House of Representatives
7 March 1951

19th Parliament · 1st Session

Mr.Speaker(Hon.Archie Cameron) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Assent to the following bills reported: -

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill 1950

Appropriation Bill 1950-51

Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1950-51

Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill 1950

Sales Tax Bills (Nos. 1 to 9) 1950

Commonwealth AidRoads Bill 1950.

Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1950

Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1950

Wheat Industry Stabilization (Refund of Charge) Bill 1950

Salaries (Statutory Officers) Adjustment Bill1950

National Welfare Fund Bill 1950

Superphosphate Bounty ActRepeal Bill 1950.

Flax Canvas Bounty Bill 1950

Wool Products Bounty Bill 1950

Customs Bill ‘1950

Tractor Bounty Bill 1950.

Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1950.

Customs Tariff (Export Duties) Bill 1950.

Customs Tariff (No. 3) 1950.

Excise Tariff 1950.

Excise Tariff (No. 2) 1950.

Egg Export Control Bill 1950.

States Grants (Administration of Controls Reimbursement) Bill 1950.

Life Insurance Bill 1950.

States Grants (Imported Houses) Bill 1950.

Services Trust Funds Bill 1950.

Port Augusta to Alice Springs Railway (Alteration of Route) Bill 1950.

Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1950.

Wool (Contributory Charge) Bill (No.1A) 1950.

Wool (Contributory Charge) Bill (No. 2a) 1950.

States Grants (Milk for School Children) Bill 1950.

Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1950.

Loan (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). Bill 1950.

Brachina to Leigh Creek North Coalfield Railway Bill 1950.

Superannuation Bill 1950.

Commonwealth Railways Bill 1950.

Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill 1950.

Interim Forces Benefits Bill 1950.

Statute Law Revision Bill 1950’.

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Mr. MENZIES (Kooyong - Prime

Minister). - It is with deep personal regret that I have to announce to the House the resignation from Cabinet of the Honorable Dame Enid Lyons, G.B.E., Vice-President of the Executive Council.For some months, because of ill health, Dame Enid has been on leave of absence from Cabinet duties. We bad all hoped that a complete rest from political activities might restore her to normal vigour. However, as Dame Enid has set out in a letter to me, this has not been realized. Dame Enid has always been willing, notwithstanding ill health, to carry out her official duties and to give to them the devotion and spirit of publicservice for which she is well known to us all. The gravity of the international situation and the serious nature of our mounting internal problems have led her to the view that without vigorous health she could not carry out her duties to her own’ satisfaction. Dame Enid’s resignation has been received with regret not only by the Government and by myself but also by the Australian people, by whom Dame Enid has long been regarded with affection and admiration. In accepting her decision I know I can express on behalf of the House the earnest wish that her lightened responsibilities will lead to a marked improvement in her health. Dame Enid’s resignation will take effect as from to-day and for the present, but ‘only for the present, I shall assume the duty of VicePresident of the Executive Council.

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Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie

Cameron). - I have to announce that I am in receipt of a letter from M. Spaak, President of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, inviting representation from this House to certain proceedings which will take place at Strasbourg in May of this year. I shall lay it on the table.

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– I have received a letter from the President of the Knesset, the Parliament of Israel, together with a resolution adopted by the Knesset on the 10th January, 1951, concerning the proposed rearmament of Germany. The text of his letter is given in Hebrew and in French. I shall lay it on the table.

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Petitions praying that action be taken to secure by a referendum of the people an extension of the Commonwealth’s constitutional powers to enable the passing of legislation by the Commonwealth Parliament to control prices, were presented as follows : -

By Mr. CLARK, from certain electors of the Division of Darling.

By Mr. JAMES, from certain electors of the Division of Hunter.

By Mr. SHEEHAN, from certain citizens of New South Wales.

Petitions received and read.

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– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question about the Legal Service Bureau, which, as the right honorable gentleman knows, was established by statute and gives legal advice to members and discharged members of the forces and their dependants. The bureau comes within the jurisdiction of the AttorneyGeneral and its services have been found of great value to all honorable members as well as to service men and women. Will the Prime Minister himself be good enough to intervene with a view to seeing whether a very drastic retrenchment is proceeding in that bureau at present, and ascertain whether such retrenchment can be prevented? I ask this question in view of the facts that the demands for aid by ex-servicemen are increasing and that various exservicemen’s organizations have made representations on the subject ?

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– I cannot undertake to intervene in one sense of the word, but I shall be very glad to discuss the matter with the Attorney-General, with a view to ascertaining what the position is and what he has in his mind.

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– In view of the grave warning given by the Prime Minister and of his call to the nation to develop full-scale preparation for national defence against aggression within a specified period of three years, and also in ‘view of the fact that oil and petrol are as essential to the defence of Australia as are men and munitions, I ask the Treasurer to make a full statement to the House before any further action is taken to close the Glen Davis oil refinery, which is the only independent source of petrol available in Australia in the event of any war of defence?


– The decision to close the Glen Davis oil refinery was taken by the Cabinet after a full consideration of all the relevant factors and circumstances, and in the light of present conditions.

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– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and, by way of explanation, I mention that I have gathered from various sources that the position of the United Kingdom relative to supplies of sulphur is very grave, and that the United States of America, which is the principal source of supply, informed the United Kingdom Government some considerable time ago that that country would be unwise to expect to obtain more than 80 per cent, of its requirements., from America. The consequences of such a shortage to British industry are very serious indeed. In view of the fact that Australia is dependent very largely upon supplies of imported sulphur, will the Minister outline to the House in a statement during the current sessional period the plans, if any, that the Australian Government has made to ensure that adequate supplies of sulphur will be available to this country? Sulphur is the basic material of sulphuric acid and superphosphate, and is required in metallurgical extraction and oil refining, and in the textile industry, as well as in a vast range of commercial production. “What steps have been taken by the Government to ensure that Australia will produce the whole of its supplies of sulphur, and thereby become independent of imported sulphur, particularly in the event of war?

Minister for Commerce and Agriculture · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– The Government is acutely conscious of the importance of sulphur supplies to Australia. The principal purpose for which sulphur is required is, as the honorable member for Lalor has stated, in relation to the production of superphosphate, but there are also other important purposes. The United States Administration recently advised that it was curtailing the export of sulphur. Australia has been dependent principally upon the United States for its supplies of that material. An international conference convened by the United States Administration is proceeding in Washington at the present time, and the matter of supplies of sulphur is being discussed. The Australian represented at that conference by a very senior officer of the Department of Trade and Customs, and the Director-General of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock, is our spokesman at the section of the conference which is dealing with sulphur, for he is the official who is principally concerned with the terminal use of sulphur for superphosphate. I assure the honorable member for Lalor and all other persons who are interested in this matter that the Australian Government will watch the position carefully, and do everything possible to procure the maximum supplies of sulphur.

Mr Pollard:

– What action does the Government propose to take to increase the local production of sulphur ?


– I was about to come to that point. Sulphuric acid is produced as a by-product in certain metallurgical processes, but sulphur can be replaced in the production of sulphuric acid by the use of pyrites, of which there are substantial supplies in Australia. In some States examinations are being conducted and plans are being made to ascertain what steps can be taken to exploit our national deposits of pyrites and to convert certain plants from the use of sulphur or brimstone to the use of pyrites. During the last week I had discussions with the Acting Premier of Western Australia about this matter, and also with persons concerned with the possible exploitation of the great deposits of pyrites in South Australia. I assure the honorable member that the ‘Government is quite conscious of the importance of the situation and will do everything possible to meet it.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. During recent months Australian civil airlines have found insufficient trained persons offering themselves as air crew members. If this situation continues these airlines may have to curtail their services in certain directions. Can the Minister inform the House whether the Government has given any consideration to this problem, and whether it can assist in alleviating this position?

Minister for Air · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · LP

– There is a shortage of civil air pilots to-day. Some airline companies have been bringing pilots to Australia from overseas, but a large number of Australian pilots are now in training. The air force training has been accel erated and there is a waiting list of those who wish to offer their services to the Royal Australian Air Force. Aero clubs are doing some of the training required to take a pilot up to commercial standard, and are also re-training some instructors. There is still a gap between what is being achieved and what is required in airline officers. The Government is giving consideration to the establishment of some form of aviation college and to other ways of uniting the facilities of civil aviation with those of the Royal Australian Air Force, in order to give a complete training service to meet the requirements of civil airlines. There is no immediate danger of a shortage of staff which would impair the efficiency of the airlines.

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– In the PrimeMinister’s many statements against the miners and waterside workers for their alleged strikes against the community, why has he neglected to mention the action of certain wealthy organizations that are holding up supplies of hides to tanners pending the delivery of a High Court judgment ? Has his attention been drawn to the fact that this hold-up of essential materials threatens the employment of thousands of operatives in the tanning, boot and shoe, and other leather industries? Does this situation threaten the Government’s plan for stock-piling boots and leather equipment for the forces? Will the right honorable gentleman, before next uttering at his press conferences and broadcasts charges against workers’ organizations, make himself acquainted with the details of this hold-up and have something to say about its effect on civil and defence requirements ?


– I am certainly always willing to learn, and I shall read the honorable member’s remarks with interest. I am not aware that I had been making many statements on these matters ; in fact I am not aware of having made one in the course qf this year.

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– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. By way of explanation, I say that I believe that certain categories of pensioners are allowed to purchase wireless broadcast listeners’ licences at approximately half the normal cost. Will the PostmasterGeneral give consideration to the possibility of extending that privilege to war widows ?

Postmaster-General · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The question of issuing licences free or upon payment of only part of the normal fee to certain people has been considered by the Postmaster-General’s Department and various administrations over a number of years. As far as I can see, there is no prospect of any extension of the present concessions.

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– Will the Minister for Immigration say whether it is a fact, as reported, that hundreds of foreign immigrants are leaving their employment without permission and breaking their employment contracts? Is any obligation placed upon employers to report to the appropriate Commonwealth Department when immigrants leave their employment without permission? What action is the Government taking against immigrants who break their employment contracts? How many immigrants who have broken their contracts have been dealt with?

Minister for Immigration · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– At the present time, there are over 80,000 persons in Australia who are subject to the contractual arrangements to which the honorable member has referred. Obviously, without an enormous supervisory staff it would not be practicable for the ‘Commonwealth to supervise completely the movements of persons who are subject to these contracts. Therefore, we look to employers to notify us if immigrants whom they have employed leave that employment improperly or without authority, but that is not always done by employers, and there is no legal obligation upon them, to do it. However, when cases of immigrants leaving ‘ their employment improperly are notified to the Department of Labour and National Service, the cases are investigated and the facts reported to the Department of Immigration. Approximately 870 cases of that kind have been notified to us, and we have tried to take effective action to ensure that the persons concorned shall be returned to approved employment. In really bad cases, such as those in which ‘.immigrants prove to be completely intransigent or will not honour their contractual obligations, the extreme step of deportation is taken. Up to the present time that action has been taken in approximately 50 cases.

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– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to inform the House whether a date has been fixed for the proposed referendum on the post- Joint Organization wool scheme, whether the final details of the scheme have been worked out, and whether they will be circulated sufficiently long before the referendum is held -to enable wool-growers to study them?


– I am not in a position to inform the House of the exact date on which the referendum to which the honorable gentleman has referred will be held. Any delay that has occurred is due to the final negotiations between the four governments that are parties to the proposed arrangement regarding the financial contribution of the United Kingdom Government. Upon the final determination of the contribution of the United Kingdom to the capital of the organization depend other decisions, such as the number of directors that each government will have on the controlling authority. We are quite close to the finalization of the plan. I have not considered it proper ,to publish only part of the plan, because that might assist those who wish to distort the true position. In all of these matters, we are in constant consultation with representatives of the wool-growers’ federal organizations. As soon as the plan is in its final form, it will be printed and circulated by .the Government, without comment, as a factual statement. I assure the honorable gentleman that the period between the circulation of the plan and the conduct of the referendum will be sufficiently long to enable every woolgrower to inform himself fully of the issues involved and form his judgment on the proposed plan.


– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to reports that the £20,000,000 wool subsidy scheme which was introduced by the Government to prevent clothing prices soaring is not working satisfactorily because the subsidy makes it possible for manufacturers to pay different prices for approximately the same type of wool according to market changes, which means that, if the subsidy is really passed along the chain, the finished material will carry different prices for the same grade? Will the Treasurer investigate allegations being made that this practice gives a chance for some one - manufacturer, wholesaler ot retailer - to bring prices to a common level based on the highest-priced wool, and so- could prevent the full benefit of the subsidy from being passed on to the consuming public?


– By agreement with the Treasurer, I shall answer the question, because I am administratively responsible for the operation of the wool subsidy. I have seen the criticisms that have been offered, as well as the reasons for them that have been given by the honorable member, and I have asked for a report upon their validity. I am not yet in possession of that report, but I state now that the Commonwealth is not without experience in the operation of a wool subsidy, because the Chifley Government, and, I think, the Curtin Government, operated a wool subsidy scheme in the war years. Administrative experience is therefore available in relation to the very real problems that exist in connexion with the operation of such a scheme.

Mr Pollard:

– The Labour Government’s schemes were operated while the Commonwealth had complete control of prices.


– It was because of the prices aspect of the matter that this Government did not decide to introduce the subsidy on wool until the Prime Minister had informed a meeting of State Ministers in charge of prices control that this Government was prepared to introduce a wool subsidy if those Ministers were willing, and said that they were able, to see that the benefits of the subsidy were passed on to the consuming public. The State Ministers expressed their willingness to do so and arranged for a conference of representatives of my department, of the Treasury, and of the Australian Wool Realization Commission with their own senior prices officials. It was only upon a complete understanding that the wool subsidy was an administratively practical proposal that the Government moved to introduce the relevant legislation.

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Mr. James having addressed a disallowed question to the Prime Minister,


– The question is out of order.

Mr Rosevear:

– Then I wish to take a point of order. The honorable member for Hunter was not referring to proceedings in the Senate. He was referring to proceedings that have taken place outside of the Senate in the course of which certain officers of the Government were summoned to attend before a select committee which had been set up by the Senate. This committee was denied its witnesses because Ministers ordered them not to give evidence before the committee. I suggest, with great respect, Mr. Speaker, that a question concerning the propriety of that action does not come within the standing order that prevents a discussion of events which have taken place in the Senate. The honorable member’s question was designed to elicit information concerning proceedings outside the Senate.


– Order ! My ruling is that a select committee of the Senate is part and parcel of the proceedings of that chamber.

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– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army a question concerning the bush and grass fires which have been caused by the Army during normal training in the Woodside-Nairne-Mount Beevor district in South Australia, boththis summer and last summer. Units have been unable to prevent such fires f from spreading despite elaborate precautions, and costly damage has been occasioned thereby to the property of farmers. In order to avoid similar occurrences in the future, will the Minister arrange for artillery, mortar, rifle and fire practice of all kinds to be carried out in country which is less valuable and less closely settled than these areas? In particular, will the Minister arrange for the transfer of the Mount Beevor range to a safer district? If there are no other parts of South Australia suitable for .military manoeuvres - which I do not for one moment believe - will the Minister cause fire practice for troops who are being trained at Woodside to be restricted to the April-December period when danger from grass fires is comparatively slight?

Minister for the Army · MORETON, QUEENSLAND · LP

– I regret very much that fires have broken out and have destroyed property and otherwise seriously interfered with the affairs of residents of the district to which the honorable member has referred. As the result of previous representations by the honorable member, investigations are now being made in order to ascertain whether artillery, mortar and other exercises including small arms exercises can be carried out in areas that are less susceptible to bush fires. However, if this is not possible, such exercises will be conducted at the times of year that the honorable member has indicated, when, it is hoped, the area will not be likely to catch fire. In the meantime, directions have been issued that firing practices must not be carried out in this area in South Australia during the summer months if there is any danger of fire. I shall confer with the honorable member again when the investigations that I have instituted with the object of finding a new site for firing ranges have been completed.


– Is the Minister for the Army aware that one of the largest petrol companies in Western Australia deprives its employees of one week of the annual holidays due to them if during the year they have been required by the armed services to serve for a week in a training camp? I understand that that is also the case with some other firms. In view of the fact that men who voluntarily spend their evenings and week-ends training to defend this country are thus additionally penalized, will the Minister appeal to such firms to adopt a more patriotic policy in respect of employees who are receiving part-time military training ?


– I regret very much to hear that such a practice has been adopted. If the honorable member will supply me with the name of the firm to which he has referred I shall bring it to the notice of the Director-General of Recruiting, Lieutenant-General Sir Edmund Herring, who has already had the best possible co-operation from chambers of manufactures, chambers of commerce and other trading organizations of every description. I have seen many advertisements published in newspapers by such organizations asking their members to co-operate with the authorities in. the recruiting campaign. Those appeals have had very beneficial results. However, I shall have great pleasure in taking up the matter with the company that the honorable member has mentioned if he will supply me with its name.

