21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will either the Minister for External Affairs, or the Prime Minister, indicate whether it is proposed to make a statement to the House in reply to the various questions which have been addressed to the Minister for External Affairs during the past week or so in relation to the employment of Australian forces in Singapore or Malaya ?
– I would not suppose that it would be appropriate to make a statement before the House- rises, but I have no doubt that the leader of the Government will make a statement before very long, which will embrace all of the matters concerned in this regard.
– The question that I shall address to the Minister for the .Army relates to the recent announcement by the Army’ of its proposed building programme, which includes the construction of drill halls in various centres. I am concerned that the announcement made no reference to Gosford. As certain preliminary preparations have been already made in connexion with the establishment of a drill hall at Gosford, and in view of the expansion of the 17/18th Infantry Battalion in the central coast area, will the Minister inform me whether the establishment of a new drill hall at Gosford will be included in the Army’s building programme for 1955-56 ?
– I am happy to acknowledge the interest that the honorable member always displays in relation to the 17/18th Infantry Battalion and the brigade in the Gosford area. All preliminary details associated with the preparation of the Estimates for the next financial year have now been completed. Provision has been included for the erection of a modern Citizen Military Force training depot at Gosford.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is a fact that an investigation was made by the Department of Trade and Customs into allegations that a former member of the Soviet legation had abused diplomatic privilege and had procured huge quantities of duty-free liquor for sale on the Australian market? Is it also a fact that, as a result of this investigation, certain facts were placed before the Commonwealth Crown Law Department, which was asked to advise whether any breach of Commonwealth law had occurred 1 Will the right honorable gentleman say whether, had the inquiries of the Department of Trade and Customs failed to disclose any evidence of abnormal quantities of duty-free spirituous liquors having been procured by, or allegedly on behalf of the Soviet legation, there would have been no matter upon which a decision of the Crown Law authorities was required ? Is it a fact that the inquiry that was conducted by the Department of Trade and Customs revealed that there had been huge, vast, or abnormal quantities of duty-free liquor procured by, or allegedly on behalf of, the Soviet legation, but that the Crown Law officers had advised that, as the’ law and practice exists at present, -there had been no infringement of any existing Commonwealth law? Finally, is the Prime Minister prepared to give his personal assurance, as a result of his present knowledge, that there has been no abuse of diplomatic privilege in this instance, and will he make available to the House the facts as they were revealed by the inquiry by the Department of Trade and Customs into this matter, which were passed on to the Commonwealth Crown Law officers for their consideration?
– I thought I had answered that speech yesterday and made my position and the facts perfectly clear. I have nothing to add to what I said then.
-Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that the Building Workers Industrial
Onion of Queensland is distributing propaganda among apprentices to the effect that this Government has overriden State legislation which provides that time spent by apprentices in doing military training shall be included in the period of apprenticeship ? Will the Minister say whether that suggestion is true? If it is not, will he explain the position to the House?
– My attention has been directed to this matter. It will be understood by all honorable members that a period of apprenticeship is designed to give a status or a capacity to a particular tradesman which will qualify him foi engagement in that status or capacity thereafter. Consequently, under normal circumstances, it is desirable that the full period, of apprenticeship shall be served in the occupation for which the person concerned is serving his apprenticeship. The National Service Act provides that, unless the Minister for Labour and National Service otherwise directs, the period during which an apprentice is undergoing military training shall not be deemed to be a period of employment under his contract of apprenticeship. But in order to cover the position of an apprentice who, while undergoing his period of national service training, is employed in a mustering or in an occupation which would, in effect, give him experience in his calling, T have delegated my powers under that provision to the apprenticeship authorities constituted under the laws of the States. I understand that in Queensland, as in other States, the apprenticeship authorities count as a part of the apprenticeship period, periods of training in a service mustering or occupation corresponding to the man’s apprenticeship trade. This matter was examined by the CommonwealthState Apprenticeship Committee, which has made a recommendation to us, the effect of which is that at the end of a period of apprenticeship training, if some of the apprentice’s time has been taken up in national service training, he shall be subjected to a trade test, and if he shows that he is up to the standards required, he shall not have to serve an additional period of apprenticeship. T think that that is a sensible solution to this problem. The matter has been brought to the notice of the State governments by this Government, and we are still awaiting advice from the State governments about their views on this and other apprenticeship matters.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. By way of explanation, I should like to say that recently I wanted to make a telephone call between Wooli and Newcastle. I could not obtain, at Wooli, the number of the person I wanted to call, because there was no telephone directory for Newcastle there. My request was passed on to Ulmarra, but the number could not be found at Ulmarra. As a result, I had to make my call through a third party. Can the Minister inform me why telephone directories for all districts covered by the New South Wales telephone network, including Sydney, are not available at unofficial post offices? Is it considered that the cost of supplying telephone information to the general public at unofficial post offices would be too great and, therefore, not warranted? Does not the Minister consider that if people were able to obtain quickly the information they required, that would tend to expand the use of telephone services, thus increasing revenue ? Will the Minister consider whether full telephonic information could be made available in all post offices for use by the general public?
– There is a very large number of telephone directories. The directories cover not only New South Wales, but also all the other parts of Australia. It would be almost impossible to supply each unofficial post office with a. full set of directories. Usually, an unofficial postmistress or postmaster can find the telephone number that a person requires without a great deal of delay. I do not think it will be possible to provide unofficial post offices with so many directories as the honorable member has suggested.
– Will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say whether it is a fact that the Australian meat industry is losing millions of pounds a year through its inability to export chilled meat? I point out that the premium on chilled beef is ls. per lb., which represents about £30 on a 600-lb. bullock. Is the scarcity of shipping duo to the combines or to lack of vision on the part of the Australian Meat Board?
– This is a matter of great interest to the Australian beef export industry. I know that the honorable member has been active in trying to stimulate a chiller trade with the United Kingdom. I understand that there is at present a price premium of about ls. per lb. at Smithfield for prime quality chiller hind-quarters, over comparable frozen hind-quarters. However, the price premium over the whole carcass would be between 7-£d. and 9d. per lb. It would not be correct to assume that that, if achievable, would represent net profit to the Australian producer. I understand that freight charges are about ltd. per lb. sterling higher for chilled beef than for frozen beef, and that costs of preparation, and risks, are also greater. However, the establishment of a chiller beef trade would obviously be advantageous to the Australian producer. Of course, the success of such a project would depend upon chiller type carcasses being presented by cattle-raisers. The Australian Meat Board and the Department of Commerce are watching the position. The problem is largely one of organization and the availability of shipping of the right kind.
– I wish to ask a question of the Prime Minister. First. I would like to draw his attention to the fact that up to a recent date, 150 of the assisted immigrants brought out under the Commonwealth Railways scheme have left the railways without completing their contract, and that defaulting German special project workers owe the Commonwealth Railways £18,584 0s. 6d. Will the Prime Minister recommend to his Government that assisted immigrants who have remained loyal to their contract, by continuing to pay for their assisted fares and remaining on their job, he relieved of further payments and also be treated as free immigrants? I may add that I know of one family - a husband, wife and three children-
– Order I The honorable member may not make a statement.
– I know of one family which has to repay £700 and has been doing so at the rate of £10 a fortnight. The father is a fettler and to keep up this payment he and his wife have had to deny the family the luxury of fruit and. to a major degree, vegetables also.
– Order ! The honorable member is not asking a question now.
– I shall have a look at the facts put before the House by the honorable member. They appear to relate to one of the special project worker schemes within the framework of the general immigration programme. The scheme is not directly administered by the Australian Government or the Department of Immigration. I gather, from what he has said, that these workers were selected in Germany by the South Australian railways administration.
– They were selected by the Commonwealth Railways.
– They do not come under my own department’s scheme of assisted immigration. Apparently they come under a special project scheme, and entered into a contract of service with their employer under which they undertook to repay fares advanced to them. If there have been defaulters I assume that the employer would have some right of recovery. I shall examine the honorable member’s question and see whether I can give him a more detailed reply later.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that outside influences are attempting to hamper or prevent applications for secret ballots in trade unions under Communist control, or in danger of falling under such control? Can the right honorable gentleman give any indication of the success or otherwise of secret ballots in recent months?
– There is no question that the Communist party has been, from the outset, violently opposed to the legislationpassed by this Government, enabling rank-and-file members of the unions to apply for a secret ballot to be conducted under the auspices of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. There is some evidence that the tactics adopted by Communist elements in unions which are still under Communist control, or which have some prospects of falling under Communist control, are directed against the conduct of secret ballots in terms of our legislation. I think that most honorable members will recall the- attempts made earlier to discredit the integrity and impartiality of the officers who conduct these secret ballots. That campaign has abated since, in some instances, after secret ballots had been conducted, Communist officials were returned as elected officials of the unions. The honorable member has asked what success has been achieved. In the four years since our legislation was passed, there have been 92 applications for secret ballots to be conducted under the legislation, and in that time success has been achieved in removing Communist officials from such key unions as the Federated Ironworkers Association, the Australian Railways Union, the Federated Clerks Union, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, and the Postal Workers Union, to mention but a few. However, I think I should warn the House that in more recent times there is evidence that, in view of reduced activity on the part of rank-and-file unionists against Communist influences, there are prospects of the Communists assuming control again in some of the unions I have mentioned.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Darwin. Is the Minister aware that rank-and-file members of the Builders Labourers Union in Victoria, which is Communist controlled, upon serving a petition on the Communist executive of that union, requiring it to make available the records of the membership of the union, in order that they might take the necessary stems for the conduct of a courtcontrolled ballot, were told by the Communist executive that it had no intention of obeying the court order, and, to date, it has refused to obey such an order, so placing the rank-and-file members in the position of having to expend money in approaching other courts to try to get the order enforced, and so on? If the Minister is aware of that fact, will he immediately look into the matter, in order to see that rights of rank-and-file members to a properly controlled ballot, and to the information necessary to conduct that ballot, are safeguarded, and as Communist officials of this union have already been responsible for assaults on members who were endeavouring to get signatures to a petition for a court-controlled ballot, will he see that the executive of this union is not permitted to defy the court and the law of the land, but is made to face a properly controlled secret ballot of rankandfile members of the union if it is to be permitted to continue in office?
– I am unable to give the House any facts at the moment on the matter raised by the honorable member. I shall examine it. However, I emphasize to the House the responsibility which we, as a community, have thrown upon the rank-and-file members of these industrial organizations to combat, on behalf of the whole Australian nation, the sinister influence and infiltrating processes of the Communist party in these key sectors of our economy. All sections in this Parliament should take such opportunities as they can to bring home to individual Australian trade unionists the menace with which they are confronted, and the importance of their individual action to resist these influences inside their unions.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether it is a fact that one reason for the inability of the service departments to spend their defence allocations is that all specifications for work must be prepared by the Department of Works before tenders are called, and that the department is well behind in the preparation of these plans? What steps is the Minister taking to speed up plans and designs for the services?
– I think that, question should be asked of me as Minister for Works, not as Minister for the Interior. As far as I know, the Department of Works is not behind in its plans. but if tie honorable member will quote me any specific instances, I will be very pleased to have them examined, and give him the fullest details possible. It does take longer to prepare a job for open tender than it takes when the job is to be done by day labour; but on the other hand, in spite of what the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has said-
– In spite of what the Minister has said.
– The honorable member has made comparisons between cost-plus jobs done in the week-end as part-time jobs with jobs performed by day labour at that particular time. That is a very different business to comparing day-labour costs with firm contracts. However, if the honorable member for Farrer will let me know of any particular job he has in mind, I shall be very pleased to inquire into the matter.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister bren drawn to the decision of the overseas shipping lines to abandon the proposed increased freight rates to Indian porta? Is this decision not due to the strong action taken by the Indian Government, .which made it plain to the overseas combines that they would no longer be allowed privileges which they enjoyed? Will the Prime Minister take similar steps in Australia in order that Australia may be protected against the unfair methods contemplated by the overseas shipping combines in relation to freight rates to this country?
– I am not aware of the fact referred to by the honorable member, but I shall have it conveyed to my two colleagues, the Minister for Shipping and Transport and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
– Is the Minister foi Civil Aviation aware that passenger buses operated by Trans-Australia Airlines between airports and terminals in each of the State capitals are oldfashioned, slow, and uncomfortable? Does he also know that they compare very unfavorably with buses operated by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited? Will the Minister request the management of Trans-Australia Airlines to correct this defect, and provide travellers with a bus service at least equal v to that of rival air companies?
– Probably th, honorable member has asked his question in relation to the buses in Adelaide. 1 am not aware of the condition of those buses. The ones I know of in Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne may be a little out of date, but they are always scrupulously clean, and are kept very well indeed by the men who do this job. However, I shall take the matter up with Trans-Australia Airlines, ascertain the exact position, and see what can be done to improve it.
– Has the Minister for Social Services yet put to the Prime Minister, or to his Cabinet colleagues, the request of a representative deputation of pensioners which he received yesterday? The effect of the request is as follows : - “ In order to alleviate the widespread distress and suffering amongst pensioners due to the inadequacy of their pension payments, will the Government take immediate steps to increase the weekly rate from £3 10s. to £4 10s., and if necessary the present sittings of the Parliament be extended to enable this to be done?” If the Minister put this request to his colleagues, what decision was arrived at? If the proposal of the deputation has been rejected, will he state what plan the Government proposes to pursue to meet the desperate plight of these deserving citizens, many of whom are at present in a state of semi-starvation?
– The honorable gentleman has been sadly misinformed by the honorable member for East Sydney. I did not receive a deputation from pensioners yesterday.
– That is just a stupid reply.
-Order! The honorable member for East Sydney may not make such a remark. He will withdraw it.
– I withdraw it.
– If and when an Order in Council is made for the transfer of the administration of the Cocos Islands to the Commonwealth of Australia, will the Prime Minister consider arranging an appropriate ceremony in the Cocos Islands in order to mark an historic occasion of great significance to the people, particularly the children, of both the islands and Australia ? May I say that T mentioned this important matter to the Minister for Territories last evening and that he greeted it with the quality of enthusiasm that is usually reserved for recalcitrant mothers-in-law and broken shoe laces.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman should not quote conversations that have taken place between himself and Ministers.
– I shall be very happy to have a conversation about the matter with my colleague, with whom, I must say, I usually manage to have rather friendlier talks than were those mentioned by the honorable member.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. The right honorable gentleman will recall that I have raised questions concerning British immigrants who were resident in certain hostels and who withheld payment of particular charges in protest against the amounts of those charges. The Minister did not reply to my observations on this matter made during the Supply debate. Am I to take it that he is making further inquiries and that be will give the matter consideration ?
– My recollection is that I replied to the honorable gentleman on an occasion when he raised this matter at question time.
– That is correct.
– I did not have an opportunity to reply to him when he mentioned the matter again during the Supply debate. If, after examining the remarks made by the honorable member during that debate, I consider it necessary to add anything to mv earlier reply or to have further inquiries made, I shall act accordingly. The honorable member may expect to hear from me when I have had an opportunity to examine his remarks.
– Will the Minister for Health inform the House of the successful results that have so far been achieved by the national anti-tuberculosis campaign, and also the approximate annual cost of the campaign to the Commonwealth ?
– There is much evidence of the success of the national anti-tuberculosis campaign. The most gratifying result is the reduction in the death rate from tuberculosis from 25 in every 100,000 of the population in 1950 to 10 in every 100,000 persons in 1954 - a reduction of 60 per cent. In addition, the payment of generous allowances io acute tuberculosis cases, which was instituted in 1950 with the object of bringing to light concealed cases, has revealed several thousand such sufferers, who have responded to treatment so well as to enable them to return to their normal occupations. In addition, during the last five years, no fewer than 1,000 additional beds have been provided for the segregation of tuberculosis sufferers from other patients, and work on the provision of a further 1,500 beds for this purpose is at present in hand. As a consequence of these efforts, the waiting list for the admission to hospitals of acutely ill tuberculosis sufferers is almost non-existent, and we hope that it will completely disappear. Also, a very active campaign for mass tuberculosis X-ray has enabled the authorities to detect the disease in many sufferers much earlier than formerly, and this has made early and effective treatment possible. There are many other evidences of the success of this campaign, the cost of which has been, altogether, approximately £27.000,000 over the last five years. The cost this year will be £8.000,000, of which the States will contribute approximately £700,000.
– Yesteday the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) asked me a question about the price of tea. I merely want to say, in reply, that my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, is assembling a great deal of material in relation to the price of tea, which will come before the Cabinet at a very early date, and that thereafter a full statement on it will be made. I shall see that the honorable member receives a copy of the statement.
Chamber Microphones - Divisions - Pairs - .FIRST Aid Facilities.
– A few days ago a question was raised in regard to the microphones on the table, and also in regard to the switches which, I have discovered, are on either side of the table. I have made inquiries and have found that there are three microphones on the table which deal with amplification within the House. A tall one is near the hour glass, and the others, of the same make, stand one on each side of the rows of Ilansard volumes. All other microphones deal with the outside broadcast of parliamentary proceedings. I have also discovered that the switches on either side of the table which right honorable gentlemen have been using for a number of years have not been in operation since some time early in 1949 and, so that there shall be no chance of right honorable gentlemen being under any misapprehension about them in the future, I have had them removed.
The question was raised recently regarding the closing of the doors on my right and left during divisions. That matter has been examined, and I should have notified the House earlier of the result, but I had forgotten to do so, although the information was promptly forthcoming. In September, 1927, the House decided that, as soon as a division was called for, the two doors to which I have referred were to be locked immediately. In the same resolution . it was also decided that honorable gentlemen who did not want to vote might sit in the galleries. I entirely disagree with that, because the purpose in locking the doors is to ensure that honorable gentlemen who are unable to get into the chamber after the doors have been locked will not be able to vote. Obviously, that means that those who are inside the chamber must vote. However, that is a matter on which the House will have to make a decision.
An honorable member interjecting,
– Order! There is a standing order which provides that silence shall be maintained when the Speaker is addressing the House, and these are matters which concern every honorable member in the House. I had the misfortune, perhaps, to be trained in the South Australian House, where a member was not allowed to sit in any part of the chamber without voting. I think that this is a matter that the House might consider early in the coming sessional period, so that there will be no likelihood of misunderstanding.
