17th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware of considerable agitation in Queensland, particularly among returned soldiers’ organizations and other public bodies, regarding the policy of the Government regarding the release of ex-enemy prisoners of war and internees ? Will he give an assurance that no exenemy interneeswill be released and that all prisoners of war and persons who have been interned for disloyalty will be deported at the conclusion of the war?
-I have nothing to do with the release of internees. That is a matter for the Department of the Army.
– The general opinion is held, in consequence of statements that have been made, that the releases of internees are made at the discretion of the Minister for the Interior. I. ask the Acting Minister for the Army to state the Government’s policy with regard to the matter.
– The honorable senator should know that the Geneva Convention makes it compulsory for all governments to return prisoners of war to their own lands at the conclusion of hostilities.
– Will the Minister say whether any internees f rom ex-enemy or enemy countries are being released in Australia at present, and, if so, will he state the policy of the Government with regard to such releases?
– There are several categories of these internees. Some are here from the United Kingdom and they are released from time to time to do work of a national character. That is done in consultation with the Home Office. The Government of Great Britain has a liaison officer in Australia. After security measures have been taken proposed releases are submitted for ministerial approval.
– Are ex-enemy internees, whether from Great Britain or elsewhere, who are being released in Australia to do national work released permanently or are theymerely released for certain work and will they be returned to their own countries at the conclusion of the war?
– They are released to do certain jobs under certain restrictions. They are not permanently released.
SenatorCOURTICE.- In view of the evident confusion in the minds of many members of organizations and associations, particularly in Queensland, regarding the treatment of internees, will the Acting Minister for the Army make a statement of the policy of the Government with regard to it?
– I shall endeavour to accede to the honorable senator’s request.
– In view of tie necessity for conserving and utilizing all the water that is available in Australia, will the Minister for the Interior have a survey made of sand-bed schemes throughout the Commonwealth, including both bods that havebeen been tapped and potential beds, with a view to conserving and utilizing the water in the interests of the people ?
– That question is not properly directed tome, because the only parts of the Commonwealth where the water supplies come under the control of my department are the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, it will be directed to the appropriate Minister.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral state whether censorship is exercised by the Postal Department of letters or parcels? I have in my hand the wrapping of a small parcel which was posted in Queensland and delivered in Melbourne. The parcel has been opened by the Censor. Is it the practice of the department to censor small parcels and private letters posted in Queensland or any other State?
– No censorship is exercised bythe Postal Department ; but the Army authorities impose a censorship of postal matter for security reasons. If the honorable senator furnishes particulars of the case which he has in mind, I shall have an explanation supplied to him of the action taken by the authorities.
– This parcel was posted’ in the ordinary way at the Brisbane post office and it was subjected to censorship.
– I have received from Senator McLeay an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the
Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The announced intention of the Government to acquire and operate all interstate airlines “.
– I move -
That the Senate. at its rising, adjourn to Monday next, at 9 a.m.
– Is the motion supported ?
Four honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– I regret that the Postmaster-General (Senator Ashley), one of the champions of free speech, refused, yesterday, at the conclusion of his statement announcing the Government’s policy with regard to civil aviation, to lay the paper on the table and move that it be printed, thus enabling honorable senators to discuss the proposed acquisition by the Government of all interstate airlines. When we hear statements by honorable senators opposite about freedom of speech and find that they refuse to practise what they preach, we and also the public become a little alarmed. If these are the tactics which the Government intends to adopt in this chamber because it has a majority at its command, the only course open to the Opposition is to avail itself of the Standing Orders in order to make an opportunity to discuss matters of vital public importance. I do not intend to read the whole of the statement made yesterday by the Postmaster-General, but I shall quote two of the vital paragraphs. The honorable senator said -
The Government had decided that a wholly government-owned statutory authorityshall be formed to take over, operate and maintain, all interstate airlines. . . .
The assets of present airline companies will be taken over on fair and just terms.
Since that statement was made the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) has said that the Government intends to nationalize the interstate airlines on a permanent basis. In reply to a question he has also indicated that probably -I emphasize that word - a bill will be introduced next year to give effect to the policy of the Government. That, I think, is evidence of further muddling on the part of the Government. I ask the Postmaster-General and other responsible Ministers, what will be the position of the people engaged in this industry, who have rendered a good service to this country in the past?
– They will carry on.
– But we know from past experience that it may he one, two, or three years before the muddlers get a practical plan in operation. The Government is prepared to make a bald statement like that without troubling about the interests of the private companies which have invested millions of pounds in the industry and have entered into commitments overseas. There is no certainty as to when the industry will be taken over and that will add to the transport problems which, to-day, are producing chaotic conditions.
It has been stated by a government spokesman that the Government intends to acquire these services under section 51, placita i and xxxi of the Constitution,, and that it will not be necessary to do so under the defence power. The membersof the Cabinet sub-committee who made a report to Cabinet on this matter were the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley), the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford), and the Minister for Transport (Mr. “Ward). From the statement made it is evident that the Attorney-General has advised that the nationalization of interstate airways can be accomplished under the present constitutional powers. It is amazing to find that the learned doctor, who has had experience on the High Court Bench, is able to give a legal opinion to suit all occasions. During the convention at Canberra, which proposed alterations to the Constitution, he said, definitely, that under the Constitution as it stood it would be impossible, six months after the war, for the Commonwealth to nationalize these services. Yet, when we find that clamour and agitation come from the extreme elements in the Australian Labour party, which dictates the policy of the Government, the Attorney-General is able to change his views to convince the Government that it has the necessary legal power to nationalize interstate airlines. Section 51 of the Constitution provides -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States.
The acquisition of property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws.
When uniform taxation was proposed in this Parliament, the High Court held that the Parliament had power to implement the scheme apart from the defence power, and the Attorney-General has advised that that procedure could be adopted. I do not intend to deal with other legal aspects of the problem, but I suggest to the Government that there will be a serious reaction on the part of a large section of the people to this announcement of government policy.
The decision announced yesterday runs counter to the promise of the Prime Minister prior to the recent referendum. The right honorable gentleman then made it clear that the Government would not seize the opportunity to nationalize industries during war-time. Honorable senators will, I think, agree that a majority of the electors indicated with no uncertainty that they were opposed to the nationalization of industry, and therefore it comes as a shock-
– To the moneybags.
– Nonsense! The majority of the people of this country are firmly convinced that the system under which initiative and enterprise are rewarded has proved successful over a long period, and ensures greater efficiency than is possible under socialism or any system of nationalization of industry. As the people indicated their view so recently, I regret that the Government should now announce a revolutionary policy, in order to placate the “ left “ wing of the Labour movement. Such apolicy, if given effect, cannot but do a great deal of harm. Last week, in the House ofRepresentatives the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde), and this week in the Senate the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Ashley) emphasized the seriousness of the man-power problem, and the importance to Australia of everything being done to ensure a maximum war effort. This recent announcement will cause dissatisfaction and disunity throughout the country. I assure the Government that the people of Australia who are opposed to socialism will not sit down and accept this decision without protest. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the following statement of policy made by the Prime Minister on (he 1st August, 1944: -
It would be stupid for the Government to embark on production in a field already adequately catered for by private enterprise merely for the satisfaction of competing. The only circumstances in which the Government is likely to do this is where there is good reason to. believe that the private firms concerned are exploiting a monopolistic position to extort from Australian consumers unfair prices and inflated profits. . . The Government recognizes that while there is a place for the expansion of public enterprise in industry, it must look in the post-war period primarily to private enterprise. . . .
The companies which have pioneered civil aviation in this country have rendered splendid service. Notwithstanding the great distances that their machines have flown, their safety record compares favorably with that of any other companies in the world. During the war the Government has exercised to the full its right to tax the profits of such companies, with the result that they have contributed substantially to the revenue, and they can be controlled along similar lines in the future. In some instances the Government has paid subsidies to these companies for the carriage of mails. A comparison of the fares charged to passengers who travel by air in government-owned machines between Sydney and New Zealand with the charges by private companies reveals that the latter can provide transport at cheaper rates. The action of the Government in treating in so cavalier a fashion men who have shown initiative and enterprise in aviation matters will be a bad advertisement for Australia. Recently, the Government invited manufacturers to submit proposals for the manufacture of complete motor cars in this country. Now it has announced its intention to take the first step towards implementing its policy of nationalization of industry. The Government has set out on a short-sighted policy, because in the post-war period Australia will need a big influx of immigrants of the right kind. After the war a young country like Australia should be able to attract immigrants from Britain, America and other countries, as well as people who will be prepared to invest their money in enterprises in this country so long as they are convinced that they will be treated fairly. After the decisive referendum vote, these people would have been justified in believing that a policy of nationalization of industries would not be followed in Australia. I am convinced that many of them will refuse to take the risk of establishing industries in Australia, so long as there is in office a government intent on giving effect to a socialist policy.
I shall not relate to the Senate the history of government enterprise in various other countries, but I shall draw attention to what has happened in Australia. I challenge honorable senators supporting the Government to prove that an enterprise can be run as economically and efficiently by a government as by private enterprise. In this connexion, I cite the splendid record of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I should not he astonished if, in the not distant future, the Acting Prime Minister were to announce that the Government had decided to assume control of the activities now managed by that company, because not long ago, the right honorable gentleman told representatives of the Australian Labour party that as soon as the Government had a majority in both Houses of the Parliament the best thing that it could do would be to nationalize the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. Limited. I can only say that if the right honorable gentleman were to display the same ability in directing the affairs of that huge organization as he has shown in his control of the Army, it would be a sorry day for Australia. It is impossible for inexperienced and incompetent Ministers to make a success of any huge undertaking of which they know nothing. The policy of the Government is that, regardless of efficiency, men in charge of government undertakings shall be members of the Australian Labour party. A second point on which the Government has insisted is that the employees of such undertakings must be unionists. A further plank of its platform is that the management may not dismiss any one, as such action would be an affront to the trade union movement. The Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt), who before entering politics was a member of the High Court Bench, now issues instructions that the laws of the land are not to be enforced against coal-miners and other unionists, although it is the policy of the Government to enforce the law against the owners of coal mines, and other employers. Such an interpretation of the laws of the country will not encourage people with money to invest it in Australian industries.
The Opposition is taking the first opportunity that has presented itself to say that it is diametrically opposed to the nationalization of aviation, and. it urges the Government to reflect on the chaos which will arise from its announcement, particularly the effect it will have on organizations which have entered, into commitments overseas in order to provide an efficient air service in the post-war period. As an example of what may be expected from governmentcontrolled enterprise, I cannot do better than point to what has occurred in the shipping industry. A previous Commonwealth Government decided to establish its own shipping line, and claimed that by so doing it would cheapen freights and provide a more efficient service. But the results did not justify that claim. On the contrary, the losses to the Commonwealth amounted to over £11,000,000. When it was decided to dispose of the line, that government-controlled enterprise was operating at a loss of £500,000 a year.
– The Government had not yet been paid for those vessels.
– That question does not arise at this stage. My point is that the line operated at a loss. Senators Grant and Large, who claim to be international socialists, think that by the socialization of industries a cheaper and more efficient service can be provided.
The honorable senators are not prepared to be convinced by facts. I remind them of what happened in connexion with various enterprises undertaken by the Queensland Government between 1915 and 1929. Honorable senators would do well to read the report of the AuditorGeneral of that State, in which he set out the losses of various State undertakings as follows: -
That is the sorry story of the various industries which were taken over by the Labour Government in Queensland. Surely that experience, which has been repeated in New South Wales and in other States under Labour administrations, should be sufficient warning to this Government. What has been the experience of the Victorian Government as the owner of the coal mine at Wonthaggi? After being nationalized for a period of eleven years, that mine has cost the taxpayers of Victoria more than £1,000,000 in losses. When discussing these losses on one occasion the Minister for Mines in that State said, “ When the mine is working our department is losing £3,000 a week, but while it is idle the department loses only £1,000 a week”. In 1940 that mine was idle on 116 days owing to the miners being on strike. A similar story must be related with regard to the State-owned mine at Lithgow, in New South Wales. The price of coal supplied by that mine is higher than that of coal supplied from any other mine in the district. During the last four years the mine has shown a profit in only one year, whilst the year before last its losses exceeded £16,000.
During the recent referendum campaign the States indicated that they were prepared to give to the Commonwealth full control over interstate air traffic, but, at the same time, they indicated that they would fight to the last ditch any idea of. nationalization of air services. I regret that this Government has announced its decision in this matter in such a clumsy way, and with no regard whatever to the interests of those companies which have rendered so great a service to this country. In addition, the Government’s decision is a bad advertisement for Australia overseas. I have no doubt that when the Government actually assumes control of these airlines the people will not receive any benefit by way of cheaper freights, or better services, but that this venture will have as sorry a record as that of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers and the other State enterprises which I have mentioned. Therefore on behalf of the Opposition, I protest against the Government’s decision in this matter. At a time when it should be concentrating upon the war effort, it has seized the opportunity presented by war conditions to implement its party’s socialistic policy.
– At the outset, I express my appreciation of the pronouncement which has been made on behalf of the Government to place all civil aviation under national control. I believe that if our war experience has proved anything at all, it has proved the necessity for national control of not only aviation but also all essential services. When war was declared in September, 1939, we found ourselves in a position similar to that in which we were placed when war was declared in 1914. There was no form of centralized control of essential services. We had divided control and conflicting authority, with the result that what the Government required desperately and urgently for the protection of the country was not forthcoming from private enterprise, until the Government itself stepped in and enforced the necessary measure of national control. What happened when we declared war on this occasion? For all practical purposes we enforced national control of civil aviation. That had to be done. We considered that that course would be economical and safer; and as it Has proved to be so in time of war, it follows, obviously, that the same will be the case in time of peace. An enormous waste of man-power and materials occurs when several companies are competing against one another. That man-power and material could, and should, be used to much better advantage. When the Leader of the Opposition was speaking an honorable senator interjected, “ What about the Post Office ? “ Does the Leader of the Opposition, or any other honorable senator, suggest that the post offices should be controlled by private companies ? Would they suggest, that control of the post offices by private enterprise would be a better proposition than the present system of control of post offices?
– The records of the industries to which I referred prove that private enterprise is superior to government control in industry.
– If that were se, I could imagine the honorable senator and his colleagues demanding that the post offices be handed over to private enterprise. Where experience has proved that national control is the safest and most economical proposition, that form of control is obviously the best. Insofar as the post offices are concerned, the advocates of private enterprise have made a virtue of necessity. If there is one ‘ service more than another which should be controlled by the Government, it is transport. The Commonwealth Government should control all railways. I remind honorable senators opposite tha t the late Lord Kitchener recommended in 1912 that the Commonwealth should take over control of all railways in this country, and should standardize railway gauges. Had that been done, we should now be in a much better position to prosecute our war effort. The Leader of the Opposition has referred to the waste which he contends is inseparable from government control. Imagine the enormous waste involved in the break of gauges ! Imagine the waste which would result if private companies, operating different machines and lacking spare parts and the necessary workshops, were running airlines all over the country, primarily in order to make profit, with the idea of rendering public services as a secondary consideration only. Imagine the chaotic position that would arise should the control of civil aviation by private enterprise be continued. This matter is being considered in other countries. For example, the Government of the United States of America, whilst it is not prepared to go so far as this Government has decided to go, has in mind the position which is likely to arise from control of civil aviation by private enterprise. I quote the following from U.S. Air Services of April, 1944, under the caption, “ American Airlines Purchases Control of American Export Airlines
Mr. Coverdale. president of AmericanExport Lines, said, “ By this agreement we believe our company complies fully with the order of the C.A.B., calling for definite divestment of control of the airlines by the steam- ship parent company.
