23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– The Prime Minister, on his doctor’s advice, is still confined to bed. The doctor will be seeing him again to-morrow morning to decide whether he is fit enough to resume his duties. I am sure that in the meantime we send him our best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Dr. EVATT presented a petition from 4,700 citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Government make provision by means of a referendum for the alteration of certain sections of the Constitution which relates to the aboriginal people of Australia.
Petition received and read.
Petitions in similar terms were presented as follows: -
By Mr. BRYANT from 465 citizens of the Commonwealth.
By Mr. REYNOLDS from 1,260 citizens of the Commonwealth.
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs on a subject about which he was questioned last week. Has the Minister made arrangements yet to report to the Parliament on his recent mission to South-East Asia and elsewhere, including the conference of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization?
– Yes, Sir, I hope to make a statement to the House on Thursday afternoon on the subject of the Seato Conference and also the meeting of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East at Broadbeach. I shall also refer to my recent trip to Japan and South Korea; all under the heading of Australian relationships with Asian countries.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer concerning a question I asked the Prime Minister recently about the dismissal of partially disabled ex-servicemen from the staff of the Repatriation Department. In a written reply, the Prime Minister stated -
The Public Service Board has informed me that three temporary employees in the Hobart branch of the Repatriation Department have been given notice of retrenchment. . . It is true that these employees are being replaced by qualified junior staff recently recruited to the Commonwealth Service. . . In applying this policy, the practice is to keep the retrenchment or downgrading of longer term ex-service temporaries to a minimum, but it is inevitable that some displacement of unqualified temporary employees will occur from time to time.
I ask the Treasurer to request the Public Service Board to explain how it reconciles this statement with the fact that two of the men dismissed have already been re-engaged by another Commonwealth Department, namely the Postmaster.General’s Department. Will the Treasurer further request the Public Service Board to cease dismissing men who are fully trained in the specialist job of interviewing ex-servicemen, and who will be replaced in the normal event upon retirement?
– I shall bring the queries and comments of the honorable member to the notice of the chairman of the Public Service Board. I am sure he will be glad to supply written comment on the queries raised, which may perhaps clarify this matter for the honorable member and other members of the Parliament.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the price of beef has risen steadily during the past three months because of heavy export of lean beef to the United States of America? Is it also a fact that the price of beef has risen by about 12s. 6d. a week to the average householder as a result of this frantic export drive which the Minister personally condemned some days ago? Will the Minister direct the Department of Primary Industry to submit figures to the Commonwealth Statistician showing this alarming increase in the cost of living occasioned bv the export of beef on an unparalleled scale, so that it may be included in the next quarterly adjustment of the basic wage? Will the Minister then take steps to persuade the Government that these adjustments should no longer be frozen, but made available immediately to the Australian people?
– There has been an increase in the price of first-grade beef sent to the United Kingdom. Since December, there have been no bounty payments made to producers out of moneys received from the United Kingdom under the fifteen-years meat agreement. There has been available to Australia also the boneless beef market in the United States of Amenca to which the honorable member has referred. I do not know whether the honorable member is suggesting that 1 should discourage the export of meat to that quarter, because I think it is a very welcome market. 1 do not know whether this trade has affected household budgets to the extent that the honorable member has suggested, because I have not taken out the figures; but I expect to receive a report on the American market from the chairman of the Australian Meat Board who has just returned to Australia. Perhaps, I will be able to say more about th-it matter then.
On the question of exports to the United States of America, the only warning I gave, and I repeat it. is that if we want to retain the United Kingdom market - and it is worth retaining - then we ought not to take advantage of a temporary market, although it is so advantageous to our economy for so many reasons, by killing of our breeders, and perhaps reducing our available supplies.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act will expire on 30th June. 1959. If so, does the Government propose to review this legislation, either in its present form or in some ? mended form? When can it be expected that the Government’s decision will be announced?
– It is a fact that this legislation will expire on the date men Honed bv the honorable member, and that, in the absence of any extending legis lation, bounty would not be payable on gold produced after that date. Consideration is now being given to the question whether the legislation should be extended or amended. If the legislation is to be extended, it will be necessary for the appropriate measure to be brought down during this sessional period. The honorable member can expect that an announcement will be made within the next week or so.
– J n the absence of the Prime Minister, I ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that shortly before the last election an announcement was made on behalf of the Government of its intention to set up in Canberra a University of Canberra, distinct from the Australian National University, for undergraduates? Is this announced plan being proceeded with, and has Cabinet recently discussed or caused to be discussed the administrative steps necessary to establish such a university?
– I am not able to speak on this subject with very much authority, but I can tell the honorable gentleman that this is one of the matters which I know the Prime Minister was hoping to have disposed of by Cabinet before his departure for overseas. Whether that will bc possible with the Prime Minister present, or whether he will have the matter dealt with by Cabinet in his absence, is yet to be determined. I know that it has been receiving a good deal of attention in the Prime Minister’s Department and that a decision can be expected quite shortly.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. I preface it by saying that we know the Minister always shows an intense interest in the establishment of closer relations between Australia and the Asian countries, and that to this end arrangements have been made for Asian journalists to visit Australia. Has the Minister any information to give the House with regard to the success or otherwise of these planned visits?
– Yes. There is at this moment in Australia - I think in Canberra - a group of five visiting Asian journalists. They have come here at the invitation of the Australian Government. This, I think, is about the tenth or eleventh group of Asian journalists to be invited to Australia. The gentlemen at present here are from Indonesia, North Borneo. Thailand, Burma and the Republic of Korea. I think a total of between 60 and 70 Asian journalists have visited Australia in the last two years or so. The present visit has been quite a comprehensive one. The group has visited Darwin and its vicinity, Alice Springs and surrounding areas, Adelaide and parts of South Australia, Melbourne, Yallourn and the brown coal deposits, Canberra and the Snowy Mountains scheme, Sydney and surroundings, and Brisbane. All this has been done within a relatively few weeks. I believe that these visits of Asian journalists are amongst the most valuable pieces of machinery - calling them that - that we have for the promotion of better relations between Australia and our Asian neighbours.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry, with reference to ex-servicemen settlers on King Island. In view of the grave concern being felt in many quarters in relation to the economic difficulties at present being experienced by the majority of the 160-odd ex-servicemen settlers on the island, will the Minister inform the House of the text of the new agreement reached in Hobart last week between Commonwealth and State authorities with a view to meeting this situation? Further, if the Minister has an opportunity of reviewing this agreement, will the Government give serious consideration either to wholly freezing repayments, including rentals and other commitments, or to reducing substantially these yearly charges until the economic crisis on the island has been overcome?
– In respect of these ex-servicemen, there are some difficulties which are, in effect, outside the jurisdiction of my department, but I asked the Director of War Service Land Settlement to visit the area in order to see to what degree we could assist. He has returned, but I have not as yet received his report. When I do, I may be able to give the honorable member some more information.
– Will the Attorney-General state whether it is the intention of the Government, in order to prevent future attacks upon members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, to take action in respect of a grossly improper attack on Mr. Justice Foster, as a member of the commission, which appeared in the “ Seamen’s Journal “ of September last?
– I am familiar with the article to which the honorable member refers, and I should be very grateful if he would lend it to me for a moment, as I have no copy. This article was brought to the attention of my predecessor and was sent by him to counsel for opinion as to whether it was in breach of section 182 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. At the time I came into office, that opinion had not reached the department. I have since received it and it is to the effect that this article did constitute a breach of the act. I propose to read the article because, at this - in my view - late time, the article being dated September last year, I ought not to take action against the author and the editor of the paper. It is necessary for me to read the article in order to make plain the full reasons why I do not propose at this stage to take any proceedings. The part of the article which matters is in the following terms: -
Judge Foster is a mouthpiece of the Menzies Government; he is appointed by the Menzies Government, he is employed by the Menzies Government, just the same as you are by the shipowners.
This is addressed to the seamen. It continues -
The Menzies Government can sack him - it is unlikely they will, but if they do he will have to struggle along on a pension of about £40 a week. But he is the mouthpiece of the Government and has publicly declared from the Bench that if the left-wing officials of the Seamen’s union do not bring disputes to him he hopes the seamen themselves from the ships will take the disputes to him.
And a lot of seamen say to the members of the C.O.M. - “Look, you are wrong about this dispute, why don’t you take it along to Justice Foster, he’ll fix it up for us.”
Well, we had this experience.
Although, to my mind, and to the mind of the counsel to whom the matter was sent, these expressions constitute a breach of this act, I feel that action to protect a court should always be swift and unequivocal. At this point of time it seems to me not appropriate that I should take steps, particularly in the light of the childishness of the article. I am quite sure that no one in his right senses would take much heed of the assertion that Judge Foster was the mouthpiece of this Government and could be sacked by this Government at will. The folly of this assertion assists me to my conclusion that I should do nothing at this time.
But it is not inappropriate, as I am on my feet, to say that this article is part and parcel of a deliberate and consistent attack by Communist-led unions to bring our institutions into disrepute, and in particular the arbitration system. I can quite understand that the success of this system is galling to people who would like to disrupt it and who are, in truth, enemies of industrial peace. I would not like them to think that my attitude at this time in not prosecuting on this occasion is any indication of softness, because in all appropriate cases I will not hesitate, where I can move swiftly and unequivocally, to take full and strong action.
– No doubt the Minister for Health is aware of the influenza epidemic which is sweeping Australia at the present time. I ask the Minister: Is this type of influenza related in any way to that which recently swept through the United Kingdom with such dire results? Is it highly contagious? Finally, what steps, if any, are being taken to issue a warning to the general public to avoid contact with any person so affected?
– Quite a number of cases of influenza are occurring in Australia at the present time, as well as, I have no doubt, a great many other cases of similar coryzal infections which are not truly influenza but are regarded by most people as being influenza. So far as
I know, there are no serious cases of influenza disease occurring in Australia. As far as the question of issuing a warning is concerned-
– ls it contagious?
– It is infectious, like all these diseases, including the common cold. I hardly think that the severity of the present outbreak is such as to merit a public warning.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Because of the widespread public interest in the Richardson report and last Sunday evening’s “ Meet the Press “ interview in Melbourne with the Treasurer, could the Minister say whether it would be possible for a tele-recording of this interview to be shown in Sydney - it is unfortunate that it cannot be shown in other States also - so that a wider section of the Australian public might obtain the benefit of a clarification which was undoubtedly appreciated by Victorians?
– I regret that I, personally, was not able to see the telecast to which the honorable member refers. But. Mr. Speaker, to-day I have heard reports of this programme which indicate to me that the Treasurer did a magnificent task in expounding and explaining the actions taken by this Government. As a result I think he merits the thanks of honorable members on both sides of the House.
The honorable member asks whether it would be possible to have this telerecording repeated over commercial stations in Sydney. I regret to inform him that it is not within my power to instruct the commercial television stations to take such action in a matter of this kind. But I certainly say, in all seriousness, that if they did so, it would be a very good idea.
– I ask the Treasurer a question without notice. Now that the Government’s banking legislation has passed both Houses of this Parliament, and the Commonwealth Bank, established in 1911 by the Fisher Labour Government, is about to be dismembered according to plan, does the Government intend to call for applications for the position of chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation Board? If so, what are to be the salary and terms relating to that appointment? If the Government does not intend to call for applications, how does it intend to fill the position? Is there any truth in the suggestion that the position will not be offered to the former Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, but will be offered to the honorable member for Wentworth, who is trusted by the private banks and is about the only person upon whom the private banks can rely to destroy completely and to bury the people’s bank - the Commonwealth Bank - and its subsidiary bank, the Commonwealth Savings Bank?
– I think that we should appreciate the action of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in letting the public know that the legislation relating to banking reform has now passed both Houses of the Parliament, because, despite all the criticism that came from honorable gentlemen opposite, there was so little press or public interest in the final stages of the banking legislation that the event might have gone unnoticed had the honorable gentleman not brought the matter prominently before us on this occasion.
As to the consequential action flowing from the legislation, the very urgent items will be engaging the attention of Cabinet quite shortly, and when we go about that task we shall have in mind the very important basic objectives of the legislation, which are now enshrined in these terms - full employment, national development, and the security and stability of the Australian currency. The honorable gentleman can be assured that the choice to be made of personnel, whether it be the chairman or other members of the board, or executive officers, will be taken in a responsible spirit by the Government with those objectives in view.
– I ask the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization whether he has readily available any information about the latest treatment of wool whereby it can be made into garments of the non-iron or drip-dry type. Will the Minister obtain for the information of honorable members the latest information in the possession of the C.S.I. R.O. so that honorable members may study it and assist this very important industry by wearing non-iron, drip-dry woollen shirts instead of shirts made from a synthetic material, which at present they are forced to wear?
– Yes, indeed, I will see that the latest information on that subject - and I venture to say on all other related subjects - by which the qualities of wool have been improved is made available to honorable gentlemen.
– I ask the
Leader of the House whether a person who is known to be a member of the Communist Party is, by Government direction to the Public Service Board, disapproved for permanent appointment to the Public Service?
– I ask the honorable gentleman to put that question on the notice-paper. I have no personal knowledge that would enable me to give him a direct answer at this stage.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question without notice. Has the Government received any direct information, or is it aware, of the action of the Government of North Borneo in providing a gift of land on the slopes of Mount Kinabalu to be developed as a memorial to Australians who died in liberating North Borneo during World War II.? Is the Minister aware that the people of North Borneo, themselves, are raising the sum of £60,000 in order to develop this memorial national park? Has any such tribute been paid to our servicemen in any other country in which they have served? Will the Minister take action to express our very warm gratitude and deep appreciation to the Government and people of North Borneo for their gesture, if this has not already been done?
– Yes; I know about the. Mount Kinabalu project. Mount Kinabalu, which is a very well-known and very high mountain in North Borneo, is the site of a memorial to the British troops who died in the defence of North Borneo. I was informed of this by the Australian Commissioner in Singapore, Mr. McNicol, and I have seen the publicity given to the matter by Mr. John Padasian, a Colombo Plan student from North Borneo. The whole matter, on which I have considerable correspondence and information, is now being examined in my department. I can completely endorse what the honorable gentleman has said of the generosity of the North Borneo Government in this matter. I think that between 1,000 and 2,000 Australian troops lost their lives in Borneo, and we have every reason to be grateful to the Government of North Borneo for the action it has taken. I have not yet brought the matter to the notice of the Government, but I assure the honorable gentleman that I shall do so.
– I should like to preface my question to the Minister for Social Services by explaining this case a little. It is a very important one and I have been discussing it with the Department of Social Services over the last eight weeks. A constituent of mine sold his farm about four years ago for £6,000. This gentleman is 74 years of age. He has explained to the social service authorities that he paid his wife £1.500 of the £6,000. The department refused him a pension because it has estimated that he should still have £2,700 at the present time. This gentleman is living with his daughter and three children. His daughter’s husband is dying in a cancer hospital; he has no hope of recovery. Yet this man is supposed to have £2,700! If I am any judge of human nature, I do not think he has that many pence. Probably, he has nothing at all.
– Order! The honorable gentleman will ask his question.
– The question that I want to ask, and which I hope you will allow me to ask, Mr. Speaker, is: What right has the Minister, or the Department of Social Services, to say that a man who had £6,000 four years ago should still have £2,700 of it to-day? Is he supposed to keep tickets for everything that he buys? It is a downright disgrace to the social ser”oe system of this country. I am very sorry -~ have to raise this case here, but I have » - <»h it many times in the Minister’s office.
– The honorable member for West Sydney knows only too well that it has been my invariable practice never to discuss individual cases in the House of Representative or anywhere else, publicly. If the honorable member is seriously concerned about this particular case, I am quite prepared to discuss it with him. I am prepared to discuss any difficulties with any honorable member, but it would be a violation of the confidence that resides in me if I were to discuss private cases in public places.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister considered a court decision that the provision ensuring preference in employment for exservicemen under the Re-establishment and Employment Act is invalid? If so, what action is contemplated?
– The High Court of Australia has ruled on constitutional grounds that the Commonwealth has no general power to give preference in employment to ex-servicemen. But it is my hope - indeed, it is an expectation - that that will not affect the position of exservicemen in practice - for this reason: There must be a strong moral obligation on the part of employers to ensure that ex-servicemen are given preference as between two people of equal ability, and 1 feel sure that the majority of employers will accept that responsibility. So rar as the main problem is concerned, each of the State governments can exercise ite rights as to preference, and, in some States, there is in effect legislation which gives preference to ex-servicemen. In New South Wales, preference is given under the State Public Service Act. and, under one section of our own Commonwealth Public Service Act, ex-servicemen have preference when two people of equal ability are being considered. This law still applies.
I might mention to the honorable gentleman also that the Boyer committee reported on the problem of preference to ex-servicemen. That committee’s report is now being considered. In time, it will be referred to the Government for consideration and for decision. 1 do want to tell the honorable gentleman that it was a surprise to me that the Re-establishment and Employment Act was declared to be invalid. I repeat, as he knows, this is a constitutional matter related to the general problem of employment and does not relate to specific cases of people who have par.ticular disabilities. I hope, too, that private employers and public employers will accept a general responsibility to give preference to ex-servicemen in cases where there is competition between two men ot equal ability.
– I should like the indulgence of the House in order to supplement, on one point, the answer which the Minister for Labour and National Service has just given. Pending consideration of the Boyer report by the Cabinet, action is being taken, within the Commonwealth Government, to continue the preference practice on the part of the Public Service Board.
– I, too, desire to address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. If the directors of the late lamented Lustre Hosiery Limited, acting with a high sense of duty to the company’s staff and personnel, had set aside the sum of £47,000 for the special purpose of satisfying the long service leave entitlements of its employees, what rights would the receiver appointed by the Bank of New South Wales have to apply that £47,000 to :;ny purpose other than that for which it was originally intended?
– During last week, I wrote to the honorable member for Blaxland in reference to the case of Lustre Hosiery Limited, and I pointed out :o him that priority in the payment of debts, and particularly priority in the payment of debts relating to long service leave, was a matter for the New South W: les law, that it was governed by the New South Wales Companies Act, and therefore that the terms under which the receiver could pay any moneys to the Bank of New South Wales would be determined by the deed of appointment, by the New South Wales Companies Aci, or by the mortgage itself. ! sh:ill let the honorable gentleman from St. George have a copy of the letter that I have written to the honorable gentleman from Blaxland. I think that, in the meantime, it would be wise for him to take the matter up with the New South Wales Government, the Labour Council of New South Wales, or the trade union concerned, in order that action may be taken to obtain the maximum protection under the State law for the trade unionists involved, and particularly in respect of their rights in relation to long service leave and these funds.
– I should like to ask a question of the Minister for Territories. Is the Minister discomfited by the expressed intention of certain elected members to resign from the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea in protest against what they allege to be the undemocratic use of the official majority to enforce taxation laws without an independent inquiry? While these taxation proposals may or may not be justified, would not a public inquiry, instead of a departmental report, on such a contentious matter have done much to assuage local resentment and ill-will against the use of the bureaucratic bulldozer?
– Mr. Speaker. I do not admit the implication, contained in the last sentence of the honorable member’s question, that any bureaucratic bulldozer has been used and, with all respect to the honorable member. I think he is giving undue prominence to a departmental report. Two decisions have to be made by a government in a matter of this kind. In this case one was a decision that is eminently a policy decision for which the Government must take responsibility, and which the Government alone can make. That was a decision as to which course, among several courses open for the raising of revenue, should be adopted in the situation that was placed before the Government, that at the present time in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea the larger proportion of the revenues being raised locally is being raised by indirect taxation. The view taken by the Government - which I submit is a very sound view - is that indirect taxation falls inequitably on a community, whereas direct taxation falls more equitably, because it falls on those best able to bear it.
– Sometimes, not always.
– Well, in our estimation in these particular circumstances it does. Taking a policy decision for which the Government had responsibility, the Government decided not to make any farreaching changes in the raising of revenues in the Territory, but to reduce certain forms of indirect taxation and to replace them by direct taxation. That is a policy decision which the Government had to make, and I do not think any government could abdicate such a responsibility and share it with some public inquiry. In the making of that decision the departmental report to which the honorable member refers was only one small part among numerous pieces of evidence, of material, of argument, and of fact which were placed before the Cabinet. As to the temporary withdrawal of three members of the Legislative Council, that is a matter which, politically, is chiefly the concern of the Administrator, as President of the Legislative Council, and I think that the Administrator will be able, in that capacity, to cope with the particular political problem that has been set before him.
– May I, Mr. Speaker, preface a question to the Minister acting for the Prime Minister by saying that I have received correspondence from the secretaries of the Newcastle Secondary Teachers Association and the Newcastle Teachers Federation requesting the Government to make available a substantial emergency grant for public education? They also request that a committee similar to the Murray committee be set up to inquire into primary, secondary and technical education. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that recently, at a Premiers’ Conference, when requested to consider the establishment of a committee similar to the Murray committee to investigate primary, secondary and technical education, the Prime Minister admitted the existence of a problem in that field, and promised the Premiers that he would send written replies to them setting out the Government’s views on this question and the reasons for refusing to grant assistance? Have those letters been sent, and, if not, will the right honorable gentleman, when he sends them, make copies available to members of this House?
Finally, due to the obvious and urgent need to expand educational facilities, will the Government give early consideration to providing immediately, or in the next Budget, a substantial emergency grant for public education?
– The matter raised by the honorable gentleman was brought up at the last Premiers’ Conference by the Premier of Western Australia, I think. It was not discussed extensively at that time, but it is true, as the honorable member reminds us, that the Prime Minister undertook to convey by letter to the Premiers a general indication of the Commonwealth’s views. He has, of course, on other occasions stated our general attitude on this matter, and those statements would be available for perusal by the honorable gentleman if he wishes to see them. I shall have inquiries made to learn whether the letters have gone to the Premiers and whether the substance of them - presumably much the same letter was sent in each case - could be distributed amongst honorable members. The latter part of the question raises the consideration of financial as well as of general policy. I have no doubt that what the Prime Minister has indicated in his letter would have a bearing on that, but I will study what the honorable member has put when I have the leisure to do so.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral examine the decision of the High Court on the Re-establishment and Employment Act in relation to the War Service Homes Act and the War Service Land Settlement Agreements Act? If there is any doubt as to the validity of these acts, will he take early steps to see that the valuable rights of ex-servicemen provided under them are protected by some other means?
