereign, now restored to health, we find in it thespecifications and forecast of legislation later to be introduced. To adapt a scriptural reference this time it might be said’ that this is not the word, but is something that goes before the word. The Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) will give usthe word about June of this year. When we look through the list of promises, evasions and conclusions placed before us by the representative of theSovereign, we come first to the subject of foreign affairs. When the Labourparty was in power, the custom of theOpposition was to assail the then. Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) on the ground of his frequent absences from this House. In. fact, that was the theme song of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who is now, by a turn of thewheel, himself Minister for External Affairs. While the former Minister for External Affairs was abroad on affairs of state, the honorable member for Warringah was absent in Sydney on affairs of business. We pointed that out at the time, not with malice, but just in order to keep the record straight. When ihe Liberal government took over, we expected some change of heart, but the new Minister for External Affairs heat the gun, and broke all records. Within seven days of the Cabinet being sworn in, he was a-wing. Very shortly he was in Colombo, having dropped in on Indonesia on the way to confer about the prospects of getting petrol. While abroad, he went from strength to strength, and returned to Australia eventually a good deal later than was expected. Since the right honorable member for Barton was criticized °o repeatedly for no other reason than his absences abroad, we thought that the new Minister for External Affairs would have allowed a decent interval to elapse before he himself went overseas. No so, however. We was hungry for the plaudits. As the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) said, we were presented with a new figure, the colossus of Colombo. The Minister for External Affairs dealt freely in diplomatic double :talk at this conference. He said that Australia was a Pacific nation and an Asian country. The important thing from our point of view is to know whether we are a protected country. Have we -tied ourselves closely enough to GreatBritain or the United States of America to ensure our national safety? With all his double talk, the Minister fooled no one but himself, and as a reward he was not even allowed to look on the sacred tooth of Buddha at the end of the conference, a privilege reserved for more experienced diplomats who shouldered him out of the way. I had thought that some new concept of foreign affairs would emerge from the fact that the honorable member for Warringah now had the opportunity to direct our foreign policy. Fortunately, he is walking the well-trodden path of his predecessor in office, and enjoying the benefits of protocol, ritual and procedure established by the previous Minister. Soon we are to have a debate on foreign affairs, when the tablets of the law according to St. Percival will be placed on the table of the House. At this stage, I merely point out that the Minister has not made ia very good beginning. He must come to earth, and tell us something more definite than is contained in his statements about -our position in the world, the threat that faces us, and the need to get closer to countries stronger than our own. We must be told the sober facts, even dangerous facts, if we are to follow the line of safety pointed out to us by the former Minister for External Affairs. To-day, that right honorable gentleman stands as an international figure, and honorable members on both sides of the House, whatever their personal feelings or politics, will agree that he is an Australian who has distinguished himself -and who, in doing so, has earned distinction for the nation he adorns. The subject of our foreign policy can be dealt with quickly at this stage because, in fairness .to the Minister, it must be pointed out that he has not yet made a statement on the subject. We can return to the matter at a future, and perhaps, noisier occasion.
I was amazed to hear the announcement about the juggling of portfolios in connexion with housing and development. The right honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Casey) is to be the Minister for National Development. He is at present Minister for Works and Housing. In the course of this debate, statements have been made about the sweeping change* that are to be effected in regard to housing. If ever there were guilty men in Australia so far as housing is concerned, they are the members of the Liberal party, whether they called their party the United Australia party or the Liberal party, whether they were hiding under this alias or that. During the depression, they are the men who created our slums, yet now they come stumbling forward when the Labour party’s housing programme has been half completed, to pay lip-service to the cause of good housing. On the 15th August, 1934, the then United Australia party Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, delivering his policy speech at Randwick, gave the glad tidings that £10,000,000 was to be expended on housing projects. Whether be or his publicity officer, who wrote the speech for him, was responsible for the statement, it concluded with a gem. I was sitting in the audience at the time, because I was a social worker, and I heard with some pleasure the statement about housing. This is what Mr. Lyons said -
I want to give them sunlight where there has been darkness - comfort where there has been squalor.
The United Australia party was duly returned to power. They gave us nothing because they had nothing to give. They sheltered behind the provisions of the Constitution which, they said, prevented the Government from acting. Much was said during the last election campaign about the sacredness of promises. Well, the Liberal party promised petrol for pillion-riding playboys, and that promise has been duly honoured, but the promise in regard to housing was dishonoured then, and will be dishonoured again. If it was impossible under the Constitution for the Commonwealth to provide houses for the people, that fact must have been known to those who made the promise. - The United Australia party
Government did nothing to provide houses, although at that time there was no shortage of man-power or materials. There were plenty of skilled workmen looking for employment, but the provision of houses was beyond the wit or will of the United Australia party, the party that was known in those days as the “ Unemployment and Poverty “ party.
I am unimpressed by the vague promises of the Government to co-operate strenuously with the States in the building of houses. One of the most difficult tasks that confronted the Labour Government was to apportion labour and materials, both of which were scarce, in such a way as to get as many houses built as possible. So much needed to be done at the same time, but the Labour Government, in spite of the difficulties which confronted it,’ did valiantly and well. Large sums of money were poured out by the Treasury under the supervision of the present Leader of the Opposition. There was nothing niggardly about the support given by the Labour Government to the States under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreements. The whole of the landscape of Australia is dotted with new houses. If honorable members take n car ride in any capital city they will see new houses going up under their eyes. The demand still exists. The rapid expansion of home-building has been made possible because for the first time in our history an Australian government, and a socialist government at that, dared to defy the jerry builder who wanted to build twenty houses on a miserable acre of land and wanted to double the number of poor people in the slums of Sydney and elsewhere. There is an old outmoded slogan that when the building trade is active every one is prosperous. The answer to that slogan is that the people must have become prosperous before they could start to build. When we occupied the treasury bench we made the people prosperous. Full employment is the answer to almost all our problems. The bottleneck of material shortage no longer exists and in the course of years we shall remove the blight of slums that were created by this monstrous thing called free enterprise which “hides under a new disguise. Sydney is a disgraceful city because the slum makers changed the cart tracks that went over the hills into the forests and built houses that clung to the footpath in fear lest they might give another yard of land to a worker’s family. Every city in the world has the same blight upon it. No matter how much the Opposition may give lip service-
– The Opposition ! Hear,, hear !
– The honorable member must excuse me. My difficulty in realizing where I stand will be rapidly overcome. I had intended, of course, to refer to the Government. Its attitude to housing is to be found in the same gaggle of words, the same double talk as we have in the Governor-General’s Speech relating to foreign affairs. Providing hungry and homeless people with slogans is the common practice of honorable members opposite whether they be in Opposition or in control of the treasury bench. It was, I think, the present Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) who said that ], 000,000 homes would be built for 2.000,000 souls. What a contemptible slogan ! People cannot sleep safely at night under slogans no matter who may create them. The pitiful thing is that there is no truth in the story told by honor.orable members opposite, but they repeat it now as they have done before. I hope that the present Government will at least adhere to the plans for the housing of the people that were made by the previous Government. I conclude on this subject by saying that the Labour Government, whatever may have been its faults, has some proud boasts, and one of them is that it has never built a slum. The slum is the monument to free enterprise. Substandard housing is a test that the Liberals will never be able to stand. The reason is not difficult to find. Many Liberals believe in unplanned speculation - so many houses to the acre, the ugly suburb, the treeless street, and people piled together. By contrast, so generous was the New South Wales Labour Government that it appointed Mr. Tate, who is now a Liberal senator, to control regional planning in the County of Cumberland. Councillor Munro condemned his efforts, lock, stock and barrel. Mr. Tate struck most of ‘his trouble from the jerrybuilders and the real estate agents who support the Liberal party, who do not want their rackets upset. In despair Mr. Tate has now come into politics. If honorable members opposite do not believe what I have said to be true I invite them to read in the Sydney press the strictures applied to the jerrybuilders and real estate agents by that gentleman who now sits cheek and jowl with Liberal senators in another place. Supporters of the Liberal party cannot agree among themselves. The gentleman to whom I have referred, after having been appointed by the New South Wales Government as a regional planner, has given up the job in despair and has come into the Senate as a representative of the Liberal party. The real estate agent and the jerrybuilder drove him out of his job. There is no ready road for the building of houses and the establishment of decent conditions for our people. Let us consider a whimsical voice from the past on this subject. I find in my notes on housing that the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), speaking at Chatswood, said -
Our people deserve a place in the sun. The home is the mould in which character is formed.
