20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Son. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I address to the Minister for Social Services a question which refers to persons in receipt of age pensions and who also hold government bonds. I have in mind particularly an old couple who have £1,500 worth of bonds. The market value of the £100 bond is at present £88. Where such bonds are deemed to be property in the possession of such persons, is the Minister prepared, in future, to assess the pension entitlement, not on the face value of the bonds which they hold, but on the market value ?
– When there is consistency in the market price of bonds, this question, does not arise, but when there is fluctuation in the market price there is, of course, need for assessment. Pensions are reviewed at specified periods. The current practice is to assess bonds at the market rate and not at their face value. That has been the consistent policy of the department for many years. Of course, there would be instances, such as that to which the honorable member has referred, of persons who hold £1,500 worth of bonds which have not yet been reviewed. However, in all new cases the assessment is based on market value. If the honorable member is able to bring to my notice particular instances of the kind to which he has referred, I shall investigate them immediately and cause a review to be made straight away.
– I direct to the Minister for Social Services a question relating to blind persons who were recently brought into the pensions scheme when the means test was relaxed. Can the Minister say when pensions will be payable to those people, and also whether the blind persons concerned will come under the medical benefits scheme in the same way as age and invalid pensioners?
– The blind .persons concerned will come under the medical services scheme applicable to age and invalid pensioners. Pensions became’ payable to them immediately after the 2nd October. Naturally it is taking a little time to overtake arrears in respect of the new pensioners, of whom there are 4,200, but most of them have been dealt with. If the honorable gentleman knows of ‘ any trouble in relation to any particular case, I shall have it examined immediately.
– Is the Minister for Social Services- aware that consequent upon the considerable expansion of the social services scheme under the administration of this Government, many members of the general public are not aware of the benefits, particularly those relating to hospital and medical services, that are available to them ? Will the Minister give consideration to the preparation and distribution of a codified index on the lines of similar brochures issued by the previous Government, giving brief details of the social services that are available?
– For some months past the Department of Social Services have been preparing a small booklet which sets out all the benefits under the social services scheme. It could not be completed, of course, until the last of tha budget changes were made in our social services a few weeks ago. I am now awaiting the final proofs, and I shall let the honorable member know later when the booklet will be ready for publication.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. In view of the fact that the incomes of many superannuated officers of the Commonwealth and State services, who have provided for their old age by their savings, are little in excess of the age pension plus the amount of the permissible income, will the Minister consider extending to such persons the benefits of the free medical and free medicine schemes pending the implementation of his proposal to abolish the means test?
– At present the Commonwealth is providing about £7,000,000 a year for free medicine and free medical benefits, and about £1,000,000 a year for the pensioner medical scheme. In considering the honorable member’s proposal we must consider whether we can afford such a scheme. The honorable member’s proposal has great merit and justice, in it, but social services in Australia are now costing about £200,000,000 a year and all future payments of social services must be examined very closely. Further expenditure cannot be incurred without due regard to all the other commitments of the Commonwealth. The proposal of the honorable member has much merit in it and I shall be very pleased to examine it carefully to ascertain whether anything can be done in thu direction that he has indicated.
– I ask tho Minister for Social Services whether it is a fact that the Department of Social Services deducts from age, invalid and widows’ pensions the amount of any money overpaid to such pensioners ? Is it also a fact that the department’s method of recouping itself for overpayments varies considerably. In some cases the full amount is obtained in one payment, and in other cases the over-payment is deducted from the pension in small amounts until the total is made up. “Will the Minister arrange to have overpaid amounts deducted on a uniform basis at a small flat rate and so prevent hardship in many cases ?
– It would be very difficult in practice to follow the pro posal made by the honorable member.’ The department is involved in certain overpayments to pensioners, some of which have been deliberately caused by misrepresentation. Some people have taken money_ to which they are not entitled. I have in mind the case of a man who received a tuberculosis pension, to which he was not entitled, for more than a year before the department discovered its mistake. He ‘had earned substantial sums of money, and really he should have been prosecuted. In every case the social services legislation is administered in a most sympathetic way, and the department makes arrangements for repayments in every case by agreement between the department and the person concerned. If the honorable member has in mind a case in which he considers there is undue hardship, I shall be very pleased to investigate it. Generally speaking, the matter of repayments is arranged between the departmental officer or magistrate and the person concerned.
– Is the Minister acting for the Postmaster-General aware that an officer in the Telephone Branch of the Postal Department in Hobart is advising applicants for telephones that, although the necessary equipment is available, they will not get telephone facilities while this Government is in office? As party political statements by public servants are highly improper, will the Minister say whether the officer concerned has authority to make such comments? If he has not, will the Minister cause investigations to be made with a view to having him disciplined?
– There is no justification for the statement to which the honorable member has referred. If it is in fact being made, there is no question that action will be taken.
– Can the Minister for Air inform me what progress, if any, has been made, in response to requests by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, for the construction of an airport to service that city? Has any agreement been reached with the Department of
Civil Aviation about the suitability of Hexham as the site for the proposed airport, and, if so, has the necessary survey yet been completed? In view of the fact that Newcastle City Council is willing to provide 500 toils of filling a week free of cost for this project, will the Minister hasten the preliminary inquiries that have been going on for months and give to the people of northern New South Wales an answer to the question whether or not they can expect to have an airport at Newcastle?
– The Department of Air, in conjunction with the Department of Civil Aviation, has been investigating the possibility of establishing an airport at Newcastle, and has been engaged in trying to define the area on which the airport could be constructed. Recently the two departments appointed a committee to investigate the matter. It decided that Hexham was too close to the Royal Australian Air Force station at Williamtown to permit the establishment of an, airport there. The committee is examining sites in the Newcastle area and will meet next week when it will deal with the question of whether some more suitable site can be obtained. The honorable members for Paterson and Newcastle are also interested in this matter. I shall let all the honorable members concerned have an answer to their questions about it as soon as possible.
– Has the Minister for Health, who is acting for the PostmasterGeneral, yet been able to obtain a copy of the transcript of a broadcast that was made at 8.30 a.m. on the 30th September from the radio station situated on Thursday Island and operated by the Queensland Government? If he has obtained the transcript, will he say whether it reveals that a breach of faith with the Australian Government occurred, and whether there was also a breach of the terms under which the station licence was issued ? Will the right honorable gentleman indicate whether if such evidence is available, and if the broadcast be proved to have been made in the terms believed, the Government will be prepared to make the evidence available to the court in the event of the member of the Queensland Government who was aggrieved by the political attack contained in the broadcast deciding to take legal proceedings against the Queensland Government ?
– Since the honorable gentleman asked me a question about this matter on the 15th October, I have obtained information regarding the activities of the station concerned. The station, which is operated on Thursday Island by the Queensland Department of Native Affairs is a radio-telephone station which is authorized to communicate with fifteen outpost stations established by that department in the Torres Strait area for the exchange of communications on matters relating to the business of the department. Talks of a general nature directed to the outpost stations are permitted, but neither the control station on Thursday Island nor any outpost station is licensed for broadcasting to the general public. The licences do not confer any right to broadcast political propaganda. It has been ascertained that the log of the Thursday Island station shows that it was used at 8.30 a.m., on Tuesday, the 30th .September, 1952, for a talk to all outpost stations, but the script is not available, as the licensees of such stations are not required to keep records of the texts of transmission. I am having further inquiries made into the matter so far a3 the questions raised by the honorable member relate to the conditions under which the licence was issued, and I will inform him of the result, but, as I have said, no record is kept of the script and therefore it. is impossible to give the honorable member information about it.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House what steps have been taken to use moneys received from the disposal of Japanese assets in Australia to satisfy the claims of Australian nationals in Japan who had their property appropriated by the Japanese Government and who suffered loss either by the depreciation of their assets or the failure to return them although they may not have suffered actual personal injury or hardship ?
– I shall have this matter examined and supply the honorable member with an answer to his question.
– Will the Minister for” Air inform the House whether it is a fact that Royal Australian Air Force national service trainees are required to wear uniform dress when on leave? Is it also a fact that many of the trainees who are undergoing training at the Royal Australian Air Force station at Canberra and who have been in camp for some considerable time have not yet been issued with some items comprising their uniform ? Will the Minister take immediate action in connexion with this matter and ensure that no trainee is penalized for not wearing full uniform when on leave?
– National service trainees in the Air Force are required to wear uniform when on leave if they have been provided with a uniform. I have not heard a complaint in recent months that members of the Air Force station at . Fairbairn airport have not received all items of their uniform, but I shall make inquiries and if I find any truth in the statement of the honorable member I shall have the matter rectified. I can assure the honorable member that national service trainees would not, under any circumstances, be penalized for failing to wear items of uniform that had not been provided for them. About a year ago there was some criticism that adequate quantities of uniforms had not been provided,- but I think that adequate supplies have been available in recent months except in the most unusual circumstances and I think that there is general contentment throughout the service.
– In view of the situation that has arisen in Iran and the reported breach of the diplomatic relations between that country and the United
Kingdom, will the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs make a statement to the House regarding this position and indicate any effect that this international development may have on Australia? Will the Minister also report on the serious situation that has apparently developed in Indo-China?
– The situation in Iran concerns the United Kingdom and does not directly concern Australia. From time to time the views of the Australian Government on the situation in Persia have been communicated to the United Kingdom Government. I do nol tL ink that there is anything that I can usefully add to the account of this matter that has already been published. For the time being it might be out of place for me to intervene in a public discussion of a matter which directly affects the United Kingdom and not Australia. So far as the situation in Indo-China is concerned, as the honorable member knows, the Australian Government recently established a base at Saigon and is receiving reports on the situation in Indo-China. At present the offensive which is in progress against the French is developing in such a way as to give grounds for a great deal of anxiety. I shall consider the possibility, at a later stage, of supplying further information to the House on the situation in IndoChina.
– Is the Minister acting for the Postmaster-General aware that there is serious dissatisfaction among postmen in the metropolitan ‘ area of Melbourne at the proposal of the department to eliminate the penalty rate of 50 per cent, paid for work on Saturdays, and the penalty rate of 10 per cent, paid for work prior to 6.30 a.m. on week-days to men working on rotating shifts? Is the Minister also aware that this proposal will reduce the average fortnightly earnings of a number of postmen in the metropolitan area of Melbourne by approximately 30s.? Will he issue instructions to the department that this proposed economy measure be dropped immediately, and that economies to be effected in the department in future shall not be at the expense of the living standards of a very loyal, hard-working and efficient section of the public service ?
– Conditions and pay in the Public Service are determined by the Public Service Arbitrator, and I am at a loss to understand why the honorable member should suggest that they are .below proper living standards. However, the matter to which he has referred has already been brought to my notice by a deputation representing the Melbourne division of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia, and I have asked the Acting Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs to discuss the position with the Public Service Board with a view to ascertain-‘ ing whether something can be done in the direction indicated.
– Will the Treasurer give consideration to providing finance for the introduction in Australia of a prospecting programme on the same lines as the Defence Minerals Exploration Administration in the United States of America? I point out, by way of explanation, that under that administration, the cost of prospecting i3 advanced to prospectors on certain terms, and is not repayable unless the properties are profitably worked. The advance varies from 50 per cent, to 90 per cent, of the cost, and is payable in respect of 34 different minerals.
– I am very interested in the matter raised by the honorable member for Mackellar, and shall certainly give it the consideration that it deserves.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer, and I inform him that, in common with most honorable members, I have received a letter from the Commonwealth Bank Officers Association expressing concern at a proposal to divide the existing functions of the bank. This association is not a registered organization with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and has no industrial rights, but is acting in the greatest good faith with the Commonwealth Bank management. Will the Treasurer take into consideration the views of the association before he introduces legislation to alter the structure of the bank?
– Obviously, the honorable member’s question deals with a matter of Government policy, which will be decided in due course.