The American Government foresees the danger of control of civil aviation by private monopolies. It sees the danger of a number of companies already engaged in transport gaining complete control of civil aviation. The Civil Aviation Board in the United States of America has said that it is prepared to allow aviation companies to merge provided that railway companies are not allowed to control civil aviation. Thus the Government of the United States of America foresees the danger in that direction. A similar stand has been taken in this matter by the Canadian Government. I quote thefollowing from Aeronautics of May, 1944-
Canadian railways are not to be allowed to have any monopoly of aerocarriage services, and are to be required to divest themselves of their ownership so that within a year after the end of the war Canadian aerocarriage may be entirely separate from surface transport.
Thus the Canadian Government is taking steps to ensure that monopoly control will not be established in such a way as to enable railway, or shipping, companies to absorb existing aviation companies. I have the best of reasons for believing that behind the opposition to national control of civil aviation in this country is the intention of Australian shipping companies to gain control of civil aviation. The existing civil aviation companies, such as Australian National Airways, Ansett, Qantas, and Guinea Airways, ostensibly are not concerned from that point of view. The study of the share holdings of those companies reveals that the shipping companies already have a lot to say in the management of our services. Should monopoly control of civil aviation be permitted, we should have one transport company controlling shipping and aviation in this country. That is an explanation of the opposition to the Government’s decision. It would he highly undesirable to allow such a state of affairs to arise. Private monopoly control means that thosebehind the scenes have the right to say whether or not an industry shall be carried on, and, if so, under what conditions.Where a monopoly controls the essential services of a country, the community generally must be prepared to accept the terms laid down by it, or go without the service. A community would have to accept whatever service a civil aviation monopoly provided, and the Government would have no say in the matter. War-time as well as peace-time experience has proved conclusively that if we are to have safety, efficiency and security in every direction, we must have control by a government which is directly responsible to the people for whom the services are provided.
– This is a proposal of ownership, not control.
– When I speak of control, I mean ownership as well, because without ownership there can be no control. Senator McLeay made the general and sweeping statement that government departments cannot be conducted as efficiently and economically as enterprises controlled by private companies. The Beaufort division of aircraft production has proved beyond all doubt in the results achieved and the costs incurred, assessed in terms either of money or of economics, that public control of departments, where the managerial and working staffs are under the direction of the Government, has left private companies miles behind.
– But no private companies are making aeroplanes in Australia.
– The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation is a private company, so is the De Havilland organization and there are 600 contractors in addition, all associated with the production of aeroplanes. The De Havilland company ‘builds the Tiger Moth, the Dragon and the Mosquito, and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation builds the “Wirraway. It has also done a great deal of experimental work; it has built the Boomerangs, and is now building Mustangs. The Beaufort division has built the Beaufort Bomber, TOO of which have been produced without one serious accident and without a strike. That is something which cannot be said by private companies. The Beaufort fighter is now coming off the line much more quickly than machines being manufactured by private companies which started twelve months ahead of the Beaufort division. Had the Commonwealth Government relied entirely upon ^private companies for production of aircraft we should have been in a very sorry state. Included in the Beaufort division are government workshops in three States - ‘Chullora in New South Wales, Newport in Victoria, and Islington in South Australia. These are most modern workshops with the most modern machinery, and in them technicians and other employees are doing splendid work - better than is being done by private companies. Senator McLeay would have us believe that government control of departments is not as efficient or economic as private control, but my reply is that the evidence is against him. What applies to aircraft production applies also to the Post Office. Speaking for the Government I am satisfied that it lias taken a step in the right direction which should have been taken long before the war. Most of the private aviation companies would have gone out of existence long ago but for government subsidies. Under government control we should have, in my judgment, the best planes procurable for the purpose, the best workshops that could be provided to build planes, and a greater degree of safety from the point of view of defence than we would have under private enterprises. If peace with Japan were declared to-morrow, it does not follow that it would endure for all time. In fact all the evidence goes to show that such a peace would simply be an uneasy armistice for a year or two. If Japan and other Axis countries were able to organize their resources again, another war would be inevitable. In these circumstances, everything points to the fact that Australia must become a bastion of the Pacific. It is therefore our responsibility’ as a government to see that we have at our disposal the best available machines for air transport and air defence, and we should not leave the provision of them to private companies, which, as I said before, are much more interested in accumulating profits than in giving efficient service. If it proves anything at all, war proves that profits and efficiency will not run to best advantage in double harness.
If I may digress for a moment, Senator McLeay directed attention to the coalmines. I venture to say that had the enormous profits which have been made from the mining of coal, or even 50 per cent, of them, been used to make the mines as safe as they could, be made - almost as safe as underground railways - and if the mines had been worked as systematically as they could be worked, there would be very little trouble in the industry to-day.
– Does that apply to the Wonthaggi mine in Victoria?
– Yes, and I shall tell the honorable senator why in a minute. But profits were not appropriated for the purpose of making the mines safer, keeping equipment up to date, and making it easier for men to mine coal. They were used to buy racehorses for the late Mr. John Brown and to provide luxury facilities of all kinds. The overhead charges which exist to-day were increased and equipment was withheld. The result of the policy in the coal mining industry here and abroad has been that, not only the mines in Australia but also those of allied countries generally have not been able to meet the greater demands brought about by the war. The Organization was simply not there to meet the emergency, because the undertakings had been run primarily for profit. As that applies to the coal mines so it applies to civil aviation. At Wonthaggi, about which the Leader of the Opposition asked me a question there has not been a strike of any importance during the war. There may have been one or two stop-work meetings, but under sympathetic government control, the men have worked as hard as they possibly could work. The honorable senator may say, “ Look at the cost “.but what does that amount to?
– The cost does not matter to this Government, because its theory is to print money.
– It does matter to me, because I do what I do not think that honorable senators of the Opposition are capable of doing - I try to understand the position. Costs may be divided into two categories, the monetary and the economic. The monetary costs as expressed in terms of the depreciated currency which we inherited from previous governments may appear high, but the economic cost to-day is no more than it was years ago. It includes the food, clothing, shelter, and amenities of the miners while they are working. The miners are not eating or wearing any more than they did before, and they are not enjoying more amenities. What is true of Wonthaggi is true also of Lithgow. I think we can showbeyond doubt that the economic cost of production under the control of private companies, which have different premises and different plants, is always high. Private control results in chaos and confusion, and when war comes privatelycontrolled industries are always in the state of unpreparedness. It was so in the last great war and it is so in this war. We have had to do in. Australia in a comparatively few months work that overseas countries were able to spread over several years. Are we going to make the same mistake after this war that was made after the last? Are we going to say to private enterprise, “ Here, run the whole business’ of the country exactly as you wish “, and so, if another war comes find ourselves unprepared? Or shall we benefit from experience, which has proved in the case of civil aviation and other essential services that the greater the measure of ownership and control exercised by the Government, the greater the measure of efficiency, economy, and safety?
.- The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) discussed, principally, the nationalization of coal mines. He got right away from the tragic announcement which the Government has made of its intention to acquire the whole of the airlines of Australia and conduct them as a government enterprise. Nothing that the Government could have done could do more damage to great and progressive organizations than the announcement madeby the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) yesterday. It has thrown all the aviation organizations and their employees into a state of confusion. Civil aviation in Australia, which has made such rapid progress during recent years, has been dealt a stunning blow. I have heard it said by honorable senators on both sides of the chamber that Australia has exceptional opportunities for the development of air services, and that the people of this country are air-minded; but the Government can hardly realize the damage that will be done to civil aviation by announcing in this bald fashion that all the airline’s of the country are to be nationally controlled under a system of socialization.
Foremost among those who have pioneered civil aviation was the late Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, whose name will never be forgotten. His great work was carried on as a result of his own initiative, and that of , the men associated with him. Sir Ross Smith and Sir Keith Smith were not government servants. They set out on their own account to blaze an air trail from England to Australia. A similar remark is applicable to Bert Hinkler, Charles Ulm and other pioneer aviators. I recall the fine work done for Australia by civil aviation companies, such as that which inaugurated the service in the far west of Queensland, where a few pastoralists formed a small company and opened up the outback country for air travel west of Longreach. That company is now linked up with Empire Airways Limited, but it started from a humble beginning and received very little government assistance. Its success was due to the foresight and enterprise of those who were prepared to risk their money and their lives in establishing it. A similar story can be told of Ansett Airways, and of Australian National Airways, which was formerly known as Airlines of Australia. What have these companies done to deserve to be made the victims of socialization? A book is being written at present by an Australian journalist regarding the activities of the civil aviation companies of this country, and the assistance that they have rendered to Australia during the war. I regret that it is not yet completed, for it will tell a story of remarkable accomplishments of these companies, with their own machines and pilots. Paratroops were transported to New Guinea in the aircraft of these companies, and their planes were also used in rescue work when the Japanese first landed in New Guinea. Great bravery was displayed by the pilots of those machines. It is outrageous that the Government should have succumbed to the pressure of the extreme elements in its party to start out on its socialistic programme by acquiring control of civil aviation.
The railway systems of Australia, in many cases, have not been operated so satisfactorily under government control as they could have been under private control. Hundreds of miles of railway lines have been built in Australia to serve political purposes rather than to meet the essential needs of the community. We all are aware of the bungling that occurred when government control of road transport was introduced. My colleagues and 1 recall the bungling and disputes over the change of control in Queensland, and that has occurred throughout the Commonwealth where the Government has interfered with road transport.
Within a few years, comfortable air travel has been provided from one coast of the United States of America to the other, and there has been similar progress in Great Britain. Civil aviation companies have also erected some of the greatest monuments to private enterprise that we have in Australia.
Honorable senators are aware of the excellent services that the private companies have established throughout Australia. Tasmania is under a great debt of gratitude for the service established by the Holyman Company. One member of that company gave his life, when flying from Tasmania to the mainland, during the pioneering days of that service.
The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) remarked that, had it not been for government control at the outbreak of the war, these companies would not have been able to carry on. It is necessary in time of war for the Government to exercise a certain degree of control over private industry, but in time of peace it should not continue to act as though the country were still at war. Reference has been made to the vote cast at the recent referendum. The overwhelming vote of the people in opposition to the proposals of the Government on that occasion was due to fear on the part of the people that socialistic control would be exercised over industry.
The great organizations which the Government now threatens with socialistic control will not accept its decision lying down. I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I know that the right of the Government to take this action will be challenged before the highest tribunals in the Empire. Litigation over the matter will extend probably over a year or more, at a time when other countries will be developing their aviation services, and Australia’s post-war schemes will be in the melting pot at this vital period. Is it the policy of the Government to eliminate all business competition, and have, say, only one baker and one butcher in every suburb? Is the socialistic principle of the elimination of competition to be applied to industry after industry? I remember when the Labour party was opposed to monopolistic control. Will the Government hand over the control of internal air transport to one department?
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) referred to State enterprises in Queensland, but he told only a part of the story. Government enterprises in that State were such great f ailures that, despite the fact that Labour has remained in office there for many years, it has never attempted to establish further State enterprises in any form.
– The internal airlines are to be taken over on fair and just terms.
– How could the Government recoup men on fair and just terms for their initiative and desire to expand civil aviation? Is it to be a crime in future to wish to establish great enterprises such as airlines? The Minister for Aircraft Production referred to the benefits of nationalization of the coal industry, but I remind the Senate that since certain coal mines in New Zealand have been nationalized their output has decreased, and the cost of production has increased. I am informed that that dominion is in the same position as Australia with regard to coal supplies. The industry is being held to ransom by a handful of men, and the worst conditions are experienced in the State-owned mines. In Queensland the greatest loss of production occurs in the mines owned by the Government of that State.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Courtice). - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I welcome the decision, of the Government to nationalize the airways of Australia, because it is the policy of the party of which I am a member, and not because, as has been suggested in the press and by honorable senators opposite, it is a victory for the more radical element in the party, but because it is the decision of the more conservative section and is in the interests of this country. I am pleased that the decision has been made so early in the history of aviation. When we remember that only a little more than 30 years have elapsed since the first flight was made from the continent of Europe to Great Britain, and that the white settlement of Australia began only a little move than 150 years ago, the decision is a wise one. Honorable senators opposite have criticised the Government for its decision, and have claimed that it will retard the development of aviation in Australia. I ask them to study the history of the development of transport throughout the world. The history of sea-going transport is a story of the continued payment of subsidies to shipping companies. I remind those who speak highly of the achievements of private enterprise that the great shipping combines of the world have been heavily subsidized by various governments in order to induce them to render service to the community. What would be the position of railway transport in Australia had not the railway services been nationalized in the early history of this country? There would have been no great developmental railways had this form of transport been left to private enterprise. Who can measure in terms of money the value to the Australian community of the developments which have resulted from the building of railways? Private enterprise would never have constructed railways into the wheat-growing districts of Victoria.
– There are some political railways in Australia.
– That may be. The construction of such railways is evidence of the kind of politician who got into power and acted in the interests of individuals, rather than of the community. Had it not been for government enterprise, the States would be suffering to-day from lack of railway communications. Would honorable senators opposite who object to the nationalization of Australian airways say that transport facilities in Australia would have been better to-day had the construction of railways been left to private enterprise?
– It would have been the best thing that could have happened.
– I ask the honorable senator to consider what the position of Western Australia would have been had the construction of railways been left to private enterprise. Would there have been a transAustralian railway in those circumstances? I remind him that the profit motive would have been the deciding factor. We should congratulate ourselves that so early in the development in this new form of transport the Government has decided that it shall be owned and controlled in the interests of the people. In various
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- This socialistic bombshell presages Labour’s intention to ignore the principle of civic liberties. It discloses that Labour’s left wing has had a win by entirely ignoring the voice of the people at the recent referendum. The claim may be made that because the railways are government controlled, air transport also should be under government control. Are our railways more efficient and more up to date than the privately-owned railways in Great Britain and the United States of America ? The answer is “ No “, and the reason isthat land transportin those two countries is competitive. Competition is the spur towards efficiency. It keeps down fares and freights. In Britain and the United States of America, airlines are privately owned, just as they are at present in Australia. If the Government, after the last war, had owned and controlled our civil airlines, would these services have been in such a position to take up at short notice the splendid role they have performed in the defence of Australia? The answer is “No”. In 1921 the Government created the Civil Aviation Department, which was restricted to the framing and policing of regulations for air travel. It left to private enterprise the purchase of suitable planes for this modern form of transportation. The consequence was that airline companies were formed. Returned Air Force personnel of the 1914-18 war were the pioneers. True, a government subsidy was paid annually for the carriage of mails. There is nothing unusual about that. All over Australia tenders are accepted annually from persons who, in addition to their other avocations, are willing to carry His Majesty’s mails. The accepted tender is in the nature of a subsidy for performing a government service. Now, when these pioneers of air travel have passed the swaddling-clothes stage, and the fruits of their labour, with the attendant risks, are about to be plucked, the Government steps in and says it will arbitrarily take over the services. A cash payment will not compensate able and competent men experienced in Australian aviation. Some of our young pilots serving with the Royal Australian Air Force have decided to stay in England. Others who intend to pursue a career in aviation are not likely to be attracted by the prospect of working for a socialist government monopoly at home, when great chances offer in the free competition of flying enterprises overseas.If this is a fairsample of the Commonwealth’s future attitude towards successful industries, a disastrous prospect lies before us. Why has civil aviation in this country been so successful? Millions of miles have been flown with the minimum loss of life. The answer is that initiative has had full play, the administration has been efficient and free from political interference. These attributes of success will gradually disappear when the Government takes control. Over head charges will mount up, for which the taxpayer will have to foot the bill. The Postmaster-General’s Department is often quoted as a successful government undertaking. Why should it not be? It has no rent or municipal taxes to pay, neither does the department pay income or land tax. It has no competitors and adds1½d. to our penny postage, making our rate higher than that of any other country.