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– The Prime Minister was reported to have said recently that Australia had three years in which to prepare for war. If he was correctly reported, will the right honorable gentleman now say whether that statement was based on information which he obtained at the conferences that he recently attended overseas and, if so, will he explain how a group of nations threatened with aggression is able to announce so far ahead the exact date when war will start?


– This matter will be the subject of a statement which I hope to make to the House at 8 o’clock this evening.

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– Is the Minister for” Health in a position yet to give any indication of the percentage of doctors who have agreed to take part in the pensioners’ medical scheme? Can arrangements be made for the British Medical Association to supply lists of the names of such doctors to offices of the Department of Social Services and to pensioners’ organizations so that pensioners who will be covered by the scheme may examine the lists before approaching doctors foi medical attention in order to be sure that they are participating in the scheme? If this can be done, it will save a considerable amount of time for doctors and pensioners.

Minister for Health · COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The position is that when the British Medical Association advised the Department of Health of the doctors who were willing to co-operate under the scheme the department sent out to the various pensioners’ organizations in the cities and throughout country areas the names of such doctors and their respective localities. That was thought to be the most rapid way of disseminating that information and it was in accordance with the practice that has been followed by the Repatriation Department in respect of its doctors. It was felt, first, that advertising the names in the newspapers would not be satisfactory. Probably, in hundreds of instances, the names would not be noticed, and, in any event, the medical profession is averse to advertising of that kind. A second suggestion was made to the effect that the names of doctors should be exhibited at post offices indefinitely, but for similar reasons the medical profession opposed that idea. Therefore, they have endorsed the course that the department has followed, which, I am satisfied, will be just as valuable and satisfactory us it has proved to be in respect of doctors employed by the Repatriation Department.


– The Minister for Health stated last year that he hoped to put the Government’s scheme for the provision of free medical attention and free medicine for pensioners into operation early this year. I understand that the provision of free medical attention will be implemented almost immediately. Can the Minister inform the House whether he has been able to come to any arrangement with the doctors and chemists for the provision of ordinary medicines on prescription to pensioners free of charge?


– After considerable negotiation and examination of the position it has been found possible to draw up a pensioners’ pharmacopoeia. The prices of the medicines to be included will be discussed next week and it is anticipated that the details will be printed and. distributed within a few weeks to the doctors concerned in the scheme. The pensioners will then become entitled to receive free medicine as well as free medical services. I am very appreciative of the activities of the doctors and chemists in this matter, which is very much more difficult to arrange than some honorable members opposite appear to realize. Indeed, the difficulties were such that the Government that they supported did not attempt to bring into being any scheme such as that which the present Government is now about to implement. I am gratified with the results that we have been able to achieve up to date.


– My question refers to the free medical scheme as it affects pensioners. I wish to point out that many pensioners unfortunately are worse off now than they were before the scheme came into operation. Is it a fact that prior to the introduction of the scheme for free medical attention for pensioners some pensioners had an arrangement with local doctors under which they paid 7s. or 8s. a quarter for medical attention, which included medicine? Is it a fact that pensioners now obtain free medical attention from the doctors, but have to pay for medicines which, in some cases, cost them 15s. or £1 a week? If these are. facts will the Minister investigate the matter at once with a view to ensuring that free medicines are provided for pensioners whose small incomes make impossible such purchasers at their own “expense ?


– I doubt very much whether at the present time any pensioner would be paying 15s. a week for medicine, in view of the fact that all the life-saving drugs are now provided free. However, as I said in reply to the honorable member for Port Adelaide, the preparation of the list of free medicines that are necessary to deal with the ailments of the aged and those dependent upon pensions is in progress and in a week or two will be in the hands of the medical profession.

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– I preface a question that I address to the Minister for National Development by drawing his attention to the following statement that was attributed to him in the Courier Mail of the 14th February last : -

All of Australia’s 100 million Dollar Loan from the International Bank would probably be absorbed in the next few days and already about 68 million dollars have been allocated for vitally needed equipment and machinery.

In view of that statement and in view of statements published in the Brisbane press by the Queensland Treasurer, Mr. Gair, that the Queensland Main Roads Commission has received import licences to an amount of only approximately 300,000 dollars for the purchase of 36 tractors and that the commission has been refused import licences by the Australian Government to purchase 23 power graders from the United States of America, I ask the Minister to state the total apportionment from the dollar loan for the importation of earth-moving equipment. Of the sum reserved for such purpose, what was the allocation to each State? What was the allocation for Australian Government activities, State governmental and semi-governmental authorities, and private enterprise in each State ?

Minister for Works and Housing · LP

– The statement to which the honorable member has referred as having been attributed to me to the effect that the 100,000,000-dollar loan would be fully absorbed within the next few days was not what 1 said. I made a statement on this matter about the middle of February and I intimated that the loan would be absorbed within the relatively near future. I may have said within the next few weeks, or the next few months, but I did not .say “ in the next few days “. The question of road graders has been canvassed in the press in Brisbane and statements on that subject have been answered specifically by the Minister for Trade a.nd Customs, who set out the position quite clearly and showed that Queensland had not been under any disability in respect of its proportion of the dollar loan. Road graders was, I think, the only item that had not been accepted under the dollar loan by reason of the fact that similar equipment wa3 available within a reasonable delivery period from soft currency countries. The honorable member has asked a number of questions which call for precise answers in figures. If he will place them on the notice-paper I shall see that he is supplied with precise replies.

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– I know that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture is aware of the serious position that exists with respect to the supply of jute goods and that the present non-availability of sacks is seriously retarding primary production in Western Australia. Is he in a position to inform the House of the actual position with respect to the supply of jute and whether the trade agreement that was recently reported to have been concluded between India and Pakistan offers any prospects of improvement in the supply of jute goods to Australia?


– The Government is aware of the importance of jute to this country, particularly to meet the needs of primary industry. Every one is familiar with the problem that has resulted from the shortage of jute goods which has its origin, I believe, in differences which have existed for some considerable time between India and Pakistan, the latter country being the principal producer of raw jute and India being the principal fabricator. During the last year this caused us great concern and I arranged for the Jute Controller to go to India three times during that period. I was in constant communication with the Government of India and benefited very greatly by the good offices of the High Commissioner for India in Australia. The position threatened to become even more acute this year, but within the last few days we have learned that an agreement has been reached between India and Pakistan and we hope that that agreement will resolve the whole problem for Australia. I am not yet in possession of its details and cannot indicate its exact implications for Australia. I expect “to ascertain those details very soon. I hope that our position will be alleviated and our problem entirely solved. I shall make a statement on the matter as soon as I am in a position to do so.

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– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet been advised of the result of the official investigation that was made into the cost of production in the poultry industry? Is he yet able to say what steps it is proposed to take to enable the industry to maintain operations on an economic basis ?


– I am in possession of a report of the investigation of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics regarding the cost of production in the poultry industry. Any steps which may require to be taken on the basis of that report will depend upon the nature of the contract that we conclude with the United Kingdom Government for the export of eggs to the United Kingdom. I think that we are in the final stages of negotiating that contract at the present time. In accordance with the policy of the Government, the contract is being negotiated in London by representatives of the poultry industry itself. The chairman and two producer members of the Australian Egg Board are in London aiding the Deputy High Commissioner in the negotiations. Last week I had a conference with members of the Australian Egg Board and with members of the Australian Egg Council, the latter being the body which represents the State Egg Marketing Boards, which are responsible for the sale of eggs for local consumption. I have pointed out to these two bodies that it is upon the average result of the sale of eggs for local consumption and for export that the health of the poultry industry depends. The discussions are not yet complete, but I have high hopes that as an outcome of them a basis of real stability for the poultry industry for next year will be established.

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– Will the Minister for Health consider making use of the Moree baths for the treatment of orthopaedic cases resulting from poliomyelitis ? By way of explanation I point out that those baths are claimed to have very good medical qualities, and also that at Moree there is a large building which was intended to be a wool store but which has not been so used, which could very easily be converted into very suitable, hospital accommodation for orthopaedic patients.


– The honorable gentleman has already made to me his very interesting suggestion regarding this matter. The wool shed to which he has referred is a huge building which has been very well constructed and covers nearly an acre of ground. It is within abo.ut half a mile of the Moree baths. After the honorable gentleman had made his suggestion I discussed the matter with the chairman of the Hospitals Commission of New South Wales and with other eminent medical men to see whether it was possible and practicable to implement it. They agreed about the value in orthopaedic treatment of hot water and massage, especially massage in hot water, but they pointed out the difficulty of securing senior orthopaedic surgeons to work at that distance from the capital cities. However, some senior medical men thought that it might be possible for junior orthopaedic surgeons to be attracted there. The whole subject is being pursued. One -of the greatest problems in connexion with the outbreak of poliomyelitis is the treatment of chronic cases which remain crippled for many years. I consider that the honorable gentleman’s suggestion is a very valuable one which should be followed up.


– I direct to the Minister for Health a question that is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Gwydir. Does the Minister propose to table the report of the expert committee on the poliomyelitis epidemic which, I understand, was made to him some months ago? If so, when will he make the report? If not, why not? In view of the fact that some medical men consider that there is a connexion between poliomyelitis and encephalitis,’ will the committee continue its investigations and, if necessary, will the Minister add to the personnel of the committee by the inclusion of other experts, both local and overseas?


– The report of the Commonwealth Health and Medical Research committee was received, and because it made certain recommendations for State action it was sent to the State Premiers. The report has been considered by the Premiers, but the action that they were willing to take seemed to this Government to be insufficient. Next week I am meeting Sir Macfarlane Burnet, Professor Dew, of Sydney University, and Professor Ward, to discuss the manner in which field research should be undertaken along the lines suggested by the honorable member.


– Is the Minister for National Development aware that because of the shortage of suitable steel the Adelaide Children’s Hospital is unable to get frames for its patients who are the ‘ victims of poliomyelitis ? Does the right honorable gentleman know that steel is available for the construction of such frames if the parents of the stricken children have sufficient money to pay up to £30 cash to private engineering firms? Will he make inquiries into that matter and take suitable action to ensure that the class of steel used in the construction of those frames will be given No. 1 priority, and that it is also made available to meet the immediate requirements of all hospitals in a position similar to that of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital ?


– I shall have the matter investigated, and supply the honorable gentleman with an answer.

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– Oan the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether the Government has decided to appoint an Ambassador to Eire? Can he say why the vote for that office has been reduced by an amount of £3,000 compared with the vote for the financial year 1949-50, in view of the fact that the office has been raised from the status of High Commissioner to that of Ambassador ?

Minister for External Affairs · WARRINGAH, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– fi think that I gave a reply by letter to the honorable member for East Sydney to the same question. The answer is that the Government has been concerned with finding suitable appointees to different positions overseas and Eire will receive consideration in common with other posts which have to be filled.

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– Has the attention of the Treasurer been directed to a statement by the President of the Sydney Retail Traders Association to the effect that the Australian public has not yet felt the full impact of the increased price of wool and that Australian blankets which cost £3 3s. in 1942 will cost £16 16s. by September next, and to the further statement that those increases can be halted only by the revaluation of the £1 ? Will the Treasurer inform the House whether the Government has any policy on revaluation? If it has a policy on that matter, will he say what it is?


– All matters of policy will be defined and intimated at the right time, and in the right circumstances.

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Mr. -ANDREWS.- My question, which is directed to the Minister for the Army, refers to a subject raised by the Returned

Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia and ex-prisoners of war organizations relative to the payment of compensation to ex-prisoners of war. Because of an organized agitation on behalf of ex-prisoners of war, I ask the Minister the following questions: - (1) Is the Government considering the amount of compensation which should be paid to ex-prisoners of war in conjunction with the terms of any contemplated peace treaty? (2) Is the Government prepared to refer the subject of compensation of ex-prisoners of war back to the committee over which Mr. Justice Owen presided to determine whether compensation is due from the enemy, and, if it is, to report on the amount of compensation that can be regarded as legitimate, and the circumstances which should have prevailed in the consideration of claims for the payment of compensation to ex-prisoners of war?


– It is hardly appropriate to give, by way of an answer to a question, a full answer to the matter that the honorable member for Darebin has raised. The subject-matter of his question was dealt with in the course of discussions which I had here with Mr. John Foster Dulles on the terms of the Japanese peace treaty. I shall make a statement to the House on that subject at a later stage, and, in doing so, I hope to cover the matters that the honorable gentleman has referred to.

page 61


REPORTS on Items.

Minister for Defence · WAKEFIELD, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -

Dredging and excavating machinery.

Smoking pipes.

Silvered crystal reflectors.



The reports on the first three items are available for immediate circulation to honorable members, and the reports on the other two matters will be made available as soon as possible. The Government has adopted the recommendations of the Tariff Board, which do not involve any changes in the rates of duty.

page 62


Motion (by Mr. Holt) - by leave - agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904-1050, and for other purposes.

Bill presented, and read a first time.


(Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration · Higgins · LP

by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and I consider that, in order to clarify the position for honorable members, I should make some preliminary explanation that touches on other matters which will come before the Parliament shortly, but which are linked with the legislation now before the House. I follow that course so that honorable members may have in their minds the general scheme that the Government is presenting to them for their consideration. The Government will submit two bills to the Parliament as matters of urgency. It believes that they are essential if the industrial crisis with which the country is now confronted is to be met effectively. Both bills are, in our view, essential elements in the arbitration machinery and essential factors in the authority available to our tribunals for the determination of the industrial matters that come before them. We have found in recent weeks, or, at > least, we have confirmed something which we have known for a considerable time, that when the Parliament of the Commonwealth and the Government deal with industrial matters through their tribunals, they are extraordinarily deficient in power and authority, having regard to the importance to the country of the general issues at stake. Whatever concern we may have felt in previous days on that score has been confirmed and accentuated by the developments of the last few weeks. By two legal decisions, one of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and the other of the High Court, it has been demonstrated that not only are our powers deficient, but that they are even less effective than we had believed.

Mr Rosevear:

– Then there are poor lawyers on the Government side.


– Apparently there are poor lawyers among the Opposition also, because these circumstances developed during the term of office of a government composed of honorable members opposite, as I shall show if the House provides me with an opportunity. So that the House may have before it the scheme of the legislation now proposed to be presented, I desire to explain certain matters. Up to mid-day to-day the Government proposed to bring before the Parliament two bills. The first was intended to be a bill to amend the Coal Industry Act 1946. The prime purpose of that measure was to ensure and strengthen the injunction power available to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to deal with issues which come before the Coal Industry Tribunal. The amendment to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1949, which is now before the House, would have taken that process a stage further by assuring to the court that its injunction power carried authority, and would have enabled it to deal by contempt process, in extreme cases and where the court thought it necessary, with breaches of injunctions which it had ordered. Unfortunately it has not been found practicable, to bring before the Parliament a bill to amend the Coal Industry Act, because that act, which was passed by our predecessors in office, contains in its preamble a passage which makes it necessary for a government which proposes to amend the legislation to get the concurrence of the other government. The preamble reads, inter alia, as follows : -

And whereas each of the two Governments has undertaken not to take action, without the prior concurrence of the other, to repeal or amend any of the legislation covered by the agreement :

The fact is that the two governments concerned when the legislation was passed, the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government, agreed in those terms, and we have accepted the obliga- , ti ons therein placed upon the Australian Government. The Government felt that this legislation was a matter of great urgency and it sought to obtain the concurrence of the Government of New South Wales. On Friday of last week the Solicitor-General and the Secretary of the

Prime Minister’s Department had a dismission with Mr. Wurth, one of the senior advisors of the Premier of Hew South Wales. Mr. Wurth visited Canberra in his advisory capacity at the time of ;he conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers last week. Those officers placed before Mr. Wurth a draft of the ‘bill that we proposed to bring before the Parliament, and also a draft of the official letter which was to be sent tu Mr. McGirr, the Premier of New South Wales, asking for his Government’s concurrence in our proposed amendment of the Coal Industry Act pursuant to the terms of that act. On Saturday the official letter was signed by the Prime Minister and posted to Mr. McGirr. Presumably, it was in his hands officially on Monday. When yesterday the Government had received no word from Mr. McGirr, some discussion took place between the .Solicitor-General and the Crown Solicitor of New South Wales, during which the latter undertook to bring to the notice of the- Premier of New South Wales our request for his concurrence, and to stress the urgency of the matter.

To-day we received a telegram from Mr. McGirr saying that he would take the first opportunity of bringing our request before the New South Wales Cabinet. The Prime Minister replied to that by telegram asking whether we could have the required decision not later than 3.30 p.m. to-day. The Prime Minister followed that telegram with a telephone call to Mr. McGirr. When he was contacted by the Prime Minister shortly after lunch to-day. Mr. McGirr said that the matter had’ not then been before his Cabinet, but that the Cabinet was holding a special session this afternoon to deal with a rationing problem. The Prime Minister asked him whether he would see to it that the New South Wales Cabinet considered this matter at its meeting this afternoon. I hope that Mr. McGirr is seised of the urgency for this legislation, and I am making this explanation for the general information of the House. If the argument advanced to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), when acting in another capacity, is sustained, then -most of the orders, if not all of them, that have been made since 1947 by Mr. Gallagher, have no validity whatever and have no binding effect on the miners’ federation or the employers in the coal-mining industry.

