22nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to inform the House that his Excellency the Governor-General has been pleased to accept the resignations of the Eight Honorable Sir Eric John Harrison, KC.V.O., M.P., and the Honorable William McMahon, M.P., from the offices of Minister of State for the Army and Minister of State for Social Services respectively, and has made the following appointments : - The Honorable John Oscar Cramer, M.P., to be Minister of State for the Army, and the Honorable Hugh Stevenson Roberton, M.P., to be Minister of State for Social Services.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Yesterday, during question time, the Minister for Trade, dealing with the proposed sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission and the direct interest of the Western Australian Government in that admittedly very successful concern, financially and developmentally, stated that it was still not too late for that Government to b<! consulted on the matter, with a view to its taking over the assets on behalf of the people of Western Australia. Will the right honorable gentleman tell the House whether the Australian Government has, in fact, taken steps to ensure that the Western Australian Government will be given an opportunity, equally as favorable as that given to private concerns and speculators, to take over this national undertaking?
– Obviously, in all the circumstances, the question should have been directed to the appropriate Minister, who is the Minister for Trade.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Waterside
Workers Federation in Melbourne directed its members to refuse to work for longer than eight hours a day? If so, is this due to the fact that shipowners are engaging and paying labour which is not required and, because of this, overtime is not necessary? Is this just another form of irritation tactics adopted by this union?
– I cannot claim to know the full facts of the matter to which the honorable gentleman has referred, but I think all honorable members are aware that the resumption of work after the recent damaging and costly waterfront strike has been interrupted in a number of ports by disputes and stoppages of one kind or another. Whether that proceeds from the threat which was made at the time of resumption, that irritation tactics would be used by the union, is a matter for individual judgment. But I think it will be clear to all members of the Parliament, and to the public generally, that industrial relations on the waterfront are proving to be a very heavy burden upon the economy as a whole and upon every household because of their effect on cost levels. However, over the whole field of Australian industry the record is by no means bad. I believe that, in a country which has full employment and rapid change* of price levels, the fact that during the last year the average working time lost over the whole field of industry was less than one-third of a working day for each employee is a not unsatisfactory record. It is therefore all the more deplorable that, in an area pf industry that is of such importance to the economy as a whole, industrial relations are at the present time, and have been for many years past, of such an unsatisfactory order as to impose this additional heavy burden on the community. I can .assure the honorable gentleman that we are doing what we can, not merely to improve those relations, but also to improve in the long run the general level of waterfront performance.
– Has the Treasurer noted that figures issued recently by the Commonwealth Statistician show that fewer new homes were begun last year than in 1954? In view of this revelation, will the right honorable gentleman consider instructing the Australian banks to extend their credits in order to finance homebuilding to the same extent as has the Rural Bank of New South Wales, which last year advanced £4,000,000, or more than all the advances made by all the other Australian banks together?
– It is noi the policy of this Government to instruct the banks how they should use the deposits of the public which constitute their funds. The manner in which those funds are used is an administrative matter for the banks themselves. All that the Government does is to control the volume of such advances.
– A few minutes ago 1 asked a question of the Treasurer in relation to the proposed or suggested sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission in Western Australia, and the right honorable gentleman informed me that it should have been addressed to the Minister for Trade, who was not then in the House, but is here now. I therefore ask the Minister–
– I rise to order. This question relates to a matter that is set down on the notice-paper. Standing Order 144 provides that such a question is out of order.
– Order! I think that the question is in order.
– This is the third innings. There have been two run-outs, but now we have the batsman at the crease. Yesterday, the Minister stated to the House that it was not too late for the Government of Western Australia, which is interested in this enterprise that the Minister has stated to be so successful financially and developmentally, to negotiate, on behalf of the people of Western Australia, with this Government for the taking-over of the activities and assets of the commission. Will the Minister make good that statement by telling the House what opportunity will be given to the Government of Western Australia to tender or to negotiate on the same footing as that of the many companies, individuals and speculators who are interested in this matter?
– I assure the right honorable gentleman that the Government of Western Australia will not be left without an opportunity to make an offer. The willingness of this Government to sell this enterprise has been known publicly for about three and a half years. Whaling interests in Western Australia and elsewhere in Australia have been informed officially, and have been invited to tender. An offer was made to a former government of Western Australia. The fact that the offer had been made was published. A group of Perth businessmen at present completely unconnected with the whaling industry, have themselves sought information about it. They have sent their representatives to Canberra and have been given every facility to investigate the activities of the commission. I refuse to believe that the Western Australian Government of the day is so low in its capacity to keep abreast of events that it just did not know what was going on. If the present passes being made by the Western Australian Government are for purely political reasons, then I think that fact ought to be recognized. I am not alleging that they are for purely political reasons, but I suspect that they are. Whaling operations necessarily commence at a certain point of time in the year. The financial activities of the commission terminate on the 31st March, and that is therefore an appropriate date for any entrepreneur to be commencing his new whaling operations. We want, therefore, in fairness, to conclude arrangements by that time. We had proposed to consider whatever offers came forward up to the end of February. Now the Government of Western Australia has asked the Prime Minister if we would extend to it an opportunity to make an offer up to the 31st March.
Opposition members interjecting,
– I am being completely frank. I have suggested to the Prime Minister that it would be a fair thing to extend to the Western Australian Government an opportunity to make an offer up to the 15th March, if it wants to make such an offer, and I have said that we are prepared immediately - and that literally means to-morrow - to send a senior officer of my department to Western
Australia to put the Government of that State in possession of every factor that it could have been put in possession of over the last few years if it had asked for the facts. But without making any recriminations on that point, I repeat that we are prepared to send a man to-morrow to Western Australia for the purpose I have stated, as well as to take the representatives of the Western Australian Government to the whaling station, and expose all books and transactions, in order to enable the Western Australian Government, if it desires, to make a bid which, I should hope, would be made by the 15tu March for the reasons that I have mentioned.
– Has the Minister for Supply received a report which, I understand, has been made by some American scientists, alleging that atomic bomb tests were having harmful effects on the population of the United States of America, and criticizing the United States Atomic Energy Commission in connexion with this matter? Can the Minister say what the point of view of the Australian Government is on the matter, and indicate what the Government has done to examine the position and ascertain the facts?
– The honorable member for Robertson has shown a careful and well-balanced interest in this subject for some time, and has asked questions about it on previous occasions. He has also spoken to me about it. I did see a statement of the sort he refers to, emanating from some American scientists, and all I would say in regard to it is that scientists, like doctors, lawyers and economists, do not always agree. In fact, there is a very wide degree of disagreement among them.
– The same applies to -politicians.
– Indeed, oppositions and governments are in the same position. The fact of the matter is that there is radiation everywhere, and that human beings are exposed to it all the time. A man who goes to have an X-ray is exposed to a considerable dose of radiation. When he goes up 10,000 feet in the air in an aeroplane he is exposed to greatly in creased radiation and so on. There are similar instances of exposure of human beings to radiation. Of course, it is true enough, scientifically, that if the degree of radiation is always of sufficient intensity, and prolonged for long enough, troublesome effects on human beings and on the human race generally can result from it, but there is a wide area of disagreement among scientists, doctors and geneticists as to the seriousness of this. What happens, apparently, is that a mutation of the genes - that is the inherited particles which determine the human characteristics passed on from one generation to another - can take place, which may involve abnormality in future generations.
– Now I know what is wrong with the Minister.
– The honorable member for East Sydney says he knows what i3 wrong with me. All I can say is that it is a pity that some transmutation did not take place in his father’s genes. Things could not have been worse, and may well have been of benefit to this Parliament. However, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission has paid a good deal of attention to this matter, and I paid attention to it when I went abroad recently. The best scientific opinion that we can obtain may be summed up in the words of Sir John Cockcroft, who told a parliamentary committee of the House of Commons recently that if one took all the atomic explosions and all the hydrogen bomb explosions which have so far taken placed, and lumped them all together, one would have to multiply them by a thousand before there need be any serious anxiety. This Government, in conjunction with other governments, is watching the position carefully. As I told the honorable gentleman the other day, Australia was one of the promoters of the appointment of an international committee, upon which Australia is represented, for the purpose of examining the whole question of radiation around the world, and of reporting back and, if necessary, making recommendations. The honorable gentleman may be sure that this Government will keep the matter carefully in mind.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question in connexion with the granting of import licences. What care is taken, when the licences are applied for and the restrictions are being applied, to see that industries in this country are not unduly penalized by being prevented from getting necessary imports to enable them to continue their operations? I have quite a lot of these industries in my own electorate and I am concerned that, because of the restrictions placed on imports, those industries may not be able to carry on as they have been able to carry on up to now.
– I am asked what steps are taken in import licensing to ensure that existing Australian industries are not unduly hampered by the operation of the licensing system. The steps that are taken have been developed over tho years since import licensing first began in this country. Every care is taken by those responsible for the adoption of quotas and the issue of licences to see that existing industries are not impaired to any greater degree than is necessary at the time. Anybody who knows anything about the import licensing system must concede that a restriction on the imports of the country does place difficulties in the way of everybody whose imports are restricted. But one of the considerations that is borne in mind all the time is the needs of existing Australian industries, and they are watched to the utmost practicable limit.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services, who administers the War Service Homes- Division, whether it is a fact that circumstances, such as the unfortunate floodings in New South Wales and Queensland, have seriously disrupted the current war service homes building programme to the extent that it is possibl-3 that some of the funds allotted to those States for the current year will not be spent, and, in consequence, will revert to the Treasury. If this is a fact, I ask the Minister whether he will consider the re-allocation of those funds with a view to diverting them to Western Australia, where the war service homes building pro gramme is limited only by the extent of funds available. Our labour force is sufficiently large; we are anxious to go ahead with the work; and we are able to do it far more speedily than is possible in the eastern States where weather conditions have not been so favorable.
– I am indebted to the honorable member for Moore for my first question. I am well acquainted with his perfervid patriotism regarding Western Australia. Indeed, having sat beside him for a number of years, I have found myself infected by it to some degree. However, I can give him no hope that war service homes funds will be diverted from New South Wales to Western Australia. The flooding in New South Wales has not in any way obstructed the programme in that State. Each year in the budget appropriations for war service homes the States are allocated funds by the division on the basis of the number of applications that have been made. Each State, up to this point, has been competent to spend the sum allocated to it, and this year is no exception.
– Will the Minister for Immigration investigate the possibility of giving increased financial assistance to State governments, voluntary organizations and other bodies so that there may be greater facilities for new Australians to learn English, Australian history and similar subjects, thus acquiring more rapidly a knowledge of Australia?
– I do not know that the answer to the problem that has been posed, by the honorable member is the provision of additional finance. He may be unaware of the very thorough provision that is made for the teaching of English to our new settlers by the Commonwealth Office of Education and the State education authorities, working together. Voluntary classes have been established in all accessible centres. It has been estimated that about 80 per cent, of non-British adult migrants at one time or another make some use of these training facilities, which we supplement with lessons over the broadcasting system. My own impression is that there is a need not so much for the provision of more services as for more enthusiasm on the part of new settlers for the learning of English rapidly. We do our best to encourage this. The facilities are there if the immigrants are prepared to make use of them. However, if the honorable gentleman, as a result of his own experience, can suggest anything beyond what is being done, T shall be very glad to consider it.
– Has the Ministor’s attention been drawn to the publicity given to the recent return to Russia of certain immigrants who have been in Australia for some years? If so, has he any explanation of the reasons underlying their action?
– I do not know that I can answer the question completely. I doubt whether I could attempt to analyse either the motives of those who have returned to Russia or the influences that have been brought to bear to persuade them to make the journey back to their homeland. I suppose it is very natural for people who have settled in a new country to have a feeling, from time to time, of nostalgia for their homeland. Inevitably, some will wish to return; but our examination of the matter reveals that of the 21,000 people who have come to Australia from Russian territories, including the Ukraine - mostly as displaced persons in the early stages of the immigration programme - only about 21 have returned in the last twelve months. Those figures suggest that immigrants, in the proportion of 1,000 to 1, have found Australia a preferable place of permanent settlement to an iron curtain country. I do not anticipate that the movement from Australia will be very much more extensive in the years to come than it has been in the past. It is a matter of the personal decision of the immigrant concerned. We place no embargo, of course, upon their movements back to their homeland, but it is at least encouraging that, despite pressure on immigrants, and some assistance given, as I understand, from the Russian and other iron curtain governments, to their former citizens, to return to their homeland, such a minute proportion of those who have settled here have shown any disposition to return.
– Is the policy of the Postmaster-General’s Department such that it is competent to submit applications for telephones in respect of vacant blocks of land? If this is so, would the Postmaster-General agree that such a policy has a tendency to favour estate agents, land speculators and others who are enabled, as a result of this policy, to inflate the value of land and adversely affect the proper priority advancement of genuine householder applicants? If the department does not approve, as proper, applications which are made in respect of vacant blocks of land, will the Minister indicate what steps are taken to check applications to ascertain whether they are in respect of existing rather than intended establishments ?
– The policy of the department in relation to the provision of telephone services is that all applications are submitted to examination. The evidence submitted in support of the application is considered, and the application is allotted a certain priority. The priorities are determined according to the urgency of the application. For instance, people such as doctors and nurses, and those providing services of that kind, obtain a higher priority than do those who submit straight-out business applications. Furthermore, an application for a service simply for a household is given a still lower priority. Ex-servicemen who are establishing themselves in business obtain a high priority. That is the system that has applied, and any application for the installation of a telephone service in respect of a vacant block of land would certainly receive a very low priority if it received any priority at all. The checking of applications is done by the various district telephone officers, who maintain a fairly complete supervision over all applications. Under the system I have outlined I am sure that there could be no case of a telephone application being approved for the holder of a vacant block of land. If the honorable member knows of a particular case in which such an application has slipped through the system, I can assure him that I shall be only too glad to correct the position, if hp will give me the information.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Trade, concerns the efforts of the Government to correct our adverse international trade balance by attempting to improve our overseas markets. Does the Government consider that the results achieved from sending trade missions to South Africa, South-East Asia and New Zealand warrant sending further trade missions abroad? If so, is the Government planning to send further trade missions overseas in the near future?
– The former Department of Commerce and Agriculture considered, and the Department of Trade considers, that quite valuable results have flowed from the trade missions that have been arranged to Africa, South-East Asia and New Zealand. That is the view, not only of the Government departments, but indeed of the many trade and commercial interests who have participated in those missions. It was reported to me the other day by the gentleman from private industry who was the leader of the recent trade mission to New Zealand, that very considerable additional trade opportunities had in fact been opened up. On that basis, it is the intention of the Department of Trade to continue to study the possibilities of continuing these as a practice, and to discover to what areas trade missions might best be directed, and what best preparatory treatment might be arranged. In that regard, I should be very glad to have whatever constructive suggestions the honorable member himself, who has been very interested in this matter, might advance, or the other honorable members of the Government parties who talk quite frequently to me on this, and of trade interests generally.
– Will the Minister for Territories inform me whether all the moneys voted in the 1955-56 budget for capital works in the Northern Territory and New Guinea will be available for the carrying out of the approved works programme for those areas during the current financial year? If all the funds are not available, will the Minister in form the House of the extent of the financial cuts, and also the works affected? I ask the question in view of the fact that reports of works cuts in the Northern Territory in particular are causing considerable concern.
– As is customary at this time of the year, approaching the end of the financial year, we are making a general review of the progress with budget spending. That review is still in progress, and I am not in a position yet to reply directly to any of the points made.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services, and relates to the interdepartmental committee which has been set up to consider the social and economic problems associated with older people in the Australian community, and which has been directed to pay particular attention to the effects of compulsory retirement from employment at certain age limits. Can the Minister indicate to the House when this committee’s report will be completed? Will the report be tabled in the House ?
– I am indebted to the honorable member for Higinbotham for the importance of the question he has addressed to me. The quality of it gives me cause to say that in a moment of cruel retaliation, when he has put an “ s “ in my surname, I have had cause to call him by the name of “ Simpson “. All that is forgotten. The inter-departmental committee inquiring into the social and economic consequences of the retiring age was established by my illustrious and now bucolic predecessor. The committee has had two meetings. It will continue to function and, in the fullness of time, it will make its report to me. After having had an opportunity to peruse the report. I shall take the customary action of handing it over to the Prime Minister. What he does with it can only be determined by the right honorable gentleman
– My question i3 directed to the Minister for Immigration, and is prompted by the economic policy of this
Government in restricting bank credit. Can the right honorable gentleman give an assurance that immigrants entering Australia this year will be guaranteed continuity of employment?
– I do not think there is any fear on the part of our new settlers about the opportunities awaiting them in Australia. Not only is the absence of fear evidenced by the number who have come to settle in this country, but also it is confirmed by the interest shown in Australia by the people of other nations at this time when we are subject to competition from other migrantreceiving countries that would like to take the immigrants that are coming to Australia. Canada is a case in point. This Government’s policy has maintained substantially full employment throughout its term of office. Indeed, the only period when there was not what could be fairly described as over-full employment was a short period after the bringing down of the 1951 budget. Even then, at no time did the number of persons receiving employment benefits exceed about 1 per cent, of Australia’s work force. I think the current facts are well known. Some 50,000 vacant positions throughout Australia are registered with the Department of Labour and National Service. There is a pressure of labour demand, which is one of the inflationary factors working on the economy at the present time. Throughout the term of the present Government, Australia has been a land of opportunity, and we hope to keep it that way.
– I ask the Treasurer whether there has been any accumulation, of unspent Commonwealth aid road funds in the hands of the Western Australian Government. If so, can the Treasurer give the House the figures for the unspent balances for, say, the last three financial years ?
– I anticipated a question such as this.
Opposition Members. - Oh!
– The reason why I anticipated the question is obvious : The State Labour governments have accused the Australian Government of starring the Labour-governed States. I am used to these accusations. However, I can see no sign of financial malnutrition in any of those States. It was obvious that I should anticipate such a question. Opposition members from Western Australia also thought of asking it, but they did not do so because they first ascertained the answer and realized that there was no financial malnutrition in Western Australia. To come back to the question asked by the honorable member for Forrest, I point out that, at the 30th June, 1953, the unexpended balance of Commonwealth aid road funds granted to Western Australia by the Australian Government totalled £373,000.
– Chicken feed!
– I agree, but the honorable member will see how the chicken has grown to a rooster. At the 30th June, 1954, the unexpended balance amounted to £487,000.
– Still chicken feed.
– Still chicken feed. Now we come to the turkey: By the 30th June, 1955, the unexpended balance had increased to £1,163,000.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services - for the second time, I might say. Will the Minister outline the principles of adjudication applied by departmental officers when inquiring into allegations of over-visiting of pensioners by doctors under the pensioner medical scheme? Are these inquiries the result of economy measures, and what action will be taken against a doctor who is found guilty?
– The honorable member would be well advised to address his question to the Minister for Health, to whose administration it rightly relates.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Last week, the honorable member for Darebin asked a question that I had in mind. He asked whether the Australian Government would assist Australian winners of the Victoria Cross to meet the cost of their passage to London to attend the centenary of the institution of the award of the Victoria Cross. Can the Treasurer now say whether a decision has been made? If it has not been made, will he ensure that it is made at the earliest possible time, so that arrangements may be made for those Victoria Cross winners who intend to make the trip to London?
– The matter obviously is one that concerns the Prime Minister’s Department. I know that there has been communication between the States and this Government on the subject. The Prime Minister has the matter in hand, and I am sure that the Victoria Cross winners will not be disadvantaged as a result of his decision.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Over a week ago I asked a question in relation to the shortening of hands in the coal mines. I have just received a telephone call - which. is the reason why I have been late in asking the question - from the general secretary of the miner’s federation, who has informed me that a crisis is developing. He has been in touch with the Minister’s secretary this morning, but could not speak to the Minister. He states that, in 1955, 600 fewer men were employed in the mining industry than in 1954. Since then 200 men have been put off at Stockrington colliery, and 250 in the western district of New South Wales following the closing down of the Bellbird colliery, about which I complained to the Minister. The miners’ federation desires to know whether the Joint Coal Board has any control whatever over the industry now, as it did have under the Chifley regime. If not, there will be a crisis in the industry.
-Order ! What is the question ?
– The Australian Council of Trades Unions is unanimously supporting the miners in the proposed general stoppage.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman will ask a question or take his seat.
– In view of that fact, is the Government prepared to do anything to try to stop the development of this crisis? Will power be given to the Joint Coal Board to ensure that the coal owners do not dismiss more men, as they did in 1929 when a crisis developed?
– There has been no modification or reduction of the powers of the Joint Coal Board, so far as I am aware, during the term of office of this Government. The honorable member is very well aware that my colleague, the Minister for National Development, and to some extent I myself, have been giving a good deal of attention and assistance in relation to this particular problem. I find it difficult to understand, however, as the coal industry is based almost entirely - certainly very largely - in the State of New South Wales, why this matter is constantly thrown on the doorstep of the Australian Government, and why the State Government of New South Wales, which is a large user of industrial coal and also has the coal mines in its own territorial area, and which is linked with this Government in the work of the Joint Coal Board, is not brought into the matter in order to find a solution of it. As a matter of fact, the coal industry has brought much of its present trouble upon itself, as the honorable member will realize if he is fair enough to be objective about the matter. Lack of regularity in supply, repeated interruptions of work, and indiscipline on the coal-fields, have all contributed to a situation where the users of coal have turned to alternative fuel, and the best service which the coal industry could do itself would be to combine with the Joint Coal Board and with the owners in measures designed to improve the efficiency of production on the coal-fields, to get prices down and quality up, and in that way obtain a bigger share of the fuel market than so far applies. We shall be doing all that we can to promote that result.
Debate resumed from the 28th February (vide page 322), on motion by Mr. Chaney -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
Mayit please Your Excellency :
We, the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Mr. Pollard had moved, by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the Address: - “and we desire to add that, in the opinion of this House, the Government should at once terminate all negotiations for the sale or disposal of any of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission located at Carnarvon, Western Australia”.
.- Before I deal with some of the comments that have been made during the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I should like to join with others in offering my congratulations to the new members who have delivered their maiden speeches. As other speakers have pointed out, those speeches certainly were a credit to the new members. I should like also to take this opportunity to offer my congratulations to you, Mr. Speaker, on your re-election to your high office. I am certain that I express the thoughts of most honorable members when I say that we all hope that your health will soon be completely restored, so that you will be able to bring to the discharge of the duties of your office the vigour that you have brought to it in the past.
The Address-in-Reply is designed to convey, through the Governor-General, an expression of our loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen. But last night the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) used the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply as a vehicle for an attack on the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). In that attack, he used wild and extravagant language. At one stage he said -
The Minister isNo. 1 member in the Australian Country party - a party notorious for its endeavours by political action to destroy and retard Australian secondary industries by every possible means it could devise. Its members are out and out traitors. They are tory free-traders.
Mr.RIORDAN. - Where did the honorable gentleman get that?
– If the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr.Riordan) wants to know where I got it I suggest that he look at yesterday’s Hansard. He will find it there. Apparently he was not in his place last night when the honorable member for Lalor spoke. Later in his speech, the honorable member for Lalor talked about the secretiveness of this Government. He referred to a conspiracy, and said he wanted to know why the Minister had deceived the House. The honorable gentleman who has talked about deception and conspiracy is the same honorable gentleman who, for many long months, supported in this House a colleague who had perpetrated, as he himself had perpetrated, the infamous wheat deal with New Zealand, under which they undertook to sell to New Zealand wheat belonging to the Australian wheat-growers for 5s. 3d. or 5s. 9d. a bushel, when the ruling price for wheat overseas was in the vicinity of 9s. a bushel. He is the honorable gentleman who frequently denied that such a deal had been made. We knew nothing about it until there was a leak in the New Zealand Parliament and the news was published in the press. He supported his predecessor in office in denying the deal until, one day, he came into this House and, in response to a question from the then honorable member for Hume, who has now departed from the Parliament, he drew a document from his pocket and disclosed the whole story of the infamous deal. The honorable member for Lalor is the honorable gentleman who said in Ballarat, on the 24th April, 1948, that Labour had a plan for Australia. He stated -
We will go on and on until eventually, in Australia, you will have a great co-operative Commonweal th. Its wealth will be owned by the people and it will be operated in a socialistic manner for our people as a whole.
