House of Representatives
10 November 1953

20th Parliament · 2nd Session

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The House met at 3 pm., pursuant to the proclamation of His Excellency the Governor-General.

TheClerk read the proclamation.

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The Usherofthe Black Rod, toeing announced, wasadmitted, and delivered the message thatHisExcellency the Governor-General desired the attendance of honorable members ‘in the Senate ch amber forthwith.

Mr. Speaker and honorable members attended accordingly, and having re- turned,

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Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That leave be given to bring in a bill for an actto amend the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1950.

Bill presented, andread afirsttime.

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address-in-reply .


– (Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Governor-General in the Senate chamber, where His Excellency was pleased tomake a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament, of which I have received a copy. Ashonorable members have copies ofthe Speech, I presume that they do not desire that I should formally read it to ‘the House. It will be included inHansardfor record purposes.




Youhave been called together todeliberate on mattersof importance to the well-being of the Commonwealth.

The session now tobegin willnotbea long one, for weall haveitinmindthat early inthe new year Australia is tobehonouredby avisit from Her Majesty the Queenaccompanied by her husband,His RoyalHighness theDuke of Edinburgh. The devotion of Australians to theThrone is bothdeepand warm.Ithas been shownby wordand deed in bothpeace andwar.Itisnot thespecialprerogativeof any politicalparte, or of any creed, or ofany section of the Australian people. We allknow that from thetimeHer Majestyarrives /among us until the time she departs, she will not only encourage us by giving us a rare opportunity to express to her our feelings of allegiance and of love, but she will also, as we believe, derive encouragement herself for the great responsibilities which it is her historic mission to sustain. As the Royal Style and Titles Act passed by this Parliament earlier this year records, Her Majesty is no stranger in any of her realms and territories, because she is the Queen of each and all of thiem.

Her Majesty has graciously consented to open in person the next session of the Commonwealth Parliament. To that end, the Parliament will be prorogued at the end of the present sittings.

In Korea, the conclusion of :in armistice after a. struggle lasting for more than three years, a struggle which involved Australian forces of al! arms and sad casualties, is of great importance. My advisers wish to pay high tribute to those who have fought under the banner of the United Nations to resist aggression, and who have made great sacrifices in the defence of freedom. It is indeed good that the Korean conflict lias been confined to Korea and that a wider and more devastating disaster has been averted. My advisers will work with the other governments concerned for a negotiated and permanent settlement of the Korean problem, so that what is now an armistice may become a real peace.

In the long run, peace can be secured in a real sense only by honest and patient endevours to remove the causes of misunderstanding and conflict. It is with this basic truth in mind that my Government, having taken the initiative in the Colombo plan in 19B0, has continued to support by money, technical assistance, materials, foodstuffs.” and Australian training for groups of persons from overseas, international efforts for the economic advancement of those nations which are at present under-developed. Human welfare and political stability upon a basis of individual freedom will, we all hope and believe, tend to restrict and ultimately to eliminate the causes of war. It is for this reason that my Government has continued the policy, which ‘has been pursued by all Australian governments since the war, of supporting the United Nations and its specialized agencies, with particular emphasis upon that area of South-East Asia with which we have a close and growing contact.

Although T have the honour to address you to-day as Her Majesty’s personal representative in the Commonwealth of Australia, members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives will. I know, permit me to refer to the fact that much of my own previous service to the Crown has been rendered in Asian countries, the character and problems of whose people have engaged my own attention. These reflections render the expressions of co-operation which I have already made a matter of personal and particular interest and pleasure.

The major legislative proposal which my Government will submit to Parliament will take the form of a comprehensive bill to clarify and consolidate the law relating to the provision of pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits and of medical services. This will provide authority for the further development of registered hospital and medical benefit organizations. It will also provide for the operation of committees drawn from the medical and pharmaceutical professions to assist in the administration of these farreaching health services. My advisers will continue to work in close association with the various professional associations and insurance organizations for the furthering of voluntary health insurance. They believe that the corporate finance resources so developed will protect the people to a substantial degree against the heavy financial burdens which so often result from medical and hospital treatment. The bill will also provide a firm legal foundation for the provision of medical and pharmaceutical services to pensioners.

Discussions have taken place between representatives of my Government a.nd the Governments of the States, and it has been agreed that it is desirable that the Commonwealth and States should take legislative action foi the proper control of the standards of therapeutic substances. To this end, my Government will present a bill to provide standards for such substances and for other purposes connected with this matter.

During the twelve months ended 30th June, 1053, Australia’s international reserves were increased from £302,000,000 to £548,000,000. With this improvement in the balance of international payments, there have been successive relaxations of the restrictions on imports. The larger volume of imports resulting from these relaxations will add to the productive capacity of Australian industry and will contribute to the satisfaction of consumer demand.

Early in the new year, Commonwealth Finance Ministers will meet in Sydney to review matters of mutual interest to the Commonwealth, including balance of payments’ prospects in 1054, progress nf plans for moving towards a system of freer trade and payments, covering the widest possible area, and cooperation in development of the economic resources of the Commonwealth.

It is my Government’s view that much is to be sained by holding important Commonwealth conferences of this kind not only in the United Kingdom but in other Commonwealth countries as well. It is therefore gratifying that the proposal to hold the next Finance Minister’s meeting in Australia has proved acceptable to other Commonwealth countries and a warm welcome is assured for Commonwealth representatives who will attend th, meeting. My advisers are confident that the conference will contribute to the economic advancement of the Commonwealth countries.

My Government, believing that Australian development can be materially assisted by the investment .of overseas capital in suitable industries in Australia, has examined the menus by which taxation obstacles to the investment of such capital can be removed. An agreement designed to eliminate deterrents to investment was concluded by Australia and the United Kingdom in 1040. My Government earlier this year signed with the United States of America a convention of a comparable nature. In addition, conventions to avoid a double imposition by Australia and the United States of estate duty and gift duty have been signed. My advisers will introduce legislation to give the force of law in Australia to these conventions.

My Government has continued membership of the General Agreement on Tariffs ancc Trade. But it has made it known that it regards this instrument as being unsatisfactory in some respects and therefore in need of revision. At the recent session of the contracting parties, it was agreed that they should commence a general review of thi’ agreement in 1954.

The majority of thu contracting parties recently decided to allow Japan to participate in the work of the agreement and formulated a declaration whereby those of its member’ who wish to do so might regulate their trading arrangements with Japan, in accordance with the principles of the agreement. My Govern ment has abstained from any association with this decision.

Within the limits of its present policy f non-discrimination in import licensing matters, mv Government has continued the practice of negotiating bilateral trade arrangements designed to promote friendly commercial relations and to expand our export trade with various countries.

In according reasonable and adequate protection to efficiently conducted Australian industries, either by way of tariffs or by other methods, my Government will rely upon the Tariff Board for advice.

The Tariff Board Act provides for public inquiry into matters referred to it and this provision ensures that the interests of all sections of the community considered by the Government.

The need for a more expeditious procedure for determining Tariff Board inquiries i* receiving consideration and my Government, will, during the course of the present session, ask the Parliament to approve legislation designed to achieve that objective.

My Government intends to refund to wheatgrowers the amount now held in the Wheal industry Stabilization Fund from the tax oi. wheat exported from the 1050-51 crop in No. ,14 po’.d.

Tin- amount of tax is just over £11,000,000 mid interest from thu investment of the fund will bc added. The refund is to lie made because the amount is no longer, required for its original purpose, and it has’ consistently been the policy of my Government not to hold funds contributed by the growers in excess ot the amount legitimately required for the .pur poses of the wheat stabilization plan.

  1. balance of £0,000,000 is being held in thu fluid pending the results of ballots to be con ducted by the States as to an extension of the wheat stabilization plan, and should the growers vote for an extended plan the amount will be retained as the nucleus of a fluid for that plan. My Government has made it clear at all times that the consent of the growers is a first requisite in any plan for wheat stabilization.

The position regarding the supply of agricultural machinery, tractors, chemicals and fertilizers, such as superphosphate and sulphate of ammonia, has improved appreciably during the last twelve months and has considerably aided my Government’s drive to increase food production. Improvements in supplies have been obtained from both local sources and imports from either sterling or dollar areas. In addition- to the aid mentioned above, which is of direct concern to the farmer and grazier, my Government has also helped the Departments of Agriculture in all States through grants to supplement the extension and research services of the various organizations. Grants totalling approximately half a million pounds a year have been made available and approval given to continue the grant Tor the next five years. Such grunts cover the extension services in general and the dairy and tobacco industries in particular.

My Government’s defence policy has been directed to building up and maintaining the strength of the forces in order to sustain our part in the collective defence of the free world. T.n the course of what has been called the “cold war “ Australia 1ms played its .part in the resistance to Communist aggression in Korea, in the combating of Communist terrorists in Malaya, and in contributing to the security of the Middle East. Communist tactics have imposed on the democracies a heavy burden of re-armament but we must accept thi? burden as the price of peace. Accordingly, my advisers are sustaining the permanent forces at their present strengths, while national service, which is making a notable contribution to the physique and trained capacity of Aus tralian youth, is building up the citizen forces and reserves. On the scientific side of defence, the joint United Kingdom-Australia long-range weapons project is proceeding very satisfactorily. The United Kingdom Minister of Supply recently visited the long-range weapons establishment at Salisbury and at Woomera and expressed warm satisfaction with the progress that has been made. During bis visit a new finance agreement was negotiated to cover the project, designed to ensure a more satisfactory basis for sharing costs in view of the increasing amount of scientific and industrial work now being done in Australia.

During October, the first atomic tests ever to take place on the Australian mainland were made at a proving ground north-west of Woomera. The tests were highly successful and were carried out in a spirit of close partnership between the two governments. The United Kingdom scientists had the responsibility for the scientific work associated with the trials, while the site was prepared by

Australian service personnel, an& the Australinn. Department of Supply was responsible for all planning involved, in. the preparation, of the site. To provide as far as. possible against the contingencies of the future, plans for co-operation in British Commonwealth defence are being actively developed between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, while planning is also proceeding between the United States of America, Australia1 and New Zealand under the AnzusTreaty.

Meanwhile, it is gratifying to record that in the field of aircraft production much goodwork has been done, deliveries of Australianbuilt Canberra jet bomber aircraft having already commenced, while deliveries of thiAustralianbuilt Sabre fighter will’ commence early in 1954.

With the improvement in economic circumstances in Australia, my advisers have been able to increase the level’ of the migrant intake following the reduction which- they had reluctantly found necessary to apply during 1952.

In the present programme, British immigration will continue to receive first priority, and, in both British and foreign schemes, the emphasis will’ be placed upon the migration of families. Special arrangements have been made, to provide opportunities for British people to settle in Australia, who, previously, had lacked sponsors for their- nomination.

Tlie intake’ of workers’ of the various nationalities will be closely related to employment opportunities, both as- to numbers and occupations. Particular attention will’ continue to bo placed on the introduction of experienced rural workers; to hern remedy the shortage of suitable farm labour Tlie1 labour needs- of the- basic secondary industries and essential supporting- a-nd service industries have also Been considered’.

The task’ of developing the uranium resourcesof the Commonwealth is being’ vigorously pushed forward By the Atomic Energy” Commission and’ the Bureau: of Mineral’ Resources. Rapid’ progress is being made by tlie commission’s mining contractor, Territory Enterprise* Limited, in the Rum Jungle area, where it fs anticipated’ that the mine will Be in production by the middle of 1954.. In addition to this,, large areas of the Northern Territory are being i radiometrically surveyed from the air, with detailed geological and geophysical investigations on the ground in appropriate cases. As surveys of promising areas are completed those areas will Bo released’ for development By private- enterprise. My advisers believe that, this policy will not only provide a stimulus to our economy But will also ensure that deposit’s of ore are brought into production as quickly ar possible;

When ray predecessor last addressed you, he referred to tlie then grave and urgent problem of coal’ production-.

In. New South. Wales, coal’, production’ is. now adjusted! to tlie: demand’.. Production could, be increased i!£. the. need’, should’ arise’. In other States-, the coal industry is substantially, in thu same condition. Demands ane being, met, stocks are in the. main satisfactory and’ there, is spare producing capacity! which may be called’, upon at. need. Stocks, of. coal at, grass, and in consumers’ hands throughout Australia amount’ to. about. 3,25.0,000 tons!.

In the immediate future, steaming coa’l should continue to bc1 readily available as> required1. Supplies of coking, coal should be. adequate. Only gas coal of. best; quality is likely to be1 in short supply and the use of some substitute coal in gas works will probably continue. The quality of some1 coals- in New South. Wales will be. improved by cleaning plants which are- being; or are shortly to be, installed.

There will be- submitted1 to Parliament a proposal for the amendment of the Navigation Anl! to incorporate new safety measures agreed upon at an- International’ Conference for the Safety of .Life at Sea, in 1948, and the Commonwealth will then- be in a position to ratify this important convention.

