House of Representatives
29 August 1957

22nd Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Mr. CLARK presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that immediate consideration be given to the matter of increasing the rates of age, invalid and widows’ pensions to at least 50 per cent, of the basic wage.

Petition received and read.

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– I ask the Prime Minister, or the Minister for Defence, whether the statement made in conjunction with the British Minister for Defence in relation to the nuclear deterrent represents the view of the Government.

Prime Minister · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– The answer is “ Yes “.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. As import licensing is at present being modified to allow for the issue of licences on a sales replacement basis, can the Minister offer those manufacturers who are recognized to be sensitive to Japanese competition an assurance that licences will be issued, on a world basis, for only that surplus of buyer demand which the Australian manufacturers are not able to satisfy? In other words, will the Minister try to regulate the total quantity of goods to be made available to the Australian buying public, particularly in these sensitive industries, so that the output of Australian manufacturers and the quantity for which licences will be issued on a world basis will approximate, as closely as possible, the total demand?

Minister for Trade · MURRAY, VICTORIA · CP

– As the Government has been able to allot further funds for the issue of import licences, one of the steps now being taken, as the honorable member mentioned, is to put 58 items on what we describe as a sales replacement basis, that is, licences to the value of the quantities sold will be issued to the importers. However, the honorable member raises a quite separate and fundamental matter when he suggests that there should be a restriction on the issue of licences to the extent that no licence would be granted if an Australian, industry were able to satisfy the local demand for a commodity. That would mean, in effect, that an embargo would be imposed. I am sure that such a policy has never been contemplated by any Australian government. It is not a policy that would be consistent with our international obligations, and I am sure that it could not be approved. On the other hand, I take this opportunity to make it quite clear that there will be a most careful and continuous study of the volume of items permitted to be imported from Japan under the terms of this treaty. I refer to items which we have described as being produced by an Australian industry sensitive to Japanese competition.

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– In view of the great need to combat the suffering and loss of Australian life caused by the ravages of cancer, which is claimed to be the cause of at least 17 per cent, of all deaths occurring in Australia, has the Minister for Health taken any action to submit to the Government proposals which are likely to result in financial grants being made to State governments or hospital authorities to permit the provision of cobalt beam therapy units to suitable hospitals? If not, will the Minister make submissions to the Government to ensure that ample finance will be made available to permit the provision of such units as a matter of extreme urgency throughout suitable Australian hospitals? Is it a fact that cobalt beam therapy units cost at least £40,000 each?


– I am not aware that finance is not available to State governments for the installation of these units, and I am not aware of any requests from State governments to the Commonwealth Government for assistance in this matter. In fact, quite a number of cobalt beam units have been installed already or are in process of installation. These units, of course, deliver radiation precisely similar to that delivered by X-ray units, and at some hospitals, X-ray units of this nature are also functioning. It should not be thought, either, that the only weapon against cancer is radiation. Surgery plays a very large part and, perhaps, still the major part in the fight against cancer. I think that the other question the honorable gentleman asked about the price of these units perhaps under-states their cost a little, but I am not aware of any inability on the part of State governments to provide these units where they are necessary.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry in relation to ;the Government’s decision to provide funds for the establishment of a trawling industry based on Port Adelaide and operating in the -Great Australian Bight. Was the Government’s decision not to use Albany as a base influenced by the fact that a private trawling company lost a considerable amount of money at Albany a few years ago? Has the Minister examined the errors which caused that company’s failure? They are fairly well known in Western Australia and could easily be avoided in a new venture. Will the Minister consider operating an occasional shuttle service between Port Adelaide and Albany? By that I mean a system whereby ;the trawlers leave Port Adelaide, fish in the Bight, proceed to Albany to dispose of the catch then return to fishing operations before going back to the Port Adelaide base. In that way the economic possibilities of an industry based on Albany can be examined, and the people in country areas given an ^opportunity to obtain supplies of fish.

Minister for Primary Industry · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I read the report submitted by the committee that investigated the problem of trawling in the Great Australian Bight. The committee reported .that the probable reason for the failure of ;the Albany venture was that the two trawlers employed there were not of the right type and were inefficient. I think there was also some evidence that the -method of trawling was not as good or as efficient as it might have been. The decision was made to base the trawler, when it was purchased, on Port Adelaide, because it is desired to provide fresh fish for the Adelaide and Melbourne markets, and it was thought, therefore, that Port Adelaide would be centrally situated for this purpose. After representations were made by the “honorable member some time ago, I tried to find out whether it would be practicable to base the trawler on Albany, but the committee thought that if this were done, and the trawler spent some or most of its time in Port Adelaide, it would be necessary to have two fuelling centres and two centres where the seamen could be paid and given leave. Nevertheless, I think the honorable member’s suggestion is a very good one, and I will submit it to the committee, to see whether a shuttle service can be instituted. It seems to me to be a wise suggestion, and if anything can be done towards adopting it, I shall convey the decision to the honorable member.

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– Can the Minister for Immigration tell me whether the decision to limit accommodation in immigrant hostels to bed-rooms only was made with the approval of the Department of Immigration and the Minister, or whether it was made solely by Commonwealth Hostels Limited? Is the Minister aware that this decision means that families of immigrants consisting of husband, wife and two or three children have their accommodation limited to two or three bed-rooms? In the hostel at Finsbury, in which I am particularly interested, families of immigrants have no sitting rooms and no lounges. They have nowhere to congregate in the evenings except in one of their bed-rooms. This means that the three or four members of a family are crowded into a bed-room measuring about 12 feet by 9 feet. This is causing more discontent than any other feature of hostel life. Is the Minister aware of this? If he is not, will he investigate the matter and ensure that in hostels where rooms are available immigrants are provided with reasonable accommodation, both for sleeping and for use by families in the evenings, particularly by children who have to do their school work?

Minister for Immigration · DENISON, TASMANIA · LP

– Immigrant hostels are administered by my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, and I shall discuss with him the question raised by the honorable member. At the same time, I naturally take an interest in these hostels, and have visited quite a number of them. In the hostels that I have visited I have seen what I consider to be quite reasonable accommodation. The honorable member must remember that immigrant hostels are not meant to provide permanent accommodation. They provide temporary accommodation only. Speaking from memory, I think the charge for a whole week’s board and residence is about £2 10s. It is, therefore, not reasonable to expect too much. I will, however, speak to the Minister for Labour and National Service about this matter and ascertain what the position is.

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– Can the Prime Minister say whether the report of the Constitution Review Committee will be presented in the near future? If it is so presented, will an opportunity for discussion be provided during this sessional period?


– I cannot say when the report will be available, but I will ask the Attorney-General, who is the chairman, to give me some idea as to when it will be. Naturally, after receiving it we would desire to put it into the hands of honorable members as soon as possible.

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– I direct my question to the Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister yet had occasion to avail himself of the provisions of section 21 of the Nationality and Citizenship Act, which deals with the deprivation of citizenship and which reduces the status of naturalized Australians to that of second-grade Australian citizens? Does the Minister agree that the provisions of this act are such as to prejudice unfairly the position of naturalized Australians compared with Australianborn citizens who, unlike the former, cannot be deprived of their citizenship? Will he consider removing this discrimination against naturalized Australians at the first opportunity?


– No, I have not had any occasion to use section 21 of the act. As a matter of fact, it has been used only seven times in history, I understand. Under these provisions a person becomes a naturalized citizen after serving, as it were, an apprenticeship of five years in the country. There are plenty of people who think that that is a fairly reasonable period for an alien to serve in this country before he gets the rights that go with naturalization. I think the honorable member himself had five years’ war service outside this country, and I think it is quite reasonable to expect people who come here from foreign countries to serve something like a similar period before they get the rights and entitlements of Australian citizenship. There is a provision applicable to a naturalized Australian who is guilty of disloyalty to the Queen or who becomes convicted of a criminal charge involving a sentence of twelve months. The Minister does have access to this particular section, which he may invoke if he wants to, and deprive that citizen of his naturalization. But it must be remembered that the pre-requisite is disloyalty to the Crown or the commission of a criminal offence. I do not think it is too much to require our naturalized citizens to be law-abiding and loyal.

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– Will the Minister for Social Services inform the House whether the decentralization of the administration of the Department of Social Services by the development of regional offices has proved beneficial and resulted in the provision of better service to the public, as was expected?

Minister for Social Services · RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

Mr. Speaker, consistent with the decentralization policy of the Government, and largely due to the persistence of the honorable member for Corio and other honorable members, that policy has been put into operation by the Department of Social Services in the State of Victoria, where regional offices with complete autonomy have been opened at Bendigo, Geelong and Wangaratta. Of course, there have been regional offices in all the States of the Commonwealth over a number of years, but they have had limited functions and it was not competent for the regional officers to give decisions on applications made to them from day to day. The regional offices, now with complete autonomy in Victoria, are in a position to give immediate decisions, and the experiment has been an unqualified success. I hope that the decentralization policy will continue until it covers the six States of the Commonwealth.

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– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for Health. Has his attention been drawn to the desperate financial position that is confronting Australian public hospitals to-day? Has the Minister given consideration to a review of the hospital subsidy paid by the Federal Government of 8s. a bed a day, which has been operating for the past twelve years? In view of the great increase in hospital operating costs over that period, will the Minister examine the possibility of an increased subsidy being paid in order to offset the intolerable deficits that most hospitals are now incurring?


– The honorable member should realise that the question of finance for State hospitals is one largely to be settled by the State governments themselves. The Commonwealth makes available to the States through taxation reimbursements, and in some cases through extra grants, a very large sum of money each year. State governments themselves decide how much will be allocated to hospitals. As far as the question of hospital bed subsidies is concerned, the Commonwealth made available to the States last year about £9,000,000 over and above the amount the States had available to them from the other sources I have mentioned, and that brought in its train fund benefits from the various insurance organizations of another £7,000,000. When the honorable gentleman speaks of the desperate financial position of hospitals, he should not imply that the Commonwealth has been unmindful of their plight; in fact, it has made very large sums available to them over and above what the States themselves can provide.

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– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that large sums of money are given annually to the Elizabethan Theatre Trust to help the development of artists, producers and others in the theatrical professions? Is he aware, also, that by ending restrictions on imported television programmes, the development and livelihood of many script writers, producers, artists and technicians will be drastically affected? In order to protect our overseas balances as well as to prevent the killing of this new and very promising industry as the film industry was killed, and in order to encourage Australian artists who have proved time and again that they can achieve world class, will the Postmaster-General look into this matter before it is too late and the damage irrevocably done?

Postmaster-General · DAWSON, QUEENSLAND · CP

– The honorable member for Flinders bases his question on action taken by the Treasury and the Department of Trade in carrying out Government policy, which always has been that import restrictions will be regarded as a temporary measure designed to correct unfavorable trade balances and not as protection for industry generally. The lifting of these restrictions is not a matter which is dealt with by my department, but I think I should say, as I have, that it is in accordance with Government policy and that if any assistance is needed by any industry against importations, then other avenues are available to that industry. The impact of this action on the operations of television and broadcasting stations in the employment and development of Australian artists is a matter which comes under my jurisdiction, and I have always paid considerable attention to it. In recent weeks, I have given some thought to the impact of this recent development on that phase of the matter, but I point out to the honorable member that the increase in the import of television programmes does not mean any reduction in the quality of programmes, nor does it necessarily mean any reduction in the Australian content of the films that are offering.

Mr Haylen:

– Rubbish! That is a complete lie! You are misinformed. How many Australian dramas have been on television?


- Mr. Speaker, I might draw your attention to the remark that was made, but if you did not hear it, I will let it pass. I take it very seriously.

Mr Haylen:

– Personally I do not think you would tell a lie, but you are misinformed. It is a lie.


– Order! The honorable member for Parkes will withdraw that remark and will cease interjecting.

Mr Haylen:

– I withdraw it.


– The development of the Australian content in our television programmes is something which cannot be achieved immediately to the full extent desired. For instance, both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the commercial licensees have been doing a very good job in building up the percentage of Australian content being used. My latest report shows that it is standing at between 45 per cent. and 61 per cent. of the total programmes. If one takes into consideration the fact that the studios are not yet fully equipped, and that the training of television script writers, cameramen and other technicianstakes a considerable time, one comes to the conclusion that the licensees have been doing a good job.I assure honorable members that this matter has received my careful attention, and will continue to receive it. Moreover, if it becomes necessary later to take further action to give effect to the Government’s policy, which has been expressed from time to time by me and by my predecessors - the encouragement of Australian talent - I shall not hesitate to take it.

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– Has the Minister for Health received a communicationfrom the Premier of South Australia informing him that many ex-service men and women are on the long waiting list for medical treatment at the Royal Adelaide Hospital while one ward of the Dawes Road General Repatriation Hospital has been closed? If the Minister has received such advice, has he been able to confer with the Minister for Repatriation to ascertain whether it is possible to make this ward available for the treatment of ex-service men and women and their dependants, at fees not higher than those applicable at theRoyal Adelaide Hospital? If no such communication has been received, will he investigate the matter and see whether it ispossible to do as I have suggested?

Dr.DONALD CAMERON. -I have received no such communication, and I should not like to commit myself to anything until I do.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. On Tuesdayhe said, in answer to a question toy the honorable member for Bendigo -

I pointed out, on behalfofthe Government, that it did not, in principle, favour exportsubsidies because if it granted a subsidy to one export industry it would be necessary to give it to all export industries.

He was referring to the desperate position of the poultry industry ofthis country.

Is he aware that section 5 of the Dairying Industry Act, which was passed in May of this year, reads -

  1. Subject to this Act -

    1. a bounty is payable on the production of butter at butter factories.
  2. The bounties are payable out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament from time to time forthe purpose.

Will the Minister explain, for the benefit of egg producers, the difference between a bounty and a subsidy, and the reason why he has made fish of one and fowl of another?


– On occasions like this I wish that my colleague, the Minister for Social Services, who has a highly developed sense of humour, could answer the question. I am not trying to make fish of one and fowl of another so far as the egg industry is concerned. That is well beyond my capacity. The bounty provisions operating in the dairying industry have been in existence for many years and, in point of fact, there is no difference between a bounty and a subsidy. Perhaps, in future, it would be wise to use only the word “ bounty “, for that is the word used in the Australian Constitution. The butter subsidy relates to the butter industry as a whole - and to a stabilization scheme which applies to the total production of butter, for local consumption and 20 per cent.of local consumption figures for sale overseas. It would be my great wish that an increasing percentage of Australian butter be sold internally. It has been made clear to the butter industry that the Government’s policy is to reduce the subsidy gradually, and not in any drastic way.

The Government does not think that a great trading country like ours can permanently subsidize exports, and it does not want to engage in price cutting campaigns inthe international markets. I think that that is the answer to the honorable gentleman’s question. Whenever the problems of the primary industries, whether relating to exportor internalmarkets, are raised, they are given the most careful consideration - always on the basis of trying to keep those who are already in the industry in a prosperous state, and to present them with sound prospects for the future.

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– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Government favour the continuance of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act? If so, what steps are being taken to ensure its re-enactment to cover a five-year period commencing with the 1958-59 wheat harvest?


– The Government wishes to continue wheat stabilization for five more years. I should state that emphatically now. In recent months, representatives of both the Australian Agricultural Council and the Australian Wheat Growers Federation have met me and discussed the problem. As a preliminary to discussions, the Australian Agricultural Council agreed that a review of the Australian wheat industry should be made, particularly to find out what changes had occurred in the structure of the industry, and also to have a look at its general problems. I have discussed the matter with representatives of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, and the preliminaries to a review of the industry have already been completed.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade who, in answer to a question by the honorable member for McMillan, referred to a sales replacement scheme as applied to import licensing. Does this sales replacement scheme provide for some alleviation of the problems encountered by the meat industry, and particularly the retail section of it, in obtaining adequate supplies of hog casings?


– The policy will operate in such a manner that any one who now desires to import hog casings will be given a quota. All who have previously been importers will have their quotas increased by a percentage as from 1st August last. Any other people who desire to engage in the business of importing will be given a quota, and all importers will have their quotas replenished from time to time on the basis of their actual sales achievements. That is how the scheme will operate.

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– I should like to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Do the bulletins issued by the Department of Labour and National Service from time to time showing the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit include immigrants still in Commonwealth hostels and in receipt of Commonwealth relief known as “ preemployment benefit “? Can the Minister indicate approximately the number of immigrants who are still unemployed? Does it run into many thousands? Has the Government any plan for placing unemployed immigrants in productive work without displacing other workers?


– The published figures indicating the numbers in receipt of unemployment benefit do not include immigrants who have reached this country and are awaiting placement in holding centres.

Mr Ward:

– Why not?


– As I think honorable members are aware, it is the normal practice for assisted-passage immigrants from non-British countries to be taken to holding centres, and there to be put through various stages of processing, to use a rather loose word, in the sense that they are medically examined and given additional training in the English language, and certain information is obtained from them, and the like, while employment opportunities are sought. The honorable gentleman asked whether there were many thousands of immigrants in these circumstances. The answer is “ No “. The latest figure for the whole of Australia was just over 1,500. That represented an increase of a couple of hundreds over the previous week for which I had figures, as another immigrant ship had arrived here. The holding period varies but, so far as I am aware, it is not a lengthy one for any of the immigrants, except possibly a few of the Hungarian immigrants who came out some time ago.

Finally, the honorable gentleman asked whether the Government was confident - he did not use that word, but that was the implication - that it would be able to place every immigrant successfully in industry, without detriment to Australian workers. We have every confidence that our financial, fiscal and economic arrangements, and the general buoyancy which we anticipate in the Australian economy, will not only enable us to absorb successfully those people already in the holding centres, but also will help us to place immigrants as they come forward in the ensuing year.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry in his capacity as Minister in charge of war service land settlement. In explanation of my question, I would state that the Albury City Council has been anxious to obtain, for the purpose of establishing an aerodrome, a portion of an estate near Albury, known as the Hawkescote estate, which has been resumed for war service land settlement. As a result of representations by the State member for Albury and myself, I understand that the New South Wales Government is prepared to make this land available and has asked the Commonwealth Government for its concurrence. Has the Minister received this submission from the New South Wales Government, and is he prepared to agree to this action being taken?


– So far as I am aware, I have not yet received a submission from the New South Wales Government relating to the acquisition of this land for the purposes of civil aviation. As soon as question time is over, I shall make inquiries in the department and if there is any useful information I can convey to the honorable gentleman, I shall furnish it.

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– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Owing to his extensive travel, he should have a wide knowledge


– Order! The honorable member will ask his question.


– For how long will the nations of the world allow us to occupy Australia if the Government persists in spending hundreds of millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money in the south-east corner of Australia and refuses to spend any of its revenue in developing the millions of square miles of virgin country which make up the balance of Australia?


– I am afraid that the question asked by the honorable member does scant justice to the way in which finances are directed in Australia. This Government can certainly not be accused of being unaware of the very great need for development right across the north of Australia.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. It concerns the Government’s dried fruits stabilization plan. In view of the endorsement given to the plan by such an overwhelming majority of those growers who voted, will the Minister confer with representatives of the Australian Dried Fruits Association to see whether they will revise their previous attitude on the necessary percentage of industry approval? I ask this question because it is quite apparent that a high percentage of those growers really interested in their industry, as evidenced by their taking the trouble to vote in a voluntary poll, want this scheme.


– It is true that a very large majority of the growers who actually voted, favoured the dried vine fruits stabilization scheme, and I think this indicates that it was a generous scheme and one that would have been in the best interests of the industry. The honorable member suggests that I confer with industry leaders to ascertain whether an affirmative vote by a majority of growers voting, although not necessarily a majority of people entitled to vote, should be sufficient to bring the scheme into effect. I would inform the honorable member that already the executive of the Australian Dried Fruits Association has contacted me and asked me for certain information so that it can gauge the implication of the vote and determine what further action it should take. I think it would be wise for the Government, or for myself at least, to defer further action until I hear from the representatives of the industry.

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– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. What action is the Government taking to follow the lead of America, Britain, Germany, China, Russia, South Africa and other countries in their intensive research into the uses of coal? Does the right honorable gentleman know that it is claimed by scientists that the latest techniques used in the treatment of coal bring Australia’s most prolific indigenous raw material within economical production range of overseas manufacturing establishments producing chemicals and compounds which, if produced in Australia, could establish an integrated system of manufacturing units producing numerous classes of secondary products important to industry and. beneficial to the. economy and defence of the nation? Further, is the right honorable gentleman aware that leading technologists consider that a process of fluidized low temperature carbonization of coal could be of- great economic value to Australia and could be the answer to the deterioration of the coal industry? Therefore, if the Prime Minister desires the continuance of full employment and the expansion of secondary industries, will he confer with his colleague, the Minister for National Development, to see whether a series of conferences can be held, representative of- all sections of industry and science, to ascertain whether a. coal-based chemical and liquid fuel industry could be established, in Australia?


– This matter is dealt with by the Minister for National Development, who is in another place. I will refer to him the question put by the honorable member and secure an answer.

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– 1 am very glad the honorable member has raised this question, because the answer will, I think, indicate the continuing interest of the Commonwealth Government in the marketing of eggs and egg pulp. There has been a fall in the price of fresh eggs overseas and therefore the chairman of the Commonwealth Egg- Marketing. Board has taken vigorous action to try to sell Australian eggs in other markets. He has been overseas, quite recently and has been able to sell substantial quantities of fresh eggs in, for example, Italy. Venezuela, Malta. Trinidad, and several other countries. I think, altogether, about £250,000 worth of fresh eggs were sold.

In addition, in recent days there have been- consultations between the various State egg. marketing boards and the Commonwealth Egg Marketing Board for the purpose of having a co-ordinated plan for the marketing of Australian egg pulp. I think about £2,500,000 worth of pulp is involved, and the Commonwealth is naturally very interested in it. Only yesterday approval was given by me,, through the Federal Treasurer, for funds to be provided to the Commonwealth Egg Marketing Board to finance the purchase of egg pulp for sale overseas during this year.

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Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:

– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -

The serious position caused by unemployment in or throughout Australia.

I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the numbers of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -


.- The first comment I wish to make in connexion with this important matter is to say that no one could regret more than I having to initiate this debate in order to draw the attention of the Government to the serious unemployment situation that has in recent months developed in every State of the Commonwealth. I make that comment because slightly less than eight years ago every member of the Liberal and Country parties was telling the people of Australia that he was determined that full employment would be maintained under a LiberalCountry party Government. But it must be perfectly obvious to even the most optimistic Government supporter that full employment has not been maintained, because, as I shall show in a few moments, the number of unemployed is increasing at an alarming rate while the employment that is available to the community as a whole is rapidly shrinking.

This country’s economy is an expanding one. Annually there is a substantial immigrant and natural increase in our population. The arrival of immigrant labour, as well as the growing annual influx to the employment market of children who reach the school leaving age, mean that the number of persons engaged in employment in this country each year should substantially increase over that of the preceding year. But during the last twelve months it increased by only 2,000 against an increase of 56,000 and 84,000 respectively for the two preceding years. In other words, the demand for labour is not expanding as rapidly as is necessary to absorb the additions to the Australian work force through natural increase, as well as immigration.

There are, of course, other causes, which in my opinion are closely related to the drastic cuts that are now being made by private management, and by government and semi-government institutions in their orders for new machinery and buildings, as well as for other equipment. As a result of that policy the engineers and builders, those associated with them in those industries, and more importantly the many thousands who depend upon them for their employment, are being thrown out of work. Their purchasing power has fallen, and once again this vicious unemployment spiral is being set in motion. Criticism of the Government’s inaction in this regard is not confined to those unfortunate people who to-day are being compelled to exist on a miserable Commonwealth sustenance at a time when prices have never been higher, when the cost of maintaining an average Australian home has reached fantastic proportions, and when rents and the prices of most commodities essential for home and family life have become more than just a problem even to those people who can enjoy continuity of employment. Criticism of the Government’s action is not confined to that section of the people. I believe that, if they were given the opportunity, those people who normally subscribe to the political viewpoint of this Government, who have supported it at the polls, and who returned it to the treasury bench in 1949, also would emphatically protest at the actions of the Government which, for the second time in eight years, has created a serious recession in Australia.

I hope that I shall not be accused by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), as is usually the case when unemployment is being discussed by the Parliament, of being guilty of fostering discontent or of contributing to a worsening of the situation, or that we shall again hear the stock phrases that he uses in a debate of this kind. Let me make it perfectly clear that neither I nor any of my colleagues on this side of the chamber is prepared to accept a situation in which thousands of Australians are looking for work but, because of the actions or the inaction of this Government, are not able to find it, without making, on their behalf, the strongest possible protest in this House.

When unemployment becomes an established fact, at least on the scale that exists to-day, most people are fully aware of it, particularly those who are directly associated with the industrial and commercial life of the community. Unemployment reaches out into every phase of those activities with, as the Minister knows, a subsequent worsening of the position. It is not necessary for a condition of unemployment to be advertised by me or any one else in the Parliament.

Although the Minister has been endeavouring to create the impression that no one who requires work is unemployed to-day, the figures compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician and the Department of Labour and National Service, unfortunately, provide a completely different picture. In June, 1955, only 2,000 persons throughout the Commonwealth were in receipt of the unemployment benefit. By June. 1956, that figure had risen to 7,000, and by June, 1957, it had risen to 18,071. The latest statement issued by the department indicates that at the end of July last 20,291 were in receipt of the unemployment benefit, to which I submit must be added a further 10 per cent, to cover nonBritish workers who are being held in holding centres. I suggest that that is not an insignificant figure, particularly if one takes into account the marked increase that occurred between March and June this year when an additional 7,214 persons registered to receive the benefit.

I emphasize at once that the figures which I have just cited relate only to persons who have registered and are in receipt of the unemployment benefit, and that they therefore do not reflect the real employment situation. Until recently, it has been extremely difficult to obtain from the Minister any figures other than those which relate to the number of persons who have registered and are in receipt of the benefit. I reminded the Minister only yesterday, following his reply to a question that was asked by an Opposition member, that instead of giving the real unemployment figures he merely quoted those which related to people who were actually in receipt of the unemployment benefit. They do not reflect the real situation, because if, as is the case,- a vicious means test is applied to an applicant for the benefit, obviously the number of persons who have actually registered and are in receipt of the benefit is only a fraction of the number of persons who are unemployed. Naturally, it suits the purpose of the Government, unless it is asked otherwise, to release only figures relating to persons who are registered and in receipt of the benefit. As I indicated only a moment ago, at the end of July last that number was precisely 21,291. But, according to the statement that was issued by the department, the total number of unemployed registered in all States in July was 53,108.

Although the department has indicated, I believe with some justification, that it is not able to assess accurately the complete unemployment level, and although approximately 53,000 persons are registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service, obviously there is a large number of unemployed people who, for a variety of reasons, are not registered with the department. A conservative estimate would place that number at 10,000. It could be more, and I concede at once that it might be less. Moreover, as the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Townley) has already indicated, at the migrant holding centres at Bonegilla in Victoria and Greta in New South Wales approximately 1,800 non-British workers and their dependants are being held pending their placement in employment.


– There are 1,500.


– Figures supplied to me only last week by the Minister for Immigration indicated that 1,800 were being held. Therefore, a more correct assessment of the unemployment situation would place the number of unemployed at approximately 64,000 rather than 53,000, as has been acknowledged by the Department of Labour and National Service and which the Minister for Labour and National

Service, magnanimously I thought, attributed to the usual quiet in Australia at this time of the year. If the Minister is so out of touch with labour conditions as to suggest that the serious unemployment situation is the result of seasonal fluctuations - I do not believe for one moment that he actually subscribes to that viewpoint - some responsible member of the Government who is aware of the seriousness of the situation should disillusion him.

Let us examine the statement which was released by the Department of Labour and National Service, in order to obtain some indication of the increased number of persons who actually registered last month to receive the unemployment benefit. In New South Wales, the increase was 1,091, and in Victoria, 8! 4. In Queensland, there was a reduction. The increase in South Australia was 291; in Western Australia, 331; and in Tasmania, 133. I repeat that the Minister says that that increase is directly the result of the usual quiet in Australia at this time of the year.

I remind the House that it was at a time when unemployment was rapidly increasing in Australia that the Minister for Immigration chose to launch his “Bring Out a Briton “ campaign. In my opinion, that is a scheme which deserves to succeed and which I believe every honorable member wishes to see succeed, and which must succeed. But it could hardly have been introduced at a more inopportune time. At the present time, more than 400 persons in Launceston are looking for employment. Surely in view of that circumstance neither the Minister for Labour and National Service nor his department can expect to be overwhelmed with enthusiasm. In every State new Australians are looking for work. For these unfortunate people the social problems directly resulting from loss of employment obviously are accentuated by other considerations such as language difficulties and assimilation problems. Judging by the expression on the Minister’s face, apparently he does not altogether agree with the point I have just made; but I simply remind him of the statement which appeared in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of Thursday, 15th August - and I do not think that newspaper is given tr> distorting the picture in any way. The statement in that newspaper substantiates what I have already told the House, which is that in every State, new

Australians are looking for work. Despite that, at the moment the Government is making, and has made, no decision to alter the proposed level of immigration intake for next year, which stands at 115,000.

Every honorable member on this side of the House agrees with me that, as work is not available for everybody in this country, whatever commitments the Government may have in respect of immigration should be immediately reviewed. Let me say at this point that the policy of full employment was first implemented in this country when a Labour government was in office in 1942. The present Government, instead of maintaining full employment, has, for the second time in less than eight years, created recession conditions. It has imposed the most severe restrictions on bank and consumer credit, certainly more severe than any ever before applied in Australia’s peace-time history. Possibly this single factor, more than any other, with its fantastic and complete crippling of the building industry, has been the direct cause of the serious unemployment that is to-day apparent in this country. I warned the Government during the last sessional period that it would be only a very short step indeed from unemployment in the timber industry to unemployment in the building industry and the other industries closely associated with it. The Government, by its complete neglect of the building industry and by its imposition of credit restrictions, has dealt a crippling blow at the building industry, as a result of which we are in our present serious position.

Mr. Lawrence

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

Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– The employment level is always a matter of very great consequence to governments in this country, and it is fitting that the Parliament should, from time to time, review the level of employment in order to see what can be done to ensure that that level is high, that work opportunities are ample and that the economic trends are running in the right direction. I question, however, the wisdom of the timing of this proposal by the Opposition at this stage when we are on the eve of a statement by the Government of its budget proposals and of its economic and fiscal policies for the remainder of the financial year. One would have thought that if honorable gentlemen opposite are really concerned about the employment level and economic trends they would be interested to know what the Government proposes to do to meet any difficulties that can be shown to have arisen. As I have said, the Government has in its mind, as it has had since it took office, the question of the level of employment in Australia, and the maintenance of buoyant economic conditions which will enable us not merely to maintain a stable economic situation but also to provide for the future. Because we are committed, as a government, to a programme of development and immigration and of national growth in these two directions, it is necessary for us to maintain incentives for industry and to follow policies which will not only keep people already in this country fully employed but will also provide employment opportunities for those whom we attract here as a result of our immigration policy, as well as those added to our work force as they leave school and become employable. 1 make that general statement in order that there shall be no doubt in the minds of either honorable gentlemen opposite or people outside as to what the Government’s general approach has been and will continue to be. We believe in full employment. We are proud of a record of full employment that is unsurpassed in any other industrial country in the free world. And it shall be our continuing objective to sustain that record.

Having said that, I admit quite frankly that there is a degree of unemployment in Australia at this time. The Government’s measures to correct such slack as has already appeared in the economy, and to provide an overall environment in which next year we shall be able to absorb successfully an additional 60,000 people whom we expect will become available in the work force in this country will be revealed, at least in part, in the budget proposals to come before the House next week. Now, let us see whether we cannot find a basis for factual statements which will be acceptable to both sides of the House. It is one thing to accept that it is natural to have an argument between a government and an opposition; but if the argument is to have any validity for people outside this chamber it should be based on facts which can be established. I want to try for a minute or two to establish the basis to which we should direct our remarks when we speak about this problem of unemployment. 1 have already conceded that there is at present a degree of unemployment, and I have said that we are taking suitable measures, as they appear to us, to correct the employment situation and maintain buoyancy in the months ahead. What is the degree of unemployment existing at present which it should be our endeavour to correct? Well, we do not get much guidance from honorable gentlemen opposite on that, although they have taken it on themselves in this House and in another place to attack the figures which I supply from time to time as indicating the employment trend. If my figures are inaccurate - and I will proceed to show in a moment that they are as accurate as anybody in this country can ascertain and supply for public information - let us have a look at the figures produced by honorable gentlemen opposite. We have had two spokesmen for the Labour party in the last two days leading a discussion on this employment question. The first spokesman, who made his statement in another place yesterday, opened his remarks by saying that there were upwards of 100,000 men unemployed in Australia at present. A good round figure!

Mr Ward:

– So there are!


-“ So there are “, echoes the honorable member for East Sydney.


– Order! There are too many interjections.


– Honorable members opposite make sweeping generalizations without making any attempt to give the facts. The first official spokesman of the Labour party said yesterday that there were 100,000 men unemployed at present; but the spokesman for the party to-day is rather more modest. He has sliced very considerably the figure given by his colleague in the Senate yesterday. He tells us now that in his estimate there are about 64,000 people - people, not men - unemployed.

Mr Barnard:

– I said it could be more and it could be less.


– Well, that is a welcome admission too. I am merely putting side by side the two statements made by the official spokesmen for the Opposition. One says that 64,000 people are unemployed - not men, but people. But yesterday’s spokesman in the Senate said there were 100,000 men unemployed. Now, we are given a figure of about 64,000 men and women unemployed, which, the honorable member who gave it says fairly, could be more or could be less. Now, let us see what figures we ourselves have. I explained to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) yesterday that we could do no more, except at census lime, than point to the trends disclosed by the figures which come to the Department of Labour and National Service. One figure is that of people in receipt of unemployment benefit. I admit immediately that that figure does not show the total number of unemployed because of the qualifying period before the benefit can be received and the income test which is applied. So, it can be taken that that figure represents the lowest level of unemployment which can be indicated; and it is certainly not without some significance that there has been a steady increase, though not a dramatic or spectacular increase, over recent months in the number of people who are in receipt of unemployment benefit. The figure at the moment stands at just over 20,000. I can give the actual figure for the latest date, 17th August, for which the figures have been supplied to me. They show a total of 20,828 in receipt of unemployment benefit - 16,640 males and 4,188 females. There was a minor reduction of 80 on the preceding week. That is the figure for unemployment benefit,

Mr Crean:

– Four out of five are males?


