20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) . took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
- Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) will make an apology.
– During the last two days until last night I was absent from this House. As you, Mr. Speaker, are probably aware, I was representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture at a conference in Queensland. I returned toCanberra last night and was in the building for a certain period during the evening. I refer to a matter which you raised in the House yesterday. You will recall-
– Order! I did not ask the honorable member to make a statement. I asked him to make an apology.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that prior to my appointment as parliamentary under-secretary, I was occupying a room in Parliament House which I shared with the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm). As it was necessary for me to have a single room in order to carry out my new duties, I approached a member of the House of Representatives staff, who subsequently wrote to you, as the Speaker, setting out my request. After a short time, as no reply had been received from you, you will recall that I telephoned you in South Australia. My understanding of the result of that conversation was that you would not provide a room for an undersecretary but that if I changed my accommodation with a private member, as a private member, then you would have no objection. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) agreed to change accommodation and the change-over was effected a few days before the new sessional period commenced and was, in fact, completed on Monday, the 4th August, 1952. The current period of the session opened on Wednesday, the 6th August, and on Thursday, the 7th August, in the briefest possible time, I approached you and advised you of the details of the change-over of accommodation. At that time I informed you that the title of Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture had been painted on the door of my new office. Mr. Speaker, at that time, you did not indicate that the title should be removed. Several honorable members will recall that I advised them of .this conversation at the time.
Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, you referred t’i articles that appeared in the Brisbane Courier-Mail of the 6th August and the 16th August. I saw those articles. The article of the 6th August was not a statement released by me. The wording of the article of the 16th August was not mine, but I had asked the Courier Mail representative in Canberra to correct the previous article in the light of the conversation that T had with you on the 7th August. I assure you that there was no thought in my mind - at any time, and there never will be - of a campaign of opposition to the Chair. You will admit, Mr. Speaker, that since I have been a member of the Parliament, I have at all times ‘ studiously observed the Standing Orders and parliamentary procedure. Mr. Speaker, it was not until I arrived in Queensland last Friday that I learned from press reports that you had ordered titles to be removed from the doors of rooms occupied by parliamentary undersecretaries. That naturally produced a feeling of irritation. One of the tele- grams associated with this matter was sent to Mr. Speaker on Saturday morning. I received no reply to that telegram, or to a later one, but I have subsequently learned of the full position regarding Mr. Speaker’s authority in the House, particularly in relation to the specific point in question. As my telegrams and the action associated with them arc not acceptable to you, Mr. Speaker, I express my regrets and make an unqualified withdrawal of, and apology for, the statements contained in the telegrams.
– I want to make it. perfectly clear to the House, as assembled, that, judging by certain actions which take . place from time to time and by certain press statements, altogether apart, from . the honorable member for Darling Downs, some honorable members seem to think that they have the right, in this House to trade rooms and furniture, to order the staff about, to make alterations, and all that sort of thing.. I want to make it perfectly clear that this building is public property, and that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is the custodian - the only custodian - of that property. He is tho only authority who has the right, in this part of the building, to allot, a room, to arrange for furniture, mid to command the staff as to what they shall or shall not do. 1 hope that in the future I shall not have cause to complain of certain things that have been going on in certain parts of the building, because [ propose in future to exercise my authority.
– Will the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration inform the House whether it is the practice for government immigration officers abroad to advise foreign workers that there is no difficulty in obtaining work in Australia? .If that is the practice, having regard to the fact that there is a large and growing army of unemployed persons in this country, and the obvious misrepresentation that is indulged in by Government officers to induce people to migrate to Autralia, will the Minister take immediate steps to ensure that, where they so desire, any unemployed men and women immigrants, and their families, shall be returned to their own country at the expense of the Commonwealth ?
– I do not know of the particular incident to which the honorable member has referred. I did see a report to the effect that an immigration officer - I think in Rome or Genoa or some place like that - had indicated that the employment situation in Australia was only temporary and that jobs would be available. I had an investigation made of that report and I am assured that no such statement was made. I agree with the honorable member’s contention that it would be wrong for immigration officers to make statements of that kind If the honorable member will bring to my notice some verified instance which shows that some such statement has been made I shall certainly have it dealt with. On the present information, I believe that no such statement was made.
– I should like to know from the Minister acting for the Minister for Immigration what the practice of the Department of Immigration is with respect to immigrants who are in residence in immigrant camps and are not working. Is it true that Italian immigrants in residence at Bonegilla were without either work or money for a period of six or seven weeks?
– To the best of my knowledge, it is not true that immigrants ar. Bonegilla were without either work or money. It is true that for some weeks jobs were not available for immigrants at that camp, and that some are still without jobs. I shall inquire into the matter and inform the honorable member of the result.
-Has the attention of the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to the possibility of a great number of people becoming unemployed as a result of the New South “Wales Government’s transport muddle? In view of the statement of Mr. Cahill, the Premier of New South Wales, that this is due to the Commonwealth having deprived the State of loan moneys, will the Minister make the position clear? Is it a fact that in the financial year just ended the New South
Wales Government lost nearly £6,000,000 on its transport operations, and that this mismanagement is the real reason why so many people in New South Wales are facing the loss of their jobs?
– I have been informed that staff retrenchments have been made by various transport undertakings in New South Wales. From published figures, I know that the New South Wales Government has incurred heavy losses upon its transport services. I know also that, in order to cover those losses, ii; has increased fares and freight charges. Undoubtedly, that has had a deterrent effort upon the full use of those services and, consequently, probably has affected the employment position. I shall cause’ further inquiries to be made to ascertain whether any further retrenchments are in view, and I shall give to the honorable member any information that I am able to obtain upon the matter.
– In view of the recent dismissals from the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, will the Minister for Defence Production assure the House that no further sackings will take place while the nation is in such urgent need of defence production? Is the right honorable gentleman prepared to make a full statement to the House on the future operations of Australian defence undertakings, with particular reference to the Commonwealthowned establishments ?
– The honorable member’s question relates to the dismissal of approximately 120 married women from the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. Those dismissals were due to the cancellation of commercial orders, which had been effectively carried out by the Small Arms Factory. This reduction necessitated a revision of the distribution of operatives who were used for the fulfilment of commercial orders, and operatives employed on defence orders. A review of the position rendered imperative an adjustment of certain surplus operatives as between defence and commercial work, and the rearrangement has resulted in the dismissal of some married women. No dismissals are contemplated in other government factories, other than are due to the normal turnover of labour. I shall consider the honorable gentleman’s suggestion that 1 make a statement on the overall position. If I find that such a statement should be made for the information of the House,’ I shall take the necessary action.
– Is the Minister acting for the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited dismissed hundreds of employees at its Granville works last week and contemplates putting off hundreds more in the near future? Is he aware that over 1,000 employees in the tyre manufacturing industry have been put off as a result of the falling off of orders? Has the Government any plans in mind to enable the industry to work at full capacity and thus enable it to re-employ dismissed employees as early as possible?
– I was not aware of ihe facts that the honorable member has stated. The Government is placing as many orders as possible with Australian industry in order to keep all factories working at full capacity. Such orders are being placed by the Minister for Defence Production and the Minister for Supply. That policy will be continued.
– Will the Prime Minister say whether the Government has under consideration at the present time any proposal or proposals that include the possible sale of shares in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited owned by the Commonwealth Government ?
– As honorable members know from announcements that were made a few months ago, the whole question of the’ relationship between the Commonwealth Government and the AngloUranian Oil Company in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited is at present under discussion between this Government and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. It would be premature, and I think improper, for me to make any statement about the matter when it is in the stage of negotiation of a somewhat confidential kind.
– I have been informed that reports have been received that foreign submarines have been sighted frequently in New Guinea waters. Has the Minister for the Navy any advice upon this matter that he can give to the House ?
– Many reports have been received about the sighting of submarines in New Guinea waters. Each report has been thoroughly investigated by the Department of the Navy. Not one of the reports has been verified. All of them have a very low reliability rating. I think it is fair to say that it is in the highest degree improbable that foreign submarines have, in fact, been operating in Australian territorial waters or in New Guinea territorial waters.
– In view of the welcome attention of the Minister for Territories ‘ to the development of the Northern Territory, I ask him whether he can now give the House any information regarding any proposals that are in train for the development of Darwin harbour. Will he, in addition, indicate the present condition of that harbour?
– When the Government took office it found Darwin harbour in a wholly decrepit state. I think that the reason for that was partly the destruction that was caused in war-time, but the condition of the harbour was due, to an even greater degree, to the fact that, during the four years subsequent to the cessation of hostilities, the previous Government had shown a much greater preference for planning than for performance. The position when we took office was that one jetty was in operation but was falling to pieces. There was in existence a blueprint of a very ambitious scheme. The choice that faced us was whether we should go on with the ambitious scheme, which would have taken perhaps fifteen or twenty years to complete, or do something immediately to ensure that Darwin would have at least one serviceable wharf within a short time. We chose the second alternative, and as a result of the action taken, which was very resolutely initiated by my predecessor and was continued during my own term of office this year, Darwin will have, before the end of this year, a berth at the so-called timber jetty. It has been reconditioned, and will guarantee berthage at Darwin for at least the next fifteen years. In the meantime, the town jetty, which had been neglected by the previous Government, is falling to pieces. Parts of it are dropping into the sea almost every week. However, we have at least a guarantee of one sound berth for some years to come. The position which we now face-
-Order ! The honorable gentleman is getting to the stage of making a statement.
– I conclude by answering the first point mentioned by the honorable, member for Mitchell by saying that the proposals that we have to consider at present are in two forms - either to add a further berth to the reconditioned timber jetty, or to commence a more comprehensive scheme. Finance and time will, of course, be factors to be considered in relation to both alternatives.
– Can the Minister say whether the Government has definitely abandoned plans for the construction of a new wharf at Darwin which the Public Works Committee in 1948 declared to be an urgent defence project as well as an urgent developmental measure? That committee consisted of members of all parties in the Parliament, including the present Minister for Supply
– The Government lias not made any decision about the abandonment of the plan for Darwin Harbour that was approved by the Public Works Committee. The position, as I think T explained in answer to an earlier question, was that we had to ensure that Darwin would not be left without a single berth. The only way to provide a single berth was to recondition the timber wharf at Darwin. If we had immediately gone ahead with a comprehensive plan, Darwin, as the result of previous neglect, would very quickly have been without a berth of any kind. The long-term plan for the building of a harbour at Darwin is still before the Government.
– I rise to ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on a matter of order. Some time ago you indicated that numbers of questions asked in the House without notice were properly matters that ought to go on the notice-paper. A number of honorable members have followed your advice and have put questions on the notice-paper, where they have remained unanswered for ‘some months, i ask you now whether it would be possible in future to show, in the margin of the notice-paper, beside questions on notice, the date on which each question was first asked?
– I shall consider the matter over the week-end and give the honorable member an answer next week.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Health relates to the hospital benefits scheme. Is a uniform agreement entered into with each State or are there variations in the arrangements made with the respective States? If there are such variations, are they suggested by the States or by the Commonwealth?
– Before the Minister for Health replies to the question, I point out that each day the House is in Committee of Supply and that many matters raised in questions without notice, particularly in the flood of questions directed to the Minister for Health yesterday, could be more effectively dealt, in the Committee of Supply than in answers to questions without notice.
– The agreement being made between the Commonwealth and the States is very simple and consists principally of two operative clauses, one of which states that the parties are prepared to enter into an agreement for a period of years, and the other that the State shall evolve a plan to increase hospital revenues which is acceptable to the Commonwealth. The five States that have agreed to negotiate new agreements with the Commonwealth have submitted separate plans that are acceptable to the Commonwealth. Initiation of the plans proposed in the agreement is a matter for the States.
– I address a question to the Minister for Supply. Is the Government contemplating the sale of the assets of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool, which a ro valued at approximately £5,000,000? Is the recent decision to increase by 100 per cent, the number of operators engaged on a weekly basis -a means of undermining the economic standing of this undertaking with a view to justifying the sale of its assets to private enterprise?
– I shall answer first the last part of the honorable members question. I am unaware of the matter to which lie refers, but I shall have that aspect of the question investigated immediately. The Government has given consideration to the future of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool. It is considering a proposal to distribute the valuable equipment of the undertaking among other governments and instrumentalities so as to ensure that the equipment is most efficiently used. I am unable off-hand to furnish further details of the proposal.
– I should like to make an explanation in connexion with the answer that I have given to the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, because my statement may have conveyed the impression that it is the intention of the Government that the assests of the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool shall be disposed of only to other governments. What the Government has in mind is that the opportunity to acquire the assets shall first be given to other governments and instrumentalities. Any assets which are not required by other governments and instrumentalities will be made available to the public, if the proper prices are forthcoming.
– Will the Minister for Social Services state whether it is a fact that, so far, no satisfactory tender has been received for the erection of nine war service homes on the Walsh estate at Albury? Is difficulty being experienced by the War Service Homes Division in letting contracts elsewhere, or only at Albury? If the division is experiencing difficulty in obtaining tenders elsewhere, how does the Minister reconcile that fact with the frequently repeated statement that there is a recession in the building trade? Is every possible step being taken to obtain a tender for the construction of these war service homes at Albury?
– It is true that we have had difficulty in’ inducing contractors to tender for homes in the vicinity of the Walsh estate.
– The department is such a poor payer !
– That is not true. We do not have the same difficulty in other places. The Walsh estate project has been made difficult by the fact that we have had to construct new roads. The tenders submitted for the construction of war service homes on that estate were, in our opinion, outrageous.- We then decided to ask one of the major builders in Australia to inquire into the position with a view to determining whether he could give us a .satisfactory price if we gave him a contract to build a number of dwellings. He investigated the situation and submitted his price, but in our opinion, his figure was at least 50 per cent too high. We then called for tenders for the erection of nine houses on the main roads of the estate, and again, most of the tenders were at least 50 per cent, too high. We have the greatest difficulty in getting builders to take these contracts in Albury,, and we have extended the period of a new call for tenders for building houses on this estate. Speaking from memory, I think that those tenders will close on the 16th September next. The honorable gentleman also referred to unemployment in the building industry. I suggest that if there is any substantial unemployment, this area is a good place for people to look for jobs, because we have not been able to obtain an adequate supply of labour there to date, although we have not had the same difficulty in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– Can the Minister for the Navy clarify the position of serving members of the Navy who, on entering the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, were required to repay to that fund amounts that they had received as accrued deferred pay for previously completed terms of service? Was there, in fact, some misinterpretation of the requirements for entry to this fund, and has this matter been resolved consequent upon a meeting last week of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund Board? I point out, by way of explanation, that one serving member on whose behalf I have made representations, is due to “ pay off “ in November after seventeen years’ service, and he has been placed at a disadvantage by the earlier ruling.
– Ever since I have been Minister for the Navy I have wrestled with this problem of whether deferred pay, due and payable to a member at the date on which the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act came into operation, should be paid to the rating or to the trust fund under the control of the Treasury.
– Who won the match?
– Within the course of the last few weeks, I have received, from the Attorney-General an opinion to the effect that if the moneys were legally due and payable, they were the property of the member and not of the Crown. The Treasury has concurred in that view, and I think that arrangements will be made during the next few days for the payment of the moneys. So far as I am- aware, that decision was the result, not of the action of the trustees of the fund, but of an opinion expressed by the Attorney-General and concurred in by the Treasury.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply been directed to a statement made from official sources’ in the Textile Workers Union to the effect that the placing by the Government of contracts for cotton cluck, flax canvas and other cotton piece goods with overseas firms implies that the Government is not sincere in its desire to give the utmost assistance to this most important industry? Can the Minister give to th«; House any information concerning overseas orders placed by the Department of Supply, and state whether this criticism is based on fact or whether it is merely inspired by political bias?
– I have not the actual figures relating to the matter about which the honorable member for Corio has asked, but I shall obtain them for him. I saw a statement that was issued by an official of the Textile Workers Union in which he attacked the Government for its alleged insincerity in connexion with the placing of textile orders.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Should not a question without notice be addressed to a Minister upon a subject over which he has control ? Has the Minister for Supply control over political bias?
Mi-. SPEAKER. - Order ! The honorable member has not raised a point of order.
– I have no control over political bias, but I have some knowledge about it.
– Order! The Minister must confine his answer to the matter contained in the question.
– In 1950-51 all sections of the textile industry in this country were very busy. That was the period during which the Government’s defence preparations were expanding particularly with respect to the national service training scheme under which trainees had to be clothed and tented. We called together representatives of the cotton section and other sections of the textile industry, and after consulting with them we placed with the industry, by tender and otherwise, the maximum orders that it was capable of supplying. Not until the full capacity of the Australian industry had been taken up did we place a single order abroad. The picture has now changed; the industry is seeking additional orders whilst the residue of orders that we were obliged to place overseas to meet our requirements as quickly as possible are now coming forward. One can quite understand the anxiety of the textile industry in this matter, but I repeat that the Government went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the capacity of the Australian industry was fully taken up before orders were placed overseas.
– Having regard to the unusually large volume of legislation that is to come before Parliament during the current sessional period, will the Treasurer give consideration to making the payment of the increase of the age and invalid pension by 7s. 6d. a week, which is totally inadequate, retrospective to the 1st July last, or to the date on which the budget was introduced? Will the Government also review this matter with a view to increasing the age and invalid pension by fi a week and thus saving this class of pensioners from starvation ?
– The subject of the honorable member’s question is one that could, be dealt with in the Committee of Supply.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is “ No “.
– Can the Minister for Social Services inform me of the number of age pensioners who are exrailway employees and are in receipt of superannuation pensions? Such information is required to enable the persons concerned to present the very just ‘case which they are now submitting to the Victorian Government for an increase of their superannuation pensions.
– I shall be pleased to obtain for the honorable member the number of railway superannuated employees who are in receipt of full or partial social services benefits, but my department would not have access to records to ascertain the total number of ex-railway employees in Victoria who arc receiving superannuation pensions.
– On the 22nd May last 1 asked the Treasurer a question concerning the payment of refunds of superannuation contributions to retired public servants who had returned to duty during the war years. The right honorable gentleman promised to provide me with a detailed reply, but I have not yet received a. reply. I referred to deductions from those refunds for the payment of tax. I cited the case of one officer who had been re-employed for about eight years. Although he was notified by the Superannuation Board that he would receive a refund of £1,038 12s. Id., he was subsequently informed that £270 had been deducted from that amount for the payment of income tax. I also mentioned the case of another officer-
– Order ! The honorable member should merely ask a question. He is now addressing himself to a matterthat he should raise in the Committee of Supply.
– I am reminding the Treasurer of certain facts. Is the right honorable gentleman likely to give consideration to the amount of tax that wasdeducted from these unfortunate people? Will they ever receive any relief from that impost?
– 1 remember the honorable member asking the question to which he has referred and I am surprised and disappointed that he has not received a satisfactory reply before now. I shall treat the matter as one of urgency.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that a complete staff reorganization is being effected at the repatriation hospital at Heidelberg and that the alterations proposed will involve the dismissal of almost the whole of the exservice male personnel employed aa clerical officers and their replacement by female assistants? When he becomes aware of these proposals, if he has not already been made aware of them, will be issue instructions to the Public Service Board that the employment of exservicemen at the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital shall be fully protected?
– The matter that the honorable member has raised comes under the control of the Minister for Repatriation who is represented in this chamber by the Minister for the Army.
– I shall be pleased to direct the attention of the Minister for Repatriation to the points that the honorable member has raised, and shall endeavour to obtain an answer for him as early as possible.
– I should like to clear up a matter which emerges from the question that has just been asked and which, I notice, emerged in another sitting last evening. The Public Service
Board and the persons who are directly employed by it come under my control, but the employment of certain persons in individual departments, such as the Department of Repatriation, is not the concern of the board. Certain people under the Public Service Board come under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister, but questions in relation to employment in the various departments should bo directed to the Ministers in charge of those departments. I just wanted to make that clear.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In Committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act. to authorize the raising of a loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and for purposes connected therewith.
Standing orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Sir Arthur Fadden and Mr. Eric J. Harrison do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Sir Arthur Fadden, and read a first time.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the borrowing of a sum of up to 50,000,000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, in accordance with the loan agreement that was concluded with the bank on8th July last. This is the second loan agreement that Australia has concluded with the International Bank. The first agreement, which was concluded on the 22nd August, 1950, was for an amount of 100,000,000 dollars. Rather more than two-thirds of the first loan has now been drawn, and drawings are expected to be completed during the first half of 1953. The new 50,000,000 dollar loan arranged last month will enable further import licences! for dollar capital goods to be issued as required, and it will thus ensure continuity in the supply of such goods through 1953 and into 1954. The full texts of the new loan agreement and the loan regulations appended to it are reproduced in the schedules to the bill. Honorable members will notice that the preamble to the loan agreement formally records the willingness in principle of the International Bank to continue its participation in the financing of the development of the Australian economy over a five-year period, and it puts the present loan in its perspective as one of a series designed to provide the dollar component of Australia’s capital goods requirements as needs arise year by year.
The Government em.barked upon this programme of dollar borrowing two years ago primarily to obtain additional dollars for purchasing vital types of equipment for developmental purposes in Australia. To suggest how valuable a contribution it has made and is still making to the progress of our economy, I need perhaps do no more than to cite the main categories of equipment for which import licences have been issued under the loan. They are -
Right from the time when it first took office the Government has placed the utmost importance upon securing for this country the maximum supplies of plant and equipment necessary to develop our resources and improve our facilities for production. The dollar shortage, which in various degrees of intensity, has been with us ever since the war, has been a major obstacle in this connexion because it has restricted severely our access to the great storehouses of production and technique available in the United States of America and Canada. By enabling us to obtain from the United States of America additional supplies of those types of equipment which cannot be procured elsewhere, the loan must be justified many times over by its ultimate results.
Following a preliminary mission to Australia by officers of the Internationa] Bank and a brief visit by the president of the bank, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) took up negotiations with the ba.uk during his recent visit to Washington and succeeded in reaching agreement with the bank for a further 50,000,000 dollar loan. This new loan is for a period of twenty years. Interest at 4f per cent, per annum will be payable half-yearly on the amount of the loan withdrawn and outstanding from time to time. This interest charge includes the 1 per cent, commission required by the Articles of Agreement of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the purpose of building up the reserves of the bank, in which, of course, Australia is a shareholder. A commitment charge of £ per cent, per annum will be payable half-yearly on the amount of the loan standing undrawn from time to time. This charge is to accrue from the effective date of the loan, oi front the 30th September, 1952, whichever ‘is earlier - unless some other date is fixed by agreement with the bank - until the respective dates on which amounts are withdrawn, that is to say, up to the ti rues at which we actually make drawings against the loan, and from which interest at the agreed rate becomes payable on the amount of such drawings.
Repayments of principal will not begin until after a deferment period of five years; the first principal repayment will fall due .on the 1st June, 1957. Payments of interest and principal will then bo made half-yearly in accordance with au amortization schedule on a fixed annuity basis. The final payment will fall due on the 1st December, 1972; Once cbe full amount of the loan has been withdrawn, interest payments during thedeferment period will amount to 2,375,000 dollars, or fA.1,060,000 per annum. From 1957 onwards, annual payments of interest and principal combined will amount to 4,497,000 dollars, or £A.2,008,000.
In general, the other clauses of the new loan agreement are similar to those that appeared in the 1950 loan agreement, which received the approval of the Housesit that time. On this occasion, thedevelopmental programmes which will’ be assisted by the dollar capital goods tobe imported under the loan have been described in greater detail, as honorablemembers will see if they turn to thesecond schedule of the agreement. The interest charge on the present loan, 4f per cent, for twenty years, is higher than the charge of 4^ per cent, for 25 yearswhich applied in the case of the 1950 loan. The reason why the International Bank has been obliged to raise interest charges on its more recent loans is that the bank itself has had to pay higher interest charges to raise funds to lend to its member countries. In the United States of America, as in most other countries, there has been a general upward movement of interest rates, and it is, of course, mainly by issuing bonds to American investorsthat the bank acquires the dollar funds required to continue its lending operations. However, the terms and conditions of the present loan to- Australia are in. line with those of recent International Rank loans to other countries. Interest and capital payments on this and our previous International Bank loan are well within our capacity to repay. The amount to be provided annually for thispurpose on our two loans from the bank will rise to a maximum of 11,853,000 dollars, or £A.5,291,000. These payments will completely retire the present loan bv 1972, and’ the previous 100.000,000 dollars loan will be paid off finally by 1975.
So far as operating procedures are concerned, there will be no difference between the present loan and the first International Bank loan. The Department of
Trade and Customs has already taken steps to notify importers of the types of goods eligible for licensing under the new loan, and interested manufacturers or importers should submit applications to nhat department. The individual importer “will not, of course, participate directly in the loan. Having secured a licence to import the goods under the loan procedures, the importer, whether a private firm or a government agency, will make payment for the goods to the oversows supplier through the normal channels. The dollars required to make the payments will be provided through the Australian banking system against payment in Australian currency in the usual way. Subsequently, documents showing that the goods have been purchased and shipped to Australia will be submitted through the Australian Consul-General’s office in New York to the International Bank in support of applications for drawings of an equivalent amount of dollars from the 50,000,000 dollars loan account to be opened by the bank in the name of the Commonwealth of Australia. As each drawing against the loan is made, the Consul-General will arrange lor the remittance of the funds to the credit of the Australian Government with the head office of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney. In effect, this will mean that the dollars will be transferred by the Government to the Commonwealth Bank in exchange for a credit in Australia of an equivalent amount in Australian currency. Thus, the dollar holdings of the Commonwealth Bank, which will initially have been depleted by the payments made for loan goods, will be replenished periodically.
As in the case of the first International Bank loan, it is intended to pay the Australian currency proceeds into the National Debt Sinking Fund. This is provided for in clause 6 of the bill. Clause 7 requires the National Debt Commission to meet repayments of principal to the International Bank as they fall due. In effect, therefore, the loan provides its own sinking fund. Payments of interest and other charges are to be met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This is provided for in clause 8. Clause 9 exempts this loan from certain provisions of the National Debt Sinking
Fund Act. This is necessary, because otherwise the Australian Government would be obliged’ to pay normal sinking fund contributions in addition to the Australian currency amounts paid in under clause 6.
I have already made a passing reference to the second schedule of the Loan Agreement, which is headed “Description of the Programmes “. In all, eight separate programmes are enumerated which, between them, cover the principal fields in which economic development is currently taking place in Australia. In the main, the programmes outlined are not directly the responsibility of the Australian Government. Some part of them will be carried out by Australian Government agencies but, in general, the developmental projects of which the programmes are made up are the responsibility either of States governments or of private enterprise. Most of the develop-, mental projects at present proceeding,, or in contemplation, in Australia, arebased primarily on local resources. Apart from labour and materials, Australia now manufactures a good deal of its own requirements of capital equipment. Thoraange of Australian production is, however, far from, complete, and must be supplemented by imports of capital goods from overseas. Much of the equipment required to be imported can be obtained from non-dollar sources, but there is an important residual range of capital goodswhich can be supplied within a reasonable period only from the great manufacturing centres in North America, and it is that sector of our requirements which the loan is designed to assist in financing.
I should like to make it clear, however, that dollar goods will not be licensed for importation against the loan if comparable goods are readily available from local or other non-dollar sources. Perhaps I should add that goods required for defence purposes also are not eligible for loan finance from the International Bank,, which is limited by its Charter to assisting normal economic development in its member countries. Although the precisegoods to be financed under the loan cannot as yet be itemized, a tentative allocation of the new 50,000,000 dollar loan among the eight programmes has been agreed with the International Bank. This tentative allocation, which may be varied from time to time by arrangement with the bank as the needs of importers emerge more clearly, is as follows : -
The fact that 17,000,000 dollars of the total of 50,000,000 dollars has been provisionally allocated for the agriculture and laud settlement programme is a reflection of the importance attached by the Government to the expansion of food production. The dollar equipment, the purchase of which is to be financed under the loan in order to increase the mechanization of existing farms and to develop new areas, will include wheel and crawler tractors, earth-moving equipment, ploughs, cultivation implements, harvesters, pick-up hay balers, side delivery hay rakes and forage harvesters. Much of the equipment needed for the expansion of our agricultural output can, of course, be obtained either from Australian manufacturers or from suppliers in the United Kingdom or other non-dollar countries. There are, however, tractors and other farm machinery of various types, for which we must look to the dollar area. The loan will ensure that our agricultural producers will not be hampered, in connexion with the expansion of their output, by lack of adequate supplies of essential dollar equipment.
The tentative allocation for the coalmining programme is 8,000,000 dollars, Imported equipment from the dollar area has played a large part in the recent improvement of coal output. Because of the substantial importations that have already taken place the demand for new dollar equipment for coal-mining has diminished, and it seems likely that the amount allocated will be adequate to meet demands over the next twelve to fifteen months.
The reason why the allocation of 1,000,000 dollars for the iron and steel programme is not larger is that our steel industry does not rely, to any major degree, on imports of equipment from the dollar area. Dollar equipment eligible for loan-financing under this programme includes components for iron and steel furnaces and rolling mills, locomotives, cranes, instruments and other associated equipment, designs and electrical equipment. The actual goods to be imported will, of course, depend upon the applications received from the interested companies after investigation of their availability from non-dollar sources.
The amount of 4,000,000 dollars provisionally allocated for the electric power programme may be used, as required, to import materials and equipment for power plants, sub-stations and distribution systems, and tractors and earthmoving equipment for hydro-electric works.
The 2,000,000 dollars tentatively set aside for the railways programme may be used to purchase diesel electric locomotives and other rolling stock, and components therefor; machine tools for railway workshops, rail maintenance machines and other like equipment; and equipment for the construction of new tracks.
The road transport programme, for which an amount of 7,000,000 dollars has been allocated, includes not only road construction and maintenance, but also additions to our fleet of commercial transport vehicles. Goods eligible for loan-financing under this programme include industrial tractors, earth-moving equipment, graders, spreaders, heavy road transport vehicles, and components for the assembly of heavy road transport vehicles.
The non-ferrous metals and industrial minerals programme embraces a wide range of developmental projects connected with the extraction of base metals such as lead, zinc, tin, copper and aluminium, and of minerals such as pyrites and asbestos. Although some of these are large-scale developments they depend only to a minor degree on imported dollar capital equipment, and the amount of 2,000,000 dollars tentatively allocated is likely to be adequate to meet essential needs for dollar goods in this field.
The industrial development programme is described in the loan agreement in very general terms only. A sum of 9,000,000 dollars has tentatively been allocated for it. This amount is intended to cover needs for essential dollar capital goods as they arise in connexion with projects developed by private enterprise in industries such as the manufacture of heavy chemicals, production of coal gas, petroleum refining, fabrication of nonferrous metals, manufacture and assembly of tractors and earth-moving equipment, food processing, engineering, and the manufacture of paper and paper-board and cement. The reason for this programme having been left in broad terms is that the developmental plans of private firms in the general field of secondary industry are, at any given point of time, in varying stages of formulation. It was agreed with the International Bank that it was desirable to provide flexibility within the loan agreement so that, as new needs for dollar capital goods emerge during the current import licensing year they may, by agree-, ment, be brought within the scope of the loan. As particular projects are approved for inclusion under the industrial development programme they will form sub-programmes, the dollar component of which will be eligible for loan-financing.