The development of the territories of the Commonwealth and the welfare of the indigenous inhabitants remains a prime concern of my advisers. Health and’ education services have been expanded, with special attention to the needs of the native populations. Plans for further expansion will bc. pursued.

In Papua and New Guinea, a measure of local government, has been introduced by the establishment of. a. Legislative Council and the establishment, of local government and village, councils among the native villages. A Local Government Council for Nauruans has also been established.

There has been marked activity in the survey and development of, natural resources and in the” general enonomic advancement of. the territories.

Accordingly, my Government sought and1 was granted at the recent session of the contracting parties of the General Agreement on. Tariffs and Trade a. waiver of certain provisions rel ating to territory products-. As a result,, my Government will he able, in appropriate cases, to accord its special assistance to: products of the.- territory when imported into Australia.

In ad’d’ition. to. the’ major items of legislationto which.- I have already referred, my advisers will– submit to Parliament, other legislative proposals’ tlie most important of which relates to grants to the States’ for the’ purposes of the universities.

In the earnest hope that Divine Provident? may guide your deliberations’ and’ further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. 1 now leave you to the discharge of your high and important duties.

Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -

That a committee, consisting of- Mr. Downer. Mr. Turnbull’, and the mover,, be appointed to prepare- an’- Address-in-Reply to the: Speechdelivered by HSs’ Excellency the Governor1 General, to both. Houses of the Parliament and that thu committee do report this d’ay.

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– I desire _ to ask .the Prime Minister a question tin relation to the Public Service regulation, or regulations, governing .the .adjustment of Public Service .salaries by reference to the cost of living. .1 understand that the Government has .a matter from the Public Service Arbitrator -under consideration which is likely to -result in the submission to .the House of a Public Service regulation. Will the Prime Minister inform me whether that is so? If his answer is in the affirmative,, .can he state when the regulation will be submitted to the House? Finally, will he give an assurance .that .sufficient time will be given to honorable .members to debate the regulation ?

MENZIES.- If ii regulation is involved - and I cannot answer offhand whether it is - then, naturally, it will be subject to the usual rules governing the submission, of regulations, and any honorable member who wishes to move for the disallowance of the regulation may do so.

Dr Evatt:

– The regulation must bc i aided within fifteen, sitting days after it becomes operative. Will it be submitted to the House in reasonable time?

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– Yes, certainly.


– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that he has expressed agreement with the decision to abandon, and the reasons advanced by the Commonwealth Court .of Conciliation and Arbitration for abandoning, the practice followed in this country for very many years of adjusting the basic wage each quarter according to the rise or fall of the cost of living? If so, does the ‘Government propose to take action to regulate profits and dividends on the basis of the ability of industry to pay, or is that practice to apply in respect of wages only?


– The question, of course is highly .argumentative. I have said, .and I. repeat, that the Commonwealth Court of Concilia tiwi and Arbitration has given its reasons for its (Incision-

Mr Haylen:

– The Prime Minister has stated that they were illuminating.


– I strongly suspect that *:lIn ‘honorable member who intersected ‘has not read the reasons. I have found them very illuminating. In any event, they represent the decision of an umpire. We stand for arbitration, and the decision of the umpire.

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– My question ds addressed to the Prime Minister. Because of the sinister threat to Australian workers contained in compulsory unionism, and not overlooking the fact that it cuts right across the principles laid down in the Declaration of Human Rights, will the right honorable gentleman be prepared to use Standing Order i.07 to enable both sides of the House to express their views on compulsory unionism? For the information of the House, I shall .read the .standing order-


– Order ! That will not be necessary.


– I think that the Address-in-Reply debate will provide honorable members with an opportunity to express their views on that important matter.

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– The question that I wish to ask .the Treasurer relates to water charges at Whyalla and Woomera. Will the right honorable gentleman confer with representatives of the South Australian Government and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited with the object of having water supplied to those centres cheaper than -2s. 6d. a 1,000 gallons at Whyalla aud 4s. 3d. a 1,000 gallons at Woomera? I point out that consumers at other centres which draw water from the Morgan-Whyalla line pay a normal rate of ls. lOd. a. 1,000 gallons and an excess rate of ls. a 1,000 gallons. I know that certain small concessions .are granted at Woomera, but, owing to the dryness of the climate there and at Whyalla, the present charges make the cost of gardening to any advantage almost prohibitive.


– This subject concerns the relationship between the Australian Government and the South

Australian Government. Any representations made by the Premier of South Australia to this Government, through the Prime Minister, will receive consideration.

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– My question to the Treasurer refers to the chemical aldrin, which is being used for the destruction of grasshoppers. This chemical is imported, I understand, from dollar sources. Has there been, or is there, any restriction on the use of dollars for the purchase of this chemical 1


– I understand that the New South Wales Government made two applications for the release of dollars for the purchase of this chemical for use in the destruction of grasshoppers. On both occasions, the dollars required were made available. In fact, licences for the importation of all insecticides required for the destruction of grasshoppers have been approved by this Government.

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– Is the Prime Minister aware that the continued export of scrap iron and steel to Japan is having a serious effect upon the iron and steel industry? Is he also aware that the position is becoming so grave that unemployment in iron and steel foundries is threatened? Is it a fact that the continued export of this material will increase the price of steel in Australia? In view of these facts, does the right honorable gentleman intend to ban the export of scrap iron and steel to Japan?


– The matter apparently is so grave that no honorable member mentioned it before the House rose at the end of the last session ! As the newspapers have published something about it, the matter has now become urgent. If, in fact, it is grave, we shall take the necessary steps to conserve Australian resources, just as we did years ago when a Labour government in Western Australia wanted to export to Japan iron ore from Yampi Sound.

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– As many conflicting reports about the employment situation are in circulation, can the Minister for Labour and National Service give the House detailed information about the situation at the present time?

Minister for Immigration · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– There should be no occasion for the circulation of conflicting reports because detailed statements analysing the employment situation are released monthly by my department, in addition to the figures made available by the Commonwealth Statistician. Furthermore, I have kept the House fully informed on the trends of the employment situation in recent months. The figures have disclosed a steady and progressive increase of the demand for labour. The most recent figures put before me, which will be included in the next monthly review, show that at present 35,000 unfilled work vacancies are recorded in Australia and that 32,000 people ari: registered, for employment. The number of persons in receipt of the unemployment benefit is somewhat less than half the number registered for employment. Tn the last fortnight, the number of persons registered for employment has fallen by 5,000. I can only repeat that there is a steady and progressive demand for labour at present.


– Can the Minister confirm or dispute a statement made recently by a. Labour member of the Parliament in Queensland that there are 70,000 unemployed in Australia at present? Can the Minister also give figures relating to the number of unemployed who are employable, as well as figures for the number not fit for employment?


– I can only repeat my statement in relation to persons who have registered for employment with my department’s employment service.

Dr Evatt:

– People who are actually seeking employment.


– Yes, not merely people who are applying for unemployment benefit, but people who register themselves as being available for employment. At the moment such individuals number 32,000. The number of vacancies for work recorded in my department is in excess of 35,000. The number of people who are in receipt of unemployment benefit, or who have registered themselves as available for employment, but would iu point of fact be virtually _ unemployable, would require some sifting out. I may be able to supply a figure that would express the information in terms of percentages. I shall see whether I can do so.

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– My question is addressed to the Prime” Minister. Has the Secretary to the Treasury gone to the United States of America on official business on behalf of the Australian Government? If so, what is the business? If he has gone there to borrow dollars from, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, for how much is he asking? For what purpose will the loan be used ?


– The Secretary to the Treasury has gone to the United States of America, where ho will discuss with the International Bank the problem of dollar borrowings. I am sure nobody would seriously expect me to discuss publicly in advance the matters he will discuss with the bank. Afterwards, he will go to London in order to discuss on an official level matters that will be considered by the great conference of finance Ministers from all over the British Commonwealth that will take place in Australia next January.

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– Has the Minister for Territories any further information about the tragic deaths of two young cadet patrol officers in New Guinea? Is there tiny indication that these unfortunate incidents were the result of a widespread uprising of the natives, or were they isolated incidents in one area? Will the Minister table a report on the matter as soon as possible ?

Minister for Territories · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I have no information about these unfortunate incidents beyond what has been published already. The death of one cadet patrol officer has been confirmed. In the other case, we have at present nothing more than a statement made by natives themselves, boasting that they have killed an officer. We have not confirmed the second death. I should like to make a statement to the House in due course about the circumstances surrounding these happenings.

At this stage, I say quite emphatically that the incidents are not of the nature of a mass uprising or a concerted effort, against governmental influence in New Guinea. They occurred in the vicinity of Telefomin, which is in the far west of the trust territory of New Guinea, over towards the Dutch border, and very remote from the main centres of European influence. It is an area that is still described as not wholly under government influence. As a part of our policy of extending the area of government influence and bringing the people under the control of law and order, we have been conducting patrols in this area. Throughout the three-quarters of a century of European penetration into New Guinea, Europeans who have penetrated into new areas have from time to time encountered hostility from, the primitive and belligerent tribesmen who inhabit those areas. These incidents are of that kind. There is nothing of the nature of a mass movement or a concerted effort. They are incidents of a kind which, unfortunately, have occurred from time to time during the three-quarters of a century of European penetration into New Guinea.

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– Will the Minister for Immigration say whether it is a fact that when a number of German immigrants who were brought to Australia under the assisted passages scheme, on the assumption that they were skilled engineering artisans, were examined by a local trade committee they were found to be totally unsuitable for the work they had been brought here to do ? Will the Minister tighten up the method of selection in order to ensure that when immigrants are brought here under this scheme they will have some knowledge of the trades in which thev will be expected to work?


– In view of the action already taken by the Department of Immigration, in consultation with the Australian Council of Trades Unions, under which suitable people have been sent overseas for the purpose of selecting immigrants, _ I cannot accept the statement that immigrants from Germany brought to this country as recognized tradesmen are totally unsuitable for work in. those trades here. Generally speaking; we have had very little difficulty in: placing, in. appropriate unions! tradesmen who have, been selected in, this1 way.. I believe that it is generally realized, that, the standard of skill of tradesmen in Germany is very high indeed. If the honorable member has any particular cases inmind, I shall be pleased if he- will bring them to my notice so that I may examine them and ascertain whether I nan- take any further action.

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I ask the Minister’ for External Affairs, who teas recently returned from a- visit abroad, whether he will’ maRe an early statement to the House1 about the present world political situation, and refer particularly- to matters that vitally affect the interests- of Australia.-?

Minister for External Affairs · LP

– I shall discuss with the Prime. Minister the advisability of making a statement such as that suggested by the honorable member.


– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware that the Indonesian Government proposes- to proclaim its own continental shelf, which will take in a- great deal of the area of the. continental shelf” already proclaimed by Australia? Is- he al’so aware that the shelf already proclaimed by Australia embraces- certain. Indonesian territories-? If’ he- is not aware of this matter, will’ he investigate it and make a report on it to the House1?


– The. expert, on/ the continental, shelf is not I but. the Minister for Commerce’ and Agriculture; who: has been battling manfully with the matter for several months.. I am. not sure whether the position is; as suggested in the honorable gentleman’s, question, but T shall confer with, my colleague, and check the facts, if the honorable gentleman does not mind me putting, it that way;, and see whether the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and I shall’ be able to unite in. answering the honorable gentleman’s question.

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– Does the Miniate r for the Interior recognize that. Canl -‘i-ra building regulations^ particularly fibrose that deal with electrical and plumbing installations, contribute, to excessive building, costs, in this city ? Will the- Minister consider appointing, a committee of men, who: are outstanding, in Australia, in all phases of building design and construction, to review the Canberra regulations so that they may be brought into line with modern practice?


– I have already arranged for the. Canberra, build ing regulations- to be superseded, by those he force in New South, Wales* and bypart of those that have been, adopted by like- London County Council I made that arrangement because I discovered that the’ Canberra building regulations- were very much out of date, and needed to be brought, into line with modern practice-.. I have given instructions that, the particular regulations, mentioned by the. honorable member should be further investigated in order to. ascertain the action that should lie taken to bring them into, line with modern conditions.

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-. - ?Ey question1 is’ directed to the Treasurer. It has been asserted by a’ number of employees that the’ income tax deductions’ in the new schedules used by employers’ in determining weekly tax deductions from wages- are not similar to the reductions mentioned in the Treasurer’s budget speech. Has the- right honorable’ gentleman made & check- of the percentage reductions’ in such schedules1 compared’ with the percentage reductions ah own in the appendices ri? his budget speech?’1 Ave such percentage reductions in agreement?


– The answer to both questions is “Yes”. The document’s have been checked’ to ascertain whether they are in conformity with the schedules: attached to the budget, and’ it has been found that’ they are, in agreement with them. The doubts raised’ by certain employees are unfounded.