– I rise to order. It does not follow that honorable members who are excluded from the House, and therefore physically prevented from voting, and honorable members who, because they are paired with other honorable members on the opposite side of the chamber, or who, because of some decision, do not wish to vote on a particular matter, should be compelled to leave the House. It might be very important for such honorable members to be in the House. I could give dozens, perhaps hundreds, of examples of reasons when it has been important for members who do not wish to vote to be present in the chamber. There is a standing arrangement between the Prime Minister, and myself, as Leader of the Opposition, to be paired in the absence of either of us, for any reason such as necessity to attend a meeting elsewhere, or to deal with a matter which takes up time, but which might necessitate either the Prime Minister or myself, whichever of us is concerned, to be in the proximity of the House. In such a case it might be most inconvenient for me to have to leave the House, and normally I might sit in one of the seats reserved for staff. That principle has obtained for many years. Mr. Scullin frequently followed it when he was paired with an honorable member on the other side. I do not suppose Mr. Speaker, that you will compel the absence of an honorable member from the House until this matter has been cleared up, and I assume that until then we shall observe the existing rule.
– I thought that I had made that distinctly clear.
– Well, you have altered the rule without the ruling of the House.
– Speaking to that point of order, you have ruled, Mr. Speaker, by inference anyhow, that the resolution of the House in 1927 stands until it is altered by the House. May I ask whether you intend to raise the matter with the House some time during the next session or whether you propose to leave it until the Prime Minister decides to bring it before the House?
– I thought I made it perfectly clear that I wish the House to go into it early in the next session. The other matter to which I wish to refer is the Pairs Book. The Standing Orders and procedures of the House contain no mention of pairs. I have como up against the problem in regard to tho printing of the daily Hansard because of the late furnishing of the pairs lists. I have given instructions that, if the pairs lists are not provided in time, they are not to be recorded. The publication of Hansard is not to be delayed because of the lack of the pairs lists. Pairs cannot be used in many divisions. Honorable members understand the reason perfectly well, so I need not explain it. My personal view is that the recording of pairs serves no useful purpose whatever.
– If I may speak on this point, I do not suggest for ona moment that the publication of the daily Hansard should be delayed as the result of waiting for a pairs list; but I do submit it is very important that the names of those persons who have been paired in a division should appear in the ultimate permanent record. Otherwise, it could be said of any particular honorable member by a critic of that honorable member,. “You did not even vote on such and such a division. You probably were not there “, and all sorts of other remarks could he made whereas the truth of the matter could be that under the old dispensation, he might have been sitting in the corner, paired with somebody on the other side. We know that that frequently happens. If an honorable member is not absent or indifferent, but is paired with an honorable member from the other side of the House, that fact ought to appear as part of an accurate record of what happens in the Parliament.
– Hear, hear
– I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that the mechanical difficulty associated with this matter can be exaggerated. I agree that it may frequently be impossible to record in the daily Hansard the names of honorable members who are paired. But surely there is nothing simpler than having, after each division list in the daily Hansard, a blank space so that in the permanent copy, the pairs may be inserted without disturbing the metal, and without presenting any printing or binding problem for the Government Printer. I submit very strongly that that suggestion, or something of that kind, might well be examined. I think that I express the views of honorable members generally when I state that it would be wrong not to have a record of honorable members paired in respect of divisions in this House.
– The Opposition supports that suggestion.
– I share the desire for accuracy in the records, but if we were to proceed only as far as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) desires to go, we would not have a completely accurate record unless there were recorded the reasons for the absence of honorable members. I concede that there are occasions when honorable members are compelled to be absent and when they are quite entitled to seek a pair, but I should imagine that there are other occasions when, as a matter of convenience and for other reasons not connected with the Parliament, they may desire to be paired and be absent from the Parliament. If the record is to be a correct record, I suggest that the reason for the pair, or the absence of an honorable member, should also be recorded.
– If I may, Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order in relation to your reference to the microphones on the table. When honorable members are speaking from benches further back, interjections which are made at the table cannot be heard by the speakers, but they can be heard, not only over the amplifying system in the House, but also by the radio audience. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that it is grossly unfair and improper, and not in keeping with parliamentary practice that persons at the table should have the advantage of live microphones and should be able to put words over those microphones which completely distort the speech of the honorable member who is speaking and who cannot hear the interjections and reply to them. Such interjections may alter the whole context and strength of the arguments that are being used.
– Mr. Speaker, I invite your attention to the fact that whilst it is possible, during broadcasts, for those who have defective hearing to receive a perfect rendition of what is being said in the chamber, when the broadcast ceases it is impractical for such honorable members to hear clearly what is being said in the chamber because the live microphones are limited to the table and they distort the speech of those who speak from further back in the chamber. Might I suggest that, when you are discussing this subject with the representatives of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, you ascertain the possibility of other microphones being brought into operation when broadcasting has ceased, so that honorable members with a serious hearing defect may enter intelligently into the debates?
-I had a discussion last week with people responsible for the operation of the broadcasting system. During recess, it is possible that certain modifications will be made to the system and that attempts will be made to try out those modifications in order to ascertain whether they will work all right. The remedy for the matter raised by the honorable member for Macarthur rests in the hands of honorable members. It is perfectly true that certain statements have gone over tne air which should nor have been made. There is no doubt about that. But, just as honorable members who sit further back in the chamber do not hear those remarks, I often do not hear them, either. That matter is in the hands of honorable members.
– In view of the unfortunate incident which occurred yesterday, Mr. Speaker, will you consider making available in the chamber a surgical or first-aid kit for use in the case of emergency? Such a kit might be the mean; of saving somebody’s life.
– I have already discussed that subject with the Minister for Health, who has undertaken to consult the honorable member for Oxley. I suggested to the Minister last night that some kind of kit should be kept in the chamber, perhaps at the back of the chair.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received letters from both the honorable member for Fawkner and the honorable member for Wilmot, proposing that definite matters of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion to-day. I have considered the two matters proposed, and acting under the authority given to Mr. Speaker by Standing Order No. 106a, I have determined that the matter proposed by the honorable member for Fawkner is the most urgent and it will be given priority.
Honorable members interjecting,
– I invite the attention of honorable members to the fact that the Speaker shall be heard in silence. The matter that is mentioned in the letter of the honorable member for Fawkner is -
The alliance between the Communist party and the Evatt-Stout-Cain Labour party in running a joint unity ticket for the elections of the Victorian branch of the Australian’ Railways’ Union to re-establish control of the railways industry by the Communist party under the leadership ofJ. J. Brown
Is the proposal supported?
– On a point of order-
– Order !I am asking whether the proposal is supported.
– I am taking a point of order on what you have done.
-The right honorable member will wait until I give him his opportunity. Is the proposal supported ?
Eight honorable members having risen in their places,
– I rise to order. My point of order is, Mr. Speaker, that you have claimed the right to decide priority without seeking the opinion of the House.
– Order ! That matter was settled on a previous occasion by a division of the House.
– With great respect, Mr. Speaker, it has not been recently settled, and I propose to move dissent from your ruling that you have that absolute right of discretion. Accordingly, I move -
That this House dissents from Mr. Speaker’s ruling - Iiia decision under Standing Order 106A - that the matter proposed to be submitted to the House by the honorable member for Fawkner, which has been read to the House, is more urgent and important than the matter proposed to be submitted by the honorable member for Wilmot, the matter proposed by the honorable member for Wilmot being-
-Order! The right honorable gentleman will not read that letter.
– I am not reading it, Mr. Speaker.
-Order ! I order the honorable gentleman not to read the contents of that letter.
– I ask you to review that order, Mr. Speaker. I am about to refer, in a motion, to the matter that was covered by the letter of the honorable member for Wilmot.
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman shall not use the contents of the letter as part of the motion, because the letter was submitted to me. I have given a ruling; he may disagree with that ruling, if he chooses to do so.
– Let us have a little bit of free speech.
– Surely, as a matter of record, I should be entitled to attach to my motion of dissent the letter of the honorable member for Wilmot .which you have in your possession - a copy of which has been supplied to me by the honorable member for Wilmot - so that the matter may be brought before the House. I quite agree with you, if I may say so respectfully, that the question is not whether the House should determine the relative priority of the two matters submitted to you, but whether your decision is unappealable to the House. I thought that, as a matter of record-
-I shall not allow the letter of the honorable member for Wilmot to become part of the motion.
– You will not allow it to be included?
– I will not.
– In that case, I shall be compelled to move dissent from that ruling.
– Then go ahead and do so.
– I shall do so.
Dr. Evatt having submitted his objection, in writing, to the ruling.
– Because the ruling is a very important one, I move -
That this House dissents from the ruling by Mr. Speaker that it is not competent for the right honorable member for Barton to include in the motion of dissent which has been partly read to the House, the matter proposed by the honorable member for Wilmot under Standing Order 106A
In one sense, Mr. Speaker, this is a more important question than the previous question, in that you have tried to prevent an honorable member from including in a motion for submission to the House a rival matter which has been submitted by another honorable member. I submit that it is completely competent for me to include the letter of the honorable member for Wilmot in my motion. It is not a secret document. With respect, Mr. Speaker, in your public statement in the House you have said that you preferred one matter to the other as being the more urgent of the two. I think that, as a matter of record, it is important that the other matter, which you treat in your ruling as secondary to the matter which you have preferred, should be known. You have prevented me from referring to it. It is not to be read at all. I do not wish to elaborate it. I submit that you should not interfere with a motion proposed to be moved by an honorable member of the House until it comes before you. Only then can you deal with it. You did not say that my motion was out of order, but you refused to allow me to complete it. I submit that your ruling is clearly wrong.
– Is the motion seconded ?
– I second the motion. Question put -
That the motion [vide page 1579) be bea greed to.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . ..13
Question so resolved in. the negative.
.- Omitting any reference to the terms of the letter of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr.. Duthie), I move -
That this House dissents from the ruling of Mr. Speaker, that his decision, under StandingOrder1 06a, that the matter proposed to be submitted to the House by the honorable member for Fawkner is more urgent and important than the matter proposed to be submitted by the honorable member for Wilmot is unappealable.
Dr. Evatt having submitted in writing his objection to the ruling,
– The motion arises from your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that your decision on the relative urgency of the matters submitted to the House is absolutely final and cannot be questioned. It might be said that some support for that view is tobe found in the form in which Standing Order 106a is worded, but I am relying on a principle which the House approved only a few weeks ago in connexion with executive action that you took in the House. I think the House then accepted the principle that every act by the occupant of the chair must be subject to ultimate review by the House. You might say that one matter submitted for discussion was more urgent and important than another, when, in the opinion of” the House, that view was plainly wrong. I submit that every ruling or action by Mr. Speaker in relation to the business of the House can be dealt with by the House. If this motion were carried, we could then go on to deal with the question of the matter to which preference should be given. Our view is that the matter submitted by the honorable member for Wilmot is more urgent and more important than that submitted by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke), but the House may hold a different opinion. My submission is that your ruling that a ruling or decision by you on the relative urgency of matters submitted for discussion cannot be queried by the House is wrong.
– I rule the motion out of order, as I have done before in similar cases: I have not given a ruling. I have simply exercised a discretion. which.I am obliged to exercise under the Standing Orders. I have not said at any time that the letter of the honorable member for Wilmot is out of order. All that I have done has been to say that, of two letters submitted to me, I shall give priority to the one submitted by the h onorable member for Fawkner. As no ruling was involved, the motion proposed by the right honorable gentleman is out of order.
– My motion does not deal with the relative urgency of the matters submitted. It deals with the point whether your ruling that one of them is more important than the other can be appealed from. You say, Mr. Speaker, that it cannot be appealed from. You say that no ruling was, in fact, given. You say that your determination is final and cannot be questioned. Surely, in making that determination, you gave a ruling; and surely the House, if it likes, can express its dissent from that ruling. That is the point.
– I have ruled the motion out of order.
– I rise to order.
– What is the point of order ?
– I will state it, if you will give me time to do so. I want to refer to the terms of the motion of the honorable member for Fawkner.
– It is not a motion.
– It is a motion for the adjournment of the House.
– No, it is not.
– Very well. The matter submitted for discussion by the honorable member for Fawkner, to which you say priority should be given, contains a reference to an “ alliance between the Communist party and the EvattStoutCain Labour party”. That is an absolute falsity, as is known to every member of the Parliament.
– Order ! That is not a point of order.
– I am asking whether you regard it as urgent and important that the time of this National Parliament -should be taken up in discussing an allegation which you, Mr. Speaker, and every member of the House knows to be false.
– Order ! I name the honorable member for East Sydney for imputing motives to the Speaker.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 12
Honorable members interjecting,
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for East Sydney thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
– Standing Order 302 reads -
If any Member be suspended under the foregoing order, his suspension on the first occasion shall be for twenty-four hours: on the second occasion during the same year for seven days excluding? th» day of suspension: and on the third or any subsequent occasion during the same year for twenty-eight days excluding the da’ of suspension: Provided that any suspension in a previous Session shall be disregarded.
The proviso means that the whole of a penalty which is inflicted upon a member during one sitting of the Parliament shall expire with that sitting of the Parliament and shall not extend into a further sitting which might be held at a later date. If. at a later sitting, the honorable member is named, he is then only committing hit first offence. The suspension should end with the rising of Parliament to-day.
– I now seek a ruling by you, Mr. Speaker, as to the meaning of Standing Order 302. I submit that under the standing order the period of suspension does not mean sitting days; th, standing order means what it says. Ii makes no reference to sitting days. Ii covers a period of suspension from th( service of the House. That period wil’ elapse seven days after to-day. I do noi ask you so to rule in advance, because ii has not yet happened. I take it that if you give a ruling now it will prevent th, matter being ruled on by you at tb> proper time when it arises.
– I can assure tinright honorable gentleman that if there is no prorogation of the Parliament before we meet again, whenever it may be. and the honorable member for Eas Sydney (Mr. Ward) tries to take hit seat, I shall rule that he is not entitled to take his seat. The right honorable gentleman might leave it until then.
– Why should you indicate in advance of the event what you intend to do?
– That is exactly what the right honorable gentleman asked m’to do.
– I have asked you not to do it.
Sitting suspended from 12.U8 to 2.15 p.m
– Mr. Speaker, may I ask you to clarify the position arising out of the incident immediately prior to the suspension of the sitting? I desire to direct attention to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, and their relation to the Standing Orders of this
House. I refer you, Mr. Speaker, to May’s Parliamentary Practice, the fifteenth edition, at page 1026, which deals with the suspension of a member of the House of Commons, and expressly mentions the days “ on which the House shall sit “. The passage reads as follows : - (2.) If any Member be suspended under this order, his suspension on the first occasion shall continue until the fifth day, and on the second occasion until the twentieth day, on which the Bouse shall sit after the day on which he was suspended but on any subsequent occasion until the House shall resolve that the suspension of such Member do terminate.
– I wish to take a point of order on the point of order. I submit that this matter is not at present before the House. You, Mr. Speaker, have already indicated that you propose to take certain action, or consider taking -certain action, when the House resumes. That being the case, this matter is not before the House, and I suggest that a point of order does not arise.
– Order ! I cannot allow the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin) to proceed. He has been quoting the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. I am not qualified to interpret the Standing Orders of that House. I have given my decision and I have told the House what I shall do when the House meets. So far as I am concerned, the matter is closed for the time being. I ask the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) to proceed.
Debate resumed (vide page 1579).
. -I can well understand the discomfiture of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and the attempt by some of his supporters to divert attention from the matter of this letter that I have placed before the House, because I propose to produce positive evidence before this chamber of the firm and open alliance between the Communist party and the Evatt-Stout-Cain Labour party, in the form of this joint unity ticket which they are running with prominent members of the Labour party and prominent Communists for the express purpose of trying fo mt Mr. .J. J. Brown back into his position as commissar, or controller, of the Victorian railways.
The people of Victoria have cause for very grave alarm indeed at this development. The Australian Railways Union is the biggest union in the State. There are 25,000 members of that union, and they are responsible for the conduct of the biggest single industry in Victoria. The manner in which that industry is conducted is at stake in this matter - whether its union officials conduct it? affairs in a responsible Australian way, as has been the case in the last two or three years when the control has been by genuine Australian Labour party men. or in an irresponsible un-Australian manner that had prevailed previously when Mr. Brown was in control.
These things have a vital affect on the general prosperity, welfare and convenience of the people of Victoria. Thai State, to its sorrow, has had ample experience of the affects of Communisrule by the Australian Railways Union in very recent memory. Mr. J. J. Brown was the secretary of the Australian Railways Union for a number of years and he used, or should I say abused, his position in the typical manner of Communishypocrisy by carrying out this Communist stunt that Communist union people are interested in the welfare of their members, and that they are concerned with the conditions and the standards of living of the people ; whereas, in reality, as we saw in the case of the Communist-controlled Australian Railways Union, the Communists deliberately strove, and I am afraid, succeeded in depressing the standard of living of the members of the unions and in wreaking havoc in the community in general. We had, in Victoria, constant industrial strife, culminating, in 1950, in a 54-day strike in the railways. As a result of that dislocation, the members of the union themselves lost more than £1,000,000 in wages. They made no gains, and they received no benefits as a result of that strike. The public suffered tremendous inconvenience. Fellowunionists who used the trains, housewives and women generally in the community, suffered from this senseless political strike which had no legitimate industrial basis.
– Does the honorable member not believe in strikes?
– Order! The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), will maintain order.
– The railways deficit increased by millions of pounds, and there was a general setback to the prosperity of the community in Victoria. Those are hardships and difficulties that the people of Victoria experienced in very recent years as a direct result of the control of our great Australian Railways Union in that State by Communists. The workers in the unions concerned suffered losses; their fellowunionists in other sections of the community suffered inconvenience; the railway service was not running effectively, and that was causing severe financial trouble to the State as a whole.
That condition changed dramatically about three years ago when the Australian Labour party industrial groups in Victoria won one of those great victories that are landmarks in the history of this country. This result was achieved because the persons concerned availed themselves of the machinery of the Australian Labour party industrial groups, and of the machinery provided by this Parliament, whereby clean union ballots can be held, and where there is no scope for faking by the Communists. As a result of those things, an Australian Labour party industrial group won control of the Australian Railways Union, and we had decent, honest Australian Labour party trade unionists in control of that union. The workers in the union then achieved better conditions. They have made real advances in the last few years, not as the result of strikes, but as the result of negotiations by their trusted and responsible leaders. The public also received better services because the railways improved their general facilities. Railway finances improved considerably. and the drain and burden upon State finances were alleviated to a considerable degree.