– They are roughly in that proportion - 16,640 males to 4,188 females. When we turn to the number of people applying for work, we find that the total at the end of July - the latest date for which I have these figures - was 53,108, comprising about 37,000 males and about 15,000 females. The question arises whether that is a conservative figure for unemployment in this country, or whether it indicates approximately the total number of persons who may really be regarded as seeking work, in the sense that they are members of the regular work force, leaving out married women seeking part-time work and elderly, retired persons also looking for part-time work who, in: st time of. high labourdemand, tend to come back onto the employment market.

I do not claim that the figure does represent the upper limit of people requiring work. As I said earlier, all that I have ever put to the House is that these figures do indicate trends. The recent trend has been of a steady growth in the number of people registered for placement for work. But I did tell the Leader of the Opposition yesterday that, although a census was the only means by which we could get the precise number of persons unable to find work, it was rather significant that if we took the censuses of recent years, in 1957 and 1954, and analysed the statistics relating to persons seeking work, we found that the number of persons registered with the Department of Labour and National Service as seeking work was greater than the number of people describing themselves on the census forms as persons unable to secure employment. That is understandable because, as I explained yesterday, persons still registered for placement with the department include those who have been referred by the department to an employer but whose engagement by that employer has not been notified. They include also those persons who register with us for engagement and then, through their own efforts in seeking work, find employment but do not notify the department.

Mr Ward:

– Are you trying to prove that nobody is out of work?


– Not at all. I am trying to give the best information I can to those persons in this House who are sufficiently interested in this problem. The pointers are that the figure for those registered with us for placement represents just about the upper limit of persons who might be considered to be a part of the regular work force and are unable to find work. The two groups I have mentioned tend to swell the number of persons registered for placement, and perhaps counter-balance the number of persons - a rather diminishing proportion as the work of the Commonwealth Employment Service has become known over the years - who do not bother to register with that service for engagement.

It might interest the House to have before it the numbers, as revealed in the censuses, of persons receiving unemployment benefit and registered for employment. In 1947, 18,620 persons stated in the. census returns that they were unable, to. secure employment.. There were 21,576 persons registered for employment with, the department and 6,598 were in receipt of unemployment benefit. The census of 1954 showed that 12,424 persons were unable to secure employment whilst 22,364 were registered for employment. That rather supports my point that in the intervening years the work of the Commonwealth Employment Service has become better known and that proportionately morepersons are registering. At that time,, recipients of unemployment benefit numbered 6,083. I do not intend the House to* infer anything more from what I have said than that in our assessment of this problem we can, I think, take it that the figure for persons registered for placement represents approximately the total of persons in Australia seeking work at that point of time.

Mr Ward:

– Nothing of the kind!


– That gives us some idea of the dimensions of the problem.

Mr Ward:

– That is a fallacious argument.


– The honorable gentleman may have his own view. I merely state the facts and let others draw their conclusions from them. The figures that I have cited give us no ground for complacency nor would they excuse failure to act to meet the situation disclosed. The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) made a statement which 1 accept as being accurate. He said that the demand for labour was not expanding as rapidly as was necessary. That is correct. I think he gave figures showing the additions to the work force in the last three years, which indicated that over the last year the growth of the work force was not keeping pace with the growth of the number of persons available from an increased population. [Extension of time granted.] 1 shall not delay the House for much longer. I merely want to discuss the point raised by the honorable gentleman. He has made a valid point. It is necessary for us, in the planning which we do as a government, to see to it that the economy is stimulated to the point of being able, not merely to absorb the slack that has already appeared, but also to meet the requirements placed on us by the addition, as we estimated it, of some 60,000 people in the course of the next twelve months.

How can we do that? First, the Government is required to pursue overall policies which will have the effect, throughout the economy as a whole, of sustaining employment. In other words, there should be a healthy expansion of Australia’s private industry in its various aspects. Then we have various mechanisms which we can use to supplement what private industry is doing. There is the public sector. At meetings of the Australian Loan Council, we have an opportunity to decide what should be the level of public works in Australia to sustain employment at a high level. We “have another opportunity when we come to our budget proposals. Normally, there is a gap of approximately six months between the Australian Loan Council’s deliberations and the announcement of the Commonwealth budget. In addition, there is the influence which we can exert through the Treasury on the central bank in relation to the credit policies which are to be followed by the banking system.

These things, taken together, are intended to produce full employment and a steady advance of Australia’s development. If they do not produce the results we desire - and planners in an imperfect world can hardly hope for perfect results - we have an opportunity in the autumn session to introduce additional measures. As the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) has advised the State Premiers, we do have the opportunity to review the State loan programmes at the end of this calendar year. We have other ways, as a government, in which we can regulate the pace of some of our own projects.

Honorable members may ask, if all those methods are available to us, why has a slack developed this year. I believe that the principal cause was the fear which developed among the farming community in the autumn of this year that they were in for a period of drought. Last year was the second biggest export-earning year in the history of the Commonwealth. Very big farm incomes were earned. In our planning - and in this we were supported by the Commonwealth Bank - we took the view that, as the year progressed, high purchasing power would be generated by this very big export income. To some extent, because of seasonal conditions in the autumn, that situation did not develop. The fear of drought is not yet entirely dissipated, and if a drought did result from a lack of spring rains then much of this purchasing power would remain tied up. On the other hand, if we get good spring rains we expect that more of this purchasing power will be released. That is one reason why, in our planning, not only have we tried to keep some of our own projects fairly flexible, as I think the budget statement will reveal, but we have also left it open to ourselves to review the works programmes of the States at the end of the year.

Of course, we shall have the results of the second half of the calendar year in mind when we come to consider the economic policy that should be pursued in future, including the credit policy. I can assure the House that the Government is by no means complacent or apathetic about this situation. We are always concerned about the employment level. We are concerned to see that our undertaking to maintain full employment is upheld. We are concerned that we should balance the Australian economy, as far as is humanly possible, nicely on the edge between an excess of demand for labour and an excess of supply of labour. We cannot always be in balance. In the past, we have erred occasionally in having too great a demand for labour. We have erred more in that direction than the other during our term of office. To the extent, some redress is called for at the present time. I can assure the House that Government planning and activity are directed to restoring that balance.


.- Not one word of hope has come for the unemployed of this country from the lips of the Minister for Labour (Mr. Harold Holt) this morning. The whole nation will share my disappointment with the statement of the Minister, which contained no indication that a job would be provided for even one of the unemployed. In the course of his speech he made vague references to a budget that is to be delivered. Perhaps the Minister can anticipate the budget, but the Parliament cannot. If the budget that will be presented next week is to be judged on the basis of budgets that have been prepared by this Government during its occupancy of the treasury bench, then little hope exists for the workers of this country.

It is indefensible that there are now many thousands of unemployed in this young nation. The Minister for Labour and National Service has admitted that 20,000 of our fellow-Australians have registered and qualified for unemployment relief, and this number is but a fraction of those who are out of work at the present time. The Government, in the course of statements which have been dragged from it, not volunteered, has stated that 53,000 persons are registered as wanting work. That, 1 say, is indefensible. Throughout Australia, in city and country alike, the spectre of unemployment is looming.

I hope, in the course of my remarks, to make some reference to my own electorate. The Minister wishes to brush airily aside the unhappy situation, because he has no solution to this problem. He dismisses the plight of the jobless, who subsist on a pitiably inadequate unemployment payment because there is no work available. He does not wish to discuss the matter. He has said that the number of unemployed is very small - a mere token number. It is true that the number mentioned is but a fraction of the unemployed in Australia at the present time. About 20,000 persons are registered for unemployment relief, while an admitted 53,000 are registered as unemployed. Everyone who has considered this subject knows quite well that many people have failed to register for unemployment benefit because they know that they would not get it. Those who do not register, either for unemployment benefit or for employment, are not counted among the unemployed.

I wish to direct attention to a remark that was made by the Minister for Labour and National Service himself. He said that the labour force in this country increased by about 2,000 last year. I should like to ask the Minister what has happened to the 80,000 immigrants who came into Australia during the twelve months if the labour force increased by only 2,000. What has happened to the youth of this country who leave the schools each year in search of employment? I say with all the force at my command that, on humanitarian and economic grounds, there should not be any unemployed. There should be no idle hands in Australia to-day. From time to time, we hear remarks from the Government side of the House on the need to develop Australia. Yet the Government has admitted this morning that there are 53,000 unemployed, and it is apparently satisfied with that state of affairs.

The existence of unemployment is not denied. As I have said, no fewer than 53,000 persons are registered as being in search of work. The Minister for Labour and National Service wants to evade the responsibility, and has pointed out that all will be well when the budget is presented. I direct attention to quite a number of opinions that have been published in the press recently. On 28th July, 1957, the “ Sun-Herald “ reported Mr. C. R. Hall, director of the Chamber of Manufactures, as stating -

The fall in employment is the inevitable result of credit restrictions, high taxation and inadequate tariff protection.

Mr. P. J. Self, of the Employers Federation, commented that unemployment should be arrested before it was too late. These are the points of view, not of members of the Australian Labour party, but of people who, in the normal course of events, would support this Government. To-day, the financial editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ went on record as saying that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) would have it known -

  1. . that general unemployment has already touched a level where there is not much margin left for an increase which would be tolerated by the electorate.

I am concerned with this problem on humanitarian grounds as well as economic grounds, because it affects people as human beings. I make no excuse for my attitude, because I believe that my duty is clearly to come to this National Capital, and to this Parliament, to represent the people of my electorate. I have a bounden duty to represent more than 1,000 unemployed in my electorate, as I have to represent the people who are employed. The unemployed in my electorate, which stretches over an industrial area into a semi-industrial area, constitute a problem that has existed for some time, for some of them became unemployed when this Government dismissed them from the Commonwealth Small Arms Factory last year. Following that, colliery after colliery has closed yet, despite pleas made by me, the Government has remained unmoved and indifferent. The local authorities have submitted works programmes. They wanted something to be done, and the works programmes submitted by them were for useful jobs which would help to bring better living conditions to the people of the area. This Government refused to do anything about the matter. Its invariable reply is that the States have the responsibility and, therefore, should do something. I say that it is the responsibility of this Government, the government of the nation, to alleviate the tragic plight of people who, through no fault of their own, are being obliged to subsist on such paltry amounts as £2 10s. for an individual and £4 15s. for a husband, wife and child. Such conditions as that should not be tolerated in Australia in these days.

The responsibility for this scandalous state of affairs under which a whole family is compelled to live on approximately onethird of the basic wage, the amount looked upon as the irreducible minimum, is with the national government, and it should bestir itself and do something about the position. After all, it is far better to find jobs for the people than to allow them to subsist on a portion of the recognized basic rate. I emphasize that the Government has a responsibility to do something about the matter.

I have before me some facts relating to the coal industry. Since 1954, some 4,000 persons have left this industry because there has been no work in it for them. When the Government was asked to do something in order to find employment for these people it set up a committee. The Coal Industry Committee held its first meeting on 16th May, 19.56. In all, it met three times, the last meeting being in November, 1956. Since then it has not met at all. If this Government were sincerely concerned about these problems, especially that confronting the coal-mining industry, it would ensure that this committee functioned and tried to do something to meet the crisis. Instead, the Government has allowed this committee to remain more or less idle since 1956. The responsibility for all these things comes back to this Government. After hearing the honorable member for Bass deal with the matter in such an excellent manner, I would have been content if the Minister, when replying, had stated categorically that the

Government would do something to find jobs for those people who are unemployed to-day.


Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


.- In my opinion, the main issue in this debate is to be found in the opening statement by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) that unemployment in the Commonwealth to-day is increasing at an alarming rate. If that is the case, then I believe there is a definite need for the Government to take action. But all the figures that have been produced on both sides of the House show that it is not increasing at an alarming rate. As we have already heard from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), the rate is actually falling at the present time and, indeed, the number of unemployed has decreased over the last fortnight. However, I submit that the actual statistics are not nearly so important as the fact that trends are improving. Not only are the numbers of unemployed becoming fewer but the vacancies for employment are increasing. There are already 18,770 vacancies for employment throughout the Commonwealth. This represents an increase of over 300 during the past month.

The important question to ask ourselves during this debate is whether we can believe the statement made by the Minister about the situation. I believe that this Government’s record over the last seven years shows that we can definitely believe the Minister’s statement because it discloses that we have been able to keep the unemployment position under control. We have a better record in this direction than any other government in the whole of the western world, and most governments behind the iron curtain. As an example, I point out that unemployment is increasing at an alarming rate in red China. I repeat that no government has a better record than the Liberal-Country party of Australia.

As the Minister also stated, the question of unemployment cannot be considered on its own. It must be taken into consideration with two other major factors in the Australian economy. The first of those is the whole matter of the balance of payments and the second is the cure of the ever-present fear of inflation. If we were to try to cure unemployment in Australia at the moment by adopting the measures that honorable members opposite might sponsor - measures such as unbounded credit to provide more jobs - the cost of living would immediately increase and the spiral of inflation would make an upwards surge. The harm that would be caused thereby to many members of the community would be even greater than some of the harm being caused by the present position in which we have 20,000 people unemployed-

Mr Ward:

– Even the Minister admitted there were over 60,000 unemployed.


– I said receiving the unemployment benefit.

Mr Ward:

– You did not; you said “ unemployed “.


– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will cease interjecting.


– These three mattersinflation, unemployment and the balance of payments - must be considered together, and this Government’s record discloses that over the last seven years it has learned much about the taking of remedial measures to deal with each of them. For that reason, when the Minister says, as he did yesterday, that steps are to be taken to bring the level of unemployment under control, and to improve the position within the next few weeks, we have every justification for believing that the Government knows it can carry out that promise. 1 have no wish to minimize the effects of unemployment or the damage that it can cause to the individual. I can speak only of those people who are unemployed at the present, in my own electorate. Probably 1 see as many unemployed there as are to be seen in most other electorates throughout Victoria because I represent a partially industrialized electorate of that State, do know that there are people unemployed at the moment in Hae electorate of Fawkner, but I should say that unemployment is not always the result of government action, despite what honorable members opposite would have us believe. For instance, only last week, a factory in the Fawkner electorate had to be closed and all the operatives pui out of employment. The reason was that sales of the product that factory v/as making had been severely retarded because of the growth of the new television industry. People no longer want the products of this particular factory; they are buying television sets instead. Surely it is not to be argued that the Government’s aim should be to retard progress in the community by insisting that factories increase the production of items which are no longer wanted by the public! On the contrary, 1 should say that the most important thing at the moment is to take constructive action to help the people who are thrown out -of employment -by the march of progress in the community.

The first thing to do, obviously, when people become unemployed - I have had people interviewing me about this within the last few -days - is to see -that they are a’ble to obtain unemployment relief as soon as possible <and that widows and others who are permanently out of work ‘are given the appropriate pension. The main thing is to see that those people who are thrown out of employment are retrained as rapidly as possible to equip them with the skills they will need in the new jobs that are now being offered. Only last week, I saw the value of the rehabilitation service that trains for other jobs people who have been thrown out of employment by accidents or illness and who can no longer do their ordinary work. We all have seen that there are vacancies in industry to-day for people who can acquire particular skills, and I should have thought that the members of the Opposition would have directed their attention to the need to increase training opportunities, with a view to fitting people to do the skilled work that is becoming increasingly available in the Commonwealth.

If we think that there is a need for training in new skills, .perhaps out minds also should return to the need for an allowance immediately people are thrown out of work, and for unemployment relief to be greater in the initial stages of unemployment, so that people might have an opportunity to train themselves in new skills. I therefore suggest that it is important to look, not only at statistics of unemployment, but also at the rate at which people can be trained to take on new jobs, so that the period for which they are unemployed may be reduced to a minimum. That, I think, is the way in which the Government is tackling this problem at the moment. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr, Luchetti) referred to the special problems of the coal industry. In my opinion, many of those problems were brought about by the actions of the people in the industry. We never hear to-day about the calamities suffered by Victorian housewives because of the shortage of coal ten years ago. We should not forget that the Victorian Government had to develop the brown coal industry in order to make Victoria independent of New South Wales black coal.

In conclusion, this Government has proved that it can control the level of employment. As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) stated yesterday, it will act in the very near future in order to reduce the level of unemployment. I have every confidence in that statement and I believe that within a very few months an excellent result will have been achieved.


Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.

Port Adelaide

– The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson), at the conclusion of his speech, said that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) would take action to reduce the present level of unemployment, but previously he said that the Government did not accept responsibility for the unemployment that exists. Those two statements do not seem to me to be consistent. If the Government can take action now to reduce unemployment, why did it not take action months ago? After all, the present position has not arisen only in the last week or two. We have been hammering at the Government about the deteriorating employment situation for the last twelve or eighteen months.

The present trend of unemployment is following the pattern of previous trends. Looking back over the years, we can see that the first indication of an economic recession and increasing unemployment begins with a slump in the building industry. When that industry begins to experience difficulty, men employed on building work are put off. That, normally, is followed by a reduction of the quantity of bricks and timber required. When the quantities of those materials required are reduced, the brick and tile manufacturers and the timber industry also begin to put men off. The effects are then seen in the country areas from which timber is being procured. For months past we have been reading in the newspapers that there is no sale for large quantities of timber in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, with the result that timber mills have had to close down.

After that state of affairs has existed for a short period of time, other industries, such as the transport industry, begin to be hit. Then there follows a big reduction in the work available for waterside workers. Only recently, we saw in the press a report to the effect that an application had been made by employers in the stevedoring industry for a reduction of port quotas because there were more men available than could be employed. The decline then spreads to other industries and affects other workers, such as road transport workers and the storemen and packers. Honorable members opposite may ask, “ What has that to do with the Government? “ My answer is that the stairway down which those industries have been falling has been erected by the Government through its policy of restricting loans to the States for housing, and restricting bank credit lo people who wish to obtain loans to build houses.

I do not intend to argue whether there are 52,000 or 62.000 people unemployed, but I do know that I have people coming to me all the time because they are unemployed. Only last week, two men came to me and said, “ Mr. Thompson, will you help us to make out claims for the old age pension. We do not want to knock off work, but we are over 65 years of age and cannot get a job. We are not allowed to register for employment. The only thing left for us is the pension “. I suppose there are thousands of people throughout Australia who are ready, able and willing to work but who cannot register as being unemployed because they are over 65 years of age and are not entitled to unemployment benefit. The Government, apparently, says “ You should get the age pension “.

Mr Hamilton:

– Who started the move to retire people at 65?


– I am not speaking about that. I am merely saying that many people who are over the age of 65 cannot get jobs. When this Government speaks of the number of unemployed it forgets all about those people.

Recently, when J was visiting a migrant, centre, a man said to me, “ I am trying to get a home of my own. I agreed to purchase two blocks of land so that I could, build a home and engage in a little primary production as well. My wife was working here at the hostel, but the number of employees has been reduced, including those working in the canteen, and she has been put off. Now, we do not know how we are to get the money even to build a little home of our own on the land that we are purchasing “. That kind of thing has been brought about by restriction of the amount of money available for loans to people who want to build houses, which, in turn, has had an effect on the building industry.

I read in a Sydney newspaper, either yesterday or to-day, a complaint by the ship-building industry to the effect that it had no orders. That complaint came not from the men on the job but from the employers. The lack of orders will, of course, mean more unemployment. When we in South Australia proposed to build more ships at Whyalla, the authorities wanted to bring from the Old Country 500 men who were skilled in ship-building, as there were not sufficient skilled shipbuilders here, but now we are told there are more than sufficient employees here to keep the industry going. If the Government wanted to keep the ship-building industry and other industries going, why did it not take previously the action which the Minister has said will be taken in the forthcoming budget to rectify the position?

It is well known that, in recent years, the Australian workers have been raising the standard of comfort in their homes. They have been able to put some decent furniture into their homes and improve their houses. How has this been possible? In most cases, all the children have reached an age when they are away from home during the day and the mother has been able to obtain employment in a jam factory or some other factory and earn sufficient to buy extra comforts for the home. Now that many of these women have been put out of employment, the standard of living at home has been lowered and the economic position of the family worsened. They have not registered as unemployed because they know that there is no hope of obtaining employment through a government instrumentality. Although a married woman might register as unemployed, there are many single women who want to be registered also.

Unemployment is growing throughout the community, and this emphasizes my earlier query that if there are only 60,000 fewer in the work force what has become of the 80,000 immigrants? They are helping to increase the number of our own people who have been forced out of employment and are not able to register. What can they do? I am trying to impress upon the Government the necessity for making money available on loan for housing. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) just now spoke about curing inflation. He suggested that if the Government made credit available and inflation increased the result might be worse than having these people unemployed. I ask the honorable member how he would like to try to support a wife and children on an unemployment benefit allowance of £4 10s. a week? If he attempted to do so, he would then be in a better position to judge whether living under such conditions would be better than receiving help under a plan of making more credit available, such as I am suggesting.

I say, definitely, that the only way to overcome the present condition is to make more money available to undertake essential works. Does the Government want to create a situation such as has arisen in Syria and in other countries where they have turned to Russia for help, not for political reasons but because that country will provide them with money, which they cannot obtain elsewhere, with which to finance essential works? We must realize that if the Government is going to tune up too much on the fear of inflation increasing, it may have to face a state of unrest and ill-feeling in the community. I hope that when the budget is brought down next week it will contain some hope of overcoming these problems which we are facing to-day. Let the Government carry out its responsibility by giving more money to the States than they are now receiving. Recently, in South Australia, the Premier expressed the hope that it would not be necessary to put men off this year.


Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


:- lt has been rather interesting to note that while members of the Opposition have- been speaking- ro’ this urgency motion they have conveniently skated around the fact that there: is a measure: of unemployment in Sydney to-day because, of a. strike at the works of Metters. Limited: Although the men on strike do not receive any financial assistance by way of ‘ Commonwealth unemployment benefit, nevertheless other workers must be: listed as unemployed as a result at that strike. Not’ one- of the Opposition speakers has mentioned that strike duringthis debate.

The honorable member foc Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) quite rightly said that the building industry is one of the chief barometers of employment in Australia, and, consequently, of its economy. He went on to say that this Government should make more money available to the States by way of loan funds or increased tax reimbursements.. The honorable member must surelyknow, as every honorable member, in thisParliament must know, that last year the supplementary vote, of tax reimbursements to the States was increased… It has been made public also that, this year works and housing finance will be increased by £8,000,000. The supplementary grant of tax reimbursements will be increased again by an extra £4,000,000. This will bring the amount far above that provided in the formula laid down some years ago by the Labour government. 1 am glad that the honorable member for Port Adelaide, raised the subject of the building industry, because there is a state of unemployment in this, industry in Western Australia which has existed, for more, than twelve’ months. This condition is a direct result of the maladministration of the building industry by the State Government. In spite of the talk by members of the Opposition from Western Australia, it is well known to members of the Commonwealth Parliament that this state of affairs has been developing for some considerable time. We can all remember very clearly that when the Western Australian Labour Government took office it set about to solve the housing problem. That was a very laudable objective, but one would have thought that a man placed in 11,e position of administering a department would have at least used some business sense. We all recall the fact that some years ago even the Commonwealth could not obtain either bricks or timber from the Western Australian Housing Commission to build post offices, drill halls, telephone exchanges or any other buildings, because of the- dictatorial attitude of the Minister’ for Housing in that State. That same gentleman exercised his dictatorial powers most trenchantly over building contractors who were prepared’ to work for the Commonwealth. He told them that if they did so they would not receive any timber from the State sawmills for their normal- jobs or for any building projects. That Minister for Housing; the well-known “ Herbie “ Graham, refused to- allow- any timber to be exported from Western Australia, even to the eastern States. Everybody knows that if the sawmillers have, small, parcels of timber to sell to other States or to people outside the government set-up, and they are refused permission to make those sales, obviously they will lose their customers. That is what happened in Western Australia more than twelve months ago. The four States of Tasmania, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, which are very heavily engaged in the building industry, are faced with the problems of unemployment because of shortsightedness of their Labour governments.

I wish to refer to figures contained in the annual balance-sheet of the State sawmills of Western Australia for the financial year 1955-56. In that year a loss of £13,549 was sustained. In the preceding year, a profit of £35.941 had been made, so in the two years there had been a difference in. trading to the extent of £49,490. The report contains this comment oh. that result; -

Had; increased sloe’s gone into consumption wilh a return equal to. the. average cost of production and handling the trading account would have shown at least £35,000 better- for the year.

But apparently the Western Australian Government would not allow the State sawmills to sell the timber at cost. I was always- under the impression that it was one of the planks of the Labour’ party that the purpose of setting up socialist enterprises was to curb private enterprise and to ensure that the people whom members of the Opposition say so glibly they represent would obtain supplies at reasonable prices. It was their idea to prevent prices of materials supplied by private enterprise from running up through the ceiling. But when the Labour Government of Western Australia had the opportunity to sell materia] and in this way prevent a recession in the building industry, which, as sure as night follows day, was coming, it prevented the sale of surplus stocks of timber. As a result there has been a drain on the public purse, and the sawmills that had surplus stocks which could have been sold have suffered a financial loss.

Members of the Opposition in this Parliament and supporters of Labour governments in State parliaments have repeatedly spoken about the humane attitude of governments. Where is the humanity associated with that action of the Labour Government in Western Australia? Had it allowed the £35,000 worth of timber to be sold to small contractors, many housing jobs, which were already in hand, could have been completed. That would have meant the employment of carpenters and others in the building trade for a longer period, as well as continued employment for others not directly associated with the industry, such as hardware suppliers- and others referred to by the honorable member for Port Adelaide. It would have meant, also, that more people could have bought homes at a cheaper price. It would have been possible to put more men into employment for a longer period and as a result they would have been able to turn their money over. The position in Western Australia would not have developed then as quickly as it did.

The next move was this: Last year, the Premier of Western Australia obtained the consent of the other Premiers, at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, for the Commonwealth - I ask honorable members to mark this point - to make him a grant for unemployment. It was all very nice. The Premiers of the other States said that they would be quite happy to agree to his spending this money if the Commonwealth could find it. Western Australia received a grant of £2,000,000. What happened? Was one more man placed into employment in Western Australia as a consequence? I invite the honorable member for Stirling- (Mr. Webb) to say that such was the case. Everybody knows that nobody obtained any extra employment. The grant of £2,000,000 was used to pay debts that had been accumulated by the Western Australian Government in three years of mad administration, to some aspects of which I have already referred.

There has been a clamour, also, by the Western Australian Minister for Works for more money for a comprehensive water scheme. It will be interesting to see what happens to that scheme as a result of the announcement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies.) recently. What has been going on in Western Australia is simply this: Irrespective of the economics of the problem, men have been put on and kept in employment at overtime rates. Money has been tossed down the pipe, so to speak, to satisfy the vanity of the State Minister for Works. Recent events show how inconsistent he is. That criticism applies also to the rest of the Cabinet in Western Australia. When the State Minister for Works was opening a water supply, the construction of which was associated with this grant, he said, “ I hope the people in this area will not expect other people to pay for it “. He wants everybody else to pay for his vain ideas, but when it gets down to tin tacks, he does not want the man in the street to get any benefit.

All this glib talk by supporters of the Australian Labour party in this chamber and throughout the Commonwealth about their desire to help the man in the street is just so much tommy rot and hypocrisy. That can be proved by an examination of any of the trading concerns with which they are associated. Whenever there is an opportunity for them to help the man in the street, they sit pat on supplies and everything else associated with their ventures and try to make a profit. They say they established the concerns in order to keep a curb on private enterprise. I have yet to learn of anything that has been done by the Labour party towards a real solution of the unemployment problem.


Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.


– I regret the contribution that has been made by the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) on this very important question of unemployment. He has not helped in any way to solve the problem or to give a constructive lead towards its solution. Perhaps his speech has served its purpose in enabling him to make an attack on the Labour Government of Western Australia, but that has nothing to do with the matter of urgency that is before the House.

I desire first to commend the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) for submitting this important matter to honorable members. The problem of growing unemployment is causing grave concern throughout Australia. The point that was made by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) in this connexion is the important one. What is the trend of employment? If honorable members follow that trend, they can see whether or not a dangerous position is developing. I fear much more the gradual creeping paralysis of unemployment than I do sudden unemployment which can frequently be explained and can be rectified immediately.

The figures that have been released by the Department of Labour and National Service for some years past have shown that a most regrettable trend is gradually developing. All the indications are that unemployment will grow. For example, I have found that the low level of unemployment was reached about October, 1955, when the number of persons registered for work totalled 14,294. By February, 1956, when the January figures were released, the number of persons registered for employment and described as unemployed totalled 30,661. The latest figures available show that the number of persons registered as unemployed in July, 1957, totalled 53,108. Moreover, the most up-to-date figures given by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) indicate that the number of persons who are receiving the unemployment benefit at present is greater than it was when the figures for July were released. We find that, month by month, unemployment is growing, and more persons are registered for work. More persons are receiving the unemployment benefit and, what is equally important as an indication of the trend in industry itself, month by month fewer vacancies are being shown in industry.

Statistics relating to vacancies recorded by the Department of Labour and National Service show a decline. In 1955 there were 56,112 vacancies. By July, 1956, the number of vacancies had fallen to 28,784. In July, 1957, there were only 18,770 vacancies registered with the Department of Labour and National Service.

The most regrettable feature is that unemployment is spreading throughout Australia. No community can be said to be free from it. I have been staggered to find the extent to which unemployment exists in the country districts quite apart from its incidence in the capital cities. The last statement issued by the Minister showed the position regarding the payment of unemployment benefit in some of the country towns. For example, in Wollongong 420 persons were receiving the unemployment benefit. In proportion to population, the position is worse in Wollongong than it is in Sydney. That applies also to Newcastle where 371 persons are receiving the unemployment benefit; to Maitland, 228; to Lismore, 192; and to places like Lithgow, Cessnock, Katoomba, Orange and Bathurst.

The position is the same in Victoria. In Geelong, 503 persons are receiving the unemployment benefit, so that, in proportion to population, the position in Geelong is twice as bad as it is in Melbourne. Indications are that unemployment is growing, not only in the capital cities but throughout the country districts as well, and, as a result, there is a growing sense of insecurity among the people. I firmly believe that although the Department of Labour and National Service does everything it possibly can to give the most reliable figures in connexion with this problem, the figures that are presented understate the actual position. There is no better place than the trades halls in the capital cities to ascertain what unemployment is developing. I discussed the problem of unemployment in Victoria recently with Mr. Stout, secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council. I asked him what the position was in Victoria. He told me frankly that unemployment was increasing, and that the industries affected included those connected with the manufacture of textiles, knitted goods and footwear, and the building industry.

As has been so clearly demonstrated by the honorable member for Macquarie ( Mr. Luchetti ), unemployment is increasing on the coal-fields, because coal mines are closing down. In Tasmania many limber mills have closed down, resulting in unemployment in the timber industry. In my own constituency of BendigoI have found skilled carpenters seeking employment as unskilled or semi-skilled labourers because they cannot find work as carpenters in the building industry. It is a shocking economic waste to have these people, who possess the skills that so short a time ago were very scarce and in great demand, forced to take unskilled work because the circumstances of the times do not permit them to use their skills in their normal avocation.

I am advised by officials of the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne that men and women are flocking daily to the various trade union offices seeking employment. Many of them are immigrants, and many of them cannot speak English as well as we would wish. They go to the offices of the Trades Hall Council and to the offices of various organizations, trying to secure jobs. Of course, the opinion that I express regarding the total volume of unemployment cannot be substantiated by figures, but it is the opinion of the secretary of the Melbourne Trades Hall Council and, I believe, of the secretary of the Sydney Trades Hall Association. The opinion is that the number of persons unemployed at present is double the number shown in the figures that have been issued by the Department of Labour and National Service. Of course, one cannot prove such a statement without producing figures, but one does know that unemployment exists and is increasing. [Extension of time granted.]

I think the honorable member for Port Adelaide ( Mr. Thompson ) was correct when he said that if there is any industry that can be taken as a barometer of economic activity, it is the building industry. If the building industry is fully occupied, it provides opportunities for employment for a great number of workers in other industries because of its requirements of raw materials from so many sources. At present the building industry is in a state of stagnation, for which this Government must be blamed. The policy of credit restriction that has been in operation during the last eighteen months has made it almost impossible for the average workman to find sufficient money to build a home. The fact that money is not available in bank loans means that the deposit required for a home is exceptionally high. The result is that there is a tendency everywhere to reduce the rate of home building, which is of such importance to our people. One must bear in mind that home-building activity creates a great deal of employment. As our population increases, both by immigration and by natural increase in Australia, so the number of homes required must also increase.

I wish to stress that if employment is to be increased money for home building must be made available. This will stimulate a demand for both materials and labour, and the number of persons unemployed will decrease. I hope that our discussion to-day will cause the Government to give more serious consideration to the problem of unemployment, and that its future economic policy will result in a maximum of employment. We must not allow the creeping paralysis of unemployment to become more widespread.

Sitting suspended from 12.47 to 2.15 p.m.

Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -

That the business of the day be called on.

page 115


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 28th August (vide page 85), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -

That the bill be now read a second time.


.- I rise to support the bill in the vain hope that at long last some definite attempt will be made to bring results in the development of this capital city. Since I have been in this Parliament there have been repeated criticisms not only by the press but also, unfortunately, by some members of the Parliament, of Canberra and its development and the people here. To my mind, it is most unfortunate that this has been so because, if honorable members would take the trouble to have a look at the Constitution, they would see that section 125 provides -

The seat of Government of the Commonwealth shall be determined by the Parliament-

That is laid down most definitely - and shall be within territory which shall have been granted to or acquired by the Commonwealth, and shall be vested in and belong to the Commonwealth, and shall be in the State of New South Wales, and be distant not less than one hundred miles from Sydney.

Such territory shall contain an area of not less :han one hundred square miles, and such portion thereof as shall consist of Crown lands shall be granted to the Commonwealth without any payment therefor.

Then the Seat of Government Act which, if my memory serves me correctly, was passed in 1908, laid down that the capital city should be in the Yass-Canberra area. That was followed within the next year or so by arrangements, under the Seat of Government Acceptance Act, to enable the Commonwealth to take over this particular area from the State of New South Wales. So whether we like it or not, and whether the National Capital is in the correct place in Australia or not, it was determined by our forebears - the founders of the Constitution - that it should be in a certain area of New South Wales and not less than 100 miles from Sydney. Therefore, it is here with us. I think the best we can do is to make the best of that selection. If each and every one of the honorable members elected to this Parliament has any consideration at all for the position of this Parliament within Australia, within the Commonwealth of Nations and, indeed, in the world, he should use his best endeavours to see that this is a fitting capital for this country. We have plenty of examples to guide us on what has gone before in the older countries of the world, so let us hope that we shall not make any grave error which, in later years, could be thrown back at u’s as folly and so forth.

