20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and road prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister’ for Labour and National Service a question on the Glen Davis shale oil project. As the Minister knows, the project was started by a government of which, he was a member and was continued by succeeding Labour governments. The present circumstances of the’ undertaking are so well known that I need not describe them. I understand that notices of dismissal of employees at the project are to operate from the end of this -week, and I have also been given. to understand that a definite proposal for the continuation of operations under a co-operative scheme, which might be made’ effective, has been submitted to the Government. “Will the Minister investigate this matter, notify the House of the information that he obtains and state whether, in the light of hia inquiries, he will consider as a matter of extreme urgency the staying of the notices of dismissal until the practicability or otherwise of the proposal has been determined?
– The Glen Davis project come3 directly under the administration of die Minister for National Development, but, as I am a member of a Cabinet sub-committee that has dealt with it, I. have some knowledge of the matters to which the right honorable gentleman has referred. I understand that notices of dismissal have been issued as he has indicated. He has mentioned the early history of the project.
As a member of a government that considered this problem from time to ‘ time, he is no doubt aware of efforts that have been made to provide for the efficient working of the Glen Davis undertaking so as to enable it to be carried ‘on profitably. This Government reluctantly came to the conclusion that the works must be closed down after it had explored all possibilities that seemed to be open. It consulted certain Commonwealth departments, invited public tenders, and communicated with various interests in its efforts to discover some suitable alternative course of action. Even now it has not closed the door to proposals such as the right -honorable gentleman has mentioned. -For example, it indicated that, if the townspeople, in conjunction with employees at the shale ‘oil project and with the support of other suitable persons, wished to conduct operations on a cooperative basis, any such proposal from them would be examined sympathetically.
T believe that one of two interested parties are still seeking an opportunity to put ti scheme before the Government, but I point out that they, have had almost fifteen months now in which to do so and that, if operations are to be continued, the Government would require some guarantee that the continuing losses would be borne by those who wished further consideration to be given to the matter. The losses amount ‘ to about £6,000 a week. The permanent head of the Department of Labour and National Service attended a conference in Sydney on Friday at which some organizational details were discussed. I shall confer with him and ascertain the outcome of that conference and afterwards will give the House any useful information that I may obtain from him.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether certain negotiations for an economic agreement between Australia and the United States of America took place over a period of years from about 1947 onwards. Was a draft summary of the results, of those agreements to date made early in 1950, shortly after this Government took office? Was that. draft considered to be a highly confidential . document, which was available only to top-ranking officials of the Department of External Affairs and certain other departments ? Was there a leakage of that document to the Communist party?’ Did the Communist party allege . that that draft had been betrayed to it by a highly placed government official? Did the version of the draft that was published in the Communist newspaper Tribune of the 14th November, 1951, contain details which proved that the Communist party had had access to the confidential draft? Is the Minister aware of the identity of the official who betrayed the draft to the Communist party? What notion did the Government take, and what further action does it propose to take in relation to this incident?
– The statements that the honorable member has made are all substantially ‘true. There has been sporadic negotiation ‘during the last five years by the United States of America and Australia for the conclusion of a treaty of commerce, friendship and shipping. There were a number of drafts of the treaty. The latest draft was made, as the honorable member has stated, about the end of 1950. A very grievous leak did take place in the Communist newspaper Tribune in December last. I was in the United States of America at the time. My department put in hand a full inquiry by our security service into this matter. The leak was through some individual who had access to’ the latest draft of the treaty. That became clear from a perusal of the article that was published in the Tribune, because there is a different numbering of the various articles in the latest draft. The leakage itself was not. in fact, an important one because this treaty is on the standard line of treaties that the United States of America has negotiated and concluded with a number of other countries. The aspect of the matter that gives cause for concern is that clearly the leak came from a reasonably senior officer in one of the several departments that had access to the draft and were concerned in one way or another with the negotiation of the treaty with the American authorities. I am convinced that the leak did not come from my own department, or perhaps I should say from any officer of the Department of External Affairs who is now in the department. Indeed, the comment by the Tribune was such that it is most unlikely that it would have come from an officer of the Department of External Affairs. The investigation into this serious matter is still proceeding. It is having some success. I do not want to make any more detailed reference to it in the House at this stage for to do so might prejudice the investigations that are still being pursued.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. Speaker, as, I think, the appropriate authority. If you are not the appropriate authority, I shall be grateful if you will raise the matter with the appropriate Minister. Are you aware that telephone lines from this House to places outside are being tapped ? Is that being done with your authority? If not, will you investigate the matter and discuss with the Postmaster-General or whoever is the appropriate authority the steps that should be taken to ensure that this practice shall be discontinued, because of the danger that it presents to the secrecy of government administration and, possibly, to the security of this nation? Will you consider the employment of monitors in the telephone exchange in this building? I have been advised that that is the only way in which the discontinuance of this practice can be ensured.
– As far as I know, complete control of the telephone system that connects this House with the outside world is in the hands of the PostmasterGeneral. I have no knowledge whatever of any tapping of telephone lines. Certainly, such tapping has not been ordered by me. Until the honorable gentleman directed his question to me,. I had no suspicion that such a thing was taking place.
– Why did not the honorable member direct his question to me ?
– I do not know.
– I directed my question to Mr. Speaker or to the appropriate authority.
– I think the honorable member for Herbert should take action. If this tapping of telephone lines is taking place, I say without hesitation that it is a very serious breach of the privileges of every member of the House. The House is in a position to protect itself. In this instance, I am. afraid that I am not in a position to do so.
– by leave- The honorable member for Herbert, by the manner in which he asked his question, implied that he knew that telephone lines from this House were being tapped.
– I have been informed that that is so.
– If the honorable gentleman has such knowledge, I have not. I have no knowledge at all of any such procedure. If the honorable member has information that will enable me to prevent such a practice, I shall be glad to receive it.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister say whether there is any truth in the report that, at the request of senior Cabinet Ministers, he has sent a cable to the Prime Minister in London and asked for permission to remove the honorable member for Barker from the Chair? If the report be accurate, will he say who were the responsible Ministers concerned and inform the House of the nature of the reply to the cable? If the report is not accurate, will he cause investigations to be made to ascertain how it came into existence?
– There is no truth whatever in the report. I know nothing about the matter to which the honorable member has referred.
– Some time ago, the Prime Minister informed the House that ‘ a Royal Australian Air Force fighter wing was to be sent to the Middle East. Can the Minister for Air now inform me of the date of departure of the wing, the units of which it will consist, and itslocation in the Middle East? Can he say whether the New Zealand fighter squadron that is going to the Middle East will he associated with the Royal Australian Air Force wing?
– Two Royal Australian Air Force fighter squadrons, with all ancillary and auxiliary units, will go to the Middle East as the 78th Fighter “Wing. We are not quite certain when they will leave this country. The Prime Minister, while he is in the United Kingdom, will conduct negotiations to determine the actual date of departure, but I imagine that they will leave in the course of the next month or two. The final location of the wing in the Middle East has not yet been decided. In the initial stages of its training, it will be stationed either in Malta or in Cyprus - probably Malta. I understand that the New Zealand fighter squadron that is to go to the Middle East will be placed under the command of the Middle East Air Force. I am not quite certain where that squadron will be located, but we entertain the fondest hope that its training will be integrated with that of the Royal Australian Air Force wing.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware of the very grave concern that exists among importers and exporters at the unwarranted delay in the handling of cargoes at all Australian ports? What positive action does the Government intend to take to deal with those trade unionists who continue to defy the law?
– The House will be aware that certain legal proceedings have been in train before the High Court of Australia and that the judgment on the matters to which those proceedings relate was delivered yesterday morning. We had previously given notice, through the Attorney-General, of our intention to take action, by way of contempt proceedings in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, if the High Court discharged the application for the order which hm been sought by representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation. Now that the High Court has discharged that order, our proceedings have commenced. I understand that they were initiated this morning, but that no hearing was proceeded with at that stage, other than taking of appearances by counsel. .1 have been informed that the hearing will be resumed this afternoon. I ma; add that the Government has also considered the enactment of legislation relating to this matter. It is hoped that the appropriate measure will be introduced during the present sessional period.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs able to give the House any information about the present, position in Dutch New Guinea? Is there any official support for the proposal that is being made in certain quarters that Dutch New Guinea should be placed under the jurisdiction of a fourpower trusteeship, consisting of Holland. Australia, Indonesia and the United States of America? In the event of the Dutch deciding to abandon their interests in New Guinea, as has been suggested in certain quarters, what action does this Government propose to take to protect Australia’s interests in that area?
– There is nothing further to report to the House of the situation in respect of West New Guinea since I made my last report. There is no truth in the suggestion that has been made in some quarters that West New Guinea should bc placed under a four-power trusteeship. The last part of the honorable member’s question is purely hypothetical and relates to a matter of policy which I am not prepared to state offhand in the House.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware of the grave accusations that have been made against the High Commissioner ‘ for Pakistan in Australia? Has he any information to give to the House on the subject?
– With respect, I submit that questions that carry a reflection upon a diplomatic representative of another country are not in order. Perhaps I might go so far as to ask your ruling on this matter, Mr. Speaker.
– I think it is just »s well that this matter should be settled fairly early, because attempts have been made in the not-far-distant past to place certain questions on the notice-paper regarding’ foreign Ministers in this country. I think that it would be very wrong on the part of the House if we were to permit to be established a practice which allowed the actions of representatives of foreign governments in this country to become the subject of either question or debate. I propose at all times to refuse to allow to be placed on the notice-paper any question that deals with the activities or antecedents of, or any other matter that relates to, representatives of foreign governments in Australia. I remind the House that in the near future representatives of countries with which we were at Avar in the not-distant past will be appointed to Australia. Furthermore, it is the rule of the House of Commons - the reference is May, at page 438, under the chapter relating to maintenance of order during debate - that during debate no reflections shall be cast on any representative of another government accredited to the
Court of St. James. Whether in debate or in questions, with or without notice, I propose at all times to rule in this House that no reference may be made to the activities or the history or character of the representative of any foreign government in this country. If any honorable member believes that such a representative in Australia has done anything which he should not have done, then my advice to him is that the first step is to approach the Minister for External Affairs to place the case before him. Then, as a result of those discussions, the appropriate authorities can decide whether anything else can be done. There are instances in May - and they can be found elsewhere - of the attitude that has been adopted by the British. Parliament in those cases. We can go back as far as Roman history where I believe the law - and pardon me for mentioning the law - was that the person of a foreign ambassador was always sacred.
– I rise to a point of order. May I ask you a question, Mr. Speaker, on the ruling that you have just given? It has been a fairly well established and most wholesome custom in this House periodically to draw attention to the activities of the Soviet Legation. Does your ruling mean that in future honorable members will be unable to refer to such activities?
– My ruling means that honorable members may not refer to the activities of the accredited representative of Russia or of any other country in this House. If there is cause to have any debate on such a matter, the first step, as I have. said, should be to consult whoever may be the Minister for External Affairs for the time being. Discussions on the policy of any foreign country can be held in this chamber. In any country where external affairs are one of the responsibilities of the Parliament, it stands to reason that such discussions must be held. I am referring in my ruling only to the activities and the persons of the representatives of other countries in Australia, and not to the policies of the governments that they represent.
– Speaking to the point of order, I think that it is desirable that the House should have a clear understanding of the position. I think you will not challenge the view, Mr. Speaker, that the House should guard carefully its rights in matters such as this. May L take it that it would be open for any honorable member, whether he had so consulted the Minister for External Affairs or not, to move for the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable such a discussion to take place? Would it not then be in the hands of the House to decide whether a debate should be held?
– I should say that in those circumstances, such a motion would be highly improper. Although it is within the competence -of the House to suspend the .Standing Orders for any purr pose that the House may consider fit, nevertheless, I believe that the step that
C have indicated should first be taken.
– Would I be correct in assuming that your rulingwould not preclude the moving of a substantive motion in regard to any of the matters to which .honorable members have referred?
– According to May, an honorable member may not put forward any substantive motion dealing with the activities of the representative of ,a foreign power at the Court of St. James.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation state whether Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited has replied to the letter of the Prime Minister dated the 28th March, which set out the Government’s proposal for the rationalization , of the major airline services winch are- operated by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines? If so, will the Minister give the House particulars of the reply that was furnished by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited as was done with the Prime Minister’s letter in the published reports of speeches and broadcasts of the Prime Minister which were sent to all honorable members in April? Is it the intention of the Government to introduce legislation for the purpose of ratifying any arrangements that have been made for the rationalization of the major airline services for the benefit of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited ?
– The implication contained in the last of the honorable member’s questions that any rationalization will be for the benefit of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited only is incorrect. In any arrangement that is made, rationalization will be effected for the benefit of both Tran3- Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. In reply to the first of the honorable member’s questions on whether Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited has replied to the Prime Minister’s letter of March last, I have intimated publicly that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited has accepted the .principle set out in that letter. I have had personal discussions with representatives of -both Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines with a view to implementing those proposals. A bill will be introduced to ratify any agreement that may be made in respect of those organizations: but the whole matter will be discussed with them with a view to obtaining substantial agreement on all points before the relevant measure is introduced.
– Will the Minister for Externa] Affairs give to the House any information that he has available concerning the treaty that has just been signed by the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France, with the Government of Western Germany? Can he, in particular, inform the House how these treaties will affect Australia’s relations with Western Germany?
– During the last few days an important set of agreements defining Western Germany’s relationship with the Western Powers has been concluded. Those agreements are, first, the so-called contractual agreements which were signed yesterday at Bonn between Western Germany and the western occupying powers, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France, and which restore to the
West German Federal Republic almost complete independence; and, secondly, the treaty between France, Italy, Belgium, the, Netherlands, Luxemburg and Western Germany establishing a European defence community, or European army as it is sometimes called. The. latter treaty, which is to be signed at Paris to-day, makes it possible for the West German Federal Republic to share in the defence of Western Europe without, however, allowing the revival of a German national army. The Western Allies have found it necessary to go ahead with these agreements because of the Communist military threat to. Western Europe and the persistent Soviet refusal during the last few years to permit unification of Germany on a basis of genuine independence. Because of the Soviet attitude, it has been impossible so far to conclude a peace treaty with a united Germany. The present agreements do not constitute a peace treaty, but, until such time as the Soviet Union changes its present policy, the agreements will give to Western Germany most of the advantages of a peace treaty. Australia is not a party to these agreements, but we have naturally kept ourselves informed of the progress of discussions. Honorable members will recall that, together with most of the other western members of the war-time alliance, Australia terminated the legal state of war with Germany on the 9th July of last year. That act, the main purpose of which was to restore normal relations with the West German Federal Republic, does not, of course, obviate the need for an eventual peace treaty. I hope that I shall be able next week to make more detailed references to this subject in the course of a general statement that I intend to make on foreign affairs.
– In the absence of the Minister for Health, can the Acting Prime Minister inform me whether supplies of vital drugs to Australia have been affected by the recent imposition of import restrictions?
– I shall see that the question asked by the honorable gentleman is brought to the notice of the Minister for Health.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation able to indicate whether supplies of aviation petrol are now on the way to Australia?’ Is it a fact that our- supplies of aviation fuel, other than those held in reserve for defence purposes, will be extremely low unless they are augmented within a month? Can the Minister inform me whether restrictions on the use of such fuel are likely to be lifted after the 28-day period of restrictions has expired?
– The restrictions that have been imposed on the use of high-octane aviation fuel have nothing whatever to do with existing- supplies of fuel in Australia. They are connected with the supplies of aviation fuel in the free world, ‘notably in the United States of America. In that country, because of a strike in oil refineries, aviation fuel stocks have become very low. Every country of the free world has been requested by the Government of the United States of America to apply restrictions similar to those which it has imposed. Whether that strike ends to-day or next week, restrictions will have to be maintained in Australia, Great Britain, and elsewhere for a period of not less than 28 days after the strike ends, in order to enable the United States of America, to rebuild its reserves.
– Is the Minister for Immigration able- to inform me whether immigrants engaged in rural industries are so engaged under firm agreements to remain with their employers or in those industries for a specified period of time? Can he also inform mc of the period involved and the obligations of the employers in such industries?
– The arrangement that we have come to is that persons so placed in employment are to remain there for a period of two years. The obligation on the employer is to pay the appropriate wages and to provide the conditions applicable to the occupation under the requisite award or, in some instances in relation to rural work, where no award applies, to pay the ruling rate of wages in the district for the class of work undertaken. Those arrangements do not exclude the possibility that the farmer employer may come to some arrangement with his employee in relation to part of the work being carried out on a share-farming basis, provided that the overall return to the employee is a reasonable one. If such an arrangement is not used as a device to reduce the amount that the employee might otherwise be expected to earn, I m’p great scope for it. Many farmers, who cannot employ farm labour on a regular basis throughout the year, may thus be able to have immigrants do a certain amount of share-farming so that they may be available for work at peak seasonal periods, or at such other times as the farmers may require their services. We have agreed to schemes of that kind being worked out in relation fo those employees.
– In view of the fact that immigrant hostels have been established in outlying and undeveloped parts of metropolitan municipalities, will the Minister for Immigration consider making a subsidy to such municipalities in order that they may provide easy road access to the hostel? In a number of instances buses must carry children hot ween hostels and schools, but satisfactory roads have not been built. Does the Minister intend to make a grant of money l.d municipalities for the purpose of improving access to hostels?
– The honorable member is probably aware that under the formula that has been worked out between the Australian Government and State governments, funds are provided in respect of additions to the population of States. Consequently, funds are available for the carrying out of State services, and each immigrant naturally adds to the amount which the States gather from Commonwealth revenue. The general matter of whether Commonwealth properties should be assessable for local rates, which might mean that the amount so collected would contribute to the funds available to the municipalities for the purposes such as were mentioned by the honorable member, is one of policy which at present is under the consideration of the Government.
– Will the Minister for Labour and National Service, who has very recently made statements about increasing unemployment in this country, confer with the Minister for Immigration with the object of temporarily suspending such immigration as will add to unemployment in this country?
– I am glad to be able to assure the honorable member that there is complete co-operation and understanding between the two Ministers mentioned but in order that matters of such importance to the well-being of Australia should no rest wholly on such decisions as might be made in that way, the Government informs itself by consultation with such representative bodies as the Immigration Advisory Council and the Immigration Planning Council. The recommendations of those bodies arc in turn considered by the Government itself, and consequently such policies as are put in train by the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Immigration have the full support and endorsement of the Cabinet as a whole.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that one of the executives of David Jones Limited at Kurri Kurri, has absolutely denied the Minister’s statement that the company ever conferred with the Minister, or co-operated with him, in relation to the cessation of the firm’s activities at the drill hall at that centre? In view of that denial, will consideration now be given to the use of the Abermain drill hall, which is only two miles away, instead of the Kurri Kurri drill- hall for the training of troops ?
– I do not want to enter into a discussion with the honorable member for Hunter about a high official of David Jones Limited having said one thing and I another. My only concern is that we applied for the drill hall to be made available, and that has been done.
– The tenants were given notice to quit.
– They agreed to do. so. It was very important that they should have agreed to vacate the premises. Last Thursday, I undertook to give consideration to the other point that . the honorable member has raised.
– Can the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization say whether the Government is paying any attention to my consistent requests for an investigation into the value of agricultural lime for soil improvement? If so, what has been done? Will the work of lime suppliers in the rich and beautiful Berrima and Illawarra districts, and the results achieved by farmers there, be taken into consideration?
– I know from my experience as the former Minister for National Development that the honorable member for Macarthur is intensely interested in the improvement of soil by the application of agricultural lime. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has done much work on this subject, particularly in relation to the acid soils of the southern tablelands of New South Wales, and confirms the theory that the sowing of subterranean clover in conjunction with the application of agricultural lime is particularly beneficial, and obviates the necessity for heavy applications of lime to acid soil. Speaking from memory, I think that 2 cwt. of lime sown with subterranean clover seed, is equal to an application of 1$ tons of lime in the ordinary way. Experiments in this direction will of course continue and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will, from time to time, make available to interested persons, reports on its researches. I cannot give an undertaking that the organization will make a survey of lime deposits and methods of transport because those matters are hardly within its province. Other governmental instrumentalities are more suited, because of their work and scope, to undertake such an investigation. However, I shall certainly ensure that the honorable member will be supplied from time to time with the results of the organization’s research.
– I ask the Treasurer how he can consider Commonwealth bonds to be a gilt-edged security when £100 bonds are selling to-day at £87 ? Does the right honorable gentleman not agree that borne protection should be given to small investors, who believed the loan publicity statements that Commonwealth bonds were gilt-edged securities, but are now forced, because of reasons beyond their control, to sell bonds, and are not only losing £13 in every £100, but are being repaid in inflated currency which involves them in a further loss of up to 10 per cent.? As it is the small investor who helps to make loans successful, will the right honorable gentleman consider the advisability of pegging the value of a Commonwealth £100 bond at that figure, as was done during the war?
– I have said repeatedly that matters in relation to Commonwealth bonds are entirely under the jurisdiction of the Loan Council.
– My question is addressed to the Acting Prime Minister, and I point out, by way of explanation, that work has to be stopped on the South Para reservoir project in South Australia because of the small amount of money that has been allocated by the Loan Council to the Government of that State. The completion of that work must be a matter of urgency, unless water restrictions are to be imposed on the metropolitan area of Adelaide all the year round. Will the right honorable gentleman immediately summon a meeting of the Loan Council with a view to investigating the possibility of providing a greater allocation of loan money for South Australia, to enable the State Government to continue the construction of that most urgent project?
– The work to which the honorable member for Kingston has referred is entirely within the province of the Government of South Australia.
– Can the Minister for the Army avoid, in future, the ironical and insulting circumstances in which troops en route to Korea have to travel cheek by jowl with persons who are unashamedly accepting the hospitality of the enemy, against whom those troops will shortly be in action? Has be received any comment from the Army authorities, or from the troops themselves, about their fellow passengers?
– We acquire and pay for seats on aircraft operated by Qantas Empire Airways Limited for Australian troops who travel to Korea as reinforcements to the 3rd Royal Australian Battalion and the 1st Royal Australian Battalion, who are to-day engaged in fighting Communist forces. We have no control over the co-passengers of Australian troops on those aircraft. I deeply regret that our servicemen have to travel with such persons at to those to whom the honorable member for Forrest has referred.
– In view of disquieting and conflicting but fragmentary reports that have come from Korea, and in view of the fact that the immediate past Supreme Commander in Korea, General Ridgway, is to face a quiz session before an important United States Congressional Committee in connexion with the military story in Korea, will the Minister for External Affairs state when it oan be expected that the Australian Government will be consulted and informed about the weektoweek events in this Eastern theatre of war in which so many Australians are fighting? Is it a fact that the Australian Government is ignored in the councils of the United Nations?
Mr-. CASEY. - I have reported to the House, on numerous occasions that the Australian Government is consulted daily-
– - Informed, but not consulted.
– The Government is consulted and given opportunities for putting its views forward, of which I take advantage, constantly, on the Government’s behalf. I fail to understand why the honorable, gentleman should ask for information which ho should have already. I have informed honorable members of the position on countless occasions. I hope to report to the House next week on the general subject of foreign affairs and shall devote an appreciable part of my statement to the subject of Korea. In the course of that statement I hope to be able finally to lighten the honorable member’s darkness.
– I understand that the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, when he was in Tasmania last week, referred to the fact that the Tasmanian Government had prohibited the use of myxomatosis in that State. In view of the fact that it is estimated that each rabbit costs the Australian community approximately 5s. a year, will the right honorable gentleman take further appropriate steps to convince the Tasmanian Government of the desirability, in the interests of primary producers in particular, of using myxomatosis to exterminate rabbits ?
– It is true that the Government of Tasmania has thought fit to prohibit the use of myxomatosis in that State, and has gone so far as to announce that it will prosecute any person who introduces myxomatosis into Tasmania. However, I believe that, in spite of the prohibition, myxomatosis is established in various parts of Tasmania. I said last week that the depredations of each rabbit involve the Australian people in a loss of approximately 5s. a year, but, since I made that statement, I have had discussions with senior officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and they have told me that my estimate is extremely modest, and that the figure may well be as much as 10s. a year. Tasmania, in proportion to its area, has as many rabbits as have other States, and the Government and I fail to understand why the Government of Tasmania has prohibited the use of a means of exterminating rabbits, which has had such extraordinarily good results on the Australian mainland. I oan only hope that, before long, the success that has been achieved with myxomatosis in other States will convince the Government of Tasmania that its present policy is not in the best interests of the people of that State.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that H.M.A.S. Hobart has been directed to Mort’s Dock, Sydney, for annual overhaul and refit? Is he also aware that the work will be done by the Mort’e Dock and Engineering Company Limited on a cost-plus basis, which will be another lucrative handout to private enterprise? Does the Minister know that although Hobart is to be overhauled at Mort’s Dock, highly skilled marine engineers have been dismissed from Garden Island? Will the Minister take steps to ensure that the refitting of Hobart is carried out at Garden Island in order that the services of highly skilled technicians may be retained at this national dockyard?
– H.M.A.S. Hobart is undergoing reconversion and it will be at least a couple of years before it will be possible for the work to he completed. The Garden Island dockyard is fully occupied with work of an operational kind, connected with activities in Korean waters, and. unfortunately, it is not possible to carry out all the work on Hobart there.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been directed to allegations by a. leading Communist in North Korea that American troops which are fighting with the United Nations forces are employing bacteriological warfare? Has the Communist to whom I have referred been in possession of a passport which was issued by the Minister for Immigration on behalf of the Governor-General of the Commonwealth requesting, in the name of Her Majesty, that he should be allowed to pass without let or hindrance and that he should be afforded every assistance and protection of which he might be in need? Will the Government take the necessary steps to ensure that before any such documents are handed to known Communists in the future, the Governor-General will be informed of the fact? Is it a fact that an Australian citizen can be refused permission to leave Australia unless he obtains the consent of his wife and a clearance from the Taxation Branch? Why, then, does the Government suggest that it has no power to refuse a passport if the person who has requested it is a known security risk to the defence of the Commonwealth ? Will the Government place the issue of passports in the hands of a Minister who has no scruples about preventing the free movement of Communists between this country and enemy territory?
– I shall consider the honorable member’s question as having been placed on the notice-paper and shall provide him with a reply to it.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether any progress has been made in the promised investigation by his department into the operations of burial societies that have been established allegedly for the benefit of age and invalid pensioners. If such an investigation has been made, what action is it proposed to take to remove certain glaring injustices to pensioners? If action has not yet been taken, when will it be taken and from which organizations is it proposed to invite evidence ?
– I know of no investigation of an official nature that has been made by my department into funeral funds. Such funds are under the jurisdiction of State governments and are consequently purely State matters. I understand that the Victorian Government recently held an inquiry into matters of this kind and that it has taken certain action against the controlling authorities of many such funds. My department is doing everything in its power to direct and advise those who are under its care and jurisdiction, but it has no authority to interfere in purely State affairs.
– What action does the Minister for Labour and National Service propose to take in the industrial dispute on the South Coast which has already been responsible for throwing thousands of men out of employment? Will he call a conference of both parties to the dispute before the trouble extends to other industries?
– I do not know whether the dispute has come before the industrial authorities in New South Wales. If it has done so, the matter would not come directly under our jurisdiction. However, I shall endeavour to obtain some information on the matter for the benefit of the honorable member.
– Can you inform the House, Mr. Speaker, of the authorities, constitutional or parliamentary, that you consulted to find support for the opinion stated by you in this House about the status of Under-Secretaries?
