19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER CHon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 2.30 p.m.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether Australia’s resident Minister in London, Mr. Eric J. Harrison, will retain the portfolio of Defence during his absence, or will he be resident Minister and no more ? Further does his statement about Malaya, which was given such publicity in this morning’s press, and his lengthy comment on that situation, together with his earlier comment which contained at least an implied criticism of the British Government in regard to its tactics in Malaya, represent the considered views of the Government ?
– For the purpose of maintaining Cabinet rank and status, my colleague, the honorable member for Wentworth, will continue to be known as Minister for Defence, but the actual administration of the department will be carried on by the acting Minister for Defence, the Minister for the Interior. I noticed the statement referred to by the right honorable gentleman, but I have no knowledge of it beyond what appeared in the press. I think it would be more satisfactory if I obtained from my colleague the full text of what he said on that occasion.
– I gather from the Prime Minister’s reply to the right honorable member for Barton that the statement made by the Australian Resident Minister in London was completely unauthorized by the Government. I should like to know, therefore, whether an offer of any kind of active Australian interven- tion in Malaya has been made to the British Government. Has any request been received from the British Government for such aid? If an offer has been made by this Government, will the Prime Minister give an undertaking that before any action is taken the Parliament will have an opportunity to discuss the Government’s proposal?
– I cannot follow the assumption contained in the first part of the honorable member’s question. I have laid no stipulation upon the Minister that before he makes a statement he must send a copy of it to me or to some other member of the Government. That has not been the practice, and I certainly do not propose to establish it. Therefore, the inference that some statement alleged to have been made by the Minister was not authorized by the Government is completely irrelevant. So far, I know only what has been published in the press, but I shall find out the exact words that were used. It is most desirable that we should know the exact words if any comment is to be made upon them. No communication has passed between this Government and the Government of the United Kingdom on the question of military action in Malaya. All that has occurred is that on various occasions, press representatives have inquired whether, in the event of an application being made by the British Government, that application would receive the consideration of the Australian Government. It has been indicated quite plainly that any such application would naturally receive the serious consideration of the Australian Government. However, I am not aware of any direct communications.
– Will the Parliament be permitted to discuss the matter before any offer of assistance by Australia is made?
– Whatever action the Government may take in relation to that matter is on the knees of the gods. I do not know whether any request will be made nor do I know in what form any such request would be made. Therefore* T have no knowledge yet of the precise action that the Government would take, but the Government, in anything it does, is the servant of this Parliament.
– Has the Prime Minister read in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald a report of the statement made by the Red Dean, Dr. Hewlett Johnson, to the effect that northern Australia should be handed over to the Chinese, and people like the Japanese? Does the Prime Minister propose to take action to counteract this very inflammatory and dangerous propaganda ?
– I did notice a report of the statement attributed to Dr. Johnson. The views there expressed are, of course, completely in line with those that he expressed as far back as 1934 01 1935. All I need say is that I regard him as a singularly foolish person. I think that the greatest misfortune attending his visit to Australia is the amount of publicity which his views are receiving.
– I draw the attention of the Treasurer to his statement on the 6th April, when he said that the Australian Government could find more sterling petrol than was needed. He added that 30,000,000 gallons had been refused from a sterling source. Will the Treasurer say from what source that petrol was offered, and why the offer was turned down by the Government? Why did not the Government accept all the available petrol from sterling sources, so that the dollars saved might be made available for the purchase of essential goods, such as tractors and other farm machinery?
– The petrol was offered to an Australian company from an Italian source, but as payment would have been in convertible sterling, importation of the petrol was refused because of the adequacy of supplies in Australia at present.
– As the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is aware, dried fruits growers in the Murray Valley have recently suffered heavy losses through rain damage to their crop. 1 should like to know whether any request has been made to the Australian Government by the Victorian Government for financial assistance so that relief payments may be made to the dried fruits producers.
– My information is that no application has been made by the Victorian Government to the Australian Government for assistance to provide relief payments for dried fruit growers, but, as the honorable member is aware. I visited Mildura a couple of months ago, and there met representatives of the Australian Dried Fruits Association and the Commonwealth Dried Fruits Control Board. As the result of those consultations, an investigation is being made by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the present position in the dried fruits industry. When that inquiry has been completed and authoritative factual information has been obtained, it will be decided what assistance, if any, is necessary from Commonwealth sources.
– Will the Minister for Supply inform me whether it is a fact, as stated in various newspapers, that imported tinplate is still in short supply in Australia ? If so, will the Government do what it can to ensure that maximum supplies shall be obtained to assist industry in Australia, and particularly the primary producers.
– There is a shortage of tinplate from sterling sources. Adequate supplies are available from dollar sources, but imports are strictly limited because of the need to conserve dollars. The Government is doing what it can in the matter, and will continue to do so. I have had extensive discussions with the leaders of industries that deal in tinplate. Our conversations have been friendly and helpful, and I am confident that the interests of primary producers will be protected in the matter of receiving adequate supplies of tin plate.
– In view of the fact that the Minister for Works and Housing has sent overseas a fact-finding commission to investigate the possibility of importing prefabricated houses, will the right honorable gentleman inquire into the project which is now being undertaken at
Holmesglen in Victoria by the Housing Commission of that State ? Concrete prefabricated houses are now being constructed by that authority at prices lower than those of imported prefabricated houses. If the report is favorable, will the Minister consider the advisability of the Commonwealth establishing a similar scheme for the purpose of assisting the homeless ?
– The facts on the prefabricated concrete housing project in Victoria are already well known to the Commonwealth, and I believe that the Victorian Government deserves great credit for the initiative which it has shown in developing that method of precast and prefabricated housing construction. I shall ensure, if it is necessary to do so, that the facts are made known to all other governments in Australia which might benefit from the initiative shown by the Victorian Government.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration, and by way of explanation, I .point out that it has been brought to my notice that there appear to be a number of British migrants who have arrived in Australia comparatively recently and who are at present openly assisting the Communist party in its propaganda in this country. I am aware that migrants from Europe are screened before they are permitted to enter the country. Will the Minister inform me whether there is any form of screening of migrants from the United Kingdom ?