– Why not?
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asks “ Why not ? “ Last night, the honorable member for Lalor talked about conspiracies. He and his colleagues have been planning and getting their conspiracies ready for years. I propose to ventilate these matters to-day, so that the people of Australia will know that, if ever they entrust their destinies to the Labour party, they will be looking for very serious trouble. The honorable gentleman who attacked the Minister for Trade because the Minister had said that this Government produced the goods, is the honorable gentleman who, without conferring with any of the industries concerned, agreed to sell overseas the products of our primary producers at prices that could not be altered by more than TJ per cent, one way or the other. The only adjustment possible, mark you, was per cent., or one-fourteenth, one way or the other ! He is the honorable gentleman who never conferred with the egg producers, the dairy-farmers, the meat producers or the other primary producers.
– That is a downright lie.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order!
– This is the honorable gentleman who, in 1947, as Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, supported a minority report of the Dairy Industry Advisory Committee which based the cost of production on a 56- hour week for dairymen, when Labour members were seeking a 40-hour week for their supporters. The honorable gentleman set out then to deprive the dairy-fanners of an additional 2-Jd. per lb. for their product. The honorable gentleman who says that the party to which I belong, and to which I am proud to belong, has set out to destroy our secondary industries fails completely to appreciate that, unless the primary industries of this country are nourishing and prosperous, secondary industries cannot carry on, because secondary industries must be fed with primary products. He is talking piffle when he says that the Australian Country party has set out to destroy the secondary industries of this country by all means that it can devise. “What did he do with respect to wool? We all remember the time when the price of wool went up through the roof because of the international situation. Various questions were asked by honorable members on both sides about legislation to guard against a financial catastrophe. But we did not get to the bottom of the matter, and we did not find out what the Labour party really wanted, until, during the election campaign of 1951, the then Premier of Queensland let the cat out of the bag. On the 10th April, 1951, he said -
Only a Federal Labour Government would fix a home consumption price for wool. If it is good enough for the sugar-grower, the wheat-grower and the humbler types of farmers, it is good enough for the wool-grower. The action really needed is for the wool of Australia needed for Australia to go into Australian mills at a price of, say, 2s. 6d. or 3s. Gd. per lb. Then you will get your blanketsand woollen goods at the old prices.
Is there one member of the Labour party who, either at that time or since then, has endeavoured to deny or to refute that statement ? Not one of them has done so. Tha t is the state of affairs that they want. If they were in power, what would happen to all the people whom they express a very keen desire to help ? We would have the unemployment that Labour members are so eager to see. This Government, by its programmes and policies, has been able to improve the lot of the primary producers and others. To-day, we all are in a flourishing condition. Let members of the Labour party go among their supporters and see how many of them are without refrigerators, power lawnmowers,motor cars and other things. I do not believe there are many people who do not own such things. We are in our present fortunate position largely as a result of the Government’s policy in regard to primary industries, for which the present Minister for Trade is mainly responsible.
The Australian Agricultural Council meets f requently to devise ways and means to increase the production of this country. If it had not been for the increase of our primary production and our ability to sell our wheat and wool overseas - I admit that wheat is, to some extent, in the doldrums, but we hope that that will be the case only for a short period - our standard of living would not be so high as it is. It is the income earned by the export of our primary products that enables us to bring into the country all the things that the housewife requires to make her lot easier. Yet we hear the members of the Opposition decry the achievements of the Government and ask the people to put them into power.
The honorable member for Lalor has moved an amendment to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, probably with the object of upsetting - I do not know really what his intention was - the sale of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission at Babbage Island, Carnarvon, Western Australia. He charged the Minister with being party to a conspiracy and with endeavouring to deceive the House. I was interested in an interjection by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) when the Leader of the Opposition asked a question to-day of the Minister for Trade. What tha Minister said in reply was perfectly correct. I see the honorable member for Stirling smiling. He will remember that just four months before the present Premier of Western Australia assumed office, this Government made an offer to the Government of Western Australia for the taking over of the activities of the Australian Whaling Commission.
– This Government knew that the Government of Western Australia, being a Liberal government, would not accept the offer.
– There is the big voice from Stirling again. I do not deny that, but I point out that very soon Mr. Hawke, the Labour Premier of Western Australia, will be going on the hustings to ask the people of that State for a new vote of confidence.
– And he will get it.
– If the people are aware of the fact that he looks after the other affairs of government in the manner that he has looked after this one, he will not receive a vote of confidence from them. He has known since the 6th November, 1952, that this Government wants to sell the interests of the Australian Whaling Commission in Western Australia. Immediately he assumed office as Labour Premier of Western Australia, be could have opened up negotiations with the Minister for Trade, who was then Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. The honorable member for Lalor has stated that this matter has been secretive, and that no information has been made available. He hopes to hop into the shoes of the Minister for Trade if, perchance, the Australian Labour party should assume office. God forbid that that should be so while that party is in its present frame of mind. A statement to the effect that the Government wished to dispose of this enterprise was issued by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture on the 6th November, 1952, and it was available to the honorable member for Lalor. It appeared in the press.
It was originally thought - even if it was not the intention of the Labour party - that the enterprise was to be established to demonstrate that whaling operations could be carried out from the Western Australian coast as a successful enterprise. We have been asked why we sold our shares in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. The people of Australia have furnished the answer to that question, because, if they had really believed, as the Leader of the Opposition has stated, that we were doing Australia a disservice by selling those shares, we would not have been returned to office. It was quite clear, even to a third standard schoolboy, that when the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company Limited established its £40,000,000 refinery at Kwinana in the electorate I represent, that company would not bother for two seconds about, this twopenny-halfpenny dump down at Altona, in Victoria which, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, had not produced one gallon of petrol that could be used in a service vehicle without having to be doped. Where would we have been if we had retained our shares in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited ? We would have had a team of dipstick men going around measuring quantities of petrol, wiping windscreens, and all the rest of it. What do -Opposition members want us to do in relation to the activities of the Australian Whaling Commission? Do they want us to go in for prawns, or are there enough of them sitting over there already ? Do they want us to go in for such things as lobsters? If that is what they want us to do, why do not they come out into the open and say so ?
My conception of the functions of a federal government is that it should not be bothered with such things, but that it should open the way to private enterprise to get on with the job. When legislation to establish the commission was introduced in 1948 by the honorable member for Lalor, I was the only member in this House who flatly opposed it. I stated at that time that it represented another step in the socialistic programme of the Labour party. The honorable member, as Minister in charge of the legislation, stated that the then Government would rush things ahead; that it had been making exploratory surveys for a couple of years, and that the commission would commence operations in next to no time. If my memory serves me rightly, it did not have its first trial run until 1950; but the Labour Government had to spend £750,000 of the taxpayers’ money to do that! At the same time, that Government criticized and sneered at others who were endeavouring to start whaling operations in Western Australia. Admittedly, the Labour Government gave a licence to the North-west Whaling Company Limited, but to no one else. The Government knew full well that persons who wished to engage in the whaling industry needed a lot of capital, but were not in the race to get it, because the Labour Government had so completely tied up capital and finance by its capital issues control that it was impossible to raise money. Labour squeezed them out in that way.
That Government also introduced legislation which provided that nobody in Australia could buy a ship unless it was built in this country or unless he had special permission from the Australian Shipbuilding Board to do so, which meant that he would have to wait for years. No matter which way private enterprise turned in order to establish itself in the whaling industry, it found itself up against a Labour government which was determined to proceed with its socialistic plans. If, in the first instance, the Labour Government had assisted the Point Cloates people in the electorate of Kalgoorlie and the Cheyne Beach people in the electorate of Forrest, by making that sum of £750,000 available to them, it would have helped them to become properly established, and they could have repaid the money. Later, the Australian Whaling Commission asked for another £625,000 so that it could continue its operations. Fortunately, the price of whale oil soared, and the commission was able to make a profit.
This Government was elected in 1949, and was re-elected in 1951, in 1954, and again as recently as the 10th December, 1955, on a policy of desocialization. This is one enterprise that it has been endeavouring to get rid of for a long time, but not at a give-away price. It has been evident, I repeat, since the 6th November, 1952, that the operations of the Australian Whaling Commission were for sale.
Mr. Webb interjecting.
– This Government is still willing to play- ball with the Government of Western Australia, which is supported by the honorable member for Stirling, if it is prepared to make up its mind between now aud the 15th March. The Premier of that State wants this matter to be delayed until after the 31st March, because he hopes that thereby his Government will be able to win a few more seats. A3 I have stated, an election will soon be held, and the Government of Western Australia wants to bandy this thing about all over the place. Let it make mp its mind. It has had more than three years in which to do so, and this Government is now giving it another fifteen days. There has been no secrecy or conspiracy about the matter; it has been as open as a book. Anybody in Australia who has any interest in the government of this country knows only too well that the Government set out to sell this enterprise soon after it assumed office. I now wish to refer to the Governor-General’s Speech.
Opposition MEMBERS - Ha, Ha !
– I hear cries of “ Ha, Ha ! “ from members of the Labour party. Let me remind them that it was one of their number who raised this discussion. He knows what the position is, and he knows that what he said last night was very far from the truth. Once again I must express my disappointment and dismay at the lack, in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, of any reference to the defence of the Western Australian coast. Ever since I have been in this Parliament I have raised this matter, but still nothing has been done. Western Australia has a coastline of 4,350 miles, stretching from Wyndham in the north to Eucla in the south. On that coastline lies Yampi Sound, where we have huge deposits of iron ore. I cannot remember the exact volume of ore in these deposits, but I know that more than 100,000,000 tons of it lies above the highwater mark, and is of a very high grade. To-day, the Broken Hill Company Proprietary Limited is transporting ore from Yampi Sound to Broken Hill for manufacture into steel to be used in Australian industries.
A look at the map shows that an almost Straight line drawn from Singapore to Sydney runs through Derby and Alice Springs. Yet we find that Derby, which lies on the north-west coast of Western Australia, is not connected with the rest of Australia by even a telephone line. The people there have to rely on radiotelegraph facilities only. I know that the Western Australian authorities have been for years asking the Postmaster-General’s Department to install a radio-telephone service at Derby, which is at present connected with Broome only by an ordinary copper telephone line, although the Royal Flying Doctor Service operates from Derby, and can provide Derby with contact with the country in the hinterland of Derby. A look at the map of the eastern side of Australia shows a different picture. I think I am correct in saying that a telephone line runs right from Melbourne, in Victoria, to Cooktown, in the north of Queensland. But there is no such facility in existence on the Western Australian coast. We do not ask the Government to put a copper line up there, but we say that the cost of establishing a radio-telephone link, at any rate between Derby and Perth, would be only about £85,000. Nor do I say that, in the first instance, that cost should be met out of the funds made available to the Postmaster-General’s Department, although I am glad that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson), is now sitting at the table, and will be able to take the whole matter up with the Government. I say that, instead of the cost of the installation of radio-telephone facilities in the area I have mentioned being met by the Postmaster-General’s Department, it could be met out of the defence vote, because the provision of such a facility has a definite connexion with defence, in view of the fact that oil explorations are under way in Western Australia, and new industries are coming into being. When it is realized how close we are to Indonesia, Singapore and other places to our north and. north-west - a fact which, events suggest, many people on the eastern side of Australia who are in charge of public facilities throughout the Commonwealth do not realize - it is easy to understand the need to have up-to-date communications facilities, such as I have mentioned, in such a strategic area of this continent. After all, as I have said, a direct line between Singapore and Sydney runs through Derby and Alice Springs. I hope that the people in charge of these matters will fully realize that it is only for very little longer that we can afford to have the north-western part of Western Australia without direct and efficient contact with the outside world. Radio telephone facilities installed in the Derby area would not need to be fixed installations. Such facilities do not require the laying of copper line. What we need is somebody with foresight, and some ability to see the potentialities of the country there, and the great need for it to have communication with the rest of Australia. The fact that individuals and companies are prepared to spend millions of pounds in exploring in that area for oil, which would bring immense benefits to the whole of this country and not only to the small area in which the oil lies; shows the need for up-to-date communications facilities. Such people are not going to waste time tinkering about with radio telegraph communication in order to do their business with the eastern States. Quick decisions and quick information are necessary in business, and businessmen do not want to waste time in sending and receiving information by tardy means. They are prepared to spend millions of pounds in this area, we hope for the ultimate benefit of the whole country, and they want every facility to enable them to get on with the job.
Further down the coast is the whaling station at Babbage Island, about which we have heard so much to-day. Away back in about 1911, the then Government purchased an area of land at Cockburn Sound for the establishment of a naval base. The Henderson report, which dealt with this particular matter, has been locked up by the Navy, and nobody can find out anything about it. Since those days the Government has held this land and land further inland at a place called Byford, where it hoped to get the stone for the construction of the base. This Government has sold back to the Western Australian Government some of this land on which the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited have established their plants. The Western Australian Government has paid £4,000,000 to open up the channel through Parmelia and Success banks which opens up the whole of Cockburn Sound for the benefit of shipping. There is a deep water port there at which a naval establishment could be located. We do not ask for the construction of a complete naval base, but we ask for some start to be made, such as the provision of a small dry dock, on which we could build later developments.
I hope that the Government will examine this matter, which has been raised time and time again. It has certainly become a hardy annual with me. I beseech the Government to do something about it. I should also like the PostmasterGeneral to investigate the possibility of providing a radio telephone channel between Perth and Derby to give people in the north-west of Western Australia an opportunity to have efficient communication with the rest of Australia, which they now lack.
.- Before dealing with the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I should like to make some reference to the statements made by the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton). Early in his speech he made a most vicious attack on the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). In an attempt to reply to the statements made by the honorable member for Lalor in this chamber last night about the proposed sale of the whaling station in Western Australia, the honorable member for Canning found it necessary to refer to something that happened long before the honorable member for Lalor became a member of the Labour Cabinet which lost office in 1949. The fact that the honorable member for Canning had to dig into ancient history in an attempt to reply to the statements of the honorable member for Lalor, shows that those statements were devastating from the Government’s point of view. The honorable member for Canning had to have recourse to the tactics he used in an endeavour to retrieve the damage done by the honorable member for Lalor, but the fact is that all that the Government can say to justify the proposed sale of the whaling station is that it is in conformity, as the honorable member for Canning said, with the Government’s policy of de-socialization - in other words, it is in accordance with the Government’s policy of dissipating governmentowned interests, of handing over to its friends, at give-away prices, the various activities in which the Commonwealth has become engaged. The Government has hawked the Commonwealth line of steamers all over the world. It is true that the shipowners of this country offered to buy the line, but only at a bargain price. However, because the Commonwealth shipping line, like TransAustralia Airlines, grips the imagination of the general public, the Government was afraid of the public reaction to the disposal of the line at a low price. However, apparently the Government has agreed to sell the whaling station to somebody. It was quite obvious to me, as one who knows very little about the actual project, while I was sitting here last night listening to the speeches made on it, that the Government has made arrangements to sell the undertaking, and is disregarding an attempt by the Western Australian Government to come into the field. The reason is that the Government does not desire, apparently, to have any competition faced by the friend to whom the whaling station is to be handed.
That is all I have to say in respect to the questions raised by the honorable member for Canning, but I wish to make some references to the Governor-General’s Speech, -which gave an outline of the intentions of the Government during the coming sessional period. Early in the Speech there is a reference to difficulties that may occur in connexion with the passage of legislation through both Houses of the Parliament, and the
Governor-General suggested the appointment of an all-party committee to discuss constitutional problems presented by the present position of the Houses vis-a-vis each other. That matter has been thoroughly canvassed, and I do not propose to refer to it further, but I propose to refer to a statement made early in the Governor-General’s Speech in reference to two problems that face the country. His Excellency said -
The second can he described broadly as the economic problem . . .
During the recent election campaign the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) asked the people to give a mandate to his Government so that it could pursue the economic policy that it had inaugurated. The Government received a mandate in May, 1954, and when we come to look at the way in which the Government has handled it from the point of view of economics, it is quite obvious that lots of things have gone wrong. It is quite obvious to the general public that this Government, because of incapacity, and because of incompetence, has not faced up to the economic problems which are confronting this country at the moment, and indeed, have been confronting this country for a very long period. The Government has demonstrated that it has not the capacity to meet the problems that are confronting it.
We all can remember that the Prime Minister went to the Imperial Economic Conference in London last year. It is quite obvious that when he attended that conference, he was briefed. He was told what he had to do when he returned to Australia. Before and since he went to that conference he has changed course on several occasions but his basic policy, and the basic policy of his Government, has been a policy of deflation. We all know bow the great mass of the people will suffer if this policy is speeded up, because misery, degradation, and soul-depressing effects must follow from its overimplementation. Already we see the effects, particularly in Brisbane, where hundreds have been dismissed and hundreds have received notice of dismissal, not only from public works, but also from retail businesses. The Minister for Labour and
National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) rose here to-day at question time and said that the policy of this Government was full employment. He said that 50,000 vacancies were registered in the employment offices. They might have 50,000 vacancies; or it could be 500 vacancies. The point is that those vacancies require to be filled by skilled people. The Opposition refers to the subject of full employment, not only in relation to skilled people, but also in relation to those who are unskilled and semi-skilled. We refer to all those people who are being displaced at the moment. Many are out of work, and many more will be unemployed in the near future, because of the lack of funds at the disposal of governmental and semigovernmental bodies. The credit restriction policy of the Government is reflected already in unemployment in the retail sphere.
A directive has been issued by the Government in furtherance of its policy of deflation. That directive was issued for the purpose of imposing credit restrictions. The directive was accepted by the banks and finance companies. The Government’s followers in this House did not revolt against the directive. They accepted it even though it curtailed overdrafts, and they cheered when the Prime Minister referred to the curtailment of hire-purchase and time-payment systems. Many financial institutions reacted to this direction by immediately going into the investment market and looking for funds at 7 per cent, and 8 per cent, in order to get all the money that they required, money which they could re-invest in hire-purchase business. Apparently, the Government and all those who sit behind the Government believe that the Australian people are too prosperous; that they are enjoying too many luxuries. In consequence, we are told that this action must be taken. The Government wants to cut the cost of production but without reducing prices. Government supporters offered no objection when the Government indicated that interest rates on overdrafts were to be increased, because they apparently believed they were too low. The Government will do as the United Kingdom Government is doing. As I have said, it was decided at the Imperial Economic Conference that deflation should be intensified, and the big squeeze will lower the living standards of the great mass of the people in this country.
In August last, the Prime Minister made a statement on the economic position. As much ballyhoo was associated with that speech as if it were a world premiere of some special production from Hollywood. The Prime Minister informed us that the action that his Government was taking and the action that it proposed to take would be taken by Easter. That is only within the next few weeks. As I said earlier, the action that the Government proposed to take lias already failed, not only by reason of the unemployment in public works, but by reason of the employment position in many other classes of industry. The words that the Prime Minister uttered that night were prophetic of the misery of tens of thousands of Australians who thought that they were living in an era when full employment was the order of the day. So it looks to me as if the businessmen and small businessmen who have had their overdrafts reduced, the farmers who have been forced to reduce their overdrafts, the workers who have been put out of employment, and those who stand in the shadow of unemployment, all stand in the same position as that in which their counterparts stood in 1928, because of the illogical policy of this Government.
Just prior to the meeting of this Parliament we beheld the spectacle of eight economists from different parts of the Commonwealth making a pronouncement. It was quite obvious that the thing was part of an act of stage management, similar to the ballyhoo of August last. The general public had to be tested, and so the eight economists made their statement. But the thing was so obvious that even blind Freddie could have seen it, and the Prime Minister disowned it because it turned out to be a flop. In England, last year, the banks and their supporters kept harping on and calling for a policy of dear money. They said that the policy of cheap money should end. In other words, the dear-money policy which the banks and their sup porters have announced as a great cureall for our economic ills is to be the order of the day in this country. Kites have already been flown through the press. Even to-day and yesterday they were saying, “ We do not know what the cost will be but the Government is giving consideration to it “.
Dear money. It is a very nice phrase. It is a phrase that covers the real policy of the Government which has for its objective the cutting down of living standards in this country. Commodities are too easy to procure while cheap money is available, so we must make it difficult to procure those commodities. We in this country will see the Government following the United Kingdom in conformity, apparently, with what was decided at the Imperial Economic Conference. A direction was issued to cut back on overdrafts. Many of the banks obeyed. But some banks laughed at it. They completely ignored it, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) pointed out the other night. But the voices of the managers of the banks in the United Kingdom were heard in this country, and so we stand in the shadow of a rise in the interest rate on bank overdrafts. “ Higher taxation “, say the economists. “Higher interest rates”, cry the bankers. “ Take the money from the people “, they all cry.
It was obvious, even before this House rose for the election last year, that interest rates on bank overdrafts were to be increased. Last October, I asked the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) whether, if this Government were successful at the election, it intended to increase interest rates. He replied in one word, “ No “, knowing full well, the policy of his Government, knowing that it would follow the lead in Great Britain, and knowing that higher interest rates were on the way as a result of the conference to which I have referred. Ever since December the Government has been looking for the right moment at which to place a higher interest burden on a suffering business and farming community. Last night’s Melbourne Herald, had something to say on the subject. It is marvellous just how much the Melbourne Herald seems to have the ear of the Government. It is never very far off the beam. The extract read- -
The Federal Cabinet will consider soon a proposal for an increase of 1 per cent, in the bank overdraft rate in Australia and corresponding rise in other interest rates.
An increase in Australian bank rates almost at once is now certain. The only factor still indefinite is the amount of the increase.
Commonwealth’ Government advisers believe Cabinet’s hand has been forced by the recent decision to increase the bank rate in Britain.
This confirms what I have said. The report continues -
The decision will probably be between a relatively big rise of ] per cent, or whether it should be limited to 10s. per cent. [f Australia does not fall into line, the present differences in bank rates in Australia and Britain will impede the flow of capital into Australia and so aggravate balance of payments problems.
A decision is expected before Easter. lt would be put into effect through the Commonwealth Bank, which has the authority to control all bank interest rates.
A rise in bank rates will pose a problem for the Loan Council, which would have to decide whether to increase the Commonwealth bond rate to maintain the rough relationship that has generally prevailed between that of the bank rates.
If the bond rate were to remain unadjusted the already acute difficulties of raising enough money for State public works would become worse.
The Government is not concerned about what is happening in the field of public works or we should not have the spectacle of men being given dismissal notices. The Melbourne Herald further states -
Recently the loan Council raised the standard rate for semi-governmental loan flotations from 4f to 4i per cent.
A rise in the bond rate would almost certainly be accompanied by another increase in the semi-government interest rate.
New Commonwealth issues would be able to compete in the investment market, hut the move would have two effects the Government is anxious to avoid. It would:
Increase the annual public interest bill;
Reduce the market values of all current Commonwealth bonds which bear interest at 4^ per cent, or less.
Those bonds were taken out during the early stages of the war and after the war, when loans were fully subscribed. If the holders wish to cash them because of the increased cost of living, which this Government’s actions will step up still further, they will be penalized because of the additional interest burden of 1 pei cent. Higher interest rates are to be imposed upon the Commonwealth bond issue. The convertibility of such bonds will in future be seriously diminished. The extract which I have quoted should also have contained an intimation that the proposed increase of 1 per cent, in the interest rate will add to the cost of commodities and be reflected in the cost of living. Apparently this is one of the Government’s ways of putting into effect its so-called policy of checking inflation. Its talk of “dear money” and higher interest rates will merely add to the cost of living. That, of course, is one of its accepted methods of dealing with inflation. It hopes that this policy will check the demand for commodities - another way of reducing living standards.
The banking institutions which have accepted the Commonwealth Government’s direction to cut overdrafts by 20 per cent, will find that what they have lost on the gross loan swings they can pick up on the interest roundabout. In other words, an increase of 20 per cent, wall be payable by those who have overdrafts. Instead of playing about with higher interest rates which would have such dire results for this country, the Government should face its responsibility with regard to both public and private investment. If wholesale unemployment is being caused because loan moneys are not available for public works, why has the Government not faced the position? It is still not too late to deal with the problem of falling public investment and greatly increased private and capital investment, by instituting capital issue controls. The Government could then direct capital into fields where it could best serve the community, instead of certain vested interests. [Quorum formed.] Now that honorable members from the other side of the House have returned from their cups of tea-
Government supporters interjecting,
– This gives me an opportunity to direct the attention of the House to a most important matter that I had intended to place before it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I should like to begin by congratulating the new members on both sides of the House who made their maiden speeches. I think all of us will agree, wherever we sit, that we have been treated to an uncommonly good performance. They presage great things for this new Parliament, whether or not we agree with the views expressed. I think it is no exaggeration of language to say that, as a result of the influx of these new honorable gentlemen, this Parliament will be considerably better, more stimulating and less bitter than was the last one.
The Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, which we are debating on this motion for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply, is, by the nature of things, a comprehensive one. It may not be as specific on many points as one would desire, but, nonetheless, it foreshadows forceful action on several fronts in what I hope will be the near future. His Excellency’s Speech rightly devotes considerable attention to the intricate and grievous problem of the trade balance. I do not think that it can be reiterated too often that governments by themselves cannot correct this. There is a tendencycertainly not on the part of honorable members who are aware of these things, but of people outside of politic* - to look to the Government as the saviour of all the country’s economic illy. It is quite obvious that the Government, if it is going to carry out the functions for which it was designed, can merely create the conditions, give a lead, and develop a favorable climate for the solution of these difficulties. We heard last night the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), in a very thoughtful and forceful speech, declare what was being done and what he intended to do, in broad general principle. We all know that the Government has contributed fairly large sums of money already in the way of advertising Australi.au products abroad, of appointing quite a number of new trade commissioners in various parts of the world, and we also know from the Governor-General’s Speech that legislation is now being prepared for the intro duction of a system of export credits guarantee. So far, so good. But in their survey of the national and international economic problem, it seems to me that Ministers have apparently overlooked a potential - shall I say invisible - export that could be of very real and very important significance. I refer to the development of the tourist industry in this country.
Australians are either too modest or too indifferent to the possibilities of tourism here. Governments certainly, whatever their political complexion, have in the past been far too unimaginative. Here, surely all of us will agree, lies at our very front door a neglected source of wealth just as real as the oil, or gold, or coal or other minerals that lie under our ground. I should like to remind the House of the value of tourism to other countries. Without wearying honorable members with too many examples, I shall just quote three or four relating to some of the principal countries of the world. To begin with, take the United Kingdom. In 1953, 819,000 visitors came to the United Kingdom and spent there £110,000,000. In the following year that figure soared very markedly to £171,000,000, and last year, so I am informed, the receipts from tourists in the United Kingdom were just short of £200,000,000. For this year the total is expected to be approximately £213,000,000, and 1,125,000 visitors are expected in Great Britain. Then let us have a look at two continental countries. In Italy tourism was responsible for the expenditure in 1954 or £127,000,000. In 1955, which is the latest year for which I can get figures, there is an estimate that the total number of visitors will run into several millions. In France, in 1951, nearly 3,250,000 tourists visited that famous and beautiful country, and they spent in that year £156,000,000.
Now let us look at two of our sister Commonwealth countries. In Canada, in 1954, visitors spent to the tune of £140,000,000, and in South Africa in the same year - a country, of course, rather in the category of our own, being far distant from the great agglomerations of population - the total takings from visitors amounted to £18,500,000. I would also remind the House of another quite astounding figure: Americans alone, in their overseas excursions in the year 1953, spent no less than the amazing figure of 583 millions.
– Dollars or pounds?
– Pounds. All these figures that I have quoted are expressed in terms of Australian currency. Now compare this with the position in Australia. In 1954, we had a mere 51,000 visitors, and their estimated expenditure was only to the tune of £5,000,000.
I think that, from these examples that I have given, the House will agree that there is a tremendous source of potential wealth that we can tap if only the lead and imagination are shown to enable us to gather it in. What organization have we set up in this country for this purpose? First of all, as every honorable member will know, we have a tourist bureau in every State. Those of us who have had experience of these bodies will agree, I think, that they are efficient, and they are fairly resourceful, although, like so many other similar institutions, they could all do with rather larger sums of money. Then, on the Commonwealth side, there has been a certain degree, though quite an inadequate degree, of publicity through the News and Information Bureau and also the National Film Board. Thirdly, there is an unofficial body, a purely voluntary body, known as the Australian National Travel Association. This body was first established in 1929. It functions to-day under a small board, the services of the members of which are given in a purely honorary capacity. It is self-appointed. On it sit representatives of the air interests, of the shipping companies, and of business. But the activities of the Australian National Travel Association, as I shall try to show later on, which could be so very beneficial in promoting tourism in Australia, are curtailed through almost totally insufficient Government help. The contribution in the last budget to this organization was a mere £15.000. That is the sum which we are voting every year when we consider the Estimates for the Australian National Travel Association. In addition, another £5,000 has been offered by the Government if the association, by its own efforts, can raise a corresponding figure. Before the war, the Australian National Travel Association had representatives in the United Kingdom, the United States, India and New Zealand. The war came, and those offices, not unnaturally, had to be closed Since hostilities ended, there have not been sufficient funds available to the association to re-open them.
Again, let us make a comparison of the assistance which other governments are giving to bodies similar to the Australian National Travel Association. There is in England the British Travel and Holidays Association which every year receives a subsidy from Westminster of £940,000. In South Africa there is a Tourist Corporation to which the Government of that country accords £207,000. New Zealand has gone one stage further. There, there is a Government Department of Travel Promotion with an annual appropriation of something over £1,500,000. Of that sum, about £150,000 is spent on information, offices, films, publications and other allied things.
I am rising this afternoon to suggest that what we need now in this country is a resolute determination, with the trade crisis in which we find ourselves, to exploit those vast latent assets that lie within our own shores. It is no answer to this problem to say that the initiative should come from the States, the State tourist bureaux or the State governments, who, whatever we may say for the purposes of debate in this chamber, have not got any vast sums to spend. It is no solution to say that the States must do it. It seems to me that the impetus for this thing should come from this place where we sit in Canberra. Those of us who know the world, if we are honest, must surely admit that tourists will not come to Australia just by the geographical expression on the map, without any publicity or without any persuasion. Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, you have, to begin with, the initial hurdle of distance and the high cost of getting here from almost any country, with the exception of New Zealand or Indonesia. Secondly, those of us who have been abroad must be aware of the appalling ignorance of people, especially in the old world and in the United States, of the almost infinite variety of attractions that Australia can offer the visitor. I think that in the past we have been inclined to do far too much in advertising our deserts, our arid nature, our heat, our dust, our flies ; so much so that the people of England, and the people of northern Europe, the great majority of whom do not know about these things, tend to envisage Australia as a sort of sandy North Africa and, consequently, not worth spending several hundred pounds in coming right across the world to see.
Then, too, Ave must recognize the unenviable reputation - I am sorry to say this - of our hotels, our railways, the personal services available in this country, and also, until quite recently at any rate, of our oppressive liquor laws. I do not want to say very much on each of these matters, except to remind honorable members that by international standards, by world standards, there are hardly any hotels, even in our great capital cities, which we can regard as really first class. There is one in Melbourne, there are possibly one or two in Sydney - although I should be somewhat doubtful about it - and I know that my Queensland friends boast that there is one in Brisbane, but I have my doubts about that. I can assure the House that in Adelaide there is not anything approaching a single first-class hotel of international classification. There are perhaps two in that very pleasant city of Perth. There is one in Hobart - I am being most generous - in this category. But none of them, so far as the wealthy traveller is concerned, the type of British or American visitor who would be prepared to come here and really spend money, could be regarded in the international category as hotels de luxe.
Then again, sir, consider our railways from the visitors5 point of view. Of course, most of us have now given up travelling by train between States, but it is always a source of surprise to me that on what could be a famous train connecting the two great cities of Sydney and Melbourne, you still have, on the New South Wales side, in the main, sleepers which were not new when I first travelled as a very small boy in that train 40 years ago. Who will ever forget - again T am being rather critical - the jolting tracks of the narrow-gauge railways of Western Australia and Queensland, to say nothing of those parodies of railways in Tasmania? Who, too, can get over the surprise when travelling in that really very good and nicely, air-conditioned train - it is not an express - that runs every night between Melbourne and Adelaide, at finding there is no refreshment or restaurant car of any sort on the Victorian or South Australian side?
– That is the worst jolting train in- the Commonwealth.
– As the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) says, the track is bad, too. The point I am wishing to make, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, is that we in this country get accustomed to these relatively low standards, but if we are to make Australia an attractive tourist ground and thereby earn what I believe is possible - a very considerable sum of money to help in this trade crisis - we must immediately rectify these deficiencies and bring our hotels and transport up to a state commensurate with that of the rest of the world.
Sir, it is not enough, in dealing with a subject such as this, to make an analysis, to be declamatory, to point to faults, without constructive ideas. Accordingly, I should like to put the following proposals, all of which are quite practicable and could be put into effect speedily, before honorable members. To begin with, I suggest to the Government that it follow the example of what the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) did when he was Minister for Health in launching his insurance scheme. He worked through established bodies, and we similarly should adopt the principle of working through the Australian National Travel Association. To do that, it would be necessary to give it, perhaps, statutory recognition, to reconstitute it on a very much broader and more representative scale. I suggest that there should be on its board representatives of the Commonwealth and of each State, as well as members representing the air interests, railways, shipping, hotels, and also - and this is important in so large a matter - the trade unions. Secondly, sir, I .believe that the activities of the Australian National Travel Association a.nd of the State tourist bureaux should be co-ordinated in Canberra by - I hesitate to say this, because it will not be popular with many people - the establishment of a small department of tourism, which, for the sake of convenience, could be placed under the administration of the Minister for Trade.
Thirdly, if we are going to recognize the justice of these proposals, we, as a tt Parliament, must provide adequate funds for the Australian National Travel Association to function. I told honorable members earlier that this body was being given the mere pittance of £15,000 a year. 1 suggest at least ten times that sum, and, if necessary, £250,000 a year, so that it would be possible to undertake really imaginative, adequate and ubiquitous advertising overseas; so that it would be possible to establish travel offices in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as some of the principal countries of Asia - I have in mind India and, perhaps, Malaya particularly; and also so that it would bc possible to post really able travel representatives abroad to push our wares and make the millions of tho travelling public in other countries realize that Australia is one of the places to which they must go. Fourthly, sir, I suggest that the Government give consideration to a variety of taxation concessions to hotel companies with the object of promoting new construction, the improvement of hotels already in existence, and the building of hotels in what could become scenic resorts of world renown. We have many of them. Our friends from Queensland, 1 am sure, will be able to tell us, with their usual enthusiasm, of the variety of scenery available in North Queensland. I have been there myself. I agree with all their boasting about it.
– We do not want any more temperance hotels there, though.
– The honorable member will always find mu in agreement with him if ho attacks temperance hotels. We have the New South Wales coastlines - a seaboard which is completely unrivalled in any part of the world with which I have a reasonable acquaintance. We have the mountain resorts in New South Wales* and Victoria. We have the completely enchanting scenery of Tasmania, one nf the loveliest islands in civilization. We have the relatively unexplored and undeveloped parts of my own State of South Australia, such as the Flinders Ranges. We have the rugged grandeur of the south-western portions of Western Australia. All these areas are places that tourists would flock to, provided that reasonable accommodation, such as world travellers are accustomed to, was made available. Of course, whenever one talks to entrepreneurs, representatives of companies and hoteliers about these things, they say that the costs of building arc too high. There was a very good example of that in Adelaide, with which my friend the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. McLeay) will be more familiar than I am. In 1947, three projects for the construction of first-class hotels all had to be postponed indefinitely owing to the high building costs and the lack of finance. Again, we should think not only of the wealthy or well-to-do traveller, but also of the nian or woman who has not so much to spend and who requires good second-class accommodation, and of the motorist who prefers the American style of living in motels. These could very readily be provided for people of more moderate means. Fifthly, I suggest to the House that consideration be given to providing concessions on our various national transport services for overseas- travellers for a limited period of, say, three months.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First, I should like to congratulate our new colleagues on the quality of their maiden speeches. As so many earlier speakers have said, they have made excellent contributions, and I am sure they will continue that very good work. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), a short time ago, brought up one of the old bugbears about what was going to happen to the Commonwealth shipping line. To deal with that matter and another about which there has been a lot of propaganda and rumour - changes in the organization of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia - I can only say that, as neither of those two matters was mentioned in the Governor-General’”
Speech, one must presume that the Government has no intention of doing anything about them. The fact that they were not mentioned in His Excellency’s Speech should put a stop to some of the rumours that have been going about.
The Governor-General made considerable mention of defence in its various aspects, and I should like briefly to discuss a few defence matters. First - and this is not a very pleasant thing for me to have to do - I wish to place on record, not only on behalf of myself but also on behalf of a great many returned servicemen in my electorate, my regret at the fact that the newly appointed Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) is not an ex-serviceman. I do this quite deliberately. I have heard a number of reasons - whether they are genuine I cannot say - why an ex-serviceman was not appointed. To my mind, those reasons are merely specious. After all the arguments we have had, and our experience of a former Minister for the Army, Mr. Forde, during World War II., I should have thought that, at a time when units of our Army were on active service overseas, it would have been a desirable courtesy to them to give them the small comfort of knowing that the Minister for the Army was an ex-serviceman. In making these remarks, I wish to make it perfectly clear that I intend no personal reflection on the gentleman who was appointed Minister for the Army.
– I find him a very efficient Minister.
– He is probably extremely efficient. My comments would have been made about any other person who was not an ex-serviceman and who had been appointed to the position in similar circumstances.
In thinking of defence, we should consider what is happening to the national service training scheme and should ask ourselves whether it is fulfilling the purpose for which it was intended. A considerable number of comments made to me by men who are well up in the Citizen Military Forces suggest to me that the scheme is not completely effective and that, although we are building up a large number of supposedly basically trained men, we are building them up only on paper. I think that, with the exception of the Royal Australian Regiment, our Army forces exist largely on paper, i do not think that they could be called up as quickly as they may be needed, or that, if they were called up, they could be adequately equipped. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) stated a little earlier that he considered the naval defences in Western Australia were inadequate. It is my opinion that * the Navy has not, and will not have, the kind of equipment it would require should, hostilities break out in the comparatively near future. The Royal Australian Air Force has some obsolescent jet aircraft, which can operate under operational conditions only within the limits imposed by the speed and range of a Dakota transport squadron, which provides the only air supply support available for them. That naturally limits their own range of operation. I can only repeat what I have said in this House before, that it is time that the Royal Australian Air Force was equipped with a long-range heavy transport unit, because without such a unit its other squadrons tend to become comparatively useless.
I am not alone in these criticisms of the state of our defences. My candid opinion is that, by comparison with what has happened in the rest of the world with international developments, our defences are no better than they were in 1939. In the last few days there has been, in the House of Commons, criticism of the state of the United Kingdom defence forces, which are claimed to be no better than they were in 1946, but I do not think that ours, on a purely comparative basis, are better than they were in 1939, bearing in mind international developments. In fact, of course, they are much better than they were then. We do not know what is happening in the field of nuclear weapons. We can only hope that the work that is being done on them is good and that we will get production in quantity fairly quickly. I should like to mention another important aspect of defence, namely civil defence, which in any war of our present time would play a tremendously important part. In fact, it would be the factor which would decide whether we were to survive, whether we would be able to last long enough to .strike back. I do not know what is happening about it, and neither does the country. We have been told that certain committees have been established to investigate these matters, but we do not know what is happening. I believe that it is the Government’s duty to keep the country informed, and well informed, on the steps that are being taken on these lines.
Another matter which I connect with defence and which I have mentioned in this House before is, to a large extent, a mutter of moral defence, and possibly one of the most useful ways in which we can assist to defend ourselves. I repeat that T think we have only a comparatively few. effective years left in which to destroy completely the idea in the minds of our Asian neighbours that we have a White Australia policy. It is of no use to call it by another name. Until such time as we have a very restricted quota of Asian immigrants we will perpetuate in tb.2 minds of Asian neighbours a very great piece of dangerous propaganda. I hope that something will be done about that in the fairly near future, because unless something is done soon, I cannot but feel in my heart that it will be too late.
Having mentioned briefly the defence of the country, I should like to say a few words about the defence of this Parliament. The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) a few days ago gave us a few of his thoughts on the matter. I believe that it is time this Parliament gave some serious thought to what is happening to it. I should like to know whether we consider that, as a Parliament, we have, over a period, a future. I am not by -any means alone in my fear of the future. Over the course of the first half of this century there has been quite a decline in parliamentary standards and in the real use of the Parliament. Probably one of the best books that have been written on the subject is that by Lord Chief Justice Hewart called The New Despotism. Professor Keeton, in The Passing of Parliament, made a very strong contribution; and Christopher Hollis, in Can Parliament Survive?, has also given us some very valuable reading matter. An article was printed fairly recently by the former Clerk of this House, Mr. Frank Green, which he called “ Changing Relations Between Parlia ment and the Executive”. There was some extraordinarily interesting reading in it. Many people who have studied this question are of the opinion that Parliament is slipping. I shall go back as far as June, 1938, when, in The Australian Quarterly, there was an article headed “ The Decline of Parliamentary Government - a Protest “, and the author was John Curtin, the former Prime Minister of this country. In the article he gave reasons for thinking that Parliament was declining, and I would say that they come broadly under three headings. In the first place, one of the dangers or threats to this Parliament is the behaviour, on some occasions, of its members, and on other occasions the derogatory comments that are made by members about this Parliament. I should like to quote a recent newspaper report of a wireless broadcast by the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell),, who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The report is headed “A Lot of Nonsense “, and reads - “Medieval nonsense” was how the opening of Federal Parliament last week was described yesterday by thu Deputy Federal Labour Leader ( Mr. Calwell ) . . . . “ Lace cravats, buckled shoes, knee breeches, long-bottomed wigs and a lot of other medieval nonsense well characterized the scene in the Senate chamber as the Governor-General proceeded to read the Speech prepared for him by the Government”, Mr. Calwell said.
I do not think that a statement of that sort about this Parliament should be allowed to pass without some comment. I can only say, in a slightly more humorous vein, that if the time ever came when the honorable gentleman graced the Speaker’s chair it would be a great benefit to the House if he were somewhat hidden in a full-bottomed wig. Apart from that, I think that derogatory comments made about Parliament constitute one of the dangers that it faces.
A second danger comes from the growing power of the Executive and the change in the relationship between the Executive and the Parliament. The reasons for this shifting power and the change of relationship come from a number of sources, and mainly, I think, from the fact that in the two world wars many extra powers were given to the Executive. In recent years planned controls have been introduced, some of them because of war-time conditions, and some as deliberate socialistic measures by members of the Opposition when they were in government. At the same time we have seen the Executive having to enter fields of social services and health, which quite naturally has greatly widened the range of activities with which it normally deals. Although some of these war-time measures were repealed, many of them have not been, and in the course of the last 20 or 30 years we have to a far greater extent had legislation by regulation. I believe that that is a matter to which this Parliament should pay some attention. A government formed by members from our side of the House normally tends to sit less often than do others. I think that all Cabinets tend to look on Parliament as being a bit of a nuisance and believe that the less it sits the better. I think that those are the views of Ministers. I believe that there was a time when Parliament sat for only three weeks in a year. I should hate the sitting period to be reduced even as low as it was last year, when in my view the Parliament did not sit long enough to enable it to fulfil its functions. It is no good saying that the work is not there to be done. I know that this Government does not believe in over-governing the country, and with that sentiment I am in complete agreement; but there is a tremendous volume of work to be done in the fields of revising existing laws, and checking over in the Parliament and debating regulations that are imposed without Parliament’s attempting to do its duty of examining them and raising queries on any that might be at all dangerous. The widening field of legislation by regulation is, in itself, a danger to Parliament.
Then there is another danger which arises from the fact that, in recent years, the work of governments has become so complex that it requires the services of experts. To a large extent, the members of this Parliament are not qualified to argue with the experts from the departments on many points. I feel that the Ministers themselves are not qualified to argue, either. I think there would be a great advantage in having Ministers who knew something about their departments. As the position stands now, a Minister tends automatically to regard an attack on his department or on his policy as an attack on himself. The only defence that he has is the advice given to him by his experts. “With all due deference to the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), that, to my mind, means that the members of Cabinet get closer to their experts than they get to the members of the Parliament. I believe there is a real danger in that.
At the present time, we have what I consider to be the fantastic set-up of three departments - the Treasury, the Prime Minister’s Department, and the Department of Trade - all building up their secretariats. I do not know whether this is an empire-building contest, or what it is. Quite frankly, I am not concerned whether the senior public servants concerned are ardent conservatives or benighted socialists. The point is that the influence of the public servants is coming in and, to my mind, interfering with Parliament. We see it in a physical sense in that members are tossed out of their rooms so that Ministers’ secretaries can move in. I hope that the Prime Minister will set up a committee to investigate that. I think the true solution of the problem is to provide a separate wing. It could be very close to Parliament House, or it could be a part of the building itself. But we must have a completely separate executive wing, so that we shall not continue to have this mix-up. The Government realized that when, a few years ago, it stopped outside committees from holding meetings in the Parliament’s committee rooms. It was high time for it to be stopped.
I want to read an extract from an article written by Mr. Green, the ex-Clerk of this House. He was associated with the Parliament from 1922 until just recently. He was a splendid friend to many honorable members, and I hope that the work he did for the Parliament during his period of office “will receive due recognition. I know that the former honorable member for Henty made that suggestion to the Prime Minister, but I do not know whether the suggestion has been, or will be, acted upon. Mr. Green wrote as follows : -
Before concluding, I think I should confess that, in my opinion, the process of effective parliamentary government has diminished further in Australia, than in any other: democracy, and the reason for this is, to a considerable degree, due to something that has taken place at Canberra but which has not occurred elsewhere - the actual physical intrusion of the executive into Parliament.
He pointed out that originally it was intended that the administrative officers should be housed in the administrative building, but apparently somebody forgot to lay the foundations. As a result, Ministers and their staffs have been here ever since. When the Parliament moved from Melbourne, it was never intended that administrative staff should be housed in this building. I hope that the committee will be able to do something about these problems, because I think they are really important.
Possibly the greatest danger to our parliamentary system is the domination of Parliament by outside political parties. The late Mr. Chifley, as the Leader of the Opposition, was dictated to by an outside body in relation to the policies that he should support or oppose in this Parliament. If that is allowed to occur, we must make some great changes in our ideas about what the Parliament is. The Queensland central executive of the Labour party is telling the Cabinet in Queensland, where the Labour party is in power, what it shall do. The executive is not saying, “ This is party policy, and it is up to you to decide whether -now is the time to put it into operation “. When the Queensland Cabinet said, “ This is not in the economic interests of Queensland “, the Queensland central executive of the Labour party replied, “ We shall decide that matter, not you. You go in there and introduce the legislation “.
– Does not the Liberal party discuss policy at its conventions and conferences?
– I am not talking about that, as the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) well knows. I am talking about directives from the Queensland central executive of the Labour party to the Queensland Labour Government. The day when any body of parliamentarians, -as a party, is prepared to accept dictation from a body outside Parliament is the day that we should ask ourselves, “Do we want a managerial state or not ? “
I believe that we must look this problem squarely in the face now. If we accept the proposition which apparently is accepted by my good friend from Brisbane - a proposition that I regard as deplorable - then “ the public should be asked to vote for either a Liberal party executive or a Labour party executive, and we should do away completely with the idea of a parliament. This is not a speech that I have thought up to-day. It has been running through my mind for a long time. I remember that in 1953 I wrote a letter to the president of the Liberal party in Queensland, in which I expressed the view that, if these things were to happen, the best thing to do would be to elect executives and stop trying to fool the public with the idea that a parliament was of any use at all.
– Will the honorable member table the letter?
– I said other things as well as that in the letter. I am sure the honorable member for Melbourne would not be interested in the nice things.
I conclude by quoting again from -Mr. Green’s article. Mr. Green maintained that it was the duty of members of Parliament, and of all people interested in politics, to ask, “ Are we sure of what we are doing?” and - this is an even more fundamental question - “Are we aware of what we are doing? “ Mr. Green stated further -
If a system of what Mr. James P. Burnham styled “ the Managerial State “ is more to our advantage, then let us proclaim it, rather ‘ than foster it behind the Parliament’s back.
I hope that the committee which the Prime Minister is considering will have a useful life.