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Any honorable member who cares to do so, may read in May’s Parliamentary Practice that certain members of the House of Commons were debarred, in 1945, from sitting in the House because they had accepted certain offices under the Crown and that certain other members were so debarred in 1950. Honorable members will also find much relevant information in the report of a committee of the House of Commons which, in 1941, was charged with the duty of discovering the state of the law with regard to the holding of offices and places of profit under the Crown. The report of the committee contains some strong statements, and the point is made” that it does not matter whether a member receives money or not. The test is whether he holds office, because a man may profit from the holding of .office under the Crown without receiving money. In the authorities to which I have referred, case after case is discussed very fully, and opinions are expressed very distinctly. It is shown that several eminent parliamentarians, including Lord Palmerston, were disqualified from holding seats because they had accepted office under the Crown although no fee or emolument was attached to those offices.
– Acting on advice, I have always declined to accept any fee from the Australian Broadcasting Commission for broadcasts that I have given from national radio stations. Is it your opinion, Mr. Speaker, that a member of this Parliament who broadcasts over the national radio stations renders himself liable to expulsion from the Parliament?
– I have not examined that aspect of the matter. There is a section of the Constitution which debars any member of this Parliament from receiving a fee or reward for doing anything connected with the Parliament.
. - by leave - The Government has given close consideration to the ruling given by Mr. Speaker last week that the appointment of four members of the House as Parliamentary UnderSecretaries is unconstitutional. Similar matters have been considered by previous governments at intervals ever since World War I. in connexion with the appointment of members of the House as Assistant Ministers.
I make clear to the House the nature of the present appointments. They were made informally, in an announcement by the Prime Minister. The object of the appointments was to provide assistance for certain Ministers. The Parliamentary Under-Secretaries have made inquiries, conducted correspondence, and occasionally received deputations on behalf of Ministers. There has, however, been no delegation of the authority of a Minister to do any executive act which a Minister is, by law, required to perform. The Parliamentary UnderSecretaries are not members of the Executive Council.
A Parliamentary Under-Secretary receives no salary in respect of his services as such, and the travelling allowances payable are not in any sense’ a fee for services rendered but merely an estimated reimbursement of expenses reasonably incurred.
The title “ Parliamentary UnderSecretary” is familiar in the United Kingdom, but there the position is different because the appointment is recognized by statute as a junior ministerial office, with appropriate provisions for appointment and salary.
The legal position under our own Constitution has been examined by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer), who has advised that, in his clear opinion, the four Parliamentary Under-Secretaries do not, in law, hold an “office” at all. still less an “ office of profit under the Crown “, and that their appointments arc in all respects constitutional.
– by leave - The Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) has made a statement for which the House should be grateful to him, but we must consider it in conjunction with two other matters. The first of these is the statement made by Mr. Speaker last Thursday and the second is the amplification of that statement by Mr. Speaker earlier this afternoon. With the greatest respect t:o the Acting Prime Minister, and without expressing any legal or constitutional view, I say that the clarification of this issue is a matter of supreme importance. 1 suppose that honorable members on both sides of the House will agree with
That statement. The Acting Prime Minister said -
Similar matters have been considered by previous governments at intervals ever since World War I. in connexion with the appointment of members of the House as Assistant Ministers.
In order to prepare the ground for the clearing up of this matter, T ask the Acting Prime Minister to lay on the table of the House the rulings of previous Solicitors-General in relation to that important point of principle. I also ask him, in connexion with
Ti is statement that there has been no delegation to any Under-Secretary of the authority of a Minister to do any executive act which a Minister is, by law, required to perform, whether there has been delegation of a different character, namely, delegation of the authority of a Minister to do an act which pertains to the office although the Minister may not be required by statute to perform it.
– The Acting Prime Minister did not say “ by statute “.
– It is a different position altogether. At any rate, it seems to me to be so. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale), of course, may be better informed on that point than I am.
This matter cannot be disposed of just by the making of a statement, especially in view of Mr. Speaker’s rulings. Therefore, I ask the Acting Prime Minister finally whether he will be good enough to lay on the table also, for consideration by, the House - perhaps after reference to an appropriate committee of the House in the first instance, in order to ascertain the facts, as happened in connexion with the House of Commons, according to Mr. Speaker - the opinions of the AttorneyGeneral from which quotations were made in the last paragraph of the right honorable gentleman’s statement. Will he also lay on the table the opinions, if any, of the Solicitor General ?
– I shall give consideration to the questions asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and shall ascertain what can be done in the direction mentioned by him.
– I should like to move that the statement by the Acting Prime Minister and the statement by the Leader of the Opposition on the position of Par liamentary Under-Secretaries be printed. I wish to do so because the whole question is too important to be allowed to lapse.
-Order! The honorable gentleman would need to give notice of his intention to move that the statements be printed. Furthermore, he would not be able to move such a motion unless the Acting Prime Minister tabled his statement. Does the right honorable gentleman wish to do so.
– If the statement is laid on the table, the honorable memher for Melbourne may give notice of his intention to move to-morrow, or, by leave of the House, he may move now that the papers be printed.
– There seems to be some reluctance on the part of Ministers to allow this matter to be discussed.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
Parliamentary Under-Secretaries - Ministerial Statement.
The honorable member for Melbourne may now ask for leave to move that the statement be printed, and leave will be granted.
– I do so.
.- by leave - I am overwhelmed. I move -
That the following paper be printed: -
Parliamentary Under-Secretaries - Ministerial Statement.
I do so for the purpose of giving to the
Acting Prime Minister the opportunity to lay on the table the documents to the tabling of which he has said he will give consideration, and also in order that the House shall not lose control of this very important matter, the importance of which has been further emphasized by Mr. Speaker’s statement of precedents, which probably have not been considered by the Solicitor-General or the AttorneyGeneral. If it be in order for me to do so at this stage, I shall move for the adjournment of the debate.
– The honorable member must ask for leave to continue his remarks.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
– No. Continue now.
– I am in a little difficulty and I must seek the guidance of the House. It is customary for an honorable member who has submitted a motion to conclude his speech, to ask for leave to continue his remarks after he has started the speech, or to move that the debate be adjourned and to make his speech on another occasion. Am I to understand that the House has declined to give to the honorable member for Melbourne leave to continue his remarks ?
– Is leave granted?
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Messages from the Governor-General reported transmitting Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure and Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure for the year ended the 30th June, 1951, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed, and referred to Committee of Supply forthwith.
Motions (by Sir Arthurfadden) agreed to -
That the following further sums be granted to Her Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1950-51, for the several services hereunder specified, viz. : -
supplementary estimatesfor additions, New Works and other Services involving capital expenditure 1950-51.
That there be granted to Her Majesty for the service of the year 1950-51 for the purposes of Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure, a further sum not exceeding £2,853,295.
Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means, founded on resolutions of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Sir Arthur Fadden and Mr. Eric J. Harrison do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Sir Arthur Fadden, and read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
These Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure totalling £9,596,829 relate to the financial year 1950-51. The amounts set out were expended out of a general appropriation from revenue of £15,000,000 made available to the Treasurer to meet expenditure which could not be foreseen when the Estimates were prepared. It is now necessary to obtain specific parliamentary appropriation to cover the several items of excess expenditure. Full details of the expenditure for 1950-51, which includes these increases, are set out in the Estimates and Budget Papers for 1951-52. The Estimates show the amount voted for 1951-52, together with the amount voted and the actual expenditure for the previous year, which are included for informative purposes. Details are also included in the Treasurer’s Financial Statement for 1950-51, which was tabled earlier this session for the information of honorable members.
The Supplementary Estimates detail the items under which the additional amounts were expended by the various departments. The chief items, in round figures, are -
Any further details of the various items of expenditure will be available at a later stage.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tom Burke) adjourned.
Bill presented by Sir Arthur Fadden, and read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The total appropriation passed by the Parliament for capital works and services under this heading’ during 1950-51 amounted to £80,173,000. The actual expenditure was £72,644,000, that is, £7,529,000 less than the appropriation. Due, however, to requirements which could not be foreseen when the Estimates were prepared, certain items show an increase over the individual amounts appropriated, and it is now necessary to obtain parliamentary approval of these increases. The excess expenditure on the particular items concerned totals £2,853,295, which is spread over the various works items of the departments, as set out in the schedule to the bill. Any details which may be required will be furnished at a later stage.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Tom Burke) adjourned.
– by leave - On Tuesday, the 13th May, Mr. Speaker sought the wishes of the House regarding the printing and later distribution of copies of my financial statement, which, on the 8th May, the
House had ordered to be printed. In previous instances when, having regard to expense, printing difficulties, and the availability of the matter in other publications, a similar doubt had arisen on whether the paper should be printed as a parliamentary paper, the Printing Committee was asked to make a recommendationto the House. This matter seems to be one that could properly be reviewed bythe Printing Committee, and I suggest that that committee be requested to do so at its next meeting. I suggest, also, that the Printing Committee should have regard to the cost of printing and the fact that the statement has been already printed in Hansard.
Motion (by Sir Arthurf adden) - by leave - agreed to -
That the questions raised in the House by Mr. Speaker on the 13th May concerning the printing of the Financial Statement presented by the Treasurer be referred to the Printing Committee for consideration and report.
Debate resumed from the 22nd May (vide page 802), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill provides honorable members with an opportunity to survey the record of achievement of the Government, and to make comments upon it. On the 27th March, the Government announced that drastic import restrictions would be imposed, and that it intended, among other things, to effect a 40 per cent reduction of book imports, based upon the value of such imports in the base year, which was 1950-51. Immediately, protests were received from all parts of the Commonwealth. Upon sober reflection, the Government amended its policy. It announced that book imports would not be reduced by 40 per cent., but insisted that imports during the current year should not exceed in value those of the base year. Owing to increases of the prices of British books during the last eight or ten months, to the degree, in most instances, of 25 per cent., a sum equivalent to that which we expended upon the importation of books in 1950-51 will not now be sufficient to buy from overseas the number and variety of books that we bought formerly. It was pointed out that the effect of restricting book imports to the value of those imported in 1950-51 would be to inflict hardship upon many individuals, organizations, schools and universities throughout Australia.
Then the Government amended its policy again. As a matter of fact, the Government does not seem to know where it is. A few days ago, according to a press report, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan) announced that, in the case of universities, public libraries, colleges, schools and other approved institutions, there would be a further relaxation of the restrictions upon book imports. The Minister said that such institutions would now be permitted to import books without restriction, provided they imported the books for their own purposes. It has not been the custom of the majority of such institutions to import books themselves. The importation of books is the province of commercial undertakings, such as book importers and book wholesalers. Although the relaxation of the restrictions will certainly, to some degree, alleviate or prevent frustrating delays in obtaining books, in some instances restrictions are still imposed upon the great body of book-lovers.
I suggest that the Government should consider whether it is necessary to impose restrictions upon the importation of books, even in a period of financial stringency. It has been estimated by a number of authorities in the book trade that, if all restrictions were removed, additional expenditure upon the importation of books would not exceed £500,000 a year. When we compare our expenditure upon book imports with that upon other articles, we find that it represents only a comparatively small proportion of our total expenditure upon imports. Last week, I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs to inform me of the value of the books that were imported into Australia during 1950-51, and of the value according to the latest figures of those that have been imported during this financial year. The Minister, in his reply, said that in 1950-51 we expended £3,202,000 upon the importation of books, and that during the first eight months of this financial year £3,116,000 had been expended for that purpose. If the Government had adhered to its policy of restricting book imports to the value of those of 1950-51, during the last four months of this financial year we should have been permitted to expend less than £100,000 upon the importation of books, but a further amelioration of the restrictions has been announced. However, those figures show how insignificant is the sum that we expend upon the importation of books. When we consider that only an additional £500,000 would be expended each year if all restrictions upon book imports were removed, it is obvious that a policy of restricting such imports is not worthy of serious consideration by any self-respecting government.
The restrictions that have been imposed will, as I have said, reduce the number and variety of books available in Australia. In addition, the clearing of hooks through the customs will be subject to interminable delays. Under the present policy, persons who wish to import books must call at the Customs House in person, present their licences and then get their invoices stamped and cleared. The customs authorities are not at all keen upon that procedure, because the restrictions that have been imposed upon the importation of other articles are keeping them very busy. They have admitted on other occasions that the issue of licences for the importation of books causes more trouble than the issue of licences for the importation of any other article. The trouble and expense involved in such a system is out of all proportion to any “ advantages that may be derived from it. Imported books yield no revenue, because no duty is imposed upon them. Formerly books were delivered to private booksellers by post, but now the procedure to which I have referred will have to be adopted in respect of them. Therefore, it is no wonder that the book trade is up in arms against these restrictions.
This is not the first occasion on which a reduction of book imports has been proposed. History has repeated itself. In 1930, the Tariff Board conducted an examination into book imports. In its report, it stated -
Australia is a comparatively isolated country, crude in ita youthfulness but greatly blessed in that it shares in the privilege of possessing a mother tongue which gives it access to the world’s .best literature. To check the flow of literature into Australia would be disastrous.
The effect of the Government’s policy in this connexion with be to place Australia in a most invidious position, because at the present time no other Englishspeaking country imposes any restrictions upon the importation of British books. The Government, by this administrative act. which cannot be justified on financial grounds, has aligned Australia with Finland, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, the Philippines, Spain, and certain South American republics which, for various reasons, have imposed restrictions upon the importation of British books. Surely the Government does not contend that the restrictions that it has imposed upon book imports will have any noticeable effect upon the economy of this country, when it is known that the effect of the restrictions will be to prevent the expenditure, of, at the most, £500,000 of our overseas funds in a year. There is no need for me to dilate at length upon the necessity to encourage the spread of learning in Australia. That should be permitted without hindrance or qualification. The unrestricted importation of book? into this country is vital for the future of Australia. However necessary import licences may be in some instances, it should be apparent to everybody that books do not lend themselves to the same treatment as tobacco, motor cars, or other form-“, of merchandise. I urge the Government, even at this late hour, to make a third and final retreat from its obstinate attitude, because the present position is deplorable, vexatious and reactionary, and must have a detrimental effect upon the community at large. I trust that the Government will make further representation,? to the Minister for Trade and Customs and that he, in his wisdom, will see fit not. to impose these stupid restrictions any longer.
I believe that the time has arrived when the immigration policy of this country should be reviewed. I do not advocate a complete cessation of immigration, because I do not think that that could be justified, hut I suggest that the position should be considered with a view to determining whether it would be advisable to reduce the number of new arrivals. At the present time, immigrants are coming to this country at the rate of about
L50.000 a year. The Government’s credit restriction policy is preventing people with modest means from obtaining nev/ 1 louses. The effect of that policy is graphically portrayed by the sharp decline of the number of building permits issued in the quarter that ended in December, 1951, compared with those that were issued during the corresponding period twelve months previously. We cannot afford to make credit available to newly married couples who wish to build houses as such couples are finding to their sorrow. We cannot afford to indulge in large-scale immigration, unless we can make provision for the sheltering of the new arrivals, but we cannot provide adequate shelter for our own people. The fact that immigrants exert a pressure for the possession of houses under construction was admitted by the Minister for Immigration in an article published recently in the Melbourne Argus. It is true thatsome immigrants have been usefully employed in the production of basic requirements for buildings, but it is incontrovertible that increased production as a result of their efforts has not been commensurate with the increased demand that results from their intention to become Australian citizens. The Government’s immigration policy should be reviewed. When a vigorous immigration programme was first proposed by the former Minister for Immigration, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), he stressed the point that he intended that primary production should be the first to benefit from it. He intended that the new arrivals should open up new areas of food-producing land and relieve the shortage of agricultural labour in areas that had already been opened up. Until recently only a small percentage of the newcomers have had experience of primary production in the land of their birth. The Government lias admitted that of those at present under contract, only one in ten have been directed to farm work. Judging by past experience, when their contracts expire most of them will seek easier and more remunerative jobs in the cities. Under our immigration policy we are boosting the population of the already overcrowded cities and doing nothing to prevent the drift from the country. Notwithstanding the fact that all sections of the community are gravely concerned at our diminishing food production, only a small percentage of immigrants is being used for the purpose of increasing the production of food.
It is realized by all honorable members that increased primary production is a major weapon against inflation. Published statistics contain very disquieting information about the distribution of former displaced persons. As far as I can ascertain 66,000 displaced persons have been sent to New South Wales, 44,000 to Victoria, 24,000 to South Australia and the Northern Territory, 14,000 to Queensland, and 14,000 to Western Australia. Thus, where the greatest developmental works remain to be undertaken the assignments of displaced person labour have been the lowest. The serious decline of the production of food and other primary products demands that every effort shall be made by the Government to divert a greater volume of new arrivals to farming and pasture lands that are now producing below capacity. Since 1939 the production of Australian farming industries has increased by approximately 1 per cent, per annum. During the same period there has been a net gain in population of approximately 3 per cent, per annum. This Parliament must realize that the time is fast approaching when secondary industries and urban services will absorb all the immigrant labour they are capable of absorbing. Immigrants perform many useful tasks but their value to the community is counterbalanced by the pressure that they exert on the inflationary spiral. The Government must utilize all its powers to ensure that a much larger proportion of newcomers shall settle on the land than is the case at present. If prospective immigrants are not suitable for farming pursuits, or if they display no inclination for that kind of employment, they should not be encouraged to come here. I trust that the Government will, in the near future, make a comprehensive survey of its immigration and land settlement policy and ensure that a large proportion of the newcomers shall be directed to the land and that every effort shall be made to give to young Australians an opportunity to settle on the land. From figures that were furnished in relation to a bill that was before the House last week, we learned that no fewer than 4,000 ex-servicemen in Victoria alone are still awaiting settlement on the land. The Government has e herculean task ahead of it, but it must essay that task if the immigration policy propounded by the honorable member for Melbourne is to be successful.
I now propose to make some comments about the basie wage and cost of living adjustment because, with the gathering pace of prices increases, our method of effecting automatic quarterly adjustments to the basic wage has been subjected to much criticism in recent months. Some critics contend that the system of awarding quarterly cost -of living increases is the main cause of inflation. In the ten quarterly periods from February, 1950, to May, 1952, these increases have amounted in the aggregate to £3 4s. When considering the system of quarterly cost of living adjustments two important points should be borne in mind. In the first place, the belief that any adjustment of the basic wage must lead to a series of neverending future adjustments that hopelessly defeat the possibility that the basic wage will catch up with prices is incorrect. On the contrary, every cost of living adjustment directly results in a series of sharply diminishing quarterly adjustments because the basic wage forms only a portion of production costs, and hence of prices. That fact cannot be too strongly emphasized. The second important point that must not be forgotten is that the value of margins, loadings, imported and exportable materials, salaries and other overhead costs is not automatically adjustable. It is misleading to blame cost of living adjustments for the inflationary spiral. It is basic ally true that every cost of living adjustment is both the casual factor and the resultant effect of prices increases. Initially, cost of living adjustments must have followed a rise of prices. I agree that cost of living adjustments aggravate the prices spiral, but that fact does not justify the condemnation of the system as such. Unless new inflationary factors appear the rate of basic wage adjustments will taper off. A close analysis of the situation leads me to the unmistakable conclusion that continued prices increases are due to the ineffectiveness of Government policy to check inflationary pressure. The plain and unvarnished truth is that cost of living adjustments are merely a symptom rather than the cause of inflation. The Government* has displayed its complete inability to deal with this, the greatest internal problem with which this country is confronted. During the last six months it has adopted a series of .measures, both legislative and administrative, that have been ostensibly designed to deal with the problem. Severe credit restrictions, tight capital issue controls, large and savage cuts in public works, heavy taxation and drastic import cuts have imposed widespread and unnecessary hardship, and the upsurge of prices levels goes on unchecked. If the Government succumbs to the temptation that is now being put in its way and decides to abandon the system of cost of living adjustments of the basic wage on the ground that they are inflationary, the Labour party will bitterly oppose the move. The discontinuance of quarterly adjustments would virtually bring about the abandonment of the basic wage system. The Labour party will never agree to that in any circumstances. If the Government is sincere in its desire to minimize future adjustments, appropriate and well timed economic measures must be applied as early as possible.
Widespread anxiety has been caused by the Government’s unrealistic approach to the multitude of problems that confront the nation. Everywhere there is a sense of dismay at the lack of success which has attended every move that the Government has made to improve the position. Successive by-elections have demonstrated that the people of Australia are tired of the puny successes that have attended the Government’s efforts to improve the economic position and particularly its endeavours to solve the problem of inflation. The progressive daily deterioration of the economic position has engendered a sense of confusion in the minds of most Australians when they consider the future. The problem is becoming worse in every branch of economic activity. Last Saturday electors again demonstrated their demand for positive action by the Government to deal with fundamentals.
Inflation is the gravest problem that confronts the Government. Although the last quarterly increase of the basic wage was lower than those for the previous quarters, there is no tangible indication that the prices spiral itself is rising more slowly. Every issue of the daily newspapers contains a report of some rise of the prices of essential commodities. Increases have occurred in Melbourne in recent weeks in the prices of butter, bread, sugar, meat, wood, gas, and electricity. Whilst some sections of the community are still able to withstand the impact of inflation, many find that their anxieties are multiplied. They include pensioners and persons on superannuation and on fixed incomes. They find an increasing difficulty in meeting current needs, and no hope for them is contained in the Government’s economic measures. Whilst the Government claims some success in dealing “ with inflation, honorable members know that retail prices in Australia rose by 25 per cent, last year. The rapidity of the rise was a record and it was almost twice as high as the rise that had occurred in the previous twelve months, lt was equal to the increase over the whole six years of World War II. The post-war inflation of 1918 was small in comparison. Prices rose by only 13 per cent, in 1919 and by 14 per cent, in 1920. The unprecedented rise last year has reduced the value of the £1 more than eve)1.
When honorable members on the Opposition side of the House refer to the restoration of value to the £1, howls of derision arise, from honorable members on the Government side, but it is a case nf. “ Tell me the old, old, story, for I forget so soon “. The Labour party would be lacking in the performance of its duty if it did not bring under the notice of the people, continually just what a mess the Government has made of its efforts to restore value to the £1. The total increase in the retail price index between June, 1939, and December, 1951, was 130 per cent. In other words, £2 6s. was required to purchase at the end of that period goods that would have cost £1 in the three years between. 1936 and 1939. In December, 1951, £1 was required to purchase, what 8s. 9d. would have bought in 1936-39; in other words, we may say that £1 would buy in the last quarter of 1951 only 43 per cent, of the goods that it would have purchased in 1936-39. The figures that I have cited refer only to the limited list of goods included in the “ C “ series index, but the prices of goods that are not included in thai regimen have risen by much more than 130 per cent. Unless the Government is prepared to do something, the position will go from bad to worse.
Two major factors arc generally agreed to have been responsible for the latest and most spectacular post-war inflation. The first wa3 the great wool boom of 1950-51 when prices for wool were 30 times as high as the war-time level. The second factor was the increase of private investment and public works expenditure. But the Government is giving scant consideration to the problem. Many severe measures which it could adopt would possibly not be palatable to the great mass of the people. The measures already adopted convey no ray of hope and Hie people will see no amelioration of conditions until a Labour government is returned to office. The Labour party has been accused of having no policy on this matter. A few weeks ago when this Parliament was discussing what was tantamount to a no-confidence motion, Government supporters constantly asked honorable members on the Opposition side, “ What is your policy ? “. Honorable members on this side replied that their policy would be made known to the people in due course. The Labour party has a very good policy that is designed to increase primary production. I have no doubt that when it is placed before the electors at the next general election it will receive their endorsement. The Victorian branch of the Labour party recently propounded a policy in which even members of the Australian Country party could not pick any holes. It gave notice of a comprehensive policy for land settlement and increased primary production. The Labour party recognizes the need to carry out the subdivision of properties that are too large for efficiency and the full utilization of their productive capability. I know that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) will not agree with that because he says that if large properties are subdivided that will interfere with the production or merino wool. But that attitude is not shared by everybody, because the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) has said in this House that large properties would have to be subdivided. I leave it to those honorable members to decide which standpoint is correct. The Labour party believes that subdivision of large properties is necessary so that young Australians may settle on the land and immigrants who are country-minded may get farms. Compulsory resumption must be backed by a discriminatory land tax and the land so resumed must be made available, to selected settlers in much smaller holdings. The Labour party expects violent opposition from large land-holders when this policy is advanced. We gained some idea of the opposition that we might expect when we heard the speeches of honorable members on the Government side on the Land Tax Bill 1952, but the Australian people will not be influenced by those protestations because they realize that large landowners are holding far too much land and that it must be subdivided in the interests of the Australian economy. Despite the view expressed in some quarters that Australia has reached the limit of its land settlement possibilities, large tracts of land are capable of much closer settlement. New techniques have been developed in agriculture.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Under this measure, the Government seeks Supply to enable it to carry on from the end of the current financial year until the budget has been passed and full provision has been made in respect of the ensuing financial year. As the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) has pointed out, consideration of such a measure affords to honorable members the opportunity to air grievances to which they wish to direct attention. Members of the Opposition have not been slow to take advantage of this opportunity to display their lack of real national sentiment at a time when this country is urgently required to develop a sound national outlook if it is to solve the pressing problems that confront it to-day. Every one recognizes that abundant cause exists for complaint on the part of the community. But .this present spirit of unrest and discontent is not peculiar to Australia. It is apparent throughout the world. In my view, it has resulted mainly from all the nebulous talk that has taken place in recent years about a new order. The socalled new order has not been defined. Advocates of the new order have implied that there is need to effect a change from the old state of affairs but have failed to advance any concrete proposals designed to achieve that purpose. As a consequence, the masses throughout the world are now simply groping for something that will be different from the old system. Nobody seems to be able to explain exactly what form the new order should take.
Members of the Opposition, merely in order to gain some party political advantage, indulge in criticism of the measures that the Government has .taken to deal with not only our internal problems but also the difficulties that confront Australia in the international sphere but fail to offer any constructive alternative to those measures. They desire to aggravate the spirit of unrest that is abroad in the community to-day. They seek, as it were, to turn the knife in the wound. Such tactics are characteristic of them. They will lead no one to believe that they do not realize that changing circumstances throughout the world demand new remedies. They deliberately ignore that fact in order to gain some party political advantage.
Thereby, they cause the greatest harm not to the Government but to the nation as a whole by making it more difficult for the nation to re-establish itself on firm foundations. Honorable members opposite should realize that by adopting such tactics they “will not embarrass the Government but will do untold harm to this country, whose security is now gravely threatened from both within and without.
I have in my possession several beautifully illustrated certificates, about 10 inches by 6 inches, which were presented to me in recognition of work that I performed during the concluding stages of the. recent war and since for the purpose of ensuring the success of Commonwealth loans that were floated at that time. Those certificates bear the signatures of two former Prime Ministers, Mr. Curtin and Mr. Chifley, to whom l was opposed politically. I wonder how many members of the Opposition have been presented with similar certificates in recognition of work they may have performed in the national interest. I am proud of the fact that I hold such certificates, because they indicate that I, like many other citizens whose efforts were similarly recognized, can sink party political differences in order to promote the national welfare. If ever there was a time when the people as a whole were required to have such an outlook it is the present. On previous occasions in this House I have challenged members of the Opposition to cease harassing the Government merely in order to gain pettyparty advantages. I again urge them to abandon such tactics. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) dealt with many matters; but, unfortunately, he grossly distorted the facts. He alleged that the Government had restricted, or totally denied, credit to rural industries while, at the same time, it had appealed to those industries to increase production. He also claimed that the Government had denied credit to persons who desired to construct, or purchase, houses. The honorable member knows only too well that adequate credit is still being made available for those purposes, that the Government has not restricted credit in respect of the needs of any essential industry and that it has applied that policy solely in the national interest.
