21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs, which follows upon an answer he gave to a question that I asked him last week. Has the Minister received from, the Chief Minister of Singapore a statement on the attitude of the Government of Singapore on the posting of Australian troops in Singapore? Did the Minister communicate with the Chief Minister at ‘Singapore? If he did 80. what was the effect of that communication? Has the Minister communicated with the Government of Malaya on the same subject? If he has done so, what was the result?
– As I believe I replied i.<> the right honorable member for Barton when he asked his previous question on these lines, neither I nor the Government has had any formal communication from the Chief Minister of Singapore. One of our Australian officers in Singapore has had a friendly discussion with the Chief Minister of Singapore, ranging around this subject generally; but I can say quite directly that no formal statement has been made by the Chief Minister of Singapore on this subject. Equally, in the course of frequent visits by our representative situated in Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, numerous discussions have taken place with the High Commissioner to the Federation of Malaya and, indeed, with other officials of the present Government of the federation. They were all private discussions, and as a result of them there is nothing that I wish formally to convey to either the right honorable gentleman, or the House.
– I wish to ask a supplementary question. Whether or not the communications were of a “ formal “ nature, can the Minister give the House the substance of the communications?
– My question, which is addressed to the Postmaster-General, refers to applications for a licence for a commercial broadcasting station in the shire of Gosford or Wyong. The Minister has been good enough to consider a number of the applications and refer them to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I understand that one of the main reasons why such a licence has not yet been issued is that the areas concerned are only about 30 miles from Sydney and Newcastle by air. In fact, the reception of broadcasts from Newcastle is very poor, and the only programmes received with reasonable clarity are those broadcast from the stronger stations in Sydney, especially in the daytime. Would it be possible to send an officer of the Postmaster-General’s Department to these areas to see whether it would be feasible now to grant a licence to a suitable applicant? If that is possible, will the Minister keep in mind that the area has a permanent population of over 80,000 people, with over 1,000,000 visitors during six months of the year 1
– I appreciate the need of the Gosford district for better radio reception, but unfortunately it is not possible to allocate an audio modulation frequency to that area, or indeed to any other area in New South Wales, with one or two slight exceptions in connexion with national stations. The position is that all available frequencies were allocated some years ago, and there are none that could be given to any district that was not included in the first distribution. However, I hope that during the next session the Broadcasting Act will be amended to provide for the allocation of frequency modulation. That might help to solve the problem.
– Will the Prime Minister, as a matter of urgency, having regard to the widespread distress among age and invalid pensioners, introduce legislation immediately to increase the payments to those unfortunate people? If the parliamentary programme fixed for this week will not permit such action to be taken before the scheduled time for the ending of the present sittings, will the Prime Minister have the sittings extended to enable the suggested action to be taken? Finally, will the Prime Minister have action taken to appoint a representative committee, including all religious organizations, before the budget is finalized, bo that pension payments may be fixed on a more realistic basis?
– This great problem will be dealt with by this Government, as it was dealt with by our predecessors for very many years, in connexion with the budget. That is the right time to deal with it, and that is when it will be dealt with.
– Can the Minister for Health state the financial gains that have been made by hospitals in the States as a result of the operation of the various phases of the Commonwealth health scheme ?
– Hospitals in the States have benefited directly from the national health policy of this Government in three ways insofar as their revenues are concerned. They have benefited, first, from the hospital benefits scheme. As a result of the operation of that scheme, the revenue of the hospitals now is £7,000,000 or £8,000,000 a year greater than it was previously. Unfortunately, the amount received in each State has varied according to the enthusiasm of the State governments in backing the scheme or altering their laws in order to permit the scheme to work smoothly. New South “Wales and “Western Australia are now receiving more of the total received on a percentage based on population than they would be entitled to if other State governments had done the same as the Governments of those two States have done. By comparison, Victoria and Queensland are noticeably down. However, we are hopeful that that position will be rectified by State action when the relevant figures are made available to the States, as they will be during the next few months. The medical benefits scheme and the medical scheme for pensioners have definitely helped hospital revenues by causing a substantial reduction of out patient attendances at hospitals. In fact, in Canberra for instance, in the three years since these measures were instituted, the number of out-patients has dropped from 10,000 to 6,000 annually. That is attributable to the fact that, first, outpatients were frequently pensioners who are now eligible for treatment under the pensioners’ medical scheme, and, secondly, many persons who receive medical benefits and pay only 2s. or 3s. a visit prefer to be treated in their homes. The superintendents of the great metropolitan hospitals have told me that the tendency now is for those attending as out-patients to be persons needing specialist treatment which is the proper function of their out-patients departments. The free life-saving drugs scheme has benefited the State revenues in two ways. First, it has aborted man* serious diseases and so lessened the number of patients entering the hospitals and. secondly, it has curtailed substantially the number of days spent in hospital by patients undergoing treatment for serious diseases. The result is that, though the hospitals are still full owing to the great shortage of beds, the capital charges od the States for new constructions are noi as great as they otherwise would be.
– Can the Minister foi Civil Aviation say whether personnel who were employed by Qantas when that company was taken over by the Commonwealth, and who subsequently were transferred to service with Trans-Australia Airlines, will receive credit for their previous service with Qantas, so far as long service leave and similar benefits are concerned - just as if their service wit>> Trans-Australia Airlines had been continuous ?
– I am afraid that .1 cannot give the honorable member a precise answer at this stage. As I remember it, Trans-Australia Airlines is crediting Qantas personnel with their previous service, so far as leave and superannuation were concerned, but there is a coinplication because Qantas has not always been wholly government-owned. At one time it was a private company, and then it was semi-private. That has raised » -few awkward questions, but as far as I know, Trans-Australia Airlines officials who were at one time with Qantas, are being credited with their previous service. I shall give the honorable member a more detailed answer later.
– Has the attention «f the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture been drawn to a recent statement, by a former Victorian dairy farmers’ representative on the Australian Dairy Produce Board, that much of the butter gold in Australia was of inferior quality because of the open competition for cream? Is it also true that the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation has asked for an increase of 4d. per lb. in the price of butter? Is it not a fact that in the last few years the consumption of butter has declined in Australia ? Will the Minister, before any agreement is reached on an increase in the price of this necessity, take into consideration the possible effect on the industry of the consumption of butter of inferior quality, and the fact that a rise in its price will put it beyond the reach of pensioners and the lower family income groups?
– I think I am correct m saying that in practice nearly” all butter produced in Australia is graded by the Commonwealth, under its export grading powers, prior to the decision as to whether it is to be exported or sold for local consumption. Almost all butter conaimed locally is drawn back from this source. The department’s butter grading standards are quite high, in the knowledge that our butter must be sold, as in fact it is sold, in competition with the best butter in the world exported to the United Kingdom. It follows, therefore, that the butter with which Australian consumers are provided is high-quality butter indeed. A careful watch is kept on any hat is below standard or on any tendency of a factory to produce below the highest standard, so I think there can be no real substance in the suggestion made. I have not received a suggestion from the authority quoted that the price of butter should be increased by 4d. per lb., but under legislation which stands the whole circumstances of the dairying industry will be coming under review in the near future. I remind the honorable member, and the people of this country, even to the pensioners, that this Government has done more for the butter-consuming public of Australia than have all other governments in the history of Australia combined. A subsidy to consumers has been paid to enable butter to be sold to the Australian public at a price lower than its cost of production under ordinary Australian standards. That has resulted, during most of the time that this Government has been in office, in Australian consumers having first-class butter provided at about ls. per lb. lower than the price at which it could have been provided had this Government not taken this action, which became necessary because of the dire straits in which the Government found this industry, following eight years of administration by Labour governments.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has received a request from the Queensland Premier that the control and eradication of Noogoora burr, Australia’s most serious weed pest, be placed on a national basis? Will the Prime Minister accede to the suggestion that a conference of Federal, State and rural experts, be held to discuss the possibility of eradicating the pest, which is causing widespread economic loss to the pastoral and agricultural industries ?
– A letter has been received from the Premier of Queensland on this matter and will, of course, receive earnest consideration. The Noogoora burr, as I understand it, is a menace, and is becoming more and more a menace. The interest of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has been involved in it. It is possible, by chemical means, to deal with the pest, but chemical means by themselves may very well be much too expensive, having regard to the nature of the land. As to whether the pest can be treated biologically, as was the prickly pear, that, of course, involves long investigation, as the honorable member knows, because we must be very careful about insects introduced into the country. I agree with the honorable member that the time is probably ripe now for a conference between Federal and State authorities on this matter, so that some plans to deal with it may be concerted.
(JOTTED NATIONS CHARTER
– Has the Minister for External Affairs anything further to report to the House on the proposed United Nations session concerning the proposal for a revision of the United Nations charter?
– An item is to be put on the agenda of the United Nations Assembly in September and October this year, which will invite discussion on whether a review session or a review conference of the United Nations should be held in 1956 in .order to consider the possibility of achieving some needed amendments to the charter. Under my direction, a great deal of work has been done in the Department of External Affairs on this preliminary study of the charter and directions in which these further amendments would be useful and fruitful. At the same time, we have corresponded with a number of other governments, in order to learn how their minds were working on this subject. As a result of that correspondence, it is clear that there is a good deal of scepticism amongst a number of other countries, and by no means only the smaller countries, as to any good that might come out of such a review session of the United Nations with the idea of amending the charter. I think it would be generally agreed that no very good purpose would be served if such a session were to be held which would result solely in acrimonious debates of one item or another of the charter. However, in spite of what I have said, I believe that it is possible at least, or probable, that a review session is likely to be held next year. I should think that a session to review the experience of the working of the charter over the first ten years of the life of the United Nations might be a good thing, although personally, I would not hold out any very high hopes of the emergence of major amendments of the charter. It has been said, I think by Mr. Dulles, that even in the absence of amendments of consequence to the charter, it might turn out that such a session would throw up proposals for alterations of procedure of the United Nations, that would make the business flow more smoothly than it has in the past. That is, broadly speaking, the attitude of this Government on this subject, and also the attitude, I believe, of a number of other governments.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware that citrus growers are alarmed at discoveries of fruit fly in certain Murray River citrus-growing areas ? . Will he, as soon as possible, confer with Ministers for Agriculture in the States concerned so that every possible action may be taken to prevent the spread of this menace?
– I have no official information, but I have had some advice and I have read something in the daily press to this effect. I acknowledge the seriousness of any encroachment of fruit fly into Victoria or into the Mumimbidgee area of New South Wales. That, of course, would be most serious. There will be a meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council within the next three or four weeks, and I shall see to it that consideration is given to thi* problem as far as it lends itself to consideration by that body at that time:
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the House how many merino ewes and rams have been exported to countries other than New Zealand since 1949? To what countries have they been exported, and under what conditions? From what studs did they come and who were the owners of this stock at the time of export?
– I shall be glad to give the honorable member such details as are available. I am not sure whether information is available concerning the ownership of the’ studs from which the stock came, but so that there will be no general misunderstanding about the position, I inform him that I think twelve merino sheep - in any case, that is approximately the number which was published - were exported to the University of California. I think there were four rams and eight ewes, but [ ask the honorable member not to rely on my memory being accurate on that point. The information has been published. Pour or five rams were also approved for export to South Africa. Those rams have recently been sent, or are about to be sent, and several have been exported also to the United Kingdom. That is the sum total of the permitted exports of merino rams from Australia, except to New Zealand, and except for » small group of non-stud stock which was exported to one of the New Hebridean islands, which for many years has been stocked from Australia. The published report that merino semen has been sported from this country is completely without foundation.
– Early in the present sessional period I brought to the notice of the Minister for Territories a petition from the residents of Norfolk Island relative to some of their complaints about the administration of the island, and I suggested that the Minister should consider sending a small parliamentary delegation to the island. I have since received numerous letters from residents who are still seeking a visit from a parliamentary delegation. As the sessional period is now coming to a close, will the Minister intimate whether he has given consideration to the matter and whether he has reached a decision upon it?
– In conjunction with the consideration that was given to the arranging of visits by parliamentary delegations to other Australian territories, I very carefully considered the representations made by the honorable member. The whips of the various parties have already been notified that, during the coming recess, parliamentary delegations will visit the Northern Territory and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Unfortunately, owing to the existence of factors related to transport and accommodation, we have found it impossible to arrange for a delegation from the Par liament to visit Norfolk Island during the approaching parliamentary recess. I hope that, at a more suitable time, it may be possible to arrange for a parliamentary delegation to visit the island.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. In view of the enormous amount of wheat in stacks in South Australia, and in view of the fact that all of this wheat, being bagged, is susceptible to a greater degree than is wheat in silos to attacks by vermin, such as rats and mice, and to weevil infestation, will the Minister use his powers, in collaboration with the Australian Wheat Board, to ensure that wheat from South Australia is shipped before that from other States which have bulkhandling facilities, in order to prevent further losses in bagged wheat? If the buyers of Australian wheat do not want it in bags, will the right honorable gentleman arrange for the wheat to be shipped from South Australia under the semi-bulk system of handling by having the bags opened at the hatches and emptied into the holds?
– I am sure that the honorable member can rely upon the Australian Wheat Board to take into account all of the important points that he has made in his question. One thing that the honorable member and South Australian wheat-growers might perhaps bear in mind is that Australian wheat is now marketed from one pool, and the return to all Australian wheat-growers is affected by losses occurring at any point and in any State. Consequently, it is just as much in the interests of the wheatgrowers of Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria as it is in the interests of South Australian growers that there shall be no losses of South Australian wheat. I merely remind the honorable member of that fact.
– Will the Minister for the Army say whether it is a fact that at least 1,950 forms of commission for officers of the Australian Army are awaiting his signature and that the delay in signing those commissions goes as far tack as the 7th June, 1954? When does he propose to sign these commissions ?
– My answer to the honorable gentleman is that the signing of forms of commission was never further advanced than it is at present. “When I took over my present portfolio I had to 3ign forms of commission the signing of which was four or five years in arrears. £ have brought the signing of such forms almost up to date, and that work has never before been in the position that it is in to-day. The implication contained in the honorable gentleman’s question is entirely incorrect.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral mindful of the dangers of permitting the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to exercise its authority for long periods with only two members constituting it, instead of three, a position which could mean, in fact, control by the chairman ? When is it proposed to appoint the third permanent member to the board?
– The Australian Broadcasting Control Board does not exercise its authority with only two members. At the present time there are two associate members in addition to the permanent members. The four members at present more or less constitute the board when there are matters of importance to be dealt with by it.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Immigration whether it is a fact that a ban has been placed on the emigration to Australia of residents of Lebanon. If that is a fact, why has that ban been imposed, and how long is it likely to have effect?
– It is not a fact. An examination of the situation touching prospective emigrants from Lebanon made recently by the Department of Immigration, has enabled us to work out a basis of selection which, I think will prove much more satisfactory to the people concerned.
– Is there a quota system ?
– There is no quota.
– Does the Prime Minister agree that the production of steel and coal,’ and the export of wheat and wool, are important to the development and the defence of the nation? If so, is the right honorable gentleman aware that, as a result of severe flooding in the Hunter River over the past few years, the harbour at Newcastle is becoming unusable by large ships? Does the Prime Minister know that at present a punt service to Stockton is unable to run and that this means that direct communication by road with the Royal Australian Air Force station at Williamtown is cut off? Does the right honorable gentleman also know that as a result of a continuance of the present silting in the Hunter River and Newcastle harbour, it is possible that a national calamity could occur in some future emergency? In view of this, does the right honorable gentleman intend to allow the position to get out of hand, until it is too late to act, or will he consider having Commonwealth engineers sent to Newcastle for the purpose of having an overall examination made to see whether, in the national interests, the Government should invoke its defence power and take the action necessary to keep Newcastle harbour open, so that it would not become a hazard to shipping in time of war, or interfere with the production or export trade of the port?
– I feel bound to say to the honorable member that I am not unfamiliar with representations by State governments that the cost of their functions should be taken over by the Com monwealth while they retain the. functions themselves, but I hope we are not coming to the pass where the responsibilities of harbour boards and harbour authorities are simply to be planked down on the doorstep of the Common wealth, because I venture once more to warn honorable members that if the time comes when the Commonwealth has all financial responsibility there will be an irresistible demand for the Commonwealth to have all power, and that would be a disaster for Australia.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the declared intention of the Government to investigate the building of a new type of passenger and cargo vessel to replace Taroona on the Bass Strait service between Tasmania and Victoria, will the Government consider appointing a joint parliamentary committee to consider all aspects of the service, particularly the type of vessel and the implications of a daylight service, as suggested ?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s suggestion to my colleague, the Minister for Shipping, who has the matter in hand.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he is in a position to inform the House where the members of the 1st Battalion, who volunteered for service in Korea, are at the moment. Is it correct that they are in Kure? If they are, does that mean that their services are uo longer required in Korea? Is it intended to return those troops to Australia in the near future? I ask that question because, apart from my own personal interest in the matter, I have been asked by relatives of many of the members of the 1st Battalion whether those troops are being intelligently and beneficially used in Kure. If they arc not being so used, when can it be expected that they will be returned to Australia or sent back to Korea, not only in their own interests, but also in the interests of heir relatives in Australia?
– The 1st Battalion of ihe Royal Australian Regiment is stationed in Korea. Portion of it may be on leave or on special duty at Kure, which is the base in Japan. The date on which the 1st Battalion is likely to return to Australia has not yet been finally decided.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is correct that the Government proposes to establish a joint- corporation with both government and private capital for the purpose of taking over the Commonwealth shipping line? If it is correct, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the terms upon which private capital will buy into this corporation will be closely safeguarded so that the give-away terms that were proposed for the disposal of the Commonwealth ships previously will not apply to the establishment of the corporation, but so that, if any private capital is taken into it, it- will be taken in only on just and adequate terms to the Commonwealth and the people of Australia.
– A brief answer to that question would be that I do not know, but the honorable member need have no fear. This Government is not in the habit of giving away property. J am afraid he has forgotten that the last time that the Government was attacked for giving away property-
– The Commonwealth Oil Refineries ?
– Precisely. I knew the honorable member would come in. He is always simple.
– On the last occasion, which was in connexion with the Commonwealth Oil Refineries, the give-away consisted of selling for £6 a share for which the Government had paid £1.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– Order ! The honor able member for East Sydney will remain quiet.
– I thought that was not a bad profit. It did not seem much like a give-away to me, but on that occasion Opposition members thought that the Government should have engaged in. some profiteering.
– We got the right price. We got a 600 per cent, return on the capital invested by the shareholders of Australia.
– Has the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture yet received a report on the success of the sales of south Queensland tobacco leaf held in Brisbane just recently? Were the record prices paid for this leaf due to the action of the Government in increasing the percentage of Australian leaf required in tobacco and cigarettes made in Australia, or was the Government’s action just a contributory factor and were there other factors that contributed to the record prices that were received by the growers ?
– After a long period of vicissitudes, the Australian tobacco leaf industry is enjoying, at the present time, a period of prosperity that is absolutely unprecedented in its history. In consequence, the expansion of this natural Australian industry has proceeded on a sound basis. This is clearly the outcome of the policy of this Government in bringing pressure to bear upon great manufacturing companies to include an appreciable quantity of goodquality Australian leaf in their product. This has produced a demand for Australian tobacco at prices which are profitable to the growers. The Government can take for itself the credit for establishing one Australian industry in a manner that no previous government was able to achieve.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that it is proposed to close the Brunkerville Post Office, a prefederation post office which has existed for 70 years? Is the Minister aware that this action will cause great inconvenience to people in the locality, particularly pensioners and those who draw child endowment? In view of that fact, will the Minister s;ive consideration to placing in charge of this post office a former member of the Women’s Australian Air Force who has applied to take it over and who is prepared to render the fame service as was given by the last person who operated the post office?
– The case that has been stated by the honorable member will be given consideration?
– I have made representations but the po”t office is to close on the fourteenth of this month.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Health a. question about recent inquiries into the effect of tobacco smoking upon the incidence of cancer, particularly cancer of the lungs. Is it a. fact that tar and its derivatives have been associated with the growth of cancer? Can the Minister inform the House whether inquiries could be made into this subject in Australia similar to those which have been made in the United States of America? If so, will he have public attention directed to the fact that there has been a very high percentage of wood tar in all the tobacco sold during and since the war, a fact which every smoker, and particularly every pipe smoker, has had cause to know?
– As it is about 40 years since I gave up smoking, I cannot speak with any authority about wood tar in modern cigarettes or tobacco. It has been found that tar can cause cancer when it irritates the skin or other parts of the body. As for the relation of tobacco smoke to cancer of the lungs, when doctor* differ, who is to decide?
– I should like to preface a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation with a few remarks on the buckpassing which has been indulged in by the Minister.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must ask a question.
– I have to preface my remarks.
– In reply to a question which the Minister for Government Transport in New South Wales was asked by letter, that honorable gentleman forwarded a reply stating that all efforts by the New South Wales Department of Government Transport to persuade the Department of Civil Aviation to agree to the establishment of a taxi-cab stand at Kingsford-Smith airport had been unsuccessful. In view of the desire of the New South Wales Department of Government Transport to license taxi-cabs to operate at Kingsford-Smith airport, and
So provide a reasonably cheap form of transport for the passengers who use the terminal, and in view of the continued hostility of, and complaints that have :been received from, airline passengers who are forced to pay the extortionate rates demanded by the operator of the hire-car monopoly which has existed at Mascot for some time, will t]]e Minister give his approval for the establishment of a taxicab rank on the basis of one taxi-cab to one hire car, and thus give all classes of passengers the opportunity of selecting their own means of transport, at a price within their capacity to. pay, bearing in mind the fact that Mascot is the only airport in Australia where taxi-cabs are not allowed to operate, and also, that the professed policy of this Government is fair competition?
– -As a result of intelligent anticipation, I have taken oat a few figures in regard to this matter. By way of explanation-
– I do not want figures.
-Order! The honorable member for Watson asked a question ; he should have the courtesy to liston to the Minister’s reply.
– The point is that there is only one licensed operator at the Mascot airport because the New South Wales Department of Transport has issued only one plate for the purpose. As far as taxi-cabs are concerned, I would welcome an investigation into the handling of all taxi services in New South Wales by the New South Wales Department of Motor Transport. With regard to the service that is provided to air-line passengers, for the information of honorable members, I point out that on two occasions when the activities of the operator who was approved by the Department of Civil Aviation were checked-
– By tender?
– The honorable member for Watson asks whether tenders were invited for the service. How could tenders be invited, in view of the fact that the New South Wales Department of Motor Transport has issued only one plate - a monopoly plAte. Tender. could not be called in those circumstances.
However, on the first day that a check was carried out - the 7th February - taxi-cabs and hire cars other than those operated by the established hire-car service carried 2S8 passengers outwards from Mascot aerodrome.
– That is, away from the airport ?
– The honorable member for East Sydney appears to be keen on the facts. They are, that on that day the established hire-car service conveyed eleven passengers to Mascot airport, and 174 from the airport. Compared with the small number of persons conveyed to the airport by the contractor, taxi-cabs and other hire cars conveyed 459 passengers to the airport.
– That indicates the preference of passengers.
– On that day, also, the established hire car service conveyed 174 outwards passengers, compared with 288 passengers who were conveyed from the airport by taxi-cabs and other hire cars. On the second day that a check was made - the Sth February - the established hire-car service carried seventeen passengers inwards and 144 passengers outwards, whilst taxi-cabs and other hire cars carried 383 passengers inwards, compared with seventeen by the contractor’s vehicles.
– What has that to do with it?
– On the same day that the established hire-car service carried 144 passengers from the airport-
– Who compiled these figures ?