I say that the people of Victoria owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to members of the Australian Labour party industrial groups who fought a hard battle and won the battle in the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union in wresting control of that union from the Communists and getting it back into the hands of decent, responsible Australian Labour party unionists. That is the position. The people of Victoria arethankful to those men. They have donea great job, and they deserve well by the community.
But now we find, at the present time, that the situation may be upset. A seriouseffort is being made to change that position. Mr. J. J. Brown is now making an attempt to come back and regain the position in the Australian RailwaysUnion which he lost as the result of th& work of the industrial groups. Mr. J. J. Brown is getting away to a flying start in his efforts to come back into the Australian Railways Union as the first stepto wresting control of that great union again from the Australian Labour party people for the Communist party. As I have said, he is getting away to a flying start because in the union election which is to take place very shortly, his name appears on a joint unity ticket with, members of the Australian Labour party.. If Mr. Brown had to contest this election on a straight-out Communist ticket,, no one would take the matter very seriously. There would be no need toworry about it and the people of Victoria, would have little need for- concern. But he is not contesting the election on a straight-out Communist ticket.
– He is on the StoutCain ticket.
– As I am reminded, Mr. Brown’s name appears on the ticket of the Stout-Cain section of the Australian Labour party, together with the names of other prominent Communists and of prominent members of theLabour party. Genuine Labour supporters who fought the Communists over the years, and who devoted their timeand their energies to the battle to win back control of the Australian RailwaysUnion from the Communists, find it unbelievable that this complete somersault has taken place and that, control’ of this vital and important union having; been wrested from the Communists, thenew Australian Labour party executive,. under the leadership of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), has attempted to reverse the decision completely. Whereas the old Labour executive fought to rid the union of the Communists, the new executive is striving to put them back in control and to reinstate Mr. Brown.
Here is the evidence. The Gazette, which is the official organ of the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union, contains a notice signed by Mr. W. J. S. Donald, who claims, I imagine rightly, that he is a member of the Moonee Ponds branch of the Australian Labour party. He is standing for election to the office of president of the Victorian branch of the union in the forthcoming elections. Among the names of other candidates for office published in this notice under the name of Mr. Donald are that of Mr. J. J.
Brown, the general, president of the Australian body of the union, who Ls standing for the office of assistant secretary of the Victorian branch, and those of two other known Communists, Mr. H. Booley and Mr. E. Moore, who are standing for the positions of deputy organizers. Beside the names of a number of members of the Australian Labour party is a note of the fact that they are members of the Labour party.
– Of the Evatt Australian Labour party.
– As I am reminded, of the Evatt Australian Labour party. In addition, the notice includes the name of Mr. V. Delmenico, a signalman, of Castlemaine, who also is a member of the Australian Labour party. I direct attention to the significant fact that Mr. Delmenico, whose name appears on the joint unity ticket with the names of Mr. Brown and other well-known Communists, is not only a member of the Stout-Evatt Australian Labour party, but also a member of the executive of that party which was elected a few months ago by a bogus conference. Mr. Delmenico is a member of the executive which endorses members of the Australian Labour party who represent Victorian seats in this House, including the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell). Every one of those members depends for endorsement as a candidate at future elections upon this new State Australian Labour party executive in Victoria, of which Mr. Delmenico, is a member. Yet he, unashamedly and openly, allows his name to appear on the same ticket as that of Mr. J. J.. Brown.
We have also more recent evidence of this association. A statement that is to appear in the next issue of the Gazette of the Australian Railways Union lists the candidates again. This statement was given to the editor of the Gazette by Mr. Brown. It states that the ticket upon which the name of Mr. Brown appears pledges full support for Dr. Evatt and the official Australian Labour party. It urges members of the Australian Railways Union to vote for J. J. Brown as assistant secretary, and for Vic. Delmenico, signalman, of Castlemaine, as Australian Council delegate. It mentions the fact that he is a member of the State executive of the Australian Labour party. Indeed, the unity ticket trades on that fact. Here we have a member of the State executive of the Evatt Australian Labour party using that fact in order to obtain support for the unity ticket for the purpose of helping Mr. J. J. Brown to regain a position from which he can continue his function of sabotaging the people of Victoria.
This seems to be the new pattern and the new order in the Australian Labour party under the association between the Stout-Evatt executive and the Australian Communist party. I do not know whether the Communist party is tied to the apron-strings of the Stout-Evatt Australian Labour party executive, or whether the members of that executive are tied to the apron-strings of the Communist party. It can be only one thing or the other. There is clearly a very close alliance between the two organizations. It is interesting to note that, in the constitution and platform of the Australian Labour party, there is a rule which specifically deals with this matter. If the rule had been observed, Mr. Delmenico and all these members of the Labour party would automatically have expelled themselves from the party. The rule reads -
That under no circumstances must any Branch or member of the Party be associated with members of the Communist Party . . . in the holding of joint meetings in advocacy of the United Front, or in any other matter; and, further, that any Branch of the A.L.P. which contravenes this instruction must be declared bogus -
Here is the significant portion -
If that rule were observed, Mr. Delmenico, who is a member of the State executive, would automatically have expelled himself from the movement.
I regret that the honorable member for Bendigo is not at present in the chamber. He is a member of the Victorian State executive of the Australian Labour party. He officiates on the same executive as does Mr. Delmenico, whose name appears on the same ticket as does that of Mr. J. J. Brown. Mr. Cain, the former Premier of Victoria, also officiates on that executive with Mr. Delmenico. It would be interesting to know whether Mr. Cain or the honorable member for Bendigo proposes to invoke the rule to which I have referred in order that Mr. Delmenico will be automatically expelled from the Australian Labour party on account of his close and active association with open and avowed members of the Australian Communist party on a joint ticket for a union election. I challenge the honorable member for Bendigo and Mr. Cain, who leads this section of the Australian Labour party in Victoria, to ensure that Mr. Delmenico is expelled from his position on the executive to which he and they belong, and from the Australian Labour party, because he has committed a flagrant breach of the rule that I have read to the House. If the honorable member and Mr. Cain do not accept that challenge, are we to understand that, because one Labour party rule has already been torn up in order that a new executive might be elected by a conference to which members with less than two years’ standing in the party were admitted, none of these rules that are no longer convenient shall apply? Is this further evidence of the fact that Mr. Stout and the
Leader of the Opposition, and their followers in Victoria, are no longer representative of the genuine and legitimate Australian Labour party in that State because they do not recognize this vital and fundamental rule?
– Order ! The honor able gentleman’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) has made a pathetic attempt to support candidates for a union election in Victoria and also, if he can, to influence the result of the forthcoming elections of members of the Victorian Legislative Council. The honorable member supported candidates who contested 44 seats at the Victorian general elections on the 28th May last, and only one of those candidates was elected. Every time the honorable member speaks for a candidate, that candidate is beaten. If he wishes the candidates whom he supports to win, he should maintain silence. Fancy the honorable member speaking for the people of Victoria! The matter which he has proposed for discussion, and which you, Mr. Speaker, deem to be of such urgency-
– Order ! Theright honorable gentleman shall not comment upon my actions.
– I cannot, and I shall not do so.
– Order! I warn the right honorable member that he is not in the High Court now.
– I know it. If I were, I should be free to comment.
– You, Mr. Speaker, have no need to make the comment that you have made.
– Order! The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) will maintain silence.
– You have-
– Order ! If the honorable member interjects again, I shall name him.
– The matter proposed for discussion by the honorable member for Fawkner refers to “the alliance between the Communist party and the Evatt-Stout-Cain Labour party . . .”. Mr. Cain and Mr. Stout are in it, and I am the principal figure in it. This is the charge - . . in running a joint unity ticket . . .
Rot only are we not running anything of the sort, but neither Mr. Stout, Mr. Cain aor I has ever heard of the alleged ticket. [ discussed it last evening with them in Melbourne. The charge reads -
The elections for what? For the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union. I know none of the names to which the honorable member for Fawkner has referred. The whole charge contained in the resolution reads -
The alliance between the Communist party dmi the Evatt-Stout-Cain Labour party in Tunning a joint unity ticket for the elections of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Railways Union to re-establish control of the railways iudustry by the Communist party under the leadership of J. J. Brown. ot control of the union, but of the whole industry, which is supposed to be run by the Government through the various commissioners. Every word in it is a smear, and every smear in it is utterly false, [t is typical of the honorable member for Fawkner that he comes to the National Parliament in order to get some advantage for those whose cause he supports in this election. He thinks he will get some advantage out of it, but I believe that his action will have the opposite effect. I asked Mr. Stout about this at the meeting-
– What meeting?
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra must remain silent.
– I said to Mr. Stout, “What do you think about all this? This is what he says.” He asked, “ Who said ? “ I answered, “ This is what Bourke said “.
– Order! The honorable gentleman shall refer to the honorable member for Fawkner in the correct manner, which is by the name of the division that he represents in this House.
– I am detailing a conversation that took place outside this House. Mr. Stout said, “ I will give you a short statement on that “. I shall read that statement to the House. It is a; follows : -
There has been no suggestion received by the Australian Labour party-
And Mr. Stout is the president of thai body - or the Trades Hall Council.
And Mr. Stout is the secretary of thai body. He is one of the best known, and most highly respected trade union officials in Australia. I do not think that honorable members will deny that, whatever they may think of his views. His statement reads -
No suggestion was received from the Com muni st party or from any Communist concerning a unity ticket for the A.R.U. elections in Victoria, nor has any approach been made to us by that body or any person in respect to doing so. There was no discussion about it.
I read to him this statement which the honorable member for Fawkner fathers, or, should I say, step-fathers, and he said, “ The statement made is completely false”. I say that it is completely false as far as it concerns me, and Mr. Cain says that it is completely false as far as it concerns him. So here is a statement, which the Parliament is asked to discuss., every part of which is false. Let me read the statement again. It begins by referring to “ an alliance “. That is utterly false. It is simply a smear which is typical of the methods adopted by the honorable member for Fawkner, even when he was a member of the Australian Labour party, and it is typical of his methods now that he is out of the Australian Labour party. We know the kind of things that he used to say in caucus, which found their way into the press within half an hour of the end of caucus meetings. They were smears against the leaders of the party, or anybody else who was carrying out and fighting for the principles and platform of the Labour party. The present charge accuses the Australian Labour party of “ running a joint unity ticket “ in concert with the Communist party, for this trade union election. I deny that. I say that the honorable gentleman’s allegation is completely false and that he ought to be ashamed of having made it. “What evidence has he got to support it? It is a scandalous thing that those statements should be made. If I thought it was of any use I would point out that, under the Standing Orders, honorable members are not entitled to make reflections on other honorable members by way of motion. But that is what the honorable member has done. I say that his support of any individual, or any group, in Victoria, will only injure that individual or group. He does not seem to understand that the view of the Labour party hi regard to trade union elections is that the name of the Labour party is not to be used to support any group within that union. The position of a trade union depends upon its strength. The purpose of a trade union is the improvement and maintenance of working conditions and wages of its members. Apparently the honorable member for Fawkner does not like that. If the rules of a union give its members a right to vote, then they are entitled to vote, but the Labour party does not permit its name to be used in connexion with elections, so the honorable member’s statement falls to the ground.
– What about the advertisement in the union journal?
– The honorable member for Fawkner seems to have obtained a copy of it from the printer before it was printed. That is only typical of the way information comes to him. I know nothing of it.
I want to say something about the history of these industrial groups. The groups were founded and, in the first instance, they did a good job. But they have become, not an instrument for the betterment of working conditions of members of the unions, but an instrument of power in the trade unions for people outside the Labour party, whose dictates are obeyed by members of the faction of which the honorable member for Fawkner is a member. Otherwise, how could the act of twelve members of the Victorian Parliamentary Labour party in crossing the floor and defeating the Victorian Labour Government while the Parliament still had seven months to run, be explained? How could those members face np to their supporters in their own elec torates after having done that? They could not face up to them in the norma) course of events, but they had no option but to do so.
The honorable member’s charge is the kind of smear that is typical of him. I want to tell the honorable member about the connexion between trade unionism and the Australian Labour party. The trade union movement is, historically^ based on the Australian Labour party. A trade union must not be split by people who want to control it for their own purposes. When it is carrying out its norma) function in connexion with demands for higher wages, or the maintenance or improvement of the working conditions of its members, it must act as a body, and its members must vote for candidates they think are best fitted to promote their interests. As one of the leaders of the Labour party I expect members of the Labour party who are members of trade unions to support, in union elections, other members of the Labour party who are candidates. That is what we want done, but we cannot ensure that that shall be done. It is the attempts of people to control trade unions for their own purposes, such as the honorable member’s group has made, which have caused the ruin of some of those industrial groups, which existed to further the interests of people outside the Labour movement, and to enable an outside body to control trade unions. The honorable member has referred to the “ Evatt-Stout-Cain Labour party “. He ought to remember the socalled, and pseudo, bogus Labour party in Victoria to which he belongs, and which could be called the BarryColemanMcManusSantamaria Labour party. That is the party to which the honorable member belongs. We know from Mr. Santamaria’s speech which was disclosed last August, that his object is to control certain trade unions through the industrial groups, to carry out not the policy of the Labour party, but the policy in which he believes, which is not Labour policy.
– Where is the evidence?
– Order I
– That is the position. The advocacy of the honorable member for Fa wiener of any individual or group will nol do iiic individual ur group concerned any good whatever. I say no more about trade unionism than dial the Labour party’s view is that the members of ii trade union should support, in a union .’lection, candidates who themselves belong to the Labour party, and L hope thai they will do so in this instance. T also i’ i! that point, and it is extremely impotant that they should vote for the Lab” .i’ party’s candidates who stand for the advancement of the interests of all members of the union. Of course, here we sei the link-up between the Liberal party and the corner group. There is no doubt about it. It exists in Melbourne. [Extension of time granted. 1 thank the Ji ouse for the extension of time. I was just coining to another interesting aspect of the matter, which is the relationship between some of those groups supported by the corner party and the policy of the Government.
LIonorable members interjecting,
– Why does not the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) keep quiet?
Mr. James. - The honorable member t’or Wills is interjecting all the time.
– I am not!
– You are! I cannot hear a wo I’d.
M r. SPEA KER. - Order ! The honorable gentleman will cease to interject.
– I rise to order.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman will resume his seat. No point of order is involved.
– If you will hear me, Mr. Speaker, my point of order is that I sit very close to the seats occupied by the members of the corner party. I notice that when members of that party speak they are heard in silence, hut when a member of tuy party is speaking he is not heard in silence.
– Order !
– Therefore, 1 think that you, Mr. Speaker, should try at least to call members of the corner party to order a little more often than you do.
– Order! During the time that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was speaking I called to order at least three members of the corner party. I also called to order members of the party to which the honorable member for Hunter belongs. I suggest to the honorable member for Hunter that if he will leave the conduct of the House to me and see to his own personal conduct we shall get on better.
– I was about to refer to the effect of the interest shown by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this matter, which is essentially one for members of trade unions. The view of the Labour party is that it should be determined by the members of the trade union. I imagine that the giving of support by the Minister for Labour and National Service, or the Prime Minister, to any group within this union would not do that group much good. Each day on which the House sits, the Minister for Labour and National Service answers questions on such subjects as this. They are generally pre-arranged questions, as is indicated by the fact that he reads the answers. There is nothing wrong with that: honorable members on this side of the House sometimes did it when the Labour party was in office. What I am saying is that that practice indicates the point of view. There is a right of election in this trade union, but that right means the giving of a free choice to each member of the union. He has not to be bullied or blackguarded into supporting any particular candidate.
I want trade unionists to support members of the Australian Labour party in their efforts to gain trade union office, because I know the close relationship that exists between the Australian Labour party and the trade union movement. But for the trade union movement, there would not have been a political Labour party. It is an historical fact that the political Labour party exists because of the work of the trade union movement. But I tell the Minister, and the Government, that their intervention in this subject does no good whatever to the people for whom they are professing to- act. The Government is complaining about the decline of certain industrial groups, but I suggest that the reason for the decline is that membership of the groups has not been limited to members of the Labour party. “We all know that that has been true of industrial groups in New South Wales. The result is that the members of the groups do not support the interests of all of the members of a particular trade union when there is a contest with the employers. Naturally, the employers are in favour of groups that do not fight for the interests of all of the members of the union concerned. I say to the Minister, to the House, and to the country as a. whole: Let this trade’ union manage its own affairs.
Let me conclude by saying that the alliance to which reference has been made does not exist. Any such suggestion is completely false. The honorable member for Fawkner uses the words “ in running a joint ticket “. Such a suggestion is a complete invention. I have quoted, what Mr. Stout says about that matter, and Mr. Cain says the same thing. The names of those two gentlemen, and my name, have been mentioned. The honorable member also referred to the re-establishment of control of the railways industry under the leadership of Brown. I have not seen Brown for eight or ten years. 1 have not seen him since he came here occasionally on deputations. I did not know that he was a candidate at this forthcoming election. But the honorable member has seen fit in order to smear me and other members of the Labour party, to use the time of the National Parliament to impute to me support of Mr. Brown as a candidate. But his effort will not be successful. The people of Victoria are awake to his methods. His action to-day is only a further illustration of the smearing, McCarthy methods that he has always employed.
Mr. Holt rising in his place,
– Order ! I inform the right honorable gentleman that I called the honorable member for Yarra earlier.
– It was quite clear at the time, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was trying to get an extension of time. There was some misunderstanding. I suggest that, in the circumstances, you should treat the matter as being before you afresh, because I was certainly rising, as was known, 1 think, to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) and the Leader of the Opposition, to put the views of the Government.
-Order! I call the Minister for Labour and National Service. .
– The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) commenced his speech by describing this matter as being of no importance what ever and as not justifying the use of the time of the National Parliament. He then proceeded quite clearly throughout his speech to point out that the matter was of very considerable importance, not only to the Parliament and the people of Victoria, but also to the people of Aus tralia as a whole.
There are three highly importanaspects of the matter to which, in the limited time available, I shall direcmyself. The first is the highly significant reference to the control of the Victorian railway system. It is all very well for the right honorable gentleman to talk about that control being in the hands of the railways commissioners. At this very moment, the people of the United Kingdom - and I do not attempt to analyse the industrial politics of the matter al present in issue over there - have been made to realize that union action cai) not only do tremendous damage to their transport system, but also strike a vital blow at the whole economy of that great country. The people of Victoria have not forgotten the experience of Jackie Brown control, Communist control, of the railway system of that State during the time he was last in office. An election that places before the people of that State the prospect of a return of the railway system to Communist control, with all its attendant wretchedness and disturbance such as were experienced before, is a matter of very great importance to them. I shall deal with some of those aspects of the matter in a moment or two.
