19th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at . 1.0.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I again direct the attention of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to the urgent need for the granting of financial assistance to dried fruit growers in the Murray Valley of Victoria. I am aware that the Bureau of Agricultural Economics is at present conducting a survey of the industry, but immediate assistance by way of grant is necessary. Will the honorable gentleman place the full facts of the case before Cabinet and recommend that substantial assistance be given to the Government of Victoria for the payment of such a grant? Such a grant should be made to offset rain damage and should be apart from any relief that may result from the investigations of any cost of production inquiry.
– Following the original request of the honorable member I visited Mildura and as the outcome of my inquiries there I arranged for the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to investigate the general economic circumstances of the dried vine fruits industry and the effect of the adverse seasonal conditions that have been experienced by growers in the Murray Valley area. The bureau has made considerable progress with its investigations and as soon as it is possible for it to mate a detailed assessment of the emergency nature of the needs of the industry and its general economic needs, I shall bring the matter before Cabinet for consideration. I cannot promise, however, that that will be done immediately.
– Has the Minister for Supply seen a press statement that the Lithgow Small Arms Factory is making a new sub-machine gun? If such a gun is being manufactured, is it intended for general service use?
– I have seen a press statement to the effect that the Lithgow Small Arms Factory is making some such weapon but no question of its general service use has yet arisen because production of the gun is still in the experimental stage. That project is a classified project and accordingly information concerning it should not be disclosed without the consent of the Minister.I most certainly did not give any information about it and the manager of the small arms factory has informed me that he did not do so either. I am trying to ascertain who did so. If I find that the information was disclosed by some person in my department, he will not remain there much longer.
– I address a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. The previous Government promulgated certain regulations dealing with the labelling of important textiles in order to protect the consumers of Australia as well as our important woolgrowing industry. In view of press reports will the honorable gentleman state whether it is the intention of the present Government to weaken those regulations in any way?
– Representations have been made to the Government for some variation of existing regulations and the Minister for Trade and Customs and I heard the views of a deputation on that subject some months ago. Representations presenting a contrary point of view have also been made. No decision has been arrived at partly because the chairman of the Australian Wool Board, who is accepted as an authority on this matter, but, who, I think, holds the contrary point of view, was on a visit abroad from which he returned a few days ago. I had arranged that the matter should not be considered on any final basis until he had returned. I can assure the honorable member and all concerned that the Government will not take any step that has within it the embodiment of any menace totheAustralianwoolindustry.
– I direct to the Minister acting for the Minister for Civil Aviation a question that refers to the proposed Warrnambool-Melbourne air service. Can the Minister state when a decision will be published in connexion with the commencement of that service, which is patiently awaited by residents of Warrnambool and the surrounding district?
– It has been decided to allot the proposed service to Ansett Airways Proprietary Limited, but for the time being on a restricted basis only because of the fact that the Warrnambool aerodrome is not in a condition to allow the operation of wet-weather services. The conversion of the aerodrome into an all-weather airfield will be a major task which will take, I should guess, about twelve months. In addition, all the other facilities normal to a commercial aerodrome would have to be provided. The Government will go ahead with that work, but I can give no indication that the licence for the service will be other than a restricted licence, because of the condition of the field, until possibly a year has passed.
-I ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Civil Aviation a question relative to the difficulty that is reported to have arisen in connexion with the proposed flight to New Zealand of a Captain Bradshaw and his family. Captain Bradshaw claims the right to complete his flight under the International Air Convention. Will the Minister inform the House what the position is and, if possible, arrange for the transport to New Zealand of the Bradshaw family, or else reach some understanding with Captain Bradshaw?
– I had a considerable discussion with Captain Bradshaw last night, as a result of which I still adhere to my previous view that we should not be right in allowing him and his wife and child to proceed to New Zealand in a small single-engine aircraft, because I believe that the hazard of such a flight in such an aircraft is far too great. However, I am perfectly willing, as the Minister acting for the Minister for
Civil Aviation, to allow Captain Bradshaw to proceed alone in his own aircraft, if he wishes to do so. If he chose to do so the Government would find, through Tasman Empire Airway? Limited, passages for his wife and child to New Zealand. If he declines that offer then passages will be offered to the whole family through Tasman Empire Airways Limited.
– Will the Government pay for those passages?
– Why should it do so?
– The Government has put a disability on this gentleman by preventing him from flying to New Zealand, and it will approach the New Zealand Government with a view to having it share the cost of the passages.
– I preface a question to the Minister for the Navy by stating that in the early part of last year, during the term of office of the previous Government, several technical officers were brought out from the United Kingdom under contract to the Royal Australian Navy and under bond to serve for a period of years. On arrival in Melbourne with their wives these men discovered that the only accommodation that had been reserved for them was at a hotel, at a weekly tariff of £15 to £20 a week. No alternative accommodation was made available. Their salaries were in no way commensurate with the tariff charged by the hotel, and consequently they have been compelled to accept the most indifferent boarding accommodation elsewhere. Is this state of affairs in accordance with the policy of the present Government in relation to the bringing to Australia of technical officers? Will the Minister see that when technicians are brought to Australia under bond reasonable accommodation at a “tariff commensurate with their wages is guaranteed on their arrival?
– I am surprised to hear the statement of the honorable member. It does not represent the policy of the Government. I can hardly believe that at any time a naval rating or any other member of the service has been required to pay board and lodgings at the rate he has mentioned. However, to overcome the problem referred to the department has taken over “ Whitehall “ at Sorrento in Victoria, a boarding house which will accommodate 100 families at a reasonable cost, and at “ Capricornia “ in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales it has established a boarding house capable of accommodating150 families. By this and other means much has been done to meet the need for accommodation for the naval personnel. The Minister for Works and Housing is acquiring prefabricated houses overseas, and a very substantial number of them will be made available to the three services. I thank the honorable member for bringing this matter under my notice. If the honorable member will also give me the name of the technical officer to whom he has referred I shall arrange for one of the naval welfare officers in Melbourne to do what he can to assist him in improving his accommodation.
– I desire to ask the Minister acting for the Minister for Defence a question on a subject to which I have referred on previous occasions. In view of the recent statements by the Minister for the Army that the rate of recruitment for the services is much below the figure required, mainly because of the low rate of pay, and in view of the continued increase in living costs and the continued increase in wages paid in industry has the Government yet given consideration to granting a reasonable increase in the rates of pay for servicemen ? If not, when will consideration he given to that matter?
– As I stated on a previous occasion, the rates of pay and conditions of all members of the services are under constant consideration and when increases are considered tobe necessary, they will be granted.
Broadcasting of ProceedingsPhotographs.
-I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, a question which is prompted by letters I have received concerning interjections and noise in this House when the proceedings are being broadcast. 1 refer particularly to comments and interjections that have been made at the table and which are not audible to honorable members, but are clearly audible in the broadcast. During recess will you confer with your engineers in order to arrange the microphones so thatbroadcasts will not include comment or interjections which are not generally audible to the House?
-It is quite impossible to do as the honorable member has suggested while microphones are in use in the House. Honorable members are apparently unconvinced of the sensitiveness of these microphones, but comments which have been made at the table and which I have sometimes not heard and things that have been said by honorable members in other parts of the House have been repeated to me by letter. In some cases I have discovered who made the statements, which were of a nature that should not have been made in this chamber. The remedy rests with honorable members themselves and not with the Speaker. If honorable members will indulge in private conversations and pleasantries across the table or in other parts of the House in front of live microphones there is no remedy that the Speaker or the engineers can apply.
-I desire to address a question to you, Mr. Speaker. Recently, a photograph was taken of this chamber to adorn the walls of the new House of Commons, but, unfortunately, honorable members who occupy the back benches are obscure in it, I believe that, as the result, the best features in. the House are missing from the photograph. Can you, Mr. Speaker, arrange to have a photograph taken in which all honorable members will appear? I believe that such a photograph could be taken from various points in the chamber other than from under the clock in the public gallery from which the previous photograph was taken. Cameras could probably be placed at the entries from the Government lobby and the Opposition lobby respectively. I should also like to see you, Mr. Speaker, included in such a photograph because I think that your wig and robes of office are most impressive, and would help to adorn the picture. Perhaps you are not aware, sir, that copies of the photograph are on sale at 5s. each. Such a copy is of no value to me at the moment, because I do not appear in it. I hope that another photograph of the chamber will be taken, in which the occupants of the back benches will appear. No doubt it will be some time before they get to the front benches, but they will progress there in due course. I suggest that if we who sit on the back benches were satisfactorily included in the photograph, copies of it might sell for as much as 7s. 6d. each. My colleagues and I who sit some distance from the front bench would like to appear in a photograph of the chamber so thai our great-great grandchildren and their children could point their fingers at the greatness of their ancestors.
– The arrangements for taking the photograph of this chamber were made by the Department of Information. s
– The Department of Information no longer exists.
– A section of the former Department of Information is now functioning as the News and Information Bureau at the Department of the Interior. Many attempts were made to find the nest point from which the House could be photographed. It was impossible, I was told, to include the whole chamber in one photograph. The empty House was used for experimental purposes, and, after many experiments, it was decided that the most advantageous position was from below the clock in the public gallery. Honorable members who occupy the back benches could not be be satisfactorily focussed in the photograph. I regret, in view of the purpose for which the photograph was taken, that neither the Government nor the Opposition front bench was very fully occupied at the time. That is a matter on which I simply comment. The honorable member for Banks has referred to the rate of progress of honorable gentlemen from the back benches to the front benches in this chamber. That matter presents great difficulties in a case of this kind, but the honorable member will realize, as he has seen the photograph, that it is one of the few occasions on which I am allowed to take the centre of the stage.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In view of the late stage of the session, will he consider : How many motor cars have been imported into Australia from the United States of America since the ending of the permit allocation system? What are the makes of the cars that have been imported and the number of each make? Will the right honorable gentleman also give me full details of the number of each make of motor car allocated to the various States and also the number of cars allocated to city and country areas within the various States? If he is not in a positon to answer this question immediately, will he regard it as having been placed on the notice-paper and give me an answer some time during the parliamentary recess?
– I hope the honorable member will not be disappointed when I say that oddly enough I have not the precise figures with me. I shall endeavour to obtain the information asked for.
– Some weeks ago I raised the question of soil erosion in Australia. Is the Minister for National Development aware that since that time the process of soil erosion, particularly on the east coast of Australia, has been greatly accelerated by the heavy rains during the extended wet season? Is he also aware that the existing soil conservation authorities in the States, whale doing excellent work, particularly in a technical advisory capacity, represent a totally inadequate means of stemming the process of soil erosion which now constitutes a threat to primary productive effort in Australia? I again ask the Minister to give consideration, under the plans for national, development, to the formation of a Commonwealth body to work in conjunction with the States so that this problem may be dealt with on a national basis ?
-I am well aware that the recent abnormal rains have probably had the effect that the honorable member has mentioned. However, I cannot see that the States are necessarily wholly inadequate to cope with the soil erosion and soil conservation problem. So far as the matter concerns the departments for which I am responsible. I shall certainly give it consideration. If necessary, I shall act in conjunction with other Ministers concerned.
-I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation whether the Government has given final consideration to the numerous requests of service organizations for the issue of a special identification badge or cardto ex-servicemen suffering from war neurosis. If so, what has been the result of that consideration? By way of explanation of the reason for my question, I say that in many cases of war neurosis, the unfortunate sufferers have been picked up and taken to gaols or reception houses instead of to hospitals.
-I shall be pleased to refer the’ question to the Minister for Repatriation. I am under the impression that so far the matter has not been investigated, but I shall discuss it at length with the Minister.
– Will the Minister for
Supply find it possible during the forthcoming recess to travel to the various States in connexion with the future of the shipbuilding industry in the Commonwealth and if it can be arranged, address meetings on the subject?
-I do not know what I can do about addressing meetings. I am always ready to address a meeting if one canbe assembled to listen, to me. During the parliamentary recess I intend to visit certain shipbuilding yards in Australia.I shall go toWhyalla, in South Australia, and to certain yards in Queensland and New South Wales. Whether I address meetings or not will depend on whether people want me to talk to them.
-Will the Minister for Health inform the House whether the executive officers of the New South Wales Rail, Tram and Omnibus Employees Hospital and Subsidiary Funds have made known to him their existence, the scope of their activities and the membership of their organization ? If so, will the claims of the organization be given appropriate consideration when the details of the Government’s proposed health scheme are being finally determined ?
-I have had several consultations with the executive officers of that body. They are kept well informed of the Government’s intentions.
-I direct a question to the Minister acting for the Minister for Defence concerning defence against atomic warfare. The possibility of atomic attacks may be extremely remote, but should such assaults occur, they will almost certainly come suddenly. In view of the fact that all large cities in Australia constitute almost perfect targets for atomic weapons, will the Minister say whether plans for civil defence have been considered ? Have any steps been taken to educate the public in the precautions that should be taken againstboth the immediate effects and the after effects of an atomic explosion? Have members of the medical profession been placed in possession of sufficient, knowledge to enable them to play their part effectively in the event of an atomic assault? Has consideration been given to the provision of leadlined or other rooms suitable for use as shelters in hospitals, particularly maternity hospitals?
-Action has been taken to provide for civil defence against all forms of attack that maybe expected in the next war. The Director of Civil Defence is Mr. Carrodus, who is already in consultation with his opposite numbers in the various States with a view to arranging for the necessary defence preparations to be made. In addition, Brigadier Waddell is overseas at present investigating what is being done in the
United Kingdom and on the continent in respect of civil defence.We expect to he able to expand our activities considerably upon his return to Australia.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether final agreement has been reached between the Australian Government and the Government of New South Wales in respect of the appointment of a chairman of the Joint Coal Board? If an appointment has been made, what is the name of the gentleman concerned?
– As the honorable member knows, the appointment is made jointly by this Government and the Government of New South “Wales and therefore it requires a joint announcement. A joint announcement has now been made of the appointment of Mr. S. F. Cochran, who is at present the chairman of the Queensland State Electricity Commission.
– Will the Minister for National Development inform me how the estimated cost of prefabricated homes compares with the cost of locally-built homes of similar size and type ? Has any comparison been made of the man-power required to erect a prefabricated house and a locally-built house respectively?
– The tenders that have been received for about 1,700 prefabricated houses that are to be imported by this Government show that the cost of a prefabricated house at Canberra will be about the same as the cost of a locally-built house of the same size and type. The costs of prefabricated houses in Sydney and Melbourne and the environs of those cities will be about £200 each more than that of locally built houses. It is too early yet to be able to state with any degree of precision how many man-hours will be involved in the erection of each prefabricated house. However, estimates indicate that, on a conservative basis, a prefabricated house can be erected and connected to all essential services for a man-hour expenditure of less than half of that required for a locally-built house. Those are approximately the figures in prognosis, which we shall be able to check when the houses are actually erected.
– Will the Minister for the Army inform me whether the decision that was made recently to provide motor cars for seriously disabled ex-servicemen has been given effect to? If it has not, can the Minister state whether any progress has been made in the matter, and how the needs of those men are being met?
-On behalf of the Minister for Repatriation, who deals with the matter which has been raised by the honorable member for Port Adelaide, I am pleased to say that approval has been granted for the provision of motor cars for seriously disabled personnel. I think that approximately 90 ex-servicemen are involved in the matter, but I shall obtain for the honorable gentleman fuller details, including the conditions under which the motor vehicles have been made available, and give them to him before the House adjourns.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seen a report to the effect that the New South Wales Minister in charge of prices control, Mr. Finnan, has sent officers to Albury to blockade the road in order to prevent Victorian onions from entering New South Wales? Can the Minister give the House the reason for such action which, on the face of it, appears to be an infringement of section 92 of the Constitution ?
– I have to confess that I have no knowledge of the alleged incident, but I shall make inquiries about it and ascertain whether the Commonwealth has any authority in respect of any aspect of it.
– Many people in my electorate are concerned about the difficulty of obtaining insulin, which I understand is supplied by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. Can the Minister for Health indicate whether it will be possible to maintain sufficient supplies of the drug to meet the needs of the community ?
– The pancreatic secretion of certain beasts which is used in the manufacture of insulin has been in short supply, but everything is being done by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to maintain adequate supplies of the drug to meet the needs of the community.
– What assurance can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture give concerning the future price of beef? This matter iscausing great concern to the beef industry in northern Queensland. For how long will the present export price continue? What are the prospects for the beef and pig meat industries, particularly in relation to beef prices, should Argentina again become a serious competitor on the overseas market?