Dr Evatt:

– The Minister is not trying to make the orders of the Coal Industry Tribunal valid by this bill.


– I shall indicate what the Government is trying to do later. I am now referring to the Coal Industry Act, and pointing out that if the argument which was advanced by the right honorable gentleman is correct, and I say that it is not without some force, then even if the coal miners did decide to return to Mr. Gallagher for a review of the award in respect of which the stoppages are taking place, Mr. Gallagher would not be able to determine the matter. Surely, therefore, this is a matter of the greatest urgency for this Parliament and for the Government of New South Wales. If these doubts do exist about the awards of the Coal Industry Tribunal, they should be resolved at the earliest possible moment.

Dr Evatt:

– The Government does not want to resolve those doubts.


– The Government certainly does, and provision is made therefore in the draft legislation submitted to Mr. McGirr for his concurrence.

Mr Ward:

– I rise to a point of order. The Minister has stated that his remarks have no relation to the bill which has been presented to the House, but have some relation to other legislation which is contemplated and which he hopes to introduce in the near future. I ask for a ruling on whether the Minister is in order in continuing his speech in the way that he has adopted.


– The Minister has stated that he is acquainting the House with the background of the legislation so that honorable members may understand the matter under discussion. I rule that he is in order.


– I do not want to develop this matter. I wish merely to place the House in a position to understand the significance of the legislation now being presented. I now turn to the bill before the House, the principal purpose of which, and I say this particularly in view of the interjection of the right honorable member for Barton, is to strengthen the injunction power available to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.

Mr Ward:

– The bill is designed to put workers into gaol.


– I do not deny that if, after the passage of this amending bill, an application were made to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for the issue of an order by way of injunction and the court made that order, and if there were defiance of that order and the conditions resulting from the defiance, having regard to their impact upon the community in terms of unemployment, loss, distress and hardship, were such that the judges of the court, in their discretion, felt that those who had defied the order should be dealt with by way of contempt proceedings and fined or imprisoned, this measure would give the court power to do that. I am not burking that issue. Let there be no misapprehension on this matter. That was the intention of the Australian Labour party, and that was the effect, as honorable gentlemen opposite understood it, of legislation that it introduced when it was in power in this Parliament recently.

Dr Evatt:

– Not at all.


– I shall explain to the right honorable member for Barton that in 1947, quite deliberately, he brought forward an amendment of the arbitration legislation that was designed to have that specific result. It is true that he did not go into a song and dance about it, because, doubtless, he was concerned lest some of his supporters in the trade union movement should take offence if they knew of the significance of the action that he was taking then, but at that time he purported to place the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in a position to exercise an injunction power and, having exercised it, if necessary to punish persons for breaches of injunctions in the manner that I have indicated.

The judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court are men who are themselves remote from the storm. Their responsibility is, not only to determine issues as between employers and employees but also to ensure that the public interests shall be preserved when issues come before them. What is there that is repugnant to the views of honorable gentlemen opposite in the suggestion that those judges should be given power to ensure that, once their decisions have been announced, those decisions shall be enforced? Are the arbitration tribunals that we have established to preserve industrial peace in this country to be empty shams? Are we back in the days of the law of the jungle, when force prevailed? Is the might of a great industrial union or of a great employers’ organization to prevail against the interests of the community, notwithstanding what this Parliament or the Commonwealth Arbitration Court may think? Surely in these days, when the economy of this ‘country is being afflicted by a creeping paralysis, that conception is too absurd for expression in this Parliament. The public has a right to be protected against industrial aggression, whether it comes from employers or from organizations of. employees, and to look to this Parliament and the government of the day for that protection.

That. is what the Government is, at any rate to some degree, seeking to do by this very limited measure. It is not attempting to take to itself in an arbitrary manner power to do these things. It is seeking to give to the supreme arbitration tribunal of this country power to ensure that its awards and orders, and those of conciliation commissioners, shall be obeyed. The intention of the Government is that if the supreme arbitration tribunal itself issues an order that tribunal shall be empowered to impose sanctions for breaches of the order.

What sanctions are available to the Australian community, through its Government and its arbitration tribunals, to deal with industrial anarchy in this country? There are, first, the sanctions under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which provides a maximum penalty of a fine of £20.

Dr Evatt:

– That is in the case of an individual.


– The maximum penalty for an organization is a fine of £100.

Dr Evatt:

– An organization or a company.


– That is so. In these days, when we are twitted from time to time about how little value there is in the £1, what kind of deterrent is it to an official of a key industrial union to know that, if he disrupts the economy of this country by denying essential raw materials to industry or by holding up interstate transport, the greatest penalty that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court can inflict upon him is a fine of £20? What deterrent is it ‘to a great trade union with tens of thousands of pounds of members’ clues coming to it annually to know that the maximum penalty that the court can impose upon it is a fine of £100 ? I do not think that any one would argue seriously that penalties of that kind are any more effective than a peashooter would be against a tank or some other armoured vehicle.

What other sanctions are available to the community ? The only sanctions that the Commonwealth could apply in respect of most industries are the provisions of sections 30j and 30k of the Crimes Act, which honorable members opposite declare are obnoxious to them. Section 30k provides that, under certain circumstances, it shall be an offence to boycott, and section 30j makes it an offence, after the issue of a proclamation by the Governor-General, to incite or continue a strike if the strike causes interference with the transport of passengers and goods interstate and overseas. Most honorable members are familiar with the provisions of that section. Obviously, that is not the kind of sanction to which a government desires to turn in the industrial disputes that occur from time to time. Section 30j is obnoxious not only to honorable gentlemen opposite but also, except in extreme cases where the offence is such that the full power of the law should be invoked, to honorable members on this side of the chamber. That the section has been so regarded by governments of all parties over the years is shown by the fact that it’ has been invoked only twice since it was enacted in, I think, 1928 or 1929.

Dr Evatt:

– Those occasions were very recent.


– If the implication of the interjection of the right honorable member for Barton is that on those two occa- sions the section was invoked by this Government, I admit that frankly. Obviously, in the past the Crimes Act has not been regarded by any government as being the normal weapon with which to deal with industrial disputes.

I point out to the House also that the Crimes Act has a very limited scope as a means of defence of the community against industrial lawlessness. According to the best legal advice, it is very doubtful whether it could be made to apply to coal-miners engaged in the production of coal. Undoubtedly it applies to seamen, whose actions might interfere with the transport of goods and passengers, and also to workers on the waterfront whose actions would have a similar effect. Quite apart from the feeling of most people that proceedings under the Crimes Act are an obnoxious .manner of dealing with the general run of industrial disputes, the act is very limited indeed in its operation.

Turning to the coal industry, which has been very much in our minds recently, it may be argued that section 54 of the Coal Industry Act provides for a special penalty. The right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) has himself suggested, in another capacity, that there are very real doubts about that.

Dr Evatt:

– It was never intended to apply.


– Whatever doubts there may be so far as its legal efficacy is concerned there are obvious disadvantages about it as a means of process. I think that the right honorable gentleman will agree that it is quite conceivable that proceedings started under section 54 by way of prosecution which would bring the person so charged before a police magistrate might well go before four tribunals before a final determination was given. It would be the wish of all concerned - the Government and the parties - that justice should be speedy and that justice should be effective and there can be no speedy and effective justice if a prosecution of that character is to go through a series of tribunals and perhaps take months before it can be brought to finality.

Dr Evatt:

– Is it the view of the Government that section 54 ‘applies to breaches of industrial awards?


– That is the view of the Governments advisors.

Dr Evatt:

– I am not speaking of the legal view. It was never the intention of Parliament to make the six months’ imprisonment apply only to the coalmining industry.


– The right honorable gentleman has introduced his own legislation and can make his own interpretation of it. The legal advice available to the Government suggests that the section would be effective in relation to breaches of orders by the Coal Industry Tribunal. But whatever may be the legal consequences there are the very real practical disadvantages associated with any procedure under that section and up to the present the Government has not seen fit to take action under it. The Government considered it preferable that if sanctions were to be imposed for breaches of industrial law the best people to determine what would be a just penalty, if a penalty was to be imposed in matters of this kind, would be the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court because of their special training, background and knowledge of the circumstances. Consequently, by means of the amendment now before the House the Government proposes to place in the hands of the judges of that court a real and effective power under the injunction process.

The first provision in the bill deals with section 29 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 29 deals with the powers of the court and quite clearly the previous Government, no less than this Government, intended that the court should have an injunction power. I do not think that the right honorable member for Barton will challenge that statement because, as the act stood, sub-section (c) of section 29 provided that the court should have power - to enjoin any organization or persons from committing or continuing any contravention of this act.

That sub-section was in the act during the term of office of the right honorable member for Barton as Attorney-General. It was intended that the court should have an injunction power.

Dr Evatt:

– The provision has been in the act since 1903, has it not ?


– It may well have been. I am not in a position to say, but it has been there for a very long time. Section 29 gives the court various powers which are usually possessed by judicial tribunals including the power to impose penalties, to order compliance with the award, to grant injunctions, and to give interpretations. Last year, in the Metal Trade cases and the Gas Employees case a majority of the Arbitration Court granted injunctions restraining the unions concerned from continuing overtime bans in contravention of the relevant awards. By prohibition proceedings in the High Court, the unions challenged the power of the Arbitration Court to issue these injunctions. Up to the time when the High Court delivered its judgment the majority view of the Arbitration Court had been that it had a power to issue these injunctions and that if the injunction was defied it could punish those who defied the injunction in the manner to which I have referred. Proceedings were taken and that view was challenged in the High Court. On Monday last the High Court, by a majority of three judges to two, upheld this challenge. The majority of the court held that, as a matter of interpretation, the act draws a distinction between contraventions of the act itself and contraventions of the court’s orders and awards. The precise language of the act referred to enjoining any organization or person from committing or continuing any contravention of this act. The words “ contravention of this act “ had previously been interpreted by a majority of the Arbitration Court judges as covering contravention of orders and awards made under the act. It was only by a majority judgment of three judges to two in the High Court that that view was upset. In other words, of eight judges who have expressed themselves in recent times on the interpretation of that provision, four have held that it applied to orders and awards made under the act and four have held that it applied only to contraventions of the act. .So the judiciary is equally divided although the decision of the superior court obtains. Consequently, by this particular amendment, the Government has sought to make it clear that in the view of this Parliament the Arbitration Court judges should have an injunction power to deal, not merely with contraventions of the act, but also with contraventions of orders and awards made b’y them under the powers conferred’ on them by the act.

Dr Evatt:

– Section 29 (b) gives that power already, and the High Court upheld it.


– The Government wants to repeat that provision in new paragraph («) in order to make the position completely clear. Otherwise, the right honorable gentleman, who has proved so industrious and successful in at least one case which has come to my notice might find, on behalf of his clients, some means of defeating the Parliament’s intention in this regard also. The Government considers that the proposed amendment will make the position completely clear and, for that reason, seeks to have it included in the law. In the Government’s view, a power to enjoin breaches or non-observances of awards can, in proper cases, be a most effective means of securing obedience to awards and so of promoting the efficacy of the arbitration system. Like the majority of the Arbitration Court itself, the Government had regarded the act as already permitting this, a breach of an award being, so it thought, in itself, a contravention of the act and so within the terms of the injunction power. The High Court having held that the present wording of the paragraph is ineffective to secure this result the Government proposes, by clause 3 of the bill, to amend the section accordingly and thus make the Parliament’s intention crystal clear.

The hill also makes clear by another p vo vision that, in addition to the parties to the award, the AttorneyGeneral may apply, in the public interest, for an order of the court under the section. I believe that most members of the Parliament, at any rate, will agree that, having regard to the issues at stake and the untold damage to the community and the general economy that industrial lawlessness can effect, it is most desirable that the AttorneyGeneral should have the right, in appropriate cases, to apply to the court for such an order. It will be within the discretion and the judgment of the members of the bench, of course, to decide whether any such application shall be granted. The

Government considers that the AttorneyGeneral should be placed in a position to exercise that power.

The other main provision of the bill, in clause 4, is intended to clarify and establish the powers of the Arbitration Court to punish contempt of another type - contempt of its own power and authority. In the opinion of the Government, this provision is completely in line with what the Parliament set out to accomplish in 1947 when it altered the previous law on this subject. I said earlier that I would seek to demonstrate to the House that the right honorable member for Barton, when he was in office, tried to give this authority to the Arbitration Court by making it a superior court of record. At common law, superior courts of record have inherent power to punish contempts of their power and authority. Before the arbitration law was amended in 1947, the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration was not designated as a superior court of record. However, the Conciliation and Arbitration Act contained a special section which gave to the court the power of a superior court of record to punish by attachment and committal any person whom it found to have been guilty of contempts of the court. It was held by the High Court, in the well known case of John Fairfax and Sons Proprietary Limited v. Morrison, reported in the Argus Law Reports of 1945, at page 297, that the Arbitration Court did not have any power to punish for contempts other than those specified in that section. Accordingly, it could punish a particular person by attachment and committal, but not by fine. It was not so placed as to be able to punish a corporation.

The right honorable member for Barton, as the Attorney-General of the day in 1947, made the court, by means of the amendments that he sponsored, a superior court of record for the first time. The former specific, and limiting, provisions Were omitted. Clearly, the underlying idea in the mind of the right honorable gentleman then was that the court should have all the inherent powers to punish for contempt that flowed at common law from its declared status as a superior court of record. The Arbitration Court has exercised those powers to punish for contempt on a number of occasions since 1947. In 1949, for example, under the National Emergency (Coal Strike) Act, the previous Government invoked those powers in proceedings against certain organizations and persons for breaches of orders made by the court under that act. I remind the House that, if there be anything obnoxious in this process - and this Government regards it not as a normal industrial process but as a process to be exercised only under the gravest provocation - the Labour Government saw to it that this contempt power was exercised in 1949 in the way that I have indicated. Admittedly that action was taken in a circumstance of grave crisis, which called for the strongest action on the part of governments and the courts. In the metal trades cases last year, the Arbitration Court also relied upon its inherent powers in imposing on an organization a fine of £100 for disobedience of an injunction issued under section 29 of the act. The organization later challenged the power of the court to do so, and a majority of the High Court upheld the challenge on Monday last in the judgment that I have mentioned.

The Government realizes that that judgment has only a limited application. It does not appear to impugn in any way the court’s power, as the act stands, to punish the most ordinary classes of what are known as criminal contempts - contempts that are committed in the face of the court or the publication of matters calculated to interfere with the due administration of justice by the tribunal. However, the view of the majority of the High Court was that, because the Conciliation and Arbitration Act did not specify procedures for punishing disobedience of the court’s orders or awards, it ought to be construed as impliedly prohibiting the use by the court of its inherent powers to punish contempts in that field. It is not for me to question the judgment of the court, and the Government, of course, accepts that view. However, if it be seriously submitted that the specific procedure set out in the act destroys any inherent powers which otherwise might have existed in the hands of the judges, the only power that the judges have under the act as it stands is the limited power to punish by a fine of £20 in the case of an individual or a fine of £100 in the case of an organization.

Prom the High Court judgment, it is clear that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as it stands is not expressed in a manner capable of achieving the results which this Government believes were contemplated by the Labour Government in 1947 when the act was amended to its present form. Clause 4 of the bill, therefore, provides that the Arbitration Court shall be clearly vested with all the inherent powers of a superior court of record notwithstanding the existence of other means of enforcement of its orders and awards.

Dr Evatt:

– Is that designed to get rid of the limitation?


– Yes. The existence of other remedies, and their efficacy, will, no doubt, be taken into consideration by the court in deciding whether or not to exercise its powers to punish for contempt in cases which do not call for any greater penalty than is stipulated under those powers. However, the provision to which I have referred will vest it with the authority to impose a more serious penalty if it considers that such a penalty is required.

Mr Ward:

– And there will be no limit to the penalty that the court may impose?


– Only the limit imposed by the court’s own sense of fairness and fitness. I do not think that it can be argued with justice that our courts have been unsympathetic to the views of those who represent organizations which come before it in industrial matters. Looking back down the long history of our arbitration tribunals, nobody can truthfully say that they have been harsh in the application of the contempt powers that they have exercised in the past.


– There are two points of view on that subject.


– I am stating the point of view of the Government and I say to the honorable gentleman that, if we had to put the question to. the community, I do not think that the community would say that those who have brought such hardship, loss and distress upon it have been dealt with, unduly harshly by our arbitration tribunals in the past. If the honorable gentleman wants to contest that issue and carry it to its logical conclusion, the Government will not hesitate to test public opinion on the matter either at the present time or at any future time.