The right honorable gentleman then went back to his palatial house in Lindfield and the £10,000,000 housing scheme about which he had spoken so glowingly did not eventuate. The late Mr. Lyons, speaking at Randwick on the 15th August, 1934, said -
I want to give them sunlight where there has been darkness - comfort where there has been squalor.
The answer to that promise is to be found in the record of his Government, which is a very ugly one. The Government might take heart from the performance of the Opposition while it held the reins of office. It may take heart from the work done by the former Minister for Works and Housing in the Chifley Administration, Mr. Lemmon, who, unhappily, is no longer in this House. That young man gave everything he had in the performance of his task. He probably lost his seat because he devoted too much time to the duties of his office and too little time to the cozening of his constituents in Forrest. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech contains a broad statement on the subject of immigration.
I should like to see immigration lifted above party politics altogether.
– Hear, hear!
– As the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has cheered me, I fear that I must have said something wrong. By strong representation or in some other way we should be able to lift immigration, repatriation and, perhaps, other problems that confront us out of the field of party politics and concentrate on the implementation of a common policy. I note with great pleasure that, the new Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) is following broadly the plans that were laid down by the former Minister for Immigration in the Chifley Administration, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). No matter how honorable members opposite may attempt to belittle the work of that honorable gentleman, who was our first Minister for Immigration, it. cannot be denied that it stands as one of the great achievements of this country and as a great, piece of physical endurance. I am well aware of the work that the honorable gentleman put into his task, because I was his assistant on a council which did exploratory work in Europe in connexion with immigration. The honorable gentleman miraculously conjured up ships on the sea and accomplished a great task generally. Our planned migration scheme is solely the work of this one man with experience and ideals. That the Opposition has followed his migration plan is an excellent tribute to the honorable gentleman. I believe that the present Minister for Immigration will make a success of his task. The honorable gentleman is one of the more pleasant members of the Government. Feelings of friendship die hard in this place where most things eventually die. In the planning of our immigration scheme we must not be obsessed with numbers.
One thing that I fear is that the new Government will not be able to control the 200,000 citizens who will come from overseas to this country every year. Honorable members opposite should not lose sight of the importance of assessing the capacity of this country to absorb new citizens and of profiting by the lessons that history has taught us. It is all very well to talk loosely about the great American experiment when people tumbled into the American continent, but a close analysis of the American story shows that it was a sad one. There were hard practices, despair and exploitation of men who wanted to live only on a subsistence level. That, I trust, will never happen here under any government. In dealing with immigration, all governments should remember that it is a delicate matter, and that the history of immigration in this country has not been a happy one. Che hit-and-miss idea of putting people on a ship and bringing them here will no longer serve. It would be desperately dangerous if we did not examine the measure of our capacity to absorb them. We talk about the things that are to be done in this field and of the workers who are to come here, but we must not forget that it has been said by immigration experts that the maximum intake that can be efficiently absorbed into any community represents only 2 per cent, of the population. That estimate, of course, takes into consideration the natural increase in the population. On that basis an intake of 100,000 migrants would constitute the absolute limit to which this country could go. The honorable member for Melbourne does not agree with me on that point. With due humility I take the liberty of disagreeing with him.
Immigration is so important that it transcends most other considerations. We should not be maddened by targets or tickled by statements relating to yet another shipment of new Australians. If we are to bed them down in our economy and make them true Australians it is not so much a question of numbers as of efficiency and quality. We must not over-exaggerate the angle of numbers. Another serious point to which the Government will have to apply itself is the process of assimilation of new Australians into our community. Many men adhere to any migration policy because their ladies hope that it will mean more domestic servants. Others do so because they believe that a labour surplus would be the jolly thing that it was for them in the old days. Still others believe that perhaps as the result of the influx of Europeans we may be able to enjoy continental cooking. Thesubject is much more serious than that. We are dealing with human lives and with people who have been bruised and’ broken in captivity in Nazi camps or under the heel of Stalinist tyranny. Weexpect the people who come here tcworship our democratic gods from the time they leave the migrant ships. We must remember that at themoment the immigration scheme embodies Christian ethics as well as good politics, and we should continue to apply those principles. We must consider to what extent the trade unions will stand up to man-power saturation. The unions have fought for our standards which comparefavorably with the best in the world. Those standards will not be altered.
I do not say that I believe that ; here is merit in the attitude of the Communistdominated unions that control thesteel and coal industries. “Upon those industries our future depends. Theyare the keystone of our development. It is more a question of union membership. The former Minister for Immigration did yeoman work with the Federated Ironworkers Association and other industrial organizations, and the present Ministeris also in treaty with them about thesematters. The target figure for migrantsentering Australia is not very important. What does it matter it this countryachieves 10,000,000 of population this year, next year, or the followingyear, provided that it gets properly fitted, properly conditioned, properly trained and properly re-educated migrants who will be happy and useful to this community? Theharvest of migration comes in the second or third generation, when this country is entirely changed, added$ to and’ developed by the Australianism that grows slowly upon the newcomers. Themeasure of their Australianism is the measure of decency and good fellowshipthat we extend to them. If, sometimes,, they flood ‘into the cities, that may be the fault of our planning. The planning committee instituted by the former Minister for Immigration, if persevered with, will achieve great results in due course.
It has always been a great pleasure tome to work in the migration field, and
I have always felt that the only way in which the task may be approached is on the broadest principles of Australianism. That is why I think that the higher aspects of migration can he lifted above party politics. However, I issue the warning that the trade unions are not so foolish as to let their ranks be saturated with what may later become surplus hi bour. They must ensure, as the employer himself recognizes, that the migrant labour is deployed of necessity according to changing needs. Migrants must be held in camps, and in other areas set aside for them until the whole of the slack has been taken up. The problem is stupendous, and must be dealt with on the highest level. With those remarks, I leave the subject of migration for the time being.
Communism presents a very vexed problem. To ban or not to ban the Communist party will be the subject of ranch debate during the present session of the Parliament. Various prominent Australians have changed their minds about the proposal to ban the Communist party and the minds of many other people are still in a state of flux about the matter. Honorable members will recall the pronouncement that the Leader of the Opposition (M’r. Chifley) has made upon the proposal, and last night the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), who is a practising unionist and who, for many years, has been associated with the Australian Council of Trades Unions, believes that it would be bad to drive the Communists underground. That view is entirely acceptable to me. Until recently, the same view was acceptable to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is reported in Hansard as having made the following statement on the 15th May, 1947 :-
One reason why I ha ve repeatedly expressed the view that these people should he dealt with in the open is that I have complete confidence in the basic sanity of our own people.