It will be recalled that this provisional Parliament House was opened in 1927. Quite a few people throughout Australia had the idea that a national capital should contain only a parliament house where members could occasionally meet and discuss the affairs of State. They failed to realize that a national capital must have within its borders all the various departments of state and, if possible, branches of industry, to keep the place going.

As 1 have said, down through the years there has been unfortunate criticism of Canberra, not only by members of Parliament, but also by outside media. I hope that the creation of this commission is a move in the right direction. Personally, I think that it is. I hope that the commission will have teeth so that it can do something and not be tossed aside, as have been certain schemes over the years.

The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall), in his second-reading speech, made the comment that the development and progress of Canberra will be subject to the state of the economy. That is probably as it should be. But, I do hope that those judges of the state of the economy in the years immediately ahead will be somewhat better judges than we have had in the past, because, as was correctly pointed out last night by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), during the last seven or eight years there have been fits and starts in this capital to do this, that, and the other thing. As the honorable member rightly said, in some instances after a commencement had been made, steps were suddenly taken without the Minister’s knowledge and the particular project was not gone on with. Let us all hope that, as a result of the creation of the proposed commission, nothing of that kind will happen in the near future. This is one part of the bill that gives me some concern, not only in relation to the proposed commission, but also to other activities of the Commonwealth Government. I have mentioned the matter in this House on previous occasions. Let us hope that the state of the economy will not be such as to prevent this commission from functioning as we all hope it will.

When the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) was speaking to the motion last night, he expressed some concern about the composition of the National Planning and Development Committee. I remind him that it is quite possible - I am not going to say that it will definitely happen - that included in the panel of names submitted by the engineers’ and architects’ organizations will be that of a person who lives in the Australian Capital Territory. Who knows whether the selection of two persons for cultural and other purposes will not be made from persons living in the Territory? However, even if that does not happen, I should like to remind the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, as well as the people in Canberra, that this is the National Capital, and that residents of the most remote portions of this country are just as much entitled to have representation on the proposed committee as are the residents of the Territory. I am not speaking in a derogatory manner of the people here. I am only pointing out what. to my mind, is a fair and reasonable manner of approach to the composition of the proposed body. Let the people of the Australian Capital Territory, as well as those in the rest of Australia, dismiss the idea that this National Capital belongs to any one section of the people. It does not belong only to the people of Canberra or to any other section of the Australian community; it belongs to the whole community. Therefore, it behoves every one of us, if he has any pride whatsoever in his country, to see to the best of his ability that the National Capital will be a credit to Australia.

The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory rightly stated last night that very few members of the Parliament see fit to remain over the week-ends during sittings of the Parliament in order to have a look at this place. An honorable member on my right says, “ Hear, hear “. If anybody took the trouble to have a look at the most inadequate airport terminal at Fairbairn on a Friday morning of a parliamentary sitting week he would see quite an appreciable jam of human bodies trying to get on the first available aircraft to the north or to the south - trying to get out of this place just as quickly as they possibly could.

Mr Anderson:

– What about to the west?


– Yes, and to the west, but not quite so quickly. If some honorable members can catch transport on Thursday nights, they do so.

Mr Daly:

– The honorable member should have a yarn with Hughie Leslie.


– I might have a yarn also with the honorable member for Grayndler, whom I have seen on some Thursday nights between 7 o’clock and 9.30 o’clock looking for a vehicle to get him to Sydney. It would not do any honorable member any harm to stop in Canberra occasionally for the week-end to see what makes this place tick.

Mr Peters:

– Does it tick?


– An honorable member from Victoria asks, “ Does it tick? “ I am sure that to-morrow morning he will be going hot-footed for Melbourne because the semi-finals of the football are to be played there. I suggest to him that he remain in Canberra over the week-end. One semi-final of the Australian Rules football will be played here on Saturday and one on Sunday, so he will not miss anything but will be able to enjoy some sport. Unless honorable members are prepared to give some time to having a look at this city, they will not know what makes it function. We all recall, as the honorable member for Chisholm mentioned last night, when the building of a swimming pool in Canberra was first contemplated. Criticism came from everywhere. Thank goodness the criticism had no effect on those who were determined to establish that amenity in this capital! I say that because a swimming pool was necessary, and not merely to provide something for the people living in Canberra. If we did not do jobs such as that, how would we look in the eyes of the world when we tried to stage some sporting event in the National Capital? Surely the people of the Commonwealth did not want us to have only a duck pond or something of that kind for world champions when we invited them to come along to show us their prowess! I congratulate every one associated with projects such as that, because they are the people who will look forward to see what this city should have, will get into the job and will have it completed. Unfortunately, because of the state of the economy at various times, other projects in the sporting field, the public field and every other field have been started and then stopped, and, as every one is aware, it takes a long time to get them started again. Therefore, I am sure that honorable members and every thinking person outside the Parliament will agree that the creation of this commission has been needed for a long time and will hope it will be able to do something, as I think it will if it is given the opportunity.

The Seat of Government Acceptance Act was passed as long ago as 1909, and the idea of establishing a national capital was contained in that document. I wonder whether honorable members realize how many departments have been moved to the National Capital since 1936. I made myself aware of it to-day. No department has been moved to this city since 1936. Admittedly the departments already here at that time have expanded. That has been caused by the increase of population and the increase of the functions that have to be carried out by the National Parliament. Also, two new departments have been created. From memory, they are the

Department of National Development and the Department of Immigration. But there has been no movement of departments to this capital since 1936. If this city is to be built as was envisaged in the late 1890’s and as the founders of the Constitution wrote into section 125 of that document, then at long last we should be making a move and this measure has not been brought forward too early.

The growth of Canberra has been truly remarkable. If honorable members care to refer to “ Hansard “ of two or three years ago, they will find that I said then that no city development in the world could compare with the rapid advancement of Canberra; and the city is nowhere near completed yet. When I first came here in 1946 I think the population was 12,000. As the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory mentioned last night, the population is now 37,000 or 38,000. An increase of population of that magnitude requires a lot of building, housing, roads and services of every kind. We have a big job in front of us if we are to carry out the plans envisaged at the end of the last century. That task requires the immediate creation of of some authority that can carry on, unhindered by the ramifications of departmental procedure. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said only recently that it was imperative to move sections of the defence services to the National Capital as early as possible. That means moving some 1,100 officers - again I am relying on my memory. Quite a number of homes will need to be built and services of every kind provided. Therefore, the creation of this commission is warranted at this juncture.

In the past, some criticism has been levelled at the departments handling the job of building Canberra. Since I first became associated with the Department of the Interior, I have heard, not only in this Parliament, but also from civil servants throughout the Commonwealth, that unfortunately the Department of the Interior is the backwater of the Government. It certainly has been since I have been associated with it. The honorable member for Chisholm referred, in his speech last night, to “ Operation Admin.” and the various plans that were subsequently prepared and then altered or discarded. No one could complain if there were a decline in morale amongst men engaged in these departments when, after taking the trouble to work out the necessary details of these plans, the whole of their work had to be more or less thrown into the waste-paper basket because of some movement of the economy or for some other reason. In view of that situation, the officers of these departments should be most highly commended for the progress they have achieved. As was pointed out by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, the honorable member for Chisholm, and myself a few moments ago, the growth of this capital during the past ten years has been remarkable, and the job done by the men in the departments under most trying circumstances has been excellent. I know myself that they have not confined their work to the hours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but have taken the job home with them to tackle at night or over the weekend. After concentrating and giving their all in the hope that something decent would emanate, to see their work tossed into the waste-paper basket must be frustrating. Therefore, they are to be most highly commended for what they have done.

The building of this city has been entrusted to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works, and it is only natural that there should be some differences and some slight friction. However, a small body of men concentrated within those departments has been able to keep things at least on a reasonably even keel, and they have done a truly remarkable job. Therefore, I hope, and I am sure that every honorable member hopes, now that the importance of building this city has been realized, that the creation of this commission will mean that the task will really be tackled with some determination and some continuity so that it can be completed as early as possible. I hope that the gentlemen who undertake this job will not only be mindful of the fact that they must build homes and roads and provide footpaths, electricity, sewerage and water, but also will have a true vision of what this capital must ultimately become. I hope one of the jobs that they attempt reasonably early - I do not say to-morrow - will be the construction of a new Parliament House. I remember when I first broached this subject to a Minister of the Interior in this place. His reaction was truly remarkable, but I am very glad to say that at this moment he thinks along the same lines as

I do. If the population of this countryis to increase as we hope, it will not be long before, as the honorable member for -Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) said last night, this Parliament will be bursting at the seams. Then we shall have a nice kettle of fish, and I would not envy either Mr. Speaker or the President his job when that happened. I can only hope that the proposed commission will pay some regard at least to the commencement of work on a new parliament house. This building could then be ear-marked for some other special purpose. I believe that it would make an admirable high court, ;but that is for some one else to decide.

Last night the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) referred to the condition of the airport terminal in this city.

Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!


– I. appreciate the support of honorable members opposite, but I can recall very clearly that when a certain Minister for the Interior was anxious to get on with the job of improving it, the work had to be put to one side because faint zephyrs were threatening to chill the economy. I wish to say quite frankly, and without any criticism or bitterness towards any individual, that the airport terminal is a disgrace, not only to Canberra but to the Commonwealth of Australia as well, and to every taxpayer in this country. I have often refrained from replying to criticism of Canberra’s development, but I do not intend to do so any longer. I believe that to support criticism of the building of magnificent structures in this centre is merely to pander to the low type of person - fortunately such people are rare - who gives no thought to the future of his country. We have before us many examples of capital city development in other parts of the world. Let us ensure that we are not guilty of stupid mistakes, of lack of vision or of being miserable in providing finance. Let us look round the world and see what has been done elsewhere. We are one of the world’s youngest nations, but nonetheless important for that. We, as the custodians of public finance, should get on with, the job of looking after the public welfare and ensure that in this National Capital we shall have buildings that will be a credit to Australia, and a source of pride to the Australian people. Some of the buildings that have been erected in other parts of the world have little more permanence than structures of straw and mud.

I welcome this legislation and congratulate the Minister upon being able, at long last, to introduce it. I know the battle that he has fought to bring it forward. I also commend all his predecessors for the job that they have done since I have been associated with the Parliament. Legislation such as this has long been wanting and the Parliament owes the Minister and his predecessors a great debt for their determination and energy which have resulted in the proposal that, at last, we have before us to-day.


.- In common with every other honorable member who has spoken, I support the bill, though not without reservation. Taken by and large-, its purpose is the improvement of the capital city, and any honorable member who is imbued with the national spirit must support it. As I see it, the bill streamlines the plan for the development of Canberra. Such a bill is long overdue because, unfortunately, Canberra’s development has, for a variety of reasons, been retarded.

No ‘ sooner had the capital been established in 1927 than we encountered the chill depression winds of the ‘thirties. No money could be spent on “ frills “ when there was not enough available to enable hundreds of thousands of decent Australians to keep body and soul together. No one could blame a government for failing to carry out large-scale improvements in Canberra during that period. We had just emerged from the depression when we were faced with a second world war. Again, money was needed for more serious and necessary purposes. After the war there was a great need for expenditure in such fields as the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, and it was another two or three years before any plans of a worthwhile kind could be made for Canberra’s development. Since that time there have, of course, been allocations to successive Ministers foi this purpose. However, from the information that I have gleaned, it would appear that this money has not always been spent in the most advantageous manner - that there has been a duplication of control and a constant and confusing cross-current of activity. Indeed; it is remarkable that we have achieved as much as we have done. 1 am very much afraid that the human element has entered far too greatly into the scheme of things. To use a colloquialism, there have been too many cooks spoiling the broth. I hope that this bill will do away with that sort of incubus, which has certainly not helped progress. The sporadic and spasmodic efforts of the. past will now be directed into more orderly and progressive channels. That is all to the good. The stage has been reached when the development of this capital city must be accelerated if it is to be worthy of the name and justify its existence.

Ever since Canberra was suggested as the site for the National Capital it has been the subject of criticism. There was a great deal of controversy over the site, and when the capital was established in 1927 it was described in all quarters of the Commonwealth as a white elephant. Even to-day I hear a great deal of criticism of Canberra as I move about Australia’s best capital city - I refer, of course, to Melbourne. The Melbournians say that it was a great mistake to move the seat of government from Melbourne but, as the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) has said, under the Constitution it had to be done. The visitor to Canberra merely sees buildings dotted here and there with 2 or 3 miles of paddocks in between. Many people seem to think that this is unworthy of a national capital. I hope that, with the passage of this bill, work will be expedited, and plans will be brought into operation to make this a city suited to the purposes for which it was originally intended, and a national capital in every sense of the term. An examination of the measure indicates that great responsibilities are to be vested in the proposed National Capital Development Commission. It is true that the commission will have three members, but, in fact, it will be a one-man band. As far as I can judge, the commissioner will be all-powerful, and I should say that the two associate commissioners will fill the role merely of advisers.

The success of this proposal will be gauged by the capacity of the commission to deliver the goods. We should support it in every way possible, and see that it gets away to a good start. It is to be vested with powers that are rather unusual in Australia.

I realize that there are other government, instrumentalities controlled by commissioners who have almost supreme powers, but it is uncommon to find a situation in which an urban population as large as that of Canberra is subject to a person with powers such as the proposed commissioner will have. That is not necessarily a matter for criticism, because conditions here are such that some one in authority with dictatorial powers is needed. 1 say that, not critically, but, at the moment, more or less in approval. Unless the person who is responsible for delivering the goods has dictatorial powers, we shall not achieve anything like what we hope to achieve, because so much red tape has to be cut away and so many obstructions have to be removed. To be perfectly honest, I think that the commissioner will need to be ruthless and ready to tread on a few corns. If he is not, we shall not get the results that the Parliament expects.

The need for planning is apparent on all sides. Everywhere, in Canberra, one sees evidence of a lack of planning, as well as of bad planning. There seems to have been a casual and haphazard approach to many of the problems of developing Canberra. Having said that, 1 could quite easily wax enthusiastic, and say that we should spend unlimited sums of money on all sorts of grandiose plans to bring Canberra to a condition as near perfection as possible. Unfortunately,, of course, this Government and those that will follow it will have to maintain a balance. They will not be able to spend all their money on one scheme. Governments of this Commonwealth have to administer the whole of the country, and all sorts of pressures aTe brought to bear upon them to spend money on this, that, or another thing. That is not to say that no large amounts should be spent on Canberra. But, we should see that the taxpayers receive value for any money spent here. I think that, if they do, every one in Australia will commend this Government on the introduction of this bill.

There is much to be done in Canberra. Vital decisions have to be made. No doubt, the persons who make them will be subjected to criticism. After all, the only man that is never criticized is he who never does anything. I hope that the proposed commissioner will be a man of strong purpose. I hope, and I am sure, that the Minister for the Interior ( Mr. Fairhall ) has in mind for the appointment a particular gentleman who possesses all the qualifications for the job. Believe me, he will need very high qualifications. Among them, I think, he should have a streak of ruthlessness, as well as determination and resolution, so that he will not be deterred by puny criticism buried at him by groups of people who think that this, that, or another thing should be done. The commissioner will have to determine what should be done, and how priorities shall be allocated, and he will be in a far better position to judge than will any outside person, who, perhaps, may be obsessed by only one feature of the Canberra plan. The commissioner will have to set his course, and will have to keep to it regardless of opposition from any source.

The Minister stated, in his second-reading speech, that the proposed commission is to undertake and carry out the planning, development and construction of the City of Canberra as the National Capital of the Commonwealth with power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for that purpose. That is a responsibility before which any normal person might well quail. It is evident that tremendous power is to be vested in what, for practical purposes, will be one man. The discharge of the duties enumerated by the Minister will give rise to a tendency to »ct away from ministerial control - not that, at the moment, it would be a bad thing to get away from ministerial control a little. In an endeavour to guard against that, as the Minister has stated, the commission will be required to inform the Minister about decisions with respect to matters of policy. That is a very sound provision, and I hope that the implementation of it will not become a mere formality.

I know that the Minister for the Interior has numerous responsibilities, and is fully occupied throughout the working day in making decisions and supervising the numerous activities that come under his jurisdiction as Minister for the Interior. However, the job of developing Canberra is so important that the procedure proposed should not degenerate into the mere submission of a casual report to the Minister by the commission with the idea that the Minister will accept a proposed change of policy willy-nilly, give it the imprimatur of his signature, and let it go at that. I realize that the proposed commission must have wider powers than are usually given to a body of this kind, but I hope that it will not exercise them under too remote a control from the Minister. In certain circumstances, remoteness from ministerial control may be a good thing, but in other circumstances, it can be a very bad thing. I hope that the Minister, irrespective of his other ministerial duties, will give sufficient time to the study of any recommendations or reports submitted by the commission on matters of policy. The commission will have substantial responsibilities and wide powers. I hope that those powers will not be abused. Unfortunately, not in the federal sphere, but in the States, there have been instances of commissions with wide powers so abusing those powers that the State governments that appointed them lived to regret the day that those powers were given. However, 1 think that, in this instance, the danger can be limited very greatly if the Minister is prepared to exercise, in a practical way, the power of supervision vested in him by the bill, and to take an active interest in the affairs of the commission.

I desire now to mention clause 25, which provides for the National Capital Planning Committee of nine members. This involves the abolition of the present National Capital Planning and Development Committee which, by the way, has seven members. I was glad to hear the Minister pay a well-deserved tribute to the seven gentlemen who comprise the existing committee, because they have undoubtedly rendered splendid service in the cause of Canberra’s progress. Having said that, I should like to express my deep regret that the present committee is being abolished in a more or less cavalier fashion. Its members are just being brushed aside. The House has been given no reason why their services are no longer required. There may be very good reasons. If there are, I should like to hear them. I disagree with the proposal that the commissioner shall be chairman of this committee. I have already indicated that there will be a tendency for the commission to become something of a one-man band. I see nothing wrong in that at the moment with respect to the functions of the commission, but I am afraid that, if the commissioner is also to be chairman of the National Capital Planning Committee, he will exercise powers in a way that was not intended. After all, the purpose of the committee is to advise the commission on matters about which the members of the commission may not be knowledgeable, and to make suggestions that may emanate from a specialized knowledge on a variety of matters.

There may be a tendency for the permanent head - in this instance, the commissioner - to superimpose his will upon the views of what will be for these purposes a group of men who are amateurs, not in the sense that they have no knowledge of the subjects with which they are dealing, but in the sense that they are only part-time participants in the scheme of things. They may meet perhaps once a fortnight for two or three hours. Any one who has had experience of organizations such as this in other spheres knows that the man who is participating in something all the time always has a tendency to impose his will upon those who are engaged in the same thing only part-time. This tendency is seen in the activities of bodies such as fire-brigade boards, and the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works. The man who is in the job all the time tends to adopt the superior attitude that as he is there all the time, naturally he knows more about it than those called upon to advise him. Unfortunately, the amateur or part-time advisers after a while take the same view. Therefore, I cannot see how this committee will achieve the desired effect when the person whom it is to advise will be actually steering the committee and, possibly, having to say a lot about the submissions. I would say that, in the final analysis, he will decide what submissions will be made to him. That is a rather Gilbertian situation. I think it would be much better if this committee were to consist of persons who had no connexion with the permanent functions of the commission.

Another regrettable feature, in my opinion, is the omission of an ex-officio member of the committee in the person of the chairman of the Public Works Committee. It may be that I am biased in this, because I have been a member of the Public Works Committee for seven years. I have some knowledge of the valuable work that has been done by the chairmen of that committee in their capacity as ex-officio members of the old National Capital Planning and Development Committee. The chairman of the Public

Works Committee has always been a respected member of this Parliament. As a matter of fact, the two chairmen prior to the present one received promotion from that position to ministerial rank. The present Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) and the present Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) were not so very long ago chairmen of the Public Works Committee. Because the chairman of the Public Works Committee is a man who carries some weight in the Parliament, obviously he has some ideas about what the Parliament thinks and what it should do. There has always been liaison between the Public Works Committee chairman, the Parliament and the advisory committee. In other words, as a representative of the Public Works Committee and, in effect, as a representative of the Parliament, the chairman knew what was going on in the National Capital Planning and Development Committee. He was a watch-dog, as it were, and in that way he served a very useful purpose. That has been so for twenty years, and I very much regret that such contact with the Parliament is to be broken.

It was only an indirect contact, but I do not think there was ever one occasion when the chairman of the Public Works Committee, whoever he was, abused his trust. Indeed, I know from observations and from conversations I have had with other members of the old committee that he played a very important part in the numerous discussions which took place from time to time. In addition, as chairman of the Public Works Committee he had access to much useful information in the archives of that committee in relation to the many problems of Canberra. Since 1916, the Public Works Committee has been required, on various occasions, to investigate projects connected with Canberra itself. In recent years, the committee has investigated many Canberra matters and has amassed much information on them. It has, from time to time, interrogated expert witnesses from all parts of the Commonwealth. They have come to Canberra, or the committee has gone to Melbourne or Sydney to obtain their opinions on Canberra projects. The result is that the chairman of the committee is well versed in the problems of Canberra. I suggest that he would have far more knowledge of Canberra’s problems than would the nine people who are to be appointed under the provisions of this bill.

I shall give an illustration of what the Public Works Committee has discussed in relation to Canberra in recent years. Recently, we were called upon to look into the question of a new traffic bridge and, in the course of our investigations, much expert evidence was called. As a matter of fact, almost everybody who had any knowledge of the subject at all was called to give evidence. We made inspections of the site and eventually we came to a decision in regard to the bridge, but, in arriving at that decision, we were able to obtain and consider information relating to Canberra’s traffic problems, such as the density of traffic and the necessity for more roads, and also we were able to find out something about the lakes scheme. We were able to find out, for example, as was mentioned by the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Lawrence), that a certain part of the lakes scheme - the West Lake proposal - had been excised from the scheme without the knowledge of practically everybody. That fact came out when we were investigating the Canberra bridges project and we specially mentioned it in the report that we submitted to the Parliament two or three years ago. In that investigation, our chairman gleaned a lot of information in his official capacity that would be most useful to this proposed committee.

Then again, two or three years ago, we investigated Canberra’s water supply. We made trips to the hills surrounding the Cotter River. We went almost everywhere. We went to Melbourne to investigate its water supply. In that investigation, the chairman amassed much information. Recently, when we carried out an investigation of the Canberra hospital project, we obtained a lot of information about the projected increase of the population of Canberra and that sort of thing. Four or five years ago, we investigated the need for a new national library building in Canberra, and we took evidence in Melbourne and Sydney in relation to that project. Therefore, from the point of view of the bridges, the lakes scheme, the water supply, the hospital and the National Library, I submit that nobody would be more competent to serve on this new committee than the chairman of the Public Works Committee, because, as a result of his association with the Public Works Committee, he has been able to equip himself with a lot of knowledge which, I am certain, it would take other people years to acquire. The chairman of the Public Works Committee has access to the files of that committee, and I suggest it would be a mistake to exclude him from the new body. He could certainly make a positive contribution to Canberra’s progress in the future.

Another provision of the bill with which I desire to deal is clause 11 (5.) which will prevent the commission from departing from the plan for the lay-out of Canberra except with the approval of the Parliament. Theoretically, that is a good provision, but in actual practice it will not mean much. Many papers are laid on the table of the Parliament. Almost anything can get through without anybody knowing anything about it. As the honorable member for Wimmera mentioned last night, the deletion of the West Lake from the lakes scheme got through with hardly anybody knowing anything about it. This is a proposal to perpetuate a system that has failed in the past. A multitude of documents are laid on the table of the Parliament and hardly anybody knows anything about them. A million and one things have to be considered. Ministers cannot be expected to have the fullest appreciation of all matters. I would say that the experience of the past shows that, because of pressure of business, alterations such as the deletion of the West Lake scheme have gone through almost unnoticed. A Minister may be abroad and the Minister temporarily in charge of his department, not knowing much about it, could put his signature to a proposed alteration. The document would be laid on the table of the Parliament, and before one could say “ Jack Robinson “ it would go through. Because of our unenviable experience in the past in relation to the deletion of West Lake, we should not encourage such a state of affairs.

Therefore, I suggest that every proposed variation of the original Canberra plan should be referred to the recently formed Joint Parliamentary Committee on Canberra. I understand that that committee, consisting of members of both Houses, was formed for the purpose of giving consideration to matters referred to it by the Minister. With that objective I heartily concur. Instead of the Minister giving only two or three minutes of his valuable time to a departmental officer who comes in to give reasons why the plan should be changed, putting his signature to the document and letting the matter go at that, he could refer the suggestion to the Joint Parliamentary Committee. The members of that committee are a band of enthusiasts; otherwise they would not be on it. They could give the matter consideration and arrive at a considered verdict, not in the space of two or three minutes, but after hearing all the evidence for and against. I suggest to the Minister that he consider doing this, because it will prevent surreptitious altering of the plan, as has occurred in the past.

Finally, as one who has had some municipal experience, I regret that provision is not made on this advisory committee for citizen representation. I do not suggest that all members should be elected by the citizens of Canberra. I realize that Canberra is not in the same category as other cities. Canberra is a different venture; it is financed by the people of Australia generally and is a city which is still growing, requiring millions of pounds for its development, and one cannot expect the few people living in Canberra to control the affairs of the city when they contribute only a little of the money. But I suggest that the inclusion of one citizen of Canberra would give greater interest. Whilst 1 realize that the peculiar circumstances applying in Canberra prevent the full application of the local government principle, I suggest to the Minister that this should not preclude the observance of the principle in a very minor degree by the appointment of one or even two Canberra representatives to the committee. They would not have preponderance of power but they would have a personal interest, and the people of Canberra would feel that they had personal representation.

I support what the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton) said in relation to Canberra’s airport. When the commission gets under way I trust that the airport will be the first job it will tackle. The airport is the gateway to Canberra. Many important people come to this city, and when they leave the aircraft what do they see? They see a building that resembles a country barn. The dignity of the city demands a decent building. I do not suggest that £1,000,000 should be spent on the building, but perhaps something between £20,000 and £40,000 would obtain a building worthy of this capital.

I congratulate the Minister on the bill because I think it is a genuine effort to make a definite contribution to Canberra’s progress and I am sure that it will receive the blessing and endorsement of this House. I hope that this commission will be the start of a new era in Canberra.


.- 1 support the bill and congratulate the Minister on the promising future that it holds out to the City of Canberra. It is also a fruitful precedent in that it follows the report of a select committee from another place, and so illustrates very effectively how useful parliamentary reports can be. If one looks on one side at the preoccupation of the Public Service with the daily task of administration, and, on the other, at Ministers making decisions and giving effective representation to the Government, one sees at each end large numbers of preoccupied people, but no one with the leisure time to examine and sift these matters.

The Minister did thank members of the National Capital Planning and Developing Committee. The members of that committee certainly are to be commended. 1 should also like to join in the tribute paid to the many other officials and others who, over the years, have devoted long and loving care to the development of Canberra. Although there has been well deserved criticism in some cases, many very able public servants have devoted to Canberra a very great part of their working lives. In a way, we are probably fortunate that there have been delays in constructing Canberra in the past. These have given us a better opportunity to-day. If the city had been fully built up in the centre twenty years ago, we should no longer have room for the motor vehicles that are in Canberra today. The general development which has taken place in this city, with its well-to-do population, could well have been adversely affected had more building taken place at an earlier stage.

Whether this measure- will succeed will depend almost entirely on who is appointed commissioner. I think we should commiserate with the Minister for the Interior ( Mr. Fairhall ) in his task of finding this ideal man. It has been suggested by members of the Opposition that the commissioner will be a superman, akin to a dictator, and he will indeed need some of these qualities. But, if the commissioner is to be appointed with such far-reaching powers, there is one proposal which I think should be considered: We should ensure that, in practice, the associate commissioners shall be chosen by the commissioner himself, although perhaps the Minister could have power of veto. If these associate commissioners are to be, in fact, the direct servants of the commissioner, it is highly essential that they be chosen by him in the first place, or from a panel of names satisfactory to him as well as to the Minister. 1 am glad to see that the National Capital Planning Committee is to have among its members two experts in the various fields - two architects, two engineers, two town planners, and two aesthetic gentlemen to make up the balance. The commissioner will have a wonderful range of views on almost every matter with which he has to deal, and when the two experts in any particular field are unanimous in an opinion, that will be something at least to be taken very seriously. I do not regret that the commissioner is to be chairman of the planning committee. It would seem to me most unfortunate if an advisory body, established separately, should be at public disagreement with the commissioner. The fact that he will sit amongst the members of that body as chairman will in fact be a very salutory guarantee against developments of that kind.

The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory ( Mr. J. R. Fraser ), in his very able and interesting speech, made quite a strong plea for local representation on the National Capital Planning Committee. In this respect we should distinguish very sharply between the development and construction of Canberra, and its daily administration. The development and construction of Canberra is basically a national matter which should be controlled effectively by this Parliament. The Australian Capital Territory is in fact extremely vocally represented in this Parliament, and I cannot believe that any strong feeling which arose in this community in relation to the development plan would not be made known to this House per medium of the Territory’s representative.

Having spent ten years in two capitals, here and in Washington,, where, in fact there is no. effective, local representation, I am far’n impressed, by this argument for representation of the local people. Because of the very nature of Canberra, many of the people most suitable to be candidates for election would be senior public servants, who for very obvious reasons cannot participate in this activity. There is always a danger that local representation in a city like Canberra will be too strongly loaded towards vested interests of various kinds, without direct representation of the most influential people; but, on the other hand, de facto the influence of senior public servants and of local opinion is very effective in other ways. The commissioner will find in practice that he will get too much local advice. The danger is that, in anything which is done in Canberra, the influence of people who live here will not be too little, but too great.

There is the further factor that, for historical reasons, this is a somewhat spoilt community. When public servants first came up from Melbourne and regarded themselves as exiles from civilization - something which was particularly difficult for others to understand - they set up a system of disability payments and arrangements of various kinds. But now a whole new generation of public servants has grown up. In fact, in some cases the children of the original public servants are occupying quite senior positions. To-day, far from life in Canberra being a disability, this is in many respects a privileged city and a very fine place in which to dwell.

Many things in Canberra are subsidized and provided at below cost, and that has applied right back to the early days. The provision of hospital services is more adequate and cheaper than anywhere else that I know of in Australia. The number of houses that are provided at rents which are below the economic level of original construction and upkeep costs is large. The effect of this, as on other people who are apt to get something for nothing, is that it leads to undue, criticism of those persons who have to bear responsibility for running this city. At a suitable time, in the. development of Canberra, when it has matured to a greater degree, there will be an excellent case for establishing a fully effective local body to spend money which it has raised. At present, the amount of money that is raised in Canberra and the. amount that is spent by the Government in one way and another are quite out of relationship, and a long period must elapse before there can be local government as we understand it elsewhere.

Much has been made of the question of annual appropriations. It derives, of course, historically from the fact that under all governments there have been sudden switches of the amount of money being made available for the development of the city. That, surely, is inherent in our whole system of annual budgeting; but there is no need for it to be so. The fact is that, whatever long-term financial provision has been made for Canberra, that provision must be reviewed from year to year by the government of the day. It is not a question merely of what this Government will do next year; it is a question also of what its successor will do. But the many policies of government can by no means be compressed within the three years of the maximum life of a parliament. The principle of annual review and annual budgeting is right at the root of parliamentary control -of expenditure and I, for one, do not support the idea that an appropriation for Canberra should be for more than one year at a time. That does not mean in practice that it cannot be kept on an even “keel.

On one occasion when expenditure on Canberra was cut, it was done, not with Canberra in view, but at a time when the Commonwealth decided that public works were to be curtailed to hold back inflation. It was thought desirable that the Commonwealth should set a good example, and Canberra suffered. Any general decision is apt to be particularly silly in detailed circumstances in individual cases. I suggest that we should be greatly misled if we got away from the principle of annual budgeting. ‘ We have the example of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, which is far more committed in advance than would be any building that is likely to be erected in Canberra, and which can be managed very well on annual appropriations.

The tasks immediately ahead of the commissioner are serious in themselves. The bringing of 1,100 members of the Defence Department and their dependants will be :a very large operation. I hope that in the future the Government will make every ahead of the provision of adequate facilities to enable them to continue their domestic lives. There has been a number of cases of broken homes and, at best, cases of people having to spend years away from their wives and families. There is really no reason why, if the various departments acted as a whole, that should be so. Apart from promoting efficiency of government, the movement of the services and their civil service counterparts to Canberra is to be greatly welcomed as a useful diversification of Canberra life.

Another matter which should be considered and which has already been mentioned is the planning and building of a future parliament house. I suggest that we should seriously consider the establishment of a parliamentary committee to examine that question, because every one else is likely to be too busy and too preoccupied to give to it the attention which it really deserves.

The provision in Canberra of houses for Ministers should also be considered. In practice, the efficiency of government suffers greatly from the frequent, almost total, absence of all Ministers from Canberra. I know from personal experience as a public servant under two governments of different political colour that there were numerous occasions on which it was important to get a rapid decision, particularly on events occurring overseas, and when it was quite impossible to contact several members of the Cabinet by telephone because they were scattered all over the Commonwealth without any effective corporate nucleus being left in Canberra. I suggest that we would do well to examine the South African practice. Perhaps South Africa has gone farther than we should ever wish to in providing houses for all Ministers in both the administrative capital of Pretoria and the parliamentary capital of Cape Town. Until we have a number of houses for Ministers, and have at least a proportion of Cabinet living steadily in Canberra, moving from there to their appointments instead of coming occasionally to Canberra, the efficiency of government will suffer. The fact is that our constitutional fathers committed us to creating a capital in the wilderness, and living in it; and until the most senior of the persons involved in that process live in Canberra government will continue to be less efficient than it should be and will not be as effectively carried out by Ministers and the Parliament as it should be.


– There are some vacant houses at the Causeway.


– Yes; I can well believe that, but there are not many others. There are several matters in respect of which the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory may be of some assistance. He pointed out, I think very rightly, and I agree with him entirely, the need for vision and thinking big in this matter. I hope that he will do his best, in order to help in that direction, by overcoming some of the local practices which drag us the other way. For instance, I understand that there is an effective darg on the laying of bricks in this capital city. I do not know the actual number, but I understand that the darg is now about 450 bricks a day, which is certainly well below the number of bricks a good piece-worker would normally lay on a housing job. I am also told that there is a very active darg at the local brickworks. That brickworks is highly essential for the development of Canberra, and its continued failure to produce bricks in adequate numbers is at least part of the reason why the Canberra landscape is dotted with so many eyesores. I would not profess to be an expert, but I suggest that that is something the Government should examine very closely; and if, in fact, after all these years the Government cannot run the brickworks efficiently and produce a reasonable number of bricks, it should consider allowing private enterprise to do the job.