Members of the Opposition should, at times, endeavour to speak with one voice. I have in my hand a publication, Voice, copies of which are regularly circulated among all honorable members.’ This copy was made available to me gratuitously, and I take this opportunity to express my thanks to the publishers for that courtesy. Voice is an interesting publication. It numbers among its contributors the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), - the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Eraser), the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). They are men who are held in esteem. They support, endorse, and, in some instances, contribute, the articles that appear in this magazine. The appearance of their names gives the official imprimatur to the matter that is published in it. If that were not so, I have no doubt that they would seek the withdrawal of their names from its pages and ensure that they were not associated with it. As their names appear as contributors to the magazine I assume that, whilst they may not always be prepared to endorse the articles that are contributed by Dr. Burton, who sometimes writes scathingly of the Australian Labour party, they endorse the editorial policy of the magazine. In a sub-leader published in the April issue, the following statement appears: -
The higher taxation, credit restrictions anil general dis-inflationary policy of the Menzies Government are doubtless also necessary. No responsible person could watch with equanimity the increasing shortages of goods resulting from excessive total spending of government, business and consumers. A reduction in purchasing power and reduction of labour and materials to essential industries and industries assisting the Government’s policy of re-armament was, therefore, inevitable. The current economic policies of the Menzies Government thus appear to bc sound in principle, although their intensity is another point. One might even concede Mr. Menzies a measure of political courage in carrying out extremely unpopular measures.
That statement presumably is supported by those honorable members opposite who are recognized as the leaders of the Parliamentary Labour party. I suggest that a little of that broad outlook should be displayed in this Parliament. Honorable members opposite should speak with one voice. Whilst they may not be able to endorse every action of the Government a nd agree with the crossing of every “ t “ and the dotting of every “i” - indeed, I myself do not - they should admit that, broadly speaking, most of the measures taken by the Government are inevitable and necessary.
The plain fact is that for eight long years - -
– Dreary years !
– Yes, they were dreary years. “For eight years this country laboured under a socialist government. Suddenly, that government was removed from office. In accordance with the policy of the present Government, the people wore then given freedom. After eight long-suffering years, they had become so unaccustomed to freedom that when they attained it they drank to excess from the fountain of it. It has. therefore, become the duty of this Government to guide and direct the thoughts and actions of the people along proper lines, short of adopting the extreme measures which honorable members opposite advocate. They wish to see a socialistic order established. I.’ have sufficient confidence in the Australian people to know that once they have overcome their reaction to this newfound freedom, they will revert to sound economic principles. Socialism, and all that is akin to it, will never again be tolerated by them.
– Has the honorable member seen the results of the latest gallup poll?
– Order ! These interjections across the floor are unseemly and have nothing to do with the question before the House.
– I now wish to make reference to the manner in which the Estimates of Expenditure are submitted to the Parliament. In my opinion, the. system that has prevailed throughout the years is entirely unsatisfactory, not only to many honorable members, but also to the people of this country. When Estimates of Expenditure are submitted to this Parliament, under the present system honorable members are obliged to vote en Hoc blindly a vast sum of money for the use of the Government. Both individually and collectively, honorable members on both sides of the House are charged with responsibility for the financial condition of the Government, and,, consequently, of the. country. We cannot exercise a reasonable oversight of financial policy if the accounts of the Government continue to be presented as they have been in the past. It is time that an alteration was made. Such methods were reasonable when the total expenditure involved was £20,000,000, or even as much as £150,000,000, but I point, out that the total expenditure at the present time exceeds £1,000,000,000 per annum. For that reason, I consider that it is time to call a halt to the system whereby representatives of the people areasked to vote blindly such large sums of money to the Government.
In addition, the proposed expenditure of government departments should be set out in greater detail. When the Estimates have been presented and are about to be discussed, the Ministers in charge of thedepartments concerned should introduce those that relate to their respective departments and should be prepared to answer questions concerning them and to explain to the committee the manner in which the money sought to be appropriated is to beexpended.
– Hear, hear! I entirely agree with the honorable member.
– The honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Davies) says. “ Hear, hear ! “, although I have not heard him. say so to any previous suggestion of mine. If he agrees with what 1 have said, he should attempt to havethe method that I have suggested introduced in this Parliament.
– That method is adopted in New South Wales.
– It is also adopted in Western Australia. Another matter which makes the Estimates extremely difficult to understand, if it does not nan-der them completely incapable of comprehension, is the .duplication of departmental functions. By that, I refer to instances in which a department undertakes work on behalf of another department and is credited with, or supplied with, a certain sum of money in respect of such work. For instance, the Department of the Interior undertakes to provide transport for other departments. It is not made clear whether the Department, of the Interior bears all the transport charges of such departments and uses its own vote for that purpose, or whether the departments concerned are charged by the Department of the Interior for the functions which it performs on their behalf. Honorable members are not able to ascertain how such expenditure is reflected in the Estimates. I fear, perhaps unjustifiably, that under this double banking system, accounts are duplicated, and departments find themselves with sums of money that should rightly be credited to other departments. It is not unusual to find in the Estimates a sum of anything up to £500,000 under the heading “ General Expenses “What businessman would trust any one with such a huge sum of money in petty cash? I sa, therefore, that reforms are needed. The Government would earn the undying gratitude of the people if it were to do nothing else but place the accounts of this country on such a basis that they could be clearly understood and if need be, criticized, not necessarily by the average man in the street, but at least by those of us who understand accounting - I mean normal accounting, and not the peculiar system that operates in Commonwealth departments and instrumentalities.
It is regrettable indeed that, in the current financial year, the Commonwealth Government has been obliged, as I have no doubt it will be obliged in the next financial year, to use revenue funds for capital expenditure which ordinarily would be charged to a loan account. This means, of course that despite the difficulties confronting the nation we of the present generation are being called upon to carry an unfair proportion of the burden of public works which will, be of great benefit to posterity. We are entitled surely to hand on to posterity a portion of the cost of the undertakings upon which we have embarked in the interests of future generations. To expect the people of this day to meet the full cost of such works is wrong in principle, and rotten in practice. I realize that this system is being followed for a certain reason. I appreciate the difficulties of the Loan Council, and I am aware too, of the unappreciative and unrealistic attitude of the States in relation to loan funds. It is most unfortunate that the Commonwealth Government has the sole responsibility for raising the bulk of the moneys that are expended by the States. The Commonwealth is being forced by the State governments to impose taxes far in excess of what we all desire. That has to be done if the works programme of the Commonwealth and the States is to be carried out. The irresponsibility of the States is forcing the Commonwealth to make unpalatable and unpopular levies in the field of taxation. The Opposition is well aware of that, and the time has come for a review of the situation. If the Commonwealth is to continue as virtually the sole authority charged with the responsibility of raising revenue, and is obliged blindly to comply with the dictates and demands of the States, the national economy will speedily become chaotic, and neither this Government nor any succeeding Commonwealth government will be able to remedy the situation. Quite frankly, I am fed up with having to apologize for the State governments. I seem to spend most of my time doing that. The remedy lies in placing upon the States the responsibility to find the resources that they consider to be necessary to carry on their public works programmes. I realize that, by speaking in this way, I shall make no friends on the Labour benches, because the Labour party believes in unification and the abolition of the State governments. Fortunately, there is in office to-day, a government which believes that the closer a government is to the people, and the greater the responsibility that the people have to accept in their own affair.0, the stronger and more successful will bc the community and the nation. However, we are not unmindful of thi’ terror that might be brought upon us should the Labour party ever be given
This Supply legislation ‘is a prelude to the 1952-53 budget, and I believe that two matters should be borne in mind by those who will be responsible for preparing that document. The first is the desirability of an alteration of the system of presenting accounts to the Parliament. Che present system is utterly useless. We might as well give to the Treasurer a cheque, signed by the Parliament, for the amount of money that he requires. It is true that we know the allocation of expenditure between the various departments, but beyond that we know very little at all. Secondly, I believe that careful consideration should be given to Commonwealth and State financial relations with a view to ensuring that the States shall accept the responsibility that is rightfully theirs, instead of passing it on to the Commonwealth, and, what is worse, currying favour with the people by blaming the Commonwealth Government for doing the very things that the State governments themselves would be required to do if they were not so anxious to get out from under. I support the bill.
– The Government, in conformity with parliamentary practice, is seeking supply for the first four months of the next financial year in order to enable the costs of administration and other commitments to be met until the Budget and Estimates have been agreed to. A supply bill affords honorable members on both sides of the chamber an opportunity ro discuss the administration of the Government, but before I proceed with that matter, I shall offer a few comments upon statements by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) and the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Berry), both of whom are supporters of the Liberal party and represent electorates in Queensland.
Last week, those honorable gentlemen devoted most of their time to criticizing what they termed “this socialist Labour party “, and, in an endeavour to strengthen their case, they trotted out the old, worn out bogy of communism, and attempted to attach the Communist label to the Labour party. I make it clear that Opposition members are proud to belong to the great Australian Labour party, which is the only political party in Australia that has never changed its name.
For 60 years, its candidates have presented themselves to the people as supporters of the Australian Labour party. From time to time the party has had reverses but has gone fighting as the Australian Labour party. The so-called Liberal party has as many political aliases as the worst police court offender.
– The Labour party has merely neglected to change its name. It should be called the socialist party.
– It is truly the Australian Labour party. The so-called Liberal party is merely the old conservative party that has represented the anti-Labour forces in Australia for the last 60 years. I recall that the Liberal party has, at various times, been designated the Conservative party, the Ministerial party, the Nationalist party, which was established by the right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes), . and the United Australia, party. Of course, the personnel of those parties has changed with the passing of the years, but their objectives have remained unaltered. The so-called Liberal party in Queensland has not been content to carry on under those various aliases, but has formed the Queensland People’s party. The Citizens Municipal Organization which was established recently, is a wing of the Liberal party. The honorable member for Griffith and the honorable member for Capricornia cannot, with justification, accuse the Labour party of having changed its name.
Those honorable gentlemen have also repeated the allegation that the Australian Labour party is in some way attached to the Communist party. Nothing is further from the truth. I take second place to no man in this chamber or elsewhere regarding my opposition to the Communist party. There are members on the Government side who will support my claim that no man in Australia has suffered physically to a greater degree than I have at the hands of the Communist party. My opinion to-day is the same as it has always been towards the Communists. No Communist or Communist sympathizer has ever been permitted to become a member of the great Australian Labour party. The honorable member for Griffith and the honorable member for Capricornia, whenever they address the House, endeavour to attach the Communist label to the Labour party. My advice to them is that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. They should clean up the Liberal house and not make untruthful attacks upon the Labour party. It is not the Labour party, but the Liberal party in Queensland, that is endeavouring to increase its members by enrolling members of the Communist party. The Brisbane Telegraph on the 10th May last published a report of a conference of what are termed the junior Liberals in Queensland. Of course, the honorable member for Capricornia is regarded as a Young Liberal in that State. The President of the Liberal party in Queensland, Mr. Wanstall, a former member of the Legislative Assembly of that State, presided over the conference. He urged greater unity within the Liberal movement, and added -
I would not call you rebels - far from it. T think it arises from your desire to be independent, or different.
In what way did junior Liberals desire to be different? Miss Iris Phillips, a delegate from Ipswich, said that Communists should be invited to join the Young Liberal movement, and she opposed a suggestion to safeguard membership against infiltration by opponents. She added -
I would like to see Communists or their sons and daughters join the Young Liberal Movement.
Mr. I.. Bunzi, a delegate from the electorate of Petrie, said that children of Communists could become members by paying 5s. Therefore, the honorable member for Capricornia and the honorable member for Griffith’ would be well advised to clean, the Liberal house before they attempt to attach the Communist tag to the great Australian Labour party. Those honorable gentlemen! appear to have a Communist bee in their bonnets, so much, so that I believe that they look under’ their bed’s at night to ensure that no Communist is lurking there. They have an anti-Communist obsession.
The honorable member for Griffith said that workers in Queensland were not getting a fair deal in the quarterly adjustments of the basic wage. He explained that the Commissioner of Prices in Queensland supplied to the Commonwealth Statistician all price figures that were required for the computation of the quarterly “ C “ series adjustments of the basic wage. That statement is completely untrue, and I cannot imagine why the honorable gentleman made. it. I believe that the honorable member made this statement with the idea of belittling and discrediting the State Labour Government and the Prices Commissioner, Mr. Fullagar. Honorable, members, and particularly the newer honorable members opposite, should always be careful in making statements in this House. This is not the first time that I have had to correct misstatements by honorable members opposite. By making the statement to which I have referred, the honorable member gave people the impression that the. Prices Commissioner had submitted incorrect figures to the Commonwealth Statistician with the object of indicating that the cost of living was lower in Queensland than in any other State. In fact, the cost of living always has been lower in Queensland than in any other State. But the figures on which the basic wage is adjusted are not submitted by the Queensland Prices Commissioner but by employers’ organizations, retail traders associations and industrial unions. The honorable member for Griffith is a member of the Master Butchers Association, which has the duty, as have other traders, of furnishing the Commonwealth Statistician with particulars of the prices that its members receive foi their meat. If the figures, submitted by the Master .Butchers- Association were accurate the cost of living in Queensland would be greater than it is because during the past four or five months at least 50 master butchers have been prosecuted in Queensland and fined for overcharging for beef.
The bill before the House has given honorable members an opportunity to consider and discuss the administration of the Menzies Government during the two and a half years that it has been in office. The1 Financial Statement which has. been submitted to., the House by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur’ Fadden ) reveals that Australia is. in. a serious financial position.
– -That is a legacy of the Labour Government..
– The electors do- not think so.. A Labour government assumed office in 1940, when the Menzies Government,, as a result of backbiting and sniping in its ranks, was unable to carry on. Labour took over the reins of government with a minority in this House just before Japan knocked at the door of Australia and brought about the greatest crisis in our history. Labour conducted the war and left a favorable trade balance of £843,000,000 in London when it vacated office.. Honorable members have now been, told that that amount has dwindled to about £300,000,000. Australia was never so prosperous in all its history as it was in 194S and 1949. In addition to a favorable trade balance in London,, there was full employment. A number of business men visited this country after the war in order to ascertain whether Australia would be a suitable place in which to invest capital. These men who had also visited New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, made statements, either in this country or to their principals abroad, to the effect that Australia was the most prosperous and the most economically and financially stable country that they had found in the world. As a result, more overseas capital was invested and more private industries were established in Queensland than had ever been established there previously or have been established since. I believe that since the present Government came to office not one new industry has been established in Australia.
– A lot have closed down.
– As the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has remarked, a lot of industries have closed down since the present Government was elected. In the metropolitan area of Brisbane hundreds- of new industries were opened while the Labour Government was in office. Those industries were financially assisted by both the State and the Commonwealth Labour governments.
The. Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) said, by way of interjection, that the present financial position of Australia was a legacy that bad been left by the Labour, Government. I have said that Australia was never so, prosperous as it was in 194S and’ 1949. Every man and woman who* was able to. do a day’s work was in employment. The position to-day is-, altogether different. From time to time this. Government has charged the Labour party with being responsible for the fall in primary production. When, unfortunately for the people, the Labour Government went out of office primary production was at its peak. The Government has admitted that. The Labour Government, during the war period, had not only to.feed the Australian community, but also, had to- feed, and clothe many thousands of American servicemen.. The Labour dovernment* was also able to export Australian primary products to Great Britain in such, quantities that our Londonbalances were increased from about £55^000^.000 in 1939-40 to about £2SQ,000,000 at the end of the war. When hostilities ceased, the Labour Government spent many millions of pounds in re: habilitating ex-servicemen, and was still able to hand over to this Government, when it assumed office, London balances of about £843,000,000. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), who is at present a,t the- table, is shaking his head about my figures, but he cannot deny them, because both the Prime Minister (Mr.. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) have admitted in this House that what I have said is correct. It is a remarkable fact that during the war years, while the Labour Government heldoffice in this country, primary production was greater than it had ever been before^ A statement was recently made about this matter by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) in his second-reading speech on the Wheat Industry Stabilization (Refund of Charge) Bill. The Minister said -
The 1949-5,0 crop was one of a series oi excellent crops produced post-war, deliveries from which the Australian Wheat Board reached a near record and totalled 201,930,000 bushels.
That crop was a “near record” and it should be remembered that it was harvested while Labour was in office. The same applied to butter, meat and practically every other primary product. The production of all those products was a “ near record “. The Government has altered the favorable economic position in which the Labour party left this country, and primary production has decreased considerably. A very small amount, if any at all, of our primary products is at present being exported. That is the reason, why our overseas balances are so low to-day.
Both the Chifley and Curtin Labour Governments stated that when the war had- ended every ex-serviceman would be treated in the way in which he deserved to be treated after fighting for his country. They promised full employment throughout the land. Australia did enjoy full employment until the Labour Government relinquished office in 1949. Now, however, unemployment is growing day by day. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) has often detailed figures in this House in reply to questions regarding employment. He has stated that there is very little, if any, unemployment in the country. A few days ago the Courier-Mail of Brisbane published figures, which had been provided by the industrial organizations that control certain workers, to indicate the trend in employment. Those figures, which are absolutely authentic, show that to-day large numbers of workers are unemployed. According to that statement, in the clothing and allied trades 1,000 persons are unemployed, in the sheet metal working industry 700 are unemployed, in the boot trades 833, in the leather- and allied trades 110, and in the furnishing trades 80 are unemployed. Moreover, 500 storemen and packers, 500 vehicle builders and 500 members of the Australian Workers Union are also unemployed. According to those figures, 4,223 persons in Brisbane alone are unemployed. They are all persons who have not registered for unemployment relief payments. An officer of the Department of Labour and National Service, who was commenting on those figures, said that it was his opinion that that number represented only 50 per cent, of the actual number of unemployed persons in Brisbane.
– Who said that?
– A spokesman for the Department of Labour and National Service.
– Oh, a spokesman !
– Yes, a responsible officer. He said that the 4,223 unemployed persons that I have mentioned represented only 50 per cent, of the total number of unemployed in Brisbane. He said that the majority of unemployed persons who were single men did not bother to apply for the paltry 25s. a week to which they are eligible. I say that this Government has fallen down on its job. I have been a member of this Parliament for many years, and never in my long political career have I known a government to be more discredited in the eyes of the people than is this Menzies Government. Many honorable members on the Government side know that the Government has been discredited, because they discuss matters with their constituents in the same way as I do with my own constituents. Moreover, I also meet many of the Government’s supporters. One cannot wonder at the Menzies Government being discredited, because in order to gain power the Government parties made promises to the people that they never intended to honour. One of their promises which gulled many people was that if they were returned to office they would reduce taxation. Instead of doing that they have increased both direct and indirect taxation.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. JEFF BATE (Macarthur) [5.20J. - In reply to the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), I propose to cite some figures from the Monthly Review of Business Statistics. These show that during the regime of the Labour Government from 1945 to 1949, the percentage of unemployment rose progressively from 1.2 per cent, to 1.3 per cent., and finally to 1.4 per cent. After the present Government took office, unemployment began to fall. At the end of the first year of office it had declined to SI per cent. During the next year it fell to .7 per cent., and by August of 1951 it had fallen to .6 per cent. In the month of August, 1949, the percentage of unemployment was 5.5 per cent., but that was during the coal strike, and there was much resultant unemployment due to a shortage of power. Thus, we see that there was unemployment during the period of office of the Labour Government, but the percentage of unemployment has fallen to the lowest figure in history during the regime of the present Government.
Let us consider the reason for the high wages paid in secondary industry. In this connexion it is illuminating to read the judgments of Judge Foster and Judge Dunphy when the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, in 1950, increased the basic wage by £1 a week. Their argument was that, as the income from wool had gone up by £280,000,000 a year, and as the country was so prosperous, the. basic wage should be increased. “ We have the money; let us spend it”, was their attitude. Therefore, they increased the basic wage by £1 a week for the benefit of those almost non-existent persons, the basic wage earners. We know that, in fact, practically everybody receives some margin for skill over and above the basic wage. That wage increase had the effect of destroying the balanced demand for labour between primary and secondary industry, and of attracting people to the more congenial life in the cities as industrial workers.
The arguments advanced in 1950 do not now apply. The price of wool has fallen, and the prosperity is not so great. There is some difficulty in getting jobs to-day. A new condition of affairs has arisen, and the primary producer is going along on a different level. The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics has produced a table showing the return to farmers during the years between 1945-46 and 1950-51, the figures being arrived at by dividing total income by costs. For the year 1950-51, the return to woolgrowers was five and a half times as much as that for 1945-46, but the tax-gatherer looked after the surplus to such good effect that the farmer was left with only one-quarter of the extra return. Wool is not a basic necessity like food. The demand for it depends on economic conditions. Wool is not bought by the under-privileged nations but by the well-to-do. The underprivileged use substitutes for wool.
When we come to consider primary products such as foodstuffs, as distinct from wool, we see how the effective incomes of primary producers have been reduced. For instance, the return to dairy-farmers declined steadily under the Labour Government’s price-fixing regulations during the period from 1945-46 until it went out of office. Taking the return for the base year of 1945-46 as 100, the return for the next year was 97, and for the following year only 88. That was because the cost- of production on dairy farms rose faster than did the price of the dairy-farmer’s product. .For sugar producers and fruit-growers the return during the same period fell from 100 to 70. One result of this was that many men were driven off the land and auto the ranks of industrial workers, where they were able to get what .seemed to ‘them a better return. When this Government came into office, it was faced with the situation that had resulted from years of socialist rule. It had to do something about prices as soon as possible. Shortly after the 1st July last year, it made a determined and successful attempt to increase the price of butter notwithstanding the opposition of certain State governments. The increase was 11½d. per lb. on a retail basis, and it was the largest that the dairy-farmers had ever received. However, they had been at a disadvantage of 12 per cent, in relation to their overall costs. In addition, the general costs for the year rose by IS per cent. Therefore, the increase enabled them, merely to overtake the lag of prices behind production costs. The Government’s first task was to overtake this lag so as to restore the farmers economically to the position that they had occupied in 1945. The -second task was to provide them with a margin as an incentive to increase their output. The difficulty was increased by the fact that costs continued to rise almost from day to day. The Government also endeavoured to provide wheat-growers with .a fair return for their industry. The home-consumption price of wheat was increased, after negotiation, from 7s. 10d. to 16s. Id. a bushel, but that arrangement has been upset because one of the States has objected to it. Nevertheless, the Government will continue to do its best to provide incentive prices for primary producers. Their costs have increased enormously, largely as a result of decisions of the Commonwealth Court of Concilialion and Arbitration. The court, of course, has made its decisions on the facts that have been placed before it.
Farmers, whose products are sold under the restrictive terms of stabilization schemes and overseas contracts, .ar.e in difficulties because their returns do not rise automatically in tune with other costs.
Many of us believe that the proper course of action to take in these circumstances is to release the prices of primary products from all controls and allow them to find their own levels so that farmers will be encouraged to produce to the maximum of their ability. I notice that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard.) is listening carefully to my remarks. They should be of special interest to him. If prices were allowed to find their own levels, production would increase because the farmers would have confidence in their future prospects. Supplies would become adequate, and then prices would establish themselves at reasonable levels.
– What would the honorable member do if the bottom fell out of the market?
– I welcome the interjection, because it arises from a state of mind that has had a ruinous effect on primary production for many years. I remind the House that the former Labour Government, in 1944, acting in conjunction with the Labour Government of New South Wales, sent three inspectors to Narrabri and then launched a prosecution against a wheat-farmer for having planted a few acres too much wheat. They feared that a heavy wheat crop would provide a surplus that could be exported to underprivileged countries. The production of foodstuffs for hungry nations would be one of the greatest contributions that Australia could make to the promotion of world peace. While stabilization schemes and overseas contracts depress prices, we shall have depressed production. The remedy is to remove restrictions from prices. The first result would be a temporary period of high prices, but those prices would encourage production and fan the spirit of enterprise in men on the land so that the eventual result would be adequate production both for ..home consumption and for export markets, upon which we rely to provide the life-blood of Australia.
Export sales have four good effects. First, they stimulate the flow of imports and thus enable the .people to buy the goods that they need at reasonable prices. Secondly, they establish the national income and the budgetary income on a proper basis.Under presentconditions, wemustlook forward to a discouraging budget for 1952-53.Our tremendous income fromwool has fallen, and we are virtually bereft of incomefromthesale of foodstuffs overseas. Thirdly, export sales make acontribution towards peace because,byUnited Nations Food and Agriculture Organizationstandards, only one-third of the world’s population enjoys the basic minimum diet that it hasspecified. That fact means that two-thirds ofthe world’s population issuffering from malnutrition. Finally, our primary industries represent our best economic department. The real value of our rural industries is not shown by a comparison of the prices of primary products with the domestic prices of manufacturedgoods, because the prices of secondary products are inflated ‘by protection whereas those of our rural products are depressed by price fixing and the contracts and arrangements that we are forcedto make for their sale overseas. We cannot, in all decency, sell our meat overseas at the prices that prevail in the United States of America whenmeat is rationed in Great Britain so severely that every person is allotted only1s. 8d. worth a week. Surely, nobody would expect Australia to sell itsfoodstuffs to Great Britain at world parity prices when thatcountry is in such dire need? All of us would like to sell Australian meat on the open market, but we cannot even think of doingso atthe expense ofthe peopleof Great Britain, who are suffering great hardships. It is up to us to help the United Kingdom until itrecovers from its difficulties. Nevertheless, anybodywho considers the facts dispassionately must acknowledge thatprimary industries constitute the best department in our economy.
The honorablememberf or Yarra (Mr. Keon) discussed superphosphate, but it wasobvious that he had not carried out any careful researchon the subject. On thisoccasion,he did not makehimself au fait with the situation as he usually does. The factisthat sufficient supplies of mockphosphate are cominginto Australia. Weshould congratulate thosewho areresponsiblefor this situation.However,weneed sulphur. TheInternational
Materials Conference has reducedour quota ofbrimstone sulphur, and, therefore, itisnecessaryfor usto makegreater use than formerly ofthe pyrites deposits thatwe have in SouthAustralia, Western Australia and Queensland. The Government has already taken action,bygranting tax relief, to encouragetheproduction of pyrites at Mount Morganin Queensland. It also has competent officers engaged on the taskof arranging for the big superphosphateplants in Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia tobe converted to the use of pyrites insteadof brimstonesulphur. The change-overwas expected originally totakefiveyears,but, as a result of the Government’sefforts, the task may be completed within two years. The job will be enormously costly, and the total expense willbebetween £8,000,000 and £12,000,000.In these circumstances, the Governmenthas provided financial guarantees so thatthe work may be completed. When the job is finished, there will be sufficient superphosphate in Australia to meet all demands.
– When ?
– Honorable members who have listened to the honorable gentleman’s comments on this subject are aware that he has not taken the trouble to ascertain the facts. Ifhe will listen to what Ihave to say, he will realizethat everything possible is being done to ensure that we shallhave an adequate supply of superphosphate.