Since the last election campaign, the right honorable gentleman appears to have lost complete confidence in the basic sanity of our own people. The Government has announced its intention to ban the Communist party. That announcement followed a. promise that was made or political pressure that was applied. I believe that the Prime Minister is a liberal in the strongest sense of the term, and I feel, although it is only my personal impression, that he has not changed his views about banning the Communist party. Evidently his views have been changed for him. Members of the Labour party do not express with any great delight the opinion that the “ Corns “ should be permitted to remain in the open. We do not intend to allow them to get away with anything. The sharp lesson which was given to us during the coal strike last year has not been forgotten. On that occasion, the Communists intended to hold the nation to ransom, and the conspiracies which were revealed were more startling than most people, including myself, had thought they could be. However, my personal experiences on the coal-fields at that time have shown me how deep and penetrating is the subversive activity of the Communists. Therefore, we do not toss the matter aside lightly and say, in effect, “ We do not believe in banning the ‘ Corns ‘ now that we are in Opposition “. During the election campaign, we consistently expressed the same opinion, and for years, the Leader of the Labour party has adopted a similar attitude. However, this Government has decided to ban the Communist party.
What is the true significance of the little word “ban”? If the Communist is to be stripped of his name, if he is to be deprived of his official position in trade unions, if his papers are to be destroyed and if he is to be hidden from the world, the Government will present the greatest underground movement in the world with an opportunity for developing an underground movement in this country. An even more important point than that, in my opinion, is that democracy should not be degraded as the result of any action that is taken against the Communists. If we break the ethical, the democratic and the Christian principles of the western democracies - and I include the Socialist philosophy of the western democracies, in which I am a believer - we shall destroy democracy itself. The Government’s proposal is the first step in whittling down democracy. The “ Corns “ are watching closely to see what the Government does. They want the Government to give effect to its policy in this matter, so that they will be able to claim that it has moved to the totalitarian and authoritarian side. Then they will shout our action to the world. The Government intends to make a pronouncement against the Communists, but demo.cracy implies the right of free assembly.
We preached and saluted the Four Freedoms when they were enunciated by the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Winston Churchill, and the then President of the United States of America, the late Franklin D. Roosevelt. That was not an empty gesture. The Government’s proposal should receive intense thought, and, having applied ourselves to that thought, we on this side of the House believe that the Leader of the Opposition is right wheal he says, in effect, “ Put the Communists in their uniform. March them in front of you. Lead them in the open, and deal with them “. If this Government is afraid to deal with them, we shall continue the war of attrition against them when we return to the treasury bench in due course. The war of attrition is not easy, and it is slow, but then, democracy itself is slow of movement. Reference has already been made to the changing circumstances which place one political party in office and another political party out of office. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for its courtesy in permitting me to continue my speech. I have taken longer than I had expected.
I shall now refer to the proposed call-up of young Australians for compulsory military training. I should like to know whether the responsible members of the Government realize what they are proposing to do in respect of this selective call-up of men from industry. Migrants are tumbling into this country at the rate of hundreds of thousands a year. Industry has just been re-geared after a long war, and is screaming for man-power. Immigration is the answer to our manpower shortage. Under the previous Government’s plans for post-war reconstruction, technicians have been trained and cadets are being trained to take their place in industry. According to statistics compiled last November, there are 1,810,600 males of all ages employed in industry. Even if many of those men are called up for compulsory military training, we shall not have a force of any significance compared with the “ H “ bomb and the atomic bomb. Last year, the then Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), and the former Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) discussed world strategy with British and American authorities and the position of Australia was considered in relation to over all defence. However, the present Government proposes to resort to the old fashioned, outdated, outmoded and tawdry idea of calling up young men for compulsory military training. Where does the Government propose to accommodate them? Nearly every house in the Commonwealth is overcrowded. Many dwellings are occupied by two or three families. Every drill hall is used a.« a store house and every empty shed is occupied by some one who is making plenty of money in these piping days of peace. There is not a shady tree to shelter them, but the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) has asked the “ brass hats “ to formulate a plan for the call-up. It is scandalous to refer that matter to officers who are accustomed to refer to soldiers as “ bodies “. I have respect for the general staff and the permanent soldier, but I have no respect for the demands of the military in these matters.
Every organization naturally wants to increase establishments, because in that direction lie promotion, preference and even knighthood. Those personal ambitions should not be realized at the expense of the youth of the country and the young workers in factories. Military training cannot be carried out effectively under a hotch-potch, selective system which may determine that one industry shall have plenty of man-power and that the youthful employees from another industry shall be ordered to Puckapunyal, Liverpool or Ingleburn camps. If we accept the theory that a call-up for compulsory military training is outmoded, we must come to the conclusion that this section of the Government’s statement of objectives is quite out of order. The answer to this proposal should be its deferment for at least five years. The real answer to our defence problem was given years ago by the then Prime Minister, the late Mr. Curtin, who said, in effect, “ Increase the Royal Australian Air force “. We should remember that when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an era was blown to pieces. I refer to the era of the marching soldier armed with the bayonet. It may be that the soldier will be useful to provide occupation forces, and for mopping up operations, but the awful atomic weapon melts the elements that compose the human being and may, by chain reaction, destroy the whole of civilization. Are we not poking out our tongues in the faces of others when we decide, at this late hour, that the boys in the factories and others leaving school shall be called up for compulsory military training? I agree that honorable members opposite plugged for the introduction of compulsory military training at the last election, and they were backed vociferously by those people who returned the Liberal party and the Australian Country party to office.
We could admit, in fairness, that the Government has received a mandate to introduce compulsory military training, but the Government and the people should have a second thought about the stupidity of the proposed callup.. Our population is approximately S,000,000, and ranged to the north of us are 80,000,000 Indonesians, ‘ and 1,000,000,000 Asiatics to the East. If the answer is man-power, Australia has no answer. What is the attitude of the man in industry to the proposed call-up? His view may be stated as follows : - “ If I am called up for seventeen weeks’ training, what is the position of unnaturalized Baits, Latvians and other new Australians? I have no objection to serving my country if I am called upon to do so, but will a new Australian get my job ? “ The Government, must answer that question before it will receive support from many Australian people relative to the call-up. I believe that the decision to re-introduce compulsory military training is another instance of pressure politics, to which the Prime Minister has yielded too quickly. Members of the Labour party are accused of being sentimental, and unrealistic about national defence. The answer to that charge is that, when the realistic and militaristic members of the Liberal party were handed the reins of government during World War II., those reins became slack, and- the government of the day could not produce a maximum war effort. Even if the three political parties in this chamber hold divergent opinions about what to do, honorable members .opposite should not utter the gibe that members of the Labour party are unaware of their responsibilities relative to defence. History has proved otherwise. The proposed call-up is irrational. It has not been planned, and it does not fit in anywhere. The call-up will reduce thepulse beat of the industrial effort of this country, and perhaps will stop it. If young Australians are called up from the factories, presumably the new arrivals in this country will be used in industry in their places and will remain at home while our men are on military manoeuvres. Should war break out, a similar position will develop. Therefore, we are on the horns of an intolerable dilemma, to which the call-up is not the answer.
I am sure that I have exhausted the patience of the House. Honorable members opposite greet that statement with approval, but before I conclude, I shall refer to a matter which, is- more important than they may think. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Charles Anderson) appealed to us to forget class consciousness. May I remind him of the assembly here last Wednesday when His Excellency the Governor-General opened the new Parliament. There was an eruption of striped trousers, cutaway coats, violet waistcoats and all the mummery of Pall Mall against a background of opossums at Ainslie and gum trees trembling with laughter. The honorable member asked us to forget class consciousness. What was the Government trying to bring before the startled eyes of Labourites last Wednesday? Did the Government want us to retaliate by producing our worthy bowyangs, or was the exhibition just a little excess of snobbery instead of what used to be very orderly proceedings. I am a comparatively newcomer to this House. I have survived two openings of the Parliament, and I thought that the previous ceremonies seemed to proceed quite normally and with respectful dignity. The spectacle of overdressing that we witnessed last Wednesday seemed to emphasize class consciousness. I must say that I was given some severe shocks upon the steps of the House when two honorable gentlemen arrived from South Australia, top-hatted, frock-coated, austere and solemn, and moved upon me. I thought, “ In the midst of life, there still is death “. Surely, if the Camerons came for the Crown, the McLeays came for the body.