– It is obvious that the person who compiled them could add up. I was saying, that, on that day, the established hire-car service carried 144 passengers from the airport, compared with 163 carried by taxi-cabs and other hire cars. It will be seen, therefore, that on one of the days on which a check was made, the contractor’s vehicles carried 185 out of the 932 passengers conveyed to and from Mascot airport by car; on the second day, his vehicles carried only 161 out of 707 passengers. That does not indicate the existence of a monopoly in relation to car services at the Mascot airport.
– I desire to address a series of questions to you, Mr. Speaker. In view of the apparent uncertainty and differences of opinion that exist in respect of the functions and powers of the Committee of Privileges of this Parliament, will you answer the following questions
– Order! Such questions should not be directed to the Speaker ; they are matters for the House, not for me. I am not a member of the Committee of Privileges. As the House appointed the committee, the House must answer questions in relation to it.
– Then I shall address the questions to the Prime Minister. Will the right honorable gentleman inform me of the matters with which it is competent for the Committee of Privileges to deal? What powers does the committee possess to compel persons, not being members of this Parliament, to appear before it and give evidence, and to be subjected to examination? What penalties may the committee impose for failure to obey its summons and directions, and what machinery exists for the enforcement of such penalties? Where it is deemed by the committee that a breach of parliamentary privilege has occurred, has it power to penalize by fine or imprisonment, or both, and what is the maximum penalty that may be inflicted on an offender? If it is competent for the committee to impose a term of imprisonment, what machinery exists for its enforcement, and in what prison would the sentence be served? Finally, are persons who are charged with offences, or summoned to give evidence before the committee, entitled to legal representation?
– I regret to say that as this matter does not fall within my jurisdiction, I see no reason why I should conduct a lengthy research into procedure which the honorable member has been here long enough to conduct himself.
– Will the Minister for Immigration inform the House of the number of non-European persons of both sexes, from Asian, African or other countries, who have been granted permission since he assumed office to take up residence in Australia; the number who have been granted permits to take up temporary residence and have continued to live in Australia beyond the period originally permitted ; and the number who have been granted permission to remain permanently in Australia? Will the Minister also inform the House whether he and his colleagues support the principle that has been adhered to by all previous Australian governments, irrespective of their political colour, thai immigration into Australia shall be restricted to Europeans or persons substantially of European origin or descent? In short, does the Minister support the White Australia policy?
– As to the detailed questions asked by the honorable member, they are obviously items for the notice-paper. Clear statements of policy in relation to this matter have been made by both -the Prime Minister and myself, copies of which can be made available to the honorable member.
– The question that I direct to the Minister for Immigration concerns the fact that, before a person purchases land for building in Canberra, he must sign a statutory declaration that he is a British subject. Is there any other city in Australia which refuses to sell land to new Australians? Does the Minister not consider that this is discrimination against new Australians?
– There are a number of provisions of that kind in the statutes of the States, but this is the first time that this particular restriction in the Commonwealth sphere has come to my notice. In some States restrictions are imposed on the purchase of land and the purchase of share-holdings, for example, in companies engaged in mining o operations and matters of that kind. This is, I believe, a carry-over to some extent of decisions taken in the very early days of federation, and it may well be that some revision is desirable, having regard to the large influx of European settlers which has taken place in the post-war years. This matter has been made the subject of some investigation by the Department of Immigration. It would appear to be a subject which might very properly be examined by a conference of Common-wealth and State Ministers at which the views of the Premiers of the States could be ascertained.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform me whether the Australian Government will seek and act in accordance with the views of the government to be elected next month by the people of the Federated States of Malaya, on the question of sending Australian troops to that country?
– I do not propose for one moment to be drawn into the trap of answering a question on policy designed for a particular end that is against a general Australian end.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Were Australian troops invited to participate in the defence of Malaya by the Malayan Government or the Singapore G overnment ?
– This subject does not lend itself to piece-meal questions and piece-meal answers. When the proper times comes, a statement will be made, probably by the head of the Government, which will cover all of these matters and set the minds of honorable members at rest.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the last annual report of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia asked for substantial increases of the rates of pensions payable to ex-service men and women, along the lines which have been indicated by various honorable members on this side of the chamber? Has the. Prime Minister made a decision upon the request by the league, which is supplementary to requests that have been made in this House? Will he indicate whether increases of these pensions are likely to be made which will restore them to the level that applied in 1949 ?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well, or he should know by this time, that this is a budget matter. I have not actually read’ the report of the league but, following my usual practice, I saw a great deal of the members of its federal executive when they met in Canberra. I have many interviews with them in the course of each year. The honorable member has made some reference to what has been said on the other side of the House. There is an ex-servicemen’s committee on the Government side of the House. That committee not only maintains constant contact with the representatives of exservicemen, but also maintains constant contact with the Government. In addition, we have an ex-servicemen’s committee of the Cabinet, and that has the advantage of direct discussions with representatives of the league. So we are fully aware of the views of the league. We shall deal with the matters involved in those views at the right time, which is budget time.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the House whether the right to operate the hire car racket at Mascot airport was given to the present operator by tender or by grant? If tenders were not called for, when does the Government intend to call for them? Why is such favorable treatment meted out to the well-protected individual who now operates this racket?
-I point out to the honorable member that I am responsible for the administration of the Department of Civil Aviation, in which there are no rackets.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr. Speaker. It relates to a question that I directed to you recently in two parts. Because you thought that I “went too far in the second part, I found myself outside, looking in. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that you were so busy having me suspended that you forgot to answer the first part of my question, so I shall repeat it. Will you arrange for a meeting of the Standing Orders Committee with a view to bringing the Standing Orders of this House into line with the Standing Orders of the Senate so that decisions and rulings by the Speaker will be subject to a vote of the House, thereby preventing the House, under any circumstances, from being subservient to the Speaker?
– I have no objection whatever to meetings of the Standing Orders Committee. As a matter of fact, the committee met last October and November and arrived at certain recommendations, which have not yet come before the House. I will not suggest under any circumstances that we should model our Standing Orders on those of the Senate. I do not believe in this House playing second fiddle to any other chamber. The word “ decisions “ was used in our Standing Orders, but when the Standing Orders were revised in 1949 and 1950 it was deliberately taken out. I did not take it out. The House took it out.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I refer to certain reports in several morning newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne last Friday to the effect that a group of Government back-benchers was advocating the replacement of several Cabinet Ministers. The names of the members supposedly working for this end were set out in detail, and the names of the Ministers supposedly concerned were also set out. In, I think, two of the newspapers concerned, the members were referred to as “rebels”.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman can deal only with his own case.
– I have risen because my name was included among the names of the so-called rebels. One prominent daily journal stated that the rebels held n meeting - T quote from the newspaper - “to attempt to force a re-shuffle of thi* Federal Cabinet”. 1 have mentioned the reference to a meeting because the Government members’ mining committee, of which I am the secretary, met in the House of Representatives committee room late last Thursday afternoon. It is an astonishing thing that a great many names of members of the Government members’ mining committee are included in the lists published by the press of the persons described as rebels. I feel that the press has drawn some astonishing conclusions from observing the members of the committee going to the meeting and dispersing afterwards. I am personally perturbed at the articles in these newspapers. They were all given front-page prominence, although, of course, they were completely false. Journals which are prepared to report members as conducting disloyal activities and to go to the extent of naming the members who they believe are engaging in such activities, as well as to list the Ministers affected, upon nothing but mere supposition-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman can deal only with ‘his own case. He cannot speak for other honorable members.
– Let me suggest that such journalism is journalism of the very lowest standard. Let me assure the House that my loyalty to the Primp Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government is, as it has always been, complete. I feel that I speak for those other honorable members who were named also.
– I wish to make a personal explanation on the same matter. In last Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald. not only my name, but also my photograph, appeared. I wish to state that, to my knowledge, no such meeting of back-benchers took place. If it did, I was certainly not present at it.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Hide and leather Industries Legislation
Repeal Bill 1055.
Social Services Bill 1055. Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits)
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received from the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) an intimation that he desires to submit a definite matter of urgent importance to the House for discussion, namely -
The urgent necessity of ending the monopolistic control by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited of the steel manufacturing ?nd of the iron ore resources of the Commonwealth in order to enable the urgent expansion of the steel industry to meet national requirements.
Fs the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
.- This matter has been a somewhat hardy annual for many years, but it now becomes a matter of acute importance for the Australian people and Australian primary industries especially. I am concerned with only one thing and that is the necessity to take action to ensure that adequate supplies of steel will be made available for Australian industry, both primary and secondary. I do not want to be sidetracked into arguments about the nationalization pf the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I believe that nothing would suit that company better than that people should distract attention from its failure to meet Australia’s expanding steel requirements by entering into an argument about whether it should be nationalized.
– “Why not?
-r-We can discuss that at some other time. I am concerned about the urgency of providing for greater steel production so that this country, which is being starved for steel, will not have its development throttled because of the failure of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to expand its steel production plant. This is the matter that Parliament should discuss urgently.
I need not emphasise the importance of the steel industry. Steel is basic to the development of any country with an industrial civilization such as ours. The iron and steel industry is, perhaps, the most important of our secondary industries, and is certainly the nerve centre of our entire industrial system. In peace time, iron and steel products are essential to housing and development of all kinds and, of course, in war-time they are absolutely indispensable. Despite this, we find that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which has monopolistic control of the manufacture, distribution, and price of Australian steel, as well as of our high-grade sources of raw materials, has failed to meet this country’s needs. I need only point out that, in the first nine months of the 1954-55 financial year, the value of our imports of steel was ?33,500,000, compared with ?12,500,000 for the same period of the previous year. Moreover, most of the steel imported COSt at least 50 per cent, more than the local product. Thus, at a time when we are facing a crisis in our overseas balances, and in our dollar payments, we have spent ?34,500,000 in nine months on imported steel, mostly from dollar sources.
I need not remind honorable members who represent country constituencies of the shortage of barbed wire, steel posts and other materials that are essential to the development of Australia’s primary industries. The development of secondary industries is also being hampered. I have in mind the building of houses, factories and everything else that requires the use of steel. Before World War II., the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was always able to meet Australia’s steel needs. To-day it cannot do so, and, in the light of its expansion programme and the increased consumption that may be expected, in the future it will fall far short of meeting our requirements. This is not only my own opinion, but also that of Mr S. B. Dickinson, who is the South Australian Director of Mines and Government Geologist. This gentleman, in whom the Premier of South Australia apparently has confidence, has produced a number of excellent and detailed reports on this subject.
I wish to refer especially to the appendix to his report for 1953. It is entitled, “ The Establishment of an Integrated Steel Industry in South Australia “. In it, this highly-placed and expert public servant refers, again and again, to the fact that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited ‘has a monopoly not only of the manufacture of steel, but also of the high-grade iron-ore resources needed for its manufacture, and states that the company’s failure to expand its plant may ultimately lead to the strangling of Australia’s development. He says that if a monopoly exists it must be prepared to supply all demands at a reasonable price : If it cannot do so it must accept competition. The question is, “ Can the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited supply Australia’s needs now or in the future? “ Mr. Dickinson then gives details showing that the company has failed, in the post-war years, to provide for the expansion of its plant. He points out that, despite the fact that Canada lies close to strongly competitive steel plants in the United States of America, the production of steel in that dominion in the last five years has increased by 132 per cent., whereas in Australia, which is much more favorably situated so far as raw materials are concerned, it has increased by only 21 per cent. Mr. Dickinson then proceeds to quote, from the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited’s own sources, figures showing its failure to meet Australia’s steel demands.
I feel that I need not develop the point that at present Australia is short of steel. The mere fact that it has to import more than £33,500,000 worth of steel annually is sufficient indication of that. I am concerned that even the company’s expansion plans, when fulfilled, will still fail to meet Australia’s needs by 1,000,000 tons a year. I am not referring to the company’s plans for the production of steel products which, in themselves, will lead to an increasing demand for steel. Our requirements of steel will grow year by year. Mr. Dickinson says that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited plans to produce 3,000,000 tons of ingot steel annually by 1964. But to-day, in 1955, Australia’s demand is in the region of 3,000,000 tons! Even that figure will not be attained until 1964 if the company is to be allowed to proceed at its present leisurely pace. The way in which our development will be strangled can be seen by considering Australia’s average steel consumption of 600 lb. per head annually in the light of the expected population increase. Plainly, the company is not facing up to its obligations.
As I said earlier, I do not intend to argue the- merits of nationalization, because if the company were nationalized to-morrow, it would not result in the production of an extra 1 lb. of steel.
– Why not?
– If this country had the capital needed to nationalize such an industry it would be better advised to spend it in establishing its own plant. This would increase the over-all production, and the nationalization aspect could be dealt with in due course. The vital problem that confronts us is the extension of Australia’s steel production. We can have all our arguments about whether these things ought, or ought not, to be nationalized. I do not want to be led off by that red herring. I want to concentrate attention on the fact that this vast company, by virtue of its complete monopoly of the manufacture and distribution of steel in this country, the fixation of prices and so on, and because of its complete monopoly of the resources of high-grade iron ore in Australia, is able to determine, irrespective of governments, just how much steel is going to be produced now and in the future. Because of the very basic nature of steel, that means that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is able to determine the rate of Australia’s future development. If the company fails to take steps, or if the Government fails to compel it to take steps, to increase production and to make provision for further steel production plants, all the work of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), and of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), will go for nought, and the developmental projects and plans of the various State governments cannot, possibly succeed, because apparently the company is either unwilling or unable to raise the capital and take the necessary steps for the establishment of such new plant. I do not think that a monopoly can ever be justified, and if it fails in its prime task of meeting the national requirements in an essential product, that monopoly must be broken and the Government must take its courage in both hands. I know that it might be said that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company
Limited is the golden calf of the Liberal and Australian Country parties and of honorable members on the other side of the Rouse. As soon as one talks about it, they say how efficient it is, how good it is at producing steel, and all the rest of it. They overlook the fact that the company gets its raw material from South Australia at a royalty of 6d. a ton. It could get the ore to the seaboard, I suppose, for about 5s. a ton. If the ore was being sold on a world market, in actual fact it would be worth £5 a ton. That b the reason for the cheap steel that the company produces. I have no doubt that, if the operations of the company were examined, plenty of deficiencies would be found in its organization, because some of the men it sent to the Bell Bay project do not seem to have been particularly efficient in carrying out their jobs. I believe that, because this company has enjoyed this monopoly for so long, it has become lazy on the job. It is not seised with the necessity for doing a job for Australia, and therefore this Government and State governments must take steps, whatever they might be, to see that further steel production plants are opened in Australia, and those steps must be taken urgently, because the company’s plans provide that in 1964 its output will reach our present requirements. To-day, we require 3,000,000 tons of ingot steel, which the company does not propose to produce until 1964. This job must be placed in hand immediately, and the key to it is in the control of the iron ore leases. I am ashamed to say that although the steel position is known in South Australia, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has 50 years’ control of all the high-grade iron ore resources of any account. That is Mr. Dickinson’s opinion, and apparently it is so. The Western Australian Government, which claims to be Labour, only last year gave this company rights for 75 years over all the Yampi Sound iron ore, which in effect comprises all the high-grade iron ore resources in that State, so any company which was induced by this Government or a State government to come to Australia and establish a steel-making plant must obviously fail because it would have no access to any of the high-grade iron ore in Australia. The high-grade iron ore in Western Australia is completely tied up for 75 years. That is a disgraceful state of affairs and is a disgrace to the government which was responsible for the legislation.
– There is plenty of other iron ore in .South Australia.
– It is low-grade iron ore, according to the experts who know all about it. What the honorable member suggests is not the opinion of the Director of Mines and the Government Geologist in South Australia, nor of other experts on thi3 matter.
– The honorable member never did want Yampi Sound to go ahead.
– It is quite true that for the sake of a tuppeny-hapenny plant at Kwinana, the Western Australian Government sold that iron ore, the birthright of that State, to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited for 75 years. All that the Western Australian Government will get is the 6d. a ton royalty, which the South Australian Government has been getting since 1930. Here we have an astonishing position. First, this company, which has a steel manufacturing monopoly, has complete control of the high-grade iron ore resources of Australia, and therefore any other steel manufacturing firm, whether government-established or privately established, could not operate in this country unless it was given access to something which has already been handed over to this company. Secondly, the company has a complete monopoly of the manufacture and distribution of steel, and therefore the right of fixation of prices and so on. This, plus the failure of the company to produce more steel, places a heavy responsibility on the Government.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), as we know sometimes to our cost in thi« House, is very expert at making bricks without straw. He is remarkably short of straw, if I may say so, in what he. has brought forward to-day.
– We are remarkably short of steel too.
– Indeed, and for steel we need iron ore. If he proposes to make steel without iron ore to the extent that he is making bricks without straw, he is pretty good. To whom is this matter directed? Is it directed to the Government? Is the Government supposed to do something about it? Is it directed to Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited? Is that company supposed to do something more than it i3 doing at present about the matter? Or is it directed towards some future, and at present unknown, potential steel producer in Australia ? The first question, which I hope is pertinent, is, “ Who is stopping other people from coming in to break this socalled monopoly in Australia? “ I know of nobody stopping them at all. The field of iron and steel making in Australia is wide open for anybody to enter if he pleases. If he lias the capital and can got control of the raw material resources, there is nothing to stop him at all.
– A pretty big “ if “.
– Indeed. That is one of the factors of nature, for which this Government is not responsible. Nature distributed iron ore throughout the world and did not distribute a very enormous quantity of it in Australia. The crux of this problem, of course, is iron ore, with which Australia is not very well provided. Certainly the company has its hands on an adequate quantity of iron ore, to last it, I suppose, for two or three generations, or something like that, at the present rate of consumption. Who knows? If anybody had control and had built up over the years an. enterprise worth, for all I know between £200,000,000 and £300,000,000, he would be completely foolish and imprudent if he did not at least secure his principal raw material for two or three generations ahead. I think that those responsible for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited would be foolish if they had not done that. It happens ent in the ri nine of it they have hold of Iron Knob in South Australia, and also the Yampi Sound deposits and a few other relatively small deposits in- Australia. It so happens that in the present state of our knowledge of the mineral resources of Australia there do not appear to be any other important iron ore deposits of good quality in this country. Whose fault is that? It is nature’s fault, not ours, nor that of the honorable member for Yarra. So I would like to know towards whom this matter is directed. If it is a general wail against events, fine I Let us all wail together, because we can wail just as adequately as does the honorable gentleman from Yarra. If the proposal he has advanced is supposed to be some condemnation of the Government. I say that the Government’s sheet is entirely clean. If we are supposed to be taking any steps, direct or indirect, to stop other people from entering the iron and steel industry of Australia, 1 say that that is completely untrue. I have had no connexion with, or interest in, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited at any ‘time of my life, nor have any of my family or associations, yet I have, with every other thinking Australian, the highest possible regard for the individuals who have built up the greatest, of Australia’s single enterprises. We all know that the man more personally responsible than any one else for the development of this great enterprise is Mr. Essington Lewis, and this country may well be very proud of him. The company is quite easily our most successful single greatest enterprise. As to the idea that the controllers of the company are sitting back on their haunches, and are slackening off in their endeavours, I say, with great respect to my friend, the honorable member for Yarra, that such a statement is completely untrue. At this moment, the company has a financial programme of development which will cost it something like £60,000,000 over the next five years.
– Approximately £67.000,000.
– My statement has been corrected. I shall say that it is a vast amount of money. Certainly, if we have regard to our immediate necessities, we can do with another 1,000,000 tons of steel a year. But does the honorable gentleman know what that, would cost, to begin with ? Et would cost about £100,000,000. It could be achieved only very slowly, by reason of the raw materials and labour that would be required in addition to that necessary for the expansion that is already proceeding at a cost of £67,000,000 over five years. Where i3 the man-power to be obtained to produce an immense extension of that sort? Where are the raw materials, other than the steel itself, to come from? Where are the trained- individuals to be obtained ? We could not produce another 1,000,000 tons of steel a year in other than a very considerable time. What has happened is- that, in spite of the urgent development of our steel producing capacity by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited1, the demand for steel in this country has increased very much more than has our production, largely by reason of the fact that this Government has been in office for five years and has produced a situation of stability, and confidence in .the minds of people, and because industry has expanded its activities in Australia. That has been the result of five years of Liberal government, and [ am sure the honorable member for Yarra would not complain about that. He would not complain about the stability and progress we have made even at the cost of having a Liberal government. I can only hope that the rate of progress will continue for the rest of time, but nobody can be sure that it will do so.
There are a number of other matters to which I could address my remarks. We now have to import steel at an appreciable rate, as the honorable gentleman has said.. We have actually been doing so for the whole of the five years that have passed, since our demand has exceeded the supply., The only reason that there has been a complaint about the importation of steel is that Australian steel is- very much cheaper than any other steel in the world, and that imported steel costs the consumer more in Australia. One of the great triumphs of this industry has been that we have produced the cheapest steel in the- world over the last 25 years - for nearly a generation - and that achievement is not just to be laughed off by saying that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has: had access, to high-grade and cheap raw materials. Plenty of countries have had access to high-grade and cheap raw materials. So we are met. with a complaint, because consumers have to pay more for imported steel than they would pay for Australian steel. If the price of Australian: steel were higher, there would not be such complaints; so those complaints are largely generated by the efficiency of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited machine.
The importation of iron, or steel, is not a new thing in the world. In fact, a great section of the American steel industry, with an output of 110,000,000 tons a year, is dependent on imported iron ore. The Massabi Range is tailing off, and a great deal of iron ore is being imported by the United States. The bulk of the steel production of Great Britain comes from imported iron ore. Japan is importing iron ore from the United States, and also coke and scrap, and is producing steel. I think that most of the steel-producing countries are, to an extent - and some of them to a developing extent - dependent on imported iron ore. There is no doubt that as time goes on, not only in future generations, but in the years immediately ahead, we in Australia shall be obliged to import iron ore from the Philippines, New Hebrides, and other places where it is available to us. Actually, at this moment, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is importing, certainly only on an exceedingly small scale, supplies of iron ore. So the importation of iron ore is not, a new development in the world. Most of the steel-producing countries are importing at least some- proportion of their raw materials.
I do not know,, unless one wanted to continue talking for the sake of talking, that there is a great deal more for me to say in answer to the. statements of the honorable member for Yarra. Of course; the honorable gentleman is right, when he says we need more steel. But what is the point of nagging and nagging on the matter? The point is how to get more steel. The necessary requirements, are vast amounts of capital,, vast amounts of raw materials and vast amounts of labour. The fact should not be forgotten that we have not unlimited supplies of iron ore in Australia, and I am afraid that except in the rather unlikely event of the discovery of great new deposits of iron ore here, we shall be faced before long with the necessity to import iron ore.
Still, what then? What is it all about? It is merely one of the many problems that faces this country, ls there any implied criticism of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited? I have said that the company does not need me or any one else to defend it, because its actions and record over the last generation defend it. Is there any criticism that can be properly directed towards the company because of the enormous capital programme of new investment upon which it is embarking at this time? At this moment, the company is engaged on a programme of increasing its steel production by 350,000 tons of steel a year up to 2,500,000 tons a year. The company is going in for the tinplate business at Port Kembla, at a cost of tens of millions of pounds. I do not think that any company could legitimately, with common sense and prudence, extend itself more than the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has done.
The honorable member has asked why some other enterprise does not engage in the steel industry. I know the answer to that question. Who is stopping any other enterprise from engaging in the industry? We are not. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is not. Who is stopping any other enterprise? Nobody at all ! The honorable member for Yarra has aired very, well one of Australia’s problems, from a sectional point of view, but I say, with respect to him, that he has not placed the problem in its proper perspective and balance, as I have tried, perhaps inadequately, to do. I have tried to fill in some of the gaps so that any Australians who may have been gravely concerned about this matter will see that the story is not entirely as the honorable member for Yarra has stated. If there is supposed to be some odium resting on this Government in respect of this matter, I reject the charge. There is no odium to be thrown on the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited in relation to this matter. All the honorable gentleman has done is just to air one of Australia’s problems - to drag the skeleton out of the cupboard and give it a bit of an airing.