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Mrc. .IEEE BATE. - Will the VicePresident, of. the’ Executive Council inform, the House, whether an appeal-,, associated with, the proposed. Royal visit, has: been, launched for funds to- promote the welfare, of women and .chi’l’dren-?’ Will tlie right honorable’ gentleman discuss* withthe.States. whether, funds-.for this purpose, which are raised in country towns, could, be used in those towns to ensure that the Royal visit, will be remembered more widely?


– I believe that, the honorable member is confusing the Coronation appeal with the Royal visit. I have, no knowledge of . any. appeal in connexion with, the Royal visit, that lias, been made, for funds to promote- the. welfare of women and children. In. case nome such appeal has been, made, I shall institute inquiries and advise him of. the result oft those inquiries at a- later time

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– Was the Minister for the Army consulted prior to the signing last month of. the United. NationsJapanese Protocol on Criminal- Jurisdiction by representatives of. Japan,. Great Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand? Is it true, as claimed, by the. Returned Sailors,’ Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, that this agreement provides that’ an Australian serviceman who breaks any Japanese law will be taken into custody by the Japanese police, will be tried in a Japanese court according to Japanese law and will be sentenced to imprisonment in a Japanese prison? If it is’ true, will the Minister tei! this House the reasons for this complete sell-out. of. our servicemen and. why Australian soldiers who are being, tried or: who have been found guilty of an offence should not be held in military custody instead of in the filth of a’ Japanese prison?


– I have been asked by tlie Minister foi” the Army to answer thisquestion’. The question of criminal jurisdiction over’ Australian troops” in Japan has’ b’een< under’ discussion for at least twelve months. It has been the subject’ of much- correspondence’ and many negotiations in which my- colleagues, the Minister foi- the- A’rmy and the Attorney1 General, and myself have all been concerned’. I regard the’ present arrangement :is ‘a good one.- In Japanese^ courts sitting’ in. criminal’ jurisdiction Australian troops ha ve the same rights as’ American- troops, who. occupy ai rather’ special position in

Japan The- agreement, as the- honorable gentlemans sard; was signed’ recently by the Governments’ of Australia, the- United’ Kingdom, Canada- and’ New Zealand: The specific answer to- the- honora’b’le gentleman’s- question is that, not only h’as Australia been- constantly consulted, but’ also Australian representatives have constantly participated in negotiations over the past twelve months-. This- Government., believes that the arrangement is the best arrangement that could, be. made in. the interests of Australian troops- in Japan.

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– Is the right honorable the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth.. Scientific and. Industrial Research. Organization aware that there is grave concern, at the spread, of . skeleton weed throughout. Victoria, and. in parts of the. South Australian, wheatlands? Will he take steps, to. ensure, that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization uses all the means within its power to assist in the eradication of this pest ?


– I am very well aware of the menace of ‘skeleton weed. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, as well as the appropriate departments of the States in which skeleton weed is found has concerned itself with the menace over many years. I do not pretend that, my information is» up to date, but I shall investigate thematter and inform the honorable gentleman of any recent developments.

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-My question, is: directed, to the Minister for External Affairs. Doest the Government considerDutch. New- Guinea, to be- of strategic importance to Australia? Is- the Government, aware that there are 10,000 Dutch; people living, in Dutch New Guinea and that-‘ there are distinct, possibilities- ofl trade, between Dutch New Guinea and Australia.? Does the Government intend to set up. a small trade commissioner’s office in this; area, or some other type of’ representation, in order to explore thepossibility of fostering trade and, friendly relations with’ this northern neighbour of Australia ?


– Apart from details, the general points mentioned by the honorable gentleman are correct. I am quite sure that my friend and colleague, the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who is extremely diligent about Australia’s interests in all parts of the world, has the matter in mind.

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– I ask the Minister for Works whether it is a fact that in June last the boat’s crew unloaded at Lord Howe Island, on behalf of the Department of Works, approximately 100 tons of material, and received payment for this work at the rate of 3s. 9d. an hour. If that was the case, will the Minister have this anomaly rectified and arrange for extra payment to be made for any such work in future? Will he also arrange that the increase of payment be made retrospective to cover the handling of the materials unloaded last J une ?


– I understand that the payment was made in accordance with the usual practice, and at the usual rates paid in respect of cargoes landed on the island. The honorable member has suggested to me that in view of the fact that the material unloaded was for houses connected with the meteorological bureau, some increaspd payment might be made. I am having the matter investigated, and shall inform the honorable member later of the result.

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– Will the Prime Minister, in view of the fact that the success of the Public Accounts Committee in re-asserting parliamentary control over public expenditure has been limited because the committee’s task is restricted to examining departmental expenditure after the money has been expended, take the matter a step further and establish a new committee to examine in detail, and report on later to the Parliament, the estimates of expenditure proposed by each department, before any of the money concerned is actually expended ?


– Before the Estimates are approved by the Parliament they go before a committee, if one cares to call it that, namely, the Cabinet.

Mr Bryson:

– A most unreliable committee.


– That depends upon the Cabinet itself. I have the greatest admiration for my own Cabinet, but I had an awfully low opinion of the Cabinet supported by the honorable member for Wills when the Labour Government was in office. At present I am bound to tell the honorable member for Fawkner that I see no reason for extending the jurisdiction of the Public Accounts Committee in the remarkable fashion that he suggests. It is doing its work now, and is producing results.

page 14


Address-in -Reply.

Mr. Downer, for the committee appointed to prepare an Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech (vide page 8), presented the proposed Address, which, was read by the Clerk.

Mr. DOWNER (Angas; [8.32].- J. move -

That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General he agreed to: -

We. the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to


I appreciate the honour that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has conferred upon me in permitting me to move this motion. At this particular moment in our history its wording is no mere constitutional formality but is filled with a wealth . of meaning. Her Majesty’s coronation, only five months past, is still fresh in the mind of every one. Many millions of her subjects, whether listening in their homes, or present in that ancient shrine of our race, the Abbey Church of Westminster, will never forget the manner in which she consecrated herself to the cause of religion and to the welfare of her people. And now, within a fortnight, Her Majesty and the

Duke of Edinburgh will depart on a prolonged tour of distant parts of the British Commonwealth, most of which will be pent within our own shores.

Those of us who were privileged to represent this Parliament at the coronation will realize, perhaps in a double sense, the significance of Her Majesty’s impending arrival. It is not so much the historical fact of this being the first occasion on which a reigning sovereign will have come to Australia, but rather is it the influence which her presence amongst us will exert on our national life and the cause which we serve. Every visitor to the mother country this year must have been quick to perceive Her Majesty’s effect on the people of Great Britain during the opening phase of her reign. England to-day is illumined by a new light - a light of hope, confidence, determination and efficiency. These enlivening rays cannot be explained simply in terms of politics or a dramatically improved economic position. They are due in a great degree to the personality, the example, the leadership and the inspiration of the Queen and of her eminent consort, the Duke of Edinburgh. The effect on Australia of these two remarkable personages will be as electric as in England. Their presence will establish a direct personal relationship between sovereign and people never previously experienced by this nation. I think that every honorable member will agree with me that the more Her Majesty moves throughout the British Commonwealth the stronger will become the unifying power of the throne. Seldom before has the need for this unity been so urgent.

Looking in retrospect over the last 25 years it is, I feel, a legitimate criticism of various Dominion governments to say that they have been unduly absorbed in asserting their separate rights and privileges. Every honorable member must hope that that phase is over. It is one thing to be master in our own house; it is quite another thing to be touchy about the fact and to be continually emphasizing it. Surely all will agree that nationalism is an old-fashioned notion, quite out of sympathy with the idea of a collective international society which the world must establish if it is to avoid the extinction of our civilization. What we need now and in the future is to forget about Balfour Declarations and cumbersom complexities such as the Statute of Westminster, and instead redirect the helm and create forces which make for imperial cohesion and organization.

Happily, the Government has given evidence that it is thinking along those lines. The Prime Minister, as we know, has urged repeatedly, in season and out of season, an interchange of personalities between Commonwealth countries and conference rotating in various Commonwealth capitals. The fruits of this policy are already apparent in the cavalcade of British Ministers and others who are coming to our country which will culminate, in January next, in the Commonwealth Economic Conference to be held in Sydney. Further evidence that the Government is working for a policy of Empire integration is the reference in His Excellency^ Speech this afternoon to the revision of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This agreement was originally a well-intentioned but somewhat doctrinaire concept smacking to my mind, of nineteenth century utilitarianism, but it has proved in operation not nearly so beneficial as was anticipated by its progenitors. It is clearly detrimental to some of our exports, and in the intensifying competition for markets, some increase of imperial preference will be necessary if the sterling area is to augment its strength. Her Majesty’s presence in Australia will, I believe, give impetus to this principle of unity among the British peoples of which the foregoing are merely examples. Let us hope that it will cause us, irrespective of party alinements, to turn our backs upon the unduly nationalist policy of the past, particularly of the period between the two world wars and immediately after World War II.

And so far as the Queen and her Australian subjects are concerned, is it too much to ask that Her Majesty, having once come amongst us, will return after an interval of only a few years? When we greet the Sovereign in February, we shall accord her a Royal progress, but Australia would like to feel that periodically, Her Majesty comes to fee .amongst us -as a matter of course, without undue ‘fuss and preparation, and in the discharge of her office as Queen, il am well aware «of the difficulties of .this proposition. One [hesitates to .add to the burdens of Monarchy in a period when, already, they are .becoming too .complex. Canada, South .Africa, New Zealand .-and thu new Federation of Rhodesia .and Nyasaland would .rightly claim .their share of the Royal favour, and .one would wish lt so. But if devolution of functions is possible in the Dominions - or, as the lovers of irritating circumlocution would insist, ,in the independent nations of the Commonwealth - surely the [process .could be made to work on reverse., and .the functions of the .Sovereign <could ,be performed during Her Majesty’s .annual absence of three >months .-from the United Kingdom by in ‘Viceroy or Council of State.

If the British ‘Commonwealth is to continue its development as a vibrant, living organ-ism, we must evolve our constitutional usages in keeping with means provided by scientific inventions. When Queen Victoria travelled from London to Balmoral, the journey occupied the best part of 24 hours. That was only ‘60 years ago. But progress has been such that the journey from London to Sydney will be accomplished in 1954 in only 24 ‘flying hours, or, in sum, less than two days. What seemed fantastic to our grandfathers appears ‘both practicable and necessary to us. War the character, the personality, the -goodness and the inherent spirituality of Her Majesty are such that she is not simply the titular head of her scattered peoples; quickly, she is becoming their actual leader. If her adviser.* .mould circumstances so that she may dwell amongst us, and, ‘by precept and example, directly influence us, this will be a force for imperial unity far more compelling than any military .considerations, trade .pacts, statutes, markets, or the usual appurtenances -of politics and commerce.

In a speech as comprehensive as tha* made by Has Excellency, it is impossible for me to allude to all the salient points. During this session, the time of the Parliament wall ‘be occupied principally with consideration of , the .National Health Bill. I think -.that jail “-honorable members are :aware of -its provisions. It ‘is, in essence, a ‘consolidating measure, .based upon three years’ experience. The Minister for -Health (Sir Earle Page.) has had long .experience in public .life, and .may .be termed the “ Eather of the House “. But in the many .and varied contributions that he has made to Australia’s progress none equals in magnitude .his national health plan. He .began shortly after taking .office by improving the basic .nutrition of the people with .the provision of free milk for young .school children. He then instituted the distribution to -everyone .of free life-saving drugs Next, he succeeded in winning the co-operation -of -doctors ,and chemists - :a cooperation which the previous Government had failed ito obtain. He has devised a system which avoids the pitfalls ;and extravagances ..into which Britain blundered after the last .war. To the needy, especially the ^pensioners, lie has given much. To those in somewhat more fortunate circumstances, medical and hospital assistance, in part, is provided, conditional upon a measure of self-help. In general, the provisions <of this legislation possess much originality and ‘have already won world-wide applause. ‘ Perhaps they may prove more costly to .operate over the years than the Minister -anticipates, -but against that must be offset the increase in -output, because the general improvement in national health will give -rise to an increase .of (national productivity. Undoubtedly, this -great health plan .represents the -right honorable gentleman’s magnum opus,, .and I believe that the House and the country will be :quick to acknowledge the fact.

