20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mb. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. Fitzgerald having asked a question,
-The Prime Minister is not present, so the question is out of order.
– I rise to order. If the deputy of the Prime Minister had been present when I began to ask my question, I should have directed it to him. 1 -now wish to do so.
– It will be apparent that only the Prime Minister could answer a question about a statement that the right honorable gentleman has made or is reported to have made. The question is out of order.
Mr- HOWSE. - Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform honorable members whether any progress has been made in the discussions now proceeding in Washington about the International Wheat Agreement, where for the first time in such discussions Australian wheat-growers’ representatives are present?
– 1 preface a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization by stating that the recent wet seasons in the southern States have enormously increased the disease of foot-rot in sheep. In view of that fact will the Minister make available some of the most capable scientists employed by the organization for renewed research on this problem, in the light of the development of modern antibiotics ? Can the Minister say whether an effort has been made to extend our knowledge of this subject since the excellent work of Professor Beveridge in the early 1930’s?
– I shall certainly consider the matter raised by the honorable gentleman. In any event, I shall see that information concerning the latest work that has been done on foot-rot is made available to him.
– I address to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture a question which arises from the crisis that exists in the small fruits industry in Tasmania. I wish to commend the Bureau of Agricultural Economics for having conducted a very valuable costofproduction survey of the industry last year.
-Order ! What is the question !
– I wish to know whether the bureau will also consider conducting a cost-of-processing survey in the same industry. If that were done a number of anomalies might be eliminated.
– I appreciate the complimentary references by the honorable member to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, but I could not undertake that the bureau should engage in an investigation of factory costs. That is not its function.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether is is a fact that the Commonwealth medical benefits regulations will become operative in the next week or two ? Is it further a fact that the right honorable gentleman circulated the schedules of the regulations to various organizations prior to honorable members of this House having been made aware of their provisions? If those are facts, will the Minister explain why honorable members were denied an opportunity to peruse the regulations prior to them being made public?
– The honorable member is quite misinformed. The position is that, unfortunately, only about two of the schedules have yet been printed. They have, therefore, not been circulated. The regulations were gazetted yesterday and are available to every honorable member.
– Have they been placed on the table of the House?
– Can the Minister for Health inform me whether he could take action to protect the public against persons who are manufacturing inferior drugs and dumping them on the Australian market? By way of explanation, I point out that in Sydney it is believed that many types of headache powders and tablets, popular sulpha drugs and blood-pressure tablets are, in some instances, 75 per cent. below standard, but are nevertheless being retailed to users as genuine. Will the Minister look into this matter and endeavour to stamp out such unscrupulous racketeering?
– The manufacture of drugs in Australia is covered by the pure food and drugs legislation in the various States. The Commonwealth prevents the importation of inferior drugs. It has, in its laboratories, method.* of dealing with such drugs, but in order to cover the whole field, the Commonwealth during the last six monthshas asked the States to pass, simultaneously with it, therapeutic substances legislation so that there will be common legislation on the subject. The problems referred to by the honorable member should thus be completely solved.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Health by saying that an invalid is debarred, by the means test, from obtaining a pension if his wife receives a wage of £9 15s. a week, which is more than £2 a week less than the basic wage. The fact that he is ineligible for a pension excludes him from participating in the Commonwealth health scheme, and the cost of treatment, medicines and special foods must be met from the meagre earnings of his wife. As such a position is causing great hardship to many unfortunate people, will the Government amend the health scheme in order to cover such cases, or, alternatively, will the Minister confer with his colleague, the Minister for Social Services, with a view to action being taken substantially to liberalize the means test?
– It is only since this Government came to office that any arrangement has been made whereby pensioners receive free medical treatment.
– They do not receive it.
-During the whole period that the honorable member for East Sydney was a member of the preceding Labour government nothing was done about the matter.
– Why doesnot the Minister answer the question? He never answers questions.
– I object to the interjection of the honorable member for Parkes.
– Order ! Under the Standing Orders, the right honorable gentleman is not obliged to answer any question. It is a matter entirely for him.
– Opposition members do not like to hear the truth and they repeatedly interject in an endeavour to prevent others from hearing it. An arrangement has been made with the British Medical Association for its members to provide medical services for pensioners under the conditions laid down by the Government.
– My question related to persons who are not eligible for pensions.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney must remain silent while the Minister is replying to his question.
– If the honorable member will examine the scheme devised by the Government to provide medical benefits for pensioners, he will realize that the persons to whom he has referred are covered by it.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Statements have been made from time to time that rate of income tax may exceed 20s. in the £1. In my electorate, a rumour–
– Order ! The honorable member may not base a question on rumour. What is the question ?
– It has been repeatedly stated that a taxpayer with a net income of £8,000 is called upon to pay tax amounting to £10,000’. A booklet issued by the Treasurer shows that the tax imposed on a taxable income of £8,000 is £4,155. Will the Treasurer state whether there are any means by which a taxpayer with a taxable income of £S,000 can be asked to pay tax amounting to £10,000?
– I welcome the opportunity to clarify a prevalent misunderstanding in connexion with this matter. Under the existing taxation laws no taxpayer is called upon to pay more than the prescribed graduated amount applicable to his net taxable income. The tax applicable to an income of £S,000 is much less than 20s. in the £1. The example given in the booklet to which the honorable member referred is absolutely correct. Misunderstandings have arisen because of adjustments made in a taxpayer’s provisional tax. Where the provisional tax payment is less than the assessed tax, appropriate adjustment is made in the taxpayer’s assessment. That fact has led to a good deal of misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the true position.
– Will the Treasurer inform the House, after inquiry if need be, of the actual cost’ involved in the change of the name of the General Banking Division of the Commonwealth Bank to “ The Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia “ ? The honorable member for Melbourne and I have been informed that an enormous cost will be incurred in making the change because it will involve transactions with every customer of the General Banking Division of the bank. Even at this stage, will the Treasurer consider while the bill is being considered in another place, whether it would not be better to give the central bank another name, such as “ The Commonwealth Reserve Bank “, or om: that will indicate its differentiation from the General Banking Division, which could retain the existing name “ Commonwealth Bank of Australia “ ? It has been estimated that the cost involved in the proposed change of name will be approximately £500,000.
– This matter has been fully considered by the legal advisers of the Government. The provisions of the bill, as passed by this House, and sent to another place, will not be altered by the Government. I shall see whether it is possible to obtain the information sought by the right honorable gentleman in regard to the cost involved in the change of title, most of which will be represented by State stamp duties.
– Will the Minister acting for the Minister for Works state why the annual increments due to apprentices employed in the Department of. Works who are called up for national service training are delayed by a period equivalent to the time they spend in camp and their apprenticeship periods extended by a similar time, which is contrary to the practice followed by private enterprise and State instrumentalities?
– I shall make inquiries and when I have ascertained the facts I shall advise the honorable member.
– Can the Minister for the Navy make any definite statement upon the future requirements of the Royal Australian Navy at Jervis Bay as the present uncertainty with regard to the Navy’s intentions is preventing the development of the area by the Department of the Interior in housing and recreation facilities, and by residents in civic and community activities?
– I must confess that I do not understand the meaning of the honorable member’s question, but if he would be good enough to have a talk with me about it so that I can be informed of his true intentions, I shall refer the matter to the Naval Board and obtain an answer.
– Order ! The proper procedure would be to place the question upon the notice-paper.
– I preface a question to the Treasurer, in the absence of the Prime Minister, by stating that over a long period, questions have been asked and discussion has ensued upon the question of the use of imported radio transcriptions by Australian broadcasting stations. As a result, an inquiry was instituted by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and in October or November, 1952, a question in the Senate was answered on behalf of the Postmaster-General to the effect that the board had made its report to the Postmaster-General. However, in a reply dated 13th January last to a letter written by Actors Equity of Australia, the Postmaster-General stated that he had not received a report regarding the investigations that had been carried out by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
-Order ! What is the question ?
– I am coming to it now. I ask the Treasurer whether there is anything that he can do to prevent Ministers from making inaccurate and misleading replies to questions. Can the Prime Minister state whether the report of the board has yet been presented to the Government and if so, what action, if any, is proposed to be taken as a result?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister and ascertain what can be done along the lines mentioned by the honorable member after a full investigation of the true position.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for the Navy arising from a written answer that he gave recently to a question that I asked upon notice concerning the modernizing of the cruiser H.M.A.S. Hobart. In view of the fact that the present refit of the ship has progressed only since last September at a cost already of £250,000 and that two years’ more work at a further estimated cost of £1,000,000 remains to be done before the ship will be fit for service, will the Minister for the Navy and the Naval Board reconsider the whole matter of this vessel’s use and fitness in the future Royal Australian Navy? Will he give consideration to the view that I expressed in this House in the debate on the last naval Estimates, which I know is now widely held outside the House by persons who are interested in the Navy, that the only foreseeable function of this ship in any future war in our waters would be the suppression of commerce raiding, a function that can be much better performed in modern conditions by aircraft and that the money could be better applied to providing fast escort vessels and naval aviation ?
– It was originally contemplated that major structural alterations to H.M.A.S. Hobart would be carried out to fit the ship as a cruiser. However, 1 believe that the honorable member knows that in recent months the Naval Board has changed its proposal and
Hobart will now be refitted for training purposes, that is for the training of recruits and of advanced national service trainees. In other words, major structural alterations will not be carried out to Hobart, but only minor alterations to refit the ship for training purposes. I shall refer the honorable gentleman’s question to the Naval Board with a view to ascertaining whether it proposes to make any other change. However, I do not think that the board contemplates any at the present stage, because it is only in the course of the last few months that an altered policy was agreed to. I emphasize again that the main purpose for which H.M.A.S. Hobart will be used will be the training of recruits and national service personnel. The ship will not be required for operational cruiser duties in future.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question concerning the answer that he gave me yesterday about the Foreign Affairs Committee. The right honorable gentleman said that the committee was engaged in confidential discussions with the visiting French Minister about Indo-China. Will he inform me whether the House will be consulted on the result of such deliberations, or taken into the confidence of the Minister in any way either at an open or secret meeting of the House? If the committee is functioning continuously, why does it not. make regular reports to the House in accordance with the terms of its appointment?
– There is no obligation whatsoever that the deliberations of the Foreign Affairs Committee shall be made known to the House or the public. The committee meets regularly, and studies one area after another of importance to Australia. The members of the committee have taken a good deal of evidence, and have read a considerable quantity of confidential material. I believe that the members of the committee, who, unfortunately, are limited to this side of the House> have learnt a great deal in the last twelve months. I repeat that the Opposition is denying itself the opportunity
Dr. Evatt interjecting,
– The negotiations seem to be very one-sided.
– They have been up to the present time.
– I have made several advances to the Leader of the Opposition, and have met with blank silence.
– Not at all.
– Can the Minister for Territories give the House any information about the progress being made with the production and development of kenaf fibre, and the possibility of its replacing jute in cornsacks, wool bales, &c. ?
– I informed the House a few weeks ago that very encouraging results had followed the experiments undertaken both by commercial interests and by the Government in Papua and New Guinea with the production and development of kenaf fibre. These results encourage us to believe that the production of this fibre would be an economic proposition. Up to the present, only a comparatively small area of about 200 acres has been planted. In the coining season, private industry will produce about 1,200 woolpacks from the fibre grown on that area, and the packs will be distributed for further testing. The testing of fibre woolpacks in the past season showed that, in this product, if economically produced, we have a very effective substitute for jute.
– Can the Minister for Territories inform me whether the vacant post of Administrator has yet been filled, and whether the forecast which I made some months ago about the person likely to be appointed has proved, as usual, to be correct?
– Which territory?
– He would not’ know.