– Of course, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has not really dealt with the problem. He simply says that we cannot do anything about it ; the monopoly is in the hands of a certain corporation that has organized itself well, and, for that reason, we shall not make any attempt to accelerate the production of steel in Australia. The Minister has also stated that no blame is attachable to the Government or to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. However, I point out that it is not so much a question of blame as to whether something positive can be done. The situation reached in South Australia is an illustration, in relation to this particular monopoly, of what is happening from one end of Australia to another in connexion with other monopolies. We had an illustration only a few days ago in the debate on shipping. Nothing is to be done about that matter. The Government says that it will see what can be done. As a result, nothing is done.
Let me refer briefly to the history of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. That company now has nothing to do with Broken Hill. It is concerned primarily with the great steel industry that was established in New South Wales about the time of World War I. as the company’s mineral deposits at Broken Hill became worked out. The company, it must he stated in fairness, made a very important contribution to the war effort, particularly during World War II., and to a more minor degree during World War T. There can be no question about that. But, as with all great corporations that extend their authority gradually from one domain towards another, one finds in the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited a typical example of a monopoly expanding beyond its original scope. One finds that this company not only ensures that ‘the raw materials available in Australia are attached to it, by agreements or leases, but also makes, with certain purchasers of its steel, arrangements by which those customers are unable to deal with any other firm. In other words, the company has expanded from a monopoly to something that might be called an internal combination. The time has come to review the situation and to examine the ramifications and organization of the company in order to ascertain what can be done to increase production. f have already referred to the contribution to the war effort in two world war3 made by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. It was not Mr. Essington Lewis, as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) stated, who founded the company’s steel enterprise. The late Mr. G. D. Delprat started the great steelworks at Newcastle. His work was continued by Mr. Essington Lewis, whose efforts during World War [I. were outstanding. Of that there can be no doubt. I think he was more patriotic and more intent upon securing for Australia the benefits of progress in industry than is the present management of the company. It is the very nature of this organization, which has a factual though not legal monopoly, to expand and extend its kingdom not only in the steel industry, which it established in this country, but also in all enterprises associated with the steel industry.
With the elimination of competition comes the opportunity for exploitation. This applies in Australia, not only in the steel industry, but also in the shipping trade. We are all well aware of the tight grip of the overseas shipping combine. It is recognized by the Government, which does nothing about it. The interstate shipping combine is similar in character. Associated with it is one of the great internal airlines - Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. The oil cartel, too, is now dominant in Australia. The only interest that the Australian Government had in the oil industry was its half share in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. That interest has now been disposed of and Australia is now in the grip of a great international oil cartel or combine. The position in relation to aluminium will be very much the same unless the aluminium production project at Bell Bay is pushed to a successful conclusion. A chemical combine also exercises a powerful influence in this country. In the field of retail and wholesale merchandising, the smaller businesses in the country towns of Australia are gradually slipping into the hands of one combine or another. In the insurance field, also, combines are powerful, and competition is declining. The same thing may be said of banking, subject to competition with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which this Government does nol favour. Neither does it favour competition between Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. It prevents competition and encourages monopoly and combination. In the tobacco and the timber industries, also, competition is being eliminated.
This problem is not new, and on thai point the remarks of the Minister for External Affairs were completely ai variance with the facts. The Australian Industries Preservation Act was referred to the other day during a discussion of proposed increases of shipping freights. That act was passed, and at various times amended, for the very purpose of preventing combination and monopoly which interfered with interstate competition or with the growth of industry in Australia. The provisions of that act could readily be invoked by the Government to enable it to conduct an inquiry to ascertain what can be done. Why cannot an enterprise such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited make available to other organizations for other forms of production some of the raw materials which it controls and which it cannot use for a generation or more? Why cannot that company come to an arrangement with the South Australian Government to increase production, if that government wishes to increase the output of steel in South Australia and the raw materials are available? At present, iron ore is taken from Iron Knob, in South Australia, to Newcastle, where the necessary coal is available for the production of steel. There is no reason in the world why the production of steel in South Australia could not be increased by the intervention of the South Australian Government, if that Government wishes the local output to be increased. I do not agree with the reference by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) to the position in Western Australia. I am not aware of any reservations imposed by the Western Australian Government on the use of iron ore from Yampi South, though [ presume that there must be reservations under the laws of that State.
The production of steel should be encouraged, not by expropriating the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, but by compelling it to submit to the Australian Industries Preservation Act, which enables the Australian Government, through the appropriate authority, to inquire of a monopoly or a combine what it proposes to do to alter an existing situation, where the activities of the monopoly or combine are detrimental to Australian industry, employment or production. I am sure that a case for the invoking of the provisions of the act can be substantiated. This is not so much a matter for litigation in the first instance as it is a matter on which an expression of opinion by the Australian Government is required. The Government claims to support the principle of competition, but what is happening in Australia is .not so much the maintenance of competition as the ending of it, owing to the growth of a great number of monopolies and combines. That growth, tq some degree, is inevitable unless it is carefully watched. It has been carefully watched, but the wrong sort of action has been taken. From the illustrations that I have given, it can be seen that the Government has actively prevented competition. The airlines are an outstanding example. An act of this Parliament prevents competition between TransAustralia Airlines and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited in freight rates on common air routes, and the like. The development that was expected when Trans-Australia Airlines was established has not been realized. I say nothing about the internal administration of those two airlines.
I wish to direct attention to a matter that dominated the .thinking of the United
States Congress for many generations. The people of the United States rely on the Sherman Act, which prevents monopoly and combination in restraint of trade.
– What did the right honorable gentleman and the Government in which he was a Minister do about monopoly between 1945 and 1949?
– As the honorable member is well aware, in that period the problem had not become acute. It is mere baby talk for him to ask what was done in different circumstances. The important question is : What is the Government doing in the present circumstances? Does it favour monopoly ? It is only common sense that maximum production can be achieved only by efficient effort. If the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which originally was a wellorganized, tight concern, has now become inefficient because it sprawls all .over Australia, something must be done to obtain efficiency and increase production. The benefit of this discussion is to be found in the fact that it has directed attention to the need for action by the Government.
,. - The proposal is supported, by both divisions of the Australian Labour party, and therefore, apparently, it 13 intended as a criticism of the Government and its policies..
– Tell us something about the matter under discussion.
– In a moment I shall. tell honorable members something about the Government’s record and the production record of Australia during the period that this Administration has been in office. Before I do so, it might be useful for me, in view of the quarters from which criticism of the Government has come, to refer to the situation in which the Australian steel industry would have been placed had Labour been allowed to continue to .exercise the responsibility ,of dealing with this vital industrial element of Australia’s economy. We have not forgotten - and it is worth -recalling when one has regard to what the Leader .pf the
Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has been saying about monopolies - that the Labour party’s real objection to monopolies is not to monopolies as such, but is to a -monopoly conducted by private enterprise. The right honorable gentleman is -entirely enthusiastic about monopolies when they are conducted by governments. Indeed, the official objective of the right ^honorable gentleman’s party envisages a national economy in which all the great -enterprises of Australia will be Stateowned, State-operated, and Statecontrolled monopolies. We have not forgotten the time when the then deputy leader of the Labour party, the Right Honorable Frank Forde, made a great cry about the nationalization of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited as being in the forefront of Labour’s programme. But when Labour came into office, and we expected that this plank of the Labour party’s platform would, almost overnight, be given effect, we found that, on the contrary, having had <a good look into the question, the Labour party had found that there was a fair Amount of ability in the -ranks of the ;people conducting the company. Indeed, the most ironical move of all was that the Labour Government confirmed the appointment, made by the preceding Menzies Government, of Mr. Essington Lewis as Director-General of Munitions. Far from Mr. Lewis being the inefficient character that the criticisms of honorable members opposite would have us believe to-day, so highly did the Labour Government think of his work as DirectorGeneral of Munitions that, acting quite contrary to all Labour party precedent and official Labour policy, it recommended the conferring on Mr. Lewis of the highest distinction that the Crown can bestow on an Australian citizen - the Companionship of Honour. That was a very richly deserved honour, and was a just tribute to the splendid contribution which this distinguished Australian made, not only to the steel industry of this -country and its development, but also to the total war effort.
– He is one of the greatest living Australians.
– I am .glad to have confirmation from the honorable member for
Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) that Mr. Essington Lewis is one of the greatest living Australians. I think we all agree with that assessment of him. I invite the House to speculate on what the situation of the steel industry would be to-day if the Labour Government had gone ahead with its professed policy and had nationalized the industry. What sort of development could we have expected during the years in which Labour was in office had that industry been nationalized? In a moment I shall give the House some facts which will show what the results of the efforts of that industry in recent years have been, and J shall ask honorable members to contrast those results with what might have happened if the industry had been nationalized by a Labour government.
The second point I want to bring to the recollection of the House is that at one time in the past the Labour party thought so little of the vital iron and steel resources that we are now debating that it was prepared to allow Japan to exploit some of our iron resources. We can recall vividly the occasion when Mr. John Curtin, who was later Prime Minister of this country, introduced, during the term of office of the Lyons Government, a deputation from the Labour Government of Western Australia which proposed that the whole of the Yampi Sound iron-ore deposits should go to Japan for a royalty payment of 6d. a ton. That was what the Labour party thought at that particular time of the importance to Australia of the steel’ industry. It was only as a result of the vetoing by Mr. Lyons, the then Prime Minister, of the Western Australian Government’s proposal, which was laid before the Government by a deputation introduced by Mr. Curtin, that those Yampi Sound iron-ore deposits have been conserved for this generation and future generations of Australians.
I shall now bring the story of the steel industry more up to date by giving the House a few facts and figures concerning it. One of the real stumbling blocks in the way of expansion of the capacity of the industry at Port Kembla during recent years has been the delay and frustration occasioned by the failure of the
Labour Government of New South Wales to extend harbour facilities at that port. Even to this day the port and harbour facilities at Port Kembla are not able to cope with the capacity which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has already established at that steelproducing centre. What is the good of Labour men pressing this Government to achieve an expansion of the steel industry, when Labour governments in the States will not even provide the port and harbour facilities that are necessary to cope with the steel production capacity that we have already developed during our term of office? I should like to give the House some indication of the fact that we, as a Government, have not been idle in this matter, nor has the company, because the great brunt of development has fallen on it during the Government’s term of office. When we came into office in 1949 the nation was plagued with shortages of all its basic needs. Coal, which was vital to steel production, was desperately short because of the turmoil that existed on the coal-fields at that time. There were also shortages of the various materials required to permit an expansion of the steel industry. We made a No. 1 priority in our programme of expanding the national economy the production of increased quantities of coal, and improved availability of that coal to the steel industry to enable it to increase its output. I should like to quote to the House some figures which will show the remarkable expansion in the vital steel industry that has taken place during the Government’s term of office, in the last five years. I shall give the figures in terms of production of tons per 1,000 persons, because I wish to take into account the fact that the population of this country has grown rapidly in recent years, and, therefore, over-all production figures might not be so illuminating as production figures that are related to population. The steel production per 1,000 persons in 1949 was 149 tons. By 1951 it had increased to 167 tons, by 1953 to 206 tons, and by 1954 to 218 tons.
– But 1949 was a year of great strikes.
– Then I shall go even further back than 1949, and still be able to make the point that I am making. J remind the honorable member for Melbourne that in the first half of 1949 there was no strike to affect steel production, yet the production of ingot steel in the financial year 1948-49, which was the last full year of the Labour Government’s term of office, was only 1,178,000 tons, whereas in the financial year 1953-54. which is the last full year of our term of office, it was 2,130,000 tons. Steel production has, therefore, been almost doubled since we came into office.
The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), who raised this matter as one of urgency, spoke of the money we had to expend from our overseas funds on the import of steel. It is true that steel is still in short supply. In 1951-52 we had to expend £73,000,000 on imported steel. The latest figures in that respect represent a very big improvement on, and a great reduction of, that expenditure. In the few minutes available to me I should like to give the House the remarks of the chairman of directors of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited which are published in its latest report, in which he alludes to the need to expand the industry’s production. They read -
During the five and a half years ended November 30th last, the iron and steel industry has spend £50,000,000 on new capital works in its efforts to keep abreastof the unprecedented rise in the demand for steel in Australia. This expenditure has been at the rate of approximately £9,000,000 a year. . . .
Ithas not been a shortage of capital that has prevented us from achieving the increases in capacity we have had in mind for a number of years. Our chief problem has been to obtain sufficient physical resources to carry out our programme of expansion. It is not always appreciated that Australia does not have, as yet, sufficient facilities on the heavy engineering and constructional side to permit a speedy execution of programmes of the magnitude We have been endeavouring to achieve.
The chairman also stated that, over the next five years, the industry plans to spend, if circumstances permit, a further £67,000,000 on additional plant, at the rate of more than £13,000,000 a year.
– Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That thebusiness of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - -Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I lay on the table reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Tariff classification of Singer sewing’ machine 20.
Vickers tractor control units.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) pro posed-
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the following order of the day, General Business, viz.: - Matrimonial Causes Bill 1955 - Second Read ing, being proceeded with forthwith.
.- I desire to know from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), who is the leader of the House, whether it is proposed that the Standing Orders shall be suspended later to enable the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) to proceed with the Civil Defence Council Bill 1955. or whether preference is to be shown to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), who wants to talk about divorce, which affects a few people in the community, whereas the Civil Defence Council Bill 1955 affects the very safety of the nation. Something must be done about civil defence, and done soon. I think the honorable member for Mackellar is to be commended for having brought the matter to the attention of the House.
– in reply - I am glad that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) seems to be solicitous of the welfare of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I always believe in the very good axiom that first things should come first. Therefore, we shall proceed with the motion as it stands.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
.-I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I have already informed the House of the nature and background of the bill, and I do not propose to repeat my previous remarks, but shall go immediately to the . measure itself. The main provision is clause 5, by which it is proposed to insert a new Part IIIa. in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1945. This provision relates to the institution of matrimonial causes by women in certain cases. It provides that a woman who has been resident in a State or territory and who has resided there for not less than three years immediately prior to the institution of the proceedings, may institute proceedings in any matrimonial cause in the Supreme Court of that State or territory.
Proposed new section 12a (2.) invests the Supreme Court of a State with federal jurisdiction, and confers jurisdiction on the Supreme Court of each territory to hear and determine the matrimonial causes in question. Proposed new section 12b provides that the Supreme Court of a State shall exercise any jurisdiction with which it is invested, and that the Supreme Court of a territory shall exercise any jurisdiction which has been conferred upon it, in accordance with its own law. It is my intention, when this bill is being considered in committee, to move an amendment to clause 5.
Honorable members may observe that the concluding words of paragraph (1.) of proposed section 12a of the principal act read as follows: - . . notwithstanding that she is not, or has not been for any period required by the law of that State or Territory, domiciled in that State or Territory. [f honorable members will examine the concluding works of the proposed new section 12b of the principal act they will see that they read as follows : -
The latter words do not include thephrase used in the earlier words of section 12a, referring to domicile - required “ for any period by the law of that State or Territory “. The suggestion has been made that that provides a loophole in the bill which would not cover certain cases. Although I do not agree with that contention it appears to me - and I have conferred with the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) and the Parliamentary Draftsman on this matter - that, it would be better to re-word the clauses concerned in order that there may be no doubt in the matter. Instead of the concluding words, of proposed section 12a reading “notwithstanding that she is not” it is proposed that the following words should be used: - . . as though she were, or had been for any period required by the law of that State or Territory, domiciled in that State or Territory.
It is also proposed to omit the final word*of proposed section 12b and insert i&> their place the words -
In accordance with the law of that State or Territory.
That is a simple phrase which indicatedefinitely what is intended. Therefor^. I shall move in committee that a newclause 5 shall be inserted which shall1 contain that amendment.
The only other matters that I need mention to the House in connexion with this bill concern clauses 3 and 4 which will repeal sections 7 and 12 of the principal act. Under the bill, the provisions of sections 7 and 12 of the principal act will be re-enacted. This has been done because there are now three parts of the act which will give jurisdiction. Parts II., III., and III. (a). The provisions which now appear in section. 6 of the act will, appear in Part IV., which applies generally to the previous three parts. They contain these important provisions in the earlier portion of the act, which are of a general nature, but which, for some reason or other, wereput in separate parts of the act instead of being put in the general part of the act to apply to other jurisdictions.
The only other amendment proposed concerns section 13 of the principal act which it is proposed to repeal and re-enact in order to clarify the matter. Section 13 was intended to provide that a judgment, decree or order given under the jurisdiction conferred by the act should have effect throughout Australia. The words of the original act are somewhat cumbersome and the proposed new section 13 provides in direct languagethat the decree shall have effect throughout Australia. I commend the bill tothe House.
– It is some time since the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) introduced this biB’ and. spoke in- explanation of it. Since that time,, the Opposition has had. an. opportunity to consider the bill in its original form. The amendments which the honorable member has foreshadowed will not alter the substance of the bill, and certainly will not alter the provisions which the honorable member intended to incorporate in it. The view of the Opposition is that the bill should be supported.
The Matrimonial Causes Act 1945, which this bill seeks to amend, had two -main provisions. One of those provisions dealt with cases in which an Australian woman had married a person who had gone overseas. Section 2 of the legislation of 1945 was designed to deal with such a case in which a marriage had broken up and in which it was found impossible even to ascertain the place in which the husband had established his new home abroad. It dealt with the -institution of matrimonial causes in relation to certain marriages which had been -celebrated in Australia after September, L939, when war broke out, and before a certain date when the husband was not domiciled in Australia. Of course, that legislation applied primarily to overseas servicemen, but was not limited to them. Providing for that situation was a new departure for Commonwealth law. Previously, wives who lived in Australia had no legal domicile except the domicile of their husbands. Therefore, in order to take divorce proceedings, a deserted wife had to ascertain where her husband “was domiciled. As there are 4S States in the United States of America there could be 48 different legal domiciles for <& husband who had gone to that country. The wife of such a man had to seek redress in the courts of the State in which the husband was domiciled because, by the general rule of law, that State was «her legal domicile. Consequently, many Australian wives who had been deserted -were unable to obtain a remedy. Such eases were not limited to the wives of (servicemen although they consisted mainly of servicemen’s wives. Certainly they were not limited to the wives of servicemen of the United States.
The legislation of 1945 provided that, unless a wife had gone abroad to live with her husband, she could institute proceedings against him in Australia.
She was deemed,’ for the purpose of such proceedings, to have sufficient domicile in, or permanent attachment to, the State or territory in which she lived. The law to be applied in such cases was sei out in section 6 of the act. That section provided that the legal domicile of « woman whose husband had gone abroad should be considered as being at the last matrimonial home of the couple or, if they had not had a matrimonial home, the State or territory in which the marriage was celebrated. That provision enabled fair justice to be done to an Australian woman who had been deserted and who could not, in any other practical way, obtain redress under the pre-existing law. The new provision was not unique. Analogous, and even more liberal, provisions are to be found in the law of England which has been carefully framed so as to prevent mere sham divorce which are sometimes known in the jargon of divorce lawyers as “ Reno “ divorces. This expression implies resort to a place merely for the purpose of ending thitie of marriage. Such so-called divorce* give rise to many questions as to their validity outside the State of Nevada. The legislation of 1945 clearly provided * means of redress which would be recognized, I think, in all other countries But the act of 1945 also dealt with an entirely different problem. It is important, of course, that the gap which was created under the 1945 act should be filled, because the law could not operate for five years after 1950. I think - the honorable member might correct me if 1 am wrong - that the last date of marriage would be June, 1955.
– That is so.
– This gap had to b* filled. The honorable member has taken the principle further in accordance with substantial justice, which I shall deal with in a moment. Before doing so, 3 want to point out a second provision which was put in the 1945 act by the Government in which I was AttorneyGeneral. Very frequently there had arisen in Australia a type of case in which a deserted wife had applied to a court of a State for matrimonial redress, such as divorce - that is, a dissolution of marriage. The first thing that had to he proved, in accordance with the law of the particular State, was the domicile of the wife, which followed the domicile of the husband. Therefore, if she had been deserted and had gone to another State, it was not easy to establish her domicile. In other words, there have been cases which have failed because the court had not jurisdiction to proceed. It depended on the domicile of the wife, which in turn depended on the domicile of the husband. Frequently, the court was unable to determine domicile. Even in cases where the court could determine domicile, if it was not in the State where the wife was bringing the proceedings, the court had no jurisdiction, and so had to stop the proceedings. That was the law before the 1945 act. The Supreme Court of New South “Wales could not give redress to a wife who petitioned for dissolution of marriage, or other matrimonial redress, unless the domicile of both parties was in New South Wales. The court had to inquire into the husband’s domicile. If it were established as being in Queensland, or if it could not be ascertained, the case failed. Remedy could not be given to a woman who clearly was entitled to matrimonial relief, because there was no uniform divorce law in Australia ; there was no -universal jurisdiction in Australia so far as the State laws were concerned. She was therefore left without redress.
– Could she rely m the last-known address of her husband ?
– There are what are known as presumptions in law. The court could take cognizance of the fact that her husband was last heard of in, say, Queensland, where he had been in business for some time, and from that fact might infer that his domicile was Queensland. It might even infer that it was New South Wales, where the wife was bringing her case. But it was a matter of necessity. That difficulty continually defeated the ends of justice, because of the expense involved. In the case I mentioned, the wife would have to apply to the court in the State of her husband’s domicile, in order to obtain redress. Therefore, the previous Labour Government inserted a provision in section 10 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1945, the effect of which was that if a wife resided in a State or territory for twelve months, thus establishing bona fids residence, she could institute proceedings in the court of that State or territory, and the court could deal with the matter, applying not the law of the place of the wife’s residence, but the law of the State or territory in which her husband wai domiciled. I think honorable members will appreciate the point involved. Domicile simply meant the place - such as the State or territory - which the law regarded as the permanent home of the parties - the permanent home of the wife being determined by the permanent horn* of the husband.
That amendment gave some relief, li enabled a wife who had been in residence in New South Wales for twelve months to prove to the Supreme Court of New South Wales that her husband was domiciled in Queensland, whereupon the court had jurisdiction to hear the case, unless there were special reasons for remitting it te Queensland. The court could say that ii had jurisdiction under section 10 of the Commonwealth law, and that the lau to be applied in that particular case was not the law of New South Wales, but the law of the State in which the husband was domiciled - in that instance, Queensland That gave relief in a large number of cases. The judges who have administered this section have always regarded it as providing a measure of relief - ai approach towards justice in these difficult cases. I assume that that section remains.