His Excellency has also made various references to the state of the national economy. No one,can possibly survey the Australian scene with a degree of impartiality without coming to the conclusion iiib at during .the last four years, in .spite of all the intervening controversies, this Government has done well in the result. National income continues to rise; 0111 overseas funds are -satisfactory; the balance of trade lias been rectified to such a degree that one may now ask for the abolition of import restrictions within « relatively short time. The main inflationary ‘forces in the community have ‘been halted. ^Recent -rises in the C series index were .due to ‘seasonal factors, such as the price of -meat and -potatoes, which are ‘not likely ‘to >recur. Anis tralia has -en-joyed a record period -of industrial peace, due to

Some degree to ‘the (Government’s -secret ballots legislation a-nfl also to the sympathetic and tactful ‘administration of the Minister for ‘Labour and National ‘Service (Mr. Holt). Unemployment is lower here than in any .other country. Indeed, the demand for labour considerably exceeds the -supply. (Direct and indirect taxes .’have ‘been sharply lowered in two successive (budgets by «n ‘amount of £200-000,000, and those reductions, together with other substantial concessions, have made Australia the envy of many countries.

But despite these .successes, inevitably t’here are clouds on the horizon. Has the economic outlook of any country .ever been free from ‘blemish? The determined onrush of ‘German and Japanese industrial competition is already manifest, and it .will surely increase within tfe next two years Swollen internal costs are threatening the competitive power of many of -out manufacturers and some of our smaller primary industries. More mid -more we are coining to depend -upon the maintenance of high wool prices for don turned prosperity. Already a cry has gone up for : higher tariffs, and there are rumours in various parts of Australia and a’broad -of -currency devaluation. I hope the ‘Government will stand firm- and refuse to take either course. It was ‘reassuring to hear, in His .Excellency’s ‘Speech, this afternoon, -that Ministers would continue to be guided by the advice of tlie Tariff Board in relation to the tariff. All honorable members who pay -serious attention to this subject will agree, I think, that we ‘will not get out of our difficulties by manipulating tariffs or ‘by juggling with currency. The five components ‘of the industrial realm - management employees, investors, industrial tribunals and governments - must solve this problem by frank, fearless and honest means. It is inescapable -that, -ki the process, some people will be hurt, hut we must propound a solution which will be for the ultimate good of Australia.

Once again may I say how deeply I appreciate the honour of “having ‘been asked to propose this motion. It is particularly -pleasing to ‘me, as I am sure it is to the House, to know that the Address.inReply w’hen approved, will be presented to so gallant, ‘so distinguished and so forthnight -a gentleman as His Excellency, who is already widely a eel aimed as une of the finest representatives o.f the -Sovereign ever to hold office in tins country.


..- I am privileged to .have the opportunity to second the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, which has .been .so well proposed by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer).. In .expressing Jove and loyalty .to Her Majesty the Queen, members of this Parliament know that, notwithstanding party .or creed, they voice the sincere .sentiments of the people of . Australia. His Excellency .the Gover.norGeneral is -appreciated an this .country threefold.: first, because he is the personal representative of Her Majesty the Queen ; secondly, .because in .his own .right -he is rich in magnificent service to the British Commonwealth -of Nations; thirdly, because Australians dearly love a man of action, .especially one who has been associated as closely as His Excellency with our servicemen.

His Excellency encompassed many subjects in ‘his Speech this afternoon. The chief of these has been engaging the thoughts of the people of Australia very fully recently. Throughout Australia, people are looking forward with keen anticipation to the visit of Her Majesty the Queen and her husband, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, and when the Governor-General reminded us to-day that, early in the new year, here at Canberra, the Queen- in person would open this Parliament, we realized that, at that time, this would ‘be the most important part of the Commonwealth of Nations, towards which would turn, not only the thoughts of our British kinsfolk, but ako the interest of countless millions of people in other countries. The Governor-General has said that the Queen will give us encouragement by -providing us with a rare opportunity to show to her our loyalty and affection, and I believe that we, as a people, will not fail to grasp in some measure th. spirit of the will to serve with which Her majesty is so richly endowed. Somebody bas said that half the world is on the wrong track in search of happiness. These people think that happiness consists in getting, in having, and in being served by others. In fact, it consists in giving and in serving. The best illustration and proof of this fact that I know of can be found in a realization and appreciation of the tremendous responsibility that Her Majesty undertook when she pledged herself to serve her people, and of the radiant happiness of her brilliant personality.

The Governor-General’s particular personal knowledge of Asian countries has led him to think and to say that the extension of goodwill and assistance to those countries by such means as the Colombo plan will do much to eliminate, perhaps for ever, the causes of war. This Government has taken the initiative in this regard. Let us in this Parliament thank God that Australia has had abundant seasons and that we have been able to provide the money with which to meet the expense of projects that are vital to the life of this nation and to civilization. T am sure that we all share the hope expressed by the Governor-General that the armistice in Korea will become a lasting peace. Negotiations, as we know, are proving very difficult. Diplomacy and much patience are necessary, but we must be strong, and I believe that the only peace that will have our support is one that will bring happiness and freedom.

I am pleased to know that a full review of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade will take place in 1954. I opposed this agreement at its inception, and I still believe that it is not in our best interests. Support for my belief lies in the fact that recently we bad to seek the waiving of some of its provisions in relation to territory products. “We can be better served by making our own treaties and encouraging trade within the British Commonwealth than by adhering to such an arrangement. I do not advocate, of course, the absolute exclusion of all other countries, because I have always been of the opinion that we have far more to gain from the prosperity of every nation than we can possibly gain from the downfall of any nation. I hope, in relation to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, that there is real significance in the statement that a conference of Commonwealth finance Ministers will soon be held in Sydney. I hope that the Ministers who attend the conference will think over these matters and will make a decision that will be for the good of our country. Although the countries that regard Great Britain as the motherland are divided by seas and great distances, they share a common aim and one sovereign. I do not believe that any logical person could come to the conclusion that they are any more divided than is a nation that occupies a consolidated area on a continent. But, under the agreement, the United Kingdom and the Dominions are regarded as separate entities and are prohibited from giving greater trade concessions to each other than to foreign countries.

I was delighted to hear Mr. Richard Nixon, the Vice-President of the United States o’ America, say, during his recent visit tj ..his country, that he believed Australia presented a most favorable field for American investment, and to hear the Governor-General announce this afternoon that this Government would welcome further American investment, and, indeed, would legislate to bring about conditions to encourage it. His Excellency said also that during the twelve months ended on the 30th June, 1953, Australia’s international reserves increased from £362,000,000 to £548,000,000. That is indeed satisfactory. No producers have .contributed as much to that increase as have those engaged in our primary industries. In support of that statement, I remind the House that, during the twelve months to which I have just referred, farm incomes increased by 33 per cent., or from £431,000,000 to £574,000,000. Well-managed farmlands are still, and are likely to continue to be, our greatest asset. The Government, conscious of that fact, has fostered the production of agricultural machinery, superphosphate and other things that the man on the land must have if we are to achieve full production. The

Governor-General referred this afternoon to another matter of great interest to farmers and graziers when he said that the Commonwealth had assisted the State Departments of Agriculture by making grants to supplement the extension and research services of various organizations to the degree of approximately £500,000 a year, and had agreed to provide a similar sum during each of the next five years. We look forward with confidence r,o the outcome of such a bold step.

The statement by His Excellency that economic circumstances have made possible an increased intake of immigrants, and that British immigrants and family units are to receive preference will, I am certain, meet with general approval, because we all realize that our greatest problem is to increase our population. In this connexion, let me say that I believe the Government has an obligation to maintain the health of our present population. Therefore, I am very pleased to know that there will bc introduced into the Parliament during this session the National Health Bill, the object of which is to preserve the health of our people - the people who are so necessary to the future progress of a country that we hope will be, and is on the way to becoming, a great nation. Another bill that will be introduced, not so significant as the National Health Bill, is designed to amend the Navigation Act. It is concerned with new safety measures at sea. I believe that the greatest loss of life is occurring, not at sea, but on land. It is occurring on our roads. This Government has given large sums of money to the Australian Road Safety Council, which has spent the money wisely. But I believe the real solution of the problem lies in the hands of the people who use our roads. We, as the representatives of the people, should ask road travellers to take care. The busy time of Christmas is approaching, and every member of the Parliament and every person in Australia wants the visit of the Queen to be a time when we can all rejoice. I read recently that the new road safety slogan is, “ Courtesy is Catching “. During Christmas and the visit of the Queen, let the Australian people take the initiative in courtesy. Everybody knows that glaring headlights cause many deaths. I have coined a new definition of a gentleman. It is, “ A gentleman is one who, when motoring at night, will dim his headlights at the approach of the weak light of a cyclist “. Australia can illafford to lose so many citizens in road accidents.

We are proud of the success of our co-operation with the United Kingdom in the atomic tests at Woomera. We all hope that the time is not far distant when this new form of power will be used, not for destruction, but for the benefit and progress of civilization. Although we are rich in goods, I believe we should prize most the intangible things - honour, justice, freedom and devotion to duty - which have been handed down to us by past generations. On this Remembrance Day eve, let us pause to pay tribute to our servicemen for upholding those principles on the battlefields of the world. Our flag will be honoured only while we practice the principles that have made it great. The success of our defence policy, our increased production, our standard of living, the greater peace in our industries and the spirit of co-operation are factors that have contributed to the renewed confidence of the Australian people. The Governor-General has expressed the hope that Divine Providence will guide our deliberations and further the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. May that be so. May we, as a people, recognize the source of all our gifts and, in thanking God, say sincerely, “ Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory “.


.- To-day, the Second Session of the Twentieth Parliament was opened by HisExcellency the Governor-General, Field Marshal Sir William Joseph Slim. This is the first Parliament that he has opened since coining to Australia, and this is thefirst occasion on which the Commonwealth Parliament has been opened by one holding the distinguished rank of Field Marshal. To-night, I am making my maiden speech in this chamber. I deem it a great honour to be able to do so on such an historical and momentous occasion. I should like to state, on behalf of my colleagues and myself, that we areentirely in accord with the sentiments- expressed by. the Governor-General in the opening words, of his address, when he said -

Tlie devotion of Australians to. thoi Throneis beith deep and warm. It has been shown 1/ word and deed iii hoth peace and war. It is not the special prerogative- of any political’ party, or of any creed, or of any section of theAustralian people.

Mr. Dan Mulcahy,, who formerly represented the. electorate of Lang, has passed, on. To-night, I stand in. his place as the choice of the people of Lang. I salute the memory of a staunch and able Labour man’ and parliamentarian. But the fight to preserve the conditions won for the’ people by the Labour party must go on unabated. Consequently, I have been elected1 to take, his place in the Federal Parliament. I am deeply sensible of the honour that has- been bestowed’ on me by the electorate of Lang and1 the. Australian Labour party, and; t pledge myself: to serve them, and Australia, faithfully and well and’ with all the energy and hbility that- 1’ possess;

Australia- is a great nation with a great destiny: Moreover, we have enormous resources. Those resources should be used, not only to better conditions here in- Australia, but also to help the peoples of the world who are not as well placed as’ we ourselves are. Australia hasalways contained- comparatively few people1 but’ vast’ open spaces. It is only natural to- assume that’ the surplus’ population of Great Britain and the refugees’ and’ displaced persons from Germany and other- European countries^ look with long;ing’ towards our land. Those- needy people should be given an opportunity to emigrate to Australia, but, and here: we have to be particularly careful: because we’ do not want to lower our own standards, it is essential for the Government to ensure that our- immigration. policy is efficiently planned and carried out.. Because, of the failure of the present Government, to maintain, full’ employment, arrest inflation and engender confidence among the couple Australia’s intake of immigrants has been drastically reduced. Australia,, with a properly, directed immigration policy, could accommodate many more immigrants.

It has become apparent during the: last, decade that, our rural- industries need revitalizing, and’ it is- the duty of the Gor -urnmenLto ensure, that o.ux future, immigrants shall be. men. and. women, who are willing and capable, of working in. the rural: industries. But fir,st,; those. Austtralians who are anxious to settle, should be. given- their own grants, of land.. There ar.e. many such. Australians,, and in order to< appreciate’ that fact, one has, only to note. the. number, of. ex-servicemen who desire to. be settled- on the land under- the war. service land settlement, scheme. Of course, any system’ which. places; Aus*tralians and immigrants on. the land merely as. wage-earners is. doomed, to failure. Therefore, a system involving the .settlement of working proprietors must be introduced,, and land that is undeveloped or that, is not being fully utilized by its present. owners should, be. resumed and. developed by tlie. Australian Government and distributed, fir.” to Australians who wish, to- settle on the. land,, and then to immigrants with far. ruing experience.. That is a. matter, for co-operation, between the State governments and the. Australian Government. The. development of. new. landsfor new settlement must, take: place concurrently with the resumption of large areas that are lying idle. because. the present ow.ners have- not sufficient. interest in. the; welfare of Australia or in the welfare of, the starving peoples,in other partsof the world to ensure that. their land: is being scientifically- utilized to its: full capacity.