Every sector of the Australian economy will benefit either directly or indirectly, from the expansion of productive facilities which will result from the operations of this second loan agreement. The new lean will not, however, in any way remove the need for continued economy in connexion with dollar expenditure. As honorable members will know from recent statements made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the sterling area dollar position, although improved, remains precarious. The small sterling area dollar surplus recorded in July was achieved only because of the defence aid received by the United Kingdom from the United States of America, ‘ and sustained, efforts by all sterling countries are required to strengthen the position of sterling and to build up the gold and dollar reserves to a more satisfactory level. The loan will, however, provide us with a supplementary source of dollar finance ,that will be expended on improvement of the productive capacity of Australia. It cannot fail, therefore, to yield benefits of the utmost value to us, consequently I1 have the greatest pleasure and confidence in commending the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell), adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. ERIC J. Harrison) agreed to -
That, until the end of November next, unless otherwise ordered, the House shall meet for the despatch of business, in addition to the days fixed by Standing Order 38, on each Friday at 10.30 a.m.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 27th August (vide page 674).
Proposed vote, £2,016,000.
.- 1 propose to refer to the comments that were made last night upon this proposed vote, and to make my own observations in regard to the proposed, expenditure on Australia House, London. Ever since I can remember, which is many years ago, I have felt extremely sad about Australia House, because it appears to me that it hah never survived the fact that it is Australian territory situated in an island in the Strand in London. When we first approached the British authorities in connexion with the purchase of land on which to erect Australia House, they apparently put us in our place by selling to us land close to the Old Bailey. Perhaps that was meant to remind us of our early beginnings. Australia House has been a miserable failure from the outset. The reason for that fact is very hard to ascertain, but I have, several convictions abou t it, and I consider that the’ less money that is expended on it in these difficult times the better. By various means we have tried to make Australia House into a cocktail club, a social rendezvous, a hive of industry, a shop window for Australia, and the London centre of our immigration “ come-hither “ plan, and in all instances we have failed. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), who was, in his day, a very efficient Australian Resident
Minister in London, told us last night with a lilt in his voice that Australia House has black marble staircases, chromium plating and silver trimmings. It seemed from his description that this dull and dismal place has been transformed into a fairy palace. As we listened to him, we could envisage Cinderella tripping down the stairs and leaving her glass slipper for the right honorable gentleman to sigh over. Of course, Australia House is really just a white elephant which has nothing to do with Cinderella, and always has been a problem. Although it was most valiant of the Minister to attempt to brighten it up, it remains as it always has been. I am not impressed by the fact that there is a new foyer at Australia House, or that the poor old koalas which were exhibited there for twenty-five years were irreverently stolen, first by the Anzacs, and later by their sons in the Air Force during World War II., that in their place have been provided books for the public to read - very few of them Australian - and that the staff includes a charming hostess, Strella Wilson, who, if Australia had done the right thing by her, would be singing at Covent Garden instead of occupying such a position. I do not oppose Miss Wilson’s appointment to the position of hostess. On the contrary, I welcome it. I am sure that the former Resident Minister, now the VicePresident of the Executive Council attempted to do something worthwhile for Australia House during his period of office. Is Australia House worth persevering with? Should we not get a new concept of what it stands for? By all means let us have business offices in London where Australia’s business can be conducted, but for entertainment purposes let us rely upon the nearby Savoy Hotel. At a cocktail party which I attended at Australia House before the Vice-President of the Executive Council occupied the post of Resident Minister, all the Australians present were terribly self-conscious. Among the hundreds of Australians whom I knew, not one was brave enough to revert to their Australian accent. In their striped trousers and cut away coats they all were nervous. If they wanted to impress upon others in the party the importance of Australia and of the work that the staff of Australia House was doing, they failed miserably. Their speech had become so woefully anglicized that not one of them spoke in the idiom of his own country and no one was completely at home. It was difficult to find out anything about the work being done at Australia House. I learned later that the most comprehensive side of it wa8 done by the Bureau of News and Information, then under the control of the Department of Information. Every department seemed to be lost in the dim passages of the building. Old retainers” would take me along the vaults in an endeavour to find an officer with whom 1 could discuss the business with which I wished to deal. There seemed to be no zip in the place. Australia House was built at the wrong end of London, close to the Old Bailey, perhaps to remind us of what Kipling so quaintly called our “ bad beginnings “. We should do something worthwhile . at Australia House instead of wasting money there. The story told to us last night by the VicePresident of the Executive Council of the Canadian journalist who had been so swept off his feet by what he saw at Australia House that he recorded his impressions to the tune of a column or so of type made me wonder whether he had not come from Harrod’s or Selfridge’s or one of the other great department stores of London. Apart from the humorous aspect of this matter, it cannot be denied that a great deal of money is being expended on Australia House as also was the case in connexion with the very fine Australian official residence at Eaton Square.
Eric J. Harrison. - We have no official residence at Eaton Square.
– Wherever the official residence may be situated, it is certainly better than our former official residence, which was probably vacated before it was condemned by the British authorities. I am concerned not so much about the expenditure of a few pounds as about the ultimate result of that expenditure. Is Australia House to be a kind of tourist clearing house., is it to be a place of propaganda where people can learn the facts about Australia, or is it to be an unhappy combination of both? At present Australia House terrifies the ordinary, run-of-the-mill, Australian who visits it because he does not make there the warm contacts to which he is accustomed in his own country. When I was in London I was not fortunate enough to enjoy the hospitality of the former Resident Minister.
– It was very good.
– I am sure that the right honorable gentleman would he a charming host. However, I am more concerned about the money expended in publicizing this country and the results that we get from it. In these troublous times we must give some thought to the fact that expenditure on Australia House is increasing when it should be cut to the minimum. I do not suppose it will be possible to do anything about the stairways or the chandeliers. When I worked at Australia House as a member of the Advisory Committee on Migration I once had to wait for three days for a burnt out electric light globe to be replaced in my room. The old Englishman who finally brought the replacement globe delivered to me a lecture on extravagance. If improvements have in fact been effected at Australia House, that is all to the good, but cannot something be done to decide its true functions? Is it to be the great open sesame - the cavern of wonders - for tourists and visitors? Is it to- be a miniature reflection of the industries of Australia? Is it to be an immigration centre? Or is it to be merely a cocktail bar? Whatever- its role may be, there is wide scope for reducing the expenditure on it because it is not fulfilling its proper functions. No matter how brilliant our high commissioners may be, there still seems to be something wrong with the functioning of this shop window of ours in London. I shall oppose the provision of additional money for expenditure on Australia House until a thorough investigation has been made of its functions.
.- I propose to say a few words about the Public Service. I do not want my remarks to bc regarded as criticism of public servants, either as individuals or as officers of the Commonwealth, nor do I want public servants to regard my comments as reflecting in any way upon their integrity or ability. I merely wish to present some facts which I think should be considered by the Government. On several occasions in this chamber recently honorable members have said that management of business throughout Australia is lacking in efficiency because it is not using the most modern and efficient methods as a means of reducing costs. I look upon the Public Service of any country as the administrative side of what should be an efficient- business machine. I wonder whether it would not be possible for us to examine our own house in order to see whether the Public Service is being administered as efficiently as it should be administered. For many years, business firms which have engaged the services of efficiency experts to study the conduct of their businesses have been able to increase production by applying methods that had not previously occurred to their minds, although they had been conducting the businesses for years. It is probably true to say that a person who looks at a business from the outside can frequently detect, weaknesses that the persons who conduct the business have overlooked for years. I believe that it would be advantageous if the Public Service were examined by an outside body. It is quite likely that the whole Public Service needs reorganization, because I find it difficult to believe that the Public Service, which employs more than 200,000 persons, can function efficiently on a basis laid down in the early 1.920’s.
– There are also some traitors in the nest.
– I am not concerned with that aspect. I am merely concerned to ensure that the administrative side of the government of Australia shall be as efficient as possible.
– Does the honorable gentleman consider that the Public Service, is not efficient?
– Quite likely it is not so efficient as it should be. That is the point I am endeavouring to make. I realize that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is trying to bowl a “ curly one “ up to me, and I am sorry that I cannot help him by falling into the trap.
– The honorable gentleman could, if he wished to do so.
– It came too slowly off the pitch.
– I am aware that a special section of the Public Service Board stirs up various departments and that the Public Service is reorganized from time to time, but I consider that a review by an outside body is necessary. Such a body should have authority to mate recommendations direct to some one with authority to give effect to them. That person should not necessarily be an official of the Public Service Board.
– What about Mr. Justice Nicholas ?
– I do not suggest Mr. J Justice Nicholas, either. I mention these matters because I believe that they should be seriously considered, and I sincerely hope that the Government will heed my suggestions.
.- I support the criticism that has been levelled by ‘some of my colleagues against the extravagance and waste that occur at Australia House, in London. It appears to me that, a good deal of this expenditure is unnecessary. I agree that some of the work performed at Australia House is necessary, but a great deal of the time of some of the officials seems to be occupied in making the building a sort of rendezvous for socialites, who make pleasure trips from Australia to the United Kingdom. Australia. House does not appear to function so efficiently when inquiries are made there by working people. Since the. end of the last war, in any Australian girls have been able to save a few hundred pounds, and have travelled to the United Kingdom in the hope of “ working their way “ to various parts of the country. I have received a number of complaints to the effect that some of those girls, when they have sought assistance, from officials at Australia House to obtain employment in that establishment or elsewhere, have not been treated even with civility by members of f,he staff who have interviewed them. For the average person who travels from Australia to the United. Kingdom and needs assistance, Australia House is the last, place in which he can expect to receive help. Australia House is merely a kind of glorified club for socialites when they visit the United Kingdom, and Ministers who happen to be temporarily located there. Considerable sums are expended on the entertainment of such persons at the taxpayers’ expense. The number of employees at Australia House - 896 - appears somewhat excessive, and I should like some information about the functions that they fulfil. Nobody will quibble at the proper representation of Australia in Great Britain, provided the members of the staff are engaged upon services essential to the Australian community.
Another matter that I regard as of some importance, relates to the evasiveness of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in answering questions about the negotiations that are proceeding for the sacrifice of another Australian public asset - our investment in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. I realize that this Government claims to have been elected on a policy of encouraging private enterprise, but no direct mandate was obtained from the electors-
– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, whether the matter that is being discussed at the moment by the honorable member for East Sydney. (Mr. Ward) comes within the scope of the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department;
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order 1 I can do better by informing the. honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that he will not be in order in discussing Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited during the consideration of the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Will you assist me, Mr. Deputy Chairman, by naming the proposed vote under which my remark’s about Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited will be in order?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Yes, the proposed vote for the Department of National Development.
– I shall merely refer to the part that the Prime Minister plays an the negotiations, and not to the details of the proposal. The point which I emphasize is that he is regarded by Mr. Speaker as being in control of, or associated with, the negotiations, because an honorable member was permitted to address to the right honorable gentleman a question without notice on this subject.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney i.-; evading the ruling of the Chair. References to Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited will be in order when the Estimates for the Department of National I Development are under consideration.
– I am dealing with the answer that was given by the Prime Minister to a question without notice- -
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! That matter has nothing to do with the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department.
– 1 am dealing with the evasiveness of the Prime Minister about matters which obviously come within his control. Otherwise, Mr. Speaker would not have permitted an honorable member to address to the Prime Minister a question about Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited.
– The committee is now considering the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is showing a. contempt for the ruling of the Chair.
– I am merely directing attention to the practice adopted by the Prime Minister of refusing to give information.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to matters of administration. It is the last warning that I shall give to him.
– In deference to your ruling, Mr. Deputy Chairman, I shall have, to wait until the Estimates for the Department of National Development arc under consideration to raise this matter, which tha Prime Minister obviously does not want to have discussed publicly. I shall now refer to a question, upon notice, that I have addressed to the Prime Minister, and I hope that he will not i gain claim that the matter does not come within his jurisdiction. I have asked the right honorable gentleman to furnish certain information about the provision of motor cars for the Prime Minister and Ministers of the Crown, and I do not think that, if the. democratic form of government is to function efficiently, even , he should evade questions about public matters. . I have asked him for information about the facilities that are provided for motor car travel-
– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, whether the transport of the Prime Minister and Ministers comes within the scope of the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. The honorable member for East Sydney is deliberately evading the ruling of the Chair.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - I point out to the honorable member for East Sydney that the provision of motor cars for the Prime Minister and Ministers comes within the Estimates for the Department of the Interior or the Department of Supply.
– Very well. May I discuss the Nicholas report, which deals with the salaries and allowances of memburs of the Parliament? Is that within the scope of the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The committee is dealing with the administration of the Prime Minister’s Department.
– I understand that I shall bes in order in referring to the Nicholas report, because a question was asked earlier about the department-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! Reference to the Nicholas report should have been made when the Estimates for the Parliament were under consideration.
– Then the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, has been deliberately misled about this matter. I asked him to ascertain for me when I should be in order in discussing the Nicholas report. I assume that the honorable gentleman obtained his information from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison).
– No, he did not. That is a figment of the honorable member’s imagination.
– It would not be the first time that the Vice-President of the Executive Council had misled people. The honorable member for Melbourne informed me that the Nicholas report could be discussed, not under the Estimates for the Parliament, but under -the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. Now, when I attempt to discuss that report under the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, the Chair rules that I should have raised the matter when the Estimates for the Parliament were under consideration.
– To whom did Mr. Justice Nicholas submit his report %
– That is an important consideration.
Tha DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - My ruling still prevails. Reference to the Nicholas report should have been made when the Estimates for the Parliament were under consideration. I ask the honorable member for East Sydney not to attempt to evade my ruling.
– I am not trying to evade it. I am merely pointing out that the Government is evidently endeavouring to avoid a discussion of the Nicholas report.
– I rise to order. The ‘Chair is responsible for the conduct of the business of this committee, and the Government has nothing whatever to do with the forms of the House. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, to make that fact perfectly clear to the honorable member for East Sydney, who was formerly a Minister, but who does not seem to have learnt anything about parliamentary procedure and practice.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has raised a matter of policy, and I submit that on such a matter the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) must speak for the Government. The honorable member desires to refer to the report of the Nicholas committee. That report was submitted to the right honorable gentleman. Indeed, after receiving it, the Prime Minister made a statement of policy to the Parliament and, subsequently, the
Government introduced a measure to give effect to that committee’s recommendations. Therefore, the responsibility for speaking on behalf of the Government in the matter that the honorable member for East Sydney raised rests squarely upon the shoulders of the Prime Minister.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member for East Sydney should have raised the matter to which he wishes to refer when the Estimates for the Parliament were before the committee. I ask him to conform to my ruling.
– I shall revert to a matter that I mentioned “ earlier but which you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, ruled I was not entitled to discuss along certain lines. I refer to the travelling expenses of Ministers, including car expenses.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member may refer directly to expenditure under that heading.
– I addressed certain questions to the Prime Minister with the object of ascertaining whether cars were being used by Ministers to an unwarranted degree. I asked the right honorable gentleman -
What facilities for motor car travel are provided by the Commonwealth for the wives of Ministers, including the Prime Minister, for («) official business, and (6) non -official business?
The right honorable gentleman, instead of giving a frank and open reply to that question, said -
Facilities for motor travel provided for the wives of Ministers including the Prime Minister are those which were available to the wives of Ministers when the Labour Government, was formerly in office.
Obviously, that reply does not answer the question that I asked. I still want to know to what degree these facilities are being provided. I also asked the Prime Minister -
Was the cost of providing thi* service to the wives of Ministers taken into account by the committee presided over by Mr. Justice Nicholas when considering its recommendation regarding Ministerial allowances.
To that question, the right honorable gentleman replied -
I have no doubt that the committee presided over by Mr. Justice Nicholas took into account all proper and relevant matters before making its report.
So, we still do not know whether the Nicholas committee had. this matter before it when it made its recommendations with respect to the allowances to be paid to Ministers and members.
– Is the honorable membe r referring to the car with a crown?
– I understand that .a car with a crown, driven by a young man who is not a public servant, has been seen at the saleyards at Goulburn. I was not referring to the use of that car. As the people are entitled to know whether all the expenditure being incurred in respect of Ministerial ears is warranted, the Prime Minister should have given frank replies to the questions that I addressed to him. I admit that every facility should be made available to Ministers and members in order to enable them to carry out their normal duties and functions, but recipients of special privileges, if they are entitled, to them, should not be afraid to have them discussed in public. However, this Government hides behind an iron curtain, or a bamboo curtain, when it is asked to disclose the privileges that are being made available to Ministers and the cost of such privileges to the taxpayers. The attitude seems to exist in this place that so long as special privileges are shared out on all sides nobody will raise such matters in the public interest. I am concerned about the public interest. Therefore, when I address questions to the Prime Minister on such matters, I am entitled to expect frank and open replies.
Without attempting to get round your ruling, Mr. Deputy Chairman, with respect to Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, with which I intend to deal later, I direct attention to’ the Government’s activities generally in disposing of Commonwealth assets. I refer not to any particular asset but to the Government’s general policy in this matter. There can be no doubt that what the Government is doing is paying off interests outside the Parliament for support that they gave to the Government parties during the last general election campaign. It has not only been rumoured, but a report has also been published-
– I rise to order. The honorable member is now dealing with a matter of policy.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the Estimates before the Chair.
– What I was going to deal with particularly-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am sorry that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) had such bad luck in his attempt to discuss certain subjects. He made only one comment to which I wish to refer. He objected to the expenditure that is being incurred in respect of Australia House. According to him, entertainment on an extravagant scab is being provided at Australia House at present. Ultimately, that criticism must reflect upon the High Commissioner in London, but every one who knows Sir Thomas White will admit that whatever his weaknesses may be he would not indulge in extravagance on the scale that the honorable member has indicated. The honorable member referred to Australia House as a sort of rendezvous for socialites. I suspect that his real objection is that it is not a rendezvous for socialists; and I suggest to him and to others who espouse the socialist cause that it is not likely to be used for that purpose for a considerable time’ to come.
I wish to discuss the Australian National University, for which provision is made under those divisions of Miscellaneous Services for which the Prime Minister’s Department is responsible. Up to date, the Government has expended approximately £3,000,000 on the university. Last financial year the sum of £450,000, or nearly half a million, was provided for running expenses of the university and the sum of £913,000, or nearly £1,000,000, was expended on the construction of permanent buildings for that institution. Thus, during the last financial year the sum of nearly £1,500,000 was expended on the university. In view of the magnitude of that expenditure, it is time. that the Parliament gave some thought to this matter. I make it clear that, in general, I support the budget. At the same time, I believe it to be proper for Government members as well as’ other members to discuss the
Estimates on the basis of proper housekeeping arrangements. In the past, we have been rather lax in respect of a number of comparatively small items of expenditure. We have adopted the attitude that an expenditure of £1,000,000 is not of much consequence. I do not agree with this view. The number of taxpayers in this country is comparatively small, and an expenditure of £1.500,000 on any item, when assessed on a per capita basis, is quite a lot of money. We can also .examine such expenditure on a comparative basis. If we were to expend on the Citizen Military Forces - at present the Militia - anything like an additional £1,500,000 we should be sure of having available a volunteer army on which we could depend. We know very well that our universities, particularly in the great capital cities of Melbourne and Sydney, are in a desperate financial position.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member for Henty in order in discussing the finances of th” Australian National University?
– I rule that the honorable member is in order.
– But the Australian National University is Item 17 of Division No. 187, which forms a part of the proposed vote for Miscellaneous Services.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I have ruled that the honorable member is in order.
– It is not for me to comment, but Division No. 187 refers to Miscellaneous Services for which th, Prime Minister’s Department is responsible. I have already made passing reference to the financial position of other universities. Recently, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a number of questions in an attempt to obtain information about the way in which teaching is practised at the Australian National University, with particular reference to communism, to which this Government is unshakeably opposed. I am not interested in whether or not a professor at the Australian National University is a Communist, because there is nothing in the law against a person being a Communist. What does interest me very greatly is that a government of this complexion should authorize the expenditure of a large amount of the taxpayers’ money to subsidize the teaching or imparting of Communist ideas or ideals. I consider it to be perfectly proper that questions should be asked of the Prime Minister on this subject, and furthermore, that they should be answered.
– The right honorable gentleman should be here to answer questions about the proposed vote for his department.
– Over that I have no control, but I know what I want to say. When I asked the right honorable gentleman a question on this subject previously I was told, indirectly, that I should have taken my case to Professor Copland. I want to make it plain that I have not the faintest intention of saying anything to Professor Copland. It is my right and privilege to raise matters in this chamber and to obtain answers from Ministers. That is what I am now seeking to do. I have no objection to anybody’s personal political affairs no matter what office he holds in the Public Service, but it is quite wrong that people who hold an office in the Public Service, particularly a teaching office, should allow their political thought, or a thought running along Communist lines, to influence their teaching.
– The Australian National University is a research university.
– That university is in a fair way to become a great deal more famous for its left wing politics than for its research. All sorts of inquiries and studies other than pure research are being undertaken there ; politics, economics, and other subjects are dealt with. Although some honorable members may consider the study of economics to be research work, I believe that economists are akin to tipsters and astrologers. I have always thought that if there were anything in the theories they taught they would not be teaching them. The country should be assured that money expended in this direction shall be properly expended. There should not be dissemination of Communist propaganda by any Commonwealth agency. The committee is entitled to receive an assurance from the Prime Minister on such matters.
– Now that we are permitted to deal with the items in Division No. 187 of Miscellaneous Services, a very wide field of discussion is opened up. Presumably, honorable members will be able to discuss the Security Service and various other items which I was under the impression could not be discussed at present.
– I rise’ to order. Before we get out of court, I should like to say that there is no miscellaneous services division in the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department. I submit that we cannot deviate from a consideration of the proposed vote for that department.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.J rule that the proposed expenditure under Division No. 187 of Miscellaneous Services is associated with Division No. 9 - Administrative - and that therefore discussion of that division of Miscellaneous Services is in order.
– Your ruling, Mr. Temporary - Chairman, will afford to honorable members scope to deal with some very interesting subject5!. I shall make a moderate start by asking the Government to give further consideration to the proposed vote of £10,000 for grants to the Royal Life Saving Society and the Surf Life Saving Association. I congratulate the Government upon having made provision for lifesaving, which is a very important aspect of our life to-day. However, I regard as inadequate the proposed provision forsuch a worthy cause, particularly in view of the proposed expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds to maintain Australia House, and the extravagant expenditure of the Australian Ambassador to the United .States of America. ‘ I have no doubt that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) will have something to say about the Security- Service and other matters.
It’ is tragic that the Government has decided to make less money available for education this year than was provided formerly, particularly in view of the increases that are proposed for” far less worthy causes. I was disappointed, as also were educational groups throughout the Commonwealth, when the Government decided to discontinue the publication of discussion group posters. Nearly twelve months ago, I pleaded with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to reconsider that decision, but the right honorable gentleman, on the ground that there was need for economy, decided to take no notice of my plea. The Current Affairs Bulletin is a very valuable publication.
– At this stage, I should like a ruling from the Chair that will affect the future course of the debate. Lender the main headings of the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department, no reference is made to “ Miscellaneous Services “. The miscellaneous services administered by that department are set out in Divisions Nos. 1S7, 188 and 189 of the proposed vote for Miscellaneous Services at pages 65 and 66 of the Estimates, and the proposed vote in respect of those divisions is £1,691,000. Miscellaneous services administered by other departments, including the Department of External Affairs, the Department of the Treasury, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Trade and Customs, the Department of Health, and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture are also provided for in the proposed vote for Miscellaneous Services. The proposed vote for the activities of the Prime Minister’s Department at present under consideration is £2,016,000. Do you rule, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that if the committee agrees to that proposed vote, that will have the effect of disposing of the proposed vote of £1,691,000 which relates to those items in the proposed vote for Miscellaneous Services that are administered by the Prime Minister’s Department? If you permit honorable members to discuss at this stage the items in the proposed vote for Miscellaneous Services that are administered by the Prime Minister’s Department, will you permit those items to be discussed further when the proposed vote for Miscellaneous Services is under consideration? If you rule that the committee is entitled to discuss those items in Miscellaneous Services while the main Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department are under consideration, it appears to me that you must give a similar ruling in respect of other departments. I submit that that would result in a chaotic discussion.
– I do not understand the meaning of the double talk of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison). The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has referred to the Office of Education, the proposed vote for which is stated at page 12 of the Estimates. In passing, the honorable gentleman referred to miscellaneous items that are listed on that page. You have already given a ruling about how far and how wide you will permit honorable members to range in discussing the proposed vote now under consideration. The Vice-President of the Executive Council rose to order while the honorable member for Hindmarsh was dealing with the Office, of Education. I submit that the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh were in order, and were covered by your previous ruling about miscellaneous items.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I rule that when the committee is considering the proposed vote for Miscellaneous Services the debate will be restricted. The honorable member for Hindmarsh is in order.
– I ask that the six minutes occupied by points of order which have not been supported be, in accordance with the usual practice, added to my time.
– The time of the honorable gentleman will expire at 12.31 p.m.
– When I was rudely interrupted by the VicePresident of the Executive Council, who raised a point of order that was not relevant to my remarks, I was about to say that it is a great pity that the Current Affairs Bulletin, which was first published by the Chifley Government, has had a restricted circulation since this Government came into office. It is an excellent publication. I should like the Govern ment to continue to publish it each fortnight, and also to widen its circulation by arranging for copies to be sent to all schools. I believe that members, of this Parliament should be supplied with copies free of charge. Recently, I wrote to the Office of Education and asked whether I could be supplied with copies of the Current Affairs Bulletin free of charge, but I was told that that was not possible. I was informed that one copy of each bulletin was sent to the Federal Members’ Rooms in each capital city and that, if I wanted to examine it, I could do so there. I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to emerge from his coma for a moment, and to listen to what I am saying. As his department has nothing to do with these publications, and as he cannot persuade the Prime Minister to come into the chamber while this matter is being discussed, I ask whether he will pass on to the Prime Minister my request that copies of the Current Affairs Bulletin be supplied free of charge to all members of the Parliament and also to discussion groups in this country which indicate their desire to receive them. The bulletin contains most valuable information, which, if it were assimilated by the Australian people, would make them much wiser than they are to-day. It would be of inestimable value to schools, and also to people who wish to widen their knowledge of matters of general interest.
I turn now to the recent visit abroad by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen). I realize that when the Prime Minister goes abroad he has certain obligations to fulfil that do not come within the province of a junior Minister, such as the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I point out to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, . that’ there is no Minister at the table, and I ask whether, in those circumstances, it is in order for the committee to continue its deliberations.
– There is no Minister in the chamber.
– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) should not talk nonsense.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council has just come into the chamber.
– I have been here all the time.
– I consider that the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who has now returned to the table, should investigate the expenses of his colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I should like the Vice-President of the Executive Council to tell the committee how the tremendous expense of £13,132, incurred by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture on his trip abroad last year, can be justified. I observe that it is also contemplated that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will again spend a considerable amount next year. It is shocking that a. trip overseas by one Minister should cost £13,132, when the Parliament voted only £6,800, or less than half the amount actually expended by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture alone, for the travelling expenses of all Ministers. I know that this matter-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I refer to item 1 of Division 189, which relates to the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. Two kinds of scholarships are awarded under this scheme. One is the open scholarship, which is available to students up to the age of 21 years. The second kind, which is known as the mature age scholarship, is available to students between the ages of 25 and 30 years. A parent living in the country has recently made representations to me regarding his two sons whom he sent away from home to be educated in the city. The elder child attended a university, but before he had completed the course he was taking, the second son had reached the age of 22, and was consequently by then ineligible for a scholarship, being over the age applicable to the open scholarship and under the age applicable to the mature age scholarship. This case presents an- anomaly that occurs frequently and is of a type which, I suggest, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) should investigate’ with a view to its removal. At present we are making every effort to keep people in country districts, particularly to keep them working on the land, and I assure the committee that education is one of the greatest problems that confront people. “When their children reach the age at which education at a school or university is necessary, the problem is aggravated if the children have to leave home and go to the city to attend an educational institution. The father, in the case to which I have referred, explained to me that, the second son, who was a more brilliant boy than his brother and had an excellent matriculation pass, was unfortunately, as a result of this peculiar anomaly, debarred from obtaining the benefit of a university education, because the father was unable to afford it by reason of the costs that he had incurred in relation to the elder son’s university education. ‘ Governmental assistance in relation to education is to be increased. Last year the vote for this item was £809,200, of which only £741,772 was expended. Yet it is proposed to increase the vote to £926,800.- I consider that :-i portion of that increase should be used to cover situations such as I have mentioned. I strongly represent that consideration be given to rural applicants for these scholarships, because the cost of maintaining a child aWay from home, particularly in a city, during the time when he or she is attending a university, is so high. I submit that some attempt should be made to bridge the gap between the age range of the open scholarship, which ends at 21 years of age, and the age range of the mature scholarship, which commences at 25 years of age. That gap should be bridged by some other scholarship.
– I .desire to make some comments on the Public Service. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) referred to the need to increase the efficiency of the Public .Service. He did .not indicate in what way it was inefficient, and, of. course, he could not therefore suggest any means of improving its efficiency. He mentioned the need to appoint efficiency experts. From time to time efficiency experts have been appointed to investigate the Public Service and I havenever yet heard of their having been able to discover any remediable inefficiency in the service. The honorable member said that there are about 200,000 public servants, but he did not mention that they are spread among about twenty different departments, each under the control of a responsible Minister. The Postmaster-General’s Department is the biggest government department. It employs 73,000 public servants and I believe that it is big enough to be separated from the rest of the Public Service by having its own board to direct it and attend to the promotion and transfer of employees. No representative of the Postmaster-General’s Department is included in the three members who now constitute the Public Service Board. I consider that that huge department should have at least one representative on the board. Better still, one of the members of the board should be a person who has been appointed from among the employees of the department.
– Order ! Is the honorable member making reference to the Postmaster-General’s Department?
– I am speaking about the Public Service Board.
– Then the honorable member should not canvass the subject of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
– I am suggesting that one of the members of the Public Service Board should be selected from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, because thereby the board would have the benefit of his knowledge of the biggest section of the Public Service. Such an appointment would lead to improved efficiency and better relationships. It would also be of advantage if the department’s representative on the board were selected by the employees of the department. That has never been the case in the past, and consequently that particular section of the Public Service, which is the most profitable, department of the Public Service because it renders a service to every village and settlement throughout the country, has not received its due.
I turn now to another matter that is mentioned in the notes of a, journal named White Collar, which is one of the official journals of the Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association. The Government embarked on the policy of retrenching 10,000 public servants.
Because of the existence of a penal regulation which prohibits an officer from commenting upon the administration of his department, the journal decided to suspend publication of the New South Wales notes indefinitely. That action was authorized by the New South Wales branch council after the branch journal officer had been threatened with charges under the Public Service Regulations because of comments that had been published in the February notes. The notes dealt with the effects of the dismissal last year of 10,000 public servants by government direction. They referred to a reduction of. the checking processes of a certain department as a result of the dismissals, and stated that the reduction was tantamount to an interference with award conditions. The permanent head of the department instructed his chief officer in Sydney to examine the notes from the viewpoint of possible breaches of the Public Service Regulations. When the New South Wales branch president was asked to disclose the identity of the author of the notes, he immediately called a meeting of the branch committee at which it was decided tha.t the committee should communicate at once with the Public Service Board, and with the general secretary of the association, and report what had occurred. Regulations of this kind breach the principle of freedom of speech. Whilst I may not agree that public servants should have the right to criticize their superior officers or the administration of the department in which they are employed, I believe that union representatives should at least have the right to make fair comment upon a matter of such importance as the dismissal of 10,000 of their colleagues. The Public Service Regulations should be re-examined by the Public Service Board and amended in such a way that union representatives will be permitted to offer constructive criticism of the administration of the department with which they are associated.