.- The subject of defence, to which reference was made in His Excellency’s Speech, is of basic and paramount importance. It is not of much use our considering how we are going to better the conditions of our people or make them happier or house them or do anything else for them if we are unable to hold our country should some aggressor try to take it from us and force on us a .changed method of living whether we like it or not. I am not forecasting war. Those of us who have served in the last two wars pray very sincerely that neither this country nor any other country will again be devastated by such a catastrophe, but we need to be realistic on these matters. The world is’ rapidly becoming overcrowded with hungry people. It is roughly true that the population of the world has increased about fourfold in the last 250 or 300 years. Therefore we cannot blame the teeming millions of people who are our neighbours if they look at our country with a certain amount of envy. It is not impossible that at some time, in the very distant future I hope, they may feel that, for purposes of self-preservation, they must help themselves to the open spaces which we have not yet cultivated. The very basis of the successful defence of this country is population, and we must populate the country as quickly as we can with the right type of people and we must develop our resources to the maximum extent.
The general trend of world events does not inspire a great deal of confidence in the common sense of the world. Catastrophic events can he caused by some quite minor incident. So we must be realistic in our approach to the subject of defence. Whether we like it or not, we must realize that we are under an obligation to defend our country. There is no disgrace in inability to defend our country, but there is sad disgrace in an unwillingness to defend it. I do not believe that the men and women of Australia will allow themselves to suffer such a disgrace. It is quite clear that, with our present population and resources, we cannot defend our country unaided. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has made that point and I concur in it. Such a defence force as we could produce on our own initiative and resources would probably be quite inadequate against a determined enemy. Therefore, we must rely, in an emergency, on the help of our friends. Our friends, of course, are the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and those other nations of the world which value democracy and which hold ideals that are similar to our own. But we cannot expect our friends to come to our help unless we show a willingness to help ourselves. Our very self-respect demands that we show that willingness. It therefore appears that our major defence problems are, first, whether defence is practicable; secondly, whether we can undertake the task that our defence forces would be likely to have to face; and, thirdly, whether our resources are sufficient to enable us to establish and maintain a defence force equal to its task. In defence, as in every other aspect of human endeavour, anything less than adequacy is sheer waste.
The best indication of our intention to help ourselves is obviously the intention to introduce some form of national service. Other countries have not buried their heads in the sand. National military service is obligatory in Great Britain and in New Zealand. Why is it our privilege to suppose that there is some special providence which will look after us without our making any provision for ourselves? We must be realistic. One of the primary reasons why we should introduce national service in this country is to demonstrate to our friends, on whom we may need to rely, our sincerity and our determination to help ourselves in an emergency. Only so can we, with self respect, expect them to come to our assistance. I believe that there are few surer ways of killing men than by sending them into battle untrained. Those members of this House who served in the two world wars will agree wholeheartedly with that statement. Those who oppose national training in peacetime cannot be absolved from responsibility for heavy casualties in war. It is dangerous to forecast what the next war will be like,- but it is probable that there will not be time, after a declaration of war, if indeed there will be any such declaration, to reorganize our resources, mobilize our man-power and, in a leisurely sort of way, prepare for the onslaught. The next war is likely to he one of surprises, and is likely to come unheralded. Therefore, I feel that, profiting by the lessons of the last war, we must be prepared, in peace-time, to the maximum possible degree, to fight a war with a minimum of reorganization.
As a new member, I resolved that as far as possible I would not be provocative in my remarks, but yesterday the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths), ;ind to-day the honorable member for Parkes made statements which I cannot let pass without challenge. Both those honorable gentlemen said, in effect, that in the early stages of the 1939-45 war the Liberal Government that was in office was so neglectful and incompetent that after two years of preparation they had made no progress or had made only insignificant progress in planning and gearing the nation to meet the emergency, and that it was only when the Labour Government took over that it was possible to get the country geared up to meet the threat. Nothing could be further from the truth. I make that statement with confidence, because I was in a position in which I had access to first-hand information. At that time I was Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, and I was privileged to attend many meetings of the War Cabinet, many meetings of the Defence Committee, and many meetings of the Chiefs of Staff. I therefore knew, at first hand, the details of the preparations made by the Menzies Government that was in office at that time. If the records are searched it will be found that very few, if any, pieces of major equipment which were produced during the war and which came off the work benches during the regime of the Curtin Administration, were not the result of careful planning during the reorganization period when the right honorable member for Kooyong (Mr. Menzies) was Prime Minister. It was during the period of preliminary reorganization instituted by the Menzies Government that the Empire air training scheme was inaugurated. The foundation was laid also for the production of field pieces and aircraft. The foundation for all subsequent production was the result of the work of the Liberal Government in the first two years of war. If the late Mr. John Curtin were here now, he would be the first to deny indignantly the statements of the honorable member for Parkes and the honorable member for Shortland.
In any future war, we shall not have a breathing space in which to pull up our socks, as it were, look around, reorganize ourselves, and change the ordinary ways of peace-time to meet war-time conditions. As it is likely that war will come swiftly and without warning it seems reasonable that in peace-time we should organize our defences in a form that will be most suitable for war. One striking experience in World War II. was that it became necessary sooner or later in every major theatre of war to set up a unified command with a supreme commander who was responsible for the conduct of operations within his own area of responsibility. That necessity arose because methods of waging war had become more rapid and decisions had to be made more quickly. Clearly, the lesson to be learned from those war experiences is that, if we are to prepare in peace time an organization suitable for war, we must unify our administrative and command system to the maximum degree below the level of cabinet. Therefore I suggest that, as a matter of urgency, we must discard the three autonomous services as they exist to-day and constitute an integrated defence force composed of three arms of defence - naval, land, and air - under a single Minister solely responsible to the Cabinet for the political and administrative control of that force. That proposal may appear to be revolutionary, but we must be realistic in our outlook. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) should have three assistant Ministers in charge of the three arms of the service, each responsible only to him and not, as at present, responsible in their several tasks separately to the Cabinet. That system would satisfy the principle of unity which, I believe would be all-important in any future war.
The present defence system on the administrative and political side goes a little way towards meeting the requirements that I have stated, because we have a Department of Defence which is charged with the function of co-ordinating the activities of the three autonomous defence services to the maximum degree possible. However, the Ministers in charge of the three services are responsible directly to the Cabinet for the conductof their respective departments, and that is not satisfactory under modern conditions. The arrangement violates the allimportant principle of unity of command. If those three Ministers were assistants to the Minister for Defence, they could still control the respective arms of an integrated defence force on the administrative side as they do now, but they would be responsible only to the Minister for Defence, who alone would be responsible to the Government. That system would not involve such a drastic practical change as might appear to be necessary at first sight. For example, I do not suggest that it would be necessary to discard the distinctive uniforms of the three services. There would not be any need to put all members of the forces in one kind of uniform. The British Army, for instance, uses different kinds of uniforms for different regiments. The uniforms, traditionsand customs of each service could well be retained without violating the principle of an integrated defence force. It should be readily appreciated that such a political and administrative organization would lend itself very readily to a unified military command. In other words, a supreme commander could easily fit into such a picture. I use the term “ supreme commander “ because it came into use during the recent war and most people understand that it implies an overall command of all forces in a particular theatre of war.