– What my honorable and learned friend, the honorable member foi Balaclava, has done has been to deal with the first problem, from the point of vie-vt of principle. In my opinion, although the measure does not go as far as om would like it to go in this connexion, it gives substantial justice. It provides, ir> effect, that if a wife has resided in a State - we shall assume that it is New South Wales, although it applies to each State and territory - and has been resident there for not less than three years immediately prior to the proceedings being instituted, she may bring action in the Supreme Court of the place of residence - the State or territory - as though he were domiciled in that State or terrirory. She is given, for the purposes of this measure, a domicile in her place of residence, that is to say, a separate home of her own for matrimonial causes purposes. The Supreme Court of each State and territory is empowered to exercise federal jurisdiction, in order to deal with the case. The law to be applied by the particular Supreme Court is the law of the State or territory, because that is the law of the place where the wife has been resident for three years and which is deemed to be her domicile. The husband has his own home - he may have deserted his wife or committed another matrimonial offence - and she has, by virtue of this measure, to show a sufficient attachment to that territory or State to warrant her being treated as a person whose home is in that territory or State. Three years’ residence, right up to the commencement of the suit, is the best possible evidence of that. The wife must establish clearly that she has not gone to the State for that purpose. Having resided in a State for three years, clearly she is a resident of that State and should be so regarded, apart from the law under which a wife’s domicile is determined by the husband’s domicile. Leaving aside that fiction for a moment, the court is entitled to say that her home is in that State, and permit her to bring action against her husband. I think that the honorable member for Balaclava will agree that, in substance, that is what is done. That is a great step forward, because it will give to married women against whom a matrimonial offence, such as desertion or adultery, has been committed, an opportunity to obtain redress without the old fiction that her domicile was governed by the domicile which the law attached to her husband. It takes up the cases that came to an end under the 1945 act. It fills that gap in a general way. It is not limited to the case of a husband who goes to another State. Where he may be does not matter. His domicile may be in another part of the world. It may be in another part of Australia, in another .State or territory. Tt may be anywhere in the world. She »v bring her case before a court in the place in which she has resided for three years up to the commencement of the suit. If she shows grounds for redress that accord with the law of that place, her place of domicile, she can get her remedy. That does not mean that she can do so without giving notice to her husband. The system of procedure pertaining to the courts of that place will apply; that is to say,- the matter will be brought to the notice of her husband either by service of the proceedings on him or by substituted service, which is service on 6 relative or someone who knows where the husband is. A court looks carefully al such matters in all cases. So the husband will know of the proceedings and will be able to defend them, if he so wishes, ll is not divorce at the will of the wife. Il depends upon the accepted practice of the courts that in these cases the husband, even though apparently he does not object to divorce, must know of the proceedings
A married woman will, to that extent, be given a domicile of her own in the contemplation of the law. If she satisfies the requirement of this law, which is three years’ residence up to the time when the suit is commenced, she will have the right to say that the State in which she has lived for that time is her place of domicile for the purpose of bringing s suit for matrimonial redress. Separate domicile has always been one of the demands of women’s associations. The’ probably want it for many purposes, but this measure is a recognition of the principle for the purposes of matrimonial causes. The bill will take us a step further towards the objective of e uniform divorce law for all Australia The ills which the bill seeks to remedy are not the only ones that exist. Even if Australia had a uniform divorce law, we should still have to deal with the problem of the husband being outside Australia The grounds for divorce in Australia var, from State to State. I think there should be a review of the position. Committees have been established to deal with the problem. It is a very difficult one, but it seems to be wrong that in Australia, where jurisdiction in matrimonial causes and divorce has been given to the Commonwealth Parliament, the whole matter should not be dealt with.
At any rate, this bill will remedy a grave injustice which occurs in a number of cases. It recognizes the rights of a wife in the kind of case specified. It says that it is right to forget the fiction that the place of domicile of a wife must be the place of domicile of her husband, wherever that may be. It provides that her place of domicile shall be the place in which she has her home. If she has lived in any State or territory of Australia for three years before the date of the commencement of proceedings, anybody who is asked where her home is will say that it is in that State or territory. She can start proceedings in a court of chat State or territory, and that court will have jurisdiction in the matter. It will always give the husband an opportunity to defend the case, and in certain circumstances it will not proceed with the case if it would be wrong in those circumstances to proceed with it. The court will apply the law3 of the State in which the wife resides, and which is treated as her State of domicile.
This is an important step forward. I congratulate the honorable member for Balaclava on the persistence and initiative that he has shown. Apparently, he had one or two competitors in the race for the recognition of legislative proposals during this session. What is being done is a good thing. I think that the time will come more rapidly now when uniform divorce laws will be put on the statute-book of this country, when we shall have one set of divorce laws, and when the matter with which the honorable member has dealt so efficiently will be merged in an even more important reform of the law. The Parliament of the Commonwealth has complete . jurisdiction over this subject matter, and is competent to pass legislation of this kind. [ do not know of any other kind of legislation which, in so undramatic a way, will remedy so many cases of injustice. There is nothing worse than a technical plea of domicile in cases to which that rule was never intended to apply. The amendment suggested by the honorable member seems to me to be an improvement, although I think the intention is precisely the same as in the original draft. We on this side of the House support the motion for the second reading: of the bill.
– I do not propose to detain the House for very long on thismatter. I should like to offer, quitebriefly. my own view of it. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) is a great expert on this branch of the law. There is no lawyer in Australia, who is more eminent in this field of thelaw than he is. He has given literally years of consideration to its problems, one or two of which are now before us.. Honorable members probably know that he was a member of a committee that wa» set up some years ago - a committeewhich included at least two other lawyers - to consider the problems of uniform, divorce laws. The committee did a lot of work on them. But the problem of” uniform divorce laws is a problem of” great complexity. We have in thiscountry six States, with six different setsof laws and six different sets of groundfor divorce. If we are to have uniformity, we must obviously have either uniformity upwards, so as to include what; I shall call the most liberal grounds fordivorce, or we must have uniformity downwards, and eliminate in some State** some grounds for divorce which now exist. It is useless to contend that theproblem is not one which gives rise togreat and sincerely held differences cf” opinion in Australia. There are thos«> who have what I have called a liberal approach to grounds for divorce, and there are others, including myself, who have a pretty conservative approach te*, the problems of grounds for divorce.
Therefore, it would be difficult for to get agreement very readily. Confronted with that clear fact, the honorable member for Balaclava has brought before the House a measure which is, if you like, small and quite simple, but theeffect of which in getting rid of injustice*will be out of all proportion to its size. I hope the measure will always be associated with the name of the honorablemember for Balaclava, who has promoted!’ it.
This bill, when it becomes an act, will,, beyond question, in my opinion, remove- injustices without creating a state of affairs which need jar the conscience of anybody in relation to grounds for divorce. The purpose of the legislation has already been, explained once or twice, but I want to put it in my own words. What it does is to deal with the case of a wife who would have acquired a domicile by residence, if a wife were entitled to have one, but who cannot acquire a domicile by residence because, under the present law, she takes the domicile of her husband. I speak subject to expert correction, but I think that it would be difficult to persuade any court to say that a married man who had resided for three years in a State of Australia had not acquired domicile in that State, [t is not a task that I would like to undertake if I wanted to establish that he had not a domicile because, after all, “ domicile “ is residence with an intention to reside permanently. If a man goes into a community and works and carries on his ordinary life there for three years, in nine hundred and ninety-nine cases out of a thousand the conclusion that that was his domicile would be simple and irresistible. He may have left his wife by agreement and then subsequently decided to desert her. He may have left her in the first place against her will. He may have disappeared “ into the blue “. He takes his domicile with him, and, under the law as it now stands, with certain minor exceptions which are not useful, the wife will not, unless she lives in a State for twenty years - not three - acquire a domicile in that State, and will not he an eligible petitioner for matrimonial relief. That is the whole point about this legislation. Should we put the wife on the same footing as the husband for this purely procedural purpose? Should we give her the same right in a State to pursue a matrimonial remedy as he would have in the same State after living there for three years? Unless we are to adhere to entirely outworn ideas about relative justice between husband and wife, it seems irresistible that this discrimination against a wife should be removed. The grounds for divorce remain untouched : wherever the proceedings are taken the grounds applicable in that State will be those already existing. It has an effect both ways - for both husband and wife - but it gets rid of a discrimination that has, I have not the slightest doubt, caused the most unutterable misery in many hundreds of cases and perpetuated an injustice against the married woman that civilized opinion should reject. I very strongly support this bill and hope that it will be passed.
Mr. JOSHUA (Ballarat- Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party [5.8]. This small bill has had the closest scrutiny by this party. I want, mainly, to say that any bill which touches on divorce deserves the closest scrutiny. We recognize, of course, that the family is the basis of the future of our country, and that matrimonial relations are the basis of family life. Anything that touches on matrimonial causes is, therefore, of the greatest importance to us, for easy divorce must be guarded against. We see the disastrous effects of easy divorce in some countries that regard themselves as having achieved great advances in civilization. In places such as America statistics show-
– Only in parts of America.
– Statistics show that one marriage in three ends in divorce. Therefore, we must be very careful to ensure that the law does not encourage easy divorce. Not only the parties to the marriage, but also the children - especially the children - suffer as a result of divorce. A recent account of the position in the United Kingdom revealed that in one year there were 38,00.0 orphans of divorce as a result of 30,000 divorces. The children of broken marriages have a very difficult time of it indeed. The death of one of the parties to a marriage often causes quite enough difficulty in family life, without the additional difficulty presented by easy divorce. Such children are a special problem to the community. One notices the difficulty that institutions have in simulating the environment of the home. The children cannot be provided with the balanced temperament that they find in their parents, and nothing seems capable of taking its place. The most tender care cannot replace the love of one’s own parents. Even parents who have strong clashes of temperament have a balancing effect on the child, with beneficial results for its upbringing. In schools one sees examples of the difficulty of bringing up neglected children side by side with children from happy homes. Even the worst of homes, in which conditions mill.tate against the upbringing of the child, ire preferable to institutions.
– I would not ay that.
– That statement is far more generally applicable than people realize. The incidence of wrong-doing among the children of broken marriages is very high indeed. The unhappiness )f the children leads them into all sorts if trouble. Statistics show that about 30 per cent, of the boys who go through the children’s courts of the United States of America come from broken homes. More recent statistics have shown that this estimate is fairly reliable. It demonstrates the great importance of doing everything possible to prevent easy divorce.
My main purpose in rising is to show that this bill has had the closest scrutiny by this party and, I hope, other parties also. Our scrutiny has been directed to ensuring that nothing in it increases the grounds for divorce. It would be regrettable if it did. I am happy to say that we have found that the bill does nOt do this, but removes an anomaly which, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies has pointed out, has put women at a serious disadvantage, compared with their husbands. The bill rectifies that position. The amendment does not appear to have altered the intention of the bill and, accordingly, we do not oppose it.
.- I should like an assurance from the sponsor of the bill as to the position when a wife refuses to follow her husband to whereever his domicile may be. As we know the law, the obligation to make a home and provide for a wife rests upon the husband. “When a wife refuses to follow her husband I fear that, after a period of separation, she may take advantage of this provision in the divorce law to seek a divorce from him, although during that period of separation, or at least at the commencement of it, his intention and determination was to make a home, perhaps where she was not willing to reside, in some other State or part of the Commonwealth. His intention would have been good and, by refusing to follow him, she would have become the guilty party, but after a period of years she could tak? advantage of this provision.
I have nothing against the bill from the point of view of removing an injustice. I agree that there are possibly some other injustices which need to be removed, injustices which have derived from the time when a wife was considered a mere chattel. This bill gives her some standing of her own, but I do foresee tb, danger I have mentioned. A provision similar to this already exists in the Western Australian law, so it would appear that I have no right, in the opinion of people in other States, either to oppose this measure, or to deny it my support.
As mentioned by the Leader of the Anti-Communist Labour party (Mr Joshua), and also by our learned and esteemed Prime Minister, we do not want to extend the grounds for divorce. I shall never agree to making divorce easier than it is to-day. I am quite satisfied that many marriages break up, almost before they start, because our divorce laws are so easy. I am firmly of the opinion that many marriage contract* are entered into, with one or both parties having an eye to that escape law by which they may get out of a solemn and sacred contract. They say, “Let us get our wood heaps together and see how it goes, and if it does .not succeed we can always get a divorce “. Our divorce laws are easy. In my own State, they are perhaps easiest of all, but that is not a commendation. I believe that jurisdiction over marriage and divorce has been included under the Commonwealth Constitution because of the tremendous importance of marriage in building up a good race. It is the national view, as well as my own, that marriage is a solemn and sacred contract. As the responsibility to legislate on divorce rests with our National Parliament, the law should not make divorce easy. It should be difficult to break the sacred contract of marriage. [ am not averse to the Commonwealth assuming responsibility at any time for uniform divorce laws, on condition - and L speak personally - that the grounds are not extended.
I commend the honorable and learned gentleman for introducing this legislation, but I suggest that he turn his attention to another aspect of the matrimonial causes jurisdiction in which unity is urgently needed - that is, the law in connexion with desertion. There we have a real problem, with husbands and wives escaping their responsibilities under their marriage vows, because of different laws in different States and the absence of adequate penalties where desertion has been established, and the offending party has quitted his or her home State. The absence of uniform divorce laws makes for injustice. The honorable and learned member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) is an authority on matrimonial causes, and he might turn his attention to amending the law in the direction that I have indicated. [ support the bill, but I ask the honorable gentleman to give an assurance that it will not enable a wife to obtain a divorce on the ground of desertion, even when she is the offending party. It is no good saying, when the husband is in Victoria and the wife in Western Australia, that he has the right to enter a defence in the action. His circumstances may be such that he cannot enter an adequate defence. The honorable gentleman will appreciate what I mean, because the cost of a divorce action is not small. A. husband’s circumstances may be such that he cannot adequately get the protection of the law in an action where he is not the guilty party.
.- Honorable members on this side of the House join in complimenting the honorable and learned member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) in assuming the role, if not altogether the style, of Sir Alan Herbert. The legislation which the honorable member has sponsored has removed the injustices which flow from gender, although it kas not removed the injustices which flow from differing State laws in Australia. This bill pursues the same method «f implementing placitum (xxii.) of section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution as was pursued in the legislation which the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) introduced when he was Attorney-General ten years ago, that is by investing State courts with federal jurisdiction under section 77 of the Constitution. The method so adopted wai held to be valid by the High Court in its judgment in Hooper v. Hooper, delivered on the 30th March last.
I must say that I think the honorable and learned member for Balaclava, and also the right honorable and equally learned Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), have been too modest in asserting that the delay in introducing a more comprehensive bill has been due to the intrinsic difficulty of achieving uniformity between the States. It is well known that over three years have elapsed since all the law bodies of Australia, barristers and solicitors, agreed on endorsing a bill which, I think, was drafted by the honorable member for Balaclava and a couple of other men. That bill not only codified the grounds for divorce in this country but also, if I recollect correctly, introduced for the first time procedure, under court auspices, for reconciliations between estranged persons. Therefore, it was dealing with matrimonial causes not only to end a marriage but to restore a marriage, and I, for one, would think that was an experiment which should have been persevered with, and I regret it has not been brought forward so far. One recollects that in previous sittings, the honorable member for Balaclava has asked the Prime Minister when this earlier bill would be brought down, and the Prime Minister has given the vaguest of replies.
This debate on the relative liberality or strictness of divorce laws has resulted in some unnecessary aspersions on the divorce laws of other countries. The United States, for instance, has 4? States, whereas, we have only six States and two Territories, and it is quite unfair to the United States to suggest that divorce laws are all of the Reno, Nevada, standard. Many of the States of the Union are much stricter in their divorce laws than are any of the States of Australia. Sneaking from recollection, 3 think that New York and many of the Atlantic and southern States do not grant divorce on grounds which are allowed by every State in Australia. I for one do not agree with the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) when he says that Western Australia is becoming the Reno of Australia.
– I did not say that. Do not exaggerate. I said that Western Australian law is easier than those of the other States now.
– I am glad we agree. The comments of honorable members on the Government side of this question are all the more remarkable because there are supporters of the Government who have secured divorces in Mexico or in some of those liberal States in the United States and have come back here, -and have been knighted, and their ladies have been decorated and have adopted new surnames by deed poll.
The power to legislate in regard to divorce and marriage has been in the hands of this Parliament ever since it was constituted. It is indicative of the timidity of all parties which have held office in this Parliament that a uniform divorce law has never been introduced. The sanctity of the marriage tie should not vary on each side of the border between States or the border between a State and a territory. The Commonwealth has always had this power and except in the legislation of ten years ago, has always refused to exercise it. This is one of the subjects where the opposition to Commonwealth legislation is not due to any feeling that the -States can exercise the power better than the C011.monwealth, but to the feeling that it is a power which neither the States, nor the Commonwealth, nor any one else should exercise. The present legislation does at least recognize the principle that there are some subjects on which we can achieve a modicum of agreement, belatedly, and legislate accordingly.
Sitting suspended from 5.29 to 8 p.m.
– The previous speakers in the debate on this bill, which was introduced by a private member, the honorable and learned member for Balaclava, have, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) down, approached the subject with some diffidence. They have been very anxious to assure honorable members that they are opposed to more liberal grounds for divorce being made available in this country. Although they have given approval to the bill, they have given it with several qualifications and reservations. The bill does not make available any farther grounds than are already available under the laws of the States. Therefore, it is quite irrelevant to consider whether any grounds for divorce under this bill will be more or less liberal than those already available. The hill gives no new grounds for divorce to either men or women. It merely affords to both men and women equal opportunities to avail themselves of the grounds that already exist under the law* of the States. It allows a wife the same opportunity to divorce her husband in the State where she resides permanently as for some generations a husband has had to divorce his wife in the State or country where he resides permanently. The measure may liberalize divorce in that many wives will now be able to divorce men whom they cannot locate in Australia or whom they cannot pursue overseas. Surely no one will condemn or resist the bill on that account. If it *i** wrong for a wife now to be able to divorce her husband in this way, it has long been, and still is, wrong for a husband to be able to divorce his wife in such a manner.
As I pointed out before the suspension of the sitting, the Australian Parliament, under placita (xxi.) and (xxii.) of section 51 of the Australian Constitution, has always had power to legislate in respect of marriage and divorce. The Australian Labour party’s policy is that there should be uniform laws of marriage and divorce throughout Australia. However honorable members who sit on your left, Mr. Speaker, may differ on some matters, they were all elected to this Parliament on that policy. They are all equally committed by decisions of long standing to press for uniform laws of marriage and divorce in Australia. If we accept the principle of civil divorce, there can be no opposition to a uniform code instead of the present eight codes - that is, the six State codes and the codes for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Moreover, can there be any objection to one code for Australians wherever they reside, not only in the Australian continent, but also in Australia’s empire in the islands off our coast and in Antarctica, where we have jurisdiction ? Surely this is. one instance in which this Parliament should enact identical laws for all Australia. Admittedly, in most other matters dealing with our civil rights, whether they are the rights that arise out of the injuries inflicted by one citizen on another, the rights that arise out of the crimes that one citizen is alleged to have committed against another, or the rights that arise out of the contract that one citizen makes with another citizen, Australia is not one country; it is eight countries. In that respect, this continent is in many ways as diverse as is the continent of Europe or the continent of Africa, because there are so many codes laying down, not only our rights, but also tho procedures and methods by which we may approach the courts to enforce those rights and the limitations upon our approaching the courts at all in those matters.
As regards marriage and divorce and, let me hasten to add, reconciliation - that is, in all matrimonial causes - there are uo inhibitions on the Australian Parliament, and there never have been. It is a standing indictment of the cowardice and the timidity of Australian governments of all political complexions that this elementary principle has been denied so long. I refer to marriage, divorce and reconciliation. Some reference has already been made, in rather surprising quarters, may I add, to the laxity and the liberality of the divorce laws in the United States of America, that is, in some, and only some, of the United States. I should think that in every State of the American Union there are at least more strict laws imposed on people who are about to marry than are imposed in any of the Australian States or territories. In the United States, two people may not marry without undergoing certain tests with respect to health, sanity, residence, and the like. In no part of Australia are such tests imposed. We are completely liberal, and even lax, in allowing any one who wishes to marry to do so. Sn long as a man and a woman are not parties to a continuing marriage, there is no prohibition on their entering into marriage. In most of the American States, some safeguards on the contracting of marriages are imposed, and it is high time that we in Australia imposed similar safeguards. This could be done by legislation passed in this Parliament. We at least should ensure that the people who contract marriages are healthy and sane.
We have already dealt with the subject of divorce. If there is to be divorce in Australia at all - and that is a proposition that has been conceded in Australia for some generations - surely there can be no reason for not having one law of divorce throughout the Australian continent and empire. As regards reconciliation, as I pointed out before, it is significant that the Cabinet has had before it for well over three years a draft bill prepared by the honorable and learned member for Balaclava and two other eminent practitioners in this field, Mr. Justice Toose, of New South Wales, and Mr. Alderman, Q.C., of South Australia. Those three gentlemen long ago drafted a bill to deal with all matrimonial causes in Australia, not only divorce, nullity and restitution, but also reconciliation - reconciliation with encouragement of the courts. Surely conciliation commissioners, if one may so call them in this jurisdiction, are just as necessary and valuable in matrimonial causes as in industrial disputes. The honorable member for Balaclava and his colleagues proposed a really good reform when they suggested that there should be reconciliation in matrimonial causes, and it is amazing that the Government and its supporters, from the Prime Minister down, have stalled the bill for so long and still have not presented it to this Parliament. Whatever controversial aspects there may be in marriage and divorce, surely there can be no controversy about reconciliation in these matters. It is time it was tried. It has never been tried under any of the State laws. This Parliament can enact a law for the purpose. Such a law, prepared by the most eminent practitioners in this field and endorsed by every legal body in Australia, has been before the Cabinet in draft form for more than three years, and, as I have pointed out, it has been withheld from the Parliament without explanation by the Government.
The placitum of the Constitution which deals with divorce and matrimonial causes also gives power to the Commonwealth to deal with parental rights and the custody and guardianship of infants. I should have thought that that was a non-controversial subject upon which the Australian Parliament could legislate without delay. There have been many distressing cases in recent years concerning the adoption and identification of babies. I know that the cases have not arisen in relation to divorce, and therefore cannot be the subject of legislation that would come before this Parliament. They were well publicized cases, principally because in some instances the litigants were financed by metropolitan daily newspapers. I cite them merely as illustrations of cases which frequently arise, where the child of a broken marriage has his parents in different States. When such cases arise there may be conflict between the courts in the various States, and injustice is likely to occur. The same position can arise in relation to the payment of maintenance or alimony. A wife may secure, from a State court, an order for maintenance or alimony against her deserting husband. She then has to go through an extensive procedure to enforce that order in any of the other States, or any of the Territories of the Commonwealth in which her husband may be. I urge the Government to exercise, without further delay, its undoubted power to introduce uniform legislation to deal with these matters throughout Australia. The present procedure is technical, dilatory and expensive. It is a matter in which there is no controversy and in which we are all alike guilty of perpetuating the injustices involved in the delay and the expense occasioned by this shortcoming in the law.
I make those suggestions so as to encourage men of the courage, wisdom and tenacity that the honorable and learned member for Balaclava has shown, after a great many disappointments extending over the three or four years he has been in this “House, in introducing this most valuable measure. This has been a poor session of Parliament as far as worthwhile legislation is concerned. One would hardly find a memorable piece of legislation among the bills with whichthe House has dealt. This bill is easily the most significant measure that has bees: introduced in this session. It will enable a great number of our fellow Australians to secure, before the courts, some of the justice that has hitherto been deniedto them, either because of the distance separating parties to actions, or the expenses involved in launching such actions. I feel sure that not only members of this House, but also all their fellow Australians will be grateful to the honorable member for Balaclava for having introduced and persisted with this bill.
.-in reply - This afternoon the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), raised two matters to which he desired me to reply. The first concerned the refusal of a wife to follow her husband to a new domicile, and the question of whether she would be able, after a period of some years of separation from him, to obtain a divorce decree against him. That prospect rather disturbed the honorable member for Moore. I can re-assure him that a wife who wrongfully, and without justification, refuses to accompany her husband to a new home is thereby guilty of desertion and, so far from her being able to obtain a divorce decree against him, on the ground of separation under those circumstances, he, on the other hand after some years of separation, would be able to divorce her. That matter was decided early in the history of the Commonwealth in a case that came before the High Court concerning a woman who would not accompany her husband to Western Australia, the State from which the honorable member for Moore comes, because she regarded it as an outlandish part of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Moore will be glad to know that the High Court did not agree with her views on that subject.