We have been told that thereis a serious shortage offarm labour, particularly skilled labourfor suchjobsas fencing. However, the Government has done a great deal to relieve the situation during the lastsix monthsbybringing to Australia large numbers ofexperienced farm labourers from Hollandand Italy. These men are notexpected togo immediately to the toughest back-blocks in Australia to do thesort ofwork that bushmen can do, but at leastthey are working in ourrural industries. They are wellsatisfied with their lotandwill probably continue in that kindofwork. Thehonorable member for McMillan (Mr. Brown)has acoupleof Italian immigrant farmlabourers working for him. They are doing a very good job. During the three years to the end of December last, about 4,000 British farm labourers came to this country, while in the last six months 1,791 Italian and 411 Dutch farm labourers have arrived here. Then are now 497 of these immigrants engaged in the pastoral industry; 178 in the fruit industry; 205 in the sugar industry; 80 in the vineyards; 200 in the dairying industry ; 814 in mixed farming; 58 in market gardening; and 232 in other rural activities. There are more immigrants available for farm labouring work than there are vacancies available. This proves that the Government has made a valuable contribution to rural production. Although it may be claimed that immigrants are not so efficient as competent Australian bushmen and farm labourers, at least they are willing to undertake rural work, and in many instances they have been very successful.
As a bill to provide for additional taxation concessions to persons engaged in agricultural production is still before the House, I am unable to make more than a passing reference to that subject. However, I think that I should mention that farmers who are constructing homes for their workers and buying agricultural machinery are well satisfied with what is being done for them in this respect. They are to be allowed to claim 20 per cent, depreciation for five years, as a deduction for income tax purposes. On the whole this is very satisfactory, but farmers who are just starting off may suffer a hardship if they are not allowed to claim a deduction of more than 20 per cent, for depreciation in respect of plant purchased from’ income. It would be better if all money spent in their first year on plant requirements were deductible from taxable income. I consider that they should be assisted to purchase all the plant they require in order to enable them to increase production of the commodities that we need. As the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) has pointed out, scientific advice furnished by our universities, the State departments of agriculture, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is of immeasurable value to agriculturists. According to an article that was published in the Sunday Telegraph of the 25th May, Holland increased its agricultural production by 30 per cent, during the last three years by a system of practical scientific demonstration to farmers. About 200 pilot farms in the Netherlands were granted interest-free loans for fifteen years for the purchase of farming equipment, to construct new buildings, and to establish pure-bred herds, on condition that scientific farming methods were applied. From one such test farm a farmer increased his income from about £330. in 1946-47 to about £1,300 in the. last financial year.
Under the system of extension- services agricultural production was boosted in the United States of America by 4 per cent, per annum in the four years from 1940 to 1944. As honorable members know, private enterprise predominates in that country. Initially, under the extension system, in any one county 1,000 farmers band together and contribute a dollar each. The United States Department of Agriculture subsidizes the movement on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Applications are then invited for the position of county agent. The county agent has been responsible for immense administrative improvement in relation to farming. He has acquired a knowledge of new farming techniques, which he passes on to the farmers, and does much to improve the conditions of women on the farms. Australia expends relatively much less than do overseas countries on extension services. For instance, in New South Wales, at a time when agricultural production is slipping dismally, and almost every kind of food has to be imported from other States, the Government of that State is expending only £2,000,000 a year to assist agriculturists. Under an agreement that was concluded by th? Australian Agricultural Council, the Commonwealth is called upon to contribute to extension services in the States. I consider that Commonwealth financial assistance should be expended not on government officers to go through the country districts to give advice to farmers, but by establishing farm committees, consisting of the farmers themselves, who would be responsible for increasing production. It has been -my experience that when new methods of growing crops and looking after animals are discovered, in many instances the State Departments of Agriculture hesitate to pass on relevant advice to the farmers because they have not the staff available to answer the many inquiries that might be expected. Consequently, new scientific farming methods are not always disseminated to the farmers. It is noteworthy that in New Zealand agricultural advisers are always available to assist the farmers. When it was realized that many farmers would be loath to adopt new scientific methods of farming in preference to methods that they had followed for many years, the New Zealand Government established the Ruakura Animal Research Station at Hamilton, and the Palmerston North Experimental Farm. These farms are known as pilot farms, and the farmers in the district are encouraged to seek advice and assistance from the government officers there in order to achieve increased production. Recently I met a deputation of farmers from the central Gippsland area. I was very interested to learn from them that if a small 3um of money were expended to divert one of the rivers in that area and make more water available, the farms already in use could produce 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 gallons of milk each year. That would be a. very substantial contribution to our production of milk, which is now about 1,200,000,000 gallons a year.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– This bill is probably the most important document that has been presented to this House since the last budget was introduced. Many, if not all, of the people of Australia have been wondering whether this Government would find enough money to enable it to carry on until the 30th June. The workers and the business people of this country are waiting from day to day to learn what they are to do next. I pay the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Bate) the compliment of saying that, to some degree, he outlined what he thought the Government should do to extricate this country from its present difficulties, but other honorable gentlemen opposite who have spoken in the debate have offered no solution of the problems with which they are faced. Since federation, no government assumed office in a period of prosperity comparable with that which existed when this Government came into power, but no other government failed so dismally as the present Government has done.
Members of the Australian Country party tell us that many of our present difficulties are due to the fact that Australian men and women prefer to work in secondary industries rather than in rural industries. Self-preservation is the first law of nature. Can we expect people to remain in country districts when, in some instances, all that they can expect is to be employed in a seasonal occupation? It is true that while they are so employed they may receive considerably more than ordinary rural workers, but, when the season has ended, they are not wanted again for three or six months. If the supporters of the Government were sincere when they say that they want to increase primary production in Australia, they would begin to try to make accommodation available for the people whom they want to go to the country areas. At present, some immigrants are being directed to rural employment, in which they are required to remain for two years, but, unless some provision is made to assimilate them into the communities in which they are now living, they will leave that employment immediately their twoyear contract has expired.
Recently, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) said that we should not interfere with large estates because that would, for some reason, adversely affect the quality of the wool that is produced on them. How many of the owners of such estates are prepared to build houses and to allot a certain area of land to each house? How many of them have done that in order to provide their workers with the accommodation that they should expect them to want? None of them has done it, or is inclined to do it. Nevertheless, they accuse the Labour party of being responsible for the fact that men will not go to the country areas, work there for two or three months and, as it were, spend the rest of the year in enjoyment of the fruits-of their labours*. Ito September;. 1950, the1 honorable- membear for Watson (‘Mr. Curtin’) and1 myself visited’ the western districts- of-‘ New South Wales; From Dubbo. down to Thangie, we saw expensive motor cars- in use mostly” Rolls-Royces and Cadillacs-;
– Were there no Chevrolets?
Mk MINOGUE.;- There were no Chevrolets. Cadillacs were; the.- cheapest, cars- we saw:, Cars. worth, from £2,000 to. £3,000 were owned, by, men who were not prepared to. do. anything; to- satisfy the requirements: ofl r.ur.al workers. I notice that the honorable member for Bennelong. (Mn. Cramer is: smiling-. I shall defer, until 8. g-m. my. remarks about, the honorable gentleman andi his record in Kew. South-Wales..
E do not1 wonder.” that we are- heading where1 we - ane. There- are; two1 leaders- of” tiri* Government: One- is- the Prime Minister (Mr: Menzies)’ and the other is? the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden-). During the two and a half years that thisGovernment’ has been in: office, they have not both been. in. Australia for more than two or three months at a time: If the Treasurer is; nott overseas) the Prime Minister- is; Each, of them has made several trips overseas since the Government came-‘ into- power. They have told’ u» t&a& tire purpose of their’ trips is to try to float? loans-. While they are over1seas, trying- to do- that, they are losing* the confidence of the Australian people, who could, provide the Government with the money that it needs. Since the Treasurer returned, to this country from overseas,, he has never told the House of the business, that he did. while he was abroad. Nevertheless, the. Government expects us to agree with everything that it proposes. The recent by-election for the Liverpool seat in the New South Wales- Parliament should prove to honorable gentlemen apposite that never again will the people of this country trust a government such, as- this. The results of by-election after by-election have shown* that, in the opinion of the people.,, this Government has failed lamentably..
Mfr, MINOGUE. - The- right honorable member f for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes1) says, “‘Hear; hear !”’ I am astonished’ that” a man- of his maturity should say, ““Hear-, hear ! “’ when this country is facing’ the* greatest peri’ that has ever confronted it”.
– The honorable gentleman did not hear what I said.
– Never have the affairs of this country been at such a low ebb.. I know many small business people, in. Sydney, who invested their savings in. Commonwealth bonds. To-day, owing, to. high, prices of food and other commodities, they are being forced to sell those bonds, but foi; each £100 bond they get as. little as £87. Can a. government which is responsible, for such a state of: aif airs, enjoy the confidence of the people of. Australia? If the Treasurer were to be successful in floating loans overseas, we, should have to pay. to our creditors overseas, by way of interest upon the loans,, money that should be retained, in: this; country.
– As we did. in 1929.
– I do not like to lookback upon the events of 1929, but I am very much afraid that that is the direction in1 which we are heading. The sooner an election is held to clarify the position, the better it will be, because then we may see- some ray of hope. This afternoon, a question was directed to the. Minister for Labour and National Service about the- number of immigrants who are being brought to this country. I admit that honorable gentlemen on both sides of the House agreed to the policy under which Australia would acceptabout 150,000’ immigrants a year.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– This- Government is’ continuing the- immigration policy that1 was. initiated’ by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr; Calwell) when! he was-: Minister for Immigration in the Chifley Government: When the present Government came; into, office,, it promised tn> make arrangements for the- importation of a sufficient: number of prefabricated houses to- meet the. increased honeing demand that resulted from the implementation, of that, policy, but1 although the intake of new arrivals -is now approximately 136,000 per annum, the Government has so far imported only 10,000 prefabricated housing units. Can there me any wonder, therefore, that young Australians are unable to secure nouses for themselves? The housing position is appalling. A survey that was made on the 17th February last indicates that in New South Wales alone there .was a shortage of no fewer than 100,000 houses, of which 40,000 were most urgently needed to meet necessitous cases. “This Government has done nothing to assist the State Government to improve that situation. Over and over again the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has ‘told us that the allocation of loan moneys to the States to finance their works programmes is controlled solely by the Australian Loan Council and that the decisions of the council are made by the State Premiers and the Treasurer. At the recent meeting of the Australian Loan Council the three Labour Premiers and the three Liberal Premiers said that never again would they allow the ‘Commonwealth Treasurer to put anything over them, that unless they obtained their loan requirements in fall they would be powerless to implement their works programmes and that in that event the Commonwealth would have to accept responsibility for the resultant chaos. This Government refused to meet their requests and at the Liverpool byelection last Saturday the people indicated in no uncertain way their condemnation of the Government for having done so. Unfortunately a general election of members of this Parliament will not ‘be held until two years have elapsed. Honorable members opposite who say “ Hea’r, hear ! “ obviously -do not desire to go to the country any earlier than that. The unsatisfactory housing position is responsible for many of the ills and troubles that beset us. No government, irrespective of its political colour, has a light to deny to our young married people the houses which they so urgently need. From recruiting platforms throughout ‘the country honorable members opposite have invited our young men to join the .fighting forces -and, if necessary, to volunteer to go overseas to fight for the .preserva tion of their .homes and their homeland. The Government which asks a young -man to go overseas to .fight .for these homes and his country should provide, him with a decent house lin which to live when he returns. Every .Monday morning dozens of young people come to me from Glebe ‘to ask me to assist them to obtain houses. Every week I .hear pitiful stories of young ex-servicemen and their wives, many of the latter .with babies in arms or expecting babies, who are forced to live in -two rooms under appalling conditions. This Government has done nothing to help them, and persists in maintaining the flow of immigrants at its present scale, thus accentuating the housing shortage. The Labour party favours the attraction of newcomers to this country, but it believes that -the -intake of immigrants .should -be scaled -down until arrangements have been made for the housing of those who are already here. Almost every day we hear .of instances of ten or twelve persons living in houses that were ‘built .to (accommodate not more than four persons. In normal times such over-crowding would be contrary to local council regulations. Prior to the general ‘election of 1949, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his policy speech, said -
There .is already a Common wealth-States Housing Agreement. We will seek its amendment so as to permit and aid “ little capitalists “ to own their own homes.
Notwithstanding that promise, this Government has instructed the Commonwealth Bank and the private banks nf New South Wales ‘not .to advance money for the construction of houses.
– That is not true.
– Ministers at the table endeavour to juggle figures in order to prove that the money made available to the States to finance their works programmes is sufficient to meet their needs. In terms of total amounts, the allocations this year might compare favorably with those of earlier -years, but in terms of purchasing power they fall fair below the needs of the States. In Nov South Wales -many persons who have sought financial assistance from the banks for ‘the purchase ;o’f houses have ;been refused the necessary accommodation notwithstanding that they .were able to provide 7-0 per cent, of the purchase price.
How, in these circumstances, can Ministers claim that the Government is doing everything it possibly can do to assist the people to obtain houses of their own ?
As honorable members are aware, electric power failures occur now and again in New South “Wales. We are fortunate to have in charge of the electricity undertakings of that State one of the greatest men who has ever been appointed to such a post. I refer, of course, to Mr. Conde, who was formerly in charge of the Balmain power house. When Mr. Conde controlled the Balmain power house he showed his foresight by ordering plant and machinery far ahead of requirements, but the gentleman who was then in charge of the electricity undertakings of New South Wales fell down on his job and, despite Mr. Conde’s foresightedness, electricity failures occurred with monotonous regularity. When Mr. Conde was appointed as Electricity Commissioner loud screams of protest were made by the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), better known as “ Calamity Cramer”, during whose administration of the post there was a record electricity blackout of fourteen hours in the Sydney area. This is what Mr. Conde has had to say about the effect of the Government’s import restrictions upon his plans to provide additional electric power for Sydney users -
Delay in obtaining import licences is holding up the delivery from overseas of urgently needed plant. Every piece of plant available is in use to maintain presentsupplies and new machinery is urgently needed. I have approached officials to obtain import licences for machinery worth several million pounds. The Commission received a cable from London a few days ago asking to hurry import licences for boiler and turbine machinery. At present when a major boiler or generator breaks down at a power house, the loss of generation means heavy blackouts. I fear there will be further delay if the Government decides to cut down the Commission’s credit.
Mr. Conde’s statements clearly indicate that the import restrictions imposed by this Government will result in even more serious electricity failures in New South Wales than we have experienced in the past.
I shall refer now to the effect that the Government has had on the stability of the loan market. The Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board of New South Wales failed to raise a loan of £1,750,000 and, rightly, it blamed the Federal Government for its failure.
The Government has claimed that there is no unemployment in the country. I can assure honorable members that there is a great deal of unemployment, but when men and women need £12 a week to enable them to live, they are not likely to seek the miserable payment of 25s. a week which is paid out for unemployment sustenance. I spent a day last week in Sydney trying to find jobs for three girls. who had worked in a factory for eighteen months. They tried hospitals and other institutions and not one job was available to them. That great philanthropist, Mr. E. J. Hallstrom, who has given of his best to the country, has had to discharge several hundred men, and 700 employees have been dismissed from a Sydney glass works. If that trend continues, the employment position in New South Wales will be difficult.
I wish to make an appeal now on behalf of the pensioners. I visited the Buckingham-street Home in Sydney where 105 old ladies now live. They are receiving £3 a week each and with that amount they have to purchase food, clothing and other necessaries. I also visited the Hammond PioneerHome, in Glebe-road, where 104 men are living. In those two homes there are 209 good pioneers who have to live now on a miserable pension of £3 a week. Every honorable member in the House should either do something for people of that class or stand condemned by the electors. The Treasurer has told the House that he will do something for the pensioners when the budget is being framed. The cost of living is rising so quickly that by the time the pensioners get 7s. or 10s. from the budget, the increase will need to be at least double those amounts. I appeal to the Treasurer to do something for the pensioners before he considers anybody else. Why should not the Government be big enough to provide another £1,000,000 or so to help the age and invalid pensioners? After all, honorable members expect that sooner or later the Prime Minister, or the Treasurer will find a pot of gold overseas and put everything right. When the Labour Government was in office the pension was £2 2s. 6d. a week and it was 50 per cent, more valuable than it is now.
When I came into this House, I expected to hear something worthwhile from honorable members who have been university students and who claim to be leaders of society, but I was ashamed of them when they attacked the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in this House last week during the debate on Dr. John Burton.
– Order ! The honorable member must not refer to a debate that has taken place in the House during the present session, on a matter that is not relevant to the bill under consideration.
– I have lived in Surry Hills, where, people call a spade a spade, and they are the best people in the world, but I have never heard men, whether temperate or intemperate., voice such vile nonsense as that which was expressed in this chamber last week.
-Order ! The honorable member may not deal with a debate that took place last week.
– When I first came to this Parliament to represent the people of West Sydney, many of them needed a telephone. I was told by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) that there was a delay of twelve months. That delay has been extended to three years, and I could count on the fingers of one hand all the telephones that have been installed. Many of the applicants are ex-servicemen who are trying to run businesses, but they are in no special category and cannot get a telephone. In the meantime, the Government has sacked hundreds of technicians who could have installed the telephones. I hope that the Postmaster-General will explain the situation to the. people who are waiting for telephones. They do not deserve to be fooled. They expect honorable members to. know what the Government is going to do. When I am asked by people in my electorate what the Government is doing, I tell them that it has twin leaders - Mr. Menzies, who is Leader of the Liberal party, and Sir Arthur Fadden;- who is Leader of the Aus tralian Country party. The people of Australia are waiting for a lead. Honorable members of this House include 54 members of the Labour party, 52 members of the Liberal party, and seventeen members of the Australian Country party. Yet the Australian Country party, in spite of the numerical smallness of its representation, ‘ has been running this House for the last two years. Members of that party are always asking for something and although the wealthy squatters have been subsidized generously, they are always asking for more. They should set their house in order and give to their employees in the country good homes and suitable wages.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- This bill, under which the Government seeks to appropriate the sum of £250,000,000, gives, in effect, a preview of the budget that the Government will introduce in the ensuing financial year. A perusal, of the items of expenditure contained in the bill reminds us of the serious economic difficulties that confront this country in common with every other country of the free world. Most of these items mirror the sort of _ economy that Australia will enjoy during the next few years. Not the least of our present difficulties has resulted from the sudden and serious reduction of our London funds. For a variety of reasons, Australia is now producing less than it produced previously, and, unfortunately, we have expended our inflated money income in the purchase of huge volumes of imports. We had, in fact, a purely artificial standard of living that was not related to our productive capacity. Sooner or later, that situation had to come to an end. The Government met the problem, quite rightly, by the imposition of import controls.
Under the budget for 1951-52, no less than one-third of Australia’s national income was appropriated for governmental purposes. That proportion would be dangerous at any time. However, there is no indication that the Government will be able to reduce its costs, whilst at the ‘ same time its total revenue will be seriously reduced as a result of decreased collections oft import duty: It is probable that the budget for- the- ensuing year will demand1 an increasing, proportion of Australia’s: national- income for govern: mental expenditure, in respect of administration) social services, defence and developmental? works.. These” costs will have to be rneb out’ of a falling income. The Government ham sought to meet this position by restricting imports. Such action was necessary in. order to preserve a portion at least of our London, balances and thus- enable our economy to keep afloat, if these restrictions are to be retained only temporarily;, steps must be taken to increase production in this country. Otherwise, they will have to be continued indefinitely, and, whether we like it or not, we shall gradually drift into a controlled economy. On this point I direct the attention of the House to the following views- that, have been1 expressed by Mr. Roy Harrod, a” noted: British, economist: - controls arc in the nature of a disease,, which, proliferates and tends to spread through, the’ whole economic organism. One control” gives rise to the need for another control’ audi as the controls multiply new disequilibria appear.- audi create an apparent need for still, more- controls ; crises of ever-growing intensity, occur, each in turn seeming to cry for direct government handling, which after an interval produces a- further- crisis. r emphasize,, particularly, the conclusion ato which, this modern* economist arrived -
Hh a- important point is that we should rely mainly on the self-adjusting forces that reside iii a- free system, rather than on a multitude of detailed pressures for getting our balance right.
I” trust that the Government will bear that thought in’ mind when it is drafting its- budget’ for the ensuing- financial year. The” Budget of the United Kingdom Government that was introduced recently in the- House of Commons was received by all sections of the British people a3 a courageous” budget. It promises to go a Fong way towards alleviating the social distress which inevitably arose in Great Britain as– a> part of the aftermath of the recent war:. At the same time,. the present Conservative Government of the United Kingdom, drafted that budget- with the object of; providing, adequate incentives 1x» increase production and to expand private enterprise. That Government set out tb com:ect the effects’ upon, the British economy- of the errors that’ had- been com- mitted by the: socialist government that preceded’ it: I- trust that this Government’s next budget will’ provide adequate incentives for increased production by encouraging; those- economic forces which alone can- restore economic equilibrium in Australia”.
Tn the course of this debate,, we have heard from members of the Opposition heartfelt declarations of faith and pride in their- membership of the socialist Labour party. I am sure that those honorable members will not deny to supporters of the Government the right to re-affirm their faith in a free economy. I remind honorable members opposite that Great Britain developed its power and prestige under a laisser-faire economy. Whilst no one would wish that’ Australia should revert to an unrestricted laisser-faire system, the fact remains that Great Britain grew strong on the basis of a- free economy and was able to survive the errors of socialism which caused injury to its economy for many years. It is not a- mere accident that the British economy declined during the regime of a socialist government although, I admit, extenuating circumstances were responsible for many of the actions of that Government. It was no coincidence either, that the one country that was able to rehabilitate the economies of practically half, the countries of the world was the United States ofAmerica, which is now the sole remaining, citadel of private enterprise.. Honorable members opposite should ponder on those facts;
Members of the Opposition have much to say about socialism’s- ability to. ensurefull employment. All honorable members, regardless of party, wish full employment to be maintained in this country at all times; but, inevitably, because of the pressure of the great changes that are occurring- to-day, pockets of unemployment must exist. We should bo foolish if we were to” deny that. However, members of the Opposition are more anxious that unemployment shall’ increase in this country and to exploit such a- condition for propaganda purposes- than they are to display any genuine- sympathy with- those who happen to become unemployed. It is” easy for them to expound socialist theories in atempts to belittle the results that have flowed! from- free enterprise. They claim that socialism will produce results which, cannot possibly be achieved under’ any other economic system-. I trust that the Australian people will not be misled by such claims-. History has revealed the abject failure of socialism to produce a greater degree of happiness in this world than has been achieved under an unfettered free enterprise. I ask thosehonorable members opposite who claim for socialism the capacity to abolish unemployment to show how they squareup that argument with the following’ remarks that were made by Mr. Herbert Morrison in 1948, when he was a- leading member of the British socialist government of the day :1 -
We should- be facing big cuts in rations and a million or two million on the dole if our generous and fair sighted friends and alliesin America had not come to the rescue.
What reply have honorable members opposite to offer to Mr. Aneurin Bevan, a socialist if ever there was one, who, in May,. 1948, in. the course of a public speech at Scarborough said -
Without Marshall Aid, unemployment in Britain would be- at once raised by one and a half millions.
Surely those statements by two leading British socialists provide sufficient evidence of the fact that socialism in operation depends upon private enterprise, that is, a free economy, to prop it up. Apparently the socialist undertaking of full employment for all under a planned economy cannot be made to work in socialised Britain. There is real doubt about whether it can be made to work in any country other than- at the point of a bayonet or the end of a whip lash. Despite the lessons of history that only under free enterprise can any nation flourish in freedom, the uninformed and prejudiced attack by honorable members on the other side of the- House upon private- enterprise continues relentlessly. The Opposition considei’3 that its duty lies in trying to convince the workers that private enterprise is crushing them. Informed and more intelligent Labour leaders in other parts of the world- are under no such illusion. Nobody will doubt that Mr.. John L. Lewis; who waa at one time, and, as far as I know, may still be president o£ the American- United’ Mine Workers Association when speaking to- the American- Wage Stabilization Board, recently said -
We see no necessity for our country, a- democracy, adopting the techniques of. the more absolute forms of government. A 25- per cent, increase in productive capacity is no task for modern industrial America. The coal industry needs no expansion. If the country needs another 100,000,000- tons, it is availableto them. If it needs 200,000,000 tons morethan we produced in 1950, it is available - haulit away.. The mining industry will produce it without a cent of government money and without issuance of a single fiat or paper regulation. That’s American aptitude. That is free- enterprise. That’s what free mcn. will do-..
That is what one of the Labour leaders of the world has to say.
Opposition members interjecting;
– Order ! I must ask the House to come to order. There is altogther too much loud conversation and discussion. I also notice quite a lot of verbal traffic across the main gangway between the left wing of the Opposition and the right wing of the Australian Country party. I think that it would be a very good thing if we were to observe a period of silence.
– We expect the private enterprise system to be attacked. Honorable members opposite are always condemnatory of a system which they do not understand. Private enterprise canbe either made or destroyed by government action. If it is encouraged, it canreach new heights of industrial achievement in this country. If we tax it and restrict it, and if we face private entrepreneurs with a long, hard road which ends only in loss if they fail, or a meetingwith the Commissioner of Taxation- if they succeed, which amounts to almost the same thing, nobody should wonder if the system goes down and- we- all are reduced to a level of dreary mediocrity. That is- inevitable. When the newbudget is under consideration, the onus will be upon the Government to check the application of taxation upon the freeenterprise system and to lighten theburden where- such action will dp the most good.
A few moments ago honorable members listened to an impassioned plea from the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) concerning the housing situation. It must not be overlooked that in 1945-46, under a Labour regime, 7,000 houses were built. In 1951-52, the record of which is not yet complete, under a Liberal government, 70,000 houses have been constructed. In New South Wales, which is the State that the honorable member knows best, the Housing Commission has monopolized materials, seized building sites that were set aside for private building, and demoralized workers in the building industry with “go-slow” tactics and controls. The pegging of rents in that State has eliminated building for investment. If private enterprise is destroyed, the situation which the honorable member deplores will be brought about. Let private enterprise have a hand in building. I deny that it is the responsibility of any government to house the people. It is the responsibility of private enterprise to do so. Left to its own devices, it can and will do the job.
There have beeen in this House frequent attacks on big business, and I think the time is opportune to examine the situation. I shall adopt an example that is always extolled in this chamber by referring to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. A recent survey of that company disclosed that there are * in it more shareholders than employees, the respective figures being 23,377 shareholders and 11,400 employees. The average shareholding in paid-up capital is £594.
– A lot of parasites!
– Those designated parasites by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) have invested capital in order to show their faith in the future of this country. The shareholding in such companies is not only by individuals, but also by insurance companies and the like, the ownership of which is widely diffused. Ear from being a great aggregation of capital controlled by one or two individuals, the ownership of the great Australian enterprises is widely spread throughout the community. As Abraham Lincoln said, “ You cannot make the. poor richer by making the. rich poorer “. It is only necessary to examine the last report of the Commissioner of Taxation to see that in the year under review the total income earned by persons in this community with an income from all sources of £2,000 or more a year amounted to approximately £90,000,000. On that total sum they paid to the Treasury £30,000,000. If the remainder were divided among the other 8,000,000 Australians each of them would not receive enough to buy a packet of cigarettes. It must not be overlooked that the people who compose that small group do the working, the worrying, the planning and the providing. They put their capital on the line. They take a risk and back their faith in this country, all for a mere pittance by way of return. They incur the abuse of people such as honorable members opposite, who know nothing of business - of how it functions, or what it can do.
