23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question without notice to the Treasurer. It also concerns the Minister for Trade. In view of Australia’s urgent need to boost exports, has the Government considered the establishment of an Australian export-import bank to provide short term and medium term credit to other countries for the purchase of Australian goods? I understand that Great Britain, through its Export Credits Guarantee Department, and other Western countries, and Japan, are providing such facilities. It seems that if Australia is to compete for trade she must provide similar facilities. Finally, is the Government considering the provision of taxation incentives to Australian industries engaged in production for export?
– Australia has a very comprehensive banking system which includes the Reserve Bank, the Commonwealth Banking Corporation and the commercial trading banks. That system, which is well known to honorable members, has satisfactorily met our requirements in the past. I doubt whether an organization of the kind proposed by the honorable gentleman would add significantly to our capacity to deal with export problems. No doubt the matter is one which could be examined in conjunction with other aspects of policy which from time to time the Government has under examination or review. My colleague, the Minister for Trade, has already taken action in one important direction - though the export payments insurance scheme - to assist exporters. I know that he has very much in mind the positive measures that are desirable, or which should be considered, to promote further export trade.
– I ask the Treasurer: Before action is taken to require life assurance companies and superannuation bodies to invest 30 per cent, of their funds in government securities, will the right honorable gentleman be disposed to explore any avenue of approach which would lead to a mutual understanding between the Government and those companies and bodies for the investment of their funds without compelling legislation?
– I can assure the honorable member that the Government gave a good deal of consideration to whether its objective should be secured by some voluntary arrangement. The Cabinet has recognized, in principle, the need to ensure a reasonable allocation of the assets of the life insurance companies to government securities. We contemplated an attempt to obtain this result by voluntary arrangement. However, as our studies proceeded it became obvious that the life insurance companies-
– I rise to order. May I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to constant rulings you have given to the effect that this period is allocated for the asking of questions without notice? The Treasurer is now reading a written reply to a question that has just been asked. I suggest that the honorable member for Mitchell should be asked to place his question on the notice-paper.
– Order! The point of order is not upheld.
– I know it is quite a simple matter for honorable gentlemen opposite to throw up this kind of comment. It may interest the honorable member to know that the typed answer that I am now giving I secured a few moments ago from my typist, to whom I had dictated this reply only a few minutes earlier. I dictated it knowing quite well that this and a variety of other questions on important economic matters were likely to arise at question time. I think that when a matter of this consequence is raised, honorable gentlemen opposite should have sufficient sense of responsibility to require that the answers given by Ministers shall be carefully considered and precise.
I was saying that as our studies proceeded it became obvious that the life insurance companies could not be looked at in isolation from the superannuation funds, of which there are some thousands in operation in Australia. It would indeed, we felt, be unfair to the life insurance companies to conclude some arrangement with them which did not at the same time extend to the superannuation funds. I really do not regard it as practicable to negotiate for a voluntary scheme with the multitude of funds of this kind now operating in Australia. It has seemed to us, therefore, that the preferable course is to codify the arrangement so that everybody will know clearly where he stands, and will be able to make a disposition of his assets accordingly.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that the Australian automotive industry, in common with other large sections of the community, regards with a great deal of suspicion the recent claim by the right honorable gentleman that the Government holds itself ready to review the sales tax rate of 40 per cent, on motor cars and station wagons, and 16$ per cent, on commercial vehicles, when it feels that the situation of the industry and the state of the economy, considered together, appear to warrant some adjustment. Will the Treasurer amplify this claim by stating how depressed the industry will have to be before some such review occurs, and how many vehicles the industry will be allowed to produce and sell? Finally, how much steel, formerly used by the automotive industry, is expected to become available for sale overseas, thus increasing our export income?
– The Government is not attempting to say precisely what would, in the circumstances of a particular time, be a reasonable and desirable level of motor car production or sales, because that could be affected by the general economic situation at the time. I point out to the House that whereas last year - a very prosperous year for the motor vehicle industry - motor car registrations totalled 265,000, this year sales of new vehicles were running, in the September quarter, at a rate of 330,000 per annum. The import bill, .which in the September quarter of last year was running at the rate of £152,000,000 a year, was at the rate of £200,000,000 a year in the same quarter of this year. Steel, which in recent years has been an export item, has been imported in increasing quantities. I shall try to supply the honorable gentleman with more precise details of the level of steel imports.
– £200,000,000 worth over ten years!
– My colleague, the Minister for Trade, who is more closely in touch with these matter than I, tells me that steel imports have been worth £200,000,000 over the last ten years. We know that Australia can secure export markets for its steel. We have a very efficient steel industry, and our export income would undoubtedly be increased quite significantly if the production of the industry could be increased sufficiently for us to take advantage of export opportunities, or if we could restrain to some extent our domestic use of steel, thus making more available for export.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. He will recollect that on Tuesday I asked him a question about the incidence of the new measure for the nondeductibility of interest on borrowings by companies. Has he yet had time to look into the matters which I raised?
– Mr. Speaker, I should be able to cover much more fully this and other points raised by the honorable member when I make my secondreading speech on the legislation, which 1 expect to introduce next week. However, it might resolve most of the queries which have reached me on the question of interest deductibility since I made my statement in the House if I now say that it is not the intention of the Government to give retrospective application to this legislation which is, as I have already announced, of an interim character. For example, if a company can establish that as at 15th November it had undertaken a firm contractual commitment to borrow money for use in earning its assessable income, it will be able to deduct the interest on that money as part of the amount of its annual interest commitment on that date.
– I raise a point of order. In view .of the continued practice of the Treasurer in coming into the House with prepared answers to questions of which he has obviously received prior notice, in order that the public may be fully aware of the business being transacted in this Parliament, in future will you, Mr. Speaker, fail to call for questions without notice, as that is completely misleading?
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– Honorable members who have witnessed the proceedings of the last couple of weeks will know that a considerable number of questions on economic issues has been directed to me. I think that the two answers given by me to-day axe the only two instances in which I have brought in a typewritten reply to questions which I might reasonably have expected to be asked. I have done so because it is very important that what is said on these matters should be stated precisely, as the commercial activities of a great number of important Australian industrial organizations are involved in them.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You ruled that there was no substance in the point of order raised by the member for East Sydney. I ask whether the Treasurer is now addressing himself to a point of order which does not exist, or is he answering a question.
– I direct the attention of the House to -the fact that I ruled that there was .no substance in the -point of order. The Treasurer has the right to answer the question as he thinks fit.
– I think we might reasonably ask whether honorable gentlemen opposite are trying to assist Australian industry, or whether they are trying to confuse it to its detriment. May I again make .the position quite clear? It is not the intention of the Government to give retrospective application to this legislation which is, as I have already announced, -of an interim character. For example, if a company can establish that as at 15th November it had undertaken a firm contractual commitment to borrow money for use in earning its assessable income, it will be able to deduct the interest on that money as part of the amount of its annual interest commitment on that date. I should like, at the same time, to clarify some queries that have arisen regarding the non-deductibility of interest on convertible notes. There is no intention of disturbing the existing deductions for interest in relation to any convertible notes.
– Mr. Speaker, I raise a point of order. Question time is supposed to be for questions without notice, but at the present time I think we are having questions without answers. The Treasurer is evading many questions asked by honorable members on this side of the House. The point I want to make is that honorable members are not entitled to make statements by way of questions, and questions must be asked without notice. I say that the Treasurer is reading a prepared statement, which obviously is taking up the time which is available to honorable members for asking questions without notice.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– Mr. Speaker, is it in order for the Minister to proceed in this way and for any Minister to take, say, the full 45 minutes of question time in answering a question? If this is not in order, can you tell us whether the Treasurer’s time has expired?
– Order! The Treasurer may proceed.
– Addressing myself to the more responsible elements of the Parliament- (Honorable members interjecting) -
-Order! I ask the Treasurer to resume his seat for a moment. Unless the House comes to order, firm action will have to be taken. Question time is for the purpose of obtaining information and pressing for action, and brevity should be observed within the limits of the questions.
– There is no intention of disturbing the existing deductions for interest in relation to any convertible notes the terms of issue of which were announced by the issuing company on or before 15th November
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a genuine question on a matter concerning the economy. I ask the right honorable gentleman: If the new rate of sales tax on motor cars is to be temporary, will the recent 10 per cent, increase be repealed before or after the increase imposed in 1956, which also was said at the time to be temporary and was also to be repealed at some future time?
– The honorable gentleman has made his own suppositions and on them he has based a question in quite facetious tone, obviously not expecting a serious answer. I stated in this House in considered terms the Government’s general attitude on this matter. There is at present before the Parliament a measure which the Opposition has an opportunity to debate, and I do not propose at this stage to add to what I have already put publicly to the House.
– I wish to address a brief but most important question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Is increased production of cotton in Australia desirable? Is the Minister aware of the success of cotton-growing in Victoria and New South Wales in districts of the Murray valley and of the high praise accorded the quality of the product? Will he use every means available to him to foster and extend the growing of cotton in the Murray valley?
– Any cotton that we can grow in Australia to meet our own requirements will be a very valuable asset to our economy, because we should not need to import so much cotton. At present, we import considerable quantities of cotton, and therefore an expanded cotton industry would be very valuable to Australia. I am aware that cotton is being grown in the Murray valley, some of it in the honorable member’s electorate. I saw a sample of the product when I visited that part of Victoria with the honorable member. Since that time, cotton has been sent from Victoria to Queensland for treatment by the ginnery at Whinstanes, and reports are, as suggested by the honorable member, that this cotton is of first-class quality. With respect to the last part of the question, which concerns the giving to the industry of an assurance, of support, I think that the Government’s guarantee of 14d. per lb., which will extend to 1963, is evidence of our intention to consider this very valuable industry sympathetically.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Has his attention been directed to recent criticism of the decision by the Government that only one commercial television licence shall be issued for each of the main country centres of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania? 1 refer particularly to the charge first, that the general public are the main victims of such decisions by the Commonwealth Government, because they are to have television services of fewer hours, less variety and poorer quality, compared with city viewers; and secondly, that the decision limits the number of stations and restricts the outlets for Australian programmes instead of encouraging the growth of television in Australia and the development of high quality Australian programmes. Will the honorable gentleman make a statement answering all the criticisms that have alleged misrepresentation and worse on the part of the Government? Will he direct his attention to the company called Associated Television Limited of London-
– Order! I think the honorable member is going too far. I ask him to come to the point in his question.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral make a statement answering all the criticisms that have been levelled, particularly in regard to the shareholdings of a London company about which the Australian Broadcasting Control Board made certain recommendations which have been disregarded by the Government?
– The honorable member asks whether I have seen recently criticisms in some newspapers of the Government’s decision in relation to the extension of television into country areas. Of course 1 have seen those criticisms and I have referred briefly to them on other occasions. The claims that country people will not receive the same service as city people as a result of the Government’s decision are, in my opinion, quite erroneous. Certainly, for a start, country television stations will be transmitting for fewer hours than city stations now transmit, but I remind the honorable member and other critics that for a start the weekly number of hours of transmission by country stations will just about equal the number of hours during which metropolitan stations transmitted when they first commenced operations. The metropolitan stations increased their hours of transmission as they have developed, and so too will the country stations.
While on this matter of hours, I think I should say that I do not consider it desirable to aim at 60 or 70 hours of transmission weekly. Some metropolitan stations are transmitting for between 60 and 70 hours a week for the purpose of giving greater advertising facilities. When the number of hours exceeds 50 or 60 a week there is inevitably a tendency for programmes of an inferior quality to be used, and that is not desirable. I am dealing with this matter of hours because the honorable member has given me an opportunity to do so. Because of the factor that I have mentioned, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has decided that 50 hours a week is a desirable number. The only exception it makes is when it wants to telecast some special feature, such as a sporting event. A weekly transmission period of about 50 hours enables programmes of the highest standard to be shown and avoids the necessity to use programmes of inferior quality.
I believe that the provision that country television stations may not make an exclusive arrangement with any particular metropolitan station will create a greater market for Australian films than at present exists. That provision will create a greater market for companies desiring to commence film production in Australia. It will also create a wider market for the distribution of programmes from existing metropolitan stations. Any suggestion that the Government’s decision will reduce the available markets will not stand up to investigation.
The honorable member referred also to the Government’s action in allowing Associated Television Limited to have a certain shareholding in the licences that have been granted although the Australian Broadcasting Control Board had recommended that this should not be agreed to. May I point out that the Government has a perfect right if it wishes, not to accept in toto the board’s reports. That is what it has done in this instance. I point out to those who offer some criticism that there is no breach of the act whatever in the Government’s agreeing to this company having a certain small, limited shareholding in various television licensee companies. In fact, the presence of this company, which is linked with the Associated Television organization of London, will, we believe, prove as advantageous to the television industry as it has to the radio broadcasting industry.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. In view of the fall in Australia’s overseas reserves and the need to increase our export earnings, will the Treasurer consider giving further encouragement to the production of gold, for which there is a ready-made export market and the annual value of which could be raised from the present figure of about £17,000,000 to £30,000,000 at comparatively small cost to the Government?
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie will appreciate that this is a policy matter, to which it would not be appropriate to reply in any definite form at this point. As honorable members are aware, the Government has, in respect of gold, a policy which is directed primarily to sustaining the communities in Kalgoorlie, of which the honorable member is a diligent representative, and in other places around the Commonwealth. This is a valuable industry, but whether the resources which would otherwise be available for export production could be employed more usefully in it or in some other direction is not a simple matter to decide. This is one of the questions that engage the attention of the Government, and when policy decisions can be announced, they will be announced.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. I ask the honorable gentleman to take up with his department the matter of the poor mail service between Adelaide and Canberra. On Tuesday of last week, I had a very urgent letter posted to me in Adelaide at a quarter past ten, and it did not arrive until Thursday afternoon. I asked the Chief Clerk here, in the absence of the Postmaster, whether the letter had come to hand. He said that unless the letter was posted before 12 o’clock on Tuesday, it would not leave Adelaide until after 2 o’clock on the following day. The letter was posted at a quarter past ten, was postmarked in the post office at 12 noon on the Tuesday, and was delivered here on Thursday. When I made my inquiries earlier, a postal official said the letter was not here and there was only one mail a day. I also ask the Postmaster-General to make inquiries at Canberra Post Office to ascertain why three separate times for the arrival of airmail from Adelaide are shown on the notice board, none as late as 9.30 p.m., although I was told that the only airmail arrived at 9.30 p.m. Does he consider that it is fair for mail to take two days to come from Adelaide to Canberra?
– Naturally, since the introduction of the system known as “ Operation Post Haste “ - that is, the allup airmail - I have watched the time taken to deliver mail. I have found that in a great many instances, there has been a big improvement in the service. For instance, a letter posted at Perth in the afternoon is delivered here the next morning. In odd instances an undue delay has occurred. Whenever such instances have been referred to me, I have investigated them, and I am quite prepared to investigate the various points put to me this morning by the honorable member for Port Adelaide. I will let him know the result of my investigation.
– My question is directed to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In view of the recent devastating form of the visiting West Indian cricketers, will the Minister see whether his organization can come to our rescue and do something quickly about our cricket pitches?
– The honable gentleman will be glad to know that the C.S.I.R.O. has already tackled this problem. In fact, it has done so in Adelaide where two scientists, working in partnership, have investigated the cause of crumbling pitches and the wear of pitches. They have made certain suggestions which, they think, will be of advantage not only in Adelaide, but also in other parts of Australia. I may tell the honorable gentleman that these two scientists have approached this matter from a very practical point of view because, in addition to being scientists, they are also cricketers and hold the partnership record of 248 runs in the team in which they play.
– Is the Postmaster-General aware of the Full High Court’s finding yesterday which affects the residents in the area in Redfern to be resumed for the mail sorting branch? If so, I ask the honorable gentleman what action the Commonwealth proposes to take in this matter.
– 1 heard unofficially yesterday that the High Court had given its judgment in the matter on appeal before it regarding the Redfern tenants. I understand that the decision was to the effect that the Supreme Court of New South Wales had jurisdiction to hear and determine these matters. The honorable gentleman asks what action the department proposes to take in this matter. The first action will be that the Supreme Court of New South Wales will be asked to determine other appeals that have been before it for some time, and which have been held up pending the High Court decision. The court will be asked to deal with those cases so that we may proceed with demolition and begin work on the mail exchange at Redfern. Already the Supreme Court has given a favorable decision in one of the cases before it, so I am hoping the matter will be cleared up shortly.
At the same time, I have asked my departmental officials to have a further conference with officials of the New South
Wales Housing Commission, following discussions which took place some time ago at which a tentative agreement was reached dependent on the decision of the High Court. That decision was to the effect that if we could produce a plan for a staged eviction of the present tenants over a period that would enable the Housing Commission to provide accommodation - temporary or otherwise - of a reasonable type, the commission would be prepared to co-operate with us and enable the matter to proceed on that basis. There would be no eviction of tenants in a way which would force them on to the streets, so to speak. It was made plain that this arrangement could not be proceeded with until such time as orders had been obtained against the tenants so as to justify the commission in providing accommodation.
The position is that we are now proceeding along those lines. A further conference is to be held with the commission, and I hope that arrangements will be made that will enable us to proceed with this vitally important work. The provision of a new mail exchange at Redfern is a work of great importance not only for the efficient handling of mail and the improvement in the working conditions of mail officers at the General Post Office, which are at present very bad, but also from the point of view of the city of Sydney itself. Some £4,000,000 is to be expended on a job which will do a great deal to solve traffic problems in and around the post office.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether the honorable member for Eden-Monaro said that if the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry were fully implemented it would mean ruin for thousands of small dairy farmers. Is it not true that many reports presented to this Parliament are not only not fully implemented, but are not even acted upon at all? Is it a fact that, by deliberately confusing a report of an entirely independent committee of inquiry with Government executive action as yet not even contemplated, the honorable member for EdenMonaro is trying to cause alarm and panic?
– Order! I think the honorable member is straying a little wide of what constitutes a question.
– I crave the indulgence of the House.
– The honorable member is entitled to direct attention to any press report, or any statement, but he would be out of order in quoting from such report or statement.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable member entitled to ask questions inviting a Minister’s opinion of remarks made by a member of the Opposition?
-Order! I have told the honorable member that he may direct attention to a statement or a press report, but that he must not quote from it.
– May I elicit the facts from the Minister? I ask to be allowed to-
-Order! I suggest that the honorable member ask his question.
– I shall do so. Will the Minister give the facts so as to stop consternation and panic being caused by these irresponsible attacks which can only destroy confidence in this solid, stable and efficient industry?
– During the adjournment debate last night, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro made references to the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry. I think the honorable member for Eden-Monaro will realize that, having submitted the motion for the adjournment, I would have closed the debate if I had attempted to reply to him.
– You gagged yourself.
– I am aware of that. As it was after midnight, and there were still about five honorable members rising to seek the call, I thought it was quite time for the House to adjourn, and I therefore gagged the debate. I think honorable members of the Opposition as well as honorable members on the Government side thought that was only common sense.
The conclusion I arrived at after hearing the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was that he was trying to create concern in the dairying industry, and that he was trying to gain political capital by suggesting that he was the only defender of the industry.
– I rise to order. I ask whether question time should be used, when the House is on the air, to allow a Minister to reply to something which was said in this chamber at a time when the proceedings of the House were not being broadcast. I suggest that question time is being misused in that way now.
– Order! The Minister has a right to reply as he thinks fit, but it would be of very great assistance to the Chair if, on some occasions, replies were a little briefer.
– In effect, the second question asked by the honorable member for Macarthur was whether all reports to the Government are acted upon. It is obvious that reports are not necessarily acted upon by the Government. As to his third point, I have already said that I consider it only fair and reasonable that the dairy industry, the interests of which are affected by the recommendations contained in the report, should have ample time to consider them. It is obvious that, as yet, there has not been time for the various sections to call meetings and report to the Australian Dairy Industry Council. As it is usual for important matters to be discussed by the responsible Minister with that council, I intend to adopt that course in this instance. With the Government’s consent, I intend to allow the dairy industry to examine the report thoroughly and then, in due course, to make to me whatever recommendations it may wish. I repeat my earlier statement that the dairy industry can rest assured that the Government will always watch its interests sympathetically.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Will he investigate the virtual collapse of the market for myrtle timber exported from Tasmania to the mainland? Is he aware that for years Tasmanian myrtle has enjoyed a constant and sure market in Melbourne, particularly for use in furniture manufacture? Why has the market fallen so sharply? Is it due to heavy importations of furniture-making timber from Malaya and Borneo? Will the Minister treat this as a matter of urgency?
The honorable member for Braddon and the honorable member for Bass strongly support my representations.
– I have not in my mind the present position in regard to the sale of this class of timber from Tasmania to the mainland, and in particular to Victoria; but the honorable member knows that I have, over the years, interested myself in the Tasmanian timber industry. It is not long since the Tariff Board made a full report to the Government in respect of the timber industry, and the matter is again being reviewed by the board. The timber industry in Australia, by and large, is, 1 believe, having a very prosperous time. I understand that the demand for timber is very strong and that there is full employment and great prosperity in the industry. It is the custom in this country that various sections of Australian industry operate within the limits of protection set by the Government on the advice of the Tariff Board. The 1958 report of the Tariff Board on the timber industry was accepted by the Government. The board has finished its latest inquiry and is preparing its report.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of the importance of our export industries and the relatively modest amount available to the Development Bank, which exists to foster development, will he consider a substantial increase in the amount of the Development Bank’s loan funds, thereby enabling the bank to make a freer approach to lending?
– This is a matter of policy, but I can assure the honorable gentleman that the question of seeing to it that adequate funds are available to the Development Bank is in the mind of the Government, and further consideration will be given to that matter.
– I ask the
Minister for Primary Industry whether the member for Macarthur has yet informed him of the decision of a group of Country Party and Liberal Party rural members to prevent the Government from implementing many features of the report of the committee which inquired into the dairy industry.
– I am not responsible for the activities of the honorable member for Macarthur. I know he is a quite diligent member, and is well able to look after the dairying interests in his electorate. He is not so prone to make political capital, and create concern in an industry, as is the honorable member for EdenMonaro.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that the talks between Ceylon and Burma concerning a rice deal have broken down? Has Australia made any offers to Ceylon to fulfil part of its requirement of 250,000 tons of rice? Can our producers quote £32 sterling per long ton, which is believed to be the competitive price?
– I have only an indirect knowledge of this matter, but it is my understanding that discussions on the purchase of rice on a big scale by Ceylon from Burma have not broken down, but are deadlocked on the point of price. I believe that no firm contractual arrangement exists at the present time. On the other hand, it is my understanding that £32 sterling per long ton would not be a price attractive to the Australian industry.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Prime Minister, by pointing out that a motion dealing with the subject-matter of my question has been on the notice-paper for some months and is now likely to remain there until next year. I ask: In view of the continued drift of country people, both young and old, to the cities and the urgent need for industries that would boost our country communities, will the Prime Minister give earnest consideration to the initiation of an inquiry into the decentralization of industry and population?
– The honorable member’s question covers a very wide field. T will, of course, consider it, but I do not make any commitments on it.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Insurance Act 1932-1937.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In 1932 the Commonwealth took over from the States the legislation relating to insurance and, in 1945, legislated separately for life insurance. This bill provides for amendments to the Insurance Act 1932-1937 which applies to all forms of general insurance business carried on in Australia. For the information of honorable gentlemen, I point out that this legislation does not relate in any way to the measure which was forecast in my statement last week.
– I take it that that will be introduced next year.
– That is the Government’s intention. The general basis of the legislation is a requirement that insurers maintain deposits with the Treasurer which will be available to satisfy any final judgment obtained by a policy-owner in respect of a claim made under his policy.
The principal purpose of this bill is to increase the deposits that will be required consistently with increased premium incomes and increased property values. Those who propose in the future to commence insurance business in Australia will be required to lodge a minimum deposit of £10,000 in place of the present minimum of £5,000. After the commencement of business the deposit is reviewed annually and varied so that it represents not less than 20 per cent, of the premium income up to a maximum deposit which is now being increased from £40,000 to £80,000. The exception will be foreign companies the deposit from which will be a fixed sum of £100,000.
Apart from these amendments, which are designed to maintain the protection of policy holders, the bill provides for other changes of an administrative character. Definitions have been modified; the procedures to be followed in the event of an insurer ceasing business or winding-up his business are provided in more detail and the various references to life insurance, which is now governed by a separate act, have been eliminated. The purpose of these clauses can be explained in detail during the committee stages of the debate. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Apple and Pear Organization Act 1938-1953.
Debate resumed from 10th November (vide page 2724), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I deem it both a privilege and a pleasure to be the representative of the Opposition to support the legislation which proposes the establishment of a national library. I approach the discussion that will take place in a spirit of humility, knowing that many members on both sides of the chamber have served for many years on the Parliamentary Library Committee and associated committees. I believe that I speak for them when, as a member of the council which has the duty of carrying on the developmental and exploratory work associated with the National Library - its building and its new format - I say that most of us approve heartily of what has been done. We hope that a plan will be prepared speedily for something that we can accomplish, not in the dream-time, but within a measurable distance of time.
In his second-reading speech, which covered the field very widely, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made some points which we desire to answer in the way of approval. As every honorable member who has been interested in the matter knows, the National Library has been something without a habitation and a home although it has had a most impelling influence on us in this Parliament, in association with the Parliamentary Library, not only because of the reading facilities and the instruction that we can get from it but also because of the research facilities that are available. Those and the many other aspects of its activities, as every honorable member will concede, have helped us to be better informed and to be better members of Parliament.
As the Prime Minister has said, we have to define the functions of the National Library, because it has just grown up, like Topsy. It is a sort of mushroom, with growths all over the Australian Capital Territory, with igloos and little huts in which some of its treasures are hidden because of lack of space. Now it becomes necessary to build for the Library a future home which I hope will dispose for all time of the problems of air space and cubic content. In considering the building, we must have in mind that a library, like a university, is a place where people meet and think. We must have a structure worthy of the Library whose functions have now been clearly defined in the bill.
While we have been examining the problem of putting the Library on a proper basis it has become an institution of great importance. It has 654,000 books and a non-book collection which is one of the most important of such collections in Australia, consisting of leaflets, posters, autographs, coins, medals, manuscripts, maps, films, pictures, source material and works of art. While the Library has been waiting to have its final destiny approved and its final format decided it has become possessed of many treasures, many works of art, much Australiana and collections of the rarest kind - things that it has purchased as a National Library or which it has received by way of gifts and donations of various kinds.
While, the Library, in view of our population and our isolation, has been, building an establishment that is comparable with the best in the world, it has been rendering a remarkable service- to other libraries in the community. The exchange of books and rare materials through libraries has been of great benefit. This has been a considerable part of the activities of the National Library and a most useful adjunct to teaching and the development of our educational system at the tertiary level. The legislation which has been brought down by the Prime Minister follows, as he said, the Paton report and has as its objective the achievement of most of the recommendations of the report, including the separation of government archives from the National Library and the maintenance of library services to the Parliament. It deals with the functions of the National Library and its form of control. As the Prime Minister has told us, this involves the creation of a body corporate and a council of nine. The personnel of the interim council have been announced by the Prime Minister. It is their job to go ahead with the very heavy responsibilities of creating out of the National Library already existing a home for the new National Library, separate from the other activities which have hitherto belonged to the National Library.
One of the important matters for parliamentarians - especially for those members of the Library Committee who have had much more service than I have had and may be referred to as being the galaxy of stars, while I speak merely as an asteroid - is the separation of the Parliamentary Library from the National Library, which is a very good thing indeed. The National Library ought to be more than a book agency, as we all know its immense value and its already tremendous reputation overseas. Its wider function is a subject on which we will touch later. The first important move, as far as parliamentarians are concerned, will be that the Parliamentary Library will be separated from the National Library, although it will remain closely associated with it, and for the time being it will be under the same chief Librarian, Mr. White.
We, as parliamentarians, are all interested in what will be the future of the Parliamentary Library. It will, of course, provide us with our books and our other reading material. I hope that one development will be that complete research facilities will be available. It is regrettable that those facilities are not fully adequate at the present time in relation to matters that are debated in this House. The Prime Minister next week will bring on a debate on the United Nations, which will deal with mat ters from Laos to Cambodia, from Cambodia to the Congo and Nigeria, and from the Congo to various other places of the world. Each of these matters requires reference and study, because the whole of the problems of the countries of the world which are to-day searching for freedom and outlet makes an interesting and dramatic story. Research is essential. That is only just an illustration, but an urgent one. I hope that the Parliamentary Library which will develop from this separation will be very strong. I am sure that the library officers will be quite in accord with what I say. Its development should be one of the most important things. There are various opportunities at the present time to get one’s catalogue books, to consult indexes, and to have group study or separate study. All the facilities of a first-class library are available. I hope that a strong research section will be added, because that is something which can be of vital value to the Parliament itself.
The National Library will be on its own. It will be a vast institution, comparable with other such institutions throughout the world. With the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following voluminous details regarding the world’s larger libraries, showing the number of volumes held by each: -
The following is a list of some of the world’s larger libraries showing the number of volumes held by each. It is not complete, but serves to show the relative size of the larger Australian libraries which are shown last.
It is probably fair to say that one distinctive feature of national libraries as a group is the unusual size as well as the research and historic value of their collections of material other than books. These are often unique, and among others comprise such things as leaflets, posters, manuscripts, autographs, music, maps, geographical and topographical illustrations, prints, portraits, coins and medals, clippings, microfilms, films and recordings.
It has come to be regarded, for obvious good reasons, as peculiarly appropriate that a national library gather such materials on a scale beyond the purpose or capacity of its sister libraries whose scope and charter is more limited. In order to simplify the present statement, however, no figures regarding them have been included, either for the National Library of Australia or for other national libraries, and the holdings as shown relate to books only. But on account of their great number due allowance must be made for the non-book materials, in any comparison of the total size of all collections in national libraries with those of other libraries. The following representative examples are an indication of this: -
In the list of National Libraries the population, as given in the “ Statesman’s Year Book 1960 “, is shown in brackets after the name of each country. The statistics of collections in overseas libraries are taken from their annual reports, from Esdaile’s “ National Libraries of the World “ (2nd edition, London, 1957), and “ The World of Learning 1959-60”. Those for Australian libraries are from annual reports and the Commonwealth -‘Year Book 1960”.
Our National Library will grow when it is properly housed and its functions are complete.
Having directed attention to the fact that our library is coming along amongst the great libraries of the world, we have to ask ourselves whether we want a library like the Library of Congress at Washington. Do we want something like the great libraries in France or the Soviet? Do we want something like the British Museum or
the libraries and other such institutions within the United Kingdom? Or do we want something peculiarly and uniquely Australian? The short answer is that we want a body that will fulfil all the functions of libraries, including the provision of books and other reading material, the great ancillary source material which is almost as powerful as the collection of books today, and the non-book collections of films. In this technological age we have films, posters, clippings and television programmes. All of these provide an immense record. Research on them will take up a great deal of the time of the Librarian. Our library must be a treasury of human material.
I should like now to refer to something that the Prime Minister has said about the government archives, the collections of material gathered by this Parliament over the years which are now to be separated from the library. This is a great haystack, let us say, upon which in the future we can feed in a literary sense. I should like grave consideration to be given to the availability of these documents. The Prime Minister has followed traditional terms in saying that we approach these things with caution and that over the years what can be released will be released and what cannot be released will be conserved for a later, more sober look at the question. We must not dismiss the government archives by pushing them out of the road as something that does not matter in the march forward. They are an immeasurably important part of our history, and they are, of course, a vital recorded part of federation. I am watching with interest to see what will be the ultimate position in regard to the government archives, which will now come under the care of a department. We hope that then we will be able to influence a fairly liberal attitude to the release of material required by biographers, research officers and others preparing literature and articles for the general consideration of the Australian people.