I agree with the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory in his suggestion that changes in the Canberra plan such as that which led to the lake leaking away, should be specifically dealt with by the Parliament as substantive matters instead of merely being dealt with in documents laid on the table of the House. It is a sad admission if, after regulations have lain on the table of this House for a period of fourteen days or three weeks, they are not looked at by responsible members of this House and debated. Absolute vigilance by the Parliament is essential to safeguard our fundamental liberties. If such things in fact happen in this Parliament, that is a failure with which we should deal instead of attempting to deal with it piecemeal in relation to particular pieces of legislation.

There is no doubt that the national capital of any nation is a symbol and should be a focal point of national pride. I believe that we should give the Minister every support that we can give him; and, when the new commissioner is appointed, we should also give him every support. They will both need it. The commissioner will need the support of the Minister, and the Minister will need the support of the Cabinet. He will also continue to need a very fruitful flow of finance.


.- The House has listened to a number of authoritative and thoughtful speeches on the bill. I am prompted to take part in the debate because I am a member of the Public Works Committee, in consequence of which I have knowledge, limited though it may be, of some of the developments and projects affecting the National Capital that have been before that committee over the last ten years. I say, advisedly, that my knowledge in that respect is limited.

One of the most thoughtful contributions to the debate was made by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). The bill, as the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) has said, proposes something that is not original. It could be termed a variation of a theme; and in this instance the theme is the control and development of the Australian Capital Territory. The Minister pointed out that the Australian Capital Territory was, in the late 1920’s, subject to a commission of the kind proposed in the bill. He also said that some of the best work in the history of the Territory was accomplished during the life of that commission. Whether or not that is so I am not in a position to test, but I. should like to say something about the composition of the authority proposed to be established under the bill.

Whatever else the bill will accomplish it will at least bring to an end the duality of authority operating in this Territory in respect of development and building. It will end the conflict between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works. In making that statement I do not wish to belittle either department in any way. The officers of those departments, have been motivated by the highest ideals. Nevertheless, conflict in their ideas hasbrought about a very undesirable state of affairs. So, I feel that it is in the interests of the Territory that that situation should be brought to an end.

Some reference has been made to the new Parliament House. I have been informed that it is suggested that the new Parliament House should be built on a site which is completely contrary to the proposal contained in the Burley Griffin plan. If any such idea is entertained at the moment I suggest that people who entertain it should abandon that line of thought and return to the original Burley Griffin proposal. I think that the suggested site for the new Parliament House is not suitable and that the current proposal should be abandoned in favour of the original proposal.

It is interesting to contrast the development of Canberra with that of Washington. As every one knows, Burley Griffin was an American; and continued reference has been made to the similarity between Washington and Canberra. Whilst that similarity exists, I think that it is well to point out that Canberra is .growing at a far greater rate than Washington did in its early days. Canberra’s population has doubled during the last eight years and to-day is about 38,000. When the United States of America had a population of approximately 9,500,000, which is Australia’s population to-day, the number of persons in Washington was 15,000. So to-day, we have over twice as many people in our National Capital as the United States had .in its capital at a corresponding stage of that nation’s development. From 1810 to 1840 the population of Washington rose by only 18,000. The population of Canberra has more than doubled in the last eight years. It is true that after 1850 Washington developed at a far greater rate.

The movement of departments to Canberra has been referred to. I think it is worth while to make the point that at present 7,000 public servants who will eventually be brought to Canberra are located in Melbourne. The “first move in this direction will be to bring 1,100 of ‘them to Canberra within the next two or three years. The Government is to be congratulated on facing up to this matter, but whether its plans will ‘be fulfilled remains to be -seen. The uprooting of such a large number of people presents a very formidable problem, not only to the employees themselves but also to their families. When they have been brought to Canberra, additional problems will arise in providing housing, hospital and health facilities, roads, and so on.

Mr Chambers:

– And education.


– And educational facilities also. Therefore, I think that the Government should formulate a programme, stating a definite deadline for the establishment of each department in Canberra. The people involved should be given reasonable notice of the Government’s intention, because they will have to uproot themselves from their surroundings and start a new life here. It is not an easy problem to solve. The proposal to remove the departments to Canberra has been met with great enthusiasm in some quarters, but with obstruction and opposition in others. One can readily appreciate the position of public servants who have only five or ten years to serve. Their lives, homes and everything they possess are centred in other cities. They will be expected to lift themselves from those surroundings and start life anew, at a stage when they are thinking of retiring from work. It is safe to say that .quite a lot of the obstruction to the transfer of departments from Melbourne to Canberra comes from quarters outside the Government.

The contentious clauses in the bill are clauses 4, 1 1, 21 and 25. Clause 4 provides that the commissioner shall be assisted by two associate commissioners, each of whom shall -be appointed by the Governor-General. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) proposes the ‘establishment of a commission wherein one man will have sole authority and power to determine the .development and planning of this capital. Although other honorable members have said that they approve of this idea, I do not. To me, it seems that two associate .commissioners to assist the commissioner would be redundant. The proposal is that .these associate commissioners shall be completely bereft -of .all authority and power, except such as may ;be delegated to them by the commissioner. That being the case, why .is lit -necessary to appoint associate commissioners? .i .think it «w.ould »be better .and more democratic to elect a commission of three ;persons with full voting power and authority than (to have one commissioner, assisted by two .associate commissioners who have no authority at all. I am not at .all in favour rot having all the power and authority vested in one person. To me, it seems anomalous to appoint associate commissioners to act in whatever capacity and degree shall be determined by the commissioner.

Clause 21 provides that, on 31st March of each year, the commission shall submit to the Minister particulars of proposed expenditure for the financial year commencing on the following 1st July. The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who spoke in support of this clause, said that that was a very good proposal. In travelling round with the Public Works Committee, visiting such places as Darwin, I have found that most Public Service departments regard yearly allocations by the Treasury as one of the greatest obstacles with which they have to contend in the development of any place or project. They find that it is impossible to plan effectively when they are tied to yearly allocations. Under this system, if an allocation has not been spent when the end of the financial year approaches, there is always a hurry and scurry on the part of those responsible for the spending of the money to ensure that they will spend their allocation and put themselves in the position of being able to justify their demands for the ensuing financial year. Because of the annual review and allocation by the Treasury, they find that they are not able to do any effective planning.

That has been the experience of government departments throughout the Commonwealth. It is not merely my opinion, but the opinion also of highly placed public servants. Year by year, they are required either to cut back or accelerate their spending towards the end of the financial year, and this interferes drastically with any longrange project to which they may be committed. A large project may necessitate the expenditure of from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000. The preparation of plans and drawings for such a project takes from nine to twelve months. When departments are restricted to a yearly allocation, it is quite possible that the whole project will be held up or will ultimately collapse. That has happened time and time again. We have found instances in which the Government has decided to withdraw an allocation from one project, to the detriment of that project, and use it for something else. Therefore, I submit that the idea of keeping allocations down to twelve months is not, in the long run, in the best interests of the development or planning of the Australian Capital Territory. As I said before, there is ample evidence to support that point of view.

In clause 25 of the bill, the Minister proposes ro set up a committee to advise the commission. IL will be known as the National Capital Planning Committee. The Minister has proposed that the commissioner himself shall bc the chairman of the committee. One of the ideas that was presented by Government speakers was that this would prevent any conflict between the commissioner and the committee. If there happens to be a conflict between the commissioner and the committee it does not follow that that in itself, of necessity, must be bad. But the honorable member for Wentworth said that if the commissioner had to act in this capacity as chairman of the committee it would go a long way towards reducing the possibility of conflict. What will be the position of people on an advisory committee who find that the chairman himself is very much opposed to one of their propositions and that, notwithstanding their point of view, he has the power of veto? It will not be very beneficial to them to know that the man who presides over their committee will have the power of veto.

It is evident that the National Capital Planning Committee will only advise the commissioner and. rather than give the commissioner the power of veto, I think it would be in the best interests of all to keep him away from the deliberations of the committee altogether. Allow him to retain the authority to veto, which he undoubtedly now has, rather than push him into a position in which he will preside over a committee which might find itself in opposition to him on quite a number of matters. While it has been suggested that this might be a way of avoiding a deadlock, I do not subscribe to the idea that disagreement between the two parties would be necessarily bad. The history of Canberra shows definitely that the differences of opinion that have prevailed from time to time between some of the authorities in this Territory have resulted in quite a lot of good.

I think that the membership of the proposed committee could be considerably widened to the benefit of the committee and of the Australian Capital Territory. I fail to see why it is necessary to stipulate that two members of the committee shall possess artistic or cultural attainments sufficient to enable them to sit on the committee. What, it might be asked, is the definition of artistic or cultural attainments under the bill? I think it would be far preferable to allow the appointment of two people without making that stipulation.

I support other speakers who have paid tribute to the members of the old committee who will resign as a result of this legislation coming into force. I think the Parliament should place on record its appreciation of the invaluable services that those gentlemen have rendered to the development of this Capital Territory of ours over the last 25 years at considerable inconvenience and sacrifice to themselves. Many of them are outstanding specialists in their own field. They have served on the committee with no monetary reward, but they have lost considerably as a result of their coming to Canberra fortnightly or monthly. I think that it is only fitting that we should be gracious enough to acknowledge the fact that, while they may have lost in a monetary sense as a result of the time and effort that they have spent in attempting to plan our development, nevertheless they have played a part in the development of our capital that cannot be measured or assessed in monetary terms. Therefore, I am very pleased, indeed, that the House has had the opportunity of discussing a bill of this kind. I think it is long overdue, and my criticism has been offered, not with the object of condemning the bill, but in the hope that it will result in some improvement of it.


.- I rise to speak in support of this bill for an act te, establish a commission for the development of the City of Canberra as the National Capital of the Commonwealth and for related purposes. In this chamber and elsewhere much has been said about the beauty of Canberra. I am reminded that my first contact with the city occurred some ten years ago when, in the early sunlight hours of a September morning, having been introduced to the city through the railway station, which has been under some criticism in the debate, I walked from the station through an area quite unknown to me and came under the influence of the

September peach and almond blossoms as I found my way through the district of Forrest.

It is natural for me to be reminded to-day, as we speak of Canberra, of the beauty that impressed me then, and I doubt very much whether that impression will ever be lost. But now, coming back to hard facts, as a representative of the people in this Parliament, I am in contact with the city much more regularly and a new aspect, quite apart from its beauty, impresses me. It is the significance of the city as the National Capital of the Commonwealth which impresses me more deeply than ever. As members of this chamber, we represent our States and carry the acknowledged responsibility to protect and help the electors whom we represent, but no member of this House can easily shrug off entirely the heavy responsibility of the administration and development of Canberra.

This, naturally, has been a costly place. lt has absorbed millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money over the years since it was first established. Of course, it will call for the expenditure of very much more, and I want to say in all sincerity, quite rightly so, for this is the National Capital of a young and vigorous nation. I am of the opinion that the maturity of a nation is not fully achieved until it establishes at a satisfactory level a seat of government in which the national life is centralized and true citizenship is stimulated. Just as London, Washington and Ottawa have grown to be recognized, not only as national centres for governmental purposes, but as significant places from which flow helpful contributions with respect to world affairs, so, in my opinion, Canberra must develop. What is more important, the city, in my opinion, will attract the head-quarters of organizations of commercial and professional bodies. We shall find that national churches, more and more, will be established here. Some denominations have already taken such action. Reference has been made during this debate to the suitability of this very building in future years for national and international conventions. Many such conventions have been held in Canberra already, and the demand will be greater as the years pass by. So, in my opinion, the Australian people must be encouraged to know Canberra in its correct perspective. It is apparent to me that many people, never having visited this place of beauty and importance, are quite unaware of the place that it should occupy in our thinking.

The Federal Government consequently must plan adequately for the future. This bill is designed to provide better planning for the future, and, talking of planning, I have been greatly impressed by these words uttered by Daniel Burnham of Washington -

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood. Make big plans. Aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram, once recorded, will never die, but, long after we are gone, will be a living thing asserting itself with ever-growing insistency.

Apparently the plans have not been big enough in the past. Fears have been allowed to intrude, and big plans, once conceived, have been reduced to very small dimensions. If we are to move forward with the establishment of this commission to build the National Capital as it should be built, we need a basic big plan, a plan that will so captivate us, irrespective of whether our responsibility be great or small, that we shall not allow it to be reduced as the years go by, bringing with them the difficulties and frustrations that others have faced in the past.

The Minister, when presenting the bill, rightly paid tribute to many individuals who served the country well with their talent and leadership in other years. I am pleased, too, that he has referred to the 1955 report of the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra, which he has described as a monumental piece of work. It has not been my privilege to read every word of that report, but I am indeed impressed with the research in which the members of that committee engaged. It is my view that the bill before us now may not have reached this House for some considerable time had it not been for the helpful research undertaken and the stimulating challenge to action presented by that Senate committee.

I have referred to my initial contact with Canberra in 1947. That has given me the opportunity to look back over the past ten years and see the development that has taken place in this city during the post-war period. Can we be satisfied with what has been done? In answering that question, I should like to refer again to the report of the Senate committee, to which I pay tribute.

The members of the committee draw attention to the fact that the Public Service Board, in its report for 1952, regretted the lack of progress in preparation for the intake of new public servants to the city. The board said that more than four years had passed, but it was impossible to begin the transfer of departments from Melbourne to Canberra. It said that the position was much as it had been before the great depression; that a planned policy, designed to provide office accommodation, housing and amenities was essential; and that it was necessary not only to prepare for the natural growth of Canberra, but also for its expansion. The board recommended that the Government should reaffirm its determination to make Canberra the centre of federal administration, and should act accordingly. The report for the next year indicated- that the demand for housing and amenities continued to outstrip the supply.

It was apparent, at that stage, that coordination in planning for the development of this city was lacking. Administrative building accommodation without adequate housing surely is not sound planning, and that is the situation as we see it to-day. Many of the people who gave evidence before the Senate committee stressed the fact that engineering research must precede major town planning, but it has been apparent again and again over the years that this engineering research upon which to build has not been available. For that reason, improved planning is the very objective of this bill, which seeks to establish a commission whose duty it will be to see that development goes forward on a planned basis.

As other speakers have emphasized, the commission will work through an appointed commissioner who will have two associates. Much has been said about the task to be carried out by these men, particularly the commissioner. Let us be clear in our minds about this. We must realize that if we want a top quality man, as we do, this will be another highly paid Public Service position, but the appointee will need to bring to his appointment the qualifications for which the country asks and, therefore, he will be worthy of his h>“». irrespective of the cost.

I am pleased that the bm maKes provision that the commission shall have available to it the departmental services which have been associated with the development of Canberra in recent years. 1 refer to the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior, both of which, naturally, have within them men who have been closely allied with what has gone on. It is only natural economy that the services of the officers and the equipment of those departments should be available to the commission when called upon. It is to be noted, however, that freedom is given to the commission to engage private enterprise for specific tasks. That is in line with my thinking, which is liberal thinking, for it emphasizes the economy that private enterprise can so often demonstrate - economy and efficiency which are not available to a government organization. 1 am pleased that this freedom is given to the commission.

Unification of all activities is also provided for in the bill. This will be a truly developmental commission, in that, when a task has been completed, the land and property will be transferred back to the relevant department. The commission is not building for the future as an established administrative body. I emphasize, also, that the Government, having approved of any particular five-year programme to meet present requirements in Canberra, the new commission, when organized and established, will face immediately the problems of housing and public utilities in this place. Wide powers have been given to the commission, but it will be noted, I am sure with confidence, that adequate ministerial and parliamentary control has also been set up under the proposed legislation.

Several speakers have dealt with the financial provisions of the bill. Finance for the work of the commission is to be provided by annual appropriation. Again, I come as a contributor to the debate with some convictions about the established system of government finance for works of this kind. There seems to me to be a fear about breaking away from established custom. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) referred to his contact with this very problem of appropriation of funds for works as he has travelled in parliamentary delegations to one place or another. To some extent, I have had similar experiences, and I am not at all convinced that the annual appropriation system is essential to keep under close scrutiny the operations of the commission. The

Minister, in his second-reading speech, did not claim that that was the only means of maintaining close scrutiny, but he implied that, at least in his opinion, it was an aid. I want to affirm that budgeting for a full twelve months and budgeting beyond the period of twelve months often are adversely affected by annual appropriations.

What does the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Development of Canberra say on this matter? If we turn to paragraph 49, we find that back in 1921 a committee which was responsible at that stage for the development of Canberra set a target for the establishment of the Seat of Government. That target was for a threeyear period, covering expenditure of approximately £2,000,000. The report, in paragraph 50, states -

Notwithstanding the modesty of the programme it was not completed. The funds provided fell well below those asked for by the Committee - £200,000 for the first year, instead of £400,000, and £330,000 and £430,000 instead of £700,000 for each of the second and third years. As the funds were not allocated until after consideration of the estimates it was not known till comparatively late in the year what funds were available.

There is a section of the report which is headed “ Need for assured long-range finance “, and I propose to read short extracts from it. Paragraph 95 reads as follows: -

According to the evidence given by witnesses before the Committee, Governmental finance has been the major obstacle to Canberra’s construction. It was said that the system of annual appropriation delayed commencement of new projects and then caused a rush to spend money before the end of the financial year, resulting in unevenness and uncertainty in planning and in the uneconomical use of moneys . . .

Paragraph 96 is in the following terms: -

Witness after witness stressed that the first essential of any proposed development must be a guaranteed works programme with an assured allocation of funds over a period of years. Project budgeting, as it has been called, was advanced as the only satisfactory method of construction finance.

The committee expressed the opinion that the necessary finance should be assured, irrespective of changes in economic conditions. The report, in paragraph 106, states that this is doubtless what the chairman of the Public Service Board had in mind when, during the course of his evidence, he referred to fluctuations in the building construction output and said that it appeared to the board that the key to the position was for the authorities responsible for construction to have a clear authority for a high level of expenditure on a programme based over a period of years.

I wish to bring to the notice of the House the following recommendation of the committee: -

That the Authority-

That is, the commission now proposed - be guaranteed, by an appropriate provision in the enabling Act, sufficient finance to permit it to carry out a long-term balanced programme; and that the Treasurer be enabled to make advances to the Authority for the purposes of the Act.

Reference has been made to the Snowy Mountains authority and to the method of providing funds for it. I think we should recognize that the substantial funds advanced to the authority are made available without regard to the political complexion of the party in government, and that that has afforded the authority the opportunity to budget along the lines I have already suggested.

Another aspect of the bill which is of interest to us is the proposal to establish a national capital planning committee. Much has been said in support of the inclusion of leading members of the professions of architecture, engineering and town planning, and also leaders in the cultural arts. That proposal appeals to me greatly. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), who spoke a little earlier in the debate, seemed concerned about the advisability of having the commissioner as chairman of this planning committee. He felt that the commissioner, already having wide powers, would be, as it were, a oneman band and should not also be automatically chairman of the planning committee. I cannot agree with that attitude. In my opinion, it is the logical thing for the commissioner to have such close association with the planning committee. Such liaison appeals to me as being sound and necessary for effective planning over the years.

Another point that I would like to stress before I conclude my comments relates to the fact that the local population will not be represented on the planning committee. I am aware that other honorable members have touched on this matter. I suggest that the residents of Canberra must not be viewed as a race apart. Local government in this city should be provided at some time, and I do not approve of repeated delaying actions. What I say in this respect can hardly be challenged when we think of our democratic way of life, of which we are so proud. In this democracy of ours, local government is fundamental. The City of Canberra, as the National Capital, will always need to be heavily subsidized by the Commonwealth Government, but I stress that people may live in this city for a lifetime and it should be their privilege and responsibility to administer it as people in other communities in Australia are called upon to administer their cities. I therefore express the hope that the Government will not long delay the introduction of some satisfactory form of local government in the National Capital.

The Senate Committee on the Development of Canberra seemed to be very clear, after its research, on what should be done in this connexion. In its report, reference is made to “ future municipal bodies “, and it is recommended -

That there be established as Canberra’s development and circumstances warrant -

A Canberra Municipality for the City of Canberra, and

A Shire Council for the balance of the A.C.T. both bodies when constituted to be responsible to the Minister through the Canberra Authority. That these authorities have power to deal with such matters, at local Government authority level, as are delegated by the Minister from time to time.

Such a system might present considerable difficulties, but I believe that all problems, and particularly problems of this nature, exist only to be overcome.

The planning committee should approve and guide all building development. I trust that there will be no misunderstanding about the plans that may be envisaged by the service establishments at any stage, because, in my opinion, even the plans of such establishments should be submitted for approval to this National Capital Planning Committee. The various approaches, vistas and the skyline could be disfigured if a service authority were permitted to undertake projects without first obtaining the endorsement of the committee. I further hope that the section of the report of the Senate select committee which deals with the Royal Military College will receive the early attention of the commission when it is established, particularly the suggestion contained in paragraph 532 that the building of the new road should not be long deferred, and that the present road running through the college to the aerodrome should be closed to through traffic as soon as possible.

Perhaps I should add my own personal conviction about the early building of the new Parliament House, for this building in which I now speak has, throughout the years, been known, at least by those associated with it, as a temporary structure. To-day, as other speakers have said, it no longer adequately serves the needs of the Commonwealth Parliament. My recommendation is that, to provide for the heavy cost which naturally must be spread over a long period of years, early provision be made of £1,000,000 or more annually, so that funds may be built up without a terrific impact on the economy of the country and with a view to ensuring the erection of a magnificent structure which will stand as a memorial to the foresight of those responsible for the leadership of the nation. Sir Littleton Groom, who was Minister for Home Affairs in this country in 1920, has been described as a man who was inspired by a flaming zeal for the building of this city. Canberra was conceived as a beautiful city and some people claim that it is already beautiful. Others contend that it is growing more beautiful year by year as not only the trees and gardens grow but also as buildings and amenities are developed. Let us be sure that no obstacles are raised to prevent this development commission, of which we are speaking this afternoon, from making the National Capital, within a few years, symbolic of the initiative and vigour of our young and free country. We shall need more men with the same sort of flaming zeal for the building and development of Canberra as Sir Littleton Groom possessed. They will need to be men who will not be daunted by any criticism or frustration.

Port Adelaide

– I was very interested to listen to the second-reading speech on this bill by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) and also the contributions to the debate that have since been made by honorable ?members. I want to say, right at the corn.mencement, that I do not plead guilty to one charge that was made here yesterday - that honorable members know only the way from the aerodrome to this House or from the hotel where they stay to this House. There are few streets or areas in this capital city that I have not visited on many occasions, and I think that I am in a position to express an opinion on the development of Canberra. 1 wish to give some credit to those who have been responsible for the work that has been done here. I do not think that simply because government departments have been in control of Canberra things have been done that do not conform to the original conception of Canberra. I give credit to those concerned for many fine things they have done in this city. The number of visitors who come to Canberra annually provide evidence of the appreciation that is growing everywhere of Australia’s National Capital.

I am not very much concerned about the proposal embodied in the bill to create a commission. Many honorable members seem to think that merely by changing the captain of a ship we will have a different ship. I am not looking for miracles from the commission that is to be appointed. The Minister himself, who is in control of Canberra, will be the one most relieved at the passing of this measure. He will be able to pass on much of the responsibility to the commission. I am not altogether satisfied that what is proposed in the bill will give a tremendous impetus to the building of Canberra or will result in an immediate pushing forward with the growth of this city as many desire. I think that when the commission is appointed and sets to work it will find itself very much in the same position in which Ministers for the Interior in the past have found themselves when they have attempted to do such work.

I was interested last night in the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), the former Minister for the Interior, who was practically in charge of the development of Canberra for some time. I agree with him that the present Minister has been prepared to push forward because he has been imbued with that enthusiasm to which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) has just referred to plan on a big scale and to do something worth while. But, finally, it all comes back to a matter of finance. If any one is told that he can proceed with a job which will cost £10,000,000 or £40.000.000. no matter how long it takes, the first thing he has to find is the requisite money. What will his banker say about it? If an ordinary citizen wishes to build a far bigger home than the one in which he is living because he is not satisfied with a six-roomed house, and wants to have an acre of land surrounding his home, laid out in landscape gardens so that it will be a beautiful property, he has to go to his banker or a financier to get the wherewithal to meet the cost, unless he has the money in his pocket. Whoever is appointed as commissioner, or as assistant commissioners, will discover that the money will have to be found to pay for the work proposed.

The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) spoke about a yearly appropriation of funds. So long as the people of this Commonwealth have to be taxed yearly to provide revenue for the government I would say that we should stick to the yearly appropriation. If in any year it is found that the amount of revenue has fallen or that a bigger expenditure has been incurred by one section of the community than was expected, it will be far easier to make an adjustment on a yearly basis. That has been the experience in the past. In connexion with the development of Canberra we have had to cut our cloth, in many cases, according to the moneys that have been available for all purposes throughout the Commonwealth.

I am trying to consider this matter from a down-to-earth, practical point of view. I am trying to envisage what will be the practical results that will follow from the appointment of this commission. I think it was the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) who spoke about the commissioner as being a one-man band. As the representative of my constituency, I am not prepared to say to a one-man band in Canberra, “ You can do what you like with the revenues of this country “. If one man is responsible, he must be under strict supervision. The Minister may argue that the bill provides that by 1st March each year an estimate of expenditure for the following year must be prepared. That is a proper provision, and I take it that the Minister will be prepared to say to Cabinet whether that money should be made available for the purposes of the commission. Otherwise he would not be carrying out his job. Consequently, by 1st March each year an estimate of the funds necessary for the following year must come before the Minister. That will then be considered by other authorities, such as the Treasury and other departments, to ascertain whether the proposed expenditure is warranted and whether the Treasurer is prepared to raise and allocate money for the purposes set down or whether the proposed expenditure should be curtailed. When I consider this aspect and recall what was said by the honorable member for Chisholm last night - that Ministers for the interior in the past, who had vision and tried to get things done, suddenly found the ground cut from under them - I feel that this commission may find itself in a similar position.

I do not know what the intentions of the Government are in respect of the buildings that are needed in this capital city. A proposal has been made to bring departmental officers from Melbourne and other places. Two or three years ago a statement was made that when the new administrative building was completed, various departments would be brought to Canberra anc! the result would be an increase in the population of Canberra of approximately 7,000. There would be also the people who would be needed as schoolteachers, shopkeepers and assistants, postmen and so on as well as the wives and children of the officers who were brought to Canberra. I understand that it is intended to bring about 1,100 officers here to administer the headquarters of the armed services. However, I do not think that they will occupy all the space available in the administrative building. I hope they will not; I should expect that that building would accommodate more than 1,100 officers. But when they are transferred to Canberra they will need housing. I do not know whether honorable members, generally, feel they have a responsibility to their own cities or constituencies and the people there. We find that we cannot get enough money from the revenues of the country to build sufficient houses for them.

I cannot understand the mentality of any honorable members who would suggest that absolute preference should be given to housing in Canberra. We must make Canberra a good place in which to live, and a worthy national capital. I want to see Canberra improved appropriately. At the same time, I will not criticize the Government because there are a number of persons waiting for houses in Canberra. I would not suggest “.hai the Government should build houses in Canberra at the expense of communities “:n my own electorate and in other places throughout Australia. It is very easy to look at these matters only on the surface, and I think we should avoid that when we are considering what is to be done in Canberra.

Another question concerns the new parliament house. Will proposals for new buildings in Canberra of that character be referred to the Public Works Committee, or will they be considered only by the new National Capital Development Commission?

Mr Fairhall:

– They will go before the Public Works Committee.


– So far as I am aware, that is not stated in the bill. Authority is to be given to the new commission in connexion with works and buildings?

Mr Fairhall:

– This proposal does not detract from the Public Works Committee Act at all.


– I did not notice anything in the bill in that connexion, but I will not argue on legal matters. Will it be the prerogative of the new commission to decide what type of school will be erected if it is decided that one is necessary? Will it be the prerogative of the commission to decide whether a school is needed and where it should be built, or will it be the responsibility of the Government to decide that a school is needed and must be erected?

There is also a proposal to complete the National Library. Will the new commission be asked to decide when the Library will be built and what priority it will have? I should like to know what the position will be in connexion with all such public works. It is all very well to say that the Government has fallen down on the proposal to build these places and that we will set up a commission for the purpose, but will we leave these matters entirely to the discretion of the commission?

Let us suppose that there is to be a big expansion of housing in Canberra. Will the commission have the sole right to say where the houses will be built? I know that such a body will be bound by the Canberra plan and will not be able to depart from it materially, but I should like to have its *rights defined. An honorable member spoke about a proposal to build a national church in Canberra. Will the commission have the right to say to those who want to build a national church where the church will be erected and whether it approves of the plan for the church, or will the persons interested go to the Minister or to the Government?

I might be wrong, but from my reading of the bill, I am a little afraid that we might get away from parliamentary control of government departments, and that we might be giving too much power to a small body. I am not opposing the bill in any way. It has been submitted by the Minister for the Interior on a decision by the Government following a detailed inquiry by a Senate committee which inquired into the development of Canberra. I am merely putting forward some questions on matters I should like to have clarified by the Minister.

I have referred, previously, to annual appropriations. This matter has been investigated by the Public Accounts Committee, of which I am a member. It has been trying to determine whether there should be annual appropriations or trust funds for departmental expenditure. The Public Accounts Committee has listened carefully to the opinions of highly efficient officers who are well fitted to give advice, but the more we inquire into some of these matters, the more complex they become. In one case, it is thought to be beneficial to work through a trust account and not on the basis of an annual appropriation, but such an arrangement would not be satisfactory in other cases.

The question also arises of the control of national revenue and expenditure by the Parliament. Some members of the Public Accounts Committee feel strongly that the public purse should be controlled by the Parliament, but that control would be weakened by a departure from the system of annual appropriations. I know that honorable members, generally, would find it almost impossible to examine all the accounts that come before us, and to maintain parliamentary control over them as they desire. In fact, the Public Accounts Committee was set up for that reason. With the great number of members in the Parliament, and the wide diffusion of expenditure among departments, it was found necessary to appoint a committee of the Parliament to look into these matters and report to the Parliament when it thought some action was necessary. The inquiries of the Public Accounts Committee have shown the need for control by the Parliament over national funds, and I wonder whether some honorable members realize how easily they could weaken the direct control of the Parliament over the revenue that is collected from the people of Australia.

In those circumstances, I do not want to debate the bill generally. I do not want to go into the question of an advisory committee on town planning in Canberra, because I know that an advisory committee has been doing that work efficiently. If the Minister is satisfied that he can appoint another committee to carry out that work adequately, I am quite happy about the relevant provisions in the bill. How that control should be exercised is really a matter of Government policy. I hope, however, that the Minister will clarify some matters on which I have expressed doubts. I approve of the ministerial control as set out in the bill, and hope that the commissioner who is to be appointed will do the work efficiently.

Mention was made of the brickworks at Canberra, its output and what was done with the bricks. The same results can be seen in both government and private enterprise. Some of our biggest industries simply throw money away. Private enterprises frequently employ men on Sundays and on Saturday afternoons at penalty rates, passing the extra cost on to the public by increasing the price of the manufactured article, when much of that extra cost could be saved by efficient management. 1 do not subscribe to the view, therefore, that private enterprise is invariably more efficient than government undertakings. I visited Darwin recently, as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, and I was most impressed by the work being done there by a government department. I saw work in progress on the construction of a new airstrip at the Darwin airport by members of the Royal Australian Air Force, who, of course, receive no penalty rates for working on Sundays. It was a real pleasure to see the way in which those men were prepared to work. No private enterprise could do the job better than those men did it. Let us not believe that a job done by a government department must necessarily be more costly than a similar job done by private enterprise. Much depends on the man in charge of the job, and very often on the ministerial control of the work.

Although I have been in Canberra for lily about eleven years, I have formed a great liking for it and for what has been accomplished here. Many complaints have been made regarding the buildings that have been erected in Canberra, but when we consider what has been done in other cities, the comparison is very much in favour of Canberra. I know that many complaintsare justified, including one that was referred to by the honorable member for Chisholm: (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). I refer to 8. number of homes that were constructed at Narrabundah Heights. I believe that the sub-division of that section and the placing of the houses on particular allotments show very poor planning, and in the years to come people will ask why those houses were constructed in this fashion and on such small allotments. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Chisholm say last night that he believed this mistake would not be repeated, and ! sincerely hope that it will not.

I wish to say a few words about the way in which the City of Canberra is spreading out. I think this matter was also referred to by the honorable member for Chisholm. The city is now very widespread, and those who are earning the lowest wages and can least afford to pay fares are the ones who live at the greatest distance from their work. Transport costs, not only in Canberra but also in other cities, are adding very greatly to living costs. Although I believe that a family man should have his own home unit, with his own grounds around it, I suggest that we must consider building more flats. I know that many large blocks of flats have been built in the neighbourhood of Civic Centre. Although I have not been inside those flats, I understand that many people are very proud of them. Flats are not suitable for a couple who have young children, but many older people in our community to-day would be far better off in a good three-roomed flat than in the homes that they bought 30 or 40 years ago. Many of these people have now reached the age when they cannot keep those houses in repair. They live on superannuation payments, and because they have nol sufficient money to look after their houses properly, the houses are falling into disrepair. If we look around the older portions of our cities we see old weatherboard and brick houses that “ Mum and Dud “ built 40-odd years ago. They still cling to those houses, but when you ask them, “What about painting the house?” they say, “ We have only our pension and cannot afford to paint the house “. Then they worry about the condition of the place.

Some honorable members have from time to time argued that houses should be built only for sale, not for letting, but I believe that governmental or semi-governmental instrumentalities in every State should construct suitable small homes for these older people. While listening to the radio to-day I heard that the Minister for Housing in Sydney has said that his government intends to spend a limited amount of money in providing small flats for pensioners. Recently I spoke to one of our housing authorities in Adelaide about the same question. He said, “ We have a group of those flats, in single-story buildings, and we are losing money on them “. I know that they are not returning an economic rental, but the people occupying them are much more suitably housed than they were previously. I suggest that when future building plans are being made for Canberra we should remember that we owe a big debt, which we will never be able to pay, to the old people in the community for what they have done through the years. When we are making our building plans, let us keep in mind the rights of these people, and do something for them. Will the proposed commission have the power to decide to build houses for old people and charge less than an economic rental for them? If so, where will the money come from? Or will such a. decision be made by the Government? When the Government delegates its responsibility to an outside or semi-governmental authority, it must ensure that adequate provisions are made for all sections of the community.

