20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply been directed to the fact that the New Occidental mine at Cobar, in New South “Wales, which has produced nearly 1,000 tons of copper a year, is in danger of closing down owing to the unsatisfactory price of local copper! Having regard to the world-wide shortage of copper and the importance of increasing the production of that metal in Australia, can the Minister inform me whether the Government is prepared to take any action to keep this mine in production? I point out that the closing of the mine would result in a loss of copper production and have a serious effect upon the homes and lives of the residents of Cobar.
– I understand that some inquiry has already been made by the Minister for National Development and his department into the financial position and activities of the company which operates the New Occidental mine at Cobar. I am informed that the New South Wales Mines Department, in con- junction with the Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, is investigating the price of copper, but, of course, the honorable member is aware that such an inquiry will not be restricted to the price of copper produced by the New Occidental mine but must relate to the price of that metal generally. When those investigations have been concluded, I shall be able to inform the honorable member of the position. I have some knowledge of the company to which he has referred, and I understand that one of its difficulties is that it is faced with the necessity to incur large capital expenditure on new workings. If large sums of money are not spent for that purpose, the existing workings may peter out. I do not desire to be dogmatic about this matter, although I understand that the company is confronted with this difficulty. However, the Bureau of Mineral Resources Geology and Geophysics is examining the position, and the honorable member may rest assured that its help will be forthcoming if it can be of assistance in any way.
– The Minister for External Affairs announced in a statement recently that he proposed to increase the strength of Australian representation in South-East Asia. Has the right honorable gentleman any additional information to give to the House on that subject?
– I have no additional information to give to the House at the moment, but I hope to be able to make a statement on that subject within 48 hours that will reflect the Government’s concern at the deteriorated situation in South-East Asia generally, which is of first-class importance to Australia.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture given his blessing or approval to Hie plan for a wide-scale switch-over from butter production for export purposes to the manufacture of processed milk for export to what are called the free markets in Eastern countries, and other markets that have been supplied from the United States of America* Has he given his endorsement to moves by groups of American financiers to invest in Australia in the production of processed milk for export? If so, is his attitude^ dictated by his despair of obtaining by negotiation with the United Kingdom Government satisfactory prices for Australian dairy products? If the developments to which I have referred continue, is it likely that the export of butter from Australia to the United Kingdom will virtually cease within the next six months ?
– Personally, I consider that the trend to a switch over from the production of butter to the production of processed milk is most regrettable. However, such a change is inevitable for two reasons. The first reason is to be found in the insistence of the United Kingdom Government upon taking full advantage of the contract that was made by the Government of which the honorable member was a supporter, which requires Australian dairy-farmers to deliver to the United Kingdom their entire surplus of butter, less some modest quantities, until 1955 at prices that show a progressively increasing loss, which already amounts to 7id. per lb. The second reason is to be found in the fact that, during the period of office of the former Government, certain American interests were permitted to establish great condenseries that have been able to outbid Australian, butter factories for needed supplies. Those interests were allowed to establish plant in the important dairying district that 1 represent, for example. I have been obliged to face the fact that, in those circumstances, the Australian co-operative butter factories owned by the farmers must either fold up and close their doors or be put on a basis of equal competition with the American interests to which permits were issued by the Labour Government.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister which I shall preface by stating that I have had representations from the Gympie Chamber of Commerce to- the effect that 36,000 dairy cattle have died in that district and that financial assistance is required. As this would involve either financial assistance to replace stock or financial assistance by way of drought relief, or both, will the Prime Minister give an assurance that financial assistance can be given in relation to replacement of stock, and will he clarify the position by stating whether a recommendation from the State is necessary before drought relief assistance can be provided? Will the Commonwealth give £1 for £1 assistance along with the State?
– It might perhaps be of advantage if I were to prepare an answer in writing and make it available to-morrow morning.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether his department is preparing plans and specifications for the reconstruction of Smithton aerodrome according to the standards that arts required by D.C.3 aircraft. Has there been any delay in the completion of such plans? If so, what is the reason for the delay and when will the plans be completed ?
– The department is at present preparing plans for the Smithton aerodrome. There had been a delay due to the fact that the Tasmanian Department of Transport notified my department in December, 1950, that it did not have sufficient funds to proceed with the work. Therefore, my department has devoted its attention in the meantime to aerodromes for which funds are available. Work on the plans for Smithton aerodrome is proceeding at the moment.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation, on how many occasions since permanent runways have been provided at Fairbairn Aerodrome, Canberra, aircraft engaged in civil operations have been prevented because of fog, low cloud or other causes of low visibility, from landing at that aerodrome? What airports are aircraft diverted to when they are unable to land at Canberra? What is the air mileage to such airports?
– Obviously, I cannot answer, offhand, the question that the honorable member has asked. I shall regard it as being on the notice-paper.
– Order ! There is no provision in the Standing Orders under which a Minister may regard a question as being on the notice-paper. A question must be asked upon notice or without notice.
– I shall adopt another course to deal with the matter. I shall furnish the honorable member with a written reply.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether he was correctly reported recently as having said that moans about housing shortages made him tired ? If the right honorable gentleman was correctly reported, will he remove the shroud that blinds him to the intolerable conditions under which thousands of Australians are being forced to live? Is he aware that numerous families are living in gun pits, stables, shacks, drains and similar sub-standard accommodation and are unable to obtain houses because of the Government’s credit restriction programme? Will the Prime Minister give consideration to the easing of credit restrictions in relation to house construction, especially for the benefit of applicants for finance who are in permanent employment?
– As the statement attributed to me was a sheer invention, the remainder of the honorable member’s questions are mere propaganda.
– The question that I wish to ask the Minister for Social Services relates to his statement that the £27,000,000 allocated by the War Service Homes Division for war service homes this financial year has been expended and that no further allocations will be made for three and a half months. Have the least deserving or necessitous cases been left within this period of hiatus or hasthe matter been left to chance? Why has the Minister drawn the conclusion that the estimate of £27,000,000 must be adhered to at all costs? Has he any intention in his future budgeting of allowing for the fact that building costs are still rising and that, consequently, an estimate made at the beginning of a year is almost certain to be invalid?
– I intend later, with the approval of the House, to make a short statement on this subject. However, some of the comments made by the honorable member are incorrect. He purported to quote me as having said that the war service homes programme has been modified because the amount of £27,000,000 that had been allocated for this year, not by the department but by the Parliament when it approved of the budget, had been expended. I have made no such statement. The honorable gentleman asked whether, in the future, the department would make allowance for the fact that increasing costs would cause extra expenditure. I point out to him that the temporary set-back to one section of the war service homes programme, which I shall deal with in a statement at a later stage, has not been caused by increasing costs. The remarkable fact is that the applications that have been made in enormous numbers, particularly during the last six weeks, have been mainly for financial assistance for the purchase of existing occupied properties, for which the loan limit is £2,000.
– The question that I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs arises from the speech that the right honorable gentleman made in this House last night.
– Order ! I do not think that the honorable member can ask a question which concerns a matter dealt with during the current session.
– My question refers to a matter that arose in a debate that has concluded.
– Order ! Itis a question concerned with a happening during the current session. If the honorable member wishes to raise it he should do so on the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I can frame my question differently. I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he has any information to give this House on the important consequences of certain remarks made by some honorable members opposite during proceedings in this House of -which he is aware and to which he has referred?
– I think that I know what is behind the honorable member’s question.
-Order! I remind the Minister that he must not introduce debatable matter in answering questions. In answering a question he cannot refer to matters which are the subject of debate.
– Perhaps this could be said, now that the matter has been raised-
– I rise to a point of order. Is it proper, Mr. Speaker, for a Minister to answer a question that has not been definitely put to him? Is it in order for him to answer what he thinks the questioner intended to ask?
– Order ! I am afraid that that is nothing new in this House.
– I was going to say that frequently Ministers have to disentangle a question and use a great deal of native imagination in order to frame an intelligent and an intelligible reply. In this instance I believe that the honorable member who asked the question has in mind the propaganda effect in the outside world, particularly in Soviet Russia, of remarks that have been made from time to time in this House.
– How does the Minister know that ?
– I know it because I get regular reports of broadcasts over Radio Moscow, and I know that the Russians frequently make use of, and applaud, statements that have been made by honorable members of the Opposition.
– Order ! The Minister is trespassing on debatable ground. If the Minister wishes to proceed along the lines that he has chosen he should do it in a speech and not in answer to a question.
– I defer to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I merely say that I expect within the course of a few days, that Radio Moscow and Pravda-*
– I rise to a point of order. It is obvious that the Minister is trying to get around your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and introduce debatable matter in answer to a question. He is so consistently defying you that you should sit him down.
-Order! I do not desire the assistance of the honorable member for Melbourne. I point out that endeavours to get around my ruling in this House are sometimes a pastime and at other times even a business. I think the Minister might leave this matter until he is able to address the House.
– I defer to your ruling, Mr, Speaker, but I want to assure you that I am not engaging in either a pastime or a business. I am seriously attempting to answer a question, the purport of which, I believe, I understood. I fully expect that within the next 24 hours Pravda and Radio Moscow will report what happened last night in this House.
– Order !
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have repeatedly expressed themselves as favouring democratic government, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to delay the passage through another place of the bill to ratify the Japanese peace treaty?
– Order! Any reference to proceedings pending in another place is entirely out of order. The question so far is completely out. of order.
– Perhaps I could re-frame my question. In view of the fact that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have repeatedly expressed themselves as favoring democratic government, will the Prime Minister delay the further steps that are necessary for the passage of the bill to ratify the Japanese peace treaty?
-Order! The only other step possible must be taken in the Senate.
– There is the royal assent.
– The honorable member must not make reference to the the proceedings that are pending in another place. The question is out of order so far even in its re-framed context.
– I shall re-frame it again. In view of the fact that the Prime Minister and his colleagues have repeatedly expressed themselves as favoring demo cratic government, will the Prime Minister take steps to arrange for the holding of a referendum before the ratification of the peace treaty has been agreed to and to delay the matter until such time as war widows, mothers and relatives of deceased ex-servicemen, prisoners of war-
– I rise to order. When I was endeavouring most conscientiously a few moments ago to reply to a legitimate question, you Mr. Speaker, reminded rae quite properly - and I bow to your ruling - that no referonce to a recent debate in this House was in order. I think that it is well within your memory, and very recent memory, that the question that the honorable member for East Sydney is attempting to inspissate in question time arises directly after matters with which the House dealt only a few hours ago.
– I have twice ruled the honorable member for East Sydney out of order and so far he has not put his question in order except, perhaps, in the first part of it.
– Cannot I now be
Afforded the opportunity to part of it?
– I have ruled the honorable member’s re-framed question out of order.
– I take it that up to a point it was in order.
-It was not.
– Why was I not told so?
– Order !
– I address a question to the Minister for the Interior with reference to the noise that occurs in front of Parliament House from the use of motor cycles and other .vehicles with open exhausts. Party meetings are often held in the rooms overlooking the main thoroughfare at the front of the House. I ask if the Minister will take steps in conjunction with the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council to ensure that this nuisance is eliminated?
– I assure the honorable member for New England that steps will be taken along the lines that he has suggested. I shall have the matter thoroughly investigated by my department and by the police and I shall try to arrange that there will be no such interference in the future.
– Can the Prime
Minister inform the House whether it is a fact that the Government proposes to provide for an increase in the retail price of sugar by 1½d. or 2d. per lb ? If so, will a statement be issued for the information of honorable members setting out the increased cost of sugar production, the extra revenue that the price rise will yield and the proportion of the increased revenue which will go to the cane-growers, the sugar mills and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited.
– As I indicated yesterday in answer to another honorable member, proposals for an increase in the price of sugar have been made. No decision has been reached by the Cabinet and indeed the matter has not been before the Cabinet. When it is before the Cabinet, the considerations that have been put forward by the honorable member will be taken into account.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether the decision of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to abandon our famous Australian anthem Advance Australia Fair, as the theme tune for the commission’s news sessions and replace it with another tune, was made with -his knowledge and consent? Is it a fact that Mr. Boyer, the chairman of the commission, had been attempting for a number of years to perpetrate this anti-Australian move, which outrages the sentiments of all true Australians? Is it also a fact that royalties in respect of the new theme tune are payable to a member of the commission’s staff, and, if so, will the Minister advise the House who that member is and the amount to which he will be entitled as a result of the decision of the very superior persons who constitute the Australian Broadcasting Commission and who have such a marked anti- Australian outlook?
– I consider that it is disgraceful that persons of the eminence of those who have been appointed to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and most of them, incidentally, by the preceding Labour Government, should be accused of having an anti-Australian outlook. I completely repudiate the allegation so far as my experience of those persons is concerned. The replacement of Advance Australia Fair as the prelude to the news was under consideration by the commission long before this Government took office.
– And we refused to sanction it.
– The decision to find an alternative melody to precede the news was made in September, 1949, three months before this Government took office.
– No, it was not!
– In the meantime the commission has been engaged in endeavouring to find a suitable theme. It is not the practice in any other country to precede news sessions by a song
Or dance or anything else of that kind. The news is usually introduced by a fanfare of the kind that the commission has adopted. Whilst the theme that the commission has adopted may cause differences of opinion among people, it has not, so far as I am concerned evoked much protest because I have received only two letters on the matters. In my opinion the honorable member for Melbourne, adopted a completely improper course-
– Order ! The honorable member for Melbourne is not the subject of the question.
– Yes, sir, he is.
– I rule that he is not.
– 1 bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I am not aware of the identity of the person who receives the royalties in respect of the new theme tune, but I shall have inquiries made and let the honorable member for Watson know the result.
– As the Minister for External Affairs receives reports of broadcasts from Moscow Radio, can he inform the House whether statements which are made by members of the Parliament and other public men in Australia are used for propaganda purposes by the Russian broadcasting system and newspapers? If such statements are used for propaganda purposes, can he give the House some instances?
– Moscow Radio frequently makes references to Australia, and, of course, is not slow to pick up any statements or reports of actions by individuals in this country which, in its opinion, tend to support the Russian ideology and attitude of mind. I shall read some extracts from recent broadcasts, which we receive in a condensed form, and ascertain whether any material in them may be of interest to the honorable member for Gwydir, or more particularly, to Opposition members.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any information to impart to the House on why the recommendation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to change the tune used as the prelude to the national news was so obstinately resisted prior to the recent change from Advance Australia Fair to the Majestic Fanfare ? Does the Minister consider that the continual use of Advance Australia Fair tended to cheapen that anthem in the minds of thi’ growing Australian population ?
– Support for, or opposition to, the playing of Advance Australia Fair before the national news depends upon the musical taste of each listener. I believe that a big majority of the listeners prefer a different tune. Incidentally, I have learned that the composer of the Majestic Fanfare i.= an Englishman, and that no member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission or of its staff receives any benefit from the playing of it.
– I address a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
Conversation being audible,
– Order ! I ask the honorable gentleman to resume his seat until the House comes to order. It is altogether too rowdy.
Mr. Failes having been given the call again,
– I ask my question in the interests of producers who desire to enter the pig-raising industry but who are experiencing difficulties in obtaining feed wheat. The Australian Wheat Board has issued an instruction that pig-raisers must obtain their requirements for the coming year from the sources from which they obtained them during the preceding twelve months. In view of that instruction producers who wish to enter the pigraising industry and who have not previously purchased feed wheat are at a loss to know from where, they can obtain supplies. On the 20th February, the Australian Wheat Board issued the following instruction : -
In order to keep the total sales for 1952 within the limit of 20,000,000 bushels, the Board decided that issues in New South Wales should he limited to 10,000,000 bushels. In order to achieve this, it was necessary to cut feed wheat issues in that State by 12$ per cent.; this is being done
In New South Wales, a rationing committee hae been set up by Mr. Graham (Minister for Agriculture), comprising the Agricultural Expert on Poultry, the Expert on Pig Raising, and Mr. Hamblin, together with our State Superintendent. The advice of this committee will be taken in regard to monthly issues of wheat within the quota limit.
In view of that instruction by the board, from what source does the Minister consider a producer, who wishes to enter the pig-raising industry, can obtain feed wheat ?
– It is most desirable that a person who desires to enter the pigraising industry should be able to buy feed, and I shall interest myself in the matter that the honorable member has raised. Feed wheat is now being rationed in New South Wales as a result of the fact that the States rejected a certain proposal by the Australian Government, which would have raised the price of feed wheat, and suggested, as an alternative, an arrangement which involved the Australian Government in the payment of a subsidy on wheat used as stock feed. In order that we might be able to judge our liability under such a proposal, I asked the State Ministers for Agriculture to inform me of the total quantity of feed wheat that should be made available. On the basis of information in their possession, they replied that 26,000,000 bushels would be adequate, and provision was made in the relevant legislation for the allocation of that quantity by quota among the States. New South Wale3, with the State Government’s approval, was allotted 10,000,000 bushels. The New South Wales Minister for Agriculture should have known, during the period that the negotiations were proceeding that the crop in his State would have been of an order that would require him, within a few weeks, to ask that an additional 8,000,000 bushels of wheat be made available to New South Wales. There is a shortage of wheat in New South Wales, but it was not disclosed when these negotiations were taking place. Consequently the State Minister has been obliged to ask that wheat be rationed in New South Wales. Rationing is now being conducted on the lines set out in the instruction of the Australian Wheat Board from which the honorable member has quoted. I again assure him that I shall interest myself in the matter because I believe that it is most desirable that persons who propose to enter the pig-raising industry should be enabled to obtain supplies of feed.
– I understand that the Australian Agricultural Council discussed at its meeting this week the position in respect of the payment by the Australian Wheat Board of freight on wheat shipped to Tasmania. Can the Minister give me any information on the subject ?
– State acts of parliament authorize the Australian Wheat Board to charge a higher price for stock feed wheat than the basic legislation provides for if the board pays interstate freight charges. Upon paying such charges, the board becomes entitled to a Commonwealth subsidy. The State legislation does not require the board to pay the freight but gives it the option of doing so. There has been a dispute about the equity of this arrangement, and the board informed me a couple of weeks ago that it did not propose to continue to pay freight after the 1st March. I pointed out to the board that, if it ceased to pay freight, the only result would bp a great loss to wheat-growers and that the present position could be changed only by the enactment of State legislation. I reminded it that the State parliaments were not in session. As a result of those representations, the board has decided that it will continue to pay the freight charges foi some unspecified period of time.
– Will the Postmaster-General inform me why his department has cancelled present and forward contracts with private industry as far in advance as to cover works that would normally be undertaken next year an. even in the following year? Is he aware that, because of those cancellations of orders for equipment, production lines that have machinery and plant for the manufacture of technical and other equipment required for his department and for defence purposes have been idle for some weeks, and that the operatives, who are skilled and proficient in their trades, have been placed by private enterprise on non-profitable work in the hope that the Government will shortly lodge defence orders with them? Is the Minister also aware that the employers have reached the point of exasperation, and that some skilled operatives have been, and others are to be, dismissed? Will the Postmaster-General give urgent consideration to the restoration of the cancelled contracts until defence orders are available to the industries that normally produce the materials for his department so as to ensure the retention of the skilled operatives and the maintenance of the production lines that are so essential ito Australia’s defence programme ?
– The honorable gentleman has made out a general case which is not applicable to all contractors to the Postmaster-General’s Department, who number many hundreds. If he will give me particulars of the cases to which he has referred I shall ascertain the reasons for the cancellation of the contracts.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, who is representing the Treasurer, a question regarding the unfair distribution of the proceeds of the petrol tax to the States and to local government bodies, which are responsible for the repair of roads. I particularly have in mind roads that have been severely damaged by heavy vehicles which transport steel and other products from the heavy industries at Port Kembla. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether it is a fact that roads within the area of Great Wollongong are in a shocking condition as a result of the damage by those heavy vehicles and the inability of the local council to finance the re-building of them? Will he make a greater percentage of the proceeds of the petrol tax, which is paid in part by the owners of those heavy lorries, available to the Wollongong City Council to enable it to repair the damaged roads?
– The matter of the allocation of the proceeds of the petrol tax to the States arises from time to time. The fact is that the present Government is paying a greater share of the revenue from the petrol tax to the States than was paid by any previous government in the history of Australia.
– In view of the hardships being suffered by the parents of large families as a result of the everincreasing cost of living, will the Minister for Social Services give consideration to the granting of a higher rate of endowment for each child in a family in excess of the third ?
– It is not the practice of Ministers to reply to questions which involve government policy, hut I shall be pleased to consider the honorable gentleman’s suggestion.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether the Australian Government proposes to negotiate another dollar loan in the near future? If his answer to my question is in the affirmative, will he assure the House that reasonable part of such a loan will be made available to State instrumentalities for the purchase of essential plant and equipment of American origin ? Will some degree of priority be accorded to the Electricity Commission of Victoria in order that earth-moving equipment, crawler tractors, and open-cut mining plant may be purchased for essential works at Yallourn, Morwell and Kiewa?
– I cannot add anything to the statement that I have already made about the prospective dollar loan. I have indicated that some members of a mission from the International Bank have arrived in Australia and that others are expected here shortly. The honorable gentleman is doubtless aware that the last dollar loan was allocated for the kind of purposes to which he has referred, and I am sure that the result has been of great advantage to State governments, State instrumentalities and local authorities. We shall naturally adopt a similar principle in the allocation of another dollar loan, because we attach great importance to the work carried out by such authorities.
– By way of preface to the question that I wish to ask the Prime Minister, I point out that on the 17th October last I placed a question on the notice-paper which was directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service but did not receive a reply to it until yesterday. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I make the comment that it is regrettable that it is the Minister for Labour and National Service who is involved because he has invariably extended the greatest courtesy to honorable members in replying to their questions. However, it is preposterous that an honorable member should have to wait from the 17th October until the 27th February for a reply to a question that he has asked either without notice or upon notice. Will the Prime Minister be good enough to discuss the matter with his Ministers in order to ensure that a respetition of such delay shall not occur?
– I do not know the nature of the question asked by the honorable member, but I have no doubt that, if there was some delay on the part of my colleague’s department, there was warrant for it. I assure the honorable member for Herbert that the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who is in charge of the business of the House, never lets us forget the state of the question list. If Ministers wanted to forget that there were questions on tha notice-paper, I am sure that the VicePresident of the Executive Council would remind them of their duty with great regularity every week.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the recent decision of the Commonwealth Bank to discontinue its practice of keeping current accounts without charge was made by the Commonwealth Bank Board. If so, will the right honorable gentleman table a copy of the minutes of the board meeting at which the decision was made?
– I do not know how the decision was made, but I shall do what I can to ascertain the facts.
– In view of the many rumours and speculations that are current concerning the postponed Royal visit to Australia, will the Prime Minister inform the House when he will be in a position to issue .any information about the likely date of the visit?
– I am not in a position to tell the House when I shall be able to make a definite announcement but, as soon as any official information becomes available, I shall be happy to convey it to the public.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the Joint Coal Board proposes to guarantee to coalmine owners a profit of 6s. a ton in order to increase the production of coal? In view of the decision of the board to request the miners to extract pillars by mechanical means, to which mine workers have objected unless some system of stowage for safety purposes is used, I also ask the Prime Minister whether he will give consideration to financing a delegation of miners to travel overseas in order to inspect at first hand the process of extracting pillar coal by mechanical means in conjunction with a system of stowage? I am sure that, if the right honorable gentleman would do so, the miners would agree, if they saw efficient safety precautions applied in other countries, to adopt the same methods in Australia.
– I can neither affirm nor deny any of the statements that the honorable member has made. I shall refer his remarks to the Minister for National Development and ask him to consider the matter.
Format, Motion fob Adjournment.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received from the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The increased volume and cost of importations permitted by the Government which Kas caused unemployment in the manufacturing industries and a serious reduction in our overseas funds.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported? /Sight honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– It is of the utmost importance to those who are employed in the textile and clothing industries, and also to the employers in those industries, that the Government of Australia shall immediately announce clearly and definitely its policy in relation to those industries and the measures whereby it intends to implement that policy. The numerous statements that have been made in this House with reference to dismissals from the textile and clothing industries have not been denied by members of the Government. At the beginning of this year, one of every four persons normally employed in our textile factories had been dismissed. The situation has been getting progressively worse. Clothing factories are working short time, and many textile factories throughout Australia have closed their doors. Many more are in danger of doing so. I do not intend to repeat the figures which relate to unemployment in those industries. I merely point out that the employment position is continually becoming worse. In the press last Tuesday this head-line appeared - “ Textile workers sacked “. The article that followed read, in part -
Maitland! Burlington Mills Australia to-day began to lay off 300 of the HOO employees at the Rutherford textile factory.
Such occurrences are being reported right throughout Australia. Is Government policy responsible for them? Is the Government determined to strangle the textile industry of Australia and close the doors of our clothing factories? I have only the remarks of honorable members on the Government side to guide me in forming a conclusion, and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) said only a few days ago in this House-
– Order ! The honorable member will not be in order in quoting from the debates of the present session.
– I am speaking about the attitude of the Government. Whether these statements were made during the course of the debate that took place recently or whether they represent the expressed opinion of the Government generally, they have been made by honorable members on the Government side. Such remarks indicate a difference of opinion in Government circles on what constitutes the policy of the Government in regard to the textile industry. One honorable member has said that it is Government policy to close textile mills in order that the employees in those factories shall be diverted elsewhere. He was emphatic that the textile and clothing industries are not essential, the Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) is of the opinion that the textile industry of Australia is not an essential industry, that it is a light or non-essential industry, and that the people employed in it should be diverted to other occupations. The Government is apparently of the opinion that the diversion should be effected by allowing into the country from overseas vast quantities of textiles. That policy is being carried out.
In 1939 cotton and linen goods were imported into Australia to the value of 5,000,000. In the first four months of 1951-52 £27,000,000 worth of such goods was imported. In 1939 £2,000,000 worth of silk and rayon goods was imported and in the first four months of 1951-52 £12,000,000 worth was imported. Knitted and lock stitch woollen goods to the value of £300,000 were imported in 1939, and in 1951-52 the imports of these goods were valued at £1,300,000. In 1939 £356,000 worth of towelling was imported and in the first four months of 1951-52 over £1,000,000 worth was’ imported. Forty-three thousand pounds’ worth of stockings was imported in 1939, and in the first four months of 1951-52 £900,000 worth. During the year 1939 a total quantity of about £10,000,000 worth of textiles was imported into Australia, whereas in the first four months of the current financial year more than £45,000,000 worth was imported. If importation continues at that rate more than £120,000,000 worth will have been imported during the year 1951-52 compared with £10,000,000 worth imported in 1939. If my figures are at fault I challenge the Government to indicate where they are wrong.
During 1939 the Australian textile and clothing trades were able to compete in the local market against overseas goods. They are not now able to compete. Is that because the Australian industry has become more inefficient, or is it because it has to carry higher costs?
If it is because of the latter reason, then it is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that the higher prices are reflected in higher tariffs in order to protect the country and its living stan dards against the effect of cheaper labour conditions overseas. To-day, dumping is occurring in Australia. One headline that appeared recently in the press was “ Nylons to go to dumping inquiry “. Another was “Dumping charges on nylons “. What is occurring in regard to nylon stockings is occurring in connexion with other articles produced by the clothing and textile industries.
– Where can one buy thesecheap textiles?
– Imported goods cant be bought more cheaply than Australian-, goods in most of the retail shops in Australia. The Minister for Labour and* National Service (Mr. Holt), who has just interjected, pointed out recently, not during a debate-
– Order ! The honorable member cannot refer to debates of the current session.
– This did not occur during a debate, it occurred, I think, in answer to a question.
-It is still out of order.
– I have some difficulty in recollecting whether this incident occurred during the present sessional period or at some time in the distant’ past. I take the greatest interest in all that the Minister says, and consequently I remember practically all that he has said since I entered the House. In Great Britain each manufacturer has a quota that he is allowed to sell on the home market and a quota that he is required to sell overseas. In effect, the British Government say to the textile and clothing manufacturers, “ You are entitled to sell so much here in Britain, and you must sell a certain quantity overseas. The price of the goods that you sell in England has been fixed at such and such a price which will enable you to sell overseas at the cost of production or less. It is a Paterson butter scheme in relation to textiles and it amounts to dumping. That is ii n unfair practice. I am not objecting to what is being done in Britain. I am objecting to the failure of this Government -to protect Australian, industry. Recently 5,000 dozen shirts were imported from Hong Kong. It was stated that they were manufactured in Japan, were smuggled to Hong Kong, obtained the benefit of British preference and were then sent to Australia. When investigations were made the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) admitted that the shirts might have been manufactured in Hong Kong but that the materials were certainly of Japanese origin. A firm purchased the lot so that its industry would not be dislocated, but immediately it had purchased the 5,000 dozen, a further 10,000 -dozen arrived from the same source. Is not the Government going to protect Australian industry against that practice ?
Australian industries are on shore - time and they should be protected against the importation of Japanese goods through British settlements. As a result of importations, Australia’s overseas funds are diminishing. If this Government agreed to the manufacture in Australia of all the goods that could be made here; it would have vast sums available overseas with which to buy essential items that cannot be manufactured in Australia or oan be made here only with great difficulty. Australia’s overseas funds are being dissipated in the purchase of textiles to ‘ the amount of about £120,000,000 this year. As a result, Australia cannot import goods to that value which are not manufactured in Australia. Those textiles’ that* are now being imported should be made in Australia by Australians.’ Because of the importations, Australian workers are on the scrapheap, and; machines and factories are idle. The’ Government should not side-track this is’sue.-‘ According to the interests of honorable members on the Government side, within’ their own electorates, they either shed’ tears over the textile industry or declare arrogantly that it should be strangled. Honorable members on this side of the House ask the Government to enunciate a policy on dumping, and on imports’ from cheap labour markets. We want government action that will ensure that the textile industry which is needed in war and in peace shall not be destroyed. Already immense quantities of goods are held in Melbourne and Sydney shops. [Extension of time granted.] If the Government takes action now, men who have been put - out of employment will not regain their jobs until those goods have been sold. An investigation of 51 mantle and costume factories showed that thm had 190 per cent, more goods than they held normally. In 21 knitted outerwear factories there was 199 per cent, more goods than were normally held and that story was repeated throughout the industry. The quantity of goods on hand ranged from 75 per cent, to 373 per cent, more than the quantity that was normally held. Those goods must be used and the stocks that are held in the shops must be sold before the evils that have followed the inactivity of the Government in relation to the textile industry are remedied.
– There was a time when an adjournment motion in this House was backed up by a speaker who understood his facts, could place a case which might give the Government some cause for concern and generally could put before the House and the people a matter of great urgency. The honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) who has initiated the debate for the Opposition mouthed a series of figures and statements which he had culled from numerous newspapers and other sources without making any attempt to collate them. He has not established a case. He did not deal with the London funds position or give any reasons for events about which he complained. He simply stated, in effect, that if the Government made it possible for every manufacturer in Australia to manufacture all the goods that are wanted in Australia, we should not be in the position of having to import goods. Does the honorable member believe that Australia should not carry on any trade outside its own shores but should be able to sell its primary production overseas, establish huge credit balances and never be able to use them? The honorable member for Burke knows very well that the flood of imports to which he has referred would never have occurred if Australian manufacturers had been able to supply the demand within Australia. He knows that they are working to full capacity because the previous Labour Government claimed that it had effected full employment and yet the demand could not be supplied. Does the honorable member suggest that Australia should not import goods? He has charged this Government with having permitted dumping. He knows that that is a deliberate misstatement and that the machinery of the Department of Trade and Customs is such that it could and would prevent dumping if it were shown to exist. I believe that the industry itself would take the necessary steps to protect its interests if the dumping of goods was evident. The fact is that the supply of goods has not been equal to the demand.
– Rubbish !