I wish now to say a few words about Australia House. I do not quibble at the expenditure on Australia House, which I regard as the shop window of Australia. Every effort should be made by the officers at Australia House to present their country in the best light. If they succeed in so doing they render an excellent service to their country. Australia House should be an institution which all Australians are proud to acknowledge as their own. For that reason I offer no adverse criticism of the financial provision that will enable such a desirable objective to be reached.
Sitting suspended from 18.45 to 2.15 p.m.
.- When the much ado about nothing ended yesterday as I expected that it would end, as a damp squid, I was endeavouring to bring to notice a matter of urgent public importance that concerns the livelihood of many persons in Victoria, but the gag was arrogantly applied by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison). I now propose to raise the matter again. This morning, I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) a question on the subject, and he delegated one of his junior Ministers to answer me. This Minister did so by informing me that he might tell me something about the matter at a later date. Then the Prime Minister rose and delivered a little homily in which he pointed out that he, as Prime Minister was not involved because the matter in question related to employees in the Repatriation General Hospital at Heidelberg, in Victoria. The point is that the Public Service Board, through its inspectors, is investigating the staffing of the hospital at Heidelberg, and the objective is to get rid of the present male employees, most’ of whom are exservicemen, and replace them by young girls. The matter can now be resolved only by the Prime Minister giving a direction to the Public Service Board that it is against the policy of this Government to have ex-servicemen employees at the Heidelberg Repatriation General Hospital dismissed and replaced by female assistants, who will be, in fact, junior girls. In the X-ray section of the hospital ten male clerks are at present employed. There are eight senior male clerks and two male assistants. It is proposed to replace these ten employees by two male clerks and six female assistants.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Will the honorable member say whether that action is proposed by the Repatriation Department or by the Public Service Board?
– By the Public Service Board. The Repatriation Department is helpless in the hands of the board. Within the last few weeks a public service, inspector has been at the hospital. He spent from three to five minutes interviewing each of the male employees, and I have been assured on the most reliable authority that it is intended to reorganize the staff in the way I have stated. The men concerned, all of whom served in the 1914-18 war or in the 1939-45 war, were useful in the days when female assistants could not be obtained because labour was scarce. There was plenty of work about, and for that reason young girls were not willing to take employment at the Heidelberg Repatriation General Hospital on the outskirts of the city. To-day, employment is becoming harder to get, and the men who have given good service to the Repatriation Department in the past are to be discarded, and replaced with young women who can be employed at a cheaper rate than the men, most of whom have family responsibilities. As I have said, this is a matter which concerns the Public Service Board rather than the Repatriation Department. Members of the Public Service Board are applying a new policy. They are very sensitive to atmosphere, and are always ready to respond to the wish of the Government, even if the wish is not made absolutely articulate. Because the board feels that it is the desire of the Government at all costs to reduce the cost of administration of government departments it is putting into effect a policy of replacing ex-servicemen with young female assistants. I appeal to the Government to see that this new policy of the Public Service Board as applied at the Heidelberg Repatriation General Hospital is immediately discontinued. Let the Prime Minister issue a direction, to the board that it has misinterpreted the wishes of the Government.
.- I should not have spoken on this item had it not been for the action of the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) in. casting doubts upon the efficiency of the Public Service. In the circumstances, I feel it to be my duty to pay a tribute to a body of employees who are doing a great job. It seems to be a favourite sport for some members of the Parliament, and for some sections of the press, to pick on public servants and hold them up to ridicule as examples of bumbledom and inefficiency. A number of honorable members, including myself, who were formerly public servants, have had an opportunity to gauge the merits of permanent public servants by comparing them with persons who were brought into the Public Service during the war years. At that time I was an administrative officer of the Department of Munitions. To meet the needs of war, the central administrative staff of the department was expanded from 38 officers to several thousands. To assist in the functioning of the department, officers were brought in from private industrial undertakings, such as Australian Iron and Steel Limited and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. In my opinion, comparison between the permanent officers of the. department and those who were brought in during the war gave the advantage definitely to the permanent officers. Until I left the Public Service to enter the Victorian Parliament, it seemed to me that, with notable exceptions, most of the officers who came into the service during the war, and who were thus superimposed on the permanent Public Service structure, had in mind only one thought - to get as much from the Public Service as they possibly could. They attained that objective by various means, such as by presenting inflated accounts, or “ T.S.R.’s “ as they are known, for travelling expenses, in order to squeeze every penny they could from the Commonwealth, although they were doing the minimum amount of work. Throughout the war years, in the Department of Munitions the bulk of the
Work devolved upon the permanent public servant’s. ‘‘i, ‘for one,- rejoice in the fact that to-day the permanent officers of the Public Service <are receiving a little recognition’ for the work that they are constantly doing. In my opinion, and I think also in the opinion of most honor- able members, the basic administration of the Commonwealth is performed by permanent ‘public servants who make public service a career for the greater part of their working life. They should be regarded very highly instead of being made the butt of honorable members who do not know what they are talking about, or selected by unprincipled newspaper editors as the object of gentle ridicule. During the period to which 1 have referred, permanent officers of the Public Service witnessed the higher jobs in the departments going to men who were brought in from outside the service. Should a future crisis develop, and should it again become necessary to augment the Public Service by the introducti011 of temporary officers, I hope that at the helm of the departments concerned will bc permanent public servants.
The. proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department covers. I take it, the estimated cost of maintaining the Promotions Appeal Committee of the Public Service Board. Judging from the 27th Report of the Commonwealth Public Service, which has been issued by the Public Service Board, there is something fundamentally wrong with the system of provisional promotions and appeals against such promotions. The latest available figures show that from the 1st July, 1950, to the 30th June, 1951, 10,591 provisional promotions were made, 4,019 promotions were appealed against, by 22,652 appellants, and that the appeals were allowed in only 667 cases. The fact that 22,652 officers, most of whom, presumably, were reputable persons, appealed against promotions and that only 667, or 16.59 per cent, were successful, seems to indicate a faulty system. I suggest timidly to the powers that be that there is need for closer scrutiny of the methods that governs such appeals. I do not intend to indulge in hyperbole and to speak of nepotism or anything of that nature; I merely say that there seems to be something wrong and that an investigation should be conducted in order to determine whether a more suitable method should be adopted.
In the main, provisional promotions are made by promoting officers who are on the spot. Frequently, much more efficient officers are overlooked because they do not happen to be in the department concerned. That statement applies particularly to officers of the permanent Public Service who entered the defence forces during the war. On enlistment, they were assured that their position in the Public Service would not be adversely affected because of their military service, and that when they returned to civil life they would not be worse off than if they had stayed behind. . Unfortunately, although that promise was confirmed by the then Minister for the Army, it was never honoured in its entirety. Officers who went into uniform and attained commissioned rank subsequently found, on returning to the Public Service, that men who we’re their juniors when they left the Public Service had, in the meantime, received substantial promotion. The officers who had served in the defence forces found that they had lost many chances of promotion and that their return to the Public Service was not accompanied by an appropriately increased Public Service status. I raised this matter some time ago with the responsible Minister and was assured that it would be investigated. I understand that some specific instances have now been brought to the notice of the Minister, and I sincerely hope that if it is found that officers who served in the defence forces thereby forfeited promotion in the Public Service, adequate recompense will be given to them for the sacrifice they made.
It is fashionable for honorable members and for members of the press to “ have a shot “ at the Public Service^ and to accuse them of all sorts of inefficiency. I hold a brief for the public servants. I worked with them and I know the work that they do, very often without adequate reward. They are entitled to great credit for their administration of the Commonwealth. The public servant, occupies the highest place in my regard and in the regard of every right-thinking Australian.
.- I understand that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is the chairman of the political committee which controls the Common wealth Literary Fund, the expenditure on which is covered by the Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. Whatever constitutional difficulties the Prime Minister may claim lie in his way in dealing with communism, as chairman of this committee he has a direct and personal responsibility. The dissatisfaction with the Commonwealth Literary Fund extends throughout the literary community of Australia. In the March issue of a literary magazine called The Austrovert, which is published by a group of literary people in Melbourne, the following comment appears : -
In the last six months attacks in print on the policy of the Fund have come from Edgar Harris (Georgian House), the Bulletin-. the novelist Arthur Upfield, and Olive Turnbull. Add to these numerous vocal- complaints and you get the result that few are really satisfied with the Fund’s actions - even several of those who have recently received Fund fellowships.
I do not claim to be competent to pass a literary judgment on the work of the persons who have received these awards, but people of such diverse opinions as Arthur Upfield and the publishers of the Bulletin, are all dissatisfied with the operation of the fund. My dissatisfaction arises not from the literary choice of those who administer the fund but from the fact that there has been an obvious and consistent .pattern in the granting of recent awards. A certain group, and. that group only, has benefited from the fund. One award was made to Mr. Judah Waten, a prominent member of the Communist party in Melbourne. I have no desire to see literature put into a strait-jacket. I suppose that its proper function is to hold up a mirror to life and describe it as truly and faithfully as possible, having regard to ordinary decency and morality. But members of this Parliament and also the general* public are entitled to ask what type of people have received this money. The Prime Minister, as chairman of the fund, has an added responsibility. Let me quote some of the other activities of Mr.’ Waten, who enjoys a grant of some £800 from the Australian Government for the purpose of producing a literary work. One poem in a journal of which Mr. Waten was the editor is entitled “ J Jesus Christ in an
Ash Tray”. Another poem in this publication is so indecently blasphemous that I shall not read it all, but one verseis as follows: -
Dong, dung, ding!
Ring, bells,r ing!
Eighty thousand unem ployed,
And Christ still King!
Is the Prime Minister aware of the type of person who has obtained these grants? Is he aware that people write material of the type that I have quoted, whilst enjoying the bounty of the taxpayer? Does he know what goes on in his own department in relation to this matter? If there were only one instance of a grant to this type of person it might be supposed that the people controlling the fund had been asleep at the time. But if a list of those who were responsible for the recent Communist peace carnival were compared with a list of those who have enjoyed Commonwealth grants of £600 or £800, the same names would be found on both lists. I have mentioned Mr.Waten. Other people who have benefited from the fund and who were members of the Youth Carnival Literary Committee are Vance Palmer, John Morrison, and. Eric Lambert who was given a Commonwealth grant to assist him to write a book called Twenty Thousand Thieves. I understand that the historical development of that novel was deliberately falsified in order to depreciate the position of Australia and Great Britain vis-a-vis the position of Russia. I know that Mr. Eric Lambert is an active associate of, and a worker for, Communist causes. This gentleman enjoys the bounty of the Commonwealth Parliament in order that he may rest while producing anti-Australian and anti-British propaganda. On previous occasions left-wingers and people with certain social views have received grants from this fund and I have offered no objection to their having received them. I consider that the social revolt should be written about as much as any other subject, but I object to any plan to confine those awards to people who are either known Communists or active workers for theCommunist party.
No doubt, because of the Prime Minister’s many duties, these awards have been made without his knowledge. At least. I hope so. The platforms at meetings of the Frank Hardy Defence committee were filled with people who have benefited from the Commonwealth Literary Fund. One finds many Communist platforms graced, by these people. Whereas only an occasional person of this type received an award from the fund previously since this Government has taken office it has become normal for awards to be receivedby people who produce the type of writing that is produced by Mr.Waten or who are supporters of the Communist cause. These people have been given grants, nominally, in order that they may knock off work and produce a masterpiece,but, in most cases, they had written their masterpieces before they received the grant. Three of these people are Judah Waten, Eric Lambert, and John Morrison. There arc: other people whose names I shall not mention but who have appeared so frequently on Communist platforms that any reasonable person would be entitled to expect that they had a great deal to do with Communist party affairs.
– Surely these awards are not granted according to the colour of a man’s politics, but rather according to the merit of his work.
– That is a matter about which I desire to say something. If anybody could prove to me that the only writers who are producing decent literary work in Australia are the persons to whom these awards have been made during the past few years, then I am a Dutchman. One could expect that occasionally a stray Communist would get an award, but it is quite obvious from the number of Communists who have received them that a deliberate and concerted attempthas been made on the part of those who control the fund to ensure that the taxpayers’ money should go to persons such as those that I have mentioned. DymphnaCusack, to mention only one person, recently published a book. Although I do not claim to be a literary critic, I believe that the Commonwealth has not got its money’s worth out of the production of the books that it has subsidized. I also believe that Australian literature will not receive any benefit in any way at all by the works ofpeople who are avowed supporters of the Communist party policy, and who advance the Communist cause in the works that they produce. In subsidizing such productions the Commonwealth Literary Fund is not fulfilling the objects for which- it was designed. If anybody wants to write Communist literature, he is at complete liberty to do so at his own expense.
As an Australian taxpayer myself, I believe, and I am sure that the great majority of Australian taxpayers also believe, that the public money should not be used to subsidize communistic work produced by these particular persons. I am not arguing at present about literary freedom, but I am arguing that the Australian’ taxpayer should not be required to provide Communists with the wherewithal to advance Communist policy. The Commonwealth Literary Fund is in grave disfavour with most Australian writers, apart from a small clique of leftists and Communists. As the Prime Minister is the chairman of the political committee that controls that fund he should take steps to ensure that this method of subsidizing Communists will be stopped.
Another matter to which I desire to refer is one that has already been mentioned by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). It also concerns the Prime Minister personally, and his administration of his department. I do not intend to skirt around the matter, I say outright that the Australian National University has become deliberately, according to a planned scheme, a nest of Communists who are busy building up their own organizations to subvert the institutions of this country, to frustrate the desires of governments and to destroy proper administration. This Government approved of the appointment of Lord Lindsay to the staff of the Australian National University. At about the relevant time I wrote to the Prime Minister and stated that if the Government contemplated such an appointment I considered that it should know that Lord Lindsay had served for a number of years with the Communist army in China. The reply to my letter was most insulting, and suggested that any one who could query the appointment of a belted earl must be out of his senses.
It was obvious that the members of the Government were so anxious to be rubbing shoulders in Canberra with a genuine belted earl that they were not worried about the fact that this gentleman was doing the work of the Communist party. I know very well that much will be said about academic freedom, and all that sort of thing, but the persons that I have mentioned are being paid with money that has been provided by the Australian taxpayers. If Lord. Lindsay wants to try to guide the policy of the Australian Government and. of the Department of External Affairs at his own expense, there would be nothing that I could do about it. But when he does it by virtue of a salary paid by the Australian Government and by virtue of the fact that the Prime Minister has invited him to occupy a position in the Australian National University, then it is high time that a halt should be called to his activities. This is a matter of deadly seriousness.
The whole course of history was altered by a small group of Communists who by their undercover work moulded the policy of the State Department of the United States of America. China fell to the Communists not because we lost battles but because of that small group of Communists in America who advised administrators and moulded policies in such a way that the Chinese Communists were able to achieve success. With the defection of China the whole future of this nation and of the world has fallen under die threat nf violence. That matter cannot be shrugged iff. The whole future of Australia. , Great Britain, the United States of America, and, indeed, the future of the civilized world, is bound up with this matter because it is by means of small and powerful groups of Communists that Russia is able to advance its frontiers, f invite honorable members to read Whittaker Chambers’ book, The Witness,. and Freda Otley’s work The China Story. in order to discover how the undercover Communists operated in Washington. T a so invite honorable members to read the *Seeds of Treason, and other books of a like kind. I hope that the Prime Minister will accept his responsibilities in this matter.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I agree with a great deal that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) has said. However, it would not have been necessary for him to have made such a speech bad he adopted the same attitude when the Communist Party Dissolution Bill was before the House about two years ago. Had his party held the opinion then as il appears to hold now. the honorable member’s speech would not have been necessary. Because of the attitude of the Opposition there is at present nothing to prevent a Communist from being employed in the Public Service or the Australian National University which, as far as taxpayers are concerned, is merely a branch of the Public Service. Moreover, the taxpayer has to support such Communists,, if they are employed, whether he likes it or not. If we are to make any progress in the suppression, of communism in high places and to prevent Communists from holding official positions in this country, honorable members opposite must stand up to their convictions, not only when it suits them and when they desire to embarrass the Government, but also when they can really do something about communism. Only two years ago .the honorable member for Yarra had an excellent opportunity to support a bill that was designed to deal with communism. The honorable member was not in this chamber when the bill was put to the vote, and if he had acted then as vigorously as he has spoken now perhaps he would have achieved something. Let us have no more of this humbug from honorable members opposite because if they had acted in the way that they now wish somebody else to act, there would have been no trouble about Communists in official positions.
I am gratified because the honorable member for Yarra has raised the matter of literary awards. I doubt whether literature ever benefits by State subsidies, and I have yet to hear of any work of any great merit that has been produced as the result of such a subsidy. If any honorable member can tell me the name of any such work I shall be pleased to hear it.
– Brown Boy Singing, by Leslie Haylen, was one such book.
– The honorable member merely illustrates my point. Painters are not subsidized, at least the Commonwealth does not subsidize them, and I have never heard of any great literary work that has been produced under a subsidy system. I may te wrong. Certainly many honorable members disagree with me. However, I support the views of the honorable member for Yarra, particularly with reference to one of the works that he mentioned. I do not propose to advertise it by repeating the title, which the honorable member has already mentioned. I say, first, that it was a bad and a boring book and, secondly, that it should not have been subsidized at the expense of the taxpayers. I have read as much of it as any patient man could be expected to read and I say that whoever granted an award of public money to a writer of such calibre was careless of his responsibility. .1 say, too, that we on this side of the chamber at least are at present busily engaged in trying to encourage the military forces and to establish some consciousness in the public mind of the brief but splendid military tradition that we have in Australia. This book that I refuse to name gave a false and scandalously misrepresentative account of the Australian Army. I do not say that it should not have been written because, in a free country, one may write what one pleases, but the taxpayers should not have been asked under any pretext to subsidize it.
I have spoken previously about the Australian National University, but I shall add to my comments now in the light of the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Yarra. I do not like to rise here or elsewhere and call any man a Communist. I have not done so, and I do not propose to do so now. -“We should realize that it too often happens that those who do the work of the Communists most effectively are, in fact, not Communists. There is more tha.n a. suspicion that we have in the Australian National University-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! A dissertation on communism is not in order at this stage.
– I relate my remarks to the Australian National University, a discussion of which has been held to be in order. I make these remarks, not necessarily because I believe that anybody associated with the university is a Communist, much less a notorious Communist, though indeed we know that certain of these gentlemen would not obtain employment in a national university in any country less tolerant than Australia, but because I believe that, whether or not these men are Communists, the fact remains that, time after time in their public statements, they have come down on the side of the Communists. It is appropriate for us to criticize them, in this place for having done so.
– I support the remarks of the honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) in defence of the great body of permanent public servants throughout Australia. I do not’ do so as one who reads and believes everything that is published in the newspapers, or as one who is without knowledge of these public servants. Before I was elected to this Parliament, I was employed for 35 years successively in the Public Service of both New South Wales and the Commonwealth. “Therefore, I have met many persons such as the honorable member for Hoddle mentioned. During World War II. I was responsible for the administration of a public service group in which there were 27 employees, of whom I was the only permanent public servant. The remainder were persons in the category that the honorable gentleman mentioned. They had been drawn from outside the Public Service and they were employees of the kind that caused trouble with bad administration during the war. As far as I am aware, the great majority of permanent public servants enjoy the goodwill of the Australian people. I also agree with the honorable member for Hoddle that there must be something radically wrong with the promotions appeal committee of the Public Service Board. Only 657 appeals, of a total number of more than 22,000, have succeeded. Obviously there must be something wrong, either with the constitution -of the committee or with those foolish individuals who appeal in such great numbers. I believe that the fault lies with the committee, and I am able to refer to my own experiences in order to support that view.
I was, unfortunately, obliged to appeal on two occasions during the last three years of my term as a Commonwealth public servant against the promotion of men who were many years junior to me. What happens when an appellant goes before the promotions appeal committee? The committee consists of an allegedly independent chairman, the head of the very department that is involved in the appeal, and a representative of a section of the Public Service. My objection is against the presence, as a member of the committee, of the head of the department in which the promotion has been made. On both occasions when I appealed against promotions, the head or the sub-head of the department who had promoted a junior officer over my head was a member of the appeal committee. Thus, the man who had promoted a junior officer was called upon to judge whether his decision had been properly made. What hope is there for an appellant to obtain a fair deal in such circumstances? The system of which I gained experience in the State public service was much more satisfactory. For six years, while I was employed by the Department of Railways in New South Wales, I represented over 7,000 salaried employees on their appeal board. I sat as a member of that board with a chairman and a representative of the department, but at least those gentlemen acted reasonably. The appellant first stated his case, and the department then stated its case. The appellant had the right to cross-examine witnesses in order to ascertain the facts.
The procedure of the promotions appeal committee of the Commonwealth Public Service Board is just a joke. Each appellant is called before the three august gentlemen who constitute the committee. They ask him to state his case. He may claim, as I did, that he is senior in the service to the officer who has been promoted and that he is competent to do the work. Then he may ask to be told the case against him, but he is told, in that event, that that does not matter. If he asks to see the report on his appeal by the head of the branch of the service in which he is employed, he is told that he is not allowed to see it. Furthermore, he is not given the right to question the man who has made that report and who is present as a member of the tribunal. I do not criticize the Government on account of the existence of this state of affairs. I merely direct its attention to the situation in the hope that a reasonable promotions appeal system will be established. Public servants are entitled to have such an authority to which to appeal against the promotion of junior officers over their heads. The Government should be honest. If it considers that public servants should not have the right to appeal against decisions of their superior officers, it should say so and we should know where we stand. But it will be lacking in its duty if it allows the present system to continue to operate to the disadvantage of decent Australians.
Another grave anomaly occurs in the appointment of officers to fill vacancies in the Public Service and in the advertising of those vacancies. I read in the Gazette on one occasion that applications had been called for a position but they had closed before the notice came to my attention. The vacancy had never been notified in the department, although it was for a job in which I was particularly interested. When I made inquiries. I learned that a man had already been acting in the job for two months. He was junior to me and probably was a cobber of somebody who had popped him into the position so that he could learn something about the job before applications were called for it and would thus have an advantage over other applicants. I made so much fuss about the manner in which the vacancy had been advertised that, even though applications had closed months earlier, my application was accepted. By that time, the acting officer had been in the position for nine months. How could another officer hope to demonstrate that he was better qualified for the position than was the man who had been performing the duties for nine months? The Government should revise this unfair system. The gentleman who is at the head of the promotions appeal organization should be retired.I consider him to be totally incompetent to act ina judicial capacity. The method of constituting the promotions appeal committee also should be amended. In the Public Service of New South Wales, the head of a department other than that in which a promotion has been made acts on behalf of that department. Thus, a man who has made a promotion against which an appeal has been lodged is not in a position to ad judicate on the appeal. The adoption of that system in the Commonwealth Public Service would do away with the present ridiculous situation in which an interested party sits in judgment on appeals. I have discussed this subject at length because the honorable member for Hoddle has said that something must be wrong with the system. Something is radically wrong with it. It is a most stupid system.
– I do not propose to deal with all the matters that have been raised in this discussion, but I think I should mention some of them. I have heard several honorable members defend the permanent Public Service. I entirely agree with that defence if the public servants need it, but I have not heard an attack, on it. The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) did not attack the service. He offered the opinion that some new methods should be introduced to increase the efficiency of the Public Service, and that is an entirely different matter. Oddly enough, one of the systems that the Public Service employs to increase its efficiency is the Organization and Classification Branch of the Public Service Board which constantly reviews the work of various departments. Sometimes the officers of the branch do the reviewing themselves and sometimes it is done otherwise by arrangement with the departments concerned, but the whole purpose of its activity is to improve efficiency. It is no insult to the service to say that we should watch its efficiency constantly. The honorable member for Hoddle (Mr. Cremean) undoubtedly will agree with that view. The more efficient the Public Service is, the less criticism of it there will be from outside. The Government has the highest regard for the Public Service. As I have said many times before, no man who was ever a Minister of the Crown can fail to be in very great debt to the people in the Public Service who are responsible for most of the good things that he does and perhaps, occasionally, for one or two of the bad things, but I do not blame them for that. I am not able to discuss in detail the particular cases that have been referred to because the matters do not caine under my -jurisdiction as head of the Prime Minister’s Department. It is not Mv duty, for example, to say how the Repatriation Department shall be organized. One honorable member referred to an investigation of the Repatriation Department. I am informed that it is not being conducted by the Public Service Board. It might be convenient a little later to ask the Minister concerned whether he can throw some light on the matter. I cannot do so at this moment.
I wish to refer briefly to two matters that have been raised by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) and to Other references to the Australian National University. I first mention the Commonwealth Literary Fund. That fund has been operating for some time in Australia, and, in spite of criticisms that have been made, I am confident that its operations have been of benefit to Australian writers. In addition, I think that it has undoubtedly enabled the publication in Australia of many works .which otherwise would never have been an acceptable risk for a big publisher. In that connexion, we have had much cooperation from, the best people in the Australian publishing industry. It is useless to discuss this matter as though it were a party political problem. I believe that the honorable member for Yarra did a bad service to his cause when he tried to point the finger at this Government and indicate that it was giving preference to people whom he described as Communists. The Literary Fund Committee, which gives the ultimate decisions on this matter, is comprised of myself as Prime Minister, the Treasurer Sir Arthur Fadden). the Leader of tV Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and Mr. .T. H. Scullin, who. though he took a profound internet in the fund for years unhappily has not been able to attend meetings of late. Before the general election of 1949, the late Mr. Chifley, who was then Prime Minister, was chairman of the Literary Fund Committee. I was a member, and so also were Sir Arthur Fadden and Mr. Scullin. We did not undertake to be the custodians of the canons of literary taste or judgment because we cannot afford the time to read everything that is submitted. Therefore, the committee has an advisory board comprised of people who are regarded as having standing in the Literary world. When I - look at their names I can see no reason to qualify that view. For some time now, Mr. Vance Palmer has been chairman of the advisory board. I was astonished to hear the honorable member for Yarra suggest that there was something subversive about Mr. Palmer for I know him tolerably well and I know his work very well. I regard Mr. Palmer as a distinguished writer and for sheer honest, disinterested and continuous work on the board, he will take a lot of beating. Another member of the board is Miss Flora Eldershaw, who occupies a high place in the ranks of Australian historical novelists. She is a constant and assiduous board worker. Another member is Mr. T. Inglis Moore, a distinguished Australian poet who is known to many honorable members as a resident and a lecturer in Canberra. Mr. R. G. Howarth of the University of Sydney, another member of the advisory board, is a man of high standing in the world of English literature and Mr. Kenneth Binns, another member of the board, was well known to honorable members of this Parliament for many years as Commonwealth Parliamentary Librarian. Those five “ bolsheviks “ form the advisory board and they have submitted to them, by various means, numerous documents and manuscripts.
– And they pick them out.
– The honorable member for Yarra means that he has picked them out. It may be that out of scores of fellowships, he has been able to select one person about whom somebody could say. “ Now, he is a Communist “. That, would not be difficult. -All T can say is that I have never considered it part of my duty, nor have any of my precessors considered it part of their duty to form political judgments in these matters. We have concerned ourselves with literary judgments on the strength of the material that is placed ‘before us. I am not going to say that if, at the time, we were told that the person concerned was a subversive agent, we would not have given him a Commonwealth grant. We would not have done so. But in the first instance, it is not our business to conduct an investigation into the political ideas of the persons concerned. It is a literary matter. The honorable member for Yarra mentioned a few names. That is unfortunate. . He has referred to a well known Australian novelist, Dymphna Cusack. I notice that Miss Cusack got a fellowship. That was in 1945 so it was not a party political matter. The honorable member has referred to John Morrison. I have read one of his books with great pleasure. Mr. Morrison received his fellowship in 1946, and was awarded another in 1948.
– Was the right honorable gentleman a member of the committee which made that award?
– I was a member of the committee, but I was not the chairman of it. The honorable gentleman will need to discover that he cannot have it both ways. If he chooses to air his views on this matter and tries to convert it into a political attack on this Government, my answer is that he is missing the bus, because my predecessors and I have sat on the committee and the results of our decisions are known. I confess that I have no individual recollection of the book by Lambert. to which reference has been made.
– Must the decision of the committee be unanimous?
– dm point of fact, all the decisions of the committee have been unanimous.
– They need not be unanimous.
– That is so, but 1 cannot remember an occasion when a decision was not unanimous. We do not conduct divisions. We have a discussion about a work, and form our view as best we can. I have no knowledge of the Lambert matter, but I shall take the trouble to examine it. However, when an honorable member says that he does not think that any good has come out of this fund, it is most interesting. I do not desire to weary the committee, but 1 am prepared to make available to honorable members a full list of the works which have been published with the assistance of this fund, and the fellowships that have been granted. There is no mystery about the matter. I shall have the information made freely available to honorable gentlemen, and they will be able to see that many works which, I believe, are of considerable- importance have been produced as the result of assistance granted from the fund.
Reference has been made to the Australian National University. This matter is extremely important and difficult. It is not half so easy as the honorable gentleman has made it appear. It is true that the Australian National University is financed by this Parliament, but it is managed by a council which is, as far as possible, an independent body, on which we have a variety of people with a variety of experience. I think I am right in saying that my friend, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), has been. a. member of the council of the Australian National University from its inception. I do not make appointments to the staff of the university. Heaven forbid that political appointments should be made to the staff of a university which hopes to maintain high standard? and academic freedom ! The honorable member said, in a rather foolish fashion, that I invited Lord Lindsay to come here because I wanted to see what an earl looked like. Good heavens, I have seen hundreds of earls !
– Do they all look alike?
– No, they all look different. As a matter of fact, there is nothing that half so much resembles a meeting of the House of Lords as the gathering of honorable members opposite. So far as I am aware, I have not met, or seen, Lord Lindsay. All I know about him is that his father was a distinguished scholar, who was the Master of Balliol at Oxford. But I do not know Lord Lindsay.
Statements have been made to me from time to time by various people to the effect that members of the staff of the Australian National University are either Communists or have Communist affiliations. I made it my business to have a a number of those allegations investigated, and I then took the course that I considered proper. I am not running the Australian National University, and I have no desire to do so. I had a long discussion with the Vice-Chancellor of the University who, I have no doubt, took his own ways and means of discussing these problems with the council, and as the result of those discussions, we are endeavouring to evolve a proper principle on these matters which will reconcile reasonable liberty with the general responsibility that devolves upon the Government. In due course, but not this afternoon, because it is not a matter to be dealt with offhand, I propose to make a considered statement on the subject. That will be done after I have discussed the subject with Cabinet. The considered statement will not be designed by any means to make the Australian National University an instrument of this Government or, for that matter, of any other government. The statement will be designed to give proper protection to the security of the country, and, at the same time, proper freedom of choice, administration, thought and utterance to those who are connected with a great national institution such as the Australian National University.