As I said at the beginning of my speech, T can see in this measure the handing over from the Minister to a commission of a good deal of responsibility. I can see also that certain functions which were previously exercised by an honorary National Capital Planning and Development Committee will be transferred to another com mittee. I cannot find anything in the measure to convince me that the proposed commission will do the job better than government departments have done it in the past.


.- This bill deals with the machinery for ensuring the proper planning and development of Canberra. The Minister for the Interior ( Mr. Fairhall), in his second-reading speech, stated that the purpose of the bill is to establish a powerful and competent cornmission, charged with responsibility for the planning, development and construction of Canberra. In common with other honorable members who have spoken in this debate, 1 have no objection to the purpose of the legislation. 1 am very much intrigued, however, by certain statements that have been made during this debate - first, by the constant attempts to compare Canberra with another national capital, Washington, and, secondly, by the suggestions that have been made, as they have been made previously, that the people of Australia owe much to the people of Canberra. They have made, and are continuing to make tremendous sacrifices to come and live in this place. Sir, I can find in the first place no reason for comparing Canberra with Washington as a national capital, nor can I find any sympathy for those who are compelled to live in Canberra.

Mr Curtin:

– Why?


– I say I can find no sympathy. Rather do I envy them the conditions under which they live. First, let me deal with the comparison that has been made between Washington and Canberra. Much has been said of the desire to build a national capital. What should a national capital comprise? We do not judge a national capital purely on the bricks and cement and the paths and the bridges that are in it. A capital is surely something which conveys more than mere beauty.

The whole debate so far on this bill has dealt with the city beautiful. Washington, I claim, has the right to concentrate its attention on the construction of a city beautiful primarily for this reason: The basis of government in the United States of America is entirely different from that in Australia. America is - I am quite sure the Americans are grateful for this fact, and I am equally sure that we are at times envious of them - a country of free enterprise. It has not got a system of government with a responsible Ministry such as we have; America has a different system entirely. The result is that in America those who are responsible for decisions made in the national capital are people who are appointed heads of departments with complete responsibility to administer them and who are drawn from the people themselves. They become the permanent heads of the departments. They are the persons who have had a close association throughout their lives with the rest of the people, and the decisions which they make are decisions which affect the people throughout the nation.

While the United States is still a country of free enterprise, the impact of the decisions of Washington upon the people of America is nowhere near the impact of the decisions made by the people of Canberra on the people of Australia. We in this country are under a system of government that is subject to all the advice, direction and what-have-you of a civil service system, which is largely in control of the country - a civil service system in which the heads of the service are people who know nothing else than the administration of government departments. They have grown up in the protection of that system, and here in our National Capital we are building up a system under which such persons are growing up to an even greater degree in the protection of this system which denies to them contact with the common mob - the people outside.

Mr Curtin:

– Just like an Australian Country party politician!


– It is a pity that more of the Australian Country party outlook is not in existence in Canberra. If it were, there would be a far greater understanding of the fundamental problems of this country. It is an even greater pity that the honorable member himself does not care to enlarge his own mental capacity and become acquainted with some of the problems of the country. If he were to do so, he would be able to speak far more intelligently in this place.

Canberra is not a city which is seeking beauty; it is a city seeking a soul. That is its biggest problem. It should be a capital which epitomizes the Australian spirit, the spirit of private individual initiative, private enterprise, the spirit of sacrifice in search of an ideal, the Australian way of life. We want to build here a city which will indicate to the rest of the world how Australia came to be built; and it was not built by people living in a city beautiful surrounded by hills and kept exclusive front the economic problems of the rest of the country upon which those persons depend for their living. That is the need of Canberra.

This bill deals purely with the mechanics of developing a city beautiful; it does not go to the extent of providing the Canberra people with the opportunity of building a city with a soul. That can come only by giving to the people of Canberra what the rest of the people of Australia have accepted willingly for themselves - a sense of personal responsibility for their own welfare. That has been the secret of the success of Australia hitherto. That is what is needed here.

The question of an annual appropriation has been repeatedly referred to on both sides of the House. It has been suggested that Canberra will not succeed if its planning is limited by an annual appropriation, and that there should be a guaranteed regular annual income. Sir, that is the very thing which would kill any soul which the people of Canberra cared to create and to put into the place. Anything to be of value must have cost something. The greater the sacrifice that has been made, the greater the value we attach to whatever it may be.

To what extent the people of Canberra value the benefits that they exclusively enjoy I do not know; but I am certain that because the cost to them individually and personally has been so little - in most cases nothing whatsoever - those benefits are not appreciated as they should be. I do not say that the people would not appreciate them if they were given the opportunity to do so; I believe that they would appreciate them. From the conversations I have had with the people of Canberra, I am sure that they are eager to assume responsibility for their own welfare. They are as good Australians as the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) who is still interjecting. They are quite prepared to accept their responsibilities, and they are quite prepared to pay for and to provide themselves within reason with the things they believe they need.

I have been a ratepayer for 30 years in a town in Western Australia, and I have not yet got a footpath outside my property. The schools, the hospitals, the halls, the roads and whatever else we have in that place have been provided out of resources which came from the community, with a small degree of government subsidy. The reverse position exists in Canberra. The result is that the things that I have provided for myself are of enormous value to me. We fight and we battle to get a little more and to make progress from day to day.

Mr Curtin:

– Is that why the honorable member is here?


– The honorable member gets money from here which he does not earn.

Mr Curtin:

– Do not tell my constituents that.


– My word I will! The soul that I want to see manifest in Canberra is not the soul of the honorable member. I want this Government to provide for the people of Canberra an opportunity to live as the people in the rest of Australia live. I am not unmindful of the fact that many people in Canberra, including civil servants, were previously resident in other parts of Australia, where they participated in the local affairs of the community and assisted in providing the things that they value. I believe that when they are compelled, as they are undoubtedly compelled, to live in Canberra, they would be willing to shoulder responsibility in this community to the same degree as they have done elsewhere, if they were given the opportunity. Such responsibility would compel them to rely, as the residents of other parts of Australia rely, on varied economic conditions for what they had and for the manner in which they lived. They would be compelled to cut their coat according to the measure of their cloth and would recognize drought and pestilence and appreciate prosperity. That is the condition which would give Canberra a soul.

If I were to bring people from my electorate in Western Australia to Canberra and point out to them only the city beautiful, I would create in their minds envy and a doubt about the capacity of people who live in such luxurious circumstances to understand the needs of others. I want to bring people from my electorate to the Canberra where tremendously important decisions in this bureaucratically run country are made - decisions which are of far more import to the everyday life of the individual than decisions made in any other part of the country - and be able to say, “ These are the people upon whose advice governments act and who provide the material upon which decisions are made. Here are the conditions under which they live. These conditions are the same as those enjoyed by you and me. These people are in common touch with the people of the rest of Australia, not merely by means of reports and statistics, but because they enjoy the same circumstances and living conditions, and thus have an understanding and a sympathy for the people whose destinies they are guiding “. That is what 1 want to see in Canberra. It can be done by giving to the people of Canberra no less a degree of responsibility in the management of their affairs than is given to people who live in other parts.

I commend the Minister on this piece of mechanical advancement for Canberra; but let us not talk about building a beautiful capital city without recognizing the need to build a place which epitomizes the spirit on which this nation was built - the spirit of self-sacrifice, determination and enterprise. This is where the spirit of Australia centres; not in bricks and mortar, in the archives of our libraries, or in our museums, but in the way in which the people live. The people of Canberra should be able to say, “ This we achieved through our own combined and individual efforts. It cost us much in time, money and effort, but this is what we did for our benefit and for the benefit of Australia “. If we can imbue Canberra people with that spirit, we will build a national capital of which we can be proud, and will encourage Australians to spend as much time in Canberra as they can. We will gain inspiration to build a better nation and will not be fearful that every time we return to our electorates some one will tell us that the people of Canberra are without responsibility and have only to open their mouths and the Government gives them what they want. I support the bill. I hope that it is only the first step and that this is the mechanical process of building the Canberra that we want - a city with a real soul.


.- I agree with the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), when he deprecates the practice adopted by the Government of rushing bills through the House in one day or so. That seems to be a trend which has developed lately. Just before the House adjourned, at the end of the last sittings, the Norfolk Island Bill, which dealt with matters that had not been discussed in this House for twenty years, was passed through all stages in one day. This bill was introduced yesterday, and the secondreading debate continued immediately. It deals with an important subject, which has not been considered for many years. Honorable members should be given more time in which to study the measure and consider their attitude towards it. Ministers have an advantage because all the facts are before them and they have their advisers to help them.

An entirely new approach to the type of city required for the National Capital is needed. The National Capital was primarily intended as a legislative and administrative centre, and when it was established, various matters had to be considered. As far as possible, it had to be in a central position and weight had to be given to the defence requirements of the day; it had to be away from the seaboard. State jealousies and vested interests retarded federation. New South Wales, the mother State, opposed federation for some time. A former Prime Minister and Premier of that State, after whom the electorate I have the honour to represent was named, was known as “ YesNo Reid “ because of his change of attitude from time to time on the question of federation. Ultimately, a compromise was reached. The capital was to be established in the area in which it now is. Even so. its establishment was retarded for 27 years because of the influence of Melbourne, of big business interests, of the administration, and even of parliamentarians. It was only because of the determination of a small group of parliamentarians in the early days that the first step towards the establishment of the capital at Canberra was taken. As the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) pointed out, there are still influences against the final changeover to Canberra. Apparently, Melbourne has not yet recovered from the shock it received when it learned that the capital was to be moved to Canberra.

The establishment of the capital in Canberra, in 1927, was facilitated to some extent by a by-election, in 1926, for the electorate of Eden-Monaro, which surrounds the Australian Capital Territory. I was a candidate for the Labour party on that occasion. There was much hostility at that time at the Government’s apparent lack of sincerity about bringing the capital to Canberra. The issue was brought into that election campaign and had the effect of bringing the Prime Minister of the day, who was, by a strange coincidence, called Stanley Melbourne Bruce, to the electorate. He announced that Parliament would be moved to Canberra within twelve months. So, the by-election helped to establish the capital, in 1927.

The complete changeover was still retarded for various reasons. The attitude of those engaged in the administration who are at present living in Melbourne and other capital cities is understandable. Naturally, they are concerned at the prospect of having to uproot their homes and families and overcome the limited opportunities for careers that offer in Canberra. With inter-continental ballistic missiles, siting considerations no longer apply, for a matter of 1 00 miles is neither here nor there - merely another few minutes in the flight of the missile. Clearly, it does not matter whether the capital is inland or near the seaboard.

Accessibility, another factor which previously retarded the development of Canberra, is no longer of any importance. In the early days honorable members had to travel to Canberra by train - often all night and all day as well. Now we can come here in 40 minutes from Sydney by aircraft.

Broadcasting also has brought us nearer to the people. Indeed, with the advent of television, we may be brought too close - unless, of course, a beauty parlour, or makeup room is established nearby. However, our physical separation from the great centres of population does create an air of unreality, and a failure to understand the everyday problems of the people. I agree with much that was said by the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie). We have to give Canberra a soul. We must consider how Parliament and the administration can be brought closer to the problems of the people. Perhaps if Mohammed will not come to the mountain the mountain must go to Mohammed. I can understand the practical difficulties experienced by Western Australians who wish to visit Canberra. Perhaps we should become a perambulating parliament, and move from place to place. It would certainly be appropriate during the winter months.

At present Canberra is merely a bush capital, to which only tourists have access. We are an object of curiosity to visiting school children and others, but students of political economy, who reside mainly in the other capital cities, cannot afford either the time or the expense to come here to examine the conditions under which we operate and apply ourselves to the problems of the nation. After all, this is mainly a debating chamber - a talking shop. As the honorable member for Moore has quite frankly admitted, the real business of Parliament is done by the civil servant - the administrator.

Perhaps it would be more fitting if, from time to time, Parliament visited some of the other capitals, took over the city halls and conducted its debates there. It would at least give us a much more alive audience and a closer contact with, and better understanding of, the problems and opinions of the people. We could keep our ear much more closely to the ground and would not have to learn what the people were thinking through the indirect method of hearing what is being muttered in the clubs and pubs. There would certainly be a more realistic atmosphere in which to conduct our business. Even a few interjections from the audience might not go amiss, and perhaps we should not be so pampered and protected by the Standing Orders and the power of Mr. Speaker. The people would become more civic-minded and better understand the problems which face their representatives.

There is an even more potent reason for making a new approach to the development of this capital. Since federation Australia has become a great industrial nation. A bush capital is incongruous, for there should be close contact between the administration and the industrial life of the community. It might have been better if the National

Capital had been established nearer one of the State capitals, or on the seaboard in some such place as Jervis Bay or Twofold. Bay, where industries could have been readily set up. Perhaps it is too late to change the site, but we can at least change the present unsatisfactory position.

We are not precluded by the Constitution from establishing industries in and around: the capital. Under it Parliament is given exclusive power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to the seat of government of the Commonwealth. There is nothing to prevent the capital from becoming not only an administrative and legislative centre but also an industrial and residential city. I urge the Government to ensure that the proposed commissioner looks into the question of establishing industries that will serve not only Canberra but also the Australian community generally.

One of our greatest needs is decentralization. Four-fifths of our population is to be found in the six capital cities, which are so over-crowded and congested that traffic everywhere is becoming chaotic. This is a menace to the industrial and economic life of the community, and an even greater threat to our defence. Half a dozen atomic bombs, if dropped on our capital cities, would for all practical purposes knock. Australia out of a war. The present overconcentration of population in our cities results in many workers having to travel two or three hours both to and from work. This undermines their efficiency and lowers the productivity of the community generally. Canberra could show the way and provide proof that the Government is sincere in advocating de-centralization to which, incidentally, all parties are committed. It could establish model satellite industrial and residential suburbs around Canberra. If these spread into New South Wales I have no doubt that the Government of that State would co-operate.

The honorable member for Chisholm pointed out the nearness of Canberra to the Snowy River hydro-electricity undertaking - a source of very cheap power. Canberra should be one of the first cities to benefit from that scheme and from the additional irrigation that it will make possible. It has been estimated that food to the value of £25,000,000 will be produced in these newly irrigated areas, and the establishment of a modern industrial centre near Canberra would create a local market for this produce. Canberra’s healthy, vigorous climate would prove congenial to workers in industry and would doubtless contribute to greater efficiency and production. It was once considered that major cities should be adjacent to the principal ports, but town planners no longer hold this view. Indeed, the establishment of industries at Canberra would open up the ports of Jervis Bay and Twofold Bay and the areas which surround them.

More important still is a field for the employment of young people. This is a matter that the honorable member for Moore mentioned. Canberra now has a population of some 35,000, and it has one of the highest birth-rates in the world. Apparently, there is something in the air in Canberra, or perhaps there is not much else to do. Parents desire their children to remain at home and prefer not to send them to schools in far distant places, even if they can afford it. No doubt, many of them could not afford it. The result is that the main field of employment for young people in this National Capital is the Public Service, for which some people may not be suited. Every one has a particular aptitude, and the direction of young people into Public Service employment for which they may not be suited merely creates odd lots, and a restriction of employment opportunities, which must have an effect on the administration generally.

Such a narrow field of employment tends to establish hierarchy, and a super bureaucracy, based on a class of people apart from, and above, other sections of the community and lacking understanding of the problems and needs of the people as a whole. Also it favours privileged sections of the community such as big business, which can employ lobbyists to come here and work on behalf of their particular interests, or even establish head-quarters in Canberra, as some organizations have already done. Those privileged sections have an unfair advantage over others such as workers and pensioners. These things create among all sections of the community the feeling of hostility towards Canberra that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) and other honorable members mentioned. This is inimical to harmony and to the progress of the country generally, and could lead to a lack of appreciation of the government of the day and the elected representatives of the people. 1 trust that the proposed commission will be clothed with the necessary authority to investigate the problems of the development of Canberra and make recommendations in the way that other honorable members and I have outlined, and that the Government will give it encouragement and support in this task. I trust, also, that citizens, industrialists, and trade unions, will be represented on the proposed National Capital Planning Committee. It is all very well to establish a beautiful capital city here in a salubrious climate, and to provide all the amenities required by the resident administrators, and parliamentarians. But that is not enough. It is more essential that this National Capital should be administered by the right kind of people with the necessary qualifications and an understanding of the Australian people and the Australian way of life. These administrators should be properly trained in administrative skills, not just by academic study, but by practical experience, and they should have a wealth of knowledge acquired by contact with people in all walks of life.

The need for a new Parliament House has been mentioned. No doubt this building has served its purpose well, but it is now out of date, and the accommodation available in it is insufficient for present needs. I support those who advocate the planning now of a permanent Parliament House to meet not only present, but also future, needs. In considering this matter, we should take account of the need to protect vital records in time of war. If a new building were constructed on the proposed site on Capital Hill, ample provision could be made for underground vaults in which to store and preserve vital records in the form of either duplicates or photostat copies. In the dire event of war, this capital would no doubt be a target for attack, and if vital official records were destroyed, chaos and dislocation of government administration could result. If such records were preserved in a safe place, the government of the country could continue with a minimum of dislocation, except in the extraordinary event of the administrators being wiped out.

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

15.20] - in reply. - I should like to take this opportunity to thank honorable members on both sides of the House for their contributions to this debate, and for the expressions of goodwill with which the introduction of this bill has been met. I thank honorable members, also, for the many suggestions that have been made. Although some honorable members may be critical, there is a general appreciation that this measure has been introduced in an effort to eliminate mistakes which previously have marred the exercise of developing the National Capital. I applaud the upsurge of interest and enthusiasm for the development of a more adequate national capital, which has culminated in the last two days in the hope that something will be done. We should not be apologetic about what has not been done, Mr. Speaker. Rather, we should be appreciative of what has been done, because, over the last 30 years, we have transformed a sheep paddock into a quite worthy national capital. As honorable members on both sides of the House have pointed out, the population of this city has doubled in the last eight years. There lias been reasonable, but certainly not adequate, provision of housing and amenities for the increasing population. Of course, a number of mistakes has been made, and the proposed National Capital Development Commission- is to be established in an effort to remove the causes of those errors.

We in this country are motivated by a sense of divine discontent; we want to do better. Washington has been mentioned repeatedly in this debate. It is rather interesting to note, that, up to this point, our history shows that the development of Canberra has certainly been much, more progressive than that of the capital of the United States of America. We took a sheep paddock for the site of our National Capital; the United States took a swamp as the site for the construction of its national capital. When Washington was originally laid out, Pennsylvania-avenue, which links the site of the Capitol with the site of the White House, was nothing but a swamp. It had to be corduroyed before it could take traffic, lt developed firs! as a footpath, and then became a road. To-day, it is a magnificent avenue in one of the best developed capitals in the world. It is interesting to note, also, that, when the great Charles Dickens visited Washington in 1842, he commented that Washington’s spacious avenues “ began in nothing and went nowhere “.’ That comment made in American context is similar to the statement made in this debate yesterday that “ Canberra consists of two suburbs looking for a city “.

We must take the view that this is a developing National Capital. We cannot get overnight everything that we want. When we feel inclined to criticize the rate at which our National Capital is being developed we might perhaps take note of the fact that the corner-stone of the Capitol in Washington was laid by President George Washington in 1793. The Statue of Freedom which adorns the top of the Capitol dome was not erected, and the building was not occupied, until 1863 - 70 years later. We in this country are doing a good deal better than that. Another point that we should bear in mind is that Washington has had something like 160 years in which to develop, to grow old, and to mellow, whereas we have still only 30 years of construction behind us, and are virtually only beginning. To-day, Washington is the mecca of an intensely nationalistic America. It is not an exaggeration to say that, with the growth of tourist traffic to this area, Canberra is attaining a similar place in the national affections of Australia. It is the very growth of Canberra in this way that has made it necessary to introduce this scheme of development under a commission.

It has been pointed out that certain errors have been made in the development of this city. There were certain deficiencies in the original Burley Griffin plan. When it was prepared, no one was able to foresee the growth and development of automobile traffic, for instance. There is a grave danger of building into Canberra the faults which are now becoming apparent. Therefore, we must have more adequate machinery for a review of the town plan. I think I should point out, sir, that once we have provided the sort of machinery that is envisaged in this bill, and attracted to the National Capital the attention of the people of Australia, and the more interested attention of the members of both Houses of the Parliament, any necessary modifications to the gazetted plan of Canberra will hardly be allowed to pass unnoticed. In my view, there is no need to strengthen the provisions contained in this bill, which are also in the Seat of Government Act, requiring that no amendment shall be made to the gazetted plan of Canberra without both Houses of the Parliament having an opportunity to know of it, to criticize it and, if necessary, to disallow it.

I shall now deal briefly with two or three points of criticism which have been raised. Perhaps they were not so much points of criticism as questions about the machinery for operating this commission. A good deal of reference has been made to the question of annual appropriations. 1 think we could not have done better than listen to the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) this afternoon when he drew attention to the urgent need to ensure that the Parliament will not lose control of the financial affairs of government. However pleased a Minister for the Interior or his department might be at having guaranteed finance for a considerable period ahead to carry out this developmental work, nothing alters the fact that it would be completely inconsistent with Australian methods, or even with general methods, of public finance that there should be that sort of long-range provision. I .am satisfied in my own mind that those who seek long-range financial provision really are seeking an assurance that the Government has accepted the commitment involved in the development of Canberra. When we look at the multiplicity of commitments which are- inherent in this measure, I suggest that the House could well be satisfied with annual appropriations. I point out that the Government has accepted the commitment involved in the five-year developmental scheme, a scheme which is based on the transfer of such a big section of the defence services to Canberra. The people to be transferred have been put on notice, the building to accommodate them administratively is almost ready and their houses are already in the course of construction. The fact that this move has now gone beyond the point of reversal establishes a commitment at least until the end of 1959. By that time, the very momentum of the developmental programme will constitute a commitment in itself, because we simply could not stop overnight the- sort of developmental machinery which will be involved here. Finally, of course, the establishment of this commission to undertake this job is a commitment. It is an outward sign of the Government’s appreciation that it has a long job ahead of it and is prepared to establish special machinery to carry out that job. It has been said that this is an unusual project and, therefore, ought to be provided with finance in an unusual way. If it is reasonable to make long-term financial provision for the development of Canberra, I see no reason why the same procedure should not be adopted for the whole of the Commonwealth works programme, which is developmental, but on a national rather than a city scale. There is the great developmental project in the Snowy Mountains, there is the work being undertaken by the Department of Supply, and so on. I suggest to the House for its consideration that if we were to make longterm financial provision for one of those activities, we should be obliged to provide it for all. Under those circumstances, the Government would lose control of such a big sector of the overall economy as to place itself in financial danger and to lose considerable control over the day-to-day movements of government affairs.

Some fear has been expressed that waste would be involved if, at the end of a financial year, the commission found that it had underspent its appropriation. I suggest that a prudent commission - the Government will not seek to set up any other - would have other projects, which form part of the long-term programme, planned to the point at which tenders could be called and work undertaken with reasonable promptitude, so that its budget provision would be absorbed. I do not think that we need concern ourselves very much about that matter. I believe that the amount of money available for Canberra must bear a reasonable relation to the rest of the Government’s financial commitments. Just as those commitments may vary upwards or downwards, depending on the general state of the economy, so I believe the Government must maintain the control implicit in annual appropriations.

Now I come to the question whether the commissioner should be the chairman of the planning committee which is to advise him. The present National Capital Planning, and Development Committee can approve, reject or suggest amendments to proposals which are put before it by the

Department of the Interior or the Department of Works, but the National Capital Planning Committee which we propose in this bill will stand in an entirely different relationship to the commission. It was suggested yesterday that with a committee of eight we might well have eight different opinions. I do not think that is a practical possibility. If it were, it could be suggested that in a House of this kind we could have 120 different opinions. We might begin with a number of different opinions, but debate would produce a unanimous or near-unanimous opinion. In the event of such a difference of opinion, the commissioner would be in a position to assess the weight to be given to the opinions which persist. He is the man who carries the responsibility for this task of development. I do not think we ought to lose sight of the fact that the functions of this commission are planning, development and construction. The commissioner has the responsibility for planning in the National Capital. It would be an odd circumstance indeed if we forcibly separated him from the machinery which is to provide the technical advice.

There was a second very important point to which the Government had regard when this proposal was developed. It is one thing, as some honorable members have pointed out in the House this afternoon, to develop a beautiful national capital, but this capital must be not only beautiful, but functional. It must be designed for the work of government. It must be designed physically with due regard to the administrative problems involved. The commission, having decided to go into a housing programme, may build houses of a certain value, but on the completion of the commission’s work, those houses have to be handed over for administration, which means the collection of rents, to the Department of the Interior. Consequently, the commission will be required to consider, not only whether any project il undertakes will be adequate to its task, but also whether that project will unduly complicate the administrative processes which must follow. That duty will devolve upon the commissioner. I visualize a situation where a project initiated by the Government - this will perhaps answer the question of the honorable member for Port Adelaide - and having been approved in the normal annual works programme will go to the commissioner for execution. The commissioner must have access to the planning committee, because that in fact is the planning machinery of the commission. It is in fact the commissioner’s right hand. I would not care to see a situation in which the commissioner could be arbitrarily or legally separated from the machinery which would do so much of the work for which he is to be responsible.

I come now to the question of local representation on this commission. I understand the concern that exists in this field. If we were setting up a policy body to operate in the political field of Canberra, to deal with local government questions, I would readily concede the desirability of having Canberra people democratically represented on what would be inevitably a democratic committee. But in this particular case we are setting up a technical body. We have gone to some pains, and will go to more pains, to see that there will be available on this commission the best technical brains that we can find for the tasks entrusted it. I think we have to decide whether we are going to have a technical committee, which is a specialist body, or a representative committee which may be in a position to contribute the most valuable ideas but which may also be in a position to confuse the consideration of technical matters involved.

I am bound to concur with the editorial published in to-day’s issue of the “ Canberra Times “, an excellent paper and one which I may say is always very vigilant in the interests of Canberra. To-day’s editorial states -

We do not believe that the National Capital Planning Committee should comprise any person who owes his place to the holding of an office or by right of election by popular vote.

That is a view with which I would invite the House to concur. We are setting up a special committee to develop the National Capital. It seems hardly likely to me that a responsible body of this kind would overlook or even could overlook the interests of those who live and work and have their future here in Canberra. The interests of the people of Canberra and the development of this National Capital cannot be mutually antagonistic. If the commission is to look after one it must necessarily look after the other.

In an undertaking of this kind, devoted to the development of the National Capital, the activities of the commission must be heavily weighted in the direction of the national interests. It is for that reason and for that reason only that additional finance is being made available to the commission for the construction of the National Capital. I do not think I need labour the point to local residents that they are deriving from the development of the National Capital tremendous benefit for which proportionately they pay only a token rate. I appreciate that they are paying the equivalent of local government rates, as do the citizens in every other town, but they are enjoying tremendous benefits and a tremendous flow of amenities which are not generally available in a city of this size. This, of course, is reflected in the problems mentioned by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) when he advocated the early development of local government. I am not opposed to that concept at all. In the course of time, local government must come to Canberra, but I suggest that we have a fairly full plate in relation to the development of Canberra, and I would be unhappy to see too many great changes of this kind being effected simultaneously. I would suggest to the people of Canberra who are concerned with this particular problem that ways still exist for them to express their views on the development of what is, in fact, their city. The Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council may still advise the Minister. The Minister retains control of the commission and its programme. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has never had any inhibitions about bringing forward in this House the grievances, imagined and otherwise, of the people of his constituency. Both of these channels remain open for the people of Canberra to express their views and to bring their pressure to bear on the commission.

I think sufficient has been said to cover these points. I do suggest to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, whose interest, I know, is to preserve the right of the people of this city to exert an influence on the development of their city, that the new commission has all the powers it needs to call upon local people, if necessary, to bring their wisdom to bear on the problems facing the commission.

Now, 1 would like to deal, briefly, with the question raised by the honorable membe; for Port Adelaide, because it seems to be of quite considerable importance. The honorable member raised the question as to what authority the commission would have to determine the priority of various public works here in the National Capital. There seems to be some misunderstanding on this point. References have been made to the airport building and the railway station. I would point out that these activities remain under the control of the Ministers who are responsible for those particular undertakings. Whether or not there is to be a new airport building does not lie with the Department of the Interior, nor with the Department of Public Works initially. It lies with the Department of Civil Aviation, in the same way that the building or extension of a hospital in Canberra is a matter primarily for the Department of Health.

Mr Thompson:

– Schools, also?


– Schools remain under the control of the Department of the Interior. When a school is required it will appear in the works programme developed by the Department of the Interior, to meet its administrative responsibility. Such projects will find their way into programmes according to the need envisaged by the departments which are responsible. When they get to the point of being included on a design list, a works programme approved by Cabinet, and ultimately by the House through an appropriation in the budget, then they become the concern of the commission. But the commission is concerned with planning, development and construction only.

I think I have covered most points raised in this debate. I appreciate the comments that have been made and I commend the bill to the House and ask for its support, because I believe that the machinery now to be established will go a very long way towards overcoming the difficulties of the past and will lend some speed to the wings of future development.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In committee:

Clauses 1 to 5 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 6 (Remuneration of Commissioner and Associate Commissioners).


– I would like to ask the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) whether he can give the House some indication of the remuneration and allowances likely to be paid to the commissioner and each associate commissioner. I know that the Minister cannot give that information accurately, but I ask for some indication, because on many occasions in the past when the Federal Government has established commissions of this nature - and I am thinking of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority in particular - the salaries and allowances paid to people in various positions have had a very unfortunate effect on salaries and allowances in all the State public services. For instance, believe it or not, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria is a very much bigger undertaking than the Snowy River project, both in the size of the work and the amount of capital that has been expended or is being expended. I was Minister for Electrical Undertakings in Victoria at the time the Snowy Mountains authority was founded and I know the effect that it had. Under another bill, which will be debated at a later stage, it is proposed to pay the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner a higher salary than the Deputy Commissioner of Railways in Victoria receives. The two jobs are not comparable. However, I do not wish to discuss that aspect any further at this stage.

We are dealing in this bill with a man who will be carrying out, in many respects, a job similar to that of a chairman of a State housing commission. All I want to ensure is that the Government does not do what has been done in the past and pay to the commissioner and associate commissioners in Canberra remunerations and allowances that are out of all proportion to those which are paid to the chairmen of housing commissions in the States who are spending much more money than is their federal counterpart.

The payment of remuneration to Commonwealth officers looms very largely in our vision because they are right before our eyes, but comparable jobs are being performed in the States as part of the daytoday routine of administration and nobody makes a song about them. I ask the Government, through the Minister, not to fix disproportionate remunerations and allowances as we have done in the past, particularly as the State Premiers come to Canberra and are lectured by us and told that they ought to economize in their respective administrations while we off-set such economies either by taking the best men from them or creating competition, which is most unfair both to the State administrations and to the individuals concerned.

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– I understand the concern which activates the honorable member for Chisholm. No scale of salaries or remuneration for the commissioner and the two associate commissioners has been fixed, but the amounts that are eventually fixed will have regard to the magnitude of the job, to the degree of responsibility involved, and will also bear some reasonable relation to those which are paid to comparable State officers. I am not able to express an opinion just now about what should be the limits of reasonable relationship, but I repeat that the salaries paid to these gentlemen will bear a reasonable relation to those paid to other men in comparable positions.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 7 agreed to.

Clause 8 (Termination of appointment).


– In a clause of this kind it is usual to include mental sickness as one of the grounds for termination of appointment. As I said earlier, I have not had sufficient time to look up the proper wording for such a provision. Honorable members have had almost no opportunity to draft amendments which they might care to place before the committee, and to circulate them. Therefore, I make no apology for not having the amendment already drafted and circulated to honorable members. Certainly in the States, and I think in certain federal acts, mental health is included as one of the reasons for termination of appointment.

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– The terms of this clause follow those of a similar clause in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act and which have found their way into other similar acts. The concern of the honorable member is answered by the following words in sub-clause (1.), section 8 -

The Governor-General may terminate the appointment of the Commissioner or an Associate Commissioner for inability . . .

Of course, “ inability “ would result from the circumstances mentioned.


– I much prefer the old form of drafting which specifically refers to mental illness, because I think very great legal difficulties would be involved in determining the matter unless a doctor’s certificate were available. I know of a few cases - I am glad to say they were very few - where it was necessary to insist upon a medical diagnosis being obtained.

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– I can only suggest again for the satisfaction of the honorable member that this provision has been looked at most carefully by the Crown Law authorities and is regarded as being quite adequate to cover any set of circumstances.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 9 and 10 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 1 1 (Functions of Commission).


– I ask the Minister for some information about the intention of the Administration with regard to the planning of the transfer of departments from other States to Canberra. It is proposed that the commission shall construct buildings, roads, bridges, works for the supply of water or electricity, sewerage or drainage works and other matters and things for, or incidental to, that purpose. The clause further provides that the functions of the commission shall not include the undertaking or carrying out of development or construction upon land owned by a person other than the Commonwealth. I think another clause will empower the Minister to refer other matters to the commission.

The transfer of departments is very closely related to such matters as the type and number of houses that will be required. It will be necessary to give notification of transfer to the people in Melbourne or Sydney who are to be transferred, and they must be given a certain period of time before moving to Canberra.

Probably it will also be necessary to deal with their houses if the owners are not able to sell them at a satisfactory price. All those matters form a very big part of the scheme, and I ask the Minister to inform me. in general terms, what he has in mind.

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– The original decision to transfer a department or part of a department will be a matter of Government policy. The provision of office accommodation, housing, schools and other services will become a problem for the commission; but the commission will have no function in deciding who are to come to Canberra, or when they are to come. It will merely have the task of making physical provision for the transfer.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes:

– It will not be responsible for the actual transfer?


– That will be a departmental matter; it will not concern the commission. The commission is to provide the facilities. The final task of moving departments to Canberra presumably will rest with the Department of the Interior or the department that is being transferred.


– When departments moved to Canberra initially, the movement of furniture and containers of furniture, which was a large operation, was handled by the original commission. That commission was really administering Canberra. I advise the Minister to look at the matter fully, because such a movement is outside the ordinary range of a department’s activities. The provision of houses and the movement of the departments will have to be integrated, and the transfer might be conducted very much more efficiently if the commission were to handle the actual transfer as well.