I now wish to refer to the subject of sales tax. When sales tax was introduced commodities were subject to a 2i per cent, tax or were exempt. The amount of money collected was not very great, and 21 days was allowed to the taxpayer in which to pay the tax collected. Inevitably, in the .course of time the scale has been widened, so that to-day ‘ there are six classifications. A multitude of regulations, decisions and precedents exists. Indeed, so complex has the matter become that the man who administers sales tax to-day must continually refer to two great volumes. Tremendous problems are involved in instructing staff in the use of the sales tax schedules. A strangling mass of work has resulted from the six scales of a tax which has increased to as much as 66§ per cent.
Sales tax was a shot at the consumer to try to reduce the consumption of other than essential goods, but it also hit the manufacturer and the wholesaler, who were forced to become the unpaid tax collecting agents of the Treasury, under pain of penalty if they failed to do so. The application of the tax was not so onerous in normal times, when 30-day terms of payment operated. With- credit- ‘ restrictions, however, money is short, and . there is an unfortunate tendency for thepayment of accounts, in the course, of ! normal business, to drift back to 60 and 90 days. A recent statement issued by the Treasury indicates that the average monthly collections from sales tax approximate £7,500,000, which means that manufacturers and wholesalers are financing the Treasury, from their private capital, to an amount of between £10,000,000 and £15,000,000. Sales tax has therefore become a sectional tax.
In answer to a question that I asked in the House last week, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) stated that the matter of sales tax will be considered when the budget is being prepared. The right honorable gentleman reminded me, however, that a change in the system would require an amendment of the act and would result in only eleven months’ revenue being collected in the year in which the amendment became operative. I do not hesitate to remind the Treasurer that the present method of collecting sales tax is unjust. I should not like to see a situation in which a government says that it cannot afford to be just to its taxpayers. We have made legislation; now let us unmake it. Let us amend the law in the interest of justice. I believe it to be imperative that provision be made to correct the situation when the forthcoming budget is being prepared. Thi3 appeal for production and for greater encouragement to be given to producers is given added impetus by recent movements of wages in Australia. Since 1945, wages in the United States of America have increased by 50 per cent., and there has been a similar increase in Great Britain; but, in Australia, wages have risen by 100 per cent, simply because we have tied our basic wage to a prices index. The one is simply forcing the other up. The result has been to leave the worker no better ofl in terms of real wealth than he was to start with. The movement has had a second disastrous effect to which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) continues to refer. The plight of that unfortunate section of the community that consists of pensioners and others on fixed incomes, and those who depend on returns from small investments, has become worse. Inflation has eaten into their savings and their means of livelihood. However, most important of all from a national point of view is the fact that increasing wages have forced us to price ourselves out of world markets. The position may have been all right when we had unlimited imports available from those huge London reserves that were built up by high wool prices; we benefited from that fortuitous set of circumstances. But the bubble must burst soon if, indeed, it has not already burst. We must either tie our basic wage to an index of production, or make extraordinary efforts to increase productive efficiency. I believe that efficiency can be increased only if the Government, through its budget, gives some incentive to industry. There must be greater efficiency in production if we are to avoid a lengthening of working hours. We cannot overlook the fact that in that bastion of private enterprise to which I have referred, the United States of America, behind every worker stands eight mechanical horse-power, whereas behind every Australian worker there is only four mechanical horse-power. It is obvious that we need an increase of mechanical plant, but how* can we persuade entrepreneurs to install more industrial plant if we are to abolish initial depreciation concessions and prevent them from setting aside tax-free reserves for the replacement of obsolete machinery? By withholding such incentives we should compel our producers to remain behind in the march of technological development. What incentive is there to industrialists to install new plant when they know that if, in spite of the loss of concessions, they increase production, their profits will be subjected to confiscatory taxes? I believe that the Government has an opportunity in preparing a budget to take courageous action. If necessary, we should be prepared to live dangerously so that we can give much-needed incentive to this section of the community which alone, as I have said before, can lift this country out of the economic morass. If this country is to advance and we are to lay our hands on the brilliant future that is already within our grasp if we choose to seize it, we must give encouragement and a free rein to those tremendous sources of enthusiasm, enterprise and ability that are always inherent, although perhaps latent, in the free enterprise system. The Government’s great contribution will be to provide a climate in which private enterprise can grow and prosper. This can be done only by removing restrictions and -easing the burden <o£ -confiscatory taxation.
.- Apart from the fact that it is difficult to “believe that any one would have the effrontery in these times to extol the virtues of the worn-out and discredited laisser-faire doctrine, erstwhile supporters of this Government must find great irony in the attempt hy the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) :to convince the House ‘that this Administration is in favour of a free economy. Probably they could answer better than I could the question that is oft -everybody’s lips in view ‘of the promises on which honorable members opposite were elected: “Where is the free ‘economy that we were promised ? “ I gained the impression that the honora’b’le mem ber for Paterson was -whistling * to keep ‘up his courage rather than trying to convince his listeners. Most of his speech consisted of a defence of private enterprise, and I do not think I need make any further comment on that matter. His plea for a free economy will be regarded as a joke by people outside the Parliament, including some former supporters of this Government.
The Supply measures now before us reveal once again the fact that value continues to elude the fi. It is not astonishing that inflation has been the subject of more than one action by the Opposition which could be construed as a. motion of no confidence- in the Government. No opposition ever had confidence in -any government; but unquestionably the public of Australia has lost confidence in this Administration because of its failure to fulfil its promise to restore in £1 that had far -more purchasing power than has the £1 of to-day. It cannot be said that the Government has had insufficient time in which to act, nor can it be claimed that the ‘Government has failed -to act. It has acted an several important directions. For instance, its -failure to provide adequate finance for the building of war service homes has convinced many people (that it has virtually abandoned the ward service homes .scheme and there is some justification for such -a claim. The Government has acted also to reduce the land tax, particularly the commitments of wealthy land-owners The ‘Government panicked - and panic is .a very special’ kind of action - -because of the reduction of our sterling balances to approximately ,£300,0.00,000 and introduced import restrictions which could have been avoided had it chosen to act at the proper time. Unfortunately the Government allowed the situation to drift until nothing less than panic action seemed likely to prove effective. “The Government has entered into a battle with the States in relation to the allocation of loan funds. ‘Soon after this Administration was elected, it abolished capital issues control, but after considerable damage had been done to our economy it restored that control. It has a>r ranged with the representatives o’f primary producers a number of conferences that have proved abortive, and “has aroused the ire of those people ‘by the abolition of the averaging system that had “been applicable to the incomes of primary producers for tax purposes. Taking all those factors into consideration, I have not the slightest doubt that this Government has acted; but it has acted quite “wrongly and abortively in every instance; it has not possessed the confidence of the people “with whom “it has dealt.
In my speech this evening I wish to attach a particular -significance to the importance of confidence. The Government has almost invariably acted contrary to ‘the policy upon which it was elected in 1949 and again in 1951. It does not enjoy -the confidence of the people that .is essential to the establishment of a psychology which alone can assist to restore a balanced economy. If I were asked to name one important result that would follow a change of government, I should .say that it would be the establishment of -a psychology that would lead to the restoration of confidence.
The .Government has done little ‘more than speak ponderously on the subject of inflation. . Phrases such ‘as “ too .many pounds ave chasing too few commodities “ are recited so >often that ‘.the repetition becomes trite and irksome. The ‘Government should have explained to the electors the moaning and cause of inflation. The people, should have been told .that there is a lack of balance “between our primary, secondary and tertiary industries, and a preponderance of employment in the light manufacturing industries compared with the volume of employment fha.t is required .urgently in heavy basic industries. The Go vernment has ‘not attempted to make such .a declaration.
N[r. Hulme. - Of course it has.
– Trite phrases of the .kind that I have mentioned are the only declarations that have been made in order to -educate the public. Proof of the correctness of my statement is .afforded by the fact that, had the public been properly educated, investment would have been encouraged in the basic industries. Indeed, that would undoubtedly have .occurred to a large degree had not the Government almost criminally abandoned control of capital .issues. But the Government, metaphorically speaking, .has -set its muddling hand to the plough. Honorable members opposite realize that the people have withdrawn their -support :and that they must hang with the -Government. (Like .Mr. Micawber, they hope “that something will turn up before the moment of their annihilation arrives. Of .course, with them as with all gamblers, hope springs eternal in the human breast.; and the only slender hope that remains with them is that the economists “who have tendered advice will prove to have been correct. But economists, particularly professional economists, have not an enviable record. It has always been easier, to tender advice than it has been to .act.
From time to ‘time the economists have given most unpractical advice, such as the introduction of industrial conscription hi either the physical or the economic sense; but it is a different matter to transfer ‘labour from one kind of industry to another kind by democratic, politically acceptable means. It is >easy for the economists to suggest that uneconomic and non-essential industries should be closed. The problem is to determine the classes of industries that are. uneconomic and non-essential. It is simple for the economists, and even Government supporters, to tell <us .that we should eat less beef than we are eating, so that greater quantities “will be available for ‘export. It is popular to assert that there should be a greater volume of primary products for home ‘consumption and export, but it is not so easy to arrange for an increase of output, as the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture ‘(Mr. McEwen) has discovered. It is one thing to say that the only way in which to increase primary production is to raise the prices of primary commodities, and reduce the income tax payable by primary producers, so that they will be encouraged to increase output but quite a difficult proposition to achieve that end.
If all those incentives were tried, I assume that Government supporters would prefer that the economists should attempt to persuade the electors that, in the national interest, the .general public should pay higher prices for primary products. I should prefer the economists to tell the electors that the aged and invalid persons in the community should be brought closer to the brink of starvation than they are at the present time so that the prices of primary products might “be increased and the income tax payable by primary producers might be reduced. I should prefer :Le economists to attempt to persuade the electors that they should accept the principle that primary producers should be a privileged section of the community in respect of the payment of income tax.
Those suggestions for the .restoration of a balanced economy have been made to us from time to time by impractical economists. When such recommendations have not been given effect, the impracticable .economists - most of whom are in -agreement - as a last resort accuse the politician -of stupidity, and even worse, because he is unwilling to do other than his duty, which is to represent the people, translate into law the policy placed ‘before them at the last general election, and attempt to serve them as servants, not stand over them as masters. This unfortunate ‘Government has “ fallen for “ the economists”’ advice notwithstanding the fact that their recommendations have led it to act in a manner contrary to the policy upon which it was returned to office. So Government supporters are left with the slender hope that something will turn up to save them from political annihilation. They are in the position of the Duke of Wellington at Waterloo, when he said that he prayed for nightfall, or Blucher. That theme must run through the minds of Government supporters at the present time.
The Government was undoubtedly returned to the treasury-bench at the general election in 1949 on its promise to combat inflation. During that election campaign, it offered certain gifts to the people in order to gloss over the fact that it had no positive plan to overcome what it believed was not a satisfactory economy at that time. Members of the Government simply trusted to the future to provide an economist whose advice would enable them to place Australia on a supposedly firmer footing than that at the end of 1949. But the very offers of gifts that were made during the election campaign in that year have rebounded against the Government. The abolition of petrol rationing figured prominently among the pre-election promises of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). What is the result? The price of petrol is now so high that petrol is a luxury item, and motor transport must be curtailed. Endowment for the first child of a family under the age of sixteen years was another bribe in the general election campaign in 1949 ; and we now find that business houses are attempting to divert child endowment payments to purposes other than that for which endowment is intended. I suppose that it has not escaped the notice of Government supporters that child endowment “ specials “ are now a feature of newspaper advertisements on the days when endowment is payable. It seems to me that retail houses who advertise the “ specials “ have no better reason than the diversion of the money from the purpose for which it was intended merely to enrich those who already are too rich. That is one of the unsatisfactory aspects of our national life, and indicates a kind of immorality that is a spur to inflation.
I shall now refer to the callous indifference that has been shown by the Government to persons on fixed incomes. Social services payments have been raised, but not in proportion to the increase of the cost of living. The degree to which the cost of living has increased is apparent from the bill before the House. The costs of government departments have risen by many millions of pounds and the costs of age, invalid and service pensioners have risen, too. Just as departmental expenditure has risen, so has household expenditure risen. Yet no reasonable compensation has been offered to pensioners. At the very least the Government should have introduced a coupon system in order to assist age pensioners to meet the additional cost of living. Their plight is so terrible that, as has already been said, some action will have to be taken to remedy it unless there is to be a continuance of the complete injustice that obtains at the present time. The issuing of coupons in order to offset prices rises is not a novel proposition. Such coupons have been issued in other countries. Had such a system been instituted by the Government it would have provided it with a sharp reminder of the degree to which the cost of living has risen. It would probably have made the Government as sceptical as were the people of Victoria when it was announced that the cost of living had risen only by 3s. a week during the previous quarter.
But all these matters are merely incidental to inflation, which is still the main burden that is shouldered by the people. There is a lack of balance in the economic life of this country and there will be no halting of the inflationary spiral until such time as balance is restored. Until the Government decides upon a plan we shall be confronted by a series of panic-stricken moves as the lack of balance becomes apparent in one section of our economy or another. The Government panicked when sterling credits were reduced to £300,000,000. The restriction of imports is merely a temporary expedient. Sooner or later Australia’s position must be improved, although it will be necessary to increase our exports in order to improve it. A cursory survey of the position has convinced me that we must concentrate on the export of primary products because these are in short supply all over the world. In this connexion, there should be the closest co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. It is essential that both State and Australian governments shall have the confidence of primary producers. It is regrettable that up to the present time all appeals to primary producers have fallen on deaf ears.
– That is not true.
– Tes, it is. The meagre development that has been suggested by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) in his fiveyear plan is simply appalling, and nobody could possibly feel satisfied with what he promised after his conference with the representatives of primary producers. There is no evidence that the State governments have any confidence in the Australian Government. One cannot sit by and accept this position in an idle fashion. The States need money desperately for rural development and the extension of farming. In Victoria, 5,000 people are awaiting settlement on the land under schemes for the settlement of ex-servicemen. Young men who have been certificated at the expense of the Australian Government have not yet been provided with land and there has been no return for the expense to which the Commonwealth has been put in training these men.
At the Australian Loan Council the Premiers took the bit in their teeth and decided to try to raise £247,500,000 during the coming financial year, nothwithstanding the fact that the Commonwealth had contended that it was not advisable to try to raise more than about £185,000,000. Possibly, the decision of the Australian Loan Council was almost useless apart from the fact that it serves to stress that there should have been constant consultation between the State Treasurers and the Treasurer of the Commonwealth so that greater unanimity could have been achieved’ at the- Australian Loan Council meeting. It also stresses the fact that there ‘ is no 1 spirit of federation in being between the States- and the Common-‘ wealth. .The Commonwealth is in the box.:seat-:arid -it knows that, to a large extent, the loans that are floated will have to be underwritten by the Commonwealth. That is no excuse for lack of co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth. There should have been constant consultation between the State Ministers for Agriculture and the Commonwealth Minister for Commerce and Agriculture concerning agricultural development, which is so vital to our economy. Because this co-operation has been lacking there is an enormous lack of confidence between the States and the Commonwealth. The recent action on the part of the State Premiers might help to resuscitate the sense of responsibility the lack of which has been growing in State circles during the last two years. The .States may now succeed in raising the loan money that they require but some sense of that responsibility which is vital to good State government will survive as a result of the action that was taken by the States at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council. Most of the loans that the States need are required for essential development. In Victoria a number of contracts have been embarked upon, mainly with the object of extending irrigation and of increasing power for rural and industrial centres. In view of the difficulty that has been experienced in raising loans one is led to believe that many people have decided that it would be preferable to starve on the gold heap rather than hand over the gold in order to enlarge the output of the only wealth that is of any use. It seems that that position obtains when loan money is in short supply. That is a paradox, but it is no more of a paradox than is the position of the primary producers who fail to produce more because it is too profitable to produce. The excuse that they offer is that if they produce more their incomes will be so great that taxation will take away their additional profits. One can hardly believe that that can be any more than an excuse, because primary producers are not required to pay taxation at a higher rate than are other people in the community.
I do not feel gloomy about the present state of our primary producers becausefarmers who have had high returns during the last few years have used their money in an understandable fashion. They have improved the amenities in their homes and on their farms. When they have completed their improvements they will realize that to secure the same amount of money that they have been used to will necessitate more intensive cultivation of their properties. Therefore, out of what seems to be an evil may come some good. The soil of many of the farms, having been rested to a certain extent, will probably then be in a better state to produce more. Those who have invested their capital in stock may increase the production a head because there is a limit to the number of cows, for instance, that one person can tend with success.
Irrigation works should be extended, and the Government should use all its energy to ensure that all the land suitable to be irrigated shall be brought within the scope of irrigation schemes. The States, such as Victoria, that desire to increase production, should not be hampered by lack of government support. Whenever finance is needed to increase the production of electric power the Government should ensure that it shall be made available. Electric power il urgently required, not only in. industrial areas, but also in rural areas where many amenities operated by electricity are urgently required” in order that land settlement may be encouraged. If there is to be a steady and satisfactory rural development a.nd an increase of production in rural areas, it is necessary to have the closest co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States; and the best results can bc obtained only from such co-operation. Unless there is mutualconfidence between the States and the Commonwealth nothing very satisfactory can be expected, and that co-operation should be established immediately. Unless the poor relations existing between the Commonwealth and States are rectified our economy .can be very easily wrecked. If such co-operation is not forthcoming, then, if necessary, a general election should be held so that this vital confidence may be established by a Labour government.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have listened carefully to this debate, and. it appears that honorable members agree that the problems facing Australia to-day are how to overcome inflation, how to establish an adequate defence system, and how to increase primary and secondary production. There were three ways in which the Government could have acted in an attempt, to meet the challenge of our times. First, it could have allowed inflation to run wild. That would have been disastrous. Secondly, it could have adopted the Labour party’s principles of Commonwealth prices control, socialism, no defence and acquisition of property at the 1942 levels. That also would have been disastrous. Thirdly, it could have done as the Government is now doing, which is asking the people to produce more essential goods. To ensure that this shall be done a heavy sales tax is in operation to prevent the production of non-essential goods. By non-essentials I mean those things that are absolutely unnecessary, but I do not support the Government’s inclusion within the category of non-essentials of such items as refrigerators, washing machines-, and small radios. I believe that the Government policy is already having a beneficial effect and that this is apparent throughout Australia.
The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) made several statements with which I do not agree. He said that” there had never been any confidence in federal non-Labour governments. That is a very extravagant statement, because for the first 40 years of federation Labour held office for less than ten years. Up to the present time Labour has held office for a little more than sixteen years, compared with the 35 years that non-Labour governments have governed the country. Every man, woman and school child knows that during, the first 40 years of federation this Commonwealth made its greatest progress, and. that during the period just after the last war, when we had prosperity without progress, the country was ruled by a Labour government. AH countries progress most in the time of their greatest, hardship.. Whenever a country has too’ much prosperity progress ceases. The time between the end of the last war and whew the- present Government assumed office was a time when the government of> the day lost its hold upon- affairs^ and inflation started, to gain momentum. When thus’ Government came to power inflation was a>bout to- break into a gallop. The allegations made by the honorable member f or Darebin have been, refuted; by the statement I have just made.- Several honorable men] bers opposite have made assertions during this debate thai; I must challenge. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom. Burke)’ said’ that this Government had taken away many benefits, that had been- enjoyed by primary producers, and he referred to the taxation) averaging system-. Figures1 supplied by tha Commissioner of Taxation show that at the- present time 87. per cent, of Australian primary producers are still fully covered- by the- averaging, system, 8 per cent, have a- modified advantage; and only 5- per cent, are not covered by the system, at all. This- 5 per cent, isrequired to- pay taxes like any nonprimary producer. The: 95 per cent, of primary producers who are covered com>pletely or partially by the averagingsystem can elect not to be- so covered if they desire-. When they next- submit taxation returns’ they will, have to indicate whether- or not they want to be assessed’ according to the averaging- system. Of course; they would be well advised’ to stay within- this system- while their incomesare higher- than their five-year- average; The next Clung- the honorable member for Perth said, was that the import restrictions should have been announced- in the Parliament. I do- not- know how hejustifies that statement. It is certainly not in accordance with the practice of theLabour Government, because when that Government decided to- nationalize the trading banks-,, no preliminary announcement was- made here; The- announcement was- made- by the then Prime- Ministeroutside the- Parliament.
– The policy was first announced 40’ years ago.
– It may have- been Labour policy;, but nothing, had previously been done to give- effect to that policy. The honorable member- also said’ that the; money collected under the wool sales’ deduction scheme; which, should properly have- been collected in- the following year, was expended in the year in which it was’ collected’. Most of that money was devotedto the paying- of the wai- gratuity. The Labour Government declared that there existed’ a fund for the payment of the war gratuity, and’ the public believed that all’ the present Government had to do, whenthe time- came to pay. the gratuity, was to’draw the* money out of the fund. Actually, there1 was no money in the fund at all1, and ft is sheer- nonsense for members of the Opposition to pretend otherwise.
The honorable member for Perth also declared’ that the Commonwealth should* control prices. We know that this plan is favoured by the Opposition because, if it were put into effect, it would be of great help- to a» Labour government in the introduction of socialism. Just recently, several members of the Opposition have, for the first time, come out into the open, and said that they are proud to belong to the socialist party. Hitherto, members of- the Australian Labour party have been reluctant to- declare themselves, and; asmatter of fact, only the new members havedone so. The older ‘ members, with greater” political experience, do not boast-‘ about their socialistic views, and I haveam idea that those who- have declared’ themselves may have reason to regret it’ at the next meeting of their party.
Many honorable members have sal( that there should be closer co-operation, between the States and the Commonwealth, and I agree with them. However, there can never be satisfactory relations between the Commonwealth and the States’ while the system of uniform income taxation) which was introduced duringthe war as’ a temporary measure, remains in force.- The Labour Government insisted on retaining the system, and it unfortunately appears that the present Government intends to do the same: I am strongly of opinion that we should’ hand’ back to the .States the right to collect income tax: The government which expends money should be responsible foiraising it. Under the present system, there is chaos when a State government, which has planned) and perhaps embarked’ upon, a programme of public works, including water conservation schemes; is unable to get enough money to carry the work through. There is a tendency for State governments to be irresponsible because the obligation does not rest upon them to raise the revenue that they expend. The taxpayers in a State may be relied upon to cheek the extravagant tendencies of a State government if that government is responsible for raising the money that it expends on public works. Some honorable members have said that the Commonwealth should make available to the States more money out of revenue. “Where, I ask them, is the money to come from? Do they suggest that taxes should be increased, or that we should draw further upon bank credit? Under the present system of uniform taxation, the States, and especially Victoria, are getting a raw deal. It would be better to restore to the States the sovereign right to collect their own revenue.
The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) favours the socialization of industry, and he declared that the building of Holden cars in Australia wa3 an encouraging development. Surely he does not connect the making of Holden ears with socialism. General MotorsHolden is one of the outstanding examples of private enterprise in the world. I have noticed, however, that members of the Australian Labour party attempt to gain praise from any one, even from the exponents of private enterprise, if they think it will help them in their march towards socialism.
I am always prepared to compliment a member of the Opposition if I think he is right, and the honorable member for Ballarat was certainly right when he expressed approval of the defence allocation. So far as I can recall, he is the only member of the Opposition who has expressed approval. Some members of the Opposition have condemned the Government’s defence proposals. I know that the honorable member for Ballarat has travelled about Australia inspecting defence preparations, and his opinion,’ as one who was formerly a high-ranking military officer, is to be respected. It was generous of him to pay tribute to the Government’s defence programme, and T appreciate his action.
The honorable member went on to saythat the Government intends to reducewages and prices. Of course it does; that is its declared policy. Some honorable members seem to believe that any reduction of wages, even though there should be a corresponding reduction of prices, would be the forerunner to a depression. As I have pointed out before, there is always an outcry from Labour organizations when the basic wage is raised. I am convinced that there will be even louder protests when the basic wage begins to go down because of falling costs.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) had a good deal to say about the way in which some trade unions have dealt with the Communists, but the implement which was used in their attack on the Communists was the secret ballot, provision for which was made in legislation introduced by the present Government, and no one is better aware of’ that than is the honorable member for Yarra. The Government gave the unionists the opportunity to vote without fear or favour, and they displaced many well-known Communists in favour of men who hold saner views. This movement has even spread into the political field, and various prominent members of the Labour party have ‘already been removed from their positions. Certain members of the Opposition in this House are very uneasy since sanity has returned to some of the important trade unions. The change has been very noticeable.
According to the honorable member for Yarra it was a lot of rot for the Prime Minister of Australia to go overseas in order to meet the Prime Minister of Great Britain. The honorable gentleman, incidentally, did not mention the fact that one purpose of the Prime Minister’s visit to the United Kingdom was to have an audience with Her Majesty the Queen. The honorable member argued that the Prime Minister of Great Britain should come to Australia. Evidently he has forgotten that the United Kingdom is the heart of the great British Empire and that conferences affecting the Empire or any of its member countries should bc held there. He said that the Prime Minister of Great Britain should have a look round Australia- and see for : himself’ the conditions here. I remind him that the Deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Anthony Eden, visited Australia not long ago. The Prime Minister I of Australia has visited the United States of America and has had talks with Mr. Black, the head of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Great protests were raised by the Labour party when Mr. Black came to Australia to have a look round, but the information that Mr. Black acquired in this country probably stood us in good stead during the recent negotiations in the United States of America. There appears to be no sound basis for any of the arguments of honorable members opposite, least of all for the arguments of the honorable member for Yarra. Their utterances are very confusing.
The honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) advocated a reduction of defence expenditure and quoted a reported statement by the Premier of Japan that Japan would not hasten to rearm but would first re-establish its internal economy. The honorable member said that Australia should follow the lead of Japan. I am astonished, after all that has been said in this chamber about the potential danger of a resurgent Japan, that a member of the Australian Labour party should urge, the Government to emulate the government of that country. The honorable member also blamed this Government for siltation in the rivers of Kew South “Wales, and said that he had ‘ seen thousands of cattle drowned in the silted rivers during the floods of 1949. Tn his enthusiasm, he forgot that a Labour government was in power in that year. In any case, erosion and siltation are matters for the State Government, which should get busy and remedy the condition of the rivers, because Australia cannot afford to lose thousands more cattle by drowning when already many thousands are dying as a result of drought in Northern Australia.
A complaint was made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) that immigrants who were placed on farms left the country districts after two years in order to seek easier jobs in the city. He is the first member of the Opposition I have heard admit that jobs in the cities are easier than jobs in primary industry. Immigrants soon learn, apparently, that life in the country is not always as easy as life in the city. Unfortunately, immigrants are not the only rural workers who seek easy jobs in the cities, and that fact gives rise to one of Australia’s greatest problems. When we get more people in the cities, we get more politicians from the cities in this Parliament. When the Labour Government decided to increase the numerical strength of this Parliament, it allotted thirteen new electoral divisions to Victoria, and thereby increased the total number for the State to 33. Of the thirteen additional electorates, eight were established in city areas. The concentration of electorates in city areas has an adverse effect upon the nation. Many representatives of metropolitan areas, while working efficiently on behalf of the electors they represent, overlook the national welfare and fight all the time for shorter hours and higher wages in secondary industries. The country is left to work out its salvation with fewer parliamentary representatives. Successive governments have underestimated the value of our great rural area.
– What has the Australian Country party been doing?