The appointment of a supreme commander would necessarily follow upon the unification of the defence forces, and his staff should be composed of staff officers from each of the three services. The principal staff officers could be those who are now described as the chiefs of staffs of the three services. It is essential that the supreme commander should not be loaded down with a great dealof detail; therefore, he should make a wide delegation of authority and powers to his three chief staff officers, who, in turn, could control their arms of the unified service much in the same way as they do to-day. The present system of committees under the defence organization would largely disappear, of course. There would be very little need for a defence committee, because the delegation of power by the Minister for Defence to his Assistant Ministers would be made upon a wide basis and the assistant Ministers would administer their respective departments in conformity with the policies and principles laid down by the Minister for Defence. The same idea would apply to the military staff organization. The supreme commander would expect his principal staff officers to carry out the military requirements of the three arms of the service under authority delegated by him. Higher strategy and major planning would remain a function of the Parliament, presumbly through a war cabinet. Administrative planning on the highest plane would remain a function of the Minister for Defence, in collaboration with the supreme commander Military planning by the supreme commander’s staff would be carried out after consultation with his field commanders, and the machinery required for that purpose would be much the same as it is now. Technical experts will immediately say that there might be difficulty in finding the right man for the post of supreme commander, and, up to a point,I agree that that would be a difficulty. Nevertheless I do not believe that the correct organization should be abandoned merely because we might not be able to find the ideal men to fill certain appointments. My experience has been that a commander of even mediocre ability will be much more successful if he has a good organization and a good staff, than will be a brilliant commander with a faulty organization and a poor staff. Therefore, I could not agree that there would be any justification for scrapping a valuable form of organization merely ‘because we could not find men perfectly equipped to fill the principal positions within it. This is a technical subject, and I fear that I may not have made my views entirely clear, but that is due to the fact that a subject of this character cannot be covered adequately in a short speech. It would be very difficult for me, in the time at my disposal, to deal with all the objections that might arise in the minds of my listeners. The various problems involved can be elucidated and resolved only by discussion. I firmly believe that we must have an adequate defence force with which to hold the fort against any surprise onslaught, until our friends can rally, deploy, and come to our assistance. Any force that can defend the country against such an attack until help reaches us will be adequate for our purposes. The only way to establish such a force is to unify the three existing services into an integrated whole under the political control of the Minister for Defence on the one hand, and under the military control of a supreme commander on the other hand. If we establish such an organization we shall have a reasonable chance of holding our country in the unfortunate event of an aggressor thinking that he can deprive ns of it.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) and other honorable members on both sides of the House who have made their maiden speeches. It is already apparent that their presence will be a valuable acquisition to the Parliament in the deliberations of national importance that will take place here. I also wish to congratulate His Excellency the Governor-General upon the manner in which he presented his address at the opening of the Nineteenth Parliament. He delivered it in a way that conformed with the high standards and ideals to which his predecessors in that high office adhered. His Excellency discharged his onerous task with great credit. The debate upon the Address-in-Reply to the
Governor-General’s Speech has been notable for many things so far. It has marked the election of a. Liberal, or banker’s, government, which reflects the weird and wonderful ways in which democracy sometimes works. We have in this Parliament to-day, for the first time in many years, a government representing vested interests. It is composed of the parties which, in pre-war years, represented in Australia all that was foreign to a decent standard of living and the general welfare of the people. It is unfortunate that, after Labour governments have built up an outstanding condition of prosperity, we should witness the resurrection of skeletons of the past to write fi. new and gloomy chapter in our national history that will do little credit to Australia.
The only bright ray of hope that I can see is the possibility that this Government will be able to build upon the sound basic structure that the Labour party has constructed. It will be able to take advantage of full employment and the high standard of our social services. A high rate of production and the prosperity enjoyed by the primary producers are other features of our national economy that were encouraged by the previous administration. Trade and commerce are flourishing and our financial structure is sound. These notable facts provide the Government with golden opportunities that were never available to previous administrations. So I say that the one hope for this country, having in mind the outworn policy and the scare campaign upon which the Government was elected, is that it will take advantage of the great opportunity given to it by the previous Labour Administration.
The Government professes great loyalty to the British Crown and to His Majesty the King. We all heard the sentiments expressed in His Excellency’s Speech relative to the Parliament and the people of Great Britain. No one in this House should forget, nor should the people outside, that many honorable members opposite give lip-service only to loyalty to the British Empire. We have witnessed the spectacle of one of the Government’s senior Ministers who was selected to represent Australia abroad - an outright political appointment, such as the previous Government was criticized for having made - offering a studied insult to the King’s representative in this country by refusing to accept a dinner invitation from His Excellency. That would be childish behaviour in any circumstances, but it is more serious when done by a senior Minister. The loyalty of many honorable members opposite to our kinsmen in Great Britain and the Empire is coloured by the nature of the Government in power in Great Britain. When it was a Tory Government those who now lead the destinies of this nation sold out Australia in order that they might worship at the feet of that administration, but now that a Labour government has been given a magnificent vote of confidence by the people of Great Britain, this Government refuses to co-operate with it. Honorable members who laugh at that statement are new to this chamber. They do not realize the significance of the voting in the recent British general elections. Honorable members opposite recently thought nothing of depriving the British people of food and capital goods that their welfare demanded that they should have, which could be bought with urgently needed dollars, in order to give more petrol to private motorists. They thought more of giving their wealthy supporters long-distance motoring than of putting another chop on the plates of the British workers. Irrespective of political consequences, the Labour party stood by a great principle on the subject of petrol rationing, and thought more of the welfare of the people of Great Britain than of the temporary political gain which it would have made by the abolition of petrol rationing. The Government lifted petrol rationing solely to embarrass the Labour Government in Great Britain on the eve of the British elections. Despite is 11 their talk about what they will do for Great Britain, we cannot be sure that they will not ultimately have a stand-up ‘fight with the leaders of that nation. There were many actions that were never contemplated by our administration because we knew that, as a partner in the Commonwealth of Nations, it was our responsibility to play our part in the post-war years in rebuilding a nation that had done a great deal for us in the dark days of the war when we needed assistance. When honorable members opposite talk of co-operation and of the necessity for it in industrial affairs, let them consider cooperating a little more with the people and the Government of Great Britain instead of putting their own political welfare in this country before the welfare of the British people generally, including the workers. Let them prove to the people of this country that they are sincere in their professions of co-operation. The people of this country may then follow their example.
The next matter that I shall deal with is the proposal to repeal the banking legislation that was introduced by a Labour government in days gone by. It is necessary that I should not sidestep what to every member of the Labour party is a fundamental factor in our support of the party. That is, that banking should be controlled in the public interest by the representatives of the people in the National Parliament. It was a Labour administration which reformed a banking institution set up in this country under Liberalism, or whatever name it was known by in those days. That reform was endorsed by the people at an election, and the institution so reformed has rendered great service by charging reduced rates of interest and by controlling the financial affairs of the country under the direction of the elected representative;-: of the people, instead of at the direction of a few persons who represent vested interests. When the question is one of mandate and the principles of the Labour movement, this party will fight tooth and nail to ensure that the Government shall not force through this chamber or the Senate any legislation that will prove detrimental to the people generally, particularly legislation in relation to banking which might mean the success or failure of this country as an economic unit. Many honorable members opposite who have indicated that they will force a double dissolution know full well that they were lucky to get the small majority that caused them to be elected to this House. The Opposition in another place will test the sincerity of their professions, and they will have an opportunity to stand by their high-sounding principles.
If your seats are likely to be endangered, we shall soon see whether you will jump at the crack of the whip of the banking interests that put you where you are. If you press forward with this legislation and force a further appeal to the people you undoubtedly will lose your seats.