– The only opportunity that the Commonwealth has of dealing with full fare paying passengers from the United Kingdom is upon their arrival in Australia. If it is known that there is an objection to a person for reasons of security, action can be taken upon his arrival here, but once a migrant has landed, the only means available to us is to take the procedure of the dictation test, and subsequent deportation. Other arrivals from the United Kingdom come under the assisted passages scheme. In other words, a part of their fare is paid by the United Kingdom Government and a part by the Australian Government.
Each applicant for such a passage must obtain a reference from three reputable persons, and he is then examined by the British Department of Labour and National Service. In the case of any doubtful application which comes to our knowledge in Australia we consult the security authorities in the United Kingdom. Those are the only security tests that apply at present. However, I point out to the honorable member that even migrants from Great Britain are still within the scope of our immigration laws, and the Government has power to deport unsuitable migrants within five years of their arrival in this country.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the New South Wales Branch of the Commonwealth Public Service Association recently passed a resolution that husbands should receive three weeks special leave of absence when a new baby arrives in the family sp that they can stay at home and assist their wives? That rather novel proposal draws attention to the very real plight of many young mothers who urgently need trained assistance in the home to look after their children while they are being confined and to enable them to have a much-needed rest on return from hospital. Will the right honorable gentleman give further consideration to the suggestion that I have previously made that municipal councils which conduct home health schemes should be generously subsidized so that the services of emergency housekeepers may be readily available for the benefit of mothers of young families ?
– I shall discuss the honorable member’s proposal with the Treasurer and other members of the Government.
– I understand that during the war sections 53a and 53c of the Income Tax Assessment Act, which deal with exemptions for deferred maintenance, provide that taxpayers could lodge with the Commissioner of Taxation a sum equal to the estimated cost of the deferred maintenance even though, due to shortages of materials, the actual maintenance might have to be deferred for a number of years. Will the right honorable gentleman consider extending the benefit of those sections of the act, particularly while shortages continue, to cover repairs occasioned to properties by the recent serious flood damage?
– That matter was raised on the adjournment last night by the honorable member for Moore, and I informed him that it is receiving the consideration of the Taxation Branch in common with all aspects of the incidence of taxation.
– Can the Minister for Health say whether it is true, as reported, that the Government of New South Wales is the only State government which has not yet signed the Commonwealth and State antituberculosis agreement? Will the Minister also say whether that delay is preventing the people of New South Wales from obtaining the benefits of the scheme?
– In 1948 the former Government passed the Tuber.cuolsis Act, which was a very good measure to which I gave my support although I was in Opposition. However, the scheme embodied in that legislation can only be operated fully by co-operation of the Commonwealth and the States, and all the States, with the exception of New South Wales, have passed the complementary legislation and are able to obtain the benefits. The Parliament of New South Wales has not yet passed the legislation, although the Government of that State does send down to the tuberculosis advisory council its tuberculosis specialist and also Dr. Cotter Harvey, who is a distinguished private specialist. However New South- Wales cannot receive any money until its Parliament passes legislation in terms of the Commonwealth statute.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether he has examined the return furnished by the Commonwealth Statistician of retail price variations for the quarter ended March, 1950? If not, will the right honorable gentleman do so, particularly since the return indicates that a further increase, of the cost of living has taken place since his Government assumed office? Because the return also indicates that the increase of the cost of living concerns principally meat, food and clothing, which affects mainly the workers of Australia, will the right honorable gentleman inform the House when we may expect his Government to take steps to put value back in the £1?
– I have not seen the document referred to.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to give the House any information regarding the progress being made in investigations relating to the prospective assistance to cotton-growers by way of a guaranteed price for seed cotton?
-I am not in a position to give any information to the House on that matter, but I can say that the Government is very interested in the question of endeavouring to stabilize and stimulate the Australian cotton-growing industry, and thought is being given to the matter.
– In directing a question to the Minister for the Interior I say by way of explanation that I have had numerous complaints from persons who acted as returning officers and poll clerks at the recent general election regarding the smallness of the payment for these duties. In my division there were 227 polling booths. Many of the clerks have stated that they will not act in that capacity again unless there is an increase in the scale of payments. Will the Minister consider recommending that an all-round increase be granted so as to retain the services of those capable clerks ?
– I should first of all like to point out that the remuneration received by the electoral officers mentioned was fixed by the previous Government. If, as the honorable member says, it is insufficient, I shall certainly have inquiries made into the matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to an item broadcast in this morning’s national news in which Mr. “Williams, the general president of the miners’ federation, has expressed dissatisfaction with the Government’s recent decisions affecting long-service leave and pension matters? Has the Minister any further information to offer on that matter?
– It is no novelty to find Mr. Williams expressing dissatisfaction with something that this Government, or, for that matter, any other government in this country, has done. As to the two matters to which the honorable member has referred, long-service leave and various pension amendments, both this Government and I can claim to have acted promptly and fairly on the applications that have been made. Those applications fall into two groups. The first concerns the award of long-service leave for employees of the coal-mining industry. Cabinet decided before Easter that the decisions of the previous Government regarding that matter should be adopted and that the necessary steps to be taken with State governments should proceed in order that the benefits of long-service leave for coal-miners should apply. A request was then made for the benefits of long-service leave to be extended to shale workers at Glen Davis and also to coke workers. This Government took the same view on that matter as was taken by the previous Government, which was that as the Government was virtually the employer at Glen Davis it should instruct the company to oppose the application for the extension of long-service leave to shale workers, in view of the unsatisfactory financial position of that particular project. The extension of longservice leave benefits to coke workers was also not favoured. The parties concerned have recourse to the Coal Industry Tribunal. The Government stands merely in the position of an employer exercising his right to determine the attitude that he should take about particular matters. Under an arrangement with the New South Wales Government, amendments to the New South Wales miners’ pensions scheme must receive the approval of this Government. A number of proposed amendments were recently submitted to us by the Premier of New South Wale3. Those proposals have been examined by the Government whose views will shortly be indicated to the Premier of New South Wales. I have notified the Premier verbally of the decision taken, which in some instances amounted to an acceptance of the proposals, in others to a deferment, and in some to a rejection of the amendments suggested. As a matter of courtesy I asked an officer of my department to convey the information to Mr. Williams yesterday in order that, pending a formal notification to him, he would know that the Government had acted on these matters. I suggested that he might await that full information which would be conveyed to him in due course before he expressed himself publicly on the matter.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether the decision of the former Minister for Immigration that no indentured labour from Koepang, Malaya and other Asiatic territories shall be permitted to reside on the Australian mainland near Darwin, has been rescinded at the request of master pearlers and others interested in making profits from pearl diving? If so, why was not the former Minister’s decision maintained that imported labourers must be located on an island situated 30 miles from the mainland of Australia in order to preserve full-caste and half-caste women from molestation of Asiatic labourers? Has the Government fixed any date for the abolition of the indentured labour system in the pearling industry? Having regard to the espionage that was practised by Japanese pearl divers from Broome to Torres Strait before the outbreak of World War II., has the security service made any observation on whether security is involved in permitting Indonesian and Malayan nationals to enter Australia as pearl divers?