– That is a good question. The representatives of the Australian Country party in this Parliament fight night and day in the interests of the man on the land. They have consistently warned the Parliament against the dangerous trends that have led us into trouble and have repeatedly declared that the welfare of Australia depends upon primary production. Ninety-five per cent, of everything that has been built in this country has been built on primary production. That fact indicates where our best interests lie.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) said that all banks in New South Wales had been instructed by this Government not to lend money for housing. That is not true. A prospective house-builder is required to produce a permit from the State buildingcontrol authorities before he can obtain a bank loan. However, up to £3,500 may be advanced to finance the purchase of a building block -and the erection -on it -of a house to -be occupied .by -the borrower. Up to £3,000 may be advanced if the applicant already lias a block of land. A bank, -of course, is not obliged to lend ihe money, -but (this ‘Government does not :prevent it from doing so. The honorable member -does not seem to like the man on the land. He declared that the primary producer had to be subsidized in all sorts ‘of ways, including railway freight charges. Does the honorable member not know that the man on the land pays freight on all the goods that he sends to the cities and on farming machinery and everything else that he buys from -the cities? He certainly receives -no subsidy on railway freight charges.
Before T conclude my speech, I wish to .refer to several matters .that trouble me gravely. I have noticed that not one member of :the ‘Opposition has advocated a .reduction of government expenditure or of the number of public servants. In fact, when this Government announced its plan to reduce the number of public servants by 10;000, the Opposition attacked the decision by every means at its disposal. Although the Government has pruned the Public ‘Service by 12,000 employees, I believe that far too many persons are still employed by it. I believe also that any competent business man could make further reductions, after making a careful study of the various departments, -without impairing Public Service-efficiency. A reduction of government expenditure as a result of economies in the Public Service would be of great value to Australia. Ever since I became a member of this Parliament six ‘ years ago, government expenditure has been far too high. I am not discussing this matter on party political lines, because I consider that this Government as well as the former Labour Government has been at fault. This debate provides us with a suitable opportunity to discuss such matters. It would be of no use to wait for the budget to be introduced, because it would be too late then to persuade the Government to alter its plans. The reason for the silence of the Opposition on this . issue is apparent. Honorable members- opposite want as many people as possible to be dependent upon .government employment. They contend that officers discharged from the Public Service would not be able to find jobs elsewhere. If et they .say that these officars are highly efficient ! If that be so, they should have no difficulty in obtaining jobs with private enterprise, but when a man has been in the Public Service for a fair number of years he ceases to be able to work fruitfully in other callings, and when he goes out into the world again he is at a disadvantage. To be fair, that observation applies also to many men who have been members of Parliament for a long time. If such members should lose their seats they seem lost when they get out into the world again. A pensions fund has been established to ensure that such changes are cushioned. The more people in the community that a government can make dependent upon it, the greater is the degree of .socialism.
I am amazed that the waterside workers and seamen should want to maintain a ban on overtime, despite the fact that the working of overtime is financially beneficial to them. Furthermore, it speeds up the movement of shipping and assists Australia to 1 achieve greater prosperity. Recently, lust after good rains had fallen, I travelled through a part of my electorate at night. In many paddocks I saw tractors at work, with their headlights blazing, till 10 o’clock, 11 o’clock, and in some instances midnight. It has been known for them to work right round the clock. There is no suggestion that overtime on the farms should be banned. Farmers and their employees work on the job when it should be done. That is how the foundations of this country were established. I cannot understand how the Labour party, which has aspirations to again occupy the treasury-bench, can support the present attitude of the waterside workers and seamen, instead of assisting the Government to combat the current inflationary spiral. 1 hope that before long the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr, McEwen) -will introduce a new wheat stabilization scheme, with the cooperation of the “Wheat Growers Federation. I believe, that more thani ever before the wheat-growers- of this country, should favour the; continuance of, the fundfrom which, they/ could draw- if the. price of wheat declined. Many anomalies- irc Labour’s wheat, legislation should be- removed, and suggestions that have been advanced by the Wheat Growers Federation, should be im corporated in a new scheme, in. order to assist people who are engaged, in the industry should the price of. wheat fall, below the present, cost of. production, of wheat for export. Although many people, claim that’ there, is very little, danger of the. grice, of wheat declining to. such an extent, I point out that the- high export, prices of wool and wheat and other, commodities, that, we produce have resulted, from, the- United. States of” America, supplying large sums, df money to. European, and other court tries. There is no reason to believe that that policy will continue as liberally. A change, of government, of. the. United States of America,, following the. forthcoming, election, may have a marked effect on. the extent of. American aid to-. Europe..
This is; probably the last opportunity that I shall have- foi refer to- the subject, of taxation before the budget is introduced’.. Accordingly, I appeal: to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur. Fadden-) to.- reduce; taxation.: if this, be- possible-. The.- Govern. merit’s- policy is to- defeat inflation, beforeite reduces’ taxation, but I believe tha=t. if’ the 10 pen- cent, levy that was imposed, last yean were- removed^ the effect on. production would be most, satisfactory.. I advocate- strongly the removal’ of that levy.
, - I shall’ be unable,, in. the time at my disposal,, to refer to all’ of the conglomeration, of absurdities, mentioned by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull).. However, I should like the honorable member for Mallee to know that Labour did not criticize- the amount, of the defence vote, but. rather the’ stupid way* that the money so voted is being expended Doubtless’ this subject will! he dealt with exhaustively during- the. debate on thebudget.. The honorable, member also– castaspersions on; the Labour party’ because of its advocacy- of socialism-. Supporters’ of the Liberal party are’ apparently ashamed that only last week socialism’ was implemented in this’ House- by the present Government. Labour is not’ ashamed to admit that socialism is a- part of its platform.. Indeed, at the campaignfor the Liverpool State by-election last Saturday, Labour mentioned with pride the nationalization projects with whichit has been associated. As honorable members are aware, that by-election washeld to fill the vacancy in the StateParliament that was caused by the resignation of the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. M’cGirr. Labour’s previously unknown candidate succeeded in increasing- the- exPremier’s majority from 5,000 to 8,000.. It was noteworthy that the- Liberal candidate refrained, as far as possible, from telling- the people that he was at Liberal. Indeed, I am constantly at pains, personally, to- make it clear that; I am1 not a. Liberal pr an- Australian. Country party supporter, because- 1 am afraid’ of what might happen to me if the- people thought, that I belonged: to either, of: those parties..
– In- any event, the people would not believe the honorable member.
– They believed me on Saturday last.. If the purpose of the Supply Bill now before the House were t’o supply some value to the people of this country, I should be inclined to support: it.
Statements that have been made by supporters of the Government in relation to import restrictions, have contained a mass of contradictions. When it came to office this Government encouraged imports, which reached a record figure. Then, suddenly, that policy was reversed. Conflicting views, on this subject have been evinced by senior members of the Ministry. I remind’ honorable members5 that the drastic import restrictionswere announced within^ two days of the Parliament going into recess at the end of the last sessional period. Why should not the Parliament have been, kept in session to deal with such a-n important matter?- Of- course I realize the’ necessity- for care to. be taken to- ensure that a section of the people shall not: 1]awe an opportunity to exploit any change of government policy, but that is no., reason why the Parliament should not have had an opportunity to debate the subject fully. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated that the restriction of imports was in accordance with a decision that was taken by the finance Ministers at the conference that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden ) attended in London. No sooner had the right honorable gentleman made that statement, however, than it was contradicted by another member of the Government. The Treasurer said that the restrictions were necessary because of our adverse overseas trade balance. When that excuse had been given, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) made a statement upon the matter. Then the Prime Minister, in reply, offered another excuse for the restrictions. He said that the problem was not one of balancing trade country by country, and that the sterling bloc had to be considered as a unit. He declared that, even if we achieved a balance of trade with the United Kingdom and, at the same time, had adverse balances with France, Belgium and the Iron Curtain countries, including Czechoslovakia and Russia1, because we were importing too much Russian salmon and paper, the restrictions would have been necessary. He then dragged in the already defunct General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in au attempt to establish the alibi that Australia could not impose discriminatory restrictions, and that if it reduced its trade with Russia it had also to reduce its trade with the United Kingdom. All that comment was so much tomfoolery. lt should not have come from the responsible leader of a government whose first duty is to maintain the stability of the internal economy of the nation.
The Government chops and changes its policy so often, and with such lack of visible reason, that the whole of the community is losing confidence in it. Irresponsible and contradictory statements by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are disturbing the equilibrium of almost every public body in Australia, and are destroying the confidence of the people. In 1949, the people reposed overwhelming confidence in this Government, largely as the result of a policy speech delivered by the Prime Minister which was described as the best policy speech ever made in Australia. The right honorable gentleman then propounded a policy of great promise, but the record of this Government is one of broken promises..
I have before me some statistics in relation to our overseas trade balances that were published in the Statistical Bulletin, issued by the Commonwealth Bank. They show that in 1938-39 our overseas trade balance was £55,000,000;. in 1943-44, £182,000,000; in 1944-45, £208,000,000; in 1945-46, £215,000,000; in 1946-47, £320,000,000; in 1948-49, £451,000,000; and in 1949-50, £650,000,000. In 1950-51, the total reached the unprecedented level of £843,000,000. When the present import restrictions were imposed, our overseas trade balance was £351,000,000. In view of the level of our overseas trade balances over the years, the restrictions are too drastic. The decision to impose them was made when the Government was panic-stricken. Normal trade balances were, so to speak, thrown out of gear by unprecedented high wool prices. But it was obvious that those high prices would not be maintained, and that adjustments were inevitable. High wool prices alone increased our overseas trade balance tremendously. This year, because wool prices have dropped, our balance has been reduced to £351,000,000. It was known that a decrease of wool prices would reflect itself in our overseas trade balances. The decrease that occurred was expected. Therefore, there was no need for the Government to become panic-stricken and to introduce drastic restrictions with the object of reducing our expenditure upon imports from £1,200,000,000 to £600,000,000. The repercussions of the drastic restrictions are being felt both in Australia and in Britain, where unemployment is occurring.
Some idea of the knock that British exporters have received as a result of Australian import restrictions is conveyed by a bulletin of the Empire Industries Association, England, which points out that, last year, Australia bought from the United Kingdom more than twice as much, as any other British Commonwealth country, £200,000,000 more than the United States of America, and more than any other four countries put together. Although we have a population of only a little more than 8,000,000 people, in 1951 we were Britain’s best customer. In fairness’ to Great Britain, our import restrictions should not have been so drastic. We are Great Britain’s best customer, and Great Britain is our best customer. It is dangerous for us to act in this way, because Great Britain could quite easily retaliate. The panic-stricken action of the Government has upset our relations with Great Britain, and the Prime Minister is now visiting that country, apparently with the object of trying to clear up the mess that has been made.
I turn now to taxation. During the 1949 general election campaign, the present Government parties made tremendous promises about reductions of taxation. They said that, if they were returned to power, they would review the incidence of taxation, and would reduce direct and indirect taxes. The reverse has happened. Since 1949, direct taxes have increased by about £400,000,000 a year. In the field of indirect taxation, the revenue from the sales tax has increased from £19,000,000 to £117,000,000 a year, and revenue from excise duties has increased by about £35,000,000 a year. The Government has acted in a manner that contradicts completely the statement that the present Prime Minister made about taxation in 1949, when he was Leader of the Opposition. Recently, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), speaking in this chamber, said -
In opposition, the members of the Labour party attempt to shake the confidence of the people in the Government that is in office, and devote their attention to attempting to inspire distrust and to misleading the people, particularly the primary producers, about taxation. Either they do not know the facts of taxation, or they are recklessly attempting to mislead the Australian primary producers. The truth is that income tax rates to-day are very much lower than they were in the closing stages of the war. We had high production then, but now Labour speakers constantly urge that taxation rates are so high that they represent a disincentive to produce. Let me quote some figures relative to income tax. To-day, a taxpayer without dependants and with a taxable annual income of £500 pays £39 98. a year income tax. Under Labour rule, six or seven years ago, the man who now pays £39 9s. a year paid £136 a year on the same income . . Those are the facts of the rates of income tax, about which Labour speakers have attempted recklessly to mislead the people.
The Minister failed to state that in 1946-47 a man who had an income of £500 a year was drawing about £250 a year more than a man on the basic wage, and that to-day the basic wage is more than £500 a year. In order to make a proper comparison it is necessary to contrast the tax paid in 1946 by a basic wage-earner without dependents with that paid by a similar taxpayer to-day. In 1946, when the basic wage was approximately £300 per annum a basic wage worker who bad no dependents paid £13 2sv one with a wife paid £4 18s., one with a wife and one child paid 19s.. and one with a wife and two children paid no tax at all. To-day, a basic wageearner with no dependents pays £39 9s.. one with a wife pays £30, one with a wife and one child pays £20, and one with a wife and two children pays £14. Thus it will be seen that the Minister made untrue and reckless statements. I am at a loss to describe his action in so doing without transgressing the ethical code laid down by Mr. .Speaker. All I can say is that if a person makes an untrue statement the people know what that person is, and if honorable members know how they would describe him they know how I should describe the Minister if I were permitted to do so.
I propose now to deal with government loans. From time to time the Opposition has proposed motions of want of confidence in the Government, but unfortunately it has lacked the requisite numbers to carry them.
– We have the numbers outside the Parliament.
– That is so and the weight of those numbers will be felt when the people have an opportunity to pass judgment on the Government. The want of confidence of the people in this Government has been made manifest by the failure of the Government to fill its loans. All the loans floated by the Chifley Government were fully subscribed if not over subscribed. Before I cite the detailed figures relating to loans issued by the
Chifley Government I shall -read -another paragraph from the policy speech that was delivered .by the present Prime Minister prior to the ^general election in 1949. The right honorable gentleman said -
Over a period -of five years we shall -raise loans totalling £250;000;000, the interest and sinking fund on which will be provided out of the petrol tax. The amount to be raised and spent each year Will be conditioned by the availability of -men and materials. Its general administration will be under a National Works Council. The .wor-k will include feeder roads; soil conservation; the development of rural housing, embracing the construction of groups of workers’ homes in seasonal labour areas-; flood prevention; the provision of water, light and power; vermin and noxious weeds destruction.
Because of the Government’s failure to honour its .promise to institute flood prevention measures the leading Australian Country party member of the Kempsie County Council resigned his seat on that body. The following statement was also made in the 1949 .policy speech of the present Prime Minister : -
We will aim to improve carrying capacity, reduce costs, and increase productivity generally ….
We have in mind also the improvement of -transport, -water supply, and .porta, the review of the incidence of taxation in developmental areas, and the stimulation of the beef cattle industry by the improvement of transport by mil, road arid air. (Because of the loss of ^confidence of the people in this -Government, urgent works programmes of the States in the fields of hospitalization, education, water conservation, .electric light land power, and .housing, have had to be severely curtailed. Schools in .New .South Wales are totally inadequate to meet present requirements, and, because of .the shortage of funds, the State Government is .unable to provide for the expected 25 per cent, increase of students that will result from the arrival of new Australians and the natural increase o’f the -population. Because of the curtailment >of -loan -moneys, the States are unable to put in .hand urgent .water -conservation works necessary for the success of the food -production drive. The Premier :of New Sol*h Wales has .informed the Commonwealth that if he lis given sufficient money he can institute a .second irrigation ‘scheme in southern ‘Riverina, which –would enable the food -production of that :area >to be doubled. Last year, ..because of the lack (of funds, the New South Wales Government had to >cut its allocation for housing ir.om £14;.000,00.0 ito £8,000,0.00. Trans.port, -.power., said other important projects have ‘been retarded because of the lack of confidence of the people an this Government. All loans floated by the Chifley Government were fully subscribed or over subscribed. In ‘October., 1943, when that Government tasked the people ito subscribe a -cash loan of £125;000,000, the subscriptions totalled £126,000,000. In March, 1944, -the First Victory Loan of £150,000,-000 was- fully subscribed.
– :That was in war time.
– -That is so, hut the Chifley Governments record, in the years that followed the termination of the war, was equally as good. In September, 1944, it floated the Second Victory Loan of £100,000,000 and received subscriptions in cash totalling £107,300,000. In September, 1945, it floated the Fourth Victory Loan of £S5,000.,000, and received £87,200,000. In March, 1946, it floated the Security Loan of £70,0’00,’0’00, and received £78,500,000. In October, 1946, it floated the Second Security Loan of £80,000,000, and received £87;500,000. That record .clearly .demonstrates the great confidence of the people an the Chifley Administration. Let honorable members contrast the record of the Chifley Government in that respect with the record of the present Government. The greatest .condemnation of this Government’s administration is evidenced by the failure of the people to subscribe to its loans. .Last .year, .the Government wanted “£225,000,000 in loan moneys, hut the people subscribed only £75,000,000. This year .the States Tia-ve asked the Australian Government to raise £247,000,000. What will happen remains to be ‘seen, but, apparently, there -is no hope that the States will have -those loans filled until an election as held and this -Government is defeated. Possibly this is the worst “Government !that Australia has ever had.
.- The economy .of this .country has been the theme ‘of many speakers .in this debate. I wish to -concentrate ‘attention on the question .of ‘defence which has .a serious effect on the ^economy .and places a heavy burden on the taxpayers. I remind honorable members that the Government will spend £182,000,000 from income in this financial year on its defence projects. That is a little more than one-fifth of the year’s revenue. It is the largest sum that has ever been spent by Australia on defence in peace-time in one year. Obviously, the Government attaches great importance to defence. Some decisive move should be made now towards organizing civil air defence. Last week I referred to this matter in several questions which I addressed to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes). I asked whether the Government had considered the preparation of a policy of basic training in civil air defence and what it was doing to inform the people on the true facts relating to atomic warfare. I asked whether the Minister considered that grave public ignorance about the facts could create a feeling of helplessness which could be of a more serious national danger than the actual threat of atomic warfare. The Minister replied that for two years the Government had been giving a great deal of consideration to the matter. Various consultations had taken place and the Defence Council had obtained a number of appreciations of the position. Further, he said that a number of special representatives had been sent to England to be educated in civil air defence at a special training school and that those representatives had returned to Australia.
Having considered those answers, I believe that the time has arrived when the people should be taken fully into the confidence of the Government. They should be told the truth about atomic warfare, and should not be left to reach their own conclusions on that form of attack. Ignorance on the subject is creating a feeling which could give rise to helplessness. If it is true that the next war will be decided within the first month of its outbreak, the representatives who have been sent to England expressly to be educated in civil air defence should impart some of their knowledge to the people. Every other country, particularly Europe and the United States of America, have made great pro gress in air defence. Admittedly, Australia is in a better geographical position than they are. But it is foolhardy and dangerous to disregard civil air defence altogether, particularly in some of thi more vulnerable areas of Australia.
An organization which is closely associated with civil air defence is the Australian Bed Cross Society which isresponsible for the national blood transfusion service. In 1946, upon the demobilization of the armed forces, the Bed Cross Society accepted complete responsibility for blood services. Since then the services have been developed, and in an emergency, the society can provide blood and serum wherever it is required in Australia and its territories. The extent of the call which would be made on the society in time of war is indicated by civilian requirements in peace-time. In the past twelve months, the society has had to provide approximately 6,300 litres of serum and 35,000 litres of whole blood. To meet this commitment and to put by a reserve sufficient to cope with any foreseeablepeacetime disaster, the society has had to bleed 105,000 donors throughout Australia. That number representsfive military divisions. Their services have been required in peace-time.. Those figures may help honorable members to understand the tremendous responsibility that rests on the Bed Cross Society to provide a stockpile of blood derivatives which may be used in timeof national danger. Several years would be required to build up a stockpile sufficient to cope with an emergency such as that which would be created by an atomic attack on any one -of the largeAustralian cities. The cost to the society is very high. At present, the six Statesare carrying some of their responsibility. The cost to the society of the blood transfusion service is about £50,000 a year and it has become a severe financial strain on the society’s diminishing funds. Any increase would be beyond the society’s financial resources. I suggest .to the Government that it should ear-mark a portion of the defence vote for the work of the Bed Cross Society when it is consideringthe new budget. I recognize that all such costs have to be met by the Government from falling income, but this matter is- so important that it deserves the serious consideration of the Government and a portion of the defence vote could well be provided for the purpose. I do not know what progress has been made by the Government and the Australian Red Cross Society in organizing resources for the stockpiling of blood derivatives, but the matter is important. No public announcement has been made as to whether there is a close liaison between the Government and the Red Cross Society for this purpose.
Some time ago I had an opportunity to visit New Guinea and New Britain on the way to Manus Island, which is one of Australia’s most northerly defence posts. ‘ The free development of New Guinea and New Britain has been seriously neglected for many years, largely because of the policy that nothing should be done to encourage production in New Guinea because it would compete with Australian growers and producers. I am glad to learn that the Government intends to abandon that ridiculous policy and to encourage the production of basic foodstuffs in New Guinea. It is absurd that the Territory should be importing from Australia foodstuffs and cereals such as sugar and rice when it has the capacity to produce its own requirements of those products. The fact that New Guinea is now importing annually from Australia over £500,000 worth of rice indicates lack of balance particularly at a time when the Government is contemplating rationing rice in this country. New Guinea is capable of producing rice and other cereals much more easily than those products can be grown in Australia. Although sugar is difficult to obtain at certain seasons of the year, particularly in Victoria, New Guinea, which is capable of growing sugar, is now importing approximately £64,000 worth annually from Australia. The same observation applies to dairy products, particularly butter and cheese. In view of these facts, I am glad to learn that the Minister intends to encourage in every possible way the production of basic foodstuffs in New Guinea. I trust that he will be able to announce a plan also for the production of cocoa, fibres, peanuts and coffee in the territory and for the prefabrication of plywood there.
There is no necessity to remind the House of the importance of New Guinea in any scheme for the effective defence of Australia. However, it is disconcerting to learn that, at present, the strength of the armed forces in New Guinea consists of 200 whites, which is equivalent to only one-fifth of an infantry battalion. It is difficult to comprehend why the defence forces there were allowed to fall to such meagre proportions. The number of whites and natives at present under training represents only about half a battalion. That is the total strength of the territory’s defence forces which are spread from Port Moresby to Lae and Rabaul. Furthermore, the training of those forces is very limited, and they are ill-equipped. That is indeed a serious position having regard to the fact that New Guinea is one of our northerly defence outposts. When the recent war ended the strength of the defence forces there was approximately 3,000 trained natives, or the equivalent of three battalions; but the Labour Government permitted them to be disbanded, and effective steps have not yet been taken to restore them to their former strength. In this matter the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) might emulate the example that the naval authorities have provided at Manus Island, where remarkable progress has been made in the training of Papuans. I suggest that Papuans should be organized along similar lines as a part of the military forces in New Guinea. Those natives readily respond to discipline.
Manus Island is Australia’s most northerly defence outpost. Some time ago, honorable members were given the opportunity to visit the island to see at first hand the progress that has been made in restoring it as a base. Order is gradually being restored out of the chaos that was permitted to occur after the Chifley Government drove the Americans from that base in 1946 and allowed it to go to waste although at that time over £50,000,000 had been expended in establishing it. Unfortunately, considerable time and money will be needed to restore that base to its former standard when the Americans controlled it. In spite of the fact that the naval and air force authorities at Manus Island are doing remarkably good work, the Government can effect worthwhile economies there. At present, the Department of Territories and the Department of Works and Housing, as well as the Department of the Navy and the Department of Air, are operating independently at Manus Island. In these circumstances there is much wasteful duplication of administrative functions. That position should be remedied by placing Manus Island under the control of one authority. The base is definitely a service command and should be placed under service control. Worthwhile economies could be effected in that way. There is also much duplication in respect of the provision of necessaries and amenities. The fact that special privileges and higher wages are enjoyed by the civilian staff is a cause of much misunderstanding among service personnel. At the same time, it is comparatively difficult to enforce discipline among civilians. Such conditions constitute an embarrassment to both civilian and service personnel. Inevitably, maintenance expenditure at Manus Island must be very heavy. Having regard to the Pacific pact that was recently concluded between the United States of America, New Zealand, and Australia, the present is an opportune time for the Government to open negotiations with the American and New Zealand Governments with a view to persuading them to share the expenditure that will be involved in maintaining Manus Island as a base in the Pacific. Obviously, Manus Island is immeasurably of more value as a base to-day than it was in 1947-48; and in view of the fact that it is an asset to not only Australia but also the United States of America and New Zealand, this country could reasonably request the other two parties to the Pacific pact to share that expenditure.
I again urge the Government, when it is framing its budget for the ensuing year, to make provision as a part of its civil defence programme for assistance to the Australian Red Cross Society to enable it to establish adequate reserves of blood and blood, derivatives to meet any emergency that might arise. I also ask it to give greater consideration than it has already given to not only the production of basic foodstuffs in New Guinea but also defence preparations in Papua-New Guinea.
– This debate provides sufficient scope for the discussion of many problems. Yet, with few exceptions, honorable members opposite have used the debate for the purpose of attacking the Australian Labour party. That may be good tactics on their part, because I have no doubt that they are able to find little ground for real and genuine support of, the Government. In consequence, they have turned the debate into an almost unanimous attack upon the Opposition. Practically throughout the whole of the speech made by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) charges were made against the Opposition because of its criticism of the present Government, I .remind the honorable member, and other honorable members opposite that even during the last war, when Australia was fighting with its back to the wall, to use the words of the Prime Minister of that time, the Opposition of the day kept up a constant barrage of criticism against the Government which did so much for this country under the great leadership of the late Mr. Chifley. If the Australian Labour party has indulged in criticism of this Government, I suggest that it is because no government in the history of the Commonwealth has so deserved criticism.
The Government was elected to office on false premises. It was elected because a certain policy had been declared by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during the election campaign of 1949. Solemn pledges were made to the people that should the present Government parties be elected to office they would, amongst other things, reduce taxation, reduce the cost of living by putting value back into the £1, encourage decentralization of industry by means of a vigorous policy of development and the building up of inland towns, and provide real and permanent assistance to the gold-mining industry. Numerous other undertakings were given, none of which has been even attempted. If the accredited leader of a political party, knowing the position of the country as he should and must know it, goes before the electors and makes promises which he is unable to honour, T suggest that he is not playing the game.
If he is subjected to criticism because of his failure to honour such promises, he should not complain. The Opposition would be failing in its duty to the people if it did not repeat again and again the undertakings upon which thepresent: Government parties came to power. Never before have the people of Australia experienced such uncertain times. Day after day it becomes more and more evident that the Government is. unable to govern. It will be a good thing for the co.un try ‘when this Government is again obliged to approach the people for a mandate.
The present sessional period of this Parliament commenced on the 6th May. I think that it can reasonably be claimed by honorable members on both sides of the House that no other sessional period of the- Parliament has been as uninteresting as the present one. No worthwhile legislation has been introduced. Had it not been for the fact that honorable members on this side of the House have debated “ gap-filling “ legislation, the Government would have been faced by an empty business sheet more than two weeks ago. This has been a time-wasting session. Honorable members have been brought back to Canberra and asked to sit here day after day in order to deal with matters that could have been dealt with in a much shorter space of time. I know that often towards the end of a sessional period important measures are introduced during the last day or two and that the Government uses its majority to rush such legislation through.
– It is the fault of the Opposition if the passage of legislation is delayed.
– It is not the fault of the Opposition. Honorable members opposite cannot sidestep responsibility for wasting time by stating that it is the fault of the Opposition. In order to hoodwink the people and to make them believe that the Parliament is in session for the purpose of introducing useful legislation, honorable members find themselves dealing with what I term “ gap-filling “ legislation.