The really vital question that has been raised in the submission of this matter for the discussion of the House is the reference to the alliance between the Communist party and what is described as the Evatt-Stout-Cain Labour party. Is there any evidence of such an alliance ? Is there any evidence that the Communist party either has a close working arrangement with the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters or, alternatively, that the Communist party, as a result of recent developments within the Australian Labour party, is able to take advantage of those developments to achieve, whether by a direct alliance or by other processes, the results that such an alliance would, bring to it? To the people of Australia, the question of which of those two situations exists may be, in its results, a matter of minor importance. There is ample precedent for the belief that the right honorable gentleman has no compunction in allying himself with prominent Communists in order to carry forward policies which seem to be desirable or expedient. We can recall the time, during the referendum campaign, when he took the platform with Jackie Hughes, Jim Healy and other leading Communist figures in order to advance his referendum proposals. He has no antipathy, personally or politically, towards association with those people.
We have had in recent times a convincing confirmation of the manner in which the Communist party is viewing this situation in the statement of no less an authority than Mr. Sharkey, the general secretary of the Communist party of Australia. The proceedings of the seventeenth congress of the Communist party were reported in the Tribune of the 11th May, the Communists’ own newspaper. In that issue of the Tribune, Mr. Sharkey is reported as having made the following statement: -
The decisions of the Hobart (A.L.P.) Conference were of a progressive character. No troops for Malaya, banning of atomic weapons, recognition of People’s China anil the reaffirmation of the Socialist objective were policies in the real interests of the Australian people
Therefore, then) can he supported by Communists, and open up tremendous possibilities for united front work with Labour Party members.
There is nothing novel about that last suggestion. It has been in the forefront of Communist policy for years past. Anybody who. has taken the trouble to study Communist literature, and the reports in the Communists’ own newspapers, knows the importance that they attach to a united front with the left wing elements inside the Australian Labour party. As the Leader of the Opposition is well aware, the support that enables him to retain leadership of the Labour party in Australia is not the support of the mass of people who normally vote for the Labour party, but is the highly coordinated and concentrated support of what are known as the left wing, unions in the industrial movement. It became popular to describe that support, because it was accurate so . to describe it, as coming from the Evatt unions. That was a phrase about which we heard a great deal in my own State, and in other States, since the commencement of these dramatic developments inside the Labour party.
When the right honorable gentleman’s leadership of the party was imperilled, those unions saw the opportunity of having support and strength in a place of great responsibility, and they threw the whole weight of the support of the left wing unions behind the right honorable gentleman. Such is the strength of that support inside the Labour movement as a whole, which consists of the support of not only individual members but also affiliated unions, that the Leader of the Opposition had sufficient support to carry the day. He had sufficient support even to succeed with a ticket in Victoria - not of those people proposed by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) and people associated with him, but a ticket promoted at that time by the so-called Evatt unions.
So I say that a united front is in operation at this very time. In at least three elections which have come to my notice, the unity ticket technique has operated to defeat the industrial group candidates and to put in power men who are either Communists themselves or who have come into office because they were acceptable to the Communist elements inside the union. In the New South Wales branch of the Miscellaneous Workers Union, in February, l(.)f>- Communistsupported candidates defeated the industrial group candidates by a threetoone majority, in the Amalgamated Engineers Union, in March, an industrial group candidate who was the sirring official was defeated by a Communistsupported, “ unity ticket” candidate. In the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union at Brisbane, in April, two Communistsupported candidates for the positions of southern districts organizers defeated the two industrial group, sitting official”:. Those officials had achieved office by resisting Communist tactics in the past, but. this new technique which one can expect to see exemplified in union after union has worked with the conspicuous success that I have indicated.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) has done the Parliament and the country a service by showing that if this same technique is applied, as apparently it is intended to apply it, in the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union, Communist control of the Victorian railways can be expected in the near future. This debate is important because of the effect that it could have on the Victorian railways system. It is also important because it has disclosed the united approach on which the Communist party has seized with such avidity and which can operate to the disadvantage of those who are resisting communism. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), using the technique that is peculiar to him - avoiding the direct utterance yet making it perfectly clear what he intends by his remarks - made it clear that he charged the industrial groups with being purely a sectarian manifestation. Do I misunderstand the right honorable gentleman when I say that? I do not think so. He made it clear that his real objection to what had been happening was that the industrial groups were the product of a sectarian movement - something quite outside the Australian Labour party. That is one of the most wicked statements that have been made in this place in my experience. r shall quote from a statement by i- i- who have fought for veur* against (‘ mmunist infiltration in their unions. 1 he..e arc mcn of Protestant faith who ha>” repudiated emphatically this foul c! a.’<re that their efforts have been the result of a sinister, underground, sectarian scheme. A statement by the men to whom 1 have referred was published in the Melbourne Age of the 4th May, ]!);”>:”>. One of the men was the secretary of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia; another was the State president of the Australian Railways Union; another was the assistant secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners; another was an organizer of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia; another was the president of the Federated Iron Workers Association of Australia and another was an executive member of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners. I think that the House will agree that this was a representative group of trade union officials. The newspaper report of their statement read as follows: - lt said: - ‘‘We view with considerable con cern the attempt now being made to cloud the issues in the coming election by the introduction of frankly sectarian com- iderations. We are non-Catholic trade unionists wlm, over the years, have fought the Communist party through the A.L.P. Industrial Groups. In that fight we have all been confronted with thiusual Communists’ weapons of intimidation, ballot rigging, sectarianism and in some casesactual loss of employment as a result o1 Communist stand-over tactic-. We arc with the anti-Communist labour party led by Mr. Joshua because the Evatt-Cain Labour part has connived at the destruction of the Indus trial Groups. We know this means bunding the unions back to Communism “.
They said that no non-Catholic who had actually fought Communism in the union*would agree with Rev. W. Albiston Mint the menace of Communism in Australia wa over rated. “ We know how great a threat Communism is. We have suffered at its hands. Tie has not”, they said. “ Tn the fight we Iri ve stood shoulder to shoulder with trade unionists of all denominations. No one lui asked who if a Protestant and who is a Catholic. Whoever divides Catholic and Protestant to-day. in Uncommon fight against Communism, bv t’>e use of the sectarian weapon is doing the work of the Communists “
That is precisely what the right honorable member for Barton and those who follow his course are doing in this country. They are doing the work of communism inside the trade unions and inside the community generally. I shall now quote Mr. Short who fought against communism in the Federated Iron “Workers Association of Australia and who has been reported as follows: -
Mr. Short said that as a nonCatholic he wished to direct attention to the fact that the work of fighting Communism in the unions had been anything but a Roman Catholic monopoly. He added: “For instance, in the Sydney branch of the Ironworkers’ Union, which has 10,000 members, five of the six full-time officers are Protestants. They were elected on an Industrial Group ticket. In th-j ugly sectarian atmosphere which has been whipped up, unionists are being asked to believe that Protestants cannot associate with Catholics in the struggle against Communism without falling under thu domination oi’ some Minster Catholic ‘Movement’”.
Those are the three elements of importance raised in this discussion which [ considered should be answered from this side of the House. I invite the people of this country to follow developments over the next few months, and if they are not already convinced that what the right honorable member for Barton has done - whether in direct language or in direct result - has led to an alliance with the Communist element in this country-
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I found it rather amusing to listen to the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) work himself up into a frenzy about trade union principles in view of the fact that, last Saturday, the federal president of his own party returned to Perth and made a statement to the newspapers to the effect that he was not a member of a trade union and that he would not join a trade union. That statement was published to the world, yet the right honorable gentleman works himself up into n passion about trade union principles. I do not know what sort of trade union principles can be possessed by the leader of a party the president of which will not join the union that he is eligible to join. To return to the subject of th.s debate, the gravamen of our charge is that. “< the Australian Railways Union in Victoria, which is a kev industrial union, members of the Labour party which i? nin by the right honorable member for Barton have joined with members of the Communist party in running a joint ticket for the elections for officers of that union which will be held in July; and that one of the persons on that joint ticket is Mr. J. J. Brown, the former secretary of the union, and one of the most prominent Communists in Australia. The proof of what I say is contained in a statement which was submitted to the Victorian office of the Australian Railways Union by Mr. J. J. Brown on behalf, and with the approval, of members of the Labour party led by the right honorable member for Barton, including an executive member of that party. Here is the statement that was submitted by Mr. Brown with the declared approval of the members of the Australian ‘ Labour party, so-called, in Victoria, including the executive member of the Labour party in Victoria, which the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) supports. There it is, submitted by Mr. Brown. This is the language -
I emphasize the “ We “ - that is, we members of the Australian Labour party, and we members of the Communist party, ask you to vote for our candidates. We make that plea in order that people will vote for the united ticket candidates. In other words, “ We members of the Labour party, and we members of the Communist party, should work shoulder to shoulder in a common bond. If that is not a united front, I have never heard of one. The statement reads -
We, the undersigned candidates for the positions of Chief Executive Officers of the Victorian Branch of the A.R.U., State Branch Organizers and Delegates to the Australian Council of the A.R.U., appeal to every thinking member nf the A.R.U. to join with us in cleaning out of our Union these same Industrial Groupers who have shattered the unity and strength of our A.R.U. in Victoria and brought the Union to its present sorry state.
– Hear, hear!
– T am glad that the honorable member for Watson is at least honest enough to state openly where he” stand*. He stands with “Jackie” Brown on this united ticket. I am glad to h””? admission.
The simple fact is that this ticket was jointly submitted with the approval of the members of the Labour party, by Mr. Delmenico, an executive member of the Labour party, and Mr. J. J. Brown and quite a number of people who make no bones about the fact that they are Communists - Communists not only in my opinion, but avowed and unashamed Communists. They put it forward to railway men as the joint views of the Labour party and the Communist party. The right honorable member for Barton says that Mr. Stout has never heard of the matter, and that he himself has never heard of the matter. The truth is that the facts of this ticket were published in the press over a fortnight ago. Not only was the story published in the press, but also demands were made by the secretary of the party to which I belong, to know where the right honorable member for Barton stood, where Mr. Cain stood, and where Mr. Stout stood in relation to the claims of the executive members of their party in their support for Mr. J. J. Brown’s election as the assistant secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union. Since those demands were made, meetings have been held by the Victorian executive of the party led by the right honorable member for Barton at which this matter could have been discussed. If they wanted to repudiate the ticket, and if they wanted to say that they did not urge the members of the Australian Railways Union to vote to elect Brown as the assistant secretary, they had an opportunity to do so. What did they do? They did absolutely nothing except issue a. statement that this was a matter for rank-and-file members of the union, and as far as they were concerned, if they wanted to vote for u Jackie “ Brown, if Delmenico wanted to urge them, as members of the party led by the right honorable member for Barton, to vote for “ Jackie “ Brown as the next assistant secretary, they were quite free to do so in accordance with the principles of the Labour party as it existed prior to the wreck of the party caused by the right honorable member for Barton.
The resolution which required the Australian Labour party to expel anybody who stood on a joint ticket with the Communist party was moved in 1.937 before the right honorable member for Barton ever thought that the name Santamaria would be handy to stir up sectarian strife. The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable membe for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) moved the motion which declared that in no circumstance should any member of the Australian Labour party stand on a joint ticket with members of the Communis party in union elections. Now there if the changed policy in the Australian Labour party because of the decisions of the Hobart conference, which were praised so vociferously by the Communist press. Why members of the party led by the right honorable member for Barton will not say openly where they stand sithat the people may know the true position, I do not know. They have wriggled and turned in every direction. Not only in the Australian Railways Union, but also in the Waterside Workers Federation, a joint unity ticket is being run in the name of the Australian Labour party. The traditions of that party are being appealed to by members of the party in an attempt to gain votes for Communis candidates. That is not a matter of argument. It is a matter of simple fae
– It is a matter for shame.
– I agree with the right honorable gentleman. Here are the facts Here are the simple statements that have appeared in the Australian Railways Union’s Gazette on behalf of Mr. Brown, who is standing on this particular unit; ticket. The right honorable member foi Barton has stated that he does not want to see the Communists in trade union positions. The elections for the Australian Railways Union will not tak*place until July. I put it to the right honorable gentleman that he and members of his executive in Victoria still have an opportunity to say where they stand ii> relation to this unity ticket.
– How many more time? will the right honorable gentleman sa? that?
– I know that the honorable member for Hume supports th»Communists
– That is an absolute lie.
– Order ! The honorable member for Hume will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, and I “ay-
– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw the remark without qualification.
– I do so, but the remark oy the honorable member for Yarra was absolutely untrue.
– The honorable member for Hume is-
– Mr. Speaker, as the honorable member’s remark was offensive “o me, I ask for a withdrawal and an apology.
– I am not sure of vh at the honorable member for Yarra <aid, but I do know what the honorable member for Hume said. What is the remark of which he complains?
– The honorable member is silent. However, he will have ample opportunity during the next few weeks to ay exactly where he stands in relation to the election of officers of the Victorian branch of the Australian Railways Union and in all other union elections where a joint unity ticket is being run. If he is she stout opponent of communism that he claims to be, he will have his opportunity of ripping up this unity ticket and of repudiating the actions of the Victorian executive of the party of the fight honorable member for Barton, and of telling the railway workers of Victoria that they ought to vote for the Australian Labour party industrial group candidates who are opposing Mr. Brown and other Communists on that ticket. That opportunity will be presented not only to the honorable member for Hume, but also to every honorable member who tits behind the right honorable member for Barton. Every single member on the official Opposition benches will have the opportunity to do so. If they contend that all we are saying in relation to the united front is false, let them repudiate the united front. Let them urge support for the candidates of the industrial groups who are being opposed by Communists in the present elections. *[Extension of time granted.”] I thank the House for the extension of time. I hope that the members of the party led by the right honorable member for Barton will accept the invitation that I have extended to them to say exactly where they stand. During the last few months, the honorable member for Melbourne has repeatedly declared where he stands in relation to communism. I do not suppose that anybody in this House would suggest for a moment that the honorable member for Melbourne has any thoughts about communism except a detestation of it. But the very fact that he is known as an opponent of communism, and that his record in the ‘past as an antiCommunist is well known, is to-day a source of strength to those who are campaigning for a united ticket for the return of Communists at union elections, because Brown now goes into the railway workshops and the factories and is able to say. “My candidacy for the position of assistant secretary of the Australian Railways Union is supported by the right honorable member for Barton, by the honorable member for Melbourne, and by every single member who sits behind them in this House “. I put the onus on them as men who hate and detest communism and have opposed communism over the years, to state where they stand in this matter. How much longer will they permit the great traditions of the Australian Labour party to be used for the glorification of communism and the re-installation of Communist officials in charge of trade unions? How much longer will they allow their good names to be used, as they are being used, as a badge of respectability for Communist candidates and united front candidates? For how much longer is that to continue? Let me assure them that it does not matter how much they protest about their opposition to communism. Unless the people of Australia see some results, and unless they see some practical standing up by these people to the attempts by Communists to regain control of trade unions, they will treat those protestations as only so much hypocrisy.
Just a final word in relation to the smears of the right honorable member for Barton on the Australian Labour party industrial groups. I have here the submission that was made by him to the federal executive of the Australian Labour party during the course of the hearing of the charges that he made against the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) and myself. There is not a single word in the whole of that submission in relation to the industrial groups. This man, who now comes into the House-
– Order !
– This right honorable gentleman, who now comes into the House and tells you, Mr. Speaker, that the industrial groups were being used for some evil sectarian purpose and all the rest of it, when he appeared for weeks before the federal executive of the Australian Labour party and when he had every opportunity in the world to produce some evidence to support his allegations, did not say one word about the industrial groups. In the statements submitted to the federal executive by the right honorable gentleman - statements that were the basis of his charges, upon which the federal executive acted against the Australian Labour party industrial groups - not one word was uttered in relation to the industrial groups. Not a single charge was made of the slightest infringement by them of any Labour principle or any union principle. There was not a single word about them.
So are we not entitled to ask how, out of a conference which was considering charges made by the right honorable member for Barton against the honorable member for Fawkner and other people, suddenly, without any allegation, without any accusation, or without any proof of any sort having been produced, the decision came to smash the only effective force that was working against communism in the trade unions. Are not we entitled to ask : What was the basis of that decision, and where was that decision made? We know where the decision was made. The decision was made by the right honorable member for Barton and his supporters, in conjunction with those members nf the Communist party who for years bad been demanding the destruction of the Australian T abour party industrial groups. and who. knowing nf the mw that the right honorable gentleman wa= having with those members of his own party who challenged his leadership, saw the opportunity which that dispute gave to them to get a resolution through, condemning the industrial groups. To the eternal disgrace of the right honorable gentleman, he has never ceased to smear people whose only fault has been to work night and day for the Australian Labour party, to re-affiliate their unions with the Australian Labour party, and to fight for democracy in Australia.
– Order ! The honorable member’s extension of time has expired.
– This is the most fantastic proposition that has ever been put to the House while I have been a member of it. When an honorable member gets up in this Parliament and seriously suggest* that there is an alliance between the Labour party and the Communist party, that is indeed one of the most fantastic suggestions that could be made anywhere. Everybody knows that there never could be an alliance between the Labour party and the Communist party. The Communist party absolutely detests Labour, for the simple reason that it fears Labour. It knows that only Labour stands between it and the leadership of the workingclass movement. It knows that only Labour is able to put forward a policy that is acceptable to the working-class movement, in contradistinction to the Liberal-fascist policy which is advocated by the corner group. Therefore, there is every reason why the Communist party would never be prepared to enter into an alliance with the Australian Labour party.
The so-called unity ticket about which the .honorable member for Yu mi (Mr. Keon) spoke, has got nothing whatever to do with the Labour party. The La hour party does not believe in parry political interference with the internal n flairs of trade unions. We say that those are matters for the rank-and-file mem hers of the trade unions to attend to. We believe that they ought to attend to them. For so long as we are the Australian Labour party, we shall make every effort that we are capable of making towards that end.