– The Government fully realizes the importance of the beef industry to northern Queensland. I am able to inform the honorable member that the present contract with the United Kingdom Government will continue until September, 1951. The price received under that contract is regarded as satisfactory. The United Kingdom Government desires to continue contracts of this kind on a governmenttogovernment basis of purchase and it has agreed to engage in negotiations, which are now about to be commenced, with a view to examining the possibility of arranging a firm contract for fifteen years under which the United Kingdom would take the whole of Australia’s beef surplus, or as much of that surplus as Australia would wish to sell to it. I have attended meetings of the Australian Meat Board and have had discussions with the board’s chairman, Mr. Shute, and individual members of the board with respect to those negotiations. As the result of those discussions I have given certain instructions to the Deputy High Commissioner at London, Mr. McCarthy, who will be our principal negotiator; and in order that the board and the beef-producing inteersts should be adequately represented during the negotiations I arranged for Mr. Shute and Mr. Brodie, who is one of the Queensland representatives on the board, to go to London to act as consultants to the Deputy High Commissioner. Both of those gentlemen are in London at present. The beef industry may rest assured that not only is the Government doing its best to arrange a satisfactory extension of the present contract in its interests but also that the industry will actually participate in the negotiations. One of the Government’s objectives is to secure for a substantial period of years - we are aiming at a period of six years - a definite floor price for beef below which the price under the contract would not fall and at the same time, to leave the way open to negotiate each year for a higher price should circumstances warrant an increase being arranged. Those facts indicate that the Australian Government is doing its best to ensure that the beef industry shall be safeguarded against competition from Argentina. The same procedure is being followed in respect of sales of pig meat, which is also covered by an existing contract with the United Kingdom Government. We shall endeavour to renew that contract on the best possible terms in respect of pig meat.
-by leave- On the 13th June the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Dr. Nott) asked a question of the Minister for Works and Housing in relation to the provision of housing for the staff of the Australian National University. To the degree to which matter has relation to the Department of the Interior, the following information is supplied in answer to the honorable member’s question: -
So far as houses under the control of the Department of the Interior are concerned, any tenancies granted to members of the staff of the Australian National University are under precisely the same conditions as apply to other tenancies.
In regard to the houses that have been acquired or are being erected by the university, my department has no information concerning the rentals or financial arrangements involved, whichare the direct responsibility of the Interim Council of the University.
With regard to the particular house to which the honorable member refers aB being erected Tor Professor Oliphant on a lease applied for by lii ni, I am able to state that the house is located within the Canberra City Area, and water and electric power can readily be supplied from the mains designed to serve the surrounding area. The services mentioned ure expected to be available by the time the actual construction, which has just been commenced, reaches an advanced stage. Sewerage connexion to the mains will not be practicable until the subdivisional development now being planned has been further advanced. Professor Oliphant arranged with a Canberra architect to design and erect his residence in accordance with approved plans and specifications. Pending his arrival in Canberra, I am informed that the Interim Council if the university has proceeded with arrangements for erecting the house.
– On the 26th April I asked the Prime Minister a question relative to the quarterly adjustment of the Phasic wage. I pointed out that on every occasion on which the basic wage is increased thousands of wage earners lose cither one or two weeks’ increase and that this practice had caused grave hardship among those who receive low wages. The right honorable gentleman replied that lie would treat my question as though it had been placed on the notice-paper. I ask him when I may expect to receive an answer to my question?
– I can only express my regret that the honorable member had not had an answer to his question before now. I shall take steps to ascertain why the answer has not been prepared and furnished to the honorable gentleman.
– I address a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture relative to the need for the conservation of fodder supplies. Honorable members will realize that although we are now enjoying bounteous, seasons we may at any time be suddenly confronted by drought conditions which would have a serious effect on fodder supplies. Will the Minister arrange for the Australian Agricultural Council, at its next meeting, to review the fodder position throughout the States with the object of endeavouring to remove some of the difficulties that confront farmers in their efforts to conserve fodder, principally the difficulty of obtaining harvesting machinery and other requirements, so that greater progress may be made in the conservation of fodder while the seasonal conditions remain favorable ?
– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman is of the utmost importance to the country. Farmers and graziers on their own initiative should take the opportunity of a combination of good seasons and high prices for their products to prepare for adverse seasons which will inevitably occur. There are many respects in which government assistance and co-operation can contribute to nation-wide fodder conservation. In so far as it is within the power of the Commonwealth to assist by facilitating either the manufacture or the importation of fodder preserving machinery, I assure the honorable member that I am interesting myself in the matter and that I shall continue to do so. I gladly accept his suggestion that this subject should be brought before the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council at which it can be fully discussed by the representatives of this Government and of the six State governments.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is a fact that the Government proposes to amend the Defence Act in order to make it possible for conscripted men to serve overseas in any theatre of war $ If so, does the Prime Minister consider that such action is within his mandate on compulsory military training?
– The Government has made no decision of the kind to which the honorable member has referred. The whole problem of military training is at present, if I may use the term, part heard before the Cabinet. Certainly no decision of the kind referred to is involved.
– Has the Government yet considered a request by Communist-dominated Czechoslovakia for the reduction of tariff duties on a large number of imports that were im posed for the purpose of protecting Australian industries? Will the Prime Minister give the House the opportunity to examine the nature of the request before a decision is made in relation to it?
– The matter referred to by the honorable member was brought before my colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs and myself a few days ago by a deputation. We discussed it with the members of the deputation, whose views are at present under active consideration by my colleague and myself.
Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong- Prime
Minister) - by leave - On the motion for the adjournment of the House on Tuesday, the 30th May, the right honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred to police investigations made recently in Melbourne, concentrating on the families of members of Kadimah, a Jewish cultural and literary society. Subsequently, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Eraser) placed on the notice-paper a series of questions relating apparently to the same matters and referring in particular to a Mr. Jules Meltzer. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), who was in charge of the House when the matters were first raised, undertook to make inquiries.I say at once, and categorically, that neither the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), to whom the honorable member for Eden-Monaro addressed his questions, nor any other Commonwealth Minister, directed anysuch inquiry as those alleged to have been carried out. It is a sound general rule that information should not be given about inquiries which the security service has, or has not, thought it necessary to make. Responsibility for making all inquiries necessary for the preservation of internal security in Australia has been vested in the Director-General of Security, who in this regard is not subject to any ministerial direction whatever. Nevertheless, in view of the plain political intention of the Questions asked by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I state, again categorically, that no officer of the Commonwealth has, in fact, made, taken part in, or requested any of the police investigations that have been referred to. I think it well to add that in future I propose to follow the practice that was established by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) when in office and not to deal in the Parliament with the activities of this service. On the 27th May. 1949, the right honorable gentleman said in this House -
It is not the practice in this, or in any other country, to discuss in the Parliament the methods employed by an organization of that kind. Therefore, I do not propose to deal with such details here. The work of the security organization is entrusted to highly qualified men who can be considered to be completelyimpartial. Should any matter arise which I believe should be reported to the Parliament, I shall take that course.
I simply add that I also shall adopt that practice.
– by have - I desire to announce the re-appointment of two commissioners to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. They are Sir John Medley, who was formerly vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, who has been a member of the commission for three years and has been re-appointed for a further period of three years. The second appointment is that of Mr.C. W. Anderson, vice-president of the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council, who has also been a member of the commission for three years and has been re-appointed for a similar further term. Executive approval has been given for both re-appointments.
The following bills were returned from the Senate : -
With amendments -
Commonwealth Bank Bill 1050.
Without amendment -
State Grants (Coal Mining Industry Long Service Leave) Bill 1950.
Wool Realization Bill 1.950.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Bill1950.
Wool (Reserve Prices) Fund Bill 1950.
National ity and Citizenship (Burmese) Bill 1950.
Without requests -
Wool (Contributory Charge) (No. 1) Bill 1950.
Wool (Contributory Charge) (No. 2) Bill 1950.
Bill returned from the Senate with a message intimating that it had disagreed to the amendments made by the House of Representatives to the Senate’s amendments Nos. 7 and 16, and that it insisted on its amendments Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 28 for the reasons given in the annexed schedule.
Debate resumed from the 6th June (vide page 3742), on motion by Mr. Wentworth -
That, in the opinion of this House, the Federal Government’s efforts to increase the production of open-cut coal in Australia should be continued and intensified; and, further, that the present underhand sabotage of open-cut coal production by the New South Wales Labour Government should be checked as far as possible.
.-I consider that the production of open-cut coal is of vital importance to the Commonwealth and it is unfortunate that in recent times the discussion of this important subject appears to have assumed a party-political significance. I believe that it is wrong to regard this matter from a party-political point of view. Only a few weeks ago some statements were made during the debate on the adjournment of the House regarding the attitude of the Queensland Government towards the Callide coal-field. On that occasion, I took strong exception to the way in which the matter had been presented. I believe very firmly that not only should open-cut coal-mining be developed speedily throughout Australia, but that the Callide deposits in Queensland in particular should receive every consideration and should be thoroughly developed, because the Callide field is one of the largest coalfields in Australia where coal is readily accessible and a considerable amount of developmental work has already been carried out there. Since this matter was previously debated in the House, I have attempted to obtain some information on the position in relation to the Callide field. I have previously expressed the opinion that it would be a great mistake to carry the railway line from the field to Rockhampton so as to provide an outlet for the coal produced. I have stated that I consider that Queensland has, in Gladstone, a port that could become the second port of the Commonwealth if it were properly developed. It has every potential that is necessary for the making of a splendid port. I believe that the railway from the Callide field should not be constructed to Rockhampton, but should run through Calliope. That route would leave a road haul of only 16 miles, which would be comparatively simple. I believe that Gladstone must be developed as a port, not only for the sake of Queensland and of central Queensland in particular, but also in the interests of the Commonwealth, so that ‘ we shall be able to get the vast industrial resources that lie inland from it. Coal is being imported to Australia from India and ‘South Africa and I understand that the Australian Government is paying a subsidy on it. The necessity for the importation of that coal arises from the fact that we are unable to build up our urgently needed stockpiles from local production speedily enough. I am in agreement with that proposition, but at the same time I believe that we should be developing our own internal coal resources. For that reason I should like to see a successful outcome of the investigations that have gone on for the last week or so in Queensland regarding the development of the Callide field. It has been stated, but I am not certain about the accuracy of the figures quoted, that overseas coal can be imported to Melbourne at a cost slightly lower than that at which coal produced in Queensland can be transported to Melbourne. Would the Government give serious consideration to the fact that in subsidizing the importation of coal from overseas we are sending money out of the country, whereas by putting the same money to work in the development of our own internal coal production we would assist considerably in national development. We must also consider that there is a royalty of 6d. a ton paid to the Queensland Government on all coal from the Callide field and there is a 5s. a ton road tax also. While the upkeep of that road is undoubtedly extremely heavy, there is also undoubtedly some profit derived from that road tax. Another important levy is that of 6d. a ton excise that is contributed for the payment of miners’ pensions. There are very few miners working at Callide. I agree that this money is essential to provide pensions, but, to a. certain extent, it is being paid into a fund under’ false pretences because there are practically no miners working there, and it is a considerable source of profit .to the Government. As I have said, there is a 5s. a ton road tax on all coal coming from the field. There is also a petrol tax which works out at approximately 2s. 6d. for every ton of coal moved from the field. That petrol tax represents an almost clear profit to the Government. In addition, I believe that there are some 89 coal trucks and about a dozen or so other vehicles there, all of which pay registration fees. If the Government were to look at the matter from this point of view and consider the considerable amount of .tax obtained from the purchase of items of heavy equipment, I think it would easily find thai the coal is actually being produced at a profit between £1 and £2 a ton. The development of vital industries within our own Commonwealth, should not even be threatened with being hamstrung by the underground mines to the extent that they have been threatened in the past. Open-cut coal-mines must be developed, not only as an economic measure but, to a large extent, as a defence measure. Honorable members have heard u lot of talk recently about getting some value back into the £1 and the working of some of these open-cut coal-mines woUld be one method of ensuring that value will eventually be put back into the £1
I have only seen Callide for a little while and .that was some considerable time ago, before a commencement was made with the production of coal. It is a district in which I should not care to live, but a considerable number of men are living there now. A lot of machinery is there which is capable of doing a very good job, and I think that the Government should use its influence to ensure that in the comparatively near future a decision is made which will ensure the development of the Callide field. I do not think that that decision should wait until some time in the future. Machinery and men are at Callide, but the men cannot stay there unless .they are in paying employment, and I think that the Commonwealth Government would be well advised to give every consideration to granting assistance in the development of open-cut fields in general and the Callide field in particular.
– I welcome the opportunity provided by this debate to bring to the notice of the Government the importance of the Leigh Creek coal-field, which is capable of supplying South Australia with the major quantity of coal it requires for the production of electricity. The Electricity Trust of South Australia, since it took over from the Adelaide Electric Supply Company, has done a magnificent job in supplying electricity to parts of the State which had been neglected by the Adelaide Electric Supply Company, an instrument of private enterprise, which was not prepared to send electricity to parts of the State that were badly in need of it because its supply would not have provided a satisfactory profit. I believe that; statistics will show that the development of Leigh Creek coalfield would allow about 500,000 tons of black coal now going to South Australia, from New South Wales to be diverted elsewhere. The field is quite capable of producing the coal necessary to dispense with the need for using any New South Wales coal for the production nf electric power. During the coal strike the South Australian Government was able to produce 13,000 tens of coal a week from the open-cut field at Leigh Creek, but, to-day, that production has been permitted to slip back to about 6,000 or 7,000 tons a week. The South Australian Government has evidently deliberately permitted the production of coal at the open-cut field at Leigh Creek to drop to about 50 per cent, of what the field was proved to be capable of producing during the coal strike. The Government cannot accuse the Communist party of being responsible for the reduction that has taken place. It cannot blame any other organization or factor for the reduction. Its own ineptitude must be held responsible. The employees engaged in the production of the coal at Leigh Creek are members of the Australian’ Workers Union and since Leigh Creek has been in operation the members of that union have had only one strike which occurred four years ago when they protested against the intrusion of the Communist-dominated miners’ union and against working side by side with people who were there as the direct agents of the thenCommunist deminated miners’ federation. I visited Leigh Creek for the sole purpose of destroying the efforts of this Communist dominated organization to gain control of South Australia’s only known supplies of fuel. The Australian Workers Union received very little assistance from the South Australian Government in that regard and when the union requested that Government to assist it to keep Leigh Creek free from the domination of the Communist-controlled miners’ federation which sent directions from Sydney to its men at Leigh Creek and asked that the Government should give preference of employment to the Australian Workers Union, the Government said that it could not do that because the Liberal party did not believe in preference to unionists.
-Who said that?
– The Premier of South Australia. He said that the Liberal party’s policy was so strict in that respect that he, as Premier of the State, would have to abide by it even if, as a result, all the coal-field employees at Leigh Creek became members of the miners’ federation. That was the attitude of the Liberal Premier of South Australia on that occasion. It was due entirely to the courageous stand of the officials of the Australian Workers Union in South Australia that Leigh Greek coal-field to-day is not under the domination of the Communist-controlled miners federation. Had it not been for my efforts and the efforts of officers of the Australian Workers Union such as Mr. Galvin, Mr. O’Connor, and Mr. Murphy, that field to-day would not be free from the domination of the elements which, in the past, have controlled the coal-fields of New South Wales.
– The Electricity Trust of South Australia has helped far more than has the honorable member or the Australian Workers Union.
– I thank the honorable member for that interjection, because he was a member of the Electricity Trust of South Australia when I requested that the men employed by it be granted the same standard working hours as. might be enjoyed by workers in open-cuts in New South Wales in the event of a working week of less than 40 hours being granted by the tribunal. The Electricity Trust of South Australia by letter, a copy of which is in my possession, said that it was not prepared to give to Australian Workers Union workers engaged in the opencuts at Leigh Creek the same standard hours as might be awarded to opencut workers in New South Wales who were members of the Communistcontrolled miners’ federation. It appeared from that statement that the Electricity Trust of South Australia, of which the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) was a member, was deliberately attempting to play off the Australian Workers Union against the miners’ federation, and that its only interest in keeping the Australian Workers Union in the field at Leigh Creek was that of using it as a means of avoiding the granting of conditions that it would have had to giveto members of the miners’ federation.
-Is the Electricity Trust of South Australia a State or a. private undertaking?
– It is a State undertaking that is governed by a board. Ultimately, after having gone to a. great deal of trouble to convince the trust that its action would have no other result than that which I have mentioned, and after having been compelled to take other steps which I do not propose to disclose in this House, the trust altered its first decision and under great pressure promised that in regard to standard hours the Leigh Creek workers would be given the same conditions as were enjoyedby workers in the New South Wales field. It is obvious that the Electricity Trust of South Australia, which was then, and still is, under the domination of the Liberal Government of South Australia, had no intention whatsoever of giving to the Australian Workers Union men employed in the open-cut field at Leigh Creek the same working conditions as at that time were thought likely to be awarded to the workers in the open-cut fields in New South Wales.