– I have read the judgment of the High Court and T have been able to study it to the point where I can tell the honorable member that it is my view that the decision does not bring into doubt either of the statutes to which he has referred. The basis of the court’s decision was this: The court rejected the idea that the preference provisions were enacted by way of reward to the soldier. Tt said that the provisions were enacted simply to enable the soldier to be re-established.
– It seems like a reward to the soldier.
– The court denied that and took the point of view that the act was merely a provision for reestablishment and that by 1955 the condition of the community was such that there was no call for legislation for re-establishment of ex-servicemen.
– What is the War Service Land Settlement Agreements Act?
– That would not be regarded as being an invasion, as the Re-establishment and Employment Act was, of the rights of other citizens. It seems to me that, consistently with this view, no question will arise as to the validity of the two statutes referred to.
– Last Wednesday, the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith directed a question to me regarding accommodation in this building. A proposal for additional accommodation has been considered by the House Committee. I feel that the 22 rooms occupied by the press would not meet the requirements of private members as a solution to our accommodation problems. The offices occupied by the press are serviced by the cleaning staff and messengers deliver certain papers. No record is kept of the cost of these services.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement on behalf of my colleague, the honorable member for Cunning* ham (Mr. Kearney) who, I claim, was misrepresented in last Friday’s edition of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. The newspaper gave the names of members of the House of Representatives who were absent when a certain division was taken, and mentioned that Mr. V. D. Kearney, M.P., was absent on business. This, of course, is not true. Mr. Kearney has leave of absence from the House because of a serious illness. I believe in the interests of fair play that the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ should print a retraction and give the facts. Honorable members can well imagine the impression gained by the electors of Cunningham on reading this statement in the newspaper. They would naturally conclude that Mr. Kearney should be at Canberra and not away on private business. I mention also that the parliamentary salary of the honorable member for Cunningham is his sole income.
– by leave- I crave the indulgence of the House to make a personal explanation. During the debate last week on the Ministers of State Bill, I was not in the chamber when the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) addressed the House. The honorable member dealt with an amendment concerning wage pegging which was moved in 1947. As reported on page 1246 of “ Hansard “, he said, referring to the Government parties -
After they had criticized, when in Opposition, the continuance of wage-pegging while there was an intention to adjust parliamentary allowances, Mr. Lang, who was the honorable member for Reid at the time, tested their sincerity by moving an amendment to provide that the act to adjust parliamentary allowances should not commence to operate until the day that the wage-pegging regulations were repealed. That amendment was lost.
Up to that stage, the honorable member’s statement is absolutely correct. He continued -
The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), the present Treasurer, the present Prime Minister, the present honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) voted against the amendment.
That portion of the honorable member’s statement is completely untrue. I refer the House to the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Representatives, No. 64, of Wednesday, 4th June, 1947. Page 229 shows that the proceedings continued after midnight and that in the early hours of 5th June. Mr. Lang, then the member for Reid, moved as an amendment -
That the words “ on the first day of July One thousand nine hundred and forty-seven “ (lines 21 and 22) be omitted and the following words inserted in place thereof: - “ from the day thai the wage-pegging regulations are repealed “.
The question put was -
That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause.
There were 39 ayes, including 30 members of the Australian Labour Party, which was then in office, and fourteen noes, including myself, the present Treasurer, the present
Prime Minister and the present member for Mallee. I draw the attention of the House to the rather strange fact that on that occasion, as was the case last week, the name of the honorable member for East Sydney was missing, as the Votes and Proceedings will show.
Bill returned from the Senate, without amendment.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Although the bill before the House is the Australian Universities Commission Bill, the Education Bill 1959, which follows immediately on the notice-paper, is a related machinery measure. I propose, for the convenience of the House, to deal with these two bills in this second-reading speech. They will, of course, be treated separately in their later stages.
– Yes, that would be convenient.
– One of the unfortunate consequences of the illness of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) is that he is not present to make the secondreading speech on these bills. I am sure that all honorable members recognize the keen personal interest taken by the Prime Minister in the problem of education generally and in particular of university education. I know that it was his wish to speak on this legislation in the manner which is his own distinguished way of delivering his statements to the Parliament. It is unfortunate, therefore, that I am on this occasion his imperfect substitute, but I know that the House believes him to be deeply interested in the subject of the bills.
Honorable members will recall that when in May last the Prime Minister presented to the House the States Grants (Universities) Bill 1958, he referred to the intention of the Government to set up a permanent body to advise on university development and the ways in which the Government of the Commonwealth can best contribute to this development. The first of the bills now before the House seeks to establish such a body - an Australian Universities Commission. The second Bill deals with consequential amendments to the Education Act 1945.
Before 1 come to the detailed proposals in these bills, I should like to speak at large about the major problems to be overcome and the Commonwealth role as we see it in this matter. The Commonwealth has an interest in education in certain fields, but the main responsibilities for primary and secondary education do, of course, fall upon the State governments. Why, then, it will be asked, should the Commonwealth come into this matter at all? The reasons are considerations of special importance and need. The war and the great post-war influx into universities of ex-servicemen and others, whose education had to be deferred, the enormous increase in the number of other students, the special needs or the growing needs of an increasingly industrialized and developing community - all these have moved the Commonwealth to take very special and unusual steps in the university field. The findings of the Murray Committee have fairly recently brought home to us all the magnitude of the problems facing the universities. I should perhaps mention a few of these problems. Buildings and equipment are, more often than not. quite inadequate; classes are much too big; wastage is often too great; teachers are subject to very great pressure; the universities as a whole have budgetary difficulties; and there are not enough graduates in many professions to meet present or expected needs. When we look at the matter in the light of future requirements, the problems become even more pressing with the growth of the population, and needs of the Australian society in practically every field.
For a number of years, therefore, the Commonwealth has been giving special attention to universities. We have been assisting the States in their recurrent expenditure on universities. The grants for these purposes had already increased from £800,000 in 1951 to £2,300.000 in 1957. Honorable members will recall that the States Grants (Universities) Act 1958 provided for Commonwealth assistance of more than £20,000,000 for the period 1958-60, not only for recurrent expenditure but for capital works. This, I believe, marked the beginning of a new period of university development.
The bill for an act to establish an Australian Universities Commission carries us one stage further. The whole function of the Australian Universities Commission will be to give advice. That advice will not simply be about monetary questions but will cover the full range of university development in Australia.
The proposed commission will be something of an experiment in co-operation between the Commonwealth and State governments and the universities. It will not be a body of coercion; its whole success will depend upon its securing the confidence and trust of all those who are interested in the universities. Honorable members will remember that the Prime Minister specifically rejected the proposal to call this body a university grants committee. His reason was that far more than money is at stake. Constitutionally, of course, any assistance made to the States will be by virtue of the powers conferred by section 96. But university development is not only a matter of money. There are many things which cannot be fitted into a monetary framework. We would be ill advised indeed if we thought we could impose upon the States or the universities any pattern of development; but we are seeking to establish a body which will have available to it the whole experience of the universities, which can see the picture in the broad and, we hope, can give good advice to the universities about their problems.
On many of these things money is not the only matter. At least as important is how the money is to be spent. We hope the new body will help the universities to carry their responsibilities in a better way because of the advice it will give.
The universities would not wish us, nor would we wish, to interfere with their internal matters. They are rightly jealous of their autonomy and the Government feels that it can help the States with finance for universities without laying itself open to the charge of interfering; and this all the more so in that we expect our future legislation for grants to the States (while the amounts may be changed) to continue the present practice of making what is, in effect, an offer to the States - an offer of funds for recurrent expenses and also for capital works. It will still be for the States to decide how much of our offer they accept.
The essence of this bill lies in clause 14. (1)-
The bill provides for appointment of a full-time chairman of the commission and I remind the House that Sir Leslie Martin, an eminent scientist with an enviable university reputation, has agreed to be the first chairman of the commission. Honorable members will know that the bill provides also for the appointment of part-time members not exceeding four in number. There is also provision in section 17 of the act for the appointment of committees to assist the commission on specific matters where advice by persons competent in a particular field might be of value.
Referring to the second bill now before the House - that is, the amendment of the Education Act 1945 - this is an amendment consequential to the former bill and does not involve much of substance. There are two main items in this amendment. One is a modification of the name of the existing Universities Commission to one more in keeping with the functions of that body, which has always been primarily concerned with scholarships and training awards generally - in particular the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme and the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme. The new Commonwealth Scholarships Board will, in fact, be the same body, and its functions will not be changed. Its main concern will continue to be the Commonwealth Scholarship scheme and the recently introduced scheme of graduate awards.
The second item in this amending bill - I refer to clause 4 - is a provision corresponding to clause 13 (2) of the main bill. It is designed to avoid any overlapping of functions between the new Australian Universities Commission and the Office of Education. As the same Minister will control both the Australian Universities Commission and the Office of Education, it will be for him to co-ordinate their activities and avoid any overlapping. The Government is anxious that the new Australian Universities Commission will be able to develop its working methods in a flexible way and that, at the same time, it should not be distracted by having to undertake work which could divert it from its main functions and which could be done by the Office of Education. I can assure the House that there will be effective teamwork on this.
There is no need for me to speak at greater length. I feel confident that these measures, providing as they do a sound basis for co-operation between the Commonwealth, the States and the universities will have the full support of the House.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 9th April (vide page 1050), on motion by Mr. Freeth -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The speech of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) in introducing this bill was both moderate and reasoned, but I hope to show that the Minister’s moderation concealed a weak case and that his reasoning was not soundly based. The bill is a footling measure which, in my view, should not have been introduced into the Parliament. Indeed, I think it is unlikely that it would have been introduced had the Government not been under pressure from rebellious councillors in the Northern Territory, forcing it into a position in which it had to take action to amend the Northern Territory Representation Act. 1 gather, from the manner of the introduction and the manner in which the measure was referred to by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) on the second reading of the Northern Territory Representation Bill, that this legislation has been introduced merely as a sop to the people of the Australian Capital Territory. The bill does no credit to the common sense of the Parliament, and it perpetuates an undeserved slight on the residents and electors of the Australian Capital Territory.
The measure creating an Australian Capital Territory seat in this House was introduced by the Chifley Government and passed in November, 1948. The first member elected to the Parliament under that legislation took his seat after the 1949 elections, and the conditions laid down in that legislation have continued through subsquent elections in 1951, 1954, 1955 and, most recently, 1958. I have contended that the restrictions placed on the voting rights of the member under the legislation of 1948, although there was a case to support them at that time, can no longer be substantiated. The present act limits the rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory to vote. He has a vote on only one type of question. He can vote on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. It has been shown - indeed, it was shown conclusively last year - that the right conferred in that way to vote on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance does not extend to voting on a motion for the disallowance of a regulation made under such an ordinance.
The member for the Australian Capital Territory, in common with the member for the Northern Territory, is not counted h a quorum of the House. When honorable members present are being counted so establish whether or not there is a quorum, the two of us, as I have said before, must become invisible. We just do not count. Nor can the member for the Australian Capital Territory be elected to the office of Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Chairman of Committees or Deputy Chairman, and he is not entitled to vote in the election of those officers, although, in common with every other honorable member, he is subject to the discipline and the rulings of the Speaker and the Chairman. Nor is he allowed to vote on any motion seeking to disagree with a ruling of the Speaker or the Chairman.
– Can he be thrown out by them?
– Mr. Speaker has demonstrated that he can throw out the member for the Australian Capital Territory, and, indeed, under some provocation, he did so last year. The member had no right to vote on the question whether he should be summarily ejected from the chamber.
The proposals in the amending bill do little to increase the voting rights for the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. Let me summarize the position to the House. The member now has a right to vote only on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance. He is not counted in a quorum. He cannot be elected to an office in the Parliament. He is not entitled to vote in the election of the officers of the Parliament. He is not entitled to be counted for the purposes of determining an absolute majority of the House. The only question on which he can vote is a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance. The bill proposes to extend that right in a very minor way. The first provision of the bill is that the member will be entitled to vote on any question concerning a proposed law that is determined to be a proposed law relating solely to the Australian Capital Territory. I suggest that this is a clumsy provision and one which, I shall seek to show, should be laughed out of this Parliament. Having conferred on the member that right to vote on any pro posed law relating solely to the Australian Capital Territory, the bill provides that Mr. Speaker or Mr. Deputy Speaker must decide whether or not the bill before the House is one on which the member for the Australian Capital Territory may vote. In such cases, is it proposed that the member must put up his hand and say, “ Please, Mr. Speaker, is this a bill on which I may exercise a vote? “ Will Mr. Speaker then be in a position to decide whether or not the proposed law is one that relates solely to the Australian Capital Territory? His ruling, of course, can be objected to and upset by the House. I suggest that this is rather a foolish provision, and that it would have been better to go the whole way.
The bill also provides that, in addition to the present power to vote on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance, at long last, after ten years, the member is to be given the right to vote on a motion for the disallowance of a regulation made under that ordinance. As the Minister said in his speech, this is a very proper extension of the existing power. I welcome it, but not so much as I would welcome it as part of a bill to give complete voting powers.
The member may also vote on any motion for the disallowance of a modification or variation of the plan of lay-out of the City of Canberra, referred to in section 12a of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1955, and on any amendment of such a motion. There his voting rights cease.
These are the proposals in the bill. 1 said that I thought the Minister’s reasoning in his second-reading speech was not soundly based, and I propose to touch on some of the references he made to this matter in the House on 9th April, when he introduced the measure. The Minister stressed, throughout his speech, that the limitation being imposed, or being maintained - it is being only very slightly relaxed in this bill - was based entirely on the numerical strength of the electorate. That was the whole burden of his argument, although I think he did touch on some other matters which he felt might have some slight influence on the limitation of the voting power.
The Minister said that he would direct attention to the fact that the Australian Capital Territory differs in many respects from other electorates. He said that the development and advancement of the Territory is very largely dependent on the contribution made by the Federal Govern ment, much more so than in any other area of the Commonwealth. That, of course, is perfectly true. The Commonwealth has chosen to establish the national capital in this place, and it has chosen to establish in this place all the buildings and the machinery necessary for the government of the Commonwealth. Expenditure incurred in this way is expenditure that the Commonwealth would have incurred in some other parts of Australia if it had not decided on concentration in this place. To my way of thinking, this is no argument for restricting the voting power of the member for the Australian Capital Territory.
Citizens of this Territory, in common with all other residents of Australia, are subject to the laws of this Parliament, and they pay their taxes as does every other citizen of the Commonwealth. In point of fact, they contribute, through their taxes, to every payment made by this Commonwealth to every one of the States. In eve’-y payment made to the States by way of subsidy or State grant there is a proportion which comes from the pockets of t*ie taxpayers of the Australian Capital Territory. The Minister thought that my statement on taxation was rather extravagant, but it remains a fact that, on the basis of dividing the total of taxes paid in this Territory by the taxpaying population here, the residents of the Territory pay more per head than those of any other part of the Commonwealth. That may be because there is a higher level of employment, and reasonably remunerative employment, in this place. But it is true that these people are making their contribution towards the revenues of the Commonwealth, which are distributed by the Commonwealth, as need arises, to the claimant States and, in special grants, to other States. The Minister developed that theme slightly, when he questioned whether it was justifiable to have the fate of a government responsible for national policy possibly at the mercy of a representative largely elected by the civil service at the heart of the administrative machine. He said that that was at least open to argument. That was an extraordinary thing to say, because the Government has created this city and it has transferred to it people who enjoyed fullvoting representation in the electorates from which they have come. They have come here to be denied the voice they previously had in the decisions of policy taken by the Parliament.
The Minister discounted his own argument by saying that because there are at present only 43,000 people in this Territory we must wait until there are 80,000 or thereabouts before full voting rights can be granted to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. Although it is wrong at present for 21,000 people largely composed of public servants to have in their hands the power to elect a member who might decide the fate of the Government, it will be quite all right when there arc twice as many people enrolled! That is reasoning that I just do not seem to follow. What the Minister and, I believe, many members overlook, is that the people of this Territory are people who are largely en3ape’:’ in the very business of government and who, in the senior brackets of employment, are largely those who advise this Government and assist in the formulation of national policies. But they are themselves denied any voice at all in the implementation of those policies!
The Minister said that the Australian Capital Territory differs in many respects from other electorates. I’ll say it does! First and foremost, it differs in this respect: Trie people of this Territory have no right to govern themselves in their day-by-day affairs. They have not the right, enjoyed by people living in the smallest hamlets throughout the Commonwealth, of voting to elect a local shire council or municipal council, or the right of people in larger places to vote to elect a city council. They have no government at the State level. So this Parliament must stand to the people of the Australian Capital Territory not only as the National Parliament, but also as a state parliament. Indeed, this Parliament is also the local council of the Australian Capital Territory. To say that people who are already limited in that way should have a further limitation placed on them by depriving their representative in the Parliament of full voting rights is to continue a slight which should not be allowed to remain on the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
The Minister went further and said - it has been represented to me quite strongly that while the member for the Australian Capital Territory has no vole in the House and therefore does not directly influence the fate of a government, residents in the Australian Capital Territory make the best of both worlds by electing a representative of the opposite political persuasion to that of the Government in office.
I thank the Minister for his kindly assumption that I might be able to continue to represent the Australian Capital Territory electorate in this Parliament, but I say to him quite frankly that I will take my chance on that, and that I have always sought, asI seek now, full voting rights for the member for the Australian Capital Territory. I pointed out to him, by way of interjection at that stage, that the Liberals had tried very hard to win this seat but had not been successful as yet. The Minister’s argument could be put to the test by giving full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory and treating this electorate in the same way as any other electorate in the Commonwealth is treated.
The Minister,I am glad to say, went on -
If the Minister is serious in that - andI believe he is - surely we should allow the Parliament to decide this matter. If the vote on this measure, which deals with representation of the Australian Capital Territory, is not a matter of party politics, it should not be a matter of Government supporters voting for the bill and the Opposition voting against it, because no one will persuade me that all members on the Government side of the chamber believe that the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory should be restricted and that only members on the Opposition side believe that he should be given full voting rights. I believe quite sincerely that there are members on the Government side who believe that this limitation should no longer exist, and that full voting rights should be given to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. Indeed, some have expressed that view to me and have urged support for such a move. The Opposition has declared its policy on this matter, because last year it inroduced a bill to amend the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act by removing section 6 which imposes the present limitation. So I suggest to the Minister, in view of his statement that this is not a matter of party politics, that we leave it as the Constitution provides and that Parliament decide the terms on which representation of this Territory shall be permitted. I suggest that if that were done he would find a number of members on the Government side seeking to support the removal of all restrictions on the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory. Indeed, they will have an opportunity to do that when I move an amendment to the motion for the second reading, seeking to provide just that course.
I want to refer to this fallacy of numbers that has been used to support the argument that the member for the Australian Capital Territory should not be granted full voting rights. Even under this bill his proposed voting rights will be greatly limited. When this seat was created in 1948, the enrolment for the electorate was about 10,000, compared with enrolments in other electorates of about 50,000, 60,000 or 70,000. In 1949. at the first election for this seat, the enrolment in this Territory was 11,841. By the election in 1951 it had increased to 12,774.In 1954, it was 14,920, and in 1955 it had increased to 16,181. At the time of the last election in November, 1 958, the enrolment was 20,563. The latest figure I have been able to secure from the Commonwealth Electoral Office is that for 10th April, 1959, when the enrolment was 21,288.I point out gently to the Minister, as Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Electoral Office, that the enrolment is not yet 22,000, as he stated in his secondreading speech.
– It is, in round figures.
– Yes, in round figures. To argue that nearly 21,300 electors should not have full voting rights is, I suggest, to disregard completely the realities of the situation.
– What about Washington?
– The Minister cited Washington as a precedent, but I have yet to findthat in this British Commonwealth we go outside the Commonwealth for parliamentary precedents. The answer is easily given, and indeed has been given. It is that the constitution of the United States of America does not provide for representation in the Congress of the District of Columbia, but the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia expressly provides for representation of this Territory within this Parliament on such terms and conditions as this Parliament thinks fit. I suggest that there is the answer to the honorable member.
I have always contended that once the electoral enrolment of this Territory reached slightly more than half the enrolment of the average electorate in Australia, there was a very sound argument for giving full voting rights to the member, because section (2.) (b) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that - . . whenever in one-fourth of the Divisions of the State the number of the electors differs from a quota ascertained in the manner provided in this Part to a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less a redistribution is made and a new electorate is created. I would suggest that, when the electorate enrolment of this Territory exceeds, as it exceeds it to-day, onehalf of the quota required for the creation of a new electorate within the State, there is a sound argument for giving full voting rights to the member here.
Having quoted the figures of the electorates as they are at present, I would point out that at the rate of progress and the rate of increase at present evident, it seems to me that by the next federal election the enrolment of this Territory could be some 26,000 or 27,000. I suggest that the argument for retaining any limitation at all on the member’s right to vote then falls to the ground. I have quoted previously the position in Tasmania. This being one of the original States in the federation, it is laid down that it shall have not fewer than five members in the House of Representatives. The enrolment of the State of Tasmania at the time of federation in 1903 was 82,268. That was when it was first allowed five members on that total enrolment. The electoral enrolment in Tasmania has, of course, remained relative to the total Commonwealth enrolment since then. In 1”01 the elections were carried out on Stat; figures. Tasmania at present has a total enrolment, at the time of the federal elections of 1958, of 178,717. For that enrolment it is entitled to five members in this House and ten senators in another place. That is a total of fifteen members in the Parliament with full voting rights. In fact, it is one member with full voting rights in this Parliament for something under 12,000 electors in the State. I suggest that there is good ground on which to base an argument to oppose the limitation of the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory in this House.
– Members represent a larger number than 12,000 in this House.