So that no doubt may be thrown upon the position in the past, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court is declared in clause 4 to have had at all times since the commencement of the 1947 act the same power to punish contempts of its power and authority as is possessed by the High Court. Considering that the Arbitration Court is the highest of Australia’s arbitration tribunals, we should not give to it any less authority to protect itself or its orders than we are prepared to confer upon the High Court of Australia, which deals with matters in the civilian domain in other respects.

Dr Evatt:

– Or to conciliation commissioners?


– No. We are not talking about conferring such power on conciliation commissioners. The Government proposes by means of this bill to give to the Arbitration Court power and authority commensurate with the full status of a superior court of record, which the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues conferred upon it when the Labour Government was in power; The Government contends that, having that status, the court is entitled to have the same power with which to give authority to its awards and to deal with contempt processes as is possessed by other superior courts of record, whether they he the High Court of Australia or such other courts as have the status of superior courts of record. I deplore the tone of some of the interjections that have been made in the course of my remarks. I set out to deal with the matter as calmly as I could and to put .the issues as clearly as I could before the Parliament. It is not easy for those honorable members who have not a legal background, perhaps, to follow the precise significance of amendments of this kind. Therefore, I deliberately avoided dealing in detail with the grave industrial issues that have influenced the Government to bring this legislation before the Parliament. I did not desire either to obscure the issue or to cloud the judgment of any honorable member by importing into the discussion consideration of the rights or wrongs, or the merits or demerits, of the industrial matters which are now under public consideration. They speak for themselves.

Mr Ward:

– The Minister has prejudged them.


No ; I have not expressed any views upon the merits of those matters, and I do not propose to do so. The only view that I express on behalf of the Government is that we stand for the system of arbitration ; and we believe that at least a majority of honorable members opposite, judging by what they have said in this House, also believe in the system of arbitration. Those honorable members will have an opportunity in dealing with this legislation to show by the manner in which they co-operate with the Government during the next few months, as we are confronted from time to time with these developments, whether they are prepared to back the arbitration system or whether they are going to condone the actions of those who defy the system and embark upon a course of industrial lawlessness which can bring only paralysis and decay to the economy and the community life of the country. That is the opportunity that is here presented to honorable members. I had hoped that a measure of this kind would have been considered calmly by the Parliament and that there would have been shown here a genuine spirit of co-operation designed to make the arbitration system effective and to ensure that the authority of the Government and of the Parliament shall be behind the orders and awards that the court and arbitration tribunals make as the instruments of the Parliament and of the people. [Extension of time granted.] I hope that this measure will be considered in the spirit that I have indicated. All honorable members have a responsibility to make the arbitration system effective.


– And just.


– I agree ; and the Government has tried to make workable the system as it was radically amended by honorable members opposite when they were in office. We have not sought to alter in substance the system that they themselves set up. So far as this legislation is concerned, all that we have sought to do is to put the court back on the footing that everybody believed that it was on or, as I can say with confidence, most people believed it was on before the High Court spoke on Monday of this week. It had been the view of earlier governments that the power that we now seek to confer upon the court resided in it. Whether or not honorable members approve of the court using this power to deal with industrial issues is another matter ; but I do not admit that the legal view of the Opposition was that the court did not have this power. If the right honorable member for Barton has at all times held that view I shall be interested to hear him state it. What we have set out to do is to give to the Parliament the opportunity to place the court back on the footing that we had assumed it was on prior to the recent decision of the High Court. I should assume that that would be the will of the Parliament as a whole. Within the next few months we shall be faced as a people and as a parliament with some of the gravest issues that any community in peace-time could expect to confront it. This industrial problem, unless it is successfully coped with by the Parliament, will wreck the economy of the country and bring untold disaster upon us. In those circumstances none of us can afford to play at party politics on these issues. All of us have a responsibility to ensure that the Parliament shall take the most effective action in the interests of the people and so safeguard their welfare to the greatest degree of which the Parliament is capable. .

In conclusion, I bring to the notice of the Parliament as a whole and particularly to that of honorable members opposite the view that is taken of some of these developments by the most authoritative body in the trade union movement in Australia. I refer to the Australian Council of Trades Unions. On the 13th February last the interstate executive of the Australian Council of Trades Unions passed a resolution in which it warned the trade unionists against the - danger of ‘being involved in the Communist conspiracy launched at the Second World Peace Conference and endorsed by the World Federation of Trade Unions.

I do not need to remind the House that the World Federation of Trade Unions is an acknowledged instrument of Communist policy and that the only four unions in Australia that are members of that federation - the waterside workers, miners, ironworkers and seamen’s organizations - are under acknowledged Communist leadership at the present time. The Australian Council of Trades Unions warned the trade unionists against the danger of being involved in the Communist conspiracy. Its resolution continued -

The Australian Council of Trades Unions believes that the Communist party in Australia is utilizing the industrial situation in Australia to further the Communist conspiracy, and (warns Communist-controlled unions that the Australian Council of Trades Unions will not become involved in disputes or support strikes which, while having an industrial basis, are used, continued, or extended as a means of furthering the Communist Party policy of disruption of the Australian economy at the behest of the Cominform and the World Federation of Trade Unions.

Mr Ward:

– There is more in the resolution than that.


– That is the substance of it. I shall not abuse the extension of time that has been granted to me by reading the whole of the resolution. Honorable members opposite may do so if they so wish. I have not the complete text of the resolution before me.


– I want the exact text quoted.


– The honorable member will be at liberty to quote it later. But the remainder of the text has no particular relevance to what I have been putting to the Parliament. I am not denying the fact that the Australian Council of Trades Unions in the course of its resolution referred to what it described as legitimate industrial grievances. If there are such grievances, and I do not deny that they develop from time to time, it is clear from the stated policies of parties in this House that we all desire that they shall be dealt with by the appropriate arbitration tribunals. The sole desire of the Government since the recent trouble developed has been to get these issues where they belong, that is before the industrial tribunals, and. to.have the parties willing to accept the decisions of those bodies when those decisions have been given after full and proper consideration. But there is a significance in the terms of that part of the resolution of the Australian Council of Trades Unions that 1 have just read which should ring a responsive note in the heart of every trade unionist. He should ask himself whether he is being involved in a genuine industrial dispute and, even if he comes to that conclusion, he should ask himself why his leaders are not prepared to accept the decision of the appropriate tribunal. He should ask himself, as the Australian Council of Trades Unions suggests, whether it is true that whilst he is told that a particular grievance is a genuine industrial grievance he is being used as a tool by the Communists in order to carry out the Communist programme in this country. It is my belief that to-day tens of thousands and, indeed, hundreds of thousands of loyal trade unionists have come to the conclusion that they have been used in that way and are being used in that way and that they only desire an opportunity to express their determination that they shall not be used in that way any longer. Of course, the overwhelming majority of trade unionists take that view. They have no wish to cause the unemployment, loss and rising living costs which these hold-ups in essential industries impose upon their fellow workers and fellow citizens. When it is shown, as the Australian Council of Trades Unions has shown, that occasionally they will be used not to remedy a genuine industrial grievance but simply in the interests of international communism to destroy in time the economy and welfare of this country, it behoves the Parliament to take whatever measures it can take to strengthen the hands of those who are resisting the Communists and to help the court and tribunals to ensure that industrial justice shall be done. Thus, the Parliament will provide a defence against the growth of industrial anarchy and lawlessness if we believe that industrial lawlessness is the direct product of Communist activity and of the Communist conspiracy within this country.

Dr Evatt:

– In view of the urgency of the measure to which the Minister has referred I should like to know whether h.6 can make available to honorable members as soon as possible copies of the High Court’s judgments. Obviously, the debate cannot proceed satisfactorily if those judgments are not made available. I, myself, received copies of them only this afternoon. They are lengthy and complicated and they are involved in a consideration of this measure. That has been made clear from the Minister’s remarks. I should also, like the Minister to consider that point when the timetable for consideration of this important measure is being arranged.


– For the reasons that I have already mentioned this is an urgent measure and the Government expects to have it and its kindred measure through the Parliament by midday on Friday of this week.

Mr Ward:

– The Minister means through this House.


– Yes. I anticipated the threat implied in the honorable member’s interjection. It is the desire of the Government to have these measures through this House by Friday next at midday and to have them passed through the Parliament before the Parliament adjourns for the Easter recess.

Dr Evatt:

– The Government is placing this House on very short rations.


– These measures are short and I should be underrating the legal intelligence of the right honorable member if I thought that he did not completely understand them.

Dr Evatt:

– I do not think that honorable members on the Government side of the House understand them.


– I think that they do. I discussed the substance of this legislation with the Leader of the Opposition. As a matter of courtesy to him, and to give both him and his colleagues an opportunity to have more time to consider the matter, I gave him an advance copy of both bills this morning. That was an unusual course, but I followed it knowing that we intended to limit the period available for debate. I do not wish to imply that the right honorable gentleman concurs in any way with the intention to impose a. time limit.

Mr Ward:

– If the matter was so urgent why did the Government not call the Parliament together earlier?


-(Hon. Archie Cameron) . - Order ! The Minister should confine himself to answering the point raised by the right honorable member for Barton.


– Not only is the matter urgent but it has also developed urgently. The High Court gave its judgment only on Monday of this week and, therefore, we could not have acted much more rapidly than we have done, so far as the meeting of the Parliament is concerned. I do not think that the Parliament can consider that the time schedule to be proposed will be too limited for consideration of the one specific aspect of the industrial situation that will be before it. I have indicated what that aspect is, and I am quite certain that the right honorable member for Barton knows what it is. The procedure to be adopted is to adjourn the debate at this point. If we receive in time from the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. McGirr, the intimation that we expected to receive this afternoon, I believe that I shall be able to proceed with the secondreading speech on the other measure tomorrow morning.

Dr Evatt:

– What about distributing copies of the High Court’s judgment?


– I shall ask the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) whether copies of the judgment can be made available to honorable members.

Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned. sitting suspended from 5.S to 8 p.m.

page 72



Prime Minister · Kooyong · LP

by leave - In the first half of January, Mr. Attlee convened a meeting in London of the Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth. It was attended by the Prime Ministers of Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and Southern Rhodesia. It was not possible for the Prime Minister of South Africa to be present, but he was ably represented by his Minister for the Interior, Dr. Donges. In the course of my own journey to London, I paid a short visit to Mr.

Malcolm MacDonald at Singapore, and had three days at New Delhi and three days at Karachi, whilst on my return journey I took the opportunity to spend three days in Colombo. Those visits, though necessarily short, were of immense ‘ value to me. My purpose was to learn something about the problems of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, and those visits gave me a most useful opportunity to’ meet in a friendly and informal way the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan and the Prime Minister of Ceylon, Mr. Senanayake, together with some of their prominent Ministers and officials, and to learn a great deal from them. From my point of view those visits proved a most illuminating experience.

At a time when the opposing forces of acute nationalism on the one hand, and a real interest in international thought and activities on the other hand are both operating, I should like to say to the House that we cannot too carefully cultivate our personal contacts with those great new Asiatic powers whose history and culture are by no means identical with our own, but who are bound to have great significance in the world of the future and who deserve our sympathetic interest and study at least as much as we deserve theirs. When we have grown up in a world of a certain pattern and have accommodated ourselves to ideas of a certain kind, it is not easy to adjust ourselves to a new world or to new ideas. I shall not need to say to any honorable member that, whilst we may have something to give - and I hope and believe that we shall give generously to our friends in those countries - we also have much to learn from them if we are to understand to the full the great task that confronts humanity the world over of mutual help and mutual aid in a great common struggle for raising the standards of living and building up a free future for men and women.

In India and Pakistan in particular, I was naturally greatly concerned to get to know something about some of the points of difference which, unfortunately, are also points of friction. A good deal of my time was devoted, I think properly, to ascertaining the view of each government on the matter of Kashmir - a matter to which I shall return a little later. The Kashmir dispute deserves our helpful and sympathetic interest because its peaceful solution will, in my opinion, have much to do with future peace and with the security of our own country.

At the London conference, I, unfortunately, was not able to attend all the sessions because I became a victim to the influenza epidemic, as a result of which I had to take my part in the discussions in circumstances of uncommon difficulty, but I think that I may say that, on the substantial matters that were discussed, I was able to state the point of view which I believe to be the point of view of this country, and to take an appropriate part in the forming of ultimate judgments. Perhaps it is not generally understood that a conference of Prime Ministers is not the occasion for formal resolutions or the taking of majority decisions. The great value of such a conference is that it provides the opportunity for the freest expression of opinions, for a close study of other people’s points of view, and for the creation of an atmosphere of friendship and goodwill which is far more significant than any formal document.

The British Commonwealth has materially altered its structure in recent years. New nations have come to birth and to vigorous growth. Around the table at Downing-street - a table very familiar to more than one of my friends in this House - there sat not only the Prime Minister of the Mother Country of our race, but also Prime Ministers representing nations from North America, Asia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand, some of them sharing the same original common history and common traditions, and some of them having an entirely different origin and history. There sat at the same table Christian, Hindu and Moslem. One Prime Minister was the political head of a republic, another was the political head of an ancient monarchy, and yet another was the political head of a country in which the King legislates through his Governor-General and a Parliament. There is little cause for wonder that more than once at that historic table, with the picture over the fire place of Walpole, the first of our modern constitutional Prime Ministers, I was deeply moved, by the thought that a system of parliamentary self-government, which found its first expression in Westminster Hall, should have spread over so much of the world, and should have stimulated the activities of so many men and women devoted to freedom and to the supreme rights- of the individual.

Those who think of a meeting of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers as a meeting of some special or narrow bloc should take time to remember that there is no meeting of any group in the world that is quite so intimate, so significant, so informed and so representative as is a meeting of Prime Ministers who can speak for so many different race3 in so many parts of the world. I am. no stranger to representative meetings in London, but on this occasion, as perhaps never before, I was moved to feel that if any group of men could provide a bridge between East and West, between the New and the Old, we should be able to do so. In a declaration at the end of the conference - a declaration that I shall lay on the table for the information of honorable members - we set down unanimously our belief in certain matters that profoundly concern the world, and among other things this was said : That, pledged as we were to the support of the principles of the United Nations, and determined as we were to uphold it as an instrument of peace, we still felt, every one of us, that the British Commonwealth, far from being outmoded, is still a special and precious association of nations, and, as such, has a unique -common task, and common responsibility.

I can illustrate that in a simple way. Every one of the nations represented at Downing-street has its own influence in the world. It is bound to exercise that influence. It is bound to do its best to help in the solution of the world’s problems, and not to withdraw into a position of aloofness. But whatever influence any one of the nine nations there represented may have individually, there can be no doubt that, speaking with a common voice on some great issue, their influence as a whole is much greater than the mere mathematical sum of the various influences of the individual members. It fellows that the advantages which flow from close and periodical consultation are enormous. That there are risks in the new structure cannot be denied. “We must be careful not to give too much emphasis to our differences, or to the theoretical aspects of our independence. Let me explain what I mean by that statement. In an earlier day, in my own lifetime and, Mr. Speaker, in your own lifetime, the British Empire possessed a single organic character. As a single organism, it had immense strength. It is no longer a single organism. It is idle to close our eyes to the fact that, though the King is by common acceptation the head of the Commonwealth, and although His present Majesty, as our experience in London showed, enjoys the deep affection and regard of every Prime Minister within the Commonwealth, it is still true that, for example, India is a republic and that Australia is a community of people, all of whom are for all purposes the King’s subjects. Those new developments have taken place, and it is profitless to discuss them as if they have yet to occur. The old points of unity have become looser. The old common allegiance is qualified. I, for one, have no vain tears to waste upon this process, because, in common with all honorable members of this House, I believe that the problems of mankind are in the future and not in the past. But I do venture to say this: We must not, at our peril, allow this precious family association - an association so splendidly demonstrated in London - to cease to be a family association, and become no more than a loose association of nations which are in temporary alliance but which, spiritually, have no common roots in the ground. As members of the Commonwealth, we have obligations as well as rights. The continuance of the world influence and effectiveness of the British Commonwealth will still depend upon the readiness of every member to contribute to its welfare as a whole and to share with it in the great task of forwarding the welfare of mankind.

When, on my journey to London, I thought about the problems that we would discuss, it seemed almost impossible that we should arrive at common conclusions about such matters as the relations between the British Commonwealth and the United Nations, our attitude towards the Korean campaign and towards the intervention of China, and relations with the United States of America. Yet, as honorable members will see from our final declaration and from the reports already known of the activities of the conference, all those things were achieved. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) will at once agree, it is a good thing to come out of one of these conferences with the knowledge that you are on close and friendly terms with statesmen of eight other countries,, and that no enemy is 1 likely hastily to divide you on matters of crucial importance. It would be a dull recital to put to the House an edited edition of the proceedings of the conference - I say “ edited “ because many matters that touch and concern national security and international negotiation do not lend themselves to explicit public statements. But I would like to mention a few matters which engaged our particular attention. When I say this I want to make it clear that this statement does not purport to be a review of the entire international scene. On the contrary, it will confine itself to matters which fell within my own particular observation and activities. Other matters, some of which are of profound significance, will in due course be dealt with by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender).