.- The soulless document which we are discussing indicates, in the fourth paragraph, precisely what the Government thinks the Parliament has assembled to attend to. The paragraph states -
In the Session of Parliament . . . there will be two important groups of matters which will call for consideration. The first embraces foreign policy and the related defence measures which can make that policy effective. The second oan be described broadly as the economic problem.
Then about six pages are devoted to an elaboration of those two themes. I should have imagined that a government that had any regard for the real interests of the people would include in its legislative programme some matters which touched the generality of the community much more closely than those two matters.
– Is the honorable gentleman suggesting that economic policy does not do that?
– I shall deal with economic policy presently. I will not talk about the managerial revolution. 1 will talk about the professorial revolution which has been achieved - very successfully, too - in recent times. I am concerned primarily with the interests of the age and invalid pensioners who, in these days of rising costs, are faring very badly, but apparently the Government is not concerned with their interests. It does not propose to do anything for war pensioners, and it has said nothing about easing the means test for the benefit of those persons who are on fixed incomes. Moreover, it has not any proposals to offer to the Parliament for increasing child endowment.
– The GovernorGeneral’s Speech was not a budget speech.
– The honorable gentleman would not understand it, irrespective of what kind of speech it was. When the Parliament is opened, the programme that is outlined deals with the broad general matters that call for consideration, and such other matters as are of major importance.
– It should do so.
– Of course it should make some reference to such matters. Age and invalid pensioners find it impossible to live on what they are getting to-day. What does the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), who is sitting at the table, care about age and invalid pensioners? N”ot many of them reside in the electorate that he represents, so he can be completely indifferent to their welfare and be as harsh towards them as he is towards honorable members who want to express their views on public questions from time to time. The giving of assistance to mothers who are rearing children is a very important matter. Child endowment has not been increased since 1949.
– The honorable member opposed the payment of child endowment for the first child.
– In 1949, the miserable amount of 5s. was granted for the first child, and it has not been raised since. Moreover, the payment for second and subsequent children has not been increased, despite the fact that during the term of office of the present Government, costs have risen very greatly. The much derided Chifley £1, which was worth 12s. lid. in 1949 as a result of Australia’s participation in World War II., during which, from 1942 to 1945, 500,000 men served continuously, was sneered at by Government supporters when they were in opposition. The Government promised to put value back into the Chifley £1. That £1, which was worth, as I have stated, 12s. lid. in 1949, has been converted into the Menzies £1, which wa~ worth 7s. 5d. in July, 1955, and which, of course, is worth less to-day. The Government should consider the needs of the most helpless, the most defenceless, and the most needy sections of the community before it embarks on a lot of grandiose schemes such as those that were considered by the last Parliament and those that will be considered by this Parliament.
– Will the honorable member name some of them and not speak so generally?
– I remind the honorable member of the sum of £23,000,000 that is being wasted on the ammunitionfilling factory at St. Mary’s in New South Wales. That money could have been spent in a much better way.
– That statement appeared in the Tribune a little while ago.
– A lot of statements have appeared in the Tribune from time to time, and I have no doubt that the right honorable gentleman has agreed with the Tribune on occasions.
– I have never agreed with it.
– The right honorable gentleman attended vodka parties at the Russian embassy after he became a Minister. I have seen photographs of supporters of the Government with Ambassador Lifanov on Russia’s national day toasting Stalin’s health and wishing success to the Russian revolution. The right honorable gentleman should not talk about what the Tribune says or what any other Communist newspaper has to say.
I am glad to note that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is now in the chamber. Last night I listened to his lugubrious diatribe against the United Kingdom and the United States of America. He moaned for more than twenty minutes - if he does not mind my so describing his rather fitful outburst against the United States and the United Kingdom - because, first, the United States was disposing of its surplus products and, secondly, because the United Kingdom would not buy our goods at our price. I sympathize with the Minister in his desire to promote trade. Everybody wants to see Australia export moro and reduce the cost of its commodities by legitimate means. But when the Minister attacks the United Kingdom for not purchasing our wheat and the United Kingdom and other countries for subsidizing wheat production, he must not forget that ‘we, too, subsidize wheat production. We have a guaranteed homeconsumption price for wheat; and wc subsidize the production of butter.
– The Australian Labour party sold wheat to New Zealand for 5s. 9d. a bushel when the London price was 9s.
– That is so, and ii might have been to our benefit, but at that time the present Minister for Trade attacked the Labour Government because it was not demanding from the British Government 19s. a bushel for our wheat, which was the price Britain was forced to pay at that time to Argentina.
– That statement is completely untrue.
– It is on record. The right honorable gentleman has forgotten all about it, but I shall turn up Hansard and prove to him that my statement is correct. I have a very good memory- -
I need one, because I have to try to survive in Australian politics - and I can remember very well a lot that has been said in the past which honorable members opposite would very much like to forget. What is the corollary of the Minister’s” argument. When he argues that America should not export its surplus products at a price which is not fairly competitive, and that it should consider our interests and not its own, he is really arguing for a system that is reminiscent of what happened in 1929 and during the subsequent depression years. America has a huge surplus of all kinds of foods due to the phenomenon that it has become a great primary producing country in the post-war years. The United States is spending millions of dollars on the construction of storage - refrigerated space and silos - to store eggs, butter, wheat, corn, and all the other foodstuffs that the bounty of nature has permitted it to accumulate. I have been informed that sufficient eggs are now stored in America to supply the normal needs of the American people for the next ten years even though not one fowl in that country were to lay one egg in that period.
America is holding great quantities of wheat, and it must dispose of that wheat at whatever price it can get, give it away to large sections of the world’s people who are not able to buy anything and who are living at mere subsistence levels, or destroy it. Does the Minister suggest that America should now destroy its wheat and its butter in the same way that it burnt wheat and Brazil burnt coffee, and in the same way that America and Europe killed thousands of pigs and thousands of head of cattle in the depression years in order to keep prices up? Is ‘it suggested that we should return to that state of affairs? When the Bruce Government was in office, the cry was “ Produce, produce, produce “, but when the . crisis came the slogan was “Reduce, reduce, reduce”. This Government is asking the world to reduce its production and to destroy its surpluses so that we can maintain our primary industries in a condition of stability. That is a policy of bankruptcy. The Government ought to think of a better policy, because it will not be able to sell that one to the world. Moreover, I do not think it will be able. to convince the Australian people that it would be humane for America not to dispose of its surplus products in any way that it thinks proper to help to feed hungry humanity wherever it is to be found and thus help to build a resistance in such countries against the onrush of communism and to ally the peoples of those countries with the cause of “Western democracy. “We have our own problems in this country. We have been told by certain professors that the evils from which we are suffering are due to the fact that we have too much money chasing too few goods. There is a great fallacy in that argument as applied to Australian primary products. We have 120,000,000 sheep and approximately 15,000,000 head of cattle, but we have only 9,000,000 people ; yet, one cannot obtain cheap beef or lamb anywhere. To-day, lamb chops cost 6s. per lb. - from ls. to ls. 3d. for each chop.
– Where ?
– Anywhere in Australia, and particularly here in Canberra. All other sheep-meat is in like proportion as regards cost to the public. It all costs much the same. Before I entered the chamber I rang a Canberra butcher to find out, seeing we have 15,000,000 head of cattle in the country for 9,000,000 people, how much it costs a pound for top-quality beef. He told me that the retail price was 5s. 8d. per lb. in Canberra for top-quality beef, and 2s. 6d. per lb. for the lowest quality. That is not due to too much money chasing too few goods, because the goods are here in plenty. Does not that prove the fallacy of the arguments of the brains trust, which the Government has appointed to find it a way out of the difficulties into which it has landed this “country?
– It is all camouflage.
– Of course, the Government is trying to camouflage the position, but it cannot camouflage it for much longer, because we shall soon know the worst, and probably the people will be told that they have too much spending power, and that some of it must be skimmed off. If the people were allowed to keep their surplus spending power they would at least save some of it, but the Government intends, when it takes that surplus,, not to freeze it; it will not put it away in some account where its non-use would relieve the position. All that money will be expended by the Government, and itsexpenditure will promote further inflation.
– We shall have togive it to Mr. Cahill, the Premier of New South Wales.
– I should not expect the right honorable gentleman to know too much about Mr. Cahill or any oneelse.
– I know enough about him.
– Tes, and you went down to Sydney last night to help him to win the State election on Saturday, by speaking against him.
There are a few other observations that I want to make because, whatever the Government has to put before the country, it does not seem able to make it clear where it is going, what it intends to do, or whether its proposals will be of any advantage to the people. I think that the community is entitled to answers to a number of questions. First, it is entitled to know whether there is to be a further cut in imports, whether interest rates - that is, the price of money - are to be further increased, whether incomes arc to be taxed more heavily, whether sales tax is to be steeply increased, whether excise duties on beer, spirits, tobacco, cigarettes and cigars are to be taken to an even higher level, and whether seme, or all, of these things are to be done at the instance of a Government that was elected six years ago on a promise to put value back into the £1 and to combat, and defeat, inflation.
– And re-elected several times since then.
– As the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), in a rare burst of intelligence, says, “ And re-elected several times since “. ‘ But it is true that the promises to put value back into the £1, and defeat inflation, which were first made in 1949, have been reiterated at every general election since.
– Is the honorable member advocating those measures?
– I am not advocating those things, but I want to know from the Government what it intends to do. I should like also to know what is going to happen if, after all these expedients have been resorted to, the economy gets worse instead of better, or, at the very best, does not improve. What will the Government do then? It certainly will not resign. That is certain, but it may drag the country down into the abyss before it is eventually thrown out. I heard the timid, frightened little voice of an incipient rebel putting forward some sort of protest a moment or two ago about the things that are happening here. Well, maybe he will join a full-blooded revolt, one of these days, from the back benches on the Government side, in an endeavour to find some way out of the impossible position into which this impossible Government has landed the country. There will be unemployment. There is unemployment in Great Britain, where another conservative government misrules and helps to ruin a very good country.
– I remember that the honorable gentleman at one time advised the people to spend all their money by Christmas. He may have to eat this statement as he had to eat the one he made on that occasion.
– Why does not the Vice-President of the Executive Council give an accurate account of what I really did say ? I said to the people, “ Spend as much as you can, while you can, because prices are going to rise”. And they did rise! Who got the benefit of the’ rise ? Not the people who kept their money in the savings bank, but the financial friends of this Government, the people who, at all times, help the parties now in office during their election campaigns.
The first disgraceful thing the Government did after it was elected to office six years ago was to remit to timber importers £200,000 in duties collected on imported timber. All that money went into the hands of the importers. There was no obligation on them to pass the money on to the people who had bought the timber from them and, in many cases, it was not physically possible to do so. So the remission of the duties was a handout by the Government to its friends. The Government has repeated that tactic all along the line, with Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, with the Ainslie Hotel, with the Glen Davis shale oil undertaking, and so on. So the VicePresident of the Executive Council should not ask me to remember what I said. I know what I said, and why I said it. I have said what is happening in England, and that could be repeated here. I heard on the radio early this morning that the Rootes group of motor manufacturers in England is now manufacturing for only four days a week. Its export market has gone. When trouble starts, it has a habit of being cumulative in its ill effects, and that could happen here. If unemployment increases here, as it will if the spending power of the community is reduced by further heavy tax imposts, both direct and indirect, and if the importation of essential goods is further drastically curtailed, the Parliament and the nation can expect only a variation of the Premiers plan. The national income for 1949, when the Chifley Government left office, was £1,958,000,000. Last year, it was £4^000^000,000, and the year before it was £3,786,000,000. The amount invested in public undertakings in 1949 was £137,000,000 as against £299,000,000 invested by private enterprise, in 1955, the total of public investment was more than £412,000,000, but the amount invested by private enterprise was more than £833,000,000. In other words, the amount of the national . income invested in public works was three times as great in 1955 as it was in 1949. The increase in the amount invested by private enterprise was almost as great, but private enterprise does not build roads, railways, schools, hospitals or airports, nor does it construct harbours and provide shipping facilities in rivers and harbours. It does not provide water supplies and sewerage facilities. Private enterprise puts its buildings and plants in undeveloped areas, and throws the responsibility for the provision of roads and homes and other facilities on to State and local authorities, and the responsibility for financing such activities on to the Commonwealth.
We find that the Government is assisting private enterprise more than it is assisting State governments to do the work that is essential for the future well-being of Australia. The erection of luxury buildings is being encouraged. The Hilton hotel chain is to erect in Manly, near Sydney, at a cost of £4,000,000, a building for social parasites. A new- hotel, to cost £1,250,000, is to be built at Surfers’ Paradise, in Queensland, for the same purpose. An amount of £3,000,000 is to be expended in the next two years by the Commonwealth on television, and as much or more by private enterprise. All that money should be spent on homes, hospitals, roads and all the other things that are far more essential to the future development and defence of this nation. These new luxury hotels render no real community service at all. They are there for those who are luxury-minded. Whilst that is permitted to continue, the new Minister for Shipping and Transport (Senator Paltridge) told us in a press release last week that this country needs £1,000,000,000 to be spent on its roads in the next ten years. He told us that we needed to spend something over £500,000,000 on new roads and something over £400,000,000 on the improvement and maintenance of existing roads. Where is that vast sum to come from if people are to be allowed to divert labour, materials and finance from necessities to luxuries?
I refer, in passing, to the “golden mile “ of my own city of Melbourne, which I have the honour to represent here. But I am elected by the democratic fringe and not by the tycoons who operate inside the “ golden mile “. However, I am told that there are plans and blueprints in architects’ offices for the expenditure of £100,000,000 on buildings in that area. The same is true of Sydney and other places. Yet State governments can get only £36,000,000 annually of loan money to build houses for the people, and they probably have had nothing like £300,000,000 since the war. I think that they have had about £220,000,000. The money which private enterprise is spending on luxury buildings and on big houses in various parts of Australia has amounted to £1,050,000,000 between 1947 and 1954.
– What would the honorable member for Melbourne do? Would he confiscate their wealth?
– No, I would not confiscate their wealth. But if we had a proper system of government in thicountry, we would have more power vested in the Federal Parliament so that we could control capital issues and interest rates, and so that we could draw up a proper system of priorities. We may be able to go on like this for a few more years, and then we shall have an awful crash. That is when the Communists will come in. Communism will grow again, because it is not possible to keep denying ex-servicemen their rights under the war service legislation nor civilians their rights also to homes. The Government cannot keep telling returned soldiers that they must wait two years before their applications can be considered. It must, not force them, if they want to buy or build their home, to pay 10 per cent, to money-lenders and money-grubbers for financial accommodation.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to comment quite briefly on the amendment that has been proposed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The honorable member for Lalor has proposed that the following words should be added to the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply: . . in the opinion of this Housie, th* Government should at once terminate all negotiations for the sale or disposal of any of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission located at Carnarvon in Western Australia.
The position of the Australian Labour party, not surprisingly, is revealed to be quite contradictory. A leading member of the party has moved that the Government should take no steps to dispose of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission, and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has been badgering me, at the same time, to offer to dispose of these assets to the Western Australian Government. How on earth they reconcile those requests, no one can comprehend. Of course, they are not capable of being reconciled, so ‘ the whole incident is revealed as no more than a political demonstration in order to try to score a point. ,
The position of the Government on this matter is quite clear. The whaling station was established by the Chifley Government. It was established, so it was announced, in order to demonstrate that there was an opportunity on the Australian coast to conduct a coast-based whaling operation with a company adequately capitalized, and technically wellequipped, with “ know-how “ and machinery. That has been done. I wish to subtract nothing from the credit that might well go to my predecessor in office, the honorable member for Lalor, who was, L think, the moving figure in the establishment of this station. I take opportunity to say that the chairman of the commission, Mr. Bowes, has been a very efficient officer of the government services and has turned out to be a really firstclass production man and business man in this arena of production. We all can feel well indebted to him.
The station has achieved success on two counts - in its own operation and in demonstrating what might be done by others. It has influenced the establishment of, and has influenced the type of equipment used in the establishment of other whaling stations - two on the eastern coast, and additions to two others on the west coast of Western Australia. Indeed, another one is in prospect. I refer to the prospect of establishing a whaling station at Norfolk Island.
The Australian nation is committed by an international treaty not to take more whales from the waters contiguous to its coast than will conserve adequately the breeding stocks of those whales. There has been very sad experience in the denuding of whale stocks in the northern hemisphere. In fact, one vt:ry important variety of whale has entirely disappeared from the seas through over-fishing in the northern hemisphere. We concur with the policy of conservation, and observe it strictly, but that policy has now been carried to a point at which every whale has been taken from Australian coastbased stations that can be taken, having regard to proper conservation policy. Therefore, there is no longer any scope for endeavouring to inspire capital in this country to establish additional whaling stations. In fact, there is equipment capable of taking more whales than the Government feels prepared to permit to be taken from the sea. So this station has served its purpose and could be continued now for no other purpose than the purpose of a government owner operating as an ordinary producer. It has not even the advantage that might be quoted in regard, say, to airlines, of a competitor, in a competitive field. Whaling is not a competitive field. Almost the entire production of whale oil is exported to world markets. There is no benefit in competition in this particular industry. I think it could well be argued that there is more advantage in monopoly as a means of avoiding overhead expenses. There is no advantage in the Government’s maintaining competition there.
– That is possibly what the Government is aiming at.
– It is not what we are aiming at in the slightest degree. What we are aiming at, we are prepared to state clearly and openly. We are aiming at practising the policy upon which the people of Australia elected us. That is a non-socialist policy. Here, what I would be prepared to describe as a reasonable action of government in setting up a demonstration unit having been discharged, the Government is now prepared to dispose of it, and look at the possibility of turning to some other product of the sea, maybe, to ascertain whether there is an opportunity for the Government to show what can be done with it. Products that are known to exist in substantial quantities in Australian waters include tuna, pil- chards, prawns and various other kinds of fish that are not being exploited to any substantial extent. I point to the fact that the Government’s encouragement of crayfish tail exports has given this country an important industry which provides much employment and earns us the equivalent of £2,000,000 a year in dollars. I say openly that I am quite anxious that if other individuals will not of their own initiative come in, in the first place, and develop these other opportunities for seafood production, the Government should give some lead, encouragement, inspiration or demonstration to them.
So far as whaling goes, the Government can in the future do no more than conduct a normal production unit, and as a nonsocialist Government we are not prepared to do that. Therefore, we said, quite freely and openly just on three and a half years ago, that, because the whaling station had performed its function, it was for sale. That has been made clear out of my mouth as Minister, and in widely published statements, which produced inquiries from people engaged, in whaling and from others who had not. previously thought of doing so. We made it quite clear to the Western Australian Government, too. To all of them we said, “ All we want to do is to lay all the cards on the table. Come along; we will show you the details of our operations, take you to the whaling station, and give you all particulars of our costs and revenue. If you would like to make us an offer we would be receptive to it”. We have not wanted to inspire foreigners to make an offer. I made it quite clear from the outset that we wanted to sell the undertaking to Australians. I made it quite clear also that if the Government of Western Australia made an offer, we would recognize that State as a sovereign State, and no matter what our views about socialization might be, we would give it the same opportunity as we would any one else - no greater and certainly no less an opportunity - to buy the station. The Western Australian Government of the day said that it did not want to buy it. There were fluctuations in the value of whale oil and various whale products and there seemed to be a diminution of interest until the last twelve months, in which there has been a resurgence, and we have received new inquiries. Upon those inquiries coming in I again took the explicit step of writing to all those who, on the evidence, were likely to be interested.
– Did the Minister write to the State governments again?
– No. Surely I have not to write to a State government and tell it what it ought to know. If they are too dumb to do that for themselves it is hopeless to try to do business with them. We are within sight of the commencement of a new whaling season. The Government thought that by about now it ought to have in its possession whatever offers were to be made. It has had the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission valued by our own Treasury people and by outside valuers. It has done this so that it will he able to compare the offers with valuations from a variety of sources.
– What is the approximate value?
– I am not going to say that, but the investment in the station exceeds £1,000,000. The outstanding indebtedness to the Treasury is now substantially less than that sum. In view of the fact that tenders for the purchase of the station are literally competitive the honorable member would not want me to state publicly our valuation of it.
– Surely there would be goodwill, and it would have a value?
– Of course there is goodwill. A licence to take 500 whales a year is available and every one -who is willing to consider making an offer regards it as one of the important assets of the commission. It would be ridiculous to sell the physical assets without giving an assurance to either the government or the private enterprise which bought them of a continuance of the right to take whales.
– When will the last balance-sheet be tabled?
– I am sorry. I ought to have put myself in a position to answer that, but I will inform the honorable member within an hour. The last balancesheet is available and so, too, are those for previous years. The Western Australian Government has, concurrently with its election campaign, suddenly displayed interest in, and political concern about, this matter. I refuse to believe that that Government was the only organization in this country that did not know the Commonwealth Government, was -willing to sell the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission. I have not the faintest doubt that it did know. It seems to be something of a curious political coincidence that this renewed interest synchronizes with an election campaign. Whatever might be the motive behind the renewed interest of the Western Australian Government, I have made it clear that we shall consider an offer and will, by every reasonable means, facilitate an assessment by that Government of the value of the enterprise. I have promised to send over, if the Premier wishes me to do so, a very senior officer from my department to give every bit of information needed. I shall try to get him on an aircraft to-morrow if the Premier so wishes, but this Government cannot be expected, as a result of an inquiry at such a late hour, to hold up every one else involved to a point of time when the successful bidder cannot make the arrangements preliminary to the very big operation of taking 500 whales from the sea over three months. That must be understood.
The Premier of Western Australia has to-day suggested to the Prime Minister that this Government should hold the matter over until the 31st March. The Prime Minister, on my suggestion, and foi’ reasons that I have been canvassing here this afternoon, has asked him to make up his mind by the 15th March. I do not think that that is an unreasonable request. I now learn that the financial year of the Australian Whaling Commission ends on the 31st March and that the annual report will be tabled in Parliament as soon as possible after that date.
– We have not yet had the financial statement for the period to the end of March, 1955.
– It was tabled last October.
– The last report obtainable is the sixth. The seventh is expected at the end of March. The sixth covers the operations that ended on the 31st March, 1954. The report of the 1955 operations is now due. It will be the seventh report.
– Before I sit down 1 hope that I will be able to put the position quite clearly, because I have no wish to mislead honorable members. There is ample scope for argument about, socialization, as opposed to the political philosophies for which this Government stands. I do not think that it is necessary to argue those matters here and now. It is quite clear that the Labour party stands for socialization. The honorable member for Lalor himself was quoted to-day by my friend, the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton). The honorable member for Lalor made a considered speech some years ago, and I remember quite clearly the words he used, “ Go on and on until we transform this country into a co-operative socialized community “. Those were not exactly the honorable member’s words, but they are pretty close to them. That is ‘all right; that is why they are in opposition. I hope the honorable member will keep on saying that, because they will remain in opposition for ever. Why, they have broken the Labour party on that very issue ! A tremendously important section of the Labour party has left them because they have failed to understand that the. Australian people will not stand for a policy of socialization. I do not want to argue the matter, but from the narrowest aspect of political self-interest I hope that honorable members opposite will stick to that policy, because then they will stick to that side of the House. But if they want to go on and put the finger on themselves again by emphasizing and re-emphasizing this, then that is all right with me, and the people of Australia will judge them. But do not let us be under any misapprehension on one point. The socialized enterprises of government do not save the taxpayers anything. In fact, they cost the taxpayers tremendous sums of money. Take the case of the particular enterprise that we are discussing. It called for a capital of more than £1,000.000. It was the taxpayers who put up that money.
– That is our point.
Mi-. McEWEN.- And every time we want a new ship it is the taxpayers wlm put up the money. Every time we want a new aeroplane the taxpayers put up the money. In a non-socialized business private interests would save the taxpayers that money. As long as that is clearly understood by the people who are advocates of socialization, and by those who have to judge between the two political philosophies or two political programmes, then I am pretty satisfied to let it rest at that.
– But the Government has created a new situation; it pioneers public enterprises, and then, after they have been developed, hands them over to private interests.