I wish to refer to the Government’s professed policy of decentralization of industry. When the present Minister for
External Affairs (Mr. Casey) was Minister for National Development, he- toured the country stating that the Government had a vigorous decentralization policy.
– It still has !
– Yes, and it will keep it where that policy has always been kept.. The right honorable gentleman stated that it was the intention of the Government to. build up the inland towns, to develop, the hinterland, and to make two blades: of grass grow where one grew previously. The people, of Geraldton to.-day refer te bini as “ Two-blade Casey “.
Primary production is of the greatest importance, both to this Parliament and to the country. With a vigorous policy of decentralization, much idle- land could quickly be turned into (productive land. At present, the local authorities are restricted by lack of finance. On more than one occasion I have referred to- large areas of light land in both the Esperance and Gerald ton-Mingenew districts that could readily be made productive. Those lands are lying idle because of lack of finance with which to develop them. I am prepared to do whatever I can in order to- bring about closer co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to developmental schemes. I want to see the land settled and the population increased. I want to see effect given to the vigorous policy about which the supporters of this Government have spoken. Recently, I discussed with the Minister for National. Development (Senator Spooner) the matter of cultivation of our light land. I received from him a sympathetic hearing and an undertaking that he would do what he could. However, I have a fair idea of what will be done. Also, recently I asked a question of the Prime Minister concerning the establishment of a deep-water port at Derby, which is most essential if the Kimberleys are to be developed. As I have said in this Parliament on more than one occasion, if we do not take steps to develop the Kimberley district, some one else will step in and develop it for us. The sooner we make some progress in such areas, the better it will be> not only for Western Australia, but also for the nation as a whole. The Prime Minister informed me that that matter was a State responsibility. I say that the task of developing the Kimberleys is beyond the resources of the Western Australian Government. The Commonwealth must assist. That is recognized by everybody who has any knowledge of our outback; but when the Premier of Western Australia sought Commonwealth financial assistance at the - last meeting of the Australian Loan Council, he was informed, as were all the other Premiers, that the States must reduce expenditure in order to stabilize our economy. When Labour relinquished office in this Parliament, the Australian economy was as sound as that of any other country. That was freely conceded by visiting representatives of large overseas business interests. Now, after a little more than two years of rule by the Menzies Government, Australia is verging on bankruptcy. I never tire of urging Commonwealth support for the development of the Kimberley region, because I believe that that area is of vital importance to this country. The land there is, in my opinion, equal to any in Australia, and we should take advantage of it. Reservoirs are needed on the Ord and Fitzroy Rivers and a deep water port is required at Black Rocks, Derby, or at some other site. Derby was recommended for this purpose by a Commonwealth and State committee, which recommended that a survey and investigation of the site be made; but the Australian Loan Council has now been told that because loans have failed there is no money for such projects. Loans did not fail when Labour was in office. In fact, they were oversubscribed. There is no less money in this country to-day than there was then, so why are loans being under-subscribed to-day? They are being under-subscribed because the investing public has no confidence in the Government. I repeat that the interests of this country could be best served by giving to the electors opportunities to return Labour to office.
Government supporters have cited figures purporting to show the number of houses that have been built since this Government came to office, but the true picture has not been fairly presented. When the Labour Government was elected in 1941, the Commonwealth had not even a semblance of a home-building organize tion. Even in the Australian Capital Territory, where the Commonwealth had complete authority, few homes were being built, with the result that workers would not come to Canberra. The Labour Government decided that the day of the eight by ten tent, the billy and the camp. fire had gone. We realized that if we wanted men to work in Canberra’s severe climate, we should have to provide them with decent living accommodation, and we did so. An efficient organization was established to build houses, not only in the Australian Capital Territory, but also in the Northern Territory and other parts of the Commonwealth. It was expanded under the able administration of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), and the former honorable member for Forrest, Mr. Lemmon. That organization was passed over to the present Government in perfect working order, and now honorable members opposite are seeking to take the credit for it.
A further undertaking given by the Prime Minister in his 1949 policy-speech, and one which no doubt secured him many votes in Western Australia, was that, because of the vital importance of gold-mining, “real and permanent assistance would be given to this great and valuable industry “. What has been done to fulfil that promise? Once again, I appeal for closer co-operation between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Western Australia in an endeavour to foster this industry which is of vital importance to Western Australia where it supports no less than 60,000 people. Assistance is urgently needed to tide the industry over this difficult period of1 rising costs. Last week, when moving the second reading of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) paid lip service to the Australian Workers Union; but in almost the next breath, he condemned the Labour movement, of which the Australian Workers Union is a vital and integral part. He said that the Labour movement had opposed the Government’s referendum proposal on communism. I say that had the Australian Workers Union not played its part in the fight against the iniquitous anti-Communist legislation, under which decent and honest citizens of this country could have been gaoled without a trial, it would have betrayed its pioneers. The Australian Workers Union has done more than all the Parliaments of this country to create a truly national sentiment. The union was founded by men big in stature and broad of vision, such as Ted Grayndler, Donald McDonald, Jack Barnes, W. G. Spence, Jack McNeil, Frank Lundie, Arthur Watts, Bill Dunstan and Clarrie Fallon. Those were the great men who founded a real Australian sentiment and handed it down to succeeding generations. No government has done more than has the Australian Workers Union to foster that sentiment. I deeply resent the attempts by Government supporters to associate this great movement with the Communist party. Its members have fought the Communists in every lane and by-way. What is the record of the non-Labour parties in the fight against the Communists? In the early days, when the tactics of the Communists were to refuse te join the Australian Workers Union, the bosses gave them jobs in preference to members of that union. The employers thought that, by so doing, they had an opportunity to break up that great movement. For years, the bosses supported the non-union policy and had Communists on the job. The Communists insulted the secretaries and organizers of the Australian Workers Union when they visited their members. I had personal experience of those insults, and I had to fight, not only the bosses, but also the Communists. The bosses stood side by side with the Communists. Then the Communists changed their tactics, took out union tickets and tried to get control of the organization. Still the trade union- movement fought them.
Members of the Australian Labour party opposed the referendum on .communism last year because we said then, as we say now, that this Government has sufficient power to enable it to deal with the Communists. But it has not the courage to use that power, as the preceding Labour Government used it against the Communists a few years ago. The insinuations made from time to time by
Government supporters against honest decent Labour men are unworthy. As the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) said this afternoon, the Labour movement has been defeated many times, but it always comes back, to fight again. It has never been obliged, for political reasons, to change its name. The anti-Labour parties have been known at various times as the Conservative party, the Nationalist party, the United Australia party, and now, of course, is known as the “ all wool and a yard wide “ Liberal party. But irrespective of the names under which the anti-Labour parties have passed over the years, they are at heart the old Conservative party which existed when I was a boy in knickerbockers. The trade union movement had its difficulties and problems’ in those times, and the workers will encounter similar difficulties in the future unless the Labour party is returned to office at the next general election to safeguard their interests.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 469), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages withou amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 471), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 471), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill he now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 472), on motion by Sir Arthur Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I should like to bring before the House and to the notice of the Government a complaint which I have received from a constituent concerning the operation of import restrictions. This letter is from the manager of J. P. Adamson Proprietary Limited, hat manufacturers, and it reads as follows: -
We are manufacturers of long standing in Mens and Womens hats. A very large percentage of our products are Mens and Womens High Grade Panama hats. The Mens Panama trade has made exceptional strides in the last five years and our products are sold in all states of the Commonwealth.
During the period between March and June we place considerable orders for Panama Hoods through recognised Selling Agents who get their supplies from the East. Although we had certain firm orders placed up to March 8th we are faced with a shortage of approximately 800 dozen Panama Hoods at an approximate value of £5,600 to cover confirmed orders placed with us by all the Leading Mens Stores and Warehouses in Australia.
Having no quota whatever for any oversea goods such as Textiles etcs., we cannot purchase stocks required as the quota for these hoods are in the name of our suppliers.
It has come to our notice that certain wholesale warehouses are transferring their clothing quota in Category B to their Millinery or Mens Hat Department, which means that these Departments can purchase through Agents the identical Panama hoods that we so badly need. The greater proportion of these wholesalers do not manufacture Mens Panamas, so that they are in a position of being able to buy hoods that are denied us, and sell them at aprofit.
The present cut of 80 per cent on our imports of Panama hoods will put us out of business in the Mens Panama section, immediately our meagre stocks are used. Our suppliers advise us that their quota of 20% will mean no further supplies for 2½ years.
In view of this anomaly we would like you to bring up the matter as a question in the’ House and endeavour to have a complete investigation of the manner in which Licences are being used to the disadvantage of reputable manufacturers such as ourselves.
We have built up an organization comprising technically skilled women and men in this special branch of our Industry and the future is a very black one for us unless we can get some relief immediately.
We would like to stress that while it is common knowledge that the country is heavily overstocked in clothing and piece goods the very opposite picture applies to Mens Panamas. We know from information gained by our representatives in all states that in February last stocks of Mens Panama hats in both wholesale and retail stores were never at a lower figure.
You will see by these remarks that it is a very serious matter to us and we ask that you do all in your power to endeavour to get us some immediate relief before irreparable damage is done to our business.
Many people are employed by this firm, which will be severely affected unless action can be taken to assist it. Consequently, I ask the Government to examine the matter and ascertain what can be done to remedy the position. If appropriate action is not taken, not only is the business likely to close down, but its employees are likely to lose their means of making a livelihood.
.- I wish to speak on the subject that has been raised by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue). Import restrictions appear to have been imposed by the Government without regard to humanitarianism, decency, or efficiency. Even though the two cases that I propose to bring to the attention of the House may delay honorable members, they are sufficiently serious to warrant the most careful consideration. Honorable members may know that artificial limbs are made in Australia. The main stems, thatis the legs and the arms for amputees, can be made successfully in this country, but artificial hands and feet must be imported from England or America; they are imported principally from England . As a result of the blanket-like nature of the restrictions that have been imposed by the Government, the importation of artificial hands and feet has been prohibited. As a consequence, single and double amputees have been deprived of a very necessary part of their equipment. That is one case. When honorable members have heard how the import restrictions have applied in the other case, I think that they will agree that it is time to call a halt in the application of the restrictions which have been applied without any common sense and are interfering with valuable human life. Because this matter is so important, I propose to read in full a letter that has been sent to me by a constituent. I have taken the precaution of checking his remarks and every one of them is completely correct. This letter is a human document which tells a story of travail which could have been alleviated if these stupid and ridiculous import restrictions had not been imposed by the Government. The letter is addressed to me from 39 Council-street, Clifton Hill, Victoria, and reads as follows: -
I desire to bring to your notice a choice piece of bungling and frustration on the part of the Department of Customs and Import. On the 22nd August, 1951, I was operated on at Royal Melbourne Hospital by Mr. Shaw for a growth of polyp at the junction of the trachea (windpipe) and aeosophagus (gullet). Mr. Shaw inserted a rubber tube up into the trachea and also a tracheaotomy tube, which is made of brass, into the lower part of the trachea. The rubber tube was to keep the trachea from caving in and the metal tube to breath through. Mr. Shaw at that time tried to get some special tubes for the throat from America to take the place of the rubber tube and so hasten recovery. They are called laryngeal core moulds. However, ho was unable to do this and later he fell sick and I was then under the care of his colleague, Mr. Swinburne. Mr. Swinburne happened to mention, on the 3rd January, 1952, he was still trying to get the laryngeal core . moulds but the hospital finance committee would notput the money up.I immediately offered the money and Mr. Mee of the Surgical Supply Depot told me it would cost £55.I handed him the money on 4th January, 1952, and he phoned Felton, Grimwale and Duerdins immediately and said he would send a confirming letter. One week later Mr. Mee informed me the permit had been granted for the dollar import. Time passed and I kept inquiring at surgical supplies re laryngeal core mouldsbut they had no information. On 21st April,1952, Mr. Shaw and Mr. Swinburne examined me and Mr. Swinburne informed me that if laryngeal core moulds did not arrive soon they would be no use. Next day I saw Mr. Mee and he told me the dollars had been paid but the firm in America . was the stumbling block. On6th May I saw Mr. Hughes of Red Cross, Swanston-street. He said that Red Cross couldn’t help to hurry laryngeal core moulds. He rang Felton, Grimwade, and I agreed to pay cost of cable to America re tubes. Estimated approximately £2. Mr. Shaw informed me on May 12th that Customs Export had refused to import tubes and he would have to go ahead with the co-operation of Mr. Rank (plastic surgeon). He also said that if the laryngeal core moulds arrived now they would not be much good. I received cheque for £55 from Royal Melbourne Hospital on 15th May. Mr. Shaw will operate on me next Wednesday, 28th May, and then hand me over to Mr. Rank to close outer opening in throat where rubber tube is, leaving tracheaotomy tube in for a few extra months. If you desire further information will you please contact Mr. Shaw, of 14 Parliament Place, City, or Royal Melbourne Hospital.
If honorable members on the Government side can laugh at a. matter like this, all that I can say is that they have little to laugh about. When the Government prevents the importation of medical supplies such as those to which I have referred, it is jeopardizing human life. In the matter that I have mentioned the Government is jeopardizing the life of a good Australian citizen. This case is only one of many, and they constitute an indictment of the Government. If the Government is prepared to allow this state of affairs to continue, it is pertinent to ask how far it will go in pursuing its misguided policy. I submit to the decent members of this House that the blanket prohibition of imports should be lifted in some directions so that items essential for the safeguarding of human life may be brought into this country.
.- On the motion for. the adjournment of this. House on the15th of this month I diverted the attention of the Government to the fact that more than a week previously I had made representations to the Department of Trade and Customs about the application of a Victorian firm to be allowed to import from the United. Kingdom reconditioned second-hand tractors, two of which they bad sold to farmers in my electorate. To-day is the 27th of this month, and I am still waiting for an answer from the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) or from, some other representative of the Government. This matter is of great importance. although it concerns only two- farmers at present.. The Government and its supporters have rightly asserted that food production is of prime importance at this time, and yet the Government and its Minister for Trade and Customs are so incompetent and bungling that they cannot, or will not, say yea or nay to- the simple question whether a business concern can import into Australia two second-hand tractors in, order to enable farmers to produce more food. I remind honorable members that such food will be used for the people of Australia and the people overseas, particularly those in the United Kingdom. I am a reasonable person,, and I do not normally delay this House on the motion for the adjournment., but when one- finds; that the Minister and the Government have adopted a policy so drastic in its operation, that the staff of the Department of Trade and Customs have been, completely overwhelmed by applications and rendered incapable of carrying out their duties because of their lack of numbers, one becomes rather heated.. If the Minister cannot decide within three or four weeks whether two reconditioned tractors, or more, should be brought from the United Kingdom then all human reason has been outraged. As the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) has said, human life has- been jeopardized,, although in a somewhat different way,, because people in many parts of the world are dependent on Australia for food.
I make an urgent appeal to the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) to contact the Minister for Trade and Customs- and to try to put some ginger into him so that he can provide the neces sary staff at the Department ox Trade and Customs to decide the question that I asked of them.. Apparently this is a minor matter to the Minister, but I assure* him. that it is not a minor matter to his officers, who are overwhelmed with work and are being ground into the earth by the great mass of applications that have been made to the department. Why does not the Minister work some overtime himself or provide more staff in his department? Why does be not issue instructions that machinery for agricultural production shall be allowed into Australia, without further hesitation, particularly when such machinery is from a sterling area?- Under the Chifley Administration a matter of this sort, however minor it might appear on the surface, was always dealt with promptly and an answer., whether yes or no, was given to the people concerned1. Although I speak with some heat, I implore the Acting Prime Minister to decide this important matter. One farmer who has bought a tractor ha3 three sons who are all under twenty years of age, and he has incurred an obligation to purchase another farm. He wants to cultivate that second farm by using the tractor that he has ordered, and he does not want to- pay £300 or £400- extra for a new one. I ask that something be done about this matter, and if something is not done more will be heard about it.
– I support the remarks- made by the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean), not that I have the least sympathy with the importation, of panania hats, but I do believe that essential medical stores should be allowed into, the country. In response to a letter written to me some time ago by a constituent, I wrote to the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) and asked him whether he could ensure that supplies of vitamin E would continue to enter Australia despite import restrictions. The quantity of this vitamin involved cannot be very large, but the substance is essential for the treatment of heart disease. I was astonished to receive this morning a. letter from the Minister which stated -
My officers are advising the Department of Trade and Customs concerning the essentiality and priorities in respect of drugs- so that as far as possible imports of the most essential drugs can be maintained. Nevertheless you will realize that the balance of payments must be implemented and that stocks of all lines of imported drugs cannot be maintained at the previous level.
I inform the right honorable gentleman that I realize nothing of the sort. Lifesaving drugs and .other medical supplies of that nature should have an overall priority. We are not a bankrupt nation ; we are a very wealthy nation. I can see the point of limiting a number of luxury goods, even such things as tractors, but in the matter of life-saving drugs there should be no restriction at all. Although I do not share in the criticisms of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) - who I know does the work of two men - or of the Department of Trade and Customs, which was most unfair, because the officers of that department have worked very hard to implement the Government’s policy, I do say that when a government imposes a blanket restriction of this nature it should immediately set to work to correct any anomalies such as that which I mentioned.
Two years ago when I was in hospital I had need of a drug which was difficult to get in Australia, and finally I got it from the United States of America. Had I waited to get it through the usual channels I would not have had the USE of it at all. Because of assistance of friends in the medical profession, I got it more or less illegally. I do not think that any citizen should have to do that. Any one who needs an essential drug should be able to get it, and I commend that view to the Government.
.- There is need for further elucidation of some matters arising out of a reply given to me by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in answer to a question this afternoon. The Minister, referring to the leakage to a Communist newspaper of the contents of a certain document in the possession of his department said that the newspaper had made certain’ comments on the document. I took it from his remarks that those comments indicated that the document had not been merely stolen or mislaid, but had been passed over to the newspaper by a departmental officer, together with some comments of his own. I waited for further elucidation of what was hinted at, but none was forthcoming. The Minister said that he was certain that the leakage was not from his own department. Then he corrected himself, and said he was certain that it had not come from any officer who was at present in his department. That raises the possibility that the Minister was hinting that the document had been handed over to the Communist newspaper by some officer who had recently left the Department of External Affairs. Can the Minister tell us the date of the draft to which he referred, and also the date upon which Dr. Burton ceased to be permanent head of the Department of External Affairs, with access to the document under discussion? In connexion with incidents of this kind there is always much doubt and difficulty, and we are faced with the position that we cannot clear the innocent without making efforts to convict the guilty. What the Minister said this afternoon has served to emphasize the paramount need to get Communists out of the Public Service. We know that there are Communists in the Service, but there is no machinery to get them out of it. So long as we are uncertain of their identity there must necessarily be suspicion, much of it unjustified, and much of it directed against innocent people. Unless greater efforts are made to convict the guilty many innocent persons will incur undeserved blame. I repeat that the incident underlines once again the paramount duty of the Government to take action to get Communists out of the Commonwealth Public Service and out of the defence forces.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar . (Mr. Wentworth) has referred again to the leakage of the contents of the draft of a treaty of commerce, friendship and navigation between the United States of America and Australia, and the publication of this material in the Communist newspaper Tribune. The honorable member has asked me for certain dates. I cannot give them with precision, but from my knowledge of the case, I can give the approximate dates. He asked me the date of the draft under discussion. Many drafts were prepared during the years preceding this incident. The latest draft, which was the subject of the article published in the Tribune in December, 1951, was prepared, I believe, in February, 1950. At any rate, I am sure it was prepared in the first quarter of 1950. That draft was different from previous drafts in some of the wording, and in it some of the articles and clauses were numbered differently. That particular draft was distinctly recognizable as the subject of the article in the Communist newspaper, and that was the draft which was circulated amongst some government departments during the first quarter of 1950. I speak from memory, hut I believe that it was made available to some four or five Commonwealth departments.
The honorable member then asked me the date on which Dr. Burton ceased to be secretary of the Department of External Affairs. Again, I cannot answer with complete precision, but it was about the middle of 1950. I do not want the inference to be drawn that I suspect Dr. Burton of being responsible for the leakage. I have been asked a question about the two relevant dates, and I say in fairness that I draw no particular inference from those d’ates. After all, it should be remembered that a period of about eighteen months elapsed between the first half of 1950 and the appearance of the article in the Tribune in December, 1951. This would appear to make it improbable, at least, that the gentleman in question had been responsible for the leakage; but the disturbing feature of the whole business is the fact that some senior public servant - because only senior public servants had access to the draft - has been so neglectful of his duties, to use the mildest term, or so treacherous to his country as to give the draft, with his own comments, to a Communist journal. The leakage itself was not such a serious matter, because the treaty was similar to others which the United States of America had negotiated with various countries.
– Then why try to make something serious of it?
– I am trying to point out that there are traitors in our midst. If that is of any interest to the honorable gentleman, let him make of it what he can. I repeat for the benefit of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who is not altogether uninterested in these matters, that there are traitors in our midst. If the honorable member can make capital out of that, he is welcome to do so.
– How can the Minister know who was responsible?
– We do not know. The inf ormation that has como to me in recent times, not only in respect of this matter, about which I know a little more than I can tell the House, but also about other matters, makes me wonder where the truth lies.
– Tell us all about it.
– I do not think that the honorable member would be too pleased if I did. There are traitors in our midst, and we are doing our best to discover them. As I said this morning, this matter has been under investigation for a number of months and certain facts have come to light. I shall say no more because, otherwise, the investigations, which are still proceeding, may be jeopardized. Honorable members opposite become very ticklish and upset-
– Order! The Minister should ignore interjections and should not invite them.
– I am endeavouring, with your kindly assistance, Mr. Speaker, to ignore them, but it is a little difficult to do so.
The subject of communism always brings the same comments from the other side of the House. The Government is accused from time to time of having charged the Labour party with having some connexion with communism. I think that honorable members opposite protest too much. We do not make these accusations; they seem to come from the Opposition. Furthermore, we may be excused, perhaps, for remembering that only a relatively few years ago we were told by the Labour government of the day that communism was just another political ideology and that, therefore, it would not be tackled by that Government with all the forces available to it. Now the situation has changed. Communism has become unpopular. Members of the Labour party have jumped on the band wagon of popular opinion, and nobody leaps to their feet to launch attacks against communism more readily than do our friends on the left - and “ on the left “ is right ! The Government is doing its utmost to uncover the nest of traitors that exists somewhere or other in the Public Service.
Mr. Clark interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for Darling must remain silent. His offence is aggravated by the fact that he is not sitting in his proper place.
– The Government is endeavouring to unearth this small but extremely dangerous nest of traitors that exists in the Public Service.
Members of the Opposition interjecting,
– Honorable members opposite may make light of this matter if they wish, but it is a national issue, not a party political matter.
Mr. Pollard interjecting,
-Order ! This matter was warmly debated last Tuesday night. It appears that tension is increasing and tempers are rising and I must insist that order be preserved. Any honorable gentlemen who are not prepared to listen quietly will not be allowed to listen at all.
– I am most grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for your protection. I need say no more. I have answered specific questions and, perhaps, have gone a little further in developing the matter. As I have said, I make no specific accusation, or, indeed, any accusation, against the gentleman who has been mentioned. I have merely mentioned certain dates and I think I have placed the matter fairly before honorable members.
.- It is only of recent date that we have heard about this alleged plot on the part of some so-called traitors, who, according to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), are eager to divulge information that may be of value to potential enemies of Australia. The Minister has admitted that the information that has been men tioned was not of very great value or importance. Evidently it has become important in the eyes of the Government only since Dr. Burton decided to become a member of a peace delegation overseas. This, in my opinion, is a cowardly attempt to smear Dr. Burton without giving him an opportunity to make any defence. The Minister and the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who raised the matter, have suggested by innuendo that certain information leaked through Dr. Burton . because they referred to the date on which he vacated the position of Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. When did the department first become aware that there had been a leak? When did the information first appear in the Tribune t Is it not a fact that this Government appointed Dr. Burton as High Commissioner for Australia in Ceylon after the alleged leak had taken place and after the information had appeared in the Tribune? It appears to me that the Minister must have been satisfied at that time that Dr. Burton was not the source of the leak because, otherwise, he would not have agreed to the appointment.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. It is a gross distortion-
– Order ! There is no point of order. The Minister may make a personal explanation later if he claims that he has been misrepresented.
– If a leak did occur, and if the Minister does not know who was responsible for the leak, why did he, in cowardly fashion, mention only the name of Dr. Burton ? He said that some senior public servant had been responsible for releasing the information. Why did he not mention the names of all highly placed public servants who might have been responsible for a. leakage, instead of mentioning only the one name? Personally, I believe that Dr. Burton would not be guilty of such an act as the honorable member for Mackellar and the Minister have suggested by innuendo.
They have merely attempted to make party political capital out of the matter. The honorable member for Mackellar wants to have a witch hunt in the Public Service such as occurred in the United
States of America. The Minister wants to have hounded out of the Public Service, not only all the mcn who admit that they are members of the Communist party, but any men who have advanced thoughts in relation to political affairs and who might be said to belong to the radical element in the community. He wants the Public Service to consist entirely of members or supporters of the Liberal party who subscribe to the policy of the Government of which he happens to be a member. The right honorable gentleman has said that inquiries are proceeding. I doubt whether that is so. I think that this is only a stunt, because a long time has elapsed since the alleged leakage occurred. The Minister has said that they are still proceeding merely because he wants to keep this cloud hanging over the head of Dr. Burton in the hope that some persons will believe that Dr. Burton was responsible for a leakage of information to the Communist party or that he is an undercover Communist. The Minister ought to tell us the reason for the delay. If the investigation has not yet established responsibility for the leakage, does he expect that it will succeed in doing so in the immediate future? Does he intend that the investigations ever shall be completed? I believe that this is merely a means of smearing Dr. Burton because, after he had occupied important positions in this country, he was selected as the endorsed Labour candidate for the electorate of Lowe. The Government is merely seeking to make party political capital for use at the next general election campaign. 1 1, wants to establish in the minds of the people a. belief that there is some connexion between the Labour party and the Communist organization when, in fact, it knows that there is no basis for any such suggestion. Therefore,, I invite the Minister, in fairness to Dr. Burton, to name the other high public servants who may have been responsible for any leakage, and to indicate to this House when he expects the investigation to be completed.
Mi. ANTHONY (Richmond- PostmasterGeneral and Minister for Civil Aviation) [11.38]. - The honorable member for Bast Sydney (Mr. Ward), who has charged this Government with the use; of smear tactics, is well qualified to judge what smear tactics are. He has asked, questions in. this House from time to time concerning individuals and firms, and has received replies that have been given with a great deal more courtesy than I think he is entitled to expect. All that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) did to-night was to reply to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who had asked him for certain dates in relation to the retirement from the Public Service of a former officer, and for other information. The Minister made a very moderate reply, in which he supplied the information that had been sought. Any honorable member would consider that he had the right to- expect such a reply in similar circumstances. The Minister also stated specifically that he did not link the reply with Dr. Burton, although Dr. Burton’s name had been mentioned by the honorable member for Mackellar. The honorable member for East Sydney, in an attempt to smear a lot of people, wants a lot of names mentioned in the House. That will not be done by this Government. When attempts are being made by the Government to discover the person or persons responsible for disclosing to outside sources, whether Communists or anybody else, certain information of a confidential nature, its action ought to have the support of every member of this House. It should not be attacked as it has been by the honorable member for East Sydney. It is a very serious thing indeed when a Minister of the Crown in charge of such a vitaldepartment as the Department of External Affairs is compelled to get up and say that there is- somebody handling these documents who cannot be trusted. The honorable member for East Sydney has implied that it is a very simple thing to discover the culprit. Everybody knows that it is a very difficult thing to put a hand on such people. The honorable member referred to the witch hunt that went on. in the United States of America, where it was, found that the right-hand mau of the late President Roosevelt was a member of the Communist party and had betrayed to Russia the secrets, of the
Department of State. That man was Alger Hiss, who was sentenced to five years’ penal servitude for perjury. That kind of thing happens in all governments. The traitor Fuchs. who betrayed the atomic secrets of Great Britain to Russia, is another example. They are here, there, and everywhere, and in the search for them the Government should receive assistance, not opposition from honorable member’s opposite.