– If the Minister wishes to take that line, 1 remind him that it is possible to elect senators from the Australian Capital Territory because the Constitution expressly provides for representation in either House. The ruling that has been given on that provision is that “ either “ means “ both “ in that sense, therefore the Australian Capital Territory would be entitled to have senators as well. But what I am pointing out is that for every 12,000 electors in the State of Tasmania there is one member in this Parliament with full voting rights on all questions that come before either this House or the Senate. I suggest that this is a valid argument for granting full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory.
The Minister in his speech on behalf of the Government in presenting this bill suggested that it would be wrong to give full voting rights to an electorate with only 22,000 electors. He said that the average electorate in Australia is round about 42,000. But it has been pointed out in the debate here that the electorate of Kalgoorlie, although admittedly large in area, has an enrolment of 31,000. That was the figure quoted by the Minister, but the latest figure given to me is 32,313. The member for this electorate has full voting rights in this House. The electorate of Lalor has an enrolment of 67,351. Therefore, although it is claimed that a member representing 22,000 electors cannot have a vote comparable with that granted to a member representing 31,000 electors, the member representing 31,000 electors has only the same voting rights as the member representing 67,000 electors. I suggest that the comparisons of figures used by the Minister are fallacious and do not represent sound reasoning at all. There is a difference of 35,000 between the two electorates I have quoted. There are 35,000 more electors in the electorate of Lalor than in the electorate of Kalgoorlie, but each member has the same vote in this House.
Section 24 of the Constitution lays down -
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.
I quote from this section because in other measures of a similar content doubt has been thrown on the constitutional position and the powers of the Parliament in this matter. The section goes on -
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, whenever necessary, in the following manner: -
I stress that the whole of this section relates to the States and to divisions created within the States. The manner laid down is this -
That is the whole of the Commonwealth, including the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory - as shown by the latest statistics of the Commonwealth, by thrice the number of senators:
It goes on to say that -
But notwithstanding anything in this section, five members at least shall be chosen in each Original State.
That section of the Constitution relates entirely to electorate divisions created within the boundaries of the several States. The section relating specifically to the Australian Capital Territory is section 122, which reads -
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
I suggest that there is complete, clear power to this Parliament to do as I have suggested so often, and as I propose to move shortly, to grant full voting rights for the member of the Australian Capital Territory on such terms as the Parliament thinks fit.
I should like, in the time left to me, to refer to the apparent change of opinion among Liberal Party ranks since this measure was first enacted in 1948. It is interesting to read through the debate which occurred in this chamber on 11th November, 1948, and contrast the arguments of Liberals in opposition with the actions of Liberals in government, as of to-day. In that debate, Mr. Gullett, who was then the representative for Henty, led for the then Opposition. I shall quote his remarks as they appear on page 2901 of “ Hansard “, of 11th November, 1948. Mr. Gullett said -
Even after the passing of this bill and the provision of a Member it is just as well to remind ourselves that the people of Canberra will still be classed with lunatics, criminals, children, aborigines and of course, aliens as people without an effective voice in the national affairs of this country, and people without a say in their own process of self-government.
Those were the words of the then Liberal member for Henty, speaking in this House on the original bill, in 1948. Mr. Harrison, who was then the representative for Wentworth, and who spoke as acting Leader of the Opposition - he is now Sir Eric Harrison, and our High Commissioner in the United Kingdom - is reported on page 2910 of “Hansard”, of 11th November, as saying -
The Opposition welcomes the bill. As a matter of fact we shall try to make it a better bill, and to ensure that the member for the Australian Capital Territory shall enjoy more power than it is proposed to give him.
He went on to use an argument which I have just put before the House, that Tasmania, with an enrolment then of 158,000, had five members, and after the forthcoming election would have ten senators in the then forthcoming Parliament. That was to say that in the same Parliament as the one in which the member for the Australian Capital Territory would first take his seat, Tasmania would have a representative with full powers in the Parliament for every 10,600 of its electors, whilst the Australian Capital Territory, with 9,000 to 11,000 electors, would have limited representation. Sir Eric Harrison said -
It seems to me that the Government lias noi been at all generous in giving representation to Canberra. It should give the Australian Capital Territory representation in a much wider and more generous form, because if it believes in democracy it should wish to see exercised to the full the maximum democratic value of each individual vote.
That was the opinion of the then acting Leader of the Opposition, who went on to make a dissection of the limitations placed on the member for the Australian Capital Territory by that bill. I would agree that in those days there was argument for maintaining or expressing a limitation in the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory. After making that distinction, Sir Eric concluded his speech in the House by saying -
I have submitted an unanswerable case in respect of the right of the member for the Australian Capital Territory to vole on all measures.
That was the unanswerable case submitted in 1948 by the then honorable member for Wentworth, later to be Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House, and now our High Commissioner in the United Kingdom. I wish that he were here now to bite the present members of the Government and infect them with some of the insanity with which he may be said to have been suffering at that time.
I should like to quote to the House the views expressed in a recent worthy editorial in the “ Canberra Times “. I do not always agree with the editorials in the “ Canberra Times “, but I do wholeheartedly endorse this one. On Friday, 10th April, 1959, in an editorial headed “ Outcasts of the A.C.T.” the “ Canberra Times “ said-
The Minister for the Interior has persuaded himself not only that there is no case to confer full voting rights on the Member for the A.C.T., but that in fact it would be wrong to do so. He quotes, as a major gambit, the example of Washington where, he says, “it is of interest to note “, the district is nol self-ruled, but is governed by the Congress through three Commissioners. The residents of the District of Washington-
I should have thought that the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Timson), who raised this point, would have been interested in what I am saying, but appa rently I cannot retain his interest. The editorial continued -
The residents of the District of Washington exercise no vote, and have no representative in Congress. Mr. Freeth does not trouble to explain that this fact, which is a thorn in the side noi only of the people of the District of Washington, but of a great many other thoughtful Americans, comes about not by deliberate design of the Congress, but by a curious anomaly in the United States Constitution, which prevents Congress giving the people of Washington either representation in Congress or even a vote in the Presidential- elections. It can give them local government, which it has, but nothing else. The framers of the Commonwealth Constitution, aware of this, sei out to see that the error was noi repeated in Australia. They carefully included in the Commonwealth Constitution Section 122 -
I have read that section to the House. That is the section that gives this Parliament power to confer representation on such terms as Parliament thinks fit. The editorial continued -
The Commonwealth Parliament is not required to follow the Washington example and it was in fact the intention of the Founding Fathers thai it should not. It can give the A.C.T. any parliamentary representation it wishes. This fact noi only invalidates Mr. Freeth’s use of the Washington example, but illustrates that so far as constitutionality is concerned, his comparisons with the voting strength of the A.C.T. and other electorates, such as Kalgoorlie, with its 31,000 voters against the A.C.T.’s 22,000, are without point. The Founding Fathers appreciated that the Seat of Government was liable, for some time at least, to contain fewer electors than the more populous areas, and left the way clear to avoid the disfranchisement of its people. Unfortunately for the people of Canberra, they left the decision to the dis retion of the Government. However, to the extent that the whole tenor of Mr. Freeth’s second reading speech on the projected amendment to the A.C.T. Representation Act was a promise that when the A.C.T. approaches the electoral strength at Kalgoorlie, it can expect full voting rights of its member, something at least has been gained. Perhaps, although the Minister denies any party political motivation, that day might be closer were the Liberal Party organization in the A.C.T. not so inept as to invite the indifference of the electors and sometimes even their contempt.
Be that as it may, there is one other issue on which the Minister must be forcibly challenged. That relates to his suggestion that it is arguable whether the fate of a Government responsible for national policies should be in the hands of a representative elected largely by civil servants at the heart of the administrative machine. What Mr. Freeth says, in effect, is that despite their vocational training in matters of government, and the responsible tasks with which they are entrusted, there is some doubt whether civil servants should be permitted to vote. Alternatively he suggests that whereas they can be trusted to vote in Melbourne, Sydney or elsewhere, it is as well that they should be disfranchised on arrival at Canberra. On the other hand, apparently, when they have doubled in numbers, as more and more departmental transfers take place, and the enrolment in the A.C.T. is enlarged accordingly, they will become more trustworthy to exercise the franchise in the spirit of broad statesmanship.
Meanwhile the 30,000 residents of the town of Kalgoorlie shall have a hand in the fate of the nation, because their electoral numbers are aided by virtue of being part of one of the biggest electorates in the world, extending from the northern coast of the continent to the Bight, and from the West Coast to the South Australian border, while the 43,000 residents of the National City of Canberra, lacking such territorial advantage In swell their electoral numbers, shall remain politically impotent.
I suggest that the editorial answers the Minister very fully and clearly cements the case that I have put forward to justify the granting of full voting rights to the” member representing the Australian Capital Territory in the National Parliament.
I want to touch on one other argument only, and that is the argument which has been raised in discussion on this matter, that because this Territory does not produce anything, it should not be given equal voting rights with productive areas of the Commonwealth. That argument was used in giving extended voting rights to the member for the Northern Territory rather than to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. It may be true that the Ausralian Capital Territory is not an area of large primary production - there is, of course, an extent of primary production - but surely this electorate of all in the Commonwealth can point to the production of ideas and policies. Surely they are valuable in this community. We have in this National Capital the Australian National University, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Division of Agricultural Economics, and the Department of Trade. Those bodies make a very valuable contribution to thinking and to ideas in this community, and I toss that argument in as support for my view and the view of the Opposition that no restriction should exist on the voting rights of the member representing this Territory.
I hope that the Government will not in this instance stand on the dictum of Lord Brougham and declare for the bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill, because the amendment that I propose to move seeks to give to the member for the Australian Capital Territory the vote, the whole vote, and nothing but the vote. Many honorable members of this House have told me that in their view the limitations imposed on the member for the Australian Capital Territory should be removed. The Minister has said that this is not a matter of party politics so, with good will, I move -
That all words after “ That “ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “ the bill be withdrawn and re-drafted to remove all restrictions on the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capita] Territory “.
The amendment has been moved on behalf of the Opposition and will be seconded on this side of the House. I hope that the Minister, and, through him, the Government, will take cognizance of the arguments put forward in this place and outside to justify removal of the limitation on the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory. As I said recently, it is a matter which I feel does not affect me personally. But I do regard it as a distinct slight on the people of the Territory that they are denied representation in this Parliament by a member with full voting power. I think that that should no longer be permitted. I have described the bill before us as a footling bill. I think it pays scant regard to the common sense of the Parliament, because it still contains provisions which I hope, in the committee stages, to show to be completely ridiculous and incapable of being substantiated. I commend the proposed amendment to the Parliament.
– I second the motion.
.- I listened with great interest to the speech of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). In placing undue emphasis on two questions, he completely lost track of the real issues involved here. He placed undue emphasis on the situation in Washington, implying that the Australian Government took the view that the system in Washington should be regarded as a precedent for the Australian Capital Territory. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) used these words in his second-reading speech -
It may be argued that having departed from the precedent which exists in Washington to the extent of allowing this National Capital to elect a member to Parliament, we should go the whole way and give him full voting powers. That was a definite statement that the precedent of Washington had been abandoned. I disagree with the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory that he ought to base his case on the number of voters in the electorate. There are some very glaring anomalies in connexion with the number of voters in the electorates. One of these may be illustrated succinctly by referring to my own electorate which, I understand, has the greatest number of electors enrolled of any electorate in Australia. It has 67,000 electors, having grown by some 19,000 in the last three years. The same rate of progress is likely to increase the number to between 90,000 and 100,000 before the next general election. In the electorates of Scullin and Melbourne, the number of voters has fallen to something like 37,000, and it is constantly diminishing. At the next general election, the electorate of Bruce may well contain three times the number of voters in either Scullin or Melbourne. So, it is impossible to support the argument that every electorate should have an equal number of electors at any given point of time. One may set out to have an equal number of voters in each electorate at the time of redistribution, but, despite the machinery for redistribution, the numbers will still get out of balance.
I believe that the question that should be argued is one of principle as to whether or not the Australian Capital Territory should have representing it in this Parliament a member with less or greater voting rights than this bill proposes and whether, in the ultimate, he should have full voting rights. This bill raises two issues: Does it give too much voting power, or does it give too little voting power? I am inclined to think, although I am not irrevocably committed to the view, that the bill gives too much voting power to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. I am not, in any way, reflecting on the personality of the incumbent of the office at the moment. I put this viewpoint because of the situation existing in the Australian Capital Territory.
The population of the Territory is about 40.000 and the voters number about 21,000. We are indebted to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory for providing us with the current figure of 21,288. At present, the Territory has, on the one hand, an elected member of the House of Representatives, and, on the other hand, an Advisory Council. I think it would be rewarding for the House to look at the functions of each of these - on the one hand, an individual, and on the other hand, a body.
The people of the Australian Capital Territory have no avenue of representation to the Minister for the Interior or to this Parliament other than through the Advisory Council and their member of this Parliament. As 1 understand the position, there is absolutely no restriction on the elected member of Parliament speaking on any subject that comes before this National Parliament. Again, I do not intend to reflect on the present member for the Australian Capital Territory when I say that he has not sought frequently to exercise the power which is inherent in him to speak in this National Parliament on any matter that comes before it.
– I do, often.
– You can catalogue all the times on which you have spoken on matters other than the Australian Capital Territory and I think, over a period, we will find that I am miles ahead of you in this, as in other things.
The honorable member for the Australian Territory, whoever he may be, has power to speak on any subject before this House. If he does not speak, it is probably because he is too caught up in his other duties outside this House. No doubt, matters which are brought to him for attention would fall into three categories: First, matters which, in other electorates, would be attended to by the municipal council; secondly, matters which would be attended to by the State member in other electorates; and thirdly, matters which would normally be brought to a member of the Federal Parliament.
I should think that if somebody in Canberra finds a crack in the footpath he rings the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory or writes to him. If a tree is overhanging a footpath and constituting a danger to passers-by, no doubt a constituent will ring the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. Undoubtedly, he has a very full day seeing people on these problems, so full in fact that he probably has to devote some of the time, which he would otherwise devote to national issues, to those issues which normally are taken care of in other electorates by municipal councils or by State members, depending on the type of problem that -arises.
I understand that the Advisory Council of the Australian Capital Territory has been set up under the authority of two acts - the Seat of Government Act and the Seat of Government (Administration) Act - and that it finds its origin in an ordinance of the Governor-General. But there is no power inherent in this Advisory Council other than that of an advisory nature, whether the advice stems from its own initiative or from a reference by the Minister to that -council. The council comprises six elected members and four nominated members. Of the four nominated members, I understand that two are nominated by the Minister for the Interior, one by the same gentleman in his capacity of Minister for Works, and the fourth by the Minister for Health.
I understand that the Advisory Council, over its relatively short life, has met, on an average, once in four weeks. Certainly, in later periods, it has been meeting once in three weeks, but then only for two and a half hours or three hours. I have no doubt that the council should have been a very great help to the Minister, considering, as it does, for example, matters related to the supply of food, milk and meat, and to trading hours. This council has a job to do, but it is merely an advisory body with no true powers itself. The elected members, of course, outnumber the nominated members, but that does not really matter. No issue arises there, because there is no power in the council any way.
I understand that council elections are held every two years, and that the next is due in September of this year. It would seem that these elections arouse a great deal of interest in this community, and this shows that the people of Canberra are anxious to exercise a vote, even if it be only a vote in the election of a member to a council which has no power. After all, I suppose that there is no other community in Australia in which is concentrated a higher standard of administrative and executive talent. The citizens of Canberra obviously must look at the council and see that it has no real power. But, for all that, they are prepared to go through what may be described as a masquerade, accompanied by all the paraphernalia of the election of members to a council.
Because of the situation as it now exists, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am inclined to believe that the member for the Australian Capital Territory has too much power to vote. But, on the other hand, I should like to see him have full and unrestricted powers, provided that, as a condition precedent, a local governing organization be created within the Australian Capital Territory. I think that, with a reasonable degree of elasticity of views, one might look at the National Capital Development Commission as standing in the place of the State governments. It has its own responsibilities, its own budgeting organizations, and so on. If what I am asking to be done is to be done, the sooner it is done the better. A local governing body ought to be created here. Call it a city council, a town council, a shire council, or call it what you will. It requires a degree of self-interest on the part of the citizens of Canberra to exercise their vote as they wish in order to have some part in the formation of policy on the spending of money. And not only that, of course. We can go back to the centuries old claim about the need for such a body to have the power to raise its own funds by rating. The reason why I suggest that if this is to be done it should be done very soon, is that the whole field of local government throughout Australia is in a very difficult situation. A rapid change is taking place over the whole of Australia, and I do not think it would be wrong to say that there is not a State which has a local government act which fully meets all the needs and requirements of local government activities.
If there were in the Australian Capital Territory a local governing body, and what may be described as the equivalent of a State government - at present the National Capital Development Commission - it would not matter to me whether there were 100,000 or 10,000 people in the Territory. I would feel that the member representing the Territory ought to have full voting powers, relieved, as he then would be, of what may be described, without any reluctance, as all the minor matters which now doubtless clog up his activities. The time when these things were achieved would, I think, be the right time to give the member for the Australian Capital Territory a full vote.
What I have said in relation to this Territory, Mr. Deputy Speaker, applies at present exclusively to the Australian Capital Territory. The Northern Territory - the other comparable Territory - is as yet quite unprepared for local government, and, of course, the machinery of development there is quite different. The local government which I envisage for the Australian Capital Territory is of the municipal type. I am not talking about self-government. The development in the Northern Territory is along those lines, with a Legislative Council, whereas the development in the Australian Capital Territory, of course, is quite distinct and separate, the Advisory Council possessing no powers whatever. The Australian Capital Territory is ideally suited to local government in the municipal sense. The Northern Territory is quite unsuited to it because of its tremendous area and the spread of the poulation there.
– There is a town council in Darwin.
– There is some form of local government, but I think nobody could truthfully describe it as local government in the normal sense.
– It is a town council.
– But it is quite different. This raises the point that the local government in the municipal sense introduced in Darwin ought to be investigated very closely because of the problems which will occur in relation to subdivision, planning schemes, zoning, and all that kind of thing.
The Minister for the Interior, in his second-reading speech, referred to three reasons why full voting powers were not to be given to the member for the Australian Capital Territory in this bill. I think that I have traversed most of the ground, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but, in order to put my case most effectively, I should like to refer to these reasons again. The first reason was stated by the Minister in this way -
However, as honorable members will know, representation in this House is decided upon a population basis. The present population of the Australian Capital Territory is 43,000 and the number of electors 22,000 … it follows that the member for the Australian Capital Territory is not entitled to voting rights equal to those of other members.
I feel, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that when the Australian Constitution was so drafted as to provide - as it did - for the representation of r.ny of the territories by vote of this Parliament, the possibility of a very small population within the Australian Capital Territory, at least in the initial stages, was contemplated by its framers, and that there was an inherent direction to the Parliament to give voting powers to the member for the Australian Capital Territory when the Parliament thought fit. 1 believe that the Parliament will think fit i.o do so when the conditions which I have stated are achieved - when the member for the Territory is relieved of those duties which now clog up his time and prevent him from attending to matters of great national import.
The second reason for not giving the member for the Australian Capital Territory full voting rights was indicated by the Minister when he said that the Territory had been created by the States as part of the machinery of federation. Then he posed the question whether it was justifiable to have the fate of a government responsible for national policy possibly at the mercy of a representative largely elected by the civil servants at the heart of the administrative machine. He said that that question was at least open to argument. I do not feel that the member who represents the civil servants here ought to be deprived of voting rights merely because of the kind of people he represents. Nor do I feel that they should be deprived of complete rights in the hands of their member simply because they are - and let us make no mistake about it - the best community in all Australia from the standpoint of the per capita expenditure on them and on community facilities. The third reason given by the Minister for not giving to the member for the Australian Capital Territory full voting rights concerns the extent to which the Commonwealth Government is obliged, as a part of its function of developing the national capital, to spend large sums of money on the provision of amenities here. It is a necessity, of course. Mr. Deputy Speaker. to develop this Territory, and to spend much money in order to do so, but I think that it is wrong to deprive the residents of the Territory of a deliberative vote through their representative merely because they enjoy the benefit of so much largesse and of the expenditure of so much government money.
So my position is that I shall vote against the amendment and I shall vote for the bill. I feel that, at present, the powers to be given to the member for the Australian Capital Territory are more than sufficient.
.- The logic of the speech made by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) would be unassailable if he had not overlooked the absolutely basic principle of representative government - and it is astonishing that a distinguished lawyer and one who, I understand, has had quite a training in history, should do so. The logic of his argument would be unassailable were no taxation imposed on the people of the Australian Capital Territory. Indeed, in the first fifteen years of the existence of this Territory the Commonwealth Parliament was at least completely consistent morally all through. Denying representation, it did not impose taxation. The people of the Australian Capital Territory did not have to pay taxation, but the moment that taxation is imposed upon the people of the Territory you reach the position that their representative should at least be allowed to vote on laws imposing taxation upon them. Otherwise, you deny what all our experience has shown to be basic to parliamentary government. It took the Boston Tea Party, perhaps, to establish the principle of “ No taxation without representation “. But once taxation is imposed, inevitably there comes the demand for representation.
I say, by the same token, that if this Parliament imposes income taxes in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, then representation in this Parliament should be given to the people of Papua and New Guinea, and the argument about numbers could have no force in relation to those people, because the number of people who will be paying taxation there is far beyond the average number in an Australian constituency. I think that that is a very vital point that has been overlooked. I think it is a sign of a certain insensitivity on the part of all of us, and I plead guilty to it too, because, after all, taxation was imposed on the people of the Australian Capital Territory during the period of a Labour government and, as I remember it, continued for seven years under a Labour government when there was no representation of those people in this Parliament, not even the limited representation at present granted to them. And I believe we were wrong. I believe we adopted a right procedure in enacting, before a federal election, that the Territory should have representation, when nobody knew what the party character of the electorate would be. In point of fact, the first representative in this Parliament of the Territory was an Independent. T hope that the political character of any electorate does not influence the viewpoint of the Government or the Opposition in determining whether that electorate should or should not have full representation.