– That is all right, too; it has worked out pretty well. The last report of the whaling commission was the sixth annual report, which covers the year ending 31st March, 1955.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lawrence). - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- There have been some magnificent whale Stories in history. We all know of them, but surely there has not been a whale story equal to the one that we have been told in this House. There are two things that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) will never explain, because they are impossible of explanation, but he betrays some anxiety by coming back to them again and again. One is his amazing frankness now, after years of evasion. The other is the extraordinary explanation of the methods by which a government enterprise is handed back to the jobbers who are prepared to pay what is considered by the Government a fair figure.
If I can take those two points one after the other, we may, on this side of the House, gain some reassurance on the matter. However, before discussing them, let me say that, surely, the question is not whether the Government of Western Australia will be able to lodge its tender in time. The Minister, who is a brilliant man and a clever debater, has used that issue as a red herring in this whale story, if I may use such an expression. He has kept that issue going, and he has even bent over backwards to say that all books and papers will be made available. But that is not the issue. These are the two issues: First, the studied plan of the Government to get rid of all so-called socialized enterprises, whether they are successful or not, whether they employ many people or not, whether they carry a research content or not - and at the time and opportunity that the Government considers fit. So the Minister is alleged to have said in 1952 that this whaling enterprise that was brought into being by the Chifley Government, under the direction of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who was then the Minister-
– What does the honorable member mean by “ alleged “ ?
– I am still trying to find out where, in 1952, the Minister said anything about the sale of the whaling enterprise at Carnarvon, or anything to do with the whaling enterprise in Western Australia at all, but one of his supporters in this House said to-day, if I heard him correctly - and I am subject to correction on this - that the Minister had said without equivocation in 1952 that the whaling station was to be sold. I did not hear it, and the question asked of the Minister
– I will show the honorable member the press statement, if he wants it. It is perfectly true.
– I am not bringing the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) into this argument at this stage, except to check with him that his statement is correct, and I thank him for the corroboration he has given me.
The Minister, who is adept at making long statements but never saying much unless he wants to, decided over many months to say nothing, and then when he felt that the time was ripe and the decision had been made, he made his statement with great clarity - “ Of course it is going to be sold, and if people have not got in, and if the State of Western Australia is laggard in its application, that is not my business.” Here is a significant thing in regard to the extreme airiness of the Minister’s statement, his evasion, if I may call it such without infringing Standing Orders, because a Minister is quite entitled to evade a question or not to answer it at all. My view, as a member interested in these things, is that he tried on various occasions to say nothing because he was not prepared at that stage to make a pronouncement. Then, of course, when the time is ripe, he comes right down on the matter. But on the 22nd of this month, in reply to a question, he said at. the end of his answer - and I think that ellis will not be disputed - “ There has bc-en a leakage of information on this matter”. I ask the Minister, who is sitting there, how there could possibly be a leakage of information on a matter which he said he revealed, with all clarity, in 1952. If there is a leakage of i u formation, either one thing or the other is wrong. The Minister made his statement at the end of his answer - and it was deleted from Hansard.
– That is not what the honorable member heard. He is inventing the words.
– That is what we heard in the House.
– The Minister has admitted himself that that is what he said.
– I believe we heard that. I firmly believe that we did - that there had been a leakage of information.
– Why did the Minister cut it out of Hansard?
– We believe also that there was a deletion from Hansard. We came to that conclusion when we were searching for our reply on this matter. The Minister, after years of evasion, suddenly comes down heavily and says, “ Everything will be sold. You can take it for granted. That is the final word on it”. Then here is a most curious thing. After having said that, he added, “Everybody should have known our intention. It was announced in 1952 “. At least his supporters said that. Then, at the conclusion of a question, the Minister said, “ There is a leakage of information “. But you can bring the matter much closer than that. When inquiries were pressed by the honorable member for Lalor, the Minister’s first answer was an evasive one, as honorable members will see if they look through Hansard. Having decided that the cat was partially out of the bag, the Government let the rest out, and in the next statement there was no doubt about the firmness of the decision to sell the whaling station. The Minister, after the initial equivocation, decided to come clean because he had to. I think that he was truthful under pressure, but certainly he was evasive under instruction.
Why was the matter handled in that way? Because the Government is very ticklish on the question of the sale of government enterprises. The Government is interested in the gallup poll which tells it what public reaction will be - but not always correctly. Supporters of the Government talk about the mandate that they got from the people, but not always do the public think that all these enterprises, fostered or controlled or created by the Commonwealth Govern- . ment - or, in fact, State governments - should be sold, and certainly not in the present circumstances.
I am no expert on this matter. I have looked at it from the point of view of the average citizen, and of the average Australian, and I am shocked at the methods employed. Even if you, sir, as an anti-socialist, feel that all government enterprises should be disposed of, and the money given back to big business a 5 a bonus, surely you will realize in this case that there are certain factors that should prevent its being done. This is not a case where competition may enter into it at all. The company or tha organization that gets this Carnarvon scheme will get a monopoly.
– They must be licensed.
– They have licences under the international whaling agreement, which precludes anybody else from fishing whales in the waters of the Indian Ocean. The Minister knows that. Therefore, it i3 not just a matter of its being similar to Trans-Australia Airlines. It is not rationalization; it is confiscation by the Government of assets, which it intends to sell to some one else. I feel that it has been cut and dried for some entrepreneur to come in and get this before the noise is created by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who saw this thing of his own creation being dissipated not in the normal way but with a certain amount of furtiveness about it. When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. H. V. Johnson) and the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) say that the State Government knew nothing about the proposed sale, it is not clever repartee for the Minister to say, “ Well, what sort of government are they if they do not know about these things?” We in this House did not know about these things until this week. Is the Government to subsist or exist on rumour? Has there been any communication ?
We have had a long and windy explanation from the Minister but in most cases it appears to be trying to smother up something that is anterior to this debate. For that reason, we come to the two points to which I wish to refer. The first is the vagueness of the statement. If there is to be a general policy of repossession by the Government of the assets of. the Government in order to give them back to private enterprise, then say so. If it is to be a piecemeal business, well, say so. But to say that it is not going to be done, and then to come down hard in one day in the House and say it is an accomplished fact, is not what the people would consider to be fair dealing in this matter.
The second point relates to the Government’s methods in relation to government enterprises. The Minister says there is an ‘establishment cost of £1,300,000. A good deal of this money has been earned in dividends. There is a 20 per cent, gain on capital investment.
Fishing for whales is not just another industry. It is a controlled industry. It is something in which the whole world is interested. It is the subject of conventions, to which we subscribe, and it is the subject of research in many directions. The Minister speaks of other enterprises that could also be conducted in the same way, such as the pilchards in the Indian Ocean, the tuna, the prawns, the crabs and those other delectable fish round the coast of Australia. But would such enterprises meet the same fate as this whaling enterprise? I shall explain what shocks me. A government set up this socialized industry - shall we call it - and was able to do so because at that stage, very few people wanted to take the risk. The Government spent public money to the tune of £1,500,000; and then, after having conducted the experiment and, with its back ground, put the industry on a profitable basis and established it as something of which we are all proud, the Government has suddenly decided, “That is all we wanted to prove “. Are we going to be coaches, are we to be what might be called “ try-outs “ for private enterprise ? Are we to wet-nurse private industry? Are we going to try to do all the things private industry has not the courage or the initiative to take on? Are we to use public money and take advantage of the skill of our public servants to create a successful industry and then say, “ There it is, it would be absurd for the Government to remain in whaling or fishing or anything else; that is private enterprise, so we will sell it”?
I know the accountants on both sides of the House are wondering just how it is proposed to assess the value of this undertaking. Its establishment at the time, and in the circumstances, was a stroke of statesmanship. There is no doubt about that. Even the Minister himself will agree with that. It was a stroke of statesmanship to establish the industry at a time when the question of food supplies and the problems of feeding the world after the war were so gigantic, and were with us every moment of the day.’ You cannot put a money value on that. I think it would be a dangerous thing and a bad precedent - no matter whether the Government hangs to that sheet, or that plank, of its platform. The main point, however, appears to be that if the undertaking were something in which 1,000 or 100 undertakings were involved, and the Government were in it on its own behalf, or as a partner, it would be a different matter. But this thing is limited by the fact that it is licensed. It is also limited as to the number of whales that can be taken from the waters, and it is certainly limited to the extent that it was an experiment that only a government could conduct. From the stand-point of the valid rights of the people, the use of their money and the development and progress of this country, it should, in my view, remain a government enterprise, because half a dozen companies holding licences could form a ring if they could eliminate the Government ingredient, and they could then exploit the products of the whale. The monopoly could easily become a cartel. There is no monopoly at the moment. I do not say this is done, but it could be done. The obstacle to the formation of a monopoly- at the moment is the Government enterprise, «nd it is hard for me to understand how a Minister can remove it just willynilly. I can understand the restoration or handing back to private industry, in Accordance with the Government’s ideas, of certain other enterprises, but surely these developmental undertakings must, at least for the time being, remain with the Government itself. I hope the Minister will explain these matters, because I feel seriously about them. The Minister has not made us very happy in this House on this matter, because we sense evasion. We also sense deep anxiety at the fact that he has not taken the House, or the nation, into his confidence in the sale of this project. This country has. thought a lot of successful national enterprises, no matter what the Government says about the matter, so his vague statements are his own condemnation.
The method which has been adopted is the most extraordinary one I have ever heard of, and I think it rather confuses the whole position. The Minister’s explanation the second time he dealt with this matter has tended only to confuse the issue. I close on the note that what is being done, has been done or is likely to be done in the future with the Western Australian Government as a possible purchaser of the whaling enterprise, is useful information, but it is beside the point. What is important now and for the future is that this Parliament is entitled to a general statement on what the Government’s policy is, first, in relation to government enterprises and then in relation to methods. The whaling industry is a most successful industry. In a way, it is a glamorous one because it has given to this country a new industry, a new line of industries, as the Minister has himself admitted. We dislike the methods by’ which it is proposed just to shovel it back to private enterprise for what if; is prepared to pay. The exercise of imagination by the former Minister, the honorable member for Lalor, trying by all measures possible to develop food capacity and other adjuncts of whaling on an attractive basis is much more in character with Australia’s progress than the present Minister’s idea. The present Minister has created in our minds the idea that the offices of the whaling commission are full of bookkeepers, entrepreneurs and accountants who are checking up to see how they can get a good thing out of the Government. That is still in the people’s mind. I repeat the other two points I have made. First, the Minister’s statements on that matter have been vague and unsatisfactory. Secondly, the method by which the Minister himself states the enterprise is to be sold is extraordinary and alarming, and the Opposition takes a very deep and serious view of this matter.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– At the outset of this, my first speech in the Twenty-second Parliament, I should like to convey to you, Mr. Speaker, my congratulations on your reelection to the Speakership, an office to which you have lent dignity and ability over a period of more than six years. I should like also to support the remarks of certain of my colleagues about the very eminent maiden speeches that have been made by the new members of this House. I think it is not an exaggeration to say that their opening gambits give tremendous promise for the future debating strength of the Parliament.
From the viewpoint of Australia’s immediate problems, there are two main features of the Governor-General’s Speech, to which we are now addressing ourselves. The first of these features is His Excellency’s reference to our international problems, and our national desire to support the efforts for peace and to combine and co-operate with the free democracies of the world in the struggle for a better and fuller life for the vast human race. Associated with those problems are also the problems of national defence, which were referred to by the Governor-General. There is on the notice-paper at the present time a motion for the printing of a paper presented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), and it would be more appropriate to debate those subjects during the discussion of that motion. Therefore, I propose to confine my remarks mainly to the second main feature of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech - the reference to Australia’s economic problems as they appear to the Government at the present time. I should like to read just one sentence from the Speech, which brings out the essence of the whole problem. His Excellency stated, at page 3 of the printed copy of his Speech -
The truth is that the decline in our overseas balances is primarily the result of inflation :it home.
That sentence sums up our two main problems. Since World War II., Aus? tralia has passed through a period of extraordinary development, which has been forced on us for various reasons. We in this vast continent have had to justify pur existence by increasing our population. We have had to undertake the obligation to make homes for a great number of dispossessed people from the Old Country and from parts of the continent of Europe. In general, our development was part of a world problem. If we start on that basis, we shall realize that whatever has been done was done for a cause that was absolutely necessary.
The expansion of our secondary industries and the extraordinary development nf both Federal and State public works, which are now at record levels, have placed an enormous strain on our internal resources of both labour and materials. To refresh the minds of honorable members, I cite several specific cases which bear out the point I want to make. At the present time, we have, in various stages of completion, three of the largest hydro-electric schemes that have ever been undertaken in Australia. I refer to the enormous Snowy Mountains scheme and to two large schemes in Victoria - the Kiewa and Eildon schemes. There are also other works in Victoria, which is the State I know best. There has been a vast expansion of Victoria’s brown coal thermal generating units, and there is also a new scheme for the gasification of brown coal. All these projects are important in themselves and will be of definite value to Australia. It would be idle to argue about their long-term value, but I should like to emphasize that, as they have, been undertaken at a time when almost parallel expansion of secondary industries is taking place, these vast government projects have imposed enormous stresses upon Australia’s economy. It is very easy to say that they are part of the process of development. So they are, but we must develop Australia with the full knowledge that the economic situation brought about by these enormous pressures will cause problems in the attainment of economic stability.
I was very interested to hear some rpmarks that were made last Sunday evening, in the Australian Broadcasting Com - mission’s “ Guest of Honour “ programme, by the Honorable Robert Balfour, who ls a steel manufacturer in Great Britain and who also is associated with the steel industry in Australia. Mr. Balfour discussed the expansion of secondary industries in Australia. He referred to the import restrictions that have been imposed, and discussed a point that is of great importance to Australia’s economy. He pointed out that, while we are developing our secondary industries at a tremendous rate, we are also, owing to th, demands made on resources by those secondary industries, greatly increasing our import requirements and the strain on our international reserves. He cited the position of the industry that he knew best - the steel industry. We have undertaken immense development of the steel industry in Australia, and this expansion has, at the same time, required heavy imports of additional machinery, tools and raw materials from overseas. In some ways, we can compare our situation with that of the United States of America and Great Britain, both of which are highly developed industrial countries. Indeed, the United States is probably the greatest industrial country in the world. Both those countries can export the products of their secondary industries at a profit, and they rely on those exports to maintain the stability of their internal economy. They do not rely on the export of primary produce to establish the overseas credits needed for the purchase of raw materials. I believe that is the difference between our situation and that of the United States and Great Britain.
Both those older industrial countries, paradoxically, are obliged to subsidize their farmers. It is common knowledge that the price support schemes in the
United States are a terrible headache to the United States Government and also a real danger to genuine exporters of primary products such as Australia. The United Kingdom Government - for defence purposes, I think it is reasonable to say - has been obliged for some years to subsidize not only the commodities produced by its farmers but also various farming activities, notably by such means as the subsidy on fallow and cultivated land. There is a lesson for Australia there. We must study the position in relation to Australia’s present circumstances. Due to our enormously rapid growth of population, and the expansion of new and existing industries, coupled with the vast growth of Government projects and also, of course, private projects, tremendous demands on imports of both capital and consumer goods have been made. The unfortunate position is that, so far, there has been no corresponding increase in our ability to export the products of our industries, except where imported machinery has assisted primary producers to produce more cheaply and in greater quantity. This is the real root of our overseas balance problem. Furthermore. I state without fear of contradiction that had it not been for the extremely favorable conditions that have applied throughout the post-war period to the sale of Australian primary exports overseas, the position that we face now would have come about much sooner. In other words, it would have been quite impossible for us to develop at the present rate if, by some peculiar misfortune for Australia, our exports had not received such a splendid sale overseas. Increased demands have therefore been made on our exporting industries. Quite rightly, the Government has appealed to primary producers to increase the availability of their products for overseas export in order to build up overseas funds. As one who represents a large rural constituency, I think I can say that right well have the farmers and graziers of Australia responded to that appeal. However, the growing demand for labour and materials for the enormous government projects that are in train, also for secondary industry sheltered by a tariff wall and assisted by advantages of both freight and exchange, has increased directly the problems of certain primary industries. The cost of production of certain weaker industries, which are not in a position to carry this extra burden, has been vitally affected. I think it is reasonable to say that already the red light of danger is showing for certain primary industries which normally would be available to assist the export programme, particularly those industries which contain a high labour content in their cost of production. These include such industries as the dried-fruit industry, for which the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) is such an able advocate in this House, and food processing industries which in the past have been able to export to advantage. This is a dangerous position. The trend has developed over a period of years. Without trying to philosophize over it, it is quite obvious that certain party-political considerations come into the question of a vast expansion of our industrial population. Without wishing to impute a motive to Opposition members in this regard, I suggest that it is definitely to their advantage to increase the industrial population of Australia with the hope that by encouraging a highly organized industrial population they may retain a better control over the political vote of Australia.
Opposition members interjecting,
– I am not saying whether it is a good or a bad thing. The interjections might imply that I am saying it is bad; I am not, but it is a fact, that this trend has developed, possibly with that motive in view. My point is that the gradual expansion and development of Australian secondary industry, if pursued to the extreme, may have a vast effect on the economic position of the great primary industries on which we rely to provide the wherewithal for the expansion of secondary industry. Another factor enters into the matter. As we expand our internal population, so do we increase the local demand for primary products, particularly foodstuffs, and to that extent lessen our ability to export. This is a trend which must be watched. I think it is important to the general development of the country. I referred earlier to the United States of America and .Great Britain, where primary production is highly subsidized. I referred also to weaker industries with a high labour con-tent in their cos.t ,of production, and j. -made the point that those industries are now feeling th<; chill wind pf economic pressure. T desire to refer briefly to th? »hole approach to international reserves I am not one who worships at the .shrine of short term overseas balances. When a patient is sick in bed it is stupid and valueless to pop a thermometer in and ou” of his mouth, in order to determine whether he gives hope of recovery .or despair of decline. Too much attention can be .devoted to (he short-term study of overseas balances. The trend is the important matter. During the period of enormous expansion since World War II.., w<; were assisted by extraordinarily favorable prices for .our products oversea % We ar.e now obviously reaching a point where world overseas prices are inclined to level out, and they may possibly fall. We therefore must examine this problem further. ft is quite obvious to all honorable members that the speed of our expansion must depend to a large extent on the availability of capital and material from overseas. It is also obvious, as the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) pointed out in relation to the developmental period of the United States of America, that it is not within the economic resources of this country to finance the enormous expansion that is being thrust upon us, but this important trend is one of which we should take note in this House. It is a trend that we must keep clearly in view, Our export industries are being so loaded by the increased costs caused by the internal expansion demands that if we heed the experience of other nations we will realize that, while secondary industries admittedly are creating an internal market, the general effect of this trend may rebound to the serious disadvantage of those industries, which alone are responsible for the rate of progress we are maintaining. In referring to this problem of our great primary industries, let me quote a case in point. It is only a straw in the wind, but it is indicative of what I am trying to convey.
It was brought to my notice quite recently that an application had been made to the Tariff Board by a Sydney firm which is manufacturing onion sacks for a duty to be imposed on onion sacks imported from .overseas. Imported onion sacks come mainly from India.’ Let us ignore for the moment the question of the relationships between Commonwealth countries. We .are trying to keep Australian-Indian trade on an even keel and we are trying to encourage the development of India through normal economic aid and assistance under the Colombo plan, but if this application were successful - I hope it will not be - the tariff imposed would cut off an important source of trade with India. Nobody will suggest that the manufacture of onion sacks in Australia is vital to our defence or to our economic needs; but, if the application to the Tariff Board is successful, the tariff will have the effect of increasing the price which consumers pay for onions, and also of increasing the costs of production of Australian producers. I cite that case because it is, I believe, indicative of the general trend that I am trying to explain. I realize the necessity for Australia to achieve self-sufficiency within reasonable limits, but I believe that the tendency towards the greater industrialization of this country could seriously affect our great primary industries, which alone are capable of carrying the burden of earning the export income necessary for Australia’s development.
There is another point in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to which I should like to refer. It ties up fairly closely with the problem of costs of production. At the bottom of page 4, there is a reference to the confusion that exists in the industrial field because of conflict between the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, State industrial tribunals and, in some cases, direct industrial legislation by State parliaments. We, as a Government, believe that arbitration has been of tremendous advantage generally to the wage-earners of Australia. We believe, furthermore, that the principle of arbitration and conciliation has been respected. Several attempts have been made to upset it, but, hy and large, the people of Australia have accepted the principle of arbitration and conciliation. I agree with members of the Opposition that certain features of our arbitration system require revision. Proceedings must be speeded up, and possibly additional emphasis should be given to conciliation. It is of great importance to try to delegalize proceedings bef ore the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. But I want to discuss what I consider to be the most important feature - that is, the division of authority that was referred to in the Governor-General’s Speech. “We are supposed to be working under the Commonwealth system of arbitration, but in many cases conditions of employment and wage levels are determined or dictated by circumstances completely out- side the control of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. One example is the introduction of the 40-hour week. I do not propose to discuss whether the 40- hour week is a good thing or a bad thing. I am trying to point to the actual facts. When we criticize arbitration as a system, we must realize that the unilateral action of certain State governments or certain State tribunals has been responsible for a complete over-riding of the Commonwealth system of arbitration. Therefore, one of the first things we have got to do in relation to arbitration is to bring about some kind of uniformity, because the present system is creating uncertainty and discontent. I believe that it has an adverse effect on the general approach to the problem of wages and working conditions in Australia.
.—I desire to address myself to the amendment that was moved yesterday by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), which refers to the reported intention of the Government to dispose of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission. Once again, we have an example of the lack of frankness by this Government about its intentions. Painfully and slowly we have had to extract from the Government a statement of its intentions with regard to the whaling station in Western Australia. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that on the 16th February, the day after this Parliament met, the honorable member for Lalor asked a direct question of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). The question was as follows : -
Is the Government negotiating to sell this splendid, profitable people’s asset? If it is negotiating, who is it negotiating with? If the Government has decided to dispose of this great asset, has it called for tenders for the disposal of this asset? Finally, will the Government make available to this House a comprehensive statement relating to the history of the station?
That question was unequivocal, but the Minister, in his reply, was by no means illuminating. He hedged, and gave a little excursus about the philosophy that underlies the policy of the Government parties. He finished by saying -
To that extent, the Australian Whaling Commission’s activities have served the purposes which the Government believes are desirable and useful.
Although it may be said now, in view of what has been said since then, that the Minister, by implication, did indicate that he was negotiating for the sale of the whaling station, I submit that he did not say definitely that that was so. To-day, when the honorable member for Lalor asked whether the Western Australian Government had been informed of the negotiations, the Minister gave him to understand that only a blind man would not see that the Government did intend to dispose of the station. I submit that the Minister was not frank when the first question was asked. After the honorable member for Lalor had asked his question on the 16th February, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) asked another question on the same subject with a view to getting from the Minister a statement of the Government’s intention. Again the Minister evaded a direct answer. He concluded his answer with these words -
Of course, the whaling station could not be sold without the Parliament being aware of the fact and approving.
I submit that that is what the position ought to be, but again we have the position that everybody, except the members of the Parliament, who ought to know, apparently is aware of what is going on. The code of the” Government, so far as the business of this Parliament is concerned, seems to be, “Read about it in the papers “.
In this case, we are dealing with an undertaking which has been built up over a period of five years and which has been profitable to the people of Australia. This afternoon, the Minister, rather chidingly, said that we did not seem to realize that the assets had been purchased with the taxpayers’ money. If, as he says, they have been purchased with the taxpayers’ money, they arc the taxpayers’ assets. Therefore, the Psrliament should be given a great deal more information about the intentions of the Government in relation to them. Undertakings which have been purchased with the taxpayers’ money and used for the benefit of the people as a whole, should not be regarded as things to be handed over to private enterprise to exploit when they have been brought to a successful stage of development.
The Minister has stated that perhaps there were two kinds of approach to the matter - the socialist attitude of honorable members on this side of the House and what he called the private enterprise approach of the Government. I believe that there is now to be a third form of approach - the suggestion that in precarious days, when private enterprise will not embark upon an undertaking, the Government should spend the taxpayers’ money, bring the undertaking to a successful stage, and then hand it over to private enterprise to exploit. That, to my mind, is a mixed philosophy, which neither side of the House should tolerate. Any Government which believes that it should not in any circumstances engage in what might be regarded as business undertakings is flying in the face of facts as we know them in 1956. Because of the very nature of this country, certain activities which tend to have a monopolistic aspect can be undertaken only in the name of the public, and this whaling enterprise is such an undertaking. It is easy enough to say that anybody can establish a whaling station. What has taken place on this occasion is evidence of the fact that no private individual or enterprise could have embarked upon an undertaking of this kind in 1949.