There is an alliance between the Liberal party and the industrial groups, as was so adequately demonstrated here to-day. All people who are alive to the present political situation in Australia know of the close alliance and the closely knit link between Mr. Santamaria and the Liberal party in this country. They know that it was that closely knit link between Mr. Santamaria and the industrial groups, which dominated the BarryColeman group in the Victorian Parliament, that led to the defeat of the Cain Labour Government in Victoria and deprived the workers of that State of the best Labour Government that Victoria had ever had. They know also that the Santamaria-Liberal alliance is aimed at fastening on to the Australian people an anti-Labour, anti-Australian doctrine of fascism based on Mussolini’s theory of the absolutes. They know very well that the policy of these people, the industrial groupers, completely supported by the Liberals in this Parliament and elsewhere, is’ aimed at the formation of tame-cat unions, with bosses’ stooges as officials, so that the bosses who are now operating in the fields of industry in which the industrial group unions have any say will be able to do exactly as they like with the rates of pay and conditions of work of the members of those unions.
If we want any evidence of the alliance that exists between the Liberal party and the Santamaria group that sits in the corner, let us have a look at the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, which was put forward by this Liberal Government, and the subsequent referendum. When the results of the referendum were announced, the Melbourne Age of the 29th September, 1951, reported the honorable member for Yarra as having lamented the fact that Labour’s policy in relation to that important matter had succeeded. He said that the Government and the- Liberal party should be swabbed, because they were obviously running dead.
The defeat of the Chifley Government in 1949 was a result of the obvious alliance between the Liberal party and the group which sits in the corner at present The defeat of John Cain in Victoria was also the work of the obvious alliance between those two groups. In almost every electorate in Victoria, Liberal preferences went wholeheartedly to the Barry-Coleman candidate, proving conclusively that there is a close alliancebetween the Liberal party and the BarryColeman group, which is represented in this Parliament by the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Ballarat. (Mr. Joshua).
We know that an announcement was made in the daily press that the Liberals intended to form industrial groups of their own in order to get control of the workshops. They decided to refer the decision to the executive of the Liberal party, but the executive decided that the Liberals should not form their own industrial groups, because the work being carried on by the Australian Labour party industrial groups, then dominated by the McManus-Keon machine, were doing the job far better than the Liberals could do it themselves. So the Liberals decided not to form their own Liberal party industrial groups, but to allow the work to be carried on by the Australian Labour party industrial groups, as they were then supposed to be.
It has been said that in the last Vietorian election, the Labour party urged its supporters to give their preferences to the Liberals. It is true that in some cases the Labour party did that, but it was because the- Labour party in Victoria preferred a Liberal with a Liberal label to a Liberal with a Labour label. As a result of the treachery of the BarryColeman group in the Victorian Parlia-ment, and the close alliance between the Liberal party and the Santamaria clique in Victoria, under which Liberal preferences went to the Barry-Coleman group and vice versa, the workers of Vic-‘ toria are now governed by a Liberal government which is pledged to destroy and smash the conditions of the workers in .that State. If ever- there was a time when the. Australian Pail ways “Union ought to be taken out of the hands of the people- who helped’ to destroy the Cain Labour Government, that time is now.
With a Liberal government in control in Victoria, it never was more important for the railway workers of Victoria to throw overboard the people responsible for destroying the Cain Government and forcing them to work under conditions dictated by the Liberal Government which those people were responsible for putting into power in place of the Cain Government. I say that the sooner Jim Neill, who is undoubtedly a bosses’ stooge and who is undoubtedly a man who will be prepared to sell out the conditions of the railwaymen in Victoria, is placed under the control of a Labour party controlled executive instead of the grouper-controlled executive which now controls the Australian Railways Union in Victoria, the better it will be for the workers. I make the prophecy that if the workers in Victoria fail, at the Australian Railways Union elections which are now proceeding, to get rid of the grouper-controlled executive, they will find that the conditions which they now enjoy and which they built up will go by the board before the next election comes round. These people talk about smearing! Is it not true that, through their official organ, News Weekly. they have smeared almost every decent Labour man that this country has ever seen? News Weekly repeatedly smeared the name of Ben Chifley, Senator McKenna, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), Albert Monk, and Tom Dougherty of the Australian Workers Union.
– Order ! The honorable member should use the title “Mr.”.
– Would any one suggest seriously that any of the gentlemen whose names I have mentioned were Communists or Communist sympathizers? Of course they were not, yet these people were so audacious and irresponsible as to brand them as such. On the other hand, if we liked to use their smear tactics we would have the unusual spectacle of their fighting against atheistic communism and, in the process, supporting agnostics and atheists like Mr. Ross and Mr. L. Short. If we had time we could examine the marvellous history of Diver Dobson, and Mr. H. Clark, whom the groupers put in control as secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. This was the gentleman who got hie money mixed up with that of the federa-tion.
The smearing as a Communist of every one who appears on a union ticket is typical of the tactics that these people have employed for a long time. On more than one occasion New Weekly has had to apologize for similar actions. In 1951. it apologized for having described Mr. Frank Nielson as the “ Communis organizer of the Clothing Trades Union in South Australia “. It was compelled to settle the matter out of court by the payment of some ?200 or ?300 in damages. When the Shop Assistants Union was conducting its election this paper smeared the existing officers of the union as Communists. On the 15th July, 1953, it was compelled again to apologize for having branded as Communists men who were members of the Labour party. These people talk about court-controlled ballots, yet, with the exception of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua), they all voted against the Government’s legislation to introduce those ballots. That can be seen by reference to page 681 of Hansard of the 16th March, 1951.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to -
That the business of the day be called on
– I present the second report of the Printing Committee.
Report read, and - by leave - adopted.
SUPPLY. (“Grievance Day.”)
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - As it is now past the time which is provided for “Grievance Day”, order of the day No. 1 will not be called on this afternoon. The Committee of Supply will be set down for a later hour this day.
Debate resumed from the 2nd June (vide page 1358), on motion by Mr. Keon -
That the House take the report into consideration forthwith.
– When this report was first before the House I moved that it be taken into consideration so that Parliament might have an opportunity to discuss what I think is a matter of great importance, not only because of the issue that is raised between the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. W. M. Bourke) and myself, but also because it raises a matter of general principle that is of considerable significance for this Parliament. I suggest that in view of the necessity for an adequate debate on this report, and the fact that other reports are also to be submitted to the House, the debate be adjourned to a later date, and I be given an opportunity to continue my remarks then.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 1st June (vide page 1290), on motion by Sir Eric Harrison -
That the following paper be printed: -
St. Mary’s Ammunition Filling Factory - Ministerial Statement, 1st June,1955
.- This statement, which the Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison) has put before the House, makes two things abundantly clear. The first - and I say this very definitely - is that the Minister does not know what is going on in his own department. The second is that the Government deserves the severest censure for having made no progress in defence preparedness. The first point that I would like to make is that the statement says that in due course applications will be made for the purpose of the submission of tenders. I point out that this statement was made on the 1st June. The Minister said that in due course tenders would be invited, whereas in fact they were invited some fifteen days prior to the making of this statement to the House. It is therefore abundantly clear that the statement which the Minister had proposed to submit to the Parliament was lying somewhere for over fifteen days. This is an instance in which he has not taken the people, or members of this House, into his confidence. On the 1st June he made the statement that in due course tenders would be called, whereas they had been called on the 18th May, fifteen days previously. It is very clear that the Minister simply does not know what is going on. It is also very clear that whoever produced the statement for him had not advised him of the progress which was being made on this project. It is a serious matter that a senior Minister, who is in charge of defence production, should not know what is going on in his own department. According to the statement, the whole undertaking is based on the necessity for speed. A new form of contract and all sorts of new courses have to be adopted because of this great necessity for speed. This is another instance of the Government crying “ Wolf ! “ I remind the House that a few years ago we were told that we had to be prepared for war in two years. That statement was made after the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) had come back from a world tour. He said that the nation must prepare for war in two years.
– In three years.
– I am sorry - in three years. His understudy, the Minister for Defence Production, then said, “Three years? That is not correct. It will be two years. We must be prepared “. That was in 1951. Three years from 1951 would take us to 1954. Yet, in 1955, the Minister says quite clearly that there is a serious deficiency in ammunition filling factories - not a deficiency, but a serious deficiency. Yet this is the Minister who said, in 1951, that his Prime Minister was wrong, that we had to expect war, not in three years, but in two years.
The Minister does not know what is coins on in his own department. He is unfit to carry out this £23,000,000 project at St. Mary’s, and he is unfit to administer his department. After being in charge of defence production for the six years from 1949 to 1955, he says that we must waive all our former policy of firm contracts. He says that we have to throw all these things aside, because there is in fact a serious shortage of ammunition filling factories. Because of that, he says, we have to adopt another form of construction.
A few weeks ago, I said, on the basis of the very limited statement which the Prime Minister had made, that this undertaking would involve a payment in the vicinity of £1,380,000 to the architects, Messrs. Stephenson and Turner. T had to base my estimate on the figures given to us; I had nothing else upon which to work. The architects did not have to compete by tender; they were simply selected. I admit that my estimate was a few pounds above the actual figure, but it was substantially correct. We now have an official statement that the architect will receive £1,250,000. That is the fee which is being paid to Messrs. Stephenson and Turner, who did not have to compete by tender but were simply selected by the Government. An architect’s basic job is to prepare plans and specifications and do the basic work of supervising the contractors. These architects will not do this. There is to be a prime contractor, not an ordinary contractor, whose basic job will be to supervise the contractors, whose basic job will be to supervise the sub-contractors. This is a system of contracts which we have never found necessary in this country. It was not necessary when we were letting the big contracts on the Snowy River hydro-electric project. The prime contractor will receive a fee of £1,000,000. Not only is the Government paying to the architects a fee of £1,250,000; it is also paying the prime contractor a fee in the vicinity of £1,000,000- it might be £1,000 either way. I do not know when we will finally get the facts from the Government, but when we do get them we shall probably find that the fee will be in the vicinity of £1,000,000. Therefore, we will pay out £2,250,000 in fees, before we get down to the contractors who will do the work.
Before consideration was given to the project the authorities called in engineers and had discussions with certain architects. It is strange that they did not call into consultation the sub-contractors who will do the work. What does the project amount to? Basically, it is an engineering project for preparation of a site, and for the provision of power and water. That is the engineer’s part, but it is only a small part of a project for an ammunition filling factory. The main part is the construction of all the different components of the building. That applies to St. Mary’s, where there will be 60 to 70 buildings, to Salisbury, in South Australia, to Lithgow, and to Orange, on a smaller scale. The construction of each of those buildings may be let to a separate contractor. Consider the manner in which we built the longrange weapons testing range at Woomera.
The Minister states that when we built other filling factories during the war, National Security Regulations were in force under which labour could be directed and materials controlled. Those conditions did not apply when we built the testing range at Woomera. We built it by engaging a private contractor and by using the Department of Works and Housing to prepare drawings and specifications. A project engineer was put on the site from the very start. He was given authority to make decisions. We called together the builders of South Australia and explained the individual projects involved. We made direct contracts with each party, who then went on with his job. The department organized each party to fit into the whole job, and each man carried out his work. If we wanted a specialist in engineering, we went to the best firm and obtained a price. If we were considering concrete work, we went to the best concrete contractors in South Australia. For steel fabrication work we went to the best steel firm in South Australia and fixed a firm price for it. If it was a matter of ordinary building, we went to an ordinary contractor and obtained a price. We were thereby able to get each individual contractor to bring hi3 team of men, knowing his own requirements and having his own channel of supplies. The contractors brought their materials and so we were able, without regulations, without direction of labour, and without acquisition of materials, to build that establishment at Woomera to a state of preparedness, when we left office, ahead of that which was set by the tight schedule drawn up by the British Government, the British chiefs of staff, and their scientific guided missiles organization. That tight schedule was brought to Australia in L947, and we agreed that we would meet its requirements. We used all forms of private contractors, each one with his own team of men, each one with his own form of supply channelling. So we were able to do the job on schedule. But that i» not satisfactory to this- Government. That is not good enough’. The organization at Woomera is now simply tidying up. That job’ is finished.
– Do not tali nonsense.
– It is simply tidying up, at Woomera, and. the project engineer would be available for this job. The man who was. in charge of the- organization in Adelaide is, in fact, at present in the department in Canberra. The key personnel that undertook the Salisbury project during the war, and- the key personnel that carried out the Woomera project in its early stages are still available to-day. But that is not satisfactory to the Government. Cabinet desires to be able to choose a firm of architects, and pay them £1,250,000. Cabinet desires also to have a prime contractor, and to give him £1,000,000. The contractors who will do the real donkey work are firms like John Grant and Kennedy and Bird. Great contractors will do the real toil
Then the Government proposes to set up scheduling committees to ensure that the prime contractor does not encounter any bottle-necks. Before the Government is finished, it will need a committee to break the bottle-necks of the committees set up to break bottle-necks. If that- is the plan on which the Minister for Defence Production, is to work, I doubt whether he will need to erect a filling factory, because he- will get enough red tape out of all these committees to enmesh’ any enemy that might come to this country. What will be the position? We have the Government itself, which is responsible for the job, the organization of the Department of Works to draw up the plans and organize it, and. the contractors in Sydney, who would be prepared to carry out each of the special jobs. As I said previously, there are plenty of engineering firms which could do the job, and plenty of con-tractors in Sydney who have all the organization that is necessary for the project. They have their own facilities for channelling their supplies of materials.; they have their organization.; and they could go in and do the job-. It is entirely unnecessary to appoint the so-called prime contractor at a fee of £1,000,000, because, at best, he will be nothing more than a- commission agent farming- out all the different jobs that have to be done. I believe the job has been lined up for one of the friends of the Government overseas. I do not know. I believe it is so, in order to give him a lead into this country. What a beautiful lead it will be- a £1,000,000 fee. He will simply be the prime contractor, and all the donkey work will be done by the ordinary contractors who are operating in Canberra, Sydney and other’ parts of Australia to-day, and who will undertake the subcontracts. They are the people who will ultimately do the job.
However, if an attempt is made to set up a big organization, from 3,000 to 4,000 men will be required on the job if they are to build it in the scheduled time. One of the contractors went down to Melbourne recently. Why the Government could’ not choose an architect in Sydney, I do not know. Apparently, Sydney was not near enough, so the Government had to pick an architect in Melbourne^ That, of course, involves added cost in travelling backwards and forwards to St. Mary’s. The administration of the big project is to be carried out’ in Melbourne. Much expense would have been saved if the architect had been located’ im Sydney. The Minister will no doubt say that it is a very efficient firm, but I remind the right honorable gentleman that this is the same firm of architects as that engaged on the Sydney Dental Hospital. It has been on that project since 1947, and- it is not finished. yet, so I do not think it is so marvellous for speed. I do not consider that it ia so outstanding that it should he selected in preference to architectural firms in New South Wales. I do not think that its record will prove any better on the filling factory than it has been on the dental hospital.
A few moments ago, I mentioned that one of the contractors went down to Melbourne for an interview in regard to this job. He said to one of the senior executives of this firm, “How on earth will you get from 3,000 to 4,000 men out to St. Mary’s for a new firm when already you have full employment in Sydney? We contractors already have our own organizations, yet you are to get another firm to endeavour to do this work ! “ This is the reply he received: “It is a cost-plus job and that will mean hig pay cheques. Where they are big pay cheques, we will get the men “. In other words, the taxpayers are to bear the cost of this cost-plus contract.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) referred to one of the jobs which I started when I was the Minister for Works and Housing in the Chifley Government. I admit that the contract for the administration building went wrong when we started on the cost-plus fixed-fee basis. We believed, when we began that the men would endeavour to finish the job as quickly as they could a.nd start another job. In that respect, that job, from point of view of cost, was a failure. Our theory did not prove correct. The Minister said it should be a monument to a cost-plus fixed-fee job. I agree with him. That job did go wrong. But the fact remains that another Minister in the same Cabinet is to perpetuate this system in the construction of a new munitions establishment. This may be regarded as a serious deficiency. The Government intends to make it a cost-plus job, and is to appoint, or has appointed, an architect in Melbourne to do the work. That will not make for expedition in completing the job. There are plenty of other architect firms in New South Wales. This procedure is wrong. The Government should not depart from the system of a firm price tender. Various parts of a filling factory such as engineering ser- vices, electrical services, water supplies and the like can be carried out by individual contractors. I realize that the position is different with the fitting of machines. However, by using all the resources of local contractors in Sydney who have their own teams and their own channels of supply, the Government could get the work done with greater expedition than it will by appointing a committee to channel supplies. My proposal, if adopted, would save the taxpayers many thousands of pounds.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I cannot allow this proposal for the expenditure of £21,000,000 to pass without saying a few words in general upon it. I consider £21,000,000 to be an enormous amount to expend upon the construction of one filling factory. I do not think it is advisable to erect a filling factory on such a scale in one place. The statement of the Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison) that some means of obtaining the dispersal of the project had been considered is not, in my opinion, a fair one. We could, with much greater security to Australia, spend the same amount of money on the construction of three filling factories. I believe it is possible to build a factory for £6.000,000 or £7,000,000, which would cover the complete range of machinery and plant.
– That is a guess.
– I admit it is a guess, but when the Government proposes to pay £1,250,000 to an architect to consider the matter thoroughly, I feel that I am not in a strong position to make a really accurate assessment. I make a general assessment when I say that a filling factory built at a cost of £7,000,000 would be a substantial establishment of great use to the community. Three such factories dispersed throughout New South Wales, and it is apparently necessary tolocate the filling facilities in that State, would be very much better from a security stand-point than one factory. They could be placed on different lines- of communication. The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) will appreciate the importance of that matter. £n time of trouble, our forces must be dispersed widely throughout Australia, and they will need filling factories close to the places at which they are stationed in order to provide them with ammunition. It would be easier, in time of war, to expand three factories than to expand one. i assume that the Government considers that the £23,000,000 factory will be one complete unit, and that it is designed 07i a scale that will permit the most efficient filling of ammunition. Everyone knows that, up to a certain point, the greater the scale of any form of industrial production, as a rule the greater is the efficiency achieved. I assume that that point has not been overlooked by the Government. I appreciate the fact that three smaller factories might reduce efficiency, increase the total expenditure, and cause other difficulties chat one tries to avoid in these projects. The matter must be carefully considered from the point of view of security. But E suggest that the Government is rushing in with this huge expenditure on the one project when it would do very much better by waiting until it had given the matter further consideration.