It might be said that the Government, during this war, has expended thousands of pounds of public money in improving pre-war aerodromes and providing subsidiary ones, and therefore is entitled to take over complete control of the whole of our civil aviation. That does not logically follow. These airline companies could pay dues for the use of these airfields in the same manner as our shipping companies pay harbour and wharfage dues. The larger aerodromes are strategic air bases from which the Royal Australian Air Force will ordinarily operate. There is no valid reasons for nationalizing civil aviation, which is a commercial business for the faster transportation of persons and goods. The Government has no mandate for this step towards socialization. True, it was returned with a majority in both Houses at the last election, but its majority was due to the failure of another government to maintain unity. The people decided to make a change for the effective prosecution of the war. The strong position in which the Labour party finds itself to-day is in no way due to its party platform. Nationalization of industry was hardly referred to during the last election campaign. The electors said, in effect, “Let us give Labour’s war policy a chance. Labour has done fairly well so far “.
Nationalization of aviation, or any other activity, is not part of our war effort. Indeed, when that issue was put before the electors at the recent referendum, the electors promptly turned it down. It is not too late for the Government to reconsider its decision in this matter and to resolve to confine itself to governing the country without meddling in business.Within a stone’s throw of each other, at Fishermen’s Bend, are situated the factory of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, which is controlled by private enterprise, and that of the Department of Aircraft Production. I have many “ digger “ friends in both of those factories, and in conversations with them I am astounded to learn of the disparity between the efficiency of those works. I invite the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) to put aside party politics for the moment, and to join me in conversation with those people. If he does, he will learn which of those establishments is the more efficient, and which is producing the better quality material. I need hardly say that he would find me backing the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation; and I have no fear that I would have a very good win.
– I applaud the declaration made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr Forde) and the Acting Leader of the Senate (Senator Ashley) with respect to the Government’s intention to take over control of airways in this country. I make no apology for the Government’s decision in this matter. I am not the least surprised at the attitude adopted by honorable senators opposite. I remind them that the Government’s decision rests largely on defence considerations. Its primary purpose in taking over control of interstate airlines is directly linked with the defence policy of this country. I am reminded of a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin) in Fremantle in 1937, when he was Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament. He then told the people of Australia that the only way in which this country could be adequately defended was by establishing a modern and adequate air force.
– That statement was not well founded at the time.
– It was. The honorable senator is associated with a party which at that time took the view that the only way in which we could adequately defend this country was by relying upon the British Navy. That view was expressed by the then Minister for Defence in this Parliament. He pooh-poohed the statement made by the present Prime Minister to which I have referred, in which my leader warned the people of Australia of the necessity for national control of air services in the interests of the defence of this country. That statement was prophetic, and the truth of it has now been proved.
– The Opposition party which he led at that time would not agree to vote sufficient money to the Government of the day to enable it to establish an adequate air force.
– That is not so. When the present Prime Minister assumed office, he promptly did the work which the party supported by the honorable senators opposite had failed to do during many years of office. Therefore, all this talk about the referendum decision is beside the point. We must consider this matter in a practical way. Honorable senators opposite claim that because private enterprise has developed air transport in this country its control of civil aviation should be sacrosanct and that no other system of control should be introduced in that sphere.
– Western Australia has good cause to be grateful for private enterprise in civil aviation.
– I do not deny that fact. Indeed, the people of this country as a whole are grateful to private enterprise for its achievement in that sphere; but that is no reason why private enterprise should be allowed to establish monopolistic control of any branch of transport.
– It is not monopolistic control.
– If the honorable senator examines the links between the various existing civil aviation companies he will soon satisfy himself on that point.
I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition, who is so solicitous for the interests of private enterprise and contends that government control of transport inherently involves waste, should examine the record of government assistance to private enterprise in the sphere of civil aviation. He will find that since 1932-33 the Commonwealth Government has paid subsidies to civil aviation companies amounting to more than £3,000,000. Therefore, the contention of honorable senators opposite that we must not interfere with private enterprise is so much hypocrisy. What they describe to-day as private enterprise will, to-morrow, be monopolistic private enterprise, which is something entirely different. In the prosecution of the war this government and its predecessors have had to expend millions of pounds of the people’s money throughout Australia in providing landing strips, aerodromes and buildings, as well as the necessary instruments to detect the approach of enemy planes. All that has been done as the result of war necessities, but are we to scrap all that expenditure when the war is over, or make a nice little gesture to the private aircraft interests, saying to them, “ Hero you are, old chaps, here is a nice little nest-egg of commodities which will be most useful to you in the future conduct of your industry “?
– Why not enter into competition with the existing airways ?
– There is no need to do so. The conduct of transport by air, road, rail and sea is the prerogative of the Government, and not of private interests. If Western. Australia had to rely on private enterprise for the opening up of its lands by means of railways, the State would not be known at the present time. That applies also to other States. We have been told that the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers at the time of its sale was showing a loss of £11,000,000 to the people of Australia. We were not told that the ships were not sold but practically given away. Australia has not yet been paid even the small sum which was charged for them. Senator McLeay did not mention that when the ships were run by the Government it was charging £7 10s. a ton freight on Australian wheat, as against £13 a ton charged by the shipping interests.
– That is entirely wrong.
– The honorable senator cannot laugh that off, even though he says it is wrong. The producers of Australia were “ sold ‘’ by the Bruce - Page Government when it sold those ships, because the line was maintaining a reasonable freight charge on Australian products us against the rates which were then charged and which have subsequently been charged by the shipping ring which fixes freight rates on the Australian coast. The Government is not bound to look at a project such as the control of civil aviation simply from the point of view of those whose financial interests are concerned. We must look at it having in mind the best interests of the whole of the people. As regards the ability of government-owned and controlled concerns to pay their way, in nearly every case where State instrumentalities have been shown to be unprofitable it will be found that the cause was unsympathetic management. I can point to State-owned concerns which have not been unprofitable. An outstanding instance is the post and telegraph services.
– That is a monopoly.
– That interjection is an example of how honorable senators opposite misunderstand the word “ monopoly “, which to my mind simply means financial control by an aggregation of individuals who are out for their own profits. Government instrumentalities are concerned mainly, not about profits, but about giving the best of service to the citizens.
– The Government uses the postal department for collecting revenue.
– The people could not get cheaper facilities than they do from the Australian postal service. If the department were handed over to private enterprise the public would have to pay much higher rates than they do now, without getting so good a service. Opposition senators say that if air transport be made a government instrumentality, we shall willy-nilly repeat the alleged history of all government-owned and controlled instrumentalities, a prediction which can be completely disregarded. They also tell us that only people with certain political affiliations will be employed, and that nobody could be “sacked”. That sort of talk is getting down to the school-boy level, because all government instrumentalities in Australia are subject to the control of arbitration courts.
– But nobody gets the “ sack ! “
– That is not correct, because in hundredsof cases, over the years, as a union secretary, I had to fight to get work for men who were “sacked” from government employment, some justly and some unjustly. One matter to which every consideration is given by a government concern, but which is often ignored by private concerns, is the provision of amenitiesfor the employees. Private companies provide amenities only when they are directed to do so by some competent authority.
– The honorable senator is quite unfair.
– I am not unfair. I am speaking of facts as I know them from a long industrial experience.
.- We have heard some extraordinary statements from honorable senators opposite, but Senator Sheehan let the cat out of the bag when he said that the moderates had caused the adoption of this scheme to nationalize the airways of Australia. If that be so, God help Australian industry, because this is the first wedge to be driven into private enterprise which hasdone so much for Australia in the past. I am sure that this move has come not from the moderates but from the radicals in the Government party. No doubt the tail has wagged the dog, probably, I am sorry to say, in the absence of the Leader of the Government (Mr. Curtin), and the moderates have not had a say. The proposal to nationalize the airways, as several speakers on this side have pointed out, is an absolute injustice to those who have developed aviation in Australia. They had to start an industry which was new only 30 years ago. They began with obsolete machines and had to face the prejudice of people who were opposed to flying. They won through, and reached the stage where they were doing developmental work and doing it well. Now these services are tobe taken out of their hands by the Government. It has been pointed out that all attempts by governments in the past to nationalize industries have been total failures. Senator Nash made some of the most extraordinary statements that 1 have ever listened to, particularly in regard to the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers.I was a member of the Bruce-Page Government that sold these ships. Senator Nash has the hand-book issued by the Labour party about twenty years ago, containing statements which are absolutely incorrect. I can prove that the honorable senator was quite wrong in saying that wheat was carried by the Commonwealth line for £7 10s. a ton whereas the private shipping companies charged £13 a ton. As a matter of fact the freights of the private companies and the Australian Commonwealth line were exactly the same. There was never a shilling difference between them. The Commonwealth line had a great opportunity. It had available to it the whole of the shipping of the Australian coast. The available cargo amounted to 6,000,000 tons annually, yet the government ships carried only 4,000 tons of it. Is it any wonder that the line showed a loss? It carried only 2 per cent. of Australia’s wheat overseas. We sold the ships for £1,900,000, and it is true that they have not been paid for, but the prevention of further losses more than paid for the ships. It was a really good deal, and it took only three years to save the country the amount involved. The Commonwealth line and the private shipping companies were working hand in hand, and the operations of the government ships did not affect by one iota the cost of freight between Australia and Great Britain. As a matter of fact, one would have thought that the Commonwealth line would have carried some passengers round the coast of Australia - and there was a fair number of passengers in those days - but the total number which those ships carried was only3 per cent. of the whole.
– They were not allowed to carry interstate passengers.
– They could have carried them.
– Why did not the government of which the honorable senator was a member make sure that the ships did carry them?
– Because the Commonwealth ships could not compete. The ships were on the Australian register, and the reason why they could not carry the passengers was obvious, and is, I have no doubt, well known to honorable senators opposite. Reference was made by Senator Nash to the subsidies paid to the aviation companies. They certainly were paid, but £30,000 or thereabouts is being paid annually to Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited to carry mails to Tasmania, and £100,000 or more is paid to the Orient Line of Steamers because its ships have to carry mails to certain ports and run. to schedule. Subsidies of that kind are paid in all countries. They were paid to the aviation companies in the early days because their planes had to make long nights which would not have been undertaken but for the necessity to carry the mails to distant places.
– They were doing developmental work.
– That is true. Senator Nash asked why the Government cannot conduct other enterprises in the sameway as it conducts the post and telegraph services. That department is part of a great international service. If a letter is posted in Melbourne for Sweden, payment in respect of it has to be made to the Victorian railways, the New South Wales railways, the shipping company which takes mails to New Zealand, the shipping company which carries them to Canada, the Canadian railways, the shipping company which connects with Great Britain, the British railways, and the shipping companies that trade to Holland, Germany and Sweden. An account is kept and payment is made in respect of every such letter. I should like to see private enterprise undertake a job of that kind ! Thepostal affairs of the world are conducted just as ably as it is possible to handle them. I attended one international postal conference at which 80 nations were represented. The postal department is not comparable with private enterprises. It seems to me that the civil aviation companies are to he treated very shabbily by the Government. Goodwillhas been won as a result of the experimental work of the companies, and who will decide whether the terms and conditions under which their undertakings are to be acquired are just?
– What about the large subsidies which the Government has given to them?
– They were for services rendered and payments for mail carried. They have only had sufficient financial assistance to enable them to pay their way. They would have been unable to provide a service to Tasmania without a subsidy. They have developed their services to a point at which they are now comparable with those of other transport systems. Just as one can hire a taxi, it would be possible under normal conditions to hire a plane to enable one to go almost anywhere. The Government will take over the control of the services and conduct them as a monopoly, with the result that progress will be brought to a standstill. The Geelong woollen mills, which were formerly controlled by the Commonwealth Government, were sold for £155,000. Under private control they are now a strong competitor with other manufacturers of woollen goods, and they are the most efficient undertaking in the woollen industry of Australia. Practically every enterprise that the Government has taken over has proved a total failure, and I venture to forecast that it will make a failure of the air transport services. At the Air Conference now sitting at Chicago, which is being attended by the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford) and the New Zealand Minister for Air, the nationalization of aviation was flatly rejected, yet the Government has decided to adopt the proposal. The only representatives at the conference who supported public control were the Australian and New Zealand Ministers. Evidently this action has been forced on the Government by the extreme elements in the Australian Labour party.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) complained that I did not lay on the table of the Senate the statement which I read yesterday in announcing the policy of the Government, and move that the paper be printed, in order to give honorable senators an opportunity to discuss the matter. I point out that L adopted the procedure usually followed by all governments, and that no attempt was made to stifle discussion. No doubt, the Leader of the Opposition was wrongly informed when he said that the loss experienced last year at the State coalmine at Lithgow was £16,000. I shall give to the Senate the correct figures. The loss for the year ended 30th June, 1942, was £16,500, and, for the following year, £10,820. For the year ended the 30th June, 1944, there was a profit of £2,400. The cost of production at the State coalmine at Lithgow will compare favorably with that at any other mine. At Lithgow, the employees go in 4 miles from the shaft. The conditions of, work must be taken into consideration when calculating the cost of production.
We have heard the usual criticism to-day of socialistic policies. The Leader of the Opposition has complained of revolutionary socialism, but such comments are to be expected regarding any progressive step proposed by the Government. There is also a canard in circulation that this proposal has been adopted behind the back of the Prime Minister (Mr. Curtin). Senator Gibson remarked that that right honorable gentleman had not been consulted regarding the matter.
– I said that he was absent.
– But he knew the nature of the declaration to be made by the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde). The matter had been before Cabinet on a couple of occasions in the presence of the Prime Minister. It has also been said that the Minister for Air was not aware of the proposal. He not only knew of it, but also he was aware of the declaration made on behalf of the Government, and it was his own submission that was adopted by the Cabinet. The Government also advised him in the
United States of America of its proposal, and he concurred in the action proposed to be taken. Very little justifiable opposition to the Government’s proposal has been expressed, although a cry has been raised about injustice being done to those who have pioneered the air services of Australia. In the early days of railway transport, when the railway systems were operated by private enterprise, they served only areas in which profits could be made, and a similar remark is applicable to the civil aviation companies. The Leader of the Opposition predicted muddling on the part of the Government, and said that two or three years might elapse before it would be able to exercise control, but I can assure the Opposition that the Government will proceed with its scheme without delay: Statutory bodies in this country and others have made a success of commercial ventures. The Prime Minister has crossed the Atlantic a couple of times by means of the co-operative air service provided by Great Britain, and he was very favorably impressed by that service. The broadcasting services of Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand are successfully conducted as government undertakings, and the Australian Broadcasting Commission furnishes another example of successful work by a statutory body.