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– I point out to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and to the committee that, although it is true that the original commission handled the transfer of officers to Canberra, it was performing the administrative functions as well. The administrative functions performed by the original commission, as the honorable member knows only too well. are handled by the Department of the

Interior, which would be responsible for carrying out the move. The co-ordination which must exist between the commission, the Minister, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works will be brought into operation at that point.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 12 (Determination of policy).


– I should like to ask the Minister, as the man who knows more about policy matters than anybody else, how long he thinks it will be before the commission can get under way, and also how long he estimates B and C sections of the new administrative building are likely to remain finished and empty.

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– I think it would be impossible to make that estimate. I would be guessing on a rather wide front if I attempted to say how long it would be before the commission can begin its operations. The new administrative building is expected to be completed by the end of this year, speaking in general terms, and the move of the defence departments is timed to commence at the beginning of 1959.


– I should like to ask the Minister whether he envisages that at the stage when the commission is taking over from the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works there will be any hiatus in the development of Canberra. Is it proposed to absorb the staffs, as mentioned in the measure, and bring them together in one administrative body to ensure that there will be the smoothest possible continuation of work in the city?

Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works · Paterson · LP

– I would not believe that there would be any hiatus in the development programme. The commission will take over the responsibility, functions and control of the staffs of those sections of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works which are at present engaged on the developmental programme. As that is an administrative matter it will not, as I see it. interfere with the progress of construction.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 13 to 20 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 21 (Particulars of proposed expenditure).


– 1 wish only to congratulate the Minister - you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din - on the fact that the clause provides that the commission shall submit to the Minister particulars of proposed expenditure for each financial year and shall not expend any of its moneys except in accordance with particulars of proposed expenditure approved by the Minister. That will overcome one of the biggest handicaps former Ministers for the Interior had to fight against, because it means that in future the Minister and not the Treasury will approve expenditure. I compliment the Minister on his strength of character.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 22 to 24 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 25 (National Capital Planning Committee).


– I still have some misgivings about the provisions of this clause, although, I will admit, fewer misgivings than I had before I heard the Minister’s statement on it. The point that strikes me is that in paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of subclause (1.) specific qualifications are provided in relation to the personnel to be appointed to the National Capital Planning Committee. Two will be architects who will be possessed of certain qualifications, and the same applies to the two engineers and the two town planners. But, the provision in paragraph (e) in relation to the other persons on the committee is open to vague interpretation, as it must be. However, the Minister may, in his wisdom, feel that there is an opportunity to provide for some representation from the capital city itself. I point out to him that there is in this city a body of opinion available to the committee and the Government. We have in this community men of very high scholastic attainments, men of long residence in Canberra, and men of wide experience in all aspects of administration, planning and development. I believe that in that body of opinion there could be the personnel required to satisfy paragraph (e).

I still have some regrets that there is not to be a continuation of the system under which the chairman of the Public Works Committee and the chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council were, ex officio, members of the National Planning and Development Committee. I should like to have seen that form of representation continued. As it is not to be continued, I will be interested to see how the new system works. I hope it works well, and I trust that if it does not, the Minister will take steps to correct the position.


.- I wonder whether the Minister would consider appointing a woman to the committee to be established under this clause. I have a great respect for my wife’s judgment, as, no doubt, other honorable members have for the judgment of their wives.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 26 agreed to.

Clause 27 (Regulations).


– I think I am right in saying that all regulations have to be laid on the table of the House, and may be disallowed within fourteen days. That is provided for under the Acts Interpretation Act, so I have no objection to this clause. I wish to say, however, that I hope we will have no more of this ragtime procedure under which we have not had an opportunity to compare properly the powers to be vested in the proposed commission with those exercised by the previous commission. We cannot deal with bills properly when they are shot through in this way.

Clause agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.

Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.

page 151


Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) speaking without limitation of time on the motion to print the Agreement on Commerce between Australia and Japan.

page 151



Debate resumed from 27th August (vide page 24), on motion by Mr. McEwen -

That the following paper be printed: -

Agreement on Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan, signed on 6th July, 1957.

Leader of the Opposition · Barton

– We propose to ask the House to amend the motion of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). I move -

That the following words’ be added to the motion: - “ and this House expresses its disapproval of the Agreement on Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan “.

My colleague, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), will second the amendment.

This is an extraordinarily important agreement which, in effect, the House is asked to endorse. The Minister spoke on the matter on the evening of 27th August. I think it is fair to say that he spoke in a way which showed that he had had many changes of opinion, or, at any rate, that he had made many changes of the emphasis on certain parts of the speech prior to making it in the House. I propose to refer to it a little later. I shall not deal with it in great detail, but I shall refer to some of the leading points.

The fact is that for the first time in its history the textile industry of Australia is facing the problem of free, unrestricted imports of textiles from Japan, under arrangements which place Japan on the same competitive basis as other countries. That is Australia’s point of view. The right honorable gentleman did not refer to the position of the United Kingdom. Never before has the United Kingdom textile industry, which still trades with us, been faced with the possibility or probability of complete elimination from the Australian market. I do not think the people of Australia would approve of that. I doubt whether those persons who were responsible for negotiating this agreement for Australia contemplated the conditions which are now facing interested manufacturers and the great trade unions concerned in the production of Australian goods by Australians for the use of the Australian people.

There has been an enormous improvement in the efficiency of the textile industry in Japan since World War II. It ranks second only to that of the United States of America in volume. It was thought certain that the great monopolies and corporations that dominated the whole industrial, commercial and, to some extent, political life of Japan would no longer face the world in serried ranks after the war, but, in spite of all the undertakings and proposals, that is what they do to-day. There is no doubt that the Zaibatsu group, the Mitsubishi and the Mitsui groups have, in the textile industry, as in all other industries of Japan, resumed their old position, which was one of domination of Japan and desire to dominate to the greatest extent all the trade in the areas they can control or influence.

Products affected by the proposed agreement, to mention only a few, are rayon, which has a very important bearing upon British investment in this country, knitted goods, a wide range of clothing, piece goods, dress materials - wool, cotton and rayon - porcelain ware and insulators, glass bottles - especially in connexion with cosmetic sales - cutlery, silver ware, electroplate, optical frames and toys. There is too much of an inclination to treat the toy industry as of no account, but for many years groups of servicemen have operated important sections of the toy industry in this country, and it is an important industry from many points of view. Other products affected are electrical equipment, automotive parts and machinery. So we are concerned not merely with the textile industry but also with all those forms of trade that we have with Japan.

I want to refer first to the woollen and worsted industry. That industry to-day has no fewer than 164 mills in this country, employing just on 25,000 Australian men and women. The value of the goods produced by the industry is no less than £70,000,000 per annum. When one looks back to the threat to that industry which first occurred during the Prime Ministership of Mr. Scullin, when one considers the tremendous contribution to this country’s war effort by the textile industry, which provided the clothing for the service men and women, not only of Australia but of all the Allied forces serving in the Pacific, notably the forces of the United States of America, and when one considers the policy of the Labour Government under Mr. Chifley, one is forced to draw certain conclusions.

The Chifley Government, broadly speaking, sought to convert to peaceful uses those factories which had been engaged in munitions production. In the country towns of New South Wales and Victoria particularly, and in other States also, there have been social and economic changes because of the production of textiles. It is very important for country towns that there should be some opportunity of employment for the young people there. Many towns in New South Wales are declining visibly because of the absence of industry. The textile industry has played an important social and economic part in the life of Australia, particularly in the country towns. I hope that the Australian Country party, which, I suppose, favours the decentralization of industry about which so much is said, will look at this matter again and see the detrimental, disastrous effect that an agreement of this kind could well have upon those industries in the way I have tried to describe.

During the period of the war, the industry used 25 per cent, of the total Australian wool clip. I cannot give precise figures for the amount of the clip used in the production processes of the Australian industry, but in purchases of Australian wool it ranks fourth after the United Kingdom, Japan and France. So this industry is not a stranger to the important wool industry but one of the chief buyers of our wool, the figures being astronomical compared with what they were in the days when the industry was first established. The industry has been assisted by the Tariff Board’s recommendations for reasonable protection and it has reached a stage of high efficiency. Of course, there are certain things that it cannot do. One cannot achieve efficiency in Australian industry by means of low wages and sweated labour, but there has been efficiency in the industry, as the Tariff Board has reported from time to time. Only this year, after an inquiry lasting for two years or more, the Tariff Board reported in favour of further protection, but the Government turned down the proposal.

So when the Government comes to be judged on its treatment of the industry that is a fact which must be remembered. The most recent application of the industry for protection was three years old when it was rejected in May of this year by Cabinet. Without the protection that it sought, this industry cannot compete with the product of Japan for reasons which will be apparent, no blame being attached to the Australian industry. Figures differ, but I think it is correct to say that the average Japanese worker in the textile industry receives between one-sixth and one-ninth of the net effective wage or salary paid for similar work in this country. In measuring the cost of production one should not say, as the Minister says, that the Japanese purchases of our wool amount to such a big sum, and our purchases amount to such a relatively small sum, that we must do something about it. We are a people of between 9,000,000 and i 0,000,000, whilst the Japanese number 90,000,000 and have a great organization which receives, first of all, assistance from the military organization known as S.C.A.P., or the Supreme Command for Allied Powers, as well as American assistance on the technological side.

In those conditions, to give Japanese importations most-favoured-nation treatment, as this Government is doing, is deliberately to sacrifice the industry in this country. It might be argued that the Government did not know the position because nobody put the view of the industry. How can that argument be sustained? A study of the figures will prove what I have said to be completely true. The other night, the Minister spoke in a very self-defensive way. There Waa none of his usual dogmatism in these matters. He works haH at his job, and if he had a case he would have put it forward, but he dropped the case at the crucial point. When we wanted to have his estimate of what goods could reasonably be expected to come from Japan in competition with our industries, taking textiles as a notable example, he said, “ I cannot deal with that “. It is his job to deal with it, and to let the people of Australia know the estimate.

I want to make it clear on behalf of the Opposition that we do not reject all ideas of a trade treaty with Japan or any other country. Whether or not we have a trade treaty must depend on circumstances, such as the safeguards to be applied and other provisions of the treaty. A treaty, in itself, is of no value at all. Its value has to be measured by its advantages and disadvantages. The killing thing about this treaty is the effect it will have on Australian industries that have rendered great service.

They have assisted in the decentralization of secondary industry and are a feature of fifteen or 25 country towns in Australia. They are entitled to the support of the Australian Country party for that reason, unless that party does not want to have secondary industries in the country towns of Australia. It would be unthinkable that the Australian Country party should take such a narrow view. Therefore, if we can assume that there are no politics in the matter, it must be admitted that these industries are a great asset, and give a chance to the young people of country towns. Instead of being thrown into the hurly-burly of the city and taking their chance in huge establishments, young people are enabled, in many cases, to get valuable experience and earn wages in the country towns.

In the United Kingdom, trade relationships with Japan are not dealt with on any theoretical basis of most-favoured-nation treatment. Incidentally, Australia has a cumulative trade deficit of more than £1,100,000,000 with the United Kingdom in respect of the last ten years. Is not that to be considered if we want to do justice to the United Kingdom, which will be so hard hit by this measure? Cannot honorable members see what our kinsmen do in Britain? They have effective restrictions against Japan. The only unlimited import licences granted to British importers of Japanese goods are for items which Japan can produce and the United Kingdom cannot, such as canned mandarin, oranges and tinned crab meat.

In 1954, the United Kingdom signed an agreement with Japan called the Sterling Payments Agreement. Under this agreement, Japan had the right to export to Crown colonies within the British Commonwealth, but imports to the United Kingdom were strictly limited. The only variation that has occurred in the agreement since has resulted in a further cut by the United Kingdom on the importation of goods from Japan. In the United Kingdom, good high wages are paid to those employed in the textile industry, especially in Lancashire. Do the people of Britain allow Japanese competition to destroy their own industry? Of course not, but this Government is risking the destruction of the Australian textile industry. That may not be the intention, but when people persist in doing things the inevitable consequence of which is destruction, one must come to the conclusion that they are reckless of the consequences.

How can the Government take that attitude to an industry which is employing 25,000 Australians, supporting their families, and assisting a large number of associated industries? In 1954, the Board of Trade in the United Kingdom issued certain restrictions which are still in force. lt placed a limitation of £25,000 on the imports of pottery. That much can be brought into the United Kingdom, and no more. A limitation of £30,000 was placed on the value of buttons and parts thereof, including button blanks, collar studs and shirt studs that could be imported. Imports of lacquer wire were limited to £15,000 worth. Imports of brooms, mops and brushes not containing precious metal were limited in value to £25,000. Imports of electric lamp bulbs, or filament of a voltage of 12 or less, were limited to a value of £7,500. I am not giving the whole list, but only a few illustrations to show that the Board of Trade in the United Kingdom has severely restricted the imports of goods that could compete with industries which have a very high place in the world, but which pay what we regard as proper wages to those who work in them. Woollen goods are not included in the list to which I referred.

The United States of America imposes prohibitive duties on all types of piece goods entering that country in excess of 5 per cent, of the local market. The American Government excludes anything more than one-twentieth of the local market from the whole area of competition, even though normal tariffs in America are far higher than they are in Australia. I said a moment ago that other European countries operate the import licensing system against Japan, but the United Kingdom entered into an agreement which gave Japan the right to export to Crown colonies. Let us see what happened as a result of that agreement. In 1953, Japan enjoyed 15 per cent, of the market in Nigeria. By 1956, Japan enjoyed 91 per cent, of that market. This happened in a British colony. Great Britain had held 31 per cent, of the market in 1953, and became virtually excluded from it by 1956 when she enjoyed only 1 per cent, of the trade with Nigeria.

In Sierra Leone, another Crown colony, Great Britain enjoyed 97 per cent, of the market in 1953 and Japan exported nothing to it. By 1956, however, Japan had taken 66 per cent, of that market while Great Britain’s trade had dropped to 21 per cent. To what is all this due? It is due to the fact that no country like Great Britain, where decent labour standards with reasonable wages and proper safeguards, together with social security and so on are demanded, can compete with Japan. That country can compete with products manufactured under conditions which, from the British point of view at any rate, amount to sweated labour. It should also be recognized by the International Labour Office that Japan is manufacturing goods with sweated labour.

The position has been somewhat similar in Barbados, Kenya and other Crown colonies, all due to the fact that the Japanese wage structure, the hours of work and conditions of employment are far below those of competitors, including Australia. The conditions enjoyed in Australia have been made possible only because of the protection given to Australian industry over the years by this Parliament, a protection which saved this country in the early days of the war from a direct onslaught by our enemies. The contribution made by Australian industry at that stage was a very great feature of our war effort. This cannot be denied by any honorable member, whatever his politics may be. It was a really great performance which was given due recognition by General MacArthur and others qualified to express sound opinions on the matter.

According to the statistics available to me, the average male adult wage in the textile industry in Japan is 20. 6d. an hour, while the average female adult wage is 11.6d. an hour. In Australia, however, the average adult male rate is 94d. an hour, while the average adult female rate here is 68.3d. an hour. In other words, the proportion is 11 to 68 or approximately 1 to 6. Another important fact is that in Japan only 20 per cent, of the employees are males, whereas in Australia 47.5 per cent, are males. So, in Japan, industry has become dominated to a large degree by female labour. One article I have read on the subject states that in Japan every cottage is a factory and every factory is a cottage. There is a good deal of boarding-in of the female labour. In that country, they have that control over the females which we read about as having existed in Great Britain generations ago. Another important feature is the fact that in 1954 the average working hours in the textile industry in Japan were 196.7 a month.

A moment ago, I referred to the purchases of Australian wool, about which the Minister has had so much to say. Last year, the United Kingdom purchased 910,000 bales of greasy wool on the Australian market. She was our chief buyer. Then came Japan, which bought 652,000 bales of greasy wool, and France, whose purchases totalled 650,000 bales. The Australian industry, which was our Cinderella industry fifteen or twenty years ago. purchased no fewer than 601,000 bales. Those figures give some idea of the tremendous amount of wool imported by Japan, but I think it is generally recognized by economists that Japan is importing from Australia only such things as basic foodstuffs and raw materials which it manufactures or processes and sells again to this and other countries as finished products. Japan is ensuring that it imports from Australia only those things which may be used to provide employment in Japan. If the agreement under discussion is agreed to, we shall be, in a sense, exporting employment to Japan and importing unemployment. Anyone who has a true appreciation of what is involved must admit that.

The Minister went to great pains in his endeavour to impress upon us that everything will be all right under the proposed treaty. He said, “ I cannot predict the future; I am not going to try “. I have already submitted that it is his duty to try to assess what goods will be coming in. Great Britain did not make the mistake that this Government seems to be making. Great Britain determines what shall come in. Why cannot that be done here? If Australia is to have a trade agreement with Japan, why cannot the Australian Government say what Japanese goods are to come in? Why can it not say what quantity and what value of goods shall be imported from Japan? I am not advocating that we enter into such an agreement, but I suggest that if we are to have one, that is the proper way to go about it. But the Government says that Japan has to be treated as a most-favoured nation, that it has to be treated in the same way as all nations, with the exception of the Commonwealth or the Empire.

The Minister said, “ I will not attempt to say what is going to be the result “. He does not see what a trap he has dug for himself by making such a statement. He does not realize that the safeguards contained in the agreement do not apply unless the disastrous results in industry mentioned in it are those which could not be anticipated. I point out to honorable members that the ultimate results are obvious now. At this early stage, even before the tariff is brought into operation, people on all sides are pointing out to the Government exactly what the results will be, and I am confident that these people are correct in their prediction.

I should like to join issue with the Minister on another point made by him. He said that Japan exercised great selfrestraint in her exports to Canada and that we can take that as our guide in judging Japan’s future attitude towards Australia. That is in black and white, in the report of his speech. Let us see what happened in Canada.

Before Canada granted mostfavourednation status to Japan in 1954, the total value of Japanese goods exported to the Canadian market was 14,000,000 dollars. That, in itself, was a quite substantial sum. but by 1956, this country which the Minister asks us to hail as one which exercises great restraint in its export policy exported 65,000,000 dollars’ worth of goods to Canada, and it is estimated that this year the total value of Japanese goods placed on the Canadian market will be 120,000,000 dollars. They are actually engaged, in time of peace, in aggressive economic action, not to get a fair share of trade, but to get all they can. Look how they treated the British colonies!

I would agree with the principle of conferences with the industry, but apparently the Minister’s idea is to hold them after the agreement has been signed.

Mr Ward:

– He only talks to the chambers of commerce, anyhow.


– Naturally, he is more friendly with them, like the party to which he belongs. No one could accuse it of making any contribution, over the 30 or 40 years of its existence, to Australian industry.

The Minister has cited the Japanese agreement with Canada as evidence of the selfrestraint of the Japanese. What lever did they use? It was the lever of wheat, and it was used in the same manner as wool is being used by Japan with the Australian Government. When we look at the realities of this agreement, is it not a sham to say that there is any real chance of restraint on the part of Japan, which depends so much on secondary industry organized to a degree never anticipated before the war, which is assisted by the American armed forces and all their technicians, and which has technological agreements in connexion with the textile industry - to take only one industry - with the largest shirt manufacturer in the United States? The fact is that there has been no increase in purchases of wheat by Japan from Canada, so that the Japanese have not taken the wheat they promised to take. There is practically no chance of Japan saying, “We are going to put a tariff on wool coming here “. Wool is bought in the open market of the world. That market determines the price of wool. If Japan imposed a duty on wool, thus adding to the cost of manufacture, no doubt the increased cost would be passed on and would add to the price of the manufactured articles. Would the Japanese do that? If they did, it would interfere to some extent with their power to destroy competitors in the market for secondary products made from wool. I submit, therefore, that that fear is imaginary.

Then we come to the safeguards in this agreement. The Minister’s speech turned on the safeguards, but I think that they have been misunderstood by him. After all, he made a written agreement, signed it and pinned himself down to an interpretation of it when he spoke to the House the other night. What are the safeguards? It is perfectly true that they can be called safeguards, but we have to look at Article V. to see whether they are really so. We can get out of the agreement or negotiate to have it varied, but we cannot be sure how long such negotiations would last. If the Japanese took as long to negotiate as they did in the great disputes prior to World War II., they would take quite a long time. This is what Article V. says - . . If, nevertheless, as a result of unforeseen developments, the Government of either country finds that any product is being imported from the other country under such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to producers in the country of importation of like or directly competitive products, that Government may. in respect of such products, suspend obligations . . .

I shall not read the whole of the paragraph, but the essence of it is that Article V. will apply if certain things happen as a result of unforeseen developments. But the Minister knows of the dangers. He knows what happened to Canada and other countries. Japan’s object in seeking mostfavourednation treatment is to capture markets. Would that be an unforeseen circumstances to a reasonable man knowing something about Japanese business or the course of Japanese trade? Of course not! I mention this matter, but I am not going into too much technical argument about it. One cannot be sure how this will be interpreted. The Minister’s say-so will not determine it. He says, “ Look at Canada. We can expect the same generous treatment as Japan gave to Canada “. Well, we know what that was. It was an attempt to capture the Canadian market, and there was also an attempt to capture the American market. The Americans, however, said. “ All right. One-twentieth is all you are going to. get - not a skerrick more. We will take nineteen-twentieths for our people because, we must protect them “. Why could not a similar attitude - not necessarily the same attitude - be taken by a patriotic government which wanted industry to develop in this country?

The Australian textile industry is not a new industry, but an established one. There are involved in it not only Australian employers, but. also British investors. I am told that the most serious consequences of all will result in the rayon industry, in which British investment has been considerable. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), at the opening of one of these British establishments only a few months ago, gave an assurance of full support, or every practicable support, from the Australian Government. I have consulted both the manufacturers and the trade unions and I am told that if this agreement goes through without real safeguards being inserted in it, the industry will suffer. When I say “ real safeguards “ I do not mean the provisions that have been put into the agreement to enable one party or the other to get out of it or to vary it; I mean some definite protection. If the agreement contained such protection we could measure it, but nothing of the kind has been attempted.

The treatment of Canada has aroused tension and criticism throughout the world. My only point about the agreement concerns the article that I have mentioned. I say that there is no sure safeguard there. Just imagine what will happen if there is a rush of Japanese goods to this country and some industries totter! No doubt representatives of the industries concerned will come along to the Minister and ask what he proposes to do about it. We do not know what he would do, because he also said in his speech, “ Oh, those things might happen, but you have to accept the agreement in good faith and give the Japanese a fair opportunity to develop this arrangement “. But if you give them a fair opportunity to develop it - and that sounds so smooth and plausible - you destroy Australian industries, although, of course, not necessarily in every aspect. This agreement applies to practically unlimited categories of Japanese goods. For instance, what chance will there be for Australians engaged in the toy industry, which is peculiarly popular in this country, when they find that it is impossible for them to continue in competition?

My colleague, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), with his great experience of the manufacturing industries, particularly in the State of Victoria, will deal with this matter in detail, but I want to give just one illustration. I have here a document given to me by Mr. Erskine, the secretary of the New South Wales Textile Workers Union. It was handed to him by the Shirt Manufacturers Association. It reads -

I hand you herewith sample of white poplin business shirt from Japan.

The shirt can be produced for honorable members to see. I understand from the experts that it is beautifully made. The letter goes on -

The estimated landed cost is: F.o.b. 6s. 3d. (sterling); freight 6d.; exchange ls. 9d.; landing charges Id.; duty 5s.; making a landed cost of 13s. 7d.

The estimated sale price would be approximately 15s. 6d. or 16s. I am assured that a shirt of similar quality, produced under trade union conditions in this country, would cost not less than two guineas - approximately three times as much. No matter what their intention is about the industry, people usually fall for that kind of offer.

I think I have given sufficient illustrations to show that certain conclusions should be drawn from this proposed treaty. I have referred to the places in Australia, especially the country towns, where textile industries have been established. Instead of factories producing for war purposes they are now engaged in peace-time production, and it is quite certain that some of them must go under in the fierce competition that will ensue from this treaty.

I submit that the treaty should not be adopted. From an Australian point of view it is a thoroughly bad treaty. It is indefinite and ambiguous; the clause 1 have mentioned is sufficient illustration of that. It may be necessary to call upon an international tribunal to give an interpretation of what is called the “ safeguard “ clause. I do not think it is a proper safeguard for Australia, at all. Before the agreement is signed and executed, a plan should be drawn up to show how much should come in under all categories, as the English Government has insisted upon in its legislation to which I have referred.

Of course, the agreement gives Japan special opportunities for the first time since World War II. Australia gets nothing except the opportunity to compete; that is proposed. The Minister spoke as if Japan was providing guaranteed markets. They are not guaranteed markets but, according to the Japanese statement, opportunities to compete. If the Japanese are acting in good faith, such opportunities will help. There are no effective emergency powers available to the Australian Government if there is serious injury to Australian products or to any industry adversely affected within the meaning of the agreement.

Secondly, I submit that the treaty is unnecessary. The Minister argues that the balance of payments is so much against Japan because of its large purchases of wool that Australia is under some obligation to alter that position. The Minister has said that in his statements to the press; and he said it here the other evening. But the balance of payments is not a two-way affair between Japan and Australia. The Japanese deficit as between Japan and Australia represents a credit which becomes available to other countries in the sterling pool, and they, in turn, buy from Japan with the credit they obtain. Why is this absurd argument advanced? My colleagues will supply the exact figures to show that the total deficit this year insofar as Japan is concerned is tiny as it affects the balance of payments with the British Empire and the Commonwealth of Australia. In other words, it cannot be said that because Australia, with a population of 9,500,000, sells a great deal of wool to a country with a population of 90,000,000, which has associations and trade relations with 50, 60 or 70 other countries, it is not, in effect, with its colleagues in the British Commonwealth, making a tremendous contribution indirectly to Japanese trade. That is the whole idea of the sterling pool.

The treaty seems to be a result of pressure. It was concluded suddenly and, I think, all honorable members would like to know what occurred as preliminaries to the treaty. “Who took the first step towards making the treaty? Could not the House be informed -of the pourparlers? What letters were written to induce this treaty? We know that -other countries are interested in Japan. I have referred to considerable investment in the Japanese textile industry through partnership in technological processes by a great American combine. That is a matter which we should examine. Has this treaty been made because some one told the Minister, -or some other Minister, that the Japanese were thinking of putting a duty on Australian wool? I do not believe that such a thing was ever contemplated by Japan. There may have been some “ talkie talkie “ to that effect. But was that ever done? Such action would prove ruinous to Japanese -economic policy. To use such tactics to destroy portions of Australian industry is completely wrong. At any rate, the result -of this will be to force the products of cheap labour on to the Australian market. The wages paid in Japan are one-sixth, or one:ninth, of the rates paid in Australia by the industries concerned, and this treaty will have a most detrimental effect upon employment in this country. It must have; in fact, :it is already having such an effect. The Honorable Mr. Erskine, who is a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council, :said the other day that hundreds of men in his union had already been put off. I have not the details of the numbers, but that was his statement, and I have no doubt that it is correct.

If the House accepts such an agreement, it, in effect, condones economic aggression against nations such as Australia and Great Britain, which are determined at all costs to maintain their standards of living. There, we come to the greatest problem of all. The International Labour Organization’s declared objective is the increasing of the standard of living in countries such as Japan; and every one would like to see that objective achieved. In effect, the workers of Australia have common cause with the workers of Japan to see that decent standards are given to the Japanese people. The old gang is back in power in Japan, and all hopes of having a democracy established there have been postponed - perhaps, more than postponed.

Therefore, the treaty means importing into Australia unemployment and a lower wage so far as that can be done by importation. Suppose, for instance, that, in order to compete, the manufacturers were able to induce tribunals to lower wages. Such action could not be confined to the textile industries; it would be a general trend and would strike a most serious blow at standards in Australia. I believe that already in Australia there aTe cases where businesses have been sold or are about to be sold because of the proposals contained in this treaty and the consequences of applying it.

The treaty represents a serious danger to Australian industry. The tremendously well-disciplined labour force in Japan is, perhaps, the largest of its kind in the world. The trade union movement in that country is in a weak situation, and the workers are paid the lowest practicable industrial wage among the first 20 or 30 strongest industrial countries. Female labour is 50 per cent, of the labour force in Japan, and those workers live in dormitories which are part and parcel of the factory establishments. Unlimited capital is coming to Japan for expansion, and the most advanced technical developments are in use. Japan is right in the forefront of the nations which are prepared to compete and it is prepared to compete up to the point of capturing the market.

That is a menace to Australia, and the Government should prevent it.

The treaty means that the interests of Australian workers and some manufacturers have been prejudiced, and the Government has come down on the side of the big powerful corporations again, even although they come from another part of the world. It is really a part of the aggressive action of capital, which is not merely Japanese but international in character. At any rate, it is against the interests of ordinary people and especially of the employees of Australia. This country is faced with a position analogous to that which faced the people of Britain, who are determined that they will not yield their standards because of cheap labour competition from Japan.

It is possible to have international trade treaties which are satisfactory. I do not exclude the possibility of making a satisfactory trade treaty with any country. The more trade there is the better, but it is essential to look at the terms of such treaties in order to ascertain, first, the effect of them on our own people, and, secondly, to ensure that in concluding them the Government has carried out its duty towards its own people. The Australian Government can expect such a treaty with any other country to be approved by the Australian people only if, before it is signed and we have become bound by it, the Government knows fairly precisely - it cannot be certain - what will result from the treaty. The English legislation provides that certain quantities of certain types of textiles may be imported. Then there is a list which shows what can be bought on a reasonable basis without destroying the potential of home industries.

Those are some of the aspects of this great question. What is to happen in the case of an Australian manufacturer who finds Japanese goods on the market and available for purchase at one-third of the price for which he is prepared to sell his product? What will he do? He might go out of the textile trade altogether, or he might decide to buy the Japanese goods and seek to sell them at a profit. An industry may be ruined because those concerned do not know exactly what will happen in such circumstances. 1 submit that, first of all, this matter should be completely reviewed by the Par liament. The opinions that have been expressed in this House should be of some assistance to the Government in that connexion. It is for these reasons that I have submitted my motion to the House.


– Is the motion seconded?

Mr Peters:

– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later.

Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– Unlike the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), 1 do not have unlimited time available to me. I have only twenty minutes and, for that reason, I do not intend to devote very much of my time to the details of the rambling speech by the right honorable gentlemen to which we have just listened. 1 have heard some very remarkable economic arguments from him before, but the argument he put to the House about the unimportance, relatively speaking, of the balance of trade between Japan and Australia was perhaps the most remarkable I have ever heard from him. The right honorable gentleman said, in effect, “What does it matter to Japan if it does have an enormous disparity in its trade with Australia and Australia’s purchases from it? After all, if Australia builds up credits, some other part of the British Commonweath of Nations will buy manufactures from Japan.” lt is not quite so easy as that. If it were, no country in the world would be very troubled by the balance of payments problem, but the fact is that many countries are sorely troubled by it at this time. In point of fact, the Leader of the Opposition could not have picked a worse illustration, because all but 20 per cent, of the wool that is bought from Australia by Japan is consumed by the Japanese people, and all the wheat and barley bought from Australia is, I think, consumed inside Japan. What prospects have the Japanese of obtaining, credits overseas from the sales of thosecommodities?

The second point - and these are the only two matters upon which I shall touch in detail that relate to what was said by theright honorable gentleman - was his reference to the threat to Australian employees, arising from this treaty. Earlier to-day in this chamber we had a full discussion on theemployment situation. I am not going toadd to what I said at that time other than: to repeat that this Government has taken pride in honoring its undertaking, over the eight years in which it has held office, to maintain a substantial situation of full employment in Australia.

Mr Ward:

– That is why 100,000 are out of work.


– One of the colleagues of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was not prepared to make that claim when he spoke earlier to-day. The people of this country have reason to judge us, not on the propaganda of the honorable member for East Sydney, but on our performances. We are prepared to stand by them. While I am not going to spend a great deal of time on the speech of the Leader of the Opposition, I am quite certain that even those Australian manufacturers who have some fears about the operation of this treaty will not have missed the irony of a situation in which the role of champion of Australian industry has been assumed to-night by the leader of a political party which is pledged to socialize Australian industry. The right honorable gentleman reminded me of a turkey farmer who takes great care of his flock as he prepares the turkeys for the Christmas slaughter, and then turns them over at a profit.

The Leader of the Opposition has painted a black picture of the possible consequences for Australian manufacturers and their employees from the low-wage manufacturers of Japan. That is the whole substance of the right honorable gentleman’s case. He is prejudiced against a treaty which aims at expanding our trade with Australia”:; second best customer, but apparently he has no such qualms about the effect on Australian industry of low wage production from red China, because the right honorable gentleman is a persistent and most enthusiastic advocate for trade between Australia and that Communist country.

Mr Ward:

– Similar commodities are not produced in red China.


– The honorable member for East Sydney knows that the present government of communist China is starving its citizens to death in order to obtain overseas credits to buy industrial machinery to turn red China into the greatest industrial power in Asia. He knows that, but that does not stop him preaching in and out of season in favour of trade between Australia and red China. Does the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues imagine that the wage level of the Chinese workers will be comparable with that of the Australian workers? Of course, it will not be comparable, but that does not stop the right honorable gentleman declaring from the platform that Australia should build up its trade and enter into trade negotiations with red China. I merely point this out to those many Australian manufacturers who feel that in the right honorable gentleman, and those who sit behind him, they have champions to preserve their position in Australia. I do not expect to experience much difficulty in convincing intelligent Australian manufacturers that their best interests are safe in the hands of the present Commonwealth Government, which has led them steadily along the road of industrial progress during its eight years of office.

The Japanese trade agreement has been warmly received, as one might have expected, by sections of industry, such as organizations of persons concerned with commerce and primary production, who can see clearly the benefits for themselves that are likely to flow from its implementation. Such indications as one can find of a general public opinion in this country confirm that the agreement enjoys wide public support. The Leader of the Opposition has often given us the results of gallup polls to support his arguments, and it may interest him to know that in a recent gallup poll more than two people stated that they favoured the agreement for every one who opposed it. Again not unexpectedly, only some sections of our manufacturing industries, and some trade union spokesmen for their employees, have come out in opposition to the agreement.