– The honorable member says “ rubbish “. He mould understand that the Government does not use import licences for protective purposes. The only reason for its use of such licences is to protect our London funds; it has no other purpose. I shall have more to say later about those funds. Let me try to put things in their proper perspective, because I consider it to be necessary that industry itself should understand the position. It would be foolish to deny that the volume of imports has increased. There is no use in blinking the fact that such an increase has occurred, and I do not want to hedge on it. in 1949-50 our imports were to the value of £536,000,000; in 1950-51, £742,000,000; and in the first seven months of 1951-52, £651,000,000. Those figures reveal an extraordinarily large increase of imports. But the House and the country must understand that it was not entirely the result of government action but the result also of internal demand for the commodities concerned and of an attempt on the part of the business community to satisfy that demand. It is perfectly true that the Government encouraged imports of goods of particular types. For instance, in 1950-51 - and I again ask the House to relate this with the state of our London funds - 44 per cent, of our imports were of materials for building, rural industries and manufacture, and 28 per cent, were for equipment for the use of Australian producers and for the road, rail and transport industries generally. With the permission of honorable members I shall incor porate in Hansard a table in relation to the class of imports. It is as follows : -
The arrival of those goods in Australia produced the result that the Government had expected. It had a general antiinflation effect on our economy by helping to remove bottlenecks in production and to increase the general productive efficiency of our secondary industries, by providing competition for those industries. The Government took certain action on imports in conformity with the measures taken in relation to its antiinflationary policy. For instance, it allowed the importation of machinery to a degree that would not compete with the Australian manufacturers of machinery, but that was necessary to assist in increasing our industrial production, not only to augment our defence potential, but also to assist our general economic situation. Honorable members will recall that the Government negotiated an international loan of 100,000,000 dollars. That was another method by which it sought to stimulate Australian industry. Honorable members will also recall the subsidies on coal and prefabricated houses. The Government took these steps as a part of its policy to increase the supply of goods that were in heavy demand.
– Without discrimination ?
– Yes. Now let us turn to the second point that has been raised by honorable members opposite, on the subject of unemployment. It is strange that the Opposition should twit us in relation to unemployment, because its record when in office was a rather sorry one. I do not wish to delve into the past with regard to that record, because the House and the country are well acquainted with it. I remind honorable members opposite that in August last the percentage of unemployment was .6, the lowest in our history. I deny that the Government’s policy and actions in respect of imports has caused unemployment. The figures in relation to unemployment which have been given to the House by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), and which I hope he will supplement later in the debate, showed that registered unemployed persons numbered 2,821, of which total 2,361, whose idleness was seasonal only, were in Queenesland. I shall not deny that there have been changes of occupations. As a matter of fact, the Government’s policy has been to attempt to transfer workers from light to heavy and essential industries, and it has proved effective. 1 remind honorable members that on the 15th February there were still 92,107 vacancies for jobs waiting to be filled. They are still waiting to be filled. So do not let us have any talk about unemployment. There are no signs of general unemployment. In New South Wales thousands of people have taken employment with the railways, tramways and general transport services which formerly had the greatest difficulty in securing labour. Do honorable members opposite maintain that the transport systems of this country are not important? Do they know of the millions of tons of coal at grass that cannot be moved because of lack of transport, with the result that electricity supplies have to be restricted and we have blackouts of industry in New South Wales, our most important manufacturing State? Do they maintain that labour for our transport system, and to produce timber and other building materials and iron ore, is of no importance? We are now finding that for the first time for many years those important industries are able to recruit labour. The transfer of workers from non-essential to essential industries should be applauded and not condemned.
I have made some inquiries in relation to the position in the textile industry, of which the honorable member for
Burke (Mr. Peters) has had so much to say. As a result, I know that the demand for textiles in Australia was such that neither the Australian suppliers nor the overseas suppliers could meet it. Consequently, our retailers placed orders overseas for three or four times the quantities that they required. The) also placed similar orders with local manufacturers. They hoped that the, would be lucky enough to obtain perhaps a third of their orders, and so meet their actual requirements. When the recession in textiles set in - and honorable members are perfectly well aware that this country is the last to experience it - British textile manufacturers started to execute the large orders that had been placed with them. The result was that the firms in Australia that had expected to receive only a third of the quantities that they had ordered overseas, found that their orders were being fully met. They immediately cancelled their orders with the local industry. Small retailers, who had also placed with the local manufacturers orders for three times as much as they required, hoping to receive a third of the quantity ordered, found that because of the cancellation of orders by the big firms the local industry was able to fulfil their complete orders. .So they ceased giving further orders. That situation was not the result of Government policy, because the Government does not interfere with commerce or industry by the use of import licensing control for protective purposes. So do not let us have any misunderstanding about the cause of the oversupply of textile goods in Australia.
The honorable member for Burke had very little to say about our London funds, but they are a very important aspect of the matter. Honorable members opposite are continually asserting that our London funds are rapidly approaching a level which will mean that we are in straightened circumstances. The figures tell a different story. On the last Wednesday in June, 1949, our London funds stood at £A.392,000,000 ; on the 30th November, 1949, at £A.399,200,000; and on the 20th February, 1952, at £A.328,400,000. In between the first and last dates that I have given the funds rose to £A.719,600,000, in June, 1951, that rise being due to the high prices that we were receiving for our wool and other primary products overseas. So honorable members can see that there has been practically no great difference in the level of our London balances as at June, 1949, and the 20th of this month. Our present position with respect to London funds is no worse relatively than it was when we assumed office. I have given to the House the relevant figures which have been compiled by the Treasury.
It is to be expected that the value of imports will decline later in the year. The Government is watching this matter closely. The recent fall in wool prices will tend ultimately to lower present import levels, as a result of which abnormal stocks are accumulating. In addition, the Government’s counterinflationary measures will tend to reduce the volume of imports in due course. Honorable members must be aware that as present imports of textiles were ordered at fairly high prices and the unexpectedly early fulfilment of such orders flooded wholesalers and retailers with surplus stocks they have not been able to continue placing orders with Australian manufacturers. Furthermore, the double and triple ordering in which importers engaged during the period of scarcity has now been discontinued. [Extension of time granted.]
The honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) merely unloaded a lot of stuff which he had collected over a period and which he had made no attempt to collate. He made irresponsible statements. I urge honorable members oposite to view this matter in its proper perspective instead of indulging in party political propaganda. I repeat that under our tariff the. Australian manufacturer is fully protected against dumping. The Government will continue to protect him. His complaint is that he cannot obtain sufficient orders. I have discussed this matter with textile manufacturers and I know that they realize that their difficulty has resulted from the fact that during the period of scarcity wholesalers placed overspas orders which home manufacturers were unable to meet. The .unexpected delivery of those goods from overseas concurrently with the commencement of the recession set in motion the chain of events about which honorable members opposite now complain. However, the recession has produced some extraordinarily good results which reveal that the Government’s plans to transfer a proportion of man-power from light to heavy industries are proving effective.
The overall employment position in this country at present is satisfactory. Generally speaking, textile manufacturers are executing orders. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) will give to the House details of orders which his department has placed with that industry. The Government has no cause to entertain fear in this matter. Of course, characteristically, the Opposition is endeavouring to make party political capital out of existing circumstances. However, they should not do anything that would tend to cause manufacturers to panic. Irresponsible statements of the kind that have been made in this debate will assuredly aggravate the recession. Honorable members opposite should be careful about what they say. I should deplore the making of statements in this House that would tend to cause Australian manufacturers to panic. I again urge honorable members opposite to view this matter in its proper perspective. The Government will gladly give serious consideration to any practical suggestion that they may make.
– - The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) has, characteristically, indulged in a tirade of abuse of a member of the Opposition, who, in fact, made a convincing case in support of the motion. Indeed, almost every member of the Opposition has shown on various occasions that the textile industry is now in a very sorry position. Mills are being closed and thousands of employees are being laid off because manufacturers cannot obtain sufficient orders. Evidence of that fact has been produced repeatedly in this House during the current session since I first raised the matter on the 21st November last by way of a form: adjournment motion. On that occasion, T showed that a. recession would hu inevitable if the Government did not take remedial action. The Government has not yet taken effective action in that direction.
In the brief time at my disposal, I shall direct attention to methods which should be employed in order to remedy the present position. The Vice-President of the Executive Council said that it was not the Government’s duty to interfere with importers’ policies or to use the import licensing machinery to correct the position.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– It is the Government’s duty to protect essential industries. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade contains provisions which enable the government of a signatory country, if necessary, to prohibit or restrict imports in the interests of an essential domestic industry which can be economically maintained. The Government should use the machinery that is at its disposal and restrict imports of textiles. It is useless for the Vice-President of the Executive Council to say that the position will right itself within a few months. The market is now glutted. But what is to prevent the importation of still further supplies in the future? The fact is that importers are running the country. They decide from what sources they will obtain their goods, and are not very much concerned about the interests of Australian manufacturers. In the past, the domestic market has always absorbed the industry’s output. The Government has not examined the market. It has failed to perceive that the industry has answered its cry for more production and now finds that it has over produced. Therefore, the Government has failed both the industry and the country. Every Australian manufacturer, and every shareholder and every worker in industry knows that if the Government made a thorough examination of the market it would have no option but to restrict imports of textiles. The Minister has said that we must import goods if we are to sell goods. I remind him that there are many luxury goods and fancy fabrics which Australian industry has not attempted, and is not likely to attempt, to manufacture and which could be imported to enable other countries to preserve a trade balance with us. We support the importation of such goods, but we are opposed to the introduction of goods that destroy the Aus; tralian market for our own cheap, well made, textiles. If the Minister considers that import control, the machinery of which can be set in motion overnight, is insufficient to protect this local industry, exchange control can be used for that purpose. For example, foreign exchange need not he provided for the purchase of textiles that have been manufactured overseas. The banks can be supplied with a. list of goods for the purchase of which foreign exchange is not to be made available. Such a policy would assist to arrest the drift that is occurring in our London funds. Despite the assurances that have been given by the Minister, I am certain that our London funds, whatever they may be at the moment, are drifting badly. The general trend is a more important consideration than is the actual fund at a given time.
The Government should refer certain lines of textiles to the Tariff Board, which does a magnificent job for, and can be trusted to safeguard the interests of. local industries and of the Australian people. In order to correct the present position in the textile industries the Government should immediately examine the market and the requirements of the people, and submit to the board for investigation and report those items that appear to need protection. I do not say that all Australian textiles require tariff protection, which sometimes has the effect of increasing the price of the goods to the Australian consumer. We have evidence that Australia produces textiles that do need protection not in the matter of price but merely in the market. Import control is the easiest method by which the present condition can be corrected.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has told us that the Government has not altered its credit restriction policy and advances policy for fifteen months. I remind the House that the Labour Government, when in office, varied its credit and advances policy from time to time in order to meet changing conditions. The Government should alter the present advances policy in order to give relief to the textile industry which, to all intents and purposes, has come to a stand-still. The industry has exhausted all its monetary resources in making the goods that now fill the stores. The. Government could authorize the banks to make advances to the mills to enable them to purchase wool and yarn, pay wages and set the wheels of industry in motion again. Unfortunately, the Government has not done anything in the matter, although three months have elapsed since its attention was directed to the seriousness of the situation.
Importers who have purchased enormous quantities of goods have shown, through their irresponsibility, that they are not to be trusted in the future. I do not claim that the Government has imported all those goods, although I have made it clear that its policy has encouraged the importation of them; but the fact remains that importers have recklessly purchased huge stocks of textiles. In future they should not he permitted to control our markets as they have done recently. In doing so, they exert an undue influence on our economy, and are not fit to do so.
The Government should make provision for the branding of textiles. In some imported textiles, fibres are mixed with the wool most cunningly, and the average purchaser has no hope of deciding whether a garment is made wholly, or only partly, of wool.
– Order ! That matter is outside the scope of the subject that the House is now discussing.
– If textiles were branded, the Australian goods would be purchased in preference to imported goods. That would be a marked advantage to the community and the industry. The whole position of the textile industry can be improved within a few days if the Government will make a serious effort to deal with the situation. It should confer with its departmental officers, members of the Australian textile trade, and workers engaged in that industry who, I know, are only too willing to give their services. Remedial action can be taken within a few days, yet the Government does nothing. It merely claims that it is not its policy to interfere.
The transfer of employees from the textile industry to other industries is a serious and sad event for Australia. Persons who have left that industry have been trained as operatives at great expense to the manufacturers, and will now have to be trained as operatives in other industries. Such a policy is uneconomic.
-Order! The honorable gentleman has exhausted his time.
– I am sure that the House is grateful to the Opposition for having raised this matter. The Government is gratified, however, because this debate enables us to obtain a measure of agreement on the situation, and make clear to the public in a way that has not been possible hitherto, the real facts of this unfortunate position. The matters upon which we can reach agreement are as follows: - First, the textile industry is most important to Australia. I regard it as an essential industry, and I know that my opinion is shared by the Government. Secondly, we can agree that the situation that has overtaken the textile industry is most unhappy and unfortunate. The Government, and every honorable member, are considerably concerned about it. Another fact that we assert, and can prove, although I do not. expect to get agreement on it, is that what has occurred is not in any way, shape or form the fault of the Government or of its policies. That is abundantly clear from the facts. I do not criticize the textile industry, or any persons, for what has happened. For many years Australia was chronically short of supplies of textile materials, as a result of which the industry was going hard and merchants and buyers were buying hard. There was a period of what now proves to have been over-ordering but the people concerned are not necessarily to be criticized for that. The industry, and consumers, were worried about chronic shortages for years. Then, suddenly, an event occurred abroad over which they had no control. Adverse economic winds began to blow across Europe, and continental orders for textiles tended to contract. British textile manufacturers looking for other markets, suddenly found themselves, as a result of the contraction of markets in Europe, in a position to supply in full measure the heavy orders that had been placed with them from Australia. Previously, they had been able to supply perhaps only 30 per cent, or 50 per cent, of those orders.
Another incident occurred. For the first time for years, shipping became available, and vast quantities of textiles arrived in Australian ports from overseas. Those importations have . placed the Australian manufacturer in a difficult position. The Australian buyer has begun to cancel contracts that he had made in advance for the supply of Australian textiles, because the imported textiles have suddenly become available. That is how the unhappy situation occurred. Another factor, which, in my opinion, is a good thing, is the development of buyers’ resistance in Australia. I.” assume that every honorable member who has gone into a shop for the purpose of buying a pair of blankets for his home has felt like rebelling, or has actually rebelled, when he has been asked to pay £10 for them, and perhaps has postponed the purchase until next year. Perhaps he has adopted a similar attitude when he has discovered that the price of a suit is £30 or £40. Therefore, what with one thing and another, buyers’ resistance, which is a healthy trend, has developed. It is one way in which price levels can be reduced. Thus from one cause or another, the Australian manufacturer has found himself with great quantities of textiles on his shelves. That is the situation. It is not due to the Government’s economic policy, but it is something of which a government will take notice and about which it will be concerned. Although we cannot he blamed for it, we turn our attention to it in an attempt to relieve it.
I have been asked several questions about the matter in the House during the last few days, and in reply, I have informed honorable members that the Department of Supply, which is a heavy buyer, although it is only a trifling buyer compared with the whole of the
Australian textile production is endeavouring to adjust its policies in such a way as will help to cushion the shock for the industry. We cannot do a great deal, because we buy only 10 per cent, of the Australian textile production, but orders to the value of £17,000,000 have been placed for textiles of various kinds. Notwithstanding the suggestion to the contrary that has been made by Opposition members, not a yard of textile in any shape or form has been ordered abroad by my department for the Services in the last year or two years, unless it has been told by the Australian industry that it could not supply the materials. I have made that statement categorically more than once. We have not bought a yard of material abroad until it has been proved to us that Australian firms have not been able to supply the goods to our specifications.
However, our efforts are somewhat handicapped by the system of buying by public tender. If a manufacturer writes to us and says, in effect, “ For heaven’s sake give mc a contract because I do not want to dismiss any of my employees “, we are sympathetic ; but are we to give to him a contract in the teeth of the public tender system? If we were to do so, we should run into trouble. If, out of the pity of our hearts, we do give a contract to the manufacturer and it happens to be not the lowest tender, what will the taxpayers say about us? What will another manufacturer who submits a bona fide tender and cuts his price in order to keep his factory in operation, say about our action? What will be his reaction if the department refuses to accept his tender, although it is the lowest and has been submitted in good faith ? There are ways in which we can adjust our policy, in some degree, so as to assist various firms. I have already taken such action, and, within the limits of what I think to be a fair thing, shall continue to do so.
We are doing something else to assist the industry. The very large contracts that we have placed hitherto will be succeeded by other contracts, some of which are not due to come forward for perhaps more than a year. We have already intimated that we shall endeavour- to review the whole of our defence orders for materials and clothing for the Services for the purpose of assisting the textile industry. We shall ascertain whether those orders can be moved forward so as to help at least some manufacturers. But there are other difficulties, too. Some firms, admirable though they be, are not in a position to comply with the stringent specifications that are laid down by the Department of Supply. Furthermore, some firms are what I may describe as Johnnies-come-lately in the textile business. They had never bothered in the past to submit tenders for government contracts, and actually spurned them when vc asked them to accept our work in the loan times. Yet they are now seeking contracts. We assist them, but we naturally help in the first place those firms that have helped us. I mention all these matters in order to indicate that the position is difficult and that the ability of my department to assist is limited. The Government realizes that this very important industry is beset by a serious problem and will continue to do all that is possible to help it. The Government most, certainly will consider the representations that have been made on the subject of imported textiles. The Opposition has suggested that, by some means, we have amended our import, policy so as to allow goods to flood into Australia. That is not true, except in relation to certain cotton piece goods that were imported between July and December of last year. During that period there were serious shortages of textiles of certain types. The industry said that it could not supply the demand for those products at that time, and a purely temporary relaxation of import charges was conceded in order that the demand might be satisfied. Otherwise, import, duties on textiles have not been varied.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- It is all very well for Government spokesmen to talk glibly about disemployment and variations of the Government’s economic policy, but this debate revolves round the effect of the Government’s failure to take action in the interests of the Australian textile industry. Nothing that has been said by the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) and the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) has been disproved by the two Ministers who have already spoken. They have described the present situation of the textile industry as the outcome of the Government’s economic policy-
– The Minister for Supply has just denied that.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) described the position of thu textile industry as one of the first fruits of the Government’s economicpolicy. He talked of recession and disemployment. That must be very gratifying and heart-warming to textile workers who have lost their jobs in the industry! Certain responsibilities devolve upon an honorable member who submits a formal motion for the adjournment of the House. The chief of these is to state the facts in support of the argument that he proceeds to submit. 1 contend that the truth of every statement made by the honorable member for Burke has been proved conclusively. Foi- example, the honorable gentleman said that there had been an everincreasing flood of imports that had caused stagnation in Australian factories. I support his remarks and shall submit figures to substantiate them. These statistics relate to only one section of the textile industry, but they illustrate the gravity of the general situation.
In 1949-50, customs by-law clearances of woven rayon piece goods totalled 4,707,000 square yards, valued at £972,000. By 1950-51,. the figures had increased to 57,000,000 square yards and £12,081,000 respectively. This expansion of imports has terminated development, caused unemployment and reduced hours of employment in the industry. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) said that his department was doing its best to grant contracts to Australian companies. That may be so, but departmental requirements represent only a small proportion of Australia’s total requirements. So that honorable members may understand the seriousness of the situation, I shall quote a letter that I have received from one of the largest textile printing companies in Melbourne. It states -
We wish to bring before your attention the position of the- Textile Printing Trade.
One firm, due to the floundering and changes of decision on the part of the Government, has been reduced to a parlous condition.
This company, acting on indirect encouragement from the Government, was established prior to the fixing of the Rayon Duty. It has spent, or is contracted to spend, £150,000 in building a new modern factory so that it may be in a position to supply the Australian market with reasonably priced material.
As a result of the indecision the company has been left in the position of holding 1,500,000 yards of spun rayon in stock. This they cannot sell. Despite all talk of “ Buyers’ Resistance “ large quantities of cloth are still being landed from overseas to the detriment of the local trade.
This has forced the company into the position of employing 30-35 people instead of over 300 which would be the position if they were sure of some protection.
The situation described in that letter applies generally throughout the textile trade.
Ministers and their supporters have talked freely of disemployment and the transfer of workers from the textile industry to more important industries. [ remind the Vice-President of the Executive Council of certain facts that were brought to light in an earlier debate in this chamber. It was then proved conclusively that workers in the textile industry who had been disemployed - that lovely term ! - ‘had transferred to all sorts of jobs that had no connexion with defence production. What has been the effect on the textile trade generally of the Government’s new economic policy? Honorable members would be well advised to take note of facts that were submitted to the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) by a deputation that waited on him recently. The members of that deputation pointed out that the Government’s policy affected both workers and employers in the textile trade over a very wide area, and that the industry was one of the most decentralized industries in Australia. Over the years it has provided constant employment for both males and females in many provincial and country areas, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales. The following table lists the dismissals from the textile trade in Victoria since September of last year : -
I notice that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) is listening to the debate. What is his reaction to the dismissal of many new Australians who were originally absorbed by the textile industry? The Opposition has proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Government’s failure to provide tariff protection for the textile trade, aggravated by the effects of its peculiar and inverted economic policy, has caused stagnation and unemployment in the industry. Many workers who have been employed in the trade for the whole of their working lives have lost their jobs. But these dismissals have not led to a transfer of employment to essential industries. They have, on the contrary, led to wastage of skilled labour and a recession in an industry that has always been of great value to Australia.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The role of an Opposition in a democracy is one of great responsibility and importance.
– Has the honorable gentleman learned that?
– Yes, I have learned that as a result of my years of service as a senior member of the Opposition during a Labour regime. During that period the Opposition tried to help the Government in a constructive way. The people of Australia are entitled to look to the Opposition in this Parliament for a frank statement of the facts that come to its notice. But this Opposition will rank as the worst in the history of federation because of its refusal to face facts and its wilful distortion of the truth. It has revealed a complete lack of responsibility to the public and a recklessness in fostering panic that deserve the severest condemnation. For some twisted purpose of its own, it has tried to engender a psychology of fear and depression. It is trying to stimulate an artificial recession that the economic circumstances of the country do not justify.
Let us examine the facts. As the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) has said, the Government regards the textile industry as a major industry. Non-Labour governments over the years have done a great deal to establish and develop that industry. The honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) told us that Australia had been flooded with overseas textiles in 1951-52. I shall reply to him with information that has been provided by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures. The facts do not substantiate, the honorable gentleman’s claim that the Australian textile industry has been placed at a disadvantage in recent years by the increase of imports. From 1939 to 1950 the number of clothing factories in Australia increased from 4,314 to 6,620, an increase of more than 50 per cent. The number of persons employed in the clothing industry increased from 86,000 to 118,000, an increase of nearly 40 per cent. The number of woollen mills increased from 90 to 168. As the secretary of the Chamber of Manufactures has commented, those figures support the claim that the clothing and textile industries of Australia are. well fitted to supply future demands under any conditions short of those of war. I do not know of any responsible leader in the textile industry who has yet claimed that the present predicament of the industry has been caused by any policy of this Government. Representatives of the industry have admitted frankly in their discussions with me that they were caught in the jam that developed as surplus supplies were released from other countries, particularly Great Britain.
Australia suffered for a time from a shortage of textiles. This Government, and indeed the Opposition, favoured the adoption of an import policy that would help the country to defeat the inflationary menace that threatened it last year. No honorable member opposite then said that we should not import goods in order to meet the shortages that were occurring in Australia. That argument has been developed only recently. “When the shortages were actually operating there was no criticism of the policy of importing from overseas. Honorable members opposite wanted, as we did, and as the Australian people did, an end to our shortages. If our own industries could overtake the shortages so much the better, but if they could not then we had to meet the position by importing goods from overseas. Orders were placed and letters of credit on extended terms were made available by bankers to thencustomers, because the trickle of goods coming into the country called for that kind of treatment, but suddenly the trickle became a flood. At the very end of last year our industry felt the impact of that flood.
I do not deny that a serious situation has developed for the textile industry, and I confirm what the Minister for Supply has said about the concern which this matter is causing us. I reiterate that it is receiving the attention of the Government. Various Ministers in their own spheres of responsibility are dealing with different aspects of it. Of course we have to investigate import policy, and also ascertain how bank credit is operating in order to see whether it is sufficiently effective to deal with emergency situations in the textile industry. But there is no need for any one to make an alarmist attack like the onslaught of the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters), who said that thousands of Australians are being thrown on the scrapheap and that recession and unemployment are marching through the land.
It is unfortunate if skilled textile operatives are out of employment because of the flood of imports, but it is completely malicious and untrue to say that they have been thrown on the scrap-heap of unemployment. Actually, in the honorable member’s own State of Victoria the number of persons receiving the unemployment benefit bas been decreasing during the last couple of weeks. As the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) has indicated, the number of unemployment vacancies registered with my department, about 93,000, is 20,000 more than the number of vacancies registered when this Government took office at the end of 1949. There are still in Australia thousands of opportunities for employment, and the vacancies are being filled rapidly by people who, from one cause or another - and in the case of the textile industry the cause is not through government policy - are finding themselves looking for other opportunities. What a wicked thing it is to talk of a coming recession, especially in the light of the opinions of Mr. Withall, Director of the Chamber of Manufacturers, an authority who has been viewed through much more rosy spectacles by honorable members opposite in recent months. In one of his most recent publications he said -
Manufacturing units now under construction in New South Wales are estimated to cost £107,000,000 on completion. These units comprise 401 new factories and 454 additions to existing factories.
He was not dealing only with heavy industries, because he mentioned that the heavy industries are being expanded, and pointed out that factories now being built for light industries number 380, and that 424 firms are making extensions. He estimated that the total cost in respect of those light industries will exceed £21,000,000. Every day we read in the press of a new project that some local or overseas firm is developing in Australia. That shows the faith of people overseas in the future of this country, and indicates how rosy will be our prospects if we maintain a relatively stable price level in this country and get the economy on to an even keel.
Only a few months ago honorable members opposite were rising in their places day after day and asking what the Government was doing about putting value back into the £1 and when we were going to halt inflation.
– Order ! The Minister must confine his remarks to the matter under discussion.
– As soon as honorable members opposite perceived that the Governments policies were having a useful effect, and that our heavy industries that had been starved of men were getting increased supplies of labour from one source or another, and were benefitting from the movement of labour from the textile industries - which was not our intention - the Opposition reverted to its traditional stock-in-.trade argument of misery, wretchedness, unemployment and depression. Honorable members opposite would be tongue-tied if they could not turn on that propaganda from time to time. The Australian people have too much common sense to believe that nonsense at this stage.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- 1 appreciate the remarks of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) because they have been instructive and helpful. I do not want to give to honorable members the impression that I am an alarmist about our present economic position, but I resent the inference of the Minister that the Opposition is irresponsible. Her Majesty’s Opposition is just as important in this Parliament as is Her Majesty’s Government, and our role is to criticize, conduct research into our economic conditions, and give constructive help to the Government whenever possible. To say that we are utterly irresponsible, and that the facts that we have presented .to the Parliament are irrelevant or wrong, is to be unfair and unjust.
It cannot be denied that the Government is jittery about this matter, because three Ministers have spoken to-day for the Government. They were the A7 icePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) and the Minister for Labour and National Service. The Government apparently needed the services of three Ministers to defend itself against the charges made by the Opposition. Several admissions have been made by those three Ministers, one of which was that a recession has definitely occurred. It may not have a snowballing effect at the moment, but the elements of recession are here and have been recognized by the Government speakers. The VicePresident of the Executive Council did not -seem to be very concerned -at the likelihood that many little businesses would be ^strangled and ruined as a result of the policies of the Government against inflation.
– But I am concerned that the honorable member should be mouthing Communist catch cries
– I rise to a point of order. I ask that the Minister be required to withdraw his remark.
– What was the remark ?
– That the honorable member for Wilmot is mouthing Communist catch cries.
– I think that the Minister should withdraw .that remark.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it.
– Now that the Minister is a member of the Government he is quite a different man from the man he was when in Opposition. I could almost see the halo grow around his head when he became a Minister. I desire to refer particularly to the importation of textiles, which has caused a slump in the Australian textile industry. The Vice-President of the Executive Council was concerned about that point. He claimed that we have some control over the importation of goods from overseas, but I ask him to say how these goods could enter Australia in such volume as to glut the market if the Government could put into effect safeguards against dumping. Obviously, there are no safeguards that can prevent the dumping of goods from overseas, and, consequently, no safeguards against a slump in our economy. If a slump has occurred in the textile industry, it could occur in other industries. If this situation has been brought about by the importation of goods from Great Britain, it could be caused by the importation of goods from Japan. We shall be open to constant attack from the oversupply of goods from overseas unless the
Tariff Board takes action to see that imports shall not engage in unequal competition with Australian goods. The Tariff Board must exercise great vigilance now that the Japanese peace treaty has almost been ratified, so as to prevent the dumping of Japanese goods. In fact the Tariff Board must be our watchdog.
I endorse the remarks of the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) on the unemployment caused in the textile industry. Tasmania is not a very big State, but there is quite a strong textile industry in Launceston, and the figures that I shall now cite will give to honorable members a picture of what has happened in that industry during the last few months. Prior to the 7th November last, about 250 employees were dismissed from Paton and Baldwin’s great mill in Launceston, and from the 7th November to the 27th February a further 109 employees were dismissed. From Kensall and Kemp’s establishment ten employees were dismissed. In Thyne Brothers Knitting Mills the staff was reduced from 100 to about 60. In all, about 400 employees have been dismissed from the textile industries in Launceston alone. Paton and Baldwin’s mill reduced its working week to four days, and there is a possibility that it will be reduced to three and a half days in the near future. The employees of that factory are to-day receiving lower wages because of their reduced number of working hours, and they do not know whether to resign or to take the risk and stay on a bit longer. The Waverley Woollen Mills are now working a fourday week. The honorable member for Hoddle said that 769 persons had been dismissed from the industry in Victoria.
The Ministers who have spoken have said that this is all a part of the Government’s policy, that it is merely a transfer of employees. I believe that it is not necessary in this case, because the textile industry is not a luxury industry, it is an essential industry. To have all those thousands of people thrown out of one essential industry in order that they may work in a heavy industry, is too silly for words. It may be all right in theory to say that the Government’s action will be sure to engender an anti-inflationary trend which, through the restriction of credit, will throw people out of non-essential industries into the heavy industries, hut such plans have never worked out in practice in an unplanned economic system. I submit that the Government’s action is tantamount to economic conscription. It is a ruthless, remorseless method of transferring employees. It is man-power control by economic process.
– How did the Labour government control man-power during the war ?
– We controlled it under a man-power control system which operated fairly and evenly right throughout the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member supported man-power control in wartime.
– This policy of the Government is man-power control in peace-time by the steam-roller methods of remorseless economic pressure. The Government is making men and women look elsewhere for employment.
– The Government is starving people out of one industry and into another.
– The honorable member is quite correct. It is all very well for the Minister to say that we, on this side of the House, have caused panic by saying this sort of thing, but I do not believe that we have done so. We may have helped to cause alarm about their future, in the minds of the people who are being sacked, but it is our job to point out to the people the nature of these economic threats, without panic or hysteria or anything else. When the Government uproots people from employment it is destroying their security. Highly trained artisans have to look for work in jobs for which they have not been trained. That is not good for production and it places new pressure on industry. Security is destroyed in the mind of the worker and his family life is disrupted. That is the result of the remorseless policy of the Government. It is a blow at full employment. Possibly it is a subtle method of getting value back into the £1 by reducing the consuming power of the people.
.- j f honorable members analyse the reasons for the surplus in the textile industry they will realize that the actions taken by the previous Government created shortages and caused considerable imports of textiles and apparel. For the twelve months ended December, 1949, exported textiles were valued at £1,280,000 and imported apparel was valued at £1,147,000. In the following year exports of textiles increased to £1,595,000 aud imports of apparel were valued at £794,000. A shortage of blankets was aggravated by the export of blankets valued at £150,169 in 1948-49 and by further exports valued at £102,380, in 1949-50. Is it any wonder that steps were taken to bring imports into the country because of the shortages that existed? The mover of the motion referred to cotton. Naturally the growing of cotton in Australia is important to manufacturers. The Labour Government refused to give a guarantee to the cottongrowing industry and continued to import cotton at three times the guaranteed price that was sought by the Australian growers. Immediately this Government came into office, it gave the guarantee. But for the drought in Queensland, a considerable planting of cotton this year would have increased supplies of cotton to manufacturers. The textile industry is the Labour party’s world. It cannot see any other industry. It apparently believes that we can live on clothes alone. Honorable members opposite forget that food is essential. They argue about unemployment in one industry which has been created by over-production and then talk rubbish about a recession. The secondary industries have increased out of proportion to the requirements of a balanced economy. If overproduction has put some men out of work in the textile industry, what is to stop them from losing a little sweat and doing some physical work to produce, the food that is needed ? Are they to stay forever in one community while the primary producers who help to balance the economy and create London funds remain short of labour?