.- I desire to refer briefly to the matter which has been discussed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) relative to the vote for the Commonwealth Literary Fund. This subject is unfortunate, inasmuch as honorable members hold mixed views about the utility and practicability of a fund controlled by the Government to encourage the Australian writer. Let me say at the outset that I agree with the statement of the Prime Minister upon this matter. If the political views of a writer are to be judged by the committee the fund should be dissolved immediately. It never has been, and I hope that it never will be, the purpose of this Parliament or any of its instrumentalities to put a screen around a writer when we are merely judging his literary efforts ;as a work of art, or as possessing some literary merit. His political views are distinct from his’ literary activities, and have nothing whatever to do with the committee which administers the Commonwealth Literary Fund, and even less to do with the advisory board, which judges whether or not an author has written a good book.
It is quite’ untrue to say that the Commonwealth Literary ‘Fund has been riddled by Communists, because they have been successful in gaining a number of the awards. If some people who are leftists or are alleged to be Communists have the energy to write books which are judged to be good Australian works that should be encouraged and sponsored, the matter should end there for the committee and the advisory board. Politics should not be permitted to infiltrate an institution that owes its existence to the desire of a great Labour Prime Minister to assist Australian writers. Australia has erected many barriers in order to keep the produce of the cheap trader out of this country. Tariff walls and agreements on tariffs and trade provide protection for the Australian manufacturer and businessman. But the most vulnerable unit in the community is the poor beggar who writes a book, because he is subjected to a flood of cheap junk from overseas and to the better facilities that exist abroad for the printing and merchandising of literature. His books, good or bad, are destined to lie unnoticed on the shelves of Australian booksellers. For that reason, a former Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Scullin, instituted the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I suppose Mr. Scullin was the most ‘redoubtable hater of communism in this country, but he believed, when he played an active role as chairman of the committee, and later as a member of it, that a book should be judged on its merits, and its contribution to Australian letters. That was to be the only test.
Too often, Australian literature has been dragged through this Parliament for no other reason than to assist in a witchhunt of writers in respect of their political views. When a Labour government was in office, a member of the Australian Country party moved the adjournment of the House on one occasion in order to discuss a writer named
Rawley, who had written a splendid book on a little-known Australian poet named Harper. On that occasion, Australian literature was dragged through, the cowyard of the Australian Country party in order to make a political holiday. I hope that no honorable member on this side of l he chamber will repeat that dose, because it. was most nauseating and should not have been given in the first instance. The sule question that the honorable member for Yarra has raised is whether the Commonwealth Literary Fund is being used for subversive purposes. The Prime Minister, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden”), mid the former right honorable member fur Yarra-
– T rise to order. The former right honorable member for Yarra has not been able to sit on the Commonwealth Literary Committee during the years in which the awards to which I referred were made.
– The former right honorable member for Yarra sat on the committee in 1945 and at the time that the committee made the Harper award. I do not want to worsen the position. I make the plea that if the committee is to be asked to judge literary works, not on merit, but on the basis of the political affiliations of their authors it would be better to cast this item out of the Estimates altogether and give no more encouragement to Australian literature by this means. In that matter, honorable members should be concerned solely with the merits of literary works. If works submitted to the committee do not relate in any way to communism and do not imply the propagation of communism the committee should be satisfied. That is as far as any honest man should go in considering a literary award. The Prime Minister has mentioned a few persons to whom the committee has made awards. The great poetess, Mary Gilmore is not a Communist, and Dymphna Cusack is definitely not a Communist. The latter has written several ‘ magnificent stories that have become best-sellers due to their own merit in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. It was a good thing that the committee was able to give her a lift by providing a grant of £6 a week to help her write another story and thus enable her to serve her literary apprenticeship. That was the essence of the scheme that was conceived by the former right honorable member for Yarra when he established the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I served on the advisory board for a period of four years, and i know that the persons who do this work are genuine and above reproach. Are we to continue to expend money to encourage Australian literature which, so far, has been forgotten? If we are going to penalize it by saying that the Commonwealth Literary Fund is being used for the benefit of communism, it would be far better for us to abolish the fund because, otherwise, we shall be doing a disservice to Australian literature and to the persons who are trying to earn a living in the writing game, which is difficul! enough in ‘ this country. There is no danger that the fund will be used for Communist propaganda or that any book in respect of which an award is made will be any different from any other book that ‘is published in the ordinary way except that in the. initial stage its author will have been helped to write it by having been given a grant from the fund. If that is bad, we should reject this proposed vote altogether; if it is good, and we know what it stands for, we should agree to the item. But to make the fund a political plaything would be to do a grave disservice to Australian literature.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar)
T3.28].- The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has indicated very clearly that the maintenance of the Commonwealth Literary Fund is not a party-political matter. Otherwise, perhaps, I should not have the temerity to disagree with him. The point at issue is whether, in fact, the fund is being honestly administered for the furtherance of Australian literature or whether, in some ‘way, it is under Communist influence and is being used as a means of providing sustenance for Communist authors and propagandists and the glorification of Communist ideas. Some time ago the Prime Minister was good enough to make available to me a list of the persons who had received scholarships from the fund. I find that approximately one-third of those persons are either members of the Communist party or, most definitely, have connexions with Communist organizations. Honorable members know that it is not my habit in th is chamber to say things under the cover of parliamentary privilege which I am not prepared to say outside. A number of the persons concerned may or may not be members of the Communist party. I do not know. All I know is that they propagate Communist ideas and associate with Communist organizations. I mention, for example, Dymphna Cusack, to whom the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) referred. Ever since 1941, that lady has had a continuous history of association with Communist organizations. I do not know whether she is a member of the Communist party.
– No, she is not.
– Probably, the honorable member for Parkes is better informed on that subject than I am. It may be that no member of the advisory board is a Communist; but one finds at its head Mr. Vance Palmer and Miss Florence Eldershaw, neither of whom may be a. member of the Communist party but both of whom have been associated with organizations in which Communists were prominent and which follow the Communist line! Both of those persons have done considerable service for the Communist party. When one looks at the list of persons who have received scholarships from the Commonwealth Literary Fund and finds that approximately onethird of them are either members of the Communist party, or have had definite Communist connexions, and that the chairman, of the advisory board and at least one of his advisers have a. Communist slant in their outlook, one must come to the conclusion that the body is weighted somewhere and somehow in favour of the Communist party. That is .a most dangerous thing. I shall cite one little incident that dates back some years. Two books that related to the Macquarie period were written. One was a cheap pot-boiler and the other was a scholarly and definitive work on the life of Macquarie. Whilst the pot-boiler was accepted and subsidized by the fund the work of scholarship was published subsequently without help from the fund and won world-wide acclaim. It just happens that the book that was turned down by the fund was written by a person who is noted for his antiCommunist outlook, whilst the book that was accepted was written by Barnard Eldershaw the joint authoress being Miss Eldershaw, who happens to sit on the advisory board at the moment. One need not go further than that. Any one without pretence to scholarship who examined the two books would know which was valuable and which was of no value although the latter was subsidized from the fund.
That is an instance of the way in which the Communists go to work. They have a. literary bureau whose object is to build up authors who have a Communist al ant and to pull down and deride authors who have an anti-Communist slant. It is exactly the same with honorable members opposite. Some, but not all of them, are out to praise any line that may be taken, perhaps innocently, on this side or the other side of the chamber which fits in with the Communist idea and can be used to build it up. Conversely they are always ready to deride any idea that cuts across the Communist; line. No one is more aware of that fact than I am, because a number of honorable members opposite make a trade of trying to deride anything that i3 said against communism by honorable members on this side of the chamber. It is not necessary for me to name the honorable members concerned. The point I make is that there is throughout the world - this is not peculiar to Australia - a wellsubsidized Communist literary machine the object of which is to build up the reputation of authors whose works fit in with the Communist idea and to pour scorn, or derision, upon any work of art, regardless of its merits^ that is opposed to communism. I believe in the maximum of freedom, but I do not propose to support the freedom to enslave other people. That is what the Communists do. and that is what we shall condone if we allow the present bia,s in the administration of the Commonwealth Literary Fund to continue. I think it was Aristotle in the Nicomacheon Ethics who first expounded the theory that a man who is trying to pervert the truth does not say that the truth itself is wrong but rather says, falsely, that this or that particular instance is not in accord with the truth. The Communist does not say to a person, ‘ You should not support good literature “, but rather “ You should support good literature “, and then proceeds to try to show that bad literature is good. That is the way that the Communists have very cleverly gone to work in connexion with the Commonwealth Literary Fund. I am not suggesting for a moment that the honorable gentlemen who control the fund are parties to this practice. I tlo not think that they have the time to do so, because most of them are very busy men. They have not the time to consider the full impact of the works that they sponsor. It is a very common technique to try to get innocents, who have not the time to know what they are sponsoring, to lend the weight of their reputable names to lines of propaganda which are in fact directed to Communist interests. I am not for a moment saying that every person who has received an award from the Commonwealth Literary Fund is a Communist or a Communist sympathizer. The fact is that at least two-thirds of them are not Communists. One-third of the fund has lu-en devoted to works which further the Communist cause. It is time that the committee, and particularly the honorable members who are responsible for the administration of the fund, looked further into the matter to see where they are going. I do not want to suggest, for example, that the people who were responsible for making the 1952 awards knew that Miss Tennant was very actively connected with the Communist party. Probably they did not know. She wrote a novel on travelling bees. That seems a non-party activity, but the point is that in this way these people are able to get sustenance in order to continue their Communist activities. Their association with the reputable activities in this fund is a cloak of respectability, under cover of which they carry out work for the Communist party. I am thoroughly and completely in favour of the maximum freedom, but here we are confronted by an organized clique which is out to destroy freedom.
Opposition members interjecting,
– This is a an excellent example of what I said a moment ago, that some honorable members opposite make a trade of raising their voices in derision of any activity that is opposed to communism.
– Alger Hiss used to claim that he was not a “ Comm.”
– Yes, and I remind honorable members that, of itself,, respectability is no guarantee that a man is not a Communist. People who are anti-Communist usually show it by coming out openly and honestly, and giving encouragement to those who are engaged in anti-Communist activites. Alger Hiss did not, in fact, oppose the Communists. I emphasize that one-third of the beneficiaries of the Commonwealth Literary Fund are either members of the Communist party or are associated with Communist activities. Does the committee believe that that is a fair proportion? Would a random selection- of good art produce just that? I do not think so. When one examines further the list of works tha’t have been sponsored by this fund, one must conclude that although merit along should entitle people to an award from the fund, it is easier for a pro-Communist than for an an tlCommunist to obtain such an award.
.- I cannot allow the honorable member foi Yarra (Mr. Keon) to go unsustained and unsupported. I have just had a nightmare, of positively fiendish proportions, in which I saw the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his new-found radicalism, transfer to this side of the chamber. Wonders will never cease! The apostle of liberty rose in his place and, with devastating words and resounding rhetoric, overwhelmed the pretences of the honorable member for Yarra. What was that honorable member’s cardinal sin? It was that he had the temerity, the audacity, and the effrontery to point to a somewhat extraordinary series of coincidences in that the names of people who are associated with a certain kind of political thought had appeared amongst the list of authors who have been the fortunate recipients of awards by the Commonwealth Literary Fund. The Prime Minister used a well-known psychological device. He said, in effect, “ Ah, who are the people responsible? The Leader of the Opposition -would read such things “, and then - to add weight - “ The Treasurer is a well-read man, an authority in all these things “. And then the right honorable gentleman himself delivered the body blow. Within the next five minutes he freely and candidly admitted that he did not know about the possible obscenity and blasphemy in the characteristic works of the other recipents from the fund. In his distress he turns to other writers, and again that vague hush comes over the chamber as he mentions the names of Vance Palmer and Eldershaw, but there is no reference to Dymphna Cusack, the author of Come in, Spinner. The Victorian society sent Oscar Wilde to gaol for practising the very doctrines that the self -same society recommended in its theoretical consideration of the position.
– Not entirely, old boy!
– I must stand with my colleague from Yarra. The prevailing sin of the modern literary world is conform ism. At all costs, be in the swim ! Pseudo-radicalism carries my money every time as a best-seller. And if that is’ not sufficient, the shelves of the circulating libraries call aloud the fact that if an author does his best to bring the sewer into the parlour he will probably be eligible for consideration by the Commonwealth Literary Fund Committee.
Let us come down to earth. Of course, the Prime Minister had the last say. What a wonderful weapon is prestige! Listening to him I was reminded of a member of the Victorian Parliament who had a reputation for erudition. He was always to be seen with a bundle of reading matter under his arm - probably the previous week’s copies of the Herald, if the truth were known - and he was fond of quoting from various authors. A fellow member once asked him if he had ever read The Dead Body, by the Russian author Mushensky, to which he replied, “Yes, a remarkably prof ound piece of literature “. The point is that there is no such work. The Prime Minister’s appeal to prestige does not impress me. If realism is a sign of literary progress, does the right honorable gentleman think that a work on Christian mysticism would receive the blessing of the committee? It would be easier, I think, for an author to pass through the proverbial eye of the needle than to win the favour of the committee with such a work. Let me revert to my nightmare, and say that I never thought in my unsophisticated innocence that I should hear the Prime Minister applauded for his radicalism, for his devotion to liberty, and for sentiments which may ultimately qualify him to become the fully accredited leader of the great Australian Labour party.
– I declare (a) that the Estimates of expenditure are of an urgent nature; (&) that the resolutions preliminary to the introduction of the Appropriation Bill are urgent resolutions; and (c) that the Appropriation Bill is an urgent bill.
Question put -
That the Estimates be considered of an urgent nature, that the resolutions be considered urgent resolutions, and that the Appropriation Bill be considered an urgent bill.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That the time allotted for the consideration nf the remainder of the Estimates, the Resolutions, and the stapes of the Appropriation Bill, be as follows: -
It is not an uncommon occurrence in this chamber for honorable members to 3eek
to waste the time of the House or the committee,
Opposition members interjecting,
– I think that honorable members will certainly understand my meaning when I point out that in six and a half hours this chamber has succeeded’ in passing one departmental estimate, that of the Parliament. That section of the Estimates is one of the least contentious of the matters that are at the moment exercising the attention of the chamber, and it is rather interesting-
-Order! The right honorable gentleman is referring to proceedings in committee that have not been reported to me in the House.
– I merely wished to direct attention to the fact that if the rate of discharge is maintained it will take us eleven weeks or three months to pass the Estimates. If that does not indicate a waste of time, I should like to know what does.
Mr. CALWELL (Melbourne) [4.0 J.The time that the Government has proposed for consideration of the Estimates totals 43i hours. That is not enough time to enable honorable members to discharge fittingly this important business of tuena ti on. We are being asked to vote £1,000,000,000 of public money in 43£ hours, which is at the rate of £22,000,000 an hour. And the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) affirms that that is plenty of time ! All things in life are relative, and I suppose that, comparatively, it is plenty of time in which to vote this huge amount of public money, because last year we had only fourteen and a half hours in which to vote the people’s money away at the rate of £66,000,000 an hour. However, although compared with last year we are to have plenty of time in which to discuss the Estimates, we are still not being given time enough. The practice in Canada is to spend as much as five months on consideration of the Estimates. I consider that it would be much better for Australia if we spent a good deal more time on the Estimates, particularly when the amount of money to be voted has already reached astronomical heights. It has been around the £1,000,000,000 mark for two years.We ought to be able to consider separately the proposed vote for each department, but instead we are to deal with the proposed votes in groups. I know that that is an old custom. The Government of which
I was a Minister used to do the same sort of thing, but that does not necessarily make it a good practice. I consider that we should deal with the proposed vote of each department separately. I also hope that in future we shall be given more time in which to discuss each item. Next year, of course, we may have a change of Government, and I may have to help to put my precepts into practice, in which event I shall bear in mind my present remarks. Unfortunately, next year, if we have the same Government in office-
– Order ! Thehonorable gentleman will deal with this year, and let next year look after itself.
– I am trying to hold out some hope to the overburdened and overtaxed community.
– Order ! It is not a question of hope. It is a question of a time limit.
– Exactly ! I am putting a time limit on the Government.
– Order ! That is not within the scope of the motion.
– At any rate,I hope that the Government will, on second thoughts, extend the allotted time of 43½ hours. If the Government will not do so this year, then I hope that it, or another government, will do so next year. The Opposition will require a division on the motion.
Question put -
Th at the motion(vide page 730), be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . … 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed.
Proposed vote, £2,016,000.
Department oe External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £1,851,000.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £9,661,000.
Proposed vote, £1,161,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
.- My remarks relate to the Department of External Affairs, principally the Foreign Affairs Committee which was established by the Parliament nearly twelve months ago. The scope of the committee is fettered by the terms of its charter. Its deliberations are secret and it is empowered to deal only with matters referred to it by the Minister for External Affairs. It has no power to send for persons or papers or records without the concurrence of the Minister. In its present form the committee is an innocuous body. Because of the limited charter of the committee the Opposition refused to have anything to do with it. Honorable members will recall that we endeavoured to amend the motion for the appointment of the committee to empower it to call for persons and papers, to initiate inquiries on matters which in its opinion affected the foreign policy of Australia, and to report to the Parliament from time to time the results of its deliberations. The Government rejected our proposals. The committee is required to submit reports from time to time to the Minister and we have been told that the Parliament would be informed of such reports. In the absence of notification by the Minister of the receipt of reports from the committee we can only assume that, notwithstanding the important events that have occurred recently almost on our own doorstep, the committee has not done very much work during the ten months that it has been in existence. We all are aware that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is busily occupied in carrying out his multifarious duties, as also is the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). Both have had many trips overseas. In recent months the Minister for External Affairs has visited Honolulu, Manila, Pakistan and other places andhas great difficulty in keeping in touch with the details of all the matters that concern his department. If the Foreign Affairs Committee were properly constituted, it could deal with many matters that seriously affect Australia and Australian foreign policy. Yesterday the. press reported a new development in the international sphere which greatly affects the future security of Australia. Yesterday, the Daily Mirror, under the heading “ Oil Search in New Guinea “, contained the following news item : -
The United States and the Netherlands Governments are reported to be deeply interested in the development of rich Dutch New Guinea oil resources, which could make a vital addition to Western oil supplies.
Australia is known to be vitally interested in the project and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), now in London, is reliably reported to have had discussions on the subject.
Observers point out that if the fields were developed in a big way, Indonesian labour would have to be recruited on a major scale.
They say that such a development would introduce a new factor into the renewed Indonesian claims for sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea.
It is believed that if the oil question is to be settled satisfactorily there will have to be some compromise between Dutch and Indonesian claims over Dutch New Guinea.
The Indonesian claims to Dutch New Guinea have caused concern in Australia because of the indirect threat to our defences through Eastern New Guinea, which is under Australian trusteeship. Australia favours retention of Dutch Sovereignty in Western New Guinea.
The vexed question of sovereignty over Dutch New Guinea, with the added factor of oil exploitation, is expected to blow up in October, when the Indonesians are due to send a delegation to The Hague.
The Indonesians are expected to press for revocation of the existing agreement (which permits the immigration of two million Indonesians to Dutch New Guinea) and demand full sovereignty over the country.
Although it is ten weeks since the Netherlands elections, the country is still without a stable Government to meet the impending crisis.
That is a matter which vitally affects the future security of this country. Recently, I asked the Prime Minister whether, when he was abroad, he had gleaned any information from the Netherlands Government about the emigration of Indonesians to Dutch New Guinea. The right honorable gentleman said that he had not heard anything about the matter while he was in the Netherlands, and apparently he had no knowledge of it. The Minister for External Affairs should tell the Parliament what he knows about it, if he knows anything, and should state whether the Foreign Affairs Committee has examined the position and gained any information. It appears that the Government is totally ignorant of what is happening there.
According to a report in the Sydney Daily Mirror of to-day, another menace to Australia is already looming on the horizon. The report begins as follows -
Soviet Submarines Seen off New Guinea.
Crews Land on Island.
– A question upon that matter was asked and answered this morning.
– That is so, hut, as it is a matter which vitally affects the future security of this country, the position should he watched closely. The report continues -
Frequent sightings during the past 18 months of submarines mannned by Russian and Chinese Communist .crews, off Northern New Guinea and other islands north of Australia, lias been reported to the Federal Government.
This was stated to-day by Mr. George K. Whittaker, plantation owner, .of Lae (New Guinea) and State President of the Papua, and New Guinea Returned Servicemen’s League.
Mr. Whittaker said that K.A.N, officers had chunked on reports of the appearance oE thu submarine, and had confirmed the fact that they were operating in northern New Guinea waters. He said that in one instance natives on Emira Island had’ reported that one submarine had landed members of its crew there. ( Emira Island lies between New Guinea and the Equator and is under Australian mandate.)
The reports indicated that the crew wa.s (.nin posed of Russians and Chinese, said Mr. Whittaker. Emira was a big American base during the war and had good aircraft strips or it. In another instance, an ex-naval officer hari sighted a submarine off Finchenhaven (Northern New Guinea).
Commenting on Mr. Whittaker’s claim, the Minister for the Navy, Mr. McMahon, said to-day. “ We have had many reports but not one of a sufficiently reliable grading to lead to the conclusion that submarines arc operating there “.
Those reports come from reliable sources and relate to a matter that should be of vital interest to the people of this country as well as to the appropriate Minister and the Foreign Affairs Committee, if that body is functioning at all. We support the principles of the United Nations, and hope that some time in the distant future, an ideal state of society will be established, but we must not keep our heads in the clouds. We must keep our feet firmly on the ground. The Korean incident has proved that we may have to fight to uphold the principles that we espouse in the United Nations.
We realize that goodwill is essential before we can bridge the gulf that exists between us and the races who live to the north of this continent. It may be that, ultimately, we shall bridge the gulf with our Christian philosophy, but I believe that we should also adopt the principle expounded by an American general during the American War of Independence, and while trusting in the Lord, keep our powder dry. In our attempts to establish and maintain friendly relations with the peoples to the north of us, we must be realistic, especially as our immigration policy may be misrepresented to them, and, consequently, appear to. be somewhat provocative. Numbers are of great importance. Whoever organizes the Asiaticraces will dominate the world. At thepresent time, there is a struggle in progress in the Orient between the forces of the right and the forces of the left, but eventually they may come together. It is easy to say, as some people do, that while China and Japan are divided, weshall be all right. But history has a habit of repeating itself. Hitler and Stalin came together, and concluded a Moscow-Berlin pact. If China and Japan were to come together, under thecontrol of either the forces of the left or those of the right, this country would be confronted with a dire situation. TheForeign Affairs Committee should deal with matters of that kind, and shouldnot worry too much about problems moreremote from this country.
We should watch what is going on in the East, especially in Japan. A great struggle is in progress for the control of that country. That was made clearin an article published in the Sydney Sim recently. The article was written, by Mr. Richard Hughes, who has been in Japan for some time and has a good knowledge of the situation there.. The article reads as follows: -
JAPANESE TRADE UNIONS NOW DRIFTING TOWARDS THE LEFT.
Menaced by Red infiltrators and oldstyleJapanese reactionary assassins, Japan’s misled,, disunited and inexperienced trade union movement is drifting into dark arid perilous courses. . .
At present there are 27,044 Trade Unions inJapan, totalling 5,690,000 members. Thesefigures represent a decrease of 1,500 -unions and 87,000 unionists since 1950, accounted’ for by fluctuations in business and reorganization of unions.
The actual number of known or avowedCommunist Party members in this large, if ill-led and slightly bewildered, army is from- 20,000 to 30,000.
These unionists are still outnumbered by non-organised workers, farmers and whitecollar employees.
Like United States labor (divided into the American Federation of Labour and the Congress of Industrial Organisations), the Japanese trade union movement is fundamentally divided into Sohyo (General Federation of Labor Unions) and Sanbetsu (Congress of Industrial Unions), with a large minority bloc of small unions preferring to stand - or wander - alone.
The Occupation sponsored this great union movement, but failed to organise it on healthy and stable lines.
The unions have since forced valuable improvements in wages and conditions - although the average wage-earner in Japan is still paid less than £3 a week and more than 90 per cent, of the workers get less than £0 a week.
However, Japanese reactionaries and Rightist elements are now beginning to strike back at the Trade Unions.
The smear word Rodobatsu ( Laborism) has been coined to connote a malign opportunistic clique manipulating the workers’ power like the old Gambatsu (militarist caste) and Zaibatsu (family industrial monopoly).
Despite the pleas of Mr. Willard S. Townsend, secretary-general of the United States C.I.O., who personally attended the meeting, delegates of Sohyo, representing 3.000.000 unionists, refused to link with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions at their recent Tokio convention.
In a subsequent test of strength, extreme Leftist candidates were elected to all key positions- in the Sohyo executive, which is now firmly pledged to an early peace treaty with Soviet Russia and Red China, trade with Red China and permanent neutrality, and resolutely opposed to rearmament, the lease of military bases ‘and the retention of United Nations Security troops in Japan.
On all these points, the Japanese unionists are thus in complete accord with Japanese Communist policy although in official fact and theory confusedly opposed to the Communist party and all its works.
Against this background of brawling discord and growing disunity, the huge Mitsokushi department store in Tokio has just given a lead to anti-union forces by dismissing 11 highly-placed union officials who have been held responsible for losses to the firm through successful strikes for overtime pay “last year. Here, then, is one of the tragic failures of the Occupation.
The Japanese trade union movement should have been the West’s most useful, profitable and lasting investment - in that the workers want precisely what the West wants in Japan : shorter working hours, higher wages and improved conditions.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– It’ honorable members look at the schedule of salaries and allowances in respect of the Department of the Treasury they will gain some idea of the important and essential part which the Treasury plays in an economy such as ours. They will see that the Department of the Treasury is divided into branches, such as the Budget and Accounting Branch, the Banking Trade and Industry Branch, the General Financial and Economic Policy Branch, the Loans and General Services Branch, the Social Services Branch, and the Insurance and Capital Issues Branch. In addition, there are. Sub-Treasuries in the various States, and officers stationed in London and Washington. The honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) recently referred to the absence of real information to assist honorable members in appreciating how the estimated expenditure ji more than £1,000,000,000 during tnt current financial year is to be made. An example of the “ missing link “ method of presentation of Government accounts is provided by the fact that, of the £9,661,000 total estimated expenditure by the Department of the Treasury, £2,250,000 is earmarked to provide for the basic wage increase which occurred this month. The fact that such a large sum must be set aside, of course, emphasizes the rate of increase of inflation in only one-quarter of the year.’ an increase which applies only to one section of the Government economy and which takes no account of the increased rate of inflation in commercial organizations.
In the United Kingdom and the United States of America, where the domestic situation is comparable to that of Australia,’ an attempt is made to estimate in advance what the economic situation of the community will be in relation to both government departments and industry generally. It appears that the Department of the Treasury, at least, is building up the kind of “ know-how “ to be in a position shortly to present information of that kind to the Australian community.
The work of the Bureau of Census and Statistics is closely linked with that of the Treasury, because the kind of information which members of Parliament so often require can be properly obtained only from suitable statistical material. Usually when honorable members wish to acquire certain information about the health of the Australian economy they find that gaps exist. For instance, some time ago I asked the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), upon notice, for information concerning ‘ the loan market. I wished to know the proportion of individual investment to the total amount of government debt, how much is owed to financial institutions, and to companies and the like. The right honorable gentleman informed me that it was not the policy of the Government to divulge such information. I suggest that information of that kind should be divulged to the public at large. I did not wish to know how much of the public debt is owed to John Smith or Tom Brown. I merely wanted some statistics regarding proportions. The same secrecy does not exist in the United States of America, where it is possible to obtain from the Treasury information setting out how much of the national debt is owed to individuals, to government agencies and to institutions, such as corporations. In Australia, if one desires to know the interest rate, for instance, the knowledge can be acquired only if one goes to investors in the money market. I can see no reason why, when Commonwealth loans have been closed, a statement showing precisely how much has been invested, the classes of persons who have invested, and the categories of investment should not be made. For instance, the statement could show how many persons invested £100, how many invested between £100 and £500, between £500 and £1,000, and so on. Such a table could be prepared without divulging information which might endanger the Australian economy. On the contrary, it would enable people outside this country properly to assess the health of our economy and to ascertain the kind of people to whom our huge national debt of approximately £3,000,000,000 is owed. I understand that approximately a. quarter of that amount is held by the various agencies of the Australian Government, such as the Commonwealth
Bank and the National Debt Sinking Fund, which simply means that the Government has taken funds from one mythical pocket of the Treasury and put them into another. If information were supplied in greater detail about suchmatters it would enable the public to assess the effect of the national debt upon the community and also the implications of the all-important matter of the interest rate, which the Treasurer is so prone to say is the responsibility of the Australian Loan Council. Any treasurer who is prepared consistently to make that claim in my opinion is recreant to his duty.
– The Labour Government Treasurer must have been recreant to his duty for eight years !.
– At least our Treasurer had a firm interest rate policy. The present Treasurer, in the last six months, has raised the interest rate from 3^ per cent, to almost 5 per cent. Every increase of 1 per cent, in the interest bill means that approximately £30,000,000 must be collected by means of taxes. Yet the right honorable gentleman says that the interest rate is no concern of his.
– I did not say any such thing
– It is certainly of considerable concern to the people of Australia. Honorable members on this side of the chamber maintain that a cheap money policy should be pursued in the interests of the Australian community, not only because of the effect of such a policy on public finance, but also because of its effect on other finance, including that for home building, which is most important to the ordinary individual. If the mortgage rate of interest goes up from 4-J- to 5 per cent, or 5-J- per cent, it can add up to 20 per cent, to the capital cost of home building. The Australian Government must act as a central planning body. Even though these loans are raised by the States and the Commonwealth through the Loan Council they are still Commonwealth loans. The Australian Government is still largely responsible for the management of the National Debt Sinking Fund and that government, directly or indirectly through its agencies, is ultimately responsible for the greatest part of the national debt. The interest payable on that part of the debt which 13 attributable directly to the Australian Government has a substantial effect on the annual financial transactions of the Commonwealth.
The interest rate payable in Australia was once 3 J- per cent, but recently a semigovernmental institution found it necessary to float a loan at the high rate of 5 per cent. Consequently, the price of the service rendered by that body has had to be increased in order that the additional interest may be paid. I do not know why the Australian Loan Council cannot arrange the notation of semigovernmental loans at a low rate by granting subscribers the same concession as that which is enjoyed by subscribers to Commonwealth loans. The Government would not miss the rebate of 2s. in the £1 which is the concession allowed on income derived from Commonwealth loans. When the State Electricity Commission of Victoria wishes to borrow money it has to float a loan at a rate of interest up to % per cent, higher than the Commonwealth loan rate. From the investor’s point of view, an investment in a Commonwealth loan at 3f per cent, is equivalent to an investment at 4-1? per cent, in a non-Commonwealth loan because of the taxation concession that may be claimed in respect of income from Commonwealth loans.
There is ‘ no good reason for the wrangling that has taken place between the Commonwealth and the States on the subject of financial allocations. We are all people of the Australian nation but, unfortunately, because of constitutional -difficulties, a great part of the responsibility foi’ the construction of public works still rests with the States although financial resources have tended to gravitate to the Commonwealth. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) have suggested that the States should regain their taxing rights. That suggestion will not provide a solution of the problem. A satisfactory method of re-distributing fairly to the States the amount of revenue collected from their citizens is required. It is a defeatist and retrograde step to -abandon the scheme of uniform taxation.