Naturally we devoted a good deal of consideration to the position in Korea. My own approach, which I am confident would fairly represent the view of members of this House of whatever party, was that we must pursue certain objectives in relation to Korea. The first was that we should maintain resistance to aggression, that we should maintain our place as the United Nations in Korea, and that we should do so not for any mere purpose of conquest but in order that we might bring about a stable and united government in that country. It is commonly said that the objective in Korea is so to pacify the whole of Korea that democratic elections may be held. This has always seemed to me to be an undue simplication of the problem. I sometimes think we make a mistake when we assume that democratic processes which are bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh can be adopted in a month or a year or a decade by some other country. But that a united Korea should, upon a basis of decent liberty, be free to choose its own method of government and assemble its own national traditions and forces, I have no doubt. There is some reason to believe that propaganda in China has been directed to creating the idea that the Korean campaign was simply the prelude to an attack upon the territorial integrity of China itself. It is therefore necessary to say, though obviously it does not need to be said to my present audience, that the United Nations has no designs upon the integrity of China, and that Chinese forces engage in the campaign at the will of the Chinese Communist Government and certainly not by the design or intention of the democratic powers.

The second objective was - and it follows from the first - that we should limit the area of hostilities. We did not and do not seek a war with the Chinese people. We are engaged simply in the repelling of a particular aggression in a particular area. The third objective, immensely important from an international standpoint, was that in everything we did in respect of. Korea we should ensure the maintenance of a common front between the members of the United Nations and in particular, and I hope that I shall not be misunderstood when I say this, between the participating British Commonwealth countries and the United States of America. The fourth objective was that we should concert ways and means of bringing about some settlement in relation to Korea which, while it negatived and rejected aggression, would avert a major war. The very mention of negotiation is to some people synonymous with appeasement. Let lis think clearly and courageously on this matter. To buy peace, or the termination of our military obligations in Korea, by abandoning South Korea and condoning aggression, would be appeasement naked and unashamed. But out of a position of determined resistance in Korea to seek a peaceful settlement is not appeasement; it is merely giving effect to our determination that the area of conflict will not be widened by our wish or by our act.

It will at once be seen that at a conference of the kind which we held in

London there might well be difficulties in achieving these objectives. The points of view of Western European powers, of the various countries of the British Commonwealth and of the United States, might prove to be in some respects divergent; not, I hasten to say, on points of basic principle but on large points of detail. Again, the position of Communist China presented its own difficulties. Some members of the British Commonwealth had recognized the Mao Tse-tung Government. Others, including our own, had not. The United States had not. The adjustment of these various points of view in the face of active operations of war could not be easy. It was therefore of some significance that in our final declaration we indicated our willingness as a group of Prime Ministers to engage in direct personal negotiations not only with Marshal Stalin but also with Mao Tsetung. These matters were all frankly and fully discussed. At the very time of our meeting proceedings were in hand at Lake Success, and resolutions were due to he tabled. We found ourselves able to agree upon views which were, through the various appropriate channels, transmitted to our representatives at Lake Success and to the United States of America which, while they were at first perhaps misunderstood in the United States, ultimately enabled us to arrive at a very high degree of common decision with our American friends. I need only add that while by that decision, the United Nations has condemned the intervention of Communist China, it has been made abundant^ clear that, subject to resistance to aggression, our common desire is for peace and that, consistently with that resistance, the door of sensible negotiation is wide open.

Some discussion occurred on the subject of a peace treaty with Japan. Again it was common ground that our relations with Japan should be stabilized upon the basis of an early settlement. I will not seek to anticipate what my colleague may desire to put before the House on this matter but I think that I should briefly indicate two things. The first is that the views of Australia upon Japanese rearmament are in substance not shared by some major democratic powers. The view held by these- powers, and I offer no comment upon it at present, is that if

Japan is not to be brought within the Communist orbit it must be defended, and that the burden of defending it in the present state of world affairs and the imminent dangers which surround us should at least be shared by the Japanese people. In the judgment of these powers, and it is well that honorable -members should have this in mind,- the peace treaty should not impose any limitations upon Japanese rearmament. Our own strong opposition to a resurgence of Japanese militarism has been clearly stated and is well understood. Secondly, it is to the lasting credit of my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, that he has, knowing the opinions of other nations on Japanese rearmament, whilst continuing constantly to assert this strong opposition, been emphasizing in every appropriate quarter the problem of our own security in the Pacific. He has insisted that, particularly in face of any Japanese rearmament, there should be created such particular Pacific arrangements as will give to Australia some guarantee of friendly aid and protection in the event of a recurrence of threatened attack upon us.

Another matter to which we directed attention in London was the problem of materials supplies, and in particular of those supplies of raw materials which have strategic significance. It wa3 unanimously agreed that in the interests of all of us there should be the closest practical consultation on these matters, and that for this purpose the Commonwealth Liaison Committee should be strengthened, and that in conjunction with the United States of America we should promptly attack the problem of mutual assistance in such supplies. In consequence of our discussion and of others which followed it, Australia is at present being effectively represented at conferences in respect of certain vital materials, one of which was referred to at- question time to-day, which have much to do with our defence preparations and our future security.

In informal meetings of great significance, most of the Prime Ministers took part in talks about Kashmir. Some people may have wondered why, as Prime Minister of Australia, I personally directed so much activity to helping to secure the attendance of the Prime Minister of

Pakistan at London and in putting forward more than one proposal for a solution of the dispute. Kashmir, it may be said, is merely a small country of 4,500,000 people in an Indian subcontinent of something like 450,000,000 people. All I say in reply to this is that a year ago very few people were thinking of Korea. Very few imagined that incidents in that remote country could bring us to the verge of a great war and could actually involve the United .States of America alone in casualties which we in Australia would associate with a major conflict. Kashmir is at present not a part of either India or Pakistan. It was long ago agreed by both countries that the Kashmir people themselves should determine by popular vote whether they would accede to India or to Pakistan. Subsequent to this agreement great disputes arose as to whether Kashmir should before and during the vote be demilitarized, in the sense that both Indian and Pakistani troops should withdraw from it. No settlement of this point, having been arrived at, the United Nations appointed an eminent Australian, Sir Owen Dixon, to act as an investigator and conciliator.’ His best efforts failed. His very careful and documented report on his mission indicates how and why that failure occurred. Meanwhile the position is that there is great tension. Both India and Pakistan are setting themselves to guard against military action by the other. At this very moment, with the free world threatened by the activities of the Communist powers, India is spending hot less than 50 per cent, of its total public revenues upon defence against Pakistan, while Pakistan is spending not less than 70 per cent, of its public revenues upon defence against India.

Meanwhile the most alarming conditions obtain. Subsequent to partition, there were great movements of refugees, New Delhi itself receiving hundreds of thousands of them, for whom little real accommodation could be found, while Karachi, a city of 300,000 people, received no less than 1,000,000 refugees. Living conditions have been indescribable. Mr. Nehru and Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan are both great popular leaders whose dearest ambitions must be to raise the living standards of their people and to enable the march of self-government and the march of social betterment to proceed side by side. But what chance is there of attacking these immense problems on a real scale when so grievous a percentage of the public revenues is devoted to activities of the kind that I have described?

There is another aspect of this matter which deeply concerns all of us. It is, in plain terms, that in a great and growing world conflict, the whole Indian subcontinent is being neutralized by the existence of this most unhappy internal dispute. It would serve no useful purpose for me to make any report of the nature or course of our discussions in London on this matter. Indeed, I would not desire to assume the role of being a judge of these issues. I simply say that, to my mind, there is no reason to suppose that the dispute cannot be terminated, assuming a common desire and goodwill. I profoundly hope that at Lake Success and in any subsequent negotiations it will be found possible for two countries which are by ‘inheritance and by choice the custodians of parliamentary selfgovernment on the mainland of Asia to devise ways and means of enabling the people of Kashmir to choose their own allegiance without fear and without favour.

I believe - and I am reinforced in that belief by my conversations with both Mr. iNch ru and Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan - that other matters of difference between India and Pakistan are eminently capable of solution once the machinery for deciding the future of Kashmir has been determined. But I also say to the people of Australia that as long as that dispute remains unsettled it will be provocative, dangerous, and full of the gravest menace for ourselves, not only because of its influence upon the world generally but also because of its direct and immediate effect upon the security of the. whole of our position in the Middle East. I shall return to this aspect of the problem a little later.

The last aspect of the London conference to which I desire to refer is this: Some of the Prime Ministers - not all - took part, with expert assistance, in discussions about problems of mutual defence and defence planning. In a statement which I hope to make to the House in a few days’ time, I. shall say as much as it is possible to say on certain changes in our own defence programmes and objectives, but I think I should say at this stage that though I went to London willing and anxious to push forward the business of defence planning, I did not, and could not, go for the purpose of making absolute military commitments on behalf of this country. On such matters no government has any right to bind its successor. I express the view of my own Government quite simply when I say that we have our own beliefs as to where the major theatres of conflict will be in the event of another great war, assuming that that great war is with the potential enemy now visible and occurs, as it well may, within a relatively short period of years.

We should be faithless to our responsibilities to Australia if, entertaining those beliefs, we failed to institute and to carry through defence preparation programmes which would enable Australia to attend to its defence and to its ultimate safety in those places in which the future will be fought out and decided. But from first to last, both here and in London, I have made it clear on behalf of this Government that, while we will resolutely discharge our duty to see that this country shall be both strong and ready and equipped, what shall be done with our forces and how and where any war on our part shall be fought is a matter entirely for the determinaton of the government of that day. I know my own mind on these matters. I do not assume to control either the mind or the decision of whoever may sit in office when the day comes.

Having said that about the conference in London, I now turn to an aspect of my report which is much more general and much more dependent upon individual judgment, but which, nevertheless, is of high significance. I can introduce it by posing ohe direct question. What are the possibilities of war? It is, of course, quite wrong to assume that there is anybody in the world, outside the aggressor countries, who knows with certainty anything of the future time-table. All that one can do is to look closely at the circumstances, consider and weigh the developments, discuss with experts and people in high authority, and then form a judgment. That judgment is not to be formed lightly. It has obviously to be expressed with infinite care and after the most earnest thought. But when the Prime Minister of a democratic country feels called upon to form a judgment on such grave matters, he must, above all things, not be light-hearted. He must not gamble with the safety of his own people, or with their future or freedom. He must, above all things, be very sure that there is no greater misfortune than for a democratic government to allow its people to fall into foreseeable conflict, unprepared, defenceless and unable to contribute in time to the common task.

Therefore, I propose to say to the House what I believe to be true. The dangers of war have increased considerably. It is my belief that the state of the world is such that we cannot, and must not, give ourselves more than three years in which to get ready to defend ourselves. Indeed, three years is a liberal estimate. Nobody can guarantee that it may not be two years or one year. Certainly, nobody can say with any authority that we have a day more than three years. Let me be clear. I am not prophesying war. I merely point out that there is an imminent danger of one, and that against that imminent danger we must be prepared, and in time.

It must be abundantly clear, except to the thoughtless or indifferent, that there is in the world a pattern and a scheme of Communist aggression which, if it be allowed to continue, must reduce the Western democracies to impotence and put our national and individual lives and freedom in jeopardy. We as a government have no doubt that if all the democracies prepare themselves resolutely against the serious contingency of war they will achieve their real chance of peace. Certainly there can be no real reason to doubt that the Communist forces of the world are working to a common design, mean to have as much success as they can short of war, will use their puppets and spend the lives of those puppets in what we call a “ cold “ war, and will resort to “ hot “ war, to world war, if they feel that in such a war the probabilities of success are heavily in their favour. Whatever may be said by those who regard the very mention of the atomic bomb as itself a crime against humanity, it is, in my opinion, true to say that if at this moment the Communist forces had the atomic bomb in quantity and the United States had few or none, the whole position of the world would be drastically altered.

In brief, the orthodox statement that war is not inevitable means no more than that war is avoidable, but is avoidable only by our own efforts. To that I add, and repeat, that it is my solemn belief that, at the very best, we have not a minute more than three years in which to be ready. What being ready means, because it presents us with an Herculean task, I shall speak of in my next statement to the House. All I need say at this stage is that, although we were not ready in 1914: and 1939,. the time-table of war still enabled us to make our contribution. This time we can assume no breathing space. We shall be ready on the day, or we shall fail.

Let me put before the House, as dispassionately as I can, having regard to the grim nature of the subjectmatter, the principal factors which lead to the conclusions already stated. First of all, let us consider our vital interests. The first, of course, is, in the immediate sense, the freedom of Australia. But that freedom cannot be defended merely on the coasts of Australia, any more than it can be defended without the aid of powerful friends.- The great war, the danger of which I have been discussing, must - and let us speak quite frankly about it - be one conducted and promoted by imperialist communism. In such a war, Australian shipping -might well be harried by long-range submarines, and there might conceivably be some sporadic or isolated air attack. But invasion movements against an island continent can be conducted only by oceanic powers. We have no present or potential enemy that could become an oceanic power within the time, or anything like the time, that I have stated.

It follows, then, that the defence of Australia will essentially turn upon the success with which the countries of the British Commonwealth, the United States and the nations of Western Europe can turn back and defeat the aggressor. Wherever there is a crucial theatre of war in such a fight, there will the security of Australia be defended. Having this in mind, let us acknowledge that we have vital interests in “Western Europe, in the safety of the United Kingdom, and in the Middle East, and that in addition to our vital interests near at hand we have, during the “cold” war period, a deep concern not only in Korea but also in Malaya and in the South-East Asia area generally.

In relation to these vital interests there are various events of the last six months, most or all of which are now operating to increase the risks or demonstrate the increased probabilities of war. I put them in no particular order. They make a significant enough list however we may look at them.

First, there is a deplorable weakness in Western European defence. It is notorious that a great deal of time and a great resurrection of morale are needed if Western Germany, France and the Low Countries, aided by the United Kingdom and the United States of America, are to be in any sort of posture of defence. In France itself, where so much of the old fire has burned low, where cynicism is so frequently found and where the Communists are an immensely powerful minority, great changes will need to occur before that once powerful military nation again will have strength.

Secondly, we have no accurate knowledge of Communist atomic resources, but we do know that there has been considerable progress in atomic research, assisted spectacularly in recent years by some treasonable scientists from the Western world. It is surely clear that at this moment, subject only to atomic reprisals, the Communists could score fast and heavily because of their ground and air superiority, and might in fact assume with speed the same mastery of Europe as that which was achieved by Hitler in 1940. The more progress, therefore, that the Communists make with their atomic research and construction, and the more confident they become that in an atomic war they may give as well as take, the more temptation will they come under to use their superiority in other arms should they feel disposed to strike the crucial blow. I remind the House and the people that if there is one thing clearly established it is that the so-called “ peace “ campaigns now being organized around the world are of purely communistic origin and are expressly designed for one most sinister purpose. That purpose is to weaken the will of the democratic peoples to prepare for war, to put pressure on their governments to reduce their armaments, and so to make more swift and certain the defeat of the democracies.

The position in the Middle East is gravely disturbing. There is a widespread agitation in Egypt - an agitation which finds expression “in government policy - for the evacuation of the Suez Canal zone by British forces. I have only to invite honorable members to look at the map of the Middle East to consider the significance of the Persian countries in oil supply, the significance of the canal as a great line of communication, and the significance of the warm waters of the Mediterranean as an avenue of both outlet and attack, and they will agree instantly that whether it be actually on the banks of the canal or in some alternative but accessible position the existence of an adequate base or bases in the Middle East is an essential element in our own security. All these matters are at present under negotiation between the Governments of the United Kingdom and Egypt and I therefore say no more about them. But there is the other factor in the Middle East, to which I have already made some reference. It is the position of Pakistan. If honorable members will notionally stand by the canal, facing east and northeast, they will see at once that the right flank of any defensive position is on Pakistan. Obviously, ‘ therefore, the capacity of Pakistan to participate in the defence of the Middle East is a problem of major importance. Pakistan is a British country. It has ties of ancient friendship with the whole British world. Its troops have fought alongside other British troops in two great wars. Yet at this moment because of the Kashmir dispute and its military consequences, Pakistan, whatever its judgment might otherwise be, is completely neutralized.