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said that if people were uprooted from employment, security was uprooted. That could be applied to all luxury industries. If they are expanded, security is uprooted particularly when the wrong type of industry for the community is expanded. I remind honorable members that the bulk of our Londonfunds have been created by the export of primary products. If those funds have decreased, the reason is that they have been used to bring in imports to meet shortages. Who can argue against that procedure ? Drought conditions in Australia are another cause of the reduction in our London funds. Honorable members opposite should know that exports are down solely because of the drought. All the summer crops in Queensland and northern New South Wales were lost this year. No grain or butter will be exported from that area because of drought. If honorable members want the economy of the country to be secure they must look beyond the textile industry. Members of the Opposition are helping to create a recession when they seek to retain labour within industries that are producing too much or which are not essential to the country.
I support the continuance of a policy that will make labour available to essential industries. We should encourage production of commodities which we can export and so maintain our London funds. What is wrong with the policy of the Government in using our London funds to pay for imports ? The value of exports which create the funds has been distributed in the community and has been made available for the purchase of good3. If there’ is a shortage of goods and a surplus of money and commodities are not imported by the use of funds, inflation is being assisted. Honorable members opposite, for political purposes, have confined their advocacy to an industry which is over-producing because higher prices are restricting purchases. The Government has acted wisely in seeking to provide for the proper use of the labour that is available so that exports can be maintained to strengthen our London funds and to permit Australia to import goods that are needed. The policy that has been adopted in regard to essential imports has not borne fruit to the full degree that could have been expected. While money has been committed by way of contract, the machinery that should have been installed under the contract has been installed in very few industries and the beneficial impact that was anticipated has not yet been felt in the community. The motion that is before the House is purely political and has application only to the Labour party’s world. If people, unfortunately, have to be transferred from some forms of production, they should go to essential industries.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired!
.- The apology that has been made by the honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) and by Ministers for the incapacity and incompetence that the Government has displayed on the issues under consideration is a clear indication that this is far from being a political matter rawed for political ends. It has been shown, in fact, to be a matter of great moment to all people in the Australian community, particularly those thousands who have been displaced from certain industries by the inability of this Government to grapple with the situation. The honorable member for Fisher, a primary producers’ representative, made a general apology for the decline of production on the farms. Because of that, he said, Australia’s exports were down and its London balance had fallen. Is he not a member of a party which went to the people and gave unconditional promises to increase production, irrespective of droughts, bush fires or anything else? The honorable member knows that if ti if present Government’s policy on imports continues, the adverse sterling balance at the end of this year will be £445,000,000. Further, if the present policy is continued, irrespective of the needs and requirements of the primary producers and others, there will be nothing left at the end of this year of the £800,000,000 London surplus that was there in the time of the stable economy that was established by the Chifley Government. One-half of the members of the Government parties does not know what the other half thinks. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) said that the Government had deliberately engineered a policy of disemployment in order to send men to essential industries.
– That is a deliberate mis-statement.
– I noted the words as the Minister spoke them and I also heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) say the Government was not causing unemployment and that it was deliberately untrue for us to say that it was doing so. The best advice that I can give to the honorable gentlemen is to read the comments of Mr. Latham Withall, director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, which were quoted by the Minister for Labour and National Service, and to study Mr. Withall’s remarks regarding the unemployment that has been caused in industry by the policy of this Government, particularly in relation to imports. Honorable members on this side of the House are naturally concerned with the problems that Government supporters have enunciated in regard to textiles, but is it not the first responsibility of the Government to take appropriate action in respect of the textile industry and other industries to protect the security of employment of thousands of Australians and the interests of those people who have invested funds in those industries ?
The Minister for Labour and National Service cited figures to show that only a few thousands workers were unemployed. Everybody knows that the miserable pittance that is handed out by this Government for unemployment benefits is not enough to cause people to accept it even unless they are in want. Thousands of people are being displaced from industries to-day. They are not registering for unemployment benefits because the 25s. a week does not even measure up to the ordinary commitments for the most essential needs in this age of high prices. Not so long ago this Government was elected with the help of funds that were provided by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and various other organizations in industry. One of those who gave the greatest support to the. campaign for the election of this Government was Mr. Withall,who was quoted to-day as having said that industries were being strengthened. I quote him as an authority for some figures on unemployment which are very important. I quote from an issue of a publication known as Canberra Letter which was published by the Australian Chamber of Manufactures on the 18th February last. In an article in that journal, Mr. Withall wrote, under the head-line “ Unemployment with us Again “, as follows : -
Unemployment in the textile aud apparel industries is now increasing at the rate of about 1,000 operatives a week with another 500 going on to part time such as 24 to 32 hours work a week. Finished stocks of woollen and rayon and other textiles and clothing of all sorts are from twice to six times the normal stocks held by producers.
Some manufacturers report that they are holding stocks equivalent to six months’ normal sales.
I do not know why the manufacturers support this Government, when they have such cause to condemn its policy. The article continues -
Disemployment offers a fascinating new deal to the economist and the planner, but it threatens the liberty of the subject and it is the complete antithesis of free enterprise.
It is a form of man-power control in which the victim pays all the costs and there is no compensation for the lost trade, profession, capital, plant or goodwill. It knocks socialism, with its costly compensation bills, into a conked hat.
Everybody is aware of the failure of the policy of the Menzies Government to increase production and reduce prices. We know, for a fact, that the Government’s policy is resulting in lower wages and longer hours of work and a pool of unemployed persons outside the gates of factories. That is why we are striving to bring the position home to the people. The fact that not one back-bencher on the Government side has been game to rise in his place and support the Government’s indefensible policy shows that our contentions are correct. The reply to our charges has been left to three Ministers, who have endeavoured to mislead their supporters on the back benches into believing that all is well. But the facts given in newsletters published by the Chamber of Manufactures in regard to imports of goods which affect our industries and the serious results of the Government’s policy of restricting credit, cannotbe contradicted. That is why the Government back-benchers are so silent on this grave issue.
We have heard a great deal about what the Government’s apologists choose to term “ disemployment “ which, they claim, forces men into employment in essential industries. The Minister for Labour and National Service spoke freely about the Government being a free enterprise administration. The Government was elected on a policy of government without controls over employment or anything else. It was claimed that the present Government parties would give the people full employment without any strings attached. The Vice-President of the Executive. Council and other members of the Ministry were constantly complaining when they were sitting in Opposition during the regime of the Chifley Administration, about the controls that Labour introduced, although such controls were so necessary. Yet by a back-door method the honorable gentleman and other prominent Ministers later introduced a policy which, in the words of Mr. Withall, “knocks socialism . . . into a cocked hat”. That policy is causing unemployment and threatening the welfare of the people. In. commending the policy of the Cabinet the Minister for Labour and National Service, as I have said, claimed that the Government stood for free enterprise and that it was ‘ forcing people into private enterprise. Mr. Withall’s complaint is people are being forced into the raliway service and into a number of other essential industries and are leaving private enterprise. For your shortsighted policy and your absolute incompetence, which are placing in jeopardy the welfare of the people, you are deserving of the condemnation of everybody, and the Labour party has brought this motion forward in order to awaken the Australian people to your incompetence.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman will address me.
– I thought he was, sir.
– Order !
– We have launched this motion in order to bring home to the people the shortcomings of the Government and the dangers of the policy that it is pursuing. Our hope is to enlighten the people to the perils that lie in a continuance of that policy, which is so detrimental to Australia’s welfare.
.- It is easy for tub thumpers to make political capital out of a matter like this because there is always a fear of unemployment at the back of the minds of workers. It is more than passing strange that in the Parliament of this Commonwealth there should be men who are prepared to work on that fear and to stir people up unnecssarily by uttering unfounded forecasts of economic depression. The motion introduced by the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) referred to-
The increased volume and cost of importations permitted by the Government which has caused unemployment in the manufacturing industries. . . .
I have listened with great interest to honorable members opposite but they have not produced one fact to substantiate their claim that there is unemployment in our manufacturing industries. Because a few honorable members opposite have textile mills in their electorates they have concentrated on talking about the employment position in the textile industry, but they have said nothing of the large number of jobs that are waiting to be filled in other manufacturing industries, the production of which is so essential to our security. The plain fact is that we have a great and dire need to develop our essential secondary industries which are suffering from a shortage of labour. The first submission of the Opposition is unjustified because it is untrue to say that unemployment exists in our manufacturing industries.
The second submission deals with an alleged serious reduction in our overseas funds. Let us get back to the root cause of this. What has happened in Australia over the last ten years in our secondary and primary industries? Before this Government assumed office the previous Government had set out blatantly to attract to Australia a huge number of secondary industries that were inessential to Australia. As a result, it speedily caused an unbalance of our economy, and workers were attracted from our primary industries to secondary production of a non-essential kind. To-day, as a result of the Government’s policy, labour is being diverted from employment in non-essential industries to employment in essential industries, and so the. unbalance of our economy is on the way to being corrected.
– The honorable member will be declared inessential shortly.
– Order ! The honorable member for “Watson (Mr. Curtin) will find himself inessential to the working of this House if he persists in interjecting.
– Had the people in 1949 allowed the Labour party to persist with its policy in relation to our manufacturing and primary industries, our food position would now be much more serious than it is. There is nobody in Australia who will complain because the Government’s policy is producing more ploughs, reapers, binders, fencing wire and fencing posts. Instead, everybody is commending the increase of output of the industries that produce our essential requirements. Honorable members opposite who complain about the Government’s policy will realize its value when it increases the volume of food that reaches the cities from the country.
If there is any reduction in our overseas funds, it is due to the policy cf the previous Government, which deliberately set out to do all it could to ruin the primary industries of Australia. Surely nobody with any knowledge of the dairying industry will doubt that the decrease of the volume of dairy products that we export is due to the manner in which the previous Government treated our rural industries-
Opposition supporters interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for Capricornia will please confine himself to the terms of the motion.
– He should go back to the kindergarten.
– Order ! The honor- able member for “Wills (Mr. Bryson) will withdraw that remark, and for the remainder of the debate will remain silent.
– I withdraw it.
– Any reduction in our overseas funds now is due to our inability to export as great a volume of primary products as we formerly exported, and I attach the blame for that position to the previous administration, to which it rightly belongs. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) made a statement to the effect that the reshuffle of employment in Australia was placing men in work on .the railways and, as he said, “ other inessential industries “. I am sure that he will find few people in Australia to agree that the railways are an inessential industry. If this motion had any real substance behind it surely that substance would have been produced this afternoon. The mover of the motion devoted the greater part of his remarks to the textile industry. It has been amply demonstrated, and it is well known, that .the trouble with the textile industry at present is that retailers placed orders that were heavier than their requirements, and those orders were suddenly fulfilled within a short period. More than six months ago there wa3 a shortage of textile goods. Now we have the exact opposite. Surely when such a situation occurs we have machinery that can be set in motion to correct the position. If the manufacturers of textiles in Australia have anything to complain about they should approach the Tariff Board and have a proper analysis made of the situation in the proper place, then justice will be done to all.
– The trouble is they would have had to close down by then.
– If the honorable gentleman and his colleagues had been allowed to carry out their plans, instead of being voted out of office by the people in 1949, the farmers would have had to close down long ago, and he would not look so well fed as he looks at present. Figures show that, whatever else the Government may have done, it has certainly not caused unemployment in the manufacturing industries. I am glad to know that, slowly but surely, our manufacturing effort is being switched from non-essential to essential goods. Essential manufacturing industries have no com- plaints to make about a shortage of jobs, f they have any complaints at all it is about a shortage of labour which prevents their expansion. The sectional feeling that honorable members opposite have endeavoured to arouse in order to gain a political advantage, is denied by the facts. If honorable gentlemen opposite had stopped to consider that this motion would instil fear into the minds of the people and had been honest with themselves, they would not have brought it forward.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am informed that at the factory at Rutherford which was established by the first Menzies Government as a munitions establishment at a cost of over £2,000,000 - in a sense it is my “ baby “ too - and is now leased to a firm of textile manufacturers, 300 employees have been given notice that they will be paid off this week. Most of those employees are women. I should like to know to what industries those women will be transferred. I understand that an attempt is being made to persuade the men who are to be laid off to return to the coal-mining industry, but I assure the Government that they will never agree to do so until, as I have repeatedly advocated, the mines are made safer than they are at present. The factory at Rutherford produces tapestries, furnishings, rayon piece goods, shirtings, suitings and dress fabrics. Last Monday, a deputation which waited upon me to discuss the impending dismissals, informed me that the management has found it necessary to give notice to these employees mainly because under the Government’s credit restriction policy it is not able to obtain sufficient finance for the purpose of providing additional stocks. I was also informed that Japanese textiles are being landed in Australia through British firms at Hong Kong. In many instances, the goods bear the tag “ Made in Japan “. They are being dumped in Australia to the detriment of employees in our textile industry. It is clear that the Government is maintaining credit restrictions as an indirect means of directing man-power. It claims that a greater proportion of man-power must be transferred from nonessential to essential industries. “Will any one deny that the textile manufacturing industry is an essential industry? The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has repeatedly warned the country of the probability of another world war within three years. In view of that fact, the Government should be placing substantial orders for clothing for the armed forces with Australian manufacturers.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 92.
– by leave - I wish to clarify certain points that have been raised in questions concerning the deferment of assistance under the War Service Homes Act for the purchase of existing properties other than newly constructed homes. It has been necessary, because of the great number of applications, to defer assistance for the purchase of other than new homes ; but all existing commitments made by the War Service Homes Division will, of course, be fulfilled. The division regards as a commitment a case in which it has advised an applicant, following completion of a valuation, that the property is a satisfactory security and that a loan for a specified amount will be made available subject to legal requirements. Assistance will be continued as at present for the purchase of newly constructed homes which have not been lived in, provided that they are structurally a good security. This is in addition to the division’s own building programme.
Although ex-servicemen have repeatedly been warned not to enter into any contracts without first consulting the division, unfortunately many of them have done so. Clearly the division cannot reasonably be held responsible for commitments entered into without its knowledge. However, as it is recognized that some ex-servicemen may, in spite of these warnings, be genuinely ignorant of the requirements, assistance will be given in any instance in which an applicant entered into a contract prior to the 25th February for the purchase of an existing home and in which the contract contains conditions that will cause loss to the applicant of an appreciable deposit if the assistance be not granted. I lay on the table the following paper : -
War Service Homes - Ministerial Statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
– The statement that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Townley) has just made is satisfactory in so far as it relates to commitments that have been entered into up to the 25th February. However, my colleagues who raised this matter on previous occasions, are concerned about the possibility that the War Service Homes Division will not make available further assistance for the purchase of other than new houses durin.fr the remainder of the current year. My colleagues want the Minister to review, in principle, the alteration of Government policy in that respect.
– That is being done.
– I am glad to have that assurance. Steps must be taken to mitigate the hardship that will be caused in this respect. In view of the importance of this matter, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
Mr. McEWEN (Murray - Minister for
Commerce and Agriculture) [2.53]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to legislate in respect of swimming fish in Australian waters beyond territorial limits, and in waters adjacent to a territory and within territorial limits, in order that fishing in such waters can be so regulated that existing fisheries resources will be conserved for regular commercial development, and excessive exploitation of our fish resources will be prevented. Theneed for legislation to enable the Commo n wealth to exercise its constitutional powers in regard to fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits, has been felt for some considerable time. Existing legislation of the States and the Commonwealth in respect of territories only, covers fishing practices and policy in waters within their territorial’ boundaries which are generally interpreted as being waters within 3 miles of the seashore. Beyond such limits there is an area in respect of which the Commonwealth and not the States can as a matter of constitutional law, legislate directly. The bill is primarily concerned with the control of fishing in this area although it is proposed also to dca? with waters adjacent to the territories. The Commonwealth’s power to enact fisheries legislation with operation outside territorial limits is contained insection 51, placitum (x.) of the Constitution, under which the Parliament may make laws with respect to fisheries in, Australian waters beyond territorial limits.
The bill does not itself specify the particular Australian waters to which it will apply, but clause 7 provides for the making of proclamations declaring certain waters to be proclaimed waters ; and! it is only in waters so proclaimed that fishing will be regulated by the bill. This is not the first occasion on which legislation has been enacted under thefisheries power in the Constitution. Jn. 1932 a “ Beaches, Fishing Grounds and. Sea Eoutes Protection Act “ provided for certain areas situated beyond territorial! limits to be set aside as dumping grounds for the disposal of useless ships, &c, whilst in more recent years legislation in respect of whaling has also beenenacted under this power. However, legislation has not previously been introduced inrespect of fishing activities generally.
I should like to make it quite clear that the Government has no thought of encroaching in any way upon the sovereign rights of the States in their own areas. In the implementation of a total pattern of fisheries practice and conservation, the Commonwealth legislation makes provisionunderwhichthe administration of the laws, both State and Commonwealth, in the waters contiguous to the States, could be supervised by State officials, to the degree necessary, under power delegated by the Commonwealth. In this way it is hoped to avoid duplication and extravagance in the administration of a complementary system of State and Commonwealth fisheries legislation. The intentions of the Commonwealth in this connexion were discussed with the State Ministers which deal with fisheries at a conference a few weeks ago, and the Commonwealth proposals were, in general, concurred to by the State Ministers.
The Australian fishing industry, although small in comparison with the fishing industries of the major fishproducing countries, such as Norway, Canada and the United Kingdom, is important, particularly from the point of view of its value as a source of food. During 1950-51 the production of scale fish in Australia was about 70,000,000 lb., and it was valued at £3,725,753. Crayfish, prawns and oysters to the value of £1,667,479 were also produced. In addition, pearl shell valued at £760,000 and the products of the whaling industry valued at approximately £1,500,000, must be included. The dollar earnings from crayfish and pearl shell approximated 3,000,000 dollar-. It will be seen, therefore, that the fishing industry is quite an important factor in our economy, and that it is capable of considerable expansion. We must be careful, however, to guard against undue depletion of our fisheries resources.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has, since 1938, maintained a Fisheries Division for the purpose of carrying out research” and investigations into the fishing industry. In addition, the various States have provided for the management and, to some extent, the development of fisheries in waters within their territorial limits. As far back as 1907 a conference was held to consider the desirability of uniform fisheries laws for the States and questions relating to Australian fisheries. Resolutions of the conference related to the scientific investigation and development of fisheries as a Commonwealth responsi bility and the collection of fisheries statistics. As a result a Commonwealth Director of Fisheries was appointed and a federal fisheries investigation trawler was placed in commission. Unfortunately, the vessel was lost with all hands in 1914, and the Commonwealth’s direct interest in fisheries lapsed. However, the work which had been done proved invaluable, and formed the basis for the development of the fish trawling industry in Australia.
Later, a report of the Development and Migration Commission in 1927 stressed the need for the development of fisheries from the Commonwealth angle. More recently, in 1941, the Tariff Board, after a thorough investigation of the Australian fishing industry, recommended that a Commonwealth fisheries development authority be set up to carry out development work. The question of the establishmnet of such a Commonwealth fisheries authority, with legislative powers in respect of fisheries beyond territorial limits, was submitted to the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers in August, 1945, at the end of the war period. It was agreed that such action should be taken, and that a conference of Commonwealth and State fisheries officers should be convened to consider the implementation of the recommendations.
In 1946, pursuant to the decisions of that conference, a Commonwealth fisheries authority was established within the Department of Commerce and Agriculture for the purpose of undertaking a programme of management and development in the fishing industry. It had long been apparent that such a programme was required, but it could not be effectively implemented without legislation.
The conference of Commonwealth and State fisheries officers, which was held in February, 1947, agreed that steps should be taken by the Commonwealth to enact legislation to cover fisheries in the waters beyond the three-mile limit. Draft legislation was prepared in 194S, but as the whole question of the competence of States to enact fishing legislation became the subject of international discussion, the legislation was not then proceeded with. I mention, at this stage, that action has been taken by a number of other countries to assert rights over natura] resources in waters beyond the accepted territorial limits. In 1945, the President of the United States of America issued proclamations asserting the jurisdiction of the United States of America over the natural resources of the continental shelf, under the high seas contiguous to the coasts of the United States of America and its territories, and providing for the establishment of conservational zones for the protection of fisheries in certain areas of the high seas contiguous to the United States of America. Subsequently, other countries, including Mexico, Peru and Argentina, took similar action. Such assertions of rights have not been tested at international law, but they are indicative of the present-day thinking of nations with interests comparable to those of Australia.
Considerable interest has been aroused among maritime States by the recent judgment of the International Court of Justice on a dispute between the United Kingdom and Norway regarding the enforcement of Norwegian legislation against United Kingdom fishermen. This judgment has no great significance so far this bill and another one that is before the House are concerned. The rule which was laid down by the court related solely to the fixingof the base-line from which the Norwegian territorial waters should be measured, and, in formulating the rule, the court paid particular attention to the special features of the Norwegian coastline, and of Norwegian economic history, which, perhaps have no strict parallel in Australia. Theoretically, the judgment may be of importance in determining where State powers cease and where Commonwealth jurisdiction commences, but, as I mention elsewhere in this speech, it is proposed to place the administration of the legislation in the hands of the States; and, as far as possible, to regulate uniformly fishing both within and outside territorial limits.
It may be of interest to honorable members if I mention some instances in which the absence of Commonwealth legislation of the nature proposed in this bill has prevented the taking of adequate measures for the protection of fisheries. Many of the trap fisheries off the coast of New South Wales are outside the 3-mile limit, and, therefore, beyond the jurisdiction of the State of New South Wales. Fishermen have complained that their traps havebeen raised by “fish pirates “, who remove the fish from the traps and sometimes cut the float line before releasing the traps. The result is that fishermen lose not only the fish but also the gear, which is extremely difficult to replace. It has not been possible to take effective action in such cases under existing laws, but the proposed legislation will enable action to be taken to protect the legitimate fisherman. The Tasmanian and Victorian Fisheries Departments are vitally interested in the depletion of the shark fishery in Bass Strait, and are anxious to obtain powers, by delegation from the Commonwealth, to carry out a conservation programme. At present they have no power to do so. Recently in Western Australia, threats have been made by certain crayfishermen that they will operate outside the territorial limits of the State and take crayfish outside the season fixed by the Western Australian Government. If this legislation is passed, power can be delegated to the State Fisheries Department by the Commonwealth to control those fisheries.
The future development of fisheries in Australian waters depends mainly on the catching of pelagic fish, most of which will be taken outside the ordinary State limits. Australian fisheries which are located either wholly or partly in waters beyond the territorial limits of the State and the territories include the following:
It will be noted that no mention has been made of the important pearl shell, trochus,beche-de-mer and green snail fisheries, as a separate bill is being introduced to cover them. I shall deal fully with the reasons for the separate legislation when I introduce that bill.
It will be appreciated that the Australian Government has common interests with the governments of other countries concerned in fishing in waters to the north of Australia,particularly on the Australian continental shelf. In this regard, honorable members will recall the reference to Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Treaty which was mentioned by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). It reads as follows: -
Ja pan will enter promptly into negotiations with the Allied Powers so desiring for the conclusion of bilateral and multilateral agreements providing for the regulation or limitation of fishing and the conservation and development of fisheries on the high seas.
Apart from Japan, it may be desirable for Australia to consider entering into arrangements with the governments of Indonesia, the Netherlands, in respect of Dutch New Guinea, and Portugal in respect of Portuguese Timor, covering the spheres of common interest in these waters. The operations in Australian extra-territorial waters of fishermen from other countries can be regulated only by agreement with the governments of those countries, and before entering into negotiations with any other governments for such agreements, it is necessary to have legislation governing fishing operations in such waters. Australia would be in an extremely weak position in attempting to negotiate agreements on fishing with other countries in the absence of domestic legislation providing for the management of fisheries in Australian waters.
In conclusion, I stress again that the existing State fisheries departments, with their inspection staffs, will, as far as possible, with the concurrence of the State governments, be used to carry out the various functions envisaged in this bill. Further, it is intended that regulations will be framed in collaboration with the States with a view to providing uniform control over fishing operations in waters both inside and outside the territorial limits of the States. Similar action will be taken in respect of Commonwealth territories.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is the conservation of Australia’s sedentary fisheries, including mother-of-pearl, trochus, beche-de-mer and green snail. These fisheries are situated on the continental shelf, which fringes the Australian coast, and extend from Shark Bay on the west coast to the Great Barrier Beef on the east coast.
– What is the continental shelf?
– The expression has not, as yet, acquired a universally-agreed meaning, but, for present purposes, I use it to refer to the waters surrounding the Australian coast where the depth does not exceed 100 fathoms. It is a fairly common feature of the sea bed surrounding land masses that it slopes gradually away from the coast until, at a depth of 100 fathoms or thereabouts it descends much more steeply to the ocean depths. Australia’s sedentary fisheries are located on the Australian continental shelf, as I have just described it. Like the Fisheries Bill 1952, this legislation will operate only in respect of waters which will be specified in proclamations to be made by the Governor-General.
Pearl shell is the major product and has proved a good dollar earner for Australia. These fisheries really commenced in 1850, when Lieutenant Helpman, of theRoyal Navy, discovered the first mother-of-pearl beds off the Western Australian coast, and the first recorded export of mother-of-pearl shell from Australia was made in 1862 . So Australia has been engaged in this industry for 100 years. There are good reasons why
Australia can claim to have pioneered this industry. The Commonwealth and the States, over the years, have assisted the industry in many ways and provided the ports, lighthouses, wireless and meteorological services as well as work in connexion with the Marine Hydrographic Survey.
Sedentary fisheries are in a different category to ordinary polagic and demersal fisheries. Mother-of-pearl, trochus, beche-de-mer and green snail are attached to the sea bed or reefs. Without proper conservation programmes, these fisheries can be over-fished and depleted. In fact, the history of foreign operators before 1941 showed how dangerous it was to allow uncontrolled fishing on the continental shelf. It has been recognized for many years that sedentary fisheries require special treatment. In 1888 an act was passed by the Federal Council of Australasia termed “ The Queensland Pearl Shell and Beche-de-mer Fisheries (Extra-Territorial) Act of 1888”, and a similar act was passed in 1889 entitled
The Western Australian Pearl Shell and Beche-de-mer Fisheries (ExtraTerritorial) Act of 1S89 “. Both acts are still in force, and will be repealed by this Commonwealth legislation, which will provide means for the assumption of extraterritorial rights by the Commonwealth. Under those two acts, both Queensland and Western Australia assumed control of a large area of the sea bed for the purpose of conserving the fishery. Similar powers have been exercised over the pearl shell beds in the Gulf of Manaar, which are situated between Ceylon and India. The Ceylonese Government at present controls this pearl fishery, although it is situated outside the ordinary 3 mile limits of Ceylon.
The Northern Territory Development Committee, in its report on the pearl shell, beche-de-mer, and trochus industry of Northern Australia, submitted a strong recommendation to the effect that the Commonwealth should proceed with its plans for the assumption of administrative responsibility in respect of extraterritorial fisheries. In 1947, at a conference of the chief fisheries officers of Australia, this recommendation was endorsed and the two States concerned, Queensland and Western Australia, have signified their agreement with this recommendation. It is proposed that as far as possible, the administration of the hill will be undertaken by State officials. The work in the case of the Northern Territory will be carried out by officials of the territory.
The act will apply to “Australian waters “, which will include “ Australian waters beyond territorial limits and waters adjacent to a territory and within territorial limits “. Power of delegation is clearly indicated in the bill, and it will be possible to delegate any of the powers to Commonwealth and State officers and so avoid over-centralization of administration. Although this bill- has only been brought forward this year, it has been under consideration for some time. The original draft was prepared in 1948, but it was not proceeded with at that time since the whole matter of the competence of the States to enact fishing legislation became the subject of international discussion. I stress that unless the Commonwealth has legislation to enable proper control to be exercised, including a wise conservation plan, it will not be possible to prevent the serious depletion and ultimate ruin of this valuable fishery.
This legislation is required in order to control this fishing effectively and so avoid the undue depletion of the motherofpearl, trochus, beche-de-mer and green snail fisheries. At present, only Australian nationals are operating in these waters and many of them are doing so in the absence of any governmental control. From our previous experience with foreign pearlers, it is necessary to lay down strict regulations in the fishery to control pearlers, and thereby ensure a proper conservation programme.
Debate (on motion by Dr.. Evatt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 21st Feb.ary (vide page 217), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I ask for leave to follow the example of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in debating this measure so that I may discuss the Parliamentary Allowances Bill, the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill and the measure in relation to income tax in my speech on this bill as they all hear on the salaries and allowances of members of this Parliament.
– Was it not decided in the first place, Mr. Speaker, that all honorable members should have leave to discuss the four bills in this debate?
– The Leader of the Opposition was good enough to refer this matter to me before the debate was called on and I informed him that certain honorable gentlemen had reserved the right to speak on each bill separately. That is still the situation as far as I am concerned.
– The four bills are most conveniently considered together. They all relate to matters that arise directly from the report of the committee appointed ‘by the Government, which was presided over by Mr. Justice Nicholas and which I shall refer to as the Nicholas committee. The first bill deals with the salaries and allowances of Ministers. The second deals with the allowances of members of each House of the Parliament. The third deals with retiring allowances and has been drafted primarily to provide for persons who have occupied the high office of Prime Minister and, in certain circumstances, their widows. The fourth deals with a proposed amendment of the taxation law.
All of the measures have been considered by the Opposition, which has decided that they should be passed, and I have .been authorized to explain its attitude. I do not wish to engage in a general discussion of the report of the Nicholas committee because the bills relate solely to salaries and allowances. The report refers to other matters, in respect of which it might be considered to be anomalous and unsatisfactory. I shall not discuss those matters. The most notable feature of the report is that it states in the clearest possible way, for the information of the people, the duties that are performed by Ministers of State and by other members of the Parliament. It describes the contrast between the present position and the position that existed ten or fifteen years ago, when many of the functions that are now discharged by this Parliament, particularly in .the enormously expanded field of social service? and repatriation benefits, were performed- by State parliaments. This Parliament has developed in harmony with the growing stature of Australia as a nation. That development is well described in the report, and I hope that its contents will be made known over the widest possible field. The Ministers of State Bill embodies recommendations of the committee which have -been properly made and which should be properly put into effect. The Parliamentary Allowances Bill also accords strictly with the recommendations of the committee. The third measure, which relates to the provision of allowances for men who have held office as Prime Minister and, subject to certain conditions, for their widows, also embodies the recommendations of the committee. It will provide for circumstances of great importance, and even of dirK necessity, such as have arisen in the past. As the Prime Minister knows, the late Mr. ‘Chifley and I raised such cases of hardship on various occasions.
The bill that relates to taxation is the only one of the four measures that has been seriously criticized. The newspaper? have commented adversely on the proposal to provide what may be described as taxfree allowances for Ministers and other members of the Parliament. However, apart from that criticism, no substantial objection to the proposals has been raised in any quarter. I am justified in pointing out at this stage that influential newspapers throughout Australia welcomed the Government’s decision to refer all these matters to the Nicholas committee. For example, the Sydney Morning Herald published the following comment on the 14th November last: -
As ‘an alternative to direct action by Parliament, the Menzies Government’s appointment of an independent tribunal to report on Ministers and members’ salaries will be generally approved . . . Mi-. Justice Nicholas and his colleagues may well find that a revision of Parliamentary salaries is due.
The Melbourne. Herald of the same date took much the same line. I refer honorable members also to an article that was published in the Canberra Times of the 12th February.
The general sense of the criticisms which I have mentioned is that privileges are to be granted to members of the Parliament which are unheard of and unprecedented and which will put them in a special class. In view of such comments, it is necessary for me to state the facts. The allowances that will be exempt from taxation are specified in the appropriate bills. The Parliamentary Allowances Bil] states -
Each Senator shall receive, in addition to the allowance referred to in the last preceding sub-section, an allowance, in respect of the expenses of discharging his duties. . . .
The crucial words are, “ in respect of the expenses of discharging his duties “ Provision is made in similar terms for Ministers and for members of this House. Those provisions mean that that portion of the total remuneration of a member of the Parliament is to be given expressly on the condition that it is to be used tor the purpose of paying expenses involved in carrying out the necessary duties of his office and for no other purpose. They will not establish a trust in the legal sense of- the term, but everybody realizes that the proposal is not to make an unconditional grant of money. It is to be a grant of money for the sole purpose of meeting essential expenses. Let U3 consider the position of a business executive who, in addition to his salary of, say, £2,000 a year, is provided with an allowance of £1,000 to defray travelling and entertainment expenses incurred in discharging the duties of his position. His total income would be £3,000 but, if he used his entire allowance of £1,000 for the purpose for which it was provided, there would be an immediate deduction of £1,000. Therefore, subject to the conditions of the contract being satisfied, the amount of £1,000 could be described as a tax-free allowance. However, that is a misleading description because such money is not available for the free disposal of the recipient but is paid to him for a specific purpose. That general principle applies to the proposed allowances for which these bills provide.