– The Department of Immigration is concerned in the matter that the honorable member has mentioned only in respect of the question of entry. Actual policy considerations emanate from the Department of the Interior. In this instance, a recommendation was made to me that I should agree to the course indicated by the honorable member, that is the admission within the Darwin radius of pearl divers of certain nationalities. That recommendation was made by the Minister for the Interior and it was supported by the Administrator of the Northern Territory. At the time I took the opportunity to consult the then member for the Northern Territory who supported that recommendation.
– Who was he?
– Mr. Blain.
– Mr. Blain has not been the member for the Northern Territory since this Government has assumed office.
– At that time the result of the election for the Northern Territory seat was not known. In any event, I consulted him in order to obtain a representative point of view on the matter. It is not correct, as the honorable member has implied, that the only arrangement that existed previously was that pearl divers of the nationalities he mentioned should .be based on an island situated some distance from the mainland.
– Yes, it was.
– There was a base at Broome at which these divers were admitted to the mainland. I investigated the matter fully before I adopted the recommendation that was made by my colleague and which, as I have already said, was supported by the Administrator of the Northern Territory. So far as I am aware the new arrangement is proving satisfactory. That decision was also supported by the health and security authorities. The latter find that under the new arrangement they can maintain their check more effectively from Darwin.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I point out that there is a general realization of the growing air-mindedness among Australians of all ages. That is evidenced by the increased commercial activities of several airlines in recent years and also by the growing number of aero and gliding clubs which are working hard to make Australians more air-minded. In view of the fact that gliding clubs, which first sprang up in this country about 12 years ago, are to-day moulding the careers of hundreds of young Australians as our pilots of to-morrow, what assistance, if any, did previous governments give to these clubs? Will the Government consider assisting such clubs by providing an adequate subsidy and by making available to them any suitable type of surplus war service equipment that is now of no use to the Government? Is the Minister aware that such European countries as France, Spain and Soviet Russia, are attaching great importance to the activities of gliding clubs as a necessary preparation for the training of air forces? Has the honorable gentleman’s attention been drawn to the efforts of Communists in Soviet-occupied Germany to popularize gliding among Germans, although, under an agreement between the occupying powers, gliding is illegal and therefore prohibited in that country? Is it a fact that the pre-war German gliding movement laid the foundations of what later became the powerful German air force, which threatened the aviation might of the rest of the world so recently? What encouragement do Australian gliding clubs receive from, departmental authorities, or from the Royal Australian Air Force?
– There are many aspects of the honorable member’s questions and I shall try to answer them generally. I agree that aero and gliding clubs are most useful adjuncts to aviation both in the service and civil fields. That is proved by the fact that, during the last war aero clubs became the elementary flying schools of the Royal Australian Air Force. Many of their pupils became members of the Royal Australian Air Force and some of them became members of airline crews. The assistance given to aero clubs dates back to 1925. Such clubs were first formed in 1914. The Bruce-Page Government endowed the clubs when light aircraft were first built about 1925. Since then they have been given assistance in various forms. I agree that they might be more greatly assisted because of the increasing cost of flying. The Government is investigating ways and means of doing so, by increased subsidies based either on flying hours or on the numbers of pilots who qualify. I have established in the Department of Civil Aviation an officer who has been specially directed to deal with aero and gliding clubs. A system of scholarships is being established so that youths who have not the funds with which to pay for flying training, even though some assistance is available, will be able to be selected, perhaps from the Air Training Corps or from other sources, and given an opportunity to learn to fly. If any service aircraft are suitable for use by the aero clubs they will be made available to them. I point out, however, that the activities of aero clubs are limited to light aircraft c-f the Moth type, which made this type of flying training possible. Moth aircraft arc; no longer available and we are searching for other light cheap aircraft that may be suitable for the purpose.
– They were long questions and entail a long answer.
-Order ! There is no need for the Minister to lengthen thu answer.
– I am sorry if I have unduly lengthened my reply. I have finished what I wanted to say about aero clubs, and I shall now deal with gliding clubs. Gliding clubs have also been assisted by the Government for a period of twelve years. The amount of subsidy granted has varied. It is true that the Germans from the very beginning of gliding and soaring realized its importance as an aid to power flying and the training of scouts and pilots. Representatives of the federal body of the gliding clubs waited on me in Melbourne recently and made a request for an increased subsidy. I have suggested the payment of a subsidy on a £1 for £1 basis to assist the clubs in the purchase of gliders. I assure the honorable member, to be brief, that the Government will do all that it can do to aid aero clubs and gliding clubs because it realizes their great value to aviation.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, relates to answers that the Minister has given to the honorable member for Shortland and myself in reply to questions that we have addressed to him concerning the basic wage case that is now being heard by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. The Minister has placed upon the trade unions the whole of the responsibility for the delay in giving a decision. He has said that of the 87 days on which the court has sat-
-Order ! The honorable member for Dalley raised this matter last night in the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House, and the Treasurer undertook to give a reply to the points that he raised. I do not think that there is any necessity for the honorable gentleman to raise now, in the form of a question, a matter that he discussed for several minutes last night and to which the Treasurer undertook to give a reply.
– Not only was the Minister’s reply, which I might describe as misleading, broadcast, but also it will be published in Hansard.
– So will my answer. I can reply to the honorable gentleman on the adjournment.
– It would be very nice of the Minister to do that.