– But private enterprise is permitted to compete under the broadcasting system in operation in the Commonwealth.
– That is not the position in Great Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. The subsidies that have been paid to civil aviation companies have been as follows : -
Ref erenee has been made to the services rendered by the railway departments throughout the Commonwealth. Nobody would suggest that the control of the railways of Australia, or even of the postal department, should be handed over toprivate enterprise. The argument used by Senator Gibson that the financial success of the postal department is assured by reason of its international operations does not apply with regard to civil aviation; but international airlines will operate in this country, and that is an additional reason why Australia should have national control of internal airways, so that landing places may be provided and arrangements made for international services. Australia is in an unfavorable geographical position with regard to airways, because it is a terminal. It will need every possible advantage in its internal air services to enable it to exercise its rights with regard to international services. I am not alone in that view. The Leader of the Opposition ‘ in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), when discussing the referendum proposals some time ago, said -
There is air transport. I need not occupy any time over that. Air transport should be taken over by the Commonwealth on a permanent footing.
– He was referring only to the regulation of air transport, and not to the ownership of the services.
– There has been a definite somersault on the part of the Opposition on this matter. During the referendum campaign it was generally agreed that the Commonwealth should have control of aviation and certain other matters, but, when practical application is given to the policy of the Government, we hear a protest from those who are always ready to complain when vested interests are affected. Three hours of the time of this Senate has been wasted this afternoon to enable the Opposition to register a protest against the implementation by the Government of a policy endorsed by the people. I do not know whether I am regarded as a “ left-winger “ or a “ right-winger “, but I favour the taking over of the airways of the Commonwealth by the Government.
– It was a unanimous decision of the party.
– Notwithstanding the large sum paid in subsidies to various aviation companies I am not prepared to admit that a good service has been provided in all cases, because I know that in some instances there has been inefficiency. I admit that these companies, like other enterprises all over the world, have been labouring under war-time difficulties, but I shall not accept the statement of honorable senators opposite that Australia’s air services are efficiently run to-day. I shall be greatly astonished if under government control there is not an improvement of the present services.
– I shall confine my remarks to the answering of some points made by previous speakers, particularly the Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron), who confused government control of air services with government ownership and direction. There has always been government control of aviation in this country, because regulations provide for the strict supervision of aircraft by means of periodical inspections, and for other matters.
– Private enterprise is concerned only with profits.
- Senator Grant has repeated the same old cry, but I remind him that there would be no profits unless an efficient service were provided. Those profits have been used to provide employment. Apparently, Senator Sheehan has never heard of the Canadian-Pacific Railway, because he said, “ Heaven help Australia if it had to rely on private enterprise for its railway services “. If he wishes to see the finest railway services in the world, he should see some of those in Great Britain.
– They were taken over by the British Government when war broke out.
– Those railways rendered magnificent service when they were privately controlled. Senator Nash did not seem to care whose feelings he hurt when he claimed that the decision of the Government was in the interests orthe people; but I point out to him that those who will he hurt will be the people of this country who will have to pay for the losses which will follow the decision of the Government, because it will probably result in an inefficient service being established. The honorable senator’s definition of a monopoly was most extraordinary. According to Webster’s Dictionary a monopoly is, “An exclusive right of trading in a specified commodity or group of commodities, enjoyed by the state, or granted by it to individuals as a privilege”. Another definition is, “ A control of commodities, land, public services, &c, of such a kind that free competition is excluded “. The decision of the Government means that free competition will be excluded, and, therefore, that a monopoly will be created. Such a decision will not guarantee an efficient and up-to-date air service. The railways of Australia are a poor advertisement for a socialist monopoly, as was also the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. Eventually, that line had to go out of business after huge losses had been incurred. Scope for individual initiative must be preserved if we are to get full advantage of the use of aircraft in the future. It may be well if we cast our minds back to about 1914, when aeroplanes could travel at only 40 or 50 miles an hour, and had a ceiling of 4,000 or 5,000 feet. By initiative and enterprise marvellous improvements in aircraft have been effected since that time. The rapid progress of aviation in Australia between the two wars was due to the splendid pioneering efforts of individual airmen, many of whom gained world fame. Had they not established confidence in aviation, there would not have been any considerable development of air travel. Australian aviation companieshave co-operated with governments during the war, and have sacrificed their commercial traffic in order to enable men and machines to be placed at the disposal of the nation. Now, despite the Government’s pledges that it would not nationalize industries during the war, and without prior warning of any sort, these companies are curtly told that the Government does not intend to hand back what it has taken from them, but will retain permanently the efficient organization which the courage of private enterprise has created. Such action is arbitrary and unjust. No cash payment can compensate able and experienced men forsuch callous treatment. Nor will they be attracted by the prospect of working for a socialist government monopoly in Australia in the future when better chances offer in the free competition of flying enterprises abroad. If the decision of the Government in regard to aviation is an indication of what we can expect from it in regard to other successful industries, a dismal prospect looms before Australia. In other countries, aviation services have deteriorated when well-controlled competition has been eliminated. I emphasize the words “well-controlled competition “, because the Government has the power to regulate the types of machines which may be flown, and to insist on frequent rigid inspections. It has, in fact, exercised that power. The spadework in Australian aviation has been performed by private companies which have given magnificent service to the nation in both peace and war. In my opinion, the blight of political influence will make for “ dud “ routes and ports of ‘Call which are not justified by the needs of the people. There is no need for the Government to operate a service which has been so efficiently rendered by private enterprise. The experience of government-operated businesses is that excessive costs are inevitable, because of the employment of excessive staffs and the creation of a top-heavy administration. Should the decision of the Government be given effect to, Australia can say “Good-bye” to an efficient air service at a reasonable cost. I am utterly opposed to the Government’s decision.
– The longer I listen to this debate the more I am convinced that the Government has taken the right course in regard to civil aviation in this country. When war broke out, Australia was in a sorry state in matters of transport, because of the many breaks-of-gauge associated with our railways systems. We cannot be sure that there will not be another war, and, therefore, we must plan for a future in which war is a possibility. Should war break out again in the Pacific nothing will be more essential than that Australia shall have efficient air services along strategic routes and under efficient government control. When I speak of efficiency, I mean that term to include safety. When a number of private companies are in competition the safety factor is liable to be overlooked, but that prospect is less likely when air services are under government control because a governmentcontrolled organization would insist on frequent rigid inspections; it would employ the best mechanics ; and it would maintain an adequate fleet of machines. I hope that the machines which will operate in Australia in the future will be made in this country. It is true that private enterprise has done a good deal to pioneer air routes in Australia, but it has done so with the assistance of government subsidies. Senator Sampson said that under government control, ports of call would be established at places not justified by the need of the people. That is exactly what happens under private control. When the profit motive is paramount, a service will not be provided where it is needed unless profits can be made. Aviation services must be established and developed in the interests of the country. That means that some routes will not show profits; but if services along such routes will assist to develop the area, they should be provided. The Government already pays subsidies to maintain services along nonpaying routes, and I do not see why it should not take over the control and ownership of such lines. I have never heard honorable senators opposite claim that the State railways should be sold to private enterprise. Senator Sampson criticized government control of the railways; but I challenge him to point to a more comfortable train anywhere in the world than the “Spirit of Progress”. I have spoken to many people who have travelled extensively overseas in recent years, and all of them agree that the “ Spirit of Progress “ is the most comfortable train they have travelled in. Of course, some railways under government control are being run at a loss ; but the reason is that those services are being maintained primarily in order to develop the areas they serve. During the recent referendum campaign no honorable senator opposite opposed control of civil aviation by the National Government. In order to ensure efficiency and safety in air travel, and also to provide adequately for the future defence of this country, it is essential that the National Government shall assume not only control but also ownership of civil airlines. That arrangement is franker and more honest than some agreements which previous governments supported by honorable senators opposite have made with private enterprise. In one case, for example, a previous government made an agree- ment with private enterprise whereby the Government undertook to invest more than £1,000,000 in a certain undertaking, and, eventually, that interest was to pass to private enterprise at no cost whatever. That is the kind of treatment of private enterprise which honorable senators opposite advocate. During the war the Government has expended millions of. pounds in the establishment of aerodromes and supplementary services, such as wireless stations. Do honorable senators opposite desire the Government to make a present of those costly assets to civil aviation companies, and, at the same time, continue to pay subsidies to private enterprise in respect of the establishment of new routes? . I. know the real reason for the opposition to the Government’s decision in this matter. . That decision means that the people whom honorable senators opposite represent in this Parliament will not be given existing aerodromes and subsidiary establishments for nothing. Private enterprise is concerned with efficiency only when it is necessary to make big profits. Where no opportunity to make profits exists, private enterprise is not interested in providing service. Senator Sampson had much to say about the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. He said that the service rendered by that line could not be compared with that rendered by private shipping companies.
– Did the honorable senator ever travel in a Commonwealthowned ship?
– Yes ; and like the honorable senator I have travelled in stinking tubs owned and run by private companies. I refer to the Oonah and the Loongana. The latter was sold to the Japanese for scrap iron. Those boats, which were engaged on the Tasmanian run, were a disgrace to any company. Yet the Commonwealth Government subsidized the service supplied by those ships. Of course, without such subsidies, that company would not be able to make any profit. Surely, we do not wish to see repeated in civil aviation our experience with shipping services provided by allegedly efficient private enterprise. On the contrary, this Government is determined to utilize civil aviation to develop this country. It is quite capable of doing so ; and that is a far better course than paying huge subsidies to private enterprise. Where would this country be to-day had we left the fighting of the war to private enterprise? Did private aviation companies develop routes to the north which have proved to be essential to the defence of Australia? Would our Army and Navy be so efficient as they are to-day had the Government left to private enterprise the job of providing those services with all the materials of war? The Government has proved its efficiency in a time of crisis, and, therefore, it can be relied upon to control civil aviation in the interests of the nation in the days of peace. Our experience in industry generally has shown that private enterprise, if given sole control in civil aviation, could not be relied upon to develop it so as to enable the nation to meet an emergency. Private enterprise was prepared to manufacture guns and planes and war materials only on the cost-plus basis. It was prepared to do this job only for profit. A similar position existed in Great Britain in the last war. Consequently, the Government took control of all factories for the manufacture of war materials, and, in many instances, manufactured its requirements at one-third of the cost previously charged by private enterprise. I repeat that as the Government has been capable of saving the nation heavy and unnecessary expenditure in time of war, it can , be fully relied upon to maintain the same degree of efficiency in time of peace in any sphere in which it takes control.
– What would this country have done without the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited?
– That company has rendered a valuable service to this nation, but it would not have produced any steel at all except for profit; and its operations have been subsidized by the Government. I emphasize that the development of airlines in this country will play an important part in our future defence. Therefore, it is most essential that civil aviation be developed primarily in the interests of the nation. Furthermore, the Government with its greater resources will be better able than private enterprise to keep abreast of the latest developments in aviation. It is most essential that the Government shall take complete control not only in the sphere of civil aviation, but also in many other spheres.
– What other spheres ?
– The Commonwealth Bank, for instance. Honorable senators, perhaps, will receive another bombshell in that connexion before very long. The Government must take control of banking, because banking is interwoven with essential services.