During the last six months the activities of Communist bandits in Malaya have continued. It is quite true that the latest reports show that a substantial measure of success is being slowly achieved by what was called the “ Briggs “ plan, a plan under which military operations are closely followed by improved local administration and police and land arrangements. But the task of dealing with bandits in a large country with great masses of thick jungle is one of extreme difficulty. From the point of view of the Communist planners it must be regarded as quite a satisfying piece of cold war operation for it keeps engaged large British military forces including, as we know, some from Australia, and therefore substracts them from places which are in point of world strategy much more significant. In Indo-China the struggle being conducted by French troops has the inevitable effect of weakening the defence of metropolitan France.

In Korea recent months have seen the intervention on the grand scale of the armies of Communist China; and though their efforts appear to have been stayed of late, the whole campaign has involved a very large commitment of United Nations forces, the bulk of which are those of the United States, a country which has, with great imagination and courage, accepted so heavy a share of the burden of keeping the world free. We all, of course, are agreed upon the necessity for maintaining an effective stand against aggression in Korea; but we must at the same time record the fact that from the point of view of the Communist planners, cold war activities in Asia, so long as they are conducted by satellite troops, greatly strengthen the hand of the Communists in other places. I should add that in London I heard much interesting and informed discussion about the relations between Communist China and the Soviet Union. Though those discussions suggested a number of points of difference in administrative principles and perhaps in ultimate ideals, none of them got rid of the vital belief that there, is the closest collaboration in point of military planning.

It is impossible for thoughtful people to ignore the significance of the order of events in the working out of imperialist Communist policy. In Eastern Europe there was, for some time after the war, a rapid expansion. Nations were whiteanted from within and revolutionary governments were then set up so that those countries became satellites. Of late there has been no further movement of expansion in Europe. This fact may be partly explained by the coming into existence of the North Atlantic Treaty organization and the preparations which are being made under it and partly by the emergence of resistance in such countries as Yugoslavia. But the other part of the explanation is that the Communists having secured, particularly in Eastern Germany and its adjacent countries, powerful bases from which a westerly attack could be developed, then switched their attention to Asia, creating disturbances in that continent, and fighting wars against the democracies with other peoples’ forces, designing by these means to divide and conquer. For it seems to me to be perfectly clear that the strengthening of Communist power in Europe and the diversion of democratic forces in Asia have a relation which is neither accidental nor remote. They are merely two facets of the same strategical plan.

Next, unless we are so utterly gullible as to believe that there is not a world pattern df Communist activity we must attach great significance to the fact that here in Australia there is an intense and renewed activity on the part of the Communists, an activity directly designed to weaken our economic and military preparations. What powers we have to deal with these enemies we shall not know until we receive the keenly awaited judgment of the High Court in respect of our anti-Communist legislation.

Finally, and so that the realities as understood by the greatest democratic powers may be laid bare, let me tell the House this : The gravity and urgency of the position are, in the judgment of the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, so great that the United Kingdom, which originally, in 1950-51, designed to expend S per cent, of its national income upon defence, is now proposing in 1951-52 to expend for that purpose 13 per cent, of its national income, or the equivalent of £A.32 a head of its population! The United States, the strength and readiness of which are so vital to us all, is doubling and trebling its provision of less than two years ago. It will, in 1951-52, expend on defence the equivalent of -20 per cent, of its 1949-50 national income, or no less than the equivalent of £A.119 a head of its population.

If the main guardians of the world’s peace are standing to arms so quickly, it is no scare-mongering on the part of the Australian Government to say, as I have said this evening, that we have no time to lose. I cannot believe that the people of Australia can contemplate this formidable array of recent developments without being driven to the conclusion that our present and widespread slackness must come to an end. I repeat, we cannot give ourselves one day more than three years, at the best, in which to be ready. And we shall certainly not be ready if, as a community of individuals, so many of us continue to behave as if there were no imminent danger of war or, alternatively, as if, when a war comes, we can have all the years that we need in which to make our belated preparations. Our defence programmes are being reconstructed with speed. The impact of an accelerated programme upon our civil economy has been the matter of close study and further decision of policy. In my next statement to the House I shall address myself to these elements, so that all our people may know the nature and implications of the national task.

I lay on the table the following papers : -

  1. Prime Ministers’ Conference, London, 1951 - Ministerial statement, and (6) Declaration by Prime Ministers. and move -

That the Ministerial Statement be printed.

Leader of the Opposition · Macquarie

.- I did not anticipate that it would be possible for the Prime Ministers gathered in London to come to an agreement on many of the very great problems that affect the world, including some of those countries of the British Empire that were represented at the conference. I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), however, in saying that I think that the personal contacts that aire made between the various representatives of the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations at such conferences as this are of incalculable value. No doubt the Prime Minister found a very great change in the atmosphere of the conference com pared with that of similar conferences which he may have attended in years gone by. India, Pakistan and Ceylon have emerged as independent dominions, exercising their right of self-determination. They have different customs and religions and because of their geographical positions they probably have an outlook on world problems different from that of the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. That fact has made a very great difference to the points of view expressed at Empire conferences. I am sorry that the Prime Minister of South Africa was not able to attend the conference because he adopts a point of view which, in many respects, is totally different from that held by the Prime Ministers of other dominions.

I welcomed the conference of the Prime Ministers. Before I knew that it was possible that the Prime Minister would be going to London I stated in this House that I regretted that during his last trip abroad he had not had the opportunity of speaking to the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan. I think that the Prime Minister will agree that the views held by those gentlemen differ very considerably from the views that were expressed at past Imperial conferences which were attended by people who were almost entirely British in outlook. Therefore, I was glad to know that the right honorable gentleman had taken the opportunity to have personal conversations with the Prime Ministers of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. Although the Prime Minister did not mention the fact, it is perfectly clear that, wherever India goes, Pakistan and Ceylon will finally go as well. From my own personal conversations and observations, I have formed the judgment - call it intuition if you like - that any move that. India makes will be followed ultimately, if not immediately, by the other two dominions. I do not say that in any disparaging sense. The Western powers would be unwise, when formulating policies for Asia, to go further at any time than the distance they can carry India with them. That is why I was glad that the Prime Minister had the opportunity to discuss with the leaders of India, Pakistan and Ceylon many matters that affect eastern politics.

I believe, and I make no apology for repeating what I have said in this House previously, that the whole of the East would have been aflame to-day if the United Kingdom had not given to India, Pakistan and Ceylon the right of selfgovernment and self-determination. I do not pay tribute for this act of statesmanship only to the present Government of the United Kingdom because I am aware that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, Mr. Churchill, was taken into consultation on those matters. I believe that he agreed, when Lord Mountbatten went to India in connexion with the preliminary negotiations, that the time had arrived for those peoples to have independence and the right of selfgovernment. Those acts were the salvation of the British Commonwealth, in my opinion, and all the major political parties in the United Kingdom are entitled to take credit for them, although the present Government was the initiator and sponsor of the moves which led to the establishment of the friendly sentiments that now exist between the three dominions and the United Kingdom. I have been told by authoritative men in India that the feelings of the Indians towards the British people to-day are better than they have been at any other time during the last half century or even longer. I have no doubt that the Prime Minister has confirmed that view during his travels. Again I emphasize that the Western powers will make a very grave mistake indeed if ever they take any political action that provokes the hostility of India, Pakistan and Ceylon. India and Pakistan, and particularly India, have become very great and influential dominions in the British Commonwealth of Nations. The very weight of numbers in India, which has a population of about 280,000,000, has made it a power that must be respected. Furthermore, it may be said with confidence, and without casting reflections upon anybody else, that Pandit Nehru has the most influential voice in Asia to-day. I am sure that the Prime Minister will admit that, though his views may differ from those of the Prime Minister of India, he has conceived a very wholesome respect and admiration for the great ability of Pandit Nehru. The Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Ceylon also wield great influence in Asia.

The tendency of many people to-day is to declare that every trouble that occurs in the world is due to communism. There could be no greater fallacy than that. That is not only my personal opinion. It is the opinion also of men in world affairs-

Mr White:

– Such as Stalin !


– Lord Mountbatten. Lord Killearn and other eminent British diplomats hold that view. They are just as well qualified to express opinions on such matters as is the Minister for Air (Mr. White). In fact, I consider them to be more competent on this subject than is the honorable gentleman. Once again I emphasize the absolute hostility of the Australian Labour party to communism. It is necessary for me to do so because charges are frequently levelled against members of this party, solely for political purposes and not with any sincerity I am sure, to the effect that there is some association between the Australian Labour party and radical elements in the world that may have a link with communism. The party is opposed to anything relating to communism or any other such foreign creed. We believe that the people of Australia are entirely capable of framing their own policies and managing their own affairs. They do not need creeds that spring from Russia or anywhere else, although they may rely upon the guidance of history in determining the wisest policies to adopt, and, as the Prime Minister has said, they have a duty to co-operate with other peace-loving nations that believe in liberty for the people.

To imagine that all the troubles in the East to-day are entirely due to communism is an utter delusion. The situation in Asia, which has been developing for hundreds of years, is aggravated by the rapid growth of populations in which the percentage of poverty and misery is constantly increasing. The Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), who have travelled through eastern countries, have been able to see in Singapore, Calcutta, Bombay and elsewhere, some evidence of the degree of suffering of the masses of the people in Asia. Remember that all the radical and revolutionary movements in those countries have not been initiated by what some people are pleased to call the “ wage plugs “ ! They have been started by the intelligentsia of those countries. As the Prime Minister must know, more men with a university education attend Prime Ministers conferences in London now than ever attended such gatherings before. The explanation of that circumstance is that most of the leaders of the eastern peoples and their advisers, particularly those from India and Pakistan, have been educated at European universities. They have led bloodless revolutions for the purpose of obtaining independence and selfgovernment for their peoples.

The Prime Minister mentioned Korea. I shall make the position of the Opposition in relation to Korea perfectly clear. The Australian Labour party supported the Government’s decision to send Australian troops, at the instance of- the United Nations, to resist aggression by North Korea in South Korea. I still maintain that that course of action was completely justified. However, I consider that the United Nations forces, having driven the North Koreans beyond the 38th parallel, should not have attempted to conquer the whole of North Korea. I know that one cannot just draw a line at the parallel, but the United Nations forces should have advanced only as far as would have been necessary to enable them to establish a reasonable line of defence. The decision to attempt to subdue the whole of North Korea was made because of circumstances of which I am not fully aware, but of which I have a fair understanding, and I regret that it was made. There are honorable members on the Government side of this House who realize that the decision was very foolish.

The situation is easy to understand. I have been assured on excellent authority that 66 per cent, of the electric power that is used in Manchuria as far as Dairen, Port Arthur and even Vladivostock, is supplied from hydro-electric plants in North Korea. I was told three months before the United Nations forces moved north of the 38th parallel that any such course of action would inevitably bring China into the war. It was evident that a country of 460,000,000 people, many of whom were elated by their successes in what might be called a political revolution, because the previous regime just fell to pieces without a great deal of fighting, would not permit any other nation to take control of the source of supply of electric power for a very important portion of its territory. It would not be sensible to imagine that ‘China would accept any such move without resistance. One can easily be wise after the event, but I repeat that it was great folly for the United Nations forces to move as far north as they went in Korea. The newspapers care little about telling the truth about the position in Korea. I regret that the United Nations in making its move in Korea, which was completely justified, unfortunately produced in that country a complete shambles. As a result the South Koreans to-day are in the most miserable condition that they have ever experienced in their history, and that is saying a great deal because that country for the greater part of its existence has been in a pretty bad state. Over 1,000,000 casualties have been caused and of those the great majority, perhaps 900,000, have been South Koreans. On a previous occasion in this House I pointed out that there has never been any love between the South Koreans and the American soldiers engaged in that country. However, I added that even if only 20 per cent, of South Koreans were being protected against aggression we were still justified in going into Korea. But what is the position to-day in South Korea which has been made the battlefield of two world ideologies? Over 1,000,000 casualties have been caused among the Koreans whilst 2,500,000 of them have been rendered completely homeless under climatic conditions which for many months of the year are appalling. Over 200,000 houses, such as they are, have been burned to the ground and from 75 per cent, to 80 per cent, of Korea’s textile production has been destroyed. I need not discuss what happened when the United Nations forces pursued the Communists to the north. “We know of the use of jelly-petrol bombs. When, from time to time, we see pictures in the newspapers of South Koreans fleeing in their hundreds of thousands from scenes of destruction no doubt in many instances they were fleeing to escape destruction by allied bombs as well as destruction at the hands of North Korean forces.

Mr White:

– Who started it all?


– I have made it clear that we regard the aggression by the North Koreans as the cause of the trouble. However, out of the attempt by the United Nations to liberate the South Koreans has emerged a most appalling state of affairs. [Extension of time granted.’) Perhaps, I can best sum up the position in the words of a prominent world statesman who wrote to me as recently as last week. This gentleman, who was prominent in affairs at Lake Success, said, in effect, that the sooner the United Nations gets out of the South Korean mess the better will it be for the countries involved and that it will not be so easy to get out of that mess as might al first appear to be the case. He added that we must never deny that the United Nations was completely justified in interfering originally in Korea. He made it perfectly clear that the sooner the United Nations can arrange for the holding of free elections in South Korea and guarantee, perhaps, some temporary protection for the people there and temporarily rehabilitate them the better will it be for every country that is associated with this problem.

I do not propose to deal with the position that exists in other Eastern nations. The Prime Minister opened up the subject of the re-armament of Japan. It is an appalling prospect for our future to envisage the possibility of 200,000 or 300,000 Australian soldiers resisting aggression from the north should such aggression occur. There are 700,000,000 people to the north of this continent and most of them are coloured people whilst the only Christian nation among them is the Philippines. In that number I have not included China with its population of 465,000,000 which is growing rapidly. If the population of Japan continues to increase at the rate at which it has increased since World War II., that country will double its population within 40 years. As a matter of fact, authoritative statisticians estimate that Japan will double its population within 33 years, whilst the population of the Philippines at its present rate of increase will be doubled within approximately the same period. I shall not deal with the prospective increase of the population of Egypt where the annual rate of increase is 50 births to each 1,000 of population. The simple fact is that at its present rate of increase the population of the world will be doubled within the next 70 years and the greater proportion of that increase will be in Asian and Pacific countries. I cite those figures in order to suggest that with from 200,000 to 300,000 soldiers in this country and a population of from 20,000,000 to 30,000,000, our position would be completely hopeless if the peoples to the north of this continent were hostile to us.

I hope that statesmanship in the years ahead will ensure that Australia shall not attempt to refuse, or be a party to refusing, to the peoples in Asia and the East” the right of self government. I am aware of the danger inherent in that proposal. No doubt we shall be told that under such conditions those countries would be dominated by Communist influences and, as happened in North Korea, police States would emerge with all the vileness, corruption and crookedness that go with communism in many countries. At the same time, it is strange that to-day we are supporting communism in Yugoslavia where Marshal Tito is able to obtain all the dollars that he requires. He is not a conservative reactionary but an out-and-out Communist and, of course, we have to use him against those behind the Iron Curtain. The point that I make is that it is quite foolish for people to go round the country expressing the belief that all the trouble that is taking place in Asia and the East to-day is due to communism. We detest communism but we are realists enough to recognize that the real driving force behind the unrest in the East to-day is the desire of Eastern peoples for self-determination and selfgovernment. I, cite Mr. Malcolm MacDonald as my authority for saying that no matter what kind of discussion we may engage in that involves the relationship of the East with the West the right of the West to dominate the East will always be resisted. We must be realistic.

The Prime Minister spoke about the general agreement that was achieved among the Prime Ministers at their conference in London. Recently, I read a statement from which I gained the impression that complete unanimity was reached among the Prime Ministers with respect to joint action in any move that might be taken in world affairs, hut not very long afterwards I noticed that at a meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations, whilst tie United Kingdom and India voted for the admission of Communist China to the United Nations, Australia, despite the manifesto that had been issued by the Prime Ministers, persisted in the stupid folly, which is completely unrealistic, of being a party to the non-recognition of Communist China. The existence of the Chinese Communist Government may be unpalatable tq us. “We may hate the Communists and all people who are associated with communism in China, and yet may doubt whether unrest in that country is due wholly and solely to Communists or to the emergence of some degree of nationalism. Unfortunately, the general idea to-day seems to be to distort everything for political reasons, and even after making due allowance for the real menace of communism, to attribute all unrest to the activities of Communists. On a previous occasion in this House I said that the greatest diplomatic folly I knew of was the refusal of the United Nations to admit as a member Communist, or Red, China, or whatever else one might like to call it.

Mr Spender:

– Why did not the Government of which the right honorable gentleman was the head recognize the Chinese Communist Government?