– It would have been very nice of the honorable member for Dalley to let me know that he was going to raise this matter, because I went to some trouble to give him the details.
– The honorable gentleman had an opportunity-
– Order ! This question must not be debated.
– I am not debating it.
– The honorable gentleman is doing so, most definitely.
– I should like to know under what Standing Order an honorable member can be denied-
-Order ! The honorable gentleman rose to ask a question and proceeded to deal with the matter with which he dealt on the adjournment last night.
Mr.ROSEVEAR. - Do you rule my question out of order, Mr. Speaker ?
– Last night the Treasurer undertook to supply an answer to the statement that the honorable gentleman made then. If he desires an answer to be made to that statement, he should wait for it to be done.
Mr.ROSEVEAR.- Do you rule my question out of order, Mr. Speaker?
– I do.
– I have received from the honorable member for EdenMonaro(Mr. Fraser) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House to-day for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The circumstances surrounding the sale of the government-owned Hotel Ainslie in the Australian Capital Territory.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– The facts associated with the sale on the 13th April of the government-owned Hotel Ainslie in Canberra are of an extremely serious nature. I make no accusation against the personal integrity of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McBride) or of any of his officers, but upon every other ground on which this transaction can be examined, it is, as I shall proceed to show, almost of a scandalous nature. The transaction is the more important because it was announced that the sale of the Hotel Ainslie was to be the first of a series of sales of government possessions and properties to be conducted during the next few months. If the circumstances associated with those sales are similar to the circumstances associated with the dis graceful sale of Hotel Ainslie, then the people of this Commonwealth will be robbed hand over fist, as they were robbed on this occasion.
I propose to establish, first, that the sale of this hotel was completely unjustified and opposed in every way to the public interests; and, secondly, that no precautions whatever were taken by the Minister to ensure that a proper sum was received for the hotel when it was sold, that the circumstances of the auction itself were so extraordinary as to merit the keenest investigation, that the hotel was sold for far less than its demonstrated profit-earning value, and that in the result the people of Australia, who were the owners of the hotel, were robbed of many thousands of pounds. Hotel Ainslie has been used for years past to accommodate employees of the Australian Government in Canberra and to provide them with accommodation at a rate within their capacity to pay. There is an extreme shortage of that type of accommodation in the whole of the national capital. There are over 300 people on the waiting list for accommodation of that kind in Canberra. The Government, knowing how desperate is the shortage of accommodation, is itself building hostels as fast as it possibly can in order to house Commonwealth employees in Canberra. At the present moment, apart from other hostels that it has built or is building, it is having erected a brick structure, Havelock House, similar in type to the Hotel Ainslie which will cost more than twice the amount of money for which Hotel Ainslie was sold. The Australian Government is unable to obtain the services of the women employees that it needs as the Minister knows, because it is unable to give them the accommodation they require. Yet the Minister has sold a building which was used for that purpose with the mere stipulation that the new purchasers must not evict those women employees until twelve months after the sale.
As to the circumstances in which the hotel was sold, it cannot be argued, in the first place, that it was surplus to the requirements of the Commonwealth and it certainly cannot be argued that it was losing money and that therefore, in the interests of efficiency, should be handed over to private enterprise for more efficient management. Hotel Ainslie was being most efficiently conducted. It is true that a small loss was being made on the accommodation section, but that loss was being deliberately made because the Government had rightly fixed a rate of board in accordance with the capacity of these women employees to pay. There is no doubt whatever that if, in the present accommodation shortage in Canberra, that accommodation section is thrown open and new proprietors are entitled to charge what tariff they like they will be able to make a rich profit out of the accommodation section. Against the small loss that was being made in the accommodation section, a very large profit was being made by the bar of Hotel Ainslie. Since the bar was opened in December, 1948, a profit of £11,000 to £12,000 has been made by its trading. That figure has been arrived at after taking into account every possible cost which can be properly charged against the bar of the hotel. Not only is that so, but in the first twelve months of its operation in 1949, the net profit made after taking into account every possible charge was £9,000. In the first three months of this year, because of the growth of Canberra and the growth of the business of that hotel and because it was being very efficiently run as a government hotel, its business increased so that a profit was being made at the rate of over £12,000 a year in recent weeks. The profit was over £1,000 a month in the first three months of 1950.
I am not an experienced business man but there are numbers of gentlemen on the opposite side of the House who have at least an acute knowledge of percentage and profits rates. I therefore propose to deal with the actual circumstances of the sale and the price that was obtained. In the first place, a nominal reserve figure was placed on the selling price of this hotel based on a valuation of the building and land at £80,000 and of the plant, furniture and fittings at £5,000, a total of £85,000. That price was advertised and stated in the Commonwealth Gazette long before the auction took place, so that everybody knew the minimum figure at which the hotel could be acquired. On the profit figure that I have given to the House it is perfectly clear that the hotel was worth £S5,000 at least for its bar value alone, apart from the value of the building, furniture and fittings, which could not be replaced to-day for anything like the amount of money that the Commonwealth originally expended. The Minister took no precaution whatever to ensure that proper value was obtained for the hotel - if he was determined to sell it - and I have shown that there was absolutely no necessity to sell it. Instead, he made the conditions which were advertised in the Commonwealth Gazette, insisted on complete and full settlement in cash immediately the sale was completed. No opportunity was given to bid, except to people who could put up £100,000, £120,000, or whatever the proper value of the hotel was, immediately upon purchase, despite the fact that every endeavour had been made to persuade the Minister to agree to some other condition. He could have quite easily reserved the accommodation section for the continued use of the women employees of the Commonwealth, and could have leased the bar, because it was already separately managed and controlled. An offer was made to him of £40,000 for a ten-years’ lease of the bar. Instead, he sold building, fittings, plant, equipment, and the licence - with its tremendous profitearning capacity - for a total of £85,000, in the following extraordinary circumstances: The auction sale was conducted by Woodgers and Calthorpe Limited, of Canberra, in conjunction with L. J. Hooker Limited, of Sydney. I ask honorable members to note that name particularly. “When the auction actually took place Woodgers and Calthorpe Limited introduced the representative of L. J. Hooker Limited, who then took complete charge of the proceedings and conducted the auction. There were only three bidders for this most valuable property - a representative of Tooth and Company Limited, who, as I propose to show, was there really to make up the numbers; Mr. Stan Cusack, of Canberra; and Mr. George, of Rex Investments Proprietary Limited, which is a subsidiary of L. J. Hooker Limited. The bidding began at £70,000. However, that was so