– I would not have sufficient time to make the Minister for the Navy understand, but I inform the Minister for Territories that I am referring to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– In January last, the Government took a decision to fill the post of Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, and a public announcement was made to that effect. The Administrator appointed is Brigadier D. M. Cleland.
– Last Wednesday, the honorable member for Banks asked the Prime Minister a question about the furlough provisions of the Public Service Act. I am now in a position to give him the information that he sought. The Government has the furlough provisions of the Public Service Act, and the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act. under active consideration. The latter act applies to many classes of Commonwealth employees employed under varied conditions, and an amendment raises some tech- nica.1 drafting difficulties. It may not be possible to introduce the necessary hills during this sessional period, hut the Government is most anxious that Commonwealth public servants and employees shall not be prejudiced by the delay. Therefore, it has directed that the amendments relative to furlough shall take effect from the 1st January, 1953. The interests of those concerned will, in consequence, be amply safeguarded regardless of the time the bills are introduced.
– When the measure of which the Treasurer has spoken is being drafted, will consideration be given to the making of its provisions sufficiently retrospective so that the benefits may be extended to the large number of temporary’ public servants who were retrenched prior to the 31st December, 1952 ? If the measure is to operate only from the 1st January of this year, those former employees will be excluded from its provisions.
– I promise the honorable member that the point he has raised will receive consideration.
– by leave - The House will recall that, on the 21st February, the Minister for External
Affairs (Mr. Casey) reviewed the broader aspects of what has happened in the search for a solution of the Korean question. He informed the House that the United Nations has achieved its primary objective in Korea by its successful resistance to Communist aggression. I. now propose to outline, for the information of honorable members, the military contribution which Australia is making to the United Nations effort and the general nature of the arrangements which exist for operational and non-ope-rational control of our forces.
On the 3rd March, 1953, in answer to a question without notice, I informed the House that there are approximately 5,100 Australian servicemen in the Korean theatre serving in support of United Nations action. I will now give further details of this substantial contribution of our naval, air and land forces. Since the 28th June, 1950, a Royal Australian Naval Force of two ships - destroyers, or a frigate and a destroyer - has been engaged continuously in operations in Korean waters. In addition towards the end of 1951, the aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. Sydney relieved H.M.S. Glory for a period of three months while the latter ship refitted at Garden Island Dockyard. At present H.M.A. Ships Arunta and Condamine are in Korean waters. There is also an Australian Naval Port Party in Korea.
– Order ! The reading of newspapers in the chamber is out of order. I ‘ call the honorable member for Hunter to order.
– What is the matter? What have I done? I have not said a word.
– Order ! The honorable member was breaking the rules by reading a newspaper in the chamber, and he will apologize to the Chair for his conduct.
– I apologize.
– The Australian Army in the Korean threatre now consists of the 1st and 3rd Infantry Battalions, Royal Australian Regiment ; portion of an infantry brigade head-quarters and of the Head-quarters, First Commonwealth Division; and portion of the
British. Commonwealth Base in Japan and of its forward elements in Korea. The 3rd Infantry Battalion, with necessary reinforcements, has been on active service in Korea since September, 1950, and the 1st Battalion since March, 1952. The 3rd Battalion, the personnel of which has been regularly rotated under the system of individual relief, is to remain in Korea, but the 1st Battalion will soon be relieved by the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.
No. 77 (Eighter) Squadron, which was stationed in Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. was made available to the United Nations at the commencement of the Korean campaign and has been engaged therein since that time. In addition, since October, 1950, No. 30 (Transport) Unit, now designated No. 36 (Transport) Squadron, has been similarly engaged. The necessary administrative and maintenance units for their support have also been provided.
The battle casualties as at the 28th February, 1953, suffered by the Australian forces in the Korean theatre were as follows: -
In addition, non-battle casualties (accidental and other deaths, and accidental wounds and injuries) totalled 160, of which 23 were fatal. The grand total of Australian casualties, therefore, was 1,277.
I shall now outline the responsibilities for both operational and nonoperational control of the sea, land and air forces contributed by Australia and other British Commonwealth countries. Operational control is vested in the United Nations Unified Command. Broadly, this is exercised as follows: - The British Commonwealth naval forces, comprising units from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, normally operate under the command of a senior British naval officer who is responsible to United Nations Unified Command authorities through its naval command.
In the case of the Army, the land forces of Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are organized into the 1st Commonwealth Division. This formation is a unique and most successful example of Commonwealth co-operation in defence and has earned a magnificent fighting reputation. The division is commanded by a British officer. The House will be interested to know that one of its brigade groups, which comprises units from Australia, India, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, is commanded by an Australian brigadier. The division forms part of a corps of the 8th United States Army, which also controls other United Nations land forces in Korea.
Commonwealth air forces, comprising units from Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom, are under the operational control of the United Nations air command. An exception is Australia’s No. 36 (Transport) Squadron, which is under the operational control of Headquarters, British Commonwealth Forces,
Korea, because of its transport function.
The responsibility for the nonoperational control and general administration of the land and air forces of Australia and the United Kingdom, of the land forces of Canada, India and New Zealand, and of the Australian Naval Port Party, rests with the Australian defence machinery, together with the accredited representatives of the chiefs of staff of those countries. These forces are known as “ British Commonwealth Forces, Korea “. The responsibilities are exercised through the CommanderinChief, British Commonwealth Forces, Korea, at present Lieutenant-General Wells. He is an Australian officer, as were his predecessors, Lieutenant-General Robertson and Lieutenant-General Bridgeford. His responsibilities also include liaison with the United Nations Unified Command and with -British Commonwealth diplomatic representatives in Japan, and general supervision of the interests of British Commonwealth forces in the Korean theatre.
These arrangements for the nonoperational control and general administration of British Commonwealth Forces, Korea, involve an acceptance of responsibility by the Australian Government on behalf of other British Commonwealth governments concerned. This is significant in the development of British Commonwealth defence co-operation, because it is a practical example of an assignment by several Commonwealth governments to the machinery of one government of responsibility for forces engaged in operations. It also represents a recognition of Australia’s special interests in this area and our willingness and ability to discharge increased responsibilities for its defence.
For some time, the United States Army has integrated some South Korean soldiers into its infantry divisions in Korea. The experiment has proved most successful. After consultations between the Commonwealth countries concerned, a plan to integrate about 1,000 soldiers of the Republic of Korea into units of the First Commonwealth Division is now being implemented. Commonwealth countries will share the cost of feeding, clothing and equipping the South Korean soldiers, and will supply them with arms on loan, while all other items of expense, including their pay, will be the responsibility of the Republic of Korea Government. The South Korean soldiers will become full fighting members of the units in which they serve. This integration will be an interesting demonstration of international co-operation in the United Nations operations in Korea, and will be advantageous both to the First Commonwealth Division and to the Republic of Korea. It will provide useful training and combat experience and will enable the Republic of Korea Government further to increase the total of its armed forces without the necessity of a corresponding increase in staffs.
Our Australian sea, land and air forces supporting the United Nations action in Korea are in excellent condition and their morale and spirits are very high. Their fighting achievements, and their cooperation and team work with the forces of other members of the British Commonwealth and of the United Nations have earned them the highest praise. They have, I am sure, the admiration and gratitude of this Parliament and of the Country.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
Korea - Australian contribution - United Nations’ Forces - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
– On behalf of the Opposition, I wish to join in the tribute which the Minister has paid to the Australian forces in Korea. I ask the Minister to supplement his statement by letting the House know, in a supplementary document, the actual operation of what he has called the United Nations Unified Command, which is the body in supreme charge of the military, naval and air operations in Korea. The Opposition is eager to find out to what extent British Commonwealth and Australian officers are integrated with that body or are acting in liaison with it.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - I desire to make a personal explanation. On page 7 of to-day’s Daily Telegraph the following article appears : -
Canberra, Thurs. - The Minister for Supply will not go to the Woomera Rocket Range to investigate security until the present parliamentary session ends on March 27. This decision followed a refusal to-day by the Opposition Whip (Mr. Daly) to grant Mr. Beale a “ pair “ in the House of Representatives voting. The Government at present has a voting majority of only six.
The article states that the Minister for Supply made application for a pair and that his application was refused by the Opposition. Then an attack is made upon the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and it is alleged that the right honorable gentleman was a party to the decision to refuse the Minister’s application.
– I consulted neither the Leader of the Opposition nor the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) upon this matter. The Minister for Supply approached the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), the Government “Whip, and asked the- Whip to arrange a live pair so that he could visit Woomera. The honorable member for Henty, in accordance with normal practice, told the Minister that a pair could not be made available, and that such requests were granted only in the most exceptional circumstances. The honorable member for Henty did not consult me upon the matter. He gave that answer to the Minister in accordance with accepted practice. The matter was dealt with upon the Whip level, and neither the Leader of the Opposition nor the honorable member for Melbourne were consulted. Later, I offered the Minister a pair with a member of the Opposition who was absent, but the honorable gentleman would not accept the offer. The real reason for the application was that at that time fourteen Government members ‘ were absent. From time to time Ministers, without any request-
– I rise to order. The honorable gentleman asked for leave to make a personal explanation upon a matter in respect of which he claimed to have been misrepresented. Undoubtedly, he was misrepresented, as I shall indicate shortly. I submit that the honorable member is entitled only to make a personal explanation upon that matter, and that he is not entitled to make an attack upon either the Government or the Government Whip.
– The facts are very clear to me. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) asked for leave to make a personal explanation about a matter in respect of which he claimed to have been misrepresented, not in the House but outside. I put his request to the House, and it was granted. The honorable member is in order.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Grayndler obtained the leave of the House to make a personal explanation in relation to something that had been said about him outside the House. As he was given leave to make a personal explanation only about a specific matter, would it be competent for the House to withdraw that leave if he embarked upon a discussion quite outside the range of the matter in respect of which leave was granted?
– I know of no procedure under which the House, having granted an honorable member leave to make a personal explanation, can change its mind. The facts of the matter are that the honorable member for Grayndler alleged that he had been misrepresented in a newspaper, which he named, and he asked for leave to make a personal explanation. Such leave was granted. The honorable member is in order. The latitude that I have extended to him will be extended to any other honorable member who wishes to avail himself of it.
– The honorable member for Grayndler obtained leave to make a personal explanation about something published in a newspaper. He was not given leave to make an attack upon other honorable members. I submit that, under the Standing Orders, he should confine his remarks strictly to the matter in relation to which the House granted him leave to make a personal explanation. Such leave does not give him an open go to introduce extraneous subjects or to make attacks upon other honorable members. He has the authority of the House only to make a personal explanation about the matter in relation to which leave was granted.
– That is not my view of the position. The honorable member for Grayndler is in order.
– I do not wish to make an attack upon the Government. I wish only to state facts. In exceptional circumstances, the Government Whip and myself are prepared to agree that a pair be given. At the present time, one member of the Australian Country party, because of a grave illness in his family, has been given a live pair with an honorable member on this side of the House. In addition, when the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Anthony) went abroad recently, he was given a live pair upon all vital issues. These matters are dealt with on the Whip level. The point that I am endeavouring to make is that it was only because there was an exceptional number of absentees from the Government side - fourteen on that occasion - that the Government decided’ to ask the Opposition for pairs. Substance is given to my assertion by the following passage in the newspaper report : -
The Government at present has a voting majority of only six. This is because some members are campaigning in Queensland for the Senate election on May 9.
With due respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I point out that on the occasion that this request was made only 54 Government members voted on the division. If the Minister for Supply wanted to go to the Long Range Weapons Establishment at Woomera on urgent business - which I doubt - he could have recalled some of the fourteen Government absentees, who, when all is said and done, are paid to be present when the Parliament is sitting. The Minister deliberately gave to the press the statement that the Opposition would not grant pairs to the Government for the express purpose of covering up the fact that he did not really want to go to Woomera. There is further substance for this contention in another newspaper report several days ago, which stated that trade union officials had been banned from the establishment.