The Nicholas committee made the following recommendations on this subject : -
We recommend that each senator and each representative receive an allowance of £1,750 per annum, an addition of £250 per annum to the allowance at present received; this sum to be liable to a statutory deduction in respect of the weekly contribution to the member’s retiring allowance fund and to income tax. We further recommend that each member receive an annual sum not liable to taxation or to statutory deduction which would supersede any deduction for expenses now made by the Commissioner for Taxation.
As honorable members will realize if they study the second of the two recommendations that I have quoted, the proposed tax-free allowances will merely be substituted for the deductions that may be made under the present system of tax assessment. The effect of the proposals, in relation to a metropolitan constituency, will be that the remuneration of a member of this House will be increased from £1,500 to £1,750, plus £400 payable in respect of expenses that will be involved in the discharge of the member’s duties. The simplest, fairest and clearest way to look at the proposal is to regard the allowance of £1,750 and the further allowance of £400 as an aggregate payment of £2,150. Under the ordinary taxation procedure, expenses arising in the course of discharging the duties of office, would be deductible. The Nicholas committee assumed that an amount of £400 would be a reasonable sum to cover such expenses. Therefore, it has recommended that that amount be free of tax. The proposal is merely to simplify the taxation procedure. The result will be the same as it has been up to date. The report of the committee sets out the practice that has been followed by members of this Parliament since 1927 in these terms -
Deductions allowed, pursuant to the provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act, include - (a) Electorate allowance covering expenses for travelling, entertainment. &c, incurred by a member, in his electorate, in the performance of his parliamentary duties.
Where a member keeps accurate and detailed records of the expenditure incurred by him, the portion thereof which is allowable as ti deduction is capable of precise determination and is allowed accordingly.
It has been found, however, that in most cases it is impossible for members to maintain records in sufficient detail to support claims for deduction. In these circumstances, it is the practice of the Commissioner of Taxation to determine the amount of the deduction to be allowed in respect of each electorate, having regard to factors such as the size of the electorate, the travel facilities available in it, the location of its principal towns and industries and the number of electors. These factors will determine the travelling, entertainment, &c, which it will be necessary for the member to incur in order to perform his parliamentary duties.
In 1937 the deduction varied from £150 to £400. In 1927 the present Minister. for Health (Sir Earle Page) referred to the inauguration of this practice. So it has gone on for 25 years, but the figures have changed with the cost of living, because in 1948 an increase was made to the present figure of £275, which varies to £600. In what position does that leave honorable members? It means that they should look on this increase as an increase in the allowance for the basic constituency from £1,500 to £2,150, not to £1,750. Other factors are dealt with differentially. In the ease of an amount of £2,150 the deduction has increased to £400, which is an exact reflection of the increased cost of living. If we were starting the matter afresh it would be practicable to fix the salary in that way. Perhaps we should have said that it should be £2,175 or some differential salary related to the constituency, and applied to that figure a system of deduction. In the future, instead of the deductible allowance being fixed by the administrative act of the Commissioner of Taxation, it will be fixed by this legislation, and that seems to me to be an indirect way of doing what could have been done better more directly. I have to object to it on that ground. The money is given for the purpose of discharging the duties of a Minister, an honorable member or an officer, and it is intended that it should bc expended in the discharge of those duties. So regarded, it would, according to every principle of taxation law applicable to employment in the Commonwealth, be deductible.’
I think that is the only recommendation involved in these four measures that has been criticized. The criticism is perfectly proper, and some people think that it is justified, although I do not. I think that the form is not the most satisfactory, but it would be quite wrong for the House to talk in the abstract of tax-free allowances. In substance what has been done is to increase the basic constituency rate. The deduction applicable thereto has been made £400 instead of £235. I have not referred to other constituencies, the allowances for which will vary according to the schedule. I do not want to discuss the matter at greater length. There may be objections to the inclusion of one constituency rather than another in certain categories. I say, in substance, that it would be wrong for use to accept the main principles of the report as outlined in these four bills and then give as a ground for rejecting the measures our disagreement with the tax-free allowance. Therefore, on behalf of the Opposition, I state that our view is that the four bills should pass into law.
– I desire to make clear my attitude towards these measures. I think that the Nicholas committee has submitted an excellent report to the Government. Its recommendations have been based on factual grounds familiar to every honorable member. We all know that an appreciable number of honorable members carry out their parliamentary duties and at the same time try to look after their families, sometimes under considerable difficulty and even under circumstances of great financial hardship. I quote only my own case, which I take it is the same as that of any other honorable member. During the ten years that I have been a member of the Parliament I have been forced to spend quite appreciable sums each year to make good the losses that I have sustained owing to the inadequacy of my parliamentary allowance. I do not mind that. I am. in the fortunate position of having some private means. I absolutely support the recommended allowances for honorable members, with one qualification that I shall make later.
The Nicholas committee has made suitable and proper recommendations with regard to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Ministers. It has recognized the fact that ministerial duties have increased enormously during the last ten years. Not only have Ministers’ duties increased, but they have also become more onerous and responsible. As the report states, the salaries and allowances of Ministers are at present completely out of step with salaries and allowances in industry and commerce throughout Australia. It is well known that in many instances ministerial salaries are appreciably less than the salaries of some- of the officers who serve under them. Therefore, I believe that this recommendation is a good one. There is another side to this question, and it is a psychological side, which I have no doubt all honorable members have considered.
The times are abnormal. The inflationary spiral affects us as it does all other members of the community. That spiral is being constantly influenced by the rigid system of basic wage adjustments within our arbitration, system. Margins for skill are unsatisfactory in many cases to-day, and have been subject to a recent award by Conciliation Commissioner ©alvin. Sooner- or later we. must try to do something about this matter,, and surely action must come first from the Government and, secondly, from honorable, mem: bers of this House. If we consider first the strong factual reasons for this proposed increase of salaries, and then consider the psychological reason, we must determine which outweighs the other. It seems to me that the psychological reason outweighs- to some extent the factual, reasons. Therefore, I believe that it is most unfortunate- that we should be forced at this time to bring in- these measures.
I think it is most unfortunate that the bill which relates to ministerial salaries should have been brought down just now. While I know that heavy duties and responsibilities fall on Ministers, they, at least in comparison with private members of the Parliament, are raised somewhat above the bread-line upon which many honorable members ar.e now living. Therefore, I suggest that there might be some reduction of the proposed salaries and allowances for
Ministers. I exclude from those remarks the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, because I believe that their duties are such that the proposed allowances are not in the least generous to them. It may be argued that if I express these views against the increase of ministerial salaries, then, to be consistent, I must oppose the proposed increase of members’ salaries. However, I do not do so. I do not oppose the increase of members’ salaries because members are due for a rise of salary and allowances, and only honorable members themselves know their exact circumstances and the psychological, reasons which may force them to take these increases or deal with them in other ways. I am not able to support the bill which provides for an increase of ministerial salaries, and allowances.
– Although I. desire to address myself only to the bill”, which concerns Ministers’ salaries and allowances, I desire to raise somewhat wider issues than those that have hitherto been raised. The bill, by settling the number of Ministers, settles thereby the framework within which our cabinet system must work. Therefore it settles the nature of our cabinet system. I, and. I think other honorable members also, have been a little perturbed by the way in which the cabinet system is working, or- in some cases is failing to work. This is not in any sense a criticism of any of the Ministers. It is merely an indication, to my mind, of the need to re-examine at this stage the basis of our cabinet system. Those familiar with the works of Jennings, who states that the cabinet system is the core and nucleus of parliamentary government, will realize the importance of such a topic. They may forget sometimes that the cabinet system which has been developed here is different in some quite significant respects from its British, prototype. They may forget also that the British prototype itself is in process of evolvement and has undergone some significant changes since the establishment of the Australian Constitution.
When we look back we will, perhaps, realize that our cabinet system, which stems from the British system, has been frozen, and has not undergone the evolutionary changes and modifications that have characterized the British system. Under the British system there are 34 Ministers. Of those, however, only sixteen are Cabinet Ministers and eighteen are Ministers- outside the Cabinet. There are, in addition, 27 parliamentary undersecretaries who are provided for under the act. In the working of this British system, even the Cabinet of sixteen is not the ultimate nucleus because there is an unofficial group that is known as the inner Cabinet which seems to have gained in significance over the last twenty years. It is a group of four, five or six senior Ministers who meet together to decide questions of high policy.
The system of Cabinet sub-committees in Great. Britain differs significantly from the system in Australia in that it is not normal, except on questions of high policy which involve more than one department, for members of such a committee to be drawn exclusively or mainly from members of the Cabinet itself. Ministers who are not members of the Cabinet and parliamentary under-secretaries serve on such, committees. One realizes that the British system, being based not on a written constitution such as ours, but on an unwritten constitution, has a freedom from limitations which the Australian system does not possess. Britain is not bound by such a provision as that contained in section 44 of our Constitution which prevents members of the Parliament from holding office under the Crown except as Ministers of State, nor is it bound by the implications of section 64, which prescribes that Ministers must be members of the House. It may be. said that it is the general practice for British Ministers to be members of one of the Houses of the Parliament. That is so, but honorable members must remember also that in Great Britain there is the power of appointment to the House of Lords, which is not analogous to any power in the Australian Constitution. Those are significant differences.
Why is it that our Cabinet system is not working as well as it should do? I think that there are two factors to which attention should be drawn. The first of those is the widening of the scope of go vernment which in the last twelve years has grown ten times in terms of money and very greatly in terms of complexity. The second is something that we do not like but which honorable members might as well admit to be a fact. It is the growing politicalization of the Public Service. Because of that, the political views of the senior public servants are likely to be coloured and to affect departmental policy. The degree of supervision that is required from a Minister over his department inevitably has been increased as a result. The generally admitted position is that Ministers are overworked and a number of other disadvantages flow from that fact. I have heard Ministers say often enough that they have not the time that they ought to have to give to the general consideration of major questions of policy and major political principles. I believe that that is true and it arises from the attention that they must give to innumerable matters of detail. There is not a member in this Parliament who from time to time does not write numerous letters about matters of detail to senior Ministers. The members receive the courtesy of a personal reply from the Minister. It may be said that the replies are prepared for the Minister’s signature. That may be so, although I do not believe that it is true to the extent that is generally believed. But even to sign letters and take responsibility for them is no light task. Ministers are inundated with detail. Anybody who has any true interest in this Parliament will realise that that is not a criticism of the Ministers but of the system.
Too few Ministers are in the House. That is a significant difference between the practice in the British House of Commons and in this House. To take over command of the House is regarded as an unwelcome chore. Very seldom are there more than one or two Ministers on the front bench and in consequence the power and prestige of this House, which should be a central feature of government, has tended to decline. One does not blame the Ministers. The calls on their time are such that they cannot be in the House very much. I blame the system not the individual. Because of overwork and pressure if time,
Ministers are not always accessible to private members of the Government parties or of the Opposition. I make that statement as cae who believes sincerely that private members of the Opposition have a real function to perform and are entitled to more time for Ministers than they are getting. This is not a criticism of anything except the system. There are only 24 hours a day and Ministers are overworked, but I believe that we must find a system under which private members of this House, whether on the Government side or the Opposition side, should have a nearer view of the processes of government and should be able to give more effective representation to the people who have elected them.
Because of the inaccessibility of Ministers and the fact that they have no time to study every detail of the matters that are put before them, there has been inevitably a growth in the power of the bureaucracy. The department tends to run the Minister because the Minister has not the time, and, under present conditions, it is not humanly possible for him to get the time, to give detailed consideration to all the matters that come before him. Some honorable members may believe that the growth of the power of bureaucracy is a good thing. I do not believe that. I think it is a bad thing. Honorable members are sent here to become, among other things, protectors to the people against the pressure of bureaucracy. People who belittle the members of Parliament very often have their own axe to grind because the bureaucracy is important to them and they believe that by breaking down the status of the member of Parliament they can increase the power of the bureaucracy. Behind the campaign against members of Parliament there is a definite bureaucratic drive.
Our Cabinet sub-committee tends to be rather different from the British Cabinet sub-committee and to require an inordinate amount of the time of Ministers. For that reason I would like to think that there were plans in mind to change the present system, not merely to imitate slavishly the British system but to develop a system that would be fully suitable to Australian circumstances. I think that we need a Cabinet of perhaps ten or twelve Ministers with a group of junior Ministers or parliamentary undersecretaries, call them what you will, under senior ministerial authority. I believe that the Cabinet should include two Ministers who have no portfolios or duties at all.
Conversation being audible,
– Order! If the interruption from my left does not cease I shall take action. It is now about afternoon tea time and an excellent time to do so.
– I believe that the Prime Minister should not be burdened with any departmental duties whatever and that his duties should be confined to the control of the Cabinet and the determination of major matters of policy. I believe that there should be at least one Cabinet Minister with no responsibility beyond the Parliament because the work in this House and in the Senate should be sufficient to occupy the time of one of the senior Ministers who would be required to make effective in the Parliament the programme laid down and initiated by the Prime Minister as head of the Cabinet. It might be possible to group the effective departments under seven, eight, nine or ten heads. For example, there might be a senior Defence Minister with under-secretaries for the Army, the .Navy, the Air Force and Supply, and a senior Treasury Minister with under-secretaries with duties related to the budget, the Loan Council, banking policy and miscellaneous treasury matters.
Very many alternative groupings could be suggested but the principle is clear that we should be looking for a smaller number of Ministers who are concerned only with policy and that each one of them should have under his command and responsible to him a number of parliamentary under-secretaries. Those junior Ministers should be given responsibilities within their own sphere. One would hope that they would be capable, for example, as their counterparts are in the House of Commons, of answering the oral questions that are brought forward from day to day. One would hope that they would take from the Minister the details of correspondence. While preserving responsibility to their senior Ministers, they would have executive responsibility in their own sections. Unless they were sworn in as Ministers, section 44 of the Constitution would preclude payments to them - and, indeed, I do not think they should be paid - but I think that they should be given not just a title but an executive power subject to the overriding power of their senior Minister. They could perhaps attend Cabinet meetings to discuss matters that affected their own departments, on the invitation of their senior Minister, and only on that invitation. They would take the necessary oath of office, and each group would form its own Cabinet subcommittee. As things stand now when a Minister has to make a major decision, even if he is sure of his ground, he likes to have the critical eye of another parliamentarian cast on the matter at issue. As a result, we have this system of timeconsuming Cabinet sub-committees which take the attention of Ministers on problems that He outside their own departments. The system that I suggest would give us a Cabinet sub-committee system that would involve no encroachments on the time of senior Ministers. It has all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of the present system.
It might well be that even in the system I have suggested we should adopt some other feature of the British system, and think perhaps in terms of a small inner Cabinet of three, four or five Ministers to deal with matters of the highest policy only. The inner Cabinet in the British system is quite an informal body. Its membership may even fluctuate from time to time. It has the flexibility of informality. Such a system may be worth our consideration here.
The system that I have suggested has all the advantages, and avoids the disadvantages, of our present system. It has two additional advantages. The first is that it would provide an opportunity to reorganize the departments and get rid of the overlapping which, in many instances is marring the efficiency of our administration. The second is that it would give us an opportunity to re adjust the relative importance of government departments. The federal system, like Topsy, has just grown, and there is perhaps not sufficient sense of proportion between the various departments, the seniority and scope of which are sometimes determined by historical considerations rather than by considerations of present needs.
I repeat that nothing that I have said is intended, in any way, as a criticism of any Minister. I believe that the tasks that are being set for Ministers are beyond ordinary human capacities, and that Ministers are inundated with detail and have no time for the consideration of matters of general principle. Because Ministers are so inundated, general principles are somethimes neglected, and the detail is not always as efficiently considered as it should be. If, as I maintain, our system is not working well at the moment, we should consider what would happen if it were submitted to the larger stress that might be laid upon it should there be any intensification of the present internal crisis.
The suggestions that I have put to the House are in general terms. It is my intention to support this measure as it stands, but I believe that somewhat more thought should be given to the reorganization of our whole Cabinet system so as to bring it up to date in the light of the circumstances as they have unfortunately, emerged and as they may emerge.
– I am impelled to speak on this measure, not so much as a member of the Government, but as a member of this Parliament for many years. Our two parliamentary leaders, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), have placed the House in their debt for the clear and frank manner in which they have indicated the attitude of the parties that they repre- sent to the four measures we are considering. They have done much to remove the misunderstanding of what underlies this legislation and to remedy the lack of knowledge that, I believe, existed before they spoke in the debate.
The first matter with which I shall deal concerns the institution of the press in this country. I am afraid that I cannot take the same forgiving attitude to the press on this issue that was displayed this afternoon by the Leader of the Opposition. “We all acknowledge, to our regret, that the position of members of Parliament in Australia is a low one in the eyes of the people. I believe that the increases of parliamentary allowances that have been necessary over the years since federation, have helped to create that situation, not because the public itself begrudges to its representatives a reasonable living allowance but because every time this issue has arisen it has been so distorted, or presented, by the press in so unfavorable a light, that the public has gradually adopted the attitude reflected by the press and vents it against its parliamentary representatives. I am not saying that the press initiated that reaction because undoubtedly there has always been in the minds of the people an emotional prejudice on an issue of this kind, but I do say that if the press of this country had accepted a responsibility for leadership in the matter and had sought to give some guidance to the electorate, it could at least have ensured that the position would be shown in its true light and that the facts shown behind the few increases of parliamentary allowances that have been made over the years were fairly stated to the public.
There are some aspects of this matter which I consider still require to be fairly presented to the public. Our experience of press criticism in relation to this matter .over recent weeks during which we have been subjected to a broadside attack by press organizations, is not a new one. I can recall quite vividly, as I am sure other honorable members who were here at the time can also recall, a speech made by the right honorable member for .Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) when a similar matter was before us in 1947. He pointed out that parliamentary allowances had been increased in 1906, and 1920 and were about to be increased at the time he was making his speech. He said that on every occasion on which the matter had arisen it had produced in the press the same kind of leading articles, containing the same arguments, and the same kind of abuse of the public’s representatives. If such criticisms are warranted, then we are not fit to be here. Such campaigns have been directed against us time after time over those years. “We are here to-day because we are the freely elected representatives of the Australian people. “We represent the best choice, in the opinion of the electorate, that was offering at the time of our election. The people elected us to give expression to the policies that they wished to have put into effect, and we are entitled to justice and fair dealing in connexion with our own problems.
The Constitution places upon the Parliament the responsibility to decide the scale of parliamentary allowances. Does any fair-minded man contend that the Parliament has abused that responsibility? If so, I ask him to examine the record. The first increase of the parliamentary allowance was made in 1906, when the payment was lifted from £400 to £600 a year. Not until fourteen years had passed was the allowance increased to £1,000 a year. After that increase had been made no further increase occurred for 27 years, until 1947. Is that evidence of an abuse of privilege or responsibility on the part of members of the Parliament? Now, five years later, we are to make further adjustments. Does anybody who has studied the movement of costs and prices since 19417 maintain that the proposed increases are unreasonable? I have heard about the position of tradesmen, and about the Galvin award. Each of us may have his own views about that award, but let us examine, on a basis of facts and figures, the position of tradesmen in 1947, when parliamentary allowances were last increased, in relation to their position to-day. In 1947 the average weekly wage earned in Australia was £6 12s. In the September quarter of last year it was £12 16s. or nearly double the 1947 amount. In the same period the basic wage increased by nearly 90 per cent. I do not know of any single section of the community that has not had some upward adjustment of income in the period between 1947 and now. Some people have gained very substantially in that time. If I am told that there are people on fixed incomes, such as investors, who have suffered, my reply is that all of them have enjoyed some capital appreciation of their assets in that period, and very few of them have no other income than that which they derive from those assets.
AH of these adjustments have been enjoyed by people outside during the last five years, but the adjustments that it i3 now proposed to make to the allowances of honorable members is not one that will date back over, each of these years according to the scale of cost3 and prices in each year, but one that will catch up to some degree only, for the proposed increases will, according. to the statistics available, by no means completely meet the rise of costs and prices that has occurred since 1947 when the last adjustment was made. This adjustment is to be made on the recommendation of a committee that the Government appointed. It was partly because of public reaction in the past, fanned by an intemperate press treatment of this matter, that it was decided to appoint a committee to deal with the matter. “We know that we have the responsibility to fix the scale of our allowances, but the Government considered that it would give people greater satisfaction if they felt that the facts were being carefully and impartially examined by a body of respected and independent men. I beard no criticism of the personnel of the committee that we appointed. We selected as members of the committee a former chief judge in equity, a respected business man. who has given service to governments of all political parties in this country, and an authority in accountancy who has given expert advice on taxation to the nation, who could make a useful contribution to an examination of this matter. The criticism did not descend on us until shortly before the committee’s report had been adopted by the Government.
The Leader of the Opposition has said that the only matter on which the press has offered, substantial criticism has been the so-called tax-free allowances. Has any one of us who has any experience of how this matter has been treated ‘.n the past, any illusion about the reaction that the proposals have produced in the press? If it had not been tax-free allowances that the press had seized on for criticism, it would have been something else. Several of the most respectable press organizations in this country could not even wait for the report to be published before they published leading articles in which the increases of allowances that they understood honorable members were to receive were attacked. Some of the criticisms which were published several days before the report was known were found to be based on false premises which the report did not substantiate. So I ask honorable members to examine fairly, and with a proper sense of our responsibility to other sections of the community the proposals contained in these bills. I ask them, not to imagine that if this provision for the so-called tax-free allowances had not appeared in the report, the report would have been hailed with joy and satisfaction by the press or the public.
Are the criticisms that have been made fair ? First, we have been told that this is a novel principle, and that we intend to make of ourselves a special privileged group. Whatever else may be said about the principle, it is not novel. It has applied in this Parliament to certain of our office holders for years. The Prime Minister of this country has always had an allowance which purports to cover some of the expenses of his office. Mr. Speaker and the President of the Senate also have had allowances. Diplomatic representatives, trade commissioners and the like, who are appointed under the authority of this Parliament, receive a representation allowance that is made available to them to cover expenses that are properly attributable to their functions. Other English-speaking parliaments outside this country, either on their own initiative or acting on the recommendations of tribunals similar to the committee that we appointed, have made similar provisions. Canada, South Africa and New Zealand have done so. In Great Britain, the practice is not precisely the same, but a member of the British House of Commous may claim the full amount of his or her parliamentary salary as a deduction in respect of income tax in instances in which the amount of salary is expended in the carrying out of the duties of a member of Parliament. It might be asked why we should not follow that practice which involves proper documentation of claims for income tax deductions. Is it seriously suggested that the expenditure .that a member incurs on every occasion on which he entertains at tea three, or four, of his constituents in the parliamentary refreshment rooms, or entertains people at his own home, or his wife patronizes a local bazaar and makes purchases at a jumble stall, should be completely documented and the receipts be maintained throughout each year to be handed eventually to the Commissioner of Taxation? The Nicholas committee recognized how impracticable that would be, and recommended that we should do as is clone in other parliaments - make a reasonable provision to cover such matters. In fact, the provision that the committee has recommended will not cover the expenditure that some members of the Parliament are obliged to incur in the course of their parliamentary duties, and to that degree those honorable members will be at a disadvantage after this measure is passed compared with their position now, when they have the opportunity to establish to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Taxation that they are entitled to certain deductions in respect of their expenses. There is nothing novel about the principle that is embodied in the bill. It has endured for years in relation to certain work of members of the Parliament and also of certain governmental officers. Indeed, it is operating in most of the State Parliaments as the result of action taken on their own initiative or in consequence of a recommendation by a tribunal such as was appointed in, for instance, Victoria.
I wish now to refer to another matter that is of even greater importance from the point of view of the people of Australia.’ The work of this Parliament has grown immensely in responsibility and importance over the years. I do not need to stress that fact to honorable members who have been here for any length of time. At present we are passing through the Treasury within the scope of our legisla- tion just on one-third of the national income. The problems- in respect of international relations, social welfare, internal industrial relations and the rest, are of a magnitude that far exceeds that previously imposed upon the Parliament by the community. I ask the people of Australia: For how long could they afford to have those problems dealt with by other than the best legislative and executive talent that is available to the nation? I do not say, and I do not think that any honorable member would be so egotistical as to claim, that present members of this Parliament represent the best legislative and executive talent in the country. “We know of many talented members of State parliaments who could give useful service in the wider field of the National Parliament. But how many of them come to this Parliament? They do not do so, perhaps, because it is not only less attractive to work here from the point of view of pounds, shillings and pence, but also more uncomfortable to work in this Parliament than in a parliament situated in a capital city in which they have ther homes.
Normally, one would expect a. steady flow of senior members of State parliaments to the National Parliament. On this point I direct the attention of honorable members to what happened a few years ago when the number of members of this House was increased from 74 to 121. The general election that followed resulted in the recruitment to the Government side of 55 new members. One would expect that if national politics not only had a greater attractiveness in respect of the importance of the work done but also offered better living standards, there would have been a rush of candidates from State parliaments to fill the additional vacancies that existed at that time. However, of those 55 new members only five had previously been members of a State parliament; and it is significant that four of those five honorable gentlemen were elected to represent country constituencies and, therefore, would not be at much greater disadvantage by becoming a member of the National Parliament than they were when when they were members of a State parliament.
– Of the newly elected members of the Opposition, five were previously members of State parliaments.
– The facts speak for themselves. This Parliament is not recruiting senior and more able members of State parliaments who should be coming here to add their ability to ours. It is an equally serious matter that in the field of executive talent, this Parliament is not attracting to it to-day many men who have the capacity to give great service to this country. In many instances, such men cannot afford to seek election to the National Parliament as they would receive very much lower rates of remuneration than they are able to earn outside. This matter concerns not only members of this House but also the people of Australia as a whole. Unfortunately, the recommendations of the Nicholas committee will do little to redress that position. But the time will come when the Australian people must make up their minds about whether they want to attract the best talent that is available to this National Parliament and are prepared to say that the remuneration of members of the Parliament shall be adequate to attract such men to the service of the country. To-day, Australia is served by men who have put their conception of service to the community before their personal convenience; and I, for one, shall always maintain that the calibre of members of this Parliament, having regard to the disabilities and disadvantages of participation in national political life, has been remarkably high and that the country has in consequence been well served.
I felt impelled to place these matters before the House in the hope that they might assist in giving to the public wider enlightenment upon them. I am not aware that a single newspaper has attempted to inform its readers, in substance, of the observations that the Nicholas committee made in its report. That is a remarkable and regrettable, omission in respect of a matter that is the subject of much public interest. 1 hope, therefore, that people outside the Parliament, whether they continue to labour under a sense of grievance in this matter, or whether they genuinely wish to inform themselves fully about it, will approach their member in this House and ask for a copy of the committee’s report, and will take the opportunity to study it. It is quite clear from the observations of those newspapers that have been written, in the most vehement language, against members of the Parliament, that they have not extended to us the courtesy or justice of examining the contents of that report. The committee rendered good service to the Parliament and we are accordingly indebted to it. I hope that over the years the observations that it has made will do much to give to the people of Australia a better understanding of the whole problem.
– I wish to deal with one or two aspects of the bill that have not yet been covered in the course of this debate. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), in his very interesting speech, foreshadowed something that was obviously outside the scope of the measure. He recalled to my mind the view that Lionel Curtin expressed in his remarkable book entitled The Commonwealth of God that there is always the possibility that a national parliament may become immersed in detail and that it is not possible for any ministry, composed as it is of a limited number of men, to deal with more than a certain volume of work. He implied that human beings who tried to work for 24 hours a day did . so at the risk of losing their health.
This House has been criticized on the ground that it does not meet more often. I can only say from experience that when we assemble we seem to be loth to part and in the course of a session we seem to be inclined to sit on and on into the night. It might be better in the interest of the health of members if our sittings were planned with a view to giving to them adequate rest during a session. The point that the honorable member for Mackellar stressed would not be met in the way_ that he indicated. The mass of detail £2 that now comes before the Parliament, and before Ministers in the course of their administrative duties, could be handled more appropriately and effectively if it devolved upon a greater number of self-governing communities. Recently, I presented a petition praying that a new State of New England be formed. I shall not attempt to develop that theme at this juncture. I refer to it because, whilst quite a lot might be said for the view that the honorable member for Mackellar has expressed, we must realize that this Parliament will be faced with increasingly greater problems in the future. “When considering the matter of increasing the number of Ministers, I am reminded of the thoughtful remarks that were made by the late Jan Smuts, when he was Prime Minister of South Africa, to the effect that a British Parliament requires U01 only an effective Opposition but also a number of members outside the Ministry capable of criticizing the Ministry vigorously and of bringing to it the point of view of those who are not within the charmed circle and who, too often, lose touch with public requirements.
I support the bill. During the last 32 years, both in the Parliament of New South Wales and now in this Parliament, I have had to face the responsibility of supporting, ot opposing, measures relating to the emoluments of members. On the first occasion, some 32 years ago, when I was a young and inexperienced member without the slightest idea of the expenses that a member has to incur, I followed the lead of others in criticizing such a proposal and voted against it. However, when similar proposals were again submitted, I took really good care to speak in favour of them. If the amount proposed and the method of distributing it are fair and reasonable, I am not prepared to play at party politics and thus help to bring the Parliament into disrepute, but shall support the proposal.
This Parliament is the greatest institution in this country. It is the outward expression of the belief of our democracy, and the elected representatives of the people have the right to express their thoughts freely, to thrash k but various problems in debate, and finally to settle differences of opinion by a majority vote. Under such a system of government, our community is able to develop along civilized lines. Therefore, it is a matter of the gravest concern to me that some sections of the press apparently never lose an opportunity to attack this institution with sensational head-lines. The representatives of the fourth estate do themselves no credit when they try to belittle this great estate, which represents the people directly by election. If an .honorable member commits a wrong, by all means let him be attacked, and let his action be exposed publicly. But sections of the press, when “they seize every opportunity to belittle this institution, strike at the very roots of the democratic system of government, because they tend to engender in the minds of citizens a disrespect and a disregard, not for an individual, but for the institution itself. I realize that members of the Parliament have a responsibility to -comport themselves properly in public life, but I believe thatmany of the tactics in which some newspapers indulge in criticizing the institution itself go beyond the bounds of common decency.
How did these proposals for the increase of parliamentary salaries and the payment of certain allowances originate? The whole matter was submitted to an .impartial committee over which Mr. Justice Nicholas presided. He is a man who, by his wisdom, scholarship, constitutional knowledge and impartial outlook, won great respect and honour as the Chief Judge in Equity in New South Wales. . He lias now .retired from that position. I do not know the other two gentlemen who were members of that committee, but I believe that they are men of high repute in their own spheres. They dealt impartially with the evidence that was submitted to them, and made their report, which I regard as a most reasonably worded document. If we, who support the principle of arbitration, were to reject a recommendation made by a similar committee in respect of any other section of the community, we should have difficulty in explaining our reasons for having overriden the report of an impartial tribunal. I accept this report. I have seen some fantastic calculations about the incomes that Ministers and members would need in other walks of life in order to give to them the income which, it is alleged, they will secure as a result of this report. I have made an analysis of the amount by which I shall benefit under the recommendations; it represents an increase of between £300 and £400 a year. Other honorable members are in a similar position. My figures will bear the scrutiny of the Commissioner of Taxation, who is not a mere tyro in the assessment of such matters.
T shall now refer to two criticisms that have appeared in Sydney newspapers of the proposed increase of parliamentary salaries and allowances. The first was made by an eminent Queen’s Counsel, who said that this proposal attacked the principle of equality in the payment of members. I have not read a more ridiculous statement on this matter. When a flat rate of payment was made to honorable members, even though it was modified by the introduction of a deduction from taxable income that varied according to the distance of electorates from Canberra, there was no equality. Our proper course is to adopt the recommendation of the committee, which has fixed the base rate and has calculated the reasonable expenses of honorable members. What has been the position to date? Ah honorable member who used his motor car on his visits to his constituents might incur travelling expenses of £50. He would pay that sum out of his own pocket, and also would pay tax on the money. No parallel exists in other sections of the community. The representative of a country electorate, who travelled from his home to the Parliament in the capital city, would pay his travelling expenses out of his own pocket, and tax on that amount. But the eminent Queen’s Counsel, when he travels, charges his clients expenses upon which he is not taxed.