absurd and ridiculous that the representative of L. J. Hooker Limited - the one on the platform, not the one in the audience as a bidder - announced that he must have a higher bid to begin. The representative of Tooth and Company Limited, and Mr. Stan Cusack, carried the bidding to £82,000, where it stopped for the time being. Any one of us could have been there and had the thrill of bidding that amount of money, knowing that our bid would not have been accepted. There was only one bid by the representative of L. J. Hooker Limited in the auction group. Mr. George then bid £85,000, the exact amount of the reserve, representing the value of the building, improvements, plant and equipment. The representative of L. J. Hooker Limited, who was selling the property, knocked it down to him, after a very small delay indeed. The Minister may be complacent enough to be happy about receiving £85,000 for a proposition that was capable of being sold for £85,000 on the value of the bar trade alone. He may be happy about having given away - because that is what it comes down to - the whole value of the buildings and the plant and equipment in the building. If so, he is indeed a bad steward of the interests of the Australian people whom he is supposed to represent. If, however, he is dissatisfied and considers that he has been badly treated by those who conducted the auction and those who took part as bidders, I suggest that he bears a very heavy responsibility because he is not a babe in the wood in business matters. Despite all his protestations about free enterprise and active and earnest competition, he knew that there would not be any genuine competition at that auction. He knows, as everybody knows, that the great brewery combines of Australia do not bid against each other for hotel properties, and he knows that the conditions he framed for the auction prevented anybody else from bidding for the property. He knows that what happened at the auction was inevitable and that, by prearrangement, one genuine bid, and one only, was made. That genuine bid was for theexact amount of the minimum price for which the hotel could be acquired. The honorable gentleman knows that, in the upshot, the people of Australia were deprived of a property worth at least £120,000. That factis borne out by the boast of a representative of Rex Investments Limited since the auction that his syndicate will make a profit of £50,000 out of the deal within the next twelve months or two years. I suggest, therefore, that the Minister has these propositions to answer : In the first place, what justification was there for the sale of a government residential hotel in Canberra that was required for the accommodation of women employees in this territory, at a time of desperate shortage of such accommodation when the Government, indeed, is pressing on as hard as it can with the construction of new accommodation of exactly the same type? In the second place, if the argument be advanced that the Government should not engage in the hotel business - and I cannot see the force of any such argument - then what justification was there for failing to adopt the procedure of leasing the bar?
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Beazley) put -
That the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Fraser) be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- I propose to review the history of Hotel Ainslie. There was no justification whatsoever for selling the hotel, which has been giving excellent service to the residents of the Australian Capital Territory. During the war, it was found necessary to close the liquor bar at the hotel, because the space was needed for the accommodation of public servants. Then, as a result of the implementation of plans for the development of Canberra by the Chifley Government, the population increased considerably, and it became necessary to provide additional facilities on the northern side of the city for the retailing of liquor. Repeated representations were made to me by the Trades and Labour Council and the Advisory Council to give permission for the opening of a community hotel in Canberra. I promised that if the necessary conditions were complied with I would seriously consider making the Ainslie hotel building available to be run as a community hotel in the interests of the residents of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. You will remember, Mr.
Speaker, that I consulted with you in your capacity as the honorable member for Barker and sought your opinion of the value of community hotels, because I had been informed that in your State of South Australia two hotels were run on that basis with great advantage to the community. You assured me of your support for any proposal to establish a community hotel in Canberra. However, due to the lack of enthusiasm of those who had made representations to me on the subject, because they had not complied with the necessary requirements for the control of a hotel, and because of the urgent need to make better provision for people living in the northern part of Canberra, it was decided that Hotel Ainslie should be opened under the management of the Department of the Interior. I knew that this might have serious repercussions, but we were most fortunate in obtaining the services of a manager who quickly won the support and admiration of the people of the Australian Capital Territory. He has conducted the business on the highest plane. I have no wish to speak detrimentally of other hotels in Canberra, but I can say, after having watched the conduct of Hotel Ainslie during the first twelve months under the new conditions, that it is considered to-day to be one of the best conducted hotels in Canberra. That cannot be denied, and I am sure that my statement would be endorsed by the people of Canberra and surrounding districts. The undertaking was successful financially, and in every other way, as is shown by the figures cited by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Fraser) this morning. Therefore, there can be no justification for the sale of an undertaking that is making a handsome profit, more particularly as the Government is conducting other institutions that have to be subsidized, as well as erecting additional buildings to provide accommodation. Not long after Hotel Ainslie had been relicensed I called for a report on its progress, and I was astounded at the success that had been achieved so quickly and at the support that had been given by local people when they saw just how the hotel was being conducted. When I was Minister for the Interior, I did not overlook the possibility that some day an anti-Labour government might sell the hotel to private enterprise and so place it in the clutches of the great brewery monopoly. Therefore, I instructed officers of my department to prepare to lease the hotel at a rent commensurate with its trading figures. Apparently that instruction was countermanded when the new Government assumed office, ‘with the result that the hotel, which is a great asset to the Australian Capital Territory, has been
Bold to private enterprise. That was a retrograde step, and a great disappointment to the people of Canberra. I am confident that, in the light of the figures given to the House by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro this morning, and the case that I have presented, no Government spokesman will be able to justify the sale of this valuable property. I cannot say what would be an adequate valuation of the hotel and I have no doubt that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McBride) was advised’ by a valuer when he fixed the reserve price at ?85,000, but I am sure that the building could not be replaced for twice that sum. 1 believe that the Minister was misled about the value of the hotel, and I appeal to him to call for a full investigation of the matter, if only in his own interests. As the honorable member for EdenMonaro has said, the auction was not an auction at all. Where was the urgency to dispose of this building that was rendering such useful service to the people of this community? One could understand the Government’s anxiety if the hotel had been operating at a loss, and had required a substantial government subsidy, as other government hostels do. Yet the one building that has shown a handsome profit and has assisted to reduce the expenses associated with conducting other government-owned hotels and hostels was selected for slaughter. In no circumstances can the Minister or the Government justify that decision.