– The Electricity Trust of South Australia is an independent body and is not under the domination of any outside persons or organizations.
– If you had heard a telephone conversation that I heard-
– Order ! The honorable member must address me.
– If the honorable member had heard a telephone conversation that ‘I heard, his viewpoint would be quite different. Many of the recommendations made to him, as a private member of the Electricity Trust of South Australia, by the chairman of the trust, may have emanated from the mind of some politician. However, the fact is that not one of those recommendations was ever rejected by the members of the trust, including the honorable memheifer Angas.
– Tell us more about this telephone conversation.
– I know that you are only repeating, Tom-
– Order !
– I apologize and withdraw that statement, Mr. Speaker. It came out hurriedly and I did not mean to make it. The Australian Government must provide sufficient money to build, or must itself have built, a 4-f t. §-£-in. gauge railway line from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta. That work must be done quickly. The Electricity Trust of South Australia is building a modern power station at Port Augusta which will cost about £2,000,000, and the full benefit of that station will not be obtained unless the Australian Government provides the necessary finance for the construction of a new railway line from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta.
– Is there not an agreement on that matter in existence?
– No; they are fooling round with a proposal to widen the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway line from Port Augusta via Quorn to Leigh Creek, but the only answer to the problem of transporting the coal from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta lies in providing a standard gauge line on the western side of the Flinders Range so that it will not be necessary to traverse hills and take sharp corners through Horrocks Pass between Port Augusta and Quorn. The winding tracks from Port Augusta to Quorn and the hilly grades associated with the line between Beltana and Leigh Creek must be avoided if cheap transport for coal is to be provided between Leigh Creek and Port Augusta.
– Was there not a decision of the Chifley Government on that point ?
– No, the only decision of the Chifley Government in respect of this matter was that the line was desirable and that money for it would be provided. If the South Australian Government wanted to build the line itself and provided 30 per cent, of the money, the Australian Government was prepared, to provide the balance for the construction of this South Australian railway. The railway from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta should be a Commonwealth undertaking. The Chifley Government was prepared to construct that line wholly at Commonwealth expense. It made an arrangement with the South Australian Government to transport coal from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta at a rate a ton a mile much below the rate at which it is possible to transport coal economically.
– What was the rate.?
– One halfpenny a ton a mile, I think.
– That is less than 50 per cent, of the economic rate.
– Yes. It is impossible to transport coal at that rate on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line, on which the maximum tonnage for a coal train is about 300 tons. If the job is to be done economically the coal must be carried on trains that can haul at least 1,500 tons, and preferably 2,000 tons. That cannot be done while they are tinkering at the present railway system.
-Are any hopper trucks used?
– No, they also will be provided. The coal is being consigned at present in small wooden trucks which are quite uneconomical, and should not be used more than is necessary. The chief value of developing the Leigh. Creek open-cut and constructing a 4-ft.8½in. gauge railway line from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta lies in the fact that it would enable the power station now being constructed at Port Augusta to burn wholly Leigh Creek coal. That station would provide sufficient power to enable industry in South Australia to be widely decentralized. On the eastern coast of Spencer’s Gulf there are three very good ports. They are Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Wallaroo. The electricity generated at Port Augusta could be fed along the eastern coast of Spencer’s Gulf to Wallaroo, where the industries would be only 90 miles from Adelaide, and. would be easily accessible to overseas ships if the products of the industries that followed in its train were to be sent overseas.
It might be said that the cost of such an undertaking is too great to warrant its execution. In reply to that, I remind honorable members that we are already paying a subsidy on coal imported from South Africa and India. If that money were used in the construction of the railway line that I have been speaking about, and in furthering the development of the Leigh Creek coal-field, South Australia would become almost self-sufficient in coal, and would have to rely on New South Wales coal only for the production of gas. Leigh Creek coal can be used for the burning of bricks when it has been steam dried. I have seen how the Hoffman kilns in South Australia, as the result of experiments, have developed a means of burning bricks by the use of Leigh Creek coal without oil.
– What is its calorific value?
– I cannot remember. It is not so high as that of black coal, but it is much higher than that of Yallourn coal and I understand that it is equal to that of Callide coal.
– It is better than that of Wonthaggi coal.
– Yes. An important fact is that the quality of Leigh Creek coal is improving. Coal produced from what is known as the northern field is of very much better quality than the coal that is being quarried from the opencut field at Leigh Creek itself.
– Who is entitled to the credit for the development of the Leigh Creek coal-field?
– The Australian Government, which provided a capital sum of £350,000 in order that the State Government could carry out the work.
– Is no credit due to the Premier of South Australia?
– I thank the honorable member for that interjection because it reminds me that the Premier, when he first proposed to undertake the mining of coal at Leigh Creek, had to depend upon the Labour Opposition in the State Parliament in order to have the necessary legislation passed. Had it not been for the support that was given to him by Mr. R, S. Richards, who was then the Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament, the powers that be - in other words the people who controlled the Adelaide Electric Supply Company Limited - would probably have prevented the passage of the bill as the result of the pressure that they brought to hear upon their cohorts in the upper house of the legislature. In fact, when the Premier sought to enlist the help of the Adelaide Electric Supply Company Limited in burning Leigh Creek coal in order to determine whether it was capable of producing power, the company refused point blank to co-operate with him so that South Australia could have an independent source of fuel supply.
– That is scarcely a balanced statement of the facts.
– It is a balanced statement. The Minister for
National Development (Mr. Casey) may be assured of its truth. Although he was in Bengal at the time, he will learn, if he cares to read the recent history of South Australia, that my statements are accurate. I know that the truth is almost unbelievable.
– Quite unbelievable.
– The then Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and Mr. Playford were in daily contact for about twelve months trying to overcome the difficulties.
– That is so.
– Leigh Creek is Mr. Playford’s triumph.
– No, it represents the triumph of the Chifley Government and the Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament at that lime, Mr. Richards. They had the support of Mr. Playford, who occasionally reveals some sensible socialistic trends.
– It was a triumph for socialism.
– And for the members pf the Australian Workers Union, the men who did the work.
– That is so. It is a fact that the upper house in the South Australian Parliament rejected-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- That was one of the most interesting speeches that I have heard in support, I presume, of the motion proposed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) did not say that he opposed the motion. His speech was interesting because, if the conditions that he mentioned had existed in New South Wales, there would have been no need for the motion that has been submitted by the honorable member for Mackellar. Therefore, I thank the honorable gentleman. According to him, there is no difficulty in South Australia over the employment of members of the Australian Workers Union on the open-cut coal-field. Such difficulties represent one ff our major problems in New South Wales. Because the miners’ federation has a stranglehold upon the coal industry in that State and has adopted intimidatory tactics towards employees in the industry, it has been able to prevent the development of open-cut coal-mining with the use of members of the Australian Workers Union. A few years ago, of course, nobody thought so seriously about open-cut production as became necessary later. Perhaps if we had developed underground mining sufficiently to enable us to supply the requirements not only of New South Wales but also of the rest of Australia, we should not have heard so much as we have heard lately about the need for open-cut production. The New South Wales Government, because of its weak-kneed policy, has sabotaged the production of coal from open-cuts. There can be no doubt that that has been the result of the influence that has been brought to bear by the miners’ federation upon the State government, and in particular upon the former deputy Premier, Mr. Baddeley, who is now in charge of the newcoal authority. Incidentally, Mr. Baddeley was appointed to his new position at the age of 68 years with a contract for seven years at a salary of £2,500 a year. He will be 75 years of age when the contract ends. Furthermore, since the appointment was made, we have heard nothing about what he proposes to do. As Minister for Mines for some years, he succumbed to the influence of the miners’ federation in New South Wales, and thus enabled the development of opencut mining to be sabotaged.
As the honorable member for Mackellar has demonstrated, almost limitless quantities of coal can be won from open-cuts. There is no need for me to repeat the figures that he stated. I believe that our immediate urgent requirements could be almost entirely satisfied in .very quick time by the process of developing opencut mining. Nevertheless, I emphasize that, although I support the motion and favour the development of open-cut mining in the present situation, I do not believe, as the honorable member for Mackellar may believe, that open-cut mining will overcome the deficiency of coal production in Australia. I make that statement in the light of the knowledge that I have gained over some years.
Development of open-cut mining in New South Wales is essential, and it is regrettable that this method of coal production was not promoted years ago. It is very important also from the economic standpoint of the adjoining State of Queensland. However, certain disadvantages that are associated with opencut coal make the large-scale development of production from underground mines essential. That statement applies particularly to the quality of the coal, ft is all very well to suggest that open-cut coal can be used for the generation of electricity. Of course it can be used for that purpose, but we must realize that some of our major electricity generating plants, rightly or wrongly, have been designed to burn coal of a certain specification in order to obtain the greatest degree of efficiency. Consequently, it is necessary to have coal of a certain specified quality. The same argument will apply equally to a variety of other uses of coal, and it is true to say that, whilst open-cut coal can be used effectively, it may not, and, indeed, it does not, produce the greatest degree of efficiency in some of the uses to which we must put it.
– In what respect?
– Machinery cannot be altered in five minutes to receive open-cut coal. The necessary mechanical alterations to the plant would have to be made over a period, and, by the time they had been completed, certain underground mining should have been developed to provide more suitable coal.
– The honorable member has understated that difficulty.
– I have certainly not over-emphasized it. Open-cut coal does not give the greatest percentage of efficiency in the production of electricity in the major generating stations, particularly those in New South Wales. In fact, in some instances, open-cut coal has itself been destructive of the machinery. That statement applies .particularly to certain parts of the Bunnerong power station.
– Is open-cut coal used at Bunnerong ?
– Yes, to some degree.
– It is mixed with other coal?
– Yes, but only because we have been forced into the position of having to use it. That statement brings to my mind another difficulty that faces us in New South Wales; it has regard to the quality of the coal. The coal in some of the mines particularly in the western fields of New South Wales, is in two seams that are separated by a band of shale. In the past, mine-owners often extracted only the seam that had the greatest calorific value and left the lowergrade coal. Until eight or nine years ago, coal was .purchased on its specification, and not as it is to-day, by its tonnage, whether the quality be good or bad. A t the time to which I refer, coal was tendered for and supplied according to its specification, and no difficulty was experienced in purchasing it on that basis. The mineowners were obliged to segregate their coa] according fo its quality otherwise they would have lost certain markets.
When the Joint Coal Board was established the whole of that system was altered, and the only concern of that authority was to try to present to the people of Australia a certain tonnage of production. As a result of the adoption . of that policy, ‘ high-grade and lowergrade coal in the mines on the western fields of New South Wales were extracted in one operation, including the brickbats and the band of shale. The net result was an overall reduction of the quality of the coal delivered to the power stations and to other users. Consequently, during the last few years, the quality of the coal supplied to consumers has seriously deteriorated. The matter of the quality of the coal produced in this country is of the greatest importance, although, I cannot say that that statement is quite applicable to the present time when we are literally starving for coal. Nine years ago, our production was almost equal to the present output, yet the demand for power has increased in the intervening period by more than 100 per cent.
– There are fewer workers in the mines, too !
– That may be so. In my opinion, coal .production is our greatest national problem. We cannot commence to build a new Australia, and the Government cannot carry out its policy for developing this country unless the problem of coal production can be solved. I spoke about this matter in my maiden speech in this House, and I do not want to repeat what I said on that occasion, other than to emphasize again the need for stepping up the output of coal.
– What does the honorable member know about it?
– I know this, that the Government of New South Wales has sabotaged not only the development of open-cut mining but also the possibilities of producing first-rate coal of the quality of underground coal. I refer particularly to the deposits in the Burragorang Valley. I had in mind asking the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) whether he would consider the advisability, even at this late stage, of raising the matter with the Government of New South Wales in order to try to increase the production of the valuable coal in that area. I know that the development of the deposits in the Burragorang Valley is a matter for the State, but I also know that the coal there can be won in quick time. Within six weeks, the present output from that area could be doubled. The workings are 100 per cent, mechanized; a strike has never occurred there; the coal can be won. However, the Commonwealth would have to trespass upon State coal-mine deposits. I seriously suggest to the Minister for National Development that, because of the relation of coal production to the development of Australia, he should dis.cuss this mutter with Mr. McGirr, that is, if he is to be the new Premier of New South Wales.
– He will be. The honorable member need” not worry about that.
– Where can the miners be found .to work the coal deposits in the Burragorang Valley?
– I am not one of those-
– Who would go down the mine.
– I have been down mines on many occasions.
– Only to have a cup of tea.
– I have a knowledge of coal-mining, and of exactly what is involved in it. I am not one of those people who say that the miners individually are prepared to sabotage this country. I regard the average miner as a good Australian. I believe that ‘ the problem of coal production can be satisfactorily settled, if it is attacked in .the right way. The coal-mining industry undoubtedly has a serious and a sad history. So far as I am aware, no government in the past has adequately dealt with the problem of coal production. That statement is applicable to all political parties. However, I believe that this Government now has ari opportunity, and, indeed, must try to settle it satisfactorily because of the extraordinary need to develop our coal resources. I believe that the occasion justifies taking such action and that the time is opportune to take it.
A conference should, be summoned on an Australia-wide basis to discuss coal production. The conference, I believe, is necessary because of several factors that are emerging. Reference has been made to the development of the Leigh Creek field in South Australia, to the Collie field in Western Australia and to the difficulties that exist in developing new fields in Queensland. However, whilst each State may endeavour to make itself self-sufficient in coal production, no other State is so satisfactorily placed as is New South Wales so far as the quality of the coal produced is concerned. For that reason and having .regard to the national need for increased production, I stress the urgency of arranging a conference to consider the problem on a nation-wide basis. All political parties and all sections of the industry as well as the users of coal should be represented at such a conference. Recently, due to the pressure that the coal-miners have applied, the Joint Coal Board has been in the habit of taking notice only of representations made on their behalf and has failed to avail itself of the knowledge that could be given to-it by representatives of companies that have owned and operated mines for a number of years. The difficulty is that for many years Australia has been living under conditions of industrial pressure.
Such conditions will not promote increased production of coal or any other product. I repeat that the time is .propitious for the calling of a conference of the kind that I have indicated. I am confident that if it tackled the problem in the right spirit, worthwhile results would be achieved. The aim of such a. conference should be to evolve for all time a satisfactory basis for the production of coal.
I know the difficulties that confront the coal-miners. No one likes coal-mining as a job. The coal-miners should be given h fair go. Such a conference should give careful consideration to two points. The first is the provision of economic security for a man who is prepared to work all his life as a coal-miner. Owing to lack of that security the coal-miner has been an easy prey to communism. The Government has already announced that it will take steps to deal with that problem, but I suggest that it should go further still. We should be prepared to guarantee security to all operatives in the coalmining industry. That would go a long way towards solving the problem of the industry as a whole. Secondly, consideration should be given to the provision of a guaranteed price for coal. To some degree, the price is guaranteed now, but in dealing with this matter we must look well ahead, because it is not a problem of producing sufficient coal to meet only our own requirements.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Opposition agrees with certain points that were made by the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), but his references to the New South Wales Government were not justified. The motion submitted by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) makes the serious charge that the New South Wales Labour Government is responsible for “ the present underhand sabotage of open-cut coal production “. No evidence has been offered in support of that charge and its inclusion in a motion which, in other respects, is acceptable to the Opposition destroys any chance of the motion being accepted by the House. Tn fact, the Government will not support it because the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) knows that the charge cannot be substantiated. I do not pretend to have expert knowledge of the coal-mining industry, but I supported the efforts that were made for many years by the Chifley Government and by the McGirr Government of New South Wales to achieve the very objective that the honorable member for Mackellar now advocates. The Joint Coal Board is now well on the way to increasing production sufficiently to meet present demands. The suggestion that open-cut mines should be developed in wholesale fashion should be considered very carefully. I am sure the honorable member for Bennelong, as the result of his experience as a member of the Sydney County Council, will agree that such a, course would involve a great risk of waste of public funds. Opencut coal is not of high quality. It is not suitable for power, steaming or gas production. Open-cut, or outcrop, coal is, of course, of poorer quality than underground coal. Therefore, the Joint Coal Board will develop open-cut production while, at the same time, developing underground mines. Development in those two spheres must be co-ordinated. That is the problem which certain honorable members opposite should realize.
The problem of coal production as a whole involves the conditions under which coal-miners work. Regardless of the degree to which those conditions may be ameliorated they can never be made sufficiently satisfactory to overcome the attitude of the coal-miner and his wife that, so far as they can do so, they will not allow their sons to enter the industry. Certainly, conditions have been improved, but they are not yet satisfactory. Ali efforts to improve them are resisted until public opinion prevails and the trade unions succeed in making another step forward towards just conditions. That is the human element behind this problem, and we should always keep it in mind.