Mr. Colin Clark, formerly the Director of the Queensland Bureau of Industry and Under-Secretary of the Department of Labour and Industry, made a slighting reference in a newspaper article on primary production to the so-called taxfree allowances of members of Parliament. I have a knowledge of the conditions under which Government employees travel, because I was Minister for Education in Now South Wales for a number of years. When Mr. Clark travelled as a public servant, he received a generous daily allowance. He was not obliged to submit a detailed statement of his expenses, because the State Public Service Board considered that his allowance was a fair and reasonable sum to cover them, and, indeed, it would have been stupid to require him to account for them. What is more, he. did not pay tax on his travelling allowance. Why, then, does he make a slighting reference to members of this Parliament, when an impartial tribunal has reported that they are entitled to the same consideration for the travelling expenses that they incur? Mr. Clark, and others like him, receive a travelling allowance to meet their travelling expenses. Income tax is deducted from the parliamentary salary of an honorable member each month; his income and his expenses are taxed. The attack made upon members of this Parliament by Mr. Clark is obviously unfair. My only’ regret is that the unfairness and stupidity of the system were not rectified long ago. I refer to those matters because they are germane to this debate, and figure prominently in the public mind. If a public servant uses his motor car in the course of his employment, he is granted a reasonable mileage allowance. I travel thousands of miles every year in my motor car in the performance of my parliamentary duties, yet I have not received one penny as travelling allowance. The amount that is allowed as a deduction for the purposes of income tax does not even begin to cover such expenses.
I invite the Government to give serious consideration to the advisability of amending the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill 1952 at some future date. The purpose of this bill is to implement the section of the committee’s report that deals with the retirement allowances for honorable members, and I have no comment to make about it. However, I advocate the introduction of a reciprocal arrangement whereby a member of a State parliament, who is elected to this Parliament, may have the right to transfer the contributions that he has paid to the retirement allowances fund of th, State to the Commonwealth fund. A similar arrangement should operate in respect of a member of this Parliament who retires and subsequently is elected to a State parliament. I cite my own case in this matter with some diffidence, but it will serve to illustrate my point. As a former member of a State parliament, 1 must either sacrifice all the contributions that I have made to the State fund, or pay contributions to the State fund as well as to the Commonwealth fund. Is that situation reasonable? Young men may retire from a State parliament and be elected to this Parliament. If they are required to make contributions to both funds, as I am, they will suffer a genuine hardship. The names of men who have transferred from a State parliament to this Parliament, and perhaps back to a State parliament come readily to my mind. A former member for the New South Wales electorate of Armidale, the late Edmund Lonsdale, became a member of this Parliament, but subsequently returned to the State parliament. I understand that Sir George Fuller served in the Parliament of New South Wales, was elected to this Parliament, and later became Premier of New South Wales. The late Honorable George Cann served in a State parliament and in this Parliament, and later in a State parliament. The late Mr. L. Cunningham, who was known to some honorable members here, wa3 a member of this Parliament and subsequently of the Parliament of New South Wales. The late William Holman, a Premier of New South Wales, became a. member of this Parliament. They were members of the Parliament of the Commonwealth before the .retirement allowances fund had been established. The principle of such a fund has since been accepted by the Parliaments of Great Britain and Australia. Provision was made in the Constitution long ago that a State public servant who transfers to the Commonwealth Public Service, or a Commonwealth public servant “who transfers to the public service of a State shall retain his rights. The omission to deal with the matter to which I have directed attention is, in my opinion, a serious defect in the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill 1952. This Parliament, in conjunction with the State parliaments, should safeguard the reasonable provision that has been made by men who have given loyal service to the public and retire from one parliament and are elected to another parliament. A reciprocal arrangement should be made to enable such a person to transfer his assets and his liability in a retirement allowances fund.
It has been my experience, as a Minister of the Crown and as a private member, that the Parliament is expected to give a lead to the community in “tightening the belt “ at the beginning of an economic recession. I am an old and experienced hand in matters that have to do with primary production and I know well that lean years are apt to follow the years of plenty. The old story of the Israelites and the Egyptians, in which the seven lean years came up and ate the seven years of plenty, is the recurring story of mankind. We shall not escape the lean years in this country, and we might as well face the fact. When the day comes for us to give a, lead to the people in meeting a recession, at least let us be on the same piano, allowing for differences of circumstances, as other sections of the community so thai our lead can be given in such a way as not to perpetuate an injustice. In my dealings with public servants and other classes of employees I have always held firmly to the cardinal principle that the first step towards eliminating discontent is to remove genuine causes of grievance. After that has been done, the troublemakers can be dealt with without fear or favour. The same principles should be applied to the Parliament. Therefore, when the day comes for us to give a lead to the community in making economies, we should at least start from a fair position so that, even though we make worthwhile sacrifices, we shall not, in the process, do an injustice to those who may be dependent upon us.
.- 1 endorse the very valuable suggestions that have been made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). However, before I discuss those suggestions, I shall make a clear statement of my attitude to the bill. When certain members from both sides of the House approached the Government towards the end of last year and asked that parliamentary salaries be increased, I said that I did not believe that the Parliament was the appropriate authority to fix our salaries. I made it clear that I would oppose any bill to increase our salaries that was not based on the recommendations of an independent tribunal but would support the recommendations of such a tribunal whether or not they favoured an increase. I maintain that attitude to-day. This matter was referred to a tribunal presided over by the former Chief Judge in Equity of the State of New South “Wales. The committee took evidence from members cf Parliament and from the general public. It has made recommendations that have been adopted by the Government and that are supported by the Opposition. Either we believe in arbitration or we do not. Any of us may criticize the decision of a court of law or of an arbitration judge or conciliation commissioner, but, surely, every good Australian should abide by the decision of the umpire whether or not that decision favours him.
In my opinion, the proposals that we are considering will make certain members of Parliament worse off than they have been hitherto. But the matter has been referred to an umpire, and we should abide by the decision. I have seen the accounts of certain honorable members whose travelling expenses alone, in electorates that are not well served by the railways, amount to between £500 and £700 a year each. The finding of the committee that certain members of the Parliament, after they had paid their expenses, had less than the basic wage left, demonstrates the necessity for some re-assessment of salaries and allowances. The increased remuneration that is proposed for Ministers will eliminate certain financial worries from which they have suffered in the past. However, I agree with the honorable member ‘ for Mackellar that there are grave faults in our present system. I have not been a member of this Parliament for many years, but three Prime Ministers have died in office during that period at a comparatively early age. The strain on a Minister of the Crown to-day is severe. He receives thousands of letters annually from electors who want to tell him how to administer his department. He receives thousands of other letters that complain of mistakes that he is supposed to have made. He also receives letters from private members of the Parliament who pass on complaints that they have received from their electors. Each Minister is in charge of at least one large department. He must attend all sorts of functions in connexion with the activities of that department. There is not the slightest doubt that our constitutional machine is becoming so entangled that we cannot expect to have good government until we take remedial measures. The present Government is doing an excellent job under a system that has proved itself to be totally inadequate under modern conditions. “When our federation was founded in 1901, it was expected that the cost of this Parliament to each taxpayer would not exceed the cost of a dog licence. Its functions were to be the defence of the nation and the administration of posts and telegraphs and other communications. Members and Ministers were able to attend the Parliament at irregular intervals and yet deal efficiently with the few matters that came within their purview. To-day almost every human activity comes within the purview of this Parliament. “When I first entered the Parliament only a few years ago, anybody who suggested that it should be responsible for bush-fire relief and other such matters would have been derided because such tasks then fell to the lot of the State parliaments. However, since the introduction of the uniform income tax system, which made this Parliament the collecting authority for all parliaments in Australia, our functions have increased to such a degree that we are placing upon our Ministers responsibilities that almost exceed the capacity of any human being to discharge. How can we overcome this difficulty? The honorable member for Mackellar has made valuable suggestions that should receive the most earnest consideration of the Government. As any large industrial organization grows and extends its activities, it decentralizes its organization. It appoints efficient persons to control certain functions and certain territories.
The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is an example. General managers of companies of that type are not subjected to the strain to which we subject our Prime Minister, because they have learned the art of decentralization.
Decentralization is urgently needed in this House. I agree with the honorable member for Mackellar that we need an inner cabinet to decide matters of high policy, another cabinet to deal with administrative problems, and undersecretaries to do much of the work that now falls upon Ministers. “We are trying, in 1952, to carry on with the machine that was prepared and organized for the Parliament of 1901, which did not have to discharge even one-hundredth part of the functions that this Parliament performs. “When I became a member of this Parliament, I remember that the newspapers published great head-lines because the Commonwealth budget for the first time had reached the astronomical figure of £100,000,000! That was just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Now we have a budget of £1,000,000,000, yet we expect Ministers to carry on in the same old way without a proper system of decentralization. The appointment of additional Ministers would only clog the machine, because it would mean that more individuals would want to talk at Cabinet meetings so that more, time would be taken to reach decisions. The best solution would be along the lines proposed by the honorable member for Mackellar.. Our constitutional machine should be efficiently decentralized.
.- I support all the bills and find no difficulty in doing so. It is a bad day for the country when those who make its laws are not adequately reimbursed, and I believe that to be the position at the present time. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and those who sit behind him upon the attitude they have adopted. They intend to accept the proposed increases, and they have acted honestly in saying so in public instead of raising all sorts of objections and then accepting the remuneration with protest. In that respect, they have behaved rather better than we behaved when parliamentary salaries and allowances were last revised. I thoroughly approve of the proposal to increase the remuneration of both Ministers and private members. The duties of Ministers in this Parliament have increased enormously, and it is only right that their salaries should be increased also. The proposal to make certain payments to members and Ministers ‘ that will not be taxable has been criticized. I commend the proposal. Persons in other walks of life whose duties involve them in expenditure for entertainment, travelling expenses and so forth, comparable with that of members of parliament receive large allowances.
– And that includes the press.
– Certainly it includes the press. Therefore, I consider that this House should heed the trend in other spheres of activity in the community. It is an undoubted fact that nobody can maintain anything better than a very careful standard of living and, at the same time, honestly pay his taxes unless he has some means of heating the Commissioner of Taxation. We are saying that unless we can get something tax free we cannot live in a reasonable fashion. I believe that members of the Parliament, and Ministers, have a perfect right to that facility, hut as we are responsible for the taxation laws that apply not only to ourselves but also to everybody else, we should take careful note of the growing desire throughout the community to get something tax free. We know that most of the people engaged in commerce and industry live by virtue of what is commonly known as the swindle sheet. Whatever they can get free of tax is so much more added to their real incomes. We are putting ourselves in somewhat the same category. We should give some thought to those who find it impossible to get any tax free income. I believe it to be right that the conditions embodied in the bill should apply to ourselves and to Ministers, because although the tax free payments to Ministers are quite considerable, we know that none of those gentlemen would take the increases if they were not convinced that they would be obliged to spend every penny of them. I am in favour of the bill, but at this time it is proper to consider the position into which taxation is placing every citizen. I hope that it will not be long before there will be a reduction of income tax, not only for ourselves, but also for all the people of Australia. Not until that comes about can we hope to get the greatly increased production in all fields of industry that we all consider so desirable.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to determine the number of Ministers of State and to make provision for their salaries and allowances.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
.- My remarks will relate to clause 4. I support the general tenor of the remarks made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) as to the necessity for some change in the whole structure of the Cabinet system. Any observer of the present day political scene must realize that the Cabinet’s responsibilities have greatly changed in modern times. In the first place, there has been an enormous increase in the national budget, which indicates an increase in the nature and quantum of the business with which the Government has to deal. Secondly, the sphere of federal responsibilities has increased tremendously in our time, a process which has been hastened by the extraordinary abdication of their powers by some State governments. I have in mind particularly the activities of the McGirr Government in New South Wales, which, when any contentious matter comes before it refers it immediately to the Australian Government in an attempt to pass the buck. Thirdly, the importance of Australia’s part in world affairs has increased greatly. This has been much in our minds lately because the Japanese peace treaty has been before the House. All those things have had two broad effects. They have increased the demand on Ministers’ time, and they have increased the Ministers’ dependence on their departments. Ministers appear to be overworked, and they are clearly dependent to a large degree on information that has already been filtered by their departments. One of the greatest problems of our time in the science of politics is concerned with the relationship of governments to their administrative organs, their civil services. There is a widespread feeling to-day, more so than ever before, that while governments may come and governments may go, departments go on for ever. Therefore, to. make use of an expression popularly used, governments are impotent before their all powerful bureaucracies. This problem must be tackled, and the honorable member for Mackellar is to be congratulated upon the valuable suggestion he has put before the House as to how to tackle it.
The difficulties to which I have been referring were apparent to a greater degree during the period of office of the Chifley Government than during the time of this Government, because this Government has at least the desire to deal with the growing power of the administrative machine, whereas the last Labour Government appeared to enjoy increasing its power. Nevertheless, the difficulty is still there, and the honorable member for Mackellar has done well in directing the attention of the House to it. I hope that his suggestions will receive the serious consideration they deserve.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 2lst February (vide page 217), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motions (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act relating to the allowances of members of each House of the Parliament.
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of an amendment to be moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in a bill for an act relating to the allowances of members of each House of the Parliament.
– I wish to speak about the allowances to be made to the President and Mr. Speaker. Would it be correct for me to do that at this time, and perhaps move an amendment?
– That should be done when the relevant clause is before the committee.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Resolutions reported and adopted.
In committee:Consideration resumed.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Allowances to President, Speaker and Chairmen of Committees).
.- I desire to say something about this matter because I have some knowledge of the circumstances. If the report submitted to the Government is analysed, it will be seen that the Speaker of the House ofRepresentatives and the President of the Senate have been placed in a financial position which is much inferior to that of junior Ministers. Previously the Speaker has had a salary similar to that of a senior Minister, but under this bill even junior Ministers are to be allowed an entertainment allowance of £1,000, whereas the Speaker and the President of the Senate are to be allowed only £250. It has always been recognized that theSpeaker holds the highest office in the Parliament. From a financial point of view, the Speaker’s position was always regarded in that light until the present proposal was submitted. I was astonished, on reading the report of this committee, when I noted that not only had the Speaker been dropped from the position of a senior Minister so far as his remuneration was concerned, but also that he was to receive £750 less than a junior Minister as an entertainment allowance. I think that the Government should give further consideration to this matter, particularly in relation to expenses. I had the honour of holding the position of Speaker of this House for about eight years, and I can speak from experience of the obligations that fall upon theSpeaker to spend the money in the entertainment, not only of his personal friends, but also very often of the friends of members of the House, distinguished visitors, or people from his electorate.
Under the previous Government, the Cabinet shared the financial responsibility for hospitality offered by Ministers, but the Speaker was left to carry the baby where his obligations were concerned. I remember that after some persuasion of the Commissioner of Taxation, I was able to get £150 for entertainment, which was about a quarter or less of the amount that I spent. Honorable members know that if they have more or less a distinguished visitor in their care, they often take him to meet the Speaker, who offers hospitality to him. That is paid for out of his privy purse. I suggest, therefore, that this matter should be given more consideration by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I do not want to move an amendment because I realize that one coming from me would probably not be carried and would not do much justice to the present occupant of the chair. But as it is a position of honour and responsibility involving the control of a very considerable staff and the necessity for hospitality which is wished upon the Speaker, I suggest to the Prime Minister that some consideration might be given to placing the Speaker on the same level as a senior Minister in respect of both the recompense for the position that he holds and the expenses that are attached to it. I suggest that that consideration should be given before this bill goes to the Senate. The allowance to the President of the
Senate might also be reviewed, although, perhaps, he has not so much financial responsibility.
. - I am sorry that I cannot accept the suggestion. The matter that has been raised properly by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr.Rosevear) was considered by the Government when it perused this report. Many of us feel as I do, that the position of the Speaker has not been dealt with adequately when his remuneration is compared with some other provisions. However, as I indicated at the beginning of the debate, the Government concluded that, the matter having gone to the committee, we should accept its recommendations. One fact which qualifies what the honorable member has said about the relative positions of Ministers and the Speaker is not, perhaps, sufficiently appreciated. Although Ministers are to receive an allowance of £1,000, all the allowances that they have received in Canberra will be taken away from them whether she House is sitting or not. They will not draw expenses for being in Canberra any longer either for the House or Cabinet work or for their ordinary departmental work. That means that Ministers will lose sums which they now receive as reimbursement for those expenses and they are variously estimated to range from £400 to £800. Instead, they will receive this allowance of £1,000 so that the net benefit to Ministers over and above the present provision that is made will be between £200 and £600. That must be taken into account when considering the relative positions. The essential point is that except in one case where an obvious error has been made, and on which I intend to move a small amendment, the Government’s decision was that it would accept the report and give legislative effect to it.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 to 9 agreed to.
Clause 10- (2.) There is payable to the Whip in the House of Representatives of each recognized political party which has not less than ten members in that House an allowance at the rate of Two hundred and seventy-five pounds a year.
– I move -
That sub-clause (2.) be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the follo wing subclauses - “ (2.) There is payable to the Government Whip in the House of Representatives an allowance at the rate of Three hundred and twenty-five pounds a year. “ (3.) There is payable to the Whip in the House of Representatives of each recognized political party which has not less than ten members in that House, but not including the Government Whip, an allowance at the rate of Two hundred and seventy-five pounds a year.”.
In the report it was assumed that the remuneration now given to the Whips was £275 in each case. In point of fact it was overlooked or was not sufficiently clear that the remuneration of the Government Whip, who is the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), is the dizzy sum of £325, and as I do not want to quarrel with him, I think that we should give him back his £50.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 21st February (vide page 217), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- When I first examined the bill, I was concerned to find that the amounts provided for in it might be taken out of the fund to which honorable members generally are contributing. That has been made clear and the bill provides for additional money to be put into the fund to cover the new expense. The Opposition has no objection to the bill as it stands.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act toamend the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1948. and for other purposes.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 21st February (vide page 217), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from the 27th February (vide page 493), on message from the Senate (vide page 493).
.- The terms of the message from the Senate, . I remind honorable members, are-
The message then states the two proposed modifications which I shall read to the House later. The need for the resolutions sent by this House to the Senate arose because of the eventuality, which, I. hope, will not become reality, that a certain political party in this House may choose, at any rate in the early stages of the committee’s existence, not to associate itself with the committee. I devoutly hope that that situation will not eventuate, but it is a possibility that has to be taken into account. As our resolutions naturally had to deal with the subject of the numbers to form quorums in the committee, in the event of one party choosing not to associate itself with the committee the numbers for quorums stated in the original resolutions would have to be altered. Hence the modifications proposed by the Senate, which read -
that the following provision for quorums be substituted for resolution No. 4 (d) : - “ (d) (i) one- third of the number of members appointed to the committee for the time being constitute a. quorum of the committee, save that where the number of members is not divisible by three without remainder the quorum shall be the number next higher than one-third of the number of members for the time being;
These proposed modifications are purely consequential on the assumption that one party in this Parliament will choose not to be associated with the committee. Perhaps I may be allowed to say a very few words in extension of my remarks when these resolutions were before the House on a previous occasion. This is a new departure for this Parliament. It is an experiment. It certainly has its prototypes in many other countries of the world, but the somewhat similar committees in other parliaments in other democracies have proved, in practice, to work quite differently from each other, notwithstanding the original intentions of each parliament. Our conception of this committee which motivated us in submitting our proposals for its establishment, is that some body outside the two actual chambers of the Parliament is necessary to enable representative numbers of members of each party, consistent with the strength of the parties in the two chambers, to have opportunity of access to more information than it is normally possible to make available currently to honorable members on matters of foreign affairs. The intention, of course, is that the level of debate on international affairs shall be raised. The way to gain that end is, of course, to provide more information, in suitable circumstances, to the honorable members selected to form this committee.
– On that point, would it not be a good idea for the Department of External Affairs to supply its fortnightly statement to honorable members? We seem to be the only people in official positions who are not on the department’s mailing list.
– I assume the honorable member refers to the publication, Current Notes. I do not see any reason why his suggestion should not be adopted, and I shall certainly take the matter up with the department.
– Perhaps Current Notes might be sent to Russia?
– I think that it might do the Russians a little good if it were sent to them. When the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was speaking on the resolutions he used these words - > -
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman, is referring to a debate of the present session. In any event, we are dealing with the modifications that have been pro’posed by the Senate, and we cannot canvass the whole question of the purpose of these modifications unless we re-open the whole matter for debate by both sides of the House.
– I was assuming, sir, that any relaxation you might possibly bc good enough to allow in my case, you could extend to members of what I may call the “ south side “ of this House.
– I certainly shall.
– I venture to believe that up to this stage there has been certain misapprehension of the purpose of this proposed joint committee. It is not a policy-making body. I do not think that in any part of the world such committees have worked out in that way. The committee will be a means of enabling honorable members to inform their minds on international affairs. There can be no argument about the tremendous importance of international affairs at the present time. The Government, and I in particular, wish to provide the utmost opportunity for honorable members of all parties to be informed on those matters to the limit of our ability to inform them, stopping short, as unfortunately we must, of giving to them information of a really confidential nature, because such matters are not Australian secrets alone. They are also secrets that we share with a number of other countries. We cannot therefore allow such confidential matters to become known outside and still keep faith with those other countries. Whatever party may be in office at any time, it, is necessary to maintain secrecy in such confidential matters, because a chance word on a matter of a really confidential nature, uttered in this House or outside it, might have the most disastrous effects in countries other than our own.
– The advisory committee on the Japanese peace settlement used to receive material from the Department of External Affairs marked “ Secret “. Anybody could have found more information on the matters so marked, by a study of Keesing’s Contemporary Archives.
– Of course, everybody realizes the difficulty connected with the designation of documents, and it must be a problem to decide whether a document should he marked “ Personal “ or “Confidential” or “Secret”. During a visit overseas I received a document that was marked “ Sacred “. I returned it with the comment that it was obviously intended not for me, but for the Chaplain-General’s Department. For the time being honorable members opposite must take the Government’s word. and my word, for the fact that we desire to make this committee a success.
– Let the Government alter the terms of reference and it will really get somewhere in that direction.
– I do not consider that success in this matter depends on any form of words. It depends on the intentions of the Government. It will very soon be obvious whether we are denying this committee the right to discuss subjects of importance, whether we are giving to it enough to discuss, or whether as some honorable member has suggested, we are giving to it only matters of trivial importance. If we gave only trifling matters the committee would wither, Its members would not bother to attend its meetings. The Government’s purpose, and my purpose, in particular, is to do something to raise the level of debate on international affairs and, in turn, to raise the level of information of the whole Australian community, which derives a good deal of its information on such matters from the debates in this Parliament. I repeat, the committee is not intended to be a policy-making body that will set out to adopt novel views that are antagonistic to the views of the government of the day. I do not believe that it should be in the power of the committee to enforce publication of its reports. In my opinion such reports should not be published, because it will not be the purpose of the committee to let the world know that it has formed certain views. I ask honorable members opposite to have a little tolerance, if only for two months or so, because by that time it will be perfectly clear whether the committee is succeeding in performing the functions it is to be established to perform. Otherwise, I repeat, the committee will wither and die. Members will not bother to attend its meetings and I shall have failed to achieve the purpose that I have in mind. The view has been advanced that the committee should be given autonomy independent of the Department of External Affairs and of the Government, that it should be a body that will stand on its own feet, have its own chairman, discuss what it likes and call whomever it deems desirable to give evidence before it. Such powers would be destructive of the committee. I should refuse to make material available to it if it were empowered to call whatever witnesses it chose, get whatever information it desired and publish its reports. In those circumstances, I should do my utmost to strangle it, because it would then be acting in a dangerous capacity. No similar committee in any other British parliament enjoys such wide powers. In the United States of America, whose parliamentary system differs from ours, the Foreign Affairs Committee has been constituted on lines that are considered to meet American needs, but a similar committee would not be suited to our form of government. That committee has wide powers and is independent of the American Government.
I plead with members of the Opposition to exercise a degree of tolerance in this matter, at least for a certain period. I hope that members of all parties in the Parliament will make a genuine effort to make the committee a success. This is an important experiment for this country, and I have great hopes for it. I again assure the House that the committee will not lack material that is of substantial concern in relation to international affairs and will enable it to inform its mind fully. I repeat the plea that I made earlier. Let the committee be as informal as possible. I pledge myself to give all possible assistance to it, including, if the committee should so desire, my experience and my personal views and also to make available to it senior officers of the department. I move -
That the modifications he agreed to.
.- The Opposition made its position very clear on this matter when the original resolution was before the House. Nothing has really been done in another place to alter its terms. The Senate has only altered the terms of the resolution with respect to quorums and that alteration is not sufficient to induce the Opposition to change its mind.
– I have given certain undertakings.
– The Opposition wants more than undertakings from the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) ; it wants to have its wishes incorporated in the resolution. We want the
Government to agree to the original Spender resolution of 1950. Mr. Spender, when he was Minister for External Affairs, put his resolution before the House very definitely, but, after having another think, he decided to water it down. That resolution, as it has now been amended, has been watered down still further. If the Government will not agree to the original Spender proposal, the Opposition will not do business with it.
– For what purpose ?
– For the purpose that was set out in the original Spender proposal.
– Would the honorable gentleman mind telling me what that purpose was?
– I should like the Minister, first, to tell me why that original resolution was altered and why the Government still refuses to re-submit it. I believe the explanation to be that the Minister for External Affairs has a pathological hatred of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). But my colleagues and I will not desert our leader in this matter because of that prejudice and hatred.
– That is unfair.
– We have heard sufficient to know what the Minister thinks about the Leader of the Opposition.
– The honorable gentleman has a martyr complex.
– We shall have the complex of the flies that walk into the spider’s parlour. We shall allow a little more time to go by, and let the Minister have another look at this proposal. I notice that he has left open the door to the Opposition to join the committee later, because he has not filled every position on the committee.
– That has been done for a purpose.
– Yes ; aud we are suspicious because, on every possible occasion, the Minister and his colleagues say that members of the Opposition are anxious to assist the enemy, or prospective enemy, of this country. Therefore, we are not prepared to support this pro posal so readily as he would like us to do. He coos like a dove on some occasions and he is in that mood now, but on other occasions he roars like a bull. We remember his two moods, and we shall not concur in denying to this committee the liberty that should be granted to any self-respecting committee to consider fully matters that should come within its province. The Minister wants to see the committee in leading strings. It is to consider only such matters as he refers to it. It will not be able to exercise its own initiative in respect of anything whilst it must furnish all of its reports confidentially to the Minister. If, in a debate in this House, a member of the Opposition used material that had been placed in the possession of the committee he would be accused of betraying the confidence that had been reposed in the committee. For instance, if an honorable member obtained such information from the daily press, or from records of the kind to which the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has referred, and used it in the course of a debate in the House, the Minister would be the first to accuse him of a breach of confidence if it suited his play in the party political game. For these reasons the Opposition will leave the matter where it stands.
.- The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has not added anything to the original proposal that would make it more attractive to the Opposition. The proposal now before us does not alter in one iota the resolution to which we objected on a previous occasion, and in respect of which we proposed what we considered were reasonable amendments. In essence our objection has been, and still is, first, that if the committee is to be of any use in informing its own mind and the mind of the Parliament, which is the function of a foreign affairs committee, it should have full access to official records and not, as the Minister insists, be obliged to limit its consideration only to matters which the Minister himself chooses to select; secondly, that reports of the committee are to be submitted to him; and, thirdly, that if an honorable member read journals which gave much more informative to the public than the Minister gave to the committee and repeated such information in a debate in this House he would be accused of a breach of confidence.
– That is not so.
– The Minister cannot deny that, originally, he did not propose to give to the committee access to information that could be used in a partypolitical sense in this House.
– I. did nothing of the sort.
– The Minister did. ]; invite him to read the Hansard record of his remarks. If he does so, unless he deleted the particular passage from his proof, he will find that when we dealt with this resolution previously, his statement that he was not going to give material to the committee that could be used by the Opposition as party political ammunition was one of the factors that determined the attitude of the Opposition, because there was a body of support for his proposal even among members of the Opposition. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are equally as honorable as are honorable members opposite and are equally capable of understanding and realizing what information might be dangerous were it let loose. At the same time, however, members of the Opposition have sufficiently high ideals to refuse to allow themselves to be made political puppets. The Minister said previously that he would decide what matters should be referred to the committee and that he would decide what, properly, could be divulged publicly.
– There is no question whatever of reporting at any stage publicly. That is not the purpose of the committee.
– In that event, I should like to know what is its purpose, if it is not to inform its own mind so that when debates upon international affairs take place in the House-
– Is it neeessary for that purpose that the committee should publish its reports?
– It may not be absolutely necessary. The alterations that the Senate has made to the original resolution do not meet the objections that the Opposition previously raised to it. The Minister can have his Foreign Affairs Committee composed entirely of Government supporters. Members of the Opposition, by reading journals of the kind that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has mentioned, will be as well informed as supporters of the Government who compose this committee after the committee has considered some subject or chewed over such documents as the Minister sees fit to throw to it.
– The Opposition is cutting off its nose to spite its face.
– We must face realities. The Senate’s modifications have not altered the position, and, therefore, the Opposition’s approach to the resolution remains unaltered. The modifications merely relate to quorums. Those who were responsible for the alterations have clearly indicated that they are not sanguine that the committee’s work will be interesting. Apparently, they believe that its proceedings will be so dull and uninteresting that its members will not be likely to attend its meetings regularly. The Opposition is prepared to leave the entire responsibility for providing quorums for the committee to supporters of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 21st February (vide page 218), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill, which seeks the approval of the House for the security treaty by Australia, New Zealand and the United States’ of America has the support of the Opposition. I do not desire to repeat the analysis of the bill which has been made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), but I shall summarize the effects of the treaty. It is clearly an agreement within the contemplation of the Charter of the United Nations. One of the most important achievements at San Francisco in 1945 was the incorporation pf amendments to the Charter that contemplated regional arrangements for mutual defence in certain parts of the globe under the general jurisdiction of the United ations. Those amendments were made, to a large degree, on the initiative of Australia, New Zealand and certain other countries. We always had in view the possibility of achieving some such agreement as a security treaty to cover, broadly speaking, the South Pacific. This Security treaty is an agreement of that character ; that is to say, it recognizes the overriding authority of the United Nations Charter, places these declarations within the framework of that Charter, and establishes certain machinery. Article 1. of the security treaty provides as follows; -
The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may he involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security are not endangered and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
Article II. reads as follows : -
In order more effectively to achieve the objective of this Treaty the Parties separately and jointly by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.
The substance of that article is the obligation and right that is conferred by Article 51 of the United Nations Charter itself, but nonetheless, I agree with the Minister when he says that this security treaty by Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America is a step forward. The treaty not merely makes the declarations I have read, but it also establishes machinery to which I shall refer in a few moments. Perhaps the most important provision in the treaty is Article IV., which reads as follows: -
Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.
Article VI. reads as follows: -
This Treaty does not affect and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations of the Parties under the Charter of the United Nations or the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace .and security.
All those articles constitute a series of valuable provisions, but there is an outstanding provision in Article VII. which opens the way for the establishment of a council to consider matters concerning the implementation of the treaty. As yet, of course, one cannot tell how that will develop, but I agree that it is a step forward. One point, which is abundantly clear, is that this agreement is, in a sense, the consideration that is received by Australia for becoming a party to the new doctrine under which Japan is to be rearmed. That consideration is not surprising, because the rearmament of Japan aggravates the very situation with which this treaty may be able to deal. I do not wish at this stage to argue the merits of Japanese rearmament, but I cannot overlook that fact as a background to security arrangements in the Pacific. The establishment of a council to consider the implementation of this treaty will be, at any rate, something gained.
Another important feature of this security treaty is that it is not a one-way agreement. Australia has obligations as well as rights, and, therefore, it is important to consider how this agreement is to be administered. It really means, in my view, that if Japanese rearmament progresses rapidly, the defence position of this country may become worsened. I do not say that it must become worsened, but it may become worsened, and, therefore, this treaty may take its place in the arrangements which should help to deter an aggressor. This treaty, broadly speaking, is a declaration of common interest in the defence of the Pacific, particularly the South Pacific, and it indicates the instruments or means which will be available to the parties for Pacific defence.