– I rise to make a personal explanation.
-The Minister must confine himself strictly to the matters about which he claims to have been misrepresented.
– It was grossly unfair of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to state that Dr. Burton was sent to Ceylon as Australia’s High Commissioner after the leak was published in the Tribune in December, 1951. 1 must point out that that is wholly untrue, although that does not surprise me. Dr. Burton was sent to Ceylon many months before the statement was published in the Tribune.
– He left there after it happened.
– I am answering the charge that was made by the honorable member for East Sydney, who does not always count his facts in these matters and uses the truth with a great deal of economy when it suits him. I repeat that Dr. Burton was sent to Ceylon many months before the leak took place.
– The Minister implies that Dr. Burton was responsible for the leak.
– Not at all. I am merely answering the smear campaign of the honorable member for East Sydney.
.- I am glad that the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden) is present because I consider that it is time that an utterance was made by the Prime Minister or the Minister acting for him on the matter of discussions of security in this House. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) has very rightly said that it is the duty of the Opposition to co-operate with the Government in all security matters. It happens that I wish to interview the Acting Prime Minister on such a matter to-morrow, and that I have interviewed a former Prime Minister about security. But the question arises whether there can be any sincerity in any honorable member who raises a security matter in the House. It is perfectly obvious that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has contributed nothing to the security of this country by raising this matter publicly. By informing the world that the Government is making a close investigation of the matter, it is perfectly obvious that the Minister has contributed nothing to the security of the country, either. I think it is the duty of any honorable member who has any security information whatever to interview the Prime Minister privately, not to raise it in the House. If he raises it in the House there can be only one concern in his mind, that is publicity, not security. The question whether any public servant should be dismissed is quite irrelevant. There is a clear duty on the part of a Minister who does not trust, a man, not to put him into a confidential position. If he is thoroughly convinced of the man’s disloyalty, the Minister’s duty is to dismiss him. To announce in the House that investigations are taking place along certain lines can only have the effect of putting upon their guard the very people who are being pursued. I think it is time that the Prime Minister made a statement on security matters and debates on security matters in this House.
.- Both the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who asked the question that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) answered, and the Minister himself have endeavoured to smear Dr. Burton. That appears to have been the desire of Government supporters for quite a long time. I do not know Dr. Burton very well. Indeed, I did not know of his political affiliations until he, himself, expressed them publicly. I consider that it is fair to Dr. Burton to say that when he was relieved of his post at his own request the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Spender, made a statement on his behalf in the House.
As reported in Hansard, volume 208, at page 4387, Mr. Spender stated -
He informed me that he made a similar application to the preceding Administration, hut that he was unable to obtain the concession at that time by reason of pressure of work. I think that Dr. Burton has worked at very high pressure during and since the war. He has had eleven short, quick visits overseas, and, in addition, he has had the responsibility for three years of being the permanent head of the Department of Externa] Affairs. He made the request for leave of absence to me, and I acceded to it. I think that it is very proper that I should say that during the time that I have been associated with him as Minister, he has given me objective advice as well as I could expect from any permanent head.
Mr. Spender then stated that the post was filled after the expiration of Dr. Burton’s leave of absence. At the appropriate time the. responsible head of the department paid his tribute to Dr. Burton for the work that he had done. As the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has stated, since Dr. Burton announced his political affiliations, the whole tone of the Government’s attitude towards him has changed. Not only has he been attacked on various occasions, but this deliberate smear campaign appears to have emanated from responsible members of the Government.
.- I wish to raise the matter of the termination of the appointment of Mr. Charles Anderson, M.L.C., as a member of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Mr. Anderson was appointed to the commission in October, 1949, by the Chifley Government, following the death of Mr. Hanlon. He was subsequently re-appointed by the present Government in June, 1950, for a period of three years. He was in the course of fulfilling the term of his reappointment when, on the 14th May, he received the following letter from the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) : -
I asked Mr. Boyer, Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, to convey to you my intimation that your absence from two consecutive meetings of the Broadcasting Commission had rendered your seat on that board vacant in accordance with the terms of the Broadcasting Act.
I understood from Mr. Boyer, in a telephone conversation to-day, that you desired official intimation from myself, but I thought that the fact that such vacancies automatically occur as a result of such absences should be well known to you.
If you would desire to discuss the matter further with me, I would be pleased to afford you the opportunity of doing so.
Yours faithfully, H. L. Anthony,
Section 15 of the Broadcasting Act states -
A Commissioner shall be deemed to have vacated his office -
if he absents himself (except with leave granted by the GovernorGeneral) from all meetings of the Commission held during two consecutive months.
Mr. Anderson’s appointment as a member of the commission was terminated ostensibly on the ground that he had been absent from all meetings of the commission held during two consecutive months. The action of the Postmaster-General in giving effect to the provisions of section 15 (e) of the act is a glaring example of the arbitrary use of ministerial power.
Mr. Anderson gave his reasons for being absent from the meetings concerned. He stated that he was unable to attend the March meeting, which was held in Melbourne, because he was campaigning in the Lyne by-election, as part of his ordinary vocation. Incidentally, the PostmasterGeneral played a most unsuccessful part in that by-election. I am advised by Mr. Anderson that prior to the next meeting of the commission, which was held in April, he saw Mr. Boyer, the chairman of the commission, and indicated that, due to business reasons, he would be unable to attend the meeting. He would not have been able to attend in any event, owing to the sickness of his daughter. At a later date, she was an inmate for five weeks of a Sydney hospital with rheumatic fever. Mr. Boyer advised Mr. Anderson that he had contacted the Postmaster-General, and conveyed to him the fact that Mr. Anderson would not be present at the meeting. He said that the Minister had stated that Mr. Anderson’s absence would be quite in order, provided that subsequently Mr. Anderson wrote a tatter to him and asked formally ‘for leave of absence. Mr. Anderson wrote that letter, but the only letter that he received from the Postmaster-General was the one that .1 .read to .the .House just now.
The Postmaster-General must show thai .he has .mot -been guilty of violent personal bias against Mr. Anderson, because of Mr. Anderson’s activities in the political sphere. If the Minister reiterates ‘his previous statement that Mr. Anderson occupied too many other positions, and that his record of attendance was not satisfactory, let the honorable gentleman Jay on the table a statement ;of the full details of the attendance record -of every .other member of the commission. My information is that some members have been absent from more meetings than has Mr. Anderson, and that his record of attendance compares more than favorably with that of other members, who were appointed, to the commission by this and other governments.
Further, the Minister should indicate to the House whether., in his opinion, members of the commission should follow only one vocation. I know that at least some of the present members occupy .a number of positions in various walks of life. Let the Minister explain whether persons appointed to the commission in the future will be required to occuply only one position. ‘The honorable gentleman should state whether, in the past, the appointments of other members of the commission have been terminated on the grounds upon which Mr. Anderson’s appointment has been terminated. He should explain why he indicated to Mr. Boyer that it would be in order for Mr. Anderson to be absent from the April meeting, and then terminated his appointment on the ground of his absence from that and the previous meeting.
If the Minister challenged the ability of Mr. Anderson to perform his duties .as a member’ of the commission, let him explain why Mr. Anderson was re-appointed to the commission by this Government at the end of his first term of office. My .advice is that Mr. Anderson took an active interest in the activities of the commission and that, in that con- nexion, he <could be .compared ‘with other members -appointed during the period of office -.of this (Government and of its predecessors. The ‘Curtin Government and the Chifley Government adopted the practice >of re-appointing to the commission men .such as Mr. .Boyer -and Mr., now Sir John, Medley, who had been appointed by other governments. At no time did they terminate the appointment of a member of the commission on the -ground upon which Mr. Anderson’s appointment has been terminated. I .ask the Minister to say whether it 13 .a fact .that the words “Leave granted by the GovernorGeneral “ which appear in section 15 of the Broadcasting Act mean, in effect, leave granted by the PostmasterGeneral or by the .government of the day? If that be .so, would it not be reasonable to expect, when a member of the -commission had indicated that he was unable to be present at a meeting of the commission., that such leave would bp granted to him.?
The Postmaster-General is a nian of violent political hates who is biased against the Labour party and its supporters. He has constantly criticized members of the Labour movement who have been appointed to public positions. During the recent by-election in the Lyne division, when the Australian Country party’s majority was greatly reduced in what it had regarded .as a safe seat, Mi-. Anderson campaigned vigorously on behalf of the Labour party candidate. 1 submit that the Postmaster-General has “taken it out on him “ by terminating his appointment as a member of the commission. Mr. Anderson has been the victim of personal and political discrimination. I ask the Minister to lay on the .table the attendance record of all members of the commission, in order to show whether there has been any discrimination in this matter. Let him tei! the House whether any members of the commission have been absent from meetings, and have received his approval of their absence. Perhaps the honorable gentleman has side-tracked such matters, as he did when Mr. Anderson indicated ‘to him., through Mr. Boyer, that he would not be present at a meeting of the commission. Am investigation of this case must be made to determine whether the Minister has abused his powers and been guilty of gross personal bias against a member of the commission. The Minister must justify to this House his action in terminating Mr. Anderson’s appointment, particularly in view of the fact that this is the second occasion since his appointment as Postmaster-General on which the services of a Labour member of the commission have been terminated.. First, Mrs. Kent went. Now, Mr. Anderson has gone by the board. I believe that this is a straight-out case of personal discrimination against Mr. Anderson, and” one which requires the fullest investigation. Mr. Anderson has been too closely connected with the Postmaster-General in the political sphere for the honorable gentleman to pass over the charge that on this occasion he permitted his good judgment to go astray and terminated Mr. Anderson’s appointment on personal and political grounds.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I support the protest of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) about the ad-ministration of the Australian Broadcasting Act by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony). This is the second occasion on which the Minister has victimized a member of the Labour party. On the first occasion, Mrs. Ivy Kent was dismissed from the commission and was replaced by Dame Enid Lyons. It cannot be said of Mrs. Kent that she missed any meetings of the commission while she was a member. She attended every meeting. The Minister did not have the excuse that she missed even one meeting, but he got rid of her. She is a widow. She had been the woman member of the commission required by the act, from the time of the resignation of Mrs. Ernestine Hill, the authoress. She did a good job on the commission, but she was dismissed because she was a Labourite. Her place was taken by a former Liberal party member of the Parliament and a former Minister of this Government. It cannot be said that Dame Enid Lyons can give better service to the commission than did Mrs. Kent. Dame Enid Lyons is financially better situated , than is Mrs. Kent, but she got the job, and out went Mrs. Kent. I hate to mention these matters, because I like to be chivalrous. Dame Enid Lyons is filling the position at the moment, and I wish her well, but she should never have been appointed in place of a woman who filled that position equally as well as she is doing it. Mr. Anderson was reappointed by the Minister, .and later was removed by him because of a technical breach of provisions of the act. Mr. Anderson was absent from two meetings because the commission, instead of following its normal practice of holding meetings alternately in Sydney and Melbourne, held three meetings in succession in Melbourne, in ‘Order to suit the convenience of Dame Enid Lyons. Because Mr. Anderson missed two of the meetings in Melbourne, one of which was transferred to suit the convenience of another member of the commission, the PostmasterGeneral took a miserable advantage of the fact to get rid of Mr. Anderson. Now, the Minister is looking round to see whether he can get another member of the Labour party of New South Wales to take the job so that he can cover up the incident, and say, “I have not victimized the Labour party “. Irrespective of whom he may appoint to the commission, he has victimized Mr. Anderson, who did a good job while he was a member of the commission.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission has been established since 1932. The first commission consisted, as we should expect, of 100 per cent, tories. Some years later, the Broadcasting Committee under the chairmanship of Senator Gibson, laid the foundations of th» present Broadcasting Act. The Gibson Committee was an excellent one, and its recommendations were unanimously adopted by this Parliament; but by the time the Gibson Committee had made its report the Menzies Government which appointed it had passed into history, and it was left to the Curtin Government to implement the recommendations. We. appointed to the Australian Broadcasting Commissior* Mr. W. J. Cleary, as chairman, and Mr. R. J. F. Boyer, and Mr. Medley, now Sir John Medley, all of whom had been members of the earlier commission. We did not re-appoint Mrs. Couchman, but we did not replace her with a Labour woman. Mrs. Ernestine Hill filled her place, because the act required that we appoint one representative from each of five States, and obviously, two representatives could not be appointed from Victoria. For the same reason we could not appoint Mr. E. C. Rigby. The only Labour party representative whom we appointed was the late Mr. Foley, who became vice-president and a very distinguished member of the commission. Unfortunately, Mr. Foley died too early in life. We replaced him, in the first instance, with Mrs. Ivy Kent, and later we appointed Mr. E. R. Dawes, from South Australia. Undoubtedly, he, too, will be made to walk the plank by this Government.
No matter what excuses the Minister may offer for his discrimination against Labour men, the fact remains that Mr. Anderson has been the first person to be removed from the commission under any pretext by any government in the last 20 years. The Government has excused this action on the grounds that Mr. Anderson missed the meetings of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in two consecutive months. If this Government in conducting a witch hunt for Communists, it cannot be said that Mr. Anderson is a friend of the Communists. He is one of the most active anti-Communist3 in Australia. He is a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales and the organizing secretary of the Labour party in that State. He is a forthright, honest Australian, and his removal from the commission is a disgrace to the Minister, and a reflection upon the Parliament.
Mr. Anthony having risen to address the Chair,
– Order! The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) has already spoken on the motion before the Chair, which is, “ That the House do now adjourn “. It is not permissible for any honorable member to speak twice to that motion.
– I ask for leave to make a statement on the subject.
– by leave - The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and the honorable .member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) have tried to magnify a simple incident. The honorable member for Grayndler has. accused me of being the greatest hater of Labour who has ever sat in opposition within the House. It may, perhaps, be a proud title at some time, but if I were the greatest hater of Labour when I sat in opposition, I should have taken full advantage, when I became PostmasterGeneral, to get rid of Labour appointees to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The fact is that when Mr. Anderson’s term of office expired, and his possible re-appointment was discussed, I decided to re-appoint him. He could not have been removed from his office until June, 1953, if he had observed the law. The Broadcasting Act prescribes that a member of the commission shall be deemed to vacate his office if he does certain things. The act sets out quite a number of matters that disqualify a member from holding office, and they include a provision to the effect that a member who absents himself, except with leave granted by the GovernorGeneral, from all meetings of the commission held during two consecutive months,shall be automatically disqualified from holding office.
– Has any other member of the commission absented himself from meetings held during two consecutive months ?
– I shall answer the honorable member’s question in a moment. Mr. Anderson did not apply to me for leave, and I did not advise Mr. Boyer that Mr. Anderson would be given leave if he absented himself from meetings of the commission. I deny that I made such a statement. Mr. Anderson did not apply for leave until a month after he had disqualified himself from holding office. A second meeting from which he absented himself was held on the 7th and the 8th April last, but Mr. Anderson did not write to the chairman of the commission to explain his absence until the 5th May, when he set him the following letter : -
I desire to apologize for my absences from Commission meetings during the months of March and April.
Briefly, the reasons for my absences are -
That during March, I was absent from Sydney on the tour of the north coast, and due to the absence of the general secretary in April, I was appointed acting secretary, and found it impossible to leave Sydney at the time of the Commission meeting.
I regret any inconvenience caused.
Thus, not until a month later did Mr. Anderson ask for leave of absence. What could I do at that stage? Perhaps the learned member of the legal profession, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), will be able to get around the provision of the act which prescribes that a member of the commission shall automatically disqualify himself from holding office if he is absent without leave from all meetings of the commission during two consecutive months. Until the matter was brought to my notice, I had not known that Mr. Anderson had been absent without leave. I thereupon wrote him a letter, in which I told him that I assumed that he realized that he had disqualified himself and that he should come to me and talk the matter over. Thereupon, Mr. Anderson rushed to the press, and said that I had victimized him and that I had been guilty of political prejudice. Indeed, he did everything but acknowledge that he had committed any fault. He then endeavoured to involve other members of the commission whose record of attendances, he said, was worse than his. I went to the trouble of obtaining the details of the absences of other members of the commission. I traced records back to 1932 when the commission was formed. I did not find a single case in which a member had absented himself from two consecutive meetings without leave. Therefore, Mr. Anderson has only himself to blame for the situation in which he” finds himself.
– Some members of the commission have been away for six months.
– Yes, but they had leave. If a person wants to go overseas, as Mr. Boyer did eighteen months ago, I grant leave.
– Is Mr. Boyer overseas now ?
– No. If any member of the commission approaches me and asks for leave, it will be granted if the reasons that are given are reasonable. But since I have been Postmaster-General, not a single member of the commission has approached me for leave except Mr. Boyer. Not one application has been made. That is my answer to the honorable member’s question about the attendance of other members. Reference has been made to Mr. Anderson’s great record of attendance at commission meetings. In the twelve months ended last April, ten meetings of the commission were held. Mr. Anderson was present at six of them and absent from four. Mr. E. R. Dawes was present at nine meetings and absent from one. Mr. Boyer attended all ten meetings. Mrs. I. Kent retired in June, 1951.
– She was dismissed. She was sacked. She did not retire.
– Dame Enid Lyons attended seven meetings. That is all that were held in the period following her appointment. Sir John Medley, Mr. P. W. Nette and Mr. P. Vanthoff all attended nine meetings and were absent from one. Mr. Anderson was absent from four meetings, yet he dares to draw a comparison with the attendance of fellow members of the commission. It was improper of him to do so, but since he has invited the tabling of the figures, I submit them to honorable members. If Mr. Anderson wants to go back for a further period, I can produce the figures for the past two years. I had no desire to take any action in respect of Mr. Anderson’s membership of the commission. He would have continued as a member until June, 1953, if he had obeyed the law. He must have known the terms of the law. If he did not know them, he should not have been a commissioner for as long as he was one. The act leaves me no option. It is mandatory, according to the advice that I have been given, and I repeat the relevant clause, which reads -
A Commissioner shall be deemed to have vacated his office -
if he absents himself (except with leave granted by the GovernorGeneral) from all meetings of the Commission held during two consecutive months.
The act is expressed in the clearest terms. The fact that I re-appointed Mr. Anderson after his period of appointment by the Chifley Government had expired is sufficient answer to the charge that I victimized him.
– I do not inrend to go into the history of the matter that is before the House. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has dealt with it. I shall relate the happenings as they have been put to me. Mr. Anderson said that he telephoned the chairman of the commission, Mr. Boyer, before the meeting and asked for leave of absence to be granted to him. According to the honorable member for Grayndler, Mr. Boyer told Mr. Anderson that he had telephoned the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) about the matter. That is the suggestion. Perhaps the Minister did not get the message.
– The honorable mem- ber for’ Grayndler said that Mr. Boyer had stated that I gave Mr. Anderson leave.
– No. He did not do so. Tie said that Mr. Anderson telephoned M r. Boyer before the meeting, and according to the honorable member for Grayndler, and Mr. Anderson also, Mr. Boyer replied that he had telephoned the Postmaster-General. The Minister floes not deny that. I suggest to the Minister, that he should not get confused with technicalities. I invite him to examine section 7 of the act. He can give leave of absence to Mr. Anderson for the two months that are under discussion, and he can do it at any time if he wants to do so. The act does not state that the Minister has to grant leave before the event. A person could be ill or have an accident -and require such leave. The ‘act contemplates that the Governor-General, which means the Minister for this purpose, can give leave. If the Minister is acting in good faith in this matter, he can give Mr. Anderson the leave that he requires.
– Or re-appoint him.
– No, that is a different matter. The Minister can give him leave of absence for those two months. I put that to the Minister for his consideration.
1 12.16 a.m.]. - in reply - Several matters which relate to import licensing have been raised by honorable members, and as I represent the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’Sullivan), I should reply to them. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) read long extracts from a letter. I have read letters myself on occasions such as this, but I have always been certain of my facts, and I suggest to the honorable member for West Sydney that he should be certain of his facts also before he raises a matter in this House. The honorable member made no reference to the name of his informant. I suggest to him that he should establish contact with the Minister for Trade and Customs and if the matter can be adjusted, that will be done. If the honorable member states that the man has no quota, he knows full well that such a man who has a case and can establish that the commodity concerned is an essential one, will receive consideration. But if the honorable gentleman states that it is a question of trafficking in quotas - and he implied that that was so - he knows that there will always be persons who seek to get around quota control. It is of no use for thehonorable member to bring such matters into this House. He should take them to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who will have the statement that has been made by his informant investigated and will take necessary action.
The honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) should also go into a huddle with the Minister. If he does so. bo will get some information which will prevent him from wasting the time of the House and from making statements which a vp not in accord with the facts. I have much sympathy for persons involved in the case that he has raised, but when he tried to relate it to import control, the honorable member was completely out of his depth. In the first place, the honorable member said that artificial limbs were prohibited from importation. There is no prohibition on any part of artificial limbs. Therefore, his case on that point collapses. All medical accessories are allowed in freely under administrative regulations. No restrictions whatever are imposed upon them. I shall deal with that matter further when I come to the question of the importation of medical tubes from the United States of America. I want to bracket that matter with the subject that was raised by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). I assure the honorable member for Hoddle, and also the honorable member for Henty, who supported that honorable gentleman’s representations in this matter, that in every instance medical accessories are allowed in under regulation and that no restriction whatever is placed upon their admission. The following telegram was sent by the Minister for Trade and Customs to the Premier of Tasmania: -
Application for import licence covering drugs and medical supplies referred to in your letter 8th May has been approved. Collector of Customs “in Hobart has been advised accordingly.
In reply to the honorable member for Henty, I point out that the Department of Health has advised that vitamin E is manufactured and packed in Australia by a firm in Melbourne, and that there is no shortage of that preparation. On the contrary, it can be procured from any chemist. In any event, if a shortage of vitamin E did exist, no restriction would be imposed upon its importation. No restriction whatever is imposed upon the importation of life-saving drugs or medical supplies. Applications in respect of such items are a matter of administrative control and they are freely granted. I assure the honorable member for Hoddle that if the person who made representations to’ him had made his request in the correct manner it would have been granted.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) referred to the importation of reconditioned tractors. “Was the honor able gentleman referring to tractors of the heavy caterpillar type?
– I referred to agricultural tractors. One was a Ferguson machine and the other was a Massey Harris machine.
– Representations have been made by honorable members on both sides of the chamber that the Government should prohibit the importation of tractors because Australian production is in excess of the demand.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable member for Lalor launched an attack upon the Minister for Trade and Customs and his department. The honorable member was a Minister in the Chifley Government and he should know full well that the Department of Trade and Customs is under heavy pressure at present. He did not do himself justice when he attacked the department.
– I did not attack the department. I attacked the Minister for Trade and Customs. You are a liar.
– I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– Order ! What was the remark? I did not hear it.
– The honorable member for Lalor said that 1 was a liar.
– Order! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, and I ask that the Minister withdraw his statement that I attacked the Department of Trade and Customs.
– So you did.
– I did not. I said that the department was under heavy pressure.
-Order ! The honorable member is not entitled to ask the Minister to withdraw a statement of the kind to which he has taken exception. The honorable member will be entitled to make a personal explanation at the appropriate time.
– I am happy to accept the assurance by the honorable member for Lalor that he did not attack the Department of Trade and Customs. He has made the amende honourable, and I am happy that he has done so. However, he admits that he attacked the Minister for Trade and Customs. That Minister is working under very heavy pressure and is doing a remarkably good job. It surpasses my comprehension that the honorable member for Lalor should complain so bitterly that he has not obtained a decision in respect of the importation of two reconditioned tractors when the department is handling thousands of applications for import licences having regard to the fact that at the same time, honorable members of both sides of the chamber have made representations that the importation of tractors should be prohibited because, at present, Australian production is in excess of demand. I am forced to the conclusion that the honorable member is merely attempting to make party political capital out of this matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian National University Act - FinalReport of Interim Council, for period 1st January, 1950, to 30th June, 1950.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land, &c, acquired for-
Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Narrogin, Western Australia.
Defence purposes - Bullsbrook, Western Australia.
Postal purposes -
Carrawigara, South Australia.
Lowan Vale, South Australia.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority purposes - Cooma, New
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Defence Production - A. G. Jones, R. Pendlebury, R. J. Taylor, F. L. Wiegard, R. E. Willian.
Health - P. L. Bazeley.
National Development - M. A. Reynolds.
Supply- G. E. Barlow, D. Barnsley, B. S. Deegan, J. M. R. Frost, B. T. Gilroy, H. J. Higgs, R. G. Keats, M. S. Kirkpatrick, G. Lee, R. A. Leslie, P. V. Moran, R. J. Rockliff, A. Sharpe, K. D. Thomson, P. M. Twiss, R. H. Whitten, A. R. W. Wilson.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Determinations - 1952 -
No. 11 - Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australasia.
No. 12 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists’ and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 13 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 14 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists’ and Postal Clerks’ Union.
No. 15 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
No. 16 - Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 17 - Australian Workers’ Union.
No. 18 - Australian Workers’ Union and Boilermakers’ Society of Australia.
No. 19 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.
No. 20 - Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen.
No. 21 - Non-Official Postmaster’s Association of Australia
No. 22 - Repatriation Department Medical Officers’ Association.
No. 23 - Supervising Technicians’ Association, Postmaster-General’s Department.
No. 24 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 25 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia; and Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia.
Nos. 26 and 27 - Australian Workers’ Union.
No. 28 - Customs Officers’ Association of Australia (Fourth Division) and Printing Industry Employees’ Union of Australia.
No. 29 - Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen.
No. 30 - Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association.
No. 31 - Printing Industry Employees’ Union of Australia.
No. 32 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 33 - Australian Broadcasting Commission Senior Officers’ Association.
No. 34 - Actors and Announcers’ Equity Association of Australia.
No. 35 - Musicians’ Union of Australia,
No. 36 - Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
House adjourned at 12.24 a.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Mr. Clyde Cameron ashed the Treasurer, upon notice -
How .-many branches of the Commonwealth Bank were in existence at the end of the 1039-45 war and how many arc there at the present time?
y asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister acting for the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions areas follows : -
N asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
Z asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Royal Australian AIR Force.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Permanent Royal Australian Air Force bands will be located only at Royal Australian Air Force station Laverton, Victoria, and Richmond, New South Wales. The first band is in the process of forming at Laverton but it is anticipated that the second band will not form fur some time. It is not proposed to form a permanent band at Royal Australian Air Force station, Amberley,but when the two permanent bands are operating a non-commissioned officer will be made available, as required, to assistand instruct parttime bands which will still operate, on a voluntary basis, at certain stations, including Amberley. No establishment for a bandmaster or full-time musicians will be provided at Amberley. It is intended that the present non-commissioned officer in charge of the Amberley band will be posted to one of the two permanent bands in due course.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 May 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520527_reps_20_217/>.