The PRESIDENT ( Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown). - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Honorable senators opposite are very pleased with the Government’s decision in this matter. They are blowing out their chests about it and telling the world that this is a progressive decision. On the contrary, however, it is the most retrograde step that this Government has yet taken. This decision will stifle initiative and enterprise. Honorable senators opposite have had much to say about State-owned railways; but what did the State governments do when those railways experienced a little competition from road transport companies? They ruined many road transport companies simply by prohibiting the carriage of goods by road. Private enterprise, being up to date, and realizing the necessity to use up-to-date methods, beat the Stateowned railways at their own game. The Governments controlling those railways did not attempt to fight this new form of competition, but simply prohibited it. A similar situation has occurred in relation to civil aviation. The Government is afraid of up-to-date means of transport beating the railways, and, therefore, it has decided to make a monopoly of air transport. Much has been said about monopoly control, but this decision on the part of the Government will create the greatest monopoly in transport that one could imagine. Honorable senators opposite have also complained of the profits made by private enterprise. But where do those profits go? The bulk of them are taken by the Government in taxes. If the Government takes profits in this way, it will soon find itself short of revenue. However, the point that strikes me most about the Government’s decision, apart from its retrograde aspect and unfairness, is the clumsy manner in which it has been taken. The Government did not say that it was taking over the airways immediately. It said in effect, “We are going to take them over at some future date “ ; and it says in effect to the airway companies, “ We are not going to kill you now, but will do so next year. The blood will flow next year. In the meantime carry on, and make your commitments. Buy all the new planes you want to buy, and go on running your services as efficiently as you can, until we are ready to kill you. But try to keep alive in the meantime”. What would a government with any business-like sense do in a case like this? Once the Government had made up its mind to take over civil airlines, obviously, it should have taken them over immediately it announced that decision, provided that it was willing to pay a fair price. But what would be the effect on any industry of such an announcement? What also would be its effect on other industries and on the travelling public? What sort of feelings will the flying public have about these airlines which are going to be killed some time next year? Will they not say, “ These lines are going out of operation in a month or two. Are the companies likely, therefore, to keep their planes as safe and up to date and perfect for the travelling public as they should be? Are they looking forward to the purchase of new machines ? “ I presume that all these companies have, during the last 12 months, when the impact of the war has been lessening, been entering into big commitments for new aeroplanes. Are they to go on with those contracts or to cancel them ? Is the Government to compensate them for giving up their leases and all the goodwill of the businesses which they have created? If any government possessing business instincts had the idea of taking over this industry, it should have come straight to the point and taken it over as it was; but when it says, “We are going to take over at a certain time “, what is that industry to do? The Government’s announcement in this matter shows inefficiency, and the absence of even the slightest degree of business acumen. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Sena tor Cameron) said that the Government will build aeroplanes in Australia, and he attempted to show the superiority of government-built planes to those built by private companies. Somebody took great credit for the fact that some time in 1937 the present Prime Minister, who was then the Leader of the Opposition, said that this country should be defended by air, but some years previously an earlier government had assisted to set up the aeroplane industry in Australia. That Government knew all these things, and took the necessary action, but it was opposed by the Labour party, which was then sitting in opposition. We are now told that the Government intends to begin the building of civil aeroplanes. Is it taking over the civil aviation lines so that it can sell to the new organization the planes which it is building? Is that the reason? It knows or infers that it could not sell the planes it would build in competition with private enterprise. It therefore sets up an organization which will buy those planes at a higher price. If the Government was not afraid of private competition!, there was no necessity for the action it is now taking. The effect does not stop at the Australian coastline, because airlines will run all over the world, and the aeroplanes of other countries will land in Australia, where they will require servicing, repairing, and reconditioning. They will find in this country only one authority doing that work, which can charge them anything it pleases. After one or two such experiences with a government factory, they will be very chary indeed of landing their big aeroplanes in Australia again. I do not intend to speak at length on the general principle of the socialization of industry. I simply say that instead of this being a great step forward, it is a great step backward. The Prime Minister declared that until the war was over, there would be no socialization of industries, but the party waited until the Prime Minister was in hospital and unable to put his views before caucus, and then the “bright boys” said, “Now that the Prime Minister is helpless in hospital, we will show him that we can do things, and when he comes back in good health he will find, here something that has gone beyond his control “. The sooner the Prime Minister returns fit and well the better, because evidently the party opposite does not intend to honour the promises of their own leader, who specifically stated that industries would not be nationalized during the war. Is the Government satisfied that it has the constitutional power to take over the airways next year? Does it not know that, unless the people give it further powers by means of another referendum, there will be endless litigation over its right to take this industry over, just as there wouldbe in the case with any other industry? Before the Government knows that it has the power, it disturbs the flying public and the whole business of aviation in Australia, on the off-chance that the High Court of Australia will declare that it has such power. Honorable senators opposite have been trying to make us believe that control and ownership are one and the same. To me, there is a very great difference. Controls have to be imposed by the Government in almost every avenue of life, for health and other reasons, but there is a great difference between controlling matters of safety, wages, and conditions, the use of air routes, and the way in which aeroplanes shall be flown between beacons, and owning the whole enterprise. Instead of crying to the heavens that the step it is taking is a great, new and progressive measure, the Government should be asking itself, “ Is this a progressive measure at all? Are we not reverting to a state of affairs in which monopoly will rule the whole country? Are we not putting a spoke in the wheel of industry for the sake of some bogey-idol which we have chosen to set up ? “ This project bears all the signs of originating with people of the Dark Ages, who know nothing about business, care little about the future of transport in Australia and merely desire to get their own way.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– I support the proposal of the Government to nationalize the internal airways of Australia. Transport is one of the vital services of the nation, and the full development of air services will do much to help post-war development. I represent a State where air services form an essential feature of development, and they could not have reached their present standard without the subsidies received from the Government, amounting to £3,250,000. In the post-war years, the necessity for an extension of air services will be such that they can no longer remain the monopoly of the few, but must become the concern of the people of Australia as a whole. During the debate this afternoon, much criticism was levelled at various State-controlled enterprises. In Western Australia government control has been introduced to a considerable degree, and even my most fervent political opponents will not deny that State enterprises in that State have done very good work. For instance, the State-controlled timber mills have provided houses of a good standard and assured fair working conditions for their employees. The employees in the State timber mills enjoy better wage standards and working conditions than those employed by the private timber companies, and the Government mill’s enabled the industry to survive during a period when overseas markets were difficult to obtain. The State shipping service in Western Australia did much to open up the north-west portion of the State long before the air services of private companies had made much progress in that direction. The State shipping line was instrumental in reducing freight charges on all vessels trading to and from that part of the State, and that has been of greatbenefit to the settlers in that region. We have heard much about the sale of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. We were told by honorable senators opposite that the giving away of that line to the British shipping combine was of great economic advantage to Australia, and that statements ‘by my colleague, Senator Nash, with regard to savings effected by the primary producers as the result of the operation of that line were not true. I have an extract before me from a Queensland newspaper - not a Labour journal - which supports the figures cited by Senator Nash. We were told by honorable senators opposite that millions of pounds were saved through the giving away of the Australian government-owned vessels, but this report states -
Such is the tragic story of the manner in which a dominion government has been shamefully exploited by British shipping interests, andit must be conceded that it is one that hardly reflects any credit on those directly and indirectly responsible . . . Not only has it involved the Commonwealth in a loss of many millions, but since the vessels were sold at a sacrificial price, under powerful political pressure, the primary producers of this country have been compelled to pay as much or more in increased shipping freights by reason of the removal of the competitive factor the seven steamers exercised during the time they were operating in the national interests. The freight cuts previously referred to, estimated to save our primaryproducers £500,000 a year, prove the correctness of this contention, if any is needed.
We were informed that those ships were not of much use to this country, hut our hearts were thrilled by the exploits of the Jervis Bay, which did a wonderful job in fighting against the enemy and helping to save the lives of many who were being convoyed across the seas.
Western Australia is an important State, since it occupies one-third of the area of the Commonwealth. It is important from the point of view of defence, and, during the last few years, its importance has at last become apparent to many of those who did not look beyond the
Murray River. The value of Statecontrolled undertakings is appreciated by the people of Western Australia. No private company would ever have undertaken the construction of the transcontinental railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, because it necessarily had to be an uneconomic proposal for many years. The Esperance and Norseman railways were built because, by reason of the nature of the services, the lines mustbe uneconomic, and could not be run at a profit by private enterprise. In Melbourne the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have done a magnificent job during the war years. Scientists - men and women - work unobtrusively in those laboratories and devote their skill and attention to the solution of the health problems of the nation. The serum produced there has been instrumental in assisting in the campaign in North Africa, and throughout the areas under the commands of Lord Louis Mountbatten and General MacArthur. That work has ‘been undertaken at an economic loss. I doubt whether it would be done by private enterprise because there is no profit in it. We have heard a good deal to-day about the profit motive. We have ‘been informed that the Government’s proposal to nationalize internal air services would take away from the people who are developing those services a great deal of the kudos that should be theirs because of their pioneering efforts. The real pioneers,however,are not the wealthy private companies which own the airlines. The men who opened up the airways of Australia were aviators such as Kingsford Smith, Ulm and Hinkler. They, and not the big companies which have reaped where they have not sown, are the real pioneers of aerial navigation. I do not deprecate the work that has been done by tie companies in putting capital into these enterprises, particularlyduring the war years when all transport services have been overtaxed. Tribute has been paid to those who have conducted the airlines at this critical period,but they could not have maintained the services without government subsidies. In view of the abnormal times in which we are living, we say that because of the increased demand for air services, and the fact that the public has become air minded, the future progress of Australia depends to a great degree on the development of air services. These factors must be taken into account in considering the present proposal of the Government.
I have heard a good deal about transport systems conducted by private enterprise, but I do not think honorable senators from “Western Australia would assert that the one example in that State of a privately-controlled railway points to the success of that system, either in the comfort of the public or in the service rendered. The Midland Railway Company has not done much to improve the facilities which it provides for the travelling public. It has a monopoly in the district in which it operates, and many travellers prefer to make the longer journey by the State-owned railway, because they thus get a more comfortable trip than on the Midland line. That private company has reaped a rich harvest during the war years. I should like to see a report as to how much revenue the company has received from the Commonwealth because of its war-time activities, and how much it has expended in improving its service to the general public. During a journey of 14 or 15 hours a passenger is unable to obtain a drink of water on the Midland Company’s line. No glasses or towels are provided, yet the charges imposed are even greater than those on the government-controlled railways. If that is an example of what private enterprise can do in the matter of railway transport I hope that it will not be long before all means of transport are under government control. In Western Australia, private omnibus companies were allowed to operate along the same routes as State railways. At first they were not a paying proposition, but as the people are now more travel conscious than previously, the business of those companies has developed to an alarming degree at the expense of the State railways. We now have the two instrumentalities operating side by side. Anyperson travelling by one of the private omnibuses running between Perth and Fremantle would be well advised to have an insurance policy in his pocket whenever he takes a ticket. This service has become a vast profit-making concern, but the Government is not out to make profit. It is interested in the welfare of the people of
Australia, and it claims that, in the interests of the people, all means of transport, and particularly air services, should belong to the people and not to any small body. I was almost in tears to-day when I heard Senator Sampson discussing what should be done to give a fair deal to the individuals financially interested in the private aviation companies. How many individuals are actually concerned in this transfer of authority from the private air transport companies to the people of Australia? Is it better that the control should be in the hands of a few, or should the services become a public utility for the benefit of the people generally? I consider that the proposal of the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. Forde) and the Acting Leader of the Senate for nationalization of the air services will have the endorsement of every right-thinking citizen, when it comes before the Parliament for ratification in the new year.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 64.
Lake Eyre - Bradfield Scheme
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
What progress is being made with experiments in connexion with the destruction of the cabbage moth?
– The Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has supplied the following answer: -
It seems probable that it is the cabbage butterfly to which the honorable senator refers as this pest only recently invaded Australia, and causes more spectacular damage than the cabbage moth. Both these pests can be controlled by the use of arsenical dusts up to the stage of the hearting of the cabbages after which derris dusts should be used. Experiments are being made with other substances which it may be possible later to substitute for arsenical and derris dusts. In addition, parasites have been introduced from England and the United States of America to attack the cabbage butterfly. These have been established in various places, but it is impossible to say yet whether they will prove effective, because they have not been established long enough to enable them to increase greatly in numbers.
Service Personnel on Compassionate Leave - Rail Passes for Discharged Men.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. The order of priority for air travel given to service personnel travelling on compassionate grounds is No. 5 (c). If travelling on home leave passes it is 5 (a). The air services at present operating to Tasmania give a passenger accommodation of approximately 475 seats weekly in each direction. From Monday next, the 27th November, the frequencies are being increased, giving three trips daily to Hobart and return, three trips daily to Launceston and return and one trip to Launceston via King Island daily except Sunday. These services will provide a total of 783 seats weekly in each direction between Melbourne and Tasmania, including 294 to Hobart and 489 to Launceston. This improved frequency should greatly help all passengers including service personnel travelling to Tasmania, and will it is thought remove any necessity for the appointment of a special officer to deal with service personnel travelling to Tasmania on compassionate leave.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Commonwealth Government, through the Premiers conference, request the States to grant to all returned soldiersa three months’ rail pass as a supplement to the Commonwealth war gratuity?
– The Acting Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : -
The suggestion will be borne in mind in connexion with benefits for ex-servicemen.
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Acting
Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
If so(a) When was such protest received and why was that fact not disclosed in the reply to the question asked by Senator Cooper on the 30th August ?
– Inquiries are being made, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as practicable.
Free Listeners’ Licences for Schools
SenatorNASH asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. The Government is not yet in a position to make a statement on this subject. The question is under close attention and a statement will be made as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER. - The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Acting Leader of the Government, upon notice - Is it the intention of the Government to increase the earning income limit for old-age and invalid pensioners as well as service pensioners, from 12s.6d. to £1 a week?
– The honorable senator’s question involves a matter of Government policy and it is not the practice to make announcements on Government policy in reply to questions.
asked the Acting Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Will an assurance be given that a bill will be introduced next session to implement the provisions of section 46a of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, whereby preference is to be given to discharged active service men and women for employment in governmental and semi-governmental departments and activities?
– The Government still has under consideration certain details connected with the question of preference in employment to discharged service men and women. It is its aim to present to Parliament at the earliest practicable date the necessary legislation to give effect to its policy in the matter.
asked the Acting Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Will the Minister state whether or not the Government intends, during the next session, to introduce legislation to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act?
– It is not possible at this stage to indicate the intentions of the Government with regard to banking legislation. Should any proposed legislation be approved by the Government the Prime Minister will make an announcement at the appropriate time.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice -
SenatorFRASER. - The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : - 1 and 2. Soil erosion will be listed prominently for discussion at the next meet ing of the Australian Agricultural Council which will be held early next year. This is regarded by the Government as an allimportant matter. After it has been considered by the Agricultural Council it will then, if necessary, be referred to the Premiers Conference for further consideration.
Debate resumed from the 22nd November (vide page 1937), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I approach the consideration of this measure with rather mixed feelings, because it has been placed before us after the Government has entered into a contract, and signed an agreement.In effect, the Senate is being asked merely to add another signature to the document. I desire, first, to refer to the power of the Government to pledge this country without the consent of the Parliament. Obviously, assent to the agreement was not unanimous on the part of all the countries involved, because at the end of Article X. it will be seen that several of the countries have reserved their assent until their Parliaments have ratified the agreement. For instance, the agreement was signed on behalf of India subject to the reservation that, “ It shall enter into force with respect to the Government of India as soon as it has been approved by the Indian Legislature “.
– Is anything wrong with that?
– No; but the Commonwealth Government asks us to accept something which is already an accomplished fact. I contend that no government should enter into a farreaching agreement embodying high policy, without first consulting its Parliament. The result might be the same eventually, but that is a different matter. Thirteen nations have made reservations similar to that made by India. In offering this protest, I point out that We on this side of the chamber do not oppose the agreement, although certain items in it are somewhat ambiguous. The organization referred to in the measure will have a big task in rehabilitating countries which have suffered in the present war. In this instance the signing of an agreement before Parliament was consulted may be unimportant. But it leaves in my mind the impression that the Government might very easily enter into negotiations and complete agreements with foreign countries without consulting Parliament. That is not a good method. Parliament shouldbe given an opportunity at least to discuss subjects of this kind.
– Is this not a measure to approve the agreement?
– Yes ; but the Government is already committed to the agreement, which was signed on its behalfby the Australian Minister at Washington. Parliament cannot amend the agreement. It must either accept or reject it; and as the Government has already signed it on behalf of the Australian people we could not reject it without casting a slur upon this nation. I draw attention to the fact that conditions have materially altered since the agreement was signed in November, 1943. At that time it wasbelieved that France and Belgium would require the hulk of this relief, but following the liberation of those countries we find that they are not nearly so badly off as they were previously understood to be. They are not very badly off in respect of food supplies, and with most of their secondary industries in running order they will probably be in a better position to supply world needs than will Great Britain, the United States of America, or Australia, the industries of which must be kept going at full speed to supply war requirements until the present conflict is concluded. France and Belgium are in a better position than Australia to rehabilitate themselves on a peace-time basis. The last twelve months have witnessed vast changes in this respect. We know that countries like Greece and Holland have been practically ruined for a generation. There is some talk about rehabilitating Italy. We have had a hard and bitter battle against Italy; and I sometimes think that charity begins at home.
During the last twelve months, conditions in Australia itself have changed considerably. Twelve months ago we had surpluses of foodstuffs of all kinds, but we have just experienced one of the most disastrous1 droughts in our history. When this agreement was signed we anticipated that one of our main contributions under this scheme would be supplies of wheat, but we know now that Australia will not have sufficient wheat available for this purpose during the next twelve months, or, possibly, the next two years. The point that concerns me is whether we are to supply this relief in money, or in goods. If it is to be supplied in money, we shall have to draw on our London balances, in which case we shall be short of funds for the purchase of the goods and raw materials which we shall require for the rehabilitation of Australian industry in peace. It would appear that the Government anticipated making this relief in the form of goods. However, it seems that we shall be able to do so only in respect of wool ; and for the duration of the war, we have sold our surplus wool to Great Britain. Shall webe obliged to purchase our wool from Great Britain in order to fulfil our contribution under this agreement? If we are to provide this relief in the form of money, the amount of £12,000,000 is a considerable sum. In view of all these difficulties, it would have been preferable had Parliament been given an opportunity to discuss this proposal before any agreement was signed. Possibly, had that been done, several alterations might have been made. I also point out that Australia will have only a small voice in the operation of this organization. For what reason I do not know, the four big Powers, including China, have practically full power. Other nations will come into the picture only when they are vitally interested, and in that case they are to be co-opted because oftheir vital interest. Article III., provides, inter alia -
The Central Committee shall invite the participation of any member government at those of its meetings at which action of special interest to such government is discussed.