– In view of the dependence in recent years of fruitgrowers in the Murray Valley districts on immigrants for harvest labour, will the Minister for Immigration ensure that sufficient man-power will be available for this purpose during the forthcoming; summer? Further, does the Minister consider that the Government’s reduction of Australia’s immigration quota will result in a labour shortage for the fruit industry in the next picking season?
– Action is already in train, to organize a labour force, both in theMurray and Mumimbidgee valleys, for the forthcoming fruit harvest. I assure the honorable member for Angas that, in the judgment of officers of my department, ample labour should be available either from Australians seeking work in those districts at the time, or from immigrants who will supplement the labour that is offering. I do not think that there need be any fear that the reduction in the immigration programme for next year will interfere in any way with successful harvesting operations in the forthcoming season.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Air relating to representations that I have made to him about mass dismissal of employees from the Royal Australian Air Force aerodrome at Garbutt, Townsville. How does the Minister reconcile his statement that it is not the intention of his department to dismiss employees from Royal Australian Air Force stations with the fact that notice of mass dismissal has already been given at Garbutt aerodrome? Has the Minister investigated this matter, and if not will he do so as quickly as possible with a view to having the decision to dismiss those employees reversed?
– The words “mass dismissal “ rather amaze me.
– The men are being put off.
– There may be one or two dismissals, but I suggest that the honorable member could have chosen more appropriate language. The policy of the department is to employ civilians when service personnel is not available for a job. As we are able to recruit more servicemen, the civilians who were temporarily engaged are put off. However, such dismissals have been comparatively few. Not many civilians have been employed at Garbutt, and I have no desire to put any one off if it can be avoided. The policy of this Government is to keep people in employment as far as is within its powers. That applies to the defence forces as it does in every other field of Commonwealth activity. However, I shall investigate the position at Garbutt and if I find that dismissals have been on a substantial scale I shall see what I can do about the matter.
– Answering a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Darling Downs about the treatment of poliomyelitis, in connexion with which Sister Kenny has performed a service so notable that her practical work in the United States of America was commended by President Roosevelt, and has been praised recently in a book by John Gunther, the Minister for Health referred to reports on Sister Kenny’s treatment made back in 1938 and 1939. I ask the Minister whether the matter will be reviewed, not in the prejudiced light of what was reported fourteen years ago, but in the light of the fact that Sister Kenny’s treatment is now largely in use in other countries.
– If the right honorable .gentleman had listened yesterday, he would have heard me refer not only to reports of 38 and 39 years ago-
– I referred to 1938 and 1939.
– That is so. Not only did I refer to 1938 and 1939, but I also referred to recent investigations in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Everything that has been done in connexion with the disease of poliomyelitis by Sister Kenny or anybody else in the world is under constant review by the Federal as well as the State health authorities. I desire to pay a tribute to the work that is being done by the State health departments and by Australian doctors in that regard. I resent the imputation contained in the right honorable gentleman’s question that we in Australia have been careless about dealing with poliomyelitis.
– In order to assist accountants and solicitors, particularly those in country areas where there is not ready access to the Taxation Branch, will the Treasurer instruct the taxation authorities to compile a list of names and addresses of people who are concerned with compiling taxation returns and see that they receive automatically any income tax legislation approved by the Parliament, together with the secondreading speech of the Minister concerned and explanatory notes?
– The Taxation Branch provides an information service for registered accountants and tax agents. I shall ascertain the degree to which that service can be extended, having regard to the factors that must be taken into consideration.
– My intention was to address my question to the VicePresident of the Executive Council, but as he just left the chamber as I got the call, after trying to get it for the last couple of days, I shall address it to the Treasurer. My question relates to the prestige of the Parliament. When the Government decided that the House should not sit yesterday morning in order to give to honorable members an opportunity to attend a ceremony of outstanding national importance in connexion with the Australian National University, did it ensure that honorable members would have a reasonable chance of gaining admittance to that ceremony? When I endeavoured to obtain admittance, I was told that only persons holding blue tickets would be admitted, and as I held a pink ticket I was refused admittance. Such treatment is an insult to members of this Parliament, which, after all, has made provision for the establishment of the university. In future, will the Government, when it arranges for the House to adjourn to a special hour in order to enable honorable members to attend a ceremony, ensure that they shall not be open to such insult as was offered to me? As I walked away from the hall in which the ceremony took place, I was informed that many chairs were still vacant, and, later, I discovered that other honorable members gained admittance by a side door. Is it proper that on such occasions members of the Parliament should be obliged to gain admittance to such ceremonies by a back door? Is that the sort of recognition that the Parliament expects to receive by a great national institution?
– I can sympathize with the point of view that the honorable member has expressed. At the same time, however, we must consider the other side of the matter. Honorable members will recall that originally the ceremony was arranged in the expectation that the weather would be fine. However, the weather was unfavorable, and it was impossible to accommodate the 1,400 persons who had been invited in a hall with a seating capacity for only 400.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether, in spite of some degree of unemployment, there has not been a general increase in output of factories, workshops and foundries and that production generally in this country is now at a higher level than at any time since the end of the recent war?
– There can be no doubt, on a fair analysis of the production figures available, that a notable increase of output of all essential requirements has taken place. Whatever other criticism may be offered by honorable mem bers opposite or by other persons of the Government’s economic and financial policies, at least it can be said that the Government has converted the Australian economy from the milk-bar economy of earlier days to a sound economy, and has placed it on a basis that will make possible the progressive development of our production resources.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is a fact, as the secretary of the New South Wales Hospitals Association has stated, that under a new formula that has been determined by the Health Department, patients in receipt of workers’ compensation will receive benefit in respect of only part of the time that they are in hospital? Do such patients who may be in hospital for eight days receive benefit in respect of only four days? Does this mean, as the secretary of the New South Wales Private Hospitals Association has claimed, that private hospitals will be unable to accept as patients persons who are in receipt of workers’ compensation ?
– I read the report that was published in this morning’s press dealing with the matter that the honorable member has raised. Private hospitals have been brought into line with the amendments that were made in 1948 by the Government which the honorable member supported, and also to conform to the regulations that were proclaimed in 1947 with respect to the treatment in public wards of persons in receipt of workers’ compensation. That, was done to meet a position that had risen owing to the fact that hospitals in New South Wales made a charge for treatment in public wards. I have made inquiries in order to ascertain the position of persons in receipt of workers’ compensation and have been advised that if a patient was in receipt of workers’ compensation amounting to, say, £10 10s. a week and the hospital charge amounted to £6 6s. a week, such a person would not be entitled to receive the full amount of the Government benefit. I am sure that the honorable member will agree with the view that was taken, not only by the Government that he supported, but also by the State governments, which originally recommended that such action be taken, that hospital benefit should not exceed the actual charge made by a hospital.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment : - r,oan (Housing) Fill 1052.
States Grants Bill 15)52. Audit Bill 1952.
– (Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) an intimation that he desires to submit a definite matter of urgent public importance to the House for discussion, namely: -
That the proceedings of the Loan Council meeting last week were detrimental to the interests ,of the Commonwealth and the States.
Is the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
.- This week the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) sought information-
– I rise to order. I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether the discussion of this proposal is in order in view of the fact that the proceedings of the Australian Loan Council were secret, and are not known to the public, and therefore, not known to honorable members.
– I desire to speak to the point of order. One of the purposes of the submission of the proposal is to enable the House to discuss the propriety of the very assertion that has been made by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bernard Corser). It is because the proceedings of the council, which affect the public interest, have been treated as secret, that the House and the public are concerned about them. The honorable member for Melbourne will cover that aspect of the matter in his speech. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the discussion of the proposal is in order.
-The position should be perfectly clear to honorable members. I would not read. to the House a letter of the kind sent to me by the honorable member for Melbourne unless I were satisfied that it is in order.
– The Australian Loan Council met in this chamber on Friday and Saturday of last week. There is no doubt about that, because the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) issued a statement at the conclusion of the meeting. Following the issue of the statement, on Tuesday last, the Leader of the Opposition addressed two questions to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) on this subject. The first question was -
Will the right honorable gentleman give the House some of the information which has already been given to the press with regard to the decisions of the Australian Loan Council.
The Treasurer replied -
I have nothing to add to the official statement about the Australian Loan Council that was released by the Prime Minister.
The Leader of the Opposition, concerned as he was about the effect of interest rates upon the economy of the country, then addressed this question to the Treasurer -
Does not the Treasurer consider the House of Representatives to be sufficiently important and responsible to be informed by him whether the Government of which he is a member favours a substantial increase of the rate of interest upon loans?
The Treasurer replied -
The procedure of the Australian Loan Council and the association of the House of Representatives with it have not been altered since the inception of the council. It will not be altered by this Government.
The right honorable gentleman is not always so secretive about the affairs of the Loan Council, because in Statement No. 5, which was printed as an appendix to his budget speech this year, he gave a digest of what had occurred at the meetings of the council in May and July, 1952. We want the Treasurer to give us another statement relating to the proceedings of the council at its meeting on Friday and Saturday of last week. Presumably, he does not intend to make such a statement until the budget is presented next year. This House is entitled to know just what happened last Friday and Saturday. The Treasurer has said that he has nothing to add to the Prime Minister’s statement. I should like to crave the indulgence of the House to read what the Prime Minister said so that honorable members may know just how little he did say -
As a result of the Loan Council discussions yesterday and to-day, the Commonwealth expects to approach the market on behalf of the States for a comparatively small loan in the latter part of November. Terms of issue will be decided later under normal Loan Council procedure.
Approval was given to several semigovernmental borrowing proposals submitted by the States. Approximate dates were approved in several instances. Since most or all of these proposals involve underwriting negotiations, no further details can at present be published. A very useful discussion took place between representatives of the States and the Commonwealth on the general problem of stabilizing the loan market and restoring it to a full state of health. In this endeavour the States undertook to co-operate fully.
I like the euphemistic style of the Prime Minister. I have to turn to the press to find out precisely what did happen. According to one newspaper, the Australian Government tried to press the State governments into agreeing to an increase of interest rates on government loans from 3$ per cent, to at least 4-j: per cent., and possibly to 4$ per cent. One press report stated -
To-day’s meeting was inconclusive, with long argument on whether the rate should bc increased. The New South Wales Premier, Mr. J. J. Cahill, and the Queensland Premier, Mr. V. C. N. Gair, declared that they were opposed to any increase.
This House is entitled to know who favoured the increase and who opposed it, but the Treasurer has evaded the question. When the Treasurer announced the calling of a meeting of the Loan Council in November, 1951, he was certainly more communicative than he has been in connexion with this loan meeting. On that occasion he said that there had been strong suggestions from a number of quarters that the Government should make available central bank credit to finance public works programmes. He added -
I wish to say publicly and freely that the Government looks on that as a short cut to disaster and refuses to countenance it in any circumstances.
That was last year before the Loan Council meeting. In his budget speech on the 6th August last, when he was referring to the raising of loans, the Treasurer showed a reversal of form. He stated -
We consider it justifiable in the light of the change in economic conditions as compared with a year ago and the emergence of some signs of unemployment that loan raisings for essential works of a truly developmental and productive kind should receive some special, assistance from bank credit.
The Government does not know where if” is on the rate of loan interest, the use of.” treasury-bills or on any other matter. It: has no policy, no programme and no real faith in the future of Australia. What this Government certainly does not realize is that there can be no economic stability in any nation unless its currency is sound. That is a fundamental fact, and it is the duty of any government that cares for the welfare of its people to make sure that the soundness of ite currency is not disturbed. A currency cannot be described as being sound when there is a lack of public confidence in its future as well as in its stability, such as is being exhibited throughout Australia to-day.
– What is the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) trying to do to help ?
– I am trying to get the facts, because I want to maintain the stability of the currency, and I am appalled at the things that are happening.