– Order ! The honorable member will please address me instead of honorable gentlemen opposite.
M.r. DALY. - I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. All Australians should realize that a Government which risked so much to implement the bank nationalization measure in this country is not going to be put off by double dissolutions or threats of such things. The Labour party will see that its legislation shall remain intact so far as the general principle of the control of finance is concerned, and a real fight on that issue may be expected from all members on this side whenever an amending measure is introduced by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
I shall refer now to industrial relations. His Excellency’s Speech contains this paragraph -
Of vital importance to the general wellbeing of the people is the question of industrial relations between employer and employee. My Government is convinced that a rapid development of the Commonwealth depends largely on higher levels of production and, with thom, higher standards of living, on freedom from industrial disturbances, and on the fullest co-operation of both sides of industry. 1 read that statement having in mind the attitude of the members of the Government in this Parliament in recent years when the Chifley Government was engaged in a great struggle for humanity against the British Medical Association, which set itself up against the law of the land and against the will of the people expressed at a referendum. The British Medical Association openly defied the Government of that time as it is defying the present Government. I hope that the members of industrial organizations in this country will remember the attitude of the British Medical Association and that they will extend to the Government the same measure of co-operation as the British Medical Association gave to a duly elected Labour Government which had a mandate to introduce legislation which was fought by that association as well as by the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. This Government has no right or mandate to request industrial organizations to support it fully because it stood behind the British Medical Association when that union defied the Government. A great change in the Government’s attitude is shown when it asks the trade unions to follow a course different from that followed by the British Medical Association.
The Prime Minister, in his policy speech, was quite definite in declaring his intention to outlaw communism, and to prevent Communists from holding positions in the trade unions or the Public Service of this country. I make no excuse for the Communist party, and care little about what happens to it. It played an important part, together with the Liberal party and the Australian Country party., in the defeat of the last Government. But I and all other members on this side of the House will fight to the end to see that the interests of trade unionists shall be safeguarded so that they can elect whom they like to executive positions in their organizations. Honorable members opposite may take warning that when this legislation is introduced we shall care little about what they do to the Communist party, but that, on the other great issue, we shall definitely oppose it. As the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said earlier to-night, only a short time has elapsed since the Leader of the Opposition stated that banning was En ineffective means of dealing with the Communist party. My colleagues and I believe that the only effective way to defeat that party is to remove the evils from which communism springs, that is, to remove want and poverty, in which communism is bred. I can understand the concern of honorable members opposite, because they played a great part in bringing about the state of affairs that caused communism to grow in prewar days. We should learn from overseas countries. In Great Britain and in European countries communism has not been banned and until recently Communists were elected to Parliament. Even Comrade Sharpley, not long ago, in detailing his life story, stated that banning the Communist party would be most ineffective. The way to beat communism is the way that the British and the Australian Labour parties have taken, that is, to let Communists remain in the open and beat them at the polls and in the unions. We must see that the Australian workers awaken to the realization that Communists are their real working-class enemies and that they have no place in our industrial society. Members of the Labour movement will fight strongly to defeat Communists in industrial organizations, but they do not subscribe to the policy put forward by the Government, because they believe that they can beat them in the open. We have no sympathy for them but shall preserve to the full our right to see that trades unionists shall elect whom they like to office in their unions. Not one trades unionist in ten will agree that there should be any interference with the industrial laws of the nation governing conciliation and arbitration. They may as well know also that they can expect industrial trouble all over Australia if they intervene in trade union affairs and endeavour to appoint their own Liberal party or Country party nominees in place of the duly elected representatives of the unions.
There is urgent need to improve the substantial social benefits provided by the Labour Government, which itself increased expenditure on social services from £18,000,000 a. year to £88,000,000. The Government must try to live up to the wild promises that were made during the election campaign. It must increase basic pension rates, and do something to restore the value of the £1 about which its supporters have spoken so glibly. The Government must give to the aged, sick and the suffering, reasonable pensions. Practically every one to-day finds the cost of medical and hospital treatment a heavy burden, and this is particularly true of wage-earners. I trust that the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) will follow the example of his counterpart in Great Britain, and implement a national health scheme under which people, regardless of their income or station in life, will he entitled to receive everything they need in the way of drugs, medical services, and hospital treatment. Let it be noted that Mr. Aneurin Bevan, who provided those benefits for the British people, was returned at the recent election by twice his previous majority. After a great fight with the British Medical Association, he succeeded in providing an effective medical service for the public. If this Government refuses to do the same for the Australian people, some other government will have to take a stand in the interest of the people and say to the British Medical Association, “ You must accept the law of the land rather than the dictation of a few wealthy doctors who control your organization “. If the Minister for Health takes that stand he will make a worthwhile contribution to the social services structure of the country.
The removal of anomalies in the means test, the increasing of pensions, and the introduction of a national health. scheme, are much more important than the remitting of taxes on wealthy companies. We have been told that it is proposed to remit more than £25,000,000 of company taxes. It would be tragic, while the need for increased social services is so urgent, if large sums were given to companies that are already making millions of pounds in profit. We know that honorable members opposite were elected on a banker’s mandate to represent wealthy interests. However, although they represent the wealthy classes - those who were born with a silver spoon in their mouths - let them remember that it is the function of a government to represent all classes of people. Let the Government ensure that the people will obtain the things that make life worth living, including adequate social services. I commend these sentiments to honorable members opposite, particularly those who are beginning their political careers. Let them ensure that their Government shall live up to the duties of its office, and preserve the high standards cf political achievement set by La.bour governments during the last few years.
.- With other new members, I should like to commence by thanking the House for the courtesy it extends to those who are making their maiden speeches. I shall try not to abuse that courtesy by making remarks which might dispose honorable members to interject. After all, there is not much fun in teasing a chained dog. Apart from the courteous hearing that is always extended to those making their maiden speeches, I have gained the impression that a new member enjoys another advantage in that he has no political past of his own, and knows nothing of the political past of any other member. If that is an advantage to the House in saving time, it is certainly an advantage to the new member in that it relieves him of the temptation to talk of things that do not matter. Every new member rising to speak, is, I think, conscious of the fact that he inherits a great tradition, and that he shares in a continuing responsibility which was carried by other men before his time, and which will be taken up by his successors after he has gone. Consciousness of that fact brings to the new member both humility and encouragement to prove worthy of the company that he now enters. In my own case, those feelings arc heightened to a considerable degree because I have the honour to be the first member to enter this chamber as the representative of the electoral division of Curtin. That division was given the name of a distinguished Australian who was the pupil of this House, and who died as its leader. Perhaps the division of Curtin is not unique in that respect. Representatives of other electoral divisions are subject to a similar incitement to worthy conduct. When you, Mr. Speaker, call upon honorable members ‘by names such as Barton, Deakin, Forrest, Fisher, and Curtin, you are reviving in our memories visions of a long line of men who have not only been great in national service, but have also upheld the highest traditions of the Parliament that have been established both in the United Kingdom and in Australia.