The other matter raised by the honorable member for Moore concerns the position of a husband living in a State other than that in which his wife is living. who does not have the means to defend proceedings taken by her in the State in which she is living. That kind of problem occurs from time to time in the courts, but as a general rule it is the wife, and not the husband, who is without the means to fight a case. Experience shows that judges, on becoming aware of the facts - which they can do very simply as a result of the letter written to the court office, which is always put before the judge - are not willing, if they see that there is a genuine defence, to give a final decision on the case until they have heard the defence. The customary procedure in such an eventuality is for the case to be adjourned for a reasonable period that would be sufficient to enable a man to obtain the means to defend the case.
I desire to add only that I wish to express my appreciation to the honorable members who have spoken in this debate for their kindness to me. I also wish to express my appreciation to the House for the courteous attention given to the debate on this measure, and also to the Parliamentary Draftsman and his staff for the assistance that they have given me.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bil] read a second time.
In committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 - by leave - considered together.
.- £ think that, whilst the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) is to be commended for what he has done in relation to this measure, the Government has evaded its responsibilities in the matter. The Government itself ought to bring down bills of this sort. It ought also to say at this stage whether it intends to bring down a bill to provide for uniform divorce laws throughout the Commonwealth, or whether the procedure, while the Government remains in office, is to be that we shall have piecemeal alteration of the divorce laws.
– Order ! The honorable member may not make a second-reading speech on clauses 1 to 4.
– To what clause is the honorable member speaking now?
– I am speaking to the group of clauses under discussion. I am attempting to ascertain the mind of the Government. I do not think that the members of the Government have a collective mind at all. At least, I am trying to put them on the spot in order to discover where they stand in relation to these matters, so that they may no longer continue to shelter behind the honorable member for Balaclava.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Institution of matrimonial causes by women in certain cases).
– ] move -
That proposed sections 12a and 12b be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following proposed new sections: - “12a. - (1.) Where a woman is resident in a State or Territory and has resided there for not less than three years immediately prior to the institution of proceedings under this Part, she may institute proceedings in any matrimonial cause in the Supreme Court of that State or Territory as though she were, or had been for any period required by the law of that State or Territory, domiciled in that State ot Territory. “ (2.) The Supreme Court of each State is hereby invested with Federal jurisdiction, and jurisdiction is hereby conferred on the Supreme Court of each Territory, to hear and determine matrimonial causes instituted under the last preceding sub-section. “ 12b. The Supreme Court of a State shall exercise any jurisdiction with which it ie invested, and the Supreme Court of a Territory shall exercise any jurisdiction which is conferred on it, by the last preceding section in accordance with the law of that State or Territory.”.
I have already explained the amendment during the course of my secondreading speech. It is a purely technical amendment, and I do not think I need to repeat my explanation.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Remainder of bill agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Joske) - by leaveproposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
Mr. HOLT (Higgins - Minister for Labour and National Service and
Minister for Immigration) [8.18]. - I am sure that, before this bill is finally disposed of, all sections of the House would wish to commend the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) for the industry, earnestness and application that he has shown in relation to this very useful measure. We tender to him our commendation and congratulations.
.- Whilst I join with the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) in his commendation of the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), I again repeat that bills of this sort should be matters of government policy, and should not be left to be brought before the Parliament by private members. The best that the honorable member for Balaclava has been able to do is em-, bodied in the bill that he presented to the House. For month after month he has queried the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this House as to the intentions of the Government, and at last he has been able to get something, but it is a very small amount.
– The late honorable member for Bourke, Mr. Blackburn, and I introduced a similar measure many years ago, as the honorable member should recall.’
– I do, but I wondered why the Minister halted in his tracks, because he did not go on with the measure. This bill is an expansion of the legislation that was introduced by the AttorneyGeneral of the Chifley Government, the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), ten years ago. Such bills should be the responsibility of the government of the day. All that the Government has done is to allow the honorable member for Balaclava to produce something which is only a part of what the honorable member would like to produce. It has said to him, “ You may go thus far and no further. You may have so much and no more “. But now the Minister for Labour and National Service rises in his place and commends the honorable member for Balaclava on his assiduity, his perspicacity, his perseverance and all of the other qualities that he has displayed.
– That is something I never feel disposed to say about the honorable member for Melbourne.
– And I kindly reciprocate that sentiment because, as a lawyer, the Minister for Labour and National Service is certainly not in the same class as the honorable member for Balaclava. That is my reply to that remark.
– There are some members of the Opposition who think that, as a deputy leader, the honorable member is not in the same class as the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
– That might be true,’ too. The honorable member for East Sydney may have excellent qualities. I compare myself to nobody; I stand on my own merits and my own demerits.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 2nd June (vide page 1416), on motion by .Sir Auth uk Fadden -
That the bill be now read a second time-
.- This is a bill which affects the retiring allowances of members of the Parliament and of those persons who are beneficiaries under the legislation that was introduced in 194S by the Chifley Government. The principles of the 1948 act remain unaltered. The Government has seen fit to increase the benefits that honorable members may draw from the fund when they cease to be members of the Parliament and which the beneficiaries, who are the widows of former members of the Parliament or former members, may draw.
It cannot be said that this is a revolutionary measure. Members of the Parliament will continue to pay for the benefits that they receive, with the Commonwealth contribution unaltered. The Commonwealth contribution for benefits to which honorable members are entitled is 60 per cent., which is the same as the Commonwealth contribution in relation to members of the Public Service under the Superannuation Act. We get no better benefit than do members of the Public Service if we cease to be members of the Parliament, either as a result of defeat or because we desire to retire on the ground of ill-health. It is proposed that the superannuation benefit shall be increased from £8 to £10 a week, and that the benefit for the widows of members of the Parliament shall be increased from £5 to £10 a week, but the contributions by honorable members will be increased from £3 to £4 10s. a week. There are not many people in Australia who are paying as much as that for the benefits they receive. Honorable members will be required to pay a 50 per cent, increase in contributions for the increased advantages. The Government has decided also that the investigation that was to have been made after the legislation had been in operation for a number of years will not now be made until - and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) will correct me if I am wrong; - about 1963.
– It will be made in 19.63.
– The fund is solvent, t understand that at the present time it has a balance of £157,000. The retiring allowances fund has always been actuarially correct, or has been, based on sound actuarial grounds. That cannot be said for some of the- State parliamentary retiring, funds.
– It cannot be said of fund’s administered by banking institutions, either.
– Yes, that cannot be said for some of the funds that are administered by banking and’ other institutions. I understand that some of the States started’ off by giving members of Parliament the basic wage as a retiring benefit for a contribution of 10s. a week. No actuary would say that a. retiring allowances fund’ could be financed on a contribution of 10s. a week. I understand also that, under those schemes, the. widows of former members can receive the basic wage. I understand, moreover, that in one State the contribution was increased from 30s. to £1 and that now it is £3 a week. Whatever criticism people may offer of retiring benefits for members of Parliament, nobody in Australia has a right to criticize the plan which was introduced by the Chifley Government, and which has been continued and extended by the present Government with contributions- by honorable members raised by 50 per cent.
Some people may say that members of Parliament ought not to be given these advantages. But a member of Parliament leads a precarious life. As somebody once said, speaking colloquially, he is a rooster to-day and a feather duster to-morrow. He is in favour with the people at one moment and he is out of favour at the next. I often think of Browning’s poem,, “ The Patriot “, which begins - “ It was roses, roses- all the way “,, because it indicates how fickle is the public appreciation of the services of those persons who are elected or anointed to representative or important positions. Members of the. Parliament are expected to divest themselves of outside interests and. associations. I should say that, in. the fifteen years that I have been a member of the. Parliament, all those honorable members whom I have met on both sides and in both chambers, with no more than a couple of exceptions, have answered’ to the highest calls and have risen to the highest heights of perfection. They have done their duty according to their lights, and they have not been swayed by fear or favour inrespect of what they have tried to do. Therefore, when a matter of this kind1 comes- before the Parliament. it is- quite easy for the- nihilists and the knockers - and we have more of them- to- the acre in> this country than there are in any other country - to criticize and try to deride the’ services that honorable- members render to the Parliament. Honorable members neglect their homes, they come great distances to Canberra, they suffera number of inconveniences, and they give of their best. I pay tribute to all those with whom I have ever been associated in the Parliament for what they have tried to do. Therefore, when ameasure of this- kind comes- before the Parliament, if any criticism is to be offered it ought to be offered objectively and not- subjectively, and the occasion’ should not be seized upon for the purpose of ridiculing or depreciating the services that members of the Parliament render.
If we are democrats, we must maintain the integrity of our parliamentary institutions. If the public loses faith in parliamentary institutions, democracy will be on the way out. The only alternative to democracy is some form of authoritarianism, and no real democrat wants that. The Opposition commends the bill to the House. Perhaps the Government has. been a little over-cautious in some respects. We think that, possibly, it might have done more than it has done, but I do not say that in a carpingly critical way.
I direct the attention of the House to the proposed amendment of section 20 of the principal act by the insertion of a long new sub-section. Members of the Opposition think that the matter should not have been dealt with in the manner proposed. Rather do we consider that the power should have been given to the trustees of the fund to make regulations, subject to the approval of the GovernorGeneral in Council, concerning the benefits which should be conferred.
At one stage, the Opposition thought of moving an amendment to the bill in order to provide that an honorable member might have a period of three months in which to exercise his option to receive any benefits conferred under the act, not only when re-elected to the Parliament if he had been defeated, but also if any substantial alteration is made in the contributions payable to, or the benefits receivable from, the fund. We considered that an honorable member should be able to make a contribution which would enable his widow to receive not £5 a week, but £10 a week, which is not as much as the basic wage. A former member, when he returns to Parliament, should, in order to protect his wife, have the option of paying back the full amount that he received when he left the Parliament. There is not a married man in this Parliament who would have been able to serve his country in this House as he has done if he did not have a good woman standing’ behind him. Our thoughts should be for those whom we might leave behind us if, because of the ifr. Calwell. vagaries of chance, we fall by the wayside and leave our wives with no real provision for their future, and die with the thought that they may have to sacrifice a great deal in order that they may continue to live in the way that we should have wished them to live. As far as I know, no honorable member in this House lives at a very high standard. Most honorable members are very humble in their way of life, and do not wish to be otherwise. But whatever contribution we have to make, it is our wish that our wives, if they become widows, should not be left unprovided for. The Opposition considers that the provisions contained in this clause should have been left to the trustees of the fund for consideration and determination, subject to the will of the Governor-General in Council.
I want ‘to say something about some people who, in other days, served this Parliament faithfully and well, and who had retired or had been defeated before the Parliament had the wisdom to inaugurate a pension system. I think of the Honorable Parker Maloney, who entered this Parliament in 1910 and was defeated in 1913 when the Cook Government was elected. He returned to the Parliament in 1914, and was defeated in 1917. He was re-elected for the division of Hume in 1922, and continued to serve until 1931. I think also of the Honorable Arthur Blakeley, who was first elected to this Parliament in 1917, defeating the Honorable W. G. Spence in the division of Darling, and remaining a member of this Parliament until 1934. I think of the Honorable E. C. Riley, who represented the division of Cook for a number of years. I think of the Honorable Horace Nock, the Honorable H. V. C. Thorby and a number of others. I think of former senators, including Mr. Herbert Hays and the Honorable J. B. Hayes, both of Tasmania. I think of Mr. James McLachlan from South Australia and of the Honorable A. J McLachlan, a former Minister, who left this Parliament after many years of service. All these people were not eligible to receive any benefit.
I might mention that the benefits tha! are payable under this legislation are not paid for entirely by members of Parliament. A substantial Commonwealth subvention is made to the superannuation fund. The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin) was previously a member of this Parliament for many years. He would have received no benefit by virtue of the period of membership, but when he returned to the Parliament, he became entitled to all the benefits under this legislation as soon as he made one payment to the fund. As we are doing justice to .ourselves, the Government should give consideration to the need of former members of the Parliament who, because of age or defeat, have left this Parliament and are now struggling against adversity. The Government should at least pay to them an amount equivalent to the amount that it is paying into the superannuation fund on behalf of present members of Parliament - an amount which I understand represents 60 per cent, of the total payments to the fund. I have received some rather pathetic letters from former members of this Parliament telling me of their struggles to maintain their positions, of having to sell their Commonwealth bonds and having little or nothing left in their declining years. As they have all done a very good job in the Parliament of the nation, and contributed to the progress of Australia, I do not think that they should be overlooked. I consulted my records on this subject. I have a good filing system on which I have worked very hard as the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) knows well, because I have often confounded him with information from it.
The Melbourne Herald of the 23rd June, 1951, printed an article in which it referred to the defeat, in 1937, of the late Right Honorable Sir George Pearce who was a member of this Parliament for 37 years and a Minister of State for 25 years. But he had been unable to make adequate financial provision for his old age. The Australian Labour party would like to have defeated him many years sooner, but he served very well in the Parliament. He was elected by the people and held many high offices. Yet it was left to his friends and admirers, in his declining years, to try to make provision for his old age. It is to the credit of the Curtin Government that, after the Menzies Government had appointed him to the Board of Business Administration in the Department of Defence during the war period, the Curtin Government retained him in that position, and also retained him as a member of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. A former member of this Parliament should not have to seek diplomatic posts or other positions in order to avoid facing penury. Sir George Pearce is dead ; but there are others whose positions might be considered. I suggest that the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) should in the light of this discussion, ask the trustees of the fund to prepare a scheme for his future attention so that we may do justice to those who served the Parliament in former days and who have not received the benefits of this scheme. Something should be done for the widows of former members and for the wives of these men who may die within a few years, leaving their widows with nothing to live on although the husbands have, to the best of their abilities, and in accordance with their limitations, rendered the Commonwealth whatever service they could to promote the common good of Australia.
.- 1 commend the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) for supporting this measure because, after all, it is a Government measure. Although every honorable member or his dependant will ultimately benefit from the bill, in the past we have witnessed the rather contemptible spectacle of honorable members of all parties accepting the benefits provided in certain legislation and yet seeking to derive some sort of temporary political advantage by criticizing the Government, and hoping to enlist public support by condemning the Government for increasing benefits payable to members of the Parliament or their dependants. Therefore, as it is the business of the honorable member for Melbourne to oppose Government measures, it is greatly to his credit to say, forthrightly, that the Opposition supports this proposal.
As all honorable members know, the occupation of member of Parliament is not a lucrative calling. This bill seeks only to ensure that honorable members who leave this House, or their widows, shall receive a pension approximating the basic wage. That is a very reasonable proposal. It should not be regarded as a superannuation proposal, but as a form *>f insurance, because the number of times when these provisions will be invoked will be, as we know, very few indeed. The Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) is to be commended in that the representations that have been made to him in this regard have been considered and met.
I hope that the public realizes that this measure is generally supported by the Parliament. It is not just a matter put up by the Government-one that is supported only by a particular section of the Parliament. It was recommended to the Government by the Amenities Committee, of which I am a member, and which the committee thought was, in a sense, .a minimum provision for the dependants of members in certain circumstances. I say this with some feeling, having been a member of the Parliament for ten yet.-rs, -and -a member of the Amenities Committee, and we having inquired particularly into the circumstances of members. It is quite obvious that at their present rate of remuneration and expenditure, it is altogether impossible for them - ‘unless they have other means to put aside - to make provision for their dependants. Of course, there are ‘critics in the press -and elsewhere. As for those elsewhere, I am bound to say they are mostly people who take from the public, in one way or another, far ‘more than do members of Parliament - by way of directors’ fees and other extractions, levies which the public nevertheless has to bear. And to the press, whose ‘representatives are, I hope, istening attentively, I say that, on the whole, members of Parliament and their dependants make far less a levy on the public than do they in order to make all the -provisions which their employment makes necessary. If it is not asking them too much, I hope that when this matter is presented to the public there will be no misrepresentation; if the facts are put quite plainly to the people, I believe they will be readily understood.
As a last word. I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr.
Calwell) that provision should also be made for those who served in this Parliament in times past, when there was no insurance, or superannuation, or whatever it might be called, and now find themselves in straitened circumstances. I think it is a disgrace to this very wealthy country - we have many prosperous sections in it - that those who tried to help us along the way a bit in the past, or some of their dependants, now find themselves in wretched circumstances. That is all I have to say about the matter, except that I commend the honorable member for Melbourne for his support of the measure.
– I shall make my attitude towards this bill perfectly plain. I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that the bill is long overdue. The only comment that I want to make about it is that I think the Government has made a grievous error in asking members of this Parliament to pay £4 10s. every week out of their salary to provide a pension which, at the best, after they reach 65 years of age, will disqualify them from receiving the full benefit of the age pension, and will leave a member with a wife of pensionable age with .exactly £8 a week more than they would get if they saved nothing and contributed not a penny, but had fallen back on the age pension itself. It is about time the people of Australia were told -that the parliamentary pension - which the newspapers have had a lot to say about and on which they have printed so many articles - is a pension for which the members themselves pay very dearly. It is not a pension in the sense that it is something that is- ladled out to members of .Parliament as nine-tenths of the people imagine it to be. It is a pension which members of this Parliament are compelled to pay for, .irrespective of whether or not they wish to do so, and irrespective of whether their prospects of receiving it are good or bad. They are compelled to pay £4 10s. .-a week out of their salary into the fund. I should like to know whether some of the people who criticize the Parliament for making this provision for its members would be themselves prepared to pay £4 10s. a week out of their salaries in order to receive a benefit, when they reach the- age of 65 years, of only £8 a week more than the age pension, which they would receive if they had made no provision at all for their old age.
Another thing that should be said at this stage is that the scheme for which provision is made in this bill compares poorly with the Commonwealth superannuation scheme and the superannuation provisions of certain private companies, which the bill seeks to emulate. To those who have seen fit to criticize the provisions of this bill and the previous measure that was enacted in 1948, I pose the question : How many of the people who criticized members of Parliament for providing for themselves in this way, and paying, very liberally into the fund,, would be prepared, to do likewise ? If, to-morrow morning, 120 persons in the community were elected to take the place of 120 members who are sitting in this chamber to-night, I wonder how many of them, when they found that they had the power to do so, would compel themselves to pay as much in order to give themselves the right of a pension, as we are compelling, ourselves by this measure to do?
The honorable member for Melbourne told the House that there is, at this moment, standing to the credit of the Parliamentary pensions fund, or superannuation fund, or whatever it might be called, an amount of £157,000. Let me tell the public of Australia that all of that money has been contributed by members of Parliament; not a penny of it has come from the taxpayers’ purse. One would think from newspaper comments, and from letters from ill-advised persons which have been published in the various’ newspapers^ that this fund had been’ established with the taxpayers’ money. It cannot be repeated too often that the fund is- one that the members of Parliament have- themselves paid dearly to establish. That we have done- so is proved by the fact that, after meeting all legitimate commitments, the fund now has a credit balance of £157,000. It has grown gradually since it was established in 1948. If it continues to increase at the same rate, in ten years’ time it will have a credit balance of about £250,000. All of the money in the fund has been contributed by members of the Parliament; it has not come from the pockets of the taxpayers, as has been stated by some of the people who have criticized us.
Let us compare this scheme with the scheme that was established by the Vietorian Parliament. Under the Victorian scheme, upon retirement every member of the Victorian Parliament or, in the event of his death, his widow, receivesno less than the basic wage, which is in the vicinity of £12 a week. When the scheme was commenced, the members of the Victorian Parliament were required to contribute 10s. a week to the fund. Subsequently, the amount of contribution was increased to £1 a week. But evennow, the members of the Victorian Parliament pay no more than £3 a week into the fund. Should they die, their, widows receive £2 a. week more in pension than would any of our wives, upon, our death, despite the fact that, under, the provisions of this bill, we will pay £4 10s. a week into our fund. I venture to say that no insurance company in Australia, if given the opportunity to handle a scheme under which 180 persons are compelled to pay premiums of £4 10s. a week,, would not be prepared to snap it up and pay the benefits for which this bill provides, bearing in mind the conditions- appertaining to parliamentary life.
– They would probably give double the benefits.
– That may be so. I point out that the members of this Parliament are also obliged to pay the same rates of income tax and social services contributions - which provide for age pensions and other social services - as other members of the community. We are not tax free, as the community at large seems to think we are. Evidently,, judging us by their own standards, some people believe that, as we are1 in Parliament- and have the power to exempt ourselves from taxation, that is the obvious thing for us to do. The fact is that every member of this Parliament pays the- same rates of income tax and social services contributions on his income as- does every other member of the community. The myth that members of Parliament do not pay taxes should be exploded, and the real position should be made clear to the public.
I want to say something else about parliamentary life. A man who enters Parliament is compelled, as a result, to sacrifice all the best things in life. He is compelled to sacrifice his home life. He is compelled to sacrifice the great pleasure of living with his wife and the joy of the company of his children. He has to attend Parliament and spend weeks on end without seeing the people who are nearest and dearest to him in this world. It is not physically possible for him to take them with him. It is not possible to assess in terms of money the sacrifices that a member of Parliament has to make in that way alone.
In addition to paying taxes, every member of Parliament is compelled to provide himself with a car. The cost of running a car, including the cost of insurance, is at least £4 or £5 a week, if one takes into account depreciation and the like. Members of Parliament are not given government cars so that ‘ they can roam all over the countryside free of charge, as some sections of the community believe. Every time an election is held, which is at least every three years, a member of Parliament is compelled to pay large sums to cover his election expenses. It is no exaggeration to say that some honorable members spend at least £200 or £300 a year, averaged over a three-year term, to cover their election expenses and the cost of maintaining contact with, and servicing in an electoral way, the districts they represent. In addition, they have to pay for their telephones. A member of Parliament is not given a telephone in his home rent-free, as a lot of people imagine. Members of Parliament also have to make donations to various organizations and they have to bear the costs associated with research work. There is not a member of this Parliament who does not spend £1 to £3 a week on magazines, overseas publications and the like in order to keep abreast of political trends in this country and overseas.
There has been some criticism of the pension which a Prime Minister receives on retirement and of the pension which the wife of a Prime Minister is entitled to receive on the death of her husband. I am prepared to say that any man, whether he belongs to the Liberal party, the Australian Labour party or any other party, who accepts the position of Prime Minister of this country, takes on a man-killing job. He gives, not only his services, but also some of his life while he occupies that position. I invite the House to remember men like J. A. Lyons, J. H. Scullin, John Curtin, J. B. Chifley, the present Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Mr. Lyons and Mr. Curtin died in harness as Prime Minister. Mr. Lyons, Mr. Scullin, Mr. Curtin and Mr. Chifley died as a result of the terrific stresses and strains placed upon them. I do not begrudge the salary that any Minister gets. Any Minister of any government deserves every single penny that he is paid, because a Minister’s job is most onerous. In spite of what is said about Ministers by some people, I say that any Minister, whether he be a Minister in a Liberal government, a Labour government or any other kind of government, earns his money. No Minister can do his job properly - most of them- do it to the best of their ability - without chopping years off his life.
I believe that the financial position of members of Parliament is misunderstood by the public. Many members of the public believe that practically every member of the Parliament is handed large sums of money in bribes. A fantastic notion exists in the imaginations of some people that every member of Parliament accepts his salary only, so to speak, as a pastime or hobby, and that he lives on bribes. Speaking from my own experience, I guarantee that not one member of this Parliament has had the misfortune to be offered a bribe. I guarantee also that if any honorable member were offered a bribe, he would immediately have the person dealt with in accordance with the laws of the land. That is all I want to say-
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) is one of the honorable members who will benefit from this measure. After the next general election, he will be eligible for a pension. I do not begrudge it to bini. There are many members of the Parliament - I hope that I am one of them - who represent electorates in which it is impossible for them ever to be defeated. So the money that we pay into the pensions fund is money from which we are not likely to get any benefit, but I do not mind paying my contributions when I know that the honorable member for Gellibrand and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) will benefit from the fund.