The general observations that I have already made are sound, and I should like to hear the Government’s answer to them. I join with the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) in criticizing the large fees to be paid to the architects, who are not particularly well known as first-rate architects in this line of business. They are general architects and are not experts in the designing of defence factories. It seems most unusual to give to such a firm a contract on which the fees will amount to £1,-250,000. I have great faith in the Department of Works, and especially in its planning staff. I do not know why the department’s architects could not have designed the new factorv. I am certain that they would do as efficient a job. and perhaps a better job, because they have had experience, of many large projects. 1 content myself with those observations. They are important, and I could not let the opportunity pass without making them.
Mr. DRUMMOND (New England; [3.58]. - There are certain aspects of this matter that should be canvassed by the Parliament and given the most careful consideration. Whether or not the arrangements for the St. Mary’s factory have gone so far that it is not possible to alter them, we must give the most serious consideration to a trend of policy governing not only defence, but also national development generally, because we are in the early stages of industrial development in this country. From the point of view of the overall global strategy in the light of which a matter such as this must be considered, I suppose it may be said that, from the point of view of the British Commonwealth of Nations, the decentralization of the manufacture of the materiel of war and of the necessaries of life essential to the survival of civilian populations, has been considered. For example, if coal is taken to Whyalla, in South Australia, where iron-ore is obtained, to treat the ore on the spot instead of shipping it to Newcastle, a degree of decentralization of the manufacture of essential defence materials is obtained. The establishment, in various parts of the British Commonwealth, of factories for the production of defence materials is clearly, from the point of view of global strategy, a decentralization of defence production. That aspect of the matter must not be disregarded.
Let us compare the geographical position of Australia, which has 3,000,000 square miles of territory, with that of Great Britain, which has 100,000 square miles of territory. Great Britain is separated from the continent of Europe only by a narrow channel of water, and a relatively small land mass lies between it and its present potential enemy, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Australia is separated from Russia by a vast land mass. Australia’s resources are, relatively, much more widely distributed than are the great engineering and defence establishments of the Mother Country, and consequently they are less vulnerable to attack and are much easier to defend. No doubt that matter has been considered in the planning of the defence of the British Commonwealth. For many reasons, I consider that the tight little island that we call Great Britain has at its disposal special means of defence which, for obvious reasons, are not available to Australia. Those means probably can be much more effective than the authorities would care to disclose. We are obliged to consider Australia’s defence problems, not only from the point of view of global strategy, but also in the light of our own isolation, at any given point of time in the struggle for human existence and for our own national existence in particular. In defence matters, we are not playing draughts or chess. The only analogy is that, in b.oth instances, one must plan his moves ahead. We are not considering something that applies to the milder and softer conditions of a normal existence in this world. We are considering factors which, in themselves, have dreadful possibilities for both ourselves and the rest of the human race.
One of the most difficult things for us to do is to condition ourselves to a switch from the normal healthy activities of human life to a struggle for existence.. No surer proof of that fact can be found than the experience of Norway, which, before World War II., had enjoyed peace for 150 years. The people pf Norway, could not believe that the things that they experienced during the war could happen. The great majority of Australians, no matter what they may say about it. cannot believe that those, things can happen here. I take the realistic view that, we. must deal with defence problems not. only from the, point of view of our participation in glob.al defence, but also, in the light of what might happen in Australia. Although, in the light of the global strategy, our position is decentralized, from the Australian point of view it is most perilous. Within an area of 240 square miles, 1,500,000 or more of Australia’s people live adjacent to the shores of Port Jackson, and concentrated in that area is. the major part of the. manufacturing capacity pf this country. Within an area pf approximately 2,000 square miles lie the steel centre of Wollongong and Port Kembla, and th,e huge industrial centres of Sydney and Newcastle. Because they are right on the seashore they are particularly vulnerable to attack from the ocean, as well as from the air. It is quite true that apart from Perth, the State capitals are a little better situated, although not much when we consider the speed and range of modern aircraft and the difficulties of defence against surprise attack. It seems to me that one of the things we have to face up to, whether or not the concentration of such an enterprise as this in such an area can be justified, is the necessity to plan for the future and to decentralize such activities in a manner applicable to Australian conditions. When new enterprises are built it is necessary to provide transport, light, power and water services, and all the accessories of living, such, as homes for the workers in those enterprises. But we have to provide those things in any case. After all, we are building homes every day. In 1936, I saw a city of 40,000 people which had been built by the London County Council under a housing scheme. The site was reserved, the plans were drawn up, and abrand new city for 40,000 people - 30,000 workers in the particular industries concerned, and 10,000 people to provide tertiary services for them - came into being in a short time.
We have to apply imagination to this particular problem. The Government has decided, under its defence powers that, for the sake of our defence and mass produce tion for defence purposes, it is necessary to have this enterprise operating aa a unit located in one area. I am not prepared to agree with the honorable member who. has scoffed at the amount to be paid for this project. As far as I can. s.ee, on the face of it, I have nothing to cavil at on that score. Although, however, I am prepared, in this case, much against my grain, to agree with the Government’s proposal, I am not prepared to agree that tb.i.s approach should become a permanent policy. I believe that the very means of pur continued existence as a nation might ultimately depend on having such projects sited away from the coast and from areas adjacent to it, out over the ranges in places, tha.t would be difficult for enemy aircraft to reach without detection and intervention by our own air defences, including radar detection and interception. It is quite true that to-day there are long-range and speedy aircraft which can carry tremendously destructive atomic and hydrogen bombs; but it is equally true that natural features and natural distribution can be used to increase materially our chances of survival, by helping us to combat those particular weapons. We are learning more and more about these things every day.
One of the first things that a student of self-defence learns is that for every blow there is a counter, and, to defend oneself effectively, one must find the counter before the opponent’s blow reaches its target. That applies also to th.e defence of a. country. Therefore, I have risen to protest against any continuance of a policy which could be forced upon us by failure to face up to certain initial considerations early enough in the immediate, and perhaps not so. immediate, past. I urge the adoption of a new kind of thinking in relation to this matter. We should learn from the tremendous loss of life and the tremendous damage to property that occurred in London during the last war, as well as in cities in enemy countries, the lesson that we must plan to decentralize great industrial projects, and keep them well away from thickly populated, areas, not only so that the lives of people may be spared when such, pro:jects are attacked from the n,ir, and so that they will have a chance of survival, but also to avoid the congestion in industrial areas which is the basis of the long sad story of degradation and destitution in, many parts of industrialized countries. These factors are found, at least in embryo, in most communities, although some communities have been able to deal with them effectively, and thus prevent social’ wastage. So. having made my protest, not in regard to the single instance that we are discussing, but in regard to the failure of the nation,, through all its leaders, to face up to the necessity for the decentralization of population. I leave the matter at that. ‘ But T ska.ll nott be content to be silent in future, or- ito refrain, from taking- such action as I think fit, if there is not a modification of present policy along the lines that are necessary.
.- As a former Minister for Munitions who had responsibility for this kind of project during the war period, and also as a member of the War Cabinet, I think that 1 would be recreant to my duty if I did not offer some observations on the Government’s proposal to expend £23,000,000 for a new explosives filling factory ai St. Mary’s. I agree with the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) that it is fantastic that private individuals should receive such a large part of that proposed expenditure of £23,000,000 as fees for architectural designing, and that the constructing firm should receive as much as it is to receive for doing the job. Surely we ought to have some further examination of such a matter before we are committed to the expenditure of such a tremendous amount of money. It seems to me that no adequate explanation of the project has been given to the House, and that the Government has not learned much from the experiences of the last war. It does not seem to have given full consideration to the likely results of such a concentration of industry and population that might arise in another war. I know that, during- the last war, it was a matter of great concern to the people who were responsible for this nation’s defence, that most of our principal defence undertakings were concentrated within a few miles of each other, close to, or on, the coast, and involved the concentration in small areas of great- aggregations of population. That was one of the weaknesses of our defence system, because if an enemy ha,d. attacked the steel works at either Port Kembla or Newcastle, as was quite possible, because raids could have been nia.de on our coastline, practically the whole of’ our munitions projects would have been endangered. That was altogether too serious a situation in which to place this country. In the past, these industries ha.ve been so concentrated as to become a special target for any enemy that might seek to visit its depredations upon, us by raining bombs on those industries.
It seems to me that the decision to place [his undertaking in the situation proposed has been ill-considered. I am amazed at the fact that the Government should decide to establish such a large project in an area on the eastern side of the Blue Mountains. I should have thought that greater protection would have been afforded by placing the undertaking further inland. The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) laughs at that suggestion, but there is much more merit in it than he is able to comprehend. [ discovered, when I became Minister for Munitions, that some of the decisions that he made, as my predecessor in that portfolio, brought added danger to Australia. There had been concentrations of government projects of the kind that were responsible for servicing our fighting forces. As a result of my experience as a Minister, I, together with my technical advisers, recognized the wisdom of dispersing such factories, and of making them smaller. We secured much more effective work, and a better result all round, by distributing as widely as we could the work that had to be undertaken. The dispersal of such undertakings helps to establish communities in other than metropolitan areas, and affords greater protection to the industry concerned and the country generally.
To expend ?23,000,000 is to expend a tremendous sum of money. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), who has just resumed his seat, indicated that he was not happy about certain aspects of the proposal, and that there was sufficient reason for a different approach to the matter. Surely no work of a more permanent character could be undertaken, and surely there could be nothing more permanent than the expenditure of ?23.000,000 upon a project of this kind. Now is the time to act, and to ensure that the proposed erection of this plant conforms to right standards and to a proper appreciation of what is required in such circumstances. That being so, let me say that I am not satisfied with the Government’s proposal, first, to distribute to a private organization, although certain services will be rendered, what can almost be regarded as too generous a gift. The reward to those. concerned will be much greater than the service that is likely to ot rendered. It does not seem that the Government is conserving public funds when it is prepared to make such a generous payment, even though the organization to whom it is paid may have a supervisory responsibility. It is too great a sum to pay for the services thai will be rendered.
I know that defence projects are exempt from review by parliamentary committees, but I feel that, with a project of this kind, which involves the expenditure of great sums of public money, there should be a committee of the Parliament capable of examining the effect of the Government’s policy and decision. I feel that the Parliament has not been fully appraised of all of the information available, of the circumstances surrounding the proposal, and of the policy that is being followed by the Government. Surely we have a right to more information, and surely the Government should be given the opportunity to recognize that another form of approach to such matters is essential. If there are Commonwealth works departments, and if there are technical men in munitions establishments and in administrative positions who are capable of understanding all that is required in the development of such projects, the services and the special knowledge of those persons should be made available before we dispense extremely generous sums of money for services that those officers or organizations may render with equal advantage.
The House should require of the Minister for Defence Production (Sir Eric Harrison) a greater amount of evidence in justification of the proposal that is now before the House. The proposed expenditure is very large, and for that reason we should have that information. Furthermore, we should know more about the Government’s general policy in relation to the placing of munitions establishments. They should be established in areas in which they would be less vulnerable to enemy attack than will be this munitions factory in the area proposed.
– I had not proposed to speak at this time until the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin) began to make some inferences which I am sure he would not have made had it not been for the fact that his peregrinations around the world have probably caused a lapse in his memory, tie suggested, amongst other things, that when he came into office as a Minister he started the dispersal of factories in country areas. He should know that that movement commenced long before he went into office and that he only followed the pattern that had been set by the previous government. The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) spoke with great bombast and confidence of his achievements when he was Minister for Works. Whilst he was very adept at producing blueprints, the projects never got past the blueprint stage. The simple fact is that whatever progress has been made in connexion with most of the projects that were initiated during his period of office has been made since 1949 under the administration of the Menzies Government.
Certain criticism has been made of the proposal to construct a filling plant at St. Mary’s. The Government regrets the necessity to erect this filling plant because, before the Australian Labour party came into office in 194.1, the previous government had practically completed two rilling plants which were adequate for the purposes for which they were designed. Immediately after the war, these -bright-eyed idealists immediately began to disperse those very valuable assets. I admit that it is easy to be wise after the event, but the fact is the Labour Government was mistaken in its judgment. I can assure the country that, before the St. Mary’s project was decided upon, very full and careful consideration was given to it, not only by the Government, but also by technical experts in the. construction of filling plants. Techniques that had been adopted in other countries to provide such plants were examined. As a result of very extensive investigations and advice received from other countries, the present proposals were adopted. I suggest that the. Government has been very wise in adopting the form of contract upon which it ha3 decided for the execution of this job and in its engagement of the architects. There has been a very sad history of delay in connexion with the construction of projects of this kind. It is a matter of some urgency that, having decided upon the erection of this plant,- we should get on with the job.
During recent years, almost a revolution has occurred in building construction in Australia. That was brought about because the Government brought to this country equipment and people with the necessary experience to carry out large projects at their estimated cost. Although the honorable member for St. George has left the west for various reasons but mainly because the people rejected him, if he were interested in the areas from which he came, he would realize that one manifestation of the revolutionary changes that have occurred is the oil refinery that has been erected at Kwinana. That refinery was constructed by people who had had previous experience in that type of work and who had the equipment necessary to do it. The Government does not intend to turn the hands of the clock back and engage in forms of contracting and tendering which prevailed during the period of office of the honorable member for St. George.
Criticism has been levelled at the concentration of industry that is taking place at St. Mary’s. I agree that, for many reasons, social and economic, it is desirable to disperse our industries as much as possible, but we should not become the victims of our own slogans. Filling plants do not operate satisfactorily without a full flow of materials. The honorable member for Sturt spoke about the concentration of steel-works at Newcastle. It is perfectly obvious that the coal mines of Newcastle cannot be dispersed and that any action to stop the supply of coal would automatically prevent the steel-works and allied industries from functioning. Another “ point of view which has been accepted, perhaps inevitably, is that, in some circumstances, the more industries are dispersed the greater is the effort that is required in their defence. It is very much easier, even in the air, to protect a confined area than it is to protect thousands of square miles, lt is not possible to deploy defence forces to various parts of the country and use them as effectively as they can be used in a concentrated area.
– Industries could he established underground.
– They would then be very concentrated. There would be no dispersion. I understand that certain criticism has been levelled for purely political purposes, but I do not want the idea to go abroad that the Government’s actions are endangering the future of this country, because the Government’s policy is in complete accordance with action that has been taken in all democratic countries. It is designed to provide - and I think that it will provide - the defence needs of this country. Consequently, I can assure the House and the people that this project was not lightly undertaken by the Government. It was only decided upon after very full consultation, as I have said, with those people who had knowledge to contribute. Only after a very full survey of our needs and of all the possibilities was this project accepted. I believe that the proposed plant will be one of the most outstanding examples of construction with speed and efficiency, and within the estimate of cost, that this country will have experienced for a very long time. I am perfectly satisfied that when the work is completed, not only honorable members, but also the people generally, will be satisfied with what the Government has done.
– This subject should be debated on the basis of what is best for the country. Supporters of the Government who have spoken during this debate seem to regard the proposed expenditure of £23,000.000 on the establishment of a new ammunition filling factory at St. Mary’s as only an ordinary event in the life of this Government. It seems to me that the Government has decided to go ahead with this project in order to get rid of some of the huge amount that has been voted for defence, which has been extracted from the people by heavy taxation. I should like to say at this stage that I was associated with the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin) in the war cabinet, and I know what was done during war-time.
– I have already stated that apparently the honorable member for Sturt has suffered from a lapse of memory.
– The Government should not object to criticism of a proposal which involves the expenditure of such a huge amount of money. I consider that the proposal should be much more closely examined than it has been so far. The Minister for Defence described the speech of the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) as bombast, but I do not think the indignation that he professed to feel was genuine. I consider that I am well qualified to express an opinion on the proposal, as there is a large ammunition-filling factory in my electorate. The Minister has not said whether the Government intends to abolish that factory after the new filling factory has been established at St. Mary’s. As the honorable member for St. George has pointed out, about £1,250,000 will be paid to the architects, and another £1,000,000 to the prime contractor. This seems to be an extension of the cost-plus principle in order to add a few more plusses for the benefit of the friends of the Government. The proposal should be thoroughly examined before a decision is made to proceed with it. It seems to me that the Government wants to get rid of the vast sum of money that this project will cost, in an effort to justify the retention of the present high rates of taxation. In view of the state of tension in the world, I consider that an expenditure of £50,000,000 on the development of the Northern Territory would result in greater benefit to this country than will the proposed new ammunition filling factory. Although I know from my own experience that the Government must seek the advice of experts in such matters, I believe that it would have been preferable to enlarge the existing ammunition-filling factories. As the honorable member for Sturt and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) have pointed out, we should favour dispersal, rather than concentration of munitions factories and the like.
The Minister said, towards the conclusion of his statement -
To the best of my knowledge, this is the pattern followed in the United Kingdom also.
On a matter of this importance, the Minister should know, and should not speak to the best of his knowledge.
I emphasize that I am endeavouring to be constructive in my consideration of this matter. I am criticizing the proposal, not merely for the sake of so doing, but because of my experience as a member of the Labour Government during the period of World War II. Before my -colleagues and I had to decide to expend large amounts of public money on certain projects, we ascertained what had been done in other countries in the relevant fields. A thorough examination was made of each project before a decision was taken to go ahead with it. I understand that that practice is followed in the United Kingdom. I consider that it is the job of a Minister to study carefully recommendations that are made to him by experts, and to form his own opinion on whether they should be implemented. [ do not object to the expenditure of money for defence purposes - since that is the policy of this Government - but I point out that the Government proposes to expend a huge amount of money on one project.
I should like the Minister to inform me of the Government’s intention with regard to the ammunition filling factory in my electorate which, I understand, is engaged on private work for manufacturers. That factory is equipped with machines and tools that were purchased during war-time, which have been maintained in good condition since the war. Visitors from overseas have stated that it is a very good factory. I understand that, even since the end of the war, additional machinery has been installed in the factory and, following Labour’s policy of full employment, more skilled men have been engaged there. But now the capacity of the factory is being used by private manufacturing firms. I understand that, after the present Government came to office, many employees of the factory were engaged on unprofitable work.