– I rise to order ! I submit, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for Grayndler is making a personal explanation in relation to circumstances far beyond those which gave rise to the other points of order that you overruled. The honorable member has abused the processes of this House in order to impugn the Minister.
– Order ! The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) has not raised a point of order, but has expressed a personal opinion, with which T do not agree.
– I repeat that I believe that the Minister is endeavouring to cover up the fact that he did not want to go to Woomera.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! If the
House is not prepared to maintain silence, I shall adopt a. certain course of action.
– In the circumstances, I move -
That the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Duly) be not further heard.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! If honorable members on both sides of the House do not maintain silence, I shall name some one.
– Why give a live pair to a dead-
-Order! The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) will leave the House for the rest of to-day’s sitting. Serjeant-at-Arms, see the honorable gentleman off the premises : take him outside the building.
– Will you give the honorable member an opportunity to withdraw ?
– No. The SerjeantatArms will conduct the honorable member for Watson outside the building.
Question put -
That the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. .Daly) be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
In division: ‘
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Dr. Evatt having risen to address the Chair,
Opposition Members. - No ! Sit down! Leave is not granted.
– I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The ruling to which I object relates to the exclusion of the honorable member for Watson from the House and the building for the remainder of the sitting. I do not propose to speak at length. I shall read the only standing order which could possibly apply in this instance. It is Standing Order 303’, which reads -
The Speaker or the Chairman shall order a member whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the House during the remainder of that day’s sitting; and the Serjeant-at-Arms shall act on such orders as he may receive from the Chair in pursuance of this Standing Order. Any Member ordered to withdraw from the House pursuant to this Standing Order shall not return during the same sitting except by permission of the Speaker or Chairman.
I submit that that standing order does not apply in this instance as your order, Mr. Speaker, went far beyond that authority. You have actually, I submit, exceeded your jurisdiction under it by excluding the honorable member for Watson not only from the House but also from the building.
– Hear, hear!
– ^Government supporters may think that they can afford to say “ Hear, hear “ to tha t submission, because they have a majority; but this matter involves a most important principle. I Submit that it would be regular, appropriate and in accordance with the dignity of the Chair that the honorable member for Watson be given an opportunity to return. I repeat that your ruling, Mr. Speaker, goes beyond the purport and meaning of Standing Order 303.
– I point out to the House that the question that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has raised, was decided on a previous occasion which arose in respect of the suspension of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who, I have no doubt, will recall the circumstances to which I refer. After that honorable member had been ordered from the House, I discovered that he had returned without my permission.
– To the House or to the building?
– To the building. The question was then raised on a motion of dissent from my ruling and the House decided, in division, that the meaning of Standing Order 303 was consistent with my interpretation that exclusion from the House means exclusion from the building, which is known as Parliament House. Furthermore, as the right honorable gentleman has just disclosed, the standing order provides that the Serjeant-at-Arms shall act on such instructions as he receives from Mr. Speaker; and he acted on those instructions.
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.
No other honorable member having risen,
– I thought that the Government might have defended your action, Mr. Speaker, but you have defended it yourself. That is rather unusual.
– Order ! Nothing is unusual in this chamber.
– I may disagree with you on that point also. Standing Order 303, as it was originally interpreted by the Standing Orders Committee, gives to Mr. Speaker power to remove an honor able member from this chamber; and it has that meaning only. I submit that you spoke in anger when you ordered the honorable member for Watson to leave-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman imputes to me an act of which I am not capable.
– You 3poke in an angry fashion, and you added, as an afterthought to your first order, that the honorable member should leave the House. Under Standing Order 303 you were entitled to order the honorable member to leave the chamber; but the Opposition has never agreed that the Speaker has the right, under the Standing Orders, to order a member from the building. This is the only place where an honorable member -can transact business in the interests of his electors, and it is the only place, generally speaking, where he can have meals. I might add that that is the personal view of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) also. He and other honorable members have expressed the view on several occasions that it is harsh and unconscionable that an honorable member should be penalized in this fashion. Government supporters may do as they like at this particular moment, but the tide is turning fast. If the interpretation on this occasion of Mr. Speaker stands a few heads will fall a little later from those now sitting on the Government side, from private members of course. I point out that you, Mr. Speaker, might be a private member yourself some day.
The Opposition believes in orderly debate and the maintenance of the authority of the Chair, but it does not believe in the abuse of the Standing Orders. It is remarkable that all the honorable members who have been ordered out of this House by you at any time, and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) was one who was ordered to leave the chamber but not the building, have not been ordered to leave the building. Every honorable member from the Government side that you have ordered out of the House has been ordered merely to leave the chamber. You have never added a rider to your order that the Serjeant-at-Arms- should escort him from the building. The honorable member for Henty, when ordered out of this House, departed for another part of the Australian Capital Territory where he resides, but other honorable members from the Government side who have been ordered out of the chamber have been able to enjoy the amenities of the building. Obviously, it is discrimination to order the honorable member for Watson to leave the building, and if your rules are to be applied to honorable members of the Opposition, they should be applied to all honorable members. As the rules that you apply to the Opposition have not been applied to Government supporters, the Opposition asks you to review your decision. Moreover, if you will not allow the honorable member for Watson to return to the chamber, how can he apologize for his conduct? He cannot get back to this chamber from outside the building if the SerjeantatArms will not let him in. Therefore, I suggest that the purpose of this standing order has been completely frustrated by the additional order that you have made and which the Opposition believes that you had no right to make.
.- I desire to correct one remark that has been made by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). He said that when I was removed from this chamber I was banned from the chamber only. You, Mr. Speaker, will recall sending me a message to the effect that you expected me to leave the building entirely, which I did. I recall that on a previous occasion, when Mr. Speaker Rosevear was presiding, the then honorable member for Bendigo was suspended for a very minor misdemeanour and was not only instructed to ‘ leave the chamber, but, as all honorable members who were here at that time will recall, Mr. Speaker Rosevear conveyed publicly from the chair that he expected the honorable member to leave the premises of the Parliament.
– That was not a suspension under Standing Order 303.
– It was the rule under the preceding Labour Government, and is a rule under the present Government, and there can be no two ways about it.
.- I desire to refresh your memory, Mr. Speaker, in respect of an incident to which you have referred. At one time I was excluded from this chamber by a vote of the House, not under Standing Order 303. My suspension was by the House, which is a different form of suspension from that inflicted on the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin). I also point out that the intention of the Standing Orders is to penalize an honorable member who meets with the disfavour of the Chair in regard to his conduct in the House, and it was never intended that its operations should place any handicap upon such an honorable member’s constituents. Honorable members will recognize that when an honorable member is suspended and asked to leave the precincts of the Parliament completely, it is impossible for him to be contacted by telephone, even on an urgent matter that may affect one of his constituents who might need him to make representations to a department, or a Minister. Whatever view may be taken by yourself and the House, it should be recognized that in no way should the efficiency of honorable member’s services to his constituency be affected. I raised that matter when you asked me to leave the parliamentary building following my suspension from the service of the House, and I was able to remain within the precincts of the building at that time only with great difficulty and by exercising great dexterity. I did it on principle and not to defy your order, because I considered that I had an important duty to the people whom I represent.
.- I would be the first to concede that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) should be heard on a matter of this sort, because his experience of being put out of the House by order of the Chair and by vote of the House is unrivalled in the history of this Parliament, and probably of any other. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) said that a matter of important principle was at stake to-day, and he is right. It is a. principle that embraces a wider field than that of party politics. The principle is whether the parliamentary affairs of this
House shall be conducted properly. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) who has been rightfully escorted from the House, used the words “ dead pig”, in relation to a high officer of the Crown, and by doing so reached a new and regrettable low level in public life. So much for the principle, which is that the affairs of this Parliament should be conducted in a decent manner and that the rules of decent conduct should be upheld. The honorable member concerned has not only behaved in this way on the present occasion, but he has also behaved so with regrettable frequency in the past. He is a discredit-
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! ‘ The question at issue is whether my ruling shall be disagreed with. The conduct of the honorable member for Watson which led to this motion is not under discussion.
– Do you not, Mr. Speaker, intend to ask for a withdrawal of the objectionable remarks made by the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne).
– What objectionable remarks?
– The honorable member for Evans said that the conduct of the honorable member for Watson was discreditable.
– The words that I used at the beginning of a new sentence were, “ He is a discredit- “ I was not permitted to complete the sentence. Consequently, that sentence cannot be objected to.
– Order ! The words of the honorable member for Evans do not apply to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell).
– The words were applied to an honorable member of this House, and I ask that they be withdrawn.
– In the’ circumstances, I cannot order a withdrawal because the remark clearly was not directed to the honorable member for Melbourne.
– I pointed out that he was “a discredit- “ and then. I was stopped.
– I rise to order. Can any honorable member of this House say anything that he wishes about another honorable member who is prevented from being in the House by your order, Mr. Speaker, and who cannot take personal objection to it? The reason for that question is that if an honorable member who is outside the House by your order cannot ask for the withdrawal of objectionable words, then any sort of objectionable words may be applied to him. I suggest that any honorable member, whether he be suspended from the chamber for a certain period of time or not, is entitled to the protection of the Chair and of the members of the House. Particularly should this be so when anything is said about him that is not correct.
– I rise to order. The point raised by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) is most important. Your power, Mr. Speaker, is defined in Standing Order 78, which reads, inter aiia -
I submit that the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) made a statement about the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) that was a reflection upon him. To say that an honorable member is discredited can mean only that very thing. It is just as much out of order to make a reflection on a member absent as on a member present, and therefor I ask you to order that the reflection be withdrawn. You have a discretionary power, but you have a mandatory direction to the effect that “ all personal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly - “.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) misquoted the words used by the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin). The honorable member for Evans said that the honorable member for Watson had used the words “ dead pig”. The honorable member said no such thing. He said, “ dead beat “. I therefore consider that the honorable member for Evans should apologize for endeavouring to make the offence of the honorable member for Watson worse than it is.
– I do not see how any possible objection to my words can arise, because my sentence was incomplete. What I said, before being stopped, was, “ He is a discredit “. It is quite possible that I was about to say that, in my opinion, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) is discreditable to something which the Labour party considers to be creditable. This point of order is much ado about nothing. A suggestion has been made that the honorable member for Watson, not being present, cannot take objection to the words that I say he said. I therefore withdraw without reservation the words, “ He is a discredit “.
Before the point of order was taken, I had been saying that, in my opinion, the words used by the honorable member for Watson - and I adhere to ray view of what he said - were wholly discreditable to the proceedings of this House.
-Order! The issue now is whether my ruling should be disagreed with.
– I take it, Mr, Speaker, that your ruling concerning ejection from the House is again under discussion?
-The ruling is under discussion, but not the reasons for ejecting the honorable member for Watson.
– On the question whether the honorable member should be suspended entirely from the building, may I refer the House to the 15th Edition of May’s Parliamentary Practice, at page 452.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! If honorable gentlemen are not prepared to maintain order I shall have to deal with more of them. From now on, I want absolute silence except from the honorable gentleman who is addressing the Chair. If any other honorable gentleman interjects, I warn him that I shall deal with him similarly to the way in which I have dealt with the honorable member for Watson.
– Concerning the question whether the honorable member for Watson should be required to leave the building in which the Parliament is situated, on page 452 of May’s Parliamentary Practice the following words appear : -
Members ordered to withdraw from the House in pursuance of Standing Order No. 21 or suspended from the service of the House in pursuance of Standing Order No. 22 must withdraw forthwith from the precincts of the House, that is, from the area within the walls of the Palace of Westminster.