It is quite clear that the founders of the Constitution did envisage that there might be special terms upon which representation would be granted to a territory. The special term we have laid down is that the member shall be a non-voting member, except in relation to ordinances affecting the Territory. Such a limitation is justifiable if taxation is not imposed; but, if taxation is imposed, the representative of the area should have the right to vote on the taxation that is being imposed on his constituents.
I think it would be unfortunate if we started to determine who are worthy people of Australia and who are not worthy people of Australia. One of the consequences of the fall of a Labour government is the end of the kind of vicious and mendacious campaign directed against the civil service which usually exists when a Labour government is in office and ceases when a Labour government loses office. One of the sticks with which a Labour government is beaten is bureaucracy. We all remember how, with the emergence of a Liberal government, there was to be a vast reduction in the size of the Public Service, and we all know that, in fact, with the emergence of a Liberal government there has been a vast increase in the size of the Public Service. The people on the other side of politics have no more been able to do without administrative personnel than the Labour government was able to do without them.
I think that the administrative task is a dignified one, and at least one of the advantages of the feudal background in Great Britain was that it was regarded as an honour to enter the service of the Crown and, because it was regarded as an honour, the very best types of people entered the civil service, and very often the question of the salary paid was not involved. It has been a tragedy, wherever denigration of the civil service has been successful, that it is regarded as a field to which inferior types enter, or that it has become the conviction that there are greater rewards in the world of commerce. It is notable that, at least in the past, one of the weaknesses in the United States of America, with political appointments to the civil service changing with the changes of government, has been that, by and large people have regarded the field of commerce as the field for a man, and not the field of administration. But surely the whole of trade to-day depends upon the existence of an efficient administrative State. Most of the struggles of the new nations that have been formed are due to the lack of efficient civil services. India started off with an immense advantage because she was left an efficient civil service by the British. It is also said that Indonesia started off in independence at a tremendous disadvantage because she was not left by the Dutch with an efficient civil service manned by Indonesians. If that be true, it is clear that the existence of an efficient civil service has the most vital effects on industry and commerce and on the whole management of the State.
I get rather tired of businessmen who talk in derogatory terms about “ bureaucracy “, and the next thing you get from them is a representation for some new tariff protection for their own particular industry - protection, of course, administered by civil servants.
Let us take two examples. I do not know anything that I have done personally as a member of Parliament which is worth my salary. But I do know that the work of, shall we say, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) as Minister for Immigration in overcoming the opposition that there was to immigration in certain quarters, and getting the immigration programme through, has been worth hundreds of millions of pounds to thiscountry in the productive efforts of thenew population.
What has been the value to commerceand industry of the establishment of a sound bank like the Commonwealth Bank originally was? Obviously it has been worth hundreds of millions of pounds tothe community. A civil service advising the government, forming the executive arm of government, and carrying out its work efficiently, is worth hundreds of millions of pounds to industry. So the dignity of administration is not to be belittled, nor is there any case against full representation of the Australian Capital Territory on the ground that the majority of the people in the Territory are connected with administration.
The section of the constitution upon: which this bill is based is an important one. It is section 122, which reads -
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any Stateto and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on theterms which it thinks fit.
Consequently, it would be quite in order for this Parliament, in dealing with thequestion of representation for this rapidlygrowing Australian Capital Territory, not to require that the electorate of the Australian Capital Territory shall be equal in its enrolments to a normal constituency. There is a case mentioned in a volume that I have here. I am using the volume of the Commonwealth Statutes that normally reposes on the table. A note on section 122 of the Constitution says -
Held by the High Court that the limitations imposed by s. 55 of the Constitution upon the making of laws imposing taxation apply only to such laws as are made under the power conferred by s. 51 (ii.) and do not apply to laws made under this section for the government of territories.
Now that we have started to impose taxation in the Australian Capital Territory, the powers to impose taxation are much greater than are the powers to impose taxation in the States. All requirements that there shall be no discrimination in taxation need not necessarily apply and it would be perfectly possible for a government to come into existence, for instance, imposing particular taxation in the Territory of New Guinea to drive out communities - say, the European community. Discriminatory taxation could be imposed on a territory which is not represented in this Parliament. Equally discriminatory taxation, now that we have started.it, could be imposed in the Australian Capital Territory, but the representative of the Territory at present has no power to vote on the taxes being imposed upon his own people.
The honorable member for Bruce was in error in his reference to Darwin. Darwin has a mayor and a town council. However, I do not want to follow him into his argument about the kind of duties accepted by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, which, he says, are cases involving footpaths. I doubt whether the honorable member for Bruce really knows the nature of the correspondence of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. I do not. I do not see his mail and I do not know what is being sent to him, nor does the honorable member for Bruce. I would say that it is common experience for all of us to make representations on behalf of people, not merely to the Commonwealth Government but very often to the State government and to city councils also. I have done that. “Very many people who are inarticulate approach members merely because they feel that members are articulate and can press their cases for them. I take it that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has the same experience in that respect as we all have. But that does not constitute an argument against him being a full voting member of this Parliament.
If the Government is unwilling at this stage to confer full voting rights on the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory in respect of all legislation, it should provide that this will be done after the next election; at the present time we do not know what political convictions will be held by the representatives of the electorate of the Australian Capital Territory after the next election. In its short existence, it has voted independent and at the moment it is voting Labour. Sometimes people speak about seats being “ blueribbon “. Earlier, we heard that given as a reason why the honorable member for the Northern Territory should not have full voting rights in this Parliament, ignoring the fact that for something like fifteen years the Northern Territory was represented by Mr. Blain, who was an independent, and that it has for a certain period since then been represented by a Labour man. Surely after the experience of Kalgoorlie, none of us can guarantee that any seat will be unshakably or firmly attached to a party. I think that any civil service vote would have a considerable antipathy to a government. Often, there may be a tendency for antipathy to the government in power to develop when civil servants strongly oppose its policy, which they see more closely than do most of the electors of the Commonwealth.
I think that two things go against the point of view of those who are concerned about the few people here. When I was first elected in 1945, there were only 13,000 people in the Australian Capital Territory. To-day, there are 41,000 and I understand that it is expected there will be 100,000 in fifteen years’ time. If we are not prepared to wait, it would not be a bad idea if the Australian Capital Territory were somewhat enlarged. A good deal of comment has been made about Washington. One of the points noticed by a visitor to the District of Columbia is that it is not large enough, and in fact the city is spilling over into Maryland and Virginia. It has become difficult to administer because, while it is in fact a city unit, many of its sections transcend the boundaries of the District of Columbia. It would be a good thing, perhaps, if the Australian Capital Territory were enlarged to incorporate Queanbeyan and, if it is felt that the influence of the civil servants is too great, to incorporate many of the farmers in adjoining districts. However, the vital point is that if taxes are to be imposed on the people of this community, they should be fully represented.
The suggestion has been made by the honorable member for Bruce that the case really is not for full voting rights for the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory; it is for municipal government. I strongly believe that Canberra should have a lord mayor and a municipal council. I do not think that it should have anything in the nature of a legislative council because 1 doubt whether the structure of this small Territory would justify it or make it necessary. However, it is interesting to note that the Cole report in 1949, which foreshadows some form of representation for the Australian Capital Territory, deals with the question of a legislative council and sets it aside as not being sound. At the same time, it does recommend that there should be a mayor or a lord mayor, and a city council. 1 feel that the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory is valuable because it reminds us of the fact that we have here a highly intelligent electorate of people who are paying taxation but whose representative may not vote upon the measures that impose the taxation. We should recognize that, by all the principles of parliamentary government known to English-speaking peoples, that is an unsound position. Irrespective of whether honorable members support this amendment at this moment, we should keep in the back of our minds, at least, the thought that in due course we must alter that position.
.- The bill has been brought in by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) in order to amend the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory. It is an important piece of legislation and I believe it is the first piece of legislation to be brought in by the Minister for the Interior. He is to be congratulated on the legislation, and I feel sure that it is only the forerunner of many successful pieces of legislation that he will introduce. He is well qualified to handle this type of legislation, not only because of his legal background but also because questions relating to constitutional law have always interested him very greatly. His contributions in this Parliament with regard to them have always been very useful, and, indeed, he has frequenly been complimented upon them. I see no reason at this point in the history of the Australian Capital Territory to consider that the criticism levelled at his legislation is sound. This type of legislation for the Australian Capital Territory is at this stage the proper legislation: In other words, we have reached the stage when the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory should be extended, but we have not yet reached the stage when he is entitled to full voting rights in this House.
It should not be forgotten that in the original legislation, which was introduced by the Labour Party in 1948, the right of voting was very greatly restricted. It was far more greatly restricted than it will be under this amending legislation. It is quite clear that his own party considered, in 1948 - when, of course, it did not have the benefit of his eloquence - that there should be a very limited right of voting.
I do not wish to suggest in any way that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. I. R. Fraser) is not as valuable as any other honorable member as a member of this Parliament. 1 think we all agree that he has done a very good job in this House and in his electorate. He has been an extremely valuable member of the Parliament, but that is not the point when we consider whether his right to vote should be now a full right of voting or the more extended right which is to be given under this bill, and which still falls short of the full right of voting.
One can consider, of course, the various points that have been put forward in the course of this debate. Some of them are more valuable than others. I do not know that the fact that residents of Washington are not given a vote is a very sound argument. I do not think it will be very sound if it is used in years to come when the copulation of the Australian Capital Territory has increased very greatly. Personally, I would not be prepared to support that argument on present advice. Similarly, I do not know that it is a particularly sound argument to say that there are a great many public servants in Canberra and that they should be excluded from having a vote because they might be able to sway a government T believe that public servants should have the same right to vote as that of any other member of the community, provided they live in an electorate in which the right to vote exists. I can see no reason for depriving a man of the right to vote because he is a public servant. If it came to the point where voting numbers were so equal that a member of the Public Service could persuade the government of the day. that would be the fault not of the public servants, but of the remainder of the people of Australia who gave the public servants that right. We could not blame the public servants for seizing an opportunity that had been given to them.
But, by and large, the right to vote in Australia has been dealt with from the point of view of numbers, and it is quite clear that the population of the Australian Capital Territory still falls very far short of the numbers which are normally required to constitute a separate electorate. The mere fact that special provision could be made for a territory under the Constitution, does not entitle this Parliament to overrule altogether the normal rule that we should be governed by numbers and to make a special rule giving the vote to quite a small collection of people. It may be that the time will come when the population of the Australian Capital Territory is so near that of the ordinary normal electorate that one would say the time has arrived when the Territory could be given a vote because in a few years’ time its population will be close to that of the recognized number in a normal electorate. But that is far from being the case to-day. Reference has been made to the fact that the Tasmanian electorates are small in numbers. That is one of the anomalies of the Constitution and it is not one that should be pursued further. We have to suffer the anomaly that is created by the number of members of Parliament who come from Tasmania. I do not think that anomaly has been particularly satisfactory and we are not obliged to regard it as a precedent. When looking for precedents, we should go on the question of numbers, and should not try to create additional anomalies. That is sound ground.
It was strange to hear the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory referring to such things as a slight on the Territory. I should think that that sort of phrase is not applicable at all in a debate on a measure which will confer greater rights on the Territory. Certainly the view that has been expressed by the honorable member would not be supported in other parts of Australia where it is recognized that the Australian Capital Territory has been given a very great deal indeed. A tremendous amount of Australian money which does not come from the Territory is being expended within it. So far from slighting the Territory, this Parliament has been very kind to it, and
I hope that fairminded citizens of the Australian Capital Territory realize that they are getting a great deal. No doubt, as it is a common outlook in life that no one really gets what he deserves, the people of this Territory might say that they are not getting enough, but the fact is that the Australian Capital Territory is getting substantial amounts and that this Parliament has not been unkind to the Territory by any means.
The honorable member for the Australian Car;tai Territory used the strange phrase “ the fallecy of numbers “. I have often heard him playing with numbers and statistics, bending them here and twisting them here. At times, he has reminded us of a man under the weather who grabs at a lamp post, not to obtain light but because he needs something to support him. Tn this case, he was not able to twist statistics to suit his purpose, so he created the wonderful phrase “ the fallacy of numbers “. It is numbers that count in an elected parliament in a democracy. We are endeavouring to create electorates of equal numbers so far as is possible. Tt ;s true that they set out of adjustment frei time to time and so we have to try to bring them into adjustment. But in this esse, if we were to give full voting rights we would create an anomaly which would not be justified.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). in one of his idealistic speeches which one can hardly regard as practical, raised the old cry, the well-worn slogan, of “ no taxation without representation “.
– It lost us America.
– One should examine what that means. Does the interjection of the honorable member mean that we are going to lose Canberra? Does it mean that the people of Canberra are prepared to support themselves, and that they do not want any support from the Australian Government? The honorable member is strangely silent when I put that proposition to him.
– Because it is such a silly proposition.
– The honorable member has referred to the loss of America. It will be recalled that the American people were being taxed for the benefit of the English Crown, and it was for this reason that the slogan that has been mentioned - it was no more than a slogan - came to be used. I refer to the slogan, “ No taxation without representation “. But the people of Canberra have representation, and extremely effective representation. They have a representative who does not hesitate to make himself heard on every possible occasion, even on an occasion when I am speaking. He has had a right to vote, and that right is now being substantially widened. This is being done by those on this side of the House, and it should be remembered that no move for such an increase was made at any time by honorable members opposite. As is so often the case, when the Opposition finds that this Government is prepared to grant something, it hops in and says, “ We will see if we can get more. We will try to achieve greater popularity in Canberra “.
– We brought in a bill last year.
– I submit to the House that there is an obvious difference between the cases that have been put by the honorable member for Fremantle and the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. No doubt a time will come when the people of this Territory should have a representative in this House with full voting rights, but that time has not yet arrived, and it would not be right, from the point of view of the people of Australia as a whole, to grant special voting rights to the representative of the Australian Capital Territory in this place. Very large amounts of money, taken from the pockets of the people of Australia, are being spent in this favoured Territory. The amount of money that is paid in taxes by the people of Canberra is very small when compared with the amount that is being spent for them. In those circumstances there is no infringement of the principle, as it is called - I prefer to call it a slogan - of no taxation without representation. There is no infringement of any democratic principle. It has been said that the principle of democracy is in favour of an extension of these voting rights. On the contrary, the principle of democracy is against such an extension, and there is no sound fundamental reason why the Parliament should do more in this instance than it is proposed! should be- done under the legislation before us.
.- I support the amendment that has been moved’ by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). I disagree with many of the commentsmade by my respected friends, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske)and the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). I disagree with the suggestion that this legislation will greatly enlarge the voting powers of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. It would be as well for the House to consider just what his existing powers are and what they will be if thislegislation is passed without amendment.
The original act, passed in 1949, could be regarded, I suppose, as an experimental piece of legislation, because it was something new from the stand-point of representation of residents of the Territory. Certain rights were given to the member for the Territory, but certain disabilities were apparent in the legislation introduced at that time. The original act provided that the member may vote on any motion for the disallowance of an ordinance of the Territory. That, in brief, is the power that he has at present. He may vote on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance or on any amendment of such amotion. Section 6 of the original act limited his rights. He could not be considered in deciding the question whether a quorum existed in the House. He could’ not be chosen as Speaker or Chairman of Committees. He could not be counted for the purpose of ascertaining certain other things.
The original act gave him one right and’ denied him three others. What is proposed in the measure now before us? The bill does not propose to extend his powersof voting to any very great extent. He is to be given the right to vote on a proposed’ law relating solely to the Territory. In a consideration of a law which affects other places as well as the Territory he will be debarred from voting. The bill continueshis existing right to vote on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance and an amendment of such a motion. He is to be given one further small power. He shall have the right to vote on a motion for the disallowance of a regulation made under an ordinance. Finally, he will be able to vote on a motion for the disallowance of a modification or variation of the plan of the lay-out of the city of Canberra. I suggest that in the life of any one Parliament the occasions on which the member for the Australian Capital Territory will have the opportunity of exercising a vote will be very limited indeed.
The Opposition contends that since the legislation was passed ten years ago we have gone beyond the experimental stage and are now in a position to review the matter in its proper perspective and decide whether or not the member for the Australian Capital Territory, in the existing circumstances, should have effective voting rights in the same way as every other member of the House of Representatives. Having considered the matter from every angle, we say that he should have such a right.
Many arguments have been put forward to refute this suggestion. Reference has been made to the provisions of section 24 of the Constitution, which deals with the numbers of persons required to form an electorate. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, in his speech to the House, used the phrase, “ the fallacy of numbers “, to which the honorable member for Balaclava objected. In this matter I would prefer the expression, “ the hypnotism of numbers “. When the question of determining how persons should be elected to the House of Representatives was being considered by the founders of the Constitution, they had certain difficulties to overcome. At that time there was a demand for adult suffrage, which was not operating in some of the States. So they had to translate into the Constitution a provision that would give adult suffrage throughout the Commonwealth. Because sovereign States were delegating or surrendering certain of their powers to the Commonwealth, it was necessary that their representatives should never be below a certain number. So, we have in the Constitution a provision that no State shall have fewer than five representatives. That was a very wise provision, because it gave the States for all time security of representation in the Federal Parliament.
That system is now attacked on the ground that if the member for the Aus tralian Capital Territory is to have an effective vote in this House, there will be a departure from the principles that are made secure by the Constitution at the present time. I remind the House that ever since Commonwealth parliaments have been elected there has been a departure from the principles laid down in section 24 of the Constitution. Even to-day we have the anomalous position that the honorablemember for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) represents 70,000 people, while, on the figures given by the Minister, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie represents only 31,000 people. In this Parliament, as in every parliament that has preceded it, we have the anomalousposition that some members represent only half the number of electors represented by other members.
– That will be adjusted.
– Of course, it is subject to adjustment. Provision for adjustment is made in the Constitution. The adjustment takes place, only after a census is. taken, which is generally once every ten years. The regular taking of censuses wasinterrupted because of economic conditions in 1931, and later because of war conditions, but eventually we shall return totaking censuses every ten years, and these glaring anomalies will be corrected. We had a re-distribution of electorates in 1955, but in the meantime, the electors of Lalor, and possibly of other electorates, haveincreased by more than 50 per cent. TheConstitution provides for a quota, which may be exceeded or reduced by one-fifth. If the quota is 80,000, some electorates may have an enrolment of 96,000, while othershave only 64,000.
The essential matter to consider is that the Constitution was drawn to ensure that the people had adequate representation. At the time, only the six States had to be taken into consideration. It was realized, becauseof the provision in respect of the Australian Capital Territory, that territories might become possessions of the Commonwealth, or that States might surrender portion of their territory to the Commonwealth. It was therefore decided that the Commonwealth Parliament itself should determinethe basis of representation in the Parliament of such territories. That was another clearindication that the founders of the Constitution had in mind that all persons in the-
Commonwealth were entitled to representation in the Commonwealth Parliament. The representation to be given, and the powers of the representatives, were questions for the Parliament to determine, as the situation arose. It is therefore perfectly competent for this Parliament to determine whether the member for the Australian Capital Territory will have the same full voting power as is possessed by any other member.
In the course of this debate, more than one speaker has mentioned the amount of money expended in the Australian Capital Territory. It was determined at the time of Federation that a special area would be selected for use as the Australian Capital Territory, and it was obvious that once the Parliament made a decision to create a city as the capital of the Commonwealth, the Territory in which it was located must be the subject of development by the Commonwealth Parliament itself. The development that has taken place in Canberra is no greater, when population is taken into account, than that faced by the United States of America in respect of the District of Columbia. It is rather interesting to remember that when the District of Columbia was created, land was surrendered by the States of Maryland and Virginia. After surveying this land, the United States Government of the time made the mistake of saying that the area was too great, and it ceded some of the land back to Maryland and Virginia, with the consequences described bv the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). The District of Columbia is overcrowded and the population has spilled over into Maryland and Virginia.
Whatever money is spent in Canberra is necessary for the development of it and of the Australian Capital Territory. The mere fact that the people of Canberra do nol provide all of that money and that some of it comes from the other taxpayers of Australia is no reason why Canberra residents should be deprived of effective representation in the Commonwealth Parliament. One might easily say that as the Snowy Mountains scheme, which is necessary for the welfare of Australia, is costing huge sums of money, the people in that area are receiving more than their fair due of the moneys raised from the people of Australia. Canberra is an expanding centre. In 1949 its population was 18.000 or 19.000.
To-day, ten years later, it is 43,000 and the number of electors is about 22,000. These people constitute a very important section of the Commonwealth. We must bear in mind that, prior to the ceding of this Territory to the Commonwealth, all the persons then living here were enrolled in various electorates of New South Wales and were effectively represented by the members whom they, as citizens of New South Wales, elected. When the Territory came under the control of the Commonwealth, the first result was an entire loss by those citizens of their democratic franchise. Whilst it is true that in the last ten years residents of the Australian Capital Territory have had representation in this House, that representation is not effective to the extent that it does not enable the views of the people of Canberra upon current legislation to be given full effect. I disagree with the interpretation by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) of the phrase “ no taxation without representation”. It is true that that is a slogan, but, like many other slogans, it expresses a principle that is in accordance with democratic ideals. That principle is that if people are to obey the laws and pay the taxes then they are entitled to some say in the election of those who make the laws in respect of taxation and other matters which the people must obey. To the extent that we deny the people of Canberra the right of an effective say in these questions, we are being false to the democratic ideals upon which the Australian way of life is based. One of those ideals is that the people, by their vote, shall determine who will make laws and impose the taxes which in the first case the people have to obey and in the second case have to pay. The time has now been reached when the existing legislation should be repealed and the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory given a fully effective vote in this House.
In conclusion, I say that the whole question of adult suffrage has dominated Australian political life. Ever since the Eureka Stockade the demand on the part of the people for adult suffrage and the right to determine who shall be their representatives to make the laws has been pre-eminent in Australian life. In refusing the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory the right to vote on all matters coming before this House, we are departing from the principles and ideals for which the Australian community stands, which members on the Government side say they always stand for and which the Labour Party has always put forward as the ideals of this country.