That raises the subject of island bases and has a direct bearing upon this discussion. The view which was taken by the late Mr. John Curtin, and subsequently by the Chifley Government, was that Australian defences in respect of island bases should extend northwards to the line of the equator. Honorable members will recall that the equator was the northern-most limit, to which service was made compulsory during the crisis in World War II. The equator is the boundary between the Australian trust territory of New Guinea, and the former Japanese mandated territories, the Caroline Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Mariana Islands. The 640 islands north of the equator, with the exception of a few American possessions such as Guam, were vested in Japan under the mandate system. They included Truk, which was, perhaps, the most important naval base in the Pacific during the last war. Japan, when it was in possession of those bases, was able to direct tremendous onslaughts against Australia. New Guinea and Indonesia, and our view always was that the Japanese possessions north of the equator should, if the United States of America so desired, become vested in that country for the purposes of effective control. We wanted the United States of America to have those islands. We considered that there should be this screen of bases north of the equator. The Ryukyus group, which lies to the south of Japan, contains the fortress of Okinawa. The Volcano group, and the Bonin Islands, which are to the east of the Ryukyus group, contain the great naval base of Iwo Jima. Even in the early stages of negotiations we agreed that .these bases should be retained by the United States of America if that were possible and if the United States of America were agreeable. That is what has happened. Manus Island, our northernmost base, which has been Australian territory since 1920 and is still under Australian control, is protected by the enormous number of islands lying to the north of it which are now American territory. As has been stated by the Minister and other honorable members, it appears certain that Okinawa will be retained by the United States of America. That island lies in close proximity to Japan and continental
Asia and Iwo Jima will probably also be retained by the United States of America.
A silly and wicked campaign has been carried on against the Chifley Government in connexion with Manus Island. Honorable members opposite including the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar) said that Australia was worse off because it had not parted with this Australian territory. My colleagues and I did not become Ministers of the Australian Government in war-time in order to give Australian territory to any country. We wanted a regional agreement, of this kind. Shortly after victory had been won in the Pacific the United States Government, through its agents, asked British Commonwealth countries to hand over practically every base that they held in the Pacific. They wanted Canton Island, which is half British. I do not think’ that this request was known to or supported by the President of the United States. It was probably originated by planners in the State Department. They wanted bases in Fiji, New Zealand, the Solomons, the New Hebrides, Manus Island, and in Western Samoa. The Australian Government did not regard this as an appropriate matter for bilateral bargaining. The subject was placed before a conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers which decided that British nations should not hand over their bases unconditionally to the United States of America. It was agreed that such arrangements should be made only on the basis of a regional Pacific pact which would give mutual use of facilities. We did not object to the United States of America using Manus Island, as the Minister alleged last night. But we did object to certain conditions which were proposed when that request was made. The Chifley Government was anxious to conclude an agreement which provided that Pacific bases should be made available for use by the British Commonwealth and the United States of America. We considered that such an arrangement should form part of a wide regional pact. A government cannot give bases away. Some obligation must be accepted by the party which receives them. We requested that the arrangement should not be one-sided, but that
Australia should have reciprocal rights. What is wrong with that ?
– It did not come off, though.
– These, things do not “ come off “ or “ come on “. The Menzies Government has obtained the agreement we are now considering at the price of agreeing to the rearmament of Japan and I consider that that was too great a price to pay for it. I do not wish to criticize the agreement, but the notion which is now common that it was a great mistake on the part of Australia to refuse to give Manus Island to the United States of America unconditionally is terrifying, the Australian Government was prepared to give the United States of America the use of Manus Island on certain conditions and the time will come when the decision that we made on that occasion will be shown to have been of crucial importance to the defence of this country. One arrangement that was proposed by the United States of A America was that if in the event of war in the Pacific, the United States of America remained neutral, Australia would not have the right to use Manus Island, its own territory. In World War I. the United States of America remained neutral until 1916 and in World War II. it was neutral until Pearl Harbour was bombed. The Australian Government would not agree to that proposal and decided that the negotiations should be continued by the British Commonwealth. The United States State Department representatives then informed us that they would not talk with the British Commonwealth as a group. They said that the negotiations must be carried out on a bilateral basis. I do not know who made that decision. It was probably made by the office boys of the State. Department because, from conversations that I had with the President of the United States of America and the Secretary of State, I cannot believe that they were aware of it. Now, Finschhafen and Manus Island are being successfully developed as bases.
Some people think of Manus Island as a base with tremendous defensive equipment, but it had none. It was merely a staging base in the attempt to recapture the Philippines from bases further south. At Finschhafen, where there are now about 3,000 or 4,000 people, there were about 500,000 during the war. Three high tension lines then ran through it, two of which are now covered by jungle. On Canton Island, where there were 30,000 people during the war, you would not now find 400. For the Australian Government to have entered into an agreement under which Manus Island might have been taken out of its control-
– The American Government merely asked for joint use.
– The Government of which I was a member offered joint use. The Minister knows nothing about the matter.
– I have read the file.
– The Minister interrupted and said “ joint use “. We offered the use, not only of Manus Island and its facilities, but also of any other Australian bases outside or inside of Australia.
– That is not on the file.
– -I am telling the House what took place. We always sought mutual use of facilities. That would he the proper, self-respecting and dignified form of an agreement between countries. To have given away control, or not to have had the right to use Manus Island when the other party to the arrangement might not have been interested or might not have been a party to a war involving Australia, would have been completely suicidal and we refused to agree to the proposal. I would do so again. We were treated as though we were a defeated party in the war in the Pacific when, in fact, second to the United States of America. Australia, 1 suppose, made the greatest effort in that war. We recognized United States leadership in the Pacific and paid homage to it. But leadership is not everything.
Nations that are bound together by agreements such as we are considering must watch each other’s foreign policies very closely. Australia is a nation that must have its own independent foreign policy. It can and should recognize United States leadership, but it should not concede to the United States of America or to any other country, the right to dominate its own policy. The grounds for our criticism of the Government on that score have been justified by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). This Government’s policy switches and changes. Where is it at the moment? Two years ago we were told that Japan was not to have any armaments. But that decision has been reversed. It is very difficult to keep up with a policy that changes with such kaleidoscopic effect. The reversal of policy in relation to Japan is only one illustration of the Government’s vacillation. The Chifley Government, and I, as its Minister for External Affairs, have been criticized and attacked because of our decision in relation to Manus Island in the most unfair, unjust and foul manner. Our action in relation to Manus Island was the correct action as events will prove. I cannot understand the mentality of Australians who do not want to retain Australian territories. We do not own Manus Island in the full sense. It is simply a trust territory, just as formerly it was a mandated territory. We have obligations in that territory.
– Is it a strategic trust territory?
– No, it is not.
– It could have been.
– No, it could not have been a strategic trust territory because the granting of such trusteeships was subject to veto in the Security Council. Russia’s agreement to the granting of a strategic trusteeship to the United States of America was never contemplated. It was something that just happened.
The attitude of honorable members opposite makes it difficult for us to understand their point of view in relation to Manus Island. They would give away Australian territory.
– Nobody has suggested that.
– The Minister suggested it last night.
– Joint use!
– Joint use? The United States of America not merely could have had it, but, in fact, has had it ever since the war.
– I combat that.
– Order ! I must ask the Minister for External Affairs to remain silent. He will have an opportunity to reply later.
– The Minister’s case is that the United States of America asked the Chifley Government for the use of defensive equipment on Manus Island, but did not get it.
– Joint use!
– The Minister ha3 told the House within the last 24 hours that the United States of America asked for the ‘Use of defensive equipment on Manus Island in the future and that the Chifley Government refused it. That is not true.
– It is true.
– It is not true.
– The Minister must remain silent.
– The Minister ought to find out the facts before he makes statements like that.. We went further and offered the United States of America, in connexion, with a mutual defensive pact of this character, the use of any bases in Australia on condition that Australia should have the right to use American bases for the common defence of the two countries. What other agreement could a self-respecting nation like Australia have asked for ? Could we have asked for anything less than that?
This matter was dealt with in the Sunday Herald of the 21st January, 1951. That was a very serious matter. An article which filled six or seven columnscontained an attack on Mr. Chifley’s Government and on myself because of our policy in relation to Manus Island, lt bore the heading, “ Scandal of Manus “.
Government Supporters. - Hear,, hear ! It was a scandal.
– Honorable members opposite should wait for a couple of minutes before they interject so enthusiastically. That article was based on confidential documents that belonged to the Department of External Affairs.
Somebody from the department gave thai secret information to the newspaper and, if documents are missing from the file, as the Minister suggested by interjection earlier, the right honorable gentleman should be able to ascertain very shortly what happened to them. In a comment on that article, which the Sydney Morning Herald published on the 22nd January, 1951, 1 said-
Perhaps the most serious part of the article is that its content suggests the illegitimate use by the writer or writers of confidential material passing between Governments, which cannot lawfully be disclosed. … If the “ Sunday Herald “ has been given access to documents of such a character by way of a newspaper scoop a very serious position arises.
The Sydney Morning Herald published a long comment at the bottom of the article in answer to my reply, but it did not refer to the statement that I have quoted. Why? Because, in fact, the Sunday Herald had been given access to secret documents ! Some officer of the Department of External Affairs had actually scooped in the files in order to see what sort of a political case could be made against the Chifley Government. The original article actually referred to conversations on the subject of Manus Island by British Commonwealth Prime Ministers and showed by the disclosure of internal knowledge, that the writer had gained access to the most secret cable messages. That was a scandalous act. The only scandal about Manus Island has been the scandalous way in which the present Government parties, when in Opposition and since they have been in Government, have tried to use the Chifley Government’s decision as a means of discrediting me and the party that I lead.
Manus Island is only one feature of a chain of bases that stretches right across the Pacific. Our proposal involved the mutual use of the bases by the parties to a security agreement. The Government of the United States of America would not agree to that proposal. As I have reported to the House before, I discussed this matter with President Truman and with the American Secretary of State. I suggested to them that, instead of considering an individual base such as Manus Island, we should reach a proper solution of the problem by con cluding a regional pact to provide for the use by the United States of America of Manus Island or any other Australian bases and the use by Australians, for the purposes of the pact only, of American bases. The article in the Sunday Herald attacked me merely because I suggested that, if the United States of America had the use of Manus Island, Australia, in the interests of mutual security, should have the use of Guam or Truk. Why should we not have the advantage of such a reciprocal arrangement? We were considering a mutual pact for the benefit of countries in the Pacific area. That was the natural proposal to make. The Australian Government had no need to relinquish control of Manus Island. The Labour party has maintained that attitude consistently. I say that it is essential for the council that is to be set up under the proposed pact to make some arrangement such as I have suggested. In fact, the Labour Government had such an arrangement working effectively at the service level.
We had an agreement with the United States of America, which was made in time of war certainly, but which afterwards continued in time of peace, under which the armed forces of the United States of America, mainly the navy and the air services, could use any of our facilities. That arrangement still obtains. American forces came to Australia . in pursuance of the agreement, and Admiral Denfield said as much. It did not need Government approval. Australia had an equal right with the United States of America to use American bases. The idea that the British Commonwealth should part, unconditionally, with so many bases in the Pacific, in the absence of a pact, was, we considered, completely wrong. The United States of America now has the right to use every Japanese island north of the equator. Manus Island is only a few degrees south of the equator. That means that the United States of America is in complete possession of that enormous chain of islands, including Truk, which I have mentioned before, and further north, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. This matter is really a political card in Australia.
The President of the United States of America has stated that America does not need a security pact with Australia, because when Australia is in trouble America will be in trouble, and vice versa. We did not need any written agreement. Mr. Byrne took the same view. Why should not Australia maintain and develop the magnificent base on Manus Island? The Cabinet records will show that we were advised by the chiefs of staff of our services that we should not enter into such an arrangement as was proposed in relation to Manus Island. I remember that Admiral Louis Hamilton said, “ Manus can become for the British Commonwealth in the Pacific another Sca pa Flow, because of its magnificent facilities. You cannot give away your territory”. At any rate we were not going to give it away. I did not think that we had lost the war in the Pacific, but that, under the guidance of the United States of America, we were the winners of it. We did not want to part with our bases, except as part of a mutual arrangement of this kind. I welcome that part of the result, but regret the price that has had to be paid for it, although that is the very thing that will make security in the Pacific more objective. We have to try to make this part work, even if otherwise we were against it. The following paragraph was taken from another cable that the author of the article I have mentioned had no right to see : -
It is plain Australia would only consider granting post-war rights on Manus Island on two conditions -
That such an arrangement should form part of a wide regional defence plan;
That the arrangement should not be one-sided, and Australia should have reciprocal rights in American Pacific bases.
They were reasonable terms, and might have been agreed to except that the centre of gravity for the United States of America went much further to the north in accordance with the views that Mr. Curtin had originally expressed which was that America could replace Japan as the effective nation in control of the Kuriles and the Mariannas, which are mandated territories, and the Marshall Islands. That enormous chain of bases enables an effective control to be exerted over that area. That is why the council to be set up under the proposed pact should take into consideration the whole question of these bases. I repeat that Australia was always agreeable to the United States of America using any facilities on Manus Island, and any other facilities. That is why we wanted the agreement to be operative.
In these matters Australia is not a satellite country in the Pacific, always to do as the United States of America wants it to do. Because of Australia’s attitude in the United Nations during the last two years, we are no longer a force in the councils of that body. Until two years ago Australia was always a member either of the Security Council or of the Economic Council. Now we are not a member of either. We were, recently, among the candidates for a seat on the council, but were defeated. Australia was not elected to any of nineteen positions. The truth is that in our general foreign policy we must pursue a line in close co-operation with the British Commonwealth, and in the Pacific with the UnitedStates of America. But we must not be merely an instrument of another nation’s policy, although that policy may be right in nine instances out of ten. Nowadays, when a vote is to be taken in the United Nations the Australian delegates look around to see how the other countries intend to vote, and then follow them. The only country that voted against an inquiry into conditions in South Africa about an alleged breach of human rights-
– Order! The right honorable gentleman is getting outside the bill.
– We had the full approval of the British Government and the British Commonwealth in what we did in connexion with Manus Island. I did not want British Commonwealth influence to be eradicated from the Pacific. I wanted it and the Australian influence to be retained. That was the basis of our policy. It was to Australia’s interest, in a way which was proper and correct. Of course. America made no complaint about that. But the issue has been made a political football in Australia. Let those Australians who make a political football of the Manus Island issue watch the game closely, because they will not win it. The people of Australia will not tolerate a government that is willing to part with territory like Manus Island to any other nation. That is what this Government is willing to do. Supporters of the Government were talking along those lines only the other day.
– If that is not your view you should give up these attacks on the Opposition and develop your own self respect. We are not in control of Manus Island.
– Order ! The Leader of the Opposition will address the Chair.
– Although Australia is destined to be a great country in the Pacific, it will never be great if it has fears of being great. The Opposition will support the proposed pact, but we want an assurance that it will not be merely a paper agreement. To a substantial extent, the Pacific pact will link Australia’s foreign policy with that of the United States of America. Australia’ should have its own foreign policy, which should not be merely an echo of the policy of another nation. This is of vital importance. We have had to struggle against the attempt that has been made to exclude Australia from, arrangements under peace treaties. When we finally succeeded in obtaining a voice in the deliberations of the nations that took part in the Pacific wai-, the draft of the peace treaty with Japan was developed along the line of Japanese disarmament. But, as the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) has mentioned, that has been torn up, largely through the initiative of the United States of America. I am not saying that every policy that America dictates is wrong, but we must be partners and not merely satellites or agents of another nation. The Pacific pact will be a step in the direction that we have always favoured, but the tragedy of it is that it is linked up, because of a separate bill, with a situation that the security of the South Pacific may well be endangered by the very thing with which this agreement deals. . That is the Japanese peace treaty which provides for the unlimited rearmament of Japan. We shall certainly watch the develop ments in this matter. The council to be set up will be of extreme importance, and we should keep the closest watch on any developments that may threaten the security of the countries of the north and south Pacific. In five, or maybe two, years the people of Australia will be very thankful that the effective control of Manus Island has remained with the Australian Government. Manus Island has been Australian territory since 1920, and it remains our territory to-day, even though it may be against the will of some honorable members on the Government side.
.- The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has spent some time trying to justify one of the greatest blunders that he has ever made. He said that there was no defence equipment on Manus Island. Obviously he has not been there or he would not have made such an incorrect statement.
– Of course I have been there.
– There were great quantities of defence materials there. Part of it was destroyed by the Americans and part was given away to the Chinese after the war.
– The Americans also destroyed equipment and installations in Australia, New Guinea and other islands.
– And they did so at Manus Island. We sold war equipment to the Chinese at a very low price, and it was later removed from Manus Island. The Leader of the Opposition argued that if we allowed America into Manus Island we should be giving away Australian territory. Does any one suggest that if America had a base on Manus Island and we were attacked here in Australia, America would stand idly by without helping us? Of course not. We should take every opportunity of trying to get America to help us instead of giving it the cold shoulder just for the reason that Manus Island belongs to us. Because of the size and climate of Manus Island we cannot, with our small resources, develop it as a defence base. We need America there. We have turned our backs on America at Manus Island for only one reason and that is that it is Australian territory. What would have happened to the United Kingdom if it had refused to allow America to use air bases in east England after the war? Great Britain allowed American air forces to be based in its territory to take part in a joint defence effort. The fact that the Leader of the Opposition devoted almost all of his speech to Manus Island indicates that he is making heavy weather of his attempt to justify a great blunder, and a great disservice to the defence system of this country.
During the last few days there has been a great deal of loose talk in this House. Some honorable members opposite have accused America of the vilest schemes. Such talk is mischievous and damaging. It is seized upon by our enemies, used to discredit America and drive a wedge between America and the rest of the free world. America has made a real and massive contribution to the welfare of the world. The taxpayers of no other country would have parried the burden that America’s taxpayers have carried in order to alleviate the economic troubles of other countries. Even America’s large middle west population, which is conservative and traditionally isolationist, has assisted to provide funds to rehabilitate the world. Yet, in the light of all that, there has been loose and mischievous talk in this chamber against our friends.
It i3 very difficult to understand why the honorable members of the Opposition have accepted this agreement. It should be completely unacceptable to them, because it is part of the Japanese peace treaty, part of the pact between the Philippines and America and also part of the general Pacific pact. It is obvious that if one part of the whole plan is approved all parts of it must be supported. If one part is rejected all three must be rejected. America realizes that we have legitimate fears about our place in the Pacific, and with real understanding and practical good sense it has provided the Pacific pact to allay our fears and meet our wishes. Therefore, it is quite illogical for honorable members opposite to try to divorce one of these agreements from the others. They are clearly trying to hoodwink the people by telling them that we cannot have the Japanese peace treaty, but that for purely, party political purposes we must accept the Pacific pact.
It is regrettable that Australia’s foreign policy is not worked out on an all-party basis. In America and Great Britain the main points of foreign policy are accepted by all parties, although the parties may disagree on the implementation of the policy. But Australia continues to treat its foreign policy on party political lines. It is natural that we, in this House, should differ on domestic issues, and we must be allowed to voice our own opinions. However, the days have gone when we could rise here and roundly abuse our friends, because our words are no longer for purely local consumption. No longer in this Parliament can we speak just for our electors, and try to curry favour with this or that section. We must realize that our statements here have great international significance, and, accordingly, we must develop a great sense of responsibility. Whatever we say here has a farreaching affect. Our enemies seize eagerly on our statements and are quick to distort them if they can do so. All honorable members know that what is said here can be turned by countries behind the Iron Curtain to their own advantage. Moscow quickly distorts facts and news. An example of that was shown to the world a few days ago. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck, was broadcast over the Radio Moscow as a typical example of American life, and the author has had to deny that it is such a typical example and has had to affirm that it was only intended to portray a certain section of the people of America during the la3t depression. It does not apply to-day, yet Radio Moscow has cunningly endeavoured to convince its listeners that Steinbeck’s book accurately depicts present day conditions in the United States. The Minister for External Affairs has indicated that he will be in a position to prove that even the words that are uttered by members of this House can be twisted and used against us.
Conversation being audible,
-Order! The loud conversation between honor-able members on both sides of the House renders it impossible for us to carry on the business of the Parliament as it should be carried on, and will make it impossible for those who are listening to the broadcast of our proceedings to hear what is being said. I insist that the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) be heard in silence,
– This treaty represents a great step forward for the nations of the Pacific. As the Opposition has rejected the Japanese peace treaty, it must, if it is consistent, also vote against this bill. How do we measure the efficacy of our foreign policy? The Leader of the Opposition has said that because Australia has not been represented on certain international committees our foreign policy has suffered a slight reverse. We can estimate the value of our foreign policy by asking ourselves whether or not it advances the security of Australia, which must be the keystone of our aims. This treaty should go a long way to ensure the security of this nation. Let us consider the history of this treaty. I am sure that the Leader of the Opposition will be pleased to hear me. quote the words of Mr. Spender when he was sitting in this House as a member of the Opposition. Time after time Mr. Spender advocated the arrangement of a Pacific pact. Speaking on that subject when he was sitting in Opposition, Mr. Spender said -
The idea of a Pacific pact emanated not from the right honorable gentleman-
He was referring to the then Minister for External Affairs, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) - but from this side of the chamber. The Government played around with the idea and used it for political propaganda but did nothing whatever about it.
It must be very gratifying to Mr. Spender to see his idea of a Pacific pact brought to fruition and to be in a position to help to translate it into an instrument of this kind. This treaty will give Australia a voice in the international forum. We shall now have a voice in America on Pacific affairs. It represents the first formal link between Australia and the United States of America. In the past we had ran no voice in discussions that led to decisions .that greatly affected the Pacific. Australia may or may not have been consulted when the formal decisions were taken. The enactment of this treaty will enable us to have top level discussions with representatives of the United States of America on Pacific defence and security. Indirectly, it will give Australia a voice in Europe because, should the United States of America be heavily committed in Europe, this treaty will be temporarily weakened. Consequently, Australia’s interests will be well to the forefront in the minds of Americans when they discuss affairs in Europe with the representatives of other nations.
One of the principal aims of our foreign policy must be to ensure the security of the islands that are adjacent to our shores. It has been often said that geographic considerations largely influence foreign policy. We must retain a very close interest in New Guinea and the islands to our north down to and including Noumea. If the French left Noumea would it be strange if we were concerned about who took control of that territory? Would it be strange if we were alarmed at the prospect that the Dutch- might leave Dutch New Guinea and that control of that territory would be exercised by another power? We should be greatly concerned about such changes. We are vitally concerned with the sovereignty of the large chain of islands close to our northern areas. Let me remind the House where the Government stands in relation to Dutch New Guinea. Most Australians are vitally concerned about the future of that territory. The Minister for External Affairs has repeatedly told us that Australia recognizes Dutch sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea and agrees that it should be continued. He has consistently maintained that Indonesia has no real claim to Dutch New Guinea. Despite the fact that the Opposition has done everything to discredit the Dutch people we should remember that, at the beginning of the war with Japan, the Dutch fought side by side with us. Let us cast our minds back to the great naval action in the Dutch East Indies when the Dutch lost a large number of ships. They have a real responsibility to the native peoples of Dutch New Guinea and they should be given an opportunity to discharge it.
This treaty has the full support of the Government parties. If it is supported by the Opposition that support will bc given only for political purposes. I compliment the Minister for his vigorous championship of this treaty which will enable us to feel a little more secure in this troubled world.
.- It is very curious that this Government, which was so incapable of conducting a war that it was dismissed from office, should be so belligerent on defence issues. It is also extraordinary that as time goes on the more the story of Manus Island, which is integrated with the story of this treaty, is developed it becomes more of a newspaper horror story. We are entitled to examine the history of members of the present Government in relation to Manus Island. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has spoken about close bonds in this regionalization of defence. During the war the right honorable gentleman went first to Washington, then to London and later to a job in the Middle East where he was able to take a long-range view of the conflict in the Pacific. We wonder whether he is not still taking a long-range view of international problems as they affect Australia.
Government supporters interjecting,
– I ask honorable members opposite, particularly the comparatively new ones, not .to let their blood pressure rise at this stage. I shall probably say much that will cause it to rise before I conclude my remarks. On this matter the Opposition insists upon its democratic right to speak its mind. I do not care who is listening to what I have to say. Let Stalin listen to me, if he cares to do so. I am expressing an Australian viewpoint. The threat of the Minister that my words may be overheard by the Russians leaves me unmoved. Vyshinsky may very well have listened to the well-modulated Oxford - or is it Cambridge - accent of the right honorable gentleman when he spoke on this measure. Undoubtedly we shall get the usual garbage from Radio- Moscow, but this is a democratic country with a view of its own which it should be able to express. The Minister for External Affairs went berserk in his allegations regarding Manus Island. As a result, instead of being able to listen to a good, level-headed discussion on this pact he was properly treated to a lecture by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who set him right upon some very important matters.
– Just wait.
– Order ! We are prepared to wait as long as we need.
– One of the contentions of the Minister was that literature, records and documents on the files about Manus Island were curiously inadequate or not very voluminous, or words to that effect. Does he know where those documents are? Would he like the Opposition to tell him what has happened to those documents? They were given to a newspaper and there is concrete evidence of that in the feature story that was published in the Sydney Sunday Herald recently. How would any newspaper get that story? It was cooked up on the seventh floor of the Commonwealth Bank. If the Minister is looking for the secret documents he has not far to seek. By inference at least there are some questions for the immediate predecessor of the Minister for External Affairs to answer for having released those documents. Is the Minister trying to tell the House that a circumstantial sixcolumn story could be written out of thin air? No journalist, however brilliant, could write that story without access to the documents. The charge that is made by the Opposition is that those documents were given to a newspaper in breach of a Minister’s oath. Honorable * members on this side of the House want an answer on that point. The suggestion in relation to Manus Island was that the Leader of the Opposition had sold out something. That is where the Government is in error. The Leader of the Opposition conserved something. He was sufficiently Australian to say that it was not his duty, his obligation, or his desire, to give away, in the circumstances, any of our trust territory under mandate to Australia. He adopted the attitude that he would have to return to his government and his people to discover if he had a warrant to do those things. We have the words of the Leader of the British Government, Mr. Churchill, to support the view that no responsible Minister should preside at the liquidation of any part of the British EmpireHonorable members should remember that Australians died for that trust territory in the 1914-18 war.
The questions in relation to Manus Island must be cleared up before there is any general acceptance in the mind of the Australian people that this Pacific pact is to be of use to Australia. The issue has been muddied at the source, particularly by the Minister for External Affairs, who sought to gain political advantage by a lengthy speech mostly aimed at the Leader of the Opposition. The Opposition was prepared to discuss the pact coolly and analytically. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out in regard to Manus Island this was not a matter of giving away a small island. It was a question of driving the British out of the Pacific. Foreign policy switches from point to point and to-day the matter is of no consequence. If we asked the Americans now if they wanted Manus Island they would leave it because the perimeter of defence has moved and the strategic line now is higher up. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, there are islands thousands of miles nearer and if the enemy is to the north, so is the barrier of islands which form the network for defensive action. The matter was thrashed out in the United Nations and our line of defence was moved thousands of miles. Manus Island is not now in question except for the allegations by the Minister. Honorable members on the Government side smile because they have been fed on the pap of Manus Island. They are critical of a Minister of this country who said that he would like to hear more of this proposal before he could give any territory of his country away. The Leader of the Opposition told the Parliament of the. authority he had from the chiefs of staff while he was Minister for External Affairs. He made an analysis of directives and decisions reached by the American House of Representatives Committee on Naval Bases which could later on be nullified completely by the decisions of the naval staff itself and not by politicians. At one time it was suggested that Canton Island, Manus Island, Noumea, Espiritu Santo, Gaudalcanal, Nadi in Fiji and Apia in Samoa, should come into the network of islands that was to be given over entirely. Any nation was entitled to resist that plan. The Leader of the Opposition, who was then the Minister for External Affairs, suggested that there should be mutual bases and that Australia should have reciprocal rights. In view of the fact that we had a mandate which declared that mandated territory must not be fortified, it was a very fair thing.
I warn the Minister and the Government that the United States of America dislikes stoogery. If the Government wants to be a close partner in the Pacific pact and favours peace-making machinery in the Pacific, the Americans would rather it spoke its mind instead of tagging along. The Minister has inferred that something horrible has happened. That suspicion resides only in his own mind. The Opposition challenges him to find out where his missing papers are. We say that they have been delivered to the press by a former Minister. There can be no doubt of the immediate necessity for an inquiry into what happened to the papers that are missing from the files. He should have had a little hind sight in regard to them, because he will cause trouble to one of his colleagues over this matter. The case is crystal clear. There never has been and is now no desire on the part of the Americans to press the question. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) has stated that all the machinery on Manus Island was destroyed. That was part of American policy. Anybody who was in New Guinea or other places where the Americans were in occupation saw the ploughing in of equipment. The whole question was, at one stage, whether we were right or wrong in insisting that we maintain the integrity of our own territory. If it was handed over by the Minister or at the request, of certain sections of the press, 1’hf> Government will have to answer to i he people ami not to the Opposition. Somebody has blown up a penny balloon to extraordinary dimensions. The members of this Government have no warrant to do that sort of thing because they abdicated in 1941 and left Australia to look after its defences. That is no reflection on the personal courage of the Minister, whose political strategy was defence in depth because he left for Washington and England and returned to the Middle East, where he did a fine unci honorable job. He muddied his record only a little when he went tigershooting in Bengal. He came back to this House, and in the course of this debate he has turned a little sour now and again, and that is not like him.
It is obvious that the Opposition must insist on and does unanimously subscribe to this pact in its entirety. It has for its basis the elements agreed upon by the United Nations which are now being disposed into regional security pacts. We know that it is the pay-off to the Japanese peace treaty a nd though we are still grievously worried about the repercussions of that atrocious document, we accept this pact. But when we ask ourselves what is in it, we must be honest and admit that it does not give us anything that we have not already got, although it does make existing understandings more valid by putting them in writing. This agreement will not relieve us of our responsibility to defend ourselves. In fact, every word of it suggests that we must be prepared to do more than that. The agreement does not mean that we shall be able to sit idly by and let the United States of America look after us. It insists that there shall be consultations about our security from time to time. We shall have to render an account of ourselves. The agreement will also set up a Pacific council, on which the Minister for External Affairs will probably be Australia’s representative. That council will discuss Pacific problems and decide what can be done about them. This pact has teeth but they are irregular and are not a complete set. It proposes what may be regarded as a Monroe Doctrine for the Pacific. Does the pact visualize that we shall be attacked from Antarctica? Certainly not. Does it visualize an attack by New Zealand? Certainly not. All our potential aggressors are to the north. The pact, merely represents an aggregation of strength which assures us that if we are attacked, it will be a matter for consultation, which means that the United States Congress and the Australian Parliament will go into discussions about it. But do not let us run away with the idea that the pact does not also carry obligations. Let us analyse those obligations. When the Korean conflict is resolved in favour of the Allies, suppose for the sake of this argument there is an outbreak of aggression in Indonesia, that happening could rightly be regarded as a threat to the safety of the United Nations, the United States of America and Australia. It might well be that in such circumstances a demand would be made on us for an expeditionary force, and the Government might have to fit ite defence policy into the emergency of the situation. As the Minister ha3 said one of our obligations will be to look after our own defences. As a result of consultation, a demand might, be made upon us to establish a force of so many men to stand by in case of an aggressive move in the East. That is important because it pre-supposes that two peoples, anxious for their own security, one a strong nation and the other strong in its desire to remain great, will come together for mutual assistance. In my opinion, the agreement will impose more obligations on the Australian people than it will impose on the Americans but we shall be in the scheme of international affairs with both feet. The pact might well force a change in the traditional policy of the Labour party in regard to expeditionary forces. We might become involved beyond our strength in a conflict in the Pacific which would be not our immediate struggle, but which would be the struggle of humanity and democracy. To say that this pact is nothing more than a pay-off for the Japanese peace treaty is to give a false picture of the security for which we must work and fight. But I reaffirm the statement that the Government is viewing it in that li;*hf.
Beyond that, the pact has a lot to recommend it and it requires no explanation other than the Minister has given. Tt is a simple document -which has grown out of plans with which we are all familiar.
It has been said during this debate that because there has been political disputation on this matter, we shall never have a live foreign policy; but debates on international affairs have been takingplace in the House of Commons for many years and no one can argue that Britain has not had a live foreign policy. Any government that endeavoured to inhibit discussion in this Parliament on such a vital matter as a Pacific pact would be rendering a great disservice to this country. I also make the point that the whole question of Manus Island has to be fought now. The Leader of the Opposition has stated his case. He has told us what he did and has said that he is proud of it. He believes that succeeding generations will approve of his policy. He would not agree to give away one inch of Australian territory, and he will not have the British people swept out of the Pacific region. The line of defence so far as Manus Island is concerned is no longer an issue. It was not an idea of his own, but something that had evolved from consultations with the United Kingdom and with the United States of America. He accepted the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the speech of the Leader of the Opposition to-night there is a complete answer to the allegations of honorable gentlemen opposite concerning Manus Island, and I suggest that the Minister in his reply will at. least have to modify his accusations. If the Minister is looking for a nigger in the woodpile, I suggest that he look close to his own door. He should examine some of the actions of his predecessor.