The procedure in the House of Commons is thus absolutely clear. Our own procedure is clear to the extent that the rule has been interpreted in the same way in the course of this Parliament, and on a previous occasion was supported by a vote of the House. As we have been reminded by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), the same procedure was applied by a member of the Opposition when he occupied Mr. Speaker’s chair. We, therefore, have the practice established on three grounds of the proceedings of the House of Commons, the proceedings under the former Labour Government, and the proceedings consequent on a vote of this House.
I suggest that if there were any discretion available to the Parliament in relation to whether honorable members should leave the House or the whole building, the severity of the censure required on the use of such terms as that used by the honorable member for Watson clearly indicates that the rule should be fully applied on this occasion.
– I wish to comment on only one aspect of the ruling in order to show clearly its invalidity. You, Mr. Speaker, purport to have power under Standing Order 303 to exclude honorable members of this House from the whole of the parliamentary building. That, of course, you have not got. I think your own recollection of the earlier years in this House should convince you that yon have no such power. Every precedent also indicates that you do not possess it. You, therefore, have claimed an authority that you do not possess. You have no authority over the whole of this building.
– Order !
– Your authority extends only-
-Order ! The honorable gentleman may deal only with the motion that my ruling be dissented from.
– I am doing so. You claim that you have authority to exclude an honorable member from the whole building, which you have not. You are thus claiming a power which you do not possess. Your power extends only to the middle of King’s Hall and not an inch further. It does not extend to the Senate side of this building. You are not the arbiter of the Senate. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) has a complete right to be on the Senate side of King’s Hall, or to be in any room on that side of the building. You cannot stop him from being there, and you know perfectly well that you cannot. You, no doubt, remember that this precedent was clearly established in the case of Mr. J. A. Alexander. You were then in the House.
-Order ! I was not.
– It is a pity that you were not. However, although Mr. J. A. Alexander, whom the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) will remember very well, was not a member of this House, it carried a motion excluding him. But it found that it could not exclude him from the building. He was permitted continually to be half way across King’s Hall. If he took an extra step on to the House of Representatives side he could be pushed back. As long as he remained on the Senate side he was in order, unless, of course, the Senate itself took action to remove him. Nothing you can do, Mr. Speaker, or that the House can do can prevent an honorable’ member from being in the Parliament House building, I submit -that you cannot prevent the honorable member for Watson from being in the building. Only the Senate can exclude him from the Senate side of the building. Only the Senate, plus the House of Representatives, can exclude him from those portions of the House which are used jointly by both senators and members of the House of Representatives.
You have clearly exceeded your power, Mr. Speaker. You do not possess the power that you purport to exercise. No matter what vote is taken by this House, you still cannot prevent the honorable member for Watson from exercising his right to be on the other side of the building, and to use all those rooms that are on that side of King’s Hall, and those portions of the House used jointly by honorable senators and honorable members and which are not under your exclusive control.
.- I think that the House should turn its attention to the proper interpretation of the expression used in Standing Order 303, which empowers Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Committees to require honorable members to withdraw from the House. When the word “ House “ is used in the Standing Orders, it appears to me to he used with one of three meanings. It may mean the whole body of members of this House, as in the phrase “ the House orders “ : or, by a natural extension of that meaning, it may mean, “ the House “ as opposed to “ the Committee “ ; or it may mean “ the House “ in the same sense as the expression “ the Palace of Westminster “ is used in the phrase which the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) so appositely cited from May’s Parliamentary Practice. But when we speak of this particular room, the phrase “ the chamber” is used, as in Standing Order 306, for example, or Standing Order 308. It seems to me that, looking at the Standing Orders as a whole, and trying to interpret their meaning, the word “ chamber “ is used if it refers only to this room. The use of the word “ House “ seems to me to he confined to one of the other three meanings. We can, therefore, say that under Standing Order 303, the intention of the rule is, interpreting the Standing Orders as they should be interpreted, that the honorable member should be required to withdraw from the House, meaning this building, which is equivalent to the phrase “ the Palace of Westminster “ in relation to the House of Commons. That, of course, is consonant with House of Commons practice, as quoted by the honorable member for Evans. If the standing order meant that the honorable member should really withdraw from this room, it would, in accordance with the practice based on the other examples I have quoted, use not the word “ House “ hut the word “ chamber “. That seems to me to be correct on any clear legal interpretation.
There remains the second point raised by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Eraser), concerning your authority in these matters, Mr. Speaker. That appears to me to be not perhaps quite so clear as the question 1 have just tried to explain. Nevertheless, it is tolerably clear. The Standing Orders give you a certain authority over honorable members as such, whether they are in this particular place or elsewhere, and they seem to me to give you certain authority over honorable members which, perhaps, you would not have in relation to people who are not members of this House. Even apart from that, these Standing Orders are to be interpreted in accordance with the practice of the House of Commons. It is quite clear from May that the authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons to order members out of the House extends also to the precincts of the House of Lords, which are within the Palace of Westminster. If we apply the practice and precedent of the House of Commons in cases where our own Standing Orders are not clear, it would appear to me that in this case your .authority over honorable members, Mr. Speaker, extends to exclusion from the whole of this House and from those parts of the House which are under the control of the President of the Senate. Your authority does not extend to persons who are not members of this House, but by virtue of the Standing Orders combined with the practice that obtains in the House of Commons it seems that the authority would apply also to members of the other House, even in that part of the parliamentary building which is under the control of the President and Mr. Speaker.
.- It appears to me, Mr. Speaker, that your complexity in regard to this matter is as great as ours.
– There is no complexity in my mind.
– Let us say, then, that it resides in my mind. Standing Order 303, which you have used -to remove the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) provides that the Speaker or the Chairman shall order a member whose conduct is grossly disorderly to withdraw immediately from the ‘House. The Standing Order refers, of course, to the House of Representatives. If it does not it is patently ridiculous, for the following Standing Order, 304, reads -
In the case of grave disorder arising in the House-
That is, in this House - the Speaker may adjourn the House . . .
If you contend that the House is the whole of the Parliamentary building, then, if some person created a row in the dining-room you could put him out in the park. If the reference in the standing order to the “ House “ does not refer only to this chamber, the Standing Orders are ridiculous. The Standing Orders relate to the chamber itself and not to the House of Parliament. We are members of the House of Representatives, which we interpret to mean this House. The point raised by the Opposition is that your interpretation of the Standing Orders is far too wide and the removal from the House merely means, removal from this chamber. You, Mr. Speaker, in the still watches of the night, have probably read many times the provisions of Standing Order 304 which provides that in the case of grave disorder arising in the House the Speaker may adjourn the House. If you apply your reasoning to that standing order you would adjourn the sittings of the whole of the Parliament because some disturbance had been created. That is the point at issue.
– I was very interested in the observations made by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser). With very great respect the case that he mentioned has absolutely nothing to do with the issues before the
House. The honorable member cited the case of a pressman named Alexander. If my memory serves me correctly, the decision of the House was that Alexander should be excluded from the precincts of the House of Representatives. I put it to the honorable member that the Standing Orders of the House have no application to any person other than the members of this House within the chamber. Honorable members have adopted a code of Standing Orders in which they have restricted their privileges in certain circumstances and under certain conditions. They have agreed that in certain circumstances and under certain conditions Mr. Speaker should have power to take action against members of this House. Mr. Speaker, having been given that power, exercises it when such circumstances and conditions arise. The position as I see it is that, having been given this power, Mr. Speaker is in a position to interpret it according to precedent and custom. Precedent and custom in relation to these matters are quite obvious. You, Mr. Speaker, rely upon precedent and custom as outlined in May. There you will find that the House of Commons and the House of Lords are contained within the Palace of Westminster. The case submitted by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in regard to the line drawn across King’s Hall does not hold good if you follow the precedent and custom applied in the Palace of Westminster. It is clear that in circumstances such as this, if an honorable member is excluded from the House, the fact that he is one inch on either side of the imaginary dividing line in King’s Hall has no relevance. If you study the records of the House, Mr. Speaker, you will find that while the Parliament was sitting in Melbourne, that excellent suburb of Sydney, every honorable member who was excluded from the House was automatically excluded from not only the chamber but also the parliamentary building itself. When the Parliament was established in Canberra that practice was departed from only because there was then no place for an honorable member to go except under the gum trees or by the side of the Molonglo River. Now that facilities have been provided for the comfort of honorable members outside the precinct? of this House, it is time that we reverted to the custom that previously prevailed. As honorable members have agreed in certain circumstances to restrict their privileges and have given you, Mr. Speaker, certain power over them, it ill becomes them to try to deprive you of it.
.- The House has been invited to support a ruling which you, Mr. Speaker, have made. I appeal to honorable members not to treat this matter as a matter of expediency and not to vote in favour of a ruling which they believe to be wrong. When an honorable member has been excluded from the House it has been the custom to regard his exclusion as applicable only to the chamber. Only in exceptional circumstances has an honorable member, after exclusion from the House, conducted himself in a manner which did not entitle him to remain in the precincts of the House. That happened in the case of a former honorable member for Bendigo. I was a member of the committee that drafted ‘the Standing Orders that now operate. It was the clear intention of the committee that Standing Order 300 should be applied only in a case of grave disorder.
– Order! I think the honorable member for Darling is entitled-
– Did an honorable member call for order?
Honorable MEMBERS. - Yes.
– Who called for order? Did the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) do so?
– I called for order, Mr. Speaker.
-The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) will apologize for having done so. Honorable members on both sides of the House have a right to consult Mr. Speaker while he is in the chair if they wish to do so.
– I addressed my call for order not to you, Mr. Speaker, but to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who left his place and went to the Chair to discuss a matter with you, Mr. Speaker, at a time when the honorable member for Darling was dealing with a very important point.
– Order ! The honorable member for Kalgoorlie had no right to call for order. Authority to do so is vested solely in the Chair. He will apologize for his lapse.
– I apologize, but I believe it is the duty of all honorable members .to listen to points raised in an important debate of this kind.
– Order ! The honorable member for Darling will continue.
– Prior to the revision of the Standing Orders in 1950 the only power that resided in the Chair to deal with an honorable member who had contravened the Standing Orders was to name him for having done so. It was then left to the House to decide by vote whether or not the offender should be suspended from the service of the House. That has been a procedure of the Parliament. There has been no precedent in previous parliaments for dealing with an honorable member who has been merely asked to leave the chamber by the Speaker.
Standing Orders 300 and 301 actually cover cases of grave disorder. An honorable member in such an event i3 named by the Speaker and excluded from the House. If the Speaker believes that the conduct of the honorable member is such that he should be excluded from the chamber of the House, he is entitled to exclude him. But the other Standing Order 303 is a new one that has been introduced to enable the Speaker to deal with a grave emergency when the attitude or the conduct of an honorable member is such that it is detrimental to the good name of the House. The Speaker can then order the honorable member to withdraw. Usually, when the action of an honorable member constitutes a minor offence, he is ordered to withdraw. I look upon Standing Order 300 as the principal standing order to cover the exclusion of honorable members. You have no power, Mr. Speaker, to exclude an honorable member from the precincts of Parliament House. The Standing Order merely refers to the withdrawal of an honorable member from the House during the remainder of the day’s sitting. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has pointed out that Standing Order 304 states -
In the case of grave disorder arising in the House, the Speaker may adjourn the House without Question put, or suspend any sitting for a time to be named by him.
That is a clear reference to the House as the chamber in which the debate takes place, and it does not refer to the precincts of the whole of the parliamentary building. Therefore I say that my reference to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) who has been excluded from the House has the same reference to the chamber and not to the building. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that you are entirely wrong in your interpretation of Standing Order 303 in excluding an honorable member from the precincts of the whole building. I appeal to honorable members not to set up a precedent by enabling the Speaker to order an honorable member to leave the whole of the precincts of the Parliament for a minor matter of disorder such as that which was committed by the honorable member for Watson.