I strongly support the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. I believe that its adoption would indicate that the spirit of democracy is not dead in Australia and that we wish to give the people of Canberra the right to have the same effective representation as is given to all other sections of the Australian people.
– 1 am not very greatly impressed with arguments which have been put forward based upon the theory of numbers affecting the question of whether full voting rights should be given in this Federal Parliament to the representative of the Australian Capital Territory. I noted, when the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) was speaking on this subject, as every one who reads “ Hansard “ will see, that no doubt quite unintentionally, he committed the Minister for the interior (Mr. Freeth), who is in charge of the measure, to a statement which he never made. I refer to the honorable member’s suggestion that when the population increases substantially then full voting rights should be given to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. As a matter of fact what the Minister did say was rather ambiguous. He said that when that day comes the voting rights of the member for the Australian Capital Territory might well come up for consideration by a future government. But that is entirely different from committing himself to the specific theory that the rights of the representative of the Australian Capital Territory in this House should be determined by the number of electors within the Territory compared with the numbers enrolled in other electorates.
A good deal of argument has developed along various lines, but I suggest that the real problem before the House is inherent in the Australian Constitution itself. I know that it is possible to quote figures to prove practically anything, and perhaps I may be accused of quoting the Constitu tion in similar fashion not only in refutation of what the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has said but also as a ground on which to base my own arguments. But I draw the attention of honorable, members to the preamble of the Constitution, which says -
Whereas the people of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God, have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and under the Constitution hereby established:
In other words, the pact agreed to at federation was for one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth, and the emphasis was upon the word “ Federal “. That is an implication which cannot be lightly dismissed in this discussion. Section 6 of the Constitution reads - “ The States “ shall mean such of the colonies of New South Wales, New Zealand, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, including the northern territory of South Australia, as for the time being are parts of the Commonwealth, and such colonies or territories as may be admitted into or established by the Commonwealth as States; and each of such parts of the Commonwealth shall be called “ a State “.
It was quite clear in that section that the idea of the federation consisting of States was carried through and provision was made for the admission of possible other territories which, on being admitted, shall be called States. Section 122 of chapter VI., which my honorable friend quoted with great approval and dilated upon at length, provides -
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
I am quite prepared to agree that that does make provision for the possible representation of the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and possibly the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, but I think th:;t it has to be read in conjunction with section 6 and with the declaratory section which I read first. I think it is wresting the true meaning to suggest that representation based upon numbers should be provided in respect of the Australian Capital Territory. That is altogether fallacious. Such a proposal would contain the seeds of countless future arguments and would not get either the Australian Capital Territory or Australia very far. It would import into the Constitution something that is entirely alien to its original purpose.
If the day ever comes when the people of Australia, in their unwisdom as far as I am concerned, decide to wipe out the federation and try the experiment, which as far as I know, has never succeeded in a country of vast area, of a unified form of government, then a slightly different position would apply. But I want to ask those who favour the theory that there should be full representation of the Federal Capital in this Parliament these questions: What is the true position of the Australian Capital Terriory in relation to the Federal Parliament? Is there not an anomaly there? I ask those questions for this reason: In the States, which make up the Commonwealth, and which were signatories either before or after the actual founding of the Commonwealth, you have in many cases three tiers of government. You have local government, what is called a county council form of ad hoc government in special cases, and you have State government. While we may disregard the intermediate tier and go back to the basis of all true government - that is local government - we then find that every man who sits in this House comes from a State and1 represents that State. He may not represent it in the narrowest sense of the term. He may not feel completely bound simply to pay regard to the interests cf the State - I hope he never does - but he is elected from a State. Before coming to the Commonwealth Parliament he probably had some experience of local government, which is an integral part of State government.
What does the member for the Australian Capital Territory represent? There is no State in the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian Capital Territory is an amorphous constitutional fact, emerging - slowly at first but rapidly now - from the primaeval beauty of a station property into something like a modern city. But there is no local government here. There is no basic body. There is no State government. The member for the Australian
Capital Territory does not represent a State. He simply represents a body of citizens. Those citizens, apart from the fact that they inhabit a separate Territory established by the Constitution, have no normal tradition of government. When one looks at this matter one finds that the very presence in this Parliament of the representative of the Australian Capital Territory is in itself a device of political expediency. But this is not a State. In the nature of things the idea that this Territory should be a State is entirely opposed to the concept of the Australian Capital Territory. Therefore, you seek some means by which you can reply to the natural demand of a very vigorous and, in the main, highly educated body of citizens to have some voice in the Federal Parliament.
The Australian Capital Territory is an area indefinite in point of purpose and also, from the point of view of argument, indefinite as to its status under the Constitution. The Constitution provides that there shall be a capital Territory, and that it shall be not less than 100 miles from the capital of New South Wales - Sydney. That provision was in itself a compromise that led to the establishment of the capital Territory here. There had been a struggle between Melbourne and Sydney as to which city should be made the federal capital, and it was finally decided along the lines that I have just indicated - a very good idea. It meant that the capital Territory was well away from both Sydney and Melbourne, and had some chance of eventually acquiring an independent soul. ls full recognition of the Australian Capital Territory representative possible and practicable under our Constitution? It may be possible, as this Parliament may construe section 122 of the Constitution, but is it desirable? Is it desirable in the federal set-up that you should have somebody here who does not represent a State, in an area that has no true local government; somebody who could possibly decide the fate of a government? T am not speaking of this Government in particular, which has a large majority in this House, but of any government. Is it proper that any man who does not himself represent a State should be in the position of possibly infringing on the rights of the States? I do not think that such a situation is desirable, .even if it is practical.
Can a government allow any authority to mar or destroy the quality of capital city development? It may be argued that hitherto governments themselves have allowed a good deal of marring and destroying, but could you have even a local government in this capital city with full powers to determine what should be done with regard to planning and other things? I do not think you could. I can point to suburbs such as Bondi, in Sydney - with a most beautiful piece of sea coast - which have been ruined simply because the men engaged in local government in charge of the area too often were more concerned with making money from the sale of blocks of land than they were with trying to preserve some of the natural beauties of the area. I do not think that any government could possibly permit full local government in the Australian Capital Territory in the sense of handing over not only the rating powers, which any local government authority would probably find highly embarrassing, but also full control of the development and alteration of the Capital Territory.
Therefore, we come to this position: Is there no alternative but to leave the Federal Capital as it is at the present time? I think there is a practical alternative, although it is circumscribed. I think that within limitations imposed upon it, a body could exercise many of the powers of local government, but it could only exercise them, in my opinion, under the control of a capital territory commission responsible to the Government. In this capital city there will be for all time a great many areas which could not possibly be the responsibility of any local government body. There will be very expensive developments in the Federal Capital. For the good name of Australia, we have to see that the control of this area remains the responsibility of the Federal Parliament so that there may be an ordered plan which can be challenged in Parliament so that the Government itself may be brought to book and not thrust its responsibilities on to an authority such as a full local government body.
Many things require attention such as the municipal library system for this Territory recommended by the library committee which was appointed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). That is one of the things which, under a reasonable authority, could do a tremendous lot for this Territory. I suggest that, as the place grows in population, there will have to be a steady study of what powers could be developed, even to the point of final decision by the local citizens, here, but always subject to the overriding requirements of the general plan.
I think that the consideration of this question on the basis of numbers is a trap which will ultimately make those who have considered it in that way rather sorry that they branched into that line of argument. I feel that it is utterly unsound. If this were a State of 40,000 citizens or an area capable of being a State of 40,000 citizens I would say that full-voting representation in this Parliament, although perhaps premature at this stage, would be worthy of consideration. If it were an area like the Northern Territory with a normal process of development - as far as one can use the word “ normal “ - of the community taking place, eventually, the citizens, for good reason, would have to have control of their own affairs. This Territory, however, has been expressly created as the site for a capital city. In it have to be provided all the facilities that such a city requires. Standards have to be high. This is a different range of things altogether. Consequently, I cannot agree that the voting power sought for the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory should be granted. Without laboring this question too much, I want to refer to one or two facts regarding production in this Territory. Taking the figures for 1956-57, which may be considered as fairly favorable, the total production of Australia was worth £2,854,000,000. In New South Wales it was worth £1,138,000,000. Even in little Tasmania, the figure was nearly £88,700,000. In the Australian Capital Territory it was £1,500,000.
In the same year, the total expenditure in the Australian Capital Territory was approximately £2,700,000 for administration and maintenance, and the cost of capital works and services amounted to £5,200,000, speaking in round figures. The total was about £7,900,000, against a total revenue of £1,500,000. I admit freely that that should not be the final test of whether the Territory should have full representation. I think that the real test is whether it is practicable under the Constitution, whether it is desirable under the Constitution and whether, having regard to the difficulties associated with this special organ of government and the special population associated with it, there should be an extension of powers beyond those which have been already given. In referring to the “ special population “ I make no reflection on public servants. I am speaking, not of them, but of the whole set-up.
Quite frankly, I feel that, under the Constitution, there is not a case to support the amendment. I think the Minister, as one of our members has said, has been, perhaps, over-generous in what he has granted. I would not contest that point too much but I feel that, at least, he has been generous to the Australian Capital Territory. I feel that when those concerned look at the question without bias they will agree that the members who support the passage of the bill without amendment are fully justified in so doing.
Sitting suspended from 5.51 to 8 p.m.
Mr. LUCHETTI (Macquarie) [8.01.- Mr. Speaker, this bill, which is designed to amend section 6 of the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act 1948-1949. is inadequate to meet the democratic needs of the people of the Australian Capital Territory. It is in fact a betrayal, here in the National Capital, of the democratic parliamentary institution to which we all subscribe. It is limited to the extension of the voting powers of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory in a few minor particulars in matters relating only to the National Capital. In broad matters affecting Australia, that member will have no vote. His views may be expressed, but his vote is stifled and he, and, through him, the people of this Territory, are not allowed to register a vote in division. The honorable member for the Territory is to be allowed a vote in matters dealing with the disallowance of regulations, on any motion to disallow a variation of the Canberra plan, and on any proposed law solely affecting the Australian Capital Territory.
May I make this comment - and I do so more in sadness than in anger: It is a reproach to this Administration that the Australian Capital Territory is the most un-Australian community in the whole of Australia. At least, in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, there is a Legislative Council, and in the Northern Territory, there is a Legislative Council. In Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, there is a city council, but here, in the Australian Capital Territory, I can truly say. we have an un-Australian community. It is un-Australian because it does not breathe the spirit of democracy - the spirit which was expressed by Lalor and those people who made the character of Australia, the spirit which we feel is so much a part of our very existence and which stamps Australians as one of the most democratic people in the world. This community is un-Australian because there is no local government here, and it is idle for honorable members on the Government side of the House to make excuses about that. There is no local government here because the Government itself has failed to make that kind of government available to the people of the Territory and to give to them fitting opportunities and responsibilities in the National Capital. There is here no government on the State level.
As I have said, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, of course, is denied his full voting powers. Not only is he denied a vote in this chamber in matters affecting the nation generally - in matters concerned with the problems of peace and war, security and the development of the nation - but also he is denied a vote in matters of trade and in the affairs of this Parliament. He is not permitted to preside over any of the proceedings of this place, or to take part in the ordinary workings of this democratic institution. Just as the member for the Territory is denied a vote in these matters, so may we well say that those who elect him - the SolicitorGeneral, the heads of the defence departments, the professors of the Australian National University, the Treasury officials, and officers of the Department of Trade and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - are denied the right for their representative to cast a vote in division in matters related to the affairs of this nation. Each and every one of those people who help to make up the population of the Australian Capital Territory is denied that right, as if they were still adolescent. I have not come into the chamber this evening to argue, in any circumstances, about the quality of the representation that they are given. I merely give those examples of people who reside here and who are denied the right to cast a vote in this chamber through their representative. Dame Pattie Menzies, the wife of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), lives in Canberra and no doubt records a vote here for the election of the local member to this National Parliament, which denies him the right to record a vote in the vital affairs of the nation.
The right to vote is a most important right, and I believe that in this National Parliament, which is the centre of the government of this country, and where the fate of the nation is determined, not only should the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory have the right to make his voice heard, as we hear from time to time the voice of the present honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser), expressing sound, cold, logical opinions on the various matters which come before us, and indeed, on numerous matters which are not merely the concern of the Territory, but are of much wider concern. In addition, that honorable member should have the right to have his vote recorded on behalf of the people of this Territory on matters that vitally affect the nation. Surely the Government has a responsibility to give a lead in the National Capital in democratic expression and not to treat the people of the Australian Capital Territory as if they were merely a band of adolescents.
The work and persistence of the present honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory in endeavouring to obtain a full vote here are well known. We all know how he has constantly directed attention to the fact that the voting rights of not only himself but also the people whom he represents have been stifled. One can think of many diverse duties that the member for this Territory has. He is obliged to represent the people at all levels of government in employer-employee relations and in relations between citizen and government. In addition, as there is no local government in existence here, he is obliged, to a large extent, also to be the spokesman of the people in regard to local government matters, housing and schools, as well as to speak for the Parents and Citizens Association and many other bodies. I represent a country electorate myself, and I can well imagine the kinds of matters that come before the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory from time to time for his consideration, and the way in which he is snowed under by the many different tasks that he is called upon to perform. Undoubtedly, the present member performs those tasks to the satisfaction of the people of the Territory. I believe it is a very great tribute to him that, on each occasion on which he has offered himself to the people of the Territory for election, he has been returned. His work is certainly approved at election time, and there is no better time for one to find one’s service to the people approved.
Despite what some honorable members have had to say, there is no barrier in the way of giving effect to the desires of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. Therefore, I support most enthusiastically the amendment that he has moved, and the later amendments that he has foreshadowed. In Chapter VI. of the Australian Constitution, which deals with new States, section 122 provides for the government of territories in these words -
The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.
That, Mr. Speaker, clearly clothes this National Parliament with the authority to take the action that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory asks it to take on this occasion.
The first legislation to give a limited vote to the representative of the Australian Capital Territory in this Parliament was introduced by a Labour government. Last year, a private member’s bill was introduced to deal with this matter and, to put the question beyond any doubt, to give the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory the right to record a vote on all matters affecting the nation. Now, the Labour Party, led on this occasion by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory himself, seeks to do that again by proposing an amendment to the bill before the House.
I consider that this is a reasonable approach to the matter, and I was staggered to hear some of the views expressed by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), a man who has had a rich experience in government but who now seems to be obsessed with ideas about State governments and State rights. To judge from his remarks he seems to believe that the only members entitled to record a vote here are those who reside within the confines of a State. Anybody who, like the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, is a territorian - a member who resides in a Territory of the Commonwealth - is apparently not entitled to a vote according to the honorable member for New England, because he does not live in a State. He is stateless, and so are the people living in this Territory. They, too, are stateless and voteless because they live in the Australian Capital Territory. 1 was always led to believe that the right to vote was not determined by where you lived, but by whether the area in which you lived had a certain number of people in it and whether you qualified in other respects as a voter. Let us not forget that the people of the Australian Capital Territory are just as much people with duties, with responsibilities, with rights, as are people living in any other community in Australia. To deny the people of the Australian Capital Territory effective representation because they do not live in a State - which seems to be why the honorable member for New England would deny them that right - is to act in opposition to the very basis of constitutional government. It is, in fact, an extraordinary state of affairs.
I should like to direct the attention of the House to the fact that this is the House of Representatives. This is where the representatives of the people meet. This is not a States House. The other place, the Senate, is the States House - if there is a States House - and that is where the States ought to be represented. If we are to have such statements about representation of the States as the honorable member for New
England made this afternoon, they might be well made in that other place.
The honorable member for New England also said that there was no local government in the Australian Capital Territory. Of course there is not! I have already referred to that. The reason for the nonexistence of local government in this capital Territory is that the Government will not permit local government to grow and serve the people of this area. The blame for that does not rest upon the Parliament generally - and especially not on honorable members on this side - but rests fairly and squarely on the Administration, because it has not taken the people of this Territory into its confidence and given them the right to control their affairs and, incidentally, to pay something for being allowed to undertake local government responsibilities.
The Minister said that this matter was also something that might be considered in the future. He makes no definite promise that in the near future the Australian Capital Territory will get either local government or an effective vote in this Parliament. He says that provisions for giving the member for the Australian Capital Territory a vote here will be dealt with in the future. I think he said that it might well come up for consideration in the future.
Why this reluctance on the part of the Government to give the people of this area an effective vote? What fundamental argument is there against the people of the Australian Capital Territory having effective representation in this Parliament? It seems to me that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) has put his finger on the reason for it all. The cardinal sin of the people of the Australian Capital Territory is that they understand the worth of an able, capable, sincere and conscientious representative, and the fact that they return him to Parliament at general elections is apparently the only reason the Government has for denying the member for the Australian Capital Territory an effective vote.
This Government would not suffer if the honorable member for the Territory had an effective vote in this House, because the Government at present has sufficient numbers to control the Parliament even if the Opposition had another vote. I know from practical experience that the making of pleas in Parliament is of little or no avail, because one hardly ever succeeds as a result of making pleas, but I should like to say now that I sincerely trust that the conscience of the nation will be roused in regard to this matter so that the people of the Australian Capital Territory who pay their taxes like other Australians, will be given an effective voice in the affairs of the nation. I think the Government has a lot to answer for in the fact that, despite the great number of cars registered in the Territory, very little money is returned to this Territory for the building of roads, and very little is spent on the building of roads in its immediate vicinity. The people of the Australian Capital Territory pay a great amount of money in car registration fees. The Government also has something to answer for in relation to the use made of taxes gathered in the Territory, and it has no real basis for refusing voting rights to the representative of the Territory.
I say that the Government is not facing this constitutional problem as it should, but is playing politics. It is a sorry state of affairs that a man of the capacity, character and record of service of the present honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory should not have an effective vote in this House.
Now I turn to the question of the number of people living in the electorate. It is well known that there are electorates in Australia - for instance, certain electorates in Tasmania, and the electorate of Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia - where electors number about 31,000. It is also known that as a result of redistribution of boundaries there is a quite substantial difference in the numbers of people who elect representatives to Parliament for some electorates at present. In some electorates 70,000 people elect one representative to Parliament, whereas in the Kalgoorlie electorate about 31,000 people elect one representative. I think that in view of that disparity a case can be made out for giving the 22,000 electors of the Territory an effective vote in this Parliament. We know, as a result of painful experience, however, that it is most difficult to get new legislation introduced into this chamber.
The population of the Australian Capital Territory has doubled in the last eight years, and it could increase greatly in the next three years, during the life of this
Parliament. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that as the population of the Australian Capital Territory doubled in the last eight years, and the number of electors enrolled at present is almost 22,000, the number of electors might well reach 30,000 during the life of the present Parliament. If that should happen, I cannot see why the Territory, with 30,000 electors, should be denied the right to elect a member with full voting rights - especially when in this National Parliament representatives from claimant States and elsewhere have a full vote. In view of the phenomenal development that is taking place in the Australian Capital Territory, and the plans that are afoot for further development, as well as the estimate that there will be 80,000 people here in ten years’ time and 100,000 people in fourteen years’ time, it seems to me a most logical and reasonable proposition that the representative of the Australian Capital Territory should be given a vote and a voice in the affairs of this nation at the present time, and that this should not be further delayed.
– Would you apply that to representation by senators?
– I would not support representation of the Australian Capital Territory in the Senate in any circumstances at all. There should be a reasonable approach to this matter, and I think we ought to do what I have suggested. But if the Government will not give full voting rights to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, there is little hope in the foreseeable future of the right to elect senators being given. That is, of course, another matter entirely.
I do not think that the Government is doing enough to bring people to the Australian Capital Territory. The Australian Broadcasting Commission should be established here. It is well known that the news section was here during and immediately after the war, but I understand that it was then transferred to Sydney. It should be in the National Capital. The Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Shipping and Transport should be here. The High Court of Australia should be transferred to the National Capital. The Mint and Note Issue Department, and all service departments, should be here. I want to express my personal disapproval of this
Government’s stop-gap, piecemeal development of the Australian capital. Such buildings as that constructed by the PostmasterGeneral in front of the Hotel Kurrajong are an utter disgrace. Planning should go ahead in a more truly Australian style, with a full recognition that this is the National Capital of Australia, and the centre of government. We must build for the future in a worth-while fashion, and not put up shanty, stop-gap buildings that will eventually have to be pulled down at great cost and inconvenience.
I have addressed myself to this subject because I believe that an unanswerable case has been made by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. He has made it clear that if taxation is to be imposed then the elected representative of the Territory should have full voting rights. On the question of numbers, I think I have proved abundantly that in the course of three years this area may have 30,000 voters, which is approximately the number of electors in Tasmanian electorates and in the electorate of Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia. To be consistent, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory should have equal rights. The Government’s plans for the Territory provide that 80,000 people will be here in ten years and 100,000 in fourteen years. I say to the Government, and to the Minister, that now is the time to deal effectively with this matter, and to put it beyond any doubt. We should face our responsibilities and should hold our heads up as true Australians, knowing that the Australian Capital Territory is represented by a member with full voting rights. I heartily support the amendment.
– In discussing the bill before the House, which concerns the extension of voting rights for the member for the Australian Capital Territory, whoever he may be. we must p.ive due consideration not only to the arguments of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who presented the case so ably, and of honorable members on the Government side, but also to the admissions of Opposition members. If we have any regard for numerical representation in Australia, it is quite obvious, despite the extremely persuasive arguments of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) that, however worthy be the member for the Australian Capital Territory, the very liberal rights given in this bill should not be made greater. In discussing the bill, we should get down to a consideration of the philosophy of representation. After all, arguments about no taxation without representation seem to boil down, in the minds of many people, to having a member in the Parliament who will express a view.