Does that mean the special interest of a country supplying relief, or a country to which relief is being given? Considerable ambiguity arises on that point.
The administration also has the right to appoint the director-general; and that officerhas already been appointed. The administration is given power -
To acquire, hold and convey property, to enter into contracts and undertake obligations, to designate or create agencies and to review the activities of agencies so created, to manage undertakings, and in general to perforin any legal act appropriate to its objects and purposes.
The director-general shall have “ full powers and authority for carrying out relief operations . . .within the limits of available resources. . . . “ It will be realized that the directorgeneral will be in a position to wield the big stick in this organization. He will control the work, and Australia and other countries will have very little influence at all. The director-general has already been appointed, and that appointment is not likely to be altered. He is an American; and to that I have no abjection. But it must be remembered that America, like Australia, will have no wheat available for export for the relief of distressed countries, and therefore, may be obliged to purchase such requirements for this purpose. ArticleV., however, provides -
All purchases by any of the member governments, to be made outside their own territories during the war for relief or rehabilitation purposes, shall be made only after consultation with the director-general, and shall, so far aspracticable, he carried out through the appropriate United Nations agency.
I understand that Belgium, for instance, has already raised opposition to that provision, because that country expects to make its own arrangements in that respect. It is rather harsh to provide that if a country requires relief in the form of certain goods it must obtain those goods through the agency of this organization, and will, I presume, be subjected to a penalty if it disobeys this provision, and will be refused help of any other kind. The only alternative left to Australia at this stage is to withdraw from the arrangement altogether. Within six months after it signs the agreement, a. country can give notice of its withdrawal; and within twelve months of that date it can withdraw if in that time it has complied with all its financial obligations. For the reasons I have pointed out, the agreement is not quite so perfect as it might have been had this Parliament been given a timely opportunity to discuss the proposal. I have heard some talk about the £12,000,000 which we are committed to contribute, being only 1 per cent. of Australia’s national income. In figures that may be right, but in goods it may be very misleading. It must be remembered that before the war the national income of Australia in terms of money was about £600,000,000. It is now stated in terms of money at £1,200,000,000, but we are not producing the goods that we produced before the war because our production has been restricted to war needs and those of our own civilian population. It seems to me that to state the national income in terms of money is to create a false impression. It should be stated in terms of the goods that we produce. If we say that our contribution is 1 per cent. of the national income and we have to pay not in money but in goods, we give the people of Australia a false idea of how much they are paying. I and, I think, most of my colleagues are in accord with the intention of the bill. Australia has taken its stand in this world war, and poured out its treasure and its blood in order to help to put the world back on an even keel. We should be altogether wrong if, after making all those sacrifices, we did not. also say, “ We must get the people of the world back to a decent standard of living if we can “. I have no objection to our making a contribution of £12,000,000 if by that means we can help to rehabilitate those countries which have suffered so much more than we have suffered. If by paying £12,000,000 in goods or in any other way we can help the people of less fortunate countries, we should do so. It would be quite wrong for Australia to hold back from that work after the sacrifices it has made and the money it has already spent. That would mean stopping with the job half done, but we must remember that we are only a small proportion of the world’s population and can exert only a small influence on the way in which the funds will be distributed. Australia should not go beyond the limit of its resources. We have a duty to our own people as well as to the people of overseas countries. The circumstances of Australia have altered considerably in the twelve months since the agreement was signed. We are facing an unpredictable period when foodstuffs may be hard to get, and our rural population will be suffering from loss of income owing to the drought. Some of those whom the drought has hit the hardest may ask, “ Why should we subscribe to some other country, which cannot be in a much worse condition that we are in ? “.
The Government should not jump in and commit Australia to agreements of this kind in the future before seeking the advice of Parliament. The power to make all such agreements should rest with Parliament, and not with the Ministry or with individual Ministers. Our first duty is to see that the enemy is defeated and our second that the people who have suffered so much, even although they may not be the people we expected are put on their feet again. Until that is accomplished our task is incomplete, but the people of Australia must realize that to meet this and other commitments they must make considerable sacrifices. I know that they will do so willingly, and that they have no criticism, as I have none, of the Government for endeavouring to help to settle the affairs Of the world on this basis. I offer, in the interests of Australia, the one suggestion that in future Ministers should not jump into great national commitments without consulting Parliament, because Parliament, after all, represents the people of Australia, and it is the common people that are vitally interested in matters of this kind, and who will subscribe the necessary money. Subject to such criticism as I have offered, I give the bill my blessing.
– I support the bill. It appears to me that the time has arrived when definite action along the lines indicated in the measure has become urgently necessary, if Australia is to’ play the part which we all desire it to play in world rehabilitation. I consider that I am expressing the sentiments of all honorable senators in saying that the
Parliament appreciates and welcomes the opportunity to participate in the scheme, and toco-operate with the United Nations in providing the necessaries of life, and medical services for the people of the liberated countries. As I understand the measure, our quota is £12,000,000, or 1 per cent. of our national income of the year ended the 30th June, 1943, of which £47,000 is to meet our share of the expenses of administration. The Acting Leader of the Senate has intimated that an international council, constituted of representatives of 44 nations, has been established and will meet twice a year, Or when called together by one-third of its members, for the purpose of formulating and defining policy. Between council meetings a central committee will operate, constituted of representatives of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and China, with the Director-General as chairman. When questions affecting supplies are under discussion, a representative of any government particularly concerned1 shall be co-opted. The committee is empowered to make policy decisions of an emergency nature, which are subject to review by any regular session or special session of the council. I am not in a position to criticize the set-up or the” basis of representation accorded to the various nations that constitute the council, but if that body works in the same spirit of co-operation and with the same degree of unity that has been displayed in prosecuting the war, the outcome is a foregone conclusion and the scheme will be an outstanding success. The Acting Leader of the Senate has also intimated that a national council constituted of representatives of 34 organizations,has been formed to assist the Australian Government in the implementation of the scheme, and I understand that the trade union movement has been asked to become a member of that voluntary body. I am pleased that an invitation has’ been extended to the trade union movement to participate in this work because of its international contacts, and because of the fact that it has pledged itself to do everything humanly possible to assist the peoples of liberated countries to re-establish their normal amenities, their trade unions, their cooperative societies and all their other democratic institutions. If we play our part as it shouldbe played, the trade union movement can be a very valuable help to the Government in the implementation of the scheme. I understand that A ustralia’s quota in regard to the scheme, in accordance with decisions reached by the Unrra Council, is to be directed to the Far East, and will embrace eastern continental Asia, the East Indies, the Philippine Islands, the islands situated in the eastern Indian Ocean and the western Pacific Ocean, and, where necessary, toNew Zealand and Australia. Because of this fact, the tremendous problems that will face Australia in meeting its responsibilities under the scheme can readily be visualized, particularly when we take into consideration the low standard of living and lack of development of the great majority of the huge populations resident in -the vast area allocated to Australia. Those problems will be intensified because of the lack of recognized relief organizations within the area in which we shall operate. Such organizations will have to be established, and a systematic andextensive survey undertaken to avoid overlapping. However, our approach to these problems will be more or less a labour of love, and the knowledge that the work in which we are assisting aims at the re-estaiblishment of peoples who have suffered untold misery and hardship through no fault of their own will be the spur that will drive us on to perfect our organization inorder to ensure that they will have at least the necessaries of life in the period of transition immediately following their liberation. Much will depend upon the spirit in which this task is approached.. It is something more ambitious in scope and content than anything previously attempted, and it will not be achieved by wishful thinking. Concerted action and laborious effort in many fields will be necessary, based on careful study and planning which must be adjusted from time to time as experienicemay dictate, but if we face with courage and determination the problems which must inevitably arise, we shall have no need to fear the result. Our success in this stupendous humanitarian project would contribute to the establishment of a lasting peace and show what concerted action can do to implement the Atlantic Charter, and ensure to the peoples of all nations freedom from want and freedom from fear, which are so essential and vital to the future welfare of our civilization.
I desire to sound a note of warning because of the danger of undue emphasis being placed on the destruction caused by this war, which may inspire a spirit of pessimism concerning the implementation of the Atlantic Charter. It should be remembered that the scale of destruction caused by this war is not absolute and should not be measured against itself; it should be measured against the power of production and invention that have made the war possible. It is indeed fortunate for humanity that a definite relation exists between the power to destroy and the power to rebuild. The high proportion of production directed to the purposes of war by the United Nations is definite proof of the tremendous technical possibilities that can be made available for the purpose of improving the material welfare of the peoples of all nations. I include all nations deliberately, because, if we are sincere in our desire for a lasting peace, no nation should be excluded.No experiment in the direction indicated can hope to succeed unless based on justice for all nations. We must not forget India, China and other Eastern countries where there are about 900,000,000 human beings who must be included in any plan for the improvementof the welfare of humanity. In improving their standards we shall stimulate world trade, develop world markets and Jay the foundation for collective prosperity. Obviously, separately we can accomplish very little, but, collectively, with all sections of the United Nations prepared to pull their weight, theoutcome is a foregone conclusion, and it will only be a matter of time before our efforts are rewarded.
It is inevitable that in the post-war period many problems will arise. In the change-over from a war economy to a peace economy, we should be indeed fortunate if temporary dislocations did not occur. Shortages and difficulties will arise, and a new series of bottlenecks will have to be either by-passed or eliminated. The need for production for reconstruction in the post-war period is just as essential as it has been for the purposes of war. With the necessary manpower and machines at our disposal, and with the raw materials available to the “United Nations, together with the full utilization of human intelligence, we can build a post-war world in which the principles that underlie political democracy can be translated into terms of a richer, fuller and freer life for the whole of humanity. This should be our immediate post-war objective, and the lessons that we have learnt, the economic problems that we have been compelled to study, and the knowledge that we have gained with regard to the control of finance, foreign trade and central control of the capacity of the United Nations to produce, should assist us considerably in playing our proper part in establishing a lasting peace based on economic security for the peoples of all nations.
This is in accordance with the decisions reached and authoritatively proclaimed by all leaders of the United Nations. President Roosevelt defined freedom from want as an ever-widening standard of living and taking equal place with the other three fundamental freedoms. Mr. Ernest Bevin’s declaration was that this war is being fought to secure economic security. Mr. Eden emphasized the same principle, and declared that Great Britain would seek its implementation by international action. The resolution unanimously adopted by the Governments of Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, Belgium, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia, New Zealand and Australia, and by the Provisional Government of Czechslovakia and Free Frenchmen organized under General de Gaulle, pledge them to work together, to do everything possible to bring about a world in which all men would enjoy economic security. There was the joint declaration by Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt, in which they expressed a desire for the fullest collaboration of all nations in the economic field, with the object of securing for all improved labour standards, economic advancement, and social security, in the hope that a world would be established in which all men would be assured of being able to live their lives in freedom from fear and freedom from want. Teheran, Moscow, Philadelphia, Hot Springs, Dumbarton Oaks, Bretton Woods and many other international conferences have all played their part, some in taking the necessary action for the successful prosecution of this war, and others in dealing exclusively with the post-war period ; and they too have expressed the opinion that there must be economic security for the peoples of all nations. Practically all religious denominations have voiced similar sentiments. Organizations of all descriptions, including political organizations of all shades of opinion, have definitely stated what they desire. Unity of purpose is the keynote. All can sense the goal that lies beyond victory, which is a post-war world in which the principles that under ly political democracy can be translated into terms of a richer, fuller and freer life for the whole of humanity.
We must not forget what we are fighting for. The forces of freedom were successful in the last world war, but the victory became defeat when we lost the peace. So when the United Nations take their place at the peace conference on the next occasion, we must ensure that those who have given their lives in this war have not died in vain. The establishment of Unrra is the first step in the right direction. One can realize what this implies in liberated countries, which for years have been held in cruel subjection by the Nazi aggressors. Once the necessary machinery has been established to deal effectively with relief and rehabilitation on an international basis, it can be used later, when the time is opportune, in raising the living standards of the people in backward countries. This is essential if we are to make the progress that we all desire to witness in the post-war period. We must rectify the damnable and inhuman conditions which for too long have been prevalent in many Eastern countries. In India alone, last year, it was estimated that 3,000,000 persons died from malnutrition and disease. What an indictment against civilization! We are all more or less conversant with the position in China and other Eastern countries, and we should ensure that in no circumstances shall conditions of this kind continue one moment longer than necessary in the post-war period. Let us go forward together to that goal that lies beyond victory, and play our part in establishing a lasting peace. It must be a real peace that will stand the test of. time, based on economic security for the peoples of all nations. I compliment the Government upon the introduction of this bill, and congratulate the representatives of the United Nations who attended the international conference and did the ground work, in order that concrete recommendations concerning the implementation of this scheme might be submitted to their respective governments. If we play our part as it should be played, it can be the forerunner of; a lasting peace and economic security for the peoples of all nations.
– This debate was initiated on the 7th September, when the second reading of the bill was moved in the House of Representatives by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). It is difficult, as Senator Nicholls has pointed out, to deal with the measure, because the agreement comes before us practically as a finished article, and we must either accept or reject it. We have not the privilege of discussing it with a view to its amendment. The bill is before us because of war-time necessities, and I believe that, generally speaking it is acceptable to all honorable senators. The agreement was signed on behalf of the Commonwealth in October, 1943, at Atlantic City, by Sir Owen Dixon, Australia’s representative at Washington. The bill provides that Australia shall contribute £12,000,000 towards the relief and rehabilitation of. the nations whose countries have been devastated during this war. The agreement provides that, immediately upon the liberation of any area by the armed forces of the United Nations, or as a consequence of retreat of the enemy, the population shall receive aid and relief from their sufferings, food, clothing and shelter, and aid in the prevention of pestilence, and in the recovery of the health of the people, and that preparation and arrangements shall be made for the return of prisoners and exiles to their homes, and for assistance in the resumption of urgently needed agricultural and industrial production, and in the restoration of essential services. Honorable senators will agree that that covers a wide range. In Europe alone between 30,000,000 and 40,000,000 people have been removed from their own countries to another. The task of returning them to their homes will be gigantic, and will impose a heavy strain on transport facilities. In addition, millions of people in devastated countries will have to be clothed and fed. The contribution to the fund which is to be set up will be based on the national income of the participating countries. Australia’s contribution will be £12,000,000. That sum will be provided partly in currency and partly in goods, the former representing about £1,250,000. As Senator Leckie pointed out, Australia is in a most unfortunate position in that, as the result of severe drought conditions, the supply of foodstuffs in the country has rarely, if ever, been lower.