I appreciate the fact that certain new types of machinery are required oy the Government for ammunition filling purposes, but I consider that such machinery could be installed in the existing filling factories. I live within one and a half miles of the ammunition filling factory in my electorate. It covers an immense acreage. Under this proposal, a new filling factory, which will also cover an immense acreage, is to be constructed ai St. Marys, near Sydney. When, during the war, the Labour Government acquired the Lapstone Hotel for Air Force purposes, it was criticized for locating such an establishment relatively close to Sydney. Yet the Minister has stated thai better facilities for defence can be provided on a concentrated, rather than a dispersed plan. As I am not in possession of all the facts in relation to the proposal. I am unable to judge whether that contention is sound. But I am concerned that, on a project estimated to cos) £23.000,000. an amount of £1,250,000 will be expended in architects’ commission, another £1,000,000 will be paid to the prime contractor, and other large amounts will be paid to sub-contractors. The Labour Government was criticized for doing things that were unavoidable in war-time, when contractors were not available and the Government found i1 necessary to introduce the cost-plus system. It appears that the present Government intends to resort to that expedient in connexion with the project under discussion. I urge the Government to take notice of the criticism of the proposal that has been made by both the honorable member for Sturt and the honorable member for New England. I do not object to the Government expending public moneys on projects which will be of value to the nation, but I consider that in this instance the vast amount of £23,000,000, which the people have paid in taxes, could be better expended than on the construction of the proposed ammunition filling factory. I certainly hope that the Government has not decided to establish this factory solely for the purpose of expending the defence vote. As the Minister for Defence is himself a free critic, I do not think that he resents the criticism of the Opposition, which is designed to ensure that public moneys shall be expended wisely. It is the duty of the Opposition to offer constructive criticism of the Government’s proposals, f am sure the Minister will concede that this debate is far more constructive than was a debate that took place earlier this afternoon, when a lot of rubbish was spoken and the time of the Parliament employed unprofitably.. I believe that the Government could devise a better way in which to expend this vast amount of money, and I am convinced that defence projects should be dispersed rather than concentrated. I am opposed to the idea of spending £23,000,000 in this one area, but it may be that the Government has -what it considers to be good reasons for so doing. I believe that the honorable member for St. George made out a very good case, and that the Minister, when he replies, will have a great deal to answer.
.- I cannot let the paltry criticisms of this important national work by members of the Labour party go unanswered. Honorable members opposite have not seen fit to oppose the project outright, but they have indulged in carping criticism of it which may lead the people to believe that it is not a well-conceived project. A great deal of thought has been given to it, in the light of the urgent necessity for a factory of this kind. I think everybody will agree that we must have a filling factory of this capacity. It is only a part of our overall defence preparation, so an attack on the erection of this factory is an attack on our overall defence preparations.
The site has been criticized. One may regret that it is necessary to build the factory, on that site, but the Government has considered all possible alternative sites. In view of the urgent necessity for the factory, I can imagine no better site for it than St. Mary’s. It is a place that I know very well personally, but it is apparent that many of the previous speakers do not know it at all. The site is situated in an area from which we shall be able to draw the employees for the project. It is a good site from the viewpoint of the availability of materials and, what is perhaps more important, the availability of electric power, not only what I shall call ordinary power, but also the power at high voltages that no doubt will be required.
The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin) attacked what he called the fantastic fees that will be paid to the private architects who have been given the task of carrying out this work. The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) suggested that the work might well be done by the Department of Works, using its own architects. That fantastic suggestion revealed a complete lack of knowledge of the facts. It would be utterly impossible for the department to carry out a work of that nature and save any money for the Government. All the technical men employed by the department are already fully occupied on other works throughout Australia. If some of them were put on to this project, other important works would be delayed. If anybody suggests that an increase of the staff of the department would permit the department to undertake this work and save money for the Government, he is not being realistic about the matter and does not know the facts.
I understand that the architects’ fee will be 6 per cent, of the estimated cost of the work. That is the recognized fee for the preparation of plans and specifications and the supervision of construction. If it is said that the Department of Works could do the job at the same cost or at a lower cost, all I can say is that I have not seen it do so in my 30 years of experience. The architects engaged on this work have undertaken to do far more than a private architect normally undertakes to do for a fee of 6 per cent, of the total cost. I understand that in this case the architects will be required to do research. This kind of job is not undertaken very frequently in Australia, and therefore the architects will have to seek information about it in other parts of the world. The fee covers research and consultation, the preparation of plans and intricate specifications, and the supervision of the job during the course of construction. They will not have much change out of their fee, although it can be made to appear, so to speak, a real mouthful. It will run into over £1,000,000, but it is only 6 per cent, of the capital cost, and the architects will be involved in a great deal of expenditure in order to earn it. Doubtless the work will pay them, but the fee is not extravagant from the Government’s viewpoint.
The important thing is to get the job done, and to get it done quickly. There is only one way to go about it, and I commend the Government for having decided to do it in that way. If we tinkered around with the Department of Works, or became enmeshed in the red-tape to which the honorable member for St. George referred, it would be years before the job was done. I know these architects, and I know that they are efficient. They will get the job done, and the people of Australia will quickly get the benefit of the protection that the factory will afford them. Time is the important factor. I resent the paltry, carping criticism offered by the Labour party of a work of such national importance, which is being proceeded with, after full investigation, in the most efficient way possible, in the interests of the protection of the Australian people.
– in reply - I am sorry that I was not able to be present during the whole of the debate, but I think I know enough about what has transpired to be able to make some brief comments on the major points that have been raised by honorable members. The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) referred to the possibility of the work being done by the Department of Works. Let me remind him of something that probably he knows full well. It is generally known that at the moment the Department of Works has a full quiver. If we had directed the department to undertake this work, we should have imposed a great additional load upon it. Efficient as it is. it would never have been able to complete the work within the prescribed period. We have a great need for a filling factory of this size. I remind honorable members that it will produce only abou two-thirds of our requirements in wartime, so later on we shall have to build another filling factory, as well as a number of ancillary factories. The necessity for this factory has moved us to try to build it with the greatest possible speed. We believe that the method we have adopted will achieve that objective.
We know the problems associated with the work. We are aware of the delays that would be caused if we tried to get a lump-sum contract. The preparation of the plans and specifications would take a considerable time, and at least twelve months would elapse before we should be able to call for tenders on a lump-sum contract basis. Therefore, we felt thai we should, not be justified in doing that.
Reference has been made to the architects’ fees. The architects will have responsibilities in connexion with engineering process study, and the central control agency. Those commitments will reduce the actual fee to a figure considerably below the recognized fee charged by architects engaged on major works of this kind. I want to make that perfectly clear, because the full fee to which the architect is entitled at the particular point is not being asked for.
– Will the Minister tell us the prime contractor’s fee and the subcontractor’s fee?
– The honorable member, who has had some experience in these matters, knows very well that we cannot say what the builder’s fee is likely to be. Ordinarily, the tender is based on the fee that the builder would like to get from the project. To do as the honorable member suggests would be like saying to tenderers, “We expect you to tender at this figure “.
– You have already selected him.
– No one has been selected. The honorable member should know better than to say that. Open tenders will be called and action has been taken to advertise in all the papers of the capital cities. No decision will be made as to the firm that will do the work until tenders close. It has not even been thought of at the moment.
Some honorable members have mentioned the need for decentralization. The department, in establishing war-time factories, and defence factories generally, has always insisted upon complete decentralization. That has been the case during the term of this Government and the previous Government also. During the war, factories were established at Maribyrnong, Footscray, Fishermen’s Bend and elsewhere in Melbourne; at Finsbury and Salisbury in Adelaide; al Welshpool in Perth; at Derwent Park in Hobart at Rocklea in Brisbane. We did not stop there. We built the factories, in great numbers, in provincial cities and country towns. I have in mind such places as Kalgoorlie, Rutherford, Goulburn, Wagga, Albury, Broken Hill, Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Murray Bridge-, Tamworth and Mildura. Those factories were established in pursuance of a policy of decentralization.
It has been suggested that the proposed factory should not be established at St. Mary’s, because the City of Sydney might be endangered. The experience ‘ during the last war, in other countries, made it perfectly clear that filling factories were not regarded as a first priority target. Nowhere was great damage done to them. The greatest damage was done to the transport system, which was a highly important problem. We did not suffer very much damage from bombing in this country, but honorable members who know something of the last war, and especially those who were in the Air Force, know that in the main the targets were then the transport services. Our own transport problem arose not from, bomb damage, but from congestion such as occurred when we had to move perhaps 186,000 TOns of steel per annum. St. Mary’s has “a transport system and all the- facilities that a filling factory demands. It is adjacent to the centres where at least two-thirds of the components will be manufactured - Port Kembla and Newcastle. It seems to me to be quite the right position for a factory that is not an explosive factory in any sense of the word and, therefore, is not a No. 1 target. It is a factory for the filling of empty components. Transport is the most important factor when it is necessary to move these components into an area for filling, to move them to. th* services for checking and lining, and then> to move the. finished product to its destination. The Government could not afford? to establish such a factory where therewere any but. the best possible transport: facilities.
Honorable members have asked, “ Why not split it up into three or four fae tories ? “ The proposed factory will not be large, compared with filling factoriesin such countries as England and America. If it were split into four,, the capital cost would be four times greater and we should have four major transport problems to solve. Moreover, it would’ be necessary to quadruple such services ae power, heat, lighting, sewerage, water and so on. Therefore, one cannot split such a factory into four parts. Nor can one section be separated from another, because all are interdependent. One might, of course, set up four small filling factories, but this would be completely inefficient and would cost four times, as much.
I have given a long list of factories that were established in major country towns, and in capital cities, from Queensland to Tasmania. I have mentioned such country centres as Wagga and Albury. Once again, it will be necessary to set up ancillary factories. The Government is anxious to reserve the right to set these up in areas where there is a pool of man-power and it is possible to get technicians - of itself, a real problem. Moreover, services such as water, heat, lighting and transport must be available. The Government will establish these factories and. continue, the. decentralization policy that only the Department of Defence Production, whatever government has been in power, has put into effect. So that honorable members will see that this is no idle claim, I repeat that during the war, we had fae tories. at such places as Maribyrnong, Footscray and Fishermen’s Bend in Victoria; at Finsbury and Salisbury in Adelaide ; at Welshpool in- Perth ; at St. Mary’s, Villawood and Lidcombe, near Sydney; at Derwent Park in Hobart; at. Rocklea in. Brisbane and at such country towns as Kalgoorlie, Rutherford, Wagga, Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Murray Bridge, Tamworth and Mildura. There is talk about decentralization. This is a department which is decentralized, and the fact that war-time factories have been sold or leased to private enterprise, in the main, means that when they are reestablished they must be re-established in like places. I direct the attention of the House to that fact and say that we are fully concerned with that aspect. We believe that this is not a large factory. We know that it is not a number one priority bombing target, but that transport is. Therefore, it is essential that when we move approximately 200,000 tons of steel components per annum for filling we must have appropriate rail and other transport facilities. I pass over that aspect. J. do not think that there is any need for me to traverse in detail the matters that have been dealt with during the debate. I have spoken with regard to the works, and the architects, and 1 have said something about decentralization and the dangers to Sydney. On reflection, I think that the House will agree that the Government has made a very wise decision and a very wise choice.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the House agrees with the committee inits report.
This is a very remarkable occasion in many ways, Mr. Speaker, quite without precedents, so far asI know, in the history of this Parliament. Some time ago the honorable member for Reid (Mr. M organ) directed the attention of the House to a publication which had been made about him. The House referred the matter to the Committee of Privileges. Subsequently, further publications were made, and the House referred those also tothesame committee, and the committeehas made an investigation. The investigation involved, in particular, three people, one the honorable member for Reid, upon whom most defamatory attackshad been made; secondly, a man named Fitzpatrick, who was, so it was said, the instigator of these attacks; and thirdly, the man who wrote them named Browne. The committee investigated these matters. As I understand the matter, the committee was not simply concerned with whether a member of Parliament had been defamed, because to be defamed is, perhaps, one of the privileges of being in this place, and a defamatory attack would not of itself, as I understand it, attract the operation of a committee of privileges or the action of the Parliament itself. But in this case it was stated that the attacks made by these two people were designed to silence the honorable member for Reid on some matter.= in this Parliament. In other words, these attacks were designed to prevent him from carrying out his duty to his constituents, and that is where privilege comes in. That is where the whole relationship between the Parliament and those outside the Parliament calls for examination. That is a great and a grave problem, and not one to be dealt with lightly, or without the most careful consideration. Therefore, this House referred the matter to a committee of privileges, which included representatives of all parties in this House, and the members of that committee are, as all honorable members will agree, regarded as level-headed people. They had before them, not only the honorable member himself, but also Mr. Fitzpatrick, who,I understand, is an identity of Bankstown, and Mr. Browne, and if honorable members will refresh their minds by looking at the report of the committee they will see that the matter has been approached. I would venture to say, quite in a scientific and formal manner. Paragraph 7 of the report reads -
Your Committee determined that its investgations should, if possible, reveal -
And, of course, they would if they were found to represent an attempt to prevent a member of the House from performing his parliamentary duty -
I need not worry about the third line of investigation, because the committee, with first-class good sense, came to the conclusion that although there was contempt of the House, and indeed of the committee itself, involved in some of the remarks, the House should not unduly concern itself about that. If I may venture to say so, that seems to have been a very sensible decision to reach. Then the committee goes on to discuss these other matters -
Your Committee was firmly convinced by the evidence that a breach of Privilege had occurred in that an attempt had been made through the newspaper articles to influence and intimidate a member, . . . [ emphasize the word “ intimidate “, because, after all, all newspaper articles are designed to influence us - the honorable Member for Reid, in his conduct in the House.
The committee then proceeded to set out in the report some questions and answers from the examination which was made. [ do not need to read them, because honorable members have read them, and they ire in the hands of the press and of the public, but I must say that, with the most remarkable naivete, Mr. Fitzpatrick, we might say in the homely phrase, came dean. He said. “ Of course this was designed to intimidate the member for Reid. That was the idea in printing it “. There is no argument about this. He vas asked, “ To prevent him saying things in Parliament? “, and he answered, “Yes”. If frankness could excuse an offence, then indeed this offence would be rapidly excused, because rarely in my experience has a man been so completely forthcoming in admitting what is called die object of the exercise. He employed this man Browne at £30 a week because he thought that Browne was the kind of man who would - again to use the phrase expressed in the evidence quoted in the report - “Get stuck into” the honorable member. No doubt he selected this man because this man was an expert in defamatory attacks, an expert in what has been called “ character assassination “. The committee has. under those circumstances, unanimously reported to the House that there is a breach of privilege, not an accidental one, as I point out, but a breach of privilege deliberately performed, organized and carried on over a term. I do not remember any previous instance of this kind, nor indeed is there any prior experience in this House of an all-party committee of this House having to make a report in such terms.
When it came to the honorable member for Reid, against whom the most grievous charges had been made and pursued - most grievous charges - -these two people who had, in the one case promoted, them, and in the other case, written them and pursued them, being asked whether they had any proof oi these charges, said, “No”. Here ii is in the report : - “ Have you any, o» had you any facts before you. any proof, before you when you wrote these attacks ? “ The answer is “ No “. Here is the high-water mark of cynicism. “ Do not worn about proof, do not worry about facts, tear his reputation away, and if you can get a big enough circulation for it you may hope to destroy him.” This is the high-water mark of wicked cynicism. And the committee, therefore, found, as I would imagine, on the evidence, no difficulty in making a finding-
That Mr. R. E. Fitzpatrick and Mr. F. Browne have been guilty of a serious breach of privilege by publishing articles intended to influence and intimidate a member, the honorable member for Reid, in his conduct in the House, and in deliberately attempting to impute conduct as a member against the honorable member for Reid, for the express purpose of discrediting and silencing him. The committee recommends that the House should take appropriate action.
Well, sir, at this sta-ge. it is not for me to nominate the appropriate action but I want to say that I think, with thi? document before us, that, the first thing the House should do is to agree with the committee in its report, unless, contrary to my belief, there are people in the House who want to have a rehearing of this matter, setting the committee’s investigation on one side. I do not want to have a re-hearing. The committee was appointed by this House; it is trusted by this House; it has made a report to this House: and the best evidence to support its findings is to bp found in these remarkable extracts from the evidence given before the committee by the people most intimately concerned.
Sir, if the House, as I suppose it will, agrees with the committee in its report, I will then suggest for the consideration of the House that these two men, Fitzpatrick and Browne, should be given the benefit of what we call natural justice in these matters. Before the House proceeds to decide what penalty it will impose, it should give them, first thing to-morrow morning, an opportunity of being present at the bar of the House, and speaking to the House before the House passes sentence on them. If we can dispose of this matter so that they have notice of this opportunity and can come up here and be in this place, one by one, at the bar of the House, to-morrow morning at ten o’clock, then before this House determines what is to be done about these remarkable people, it will have the opportunity of seeing them and hearing them, not on whether there has been a breach of privilege, because if the House passes the motion I have just submitted, that will be concluded, but in order that they may have the opportunity of saying whatever, they want to say in mitigation of what this Parliament might otherwise think a proper punishment for <o scandalous a piece of conduct.
Mr. Holt rising in his place,
– Order! If the Leader of the Opposition desires to speak, he has precedence.
– I desire to raise two or three points. I do not wish to discuss the question this afternoon, and [ reserve any comment I have to make until the time these two persons appear. Their attitude to the House will be of importance, perhaps of great importance, and it will be. open to honorable members to look at every aspect of the case. I think that is the attitude I should adopt »t the’ present time.
I would have been in the House when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) rose to speak had I not been discussing some aspects of this matter with my executive when he submitted the motion. I also suggest to the Prime Minister ‘ that in the order for attendance as to time, some arrangement should be made so that the attendance will take place at a time which is physically possible, so that we can deal with all aspects of the case then.
– ] wish to speak very briefly to this matter, not as a member of the Government so much as a member of this Parliament, and one who, I hope, values the importance of Parliament and has some knowledge of the long historical process which has brought it to its present situation. While it is important, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) ha? emphasized to this House, that we should deal with this matter promptly, I think it is also important that we should bring home to the public who places us here the vital importance of this institution and of the need for preservation of the rights and privileges of members who are here to represent the people oi Australia.