The honorable member for Macquarie made great play on the fact that the Solicitor-General and various other people of great distinction in the community, by virtue of the fact that they are enrolled in the Territory, have no power to record a view in the House through the vote of their elected member. That, obviously, is a form of representation. With all due respect to the capacity, hard work and ability of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) and his predecessor, I still think that much of the national time is taken on what I term briefly as parochial subjects. Surely it is a little out of place in the Parliament of Australia to discuss whether there should be a new drainage scheme for Narrabundah. I feel that that it should be foreign to the deliberations of a National Parliament to concentrate to such an extent on the problems of a particular area, irrespective of the fact that the honorable member for Macquarie described the people here as being without representation on a municipal level. What is the object of the Advisory Council? It deliberates on these problems and makes representations to the Government. Admittedly, they have no autonomous authority but at least they have an advisory capacity, which is so necessary.
I come back to the question of representation. As I mentioned earlier, there seems to be an idea in the minds of honorable members opposite that representation consists entirely in being represented in this Parliament. I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that no other part of a population of Australia to-day has anything like the influence or the capacity to determine political problems as the population of the Australian Capital Territory, particularly that element that lives in Canberra. Many people who are interested in political matters constantly have the ear of the member, or of the Minister or of whoever makes the decision. I represent a large country area with twice the enrolled electors of the Territory. With due respect to myself, I hope that I represent them in this place. I am quite satisfied that the electors of Corangamite have not a tenth of the influence on politics that the people in Canberra have in national politics, irrespective of the capacity of their member.
In addition, we should take note of this point - Canberra has a very live, active, intelligent, well-informed and, I believe, influential organ of the press in the “ Canberra Times “. Every honorable member reads the “ Canberra Times “. Whether we like it or not we must absorb the atmosphere pervading Canberra news and learn of the problems that concern the people in Canberra. Irrespective of our convictions, we must instinctively and unavoidably be dragged into the problems of Canberra. We inform our minds on them and make our own decisions. I suggest again, on the second level, that the force and the power of this newspaper in Canberra and the standard of editorials of its capable editor, Mr. Shakespeare, must have a tremendous influence on this House. I do not deride the capacity of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. He is a hard-working and most efficient man, but we must remember that, apart from his influence, the influence of this element of the population on the decisions of government which concern not only Canberra but Australia as a whole is great. This influence arises through the capacity of the people of Canberra, who are in close association with those who make governmental decisions, and through the capacity of this very powerful and wellinformed journal. It would be completely wrong to reduce Canberra’s influence to a numerical representation in the House and fly in the face of the principle which is generally observed in connexion with parliamentary representation throughout Australia.
It would be foolish to deny that obviously the Australian Capital Territory must have full representation in this House eventually, and the day is not far distant. That is obvious from the rate of development of the National Capital. However, I think we would be interpreting the provisions of the Constitution too generously and would also be rather too generous to the capacity of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, if we granted him the right that is suggested by the Opposition. I repeat that no area in Australia has more political influence than that in the hands of the population of Canberra. As a member of the legislature from another part of Australia, I believe that a certain amount of time is wasted on what I would call the parochial problems of Canberra which could be dealt with better by another deliberative body. Of course, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, in looking after his own electorate, must deal with the individual problems of Canberra, but what sort of cheer would I get if I suggested to the House that it was time Arn rat was given support for a new drainage scheme, or that a house should be pulled down to make room for a new post office? The House would ask: What has that to do with national politics? It seems to be accepted, so far as the Australian Capital Territory is concerned, that the discussions of the House should be delayed and, to a certain extent circumvented, by the introduction of parochial matters affecting Canberra. 1 do not want to take up the time of honorable members because arguments against voting rights for the member for the Australian Capital Territory have been put clearly by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) and other honorable members on the Government side. We believe that the time has arrived when the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory should have a deliberative vote on affairs which concern his own electorate - which is numerically weak - but until the Territory has an electoral population which will compare with the other electorates throughout Australia, it is asking too much of the people to allow the member for the Australian Capital Territory, however efficient he may be, to make decis:ons on national affairs. With the rapid progress of Canberra and the population of the Australian Capital Territory in general. the day is not far distant when this Territory will qualify numerically for a representative in this House with a full deliberative vote. I hope it will qualify, because it will add strength to the Parliament. The representative will be drawn f>o*n a well-informed population close to he problems of government. I hope and expect that when the member elected by a fully qualified electorate takes his place in this House to represent the Australian Capital Territory, he will have vital influence on the direction of national affairs.
.- I support the amendment that has been moved by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). The amendment provides that the member for the Australian Capital Territory should have the same voting rights as any other member representing an electorate in this Parliament. Nothing can be said against that proposition on the ground of equity. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) has indulged in a good deal of specious reasoning. I have only to mention one or two matters he raised to show how specious is his argument. He said that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory indulges in criticism of the Government on matters affecting Canberra. He gave the impression that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory was the only member of this chamber who engaged in parish pump politics. Persons outside this chamber have only to listen to the proceedings at question time to hear Ministers being interrogated about the lack of postal facilities in one district, the failure to build a post office in some town, or to provide telephone communications somewhere else. Any one doing that would soon learn how much parish pump politics are indulged in within this chamber.
Since the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has been a member of this House - and he is the second representative, the first having been the late Dr. Nott - he has tried to take a national view on all questions. He has tried to help in the development of Canberra, and if he had not been here perhaps somebody else would not have done nearly as well as he has. This is the only forum open to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. There is no municipal authority in Canberra and no State parliament. The member for the Australian Capital Territory has only one institution through which he can express the opinions and desires of the people of Canberra. The National Capital is growing very rapidly. The honorable member for Corangamite says that some day, when Canberra has 20,000 or 30,000 more people, that will be the day when the member for the Australian Capital Territory can be given more voting rights than he has to-day. If the member for this Territory is to be entitled to voting rights then, he is entitled to them now. Our criticism centres on the principle of a member occupying a place in this Parliament without voting rights. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory can vote in this House only on the disallowance of an ordinance affecting the Territory. The extended powers to be given to him consist of the right to vote -
The legislation does not define what “ solely “ means. It leaves the matter to Mr. Speaker for the time being or the Chairman of Committees or whoever happens to occupy the chair in committee or in the House when the question arises. It could arise suddenly.
– Is the honorable member reflecting on the Chair?
– Of course not, but it is unfair for this legislation to place responsibility on the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees to determine what legislation relates solely to the Australian Capital Territory.
– They do that every day.
– That may be so, but I think it should be much more clearly expressed in regard to the affairs of this Territory.
– It should be more definite.
– It should be more definite, as the distinguished honorable member for Bonython has said by way of interjection. He was formerly the Speaker in this House. He had the responsibility in his time of making decisions on matters of very real importance. This measure also provides that the member for the Australian Capital Territory may vote -
Outside of those voting rights he has only the right to speak in this chamber. He cannot take part in a division. He cannot act as a teller. He cannot be counted when considering whether or not a quorum is present. He cannot be the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees. But he can be a Minister, although, as a Minister, he would not be able to make a motion in connexion with the submission of a bill. How Gilbertian the whole situation becomes! The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) is in the same position. Looking now at these two very able, intelligent and capable younger men in this Parliament, I am sure that when the Labour Party comes back to power, they will both be Ministers. I hope that we will prepare the way now, so that they will not be embarrassed when they take office in the next Labour Government.
All that either of these two honorable members can do by way of voting in this Parliament is to cast votes on parochial issues, or on issues not affecting the whole of Australia, its development and its progress. They can vote only on issues that are peculiar or particular to the districts that they represent.
The Australian Capital Territory is growing rapidly. It ought to grow more rapidly. As the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) pointed out, there are a number of instrumentalities, departments and government agencies that ought to have their head-quarters in Canberra. If it had not been for two world wars and one depression, Canberra would have taken on the aspect of a National Capital much more rapidly than has been the case. However, it is growing, because the activities of the National Parliament have increased greatly by virtue of constitutional amendments and of High Court decisions which have widened the powers of the Parliament.
The head-quarters of the Department of Air, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Navy will soon be established here. The population of Canberra is growing so rapidly that it would not be surprising if we had 80,000 people here within the next twenty years. It could well be that there will be sufficient people in Canberra, and sufficient voters on the roll of the Australian Capital Territory division, to enable some person to argue in this chamber that there should be two members for the Australian Capital Territory. The argument has been used that at present the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has not as many electors as any other honorable member representing a mainland electorate. The time may come when he will represent more people in this Parliament than any other honorable member in the chamber. If the population grows as rapidly as it is growing, he might some day represent 60,000 electors, and 60,000 will not be the number of constituents in an electorate after the next redistribution of seats. To-day the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) represents 67,000 people, and the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) about 65,000. It is far too many.
The population of Canberra is growing not only because of the inflow of migrants. It is also growing much more rapidly through natural increase than any other part of Australia. I think the birth rate in Canberra is about 42 per 1,000, and that is as high as the birth rate in Cairo. There is, of course, the great difference that the children of Canberra at least survive beyond the first year of their earthly existence. It is sometimes said that expectant mothers come to Canberra from the outlying districts because of the splendid hospital services here, but that is not the main consideration. The people in Canberra are young people. They are mostly public servants. There is not as high a proportion of old people in the community as is the case elsewhere. The natural result is that families are bigger and the birth rate is higher. It is estimated that 80,000 people will be living here in ten years, and 100,000 in fourteen years.
We have to face the fact that the Territory is growing very rapidly, and its development will proceed much more quickly in the next few years than has been the case even in recent times. One out of every five persons in Canberra was not born in this country. The migrant intake in this city is far greater than anywhere else in Australia. If you include the people born in Great Britain as well as those born in continental Europe, and other places, we now have here 20 per cent, of the population who did not know this country at the end of the war. That is a remarkable fact.
– Are you counting them as voters?
– They will be, and some of them are. Some, because they are British subjects, are entitled to go on the roll after being here six months. Quite a large proportion of the migrants have been naturalized. There have been a good number of inter-marriages between members of old families and new arrivals and this, of course, tends to increase the rate of naturalization.
By every criterion, and because Canberra is the National Capital, the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, whoever he is and whatever party he belongs to, should have the same voting rights as other members of this House. It was envisaged from the beginning, when the first honorable member for the Northern Territory, who was the father of the present honorable member, was given a right to vote, and when the Chifley Government gave the residents of the Australian Capital Territory a representative in this House, that the day would come when these two honorable members would have full voting rights and would be equal in every other way to other members of Parliament. In our view the time has arrived. In the view of the Government the time is not yet ripe. Well, it never is ripe according to conservativeminded people. I ask honorable members opposite to abandon their conservatism for once and take a progressive view of this matter.
– in reply - I am very grateful to honorable members for the thoughtful consideration they have given to this subject, which has been evident from the debate that has taken place. I would be less than gracious if I did not reply to some of the points made by speakers on the Opposition side. Perhaps I should dispel their doubts at the outset by saying that we cannot, however, accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser).
The honorable member produced some very ingenious arguments. One which attracted me by its ingenuity, but not by its logic, was the one that involved the half of a quota - a quota, for this purpose, meaning the number of persons required to constitute an electorate. Our Constitution provides that if in any State, after dividing the number of persons in the State by the number in a quota, more than half a quota remains, the State shall be given an additional member in the House of Representatives. The honorable member used this provision to support his argument that if there is more than half of a quota in the Australian Capital Territory, then the Territory is entitled to full representation in this House. If it is suggested that we should proceed on that kind of mathematical basis, let us look at the matter in a completely logical way. When this kind of mathematical calculation was applied to the States in the beginning, no State had less than five members. If in a particular State there were enough persons for more than five and a half quotas, there would be six members in this House, but in that case there would have been, in each electorate, no more than one-tenth of a quota of persons extra. Of course, as the electorates have grown in numbers up to the present day, in Western Australia - to take the example where the position could arise with the greatest distortion - there would be certainly not more than onetenth of a quota in each electorate additional to the normal Australian quota. Tasmania, of course, is entitled to the minimum of five electorates, as part of the origin?) federation pact.
So if we follow out the argument in regard to the Australian Capital Territory there is no real relevance in it whatsoever. I deal with that point first. Sir. because the honorable gentleman was quite correct when he said that the Government based its main argument on the question of numbers. We make no apology for that. The honorable member referred to what he described as the fallacy of numbers. But the whole of the Australian Constitution, as 1 said previously, is based on an approximate equality of representation in this House. It is quite true that that is not so of the electoral laws of some States. They have their own methods and, being sovereign States, they are at liberty to apply what methods they choose. But the founders of the Australian Constitution agreed that there should be an approximate equality of votes as between electorates in the Commonwealth, with the prescribed minimum of five electorates for the smaller States. In regard to that point much play has been made on the representation of Tasmania. That representation was part of the original bargain of federation. Of course, in this House we are not concerned at this stage with the question of Senate representation. We are dealing only with the voting powers in this House of the member who for the time being represents the Australian Capital Territory in this House. It has been suggested that behind the Constitution was the idea that we should go beyond the conception of approximate equality of representation and approximate equality of electors, when we deal with Territories, and section 122 of the Constitution has been cited to illustrate that we can, as a Parliament, give representation to Territories - to use the words of the Constitution - “ to the extent and on the terms “ that this Parliament decides.
There is no guidance whatever in that section of the Constitution as to what kind of representation we should give the Territories. There is no guidance whatever on whether there should be one member or 100 members and whether they should have full voting rights or limited voting rights. Surely, as no guidance is available in that section, it is reasonable to look back in the Constitution and see the kind of representation that is given to other parts of Australia. To my mind it is entirely reasonable that we should look to an approximate equality in the numerical size of electorates.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, delighted with this fallacy of numbers which he was able to expose, dealt with the inequalities that exist now in certain electorates. My friend the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) pointed out that this is an inequality which is outside the real spirit of the Constitution. It is an inequality that arises from time to time; it is not permanent. Yet, because that inequality exists, due to a distortion and spread of population that is unexpected, we are asked to write it into our legislation relating to representation of the Australian Capital Territory as a feature and basis of that legislation! I think that is quite a wrong method of reasoning with which to approach this problem. Where distortions do occur, as they do undoubtedly - several gross distortions in electorates in Victoria - the remedy is in the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The Government is charged with the responsibility, when a certain percentage of electorates are out of balance, of deciding whether a redistribution should take place, and if there is sufficient distortion in a sufficient number of States a redistribution should certainly take place. So that argument, I think, must be abandoned.
The question of taxation and the question of civil servants being predominant in this community were, I think, quite properly dealt with as incidental to this main argument of numbers. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) dealt at some length with this matter of there being no taxation without representation. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) put the matter, I think, in its proper perspective, but I should just comment that I think the honorable member for Fremantle has had sufficient academic training and has a sufficiently keen mind not to be led astray by slogans. Slogans at times do create political crises, if you like, but that kind of slogan does not bear examination in this context.
The Australian Capital Territory does have representation in this Parliament, and nowhere have I been able to discover any sort of equality of representation according to the amount of taxation that is paid. If any one examines the situation in Australia to-day, I think he will concede that the numbers and the representation in this House are probably on the side of those who pay relatively little taxation. That deals with the argument raised by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory, who pointed out with some justifiable pride that a fairly high level of income is enjoyed by most of the people in this Territory and that therefore they are entitled to a greater degree of representation than they have. That is a completely false argument, and I am more than ever surprised to find somebody on the Labour side of the House raising it, because in general, honorable members opposite prefer to treat taxation as a means of redistributing income; of taking money away from the wealthy sections of the community and, as it were, allowing the poorer sections of the community to say in which direction it is going.
The other point I want to mention briefly, Sir, is simply this: Early in the debate I said it was open to argument whether in an electorate in which civil servants predominated, it was wise or desirable to give their representative a vote when they were charged with the duty of advising the Government in the policies to be administered.
– But if there were twice as many you would give their representative a vote.
– I will deal with that point. It was also suggested that because I had introduced into the discussion the question of according a vote to the representative of a civil service community, my argument fell to the ground on the numerical question. At no time in the debate have I said that when the numbers in the Australian Capital Territory came up to the average number in any electorate, this Government would automatically grant full voting rights to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. I introduced this as another consideration which must be taken into account. I believe that it is quite an important point. It was quite rightly said that it was undesirable to deprive a civil servant living in Melbourne, Perth or Sydney, of a vote. Where civil servants are spread as a sort of leaven amongst all the other electorates, there can never be said to be a true civil service vote as such, because it is not readily identifiable.
– They could elect a senator in each State.
– They could, in point of numbers, but the vote would not be identifiable. It becomes rather interesting to find the civil service charged with the duty of being non-partisan in the advice it gives to governments, charged with being impartial in its approach to political problems, and yet having, possibly, a decided leaning towards one political party or another, where that civil service vote is identifiable. That is the only distinction in principle between the civil servant in Melbourne, Sydney or somewhere else in Australia and the conglomeration of civil servants in Canberra. Is it desirable that the civil service vote, as such, should be identified with a particular political party when, in point of fact, the duty of the civil service is to give impartial advice to the government of the day? It is quite true that there is a distinction which can be drawn. A civil servant may hold definite political views and yet, in the line of duty, still give impartial advice to those carrying out the government. I believe many do, but in the public mind I think confusion would be created and the doubt would be there. I do not use this as the main argument against a full representation of the Australian Capital Territory but I think that honorable members will concede that it is at least an argument that carries some force.
These, Sir, are, very briefly, the reasons why this Government, at this stage, cannot agree to accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory. As I said earlier, when the situation changes considerably, it may then well be a case for another government to consider extending the authority of the member for the Australian Capital Territory in this House. It is not necessary at this stage to canvass that kind of situation. To-day we are governed by the same kind of situation that confronted the Labour Government which in the first instance introduced voting rights of any kind for the member for the Australian Capital Territory. At that time the numbers in the capital Territory were so small that the Government felt his voting rights should be very limited indeed. They were restricted to one particular subject, the question of disallowance of ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory. To-day the situation is changed, somewhat. The population has increased, but not to the extent that the Government is prepared to concede full voting rights. I believe that this bill marks a considerable extension of the voting rights of the member and to that extent I ask honorable members to support it.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. j. r. Frasers amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
– The honorable member is ineligible to vote on this measure.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section six of the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act 1948-1949 is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (1.) the words “ the next succeeding subsection “ and inserting in their stead the words “ this section “;
by omitting sub-section (2.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-sections: - “ (2.) The member representing the Australian Capital Territory may vote -
on any question arising in the House of Representatives, or in the House of Representatives sitting as a Committee of the Whole, on or in connexion with a proposed law that is determined, in accordance with the next succeeding subsection, to be a proposed law that relates solely to the Australian Capital Territory;
on any motion for the disallowance of an Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory and on any amendment of such a motion;
on any motion for the disallowance of a regulation made under an Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory and on any amendment of such a motion; and
on any motion for the disallowance of a modification or variation of the plan of lay-out of the city of Canberra referred to in section twelve a of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act 1910-1955 and on any amendment of such a motion. “ (2a.) For the purpose ofparagraph (a) of the last preceding sub-section, the question whether aproposed law is one that relates solely to the Australian Capital Terirtory shall he determined
by a ruling of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or. in relationtoproceedings in the House of Representtivessitting as a Committee of the Whole, by a ruling of the Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives; or
if objection is taken to the ruling of the Speaker or of the Chairman, by the House Representatives or the House of Representatives sitting as a Committee of the Whole, as the case may be.”; and
by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section: - “ (6.)In this section -
references to the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be read as including references to any member of the House of Representatives for the time being acting as Speaker or occupying the Chair as Deputy Speaker; and
references to the Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives shall be read as including references to any member of the House of Representatives for the time being acting as Temporary Chairman of Committees.”.
– Clause 3 is the clause that provides increased voting rights for the member for the Australian Capital Territory. It seeks to amend section 6 of the principal act. The Opposition considers this clause to be quiteunacceptable, and I propose to move an amendment to it, because I feel strongly that these limitations should not be imposed as they are imposed by this clause.
I do not propose to re-hash the arguments that have been advanced on this matter, but I merely emphasize my view, and the view of the Opposition. We feel that these restrictions, that is, the incorporated restrictions of the main act, should no longer exist, and that the amendments proposed to be made are of such a minor nature that in fact they have no value at all,In the eight years that I have been in Parliament I have not had the opportunity to vote on a motion for the disallowance of an ordinance, because there has not been such a motion before the Parliament in that time. There has been on one occasion a motion for the disallowance of a regulation. Had the proposed amendment been in force I would have had one vote in the last eight years. Such an amendment seeks to create an effect in the public mind that is not borne out by the legislation and is not borne out by the facts of the bill itself.
In my experience here I cannot recall any motion for the disallowance of a variation of the Canberra plan, so any voting power in that regard is of little value, The proposal that the member may vote on a proposed law that is deemed to be a proposed law affecting solely the Australian Capital Territory is a very restricted vote because it refers to an enactment, a law. For example, the member for the Australian Capital Territory would not be permitted to vote on the Estimates for the Australian Capital Territory. He would not be permitted to vote on the proposal to spend money in this Territory, because that is not a proposed law. It is a matter that vitally affects the Territory, but this bill does not give the member power to vote on such matters. I therefore move -
That the clause be omitted, and the following clause be inserted in place thereof: - “ 3. Section six of the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act 1948-1949 is amended -
by omitting from sub-section (1.) the words ‘ subject to the next succeeding sub-section,’;
by omitting from sub-section (1.) the word ‘ not ‘; and
by omitting sub-sections (2.), (3.), (4.) and (5.).”.
The effect of my amendment would be that instead of imposing restrictions as at present set out in section 6 of the act, the section would read -
The member representing the Australian Capital Territory shall be entitled to vote on any question arising in the House of Representatives.
I commend my amendment to the committee in the hope that there may be a change of heart among honorable members opposite, in view of the clear indication that the amendments proposed in the clause have, I would say, practically no value. I cannot recall more than one or two occasions in the past eight years on which those amendments would have conferred any right at all on the member for the Australian Capital Territory.
-It is just a farce.
– That is correct.