Secondly, we shall never be able to make any real progress towards solving this problem without planning, that is, without some degree of socialist control. Th, Joint Coal Board is a socialist enterprise Likewise, the Leigh Creek undertaking in South Australia, to which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) referred so graphically, is a socialist undertaking. It was launched by the Playford Liberal Government in :South Australia in conjunction with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley), who was then Prime Minister. I recall :that for a period of months during the formative stage of that great undertaking, Mr. Chifley, as Prime Minister, was in touch almost daily with Mr. Playford in his endeavours to start the job. Mr. Playford has repeatedly paid tribute to the Chifley Government for its efforts in that respect.
– But Mr. Playford took the initiative in that matter.
– I do not doubt that the Playford Government originated the scheme; but the first thing that Mr. Playford did, as he always did when dealing with an undertaking of national importance, was to make a bee-line for Canberra. I do not deny Mr. Playford the credit that is due to him in that matter.
The motion now before the Chair :asks us to uphold the charge that the New South Wales Labour Government is sabotaging open-cut coal production. So far is that from the truth that the McGirr Government of New South Wales, in co-operation with the Chifley Government, established the Joint Coal Board which now controls the sale and distribution of this vital product. In other words, it is a socialist enterprise. Does the Government propose to abolish the Joint Coal Board?
– It should.
– That is an admission; but it is clear that the Government realizes that the board is producing results. It has already substantially increased the production of open-cut coal.
I agree with the honorable member for Bennelong that coal production must be planned. Open-cuts must be developed concurrently with underground mines. When the honorable member was chairman of the Sydney County Council both he and the New South Wales Railways Commissioners repeatedly protested against having to accept open-cut coal. On the council’s own admission, open- cut coal is unsuitable for use at the Bunnerong power plant and only one mine on the northern coal-fields - Maitland Main - produces coal of the quality required for the operation of that plant.
– That is not correct.
– At least the honorable member will agree that there are very limited sources of supply of coal suitable for use at that plant.
– Until the conditions of supply were altered ample quantities of suitable coal were available.
– The honorable member has admitted that open-cut coal is not suitable for the generation of electricity. Open cut production must be judiciously planned in association with a reorganization of the coal industry underground. That re-organization is proceeding under the administration of the Joint Coal Board. In the formulation of a scheme for increasing the production of coal regard must be paid to the human factor. Unless the conditions under which the miners work are the best that can be provided there will always be a lack of man-power in the industry. It is not true, as the honorable member for Mackellar has claimed, that the New South Wales Governmnet had anything to do with the failure of the owners of open-cut mines to work multiple shifts. The Coal Industry Tribunal decided that multiple shifts should be worked, but they could not be operated in more than two open-cut mines because sufficient man-power was not available. The honorable member’s statement that it was not until after the Liberal party had come into power that the Joint Coal Board’s records were made available, is also completely untrue. Its records have always been available to representatives of political parties and responsible persons-
– That is completely false.
– The honorable member cannot judge whether or not my statement is false until I have completed it. The board has advised the Leader of the Opposition that its records have always been made available to political parties and to responsible persons interested in the production of coal. When the Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey) was president of the Liberal party prior to his election as a member of this Parliament, he was given every facility by the board to examine conditions on the coal-fields. The right honorable gentleman toured the coal-fields and wrote a report on his investigations. Other members of the Liberal party and members of the Australian Labour party also have been given the fullest information by the board. Indeed, the bulletins that have been issued by the Liberal party on this subject were all compiled from the records of the board.
– On the 30th July last the Sydney Morning Herald asked the board for information about opencut production, but the board refused to furnish it.
– That is merely one instance of refusal. I cannot accept that as evidence of unwillingness on the part of the board to furnish information because I do not know anything about the circumstances in which the information was refused. On that one single instance the honorable member based a charge -
– It was sufficient evidence on which to base it.
– Nothing of the kind. What were the circumstances connected with the board’s refusal? I cannot understand why its records should not be made available at all times. In the instance to which the honorable member has referred it is possible that there may have been some dispute about the manner in which the information should be compiled. The implication in the statement in the motion “ That the present underhand sabotage of open-cut coal production by the New South Wales Labour Government should be checked as far as possible” is completely untrue. No evidence has been adduced by the honorable member to support his charges against the State Government. The honorable member referred to Mr. Dickson, M.L.A., as though that gentleman was a member of the coalminers’ federation. He is not a member of that organization and has never at any time been a member of it.
– Mr. Dickson is a member of the miners’ federation.
– Once again, the honorable member, in submitting views that may be worthy of consideration, has spoiled any chance of their acceptance by the violence and extravagance of his statements. He levelled his charge at the New South Wales Labour Government solely for the purpose of prejudicing it at the State general election. His attempt to discredit that Government failed because he could not produce evidence to support his charges. The New South Wales Labour Government co-operated fully with the Chifley Government and is now co-operating to the fullest degree with the present Government. It is a great pity that an honorable member should destroy an otherwise valuable contribution to a debate in this Parliament by irresponsible and ridiculous statements. Behind every occurrence in this country he sees some sinister Communist influence. He thinks that everybody who makes imputations of Communist influence must be speaking the truth. The Dobson case clearly established how wrong and credulous he is in these matters, and he should be the first to admit it. The most effective answer tohis charges, against the New South
Wales Labour Government was given by the people of New South Wales when they again returned that Government to office on Saturday last.
.- The open-cut mine that probably has been most prominently brought to the notice of the Australian people is that on the Callide field in Queensland. I have already demonstrated to the House the manner in which that great national asset has been handled by the Queensland Labour Government, the failure of which to take adequate steps to develop the field constitutes, perhaps, one of the most deplorable incidents in the history of coal-mining in that State. The Callide field is capable of providing sufficient coal to enable existing coal shortages to be largely overtaken. Action to develop our great resources of coal should be considerably intensified so that industrial production may be expanded to the point at which it will meet our needs. Coal plays’ such an important part in the progress and prosperity of this country that it is not astonishing that the possibility of developing the Callide field should loom very largely in our minds.
We must also look farther afield to the other great coal resources that exist in Queensland. Perhaps the largest deposits of coal in that State are at Blair Athol, but the Queensland Government has failed to develop those also in the interests of the people. Only a year or so ago the Labour Premier of Queensland announced that he had granted to an English company a concession to work the deposits at that field. He stated that the company intended to invest millions of pounds in the project, that railways were to be built from the field to the coast and that towns would be established along the coastline to enable miners employed on the field to enjoy their holiday breaks at the seaside. The project was characterized as a mighty one and the people of Queensland were naturally very enthusiastic about it. Imagine their reaction later when it was ascertained, not by the Queensland Government, but by an independent body, that the company had hardly “ two bob “ to its name, and, that it had unsuccessfully tried in all countries in Europe to sell its right to develop the field. The sorry story of that project demonstrates the ineptitude of the Queensland Government in this important matter.
Blair Athol and Callide are two very important coal-fields, but there are other large deposits at Byfield, which is situated on the coast near Rockhampton and on the upper Burnett at Selene. Honorable members will recall that seven or eight months ago Communists beat up the miners at Selene and the farmers of the surrounding district had to go to their assistance. The deposits in those areas might be capable of yielding high quality coal. To the north of Selene is the Callide field and to the north-west there is another deposit at Baralaba. Coal from the Baralaba mine is supplied to Mount Morgan, where so much wealth is produced for this country. In a north-westerly direction from Baralaba are the deposits at The Bluff and Blackwater. The Blair Athol deposits lie still farther north-west. It seems possible that the great coal seams then turn to the north-east, for there are outcrops in the Collinsville area in the Bowen district.
Although borings have been made to ascertain the extent of the deposits in many areas of Queensland more intensive boring should be undertaken not only on known fields but also at intermediate points between known fields. There is good reason for believing that the whole of central Queensland lies on a. vast deposit of coal and that intensive drilling may uncover untold wealth for this country. Mine-owners should be given every encouragement to install the most modern machinery for the extraction of coal so that unlimited supplies may be made available at the lowest possible cost. Those who work in the mines should enjoy the best working conditions that the industry can afford to provide. Most of the known coal deposits in Queensland are located in isolated areas. At Callide the opencut mine consists merely of a hole in the ground surrounded by a few shacks. The Callide field is situated 14 or 15 miles from the nearest town and between 70 or 80 miles from Gladstone. No telephones are installed there, and no amenities have been provided for the miners, whose children have to travel 4 miles to attend school at the nearest town. Miners are reluctant to take their families to the Callide field while conditions remain so primitive.
I believe that I am right in saying that experience in other countries has shown that the most satisfactory manner of utilizing coal resources is to locate in the vicinity of the coal deposits the industries that are dependent upon coal. The great coal deposits of Queensland, particularly of central Queensland, could be used to the best advantage if industries were established on, or were moved to, the coal-fields. That would obviate the necessity to transport coal from the fields over long distances for use in industrial establishments elsewhere. There is an abundance of iron in the ground in central Queensland, and industries established in that area could make use of the readily available coal to process the iron ore and to utilize the product in the manufacture of other commodities.
Other parts of the world provide many examples of huge industrial areas being located in the vicinity of coal and iron mines. Great quantities of raw wool pass through or near the great central area of Queensland on their way to the southern States and overseas countries where the wool is processed. A proportion of that wool is returned to Queensland in the form of manufactured goods. A proportion of the processing of Queensland wool and the manufacture of woollen goods could be carried out in the central Queensland area by factories operating on the resources that are available in that area. The establishment of industries in central Queensland would go a long way towards giving effect to a policy of decentralization because that area contains great mineral wealth of almost every description.
Before establishing big industries in central Queensland it would be necessary to find assured and continuing markets for their products. We must also seek an assured market for the immense quantities of coal that would be produced there under proper development. It is all very well for some honorable members to say that Callide coal should be subsidized and supplied to South Australia and Victoria, but any one who has anything to sell cannot force people to buy it. The seller must “ push “ his goods. I believe that the visit of the Premier of South Australia and of representatives of the Victorian Government to the Callide area in the last week will be beneficial, because they will have seen the true quality of the coal produced in that area and will be glad to buy it. Hitherto that has not been the. case. It is necessary not only that we should establish a market for Callide coal, but also that that market should be maintained. The construction of a railway from Callide to Gladstone would probably cost £2,000,000 or £3,000,000. It would not be’ of much use to build such a railway unless a continued market for the coal produced was assured for some years ahead. A market must first be established and it will be necessary to reach an agreement to ensure that it will continue for a period of years. If care were taken in all these respects the exploitation of the Callide mines by the open-cut method of production would be perfect. The present unsatisfactory position in relation to the transport of coal from Callide has sprung from the fact that two conflicting interests are being advanced in the Queensland Parliament. The present AttorneyGeneral of Queensland, Mr. Larcombe,. espouses the claims of Rockhampton as the terminal for the railway line from Callide. The honorable member for Port Curtis, Mr. Burrows, who represents the area from Gladstone down toBundaberg, wishes the railway to terminate at Gladstone. Mr. Larcombe wants the line to be run through Mount Morgan and down to Rockhampton. Heis a Cabinet Minister and Mr. Burrows is a back-bencher. Since the Callide fieldwas first discovered there has been a difference of opinion between these two men, both of whom are members of the Labourparty. Instead of getting together and working the problem out, as statesmen would do, they are both behaving likepetty politicians. That unfortunate position has to be overcome before the Callide field can be fully developed.
The Commonwealth should make investigations of the potential coal wealth of central Queensland by carrying out boring operations over the whole of thearea and not only in respect of the known fields. Having discovered the amount of underground wealth in the area we must endeavour to find a continued market for what is produced. The mineownersmust be given the assistance of the best machinery that can be procured and the men who work on the field must be provided with the best amenitiesobtainable. Transport must be provided to enable the coal to be moved from thefield at the cheapest possible rateMarkets for the coal must be established! in the vicinity of the mines so as to assist in the decentralization of industry. Opencut coal in Queensland must advance from its present position of only dormant wealth and become one of the greatest assets that Australia possesses.
.- I naturally am opposed to the motion before the House. T find it rather remarkable that a man of the character of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) should have initiated a motion of this kind. The honorable member for Mackellar has probably never been down a mine in his life and. actually knows nothing about the coal resources of this country or about coal-mining. I remind him at the outset that the proportion of open-cut coal resources in this country is only three per cent, of our total coal resources, which approximate 4,000,000,000 tons. If the coal-owners had in the past developed their coal mines with the future demand in mind and also in the national interest, we should not be so short of coal as we are to-day. It is all very well to talk of the sabotage of open-cut coal-mining. Who introduced and developed open-cut coalmining in New South Wales? Was it not a Labour government in the federal sphere and a New South Wales State Labour Government that did so? Did not those governments expand open -cut coal production to its present level of about 40,000 tons a week?
I turn now to coal-mining in general and I shall give the House some of the reasons for the present coal shortage. The principle reason for that shortage is that we lack both the colliery production capacity and experienced miners. I admit that some loss of output results “from strikes and other incidental causes as well as from inefficiency in methods and the long-standing enmity between the miners and the owners that had its genesis in the distant past. A good understanding of the reasons for that enmity can be gained from Richard Llewellyn’s novel Sow Green Wats My Valley. Another cause of the shortage is the insecurity felt by miners in certain coal-field areas, particularly in the West Wallsend, Kurri Kurri and Cessnock areas, and the wish of many miners employed there to seek employment in collieries in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie areas. The position is a result of the fact that most of the mines in the South Maitland area are now producing coal by the extraction of pillars, which means, in effect, that the mines in that area are gradually being worked out. The coal-owners have made in. the past no provision at all for the opening of new mines to replace those that have been worked out. For that reason I have witnessed for many years the spectacle of mining towns going out of existence. West Wallsend, Minmi and Killingworth mines were closed because of lack of foresight or the deliberate intent of the coal-owners in days gone by. It is true that the miners have accepted mechanization in the mines, but I remind the House that that system of production is of no great value in the older mines although it is of great value in newly developed mines. Production in the older mines has fallen in many cases as a result of mechanization, the reason being that the haulage, transport and screening systems in those mines are obsolete and cannot cope with the quantity of coal produced by mechanization.
It makes me sad to hear any one like the honorable member for Mackellar, who knows nothing about the coal-mining industry, speaking on such an important matter. I do not know where he obtained his mining experience, but one might refer to him as a pseudo miner. Credit should be. given to both the previous Australian Government and the New South Wales Labour Government for what they did in relation to the development of open-cut coal-mining. Personally I am one of those people who believe that more attention should be paid to the development of deep-seam coal mines because deep-seam coal is of greater value to this country for industrial and domestic uses than is open-cut coal. I consider that Muswellbrook is probably the only open-cut seam in New South Wales that is of great value to industry. Most of our black-outs in New South. Wales are probably caused by the lack of sufficient deep-seam coal and by the use of opencut coal which will not do the necessary job. The mining of open-cut coal was originally an emergency measure only, and such coal should be used only in an emergency. The proportion of open-cut coal resources to the total coal resources of Australia is, as I have said, a negligible three per cent, and it should be used rather as a reserve for the future and not indiscriminately as it is at present. We should concentrate now on the development of the production of deep-seam coal. Had the production of coal in the past been carried out by the owners in cooperation with the Government, as al present it is carried out under the Joint Goal Board, there would not have been such a drift of men from the industry and mines would not have been closed without other mines having been opened to take their place. If care had been taken in these directions we should have an ample supply of experienced miners to-day to do the job that Australia requires them to do. I understand that in 1924 there were 24,000 miners on the New South “Wales coal-fields at a time when there was over-production of coal. To-day there are approximately 13,000 miners in New South Wales and under-production of coal. I repeat that had development of the Australian coal industry taken place with the fact in mind that coal is a national asset and. with a proper consideration of the welfare of the miners, the industry could have been made more attractive, as Labour governments have endeavoured to make it, and we should now have available the services of experienced miners for both open-cut and deep-seam coal mines. I was born in a coal-mining area and I have been down many coal mines. My brother, who. was a mine manager, was killed in a mining accident only a few years ago, and it rather hurts me to find a man with no experience of coal-mining coming into this chamber and accusing the NewSouth Wales Government of sabotage, when that Government at least had the welfare of this nation at heart when it established and continued to expand open-cutcoal mines as an emergency.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 105.
Sitting suspended from12. 45 to 2.15 p.m.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s message) :
Clause 5 (Affiliated organizations may be declared unlawful).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 7 (vide page 4539), as amended by House of Representatives (vide page 4557), disagreed to.
Clause 9 (Declaration of Communists and members of unlawful associations).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 16 (vide page 4541 ) , as amended by House of Representatives (vide page 4548), disagreed to.