The next question is the work that the National Library can do. I believe that it has had great success, that it has a fanname in all countries, and that it has brilliant administration, but very important tasks remain to be done. They have not been done for the simple reason that there was no home for the National Library. Until we build one, we can only do part of the job that we hope to do. The first thing is that the section covering our Australian history must be strengthened. We must have leisure, time and money to roam not only Australia but the world in search of material. The Mitchell Library, the Fisher Library, and the great libraries of Victoria and the other States all have material which, of course, is their own and is jealously preserved. But the National Library - the Federal Library, if we can so call it - ought from now on to do as much as possible in the way of discovery and research. Our time to get the disappearing early history of this country is very limited indeed. I saw in a newspaper to-day just a simple report which shows the way in which the wind blows. A Sydney book dealer has bought a collection of manuscripts, novels, short stories and plays by the late Stella Miles Franklin. She was the historian of the high Monaro. The gentleman who bought this material got it reasonably cheaply. He said, with a good businessman’s flair for the terse and independent word -
I am only interested in doing business. I bought them simply to sell at a profit.
That is one case in point for the preservation of the standard records upon which the writer and the researcher of the future will depend so vitally. Look how one can go into the British Museum and call upon all the records of the world! How many budding writers started off there to become world geniuses? Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, and other people got their initial flair for exactitude and their information from the vast resources that were there available.
I am very keen - and I know that the Prime Minister and members of the council are keen - to get source material, stories of the early days and records of the courts. Humorous stories have been told about the courts of the Goulburn district, and I suppose of other country towns, where the early settlers emulated the man in the fable told by Lamb, the essayist. The man in the story was a Chinese who burned down his cottage in order to get baked pork. It has been said that, either by accident or design, the court house was burned down so that the records of Australia concerning convicts and aborigines might not be so straight-forward when passed on by word of mouth instead of by the written record.
Let us not have so much sabotage of national records. They are there in the huie hamlets nestling under a couple of pine trees and in the old local pubs where a few people still live. There are treasures in those little hamlets because they are a record of early Australian development and Australiana. I believe that this House and the people generally, as well as those who are interested in the library movement and in the National Library, agree that we need to have a fairly liberal use of money and energy and brains to conduct research intelligently for our lost source material. If we get that, we will have something that no other generation can .give to the Australian people because the material is disappearing. It is lost as the oldsters die out and, as I have said in another context, word of mouth is nothing like the written word and the written record.
The second point is that our history section, as our non-book section, must be strengthened. Then we will have in fact a strong National Library to which the world will flock and the people of our nation will come as a natural thing. On one side, we will have a library in essence - a truly national library - and on the other side with our parliamentarians on the committee, we will have our Parliamentary Library which will cater for us in every way. What lucky people we are in this Parliament to have that growing availability of information, culture, knowledge and research. I think that is one of the most interesting and pleasurable things about this bill.
I come then to the collections that we can get of the things we should repatriate; and I would like to see some kind of impost put on national treasures so that they cannot be sold overseas. Many countries have a sort of prohibition on the sale ot their old or valuable treasures. They must not fall into the hands of the trader, the agent or the man who sells objets d’art for money alone. They must remain with us because they are irreplaceable treasures and once they go out of the country it costs millions of pounds to bring them back.
The next matter is the one the Prime Minister has spoken about: Where we will build the National Library and what it will cost. Everbody winces at this thought. Already, since the Prime Minister made his speech, two schools of thought have developed. One would like the National Library to be a sort of lady of the lake, as it were, nestling on the flank of the new Parliament House. Others say it should be taken away from the mosquito-ridden swamps which do not exist yet except in the imagination of the critics who say the Library should blossom forth on Capital Hill. I say two things about that. The desirable site has to be thought out and not guessed at. Every available architect and planner, every town planner and every man or woman with an idea of where we should place this memorial - because that is what it will be - should be consulted and eventually a spot should be decided on.
I have a suggestion to make for the time when the Library is to be erected. It may not appeal to everybody, but I think there are some things that have to remain within their own character. I could not imagine a National Library being a thing of slab concrete and glass windows like an inverted shoe box with a beacon on the top. Those things are not architecture although they are popular and acceptable. It may be the antiseptic modern trend to make everything look like what it is not, but 1 would like to see some Corinthian, Ionic and Doric columns around the National Library; I would like to see a great entrance hall and other facilities in the old and classical style because that is the way in which many great libraries overseas have been built. There is no reason why the interior and all facilities could not be as modern as this morning, but the eye is affronted when a building is constructed which looks more like a chocolate factory or an inverted boot box with glass inlets.
– Or even a meat pie.
– This country needs a good fourpenny meat pie, I agree, Sir, but it should not be part of the National Library project.
I come now to the amount of money that will be provided in due course. Every time anything is decided or projected in this House or anywhere else, everybody has to say something about it and declare that so many other things have to be done. If it is to be done “ ‘t were well it were done quickly “. I apologize to Macbeth in this connexion.
– You are not referring to the assassination in this context?
– Not at all; but if it means getting a few Philistines out of the way, I will be all with you. We handle them with no circumspection at all. The idea is that we should get on with the job and pacify the critics who will say: “ What about housing? What about all these other things? “ But man does not live by bread alone, and we have to do some work with other institutions. We must spend £7,000^000 or £8,000,000 or whatever the amount is to have our library. We have to build a National Library; and we do not want people coming to this country when we no longer haunt this place, not even our memories remain - and perhaps in my case not even a picture - and there are no non-book records of our existence, to find that it has degenerated into a utilitarian slum. We need to have some grace and beauty and the opportunity in relation to the National Library is immense. The poet Emerson wrote of him who “ builded better than he knew “. Let us do likewise.
I would have the National Library built quickly - and I know that priorities intrude into this matter. I would have it built, not as we built the Sydney Harbour Bridge, rivet by rivet, and not as we built the Administrative block across the road to house our public servants. In that case, we had a huge amount of masonry under the ground and pulled it up again to see whether it was in order. Eventually over the years, the structure sort of lumbered into existence.
That does not happen to-day in Europe and certainly not in the Soviet countries or China. Whatever you say in criticism of them, if they decide that this is the place for a railway station, a public library or a palace of culture, up it goes in four or five or six months and it is there. There is something heart-lifting about this because you know as a fact that you can do these things in your generation and do them quickly. You can look upon your works and marvel while still alive.
We on this side of the House give the National Library and its future our unqualified support. We agree that the two libraries should be separated for their better working. We agree that there should be a corporate body and a council to look after and help to plan and develop the National Library of the future, and bring it to early life in the form of a building to house the national book collection and other treasures that we have. We have to see that in the development of Canberra, whatever plan succeeds - if the Walter Burley Griffin plan is suspect to-day and favorable to-morrow - there is no delay in the building of the National Library. The nation now calls for it. With our huge immigration programme, our million new people, our potential population and our increased money power and wealth, we should have something worthy of the period of nearly 200 years during which we have inhabited this country. We must have a more appropriate national memorial within a place where men regardless of where they come from and whatever their circumstances, may read books and gain knowledge. We want a place where they may look upon the treasures of the country, its garnered arts, its pictures and the things that have been brought to it as a sort of shrine where we may watch our national progress and learn of things that have gone, of the work of our pioneers and our own people in developing Australia.
The National Library will be a memorial and we should press on with the erection of it. The building will cost money. It will not be achieved without blood, sweat and tears, anxiety and conflict of ideas, but achieved it will be. We congratulate the Government without inhibition on having brought down this measure. The late Ben Chifley dreamed of a national library and a national theatre in a national capital. So, in the circumstances, the Labour Party fully supports this measure.
.- I also wholeheartedly support this measure. I compliment the Government on taking this great step forward in the development of the National Library, and, indeed, of the library services that are available in Australia. I also compliment the successive governments, not only the present Government but also the previous one, on the extent to which they have supported and assisted the development of the National Library. The extent of that assistance may be seen if we refer to the amounts that have been spent on the National Library, excluding the Parliamentary Library, since 1945-46. If we look at those figures, Mr. Speaker, we see that in 1945-46 the total appropriation for the National Library was £7,800. At that time, the Library had a staff of precisely seven persons. Those figures have since grown at a rapid rate. This year the appropriation for the National Library, quite apart from the Parliamentary Library, is £354,000, and the staff has increased to 171 persons. There has been a very big move forward. For that reason, I compliment the governments on their realization of the importance of improving the facilities of the library. I have one reservation, in relation to a suitable building for the library, about which I shall say something shortly.
Our national welfare and, indeed, our successful or even comfortable survival in the present age is, in my view, increasingly dependent on prompt, exact and detailed information. Both the Parliament and the Government need such information, whilst the development of industry and commerce depends on it. It is the basis of scholarship and research and it provides the proper climate for cultural growth and the wellinformed conduct of affairs. Australia’s access to information might be described as rather tenuous, because geographically, Australia is distant from the northern hemisphere which has been, and is, the source of most innovations and of so many features of the modern world. Also, because of our comparative youth compared with that of countries of that area, and our limited population and resources, Australia lacks the collections and literary resources of older countries which provide the context from which our ideas have been drawn.
While that is true, Sir, Australia has neighbours with whom it will have increasing contact, but of whose traditions, institutions, attitudes of mind, history and current affairs we are as a nation comparatively ignorant. Australia’s future role in the world will be determined inevitably. I believe, by its relations with the countries of the British Commonwealth and of Europe and America on the one hand, and with the Afro-Asian countries on the other. Through its geographical position, the shortness of its history and its avidity for new ideas, Australia may become in a modest way an interpreter between the regions I have mentioned. But whatever Australia’s role is to be, it is clear that we shall need to develop, for all purposes, up-to-date and comprehensive informational resources. The provision of those resources and of facilities for their use normally is a task for many agencies and institutions. In many countries, the national library has a special responsibility and a central place among those agencies and institutions, both on its own initiative and through co-operative action.
Australian book collections and the literary system in general are relatively undeveloped in comparison with those of many countries overseas, even including a number of countries of comparable population. For this reason, the National Library of Australia may well be required to carry special and particular responsibilities in the rapid development of collections and of the services based on them. It is precisely because our library services are relatively undeveloped in comparison with library services elsewhere in the world that the National Library assumes a new importance and a greater significance in the overall scheme of things than those of national libraries in some countries. Its responsibilities as a library among the Australian libraries generally are equally great. This is particularly so in relation to such enterprises as may be developed to render Australia’s total book resources and similar informational resources more widely available and more readily accessible to the general inquirer and the research worker alike.
If Australian research - and this is vital - is to make a significant contribution to knowledge, the library collections and resources which serve it must possess a quality and a depth sufficient to permit research at the highest level in any field. It rs important also that the fruits of research, either in Australia or overseas, should be accessible to the people of Australia as widely and as speedily as possible. It is because this legislation brings us a step forward in achieving all those objectives that I welcome it. It is an instance, a sign, an indicator, of our national maturity, of our belief in ourselves, and of our recognition of the importance of the kind of services which libraries provide. 1 believe, Sir, that this legislation, and also the development of the National Library to the present time, recognize the desirability of those things. This country is now well on the way to maturity and, perhaps I might say, greatness. It is a statistical fact, if we look at countries which have become great in the past, that almost invariably the development of their library resources has gone step by step with their approach to greatness. In other words, the greatest countries have had the greatest libraries, and vice versa.
In saying that, Sir, I make the qualification that there is one field in which we need to do more than we have done in the past. I refer to the erection of an adequate building for the National Library. I do not think we can really say that we have reached the point at which we, as a nation, have a real appreciation of the importance of the facilities which a national library should provide, until our library collections have been adequately housed in Canberra. My own thinking on this subject has gone through a transformation. I started off being very sceptical about the importance of bricks and mortar in this role. I approached the subject in much the same way as I approached the idea of the university. There is an old saying that if there is a good teacher sitting on one end of a log and a keen student sitting on the other, you have a university. A lot of the modern emphasis on bricks and mortar gets completely away from the very essence of a university. In approaching the question originally, I felt much the same way about libraries.
I felt that if we were bringing into the National Library big collections of books which were important to Australia’s development and if those books were being made available to the people who wanted them, that was enough. I felt that too much emphasis had been given to this question of a building. I do not believe that now, Sir, because I have become convinced, after going into it thoroughly, that without an adequate, properly equipped and properly designed building, a large part of the resources of the National Library are virtually useless. You cannot achieve the objective for which library services are designed until you have the physical means to provide such services. For that reason, I have become convinced that an adequate National Library building is absolutely vital. On this subject, the Paton committee said -
A decision to provide suitable accommodation is vital if effect is to be given to our proposals, as without it there is no possibility of establishing an adequate National Library as distinct from a Parliamentary Library. 1 should like to go further than that and say, not only that we should establish an adequate National Library apart from a Parliamentary Library, but that we cannot establish an adequate Parliamentary Library until we have an adequate building for the National Library. In this bill we are creating a council for the National Library so that it can get on with its important work of separating collections, setting up an administration, and so on. There is a certain amount of work that that council can do, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who is a distinguished member of it, knows. But, sooner or later, if there is not a building down there on the edge of the lake, or wherever it is going to be, the council will not be able to go any further in carrying out the task that will be imposed upon it by this bill. It will have to sit down and do nothing but administer the Library in its present unsatisfactory form. The point that I am making is that an adequate National Library building is essential to the effective implementation of this legislation. We will pass this legislation to-day, but until a building is constructed we will not be able to achieve the objectives of the bill.
I think that the main reason for the importance of the building can be stated as the need for accessibility of collections and material so that rapid and efficient service can be given. There are other reasons for the importance of the building. One was mentioned by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself, when he introduced this legislation. I was glad to see that the Government itself was conscious of the importance of the establishment of the Library building. The Prime Minister mentioned the dangers to which very valuable collections are exposed in the odd places, all over Canberra, in which they are housed, such as the annexe and the basement of the administrative building which, for some reason I have never been able to understand, is periodically flooded. There is, as the Prime Minister said, a danger from fire in many of the places in which the collections are housed.
Then there is the effect on the morale of the Library staff. I wonder how many honorable members have ever taken the trouble to go to the basement of this building and look at the quarters in which the majority of the staff of the National Library work. They almost literally sit on each other’s shoulders, so much do they lack space to do their work. Because of the piles of books which they are cataloguing and distributing there is literally no room to move. That must have an effect on their morale and on the efficiency of their work. I should like to pay a tribute to the members of the staff of the National Library for the way in which they have kept things going under incredibly difficult circumstances for so long. It is a wonder to me that the National Library provides the service that it does.
I should like to illustrate, Sir, the point that I am trying to make by referring to the service provided to Parliament itself. We, the Library Committee of the Parliament, have very strong views on the sort of services which the Parliamentary Library should provide to members of the House. We are conscious of the shortcomings of the services. At present, the Library provides little more than general reference services. In addition to that, the materia] needed to inform members should be more highly organized so that it is immediately responsive to demand from members. This is not so now in most cases because it is impossible, in present circumstances, to organize the material properly.
There would be differences of opinion about this, but I believe that material should be analysed and presented in the form of prepared statements as is done in the Library of Congress, and in the Parliaments of the United Kingdom, India and Japan. That sort of analysis is increasingly available to Ministers of the Commonwealth Government through the research officers and through the resources in Commonwealth departments. If we, as a Parliament, are to do our job, with the increasing complexity of modern government, we also need services from our Library comparable, at least, to those which are provided for Ministers. The Library Committee and the Library, itself, would like to establish these services, but they cannot be established because the collections in the National Library are not readily accessible. Even if additional librarians were obtained in order to provide these services, they could not be provided because the collections and other material are all over the place. They are insufficiently organized to enable the provision of these services.
The most dramatic way in which I can illustrate my point is to say this: It is considered that if, except for a few reference books, there were not a single book in Parliament House, and the collections of the National Library were adequately organized in a new building, this Parliament would get a better service from that building than it gets at present with the bulk of the collections and the staff housed here in Parliament House.
Of course, not only the Parliament is affected. The illustration that I have given is merely one of which honorable members will be extremely aware, because of thenown experience. The same remark applies to the very many other important services which the National Library has to provide for the general public, the residents of Canberra, other libraries in Australia, and libraries and people all over the world. Because we have not a separate National Library building at the present time the system is admittedly inefficient and we are certainly not getting value for the money we spend on the Library. The physical existence of an adequate library building in Canberra would be an important symbol of our realization of what is done by a library. It is important not only to have a building, but also to have the right kind of building. In this connexion, I should like to read to the House a comment that was made by Dr. Keyes D. Metcalf, one of the greatest of America’s librarians, during his broadcast on 21st December, 1958, as the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s guest of honour. He said -
Because libraries have grown so rapidly in the size of their collections and in the number of their users many of them suffer from overcrowded quarters which reduce their effectiveness. Too many libraries occupy buildings planned as monuments and not as libraries. Libraries have suffered from their own importance. As the “heart of the university “ or as the “ cultural center of the city “, we place the library building in a prominent site and decide that a monument is indicated.
I do not know whether that is what the honorable member for Parkes had in mind when he referred to monuments. I hope he was not thinking of a new National Library building as being a monument in the sense to which Dr. Metcalf referred in his broadcast speech. Dr. Metcalf continued -
When you add to this the fact that not one library in 25 is designed by an architect or by a librarian who ever planned a library before, it seems almost inevitable that library buildings should be poorly planned. They are inconvenient and often they are inadequate because the space in them is not used to advantage due to faulty layouts. Many American libraries have cost fifty per cent, more than is necessary. Australia is in the midst of a great library building programme. I hope that it will not make the mistakes that the United States has made. 1 am sure that we will not make that mistake. To me, it seems to be of vital importance that we do not make such a mistake. I take advantage of this opportunity to bring that point to the notice of the Government.
Not only the design but also the size of a library building is of importance. The library of the American Congress, which was built in 1897, was designed to last for 150 years. It was anticipated that in 150 years’ time all that would be required in the library of the Congress would be 4,500,000 books, and it was built to house a collection of that size. But by 1939 it had 10,000,000 books and, although an area of 760,000 square feet had been added to the building, it had run out of space. The University of Princeton commenced to build its library in 1897 too. It was built to last for 200 years; but by 1939, it was out of space. The moral is very evident. It is important that the National Library building be designed for efficiency in display and operation, and that it be of adequate size to house the vast, increasing collections we are bound to have as this country grows and develops.
There is one further comment I should tike to make. I am sorry that my friend, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr.
Wentworth) is not here on this very important occasion. I believe other members of the Library Committee on both sides of the House will agree with me when I say that, as a member of that committee, over the years the honorable member for Mackellar has made a very great and very constructive contribution to the efforts that have resulted in the introduction of this measure. While complimenting the Government upon the introduction of this bill I should like to compliment the honorable member for Mackellar for what he has done to bring the matter before the Parliament. I support the bill.
– The House and the Senate should congratulate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government upon the introduction of this measure. The congratulations and gratitude of this Parliament are due also to the Librarian, Mr. Harold White, who is the inspiration behind this measure and who, in the background, has worked ceaselessly for many years for recognition of the significance and value of the National Library. He has also had the courage, supported by successive governments, to continue to collect and retain the books of a great library and the irreplaceable records of the nation’s political, administrative, economic, religious, intellectual and social life in face of the lack of an adequate building. Our thanks are due to his staff, led by Mr. Key and Mr. Burmester who, because of the painstaking and courteous service they have given to members, have won for the National Library such a great measure of goodwill on the part of this Parliament. Our thanks are due to those members of the National Library staff whom we members of the Parliament do not know, but who have worked efficiently under discouraging circumstances and in inadequate buildings, and who have preserved priceless national records.
This is a measure which will affect the thinking of this nation through casual users of the Library, through the Library’s influence on the thinking of governments and government advisers, and through its influence on the thinking of research students and scholars. Its outreach will go beyond this nation to scholars and visitors from abroad. It will probably become a model library for new nations now emerging in Asia and Africa. They will need to set up national libraries and archives.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) referred to the need for a National Library building. I do not want to dwell on that matter, but I should like to make this point: Such a building should be on a sufficiently generous scale to cope with me great output of books both now and in the future. The honorable member for Barker quoted the warning that was given by Dr. Metcalf about the tendency for libraries to become overcrowded and for library buildings to be inadequate for the quantity of material coming forward. In the United States alone, 40,000 new books are produced every year. I am not suggesting that all 40,000 of them should find their way into the National Library, but included in that number there must be a great many significant publications. In the United Kingdom 35,000 new titles appear each year. I understand that in West Germany there are 25,000 a year. In the Commonwealth of Nations, excluding the United Kingdom, there are about 5,000 new titles a year. In the English language, and in those languages which many people in Australia are now reading and will be reading in the future, there is a great output of significant material, much of which will be stored on the shelves in the normal course of the Library’s service.
The second suggestion I would make is that the building should be located in the national triangle near the lake. It will be a national building. Thirdly, I believe that it should include facilities of the art gallery kind, to enable collections of Australiana, such as those of Hardy Wilson and Rex Nan Kivell, to be displayed, and to allow for exhibitions of material, pictorial and otherwise, of national significance.
Fourthly, I think it should be a hospitable building, where students can study and visitors browse in comfort. Fifthly, it should include theatrette facilities for the showing of its films. Sixthly, it should be, as far as possible, fireproof. We have recently had a warning of the damage that can be caused by fire in such a building, when fire broke out in one of the buildings of the Australian National University.
Seventhly, it should be a building of dignity and quality. Eighthly, it should include facilities for conferences of a library, scholarly and historical and geographical study kind. Ninthly, I believe the Government should be clear in its mind that this is an urgent issue, and that it should prepare a definite time-table for the Library’s commencement and construction. Tenthly, and lastly, the plans for the building should be prepared now. We had plans drawn up which went before the Public Works Committee seven or eight or more years ago. The committee had models of the proposed building, which some of us here, who were then on the Library Committee, will remember. The building was originally to have cost about £2,500,000. If it is to be adequate now we must be prepared to spend, I think, three or four times as much as that.
Having made those comments on the physical nature of the proposed Library building, I think it is necessary to consider the philosophy underlying the Library’s collection of our records. The influence and vision of the Librarian, Mr. White, and, of course, of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), can be seen in the scope of the Library as set out in clause 6 of the bill. But the philosophy underlying the National Library’s collection of our records is best expressed in the National Librarian’s essay on “ source material for Australian studies “, in “ Historical Studies”, Volume 7, No. 28, of Mav, 1957, in which the Librarian had this to say -
Though we cannot accurately foretell the course of our development or the sources of influence on Australia it seems likely that our future will be closely linked with Pacific and Asian countries. Their historical background will then become important as source material for Australian study as it will be for the conduct of our affairs. The appropriate material should be collected in Australia to meet both needs and for this reason is a major field of concentration in the National Library’s acquisition programme.
If we have neglected our historical background, no such criticism could be made of our attitude towards material for the study of our actual origins, though so much of it was in the custody of institutions overseas and had to be copied - discovery and exploration widely scattered in Europe, and establishment and early development dispersed through British institutions. The criticism would rather be that we have concentrated too much on the records of our origins to the detriment of our original records as a whole. It is a nice question bow far this is the cause or effect of a similar concentration on our early years in Australian research and writing generally. It may be due in part to the influence of a few great private collectors to whom in all other respects we owe so much. The libraries which inherited the work of such men have tended to follow their example too closely, seeking the earlier items and the collectors piece rather than the material which systematically records the life and development of the people. The result is that scholars cannot always approach the libraries with confidence that they will find there even a major part of the record they need. The gaps moreover, are often unexpected and disconcerting. There .ire newspapers relating to major regions of which nc complete set has been preserved, and important journals are missing. There has been an almost total neglect of lo.al records as such, reflecting our general failure to relate our local history to the wider pattern of state and national activity. The shortcomings of our research programme are also revealed in the limited library holdings of the regular and occasional published reports of corporate bodies outside the Government which make up the political, economic and social life of the nation - political parties, business undertakings, trade unions and the like. The unpublished records of these bodies have also received less attention than might have been expected from the government libraries which are already familiar with manuscripts through their responsibility for the archives of the governments themselves.
Less surprising is the reluctance on the part of libraries to recognize the newer means for communicating ideas as sources of basic library material. Photographs, moving picture films and sound recordings have not the same historical and logical relationship to the book and the processes of printing from movable type as have the traditional forms of library material - print, manuscript and prints. Librarians feel a little uncomfortable in the presence of the new physical forms. Print was bold and familiar; celluloid is strange and fleeting. Moreover, the older and larger libraries were already over burdened with their existing materials and services and short of resources. However, the librarian’s attitude is only part of the general failure to appreciate the significance of these new materials as records. It might have been justified by their early development as entertainment media, but has persisted after it was clear that the film, for example, had become a serious and even a powerful means of communicating ideas.
Then the author goes on to speak of an even newer development, the aural record made by the various means of sound recording. On this subject he says -
Originally, the collecting of sound recordings as records was largely limited to the speeches of prominent persons on notable occasions. Increasingly it has been extended to cover those aspects of the life and development of the people which might not otherwise be preserved, or which it was thought desirable to illustrate by sound as well as by written or printed records. The recording of folklore is a well known example of the first and, in our case, would include that of our dependent peoples the aborigines and the native peoples of Papua-New Guinea. Examples of the second are the development of our habits of speech and the reproduction of our creative works including music and literature. . . . However, a most promising systematic development is the joint programme of the National Library and the Australian Broadcasting Commission to select and preserve all significant records of the Commission, sound as well as documentary.
If that is the philosophy which is to inspire the National Library in its collection of the historical records of Australia, it is one that will, I think, be very satisfactory from the point of view of scholars. But it will also present a challenge as to the kind of building that we are going to construct. The building will have to house and mobilize all this material. It will not be merely a building for storing library books; it will have to be a building in which the Library’s films can be shown, and in which its sound recordings can be played without disturbing the people who wish to read.
Twelve years ago a decision was made by the Parliamentary Library Committee to carry out an extensive project of microfilming. I believe that it is important to place on record what has been achieved. Under a joint project managed by the National Library, in conjunction with the Public Library of New South Wales and in some cases the Dominion Archives of New Zealand, the National Library has been micro-filming original records relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, which at present are preserved in the Public Record Office in London, and other overseas collections. Since copying was commenced by a decision of the Parliamentary Library in 1948, all of the principal Admiralty, Colonial Office, Home Office, Foreign Office and War Office series in the Public Record Office, which relate to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, have been copied up to the beginning of this century. In that period some minor or miscellaneous series have still to be covered and searching for relevant papers is proceeding. Each complete set of the microfilm so far copied amounts to 220,000 feet, or the equivalent of 3,500,000 pages. This, of course is a great economy.
I should like to take this opportunity to refer again to the speech by Mr. White in 1957, contained in “ Historical Studies “, Volume 7. He said -
A general survey shows that, excluding all printed series except the Confidential Print Series Colonial Office 808, there are approximately 1,200 volumes of Colonial Series relating to Australia between 1860 and 1900. About three years would be required to copy this material- by microfilming -
. at a cost, for the negative, of £3,000 sterling and, for each positive print); £1,000 sterling. A decision is also due on the related question of the resumption of publication of the “Historical Records of Australia” which was suspended pending the completion of copying up to responsible government.
Speaking of the achievements, he said -
We should take pride in attempting what few countries outside the United States have done. Almost two million pages of records have been copied on to about 150,000 ft. of microfilm which, incidentally, occupy little more space than the “ Dictionary of National Biography “. Moreover, apart from searching, the cost, including all the sets of positive prints, has been little more than £10,000.
That, of course, is an immense economy in comparison with the publication of historical records in the more traditional form, as was done before. I think honorable members understand that when these pages of Admiralty, Colonial Office or other records are on microfilm, they can be projected on to a small screen about the size of a television screen, or .a larger screen, if necessary, page by page. In that way they become available to scholars. The space they occupy represents an immense economy, and provided the microfilm collection is adequately indexed and scholars have ready access to it, this system has advantages over previous systems of storage.
– Is there any deterioration of the film, or is it protected?
– That problem has been posed, but the way the film is stored preserves it. Also, more copies can be reproduced from the negatives, as a safeguard.
There has been considerable breadth in this microfilming programme because other important series held outside the Public Record Office have been microfilmed concurrently with the main project. I refer to records such as those of the London Missionary Society, the Church Missionary Society and the Methodist Missionary
Society, all of which are of considerable interest in relation to the aboriginal peoples of Oceania. The records of those societies are very important overseas in historical studies of such questions as the abolition of slavery. They are also quite important in the history of the original settlement of the Pacific and in the relationships between European peoples and the original inhabitants of this area. Some papers in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich have also been copied.
Records of foreign governments, which have become available for copying, have also been covered. These include records of the German Foreign Office, insofar as they relate to Australia and the South Pacific, and a small group of records of the Japanese Foreign Ministry concerning the islands of the central Pacific. I take it that those records became available to us in the course of the capture of the archives of those countries during the last war. Advantage has also been taken of the active policy of the United States National Archives in producing microfilm copies of its holdings in order to acquire microfilms of the despatches of United States consuls in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Tahiti. The Library has had the vision, and has established good relations with foreign governments, to go into the archives of Spain, Portugal, Holland and France, which countries were, equally with Great Britain, original explorers of Oceania and Australia, and whose policy has affected European settlement in this country.
So, the National Library has done an immense service to Australia, for the scholars of the future, and to all the other libraries of Australia in collecting this material. An extremely intelligent policy has been developed and is developing of co-operation between the National Library and the State libraries of not competing with one another, but defining their spheres of interest and working to establish a system of cross-reference so that each library will be able to tell readily what other libraries have available and so enable scholars to work efficiently.
We owe a debt to the Prime Minister because after the original decisions in 1948 his Government has obviously continued to back this project of collecting the historical records of the country. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the people in the Library whose vision has been to make this historic collection, which is so important for the scholars of the future.
We in this Parliament are fortunate to be able to walk along the corridors of this building and see just a small fraction of the Australiana collected by Mr. Rex Nan Kivell. Visitors to Parliament House very often are quite entranced by this material when they are conducted by a guide who can explain the material. We also have a monument to early good taste, which perhaps we are not maintaining or increasing, in the drawings of Hardy Wilson which are displayed in this building. It will be very good when those materials can be fully displayed in a national library for visitors to the Australian Capital Territory to see. I believe that all these things will become possible under this legislation, which confers the necessary power. Exactly what kind of job we can make of establishing this National Library and how we make it a building to which scholars and the general public have access will depend upon the vision of the present and future Governments and the present and future staff of the Library.
– Mr. Speaker, my remarks on this legislation will be addressed rather to the administrative side than to other aspects which have been very ably dealt with by some of the previous speakers. First of all, I should like to congratulate the Government on its interest, and particularly the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on his personal interest, in the National Library. Throughout the whole of my association with the Library Committee of this Parliament, I have been impressed by the fact that the Prime Minister has taken a personal interest in the progress and development of the National Library. There are many marks of his interest. Unless the head of the Government is in sympathy, it is very difficult indeed for even the most enthusiastic committee and the most capable and self-sacrificing librarian and library officers to progress very far.
I have been a member of the Library Committee of this House since early in 1950, soon after I entered this Parliament.
That committee has been confronted with the problem of the continual development of the Commonwealth National Library in conjunction with the Parliamentary Library. The amount voted for the National Library showed quite clearly that unless there was a deep and very practical interest taken by the Prime Minister in the future development of the Library, our collections would suffer. I have been impressed by the fact that, within the limitations of government finance which might reasonably have been expected, money has been generously forthcoming to enable the National Library to purchase very considerable quantities of material from almost every country in the world, and particularly from countries which are our neighbours in what is known as the East. It has become increasingly important for us to know as much as we can possibly learn about the great nations of SoothEast Asia. I have been happy to see that various collections which have been submitted to me as a member of the selection committee for approval have contained increasingly important contributions from that part of the world. I wish to place on record my own warm appreciation of the part that the Prime Minister and the Government have played in bringing somewhat nearer the establishment of a proper library organization consistent with the importance of the National Library on the one hand and the need for an effective and efficient Parliamentary Library on. the other.
I should just like to remark, Sir, that those who have thought about the subject have made it abundantly clear that one of the most important functions of a parliamentary library is to place at the ready disposal of members of the Parliament such information as will enable them efficiently and sufficiently to gauge the value of proposals put forward by the government itself. This is very important. The government has behind it all the resources of its departments, all the information that they have been able to assemble and all the advice of many expert officers in those departments. Members of the Parliament, irrespective of the side on which they sit, are expected to deal intelligently with measures which come before the Parliament, and they should have at their disposal a complete reference organization. staffed by reference officers and assistant reference officers, of the kind which has been developed particularly for other national parliaments, so that members may be at least as well informed as is the government which introduces the measures on which members have to make judgments.