– As the member for the Australian Capital Territory, I am particularly interested in the sale of Hotel Ainslie. I attended the auction, and had the mortification of seeing that building sold for the reserve price of ?85,000. Originally, I regarded the sale of the hotel as only an incident in the long and unhappy history of hostel management in the Australian Capital Territory, but, in view of all the facts that have been put forward, very fairly, by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Fraser), it now seems paradoxical, and I am constrained to offer my comments on the sale, as I observed it. One of the most urgent needs of the Australian Capital Territory is adequate accommodation for persons of the type who have been occupying Hotel Ainslie. There are a number of good hostels under the control of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McBride). For the most part, they have come to him as a legacy from previous governments. I had the displeasure and pain this morning of inspecting a governmentowned hostel, and the Parliamentary Secretary for the Interior (Mr. Hamilton) and I were appalled at what we saw. I believe that that honorable gentleman will take the opportunity, if it is presented to him, to mention the shock that he received when he investigated that hostel.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! That hostel is not the subject of the present discussion. The House is considering the circumstances surrounding the sale of Hotel Ainslie.
– With respect, Mr. Speaker, I propose to relate my remarks to that matter, but I was making a comparison between the conditions at a hostel that the Government intends to retain-
– Order ! The condition of other hostels is not under consideration.
– The Government is retaining the hostel that I inspected this morning, but has sold Hotel Ainslie, which has every amenity and facility. That hotel was not a losing proposition. The building is of a splendid type, and has been fairly well maintained, although it requires some renovation. Like other hostels and hotels in the Australian Capital Territory, it has suffered from lack of maintenance as a result of the shortage of labour and materials, but in these days of inflationary prices a person would be “ game “ indeed to suggest that £85,000 covered not only the goodwill, furniture and chattels but also the land, on a 99-year lease, and a magnificent building. It is true that the age of chivalry is not dead. In all my experience I have never seen or heard of a sale being conducted with more chivalry than was displayed when Hotel Ainslie went under the hammer. I have often read and heard of the close co-operation that exists between business interests, but I had never believed that I would see, demonstrated to proof, such an exhibition of close co-operation and chivalrous conduct as I observed amongst the people who were desirous of buying that very delightful business on a walk-in walk-out basis. As the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has pointed out, there was a most dramatic silence when it was announced that the bedrock price for the hotel was to be £85,000. Again and again it was emphasized to all buyers that at least £85,000 had to be bid for the bid to be considered of any significance whatever. When bidding actually began it started in playful manner at £70,000, and after some exhortation on the part of the auctioneer, it eventually reached £85,000, when, after an almost imperceptible pause, the hotel was declared sold to a business syndicate. Since then certain statements have reached me concerning the composition of that syndicate. I had intended at question time yesterday to ask certain questions concerning the constitution of the business syndicate that purchased this hotel but because of the lateness of the hour when the opportunity came and because of the motion of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), I was compelled to place my question on the notice-paper.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr. McBride) may be able to give some indication to the House of why £85,000 was declared to be the bedrock price for the sale on a walk-in walk-out basis of _ a business of the nature of Hotel Ainslie. The Minister may be able to explain and to justify why that price was fixed for a business venture which any analysis or investigation would have indicated was a gilt-edged security. The statement has been attributed to the Minister that that sale of Hotel Ainslie is to be the first of many sales of government properties in the Australian Capital Territory. If other properties are to be sold - and I shall not mind if the Government goes out of these activities - I hope that in the interests not only of the taxpayers generally but particularly of the residents of the Australian Capital Territory, the lesson that should have been learned from the sale of Hotel Ainslie will not be forgotten. Of course, those people who are accommodated in Hotel Ainslie will now have to seek fresh fields and pastures new. There are other aspects of the transaction that might be canvassed, but there is not sufficient time now completely to discuss the position. However, I should like to refer to one matter connected with the sale. The signatures having been appended to the contract of sale, it was stated immediately that the buyers were proposing forthwith to spend £25,000, or nearly one-third of the purchase price of the hotel, on a complete renovation of the premises. Surely the purchase must have been a most profitable one when the purchasers could immediately visualize the need to spend £25,000 to bring the premises up to date and to place them in such a condition that they would equal the most highly priced institution or hotel in Canberra. Although a guarantee was given as a part of the sale that those who are at present occupying rooms in the hotel will be permitted to remain in occupation of them for another twelve months, it is plain that if renovations are to be carried out immediately their occupation of the premises must be disturbed, and that, in any event, as the renovations are carried out the tariff will in all probability be raised. That will give rise to difficulties under existing conditions. When one reviews the whole position, when one takes into consideration the fact that while the Government sells with its right hand a growing enterprise that is paying, or that at least is costing the taxpayers nothing–
-Order ! The honorable gentleman has exhausted his time.
. “Whilst he started off by assuring the House that he did not doubt my integrity, for which expression I thank him, he then attempted to show that my judgment was extraordinarily bad. I hope that my statement setting out the position regarding the sale and the reason that influenced the Government to dispose of the property will be brief. In spite of all that has been said about the undesirability of the Government quitting Hotel Ainslie at the present time, I was rather interested to hear the former Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) say, quite rightly, that he himself had suggested that that hotel should not be retained by the Government, but should be leased to some other interest.
– But still retained.
– The honorable gentleman’s attitude is extraordinary. I suggest that the only question at issue is whether the hotel should have been retained and conducted by the Government or whether it should have been leased or sold to private enterprise. I make no apology at all for saying that I agree entirely with the decision of the Government that the hotel should be disposed of to private enterprise. As a matter of fact, this Government stands four square behind the encouragement of more and more private enterprise in Canberra. One of the legacies that I have inherited in my position as Minister for the Interior is the mounting number of applicants for houses and accommodation, a situation to which the honorable member for EdenMonaro has referred. In spite of all the efforts that were made by the previous Government - and I am not criticizing it now - the lag in the provision of housing and accommodation was increasing every day during its term of office. It is nonsense to say that private enterprise cannot assist in achieving a solution of the housing problem that we have in this country. As an illustration of the truth of that statement I cite the fact that the problem of accommodation in Canberra has gone from bad to worse. Shortly after the war the waiting time faced by a man who wanted a house in the Australian Capital Territory was fifteen months. To-day, in spite of all the self-applause that we hear from honorable members opposite, that waiting time of fifteen months has expanded to a waiting time of three years. That is the legacy that this Government has inherited from the previous Government.