I do not’ want” any one to interpret my remarks as meaning that I’ consider that the’ development - of our secondary industries is unimportant. I’ appreciate the need for- the- encouragement of those, industries, but’ our economy has’ always been- bound- up- with our primary industries, and it is’ time that we. realized: that to allow those industries- to’ take’ second place- is- to. invite disaster. Before leaving immigration- and- rural development. I must’ say that I- consider that it’ is’ time that- tlie: Government took’ some- action t’n prevent the continued acquisition of land by landholders who already possess far greater’ holdings than they can possibly, utilize.1

Housing, is another matter, that’ is not receiving, from the Government the attention that it deserves. All our plans for. the development of Australia will be of ‘no avail unless our population is adequately, boused. That any government, should, limit the money that the States* require for housing projects is absolutely shameful ; especially- when there is* no good* reason for doing so. In time of war, financial considerations become secondary to physical problems, and there is no limit to the amount of money which can be found for destruction. However.,, in time of” peace when; moneyis needed for construction, the LiberalAustralian Country-party coalition maintains that it is not available. This Government claims that it- desires every Australian to own his own home,, but it? policies of” credit restrictions, risinginterest rates and withholding of.’ necessary funds from States; Have prevented, many homes from being built. The “War. Service- Homes Division organizations in 1 all States are receiving far more applications for’ assistance than they can handle, but the Government makes no attempt to alleviate that position. Tn fact, it glories in the knowledge that applications are plentiful; and’ mat there is a. long wait hcf fore assistance call be granted to those men- and women who fought to protect our land. The correct’- and only solution, to the problem; of obtaining sufficient houses, is to make money available until all our people: are. adequately housed1..

World War IT. proved beyond doubt that the lack of unification of our rail’ gauges’ is a severe national! handicap; but still nothing- bas! been done to remedy that position. The construction of a uniform gauge1 line linking the capital cities- isan important’ developmental work and deserves’ urgent consideration, not only because it- would engender- more efficient and’ speedy carriage of passengers and a-m-tds’ between the1 States, but alsobecause it would be of great help in time of war: and the world’ situation to-day should make us all. consider the possibility of war. The-expenditure of about ‘ £200.000.000 on defence in. the present -financial year: and also in the last financial yean, indicates t”-k)’t the- Government envisages such a. contingency, but unless- we have an overall defence plan we; might as well do nothing, nf The- importance of the- construc tion, of. such a line, and it subsidiaries, cannot be stressed, too much. If Asia- is overrun by- communism^ as is likely if Communist China is. given, recognition and. Formosa falls-, into the hands of. the Communists, an attack on Australia would be. the final step hi the glan of: communism to dominate; the; Pacific. If. that should happen, Ave shall need to- fight, to. preserve, our democratic way. of life-.. Those of us who hav.<made even a cursory, examination- of Tapani’s recent, attempt to. conquer. tinPacific, know: that it. was on. Formosa that. Japan established its most; important base. ‘No doubt. Russia, and its satellitewall, follow the same plan, if given an opportunity.

Practically all the- advantages that Aus tva Hams enjoy to-day were won through the efforts of the Labour movements both industrial and” political, in the face of opposition from- the reactionary parties. Were’ it not for the- efforts of the- Labour movements, Australia would’ not to-day enjoy compulsory free- education, pensions, unemployment benefits, the services of the Commonwealth Bank’, the 4:0-hour week, and conciliation and arbitration - to mention: only a few advantagesIndeed, it is true to say that all improvements of living standards’ are the result of action by the Labour movement1. Those which were not introduced by L’abour. were only scripted’ by an tiLabour governments- when it became apparent that the will1 of the people could no longer be ignored. It is- disastrous, therefore, to allow the reins- of government to remain in the hands of” the reactionary parties for .any length of time, because over- the years those parties have shown that, if the small’ section of the people whose interest’s: they have at heart- is: satisfied1, they have no desire to see the conditions- of the whole of. the community improve.

I could say much, about the treatment by the present Government of age. invalid, widow and war pensioners under the budget recently introduced. Suffice it to say that I desire to add my protest at the paltry increases that were granted1.

I suggest to the Government that if introduce marriage loans of, say, £500-. which could be applied, for by newly married couples for use in the purchase of land for building purposes or as part deposit on a home. These loans could be repaid over a number of years or written off at the rate of £100 for every child born to the couple. Such a system would assist in overcoming the housing problem and would be an incentive to our young people to raise families and populate our nation. Probably members of the Government will raise their eyebrows at such a suggestion and assert that the initial cost of the scheme would be too much for the country to bear. But I suggest that, before they condemn the scheme, they consider the amount, estimated at over £1,000 for each immigrant, that has been expended in assisting immigrants to come to Australia. After all, Australians deserve some incentive and assistance in developing and populating their native land. The people of Australia look to the Government for example, and it would be unfortunate if they were disillusioned by the action of a member of Parliament or a. government official who appeared to be more concerned about his own welfare and advancement than about dispensing social justice to all sections of the community. The time has come for all honorable members, as the elected representatives of the people, to examine their consciences to ascertain whether their actions are governed by a. concern for the improvement of conditions in Australia or by the monetary or political advancement of themselves or their friends. Honorable members are here to govern Australia to the best of their ability and at all times they should make decisions which are in the interests of all the people and not only those of a particular section.

I have stressed the need for the continuation of a maximum immigration policy together with the development of our rural industries, because neither can be maintained unless it is part and parcel of an overall plan. Our main cities are becoming too large and unwieldy. If Australia is to play its part in keeping peace in the world, it must be prepared to assist less fortunate people to find a place under the sun. One way in which it can be done is for Australia to bring them here as immigrants and allow them to take their place on the land. The consequent increase in the production of wheat, wool, meat, butter and other primary produce would find a ready market in other parts of the world. Increased housing projects throughout Australia and the expansion of policies that’ enable individuals to obtain money to purchase or build their own homes would be a step along the pathway to a more contented and happy community and would give those people a greater interest in the country of which they own a part.

A unified Commonwealth railway system becomes more important every day from both an economic and a defence point of view, and I suggest that that problem be tackled immediately. Other points I have mentioned were the introduction of a plan for marriage loans and the need for morality in public life, both of which should be examined carefully.

I am proud to be an elected representative of the Australian Labour party, because I think that it is the party which is interested in the welfare of the people and the development of the nation. Labour says, “ Have faith in our Australia, for together we can build a greater nation, a better society “.


.- I do not wish to say a great deal in reply to the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart). I do not think he said anything that was very controversial, butI challenge one statement he made. He said that the Labour party had introduced all of the important social legislation in Australia. Actually the reverse is the case. It was non-Labour governments that introduced child endowment, age pensions, free milk for children, secret ballots for trade unions, satisfactory medical and hospital benefits and many other benefits: I do not intend to enumerate all those benefits, but I stress that facts establish without question that non-Labour governments’ have been responsible for practically all of the great social legislation introduced in this country.

I desire to refer particularly to that part of the speech of the GovernorGeneral which dealt, with the development of this country. The matter is relevant also to a question asked by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) towards the end of the last session about the granting by the Australian Government of a licence for the export of manganese ore from the north of “Western Australia. When the honorable member for East Sydney asked the question, apparently he was of the opinion that undue influence had been used by a Liberal senator to obtain the licence. I take this opportunity of telling the honorable member for East Sydney, and of making it clear to this House, that the honorable senator who he alleged was associated with the syndicate which obtained the licence never made representations on behalf of the syndicate.

Mr Curtin:

– How did they get the licence?


– The honorable senator has never, made any representations. The only member of this Parliament who has ever made representations on behalf of the Northern Mineral Syndicate was a colleague of the honorable member for East Sydney and the federal Labour member for the particular district. Nobody else has made representations on behalf of that company. A few months after the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Johnson) obtained the licence for the Northern Mineral Syndicate the Labour Premier of Western Australia wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) as follows: -

During a recent visit to Port Hedland 1 was interviewed by representatives of ^Northern Mineral Syndicate, whose Perth address is A.N.A. Howe, 44 St. George’s-terrace Perth. This company is- engaged in the production of manganese ore at Bagged Hills, via Port Hedland.

The company will he shipping 5,000 tons of manganese ore from Port Hedland to America in June of this year.

At the present time the company holds an export licence only for the 5,000 tons of manganese to he shipped in June.

Therefore the company is now in a position of being placed in considerable doubt as to its future operations, as the price offered for the manganese by Australian manufacturers is uneconomical to the company and efforts to obtain further export licences have so far been unsuccessful.

As the mining operations of this company are being carried out in difficult country with very great transport costs involved to enable the ore, when mined, to be brought to Port Hedland, it is necessary, to ensure the continued operation of the company in the man ganese field, for additional export licences to be made available.

For some time past the company has been in communication with the Director of th? Bureau of Mineral Resources”, Melbourne, for the purpose of trying to obtain export licences to cover 25,000 tons of manganese ore per annum. ft is understandable that the Director of the Bureau doubtless supported by your Government, would not be in favour of granting such licences for more than, say, one year ahead, and there could be no objection to any decision which might be made along those lines.

I repeat that this letter was received from the Labour Premier of Western Australia after the licence had been made available as a result of representations made to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) by th? honorable member for Kalgoorlie. The letter continued -

However, it is a matter of urgency as well as of great importance to the company that it should be granted an export licence for 25,000 tons of manganese to enable the company’s operations to be carried out during the next twelve months.

I would point out that the company has expended a great amount of capital in locating the manganese ore deposits at Ragged Hills and is putting in plant and equipment to mine the ore. In addition, considerable sums have been expended in the provision of transport equipment. Considerable sums have also been spent by the company in putting the long mileage of road from Ragged Hills to Port Hedland into reasonably traffickable order. The Main Roads Department has also assisted in that work.

The company has also had to construct houses at Bagged Hills for its employees*, together with other necessary buildings, and a water supply has had to be provided. As the manganese deposits at Ragged Hills have been discovered comparatively recently by the company and as they are of considerable extent, I trust your Government may be able to see its way clear to approve of the granting of an export licence to the company to cover 25,000 tons of manganese ore during the next twelve months.

The company’s position and case is more fully set out in a letter sent by the company on the 23rd instant to the Director, Bureau of Mineral Resources, Melbourne.

Trusting your Government may be able to assist this company to continue its valuable work in a remote part of Australia and thanking you to advise me.

Mr Thompson:

– When was that letter written ?


– On the 30th April, 3953, which was a few months after the licence was granted. I wish to make it clear that I believe that the /honorable member .for Kalgoorlie .did the best thing possible .for the ‘ north-w.est of this country when he made his representations to the Minister for ‘National Development and obtained a licence for the syndicate. .1 have read that letter .simply to emphasize the fact that, after the licence -had been obtained, the Labour Premier of Western Australia wrote to die Prime ‘Minister .and stated that the licence should be for the export .of 25,000 tons of manganese ore instead of only 1,000 .tons. It is .obvious, therefore, that when the honorable member for .East Sydney raised the point about a Liberal senator who was alleged to be a member of that syndicate, he was on the wrong track. I am certain .that the honorable member for East Sydney would not have raised the matter had he been aware of the facts that I have given to the House. He asked a question about it in the House, without notice, and was asked to put his question on notice. When he did so .he deleted any reference to undue influence having been exerted in the matter, because he had already contacted his Labour party colleague who .represents the electorate concerned, as a result of whose representations the licence for the export of a quantity .of manganese ore had been granted.

I consider that the facts that I have stated will satisfactorily dispose of that aspect of the position regarding manganese. However, there is another aspect which I believe to be extremely disturbing. Manganese is a mineral which is found in large quantities in Australia. It can be sold at only a low price, which is about £25 a ton overseas and, until recently, about £8 a ton in Australia. Its uses are principally connected with the removal of the sulphur content of iron from which steel is made. An amount of about 17 l’b. of manganese is necessary in order to make a ton of steel. It is also used as a hardening agent, and as such is particularly important to the western world at the moment ‘because of its significance in relation to the production of -such ‘filings /as jet engines. The main producer of (manganese in the I/r. Grayden. world -is “(Russia. That country formerly exported 600,000 tons of manganese ore to the United States of America every year. About eighteen months ago Russia cut off all its supplies of manganese ore To America, and stated that ‘ it did so “for political reasons “. There is very little manganese in the ‘United States of America and such manganese as is there is of low grade. ‘Consequently, America is mure or less .scratching for supplies of this essential material, and the United Kingdom as in the same position. Recently, American industrialists stated that unless America could find new sources -of manganese any war in -which America was engaged would be as good .as lost.

Manganese is absolutely vital to the defence preparations of the western world. Australia has considerable resources of manganese. Before the last war manganese production in Australia was of little consequence, because the price obtainable for that ore was only about £3 -10s. a ton, and it was not profitable to mine it at that price. Prior to the war, therefore, no prospecting for manganese was -carried out in Australia. Since the war, however, it has become economic to mine manganese provided a reasonable price can be obtained. As 1 have said, the price in Australia has been about £8 a ton. A miner who goes hundreds of miles into the outback of Western Australia -and locates and mines manganese would receive -a profit of about £1,000 from the sale of 2,000 tons of manganese on the Australian market. It has dimply not been worth while mining manganese for such a return. The overseas price, however, is about £19 a ton f.o.b. Fremantle or Geraldton, and the prospectors and other people who are developing manganese deposits in the north-west can make a fair margin of profit on overseas sales. There is only one market .for manganese in Australia, and that is the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited-

Mr Curtin:

– Because that company is the only steel-maker in Australia.