– The honorable member is reading his speech, but he was not prepared to discuss the matter a week ago.
– The Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) may deliver se speech on the subject, if he wants to.
-Order! The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr.. Calwell) should get on with his speech.
– That is precisely what I am doing. One leading financial authority in this country, Mr. Staniforth Ricketson, of J. B. Were and Son, stock-brokers, of Melbourne, at a company meeting on the 25th August last, nineteen days after the Treasurer had brought down the budget, stated -
Lack of confidence and uncertainties as to the future trend of economic affairs have been the basic elements in the difficulties experienced in obtaining full subscriptions to Commonwealth and public body loans during the past twelve months. The great task now is to reestablish public’ confidence.
The Prime Minister himself was equally aware of that fact, because when he addressed the Sydney Chamber of Manufacturers on the18th September last, he stated -
Far too few of our own people are willing to entrust their Government the capital needed to provide that magnificent foundation on which a future Australia and a future prosperity are to bebuilt.
The corollary to that truth, which the Prime Minister admits, is that there must be something seriously wrong with a government when the people will not lend their money to it. The Treasurer, in a more expansive moment, when delivering the budget speech, stated -
The development of adverse conditions in the loan market, due principally to the inflationary forces operatingin the economy, has made it impossible for governments to borrow at the comparatively low rates of interest which prevailed during the war and post-war years
The Treasurer is trying to avoid telling the Parliament what happened at the meeting of the Australian Loan Council; ultimately he will tell it, in an appendix to a budget speech. But the crisis is on now, and we want to know what the Government is doing to meet it. The Government’s second task to-day, in addition to putting value back into the £1, is to put confidence back into the loan market. In other words, its principal duty is to encourage the people who own the £900,000,000 of deposits in the savings banks of Australia to invest in future government loans. The million or so people who own those deposits will not invest their money in government loans while there is uncertainty of the interest rates that will be paid on government securities in the immediate future, and, indeed, during probably the next five years.
– The people do not trust the present Government.
– It may be that that is the position. The little people of Australia cannot be blamed for not investing in government securities when they do not know what will be the value of. their investment twelve months hence. Instead of resolving the doubts of the people on what might happen, this Government is only increasing them. Its known desire for an increase of the interest rate is having a bad effect on the market value of all previous loans. The resentment that is felt by investors in recent loans is communicating itself to prospective investors in future loans. We are reaching the stage when even the small loan that the Government proposes to float in the immediate future in order to test the market might be under-subscribed.
Action taken to lift the stock-market quotations of loans floated within the last few years will do much to ensure the success of future loan raisings, but, while the Government continues to dither it will continue to fail. A suggestion has been made that bonds in future loans may be accepted in payment of taxation and probate duties. Something must be done–
– Order ! The honorable member is getting wide of the mark.
– I have referred to the state of the loan market, and I am endeavouring to demonstrate a way in which the Government may lift the value of investments in previous loans. I submit that that is quite germane to the argument. What the people of Australia want - and I do not suppose the Treasurer will disagree with me on this matter - is a settled policy on loan raisings at low interest rates, and firm decisions that will restore the loan market to the position it occupied during the eight years that Mr. Chifley was the Treasurer of Australia. Every loan, whether it was a Liberty Loan, a Victory Loan or a Security Loan, floated in those eight years was a success. The total loan raisings amounted to about £1,500,000,000. We did not pay more than per cent., and generally we paid only 3 per cent, on the loans that were floated in that period.
Until about the middle of 1951, the loan market was fairly satisfactory, but it has become very disturbed in recent times. We have the feeling that this Government is deliberately trying to lift the interest rate. We think it is trying to raise the rate even to 4^ per cent. No more dangerous decision could possibly be made. Such a high rate of interest would have disastrous effects upon the happiness and well-being of the Australian people, and could retard the development of the nation. The development of’ this nation is very necessary. In our view, it is an axiomatic truth that we cannot have full employment unless money is cheap. If money is dear, we shall have deflation and, through deflation, we shall have unemployment. The Leader of the Opposition made that point in the course of his budget speech. In our view, money raised at 4J per cent., 4^ per cent, or 4f per cent, is dear money. The only conclusion at which anybody can arrive is that the Government, by making money dear, hopes to inaugurate a policy of deflation which, in turn, will destroy full employment. A government that wants high interest rates does not believe in full employment. A high interest rate can have other baneful effects upon the community. It can stop development by retarding the establishment of companies engaged in new enterprises in connexion with essential works. It can also cause hardships-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) put -
That the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) be granted an extension of time.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. ARCHIE Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The appalling speech which the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has just made leaves me with really nothing to which to reply. Indeed, having regard to the subject that he discussed, his speech could not have been other than it was. The suggestion that the proceedings of the Australian Loan Council last week were detrimental to the interests of the Commonwealth and the States carries with it the supposition that those proceedings, which were held in camera as they have been held ever since the inception of the council, were made known to the honorable member. There is also the implication that the States acted in conjunction with the Commonwealth to the detriment of the interests of all parties concerned. I suggest that the appalling ignorance of the honorable member concerning this matter is more apparent than real. It should be remembered that he has been associated with a government which supported the Australian Loan Council, and that before he became a member of Parliament, he held an important position in the Department of the Treasury in Victoria. Consequently, I suggest that he knows why the Australian Loan Council was established and is aware also of the rules and regulations which have governed and guided its operations ever since its inception.
In order that there shall be no ambiguity about this matter and to refute the claim that this Government has acted differently from its predecessors as a member of the Australian Loan Council, I propose to read to the House a report which has been made to me by the secretary of the council. It is as follows : -
In regard to your inquiry concerning the practice of making public matters connected with the Australian Loan Council, I am able to say that during my association with the1 Lean Council its proceedings have been held in ‘camera, and minutes of meetings and other “documents have been regarded as confidential. …. general practice in respect of decisions of the Loan Council is that public statements are made by the chairman only when he is authorized to do so by the Loan Council itself. I have been Secretary of the Loan Council ever since August, 1940 and was assistant to the previous Secretary for ten years prior to that.
By virtue of his service as assistant secretary and as secretary, that gentleman has had sixteen years’ experience of the proceedings of the council.
– Who is he ?
– Mr. Thomas.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask that the document from which the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has read be laid on the table.
– Certainly I shall lay it on the table.
– It is shocking that such a document should be made public.
– Where could I obtain such information if not from the officer who is secretary of the council ? Before the Australian Loan Council was constituted under the provisions of the financial agreement and commenced to function in 1929, there had been in existence, from 1924, a voluntary loan council comprised of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth and the Treasurers of the States. According to the records, the meetings of that voluntary council were held in camera, announcements of its decisions being made by the chairman on the authority of the council. That is the procedure followed by the present body, which apparently adopted it from its predecessor without considering it necessary to record the fact. The Australian Loan Council, as the honorable member for Melbourne well knows, is part and parcel of the Constitution. It is governed and guided by a charter that was written into the Constitution by virtue of a financial agreement entered, into between the ‘Commonwealth and the States. Under that charter the affairs of the council may be controlled by the six States, each of which has a vote. The Commonwealth has two votes and, in certain circumstances, a casting vote. I am bound, therefore, in all decency, to respect the confidential nature of the proceedings of the council just as the States are bound to treat their association with it as confidential so far as their respective parliaments are concerned. Consequently, there is nothing to answer in connexion with the claim that the proceedings of the council last week were detrimental to the interests of the Commonwealth and the States.
– Of course they were!
– In the first place the proceedings cannot possibly be known, or should not be known, and they are certainly not accurately known. The honorable member’s attack, therefore, i3 merely an effort to extract from me, in answers to the mis-statements that have been made, information that might be politically useful to the Opposition. That attempt will not succeed. I did not come down in the last shower, and I shall respect my responsibility as chairman of the Australian Loan Council on behalf of the Commonwealth, and I expect the States to do the same and to co-operate in the best interests of the national economy. It is timely to remind the House of the Government’s record in the last financial year in connexion with the problem of enabling the States to have loan funds which would otherwise have been denied to them. Last financial year the Government took the unprecedented course of assisting the States, quite distinct from any association with the Australian Loan Council, by underwriting the State loan programmes to such a degree that it involved itself in an obligation that added £153,000,000 to the budget. In other words, all the revenue obtained from the extra taxes that the Government reluctantly imposed was used solely to finance State purposes.
– J rise to order. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is obviously out of order. All that the motion concerns is a recent meeting of the Australian Loan Council, but the Treasurer is citing the actions of the council over several years. They have nothing to do with the motion.
-The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was granted considerable latitude, and I shall, accord the same latitude to the’ Treasurer.
– I repeat that the Government, as is shown by its taxation policy, which undoubtedly made it unpopular with many people, although not in the minds of decent people, recognized that it was necessary to take a courageous stand in the interests of the States and the national economy generally, and it passed on to the States the whole of the revenue, amounting to £153,000,000, that resulted from increases of taxes, and thereby enabled the States to carry out their necessary works programmes. Had the Commonwealth nol done so, a chaotic condition would have arisen.
Mr. Rosevear interjecting,
– I shall not have that comment made, because the honor- able member for Melbourne was given great latitude and dealt with quite a number of matters in his speech. I am afraid that that is a matter which each honorable member who’ addresses the House will have to decide for himself.
– The Government made revenue of £153,000,000, which resulted from tax increases, available to the States and underwrote-
– It lent the money to the States.
– Of course it did. We have a responsibility to the people generally not to give the taxpayers’ money away to the States or anybody else. In the current financial year the Government has taken an unprecedented course of action in order to assist the State loan programmes, and will contribute to loan raisings an amount of up to £135,000,000. It is high time that the Opposition recognized what this Government has done for the States, and ceased its carping .criticism about loan funds and their utilization. As the Opposition has not made out a case, there is no case to answer and I have nothing further to add to my remarks.
– What about interest rates ?
– The honorable gentleman made a misstatement when he said that war loans were floated at 3£ per cent.
– He did not say that?
– He did say it. War loans were raised at 3J per cent., which was the rate fixed in 1940 by the Menzies Government.
– We reduced the rate to 3£ per cent.
– Yes, but how? By restrictions, controls and pegging of wages and by diverting into socialistic ventures money that otherwise would have been available for investment,
. - Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the business of the day be called on.
Mr. Pollard interjecting,
-Order ! I point out to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that he is quite out of order. He must show some respect for his friends, like the late Corporal Hitler and the late Signor Mussolini. I did not hear the motion, although I believe I know what it is.
– I moved “ That the business of the day be called on “.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. McBride through Mr. Eric J. Harrison) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Defence Act 1903-1951, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– Ivy leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purposes of this bill are, first, to make provision for the issue after the 31st December; 1952, of war death certificates and, secondly, to give continued effectiveness to war death certificates that have already been issued under the existing law. Honorable members will recall that, during the recent world war, it was found necessary to make some administrative provision for the issue of certificates of death of persons who died in circumstances arising out of war which made direct proof of death difficult. Regulations were accordingly made, first the National Security (Supplementary) Regulations and subsequently the National Security (War Deaths) Regulations, which had the effect of obviating the necessity of lengthy and expensive proof of presumption of death before a court.
The regulations provide that where a competent authority is satisfied that the death of a person occurred whilst on war service or in the hands of the enemy or in other circumstances attributable to war which rendered proof of death difficult, he may issue a certificate to the effect that the person specified in the certificate died or became missing on the date mentioned in the certificate. The regulations make the certificate prima facie evidence in all courts that the person named in the certificate died or became missing on the date mentioned. The Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act continues in force until the 31st December, 1952, the provisions of the National Security (War Deaths) Regulations. These regulations, as they stand to-day, provide for the certification of the death of persons engaged on war service, of civilians in New Guinea and Papua and of other civilians who died while in the hands of the enemy or in other circumstances arising out of war which render proof of death difficult.