– What about the age pension ?
– I have always said that the age pension should be more than £3 10s. a week. Having regard to the social services contributions which I and other people pay, we should be entitled to more than £3 10s. a week as an age pension. Using the same kind of mathematics, I say that, as we pay £4 10s. a week into this fund, we ought to get in return a lot more than £8 a week in excess of the age pension which we should get if we paid nothing into the fund and relied upon the age pension for an existence in our old age.
.- T find myself in accord with some of the things which the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has said, so I must steel myself to endure many sleepless nights. Rut I can solace my soul with the knowledge that I can violently . oppose him on some other things. I disagree with him when, he talks about the disabilities suffered by members of Parliament. I remind him that they are not obliged to continue to suffer for a day longer than they wish.
I wish to make only a small contribution to the debate. I do not intend to advance any arguments in favour of the amending bill. I consider it to be unnecessary to do so, because the principle of the bill is exactly the same as the principle of the original act. It increases the amount of the contribution in proportion to the way in which it increases the amount of the pension. I believe that a contribution of £4 10s. a week from 183 members of the Parliament provides a very formidable fund. Any argument against the bill, from whatever source, which could be regarded as valid, could be regarded as an equally valid argument against the original act, which was passed about seven years ago. My main purpose in rising is to protest in a mild way against what I shall call the mischievous, misleading and often deceptive press articles and radio commentaries on subjects such as this. In doing so, I shall not be defending myself, because what have been described as the inscrutable ways of Providence enable me to approach this subject uninfluenced by motives of self-interest.
Recently I read a press article that had been written on this subject by a prominent journalist in Canberra. If one divorces his comments from such facts as he adduced, one can find little fault with it. The fault lies in his failure to include associated facts that would have given the reading public a quite different picture. For instance, he made a feature of the fact that a member who had served for eight years, or in three Parliaments, would, if defeated or obliged to retire for medical reasons, be eligible for a pension of £12 a week. He emphasized this and left nothing to the imagination of the public. He made a neat little computation of exactly what such a member would pay into the fund and what he would receive if he lived for, say, fifteen years. He either forgot, or thought it not worth while to mention, that other members might be in this Parliament for as long as 30 or 35 years and pay £4 10s. a week during the whole of that period. I think that he would agree that this would counterbalance his one-sided argument.
It is pertinent to the consideration of a problem of this kind to remember that 183 members paying £4 10s. a week would contribute sufficient to meet the retiring allowance of 60 defeated members of Parliament. I do not think that there have ever been 60 defeated members of Parliament living at the one time in this country. This gentleman gave a further oblique twist to the facts by adding, “ When I say that they pay £4 10s. a week I mean that it is paid out of the salary that we give them “. He implied that we did not earn our salary because we worked “ only four or five months in the year “. I think it will be agreed that when one descends to such extravagances there is something inherently weak in one’s argument. No one will deny a journalist, or any one else, the right to an opinion - and the right to express it - but if he essays the responsibility of enlightening the people on public matters he ought not to say things that one can only describe as beyond fair comment.
Last Friday night I listened to what is widely known in Victoria as a commentary on the news. The source is not notorious for either accuracy or fairness in such matters as this. The commentator who, for purposes of debate, and because I am dealing with principles and not personalities, shall be nameless, began by saying that without apology he was taking politicians as his theme. Politicians are an ever-popular theme with a certain element in the community. Moreover, such a course relieves the commentator of the onerous task of thinking. To give colour to his statement he invested all politicians with hide of varying degrees of thickness. Lest any honorable member should flatter himself that the description could not possibly have applied to him, I may add that the variety ranged from thick to impenetrable. Having thus set the stage, he proceeded to deal with the subject that we are now debating. Naturally, I was interested. I would have been much more interested . if he had shown even an elementary knowledge of the subject upon -which he accepted the responsibility of advising the public. He first said, quite correctly, that the base rate pension had been increased from £8 to £12 a week. He then drew a completely false analogy between the approach to this retiring allowance and the approach to age, invalid and widows’ pensions - an ever-popular way of arousing resentment and indignation. I believe that neither proposition has any relation to the other. For good measure - and I want every honorable member to know this - he said that the politicians intended to rush this measure through in the last days of the session before the public woke up. Woke up to what? He obviously meant to convey the impression that politicians intended *o make a raid on public funds for their own benefit, while showing a callous disregard for the sufferings of less fortunate people.
It is noteworthy that this gentleman did .not make .a single reference to contributions ;by members of Parliament. He will perhaps be surprised to learn that I intend ,to .assist the public to wake up to both the facts of the case and the danger of placing too much reliance on weird fantasies such as were contained in his commentary. For instance, hp might well -have told the public .that since the inception of the fund, seven years ago, members’ contributions alone have totalled in round figures £1.90,000. Tie total pay-out in the same period has been £102,000. This figure includes lumpsum payments, in which the Treasury contributed its quota. The figures disclose that members’ contributions could have met every demand and still shown a profit of £88,000. The commentator did not tell the public this, for the simple reason that it might have said, “ Well, what business is it of ours ? “ He might well have told them that under the new scheme members’ contributions will aggregate £823 a week, and the pay-out, on present figures, will be about £263 a week - a credit balance of £590 a week in members’ contributions alone. To put it another way, members will pay in £43,000 a year and the demand will be £14,000 annually. Of course, the demand will vary from election to election, but I am talking about the position now and in the foreseeable future.
I intend to be careful that I shall not be judged guilty of myself making an omission. I agree that the figures that I have given, standing alone, could create a false impression. I have only recently been informed that two wrongs do not make a right. The fund was established in 1948 on a sound actuarial basis. It was to operate for seven years and then be reviewed. This is the review, and its very nature emphasizes the truth of what I have said. Under the new plan the Treasury will contribute 60 per cent, to the fund, .and members 40 per cent. The actuary, who is highly skilled, visualizes certain contingencies in the future. It may be beside the point, but I believe that such contingencies are more possible than probable. However, if it is possible that a crisis can occur, and an unusually heavy demand be made upon the fund, it is sound business practice to make provision for such .a contingency. In my opinion, one of the possible contingencies which was then visualized disappeared under the altered system of voting for a Senate election. Under the old system, the whole of one party could have been wiped out completely and, of course, that would have made a very heavy demand upon the fund, but I believe that under the present proportional system of representation it is highly improbable thai more .than six senators could be defeated at any one time. Whatever the future holds, whatever contingencies may arise, the cold fact remains that, .up .to the present, members’ contributions have been, «md for many years will continue to be, more than sufficient to meet every demand that is made on them. Of course, the Treasury pays its quota into the fund. We do not want to dodge any responsibility for that. It simply takes the money >out of the right-hand pocket and puts it into the left-hand pocket. Members’ ‘funds for contributions alone to-day show a profit, since the inception of the scheme, of £88,000, after meeting every single demand that has been made on the fund. I would like the journalists and radio commentators to take note of those figures, so that they may advise the public correctly on what is actually taking place.
The commentator I have in mind may hug to himself the delusion that he has, at least, penetrated the thick hide of one member of Parliament. As I bear no ill-will in the matter at all, I shall not begrudge him the satisfaction he may derive from so believing. I merely wish the public to know that there are two sides to every question. In his peroration, this gentleman chided members of the Labour party who, he said, were ever loud in their protestations on behalf of the social service pensioner but are now strangely silent when they themselves, are to benefit. He concluded by expressing the hope that some of them would have the guts - that is his language, not mine - to protest against this measure. I shall conclude by assuring him that if this bill had in it the implications which he suggests, or if his analogy between this pro posal and the social service pension proposals were real instead of visionary, the bill would never have been introduced into the Parliament. If it had been introduced in such circumstances, I believe that there would have been sufficient opposition from both sides of the House to ensure that it would never be passed. But neither of these things has happened, and the members themselves have contributed all >the money that has been required for pensions up to date, and all that will be required in the foreseeable future. The actuary says that at some time in the future something may happen. It has not happened, and it does not look lake happening in the near future.
Although I am not likely to get many results, I suppose, after what I have said, I appeal to those whose duty it is to <present the news to the public in a factual way, to see that in such cases as this, where the facts are known, they tell the facts, instead of inviting the public to make unfavorable .deductions from the half story which they present to it. Politicians are fair game for any one, and I do not think any of them cares a hoot for that. They are quite used to criticism, and they accept it, because they indulged in it themselves before they were elected. But on such matters as this, where the public is concerned, I believe that the facts should be presented. We do not mind fair criticism, but when we have criticism which is not fair, which is oblique and calculated to damage the reputation of parliamentarians, low enough as it is, I think it is time that the Government, or somebody, took up the cudgels and put these fellows on the spot, saying, “ If you do not, or cannot, tell the facts of the case, keep silent altogether “.
.- I support the measure before the House, although I must admit to a feeling of dissatisfaction with its contents. As far as it goes, it does improve on existing conditions. I am .glad of the opportunity to-night to explain some of its weaknesses and shortcomings, and to endeavour to enlighten the general public, particularly those journalists who like to write smart articles in the Australian daily press in regard to ‘the provisions of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act, because
I am firmly convinced that either these journalists are completely ignorant of the subject upon which they write or they deliberately misrepresent the true position in order to write a story which, they think, may tickle the ears of the general public. An act has been in operation since 1949, whereby members of Parliament, on retirement or defeat under certain conditions, can receive a pension of £8 a week, provided they contributed £3 a week to establish a fund. I know that actuaries were called in to fix conditions, to look into eventualities, and to ascertain the risks involved in such a fund. I know also that those actuaries were rather at a loss, because they had no previous experience to work upon, and that, to a degree, their decisions had to be made largely on guess-work, and actuaries, as I have found them during my life-time, ‘believe in safety first and foremost. They take every possible eventuality into consideration when they are estimating the risks attached to any contributory fund which will eventually provide a retiring allowance, or a pension, for any one. The actuaries worked, to a degree, in the dark. I suggest that experience since the fund has been in existence definitely shows that if the actuaries have made any mistakes in estimating costs, &c, they have definitely erred on the side of safety and security. The amount standing to the credit of the fund to-day bears out the truth of that statement. All the eventualities which the actuaries considered have definitely not occurred. The original bill provided, upon a contribution of £3 a week, for a pension of £8 a week on retirement or defeat after a specified number of years service in the Parliament. The fund has accumulated a very large reserve. I merely direct attention to one matter to prove that. The original act provided that after a period of, I think, five or seven years, an investigation would bp made into the fund to ascertain whether or not an additional contribution should be made by the Government to provide for the sum which was paid out of the fund to pensioners who had not contributed, or who had contributed for a very short period. Investigation after seven years’ operation of the fund has shown that there is no need whatever to call upon
Consolidated Revenue for any contribution, because members’ contributions have left a surplus after paying the fund’s share of the pensions of all those who did not contribute a reasonable amount at the inception of the fund. I contrast that with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Service Superannuation Fund which has been in operation since 1923. The first contributions to that fund were made in January, 1923. Any person who retired from the Public Service after the 1st November, 1922, was entitled to receive a superannuation pension although he had not made any contribution whatever. Those public servants who were over 30 years of age at the inception, of the fund, contributed at the rate applicable to the age of 30. Some of them contributed for six months, some for a year, some for 29 years and some for 30 years, but every one over 30 years contributed as at the age of 30. When those people became eligible, they received the full pension for which they were contributing, and the difference in pension between what they had paid into the fund and what they should have paid into the fund was made up from Consolidated Revenue. The base pension was £2 a week in those days. Of course, £2 a week then would be worth about £10 a week to-day. But of that pension of £2 a week, where the fund should have paid £1 and Consolidated Revenue £1, in some instances Consolidated Revenue was paying £2, and in some cases 39s., 37s. and so on. The fund did not have to find the full 50 per cent.
Under the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act, the contributors to the fund have provided the whole of the fund’s share of the pension since its inception in 1948, although the first of those ex-members ‘cho received retiring allowances had paid into the fund for a maximum period of twelve months, whereas the conditions of the fund provide for a minimum period of eight years. That is one way in which members of the Parliament have been treated unjustly in comparison with Commonwealth public servants. I have mentioned the Commonwealth Public Service Fund, and it is virtually on a par with every other government superannuation fund bich is in operation throughout Australia. There is no question of any charity given by the people to ex-members. Members are paying a very high rate, in fact a much higher rate than I consider is necessary to provide the retiring allowances that are payable. We find, under this new provision, that the retiring allowance is to be increased from £8 to £12 a week. We find also that the contribution to be paid by a member is to be increased from £3 to £4 10s., I suggest that, taking into consideration the credit that has already been built up in the fund, no necessity whatever exists for this increase of £1 10s. a week on the amount of £3 a week which is already being paid into the fund, which, I contend, is easily sufficient to meet all the commitments from it.
Another point is that ex-members who are already in receipt of a pension of £8 a week, will have their pensions increased to £12 a week. Under the Superannuation Act for Commonwealth employees, and every other superannuation act I know of, when payments to people already in receipt of a pension aru increased, the cost is met from Consolidated Revenue. But the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), in his second-reading speech, said that for the present, at any rate, persons already in receipt of a pension of £8 a week will receive £12 a week, and members of Parliament are to be called upon to provide the necessary amount of money to pay for that additional £4 a week. I have examined a few superannuation schemes, but this is the only one of them which contains a provision of that kind. Of course, we find that some alteration may be made after the 30th .Tune, 1963, but if members of the Parliament contribute, on the basis of £4’ 10s. a week, sufficient to continue to pay pensions to those people who are not contributing, then Consolidated Revenue will not be called upon to pay anything whatever. That provision is very unfair, and the Treasurer should re-examine it.
When a comparison of contributions is made, it will be found that 60 per cent, comes from Consolidated Revenue, and 40 per cent, from the fund contributed by the members. That was the provision in the Superannuation Act for government employees when the measure waa brought before the Parliament in 1948. Prior to that, the contribution for Commonwealth employees was on a 50-50 basis; then it became 60-40 and later 66-33. It is even better to-day. The unit of pension under the Commonwealth Public Service superannuation scheme was originally 10s., and 5s. of that amount was paid from the fund, and 5s. from Consolidated Revenue. To-day, because of the decreased purchasing power of the £1, the unit is 17s. 6d., and of that amount 5s. is paid by the Superannuation Fund and 12s. 6d. is paid from Consolidated Revenue. For purposes of illustration, let us consider a pension of £12 under the Commonwealth Public Service Superannuation Fund. Of that amount, the sum of £8 lis. 5d. is paid from Consolidated Revenue, and the sum of £3 8s. 7d. is paid from the fund contributed to by the Commonwealth public servants. But in the case of the parliamentary fund, for a pension of £12 a week, £7 4s. is paid from Consolidated Revenue and £4 16s. is paid from the contributors’ fund. So, when we make a comparison of that kind, we find that members of the Parliament are paying a very high rate for their pension, and the contribution from Consolidated Revenue is much smaller, expressed as a percentage, than in the Commonwealth Public Service superannuation scheme. I believe that a really sound argument can be advanced why both schemes should be worked on a similar basis. If the Government can pay a ratio of 5:2 for the Commonwealth public servants’ pension, it is only reasonable and just to expect it to pay the same ratio for pensions to ex-members of the Parliament; because when all is said and done, we are also public servants like the employees who are working under the Public Service Act.
– We have more expense.
– We have more expense, and we take, more risks. When we consider the availability of pensions to members of the Parliament, we must consider also what has happened over the years and also the length of service of the majority of the members of the
Parliament. Members of this House may be divided into two classes. The first class comprises those honorable members who are’ looked upon as holding safe Labour or anti-Labour seats. Members Who win those safe seats usually remain in the Parliament for a great many years. The second class of members to which I refer comprises those who have won what are known as swing seats. Usually,a member who represents a swing seat does not remain in the Parliament long enough to become eligible for a pension’.Upon his defeat, his contributions are refunded and the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Fund is not drawn upon, because the defeated member takes out of it no more than he has contributed.
If one studies the records, one finds that most of the members who retired from the Parliament and, under the provisions of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act, were eligible for pensions, did not live long to enjoy them. I should like now to mention the names of a few* former members of this House. It is not very long since” the former member f8r Bradfield, the late” Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, ended his career in the Parliament. He died as a. member of the Parliament after 52 years of service in this House. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to estimate how much the late fight honorable member would have paid into the fund, had the scheme existed throughout the years since federation. Had Mr. Hughe’s contributed £3 a week or £156 a year t’o the scheme for 52 years, and then retired, he would have had to live for another twenty years to get back what he had paid into the scheme. However, he died in harness “and received nothing. I mention also the late Right Honorable J. H. Scullin, who retired from the Parliament in 1949. He lived for only two or three years after his retirement to collect the pension of £S a week to which he was entitled, and he had served for a total period of 30 years in this House. If he had contributed to the scheme “at the rate of £3 a week for -30 years, how Tong would it have taken Mm to get back as much as h’e h’ad contributed? I recall also the late Honorable Frank Brennan, who retired from the Parliament in 1949 after 35 years’ service. He lived for less thai a! year to’ collect his pension of £8 a week: I could mention the names of many other former members of this House, some of whom are at present in receipt of pensions. I shall mention only Mr. B. H. Corser, who served in this Parliament for 26 year’s and who retired - in 1954 at the end of the last Parliament. If he had contributed to the fund at the fate of £3 a week for 26 years, how longwould it take him tb’.get back as much as he had contributed? I point out that he was about 68 years of age at the time of his retirement.
– There was also the late member for Cook.
– The former member for Cook, the late Tom Sheehan, died at more than 60 years of age, after serving in this House for eighteen years. I could mention the names of many other former members of this House who had long service in the Parliament. At the last general elections; one member of this House retired arid six others were defeated. The member who retired I have already mentioned. He had 26 years of service and was entitled to receive a pension. Only one of the six defeated members was eligible for a pension. A similar story can always be told after general elections.
I have always been suspicious of actuaries and the manner in which they work out the possibilities in relation, to superannuation schemes. The actuaries admit ‘that they do not know much about a. scheme such as this, and that they have had no precedents to guide them. Therefore, they have to guess. When they gUess, they always play safe. I have mentioned “the ‘Commonwealth Public Service Superannuation Fund. I recall ah occasion many years ago when a quinquennial investigation of that fund was made, after the scheme had been in operation for fifteen years. The actuaries found that in the fifteen years approximately £5,i00,000 had been paid in by contributor’s “arid that-, although pensions had been paid out of the fund for . the entire period, contributors’ funds funds amounted ‘at that time to ‘£6,200,000. There “was -in th’e fund :ari amount of £l,r00,’000 more than :hM been paid in-.
This amount had been earned in interest and income from interest also had paid all of the commitments of the fund; Nevertheless, the actuaries reported that the fund was losing money. I have still to learn how they arrived at that con- clusion The parliamentary fund suffers from a similar state of affairs, but par liamentarians are less fortunate. The actuaries had figures to work upon in relation to the Commonwealth Public Service Superannuation Fund, but in relation to the parliamentary fund they have had to grope about in the dark. I suggest that members of the Parliament are paying considerably more in contributions than is necessary and that they are required to shoulder commitments that should be met by the government of the day. Parliamentary pensions which are not fully paid for by the contributions of the former members to whom they are paid should be paid in the same manner as pensions under the Commonwealth Public Service superannuation scheme are paid. I have no objection to the increase of pensions from £8 a week to £l2 a week, and I am very much pleased that former members who are already in receipt of pensions will receive the increase. However, the increase should be paid out of Consolidated Revenue and not out of increased contributions by present members of the Parliament. If the parliamentary scheme were placed on a basis similar to that of the Commonwealth Public Service scheme, it would be fair and reasonable.
Finally, I wish to mention the critics of the parliamentary scheme-. I refer particularly to those so-called expert journalists who write articles for the daily press throughoutAustralia criticizing the scheme and condemning members of the Parliament I suggest that those journalists should first study the act and consider the manner in which it operates and thatthen, for once in their lives, they should write honest article’s. I state unequivocally that most of the so-called candid critics who contribute articles regularly to the press and receive payment forthose articles are either deliberately ignorant “of the conditions under which the parliamentary fund is administered, or else they arecompletely dishonest and are willing to sell their souls to any one who will pay them a few pounds for an article that they think might tickle the ears of the public.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purpose of a bill for an act to amend the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act 1948-1 952.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Bill - by leave - taken as a whole and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 1st June (vide page 1292), on motion by Mr.
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The House has already heard a description of this legislation, which is supported by the Opposition. The reason for the bill is that for many years there was no legal authority residing in the Australian Parliament to pass legislation of this kind dealing directly, by force of law of this Parliament, with marriages contracted overseas, even when Australian citizens or members of the Australian defence forces were affected. This legislation which, in some respects, corresponds to the British legislation, fills that gap, being an exercise of the power conferred on this Parliament by the Statute of Westminster, which became law in 1942. The bill deals with two types of marriages, the first of which is referred to inclause 9, which provides that a marriage between parties oneof whom at least is an Australian citizen may be solemnized in an overseas country “ by or before a marriage officer “.
Provision is also made in the legislation for the appointment of marriage officers for that purpose. The bill also includes provisions relating to the notice in respect of such intended marriages, and the form of the ceremony.
Part III. of the bill deals with marriages between parties, one of whom at least is a member of the defence forces of the Commonwealth. Such a marriage may, under this legislation, be solemnized in an overseas country by a chaplain. That part also deals with the form of ceremony of such a marriage. There are other provisions in the bill to which I think I need not refer at this stage. The legislation does not affect the validity of a marriage solemnized abroad otherwise than under its provisions, but it deals with the proof, in Australia, of such a marriage. Clause 26 providesas follows -
a party to the marriage who is an Australian citizen or a member of the Defence Force produces to a marriage officer or chaplain in the country in which the marriage was celebrated -
This document can be admitted in evidence in any proceedings as if it were a certificate duly issued by the authorities of the country concerned. Judicial notice is to be taken of the signature of the registrar. I repeat, nothing in the bill will affect the validity of a marriage solemnized otherwise than under its provisions. It seems to me essentially a procedural ‘measure which corresponds to the legislation passed by the British Parliament in respect of its citizens or members of the United Kingdom defence forces overseas. It is a useful piece of legislation, and the Opposition accepts it without demur.
.- Whilst marriage is, in its inception, a contract, it creates a status or condition of a personal nature in which rights and obligations occur which affect the rights, not only of the parties, but also of the community at large. Hence the importance of proof of the validity of a marriage and, indeed, of its validity itself. A few examples will show how important is evidence of the validity of marriage. It can affect the rights of children which may depend upon their legitimacy or otherwise. It can affect rights of inheritance upon intestacy. It also affects the obligation of a person not to marry again during the subsistence of an existing marriage; the obligation of a husband to maintain his wife, and so on. It is also important in deciding whether the proper remedy for the termination of a marriage is annulment or dissolution. In various ways the validity of a marriage, and proof of it, are of the utmost importance. It is important to be able to ascertain whether a marriage is valid, and it is therefore important that a register of marriages contracted by Australians overseas should exist. This legislation endeavours to fill a field that has not previously been occupied by law in this country. England has the Foreign Marriages Act of 1892, which has been amended in later years. This bill is, in the main, based on that legislation. It seeks to provide not only for the performance and celebration of marriages overseas, which, in the main, are in foreign countries, but it also seeks to provide for a marriage register in Australia, in which such marriages may be registered. The position, independently of statute, is that English law considers that a marriage contracted in a foreign country by parties one of whom at least is a British citizen or a member of the British defence forces must be performed by an episcopally ordained clergyman, provided his services are reasonably available. If it is not possible to get the services of such a clergyman the marriage can be contracted by the consent of the parties. Perhaps the most notable example, and one recognized in the books, is that of the Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian consorts who went to Pitcairn Island. It has been recognized that, the services of an episcopally ordained minister not being available to them, the marriages that they entered into by consent were valid. It is, of course, clear that the services of an episcopally ordained clergyman are by no means available in some remote parts of the world, and that it is desirable that there should be a much simpler procedure. Consequently, we have, in this land, provision for certain persons who are called marriage officers to perform, marriages and also, in the case of members of the defence forces overseas, for marriages to be performed by chaplains. These provisions, of course, do not prevent persons from marrying abroad in accordance with the local law of the country in which they are. If the marriage takes place in accordance with the provisions for celebration under the local law of the country, it is a valid marriage in all respects provided the law of domicile does not regard it as being invalid.