Whilst the Prime Minister has boldly stated that he will hand back taxing rights to the States, he has not stated how much revenue he will retain far the Commonwealth.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I desire to deal with Division 47, Department of the Treasury - Superannuation Board. The position of superannuated officers has deteriorated year by year as social services payments have been increased. I am proud of the fact that during the last few years the lot of the aged pensioners has been greatly improved. Under the Government’s proposals a married, couple in receipt of the age pension will be entitled to receive a total income of £9 15s. a week, made up of £3 7s. 6d. a week each in pension together with an additional £3 a week in permissible earnings. During the last few years, while this Government has been in office, the aged have received the benefit of a free medical service and free medicine as well as other benefits such as reduced wireless fees. While these very welcome improvements have been effected the situation of the superannuated officers has become completely hopeless. Their position is far worse, relatively, than it would have been if they had not contributed to superannuation funds. Civil servants both in State and Commonwealth departments are compelled by law to contribute to superannuation funds. A portion of their salaries is deducted in order to provide for their retirement benefits but when their time for retirement comes they are not better off - and in many cases they are worse off - than they would have been if they had not contributed anything. Many contributors to private superannuation schemes and many people who have provided for their old age in other ways are in a similar position. If a superannuated officer or any other person who has put aside a small amount each week to provide for his old age has an income of £3 or £4 a week in his old age, he either loses the age pension altogether or receives a reduced pension. Also, unless he receives the pension wholly or in part he is not entitled to the benefit of free medical services and free medicine. There is gradually developing in this community an opinion that it is not worthwhile saving because the person who saves is punished by being deprived of social benefits.
– -Did the honorable member raise this matter in the party room?
– As I have pointed out on many occasions in this chamber, there is only one solution of this problem, aud that is the total abolition of the means test, which the Labour Government failed to. abolish during the eight years that it was in office. [ make no bones about having urged repeatedly in this chamber that the means test on age pensions be abolished. I shall continue my campaign until it” is abolished. If action is not taken to remove the means test the community will suffer a wound that will not easily heal. Australia cannot progress unless its people save their money, because only through the savings pf the people can be provided the capital equipment that is necessary to develop the country. Without savings there can be no progress in industry, whether it be primary or secondary.
Year by year it is becoming more apparent that the people are reluctant to save. In our present circumstances why should they save? Could any honest person -to-day advise a fellow citizen to join a voluntary superannuation fund unless it could be made clear that he could thus save over £10,000 in his lifetime? I mention that sum because unless a person could save £10,000 the interest from his savings Would not amount to as much as the age pension. That is becoming widely known throughout the community, and rightly so, and the people are reluctant to save. Thai has been shown by the failure of some Commonwealth loans and loans raised by public utilities. Members of the State and Federal public services feel frustrated because they are compelled by law to pay into superannuation funds. Yet at the end of their working lives, after having paid into the funds for many years, they find that their pensions are often less than they would have received from the “age pension if they had not been contributors to superannuation funds. At present the Government is in a dilemma. It must either abolish the means test or abolish superannuation schemes. It is not fair to compel persons to contribute to superannuation funds in order to provide pensions for their old age and then to punish them by refusing to give to them age pensions which all those who have not saved are entitled to receive.
I know that the Government is giving serious consideration to methods of abolishing the means test, but I hope that there will be no further delay and that early next year it will do somethingdefinite about the matter. I am not unmindful of the difficulties involved in the removal of the means test, and of the fact that if it is removed the, people will be required to make some contribution, but I believe that 90 per cent, of the people will gladly contribute to a scheme that will give to them real security in their old. age. If such a scheme were introduced, the people would not only receive their statutory pensions when they retire, but also have the benefit of any money that they had been able to save, and of any money that they were able to earn. At present we say to a man who has retired, “Look, old chap, if you do not: give up all work we shall not give to you any social benefits “. I remind honorable members that we say that at a time when every one is agreed that our most urgent need is increased production. Therefore, it will be seen that the means test not only destroys the incentive to save but also militates against increased production. We should not tell people that if they are wicked enough to save they will be deprived of the age pension. The abolition of the means test has been debated ever since I have been a member of the Parliament. Perhaps I have mentioned it more than has any other honorable member, but the time has now arrived when the people of Australia are saying with almost one voice, “We demand that the means test be abolished “.
– I support many of the remarks of the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson). I agree that it is altogether wrong that people who have paid into savings schemes for many years to provide for their old age should ultimately find themselves in a worse position than those who have not saved Id. Therefore, I urge the Government to ase the means test as quickly and to as groat a degree as possible so that those who have been thrifty during their lives will reap the benefit of their thrift. I have received many letters from my constituents who are retired members of public services. Some years ago, when the Government was trying to induce retired people to return to their employment, many members of the public services, particularly railway employees, returned to work. By returning to work in order to help the Government, their earnings plus their superannuation placed their incomes in high taxation brackets. Consequently they suffered considerable loss bv working. I shall cite an example to illustrate my point. A certain man worked in the New South Wales Department of Railways until he retired, and then received a super annua tion pension of £302 per annum. Some years ago he accepted a. position with a private employer at a salary of £460 per annum. Because his total income was £762 per annum his income tax was £63 8s. i suggest, that that is a typical and not an isolated case, and that consideration should be given to a reduction of the tax in such cases. I suggest that income tax be not levied on a superannuation pension because it relieves the Commonwealth of the payment of an age pension, or, .alternatively, that it be assessed separately on income from a superannuation pension and from other sources, in order that retired persons may have an incentive to accept other employment and thus aid production. Had this been done in the case mentioned, the taxpayer would have been saved £24. 19s. 5d. I raised this- matter in the Parliament some time, ago, and the Government referred it to the special committee dealing with taxation. I mention it again now so that the Government will not lose sight of the fact that there are many people in our community who are suffering financially because they are working instead of remaining in retirement on their superannuation pensions.
I now desire to refer to another matter that I thought would have been mentioned by honorable members of the. Australian Country party. Last financial year wool-growers were forced to pay their taxes in advance.
– The wool-growers made a contribution; they did not pay tax.
– I do not care what it is called, the fact remains that the wool-growers’ money was used by the Government free of interest. Yet if a wool-grower to-day is required to pay £20,000 as income tax and asks for time to pay in respect of £10,000 of it, the Taxation Branch will allow time to pay but will charge him 6 per cent, interest. Surely it is most unreasonable that the Government, having -used the wool-growers’ money last year without paying any interest on it, should this year charge them 6 per cent, interest on the tax that they cannot afford to pay immediately. I trust that the Government will give further consideration to these discrepancies, which unfairly affect two sections of the community, before it frames the legislation that will be necessary to provide for the collection and disbursement of taxes for the current year.
.- I support the .comments of the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) in relation to the Government’s approach to the problem of abolishing the means test. As I have said in this chamber previously, there are three distinct areas in the Robertson electorate in which a large percentage of the population consists of persons who are dependent upon pensions, various forms ‘ of superannuation or, in some instances, capital savings that have been accumulated by personal effort over many years and are now being dissipated. In my opinion, these individuals are the hardest hit by the means test of any section of the community. I have had many talks with them and have studied their ideas on the subject of abolishing the means test. Some of them have been good enough to prepare schemes and submit them in writing. These plans have been conveyed to the Minister for Social Services (Mr.
Townley) and, I believe, have been of great assistance to him. The abolition of the means test is an objective that the Government has embodied in its declared policy. It is an objective that is to be desired from a national point of view. Australians who suffer because of the application of the means test are amongst the nation’s best citizens. They have led their own lives in an independent, way and have provided for their years of retirement to the best of their ability by means of their individual efforts. It is up to us and the Government to ensure that they shall not be unfairly penalized by the means test. We have a responsibility to encourage thrift in the community so that it may continue to be a part of the Australian way of life. 1 know that the former Minister for Social Services began to formulate a plan for the abolition of the means test and that the present Minister and his departmental officers have worked bard to bring that plan to completion. The honorable member for Sturt and I, and other honorable members on this side of the chamber, have had discussions with the Minister on this subject and have, made constructive suggestions with the object of helping him. I now support the comments of the honorable member for Sturt and express the hope that a scheme for the abolition of the means test will bc introduced at the earliest opportunity.
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) 1 4.58]. - I bring to the notice of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) a grave anomaly in the taxation laws which, I am sure, the right honorable gentleman would not defend for a moment if he were aware of its existence. The anomaly existed for many years before be came to office, and I am certain that he will take prompt stops to remedy it now that I have brought it to his notice. I refer to the great injustice that is involved in the levying of tax on insurance payments received by victims of poliomyelitis who have had the foresight to insure against that particular misfortune. 1 ask the Treasurer to give special consideration to this injustice with a view to waiving what might normally bc regarded as sufficiently strong technicalities to justify the rejection of claims for the exemption from tax of such payments.
The situation is that, if a person insures against poliomyelitis and later falls a victim to the disease, tax is levied upon all payments that he receives from the insurance company. That is very unfair, especially when one considers the fact that tax is not levied on any of the proceeds of a normal insurance policy for, say. £3,000, that matures, for example, when the insured person reaches the age of K5 years.
– ils the honorable gentleman referring to specific insurance against the one affliction?
– It is not a general sickness insurance policy?
– N–.. As far as I am aware, the anomaly has never been brought to the attention of the. Treasurer. It has come to my notice only recently. I am certain that the Treasurer has never rejected a plea on behalf of these unfortunate victims of poliomyelitis.
I shall put a specific case to him and I think that he will agree that my proposition is reasonable. It is the case of a man who has given to me permission to use his name. I shall not broadcast the name, but I shall give all the details to the Treasurer later. I shall quote the man’s letter because it states his case better than I can state it. The letter is as follows: -
Fortunately 1 was covered by insurance, and appealed against the assessment, but by the attached form recently received from the Taxation Department you will see that I was not successful. By the time I receive my next assessment I will be liable in all for at least £200. All amounts due to the’ Department up to date have been paid.
I received advice from a taxation specialist that I. would be wasting time and money to appeal to a Board of Review, and I cannot afford to 20 to the High Court.
This gentleman is one of the few who have been honest enough to reveal in their income tax returns the fact that they have received insurance payments. He knows of several recipients of insurance against poliomyelitis who have not included such payments in their returns, in the belief that the money is not taxable, and therefore have not paid tax on it. The letter continues -
In World War II. I served for over o years in Australia, .being too old for service overseas. Rank on discharge was Flight Lieutenant, R.A.A.F. (Admin.”). 1 find it hard to believe that any Governnent would want to take money deliberately from people who have been through the misery of polio, and feel that relief should be given to all sufferers from polio. I realize that, as there is no exemption in the act, thC Taxation Commissioner must assess the amounts received as income. But I feel that the Federal Treasurer should give all polio, sufferers exemption from taxation of insurance monies, and that such exemption should be back dated to enable all monies paid to be refunded in full.
T hope .that my letter is not too long, but this is my first chance to write on the subject and I have let myself go.
X wish to add that my wife contracted polio, in August 1949 (7 months before 1 did) and she was only starting to move round when I contracted it. During her illness I had to carry the burden, as she was not insured. . . You can use this letter in any way you wish. I had treatment ( exercises ) for two years under a physio-therapist, and completed the course last May. Since then, I have had to continue supervised treatment for both my feet, and do not know when this will finish.
The taxation law provides that if a father insures himself against poliomyelitis and contracts the disease, he is assessed for income tax purposes on the whole of the insurance payments that he receives. If a father insures a child against poliomyelitis, he does not have to pay income tax on the insurance that is paid to him, although he loses the benefit of the concessional deduction in respect of the child for that year. Maturing life insurance policies are not assessable as income for taxation purposes, and a person who is insured by his employer is assessable only on 5 per cent, of the amount that he receives. This man had to pay tax on all the insurance payments that he received on contracting poliomyelitis.
– If the honorable member will give to me the details of that case, I shall look into it.
– In order to be fair to the Treasurer, I must inform the committee that this case has not been brought to his notice before. Only a few cases are affected because very few people who contract poliomyelitis are insured and very few who are insured contract poliomyelitis. This man was insured for £20 a week, and he has collected £20 a week for 100 weeks. T should be grateful if the Treasurer would treat this ease as a special one.
– I shall do so. 1 promise the honorable member that.
.- From published reports, it is clear that Japan in its internal struggle can go either to the left or to the right under a totalitarian regime instead of being a democracy, well disposed towards the western powers under the aegis of the United Nations and particularly the United States of America, as was intended at the conclusion of World War II. A spirit of hatred is being fostered by some sections- of the community in Japan and that nation is again becoming a menace to Australia. Whether the .trend be to the left or to the right, there is every possibility that the peoples of Asia will ultimately be joined together in one way or another. On the basis of economic and racial interests alone, that must inevitably be the tendency. They may join in a co-prosperity sphere similar to that which Japan endeavoured to organize before World War II., or in a Pan-Asiatic scheme on a racial basis. If another Hitler or a Genghis Khan arose, the great masses of the people to the north of Australia could be united. Instead of going westward, as they did under Genghis Khan to overrun Asia and one-half of Europe in ten years, they must move to the south. Their economic interests, apart from any racial antipathies that may have arisen from the recent struggle, must tend to drive them in that, direction. . They will revive the old cry of lebensraum or living space. We must be watchful for such a contingency.
When Japan launched its forces into World War II., one of Japan’s military leaders said that to them it was the opening phase of a 1.00 years war. If they lost in the first ten years, they would still have 90 years to go. The Japanese will not repeat the mistakes that they rnade in the last war. Our memories are short. In the midst of our petty problems, we are apt Jo. forget what happened only a few years ago. I. remind honorable members of the battle of the Coral Sea when the Japanese were only a few hours sail from the Australian coastline with 80 shiploads of troops ready to be landed. I remember that fateful morning. A Minister came to me in this building and said with tears in his eyes, “ It appears that we shall soon be the slaves of a foreign foe “. By a miracle, that invading army was turnedback, but the enemy may not repeat his mistakes again. That was only a testing period for the Japanese. Looking back, it is laughable when we recall that at a time whenwe were erecting barbed wire entanglements and concrete obstacles at Coogee and Bondi, we had 1,500 miles of unguarded coastline and the Japanese had only to come ashore in sampans and canoes. They tested our defences then and we have been warned. Previously, we took opposition lightly. We had warnings before the last war when pearlers were off our coastline and some native women were carried away in luggers manned -by the Japanese. There are signs of similar activities now. It is of no use saying that these people are not fighters and that they have no navy. They have much ‘more effective means now of reaching our shores. Submarines have been reported off the shores of islands that are under the trusteeship of Australia. Our potential enemies have submarines and jet aircraft at their disposal, and if Japan should link with them, they would add the Japanese potential to their strength. We should not have another chance.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) directed attention to this menace in a striking article that was published in the Sun in Sydney on the 26th August under the heading, “ Our empty North lacks Protection “.’ An accompanying illustration showed a line - I might call it the Calwell line - running across Australia from Bundaberg to Carnarvon slightly to the north of the famous Brisbane line. To the south of that line is practically one-half of Australia. It has an area of 1,500,000 square miles and a population of 8,300,000. North of it in an area of approximately equal size there are 300,000 people. We have controlled that sparsely populated area until now. As the honorable member for Melbourne stated in that article - “ Our empty North “ is not merely an empty phrase. Rather, it is an ominous one.
Thirty years ago Prime Ministers like Bruce and Hughes were saying quite confidently, no doubt on the advice of their defence experts, that Australia could never be successfully invaded.
That belief obtained right until that fateful day in February, 1942, when Singapore fell.
Our smug belief that distance saved us from the evil of invasion perished on the Sunday morning when most of the United States Pacific fleet went to the bottom of Pearl Harbour under the planes of the Japanese air force that was alleged up to that time to have been of poor quality in both machines and airmen.
The longer we leave our empty North as empty as it is to-day the sooner will Australian youths have to fight the battle for Australia on Australian soil.
We have a vast continent and the damage done to it by Japan in World War II. occurred almost entirely north of a line that runs through Australia nearly 1,000 miles from Brisbane.
Such things are only 10 years old and yet are nearly all forgotten.
We have mesmerised ourselves into the belief that these things will never happen again and. if they do, we will be as successful in the next war as we were in the last one.
We are gambling with death if we continue in that mood, because it will not only be death for the brave young men and anyone else who gets in the way of the invading enemy - it might even be the death of our nation.
The honorable gentleman proceeded to point out that if we fail to populate the empty north, we shall lose Australia. I do not propose to develop that subject, because it may be raised again when another proposed vote is under consideration. But, surely, the signs of the times should put us on our guard. According to a recent report, the French Government proposes to permit 2,000 Japanese to go to New Caledonia, which is only a few hundred miles from the Australian coast. We must be ever-watchful and alert. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. I contend that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) should explain to honorable members the policy of the Government regarding the matters that I have raised, lie should also give to the chamber some information about the work of the Foreign Affairs Committee, if it is still functioning. We should not follow an ostrich-like policy, as the Government appears to be doing, towards a menace to the security of the nation in the future.
.- The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) have made a plea for the abolition of the means test. I assume that they advocate, not the easing or liberalization, but the removal of the means test. Therefore, I naturally conclude that both. honorable gentlemen have pressed the Government at party meetings to give effect to such a policy. Or are they merely making speeches in this chamber for the purpose of appeasing some of their electors, who may have been making demands upon them to advocate this necessary reform ? It is well that the people should be made aware of the fact that those two honorable gentlemen are merely stunting in this chamber, and playing the game of party politics, in the hope that their electors will be deluded into the belief that they are making a genuine move to secure the abolition of the means test. In point of fact, they have not done anything towards the achievement of that objective. They are not sincere. They are playing the game of party politics.
Both honorable members referred to the policy speech delivered by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during the general election campaign in .1949, in which he promised the removal of the means test by .1952. That scheme was to be prepared in time to be submitted to the electors for their approval by this year. Well, this is August, 1952. Let any Government supporter or the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) tell the chamber definitely when this scheme is to be presented to the people for their consideration and decision.- The electors would like to have that .information.
Probably, the honorable member for Sturt and the honorable member for Robertson hope to be able to go before the people next year, when the Government will be battling to secure the return of a majority of anti-Labour senators, and say, “ the Government has the scheme under consideration “ or “ the scheme is in the course of preparation”. As a matter of fact, this is the first time that the matter has been raised in the chamber by a Government supporter since the general election in 1949. Opposition members have placed questions upon the notice-paper in an endeavour to obtain information about the position, but have been unable to secure a definite statement about the Government’s intentions regarding the abolition of the means test. My own opinion is that, whilst we all hope that the means test will be abolished as soon as possible, our most urgent problem at the moment is the need to improve the conditions of pensioners who have no other income. I emphasize that pensions rates should be increased in order to meet the needs of the recipients. Yet honorable gentlemen opposite try to excuse themselves for supporting a government that has been responsible for the deterioration of the value of money, and the placing of pensioners in a desperate position. They support this Government which has announced its decision to increase pensions by three half-crowns a week.
– The preceding Labour Government did not increase pensions by more than 7s. 6d. a week at one time.
– I am not contending that any government, regardless of its political views, ever did as much as it should have done for those unfortunate people. However, when a Labour government was in office, the proportion that the pension bore to the basic wage was higher than it will be when the present, rate of pension is increased by 7s. 6d. a. week. If the Government intended to restore the value of the pension to its former level, the new rate of pension would be 4 a week.
I now propose to direct attention to the extravagance displayed bv the Department of External Affairs. Whilst I recognize that Australia should be properly represented in various countries, J. should like an explanation of the reason why the expenditure upon the Australian Embassy in the United States of America has increased by £77,000 per annum since the appointment of Sir Percy Spender as Australian Ambassador to Washington. We read in the press of the great changes that have been effected by Sir Percy and Lady Spender, and how they squander public money on redecoration, new dwellings and new office accommodation. I road in the social columns of one newspaper that Lady Spender, for one reception, had flowers flown to Washington from a distant part of the world. Sir Percy has the reputation of being most generous in his tastes when he is spending public money. When the ANZUS Conference was held at Honolulu ‘recently, Sir Percy and Lady Spender lived in grand style, as they always do when their expenses are paid with public money. According to reports, they stayed at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which, I understand, is the most exclusive and expensive hotel in Honolulu. The’ bill, I am informed, was £33 daily for each person. That lavish expenditure from the public purse is interesting when we consider the miserable way in which the Government treats the age and invalid pensioners - the pioneers who developed and made this country what it is to-day.
– Was the hotel tariff £33 for each person?
– Yes, £33 for each person daily. Extravagances are evident in other directions. The cost of our diplomatic representation in Japan - our farmer enemy - is to be £83,000 in the initial year. The Republic of Ireland is the most poorly treated of the countries with which we exchange diplomatic representatives. A. person could be excused for thinking that the Republic of Ireland was an unimportant country, if the attitude of this Government to it is a reliable guide, and that Ireland had not made any contribution to the greatness of Australia. But the Government treats the matter in such a cavalier fashion that it has failed to appoint a fully credentialled representative at Dublin since our previous representative there, Mr. William Dignam, returned to this country. The only excuse that the Government has been able to give for this failure is that it has not been able to find a suitable man to fill this important post. Of all the countries in which Australia is represented, the cost of representation is least in the Republic of Ireland. The proposed vote for that item for this year is £12,000. Apparently, Australia is now being represented in the Republic of Ireland by the office boy at our legation in Dublin. The Government has stalled time after time when it has been pressed to fill this important post.
– What about Moscow?
– Whilst the Government claims to have withdrawn its fully credentialled representative from Russia, it still sets aside considerable sums for representation in that country. Let us approach this matter on a comparative basis. I do not suggest for one moment that provision should not be made for Australian representation in any country where it is shown that we have need to be represented. Indeed, I support that procedure. But when such representation is provided in insignificant countries, it is difficult to understand why the Government has failed to fill the vacant post in the Republic of Ireland.
The Government, from time to time, advances all sorts of grandiose schemes in respect of international affairs merely because some of its Ministers believe that they are great world figures. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), for instance, regards himself as being a world figure and our present Ambassador at Washington also regards himself in the same light. No member of the Government is of such stature in world affairs as he assumes himself to be. The Government develops ail sorts of schemes for providing assistance to Asian countries in order to enable those countries to overcome their problems and improve the standard of living of their peoples. It seems rather peculiar that while it has been expending millions of pounds in that direction, the honorable member -for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) and the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) should have been appealing to it repeatedly in this chamber to alleviate the distress that had resulted from the floods that have occurred in New South Wales.
Other Government supporters claim that the Commonwealth has agreed to make assistance available to the States for this purpose on a £l-for-£l basis. However, we find that whilst the Government has provided millions of pounds to alleviate distress among the peoples of Asia it has provided only £20,000 to alleviate distress that has resulted from floods that have occurred in this country. The Government has neglected its duty in refusing to make financial grants to make it possible for the States to undertake flood prevention works. The honorable member for Paterson made a speech recently in which he played up to his electors. He said that the Commonwealth cannot do anything in the direction of preventing floods in the Hunter Valley because it is not empowered to undertake such works.’ If he reads the Constitution he will find that the Commonwealth has ample power to make finance available to the States for specific works. The Commonwealth can make grants to the States and earmark the money for special purposes. It could do so in this instance. I am informed that the construction of only eight weirs in the Hunter Valley Would be sufficient to prevent floods in that area, but the honorable member who claims to represent a part of that area merely endeavour to place this responsibility solely upon the Government of New South Wales. The Prime Minister, upon his return from overseas recently, stated that in any future world conflict Australia’s principal role would be’ that ‘ of a supplier of food. If that be so, the Commonwealth, which is responsible for the defence of Australia, must acknowledge its responsibility to see that everything possible shall be done to increase food production. ‘ But what is it doing in that direction ? It is starving the State Governments of finance that they urgently need to undertake essential works. I say frankly that the Commonwealth would be fully justified in classifying flood prevention projects in the. Hunter Valley as defence works as their object would be to increase food production. Consequently, the Government should make the requisite finance avail-:, able for that purpose out of the sum of £200,000,000 that it is providing for de- fence for the current financial year. However, interminable wrangling continues between the States and the Commonwealth over the provision of finance for essential projects with the result that such projects are not undertaken and the community as a whole suffers. In this matter the people want action.
I refer now to statements that the ‘ Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) presents to the Parliament from time to time on international affairs. An honorable member opposite spoke about the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs. I do not know the nature of the information that the Minister supplies to that committee, because the Opposition refuses to be represented on it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time, has expired.
.- The contribution that the honorable member for East Sydney (.Mr. Ward) has made to this debate in respect of international affairs does not reflect any serious purpose in the Opposition’s approach- to that very important subject. Most honorable members, upon reflection, would agree that, at present, having regard to the state of the world, few subjects call for more serious, thoughtful and sober debate than do matters that relate to international affairs. However, the honorable member for East Sydney, prompted, as usual, by his cornerman, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), ha3 merely given a sort of entertainment based on the destruction of other people’s reputations; The honorable member for East Sydney said that expenditure in respect of the Australian Embassy at Washington had been greatly increased immediately after the appointment of the present Ambassador, who was formerly a member of this Parliament, had been announced. If the honorable member had chosen to cite the exact figures he would have found, and the committee would have learned, that the proposed salaries vote is only £17,000 above the actual expenditure that was incurred during the last financial year.
– No; it is £70,000 in excess of last year’s estimate.
– Whereas the sum of £127,301 was expended last year, the proposed vote for the current financial year is £145,200. First, that increase is accounted for under the heading of salaries and allowances, which are to be increased by approximately £5,000 due to the provision of additional positions in connexion with materials supply for twelve months whereas financial provision had to be made for only a portion of last financial year. In addition, annual increments of salary and increases of salary payable under arbitration awards have been provided for. Secondly, the increase is in respect of temporary and casual employees” arising from the provision of additional positions in the materials supply section and the’ appointment of a press attach6- and locally engaged employees who are required to staff additional office space that has been leased mainly as a result of the establishment of a materials supply section. Thus, only one additional section is being provided for at the Australian Embassy at Washington and, as a consequence, provision in respect of salaries and allowances has been increased by approximately £17,000. The proposed vote provides for no increase of expenditure under the heading of general expenses, which includes travelling and subsistence, postage, maintenance and other items.
In a characteristic way, the honorable member for East Sydney went on to talk about the wife of our Ambassador at Washington and suggested that some sort of profligacy at the public taxpayers’ expense was involved in her attendance at the conference that was held recently at Honolulu. No portion of Lady Spender’s costs in Honolulu was defrayed by the Commonwealth. Once again, on a basis of complete falsity, the honorable member for East Sydney has made these damaging innuendoes about the wife of a1 person in public office, the wife of a person who is representing Australia ‘abroad. It is a poor kind of contribution for honorable members opposite to make to a discussion of international affairs. .
– What did our Ambassador’s accommodation in Honolulu cost?
– I am not possessed of exact information about the cost of the accommodation of the Ambassador, but it was such as is customarily incurred by people who attend such conferences. Surely honorable members opposite agree that any one who represents us overseas, particularly a man who occupies a senior position, should maintain a certain standard of dignity. He should not be expected to creep round into a back street and obtain accommodation in a cheap lodging house.
– That is not suggested.
– Statements have been made about the proposed vote for the. maintenance of our legation in the Republic of Ireland. Again, there has been a complete misrepresentation of the figures. The expenditure on our representation in that very important part of the world, Eire, is not by any means the smallest amount that we expend on our representation in another country. ‘ If honorable members will refer to’ the various divisions of the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs they will see that the proposed expenditure on our legation in the Republic of Ireland is fully in keeping with what is customary.
– Can the Minister indicate any Australian legation for which there is less provision than is being made for our legation in the Republic of Ireland?
– The proposed vote for the maintenance of our legation in Egypt- Division No. 29 - is £32,000.
– The Minister should talk about falsity! The provision for the maintenance of our embassy in the Republic of Ireland1 - Division No. 23 - is only £12,000.
– I am sorry. I withdraw on that point. I looked at’ the wrong figure in the Estimates. The honorable member for East Sydney attacked the representational expenditure on embassies and legations. The proposed vote of £9,200 for salaries and payments in the nature of salary of the staff that we maintain in Dublin compares favorably with the proposed provision under this heading in relation to other embassies and legations. For various local reasons the proposed expenditure on the maintenance of a similar establishment during this financial year is higher for some of the other posts than for our embassy in Ireland.
Finally, the honorable member for East Sydney has criticized the statements that have been made in this chamber by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). During the last twelve months, the Minister for External Affairs has made a series pf very important and most informative statements, which were received by the greater part of the Opposition with respectful attention. He has endeavoured to place before honorable members in a reasoned and well-informed way the major issues that concern this country. However, the honorable member for East Sydney has seen fit to make scurrilous attacks on both private and public individuals. He has reduced the debate to a level of which the Opposition should be ashamed.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has claimed that I misrepresented the position by stating that the expenditure upon the embassy in the United States of America had increased by £77.000. The Minister said that the increase would be only £17,000. I refer him to Division No. 18, which shows that the vote for the maintenance of our embassy in the United States of America for the last financial year was £204,000. The proposed vote for this financial year is £281,000, an increase of £77,000.
– The actual expenditure on the embassy in the United States of America for the last financial year was £272,816.
.- The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has referred to the failure of the Government to raise loans in accordance with the policy speech that was delivered by the present Prime Minister (Mr.
Menzies) prior to the general election of 1949. I refer to loans other than the ordinary loans that are raised on the recommendation of the Australian Loan
Council for normal developmental work in the States. The right honorable gentleman stated -
Over- a period of five years we shall raise loans totalling £250,000,000. . . .
The amount to be raised and spent each year will bc conditioned by the availability of men and materials.
I remind the committee that there are now plenty of men available, if the right honorable gentleman is prepared to raise the money. He continued -
Its general administration will be under n National Works Council. The work 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 honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) has referred to the subject of flood prevention. If he would take the trouble to ascertain the real position in relation to the work that is being performed in New South Wales in connexion with water conservation and flood prevention, and would consider the proposal that is embodied in legislation that was recently introduced into the New South Wales Parliament, I am sure that he would alter his opinion.
– What is the title of the booklet to which the honorable member has referred?
– I have read an extract from a printed booklet containing the joint policy speech of the present Government parties. There is a photograph of the Prime Minister on the front cover. No attempt has been made by the Government to raise loans totalling £250,000,000. Indeed, that promise has not been spoken of since the policy speech was delivered. Furthermore, the normal loans that the Government has endeavoured to raise have failed. During the last financial year the Australian Loan Council planned to raise £225,000,000 for State works. That loan programme was a failure, because only £75,000,000 was raised. The reason for the failure is that the people have lost confidence in this Government. Unemployment exists in this country to-day because governments cannot raise the money that they need to provide additional employment.
I turn now to the means test. - Honorable gentlemen opposite have claimed that when the Labour party was .in’ office it did nothing to abolish the means test. The policy of the Labour party is to abolish it gradually. When a. Labour Government assumed office in 1941, one of its first actions was to modify the operation of the means test by increasing the permissible income of pensioners from 12s. 6d. to £1 a week. In 194S, the permissible income was increased again, by a Labour Government, to 30s. a week. The present Prime Minister, in the policy speech that he delivered during the 1949 general election campaign, said -
We ure deeply conscious of the frequently unjust operation of the means test, and of the penalty it imposes in many cases upon thrift. There are also grave anomalies associated with the position of persons who have contributed for their own superannuation benefits.