Although power exists under the Defence Act, through amendments made in 1949, to permit the issue of certificates of death in respect of members of the Defence Force who die while on service, no legislative provision will exist after the 31st December, 1952, to permit the certification of death of civilians who die or who have died as a result of enemy action. Certificates of death in respect of civilians as well as members of the Defence Force who died or who became missing during the 1939-45 war are still required from time to time and it is desirable, therefore, that there should be legislation after the 31st December, 1952, which will permit the issue of certificates of death in respect of civilians who may have died, or became missing, not only during the 1939-45 war, but also during any period in the future when this country might be engaged in war-like operations, as it is at present in Korea. This bill gives effect to this need.
Provision is also required to give continued force and effect after the 31st December, 1952, to certificates issued under the regulations to which I have referred. Clause 3 of the bill enables this object to be achieved. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill he now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to make certain amendments to the Customs Act which are considered essential in order to remove doubts as to the validity of certain regulations and administrative procedures and to bring the act into line with present day commercial developments. The bill will also simplify procedures in the interests of those transacting business with the Department of Trade and Customs. In section 4 and in other sections of the act, references occur in relation to aerodromes appointed for the purposes of the act. The term “airport “ is now used internationally and it is therefore considered desirable that the word “ airport “ should be substituted for “ aerodrome “ in section 4 and in other relevant sections.
Division 1 of Part IV. of the act provides that the specific goods enumerated in the division and all goods, the importation of which is prohibited by regulation, are prohibited imports. In addition certain sections of division 1 are either redundant or are similar in effect to other sections of this act and of the Copyright Act 1912- 1950. It is therefore considered desirable to repeal and re-enact the whole of the division and the effect will be that goods which are prohibited imports will be prescribed in the regulations. It has been found necessary in certain circum stances to issue import licences subject to certain conditions to be fulfilled after importation, for example, that the goods will not be sold within a specified time. Experience has shown that when import licences have been issued subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions after importation and such conditions have not been met by the importer the Department of Trade and Customs has no power to enforce the conditions nor has it any right of action against the goods or the importer. It is proposed therefore to amend the act to provide the necessary powers to issue import licences subject to certain conditions to be fulfilled after importation and to enable the taking of securities to ensure that the conditions upon which importation has been allowed will be complied with.
Under section 97, warehoused goods may be removed from the warehouse for the purpose of public exhibition as prescribed by regulation. It has been found impracticable to deal with such matters expeditiously by regulation. Amendment of the section will enable collectors of customs to approve the quantities and specify the periods which the owner may retain the goods outside the warehouse without entering the goods for home consumption.
Section 132 provides that all import duties shall be paid at the rate in force when the goods are entered for home consumption. As it is not practicable to apply that section to stores in ships and aircraft owing to the fact that they are consumed before they can be entered for home consumption, it is proposed to add a new section in Part VII. to provide for the acceptance of duty at the rates in force on thedate the declaration of stores consumed is signed. As Part VII. is considered unsatisfactory from a drafting point of view this amendment provides an opportunity to repeal and remake the part. The provisions of the proposed Part VII. will not alter any of the existing practices relating to the control of such stores.
The amendment of section 162 will enable security in lieu of a deposit of duty to be given to the customs authorities that goods imported into Australia will be reexported within a period of twelve months. [Quorum formed.] It is proposed also that the period during which the goods may remain in Australia may be extended at the discretion of the Minister. The insistence upon a deposit of duty and the inability to extend the period beyond twelve months have proved unduly onerous to importers in certain circumstances.
A new section 234a has been included in the bill whereby unauthorized persons may be refused entry to any ship, aircraft, wharf or place where passengers are being cleared through the customs until such time as the necessary customs formalities have been completed. Experience has shown that the presence of unauthorized persons hinders the speedy clearance through the customs of passengers and their baggage and is an obvious aid to smuggling. In this connexion it has been found imperative particularly with immigrant ships to control the many visitors who come to the wharfs to meet their friends.
The Customs Tariff authorizes the Minister to make by-laws under which, goods are admitted at concessional rates f duty. Numerous applications for entry of goods under by-law are received, necessitating in many instances, inquiries in Australia and the United Kingdom to determine whether the goods are entitled to the benefits of by-law admission. It is frequently the. case that, before a by-law is gazetted, the goods have arrived and are entered at the normal rates of duty. A subsequent refund of the difference between the duty paid under the normal tariff item and that due under the by-law enables the importer to obtain the full benefit of the tariff concession. As there is doubt as to the authority in section 163 to pay such refunds it is proposed to amend the section to authorize these payments.
In isolated cases, the situation also arises that a by-law item under which the goods would have been eligible for entry has been repealed before the by-law could be gazetted. The inability of the Minister to make by-laws in such circumstances imposes severe hardship on importers and it is therefore proposed to insert a new section 271 which will provide, inter aiia. that a by-law may be made in respect of any item of the Customs Tariff in vela. tion to any goods entered for home consumption during the continuance of that item, notwithstanding that the item, has been repealed prior to the making of the by-law.
The remaining amendments are of minor importance and are designed to simplify certain customs procedure in the interests of those transacting business with the Department of Trade and Customs and also to authorize various practices which have been operating satisfactorily in the past. These are - (a.) Section 43: To enable negotiable instruments to be accepted as security in lieu of cash.
– I direct attention to the state of the House.
-Order! A quorum was formed a few moments ago, and I will not order that the bells be rung now. I direct the attention of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) to the desert air on the Opposition side.
– I rise to order. Am I to understand, Mr. Speaker, that the House can continue to transact business after attention has been directed to the fact that a quorum is not present?
– That is my opinion.
– If you rule to that effect, I shall move that your ruling be dissented from.
– Order ! I have not given a ruling. A quorum was present a few moments ago, and I will not order that the bells to be rung again.
– I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether you are justified in directing attention to the absence of certain honorable members from either the Government or the Opposition side of the chamber.
– Order! If the honorable member is seeking to enter into a conflict with the Chair, that is an easy matter.
– Will you always adopt that policy, Mr. Speaker?
– Order ! I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council to proceed with his speech.
– The other amendments to which I was referring are as follows : -
The necessity for the proposed amendments will, I am sure, be readily appreciated by honorable members, and T commend the bill to them.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s requests) :
Clause 3 - (1.) The time of the imposition of the duties of Customs (not being duties of Customs the time of the imposition of which is fixed by the next succeeding sub-section) imposed by this Act is the twenty-sixth day of September, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-two, at nine o’clock in the forenoon reckoned according to standard time in the Australian
Capital Territory, and this Act shall be deemed to have come into operation at that time. (2.) The time of the imposition of the duties of Customs imposed by this Act and set out in the column headed “ Intermediate Tariff “ in the Schedule to this Act, upon any goods which are specified in, and are the produce or manufacture of any British or foreign country specified in, a Proclamation issued on or after the twenty-fifth day of September, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-two, and prior to the date on which this Act receives the Royal Assent, applying or varying the application of the rates of duty so set out to those goods, is the timeand date specified in that Proclamation.
Senate’s Request No. 1. - In sub-clause (1.) leave out “ the next succeeding sub-section “, insert “either of the next two succeeding subsections “.
Senate’s Request No. 2. - After sub-clause (1.) insert the following sub-clause: - “ (1a.) The time of the imposition of the duties of Customs imposed by this Act in respect of which a date later than the twentysixth day of September, One thousand nine hundred and fifty-two, is specified in the Schedule to this Act is the later date so specified, at nine o’clock in the forenoon, reckoned according to standard time in the Australian Capita] Territory.
Division VI. - Metals and Machinery.
Item 219 -
By inserting a new sub-item (c) as follows: -
(c) Carpenters’ planes, wholly or principally of metal, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 71/2 per cent.; general, 121/2 per cent.”
Senate’s Request No. 3. - After proposed sub-paragraph (c) of paragraph (2.) of subitem (C) of item 219. insert “ and on and after 24th October, 1952 (c) Carpenters’ planes, wholly or principally of metal, ad val., British, 171/2 per cent.; intermediate, 25 per cent.; general, 30 per cent.”.
.- I move-
That the requested amendments be made.
As the requests now before the committee are directly related to each other, I propose to deal with them as a whole. The principal amendment is contained in request No. 3. The other two requests cover what may be termed formal machinery amendments, which willbe necessary if the requested amendment to the schedule to the bill, that is request No. 3, be made. The Customs Tariff Bill 1952, to which the requests relate, was considered by this committee a short time ago. The duties imposed under that bill on carpenters’ planes wholly or principally of metal, classifiable under item 219(c)(2)(c), are, British preferential tariff, free ; intermediate tariff, 7^ per cent.; and general tariff, 12£ per cent. Since the bill was prepared, a report by the Tariff Board in respect of those items has been considered by the Government. The board recommended that a British preferential tariff of 17£ per cent, be imposed in order to protect the Australian metal plane industry. The Government decided to adopt the board’s recommendation, and, as the measure containing the particular item concerned was then before the Parliament, the opportunity was taken to request that the duties be varied forthwith so that there would be no delay in according protection to local manufacturers. As it would not be practicable to impose the new duties prior to the date on which the request for the amendment was made, it is necessary to make provision both in the schedule and in the clauses of the bill for the imposition of the duties on and from the date specified in the requested amendment. I commend the requests to honorable members, and I suggest to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that as the proposal is to give added protection to an Australian industry, he might be prepared to permit the requested amendments to be made forthwith.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
Debate resumed from the 22nd October (vide page 3708), on motion by Mr. Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Dr. Evatt had moved, by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words - “the bill be withdrawn pending a full inquiry into the detailed proposals for filtering the provisions of the Navigation Act “.
– I rise to support this bill. ] have followed the course of the debate with some despondency because I have heard members of the Opposition whom I know to be sincere and honest opponents of communism, taking a line which, although perhaps against their own inclinations, nevertheless gives aid and comfort to the Communists. When honorable members such as the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey), the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke), whom I believe in my heart to be not favorably disposed to Communists, feel constrained merely because they happen to be members of the Labour party, to get up in this House and say things which help the Communist cause, it is reason for the very greatest despondency. It suggests that there is in the Labour party, a Communist infection which is so deep seated that it perverts the reasoning and actions even of those individual members whom I believe to be personally opposed to the Communist cause. In the course of my remarks I hope to amplify what I have, said on that subject. I propose first to recapitulate the four main purposes of the bill, some of which may have passed from the general attention of the House in the welter of debate. First, the bill permits a ship in certain circumstances to put to sea with only four-fifths of it3 normal complement. Therefore, a vessel will not be delayed by the absence of one or two men. Secondly, the bill abolishes the Maritime Industry Commission, and arranges for its functions to be carried out in another and more normal way. Thirdly, the bill adopts, in general, the principles of discipline that have been approved by the Maritime Industry Commission, and gives to the seamen a new right of appeal. Fourthly, the bill deals with the matter of accommodation for crews on ships. I shall not touch upon all those matters. However, I do intend to follow the nerve of the arguments that have emerged in the course of this debate from both side of the House. Both sides have freely admitted that one of the most important factors in the shipping industry to-day is the influence of the Communists inside it. That is not a mere matter of chance. Anybody who has read the edicts issued by the Cominform, knows something of the general line of propaganda that emanates from Moscow; or if he looks at the cartoons and pictures that pour forth from Soviet sources, he will agree that it is a very great part of Stalin’s war plan to try to paralyse transport in the democratic countries. There is a special Communist drive to take charge of transport unions, and particularly to impede shipping so that, in the event of war, adequate sea transport would not be immediately available to the enemies of the Soviet, and indeed so that even before war occurs, the arming of the democracies against Soviet aggression may be hampered. Coming to Australia, we find that view echoed in the official publications of the Communist party. I shall read from the Communist Review of July, 1952. An article written by Mr. E. F. Hill, who, as honorable members know, is connected with the Communist party in Victoria. He wrote -
These strike struggles, giving the initiative far more to the mass of the workers, are, of <.ou ist’.. an aspect of the struggle in defence of peace.