I entirely agree with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), who said that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has rendered outstanding service to the Library Committee. I can testify to that myself. The honorable member, being of a vigorous, inquiring and original mind, has made a very valuable contribution indeed to the development of ideas with respect to the Parliamentary Library. Had the honorable member for Barker not paid tribute to the honorable member for his exceedingly hard work in the interests of both the Parliamentary Library and the National Library, I should in fairness have raised the matter myself.
I wish now to mention the National Library Inquiry Committee of 1956, which is more commonly known as the Paton committee. I was appointed to that committee, and I found it a great pleasure to work as a member of it in association with some of my colleagues from the Parliament and other committee members from both Canberra and other parts of Australia who were brought together under the chairmanship of Sir George Paton. The committee, which went very fully into the matter of the organization of the National Library, was greatly helped by the experience of Mr. H. L. White, who is at present both national Librarian and Parliamentary Librarian. As has been said, quite rightly, in this debate, Mr. White has rendered splendid service to both the National Library and the Parliamentary Library during his occupancy of the combined positions. Without labouring the matter further, I should like to put on record my own appreciation of his work. Nor do I overlook the very fine service which has been given by other officers, some of whom have already been commended.
Returning to 1950, Sir, I should like to point out that, I think at my own suggestion, the Library Committee devoted two days to an examination of the physical conditions under which the National Library was sup posed to be functioning in conjunction with the Parliamentary Library. Members of the committee gave up two days of their time to that task. What we ascertained was simply appalling. We found that books and documents, many of them of extremely great value, were scattered all over this city in a total of fourteen different places - thirteen apart from Parliament House. Some were down in damp basements. I recall that some archives were kept at a site not far from the Canberra railway station in a building that was just a kind of hay shed with an iron roof and with sides formed by cyclone wire. That shed was packed to the roof with archives, and a careless person needed only to toss aside a lighted cigarette for the whole lot to go up in smoke - or so it seemed to me! That was typical of the condition of things in 1950. We managed to obtain the necessary funds, and we progressively reduced to nine the number of locations at which material was kept, and generally improved the housing of the material. But no one would argue for one moment that the present situation is other than rather parlous in that many of the collections are housed under conditions which are far from suitable. In respect of this matter alone, I welcome the moves foreshadowed by the introduction of this measure.
Over the years, we have had a succession of reports by architects and by the most brilliant library experts in the world, whom we have brought to this country expressly for the purpose. We have a mass of evidence on which anybody could proceed, and we should not ignore it.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended I was about to refer to the report of the Paton committee. That committee was appointed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to draw up a blueprint for the development of the National Library and to make recommendations as to its relationship with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. In 1959, the Library Committee controlled the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, the National Library and the libraries of various departments. In addition it controlled the Library of the City of Canberra and the
Archives Division. It was obvious that the time was overdue for certain important alterations to be made. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Library cannot effectively function except as an independent unit under the control of a committee of this Parliament. The Auditor-General has directed attention to financial and organizational problems confronting the National Library and he has made certain recommendations. That matter was considered by the Paton committee. This bill will overcome some of those difficulties. 1 now turn to the City Library. Like Topsy, it grew up as part of the system of combined libraries. The City Library is not consistent with the requirements of the National Library and the two should be separated as soon as possible. A separate authority should be set up to control what is in effect a municipal library in the truest sense of the word. The separation of the City Library from the National Library is overdue.
There is a division of opinion as to whether the archives should be controlled by the National Library or by a separate body. Up to date I think it has been wise to consider the Archives Division as a part of the National Library. But I do net think this system should continue in the future although for physical reasons it should continue for some little time to come. When the new National Library building is constructed, it must provide a good deal of accommodation that is not immediately required. It would be foolish to erect a building to house merely those collections that we have at present. We would need to look years ahead and provide for an expansion of the National Library. For that reason I can see no good purpose in a physical separation of the Archives Division and the National Library where temporary accommodation could be found for the archives within the National Library building. As the National Library expands, preparation should be made to house the archives separately. There are various kinds of archives. There are some which by virtue of their acquisition as gifts should be retained within the control of the National Library Trust. The records of the Commonwealth may need to be housed in a building of a type different from that required for essential library purposes. I do not propose to labour that point. I merely mention it in passing because I think it is advisable to do so while this bill is before the House.
This proposed act cannot be really effective without a physical separation of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library and the National Library. Already one honorable member has made that fact perfectly plain. Unless this separation takes place the National Library Trust will face a good deal of frustration. The sooner collections constituting the National Library are brought together in one worthy building, under the immediate control of the trust, the better for all concerned, including the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. That is something that does not need stressing further. At present, of course, we are passing through a transition stage. We have no building in which to house effectively the books, historical paintings and objects of art which are such an important part of the national collection committed to the care and supervision of the National Library. Collections such as the Nan Kivell collection are of immense historical value and should be housed in a worthy building. They should be displayed in such a manner that the public will take an interest in them.
Members of the public may not be so much interested in reading books as in viewing historical collections depicting the growth of Australasia and Oceania. They can look at that miserable little collection of buildings called Melbourne, as it was when it first started and compare it in their minds with the magnificent city that has grown up there. Looking at those things, they can realize the processes of evolution that have raised this country from the pit. When, in the face of some national crisis or disturbance, their courage fails them, they can cast their minds back to the beginning of this nation. If they can realize what the pioneers faced and overcame, they may take fresh courage and go forward in strength to overcome the problems facing them. They may gain fresh heart from the thought that the men and women from whom they are sprung overcame, at the beginning of this nation even greater difficulties than those now facing them.
I want to pass on to one other point, and that is the question of a building. As
I said earlier in my address, plans galore for this building have been proposed. I remember very well that a leading American expert in library mattei s visited us. I cannot remember his name, but I remember his message. One of his statements to the Library Committee was that a library does not need very high rooms in which to house books. He said that rooms with high ceilings were largely a waste of space and imposed upon the staff a physical load that they should not be called upon to bear. He considered that it was much more convenient and much more workable to have rooms of moderate height where the books could be reached readily. I do not agree with him entirely, but I think that he talked common sense and that his suggestion should1 be remembered.
I am always conscious of the fact that institutions modify men. If we are to have a national library, it should be a library that is worthy of the nation. It should stand as a symbol to all who come to our national capital and should show the value that Australia now places on a library in contra-distinction, it I may say so, to the paltry ideas that were held less than 25 years ago. A few of the State capitals have developed very fine libraries. The idea is spreading that libraries should not only consist of adequate collections of books, but should also be housed in buildings which suggest the importance to the nation of the collections contained in them. Whatever may be the site on which the building is to be placed, I hope that it will be a worthy site and that the collections will be housed in a worthy building.
I believe that the National Library should be the focal point of all library development in Australia. I do not mean to say that we should have no other libraries, but what I do say is that this library should contain the books which it would be neither profitable nor sensible for every library to have. It should contain rare books of reference which can be lent to the State libraries, wherever they may be. Just as I believe that the State libraries should lend to provincial libraries and that provincial libraries should lend to the smaller communities, so I believe that the resources of the National Library, with very rare exceptions, should be accessible to the people, under proper safeguards. We should have a properly integrated library system running from a base comprising the institutions in our smaller communities, through the provinces to the States and eventually to the National Library at the apex, and the essential material in the National Library should be available to all sections of the nation.
Sir, there is one thing that we must learn about libraries. Some people have the enthusiastic idea that we do not need to duplicate libraries. That may be quite true of rare materials, but it is not true of even departmental libraries, university libraries and other libraries. It is not true because the tools of trade, if I may use that term in referring to such an elevated subject, should be readily at hand for those who need them. But the rare instruments, which are perhaps the standards for all other works, should be centred on the National Library and should be made available to the people, through persons accredited for that purpose.
I congratulate the Government once again on having brought down this measure. I congratulate it on having implemented this proposal in conjunction with the Library Committee, which has worked with good will and free will to improve our library facilities. I congratulate it on having set up a trust to administer the National Library. I hope that, despite certain difficulties that confront us, the importance of having a worthy library building in Canberra will be recognized, that this will be considered as a matter of urgency and that the work will be proceeded with at the earliest possible moment. I support the measure wholeheartedly.
.- In the words of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who has led for the Opposition in this debate, the bill has the unqualified support of the Opposition. At the outset, I should like to pay a tribute to Mr. H. L. White, the chief Librarian, for the magnificent and outstanding work that he has performed down the years in carrying on our library activities in most trying circumstances. It is in no small measure due to his vision, energy and apparently inexhaustible enthusiasm that we have reached this present stage in the development of our libraries.
The history of libraries in Australia - we are a comparatively young country - has been long and tortuous, advancing from one point to another ever so slowly. However, I do not think that we have been daunted, because if we examine the overall picture very closely, we will find that we are doing well when compared with the accomplishment of other countries. It is very difficult to obtain comparative expenditure on library activities, and I shall give some figures subject to correction. From what I have been able to ascertain, the Library of Congress has an annual allocation of 13,500,000 dollars. The appropriation in Australia for 1960-61 was £430,000, which would, I think, amount to roughly 1,000,000 dollars. When you consider that the United States has a population eighteen times that of Australia, by comparison this country is not doing too badly so far as expense is concerned.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), when presenting this bill to the House, made some reference to the subject of archives. He said -
The Government reached the conclusion that, as these archives are essentially a collection of the Government’s own papers, many of which must remain confidential until at least a certain lime has elapsed, they should come directly under the control of a departmental authority as recommended by the Paton committee, rather than under the governing body of the National Library. My own experience has convinced me that this is desirable.
Then he went on to state his reasons. 1 agree with that statement, but the indefinite part of it is that the archives must remain confidential until at least a certain time has elapsed. I think that the Prime Minister could have been more specific. It would have been more helpful if he had been more definite and had given the House some idea of what he means by “ a certain time “. Different people have their own ideas of what constitutes a certain time. In recent times some people have done remarkably well as the result of the publication of facts contained in such documents. The President of the United States of America, President Eisenhower, published a book which was responsible for netting him, I believe, just one million dollars. He had access to documents that were supposed to be confidential, and which should have remained in the archives. The same applies to Sir Winston Churchill, who had access to such documents. In our own country we can recall Mr. J. T. Lang who published a book - very coloured in certain respects, in my opinion - out of which he did extremely well. The latest instance is that of Sir Anthony Eden, the ex-Prime Minister of Great Britain, who was out of office only a few months when he published a book which is supposed to have netted him £100,000. He also had access to documents that should have been treated as confidential. When the Prime Minister states that many of these documents must remain confidential until a certain time has elapsed, to my mind he is being a bit ambiguous.
The best approach to this matter, and the one which appeals most to me, was that of the late Mr. Scullin, who was Prime Minister of Australia. He had the misfortune to be the leader of this country in the days of the depression. He was a very controversial figure, and he wrote a book expressing his point of view. He stipulated that the book was not to be published until 25 years after his death. He was a man motivated by the highest principles, who was not concerned with making money for himself but wished merely to state his own point of view for the purposes of record and for the help of posterity. I should like to see a more definite statement from the Government as to what is meant by the phrase to which I have referred.
As I said earlier, we have travelled along a tortuous road in our approach to the subject of a National Library. As previous speakers have pointed out, this is not just the development of a few days or a few years ago. It goes back to the very beginning of federation. In 1903, a National Library was first spoken of and in 1907 the term “ national library “ came into the Australian vocabulary. I think that in 1925, when West Block was built in Canberra, it was considered for library purposes. In 1927, when the Parliament was transferred from Melbourne to Canberra, greater activity took place, but very soon afterwards the depression intervened and stopped any further development. In 1938, submissions were made again for extensions to the Library but, of course, the war intervened and all expansion was out of the question. However, the urgency of this matter has been constantly in the minds of people interested in library activities, and has also been kept alive as the result of the activities of certain committees of this Parliament which have presented reports to the Parliament on a number of occasions.
On 20th October, 1949, the Public Works Committee, in a report stressing the urgency of the project, said -
Moreover,thereisaccommodatedinParliament House a number of Library officials who are really officials of the National Library who should be accommodated in that building. That, at the present time, is impracticable because those officials in the National Library block are very much overcrowded and are working under conditions that should not exist in a Government office.
I had the good fortune to be a member of *he Public Works Committee when it heard evidence on this subject in 1949 and 1952. It is rather remarkable that the library staff has been able to carry on at all. It is a tribute to the zeal of Mr. White and his staff that they are able to do the things they do, because in many instances they have been called upon to work under the most deplorable conditions.
On 23rd September, 1952, the Public Works Committee reported on this matter as the result of a re-submission of the reference because of some differences of opinion that had arisen on the question of -lesign. In 1952 the library was housed in fifteen temporary buildings situated in Canberra and Queanbeyan. On page 11 of the report of the Public Works Committee, dealing with the urgency of the work the committee reported as follows: -
The Committee recognized this in 1949 and recommended measures for temporary relief. This relief is in sight, but will not be in use for some months yet. The position in the meantime is constantly becoming more pressing, and it is stated that the temporary accommodation being erected will not be sufficient to afford relief beyond 1956, when conditions will become critical, while risk to irreplaceable library material is constantly growing.
In 1952 we have the Public Works Committee reporting that accommodation had not been provided to afford relief beyond 1956, that the situation would be critical, and that irreplaceable material would be in danger of being completely destroyed. This is the end of 1960, and relief has not yet been provided for the proper and adequate housing of this material.
The development of a national library gives rises to all kinds of thoughts. It is important that a library of this character should be established at this stage of the development of Australia, because it is absolutely essential that the National Library of this country should take the leadership in the library activities of the whole nation. I think that one of the most important and impressive witnesses that I listened to during the two inquiries of the Public Works Committee was Professor i. E. Burchard, Dean of Humanities and Social Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On the question of leadership he said -
It is inevitable that the National Library will develop into a position of leadership in library activities in the Commonwealth of Australia far beyond that held by any American State library. The comparison must simply have been based on a matter of present scale which seems to me quite irrelevant.
A good deal has been said from time to time about the alleged ambitions of the National Library and the part that it will play in the future. We in Australia should be able to benefit from the experience of American libraries and avoid many of the problems with which they have had to contend. On this question, Professor Burchard had this to say -
I shall deal with the advantages to the United S’tates in another section but here one need only remark that there need be no apprehension on the part of any State of the Commonwealth that given good management by their own libraries and reasonable support by the States themselves their stature should in any way be diminished by a growing and thriving National Library. Certainly if one were to ask here of the librarian of Harvard University, of Yale University, of the New York Public Library, of the Detroit Public Library, of the Newberry Library or of the Huntington Library (to name only six of our great scholarly research libraries) whether the Library of Congress had diminished their effectiveness or deprived them of proper growth, they would emphatically state that the contrary was the fact. There are distinguished libraries in the States of the Australian Commonwealth and particularly in the large cities of Sydney and Melbourne. These libraries should not be diminished but rather improved by any growth of the National Library.
Another factor that has to be considered is the risk to which collections are exposed. Previous speakers have stated how important it is to ensure that collections will be adequately housed and properly protected. It has been suggested from time to time that the National Library, in competition with other libraries, might diminish the influence of those libraries. Professor Burchard referring to what has happened in the United States, when this problem has arisen there from time to time, said -
The risks to the future of collections in the United States if the Library of Congress did not exist as a bulwark would be enormous.
The National Library here will be of itself a bulwark against damage to, or destruction of, any of our collections.
When this matter was being discussed in 1949, it was suggested that a part of the National Library should be called the Roosevelt Memorial. I have the highest of admiration for President Roosevelt, but I believe that the National Library of Australia should be completely Australian in character. In choosing a name for any wing or section of it, I do not think that we should go out of the country. Any name that we choose should be in keeping with the Australian scene and with what this library stands for now and will stand for in the future. I do not think that we would be accused of being purely parochial by acting in such a manner. Let me refer the House to the opinion expressed on this subject by Professor Burchard. Speaking on the proposal to establish a separate Roosevelt Memorial, he said -
I feel reluctant to express any kind of opinion on the present proposed solution of the Roosevelt Memorial problem. As an admirer of President Roosevelt and as an individual American, I can say that I feel this might be the happy solution and in fact I should think it might be quite inappropriate for the National Library of the Commonwealth of Australia to have a larger space devoted to memorializing perhaps any citizen, and certainly a citizen of another land than Australia.
I do not think that we can emphasize too strongly the great risk to which irreplaceable and invaluable collections are exposed because of the deplorable accommodation facilities that our library possesses. On this subject, let me again quote Professor Burchard, a man who has a world-wide experience of these matters. He was appalled when he saw the conditions under which our National Library has to function. He said -
Irreplaceable library and documentary treasures which, once gone, the Commonwealth . can never recapture are daily subject to the hazard of accidental destruction or theft. The conditions under which these collections are housed not only expose them to danger but make them useless. T have seen a good many disgraceful conditions in my time as libraries have a way of growing into disgraceful conditions, but I can honestly say 1 have never seen any situation worse than the one now existing in Canberra and certainly never in any institution which could be compared in importance with the National Library of the Australian Commonwealth.
I do not think there could be any more scathing indictment of the conditions with which the National Library has to contend in Canberra.
The development of the National Library is very important from many aspects. It has been said that man does not live by bread alone and that a good book is a man’s best friend. I have never yet come across a quotation describing a bad book. This country is developing and growing in importance. Its influence is spreading farther afield. To-day we have an important place in this part of the world. The work that the National Library can do in this field is tremendous. Let me quote Professor Burchard on the question of how important the National Library is in this respect. He said -
I do not feel competent to have an opinion on whether the Library should have priority over other major governmental buildings in Canberra. It does however seem to me certain that the Commonwealth of Australia will play an important role in South Pacific affairs from now on, and that South Pacific studies are bound largely to be based in Australia. It seems to me inevitable that even if they do begin in Melbourne or Sydney, they will shortly have to be based in Canberra and this will be the more accelerated as the South Pacific studies at the National University grow. In the circumstances, this alone would seem to me to justify an early construction of the new National Library which when built can not only serve highly utilitarian purposes for the nation but stand rs i symbol to the Australian people as they continue to grow in intellect and moral as well as economic and physical power.
It has taken a long time to develop our National Library, as I have said before, and our library people have had an uneven struggle. Now that we have reached a more advanced stage in our history, I hope that our progress will be more rapid.
I should like to pay tribute to the part that the State libraries have played in this field. There was a time in our library history when the relationship between the Commonwealth and the States was not the best, but due, I think, to the tact, consideration and understanding of Mr. White, most of those difficulties have now disappeared and the utmost cordiality exists between the States and the Commonwealth in this very important field. I believe that this is a most important matter, and I am pleased that the Government has introduced this measure. I have given the House certain, information,, that cannot be controverted, about the pressing and urgent necessity for adequately housing our library material. If we pass this measure but do not provide adequate housing for the material that has been collected by our National Library, much of our efforts will have been in vain. It must be realized that the people who work in libraries are entitled to conditions comparable with those enjoyed by other people.
The interim, council has been appointed. We should now, as a matter of urgency, make available to it the money it needs to carry these plans through. Of course, it is easy to say, “ Make the money available “. I appreciate the fact that the Government is faced with pressing demands on all sides, but we cannot continually thrust this question into the background without becoming the poorer from a national point of view. In our present stage of development, our failure to do what is necessary could be fraught with disastrous consequences. I support the measure, and’ I hope that the interim council that has been appointed will apply itself conscientiously to the work that lies before it. Unless the Government makes available to it the money needed to build the National Library I am afraid the council will encounter the difficulties, the heart-breaks and the exasperations that have been experienced by all those who have been associated with our library activities in the past.
.- This legislation is further evidence that Canberra is growing up - and growing up fast. This is our national capital and Australia’s national shop window. Canberra is the Mecca of 100,000 visitors each year, including people from almost every nation. I believe that eventually it will become the Washington of Australia. In the growth of a truly national capital, a national library plays a predominantly important part. The growth of our National Library has been rapid, which is a sign that intellectual and cultural maturity is coming to this nation.
We are building a national capital of which Australia will be proud. 1 was for six years a member of the Library Committee of this House - from 1952 to 1958 - together with the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) who spoke earlier this afternoon, and my colleagues, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). We pioneered the advocacy of the new building which is now, we hope, to be brought into being. I remember vividly the long discussions we- had about the type and size of the proposed new building. It seems almost incredible to me that about eight years elapsed before this bill to ratify ail that planning and work was introduced into this Parliament. In those days, as the honorable member for Fremantle has said, the building could have been erected for £2,500,000, whereas to construct an adequate building within the next four years will involve a probable expenditure of from £6,000,000 to £8,000,000. I criticize the Government for its long delay in bringing this legislation before the Parliament, because I do not think it was necessary. The Paton committee was set up in 1956 but this bill has only now been brought before the Parliament. I hope that it will not take the Government so long to commence the new building.
The need for this modern building in Canberra is obvious to all who understand the activities of the library as at present constituted. I would like to mention where the various sections of the library are located. It is a national library, of course, but without any geographical significance at the present time. Its staff is doing the work of a national library but without the necessary facilities. The library is like a live body, but without a head, or something of that nature. It is amazing to see the work that the staff does, considering that its work is not centralized. The present library is scattered around this city. The film section is in a bank building at Civic Centre, and the Australian collection is in the annexe near the river. The main research collections are in the subbasement of the Administration building, which is supposed to be atom bomb proof - that may bs the reason they are there. The Territory service is in the building near the Patent Office, which was to be the first wing of the permanent building. The head-quarters of the library is in Parliament House. That is the present rambling nature of our National Library. It is a glorious example of decentralization, which should not be a feature of the library.
I wish to join with my colleagues in paying a very warm tribute to Mr. H. L. White, who for a long time has been the head of our wonderful library, as well as to Mr. Key, Mr. Burmester, Mrs. Warde and other members of the staff here at Parliament House, who have given members of this Parliament loyal, faithful and detailed service in research on matters for the preparation of speeches, and so on. They compose indeed a wonderful staff, and it would be wrong of us to let this occasion pass without paying a tribute to them. The Library Committee is a nonparty committee, and it will continue to exist as a statutory body. Mr. White has been earnest, sincere and untiring in his efforts to have this National Library project commenced. He must be very pleased now to see his dreams and plans culminating in the legislation which is now before the Parliament.
There is to-day in Australia a tremendous interest in books. As we travel around our electorates we find that the people are showing a growing interest in reading. There is a never-ending stream of people going to the country libraries in each State. This is a wonderful sign, and our schools play a great part in developing in our children a capacity for and an interest in reading. I believe also that Australians are becoming more discriminating in their reading.
The National Library will be, in a sense, the spearhead in the development of literature and the love of books in the Commonwealth. It is to become the mother library, as it were, of all libraries and it will be an inspiration and a guide to the State libraries with which it co-operates so closely.
In his second-reading speech on this bill on 10th November last the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stated -
This is the first major bill on library services to be introduced into this Parliament.
That is an amazing statement when one remembers that we have had federation for 60 years. The Library has grown up more or less by regulation, custom and tradition but it has never received the sanction of an act of Parliament. The Prime Minister continued -
It provides for the establishment of the National Library of Australia. Honorable members will, of course, understand that we are not in reality creating a new institution, but are rather proposing that the library services of the Commonwealth which have grown up without formal provisions since federation should now be the subject of legislation by this Parliament.
At a later stage of this speech the Prime Minister referred to the committee which was set up in 1956 under the chairmanship of Sir George Paton, and quoted extracts from the report of that committee, one of which reads -
The National Library should be provided as soon as possible with a building appropriate to it« functions.
All of us echo the committee’s sentiments in that regard.
– Who said that?
– That was one of the recommendations of the Paton committee. I shall repeat that recommendation, which was in these terms -
The National Library should be provided as soon as possible with a building appropriate to its functions.
We all hope that this legislation will inspire the Council of the National Library of Australia to continue with its plan as quickly as it can. At a later stage in his second-reading speech the Prime Minister stated -
The intention is that the affairs of the library will be effectively under the control of a small council of nine representative and experienced men and women. As honorable members know, the council has already been established on an interim basis, with Dr. A. Grenfell Price as chairman, two members of Parliament - the President of the Senate (Sir Alister McMullin) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) - and six others: Mr. K. B. Myer; Dr. H. S. Wyndham; Mr. Justice Crisp, of Tasmania-
A very worthy member, too -
Associate Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick; Professor L. G. Huxley, the new Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University; and Mr. E. J. B. Foxcroft, of my own department, who is a man of great and special interest in these matters.
I attended Melbourne University in the 193CS with Mr. Foxcroft, for whom I have a great deal of admiration. I am very pleased to learn that he is a member of the council which will guide the National Library in its early years. The council has already met and, in co-operation with the non-party committee of the Parliament, has succeeded in having this legislation prepared. I wish the council every success. In concluding his second-reading speech the Prime Minister stated -
The Government’s aim in giving the National Library a statutory basis and a wide charter is to allow it to play a significant and appropriate part in the Australian library system and in Australian life generally.
I have read the extracts from the Prime Minister’s speech to give honorable members a general idea of what is behind this legislation, but I should like to refer to a section of the library to which no honorable member has yet referred. I have in mind the Commonwealth National Library film service, which is one of the most fascinating aspects of the work of this great institution. To-day the film - both the moving and the still film - is a modern interpretation and a modern record of the face, the character, the resources and the beauty of our continent. It is a new and an exciting medium of knowledge. This kind of film record is as important in the mid-twentieth century as is a collection of books and newspapers. The library has been noticeably interested in this feature for many years, and the use of film is growing rapidly.
I should like to give honorable members some information which I feel would be of great interest to them. Selected foreign films of an informational, scientific or cultural character are as appropriate to the collections of a great reference library as are books and periodicals. The Film Division of the National Library has two chief aims, first, to spread information by means of films, and secondly, to preserve such films as record Australian history and development. To achieve these aims two separate film collections are maintained, the lending collection and the historical collection. The lending collection is of tremendous importance. The Commonwealth National Library film service lends films to Commonwealth departments and agencies, members of Parliament, Commonwealth Territories, and almost every kind of industrial organization, society, club or group. Interestingly enough, that is the primary aim of the Film Division. These films include those of a specialized, historical and a documentary nature.
The Commonwealth also lends a large number of films to the State film libraries. These are mainly of a specialized nature. People living in Tasmania, Queensland or Western Australia can obtain these films through their State libraries, and they then can be shown throughout the State. This service is a wonderful example of Commonwealth-State co-operation within the federal system without any control or direction from Canberra. My own State, Tasmania, is a good example. We in Tasmania would have to buy much more film than we do if it were not for the direct assistance of the Film Division. In other words, this is indirect federal aid to the States without tax, conditions or control. There are no tags of any kind. I pay a tribute to the concept of the lending section of the Film Division.
All told, more than 10,000 borrowing groups are reached and audience numbers range from fifteen, for a small club, to 45,000 for a programme sent on circuit in New Guinea. The average monthly audience figure for the library’s films is 175,000, and on the average 1,800 films are loaned monthly. The area served by the lending division includes every State and Territory of the Commonwealth, including Papua and New Guinea, the Antarctic Territory, Heard and Macquarie Islands, and the islands of the Pacific which come under the control of the South Pacific Commission. in the Northern Territory, where films are an especially valuable means of spreading information, a film pool of 200 titles is maintained at the Darwin Public Library. Yearly loans from the libraries in Alice Springs and Darwin number about 5,500. Lending to Commonwealth departments and agencies covers a variety of purposes. Examples are: Loans to the Repatriation Department of films suitable for use in their hospitals, of general films for patients and specialized films for staff training; loans to almost every Army, Navy and Air Force establishment, including those at Woomera and Manus Island, of both general and specialized films; loans to the Department of Civil Aviation of fire fighting and genera) films; loans to the Public Service Board of films on office and personnel management. productivity, &c; loans to the Department of Immigration of Australian films for migrant information; and loans to Australian bases in the Antarctic of discussion and other films.
To meet all of the needs mentioned, as well as many others, a planned acquisition policy is followed whereby the Library as well as obtaining the more important films appearing on any topic acquires every worth-while films on specific topics chosen each year. Over the last three years, and partly as a result of the establishment of television, which has brought much general information as entertainment to the domestic screen in Australia, the proportion of specialized films acquired by the National Library has risen steeply. A film classic collection is maintained for the information of students of the development of the cinema, and it includes films noteworthy in film industry. Potential and practising film makers, both for cinema and television, make constant use of this collection to obtain technical and artistic background. The lending collection contains “ ,400 prints of 5,000 titles and is said to be one of the world’s largest collections of individual films. Approximately 300 titles are added yearly. Prints are made under contract by private laboratories and are on public sale nearly at cost. The service is appreciated by film libraries and education departments, since not only prints are available speedily but also replacements are easily obtained. Over 800 titles are at present available in this way from the Library and sales average £7,000 yearly.
The historical film section is also very important. It has received special attention in recent years, although the collection of films and sound recordings of historical value had been undertaken prior to the war in a restricted way. Since the war the work has been speeded up. The collection of historical films is aimed at preserving, for both record and research, films recording Australia’s history and development, and a collection of Australian productions which illustrate the development of films in this country. In many cases, of course, one film will be valuable from both points of view. The following subjects are covered by films that have been preserved: The federation ceremonies of 1901, the ceremony connected with the naming of Canberra in 1913, the building of Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, and the conquest of the prickly pear in 1936.
– What about skeleton weed?
– That will come. The honorable gentleman will probably be the leading actor in such a film. Other films preserved include one of Australia’s finest, “ The Sentimental Bloke “, which was produced in 1919, and records of Mawson’s 1911-14 Antarctic expeditions.
Films made prior to 1950 were almost exclusively printed on a cellulose nitrate base, a material which disintegrates with age. Research is being conducted into bases that will endure without deterioration. All told, approximately 2,500 films or film extracts are in the Australian historical collection. That is amazing, considering that in the early years of this century movie films were rare and crude. Another part of the historical collection of great value comprises 25,000 cine stills illustrating the development of cinematography, both technically and as an art form, from its inception to about 1937. These were presented to the Library about ten years ago by Mr. J. C. Taussig, who had assembled them during 30 years in the film industry. This valuable collection is particularly rich in examples of European origin during the first two decades of this industry’s existence, when European countries in succession were its acknowledged leaders. In connexion with the film information and reference service, the Library has published a catalogue of Australian scientific, educational and cultural films produced between 1940 and 1958, with annual supplements, which attempts to list Australian production of non-feature films during this period as completely as can be ascertained. A card catalogue of Australian productions prior to 1940 is maintained.
This story of the film section of our great National Library illustrates a tremendous activity that goes on behind the scenes almost unknown to the great body of Australians. When the new building is erected with suitable accommodation for all the divisions, the centralization achieved will be of advantage. The library staff will be able to keep a close watch over all library services. I hope that the Government will not be deterred by other commitments but will set the ball rolling for the erection of such a building, together with other great buildings that need to be built in the National Capital. To foster the cultural and intellectual advancement of the nation, we need a national library building. Nothing, not even considerations of finance, ‘should’ stand in its way.
.- The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) concluded on a note with which we are all in agreement, but one of the amazing features about the entry of this bill into the House for discussion has been the extraordinary procrastination that has occurred for well over half a century, particularly in the last six or seven years. I hope that pressure on the Government will be such that it will meet the demands of honorable members on both sides of the chamber and will soon implement the recommendations of the committee. It is a little disappointing, of course, that from the other side of the chamber only the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) has spoken. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) reminds me that the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) also spoke, but I was referring particularly to members of the Liberal Party, who sit directly opposite. As far as we on this side are concerned, this is an important matter. I should like to believe that a lot more pressure will be brought to bear upon the Government than the debate so far has indicated.
I know, of course, that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has performed yeoman service on the Library Committee, and I know that there are senators who will do so; but what is the history of the past seven years? I entered this Parliament in 1955 and joined the Library Committee in 1956. From the very first Library Committee meeting, we were anxious for the Paton committee to be appointed to make its report to the Government. Consider how long it has taken to bring what is comparatively, so far as the nation’s affairs are concerned, a simple measure before this House. In 1953, the Government decided to establish a committee to examine the whole question of control of the National Library and its functions, and to advise whether any change in the present form of control was desirable. That was in 1953, as I have said.