– The amendment moved by the honor- able member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) is, in substance, precisely the same as the amendment moved during the second-reading debate. For the same reasons that applied to the earlier amendment, his present amendment is quite unacceptable to the Government. I was interested to hear the honorable member say that he had never had the opportunity to vote on a motion for the disallowance of an Australian Capital Territory ordinance. At the same time, I think it was the honorable member who initiated a motion to disallow a regulation.
– But I had no vote.
– That is so, but the same opportunity to move the disallowance of an ordinance was open to the honorable member had he at any time so desired. Under this bill his rights will be extended.
– I refer again to clause 3, and having failed in the major attack, perhaps the ancillary approach on this matter might be accepted by the Government. I propose to deal again with clause 3, which sets out the restrictions at present existing. One of those restrictions is that the member for the Australian Capital Territory may not be counted in a quorum. That is to say, his presence in the chamber is not taken into account when a quorum is being established. The bill proposes to amend the act in order to give the member for the Australian Capital Territory the right to vote on certain matters, but while those matters upon which he will have the right to vote are being debated, the restriction still remains that he will not be counted for a quorum. I think that is an obvious mistake in the drafting of this legislation, with all due respect to those who were responsible for the drafting. I imagine that formerly the member for the Australian Capital Territory was not counted for a quorum because he had no vote in this place, but now that the Government is widening - considerably it claims - the area on which the member may vote, surely it is logical that the presence of the member in the chamber should be counted for the purpose of establishing a quorum when such matters are being debated.
There is another weakness in section 6 of the act, as I see it, and that is in subsection 4, which reads -
The member representing the Australian Capital Territory shall be incapable of being chosen to be the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives or to perform the duties of the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees.
I may not aspire to the high office that you hold, Mr. Chairman, but I suggest that the member for the Australian Capital Territory should have had, throughout the life of this act, the right to vote in the selection of the Speaker, the Chairman of Committees, and their deputies. I suggest to the Minister that if he is serious in saying that clause 3 of the bill would increase the voting powers of the member, now is an apt time to recognize that the member for the Australian Capital Territory, who is subject to the discipline and the rulings of the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees, should have a voice in the election of those officers of this Parliament. I do not think that that right should be any longer denied. I have heard no argument to substantiate the refusal of the Government to have the member for the Australian Capital Territory counted in a quorum or given the right to vote in the election of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, or the Chairman of Committees.
– Can you sit on the Standing Orders Committee?
– Yes. I can be appointed to any committee of this House and on those committees I have full voting rights. My vote is recorded in those committees, and my vote could be a deciding one on a report which would subsequently be brought to the House. Yet I do not have a vote when measures giving effect to such reports come before the House. Although I could vote in the Standing Orders Committee on a matter which might affect Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Committees. I am denied a vote in the elect,on of those two officers. Therefore 1 move -
After paragraph (b), insert the following paragraphs - “ (ba) by adding at the end of sub-section (3.) the words ‘ except where there is before the House a question or motion on which the member representing the Australian Capital Territory may vote ‘; “ (bb) by adding at the end of sub-section (4.) the words ‘ but may vote at the election of the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees of the House of Representatives ‘; and “.
I suggest that if the Government accepts this motion it will be doing no more than the minimum of justice to the member for the Australian Capital Territory because surely if his vote is to be counted on a question which comes within the terms of this legislation, should a quorum be called during the debate on that measure, the member for the Australian Capital Territory should be counted in the quorum.
These are lesser matters. Having failed in the matters of major importance, we go for the lesser. Surely the member for the Australian Capital Territory should be entitled to vote in the election of the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees. I commend the proposed amendment to the Committee.
– The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) is being enormously persuasive. On the subject of a quorum, I am at a loss to understand why he attaches such very great importance to it. He has advanced an interesting argument but, at this stage, the Government is not prepared to accept his suggestion. On his own admission, he would have had only one opportunity in the last eight years or more to vote in accordance with the terms of the present bill. On that one occasion, it is possible that a quorum might have been called. I would think it hardly likely.
– You are not defending your legislation with my argument?
– I am’ saying that, as the legislation now stands, this proposal is a mere trifle which really does not deserve any very deep consideration. The one big objection to it, of course, is that it would advance the member for the Australian Capital Territory, in a sense, out of step with the legislation which has just been passed in relation to the member for the Northern Territory. On that score, at this stage, and because it is of relatively small significance, I do not think that the amendment should be accepted. I do not see that it is a matter of great moment. On balance, I do not think it is worthy of acceptance at this stage.
The other matters raised are of far greater substance. The question of a vote in the election of the Speaker could be, where the member for the Australian Capital Territory holds the balance of power in this House, a matter of significance equal to that, perhaps, of a vote on any other legislation. Therefore, at this stage, we cannot accept the suggestion of the honorable member.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 15th April (vide page 1200), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill which was introduced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) last week deals with two institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The two subject matters are here embraced in the one measure and the purport of the legislation is, first of all, to increase by 50 per cent. Australia’s subscription to the International Monetary Fund. Australia was an original subscriber to the International Monetary Fund when it was established in about 1945, and the Australian quota was 200,000,000 dollars. The proposal is to increase that quota by a further 100,000,000 dollars or, in Australian terms, £45,000,000. One quarter of this quota has to be subscribed by Australia in the form of gold. That is roughly £11,000,000. The remaining £34,000,000 does not need to be subscribed in cash, but an equivalent amount of securities can be lodged with the Commonwealth Bank in Australia as the agent of the International Monetary Fund.
The second portion of the measure involves no immediate cash subscription. The intent, there, is to increase Australia’s subscription to the capital structure of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The present subscription of 200,000,000 dollars- £89,000,000 in Australian money - is to be doubled but no immediate cash payment is required. Therefore, in overall money terms, the commitment of the existing Australian gold reserve is £11,000,000 which, presumably, will be transferred from Australia’s existing holdings, either in London or in Australia, and lodged with the headquarters of the International Monetary Fund.
The real reason that these increased subscriptions are necessary is the inflation that has taken place throughout the whole western world where the value of money is now less than half what it was in 1945. Over this period, there has been a considerable increase in the volume of world trade. lt is to be welcomed that nations, to-day, are trading more freely than previously. In money terms, the volume of world trade in 1958 was something like four times the value ten years before because of the deterioration that had taken place in the value of money. Therefore, what was originally presumed to be adequate in the way of subscriptions to these institutions in 1947 is no longer adequate in terms of the volume of trade which these organizations help to finance. It is only a second line of reserve. It is not the first line of reserve. The facilities of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development are being availed of in a greater degree every year, and the annual demand is getting very close to the existing supplies of the currencies that are required.
When the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947 was before this Parliament - the Labour Government was then in office - varying views were held about the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank, but, in the final analysis, the Australian Government decided to subscribe to both those institutions.
– Are there two banks involved?
– There are two institutions involved. They are to some extent separate, but they work in conjunction with each other.
– Have they separate directorates?
– They have separate directorates and separate managements, but they have some kind of interrelationship, which I am sure the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) will be able to explain more precisely, because at one time he was the Australian representative on these institutions.
As I have said, there are two separate institutions. The International Monetary Fund was regarded as being an organization to supply short-term credits to countries which were short of particular currencies or were experiencing difficulty in relation to their own balance of payments position. Article I. of the original Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund deals with the matters that the fund was supposed to embrace. It states -
The purposes of the International Monetary Fund are:
To promote international monetary co operation through a permanent institution which provides the machinery for consultation and collaboration on international monetary problems.
To facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade-
And so on. The Article continues -
I have taken that statement of the purposes of the fund from page 77 of a recent publication of the fund, entitled “International Reserves and Liquidity “, but honorable members can see the purposes stated for themselves in the original articles of agreement of the fund, which appear as a schedule to the International Monetary Agreements Act 1947.
The purpose of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development was to assist post-war reconstruction in those countries whose economies had been damaged by the war - some of them more severely than others. The normal flow of international trade had been interrupted, and capital development that may have been undertaken had been neglected at the expense of pursuing the war effort.
These institutions have now been in existence for something like twelve years, and it may well be asked whether they have in fact done the kinds of things that were optimistically expected of them when they were established. I think that, to some extent, we can say “ Yes “, but, in some respects, the functioning of these institutions has given rise to great disappointments. It is extremely doubtful whether the blame can be laid precisely at the doors of the two institutions concerned, because the phenomenon of inflation which has bedevilled the whole postwar period can hardly be attributed to them. To a great degree, the responsibility for that inflation and its effects lies more with the domestic governments of individual countries.
– How useful those institutions have been to us!
– They have been extremely useful to us.
– That is the sort of thing that we should perhaps be looking at, but in my view the future value of these institutions will not be in the lending of money to countries such as Australia. Rather will it be in making funds available to the large parts of the world that we call the undeveloped areas - countries in which many hundreds of millions of people are living at standards that we would regard as deplorable, and where it is impossible for them to provide, out of their own domestic savings, many of the capital facilities and kinds of equipment that are needed to raise the standards of living in those parts of the world. One has only to consider the kinds of countries that we regard as our neighbours in what is known as the Far East - to us it is perhaps the near east - to realize the hundreds of millions of people whose standards of living must be raised, and the thousands of millions of pounds - or dollars, according to the terms in which one considers it - that will be required for the purpose. Even the sums that are provided in this measure, although they appear at first glance to be large, are very small and grossly inadequate in terms of the capital needs of these people in the undeveloped countries. They are almost infinitesimal by comparison with the sums that are spent annually on armaments by some of the Western Powers.
The proposals contained in this measure are to be adopted, in various ways, by something like 68 countries that are members of these institutions. I think the total subscriptions envisaged amount to about another two billion dollars. That sum seems very large until one relates it to the amount of something like 50 billion dollars for the annual defence budget of the United States of America. Indeed, about one-half of one billion dollars is expended annually on armaments by Australia. These small sums that are envisaged as an addition to the working capital of these two institutions are really not very great when it comes to meeting the enormous needs of those countries that are rather generally described as the undeveloped areas of the world. After all, one of the things that does most to cause tension between nations is the disparity between living standards, capital equipment and techniques. It may well be that if something like only 1 per cent, of the national income of the developed countries of the western world were subscribed to provide capital development funds for these other countries, a great deal more than is at present being done by the Western world would be done in this direction. This is an idea that has been suggested time and time again.
The International Monetary Fund has had to face up to a number of problems, which are indicative of the problems that will recur from time to time in the capitalist economies. Attention is directed to these problems in the document entitled “ Proposals for Increasing the Resources of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development - Reports by the Executive Directors - December, 1958 “, which was circulated by the Treasurer. The present legislation arises out of the recommendation of the directors, and similar measures have been adopted, and will be adopted, by other member countries of the organization.
The directors say on page 3 of this document -
The Fund’s transactions have been fully described in its annual report.-
Honorable members can get the annual reports from the papers room or the library. The annual report of the International Bank and the International Monetary Fund and so on are circulated from time to time. The document with which I am dealing said -
The Fund’s transactions have been fully described in its Annual Reports, but enough has been said here to indicate that the assistance obtained from the Fund has been requested under a great variety of circumstances: in an emergency at the time of the Suez events-
And it was necessary then, because the dislocation in the European economy as the result of the Suez events, particularly in the United Kingdom, was severe. Indeed, the United Kingdom was forced to borrow immediately 561,000,000 dollars from the fund and to make what are called “ standby arrangements “ for a sum which in aggregate came, I think, to 1.300,000,000 dollars. That is one kind of dislocation which was occasioned to the Western economy as the result of the unfortunate and tragic episode at Suez a couple of years ago. The document continues - in conditions of boom and expanding world trade,-
Sometimes it is thought that this kind of fund is necessary only in times of slump; but even in times of boom, expansion in one country might well affect other countries which are not very mobile in their position regarding international currency. The document continues - and in periods of recession-
There have been periods of recession from time to time and, in fact, some of us regard the present period in Australia, in the last twelve months or so, as a period of recession, when we are not able to employ usefully everybody who is able and willing to work. We have unemployed variously suggested as numbering between 60,000 and 100,000, according to the side of the picture from which you choose to look. The document continues - as well as in a wider context when stabilization efforts have been undertaken.
There have been cases in which particular countries have experienced all kinds of currency difficulties. I had the honour re cently to represent this country at a conference in South America. The currencies of South America have suffered very violent repercussions within a space of twelve months or so. In Brazil, for instance, where twelve or eighteen months ago the cruzeiro, which is the national currency of Brazil, was quoted at 70 to 80 to the dollar, when I was there in July last year you could get 130 cruzeiros for every dollar - which makes South America quite a good place at the moment for American tourists, because a dollar has a better purchasing power in South America than the same dollar has in the United States.
– Recent reports suggest that the tourist might not have the same security.
– That may be. I was going to suggest that it may not be long before the people of Brazil tend to jack up the internal prices.
– There could be disturbances.
– Yes, I know that Brazil had to call on the International Monetary Fund.
– I was not thinking of monetary disturbances.
– I am sorry. I must have misunderstood. I am thinking in terms of currency at the moment. I am thankful to say that no revolutions occurred while we were there. The document that I have been quoting from continues -
The only conclusion can be that the Fund must remain prepared for divers contingencies, many of which cannot be clearly defined in advance.
I think it is true that the kind of circumstances that can occur from time to time throughout the world cannot be clearly defined in advance. I refer, for instance, to changes of circumstances due to war, changes of circumstances due to pestilence and famine, changes of circumstances due to boom in one part of the world and slump in another, or due to an excess of inflation through failure to grapple properly with domestic problems in one country which, unfortunately, tend always, in an integrated trading system, to affect other countries.
Those are the kinds of matters which the International Monetary Fund was brought into existence to counter, and possibly it has been reasonably successful in facing up to the problem. I think that Australia has made two borrowings from the International Monetary Fund, both of which have now been repaid. I think the first loan was of 20,000,000 dollars or 30,000,000 dollars in 1949, and there was a subsequent loan within the last few years. Both have been repaid, as I said, because this is a short-term fund. The term of borrowing is as short as possible, but certainly not for periods longer than three or so years. The fund is designed to help a country which is short of a particular currency - dollars, francs or deutschmarks, for instance. It can borrow an amount determined by its quota in order to meet temporary deficiencies, and then hope to repay the loan out of increased exports which would earn it enough currency.
– What interest is charged?
– The interest on the fund is not very great. I think they charge something like i per cent., with a standing charge of i per cent. That is a fairly nominal rate. The International Bank, to which I shall come shortly, is a different proposition, because I think that in many respects its interest rates have been unduly high insofar as the encouragement of the basic development of the poorer countries is concerned. I think its tendency has been to favour the economically stronger countries rather than the weaker countries. At the moment the effective borrowing rate is somewhere about 5i per cent., which is quite a considerable rate for countries, such as the Eastern countries, which want to go in for basic development of public utilities and the like. An interest charge of 5± per cent, to begin with of course inflates the prices that have to be charged for the service that is anally provided as a result of the loan, and makes the whole thing a costly proposition.
– But the bank has to borrow the money in the first place.
– That is quite true. In fact. I wanted to suggest that there ought to be some new approach, and suggestions have been made that there ought to be a new kin » of fun 1 -Ito tether distinct from the bank, to which the wealthier or richer nations will co ntribute on a more or less philanthropl asis and which can len, mc - no interest or very low interest, to the poorer countries. I heard an honorable member say something about politics, by way of interjection. I am afraid that politics to a great extent comes into some of the deliberations of the bank - not overtly, but sometimes in various subtle ways. However, the simple purpose of the fund is as a short term credit institution which assists the monetary authorities of the member countries to carry out sound financial policies. It is probably true to say that the fund has achieved something. It achieved very little in its first years. In fact, because of the emergence of problems such as the dislocation flowing from the Suez incident, I think that there has been more borrowing in the last few years than there had been in the whole of the existence of the fund previously.
The Treasurer in his second-reading speech defined this institution as a kind of second line of reserves for international payments. Of course, we cannot consider the second line of reserves without giving some thought to the first line of reserves, which in Australia’s case is its international reserves held mainly in London in sterling, although some is held in dollars. The Government of the United Kingdom, through the Treasury, mobilizes the various holdings of the members of the Commonwealth and, as it were, acts as the central banker for the sterling area. One factor causing violent fluctuations in the balance of payments position of the various members of the sterling area and of other countries is the wide variations in the last twelve or eighteen months in the price paid for raw materials. What are known as thi terms of trade have deteriorated for primary producing countries and, by comparison, the terms of trade of industrial nations have improved in reverse. It takes less of a given amount of manufactured articles in Great Britain to pay for a given quantity of imports, say, from Malaya or from Australia, if we think of it in terms of wool. When the price of a bale of wool falls and the price of the goods we buy in return remains unaltered, our terms of trade deteriorate and the terms of trade of the other country improve.
Over the past twelve or eighteen months we have seen a considerable rise in the international reserves of the United
Kingdom and a deterioration in the position of some members of the sterling group. That has largely been occasioned by fluctuations in the price of raw materials. The balance of payments position of countries such as Malaya, Ceylon and India has been camouflaged. I do not mean that in any sinister sense, but it is very difficult to get the picture as a whole. All we get really is the final net figure, which is the difference between exports and imports, plus or minus flows of capital. Whilst on the one hand lending countries are taking great credit to themselves for having invested capital in other countries, the need for capital has really been occasioned by the deterioration in the earning capacity of those countries because there has been no stability in the price of the primary products that they sell. When a similar measure to this was before the House of Commons, recently, a Labour member - I have not his name - said -
Because of the fall in commodity prices, the value of exports of the sterling area primary producing nations fell between the first quarter of 1957 and the second quarter of 1958 by 2,000,000,000 dollars at annual rates.
The fall for the quarter would have been 500.000,000 dollars, but on an annual basis that is equivalent to a deterioration in the earning capacity of those countries, for the same physical quantity of goods as before, of 2,000,000,000 dollars. He went on to say -
This is more than the grants in aid which have been flowing into the sterling area.
Whilst the measures that we are considering here are purely of a monetary kind, and whilst the ultimate results of many of the problems that face the world find expression in monetary terms - in an economy, I suppose, they cannot find ultimate results in any other way - the real reason for the emergence of the monetary problem is the unsatisfactory payments or the fluctuations occurring from time to time in the price of the same product. We know it in Australia in terms of our staple product, wool. The same physical quantity of wool will earn in one year £100,000,000 less than in the previous year. Of course, £100,000,000 less in the income of our exporters has violent repercussions upon the internal economy. Less is left for saving and for capital development, and unless we can borrow overseas to tide us over the difficulty, we may find the whole of our internal economy flagging.
We are a little more fortunate here because we have well-established industrial institutions now, but some eastern countries which depend primarily upon one or two basic commodities suffer greatly. The economies of many countries apart from Australia are just as dependent as is ours on one product - wool in our case - but a deterioration of £100,000,000 has a much more dramatic effect on them than it has on the Australian economy. I hope that some attempt will be made to grapple with this very real problem and to give stability to the primary producing nations which depend on one product. After all, we seek stability in wage payments or in other forms of payments, and equally we should attempt to get stability in the incomes of those sections of the community which depend, say, on producing pineapples in Queensland or cattle, wool, wheat or something else in another part of Australia. The prime concern of the person producing that product is that he should get an adequate return for the labour and capital he employs. Insofar as he depends, as we depend, on selling a large part of the product overseas, it is reflected in Australia’s first line of reserves which is the accumulation of sterling in London. If our first line of reserves were adequate, there would never be any need for us to rely on the second line of reserves. That is one aspect of the matter.
Australia, it is true, has borrowed from the International Bank. In fact, until about twelve months ago, Australia had the distinction of being the largest borrower from the International Bank. In my opinion, that is a rather dubious honour. I think that instead of storing up these problems for the future, much of the borrowing done there could well have been done in sterling areas or from the accumulations on current account which, at the moment, are somewhere in the region of £500,000,000. Of course, here again you cannot isolate the borrowing of dollars from the International Bank from the whole question of Australia’s dollar deficit because a dollar, whether borrowed from the International Bank or invested by one of the countries from overseas, is used - and in the final wash-up appears - either as deficit or surplus in Australia’s dollar transactions. The significance of what has been taking place in Australia over the past nine or ten years in relation to American investments in Australian industries is not always realized. I direct the attention of the House to an article which appeared in the current issue of the “ Quarterly Survey “ of the Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited. The article is entitled “ Funds from Abroad”, and it states at page 16 - . . but it is common knowledge that the bulk of new investment has gone into the newer and technically more advanced industries. Notable examples are the motor vehicle industry, oil refining, chemicals, and electrical and other engineering. It is therefore interesting to note that in the Commonwealth Statistician’s classification of secondary industry, the two classes that show relatively the most rapid increases in value of production during the period 1947-48 to 1956- 57, are the Chemicals &c. group and the Industrial Metals and Machines group. These two groups include all the examples quoted above.
Those are the chemicals group and the industrial metals and machine groups. They are the groups from which overseas investment organizations - which have been encouraged indiscriminately - are picking the eyes. They are not coming to Australia primarily to do a service to the Australian community. They are coming here primarily to earn profit on their investment. Just how extensive this is can be seen from statistics that are published not in Australia, but by the United States Department of Commerce. The Septemer, 1958, issue of the “ Survey of Current Business “ contains an analysis of United States investments in various countries. It shows that for the year ended June, 1957, the total investment of American undertakings in Australia was 601,000,000 dollars. Of that amount, 302,000.000 dollars, or slightly more than half, was in the category “ manufacturing “. In the same year in which the total investment was 601,000,000 dollars, the earnings from that investment totalled 83,000,000 dollars. That is profit so far as the Commissioner of Taxes is concerned and a profit of 83,000,000 dollars on an original investment of 601,000,000 dollars is a pretty solid return. In fact, that 601,000,000 dollars is not all original investment. A large portion is profits or reserves from the previous years ploughed back and added to the capital structure. Of that profit of 83,000,000 dollars, 53,000,000 dollars is derived under the category of manufacturing. Half of the total investment is in manufacturing, but something like five-eighths, or over 60 per cent, of the profit, is derived from that category which gives some indication that this investment is not doing too badly in Australia.