– Yes, and therefore it is the only Australian user of manganese in any quantity. For metallurgical grades of manganese that company provides the only market. It is able to buy Australian manganese at a fraction of the overseas grice. The. pro:ducers. of * manganese are unable to sell their manganese abroad because of” the export ban. which* was imposed by the Labour Government during. the war years.. If they were permitted to export the ore. they would’ be assured of a reasonable margin of’ profit. The ban was imposed by the Labour- Government,, because that government had very little information on the subject.. About twoyears ago I asked the Minister representing the1 Minister for National Development (Mr., Casey) whether- he could state, exactly where the known deposits of manganese, ore in Australia were located’. I. was informed that they were mainly iii “Western Australia. Several’ major deposits in Western Australia were not then known to the .Bureau, of” Mineral’ Resources. The’ bureau has since conservatively estimated’ that the deposits of one in .Australia amount* to approximately 750,000’ tons. Thus,, we have assured supplies” in sight’ to meet our. requirements for- the next. 30 or 40’ years.

  1. few days, ago I had an opportunity to discuss, this matter, with Mr. Keyes,, of tlie Bureau of” Mines- of” the. United: States of America, who had. been. sent, to Australia to examine and report upon our mineral resources. My conversation with Mr.. Keyes was- most interesting. He told me that the United. States of America was perfecting a- chemical process for. the treatment of low-grade manganese ore, and that it was possible that, in- the’ near- future,- high-grade’ manganese deposits- would’ no’ longer be of great consequence. There will never- be a world shortage of manganese’ because” it is the twelfth, most: common- element’ in theworld. Sooner or later- when our deposits of high-gr.a:d<e: manganese- ores aredepleted,, we shall be compelled: to’ develop methods for tlie: treatment’ of low-grade’ ores. Undoubtedly’,, deposits’ far in excess of the- estimated tonnages I have citedexist bv Australia., Before- the war: no encouragement, was given’ to. prospectors to prospect for new deposits^ and since the war the imposition of the export ban: has made prospecting, for new deposits not worthwhile.

Two. export; licences have been: granted,, one *ti** Messrs;. Bell’ Brothers, and- the other, to. the Northern Miner.ail Syndicate. Messrs.. Bell Brothers,, who., conduct, a. very large concern, in. Western. Australia, have a. permit, to: export 9,000 tons.. They are. working a, deposit the. estimated; content, of which, is 50.0,000. tons. They were granted an export permit so that they would, be able to construct access, roads to the deposits,, to. open them up, and. to. pit. test. them in-order, to. ascertain their extent.. But for. the; granting of. the licence,, the Government would’ have had to. undertake that: work.. Because of the. restrictions of the licence only a. fraction of the. total tonnage of manganese mined, can be exported.

Those who are engaged in. the mining of manganese in Western Australia have no desire to - export their product. All they ask is that they be given a price by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited) which’ will allowthem a reasonable margin, of profit on. their, operations. The price paid by the- company is too. low to make the mining of. manganese ore an- economic proposition.. An. increase of. the price of manganese would, not affect, the. price of steel-, because, only. 1’7. lb., of manganese- isused in the.- manufacture of a ton. of. steel.. The Broken, Hill. Proprietary Company Limited could pay a much higher price foi- manganese, f.o.b. Fremantle,, and still enjoy a tremendous advantage in the. sale of steel over its overseas competitors. At present the company is getting cheap iron ore and converting Lt into gig-iron at thu expense of the development of the; north-west of. Western Australia and of the dollar position,, because manganese ore could earn large: quantities of dollars for Australia.. It is- getting cheap ore at’- the expense of the Western, democracies which urgently need manganese in the- defence programmes.

I suggest, that the Government should: appoint a-, committee- of members of this< House- and instruct it. to. visit the northwest, of Western Australia in or.der tolearn at firsthand the- need for- the development, of. the mineral, resources of that remote! area. I. ask the Government: to, appoint; either; a royal-. commission, or a joint, parliamentary, committee toexamine the position- in regard to man.ganese iri: Australia- Our policy should: be? directed not to* the- unlimited’ export of manganese but to the development of known deposits and the search for new ones. That policy could be applied in one of two ways - by permitting discoverers of deposits to export reasonable quantities in order to cover their initial expenses, or by increasing the Australian price. 1 prefer the former method because it would enable us to earn dollars which we bo greatly need and at the same time assist in the defence programmes of the Western democracies. Australian producers should receive a price that will enable them to pay for the mining costs and the cartage of the ore to the seaboard and leave them a reasonable margin nf profit. Mining is to Western Australia what taxation is to Canberra. Western Australia has been developed on the mining industry and is able 1.0 carry on only because of the mining industry. Indeed, the future of the State largely depends upon the mining industry. I emphasize the need for an investigation into the farcical position that exists in regard to manganese. Instead of paying lip-service to the need for the development of the northwest we should take every opportunity to encourage those who are attempting to develop that area and not hinder them by governmental action.

Mr. galvin (Kingston) [9.50].- His Excellency the Governor-General, in opening the second session of the Twentieth Parliament this afternoon, performed his function with great merit, but honorable members on this side of the House wore disappointed with the contents of His Excellency’s Speech. I join with the mover and seconder of the motion for the Address-in-Reply, and with other honorable members who have taken part in the debate, in expressing my pleasure at the impending visit to Australia of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second. Opposition members may not be as eloquent as are some members of the Government, but their loyalty to the Throne and to the British Commonwealth, is without question. I sincerely hope that when Her Majesty visits Australia she will not be pestered at every public function by the Ministers of the Crown and politicians. I trust that every opportunity will be afforded to the people, particularly the school children, to see their Queen and to make contact with her. I see noreason why members of Parliament should be given special privileges on such an occasion. Members of Parliament should regard themselves as fortunate if they are permitted to attend one function at which the Queen will be present. That,, at least, is a much greater privilege than will be extended to the majority of the Australian people. I sincerely hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council. (Mr. Eric J. Harrison), who is in charge of the Royal tour, will not embarrass Her Majesty by permitting the functions which she attends to be crowded out by Ministers of the Crown and parliamentarians. As the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) has said, it is not the special prerogative of any political party or any group or section of the Australian people to be present at functions which will be honoured by the presence of Her Majesty. I trust that no attempt will be made to make political capital out of the Royal visit. I hope that the Minister in charge of the Royal tour will ensure that Her Majesty shall not be worn out by too many public appearances and by functions at which she will meet only politicians. I do not see any occasion for members of this Parliament, when Her Majesty visits the States, to seek any special privileges at functions to the exclusion of citizens. .1 trust that the Government will ensure that Her Majesty will not be tired out by too heavy a programme during her visit.

Mention is made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech of the conclusion of an armistice in Korea after a struggle which lasted more than three years. Members of the Labour party are gratified that, at long last, an armistice has been signed. We are pledged to support the United Nations in an effort to achieve and maintain world peace. It is unfortunate that the threat of war is still present, but I feel that the danger of a conflict is receding and that there is a real hope for peace in the future. We all should do everything possible to attain that most desirable objective.

I take this opportunity, perhaps a little belatedly, to congratulate the honorable member for Lang on his excellent maiden speech, which was one of the best that I have heard during the time I have been a member of this House. He has shown, in the brief period he has been here, that he is a worthy successor to the late Mr. Mulcahy. The people of Lang are fortunate indeed that they have a representative of the calibre of the honorable member to look after their interests.

His Excellency has also referred to the improvement of our overseas balances. It is pertinent, to ask how the Government allowed those reserves to be dissipated in the first place. The responsibility in that matter lies fairly and squarely on this Government, and although it is gratifying to know that our overseas balances have recovered., we regret that they have not yet returned to the level which existed when the Chifley Labour Government was in office.

His Excellency has also informed the Parliament that the long-awaited health pla.ii will be introduced during this session. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) complimented the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) on his scheme. The right honorable gentleman has announced so many health plans during the last few years that I have lost count of them, and I defy any honorable member to give a clear explanation of any of thom. The Minister, whenever he is asked a question about his latest health plan, is never able to give a satisfactory answer. However, at long last, a health plan i.3 to be introduced. I am eager to examine the Minister’s proposals with a view to determining their real import. So far, we have waited in vain for a practical scheme. The Minister has frequently claimed that his health proposals will do a great deal for the people, but in actual fact, very little has been done for them.

I hoped that the Government, after the constructive criticism levelled at its policy during the recent debate on the budget, would have attempted to honor some of the pre-election promises that it made in 1949 and again in 1951. The Government will be judged on its record. The honorable member for Angas claims that the Government has a good record. That view is not supported by a majority of the people. Members of the Labour party will welcome the earliest possible oppor tunity to test the views of the electors on the Government’s record.

A few weeks ago, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court decided to suspend the granting of cost-of-living adjustments. We are told that inflation has been halted. That statement is not borne out by the facts. The last quarterly cost of living adjustment, which was denied to the workers, ranged from 2s. to 10s. in the various States. The fact that the C series index shows such an increase proves beyond a shadow of doubt that inflation has not been halted. Indeed, this Government has failed miserably in its attempt to check inflation. Wage-pegging will severely reduce the standard of living of workers unless other action is taken by the Government to compensate for it. Even at this late stage, this dying Government should, re-establish effective prices control. In the past, the Government has claimed that prices control without wage pegging would be ineffective. That argument is no longer valid. Wages have been effectively pegged, or frozen by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and it is the responsibility of the seven governments in Australia to protect the standard of living of the wage-earner. The time is opportune for the re-introduction of Commonwealth prices control.

Effective prices control was destroyed in 194S when the present Government and its supporters sabotaged the referendum conducted, by the Chifley Labour Government. Members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party boasted that the States could control prices more effectively than could the Commonwealth. I recall that the Premier of South Australia boasted that his government could, control prices, yet prices have skyrocketed in that State, as they have done also in States administered by Labour governments since the. abolition of Commonwealth prices control. The plain fact of the matter is that the States cannot effectively control prices. Members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, if they were honest when they said that prices control could not be effective without wage-pegging, should now agree to the re-introduction of Commonwealth prices control. I do not agree with -the decision of the count on ‘the abolition of cost-of-living adjustments, but the fact remains that ‘the adjustments have been-abolished, and -we -can do uo.thing a’bout “the ‘.matter. We accept the decision -of the court, but we ‘press for -the re- introduction of Commonwealth -prices control, and control of profits, -in order to balance the determination -of :the court against wage-earners.

Unless this ‘Government and the State governments ‘take remedial action, the fora mon wealth Arbitration Court will gra-dually -fall into -disrepute. For ‘many wars, Australian ‘workers have -regarded the court ‘as the body that they must approach ‘in -order to receive a-fair ‘reward for their labour The workers, if they find that they cannot obtain justice from industrial tribunals, will drift away ‘from Arbitration, and will gradually adopt a policy of -collective bargaining They will nott -wish to-do so, but they will ‘be forced into that position, unless this Government Hid the State governments act promptly lie control prices.

Mr Pollard:

– Tills -Government -will not take any action in that - respect


– I aru afraid that lt will not. However, f,ho people will register their disapproval -of its policy it the next general election. 1 hoped that His Excellency would forecast the introduction of legislation to hu prove ‘the lot o’f certain war -pensioners. 1 have particularly hi .mind an appeal by the Limbless -Soldiers Association of South Australia to ‘the Minister foi’ Suein! Services (Mr. Townley’) and “the Minister ‘for Bepatriation (Senator Cooper) regarding the ceiling rate pensions. The ‘two Ministers received a deputation from this association, members of ‘which pointed out that some exservicemen were suffering severe, hardships wider the provisions of the Social Services ‘Consolidation .Act ‘and -the Repatriation Act. T shall refer to -a case in ‘South Australia that is known to me personally. ! civilian met -with an accident ‘in his employment some years ago. ‘The firm treated him rather generously, and continued to employ him until ‘he became eligible for the age pension, and subsequently continued to pay Mm, as ‘compensation for the disability, the amount ‘of the permissible income allowed :a pensioner. ‘This:man and his wife, prior tothe last adjustment of pension, received a permissable pension of £3 .a week and the full pension Now, compensation of £4 a week is paid in respect o’f the disability, and both husband and wife receive the age pension of £3 .10s. a week. Thus their total income is £11 a week.