– Has that anything to do with accommodation?
– Yes, it has a great deal to do with accommodation because previous speakers told us that about 300 people were waiting for similar accommodation. The simple fact is that we decided that the hotel could be well run by private enterprise. I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. J Johnson) that it has been excellently run by the present manager, but even that fact did not prevent the honorable gentleman from considering taking it out of the manager’s control and offering it for lease. In any case, we believe that this hotel can be run more efficiently by private enterprise and thus relieve the Department of the Interior and the Government of an obligation which they would undoubtedly have if the hotel were retained as Government property. Construction of this hotel was started in 1927, and up to the 1st January, 1929, when it was at a certain stage of completion, it had cost the Government £29,000. Since then certain additions have been made, and as far as I can ascertain the total cost to the Government of the hotel and equipment has grown to about £47,000.
– What is the estimated replacement value ?
– I shall deal with that aspect later. The figure that I have just mentioned does not include any amount in respect of depreciation which normally would be considered in relation to this building as it was completed in its original form in 1929, that is, over twenty years ago. When we decided to offer this hotel for sale we appointed Messrs. L. J. Hooker Limited, of Sydney, and Messrs. Woodgers and Calthorpe Limited, real estate agents, and auctioneers, of Canberra, as agents. In order to give as much publicity as possible to the sale the details were advertised in leading newspapers in most of the States including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Melbourne Argus, the Brisbane Courier-Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser. In addition, every brewing and large hotel company as well as every person who it was believed would be .interested in the purchase was specifically approached. Messrs L. J. Hooker Limited arranged a display in the vestibule of its premises in Sydney, the display consisting of photographs mounted on a large flood-lit panel. Every possible inducement was offered to all companies and individuals interested in hotels to make an inspection of the hotel. If the sum for which the hotel was actually sold represented so lucrative a proposition as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has claimed that it did, I have no doubt that plenty of people throughout Australia would have been willing to purchase it in order to make the extra-ordinary profits that, according to the honorable member, the proposition offered. According to my official information the figures that he cited are entirely wrong. The statement of my departmental officers shows that the profit made on the bar trade from the 10th December, 1948, to the 28th November, 1949, amounted to £8,810.
– That is correct.
– That is not the figure that the honorable member cited.
– For the first 12 months trading, that was the figure.
– From the 28th November, 1949, to the 20th March last, the profit from the bar trade amounted to £3,400. Those profits do not take into account the substantial loss incurred in operating the property as a whole. However, I mention them because they were revealed to prospective buyers. If they were so attractive as the honorable member has suggested, obviously the only real factor to be considered is whether the hotel will continue to make such profits. I emphasize that aspect, because I do not think any honorable member will gainsay the fact that at present we are experiencing inflationary conditions which no one expects will continue indefinitely. The previous government believed .that existing conditions would subside rapidly. Indeed, it was so pessimistic on that score that it sold Australian wheat to New Zealand at 5s. 9d. a bushel. Having decided to advertise the sale I obtained three valuations of the property two from the firms of auctioneers that were arranging the sp1? and a check valuation by the officers of my department. The auctioneers valued the land and buildings at £75,000 and the land, buildings, furniture and equipment, including goodwill, at £85,000. My departmental officers did not attempt to assess the value of the goodwill because they were not competent ,to do so. They made a check valua tion on the basis of present-day costs of construction of the hotel, less reasonable depreciation.
– Property is appreciating and not depreciating in value.
– The departmental officers valued the building and the land at £66,200. We can assume that the furniture and equipment were worth £5,000, making a total of approximately £71,200.
– How much was allowed for the’ value of the licence ?
– As I have said, the departmental officers made no assessment of the. value of the goodwill. I did not ask them to do so. I* admit frankly that when I was called upon to fix the reserve price, I was astounded to find that under the City Area Leases Ordinance 1936- 1938 the Minister is compelled to publish in the Gazette the reserve price which he proposes to place on a property that is to be offered for sale. That, in my opinion, is the most uncommercial practice of which I have ever heard.
Opposition members interjecting,
– There is a continual run of interjections from my left. If it continues I shall have to act, and Standing Order 303 will be put into force.
– The ordinance provides that notice of auction shall be published in the Gazette at least fourteen days prior to the date of the auction and shall set forth, among other things, the reserve value placed by the Minister on each parcel of land, or on the improvements on each parcel of land to be offered. The value of the property was left to the judgment of potential buyers who were competent to assess its value. If they regarded it as such a profitable venture as the honorable member for Eden-Monaro has indicated it to be, they had an opportunity to bid a higher figure for it. The only regret I have is that the publication of the reserve price may have had a deterrent effect on potential buyers.
– The Minister could have amended the ordinance in a few hours.
-The ordinance has been in operation since 1929. I agree that it should be amended and I assure the honorable member for Kalgoorlie that it will be amended. I point out, however, that the only adverse effect of the publication of the reserve price would be that its publication might cause some people who did not regard the property as being worth £85,000 to refrain from attending the sale. Many people attended the auction for the specific purpose of purchasing the hotel. The price that they were prepared to pay was less than the reserve price. Some of them ceased to bid at £80,000 and others at £82,000. After the sale, the Sydney Daily Telegraph announced that a number of persons in Sydney considered that the hotel was sold at an unduly low price. [Extension of time, granted.] After the sale had been made, apparently some wise persons told a newspaper reporter that had they been present at the auction the hotel would have realized £110,000 or £120,000.
– I accept the correction. Similar stories are told after every auction. Those persons knew that the auction was to be held and they also knew the reserve price that had been placed upon the property. If it was worth £130,000, why were they not present at the auction to secure such a bargain? Some of the persons who were present have already been in communication with me to inquire whether they can get land on which to build another hotel here. Is it reasonable to assume that if Hotel
Ainslie was such a great bargain as has been suggested, those persons whoare willing to incur the expense of building a new hotel at a time when, I admit, building costs are very high, would have ceased to bid at £80,000 or £82,000?