I know that fitting tribute was paid to John Curtin on a more suitable occasion by persons who were better qualified to speak about him that I am, but I should like to add to those earlier tributes one or two observations which may have some application to the situation in which we now find ourselves. I had the privilege of knowing John Curtin as a colleague in journalism, and as a friend, long before he entered the Parliament. 7 had frequent opportunity to see him at work in Canberra. During the last few years, I have read every word of every important statement made by John Curtin, both inside and outside of this Rouse during the war period. When tributes are being paid to all his other achievements, history will recognize John Curtin as a great parliamentarian. I know that he was a man with a strong attachment to one party. He was born and nurtured in that party, and served it constantly ‘ and devotedly; yet I suggest that what educated him in a fuller sense was this Parliament rather than his own party. I suggest that it was in this Parliament, by the slow and painful steps of public duty, that John Curtin rose to the upper levels of statesmanship. The path of sound parliamentary tradition that he trod was in itself a not inconsiderable influence in shaping his ultimate greatness. As I read the history of his wartime leadership of this country, I think that John Curtin, as a good workman, learned to respect the tools he was using, and that respect of this institution guided him and tended to discipline his own life, and to help him in his career. He raised the Labour party to the highest level of respect it has ever enjoyed in this country, and proved himself a good parliamentarian by his respect for parliamentary institutions. We on both sides of the House have something to learn from the faith he held, namely, that parliamentary institutions can serve the purpose of the nation; that they can bring substantial benefits to, and perform major tasks on behalf of the people in any emergency, and in any crisis. Although I belong to a different party, and my loyalties are bound to a set of ideas which were not the ideas of John Curtin, I believe that honorable members on this side of the House share his belief in the value of the Parliament, and in the possibility of using the Parliament to obtain the best results for the whole nation.
The reason why I have laboured this particular phase of the subject is that in Australia to-day there are very strong persuasions to bring about the discrediting of the Parliament. Strong influences are at work to induce people to believe that the Parliament cannot work effectively ; that it cannot bring them quickly those material benefits for which they look. We who believe in the Parliament are challenged by the existence of those doubts. They are a challenge to us to prove by our every action, irrespective of our political views, that the parliamentary institution can be made to work effectively. They remind us that we should pay due regard to the wellestablished usages and self-imposed restraints which the system requires of those who would get the best from it.
Having mentioned those things about the Parliament, I pass to another of the institutions of government, one of which I can claim to have a rather more extensive first-hand knowledge, namely, the Public Service. It would be a truism to say that three-quarters of government is administration. When we are considering that large part of government that is administration, it is almost impossible to overestimate the value of a sound,, wellorganized and well-staffed public service, which can ensure expeditious and efficient government for the benefit of the country. I believe that only those who have worked in the Public Service for a comparatively long time can really know how large a part it plays in the business of government. Only they can know how much remains to be done after the Parliament has passed legislation, or after Cabinet has made its decisions. Only those who have worked in the Public Service know how many things are done in preparation for the passing of legislation, and for the making of decisions by Cabinet. Perhaps only those who have worked in the Public Service know how very subtle and at times how devious are the ways in which the members of the Public Service attempt to impress their own views on the conduct of the government. If we admit the importance of the Public Service, surely it is a matter of great concern to us that the Public Service should be in a healthy position, that it should be an institution which is capable of performing the great tasks that are laid upon it. I submit that at the present time our Public Service is not in as healthy a condition as we would wish it to be. I am not referring to the more superficial prob- lems of overstaffing or to charges of individual inefficiency. I do not wish to touch upon them. Indeed, I doubt whether all such charges are substantially founded. The sort of broader problem with which I am concerned is whether the whole structure of the Public Service is sound. The Commonwealth Public Service was initiated half a century ago with the inauguration of federation. At that time there were twelve Commonwealth departments; now there are 25. At that time there were, in all categories, approximately 11,000 public servants; at present they number 140,000. At that time the content of administration was relatively restricted. To-day, many new activities have been brought within the ambit of government. At that time federation had just been achieved and the States had handed over to the Commonwealth certain limited powers and had retained residual powers for themselves. To-day, many of the functions that were- formerly performed by the States are being performed, in one guise or another, by the Commonwealth. We have, in effect, reached the position where although the Constitution itself has not been greatly altered, the facts of federation are vastly different from what they were fifty years ago. That accumulation of evidence surely shows that, after the lapse of half a century, some re-examination of the Public Service - not a probe into this or that particular difficulty, but a review of the whole structure of the Public Service - is long overdue. The difficulties to which I have referred have been greatly complicated by the fact that the Public Service has had thrown upon it exceptional duties arising from the war and the post-war period. I submit that at the onset of the war in 1939 the Public Service was already in need of review. Then, almost overnight, there was a rapid accumulation of new duties, a rapid recruiting of new officers, and the discharge of totally unexpected functions by a body that had been trained for relatively restricted purposes. Since the war ended some progress has been made in absorbing temporary staffs and adjusting salary scales, but apart from those relatively minor aspects of administration no major attempt has yet been made to ascertain whether the structure of the Public Service is still soundly based. The original twelve departments have been added to bit by bit and the whole structure has been built up by adding a skillion roof or an extra gable here or there. There has been no general balanced design over the whole period. I submit that some basic examination of the kind I have suggested is overdue. Holding those views, I welcome the immediate attention that was given by this Government to the problem of the reconstruction of the Public Service. As the ministerial sub-committee and the accompanying departmental subcommittee o” the Public Service are still pursuing their inquiries, I do not want to comment further on this subject. I do not know what will result from those inquiries or what far-reaching changes may be made. I venture to suggest, however, that if the Public Service is to be put into a state of permanent and longterm efficiency, the re-examination of its structure will have to be basic and farreaching. “We look forward to some such re-examination being made. It is possible that the problem will be found to bo so extensive that yet another and more far-reaching inquiry will ‘have to be undertaken and that that inquiry will have to go hand in hand with an examination of the Constitution itself. After 50 years of federation, the Constitution certainly must be re-examined, not only in respect of the Public Service but also in respect of many aspects of government administration, if we are to have efficiency.
Before resuming my seat I wish to refer briefly to the important subjects of defence and development. I listened with a great deal of interest to the very thoughtful speech that was delivered by the honorable and gallant member for’ Indi (Mr. Bostock). In my humble opinion, that honorable gentleman made a very useful contribution to the consideration of a problem that must be of interest to all of us. He showed first-hand knowledge of the subject and disclosed a very ready disposition to build improvements on the old structure. My observations on defence will not range as far as his; I merely desire to make one or two brief remarks on the subject. The first is that, when we are thinking of defence, we must avoid the error into which Australians fell in the period between the two wars, of separating defence from foreign policy. During that period, particularly towards the end of it, we gave some attention to defence, but we did not give to foreign policy that attention which was needed in order to make our defence policy either realistic or effective. After all, defence is only an instrument to ensure the survival of a nation. Diplomacy is another instrument that can be used at an earlier stage in the relations of a nation with its neighbours. These two instruments must be used closely together or both will become ineffective. These observations on defence lead me to make another observation regarding foreign policy. I believe that, like defence, foreign policy, being an instrument of a nation, must be closely related to the interests and needs of that nation. In other words, the foreign policy of a country must be rooted very deeply and firmly in its domestic policy or it becomes unreal, useless and extravagant. Foreign policy is not something that can exist like gossamer floating in the air. It must serve a purpose, and its purpose is to be found in the needs and interests of a country as they are understood in the practice of its domestic policy. The separation of foreign policy from domestic policy is, I think, one of the unfortunate phenomena that have marked our postwar conduct of foreign affairs. I sincerely trust that the new Government in all it3 actions in respect of foreign affairs will ensure that they shall be closely integrated with domestic needs and that they shall serve national needs and interests.
Coupled with defence is the matter nf development. When we think either of foreign policy or of defence, we must necessarily think of strength, either the strength which we can command ourselves or the strength which we can command in the aggregate in co-operation with our friends. Whether we like it or not, the world to-day is faced with the reality of a contest of power. In that contest what will count on our side are the resources that we can marshal and the way in which we can project those resources and combine them with those of other countries.