This pact will be useful to us, but it carries obligations as well as advantages. It is something that we shall have to live up to and Australia can distinguish itself by discharging its responsibilities thoroughly. I think I speak for all honorable members of this chamber when I say that it would be very sad indeed if, while we are seeking the support of the democratic countries in our fight to remain in the Pacific, we were to put an iron curtain round this Parliament and insist that foreign policy should not be made the subject of political censorship. The essence of democracy is that everything should be dragged to the light of day. If some one else takes the wrong lines we cannot be worried. I hope that the pa,ct will be successful. I hope that democracy will be improved and nourished by its plans for the South Pacific. I hope too that in some way the strength of this pact which lies in the principles of service to one another and conference with one another on military requirements will react against the supine, foolish, and disastrous peace treaty with Japan that we have just ratified.
.- This pact is one of the most important that this Parliament has ever been called upon to ratify, but the Opposition has chosen to turn the debate into a defence of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) for his calamitous action in throwing away the defences of Manus Island which were available to us at the end of the war. It was one of the worst and most costly diplomatic blunders from which this country has ever suffered. Honorable members opposite have attempted to defend the Chifley Government against the charge which has been made, not only in this Parliament, but at large throughout this country, but the charge has never been adequately refuted. To defend it they have even given vent to statements about stolen documents, which read like a shilling thriller to try to distract attention from the charge. But we all know the reason for the right honorable gentleman’s activities in driving the Americans out of Manus Island. If we had forgotten it, he himself reminded us of it when he gave us what he declared to be reasons for the success of Australian democracy in his term as Minister for External Affairs. He complains that we are not now represented on any of the committees of the United Nations. We all know that his activities concerning Manus Island were dictated by his consuming ambition to be elected president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, to achieve which he had to make himself the champion of the small nations, particularly those of Central and South America. In pursuit of that purpose, he had to demonstrate the strength of his antagonism to the United States of America. Consequently, the Americans were driven holus-bolus from Manus Island, instead of being allowed to remain there to establish and maintain a powerful base, as they were ready to do.
The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has described the previous Government’s decision on Manus Island as not being a loss of conservation of defence materials. Has he seen the kind of conservation that went on at Manus Island? Has he seen the remains of air-strips, sheds, water supplies, roads, bridges, stores and buildings, which have now gone back to the jungle? Is he aware of the fact that the whole of those resources would have been available for Australian defence at tho end of the war, if a sensible, co-operative arrangement had then been made with the Americans ? But they were denied to us by the action of the right honorable gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition. Is he aware that such of the equipment as could be removed was taken away by the United States of America, whilst the remainder was sold to the Chinese and the pickings were left to Australia, or the jungle? The Leader of the Opposition has had the effrontery to tell us that Manus Island had no defensive equipment, but was only a staging post. The remains of its defensive equipment can still be seen, and are themselves the answer to his lame excuse.
The debate on the Treaty of Peace (Japan) Bill, which preceded this debate, and the attitude of the Opposition so far as it has been disclosed in this debate, shows the lamentable failure of honorable members opposite to recognize the facts of the international situation and the dire peril in which the world stands now. The treaty now before us is the second leg of the defensive diplomacy of the free nations of the Pacific. It is an agreement by the United States of America. New Zealand and Ans-
Mr. Osborne tralia for mutual defence within the framework of the United Nations, and to understand its necessity and its importance we must consider all the facts of the perils that face the free world to-day. The democracies now find themselves in a. very different position from that in which they were in in 1946. They lie around the fringe of the greatest aggregation of aggressive might that the world has yet seen. The Soviet and its satellites control almost the whole of the largest land mass in the world considered geographically, with Russia itself as the centre. If we move anti-clockwise through the north of Western Europe, we find that Russia dealt with Finland in 1940; the Baltic States were raped and absorbed; Poland was incorporated; and East -Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Roumania and part of Austria were all included in the Communist land mass. Central Europe is in the Russian bag. There is an insecure porthole in the Balkans and Asia. Minor. The line moves right across to the south of Central Europe, through Turkestan and Tibet and embraces the whole of China. The circle is completed in Siberia. That means that the greatest land mass in the world is a unified, hostile and aggressive camp which is self-contained and self-sufficient. Its communications are wholly internal and it has been deliberately collected, constructed and gathered in pursuit of a policy of mass impregnability. It is armed to the teeth, welded and solidified by a fanatic and malignant faith that not only binds it together but also at the same time weakens its opponents.
Around that mass of Soviet unity the democracies are strung like a necklace. Again moving anti-clockwise we find that the United Kingdom has been shorn of its resources, its economy has been disrupted by two world wars, and it has a population greater than it can feed. Its defensive capacity has been enormously weakened by the advent of the atom bomb. Western Europe is worn and ravaged by the last war, and is still only slowly struggling towards some form of political integration. Italy and Greece have a tenuous hold on free existence, almost at the will of the Soviet. The countries of the
Middle East are aflame with nationalistic ambitions which blind their eyes to the perils that face them from outside. India is sitting on the fence trying to follow the only policy that cannot be followed, which is that of having a foot in each camp. Pakistan is at arm’s length from India and is sadly weakened by the tragic problem of Kashmir. Burma and Siam share a precarious freedom in which peace is almost a day-to-day gift of the Soviet. In Malaya, Britons and Australians are now engaged in war, and are not at the moment victorious. The future freedom of Japan from the Soviet ring is dependent on Japan’s own capacity to defence itself with the help of such forces as the United States of America can spare from American commitments elsewhere. A major war is now being fought in Korea and is allowed to die down and flare up at the Soviet’s will by means of the ceasefire negotiations, which are almost as old as the war itself, and which the Communists use, as they use so many other things, as an instrument of policy. The thin cord ,which holds the democracies together ca’n be cut or torn at the. Soviet’s will in a dozen places at once. The Soviet can strike almost anywhere around that circle. It could strike at many places at the same time. “What can we oppose to that gloomy picture ? There is the might of American arms,- supported by the British Commonwealth and by such contributions as can be made by other free nations. Above all, however, it is American wealth and American armed forces on which the free world must lean. Those are facts from which there is no escape, notwithstanding the attempts to escape from them which the Leader of the Opposition has made to-night. This treaty ensures for Australia, as well as human effort can do it, that we shall have, in time of need, the assistance of American strength. The free democracies are now engaged in a global war. It is true that for the time being it is only sporadic, but it can at any moment flare up into a single gigantic conflict. It could be fought at once in “Western Europe, the Middle East, South-East Asia and the North American continent. It is by no means inconceivable that the conflict could flare up in all these parts of the world at the same time. Is it possible, that in those circumstances Australia and New Guinea would escape from involvement? It is at least certain that our shipping would! be attacked and disrupted, and it is quite’ likely that our ports would be attacked by atomic weapons borne to the point df attack by submarines. In such a conflict the free world would be stretched to its very limits in order to be in a position to survive. ‘;
Now I come to the importance of this pact. “Without its obligations America would almost certainly draw its inner line of Pacific defence at a point that would exclude Australia. Now we can see the true significance of the previous Government’s failure to make the best use of Manus Island and American cooperation there. Had the American offers been accepted by the previous Government instead of having been rejected with contumely by the right honorable gentleman who is now the Leader of the Opposition, in pursuit of his own ambitions, it is probable that America’s line of Pacific defence would have been drawn far wider than it has been drawn. It is even conceivable that it might to-day have included Malaya. But that opportunity was carelessly and wickedly thrown away. This treaty represents a successful attempt by the Government to recover sonic of the ground lost by the last Government. The signing of the treaty has an incalculable advantage for Australia in that America’s line of defence now runs through the north-western Pacific, and covers Australia. If the Soviet should decide on war we know that there is a defence line extending from the Kuri les through Japan, the Philippines and New Guinea to Australia and New Zealand. The defence pattern is clear, but that is only a. beginning. Ultimately, we must stand or fall with the democracies. Australia and the other Pacific nations cannot survive alone. It is up to us to do our part to promote the collective security of the free world. This pact is the first great step forward in promoting the collective security of the Pacific region. In this region, Australia and New Zealand must assume a far greater share of responsibility for defence than before. The weight will be carried principally by the United States of America, but it must be shared by Australia and New Zealand. Canada is taking no part, because Canada looks to the north and to the east. It looks to northern Europe, and also across the North Pole to the Soviet region. The United Kingdom is fully occupied in Europe and the Middle East, and can take no effective part in Pacific affairs. Every day Great Britain becomes more involved in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and, we are obliged to assume responsibilities once borne by the Mother Country. Many of us will look back with regret to the time when there was a closely integrated British Empire which guarded the security of the Pacific region. The defence of the Empire was one and indivisible, but it is of no use to look backwards.
I believe that this treaty represents Australia’s real emergence into the world of treaties and international arrangements on its own account, independently of the British Commonwealth, and independently of Great Britain. That, in itself, is not a matter for congratulation, nor can it be contemplated with pleasure. Indeed, those of us who valued highly the closer ties of Empire view this emergence with profound regret. But there is another side to the matter. The treaty gives us the chance to make ourselves heard effectively when decisions, are being made by great powers that shape the future. Article VLT. of the treaty provides for the setting up of a council of foreign ministers or deputies, who can meet at any time, and through this instrument we can inform official American opinion of our ideas and needs, and help to influence American decisions.
Certain matters, which concern us deeply and urgently, have not always received that consideration from the United States of America to which we believed them to be entitled. I have in mind particularly our great concern over Indonesian demands on Dutch New Guinea - a concern which is not, apparently, properly understood by leaders in the United States of America. Through the Council of Foreign Ministers we may be able to gain sympathy for our very real fears in regard to Dutch New Guinea. We may also be able to use our influence in wider spheres than our own immediate concerns - a fact which has been already appreciated by the Americans themselves. Mr. John Foster Dulles, when speaking in New York at a function of thi? American-Australian Society about the part which Australia and New Zealand (t. ;-t7 in Pacific affairs, said -
The influence in Commonwealth matters of those two countries, Australia and New Zealand, is great, and they are in an ideal position to bring about basic unity between the Commonwealth and the United States of America, and so avoid a future that is fraught with the gravest peril for us nil.
He was referring particularly to recent disturbing signs of lack of unity between the United States of America and the British Commonwealth, and to misunderstandings such as have occurred too often. Take, for example, the conflicting views of Great Britain and the United States of America over the recognition of Communist China. This is an affair not nearly so cut and dried as most Americans’ opinion appear to believe, and if we can assist to explain and reconcile the British view with that of the United States of America, we shall be doing something of real value. I remind the House of the words of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) last night-
– Order ! The honorable member may not refer to what has been said in the course of a former debate during the current session.
– This House has been reminded recently that the free nations cannot survive if conflicts arise, or misunderstandings occur, between tho British Commonwealth and the United States of America. I believe that to be profoundly true. If we are to play our part in Pacific affairs, which are assuming ever-increasing importance, if we are to use effectively the Council of Foreign Ministers that is to be set up under the treaty, it is imperative that the Australian people should have a clearer idea of the facts of their relations with the rest of the world, and it is still more important that we should come to a proper understanding of the situation that we face, and the purpose that we ought to pursue. I appeal to members of the Opposition to join more fully with the Government in evolving unified foreign policy. I refer particularly to the attempt made again to-day to induce them to co-operate in the setting up of a foreign affairs committee.
– Order ! The honorable member is now out of order.
– I see this treaty as a valuable accretion to the defence of Australia if we should ever find ourselves in extreme peril, and I see it also as a means whereby we may make a far greater contribution to the security of the free world. The Government, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and the former Minister, Mr. Spender, are to be commended upon having brought about the present situation.
.- 1 wish to deal specifically with the Pacific pact, but some reference has been made in the course of this debate to missing documents, and I propose to touch on that matter. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) declared that certain documents were missing from the official files, and there followed an allegation that a former Minister had handed some of the documents over to the press. Those statements should be investigated, no matter who may be implicated. A royal commission should be appointed to inquire into them. I know nothing of the truth of the matter except that public men have made accusations alleging the removal of documents. If such charges had been made against a Minister in the British Parliament they would, if established, undoubtedly have led to his resignation.
Members of the Opposition, in speaking of this pact, have not mentioned its real significance, or what the Government, itself, said was its real significance when it was first mooted. The truth is that underlying this pact is suspicion of the Japanese and doubtfulness of the Japanese peace settlement ; and, as a part of the price to induce the Australian Government to accept the peace treaty with Japan, the United States of America has been willing to enter into this pact. Every person who seriously studies this pact will welcome it. The Opposition believes it to be good. However, that does not justify the unrealistic approach that the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) and the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) have made to it. This pact adds nothing to the world situation; it simply expresses in writing what has always been a fact, that is, the community of interest that exists between Australia and the United States of America. I exempt the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) from this criticism, but honorable members on the Government back benches are so distressingly servile that they invariably portray Australia in the process of being rescued by some other nation. By inference they say, in effect, “ Are we not lucky that we are now being rescued by the United States of America? Let us be servile, and do as we are told to do “. That is the inference to be drawn from their speeches.
Looked at realistically this pact simply puts into writing what is a fact. Honorable members opposite have said that if Australia is attacked the United States nf America will come to our rescue. Any attack is most likely to come from the north. The United States of America has signed a pact with the Philippines, and if any attack were launched southward from China, or Russian bases in the Far East, it would immediately cause the outbreak of a world war because such an attack would inevitably have an impact upon a chain of islands that are controlled by the United States of America before it could possibly reach Australia. No country is in a position to attack Australia in the first instance without moving elsewhere on a scale that would inevitably cause a world war. Therefore, the chances that the United States of America will be called upon to honour this pact in the event of an attack being made upon Australia are at most only one-tenth of the chances that Australia will be called upon to honour this pact in the event of the United States of America becoming involved in a world war. I do not make that statement in criticism of the pact. The honorable member for Evans, when he referred to the Pacific, spoke about British identification with Europe and appeared to bc worried about that aspect. Australia ‘will npt be attacked from Asia, or from anywhere in the Pacific, unless a war first occurs in Europe. That is as true’ to-day as it was in 1939. The attempts of honorable, members opposite to minimize the. importance of events in Europe and, at the same time, to magnify the importance of this pact as though a Pacific pact’ were of primary importance in world affairs to-day reveals an unrealistic outlook.
I repeat that this pact registers what ‘is a fact. If there were aggression in the Pacific and it should come from Asia the chances would be that the United States of America would be at war whether this pact existed or not; and because of the complete identity of Australia with the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America we also would be at war in such circumstances whether this pact existed or not. The honorable member for Evans, touchingly, made two startling propositions. The first of them was that we assumed in the Pacific responsibilities that were formerly borne by Great Britain. That is a remarkable statement. His second startling statement was that if certain things had not happened in relation to Manus Island the United States of America would have included Malaya in its inner line qf defence in the Pacific. The honorable member forgets that Malaya is a British colony. Therefore, he was merely childish when he linked that idea with some story that he told about Manus Island. But the honorable member’s contention that we have assumed obligations that were formerly borne by Great Britain is so inaccurate as to be laughable, coming as it does from a public man. I remind him and his colleagues that despite Great Britain’s preoccupations . in Europe, it is engaged in operations in Korea on a far larger scale than is Australia and is in a position to exert greater influence than Australia can in the Pacific.
The honorable member for Calare made the remarkable statement that the Opposition persecuted the Dutch in “New Guinea. It would be very helpful if ‘the honorable member and his COleagues would deal with details instead o’f indulging in generalities. I should be astonished, if they could point to any statement recorded in Hansard in which any member of the Opposition, during the last two years, had referred to the Dutch in a way that would justify that charge. However, that allegation is a strange preliminary to urging the Opposition to nominate representatives to sit on the proposed foreign affairs committee. When honorable members opposite charge members of the Opposition with having stolen documents and say that they are wholly unreliable, it is strange that, at the 3ame time, they should be urging the Opposition to co-operate with the Government on that committee.
To-day, world political power is divided into three blocs. Of the three, two are fairly loosely organized. They are the British Commonwealth of Nations and what the United States of America calls the Western Hemisphere but which can be better described as the Americas. The honorable member for Evans suggested that Australia could be the link between Great Britain and the United States of America. Historically at any rate Canada has always been the link between those two powers. The third power bloc, to which I have referred, is the United Soviet Socialist Republics and its satellites. I have never under estimated the importance of the United Nations ; but if peace exists to-day it is because, regardless of anything that the United Nations may do, nominal peace - I should not say tolerance - exists between those three blocs. If another world war occurs it will be caused by the breakdown of the relationship between those three blocs.
This pact will help to determine more specifically the obligations between the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America and in that respect it should be welcomed; but it is completely false to say that it is startlingly new and that it will afford complete safeguards for Australia because, as a result of it, a great power has taken us under its wing. There is a far greater chance that Australia will be called upon to honour its signed obligations than we shall be attacked and that, consequently, any other country will be called upon to rescue us.
.- I must express my disappointment at the tenor of the speech that the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has just delivered. He made no worthwhile contribution to the debate, but merely indulged in carping criticisms. We are now being asked to ratify a treaty of partnership, an alliance. If every member of the Opposition spoke in that way, or if the members of the Government thought in that way, this treaty would be a valueless document. The honorable member for Fremantle made impassioned references to what he called missing documents, and suggested that a royal commission should be appointed to locate the whereabouts of those documents. This document is not missing. This is the document that in under discussion. We want to know what members of the Opposition think of it. They are either for it or against it. If any member of the Opposition has nothing but carping criticism to level against this document, which is not missing, he is against this treaty. If the Opposition as a whole has nothing to offer but carping criticism, then the Opposition as a whole is against this treaty. The honorable member for Fremantle sees in this document cause for suspicion. He would do sol These were the words that he used -
T sue in this treaty cause for suspicion.
Why cannot he and other members of the Opposition take a solemn document o*’ this kind at its face value?
– I rise to order. I object to the honorable member’s complete falsification of my statement.
– Order ! The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) must not interrupt now. He will have the right to make a personal explanation when the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) has concluded his speech. I undertake to call him then. If I am not in the chair at that moment, I shall arrange for my deputy to do so. _ Mr. ROBERTON”.- I listened attentively to what the honorable member for Fremantle said. I believe that I have quoted his exact words.
– If that is the case, my accent must be as unintelligible as is that of the honorable member for Riverina.
– I am doing tolerably well if the honorable member for Fremantle has understood me thus far. If he listens to me with all his intellectual resources, he may be able to understand me to the end. I ask a simple question : Why cannot the honorable member for Fremantle and other honorable gentlemen opposite accept this solemn treaty at its face value? It is a treaty entered into by the United States of America and ourselves, by the Dominion of New Zealand and ourselves, and by the Dominion of New Zealand and the United States of America. Yet, the honorable member for Fremantle sees in the document cause for suspicion. That is a gratuitous insult to the people and Government of the United States of America, and of New Zealand. Tt does little credit to any member of His Majesty’s Opposition in this Parliament.
– If what the honorable gentleman is saying were correct, that would be so.
– The purpose of this bill is to secure the approval of this Parliament to the security treaty that was signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America at San Francisco on the 1st September of last year. The text of the treaty forms the schedule to the bill. I look to members of the Opposition who have nothing but carping criticism to offer to have the courage of their convictions and to say without equivocation, “ I oppose this treaty. I am an isolationist, pure and simple. I can find no affinity with any of the other free peoples of the world. I propose that we should adopt an isolationist policy until such time as it is convenient to identify ourselves with those in other parts of the world who have surrendered their freedom “. I should have some respect for a man who said that. I should have some respect for an Opposition that opposed this treaty on its merits, or on its lack of merits. But I have nothing but blame and reproach for those who level against it only carping criticism.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in his second-reading speech on this very important bill, said-
The treaty is not intended to replace or supplant the general system- of world security which the United Nations was designed to establish, nor will it supersede defence arrangements made within the British Commonwealth. Indeed, it specifically recognizes that iiic three parties, while having special responsibilities in the Pacific area, also have wider interests extending outside that area.
That was a simple condensation of the intentions of this treaty. But the Minister was even more lucid than that. He explained the principal purposes of the treaty, when he said -
First of all, the parties agree to maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.
I could understand some members of the Opposition opposing that purpose of the treaty. Some honorable gentlemen opposite have never had any stomach for the defence of this country from armed attack, and have from time to time done whatever lay within their power to prevent effective measures being adopted to protect it from attack. Therefore, on the grounds of consistency, there is some justification for their opposing that purpose of the treaty.
Those of us who have even an elementary knowledge of the history of the last half-century know that any country must be prepared at all times to defend itself. Even a country as great as the United States of America at one time adopted a pacifist and .isolationist attitude, the like of which the world had not seen previously. The Americans evolved what they called doctrines to keep them out of international disputes. Their intention was to stay out of what they called “ involved international disputes “. Those of us who have been privileged to live through these intensely interesting years have seen that, the United States of America has had to abandon its policies of extreme pacifism and isolationism and, because of the disintegration of the British Empire - which, in my opinion, is the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century - to assume responsibilities that have been undertaken by British people for two or three hundred years. What a transformation of a country as great and as determined as the United States of America ! Tet there are those who say that this country and no other should take effective measures to resist armed attack. The Minister continued -
Secondly, the parties agree to consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened in the Pacific.
Surely that article gives a measure of confidence to those of us who have been seriously concerned about our vulnerability in the Pacific. Surely New Zealand has cause for satisfaction in this treaty, because it was in precisely the same position as Australia. Surely Australia and New Zealand have cause for satisfaction in the fact that the United States of America is willing to be third party to this contract. The responsibilities that are imposed by the treaty are common to each of the signatories. Nothing could be more simple than that. Nothing could contribute more to our security in the future.
Article IV. reads, in part -
Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would bc dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
That article explains, in simple terms, the final purpose of this treaty - this security part, if I may so describe it. On those three counts alone, I” support this bill with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my spirit. That is the only way in which we can support a treaty of this description. If it cannot be supported with all that we have and all that we are, the proper course for us to take is to reject it. I suggest that Opposition members should take that course, if their criticism of the treaty is sincere.
I am one of those who deplore the disintegration of the British Empire. I was horn at a time when any British subject could go anywhere in the world with absolute freedom and safety. As long as we played the game of life according to the rules laid down by the people in the country in which we travelled, nothing could happen to us. For the whole of my life, I have enjoyed that security by the grace of God and of the British Empire, and for no other reason. Yet some persons among us have been content to see that tremendous force for good wantonly destroyed to the detriment of our children and those who come after us. My children are restricted in respect of where they can go, and what they can engage in. They must be careful. They are expressly excluded from some parts of the world. If they dared to visit some countries they could do so only in fear and trembling. Some of those territories are adjacent to our own shores. Yet you and I, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have enjoyed up to this time the security, freedom, liberties and illimitable opportunities that the British Empire has given to men like you and me for hundreds of years. Those advantages have been wantonly destroyed, not by our enemies from without, but by our enemies within; and because of that wanton destruction we find ourselves in a world geared to war, utterly defenceless and completely friendless.
Admittedly, Australia is a component of what is called the Commonwealth of Nations. It is described magnanimously by Opposition members as a loose arrangement - just a loose arrangement - or a superior arrangement to the British Empire in accordance with which a component may remain a member of. or leave the Commonwealth of Nations at will. Indeed, some of the components have already indicated that, at the propitious moment or at the unpropitious moment according entirely to their viewpoint, they will leave the Commonwealth of Nations. That kind of loose arrangement is of no use and no value to me and to those who share my views. I long for the restoration of the British Empire, not for the sake of the British Empire as such, but for the everlasting good of mankind as a whole. I am one of those who believe that the influences of the British Empire were fundamentally sound, and that had it not been for internecine strife, class consciousness, and the hatreds and bitterness that have pervaded the hearts and minds of certain men, some of whom are here to-night, the Empire could be as strong to-day as it ever was. But the position is reversed. We are alone in the world. It is not a laughing matter, although some Opposition members appear so to regard it. 1 congratulate the Minister for External Affairs on his achievement of this security treaty - this alliance with the people of New Zealand and the United
States of America. Admittedly, it will impose on us responsibilities from which we have been willing to escape from time to time. Should New Zealand be attacked or involved in a war, we too will be involved in that war. Should the United States of America or any of its territories be attacked and the United States of America be at war, we too will be at war. Such an obligation has never been imposed upon Australia before. That responsibility has applied only to those within this country who have been willing to play their full part in a. conflict of that description. We sa w it in 1914-18 when these who wanted to stand up to what may be called our treaty responsibilities as a member of the Empire volunteered to fight. When we were at liberty to discharge our responsibilities, some were discouraged and others were prevented from doing so. Similarly in 1939-45, when we were involved in a conflagration the like of which the world had never seen, some were willing and eager to play their part, and in deed and in fact they did play their part at a terrible cost. Yet, some were prevented and others were discouraged from playing their part. Fancy, Australia, which has such a small population, had two armies in World War II. ! The world was at war, and the freedom of this country and the whole future of mankind were at stake, yet the Labour Government conceived it to be its duty to divide our forces in a way thathad never been tried by any other country. We had two armies. One of them was to fight abroad, and the other was to fight at home. Each was distinguished from the other in a variety of ways, and some men are now ashamed to confess to their fellows that they were members of one of those armies. During the last war, twelve days after a battle started in which Australian troops were engaged, they were withdrawn by the Australian Government and the New Zealanders, the South Africans and the British troops were left to continue the fight while the Australian forces came home. This treaty will prevent a disaster such as that from occurring again. It will prevent the occurrence of a similar shameful event and I would support it for that reason if for no other.
Government supporters have directed attention to the precarious state of affairs in the Pacific. If France becomes weary of the struggle in Indo-China it mav withdraw and leave the country to the Vietminh Republic. I am informed that the conflict in Indo-China is costing France billions of dollars and if French forces withdraw from that territory it will leave an immediate vacuum and the Vietminh Republic will become a satellite state of the Soviet Union. Those who have made a study of foreign affairs can assess that fact at its true value although it may not mean very much to people who are not interested in that subject. If the Dutch were to grow weary of the struggle in New Guinea and withdraw, that would leave another vacuum. It has been suggested that the Indonesians should move into Dutch New Guinea.
– Who suggested that?
– lt does not matter who suggested it. It has been suggested and considered and that fact is an indication of our precarious position in the Pacific. I should like our people to appreciate the true significance of the tremendously important movements that are taking place at present. Analogous to a Dutch withdrawal from New Guinea would be a. British withdrawal from Malaya. The country would then be left to the Malays or Chinese. If the British withdrew from Malaya our position would become immeasurably worse. I remember the time when that beautiful island of Tasmania was losing population. There was an almost continuous flow of people from Tasmania to the mainland. If we were to vacate Tasmania we should leave there a vacuum which could be filled by the Indonesians or Chinese. Such a development would be analogous to a withdrawal by the French from Indo-China or by the Dutch from New Guinea.
I support this bill because it will restore to this country the security that it enjoyed when the British Empire was in a position to discharge its full imperial responsibilities. This pact will ensure unity between the United .States of America, the Dominion of New Zealand and Australia. In spite of what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said, we are fortunate that a sturdy little people such as the New Zealanders have been prepared to enter into a contract of this description. The people of both New Zealand and Australia are fortunate in that they have a strong and powerful ally in the United States of America. When this document is ratified we must ensure that Australia shall be in a position to discharge its full responsibilities and we shall then be able to look to the future with a greater degree of confidence. For that reason if for no other I support the bill with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my spirit.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 claim that I have been misrepresented. At the beginning of the speech of the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) he said that I had stated in the course of my speech that I found cause for suspicion in this pact. I used the word “ suspicion “ only when I said that one explanation of this pact was the suspicion of the Government that the Japanese peace treaty might not be effective. I did not say that I had any suspicion in relation to the pact. I said specifically that I welcomed it as another link between the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America. I was also misrepresented in the closing stage of the honorable member’s speech when he made some reference to the sturdy people of New Zealand and implied that I had insulted them although I did not mention the people of New Zealand in the course of my speech.
– - I accept the apology.
– I object to that statement. I did not make an apology and I ask that the honorable member’s statement be withdrawn.
– I was under the impression that the honorable member for Fremantle was apologizing. If he was not, I withdraw my statement.
– Government supporters have very cunningly evaded stating the real purpose of this pact. Actually, it is an innocuous pact. It will not he very important, as far as this country is concerned, whether it is ratified or rejected. I believe that the real purpose of the Government in agreeing to this pact was to provide a sop for the Australian public. The Government has attempted to lull the people into a sense of false security by making them imagine that there was no real danger to the security of Australia in the ratification of the Japanese peace treaty. I believe that to be its only purpose. There would never have been a Pacific pact if this Government had not appealed to the United States Government to give to it something that it could offer to the Australian people in order to convince them that their security was not being sacrificed by means of the ratification of the treaty that will permit Japan to rearm. I direct attention to that fact so that the people will see through the device. The Pacific pact is not a pact in the sense that the Atlantic pact is a pact. The nations that are parties to it do not undertake direct commitments. The Pacific pact does not even specify the forces that are to be made available for the purposes of a common defence plan. Article II. states -
In order more effectively to achieve the objective of this Treaty the Parties separately and jointly by means of continuous and effective self-help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack.
That is just a conglomeration of words. It may sound all right to the planners and to the amateur strategists of the Australian Country party, but it does not mean a thing to the Australian public. It does not stipulate that Australia shall contribute certain forces in order to uphold the security of the parties to the pact. “What the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has said is perfectly true. If Australia is to be committed to the defence of the widespread American interests in the Pacific region, a position may easily arise in which, if we have in office a government that is prepared to become involved in all the conflicts that may develop throughout the Pacific area, Australia may well be denuded of its man-power.
The honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) criticized the war-time Labour Government because, when Aus tralia was threatened by the southward advance of Japan, that Government acted quickly and wisely in bringing back the Australian troops that were in the Middle East. Those experienced troops arrived just in the nick of time and, but for their presence, this country would have been invaded by Japan. There is no doub about that. The Government and its supporters take themselves far too seriously. Australia covers a vast area, but its population numbers only a little over S,000,000. Yet those honorable gentlemen talk glibly about the problems of the world as though Australia were in a position, if it wished to do so, to contribute forces for the settlement of all the international disputes that have arisen. Australia would have a major task on its hands, involving the use of all its resources, including its man-power, if it were called upon to defend and keep inviolate its shores.
The Pacific pact does not commit the United States of America to send forces to defend Australian territory in the event of an attack being made upon us. In fact, the Americans came to the aid of Australia during World War II. without the obligation of any pact. When the Labour Government at that time appealed for American help in this theatre of operations, members of the Opposition who now sit on the Government side of the House accused it of being a traitor to the British Commonwealth. The attitude of this Government and its supporters has been inconsistent at all times. As I have said, the Americans did not need a pact during World War II., and I believe that no pact is necessary now. United States interests and Australian interests are so closely interlocked in certain respects that no written pact is required. The Government has insisted upon the preparation of a formal document so that it can submit the pact to the people and say, “ You have nothing, to fear. Even if there is a resurgence of militarism in Japan, and) even if the Japanese rearm and acquire the atom bomb, you will remain safe because we have the Pacific pact “. Article III. of the pact states -
The Parties will consult together whenever in the opinion of any of them the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any one of the Parties is threatened in the Pacific
Do not members of the Government parties realize that there has been a change in the method by which nations go to war? Aggressors do not issue ultimatums. They do not give notice of their intentions weeks, days or even hours before they act. The enemy struck without warning in the Pacific during World War II. and made his declarations later. Japan, like every other sovereign nation, is now to have the right to develop atom bombs. Does the Government imagine that, if it possessed atom bombs, we should have time to consult before it attacked us? The Government knows also that the only authority that can commit the United States of America to enter any conflict in accordance with the terms of its constitution is the United States Congress. Therefore, this document has little meaning.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr.’ Casey) has alleged that the Chifley Government rejected an American offer to co-operate with Australia in the development and maintenance of a defence base on Manus Island. He also said that it was obvious that certain papers in relation to this subject were missing from the official file. Members of the present Government parties were vehement on a previous occasion when it was stated in this House that a paper had been removed from an official file. They demanded that a royal commission bc appointed. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was then the Leader of the Opposition, said that suspicion had been cast upon the public servants who were charged with the care of certain files, and claimed that the matter ought to be investigated in order to clear their good name and reputation. The Minister for Externa] Affairs has now charged the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), by implication, with the removal of certain, papers from a file so that the present Government could not establish that he had been responsible for the rejection of an alleged American offer to share with Australia the use of the Manus Island bare. It has been alleged from the Opposition side of the House that Mr. Spender, when he was Minister for
External Affairs, took the papers from the file and handed them to a representative of a certain newspaper so that an article attacking the Leader of the Opposition might be written. These are very serious charges.