[12.31. - This matter should be above party politics and honorable members should study it in its relation to the dignity and authority of the House and the Speaker.
– The Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) and the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) will have their turn next.
– If I acted in the manner of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) I should not expect to remain in the House for 48 hours.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! Honorable members should recall the warning that I gave to them a few moments ago. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson), who has interjected, will not be warned again.
– I shall address myself to the matters that have been raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I think you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that the whole of this debate is centred upon your powers to exclude a person from the whole of the precincts of the House of Representatives. Therefore, most of the debate centres upon the interpretation of the meaning of the title “ House “ itself. It could have a very wide meaning. Under Chapter I., Part I. of the Constitution, the term “ House of Representatives “ is used to include the whole of the functions and operations of the House of Representatives and all that part of the Parliament. It is impossible to be dogmatic as to the actual interpretation of the word “ House “ itself. In fact, it has several meanings and has to be interpreted differently in different cases and under different standing orders.
In the standing orders of the British House of Commons, there is one that is similar to Standing Order 303 of the House of Representatives. That order is referred to on page 1025 of May’s Parliamentary Practice, fifteenth edition. The interpretation of that section has frequently been canvassed. It is perfectly clear from the cases that have come before the British House of Commons that the Speaker has a clear and unmistakable power to exclude persons not only from the chamber but from the precincts of the House should he consider it desirable. I maintain that you, Mr. Speaker, have discretionary power also to use your authority to exclude an honorable member, not only from the chamber but from the House itself.
– Will the Minister study Standing Order 304?
– May’s Parliamentary Practice states at page 452 -
Members ordered to withdraw from the House in pursuance of Standing Order 21 or suspended from the service of the House in pursuance of Standing Order No. 22 must withdraw forthwith from the precincts of the House, that is, from the area within the walls of the Palace of Westminster.
So your authority on this matter is perfectly clear, Mr. Speaker, provided you have made your decision and have made it clear that the honorable member is to be excluded from the precincts of the House as well as from the chamber itself. There is ample precedent for that practice and it has been used before by you and by Speakers representing the Labour party in this Parliament. Many honorable members will remember that Mr. Norman Makin, who was .the Speaker in 1.931, excluded Mr. J. A. Alexander from the House of Representatives, both from the chamber and from its precincts. Mr. Makin said at that time -
I feel that, until a satisfactory explanation has been offered concerning the means whereby the text of the cables in question, was obtained by Mr. Alexander, I must direct that he be excluded from the precincts of the House of Representatives.
– He was not a member of the Parliament. He was a newspaper reporter.
– Nevertheless the statement is clear. By a direction or order of a Labour Speaker, in this case a man who is held in the highest esteem, a person was excluded from the precincts of the House itself. Your powers in this matter, Mr. Speaker, are quite clear and undisputable. But I shall return to a much more important problem. As I have said, I believe that it is essential that the dignity and authority of this House, and your dignity should be maintained. If honorable members on the Opposition side want to consider this matter further, I suggest that the proper course is to refer the order to the Standing Orders Committee so that it can give the matter consideration in a more temperate atmosphere than is to be found in the chamber. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) has said, and he thumped the table for emphasis, that the Speaker could not exclude an honorable member of this House from the environs of the Senate. If the honorable member who has been ordered from the precincts of the House goes to the Senate side, I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will ensure that the authority of this Parliament is maintained, and that he is ejected. If necessary, I hope that you will seek the cooperation of the President of the Senate for that purpose. I believe that the comments of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro were an inducement to the committal of a contempt. As such, they bring this House into disrepute and they bring every honorable member who tries to induce another honorable member to commit a misdemeanour into disrepute also. I believe that honorable members on this side ofthe House know that your authority in this matter is great, that you have exercised it properly and that all the precedents are on your side. I asm certain that the House will confirm your action, should the matter unfortunately be put to a vote.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) put -
Thatthe question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I rise to make a personal explanation arising out of a matter in respect of which I have been misrepresented in this chamber to-day. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) made two false allegations against me.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) put -
That the Minister for Supply be not further heard.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, because it has been suggested that the Opposition refused to grant a pair to the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale). The fact is, as the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has pointed out, not only that the Opposition did not refuse to arrange a pair with the Minister, but also that the Opposition Whip, in conjunction with the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) as the Government Whip, agreed willingly to do all that could be reasonably expected. I tell the Minister now-
– Has the right honorable gentleman been misrepresented ?
– By me?
– No. However, it has been suggested that I and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, were parties to a refusal to arrange a pair with the Minister. That is completely untrue. I say to the Minister now that, if it will be of any advantage for him to go to Woomera - and I personally think that it will - he can have a pair at any time for that purpose. I think the matter is of great importance.
– I have made other arrangements.
– Will it be in order for me, Mr. Speaker, to elaborate now upon the statement that I was making when I was interrupted?
– Order ! The House resolved by a division that the honorable member should not be further heard. He cannot continue from the point at which he was cut short by the House.
– May I say-
– No, you cannot.
-Order! Does the honorable member wish to make a personal explanation as a result of misrepresentation ?
– il want this point to be made clear. Does the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) claim that he has been misrepresented by me? Unless he wishes to make a personal explanation- on that basis, he has no right to speak and will not be granted leave to make an explanation.
– Only two statements have been made since the last division was held. One was made by the Minister for Supply, who claimed that he had been misrepresented, and the other was made by the Leader of the Opposition. The honorable member for Grayndler is entitled to make a personal explanation only if he considers that he has been misrepresented in either of those two statements.
– I have been misrepresented again by the Minister for Supply. I repeat that the Minister stated that he had not made comments to the press or to anybody else in connexion with this matter.
– Order ! That would not misrepresent the honorable gentleman.
– I disagree with you, Mr. Speaker. It brings me back to the statement that was made a few minutes ago, which was linked with the misrepresentation that I tried to discuss earlier.
– The honorable member cannot deal with that.
– The two matters are interwoven. I have every reason to believe that the story published in the press was sponsored-
– Order ! That is not a personal explanation. The honorable member is trying to resume his argument with the Minister for Supply. He can speak now only in relation to some point on which he personally has been misrepresented.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Would I be in order in asking you to interview the representatives of the Daily Telegraph to ask them whether the Minister for Supply gave them the information upon which that newspaper based its attack on the Opposition to-day?
-Order ! The honorable member may perform that office for himself.
– I resume my personal explanation by pointing out to the Minister for Supply that he was not refused a pair.
– Order ! That is not within the scope of a personal explanation.
– The Minister said that he was not given a pair, hut now, in contradiction of the newspaper article, he says that he was granted a pair. I believe that this misrepresents me.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. It is obvious to the whole House that the Opposition Whip is trying to make a personal explanation now merely because two statements have been made to the House since it ruled that he should be jio longer heard. He is trying to elaborate on the remarks that he was making when his statement was terminated by a vote of the House. His embarrassment is clear to us. He is trying to explain that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, are trying to blame him for discreditable circumstances for which they were responsible.
-Order! The House is becoming out of hand, and these proceedings are not reflecting any credit upon it. If the honorable member for Grayndler has a genuine complaint in regard to misrepresentation, either by the Minister for Supply or by the Leader of the Opposition, he may make an explanation, but he must not refer to items published in the Baily Telegraph or any other newspaper.
– I rise to order. If the honorable member considers that he has been misrepresented, either by the Minister for Supply or by me, in any statements made to the press, I assure him, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, that such was neither the intention nor-
– Order ! That is not a point of order.
– To continue my personal explanation arising from misrepresentation, I point out to the Minister for Supply that, if all the statements that he claims to be correct-
– Order ! The honorable member is not permitted to point out anything to the Minister for Supply. He may discuss only the matter upon which he has been misrepresented. He will not be permitted to point out anything to anybody.
– I say that the Minister for Supply misrepresented me by saying that he was refused a pair. The question that arose was whether it should be a live pair or a dead pair. In order to finalize the matter, I point. out, in support of the Leader of the Opposition, that the right honorable gentleman was not connected in any way with the decision that was made. The decision was made by the Whips, and the Leader of the Opposition did not know anything about the matter, as far as I know, until he read about it in a newspaper this morning. I further make an offer to the Minister -
– Order ! The honorable member cannot make offers.
– I was only about to say-
– Order !
Bill presented by Mr. McEwen, and read a first time.
– Is leave granted?
Leave not granted.
Debate resumed from the 4th March (vide page 1001), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition opposes this bill because in it the Government proposes to get rid of ministerial-
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
-I ask the House to conform to the Standing Orders. The Vie-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), if they have any differences to compose, may compose them outside the chamber. There is plenty of room there.
Mr. Speaker having declared in favour of the “Ayes”,
– We want a division.
Question put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
– On proceeding to lunch after I had suspended the sitting of the House, I saw in the King’s Hall the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), who, on a vote of the House taken this morning, was excluded from this building. The presence of the honorable gentleman in the King’s Hall was a contempt of the House.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That consideration be deferred in regard to this matter until next Tuesday.
.- This is an unheard of procedure. The Speaker has no jurisdiction over the place in which the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) was standing.
– Order ! That is not under discussion now.
– What is the question before the Chair?
– The question before theChair is that consideration of this matter be postponed until Tuesday next.
– Consideration of whether or not he was in the King’s Hall ?
– I said that the presence of the honorable member there was a contempt of a decision made by the House this morning.
– I am debating that matter now.
– You cannot debate it.
.- I understand that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) was in the King’s Hall this afternoon for the purpose of collecting his belongings, preparatory to going away. Was it intended that he should not have an opportunity to collect his belongings and correspondence from his constituents ? That was the only reason why he was there. We contend that he was not in contempt of the House.
.- I confirm what the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has said. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), quite sincerely, was preparing to leave the precincts of the House. After his exclusion from the House, he left Canberra on the first available aircraft. I have stated those facts, Mr. Speaker, so that you will he able to consider them when the conduct of the honorable member is discussed.
– I gather that, in some way, the facts of this case will be brought before the House. I hope that the issue will not be decided in advance, and that the question whether the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) remained in the building for the limited purpose mentioned by my colleagues will come before the House for decision. I submit that it is not proper to say that an honorable member has committed an act of contempt of the House before the House has been placed in possession of the facts, and while the honorable member concerned is not present. Because the honorable member for Watson is not hero, he is unable to present his side of the case.
– My purpose in proposing the motion was to give him an opportunity to do so.
– The motion is linked with an implied charge, and it may be that there is no evidence to support the charge. Before the conduct of an honorable member is characterized in this way, the facts of the matter should be laid before the House. If there is anything to be said about the conduct of the honorable member for Watson, it must be said in his presence. Otherwise, the proceedings will be null and void. ‘ The Opposition cannot support the motion.
– in reply - The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) is ill-informed about the facts of this matter, has deliberately misunderstood the motion, or is trying to gain political capital from it. Mr. Speaker made a report to the House. I was not prepared to proceed with the discussion of that report until the honorable member concerned was present in the House. That is the reason why I proposed my motion. I know, as does the Leader of the Opposition, that the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) will be in his place in this chamber next Tuesday, when we suggest that the matter be considered. Therefore, all this talk by the Opposition about wanting the honorable member to be present is so much beating of the air. The honorable member for Watson will be here when the matter is considered. Let me say - perhaps I had better not say it, because the information about the honorable member’s actions that has come into my possession makes it perfectly clear that he was not in the building for the purpose mentioned by the Opposition.
Question put -
That consideration be deferred in regard to this matter until next Tuesday.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page . 1060).
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Meetings of the board).