– There are plenty of potatoes in Tasmania.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Yes, and no doubt they would be greatly appreciated by the starving peoples of the world. Unfortunately, our low stocks will not permit us to send abroad the quantities of foodstuffs that we would like to send. Moreover, had it not been that the whole of the wool clip has been sold to Groat Britain we could send wool to these stricken peoples. During the last two or three weeks we have found that certain countries which we thought would be suffering dire distress are not so badly off as we expected to find them; I allude to Belgium and France. Indeed, the people of Great Britain are worse off in many respects than are the people of France. We must remember that we have obligations to our kith-and-kin in the Old Country. In my opinion, the cost of the proposed administration is too great. In his second-reading speech the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) said that about 38 organizations would be represented in this scheme of rehabilitation. In most of the countries of the world there are organizations which could do most of the work which the United Nations have set out to perform, and it seems to me that the administrative costs could be reduced by making greater use ofthem. The cost of administration will he about £2,500,000 a year, a sum which, in my opinion, could be better expended in relieving distress than in meeting administrative costs. The bill envisages a combined effort on the part of many nations. The war has at least taught the peoples of the world that they must collaborate and work together. Among the many notable dates which will be remembered after the war will be that on which lend-lease arrangements were entered into. The proposal contained in this measure embodies one lend-lease principle, namely, that materialsshall be sent where they are most needed. In this instance, however, instead of materials of war, the United Nations will send foodstuffs, clothing, and medical supplies. It is a noble purpose that they have in mind. Apart from what I regard as excessive administrative costs, I have no objection to the bill.
– Has the honorable senator calculated the ratio of administration costs to the total expenditure?
– Yes, it is too high. If greater use were made of such organizations as the Red Cross Society and the Salvation Army, the work of administration could be performed more cheaply. Action along the lines proposed in this bill was first taken by Great Britain after the Napoleonic wars, when it assisted allies who could not help themselves. Truly the bread then cast upon the waters has returned after many days; to-day the British Empire and its allies are receiving assistance under lend-lease arrangements. I agree with those who say that we should extend the hand of fellowship to the people of other nations who need it, and that is wh at this bill seeks to do.
– I support the bill and congratulate my colleague, Senator Nicholls, on a very fine speech. I also compliment the members of the Opposition on their attitude towards the bill. In doing so I am reminded of the question “ Can any good thing come out of Nazareth’”? It is true that honorable senators opposite have offered some criticism of this measure, but it has been confinedto matters of detail. I do not think that the world at large understands what is behind this measure, because never previously in the world’s history has anything equalto Unrra been conceived. It is true, as Senator James McLachlan pointed out, that after the Napoleonic wars assistance was rendered to peoples who had suffered.. It is true also that at the time of the great earthquake in Japan the nations of the world rallied! to assist the stricken Japanese people. I agree with Senator James McLachlan. that in matters of this kind the British people have set a fine example. I have seen in Tokyo a plaque erected to commemorate the generosity of the nations which assisted Japan at the time of its disastrous earthquake. On it were the names of the United States of America, various units of the British Empire, and China. I am confident that the people who will be helped under this legislation will not repay the kindness: shown to them in the same way as Japan has repaid China for its help on that occasion. However, that is beside the point. After the last war, certain relief measures were taken, but what was done then was regarded as acts of charity. The action taken was mostly individualistic. Various capitalist organizations participated in the relief measures, but some of them did so for political purposes ; “ go-getters “ exploited the people in every possible way. An entirely different spirit is abroad in the world to-day. Despite the extraordinarily reactionary statements of some honorable senators opposite when another measure was before us to-day, there has been in connexion with this bill a realization that the peoples of the world belong to one family. M. Litvinov, who was a Minister in the Stalin Administration some years ago, once said that peace was indivisible. I say that the intelligent world has realized that poverty also is indivisible. It is now not merely a question of helping these needy people ; it is also a question of helping ourselves. I regret that when this bill was before the House of Representatives one so-called leader in that chamber referred to the action of the coal-miners. I do not know what that had to do with the subject then under discussion. In considering this bill, we arc not concerned with the kind of government which may exist in Prance, Holland, Belgium, Yugoslavia or Italy, because whatever government may be in power the fact remains that the peoples of those countries need assistance. If there is to be rehabilitation, the whole world must be rehabilitated. No country in the world, least of all Australia, can afford to stand for isolationism. Had the spirit which is embodied in this bill existed before September, 1939, there would not have been a war. At that time, most nations thought that they could stand on their own. One honorable member in the House of Representatives is reported to have said recently that Australian soldiers should not have been sent to fight in Greece. I. shall not discuss his statement now, except to say that Australia’s action at that time so affected the Greek people that I believe it will never be forgotten. It is not intended that this administration will experiment with the people of Europe as if they were guinea pigs, but it will provide them with temporary relief over a period of two years, and in that way enable them to help themselves. Senator Leckie rather confused the proposition. Unfortunately, he did not listen to the Minister’s explanation with respect to the constitution of the organization and its executive. Australia is to contribute relief to the value of £12,000,000. The United States of America is to contribute half the total amount of the relief required, which is estimated at 2,300,000,000 dollars. Many countries are participating in this scheme from idealistic motives, but others support it because they realize that the rehabilitation of Europe is essential to their own welfare. For instance, there are isolationists in the United States of America, just as there are isolationists in Australia. A strong point can be made by the isolationists in the United States of America of the fact that that country economically, financially, and as a military power, can defy the world. But the Government of the United States of America recognizes that whilst economic and military independence is all right so far as it goes, America will be hoist on its own petard after this war just as it was after the last war, if it does not help to rehabilitate the rest of the world. The American Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, with the result that two decades later 14,000,000 people were out of work in that country. After the last war the Allied nations imposed too stringent conditions upon Germany with respect to indemnities, because they were oblivious of the fact that a nation cannot sell if it will not buy. A country cannot demand reparations from another country without thereby displacing workers in its own land; and, therefore, its last position is worse than its first. I hope that this measure is indicative of a new spirit among the nations, a spirit that recognizes that poverty is indivisible. We must know first what is required in the form of foodstuffs, clothing and shelter in the distressed countries. Some countries will require assistance in certain forms, and others in different forms. It is estimated that the provision of relief to distressed countries under this scheme will require 23,000,000 tons of shipping within the first six months. Ibelieve that the conditions in the distressed countries in Europe are such that the Allied countries will not be able to afford the requisite relief in the prescribed period of two years. Honorable senators opposite seem to imagine that some external organization will have the right to demand that Australia shall supply so much wool, wheat or clothing as its contribution under this scheme. On the contrary, the agreement provides specifically that each nation may determine for itself the form in which it shall contribute its quota of relief. Under Unrra it has neverbeen intended that Australia, which last year would have been able to supply huge quantities of wheat, must still supply relief in that form, when, owing to the most disastrous drought in our history, we shall be unable to do so. It is not intended that any nation should drain is own resources in order to supply its quota of relief. However, Australia has other commodities in abundance; and I have not the slightest doubt that, without pinching our own people, we shall be able to meet our obligations under this programme thrice over. Despite the drought, the people of ho country, with the possible exception of New Zealand, have suffered less than the people of Australia in this war. No one knows how many people are homeless in the countries ravaged by war. We have been led to believe that there are 12,000,000 workers in Germany from other countries. We do not know how many of them are homeless. Senator Leckie has said that some of the countries for which aid will be provided will not he so badly off as was at first anticipated. Probably, that is true in the case of France, and, to a lesser degree, Belgium. But as an offset to that change, great distress exists in Holland. We know that the landing of British parachute troops in Holland was a failure, and, consequently, a terrific battle is still taking place in that country, in the course of which both the British and enemy f orces have blown up the dykes. The result is that thousands of people in Holland have been drowned, or are starving; and in that part of Holland in which that battle is raging it is safe to say that from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 people are absolutely destitute. That development will offset any improvement in the conditions of the people of other countries, such as France and Belgium. It is estimated that 6,750,000 people in Greece are homeless or destitute, and that 500,000 are suffering from tuberculosis. The brave Greeks have been fighting not only the Germans, but also the Fascist leader, Metaxis, the friend of King George II., whom many people are endeavouring to restore to his throne. Four years before this war broke out, the people of Greece showed their courage in their gallant fight against fascism. Any one who reads of the splendid resistance of the Greeks to the Italians in the Albanian Mountains will realize their courage. Whilst the Italians had modern equipment and stores, the Greeks we’re ill clad and fought with out-of-date equipment. The average Greek soldier at that time was without boots and had very little to eat except a few olives, and little more than small quantities of oil to drink. In spite of these difficulties, they waged so magnificent a fight against their enemies that to-day one can say, “ The glory that was Greece became the glory that is Greece “. I have spoken to many returned prisoners of war who fought in Greece, and, invariably, they have high praise for the Greeks. Those men left this country rating all Greeks as fish-shop proprietors, linking them with Italians as fruit-shop proprietors, and with Chinese as coolies; but after sharing the privations of the Greek patriots, and sharing two or three olives with them for a meal, they have nothing but the highest praise for those gallant people. No advertisement could have achieved for the Greek people the reputation which Australians give to them as the result of the solidarity and unity with which they fought the common enemy. Nobody knows the extent of the distress in Poland. We know what happened in Warsaw, but we have not been acquainted with all the details. Then, there is the problem of the Jews, who have suffered more than the people of any other race. They have been slaughtered by the hundred thousand ; their synagogues have been burned, and their cultural centres destroyed. Every Jew apprehended has been placed in a concentration camp. For the Jews there will be no centre which can be used as a focal point for rehabilitation.
I believe that Australia is to be mostly concerned with the relief of the distressed peoples in the Far East. For the purposes of this scheme, the world has been divided into two zones - the European and the Far Eastern. The problem of relieving these distressed peoples is inextricably interwoven with politics. I agree with the German military strategist, Clausewitz, that war is only politics translated to another field. The problem of relief in the Far East is inextricably interwoven with the question as to what is to be done with those people politically. We must realize that the people of Indo-China are proJapanese in sympathy, and that the Malayans were not the slightest bit interested whether the Japanese captured their country or not. I do not think that the position will ‘be so difficult in the Philippines, where rice, which is the staple diet, should be available in abundance, and where the waters teem with fish. We should concentrate our efforts upon China. I realize that without the aid we received from the United States of America this country would not have survived against Japan. No one appreciates that fact more than I do. Nevertheless, American aid would have come too late had not the Chinese been responsible for engaging 1,000,000 of Japan’s best troops. The position in China should receive special attention. Indeed, under Unrra, China should be made a separate zone. In that country there are over 100,000,000 people homeless. The Japanese have succeeded in cutting a corridor through China from Peking to Hong Kong. The Japanese have never endeavoured to beat the Chinese army, but in tens of thousands of forays have destroyed everything in the shape of food. They made tens of thousands of forays into the rice howl of China. Sino-Australians, who have done a great job in southern China, would be only too willing to co-operate in the work of providing relief to their countrymen under this scheme. I suggest that the delegation appointed under Unrra to administer the scheme in China should include representatives of the Sino-Australians. I am not satisfied with the method proposed for the appointment of the staffs of Unrra in the various countries. Australia will have no say in making those appointments. At the same time, I know that many “go-getters” are securing good jobs for themselves under this scheme, including many people who left their native land poverty-stricken, and are anxious to return in the role of benevolent uncles. They will seek this work merely as an opportunity to study trade prospects, or to take a trip, or to enjoy the glamour of the thing. I do not think that sufficient attention has been paid to the qualifications of appointees. It is not sufficient merely to ask an organization to send along a man for a certain job, when no provision is made to ensure that the person sent is fully qualified for the work in view. However, this problem is rather difficult, and I hope that it will be straightened out as the scheme is developed. Viewing Unrra as a whole, I believe that it represents one of the finest gestures yet made by any group of nations to the rest of the world. We may be obliged even to provide relief to distressed peoples in enemy countries. However, it is stipulated that if relief is provided to such peoples, they must pay for it. The reason for that provision is clear. If, for instance, disease broke out in Germany, the United Nations could not stand by and refuse to render assistance, for the disease might spread into countries like Holland and Belgium. However, if we wish to establish the principle of collective security after the war, we must enable all peoples to help themselves. The distressed peoples of the world do not want charity. All they want is aid to enable them to get on their feet again. We shall have much work to do in that direction even after we have housed and fed the distressed peoples. I am certain that Australia can do nothing but become part and parcel of this organization. We all wish it success and if it does succeed I should like to see a similar organization operating in times of peace. If, for instance, we had a worse drought than we have now, we might need assistance from outside. If we had not stored wheat in recent years we might have been in a serious position. Calamities such as earthquakes may occur in various parts of the world, which is another reason why a similar organization should be established after peace comes. That, however, is another story. We, as Australians, should be proud to have a part in this organization. We have played a worthy part in the world war and in world affairs. I hope that we shall never again be confronted with the effects of a policy of isolationism. There is a welcome spirit of internationalism permeating this measure. Unless a spirit of goodwill grows between the nations, we shall have no hope of escaping in a few years’ time a catastrophe compared with which this one. would be as a midget to a giant.
– I congratulate Senator Grant on his constructive speech on this very important, subject. It is pleasing that these matters of great international importance fan be discussed on their merits, free from the political party points of view which are so common in this country. I take this opportunity of paying tribute to the Australian representative, Sir Owen Dixon, whose work as the representative of the Australian Government on this conference was of outstanding importance. It is stated in the reports that at times he occupied the important position of chairman and took a prominent part in the drafting of this agreement - a task which could be handled only by a man of the calibre and skill of that great Australian. In considering these matters, we should urge whatever government is in power to make sure that the men sent from this country to represent Australia in foreign lands are the best that we can provide. In the past all governments have been guilty of appointing men who were not qualified to do the work that had to be done. The problems that will confront us internationally in the future are of such great importance that no government should commit them to any but the most highly qualified men. It is interesting to note the marked change that has taken place in the attitude adopted by the Australian Labour party in these matters. In 1939 prominent leaders of the party said in both Houses of this Parliament that Labour would never allow Australia to become entangled in. the problems of Europe, nor would it allow any Australian to be sent outside Australian territory to engage in a war begun or engaged in by Great Britain.
– Why spoil a good speech ?
– I do not desire to be personal in this matter, because I think that circumstances have changed. The party on this side of the chamber is entitled to remind the Senate that the policy which it has always adopted in advocating that Australia as a member of the British Empire should follow the lead of Great Britain has proved to be perfectly sound. I suggest to the Acting Leader of the Senate that a number of matters which we shall be called upon to discuss in this chamber as the House of review are of great importance, and that sufficient time ought to be given to the Senate to debate them on their merits.
The Senate should also be informed of all aspects of the discussions that take place at the various conferences, by the men who had the opportunity of being present. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to have the opportunity, in a secret meeting or otherwise, of hearing that distinguished Australian, Sir Owen Dixon, outline to members of this Parliament the problems that were debated by the representatives of the 44 countries which led to the drafting of the Unrra agreement. This Parliament will be called upon in the not distant future to make decisions in connexion with the International Peace Organization, the International Exchange Stabilization Organization, the International Rehabilitation Bank, the International Wheat Agreement, Unrra, the International Food and Agriculture Organization, and international air transport. These problems are so complicated and involved that the Government should consider the appointment of a Standing Committee of the Senate or of the Parliament, representing all sections to study these questions from time to time. It could, perhaps, have the benefit of the semi-confidential and perhaps even the confidential information which comes to the External Affairs Department. It could also be given the opportunity to discuss some of these problems with technical experts, and particularlv with the Australian delegates to the various conferences. If we take a wrong step to-day, .it may do this country very great harm in the near future. It is impossible for members of this Parliament who have not had the opportunity of personal contacts or access to information, such as members of the Imperial Parliament have to keep themselves fully informed on these subjects. I hope that the Acting Leader of the Senate will consider these points. Where possible. I hope that honorable senators will be given the opportunity of discussing international subjects with the representatives who attend the various conferences. The Government should take care to select the best available men to represent this country abroad. If the Australian selectors, were to leave a mau like Bradman out of an Australian eleven, or include a third-grade man, there would be such an outburst of criticism throughout the country that the selection committee would be superseded, but when it comes to the selection of men, to deal with important matters of high international policy which affect the lives of the present and future generations not only of this country but of all countries, governments in. the past have not been big enough to select the best men available. Though we should let the dead past bury its dead in this matter, we should profit by past experiences. We should be able in this Senate to consider on their merits and above party politics, all the great problems which this Government is called upon to solve.