This is the principal instrument oi our democracy and as people of this country, we live and stand by the process of democracy. It is the instrument by which governments are made and by which, when they fail to command the support of a majority of members of the House, they are destroyed. It is the instrument by which the laws of the land are promulgated that are given effect by governments. The people, recognizing the importance of the need for members of the Parliament to be free to carry out. without fear or prospect of favour, the duties which are imposed upon them, have given to members of the Parliament certain privileges which do not apply to the community as a whole. One of these is the privilege of being able to speak frankly and fearlessly in this place without damage, should remarks be made which outside the Parliament, might be held to be defamatory of particular persons. We as members are expected te discharge that obligation with a full recognition of our responsibilities and with complete fairness to the people concerned. But it is a vital principle to be preserved that the members of thi? Parliament should feel themselves free to discharge that responsibility without fear of damage to themselves, or their reputations, by people outside. On the manor 01 reputation, as the Prime Minister has stated, if we were concerned merely with a matter of defamation, it would not give rise to the procedure of inquiry into a breach of privilege. But, where the effect of what is done is to intimidate a member of this Parliament in an effort to prevent him from discharging his responsibilities, clearly the mat tor is of the utmost seriousness and of very great importance to this Parliament as an institution.
As one who has been a member of this House for some years, I say that for many members of the Parliament there is ordeal enough in standing in this public place, in full view of the press and under public notice, and seeking to put, as fearlessly and as ably as one can, the views that one holds. That is no small ordeal at any time for a relatively inexperienced member of the Parliament. If, in addition to these normal burdens of concern for the responsibility that a member must discharge, there is to be any threat of intimidation directed at members for the manner in which their public duties are carried out, clearly this institution of Parliament could not function satisfactorily. [ question whether, in the history of the institution of Parliament, there has ever been a more brazen or arrogant attempt to intimidate a member of the Parliament from carrying out the duties that he is expected to discharge, or to prevent him., if that could be done, from saying things that he felt should be said in the public interest. I merely add to the remarks of the Prime Minister the observations that [ have made in order to emphasize my view, which I believe is shared by honorable members on both sides of the House. As the Prime Minister stated, we have before us the unanimous decision of the Committee of Privileges. I add, that the committee is representative of all parties in this House and its decision is therefore a decision of all sections and all parties in this chamber. The committee has made a decision, and it is for us as a House of the Parliament to acknowledge the importance of that decision and to give it the support that T am sure will be unanimously given.
– [5. 28 J. - 1 wish to speak very briefly on this matter. The honorable mum bur for Reid (Mr. Morgan), while suffering a very grievous wrong, has appealed to the institutions oi Una House. He exhibitedgreat courage and a great respect for this House in taxing that action. Theintegrity of the members of the Committee of Privileges is beyond doubt. If honorable members have ever had cause to complain about the integrity of members of that committee, they have had many opportunities to make such complaints; but they have not done so. We recognize the right of the committee todeal with matters such as this. Tb* committee has reported on this matter, and we must support the committee if we are not to abandon completely the proper conduct of the democratic institutions of this country. The motion ha*the unanimous support of the party that I lead.
– I do not know why the Minister for Labour and National Service t Mr. Holt) thought it necessary to support and add to the remarks made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), whoseemed to cover the ground completely. The Minister for Labour and National Service thought fit to emphasize the gravity of an attempt by an organization outside this Parliament - a newspaper - to intimidate a member of the Purl in ment in the performance of his public duty. That is a very grave matter indeed. Nomember of the Parliament would have any view other than that the matter on which the Committee of Privilege- has now adjudicated is an exceedingly urn ve one and requires the attention of this House. I am astonished that the Minister for Labour and National Serviceshould have thought it necessary to emphasize the matter at such length, asif it were something completely unpreeec len ted in the h;.tory of the Pf rliament. T address O’p House on this narter because I wish to point out that the great newspapers of Australia, from dm- torig V. from mouth to month pud -f-om VB.. to year on occasions of iv-»l’*:ca]f crisis, constantly endeavour to intimidate members of the Parliament is the performance of their duties. They endeavour particularly to intimidate members of the Parliamentary Labour party. There could have no more vigorous attempts at intimidation than those that were directed against members of the Australian Labour party over the issue of bank nationalization.
Dr.Evatt. - And the Communist referendum.
– Or over the issue of the Communist Party Dissolution Act 1950.By means of leading articles, special articles, cartoons and glaring headlines the newspapers attempted to frighten members of the Opposition and to prevent thorn from voting and speaking as they thought they should do. Every member of the Parliament knows that, but Government supporters are always silent about those matters in regard to great issues that suit their own political purposes. I do not accuse the Minister of hypocrisy, butI consider chat, though he has directed his attention on this occasion to a serious breach of privilege, he has shut his eyes to the repeated breaches of privilege committed by the great newspapers of this country against members of the Parliament whom they attempt to intimidate upon issues that suit the interests of the Government pa rties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed -
That Raymond E. Fitzpatrick and Frank C. Brownebe notified that at 10 a.m. to-morrow the House will hear them at the Bar before proceeding to decide what action it will take in respect of their breaches of privilege.
– I take it that both men will be dealt with separately.
– That is my idea.
Dr.Evatt. - Both men should be heard separately.
– If I may say so, I entirely agree with the right honorable gentleman. The two men cannot be dealt with together. I have included their names in the one motion only because they both must receive notice of the intention of the House. I would propose that they be heard separately and be dealt with separately.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 28th September, 1954. (vide page 1629), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: - Japan and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade - Ministerial Statement.
.- In September last year, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a speech in this House, in reply to a request by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), on the Government’s attitude towards the request of Japan for admission to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. In order to refresh the minds of honorable members I shall quote from that speech. Negotiations by Japan had then been going on for two years for its admission into the agreement. The Prime Minister said -
These tariff negotiations are a necessary preliminary to the udmission of a new member, and at the ninth session contracting parties will be asked to decide whether tariff negotiations with Japan are to be programmed and whether any special conditions are to be attached to Japanese accession.
He went on to say that any country wishing to trade with Japan could do so, pending its admission to the general agreement. He continued -
Japan figures largely in our overseas trade, and it is important for us to see that our trade with it is not unduly frustrated particularly because of the significance of Japan’s purchases in the wool market. While the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade continues tobe the instrument regulating so much of world trade there are undoubtedly advantages in Japan becoming a member and being subject to the General Agreement on Tariffsand Trade rules.
I emphasize that last phrase. The right honorable gentleman added -
Nevertheless, Japanese accession presents problems for Australia and for other contracting parties, too. As an original contracting party, Australia would not necessarily be obliged to apply the agreement to Japan even though Japan’s accession was approved by a majority of contracting parties. The Australian Government must first be satisfied that its own tradings and industrial interests are adequately safeguarded. In the meantime, the reviewof the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade will have taken place, and one of the factors which will influence ourultimate decision will be the nature of the changes in thegeneral agreement which will emerge from that review.
The Prime Minister prophesied that the decision to admit or reject Japan would not be made until the middle of this year. Since the end of World War II. Australia has resumed trading with its ex-enemy and each year that trade has improved both ways. Prom June, 1953, until March, 1954, Australia imported from Japan £5,116,0C0 worth of goods. During the ten months, from June, 1954, to April, 1955, the value of Japanese goods imported into Australia was £14,850,000, an increase of 30 per cent, within twelve months. Exports from Australia to Japan were .considerable. During the ten months from June, 1953, to April, 1954, Australia exported to Japan goods to the value of £47,327,000, and from June, 1954, to April, 1955, we exported £44,826,000 worth of goods to that country.
The interesting analogy is that during the last ten months, Australia imported £14,850,000 worth of goods from Japan and exported £44,826,000 worth of goods to that country. At one period since the war, Australia exported to Japan goods of a value eighteen times greater than that of the goods which we imported from that country. To-day, the value of Australia’s exports to Japan is only three times greater than that of our imports from that country. The values of imports and exports between the two countries are coming closer. Our main exports to Japan are important. They include greasy and scoured wool, barley, wheat, butter and sugar-cane. No matter what the attitude of individual honorable members may be towards Japan as a result of the war - and honorable members know what my attitude is from my recent statement since I returned from that country a few weeks ago - Australia must continue to trade with Japan. As we trade with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, red China and West Germany, why should we not continue to expand our trade with Japan? I know that certain fears exist about trading with Japan. Summarized, those fears are, first, that imported Japanese goods would compete with Australian industries; secondly, that there would be a danger of displacing workers in industry; and, thirdly, that Australian standards of living and wages might be reduced.
I invite honorable members to look ar the other side of the picture and ask themselves what would happen if Australia did not trade with Japan. If we force thai country to trade more with countries behind the iron curtain, eventually ii will be forced out of the western bloc of free nations and will be compelled to trade with nations that are in chains. We must adopt a world-wide attitude to thi.1 question. . Already, Australia is playing a big part in assisting Japan to effect its economic recovery. During the war, 80 per cent, of Japan’s industries were destroyed. The greater part of the capita] city of Tokyo was burned to the ground during the last months of the war. Bui Japan has rebuilt its industries, and now Tokyo is the third largest city in th< world.
In order to indicate the economic improvement that has been effected in Japan, I point out that whereas before the war Japanese wages averaged £1 a week, under the 1947 Constitution of the MacArthur regime trade unionism was founded and, already, wage levels have risen to £6 or £7 a week. Australia will have to select the types of goods that it will import from Japan so as not to flood this country with goods that will unduly compete with Australian manufactures. I am confident that no honorable member would advocate that Australia should refuse to trade with Japan if that trad is confined to selected lines and if Japan is admitted to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. As the Prime Minister has said, we shall not have to accept an agreement with Japan but will b* able to work out our salvation by consultation with that country.
I was interested to read a press report from Geneva yesterday relative to Japan’s efforts to join the General Agree ment on Tariffs and Trade. That article stated -
Britain and several other members are expected to oppose Japan’s proposed member ship of G.A.T.T. Britain’s attitude » attributed to the fear that Japan may use GiA.T.T. privileges to resume her pre-wai “ dumping “ practices.
Meanwhile, it was announced here yesterday that 17 nations had concluded tariff agreements with Japan during the past four months.
They are the United States of America, Canada, West Germany, Burma, Chile, Denmark, the .Dominican Republic, Finland, Greece, Indonesia, Haly, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Sweden and Uruguay.
Several of them are likely to sign an agreement granting Japan formal admittance to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, but Japan will not be a full member of the agreement until its membership has been approved by twothirds of the 34 member countries which, of course, provides quite a big safeguard. [ think it would be a good thing if Japan were to be admitted to membership of the agreement, because then that country’s trade with the rest of the world could be regulated, which is the purpose of the agreement, and our trade with Japan could also be regulated under the agreement. Fears of dumping would therefore vanish, with Japanese trade under the control of a world-wide organization such as this. Trade is Japan’s lifeblood in the process of rehabilitation. Japan was bled white by the war, and has earned a lesson that it will never forget.
– We shall not forget it either.
– We may not forget it. Before the war 37 per cent, of Japan’s trade was with China. To-day only 6 per cent, of it is with China. The temptation to build up this percentage is a constant and powerful urge, because the Communists are exploiting Japan’s present economic backwardness. Japan’s best customers to-day are .the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and . South America. Japan has 1,000,000 unemployed, but their families look after them. There are no long queues waiting outside soup kitchens to be seen in Japan, as might be seen in Western countries when there is extensive unemployment. The Japanese have a great family spirit, and each member of a family helps any other member who is in trouble, such as unemployment. Russia and red China are attempting to capture Japan’s trade. While I was in Japan in March, a 25-man delegation arrived from China with all the ballyhoo, publicity and propaganda possible. Every one of them could speak Japanese perfectly, and was familiar with Japanese customs. They were completely conversant with Japanese ways of life because five years ago China started to train those 25 men for the mission which was te leave for Japan in March, 1955, and every one of them was a picked trained man. Each of them was an ideological weapon, as well as a member of a trade delegation. They met the top men while we were in Japan. After we had left they signed an agreement which is referred to at page 558 of the London Economist of the 14th May last, which states -
The details of the trade agreement signed in Tokyo last week between a group et Japanese businessmen and the visiting Chinese trade delegation make a cautionary tale foi politicians who talk too smoothly at election time. In the elections of last February Mr Hatoyama’s Democratic party made great play with an undertaking to expand Japanese trade with mainland China; and on coming to power they at once faced the problem of making good their word. The new agreement reached after more than a month of bargaining-
That was how long the delegation was there - and several near-breakdowns, leaves thiplanned level o£ trade between two countries exactly where it was in the previous agree ment-at £30 million each way for the coming year. This represents only about six pel cent, of Japan’s total trade, and is rathe: less than the value of the agreement which (Japan signed, without fanfares or fuss, a fort night earlier with the Nationalist Government of Formosa.
The Communists are battling to get Japan’s trade for Russia and red China. Russia and red China are inviting trade delegations from Japan to visit them at no cost to the Japanese. Just before I visited Japan a 50-man delegation of trade unionists, businessmen and others arrived back from a visit to Soviet Russia. That is one method that the Russians and red Chinese are using to win Japan. They are not only exporting their goods, but they are also exporting their ideas. The pressure on Japan from China and Russia is ideological pressure, which is being applied through the medium of trade. Russia and China export their ideas along with their goods. That is why those 25 -men were so completely trained for that mission. In addition to this Communist pressure on Japan from outside, the Communists in Japan itself are trying to isolate Japan from the Western world by four methods. Those are, first, writing down America as a capitalist monster; secondly, engineering boycotts of Japanese goods in other parts of the world, so as to create strained relations between those countries and Japan ; and, thirdly, urging trade with red China as the only hope for Japan’s economic survival. The Communist nations are telling Japan, “ You will be crushed out of the Western world, if you depend on their trade. They do not want your trade. Trade with us, and we will engineer your economic recovery “. Finally, they are using trade as an ideological weapon to which Japan has, .as yet, no answer. Japan is not ready yet to win this ideological war against Russia and red China.
The purpose of my mission to Japan, with my colleagues, was to try to get Japan to have an ideology superior to communism, which would enable Japan to withstand the methods used by the Communists over the straits. What do we intend to do about all this? Do we intend to sit idly by and see Japan gobbled up by the iron curtain countries? Or are we to do our best, within our own industrial and economic framework, to help towards Japan’s economic recovery? Japan must remain a free nation in the Pacific. The only alternatives are for it to be neutral or to succumb to red Chinese influence. At this very moment Russia is trying hard to neutralize Japan, just as it is trying to neutralize many other countries. So it is important, from that point of view, for Japan to join the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, so that it will be able to obtain economic help from other countries towards its own economic recovery. T should like to refer, but in a debate of this kind I should not be allowed to refer, to other aspects of present-day Japan, such as the discarding of militarism, the desire to take part in international affairs, and so on. However, I can say, from my own experience during the fortnight that I was there, when I was constantly having interviews with people in all walks of life, from the Japanese Prime Minister to businessmen and military men, that we in the South Pacific have a hig responsibility to he]n to save this nation in the North Pacific from having to yield to the pressure exerted from over the straits. We must not allow ourselves to be so swayed by past bitterness and hate that we shut our eyes to realities. I got rid of ray bitterness, because I asked myself how bitterness could contribute to the achieving of a better world, a better Australia, and a better Japan, We have already forgiven our ex-enemies, the Germans, despite tremendous propaganda that was designed to keep alive hatred against them. We realized that hatred against our exenemies, the Germans, would not help to build a new world. Neither will hatred agaInst our ex-enemy, Japan. I have not heard, since I returned from Japan, one word of criticism of that visit. Everybody I have met has been interested in hearing the facts about Japan. They wanted to know my thoughts about what the Japanese are thinking, and about Japanese trade, Japanese militarism. Japanese defence, the Japanese economy, and so on. I was able to find out a lot about these things while I was in Japan. The members of the Japanese wool mission which visited Australia last year told us that we simply must continue-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the negative.
– (Hon. Archie Cameron). I have taken the responsibility of having excluded from the official report of Hansard certain remarks which were made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) this morning during a division. I shall not repeat those remarks to the House because I do not think that any further publicity should be given to them ; but I notify the House that as soon as the honorable member for East Sydney appears in this House again I shall deal with him for the remarks that he made this morning when the House was in division.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to 10 a.m. to-morrow.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Bill returned from the Senate with an a mendment.
House adjourned at 5.58 p.m.
Vite following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2 and 3. Total Commonwealth public debt, States public debt and Commonwealth war debt at the 30th June, 1020, 1930,1940 and1954 wore as follows: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– I have asked the Commonwealth Bank for advice on the matters referred to by the honorable member, and shall furnish a further reply when this advice is. to hand.
Land Settlement of ex-Servicemen .
e asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following answer : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice - 1.How many metropolitan mills had flour for Taybank rejected?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
n asked the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
Will he make available to either the members of this House or the representatives of the primary producers’ organizations the report of the officers of his department on. the last increase in overseas shipping freights, and any report on the increase now proposed, when such report is completed!
– As I have previously indicated to honorable members of this House, there was no formal report prepared by departmental officers on the results of their investigations into proposals for shipping freight increases in 1953. On that occasion, shipping companies co-operated with the Department of Commerce and Agriculture by supplying, on a confidential basis, information which indicated the effects of price increases upon certain costs. To these details were added others which my department obtained from other sources, and from the facts thus obtained conclusions were drawn as to the case presented in support of shipping freight increases. These were then made available to members of the Australian Overseas Transport Association, which comprises representatives of producers, woolbuyers, meat exporters, dairy produce exporters, fruit exporters, and other exporters, and of representatives of the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association, for use in connexion with their negotiations on the increases. The outcome- of those negotiations was a reduction of the proposed increase in the rates from 10 per cent, to 7i per cent.
In connexion with the present proposals of the shipowners, several requests’ have been made by exporting interests that the Department of Commerce and Agriculture should assist in. assembling the facts which are relative to the shipowners’ requests. The departmental officers are engaged now in this work. This no doubt will involve asking representatives of the shipping companies to supply certain cost data which, particularly in regard to costs outside Australia, can be expected only on an assurance being given that its confidential nature will be respected. T am hopeful that their ready co-operation will once more be forthcoming. As was the case in 1953, no formal departmental report will be issued.
Hire-car Service at Mascot Aerodrome.
n asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The right to operate a hire-car service at Sydney airport is governed by the issue of licence-plates by the New South Wales Department of Road Transport. Originally these plates were shared by four different operators, three of whom have since sold their plates to the present holder who, as a result, holds all the plates that have been issued by the State department. In these circumstances, tenders for the hire-car service were not called, nor is it proposed to do so, until such time as the New South Wales Department of Transport issues more licence-plates.
z asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The- answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 June 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19550609_reps_21_hor6/>.