– I move -
That the committee insists on the amendments made by the House to amendments Nos. 7 and16 of the Senate and which have been disagreed to by the Senate.
The committee now has before it a message from the Senate disagreeing to the amendments made in this place to the Senate amendments to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1950 and insisting on the Senate amendments disagreed to by the House. I do not propose to occupy the time of the committee by recommencing a debate, both sides of which are now perfectly well known. The Senate has stood firm on this matter and I have no doubt that this committee will stand firm on it also. Honorable members will, no doubt, have an opportunity in three months’ time of debating this matter again. In the meantime, the Communists will have three months of uninterrupted activity in Australia.
– I think that I can make my point as short as that of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). The right honorable gentleman spoke about standing firm. In the view of the Opposition, there has been a full consideration of this bill in another place, but quite inadequate consideration has been given to it in this chamber where there has been no real attempt to debate essential clauses. The other night honorable members were limited to an entirely inadequate period in discussing these important matters. The Prime Minister has dealt with this matter in statements to. the press, and, no doubt, in statements to his own party, hut he has not, in detail, discussed it with the House, especially in committee, and he shows no inclination to come to any just conclusion. He has spoken of a period some months ahead. The answer to the right honorable gentleman’s argument is summed up excellently in the reasons of the Senate for disagreeing with the amendments of this House and for adhering to its attitude. Those reasons are contained in the document which is before honorable members of the committee. The first reason is as follows: -
The Senate wants the administration of this law to be such that injustice will not occur. The second reason is-
Last Thursday I asked the Government to have the bill printed in the form in which it was passed by the Senate. The Senate has made certain amendments and I wanted the House to read the bill in that form. It included the clauses which provided for the dissolution of the Communist party and which contained very stringent penal provisions. By adopting the motion before the committee honorable members will say that they do not approve of a bill which contains those provisions. Now the bill, as passed by the Senate, will therefore, to quote again - carry into effect the Government’s policy for suppressing the Australian Communist party without unfairly and unjustly penalizing or endangering the civil rights and property of innocent citizens and innocent groups.
If the Government will not permit the passing of the bill in the present form, it will indicate that it does not agree to the proposals of the Senate, which have the approval of His Majesty’s Opposition in this chamber. The third and last reason of the Senate for disagreeing with the amendments of the House of Representatives is -
I think that the people of Australia are gradually becoming aware that that is a great issue and I believe that when they know the full facts they will endorse the attitude of His Majesty’s Opposition.
Motion (by Mr. Beale) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the committee insists on the amendmests made by the House to amendments Nos. 7 and 16 of the Senate and which have been disagreed to by the Senate.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 2 (vide page 4539) and amendment No. 3 (vide page 1639) insisted on.
Clause 5 ( Affiliated organizations may be declared unlawful).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 6 (videpage 4539 ) insisted on.
Clause 6 (Unlawful associations tobe dissolved).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 8 (videpage 4540) insisted on.
Clause 7 (Officers and members of unlawful associations to cease to act).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 10 (videpage 4540 ) insisted on.
Clause 8 (Property of unlawful associations to vest in receiver).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 11 (videpage 4540) insisted on.
Clause 9 (Declaration of Communists and members of unlawful associations)
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 15 (vide page 4541 ) insisted on.
Clause 11 (Disqualified persons to vacate office).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 17 (videpage 454.1 ) insisted on.
Clause 22 (Jurisdiction of High Court and Supreme Courts).
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 20 (vide page 4542), amendment No. 21 (vide page- 4542) and amendment No. 22 (vide page- 4542 insisted on.
New clause 24a.
Senate’s message. - Amendment No. 28 (videpage 4543) insisted on.
– I move -
That the committee insists on disagreeing to amendments by the Senate Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10,. 11, . 15, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 28 insisted on by the Senate.
This motion covers the amendments dealt with other than amendments Nos. 7 and 16, in other words all the amendments other than those to clauses 5 and 9 of the bill. The issue is very clear. During the general election campaign honorable members on this side of the committee sponsored in precise terms a ban upon the Communist party, the pursuit of the Communist party into its other forms, and the disqualification of Communists of a certain description from certain employments. Each of those matters was opposed with great vigour during the general election campaign by every honorable member on the other side of the committee. But during the course of the two months that this legislation has been before the Parliament, honorable members opposite have professed to support those very matters. They have now shown quite clearly, by the amendments that have been put forward by their majority in another place, that their idea is not to destroy this bill by a frontal attack, but to destroy it by a. sapping and mining operation. The Government will be delighted to join issue with the Opposition on this matter. Indeed, it becomes more and more clear that the major parliamentary business of this year is to decide who is to have charge of the government of the country. Is it to be those who were returned with a majority on the 10th December last, or those who, having been defeated on that day, now use their majority in another place to destroy vital legislation?
.–I agree with the Prime Minister on one point only. That is that the issue is now very clear. I have followed carefully his references to the policy speech of the Government parties. It is true that the Prime Minister foreshadowed a ban on the Communist party of Australia, but apparently the Government does not now desire simply that. Such a ban is contained in this bill which the committee is in fact now throwing under the table. It is contained in an absolute form in the bill as amended by the Senate.
Government members interjecting,
– I do not know which honorable gentleman on the front bench or the second bench on the Government side, said “ nonsense “, but I suggest that my conclusion is absolutely correct. Clause 4 of the bill provides for the banning of the Communist party, and the machinery clauses make disobedience of the injunction an offence punishable by imprisonment for five years. The Government is tearing up that clause, which contains the main feature of the policy speech. With regard to the Government’s so-called “ pursuit “ of the Communist party into its other forms, the bill now contains provisions for that also. It includes references to organizations, and to the expropriation of their property without compensation subject to certain conditions. It also provides for the prohibition of the employment of selected Communists in .positions in the trades unions and in the Commonwealth Public Service. But, safeguards are provided which enable organizations anc! groups, which are innocent and not intended to be covered even by the Government’s bill, to take advantage of the ordinary forms and processes of law. The .Senate is insisting upon what is called “ the rule of law,” but what is also in fact a rule of ordinary plain justice. I submit that the Senate is quite correct in so insisting.
Two further matters were mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his policy speech. The first was that the Executive determination in these great matters was to be, in his own words, “ subject to appeal “. The Senate has made provision for a full appeal. The Government in this House has denied such appeal. The second was an undertaking by the Government to strengthen the existing laws relating to sedition, if such action was found to be necessary. On that matter nothing has been heard from the Government. Those points are summed up by my earlier quotations from the Senate’s reasons. I believe those reasons are correct. The Government is denying the safeguards of justice and the ordinary rights of citizenship to persons against whom the imputation will be made that they are of a seditious character and tendency, and who by the declaration of the Executive will be deprived of their employment and irretrievably injured in their status in the community, such a Government is courting its own downfall.
Motion (by Mr. Beale) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. E. Adermann.)
Majority . . 31
– Order! The honorable member must not read a newspaper in the chamber.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the committee insists on disagreeing to the amendments Nos. 2, 3, C, 8, 10,11, 15, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 28 insisted on by the Senate.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. E. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 31
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -
That the report be adopted.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I wish to report to the House’ that I have seen and spoken to, within the precincts of the House, the honorable member for -East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who last night was ordered to remove himself from the precincts of the House until nine minutes past 9 o’clock to-night. I propose to deal with the honorable member at the earliest opportunity, and I point out that we have the right to ask the Serjeant-at-Arms to produce him at the bar of the House.
– Under what standing order?
– Under Standing Order 307.
– I rise to order. I am bound to say, Mr. Speaker, that your announcement is the most extraordinary that has ever been made in this House. I am not able to find any authority that supports the action of Mr. Speaker in denying to an honorable member who has been suspended from the service of the House the use of the facilities that are associated with the Parliament. It seems to me that the authority of Mr. Speaker ceases with the conduct of the proceedings of the House, and at the immediate entrances to the chamber. I am unable to discover any standing order, whether it be Standing Order 301, 302, 303 or 307, that supports your action. You have said that you base your decision upon Standing Order 307. It seems to me most extraordinary to say that that standing order gives to Mr. Speaker the power to tell an honorable member that he cannot go into the refreshment-rooms or to the post office, or to have a meal in the diningroom.
The various Speakers who have presided over this chamber while I have been a member of it have not made any attempt to deny to honorable members who have been suspended from the service of the House the use of the privileges and facilities in the building outside this chamber. The Opposition certainly cannot accept a ruling of that kind without protest. Have I interpreted your ruling correctly when I say that you have stated that an honorable member who has been suspended from the service of the House shall be denied the facilities that are afforded in this building, including the dining-room, beyond the immediate entrances to this chamber? We are actually considering the position of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who was suspended from the service of the House last night. Is he to be denied the facilities of Parliament House during the period of his suspension? Is that your ruling?
– I shall give my ruling. Last night, for the second time, I gave a ruling that if an honorable member is suspended from the service of the House, he is suspended from the whole building and every facility in this House until the period of his suspension has expired.
– On what standing order do you base that ruling?
– Under the Standing Orders, and in accordance with the procedure of the House.
– Which standing order?
– Order ! If the House disagrees with my ruling, it can vote against it. But until the House disagrees with it, the ruling stands.
– I rise to order. The procedure of this House is governed by the rules of the House of Commons when a situation arises that is not covered by our own Standing Orders. I refer honorable members to Sir T. Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, fourteenth edition, at page 445, where the following passage occurs: -
Suspension, withdrawal and exclusion from precincts. - Members ordered to withdraw from the House in pursuance of S.O. no. 19 or suspended from the service of the House in pursuance of S.O. no. 17, must withdraw forthwith from the precincts of the House that is, from the area within the walls of the Palace of Westminster. A member suspended from the service of the House on a motion not made pursuant to S.O. no. 17 is not excluded from the precincts of the House unless the order for his suspension expressly provides therefor.
I point out that Standing Orders 17 and 19, to which reference is made, relate to disorderly conduct and the like. Last night, when the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was suspended from the service of the House, you, Mr. Speaker, expressly stated that he was excluded from the building and from the precincts of the House.
– The House did not exclude him from the precincts.
– Not one honorable member took a point of order or objected to your ruling at that time. Therefore, I submit that, in following the procedure of the House of Commons, you are acting strictly in accordance with the powers of your office.
– I move -
That the House dissents from the ruling of Mr. Speaker relating to the effect of the suspension from the service of the House of the honorable member for East Sydney, and, in particular, in holding that an honorable member suspended from the service of the House is not entitled to use the ordinary facilities available to all honorable members outside this chamber.
I have only to say that the ruling which Mr. Speaker has given in relation to an honorable member who is suspended from the service of the House is, in my opinion, a. completely harsh, brutal and unjust decision.
– Shame! Did the right honorable gentleman hear what the honorable member for East Sydney said last night?
– I have been a member of this House for a longer period than has the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), and I have known Speakers who have enforced strict discipline, and the observance of the Standing Orders, but I have not encountered a decision of this kind. The Speakers in the past have been drawn from various political parties, and they have been men of different temperaments, but they have not deprived an honorable member who has been suspended from the service of the House of the facilities that are associated with this building. I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that Parliament House in Canberra is isolated to some degree. Honorable members are living away from their homes, and perhaps in nothing like the same circumstances as those in which they would live in a city. You have ruled that an honorable member who has been suspended from the service of the House shall not be permitted to go into the refreshmentroom or the library, or to the post office.
– An honorable member who has been suspended from the service of the House may go back to his hotel.
-I do not think that a more stupid remark than that could be made. I suppose, for that matter, that an honorable member could also stand out on the King George V. Memorial in front of Parliament House.
– That is a really stupid remark.
-I did not say that an honorable member would not be permitted to return to his hotel, and I did not mean to convey that impression. I defy anybody to quote a standing order that empowers the Speaker to rule that an honorable member, who has been suspended from the service of the House, shall not have access to the facilities of this building. Standing Order 307, on which you, Mr. Speaker, have based your ruling, makes no reference to that matter. Your decision is a complete departure from parliamentary custom and practice, and I consider that it is completely wrong.
– Is the motion seconded ?
.- I second the motion.
– It must be handed to me in writing.
– I guarantee that it is in order.
Mr. Chifley having submitted, in writing, his objection to the ruling,
– I submit, at the outset, that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) based his statements in support of Mr. Speaker’s ruling on inaccurate premises. The Votes and Proceedings of the Souse of Representatives, of the 21st June, are quite clear on the point. They read -
Mr. Speaker thereupon put the question that the honorable member for East Sydney be suspended from the service of the House.
The question was resolved in the affirmative and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) withdrew from the chamber. The House made that decision. The Votes and Proceedings do not even mention the statement that Mr. Speaker subsequently made. What is the meaning of the phrase “ the service of the House “ ? The reference by the Postmaster-General was entirely inapt. “ The service of the House “ clearly means the duty which is imposed upon honorable members to serve the country and their constituencies in this chamber as members of the House of Representatives. That statement can be tested. I do not know whether the place in which you, Mr. Speaker, saw the honorable member for East Sydney was that part of Parliament House which is known as the refreshment-room.
– Quite wrong.
– Where, then, did you see him ?
– He was in the corridor alongside the House, and he was also in the office of the Leader of the Opposition.
– At any rate, he was outside this chamber, and the point is, I submit, that you have no jurisdiction to extend, by means of a ruling, a decision of the House to cover such a matter. Suppose the honorable member for East Sydney had been in the refreshmentroom. That part of the building is only partly under the control of Mr. Speaker, or of the House of Representatives. This House cannot deprive an honorable member of the facilities of Parliament House. It is quite clear that the order to suspend an honorable member from the service of the House extends only to the boundaries of this chamber. You, Mr. Speaker, mentioned earlier your intention to bring the honorable member for East Sydney to the bar of the House. I direct attention to Sir T. Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice, twelfth edition, at page 303, where the following passage appears : -
The offence must arise in the House and be dealt with at once. No motion can be made that a suspended member be heard at the bar.
An honorable member cannot be heard at the bar even if it would be to his own advantage. I recall a famous case in the Parliament of New South Wales in which a member, Willis, was the defendant in a civil action.
– Order ! That has nothing to do with this case.
– I am referring to the jurisdiction of a Speaker to deal with an honorable member outside the chamber.
– Order ! I rule that it has nothing to do with this case.
– I shall not require more than two sentences to refer to that ease. Willis was brought back into the chamber at the direction of the Speaker, but the Supreme Court of New South Wales ruled that there was no power to do so.
-Order! The Supreme Court of New South Wales has no jurisdiction here.
– No one suggests that it has jurisdiction here. I cite that case to show the general principle that the Speaker–
– You are on trial.
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– And apologize.
– I said that you were on trial.
– That is not correct.
– Well, your ruling is.
– Order ! The honorable member will withdraw that remark, and apologize without any equivocation.
– If you feel hurt in any way, I withdraw and apologize.
– I am not hurt. If the honorable gentleman thinks that he can hurt me, he is mistaken.
– We shall see.
– I submit that the order which was made by the House cannot be extended and expanded by a subsequent interpretation that is made by Mr. Speaker. The effect of the ruling is that an honorable member who has been suspended from the service of the House cannot perform his duties, for a limited period, within the chamber. I consider that your ruling is incorrect, and I therefore fully support and second the motion that has been submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley).
– I am quite sure that every honorable member wishes to see that the procedures which have become the established custom in parliaments throughout the British Commonwealth shall be observed in this and in every other matter relative to the rights of honorable members. I speak to this motion with due regard to my 30 years’ experience in the Parliament of New South Wales, which I once described as the oldest Parliament in Australia. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) has said that the procedure of this House is go verned by the rules of the House of Commons if a position arises that is not covered by our own Standing Orders. I desire to inform the House that, again and again, when members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales have been removed from the chamber, the Speaker has ruled that the SerjeantatArms must accompany them to the gates of Parliament House, and see that they do not re-enter the house.
– I rise to order. I hate to interrupt the honorable member in his recitation of an interesting story about the Parliament of New South Wales, but a few moments ago you, Mr. Speaker, refused to allow the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) to say even one word about a famous case that occurred in the history of that Parliament. Is the honorable member for New England to be permitted to tell a story which has as much to do with the subject that .provoked your animadversion as did the statement that the right honorable member for Barton endeavoured to make?
– I understand that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) is dealing with the rules and practice of the oldest of parliaments, the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which is referred to in Standing Order No. 1 of the Standing Orders of this House.
– The honorable member is referring to the Parliament of New South Wales.
-Order! If the honorable member is referring to the Parliament of New South Wales, he is out of order.
– The point I am making is that as the Standing Orders of the House do not prescribe action to be taken in an instance of the kind now under discussion, we should have recourse to the practice that is followed in the Mother of Parliaments. Ample precedent exists in the procedure that has been adopted in the State parliaments, including the Parliament of New South Wales, to support the action that you, Mr. Speaker, have taken in this matter.