In May, 1956, the committee was appointed. In April, 1957, the paper was ordered by .this House to be printed. In May of this year - seven years after the initial statement that the committee would be appointed - the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) made a statement in this House. Now, in November, 1960 - seven and a half years after the committee was appointed - the bill is actually before the House and is receiving the approval of both sides. That is extraordinary delay, particularly in the face of the need for a library building capable of holding Australian archives and our very precious collections. The most pressing need is for a library building. It is disturbing to all those associated with the Library Committee that so many valuable and irreplaceable collections have been housed for so long in such dangerous conditions, particularly when you consider the fire risk and other ways in which they could be destroyed. I know I am voicing the opinion of everybody in this House, and anybody who has any concern whatever for the national culture, when’ I join with others in requesting or demanding or pressing the Government to act without delay in providing a building. I agree completely with the honorable member for Barker. It is very important that this should be regarded as a first priority.
The National Library building should be, first of all, of significance architecturally. Every great civilization over a long period of history has produced its significant architectural masterpieces. We look back to Greece, with its Parthenon, to Rome and its architecture and to the various monuments left to the genius of other peoples. Nothing could be more becoming to the genius of the present than a national library worthy of the nation. I hope there will be a standing order, so to speak, for the architects of Australia in particular to create a building worthy of the nation and expressive of the national spirit. 1 presume that it would be better if the task were thrown open to the world at large, but I believe that architecture is much like art in every other form - it can only be expressive of the national spirit if created by a member of the nation itself. Therefore, I am hopeful that some architect in Australia will be inspired by the need for a library, and will produce some concepts which will capture the spirit of this nation, its space, its size, its light and so on, just as the painters of the early part of this century managed to break away from the spirit of Europe and produce the modern Australian school of painting. Here is a challenge to the Australian architects and the creative spirit of the architectural profession. A national library building would be a worthy task for any one, and a worthy crown to the life’s work of any architect.
I hope the Government will take steps to create the spirit in which this building can be designed. A national library building will be, first of all, a cultural symbol, but then there are all the utilitarian functions which can only be satisfied by a definite building for a specific purpose. It should include adequate space for the display of valuable collections. There are some around this House, but unfortunately they cannot be displayed adequately so that people can enjoy them. Last year I saw a television film of the treasures of Parliament House. I presume that on that occasion the existence and the ownership by Australia of these treasures were brought to the notice of the people for the first time. Canberra is becoming increasingly part of the national pilgrimage. Most people you meet say that eventually they will have a look at Canberra, and I believe that the desire to do so will be fostered by the existence of the National Library. With its symbolic and utilitarian purpose, it should be one of the first priorities of any government as an expression of our national status.
I am concerned because, so far as I can determine, there are no actual plans either for finance or for the construction of a building in the hands of the Government itself or of the National Capital Development Commission. It is not a matter of having to surrender something else. The nation is able to find money for other things which I would consider of lower priority. This debate ought to spark off in the hearts of members of the Government, which has procrastinated for so long in this matter, a desire to change their attitude.
The importance of the National Library was amply demonstrated in the fine speech by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) who is a worthy representative of both the Opposition and the Parliament on the National Library Council. He is one of Australia’s leading writers, and probably the. only writer in this Parliament. I pay a tribute to his skill, competence and enthusiasm as a member of the council. I know, of course, that the same may be said of the representative on the council from the. Government side. The two members of this Parliament who represent it on the council are worthy representatives. One, as I have said, is known for his professional work as a writer, and the other is the President of the Senate who has shown a continued and active interest in the National Library as chairman of the Parliamentary Library Committee. I hope that members of the Government parties will give their representative the same enthusiastic support as the honorable member for Parkes can rely upon from this side of the House in pressing to have the National Library brought to full status. Unfortunately, the attitude of Government supporters to this debate, in which speakers on the Opposition side have had to follow one another in succession, does not indicate that there is a great deal of interest in the project among the Government parties.
Not only will the National Library building be symbolic architecturally, but its very existence will be a symbol of our national aspirations. I believe the National Library should be the fountain head and the initiating point of most of Australia’s cultural enterprises. Every creative work worthy of the name should become part of its collections, and the Library itself by its activities should sponsor creative works throughout the community. Fortunately for the National Library, it can be more richly endowed than are the State libraries under the prevailing system of finance; but we must remember that no matter how much we spend on education systems - and this year Australia will pour into the education systems about £140,000,000 - it is in adult life that education can find its greatest benefit. The library systems of the Commonwealth, whether State, municipal or Federal, are part of adult education. Unless we can expand library services as such, the work of the education systems is, in effect, wasted. The development of modern education is directed towards creating in adults the habit of inquiry and the knowledge of how to find information. It is, therefore, the job of library services in the Commonwealth and States to create the opportunities for satisfying this line of inquiry. This National Library is an institution which will collect books, films and other archives. It is, of course, a clearing house for ideas and an integrating point for the other library services of this country.
One of the more interesting and more useful aspects of the work of the library, so far as the rest of the nation is concerned, is that of the Australian Bibliographical Centre. This body co-ordinates the work of the six major State libraries and of other libraries, such as those at universities, and makes it accessible to anybody in Australia. This work must be continued. It is very important that work of that kind should be regarded as a fundamental part of the functions of the National Library, and I hope that the necessary resources will be made available to the Library Council for it to be carried on.
Australia suffers from the same difficulties as do other major continental nations, particularly those that are sparsely populated, such as Canada, in that, although it has valuable collections, it is very difficult to make those collections accessible to people in the more remote parts of the Commonwealth. It is only the Commonwealth, of course, that can undertake the task of spreading our facilities. The Commonwealth can do that through the initiative of the Australian Bibliographical Centre and the services that it provides.
We in this country have a long way to go in comparison with other nations. T have in front of me a summary showing the book collections of some of the world’s larger libraries. Of course, Australia is a young nation, but it is nevertheless disappointing to find that whereas the national library of Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, has a collection of about 1,000,000 volumes, the Australian National Library has a collecttion of only about 650,000 volumes. This is a country that is well endowed, rich in resources, and with plenty of manpower of good quality. The figure that I have given is indicative not exactly of neglect but of the priority that has been given to other matters during the last 60 years.
Let me refer to the collections of some of the less richly endowed countries of the world. Austria, for instance, has an important and significant national collection of approximately 3,750,000 volumes and pieces in its national library. Of course, Austria is a country with hundreds of years of history behind it. The Library of Congress, in Washington, and the Lenin Library of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics both are fantastically larger than the Australian National Library. The volumes alone in the Library of Congress number about 11,750,000, and those of the Lenin State Library, in Moscow 20,000,000. Australia cannot possibly compete with those countries, either in the volume of publications or in the resources that we can place at the disposal of library bodies, but it is important that we should keep in mind the achievements of libraries such as those 1 have mentioned.
Because of the ability of the National Library to establish standards, it is important to other library services in the States. One of the disappointing features of Australian cultural and educational activity is the great disparities in the library services that are offered to the people of the various States. My inquiries lead me to believe that New South Wales has the most effective State library services. 1 believe that that is partly the product of twenty years of Labour government, with its attitudes of mind in these matters. I learned to-day that the city of Wollongong, with a population of about 100,000, applies some £100,000 annually from its own revenue from rates to the library services of the Wollongong district. That expenditure, related to the scale of the national scheme, is the equivalent of about £10,000,000 a year. The Commonwealth job, of course, is to subsidize, to encourage and to co-ordinate library activities.
Tasmania probably has Australia’s widest library services, in that the services are available to a greater proportion of the population than is the case in other States. There again, Tasmania has had a long period of Labour government. Its small population, however, does not give it scope for the mammoth collections that are available, apparently, in New South Wales.
– What is the situation in South Australia?
– It also is disappointing to any Australian; but I am not concerned with State boundaries. Some very cultured gentlemen come from South Australia, such as the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who is now at the table. He might use his influence when he returns to South Australia to have something done to improve the library services there. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) also comes from South Australia. That State has not yet accepted the principle that there ought to be free library services, and in that respect it is miles behind the rest of Australia.
– What kind of government has the State had?
– lt has had a Liberal government for almost all - my lifetime, except for a few short periods.
An interesting point in regard to library services is that they vary considerably throughout Australia. The position in Victoria is not so bad as it was, but it could be a lot better. One of the difficulties that flow from subsidizing services on a £1 for £1 basis is that the wealthier the community the more subsidy it receives. The less privileged areas, that are faced with the greatest difficulties of distance, such as those out in the Mallee, are normally unable to achieve the standards that are possible for the wealthier suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney. Therefore, of course, it is important that the Commonwealth Government, through its instrumentalities in the field of cultural work and enterprise, should develop a national library that will provide a prime example. The Commonwealth Government should set increasingly high standards and should be continually attempting to foster all those means by which it can assist the activities of State governments and municipalities, as well as groups of citizens interested in this field.
A debate on this subject should not occur only once every 60 years. More frequent opportunities should be provided. I hope that next year the Government will apply itself to the question of improving the facilities in our Parliamentary Library. The decision to separate the Parliamentary Library from the National Library was not taken lightly. At first, as a member of the Library Committee, I was not in agreement with it, but the more I have considered it and studied it the more convinced I have become that it was the logical thing to do. I pay a tribute to the members of the committee of this House - the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) was one of them - which carried out the necessary research and recommended that the National Library, because of the particular difficulties created by the isolation of Canberra, and so on, should proceed on its own way. Greater financial resources have been placed at the disposal of the Parliamentary Library, but the division should not be allowed to prejudice in any way the services available to members of the Parliament.
The increasing complexity of government in the Commonwealth sphere - and it is big business, even in the smallest fields - makes it especially important to provide members of the Parliament with greater resources in carrying out their work. We should have at our hand and at call immediately not only reference material, but also reference officers who are able to supply us with up-to-date information, to coordinate it for us and to produce it in such a way that we can use it in our parliamentary work. The value of such a service has been recognized in the United States of America. I understand that the 600 members of Congress have the services of 180 reference officers. I think that we have here only four officers who are reference officers as such. They, of course, cannot possibly cope with the work involved in supplying material for 1 80 members, in the conditions under which they are working. I hope that the Government will apply itself to the question of extending the services of the library of the Parliament.
There are other matters which I think are relevant to a debate on the National Library, but I know that other honorable members also wish to participate in the debate. They may well have useful suggestions to make at the committee stage.
– Does book censorship come into this?
– 1 have been asked whether the censorship of books comes within the scope of this discussion. I think that that subject is irrelevant to the discussion. The library is a repository and a clearing house, as well as an initiating centre, for the cultural activities of Australia. It is only incidental to its duties that it applies its mind to checking up on government departments. Every member of this Parliament is concerned with the passage of this bill, and I hope that before the debate concludes we shall receive a stronger indication from both parties on the Government side of the House, not only that they are seriously concerned about the matter, but also that the first thing is to build a national library that will be worthy of the nation and expressive of the spirit of the present day and age.
.- It is not my intention to speak at any length, because successive speakers from this side of the House have dealt fairly fully with the scope and functions of the National Library. However, there are a few remarks that I feel moved to make. First of all, I should like to join with my colleagues and with members of the Parliament generally in paying tribute to Mr. H. L. White, the Librarian, for his persistent efforts and his great work through the years to bring about this stage in the development of the National Library. I share with him and, I am sure, with many others the hope that this legislation will give rise in the not far distant future to the building to which we all look forward.
Whilst we are talking about the National Library, it might be a good thing to pay tribute to the great work done by other bodies throughout our Commonwealth in respect of library services. Various States have been mentioned by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), and I want to refer to the great work of the local government bodies which have accepted the difficult task of providing municipal library services in various parts of Australia. We can also pay tribute to the populace of Australia, who have accepted the burden of paying special rate levies for library services in various municipalities. The municipality of Rockdale, in my electorate, was one of the forerunners in organizing, not only a local municipal library, but mobile services traversing the municipality. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) has similar services in his area and there are others in various parts of the Sydney metropolitan area.
We can pay tribute to the greater libraryconsciousness which exists in the community to-day. We can say that the project we are discussing now is almost the culmination of the development of libraryconsciousness in the Australian community. The National Library has established servicing and borrowing facilities for other libraries distributed throughout Australia. This is a great thing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because Australia has a very scattered population and, without the facilities provided by the National Library, it would not be possible to provide the highly specialized texts and other materials that are often required by people who are separated by great distances. It is pleasing therefore, to note that this machinery of co-operation between the National Library and the various other library services of Australia has been developed. I know that the officers of the National Library in Canberra are hoping that that co-operation with other library services will be extended.
Also, it is pleasing to note the operation of the Commonwealth Publications Exchange Agency, which was developed back in 1947, whereby the National Library is able to exchange publications with other countries. Of course, that would be a characteristic of a national library. There is also the development of the clearing houses for surplus publications, whereby this country is able to make available surplus publications to libraries overseas. This is a reciprocal and mutually benefiting arrangement. This country is all the richer for the existence of this service, in addition to the normal services of a library.
I have mentioned the importance of the public lending services of the National Library because of the existence of scattered communities in this country. It is a great thing that much-sought-after books can be made freely available to people in the various parts of Australia. This is in line with the Australian ideal of equal opportunities for all, especially in the matter of education. It does not matter in what part of Australia a scholar happens to reside, books are available to him, through the local agency, from the National Library in Canberra. He can avail himself of the rich resources of that library. As I have said, this is in line with the Australian ideal of equal opportunities for all. It is in line with our correspondence educational courses, with our schools of the air and with other services which benefit people in the far-flung parts of this continent.
This library-conciousness, of which this development is a characteristic, is in line with our changing notions and concepts of modern education. To-day I think it is realized that in primary, secondary, technical or university education the ideal is not so much to give a youngster a lifetime of education in the few years while he is at school as to teach him how to teach himself - to teach him to learn. The objective is to give him the basic skill and knowledge so that he can continue his inquiries with a critical judgment in later life. Therefore, it is good to see this library consciousness developing. The school is a place in which to teach children how to learn and how to study. Next week we will be discussing the provision for universities and talking about the wastage rate of students. There will be references, no doubt, to the fact that many youngsters are not acquiring sufficient skill in study and learning at school. If the establishment of great library facilities is accompanied by a greater insistence in all our schools, and even in our universities, on the idea of self-study - of making use of the materials available in the storehouses of knowledge - these facilities will be even more valuable. We will have to give more emphasis in schools and tertiary institutions to the use of libraries. Certainly, a greater insistence on the use of libraries is developing in the schools, but I am not sure that it is adequate there, nor am I sure that there is a great enough insistence at the tertiary level of education.
As a comparatively new member of this Parliament, I would appreciate - and perhaps many members who have been here a lot longer than I have would appreciate it also - something in the nature of an orientation or induction service with respect to library facilities so that we may know of the various devices that can be used to locate knowledge. Coming to the Parliamentary Library in Canberra, one of the things that I missed, after using libraries in other places, was a catalogue in the main reading room. I know that there is a catalogue downstairs, but it is not readily available to us. I hope that, after the creation of the new and more specialized Parliamentary Library, a comprehensive index and catalogue will be available. Members are not particularly anxious always to be approaching the library staff and asking whether there is a book in the library on such and such a topic. I would prefer to be able to make some preliminary inquiries so that my request would be more specific. I should like to be able to go to a subjects catalogue or to an authors’ catalogue and look up what I suspected were the places where suitable material was located. I am hoping that when, as a result of the introduction of this legislation, the Parliamentary Library is developed, provision will be made for such facilities. I hope that provision will be made for a much more comprehensive research service. I join with my colleagues in paying tribute to the staff of the Library for the very courteous treatment that has been accorded to us. But I think the Library staff would be the first to admit that there is a need for a more comprehensive research and analysis service for the benefit of honorable members.
Sometimes I am not too sure that the people outside realize just how fully the time of a member of the Parliament is taken up, and how difficult it is for him to discharge his responsibility on the floor of the House and as a member of parliamentary or party committees. These responsibilities press heavily upon him and he has not an opportunity to go to the Library and locate the comprehensive information that he would like to be able to use in his contributions to debates. I am hoping that, when the Library service is developed, a body of people will be available to conduct research along the lines of a member’s own orientation and into matters in which he is particularly interested. That research may entail the obtaining of material from various sources, of collating it, and of putting it together in a readily absorbable form for the use of the member concerned. Of course, as a starting point, it would be necessary for the member to do his own orientation, so as to be able to give direction to the inquiries of research officers in the Library. If such a service were available, it would be very beneficial, not only to the individual member of Parliament, but also to the Parliament itself and the public at large. The parliamentarian would be able to bring a more informed mind to bear on the matter with which he had to deal.
We should aim at obtaining something like the highly specialized legislative referen ;e service that is available to members of the United States Congress. Of course, we have a long way to go before we attain that objective. One of the pleasing features of the various reports on the Library is that reference has been made to the fact that our officers are able to go overseas to observe and study the latest library procedures. I do not think that the Australian people begrudge money being spent, not only on bringing valuable collections to this country from overseas, but also on sending officers overseas to gain more knowledge about the most modern methods of conducting library services. 1 conclude by saying, as did Mr. White in his submission to the Paton committee in 1956, that we have before us the longestablished idea that a national library is a proper place in which to collect systematically the substantial records of *r>e life and development of a people so that they may be made known and made available for use by scholars, students and the general public. When all is said and done, a library is not just a building wherein are kept books, sketches, diagrams, films and so on. To my mind, a library is a living thing; it provides a means of intercommunication between the records of the past and people who live in the present. The existence of that material in a library makes possible reflective thinking, reflective analysis and reflective assessment of all that has gone before. Such material enables us to formulate our thoughts about the future. We have been told that reflective thinking is one of the most important parts of civilization. It is indicative of a civilized, sophisticated community that it does gather to itself the resources of the past so that it may examine them and obtain light as to the future.
We are starting to draw away from the first development of this country. If we do not soon take steps to garner into the storehouse of an institution like the National Library the rich resources that are available in every municipality and shire, they may be lost for ever. In Sydney, only a couple of weeks ago, I listened to an urgent appeal that was made by a member of the Royal. Historical Society for such steps to be taken. Attention was directed to the fact that, if we did not soon take advantage of the rich resources of first-hand material that were available in various parts of the country, particularly from elderly people who could provide us with information about the past, the opportunity to do so may be lost for all time and our civilization would be the poorer.
I have much pleasure in supporting this legislation. 1 hope that it will soon give rise to trie erection of a great building to house the National Library.
.- I very heartily support the measure that is now before the House. As one who has been befriended by people associated with the library services not only of Australia but also of the United States of America, it is only right that I should indicate my acknowledgement. I left school in the early stages of primary education, and the knowledge I have gained by the reading of literature has been of very material assistance in any progress I may have made in public affairs. The library of the Congress was a constant source of help to members of the Embassy staff. I believe that we owe a debt of gratitude to those who are identified with library services.
Having occupied the office of Speaker of the House of Representatives and having at one stage been a member of the Library Committee, I realize the importance of a library in the affairs of a parliament and of the community. Therefore, I genuinely appreciate the fact that, even at this belated stage, thought has been given to laying the foundation of a great national structure which will house the many valuable manuscripts and works that are associated with the earlier life of our nation. In this legislation we have a view of the future horizons of the intellectual and cultural life of this nation. A national library is a repository for the riches that have been bequeathed to us by our ancestors, and it symbolizes our high purpose for the future. It contains our accumulated wisdom, as well as an historical record of our great struggle and sacrifice in ensuring steady progress through the years. The National Library can be of great assistance in helping to provide a basis for our future development and for the fulfilment of the “ vision splendid “ to which one of our great writers has referred. It can give a service to the nation the extent of which is almost beyond conception.
The legislation before us provides for the foundational planning of a national institution that will create a better basis of understanding for all who enter its portals. May we prayerfully hope that this planning will come to successful fruition, and that the activities of the institution will be carried on in a spirit of peaceful purpose and endeavour.
– Yes, and I say “ Amen “ too. I would say it again and again if I could thereby bring about the high achievements to which I have referred. I personally acknowledge my indebtedness to those men and women who have given me, by way of the written word, the drama and music, a better understanding of the way in which my life can be enriched. I have enjoyed the benefits bestowed by their great minds and the works that they have produced. It has been truly a great and rewarding experience to enjoy the works of our Australian writers. As I have come to know the value of records, manuscripts and other papers, I have gained a new and profound appreciation of their value, not only to our citizens at the present time, but also to the nation and its future.
In company with other honorable members, I pay my tribute to those who have conceived and furthered the scheme to establish the National Library in an adequate and appropriate building. I pay a tribute to the Library Committee itself, and particularly to our Parliamentary Librarian, Mr. Harold White, and to those assisting him in his work, including Mr. Key, Mr. Burmester and Mrs. Warde.
They have all rendered me very valuable service. I also pay a tribute to others whom I suggest we should remember at this time. I refer, for instance, to our first Parliamentary Librarian, Mr. Arthur Wadsworth. Possibly no other honorable member of this Parliament, except the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), has a recollection of him, but he was a very devoted servant of this Parliament. He rendered very valuable service when the Parliament was in Melbourne. Then there was Mr. Kenneth Binns, whom we remember with appreciation, and whom we honour for the work that he performed as Parliamentary Librarian. We have an opportunity to-day .to say “ Thank you “ to many people who have helped us in our research and have enabled us to gain a better understanding of the problems confronting us.
I have seen the important work done by libraries in other parts of the world, and I have been greatly assisted by them. My experiences have convinced me that the great libraries of the world can and do speak all languages, and that they are valuable instruments for the improvement of society and for ensuring the future progress and safety of the world. I have much pleasure in supporting the legislation that is now before the House, and in paying my tributes to those people I have mentioned. I give warm support to the views expressed by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), who put the Opposition’s viewpoint on this matter, and those expressed by my other colleagues.
– As this debate draws to a conclusion I feel I should make one or two remarks on behalf of the Government. To begin with, it is pleasant to hear in this chamber such a thoughtful and nonpartisan discussion, and such deliberative views being advanced by honorable members who have joined in the debate. The Government appreciates the support of the Labour Party for this measure. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said, these problems associated with the future of the National Library were discussed at length by the Library Committee. If I may interpolate at this point, I would remind honorable members that I had the pleasure of serving for nearly seven years on the Library Committee, between June, 1951, and April, 1958.
– You were one of my mates on that committee.
– Yes, I remember the honorable member for Wilmot sitting across the table from me. Of course, the problems of the National Library have been most exhaustively studied by the Paton committee and by the interdepartmental committee which was subsequently appointed to consider detailed measures to give effect to the recommendations of the Paton committee. Latterly, as we all know, the interim council of the National Library of Australia, together with the Parliamentary Library Committee, has had an opportunity to examine this bill.
One of the matters to which honorable members on both sides have quite properly adverted during this debate is the desirability of constructing a really worth-while library building. The building, of course, will be one of the keys to the future of the National Library and will determine, to a large extent, the scope of its services and what it will be able to do for the people of Australia. The Government is, in the main, completely in agreement with the substance of the opinions that have been expressed as to the necessity for a suitable building. Nobody can possibly rejoice in the way in which the library’s books are at present scattered in various locations, particularly having regard to all the hazards consequent upon this arrangement. The Government also believes that the designing and planning work for the library building should begin. Some honorable members may know that the interim council is now discussing future requirements with the National Capital Development Commission. This preliminary planning, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will be pressed forward by us as a matter of urgency.
May I, however, make a plea for patience in the planning of what I believe will be a great building.
– We have been patient for a long time.
– Yes, but m politics, as the honorable member for Barker will discover, if he has not already done so, patience is one of the principal arts to be learned and cultivated. May I make a plea - although I, as one who wants to see this building constructed, do not like doing so - for patience in the planning of what I hope, for the sake of all of us and of the future, will be a truly great building. Giving my own view, as distinct from that of the Government, I say that my personal predilection would be for a building of majestic design and noble proportions, constructed in a style which, perhaps, would not be satisfactory to many fashionable and contemporary architects, but in a style that would be admired, not only now but for centuries to come.
– My friend from Barker interjects with the word “ Georgian “. Although these are questions of personal taste, I believe that is a style, reminiscent of the eighteenth century in England and Europe, which would be very suitable indeed for an edifice of this nature and would harmonize very well with the sweeping, flowing and undulating Canberra landscape. These are purely matters of personal preference. Honorable members may not be aware that the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) does not favour Georgian architecture, so he might not agree with me.
More seriously, Sir, I say that much as we desire this building, and pressing as the necessity is for more suitable accommodation for the many valuable books and art treasures we already possess, it might be wiser to take a little more time in bringing about something which will really achieve fairly widespread satisfaction and be applauded wholeheartedly and without reservation by many subsequent generations. I suggest to the House that whatever we do should not be done too hastily and too cheaply. If decisions are taken of a snap nature, or too quickly, it may well be that during our own lifetimes we may regret those decisions.
I take it, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the site must depend to some extent on where the new Parliament buildings are to be sited. My own personal view rs that we would be wise to see that a new library building has some contiguity to the new Parliament buildings. There are many obvious advantages in that. I make these statements to show that the Government is very conscious of the necessity for a library building. It is very conscious indeed of the dangers to our books, pictures and other records as they are presently situated. All we are intent upon is that we should come to a decision which will be in the best interests of the future of the library and also, I hope, of the growth and grandeur and glory of Canberra in the future.
It would take too long and delay this debate too much, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to advert to the many considered observations that were made by various speakers during this debate. Without disrespect to other honorable gentlemen who have spoken, I should like to say one or two things about the observations made by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) about archives. I should like to assure the honorable member for Parkes that the archives organization will work in the- closest co-operation with the National Library and that the access1 policy, to which he made some reference, will be considered by the committee to be established, as recommended by the Paton committee, on which a number of eminent scholars will sit.
The honorable member for Dalley made some interesting: observations about the availability of confidential records. The period’ for which records must be held in conditions of secrecy has not yet been determined. That will be one of the questions which wilt be decided by the Commonwealth Archives Committee which, in due course, will be established. By way of example and as a matter of interest to the House,. I may say that the period of restraint in the United Kingdom is 50’ years, after which a fairly general accessibility is given to the public. However, as I have said, this is a matter which will be determined,, and I should imagine, in the fairly near future.
Before I conclude, I should like to express my own personal delight at the appointment of so distinguished an educationist as Dr. Grenfell Price as chairman of the newly-constituted National Library Council. Honorable members who know
Dr. Price will agree with me that the Commonwealth has undoubtedly been fortunate in obtaining his services. He is, of course, a fellow South Australian of mine, but his reputation extends al! over Australia and well beyond it. Besides being a writer in his own right, and an historian, he is a very good scholar. He will bring to his work a loftiness, a disinterestedness and great mental and spiritual qualities which, in the inaugural period of the council, will, I believe, become historic and invaluable. Unlike so many academicians, with all respect to them, Dr. Grenfell Price has a practical knowledge of public administration. I think my friend, the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin), will remember that approximately twenty years ago he was a member of this chamber for two or three years. That is recent enough in his memory for him to know the way in which governments, oppositions, and politicians work.
– That will make him a better man.
– if, as my friend from Wilmot says, it. does not make him a better man, at least he will be well acquainted with the practical business of politics. Let me repeat that the Government appreciates the: co-operation and support of the Opposition on this, measure. I believe that it is a stepping stone towards better things in the life of our country and certainly in the development of Canberra.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I interjected - I should not have, done so - when the Minister was referring to Dr. Grenfell Price having been a member of this Parliament. I said, “ That will make him a better man “, not what the Minister said, which was exactly the opposite.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- Mr. Chairman, I wish to address myself to clause 16, which deals with the procedure to be adopted for calling and conducting meetings of the Council of the National Library of Australia. I refer in particular to subclauses (7.) and (8.), which read - (7.) Subject to the next succeeding sub-section^ all questions arising at a meeting of the Council shall be decided by a majority of the votes of the members present and voting, and for this purpose the member presiding at the meeting has a deliberative vote. (8.) In the event of an equality of votes on a resolution proposed at a meeting of the Council, the resolution shall be taken not to be passed, but if the same resolution is proposed at the next meeting of the Council held at a later date and there is again an equality of votes, the member presiding at that meeting has a casting vote on the proposed resolution.
These provisions confer on the person who presides at meetings of the council two votes - a deliberative vote and a casting vote. This is a procedure that 1 do not regard very favorably. I believe that when voting is equal the question being determined should be resolved in the negative. When this matter was discussed at a meeting of the Parliamentary Library Committee, the members of the committee expressed themselves overwhelmingly in favour of the view that I have just stated, but certain members of the committee stated reasons why the procedure which will enable a member of the council to have two votes should prevail. They pointed out that this practice is adopted particularly by business concerns. I am well aware of that, and there is some kind of an argument to support the adoption of the practice in such circles. But I cannot for the life of me subscribe to the idea that a member of the Council of the National Library should have two votes in any circumstances. Even the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of another place have not that privilege.
I think that in the interests of efficient procedure, and of equity, the prescribed procedure respecting meetings of the council should provide that if the council is deadlocked at any time because the question before it has not been resolved, the question should be taken as having been resolved in the negative. This would be more in keeping with practice. The practice of regarding a question as having been resolved in the negative when there is an equality of votes prevails widely and is coming into even greater prominence and being given more general effect. In my view, the conferring of two votes on any one person is completely undemocratic and is out of step with modern thinking and development.
I conclude by expressing my concern that the bill does not provide that a question shall be resolved in the negative when voting is equal. I should have much preferred that to the procedure prescribed in the bill.
.- Mr. Chairman, I respect the views of the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) on this subject. This is largely a matter of judgment if not merely a difference of opinion. As I understand the matter, it has been considered at some length, and the view of the Interim Council of the National Library of Australia is that the procedure prescribed affords the most expedient way of dealing with the problem. The provision for a casting vote is really, from the standpoint of efficacy, a device to avoid a stalemate. There are numerous precedents for casting votes in other Commonwealth authorities. The bill will not create a precedent by introducing something novel. In fact, according to my information, the general tenor of precedents is in favour of the procedure prescribed in sub-clauses (7.) and (8.) of clause 16 rather than against it.
With all due respect to the honorable member for Dalley, I suggest that the circumstances envisaged in these two subclauses are not very likely to occur. The contingency provided for is rather remote. I say to him: Let us at least try this procedure in the first instance. If, as the deliberations and practice of the Council of the National Library develop in the next year or so, injustice is done or some major disagreement occurs, the Government can reconsider the operation of these provisions and will not find it difficult to have them amended. In spite of the doubts of the honorable member and, I believe, of a majority of the members of the Parliamentary Library Committee, I say to the honorable gentleman: Let us try it this way first. If this procedure is not satisfactory, we can always take another look at the matter.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 2988), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Opposition does not oppose the passage of this bill. It acknowledges the fact that this measure is a result of the findings of the Allison committee, and it accepts the recommendations of the committee on which the bill is based. However, I hope that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is now at the table, will be able to clarify several points for us. We are, after all, debating an extremely important measure which will affect servicemen who are compulsorily retired as a consequence of the Government’s decision to abolish national service training. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell the House how many service personnel will be affected by this measure. We believe that the House should be given this information. The servicemen who are being compulsorily retired and who are provided for in this bill were engaged in the three branches of the Services, principally as instructors. Initially, they were engaged for six years, with the opportunity of being re-engaged and serving for a total period exceeding twenty years. We may reasonably assume that many of the men who are being compulsorily retired would have reengaged and would probably have completed twenty years’ service. So, it is is extremely important that the Minister give the House some indication of the number of personnel regarded as redundant as a result of the passage by the Parliament earlier this year of a measure terminating national service training.
Briefly, the bill provides benefits for those servicemen who are compulsorily retired. Four categories are dealt with. In the first category are those servicemen who are compulsorily retired with less than six years’ service. They will receive a refund of their contributions and an additional £20 a year for each year of service. It may be thought, in view of the fact that those servicemen have not completed six years’ service, that the payment of £20 for each year of service is an act of generosity on the part of the Government; but, after all, if a serviceman has completed five years’ service, for example, hrs additional benefit will not exceed £100. We are told that it will take three months before this money can be made available to an ex-serviceman who has been compulsorily retired and nine months before it can be made available to those ex-servicemen who were members of the Ordnance Corps. Perhaps the Minister for the Army can explain that difference in time - why it should take three ‘months in the case of a man who served in the artillery and nine months in the case of a man who was attached to the Ordnance Corps.