In conclusion, I wish to add to these general observations one subsidiary point which I think is in danger of being overlooked. It applies to both defence and development. “When one considers either defence or development, one must think in terms of the outlying portions of this continent as well as those portions which are already heavily settled. In respeet of Western Australia, which is one of the outlying portions of the Commonwealth if distance be measured from Canberra, these arguments are reinforced by even the most casual examination of the strategic situation in the world to-day. In recent years we have heard much glib talk about the Pacific. If we think in terms of reality of the possibilities in Asia, and of the possible alliances or friendships that we must find in that continent, and if we thinkof air communication and the generalstrategical outlook, we must realize that the Indian Ocean and not the Tasman Sea is likely to he the decisive ocean in Australian defence during the next half century. If one combines resources with political facts, the greatest potential powers on the Asiatic mainland are surely India and Pakistan. If, as I sincerely hope, we can bring about closer relations between Australia, India and Pakistan within the framework of the British Commonwealth of Nations, those relations will find their chief outcome in the Indian Ocean. Before the outbreak of World War II., the Pacific was rightly considered as of supreme importance to us. We had the expectation of complete security because of Great Britain’s naval supremacy in the Indian Ocean and the existence of the Singapore base. We cannot count on that as a reality at present. In examining the overall defence position of Australia to-day we have to start from a different set of postulates from those which were accepted in 1937 or 1938. Therefore, I suggest that when thinking of defence in Australia to-day, our eyes must turn westward if that policy is to be effective, and the importance of the Indian Ocean, both in our international relations and in our preparations for the defence of this country, must be recognized.
I thank the House once again for its indulgence, and I repeat the plea that has been put forward by other speakers for the unity of our people. As the honorable member for Indi has said, very rightly, one of our basic difficulties in the last war was that, during the first two years of the conflict, we were not ready, in the sense that the whole organization was not complete. I should like to add that we were not prepared because the people of Australia were not solidly united in one patriotism to the degree that each would submerge his own individual claims to the common claim and say, “ It does not matter what I get out of it. It is what we get out of it that is important “. Individual claims were not submerged in a common patriotism to the degree that people would say, “ I am not concerned with what I may gain or suffer, but I am concerned about the good of the nation “.
We are facing troublous times in the half century that lies ahead of us, and I suggest that one of the things for which we should seek is the spiritual unity of all the Australian people. Let us retain by all means our different party political views, and our different ideas about the best way in which to reach great objectives. Let us carry on the contest of party politics with all the vigour and decency of which we are capable, but, above all, let us ensure that the good of Australia in the sense of the whole nation shall be the supreme thought. When one looks at the potential resources of this country, it is unworthy of us to think of ourselves as a group of dogs fighting for the scraps of meat on a bone that is inadequate. We are a great people, who inhabit a great country, and we can join in a great enterprise.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Eggins) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. HOLT (Higgins - Minister for
Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration) [10.33]. - While I was absent from the House yesterday, the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr.
Cremoan) asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a question about a reference that had appeared in the press to the discovery of twenty Chinese stowaways on Hindustan. The right honorable gentleman informed the honorable member that he would receive a reply in due course. I am now in a position to state that last week the Commonwealth migration officer ut Sydney received information to the effect that there were twenty Chinese stowaways on Hindustan, which was expected to reach Australia about Friday, the 24th February. As Brisbane was the vessel’s first port of call, the Commonwealth migration officer there was instructed to ensure that the vessel should be thoroughly searched. A search party boarded Hindustan late on Friday afternoon, and discovered seven stowaways, who were taken ashore for custody. Two watchmen were left on the vessel, and about 2 a.m. the next day thirteen more stowaways were found wandering about the vessel, apparently looking for a boat to take them ashore. They were arrested and taken into custody. The Commonwealth migration officer at Brisbane stated that the men were young and were well dressed, and that, on the voyage, they had messed with the crow. The officer also said that, possibly they had been on the vessel for about one month. “When the vessel was due to leave Brisbane, the captain refused to take them back, and gave as his reason that he did not have sufficient life boat accommodation on the vessel. The representative of the Navigation Department at Brisbane confirmed the captain’s statement. ‘ As the Immigration Act provides that stowaways who are taken ashore for safe custody are not regarded as having landed in Australia, it was suggested to Captain Davis, who is the Director of the Navigation Branch in Melbourne, that he should exert pressure on the agents of the vessel to force the captain to take the Chinese back, as otherwise, the Commonwealth might be left with them. It was added that if extra life-boat accommodation on the vessel was required, .the captain should be compelled to provide it. Captain Davis advised us to-day that the agents of the vessel were being informed that the vessel must provide the extra lifeboat accommodation necessary, and must take the men back. Later., he advised that extra lifeboats would he placed on Kafistan, a vessel, in the same ownership as Hindustan, and that the men will be taken on that vessel on its departure from Brisbane on the 28th Mardi.
There is another matter to which I desire to refer. To-day’s issue of the Sydney Daily Telegraph carries a story of migrants’ complaints of allegedly dirty hospital conditions on the liner MoretonBay, which reached Sydney yesterday. *Moreton Bay is not one of the purely migrant-carrying vessels in respect of” which the Commonwealth has incurred’, considerable financial commitments in: order to provide shipping facilities for’ British free and assisted passage grants. The ship is owned and operated! by the Aberdeen and Commonwealth; Shipping Line. However, an allocation of berths for governmentally-assisted migrants is obtained by Australia House, London, on each trip that the vessel makes.’ In the past no complaints have been received concerning the conditions on board this vessel. When Moreton Bay arrived at Fremantle on the 11th February, the Commonwealth migration officer reported that no complaints had been made about the voyage. On the vessel’s arrival at Melbourne on the 22nd February, the Commonwealth migration officer at that port also reported that no complaints had been received from migrants. The capacity, of the vessel is 514 passengers, all of whom travel in touristclass berths. On the present voyage, 240 free and assisted passage British migrants travelled to Australia. The ship’s surgeons on all vessels on the United Kingdom-Australia run are authorized by the shipping companies to charge for medical attention at the rate of 10s. sterling for each visit by first-class passengers, and 5s. sterling for each visit by tourist-class passengers. Mrs.. R. A. Petley, who was mentioned in the Daily Telegraph report, and her husband and child, are nominated assisted passage migrants who are travelling to Queensland, where they will join their nominator. The department has issued instructions that a comprehensive report be obtained concerning the allegations in this case Both Mrs: Petley and the master of the ship will be interviewed by our representative in Sydney, and the necessary action will be taken with the shipping company concerned should conditions on board be proved to have been unsatisfactory.
Question resolved in. the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Australian Wool Board - Thirteenth Annual Report, for year 1948-49.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act-
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders- Nos. 3444-3447.
National Security (Rationing) Regulations -Orders- Nos. 165-167.
Order - Control of tinplate - Revocation.
Liquid Fuel (Rationing) Act -
Liquid Fuel (Rationing) RegulationsOrders - Nos. 1-3.
Regulations - Statutory Rules1950, No.5.
House adjourned at 10.39 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice -
– The Minister for Shipping andFuel has supplied the following information: -
t. - On the 23rd February, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) asked me if I would direct to be prepared for the information of the House a short return indicating the number of cases that have arisen under the amendment to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act dealing with remedies in connexion with ballots taken by registered organizations, and in reply I indicated that I would be glad to supply the information that he seeks. I now inform the right honorable gentleman as follows : -
The Industrial Registrar of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration with whom applications under the amending Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act No. 28 of 1949 have to be lodged, has advised that eleven applications for inquiries respecting elections have been lodged with him. Of these eleven applications five have been referred to the court, three have been refused by the Registrar, and the remaining three are receiving his consideration. Of those applications referred to the Court, two resulted in the court ordering a new election and one is still before the court.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 March 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19500301_reps_19_206/>.