.- This clause provides for the repeal of subsection8 of section 9 of the principal act, which reads as follows: -
If the Chairman or other person presiding at any meeting of the Board dissents from any decision of the Board at that meeting and signifies at that meeting to the other members present in person his intention to bring his dissent to the notice of the Minister and, within twenty-four hours after the close of the meeting, transmits to the Minister notice of his dissent together with full particulars of the decision, the decision shall have no effect unless the Minister approves the decision (whether with or without variation) and, if the Minister approves the decision subject to a variation, the varied decision as so approved shall be deemed to be the decision of the Board.
That power gives to the people, and, indeed, to the egg producers, a substantial protection against any abuse that may creep into the actions or activities of the Australian Egg Export ‘Control Board. In my opinion, and in the opinion of the Labour party, that is an essential safeguard in view of the vast powers which, in the very nature of things, are vested in this authority. After all, eggs are one of the basic foods of the people of this country and of the people abroad to whom our surplus eggs are exported. If at any meeting of this authority the egg pro-‘ ducers, who have majority representation on it, should do anything, either conciously or unconsciously, against the interests of the community then, in my opinion, it is essential that the chairman should have the opportunity to dissent from the decision and to convey that dissent to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, with his reasons for it. The Minister should he empowered by this Parliament to agree or disagree with the board’s decision. This safeguard, which was inserted in the legislation in 1947 by the Labour Government, is not dissimilar from other safeguards inserted in other acts by anti-Labour governments. The power vested in the Chairman and the Minister is not an autocratic power. It is a protection given to the community against the misuse, by an authority such as this board, of the vast powers vested in it. The Parliament established this authority, and referred to it certain powers that are normally the powers of the Minister concerned. The authority takes over from the Minister the details of administration and is given vast powers of control over its own activities. In these circumstances, unless this Parliament empowers the Minister to exercise the authority that I believe the community would expect him to be able to exercise in cases of abuse, then the principle of final parliamentary control is nullified.
In my second-reading speech I mentioned a proposal that was made, no doubt in good faith, by the Egg Export Control Board during my term of office as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the Labour Government. The board proposed the export, of eggs on consignment. The Minister may not agree with my view, which is that the export of all primary products, particularly to the Far East, is now an extremely dangerous procedure. On that occasion I exercised ministerial authority to ensure that the shipment of eggs on consignment would not proceed. The Minister may agree with that action, or he may approve of such shipments. After all, the present Minister will not always be in office, and he may be succeeded by one of a different political faith. All Ministers, whatever their political outlook, have a sacred trust vested in them by the people to ensure that no separate authority that has been given vast powers by the Parliament shall do anything, consciously or unconsciously, that might endanger the welfare of the people. For that reason, the Opposition will vote not only against the proposed repeal of sub-section (8.) of section 9 of the principal act, as provided for in clause 4, which involves the relinquishment of that ministerial power, but will also vote against other clauses that affect ministerial power. Later, during the debate on other measures, I shall give other illustrations of cases in which ministerial power has been exercised in the past. In fact, I might as well give another illustration now apropos the subject under discussion. The Meat Export Control Act 194G conferred powers similar to those conferred by the Egg Export Control Act.
– A bill to amend that act will be before the committee later.
– That is so, but I am giving this illustration because it is relevant to the debate on this bill. The Meat Export Control Act has similar provisions to those contained in this measure. It contains, also, provisions for the exercise of ministerial authority. I shall give the committee a concrete illustration of the exercise of ministerial authority in relation to the Meat Export Control Board, which, like the Egg Export Control Board, has vested in it, by legislative authority, the right to license people to handle or export the products of primary producers. That authority may, for reasons that it deems fit, refuse to issue a licence to an applicant to handle, pack and carry out the actual physical export of meat. The Meat Export Control Board also has the right, under the powers vested in it, to licence works for the preparation of meat for export and, if it so decides, can refuse to issue a licence for that purpose. On one occasion in Victoria an individual who had applied to the board for a licence for his works to engage in the handling of meat for export was refused a licence by the board, acting conscientiously and in pursuance of the power vested in it. That individual appealed to his federal member, to whom he looked to obtain for him redress for what he considered to be an injustice. His federal member, who is a member of the Australian Country party to which the Minister for Commerce, and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) belongs, came to me as Minister and told me that he considered that the man concerned was the victim of an injustice. He gave me the facts and asked me to investigate the matter. I said to him, “ Do you remember what you did and said when this act was before the Parliament, and how you criticized the provision that enables the Minister, in certain circumstances, to veto a decision of the board? Do you want mc to veto the decision of the board in relation to this man’s case ? “. He said, “Yes”. I asked the Meat Export Control Board why it had refused an export licence to that individual, who had purchased a large meat-packing establishment. The answer was that during the war the man concerned, who did not, at that time, own the establishment, had been convicted of blackmarketing sausages or some such commodity. It is undesirable that anybody should blackmarket sausages, but in this instance, although the courts ot Victoria had imposed the requisite penalty for the offence, the Meat Export Control Board imposed an additional penalty by refusing the man the right to engage in the export of meat. I did not stand for that sort of thing and, in accordance with the expressed wish of the member of the Minister’s own party, whom I can name, I issued an instruction to the board that the works were to be licensed to engage in the export of meat, with one proviso - that its owner should comply with the health and sanitary requirements laid down by the board and the State. That is not a case of abuse of ministerial authority. It is a concrete case in which a citizen was the victim of an injustice in that he was made to suffer a second penalty for a crime for which he had already paid the penalty. My action had the concurrence of a leading member of the Minister’s own party, which is now proposing to eliminate this protection. The honorable member concerned was the former member for Bendigo, who is now Chairman of Committees in the Senate, who will confirm the truth of my statement.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– There is a vital principle at stake in this matter which has been discussed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The honorable member sug gested that it would benefit the public if a Minister had overriding control of the Australian Egg Board. In the past all political parties have paid lip service to the principle that where a commodity like egg’s is to be marketed, the body that deals with the product should consist of a majority of representatives of the people actually engaged in the industry. Section 9 (8.) of the Egg Export Control Act 1947, provides that where the chairman disagrees with the members of the board, the Minister’s views shall be taken into consideration, and shall prevail. Section 5 (2.) of the principal act provides that the board shall consist of one producer representative for each State, two persons with commercial experience, one person to represent employees in the industry and one to represent .the Australian Government. Therefore, the present act embodies two important principles. The first is that there should be a majority of actual producers on the board, and secondly that the board shall be subject to ministerial control. Hanging over the heads of the majority of the producers is the threat that if they disagree with the chairman, who is the mouthpiece of the Minister, the Minister can veto any decision they make. Therefore, they ‘ know that it is of no use for them to decide to do anything with which the Minister may disagree. The most vital principle in the whole of this discussion is whether the producers who own the goods that are to be dealt with, are to control their own affairs The argument of the honorable member for Lalor is fallacious, I suggest, because a Minister can always make a mistake, and in the past has done so. In fact, I believe that a big mistake was made in the negotiations about the price of wheat. As one mistake was made, so others can be made in the future.
The producers of the goods should be allowed to manage their own affairs and should not be subject to ministerial authority. Last year the Australian Egg Board sold eggs to the United Kingdom at 3s. 3d. a dozen, when the cost of production was 4s. Id. a dozen. Therefore, the eggs were sold for lOd. a dozen less than the cost of producing them.. Consequently, last year when eggs were sold in Sydney for 6s. a dozen about ls. of that price had to be paid by the Sydney consumers to offset the loss sustained on eggs sold in Great Britain. From that it will be seen that the work that has to be done by the Australian Egg Board is very difficult. It has been said that on a board such as the one contemplated by the bill, there should be representation of all sorts of interests. The principal act provides that employees shall be represented on the board, and that there shall be two representatives of commercial interests. Perhaps that is satisfactory, but I strongly urge that the persons who actually produce the goods should have the majority representation. Let me ask honorable members whether it is desirable that the producers should deal with goods that they have produced by their own efforts, or whether somebody else is to take their affairs out of their hands. If honorable members opposite consider that it is desirable to protect other interests, I suggest to them that there are plenty of well established authorities to afford such protection. I appeal to all honorable members not to try to muddle the issue now before the committee, as other issues have been muddled in the past. It costs the country enormous sums of money to maintain the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, State prices authorities, the Commonwealth Statistician and other authorities, all of which are capable of looking after the extraneous interests mentioned by honorable members opposite. There is no need to duplicate the functions of those bodies by putting representatives on an Australian Egg Board to carry out duties that those authorities are eminently fitted to discharge. Because of what Mr. Justice Foster did in November, 1950, the price of eggs had to be increased-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) said that there had been muddled thinking. I am of the opinion that the Government’s thinking is decisively addled. The honorable member suggested that there should be no ministerial control in a matter of this sort, but that the protection of certain interests should be left to State prices Ministers and other authorities. If there were a system of Commonwealth prices control there might be something in his argument, but he wants to have the advantage of Commonwealth legislation for orderly marketing, but desires the Government to take the responsibility for any mistakes that an independent board might make. There has been trouble in Victoria over the marketing cf eggs, because no ministerial authority is exercised there. The same thing can happen in the federal sphere if there is no Minister with authority to make a decision in the public interest. The public must be protected, and the majority of the members of the board will think not of the public interest but solely of their own selfish interest. They will try to get the greatest price possible for their product regardless of the effect on the community. If it were not for organized marketing, the producers of eggs would still be at the mercy of the middle-man. Now they have the advantages of organized marketing they must realize that the production and price of eggs depend upon wages and other factors, and therefore directly affect the public interest. I hope I am correct when I say that the Minister still maintains his authority in respect of the Australian Wheat Board. It is decidedly anomalous that, in the matter of the export of eggs, the honorable member for Macarthur should contend that there is no need for ministerial authority. The Government must be consistent. Which principle is correct? Is it correct, as in the case of the Australian Egg Board, that there should be no ministerial control, or, as in the case of the Australian Wheat Board, that control should be exercised? It should not be thought that I see anything wrong with such control. I am merely replying to the burden of the honorable gentleman’s speech, which seemed to be that the Minister cannot be trusted to do the fair thing by producers.
– No, it was not.
– I thought that that was the whole burden of it. It seemed to me that the honorable member was contending that the Minister might do something which would be detrimental to the interest of egg producers. It is just as logical to assume that if the producers are not subject to ministerial control, gogetters and racketeers will be able to establish themselves and seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the general community.
– The industry should be subject to economic laws.
– I take it that the honorable gentleman refers to a policy of laisser-faire, with which we on this side of the committee definitely do not agree. The members of the Australian Country party should be the last people in the world to advocate such a doctrine in connexion with the sale of primary products. Primary producers require organized marketing and socialized banks, such as the Commonwealth Bank, to help them to handle their affairs.
It is true that the egg producers are entitled to consideration for the services which they render to the community, but they are not the only people concerned in the industry. The people who work for them for seven days a week must also be considered, and so must the consumers of eggs. In conclusion, I point out to the honorable gentleman that when he thinks only of egg producers he forgets that it is not the poultry farmers who really produce the eggs but the hard worked hens that they own.
– I appreciate that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is an authority on eggs. Was it not he who, only recently, said that he would scramble the eggs and let honorable members on this side of the committee unscramble them ? Did he not, on another historic occasion, refer to plucking feathers from the fowl and the difficulty of putting them on again ? I wish to deal with fresh eggs and not the kind that the honorable member handles from time to time. I can appreciate that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), having been Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, has a distinct objection to the proposed amendment of the legislation, because he loves power and delights in pushing around people, such as poultry-farmers. Perhaps he has gazed into the crystal ball and thinks that the time is not far distant when he will again be Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and able to push the poultry-farmers about as he did previously. He longs for that day to come.