– Does the honorable genteman remember when he “ pinched “ a letter that was addressed to me?
– I would tell the House something about the contents of that letter if I had the opportunity to do so. I have done so on other occasions and, if another opportunity arises, I shall do so again. But at the moment we are dealing with the allegation that the Minister has made about papers that are supposed to be missing from an official file. I remind the House that the present Prime Minister vehemently demanded on another occasion that action be taken by the Labour government of the day to clear up allegations of a similar nature. He demanded, first, that I, who had made the charge, be removed from the Cabinet until an investigation had been held and, secondly, that a royal commission be established. The right honorable gentleman, if he is to be consistent, must take similar action now. The Minister for External Affairs should be removed from the Cabinet and a royal commission should be appointed.
Although I was a Minister, I was not a member of what was regarded as the War Cabinet during World War IT. Nevertheless, I know a. great deal about negotiations that took place in relation to the Manus Island base. I listened, with close attention to the speech that the Leader of the Opposition made earlier this evening, when he recounted the course of those negotiations, and I can vouch for the accuracy of every word that the right honorable gentleman uttered. I urge the Prime Minister to institute the course of action that I have indicated.
I repeat that the proposed treaty is a meaningless document. A written pact is not needed to induce the Americans to come to our assistance in the event of our being threatened. That does not mean that I do not think that they would do so. I emphasize that I do not believe that there is any need for a written and signed document to convince the Americans that there is an obligation on both them and the Australian people to act together where their common interests are concerned. In my opinion, the Japanese peace treaty should have been called the Japanese war treaty and it constitutes a betrayal of the Australian people.
-Order ! The honorable member may deal with the military position of Japan, but he is out of order in dealing with the treaty of peace with Japan.
– I have said all that 1 want to say about the. matter. The Opposition does not regard the Pacific pact as of great importance. As it is an innocuous document, we offer no objection to it.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Graham) adjourned.
SUGAR - Security - Motor Cars for
Disabled ex-Servicemen - Health and Medical Services - National Seh vice.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
Tim t the House do now adjourn.
.- Last week I directed the attention of the House to the exceedingly bad distribution of refined white sugar in Victoria. Subsequently, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited distributed to a number of honorable members a circular setting out the company’s version of the matter. After considering various factors associated with the present shortage in Victoria. I am convinced that the Government should institute an inquiry into the distribution of refined sugar in that State. When I addressed the House on this matter last week I pointed out that the distribution of white sugar in Victoria compares unfavorably with the distribution in other States, particularly New South Wales. I consider that certain difficulties that exist in relation to distribution in Victoria could and should be overcome. Year after year, about this time, when housewives require sugar for jam making and to preserve fruit, there is a shortage of supplies. The Colonial Sugar Refin ing Company Limited admits candidly that it is producing more refined sugar to-day that it ever did previously. In its circular, the company points out that the production of sugar has been increased by 34 per cent., although the population of Australia has increased by only 20 per cent. The company claims that there has not recently been a shortage of refined sugar in New South Wales for any appreciable length of time, and that the shortage in Victoria has not been so Pronounced as has been suggested in certain quarters. It also claims that an improvement of the position has I pen effected in Victoria. However the consensus of opinion of the retailers and consumers is that the position has not improved; indeed they contend that it is gradually becoming worse. The circular sets out that more refined sugar was available in 1951 than in 1950 in all States other than Victoria. I am convinced that unless the Government orders an investigation of the distribution of refined white sugar in Victoria, the position will become even worse as the year progresses. The company claims that, because its refinery <U Yarraville is situated in an industrial area, it has difficulty in obtaining experienced staff to work the refinery to full capacity. I do not believe that conditions at Yarraville are any worse than are the conditions at Pyrmont in New South Wales. This is a very weak reason for the shortage for the company to advance. The circular states -
We know that large quantities of renner! sugar are exported at high profit. because of our cheap Australian sugar, in goods which arc little more than “ sugar in disguise “. These exports are in addition to the very large quantities leaving the country in the established and sound export business in jam–, canned fruit and condensed milk, on which depend the livelihoods of so many fruitgrowers and dairy-farmers. It is difficult tn track down this disguised export of sugar
We believe that governmental action is desirable and entirely warranted . . . We have recently requested that such action be taken … If the exports of “sugar in disguise” can be eliminated as well, we think that refined sugar shortages in 1952 will bn minor, even in Victoria.
The suggestion that there is a leakage of refined sugar in exports is a further reason why an investigation should be undertaken. As the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited has invited the Government to investigate the distribution of white sugar in Victoria, I consider that the investigation should be held as soon as possible. To my knowledge the shortage has been evident there at this time of the year during the last three years. In my opinion it is attributable to bad distribution by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. Will the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) assure the House that steps will be taken to ensure that adequate supplies of refined white sugar will be available in Victoria in the future, particularly at this time of the year, when it is needed most by housewives and small manufacturers? Will he also endeavour to prevail upon the Government to order an investigation to be Undertaken along the lines that I have mentioned ?
– Last night I was given to understand that- several honorable members wished to address me on the matter of. sugar. Are there any honorable members in the House who wish to do so?
– The sugar shortage in Victoria is closely allied to the shortage on the north-west coast of Tasmania. The statement issued by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited indicates that the sugar shortage in Tasmania in the past year has been caused solely by shipping irregularities and that the north-west districts have been affected by the shortage. On a previous occasion I brought up the matter of the shortage of sugar in this area, and I was given an assurance that a shipping service from Sydney would be used to transport sugar to Tasmania in times of shortage. I believe that it is not entirely the fault of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited that this has not been done, because the ships that normally would have been leaving Victorian ports for Tasmania were held up at the last moment by strikes by seamen. That occurred in November and December of last year, and one of the firms in Tasmania whose quota of sugar for four weeks was equivalent to 614 bags received its quota for November and December, not in those months but in January, when it received its quota for that month. This is a very serious matter for the housewives in the northwest district of Tasmania, because that is the time when sugar is urgently required for jam making and preserving. Therefore, a shortage at that time affects them seriously during the remainder of the year.
I desire to bring before this House the matter of the quota system. That quota system superseded a rationing system that had operated during the war. years, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited supplied various districts in Victoria under it. The company recently increased the quota by 10 per cent., but there is still not enough sugar for the increased population, and the quota does not take cognizance of the fact that more sugar is required in country areas than in the cities. The residents of cities do not eat all their meals at home; they use restaurants to a certain extent. But in the country districts the people either have their meals at home or take their meals from home. They also do more preserving and jam making than is done in the cities. They grow their own fruits, and certainly need more sugar than do the people in the cities. I am certain that the company could make good the deficiency, because the quantity of sugar required would not be very great. If the company cannot ge.t sufficient coal to operate its refineries at full capacity it is no wonder to me that the country people have had to suffer as they have been suffering during a period of many years past. I understand that the company will, in the near future, make a detailed investigation of the particular cases that I am citing, and I am certain that it can and will adjust the matter.
– In fairness to the sugar industry and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, I consider that I should place before the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Luck) one or two facts about the difficulties encountered in supplying sugar to Victoria. I refer to the remarks of the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr.
Haworth), who said that at this particular time each year there is difficulty in supplying Victoria with sugar. That is so, but the reason is that for almost the whole of January the works of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited at Yarraville in Victoria are completely closed down so that the staff may go on holidays.
– Why do not they put in a shadow staff?
– The works are not able to use a shadow staff because unless they are fully manned they cannot operate. Moreover, it is impossible to secure a full staff because of shortages of man-power, machinery and coal. The works at Yarraville could produce 3,500 tons a week if they could get the manpower and coal required. Production cannot be maintained at its maximum from early February when the works resume, to the end of November when they close down. Consequently there has been no reserve of refined sugar. After the holiday period this year, by agreement with the trade union concerned, overtime was worked, particularly at week-ends, and the output from the refinery during the last three weeks has been 2,900 tons, 3,200 tons and 2,S00 tons respectively. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited appreciates the fact that at this time of the year the Victorian people need sugar, particularly for home jam-making, and during the last four weeks it has been delivering from the factory more than 4,000 tons of sugar each week. That is a very real contribution to the easing of the sugar shortage and is due to the cooperation of the management and the general workers in the mill. For the whole of Victoria the orders on hand total 6,000 tons. To have outstanding orders to the quantity of only 6,000 tons is a fairly satisfactory state of affairs for a. factory producing less than 4.000 tons a week, particularly after a holiday period, and more particularly in view of the fact that the usual orders on hand total 2,300 tons a week. Therefore, al the present output rate it will not be long before, the orders on hand will have been fulfilled.
– Do the breweries close down for holidays?
– I am sure that the honorable member is not particularly interested in that part of our industry. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited has produced 1’7,200 tons of refined sugar and 1,900 tons of raw sugar during the last three months. For the same three-monthly period in the previous year the production was 16,000 tons, so that this year the production has increased by more than 3,000 tons.
– That is because of the 40-hour week.
– No, it is because of the co-operation of the trade union with the management in working overtime. It has been suggested that there has been a shortage of sugar for canning, but I have been pleased to note that Mr. J. IE. Grant, who is general secretary of the Australian Canners Association, has said -
A shortage of sugar is reputed to exist amongst fruit processors. At a meeting of members of this association held last Friday it was found that at the present time there is no shortage of sugar in fruit processors’ hands. We are unaware of any fruit delivery which has not been taken owing to sugar shortage.
I mention that to the House so as to make it perfectly clear to honorable members that the industry is interested in this problem, the production of raw sugar has increased and the production of all sugar has increased during the last ten years to meet the needs of the growing papulation of Australia. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited is fully aware of the problem that exists in Victoria. If there is a distribution problem and it is suggested that some racketeering is going on, the Government of Victoria could institute inquiries into the distribution of raw and refined sugar in that State.
Mr. BERNARD CORSER (Wide Bay) T10.51]. - The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) has made another attack upon the Queensland sugar-growers on the ground that they cannot deliver sugar in sufficient quantities to meet the requirements of the Victorian fruitcanning industry. The honorable gentleman made a similar attack last week, and when I replied to his statements I handled him gently. If he is not satisfied with what the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) has just said, I am sure that he will be completely satisfied after I have completed my remarks. I have been advised by the sugar-growers that the statement of the honorable member for Isaacs that Victorian canners are short of sugar is absolutely misleading and incorrect. As I have already stated, the growers have made available to the housewives and fruit canners of Victoria 13,000 tons of sugar of better quality than mill white and almost equivalent to refined sugar. As the honorable member for Capricornia has stated, Mr. J. H. Grant, the general secretary of the Australian Canners Association, has categorically denied that there is a shortage of sugar for Victorian fruit processors. In a statement that he issued on the subject Mr. Grant said -
It lias been brought to our notice that a shortage of sugar is reputed to exist among fruit processors, and at a meeting of the members of this association of fruit processors, held last Friday, it was found that there is no shortage of sugar in fruit processors’ hands. We are unaware of any fruit deliveries in Victoria or anywhere else which have not been taken owing to the shortage of sugar.
That statement was made by the representative of the fruit processors and not by a gentleman who, for the second time, has made an unworthy attack on the growers. The statement has been published in the press of Victoria, a State which the honorable member for Isaacs is supposed to represent in this House. Tt is regrettable that it should be necessary for honorable members to protect primary producers against attacks of this kind. There is no shortage of sugar in Victoria and deliveries of fruit have not been curtailed by the canners on the ground that they have insufficient sugar to enable them to process it.
– I direct the attention of the Government to the dangerous inadequacy of the laws governing espionage in this country. I do- not wish my remarks to be construed as an attack upon the Government. The matter with which I propose to deal is of such importance that it should not be used as an instrument of party political propaganda by any honorable member. Moreover, I do not know whether the inadequacy of our espionage laws is the fault of this Government or of its predecessors. That statement should make it perfectly clear to honorable members that I am not attempting to make party political capital out of the incidents that I propose to relate. Whoever is at fault for having allowed our laws to deteriorate as they have done, it is the duty of the Government to take immediate action to rectify the position.
I refer to incidents that occurred in Adelaide recently when sailors from Orient Maru, a Japanese vessel that put into the port of Adelaide for the purpose of lifting a cargo of barley, were reported to have acted in a suspicious manner. At 5.45 p.m. on the 5th February last Mr. Harold A. Steer observed eleven Japanese sailors taking photographs in and round Port Adelaide. One officer had to wade knee-deep into the sea, fully clothed, in order to take what appeared to be a photograph of the harbour installations at Outer Harbour. The officer also took photographs of the depot at Fort Largs and of other places. Mr. Steer immediately proceeded to Outer Harbour police station to report what he had seen. He was told by the officer-in-charge that the police at Outer Harbour had no authority to deal with the matter, and that he should report what he had seen to military head-quarters at Fort Largs. He did so, and was told by the officerincharge that he bacl no authority to intercept suspected spies, and that Mr. Steer should report the matter to the officer-in-charge of the naval depot at Birkenhead. When he did so, the officerincharge said to him, “ I am sorry ; we have no authority to intercept persons who act in a suspicious manner. There is no law that allows us to interrogate such people “. Mr. Steer then came to see me. I told him that I would soon clarify the matter, because Australia had a security service. I rang the security service and recounted the story told to me by Mr. Steer. The officer to whom I spoke said, “ I am sorry ; we have no police power and no power to intercept people, even though they may be suspected spies”. I then telephoned the Commonwealth Investigation Service, and asked whether that authority could help in the matter. The officer to whom I spoke said, “1 am sorry; we cannot do anything in this matter because our powers are very limited. We have had other reports concerning the activities of these people, including the fact that they had taken soundings of the Port River and also had made measurements of the power station and portions of the harbour installations “. I asked the security service if it would have the films examined and confiscate them if they were dangerous. I said I thought that the camera should have been impounded and something done to deal with these and aliens from any other .country behaving in a manner that was suspicious and a likely danger to our security. The security service officers said that they had no power to do this and that it might be a matter for the Department of Trade and Customs. Officers of the Department of Trade and Customs said that they were not sure of what powers they had. I understand that the head of that department, Mr. Murphy, undertook to examine the regulations in order to ascertain the extent of his powers. Subsequently, he referred the matter to the Crown Law Office so as to see what powers his department had to take action. In the meantime, I discovered that in addition to the activities that I have mentioned which may or may not have been harmless, other representations had been made to the Commonwealth Investigation Service concerning a party of about twenty Japanese who, under the supervision of three officers, were caught taking measurements of the Osborne power station of Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Proprietary Limited on the Port River. They were actually seen measuring with a 3-ft. ruler the inlet and outlet channels of the power station, which are vital to its operations. Three Australians approached the Japanese and asked them what they were doing. The Japanese did not answer them. One of the men who intercepted the Japanese noticed that there was a sheet of paper on the ground. He examined it carefully and saw an exact diagram of the inlet and outlet channels, a complete outline of the whole foreshore and the exact location of the power station. The paper also had on it Japanese figures which indicated the measurements. As soon as the Japanese officer saw that he was looking at the sheet of paper he picked it up and put it in his pocket. This occurred on Sunday, the 3rd February of this year and the Japanese were from the same ship. The Australian who saw the paper later went to the Commonwealth Investigation Service and reported the matter. He gave his name and address and similar information about the two witnesses who accompanied him. The Commonwealth Investigation Service officer said that the report was very interesting but nothing could be done about it.
Waterside workers who were working on a boat in the Port River also reported that these Japanese were taking photographs of the Birkenhead naval barracks and the north and south shores and the north arm of the Port River. They were taking soundings of the river as well. I believe that this is a very serious matter and that there should be some authority in Adelaide with power to take immediate action to intercept, examine and cross-examine aliens whose behaviour is in any way suspicious. There should have been somebody in authority with power to board the ship and. search it from end to end. Australia cannot afford to repeat the mistakes that were made before the last war when Japanese sailors and visitors were able to take photographs of anything they fancied. A mosaic made from numerous photographs of Sydney Harbour that had been taken by so-called nature study photographers from Japan enabled Japanese submarines to enter Sydney Harbour with relative ease during the war. It should not have been left to the Adelaide Advertiser to go to Orient Maru, to make inquiries. That was the only investigation that was made by anybody in Australia. A reporter of the Advertiser staff went to the captain of Orient Maru and said, “ Please, sir, are you a spy? “ He replied, “ Of course I am not, and here and five photographs to show that they are only nature studies “. One of the photographs depicted a horse and a baker’s cart. Everybody knows that at 5.45 p.m. bakers’ carts are not on the road. Six photographs were taken and witnesses have stated that at no stage was a baker’s cart nearby. That indicates that the photographs that were given to the Advertiser by the captain of Orient Maru were not the photographs that were taken at the time in question. That lends colour to the suspicion that these men may have been Japanese spies. [Extension of time granted]
Since then one of the newspapers in Adelaide has published a report that all national security .regulations governing the taking of photographs have been cancelled and that the only regulations that apply now are those which prohibit the photographing of government-owned installations. In other words, according to that statement, any alien can take photographs and measurements of places like the steel industries at Newcastle and Port Kembla’ or the blast furnaces Whyalla, shipping yards and chemical works, but cannot take a photograph of a tent in a government camp. The establishments which apparently are not covered by the regulations are far more important to an enemy than is a. canvas tent. The time is overdue for action. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in answer to the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Graham) said that the Government knew all there was to know about the matter. How can the Government know all that there is to know when the captain of Orient Maru said two days before he sailed for Japan that .no investigating officer from a government department had been to the vessel or had asked for permission to interview his sailors? The only information that the Government can have is the information that the reporter of the Adelaide Advertiser obtained when he interviewed the captain. I do not know whether these people were spies or not and neither does the Government. I am not saying that they are spies, but the Government cannot say positively that they are not spies. The point at issue is, to whom does anybody report instances of suspicious behaviour on the part of aliens? Does one have to wait until a spy is caught in the act of espionage and even then to whom should one report? Japan has probably lost its maps and data about soundings round the coast of Australia. If the occupation troops in Japan did their job properly they have confiscated all such information that was in the hands of the Japanese. The existing regulations apply equally to Russians, French and Italians and nobody knows whether aliens of foreign powers are taking information away without hindrance by the security service of Australia. I believe that cameras belonging to aliens should be put in bond and that films and photographs should bc confiscated and prohibited from leaving this country. It was the so-called harmless photographs taken by the Japanese prior to World War II. that enabled them to send submarines into Sydney Harbour. The Government cannot give us any assurance that Orient Maru, which is on its way back to Japan, is not carrying all the data, necessary to enable a submarine to enter the Port River, submerge, torpedo the vital Point Osborne power station, and escape to sea unscathed.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) on his new-found zeal for the protection of our country against espionage and the results of espionage. Since he approached the matter in a fine non-party spirit, I shall reciprocate by speaking in exactly the same spirit. I know nothing of the details of the matter to which he has referred, but judging by his own account they appear to be silly and trivial. People do not commit crimes without adequate motives. Even if the Japanese had done the things that the honorable member has alleged they did they would not have found out anything that could not have been ascertained far more readily from other sources, including various publications. However, it may well be that, on a closer examination of the details, one might take a different view. Certainly the principle that the honorable member has enunciated, namely that agents of foreign powers who may be our enemies should be repressed even before they have committed crimes is not silly or trivial. Every member of the Australian Communist party is the agent of a foreign power, and the Australian Communist is far more dangerous than the spy of any other power could possibly be because it is from Russia and not from any other country that danger threatens to-day. I agree entirely that we should take steps to stop espionage, including, of course, espionage by Australian Communists, and the passing of information by Australian Communists back to Soviet Russia, which is our potential enemy and to which they owe allegiance. As I have said, that is not a trivial principle, and I agree entirely with the expressions of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. My only regret is that when steps were taken by this Government to try to do something to curb the spying and other treachery of members of the Australian Communist party, each one of whom is a much viler traitor than any Japanese could possibly be, the honorable member for Hindmarsh joined with those whose aim was to obstruct the Government. But let me not end there. Let me say further that I believe the Government should be doing more about this matter. The Government should be taking steps to root out the Australian Communists from the positions in which they can conduct espionage, and even though, partly owing to the efforts of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, the constitutional difficulties that might impede the efforts of the Government have been rather accentuated, there are still some things that the Government could and should do. I believe, as I hope the honorable member for Hindmarsh does, that the Government should take immediate steps to eradicate those traitors, the members of the Australian Communist party, from positions in the Commonwealth Public Service in which they can conduct espionage that is 100 times more dangerous than any espionage that possibly is being conducted by the Japanese. I hope that when the Government brings forward legislation to do this, the honorable member for Hindmarsh, in the same fine nonparty spirit that he has exhibited to-night, will repent his past errors and assist the Government to secure the passage of that legislation, and will apply to members of the Australian Communist party the principle that he has sought to apply in this other trivial matter. The principle is not trivial, and action is required to prevent crimes which might bring inestimable danger to the whole public fabric of this Commonwealth.
.- I rise on a question that concerns certain double amputees in Western Australia, and I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) will convey my representations to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper). Some weeks before my attention was directed to this matter, the Melville branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia had taken up the case of one of its members who, as the result of war injuries, had had one leg amputated at the thigh and the other below the knee. The regulations which determine whether a double amputee shall be entitled to have his motor car controls so adjusted as to enable all the driving operations to be carried out at the wheel, are drafted in such a way that both amputations must be above the knee. I do not know why the regulations were drafted i.n that present form nor do I know who was responsible for drafting them, but [ am perfectly certain that no Minister who approved of the regulations intended them to be given the completely narrow interpretation that is being given to them now by the Deputy Commissioner for Repatriation in Western Australia. I am certain that had the Deputy Commissioner used his initiative in this and other similar cases, he would not have been rebuked by any Minister, but on the trivial technicality that this man’s leg had been amputated two inches below the knee, he refused to sanction the adjustment to the amputee’s motor ear which would have enabled him to drive it. Apparently the Melville branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia had long correspondence with the Deputy Commissioner for Repatriation on the matter, but he was sufficiently bureaucratic in his attitude to refuse to move an inch. Subsequently representatives of the branch approached me, and I took the case up with the Deputy Commissioner. I was informed of the terms of the regulations and that was that. I wrote to the Minister for Repatriation three months ago but I have received no satisfaction. The interpretation placed upon the regulations by the Deputy Commissioner is completely senseless and inhuman. Had he given his approval in this instance, I am certain that there would have been no rebuke from the Minister. Because he lias chosen to assert that the regulations are completely binding - I am sure that he is misinterpreting their spirit - a deserving ex-serviceman is being denied a facility to which he is entitled. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to ensure that the regulation shall be altered if the Deputy Commissioner continues to be adamant on the matter, because if the Deputy Commissioners for Repatriation are going to regard themselves as bound by terms so narrow, the only thing to do is to alter the regulations.
.- I know that the subject of sugar, instead of being sweet, is now perhaps rather sour, but it is necessary for me to say some more on it, partly because of the remarks of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), who mentioned mill white sugar. The fact that I have to join issue with him gives some indication of how we all may get at cross purposes over this particular subject which appears to be rather involved. Before Christmas I learned of mill white sugar from a communication, that contained the following paragraph :-
This quality of sugar, known as “mill white “ sugar, is very good and is being made in Queensland mills for storage at Mellum rue so that Victorians can use this high grade “raws” when refined sugar is unavailable in that State. Shortages often occur in Victoria, and at present the people have been forced to use poor quality raw sugar.
As a result of that statement and of a telegram that I had received, as well as a particularly good sample of mill white sugar that had been sent to me, I acted with a zeal that I considered commendable and, through the newspapers and over the radio, told Victorians that this superior grade of raw sugar would be available for purchase in Victoria in due course. “We now are suffering from a seasonal shortage of sugar in Victoria, and I made inquiries concerning the promised supply of this special grade raw sugar to which the honorable member for Wide Bay has referred, and was informed by telegram that 13,000 tons of it was in Melbourne available for distribution. The suggestion made was that I contact the manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited in Melbourne in connexion with the matter. The company informed me that the sugar was to be distributed to the grocery trade as from the 18th February. The samples of the special grade raw sugar that did reach Melbourne gladdened the hearts of the housewives who inspected them, but I discovered that all supplies were very short, when one woman told me she could obtain only 1 lb. of white sugar and asked me where the big supplies of mill white sugar that I had spoken about were to be found. If there is some misconception about the kind of sugar that constitutes special grade raw sugar, then in fairness to the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) and the honorable member for Wide Bay, it should be brought into the light of day, because the sugar that Melbourne housewives are able to buy is of a far darker variety than is the special grade raw sugar. I consider that figures given by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) do not mean a great deal, the main thing is the delivery of the sugar into the hands of the customers, and I should be very glad indeed, having seen the quality of the mill white sugar, if in the event of white sugar not being available in the necessary quantities, the original idea of supplying this excellentsubstitute were continued with so as to remove the difficulties of the distributors in Victoria, in which State there is at present a definite shortage of white sugar. So I ask the honorable member for Wide Bay, if supplies of white sugar cannot be obtained, to try to ensure that Victoria shall obtain mill white sugar of the quality of the sample that was forwarded to me.
– It is extraordinary that there is now only one member of the Australian Country party present in the chamber, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser), who was absent for almost the last half hour, and that there are no Australian Country party Ministers present to listen to the debate on this primary product, sugar. At least I can claim to know something about sugar because I was responsible for providing sugar-growers in Queensland with 1,000 immigrant workers in 1948 and with another 600 or 1,000 in 1949, which enabled those growers to harvest their heavy crops. I also provided the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited with immigrant labour for its mill at Yarraville in order to enable it to increase production in 1948 and 1949. I hope that the private aud violent disagreement between Government supporters on the subject of sugar which we have witnessed in this House this evening will be continued in their party rooms. As far as members of the Opposition are concened we shall use our best endeavours with a view to persuading the Colonial Sugar Refining .Company Limited to extend its milling facilities in Victoria and, better still, to establish a mill in Tasmania so that that State will not be dependent on Victoria for its sugar supplies.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) made a strong prima facie case on the subject of espionage in this country. It does not matter to us by whom espionage is committed, be it by Japanese, Russians, Chinese, Communists or Fascists. It ought not to be possible for any such action to take place in a country like this. The honorable member has made out a case that ought to be investigated, and if it be found that nobody had any power to do anything about the matter until nine days or so after it was first reported, then it is up to the Government to clothe somebody with some powers under the Crimes Act or some other legislation to prevent such things happening in future. “We do not know whether the Japanese concerned in this matter are Communists or Fascists, and it is idle for the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) to say that the whole matter is trivial. According to the honorable member, if it had been Russians who were concerned in the incident, a. different view of it would have been a different matter. But it was allegedly committed by Japanese who, in his opinion, are our new allies and so it does not matter. But it does matter, irrespective of whom the crime has allegedly been committed, and I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), who has listened to the discussion will call for a report on the incident and will lay on the table of the House so that we may know whether the charges are true ‘or false. I hope that if they prove to be true, he will inform us of what action is to be taken, and of what precautions will be observed in the future in similar circumstances.
I desire now to direct the attention of the House to a case that has been referred to me by an elector, who states that her mother, who died recently, received medicine under the free medicine scheme, which she had to take in an unpalatable liquid form because, under that scheme, it is not issued free in tablet form. In order to obtain it in tablet form the unfortunate woman would have had to purchase it from a drug house, because the Government does not buy such medicine from drug houses. So, in order to obtain the medicine free, this woman, who has gone to heaven and does not need any further supplies of it, had to take it in an unpalatable liquid form. It seems to be a travesty of the title “ free medicine “ when some indigent, old person who has no friends and can do nothing about the matter, has to take a medicine in a nasty, liquid form, whereas people with greater financial means can purchase it in a more palatable form. It is wrong that sick people should have to add to the disabilities and pains of their illnesses the unpalatability of medicine.
I now raise another matter which is of importance to many people in this country, and which affects the Department of the Army. I understand that protests have been made to the Prime Minister, and presumably sent to the Minister for the Army, against the alleged practice of officers in national service training camps in issuing contraceptives to boys of eighteen years of age immediately they begin their training.
– Who told the honorable member that?
– His Grace Archbishop Mannix told me. He made a very strong protest to the Prime Minister on the subject, and he is not the only churchman who has protested. If it be true that contraceptives are being issued to boys of eighteen who have been called up for military service, it is better to get rid of the national service training scheme altogether. Surely, the scheme was not instituted to bring about the moral degradation of the trainees. I have stated the name of my informant, and I have been told that other churchmen and the chaplains-general of all the churches have also lodged protests. I hope that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) will at least reply to their representations. Archbishop Mannix made his protest five or six weeks ago, and I understand that up to last Sunday no reply had been received.
.- I shall reply first to the matter just raised by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). Correspondence has been exchanged between the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and His Eminence, Cardinal Gilroy, on this subject.
– When did the Department write about the matter?
– I wrote the letter weeks ago. If the honorable member wishes, I shall let him see a copy of the letter to-morrow. I am assured that the reply I sent the department has met with the approval of His Eminence.
– I was told by His Grace, Archbishop Mannix, that no reply had been received up to Sunday last.
– I do not know of any correspondence that Archbishop Mannix may have addressed to the Prime Minister, but I am sure that the reply sent to Cardinal Gilroy satisfied him.
It is certainly not the wish of those engaged in the sugar industry that no mill white sugar should be available in Victoria. No other primary industry in Australia has served the people better than has the sugar industry. It has always supplied at a reasonable price the sugar that the community needs. No other industry has made its product available at every capital city in Australia at a uniform price. The sugar industry meets the cost of production, and also of transport. The problem in Victoria is a local one, and arises out of the shortage of labour and electric power. The Minister for Labour and National Service is doing all he can to provide more labour, and if the Government of Victoria would assure a sufficiency of power there would be no shortage of refined sugar. This is not a Commonwealth responsibility. The sugar industry in Queensland ensures that supplies of raw sugar are distributed in sufficient quantities at a reasonable price, and those who control the industry are very disappointed that the Victorian Government has fallen down on its job. I appeal to that Government to do what is necessary to ensure the production of more refined sugar for Victoria.
The matters raised by other honorable members will be brought to the notice of the Ministers concerned.
– What the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) said about the shortage of white sugar in Victoria certainly applies to Melbourne. Generously, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser) distributed a few pounds of white sugar among many Victorians, but the fact remains that mill white sugar cannot be bought in the shops. There is plenty of dark, unrefined sugar available, but the sweetening qualities of such sugar are not nearly so high as those of white sugar. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) blamed the Victorian Government for not ensuring that enough electric power is available to refine the sugar, but the people of Victoria believe that stocks of mill white sugar are being held in expectation of a price rise. An inquiry should be held to determine why mill white sugar is unobtainable.
– I gave the reason. There is not enough electric power.
– It could be distributed to consumers in that condition without further refining. The Minister took advantage of the opportunity presented by this debate to make allegations against the Government of Victoria. We have been informed that the refinery at
Yarraville has taken delivery of 13,000 tons of white sugar, and is holding it for an expected price rise of 2d. per lb. There should be an inquiry into that allegation. The honorable member for Corio and the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth) were right in bringing this matter forward.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for PostaI purposes - Springvale, New South Wales.
Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of Defence - K. E. P. Hillar.
House adjourned at 11.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Deep Water Port at Derby.
s. - On the 21st February the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) asked -
Can the Prime Minister inform me- whether the recommendations of the joint CommonwealthState committee in relation to the construction of a deepwater port at Black Bock, Derby, Western Australia, which wis recently endorsed by the Western Australian Government conditionally on the Commonwealth sharing in the estimated expenditure of more than fi, 000,000, have been considered, and, if so, with what results?
Cabinet recently examined the proposal that iiia Commonwealth Government should share the cost of this project. It was considered, however, that development proposals of this nature should be financed through the existing Loan Council and Grants Commission machinery and Cabinet decided, therefore, that the Commonwealth should not make a direct financial contribution to the schemes.
s. - On the 27th February, the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) asked me about a committee that was set up by the Public Service Board about two years ago to investigate the conditions in Postal Department training schools regarding the status, salary, hours and general conditions of the instructional staff of the school. The committee functioned under the chairmanship of Mr. Eltham and there are about 90 officers concerned with investigations. Pending the committee’s report the union that represents the officers postponed making claims to the Public Service Arbitrator. He desired to know whether the Public Service Board or the Government had considered the report and if there was likely to be an early decision on its findings. The report is to be considered by the board within the next day or two. Action will then he taken by the board on the findings of the committee.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 February 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520228_reps_20_216/>.