A war pensioner -who is suffering the same disability ‘as the civilian, ‘is in <a less -fortunate position. The only difference -between them, in ‘fact, is that the pensioner- was injured in the course of his employment, in industry, and the exservicemen was injured in the ‘course ‘df fighting for his country. The war-pension is £4 a week. The pensioner and his wife applied Tor the ‘age pension., but, ‘because of the -ceiling rate, they were granted only £2 8s. 9d. each a week, which raised their total income to :£8 17s. fid. a ‘week. Thus, they receive £2 2s. 6d. a .week .less than the man who was injured in .industry. The Limbless .Soldiers Association of South .Australia cited other cases to the -present -Government -and I had hoped that, even .though an oversight occurred .when the last adjustment was made,, action would he taken during the , new .session to remedy :such in justices. But nothing _has been done.

M.r. Pollard - ‘And nothing will ‘be done.


– As the ‘honora’ble member ‘for Lalor ‘has interjected, nothing will be done by this do-nothing Government. .The Government has failed the people miserably, and the only hope Tor Australians to-day is-

Hut. Pollard. - To throw them out.


– That -will be done when the people lave the opportunity to do so. I intended to discuss many .other subjects during this speech, ‘hut. my time is limited.

T could tell a sad story of housing in South Australia. Some of .the war service homes built in that State “have ‘fallen to pieces. At the same time, the War Service Homes Division is unable to provide adequate finance for ex-servicemen who .wish to purchase houses ‘built ‘by the State Housing Trust. These homes are solidly constructed, “-but the amount o’f tlie permissible advance is a mere £2.000.

That is the fault of this ‘Government. The ‘Government should reduce interest rates and take action to provide for the granting of adequate loans to people who wish to purchase ‘houses. Thousands of decent, ‘hardworking Australians are eager to ‘buy ‘homes for themselves and their families, anc ‘the responsibility ;for the -present unhappy state of ‘affairs lies at the feet of this Government. Its time is ‘fast Tunning out, and it has not long to make up its mind. The Opposition would applaud it, <even at this ‘late hour, if only it would do something to help the Australian people. The .’late leader of the Labour party lin ‘this Parliament, Mr. Chifley, often .spoke of the light on the : hill. The Australian people have waited in .vain since 1949 for this Govern.ment to.fulfil its promises. Now the only hope they have is centred on -that light, :on the hill. The people are waiting if or sn. return caf .-honest government They are crying out for honesty in the Parliament, and their only chance ‘of salvation lies in ja return to power of the Labour party, fhich must take :place m. hen. early -next -year, .they lave an opportunity :to dismiss this Government “from .office because -of its ‘miserable .failures.


I congratulate the honorable member ‘for Lang ‘(Mr. Stewart) upon his maiden speech to-night “However, I .want to HenT -with -some of ‘his statements, .as

Kindly as possible and”! am reinforced in my desire to do ‘so ‘because ^the “honorable member ‘for Kingston (Mr. -Galvin1) trotted out t -he same -statements in ‘his speech. The honorable member -‘for “Kingston made some interesting comments ‘and, -at ‘the -end of Ms -speech, ‘he spoke of the need ‘for honest government. T suggest that the honorable gentleman examine the record of -some-of ‘the Labour Ministers of New ‘South -Wales ‘before he speaks again of Australia’s need ‘for honest government The people -of “New South Wales “had no hesitation in showling the State Government just what they thought -of the antics -o’f ‘some of its Ministers when they ‘bad an .-opportunity Mo express their -views at a “recent ,,election

Mr Curtin:

– Tell the “House about the Libera”! Minister who was sentenced to death.


– I suppose that, ‘for the life df “this Parliament, we shall have ‘to listen ‘to the animal noises that the honorable member for Watson ‘(Mr. ‘Curtin) utters. The honorable gentleman, who seems to be a licensed interjector, talks more nonsense ‘.than .anybody else this House has produced. ‘We have suffered him for three or four years now. I suppose that we .must put .up with .him.

The honorable member .for .Lang referred at some .length to immigration, which is .a subject in which ,1 have ,a particular interest. The honorable gentleman .suggested .that. some failure .on the part .of this Government .had necessitated ;i decrease .of Australia’s .”intake of immigrants. That is .a very interesting statement, to hear from ,a member of the Labour Although .the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the ‘former -Minister for “.Immigration, lias, steadfastly supported ..the immigration programme that he initiated ;and that this Government continued, there has been bitter opposition to immigration from many Other members o’f the Labour party. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), for example, has never ‘failed to ask questions in this House in an effort to embarrass .the immigration authorities. T.he ^present .governments .of Victoria and New South “Wales have displayed no difficulty in expressing their definite opposition to any policy of immigration. ^Recently, “Mr. Cain, the Premier of “Victoria, said to Dutch .citizens who were present at & function which I attended, ‘“Go home and tell your people there .are no chances foi1 anybody in .Australia. We do -not want thom.”. ,’He .made that statement to ,a group of Dutch journalists who had come to Australia to examine io.ur immigration -scheme.

The subject -of ‘housing is .extremely interesting, and it is -a subject that occupied my close ‘attention ‘at >a subcommittee -meeting ‘this ‘morning. “Before World War EL, we built ‘30,000 houses -a year in Australia. “That number was considered to ‘be sufficient to enable us >to overtake the lag -an’d the day-to-day demand for ‘houses -by young -couples ann cithers coming freshly on i[he -housing market. After this ‘Government came into power, the rate of construction was increased to 56,000 a year in 1950-51 and to 79,000 a year in 1951-52 and 1952-53. The present rate of construction, according to the best information available, will enable ns to meet the new demand for houses and at the same time overtake, rather slowly I admit, the backlog. This Government has made available for the current year under the terms of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement a total of £35,000,000. The attack on the war service homes programme by the honorable member for Kingston is interesting when one realizes that, since this Government came to office in 1949, the “War Service Homes Division has been responsible for the construction of nearly as many houses as were built under the war service homes scheme from 1919 to 1949. Previously, the amount provided for war service homes annually was between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000. Now £28,000,000 a year is made available for war service homes.

Several very interesting facts came to my knowledge only this morning in relation to the use that is being made of the facilities provided by cooperative building societies; which are strongly established only in Victoria and New South Wales. Limited use is made of such organizations in Queensland and South Australia and an even more limited use in Western Australia, where legislation does not provide for a government guarantee of the loans that the societies make available. The chief lender under these schemes at present is the Commonwealth Savings Bank. An interesting feature of the operations of co-operative building societies is the use that is made of their services by new Australians. Our population is now about 9,000,000. Since 1946, about 800,000 immigrants, representing approximately 9 per cent, of the present population, have entered the country. About 15 per cent, of the total number of people who pay deposits to co-operative building societies consists of persons who have come to Australia from European countries. British immigrants must be excluded from this survey because their names do not distinguish them from Australian-born citizens. The proportion that I have mentioned is made up of persons whose foreign names indicate that they are new Australians. If we add to that proportion, say, an additional 5 per cent, to represent British immigrants, who are accustomed to co-operative building societies in Great Britain, where such bodies operate freely, we reach the conclusion that immigrants, in approximately twice the proportion represented by their total number in Australia’s population, are saving money and building houses for themselves.

Another statement that was made by the honorable member for Lang is repeated continually by other members of the Labour party who urge that large land holdings be broken up into small units. Apparently they think that vc should then charge frantically about the world to try to find buyers for the products of this enormously expensive experiment. I do not know why members of the Opposition, most of whom represent city electorates and have very little knowledge of country life, insist on explaining what they would do to promote rural development. The honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) during the last session of this Parliament explained with the most impassioned eloquence the need for us to be able to buy eggs for ls. 6d. a dozen and showed thereby that he had not the remotest idea of the costs of primary production at present. I shall also refer to the Opposition’s ignorance of costs when I discuss later the remarks of the honorable member for Kingston on the subject of the cost of living. Honorable members opposite cling to a pathetic sort of fallacy when they insist that productive land should be split up into small holdings, on the assumption that it will become more productive as a result and that we shall be able to sell the extra products without difficulty. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many properties in Victoria which have been divided into small blocks for the settlement of ex-servicemen and for closer settlement generally are producing much less to-day than they produced as single, large units. Nobody could be more enthusiastic than I am in. support of the development of reasonably high rainfall country anywhere in Australia.. However, I believe that, before this fantastic proposal for some kind of social adjustment by taking successful farmers off big areas in order to provide small farms for new settlers is adopted, we should survey the large areas of land that are not being farmed in any way. We should establish new settlers in those undeveloped areas and increase production in that way. The honorable member for Lang followed a fashionable line of argument when he said that people overseas need the product of Australia’s soil. Many of our products must be processed before they can be shipped overseas. I have in mind such commodities as jams, canned small fruits from Tasmania, canned fruits from the mainland and canned meat, for which we want to find markets. But we cannot, find markets for them at the prices we must obtain to cover costs. The high prices that we must charge are due, not to the returns to the primary producers, which have very little to do with the final price, but to the very, high cost of processing. During the regime of the lust Labour Government, we developed, most enthusiastically, a number of small industries, such as the vegetable canning industry. During the war, capital was provided for such industries and people were told that they could go ahead with them. Now there are about £2,000,000 worth of canned vegetables in the stores of vegetable canners in this country, for which it is absolutely impossible to’ find a market at, suitable prices. As T have already said, the high prices that we have to charge are due, not to the cost of producing the vegetables, but to the high cost of processing them, owing to the very low output per man hour and the limited number of working hours of the men in our processing factories. Without a large subsidy, it is impossible, to sell our canned vegetables overseas at the present time. We should knock on the head once and for all the fantastic idea that if we split up large estates and produce something, the rest of the world will bc waiting with open arms to take it from a 40-hour week and a high-wage country at prices that will cover the costs of production. That idea is too silly for words. “I. agree sincerely with the statement of the honorable member for Kingston that we must have some regard for the comfort of Her Majesty when she makes her very welcome tour of Australia next year. She will make two visits to my electorate. I shall warn the shire councillors in the McMillan electorate that nothing is more exhausting than a continual shaking of hands, and I shall suggest that all the people who meet Her Majesty how to her from some distance away. I do not know how many honorable members are old enough to remember the visit that the Prince of Wales, now the Duke of Windsor, made to Australia in 1920. He left the country with his arm in a sling as a result of excessive hand-shaking. His hand was, so to speak, shaken into a sling. I hope that we shall be kind to Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh in that regard when they come here next year.

The Labour party, being afraid of what will happen at the next general election, is whistling to keep its spirits up. In attacking the Government, it frequently attacks the Government’s health scheme. I suppose honorable members opposite have a. dreadful inferiority complex on that matter, because a Labour government produced, not a real health scheme, but a lot of “ hi-falutin “ nonsense that benefited nobody. No Australian got anything out of the McKenna health scheme, and I suppose the Labour party is rather sensitive about the success of the health scheme of this Government. The honorable member for Kingston wanted to know when the scheme outlined in the bill shortly to he introduced would be put into operation. It has been in operation since the 1st July. It was brought into operation in three stages. The first stage was the introduction of free pharmaceutical benefits. The next stage was the payment of valuable hospital benefits that enabled all the major hospitals in Australia to pay their way, and enabled some of them to show a surplus. The third stage was the provision of assistance to people to pay medical expenses.

The honorable member for Kingston repeated the suggestion that this Government, in defiance of the will of the people expressed at the referendum held in 1948, should impose prices control. He accused the Government of sabotaging prices control. Apparently, his view is that if the. Labour party is unsuccessful, in convincing, the1 people that it is the repository of all’ knowledge and the people reject, its” proposals, a government that, does something, not in accordance with those proposal’s is sabotaging the country. The people do not Avant Commonwealth prices control”. They expressed, that opinion very definitely at a referendum. It is beyond the p of this Parliament, to” impose Commonwealth prices control!. The- honorable member suggested’ that if the- trade unions do not get what they want from the Commonwealth Arbitration Court they will cease to deal with it. Letus remember that the trade unions won the case that was heard recently bythe court. The basic wage was not reduced’, as the employ Hrs requested. Hours of work were noi; increased, as the. employers- requested. But quarterly adjustments- of the basic wage in accordance with rises or1 falls of the- cost of living- were discontinued. The honorable member suggested that’, because of that decision, the unions will have to cease to deal with the1 court. He gave the im pres.sion to me’ that-if the court dares to rejectany part: of a case1 put- forward by thetrade: unions the unions will disregard1 the court and’ act outside- it. I do not ‘believe that: is: the: official view of the Labour party. I suggest that thai was a stupid’ and* irresponsible statement by the honorable! member- for. Kingston. During’ the last’ quarter, the cost of living in Victoria rose by 2s-; a week-. Thar increase wasdue; almost entirely to the fantastic price of potatoes;, which occupy w very important place in the regimen on. which- the C series index is based: If the price of potatoes increases to £100 a ton, the-, basic- wage. must be increased substantially, under’ the., quarterly adjustment: system.. It! is: a, curious anomaly that although- the ordinary citizen cannot, afford to buy potatoes, at ls-. 3d. per lb;, and. goes; without them, they still carry the same weight in the C series index-.