But the fact that a line of policy beneficial to Australia as a whole is productive of resentment in some sections of the Australian community has never deterred this Government in the past - nor will it in the future - from going ahead with what it believes to be for the national good. At different times, as honorable members will recall, this Government has incurred the displeasure of the farming community, and in particular of the graziers, because of the special tax that we levied on wool at the time of high wool incomes in 1951 and because of our abadonment of the averaging system. It has incurred the displeasure of representatives of commerce, who attack us from time to time because of the operation of import licensing, and of the trade union movement, which has attacked us because of our legislation on secret ballots and the disciplinary provisions in the arbitration legislation. We recall what was said about the so-called “ horror “ budget of 1951 and the “little horror” budget of the autumn of last year. Although those attacks were made on this Government by sections of the community, we can say that results have proved the justification of the measures introduced and the wisdom of the policies that we followed at the time. So even if this agreement produced some sectional resentment and some sectional pressure, we would not hesitate to proceed with it, because we think it to be in the best interests of the Australian people. I genuinely believe that it is not only in the best interests of Australia as a whole, but also, properly understood and taking the long view of its operation, most directly in the interests of Australian manufacturers and their employees.

At this stage I wish to say a few words about the importance of these manufacturing industries to the Australian people. We have never under-estimated their importance to this country. The expansion of Australian secondary industry production since the beginning of World War II. has been phenomenal. These industries have given employment to more than 1,000,000 Australian wage-earners. Approximately 36 per cent, of all wage and salary earners in civil employment are engaged in our manufacturing industries, which also provide indirect employment for many more workers. We acknowledge that the success of these industries throughout that period has meant a great deal to the development of Australia. We acknowledge that fact not only with gratitude, but also with some justifiable pride, because of the contribution we have been able to make, as a government, to the results that have been produced. In 1939 there were 26,941 factories in Australia, but by 1956, which is the last year for which I have figures, the number had increased to 52,359. To-day there are almost double the number of factories that we had in that pre-war year.

Honorable gentlemen with a long enough experience of these matters will recall that it was in the years between 1939 and 1941 that a government led by the present Prime Minister laid the foundations for what was to become the most remarkable expansion of secondary industry in the history of Australia. Not only were those foundations laid by that government, but throughout the term of office of this Government these industries have flourished. When this Government came to office there were, in round numbers, 40,000 factories in existence in Australia. By 1956 there were over 52,000. The number of-employees in those factories has increased from 890,000 in 1949 to 1,061,000 in 1956.

I have gone into these details only to show those people who may think we attach too little importance to these industries in relation to the Australian community that the Government recognizes the large pro- » portion of our economic production and effort that is associated with the manufacturing industries of Australia, and how vital are those industries to our continuing prosperity and national development.

The continuing prosperity of our manufacturing industries has a special importance, as I have personal reason to know, to the success of a continuing immigration programme. Our primary industries, although they have expanded quite remarkably in recent years, provide comparatively few additional employment opportunities, because machines have taken the places of many of the farm workers, who would otherwise have been needed as a result of the expansion that has occurred. Australia would not have been able to provide employment for anything like the number of immigrants we have attracted in the postwar years, as well as for our own natural increase of population, had it not been for the rapid expansion of our secondary production. If we are to go ahead, as we intend to go ahead, with a rate of population growth giving us about 60,000 additional workers a year, we must look to the manufacturing industries for many of the needed work opportunities. The Minister for Trade has all these considerations in mind. He is just as much aware of these facts as are his colleagues in the Cabinet. He had them in mind when he outlined the safeguards that he will be quick to apply should the necessity arise.

There is one other- important safeguard that 1 feel should be stressed.. 1 doi not think that it. has been- stressed in the course of. this discussion. I refer to the: attitude of the- Japanese: Government itself. Are we to imagine that a> Japanese Government would be so unwise as, to -endanger its hopes for a> long-term, trade association with Australia, and) for a growing share in our market as the base ofl onn economy expands: through increased population and national, development,, by a course of action that would be damaging to. the- Australian industrial! structure?: Would: it adopt such a course of action and. thereby discourage’ this, or another government’ from, carrying on these trade’ arrangements in the- future?.’ I believe that we can reasonably expect the Government of. Japan to supervise the operation of this, treaty from its end with good sense and restraint, just as we, as a government, shall’ be exercising a careful supervision from our own.

Another point that: I think should be stressed’ is the importance of Australia’s export income’ from primary productionto our manufacturing industries, as has been, shown by the. Minister for. Trade. In the first place,, it provides income in the hands of the farming community, which, touches, off a chain, of purchasing power for, the. products of. Australian secondary industry. As, our farmers, are able to sell more in. the markets- of the world, and so: increase their own. purchasing.’ power,, additional employment, opportunities are. provided,, and. this in. turn, increases, purchasing power, throughout the whole Australian, economy.. We all benefit when. the. farmer-‘ gets, a. good year of export income,, but it also enables the import of. materials and equipment essential for our manufacturing industries.. Some manufacturers tend to overlook, that, point. The Minister has told us; that these days, that importation amounts ta not. less, than 75 per. cent., of our. total level, of. imports, all- required by, way of equipment or raw material for our manufacturing’ industries.

I said earlier that! thought it would not be difficult to persuade the manufacturers that their best interests would, be served, by the amount of expansion that, this agreement could produce. Here is very clear evidence of it: Another point that I ask the House to consider is the necessity to diversify our export range: The United

Kingdom remains our biggest and most valued, customer.. It gets preferential treatment, in our’ tariff arrangements1. But the trend over recent years has been for the United. Kingdom to take: a diminishing proportion of our exports. This movement is shown- in the following figures: -

The volume, of. exports could be mentioned if time permitted.. If we. are. to expand, our farm exports, significantly,, Australia must look to other countries and in particular to the enormous potential market of Asia. Nor can we be satisfied to look indefinitely to the farm exports to provide so large a proportion of our export income. We need the export income- from our manufacturing industries. This is- influenced- at the present’ time- very largely- indeed by the produce of our farms. Over the last three years, primary export income1 has amounted to more than 92’ per cent; of total exportincome against 6 per cent, from’ our manufactured’ exports.

To finance their own requirements, our manufacturers will find a- growing need to export an- increasing’ proportion- of their own production. The United States- of America has- been able to do this, and I mention’ if because there have been references’ to our wage structure: compared with, that of Japan. The United’ States has the highest. wage level in” the world, But it has been able to export, despite possessing that high wage structure, because of the stability of its own industry taking a large share of the domestic market, and! the efficiency of its, production. Some Australian industries, such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and- General Motors-Holden’s, Limited having become firmly established by their, share of the Australian domestic market, and’ we want to see. all our industries, continue to have a substantial share of. the Australian.’ domestic market, have found- themselves able to export profitably overseas.

We believe that Australia has: everything to gain; from both the expansion of our. trade with countries: such as Japan and1 the expansion of our own manufacturing production.. These things go hand in hand despite the doubts expressed by the right honorable gentleman. They have gone hand in hand in the United States of America as well as in Canada. We heard references by the right honorable gentleman to what has happened in Canada. I have in my hand the “ Financial Post “ of Canada, dated 24th August, referring to Japan’s cotton exports to that country. Our own Minister told us of the strong position of our wool and textile industry, but admitted that cotton textiles were more vulnerable. According to an article in the newspaper I mentioned, the total Canadian imports of cotton fabrics in 1956 amounted to 259,000,000 yards. Japan’s exports of cotton cloth to Canada were 16,000,000 yards, or about 6 per cent, of the total of Canadian imports of cotton goods. So J say these things go hand in hand, and it is the policy of this Government to ensure that they do.


– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.


.- The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) commenced his speech in a very unfortunate manner indeed. He made reflections upon the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and then, of course, he went on to elaborate his reasons. He took exception to the remark that was made by the right honorable member for Barton that we did not necessarily have to send to Japan as much as Japan sent to us, or that the value of our exports to Japan should be the same as the value of our imports from that country. Of course, that is absolutely correct. We do not trade only with Japan, and Japan does not trade only with us; she trades with the Americas, South Africa, and all of the islands of the Pacific. To some of those countries Japan sends quite a considerable quantity of manufactured goods. Those countries purchase goods that are essential to their own industries, and this country purchases goods that are essential to the development of Australia, such as rubber, oil, raw cotton, coffee and tea. Of course, if we have credits with Japan and Japan has credits in the countries that produce these commodities she can send to us the commodities we require in liquidation of its debt to us. Apparently the Minister did not know that.

The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) stated -

This treaty which has been negotiated by the Government is designed to contribute to the preservation of Australian prosperity and the avoidance of fluctuation in our economic experience, to provide stability in employment and stability of profits in commerce and in primary and secondary industries, to provide more strength to the base of our national development, and, among other things, to enable the continuation of our immigration programme.

I shall show conclusively that none of those high-sounding phrases is correct. In reality, this agreement will make it very difficult for us to maintain our overseas balances. It will deter overseas investors from investing in this country; it will weaken Australia’s secondary industries; it will cause unemployment; and it will prevent the absorption of immigrants in Australia. The Minister for Trade pointed out not only in the statement that he made to this House on Tuesday night, but also in statements that he made previously that under this treaty Japan will take over £100,000,000 worth of wool from Australia annually. But she was already taking over £100,000,000 worth of wool annually when there was no agreement in operation. The Minister said that Japan will take from Australia hides, sugar, barley and some wheat. When he was asked how much wheat Japan would take, he said that he did not know. I emphasize that every article that Japan takes from this country is needed to further the development of Japan and the expansion of its industries. Not one person in Japan will be put out of employment as a result of the importation of goods from Australia. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, Japanese buyers have fought at auction sales on the open market to secure our wool, because Japan wanted our wool, which is essential to her development and to the expansion of her industries, and essential also to the trade that she desires to establish overseas. When the right honorable gentleman was asked, while making his statement, what type of products would come to Australia from Japan, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “ I do not know “. He was unwilling or unable to say what types of products would come into this country from Japan under the agreement. When he was asked what the monetary value of those commodities would be annually or for the three years period, he said, “ I am unable to say that “.

Mr Howson:

– Can the honorable member say what it will be?


– Yes. Of course I can say what will come to this country. The products of light .industries and of textile factories, pottery and all kinds of commodities nhat will weaken Australian industries and endanger the ‘employment of Australian people will come to this country from Japan. And when will this happen? It will happen at a time when, our economy is also menaced by imports from other countries. “In 1951-52, there was a flood of imports into this country. The Prime Minister informed the people that our overseas balances were likely to be dissipated and savage import restrictions were imposed. They were relaxed over a period of years and w.ere ultimately lifted. But in 1956 they were again imposed because the conditions .that existed in 1952 had recurred. Those restrictions have now been gradually eased and at the present time are being totally abolished. Experience shows what will happen as a result. Goods will come from the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and elsewhere. Even if Japan was not being induced to send more manufactured goods to this country, in a few years- -not a very ‘long period- the flood of imports from overseas would create the need ‘for restrictions to ‘be imposed on our imports from European countries. But when the commodities that will come from Japan are to be added to those imports, the position becomes immensely more dangerous.

If Japan sends £70,000,000 worth of goods to this country annually, in three years the total will be £210,000,000. What does that mean? It means that Japan will send to Australia three or four times the volume of goods that could be purchased in any other country for £210,000,000. It will put on the Australian market £210,000,000 worth of commodities which would cost £900,000,000 to produce in Australian factories. I have evidence of that here. I have in hand a shirt similar to that referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. The landed cost of it was 13s. 7d. I have not the slightest doubt that this shirt is of much better quality than the shirt being worn to-night by the Minister, although his probably cost from £2 10s. to £3. It must be obvious that Japan will send to this country three times the number of shirts that could be produced here for the same cost. If it is blouses, we will have three or four .times the number. If it is electrical equipment, we will have three, four or five times the quantity that would come from Germany, Italy, England or could be manufactured in Australian factories. That is the menace.

We on this side of the House are not opposed ito the Japanese. This is not a question of one race against another. We bear no grudges. We .’hope the Japanese can get out of their difficulties, .but we .say to the Japanese government and the Japanese manufacturers, “ Instead of exporting your commodities to other countries and trying to export more than other countries .send to Japan, reduce the hours of labour of the Japanese people and .increase the purchasing .power of .the average man, woman and child in Japan :so that the Japanese market will, absorb a -vast amount of your manufactured goods “. In this atomic age, which is an age of invention and of rapidly increasing production, that certainly can be- done.

The Minister for Labour and National Service mentioned ‘.the industries that ‘have been built up in -this country, and he is right. They have -been built up in this country. The vast majority of people, whether they be new ‘Australians or old Australians are employed in secondary industries. Although the population has increased by 2,000,000 in ‘the past 10 years, the number of rural employees - has declined by 36,000. That means that more than 2,000,000 people have been absorbed in secondary industries or in industries dependent upon secondary industries. Because of expansion of our secondary industries during the past few years, more than £’200,000,000 has been spent each year on additional buildings -and equipment for secondary industries. Destroy the secondary industries or stabilize them, as some people suggest - that means prevent them from advancing as they have been advancing - and the employment in the building trades created by the annual expenditure of that £200,000,000 will be destroyed.

This treaty can do the things I have mentioned. The Premier of Victoria went to the United States of America and sent others to various parts of the world on what he called missions to sell Victoria.

In other words, he sought toinduce other countries to invest money in this country. Of course, this Government has saidthat there has been agreat investment of over- seas funds in Australia andhasclaimed credit for that investment - credit to which it is notentitled. If the Japanese are induced to send £200,000,000 worth of their goods to this country in a period of three years, will Americans invest their money in Australia, or will they continue to invest it in Japan on the scale indicated in this publication, “ Investment in Japan “? The shirt thatI displayed a few minutes ago bears upon it the name of one of the largest. manufacturers of shirts in the United States of America. That company has invested in Japanese industry in order to employ Japanese workmen for longer hours and atlowerwages than are customary in the United States.

Allthishas been done in preference to manufacturing shirts in the United States for salein Australia. Many American industries will investin Japanin order to produce goods tosell on the Australian market at lower prices than ifthey were made in the United States by American labour, andwhat is happening now in a small waywill happen on a very large scale. Manufacturers in Australia will abandon their factories, dismisstheir staffs, and become importers, employing the much smaller staffs needed for the importing into this country of Japanese goods, whichthey will sell much more cheaply, and from which they will make their profits just the same, to the serious detriment of Australia. Big Australian industrieswill follow the example of American big business, and invest their money in Japan in order to manufacture under Japanese conditions goods for sale on the Australian market. That is what must inevitably occur under atrade agreement such as this. The Minister for Trade knows the facts, but he has still not hesitated to sell our birthright. He has sold this country’s opportunities to develop and to expand its population, in order to obtain a market for a mess of second-grade wheat produced by the cockies, and to bolster the free-trade Australian Country party policy.

Darling Downs

.- We have heard two speakers from the Opposition side of the House ostensibly discussing the Japanese Trade Agreement, but they made very little reference to the agreement itself, and to its real implications. In the short time that I have, I shall nottraverse again the material that has been placed before the House by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen).I prefer to discuss some of the matters that have been raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and the several pointsthat were raised by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). First, Isay in all sincerity that the statements made by theLeader ofthe Qpposition about most-favoured-nation treatment for Japan were comparatively dishonest. I listened very carefully, and on three occasions, Iheard the right honorablegentleman say that this agreement places Japan on the same basis as other countries. He did not mention that the agreement does not inter- fere with the British preferential tariffs, which, in fact, have only recently been confirmed in theUnitedKingdom- Australia Trade Agreement.Icouldhave understood it if hehad overlooked that f actin a single referenceto the matter, but, since he did not mentionitin any of the three references that he made, Ican only think thathewas endeavouring publicly toconveythe impression, that this agreementdoes something thatit doesnot do, and that it interferes in some way withthe British preferential tariffs.

Theright honorable gentleman discussed at some length what he claimed to be an [impending crisis inthe textile industry in Australia. In November, 1956, which is notvery long ago, strong representations were made to the Government by people importing and using textiles that the level of import licences fixed for imported textiles was causing shortages, and forcing manufacturers to reduce staffs. It was claimed that, unless relief was given immediately, a considerable number of people in New South Wales alone would be out of employment before Christmas of last year. The Government gave relief by issuing special licences for textiles, and overall general relaxations for textiles to the tune of £10,000,000 a year were made by the authority of the Minister for Trade from 1st January last. The significant point is that, on the one hand, we have the Leader of the Opposition claiming that this agreement will cause a crisis in the textile industry, and, on the other hand, we have direct evidence in the facts that I have just related, and in a matter that I shall mention in a moment, that imports are the lifeblood of the industry.

It is a fact that manufacturing industries use a little more than 75 per cent, by value of the imports of materials into Australia, and that many of our manufacturing industries depend solely upon imported materials. Many factories need imported goods for processing, and imported plant and equipment, motor vehicles, petrol, and many other things. But all these imports have to be paid for out of export earnings. There is no other way of paying for them. Prewar, we did in fact finance a considerable volume of our imports by raising loans overseas, but that source of funds now provides only a trickle. Therefore, manufacturing industries, and the workers in those industries, are dependent upon a high level of export earnings. The United Kingdom is no longer a certain source of loans, as it was before World War II. That is one reason why we have to do all in our power to increase and stabilize our export earnings. Yet this agreement, which is designed primarily to do that, is criticized, and the true position of industries under it is misrepresented, by the Leader of the Opposition! Honorable members will now understand why I have said that the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition about one aspect of this agreement, and about the textile industry, were dishonest.

The right honorable gentleman also dealt with the low-cost factor of goods from Japan, and the honorable member for Scullin even went so far as to produce in the chamber an article of apparel that he claimed was obtainable from Japan at a very low price. In this connexion, I should like to mention a matter that was raised by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who asked, “ What about red China? Is not red China a low-cost country? “ That point has already been dealt with, but I should like to direct the attention of the House to the fact that we have already been trading with other low-cost countries for some years. Trade with great textile manufacturing countries, such as India, which are low-cost countries, has not so far caused any crisis in the Australian textile industry such as the Opposition now predicts will result from the entry of another low-cost country into the field of Australian trade. The great tex tile manufacturing centre of Hong Kong was supplying the Australian market for years before import licensing was introduced, and has continued to do so since. We have heard nothing about trade with those low-cost areas having any significant effect on the Australian textile industry.

This agreement provides for a definite form of protection, which I shall discuss more fully in a moment, should any serious threat to any important Australian manufacturing industry arise. The Leader of the Opposition said also - and I think, again, that he was using his terms rather loosely - that Australian industry has progressed only because it has been given protection by measures enacted by this Parliament. Exactly what the right honorable gentleman meant by that I am not sure. It is a fact, of course, that the Australian tariff system provides protection for Australian industries, and that the textile industry frequently applies for a hearing before the Tariff Board. That form of protection to Australian industries through the tariff system is a normal function, and I assume that that was the system to which the right honorable gentleman was referring. However, it is interesting to note that is what happened before the war, despite the fact that we had then a simplified trading arrangement with Japan. There was no agreement. We traded as normal customers without any government - to - government agreement. Nevertheless, in 1935, under circumstances of that nature, the Government of Japan imposed some restrictions on imports from Australia, due to some disagreement at that time. There was no reason, of course, in the absence of the protection of some intergovernmental agreement, why some form of restriction of that nature should not have been applied again.

Mr Timson:

– What year was that?


– That was 1935. The whole purpose of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was to endeavour to create a fear complex on this matter in the minds of the people of Australia. He was doing a great disservice to the Australian people.

I desire to refer briefly to Japanese trade with Canada since an agreement was signed a few years ago. It has been referred to twice to-night by the two previous speakers. Attempts were made by those two speakers, and by other people during recent weeks, to decry the voluntary restraint arrangements in the agreement between Japan and Canada. During the last couple of years the Australian Government has made it its business to keep in touch with the way in which the Japanese-Canadian agreement is working out. Speaking in broad terms, the Government feels able to say that Canadian industry has not been impaired and that the Japanese have carried out their undertakings in respect of restraint of exports.

It has been asserted that in some items such as T-shirts - we are still on the subject of shirts - Canadian industry has been damaged. Evidence of the damage has not been given. No unemployment figures have been produced and no other factual indication of damage has been given. The responsible Minister of the Canadian Government - this was confirmed to-night by a quotation from a Canadian newspaper - said that Japanese textiles - that includes the whole range of textiles - had gained only between 5 per cent, and 6 per cent, of the Canadian market. That of itself gives a conclusive answer to the points that have been raised by the Leader of the Opposition.

I was shocked to hear the Leader of the Opposition make the categorical statement that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) did not confer wtih representative industrial bodies before the signing of the agreement and that he conferred with those bodies only after the agreement had been signed. That is completely untrue, and I am sorry to say that I am sure the Leader of the Opposition knows that that statement is untrue. The Minister for Trade conferred with the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and the National Farmers Union. Indeed, while negotiations were going on between the Japanese delegation to Australia and our own officials, press statements were released from time to time showing the progress of the negotiations.

Criticism has also been levelled at the safeguards contained in this agreement. I think it only right at this stage to refer again to those safeguards, because, although they have been criticized to-night, no reference has been made to the specific safeguards. Firstly, there is the voluntary restraint which can be introduced by the Japanese Government, within the constitutional powers it possesses. As I have already mentioned, to a large degree that is working well in the agreement between Japan and Canada and also in the trade arrangement between Japan and the United States of America. Then special duties, if necessary, can be imposed to safeguard Australian manufacturing industries. As all honorable members know, last year this Parliament passed a bill which amended the Australian Industries Preservation Act to enable that to be done. The next safeguard is that restrictive import limits, quantitative limits may be imposed on Japanese goods, if necessary, to safeguard local industry. Those limits can be imposed by the Minister for Trade, and it is not necessary to obtain the consent of the Japanese Government to their imposition. For the purposes of the record, I felt that reference should be made at this stage to those safeguards.

I shall now refer to one of the most extraordinary statements that a responsible member of this House could make. The Leader of the Opposition said that he did not consider this agreement on commerce between Japan and Australia was necessary. That, coming from a responsible member of this House, was an astounding statement. The firm policy of this Government is to consolidate, by intergovernmental trade agreements, Australia’s existing export markets and to open up assured new opportunities for export. In conformity with that policy, this agreement has been signed, as was the recent agreement between the United Kingdom and Australia, and ‘,. is to be hoped that in the future it will be possible to negotiate trade agreements with other countries. As I have said, the policy of this Government is to consolidate our existing export trade and enable it to expand into new markets. Any honorable member who disagrees with that policy - by disagreeing with the signing of this agreement, he is doing so - shows a degree of irresponsibility which I am sure the public will recognize. It seems to be quite conclusive that a very definite advantage is to be gained by Australia in consolidating the present trade situation with the Japanese nation.

There is one other thought I want to leave with honorable members. A point was raised by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to the wool trade. It was partly answered by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), but I should like to make a comment on it. because I feel the matter is important and that it could have an effect on Australia’s most important export industry. Australia did not wish to maintain a course which would put the Japanese Government in such a position, because of our uncooperative and uncompromising trade attitude, that it would come under pressure to facilitate or encourage a switch-over in Japan from natural wool to synthetic fibres. It is nonsensical to argue that Japan must buy our wool, in the same way as we must buy oil. There is no threat to natural oil from manmade oil. We have a policy of wool research and wool publicity to help wool to maintain its place in world trade against competition from synthetic or man-made fibres. It would be foolish to frustrate that by an unthinking trade policy. That is an important point to remember in relation to this trade agreement.

I shall conclude on this note: In the total picture, we gain substantial export benefits - new markets in the case of soft wheat and security for existing trade, particularly in the case of wool. In return we get benefits by way of normal foreign country treatment and we give foreign country treatment to Japan. But to ensure that our local industry is not disrupted we have added escape clauses or emergency action provisions which give full power to the Government to protect Australian industry.

In conclusion, I say that this agreement is one that the Government believes will help the whole Australian economy. It will contribute towards a stable balance of payments to Australia, and reduce the fluctuations which make import restrictions necessary, whilst not adversely affecting the Australian manufacturing industry.


.- Undoubtedly this Japanese trade agreement will deal a devastating blow to many Australian industries. That is evidenced by the grave concern and anxiety shown by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and many trade unions, whose members will be affected by this agreement. The safeguards that were announced by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) are very unimpressive and very unconvincing. That is further evidenced by the statements of Mr. Withall, the federal director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures; Mr. Curphey. the general manager of the Vic torian Chamber of Manufactures; Mr. Hall, the director of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures; Mr. Loft, of the Australian Textile Workers Union; and Mr. Markham, of the Australian Glass Workers Union. **

It may interest the House to hear some extracts from a statement made by Mr. Hall on the safeguards contained in this agreement. I shall quote from an article which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald”, of 18th July, under the heading, “ Japanese trade safeguards criticised “ -

There was not a single worthwhile safeguard against Japanese imports in the Japan-Australia trade agreement, the Industries Preservation Act, the Tariff B«ard, or in the concept of Japanese businessmen voluntarily restricting exports, Mr. C. R. Hall said yesterday.

Mr. Hall, who is Director of the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales, said the Minister for Trade, Mr. J. McEwen, had sold Australian industry’s birthright for a mess of pottage, made in this case of soft wheat.

Under the agreement, signed in Japan on July 6, Japan will provide a market for, among other commodities, soft Australian wheat, which has previously been unsaleable in Japan.

I do not intend to read the full article because time would not permit, but I will read a further extract which quotes Mr. Hall’s statement - “ Another disturbing factor is that on Mr. McEwen’s return from Tokyo he was reported as saying that safeguards in the trade agreement ensured that no worth-while industry in Australia would be wiped out. “ The keyword is worth-while. In the early 1930’s the word was ‘unnecessary’. But who is to determine whether an industry is ‘ worth-while ‘ or not? “ Are these industries - to mention some particularly vulnerable to Japanese trade - textiles, aluminium, hand tools, cement, chinaware, glassware, toys and tiles? “ Industry is alarmed, to say the least, to find a Minister of such senior standing and prestige as Mr. McEwen hedging on so-called ‘ safeguards ‘ in the agreement by the use of the word ‘ worthwhile ‘.”

Mr. Hall added, “ We do not for a moment accept the assurances of the Government that the safeguards ‘ claimed to exist are worthy of the name “.

I do not think anybody could say that Mr. Hall is a Labour man. Now I would like to quote from a circular issued by the Federal Council of the Australian Textile Workers Union, one of the main unions whose members will be affected by this agreement. It states -

Among the light industries of Australia none is more susceptible to the impact of imports from overseas than the textile industry, and no other light industry has expanded, nor developed to the advantage of the national economy to a greater extent in the post-war years than the Australian textile industry. As one of Japan’s greatest export industries is, and always has been, her textile industry, we cannot regard the Trade Agreement with anything but alarm and anxiety on behalf of our many thousands of members, because Japanese textiles will flood our local market and our members will be out of their jobs.

Already the indirect adverse results of the Agreement are in evidence. Because of uncertainty of trading conditions in the immediate future firm orders have been cancelled, with the result that some hundreds of our members have lost their employment. This has occurred particularly in Tasmania and New South Wales, but in due course other States will certainly experience similar effects.

Since the announcement of the signing of the Agreement, numerous statements have been issued from Canberra to the effect that the Agreement contains safeguards against damage or injury to local industry, but with these so-called safeguards we are not at all impressed. We recall that in pre-war years, and particularly in the late ‘twenties, the Australian textile industry was devastated by Japanese competition, and only the drastic tariff introduced by the Scullin Administration saved the industry from extinction. We have no reason to believe that the position will be any different to-day, once the Agreement is firmly established.

The safeguards referred to in Article V. of the Agreement look very well on paper, but when it is realized the time which must elapse between the commencement and finalization of negotiations between the respective governments, where it is expected that “ INJURY “ will be caused, it should not be difficult to imagine that our industry would not only be seriously injured, in that period, but permanently incapacitated.

Our Union therefore seeks some much more speedy and effective method of safeguard, and suggests the provision of a quota system of imports by which the local textile industry would be assured of the major portion of the local market for its goods. Only by this or similar means can the continued employment of our members be assured. Undoubtedly, primary industry cannot employ them, and our members themselves do not want a government unemployment hand-out. They want their jobs protected.

And quite rightly so. Now, Mr. Acting Speaker, if further evidence is required of the value of the safeguards, I point out that any one who has been reading the papers lately will have noticed a sharp downward trend in shares in the textile industry. Surely that indicates that the safeguards are very very unconvincing, because nobody in his wildest imagination could say for one moment that the investor would not know what is contained in this agreement. That is why he is trying to get rid of his shares.

When the Minister for Trade spoke last Tuesday night he made no announcement of the volume or value of Japanese goods that would be accorded mostfavourednation treatment. He gave no interpretation of what the term “ serious damage “ means. Does it mean the closing down of factories, working part time, a catastrophic drop in share values, or does it mean a major recession? Just what does it mean? When I interjected the other night the Minister said that it means a sensible per- ‘ son’s thinking. Well, I would like to get a clear interpretation of “ serious damage “.. The phrase covers a very wide field,

The textile and ancillary industries did” yeoman service during the war. In many instances they were working three shiftsper day. I have with me a letter from a. textile mill in my electorate which indicates” just what a splendid contribution to the war effort was made by this industry. This mill is one of the largest in Australia and I will quote from this letter in order to prove to the House what an essential part the textile industry plays to-day in Australia. It reads -

During the whole of the war period, our factory worked three shifts per day, and our total output, which exceeded 5,000,000 lb. of yarn per year, was directed completely to supplies for defence and essential services.

During this period, we installed additional plant at the instigation of authorities and subsequently our company has operated efficiently and made full-time use of the capacity available.

During the past two years, staff in our factory has been increased by almost 1,000 employees, and we have recently embarked on a modernization and expansion programme which is now well under way and which will cost approximately £1,500,000.

Our successful trading over the past few years has influenced the decision to expand, but our plans are now seriously jeopardized by this Japanese Trade Pact.

Surely that is evidence of the great effort that was put forward by this industry during the war. It must be protected, because we cannot expect such industries to come to the nation’s help in times of emergency if we do not protect them. They must be fostered and encouraged to expand in peacetime so that we can lean upon them in times of emergency.

The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has already indicated that the wool and worsted industry of Australia pays £14,000,000 a year in salaries and wages, that the minimum value of plant and buildings is £45,000,000, that it produces £70,000,000 worth of goods a year, and that it employs 25,000 persons directly and many more thousands indirectly. It is absolutely ridiculous to talk about trying to compete with Japan when she is treated as a most favoured nation. Surely the figures that have been cited by my leader would convince any one of that fact.

I refer now to hours of work. We in Australia work a 40-hour week. We also enjoy long service leave, annual leave, sick leave and workers’ compensation, and awards are policed to ensure that juvenile labour is not employed in factories. Let us compare such conditions with those of a Japanese worker. The average Japanese worker works 48± hours a week, he does not receive payment for annual leave, he does not receive workers’ compensation or sick leave, and he is not paid for public holidays. How the dickens can we compete with a nation that has such a low standard of living?

Mr McEwen:

– That is not correct.

Mr Ward:

– It is correct.

Mr. Lawrence

– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney must not interject.


– I am quoting a statement that was made by the Chamber of Manufactures.

Mr Ward:

– Of course, it is correct.


Order! If the honorable member for East Sydney interjects again, I will take action.


– If the Minister thinks that is not correct, he should take up the fight with Mr. Hall and Mr. Withall publicly. Is any one so naive as to think for one moment that the Japanese buy wool from us because of a good neighbour policy? Japan buys wool from us because it is essential for her to do so. If she could buy wool of the same quality for a few pence a pound cheaper from some other nation, she would certainly do so. and would not buy it from Australia. The real reason behind the conclusion of this agreement is the getting rid of unsaleable second-grade wheat. Why should we sacrifice or place in jeopardy many Australian industries just for the sake of pandering to a small section of our primary producers? The completion of this agreement has been a great victory for the Australian Country party. It is the smallest party in the House, but it has had a great victory. The signing of the agreement will have repercussions. It will place some of the Liberal members who occupy safe seats in the city areas in a precarious position at the next election. They are not too happy about the agreement.

When references were made to what happened when a similar agreement was concluded between Canada and Japan, no one said that the Canadian Government, which initiated it, was soundly trounced at the last election. Apparently every one has received varying press reports from Canada about the outcome of the agreement between Canada and Japan. I propose to quote a report which appeared in the “ Three Rivers, Quebec, Chronicle”, of 14th February last. It reads -

Indeed, the only distinction between Canada and other members of Japan’s pre-war coprosperity sphere is that Trade Minister Howe continues to advise the Japanese to avoid direct competition with Canadian producers.

Then, under the heading, “ Flood of Japanese Goods “, it reads -

Now that they have their long desired entry into the Canadian market, the Japanese have abandoned their early pretences of accepting this advice and are rapidly over-running toy, textile, electrical appliance and other domestic markets. The year before Canada granted mostfavourednation status to Japanese imports, Japan sold only $14 million in manufactured goods on the Canadian market. In the first half of 19S6, Japan sold more than double this amount and Japanese sales in Canada for the whole of 1956 totalled $65 million. By the end of 1957, Japanese sales to Canada will surely reach $100 million.

Meanwhile, Canada’s sales to Japan are not moving so fast. Mr. Howe’s rosy forecasts of Japanese interest in Canadian uranium, iron ore, and oil - and grain, of course - must be heavily discounted against traditional Japanese insistence on a balance of trade in their favour in their trading accounts with individual countries.

Surely what has happened in Canada will happen in Australia.

I should like to conclude by reminding the House that this morning my colleague, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), referred to the present serious unemployment situation in Australia. There is a vast amount of unemployment in the electorate of Watson, which contains most of the major industries in Australia and which is the greatest industrial electorate in this country. How the dickens will the Japanese Trade Agreement improve the situation? It will worsen it and will do so much more quickly than many people would care to see. We of the Australian Labour party do not like to see unemployment, but this Government, by concluding this agreement, is purposely creating unemployment. The Labour party believes that the only way in which to place Australia on a sound economic basis so that we can make ourselves self-supporting is to foster and encourage Australian industries and to offer them the necessary tariff protection. I repeat that that is the only v/ay to find employment for an expanding population, including the immigrants who are arriving in this country.


.- I should like to touch upon three aspects of the Japanese Trade Agreement. They are the safeguarding, under the treaty, of our woollen trade with Japan, the underwriting of our exports of other commodities to Japan, and the general effect of the agreement on our community. It has been stated several times during this debate that in the main - the figure for last year was 83 per cent. - the wool that we export to Japan is used by local consumers for the manufacture of apparel. Last year, Japan bought 800,000 bales of wool from Australia. That huge consumption of wool by Japan is due, in the main, to the adoption by the Japanese of the Western style of dress. I should imagine that in times of economic stress in Japan it would be a very simple matter for the Japanese Government to impose customs duties on imports of wool from Australia, because so much of the wool imported is used to make clothing and it would be possible for the Japanese people to use alternative textiles for that purpose.