– The constitution, of Unrra, being the first of the series of new international agreements, is of particular interest. The objects of the organization are set out plainly in the preamble to the agreement, and have been adverted to by Senator James McLachlan in the course of his address. Each of the 44 signatories to the agreement is a member of the administration. Unrra is very democratically based. Each member nation, great or small, has one vote, and decisions, with a few exceptions which T shall particularize, are made by a majority of the votes cast. I regard that as an excellent start in, the field, of international action. The central committee consists of representatives of the four major Allies, which was to be expected by reason not only of their power and resources, but also by their major contributions to the fund. The Director-General may be appointed to or removed from office by the council only on the unanimous recommendation of the central committee. The two factors must operate together before the Director-General may be either appointed or removed. Any proposed amendment of the constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote of the council to be effective. That is a wise provision, which one finds in many constitutions whether voluntary, incorporated or otherwise. If a new obligation is to be imposed, each member nation must separately and specifically accept the burden of it. So that Australia in entering into the obligations imposed by this agreement has an ample safeguard as regards undue commitments.
Even the terms of Article V. requiring contributions from the members of Unrra do not impose a specific amount upon any member nation, but provide that the amount and character of the contributions of each member government under this provision shall be determined from time to time by its appropriate constitutional body. The article expressly provides that there is no legal obligation to contribute any particular amount; it rests with the appropriate legislative authority in each country to determine not only what kind of contribution it will make, and the quantum of it, but even whether it will make any contribution at all. The nations have readily agreed to adopt 1 per cent, of their respective national incomes for the year ended the 30,th June, 1943, as the basis of contribution. Australians and their governments have at all times been quick in the practical expression of sympathy, when any section of the people of the world have been in distress, whether by earthquake, typhoon, epidemic, or any other calamity.
We are facing a problem that affects millions of human beings. The mark of brute force has left an indelible impression on Europe, Asia and the South-West Pacific, and it is a shocking thought that millions of people in those areas have not only lost their homes and all their earthly possessions, but many of them have been starved, maimed, enslaved and killed. Perhaps the greatest tragedy of. all is the separation of families - husbands from wives, children from parents. The problem of restoring them to their hearths and homes I regard as one of the most important functions that Unrra must undertake. These things add up to a terrific sum of human misery, and it is impossible for us to realize its full import. A true realization of the misery that many people are suffering at present would prostrate us, and leave us without faith in anything human. It is a consoling thought that the people of the United Nations, through their leaders and governments, have such sympathy for the oppressed peoples of the earth that they have come together through the instrumentality of Unrra to help the distressed nations. I look upon the agreement as one which elevates the expression of charity to an efficient and practical plane instead of leaving it as hitherto on a purely haphazard basis. The agreement is practical in its outlook. It realizes that there are other bodies in the field attending to needs of this nature. The second paragraph of Article IV. of the agreement provides that foreign voluntary relief agencies may not engage in activity in any area receiving relief from the administration without the consent, and unless subject to the regulation of, the director-general. Lack of co-ordination is eliminated by that provision. Unrra will fully utilize the various societies already established fo administer relief, but overlapping will be eliminated.’ A further necessary provision is that the administration may not enter upon this effort without the consent of the military command in the area in which relief is desired to be given.
The provision of this relief has very great advantages for the United Nations themselves. The restoration of the people of distressed nations will undoubtedly facilitate the revival of international trade. It will restore our export markets, and, of: course, a great deal of the expenditure that will be incurred by the administration will, in fact, take place in Australia. All these things are to the good. The new need created to-day has been referred to by several honorable senators. The peoples of thi; world need freedom from want and freedom from fear. It . is realized by the United Nations that, unless these things can be brought to the peoples of the world, anarchy and revolution, with further wars, stare us in the face. All these are practical advantages that will flow from the activities of Unrra, but those advantages are purely incidental. I like to believe that Unrra has its roots deep in the scriptural injunction : “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself “. That is the basis of the concept that has led to the establishment of that organization. There is a gradually growing concept - and I trust that it will become stronger - that, just as no individual can live independently of his fellows, so in the wider field of the community of nations it is now being realized that no nation can live selfishly unto itself. I hope that Unrra will be efficient and economical in its administration, and will bring quick and generous relief to the oppressed peoples of the earth. I join with Senator Grant and other honorable senators who have expressed the hope that the organization set up in connexion with Unrra will be retained on a permanent basis. Other occasions will arise when the sympathy of the world will be excited, and when that sympathy will need to be dispensed in a practical and quick way. I believe that in the course of time this organization will prove to be an efficient and happy medium for the expression of that sympathy.
– Honorable senators will agree, no doubt, that this bill sets out basic principles with regard to international affairs ofl greater importance than any that have previously been considered by this Parliament. The success of the agreement will depend on, not only the desires of those who have signed it aud supported it in the Parliaments of the various nations on whose behalf: it has been signed, but also on the attitude of the peoples of those nations themselves. This measure is a gesture of goodwill and of a desire to bring peace and wellbeing to the nations of the earth. At the conclusion of the last war the formation of the League of Nations was an outstanding gesture on the part of the members of the League in favour of peace on earth, but there is nothing binding in the present agreement other than a moral obligation on the part of the signatories to it. The crux of the position is whether those who have entered into this agreement will stand steadfastly by the principles enunciated, and thus set an example to others who, in years to come, will no doubt join the organization. There was never a time in the world’s history when the peoples of. the earth have been brought so closely together as at present. We have no power to alter the present agreement without referring it back to a conference similar to that at which it was signed. We must feel satisfaction that the United Nations have seen fit to meet at a time which one hopes is close to the termination of this terrible war. The agreement is a gesture of friendliness to other nations, and shows a desire to help those who have suffered during the present war. I commend the framers of the agreement upon the excellent work which they have done, and I am sure that it will be appreciated by the peoples of the nations which have suffered.
– Whilst I realize that possibly there are some imperfections in the constitution of the Unrra organization, and in the manner in which it may operate, this scheme should receive the wholehearted co-operation of the United Nations. I see in this agreement something different from what happened at the conclusion of the last war. Senator Herbert Hays has suggested that it was hoped that the League of Nations would prove a means whereby future wars would be obviated, but when we remember the tragedy of the Versailles Peace Treaty, and the .way in which it was brought about, wre realize that the League commenced its career under grave disadvantages. The great nation of the United ‘States of America was not represented. Germany itself was not represented, nor were Russia and other countries. The best way to secure the future peace of the world is to begin to prepare for the peace prior to the cessation of hostilities. The present proposal is on quite different lines from that put forward at the conclusion of the last war. There was then a handing over of certain territories, but no great desire to see that the world was made secure. The whole of the discussions that took place related to power politics. Great Britain, through its spokesman, was intent on retaining the balance of power in Europe. Other nations attempted to seize territory. France desired security against Germany, and to that end claimed, portions of Germany for a number of years. We all recollect the disappointment of President Wilson of the United States of America at the failure of his attempt to bring about world security. It is now proposed that as various countries are liberated - possibly even before the last of the invaders have left them - we should show tangible evidence of our goodwill towards the peoples who have been under the yoke of the oppressor. That is a wonderfully inspiring objective! - the succouring of mankind. Last week, when, in
Melbourne, 1 saw a picture showing the scenes associated with the liberation of a French city; it was liberated by being destroyed by the friends of France. But that is war. The United Nations are liberating Europe, but only by destroying historic cities and buildings, as well as human life. That is the price paid for liberation ; that is war. In what is happening to-day we see the awful thing that men and women in days gone by tried unsuccessfully to prevent. Possibly the ideals which seem to be permeating the nations of the world will hasten the day when war will be no more. The Leader of the Opposition referred to what he described as the changed attitude of members of the Australian Labour party when he said that not long ago they had declared that in no circumstances would they allow Australia to become involved in the quarrels of other peoples, whereas to-day they had supported the bill now before the Senate. There has been no change of attitude as the honorable senator suggested, because the Australian Labour party has always advocated a humane policy, and has always stood against war, because it has known that when war comes the ordinary people are the greatest sufferers. Unfortunately, the ideals of the Labour movement have not yet been given effect to, and so wars have not been abolished. I hope that the present war will effect a change of heart among the peoples of the world, and that attempts at national aggrandisement and territorial expansion will cease, so that the world may settle down in peace to promote the best interests of mankind. Many estimable men and women have grappled with the problem of establishing a world brotherhood. Last Sunday, in various churches and elsewhere, appeals were made to encourage a more brotherly attitude towards the people of other nations. We cannot achieve true brotherhood so long as the people of one nation are at the throats of other nationals. If this organization contains the germ of a true brotherhood, the bill now before us, despite its imperfections, will have accomplished much in the direction of abolishing war, including a spirit of mutual help and brotherliness.
– im reply - I express appreciation at the favorable reception given to this bill by members of the Opposition. There has been no objection to its main principles or to Australia’s participation in the relief of distressed peoples throughout the world. Senator Leckie protested against the government having pledged the Australian nation by entering into an agreement without first consulting the Parliament, but I point out that the power to do so has been exercised on other occasions by previous governments, as for instance, when the treaty of Versailles was signed. Moreover this is not the first occasion on which this agreement has been before the Parliament. On the 14th of October, 1943, again on the 19th July, 1944, and on the Sth September, 1944, statements were made on the Administration.
– Those statements were not discussed by the Parliament.
– Statements were made, and the Parliament was notified of the progress that had taken place in connexion with the organization. It is true that the Government authorized the Australian Minister at Washington to sign the agreement on behalf of Australia, but in the circumstances that existed that was the only practicable thing to do. As has been stated by honorable senators opposite, the agreement must be either accepted or rejected in its entirety; it cannot be amended, because if that were done it would have to be referred again to all the other countries concerned. As some honorable members have expressed a fear of a prolongation of the war, and that the disastrous drought from which this country is suffering may affect Australia’s ability to meet its commitments to Unrra, I point out that such a possibility was visualized by those who drafted the constitution of the organization.. At the first session of the council of Unrra the following resolution was agreed to: -
As to the amount and character of the contribution of each member government, to be determined by its constitutional bodies as provided for in Article V of the Agreement, the Council recommends that each member government whose home territory has not been occupied by the enemy shall make a contribution for participation in the work of the administration, approximately equivalent to one per cent, of the national income of the country for the year ending June 30, 1943, as determined by the member government.
The Council recognizes that there are cases in which the recommendation above may conflict with particular demands arising from the continuance of the war or may be excessively burdensome because of peculiar situations, ami therefore recognizes that the amount and character of the contribution recommended is subject to such conditions.
That should allay the fears of honorable senators.
The Leader of the Opposition asked that should any future agreement of this kind bo considered the Senate should be given an opportunity to discuss it fully. In this connexion I have to say that I consulted with the honorable gentleman as to his wishes .regarding this debate, and it was agreed that it should terminate to-night. There has been no restriction of the discussion, and, so far as I am concerned, there will be no attempt to withhold the information asked for by the honorable senator. I shall bring his request to the notice of the Minister of Externa] Affairs (Dr. Evatt) who, I am confident, will comply with it. Some stress was placed on the fact that conditions in Australia have changed since the agreement was signed, particularly in the direction of lessened supplies of foodstuffs in this country. As requests made by Unrra will be considered by an appropriate authority in the light of those changed conditions, honorable senators need have no fears in that connexion. I thank honorable senators for the reception given to the bill and confidently expect its speedy passage through the committee stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Approval of agreement).
– I should like, to know whether, constitutionally, Parliament is obliged to ratify, this agreement, or whether this action to ratify it is being taken merely as a matter of courtesy. The Australian Minister at Washington has already signed the agreement on behalf of the Government. Is the agreement binding upon the Commonwealth regardless of whether it is ratified by Parliament or not? This is a very important aspect in relation to future measures which may involve the ratification of agreements.
– It is necessary for Parliament to ratify this agreement because it involves an appropriation of money.
. -What provision is made to oblige a signatory to the agreement to remain a member of this organization? From my reading of Article X., it would appear that a signatory could withdraw at will, and that no legal obligation is imposed in that respect. So far as I can gather, only a moral obligation is imposed.
– No compulsion can be brought to bear upon a membergovernment to oblige it to remain a member of the organization. However, member governments will remain members on humanitarian grounds.
– It is a moral obligation only?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Appropriation).
.- The Minister, in his second-reading speech, dealt with an appropriation of an amount of £12,000,000, which he said would be the maximum amount of Australia’s contribution under this scheme. However, he also mentioned a sum of £47,000 in respect of administrative expenses. Is the latter amount included in the sum of £12,000.000, and is it an annual expenditure in respect of administrative expenses, or a total expenditure in that respect?
– The sum of £47,000 in respect of administrative expenses is on a yearly basis, and is included in the amount of £12,000,000.
.- Do I understand that, although this agreement will become operative in countries already liberated by the United Nations, and will probably continue for many years after the conclusion of the war, the sum of £12,000,000, is the total liability to which Australia is committed under this scheme?
– Yes; our total commitment is £12,000,000,
Clause agreed to.
.- One honorable senator opposite, in the course of his second-reading speech, suggested that, under this scheme, no relief will be provided to distressed peoples in enemy countries. I should like to know whether that is the case. Will any of the relief provided by Australia through this expenditure of £12,000,000 be made available to peoples in Germany or Japan?
– It is not the intention of Unrra to operate in enemy countries except to a limited extent.
– The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that Australia would be represented on the Committee on ‘Supply appointed to operate in the Far Eastern Zone. Does that mean that Australia’s contribution of relief willthe distributed only in the Far Eastern Zone and that none of it will be sent for distribution to the European Zone?
– It is not intended to limit Australia’s operation under the scheme to the Far Eastern Zone. Any relief we provide willbe available for distribution in the European Zone also.
SenatorJ. B. HAYES (Tasmania) [10.43].- Although the Minister has said that Australia’s total commitment under the scheme will not exceed £12,000,000, paragraph 7 of Article III. provides that the travel and other expenses of members of the council, and of members of its committees, shallbe borne by the governments which- they represent.. Are those expenses included in the maximum amount of £12,000,000?
– They will be borne by the respective governments.
– Paragraph 1 of Article IV. provides -
The executive authority of the United Nations Belief and Rehabilitation Administration shall be in the Director-General, who shall be appointed by the council on the nomination by unanimous vote of the central committee. The Director-General may be removed by the council on recommendation by unanimous vote of the central committee.
It would appear from that provision that the Director-General could not be dismissed so long as he had one friend on the central committee. Is that the case?
– That is the position. I cannot see how any other interpretation can he placed upon the provision.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The following paper was presented : -
Scientific Liaison Bureau - Annual Report for period ended the 30th June, 1944.
Senate adjourned at 10.49 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 November 1944, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1944/19441123_senate_17_180/>.