Therefore, according to Mr. Hill, it is an aspect of the Communist struggle to help the Soviet Union. The article continued -
We should not pose the question of peace cm one side and economic struggles on the other, lt appears to me the picture is that in nil manner of ways, including this most important front of wage struggle, the peace struggle is unfolding. Obviously we aim to raise each aspect to the highest possible understanding, to the highest possible level and. of course, proceeding beyond the peace struggle into a consciousness of the struggle for revolutionary power. . . . (We should) . . develop these tactics to the level, for instance, that they have been developed in Italy and France, extremely high levels.
That is the link between the general Communist line in Moscow and the Australian Communist party. I shall now trace the link between the Communist party and the Seamen’s Union of Australasia. T have before me a document which will surprise and appal the country, even though it may not surprise and appal honorable members opposite. I shall read from the Seamen’s Journal, which is described as the official organ of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia. This copy is dated March, 1952, and it contains an official report of Mr. Elliott’s speech at a meeting of the World Federation of Trade Unions. Mr. Elliott is a member of the Maritime Industry Commission, which is referred to in this bill. He is also a leading member of the Communist party, and has long been engaged in treasonable and traitorous activities. Among those activities was his recent visit to a meeting of the World Federation of Trade Unions, a Communist stooge organization which held a conference in Berlin. He appeared before that conference, which was convened and controlled by our enemies, and made certain statements. I hope that honorable members will realize the import of bis exact words, which I shall read from this official journal of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia. He is reported to have said -
The Australian Government in its preparations for war and at the behest of the United States imperialists has consistently during the last three years waged bitter attacks on the democratic liberties of the people.
At the outbreak of the war in Korea, seamen stopped work in all Australian ports, held meetings and decided not, to take ships with troops or war supplies from Australia.
The newspaper Tribune published the decisions of the seamen’s meetings and the Government charged the editor with sedition and he was jailed for nine months.
No Australian ship has taken troops or supplies from Australia to Korea, and the Government has been compelled to use Air Force planes for this purpose.
The motion of support from the 1950 Budapest meeting of the Executive Committee and the TUT of the WFTU to the Australian Trade Union movement was a link in the bonds of international solidarity.
That is a completely shameless boast as reported in a Communist official document published by Mr. Elliott’s own union - a boast made in Berlin at a meeting convened and controlled by our enemies. Mr. Elliott boasted that he had carried out the instructions that he had received from Budapest to the effect that no Australian ship should carry supplies to our troops in Korea. Inquiries that I have made lead me to believe that he has indeed been able to carry out that boast. 1 believe that to date it has been as he has said. Our men have not been given the backing of Australian ships, and I believe that it is true that their supplies have been reduced and impeded by the Communists in the Seamen’s Union of Australasia in exactly the same way as Mr. Elliott boasted they would be reduced and impeded. If that is not treason - and it may not be technically treason under our laws - it is high time that the law was amended to make it treason. I can imagine no statement that could be more treasonable or more dastardly in intention. Our soldiers are fighting and dying in Korea, but this man says, “ I shall see that they are isolated. I shall see that supplies do not reach them. I shall see that more of them are killed by the Communist aggressors, who are my friends, because I am on the side of the Communists “. I invite the attention of the House to ;the meaning of Mr. Elliott’s statement, and I invite the House to consider what action should be taken about it. One thing that can be done is to remove the man Elliott from his position in the Maritime Industry Commission, and 1 am gratified to note that this bill at least will do that. I wonder whether it will do enough, and I wonder whether the actions of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia do not raise issues that lie outside the ambit of this bill.
The honorable member for Port Adelaide, whom I may say once again 1 do not believe to have Communist inclinations, said some misleading things yesterday which must have helped the Communists. He asked why we should condemn people who have perhaps ten anti-Communists on the executive of their union and perhaps only one Communist. The truth of the matter is that the Seamen’s Union of Australasia is controlled by Communists, and of that I could offer no greater proof than that contained in the journal of the union itself. I invite honorable members to study copies of this journal; they are all in the Parliamentary Library. If honorable members do so, they will find that there is no occasion on which that journal deviates from the Communist party line. There are plenty of occasions on which it abuses Great Britain, the United States of America and Australia and their allies, but there is not one single occasion on which it takes the British or the Aus- tralian side against the Russian. This journal of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia is a Communist propaganda organ. The Seamen’s Union of Australasia has not just one Communist, Mr. Elliott, among a lot of non-Communists on its controlling body. That union is Communistcontrolled, and although I know that not all the seamen are Communists, and that among the rank and file there is an overwhelming majority of decent men, nevertheless while they allow themselves to be bossed about and controlled by this gang of Communists they are in danger of forfeiting the name of decent Australians. Can honorable members imagine that there are people who would allow their union and their actions to be controlled by men like Mr. Elliott, who says, “ It is our business to cut off and isolate the Australian troops in Korea and ensure that they shall be killed “ ? But again I remind honorable members that that is what has happened. Therefore, the honorable member for Port Adelaide misled the House, perhaps in innocence and ignorance, but, nevertheless, in the interests of the Communists. Much of the material that this journal publishes suggests that it is opposed to arbitration ‘ and to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Its July issue contained an article that was headed, “ Faith in Court a Fallacy “, and its October issue an article headed, “ Seamen Fight the Court “. There can be no doubt about the nature of the editorial policy of that journal.
There is a sinister trinity in the maritime industry - Ernie Thornton, who has gone to China and is doing the enemy’s work in that country, and Mr. Healy, of the Waterside Workers Federation, and Mr. Elliott, of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, who are doing the enemy’s work in Australia. Such a position is intolerable. This measure will do two things that will help to diminish the influence of the Communists in the maritime industry. First, it will dissolve the Maritime Industry Commission and transfer its powers to proper arbitral hands. As I have already pointed out, Mr. Elliott, this enemy of Australia, has been for a long time and still is a member of the commission, on which he represents his union whose members, to their shame, appointed him to that position. It may be that he does not exercise authority as a member of the commission, but it is obvious that as this enemy is a member of the commission it can neither enjoy the confidence nor command the respect of the community. Without knowing anything about what Mr. Elliott is doing in this matter, the fact remains that no Communist can be relied upon to keep his word. Every Communist will betray any information that comes into his possession in the course of his duty as a member of such a body. Indeed, a devout Communist would confess that he was obliged to behave in such a manner. Consequently,’ whilst the commission is constituted as it is at present and while the Seamen’s Union of Australasia elects Mr. Elliott as its representative on that body, the Communists and agents of the Kremlin in Australia are made aware of everything that occurs before the commission, and are thus well placed to make good their boast that no Australian ship shall be used to help our forces in Korea or in any operation that is opposed to the plans and designs of Soviet Russia. That objective is of some consequence at present in view of the thrust that the Communists are making into French possessions in SouthEast Asia, a thrust that may come near to Australia sooner than honorable members may believe. In view of the delays that are being caused to shipping and also of the fact that the Maritime Industry Commission has a traitor inside its doors, we cannot afford to allow that body to continue to exist.
The bill also provides that, in certain circumstances, a ship may put to sea with only four-fifths of its complement. Honorable members may not realize the degree to which the Communists have been able to use the device of deploying a few members of a ship’s crew in order to prevent it from sailing. That is a device that is. particularly suited to minority control. Let us accept the dictum of honorable members opposite that only a fraction of the members of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia are Communists. I believe that that is the truth; but so long as the law provides that a ship may not sail without a full complement, the Communist minority in the union will have the power to dictate to the loyal majority.
Do honorable members opposite suggest that in the future we should continue to play into the hands of the Communists as we have done in the past? I thought that it was unworthy of honorable members opposite to try to buttress the Communist cause by raising silly bogies about the safety of passengers. The honorable member for Fawkner offended in that respect. I have no doubt that he did not understand the full implication of what he said. The argument he advanced was perhaps put into his mind by some underground means; but the House should realize the way in which, inside the Australian Labour party, the Communist infection is able to seep even into nonCommunist minds.
During the last 24 months, on the Australian coast, 361 ships have been delayed and 4,237 ships-days lost by tactics of this character, and even during the last three months 32 vessels have been delayed. I have a list of those hold-ups with notes explaining the reasons for them, but I shall not weary the House by reading it. I shall not even ask for leave to incorporate it in Hansard , but I shall make it available to any honorable member who wishes to peruse it.
– Who compiled it?
– It was compiled by officers of the department from official records. However, I shall inform honorable members of the circumstances of the dispute that occured on Dubbo. On the 25th March last, owing to a crew dispute that was originated by the firemen, that vessel was tied up at Port Adelaide with a full cargo of wheat that was urgently needed in Tasmania. The vessel was delayed by 33 days and the operating loss to the Australian Shipping Board for the voyage was £22,640. The firemen alleged that the bunker coal supplied to the vessel was of inferior quality. The Australian Shipping Board had samples of the coal analysed. After the dispute was brought before the conciliation commissioner and it was shown that the coal was of somewhat better than average quality and that, in fact, the same coal had been taken by two other ships, one before and one after Dubbo, and the crews of those ships had made no demur, the men shifted their ground and alleged that the boilers and machinery were in an unsatisfactory condition. The matter was considered by the conciliation commissioner who, after a long, patient hearing, determined that the coal was of reasonable quality. The ship was taken to sea with the union secretary on board for the purpose of observing whether its engines were in a satisfactory condition. Of course, the engines were shown to be in a satisfactory condition, and it was made clear that no ground whatever had existed for the union’s complaint. In similar circumstances one complaint after another can easily be trumped up. They need not have any substance. Any one can invent a complaint and allege that the safety of the crew is involved ; and in present circumstances nothing can be done to stop such practices because a small minority is always in control in the union. T do not pretend that the bill will entirely remedy that position but it will alleviate it, and in so far as it will achieve that objective it should commend itself to all honorable members who favour majority control and genuinely oppose minority control by the Communists in the unions.
Finally, I desire to make a most important point that arises out of the remarks of the honorable member for Bendigo who said, in effect, “Yes, lint these things are done by the union. If the union does them, the men must follow “. I ask the House to consider the import of the principle enunciated by that honorable member. He said, in effect, “ You must not punish the men because it is the union which is doing this, and the union’s word must be followed “. If that is so, and if the Seamen’s Union is controlled by the Communists, as in point of fact it is, what the honorable member virtually says is that the Communists must control Australian shipping; that the minority, which is able to hold up a ship, should be given power to dictate to the majority; and whether he means it or not, he plays into the hands of the Communists. I invite the House to consider whether this inviolability of trade unions - the belief that a union is always right and that everything it does is sacrosanct - is compatible with the maintenance of our arbitration system. That feature of trade unionism is assisting the Communist party because it provides that party with a handle with which it controls the trade unions. I know that persons who hold this belief are not always Communists; but unfortunately they give to the Communists power to control trade unions and, through the trade unions, not only the economy of Australia but also the exercise of its defence powers. I refer the House to the boast that Mr. Elliott has been able to make good, that by the use of his industrial power, exercised on the instructions of the Budapest conference, he has been able to prevent Australian ships from carrying supplies to our men in Korea. What shall we say of the remarks of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), a man who I believe is sincerely antiCommunist ? The honorable member has asked why the Government has not the courage to do more than it is doing. I agree that that is a fair question. I believe that the Government should be doing and should have done more, but the Government would require less courage and would have less difficulty in doing more, if it had the support of honorable members opposite in its actions against the Communists. It is difficult to act against the Communists because, when any measure that impinges on Communist control is introduced, whether in this House or elsewhere, it is too often opposed by Opposition members and their supporters. They may offer a variety of reasons for their opposition. They may pretend that their industrial or socialist objections go to the very root of the matter; but whatever the reasons may be, the fact remains that honorable members opposite act as a protective screen around the Communist party.