– But they have done so.
– They have not established an undertaking on the scale of this whaling station. To-day, private enterprise is looking forward to taking over a successful public undertaking at a bargain price. The basis upon which this enterprise should be sold is not the basis that has been foreshadowed to-day by the Minister for Trade. He seems to have implied that this undertaking should be sold on the basis of a physical valuation. This afternoon, I asked the right honorable gentleman, by way of interjection, whether consideration ought not to be given to what is commercially known - and I emphasize the word “ commercially “ - as goodwill. The appraisal ought to be on the basis of what accountants call a going concern. After all, that was the basis upon which the sale of the Government’s interest in Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited was negotiated. The sale was negotiated not on the basis of physical assets but on the basis of the ruling market price of the shares. Of course, the Government has not a shareholding in this whaling station other than in the sense of the interest of the taxpayers as a whole.
What kind of undertaking is this in a commercial sense ? I ask honorable members to look carefully at the figures shown in the balance-sheet as at the 31st March, 1955, which is the last available balancesheet and which deals with the whaling season of 1954. At the 31st March, 1955, the recorded physical value of the assets was £807,698. I point out to honorable members that those assets include station works and buildings which are valued on the books at £365,291, less depreciation. I ask honorable gentlemen to take into account the fact that those assets were acquired in 1949 when prices were much lower than they were in 1955. We need only read the financial columns of the newspapers week by week to ascertain how many firms are revaluing their physical assets. The physical value of the assets as recorded in the books is not a fair basis of appraisal. This whaling station is located in a fairly remote part of Western Australia, and if private enterprise were to erect similar facilities in that area to-day, it would have to pay a much higher price than was paid by the Government when these assets were installed. 1 submit that, rather than look at the physical value of the assets for the purposes of appraisal, we ought to look at the trading side of the undertaking. I agree with my friend, the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), when he refers to the profits that have been made by this concern. It has made considerable profits during the six years or mort that it has been in operation. Taking into account the anticipated profit for this year, the undertaking will have yielded in six years a total profit of approximately £1,000,000 on an initial Treasury advance of £1,375,000. That is a very good result. If the sale is to he on what has been called a commercial basis, the undertaking will immediately yield an annual profit of £200,000 to the fortunate person or company that is granted the licence. 1 ask those honorable members who adopt the commercial basis what they would pay to-day, as a going concern, for an under- taking which year after year, after allowing for depreciation and other commercial items, assured them of a net profit of £200.000. I suggest that, on what are called the “blue chip” rates of to-day, they would expect to pay somewhere in the’ region of £3,000,000 for such an undertaking.
The Opposition is asking the Minister to display a little bit of frankness in the matter. He has indicated that it is the intention of the Government to sell the station, but the ‘Government has not called for tenders, as is usual when disposing of public property. The Government has said - and I quote the Minister’s words in answer to a question asked by the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb)-
With all the Australian interests that are, or could conceivably be, concerned to purchase the station-
-Order! If the honorable member is quoting from Hansard of the current session, he is out of order.
– I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I shall paraphrase his answer. The right honorable gentleman stated that he had consulted all the parties who he thought would be interested in acquiring the undertaking. His action in so doing might be right in the light of the ultimate result, but that is still not the way in which the transaction should be conducted. As my very good friend the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) knows, certain proprieties should be observed when dealing with public accounts. Whatever might be the philosophy upon which- honorable members on that side of the House stand or fall, such an approach does not stand up to the scrutiny of this House. Things ought to be done properly, and, in order to safeguard against chicanery in the disposal of a public asset, the Government should have openly advertised that the undertaking was for sale, called upon interested parties to submit tenders and, if necessary, made arrangements for them to inspect the undertaking. That has not been done. The Minister blandly states that only a very few concerns are interested. That, of course, is one of the critical points in this matter. It is not as though what is being sold is a milk bar, of which there is at least one to every half-dozen corners in our cities. What is being sold is an industry which, by its very nature, is monopolistic. More than that, it is an industry which would not have been in existence had it not been for government enterprise. It is an industry which, over the years, has proved successful in its operations, and which ought not to be handed over to a limited section, and certainly ought not to be handed over without this Parliament knowing the terms on which the sale is to go through. The Minister has given us to understand that a chartered accountant and a valuer are appraising the industry physically. Again, I submit that, if we look at the basis on which concerns of this sort are acquired, we find that we cannot, in the long run, fall back on physical appraisal. We have to fall back on the success of the venture commercially. We have to fall back on so many years of expected profits. Over the past two years the profit of this industry has been in excess of £200,000 a year. I think in one year it was £270,000 and last year it was £223,000. This year,’ even although the take of whales has been reduced from 600 to 500, we are given to understand the profit of the venture, after allowing for depreciation, will be close to £200,000.
It is, by any tests, a successful undertaking. But the tests that ought to be applied are not the ordinary tests, because this is not a private venture but - and I again use the words of the Minister - it is a thing which has involved taxpayers in expense in the past, but to-day comprises taxpayers2 assets, and taxpayers ought not to be the guinea pigs of doctrinaire theories.
This industry is being conducted successfully. It is employing Australians. I understand from the honorable member for lalor (Mr. Pollard) that initially there were a number of Norwegians engaged in the undertaking, and that there are now only two of them left, and it is staffed almost entirely by Australians. It is employing people in an area that requires development. The Western Australian Government has indicated that it is interested in the project, and that, so far as it is concerned the profits that would be derived from the industry by that Government, if it were engaged in it, would be ploughed back into development of the district. I submit that if that is the express intention of the Western Australian Government, and if, on doctrinaire grounds, the Australian Government does not want to continue to conduct this industry, at least, on grounds of public morality, it ought to regard the only real bidder in the field as the Western Australian Government, which will administer the undertaking in the interests of the future development of that great State. In an article published in the Perth Daily News, of the 22nd February, a writer, Mr. Jim Henderson, asks : “ What’s to become of the Babbage Island gold mine ? “. He says -
Whatever its ideological significance, Babbage Island is a veritable gold mine. Last year it made a cool £223,000 net profit and this year’s estimate is £200,000.
I submit that, since the Government has cast away ideology as the basis of assessment, the assessment should be on the basis of the industry being a gold mine. If that were the basis of appraisal, then this asset should not be disposed of in the way proposed. I submit that, in the first instance, a chance to take over the industry should be given to the Western Australian Government. This Parliament, and particularly this side of the Parliament, is not going to stand idly by and see these public assets given away to private enterprise for exploitation, not for the benefit of the people of Western Australia, but for the benefit of a few shareholders in a private company.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) had been dealing with the amendment moved by the Opposition to the motion for the adoption of an AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech. He was very concerned with the possibility that the Government might consider it fit at this stage, or in the very near future, to dispose of the whaling industry in Western Australia. It is quite understandable that there should be opposition from honorable members opposite to the sale of any of the so-called government utilities. After all, a fundamental plank in the Labour party’s platform is the socialization of all industry, production, distribution and exchange. I have no doubt that members of the Opposition consider that this particular industry is one which should always be a government utility. The whaling industry is subject to international control in respect of the number of whales taken. For that reason the profit which has been made by it is not an indication of what profit private enterprise could derive from the industry, because, while it is conducted by the Government, it is free of company tax, sales tax and pay-roll tax and all sorts of State taxation that private enterprise pays towards the cost of the government of the country.
In Western Australia there is one of the greatest oil refineries in this country. That refinery owes it birth to the sale by this Government of Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. I have no doubt that the flow of capital into the oil refining industry in Australia resulted originally, and has continued, because of the Government’s action in disposing of its interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. It was as a result of this action that private enterprise felt that it could safely go ahead in the field of oil refining without fear of eventual nationalization. Anybody who claims that a financial interest in the whaling industry is a natural avenue for government activity might as well say that the Government should enter the shrimp industry or the tuna industry. In fact, I consider the tuna industry could be made very profitable to this country, and that we could well put government money into it at this stage. I do not know whether even the members of the Government know that in Tasmania we have a tin-dredging plant operated by this Government, which, I believe, should be sold to the highest bidder, as was the case with Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited and Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, which were sold profitably by the Government. They were not given away as the Opposition alleges.
Only this week the retiring president of the Australian Labour party in Tasmania chided members of the Labour party for being prepared to make excuses for one of the fundamental planks of the party’s platform - the nationalization of banking. He said that that was Labour policy, and, in effect, that it must be rammed down the throats of the people at all times. That was his instruction to members of the party. It is understandable that in this country to-day we are meeting with some economic strife. The Government has continued its policy of immigration, and 1,000,000 immigrants have come to this country in the last ten years. It is estimated that each immigrant who enters the country means an injection into the economy of between £3,000 and £4,000, represented by expenditure on homes, schools, roads, household goods and equipment and everything necessary to set up an immigrant or a new worker. That amount multiplied by 1,000,000 represents between £3,000,000,000 and £4,000,000,000, and that amount alone must have a great effect on the economy of this country. I have no doubt that the Government will continue its immigration policy and I hope to see, in the next ten years or even less, a further 1,000,000 people brought into this country. Naturally, the fountain of some of our best immigrants has dried up, but I feel certain that the Government is applying itself in a proper manner to bringing immigrants here.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission is taking evidence in Tasmania in connexion with the claim of that State for Commonwealth assistance, and it has issued to the people of Australia a warn ing on the method used for assessing grants to the three claimant States. It has been pointed out on more than one occasion by members of the Labour Government in Tasmania that if taxes in that State are not raised to the level of taxes in the non-claimant States or if taxes are reduced below the level that exists at the present time, Tasmania will be penalized by the grants commission. When the Commonwealth Government saw fit, very wisely, to abolish the land tax, the Tasmanian Government substantially increased State land tax. The Tasmanian Government has substantially increased other taxes, particularly probate duty, claiming that if the taxes were not increased there would be no opportunity of claiming from the grants commission the amount that the State should be entitled to get. This is a very serious matter, and I hope the Government will look at it, because, after all, this is not merely my opinion, but the opinion of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. It means that there is m. incentive for the Commonwealth to make any substantial reduction in taxation if the States are to take up the slack by a corresponding increase of State taxation.
I now wish to say a few words on the mining industry. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) suggested a means for increasing our overseas trade balance. He said that representatives of the mining companies and those associated with them, should meet the Government and discuss what could be done to increase production in the mining industry. In my own electorate, there is room for a substantial increase in the output of the mining industry. The Bureau of Mineral Resources, which is a Commonwealth body, could allot four units to make a geophysical survey in that area and they would be occupied for a considerable number of years. The mining companies and the organizations associated with mining are eager to have this service, and I feel that the Government could do a great job to help in the development of mining if it could see its way clear to increase the service in the various States, provided of course, that the States were prepared to accept the Commonwealth units in their areas.
The subject of shipping is one that is of vital importance to Australia at the present time. To-day, on the Melbourne waterfront, there are 1,100 more men who are not at work. It appears, at present, that the Waterside Workers’ Federation is trying to dictate the policy of the Government and the policy of the shipowners. It is a shocking example of what this country is coming to as far as our waterfront unions are concerned. We have the problem of rising costs. One of the great reasons for rising costs in this country has been dislocation in the waterfront industry and the substantial increase in handling costs along the waterfront. .It is estimated that the State of Tasmania, because of the shipping strike, will lose 300,000 cases of apples, which cannot be shipped overseas, and that Australia will lose ‘ the benefit of those 300,000 cases in its overseas trade balance. This is only one of the minor events that happen because of the hold-up along our waterfront. Rising costs, as I said, are very important, and play an important part in our production. Quite a few Soviet publications which I have seen proudly display any rising costs in other countries which are not under their domination. They show a rise in freight rates in Australia, a rise in the price of tea in New Zealand, a rise in transport costs in another country, or a rise in costs in the South American states. The leaders of the waterfront industry, Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach, do their very best to add to these rising costs on behalf of their masters in this regard.
– What about the increased shipping freights?
– The increase in shipping freights has been very substantial, but there has been no increase since 1954. The Commonwealth shipping line, which was established in 1946, did not stop the rise in costs. When the Commonwealth shipping line was established, freight rates were 26s. a ton, and they have risen to £6 12s. a ton. So the Commonwealth shipping line has not stopped the rise in freight rates. I am not speaking of any individual union, but if all the waterfront unions would play their part, they could save an industry which is rapidly going into decay. The industrial condition of this industry is probably the worst in
Australia. Neither the employers nor the employees are prepared to accept the responsibility. The Stevedoring Industry Board is not a particularly satisfactory organization for the control of the waterfront. It might easily meet the same fate as the Maritime Industry Commission, which was disbanded in 1952, and was not missed.
Honorable members opposite have supported the application of the Waterside Workers Federation for increased margins. I have no doubt that the waterside workers have a case, but their application has already been heard by the Arbitration Court, and a conciliation commissioner, and ‘ has been refused. Their strike was tantamount to saying, “ If our application is not granted, we do not want arbitration; we shall take direct action “. The same thing happened in the shearing dispute in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. The workers in these two industries cannot have it both ways. They cannot accept arbitration when it operates in their favour and reject it when it does not.
On more than one occasion I have brought before honorable members the need for a better ferry service across Bass Strait, and the question of the replacement of Taroona. These things are of vital importance to the people of Tasmania, for the ferry service is costing this Government approximately £3,000 a week. Unfortunately, it cannot be made to pay. Taroona, spends insufficient time at Melbourne and at Tasmanian ports for the vessel to be loaded to its full cargo carrying capacity. This Government also bears the cost of overhauling Taroona.
– Is that not socialism ?
– It is almost complete socialism ; but it is the fear of being socialized or nationalized that has prevented the shipping companies from laying down the keels of ships suitable for the Australian trade. The Government should give early attention to the proposal that a new ferry should be built. Taroona cannot last many more years. It is well past its prime and indeed has concluded its economic life. The type of vessel that should take its place is a matter for consideration by the Department of
Shipping and Transport and the Govern- ment. These ships cannot be built in five, minutes. If it is to be a vehicular ferry it must be laid down and built within the next year or so. If it is to be some other type which can carry motor vehicles and passengers to Tasmania it, too, should be ready as early as ‘possible. After Taroona was last overhauled it was out of service for three .weeks because of a minor mechanical fault. One can prophesy that in three years or less its usefulness for ordinary purposes will end. I urge the Government to look at this matter very soon. If a vehicular ferry is to be built, berths at which vehicles can be run on and off the ship must be made ready at Port Melbourne and at Tasmanian ports. These are matters not for honorable members but for a. complete investigation by experienced officers and shipping men. A new ferry service of the kind that I have described could, T think, be run at a profit.
More people would be prepared to use it to take their cars to and from Tasmania, and the Commonwealth Government would certainly not lose nearly as much on its operations as is lost to-day.
The next matter to which I wish to refer relates to Citizen Military Force training. In most States, the national service training of university students is so arranged as to enable them to attend university lectures as soon as they commence. Victoria has arranged earlier enrolment for pupils so affected. They will be able to attend the first university lectures held this year. However, in Tasmania, enrolment for the university takes place on the 5th March, lectures commence on the 12th March, and the cam]) concludes on the 17th March. I have been advised officially to-day that the release, after 77 days’ training, of the 49 students involved, would create an undesirable precedent. I believe in Citizen Military Force training, and that it should be completed, but it is also important that university students should be allowed to attend lectures as soon as they begin. They could complete their military training during the ensuing three years, when they would, in the ordinary course of events, be required to do another 21 days’ service each year. This matter must receive urgent consideration. I hope that the Government will take early action to ensure that these lads will have an opportunity to prepare themselves adequately for their future careers and will be able to complete their military training at a later date.
– I do not propose to follow all the lines of argument that have been pursued by the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Luck), whose electorate bears the same name as does a most progressive suburb within my own electorate. But, as a native-born Tasmanian I support the tribute he has paid to that very gallant ship, Taroona, which maintains the service across Bass Strait to the northern ports of Tasmania. The subsidy paid by this Australian Government in the maintenance of that service is a form of socialism which is appreciated by every resident of Tasmania who benefits from that service. If the Australian Government can extend that socialistic enterprise by subsidizing the. building, or purchase, and maintenance of a new vehicular ferry across Bass Strait, then I am certain that Tasmania will be pleased and that the Commonwealth will benefit, because motorists on the mainland will have the opportunity of visiting that delectable island, and people from. that island, none of whom, of course, ever wishes to leave it permanently, will have the opportunity of coming to the mainland and seeing how the other half lives.
I propose to spend my period of time in this Address-in-Reply debate to-day in discussing some aspects of land use within the Australian Capital Territory; that is to say, the use of rural lands within the area of the Capital Territory. It was very wisely provided, when this Territory was accepted as the Seat of Government in 1909 - and the provision was incorporated in the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1947 - that-
No Crown lands in the Territory shall be
Bold or disposed of for any estate of freehold.
The. leasehold form of land tenure was adopted within the Territory. The control of the rural lands within the Territory is vested in the Minister for the Interior, under the powers conferred upon him through the Leases Ordinance and the regulations made from time to time under that ordinance. The regulations which have been made from the year 1911 onwards, and amended, of course, from time to time, have provided adequate safeguards to ensure that the leasehold system of land tenure was not abused. Some of those provisions sought to limit the area which any one lessee might hold. They sought to ensure that a man granted a lease of an area within the Territory was eligible to be a lessee of that land. It was sought, indeed, to provide that no man has more than an adequate share of the leasehold land available; that is, that he has a comfortable living area. The provision of the regulations made under the Leases Ordinance place the following responsibilities upon the Minister for the Interior.Regulation 9 states: -
1 ) Upon receipt of an application from any person for the grant of a lease or for the consent of the Minister to the assignment of a lease the Minister after making such inquiries as he deems advisable upon any one or more of the following matters: -
A lease shall not be granted to any person unless the Minister previously determines that he is eligible to become a lessee.
Regulation 19, made under the Leases Ordinance, has this to say -
Except with the previous consent in writing of the Ministera lessee shall not -
assign his lease;
sublet the leased land; or
part with the possession of the leased land, and any assignment, sublease, agreement or arrangement in contravention of this regulation shall be void.
Regulation 20 says, in sug-regulation
Consent to the assignment of a lease shall not be given unless the Minister previously determines that the proposed assignee is eligible to become a lessee.
The important word in that regulation is “previously”. .
Those safeguards have been, within the life of the present Government - that is, from the end of 1949 onwards - very largely ignored, and in fact leasehold land within the Territory has been treated as freehold. We have seen time and again the assignation of leases in direct contravention of the provisions of the Leases Ordinance and the regulations made under that ordinance. We have seen the aggregation of estates in leasehold. We have seen the land in this Territory passing ever into fewer and fewer hands, and we have seen men who desire to go on the land, and the sons of farmers who seek to secure land within the Territory, denied the opportunity to secure a living area.
I have spoken on these matters from time to time, and I have brought these facts before the attention of the Government from time to time, but my protests have not been heeded, and the pro cess of the transfer of leases into fewer and fewer hands has continued.Regulation 7 of the LeasesRegulations states -
No person shall hold under lease land of a greater assessed value than £10,000.
Originally the figure was £8,000, and it was amended in, I think, 1941, and became £10,000. That figure is exclusive of the value of buildings, fences, dams, ground tanks, wells and bores. The assessed value, for the purposes of the regulation, is the assessed value at the date of the commencement of the lease. That is a provision that has been completely ignored in many land transactions that have taken place during the past six or seven years. In general, the rural leases at present in the Australian Capital Territory are due for renewal in the year 1958, and they are leases for a 25-year period, subject to re-appraisal of rental from time to time. But it has been decided within the last year to vary the terms under which leases may be held in the Territory, and to increase the period of life of a rural lease from 25 years to 50 years. That is to say, every rural lessee is now given the opportunity to sign a fresh lease for a period of 50 years if he so desires. Consequent on that offer, there has been an increased rental applied to many of the leases.
Lessees have the opportunity to object. I think there are three avenues of appeal, first to the Minister, then to a commissioner, then to a court, against the assess ment of rentals. But the very fact that -a lease can be converted from a 25-year lease, within two years of the time of its expiry, to a lease of 50 years, has given a great unearned increment to the holders of some lands in this Territory. They have been enabled to dispose of their leasehold lands to people who, in my opinion, and who, in the terms of this regulation, are not entitled to become lessees within the Australian Capital Territory. They are not entitled, in the terms of regulation 7, which is still operative - or was operative until last month and is now in the process of being amended - to hold leased land in excess of an assessed value of £10,000. The Minister, in granting the transfer of a lease, must satisfy himself that the proposed lessee is entitled to become a lessee, and he must have regard to the area or value of land that he holds, both within and outside the Territory. At present there is tabled in this House regulation 13 of 1955 under the Leases Ordinance 1918- 1955. The amendment contained in that regulation proposes drastic alterations in the leases regulations that I. have just read to the House. It is proposed, for example, now that people have had the opportunity of aggregating estates in leasehold, now that the leased areas of this Territory have been congregated in fewer and fewer hands, and fewer and fewer families have become the great land-holders in this Territory, to repeal regulation 7 so that in future there will be no bar to the amount or value of land that may be held by any lessee within the Territory. I believe that proposal is a had one. Admittedly, the figure of £10,000 that was adopted in 1941 would bear little relation to to-day’s values. In my view, it would have been better to amend the regulation by altering the maximum amount to a figure comparable with the change that has taken place in money value since 1941.
It is true, of course, that while the regulation lies on the table of the House any honorable member may move for its disallowance, but it is also known to every honorable member of this place that such a motion would be doomed to defeat at the hands of the Government majority, because the vote would be castby honorable members who have no real knowledge of the land situation within the Australian Capital Territory. However, that course of action is available to any honorable member of this House, as well as to any member of the other place.
From time to time, proposals have been made that a survey should be made of all the rural land within the Australian Capital Territory to see what possibilities exist for the development and closer settlement of the land. It is regrettably true that many rural leases have remained practically undeveloped since they were granted some 23 or 25 years ago, that lessees have been content to acquire adjoining areas and to graze their sheep or other stock on the land without effecting any improvements to it at all. Other lessees have set an example in pasture improvement, and have increased the value of their leases and the return from them immeasurably thereby; but we have not developed the farming pursuits in this Territory that should have been developed here. Possibly, that is because we seem to worship the merino sheep, and to regard the grazing of sheep and the depasturing of cattle, perhaps, as the only worthwhile uses to which the land can be put. There are areas throughout the Australian Capital’ Territory capable of closer settlement. They could be used for various forms of farm production. They could be used for vegetable-growing, orchards, poultry-farming and pursuits of that kind, which would give many people the opportunity of going On the land and making their living in the way in which they wish to make it. No survey of that type has been made, and any proposals that have been put forward have been treated very summarily within this Parliament.
Very recently, an inquiry was conducted into the supply of milk within the Australian Capital Territory. That report has now been presented. The investigation was initiated by the former Minister for the Interior, Mr. Kent Hughes, and the report has been presented to the present Minister for the
Interior (Mr. Fairhall). Some of the comments contained in the report of Mr. Leicester Webb, who conducted the inquiry dealing with the future of milk production in the Australian Capital Territory deserve careful consideration. On page 41 of that report, Mr. Webb says-
It is estimated that by 1956 about one-third of the land now used for dairying-
Let me interpolate here that this land comprises thirteen dairy farms only - will be withdrawn from production. It is therefore necessary to consider to what extent dairy production can be developed on Australian Capital Territory lands other than those comprised in existing dairy leases or required for urban development. Of the existing rural leases in the . Australian Capital Territory (not including the existing dairy leases), provision was made in eighteen for the establishment of dairies as and when required by the Department of the Interior. In addition, some 2,000 acres of the Lanyon estate (freehold) and some 1,500 acres in the Booroomba district have been at different times considered as possibly suitable for dairy production.
In 1948 the dairying potential of the eighteen leases referred to above was investigated by a group of experts from the New South Wales Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior.
They reported that the eighteen leases were not suitable for commercial dairying, and this verdict was confirmed by the inter-departmental committee of 1949-50. I 3ee no reason to dissent from this view.