– That time interval relates to the period over which they are to be retired in the various categories. It will take longer to retire members of the Ordnance Corps because they are dealing with reserve stocks. The time interval has nothing to do with the payment of benefits.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance on that point. The period of three months or nine months merely applies to the period of discharge?
– That is right.
– In the second category we have servicemen who have served for more than six years but less than fifteen years. They will receive a refund of their contributions plus a gratuity, and I must confess that at the moment I have no idea of the amount of the gratuity.
– It rs two weeks’ pay.
– Servicemen in this category will receive a refund of their contributions, and a gratuity of a fortnight’s pay for each year of service. This is probably a commendable action on the part of the Government. It is at least some recognition of the service that has been given to this country by those men who have served in one of the three branches of the armed forces.
In the third category are servicemen who have completed fifteen years service but have not completed twenty years continuous service. They will be entitled to a pension at the rate outlined in the first schedule to the bill, provided they are prepared to make the contributions they would have been called upon to make had they completed their full period of service. I point out that it may not be possible for a serviceman to find the amount of money involved, which I understand is to be decided upon by the Commonwealth Actuary.
– All servicemen would have the money due to them under their furlough rights.
– Well, there should not be any great difficulty in that respect. The amount of pension to be paid has already been decided by the Allison committee, and the Opposition has no quarrel with that.
The fourth category concerns servicemen who have completed more than twenty years’ service. I assume that the same conditions will apply to men in that category as to men in the third category to which I have just referred. Although we on this side of the chamber do not oppose this bill we do feel that in some cases servicemen will suffer hardship. Many servicemen have devoted eight or ten years of their lives to a profession that they cannot expect to follow in civilian life. For example, a man who has been an instructor in one of the armed services will be at a disadvantage when seeking employment in civilian life. In that regard we believe that some hardship will be imposed on some men who have devoted a not inconsiderable period of their lives to service in the armed forces.
The Government has taken some action to compensate those men who are to be compulsorily retired. In my view this is a matter that should receive careful consideration. The record and value to the Army of a serviceman should be carefully considered before he is classified as redundant. I hope that the Minister for the Army will be able to give some assurance on that point. The Opposition is fully aware of the great contribution made by the Allison committee in this matter of pension payments. The report of the committee was carefully considered over a long period of time and I have no doubt that the committee’s findings will be generally accepted by serving members of the armed forces.
I hope that the matters to which I have referred will he carefully considered by the Minister and that we will soon have an assurance from him in regard to them.
.- I wish to point out that this bill is to be read and construed together with the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-59. The two measures provide for special retirement benefits for certain other ranks of the Australian Regular Army. In his second-reading speech the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) referred to the reasons why the special rate of benefit was necessary and why the Government had favourably considered the payment of additional compensation to those other rank members of the permanent military forces who are to be compulsorily retired in accordance with the Army re-organization programme. The benefits proposed under the bill are additional to those benefits already provided by the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-59. The Treasurer in his speech specifically set out the quantum of those special benefits and the conditions of eligibility; but, as the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) seemed to be in some doubt, I will repeat that in the main those special benefits are limited to those other rank members who are to be discharged under the re-organization programme over a period of three months or, in the case of members of the Ordnance Corps, over a period of nine months from the date of proclamation of the act. These members must be so designated to be discharged.
This legislation recognizes the wrong that is done, as the honorable member for Bass mentioned, when a member is compulsorily retired, due to changes in government policy, before the completion of his contractual service. That is a wrong that was fully understood by the Allison committee and which prompted that committee to make certain recommendations. This bill seeks to compensate personnel whose services are to be compulsorily terminated. Those with less than six years’ service will receive a gratuity calculated at the rate of £20 for each completed year of service, that being the rate at which the gratuity would have accrued if the member had been permitted to serve until the completion of his six years’ term. Those with six years’ and less than fifteen years’ service are already entitled under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefit’s Act upon discharge to1 a: refund’ o’f contributions- and- to’ a gratuity according to the period of” service”. The? additional benefit conferred by the bill is the payment of a special gratuity of one fortnight’s pay for each year of service.
Further provision is made- for those members with more than fifteen and’ not less than twenty years of service; who are now entitled’ under the- act” to a refund of contribution’s arid a gratuity. However, members in- this group would1 have’ expected’ to be entitled to a pension if they had’ been’ allowed fo complete their full twenty years’ service’. They would have qualified’ for a pension if the Government had not institute-d this re-Organization under which their period of engagement” is to be terminated’. The Government” thus recognizes the wrong that these men would’ suffer unless special’ legislation of this sort was introduced”. The method of compensation in this category is the right of these members to a pension prior to completion of twenty years’ service and upon payment of’ a special contribution, which will be actuarially calculated over the remaining period of their service. The special’ contribution is’ based, of course, on the normal contributions which they would have made if they had been permitted to serve for the full period of their engagement. Provision is made for those who do not wish to pay the special contribution-, andthis could well’ be the position of members who have just completed fifteen years’ service. Those who decide not to pay the special contribution will have the right to obtain a pension at a reduced rate.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, f have’ no fault to* find with the legislation’ nor with the principle underlying it. However’, I do not” thin’k that the Government has” been very consistent in its approach to such a problem’ as this. I refer to the”1 problem” o*f’ military personnel who are compulsorily retired due” to changes in Government policy prior tothe completion of the contractual term of their service. If the principle- ifr now recognized that a me’mber deserves some compensation for the prevention’ of completion Of his” service- -I understand’ that this principle was firmly laid down by the Allison cOmm’ittee. and the- introduction of this measure gives expression” to” the principle and’ shows that it is accepted by the Governmentthen: in my opinion- some form o’f co’mpen’sation’ should- have been provided for- those’ personnel1 who were discharged between’ 1948 and1 1959 consequent upon the introduction’ in 1948 of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. There is no- doubt! that the’ conditions which prevailed fir the Services following’ the introduction of the- act in= 1948 and’ the pressure from the anomalies and’ injustices which” had- occurred’ were among, the main reasons for the terms of reference that were formulated by the- Government when it constituted! the’ Allison, committee;
Mr: Deputy Speaker; prior to the introduction of me Defence Forces Retirement’ Benefits Act in 1948, the majority of members of the’ permanent’ defence forces had accepted’ service under the’ terms’ of retirement contained in the Commonwealth- Superannuation Act. This acf, in- the- broad, provided’ for retirement’ at 60^ years on’ a pension- roughly based on’ 5”0’ per cent”, df the active pay for- the” fina! year’.. The members’ who were originally Subject ro” the’ Superannuation- Act can- beclassified1 in- two main- groups. In the first’ group aTe those’ who joined- the forces before the- r9’29-33- depression years. Thereafter there- was little intake into the permanent forces. In the second group are those” who joined the permanent forces in’ the. expansion period’ between’ 1934 and 1939. There was’ no1 engagement, of course, in the permanent’ forces as such during the war which followed’ this period’.
The- se’cond group accepted service under the terms of the Superannuation Act, but by 1948” had served’ a- term, counting, both peace and’ war, of less than fifteen years under the terms of the act. The large majority of these men had joined when fairly young and by 1948 would mostly be in their late twenties or early thirties. In 1948, they Were faced, with the decision as to whether they would continue to serve under the: amended’ conditions introduced by the” Defence Forces Retirement Benefits A«t or would retire and seek other employment;. Many of- them1 retired because they were young: enough and could find more satisfactory employment in civilian, indus.trial or commercial life. Many who saw no’ future in tie early’ retiring ages and low pensions provided by the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act did actually leave the forces. Those who continued to serve have now, as a result of the recommendations of the Allison committee and the amending legislation to give effect to them, received substantial benefits covering increases in rates of pay, raising of the age of retirement and pensions brought up to approximately 50 per cent, to 60 per cent, of their active pay.
However, the men in the first category are my concern. They joined the forces prior to 1929-33 and had mainly carried on after the conclusion of the 1914-18 war. They were very much older than those I have referred to as the second group. In 1948, these men were in their late forties or early fifties. Their length of service varied from twenty years to 30 years. They had been too long away from civilian employment and were too old in 1948 to be absorbed, as a group, into the civilian industrial and commercial community. It will, therefore, be seen that the alternative given to these men in 1948 was really no alternative at all. They were compelled to accept service under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and to put their faith in the legislators in this place to regularize the position at some later date. If they reached their age of retirement prior to 1959, they were not covered by any resettlement scheme. Personnel who retired after 1959 are covered by such a scheme. A few of these men were fortunate enough when they retired to obtain civilian employment, but as a group they were not very attractive to civilian employers. It will be seen that the large majority of them have lost many thousands of pounds by their compulsory early retirement, because they have lost the higher range of their career salaries and the increased pension they would have received if they had been allowed to continue the term of their original contract and retire at 60 years, as was provided under the Superannuation Act.
It appears ironic to me that the personnel of the permanent forces in the category that I have mentioned - from whose plight undoubtedly arose a good deal of pressure which decided the Government to constitute the Allison committee to investigate these matters - should be left out in the cold whilst the amendments introduced by the Government subsequent to the committee’s report have mainly dealt with personnel whose age and category have enabled them to continue their service.
The fact that similar legislation to that now before the House has not been previously introduced to compensate those already wronged by enforced early retirement to which I have referred is, to my mind, a definite inconsistency. As the Government now expresses its acceptance of the principle that a wrong is done when men are prevented from completing their contractual service by reason of changes in Government policy - which fact, as I have said, is expressed in the present bill - that principle demands that those men should be similarly compensated on a basis to be determined either by widening the terms of reference of the Allison committee or by constituting some fresh independent authority. We must remember that, on one hand, those who were young enough to avoid early retirement due to age until after 1959 will obtain materially increased benefits from the amending legislation. They will, I repeat, receive substantial increases in pay, extension of retirement ages, and increased pensions. They will have available to them, also, the benefits of post-discharge rehabilitation training. On the other hand, those who were sufficiently senior in age to be discharged between 1948 and 1949 have gone out on frugal pensions and have been denied participation in postdischarge rehabilitation training. These people have suffered, in common with other people who have served and who receive Commonwealth pensions, in that they cannot obtain temporary employment with Commonwealth departments. It is quite a natural trend for personnel who have aged in military service to be more readily absorbed into government positions than in civilian employment.
I should like to refer to two cases which demonstrate the hardship that is suffered by personnel in the categories to which I have referred. The first concerns a private in the Army who was retired at the age of 55 years on a pension of £155 a year. He was married, had three children, all of school age, and was still paying off a substantial mortgage on his home. At the age of 55 years he found it extremely difficult to obtain employment providing sufficient remuneration, together with his frugal pension, to enable him to meet his family responsibilities. The second case was that of a warrant officer in the Royal Australian Air Force who suffered - and seemingly recovered from - a war injury. He was retired fit at the age of 55 years, prior to 1959, on a pension of £15 a fortnight. He was married, but without children. Under the strain of endeavouring to finding a civilian job his health deteriorated. His condition apparently derived originally from this war injury.He was involved in considerable medical expenses before he succeeded in “having his condition accepted by the repatriation board as arising from his original war injury. These are true, factual cases.
Another factor which has caused great hardship to those personnel who were compulsorily retired prior to 1959, and were classified as medically fit, is that they have lost the medical and invalid benefits they would have received if they had been able to complete their original contractual term to 60 years of age. It is well known that the greatest changes in the human body take place between 50 and 60 years of age. If these men had been allowed to continue to serve until their sixtieth year, and their health started to decline during their service, they would have been covered by medical benefits and other benefits provided under the act. But after compulsory retirement at an earlier age, if their condition worsens they still receive only the set pension from the fund.
In many cases the deterioration in health of these personnel is aggravated by their frantic search to obtain civilian employment. In the case of persons who are retired medically unfit, under the act their medical condition is subject to reclassification, but there is no provision for the reclassification of personnel who were discharged as fit, if their health deteriorates.
I therefore appeal very strongly to the Government, and to the Minister, to investigate the anomalies to which I have referred. There are also a number of other anomalies which have arisen as the result of the introduction of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, which affect Air Force personnel particularly. I refer to the taking over of deferred pay as a condition of their acceptance of service under the provisions of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. The men in the category I have mentioned should obtain some compensation for the wrongs they have suffered, consequent upon the introduction of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act in 1948.
.- The honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) finds me on his side for once. That should indicate to him that in this particular instance he is a long way in front of most honorable members on his side of the House. I agree with the honorable member for Maribyrnong that this bill makes a significant contribution to the welfare of servicemen and gives them some sense of security in the services. The opportunity that the Government has accepted has been available, of course, many times in the past, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong pointed out.
Despite any consideration whatsoever of financial benefits which may come to a man as a result of being discharged from the services before his due time, I think that the Government should give special consideration to re-employment and rehabilitation opportunities for servicemen who are discharged either before their time or upon the completion of their normal service. I believe that in the long run those things are more important to the average man than any small financial benefit that he may gain from being retired from the services. The sum of money involved for each individual, as far as immediate payment in the form of a gratuity is concerned, is not a great amount. It is £20 for each completed year of his service. For a man who has only five years’ service, the £100 he would receive would hardly offset the sales tax rise on the car he hoped to buy when he went into retirement.
I think this legislation is a piece of administrative generosity, but as a piece of financial generosity it leaves a lot to be desired. A serviceman retiring before his time who is being asked to buy extra units, under this bill, is being treated actuarially rather than humanely. This is a factor in all superannuation funds, whether Commonwealth or State.
I should like now to refer to the question of re-employment. Employment opportunities and a special retraining programme ought .to :be available .to people .who retire from the services. .When a serviceman joins up, obviously be is prepared :to make some sacrifices, but. also J . believe, ;he looks forward .to a certain amount .of -security. His engagement lis either for a particular term or for his lifetime, and the changes in government policy which -smash these hopes are -sometimes -necessary and sometimes a little capricious. 1 realize it would not be appropriate to discuss changes ,in Government policy at this stage, but surely .it ought to be part of the defence policy that people who choose to serve in the forces shall have a firmly “based expectation df security in their employment, as .it were, or be able to rely upon Government activity to protect their future. ‘Every one of those servicemen who is retired has a special claim upon the employment services and the rehabilitation services of the community. ‘One of the things that was accepted so magnificently, I believe, as a ‘result tff (the. war-time activities of the Curtin and ;later the -Chifley Labour Governments was ‘the - rehabilitation service. Another was the ‘Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. These were offered to not hundreds, but hundreds of .thousands of servicemen and servicewomen who served in,the’ last,war
I regard this requirement as having first priority. It ought to be the first charge upon the Government and the first consideration in its attitude to this matter. I again join with the ‘ honorable member for Maribyrnong in the request - in fact, from the point of view of humanity, the demand - that more consideration be given to those people who had been discharged previously and who must be suffering from a feeling of injustice either because they did not get what they thought they were entitled to or because in fact they received very short change indeed. I believe that this calls for the creation of a special committee to investigate .the position and examine each case. ‘I. do not know how many people are involved, but: it is important to the recruiting of the Services that a person should be able to rely .absolutely upon the conditions of work under which he is engaged. One of those conditions, of course, is the term of his engagement.
I appeal to the Minister to’do those two things. J appeal ;to .him .-to examine ,the position in .whatever way he .can and do something not only for Army personnel but ,me .members .of all .the Services. Not .only .the Army is responsible for this position. ‘Indeed, ‘I think -the Treasurer and the Treasury .are .the villains of the piece when.it comes to handing out what we call just dues to servicemen and servicewomen, or ito anybody else in the community. .It would be a significant advance in the working .conditions of servicemen and servicewomen if they knew that if .there were changes in defence policy or some requirement -of national service that would return them to industry they would be looked after, and would not suffer an injustice. Our repatriation system ought to be able to provide for them. It was remarked to me sometime ago by a person interested in adult education that in these days no man can rely upon the training he received in his youth to -maintain him all his working life, and although that comment applies to every individual in the community, this special group does need sympathetic treatment.
The. other matter, to which I should like to direct attention is the amount of reliance placed on the actuary. An actuary is a man of. figures. We, of course, are dealing with human beings. The Commonwealth Actuary will .calculate what the special contributions by ..a person should be and what payment should be enjoyed by that personI believe .that this provision requiring a person to make extra contributions is a trifle ungenerous. I also believe that this is not .an actuarial matter. Actuaries have the specific task of seeing that a fund gets value for its money,, that it is protected, but governments, parliaments and employers have an obligation to see that people get humane treatment . and enjoy security. I consider that the superannuation funds in this country are actually over-secured, to coin a phrase derived from the. term “ overemployment “, which the Government is so fond of using. Actuarily, there is no danger to any fund. They are all particularly buoyant and it ought to be possible, where individuals are concerned, and especially where only a small number would be concerned, to be much more generous than is proposed here.
I recall that when the original bill was before the House some eighteen months ago–and I regret that on that occasion very little opportunity was given to us to discuss it - some of its provisions struck me as being mean in the extreme. 1 refer in particular to the pensions paid to children deprived of both their parents, the payments to widows and the non-admission to pension of the woman who became the widow of a serviceman who entered this fund after the proclamation of the act. The honorable member for Maribyrnong mentioned the case of people who became ill or incapacitated after completion of their term of service.
As was pointed out recently in connexion with the bill relating to the Post and Telegraph Rates (Defence Forces) Act, members of the forces are in a special group in the community. We cannot expect to apply to them tight standards with respect to remuneration, hours and conditions of work, and so on as we apply to the rest of the community, and I am sure that the rest of the community is prepared to foot the bill. We do not want anybody to suffer from a sense of injustice.
I suggest, too, that something more ought to be done about special housing arrangements for people who are discharged from the services before the expiration of their term. The war service homes scheme is the best scheme in Australia - although it is inadequate at some points - and it ought to be widened and made available to people, discharged from the services in these circumstances. We all know that at present the Minister is active on the recruiting side. He has to do something to allay the concern of people about their security. The bill before us does something in that direction, but, as a general rule, the servicemen and servicewomen have had to pay the penalty for changes of government policy in the past. While offering no opposition to the bill, we on this side would like to offer that good advice to the Minister.
.- I support the plea made by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) for the class of servicemen that he has described so well. I also support the bill and appreciate the work that has gone into it, especially that done by the Allison committee. I pay my tribute to that committee for its work and for the. benefit which will flow from this, bill as a. result of that work.
But I should like to refer to an anomaly. 1 refer to the fact that in this bill we are still not making any provision for any form of retirement benefits to those people who serve in the Regular Army Special Reserve B. This Special Reserve B was formed at the conclusion of World War II. to provide means whereby a person with particular qualifications could be enlisted for full-time duty for the duration of a special task. His services could be terminated at his own will, or at the will of the Army. As we know, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act provides for the payment of a pension to most of the regular personnel and for the payment of a gratuity to a soldier whose service is insufficient to qualify him for that pension. The bill before us covers cases in which a combination of pension and gratuity may be paid.
I have made investigations in connexion with the personnel who serve in the Regular Army Special Reserve B and I find there are very few in it. Unfortunately, I am unable to tell the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) through you, Mr. Speaker, how many there would be in Australia, but when I say that I do not think there would be more than six in New South Wales it should be some indication that not many are affected. I have already directed the attention of the Minister for Defence (Mr Townley) to one particular case. The Minister has investigated the matter and given it very sympathetic consideration, but finds that he is unable to do anything for this man because he is not covered by any provision contained in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act.
Let me give briefly an example of the anomalous position in which these people can be placed. One man I have in mind has a total of 34 years’ service. He served first in the British Army and then for twenty years in the Australian Army. After the conclusion of World War II., he elected to serve on, and he served in the Special Reserve B for fourteen years. The time came for his retirement, but owing to the fact that there was no suitable person to take on the task, he was engaged for a further two years. He was then retired on medical grounds and found that he had been enlisted on the special reserve and would not be entitled to any form of pension or gratuity. Another interesting point which I think I should mention to the Minister is that although this person has now been retired from the Army he is still serving in the same capacity as a civilian because no one with suitable qualifications has been found to take his place. I give that as one example. I emphasize that not many people would be affected by this legislation, but as we are making the necessary arrangements to give some form of comfort and financial stability to the personnel who have served in our forces, I think those who served in the Regular Army Special Reserve also deserve consideration.
– I appreciate very much indeed the support of honorable members for this legislation. As has been said, the reason for these unfortunate retirements is the re-organization of the Army into the new pentropic formations, which has the effect of making larger battalions, increasing the field forces and reducing the numerical strength of commands and administration. We have laid down a limit of 21,000 men in the Regular Army and 30,000, in two years, in the Citizen Military Forces. Of course, a major factor associated with this is the cancellation of national service training. That, together with the general re-organization and the effect on commands has had the effect of creating a redundancy of a number of men.
The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked what number of men was affected. The number was announced in the original statement on the matter by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). The number is approximately 1,600 men, but each case has to be carefully considered. Those affected are mostly warrant officers and non-commissioned officers, and a great number of them have been instructors in the national service training scheme or have been employed in the maintenance of national service training. As can well be imagined. with the great numbers of people that we had in the national service training scheme, this has an effect on the ordnance stores, where a considerable number of people were employed and, indeed, in the commands and in administration. Those who unfortunately are being discharged are men who are not suitable to take their places in the field forces. We would gladly retain any man who was capable of being allotted. The age factor and, in a number of cases, medical classification, determine discharge. They are very good men and are well trained and well disciplined. If I may put in this plug at this stage, employers all over Australia who are looking for good men could not get better men than these, and I am sure that they will be grabbed up by employers throughout Australia, because they are fully trained and reliable people. There is no doubt that for the purposes of industry, whilst not being suitable for a field force, they are very good men indeed, and I anticipate no difficulty in their absorption into the community.
In reply to a number of speakers, I point out that the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act of 1959 was the result of a very special inquiry, over a considerable period, under the chairmanship of Sir John Allison. The pay and conditions arrived at in that legislation were indeed very fair and reasonable. That legislation, in fact, provided for the normal retirement of servicemen in relation to the needs of the services. The question of contract was mentioned at length by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes). In every case the conditions of the contract, for whatever period it may be, provide that it can be terminated having regard to the needs of the services. All servicemen know that that condition is part of the contract.
The Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act of 1959 made provision especially for this condition, but the Government feels that this reorganization is in an entirely different category. Such re-organizations take place in every military service from time to time. This change of policy has brought about the redundancy of a considerable number of people, and the Government wants to be fair and reasonable in its treatment of the men affected. The honorable member for Bass mentioned the number of men affected as 1,600, and spoke about examples being given. It may be of interest to the House if I give a few examples.
First of all, I will take the soldier in the up to six years group. In most cases he would be younger than the others - a soldier who has been in the service for five years. Under the existing benefit he would receive a refund of his contribution, £75. Under this scheme he will receive £20 for each of his five years’ service or an additional £100, bringing the total to £175. In the group from six to fifteen years, under the existing benefits, if he has served only seven years, he will receive a refund of contribution of £110 and a gratuity of £170 and, in addition, the sum of £289, which represents two months’ pay. Thus he will receive a total of £569. I do not think that can be said to be unreasonable. In the group from fifteen to twenty years - this is a very special case, because, as honorable members may know, a soldier is not entitled to a pension until he has served for twenty years, although he receives furlough after fifteen years’ service - the Government thought it might reasonably be supposed that he intended to carry on his service to achieve pension conditions, and therefore it has provided this special rate of abated pension in that category. For example, a warrant officer II., after eighteen years’ service, under the existing benefit would receive a refund of his contribution of approximately £410, and a gratuity of about £500, giving him a total cash payment of about £910. In addition to that, he would receive about £650, the value of his furlough. Under the new scheme he will receive the £650 out of which he will pay about £400 towards making up his deficiency in contributions, and then he will receive a pension of £396 a year. I think that is very reasonable. A permanent pension of £396 a year is a pretty good thing for a man who is not old.
In the last category covering those soldiers who have served for twenty years, where a soldier is entitled to a pension and where retirement interferes with his term of contract, the Government provides that he can obtain a pension at the time when he would have retired under the terms of his contract, paying for it out of his furlough. Take for instance the soldier who has 22 years’ service, but has an engagement contract for 25 years. At present he is entitled on retirement to a pension of £464 a year and a payment in lieu of furlough of £824. Under the new scheme he will pay out of that furlough payment about £550 and will receive a pension of £515 a year. That also is a pretty good proposi tion when you consider that these men are barely middle aged. The pension is quite substantial. All in all, it can be said that the Government has considered this matter fairly and has compensated these men, realizing that the compulsory retirement is an interruption to the service that they intended to give.
The honorable member for Maribyrnong and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) referred to certain conditions which do not apply under this act, so I do not propose to enter into a debate on those matters. We are discussing a specific measure and while, no doubt, there may be other matters that merit discussion, they are not pertinent to this measure which deals exclusively with the retirement of these 1,600 soldiers.
– It is to be read and construed as one with the original act; and anyway, the principle is the same.
– I do not think that applies. The honorable member for Wills raised the question of re-employment. He may be interested to know that all these soldiers, irrespective of their length of service, are eligible for consideration under the provisions of the services re-settlement scheme. Even a man who has served for only three or four years will come within the scope of the scheme. I have no doubt that these men will be well placed in industry. This applies only to Regular Army personnel. It does not apply to the special reserve which was mentioned by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) because the contracts of members of the special reserve are for only three years, and they are classified as temporary employees, so to speak. Very few are affected, and they were considered by the Allison committee which felt that the need did not exist to deal with them in any special way.
I regret that these men have had to be retired, but the Government has had to take this action to give us a better Army. I think that every one, including the soldiers themselves, will appreciate that. I must say a word of thanks to the men who, knowing that this re-organization is going on, have rendered, and are continuing to render, such splendid and loyal service to the Army.
The honorable member for Bass raised a question relating to the three months and nine months periods. The House may be interested to know that these periods were selected to give us time to deal with each case which must be considered carefully. I, as the Minister, have to approve each individual case. There is no question of anything going wrong in relation to that. As the first group will be dealt with within three months of the proclamation of the act, and members of the Ordnance Corps within nine months of the proclamation of the act, no man will be affected before Christmas. There will be no discharges before then. The scheme will operate gradually.
The Government has tried to be fair about this matter. Indeed, it has shown that it has considered the interest’s of the soldiers who’ are affected by this reorganization.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Iti committee (Consideration of Governor.General’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Cramer) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be- made for the purposes’ of a bill for an act to provide special retirement’ benefits for certain members of the Australian Regular Army.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
.- I should like the Minister’ to clear up one point for me. The bill- Covers’ members who are compulsorily retired in accordance with the Army reorganization programme. Does it apply to a member who sought reengagement at the expiration of his term but was refused’ permission to re-engage? I refer particularly to a man who’ has served for between fifteen and twenty years.
– No. A certificate has to be given to the effect that a soldier is affected by the reorganization. However, I shall discuss this matter privately with the honorable member to ascertain whether he has any particular ease in mind.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave-read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 2988), on motion by Mr. Adermann’ -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.–This is a very small measure which is, in effect, df a purely machinery character. Its purpose is to amend the principal act to deal with the fact that wool producers’ organizations have merged under’ a new name, which will have to be inserted in the statute.- Formerly, recognition was given to the Australian Woolgrowers Council iti a number of statutes, including the Wool Use Promotion Act and income tax legislation. A- new position arises as a result of the’ decision of the Australian Woolgrowers Council arid the” Graziers Federal Council to amalgamate under the name of Australian” Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. To achieve legality, the latter name must be’ inserted iri the statute’s. The Opposition in no way objects to the proposal.
There is- also provision in the measure, because of the alteration in the set-up of the Commonwealth banking system, for the substitution of the words “ Reserve Bank of Australia “ for the words “ Commonwealth Bank of Australia “’. Iri addition’, the Australian Wool Bureau is to be permitted to maintain an account and place moneys on fixed deposit, riot only with the Reserve Bank but also with any other bank approved by the Treasurer. I understand that at present the Australian Wool Bureau and similar organizations bank with the Reserve Bank”. I am a little suspicious of the provision to permit the Treasurer to approve of transactions with any other bank, although I do not think that he is likely” to drift seriously. The provision is rather questionable. I think it should be mandatory for such organizations to’ bank with the people’s bank
– The provision is in other acts.
– -Yes, it is in other acts. At times and in certain circumstances it may be’ necessary for these* organization’s to avail themselves of the facilities offered by” private banks-, much as: I personally would- dislike them to- do so*.
The measure offers an excellent opportunity to say something about wool promotion, which essentially affects wool marketing. If there is no satisfactory wool promotion there will be no satisfactory wool marketing. Unfortunately, it is true that in the last couple of years all of the emphasis in relation to Australia’s great wool clip has been placed with terrific force upon wool use promotion. 1 do not dispute the necessity for wool use promotion. As a matter of fact, as a Minister some years ago I made provision in special acts for governmental contributions towards wool use promotion. This Government has followed that ;good example and it makes contributions for that purpose. The fact that legislation of an economic character is to come before the House shortly highlights the unfortunate truth that all of the emphasis recently, in legislation relating to wool, has been placed on wool use promotion. Whilst that emphasis is justified, greater emphasis and publicity should be given to the need for satisfactory wool marketing organizations. After all, is it essential to emphasize promotion of the sale of a product when the producer or manufacturer is in the very happy position that he is able without any real difficulty to find buyers for his output? We are marketing every ounce of wool that we produce. That has been the position during the post-war period of fifteen years. There has been no trouble whatever about it.
– But competition from synthetics has been intensive.
– T was going to qualify my remarks by saying that if we did not, by wool use promotion, emphasize the value and suitability of our product for certain purposes we might find ourselves in due course in the position of being unable to clear all of our annual production. Great emphasis must be placed on the fact that we do clear all the wool we produce. Nobody will challenge that. I have gone to the trouble recently of consulting Wool Statistical Services and obtaining the figures relating to the period from 1948 to 1960. The astonishing position is that all the clamour for wool use promotion is, to my mind, used deliberately by some people to obscure the essentiality of satisfactory planning and organization of marketing. I emphasize that I believe in promotion, but why does the press periodically - weekly, and sometimes almost daily - stress the need for wool use promotion and for advertising our wonderful Australian wool, but print devil a word about- the fact that large sections of primary producers are urging the country to do something more satisfactory in the way of providing efficient marketing organizations for this great product? With the concurrence of honorable members I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following figures relating to Australian wool: -
That table shows an astonishing position. For instance, on 30th June, 1948, 36,598 bales were carried over. This was enough for only one week’s sale in any selling centre in the Commonwealth. The average carry-over for those thirteen years was 75,842 bales, which would be sufficient only for the next wool sale in Australia. So, in reality, you have not a solitary pound of wool on the floors at the end of a wool-selling season, yet the emphasis is placed on wool sales promotion instead of upon efficient marketing so as to get the full value for our great product. Does it appear that the demand for wool is diminishing? Somebody will say, “ Yes; in the last three years that you have cited the surplus stocks on the floors rose from 108,000 bales to 178,000 bales. That indicates a drift.” Mr. Speaker, it does not do anything of the sort. The plain fact is that we had a carry-over of 178,000 bales last season because of an alteration in the selling calendar. It was decided by the authorities who make the arrangements for the marketing of wool to continue sales throughout the year, so it was necessary to hold back, in order to open the initial sales, a quantity estimated to be approximately 80,000 bales.
Primary producers throughout the western district of Victoria and in Western Australia, where they are more progressive, are on the march. Do they get any publicity in the press for the emphasis they are placing on the need for a more efficient marketing organization? No! They get half an inch in the newspapers now and again on that subject, but great publicity is given to the need for wool use promotion. A meeting of the Australian Primary Producers Union was held in Melbourne the other day and what happened in relation to that meeting shows either the inability of the organization .to place in the hands of the press at least an outline of the discussion that took place or a desire on the part of somebody to hold back from the press the news that a vitally important problem was dealt with at the meeting. I refer to the problem of finding a better system for the marketing of wool. What did the daily press report?
– There is nothing in the bill about marketing.
– Promotion is wrapped up with marketing. What did we get in the press about that meeting? There was a report of some remarks made by Mrs. Gladys Cooper on the need for wool promotion, whereas the discussion centred around wool marketing and what should be done about it. What does the Government do? Nothing. What does the press do? It does just as little. Very little has been done, but at last this Government has yielded to a little pressure from the woolgrowers’ organizations. Country Party members say, “ No “. Hitherto they have been as dumb on this problem as dumb, driven cattle.