– I rise to order. I ask for a withdrawal of the statement by the honorable member, which is most obnoxious and insulting to me.
– I made it clear that I did not impute unworthy motives to honorable members opposite. I believe that most of them do not know what they are doing.
– Order! As the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith regards the statement as offensive, I ask that it be withdrawn.
– Out of deference to you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I shall withdraw it.
– The honorable member must do so, but not in deference to me. He must make an unqualified withdrawal.
– I am afraid that it is a true statement.
– I ask the honorable member to withdraw it.
– Which statement am I asked to withdraw ?
– The statement to which the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Gordon Anderson) has objected.
– Will the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith repeat the statement which he regards as offensive ?
– It was the statement that Opposition members act as a protective screen around the Communist party.
– Very well; I shall say that I believe that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith is not intentionally acting as a screen for the Communist party. In accordance with the Standing Orders, I am entitled to say–
– Order! Has the honorable member withdrawn the statement to which exception has been taken?
-No. That statement cannot be withdrawn any further. I have already intimated that I was prepared to withdraw it “ in deference to the Chair “.
– Put him out!
– I am not imputing unworthy motives to the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. Far bc it from me to do so ; but I say that his actions, even if he does not intend them to do so, are aiding the Communist party. It is not in accordance with the Standing Orders to ask for a withdrawal of a statement of that kind.
– I rise to order. We do not know whether the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is speaking to the point of order or whether he is continuing his speech. He has said that Opposition members act as a protective screen around the Communist party. That statement is as personally offensive to me as it is to the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. I ask for an unqualified withdrawal and apology in accordance with the Standing Orders.
– Has the honorable member foi Mackellar withdrawn the statement?
– Then in accordance with Standing Order 303, 1 ask the honorable member to leave the chamber.
– I object to the ruling which is based on a bad precedent.
– There has been no ruling. I have asked the honorable member to leave the chamber.
– That is his right place! That is where he should be !
The honorable member for Mackellar thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
– I rise to a further point of order. The honorable member for Mackellar, having refused to withdraw the statement to which exception was taken, is it not a customary penalty for the Chairman to name him?
– Order ! I am satisfied that the penalty imposed upon the honorable member for Mackellar is sufficient.
.- I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) requesting that the bill be withdrawn pending full inquiry into this proposal to alter the provisions of the Navigation Act. I do not claim to know all about the shipping industry, nor do I profess to know as much about the Communist party as does the honorable member for Mackellar, who seems to be so well informed about it that we do not know hen close he is to it. But I do profess to know something about arbitration procedure and the value of round table conferences as a means of ironing out matters in dispute before they go to a judge or to a conciliation commissioner. Prior to my election to this Parliament, I was a member of nine wages boards in South Australia established under the industrial code of that State which is one of the most efficient pieces of machinery for dealing with industrial disputes with which I have ever been associated. I appeared before all the judges of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court sitting both in single jurisdiction and as a Pull Court. I also appeared before the two arbitration court judges in South Australia, all of the conciliation commissioners and the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator. Industrial disputes can be more quickly settled by the parties discussing their differences at round table conferences than by presenting their cases to industrial tribunals. In making that statement I do not intend to show any disrespect for the members of the judiciary or the conciliation commissioners. As you, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, well know, because you were a member of a wages board, industrial disputes can be more quickly settled in the more friendly atmosphere of round table discussions between the parties at which lawyers are not present to raise legal technicalities. It is because of that fact that I fear the provisions of this measure, which will permit industrial disputes to be heard by a single judge, will not have the desired effect.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve an Agreement made between the Commonwealth and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– On a point of procedure it seems to be the wish of the House that the four bills should be treated as one in the second-reading debate on this measure. They may be treated as cognate measures but, under the Standing Orders, each bill must be dealt with separately in committee: Honorable members may . then, in committee of the whole House, bring forth any matters that they wish to discuss concerning any individual bill. Is that procedure agreeable to the House?
– May I make this observation that the four bills will not be taken. in the one vote.
– The bills cannot be dealt with in one vote. Each must be dealt with separately and each must be put to the second-reading vote. Each bill must then be taken separately in committee and reported separately to the House.
– by leave - I move - That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks the approval of Parliament to an agreement made by the Government with Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. That agreement proceeds from this Government’s belief that, under conditions of competition, the best services will be provided to the travelling public. Its aim is to ensure that the major air services flown by these two companies are conducted under conditions of fair and active competition.
Civil air services were pioneered in Australia in the 19-20’s over 30 years ago on the west and north-western coasts of Western Australia and in central Queensland. The pioneering activities of Western Australia Airways and Qantas Limited have been continued by successive Australian companies and Australia owes a great debt to those air transport operators who are continuing to provide services through extensive networks in the outback areas of Australia. It is convenient at this point to say that they receive every assistance possible from the Government. I want to pay this tribute to those services. Since this bill is concerned primarily with two principal operators of trunk services between the capital cities, my remarks will refer principally to Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, but I do not want it to be thought for one moment that the Government fails to appreciate the tremendous value of the smaller but vital services conducted by other operators.
The growth of civil air transport in Australia has indeed been amazing. The first trunk route between the capital cities was developed only in 1932 and it was late 1936 when all capitals were linked by interstate services. In 1939 the regular internal air transport services were flying approximately 45,000,000 passenger miles a year. During the war the civil airlines maintained considerable domestic services although large numbers of aircraft had been diverted to operate with the defence forces. By 1944-45 approximately 130,000,000 passenger miles were being flown on regular routes. By June, 1946, this had increased to 228,000,000 passenger miles. It was at this point that Trans-Australia Airlies entered the field.
The increase in popular demand for air transport continued and for the year ended on the 30th June, 1952, 756,000,000 passenger miles were flown. But it is really no surprise that flying has become
Much a popular mode of transport in Australia. We have tremendous distances to cover between our main points of population ; and we have remote but economically important areas outside our main cities which require speedy transport. In addition our weather is probably the best flying weather in the world. As a nation we have grown up with aviation and have built up a great tradition in aviation. Among the pioneers, we are proud to number Hargraves. From the days of the Royal Australian Flying Corps in World War I. through the pioneering flying of the 1920’s and the 1930’s and in the tremendous air-borne attacks of the 1939-45 war, this nation has produced a band of intrepid flyers out of all proportion to its small population - small when compared with the great powers of the world. But in the middle of the twentieth century, when flying has developed to a precise art, civil air services are important because of the widely scattered nature of this continent. They possess a greater flexibility than other forms of transport. We know civil air services are now a vital and indispensible part of Australian life and the Australian economy. I shall quote one figure to illustrate the importance of civil air transport in Australia. The United States of America is popularly regarded as possessing the most highly developed air services in the world. Yet the number of passenger miles a bead of population flown in Australia is far in excess of that in any other country. It is 50 per cent, greater than that of America.
In our important air transport industry, the large part of the services - 85 per cent. - are provided by the two major operators, Trans-Australian Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. For the year ending the 30th June, 1952, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited flew 277,000,000 passenger miles and TransAustralia Airlines flew 320,000,000 miles. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited flew 14,000,000 freight ton miles and Trans-Australia Airlines flew 7,500,000 such miles. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited’s fleet consisted of nine D.C.4’s, 27 D.C.3’s and three Bristol freighters, while the fleet of Trans-Australia Airlines consisted of four D.C.4’s, five Convairs, 24 D.C.3’s and ten smaller types. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited came into existence in its present form in 1936 and it was as a direct result of the formation of the company in that year that the interstate network joining all capital cities and providing Australia with a civil air transport service from Cooktown in the north of Queensland to Perth in Western Australia came into being. It was Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited which had, by the outbreak of war, established the aircraft as a major mode of transport between the capital cities in Australia. It was Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited which during the war, apart from providing aircraft for service with the defence forces, maintained a network of trunk services in Australia which was of inestimable value as a line of communication between the various head-quarters of our forces, particularly in the critical year of 1942. And it was under the aegis of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited that the public demand for air transport had risen so much that with the advent of TransAustralia Airlines in 1946 the climate was right for the growth of these two major airlines to serve the needs of the Australian people. Both Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited are fine airline’s - among the finest airlines in the world - and they can each take pride in the fact that they give to the Australian public air services which are, I think, unanimously regarded as being among the finest internal air services in the world. Yet the melancholy fact was, that despite its long history in Australian civil aviation, despite its contribution to the development of air services in Australia, despite its part in forming the public demand for air services, and despite the fine service it was providing for the Australian public, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited had been running at a loss on its internal, services for some years. At the same time,. Trans-Australia Airlines was showing a profit, due entirely to the monopoly of air mail revenue which it enjoyed. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited was in the difficult position that it needed new equipment and in particular it needed to order the latest passenger aircraft if it was to provide competition on Australian air services.
As honorable members know, the cost of new civilian aircraft is now very high. The modern aircraft is a complex machine, and the capital investment demanded of an air transport company is great. The directors of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, therefore, approached the Government and proposed the amalgamation of TransAustralia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. They said it was not possible for the two airlines to compete on a profitable basis and that a single entity was the only possible way of conducting civil air services within Australia. Indeed I believe that this proposal was first advanced by the company to Mr. Chifley but the proposal came to nothing during his term of office. When the company renewed this proposal to the present Government, we rejected it. We are opposed in principle to monopoly and we will seek to avoid it wherever we can. We believe that competition between Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines has produced advantages to the travelling public and has assisted in the creation of a technical efficiency of operation which it was the duty of the Government to maintain. It followed on our line of argument that both Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and TransAustralia Airlines must be retained as the major operators of air transport in Australia.
I said earlier that the Australian internal air services were the finest in the world. Their excellence was, in the Government’s opinion, due on the part of each organization to the competition which the other provided. In such conditions of active competition, neither organization for one moment could sacrifice its standards one iota; it knew that if it did so it would lose business to its competitor. The Government believed that it was its duty to ensure that the excellent services provided by the two operators should be maintained for the benefit of the Australian people. The main principle of our policy in civil aviation is to ensure that civil air services are provided domestically under conditions of fair and active competition. But active competition could not be maintained if one of the two competitors had a precarious existence, which depended on the policy of the government of the day. The very uncertainty in this situation had led Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited to a point where it was, as I have said, operating at a loss and would have been faced with great difficulty in raising its capital requirements to re-equip its fleet in the course of the next two or three years. No major airline, whatever its ownership, can operate on a basis of year to year existence. Its very nature requires that it be in a position to plan ahead for ten or fifteen years. Aircraft must be ordered some years ahead, and when they are obtained the operator must be able to foresee sufficient years of profitable operation to ensure that the investment will be recouped.
As I have said, the chief principle of the Government’s policy was to maintain these two major operators, TransAustralia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited in existence to provide internal air services under conditions of active competition. To this end the first step that the Government took was to arrange for an independent analysis of the financial structure and operating costs of both airlines on a basis of strict comparison. This analysis revealed that after a period of losses, and despite a broad equality in popularity with the travelling public, the. figures were as follows : -
For the period of six months to the 31st December, 1951, Australian Airways Proprietary Limited’s loss was £201,775. This analysis also revealed that TransAustralia Airlines possessed one very great advantage over its competitor. Trans-Australia Airlines possessed, as J have said, a virtual monopoly in the carriage of airmail. While Trans-Australia Airlines was receiving an annual amount of something over £500,000 a year for the carriage of mail, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited was receiving something under £50,000.
– What is wrong with that?
– It is all right for those who are in favour of monopolies, particularly socialist monopolies. TransAustralia Airlines also possessed a monopoly of business transacted on government account. As honorable members know, they could travel by air to attend the sittings of this Parliament only on the aircraft of Trans- Australia Airlines ; they were precluded from travelling on the aircraft of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited.