Another reason why our exports of wool to Japan needed attention at this particular time is that the Japanese economy has been subjected to very great strain in recent years as a result of which the Japanese Government has had to impose severe credit restrictions. We cannot afford to have the second best customer go downhill and be unable to afford to buy our goods. Economic stress in Japan has reached the stage where a number of small woollen textile mills have had to close down. The Japanese Government has bought the looms and put them out of production until conditions improve. Under this treaty we have a guarantee that our market for wool in Japan will be assured for at least three years; and I believe that our wool trade to Japan will continue to expand, because Japan has a rapidly rising standard of living, whilst its population is increasing. Additionally, of course, Japan is a growing industrial nation.

I turn now to the second aspect of this treaty which concerns our export trade with Japan in other commodities. The most significant immediate effect is, of course, the opening up of a totally new market in Japan for our f.a.q. wheat. Until now we have been able to establish in Japan a market for hard wheat only, grown principally in Queensland and in my electorate. Last year we sold 3,000,000 bushels to Japan. I believe that under this treaty we will sell more than 16,000,000 bushels of f.a.q. wheat to Japan. The Minister for Trade himself forecasts the sale of about 18,000,000 bushels.

Mr McEwen:

Sir John Teasdale made that forecast.


– That is a considerable widening of the outlet for our hard wheat compared with the market available before this treaty was negotiated. As Sir John Teasdale, chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, has said, it will not solve our wheat surplus problems, but it will give us a very good market.

Other primary commodities also are affected by, and mentioned specifically in, this treaty; but I should like now to suggest to Australian manufacturers that they might well follow the lead given by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, General Motors-Holden’s Limited, and other concerns which have found an outlet in Asia for manufactured goods. There is one concern to which I have directed attention in this House before - the Lincoln Electric Company of Australia - which is currently selling one-third of its production overseas. It is even selling equipment to Japanese shipyards, and it has just built a big factory near Sydney in order to enable it to increase its sales overseas. It proposes to send for sale overseas against world competition 50 per cent, of its turnover from its new £1,000,000 factory. If that can be done by one manufacturing concern which, so far as I know, has no peculiar advantages, because it buys fabricated goods from other concerns in Australia and assembles them and exports them, then it can very well be done by other manufacturers. I put that forward as a suggestion. I know that our manufacturers are exporting to the Asian countries and are efficiently aided to do so by the officers of the Department of Trade; and I think it is quite feasible that they could find a market - a small market perhaps for a start - in Japan itself.

I return now to Japan as a new market lor wheat. It may seem strange that Japan should seek to pay hard money for wheat when she can very easily get wheat cheaply, or for practically nothing, under the American concessional aid programme. I believe the reason why the Japanese have resisted pressure - and it is tremendous pressure, because there are over* 3,000,000,000 bushels of wheat carry-over in North America this year - to accept what is virtually a gift of wheat, is that Japan is determined to establish herself as a wholly independent Asian power, and to establish her own markets in Asia and the Pacific. I think that we should respect her for adopting the view that she must remain independent and develop her own individual policies.

The third and final aspect of this treaty, which is probably the most important, is the general effect it will have on the Australian economy. As the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) said earlier this evening, we all benefit when the farmer has a good income. That is one benefit that we, as a community, will derive from this treaty, because the incomes of the farmers will be underwritten by the treaty. I believe also that we are going to see, as a result of the treaty, a lowering of the cost structure in Australia. That does not mean that great masses of people will be thrown out of employment, because 75 per cent, of our imports are raw materials used by Australian manufacturers, and are capital goods required to improve our standard of production and our productivity. Manufacturers will be the first to benefit from this treaty. The safeguards that have been included in the treaty are, I believe, quite adequate to prevent any serious damage to any section of Australian industry. We have had ample assurance from the Minister in that respect.

The main effect of increased exports to Australia by Japan will surely be felt not by Australian manufacturers but by the British and continental manufacturers who export to us at present. It is a strange thing that we have not had one word of complaint from the British Government about this alleged threat to British trade in

Britain’s best market, although the British Government has had ample time to comment on the treaty. I believe the reason is that the British people welcome competition. The British are a great, aggressive trading nation. They are meeting world competition and expanding their economy. They expanded their exports by 6 per cent, in the first six months of this year against competition from Japan and every other nation. If the British can accept serious competition so philosophically our own manufacturers would do well to take the same attitude. I am sure that when they realize what is going to happen and get over their immediate concern, they will welcome competition as an aid to increasing efficiency in their industries. To the Australian community, the treaty will mean stability and, because it will hasten the removal of import restrictions, it will lead to a new era of prosperity and industrial expansion. I commend the Minister and his staff for negotiating this very complex treaty and its predecessor, the United Kingdom Trade Agreement. As forecast, they will ensure stability and avoid to a great extent the sharp fluctuations which we have had over the past few years in our export income.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Bird) adjourned.

page 172


Children of Australian Servicemen in Japan.

Motion (by Mr. McEwen) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

East Sydney

.- On numerous occasions, members of the Australian Labour party have directed attention to inaccurate and misleading answers given by Ministers to questions. I have a particular instance to which I want to direct attention, because I regard it as a most serious and important matter. It concerns the attitude of the Government to the illegitimate children of Australian ex-servicemen and Japanese mothers. I raised this matter earlier this year and asked the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) a series of questions. I am now able to say, as a result of disclosures and surveys made in other quarters that the Minister’s reply, to deal generously with it, was completely inaccurate and misleading.

If I were not obliged to conform to the Standing Orders of the House, I would refer to it in much stronger language.

The Minister told me on that occasion that it was incorrect to say that there were large numbers of these illegitimate children in Japan and that, according to his information, the number would not exceed 40. He said that the numbers had been exaggerated but, as the result of a survey, we find that the number of illegitimate children of Australian exservicemen and Japanese mothers in Japan exceeds 1,000. The fact seems to be that, instead of exaggerating the figure, the Minister deliberately minimized it in order to try to detract from the importance of the matter which I raised. I asked the Minister -

Are these half-caste children and their mothers being publicly ostracized and are they outcasts in their own country?

The Minister replied, “ I am unable to comment”. What he tried to convey was that there was no basis for such a suggestion. The Minister should have been in a position to know. It is his business to know what is happening to these unfortunate children.

Mr Edmonds:

– What Minister is this?


– The Minister for Defence. I asked -

As a result, are these mothers finding it difficult to obtain means of livelihood for themselves and their children?

He replied,

I am unable to comment other than to say I am informed that a number of private orphanages have been set up since the surrender to care for illegitimate children of foreign servicemen and the children admitted to them are well cared for.

I asked, finally, whether the Australian Government regarded itself as having some responsibility in this matter and, if so, what plans it had evolved to assist these innocent victims of warfare. The Minister replied -

The matter involves a question of policy which has not yet been determined by the Government.

Well, it is about time that the Government did determine it. The war has been over for a number of years, and I think the Australian Government has to accept responsibility for the unfortunate position of these illegitimate children.

But what are the facts? The Minister has said that the children are being well cared for. A newspaper published the statement that a recent survey which it claimed to have made disclosed the shocking plight of the children. It stated that they and their mothers are social outcasts, slaves in road camps, living a life of poverty and hopelessness. It stated further that some mothers had attempted suicide and that others were forced to walk the streets in their bid to keep the children clothed and fed. That was the situation revealed by the survey made by that newspaper. Recently I read that the Christian churches are taking the matter in hand and attacking the Government because it refuses to accept its responsibility in this matter. This is what the Government said to the Christian churches of this country -

The Government is prepared to allow church organizations to carry out this work without the Government making any financial grant to them.

The churches do not need the permission of the Government to undertake this work. If the Government wants the Christian churches to attend to the care of these children, it ought to provide the financial means for them to undertake this work, but it does not do so.

It is a standing disgrace to this Government that in Japan to-day deserted children of Australian ex-servicemen are walking the streets with placards round their necks reading, “ My father is an Australian “, and begging for alms to maintain themselves. About eighteen months ago, an Australian Army sergeant, who was stationed in Japan and took pity on these unfortunates, decided to do something about them, because the Government was doing nothing. He decided to organize a fund to help these unfortunate women and their children and, in doing so, he used 140 sheets of Army foolscap paper. Because he used 140 sheets of Army foolscap paper without authority in this worthy, humane cause, the Government and the Army authorities stepped in and court-martialled him.

It is about time that the Government accepted responsibility for these womenfolk and their children. I do not know the answer to the problem or the best method of handling it. There are many ways in which it could be approached. The Government does not escape its responsibility by simply washing its hands of the problem and saying that this is one of the things arising from war for which governments cannot accept responsibility. If the

Australian servicemen were in Japan at the behest of this government, it has to accept the responsibility. If the Government wants the Christian churches to attend to the matter, let it give financial support to them. Alternatively, orphanages or similar institutions could be established in Japan, under Government supervision and care, to ensure that these unfortunate people will be properly cared for. In my opinion the parading of these children with placards round their necks reading “I am the child of an Australian serviceman “, begging and seeking alms, must lead to disparagement of the Australian Government and the Australian nation. It is a disgraceful state of affairs. When I raised this matter eight or nine months ago, I expected the Government to do something about it. But the Minister merely said that the figures are exaggerated, and that there are no more than 40. Now it is disclosed that there are over 1,000 of them and instead of them being well cared for, as the Minister indicated at that time, many of the women have to walk the streets, selling themselves to get food to maintain themselves and their unfortunate children. If Ministers did a little more acting and less talking it would not be so necessary for members of the Opposition to be continually directing attention to this disgraceful state of affairs. I hope the members of the Government will now do something and stop merely talking. We always hear speeches from the Government benches on how distressed and sorry Government supporters are for the condition of certain sections of our own community. Here are some children in Japan who are our responsibility. Let the Government accept it.

Minister for Labour and National Service · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– The remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) will, in accordance with practice, be conveyed to the Minister concerned. The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) has given information which, knowing him, I have no doubt was based upon the best advice and information that he could secure.

Mr Haylen:

– It was not very good.


– That is a matter for judgment. If I had the choice of relying on a statement made by the Minister for Defence or a statement made by the honorable member for East Sydney, I would prefer to accept the officially based statement of the Minister. I only add that the honorable member for East Sydney has bandied around, very wildly and loosely, a charge that 1,000 - that is the figure he used, as contrasted with the figure of 40 supplied by the Minister - illegitimate Australian children or children of Australian service fathers are in Japan. That is a very grave reflection on the quite small number of Australian serving men who were in Japan at any one time. I only ask the honorable gentleman to weigh that consideration before he makes general charges of this character.


.- This is a grave and serious problem and it should be treated as such. I think the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has done a service in drawing attention to an aftermath of war which is always, apparently, unavoidable, but which leaves a stigma on the nation concerned, and ere this something should have been done about it. In regard to the figures cited, it is obvious that the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) was woefully misinformed. During 1948, when I had the pleasure and honour of leading a delegation to Japan, I went through Kure, where the existence of this tragedy was obvious to all. I remind the House that allied forces other than Australians were located there, and that there are difficulties in identifying those responsible. I think we can take it from the survey made by a responsible newspaper in New South Wales that there are 1,000 mothers and children who probably are the offspring of Australian ex-servicemen. Not all of the children are illegitimate. In quite a number of cases the women are the wives of Australian servicemen, either according to a Shinto ceremony or by Christian marriage, whose husbands have left for Australia with some promise to return. The women have been left with the children. If the Minister will look at a series of pictures in the Sydney magazine “ Pix “, he will see the evidence of the genesis of these children in front of his own eyes. The photographs show the characteristic appearance of young Australians who are halfcastes. There is an unmistakable mark of the sire upon them, if I may say so, and it is a tragic thing.

I merely rose to correct the statement that the honorable member for East Sydney had overdrawn the picture. He was completely moderate. I have been touched by this problem and thought it better perhaps to wait until we had some information on what the churches were doing about it, because the Commonwealth appeared to have ducked the issue altogether. I am pleased to hear that one of the guardians of this party, the honorable member for East Sydney, as long as eight months ago asked a question on this matter.

Mr Osborne:

– Is he a guardian of the Labour party?


– I could reply to the Minister for Air with a wisecrack, but this is a serious matter and one of great poignancy. I do not think the figures are exaggerated. I freely admit that the figure of 1,000 includes not only illegitimate children but also deserted wives. These matters have been attended to better in Japan by other allied countries than by Australia. Complete responsibility should be taken by the Commonwealth of Australia. If the Government wishes to build goodwill in Asia it can build it on other things than trade treaties. Because of the queer psychological difficulty that arises in connexion with children who have been born in such circumstances, this matter ought to be handled on the basis of Christian ethics and charity. There are two ways in which it can be handled. It may be left to the churches and missions in Japan if they are financed; or the Government could attend to it by asking a group of interested people - the church missionaries and welfare workers and those who are able to understand these problems - to give a general report. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) could consider the report so that the facts which have been challenged in this House may be stated irrefutably. After considering the report we could then move forward to some sort of arrangement. The Government should remember that the women in this situation have rights as well as the children, and the idea of putting the children into an orphanage or leaving them in Japan, may not be the answer to the problem.

When I was in Norway shortly after the war, I found that a problem had arisen there from one of the crueller sides of the Hitler regime - the invasion of Norway and the mass raping of the women there which was referred to by a Minister of Hitler’s regime as creating a new German

Reich in Norway. After the war there were 700 illegitimate children who were the sons and daughters of German stormtroopers. The Norwegians, who are patriotic people and a source race of civilization in this country, did not hesitate for six months. They made the children Norwegian citizens, and as soon as they were able to leave the care of various hostels and hospitals in which they had been placed the Norwegians had them adopted abroad or integrated into the Norwegian community. That is an example of Christian forebearance, dignity and self-sacrifice which we could well emulate.

Minister for the Army · Bennelong · LP

– This is the kind of subject that calls for the sympathy of most people. There were two occasions in recent years, one nearly two years ago, when this very matter was raised by an ex-member of the Army. At that time, the Army organization made a complete investigation of the charges. While I have not the exact figures at this moment I can say, in general terms, that the charges made by the ex-member of the Army were completely fictitious. That is on record on Army files.

Mr Haylen:

– You did not ask the Army to investigate this matter also, did you?


– Yes; but that investigation came later. Figures were given by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) in relation to this matter. Again, on this occasion - I do not know just how - in some way the emotions of the people are being stirred upon this matter. Certain figures were stated by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) to-night. I do not believe that the figures stated in the newspaper were accurate, nor do I believe that the honorable member for East Sydney has stated figures that can be backed by any information that is available to Australia at the present time. That is not to say that these tragedies have not occurred. Of course they have occurred. They have occurred throughout the world, in every nation while ever there has been war and while ever troops have gone into foreign countries. It has happened everywhere. Australians, I remind the honorable member for East Sydney, were not the only troops in Japan. Of course tragedies have been left behind - these kinds of tragedies occur in war-time-

There are other nationals who are no doubt responsible, too. The difficulty is the question of identification if this matter is taken up by one nation. I believe that it is of sufficient importance for a section of the United Nations to investigate, but it is not something that can be taken up and dealt with by one nation in isolation. I believe that, in common humanity, everything that can be done should be done for these unfortunate people. I am quite sure the Government itself would lend its aid if the matter were taken up in a properly organized manner, but matters such as this cannot be dealt with by simply stirring the emotions of the people in the way in which the honorable member for East Sydney has attempted to do. He has given figures which are not factual. They cannot be proved. Since this matter has been raised again, I have given instructions for a further check to be made upon the information we already have. We have authentic information in relation to this matter.

Mr Ward:

– How many are there?


– I am not prepared to say at the moment. I am not in the habit of quoting figures unless I am certain of them, and I have not my files in front of me. But the figure is nothing like that quoted by the honorable member for East Sydney. The number was not calculated to be 1,000. It was something under 100. I do know it was very small.

Opposition Members. - No


– I am speaking now about identifiable cases. Possibly there are others. Various organizations are working in this field. I know the churches have done a very good job in this direction. They are to be complimented upon the work they are doing. They should get all possible assistance in connexion with it. But to take the matter up in the way that has been suggested by the honorable member for East Sydney is not the way in which to deal with a question such as this if it is to be dealt with effectively, properly and with the proper human approach.


– I must congratulate the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) for once again being the one who has come into this place to defend the underprivileged and the people who have been neglected by this Government. Usually, the honorable gentleman has a full-time task in looking after the under-privileged and others who have not got justice in this country. Now, we find that in another country this Government, which has so much to say about foreign affairs and good relations with other nations, has sadly, indeed criminally neglected its duty in relation to one of the most pressing problems that I suppose could confront any country.

The Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) has adopted the usual tactics in replying to the honorable member for East Sydney. Possibly, he learned them from the former Vice-President of the Executive Council, Sir Eric Harrison, who used to do the same thing. Whenever the Government is confronted with a sticky problem such as this, honorable members on the Government side come in and say, “ This is a grave reflection on Australian ex-servicemen “. In other words, if we tell the people about something that has happened, we are casting a grave reflection. Whether or not it is a reflection is for the Minister to say.

The fact is that everything that the honorable member for East Sydney has said is perfectly true. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) has admitted that there have been illegitimate children born to Japanese women in Japan whose fathers are Australian ex-servicemen. If, as the Minister says, it is a reflection on Australian exservicemen, I emphasize that they are his words, not ours. The facts, as stated by the honorable member for East Sydney, cannot be denied.

Now we find that the Minister is so disinterested in this matter that he is no longer in his place in the chamber. The Minister himself has admitted here to-night that there are some children in Japan who are the illegitimate children of Australian exservicemen. Even if there were only one, he is still confronted with the question put to him by the honorable member for East Sydney. The question is: What does he intend to do about that one, or that 40, or that 100, whatever the number may be? What is he doing about them? The answer is that he is doing absolutely nothing at all.

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay:

Order! I ask the Minister for the Army to refrain from engaging in a discussion in the diplomatic gallery. He is out of order.


– I discover now that the Minister for the Army, instead of being in his place listening to what I have to say, is in the diplomatic corner “ squaring off” to the representatives of Japan, who will not be impressed by whatever he has said to them during the last five minutes. The people who represent Japan in this country, and who are sitting in the ambassadorial corner of the House, want action from the Minister, not a lot of glib promises, not a lot of talk about what the Government is going to do and what it has already done. What the Japanese and the people of Australia want to be told by the Government is what it proposes to do about the children whom the Minister admits are the sons and daughters of Australian ex-servicemen.

The Minister for the Army refers to Army files and argues about the number of illegitimate children. He says it is not as great as the honorable member for East Sydney has stated. He is forced to admit that what the honorable member for East Sydney has said is true in substance, but he is haggling now as to whether 1,000 or 999 are affected. Fancy this Minister talking about Army files! I recollect an occasion when I brought to his notice in this Parliament a complaint from an exserviceman. I told the Parliament then that I knew I was wasting my time in bringing to this Parliament the complaint of an exserviceman. I told the Parliament then that I knew that all that would happen would be that the Minister would go to the Army and ask for a report from the people against whom the charge was levelled. That is precisely what he did. After months and months of delay, he went to the Army authorities against whom the charge was levelled and said, “ Please, sirs, is what Clyde Cameron says about you in Parliament true? “. They waited for months and at last prepared a report in which they said, “ My dear Minister, we are pleased to advise you that what Clyde Cameron said about us is not true “. Whereupon the Minister sat down and wrote a letter to me saying, “ The charges that you made are not true. The Army has investigated the matter. After calling for a report from the people who were really guilty, those guilty persons have assured me that they are not guilty, and therefore the poor sergeant against whom the injustice was committed is actually a liar and is suffering some hallucination.”

The Minister complained that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is stirring up the emotions of the people of Australia on this matter. Of course he is stirring up the emotions of the people of Australia! It is to the credit of the people of Australia that they are capable of being stirred on a matter such as this. It is to the eternal credit of the people of Australia that their emotions are moved by this terrible tragedy that is happening in Japan. What the Government must remember is that these little children are entitled to have some protection, some safeguards against the inevitable consequences of the poverty from which they are now suffering. This Government can spend millions and millions of pounds in creating more weapons for destruction and upon atomic explosions but it cannot find the miserable pittance that will be necessary to maintain these little children who aTe our responsibility, regardless of whether the Minister likes to admit it.

Mr Osborne:

– Whose responsibility is it?


– It is the responsibility of this nation.

Mr Osborne:

– For all of them?


– I do not know whether you were in Japan. I am saying it is the responsibility of this nation generally. If they are your responsibility, then you can bear your share of it. I am merely saying that if the people who are really responsible will not take action individually - and I am not being personal here - then the nation as a whole ought to do so.

The Minister for the Army says it is nothing, that whenever there is a war there are always thousands of illegitimate children in the country.

Mr Cramer:

– I did not say that at all.


– You did. This is an aftermath of war, but the Government is denying any knowledge of it. There are always illegitimate children in countries which are invaded by foreign troops.

Mr Osborne:

– I wish to make a personal explanation.


– Order! The Minister is out of order. He will resume his seat.


-It would seem, from the Minister’s remarks, that because such a situation always happens whenever foreign troops invade countries it is quite all right for us to do the same thing. If that is the standard of his morals, he is welcome to them. It is not the standard which the Opposition puts forward. We say that two wrongs do not make a right, and even if this situation has occurred before there is no reason why Australia as a nation should have its good name tarnished in the eyes of the Asian people by failing to care properly for the little children who are rightly our responsibility as a nation. Finally, the Minister said, “ I believe that the United Nations should investigate this matter “. But the honorable member for East Sydney brought it under his notice eight months ago! The Minister only pretends to believe that the United Nations should investigate the matter, because although the honorable member for East Sydney brought it to his notice eight months ago he has done absolutely nothing to give effect to what he says he believes the United Nations should do. Has the Government sent a communication to the United Nations requesting it to do something for these children? Of course it has not! Does it intend to do so? Of course it does not! If it did send such a communication, would the Australian representative at the United Nations do anything to support the request? Of course not!

The Government, on this particular issue, has been exposed, as it has been exposed on previous issues, as a Government which talks glibly about the rights of our own and other people, but which when put to the acid test of applying some practical remedy, does absolutely nothing.

Minister for Air · Evans · LP

– A moment ago, Mr. Speaker, I rose to my feet, not in a somewhat lighter moment, seeking to make a personal explanation. The background of that was a remark of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), addressed to me personally, to the effect that he did not know whether I had any responsibility in the matter, and I want to assure him that I have never-


– I still do not know.

Opposition members interjecting,


– Order! I must ask the House to come to order. Interjections are disorderly.


– You have ruled, sir - and if I may say so with respect, correctly ruled - that the interjections of the honorable member for Hindmarsh are out of order; but he has again indicated that he is in doubt. He has said that he does not know whether I have any responsibility. I want to set his mind at rest. He has said that he does not know whether I personally have any responsibility for the matter he has been mentioning.


– Can you prove that you have not?


– I think so. I want to assure the honorable member - and I believe he asked me in advance whether I could prove it - that I have proof. I think that the administrative machinery governing the movements of people by the issuing of passports goes back far enough to establish these things firmly and absolutely. I think, sir, that I can prove, even to the satisfaction of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, that I have never been to Japan.


– Is that the only reason you are not guilty?


– This is all very amusing! It happens that I can establish that I have never been to Japan; but what about every Australian serviceman who has served in Japan since Australian forces first went there?


– In other words, you did not have the opportunity.


- Mr. Speaker, I am speaking about a serious matter. The honorable member’s reflections on me personally happen to funny, but his reflections on Australian servicemen as a whole are not funny. All the Opposition members present are laughing. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is laughing loudest of all. He never served in Japan. He did not serve in the Australian forces, so far as I am aware, at any time that service abroad happened to involve discomfort or danger.

It has taken me some time to produce in the House an atmosphere of seriousness about this matter. What I am trying to point out is that the reflections of the honorable member for Hindmarsh on me personally are funny and I am able to disprove them, but when reflections are made on all the Australian servicemen who served in Japan it is a different matter. These accusations about the paternity of illegitimate children in Japan are being bandied about on the Opposition side with very great freedom to-night, and if an impartial observer came in here with no knowledge of the capacity of the Opposition for exaggeration, and with no knowledge of the complete absence of restraint on the part of honorable members opposite about the things they will use for poltical purposes, what would he think? If the wife of a serviceman who served in Japan in the Australian forces came in here to-night, she legitimately could draw the conclusion that the whole of the Opposition believed that every Australian serviceman who served in Japan was nothing but a complete libertine.

Opposition members interjecting,


– Honorable members opposite may laugh, but I am not now being funny about this matter. The Opposition has had its fun to-night and I have joined in it, but this is serious. We all know that one of the consequences of war is a relaxation of the moral standards of the people who are involved in it. We all know that war leaves in its train awful, pathetic and unhappy personal consequences. These are not subjects for joking, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh has joked. I am not aware that the honorable member has himself made much contribution to avoidance of the sort of conditions of which he complained. The honorable member for East Sydney sits there and laughs when this matter is talked about, but I am not aware that he has much personal knowledge of the kind of situation in which the matters of which he complained are likely to occur. I do not know that the honorable members for Hindmarsh and East Sydney are the best qualified members on their side of the House to speak about these things.I think that there are people better qualified to speak about the consequences of war than either of them.

What I want to tell the House is this: I have seen to-night, engendered by the honorable member for East Sydney and supported by the honorable member for

Hindmarsh, an attempt toland on the side of the Government responsibility for inattention to and neglect of, the welfare of a large number of illegitimate children in Japan.

Mr Ward:

– To whom do you suggest the responsibility belongs?


– In defence of Australian servicemen, I ask, “ How many servicemen of Allied nations served in Japan in post-war years? What was the total number, including Americans and United Kingdom forces? How many servicemen did those other nations have in Japan in the relevant years, and how many did Australia have? “ It would be easy to work out the proportion of Australian servicemen to Allied servicemen. What was that proportion? I suggest that it was small.

On the evidence of some photographs in a notoriously irresponsible weekly journal in New South Wales, apparently the Opposition is prepared to believe that all these unfortunate illegitimate children are the children of Australian servicemen. I ask you, sir, and I ask the House to consider the implications of this charge. Is the Australian so much more of a libertine than is the Englishman, the Scot or the American? Is he so much worse than everybody else? I think we ought to think about these things before we make charges of this kind.

Mr Cairns:

Mr. Cairns interjecting,


- Mr. Speaker, did you hear that remark?


– Order! What was the remark?


– I believe that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) said, “ I think you are intoxicated “.


– Order! The Minister will resume his seat. Did the honorable member for Yarra make that remark?

Mr Cairns:

– Yes, Mr. Speaker.


– Then you will withdraw it.

Mr Cairns:

– I shall withdraw it.


– It is not the first time in the experience of this House that charges of this sort have been made by Opposition members as part of their tactics to destroy the credit of the Government. The honorable member for Yarra has not been the first honorable member opposite to make such a charge, and from my experience of human nature I do not expect this will be the last time such tactics will be employed. The Opposition has been quite ready to believe that all the misfortunes of war in Japan are attributable to Australian servicemen. I do not believe that to be the case. Honorable members opposite, particularly the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Hindmarsh, would be well advised to reflect on the fact that the Australian serviceman, in all theatres of war, has established for himself a reputation for decency, gallant behaviour and proper respect for women and children.


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

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 11.1 p.m.

page 180


The following answers to questions were circulated: -

Overseas Freights

Mr Duthie:

e asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -

  1. What was the extra annual cost to Australian producers and exporters when overseas freight rates were increased by 7½ per cent.?
  2. What will be the extra annual cost as a result of the 14 per cent. increase?
  3. What would be the added cost involved in a 5 per cent. increase?
Mr McEwen:

– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -

The freight increases referred to applied only to exports to the United Kingdom and Europe, and affected only those commodities classified as liner cargo. Certain important cargoes such as wheat, sugar, coarse grains and ores and concentrates not classified as liner cargoes are shipped at rates which are related to the prevailing rates for charter tonnage. Subject to these considerations and assuming the level and composition of cargo for 1955-56 to be common to all of the years concerned the following estimates have been made of the increase in the total freight bill attributable to the increases in the various rates of freight: -

September, 1953 - 7½ per cent. rise, annual increase £A. 1,850,000; October, 1955 - 7½ per cent., annual increase £A.1,990,000.

February, 1957 - 14 per cent. rise, annual increase £A .3 ,960,000.

Further 5 per cent. rise, annual increase £A.l, 610,000.

No estimate has been made of how much of the freight increases referred to has been borne by the Australian exporter or producer and how much has been borne by the importer in the overseas country.

Mr. Laszlo Megay

Mr Ward:

d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -

  1. Has his department received information regarding a Mr. Laszlo Megay, now resident in Australia, who is alleged to have been guilty of a number of grave offences in Hungary when a resident of that country?
  2. If so, what action has been taken to ascertain whether these allegations have any basis?
Mr Townley:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. Some time ago, a letter published in a New York Hungarian periodical, named “ Az Ember “, was brought under the notice of my department. This letter dealt with the alleged conduct of Mr. Megay when he held the position of town mayor of Ungvar, Hungary. Mr. Megay left Hungary in 1945.
  2. Full inquiries have been made in regard to the allegations contained in that article. These inquiries revealed no evidence to support the allegations made. Mr. Megay was cleared by the War Crimes Commission in 1947.

Number of Pensioners


olt asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -

  1. What is the number of (a) females aged 60 years and over and (b) males aged 65 years and over?
  2. What is the total number of persons in receipt of the full age and invalid pensions, showing separately females, males, married couples and unmarried persons?
  3. What is the number of age and invalid pensioners in receipt of (a) the maximum permissible income, (b) half or more than half the maximum permissible income, and(c) less than half the maximum permissible income?
Mr Roberton:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. The latest distribution of the Australian population published by the Commonwealth Statistician is that for 30th June, 1956. It is estimated that at that date there were in Australia 641,266 women aged 60 years or more and 353,039 men aged 65 years or more.
  2. On 30th June, 1957, there were 554,017 age and invalid pensioners, of whom 343,286 were women and 210,731 were men. Of the total pensioners, 455,551, or 82.25 per cent., received a pension of £4 a week or more. An analysis of age and invalid pensioners by sex, conjugal condition and the rate of pension is not available. However, a sample survey undertaken in Victoria early in 1956 indicates that almost two-thirds of age pensioners are single, widowed or divorced.
  3. It is regretted that it is not possible to supply this information. Income within the limits referred to does not, of course, affect the rate of pension.

Fisheries Development Trust Account

Mr Cairns:

s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -

  1. Is it likely that any money from the Fisheries Development Trust Account will be made available to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization?
  2. Will the organization be required to investigate projects for which assistance has been sought from the trust?
  3. In cases where the Government undertakes fishing establishments, as was done with whaling, is it the intention of the Government to sell such establishments to private enterprise?
  4. How many major projects are at present being investigated for assistance from the trust?
  5. What type of fishing and what parts of Australia are involved in these major projects?
  6. How many persons or businesses have been refused financial assistance from the trust?
Mr McMahon:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. It is not proposed that the Fisheries Development Trust Account will be used to pay for work which would be carried out by government departments or organizations as part of their normal functions. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization or other organizations could, however, be reimbursed from the fund the cost of any special work specifically undertaken in relation to a particular developmental project.
  2. Development activities involve co-operation between the Fisheries Divisions of the Department of Primary Industry and of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The technical knowledge and experience of both these divisions is freely available to the Developmental Advisory Committee through their respective representatives on that body. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has agreed in addition to undertake any further basic scientific research needed in respect of any project under consideration.
  3. The Government does not consider it a proper function to engage in commercial enterprise as an end in itself but only as a means of demonstrating development opportunities to encourage private investment in new fields. The Government intends to withdraw its investment in any new project once it has been soundly established and Australian interests have demonstrated their capacity and willingness to continue the development.
  4. Four major projects are at present being investigated.
  5. After considerable investigation arrangements are in train to develop a trawling project in the Great Australian Bight. A survey of prawn resources is at present being conducted off the east coast. This survey proved very successful in its initial stages when a large and valuable ground was discovered in an area of approximately 750 square miles eastwards from Fraser Island. A report on the economic survey of the tuna industry on the south-east coast of New South Wales has been prepared for consideration by the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee, and the expansion of this fishery could be significant for the States of New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia. The first phase of a survey of pilchard resources off the New South Wales coast has been completed and the second phase will commence in December. This survey, which is designed to prove whether pilchards can be taken in commercial quantities, is operating in waters where large occurrences of pilchards were reported by Stale authorities and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization during scientific investigations.
  6. Thirty-four formal applications for financial assistance have been rejected as unsuitable propositions. Some other tentative inquiries have not been encouraged owing to the nature of the proposals mooted.

Import Licences for Aluminium

Mr Barnard:

d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -

  1. How many licences were issued during 1954, 1955 and 1956 by his department for the purpose of importing aluminium into Australia?
  2. What number has been issued to date during 1957?
  3. What is the value of those imports?
  4. How much of the expenditure involves the use of dollars?
  5. How many tons of aluminium will be imported into Australia during 1957 under licences that have been or are about to be issued?
  6. From what countries will the aluminium be imported?
Mr McEwen:

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -

  1. The number of licences issued in 1954, 1955 and 1956 for aluminium imports is not available. However, imports in the last three years have been: -
  1. In the period January-June, 1957, twelve licences have been issued for importation of aluminium ingots.
  2. The value of these licences (which probably have not yet all been used to import because of the “ time lag “ between licence issue and importation) is £848,199 c.i.f. & e. The actual recorded f.o.b. value of imports against these licences will subsequently be considerably less than £848,199 c.i.f. & e., as this value includes a substantial element for freight and insurance.
  3. Licences to the value of £715,199 c.i.f. & e. out of the £848,199 c.i.f. & e. have been issued against dollar area countries.
  4. I am unable to precisely answer this question because it is impossible to predict the value of licences which will be issued in future periods. However, imports in January-June, 1957, were 4,933 tons, valued at £1,291,305. Should this rate be maintained, imports for 1957 would be 9,866 tons, valued at £2,582,610.
  5. Imports during January-June, 1957, have been from the following countries: -

It could be expected that the balance of imports to be made during 1957 would come from the same sources.

Standardization of Railway Guages

Mr Russell:

l asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -

What recent action has been taken by the Government in association with the Government of South Australia for the standardization of the railway from Port Pirie to Broken Hill, and the standardization of the spur line on that route?

Mr Townley:

– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has furnished the following reply: -

Some discussions have taken place between the Commonwealth and South Australia on the question of the standardization of the railway from Port Pirie to Broken Hill and the spur line on that route, but no decisions have as yet been made.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 August 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.