– The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) took it upon himself to define the area from which an honorable member who has been suspended from the service of the House should be excluded. He said that such a member can be excluded only from the chamber itself because the Speaker’s authority over honorable members is limited to the chamber. The right honorable member, himself, has from time to time upheld the decisions of the highest tribunal of the Empire.
– When it suited him.
– Tes. Dealing with the rules of the House of Commons pertaining to “ Suspension, withdrawal and exclusion from precincts May’s Parliamentary Practice states -
Members ordered to withdraw from the House in pursuance of S.O. No. 19 or suspended from the service of the House in pursuance of S.O. No. 17 - must withdraw forthwith from the precincts of the House that is, from the area within the walls of the palace of Westminster.
As some honorable members may ask what the terms of the two standing orders are, I shall read them. Standing Order 19 reads -
Mr. Speaker or the chairman shall order Members whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of that day’s sitting; and the Serjeant at Arms shall act on such orders as lie may receive from the chair in pursuance of this resolution.
Standing Order 17 reads -
Whenever any Member shall have been named by Mr. Speaker, or by the chairman immediately after the commission of the offence of disregarding the authority of the chair, or of abusing the rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business of the House, or otherwise, then, if the offence has been committed by such Member in the House, Mr. Speaker shall forthwith put the rj nest ion, on a motion being made, -no Amendment, adjournment, or debate being allowed, “ That such Member be suspended from the service of the House”; and, if the offence has been committed in a committee of the whole House, the chairman shall forthwith suspend the proceedings of the committee and report the circumstance to the House; and Mr. Speaker shall, on a motion being made thereupon, put the same question, without amendment, adjournment, or debate, as if the offence had been committed in the House itself.
I submit that those two standing orders apply directly to the case which we are now considering. As I have already said, it has been the practice of this House where our Standing Orders do not’ expressly provide for circumstances that arise to apply the rules of the House of Commons. The quotation from. May does not refer, as the right honorable member for Barton has submitted, to the area of the chamber only. The meaning of it is that a member who has been suspended can be ordered to withdraw from the building itself. Last night, Mr. Speaker, you exercised the powers conferred upon you by this House in a certain way, and before the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) left the chamber you expressly stated just what would ‘be required of him under the order of suspension that had been made by the House. I submit that the honorable member is grossly defying your order in an attempt to test the power and authority of the Chair. I shall support anything that the Chair may see fit to do in order to uphold the authority conferred upon it by the House and in accordance with the practices of the Mother of Parliaments.
– I am aware that, where the Standing Orders are not explicit with respect to matters of procedure, it has been the practice of the House to follow the practices of the House of Commons. However, I am more concerned with matters which are not expressly covered by the Standing Orders, but in respect to which this Parliament has established its own precedents. I have had the experience of having been suspended from the service of the House but although the chair was occupied at that time by Mr. Speaker Bell, who was rigid but extremely just, I was never excluded from my party room, the billiard room or the refreshmentrooms. I recollect that you, Mr. Speaker, when you were a Minister in the Lyons Administration, were adjudged guilty by the House of some misdemeanour - I do not know whether you were actually guilty - but you were not deprived of the right of access to the corridors, your party room or the refreshmentrooms. I can recall only one occasion on which an honorable member was excluded from the precincts of the building, and I understand that he had been adjudged guilty of committing a misdemeanour outside the precincts of the chamber. During the thirteen years that I have been a member of the Parliament, the House, itself, has created its own precedents. Previously, no member who has been suspended from the service of the House has been deprived of the ordinary facilities that are available to honorable members. He has been excluded from the chamber only. That precedent is a better guide for us to follow on this occasion than is some hoary, outmoded practice that is observed in the Palace of Westminster. Surely, we have reached a stage in the history of this Parliament when we should act according to our judgment. It is unfortunate that you, Mr. Speaker, in your official capacity, are not aware of the circumstances of the incident that has given rise to this discussion. I believe that you should be acquainted with the facts of the matter. The honorable member for East Sydney, as a number of other honorable members, including myself, have done, flagrantly disobeyed the Chair; but the Chairman of Committees, himself, acknowledged that the honorable member had acted under grave provocation. At the same time, the honorable member who provoked him has not been dealt with.
– Order ! The honorable member cannot refer to what took place in the committee. The Chair has no knowledge of what took place in the committee.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the House dissents from the ruling of Mr. Speaker relating to the effect of the suspension from the service of the House of the honorable member for East Sydney, and, in particular, in holding that an honorable member suspended from the service of the House is not entitled to use the ordinary facilities available toall honorable members outside this chamber.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority … 34
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill returned from the .Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 4 (Parts)-
Senate’s Amendment No. 1. - Leave out the clause.
Clause 5 (Definitions) -
Senate’s Amendment No. 2. - Leave out the clause.
Clause 6 (Heading to Part II.) -
Senate’s Amendment No. 3. - Leave out the clause.
Clause 7 (Establishment and functions of Commonwealth Bank Board, &c.) -
Senate’s Amendment No. 4. - Leave out the clause.
Clause 8 (Profits and Reserve Fund) -
Senate’s Amendments Nos. 5 ‘and 6. - Leave out “Board”, insert “Bank” (twice occurring) .
Clause 10 (Membership of Board, &c.)-
Senate’s Amendment No. 7. - Leave out the clause.
Clause 15 (Management of Savings Bank)-
Senate’s Amendment No. 8. - Leave out the clause.
Clause 16 (Validity of certain acts of Bank and Savings Bank) -
Senate’s Amendment No. 9. - Leave out the clause.
Clause 17 (Consequential amendments) -
Senate’s Amendment No. 10. - Leave out the clause.
Senate’s Amendment No. 11. - Leave out the schedule.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) proposed -
That the amendments be disagreed to.
– I do not propose to restate the grounds of the Opposition’s case against this bill because they have already been very fully outlined. The Opposition has expressed its strongest hostility to the proposal to reestablish a Commonwealth Bank Board. At the conclusion of the debate on the Supply Bill last night the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) made a statement, which should have been made at the commencement of the debate, to the effect that the Commonwealth Bank requires additional capital. I point out to tin right honorable gentleman that the bill, as amended by the Senate, provides for all the additional capital the bank is likely to require. I and other Opposition members in this chamber and in the Senate have made it clear that in no circumstances, irrespective of what mandate the Government may claim to have received from the people, will they agree to hand ever the control of the Commonwealth Bank, either partly or wholly to the private financial interests. Such control in the past proved a dismal failure and had disastrous effects on the economy of this country.
.- The matter in dispute between the two Houses relates to the re-constitution of a Commonwealth Bank Board. The Opposition has offered no objection to the passage of the other clauses in the bill, but it docs object and will continue to object to the re-establishment of a board to control the affairs of the bank. The amendments made in the bill by the Senate, which are set out in the schedule that has been placed before us, relate to the proposal to re-establish a bank board. The Opposition does not favour the control of the bank by a board for the reasons that it has advanced during the previous stages of the measure. It believes that a board would do in the future what the previous Commonwealth Bank Board did. We admit, however, that the board that the Government desires to establish under this measure i3 a very mild sort of board in comparison with the one that caused so much depredation in the days of the economic depression. Despite that fact the Opposition still objects to the re-establishment of a board and it also objects to what it believes to be the Government’s dishonesty in this matter.
– The Opposition does not recognize our mandate.
– If this bill is an expression of the mandate that the Government says it received from the people, then the bankers in Australia have a different view, because they expected something different.
– I understood that the honorable member always held the view that the bankers controlled the Government.
– I can put my own point of view without any assistance from the Treasurer.
– Not very well.
– The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) is wrong again. The board that the Government promised the private bankers of Australia primarily, and upon which it claims to have received a mandate from the people, was to be a board of the old kind. The Government either fooled the people with its promises or is fooling them with this bill. It is one or the other, because the board to be established under the measure, and to which the Opposition objects, cannot in the final analysis carry out any policy decision whatsoever. It will be as much subject to the Treasurer of the day, whether he be a . Labour or nonLabour treasurer, as the Governor of the bank is at the moment, with his advisory council with which he deliberates on policy from time to time. We object to any change in the present position. The Government and members who support it have got to produce a good policy to the bankers who paid for their election expenses so that they could be elected to this Parliament. The Banking Act 1945 is to us the Ark of the Covenant of banking. We want to have nothing else, and we want no alteration of it. If the Government and its supporters desire any effective change in the banking system of Australia, and if their wishes were to be reflected by the legislation in the Parliament, then they would not wish the Governor of the Bank to be in the position that he occupies to-day at all. He would be only a minor member of the board instead of its chairman, and the Treasurer of the day would not have the right to throw the opinions of the Bank board under the table if he wished te. do so, and yet that is precisely what he can do under this bill. We have at least reached a very satisfactory stage in this matter in that we have elicited the opinion of the tories of 1950 in regard to banking, and it is a considerable improvement on the opinion of the tories of 1930. For that progress may the Lord be praised.
– And we are duly thankful.
– We certainly are. We say to the Government now that there is so little difference between lis that it is best to maintain the status quo and to defend the 1945 act and have it stand for all time, if the Parliament wishes, as the final word on banking by this Parliament. We should not have striven for the nationalization of banking in this country if it were not for the fact that the 1945 legislation had been challenged.
– If it was not for the fact that the nationalization of banking is part of the Labour party’s policy.
– We did what we did in order to protect the 1945 legislation, but we have advanced somewhat from that point. The banks no longer desire to challenge the sections of that legislation which the Government is standing by now, particularly the section that gives the Treasurer of the day the final word on financial policy. That is as it ought to he, and is as the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems in 1934-35 recommended that it should be. But of course the Governments in the years from 1934 to 1941 would do nothing about banking. The Government that received the report of that royal commission would do nothing to give legislative effect to that particular recommendation or indeed to any of its recommendations, although the commission had been appointed by that very Government.
The Labour party desires to protect the people’s savings and the people’s bank. We do not want the Commonwealth Bank to become in part a banker’s bank; we want it always to be a people’s bank. I accuse the Government of dishonesty in its intentions, because it has said that the proposed board will have five public servants and five members appointed from outside the Public Service, whereas the relevant clause is so worded that seven outsiders and only three public servants could and might be appointed to the board. The clause states -
The Commonwealth Bank Board shall consist of - seven other members, who shall be appointed by the Governor-General . . .
Of the seven members appointed . . . at least five shall be persons who are not officers of the Bank or the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
We have been told that two public servants, Professor Melville and Dr. Roland Wilson, are to be appointed, but they can be removed at any time. They are not to be appointed for terms of years as will be the outsiders who are to be appointed. They could be appointed on oneday and removed on the following day. They could he like some of those Yankee bankers of the last century - here to-day and gone tomorrow. They could be appointed for a week or a month or six months and then removed, and outsiders could be appointed in their places for a term of seven years. I believe that that is what the Government intended to do if it could have persuaded the Senate to pass the legislation without alteration. I believe that its motives are dishonest and that instead of having a board composed of five persons associated with the bank or the Treasury and five outsiders, it will have seven outsiders and three other persons associated with the . bank or the Public Service, one of whom would he the Governor of the bank, another the Deputy Governor and the third the Secretary to the Treasury. The Government seems to have adopted a dishonest way of stating the position to the public. We do not desire to have a board of seven outsiders interfering with the activities of the people’s bank. Would the Government agree to the passage of legislation to empower the government of the day to appoint half of the directors of private banks from outside the list of shareholders of those banks? Would it care to appoint the directors of private banks, public servants or representatives of trade unions or persons not associated with the money-making machinery of this country? Of course it would not. But it desires to maul the people’s bank and to bring in outsiders to control the activities of the bank who will be more concerned with the protection of their own private interests than with the protection of a public institution. At least that was the experience that we had with the former bank board. I do not blame a man who has big financial interests and who becomes a member of the Commonwealth Bank Board for putting his own interests first. That is human nature. But I do not want such a man to be subjected to any such temptation in future and for that reason. I consider that the amendments made by the Senate are perfectly valid and good and that if the Government is wise it will accept them. I do not believe that if the Government persists in its move to reject the Senate’s amendments it will ever see the day when it will be able to announce to the Parliament that it has appointed outsiders to the board to do the harm that we believe would be done, either in great or small degree, once such people were appointed to control, or partly control, this great socialistic undertaking that the Labour party established.
– The Labour party has a fanatical objection to the appointment of a board to control the Commonwealth Bank. Honorable members on this side of the House have just as fanatical an objection to the control of the bank by a single public servant or an economist or any person who has not had any experience of outside life and conditions and would so be unable to take a lay view of financial matters. During the general election campaign we fought against the idea that one man should have a dictatorship over banking in this country and that economists should control our banking. We received a mandate to do what we are now doing in the re-establishment of a bank board. We have authority which justifies board control in the report of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems that sat in 1935-36. The commission found that a board consisting of a chairman, a deputy chairman and six or seven or five or six men should control the bank. The present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) was a member of that commission. He was appointed as a lay member. He made a very lengthy dissent from its findings. His dissent gave him an opportunity to say that he did not agree with the board system but it contains no reference or objection to the board or to a number of men of repute or standing conducting the affairs of the bank. In fact, I think that he mentioned in his dissent that men of good standing should control the bank. He did not at any point say that he objected to a board having control of a bank, and that fact must lead us to one conclusion only, which is that at that time the right honorable member agreed with the proposition that a board should control the bank. I agree, as other honorable members and the people outside surely agree, that the committee system in this country is acknowledged to be the best system for running a business.
Under that system decisions are made after discussions during which different points of view have been thrashed out. We object strongly to the idea that one man alone can make decisions in a closed room without having to give reasons for them. If the Leader of the Opposition has changed his view, since he was a member of the royal commission that I have mentioned, that a board was the correct way of conducting the Commonwealth Bank then it is probable that some of the other findings of that commission are wrong and it might now be a good time to have another royal commission of a similar nature. It is possible that the great changes that occurred in this country during the war make it necessary to hold another inquiry into monetary and banking systems in order to decide which is the best means of control of the Commonwealth Bank. I cannot bring myself to believe that unless the right honorable gentleman has changed his mind completely in the last fifteen years regarding the advisability of the board system that he is in earnest in opposing its proposed re-establishment, now. Only a very great change in his views could make it possible for him to do so sincerely. If he is correct in believing that a different system should be adopted now, then it is time that we examined the whole of the banking system in the light of the situation, as it is to-day. It is wrong for the right honorable gentleman to lead his party into the idea that the board system is unsatisfactory when fifteen years ago he agreed with it. Unless conditions have changed greatly since then, it is humbug and hypocrisy for him to do so.
.- Very useful suggestions have been made by the Senate for the improvement of this bill. As the committee is considering the bill in globo I propose to deal more particularly with the question of the proposed Commonwealth Bank Board because I think that that is the kernal of the nut and the point of contention between us. I could understand the desire of the Government, to appoint a bank board if the present control of the Commonwealth Bank had failed or had showed signs of failing, but I think that every fair-minded man, whether he is opposed to nationalized banks or not, will admit that the Commonwealth Bank did a marvellous job of work during the war and before it. Under the most trying circumstances it did a marvellous job in financing Australia’s war effort and the great industrial effort behind the war effort. If Government members could point out any detail in which the bank failed this country during that most critical time in its history I could understand their anxiety to alter the system of control of the bank. It would be a very laudable objective because it would not be wise for the Government to stake its future on a financial institution if, in the Opinion of the Government, that institution had failed in its duty.
It is just as well to examine the composition of the board which the Government proposes to establish. It is proposed that the board shall include the Governor, the Deputy Governor of the bank and the Secretary of the Department oi” the Treasury. I understand that those gentlemen are at present acting in an advisory capacity. It is proposed that the board shall include seven other members who shall be appointed by the Governor-General “ in accordance with the succeeding provisions of this section “. The bill provides that -
Of the seven members appointed under paragraph (d) of the last preceding sub-section, at least five shall he persons who are not officers of the bank or the Public Service of the Commonwealth.