I stress again the main principle of the Government’s policy which -was to see internal air services of Australia were conducted under conditions of active competition, so that the best possible service would be available to the Australian travelling public. But such competition implies an equal right of access to available business. I also requires that each of the major operators should be in a position to operate on a basis of solvency and that each should have such security, of tenure as was necessary to enable it to plan its finance and future development, particularly in the ordering and operation of its fleet of new aircraft.
The problem was, and is, a complex one. After the most earnest consideration, the Government adopted a series of principles, which followed from its basic policy that the major internal services should be conducted under conditions of active competition. Briefly, those principles are as follows : -
But, on the analysis presented to it, the Government found that those three principles of themselves would not ensure that each operator could show a profit on its operations, no matter how excellent the service that it provided. The operating costs of airlines have risen greatly. The greatest single factor in those costs is aviation spirit. Due to events in Persia and to a general rise in overseas costs, this item has increased enormously to a point where it bears very heavily upon the conduct of air transport. If there were added to these increased operating costs, air routes charges at the rates imposed in 1947, it would be impossible for either operator to show a profit. Consequently, it followed that air route charges had to be reduced.
The competition between the two operators, as honorable members know, has been intense. This intense competition has led in many cases to overlapping and to the provision of competing services which are not required by the public demand. We, therefore, thought that the two operators should get together and discuss routes, time-tables, freight, fares and other related matters, so that overlapping and wasteful competition could be eliminated. In short, we thought that there should be a rationalization of services. We recognized, of course, that the two operators, in their individual enthusiasm, might not find it easy to agree on several of these matters of routes, time-tables and fares. The principle was, therefore, adopted that a small body should be set up, under an independent chairman who would have the power to settle finally any differences that arose between the two operators in rationalizing their services.
The House will recall, as I mentioned earlier, that the Government had adopted three principles. They were -
To these were added four additional principles. They were -
To these must be added one more principle. The Government’s policy is to ensure that the civil air services of Australia are conducted under conditions of active competition. It is of the very essence of that policy that each of the two major operators should be secure to plan for the conduct of air services in Australia for many years to come. So, the seventh principle was that the foregoing principles should be embodied in a longterm arrangement with the operators, and that that arrangement should be approved by this Parliament. To this end, an agreement has been made with Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, and has just been signed. That agreement embodies the principles which I have mentioned, and the purpose of this bill is to give the approval of this Parliament to the agreement.
I shall outline the provisions of the agreement, which is contained in the schedule to the bill. Trans-Australia Airlines has ordered for its services in
Australia six Vickers Viscount aircraft. This aircraft is considered by the technical experts to be the best type for operations on Australian trunk routes. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited also proposes to order six of these aircraft. In passing, I would like to say how pleased the Government is to see that the United Kingdom aeronautical industry is again in the forefront of the world in providing and producing civil aircraft types. Clause 3 of the agreement provides that the Commonwealth shall guarantee borrowing on overdraft by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited up to £3,000,000 for the purpose of acquiring the six Vickers Viscounts to which I have referred.
– How kind !
– The kindness is to the travelling public of Australia. There is a subsidiary obligation on the part of the Commonwealth to guarantee a further borrowing of this amount for the purchase of replacement aircraft in some period in the future, which would be at least, I should think, seven years off. As honorable members will see, there are extensive provisions protecting the Commonwealth’s position in relation to the. guarantee.
As I have mentioned, the position of air route charges loom very large in relation to operating costs. The whole question of whether air transport services can be conducted in Australia at a profit or a loss depends entirely on the level at which air route charges are fixed. After most earnest consideration, the Government decided that the level of air route charges for the period from the 1st August, 1947, to the 30th June, 1952, should be reduced by two-thirds. I might say that, under the legislation of the Chifley Government which imposed these charges, the very gravest doubt exists whether such charges are legally payable by any operator. Honorable members will note that the agreement contains a firm obligation by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited to pay the charges at the reduced rate.
– How generous!
– Refunds will be made to those airlines which have paid air route charges at the full rate originally contemplated, and subsidiary legislation will be introduced, later to ensure that these refunds will be liable to taxation in the same manner as if the charges had operated at the reduced rate since the 1st August, 1947. As to air route charges after the 1st July, 1952, the Government has decided that these should be at 50 per cent, of the rate originally imposed, or originally thought to be imposed in August, 1947. As I have said, the whole question of whether air transport can be profitably conducted in Australia depends entirely on the level of these charges, and the Government has fixed this particular rate of 50 per cent, of the 1947 charges only after the deepest consideration of what the air transport industry can bear.
Any air transport operator could be crippled by a change in the rate of air route charges. The Government has, therefore, undertaken in the agreement that the rate fixed ‘ to operate from the 1st July, 1952, will not be increased during the term of the agreement except so far as an increase becomes necessary because of the provision of additional or improved facilities and services, or because of higher costs of maintaining and operating facilities and services. I have said that the imposition of the charges in their original form in 1947 is open to grave legal doubt. This is due to the manner in which the charges were imposed, that is, by an order of a Minister under regulations made under an act. The legal doubts arise on whether the act authorized the regulations, and whether they, in turn, authorized the Minister to impose the charges.
Mr. Bryson interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for “Wills (Mr. Bryson) must cease interjecting.
– It is, therefore, the Government’s intention to introduce a substantive bill to impose air route charges as from the 1st July, 1952.
Clause 5 of the agreement provides for Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited to have a right of access to the carriage of air mail which, I am sure it will be conceded, is only just and equitable. Honorable members will note, if they study the agreement, that the right to carry mail is contingent upon the company providing sufficient services and suitable time-tables in accordance with the requirements of the PostmasterGeneral.
Clause 6 is designed to give the company a right of access to government business. This has been done by providing that the holder of a government warrant shall have a free right to choose which airline he will travel by.
Clause 7 provides for what I have called “rationalization” in order to eliminate wasteful and uneconomic competition. There is no doubt that substantial savings to both operators will result from this provision. In the event of their being unable to agree over some particular matter where wasteful competition could be eliminated, the agreement provides for an independent chairman who must be a retired judge. His recommendation, while binding on the two airlines, will still be subject to confirmation by the Minister or the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation under the Air Navigation Regulations.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! I warn the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) that if they do not cease interjecting I shall have to apply the Standing Orders. There has been a rather consistent defiance of the Chair during the last ten minutes, and it must not continue.
Mr. Bryson interjecting,
– Order ! Does the honorable member for Wills wish to be named?
– Then he had better keep quiet.
– Clause 8 gives to each operator an equal right of access to aircraft which are available for disposal by the international airlines in which the Commonwealth has an interest. Aircraft equipment is the key to success in the air transport industry and it is obvious that fair competition between the two operators cannot be maintained if one or the other of them has an option to purchase or otherwise obtain all aircraft which become available from international operators.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) in order in standing at the door puffing smoke into the chamber ? He has now darted back out of sight, but until I rose, to speak he was standing there puffing smoke into the chamber.
– Order ! The matter having been raised, I must point out to the House that that is a custom which becomes increasingly undesirable. Action has had to be taken only lately, during the current sessional period, to point out to visitors in the gallery that they may not smoke. Their defence has been , that honorable members are smoking within the precincts. I think that it is a custom with which we might dispense.
– It is somewhat amusing that honorable members opposite, who previously devoted themselves to obstructing the progress of civil aviation in Australia, are now devoting themselves to obstructing a speech on that subject.
Honorable members will recall that in the debates which have taken place in this House from time to time on civil aviation policy, charges have been made that the previous Government exercised its powers of control over imports so as to discriminate against Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and in favour of Trans-Australia Airlines. It has been said - and I merely repeat without comment what has been said - that when Trans-Australia Airlines was provided with dollars and an import licence to- purchase its five Convairs, a request for dollars by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited was refused.
– Hear, hear !
– That is not true.
– It seems to have the support of the Australian Labour party, even though the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) does not endorse it. There is no value now in trying to assess the accuracy or otherwise of those charges. The government of the clay may have had very good reasons for the refusal to which I have referred but the factual result - and this is the merit of the thing - was that, whereas TransAustralia Airlines obtained new equipment, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited did not. Clause 10 of the agreement is therefore designed to ensure that in the exercise of any Commonwealth power under, or by virtue of an act or regulations, the power will not be exercised so as to discriminate against the company.
If active competition is to be maintained, it is essential that the major operators should compete on a basis of equality and that neither one nor the other should receive advantages over its competitor. The agreement therefore provides for substantially equal treatment for the company and for the Australian National Airlines Commission in relation to the grant of import licences and the allocation of airport facilities.
– Strangulation !
– Yes, strangulation of socialistic monopolies. The agreement naturally insists that all aircraft purchased by the company or acquired by it by virtue of the provisions of the agreement shall be retained for use on Australian internal services, and the Government has also insisted that the company shall at all times maintain efficient services. In order to protect the Commonwealth’s interest, the agreement provides that if the company fails to perform any of its obligations under the agreement, the Commonwealth shall have the right to terminate the agreement.
I think that I have given a sufficiently detailed account of the agreement for the purpose of acquainting the House with its provisions. I have mentioned earlier that other bills are associated with this one in order to impose air route charges and to deal with the taxation aspects of refunds of charges already paid. In addition, other subsidiary legislation will be necessary. A bill to amend the Australian National Airlines Act will insert in that act a provision requiring the commission to do those things which the agreement requires the commission to do. At the same time, minor amendments will be made which experience of the working of the commission show to be necessary. So that a strict basis of comparison will be available between the two airlines, it is also proposed that TransAustralia Airlines shall become subject to income tax in the same way as Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. This also will be dealt with in the legislation accompanying the present bill.
In commending the bill to the House, I would say that Australia is a country which, because of its vast distances, requires the very best internal air services which can be provided. The conduct of these services under conditions of active competition have produced Australian air services which are among the best in the world. The Government believes that it is its duty to ensure that those services are continued at the present high standard under conditions of active competition by the two major operators. Internal air transport is now such a fundamental factor in the organization of Australian life, that its continuance on a sound basis is elemental. It should, like the other basic industries and services in the community, be free to carry on its business undistracted by any constant worry that its future depends on the whim of the government of the day. I commend this hill to the House in the firm belief that it will assure the continuance of Australian air transport at a high standard of service and on a sound economic basis for the next fifteen years.
– Will the Minister table next week the independent analysis of the financial structure and operating costs of both airlines on a basis of strict comparison, which he mentioned ? Will he also furnish to the House, before the debate is resumed, a copy of the list of shareholders in Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, showing the number of shares held by each shareholder?
– Why should he?
– We wish to know to whom the Government is giving the money.
– Will the Minister also table the interdepartmental report that was made in 1944 or 1945?
– It is not customary to table interdepartmental reports in the House. I regard such documents as being provided by departmental officers for the information of the government of the day. I shall examine the report to which the honorable member for Melbourne has 1 referred and see whether it will be possible to furnish him with it as well as with the other information that he has requested.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 3736).
.- The Government claims that this bill will produce a much happier position in the maritime industry, and obviate many industrial disputes such as have occurred in it, but it has produced no real evidence that such a position will actually be achieved by the measure. It seems to me that the Government is indulging in some wishful thinking about the matter. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who is not with us at the moment, read from a list of disputes that had occurred during the last year or so. It is not of much use to base an argument on the number of disputes unless «e know the full facts about them, including who is to blame and how the disputes were settled. The Maritime Industry Commission, which is .to be abolished under the measure, has existed for a long time. Its composition is interesting. The acting chairman is Mr. Edwards, who is associated with a big shipping company. The membership includes Mr. Radford and Mr. Matthews, who represent interstate shipowners, Mr. Gibson, who represents intra-state shipowners, Captain Lawrence, who represents the Merchant Service Guild, Mr. Cole, who represents marine engineers, Mr. Tudehope, who represents marine cooks, bakers and butchers, Mr. Moate, who represents marine stewards, Mr. Elliott, who represents the seamen, and Mr. Bourke, who represents the Government. It seemed from the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar that the commission was composed almost entirely of Com munists, and that it was not safe to have such a body in control of the maritime industry. It became obvious, however, by the time the honorable gentleman had finished his speech, that he could find only one Communist in the whole commission, and that was Mr. Elliott, the general secretary of the Seamen’s Union of Australasia.