Honorable members will recall that, during that general election campaign, the present Government parties inserted in various newspapers advertisements in which they said, without qualification, that, if they were returned to power, they would abolish the means test immediately. We know that’ that promise was modified by the Prime Minister in his policy speech, but the Government has not yet introduced any scheme to alter the operation of the means test. My own view is that it would be unwise and unfair to abolish it completely until pensions are paid at a fairer rate than at present obtains. About 90 per cent, of the pensioners in this country have no income other than their pension.
– I rise to order. The committee is considering the Estimates for the Department of the Treasury, the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Department of External Affairs. I agree that, as the Estimates for the Department of the Treasury are under consideration, the effect of the means test upon persons in receipt of superannuation payments can properly be discussed; but I point out to you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) is discussing its effect upon persons who are in receipt of pensions which, as a general rule, are administered by the Department of Social Services, the Estimates for which are not before the committee.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN’. - The honorable member for Banks may deal in that connexion only with the administration of the Department of the Treasury.
– I submit that the means test is, to some degree, a matter that comes under the jurisdiction of the Treasurer, because it affects the payment of pensions, for which he has to make financial provision. I believe that it would be unfair to abolish the means test completely at the present time. The abolition would be of no benefit to 90 per cent, of the pensioners of this country, because they have no assets and no source of income other than their pension. ] believe that the means test should be modified to such a degree as to permit a pensioner to earn or receive a sum which, together with his pension, would give to him a weekly income at least equivalent to the basic wage.
I turn to evasions of the payment of taxes. The thirtieth report of the Commissioner of Taxation contains the following passage : -
Evidence of the increase of evasion in the field’ of income tax, particularly during the war years when tax rates were at their peak was unmistakeable. Every effort within the ability of the department was made to restrict the evasion at the time, because delay helps the evader and reduces the possibility of securing payment after detection. Unfortunately, however, when the evil was at its worst almost every available suitable officer was required to assist in the programme of overcoming assessing arrears. Investigation of all but thu most flagrant cases had thus to be postponed.
The report states that additional positions for investigating officers are being created to enable the Taxation Branch to solve this problem. But recently, when 10,000 public servants were retrenched, even the already under-staffed Taxation Branch was affected by the retrenchments. That was a very unwise move. I believe that every additional investigation officer employed by the Taxation Branch would be worth thousands of pounds to the nation. An adequate and properly trained taxation staff would be a great asset to the Commonwealth Treasury. Therefore, the Treasurer should leave no stone unturned in his efforts to ensure that the staff of the Taxation Branch shall be brought to full strength as quickly as possible. If every taxpayer were made to pay the taxes for which he was liable, in the long run the Govern-‘ ment might be able to reduce all taxes to some degree. That possibility would act as an incentive to all taxpayers to do the correct thing.
– As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I compliment the officers of the Department of External Affairs who have assisted the committee. They have given to us a great deal of valuable information. They and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) have treated the committee in a frank and helpful manner, which shows that it can be fashioned into an instrument of real use to this country. It is a pity that the Opposition has not taken advantage of the opportunity offered to it to be represented on the committee.
– How would the honorable member for Mackellar respond if the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) were appointed to the committee?
– I must confess that I should not like to see the honorable gentleman on the committee. But that, after all, is a matter for the Opposition. Some honorable gentlemen opposite do not like to see the honorable member for East Sydney in their own” party room, but he is there. Perhaps they will try to secure his appointment to the committee so that he may occupy his time, if not more usefully, perhaps a little more pleasantly. From the point of view of this country, it is a pity that the Opposition has not seen fit to cooperate with the Government in this excellent venture. It may be that the committee has not yet done all the work that it should do. and that so far it has only been finding its feet.. I think that we should pay tribute, first, to the Minister for External Affairs, secondly, to the officers of the Department of External Affairs, and, thirdly, to the gentleman who was our chairman but who is now no longer with us. There is not a member of the committee who does not deeply regret his passing. I believe that even the members of the Opposition will join with us in that.
You have ruled, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that the means test may not be discussed at present. Therefore, I shall content myself with saying that I support the remarks that have been made upon that matter by the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), and even by some members of the Opposition. I, at any rate, should like to approach this problem, not as the honorable memberfor East Sydney has approached it, but in’ a non-partisan spirit, hoping to be as helpful as possible, because I am one who, contrary to the ‘ view expressed by the honorable member for East Sydney, has taken a continuous interest in this matter. I believe sincerely that, the time is overdue for something to be done and, although I may not at the present moment discuss the matter generally, I should like to make clear my feelings in/regard to it. It is strange, indeed,, that people who have made provision for themselves in the future by making superannuation payments and by other means are in some respects worse off than are people who have made no provision for themselves. I know that this is a very difficult administrative matter and that in relation to it we are faced with the non-co-operation of some of the State governments, but I suggest that everybody in this chamber should try to avoid the violent and partisan approach of the honorable member for .East Sydney,, and should endeavour to consider. this matter, as it should be considered, in the interests of the pensioners, the nation and the old people, who deserve everything we can give to them.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had referred to the unjust incidence of the means test and the. need to abolish it as soon as possible. Apart from the obvious questions of justice and equity that are involved in this matter, there is also the linked question, of the possibility of increasing the degree of saving from which loans can be met and employment be given.
– I rise to order. During the debate this afternoon you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, ruled on the question of the scope of this debate in regard to miscellaneous items connected with the four departments, the proposed ‘votes of which are now under consideration. After having investigated the position you confined other honorable members to a discussion of the principal votes of the four departments. Before the suspension of the sitting the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) was reminded of the ruling. He is now attempting to get round your; ruling. I suggest that he be brought to order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - I am waiting until the honorable member for Mackellar says enough for me to know, just what he is saying.
– I shall confine my remarks to the subject of interest rates. It is. obvious that if people who have saved are in no better position than are those who have not saved, there is no incentive to save. Loans and the rate of interest are. matters for investigation and decision by the Australian Loan Council. As the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has often pointed out, policy in relation to loans and the rate of interest is formulated, not by the Australian Government, but by the Australian Loan Council. But this Parliament should adopt a proper policy in relation to interest rates. That point has been emphasized by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt); who pinned his colours to the proposition that the Government should fix a rigid low rate of interest, and stick to it. I believe that that is fundamentally an unintelligent approach to the subject, because a rigid rate of interest would constitute one of the chief methods by which our economy could be brought to a standstill.
A higher rate of interest, if adapted to the circumstances of our economy, would have three important effects. First, it would tend to increase the rate of saving. L”f the people could obtain a higher rate of interest on their investments, they would be more inclined to save. Secondly, a reasonable rate of interest would enable investors to discriminate in respect of various forms of investment, and those who, like myself, favour a high level of employment and economic activity naturally incline to the view that such discrimination will enable investment to be more properly directed and thus provide full employment. Thirdly, the rate of interest inside the economy must be related to the rate of interest outside the economy. A low rate of interest here would provoke an outflow of capital funds, and thus lead to unemployment, whereas a reasonable rate of interest would hold capital funds stable and help to maintain full employment. I do not accuse the Leader of the Opposition of seeking to bring about unemployment. I ‘merely say that the right honorable gentleman does not understand the economic effect of his proposition. lt is notorious that he has no economic understanding whatever.. He has, perhaps innocently or unwittingly, advocated a policy that can only lead to unemployment.
– I rise to order. The honorable member is replying to a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who has not spoken during the debate on the Estimates. Indeed, the right honorable gentleman has not been present in the chamber for the greater part of the day. It is inconceivable that the honorable member for Mackellar should endeavour to transgress a ruling of the Chair. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Chairman, to give a ruling on the point.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - If the honorable member for Mackellar is replying to a speech made in the House by the Leader of the Opposition,, he is out of order.
– I am referring not only to a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition but also to what is. notoriously the settled policy of the’ right honorable gentleman. I submit that I am in order in so doing. I appreciate the fact that Opposition members do not want me to speak without interruption because I am submitting, in their opinion, a contentious viewpoint. I well understand their motive in endeavouring to prevent me .from making my speech. As I have said, a fixed, rigid interest rate can lead only to unemployment, whereas a properly regulated interest rate will assist in the maintenance of full employment. The Government has very properly adopted the latter policy, but in its translation through, the
Australian Loan Council it has not been implemented as it should be implemented, lt is all very well for honorable members ro say .that we should fix interest rates in consonance with overseas rates. I say that it is also necessary to engender in the mind of the investing public the idea that the interest rate will not be further increased. Let me illustrate my point by a simple analogy. If we want to turn a mob of sheep we would not go immediately lie hind it; rather would we approach it from the side and, getting in front of it, edge it towards our objective. Hie more we drove it, the more it would stay in front of us. Similarly, if we want to turn the present interest rate, we must take a decisive step to get in front of it and then edge it back. That is where the Australian Loan Council, with its. cumbersome methods, has impeded the policy of the Government. While we should say clearly that a higher interest rate is suited to our present circumstances we should also endeavour to engender in the public mind the idea that the interest rate is likely to fall, because such an idea would help to maintain the value of existing bonds. I do not suggest that we should endeavour to deceive the public. We should take a decisive step forward and, having taken it, edge the interest rate backwards so as to maintain full employment. By so doing we should maintain the capital value of stocks and bonds. We should also take steps to raise the yield on existing bonds so that their capital value will be maintained, not necessarily at par, but in the region of par. I do not suggest that we should permit the interest rate to fluctuate from time to time. Periodically, accumulated circumstances justify a variation of the interest rate - possibly at intervals ranging from. twenty to 30 years. The last occasion upon which such a change took place was in the early ‘thirties, when there was a compulsory loan conversion and interest rates on current bonds were scaled down. I believe that our present circumstances justify a. move in the opposite direction.
The Australian Government and its various agencies - the Commonwealth Bank, the Commonwealth Savings Bank, the National Debt Sinking Fund, and the
Treasury - hold more than 50 per cent, of our outstanding bonds. Of the remainder, the great bulk is held, by insurance companies, which represent the small investors and policy holders.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Members of the Labour party are always grateful to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) for hi9 solicitous efforts to explain to us where we have gone wrong. I am sorry that, because of the limitation of time, he has been prevented from expounding his theme. I was hoping that the honorable member, having told us how wrong it was for the Labour Government to fix a low rate of interest, would then explain how it was that, despite the lowness of the rate, all the loans floated by the Labour Government were over-subscribed. I hoped tha t he would then go on to explain how it is that, although a more fitting rate of interest is now being offered, the loans floated by the present Government are not being taken up by the public. He said that investment in public securities could be stimulated by adjustment of the interest rate, and he argued that the fixing of a low rate of interest could lead to economic depression and unemployment. The fact remains, however, that the policy of the Labour Government did not lead to unemployment, whereas it is only too obvious that the policy of the present Government is producing just that effect.
I now propose to discuss the Australian Loan Council. Day after day, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) refuses to answer question’s., in which honorable members seek information .about’ the operations of the Loan Council. The constitutional position of the council is very difficult to understand. Apparently, the Premiers are not to tell the State parliaments what happens in the council, and. the Commonwealth Treasurer will never tell the Commonwealth Parliament what happens in the council because, he says, the -proceedings of the council are secret. The Treasurer’s attitude is intolerable, as we realize when we reflect that -.the activities of the council have a grave effect upon employment, and that, as a body, it is predominantly influenced by the policy of the Australian Government. The council is one of the instruments through which the policy of the Australian Government directly affects the community. It is at least the duty of the Treasurer to tell us what is the Government’s policy in its relation to the council, even if it be true that the council does not always accept his advice.
That brings us to the policy of the Treasurer regarding credit. Incidental references to credit control are to bc found in the budget speech, but credit is something which so vitally affects business, building activity and employment generally, that the Treasurer should, from time to time, initiate a debate in this Parliament on credit policy by making a statement to the House on the subject. Credit policy is applied from day to day, and directions are sent to the banks from month to month; yet the Parliament is told nothing of these matters. During the last few years, banking legislation has been amended from time to time. The Treasurer is now in a position to issue directions to the Commonwealth Bank regarding credit policy, but what those directions are we do not know. The economic policy of the Government, as reflected in the budget and the Estimates, is always fully debated, but its policy on credit is not known, and is hardly ever discussed. Apparently, the Treasurer wishes to avoid discussion on the activities of the Loan Council, and on his own relationship with the Commonwealth Bank; yet the directions which he gives the bank regarding credit policy have a direct bearing upon employment and business activity. We have reached the position where there is an extra parliamentary body which controls a vital segment of the economic life of the community. The activities of the Treasurer in the Loan Council, and his relationship with the Commonwealth. Bank, are never subject to proper scrutiny by the Parliament.
– That has always been the position.
– The expenditure of loan money is discussed by the Parliament, but the Government’s credit policy is not. I can understand how sensitive the Treasurer is to discussions on the subject of the Loan Council. The public generally has a pretty fair idea of what happens in the council, even though the proceedings of that body are supposed to be secret. That is because the State Premiers always leave Canberra after meetings of the council in a state of blazing dissatisfaction, and while travelling between Parliament House and the airport manage to convey to pressmen a pretty accurate idea of what they think. Whether or not they are all in a. plot, the fact remains that, irrespective of party affiliations, they unite in a settled policy of blaming the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth. Treasurer.
Wo should like to hear from time to rime whether the Australian Government is satisfied with the results of its early directions to the Commonwealth Bank on credit policy. It is rumoured that the Government has varied those directions, and. it is interesting- to speculate why. Is the Government convinced that its -first directions were mistaken? Did they result in the damping down of certain economic activities which the Government now wishes to stimulate? Credit policy is quite as important, perhaps, as an appropriation of revenue in determining whether new enterprises should be developed or existing enterprises carried on. There has been a good deal of . dissatisfaction during the last year because of the inability of many businesses to get accommodation from the banks. Recently, the Treasurer has been talking about the inflationary situation again, although a little while ago he professed to believe that the problem had been solved. One of the features of inflation is that, as costs rise, there is an increased demand for credit. If that demand is not met there develops an economic slump. That has recently occurred in Sydney. If it is met. inflation is further aggravated. Therefore, the Treasurer should indicate the policy which he intends to submit to the Loan Council. If he does not believe that it would be wise to publish his policy abroad he should at least advise members of the Parliament of the Government attitude on the credit situation from time to time.
.- Like most other people, I should like to see taxation cut in half if that were possible, but we know that the obligations which the Government has to meet make such a course impossible. Recently, the public was asked by means of a gallup poll whether taxation should be cut at the expense of social services or of defence, and the vast majority of those questioned indicated that they did not wish taxation to be cut at the expense of either of those activities. I am one of those who believe that the way to prosperity lies in promoting the welfare of the primary industries. Only in that way can permanent prosperity be achieved as distinct from the artificial prosperity that prevailed duringthe term of office of the Labour Government. Therefore, I arn pleased that the Government proposes to encourage the primary industries by allowing taxation deductions in respect of expenditure on development, and also ‘by making a generous allowance for depreciation. On many occasions recently I have beard members of the Opposition speaking about depreciation.
– What about the 40 per cent.?
– I welcome the interjection, because I propose to deal with that very subject. A. few more such interjections will bc of assistance to me. Honorable members opposite apparently appreciate that I am going to show up the false statements that they have been making about depreciation. If we adopt £1 00 as the. unit-
– I rise to a point of order. Tn view of your former ruling, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that the discussion must be confined to the administration of the departments under review, is it in order for the honorable member to discuss this matter of government policy?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- If this matter is to be discussed at all it can be done only when the proposed vote for the Department of the Treasury is being considered. I therefore rule that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) is in order.
– I can well understand that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) does not want the facts about the 40 per cent, depreciation allowance to be revealed and is, therefore trying to prevent me from doing so. Under the old system, 40 per cent, initial depreciation allowance was taken from the unit of £100, reducing it to £60. From that £60 was taken the normal depreciation of 10 per cent., which brought the amount down to £54. The following year the usual 10 per cent, reduction applied to the £54. It was therefore a diminishing figure. Under the new system, a fixed deduction of 20 per cent, of the . total initial amount is allowed each year for five years so that from the unit of £100, £20 is deducted in the first year, and a further £20 each year for the next four years. In effect, the provision means that if a taxpayer paying 10s. in the £1’ purchases a machine for £1.000, at the.’end of five years it will have cost him only £500.
– I cannot see that.
– The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) cannot see it because he does not want to see it. However, the primary producers of Australia, know that they are now receiving a much better deal, a3 far as depreciation is concerned, than they received from the Australian Labour party when it was in office. To give another example of the way in which the deduction works, let us assume that a man who has an income of £5,000 per annum builds a shearing shed on his property at a cost of £2,000. During the next five years he gains £1,265 by way of depreciation allowance, so that in the long run the shearing shed costs him only £735. In the light of those facts, I hope that from now on honorable members opposite will not continue to spread the fallacious theory that the previous system of the 40 per cent, depreciation allowance is as good as the present system.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) this afternoon objected to’ the proposal of the Australian Government to hand back taxing rights to the various State governments. The honorable member forgets that when uniform taxation was introduced during World War II. every one understood - in this Parliament, in the States, and. indeed, throughout Australia—
– The honorable member was not here then.
– No. I was somewhere else, but I learnt about this matter afterwards.
– Where was the honorable member?
– There is no need for mc to say. It was understood that uniform taxation should operate only during the war and that when the war ended, taxing powers would be handed back to the States. If for no other reason, .such powers should be returned to the States in order to honour the promise that was made at the time. But of course there are many other reasons why the powers should be handed back.
I have no doubt that as soon as I say that I do not agree with the Government I shall earn -the applause of the Opposition. In my opinion the Government should revise the method of distribution of the petrol tax to the. States. Because of the way in which revenue from petrol tax is distributed, Victoria is receiving a raw deal. For the benefit of honorable members opposite, I point out that that State also received a raw deal from the Labour party when it was in office. If, by some miscarriage of justice, Labour again attains office in this Parliament I have no doubt that it would continue to give Victorian motorists a raw deal.
I now wish to refer to some figures which show the percentage of tax collected and the percentage of tax distributed in the various States. In New South Wales, the percentage-
– I rise to a point of order, fs the honorable member in order in quoting from a copy of Hansard of the current sessional period?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - If the honorable member proposes to read from, a copy of Hansard of the current sessional period he will not be in order.
– I merely wish to refer to figures which I have previously mentioned in this chamber. Fortunately, I arn able to remember them. New South Wales collects” 32 per cent, of the total revenue from petrol tax and receives back 28 per cent. Victoria collects 31 per cent, and receives back only 17 per cent.. About 7 per cent, of the total is collected in Western Australia and that State gets back 19 per cent. A somewhat similar position applies in South Australia. I do not wish it to be thought that I am being parochial in this matter, but I point out that in the States where the most revenue from petrol tax is collected more cars use the roads. Naturally the roads suffer more than they do where the traffic is not so heavy. In my opinion Victoria should receive a greater share of the total collections. I support to the hilt the proposal to hand back taxing powers to the States, but, as I suggested to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) by way of a question in this House recently, distribution of the petrol tax should be revived.
I compliment the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) on having done much to improve the lot of primary producers. When I return to my electorate I shall be able to tell the primary producers of many advantages which they are to receive, apart altogether from reduced taxes and the abolition of land tax. As far as primary producers are concerned, the budget has many bright aspects. However, I am not altogether pleased with the present rate of payroll tax. The employer to-day pays far greater wages than he did a few years ago. Where he paid £600 or a £1,000 in wages some years ago, he is now obliged to pay double that amount far the same amount of work. Therefore, I believe that payroll tax should not operate on the same basis as previously, and that the wages figure of £1,040 at which the tax commences to operate should be at least twice as high. I suggest that the Treasurer should consider that proposition. Taking everything by and large, I believe that.it is proper to compliment the Treasurer on an excellent effort. Of course, he has not been able to please everybody, but he has at least given to primary producers an incentive by means of an increased depreciation allowance and increased taxation deductions in respect of general developmental costs. Naturally, primary producers would like taxes to be cut in half, and I should have supported such, a proposal had it been possible.
.- A few weeks ago. in Brisbane the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) told an Australian Country party conference that after the budget had been introduced he might be the most unpopular man in Australia. That was a masterpiece of understatement. It appears that there has not been any more unpopular Treasurer in this nation. I believe that the present Treasurer has rightly taken from the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), the former “ tragic Treasurer “, that title which was bestowed upon him in days gone by. “Written indelibly into the Estimates of the Treasurer is the financial policy of the Government, which, to put it charitably, may he called reckless and irresponsible. It is a policy which has brought this country economically to its knees. Written into the Estimates is the repudiation of every promise that has been made on taxation and financial matters by this Government at two successive elections. The Treasurer’s last budget, which was known as the “ horror budget “, was responsible in less than twelve months for reduced turnovers in business, mounting bankruptcies in certain sections of the community, increasing unemployment, rising costs, inflation on an unprecedented scale, reduced incomes for thousands, and lack of confidence in the Government’s policy as displayed by the under-subscription of government loans. On page 15 of the policy speech of the Australian Country party which the Treasurer - delivered in 1949, the following statement appears: -
If the socialists are defeated, therefore, rates of taxation, hoth direct and indirect, can and will he steadily reduced.
This temporary Administration in charge of the affairs of the Commonwealth”. is a strange government in many ways. The Treasurer did not proceed to reduce taxation immediately the Government took office. Twelve months ago income tax was increased by 10 per cent. The Government increased indirect taxation tremendously. Whilst taxation collected under the last Chifley Government totalled £504,000,000 the present Government collected £9.1.9.000,000 in the last financial year. The Treasurer has displayed the strangest approach to taxation reductions that I have ever witnessed. He has now stated that he proposes to remove the 10 per cent, levy and thereby give the people a reduction in taxation. If this is its method of reducing taxes, I do not know why the Government did not impose a levy of 20 per cent, last year and remove it this year, for it would thereby have made itself twice as popular. In. .1949, under the Chifley Government, the populace paid £63 a head in direct and indirect taxation; Notwithstanding the reductions of £49,000,000 which have been proposed on this occasion it is estimated that the people will still pay about £100 a head or almost 50 per. cent, more during this financial year than they paid to tb Chifley Government.
– I rise to order. The committee is dealing with the Estimates of the Department of the Treasury. The general principles of the budget have already been debated. I submit that it is proper that the committee should now deal with the Estimates in detail and not revert to a general budget debate.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - If the subject of taxation is to bo discussed it can be discussed only in connexion with these Estimates, and rue Treasurer is content for it to be so discussed.
– I agree with your very just ruling, Mr. Deputy Chairman. The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) knows the justice of my criticism, and, as usual, he rose in an endeavour to stop that criticism from being levelled at hi9 colleague. This has been termed an “ incentive “ budget by the Treasurer. Under the proposals that have been outlined in the Estimates those who are least able to bear the burden will continue to bear the full brunt of taxation, while wealthy supporters of the Government will be completely relieved of certain taxation commitments. Under, the Treasurer’s proposals a single man in receipt of £600 a year, which ‘ is approximately the basic ‘ wage, will receive the magnificent reduction of 5d. a day. A single man in receipt of £800, an average tradesman’s wage, will receive 8d. a day.
Oau honorable members imagine the wheels of industry turning over with renewed vigour as workers receive their extra 5d. a day? Under these proposals the tax payable by a married man with two children in receipt of £600 a year will be reduced by 2d. a day. Such a man in receipt of £800 a year will receive a reduction of 4d. a day - half as much as a single man on that income. But the man in receipt of £20,000 a year - a man who is probably just battling along in the opinion of the Treasurer - will receive u reduction of £25 a week, or £5 a day. Those least able to bear the burden will receive the least relief.
In dealing with remissions of sales tax the Treasurer has really let his head go. He has proposed a reduction of £6,000,000 leaving £95,000,000 to be collected in sales tax this year. He has proposed a reduction of 16& per cent, iri the sales tax of luxury items such as cut glass, jewellery, wristlet watches and nutcrackers, but housewives who require a cup and saucer, a broom, a saucepan, a laundry basket or a vacuum cleaner will still have to pay sales tax at the rate of 12-i- per cent, because no reduction has been proposed in respect of those essential items. Sales tax as imposed by this Government is the most vicious of all imposts because the person on the basic wage or a pension must pay exactly tho same rate as the person who receives £20,000 a year. Yet the Treasurer is prepared to reduce the tax on luxury items substantially whilst pensioners and other low income earners will pay the existing rate of sales tax on items that are essential in every home. We believe that that is merely another means of increasing taxation upon that section of the community which is least able to bear the burden. It is no wonder that the people are gravely concerned about the Government’s policy. They are being called upon to pay heavier taxation than ever before by a government that has completely repudiated the promises that il made to reduce taxes.
The credit restriction policy of the Government has brought industry almost to its knees, and, indeed, it is a threat to our security and economy. At present there are more than 20,000 persons in receipt of unemployment benefit payments, but thousands more who have not- been taken into account by the Government are also out of work. In my Owl electorate, where may be found some of our major industries, it is practically i iri possible because of the Government’s credit restriction policy for people who are willing and able to work to find employment. The paltry reductions of taxation afford no incentive to people to produce more, whether they are in primary or secondary industries. The Treasurer has offered no assistance in the fight to lower costs. He has not attempted to increase subsidies on any commodities, and consequently the increasing costs and sales tax on numerous items contained in the “ C “ series index are being passed on to consumers, with the result that the basic wage is constantly increasing.
The Treasurer should admit that he and the Government are leaving the responsibility to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to increase hours of work to 44 and to reduce- substantially the basic wage. By that method the Government hopes to bring down the cost of living and incidentally to bring many workers to their knees. That is a repudiation of the pledge that the Treasurer gave to the people when he said that he would subsidize prices and stabilize the basic wage - or at least prevent it from rising extravagantly. In spite of that pledge inflation is still with us, costs have risen enormously and people have never been worse off than since the Government’s economic policy was put into effect. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are now welcomed by members of the community who supported this Government both financially and with their votes at the last general elections. That is because every citizen now knows that the economic policy of fits and starts of the present Treasurer has led to a most unstable condition in industry and has destroyed the stability that was achieved by the Chifley Government. It is a long time since there has been such a slowing down of business activity in our community as is apparent to-day. It will be generally agreed that no government, even if it set out deliberately to destroy the economy, could have done it so effectively as this Government has done.
Economic policy ia of extreme importance to all honorable members in this chamber. We all want to see workers fully employed, industries prosperous and the people generally living in condition of plenty. We all want social security. We do not want to Bee pensioners begging for a mere existence, and our own nation a beggar country abroad because of its financial policy, but those very conditions have been caused during the last six months by the financial policy of the Government. I was led to the belief, while listening to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) congratulating the Treasurer, that he must have read the wrong budget speech. The budget has not been commended by any section of the community. It gives a bit to every one and not enough to any one, and it will prove to be completely ineffective. The result of a survey that I made in my electorate soon after the introduction of the budget proved that even the business community took no comfort from the Treasurer’s plans. . condemn the Administration for the manner in which it is implementing tax reductions. I . believe, that the Treasurer should be condemned for tearing to shreds every promise that he ever gave to the people, and I believe that ultimately this Government will meet its doom because of its inaction and its unprecedented lack of political integrity in its repudiation of its election promises.
.- Honorable members have just listened to the usual parrot cries that we have heard, continuously during the discussion of this budget by honorable members opposite. The Opposition has not attempted to put forward a plan that will solve our problems, or to make any sensible suggestion that might get us out of our difficulties. All that we hear is the same old parrot cry and appeal, to the people on the grounds that the Government is overtaxing them. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), whose remarks have been endorsed by every honorable member opposite who has spoken, advocated an economic policy of unlimited inflation by the issue of unlimited credit. Moreover, there is inherent in the speeches of all honorable members opposite, including that of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), the suggestion that the Labour party, if returned to office, will clamp full controls over every part of our economy. I shall not go further into that matter to-day because my time is limited, but it is my opinion that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and, indeed, the Government as a whole, have done a magnificent job for Australia in initiating a plan for the long-term stabilization of its economy. The day is not far distant when all the prophecies of the Opposition will seem to be false. What will honorable members opposite say if, at the end of another twelve months, there is no deep depression and there are not hundreds of thousands of unemployed persons in the community. Will they then be men enough to say that the policy of this Government has saved. the country? We certainly would drift into a deep depression if we followed the policies advocated by the Labour party.
The Treasurer has been most unfairly criticized throughout the country because the people have not yet understood the full’ effect of what he has done. There is no doubt that our inflation troubles were caused fundamentally by the policy of the previous Labour Government, and when this Government assumed office the foundation had been laid for a structure of unrestricted inflation. The Treasurer has been faced with a very serious financial state’ of affairs throughout the world, including the sterling crisis and a paucity of dollars. Dollars are needed for the production of goods for our local needs and also, more importantly, for our export trade in order that we may strengthen our sterling and dollar balances abroad. Dollars are of tremendous importance to Australia at. present because we need them to purchase the machinery and other goods that are necessary for the development of the country if we are going to make it a great one. We do not hear much from the Opposition by way of congratulation to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for his magnificent work in obtaining first, a 100,000,000 dollar loan, and secondly, a 50,000,000 dollar loan. So high was the regutation of the Government overseas that Australia was the only country in. the world to receive dollar loans without a complete investigation having been made of the projects upon which the dollars were to be spent. That is a great compliment to the integrity and prestige of the Prime Minister. There is no need to emphasize the importance of conserving dollars. They must be used only for essential purposes, such as preparations for war, the vital projects of governments and the assistance of private industry, which is very important.
The State governments have a great responsibility in this matter, but we constantly see direct evidence of certain activities by one State government .at least which, in my opinion, will cause a drain on our dollar resources that will have a tragic effect on the economy. I refer, of course, to the Cahill Government in New South Wales, the most irresponsible and extravagant Government in Australia’s history,
– I rise ‘to order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The Government of New South Wales is not under discussion.
– I realize that, Mr. Deputy Chairman, but I am speaking of our dollar resources, a matter that affects the Treasury. It is known that the Government of New South Wales made representations to the Australian Government for the release of dollars with which to purchase package units to relieve the electricity situation, which is so bad in New South Wales. . A sum of several million dollars was allotted to the State Government for that purpose from the amount of 100,000,000 dollars that this Government had obtained. ‘ I say, speaking with’ some knowledge of the situation, that the pur-chase of those ! units was panic buying and a. waste of dollars because none of the units is yet in commission. Furthermore, the machinery is not likely to be in use in time to be of any real service to the country. Other equipment is being brought into service rapidly, and it will be found that the package units will be very uneconomical and wasteful and will cause a great increase of power charges. Now we have pressure from
New South Wales-
– I rise’ to order.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- The remarks of the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) are outside- the ambit of the present discussion.
– I submit that I am in. order in discussing dollars.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- But not in discussing the Government of New South Wales.
– I maintain that I am entitled to discuss the expenditure of dollars by the Australian Government in relation to a request that has been made by the Government of New South Wales. That is all that I have done. A request has been made by the State Government for dollar accommodation. That. Government stands condemned because of the negligence which has given rise to that request.
– Who told the honorable member that the State Government had asked for dollars?