Under that proposal, five people who will be drawn from outside the service of the bank and from outside the Public Service will be “ make weights “ on the board. I was rather interested when this bill was previously before the House to hear the ex-Treasurer, the present Minister for National Development (Mr. Casey), talk about these five people who are just going to be picked off the street in a haphazard sort of way. It is not intended that they shall be people with any knowledge of banking or that they shall have any connexion with banking. In the Minis.ler s own words, they are to be five people who will be “picked off the street “. If that is really the intention of the Government how does it think it will perform any useful service for the country by putting on the bank board five noodles who have been picked off the street and who have no knowledge of banking? Does the Minister think that the Government will strengthen the board or the administration of the bank by putting such “make weights “ on the board ? If the Government did such a thing it would be failing in its duty to the people and to the bank itself. I do not believe that the Government will do that. I merely repeat what was said by the Minister for National Development. I have a vivid recollection that a gentleman resigned from a prominent private bank in order to accept a position on the previous Commonwealth Bank Board and after he had been displaced from the Commonwealth Bank Board he immediately went back to the private bank from which he had come in the first place. It was obvious that he had merely been released from service with the private bank for the period during which he was a member of the Commonwealth Bank Board. A person of average intelligence could see that that man never entirely dissociated himself from the interests, that he was serving prior to his acceptance of a position on the Commonwealth Bank Board.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has already said, and I agree, that this bill does not represent all that the private bankers want but I think that it is all the Government has the courage to give them in return for the very substantial contributions that they made to the Government parties during the general election campaign. I do not believe that the private banks will be entirely satisfied with the Government’s proposals but I do believe that, in the hands of a Government which is determined to shackle the activities of the Commonwealth Bank, this loophole clause will provide the opportunity of removing from the board anybody who does not meet with their requirements. That provision does not apply to the five people who are to be taken off the street. I am satisfied that the Government has inserted this clause as a safety valve in case the bank board is not prepared to do exactly as the private banks will require it to do. I strongly support the amendments which have been made to the bill in another place. The Senate has performed a very statesmanlike function in dealing as it has done with this bill. I am pleased to be able to voice my opinion in support of the amendments that have been made by the Senate and I hope that honorable members will have sufficient intelligence to adopt them.
Question put -
That theamendments be disagreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman -Mr. C. F. Adermann. )
Majority . . . . 33
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) put
That the resolution be reported.
The committee divided. (The Chairman -Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
That Mr. Spender, Mr. Francis and the mover be appointeda committee to draw up reasons for the House of Representatives disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate.
– On behalf of the committee I bring up the following reasons : -
Reasons of the House of Representatives for disagreeing to the amendments of the Senate.
The amendments would defeat the following principles for the establishment of which the Government obtained approval at the last general election: -
Collective responsibility for the determination of policy should be restored . by the re-establishment of a board comprising men of wide knowledge and experience, which would ensure the integration of the policy of the bank with economic and financial policy generally, without impairing the independence of the bank.
The ultimate responsibility for monetary and banking policy should lie with the Parliament while preserving an effective working relationship between the Government and the bank.
I move -
That the committee’s reasons toe adopted.
– The reasons advanced by the committee are completely empty and mean nothing at all. Of course the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) has to conform with the procedure of the House and present something, hut there is no sub-‘ stance in either of the points raised. Nobody in this country can indicate anything that is wrong with the management of the Commonwealth Bank or can say that it has not fully discharged the duties placed upon it. It is recognized that the conduct of the Commonwealth Bank, under the present system, has never been better. Thebank is administered far more efficiently tinder the present system than it was administeredby a bank hoard. The reasons presentedby the Treasurer make no appeal to the Opposition. With regard to collective responsibility and the necessity for obtaining people of wide knowledge and experience, surely nobody suggests that men canbe gathered together in this country to control the hank whose ability is even equal to that of the present members of the Advisory Council. There is no man in public life or in professional life with a wider knowledge of the subject with which he deals than is the present Governor of the hank, Dr. Coombs.
Mr.Fadden. - He will be the chairman of the proposed board.
– I say that at present there are no men outside the Commonwealth Bank who are available to administer it in as efficient a fashion as do the present heads of the hank. The men now associated with the control of the bank are able, young and enthusiastic. I refer the House to the tribute paid by the American magazine Fortune to Dr. Coombs when he was in America in connexion with the International Trade Organization. No more glowing tribute has everbeen paid to an Australian. No persons can be found in Australia whose ability is equal to that of the present members of the Advisory Council. Previously I mentioned bringing men into the bank off the street. In saying that I did not want honorable members to believe that the Government intended to go out into any street and select from the passers- by men to control the destinies of the bank. The Government proposes to appoint persons who may have some financial knowledge. The point is that such persons are not to be connected with a hanking institution. Therefore, when they take their places onthis board they will start off knowing nothing about banking. The plain fact is that this bill is offering a compensation to the private banks for the financial assistance they gave to the present Government parties to enable them to attain office.
-Where did Dr. Coombs learn his banking?
– He was in the Commonwealth Bank at first.
– As economic adviser.
– Yes. Does the honorable member regard Lord Keynes as having known nothing about banking?
– The right honorable member is using his own arguments against himself.
– The original policy of the Government was to have a small board, but ten directors grew where only three were before.
– There are seven directors in the right honorable member’s own company.
– That is so, but I do not propose to enter into a lengthy argument about the matter. I wish only to say that no individuals or organizations can be obtained in this country to manage the Commonwealth Bank better than it is being managed at present.
– It will be managed far better in the future.
– In the right place I
Gould make a proper retort to that remark, but in this House I should only call down on my head the wrath of Mr. Speaker if I gave to the honorable member an adequate reply. Statistics indicate the great ability of the men associated with the control of the Commonwealth Bank, but private enterprise wants to get a finger into the pie. For that reason the private banks spent vast sums of money in assisting to put the present Government into office.
– Perhaps they spent the same amount as was spent by the brewers in putting the previous Government into office.
– If the honorable gentleman thinks that the brewers spent very much on us, he is barking up the wrong tree. I know something about the money that was expended by the private banks in putting the present Government into office. I know of the donations that were made from time to time, and I know of money that was expended directly in organizing support for the present Government parties. Motor cars were used, and employees went round doing organizing work. It is of no use for Government supporters to argue about this. The present Government members have been the tools and representatives of the private banks.
-Order ! I point out that the right honorable member is getting right away from the terms of the motion, which relates to the adoption of certain reasons for disagreeing with the Senate’s amendments. The matters that he has been discussing during the last two or three minutes could not be included under that heading by any stretch of the imagination.
– I apologize if I have digressed from, the subject of the motion, Mr. Speaker.
– Withdraw !
– Withdraw what?
– Withdraw the allegation.
– I was about to say that the words “ tools of the private banks “ may have been slightly undignified, and I do not press that statement.
Mr. Wentworth interjecting,
– Put him back in his cage.
– Order ! The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw.
-I shall deal very trenchantly with honorable gentlemen if they insist upon making remarks like that to one another.
– Would there be a possibility of my having a few words now, Mr. Speaker?
– I am most anxious to secure an uninterrupted hearing for the right honorable gentleman, but I point out that at least 50 per cent, of the interjections have come from his own followers.
– I am very glad to hear that only 50 per cent, of them have come from this side of the House.
– At least 50 per cent. !
– I had not realized that Mr. Speaker had attached that qualification to the figure. I hope that I shall have an opportunity to say a few words on this subject when honorable members have finished interjecting and when you, Mr. Speaker, have finished correcting and admonishing them.
I repeat emphatically that no organization could manage the Commonwealth Bank much better than it is managed to-day. Even the Treasurer has admitted that one of the faults of the former Commonwealth Bank Board lay in the fact that the Governor of the bank was not the chairman of the board. I believe that no national institution of the nature of the Commonwealth Bank, which deals with national finance, should have associated with its management anybody who has private interests in business.
– Does the right honorable gentleman deny that the Government has a mandate to do what it is doing?
– If a political party includes half a dozen or twenty proposals in its declaration of policy in an election campaign and is elected to power on the strength of one of those proposals, it does not necessarily have a mandate for everything stated in its policy declaration. The Government may have received a mandate for the appointment of a small board to control the Commonwealth Bank, but it is not attempting to establish a small board. On no account will the Labour party ever agree that individuals who have private interests in business should be associated with a great national institution such as the Commonwealth Bank. That expresses without any embellishment the principle for which we stand. “We consider that the national responsibility that rests upon the Commonwealth Bank is so great that the Government should not take the risk of appointing to its management persons of the kind that I have mentioned. Everybody is human, and it would be very difficult for a man with private financial interests not to take advantage of inside information that he might obtain if he were a member of a board in control of the Commonwealth Bank. He might obtain special information about such matters as the recent depreciation of the £1, for instance. The Commonwealth Bank is supplied with confidential information by the Bank of England and other national banks and by the chancellors and treasurers of foreign governments. Private business men would be almost superhuman if they were not unconsciously influenced - I do not cast any reflections upon their honesty - by the knowledge that they might obtain as members of a Commonwealth Bank Board.
The whole principle of the Government’s proposal is wrong. It cannot be justified by any experience under the present administration of the Commonwealth Bank. I believe that, as time passes, the views of the Opposition will gain increasing support from the events that will occur in other countries. The Treasurer mentioned a number of governments that had established central banks and referred to the system of management that had been adopted for those institutions. I have had an opportunity to make inquiries since then, and I have ascertained that nobody with private financial interests is concerned, for instance, with the management of the central Bank of Ceylon, the most recently established central reserve bank. On principle, no man with private business interests should be associated with the administration of a great national institution upon which the. economic stability of the nation depends to some degree. Therefore the Opposition is totally opposed to the proposal.
Motion (by Mr. Fadden) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the committee’s reasons be adopted.
The House divided. (Me. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.) Ayes . . . . . . 66
Majority . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate with the following message: -
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the bill for “ An Act to amend the provisions of the ‘ Social Services Consolidation Act 1947-49’ relating to Child Endowment and acquaints the House that the Senate insists on disagreeing to amendment No. .1 insisted on by the House of Representatives, as indicated in the annexed schedule and for the reason shown therein, and requests the House to grant a conference on such amendment. In the event of a conference being agreed to, the Senate will be represented at the conference by five managers.
The Senate does not insist on its disagreement to amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4 of the House of Representatives.
– I move -
That the request of the Senate for a conference be disagreed to and that the Senate be requested to reconsider the bill in respect of amendment No. 1 made by the House of Representatives on which the Senate insists on disagreeing.
I do not propose to speak at any length upon this motion; I shall merely remind the House of what has taken place. It was made quite clear in this House in the first place that the Government proposed to provide for the payment of endowment for the first child in every family at the rate of 5s. a week. We introduced a measure which, in accordance with the practice to which we are becoming accustomed in this Parliament, was altered in the Senate. It is well that I should remind the people of precisely what has taken place, so that they may evaluate the conduct of the Opposition.
During the last general election campaign, the payment of endowment at the rate of 5s. a week for the first child of a family under the age of sixteen years was a cardinal plank in the platform of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party. The Labour Government had resisted our attempts, when we were in Opposition in this House, to secure the payment of endowment for the first child, and it renewed its hostility to the proposal during that campaign. After the introduction of this bill, the Labour party exhibited a strange change of front. Prom having been bitterly opposed to any suggestion for paying endowment for the first child, it sought to increase the amount from 5s. to 10s. a week. An amendment to that effect, which was made by the Labour majority in the Senate, was rejected by the Government in this House. The Government is determined to be the master of its own business. It restored the amount to 5s. in conformity with its undertaking to the people. The Senate, after having declared that it would not recede from its original position, has retreated from it, and has endeavoured, in accordance with the tawdry party political tactics in which the Opposition has engaged, to reduce this chamber to a farce and to determine what the legislation of the country shall be. Labour senators know that, if they refuse to accept the will of this House upon this monwealth Bank. That express’s the principle for which we stand without any embellishment. We consider that the matter, they will torpedo the bill, and they must bear the responsibility if endowment is not paid for the first child.
.- It is now abundantly clear that the Government, by pressing on with this measure, wishes that the payment of endowment at the rate of 5s. a week for the first child of a family under the age of sixteen years will adversely affect the basic wage.
Government Members. - That is not true.
– It is abundantly clear. If tie Government did not wish the payment of endowment for the first child to affect the basic wage, it would throw the bill under the table at this stage. But it proposes to return the measure to the Senate in order to try to persuade that chamber to withdraw from the position that it took up when it inserted amendments for the purpose of ensuring that the basic wage should not be affected by the payment of endowment for the first child. The Senate has withdrawn its objection to the decision of the Government that the amount of the weekly payment shall be 5s. It has withdrawn temporarily from the position that it took up when it endeavoured to obtain for the mothers of Australia endowment of 10s. a week in respect of the first child under the age of sixteen years, but it insists, at this stage, that the payment of 5s. a week shall not be taken into consideration by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court when determining the basic wage. In the amendments that it has made to the bill, the Senate says, in effect, two things: First, there should be a direction to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court not to take the payment of 5s. a week for the first child into consideration when it is computing the basic wage. Secondly, there shall be a declaration that, in the opinion of the Parliament, the payment of endowment for the first child should not be taken into consideration by the court in calculating the basic wage.
The Government rejects the direction on the spurious ground that it may be constitutionally invalid, and, therefore, may not only affect the payment of endowment for the first child, but also interfere with the hearing of the basic wage case itself. Moreover, the Government refuses to accept the declaration, which cannot have the effect of directing the court, but may have the effect of influencing its judgment by advising the court of the mind of the legislature. By inserting that declaration in the bill, the Senate translated into draft legislation what the Government parties themselves said in the propaganda that they disseminated during the last general election campaign. They promised that, if returned to office, they would grant endow ment at the rate of 5s. a week for the first child of a family under the age of sixteen years, and that such payment would not have the effect of reducing the basic wage. Either that statement was spurious, or their arguments to-day are spurious. They obviously wish the payment of 5s. to be considered when the basic wage case is being finally decided by Their Honours who sit i:u judgment in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
If that amount of 5s. a week is taken into consideration by the court, there will obviously be a reshuffle of the amount of money that is paid to the wage-earning community. The parents of dependent children will receive more, but widowers without children, widowers with grown-up children, married men without children, married men with grown-up children, and single men and women will receive less. It will be a reshufHe of the wages bill in the interests of the employing classes. Honorable members opposite who were so indifferent to the needs of the women and children of Australia during the financial and economic depression of the 1930’s, now pose as the defenders of the family, and as the people who really want the mothers of Australia to receive more money for their children.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) said that the will of the House of Representatives was being frustrated by the Senate, and he dilated upon that matter. He declared that the will of those who constitute the majority in this House must be given effect by the Senate on every government measure. If that argument be valid, the need for the existence of the .Senate disappears. However, honorable members opposite are not supporters of the uni-cameral system. There are historical precedents for the Senate insisting upon its amendments. The Scullin Government took office in 1929. but no election for the Senate was held in that year. That government had to deal with senators who had been elected in 1925 and 1928, and who insisted upon giving effect to what they believed to be the will of the electors.
– Order ! I think that the honorable gentleman’s remarks are wide of the mark.
– They are just about as wide of the mark as were those of the Minister for External Affairs when he said-
-Order ! I cannot agree with the honorable member. His statement is a reflection upon the Chair.
– I would not reflect upon the Chair, but I was answering the Minister.
-Order ! There is no need for the honorable gentleman to answer the Minister.
– I agree with you on that point, Mr. Speaker, but it is necessary that you should hear what I say on behalf of the Opposition. Although I cannot pursue the matter, the hundreds of thousands of people who are listening to the broadcast of these proceedings-
– Order ! The honorable member shall not refer to the listeners.
– Why ? Is that contrary to the Standing Orders?
– It is contrary to my ruling. I have taken that stand ever since I have occupied the chair..
– I may ask you for that ruling one day.
– I shall give it very w illingly. The proceedings of this House are being broadcast, but honorable members have no right to attempt to address the listeners.
– Very well. The Government isnot honest-
– Order !
– I proceed. The Government is not honest about this legislation when it says that it wants the basic wage to be protected. It is not honest when it says that it does not want-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman is getting completely wide of the motion, which reads as follows : -
That the request of the Senate for a conference be disagreed to. and that the Senate be requested to reconsider the bill in respect of amendment No.1 made by the House of Representatives to which the Senate insists on d isagreeing.
The honorable member may give reasons for or against that motion, but he cannot discuss the merits of the amendment at the present time.
– I am giving reasons why this House should approve the amendment. May I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that the amendment made by the Senate deals with the protection of the basic wage-
– That matter is not now being discussed. The House is considering whether or not the Senate should be asked to reconsider an amendment.
– I contend that we should not ask the Senate to reconsider that amendment, and I am giving my treasons-
– Order ! The honorable member is canvassing the merits of the amendment, and he is completely out of order in doing so.
– But I have to give reasons why I consider that the amendment should be accepted. If you like, I shall repeat the reasons that I have given to date. I do not know whether I can say any more about the matter. You have ruled that I cannot say that I believe that the Government is not honest when it states that it wishes to protect the basic wage.
– Order! That is not a parliamentary expression.
– Well, the Government is not frank with this chamber in giving-
– Try again.
– I do not want any assistance from any Government supporter in this matter.
– Order ! Will the honorable gentleman address me, and’ ignore every one else?