Only recently the Government facilitated a trip overseas for Mr. Elliott, by granting him a passport that enabled him to leave the country and visit some of his comrades abroad.. I do not object to that, but I do object in those circumstances, to the honorable member for Mackellar pointing out that Mr. Elliott had recently gone to Budapest to receive his instructions from his Communist friends. If that is correct, the Government has failed in its obligation to the nation by having given Mr. Elliott a passport that enabled him to go to Budapest to receive those instructions. The point is that Mr. Elliott is only one of ten members of the Maritime Industry Commission. I do not believe for one moment that he alone could influence the other nine members of the commission, or even a majority of them, into making certain decisions. The argument during the debate has revolved round the Seamen’s Union of Australasia as a Communist-controlled union. Honorable members opposite have had nothing to say about other maritime unions such as those which cover maritime engineers, and marine cooks, bakers, butchers, and stewards. It is obvious that there is no Communist affiliation in those unions. However, in an attempt to bolster up the Government’s case, the whole of the attack from the other side of the House has been launched against the Seamen’s Union of Australasia and its Communist officials. Almost all the honorable members opposite who have spoken in this debate have said that a majority of the rank and file of seamen are decent men, but that it is necessary to prevent a continuance of maritime disputes in which the seamen are involved. Just as I do not believe that Mr. Elliott alone could influence the Maritime Industry Commission’s decisions, so I do not believe that he alone is responsible for all the industrial disputes in which seamen are involved. I admit frankly, however, that I know very little of the disputes in which seamen are involved, and I suppose that if all honorable members, including honorable members opposite who claim to know all about such disputes, were honest, they would admit that they also know very little about them. In fact, all they know is that disputes occur and are headlined in the press.
The bill is being rushed through the Parliament before due consideration has been given to it. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has pointed out that the members of the Maritime Industry Commission knew nothing of the bill until it was introduced in the Senate. I hope that the Government will pay heed to the plea made by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) for consultations on this matter with the trade union movement, including the Australian Council of Trades Unions, the Seamen’s Union of Australasia, and the other maritime unions concerned, before proceeding further with the bill. If such a conference can be arranged and the representa- tives of both sides attend with a desire to achieve peace in the industry, the bill should be withdrawn and redrafted. It has been explained that the principal act is a complicated one, consisting of 425 clauses, which covers 241 pages of the statute-book. I do not doubt that the act should be amended, but the whole matter should be given much more consideration than it has been given. Both the shipowners and the union officials should be given a chance to make suggestions to bring about a better arrangement in the maritime industry.
The honorable member for Mackellar tried to smear the character of Opposition members by .accusing them of having Communist affiliations. He suggested that the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke), the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and other Opposition members had been misled and that they did not understand the issue. I challenge the honorable member for Mackellar or any other honorable member opposite to show that he has done more in fighting Communist union officials than I have done. At Leigh Creek in South Australia I had the pleasure of defeating the Communist Edgar Boss at the time when members of the Australian “Workers Union were being enticed to join the miners’ federation. I hope that I am not accused by the honorable member of supporting the Communists. But I am prepared to face facts and to consider what is best for the whole community, in an endeavour to determine what would be fair treatment for the seamen as well as the shipowners. “N”o one should be so one-sided as to allege that the seamen alone are responsible for the stoppages in the maritime industry. I see nothing in this bill which will contribute to the solution of the disputes which take place. Under this measure, when a dispute occurs it will be placed before the judge who is commissioned to deal with this industry. Much time will be taken up with the reference to the judge and, perhaps, with a subsequent reference to the Full Court. When the Maritime Industry Commission has dealt with these problems it has been able to make a decision immediately. If the commission discovered that it had made an incorrect decision it has been in a position immediately to rectify it. A judge is just as likely to err as are the members of the commission because judges are human as the members of the commission are human. I do not believe that judges of the Arbitration Court deliberately make wrong decisions but it is possible that a decision may not be palatable to all concerned and very often the decisions of judges have not been acceptable either to employers or employees. The advantage of having representatives both of the employers and employees conferring to settle disputes is that they get to know each other and are prepared to give and take. Once they come before the court their counsel think it necessary to demonstrate that they are earning their money. The matter is dealt with from a purely legal angle and the case is prolonged. I support the honorable member for Bendigo in requesting the Government to confer with the Australian Council of Trades Unions and the representative of the unions which will be affected by this legislation.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Dr. Evatt’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Debate resumed from the 25th September (vide page 2114), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the hill be now read a second time.
.- This bill provides for the continuation for another three years of preference in employment to ex-servicemen. It also makes some other more or less routine alterations. It deals, for instance, with certain matters relating to reestablishment loans for, and the reinstatement in civil employment of, members of the Korean and Malayan forces. This measure and the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Bill with which we have already dealt are somewhat interdependent. The Opposition has no objection to the bill. The principal act was passed, of course, during the regime of the Chifley Government. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out, it would be unreasonable to abandon preference to ex-servicemen merely because the seven years period originally specified has now elapsed. That period ended on the 2ndSeptember of this year and this bill is made retrospective to the 3rd September so that there will be no gap in the rights of ex-servicemen.
Preference to ex-servicemen has always been a rather vexed matter. In times of full employment, however, the problem is not so acute in private industry, and the preference provisions have to be invoked only on rare occasions. Generally speaking, in such times, preference is neither sought nor insisted upon in out side industry. However, it is both sought and applied in the Commonwealth Public Service and the Public Services of the States, and for that reason it is desirable to extend the preference legislation for another three years. Returnedsoldier preference was a very live issue after the 1914-18 war, and particularly during the years of the depression, but because of the ability of the governments that preceeded this Administration to maintain full employment in Australia after “World War II., employment has been available for every one and there has been no need for ex-servicemen to insist upon their special rights. Nevertheless there is ample ground for those special rights, and the Opposition agrees that they should continue to be available to all ex-servicemen who wish to take advantage of them. If the present trend towards unemployment continues - and we all hope that it will not continue - there may be ample reason for exservicemen to invoke their preference rights. In regard to promotions in the public services of this country those rights are all important. If the preference rights are not continued in the Commonwealth Public Service, an anomalous position will arise in relation to State public services in which the rights are continued. The position has been fairly stated by the Prime Minister in his second-reading speech. I am pleased to learn that the work of the preference boards which did such a good job in the early post-war years has ended satisfactorily. As seven years have now elapsed since the end of the war there can be few outstanding applications for registration by civilians who rendered special service during the war. The bill provides that, after the 2nd September, no application for registration may be received. Undoubtedly the preference boards have been useful. They have endeavoured to provide some uniformity of treatment in the most difficult border-line cases. World War II. was a war of movement, not only militarily, but also in civil life. The deployment of armed forces and civil forces alike was extremely widespread. Many people performed what were actually military duties, although they were not in uniform and were not members of the services. Such cases- were, in the main,, well handled by the preference boards which consisted largely of very able citizens. Their work has now ended by the effluxion of time. Generally speaking, this bill patches up certain- provisions that are to continue, and eliminates others for which there is no further use.
There are several clauses in this measure which normally might draw considerable discussion in committee, but the proposals relating to the re-establishment and employment of men who have served in Malaya and Korea are excellent. The difficulties of their campaigns, and the- problems that will face them after they return to civilian life must be considered very carefully. Although we have only two battalions and two squadrons overseas at present, those forces are engaged in very important work. It could be described as work of a leadership character. There is not the same public interest in the rehabilitation of those servicemen as there is in the general questions of rehabilitation after a great war has been successfully concluded. This measure is designed to restore exservicemen to their rightful place in civilian life when they return from active service. We must ensure that the measure shall do the work for which it has been designed. The matter of technical employment is provided for by the amendments, and I suggest that a discussion of those, particularly of Part 11, could best be left until a later, stage. This is a machinery measure which will grant an extension of ex-servicemen preference for three years. The Labour party introduced the original preference bill and therefore approves of the present proposed extension. The Labour party also considers that the preference boards should be abolished and that there should be a wise and efficient recasting of the provisions relating to re-establishment, in order that the men now fighting in Korea and Malaya may be adequately dealt with. The Tradesmen’s Rights Regulations Act should be read in conjunction with this bill so that there will- be an equalization of employment opportunities.
The bill meets with the approval of the Opposition, but we reserve the right to discuss several of its clauses in committee. Those clauses were not fully dealt with’ by the Minister in his second-reading speech, obviously because they were technical. This matter will again be considered in three years’ time. It is a useful measure but no doubt it will be abused by employers who may try to get around the law. However, it will be observed with decency and decorum by the Commonwealth and State public services, and I consider that it will serve a very useful purpose. It is necessary for any government to try to ensure full employment in the country. If that were done a preference bill of this kind would be no more than life assurance. The Opposition accepts the measure.
-The question is-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I direct your attention to the state of the House, Mr. Speaker.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. You put a motion while your attention was being drawn to the State of the House.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney* (Mr. Ward) had no right to rise in his place while I was on my feet. The. honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) should know the standing order which forbids honorable members rising while the Speaker is on his feet. As there are twelve honorable members on my right and eleven on my left a quorum is not present and the bells will be rung. [Quorum formed.]
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden). - The question is that the bill be taken as a whole.
– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Chairman. If the committee has agreed to take the bill as a whole, should you not report that agreement-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN.- The bill has not been agreed to. The question was not put that we take the bill as a whole; a request was made.
– My understanding was that you put the motion that the hill be taken as a whole, and that motion was agreed to.
The DEPUTYCHAIRMAN. - I did put the motion that the bill be taken as a whole, but the question that the bill be agreed to was not put to the committee.
New clause 5a.
.- I move-
That after clause5 the fallowing new clause be inserted: - “5a. - (1.) Section 101a of the Principal Act be amended by omitting from sub-section (1.) the words ‘threepounds fifteen shillings’ (wherever occurring), and inserting in their stead the words, ‘five pounds five shillings “ (2.) Allowances at the ratepayable under the Principal Act, as amended by this section, arc payable from and including the second day of October, one thousand nine hundred and fifty-two “.
This amendment is put forward to honour an undertaking given by the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) during his budget speech. Section 101a specifies the rates of pension and re-establishment allowances payable to members of the forces and widows of members who have been granted re-establishment loans to enter into a business or practice or for those who have entered into a business or practice. The allowances are payable where the income for the first six months is inadequate. The Government has decided to increase the allowance by £1 10s. a week, and the amendment is designed to express that intention in the act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
New clause 5a agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
The following answer to a question was circulated: -
Mr.Beale. - On the 9th October, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) asked the following question : -
Whether, in view of the reportedsuccess of the aerial geophysical survey of large areas of South Australia and the Northern Territory in connexion with the search for uranium and other minerals, he will consider arranging a similar survey of the northern areas of Western Australia.
The Minister for National Development has now supplied the following reply:-
It is hoped to carry out air-borne scintillometer surveys over many areas where geological considerations suggest that uranium deposits may occur. It is expected that by arrangement with the Government of Western Australia this programme would include areas in the northern part of Western Australia. However, the air-borne scintillometer party has a lengthy programme of high priority investigations in the Northern Territory, and it is difficult to say at the present time when the work in the northern part of Western Australia is likely to be carried out.
House adjourned at 3.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 October 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19521024_reps_20_220/>.