What has the Government determined to do? It has decided that it will appoint a committee of inquiry. It has not yet selected the personnel. Time goes on. Severe economic measures have been introduced by the Government, but if it took drastic, prompt and efficient measures to deal with this problem of wool marketing it could probably show in the next Budget that it had been able to extract from the woolbuyers of the world another £100,000,000 to £150,000,000. What will happen with this wool inquiry? First, the Government will cast its net round, looking for suitable personnel. It will be very difficult to find unbiased and unprejudiced people. It will be very difficult to get persons to act on the committee who, in some cases at least, are not activated by unconscious prejudices regarding marketing. Supporters of the Country Party are interjecting noisily, but we will see. No doubt some excellent men will be forthcoming, but what will be the result after the committee is appointed?
If the committee of inquiry into the dairying industry is any criterion, this new committee will be playing about, perambulating about the country and taking evidence from everybody who wants to give it. In fifteen or eighteen months it will present a report, and that report will receive from the Government as scant attention as the report on the dairy industry received. This is ironical. If you take the dairying inquiry as a criterion, you will find that after the committee inquiring into wool marketing has been perambulating around for eighteen months its report will reveal just what the report on the dairying industry revealed - facts and information that the Government itself could have collected and collated in a month or six weeks through its skilled executive officers, assisted by somebody from outside if you like.
What are the facts? There still exist in Australia, in the flesh, a great number of the persons who were responsible for the efficient operation and organization of the Joint Organization wool marketing scheme. The Government has available to it the wonderfully efficient Bureau of Agricultural Economics, which could produce within a reasonable time, and in condensed form, all the knowledge of the last decade, or, for that matter, all the knowledge of the last 40 years on the marketing and the sale of wool. A great deal of knowledge is available in the archives and among the personnel of the Australian Wool Bureau. By utilizing its skilled executives, the Government could produce and hand on a platter to the wool-growers’ organizations an embryonic plan. The wool-growers could express an opinion on that plan and make suggestions for amendments. Something could be put into operation within the next six months. However, the Government will not do that. There is a cunning obscuring by some people of the need for an efficient marketing plan and emphasis is being laid on wool use promotion. The Australian Country Party in the corner is half dead. The price of its silence is membership of the present Government.
– Order! The honorable gentleman should relate his remarks to the bill. The purpose of the bill is to make two amendments of the principal act, one relating, to banking and one to give statutory recognition to the new organization known as the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council,
– That is right, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to wander away from the bill. What I was about to say was that in 1951 the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was awake to the need for wool use promotion, and he did several things. He was responsible for the amendment of the Wool Use Promotion Act and simultaneously he was responsible for legislation to introduce a wool marketing plan. This legislation was part and parcel of the promotion activities of the Government.
– Are you praising him?
– 1 did more than praise him then; I supported the initial legislation and so also did the Australian Labour Party. He brought down a bill, which demonstrated that he had within the archives of the department all the essential information and material. He went further, and sent officers to Great Britain to get an agreement from the International Wool Secretariat. How different is the situation to-day. He approved of officers going to Great Britain to have talks with the International Wool Secretariat, but exclusively about wool use promotion. Wool marketing was not mentioned at that meeting of the secretariat, because the Government has no genuine desire to do anything about marketing. If it had such desires it would take action as it did in 1950 or 1951. It would have had representatives in London and in South Africa and New Zealand long ago, pushing on with wool marketing.
However, there has been a change. So firmly imbedded are members of the Australian Country Party in the present Government that everybody is placidly accepting the idea of a time-wasting inquiry which will bring nothing new forward. In the meantime, as the situation exists to-day, our London funds could seep away to the extent of another £150,000,000 or £200,000,000. Honorable members can talk about synthetics until they are blue in the face, but the fact remains that lasyear wool prices were lOd. per lb. better than the year before, and still we sold our wool. Was there any encouragement for increased consumption of synthetics last year because wool was lOd. per lb. dearer? Of course not. We could stand a rise of another ls. per lb. in wool and it would not affect the competition from synthetics. The world is hungry for wool. We should indicate to world consumers of wool that we will do what manufacturers of farm machinery in other parts of the world do. Overseas countries do not sell their products under the auction system or allow them to be subject to the whims of the operators of pies and to lot-splitting. They fix the prices for their products. They call the tune, because they know they have an exclusive market. That applies particularly to the chemicals which are imported from the other side of the world.
The unfortunate wool-growers of Australia are in the position that the price for their wool, of the same quality from place to place, from week to week and from year to year, is subject to the desires and devices of the people who operate an organized marketing ring against the interests of the wool-growers. What did those people do when they were found out? They issued a statement shortly afterwards. The woolbuyers got “ windy “. They said, “ We have a new regulation. We have entered into a contract with the New South Wales Government and the wool-broking houses, that we will abandon those wicked devices.” This Government has given its blessing to the operation of a wool futures market. Within two or three weeks, every member of the pies that had been operating was a member of the wool futures organization.
The wool-growers are now becoming a little apprehensive about the operations of the wool futures market. At a meeting recently - I have a graziers’ newspaper which reported the matter-
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I have been examining the bill and have been trying to find in it a reference to wool pies. Could you tell me where that is to be found?
– I think that the honorable member for Lalor is drifting a little away from the bill. One of the purposes of the measure relates to the banking arrangements of the Australian Wool Bureau, consequent on the change of name of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia to the Reserve Bank of Australia. If the honorable member wants to pursue the line that he has been taking, and at the same time comply with the Standing Orders, he should perhaps move an amendment.
– With due respect, Mr. Speaker - I know that you are both very kind and very just - the purpose of the bill is to amend the Wool Use Promotion Act 1953-1957. Amongst other things, it deals with the Australian Wool Bureau and the participation of growers in various organizations. It deals with banking, too.
– Order! I ask the honorable gentleman to relate his remarks to the bill.
– I shall leave the subject of pies. The bill greatly concerns wool promotion. I say that you can spend as much as you like on promotion, but if the pies are operating, or if the wool futures market is being juggled, all the sales promotion in the world will be futile. This is what we find when we refer to the primary producers’ newspaper to which I have referred, under the heading “ Government Watch on Futures Sought”-
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is there any reference in the bill to wool futures? Has that subject any relevance to the matter before the House?
– I suggest that the honorable member for Lalor should make only a passing reference to pies, and then return to the bill.
– Speaking of wool promotion, the newspaper report to which I have referred stated -
A member of the Wool Marketing Committee, Mr. Bremner, told the meeting that he believed that they-
Certain operations associated with the wool industry, the nature of which I shall leave to the imagination of honorable members - were detrimental to the Australian wool industry.
I advise honorable members to read the article in “ Muster “ for themselves.
Somebody said that the organization that I have mentioned was being used for a hedging operation. Yet, this is the organization to which the Government has given its blessing! I say that it is a big racket to provide a gambling facility for the people who operate between the wool-grower and the consumer.
– They did not sponsor it in any way.
– You said you had no objection to it. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was asked about it.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I point out to the House that I have had another look at this bill and find that it is a very minor measure. The matters that may be discussed in relation to it are the date of operation, the change of name of the organization concerned, and the investment of money.
– Mr. Speaker, does your ruling mean that nothing that has been referred to already in this debate may be referred to now?
– Some slight relaxation may be made in respect of one more speaker.
– Before the suspension of the sitting we heard the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) speaking on this bill. As you have have said, Mr. Speaker, it is a very small bill to amend the Wool Use Promotion Act 1953-1957. It is designed to change and amalgamate the names of organizations that are sponsoring certain propositions put before the Federal Parliament through the Minister for Primary Production (Mr. Adermann). Of course, the bill has the full support of honorable members on both sides of the House. I have not heard any opposition to it. I did not hear the honorable member for Lalor oppose anything in the bill. However, he made one or two salient remarks to which I think I may refer in passing. He said that the Government was very interested in wool promotion but had neglected satisfactory wool marketing. It is not possible to have satisfactory wool marketing without wool promotion.
– I entirely agree.
– The honorable member for Lalor now agrees. But if honorable members who were not here just before the suspension of the sitting will read the report of his speech very closely in “ Hansard “ they will find that he said that the Government was fostering wool promotion and neglecting satisfactory wool marketing. The two go hand in hand. The greatest thing that the wool industry in Australia could have is a buoyant demand. A buoyant demand results in the satisfactory marketing of wool at a good price.
Of course, the honorable member for Lalor was referring to things that are quite different from that. He knows that there has been advocacy of certain forms of wool marketing and, of course, he used this bill to put his point of view in that respect, as far as he could, before this Parliament. In passing, I want to make one remark regarding the great advocacy that has been made throughout Australia of a reserve price for wool within the auction system. If 1 said to a man, “ Do you favour a reserve price plan within the auction system?” or if I said to him, “ Do you want to buy a motor car? There is one down the street for £300 “, what would he say to me? The first thing he would say would be, “ Let me have a look at it “. If the honorable member for Lalor were to ask a producer, “ Do you approve of a reserve price within the auction system?” the producer would reply, “ Let me have a look at the plan “. How can one agree with a wool marketing plan, whether it be a reserve price plan or anything else, unless one has seen the plan? So far as I know, no plan has been put forward by any organization to the Government.
– Why does not the Government have a plan?
– I have said in this House previously that if a plan, of which the growers approve at a ballot, is put forward I will give it my best support in this House. The honorable member for Lalor asked, “ Why does not the Government have a plan?” The difference between the Australian Labour Party and Government supporters is that we believe that the product belongs to the men who produce it, whereas Labour believes that it belongs to the general community.
The honorable member for Lalor spoke for about half an hour. I can answer him in three minutes effectively. The honorable member gives his case away when he attacks the people of whom he is most afraid as political opponents - the members of the Australian Country Party. He always attacks them because he is afraid of them. He knows the extent of their knowledge. However, I pay him this compliment: He is the only man in the Labour Party, with the exception perhaps of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who has any knowledge at all of the primary industries of this country. If the honorable member for Lalor retired and went to live in the old country, or was otherwise lost to the Labour Party, that party would be completely deprived of advocacy in this House with respect to agricultural or pastoral industries.
I think I am right in saying, in passing, that the honorable member for Lalor referred to the setting up of a committee to inquire into the wool industry. He prejudged the people who will be on that committee before they have been appointed. He said that undoubtedly some most unsuitable and prejudiced men will be appointed to the committee. I should like to know whether there is anything more unfair than for an honorable member to cast suspicion on the Government’s intention to implement the requirements of the wool-growers’ representatives in an honest fashion and to condemn members of a committee before they are appointed. We know, on this side of the House, that the honorable member for Lalor will attack the committee as soon as it is set up. But why does he prejudge it? Why does he not give the committee a chance to settle down? Why does he not look at the actual personnel before he makes a judgment? All the great legal men throughout this country would say that there is nothing worse than prejudging a case. That is particularly so in this case because the appointees to this committee may have much to do with the future progress of Australia through its greatest asset, the wool industry.
I took a few notes of what the honorable member for Lalor sard. He said there had always been an almost complete clearance of wool at wool sales, that only a few bales were held over each year. He said, in effect, “ If there is a clearance of wool, why not have a clearance at a high price instead of at a medium or a low price? “ He gave an illustration of his lack of knowledge of the auction system. Whether he was advocating the termination of the uction system, I do not know. The point is that one can go to any auction sale - to Newmarket in Melbourne, of which I have a special knowledge, to wool sales or sheep sales or bullock sales - and one will find that, generally speaking, everything is sold. It is very seldom that there is anything left over. Sometimes stock are sold at a higher price per 100 lb. or per beast than at other times, but there is nearly always a complete sale at every market. There may be a weak demand; but there is always a clearance. This applies to wool. There might be a clearance of wool in one year at a higher price than in another year. Whether you have a reserve price within the auction system or not, the best thing in the long run to ensure a good price is a buoyant demand. The honorable member for Lalor did not emphasize the fact that promotion is the very basis of the successful marketing of wool in Australia or of any of our products throughout the world.
This Government has been vigilant. The Minister for Primary Industry has supported enthusiastically campaigns to encourage the use of wool. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), too, has arranged exhibitions at fairs all over the world to promote the use of this great fibre. I speak of these matters only in passing, because this is a small bill. The honorable member for Lalor, of course, tried to make a big issue of it. I took notes of his remarks and I must say that the case he attempted to make out was very weak. This afternoon he exhibited his lack of knowledge of the industry.
– As an auctioneer, your line is, “ How much am I offered?”
– Well, I could buy and sell some of you fellows. It is strange that although I have not practised as an auctioneer since before the last war, honorable members opposite still hark back to my previous occupation. On the other hand Labour members who were union organizers usually try to shed their mantle as soon as they are elected to the Parliament. To be quite serious, I say that this is a matter in relation to which the Opposition and the Government should work together for the good of Australia. Every one knows that the state of the wool industry is the most important factor in the stability of our economy. The honorable member for Lalor referred to the dairy subsidy of £13,500,000 a year and to the wheat stabilization scheme, which the wheat-growers have financed so far but which the Government will have to support before very long. These schemes, I believe, are financed primarily from the proceeds of our wool sales. Approximately 98 per cent, of our wool is sold at auction in Australia. In writing an article entitled, “ The Week at Canberra “ for the newspapers in my electorate, I secured this figure from the portion of the “ Year Book “ that has just been published on primary production. I can see, Mr. Speaker, that you are becoming a little uneasy about the relevance of my comments.
– The honorable member should get back to the subject-matter of the bill.
– Perhaps I have been getting a little too far away from the provisions of the bill. When the proposed committee of inquiry is appointed, I hope - indeed, I am sure - that it will make a survey of the finest details of the wool industry. If the committee finds that a certain line of action is necessary - for instance, the adoption of a reserve price within the auction system - and if that form of action is supported by the vote of a majority of wool-growers, they can depend upon my raising my voice in advocacy c. the implementation of the approved scheme.
.- I am prompted to rise to address myself to this bill, which the Opposition supports, by statements made by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), during this debate and on previous occasions, in which he has cast grave reflections on the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). The honorable member for Mallee stated that the honorable member for Lalor was the only member on this side of the Parliament who- knew much about wool or primary production generally. I say this: The honorable member for Lalor knows more than any other honorable member about primary production. But there are other honorable members on this side of the House who have a wide interest in. the welfare of the primary producers and who have an. intimate knowledge of- their activities. I should not have to remind the honorable member that I was born and reared at a little place called Currabubula. I. lived and went to school in that area at a time when,, under Liberal-Country Party governments, the maximum price of wool was lOd. a lb.. In addition, in those days I saw wool-growers forced off their land because the governments of the- day, which, as I have said, were Liberal-Country Party governments under one name or another, were not prepared to introduce legislation to gi.ve- effect to policies designed to protect the primary producer.
The honorable member for Mallee says that he represents the primary producer. He was an auctioneer but probably the only thing he ever sold was a farm at less than its real value. The honorable member is a. classic example, of members of the^Country Party who, when- they, are in. country areas, speak as country- men but who,, when they are in Parliament, vote for the big- city interests and tag along at the tail of a city government which represents city interests. I believe that I should take up- the cudgels on behalf of honorable members on this side of the- House. Whatever honorable members opposite may say about the Labour Party when primary production is being discussed, I point out that only Labour has introduced legislation -which has brought any measure of prosperity to the primary producers. Half of the members of the Ministry in the New South; Wales Government* represent country constituencies.. The- primary producers, particularly the wool-growers, know thatonly ai La-bour government; led by- Mr.
Chifley, ever provided for them the markets and the returns to- which they are entitled.
I do not want, to digress and run through the occupations of members of the Country Party, but I doubt whether one of them owns a farm or has ever been a practical wool-grower. One of the humorous aspects of the Country Party is that it has in its ranks everybody but primary producers. In its ranks are to be found an auctioneer, a radio announcer, a motor mechanic - and not a good one - a solicitor, and a. doctor. Until recently the party was led by an accountant! They are the people who say that the Labour Party does not represent rural interests. Time does not permit me to name those members of the Labour Party who- represent country areas. The truth is that members of the Country Party do not really represent the woolgrowers, and they have very little knowledge of or connexion with the wool industry. Therefore, they have no right to criticize the honorable member for Lalor.
– I rise to- a point of order. During this- debate, Mr. Speaker, you extended a certain amount of leniency to the honorable member for Mallee because you had unwittingly extended- leniency to the honorable member for Lalor. Are you adopting the same attitude to the honorable member for Grayndler?
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler was not in the chamber when I directed the attention of the House to the fact that this is a minor bill. It does not provide scope for a debate on the merits of the Australian Country Party. The honorable member may refer only to the change of name of the organizations concerned, and to the right of the new organization to deposit money in a certain bank.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, and congratulate you upon it. I think, though, that I should be allowed to make passing reference to the comments of the honorable member for Mallee.
-Order! The honorable member would not be in order in doing that. I ask- him to confine his remarks to the subject-matter of the bill” and so- assist the Chair to ensure that the procedures of the House are carried- out effectively.
– I shall do so, Mr. Speaker. Let me just say that a severe and unwarranted attack was made upon the honorable member for Lalor by the honorable member for Mallee, who said that the honorable member for Lalor was the only person on this side of the chamber-
– Order ! The honorable member should not pursue that matter.
– Well, the honorable member for Mallee insinuated that no honorable member on this side of the Parliament knew anything about wool.
– I was just making a passing reference to that fact; I do not wish to pursue the argument. But I thought I should remind the honorable member for Mallee that he was an auctioneer, and that I should reply to his comments. I have not any particular criticism of the bill to offer. Members of the Country Party are laughing. They are good at that, but not very good at anything else. They were not laughing when I mentioned their occupations.
– There is one other matter, Mr. Speaker, that I want to mention in passing. The New South Wales Labour Government recently had to introduce legislation to ensure that the wool-growers will get the return to which they are entitled: This Government, including representatives of the Country Party, sat idly by while the wool-growers were exploited, while their prices were forced down, and while pies existed which denied to them a fair return for their efforts. The Country Party-
-Order! I think the honorable member should come back to the bill.
– Having said so much, Mr. Speaker, I bow to your ruling, I correct the Country Party, and I tell its members that only Labour governments have ever done anything for the wool-growers.
.- The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) at the very outset of his speech confessed that the only connexion he had with the land was that he was born at Currabu bula. He seemed to think that that wassufficient justification for his making many uncomplimentary remarks about the Country Party, of which we are so proud, and alsofor saying that there were very few members of that party who were farmers or primary producers. In fact, I think he said there was none. At the very outset I want to correct that statement. With the exception of two, all the members of the Country Party sitting in the House to-night are farmers or graziers or in some way interested’ in primary production. One of those two is the honorable member who was described’ as an auctioneer. He has not been an auctioneer during the last twenty-odd years, and during that time he served his country loyally, not only in the Army but also in a prisoner-of-war camp overseas. I feel justified in taking the strongest exception to* the statement made by the honorable member for Grayndler, and intended to be heard’ by all members of the public who are listening, that the Country Party is not represented by primary producers.
The honorable member made many otherremarks of the kind that he frequently makes in this House. One need only look up “ Hansard “ to be reminded of theseremarks, and also to read the replies that have been given to them.
– He loves making thoseremarks.
– Yes, he does. Rather than deal with them any further I would’ prefer to concentrate on matters covered by the bill. T direct attention to the speech made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in introducing the bill. Hesaid -
The main purpose of the Wool Use PromotionBill and the other bills that I am about to introduce is to give statutory recognition to the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council in a. number of Commonwealth acts relating to wool’ and meat matters.
The formation of the Australian Woolgrowersand Graziers Council arose from a decision of theAustralian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers; Federal Council of Australia in conference in July last to amalgamate as a single organization.
There is the meat of the matter. The legislation arises from a decision by the growers: to think with one mind and to try to speak with one voice in matters affecting their industry. The Government is particularly pleased at the move that has been made by the growers. Honorable members will recall that over the years this Government has been working in the. interests of Australia and, realizing the important part that primary producers play in securing those interests, the Government has been trying to obtain from the producers’ organizations an indication of what they think will assist their industry. The Government realizes that primary industry is vital to our very livelihood.
T iis Minister and previous Ministers h.T’n s-H repeatedly that when the growers come to the Government with a proposition having the approval of a majority of them, the Government will do all it possibly can to implement such a proposal. I ask honorable members to contrast the attitude of this Government with that of the previous Government which, for instance, introduced the wheat stabilization scheme, and then sold wheat to New Zealand at unreasonable prices. I refer to these matters only in passing, Mr. Speaker, because the farmers have not forgotten the deal they received from the previous Government. That is why they are happy to come to this Government and say: “ This is the kind of legislation we believe you should introduce. It is not only in our interests; it is also in the interests of the whole of Australia.”
We all know that the present Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) put up a strong fight to retain the auction system for the sale of wool in preference to the preemption system. At that time he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. As a result of his success in retaining the auction system wool was sold at the highest prices that Australia has ever received for it.
– Tell the story.
– The honorable member for Maranoa suggests that I tell the. story. I will tell it very simply. When buyers from a certain country came to Australia and said: “ In ten days’ time we will call a meeting of all the wool users of the world. You should be present, because we are going to talk about how we propose to acquire your wool.”
– Order! I think the honorable member is drifting away from the bill.
– Well, I will complete my remarks on that aspect by simply saying that when the present Minister for Trade heard that there was a proposal to abolish the auction system of wool-selling and to acquire our wool at a price determined on an arbitrary basis he dug his heels in, and as a consequence we. retained the auction system.
I would not have referred to this but for the fact that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that in the context of this Wool Use Promotion Bill promotion really meant marketing. At least he used words to that effect. He went so far as to say-
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order in referring to promotion and marketing. I have directed attention to the fact that the scope of the bill is very limited. I have had a look at it, and I am quite satisfied that it is limited to the matters I have already enumerated. I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks, if he can, to matters with which the bill before the House is concerned.
– I will try to do so, Mr. Speaker, but I feel sure you will be tolerant enough to allow me to refute the suggestion nf the honorable member for Lalor.
– Order! I allowed a great deal of relaxation when the last speaker from the Country Party was addressing the House, but I must ask the honorable member for Lawson to keep strictly to the bill.
– Then, accepting your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I will avoid any reference to marketing, but I think I should be allowed to say something about the use of the word “ promotion “. I have consulted the dictionary to find the exact meaning of the word.
Mi. SPEAKER. - Order! There is no reference to promotion in the bill.
– I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. This is the Wool Use Promotion Bill.
– That is only its title.
– With all respect-
-Order! The honorable member will resume his seat. I do not want to indulge in prolonged arguments with him. I have already directed attention to the matters that he may discuss, which include the date of operation of the act, the ratification of the change of name of the organization and the authority to invest money in a certain bank, the latter provision arising from the change of name of the bank. I ask the honorable member to confine himself to those matters.
– May I discuss the title of the bill?
– No. The honorable member is not in order in departing from the matters that I have enumerated.
– I would not have risen to speak on this bill to-night but for the suggestion of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) that only one member on this side of the House understood anything about primary production. The honorable member said, further, that members of the Labour Party, unlike members of the Country Party-
– What has this got to do with the bill?
– As one personally interested in this matter I feel I am entitled to reply. The honorable member for Mallee suggested that members of the Labour Party came to this House and acted contrary to the training they had received in trade union leadership. To an extent, some of the matters involved in trade union leadership are demonstrated in this bill. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) told us that the legislation results mainly from the amalgamation of the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers Federal Council of Australia. I tell the honorable member for Mallee that I am one member on this side of the House who has not departed from the beliefs and the honesty of purpose of the trade union movement. But what do we find when we consider the circumstances surrounding this legislation? We find two organizations, which previously were largely representative of working primary producers, coming together in an endeavour to force the Government to accede to their requirements in the field of primary production. It is quite right to say that, as a result of the inability of this Government during the eleven years it has been in office to face up to the requirements of primary production and to safeguard the products of primary industries, two organizations representing primary producers have amalgamated to try to force the Government to do the right thing by Australian primary producers. The Australian Country Party members of the Government have failed the people who grow wool, failed the people who produce beef and failed the people who grow wheat.
– Order! I think the honorable member is departing from the bill. In case he is not aware of it, I direct his attention to the fact that the subjectmatters available for discussion are the date of operation, the change in the name of the organization, and the authority to invest money. Because of the restricted nature of the bill, I ask honorable members to comply with, that ruling.
Speaker, in my eleven years in this Parliament I have never canvassed a Speaker’s ruling. You are looking at the bill but, with great respect, I direct your attention to what the Minister said when he made his second-reading speech.
-Order! The honorable member made a passing reference to that, but then he endeavoured to debate the question of the trade union movement. I ask the honorable member to comply with my ruling.
– I respect your ruling, Sir. I am looking at the Minister’s speech, in which he made it quite clear-
– If you stick to that speech, you will not depart from the bill.
– I agree. I shall read an extract from the Minister’s speech, not from the bill. It is as follows: -
The formation of the -Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council arose from a decision of the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers Federal Council of Australia in conference in July last to amalgamate as a single organization.
I emphasize the word “ amalgamate “. As you allowed the Minister to talk about the amalgamation of organizations, Mr. Speaker, I say, with the greatest respect to your ruling, that I am entitled to refer to the position which makes this bill necessary. The Minister has referred to it.
Let me read the following words from the next paragraph of the Minister’s speech: -
The Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers Federal Council of Australia receive specific recognition in a number of Commonwealth acts relating to wool and meat matters . . .
Surely, Mr. Speaker, wool and meat matters must relate to primary production in Australia. Surely we are now entitled to deal with what the Minister said.
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order. He should be aware that this is a very limited and very restricted bill.
Speaker, I ask for a ruling on this matter. Am I entitled to read the Minister’s speech? I know that I would not be in order in replying to the remarks of the honorable member for Mallee, much as I would like to do so. But have we reached the stage that, in speaking on a measure, a member cannot analyse the verbiage used by a Minister when introducing a bill?
– An honorable member may do that, but he cannot discuss a subject that is not relevant to the bill.
– I bow to your ruling, Sir. I agree with it. The Minister has said that the bill relates to wool and meat matters and has dealt with the question of the amalgamation of two organizations. Surely, the use of the term “ amalgamate “ in the Minister’s speech brings this debate to the level-
– Order! It does not. I have given my ruling and I ask the honorable member to comply with it. I do not want to be difficult, but I think the position is that honorable members have been allowed a little too much freedom in this debate. This bill came on somewhat unexpectedly, but I have had a good look at it and I am quite satisfied that it is a restricted measure. The debate must be kept within the limits of the bill.
– As I said, in my eleven years in this House I have never canvassed a Speaker’s ruling. I think that I have been called to order on only one occasion. I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, with the greatest deference, that as you have given this ruling now, you should have applied it to the Minister when he made his second-reading speech.
– Move a motion to disagree with the Speaker’s ruling.
– I do not do that sort of thing. I leave that to people who do not respect the Speaker of this House. If I am not allowed to speak in the same manner as the Minister did, I will not refer to the amalgamation of these two bodies, except to say that I believe that the amalgamation will be a good thing for the economy of this country. I believe that as a result of the amalgamation of these two organizations there will be a clearer vision by the organization representing the workers in the rural industries, despite the failure of their representatives in this Parliament to force this Government to do the right thing about the future price of Australian wool.
The next clause of the bill deals with the Australian Wool Bureau’s banking authority. Since the last occasion on which we dealt with a measure of this nature, there has been, anyhow in the Government’s view, a change in banking in Australia. Because that change has occurred this bill opens up a question that has concerned us on this side of the House for a long time. I do not want to talk about the auction system, in view of what you have said, Mr. Speaker. Wool is a commodity which is very important to the Australian economy. The receipts from sales of wool have a marked influence on the economy. Wool is a commodity that can be financed under the new banking system. If this banking system operated in conjunction with a high level of wool production - and I hope that that comes about as a result of the authority provided for in this measure - then that banking system-
– Order! The honorable member is now dealing with the banking system. He is out of order in doing so.
– I respect your ruling, Mr. Speaker. This bill provides authority for the bureau in respect of banking.
– And that is all.
– I am dealing with the authority.
– Order! You are developing a debate on the backing system.
– I apologize; I do not intend to do so.
– You would be out of order.
– I agree. The point 1 was developing was that the new organization that is provided for in this bill, in conjunction with the recognition of the new banking structure that has been established under recent banking legislation, will be able to protect the wool industry against any kind of manipulation that would adversely affect the interests of the woolgrowers or the Australian economy. For that reason, we support the measure. I agree with your ruling, Mr. Speaker, that at present we cannot have a general debate on this matter, much as we would love to have such a debate. In these dying stages of the session?:! period, it is unfortunate that we have to deal in so short a time with a measure related to so important a commodity as wool. The wool-growers have seen fit to amalgamate two organizations into one. These two organizations, having remained separate over a number of years, are now combined, whether we like it or not, and the wool-growers, through this one organization claim - they are within their rights - that it is time they had more of a say in what is done in relation to a com.modity which has a very great effect on the Australian economy.
As I have said, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) rightly put the point of view of the Australian Labour Party. We support the bill, because it represents a forward move in two respects. First of all, it acknowledges the force of the amalgamation of two important organizations of primary producers.
– When will the Australian Labour Party amalgamate with the Australian Democratic Labour Party?
– I am surprised to hear an honorable member who is here supposedly to represent the woolgrowers mouth such an interjection!
-Order! If honorable members remain silent, the debate will proceed more smoothly.
– The point that I was making is that the amalgamation of the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers’ Federal Council of Australia to form an organization known as the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council will, both the honorable member for Lalor and I hope, bring about a new era for the wool-growers and enable them to speak with greater force in this country and obtain their rights, if not under the terms of this measure, under the terms of future legislation, despite the ineptitude over a long period of those who are supposed to represent them in this Parliament. I hope that this measure will enable the wool-growers to gain a greater degree of control over the price that they receive for their product. A great service will be done to the primary producers and to the economy generally if, as a result of the recognition accorded in this measure to the new organization, there is a closing of the ranks of the wool-growers against those who would manipulate wool prices in this country. If the authority with respect to banking that is given in this measure is used to prevent manipulation, a great service will be done not only to the wool-growers but also, in the long term, to the trade unions and the Australian community generally.
.- Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to take up the time of the House for very long. I am sure that every one on the Government side of the chamber supports the remarks that have been made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). Obviously, the purpose of this bill is to give recognition to the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, which is an amalgamation of the Australian. Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers Federal Council of Australia - two very great organizations in the wool industry. As a result of the amalgamation, the industry will be m a much better position to put its views on matters which vitally concern it. The voice of the combined organization will have greater force and will enable the woolgrowers to put a better case before tribunals which have great influence over costs in the wool industry. I refer particularly to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and other arbitration tribunals and to the Tariff Board.
I think that all of us - and not only the wool-growers - acknowledge that the entire economy of this country depends on the prosperity of our wool industry. It received its greatest setback as a result of the increases in the basic wage and in margins last year. Determinations on matters such as these are made on the evidence submitted to the tribunals, and unless a strong case is put on behalf of the wool industry at future hearings, we shall sink further into a depressed state. The new combined organization of wool-growers should enable a stronger case to be put in the future. The same considerations apply to the work of the Tariff Board, which can do a great deal for the wool industry if a sufficiently good case is placed before it. The board hears evidence in much the same way as do the arbitration tribunals, and, on the evidence submitted to it, determines whether it will reduce tariffs on certain items in order to try to reduce costs in the wool industry. Here again, the united efforts of the combined organization will enable a better case to be put.
For these reasons, I counsel the House to give the bill its full support.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Opposition supports the bill, although I deplore the fact that the benefits that will flow from it will be so slight as to give very little hope indeed to the wool industry. One would have thought that at this time, when balanceofpayments problems are disturbing the Government and causing so much anxiety to the whole of the people of Australia, the Government would have produced a far more comprehensive measure than this. The full title of it is -
A Bill for an Act to amend the Wool Use Promotion Act 1953-1957.