– The Government is not frank when it says that it wishes the Senate to give expression to the will of the people. It is not frank when it says that the protection that is given in this bill to the basic wage will invalidate the measure if it is challenged in the High Court of Australia. Surely I am entitled to make those statements. I have stated what I believe to be the expression of the will of the people on this matter, and I have said what I believe to be the right thing in connexion with this measure. I ask the Minister for External Affairs not to be precipitate and stubborn about the matter, and I advise him to do one of two things, namely accept the amendment or throw thebill underthe table.That would be a much more honest attitude for theGovernment to adopt.
Motion (by Mr. Spender) put-
That the question be now put.
The House divided. ( Mr Speaker- Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority .. ..34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (vide page 4818),be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority ……. 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 21st June (vide page 4687), on motion by Mr. McBride -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure alters the basis of the remuneration of the chairman and other members of the Tariff Board and also abolishes the position of Director of Economic Research that was established under the principal act. The Opposition supports both those proposals. Incidentally, although the position to he abolished was established in 1929, it has never been filled. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. McBride), in his second-reading speech, pointed out that it is vital that adequate salaries be paid to members of government instrumentalities such as the Tariff Board. The Opposition agrees wholeheartedly with that sentiment. However, during the last few years, when supporters of the Government were in Opposition, they constantly criticized the Public Service. They described public servants as bureaucrats who, they said, dominated the government of the day and ordered the community round. Such statements were indicative of the irresponsibility of the Opposition of that day. I believe that at that time honorable members opposite realized, as they do now, that the Public Service renders a signal service to the people and to the Parliament. This measure indicates that the Government is prepared to pay salaries to public servants comparable with those obtainable in employment outside the service. Many public servants who give long years - indeed, a lifetime - in the Public Service, are not paid salaries comparable with those they could obtain in outside employment. The Government is also prepared to provide greater security of tenure for public servants. That is a step in the right direction; and that principle has special application in. respect of members of a body such as the Tariff Board.
Since federation Australia’s protectionist policy has not been seriously challenged. Any arguments that have arisen have related to the degree rather than the principle of protection. The Tariff Board was established and given the high and responsible task of recommending to the Parliament whether tariff duties should be levied, what rates of duties should be imposed and whether any items should be subsequently exempted from duty. The recognition of the great influence of the board’s decisions on the future industrial development of Australia is timely.For the reasons I have stated we endorse the proposition that has been advanced by the Minister. It constitutes a somewhat belated attempt on the part of the Government to recognize the fact that our public servants are rendering a great service to the people and that if they are to remain in the service of the Commonwealth and resist the attraction of higher paid posts offered by outside industry they must be paid adequate salaries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill -by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.18 to 12.57 a.m. (Friday).
Friday, 23 June 1950
The following bills were returned from the Senate : -
Without requests -
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1949-50.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1950-51.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1948-49.
Without amendment -
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1949-50.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1948-49.
Supply (Works and Services) Bill (No. 1) 1950-51.
Tariff Board Bill 1950.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received the following message from the Senate : -
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the hill for “ An Act to provide for the Dissolution of the Australian Communist Party and of other Communist Organizations, to disqualify Communists from holding certain Offices, and for purposes connected therewith “, and acquaints the House that the Senate insists on disagreeing to the amendments made by the House of Representatives on amendments Nos. 7 and16 of the Senate, as shown in Schedule A annexed. The Senate still insists on its amendments Nos. 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11, 15, 17. 20, 21, 22 and 28 to which the House has insisted on disagreeing, as shown in Schedule B annexed.
The Senate desires the reconsideration by the House of Representatives of the bill in respect of such amendments.
– The procedure laid down in the Standing Orders having produced a complete disagreement on this measure, I move -
That the bill be laid aside.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– (Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received the following message from the Senate :
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the hill for “ An Act to repeal the Banking Act 1947-1948 ‘ and to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act 1945-1948 ‘ “, and acquaints the House that the Senate insists on its amendments disagreed to by the House of Representatives, for the reason shown in the annexed schedule.
The Senate desires the reconsideration by the House of Representatives of the bill in respect of such amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) put -
That the House insists on disagreeing to the amendments (vide page 4809), insisted on by the Senate.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 31
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– (Hon. Archie Cameron) . - I have received the following message from the Senate: -
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the bill for “ An Act to amend the provisions of the ‘ Social Services Consolidation Act 1947-1949’ relating to Child Endowment”, and acquaints the House that the Senate has agreed to amendment No. 1 of the House of Representatives, and made a consequential amendment in clause 2, as shown in the annexed Schedule.
The Senate desires the concurrence of the House of Representatives in the consequential amendment in clause 2.
– The amendment made by the Senate is a consequential amendment having regard to the date on which the bill is being passed. The bill was expressed, in clause 2, to commence on the 19th June. As the 19th J une has now passed, it became necessary to alter the word “ shall “ to the words “be deemed to have commenced on 19th “. That amendment has been made so that calculations may be made as from the following day. I move -
That the consequential amendment made by the Senate (vide page 4770) be agreed to.
– I take it that I may, at this stage, make reference to the general provisions of the message from the Senate.
– That would not be in order.
– At what stage do you rule, Mr. Speaker, that some comments might be made on the general terms of the message?
– The only matter before the House at present is the acceptance or otherwise of the consequential amendment made by the Senate.
– That being so I ask for leave to make a few short remarks with regard to the general terms of the message.
Government Supporters. - No.
Leave not granted.
– The question is that the motion of the Prime Minister be agreed to.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Is a division called for?
Opposition Members. - Yes.
– As a division has been called for, the House will divide; ring the bells.
The bells being rung,
– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether it is not a fact that two or more honorable members must ask for a division.
– That is so. More than two members asked for a division.
– On behalf of the Opposition I inform the House that we do not desire a division.
– The division cannot be called off. A division was asked for by two honorable members.
– Do you, Mr. Speaker, say that more than two honorable members asked for a division?
The doors having been locked,
– Order ! The question is that the Senate’s consequential amendment to clause 2 of the Child Endowment Bill be agreed to. I appoint the honorable member for Henty and the honorable member for Dawson as tellers for the Ayes. There being no honorable members on the Opposition side I cannot appoint tellers from that side. I therefore declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
– As Chairman, I present the first report of the Printing Committee.
Report read by the Clerk, and - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next meeting.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr.Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Sitting suspended from 1.18 to 2.4 a.m.
– There being no further message from another place, and that other place having adjourned, I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Before the House adjourns I wish to protest against the manner in which the Government has treated His Majesty’s Opposition, and in particular against its refusal to allow the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley),, who is a member of His Majesty’s Privy Council, to make a statement relative to the Social Services Consolidation Bill. The right honorable gentleman sought leave of the House to make a statement on an important matter on behalf of a political party which represents 49 per cent. of the Australian electors.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! If the House does not wish to maintain order, I shall leave the chair.
– Such conduct is a travesty of justice and constitutes a complete denial of the democratic rights of the Opposition. Such offensive behaviour by a power-drunk Government-
– Order ! The honorable member may not proceed in that way. He is casting a reflection on the House.
– I hope that by the time the Parliament reassembles, possibly in September, the Government will have done something to restore to the Menzies £1 the value of the Chifley £1. I observe that the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) is smiling, as usual. He has good reason to smile, because I understand that he and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will soon make a trip to London at the expense of the taxpayers. While they are overseas I hope that they will be able to discover some means by which they can give effect to their solemn promises to the electors to put value back into the £1. So far the Government has done absolutely nothing to implement that promise. Ministers have contented themselves with making all sorts of silly statements to the effect that the diminishing value of the £1 and the steeply increasing cost of living have resulted from the refusal of the industrial workers to do a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. How does the Government account for the fact that the price of eggs, meat, wool and many other commodities that are not produced by the workers in industry are now higher than they have ever been in the past?
– In view of the lateness of the hour, I move -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided. (Me. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 28
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of the Interior - E. J. Burr.
Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinance - 1950 - No. 2 - Matrimonial Causes (Papua) (No. 2).
House adjourned at 2.15 a.m. (Friday) to a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. As at 31st December, 1949, the a mount of the national debt of Australia was - In Australia, £2,502,705,303; in United Kingdom, £370,692,371 sterling; in the United States of America, 190,320,000 dollars (£40,341,107 sterling dollars converted at 4.8665 dollars equals £1 sterling).
e. - On the 15th June, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) asked the following questions without notice -
The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What amount has been paid by Australia into the International Monetary Fund?
– In reply to the honorable member, I would advise that I have not seen the report upon which certain portions of the honorable member’s question is based. I might say, however, as I have done on previous occasions, that the report was purely speculative. Insofar as the remainder of the question is concerned, I shall consult my colleague, the Treasurer, and endeavour to supply so much of the information as does not impinge upon matters of policy.
s. - On the 25th May, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) asked me to supply him with the numbers of desertions, discharges, resignations, enlistments and appointments which have taken place in the permanent establishments of each of the three fighting services during the last twelve months. I now furnish the honorable member with the following particulars in relation to the last twelve months : -
r asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– In reply, I would direct the attention of the honorable member to the statement I made to the House on the 22nd June, 1950, in connexion with this matter.
Royal Australian Navy.
s. - On the14th June, the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) asked the following question: -
As a decision was made some time ago that naval police employed at dockyards and elsewhere should receive rates of pay in accordance with length of service similar to those paid to peace officers, and as the decision has not yet been implemented, will the Minister for the Navy take action to ensure that such adjustments of pay are made and that the increased rates arepaid retrospective to the date upon which thepeace officers received their last pay increase?
I then replied as follows : -
I shall be pleased to cause an examination to be made of the point raised by the honorable member which has not previously been brought to my notice. I shall give the matter early consideration.
I now desire to inform the honorable member that the guard section only of the naval dockyard police are paid rates of pay similar to those received by Commonwealth peace officers. It is not always possible, however, to adhere to a strict alinement in this regard, as it is essential that disparities in pay between identical ranks in the guard section and in the permanent force of the naval dockyard police should, wherever possible, be avoided. A comprehensive review of the special rates of pay payable to members of the guard section has just been completed, and it has been approved that, in this case, rates identical with those obtaining for Commonwealth peace officers shallbe paid, and that retrospective adjustments shall be made. The necessary authority for adjustment of salary rates is being issued immediately.
Immigration: Admission of Used Caravans.
e. - On the 15th June, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Grayden) asked a question without notice concerning the possibility of admitting used caravans, the property of immigrants, free of duty on the same basis as second-hand motor cars. The Minister for Trade and Customs has furnished the following reply: -
This matter has been considered previously and I find that should the determination relating to passengers’ personal effects be amended to include second-hand caravans, such action, besides being detrimental to the Australian caravan industry, might encourage the use of caravans as sub-standard homes. As second-hand motor vehicles which are admitted free of duty as passengers’ personal effects, subject to compliance with certain conditions, are used for transportation purposes and not as living quarters, it is evident that the circumstances under which the two kinds of vehicles are imported arc not analogous. I have decided, therefore, that second-hand caravans should not be admitted free of duty as personal effects. Incidentally, the freight on caravansis heavy and if the migrant desired a caravan it would be in his interests financially to purchase one after he arrived in Australia
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information: - 1 and 2. Comic strips, syndicated fiction, feature and art material are not subject to licence when originating in the United Kingdom or other sterling area countries. Licences are necessary when importation is desired from other countries. Licences are not made available to cover importation from dollar or other hard currency countries if exchange is involved. In many instances material which was imported prior to the introduction of import licensing is used as a basis for reproducing comic strips and other syndicated articles. In other cases publishers obtain their requirements from overseas newspapers and magazines which may be legally obtained from hard currency countries on subscription. Art material for comic strips is imported through the post in the form of pulls, proofs, photographs, newspaper clippings and tear sheets from newspapers and is very difficult to detect on outside examination. To close the avenue of importation would require a complete examination of first-class mail matter, which is impracticable.
l. asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s- Earlier to-day the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) addressed a question to me in the following terms : -
Will the Minister for the. Army inform me whether the decision that was made some little time ago to provide special motor cars for disabled ex-servicemen been given effect? If it has not, can the Minister state whether any progress has been made in the matter and how the needs of those men are being met T
I replied as follows : -
On behalf of the Minister for Repatriation who deals with the matter which has been raised by the honorable member for Fort Adelaide, I am pleased to say that approval has been granted for the .provision of motor cars for seriously disabled personnel. I think that there are approximately 90 ex-servicemen who are involved in the matter but I shall obtain for the honorable gentleman fuller details, including the conditions under which the motor vehicles have been made available and give him the particulars before the House adjourns.
In amplification of that reply, I now desire to inform -the honorable member that the Minister for Repatriation advisee me that the Government has agreed to the principle of providing specially equipped motor cars to ex-service personnel, who, as a result of war service, arc suffering from amputations of both legs above the knees, or paraplegics. It has also been decided that consideration be given to the position of ex-service personnel, who, as a result of war-caused disabilities other than those mentioned above, are unable to use, or have great difficulty, or are in danger when using the ordinary means of public transport. It has been decided to appoint a departmental committee comprising representatives of the Departments of Repatriation. Treasury, Attorney-General’s and Supply to examine the whole subject, and make recommendations to the Minister as to the precise terms and conditions which should apply to such scheme. As soon as the committee has submitted its report to the Minister, and it has been examined, an announcement as to the conditions under which the motor cars will be supplied will be made.
y. - On the 14th June the honorable member -for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) asked a question concerning the Australian Government Shipping Line. The Minister for Fuel, Shipping and Transport has furnished the following reply : - .
(From the 1st July, 1950.)
NINETEENTH PARLIAMENT - FIRST SESSION : FIRST PERIOD.
President - Senator the Honorable Gordon Brown.
Leader of the Government in the Senate - Senator the Honorable Neil O’Sullivan.
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate - Senator the Honorable George McLeay.
Chairman of Committees - Senator Theophilus Martin Nicholls.
Leader of the Opposition - Senator the Honorable William Patrick Ashley.
Deputy Leader of the Opposition - Senator the Honorable Nicholas Edward McKenna.
Amour, Stanley Kerln (N.S.W.)
Armstrong, Hon. John Ignatius (N.S.W.)
Arnold, James Jarvist (N.S.W.)
Ashley, Hon. William Patrick (N.S.W.)
Aylett, William Edward (T.)
Beerworth, Frederick Hubert (S.A.)
Benn, Archibald Malcolm (Q.)
Brown, Hon. Gordon (Q.)
Cameron, Hon. Donald (V.)
Cole, George Ronald (T.)
Cooke, Joseph Alfred (W.A.)
Cooper, Hon. Walter Jackson,M.B.E. (q)
Courtice, Hon. Benjamin (Q.)
Critchley, John Owen (S.A.)
Devlin, John Joseph (V.)
Finlay, Alexander (S.A.)
Fraser, Hon. James Mackintosh (W.A.)
Gorton, John Grey (V.)
Grant, Donald MacLennan (N.S.W.)
Guy. Hon. James Allan (T.)
Hannaford, Douglas Clive (S.A.)
Harris, John (W.A.)
Hendrickson, Albion (V.)
Henty Norman Henry Denham (T.)
Katz, Frederick (V.)
Kendall, Roy (Q.)
Large, William James (N.S.W.)
McCallum, John Archibald (N.S.W.)
McKenna, Hon. Nicholas Edward (T.)
McLeay, Hon. George (S.A.)
Maher, Edmund Bede (Q.)
Mattner, Edward William (S.A.)
Morrow, William (T.)
Murray, Reginald James ft.)
Nash,Richard Harry (W.A.)
Nicholls, Theophilus Martin (S.A.)
O’Byrne, Justin Hilary (T.)
O’Flahorty, Sidney Weinman (S.A.)
O’Sullivan, Hon. Neil (Q.)
Please, Edmund Stephen Roper (W.A.)
Rankin, Annabelle Jane Mary (Q.)
Rankln, George James, D.8.O., V.D. (V.)
Reid, Albert David (N.S.W.)
Robertson, Agnes Robertson (W.A.)
Ryan, John Victor (S.A.)
Sandford, Charles Walter (V.)
Scott, Malcolm Fox (W.A.)
Sheehan, James Michael (V.)
Simmonds, Wilfrid Mylchreest (Q.)
Spicer, Hon. John Armstrong (V.)
Spooner, Hon. William Henry (N.S.W.)
Tangney, Dorothy Margaret (W.A.)
Tate, JohnPercival (N.S.W.)
Vincent, Victor Seddon (W.A.)
Ward, Frederick Furner (S.A.)
Wedgwood, Ivy Evelyn (V.)
Willesee, Donald Robert (W.A.)
Wood, Ian Alexander Christie (Q.)
Wordsworth, Robert Hurley (T.)
Wright, Reginald Charles (T.)
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 June 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1950/19500622_reps_19_208/>.