The article in the bank review to which I have referred gives an analysis of private overseas investment in Australian companies. This, of course, includes other than American investment. When you take the figure for American investment and add investment from the United Kingdom at June, 1957, private overseas investment in companies in Australia totalled £809,000,000. But the original shareholdings or capital totalled only £349,000,000; so the other portion has been built up out of accumulations and amounts owing by Australian subsidiaries to the overseas headquarters. It shows, to my way of thinking, a very serious problem that will face the Australian community in the future in servicing this large amount of overseas investment. For the past few years, it has suited those countries to retain a large part of their earnings and to plough it back, but the time may come when they desire to remit dividends based not on the original capital investment but on what is called the shareholders’ equity which is a much larger sum.
It may well be that pretty well what is the whole of Australia’s dollar earnings at the moment on pure export trade will be required to service this growing accumulation of capital investment in Australia. That is largely what has been done. Capital investment is being indulged in to meet to-day’s current difficulties. That is only postponing the evil day. That is one difficulty in a developed economy such as we have in Australia. Development is purely a relative term because we could probably say we want much more development than we have. It is still true as a matter of economics that the major part of capital development in Australia is provided from Australian resources, but so obsessed are we by this so-called dollar shortage that we seem to welcome any sort of institution at all without asking primarily what it intends to do. I could never see any reason why American money should come into
Australia purely in real estate, as a large amount of it has done. If we want to build a big hotel in Australia, surely we do not want American dollars to do it. We require bricks, glass, cement and steel, which we already manufacture in Australia, and Australian labour.
We suggest that there needs to be a change of approach by this Government towards the question of overseas investment. Welcome it if it is bringing something that is not already in existence, and if it is willing to give some share of participation both in ownership and management to Australians as well as to foreigners. Other countries have made this stipulation. It has been done in India and some parts of South America which I have visited. Whatever faults politically they may have, at least they have an intense feeling of nationality, and while they want foreign assistance, their national feeling makes them say, “ We want to participate in it as well. We do not want to be exploited. We want you to serve us as well as help yourselves.”
I have little time left and I hope some other speaker may develop the theme that the future role of these institutions, particularly the International Bank, is not so much in helping countries such as Australia. I believe that Australia’s contribution to that fund should be used by some other country to help in its capital development. What is there to prevent India or some other country from asking for a loan from Australia, out of Australia’s reserves in the International Bank, the loan to be appropriated for, say, steel or some other kind of manufactured goods that could be of some use in India, Ceylon, Pakistan or some other part of the world? I remind the House of the idea that the Americans canvassed some time ago. They suggested that there should be a new institution altogether, designed primarily to help those countries with the greatest need for economic development, but perhaps less able than some others to help themselves. In those cases the money could be made available at lower rates than the 5i per cent, or 6 per cent, now applying.
The bank, during its existence so far, has been quite successful, according to the strict canons of banking. I do not think it has had any default in any of its loans.
It has earned considerable profits, and those are the things that delight bankers, although they are hardly the things necessary for the reconstruction of the world.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- These bills provide us with a very good opportunity of reviewing the operations of the International Monetary Fund and the bank, both of which are of extreme importance to Australia. The main importance of the fund, apart from the lending of money, which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has touched on, is that above all it is, with its sister institution, the bank, the leading forum in the world for the discussion of financial problems and the financing of trade associated with world commerce and economic intercourse. The highlight of the international financial year has come to be the annual meeting of these two bodies. This meeting will, in September, take the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) away from us. This is one of the few international meetings the expense of which is borne, or can be borne, not by the Australian taxpayer but by the financial institutions themselves.
I would like to suggest that the Treasurer introduce a slight innovation on the United States pattern. Year by year the United States representatives at these meetings, who include the main governor and officials, are accompanied by members of Congress. I am sure the parallel will be appreciated by the Treasurer. This might be a very satisfactory move, because the membership of such a delegation would be bi-partisan. There is no quarrel between the two sides as to membership. It might be considered that the leading spokesman for the Opposition on financial matters, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, could usefully attend this meeting and see what the procedures are, and meet other financial figures from various parts of the world. I make this suggestion for serious consideration by the Treasurer.
Apart from being a forum, the International Monetary Fund is the main arbiter of exchange rates. When countries that are members of the fund want to alter their exchange rates, they seek the consent of the fund, which, of course, exercises some kind of oversight through the representatives of other countries that are likely to be affected. Exchange rates are almost invariably altered over the week-end, and one of the main functions of the directors of the fund is to be on tap over week-ends - to come in on Saturday night and Sunday morning for deliberations and to approve alterations in exchange rates.
The fund is also, by virtue of its function in the exchange field, the supervisor of exchange restrictions imposed by member countries to protect their financial reserves. Thus, every year every country maintaining restrictions, including Australia, carries out a process of consultation with the International Monetary Fund as to whether the restrictions should continue.
The fund also performs the significant function of acting as adviser to the sister trade organization in Geneva, as to the financial justification for the imposition of import restrictions. But, above all, and what is most prominent in people’s minds, it is an institution for providing financial assistance for three to five-year periods for balance of payments purposes. Countries whose reserves are either low or in a dangerous position can obtain assistance from the fund to tide them over an awkward period. In fact, Australia has twice made use of these facilities. The first time was during the regime of the Chifley Government, which borrowed 20,000,000 dollars from the fund. This kicked off Australia’s post-war dollar borrowing programme. This Government followed it up later by borrowing another 30,000,000 dollars. These amounts have, of course, now been repaid.
Another point that is of direct importance to Australia is that the International Monetary Fund lends to the United Kingdom, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has pointed out. The outstanding debt of the United Kingdom to the fund, plus its stand-by, which it can draw at any time, amounts to 1,300,000,000 dollars, which is a very sizeable sum from any viewpoint.
These things are perhaps of more interest to Australia than any other country because the fluctuations in our balance of payments position are so wide. We are, in contradiction to the common supposition, not less but more dependent upon imports to keep the Australian economy going than we were before the war. For instance, in the five years from 1952-53 to 1957-58, despite very strict controls and restrictions, imports into Australia amounted to 14.3 per cent, of our gross national product. This compares with a figure of only 12.2 per cent, from 1935 to 1938 inclusive. Of course, of the total the proportion of materials for manufacturing industry now represents almost one-half, and producers’ equipment represents 18 per cent. The margin of imports which could be cut in case of emergency is probably relatively smaller now than it was in pre-war years. Because of this, and because of the magnitude of our fluctuations, we have every reason to welcome this increase in the fund’s reserves. The increase means that in the future we shall be roughly in the position of being able to borrow 50 per cent, more than we have been able to borrow in the past. Our reserves are large, of course. Even in a comparatively poor period, we have about three times the quantity of reserves, relative to imports, that the United Kingdom has, and twice the proportion of reserves to imports that Canada has, Canada, of course, being in a position very similar to ours and suffering fluctuations in the prices of primary products.
There is one important point in connexion with the fund’s functions over which we could experience some difficulty in international quarters in the next year or so. I refer to the intensity of our continued discrimination against goods from the dollar area. Unfortunately, in the post-war era members of the public and officials generally have become so accustomed to the idea of a dollar shortage and the view that the dollar is fundamentally different from other currencies that they are quite unable to see otherwise. In the past five years, far from the United States having a surplus in its payments with the rest of the world, it has had a deficit. This trend culminated recently in sterling being made convertible for non-residents of the sterling area, and similarly the currencies of Western Europe. It is a matter of fact now that if we export goods to France, that is quite as good from the dollar earning viewpoint as is exporting them to the United States itself, and the sooner we get out of this horrible habit of bilateral thinking vis-a-vis the dollar area and trade on a multilateral basis, the clearer our thinking will be, and the better we will be able to conserve our own interests.
Our recent relaxation of discrimination against goods from the dollar area brought up to a figure of 70 per cent, the items entering Australian trade that can now be imported without discrimination, but this figure of 70 per cent, trails those of the whole sterling area. The United Kingdom reached this position some time ago. It is a number of years now since the United Kingdom began to import all its foodstuffs and raw materials from the cheapest market, irrespective of currency considerations. The fact that our figure lags so far behind that of everybody else must throw doubt upon the frequently reiterated statement of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) that our import restrictions are not used for protective purposes but only for currency reasons. In current circumstances, it is almost impossible to see a currency reason for continuing the existence of discrimination against goods from the dollar area, and the attitude of the Department of Trade towards changing lists by looking at every item, one by one, instead of at broad financial targets must throw increasing doubt upon the good faith of the Government’s often reiterated policy that these import restrictions are not used for purposes of protection. It is very difficult to believe now that the incidence of discrimination against dollar goods is not being influenced by representations of interests, either here or abroad. These interests are in fact forcing us to discriminate, and thus Australians have to buy in a dearer and less suitable market 30 per cent, of the items entering our import trade.
The basic reason for the proposed increase in fund quotas is not only the inflation since these institutions were formed, but also the big increase in world trade. The currency value of world trade has almost trebled since the Bretton Woods conference and since these institutions started to operate.
I turn now to the International Bank, which in these days is better known and understood, because its operations are fairly simple. Originally, at the time of the Bretton Woods conference, it was a poor sister of the International Monetary
Fund. Far less thought and attention were given to the planning of the operations of the bank, yet it is in fact the bank which has tended to catch the imagination of the world. In the twelve years of its existence, it has made 200 loans totalling 4.3 billion dollars to 49 countries and it is now lending at the rate of 700,000 dollars per annum.
– What is the average interest rate?
– The interest charged by the International Bank is normally li per cent, above the ruling rate at which the bank itself borrows. The bank started by using the subscriptions of members for its early loans, but for some considerable time now it has been depending upon what it can borrow in the first place, and relending that. The reason for the differential of li per cent, above the ruling rate at which the bank itself can borrow is that one-quarter per cent, is used for the upkeep of th bank and maintaining its staff and operations generally, and the remaining one per cent, is a compulsory statutory reserve. This reserve has been built up as a provision against bad debts in the future. The fact that the bank has borrowed so heavily on the market is the reason for the increase in its capital now, as this capital increase relates not to direct subscriptions by members but to contingent liabilities. The security on which the bank goes to the market is the uncalled subscriptions of member governments, particularly those of the United States of America. The bank has borrowed in Switzerland, Canada, London and New York, but as for obvious reasons the main source of funds since the war has been the New York market and the American market generally, it has had to rely very largely upon the uncalled liability of the United States. The fact that behind every International Bank bond stands the guarantee of the United States Treasury has been the main factor in its being able to borrow, relatively so favorably. The reason why its capital has had to be increased is that the contingent liability of the United States is about 2,500,000 dollars and the funded dollar debt of the International Bank is about 1.8 billion dollars. At the current rate of lending, the bank could continue to borrow only for about another eighteen months before the contingent liability of the United States of
Ame-ica became less than the funded debt of the bank. By this move the total contingent liability of the United States Treasury to the International Bank will be nearly 5i billion dollars, which is a huge sum in anybody’s thinking. This measure will only become effective with regard to authorized capital or contingent liability when member countries have agreed to subscribe about 7,000,000 dollars bringing the total capital of the International Bank to a sum of something like 20,000,000 dollars or more.
It is fitting at this stage to pay tribute, not only because of our own interests but also those of countries throughout the world, to the man who is president of the International Bank. It is a remarkable achievement to bridge the gap between the hardfaced bankers of the main countries of the world in order to provide help to meet the urgent needs of ill-clad hungry and indigent masses of the under-developed world and to keep all the parties running in harness and in a spirit of good will. The really important part that the bank is playing is in teaching the under-developed world how to go about its business and, in the course of doing so, providing a considerable amount of the resources necessary. Perhaps the bank is more important as a leader than in the actual sums which it lends. It is to be hoped that Mr. Eugene Black, who is its president, will be able to continue in office for some years yet.
Besides lending money the bank has played an important role as mediator in international disputes. Many of its staff have spent many years working on the Indus waters dispute between India and Pakistan. The fact that it has been able to keep the parties around the table negotiating, even though final agreement eludes them, has been a tremendous contribution directly to the welfare of those two countries and indirectly to world peace. It has also done an important job in Egypt in connexion with the Suez Canal in the compensation of the various parties involved. This would have been impossible for representatives of any particular country to do in the tense situation in which feelings ran high. The International Bank played a most useful role also in Iran at the time of that dispute.
Coming nearer home, I cannot share the feelings of the honorable member for Mel bourne Ports (Mr. Crean) concerning our dollar borrowing. At the time when I left these institutions Australia was the largest borrower and, I think, had every reason to be proud of that fact. Since then, India has gone ahead of us and now has a bigger debt than we have. But of course, one feature of the International Bank is that It only lends when a country cannot borrow on the international market. The obvious reason for that is that the resources of the bank are lent primarily for the development of the world’s poorer countries. If countries are able to borrow for themselves in their own right and stand on their own feet that is the course which they must follow. Australia, of course, has been successful in raising several loans on the New York market. It is worth noting that our credit rating on the New York open market stands higher than that of any other country outside the United States except Canada, which, of course, is in a unique position.
We have a particular problem of financing our development, and I personally cannot share the feelings of those who are frightened to borrow money, because in the broad sense, that is what it means. Nearly all the argument against Australia borrowing money overseas and having investments here from overseas applies to an individual with an overdraft. If he has not run his business properly or has done so at a loss, he would have been far better off if he had not borrowed; but if he wants to grow quickly and manages his affairs well, bank credit opens up to him much larger opportunities than otherwise would be available. Very similar considerations apply to international borrowing. One cannot necessarily measure the effect of a particular loan by what it produces in overseas currency, but the process involves Australia growing industrially and becoming a stronger nation in every way. Eventually, we shall export a considerable volume of manufactured goods; in fact, we shall have to do so. But the means to establish these new industries, the real pacemakers in Australian industrial development, do, in fact, with few exceptions, come from overseas. If you want to cut off this process or even apply regulations along the lines of the philosophy practised in India, development will be greatly retarded.
I should like to touch upon our own borrowing from the International Bank in future. It has been made fairly apparent to us now that we have had the last general purposes loan. Formerly we did not have to borrow for particular projects, but this will not apply in the future. In recent months, as is well known, arrangements have been made to facilitate borrowing quite a large sum for the reconstruction of the railway from Mount Isa to Townsville. This railway will be justified only if the Mount Isa expansion scheme is brought to fruition and an adequate volume of freight is forthcoming both in coal from Collinsville and ore from Mount Isa and any other products of the mine for transport to the coast.Naturally any one who is thinking of lending money wants to be assured that the freight without which the enterprise would not be justified shall be forthcoming. Unless this particular matter is fixed up and the American Refining and Smelting Company, which finally controls the situation, is willing to play its part, it will be extremely difficult to bring this proposal to a successful conclusion.
In my concluding minutes I should like to suggest that the Government should be looking for further projects around this country which could be the subject of International Bank loans. The difficulty with projects is that when one is started in one State each of the other States feels aggrieved. Consequently, an enlightened attitude on the part of the States is needed to allow projects to go ahead in one State without at the same time proceeding with similar projects themselves.
One particularly promising line of territory would be our ports, which are not nearly so good as they should be. They are not receiving the funds necessary for their development. A little while ago I was reading the report of the Melbourne Harbour Trust and the situation there revealed is similar to that in most ports throughout Australia. It would be a good thing if a team of experts could examine our ports and shipping problems as a whole because they have a direct effect on both overseas and interstate trade in which the Commonwealth may reasonably be expected to play a part. We could get outside experts who would not be prejudiced by local considerations to advise us on these problems and prepare projects to im prove our ports. These could be a very useful subject of future loans. Directly and indirectly we have a very great interest in both these institutions. We have nothing but gain to anticipate from the increase in capital and funds at the disposal of these two bodies. I therefore support the measure.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Barnard) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Korea, Laos, Viet Nam, Thailand, Malaya and the Philippines. In the Australian Government’s view it would not be “in the interest of peace, trade and international goodwill “ for this country to decide now to extend recognition to Communist China. Recent developments only serve to strengthen this view. The Communist regime in China is at present engaged in massive oppression through armed force in Tibet in the face of undertakings to respect the autonomy, national culture and religion of the Tibetan people. China has also been engaged in acts of armed aggression against the off-shore islands thus seeking by force to pursue a territorial claim. In any event, advocates of recognition often overlook or ignore the position of Formosa. As things stand, recognition which did not acknowledge Communist China’s claim to Formosa would not lead to satisfactory relations with Communist China. Peking’s own statements indicate clearly their position that support for Formosa cannot be combined with a satisfactory relationship with the Communists. Some advocates of recognition may be prepared to place Formosa and her people under Communist rule, but the Australian Government would not support such a course. Our relations with Communist China have to be looked at in the light of our relations as a whole with other countries, particularly with countries in the Pacific region. In view of Communist China’s past and present conduct, and of the attitudes of other Pacific countries and of overseas Chinese communities, and in the light of a careful assessment of Australia’s own interests, the Australian Government is not prepared to give “ early recognition of continental China “, as urged by the honorable member.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The elevator service is primarily the responsibility of the Commonwealth Bank as owners of the building. The bank has informed me -
The elevators have not broken down frequently but the occasional faults in the nine lifts in the building have always been quickly repaired.
There was a fire in one elevator on the 4th March last but the incident was not serious.
People who use the elevators can be assured they are safe. The lifts are the subject of regular inspections and preventative maintenance. A lift mechanic is permanently stationed in the building.
At the present time the installation is being surveyed by one of Sydney’s foremost firms of engineering consultants.
m asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) The Civil Defence Committee met on 22nd September, 1958, and a second meeting has been arranged for 6th May, 1959. (b) The InterDepartmental Committee met on 22nd August, 1958, and on 25th February, 1959. A subcommittee met on 15th September, 1958. 2 and 3. No recommendations have been received from either Committee during the period.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
In what categories and upon what commodities was (a) Customs revenue of £71,100,000 and (b) Excise revenue of £232,600,000 raised in 1957-58?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
i asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
What sums were made available for flow oil search during each year from 1949 to the close of last fiscal year?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
From 1949 to 30th June, 1957, no finance was made available from Government funds to assist in oil search by private enterprise. However, during the fiscal year, 1957-58, the sum of £263,634 2s. 3d. under the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1957-58, was paid to companies engaged in the search for oil. During the period 1949-58 the Bureau of Mineral Resources expended approximately £1,300,000 in the search for oil. Figures for each fiscal year 1948-49-1954-55 are not readily available. However, the expenditure on oil search in the six-year period is estimated to be slightly over £500,000. Figures (salaries and operational expenditure) for the succeeding years are:- 1955-56, £236,000; 1956-57, £230,000; 1957- 58, £310,000. Prior to the fiscal year, 1956-57, the accounts and estimates for the Division of National Mapping were incorporated in the overall figures for the Department of the Interior, and no dissection is practicable. However, an expenditure of £100,000 for the period 1948-49 to 1955-56 inclusive can be estimated. Figures for expenditure on oil search by National Mapping for the fiscal years 1956-57 and 1957-58 are estimated as follows:- 1956-57, £80,000; 1957-58, £105,000.
z asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Council of the Medical Benefits Fund of Australia Limited. - Sir Ronald Grieve, Dr. S. P. B. Bellmaine, Dr. D. A. Brown, *Honorable H. V. Budd, M.L.C., *Mr. J. M. Gosper, Dr. G. L. Howe, Dr. H. Hunter, *Dr. A. H. Pollard, Ph.D., *His Honor Judge A. E. Rainbow, Q.C., Dr. W. F. Simmons, *Mr. K. P. Storey, Dr. E. S. Stuckey, Dr. A. E. Lee, Dr. J. R. Adam, *Mr. J. H. Buckle, *Mrs. E. F. Byth, O.B.E., *Mr. J. M. Fegan, Dr. H. W. Horn, Dr. J. G. Wagner, Dr. T. Giblin, *Mr. M. O. Brink, Dr. A. W. O. Young, Sir Herbert Schlink, Mr. W. R. Harrop.
Executive Committee of the Hospitals Contribution Fund of New South Wales. - Mr. J. H. Burt, Mr. D. S. I. Burrows, Mr. D. L. Cohen, Mr. L. D. Davis, Mr. R. V. Finlay, Mr. E. E. J. Ford, Mr. W. R. Harrop, Mr. A. M. Hodgson, Dr. H. Hunter, Mr. A. G. Lomer, Mr. J. G. Love, Dr. C. J. McCaffery, Mr. S. O. McKenna, LieutenantColonel J. H. D. Marks, Mr. K. A. Morris, Mr. M. J. O’Neill, Mr. J. M. Pescott, Mr. H. W. Simpson, Mr. S. A. Storey, Mr. S. J. Timbs.
The vocations of the members are not stated.
Hospital Benefits Scheme.
m asked the Minister for
Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The principal reasons for refusal of fund benefit in 1958 were -
Commonwealth hospital benefit was paid in all the above cases.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice- -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. The companies which are understood to conduct or to have conducted business of a hire-purchase nature and which have applied for and been granted exemptions under section 10 of the Banking Act 1945-1953 are indicated, under the heading ‘ Group D ‘, in the Banking (Exemption) Order No. 30 dated 9th February, 1953, the text of which was published in the “ Commonwealth Gazette “ dated 19th February, 1953.
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Has Australia signed, or does it propose to sign, the conventions on the following subjects: - (a) the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, (b) the Declaration of Death of Missing Persons, (c) the Nationality of Married Women, (d) the Political Rights of Women, (e) the High Seas,
the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone,
the Continental Shelf, and (h) Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas?
– The answer to the honorable members question is as follows: -
Of the eight conventions mentioned by the honorable member Australia has signed those described under (e), (f), (g) and (h). Signature of the conventions described under (a), (c) and (d) is under consideration, but without some amendments to Australian law full effect could not be given at present in Australia to all of the provisions of these Conventions. The outstanding matters are being examined and where appropriate the State Governments are being consulted. It is not the present intention that Australia should sign the declaration described under (b).
n asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
Morris utilities, International utilities, Ford and Chevrolet trucks, and a considerable number of other items?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 April 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19590421_reps_23_hor23/>.