Clause 1 (1.), which states the short title, reads -
This Act may be cited as the Wool Use Promotion Act 1960. 1 have searched through the bill, but I have found very little to suggest that a scheme of wool promotion is envisaged or that anything else of fundamental benefit to this country is to be done. For that, one can express only extreme regret. However, as this measure corrects one or two anomalies, it is welcomed by the Opposition. One of the matters dealt with by the bill is the merging of two very important organizations. That in itself is of great significance. But when I look at the title of the bill, I am compelled to ask-
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand that you have already ruled that it is not in order for an honorable member to discuss the title of the bill.
– Order! I am listening carefully to the honorable member for Macquarie, and if he departs from the bill I will, with courtesy, ask him to return to it. If he wants to deal with wool promotion he must move an amendment.
– I appreciate your ruling, Sir, and I understand the feelings of the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) who represents so many woolgrowers throughout the country. They are feeling very uneasy because this Government, in which the Country Party is a partner, has failed to act in this matter.
– Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill.
– I have endeavoured to comply with your ruling, Sir, which I think most honorable members would uphold. I am unable to deal with the subject of wool promotion because the Government has no plan in regard to that matter and consequently it is necessary for me-
– I rise to order. I suggest that the honorable member is straying from the bill.
– Order! The honorable member for Macquarie will not be in order in canvassing the subject of wool promotion.
– I have no desire to canvass that matter. I simply direct the attention of honorable members to the fact that there is nothing in the bill about wool promotion. I am unable to deal with the subject because it is not relevant to the bill before the House. The merging of the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers Federal Council of Australia is of the utmost importance. On many occasions the honorable members for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), Darling (Mr. Clark), and Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) and other honorable members on this side, in pressing for action in the wool industry, have asked that pies–
-Order! The honorable member will not be in order in discussing pies.
– I mentioned them only in passing.
– Order! Any reference to pies will need to be a very slight passing reference.
– Whenever these matters are raised in the House invariably the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), or the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), states that the Government is incapable of dealing with the situation because the wool-growers cannot make up their minds. The Government says that the wool-growers speak with a number of voices, and until they make up their minds on this subject the Government cannot legislate for them. One worth-while step forward is the amalgamation of the two important organizations in the wool industry.
– Order! The only matter that may be discussed is the change of name of the organization.
– It would be futile for this Parliament to attempt to discuss the ratification of an agreement that had not been made, but an agreement has been made and this Parliament is now called upon to ratify it. Because the Parliament is called upon to ratify this amalgamation, I submit, with respect, that I have the right to discuss the organizations referred to in the bill, their importance to the wool industry and how the industry is strengthened by their amalgamation.
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order in develop ing a general debate on the wool industry. Any reference to the wool industry must be limited. The honorable member must not lose sight of the subject-matter before the Chair, limited as it is.
– This industry is of the utmost importance to Australia and it is proper for the Parliament to ratify the merging of these two mighty organizations.
– There is nothing in the bill about ratifying an agreement.
-Order! I think the honorable member for Macquarie is referring to the change of name of the organizations.
– In his second-reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry said -
The formation of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council arose from a decision of the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers Federal Council of Australia in conference in July last to amalgamate as a single organization.
That was a statement of fact by the Minister and if any reference to that amalgamation now is taboo because members of the Country Party are sensitive and fearful of the wrath of the graziers, I shall pass from that subject. In so doing, I remind them that many people engaged in the industry are calling upon them at this very moment to go ahead with a reserve price plan and to do something for this important industry.
Banking also is of the utmost importance. This bill, which provides for the change of name in respect of the bank has the approval of honorable members. I am pleased to see that the change has been made. I am delighted to know that the Reserve Bank of Australia will be able to play its part in helping the wool industry, even though the Government is not prepared to act.
– It was not my intention to intervene in this debate, but in view of the tremendous latitude that has been extended by your good grace, Mr. Speaker, to a number of honorable members on the opposite side, I feel that I should put the record straight. The bill recognizes that two of our main wool-growing organizations have decided to amalgamate and that by virtue of that amalgamation certain amendments must be made to existing acts, particularly the Wool Use Promotion Act. Certain irresponsible members of the Opposition have expatiated on certain subjects not covered by the bill under discussion. They have discussed everything from banking to a reserve price plan. They have completely missed the object of the bill. What is important is the fact that our two greatest wool-growing organizations are getting together in order to speak with one voice. One of the problems that has faced the Government in the past has been the fact that many organizations have spoken for the wool industry. This bill gives recognition to the amalgamation of two of the major organizations concerned.
I hope that in due course all the various elements within the wool industry will speak with one voice in order to tell the Government what they believe to be in the best interests of the industry and in the best interests of Australia’s economic advancement. I believe that in this bill we are giving recognition to a worthwhile amalgamation. Forget all the rubbish that has been said on the other side of the House. The Opposition has used this debate to indulge in propaganda in an attempt to capture party political support from an organization that has a definite plan for the future of the wool industry. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who is an outspoken and quite competent speaker on this subject, for which I give him full credit, took the opportunity to seek some party political advantage when he entered the debate. That is all I wish to say.
.- It is most remarkable how sensitive Government supporters are on this measure to-night. It is a simple little measure confirming the revolutionary decision of two organizations to get together. For the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) to get up as if he is the lord of all being, as if he is the only one who knows anything at all about this matter, is a phenomenal piece of egotism. I very much resent his assertion that honorable members on this side of the House are irresponsible. I guarantee that I have thousands more sheep in my electorate than he has in his. The best merino wool in Australia is grown in my electorate.
I would like to know why this hil is necessary. Because of the amalgamation into one voice of these two organizations, the Government has to pass five or six bills to-night. This bill does two things, lt permits the Australian Wool Bureau to bank with the Reserve Bank of Australia and it recognizes the change of name of the two organizations already mentioned. We all recall the debate in this House when the Wool Use Promotion Bill was before us. What a tragedy it was for the wool industry that there were so many voices trying to speak for it on that occasion. The Parliament, looking to the future of this mighty industry, is very glad that these two organizations are now coming together. There were warring factions, rivalries and jealousies, and power-lusting wool-growers were after each other’s scalps instead of fighting for their industry. It is really wonderful that they are now amalgamating. The wheat-growers have been together for years, speaking with one voice, and they have a wonderful stabilization scheme. The wool industry should take a lead from this. With this amalgamation, it should come out of the doldrums much more quickly than it otherwise would.
I want, first, to deny that we on this side are all irresponsible merely because we happen to be Labourites and that honorable members on the other side are all wise simply because they are happen to be Liberals. Some of us went to school, too, no doubt to the surprise of the Liberals. Secondly, I want to say that the whole Parliament pays a tribute to these two organizations for coming together to get on with the job.
.- I do not wish to delay the House very long, but I believe that the opportunity to say a few words should not be passed over This is an historic measure and shows that the wool industry is following a trend that has been evident in other sections of industry for the last few years. That trend is towards co-operation with the Government rather than competing with Government services and with rival organizations. The wool industry organizations now realize that they have more to gain by co-operating harmoniously with the Government and with the administration than by acting separately and individually. After all, government and industry are in business together. They want to serve the interests of the nation as a whole, and I am quite sure that this amalgamation of the two principal wool organizations will prove to be of great benefit not only to the wool industry and to wool producers but indeed to the nation as a whole.
Question resolved in the affirmative,
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 3 (Membership of Bureau, &c).
.- Clause 3 amends section 9 of the principal act by omitting the words “Australian Woolgrowers’ Council “ and inserting in their stead the words “ Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council “. This makes provision for the amalgamation of the two grazier and pastoralist bodies. I think I should be quite emphatic and specific in saying that, as far as I am concerned, this is an amalgamation of two extremely conservative bodies. I do not oppose it, because I think it better to have one entity rather than a number of separate entities. The average small wool-grower with 2,000 or 3,000 sheep will now be better able to identify the new organization which results from the amalgamation than he was able to identify the former organizations. I recognize the Wheat and Wool Growers Association and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation as the radical voices of the wool-growers with 2,000 or 3,000 sheep rather than the two organizations that are recognized by this bill. However, I do not intend to oppose the bill. I speak as one who knows something about wool-growing and fat lamb raising. After listening to the speech of the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes), I say that if he and his colleagues paid less attention to their attacks on the working people and on the men who are employed on the sheep stations, and paid more attention to attacking those who exploit the wool-growers and depress the price of wool in the international markets, they would be doing a distinct service to the workers who provide the best market for wool in this country and they would also be helping our economy. I am not quite sure of the exact figure, but I believe that you can get sheep shorn in Australia for £10 a hundred or 2s. a head; but it costs 6s. to get a haircut! Shearing sheep is the cheapest labour in Australia to-day. I know something about shearing and would be prepared to shear a sheep against any one in this chamber.
Order! The. honorable member should direct his attention to clause 3, to which he is objecting. He should confine himself solely to the matter contained in the clause.
– You are quite right. Having said those few words, I hope that I have enlightened the honorable member for McPherson. I think he can shear sheep, too.
I will say this about the amalgamation: I have not much faith in either of the two organizations, but at least they are amalgamating and perhaps it will be easier now to identify them. They are exceedingly conservative organizations and in the main they comprise people who have emancipated themselves as individuals and who do not care two hoots whether wool continues to be sold under the present system or whether the whole marketing of wool in Australia is reformed.
– You are getting a bit wide of the bill, now.
– This is not getting wide of the bill. I know something about it. The honorable gentlemen in the Australian Country Party corner have a lot to say about trade union organizations and those who control them. They allege Communist control of trade unions and some of the more conservative of them allege Democratic Labour Party control.
– Order! The honorable gentleman is not dealing with the clause at all now.
– It is only a passing reference.
– It is still too long. The honorable member should confine himself to the clause.
– I am making a comparison of organizations in the industrial field and organizations of primary producers - the amalgamation of trade unions on the one hand and the amalgamation of primary producers on the other.
– The clause does not provide for that.
– I think you are right, Mr. Chairman. Just as some honorable members alleged influence in a particular direction in the industrial sphere, so I allege influence in the primary producing field by the big boys in the wool-growing industry. They are opposed to the interests of those who toil with their hands to shear their own sheep - the people on small holdings who to-day are battling against the vested interests.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Chairman. I suggest that the honorable member for Lalor is not speaking to the clause before the committee.
– Order! I am watching the honorable member very closely. I admit he is skimming close to the border line. However, I think that the honorable members who are interjecting are just as much out of order, and as wide of the clause as is the honorable member for Lalor.
– I desire to assist you, Mr. Chairman, because I think you are infinitely fair in your rulings. Consequently, let me say that I support the bill. I approve of it, and I think that the amalgamation referred to in this clause is good, although T do not like the parties concerned. I do not like to see the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Association control the radical forces in the wool industry. In the young state of Western Australia the association leads all the wool-growers. The Western Australian farmers have often suggested that we should have a wool pool, -nd they have given very interesting figures to support their contention. They have produced figures for peak prices and depression prices for wool which show no consistency over a period of years.
I shall leave my remarks at that. Representing the Opposition in this Parliament - the pioneers of organized marketing in this country - I say that the Opposition stands 100 per cent, behind the ideals expressed in the bill, although it does not necessarily believe that those ideals will materialize.
We hope we are at the dawn of a better day as the result of our advocacy in this Parliament of a better and more effective wool-marketing organization in this country, not solely for the benefit of the wool-producers but also for ie support of the whole economy. Every industrial worker is dependent upon the pence per pound paid for 95 per cent, of our clip which is exported. To that extent my Government in difficulty with budgetary deficits is in that position because it has failed to act in association with New Zealand, South Africa and Great Britain to obtain on the markets of the world a fair and just price for the wonderful product which the wool-growers of this country produce.
.- I think the only wool that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) touched on was the wool that he endeavoured to pull over the eyes of the people listening to his remarks on the industrial objectives of this organization. I know that the honorable member for Lalor knows very well, as most people in the wool industry do, that we have to accept world prices for our product. Our costs have risen as a result of an increase in industrial costs in this country.
– Order! I have to remind the honorable member that his remarks are not relevant to the clause being considered by the committee.
– I was answering the remarks of the honorable member for Lalor, who misrepresented my remarks. He mentioned me by name and misrepresented my remarks. He completely misrepresented what I said. As the honorable member for Lalor knows, we have to accept world values, and we cannot afford to pay increases in costs because obviously we cannot pass them on.
.- I know the restrictions you have placed on this debate, Mr. Chairman, and I am prepared to keep within them. I agree with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I am always happy to agree with him when I think he is right. I agree that clause 3 merely omits from sub-section (3.) of section 9 of the principal act the words “Australian Woolgrowers’ Council” and inserts in their stead the words “ Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council”. The clause covers the amalgamation of those two organizations. Every one knows that unity is strength.
Now that those organizations have made representations for an inquiry into the wool industry I hope that the position generally throughout Australia will be successfully resolved. The honorable member for Lalor commented on the fact that we pay 6s. for a haircut and that shearers receive 2s. a head for shearing sheep. He seemed to disagree with that. Would the honorable member for Lalor like to have a shearer cut his hair? His argument, of course, would not stand any test of logic whatever. After all, the Australian Country Party is supporting this clause and is supporting the bill. I should like to say only one thing more. After listening to the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and some other members of the Labour Party I am convinced that I was right in saying that the honorable member for Lalor is the only one on the Opposition benches who has some knowledge of primary production.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 2989), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second tune.
.- This bill is similar to the measure with which we have just dealt. It is made necessary by the fact that two primary producers’ organizations have merged and taken unto themselves a new title - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. The combined organization will be represented on the various organizations set up by statute to carry out research into beef production and other matters.
The Opposition recognizes that, if properly applied, the results of scientific research can do much for our primary industries. We appreciate that if those who conduct the cattle industry of Australia are to advance and enjoy economic emancipation, it is essential that they should have available to them all the latest results of scientific research into their industry. It is to the credit of the organizations representing the beef and cattle industries of Australia that they have agreed voluntarily to contribute towards the cost of research into their problems, and it is also to the credit of the Government - I say this despite its political complexion - that it has followed the example set by past Labour Governments and agreed also to make a contribution. The cattle industry of Australia, especially in the Northern Territory, Central Australia, Queensland and Western Australia–
Order! I draw the attention of the House to the fact that this bill is even narrower in scope than the one with which we have just dealt. It simply gives statutory recognition to the amalgamation and change of name of two primary producers’ organizations. That being so, any discussion of research in connexion with the beef industry as a whole would be out of order.
– I think you are right, Sir. Let me say that although these two organizations which have merged are exceedingly conservative, and although they possibly fail to recognize their natural enemies, we support the measure. We believe that with a small number of Australia-wide organizations, rather than a great number of State organizations, the efficacy of any research carried out will be improved. At this stage, I feel that I am justified in saying that in this industry, just as in the wool industry, there is a great need for intensification of research, especially in the northern areas of Australia, and there is also a need for those engaged in the industry to recognize the necessity for research aimed at bringing about more efficient methods of marketing. The beef producer should not be subjected in the saleyards to the whims and wiles of the great American-Australian-English amalgam of canners and processors. As a great co-operative organization, the Australian Labour Party looks forward to the day when there will be a more efficient marketing system in Australia, under which producers will be paid on a weight, grade and quality basis rather than on the outcome of some pre-sale conference between speculators, represented in the main by American, English and Australian-
– I rise to order. I suggest that the honorable member is not discussing any part of the bill.
– Order! The honorable member may make a passing reference only to these matters. He is aware of the very limited scope of the bill.
– I thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to be fair, but I find it hard to understand how a solicitor and a member of the Country Party could object to my expressing a sincere hope that the day will dawn when those who produce cattle under most arduous conditions in the outback will benefit from the adoption of a scientific system of marketing and will no longer be the victims of haphazard speculative activities in the saleyards. I do not propose to be any more controversial than that.
We agree to the bill. We hope that it will result in greater uniformity of purpose and, indeed, in a reformation of the outlook of the older conservative primary producers’ organizations. I really do not think that they speak for the smaller producers, who are less fortunately situated financially. The smaller producers, due to the depressed conditions forced upon them by the monopolies, have not the means to enable them to attend conferences of these organizations.
– Order! I think the honorable member might now come back to the bill.
– You are quite right, Mr. Speaker. I leave it at that. The Labour Party supports the bill.
.- When the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) began his speech, I hoped that I would be able to rise later and say, “ I caused you some worry on the other bill. I support this bill “, and leave it at that. However, he went on to say something on which I desire to comment. He said he believed that the beef producers should not be subjected in the saleyards to the whims of the speculators who, in the main, were Americans, Englishmen and Australians.
– Hear, hear! Whom do you think Swifts represent? Whom do you think Vesteys represent?
– When the din dies down, I shall continue.
-Order! The honorable member will address his remarks to the Chair.
– I thought it strange to hear that statement from a former Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a Labour government. The honorable member for Lalor talked about the whims of Americans and other people. What about the whims of the Labour Party when it was in office? [Quorum formed.]
I was reading a note I made during the speech of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) when I was so rudely interrupted. He said that the whims of Americans, Australians and Englishmen had affected the beef producer. It is very strange now to hear the honorable member, who was the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the former Labour Government, talking about these things. That Government introduced at the largest saleyards in Victoria - those at Newmarket. Melbourne - the one-bid auction. In passing, I would explain that the Labour Government appointed valuers, who went along the pens and valued the stock which, when the auction came on, had to be knocked down to bidders at these fixed prices irrespective of how much more it would have brought.
– Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill.
– I have explained what happened. I think that you, Sir, and every one else will agree with me that it is very strange indeed that the honorable member for Lalor has forgotten how he acted when Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the Labour Government. That was one of the most scandalous things that ever happened to the primary producers of this country.
-I will give you scandal, if you want it, and 1 will name a few people, too.
– This sort of thing could happen again in this country, if Labour ever got into power.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 4 (Saving).
.- I want to facilitate the business of this Parliament, Mr. Chairman, but the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) has made a certain allegation about the attitude of the Labour Administration round about 1948. I want to say to the honorable member, through you, Mr. Chairman, that in order to assist the hard-pressed people of the United Kingdom the war-time controls were extended for a period beyond the cessation of hostilities and the Labour Government of that day continued meat and butter rationing.
– It is meat that I was talking about.
– You have had your little say. There was a gang of people in Melbourne - mostly auctioneers - who determined that they would buck the Government in its endeavour to assist the hardpressed people of the United Kingdom. I have in my possession–
– Order! You have also got me in the chair. I want to advise you there is nothing in clause 4 to discuss.
– I bow to your ruling, Sir. I will deal with the honorable member for Mallee during the debate on a later bill.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 2989), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure is very similar to the previous one and, in the main, provides for the insertion into the principal act of the title of the new organization - Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. The Opposition does not object to that, but I point out that a section of the act specifically refers to meat export and meat export control. I think that at this stage, with your forebearance Mr. Deputy Speaker, notwithstanding advice from your advisers, I might say something about the allegation that has been made this evening by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) during the debate on the last measure. All I have to say to the honorable member for Mallee–
– This is a different debate.
– Order! The honorable member will refrain from interjecting.
– You made an allegation and I am answering you, but you are protesting.
– I am not protesting.
– All I wish to say is that Melbourne witnessed a strike of auctioneers–
– Order! ] direct the attention of the honorable member for Lalor to the fact that this bill does not deal with that matter.
– It is a pity, Sir, that you did not direct the attention of the honorable member for Mallee to that fact.
– Order! I direct your attention to the fact that you are reflecting on the Chair.
– I submit that, in view of the title of the bill, I have the right to refer to the activities of these auctioneers in regard to beef for export and beef for local consumption-
– Order! 1 suggest to the honorable member for Lalor that he should turn his attention to clause 3 - the operative clause - and confine his remarks to its provisions.
– May I also speak to clause 4?
– Let me say to the honorable member for Mallee, who from time to time has been very articulate about strikes, something about what happened in Melbourne in the endeavour of the Labour Government to settle - : -
– Order! 1 must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the bill before the House.
– I am telling the honorable member for Mallee what happened in regard to the bidding for and purchase of stock for meat export.
– Order! If the honorable member for Lalor examines clause 4, he will find that there is nothing in it to debate. He will confine his remarks to the bill, or resume his seat.
– I point out, Sir, that sub-clause (4.) of clause 1 reads -
The Principal Act, as amended by this Act, may be cited as the Meat Export Control Act 1935-1960.
– That does not give the honorable member the right to refer to auctions.
– I am not referring to auctions, but to the supply of cattle to the metropolitan meat market in Melbourne.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Lalor has been consistently and continuously trying to defeat the ruling of the Chair. He is continually bringing in all. sorts of extraneous matter.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, you have ruled that I may not refer to auctions. I am not referring to auctions; I am referring to the supply of export grade meat to the Melbourne meat market. Auctions do not come into the matter at all.
– Order! The point that the honorable member for Lalor has raised does not come within the scope of this bill, and he is out of order in discussing it.
– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I take it that this measure provides for the continuation of the Australian Meat Board, but it proposes to alter the designation of some of the representatives on that board. Surely, at the time when we are considering the continuance of the Australian Meat Board we must consider, first, whether the board itself should be continued; and secondly, whether this particular export system should be continued. I submit that the honorable member for Lalor is entitled to deal with past operations in relation to export control with a view to the Opposition, or the Parliament, deciding whether it wishes the present control to continue.
– Order! The impression that the honorable member for East Sydney holds is quite erroneous. We are discussing clause 3 of the bill, which is in these terms -
Section five of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-sections (4.) and (5.) the words “ Graziers Federal Council of Australia “ and inserting in their stead the words “Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council “.
That is the subject now before the House for debate. If the honorable member for Lalor has nothing to contribute on that aspect I shall call another honorable member.
– By virtue of this amalgamation there will be, in the new organization, individual members of the old organization who, in the period to which the honorable member for Mallee referred-
– I have not spoken yet in this debate.
– That is all right. I was about to say that there will be members in the new organization who, in the period to which the honorable member for Mallee referred, took a certain line of action to defeat *he determination of the Government of the day to help the hardpressed -people of Great Britain.
– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This bill has only one purpose - ito give recognition ‘to (the change of -name -of the Graziers Federal Council .of Australia .to that of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. The honorable member for Lalor has not directed his “remarks in any way to the substance o’f ‘this bill despite your repeated rulings on this point. -I suggest that if the honorable member continues his speech along -the ‘line he has been following he will violate your repeated ruling.
– Order! I uphold the .point of order. If the honorable member for Lalor does not confine his remarks to the bill I shall ask him to resume his seat, and I shall put the quest-ion.
– I did not intend to breach your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Although (he honorable member for Wannon has a certain point of view, I suggest that having regard to the conduct of members of this organization in the particular period to which I have referred - and I refer specifically to their conduct - 1 should be entitled to reply to the honorable member for Mallee because those members are included in the organization mentioned in the bill.
– Order! The honorable member for Mallee has not spoken in the debate on this bill. I direct your attention to the fact-
– I beg your pardon; he referred-
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor will resume his seat. I call the honorable member for Mallee.
.- I have very much pleasure in supporting this bill.
.- Clause 4 of the bill provides that the Australian Meat Board as at present constituted shall continue to function. I am of the opinion that the lamb producers, mutton producers and beef producers -of Australia ane entitled to have “the -opportunity to determine whether they want their present representatives to continue as members of the Australian Meat Board. I take it that we are entitled to discuss .that matter. I have often heard a great deal of criticism about the control of this industry. I have had conversations with my esteemed colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), and he has given me cause to doubt -seriously whether some of the people who claim to represent these interests on the Australian Meat Board actually possess at this time the confidence of .the producers in the various sections of the industry. If the Government has decided that .this is .an appropriate time to change the name of the Graziers Federal Council of Australia to that ©f the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council in the act, why does it not at .the same time take the opportunity to .give -the producers in these various branches of the industry the opportunity to determine whether they want to make any change in their representation? 1 should have preferred to hear the honorable member for Lalor at greater length because it is only by learning of the experience of practical men with these various organizations that one can determine whether the council has the confidence of the people whom it claims to represent. If there have been various transactions and activities relating to the auctioning and marketing of cattle which is under the control of the Australian Meat Board - surely those activities can be criticized by the Opposition - members of the Parliament and the community generally should be told of the position so that they can judge whether the present representatives on the council are dealing adequately with the marketing and auctioning of Australian meat. I hope that the Chair will take a realistic view of this matter and allow the experienced honorable member for Lalor-
-Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will resume his seat. I have already pointed out several times to the honorable member for Lalor and to the House that those matters do not come within the ambit of the bill.
– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would you read clauses 3 and 4 of the bill?
– Order! I have already read clauses 3 and 4 of the bill, and I again rule that there is no room for debate on the subject that the honorable member for East Sydney is trying to raise. This bill seeks to change the name of the organization - nothing more and nothing less - and the debate will be confined to that subject, or I shall put the question.
– May I ask you to tell me exactly what clause 4 of the bill provides?
– The honorable member for East Sydney has been in the Parliament long enough to be capable of understanding it. I ask him to resume his seat.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor has already spoken in the debate.
– I wish to exercise my right to take my second period.
– Order! As the House is now debating the motion for the second reading of the bill the honorable member does not have the right to a second period. He will resume his seat.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 3 (Australian Meat Board).
– It is all very well for members of a particular party to assume a proprietary interest in certain pieces of legislation. Not every one in this committee knows what was the composition of the Graziers Federal Council of Australia and what is the composition of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. It is necessary to read “ Country Life “.
– If you do not know that, you have no right to be in this Parliament.
– I just contrast the kind of confidence that the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) displays in relation to rural bodies with the confidence that he sometimes assumes when talking about industrial bodies. If we were arguing about who represented the waterside workers of Australia, I would regard myself as a better authority than he is. But that does not stop him, when it suits him, from making charges against me.
All I ask for is some clarification of these matters. I sometimes feel that the only things in which the Country Party is interested are the current prices of wool or wheat.
– I rise to order. Clause 3 relates to an alteration of the name of a certain body, nothing more nor less.
– The point I raise and to which I insist upon an answer-
– It has nothing to do with the clause.
– The. clause provides for the. amendment of section 5 of the principal act by substituting the words “Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council “ for the words “ Graziers Federal Council of Australia “. Some members may know what the former body was and the reason for the change in name, but I should like to hear from the Minister precisely what these bodies are. Are they registered as associations under any act or authority?
– Do you want to stay here till Christmas time?
Order! The honorable member for Canning will remain silent so that I can hear the speaker.
– He is not worth hearing.
– As the honorable member for Canning knows, I do not usually intervene in a debate in any vexatious manner. Surely the measures that come before this Parliament ought to be intelligible in text and intelligently debated. 1 for one confess, in all humility, that I do not know the composition of these bodies. Some people are prepared, without any warrant whatever, to characterize certain industrial organizations as Communistcontrolled because they happen to have one official out of 50 who is a member of the Communist Party. The point upon which I seek information may have been explained in the Minister’s second-reading speech, which I have not seen.
– It certainly was explained. Why do you not read it?
– I hope that the Minister will be able to explain it to me now. That is all that I am asking. I do not mind occasionally admitting my ignorance and assuming a certain humility. I want that information from the Minister. I hope that he will not be upset by the arrogance of one or two members opposite in relation to this matter.
– We have given you a good go.
– You have given us nothing but our rights.
– You ranged pretty wide in the debate on the first bill.
– I admit that I have not read the second-reading speech. I want to know why the change is necessary. What is the reason for the replacement of the name “ Graziers Federal Council of Australia “ by the name “ Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council “? I apologize to the committee for taking two or three minutes of its time and I hope that honorable members will understand if the Minister takes two or three minutes more to explain the matter, at least to me. Before 1 cast my vote on this clause, I want to know why that name is to be substituted. If I am not satisfied with the Minister’s reply, I shall exercise my right to speak a second time on the clause. That is the prerogative of any honorable member.
– The speech of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) indicated a complete ignorance of matters affecting all branches of the pastoral industry. If honorable gentlemen opposite had been following events in the pastoral industry in recent months, they would know mat the Stockowners Association of South Australia, the Graziers Association of New South Wales, the United Graziers Association of Queensland, the Pastoralists Association of Western Australia, and the Graziers Association of Victoria, which were formerly banded together in two federal bodies, namely the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers Federal Council, decided that it was not sensible to have two separate councils of which the membership was the same. I believe that, in almost every instance, members of one federal body were members also of the other federal body. The distinction between the Graziers Federal Council and the Australian Woolgrowers Council was that the latter dealt with wool and the former dealt with meat and other products, not including wool.
Recently, the two councils decided that it was quite senseless to have two separate bodies on the federal level. Those two separate bodies have now been abolished and the State organizations that I enumerated have decided that on a federal level they should be banded together in one organization to be called the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. Those State organizations having taken that action on the federal level and it has become necessary for the Government to amend certain legislation wherein the names of the old federal organizations appear. One of the old organizations was mentioned in the legislation, discussion of which has just concluded, and it is mentioned in the Meat Export Control Act, in relation to the Australian Meat Board. It is necessary that the legislation of the Commonwealth Parliament be amended in accordance with the change of names.
All that has happened is that graziers’ associations of the various States have banded themselves together into one organization on the federal level. The name of this organization appears in clause 3. The only purpose of the bill is to give official recognition to the change. Surely in the interests of the unity of the primary industries we can all support the bill.
– I appreciate the explanation that has been given by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). It seems to me to indicate that wool-growers are no longer primarily wool-growers but mixed farmers, and graziers are no longer exclusively graziers, but tend to have some relation to wool-growers. I hope that occasionally the honorable member for Wannon will display the same tolerance towards certain changes that take place in industrial matters. What I regret in this place is the sort of exclusive right the members of the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party take to themselves to be the authorities, not only on the products which farmers produce and on the organizations which the Liberal Party represents, but also on industrial organizations.
– Order! The honorable member cannot develop a debate.
– I am not developing a debate. I am thanking the honorable member for an explanation he has given; but I am asking him also to accept the fact that I, as a metropolitan member, at least concede occasionally that I do not know everything about rural matters, and expressing the hope that sometimes the country members, who represent about one in five of the population, will realize that they do not know everything about industrial matters.
.- Before we agree to this measure I would like the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to explain to the committee exactly what are, and who are, the component members of the Australian Woolgrowers Council.
– I named every one of them.
– I do not place any importance on whom you name. I want an authoritative statement from the Minister in charge of the bill. I know that the Australian Woolgrowers Council, for instance, has an employee named Mr. Chislett. Do you deny that? He is a very able economist.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Saving).
.- Clause 4 raises the very point about which I asked the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), who gave what he regarded as an explicit explanation of the previous clause. Clause 4 states -
Notwithstanding the amendments made by the last preceding section,
That is, the one we have just agreed to. a person who, immediately before the commencement of this Act, held office as a member of the Australian Meat Board appointed to represent the lamb producers of Australia, the mutton producers of Australia or the beef producers of Australia shall, after the commencement of this Act, continue to hold office. . . .
Does not that imply what I asked during the discussion on the previous clause? Woolgrowers are no longer primarily woolgrowers, but may be lamb and mutton producers, and apparently also, in the context of mixed farming, beef producers as well. Graziers are no longer primarily cattle men but can be lamb and mutton men. Members of the Australian Country Party are interjecting, but it seems to me that the whole of this debate has indicated a change in the framework of farming in Australia. Again I make the point - and I hope that occasionally members of the Country Party will recognize - that the same change is taking place in other parts of the framework of the economy. Perhaps the lucid member who made an explanation before will elucidate this clause.
.- It is within the competence of the committee to ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), in view of the fact that the measure relates to the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Australian Woolgrowers and1 Graziers Council, just exactly what, in the first instance, are the component organizations that comprise the Australian Woolgrowers Council.
– This has nothing to do with the clause.
– Yes it has.
– Clause 4 deals with the question whether those who were members of the Australian Meat Board under the old names are to continue as members of the board under this measure.
– I suggest that the clause refers to those who were formerly members of the Australian Meat Board as members of the Australian Woolgrowers Council. Will the Minister deny that?
– The question is whether that membership continues under the amalgamation. Do you agree or disagree?
– But they were members of a particular organization and under the amalgamation process they become members of another organization.
– Do not be so innocent.
– What is wrong with you fellows? Are you ashamed?
– No, we are not ashamed.