This bill provides an additional means of persons marrying in foreign countries, even where the services of a foreign minister are available. The parties in question may be unwilling to have the marriage celebrated, by a foreign minister or official and may prefer to have it performed by one of their own marriage officers or, in the case of a member of the defence services, by a chaplain. That is an additional way, in such cases, in which marriages may be performed abroad. The effect of the bill will be merely to give formal validity to marriages performed by the officials mentioned. It does not affect the validity of the marriage in other respects. For example, if the marriage is a bigamous one or, in other words, if one of the parties to the marriage is at the time already married, the marriage is invalid. The same thing would apply if it were a marriage within the prohibited degrees, if it were performed under circumstances amounting to duress, or if the various other reasons for which a marriage may be invalidated were present. This bill would not in any way regularize a marriage otherwise invalid for substantial reasons. Apart from that, it provides for the formalities of marriage to be carried out ; it provides for notice of marriage; it provides for caveats against a marriage; it provides for the manner in which the marriage of minors may take place. There is a special provision that, if the minister or the officer who is asked to perform the marriage is aware that one of the parties is under sixteen years of age, he shall not perform the marriage. In various other ways, too, the bill is an excellent measure which is quite properly put before the Parliament, and which should be passed.
I refer in particular to clause 16 which provides that marriages which have been solemnised by a chaplain prior to the commencement of the act and since the 3rd day of September, 1939 - in other words, since the outbreak of World War II. - shall be validated. This provision is capable of being misunderstood, and it is for that reason that I refer to it in detail. In the first place, a marriage by a chaplain prior to the date of commencement of the act and since September. 1939, is rendered valid, but it is provided that that is so only if one of the parties to the marriage has not subsequently entered into a valid marriage with somebody else. This question has been raised : Does that mean that you are recognizing a bigamous marriage as being valid? The answer, of course, is “ No “, because until the bill is passed, the first marriage has never been a valid marriage. Consequently, the second marriage has always been a valid marriage and is not being recognized as a bigamous marriage. The valid marriage is being retained as a valid marriage and will continue to be so retained. It is not destroyed by the earlier marriage because, under those circumstances, the earlier marriage is not recognized at all.
Then we get the curious position where a person may have gone through two forms of marriage before a chaplain. What is to happen under those circumstances? The bill provides that the first marriage before the chaplain is to be recognized as the valid marriage, and that the second marriage before the chaplain shall not be recognized as being valid.
The only other matter to which I refer is in relation to marriages before a marriage officer. Such marriages must, and can, take place only where at least one of the parties is an Australian citizen. In the case of marriages before a chaplain, one at least of the parties must be a member of the defence forces. Both of those conditions are essential to the validity of the marriage. The bill contemplates that these marriages shall be recognized in Australia. That is provided by clause 9 (2.) and in similar terms, in relation to marriages by chaplains, by clause 14 (2.). Both of those sub-sections are cast in similar language. The language is of a very cumbersome nature and is very difficult to understand. I shall read it to the House so that honorable members may appreciate the difficulty in understanding it. It is in the following terms : -
A marriage solemnized under this Fart, being a marriage which, if it had been solemnized in the Australian Capital Territory and the forms required by the law in force in that Territory had been duly observed, would, under the law of a State or Territory of the Commonwealth, have been a valid marriage, is, by force of this Act, valid in that State or Territory.
As I understand the position, what is intended by that provision is that marriages under the proposed legislation shall be valid in Australia. There is similar provision in relation to this matter in the United Kingdom act, and it is expressed in quite clear and simple language. I direct the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is in charge of the bill, to that provision. I suggest that the bill be again looked at and perhaps amended so that those who read may run, and so that the provision may be put into a form in which it may be easily understood and which is not complicated, as it is at the moment.
.- Apparently from what has been said, the bill offers a desirable amendment to the present legislation. It will undoubtedly make the position of Australians overseas somewhat easier, and it will offer opportunities to chaplains of the military forces to carry out their duties and to offer the best advice and assistance to those persons who come to them to be married. The aspect of the bill to which I shall refer - and I think it is quite germane to the second-reading discussion - is the position of those non-Australians who may, following the passing of this legislation, be married to Australians. I refer particularly to members of the defence forces who may marry people overseas, particularly in South-East Asian areas, who ordinarily would not be eligible for admission to this country under our immigration laws. I ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is in charge of the bill, whether, since the marriage will be a recognized marriage under the law of the Commonwealth of Australia, the bill carries with it the recognition of the right of the person marrying a member of the defence forces to entry to Australia if, under normal circumstances, they would not be eligible under our immigration laws to enter the country. That is a matter that should be clarified by the right honorable gentleman because, if we .simply propose to authorize our chaplains and other people who are described as marriage officers to perform marriages between members of the Australian defence forces and other persons overseas, particularly in the South-East Asian area, who ordinarily would not be eligible to enter this country, we will be doing both the man and, certainly, the woman concerned a very great injustice.
I believe that, as it is proposed that our chaplains or marriage officers, so described in the bill, may marry soldiers or members of the Australian defence forces to people who are not ordinarily eligible for entry to this country under our immigration laws, if this legislation does not solve the problem the Government should take the necessary action to intro duce further legislation to provide that, where those marriages are properly contracted and properly solemnized, the brides concerned should be granted admission to this country.
On various occasions, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) has expressed strong views on marriages between Australian servicemen and the women of Japan or other parts of Asia. He has expressed very strong opposition to the admission of such women to this country, and he has suggested that, not only should they be refused admission to this country in future, but also that those who are already here should possibly be sent out of the country. In passing legislation which will permit the solemnization of marriages in accordance with Australian law, between members of the defence forces and women in Japan, Korea, China, or any other country, we have a moral obligation to make it clear that those women will be eligible for admission to Australia once a proper marriage has been contracted. I do not believe that any government has the right to attempt to destroy a marriage between an Australian serviceman and an Asian lady if that marriage has been properly contracted and is not merely a temporary liaison. The Government should help to preserve that marriage and the family which might eventuate from it. If this bill makes it possible for further marriages of that kind to take place under the official auspices of the Australian Government, and those marriages are officially recognized by the Australian Government, then the Government should make it quite clear that the bar which was once raised to the admission of the brides of Australian servicemen to Australia no longer exists. That bar has not been applied in recent years, but it has been suggested that it should be applied.
It is inevitable that a number of such marriages should be contracted when a large body of men is sent overseas for a considerable period. I do not think that the “White Australia policy is likely to be affected by granting to servicemen who contract marriages overseas the right to bring their brides and families back to Australia, without any fear of their being excluded by immigration laws or of being sent away once they are here. Possibly the honorable member for Melbourne was speaking more in exuberance than with any clear intention of expressing his opinion, but ] think that he made it clear that he was very much opposed to the brides of Austraiian servicemen, particularly Japanese brides, being brought to this country. When a proper marriage has been contracted, and it is quite obvious that family life has been established on the basis of a permanent union, as far as these unions can be said to be permanent, an Australian serviceman should be entitled to bring his wife and family back to this country. I hope that the Government will make it clear either that this measure does that-
– This measure will not do that, lt simply proposes to make such a marriage valid in Australia.
– Since this legislation only proposes to make it quite clear that such marriages are valid in Australia, it is logical that the Government should make it clear that these validly contracted marriages will not be broken up by the refusal of a government, now or in the future, to accept a partner of that marriage as qualified to enter Australia under the immigration laws. It could not be suggested that such a procedure would affect the White Australia policy. I think that the sanctity of the marriage bond must outweigh whatever views one may have on the White Australia policy.
– The honorable member should refer to the “Australian immigration policy “. The term “ White Australia “ is an offensive term.
– I have used the term because it is in popular use, but I thank the’ Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for the correction. If “White Australia “ is an offensive term we should endeavour to restrict its use as much as possible. But if the Australian immigration policy is likely to prevent the admission of wives of servicemen who validly contract marriages under this bill, the Government should make it clear that no such restriction will apply to those wives. I ask the Prime Minister, when replying to this debate, to make it clear that Australian servicemen who have been sent abroad in order to defend this country will not be told that they cannot bring their wives and families back to Australia because of the immigration policy. I consider that, whatever government may be in power, it should recognize that any Australian serviceman who contracts a proper marriage abroad is entitled to bring his wife and family back to Australia, irrespective of the immigration policy in general.
– I am sure that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) appreciates that this bill relates to the marriage of Australian citizens and members of the defence forces outside Australia. The introduction of the bill has been sought by our chaplains-general for a long time. I am happy to say that it conforms with the proposal that they have urged for the legalization of marriages conducted by our chaplains in foreign countries. The point that the honorable member raised is very clear. If an Australian soldier marries a woman in a foreign country the wife will be eligible to enter Australia with the approval of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt). Such people are not prohibited from entering Australia. The policy that has been adopted by the present Minister for Immigration has been very clear. If a marriage has been duly and properly solemnized he has arranged, on all occasions, for the serviceman concerned to bring his wife back to Australia. She has been given a permit to stay in Australia for a period and, ultimately, she has become a citizen of this country. I can assure the honorable member for Yarra that the Government envisages giving to such cases the same sympathetic consideration in connexion with the provisions of this bill that is being given to them at present. Although this bill relates only to marriages, I am sure that the immigration policy will be administered in such a way as to satisfy the honorable gentleman.
.- All honorable members listened to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) with great respect when he spoke on this subject, on which he is an acknowledged expert. He invited attention to clause 9, sub-clause (2.) and to clause 14, sub-clause (2.) of the bill which, in effect, are the two executive clauses. They relate to civil marriages carried out by diplomatic officers and by chaplains abroad. I understood the honorable gentleman to say that these two clauses, which are admittedly the most important clauses in the measure, are not as simple and clear as he would like them to be. I do not for a moment pose as an expert in these matters, nor do I intend to cross swords with the honorable member for Balaclava. But it is true that the wording of these two clauses has been given a great deal of thought by the officers of the law department, who have done their best to express the intention of the Government in adequate form. They are the key clauses of the measure, admittedly. The conclusion that the officers came to was that any form of words that was shorter, or apparently more simple than the form of words chosen would not be safe to use and would not, as far as Australia is concerned, do the job - Australia being a federation, and the six States having varying views on these matters, which have to be taken into account. Although the law officers who drafted the measure for the Government admit that the phraseology is longer and rather more complicated than that in the relevant British act, they believe that anything shorter than the wording that has been used would not have achieved the Government’s purpose. I am quite sure that the Leader of the Opposition knows the old Latin maxim, Brevis sum, obscurus fio, which means that, through labouring to become brief, one only succeeds in becoming obscure. That is the problem that the parliamentary draftsmen were confronted with. So that I should think that nobody - not even my friend from Balaclava - would proclaim against the obvious intention of these two executive clauses. I do not think that he is in’ any doubt about their meaning. One of, the disabilities under which Australia labours, as a federation, is that it is necessary for the Parliament to adopt the form of wording that has been adopted in this measure rather than tb* shorter form that Great Britain is able to use.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 2nd June (vide page 1373), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition offers no objection to this bill. However, I shall take the opportunity to make a few observations on the measure. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated that the Commonwealth’s contribution to university education this year will be of the order of £1,700,000, and that that amount is somewhat more than was contributed last year. [ think the right honorable gentleman’s estimate was that this year’s contribution will be £180,000 more than was paid last year. He said that that estimate was made without allowing for the decrease, to which he had referred earlier, of contributions by the States towards the education of the students who are attending universities. The amount expended annually on all State universities is something like £8,000,000. Of course, that is for maintenance purposes only; the amount does not include capital expenditure. The number of students at Australian universities is approximately 20,400 equivalent full-time students. In 1953, the gross number of students was 28,473, but that number included fulltime, part-time and external students. There are eight State universities in Australia, not including the Australian National University, which is a postgraduate university. As honorable members will recall, that university was established by the Chifley Government by a bill that was introduced by Mr. Dedman, who was Minister for Post-War Reconstruction in that Government, and the university has been supported liberally by the present Government.
This is a very great university, because it has attracted to its professorial chairs, some of the greatest minds Australia has produced. But those brilliant men had to go overseas for recognition. They were eventually attracted back to serve Australia and the world in general at the Australian National University. This measure does not deal with the funds of that university, nor with its activities. The eight State universities that I mentioned do not include the Canberra University College, which is affiliated with the University of Melbourne but is financed by the Commonwealth.
I think we are doing very well as a community in respect of our universities, but we should do more. The amount that we spend annually for the education of each full-time student at our universities is about £360 Australian a year - equivalent to about £270 sterling. I mention that figure to show that other peoples are probably doing much better than we are doing, although the size of our continent, and our difficulties must be taken into consideration when we are examining a measure of this sort. I have before me figures which show the comparable extent to which universities in Great Britain and in the United States of America are subsidized. They show that there are 24 universities in Great Britain, having an enrolment of 81,474, on which the annual expenditure is £28,700,434 - equivalent to an average annual expenditure of £352 per student. As those amounts are expressed in sterling, it is obvious that Great Britain is doing better in this connexion than we are doing.
It is very difficult to cite comparable figures in relation to the United States, where there are 1,150 universities - so described - hut that figure includes colleges, teachers’ colleges and other institutions which are not universities in our understanding of the word. In the 1,150 educational institutions in America - including all the universities - there are no fewer than 1,794,214 students enrolled. I point out that in the United States there are not the class prejudices or taboos that exist in Australia in respect of people working their way through universities. I could not imagine Australian society condoning the practice chat obtains generally in America, where students will work at the most menial tasks in order to qualify. I know that Australian students, in many instances, have to work at the same menial tasks, but I do not think that the community generally accepts the fact that students have to work in order to put themselves through the university courses provided in Australia.
– Jim Garfield started that.
– I suppose the honorable member for Macarthur is referring to the twentieth President of the United States, James Abram Garfield, who was the second President of that country to be assassinated, [n this country, although we have broken down our prejudices to a great extent, we still have not overcome the feeling that university students should not have to work their way through universities, as Americans work their way through. We have a Commonwealth scheme by which students are assisted to secure a university education. In addition, there is the Colombo plan, which brings a number of bright young minds from Asia to our shores. All that is very good. We think that credit is due to the former members of the Chifley Government for having instituted the system of Commonwealth scholarships to enable young people to go through our universities to the number of about 3,000 a year. I hope the present Government will try to do better than that, and will increase the number of Commonwealth scholarships. I hope that more young people will be brought from Asian countries to go through our universities, and that people will come from the United States under the Fulbright scholarship scheme, which we helped to establish when we settled the debts owing between Australia and America after the war. It is good to have this interchange of thought, but a lot of capital expenditure will be required if the universities are to be the centres of learning that we want them to be. In addition, there must be endowments and investments to guarantee the salaries of the professors and lecturers who are so essential if the universities of Australia are to be kept at their present high standard.
Eight State universities are not enough. We want several more. In New South Wales, we have three universities. We have the university at Armidale, the New South Wales University of Technology and the famous University of Sydney. There is only one university in Victoria and, I think, only one in each of the other States, and all are equally famous like that of Sydney. The more universities we have, the better it will be for the community. In a recent debate, there were references between legal members on both sides to honorable and eminent gentlemen and to honorable and distinguished gentlemen. I am neither distinguished nor eminent. I am a plebian in this Parliament and a ple bian member of society. But, like every other member of the Labour party, I believe that knowledge is power, and that we ought to encourage the dissemination of knowledge and the inculcation of knowledge wherever we possibly can. If it is necessary to establish a university in the north of Queensland or in the centre of Queensland, let us do it. If an agricultural university is wanted, let us do something about it in a great centre of agricultural activity. I know that the opinion of agricultural scientists on the matter is divided, and that there are some of them who say that we can teach agricultural science just as well in a university in a crowded city as we can out on the land.
We want more medical schools in our universities. I am sorry that the present Government repudiated the arrangement made by the Chifley Government to make an advance to the University of Western Australia for its medical school. I hope that that matter will be taken up again. We have not got enough medical schools in Australia. The time will come, and it may come quickly, when we shall have to depend upon the products of other universities to supply the requirement of our own hospitals for residents, registrars, and the like, as well as the requirements of the community for general practitioners. I make no criticism of any faculty, but possibly a little forward thinking might help some of the people who are in the chairs of our faculties. A little forward thinking might help some of the deans to appreciate more realistically the number of students required for the needs of the community.
I hope that the Government, seeing what the Carnegie Institute and the Rockefeller Institute are doing, and seeing also what is being done under the Fulbright scholarship scheme, will not rely upon such funds, contributed by people in other countries, to help the learned gentlemen in our universities to acquire extra knowledge. “We have really got to do something more on our own than we are doing. The Government could very well spend even more than will be spent under this bill. I am glad to know that there is going to be a further investigation of the matter to see whether any changes of the existing system should be made, and that the investigation is to be undertaken during the current year. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) sta ted -
The Government is making a review of the present basis on which grants are determined, in the light of the changes in student enrolments ami changes of relative costs as between one university and another.
That is all to the good. It is a fine thing that we are paying £35,000 for the teaching and administrative costs of residential colleges. One criticism that could have been uttered against the Colombo plan was that it brought Asian students here so that they could be educated, but did not provide them with decent hostel accommodation; it left them to ferret out board and lodging in all sorts of houses in our cities, and as a result of the poor conditions in many residentials, it was not possible for these students to study properly. Something is being done in the way of building hostels for Asian students and Australian students with government and private contributions. The contribution that the Government is making will be all to the good, but something more should be done.
It is regrettable that we have only one university of technology in Australia. We have entered the engineering age. We have entered the scientific age. We need more and more technologists. It is said by some people that engineering is not a proper faculty for a university, it is not one of the humanities, and ought to bo taught in some institution other than a university. New South Wales has provided for that .need by the establishment of a university of technology, and this year the Commonwealth is making a very fine grant of at least £180,000 towards the maintenance costs of that university. I hope the Government will be equally generous to the Victorian and maybe the Queensland universities of technology whenever they are established. There is a move on foot to create such a university in Melbourne, and I trust the Commonwealth will support it in the same way as it is supporting the New South Wales institutions.
While commending the measure to the House on behalf of the Opposition, I urge the Government - within reason, of course - to give as much more money as it possibly can so that our universities will not be starved for maintenance money and so that they can maintain their very high degree of learning and the welldeserved reputation they enjoy in comparison with similar institutions of learning throughout the world.
– I wish to speak only very briefly on this measure. I heartily commend the Government for the continuance of a policy of giving assistance to the universities of Australia, particularly to the University of New England, not the University of Armidale, as the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) referred to it. That slight difference in name signifies a great difference in intention and purpose. I commend the Government for its recognition of the change of emphasis on education which began after World War I. and increased in volume and speed with the outbreak and conduct of World War II. We have moved into the tertiary age, in which enormous burdens are thrust upon the universities of Australia by the needs of science. This field, when allied with technology, involves expensive plant, teaching and preparation. Consequently, there is room for considerable further inquiry into the costs of university education and the relationship between the Commonwealth and the States on this important question.
I think I have said before that one cannot build a three-story building unless one provides a very sound foundation. Care must be taken that there are not serious gaps in the ranks of those who are coming to the universities with the necessary basic education. In our desire for a constant supply of highly trained men to cope with the increasing complexity of this atomic age, let us not lose sight of the fact that the most important thing in the world is not that men shall have knowledge, but that they shall know how to use it. Men and women can be trained to the highest possible point, but unless they are given an understanding of the need to direct their knowledge to the highest purpose, they may become nothing more than a group of highly trained, predatory wolves who will prey upon mankind. Therefore, my plea to-night is that, while recognizing the needs of science, for all that is dear to us, let us not forget the great basic training that is associated with what are commonly called the humanities. The Nazis deliberately forbade the consideration of philosophy and the study of the humanities because, like other dictators, they could not live with the great immortal truths. They could not allow these truths to inspire men and women to use their powers for the sake of humanity.
At the moment, right throughout the Commonwealth, salaries are being revised because of the recent emphasis on margins. I do not suggest that, having regard to what is expected of teachers, their salaries are too great, hut I have a lively apprehension of the future of the non-State schools. One fourth of the senior children in this State are in these schools which are supported by the great churches and by certain benefactors. What will be the impact of the rising wage scale upon their resources? I am not raising this issue in order to make a plea for a fair deal for these great private and church schools, which are such a leavening factor for good in our education system. By setting up certain standards, they react upon the State system, just as the State system reacts upon theirs. However, the higher wages carry a certain impli- cation that cannot be ignored. If these non-State schools fold up by reason of the tremendous burden thrust upon them by higher costs, we shall, in attempting to maintain our education system, learn what taxation really means. Education is one and indivisible. We cannot ignore the whole picture and consider only one aspect of it. How far can the Government modify the whole financial approach to this question so that these great schools, which have served this country so well in association with the public school systems, will be able to carry this new burden?
– To what schools is tb> honorable member referring?
– I am referring to the great church and non-denominational schools. Some schools, such as Sydney Grammar School, were established by private benefaction. These schools cater for approximately one fourth of th, school children of this country. A high proportion of these are at the secondary stage. Having indicated what I believe must be the trend, I strongly support th,bill. I appreciate what the Government has done for the infant university of New England, but I hope that th, whole question will be viewed broadly and that the Government will ascertain the extent to which it can lift from th, States the burden of university education. This would release further money, with the aid of which all sections of education could continue with their task, which at present they are discharging so courageously and adequately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 2nd June (vide page 1414), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That this House approves the Government’! decision to accept the revised General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the proposed Agreement on the Organization for Trad* Co-operation, subject in either case to prior acceptance by the Governments of the United Kingdom and of the United States of America.
.- Last week, when the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen) moved this motion, he said that it seeks the approval of the House for the Government’s decision in relation to the revised General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. I assume that if the House grants the approval sought by the Minister, in due course the Parliament will be confronted by a bill similar to that which was introduced in 1947, when the Chifley Labour Government brought down a measure to approve the first General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. I suggest that, at this stage in a dying sessional period, for the Minister to seek approval for a. revised general agreement, knowing full well that it will be almost impossible to have a full-dress debate, or a debate adequate to deal with such an important subject, is at least treating the Parliament of this country in a cavalier fashion. As a matter of fact, the general agreement comprises a very extensive document, containing more than 30 articles and much other information and material, and no parliament could pass an intelligent judgment on this type of review unless it debated separately every article in the agreement. In 1948, when the Chifley Government introduced the first proposed general agreement, adequate time was “iven to debate it and the bill associated with it, and a fairly prolonged debate took place. On that occasion the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was most critical of the proposed agreement. In fact, it would be putting it more accurately to say that he condemned the agreement in very round and severe terms indeed. He told the Parliament, in effect, that it was worthless, and so did many other members of his party. I think we may even make reference to your more generous outlook, Mr. Speaker, at that time, on that agreement. You were one of the few members of the Opposition of the day who were more generous in regard to it. I shall mention what you said in order to give force and emphasis to my point that this is a subject-matter which requires much analysis and that the proposed agreement should be discussed and debated article bv article. On that historic occasion, according to Hansard, you said you could not under stand why so much paper was used to tell so little.