– I can prove it to the hilt.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Chairman. You have ruled that, in the discussion of the items of the Estimates that are now under consideration by the committee, the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) may not discuss the activities of a State government. I submit that the honorable member is . deliberately flouting that ruling. A perusal of the Hansard report will disclose that he has spoken about the Government of New South Wales for at least five minutes since you gave your ruling.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - 1 have ruled that a State government may be mentioned,- but that its activities may not be discussed. I am attending carefully to the honorable member’s remarks. I warn him again that he has referred too freely to the Government, of New South Wales.
– I have been speaking only of the dollars that Australia has obtained. The supply is limited. The first sum made available was 100,000,000 dollars. A second quota of 50,000,000 dollars has since been made available. The Government of New South Wales has now asked the Australian Government for 20,000,000 dollars from that quota, and J! contend that the release of that amount in response to the request will havea tremendous effect upon our economy.
– I rise to order. A bill dealing with this subject was introduced in the House last night. Is the honorable member for Bennelong in order in discussing the subject now, seeing that he will be entitled to discuss it when the bill isbeing considered?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- The point of order is not upheld.
– I maintain that the expenditure of dollars on package units for the generation of electricity is unnecessary and that all the generating plant that we need could be obtained from sterling sources. I have no doubt that adequate machinery could have been obtained by this time from the United Kingdom. Machinery for New South Wales was on order in the United Kingdom in 1949, but. the orders were cancelled by the Cahill Government.
– I rise to order. The Cahill Government has nothing to do with the Estimates. I contend that the honorable member is entitled to mention the allocation of dollars, but is not entitled to discuss the fact that a State govern ment hasapplied to the Australian Government for dollars, even though the application has probably beenrejected, merely for the purpose of adorning a story that is intended to damage the State Government. This tale is probably a figment of the honorable member’s disordered imagination.
Honorable members interjecting,
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! Honorable members must maintain silence. I direct the honorable member for Bennelong to confine his remarks to the proposed vote for the Department of the Treasury.
– I am doing so, Mr. Deputy Chairman. The sole purpose of honora ble members opposite is to prevent me fromtelling the truth to the public. They realize that it reveals the Labour party in a very poor light. My only concer n at the moment is that we should not expend dollars on articles that could be obtained for sterling. In the interests of the national economy, we must take care not to waste our limited supply of dollars. J. submit, that, because of the activities of the Government of New South Wales, we are now being asked to waste up to 20,000,000 dollars. Such extravagant expenditure of dollars would impose a terrific strain on the economy. This is all due to the absolute neglect of the State Government.-
– I rise to order. Perhaps you do not realize, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that the honorable member, who persists in attacking the Government of New South Wales in connexion with dollar expenditure, has been responsible for all the black-outs.-
– That is not a point of order.
– This is a matter of very great importance, and I suggest that the Prime Minister should make the most rigid and critical examination of the request by the Government of New South Wales for the allocation of 20,000,000 dollars for the purchase in the United States of America of two 60,000-kilowatt machines. I do not suggest that dollars should not be made available if the expenditure is essential.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- Order ! The honorable member’s remarks have nothing to do with the items of the Estimates that are now under consideration.
– I appreciate the situation, Mi. Deputy Chairman. I shall take advantage of another opportunity to develop this story, because it is of great interest. I repeat that the Government should be extremely careful because I fear that it will be persuaded to release dollars for the purchase of machinery that could well be obtained from sterling sources. I advise it to examine with great care any representations that are made to it by the Government of New South Wales.
-The financial provision for the Office of Education includes some very important grants which, though not primarily the business of the Australian Government, are worthy of our close attention. One of the most important of these items of expenditure is the Commonwealth scholarship scheme, which last year cost .-£741,772 and for which the Government proposes to setaside this year the larger amount of £’926,800. I submit that that is a very important item because it provides a rare opportunity for a number of people to be able to continue their higher education even to the universities. The second important item to which I shall refer is the South-East Asia scholarships. They are to be increased from £3,641 last year to £4,700 this year. That is important because those scholarships must do much to cement relationships that we have now, and shall have in the future, with the Orient.
The next item to which I would draw particular attention is the amount of Commonwealth grants to the universities. The amount that was granted last year was £1,496,000. It is a notable feature of the Estimates that that expenditure is to be reduced this year to £1,200,000. This appears to be very serious and almost peculiar, considering the serious financial position of the universities. Only recently a deputation waited on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on this matter and one report stated -
Unless the Universities received more money, they would have to retrench and their standards .would be threatened, a deputation from the Vice Chancellor’s Committee told the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
Australian Universities will have a £250,000 deficit this year, speakers said. They needed an extra £900,000 to -maintain their present scale of activities in 1952-53.
The deputation led by Professor S. H. Roberta of the Sydney University also made these points:
The student population of Australia will reach almost 50,000 by 1965.
Plans should be laid now to cater for increasing numbers of students.
It seems to me to be very peculiar that whereas the universities were granted £1,496,000 last year and need £900,000 more this year, or a total of £2,396,000, the Government has seen fit to reduce the amount that is provided in the Estimates for them to £1,200,000. Some explanation should be given while the Estimates are being discussed by the committee. This is a serious blow to the universities. In the case of the University of Melbourne, it means that fees will have to be increased in an endeavour to meet the deficit. That move has already been projected. Honorable members on this side of the chamber regard such a move as tragic because an aim of the Labour party’s policy is free education from the primary school to the completion of university studies. This action by the Government simply proclaims that a retrograde step has been taken in education. The Labour party looks even further than the actual effect on university education because it associates education with the defence needs of the nation. National commitments call for more highly qualified people. One immediately associates that thought with atomic tests, for example. The Labour party also recognizes that the needs of ordinary civilian life are such that more highly qualified men are needed in the community even if they are not required for defence.
What I have said about the universities is equally true about secondary education. The Estimates show that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has gone against the advice of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation which was set. up by the Government itself, in offering a taxation concession of £50 in relation to school fees and school charges generally where those can be claimed by the parents of children attending school. I joined with the deputation which .waited on the Treasurer and I shall inform the committee of the report that was made by the Committee on Taxation on thi? matter after it had examined the subject -
The Committee desires to report that it lin* examined Reference No. 10, the terms of which are -
Whether it is desirable that the provision of the Income Tax Assessment Act. 1936-1949 relating to concession;!.] allowances should be extended to allow a further deduction to taxpayers wlm incur expenditure in. providing education or training for themselves or their dependants.
The report of this committee was definite on the consideration that had been given to representations that had been made to the Treasurer -
These representations pre generally directed towards the allowance of income tax concessions on school fees (including boarding fees), expenditure on school books and equipment, and donations to schools not conducted for private gain.
I.n .dealing with this subject, the committee referred to the deductions of the Royal Commission on Taxation 1932-34 and quoted these points from its report -
We appreciate and sympathize with the motive underlying this allowance but we suggest that the Income Tax Act is not the place in which to give effect to it. We consider that any concession that is made to a taxpayer for whose children the State does not provide suitable educational facilities should be given through the Education Department of the State, and not indirectly as a concession of tax. This would be of more value to the individual who has no taxable income.
The Committee on Taxation went on to state -
The Committee respectifully agrees with tile views of the Royal Commission quoted above. It sympathizes with the taxpayers concerned. It recognizes ‘that State Governments have been saved considerable expenditure by parents sending their children to nongovernment schools. The income tax law, however, is not the proper place to provide relief, or assistance for such persons.
In its conclusions, the Committee on Taxation stated -
The Committee, therefore, is unable to recommend allowance of income tax concessions for educational expenses. Examination of this matter indicates that assistance to the schools is more justified than to the parents. If it is desired to give assistance to non-government schools, the Committee considers that it should bc given .by way of a direct subsidy to the schools not conducted for private gain.
T believe that that is a very accurate conclusion.
– Does the honorable member object to the concessions that a re provided in the budget by the Government ?
– I am not objecting to what the Government has done. I merely indicate that the Treasurer has acted contrary to the recommendations of the committee which was set up in relation to taxation. That is as far as I have gone.
– The honorable member urged that it be done.
– I accompanied the deputation, but I did not urge that it be done. I indicated, at the beginning of my remarks, that I participated in the deputation. I do not desire to run away from that. What I have indicated is: clear. The Treasurer has acted contrary to the recommendations of the committee that he appointed. Although a measure of relief is afforded to certain wealthy persons, no relief whatever is given to thousands of people who are in urgent need of assistance.
– Approximately 90 per cent, derive no advantage at all.
– The position of secondary schools is even more desperate than is that of the universities. I am a member of the Council of PublicEducation in Victoria, and at the instance of Dr. Darling, the principal of the Geelong Grammar School, it was decided to appoint a sub-committee to determine what could be done to alleviate the desperate financial situation of a number of secondary schools. Dr. Darling, stated that unless a substantial measure of relief was given, some secondary schools would be in danger of closing. This serious situation has been brought about largely by the inflationary conditions in the community in the last few -years. The sub-committee to which I have referred is examining the whole position with a view to ascertaining whether relief can be granted to some secondary schools in order to prevent their closure.
The primary schools, in Victoria at any rate, are in, a similar plight to that of the secondary schools. Let us face the realities of the position. If the numerous non-governmental schools in that State were to close, the situation would be simply chaotic. The State schools could not accommodate the thousands, of children that would be released from the private schools, and the Department of Education could not provide the number of teachers that would be required to educate them. I have been giving careful consideration to the whole matter in an endeavour to reach a decision about the assistance that should be granted to nongovernmental schools in order to prevent the occurrence of the chaos to which I have referred. We feel, without any compunction, that we have every right to pay endowment in order to assist parents to make provision for the physical support of a child. . I see no reason why endowment should not be paid to assist parents to make provision for the mental support of a child. The Government should examine that aspect. It is quite a logical way out of the whole difficulty.
If an education endowment were payable, many of the difficulties that are causing grave concern to nongovernmental schools would be overcome to a large degree. We must face the position courageously, because of the phenomenal conditions. In my own electorate, children are being sent from the primary schools to other schools in the inner industrial suburbs for accommodation during the day. The -Victorian Government is unable to erect new school buildings quickly enough to cope with the increasing number of children of school age in the industrial suburbs. Therefore, drastic action will have to be taken if the fears expressed by Dr. Darling are not to be realized. The whole position is so serious that I consider it my duty to direct attention to the circumstances. The grant that is now made is an excellent gesture by the Commonwealth.
I shall now summarize my remarks. I believe that this Government will be compelled to heed the representations made by the deputation from the universities. The amount of money that is to be made available to those institutions this year will have to be increased. Tuition fees also will have to be increased, but the universities will still be left with deficits that will threaten the maintenance of their standards of education. I also believe that the Commonwealth should provide additional- scholarships for students from South-East Asia. The financial provision that has already been made for that purpose is a splendid gesture, but I consider that the grants should be increased, because I know of nothing that is more likely to promote friendly and lasting relations between the people of the Orient and of Australia. The number of scholarships which are. available to children who matriculate in the secondary schools should be increased in order to make it easier for students of average ability to attend a university.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.Order! The honorable gentleman has exhausted his time.
– I shall reply to the remarks of the honorable member for
Darebin (Mr. Andrews) at this stage in order to remove a misconception into which he has been led in making certain comparisons. I do not blame him, because it appears, on the surface, thai: the educational vote this year is less than the amount voted last year. ‘However, a reconciliation of the figures reveals that while, the amount of £1,426,000 seemed to constitute last year’s vote that figure included arrears for 1950-51, amounting to £483,000. In point of fact an amount of £1,200,000 is provided for the current financial year compared with £943,000 last year - an increase of nearly £300,000.
I also direct attention to the fact that while education is primarily the responsibility of the States, this Government has appreciated the. necessity to provide money, as far as it is able, for the desirable objective of fostering and expanding education. I invite honorable gentlemen to contrast this Government’s actions in that respect with what was done by the previous Labour Government. Briefly, the Labour Government did precisely nothing for education.
.- .1 wish to address myself to the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs. This is the first occasion for quite a number of years on which financial provision for Australian representation in Japan has appeared on the Estimates. For this financial year, a sum of no less than £S3,000 has been provided for that purpose. It is a formidable figure which exceeds by far some of the votes for various other diplomatic posts overseas. Let us all hope, whatever our underlying fears may be, that it will mark the beginning of a new phase in AustralianJapanese relations.
It appears, however, from press statements last week and again this morning, that one of the first functions of the new Australian ambassador in Tokyo will be to deal with an application, which is now being put forward by the Japanese Governments for the release of Japanese war criminals in Australian custody. Many people questioned, at the time, the propriety of war trials following upon so great a conflagration as the last war. Some of us in the Services felt that it would have been better on the whole te allow swift justice - what might be described as natural retaliation - to take effect rather than have a longdrawnnut series of trials which, to most people, were not edifying. But whatever one’s thoughts were then, it is too late now to make a lamentation on this score. The trials took place. Some of the accused were convicted, a few were executed, and others were imprisoned. Our former enemies in Japan are now raising the question whether those who were imprisoned - some of them as recently a? two years ago - should be released before the expiration of their sentences.
Without more ado, I say that the Government will be making a very grave mistake if it agrees to this request from Tokyo. The sentences that were imposed were, by common agreement, by no means heavy for the crimes committed. Indeed, many would say that they were surprisingly light. Furthermore, most .people believe that no new set of circumstances has arisen in the interim that would justify any alleviation of these sentences. I suppose that most honorable members subscribe to the theory that the object of punishment of criminals, whether they be found in our midst or be criminals of other lands, should be not only punitive hut also reformative.. What evidence exists that would indicate that within the last two or three years these Japanese who are under sentence have been converted from what the world knows was calculated viciousness, sadism and devilry rarely exceeded in history? The Government, should beware of being tempted in this matter by considerations of expediency. Tt must not lose sight of the fact, that in the last war in the Pacific sphere, European nations lost prestige as a result of initial military disasters, particularly the capitulation of Singapore in 1942, that will not bo regained for centuries, if ever.
Nor have our acts since . the conclusion of World War II. improved on balance - I emphasize on balance - our standing in Asian eyes. It is true that on the credit side we have the Colombo plan and the extremely useful and laudable personal contacts that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has made in his various excursions abroad which will,- unquestionably, bear fruit in years to come. We have also the Pacific pact which, undoubtedly, is a gis eat act of statesmanship. But, on the debit side, looking at the general picture from the point of view of not only Australia, but also that of our friends, we have a stalemate in Korea, French military mismanagement in Indo-China, a long drawn out guerrilla war in Malaya and a short-sighted treaty with Japan which, I am sure, no Australian in his beaut approves. In our reaction to this appeal from the Japanese on behalf of their war criminals, let us not add further to that catalogue. We delude ourselves if we imagine that by showing clemency to convicts we shall win firm friends in Japan. No doubt, if we agree to this appeal we shall earn smiles and graces in Tokyo, but to the people of. Japan and the people of Asia generally acquiescence in this demand would convey an impression of inconstancy and of irresoluteness that, what we proclaimed two years ago to be meet justice was, in reality, only a pretence, and a gesture made for propaganda purposes. I. trust that when this matter is formally put forward to the Government, as, judging from cabled reports, is contemplated, Ministers will reject this plea from Tokyo and will refuse to agree that the sentences imposed on Japanese war criminals should be commuted. To do otherwise, would surely prove detrimental to Australia’s long-term interests as a Pacific power and, at the same time, would be grossly out of keeping with public opinion in this country.
.- T make a plea on behalf of prospectors who are engaged in the search for gold and other minerals throughout Australia. At present, the Western Australian Government provides a meagre measure of assistance to these men, but confronted with ever-increasing costs they are finding it difficult to carry on under present-day conditions. I ask the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) to remove the sales tax from all equipment that prospectors require in their operations. This country owes a great debt to the prospectors, who from the. earliest days of our history ventured into unknown and inaccessible areas and lived under the most arduous conditions. As a result of their efforts large tracts of country have been populated and many thriving towns have been established. In the course of my speech on the budget, I pointed out that until recent years all discoveries of mineral deposits of any consequence have been unearthed by the pick of the prospector. We must also realize that large numbers of prospectors, after undergoing years of toil and suffering in isolated areas, have failed to locate minerals and, therefore, have been practically unrewarded. I make this simple plea to. the Treasurer in the interests of this deserving section of the community. Prospectors are still making great sacrifices in their search for new deposits of gold and other minerals of various kinds that are urgently required for the welfare of industry and of the community generally. I also request the Treasurer to remove sales tax on ammunition that is used for the destruction of vermin, such as dingoes and foxes, which cause havoc to crops and stock ‘ throughout the Commonwealth. Settlers who, unaided by governments, venture into the back-blocks to make a living are now obliged to pay excessive prices for ammunition which they require in their task of opening up new country.
The Treasurer, in bis budget speech, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) also when speaking in this chamber, have -tated that it is the intention of the Government to return to the State governments the power to impose income tax that they formerly exercised. I cannot foretell what the terms of the Government’s proposals will be. However, I suggest that under any new arrangement that may be made very limited taxation avenues will be left to the States after the Commonwealth has collected its taxes. The Commonwealth is well able to take over some of the responsibilities of the States, such as those in connexion with Transport and ‘ education, which are national in character. By so doing rh.e Commonwealth would be performing a truly national service. The Commonwealth could also play a greater part in national development which at present falls very heavily on a State with a small population but a large area, such as Western Australia. Sooner or later large developmental works must be undertaken in that State if Australia is to make the progress that all of us are so eager to see.
Western Australia must be greatly concerned about the Commonwealth’? decision to return taxing rights to the States. I have no authority to speak for the Western Australian Government in this connexion, but it is obvious that there will be only a limited field left for the less populous States after the Commonwealth has levied its taxes. Possibly Western Australia will revert to its prat- .tice in former days of trading in dingo scalps and eagle claws in order to make ends meet. Obviously, the nation as a whole cannot progress unless the States, individually, ‘ are able to progress. 1 consider that the uniform taxation system is the most equitable method of taxation that has yet been applied in this country. I trust that when taxing rights are restored to the -States the Treasurer will give serious consideration to the Commonwealth relieving them of their responsibilities in relation to the provision of transport and education.
I come now to the matter of social services, and I take this opportunity to appeal to the Government to abolish the means test as soon as possible. Prom time to time honorable members opposite have stated that the former Labour Government had ample opportunity to remove it when in office. I shall not enumerate the many difficult tasks that confronted Labour when it came to office in 1941, but I am sure that all fairminded persons will agree readily that Labour acted reasonably during the period that it was in control of the treasury bench. The means test was eased considerably. Even before I. became a member of this Parliament I had advocated that the men and women of this country should not be penalized in their old age because, during their lifetime, they had been thrifty and saved money with which to meet emergencies in their declining years. I am well aware what it would cost the country to abolish the means test, but I do not think that that cost would be beyond our capacity. T am sure that the Treasurer will give serious consideration to this matter. Whenever I have had occasion to make representations to him on behalf of the people of the back country he has been most sympathetic. Many trials and tribulations confront aged people who performed valuable pioneering work in their younger days. As honorable members are aware, more gold is produced in Western Australia than in all of the other States combined. It is very interesting to observe that no. gold-field of any significance, other than those that were discovered by the old pioneers, are being worked in that State. Many of the pioneers who discovered gold in such isolated places as Hall’s Creek died on their return journey to civilization. As a South Australian woman stated in a letter to me recently -
The pioneering prospectors of many years ago marked the track with their bones.
Ultimately, other prospectors developed the gold-fields that they had discovered, and great gold-mining towns, such as Kalgoorlie and Boulder, are monuments to their memory. Prospectors are still doing hard and difficult work in the .outback areas of this country, and I consider that the Australian Government should encourage them to continue with their labours by removing sales tax from prospecting equipment. I trust that the Treasurer will give this matter the consideration that it deserves.
– I wish to make some comment on the remarks of the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) about education. Although he’ spoke with great sincerity and earnestness, he may have left with honorable members a wrong impression about theextent of the Commonwealth’s contribution to education. The honorable member referred to several aspects of the matter, but failed to connect them in such a way as to present a complete picture. In this financial year the Commonwealth will make available C3,703,800 for education. Although, as the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has pointed out, the main responsibility for the provision of finance for education rests with the States, this Government has recognized the claim that some of the burden should be borne by the Commonwealth. In its last year of office, the former Labour Government provided only £476.000 for education. The pre vious Government made £200,000 available under the scholarship scheme, and this Government is providing £926,000. The sum has been increased from £200,000 to £926,000. As the Treasurer has said, the previous Government made no grants to universities, but this year the present Government is providing £1,200,000 for that purpose. The Aus- tralian National University was inaugurated by the previous Government, which, in its last budget, made provision for payment to the university of £196,000 for maintenance and £30,000 for building. I agree that the work of the university is expanding and, therefore, that it is only natural that this Government should make more money available to it than its predecessor did. This year, the present Government will make available to the Australian National University £600,000 for maintenance and £977,000 for capital expenditure. The contrast is a total expenditure of £3,700,000 by this Government and a total expenditure of £476,000 by the previous Government.
– I wish to refer to the representation, or rather the lack pf representation, of Australia, in the Republic of Ireland. I have already raised this matter in letters addressed to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and also in questions asked in this chamber, but, because I have not received satisfactory replies, I have been unable to tell the Irish people and the people of Irish descent in Sydney when Australia, will be adequately represented in the Republic of Ireland. I remind honorable members that the Minister for External Affairs is Mr. Casey, and that the Treasurer is ‘ Sir Arthur Fadden. Incidentally, when I first entered the Parliament, the Treasurer told me that his forefathers came from Galway Bay. Surely the Irish people can expect some consideration from such a combination. As I have said before in this chamber, they deserve better diplomatic representation of Australia in their country. During the last war, Irishmen won more Victoria Crosses than did the nationals of any other country that participated in the war. Surely that fact itself is a reason why Australian representation in Ireland should be at least equal to that in other countries.
We depended upon this Parliament to do the right thing. A Labour government appointed Mr. Digman as the Australian representative in Ireland. Later, the Irish Government sent to this coun try a representative in the person of Dr. Kiernan. Since I became a member of the Parliament, I have attended two functions at Dr. Kiernan’s home. Having seen many people at those functions celebrating on Irish mist, I am certain that it is not the wish of the majority nf honorable members that Ireland should bc deprived of Australian representation. During the last general election campaign,, the Treasurer, having trotted all over Queensland, promised a very important dignitary that, if the present Government parties were successful at the “lection, he would send to Ireland as the representative of. Australia, not just anybody, but one of the judges of the High Court. I assure the committee that the man to whom he made that promise was not named Hennessy..
Let us examine in a cool, calm and collected manner how the money of the taxpayers of this country is to be expended upon representation overseas. This year, the Government intends to expend upon diplomatic representation £281,000 in the United States of America, £84,000 in Russia - honorable members will remember what the Government- has said about tha t country- £76,000 in France, £38,000 in the Netherlands, £37,000 in the Republic of Indonesia - there are not many Indonesians on the electoral roll of any division in Australia - and only £12,000 in the Republic of Ireland. When a Labour government was in power, £20,000 was provided for Australian representation in Ireland. It is obvious that the Treasurer and the Minister for External Affairs do not intend that Australia shall- be properly represented there, because that sum has been reduced to £12,000. This year the Government will expend upon diplomatic representation £83,000 in. Japan, £39,000 in Brazil, £36,000 in the Federal Republic of Germany, £32,000 in Egypt, £39,000 in the Philippines, £26,000 in Thailand, £22,000 in New Zealand, £50,000 in Canada, £44,000 in Pakistan, £29,0Q0 in South Africa and £23,000 in Ceylon. I do not criticize the Government for the arrangements it has made in respect of countries other than Ireland, but I condemn it out of hand for the way in which it has treated Ireland.
Why, in the name of sense, does not the Government decide either to send or not to send an Australian representative toIreland? I admit that if it sent a representative who was anything like the Ministers who now control the affairs of this country, it would be better if he stayed at home, I prophesy that in twelvemonths’ time, when the Labour party occupies the treasury bench in this chamber, we shall send an ambassador to Ireland, and that the Caseys and the Faddenswill be on the outside looking in.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) has advanced theargument that it is better not to have a representative of this Government in Ireland at the present time. A feature of this debate has been the bitterness with, which honorable gentlemen opposite haveattacked the accomplishment of the Government in reducing taxes. That reduction will be of great benefit to individual taxpayers and to industries, and will assist the establishment and development of new industries. It .will also, increase employment opportunities by enabling businesses to be conducted more profitably. Unlike the New South WalesGovernment, which can keep crawling tothe Commonwealth to claim more and more money to help it to overcome thedesperate straits to which its own badmanagement has reduced it, private enterprise must run at a profit and, when, necessary, must alter its methods to enable it to do so. The Government should be congratulated on making this relief of taxation possible. Honorable members opposite have spoken scornfully about the abolition of the 10 per cent, income tax levy, which will save thepeople an amount of £36,500,000 a year. The abolition of the levy will rendergreat assistance to industry and afford’ relief to other sections of the community. The Government’s tax relief proposals,, including the reduction of company tax and sales tax, will save the taxpayers a total of £49,570,000 in this financial’ year. The degree of tax relief could have been even greater had it not been for the generosity and consideration that the Government has shown to the States. It overtaxed the people last year to the extent of £120,000,000, which it raised to enable the States to keep public works going, and all it received from the States in return was ingratitude and claims for more money. Honorable members opposite have also referred to the Government’s alleged policy of restricting the borrowing powers of the States. No such restriction has occurred. They have referred to restriction of the expenditure of loan moneys by the States. Again, no such restriction has taken place. Over the last three years of office of the Government that honorable gentlemen opposite supported, the Commonwealth found for the States a total of £220,000,000.
– Good enough !
– That interjection shows how inconsistent honorable members opposite are, because in less than three years this Government has raised loan funds for itself and the States amounting to £630,000,000. Yet we hear claims that the Government has provided no assistance to the States in relation to loan moneys, and that, as a result, men are being put out of work. The budget provides the evidence that the Government’s policy is putting men into work. The proposed vote for the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme is to be increased by £3,350,000 more than last year’s vote, to £13,600,000. The Government has reduced its indebtedness, increased expenditure on child endowment by £7,175,000 to a total of £53,800,000, and increased age and invalid pensions to a total of £72,485,000. Honorable members opposite say that the increase of age and invalid pensions this year is small, but it is more than they gave the pensioners when they were in office. In the last three years the Government has given to pensioners two increases of 10s. and one of 7s. 6d.
– They should have been given a lot more.
– Those increases mean that under this Government a married pensioner couple take home every fortnight £5 10s. more than they took home when the Government that the honorable member supported, was in office so it is a good thing for the age and invalid pensioners that there was a change of government.
– Has the honorable member ever heard of the increase of the cost of living?
– Yes, and I, know who is responsible for it. The States, which have the discretion and the power to control the price levels that govern the cost of living, are responsible.
– This Government is responsible for it.
– The Commonwealth does not possess the powers that the States possess to control the cost of living, but honorable members opposite think that if they blame this Government long enough and often enough for the increase of the cost of living, the majority of the people, whom they regard as ignorant, will believe them. They will find, however, that the people are not ignorant of the true position. This Government has done all that it proposed to do and, in view of the difficulties with which it has had to contend, it is exceeding all expectations.
– What about its promise to put value back into the £1?
– The Government supported by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) took the value out of the £.1. Had it not done so, how could it be true, as honorable members state, that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) or other members of the present Government could have claimed that they would put value back into the £1 ? The daily catchery and parrot squeal of honorable gentlemen opposite is, “ Menzies said he would put value back into the £1 “. Who took the value out of the £1? They did, before any such promise could he made.
I congratulate the Treasurer and the Government on the budget, which will assist every section of the community in particular the primary producers, the great timber industry, and the building industry, as well as the workers and manufacturers associated with them.
The Government is providing £28,000,000 for war service homes, and £30,000,000 for the States for home building. In addition primary producers will receive a concession that will mean a reduction of 20 per cent, in the cost, to them, of the erection of farm buildings and for farm employees which are necessary if more food is to be produced in this country. The building industry will prosper as a result of the Government’s measures; which will also give the people economic security to a degree that was unknown in the past.
– What about the abolition of the land tax?
– I congratulate the Government on abolishing that infamous tax, which was originally imposed by a Labour’ government about 40 years ago for the avowed purpose of breaking up large estates.
– That is not true.
– That is claimed, by the very people who introduced it, to be the reason why that infamous tax was placed on the unfortunate land-holder.
– -It is not true.
– We do not propose ever to tax the tools of the carpenter or the sewing machine of the sewing mistress, so why should the land of the primary producer be subjected to a. tax that was originally imposed for the purpose of breaking up large estates? Some of, the largest estates in the country are preserved by governments so as to keep stud herds in existence. It is claimed that certain big city firms receive favorable treatment in the budget. It was stated that David Jones Limited will receive a concession of £33.000 a year reduction of tax That firm is a great concern that represents the investment of millions of pounds by thousands of shareholders. That small reduction of tax on the land on which its buildings stand will make possible some reduction of. the cost of the articles that it sells. Such a result is in sharp contrast to the results of the actions of the New South Wales Government, which is adding to the cost of living of the employees of David Jones Limited by raising fares, and, despite the increases, continues to lose money on the State’s transport services. Land-owners throughout the country, young and old, welcome the abolition of this iniquitous tax. Primary producers in my electorate who have recently experienced the ravages of drought and bush fires are appreciative of the manner in which their representations for income tax concessions were accepted by officers of the Taxation Branch who discussed with them ways and means of assisting them to re-stock their properties. I trust that similar concessions will be granted to cattle men in the gulf country of Queens-, land who also have had to sell the pick of their herds in order to save them before attempting to move others that can still travel. The proceeds of such sales should be exempt from tax.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The speeches that have been made by honorable members since the beginning of the present sessional period have emphasized two outstanding requirements - a larger programme of developmental works and services and increased population. Many necessary developmental works have been outlined to-day by honorable members opposite. Some have stressed the importance of flood control and drainage works to restore the productivity of the land. Others have stressed the need for improved educational and hospital facilities, land settlement schemes, and other developmental projects that must be undertaken if Australia is to become ‘the great nation that we all hope it will be. These improvements will cost a great deal of money. I assume that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), within the limits of his capacity to raise money, is financing all the developmental projects that can possibly be put in hand. Obviously the right honorable gentleman cannot raise sufficient money to finance all the schemes that await development. He cannot raise it locally because Commonwealth loans on the domestic market have recently been undersubscribed for the first time since the war, and, probably, for the first time since the depression years. He cannot raise the money abroad. When the right honorable gentleman went abroad for that purpose he even scaled the Swiss Alps in the hope that he would be able to raise a loan in Switzerland, but he was unsuccessful. More recently, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) travelled from country to country, like an itinerant Micawber, hoping that- something would turn up. Like the original Micawber, when the right honorable gentleman sought to raise a “fiver” he was fobbed off with a two “ bob “ piece. -He did not want a loan of a mere 50,000,000 dollars from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development; he wanted an unlimited dollar loan. Of what use would 50,000,000 dollars be to .a country like Australia? Having regard to our requirements; it would be a mere bagatelle.
The honorable member .for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) has told us that the State governments alone could expend 50,000,000 dollars in a very short time. At a period of our greatest prosperity, when our primary products are being sold on the overseas markets at the highest prices we have ever -obtained, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer should not endeavour to raise loans abroad. Means for the collection of the money necessary to finance the Government’s requirements are already available. Opposition members have directed attention to the exorbitant profits that have been made by Australian industries of all kinds during the last few years.
– What has that to do -with the matter?