A large section of ‘the poultry-farming industry of New South Wales is contained in my electorate. I think I may say that those engaged in the industry are opposed to too much governmental control and do not relish the idea of the industry being under the whip hand of a Minister of the Crown. If the measure with which the committee is dealing removes, to some degree, ministerial and governmental control, in my opinion the producers of eggs will welcome it. Section 8 of the principal act is a vicious provision because it gives to the chairman of the board, who is the government nominee, power to veto decisions of the board, although the members of that body, in the main, represent the industry. The honorable member for Lalor has contended that if that provision is removed from the act a principle will be infringed and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will then be able to evade his responsibility. That, of course, is not so, because sufficient authority will remain to enable the Minister to deal adequately with any situation that may arise. Perhaps the honorable member, thirsting for power as the average socialist does, views the position not in the light of what the producers want, but in the light of what he, as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, would require the industry to do. In the opinion of the Government, the removal of this provision from the act will eliminate the power of the chairman of the board, who is the government nominee, to rush to the Minister and say, “ The board will not do as I tell them. I therefore want you to assert your ministerial control “. If that provision is not removed, the wishes of the board can be set at naught by the government nominee, the chairman.
By virtue of section 8 of the principal act, the Government has complete control over the export of eggs. In my opinion, the representatives of the producers should have some say in that matter.
Even after the repeal of section 8, ample power will remain in the hands of the Minister.
– Then control is not to be removed?
– If the honorable member turns to section 13 of the principal act, he will see that the board has power “to make representations to the Minister in relation to the making of regulations for the purpose of regulating the export of eggs from Australia “. The section then proceeds, under three or ‘four different headings, to set out the power that resides in the board. I therefore maintain that even though this vicious section is abolished, adequate provision will remain to enable wise and just administration of the act generally.
In the main, the poultry-farming industry does not want boards. It would prefer to get along without too much control, but where the necessity arises for a board to be established, it believes that those engaged in the industry should be given proper and adequate representation. Because I think that this bill provides for such representation, I am disposed to support it. I appreciate the socialistic views of the honorable member for Lalor, but I am amazed that, like an owl in the night, he cannot help invading the poultry-farming industry.
– It appears to me not to be a sufficient argument to say, as the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) has said, that the representatives of the poultry industry do not want ministerial control. That, perhaps, would be a sufficient argument if the members of the industry were establishing a voluntary organization of their own, in which event they could themselves determine how it should be controlled. In this case the poultry industry is receiving immense advantages from an act of Parliament. Those advantages and the tremendous powers involved in them should not be conveyed by the Parliament without proper safeguards against their unfair use. As the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has said, it is perfectly true that without legislation of this kind producers would be, as they formerly were, at the mercy of middlemen. Legislation of this kind has given them very great benefits. But producers cannot expect to have the benefit of a parliamentary charter, which gives them these great protections and, at the same time, expect the Parliament to divest itself of power to protect those who could be immensely injured by the unfair exercise of such power. I agree with the general idea that producers should market their own products; but to confuse it with the idea that Parliament should give a blank cheque to producers’ representatives on a board of this kind appears to me to be very wrong. The members of the Australian Egg Board are experts in the production and marketing of eggs. They are not in any way specially suited to exercise responsibility for ensuring that there shall be no victimization or unjust treatment of any dealer or producer in the industry. That still remains the responsibility of the Parliament, which must always reserve to the Minister, as the representative of the Parliament, power to protect individuals or minorities in the trade who might otherwise be very severely victimized. The honorable member for Lalor has given a concrete example df the need for such power. Many others could be given. It has been said that all power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If we give to a board composed of men who are experts in their own occupation, but who have no special knowledge of or training in matters dealing with the rights of individuals, supreme power over all those engaged in an industry, we open the way for the board to act tyrannically and to impose sanctions on individual farmers and dealers who, for some reason or other, may have merited or incurred the displeasure of some of its members. The Parliament should be careful about the transfer of such immense powers. They should be transferred only with reserve power residing in the Minister, who is the representative of the Parliament, to examine the manner in which those powers are exercised.
– It is disappointing to discover that apparently not one Opposition speaker has read the bill or listened to or read my secondreading speech, or, having read it, understood it. The simple words that I used in my speech could not possibly be misunderstood. The bill makes it clear, and my second-reading speech made it crystal clear, that an adequate measure of ministerial control will remain.
– Ah !
– “ Ah ! “ says the honorable member, trying to pretend that this is a secret that has now been brought out from a dark corner. Here are the words of my second-reading speech-
– We are dealing, not with the Minister’s speech, hut with the bill itself.
– In my secondreading speech I said -
The Government is in agreement with the industry on this point and considers that there is ample .protection of Government and industry interests in the remaining sections of the act in that the major powers of the board are still subject to the direction of the Minister.
– Ah !
– Was the honorable member not present in the chamber when I said that? Can he not understand simple language, or does he regard it as his business to distort what I have said?
– The Minister affirms a principle in one place and rejects it in another. In the press he affirms the principle of ministerial control ; in the Parliament he rejects it.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Adermann).Order !
– The honorable member is committing an act of political dishonesty. He has been found out and now he is trying to cover it up. As I have said, the necessary degree of ministerial authority will remain. I should think that a former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture would understand that this measure has nothing to do with the protection of Australian consumers whose interests are protected, or otherwise, by the State egg boards. There is no freedom of trade in eggs in Australia. Most States - at one time every State - controlled eggs through their prices authorities. The State prices authorities release and reimpose prices control on eggs so frequently that I cannot say from memory what is the present position in each State. This measure deals only with the orderly export of eggs that are surplus to Australian requirements. When this bill has been passed the act will still retain the vital words “ on behalf of the Commonwealth and subject to directions of the Minister “. Apart from the attempts made by Opposition members to distort the simple language of the bill and the remarks which I made in my secondreading speech, this debate has highlighted the fundamental difference between the approach of the Labour party and that of the Government parties to the ownership of property. We believe that property which is surplus to the requirements of the Australian people should be disposed of in an orderly manner by the chosen representatives of the people who own it, and that the rninimum degree of interference should be indulged in by the Government in such disposal actions. The honorable member for Lalor said in his secondreading speech, which I regret that I did not hear but which I have since taken the trouble to read, that on occasions he was obliged to interfere with decisions of the Australian Egg Board. He cited an instance in which he reversed a decision of the board to export eggs on consignment to .Singapore. On that occasion did he have recourse to the power contained in the clause with which we are now dealing? My departmental advisers have informed me that he did not do so.
– I intimated to th: board that I have the necessary residual power to vary its decision.
– The honorable gentleman had recourse to a power which will still remain in the act. His words illustrate the fundamental difference in the thinking of Government supporters and of members of the Opposition on this matter. In the case of the eggs that were to have been sent to Singapore, the board was comprised of representatives appointed by the previous Minister. By an amendment that I have since introduced and had passed through the Parliament,the board is now elected by the producers. Several persons have been appointed to the hoard because of their commercial experience. After consulting their own judgment, they proposed to send some eggs to Singapore on a consignment basis.
In that case, the Minister told them that they could not do so. The Minister was able to override a decision that they had made with regard to a consignment of their own produce. That is a classic example of the socialist’s approach to these matters. According to the socialist, all property is regarded as the personal chattel of the bureaucratic office. This Government will not have a bar of such practice. If persons, using their own labour and risking their own capital, produce something surplus to Australia’s requirements and desire to export it subject to the appropriate authority, we do not propose to stop them. The reserve power will still exist. But this extraordinary and incredible provision that we propose to withdraw goes further. It states.
If the Chairman or other person presiding at any meeting of the Board dissents from any decision of the Board at that meeting and signifies at that meeting to the other members, present in person his intention to bring his dissent to the notice of the Minister and, within twenty-four hours after the close of the meeting, transmits to the Minister notice of his dissent together with full particulars of me decision, lie decision shall have no effect unless the Minister approves the decision (whether with or without variation) and, if the Minister approves the decision subject to a variation, the varied decision as so approved shall be deemed to be the decision of the Board.
Hitler took no more power to himself than that. Neither did Stalin nor Malenkov. The meaning of the section is, in effect, “ Produce what you like and the Minister will tell you what to do with it. You can elect your chosen representatives and tell them what to do with, their own property, but if the Minister does not like it, he will alter it. The law provides that the alteration shall not read as though it were the Minister’s decision but the board’s decision “. That is intolerably autocratic, dictatorial and totalitarian, and this Government will not have it. “We are taking the first opportunity to remove those provisions. The primary producers should clearly understand that that is the attitude of this Government and they should contrast it with the attitude of the only alternative government to that which is now in office. That alternative government is likely to say at any time, “ You may grow wheat today freely for 12s. to 13s. a bushel, but we will take your wheat and, for some political reason, sell it for 5s. 6d. a bushel to a fellow Labour government in New Zealand.” That is not a flight of imagination, but the story of an actual experience.
– We quoted export parity on the day of sale.
– -The Labour Government did nothing of the kind.
– Why does not the Minister get away from the matter and back on to the bill?
– These statements burt honorable members on the Opposition side. If they had enough wit to keep clear of a declaration of their own policies they might pull the wool over the eyes of the primary producers, but first they show lack of knowledge of the measure that is before the committee and, secondly, they expose their socialist doctrinaire intentions. Then they sneer because I direct attention to them. They ask me to get on to something else.
.- The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) became very excited after I had clearly illustrated that he stands indicted as a man who in the press and before the organized primary producers of Australia, at election time in particular, loudly advocates the removal of all ministerial power over boards that control the produce of primary producers. That is a clear concise statement of fact and the Minister himself will not deny it.
– It is quite untrue.
– A few minutes ago, when chided with removing a safeguard that was incorporated in the legislation of 1947, he protested that while it was true that he proposed to remove a portion of ministerial power, he would still retain ample ministerial power for all purposes. The Minister reveals himself, as always, as “ Mr. Facing both Ways “. Where does the Minister stand ? He is a man who proclaims one policy in certain circumstances and denies it absolutely in others. For once the Minister has been nailed down firmly in such a way that he will never escape. What does he propose to retain? He will retain, unaltered by this amending bill, the powers that were incorporated in the Labour Government’s legislation of 1947. I do not need to indulge in personal abuse about the Minister’s ignorance or lack of knowledge. I am stating a fact as shown by section 13 of the Egg Export Control Act 1947, which states -
In addition to any other powers which are conferred by this Act, the board shall have power -
to make recommendations to the Minister in relation to the making of regulations for a purpose of regulating the export of eggs from Australia ;
That means power to make recommendations for the making of regulations.^ If the Minister refuses to make regulations, eggs cannot be exported from Australia. If that is not a dictatorial power in its relation to the Minister, I should like to see one. In my opinion it is a sensible power but from the point of view of the Minister it is dictatorial and absolute. The section continues -
The board may make recommendations as to the quality, standards and grading of eggs to be exported from Australia and if the Minister does not like the recommendations and is not prepared to gazette them, they do not come into effect. Therefore they do not work. The section continues -
Then follows another clause, but wrapped up in the unaltered section is sufficient dictatorial power, placed in the hands of an administration, whether it be Labour, Liberal or Australian Country party, to wreck the egg export industry of Australia if it is abused. No Minister would be so stupid as to abuse the power contained in this provision. The Minister will not deny the truth of my statement in this speech.
– I dealt with that matter in my second-reading speech.
– ‘When the Minister speaks in this chamber, he emphasizes that he has retained ministerial control over a marketing authority, but over a long period, he has assured primary producers that such authority should be removed from the act in order that marketing boards may be protected against a socialist administration. Hia argument is vapid nonsense.