The report continues -
Other areas referred to in paragraph 181 were investigated by Mr. E. T. Ballard, of the Dairy Division of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, in 1949. Mr. Ballard considered that parts of the Lanyon estate bordering on the Mumimbidgee River and the Lanyon portion of the Tharwa and Tuggeranong Flats had dairying potentialities but that more detailed investigation was required before a decision could be reached. The possibilities of the Lanyon estate were investigated again in 1952 by experts of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, who reported that the areas under consideration were not suitable for commercial dairy production.
T believe that with the improved techniques that are available to-day, with the application of dry farming techniques to dairy-farming, the areas mentioned there could be profitably developed as dairying propositions. It seems to me quite unacceptable that the only areas within the Australian Capital Territory suitable for dairying are those contiguous to the city itself. Those areas, of course, will be usurped as the city itself expands. I believe that there should be a further investigation into the possibilities of expanding dairying in this territory, particularly in relation to the Lanyon estate and the Tuggeranong Flats referred to in the report of Mr. Leicester Webb. Hisreport continues -
Milk production in the Australian Capital Territory on existing dairy leases could be substantially increased by improvements in production techniques.
It proceeds -
Though precise records are lacking, it is clear that production per cow in the Australian Capital Territory is less than a gallon a day, which’ is below the Australian average.
The report then goes on to say how that production can be increased, and I have referred to those sections of it simply to show that there does exist a body of opinion that proper use is not being made of rural lands within the Territory, whether they be leasehold or freehold. Power rests in this Government to acquire freehold lands if they are required, and to control the use of leasehold areas within the Territory. I believe that there should be an investigation into the possibilities of closer settlement, and that there should be much greater supervision over the use of leasehold lands, to ensure that they are not abused but, in fact, are used to the fullest extent by the lessee. Steps should be taken to ensure that the provisions originally applied and envisaged in the initial legislation in 1909 will be honoured. Steps should be taken to ensure that there is no aggregation of estates in leasehold by fewer and fewer families. Indeed, there are men within this Territory who have spent their lifetime on the land and who now cannot secure sufficient land to return, them a living, simply because the provisions of the Leases Regulations have been so evaded and so ignored that adjoining leaseholders, men with money, have had the opportunity to buy adjoining leases or extend their own holdings far beyond reasonable needs, and have kept out of production and out of farming the small man who has been battling to increase his area and who now has no opportunity of doing so, because 50-year leases are being granted to existing lessees without any consideration, apparently, of the way in which they have used the land, or the way in which they have honoured the conditions of the leases they have signed.
It was recently brought to my attention that several lessees in the Ginninderra area were to lose their leases in 1958, when they were due to expire, because the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization had found it necessary to transfer its experimental farm from the present site at Dickson to a location at Ginninderra that it had chosen. The proposal affects seven leases and ten lessees, most of whom are not large landholders. I admit that several of the lessees concerned already hold far more land than would normally be required for a living, and that they will suffer no hardship. But the small lessees affected are entitled to have the proposal reviewed. If it can be shown that the area chosen at Ginninderra is the only piece of land within the Australian Capital Territory . suited to the purposes of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, there can be no argument. It is admitted that the organization requires an area of approximately 2,000 acres, some of which must be flat and some of which must be undulating, and that it must be on a watercourse, but I am not prepared to accept the suggestion that the area chosen is the only land in the Territory that would satisfy its requirements. I point out that, once again, the small man must bear the burden of this expansion by the organization. There is an adjoining lease comparable in area with the whole of the land required by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. This lease is held by a very wealthy man who neither lives on the land nor makes his living from it. T suggest that it could be chosen in preference to the several small areas proposed to be taken. The lessees affected will be denied the opportunity given to other lessees in the Australian Capital Territory to convert their 25-year leases to 50-year leases and so to gain the increment that would come from such an extension. No doubt, some of them would face considerable difficulty in making a Jiving from the land that would remain to them if the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization took the land it requires. The Rural Lessees Association has protested about the proposal and suggested that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization should look for freehold land within the territory, which could be acquired by the Commonwealth, on the payment of just compensation in accordance with the terms of the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay (Lands Acquisition) Act passed last year, so that the lessees of the smaller areas in question could remain undisturbed. I make no plea for the man who has an abundance of land. 1 have no sympathy for the man who extends his landholdings within the Australian Capital Territory, by taking out leases in the names of his wife, his aunts and his cousins, so that he can shear more sheep and make greater profits, while the neighbouring small man who battles to make a living is denied the opportunity to obtain a living area from leasehold ‘ land that is the property of the people and is within the control of the Australian Government. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organization’s “proposal should be reconsidered. I know that the arguments advanced by the organization sound most reasonable. It maintains that the area must be sufficiently close to its laboratories for officers to reach it. without undue delay. However, we are not dealing just with the present. We a re dealing with the years ahead. Who knows whether, in a few years’ time, the journey will be made by means other than the motor car, as at present, and whether distance will be the overriding consideration that it is today? I understand that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Organization wants land close to a main road. T sincerely believe that its main desire is to obtain land of the type I have described,, and I believe that such land is to be found in locations at which it would not he necessary to dispossess small leaseholders of their land.
I proposed to discuss the difficulties at present facing the building industry in the Australian Capital Territory. Protests have been made about the reduction of the works programme and its effects. I agree with the decision of the Minister for the Interior to apply for a treasury grant, and I hope he receives it.
–(Mr. Mcleay). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 oppose the amendment. When the Opposition moves an amendment to a Government motion, it is incumbent on the Government and its supporters to examine that amendment. I propose to examine the amendment now. In order in examine it properly, one must consider the background to it. The Governor-General’s Speech outlined the general policy of the Government for the term of this Parliament. It was a most profound speech, which dealt with the lives, the hopes, the fears and the ambitions of the Australian people. Nowhere in it can one find mention of the whaling industry. Yet Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition in this House has chosen to propose an amendment concerned solely with that industry. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech dealt with profound and important problems of defence and foreign affairs. The policy of the Australian Labour party enunciated before the recent general elections, differed sharply from Government policy on both defence and foreign affairs. One would expect the Opposition to endeavour to discharge the duties of an opposition by helping and guiding the Government on those important problems, but it has not lone so. Instead, it has chosen to concentrate on what it says is a proposal ro sell the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission at Carnarvon, in Western Australia. It has entirely neglected the important economic problems that face Australia. It has not moved an amendment concerned with any of those problems. The Opposition chose its most damaging speaker to move the amendment, though I suggest that he is not necessarily the most damaging to the Government.
The Opposition is not properly fulfilling its functions. What trust can one put in it when it chooses to oppose the Government’s entire policy for the next three years solely on one minor feature of administration? From the interest in the whaling industry exhibited by honorable members opposite, one would expect that it would have been the first thing mentioned in the policy speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) before the recent general elections, but he did not mention it. One of the principal points of the Opposition’s election policy was a reduction of defence expenditure by £40,000,000. Consequently, one might have expected the Opposition to move an amendment relative to that proposal. Because it has not proposed an amendment relative to an important matter such as that, one can only conclude that its motives are mere humbug. The amendment calls upon the Government to terminate all negotiations for the sale or disposal of any of the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission at Carnarvon, in Western Australia. Doubtless, honorable members recall how the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) worked himself up into a frenzy when he moved this amendment. He banged his fist on the table and, turning to Australian Country party members, he tried, as he always does, to tear them to ribbons. During question time this afternoon, Opposition members uttered brawling interjections - something that they do not usually do. That is evidence that there was some hidden motive behind the amendment.
In one breath, the Opposition calls on the Government to terminate negotiations for the sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets. In the next, it asks why the Government does not sell the commission’s assets to the Western Australian Government. What do Opposition members want? Do they want the Government to abandon the sale, or do they want it to sell the Australian Whaling Commission’s assets to the Western Australian Government? They do not know what they want. They cannot decide on their policy. After the general elections, we read in the newspapers statements that, as certain people had lost their seats in this House, we should now see a united Opposition. Is theOpposition’s conduct in this matter evidence of unity? The first time it is called upon to do its work as an Opposition, its members demonstrate that they do not know what they want. I was interested also to hear the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) making out a very strong case against the sale of this whaling enterprise. He mentioned costs and he tried to work out the capital cost. I was wondering whether, if the Government negotiated a sale to the Labour Government of Western Australia, he would still hold the same views and demand a high price for the people’s assets. I am not at all convinced by all the protestations we have heard from the Opposition. Why was the Labour Government of Western Australia not aware of this Government’s intention to sell this whaling establishment? There are Labour members representing Western Australian constituencies. What were they doing to earn their pay? For the last three years most people have known that the Government does not believe in government trading. Those Labour members made no attempt to justify the payment of their salaries and expenses. If they were on the mark they would have said to the Western Australian Government, “ Here is a valuable asset. You can buy it “. Those honorable members have tried to make out on the floor of the House that there is some deceit on the Government’s part in selling this asset. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, insinuated that there was something sinister in the Minister’s intentions regarding the sale of this project. I think that there is a conspiracy, as the honorable member for Lalor has said, but it is not here on the Government side of the House at all.
– The honorable member is not on the Government side; he is on the Opposition side.
– I am on the Government side. In Ballarat, in April, 1948, the honorable member for Lalor said -
The Labour party has a master plan for total socialization. We will go on and on until eventually in Australia you will have a great co-operative Commonwealth. Its wealth will be owned by the people and it will be operated in the socialist manner for our people as a whole.
Here we come to the conspiracy. We know the Labour party’s policy, the
Marxian objective of socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange, and honorable members opposite are opposed to any single thing which comes between them and that policy. So far as they are concerned, the end justifies the means. We have heard the Governor-General’s Speech, and this pitiful amendment deals with a matter which interferes with their aim of socialization.
– Why does the honorable member call it the Governor-General’s Speech ? It is the Government’s policy.
– It is the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Here we have the real reason behind this amendment, frustration pf the socialistic tendencies of our opponents. They speak about selling the people’s assets and say that the Government has no right to sell them. We have told the people time and time again that we support the Australian way of life, which includes the system of private enterprise and does not allow for government trading. We have said that dozens of times. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports spoke very quietly, like the big bad wolf in the story of Red Riding Hood. He said, “Why are they selling this undertaking so cheaply? They have no right to sell the people’s assets “. Have honorable members opposite the right to socialize this country? Have their policy speeches ever proclaimed that they are socialists? Not a word about socialism have we read in Labour party policy speeches for State or Federal elections. We carry out the policy which we state to the people. They do not; they try to socialize by stealth. To my mind that is the story behind this amendment. They are seeking to bring the socialist policy to fulfilment. Every day these curious little matters crop up. There is the matter of compulsory unionism in New South Wales.
– Can the honorable member speak about compulsory unionism on this amendment?
– It is all part and parcel of the policy of the honorable member for Lalor. I have said before that the Opposition is guilty of foggy thinking. [Quorum formed.’] We remember that when honorable members opposite were in office they sold the scheelite shares. There was no calling for tenders in those days. They talk about the people’s assets and the people’s property. I am pretty certain that not 10 per cent, of honorable members opposite patronize the people’s bank ; they all go to the private banks. The Labour party claims to believe in the Australian way of life, but’ honorable members opposite are doing everything they can to introduce into this country a foreign ideology, materialistic socialism. Every one of them is committed to a socialist policy.
– What is wrong with that ?
– Order! There is too much audible conversation.
– If they think that socialism is so good, why do they not put it first in their election policy? Do we read anything about socialism in Labour’s policy for the New South Wales State elections? Not at all. The honorable member for Parkes spoke about cartels and monopolies entering the whaling industry. Does he not realize that the greatest monopoly in the world is the government monopoly of socialism ? Why do honorable members opposite not think a little more clearly? Why do they not support the Australian way of life? If private enterprise is so abhorrent to them, why do they not come out in the open and say that they have the same ideals and philosophy as the Marxist socialism of the Soviet Union? The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was torn apart by the honorable member for Lalor, but they have produced only this miserable amendment which indicates the motive which guided them in the last election. Intending to give birth to a whale, they have produced a sprat. The Opposition, in this first session of the new Parliament, has not shown the strength of purpose of an opposition in a democratic country. If this is the best that the Opposition can produce in the most important debate we have, it has been gravely weakened.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member in order in departing from the amendment? Should he not speak only to the amendment?
– The honorable member for Hume will be out of order if he departs from the amendment; but, in my opinion, he has not done so yet.
– I shall tie my remarks up with the .amendment. I believe that the people who thought out the amendment are gravely lacking in knowledge of the duties of an Opposition. I feel that the Opposition has been gravely weakened by the loss that it has sustained. No longer is it a strong Opposition. I recommend to members of the Opposition the story of Jonah. The crew of Jonah’s vessel cast lots and threw Jonah overboard. I understand that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has gone to Queensland to assist the Labour party there in the State election. We may be able to turn the tables on Labour in that State. I strongly oppose the amendment.
Mr. CAIRNS (Yarra) 9.51].- 1 desire to speak to the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), which opposes the proposal by the Government to sell the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission. It is a proposal now, but a few days ago it was only a whisper in the corridors. The only indication that members of the Opposition - and, I feel confident, a good many members on the Government side of the House also - ever get of what this Government proposes to do is a whisper in the corridors. In this instance, the whisper in the corridors has become a proposal which is so much in the open that it is the subject of an amendment moved by a member of the Opposition. That is a great gain. Not long ago, we and many other people knew very little about this matter, but now it is open for public discussion.
The Government has chosen to justify the disposal of the assets of the Whaling Commission on the grounds of its political philosophy. It is very good that the whaling industry should be the means of spotlighting the differences between the political philosophies of the Government and the Opposition. Only several days ago, I found it very difficult to discover whether the Government had a political philosophy, but now we have been assured by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) that the Government has one. That, too, is a great gain, which has been achieved as a result of this amendment.
The Government has not said that it believes in a private enterprise corporation or monopoly or in a competitive enterprise system for the whaling industry because that would be more efficient or would be better for Australia. The Government has not said any of those things. It has said merely that it stands for private enterprise and, therefore, that it proposes to sell the assets of the Whaling Commission. The Australian whaling industry happens to be the most efficient whaling industry in the world at the present time. Therefore, the sale of the assets of the Whaling Commission cannot be justified on the grounds that the sale would increase the efficiency of the industry - grounds about which we hear so much outside this House as a justification for the stand that the Government appears to take on the side nf private enterprise. I repeat that the Government has said merely that it believes in private enterprise, that it stands for private enterprise and, to use the words of the honorable member for “Hume (Mr. Anderson), that the end justifies the means. The view of the Government is, “ We believe in private enterprise. Therefore, the end, which is private enterprise, justifies the means, which is the disposal of the assets of the Whaling Commission “. The Government, unlike the Opposition, believes in the doctrine of the end justifying the. means.
It is quite ridiculous to try to put this kind of thing into the context of the Australian way of life, about which we have heard so much. The Australian way of life is a way of life to which public enterprise, or government enterprise, has contributed as much as private enterprise. It is ridiculous for the honorable member for Hume or anyone else to urge, night after night, with pointless platitudes, that there is something one-sided in the Australian way of life. The Australian way nf life is a very complex way of life in respect of which the Government and its supporters have no particular monopoly, f think that those pointless platitudes add very little that is of value, to the stand that the Government has taken.
The Government set about disposing of these assets as quietly as possible. Private enterprise believes in publicity and in good public relations. I think that this Government has long been in need of a good public relations officer. It does not appear to believe in the kind of publicity in which private enterprise believes. It appears to believe in selling public assets quietly. But in this case it has failed to do so. If the sale of public assets is a virtue of private enterprise., this Government is virtuous indeed. Had it not been for the forthright action of the Opposition, we should have been presented with a fait accompli.
The Minister for Trade, having decided to dispose of the assets of the Whaling Commission, has chosen to justify the disposal, not upon the ground of efficiency or what is needed in the industry, but simply on the grounds of the Government’s alleged political philosophy. It has compared its political philosophy with that of the Opposition. It has said that the political philosophy of the Opposition is socialization. That is a very good name for it. If the honorable member for Hume had remained in the chamber, I should have reminded him that socialization is not a foreign ideology. If he could spare a little time for reading, I should recommend a study of the history of socialization as a useful occupation for him, as well as for other members of the Government parties. He would find that socialization has a very long history in Great Britain. We would find that the kind of socialization in which the Opposition believes was originated by a man called Robert Owen. That is a name which obviously is quite unknown to those who support the Government. He would find also that socialization has a history in terms of the Fabian socialists and the Guild socialists of Great Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Those socialists were men and women who contriuted a great deal to the way of life, not only of Great Britain, hut also of Australia. I suggest that if the reading of Government members were a little less one-sided, they would be aware of those facts.
But let us make the comparison between the political philosophies of the Government and of the Opposition a little more pointed. First, what does the Government stand for? It appears to take the stand that private enterprise should have a free hand to set whatever prices it desires and to organize our resources for the construction of luxury flats and luxury buildings of all kinds. It appears to stand for that kind of thing. It appears to take the stand that inflation should be allowed to run uncontrolled and untramelled, causing serious damage to the Australian economy and endangering our balance of payments. The Government appears to stand for all of those things, in the name of private enterprise. This morning the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) stated, in answer to a question, “ “We do not intend to give directions to the trading banks”. Of course the Government does not intend to do so ; rather does it stand to take directions from the trading banks because it believes in private enterprise.
– The Treasurer referred to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
– If the_ honorable gentleman knew the provisions of the banking legislation, he would know that to give instructions to the Commonwealth Bank is one way of giving instructions to the trading banks. The Government stands not only for allowing a free hand to private enterprise, but also for effecting the sale of public assets under circumstances that will be favorable and acceptable to private enterprise. It stands for giving to private enterprise the maximum assistance that it can get away with. It stood for the sale of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited under much the same circumstances as it stands for the sale of the whaling commission’s assets. Moreover, it has done its best to sell the Commonwealth shipping line, and before us is the possibility that in the not distantfuture it may approve of the sale ofTransAustralia Airlines.
Not only is it a question of the philosophy of laisser-faire - or noninterference, because that is what the phrase means - justifying the action of the Government; it is also a question of transferring public assets to a certain private enterprise for the profit and benefit of that enterprise. That, I think, is what the political philosophy of this Govern ment amounts to. To seek to justify the Government’s action on the basis of laisser-faire is quite a different matter when one considers that millions of pounds’ worth of public assets, established at cost and risk to the people of Australia, are involved in a transaction of this kind.
In these matters, the Opposition stands for something that is opposed to that method of operation. It stands for public responsibility and for the prevention of transactions that are not justified by even the most Liberal - and I use a capital L - interpretation of the political philosophy of laisser-faire. “ Spoils to private enterprise” is not justified by the policy of laisser-faire. The Government is taking a doctrinaire stand on this matter. I have seldom heard a more doctrinaire set of utterances than those that were made this morning by the Minister for Trade. The Government stands for private enterprise under any and all circumstances. On the contrary, the Opposition does not take a doctrinaire stand. It does not believe in socialization under any and all circumstances; it believes in socialization when justified by public interest, and it believes that public interest demands muchsocialization.
What are the factors that can be taken into account if we are not to be doctrinaire in relation to such matters? What are the factors that the Government could take into account in deciding whether to sell the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission? The Government has not given a thought to such matters, but merely says, “ We stand for private enterprise. Therefore, we will sell the assets of the whaling commission “. It could apply the same reasoning to Parliament House. Let me direct the attention of the House for a few moments to some of the factors that it could take into account. One of the factors that have been taken into account in the past when deciding whether a certain activity should be conducted by public enterprise or private enterprise is the provision of an essential service that could not be provided by profit-making concerns. I refer to such activities as education, the provision of hospitals and the construction of railways, which were started by private enterprise but which could not be conducted properly and bad to be taken over by government enterprise. Whaling is a classic example of services that are essential to the community but which could not be conducted profitably and successfully by private enterprise. It is one of the oldest industries in Australia. I direct the attention of honorable members to a recent publication by Professor Hartwell entitled The Economic Development of Van Dieman’s Land 1820-50. At page .139 Professor Hartwell says -
The Tasmanian coast and islands were frequented by both seals and black whales until indiscriminate slaughter annihilated their breed or sent them in search of safer waters.
That is private enterprise! He continues -
The natural result of such improvident behaviour was that seals were steadily disappearing from the islands round Tasmania.
Because of the improvident plundering of the seas around Australia the whaling industry, which was a very successful and important industry from 1808 or 1809 to 1840 or 1850, disappeared as an industry. Hardly any whales at all were taken from the sea around Australia between 1860 and 1930. The industry was restored off the coast of Western Australia very largely by the Australian Whaling Commission.
Another justification for public enterprise is the conservation of resources. Whaling is a special example. No more than six stations can operate. We know that private whalers are out to get the maximum kill, and that depletion of the whale stock follows as a very likely consequence. Another justification for public enterprise that the Government, were it not completely doctrinaire, might have taken into account is the possibility of a monopoly. Almost all economists recognize that possibility as a justification for public enterprise. I have already pointed out that only six licences are in operation on the coast of Western Australia. In each case a shore based whaling station and a factory on shore are involved. The station at Carnarvon is owned by the Australian Whaling Commission. If this transaction is concluded, more than likely those six whaling stations will be combined into a single monopoly private enterprise unit and all whales caught will be processed at Point Cloates.
A further justification for public enterprise is the question of price. A fair or just price is socially desirable, but a fair or just price does not always follow from the operations of private enterprise. Exploitation or unjust prices alone justify Government enterprise. The Minister today attacked the method of paying for services out of taxation. To me that seems to show how barren of ideas the Government has become. Taxation is levied on the basis of ability to pay, but the prices charged by private enterprise are charged equally to everybody irrespective of ability to pay. One of the principles for which the Labour party stands is that people shall be required to pay for things according to their ability to pay, but, of course, the parties opposite, standing for private enterprise on doctrinaire grounds, believe that people should be compelled to pay a particular price independent of their ability to pay. The sale of the Australian Whaling Commission’s enterprise highlights, I suggest, the differences between the Government and the Opposition in all these important matters. It shows quite clearly that not only in the case of the sale of the whaling venture, but also in every one of the other matters in connexion with which the Government has attempted to shelve its public responsibility since 1949 in its failure to control inflation, that the alternative presented by the Opposition is vastly superior to that of the Government.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Mr. LINDSAY (Flinders) [10.11 J .- After the socialistic diatribe on private enterprise to which we have just listened from the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), I propose to return to the matter in hand, which is the AddressinReply. The main themes in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, as we have already heard, were the defence of this nation and the financial policy to he pursued by the Government. Before starting to speak on those matters I should like to congratulate the new members who have made their maiden speeches, especially the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). Their speeches were, as perhaps few people realize, exceptional. The honorable member for Bruce made his speech entirely off the cover of a book, and the honorable member for Moreton did not have one note in front of him when he spoke. He had before him only the notice-paper. The honorable member for Moreton anticipated me in the subject on which he spoke, but, as he made his speech some time ago, it may be permissible for me to expand on the subject slightly. His subject was, the threat to world peace by Soviet Russia.
At the beginning of the great war of 1 914-1 S Germany thought that Great Britain would not honour its obligations to Belgium, which were set out on what was called at that time a “ scrap of paper “, and was prepared, at the end of that war, having beaten France, to conquer Britain in a bloodless war by beating the British Empire to its knees by defeating it in trade. We are going through a somewhat similar period today. Soviet Russian aims are to control the world, and, of course, to smash the British Commonwealth of Nations, which is the transformed British Empire, by upsetting its finances. If Russia could cause our inflation to run high enough it would have made a breeding ground for communism within our borders, and conquest of the British Commonwealth could easily follow without the Russians having to fire a shot. I consider that Russia is still intent on world conquest, and I feel that because of the way things are shaping up at the moment the Soviet might attempt to achieve that conquest by force of arms. We all know that the Opposition refuses to nominate members to the Foreign Affairs Committee. However, I trust that, although the Opposition does not appear to be as interested in having an opportunity to study papers concerning the various happenings in the world to-day as it is in descriptions of strikes and of defiance of decisions of arbitration authorities, honorable members opposite will keep their minds open to what is going on around us in the world. I do not wish to see a war, and I do not think that a war is on the hob, but I feel that possibly a word of warning is not out of place. In this Twenty-second Parliament we shall be here for three very crucial years. If things should go wrong with diplomacy we may, in the latter days of this Parliament, have some very big decisions to make. I remind honorable gentlemen that only 21 years elapsed between the end of World War I. and the beginning of World War II. As usual, our opponents in these two wars were ready for war and we were not. It may be said that only eleven years have passed since the end of World War II., but, all the same, there is one great difference between the post-war years now and the post-war years after World War I. and World War II. I think we will all agree that, owing to the fact that Russia has such a pool of slave labour, it is definitely ready for a test by strength of arms - that is, a hot war. One point that buttresses this belief is the fact that, although we have not enough aircraft, ships, or other means of war, the Russians have got to the stage where they can dispose of jet fighters and submarines to Egypt. That, in itself, I consider, shows that Russia is well armed. We are blinded by confidence in our possession of atomic and hydrogen weapons, so that we forget that there could be a shooting war without either side dropping an atom or hydrogen bomb. No doubt, we shall keep such bombs ready in case use of them should be necessary. But, provided the other side does not start throwing such bombs around indiscriminately on major cities, they may not be used. Would we be the first to decide to use an atom bomb or a hydrogen bomb ? I have no doubt that we should not be the first to so decide. Therefore, there is a possibility that the next war will be what might be termed a conventional war.