– Had the Government imposed an excess profits tax, as it promised to do, it could have used the proceeds of the tax to finance urgent developmental projects. , It is not yet too late for the Government to do so. Government spokesmen have said that the imposition of an excess profits tax in other countries has not proved successful. Why does not the Government impose heavy rates of tax on unearned increment? Why does it not tax, at high rates, the dividends of 27 per cent, earned by certain furniture distributing companies and the dividends of 70 per cent, or more made’ by certain companies that are engaged in the distribution of motor cars? The tax imposed on unearned increment should be at a rate considerably higher than that imposed on income derived from personal exertion. The person who buys shares in a public, company - the money lender, who is usually more euphoniously described as an investor - adds nothing by manual or mental exertion to the wealth of his country, and should pay higher rates of tax than those imposed on persons whose incomes are derived solely from personal exertion.
– The honorable member is taking the old socialist line.
– If those who would turn the money changers out- of the temple are socialists, I am proud to admit that I am a socialist. This Government will not tax unearned increment on land or on investments. Rather will it give back to a small group of big propertyowners the added value which community effort has imparted to their property. We do not suggest that the Government, should tax the value which Myer Emporium Limited has put into its property in Melbourne, but we say that the Government has a right to tax the added value which the community has given to the property. The same argument applies to other big property owners in the cities. I believe it to be unethical for any man, to take what belongs to another, and even if it be done by permission of the law the action is still unethical. For instance, it is not ethical for land-owners, after an irrigation scheme has been installed in their neighbourhood, to sell their land at six times its .former price.
– Rubbish !
– When Ned Kelly was taking other people’s money at pistol point, and some one told him that his behaviour was unethical, he replied, “ Rubbish ! “. Big businessmen utter a similar exclamation when told that it is unethical for them to help themselves to community-created value. This Government is helping, those persons to help themselves to more than £6,000,000 by remitting that amount of land tax, and at a time when the economic situation is so difficult that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer are going about the world holding out their hands virtually begging for alms to enable the administration of the country to be carried on. The Government is remitting this huge amount at a time when developmental works are being slowed down or stopped for want of money; when hundreds of immigrants who came to Australia, afire with ambition and filled with hope, are returning despondent to their own lands ; and when other immigrants, unable to find the money to pay their fares home, are begging the Government to repatriate them - the same Government which induced them, with all sorts of rosy promises, to come to this country.
The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that the Labour Government had done nothing to foster education. He claimed that the Labour Government had not assisted students to obtain a university education, and that to the present Government had been left the provision of university scholarships. As a matter of fact, the system of granting university scholarships was initiated by the Labour Government, although it did- not actually come into effect until after the present Government assumed office. However, the Minister should not attempt to deny to the Labour Government the credit for having introduced the scheme. After the war ended, the Labour Government provided no less than £30,000,000 to cover the cost of rehabilitation courses for ex-servicemen at universities, something which no other country in the world attempted to do on a similar scale. That is a part of the record of the Curtin and Chifley Governments, which were glorious in war and successful in peace; All the fatuous talk, all the feeble moanings, of honorable members opposite, all the arrogant statements of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) will not rob the Labour Government of the glorious place which it is destined to occupy in the history of Australia, or prevent it from becoming known as the most progressive . government that the world has ever seen.
– When we listen to speeches such as that just delivered by the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) we realize that most of the things that we hold dear in this country would be threatened should a Labour government be returned to power again. Australia was developed by the drive and energy of people who went out as pioneers and developed their own properties by their own hard work and sacrifice. Statements like those just uttered by the honorable member for Burke tend to destroy the credit of Australia, because the credit of any country depends largely upon the prosperity and continued efforts of people working on their own properties.
This afternoon, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said that this Government had done nothing to encourage food production. He also claimed that the Government had provided only £20,000 for flood relief. . As for. encouraging food production, the Government has just provided £200,000 for expenditure in the six States on agricultural extension services. The money is to be used to bring to the farmers the fruits of scientific research. Those services, by improving the individual efficiency of farmers, will bring about an improvement of the quantity and quality of food produced, and this will eventually be reflected in lower prices to the public. These extension services are a development of a service which the Labour Government instituted when it provided £1,250,000 over a period of five years as a dairy efficiency grant. There is no need to remind honorable members on this side of the chamber that the party to which the honorable member for East Sydney belongs has never been a great friend of primary producers. We are feeling to-day the effects of action taken by persons in his electorate, such as those employed on the wharfs. As a result of that action, primary producers have had to pay increased costs, and the applegrowers of Tasmania have suffered greatly because their apples have been left to rot on the wharfs. This Government is gaining the confidence of primary producers. Many of its’ supporters know the problems of those who are trying in every possible way to obtain reasonable prices for their produce. Goodness knows, it is difficult indeed to obtain a reasonable price in these days of constantly rising costs. It is heartening te notice that dairy production is increasing even at this moment because of the confidence which dairy-farmers have in this Government. I ask honorable members to contemplate a dairy farm being run as a socialist enterprise, with a 40-hour week. The cattle would not be tended at all for two days of the week and on the other days work would not start until S o’clock in the morning.
While the honorable member for East Sydney was criticizing statements that had been made by the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall), he said that this Government had provided only 20,000 for flood relief. In recent years phenomenal weather has been experienced in the eastern States of Australia. Meteorologists have explained the phenomenon by saying that a high, tropical, moist air current, which usually passes farther east towards New Zealand, has come from the tropics over that part of the continent during the last five years, following twelve exceedingly dry years. As a consequence, the rainfall has been more than doubled in many parts of New South Wales. Catchment areas have been damaged, run-offs have silted up, and mud banks have combined with silting to cause rivers to overflow after the slightest fall of ‘rain. I believe that a fall of 1$ inches of rain on the Lachlan catchment area means that the town of Forbes will be subjected to excessive floods. Great devastation has resulted from such floods. In the district through which passes the fast-running Macleay River houses have been washed away and thousands of acres of very rich country put out of production for several months. I n some instances, as many as nine farms have been completed destroyed. Potato crops have been wiped out in the Macleay River and Hunter River districts. Farmers have suffered all kinds of loss of production. Stands of lucerne have been sown over and over again at a cost of from £8 to £10 an acre.
In an endeavour to cope with the problem the New South Wales Government has . proposed to the Australian Government that a scheme similar to that submitted to Chifley Government should be put into operation. This scheme provides for the adoption of certain methods. it is useless for the Opposition in this Parliament to ask why the Australian Government does not do more in respect of flood relief. Surely it is a simple constitutional problem that if a flood occurs in a State of the Commonwealth the local authorities will resent other authorities attempting to go in and take charge. As a member of the New South Wales Parliament for eleven years, I know how greatly do State governments resent interference. They believe that they are the proper bodies to exercise authority within their borders. The scheme has been accepted in its entirety by the Australian Government. Whenever a State government has been prepared to expend money on flood relief, the Australian Government has matched such expenditure £1 for £1. However, as might be expected from a scheme proposed by a socialist government, although generous provision has been made for householders, people in necessitous circumstances, and sharefarmers, owner-farmers have been subjected to red tape methods. No distinction is made between the owner of 1 acre of land and the owner of 200 or 300 acres. First, they are asked to apply for a loan from the Rural Bank. Young exservicemen in the Hunter River district who own small market gardens were urged by the State government to apply for loans which put them further into debt. Because of pressure exerted by the Australian Government, the Commonwealth and State Flood Relief Committee now considers more generously the claims of owner-farmers. Such consideration means a great deal to the morale of the people concerned, and also assists production. Not much is heard from the people who receive such assistance because it is a confidential matter. However, I assure the committee that the effect upon their morale is tremendous.
While I am speaking about the Commonwealth and State Flood Relief Committee, I wish to say that I have the utmost admiration for its members. I refer particularly to Mr. Witheriff, the chairman, and the executive officer, Mr. George Jolly, who is one of the finest public servants I have ever met. For many years Mr. Jolly has devoted himself to this work because of the incessant.
Moods and the dreadful devastation that have occurred. He has been available at all times, whether at night, at weekends or on holidays, and kas given the most patient and devoted attention to his work. He has set a fine example to the other members of the committee. Mr. Len Rath, who is an extremely able and et impotent officer, deserves special mention. Mr. Hedges, Mr. McGillivray, of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, Mr. Burkitt, and Superintendent Clifford, of the New South Wales police force, have all travelled many thousands of miles in New South Wales in particularly difficult circumstances, and have given wonderful service to those who have suffered at a most serious time.
Honorable members will remember that the honorable member for East Sydney, who does not appear to be paying much attention to this matter at the moment, stated, that only £20,000 had been provided by this Government for flood relief. In reply to that statement, I point out that the following amounts have been approved: £20,000’ in March and April, 1950, in respect of the Mumimbidgee floods; £5,000 for the Forbes and Lachlan floods on the 16th June, 1950 ; £60,000 for the Macleay and Kempsey floods on the 27th June, 1950: £10,000 in respect of the Lachlan floods on the 25th October, 1950; £15,000 on the 13th December, 1950, in respect of the north-west, central west and Hunter River floods; £15,000 on the 23rd January, 1951, in respect of the Hunter River and Hawkesbury River floods; £20,000 on the 18th June last and £15,000 on the 7th of this month, in respect of the Lachlan, Macquarie, Hawkesbury and Murrumbidgee River floods; and a further £30,000 on the 22nd of this month.
– Is that all Commonwealth money?
– That is the Commonwealth contribution. The total of those amounts is £190,000 for flood relief alone. In addition, £10,000 was approved on the 22nd November, 1951, in respect of bush fire relief, and a further £20,000 on the 11th February last. The New South Wales Government has matched that total of £190,000 £1 for £1, so that £380,000 has been provided for flood and bush fire relief. Public subscriptions have also amounted to £200,000 or £300,000, which sum has been directed into the proper channels by the Commonwealth and State Flood Relief Committee. Although approximately £600,000 has been expended, such expenditure is only a small measure of the energy that has been directed towards the provision of flood relief in New South Wales. For instance, the police force, at a time of great danger to life and property, has been always on hand. Every policeman had done a splendid job. The Department of Social Services in New South Wales has also performed excellent work and the Australian Government has given great assistance by the provision of Army “ ducks “, which carried out rescue work in the middle of the disaster. The Royal Australian Air Force has always been ready to undertake rescue and mercy duties. It carried out a tremendous hay lift for starving sheep when the tremendous flood occurred in the Gwydir River district some time ago. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) was instrumental in having the aeroplanes there and the aerodrome at Tamworth could not carry all the traffic that was offering to lift the hay. The helicopter service was operated in the Forbes district recently with a display of tremendous heroism by the pilots. The flying doctor, Dr. Young, undertook rescue and mercy flights and deserves commendation for his efforts on that occasion. It is most unfair of the honorable member for East Sydney to belittle what has been done by the Government. Fair-minded Australians will consider that the honorable member has tried to cloud the issue and I am sure that he himself will be the first to admit, after hearing these figures, that the Treasurer-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise in order to contradict some statements that were made by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in regard to the Office of Education. In attempting to correct statements by the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews), the Minister only succeeded in muddying the stream. He indulged in grievous misrepresentation with the sole purpose of inferring that the former Government had no hand in the development of education in this country. The Minister cited an amount of £3,000,000 in relation to expenditure on education and an amount of £400,000 that had been provided for in the last budget of the Labour Government. He completely misrepresented the position. The greatest leap forward in education was made during the war by the Curtin and Chifley Governments with very little warrant under the Constitution. The Labour Government stretched to the limit its authority under the defence power of the Constitution in order -to assist education. The Minister should remember that £36,000,000 was expended by the Labour Government on the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. A high percentage of men who returned from the services were given a university education through the ( Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Technical education throughout Australia received a financial fillip when the then Government expended millions of pounds on it. One institution in my own electorate benefited to the amount of some thousands of pounds. Twenty-five thousand pounds was expended on. the Ballarat Technical College. The Labour Administration desired to give all the financial support possible to education. The Minister was most unfair in his remarks and failed to give a true picture of the situation. There may have been a difference in the amounts expended, on education as cited by the Minister, but if he compares the value in terms of services rendered to education by this Government and the previous Government he will realize what a grievous, misconception he endeavoured to -instil.. The Curtin and Chifley Governments initiated university scholarships, introduced the Canberra University legislation, and in every possible way buttressed the educational institutions of the States. The Labour Government even submitted to the people at a referendum a proposal for an alteration of the Constitution to confer on the Commonwealth power to legislate in relation to social services, and when this was agreed to it was authorized to aid students.
What was the attitude of the then Opposition to the assistance of education? The Labour Government published the Current Affairs Bulletin as a part of its attempt to provide adult education for men and women after they had. left the Army. The then Opposition moved the adjournment of the House in order to discuss its allegation that this publication had been written by Communists. That was the kind of support that the Government received from the then Opposition. The Current Affairs Bulletin no longer exists. 1 understand that the National University has been made responsible for its publication but so far as the public is concerned it does not exist. The ordinary citizen cannot now obtain from the Office of Education a Current Affairs Bulletin dealing with a subject in which he is interested, such as the situation in India or the racial problem in South Africa. The Current Affairs Bulletin has gone with the wind. During the war and during the years of reconstruction, millions of pounds were poured into education by a government that had very little constitutional power to incur that expenditure. The Labour party is proud of its record in this respect.
There has always been a paramount, desire on the part of the Labour party to assist education, particularly adult education, and the Opposition blames the Government for the total destruction of the Labour Government’s effort to continue this most essential work. The universities may flourish and. the school? may go on but there are always some who have slipped through the sieve of education and who need assistance. The Current Affairs Bulletin was callously thrown aside for party political purposes by this Government. It ill became the Minister, who professes to be an intellectual, to use the figures that he has cited in an incorrect way. He endeavoured to lead honorable members to a wrong conclusion. The Labour party’s record in the field of education is one of which it has every reason to be proud. Opposition members are grateful that the Minister has given to us the opportunity to mention it. Despite the- .expenditure of £3,000,000 which the Minister mentioned the Government is lagging far behind the magnificent effort that was made during the war and in the time of reconstruction by the Curtin and Chifley Governments.
.- There is a matter which has been raised on several occasions in this committee but has not been answered. It is the complaint by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) that the Government has not appointed an ambassador to Eire. As one of the Australians of Irish descent to ‘whom the honorable member referred, I feel that this matter should be put into its proper perspective. First. let us ask what is the purpose of ‘ representation an countries overseas. The purpose is to make clear the viewpoint of this country, and to gather information in those parts of the world where our vital interests are involved and where our peace and security are at stake. Can it be said that those conditions exist in Southern Ireland, or in any part of Ireland? I suggest to the honorable member for West Sydney that our vital interests in this respect lie in Moscow and in those countries of South and South-East Asia that lie under the shadow of the threat of communism. Our interests also lie in countries such as Egypt, where there is a state of uncertainty, insecurity, and change, and which lies directly across our lines of communication.
The honorable member for West Sydney and the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) sought to make this matter one of sentiment and national prestige. In that they did a dis-service to this chamber and to Australia itself. Indeed, ideas and sentiments may be judged by the company they keep, and the arguments of those honorable members were not reinforced by the adherence of the honorable member for East Sydney .(Mr. Ward). In this instance the west appears to be an ally of the east, and the force of the arguments is not increased by the union. T suggest to honorable members that for too long in the past has Australia been divided by bitter feelings that have arisen in distant places and in ancient times. We have been sundered by old quarrels that have no place in- the future of this country and which should not be resurrected in the present. The honorable member for West Sydney does no service to Ireland, he does no service to Australia and he does no service to Australians of Irish descent by reviving ancient and bitter feelings of the past in an attempt to make party political capital.
The Estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department make provision in Division No. 11 for £430,000 for the Public Service Board. Any discussion of this estimate must raise the question of the administration and effective control of the Public Service. The committee should at once ask whether the present arrangements in Australia for the investigation and reform of the Public Service are adequate. T suggest that they are not. At the outset I make it clear that I am not criticizing the Government, or its predecessor. All that I am seeking to do is to ensure that the administration of the Public Service shall be of the highest standard. When the changes that have occurred in the Public Service during the last ten or fifteen years are examined, and the fact that its administrative machinery has not been kept up to date is also considered, it must become apparent at once that there is a necessity for a careful inquiry into and an investigation of its present state. Control of the Public Service is vested, in the” first instance, in the Governor-General in Council. Under him each department is controlled by a permanent head. However, the Public Service Act provides that the Public Service Board shall, among other things, examine and report from time to time on the condition of the Public Service. That raises the question whether the administrative body itself can effectively be its own check and critic. I do not think that it can be. It is possible that the Public Service Board will, on the level of detail, be able effectively to examine and criticize its own work. However, it is hot to be expected, in the nature of things, that a broad survey of the whole Public Service can be conducted ‘effectively by officers within the Service.
– Whom would the honorable member select to investigate conditions within the whole Public Service?
– I shall deal with that matter later. In recent years the Public Service has expanded enormously in size, number of departments and functions. It is notable that the increase has been greatest in the field of nonproductive workers. Administrative, clerical and technical staff has increased to a greater degree than has the staff of any other branch of the Service. It has been suggested from time to time, with some substance, that there is a good deal of overlapping between Federal and State departments. I know that this Government has tried hard to eliminate overlapping, but such elimination cannot be carried out piece-meal, it must be done at the one time. It can be asked very justly whether we are satisfied that in the past there has been a sufficiently critical examination of the Service. Are we satisfied that the methods of recruitment to the Public Service are adequate? Any recruiting authority must be in a dilemma. On the one hand there is a ecessity to provide continuity of service nd an opportunity for every officer to progress, and on the other hand there is a necessity to select for technical positions the most highly qualified persons available. Are we satisfied that there ‘is a correct relationship between the Public Service administrators and the Public Service unions? Is ask that because a proper relationship is of great importance. Moreover, we must be satisfied that there is sufficient provision within the Public Service for a re-assessment, after some years of service, of the abilities of members of the Service and of the result on the officers of their training in the Service. Can we be content that the Public Service is being kept up to date with progress in commerce and industry? Again, are the relations of the experts and the administrators, the professional officers and the clerical officers, satisfactory? I consider that anybody who investigates that matter will realize at once that those relationships are not satisfactory. Above all, can we be satis fied that the administrative side of the departments is kept flexible enough to deal with changing circumstances and yet remain economical and efficient?
Let us consider the public services in other countries of the world. In Great Britain, since the 1850’s, when the first real comprehensive review of the civil service took place, there has been an independent inquiry of some sort into the administration of the service about every ten years. In the United States of America inquiries have become ever more frequent in recent years, and there is at present a presidential committee which sits almost continuously, but which consists solely of persons who are outside the service. That committee is examining the American Public Service and is making recommendations about it. It is high time we had a thorough investigation of the Public Service. 1 repeat that I am not criticizing the Public Service Board, but I suggest . that the board, from its very nature, cannot carry out the necessary critical examination of the wide variety of functions over which it has administrative authority. Such an examination can be made efficiently only by an independent board of inquiry. The last such investigation was carried out over 30 years ago, and it is high time another was made. I have often wondered why this method of checking the operations of the Public Service has not appealed to successive governments. All that a government needs to do, after all, is to make a decision that such an investigation shall be made, appoint the personnel, let the inquiry take its course, and finally examine the results. I hope that, before long, this Government will decide that such an examination of the Public Service is necessary.
– The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) spoke on the subject of education earlier and made certain comparisons between the educational efforts of various governments which, though no doubt the honorable gentleman was sincere, were entirely misleading. In order to make a proper comparison of the Estimates for different years, it is necessary to study the accounting methods -that have been used in those years. The Minister will find, if he will study the Year-Booh for 1951, at the pages to which I shall refer, that the effort of assisting universities has merely been transferred from one heading to another and that he has been making a completely invalid comparison between Estimates that were arranged in different ways. At page 240 of the Year-Booh for 1951, which I am sure the honorable gentleman will regard as accurate, he will find that in 1948 the Commonwealth financed completely, under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, 12,464 students in universities alone. I emphasize the fact that the total excludes students enrolled at technical schools and other institutions. Clearly that was a very great educational effort which it was the duty. of the government of the day to make under its repatriation obligations. While it was financing nearly 12,500 students at universities under that scheme, clearly it could not conduct any largescale scheme for the educational assistance of civilians. Obviously, the physical problem of accommodation at the universities imposed a limit. The Minister will find also at page 254 of the YearBooh for 1951, that large sums were granted to the universities to enable them to extend their buildings so that they could cope with the large numbers of additional students. Those buildings became permanent assets. Grants to universities for the erection of Permanent buildings totalled over £732,000. In addition, £17,000 was made available for alterations, and £178,000 for temporary buildings. The total for building works, therefore, was more than £927,000. The present Government is undoubtedly continuing the policy of assisting university building work, but the expenditure is not shown under the heading of reconstruction training. Page 254 of the Year-Booh also shows that £437,000, the sum that the Minister appeared to think represented the total educational effort of the Labour Government in 1948, was also given to the universities for the purchase of equipment. Of that amount, £367,000 was used to buy equipment of a permanent nature.
The civilian student scheme was established under the terms of legislation that was introduced in this Parliament by Mr. Dedman. The act was passed in 1949, but it was designed to come into operation in 1950. I acknowledge that the expenditure under that scheme fell upon the Government that succeeded the defeated Chifley Government, but the fact is that the Chifley Government drafted the scheme and planned its implementation for 1950. Thus, the comparisons made by the Minister were unsound. The present Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) had to provide finance for a programme of expenditure that had been laid down by the previous. Government. The reason why the 3,000-student scholarship scheme was not introduced earlier, was that the students who would have been eligible for it were young ex-servicemen ho were receiving their education under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. At page 796 of the *YearBooh for 1951, the Minister will see that, in four years, the expenditure in connexion with reconstruction training, which relates to the payment of students’ allowances, amounted to £36,000,000. More than 25 per cent, of the total amount of allowances paid related to university education. Thus, the universities did not receive direct assistance at that time because they did not need it while they were receiving assistance tinder the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. All the negotiations that proceeded between the vicechancellors of the universities and the Chifley Government, which were carried on by the Menzies Government later, arose from the fact that the universities were confronted with the problem of the disappearance of all the aid that they had previously obtained under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme.
Pages 240 to 248 of the Year-Booh to which I have referred are devoted to the universities. In that section, the Minister will find a long passage dealing with the Australian National University. I happen to know of the facts because I have been a member of the council of the university since its inception. It was estimated in 1946 that the running expenses of the university would amount to £325,000 a year, but it was realized that expenditure would not be incurred at tha rate from the moment the universitywas established. .Staff had to be accumulated, and the university had to be formed before that rate of expenditure could be reached. All the estimates that we made in 1946 concerning building costs were wholly invalid. The estimates made by the architects in 1946 have been multiplied by three since then. That is not necessarily due to superior enlightenment on the part of this Government. In fact, it is due to increased building costs. The running costs, which were estimated at £325,000 a year, have reached the staggering total of approximately £650,000 a year. Salaries have almost doubled since the first estimate was made, and other costs have risen with the’ cost of living. I repeat that comparisons made by the Minister, however sincere he may have been, were utterly invalid.
.- In the minute that remains before the debate on the Estimates now before the committee is closed, I want to correct a misrepresentation by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) of statements that I had made. The honorable member implied that I had said, in making a comparison, that the Australian Government had provided only £20,000 for flood relief. The comparison I made was between the payments made by the Government for flood relief and those that it had made for relief in Asiatic countries. The honorable member for Macarthur really supported my argument, because he said that the Government had granted £190,000 to provide assistance in connexion with ten floods. That represents an average of only £19,000 for each flood. That fact demonstrates that I was over-generous to the Government when I spoke of an amount of £20,000. The damage caused by those floods probably amounted to about £50,000,000, but the Government provided only £190,000 for relief. That proves that my criticism was fully justified.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The time allotted for the consideration of the proposed votes for the Prime Minister’s Department, the Department of External Affairs, the
Department of the Treasury and the Attorney-General’s Department, has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
– Order ! The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) is not in order.
– Who is running away from whom?
– It is all over now.
– The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) will maintain silence. His offence is aggravated by the fact that he is not in his own seat.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmatives
The following paper was presented : -
Northern Territory - Reasons for revocation of’ Manassie Aboriginal Reserve.
House adjourned at 1.1.8 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked ‘the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it the practice of all or some Ministers to circulate widely their speeches, using the unlimited supply of stamps which, as Minister, they receive for postage?
– Statements or speeches made by Ministers are normally matters of importance to the nation, and require a wide circulation. The method by which Ministers ensure that the information contained in their statements reaches the interested public concerns each individual Minister. I understand that the practice now in force does not differ from that observed by Ministers in the previous Government.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. So far as practicable, the Government has given effect to the recommendations of the committee of inquiry into the salaries and allowances of members of the Commonwealth Parliament. After further examination of two or three recommendations, it was decided not to adopt them. These related mainly to gold passes, telephone facilities, and the provision of typist-secretaries. Acceptance of the Nicholas Committee’s recommendations on these matters could have created certain anomalies, and could well have proved quite impracticable.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
The position in regard to the respective territories is as follows: -
Variation of the prescribed working hours in Papua and New Guinea and Nauru is not contemplated at present.
z asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What is the present position with respect to the proposal announced by the Government in 1949 that it intended to raise loans totalling £250,000,000, the interest and sinking fund payments on which would be provided from petrol tax, for the purpose of carrying out work upon feeder roads, soil conservation, rural housing and flood prevention, the provision of water, light and power and the destruction of vermin and noxious weeds.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
During 1950-51 and 1951-52, which are the two full financial years during which it has been in office, the Commonwealth Government raised, on behalf of State governments for works purposes, loans totalling £191,000,000. It also contributed £168,000,000 in 1951-52 from its own resources to assist State loan programmes. This year it has undertaken to provide special assistance to loan programmes up to an amount of £135,000,000. In addition, during 1950-51 and 1951-52, roads grants to the States totalled £29,000,000 and payments to the States for encouragement of meat production. Western Australian waterworks and imported houses were £3,000,000. The Commonwealth also provided, during the same period, an amount of £218,000,000 from Consolidated Revenue and Loan Fund for its own works programmes, including the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, coal industry, post office, war service homes and civil aviation.
The Commonwealth Government, therefore, provided for Commonwealth and State works of a developmental kind in 1950-51 and 1951-52 an amount of £594,000,000, this despite the necessity to finance defence expenditure of £250,000,000 during the same period.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. International Monetary Fund. - Australia’s original subscription to the International Monetary Fund amounted to £62,034,739. This was met by apayment in gold of £2,606,961; a payment of £6,227,778 in Australian currency to the account of the fund with the Commonwealth Bank. Sydney, to be used as a working balance; and a deposit with the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, of a special non-negotiable non-interest-bearing security, payable on demand to the fund, amounting to £53,200.000. As a result of the change in the par value of the Australian £1 on the- 18th ‘ September, 1949> Australia’s obligation to the fund in relation to the subscription was increased by £26,104,474 This- additional obligation was met by a pay ment of £2,729,474 in Australian currency to the- account of the fund with the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, and by depositing a special non-negotiable non-interest-bearing security, payable on demand to the fund, amounting to £23,375,000. On the 20th October, 1949,’ Australia purchased from the fund 20,000,000 dollars in United States cnr rencyand the fund’s account in- Australia was credited with the equivalent in Australian currency amounting to £8,928,571. A service charge amounting to £67,309 was paid at the time of this purchase and other charges incurred to date as a result of the purchase have amounted to £111,744-. These charges have been paid in gold. On the 20th August, 1952. Australia, purchased a. further 30,000,000 dollars in United States currency from the fund and the fund was credited with the Australian currency equivalent,. £13,392,857. The service charge on this transaction amounted to £67,309, paid in gold. No other charges in connexion with this drawing have been incurred a«. yet.
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. - Australia’s original subscription to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development amounted to £12,406,948. This was met by a payment in gold of £1,240,095; a payment of £.111,703 in Australian currency to the account of thu International Bank with the- Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, to be used as a working balance: and a. deposit with the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, of a special non-negotiable noninterestbearing security, payable on demand to the Bank, amounting to £11,054,550. As a result of the change in the par value of the Australian £1 on the 18th September, 1949, Australia’s obligation to the International Bank in relation to the subscription was increased by £4,905,165. This additional obligation was met by a payment of £49,165 in Australian currency to the account of the International Bank with the Commonwealth Bank, Sydney, and by depositing a special non-negotiable non-interest-bearing security, payable on demand to the International Bank, amounting to £4,856,000. Under the 100,000,000 dollar loan agreement signed on the 22nd August, 1950, payments of interest and commitment charge to date have amounted to 1713,110. No charges have so far been incurred in respect of the 50,000,000 dollar loan agreement with the International Bank signed on the 8th July, 1952.
s. - On. the 7th August, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) asked the following question : -
Will the Prime Minister make an early announcement; of Government policy with respect to the extravagant subsidies that the Government, is paying on overseas coal whilst ample supplies of Callide coal arc available? In the . event of the Government deciding to continue these subsidies, will he endeavour to have the subsidy in respect of Callide coal paid on the same basis of cash per lon as is now dune in respect of coal purchased from overseas competitors? Is he aware of the fact that following a trial shipment of Callide coal to japan, an immediate request for further supplies was received from that country? .Will he investigate the reasons why Japan desires to purchase Callide coal in preference to coal from India? - I now’ advise the honorable member as follows : -
In February, 1961, the Premiers of Victoria and South Australia recommended to the Commonwealth that further orders for coal should Ite- placed overseas- to ensure continued supplies at the f.o.b. prices then offering. The Commonwealth agreed,’ having first insisted that every, effort should bc made by the States to use any available supplies of Callide coal. 1’lic Victorian Government contracted with the Callide mine proprietors to take (100,000 tons of coal during the three years ending the 28th February, 1054. The Commonwealth agreed to subsidize the Victorian Government to cover the difference between the landed cost in Victoria of Callide coal and that of New South Wales steaming coal. The Victorian Government is also compensated by the Commonwealth for the difference in British thermal unit value of Callide and New South Wales steaming coal. During 1951, 59,000 tons of Callide coal were delivered to Victoria and in the first six months of 19S2, a further 47,000 tons were delivered. Total expenditure incurred in subsidy payments by the Commonwealth Government to consumers during these eighteen months was £173,000. As the subsidy on Callide coal is paid to the consumer (Victoria) and not the Queensland producers, Queensland would not benefit if the same subsidy per ton were paid by the Commonwealth on Callide coal as is paid on imported coal. To encourage development of Callide, the Commonwealth (a) agreed to pay an estimated amount of £253,000 to widen and seal the road used to haul coal from Callide to Gladstone;’ (b) arranged with the British Phosphate Commissioners to make available an engineer experienced in wharf-handling problems to advise the Harbour Board, Gladstone; (c) purchased two ships for carrying Callide coal (i) Coolebar of 4,000 tons dead weight, has completed its first voyage; (ii) Carcoola of the same tonnage Will reach Australia shortly and will commence loading in September (both are operated by the Australian Shipping Board) ;
arranged for the diversion to-.the Gladstone mil of the river class boats of approximately 7,000 tons each. ‘ The character Of Callide coal limits the use to which it can be put and hence the available markets. For example, Callide coal cannot be used for the purposes for which imported coal is now used. There iss no evidence that Japanese importers prefer Callide coal to Indian coal. It is, in fact, known that substantial quantities of Indian coal are being exported to Japan.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 August 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520828_reps_20_218/>.