– Was it the honorable member for Barker who said that?
– Yes. You said, Mr. Speaker, that you were the exception to the general rule, as far as the Opposition was concerned. You commended the Minister on the concessions made by the United States of America under the general agreement, particularly on butter, wool, &c. Of course, you would have liked - naturally, in view of your Scottish blood - to have seen some more generous concessions. You said that in some cases the Minister in the Chifley Administration was able to maintain certain United Kingdom preferences as far as amount was concerned. In other instances, a slight reduction had been made, and forced on “the Government, in preferences. In addition, you said - and this particular statement was of profound significance and very great importance, though I do not necessarily agree with it - that you had said, when war was raging all over the world, that we would face an economic dictatorship by the United States of America such as had not been seen since the days of the Roman Empire. You said, further, that the objectives sought in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade were not worth the paper they were written on. 1 do not quite agree with you in that respect. In order to outline the reason why I do not agree with that statement, I must deal with the origin of these two agreements. They originated, in reality, as a result of the mutual aid agreement made between the United Kingdom Government and the United States Government in 1942, an agreement to which Australia pledged itself and which involved conditions under which America rendered lend-lease aid to the United Kingdom and Australia. Under the mutual aid agreement it was provided and understood by the contracting partie that they would, in their respective countries, endeavour to stimulate trade, remove artificial barriers, and, as far as was in their power, remove the factors which they considered were, at least in some measure, responsible for the particular chaos which had been the lot of the world prior to the outbreak of World War II. In fact, it was the lot of the world almost from the cessation of hostilities in 1918 until 1939. In itself, I should say that that was an objective of a most desirable kind, particularly having regard to the expressions made about the desirability of following policies of full employment, not only in their own countries, but throughout the world. It was because of that mutual aid agreement and because of the Atlantic Charter that when the eighteen or twenty contracting parties to the general agreement got together, it was thought that this country should put its shoulder to the wheel, and, as far as possible, lend its aid in shaping a general agreement on tariffs and trade which would at least show an earnest and sincere desire on the part of the Commonwealth of Australia to honour the obligations entered into when the mutual aid arrangement was made. Members of the then Government, including the Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Lemmon, the Minister for Trade and Customs, Senator Courtice, the Prime Minister, the late Mr. Chifley, and myself, and large numbers of highly placed and most competent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service, for months and months deliberated in the Cabinet room in an endeavour, on the one hand, to do what was right and proper in respect of other nations, and at the same time, exert every effort reasonably to protect the interests of an Australian in the agreement. Let us consider the circumstances which were prevailing at that time. The war had ended only three years before, and no attempt of this kind embracing such a large number of nations had hitherto been made in the world’s history. Taking everything into consideration, a reasonably good decision was reached. However, despite that fact, and despite my affirmation that it was a reasonably good decision, and a reasonably good arrangement, the present Minister, who was in charge of the debate for the Opposition at that time, roundly condemned the decision.
Last week, he made a long speech in this House in which he outlined the decisions that had been made at a review which recently took place. To read the first few pages of his speech, one would think that he had lifted, almost in their entirety, the statements which had been made by the Minister of the day when the first General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was introduced. The present Minister explained the essentiality of these things. He told us what happened while World War I. was being waged. He told us of the discussions that led to the series of conferences culminating in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade reached in Geneva in 1947. He told us that it was an attempt to get the nations of the world to co-operate. He then produced this agreement. In all probability, there is a degree of rigidity in the slightlyrevised new proposed agreement that was absent from the agreement arrived at by the Chifley Government. He told us that great concessions had been obtained, and that, in certain circumstances, we could take certain steps to remedy the position when our balance of payments is adversely affected. He also told us about a situation, which arose recently, and still continues, to some degree in the United States. He was referring to countries which had surplus products to dispose of, and the effect of such disposal on the economy of other countries. He said that something had been achieved in the new agreement to overcome that problem. I ask: Has it? The plain fact is that nothing has been achieved in respect of that situation except that provision for consultation is written into the new agreement in the event of such a situation arising’ in the future. How wonderful ! No binding and no mandatory requirement, is placed on the nation which is in that position, and which may suddenly dump, on the markets of the world some of itssurplus products. It is simply written, into the agreement that consultation may take place. In any case, before this waswritten into the agreement, the Minister himself had been to the United States and had discussed this problem. Nothing of this kind appeared in the old agreement, which was then in operation. Quite clearly, consultation could take place,, and an understanding reached, irrespective of whether such a provision was; written into the agreement itself.
But the pertinent point is that, notwithstanding consultations and discussions, it is not mandatory on the country which proposes to dispose of its surplus products to force it to carry out the wishes of those countries which may have consulted it. So, in effect, this is a very minor change in the review. It is desirable. There is no harm in it. But it is not of such value that the person responsible for the negotiation of the new agreement should preen his feathers with pride because he has obtained a substantial advantage under the new agreement.
I point out that a lot of things which the Minister has said can now be done, could also be done, and were done under the old agreement. Let me read a statement by the responsible Minister in the Chifley Government when he presented the first agreement to the House. He made the following statement, which has not been challenged : -
The agreement is in three parts. Fart I. contains -
the schedules of tariff reductions which have been negotiated by all the countries concerned;
an undertaking to extend mostfavourednation treatment to other parties except for existing preferences which are formally recognized as valid to the extent that they have not been altered in the current negotiations.
Part II. contains undertakings regarding commercial policy. These are necessary primarily to prevent tariff concessions granted being offset by other protective measures and follow closely chapter IV. of the draft charter. In practice they involve no significant change in Australian commercial policy. In particular they preserve-
These are the important features of the old agreement, which are not strengthened to any extent by the new agreement. But to read the Minister’s speech, and to listen to his words, one would think that something had been obtained which was not previously obtainable.. The statement continues -
In particular they preserve -
the right to impose new duties for protective purposes except where we specifically have accepted, or may accept, as binding in tariff negotiations;
On that point, the Minister obtained some slight concession. A notice period of a specific number of days has been arranged, but there are still obligations which require certain procedures to be followed before anything of a substantially beneficial character may be obtained. The second point contained in the old agreement was -
The Minister did not manage to get any alteration of any use to us on that issue. The condition in the old agreement was clear, concise and decisive. The next point in the old agreement was as follows : -
That right, I understand, is preserved and has never been threatened. The next point was -
That was very wide indeed. It is the . genesis of the protective clauses of the old agreement.
I have stated that the Minister has told us that he has obtained concessions by way of a reduced period within which certain alterations may be made. He said -
With regard to export subsidies, we pointed out that while we were building expensive storage to hold unsold wheat, wheat that was heavily subsidised to the extent, sometimes, of 8s. to 10s. a bushel was being bought in the world’s markets from Argentina and elsewhere. In the event we gained new clauses in the general agreement which now recognise that export subsidies may have harmful effects for other countries, and which provide that they are not to be used on primary commodities to distort the normal pattern of trade.
That was the new arrangement that the Minister was able to obtain. Let me state now that it was well known that, during the currency of the previous agreement, export subsidies were being paid on butter and possibly on other primary products including wheat. If they were not being paid, they could have been paid. Nothing was done about that matter under the old agreement. “Who was to interpret the position, declare that the normal pattern of trade was being distorted, and make a decision binding on Australia?
Australians are the people to make such a judgment in relation to themselves. The Minister stated also -
The traditional arrangements for Australian primary industries - that is, our internal stabilization schemes and two price schemes - which, in the main, aim at stability in price on the domestic market, are not .fleeted by these new provisions.
That observation means merely that, in respect of butter, we have a domestic arrangement under which the primary producer obtains the cost of production price for his butter. [Extension of time granted.’] I thank the House for its indulgence. The fact that my time has been extended supports my contention that it is impossible adequately to discuss a matter such as this in the limited time allowed. In availing myself of the extension, I shall not abuse the generosity of the House.
I shall now comment upon the attacks made on the previous agreement. At the time it was entered into, I heard of no representative of a primary industry who did not welcome it. I suppose they all welcome this new agreement, because, as the Minister has stated, it incorporates some improvements. The Minister regards them as great and substantial, but E think they are minor, though perhaps useful. When I stated that no representative of any primary industry expressed any substantial objection to the previous agreement, I included the representatives also of the dried fruits industry. Mr. P. Malloch, who, in 1948, was a member of the Commonwealth Dried Fruits Control Board, and who was an adviser to the Australian delegation to the conference ft. which the original agreement was entered into, expressed certain views, which were reported in the Mildura Daily, on the 19th November, 1947, as follows : -
Mr. Peter Malloch, dried fruits advisor to the Australian delegation to the Geneva Trade Conference, does not see any danger to the Australian dried fruits industry in the new tariff concessions
. The dried fruits industry was fortunate In that the margins were not reduced to a greater extent.
There was every reason to hope that Australia would be able to continue to compete with the United States and Turkey on a payable basis for growers.
Costs of production in both the United Hates and Turkey were high, said Mr.
Malloch, and they would be only slightly offset by the tariff concessions.
In another statement, Mr. Malloch said that, in 1948, wages in California were £14 a week. He did not point out that the basic wage’ in Australia at that time was about £5 16s. a week. If the Australian dried fruits industry, since 1948, has been prejudiced by the original agreement, it can only be because this Government has not honored its promise to the electors of Australia to put value back into the £1 or, in other words, to keep the cost of production of all Australian products comparable with the cost of production at the time when it took office in 1949. That is the reason why the dried fruits industry, in its present position, has been hit hard by slight reductions in the preferences that obtained in the United Kingdom. The general tenor of comment in the press, and by leaders of primary and other industries in 1948, was that Australia had obtained a reasonably satisfactory deal under the 1948 agreement.
As one who painstakingly examined all the articles of the- agreement and the tariff concessions, and who participated in the negotiations and was familiar with the entire procedure, I firmly believe that the agreement had so many escape clauses and provisos under which any country adversely affected could take action which the provisional organization established to guide and direct the administration of the general agreement could not rule upon satisfactorily, that any country could find a way out of its difficulties. For that reason, broadly speaking, the agreement warranted endorsement by this Parliament. I say the same thing about the new agreement. All the former safeguards are incorporated, perhaps in slightly altered form, in the new agreement. They are subject to wide interpretation, and I am a little afraid that some of them are so rigid as to be more dangerous than were some of the earlier safeguards. However, I consider that, overall, the new agreement gives a substantial advantage to the Australian economy and the Australian people generally. We need have no real fear about any of the provisions of the agreement, because the escape clauses are readily available to us. With the incorporation of those escape clauses, the agreement is so loosely drafted that, in reality, it depends upon the commercial morality and honesty of the participating governments and their inclination to play the game. No international organization, in whatever form one might choose, which might be established as a result of the activities of the United Nations or in association with them, as is the case in relation to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, even an organization more intimately linked with the United Nations, can legally and firmly bind the participating nations. It is said that there is honour among thieves. Eventually a few thieves may be caught up in the net of the arrangements made under the new agreement.
Generally speaking, the new agreement is indicative of a trend towards the freeing of world trade and the exercise of a greater measure of Christian understanding among the peoples of the world, for it binds them morally, as it were, to an endeavour to honour the spirit of the agreement. The longer we can proceed in that fashion, even with all the manifest faults and failings that these agreements have, the more we shall make a real contribution to greater understanding among the peoples of the world and the closer we shall come to complete harmony. For those reasons, the Opposition supports the motion that has been proposed by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. It is good to see that a man who roundly condemned the earlier agreement now supports a very slightly amended agreement. Some of the amendments have been rendered essential by the passage of seven years since the first agreement was entered into. It is only natural to expect a need for revision to arise during that period, and it is extremely gratifying to see that the Minister is now of the same mind as was the Labour Government which, in 1948, faced all the initial difficulties of negotiating the original agreement and submitting it to the Parliament for approval.
– The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) complained at the outset of his speech about the introduction of this measure at such a late stage in the sessional period. Of course the honorable member knows quite well that this is the first opportunity that has arisen for the introduction of this white paper since the conclusion of negotiations which took place in Geneva a short time ago. The honorable member also claimed that the new concessions which have been introduced in the amended agreement are of little importance. I shall refer to that matter in more detail later in my speech. However, I shall say at this stage that the concessions which have been obtained, although they are not all that we set out to obtain originally, are of great importance to our exporting industries to-day, and this fact is, I thinkgreatly appreciated throughout Australia by the representatives of primary and secondary industries, who have expressed their opinions in that regard.
First, I want to deal with thi3 subject from the historical point of view, and give the House its background. The origin of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade goes back to an agency of the United Nations which was established during the spread of international understanding at the termination of the war. At the first session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, which was held in London in February. 1946, on the- motion of the representative of the United States, a resolution for the constitution of a preparatory committee of the International Conference on Trad, and Employment was adopted. Thi* resolution, after stating that the council considered it essential that the cooperative economic measures already taken be supplemented -by further international measures dealing directly with trade barriers and discriminations, which stood in the way of an extension of multilateral trade agreements, and by an undertaking on the part of nations to seek full employment, called for an international conference on trade and employment foi the purpose of promoting the expansion and production, exchange and consumption of goods. The resolution entrusted to the preparatory committee the task of elaborating an annotated draft agenda, including a draft convention for the consideration of the conference. It suggested certain topics to be included in the agenda of the preparatory committee.
The preparatory committee first met in London in October and November, 1946. Full working committees within the preparatory committee itself were established at that stage. One of those working committees was set up to deal with what was known as “ General commercial policy “, and from that idea the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade eventually emerged. After deliberation, the preparatory committee recommended some types of procedures to give effect to certain provisions of the charter of the International Trade Organization by means of a general agreement on tariffs and trade. The preparatory committee also resolved to recommend to the governments concerned that the committee sponsor negotiations among its members at a conference which was to be held at Geneva in April, 1947. The protocol of the provisional application of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was signed by the eight key countries before the end of November, 1947. The United Nations conference on trade and employment was held at Havana, Cuba, from November, 1947, to March, 1948.
That is some of the background of the establishment of the original agreement on tariffs and trade. I now wish to quote very briefly the purposes and objectives of the agreement which are outlined in the paper which was tabled in this House on the 16th June, 1948, dealing with this United Nations conference which was held at Havana in that year, or during the previous year. The preamble reads -
Recognizing the determination of the United Nations to create conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations,
The parties to this charter undertake in the fields of trade and employment to co-operate with one another and with the United Nations.
Paragraph 6 of Article 1 of this paper also says -
To facilitate through the promotion of mutual understanding, consultation, and cooperation, the solution of problems relating to international trade in the fields of employment, economic development, commercial policy, business practices and commodity policy (the parties) hereby establish the International Trade organization through which they shall co-operate as members to achieve the purpose and the objectives set forth in this Article.
That also is associated with the development, of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the amendment of which we are considering now in the form of a new agreement. The agreement was actually established in legislative form by the introduction of the International Trade Organization Bill which was passed by this House on the 17th December, 1948.
I think that we should, at this stage, examine the impact of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade on the Australian economy. We know that Australia is still a young and developing country. One of our greatest needs is for overseas capital to assist us with our great developmental projects, which are so necessary, particularly under existing conditions. We know also that there is associated with that the extreme difficulty of earning the necessary finance overseas. We face limitations in the dollar market, in regard to convertibility, and because of our geographical situation. Those and other considerations limit the number of dollars available to us. Sterling sources are also limited as far as we are concerned by the economic set-up in the United Kingdom. We are, therefore, faced by a situation in which we need a tremendous amount of imported capital, which is not available to us in the volume in which we require it. ‘So, of course, our spending is limited to a great degree - to a greater degree than, for example, Canada’s spending is limited - by our export earnings. About 85 per cent, of our export earnings are at present attributable to income from primary production. More than 60 per cent, of them is attributable to two items, wool and wheat, and approximately another 20 per cent., or slightly more, to meat, base metals, dairy products and fruit. A quick glance will show honorable members the significance of that fact when they realize that five of those particular items are subject to seasonal and price fluctuations which, under some conditions and in some circumstances, can have a disastrous effect on our whole economy.
The cost factor, to which the honorable member for Lalor has already referred, is of vital importance to our export income. There are many factors which are outside the control of the producers, but which have some definite impact on the overall structure. In the time available to me I can refer only briefly to those items under their general headings. They include the landed cost of raw materials; the high cost of labour; shipping freights and internal transport costs; the problem of development of our resources, which itself adds pressure to the competition for materials and manpower available within our own country; the impact of protective tariffs internally and externally; and trade preferences under the Ottawa Agreement. We are also faced with problems of marketing. One of the greatest of those is the fact that we are dependent on one major market for the sale of most of our exports, principally of primary products. The United Kingdom is, of course, our great market for wool and wheat, and many of our other important commodities, and has, in fact, become our traditional major market. The problem associated with having one market was bad enough, but in the post-war period, most of the buying in the United Kingdom was channelled through one authority. The British Ministry of Food controlled most of the bulk buying, and it was able at that time virtually to determine the prices it would pay for those commodities. The cost factor in Australia was at a low level in the early post-war period, and at that time, most of the elements of price considered by the British Ministry of Food were based on the immediate post-war cost factor. As the cost structure tended to increase, we found that we were faced with the’ problem of dealing with one buyer and of endeavouring to overcome the difficulty of rising costs with a buyer who could call the tune in relation to prices.
Prices rose rapidly between 1947 and 1949. When this Government assumed office in 1949, it was faced with the situation that some contracts that were being signed on an international basis were based on the lower cost structure that operated in the immediate post-war period. Apart from these marketing problems, there are other problems that must be taken into consideration in dealing with our export situation. One of these is the great problem of subsidies, which is affecting markets that are traditionally ours. The United Kingdom market in particular is affected by countries such as Argentina which heavily subsidizes such products as wheat, which it can sell at a much lower figure in competition with our wheat. We can produce wheat at a far lower cost level than can any other country, yet we are faced with the situation that wheat from the Argentine is heavily subsidized and sold on the United Kingdom market at a figure far below ours. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was born of this problem of international trade. As trade agreements and arrangements are part of our foreign policy, as they are of the international foreign policies of other countries, it is only natural that where problems arise, friction on an international level also arises.
Let me refer very quickly to the reason for, and some of the objectives of, the Australian request for a review of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which it was successful in obtaining a few short months ago. Australia demanded that review and, in effect, that demand was agreed to. The considerations which guided the Government at that time can be listed briefly. The first was the need for provisions that would protect our export industries. Secondly we had to secure the removal of provisions which would prevent us from bringing the benefits of the Ottawa Agreement back to balance. Thirdly, sufficient flexibility was required to enable us, without undue delay, to modify the bound items in our tariff schedule in order to give protection to valuable Australian secondary industries. Lastly, we wanted freedom to employ quantitative restrictions when, in our judgment, these were necessary to preserve our overseas funds. These were the considerations that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture had in mind when he recommended to the Government that the review should take place. At this stage, T think I should place on record our appreciation of the splendid work that was done at Geneva by the delegation led by the Minister. The success that has been achieved is undoubtedly due to a very large degree to the initial work which he undertook, and which was continued at a later stage by the Secretary of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, Mr.
Crawford, assisted by other officers. Quite a number of the points 1 have mentioned were stressed very strongly by the delegation during the review. 1 must deal very quickly with those problems, butI should like, for the benefit of the House, to point out the considerations that were brought forward by the Australian delegation, and the success that they achieved. I refer first of all to the unbinding of bound tariff items. Originally, Australia obtained certain concessions in return for which it agreed to bind quite a number of tariff items. The requirement advanced by our delegation was for flexibility to be introduced into this section to permit independent modification that would be recommended to this Government by the Australian Tariff Board. I cannot say more than that there was a long and difficult argument on this subject, but the delegation was successful in attaining its objective and in obtaining flexibility, which particularly affects Australia, and which to a certain degree was denied to industrial countries that,in many cases, constitute our markets Thirty-four nations subscribe to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but unbinding applies only to countries where export earnings “ depend upon a relatively small number of primary commodities and which rely on the tariff as an important aid for the furthering and diversification of their economies “.
The second point raised dealt with quantitative restrictions. The general agreement states that such restrictions must not be applied as protection, but that in some cases they may be used for balance-of-payment reasons although they must be discussed by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade authority itself. The requirement presented by Australia was that Australia must be free to use such restrictions on its own judgment. As honorable members know, that objective has been achieved, and Australia now has the right to act on its own judgment in relation to quantitative restrictions.
The “ no new preference “ rule, which was also debated, was tied up, in our mind, with the problem of the Ottawa agreement and preferences. “We knew also that under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade non-discrimination was assured. The Ottawa preferences were preserved in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but at the same time new preferences were forbidden. In other words, no new preferences were allowed under the old agreement. The Ottawa Agreement was designed originally to maintain the balance of trade between the United Kingdom and Australia, and it is now history that that agreement has become completely out of balance. At Geneva, Australia advanced the requirement that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade should be amended to allow the Ottawa Agreement to be brought back to the original balance. Australia had an extremely difficult task in that respect, and that was one of the arguments that was not successful.
The next point raised was in relation to the question of safeguarding our exports. Australia’s requirement was for protection and market predictability for exporters of raw materials and foodstuffs, and also for safeguards against the indiscriminate disposal of surpluses. As you can well imagine, Mr. Speaker, that was a problem of extreme difficulty, and the delegation received very little support from the outset when it pressed the matter. However, it is known now - and I think we are proud of the fact - that a new article in the general agreement disapproves export subsidies and states that they cannot be used in respect of primary commodities to distort the normal pattern of trade in any particular market. In this respect, Australian primary industries are quite in the clear.
The next item in respect of which the Australian delegation was successful was that of countervailing duties. These duties apply particularly to the United “Kingdom market, which is our major market. The amendments that have been obtained will be invaluable to Australian exporters of primary products. The next problem that was considered, and in relation to which some success was achieved, was the giving away of surpluses or bargain selling. The country that the delegation had in mind mainly was the United States of America. Itis interesting to know that, although it represents only one step along the road, America has agreed that in future information will be passed on to countries whose markets are likely to be affected by the disposal or bargain selling of surpluses. Incorporated in the new agreement is a resolution that nations will con- sult one another in such cases. Although that does not sound very important, it represents a significant step forward and something which we in Australia should feel particularly pleased to have achieved.
The next point raised was the question of domestic subsidies, and this referred, again, particularly to the market in the United Kingdom. The achievement in this respect was that in relation to specific requirements, countries were to consult if domestic subsidies reduced the exports of a contracting party.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Creak) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Supply (Works and Services) Bill (No. 1) 1055-50.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1954-55.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and
Services) Bill 1953-54.
Judges’ Remuneration Bill 1055.
Without requests -
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1955-68.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1954-55.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1953-54.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) pro posed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question he now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.38 p.m.
n asked the Prime Minister. upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
If any question arises, in any proceedings under this Act, as to the liability to pay compensation under this Act (including any question as to whether the person injured is a seaman to whom this Actapplies) or as to the amount or duration of compensation under this Act, the question, if not settled by agreement, shall, subject to the provisions of ‘ the First Schedule to tin’s Act, be settled by arbitration, in accordance with the Second Schedule to this Act, or by proceedings in a County Court.
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
How much has the Australian Shipping Board paid to private shipping companies in their capacity as cargo booking agents far the Commonwealth ships?
y. - The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following replies: -
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are a* follows : -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– I am advised as follows by the Minister for Repatriation: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 June 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19550607_reps_21_hor6/>.