The honorable member for Moreton rejected co-existence with the Communist world on three counts. One was morality and another was the fact of the Soviet annexations of territory which have been going on since 1939. I would say that there is another ground for rejecting coexistence, which he did not mention, but which may be worth mentioning - that is, that the Russians are quite definitely, in every single one of their actions, showing a belligerent attitude. They are deliberately stirring up trouble far afield. I can understand, if they are afraid that we are going to attack them, their consolidation of their boundaries proper. But reports show that they are going as far afield as the Yemen. Nobody is going to attack the Yemen, but the Russians are ready to enter that country if they consider it of advantage to them. Off the Yemen lies Aden, which is of great strategic value to us, and which the Russians could attack on the ground of helping the Yemen. We all know that the Russians are giving arms to Egypt and Afghanistan. Those countries have nothing to do with Russia’s security, because neither of them is in a position to attack Russia; but, in the event of the world war breaking out, they would be strategically important to the free nations of the world. The states of India and Burma, various other states to the north of us, have been visited by “ high-ups “ of the Soviet Union. It seems that their sole idea is to stir up trouble again.
Now, there is another aspect. There are moral reasons why we should become strong in order to aid the free world. Our Christian code does not allow us to be cruel to animals, caged birds or various other things. But there are approximately 90,000,000 caged people, who once were free, in the occupied countries of Europe and those 90,000,000 people are looking to the free world for a ray of hope. By the time that we come to the conclusion that they are worth helping, they may have been completely indoctrinated, and will not be able to get fi ee. Shortly after the visit of the Soviet heads of State to the United Kingdom, there will be arguments, and those arguments will have to be backed by strength. The stakes will be either a free world or an enslaved world. I, therefore, fully endorse the policy of defence which is enunciated in the address of His Excellency. I deplore a couple of speeches that have been made by Opposition members. I feel that we shall hear a good many more in the same strain as the first, but I hope that we shall not hoar many more in the strain of the second one. The first speech to which I refer was made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), who suggested that the Colombo Plan should be financed from the defence vote. That claim was frequently made in the last Parliament.
It would be an easy way to get some money, but I consider that it would be most dangerous to take any money from that grant. The other speech was made by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson).
– A splendid speech.
– I quite agree. And the compatriot of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), listened to every single word of it. But when the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) made what I considered waa a very good speech that was truly Australian and for the good of Australia, the honorable member for Yarra read a book and never listened to one word of it. However, in his speech, the honorable member for Hughes said that any money voted for defence was for aggression only. I think that is going a little bit far because, after all, we have never started any trouble. We are not prepared for any trouble now and we need to make a little preparation. We need friends. We have friends, but let us keep them. In order to keep them, let us show our earnest to back them up with what we can do in this great cause.
There are two other matters in the Speech of His Excellency to which ? should like to refer. They more or less dovetail. His Excellency said -
An extensive programme of migration has undoubtedly added to the labour force available in Australia and will, in due time, make a direct contribution to the national security. In the meantime, the migration programme gives rise to substantial demands upon capital resources for industry, houses, schools, hospitals, transport and public services generally.
We all have received a copy of a paper which has just been released, stating that a £100,000,000 plan to improve our roads is to be launched in the near future. This has been needed for a very long time. From my experience, I have come to the conclusion that a small committee is required which will lay down the general principles. After all, we are trying, by immigration, to increase the population, yet an enormous number of people are killed annually in road accidents, and among the victims are a great number of new Australians. A grim joke that I have heard several times is : “ Have you heard the definition of a temporary Australian? It is a new Australian with a motor hike”. Wherever new roads are being made, there seems to be very little co-ordinated planning. One can have w hat is known as a “ round about “ and that is absolutely simple. It is just a method of making traffic go slowly round and each vehicle leads off into the road it wishes to take. People seem to have the idea that a round about consists of a straight cross-over for through traffic and this is one of the principal causes of road deaths. There is generally a maze of clover-leaf roads around this main crossing and it is hard to know which one leads where. Also, if badly lightedat night, it is very easy to get on to the wrong track. I suggest, while the plan for the expenditure of £100,000,000 is in its infancy, that some overall authority should be established to formulate uniform plans for all States because, with better roads, more people will go from State to State.
Another proposition that I should like to put up concerns education. We all know that there are not enough schools to accommodate our children. This situation, again, is linked with the flow of immigrants. This year, a record programme involving the expenditure of £7,000,000 is being embarked upon. Even so, there are young children who should be attending school this year for the first time and for whom there are no local schools. They have to board a train, travel two suburbs away, and then find their way across roads to various halls in which their classes are held. An enormous number of new immigrants reside in my area. Naturally, a great many of them are of the Catholic faith. We know that they can go to our schools if they care to, but for this reason or that they possibly do notwish to do so. However, it is very difficult for them to get into their own schools. More are being built and I suggest to the Treasurer that it might be possible to introduce a scheme, like the homes-for-the-aged scheme, under which the Commonwealth could give financial aid. This would make available more schools, or places where school teaching goes on. The accommodation being provided by the
Catholics is saving us buildings, ‘and the cost of training and paying more teachers. This makes available more trained people, who are getting scarcer every day.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Cope) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that the following senators had been appointed members of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee : - The President of the Senate and Senator Arnold and Senator Marriott.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the appointment of a Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and had appointed Senator Cole, Senator Gorton, Senator Maher, Senator Pearson and Senator Wordsworth to serve on the committee.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
– That Mr. Downer, Mr. Drummond, Mr. Joske, Mr. Kent Hughes, Mr. Lucock, Mr. Mackinnon, Mr. Timson and Mr. Wentworth be members of the joint committee appointed to consider foreign affairs generally and, in particular, to inquire into matters referred to it by the Minister for External Affairs.
– That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
– The Opposition did not know that this matter was coming forward. Will the Minister in charge of the House permit an adjournment of the debate until to-morrow so that my colleagues and I can look at the names and make our observations ?
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Last week I brought to the notice of the House a matter concerning the wrongful use of the powers of the security service in an endeavour to intimidate an Australian citizen by suggesting that he had no right to approach a member of this Parliament, or to ask a newspaper to publish his story. This particular incident arises out of some allegations which I made in this House some time ago and which members on the Government side tried, at the time, to brush lightly aside by suggesting that I was endeavouring to smear a witness before a royal commission in order to affect the reception by the public of the report of that commission. Of course, the commission’s inquiries have now ended and we have dealt with its report, so I cannot be similarly charged on this occasion.
I well recollect that I tried, over a very lengthy period, to get information regarding alleged trafficking in liquor obtained from a diplomatic source and retailed on the Australian market by two men, one of whom was then a member of the Russian legation but has since defected. The other was Dr. Bialoguski, one of the principal witnesses before the royal commission.
When I first sought information about this matter, the then Minister for Trade and Customs said that it was not the practice to give information regarding liquor imported into this country by any importer. That was not the information that I was seeking at all. I wanted to know the quantities of liquor brought into this country and sold to the various legations, duty-free, so that I would be able to establish that an abnormally large quantity had been brought in through Russian diplomatic channels during this period.. The Minister later tried to suggest that no separate records were kept and that, therefore, it was most difficult to get this information for me. He said that it would be too costly, but I discovered that it could he given by any officer of the department in about ten minutes, because orders for this liquor are made out in triplicate, and one copy is filed in the department. Apparently, if one can give the period concerned, officials oan give the information in a few minutes, if they want to do so.
The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), who is now Minister for
Customs and Excise, said on that occasion that there was no basis for these allegations, that it was only an endeavour to smear witnesses and destroy public confidence in the finding of the royal commission. I wonder what the honorable member has to say now, in view of what Mr. Marue has said in the press. Mr. Marue claims that for two years he was employed by the security service of this country to watch Dr. Bialoguski, although Dr. Bialoguski, in turn, was employed by the security service to watch a Mr. Petrov. Security officers were not sure whether Dr. Bialoguski was working for security or for the Soviet, so they gave Mr. Marue the job of watching him. I suggest that the Minister for Customs and Excise might examine the newspaper report of Mr. Marue’s statement, which appeared last week after I had raised the matter in this House. Part of the article reads as follows : -
He had bought from Bialoguski liquor that Bialoguski had received from a diplomat - . .
Does any one need evidence as to who the diplomat might be? The article continues - f informed Security and I also informed it highly placed police officer that I was engaged in illegal buying of liquor but suggested he check with Security before taking any action
That is Mr. Marue’s story, so it is quite obvious that, whatever the Government may say, he was employed by security and is prepared to back up, right to the hilt, the statement that I made regarding trafficking in liquor obtained from this source.
Last week, I handed to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. McMahon), who was then in charge of the House, the name of the person whom I suggested had been engaged with Dr. Bialoguski in this tr: flicking. The Minister promised that th ;re would be some investigation of the matter, but although I have waited very pfiently I have had no news of the result -if an investigation has been made. Mr. Marue has been threatened. According to his newspaper statement he has been threatened anonymously. He said -
Security asked me to use discretion in statements about my work
But at no time did any Security man threaten me or ask me to keep quiet.
At first glance it would appear that there was no justification or basis for my allegation that an attempt had been made to intimidate him, but let us examine his story. He claims that he was not fully or accurately reported in the newspaper to which I have referred and wrote to the editor-in-chief about the matter. I have here a copy of the letter that he wrote to that gentleman setting out the position exactly. Here is what he said -
I also asked Mr. Ward if Security would have the power to deport me for telling the truth, which might be the Security would not like the public to know.
This man is a new Australian, and 1 am reading the words just as they appeared in his letter to the editorinchief. He said -
At no time any Security man threaten me directly or asked me to keep quiet. I have been, however, warned to be very sure of facts, and that I can get in trouble.
If that is not a threat from a security officer, I do not know what is. Why did the security officer, in any case, go to see Mr. Marue immediately the security officers heard that he intended to hand his story to the newspapers for publication? It was because they were afraid of what he might tell. Here is what he goes on to say -
I told Mr. Ward that after I saw the editor of the Daily Telegraph and he was most interested in my story, two Security men came to my place and we have had a long conversation about my story. They gave me to understand that they do not have any objections if I blame in my story Dr. Bialoguski, but they would not be very glad if I blame the Security, because for everything the Security has done, what might seem to mc as not very smart, they have had a good reason.
They were afraid that Marue was going to tell the story, and there is no doubt in the world that Marue was afraid. He is not yet a naturalized British subject, and his naturalization papers, I understand, have been presented to the department for consideration. Marue was afraid thai if he were to tell the full story of what he knows about this matter he might be faced with deportation, and that he might be sent out of the country back to the land whence he came. It is improper for the security service to intimidate people. I ask the Government to ascertain how it was known to the security service that Marue had seen me at all, and where he had seen me. That information could only have been obtained by the security officers watching the movements of Marue, or watching who was calling to interview me. Those methods might be acceptable in a police state. We have heard a great deal about the champions of democracy on the Government side, but here in Austraila we have what is really not a security service in the real sense of the term, but a government secret police force used for the purpose of intimidating people and doing the work of the Government. It is not performing the function for which it was established by a Labour government.
T want the Government to examine this matter. This accusation is not based merely on my word. The man who makes these allegations says that tor two years he worked for the security service, and that, while doing so, he was trafficking, with Dr. Bialoguski, in the importation or purchase of liquor through a diplomatic source, an action which constituted an abuse of diplomatic privilege. I therefore say that the Australian public would like to know now, even though the investigations of the Royal Commission on Espionage in Australia have been concluded, the type of individual upon whose evidence and whos, word most of these allegations were based, when it is established beyond any doubt whatever that he was nothing more than a scoundrel in this community.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has made a series of involved and violent accusations against the security service, covering a very wide field. That will cause no surprise at all, because, as we all know, it has been a habit of the honorable member for some years to make accusations of this kind. However, in the course of his remarks to-night, he made some accusations about diplomatic personnel dealing in liquor, which could possibly, if they had any substance, concern the administration of the department that I have the honour to administer. I shall, of course, look into his charges, even though they come from the honorable member for East Sydney-
M.v. Ward. - The charges were made by Marue, who worked for the security service. I have merely recounted them.
– Or that the honorable member for East Sydney makes for Marue. I shall look into them with the same seriousness as I should consider such charges if they had been made by any more responsible member of the Opposition. The honorable member for East Sydney referred to statements made by me in a speech in this House on the security service. I hope that he will forgive me. and I hope that other honorable members will forgive me, if I have not followed in complete detail the involved sequence of suggestion, charge and counter-charge.
– I do not think the Minister is in a condition to follow it.
– Order !
M r. OSBORNE. - The honorable member will make his own judgment in a matter of that sort, as he is well known to do. I shall go into the question of the administration of my department in relation to the things that the honorable member has suggested, and I shall give hi in an answer in due course. In the meantime, I am sure that the House will treat his remarks on the basis of the long series of speeches that he has made over a period of years, in which he has expressed his violent animosity to the Petrovs because they have had the courage, one might say, to give to this country the benefit of their knowledge and experience, which has resulted in great harm and inconvenience to friends of the honorable member for East Sydney.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) ri0.46].- I feel that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne) has put his finger on a most important point. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has exposed not the Petrovs hut himself. It is easy to see which side he is on. It is easy to see that he wishes to give aid and comfort to the Communist faction and that he is indignant at anything being done which would be displeasing to that faction. That brings me to the point which is the reason for my rising to my feet. In the Communist journal the Tribune, of the 22nd February, 1956, there is a reference to the South Australian elections, and ;he following appears: -
The campaign for the March 3 State election in South Australia is in full swing.
In the campaign, the A.L.P. and Communist party are making a strong bid to unseat the Playford Government,
That is not an isolated statement. In various issues of the Tribune there have been many references to LabourCommunist unity. Of course one does not necessarily take any statement of the Communists at face value, but in this instance something has happened which I think should be brought to the attention of this House. In the State electorate of Port Adelaide, the official Labour party which, 1 understand, is in full communion with the Opposition here, proposes to give its second preferences to the Communist candidate and its third preferences to the anti-Communist candidate. That shows very clearly what is really in the mind of the Opposition, or, should I say, of the party that represents the Opposition in South Australia. It can say, “ We did this inadvertently; we did not really mean very much by it “, but the fact will remain that it will have done it. Apparently the members of that party do not think it is important that they should be helping the Communists. They do not think it is important that the other candidate, to whom they propose to give their third preferences, is an anti-Communist. I believe that in this case there may be some underground alliance between the Communists and the Labour party, rather more than appears on the surface, because the Communist candidate is a man who has polled well in previous elections, and it may be that the Labour party would be not unwilling to see him get into Parliament on its preferences. It may be that it would certainly prefer to have him in Parliament on its preferences than have an anti-Communist in Parliament on Labour party preferences. This is not an isolated thing which applies only to South Australia. It illustrates something which happens in most socialist parties and which has happened in the Labour party in this House, namely, that when a split occurs, they heal the breach by moving to the left. It is one of the mechanics of politics which the Communist party exploits, and which is most useful to the Communist party, because it enables that party to use the Labour party as its stalking-horse. Here in this House, we have seen the pro-Communist wing of the Labour party, led by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) swamping the other faction in the Labour party. The other faction has been liquidated. Yes, unity has been achieved at the price of deviating Labour s policy in the direction in which the Communists want it to go. Even in matters of high foreign policy, for example the Hobart conference decisions of the Labour party–
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) rightly says, “ Hear, hear ! “–
– Good decisions.
– The honorable member says they are good decisions, because they are decisions forced on that conference by the Communists, following the Communist line. Again, this is not something which happens only in this House. For example, the same kind of thing is happening in New South Wales politics. Nobody - certainly I would not do it - would accuse Mr. Cahill of being a Communist. I think that, personally, he is probably opposed to communism. I have every reason to think so, but he is a weak man who is unwilling to stand up for his principles, and he is purchasing Labour unity at the cost of capitulating to the Communist party and liquidating, inside the New South Wales machine, any organization which could oppose the Communist party effectively.
This, again, is an illustration of this tendency - it is not confined to one party - whereby the socialists are moved to the left in order to heal their own breaches, and this mechanism is the one which the Communist party exploits. Indeed, there may be times - I think this is one of them - when a weak non-Communist can be more useful to the Communist party than an outright one, because most Australians^ - and I am not including the honorable member for East Sydney in this - hate and detest communism. The Communist party cannot get an open and outright vote in its favour. The only way it can impose its policy on the Australian people is to find a stalking-horse, somebody who is a colourable non-Communist, who will be thought to be non-Communist but who, by reason of his weakness, by reason of his desire to purchase Labour unity at the price of his principles, can be edged in the way in which the Communists want him to go. It has occurred in this House, and a principle, of which the Opposition in its present form is the living embodiment, is in evidence, a little later in time, a little lower in key, perhaps, in the same way in New South Wales politics to-day. Because you have there a man who is known to be not personally a Communist himself, you find there a man who will be electorally very useful to the Communists, since it is only such a man who can get a vote to put into power the party which will go the way the Communist party wants it to go, as the Opposition has done, and as the Opposition, by its presence and unity in this House, evidences here to-night.
Even in Queensland, it would appear that the same processes are operating. The left wing is taking authority- from the executive of the parliamentary wing and has succeeded, according to the information in the press, in liquidating the anti-Communists and in bring to naught just recently an attempt to set tip in the Queensland Labour party an organization to counter the infiltration of the Communists into the Australian Labour party. These are things which are of great moment to this House and to the country. What starts in Adelaide with this exchange of preferences goes on, and instances a principle animating the whole of socialist politics in Australia.
Mr. CHAMBERS (Adelaide) [10.55). - I desire to refute completely the mean and contemptible suggestion of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that the South Australian branch of the Australian Labo-ir party was associated with, and was working with, the Communist party in that State. That is a deliberate lie, a falsehood-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman will withdraw that term.
– I withdraw it, and say that it is a deliberate falsehood. The honorable member for Mackellar knows that it is not true.
– I rise to order, and ask for a withdrawal of that remark. The allegation is made that I have said things which. I know to be untrue.
– Order ! I cannot order the withdrawal of that statement.
– I maintain that ii is a statement that the honorable member knows is not true. I remind the honorable member, and this House, that at the last federal election a known and reputed Communist Senate candidate in New South Wales polled 90,000 votes, and that 70,000 of his preferences went to the present Government parties. I ask the Government supporters to answer that one. This never happens to any member of the Labour party when he is a candidate for election to this Parliament, but a member of the Government party was elected to this Parliament on the preferences of the Communists. Again, I ask honorable members on the Government side to answer that one.
– Who was that?
– That is the “ Red “ Dean.
– The Minister- for Customs and Excise (Mr. Osborne) knows who it was. He is not in doubt, lt is a fact. I ask honorable members on the Government side to name any one on this side of the House who has been elected on the Communist preferences.
– Yes, the former honorable member for Perth, Mr. Tom Burke, at the election in 1954.
– It is a fact that of 90,000 votes cast for a reputed and known Communist candidate for the Senate, 70,000 preferences went to the Liberal party. At no time have 70,000 Communist votes gone to the Labour party.
As to the Anti-Communist Labour party, we do not recognize it at all because we on this side of the House have proved by action and by deed, year in and year 0 nt, that we are anti-Communist.
– You have to convince the public of that.
– I have yet to see any real, practical demonstration, any real action taken by the Government parties against the Communist party. We have taken action on many occasions. Here I want to let it be known that when the Communists refused to obey the laws of this country, we of the Labour party, as a government, were responsible for gaoling certain members of the Communist party. When certain members of the Communist party refused to obey the laws of the country, when we were the Government, we froze their assets. So I say it is most remarkable to hear the honorable member for Mackellar attempt to line the South Australian branch of the Australian Labour party with the Communist party. There is no association with the Communist party. We do not recognize any anti-Communist Labour party, as it is called, and the Government also should not recognize it.
– Why does the Australian Labour party give the Communists its second preferences?
– Why did the Communists, by their second preferences, elect to this Parliament members of the Liberal party? Let the Minister answer that question.
– Why did the Australian Labour party associate with the Communists in South Australia?
– As a member of the South Australian branch of the Australian Labour party, I can say that this party has no association with the Australian Communist party in South Australia. I have no doubt that the honorable member is well aware of that fact. A number of Government supporters have been elected to this Parliament on the preferences of the Australian. Communist party.
.- I am a little surprised that the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) should have exhibited such a dishevelled anxiety for historic accuracy. Apparently, he has completely overlooked the fact that the former honorable member for Perth, Mr. Tom Burke, was elected on the Communist preferences. In point of fact, the present honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) was Mr. Burke’s opponent on the occasion to which I refer. There is no denying the facts. The best the honorable member for Adelaide can make out of his argument is a sort of quid pro quo on this one issue. I remind him that 80 per cent, of the preferences of Communist candidates throughout Australia go to the Australian Labour party candidates. There is no denying the point made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that we in Australia at present see a distinct movement by the Australian Labour party towards unity with the Australian Communist party. Only yesterday, evidence of this fact was presented to the nation by the proceedings at the State LabourinPolitics Convention now being held at Mackay, in Queensland.
– What is the evidence?
Mr.KILLEN. - For the information of the House, and for the benefit and enlightenment of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope), I point out that Mr. C. R. Muhldorff moved that the convention establish an organization to oppose communism. Mr. Muhldorff’s proposal was rejected by the convention. It is rather interesting to recall that, in 1953, the Labour-in-Politics Convention held at Rockhampton approved, by 103 votes to 5, or 7, the report of the industrial groups in Queensland. On this occasion, a move by the right wing of the Australian Labour party in Queensland - and there are elements of the right wing of the party on the Opposition side of this House - to oppose communism effectively in the trade union movement has been rejected.
– Are all the people planted in the party Communists, too?
– I remind the honorable member of the observation made at the Mackay convention by the present Treasurer of Queensland, Mr. Walsh, who said -
But I regret to say that an atmosphere is developing that would suggest that the very effective activities and organization of the Communist Party are making inroads into the trade union movement and the Labour movement in this State.
– He said nothing of the kind.
Mr.KILLEN. - I realize that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr.
Ward) has a sort of boyish enthusiasm for boisterousness in politics. It is high time he tried to curb that enthusiasm in this National Parliament. Unquestionably, there is a definite move by the Australian Labour party towards leftism in politics. The party is getting back to a re-affirmation of the infamous decisions of the party’s federal convention in 1921. Even during the last 48 hours, there ha ve been references in another place, in this House and outside the Parliament to the abolition of the bi-cameral system of government in Australia. That is part of the move towards the establishment of a supreme economic council, which all honorable members know is so near and dear to the heart of the honorable member for East Sydney, who, when the honorable member for Mackellar was addressing the House, cheered and applauded the decisions of the Hobart conference of the Australian Labour party. I remind the honorable member for East Sydney, the House and the country that the Soviet “ big three “ on that occasion also applauded the decisions of the Hobart conference.
.- Mr. Speaker–
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 24
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.11 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Was Service Homes.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions the Minister for the Navy has furnished the following answers : -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information : -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions : -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has furnished the following answer: -
No. In the case of one officer, in consequence of an overpayment having been made, fees to which he subsequently became entitled were withheld until re-imbursement of the over-payment had been completed.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 February 1956, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1956/19560229_reps_22_hor9/>.