I have said a good deal about the Minister, and I shall now say a few words to the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler), who stated that the poultryfarmers had been “ shoved around “. T inform him that they are being “shoved around” by the present Government. The preceding Labour Government introduced the Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill, and established the Australian Wheat Board. That authority was dominated, and, indeed, is still dominated, where necessary, by the Minister of the day with respect to certain matters. Conditions were laid down under the. act regarding the supply of wheat to poultryfarmers
– I rise to order. If the honorable member for Lalor is permitted to debate the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act, I shall desire to reply to him; but I suggest that he is not in order in discussing wheat legislation when egg legislation is under consideration. I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to rule that the honorable member should confine his remarks to clause 4 of the bill, which deals with meetings of the Australian Egg Board.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr. Chairman, I point out that the honorable member for Mitchell was permitted to refer to the position of poultry-farmers. He said that they had been “shoved around”.
– When the egg board was subject to ministerial direction.
– The poultry-farmers were provided with wheat at the homeconsumption price until this Government increased the price.
– We do not want a long debate on wheat prices at this stage.
– I uphold the point of order.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Contracts relating to shipment and insurance of eggs).
.- This clause repeals section 15 of the Egg Export Control Act 1947, which reads as follows : - (1.) After such date as is notified in the Gazette by the Minister on the recommendation of the Board, a contract for -
All the talk we have heard about the need to remove ministerial control in order to protect a marketing authority from a socialist government is sheer nonsense. Under proposed new section 15, the owner of eggs for export will completely lose control over them, and the eggs themselves will lose their identity. Under the act, direct ministerial authority over licensing, or granting approval to persons to export eggs, is clear. From time to time, complaints have been made to me about the activities, for example, of the Australian Apple and Pear Board. I have been told that the board has refused to grant licences to certain persons to export apples and pears. A similar position could arise regarding the export of eggs. The Australian Egg Board could refuse the application of a person to be licensed as its agent to handle, pack and prepare eggs for shipment. The Board, by rejecting an application, may do a person a substantial injustice, but under this bill, he will have no right of appeal, or other form of redress. It is true that be could complain to the Minister that he had been done an injustice, and the Minister might agree with his submissions, but the Minister would not have power, under proposed new section 15, to veto the decision of the board. The attitude of the board might have been as wrong as was the decision of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture when a former member for Bendigo made representations to me as the responsible Minister at the time, and asked me to veto it. The issue at the present time is not socialism or capitalism. It is a matter of protecting the rights of citizens. I am merely asking for the retention of a principle which, the Minister frankly states, he has retained for other purposes.
– Mr. Chairman- [Quorum formed.]
Once again the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) is “ off the beam “. He has spoken about licensing. This clause has nothing whatever to do with licensing. I repeat that it would be useful if the honorable member read the bill and endeavoured to understand its provisions. I am informed that the re-wording of section 15 has. been undertaken, not as the result of a policy directive given by myself or the Government but as the outcome of a suggestion of the Parliamentary Draftsman and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. I ask the committee to accept my assurance that section 15 of the principal act is not substantially altered by the amendment.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 (Finance).
– I did not hear the second-reading speech of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) on this bill, but I understand that he offered some criticism of this clause, which authorizes the Australian Egg Board to transact its banking with the Commonwealth Bank or a private Bank. This will add after the words “ Commonwealth Bank of Australia “ the words “ and may open and maintain with any other prescribed bank”. I gather that the honorable member’s criticism of this provision is that it will authorize the board, in certain circumstances, to transact banking business with a bank other than the Commonwealth Bank. The reason for the alteration is not a policy reason. It is a practical reason. The board may wish to carry on its activities in some localities in which banking facilities are not provided by the Commonwealth Bank. That is the only reason for the change. Provisions of this kind have existed in marketing legislation since 1924. I cite, for instance, the Dried Fruits Export Control Act and the Canned Fruits Export Control Act. This is no affront to Labour policy. Indeed, in the Labour Government’s measure to establish the Australian “Wool Realization Commission, that body was specifically empowered to bank other than with the Commonwealth Bank. Similar authority was conferred on the Australian Whaling Commission. Therefore, once again I am quite unable to reconcile the criticism offered by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) with the past performances of his party.
.- Certain circumstances warranted the inclusion in the whaling industry legislation of the provision to which the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) has referred. There are reasons why, on some occasions it is necessary to enable certain organizations to bank with private banks. That necessity was recognized by Labour when the Australian Whaling Commission and the Australian Wool Realization Commission were being established. But no such authority was considered necessary in the Egg Export Control Act of 1947. If the Minister will look at section 17 of that measure, he will find that the board is requiredto bank only with the Commonwealth Bank. I have not heard any complaint that the board has been unable to do its work effectively because of that limitation, or that reasonable banking facilities have not been provided by the Commonwealth Bank. However, I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance on this occasion. I am somewhat dubious about accepting it. but the Opposition has not the numbers necessary to insist upon the retention of the existing provision. I gather from the Minister’s explanation that the Government does not intend that the board should, as a matter of policy, transfer its business to the private banks, and that, in the main, the banking business of the board will remain in the hands of the Commonwealth Bank. Is that so?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Last night, when I was endeavouring to bring a couple of matters to the notice of the House, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), in his usual style, moved the closure. I have been rather disturbed of late by misleading and evasive replies that have been given by Ministers to questions. Not long ago I had occasion to draw attention to an evasive reply given by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) in relation to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. The Postmaster-General, through his representative in the Senate, Senator Cooper, had declared that he had received the report, and then, some weeks afterwards, when questioned by the Actors and Announcers Equity of Australia, he said that he had not obtained it at all. I now refer to another instance in which the Minister has refused to give information which, in my opinion, should be supplied. I have been endeavouring to assist a Mr. William Mathers, of No. 3 Simpsonstreet, Mosman, New South Wales, who, in my opinion, has been denied justice by the Repatriation Department, and is suffering as a result of a very harsh interpretation of the provisions of the Repatriation Act. As I have mentioned the circumstances of this case in the House before, I shall re-state them only briefly. Mr. Mathers and his brother served in the same unit and in the same capacity continuously for the duration of World War II., with the exception of one fortnight when one of the brothers was in hospital suffering from pneumonic influenza. They left Australia together, served as stretcher-bearers and returned together. Each of them came back to this country with a badly affected heart. One of the brothers has been granted a totally and permanently incapacitated soldiers’ pension, but the other has been denied justice. Strangely enough, his application was rejected on the ground that his complaint was hereditary. That seems to be rather peculiar reasoning particularly in view of the fact that the onus of proof is upon the department. I wrote to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) and asked him a number of questions concerning this case because I considered that the matter should not be allowed to rest where it was. My questions were as follows: -
Was Mr. Mathers’ application rejected on the ground that his heart condition is hereditary?
Does his brother, the Rev. T. Mathers, receive a T.f.I, soldiers’ pension for accepted wai disabilities, including a heart ailment?
Did these two brothers serve as stretcher bearers with the same unit, and have almost identical war service?
Have Drs. Whiston Walsh, of 10 Princestreet, Cronulla, J. B. McKenzie, of 15 Lordstreet, Roseville, and J. R. Barriskill, of 88 Percival-road, Stanmore, under all of whom Mr. Mathers served, submitted statements supporting his claim?
Have supporting opinions also been furnished by Drs. Graham and J. Shelton, both of Macquarie-street, Sydney
It will be seen that there was a mass of medical evidence to support this man’s claim that his condition was due to his war service. First, there was the evidence of the three medical men who were officers in the unit in which the Mathers brothers served, and therefore had full knowledge of the service they rendered and the conditions of service. In the opinion of those medical men, the heart condition was due to war service. That opinion was supported by two specialists whose opinions were later sought by the applicant. In. reply to my first question the Minister denied that the application had been rejected on the basis that the complaint was hereditary. I have the papers on file in my office, and I have been assured by the applicant that this was the reason advanced to him by the department when his case was previously heard. It is also a matter that is referred to in one of the medical opinions which support’ the case advanced by Mr.
Mathers. Therefore, there can be no doubt that this was the basis on which his application was rejected. The Minister’s answer to my second question was that without the consent of the brother, details of his case could not bo supplied. I wonder whether the Minister would undertake to deal more sympathetically with the matter if the brother would agree to make the details of his case available. Would the honorable gentleman accept the brother’s version of the circumstances ? My third question was -
Did these two brothers serve as stretcherbearers with the same unit, and hare almost identical war service?
The strange reply that 1 received to this inquiry was -
See reply to 2 above.
What earthly damage could the disclosure of such information do to the brother? The Minister’s reply, in my opinion, was completely stupid. He stretched his scruples a little too far when he refused to say whether the two brothers had served together as stretcher-bearers in the same unit and had had almost identical war service. I do not suggest for a moment that the complete file of any individual should be made available without his authority, but surely there could have been no reasonable objection to providing the general information that I sought. The Minister admitted, in response to my inquiry, that three medical officers under whom the two brothers had served had supported the claim by Mr. Mathers. He also acknowledged that the two specialists whom I named in my fifth question had provided supporting opinions.
Do the members of this Government regard the procedure adopted in this case as sympathetic handling of a claim for a war pension? The applicant has produced abundant evidence which, in my opinion, is irrefutable. I recall that the Labour Government of which I’ was a member amended the Repatriation Act in order to alter the basis upon which such claims were handled. We decided that the Repatriation Department should bear the onus of proving that an applicant’s claim was not justified, and that exser.vicemen should not be required to prove their claims. Apparently the fault’ in this instance lies in the administration of the act, not in the wording of its provisions. No doubt this case is typical of many others in which ex-servicemen are not obtaining justice from the Repatriation Department under the administration of the present Government. I suggest that further consideration be given to the application by Mr. Mathers. This unfortunate chap is in a desperate condition, both physically and financially. If the Repatriation Department cannot be induced to award him a pension, the Minister should be able to take action on his own initiative, perhaps as an act of grace, in order to help a man who is sadly in need of aid.
– I direct the attention of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to several important facts associated with the case of Mr. Mathers. I cannot discuss the details of the case, but I am able to say that there has never been less discontent with the activities of the Repatriation Department than thereis at present. The department and the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) have given general satisfaction to ex-servicemen and their organizations throughout Australia. 1 have visited many repatriation hospitals recently in order to moot men who have been wounded in Korea and I have taken advantage, at the same time, of the opportunity to speak to ex-servicemen of the two world wars who are receiving treatment in those hospitals. Every one of the men to whom I have spoken has referred in the highest terms to the treatment that he has received from the Minister for Repatriation and the department. The honorable member for East Sydney said that the former Labour Government had introduced the onus-of-proof provision that is now embodied in the Repatriation Act. His comments on this subject were entirely incorrect. One of the appeal tribunals pointed out, in a report to the Parliament, that the onus-of-proof provision was not being implemented by the Minister of the day. As a result, the matter was referred to the then AttorneyGeneral, who is now the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). The right honor able gentleman acknowledged that the onus-of-proof provision was not being observed, but the then Minister for Repatriation refused to change his attitude. The result was that, when an appeal was made to the electors shortly afterwards, that Minister was defeated. Not very much later, his successor in the office of Minister for Repatriation was defeated at another election. I refer to Mr. Frost and Mr. Barnard. Both of them were thrown out of this Parliament by the people because of their unsympathetic approach to repatriation problems. That is my reply to the honorable member for East Sydney. If the information that he has supplied about the Mathers case is no more accurate than was his statement about the onus-of-proof provision and the administration of the Repatriation Department by the Labour Government, we should be foolish to rely upon it.
Mr.Ward. -What about checking my statements?
– Order! The honorable member has already spoken.
– “Misspoken” would be a better word, Mr. Speaker.
– Mr. Speaker, I direct your attention to the state of the House.
Mr. Speaker having counted the House,
– As the motion for the adjournment of the House has been moved and a quorum is not present, I adjourn the House.
The following paper was pre sented : -
Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of National Development - W. J. Buckridge.
House adjourned at 3.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 March 1953, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1953/19530313_reps_20_221/>.