I congratulate the honorable member for Lang on his maiden speech. I con:gratulate also, the honorable member for Angas on his speech, which I commend, to honorable members.

Mr. BRYSON (Wills) 1:10.34’].- The speech, of the honorable, member: for McMillan (Mr.. Brown), summed up1 in

  1. few words;, amounts: to a confession! of. the failure, of. this Government, to carry out the promises it. made to the. electors.The honorable member, told us that, the’ Government had been unable, to. do this-, that. and. the- other: thing, He! said that: certain sections- of primary; producers’ could not export their products* owing: to> high labour, costs in this-, country. I remind the honorable- member, that labour costs are at the present high level because of the failure’ of this Government to car.r,y out the- promises it made, to the- electors’ during the- l’ast two general: election campaigns. If those- promises had been, honoured, labour costs- to-day would’ beat; least SO per cent, lower.- than they are:
Sir Philip McBride:

– What nonsense !

Mi–. BRYSON- When. this. Govern, ment took office at the end of 19-49,, labour, costs were more than. 50. per cent, lower than they are now. If the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride”) can prove’ that, that statement! is- nonsense, I. shallwithdraw, and apologize: Since- the end.o£ 1949 labour, costs have risen by- about 80’ per cent., due to the ineptitude- andinefficiency of this- Government..

The Speech delivered by the- GovernorGeneral this afternoon was” unique’ in my experience as a member of the Parliament:. I Have always- believed that the Speech delivered by the- Governor-General at. the’ opening of a’ session of the Parliament, should contain a statement of the intentions of the Government. Theprinted copy of tlie Speech delivered this afternoon’ covers-‘ five and’ a half foolscap pages, four and a half of which contain statements’ about what’ Has occurred in the past Apparently the Government’ is relying’ upon what’ has- happened’ in the past1, and intends to do very little in the remaining; few -months of its’ life. It has done very little since it caine into office, but it holds-out no-hope to the Australian people that it will’ do anything of a positive kind’ during the few months’ that1 remain to it.

F agree entirely with the sentiments expressed in the first paragraph of the’ Governor-General’s Speech. His Excellency said -

Th’e- devotion of Australians to the. Throne is froth deep and’ warm R has’ been’ shown by word and deed iti both peace and war. It is not the special prerogative of any political party, or of any creed, or of any section of the Australian people.

I believe those sentiments will be echoed by all members of this House and by the great majority of the people of Australia. They are the sentiments, not of only one political party, but of the people of Australia as a whole. I believe such matters should be kept completely outside the realm of party politics. [Quorum formed.’] I know that certain honorable members on the Government side are unable to stand up to criticism. I recognize that the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) realize full well that this Government has failed abjectly, during tlie past three and a half years, to govern the country as it should be governed. However, those honorable gentlemen do not like to be reminded of that fact because their fortunes are bound up with that of the Government and in a short time they will have to explain to the electors why the Government has not carried out the promises that it gave to them during two general election campaigns. So far honorable members on the Government side of the House have not made any reasonable explanation of the shortcomings of the Government and in the time between now and the next general election it is extremely unlikely that any adequate explanation will be forthcoming. The speech of the Governor-General has not assisted the Government in any way at all. For example, a story has been told about the Korean armistice having been signed, but this House discussed the Korean armistice during its last sittings. There is nothing new about that. In fact it is old news. The Governor-General should have told the Parliament something about the failure to obtain a peace settlement in Korea. It is stated in the Speech that during the last twelve months, up to the 30th June this year, Australia’s international financial reserves have been strengthened. The Government informed the people to that effect some months ago but did not explain them, nor has it explained since, why it was so necessary to build up those reserves. In fact the reserves are still less than they were when this Government assumed office although the value of money has fallen considerably. Therefore, it must be clearly realized that our overseas balances are of much less value to day than they were in 1949 when this Government assumed office.

Mr Gullett:

– I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to the state of the House. There are only eleven honorable members on the opposite side of the House listening to the speech of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson). Consequently, it must be as depressing to his colleagues as it is to us on this side of the House.


– Order! The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), in calling my attention to the state of the House, must not make a speech.

Mr Daly:

– I rise to order. I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, whether it is correct for the honorable member for Henty, who is the Government Whip, constantly to call attention to the state of the House when there are not enough of his own colleagues in the chamber to form a quorum. There are only fifteen supporters of the Government at present in the House.


– Order ! [Quorum formed.]


– Apparently my criticism of the Government has hurt the feelings of the honorable member for Henty. I suggest that the honorable member for Henty, as Government Whip, should have some control over the actions of Government supporters. He has shown that he has not that control, because there are very few of them in the House at present. Consequently, he has failed lamentably in his duties. It does not matter whether there is one honorable member on the Opposition side of the House, or 50. According to my knowledge of parliamentary procedure, the first duty of the Government Whip is’ to ensure a quorum. I suggest that the Government should give serious consideration to the position of Government Whip, because the present occupant of that position is incapable of carrying out his duties.

The Governor-General’s Speech mentioned the Government’s past defence policy, but mentioned nothing about our future defence. Apparently the Government is bankrupt of ideas on this important matter. The same remarks apply to the matter of coal production. Moreover, nothing of any value has been stated in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech about the Government’s policy during the remainder of the life of this Parliament. Of course it has been said that additional members will be appointed to the Tariff Board so that two boards may sit at once to work out plansto protect Australian industry, but I suggest that that particular proposal is another admission by the Government that it has failed in its duty properly to administer the country. Apparently additional protection is required for our secondary industry, but such protection has been made necessary by the excessive costs of labour and materials, and those costs are due to the abject failure of the Government to carry out the promises that, it made to the electors.

The Government intends to continue to increase the number of immigrants, but T remind honorable members that the number of immigrants was drastically reduced by this Government, because it could not find employment for newcomers. Of course, it could not find employment because it had failed in its duty to the country. Even if the Government increases the flow of immigrants, it will not bring new settlers to this country at the rate at which they were entering during the time of the last Labour Administration. A new health measure has been mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. The matter of health is becoming a hardy annual. Indeed, we have been promised health schemes and health bills ever since this Government assumed office. A health bill was introduced during the last session of this Parliament and a long second-reading speech was made on it. Then the Government jettisoned it. Perhaps the Government will take the same action with the new proposed health legislation. I suggest that the Government’s indication that a new health measure will he introduced is merely window-dressing, and that it is most unlikely that this Government will ever pass an effective health bill, but will merely trot out the promise on all favorable occasions.

During the last three years I have been trying to find out the nature of the health scheme originated by the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page), but the right honorable gentleman sidestepped my questions on all occasions. Moreover, certain reports have been published in the press about these schemes, but he has invariably described them as false. He has promised us a health scheme and the Government is now promising us a health bill, but it is interesting to find out exactly what health benefits this Government has actually given the people. Perhaps I could outline my own experience of government health schemes. I have been a member of a friendly society since I was seventeen years old. Not too many years ago my annual contribution for medical services was £1 a year. That covered myself and my wife and family. Afterwards it was increased to 26s. a year and the doctors were satisfied with that amount, but to-day I have to make a contribution of £5 4s. a year to cover myself and one daughter. That comparison tells only portion of the story. Under the Page health scheme the contribution of £5 4s. a year does not pay all my medical expenses but only a part of them. Honorable members have been told that a wonderful service will be given by the British Medical Association. Twenty years ago the members of the British Medical Association were satisfied to accept 26s. a year from each family to cover medical attention, but now they expect considerably more.

Mr Gullett:

Mr. Gullett interjecting,


– Do not be so silly.


– Order !


– I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, but when childish interjections are thrown across the chamber by the honorable member for Henty I cannot find a word better than “ silly “ to express my opinion of them. The payment of £5 4s. to cover the medical expenses of two persons for a year will meet only approximately two-thirds of the cost of medical attention. The wonderful scheme that has been concocted by the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) and the British Medical Association will take more money out of the pockets of the workers than any previous health scheme. It is virtually of no benefit to the people at all. In addition, the people will still pay social services contributions. When that impost was introduced, portion of it was to be directed towards the payment of medical expenses. If the Minister for Health continues to put these schemes into operation upon the authority of the Government but not upon the authority of the Parliament, the people of Australia will he paying more and more as time goes on. Instead of these so-called free medical services being beneficial to the people, they will become more costly. I turn my attention now to another matter that has been virtually ignored. That is the freezing of the basic wage. I know that that was a decision of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and not of the Government, but if wages are to be pegged-

Mr Freeth:

– I direct attention to the state of the House. It is a shocking thing that practically no Labour members are in the chamber to hear the debate.


– Order ! A quorum was called twice just before I came into the chamber, and I do not propose to call another quorum before the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) finishes his speech.

Mr Daly:

– I rise to order. I ask for a withdrawal of the statement that there are no Labour men in the House. Without including myself, there are a considerable number present.


-Order! I am not going to comply with the honorable member’s wish. It is not for me to decide upon the description that should he applied to honorable members. I see some honorable gentlemen on my left who would be horrified if the description referred to were applied to them.

Mr Haylen:

– I ask for a ruling, Mr. Speaker. Is it not the duty of the Government Whip to maintain a quorum?


– No. It is the duty of every honorable member elected to this House to attend to his parliamentary duties. It is obvious that the majority of them are not doing so to-night. The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) will continue.


– I know that the interruptions by honorable members on the Government side have been organized for a definite reason. I can understand the vacant minds of those who rise to direct attention to the state of the House at regular intervals because I have had experience of the tactics of those honorable members previously.

Mr Turnbull:

– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to refer to your remark that a number of honorable members were not performing their parliamentary duties. Does not that statement condemn every honorable member, including those who are in the chamber as well as those who are absent?


– Not in my view.


– Before this little interlude occurred, I was referring to the decision of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to freeze wages and to the absence of any proposals by the Government to take action in that matter. Since wages were frozen by the court, the cost of living has increased in every State according to the C series index. Those increases vary between 2s. and 10s. a week. As a result, the workers are sufFering. If they are to be called upon to make sacrifices, the Government has a duty to do something about it. Any sacrifices that are to be made should be shared.

Mr Freeth:

– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to Standing Order 43, which states -

If any Member shall take notice, that a Quorum of Members is not present, the Speaker shall count the House; and if a Quorum be not present within two minutes, lie shall adjourn the House till the next sitting day.

With all respect, I suggest that you have no discretion in this matter. The counting of the House is mandatory if an honorable member draws attention to the fact that a quorum is not present.


– Order ! I have every respect for the opinion of the honorable member, but I shall exercise my discretion. I shall not call a quorum until the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) has finished his speech.


– Honorable members on the Opposition side are getting accustomed to the tactics of the Government. I refer to the arrogance thathas been displayed by honorable members on theGovernment side on various occasions and to the totalitarian attitude that they have adopted. If they are to be allowed to continue in that fashion, we shall have a totalitarian State in Australia similar to that which exists in Russia and in parts ofGermany. Some honorable members on the Government side appear to have taken a few hints from Hitler and Stalin. This Government has a definite duty.It promised the people of Australia-


– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Leslee) adjourned.

page 36


Thefollowing papers were pre sented : -

Australian National University Act - Statutes -

No. 10 - Convocation Amendment No. 1.

No. 11 - Constitution of the Council (Period of Office) Amendment No. 1.

No. 12 - Vice-Chancellorship.

Income Taxand Social Services Contribution Assessment Act -

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1953, No. 83.

Lands Acquisition Act- Land acquired for railway purposes -

Port Augusta, South Australia (substitute copy ) .

Northern Territory (Administration) Act -

Crown Lands Ordinance - List and plans of the. hundreds of Gregory and Playf ord. Ordinances - 1953 -

No. 11 - Darwin Town Management.

No. 12 - Supreme Court.

No. 13- Oaths.

No. 15-Health.

No. 17 -Darwin Administration.

No . 18 - -Alice Springs Administration. Regulations - 1 953 -

No. 3 (Traffic Ordinance).

Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 (Motor Vehicles

Ordinance) .

Patents, Trade Marks, Designs and Copyright Act - Regulations -

Statutory Rules -1953, No. 89.

Public Service Act- Appointments - Department -

Civil Aviation - D. A.Gibson, C. W. S. Tilly.

Defence Production - B. C. White.

Health - K. R. A. Brock, T. A. Novell.

Works- W.G. Barnes, H. J. Bell, K. Bunting, H. P. Findeisen, L. J. T. Gamble, C. G. Jose, J. J. Meyer.

Repatriation Act - War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunals Nos. 1 and 2 -

Reports tor year : 1952-53.

Seatof Government Acceptance Act and Scat of Government (Administration) Act-

Ordinance-1953 - No. 13 - Scaffolding and Lifts.

Regulations- 1953 - No. 13 (Public Health Ordinance).

House adjourned at 10.58 p.m .

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 November 1953, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.