– The Prime Minister in his remarks to-night made a statement dealing with the right of any government to commit its successor. At the time to which the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) has referred a general election was pending in this country. I shall not disguise the facts. The recognition of the Chinese Communist Government is still a very controversial matter. There could be no question about the mind of my Government, with respect to the recognition of that government. Although honorable members opposite may not believe me, I say frankly that at that time I considered that subject to be of such importance that with a general election pending it should be decided by the incoming government. The Prime Minister has said that even in London he did not feel disposed to commit indefinitely any future government in this country to any programme for the same reason that I have mentioned in explanation of the failure of my Government to recognize the Chinese Communist Government. But if my Government had been returned to office it would have supported China’s admission to the United Nations, not because we like the Communists or support anything associated with communism, but simply because we prefer to be realists. At this juncture I do not propose to cover all the ground that the Prime Minister traversed in his statement. However, I trust that later the Prime Minister will give to the House an opportunity to consider international affairs and foreign policy over a wider field.

Mr Menzies:

– The Minister for External Affairs will make another statement later in the week.


– In view of that assurance, I shall deal only briefly with the position in Europe. I do not believe that there will be another war in the near future.


– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s extended time has expired.

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - agreed to -

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) from continuing his speech without limitation of time.


– I shall deal very briefly at the moment with the position in Europe because I shall have an opportunity to refer to it later. I do not believe that any world conflict can arise out of the position in Asia or the East if reasonable common sense is used. I know the difficulties that exist in the world to-day. I do not pretend for one moment that in dealing with Communists and others of that ilk we are not dealing with slippery customers whose word, in many instances, cannot be taken. The Prime Minister has made reference to Communist influence and to “ cold wars “. It is interesting to recall that at one time we were told that communism in this country was being maintained by Russian gold. I do not hear such statements now. Apparently the Russian gold that comes to this country now is all going to the woolgrowers.

The real difficulty in Europe is that the countries of Western Europe have ample populations to protect themselves, if they had that morale and fighting spirit for which Prance and other nations were noted hundreds of years ago, and if they were given some degree of help. The Prime Minister has said’ that the military spirit and the fires of patriotism that actuated the French people in the past have burned very low. He has never made a truer statement than that. The desire to fight is not there. As far as Italy is concerned, I think that the desire to fight is lower than the corresponding desire in France and that the fires of patriotism there are lower still. I quite realize the danger of conflict in Europe, particularly in Western and Eastern Germany where there is a high sparking point. However, I do not think that there will be any early war in Europe despite what the Prime Minister has had to say. I met recently a very eminent gentleman who is supposed to be in the confidence of governments, and was told by him that war would break out after the next European harvests had been gathered. I do not quite accept that view either. 1 do not doubt that what the Prime Minister Lias had to say was based on information available to him and on the views expressed by many notable people, perhaps including army chiefs. I remember Viscount Montgomery saying five years ago that there was no possibility of a world war in the next fifteen or twenty years. There can very easily be a lot of false prophecies about the likelihood of war.

The unfortunate thing about Europe is that the old fighting morale has vanished.’ I am not speaking of any deterioration of the general qualities of the European peoples. We know that in Italy, which is an over-populated country, there is great misery among the population. Seedbeds for communism are constantly being sown because of the economic conditions under which many people in Italy live.

An article about Italy that I read recently struck me forcefully, and I shall read a short extract from it to the House. The extract is from a Lenten pastoral letter issued by Cardinal Schulster in Italy. I consider that the statements in it sum up the whole position, because the fact is that unless we, and the other free nations of the world, can offer something better to the great majority of the people who live in misery in the East and in parts of Europe, we cannot hope to succeed in defeating communism. The cardinal wrote -

To prepare arms and soldiers for the defence of the nation in case of war when more than 2,000,000 unemployed Italians are walking the streets is useless. Naturally, if war comes, these men will units themselves with the fifth column. This vast mass of men does not want charity but justly claims that the Gasperi Government should take energetic measures to fight unemployment.

There you find the reason why communism has grown in Europe. Thirty million peasants - 70 per cent, of the population - are working under Italy’s inefficient land system. Some of them earn only ls. a day and lie at night in windowless stone huts with their cattle. That is happening while noble families own vast tracts of Italy’s best land, on which miserably paid, illiterate peasants slave from dawn till dusk. And so there is a wave of communism in the world to-day.

Mr Spender:

– Those circumstances simply create the conditions in which communism breeds. That is a different thing altogether.


– What the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) says is perfectly true. It is on these conditions that communism thrives. The honorable gentleman can see, in Calcutta, Bombay, and many of the other places that he has visited, the incredible misery and poverty in which tens of millions of people nowlive. What did we offer those people in the way of democracy and freedom in days gone by?

Mr Ward:

– The Spender plan!

Mr Failes:

– What did the Labour Government offer them?


– Order !


– I should like to reply to some of the interjections, but I do not wish to take up the time of the House in doing so even though honorable members have granted me unlimited time. We shall have further opportunities to deal with this subject. My final plea is couched in these words : “ Do not think, and do not act, in the belief that you can defeat communism by merely saying that you are opposed to it “. The Minister for External Affairs has been participating in a scheme that offers some sort of relief to depressed Asian countries. That gesture may be only as a drop in the ocean. I am not condemning the motives of that scheme. I merely say that, much as we hate communism, no matter to what political party we may belong, and unpalatable as it may be that China and other nations, so we are told, have gone over to communism, let us never forget that only by curing the evils in consequence of which communism spreads can we finally destroy comm’unism itself.


.- Before I discuss foreign affairs I should like to express the pleasure of honorable members on this side of the House at seeing the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Chifley) back in his place here restored, to health. Quite sincerely, it gives us real pleasure to see him here again looking like his old self. But, while genuinely pleased that he is back in his place looking his old self we were disappointed to hear him make to us to-night exactly the same old speech that he has made on every occasion during this session on which the House has debated foreign affairs. If we think of his speech in the context in which it was delivered, that disappointment grows. Surely he must realize that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to-night made a statement of great urgency and as a result of profound consideration of the present state of the world. The Prime Minister’s statement cut adrift from many set old ideas about the conduct of Australia’s foreign policy and about the preparedness of Australia for possible future conflict. Yet, although we have had this new note of urgency struck by the Prime Minister, what do we hear from the Opposition? We hear the same old speech, which perhaps was relevant eighteen months, two years, or five years, ago, but which is certainly not relevant now in view of the state of the world as it has been described to us by the Prime Minister.

The most remarkable aspect of the Leader of the Opposition’s speech was that which revealed that he has seen a new star in the East in the person of the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, whom he apparently regards as the most influential and most considerable personality now in the world scene. I do not wish to say anything in the least critical of the distinguished Prime Minister of our sister nation. I have the greatest respect personally, as I am sure every other honorable member on this side of the House has, for Mr. Nehru. T suggest, however, that when the Leader of the Opposition carries his reverence for Mr. Nehru - and his remarks on Mr. Nehru were delivered almost in tones of reverence - to the point at which he says that the really important thing now is not to offend Mr. Nehru, he is misinterpreting his function as Leader of the Opposition in an Australian parliament. I also suggest that the kernel of the situation is not whether we want to be hostile to or to accept the opinions of India. The point of the whole situation is surely that Australia, India, Pakistan, Ceylon and other countries of Asia have common interests. We, like they, are trying to discover those common interests and to cement them into a common front against the common enemy. I believe that instead of talking about not offending any one it would well become us to think rather in a more positive way about trying to find ways in which we can live and act together.

As he did on previous occasions, the right honorable gentleman said a great deal about two points - poverty in Asia and the claims of Asian countries for selfgovernment. He is quite mistaken if he imagines that we on this side of the House are in any way opposed to self-government for Asian countries or are not desirous of seeing brought about in Asia all those political, social and economic changes that will lead to a far happier life for all the Asian peoples. We wish to see these things. We, too, are concerned about the spectacle of poverty in the Ear East and are sympathetic to the cause of political freedom that will be fought out there. There is no conflict between our ideas and the aspirations of Asia. It seems to me that the right honorable gentleman has really raised what is at this moment, in this context, & side issue, on which there is no basic conflict of opinion. Surely what we are dealing with now is not a long-term plan of political, social and economic Development in Asia, but a direct and immediate threat which may come to a head this year, next year or the year after. That threat is a direct and immediate threat to the territorial integrity and political sovereignty of this country and of other countries, and unless it is resisted it will remove chances of future improvement both here and in our neighbouring countries. Although the right honorable gentleman described his policy as realistic I should be inclined to describe it as futuristic and not as something that has direct relevance to the matters which the Prime Minister put before us to-night in so clear and disturbing a fashion.

When the Leader of the Opposition turned to the subject of Korea it seemed that once again he gave that odd twist to his arguments that distinguishes his contributions to debates on international affairs. He said that the United Nations had produced a shambles in Korea. Who started the trouble in Korea ? Was it the United Nations? One might as well blame a fire on the firemen who go to fight it, instead of on the incendiarist who started it. Are we to get this odd twist into our thinking on international affairs so that when we comment on Korea, we can only say that the United Nations has produced a shambles in that country? Of course there are misery, suffering, devastation and great loss of life in Korea, but that is not because the United Nations intervened there in order to resist aggression. The reason for the loss of life, devastation, poverty, misery and human suffering in Korea is that there was aggression to begin with, and unless we can resist aggression not only in Korea but also in every other part of the world in which it may occur, there will be more suffering, misery and devastation, and, speaking selfishly, devastation, suffering and misery maytouch our own hearths and homes in Australia. That is why we on this sideof the chamber wish to sound this note of urgency in relation to the present world’ situation.

Time will not permit me to discuss the other arguments that were advanced by the Leader of the Opposition, but we arefamiliar with most of them, and havereplied to them on previous occasions. What seems to me to distinguish his contribution is this : From beginning to end, he neglected the paramount fact in thissituation. That is the fact of power. At the present moment, we are dealing with a power situation, in which the most significant elements are the military and economic power of two opposed groups of nations. That situation must be resolved before we can attend satisfactorily and with any hope of ultimate success to the other matters that were mentioned by the right honorable gentleman. Surely the pattern of events that was disclosed so clearly by the Prime Minister this evening shows us that, to-day, an aggressive force is at large in the world. That aggressive force is using as instruments not only the legitimate aspirations of nationalism and the legitimate aspirations for social and economic reform but also ideological conflict. An aggressive force is at large in the world to-day. There is no other logical way in which the sequence of events that was described in the Prime Minister’s speech can be satisfactorily explained. So, facing a situation of power in which two groups are involved, and in which we can detect an aggressive force loose in the world, what are we to do ? Are we still to make longterm plans for the future? We do not dismiss them. We certainly continue to work towards social and economic improvement in all parts of the world, but at the same time we must take more deliberate and positive measures to deal with the immediate danger - the immediate outbreak of fire.

Such measures, of course, lie in the diplomatic and the military fields. As for the diplomatic field, it is not my province to attempt to discuss in detail the various measures that may be taken to improve the position. But, speaking with a backward look to the course of British diplomacy in the world during past centuries, I think that we can establish two principles. It should be our diplomatic aim, on the one hand, to maintain our allies and that, I think, is being done successfully at the present time. I assume that it is the ambition of this Government that the bounds of alliance shall be extended still further, and that countries with which we now have an imperfect understanding shall be brought more closely into friendship, and into sympathy of ideas with ourselves, and into association and alliance with us in resisting dangerous forces. But our objective should not be limited to maintaining allies. It is an old principle of diplomacy that we use our endeavours to keep potential enemies apart. For many years, the main principle of British diplomacy in the Pacific was to ensure that Germany and Japan should never be united. For a long period, that diplomacy was successful and served the peace of the world. Now, however, the bridge between Europe and Asia does, in fact, exist in the form of the Soviet Union. We can no longer speak of keeping Asia and Europe separated. Those two continents are joined by that mighty imperialistic territory that stretches from the eastern frontiers of Europe to the shores of the Pacific. That fact greatly complicates our diplomatic tasks. Yet, in spite of that changed situation, our diplomatic endeavours must be directed more and more in Asia to cementing that identity of interest, that common interest in a peaceful future, which we share with our great neighbours to the north.

Earlier, I referred to the military field. The core of the message that the Prime Minister has given to the Australian nation to-night is surely this : If we wish to prevent this war that is threatening us, and if we want to solve this dangerous power conflict that does exist, we must unite, and produce a measure of strength that will convince a potential aggressor that war offers him no profit. By our own preparedness and by the united preparedness of those countries with which we are associated, we must establish such strength, and such a force for freedom, that no other force will be in a position to challenge it. By that means, together with great care to maintain a peaceful intention on our own part and great watchfulness to ensure that we refrain from impetuous action, we may avoid the conflict that threatens the world. That is, perhaps, the most powerful and the most promising means by which danger of war in the next few years may be averted.

I should like to add a few final words to what I have already said. In our preparedness we must have more than military unity, and increased material forces to resist a potential enemy. Australians must also have spiritual unity, an identity of interest, and the ability to work together for a cause that is Australian in the highest sense of the term - a cause that is, in concrete terms, the very survival of Australia as Australia. One of the most dangerous outcomes of the recent manifestation of Communist activities in our country is not so much the actual loss of coal and steel, or delay in handling cargoes, as the division of our people. Nothing would give the Communists abroad greater pleasure than the spectacle of Australians fighting Australians. Nothing would suit the purpose of the Communists better than disputation among ourselves over matters of national strength and unity. I believe that, if the united strength of our nation is organized to good purpose and its weight is added to that of other countries which stand where we stand, the threat of war will gradually disappear, because the potential aggressor will be convinced that aggression cannot possibly succeed, and that wherever aggression raises its head, it will be resisted, and resisted successfully. Let us demonstrate that we, as a democratic people, have faith in our democracy, can work together in our democracy, and can make our democracy give to every one of our people benefits that are greater both in private life and in communal life than could be attained under any other circumstances. Let us show that democracy is ready to defend itself. Let us also demonstrate to the peoples of the neighbouring countries of Asia that, along the same path, they, too, will receive both materially and in the fuller development of their mental and cultural life better opportunities in association with the democratic countries than they could hope to attain by chasing the false gods of communism.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Daly) adjourned.

page 90


The following papers were presented : -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations - 1950 -

Nos. 78, 79 and 80 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.

No. 81 - Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.

No. 82 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association and others.

No. 83 -Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.

No. 84 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.

No. 85 - Musicians’ Union of Australia.

No. 86 - Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australasia.

No.87 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.

No. 88 - Commonwealth Postmasters’ Association.

No. 89 - Australian Broadcasting Commission Senior Officers’ Association.

No. 90 - Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association.

No. 91 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.

No. 92 - Hotel, Club, Restaurant and Caterers Employees’ Union of New South Wales; and Federated Liquor and Allied Trades Employees’ Union of Australasia.

No. 93 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association and others.

No. 94 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.

No. 95 - Australian Workers’ Union and Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.

No. 96 - Commonwealth Works Supervisors’ Association.

No. 97 - Australian Workers’ Union.

No. 98 - Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia.

No. 99 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.

No. 100 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.

No. 101 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.

No. 102 - Association of Officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.

No. 103 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.

Australian National Airlines Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 98.

Australian National University Act - Statutes -

No. 1 - Interpretation.

No. 2 - Elections (Members of Council).

No. 3 - Convocation.

No. 4 - Board of Graduate Studies.

Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 96.

Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 89.

Commonwealth Bank Act - Appointment Certificates- H. T. Banks, G. M. Macfarlane.

Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 2.

Commonwealth Public Service Act -

A ppointments - Department -

Air - J.M. Tinney.

Civil Aviation - P. B. Blair, W. A. Blown, R. F. J. Caleo, T. L. M. Connell, J. H. Gerrand, J. Graham, C. R. Jacobson, W. S. Joyner, J. M. Mahar, W. Moir, N. C. Riddiford, E. C. J. Snell, J. J. Waters, S. Wilson.

Defence - J. G. Radford.

Interior - R. J. Slinn.

Labour and National Service - P. M. Gwillim, E. J. Tonkin.

National Development - R. Cornell, G. A. Joplin, W. S. Lowe, A. A. Robertson, J. E. Thompson.

Parliamentary Library - A. E. Turner.

Postmaster-General’s - S. W. Brooks, R. C. Cameron, R. A. Clark, J. A. de Jong, G. K. Howard, B. D. Livingstone, R. L. McGowan, A. E. S. Owen, C. W. Pike, H. J. E. Reed, J. F. Saunders, J. Swift, J. M. Warner.

Repatriation - P. A. D. Foote, T. Godlee, M. A. Hopkins.

Supply - R. S. Davie, R. H. Evans, J. S. Mappin, W. F. Miles, J. G. Prisk, S. J. Wookey.

Trade and Customs - O. E. Britten, B. D. Burrage, J. E. F. de Freitas, J. F. Hayes, P. B. Hough, R. C. Jones, W. A. Klose, L. Martin, E. A. Mawdsley, L. T. Poole, L. P. Ross.

Treasury - R. A. Ruttle.

Works and Housing - T. C.Brockington, T. W. Morley, D. S. Murray. Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, Nos. 88, 99, 100.

Commonwealth Railways Act - Annual Report for year 1949-50.

Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1951, No. 1.

Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations -

Orders - Inventions and designs (7).

Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 101.

Interim Forces Benefits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 97.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land, &.c, acquired for -

Defence purposes -

Anglesea, Victoria.

Banyo, Queensland.

Bullsbrook (Pearce), Western Australia.

Wacol, Queensland.

Department of Civil Aviation purposes -

Archerfield, Queensland.

Carnarvon, Western Australia (2).

Flinders Island (Pats River) Tasmania.

Kempsey, New South Wales.

Maryborough, Queensland.

Normanton, Queensland.

Onslow, Western Australia.

Wynyard, Tasmania.

Department of Trade and Customs pur- poses - Griffith, New South Wales.

Immigration purposes - Launceston, Tasmania.

Postal purposes -

Ascot, Queensland.

Bolgart, Western Australia.

Brookfield, Queensland.

Carlton South, Victoria.

Crystal Brook, South Australia.

Gawler East, South Australia.

Griffith, New South Wales.

Lakemba, New South Wales.

Lameroo, South Australia.

Long Jetty, New South Wales.

Longreach, Queensland.

Minnivale, Western Australia.

Mornington, Victoria.

Mr Gravatt, Queensland.

Mullumbimby, New South Wales.

Orroroo, South Australia.

River ton, South Australia.

Romsey, Victoria.

Rose Bay, New South Wales.

Sassafras, Victoria.

Tantanoola, South Australia.

Two Wells, South Australia.

Telephonic purposes - Longreach, Queensland.

Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 90.

Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance 1950- No. 3 - Lunacy.

Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances - 1950 -

No. 13 - Licensing Court Proceedings Validating.

No. 14 - Crown Lands.

Papua and New Guinea Act - Ordinances - 1950-

No. 27 - Statutory Declarations.

No. 28 - Motor Traffic.

No. 29 - Insolvency (Papua).

No. 30 - Insolvency (New Guinea).

No. 31 - Dangerous Drugs (Papua).

No. 32 - Liquor (Papua).

No. 33 - Liquor (New Guinea).

No. 34 - Appropriation 1950-51.

No. 35 - Gaming (Papua).

No. 36 - Gaming (New Guinea).

No. 37 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Papua).

No. 38 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (New Guinea).

No. 39 - Legitimation (New Guinea) .

No. 40 - Public Service Ordinances Repeal.

No. 41 - Native Children.

No. 42 - Part-Native Children.

No. 43 - Australian Lutheran Mission Property.

No. 44 - Explosives (New Guinea).

No. 45 - Supply Ordinance Operation.

No. 40 - Sea-Carriage of Goods (Papua).

No. 47 - Weights and Measures (New Guinea) .

No. 48 - Native Labour.

No. 49 - Ordinances Interpretation.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 94.

Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950. Nos. 91-3.

Quarantine Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules - 1950, No. 95. 1951, No. 3.

River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Annual Report for year 1949-50.

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-

Ordinances -


No. 14 - Co-operative Trading Societies.

No. 15 - Companies (Unclaimed Assets and Moneys).

No. 16 - Administration and Probate.

No. 17 - Apprenticeship.

No. 18 - City Area Leases. 1951-

No. 1 - Liquor (Renewal of Licences ) .

Regulations - 1 950 -

No. 7 (Machinery Ordinance).

No. 8 (Apprenticeship Ordinance).

No. 9 (Police Ordinance).

No. 10 ( Police Superannuation Ordinance).

War Service Homes Act - Land acquired at Villawood, New South Wales.

Wool Sales Deduction (Administration) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules lf)50, No. 102.

House adjourned at 9.50 p.m.

page 92


The following answers to questions were circulated: -


Mr O’Connor:

r asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. Is it a principle of broadcasting in Australia that the national and commercial stations exist for the purpose of providing listeners with a choice of programmes and avoiding presentation of one point of view in news, commentaries and sporting events?
  2. Is it a fact that, till recently this attitude has been maintained by the Australian Broadcasting Commission?
  3. Is it a fact that on the 24th November, some commercial stations in Sydney were broadcasting through the courtesy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, descriptions of the New South Wales Lawn Tennis Championships and also the cricket fixture, New South Wales versus South Australia, being played in Adelaide?
  4. If so, will he take steps to see that this practice is discontinued, and thus -preserve the identity of each section of our broadcasting system ?
Mr Anthony:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows :-

  1. Yes. The existence of both national and commercial stations ensures a wide variety of programmes for listeners.
  2. The Australian Broadcasting Commission has informed me that there has been no change in its general attitude in this regard.
  3. Yes.
  4. The Commission has informed me that it considers that as many listeners as possible should be given an opportunity of hearing these broadcasts, and on certain occasions for the benefit of listeners, permission is given to some commercial stations to participate in these broadcasts.

Commonwealth Serum Laboratories

Mr Peters:

s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Was an appeal made recently to private enterprise to decentralize important industrial undertakings as a precaution against destruction by air attack?
  2. Is it a fact that the Government has arranged . extensive additions to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories at Royal Park?
  3. Are the serum laboratories located within 2 J miles of the General Post Office, Melbourne ?
  4. Are the laboratories the sole institution of the kind in Australia?
  5. Does the safety, not only of the .people of Australia, but of millions in neighbouring territories, depend largely on the survival of this institution?
  6. Is it proposed that a new area of buildings shall be added to the existing centralized institution ?
  7. Does the centralized situation render the institution vulnerable to air attack?
  8. Is the proposal opposed to public interest and at variance with the Government’s advice to private enterprise to decentralize its works?
Mr Menzies:

– The answers to his questions are as follows : -

  1. The Commonwealth Government favours the decentralization of important industrial undertakings wherever practicable.
  2. Yes, the work is now in progress.
  3. Within 3i miles of the General Post Office.
  4. Yes.
  5. In some respects the laboratories are essential to the safety of the people referred to.
  6. See answer to 2.
  7. Not necessarily.
  8. No. The nature of the laboratories’ activities makes it impossible to effect a satisfactory dispersal of them. It is realized that a -policy of decentralization will involve additional expenditure, but in this instance as well as heavy additional expenditure for buildings and other charges, decentralization would necessitate duplication of specially imported equipment. It would also require the provision of many additional trained workers and qualified medical and technical personnel. It is difficult to obtain sufficient suitable personnel even with the present arrangement.

Armed Forces

Mr Hughes:

s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -

  1. What is the present strength of the (a) Navy (Permanent, Citizen and Reserve

Forces); (b) Army (Permanent and Citizen Forces) ; and (c) Royal Australian Air Force (Permanent, Citizen and Reserve Forces)?

  1. Where is each arm of the Services located, and whether in Korea or elsewhere?
Mr McBride:

– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) Navy (as at the 1st November, 1950) - Permanent Forces, 11,011; Reserve Forces, 5,317. The Reserve Forces include the Royal Australian Navy Reserve (Sea-going), Royal Australian Naval Reserve, Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve, Royal Fleet Reserve and Royal Australian Fleet Reserve. (6) Army (as at the 22nd November, 1950) - Fulltime duty personnel, 17,087; Citizen Military Force personnel, 18,068. (c) Air Force (as at 8th December, 1950) - Permanent Force, 10,911; Citizen and Reserve Forces, 0,792.

  1. Permanent Naval Forces are located in Australian ships, including two destroyers in Korean waters and in shore establishments, including H.M.A.S. Commonwealth in Japan and H.M.A.S. Tarangau in New Guinea. Reserve Naval Forces are all located in Australia.

One battalion of the Permanent Force and a small base detachment are serving in Korea and there is an Army Component serving with the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. The remainder of the Permanent Force is located in Australia. Personnel of the Citizen Military Forces are located in Australia only.

There is a Royal Australian Air Force Fighter Squadron in Korea which has its supporting and base units in Korea and Japan. A bomber squadron and a transport squadron are operating in Malaya in connexion with the campaign against the guerrillas. The remainder of the Permanent Royal Australian Air Force and the Citizen and the Reserve Air Forces are located in Australia.



on asked the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice : -

  1. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Office of Education some months ago ceased publishing its discussion posters?
  2. Is it a fact that these posters were regarded by educationalists as excellent teaching aids?
  3. If publication has been discontinued, was it because of cost and, if so, was any approach made to subscribers to ascertain whether they were prepared to pay more for a continuance of what was regarded by them as one of the most valuable activities of the Commonwealth Office of Education ?
Mr Menzies:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. Yes.
  3. The reason for discontinuing publication of the posters was partly one of cost and partly because of certain administrative difficulties. No approach was made to subscribers to ascertain whether they were prepared to pay more for the posters. It was considered that the falling off of subscribers resulting from a large increase in costs would have more than offset the additional revenue and at the same time would have increased unit costs.

Legislative Programme

Mr Bryson:

n asked the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: -

  1. How many bills were introduced by the Government and how many were passed in the House of Representatives for (a) the period which ended in June, 1950, and (5) for the present period of sittings?
  2. How many bills were introduced by the Government and how many were passed in the Senate during each of the periods mentioned?
  3. What was the average time in hours taken to pass a bill in (a) the House of Representatives, and (6) the Senate?
Mr Menzies:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) For the period ended the 30th June, 1950, eighteen bills were introduced by the Government in the House of Representatives and eighteen were passed. The number of bills passed included one (the Social Service Consolidation) which was introduced in the Senate but did not include one (the Acts Interpretation) introduced in the House of Representatives. ( b ) For the period ended the 9th December, 1950, 61 bills were introduced by the Government in the House of Representatives and 67 were passed, the latter number including six bills which were introduced in the Senate. 2. (a) Eighteen hills were introduced by the Government in the Senate up to the 30th June, 1950, fifteen of which were duly passed. (6) Sixty-seven bills were introduced in the Senate up to the 8th December, 1950, of which 65 were passed. The reason for this apparent preponderance of legislation in the second half of the year was mainly due to the Government’s desire to grant as much time as possible to such controversial legislation as the Communist Party Dissolution Bill and because a good deal of the early period was taken up with the Address-in-reply.

  1. The average time taken to pass a bill in the House of Representatives during 1950 was four hours 22 minutes, and in the Senate one hour 55 minutes.

Office Accommodation.

Mr Peters:

s asked the Minister acting for the Minister for the Interior -

  1. Is it a fact that in Vaughan House, Melbourne, certain space was rented by his department and left unoccupied for many months?
  2. It so, what square footage was so rented, for how long, and at what cost to the taxpayers?
  3. What explanation is there for leaving so much space unoccupied for so long?
  4. Why was the Reporting Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department not directed to occupy the space referred to,before the lapse of so many months?
Mr Anthony:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. 2,783 square feet for approximately nine months; annual rental £1,263 6s. 8d.
  3. Delay in completing the work necessary to prepare the space for occupation for the special purposes of the Reporting Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department.
  4. The Reporting Branch was unable to occupy the space until the necessary work had been completed.

Public Service

Mr Menzies:

s. - On the 19th October, 1950, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) asked the following questions, upon notice -

  1. How many persons were employed by the Commonwealth at the 31st December, 1949, and 30th September, 1950?
  2. If there has been an increase in the number of employees, in what departments have increases occurred, and by how many?
  3. What departments have been abolished and how many employees were concerned?
  4. Were these employees dismissed or transferred to other departments?
  5. What departments were increased by transfers and by how many?

I now supply the following answers: -

  1. The total number of persons employed by public authorities of the Commonwealth was 196,798 in December, 1949, and 201,426 in September, 1950. Theseinclude employees in services such as the post office, railways, air transport, constructional works, scientific research, munition factories, &c., as well as those engaged in administration. These figures are collected by the Commonwealth Statistician and refer in the main to employees on the last pay-roll of the months stated. They cannot be dissected into departmental totals but are periodically dissected into functional groups.
  2. The number of employees engaged under the Public Service Act is recorded by the Public Service Board in departmental totals and comparative figures showing increases and decreases are shown in the attached statement as at the 31st December, 1949, and 30th September, 1950. The statement shows a net increase of 3,471 during this period, but this figure includes an increase of 5,205 in the Post Office which is of course expanding facilities for the public rapidly. There has been an overall decrease of 1,734 in other departments.
  3. In the period in question, two departments were abolished -

Department of Information on 22nd March, 1950 - 357 employees.

Ministry of Post-war Reconstruction on 12th January, 1950 - 1,547 employees.

One department was created, viz.: - Ministry of National Development on 16th March, 1950. In addition, the title of the Department of Supply and Development was altered to that of Department of Supply and the Departments of Snipping and Fuel and Transport were amalgamated into a single Department of Fuel, Shipping and Transport. The net effect of these changes was to reduce the number of departments by two. 4 and 5. Most employees in the two departments which were abolished were transferred to other departments. The actual staff movements from these two departments were -

It is understood that since the Short-wave Broadcasting Division was transferred to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the services of 49 employees have been terminated.

Mr Calwell:

asked the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: -

  1. How many officers were employed by the Department of Information at the time of ite dissolution T
  2. How many such officers were transferred’ to other departments; and what were the departments to which they were transferred?
  3. How many such officers are now employed in the departments to which they were transferred ?
  4. What savings were effected in man-power and money from the dissolution of the department to the 30th November last?
Mr Menzies:

s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - . - 1. At the time of ite dissolution the Department of Information employed 357 staff, com- prising 300 Australian-based staff and 57 locally engaged employees overseas.

  1. Of the 300 Australian-based staff, 273 were transferred to other departments or Commonwealth agencies. Transfers were to Department of the Interior, 163; to Australian Broadcasting Commission, 94; to vacancies in various departments, 16; total, 273. (Twelve of the 94 transferred to the Australian Broadcasting Commission were later transferred to the Department of External Affairs). Of the remaining 27, eleven resigned and sixteen were retrenched. The 57 locally engaged employees overseas were brought under the control of* the Department of the Interior.
  2. 160 Australian-based staff and 37 locally engaged staff overseas are now employed by the Department of the Interior in the News and Information Bureau. Three locally engaged staff in London are . employed by the Prime Minister’s Department . and two by the Australian Consulate in New York, following the transfer of libraries from the Department of the Interior to these agencies. The Australian Broadcasting Commission -advises that 48 former Department of Information staff are now employed in the Australian ‘ Broadcasting Commission. Eleven are employed in the Department of External Affairs, out of the twelve transferred from the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
  3. The savings effected- in man-power from the- dissolution of the department to 30th November, 1950, were: - Australian-based staff, 80; locally engaged staff overseas, 1-6; total, 95. These figures include some staff who have been absorbed into sections which are distinct from the organization of the former Department of Information. A figure for the savings in money resulting from these reductions in employment and the closing down of offices and restrictions in broadcasts is not supplied. This’ information could be prepared only with considerable difficulty. However, employment figures show that the pay-roll of staff of the former Department of Information hae been reduced by more than a quarter.
Mr Costa:

asked the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: -

  1. Is it a fact that approximately 2,000 women employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department and’ other federal departments suffered a loss of pay amounting to 13s, 9d. on last pay-day?
  2. Should this sum have been paid to them for cost of living adjustment due for the first full pay in November?
  3. Is it a fact that the stoppage of this amount was due to an instruction issued by the Public -Service Board? If so, did the board collaborate with the Government before issuing this instruction?
  4. Have some of these women been performing* exactly the same kind of -work as men in the Mail Branches of the Postmaster-General’s Department at the same rates of pay for the past nine years?
  5. Will his Government take action to restore the pay and conditions enjoyed for years by these women under a Labour government?
Mr Menzies:

s. - The cost of living adjustment to the basic wage, payable from the first full pay period in November was withheld from certain female employees - in the PostmasterGeneral’s . Department. The employees concerned were some 3,000 females employed in positions which were previously occupied by females and who have been paid male rates, or a percentage of male rates, under decisions of the Women’s Employment Board. This action was taken by the Government through the Public Service Board pending certain consultations with the High Council of Public Service Organizations and the Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Unions. Agreement was later reached with these bodies that - (1) In the absence of any major change in circumstances, females occupying Fourth Division positions and whose employment commenced or commences prior to 14th December, 1950, will continue to be paid on the basis of the Women’s Employment Board Determinations whilst they remain in the respective positions occupied at 14th December, 1950, and (2) females who commence employment in Fourth Division positions on or subsequent to 14th December, 1950, will he paid 75 per cent, of the -basic wage for males plus the full margin for skill where they are equal in efficiency to males and are doing the same work.

Mr Costa:

asked the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: - _ 1. Will the Government give favorable consideration to the granting of proportionate furlough to officers of the Commonwealth Public Service -who have completed more than 40 years’ service,. having in mind some officers who have completed BO years’ continuous service, hut under the existing regulations receive no furlough for the ten years’ service in excess of 40 years?

  1. Will the Government favorably consider the granting of a bonus to officers of the Commonwealth Public Service who, on retirement, have an accumulation of sick leave to their credit?
Mr Menzies:

s. - These proposals were considered by the Government and it was decided that neither of them should be adopted.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 March 1951, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.