I am glad that this matter has been raised. There has been much talkabout what this hotel should or should not have realized. It was known throughout the country that it was for sale and that all persons who were interested in it could bid at the auction. I say quite frankly that I was disappointed at the small number of persons who were interested enough to attend the auction. I am not prepared to pit my judgment of the value of this hotel against the judgment of the majority of persons who are interested in hotel projects. I believe that they know their business. They are in business to make profits. Had they considered that this hotel was a bargain, they would have attended the auction. Itis useless for newspapers and persons who did not attend the auction at the proper time to say now that the hotel is worth £120,000 or £130,000 because if that were a fact it could, according to the bidding that took place, have been secured for much less than that. I make no apology at all for the sale of the hotel. The Government wants more private enterprise in this city to assist in the expansion that must take place before we shall be able to house the persons who are necessary for administrative purposes. I have a tremendous respect for the Public Service, but the Commonwealth departments in Canberra are being hamstrung owing to the fact that they cannot secure the staffs that they need because sufficient accommodation is not available. I cannot dispose in four months of the legacy that was bequeathed to me after eight years of Labour government.
I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 19
The taking of the division proceeding,
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Mr. McBride) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) gave an undertaking to me, when you ruled out of order a question that I sought to ask at the commencement of the day’s proceedings, that he would be present when the adjournment of the House was moved in order that he could discuss the matter that I raised during the adjournment debate last night. The honorable gentleman is not in the chamber now. I do not know whether you can do anything about the matter. I believe that you heard him give the assurance to me. I do not want to discuss the matter behind his back and I consider that, having undertaken to be here, the least that he oan do is to honour the undertaking.
– I did not understand the Minister to say that he would be here when the adjournment was to be moved to-day, but I shall make a check on that point.
– Will the Minister for the Interior (Mr. McBride) lay on the table of the library all the papers relating to the sale of Hotel Ainslie in order that honorable members may be able to sift this matter to the bottom? The disposal of the hotel has various aspects, including not only the conditions of the sale but also the problem of housing the 100 girls now accommodated there when the period of twelve months’ grace granted to them has expired. That is the period during which they will bc courteously allowed to remain as residents of Hotel Ainslie. The amount charged to those people for board and lodging may be increased very considerably in the meantime. The previous
Government did a magnificent job in developing Canberra, a matter that had been neglected by its predecessors. Canberra was regarded by the Menzies and Fadden ministries as a place to be avoided. The Menzies Cabinet met in Melbourne and the Fadden Cabinet in Sydney as frequently as possible. During the period of office of the Curtin and Chifley Governments, every Cabinet meeting was held in Canberra. In order to develop Canberra it was necessary to transfer staffs of the various government departments to this city and to build a number of temporary offices, the last of which was completed quite recently. All that work was of tremendous importance to the future of Canberra and to the governmental life of this city. Now a hotel has been sold and 100 employees who came here from the capital cities of Australia and from other parts of the Commonwealth have been told that they can sleep under gum trees, or can find any other accommodation that may be available after twelve months has expired from the conclusion of this nefarious deal.
-Order ! The honorable member may not discuss that deal because the House has just voted on it.
– I did not think, Mr. Speaker-
– Still less should the honorable member describe it as a “nefarious” deal. That is an unparliamentary term and contains a nasty implication. I think that the honorable member should withdraw it.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the word ‘ nefarious “. Perhaps I may be able to say more on that matter after the appointment of a royal commission to determine whether it was nefarious or not. As a preliminary to considering whether a royal commission should be requested, I ask the Minister to lay on the table of the library all the papers in connexion with this deal, which I find it impossible to regard as a satisfactory one.
– Order ! The honorable member may not discuss the deal.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker. I ask that those documents be laid on the table of the library, so that
I- may determine whether a royal commission’ ought to be appointed to inquire into the nature of the deal.
– I desire to make some reference to remarks made by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) to the effect that an undertaking was given by me earlier to-day that I would reply, on the adjournment, to statements that he made last night. I gave no such undertaking, but by way of interjection while he was raising the matter earlier to-day, I said that I would deal with it as he had - on the adjournment. I am not -in a position to deal with it on this adjournment as I have not yet received the Hansard report of the remarks that he addressed to the House on this matter Inst night. I have no. intention of avoiding the matter and t shall welcome the opportunity to deal with it after 1 have read just what he had to Bay about it. I should like the honorable member to know that I deny any suggestion that I was laying any blame on the unions for the delay in question. I shall quote in due course the language that I used, but, in effect, L said that the unions had taken a certain course and that I had no doubt that they, very properly, had required the time to submit their case fully. I offered no criticism of the unions, nor do. I do so now. I stressed in an earlier reply the fact that the basic wage application was of very great importance, and very properly was being dealt with fully, both by the court and by the representatives of the parties appearing before the court. I point out to the House, so that honorable members may know where the balance of courtesy lies, that after the honorable member had asked his question I undertook to give a detailed statement, if possible. A reply was prepared for me by my department but, because I wished the honorable member to be supplied with full details, I amended the statement to give a diarized account of the proceedings before the court, showing how many days had been occupied with procedural matters, how many days had been occupied in argument, the number of days the unions had taken to pre sent their case, and the number of days taken up by the employers. I went to considerable trouble, and it would have been a reciprocal gesture if the honorable member, knowing that he intended to raise the matter last night, had’ intimated as much to me. I was present in the House during a good deal of the discussion in order to hear whether any matter was raised affecting my department. 3 have at no time criticized the anions for taking up too much time in presenting their case, nor have I attempted to evade any discussion arising out of the question asked by the honorable member. I shall take the first opportunity available to me next week, after I have studied the report of the honorable member’s remarks, to deal with the statements made by him.
– in reply - I shall be very happy to lay on the table of the Library all relevant papers dealing with the sale of Hotel Ainslie.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Customs Act - Customs Proclamation - No. 765.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes - Jerilderie, New South Wales.
Life Insurance Act - Fourth Annual Report of the Insurance Commissioner, for 1949.
Wool .Use Promotion Act- Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, Ho. 8.
House adjourned at 12.32 .p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be furnished as soon as possible.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 April 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19500421_reps_19_207/>.