– The Opposition has been helpful. It is supporting the whole six measures before the committee, but at least it is entitled to obtain information from the Minister in charge of these measures. We have acted courteously, and I wonder what is the driving force behind members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party who object every time we ask for information. I am merely asking the Minister to inform me what are the component parts, or the organizations, which comprise the Australian Woolgrowers Council - a council which, as the stupid member for Ballaarat ought to know, is a combination of organizations. The Australian Council of Trade Unions is a body representing a number of unions. By the same rule, if we understand English - and we should - the Australian Woolgrowers Council is a combination of a number of organizations concerned with the production of wool. All we ask before we finally give our consent to the bill - and we are helpful and will give it - is that the Minister enumerate what are the component parts of this organization.
– That has nothing to do with this clause. That is related to clause 3 which has already been passed. Why are you stone-walling?
– Let us suppose it has nothing to do with clause .4; is there any reason why you should not give the information now instead of later.
– Do you realize you are on the air?
– I do not care where we are. All I realize is that you are showing up very badly. The electors of
Wannon will want to know why you are not in the Australian wheat and woolgrowers organization and demanding a better deal for the organization.
– Order! I have known the honorable member for Lalor to show up to better advantage too. The honorable member has heard the Minister’s explanation.
– I am sorry if I did not hear it.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 29S9), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The situation in regard to this measure is on all fours with that of the bill with which the House has just dealt. The Opposition does not offer any objection to the measure, but I again ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to tell us the names of the organizations which comprise the body known as the Australian Woolgrowers Council. I think that they ought to be identified, because there has been a combination of primary-producer organizations. Does not the Minister know the identity of the organizations? I have a rough idea of them myself, but I confess that I do not know the names of all of them. I think we ought to have that information, and I respectfully ask for it. After all, we have been most helpful. We have not called for divisions, and we are supporting the bill. Surely we are entitled to ask for information.
– in reply - As I indicated in my second-reading speech on the Wool Use Promotion Bill, a series of bills has been introduced for a similar purpose, namely, to make some necessary provisions consequent on the amalgamation of the Graziers Federal Council of Australia and the Australian Woolgrowers Council into a new body known as the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. The component bodies of that council are: The United Graziers Association of Queensland; the New South Wales Graziers Association; the Graziers Association of Riverina; the Graziers Association of West Darling; the Graziers Association of Victoria; the Stockowners Association of South Australia; and the Pastoralists Association of Western Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Wool Research Committee).
.- After a lot of prompting, the Minister has now told us the names of the component parts of the Australian Woolgrowers Council. I now ask him whether he will tell us the names of the component parts of the body that has resulted from the amalgamation - the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council.
– The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) seems to be unable to understand English to-night. He has been told twice - once by me and once by the Minister - the names of the bodies which comprise the organizations known as the Australian Woolgrowers Council, the Graziers Federal Council of Australia, and the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, which is the name of the new body into which those organizations have amalgamated themselves. As the honorable member for Lalor well knows and, I should think, has known for fifteen years at the very least, the membership of the two previous organizations - the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Graziers Federal Council of Australia - is exactly the same. The honorable member, who has been a Minister in charge of primary industries, must know these things. If he does not, then he was gravely neglecting his duties at that time.
For the third time, I shall repeat the names of the constituent parts of those two organizations. They are: The Stock owners Association of South Australia, the Graziers Association of New South Wales, the United Graziers Association of Queensland, the Pastoralists Association of Western Australia, the Graziers Association of Riverina, and the Graziers Association of Victoria. Those organizations, which previously formed part of two organizations, have now combined to form the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. The delegates which those State organizations send to the federal bodies were, and are, in each case identical. The organizations have felt that it was not sensible for them to have two federal organizations whose membership was the same in each case and which were both dealing with subjects which very largely overlapped. Wool-growers do not engage only in wool-growing, and meat producers are seldom solely meat producers. There is a great deal of overlapping of interests and of knowledge in regard to these matters.
The State organizations considered that it would be much more sensible and much more in the interests of the industry if they banded together in one federal organization. They have done so, and the name of that organization is the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. The membership of this new organization is exactly the same as that of the old Australian Woolgrowers Council and the old Graziers Federal Council of Australia. The honorable member for Lalor has known this for fifteen years, or ever since he was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture during a Labour administration in past years. The tactics that he is pursuing in regard to these measures apparently have a purpose which only he appreciates. They certainly do not add anything to the knowledge of the Parliament.
This is the third time that a simple, straight statement has been given of the reason for the introduction of these bills that we have been discussing. The reason for them is to write into the Commonwealth law the name of this new organization which has come about because of independent action by growers and pastoralists. If the honorable member for Lalor cannot understand the reason after three explanations, I suggest, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that it will be quite worthless to listen to his requests in relation to other bills that are to come forward for exactly the same reason.
.- I appreciate the way in which the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) diligently reads his lessons to the Parliament. He has told us that a number of organizations have now banded together. Heaven knows on what basis this has been done - whether by a ballot, postal or otherwise.
– That does not matter.
– It does matter. The proposal is to raise a number of voluntary bodies to the status of a statutory body. After all, this chamber does not comprise only representatives of the Australian Country Party and the country members of the Liberal Party. I ask the committee to contrast the treatment of bodies virtually unknown to the majority of the community, as bodies of honour, while larger bodies - the recognized trade unions - are subject to legislation as to how they shall determine their business.
I have been interested to-night in the statements made both by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the honorable member for Wannon, who is the spokesman for these organizations. All that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) asked was to be informed of the component bodies of the new organization, which is to be known as the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. We get a hotchpotch of purely local bodies-
– They are State bodies. You have received a precise answer.
– It was not a precise answer. These bodies have met in conclave, subject to no sort of statutory control. They have come to the Government of the day and have had themselves elevated into bodies with statutory recognition.
– You have it wrong.
– I think that you have it wrong. It is not the first thing that you have had wrong and I am sure it is not the last thing that you will get wrong. This bill indicates the difference between the Government’s attitude to purely commercial bodies representing very few people and its attitude to the recognized organizations of the Labour movement which are subject to all sorts of statutory controls. If Labour organizations of this kind are formed they have to state how they have been formed and they have to present the bona fides of their component bodies. At this stage I do not intend to oppose the legislation, but I ask the committee to contrast the difference in the Government’s approach to those two types of organization. I do not like the kind of lessons that the honorable member for Wannon tries to read to the committee.
– The graziers will be interested to hear how you ridicule them and stone-wall their legislation.
– The Minister does not usually try to distort an argument, and I am a little disappointed that he has adopted this attitude. After all, who are the graziers and who are the primary producers?
– How many times do you want to be told? You have been told three times already.
– I want to be told a little clearer and a little more authoritatively than the honorable member for Wannon told us, by some one who has a little more weight than he carries. As I said last night, he is one of the expendable members of the committee. Nobody will regret very much if he is not in the next Parliament. A number of voluntary bodies have been consolidated in order to get statutory recognition, but no consideration has been given to whether the consolidation was brought about in a legitimate manner. I have been told that these bodies represent the Riverina, that they represent the graziers from here and the wool-growers from there. There are no workers in them. The members are all primary producers although some of them have been in little bodies.
I do not deny that these people are entitled to decide to join the new organization in their own interests. But I contrast the Government’s treatment of this kind of amalgamation with its treatment of organizations in the Labour movement. Labour organizations are subject to court-controlled ballots. Was any court-controlled ballot held to determine whether the various components of the former Australian Wool Growers Council would in future be known as the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council? Honorable members opposite who are interjecting may have their asides if they wish, but they will be found to be pretty cheap when they are analysed afterwards.
How do honorable members opposite determine the relative weight of the woolgrowers as against the graziers? In view of a clause in the earlier bill, it is hard to know who is a wool-grower and who is a grazier because most producers are both wool-growers and graziers. They are mixed farmers in the part of the district in which the honorable member for Wannon and 1 were born. Government supporters, when it suits them, talk about democracy in this sort of institution. What kind of democratic machinery was it that determined that the Australian Woolgrowers Council should become the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council? I suggest that, until we know the basis of that determination it is a bit rough to ask the Parliament to ratify the new name by statute.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has asked who are the rank and file members of the organization under discussion. They are the primary producers of this country, on whom the nation is so dependent, for its stability. The honorable member has asked about the relationship between the trade unions and this organization. The primary producers in this organization made it possible, by their exports, for our overseas funds to be maintained so that we could bring into this country raw materials for the secondary industries that keep the trade unionists in work. I cannot understand why the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has not realized that long ago. The primary producers are the very foundation of the stability of this country. The trade unions and the secondary industries are dependent upon them to bring raw materials into this country in order to keep secondary industry in operation.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
WOOL TAX BILL (No. 1) 1960. Second Reading.
Consideration resumed from 17th November (vide page 2989), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 17th November (vide page 2989), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill is designed to amend the Wool Tax Act (No. 2) 1957, which authorizes the imposition of a levy on wool-growers for a variety of purposes, including wool promotion and research. The Opposition does not object to the bill, which provides that the words “ Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council “ shall be substituted for the words “ Australian Woolgrowers’ Council “ in the principal act. I rise only to express the hope that the wool-growers, the Australian press, this Parliament and the Government will not lose sight of the need to provide funds for the promotion of the use of wool, those funds to be expendable in Australia and in other countries in association with the International Wool Secretariat. I also wish to direct the attention of the public, the Ministry, and the Parliament to the need for mighty prompt action to be taken to ensure that the emphasis shall be placed on marketing rather than on the promotion of wool. I leave the matter at that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 27th October (vide page 2459), on motion by Mr. Downer - That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a very short bill which is designed to repeal section 36 of the principal act. It is typical - I do not use the term disparagingly - of legislation that is introduced from time to time to simplify the process of naturalization. Similar legislation was introduced in 1959 and in the year before that.
Although I am not in the habit of complimenting the Government upon legislation it introduces, perhaps at this stage I may pay a well-deserved tribute to the work of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer). I pay a tribute not only to the present Minister, who has administered his portfolio with vigour and a sense of purpose, but also his predecessors in that office. They have pursued a programme that was initiated by a Labour government. I should also like to pay a tribute to the work of the staff of the Department of Immigration, under the leadership of Sir Tasman Heyes.
Having said much more about that than 1 intended to, I shall deal with the bill now before us. As I have already indicated, it is designed to repeal section 36 of the principal act and to provide that in future applicants for naturalization will not be required to furnish three certificates of character. The bill also abolishes the requirement for an applicant for naturalization to sign a statutory declaration before a justice of the peace or a commissioner for affidavits. The removal of those two requirements will simplify the process of naturalization. For that reason, the Opposition does not oppose the measure.
The Minister for Immigration indicated in his second-reading speech that certificates of character were not necessary because the department had other avenues of checking on the character of an applicant. I shall probably refer to that matter in greater detail at a later stage in my remarks. With regard to removal of the need for an applicant to sign a declaration before a commissioner for affidavits, the applicant will still have to provide the requisite details, but the process will be simplified. He will merely have to appear before an officer of the Department of Immigration or an official of one of the various organizations which in the past have accepted some responsibility in these matters. I understand that an official of a good neighbour council will be able to complete the necessary forms. I believe that the Department of Labour and National Service will also have some jurisdiction in these matters. The naturalization process will, therefore, be simplified, although the applicant will still be required, as I understand the intention of the legislation, to supply all the details that he previously had to supply when completing the form before one of the people to whom I have just referred.
For these reasons the amendments, as I have already said, will, in my opinion, and I feel sure in the opinion of honorable members on both sides of the House, simplify the process of naturalization, and so the Opposition supports the measure. We believe that naturalization should be simplified, particularly when one considers the figures contained in the pamphlet made available each quarter by the Department of Immigration. There are considerable numbers of aliens in Australia who have not sought naturalization, and so any simplification of the naturalization procedure should be supported by all of us.
It has been said on previous occasions that we could anticipate difficulty in the selection of adequate numbers of suitable immigrants, because of the general economic conditions prevailing. It has been suggested that in the future it may not be easy to secure suitable immigrants from some European countries which, in the past, have been substantial sources of immigrants for this country. These fears have not yet been realized. We are still bringing to this country a steady stream of immigrants, at the rate of about 125,000 a year. However, we must give our undivided attention to the question of naturalization, with a view to reducing the substantial number of aliens who have not sought naturalization.
– How many are there?
– I shall refer to the figures supplied by the Department of Immigration, in the quarterly statistical bulletin issued by that department in October, 1960. It appears that there are 416,601 aliens registered in Australia. Between 1945 and the end of June, 1960, there were 255,987 aliens who had become naturalized. In other words, less than half of the people who have come to this country from other lands have sought naturalization. That is why I suggest we should be doing our utmost to increase the numbers of naturalized persons.
It is not, of course, any one particular nationality that is involved. If one breaks down the figures the results are quite interesting. In the period to which I have referred we have brought 11,054 persons to this country from Austria, and only 2,848 Austrian immigrants have become naturalized Australians. This figure represents only about 20 per cent, of the number of Austrian immigrants. In the corresponding period 42,860 persons have come here from Germany, and only 14,254 German immigrants, representing 33 per cent, of the total number, have sought naturalization. These proportions are certainly not high, and they should be increased. This is one of the matters to which the Department of Immigration and the Parliament should direct their attention. I shall refer to one other nationality. There are to-day 125,784 Italians registered in Australia under the Aliens Act. Only 53,857 Italians, representing 42 per cent, of the total I have just given, have become naturalised. The proportion is greater than in the case of the other two nationalities I have mentioned, but it is still not large enough.
I have not referred to these three nationalities for any particular purpose. I have selected them at random. Perhaps the figures for some other nationalities may be more satisfactory. But I am sure the Minister would agree that there must be some way in which we can find a solution to this problem and increase the proportion of aliens seeking registration.
– Are they all eligible for naturalization?
– Some of them may not be. These figures do not include children, and all these people, being adults, would probably be eligible for naturalization. There are some interesting figures also giving the numbers of persons who applied for naturalization, but did not complete the process. The proportion of aliens in this category would probably be as high as 15 per cent, or 20 per cent. There must be some reason why people request naturalization, complete the necessary documents, are accepted by the department and then do not in fact take out their final naturalization papers. This is a matter that should be given serious consideration. It must be possible to follow up such persons with a view to finding out why they have not proceeded to complete the process.
We know that Australians regard Australian citizenship as being highly desirable. I do not suggest, and have never suggested, that the desirability of nautralization should be made the subject of an advertising campaign. We accept these immigrants, and we would hope that they would seek naturalization on their own account, and not as a consequence of a widespread publicity campaign. 1 am sure that we are all doing our best, by attending naturalization ceremonies in the cities and towns, to encourage these people to become Australian citizens. We are endeavouring to have them accept naturalization in the best possible circumstances. Of course in recent years there has been a decided improvement. We all remember the days when an applicant for naturalization appeared before a Clerk of Petty Sessions or some other court official. He went in to the office not an Australian, signed a document, and came out an Australian; but very few people knew that he had in fact become an Australian. The system of having naturalization ceremonies conducted in more congenial surroundings, with the co-operation of the various councils, has certainly improved naturalization ceremonies.
We may think we have done all that we can do to improve naturalization ceremonies and to encourage people to become Australian citizens; but can we do more? I believe that we probably can. I am quite certain that the publicity campaign that is carried out by the Department of Immigration, sensible and good as it is, is not quite effective enough.
I have seen various posters in offices of the Department of Labour and National Service, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Immigration. Those posters can be seen by people who go into those offices. They ask new Australians to become Australian citizens and inform them of the advantages that will accrue to them when they become Australian citizens. But those posters are not very helpful to the new Australian who does not understand the English language or one of the three other languages in which the posters are printed. Certainly they are no help to the new Australian who has no contact with any of those departments. We should remember that a great many new Australians come to this country and live in their own communities, and in many instances they have very little contact with the average Australian citizen. Therefore, some other approach must be made. I believe that probably the best approach is an extension of the work which is now undertaken by officers of the Department of Immigration.
I know that departmental officers go out into the country and contact new Australians. The officers explain to them the advantages of becoming Australian citizens. I am sure that the Minister will agree with me when I say that we are not doing enough in that respect. The department is contacting only a small number of persons. For example, I do not believe that the department is able to contact all of those people to whom I referred only a few minutes ago, who request naturalization but ultimately do not proceed to the point of being naturalized. Those people should be contacted because they do not always have direct contact with the average Australian citizen.
I agree with the people who, in the past, have contended that the spirit of nationalism has some effect on the rate of naturalization. That applies particularly to people who come to Australia as members of a large family unit. I suppose such people always have an understandable spirit of nationalism. Very often, younger members of the family become Australian citizens; indeed, they make very fine Australian citizens. But in the family unit there is always a spirit of nationalism. Qf course, that is a problem that we, as a Parliament, and the Department of Immigration cannot overcome. Nobody could reasonably expect the department to overcome a problem of that nature.
I have dealt with this point, Mr. Speaker, because I believe that it is the most important one to which we have to direct our attention this year if we are to improve the number - the low number, I suggest - of naturalizations. I believe that that number can be improved, and that we should make every attempt to do so.
It has been said - but I do not subscribe to this point of view - that such things as the housing problem and other social problems affect the rate of naturalization. There are Australians who have difficulty in securing suitable accommodation and there are many returned servicemen who are unable to secure homes through the War Service Homes Division. Australians have these difficulties, and I am sure that some new Australians also experience similar difficulties. But I do not believe that that is the reason which prevents some new Australians from seeking naturalization. The reason goes much deeper than that. While I am probably not in a position to supply *he answer at this stage, I hope that one day the Minister, or a member of his department, will be able to find a solution of this very difficult problem.
T wish to turn now to another aspect of naturalization on which I find myself in disagreement with the Minister and probably with some officers of his department. I refer to the people whose applications for naturalization have been refused. Here again the figures are certainly too high. From figures that have been supplied by the Minister, it can be seen that, in 1951, 103 applications for naturalization were rejected. By 1958, the figure had climbed to 1,312, and in 1959, 2,531 applications for naturalization were rejected. A total number of 8,121 persons have made applications to the Department of Immigration for naturalization and have been refused.
– Since when?
– That is the total number in Australia to date. The figure I have just cited refers to the period from 1st July, 1950, to 30th June, 1960. In the period from 1st July, 1950. to 31st December, 1950, 45 applications were rejected.
– Why were they refused?
– I might be able to enlarge on that point. I think it is extremely important. I do not suggest that all of the persons to whom I have just referred have been refused naturalization because of their association with a peace movement, for example, or because they have taken part in a Labour Day procession, or because they have associated with some political person. Although the Minister has indicated on other occasions that a percentage of the people to whom I have just referred have been refused naturalization because they could not meet the required standard in the English language, or may not have had a complete understanding of what was expected of them as Australian citizens, the fact remains that a large percentage of them have been rejected for the reasons to which 1 have referred. 1 believe that this is a problem to which the Minister will have to give very serious consideration. The fact that over 8,000 people have been refused Australian citizenship is unacceptable to honorable members on this side of the House.
I return now to a point to which 1 referred much earlier. The Minister said, in his second-reading speech, that one of the reasons why he is able to abolish the need to supply three character references is that the information required is always available from other sources. That reason is one which concerns me very greatly.
– What are the other sources?
– I assume that one of the other sources is probably the security service. Let us face the facts, Mr. Speaker. I believe that m some instances the security service submits a report which prevents a person from becoming an Australian citizen. I have already mentioned that character references will no longer be required and I acknowledge that they may have been redundant. Although, as the Minister for Immigration has said, character references may in many instances have been supplied by people who did not know the applicant and who had no knowledge of his previous history, I believe that many of these references have been given by people who had a knowledge of the new Australian citizen and therefore were in a position to testify to his character. These character references should have been measured against the reports supplied by the security service or by some other person or authority who made a report which disparaged the applicant for naturalization. Surely one could have been weighed against the other. However, that will no longer be possible because the Minister will abolish character references entirely. I do not dispute his decision, because many new Australian citizens may have found it difficult to obtain character references for the very reasons which the Minister gave. So we give the Government the benefit of the doubt in this respect.
But the fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that far too many people in this country have been refused naturalization. When I think of this fact, I am reminded of a file in my office which is often described as the “ too difficult “ file. I think that all honorable members and especially the Minister have had experience in these matters and appreciate the situation. We have in Australia to-day 8,000 persons who want to become Australian citizens but are unable to obtain naturalization because some person somewhere in Australia - within the security service or in some other organization - has testified that their character is not all that it should be. 1 believe that some very trivial offence has told against many of these people. As I have already mentioned, all that is held against them may be an association with some political party or participation in a May Day procession.
Surely we in this country are big enough to examine this matter. If the reasons for which naturalization has been refused have not been considered by the Department of Immigration as sufficient to warrant the deportation of an applicant and his return to his country of origin, we should be ready to have another look at the problem. I appeal to the Minister, as others have appealed to him on other occasions, to examine the problem of persons who have been refused naturalization. I am not prepared to accept, and I do not think that any person should be prepared to accept, a report supplied from a certain source as sufficient to prevent a person from becoming an Australian citizen. Under section 21 of the principal act, the Minister can deprive a naturalized person of citizenship rights if he considers that a mistake has been made and that naturalization should not have been granted. I believe that this section provides a safeguard and covers the Minister. So I suggest to him that he reconsider the problem of people who, for one reason or another, have been refused naturalization.
I join with other honorable members on this side of the House in voicing opposition to the procedure which has been adopted in the past and will continue to be adopted, because it deprives more and more people in this country of Australian citizenship as the years go by, solely on the testimony of a report prejudicial to applicants for naturalization - a report against which they have no redress at all. I am sure that the great majority of honorable members, particularly on this side of the House, and probably all honorable members, have made representations to the Minister from time to time concerning rejected applications for naturalization. In every instance in which a person whose application has been refused has had his case put to the Minister by a member of the Parliament, the answer has been that naturalization cannot be granted for a particular reason. The Minister leaves honorable members with the assumption that the reason is a security one, and the applicant has no redress of any kind.
– Is the Minister prepared to allow an honorable member who makes representations in such a case to see the confidential report which has caused naturalization to be refused?
– As I understand the situation, no honorable member has ever seen one of these confidential reports. Even worse, in my opinion, no applicant has ever had any chance of redress against such a report which testifies against his character. I want to make the point that we ought to face up to this problem that to-day there are far too many people who have been refused naturalization in these circumstances. The number increases year by year. Before an immigrant is brought to this country, he is thoroughly investigated by immigration officers overseas. Surely they are in a position to make certain that any immigrant who comes to this country is a fit person to be naturalized.
Having made that” point, Sir, I emphasize again that the Opposition does not oppose this bill. We appreciate the fact that the Minister has in the last three years, including this year, introduced amendments of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1955 which will simplify the process of naturalization. Although we disagree with the Minister on one or two fundamental points, one of which I have discussed this evening, we believe that the Department of Immigration on the whole is doing an extremely fine job and that it is carrying on the fine tradition established under a Labour administration. We can be proud of the fact that we are bringing to this country a steady stream of new Australian citizens. Although we hope that all of them will become naturalized Australian citizens, we appreciate the problems that exist. I think that we ought to be able to find a solution to the particular problem which I have discussed this evening, and I hope that the Minister’s very competent departmental officers will give it their undivided attention.
I conclude by commending the bill to the House, as did the Minister. The Opposition believes that it will ultimately improve the rate of naturalization. Any measure that will improve the naturalization figures to which I have referred the House this evening merits support, and accordingly the Opposition supports this bill.
.- Mr. Speaker, I intend to speak briefly, for three reasons. First, the hour is late. Secondly, the 64-dollar question being asked throughout the lobbies is whether we shall go into recess on 1st December or on 8th December, and I do not intend to cause any delay. Thirdly, this is a non-controversial measure. We on this side of the House are glad that the Government and the Opposition have a bi-partisan outlook on immigration. Since the beginning of the post-war immigration programme in 1945, this outlook has been characteristic. I believe that this characteristic will long remain, for whichever side of politics is in office will have the full support of those in opposition for the immigration programme.
The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) paid tribute to both the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) and the
Department of Immigration, and I wholeheartedly support that tribute. I should like, also, to return the compliment and congratulate the honorable member on his appointment to the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory Council. I am sure that he will do excellent work on that council. As the honorable member for Bass said, this bill is designed to simplify and speed up the rate of naturalization. The rate up to date has been somewhat disappointing. The honorable member for Bass quoted figures to show that about S2.2 per cent, of migrants who have come to this country in the last fifteen years have been naturalized. In round figures, about 255,000 immigrants have been naturalized but about 215,000 who are eligible for naturalization have not taken the step. Admittedly some 43,000 of those people are children under sixteen years of age and they could not apply for naturalization. They could be naturalized only if their parents became naturalized.
The Government has always pursued a policy of assimilation. One means of achieving assimilation is by naturalization. I do not say that that is the only way. A person does not become a different citizen just because he takes an oath of allegiance and renounces his previous allegiance. I know of a person who has been in Australia for 25 years. She is a very fine citizen and has done a lot for Australia; but she has retained her previous nationality. I do not think that she is a worse citizen for that. However, I think the Government is right in encouraging as far as possible the taking of Australian nationality by immigrants who are eligible. We are not hawking Australian nationality. It is something that people should aspire to. We do not want to cheapen Australian nationality by reducing our standards of eligibility. We do not want to make Australian nationality too easy to acquire. After all, naturalization is a big step. How would honorable members feel if they went to a foreign country and were asked to renounce their Australian citizenship? I think they would hesitate for quite a while before accepting the nationality of another country. So I do not think we can say that all migrants who have been here for five years should automatically seek Australian citizen ship. At the same time, the Government is right in encouraging them to seek naturalization. We hold out certain carrots to them to become naturalized. When they become naturalized, they are entitled to the same social service benefits as Australian citizens who have been in the country for many years. They are also entitled to vote.
– What about pensions?
– They are entitled to the same pension as any other person who has been in the country for a similar length of time. I admit that in certain cases they are not entitled to a full pension because they have not been in Australia for a sufficient length of time. They would be in the same position as an Australian who had been abroad for many years and had only recently returned to Australia. Migrants who become naturalized are entitled to an Australian passport. Many of them seek Australian passports when they wish to return to their homeland for a short visit. For one reason or another, they like to go as Australian citizens. Perhaps they feel that if they are not Australian citizens they may be called upon to do military service in the country from which they emigrated.
I recall a case which involved considerable hardship to a person who had neglected to take out Australian citizenship. That person was a German who had come to Australia in the early 1930’s. He married an Australian woman and his children were Australians. Just before the last war, he returned to Germany for what he intended to be a short visit. While he was there war broke out. He was still a German national and, although he did not join the Germany Army, he was immediately regarded by Australia as an enemy alien and all of his property in this country was confiscated. That was a most unfortunate case, which could have been prevented if the man concerned had become an Australian. However, as the law stood the Government had no alternative but to take the action that it took.
The bill is aimed mainly at making compliance with the formalities easier for people who seek Australian nationality. I suppose all honorable members have seen the form of application for naturalization that was formerly used. It may not appear to those of us who were born in this country to be a very formidable document. It is a fourpage document containing a large number of questions, which some people would have difficulty answering. I think that some honorable members would have difficulty in answering some of the questions. For example, an applicant is asked to state the date of birth of his or her mother. Some people would know the answer to that question but many would not. The document has to be signed before a justice of the peace, a police magistrate, a stipendiary magistrate or a commissioner for affidavits. The completion of a document such as that may not present any great difficulty to a person who understands the English language, but it may be quite an ordeal for any person who is not au fait with the English language. Some migrants, particularly elderly people, who have been here for a number of years, can speak English fairly satisfactorily but they have difficulty in writing the language or reading the printed word.
I am glad that the Minister for Immigration has seen fit to scrap this four-page document and to substitute a simpler form of application for naturalization. The new form simply asks the applicant to state his or her name, where and when he or she was born and his or her permanent address. The application must be signed by the applicant. Honorable members should realize that the department still requires all relevant details from applicants, but they are not required without assistance to furnish the details. I have no doubt that formerly some migrants obtained an application form and, after striking trouble in completing it, placed it to one side and forgot all about it. Under the new set-up, migrants who live near a capital city will go to the Department of Immigration office in that city, where an officer will speak to them, obtain their particulars, and fill in the form. If the applicant lives in a country city, he will go to the Commonwealth Employment Office in that city, if no immigration officer is stationed there. If the applicant lives in a country town, he will go to the police station, where the form will be filled in for him,
– You have forgotten something. You said that you would speak for a couple of minutes only.
– I will try to oblige the honorable member by cutting short the rest of my remarks. I have taken so far only ten minutes, whereas the speech of the honorable member for Bass occupied about twenty-five minutes. As I say, the form of application will be greatly simplified. The three certificates of character previously required will not now be required. I am sure all honorable members will realize that this is very definitely a step in the right direction. In the past, some migrants had no difficulty in getting certificates of character. Others possibly were shy and did not like to ask people for such certificates. In other instances, undoubtedly some Australians gave these certificates of character without knowing a person closely and so in many instances the certificates were really quite inaccurate or valueless. The statutory declaration has also been eliminated. This means that a person does not have to find a justice of the peace, a commissioner for affidavits or whatever it is, to sign the form. However, at the same time, if the applicant does make an inaccurate statement, he is just as liable to be taken to court as he was before.
The honorable member for Bass concluded what I thought was an excellent speech by getting on to some rather doubtful ground when he spoke about the refusal or deferment of applications for naturalization. I thought that the honorable member rather led the House to believe that all the 8,000 or so who had been refused had been refused on security grounds.
– No, I made it quite clear that I did not suggest that.
– I must apologize then. I misunderstood the honorable member. My understanding was that he thought that, anyway, the bulk of these were refused on security grounds. I am glad to hear that he did not mean to make such a suggestion, because in fact the number refused on security grounds is very small indeed.
– What is the number?
– If the honorable member for East Sydney will contain himself in patience for a moment, I will give him the number. It is only since 1st
January, 1958, that the Department of Immigration has kept an accurate record of the grounds on which applications for naturalization have been refused. If I give the figures, honorable members will see, of course, that they do not total 8,000, because the 8,000 would be the number from the very beginning of our immigration programme in post-war days. However, in the last two and a half years, just on 4,000 people were refused naturalization on the ground of insufficient knowledge of English. The first requirement when a migrant comes up for naturalization is that he should have a working knowledge of English. I do not think that ar.y honorable member would say that we should automatically naturalize a person who, after five years in this country, has shown that he is still quite unable to cope with the language. I have been present at naturalization ceremonies at which I have thought that one or two of the people being naturalized had an inadequate knowledge of English. However, they had satisfied the requirement. It is only reasonable, therefore, that those who have not even this knowledge of English should be refused naturalization.
In the period of 2i years, 529 applicants failed to comply with the character requirement. Mental incapacity accounted for 184, and lack of residential qualifications for 78. I can see that the honorable member for East Sydney is getting very worried. He is wondering whether I will give the figures that he sought. I can tell him that in the period I mentioned 195 applications have been either refused or deferred on the ground of security. Of those deferred, I think 44 were later accepted. I should think that most honorable members would agree that there should be some security check before a person is naturalized. W all know, for example, that in 1956 there was a tremendous inflow of people into this country from Hungary following the revolution there. Undoubtedly, opportunity has been taken at various times to bring into Australia people who could be regarded as security risks. So, I see nothing wrong in a total rejection of 151 out of 122,000 migrants. In fact, as a member of this House, I should say that unless there were some rejections I should feel that the Department of Immigration and the security service were not doing their job properly.
– Why do you not deport them when’ they are not suitable?
– You will have your chance at a later time if you want to speak on this matter. There is plenty of time.
– If they are found to be security risks-
– I think the figures that I have produced from this very close analysis by the Department of Immigration speak for themselves. It is only correct that people who are doubtful should not receive citizenship until it is known beyond doubt that they will make good citizens of this country. For that reason I entirely support the action that has been taken.
I entirely support the Government in this matter. Undoubtedly, the alteration of the form of application for naturalization will mean that we will have more applicants. I do not think that we should be depressed because we have not had more applications. Just over 50 per cent, have applied for naturalization. We do not want to be depressed because of that fact. The migrants are good citizens and, in the fullness of time, will make their applications to become naturalized citizens of this country.
Debate (on motion by Mr. L. R. Johnson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. WARD (East Sydney) [11.271.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 20
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.32 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
z asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 November 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601124_reps_23_hor29/>.