17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the legislation, recently passed by the American Congress giving to President Truman power to reduce tariffs by 60 per cent., will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate whether negotiations have taken place in connexion with a reduction of the duty on Australian wool exported to the United States of America? The present rate is 34 cents. In view of the importance of the matter to the economic life of Australia, and particularly to the wool industry, does the Minister not think it proper that during the parliamentary recess he, in addition to departmental officials, should attend the negotiations taking place at Washington?
– The Government has despatchedMr. Dunk, of the Department of External Affairs, as a representative of the Treasury, and Mr! McCarthy, of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, to Washington to participate in the commercial talks between officials. The Government of the United Kingdom has sent a similar delegation to Washington, and at present we are awaiting information as to whether it will be desirable at an early stage to hold a ministerial conference. The matter is being considered by the Prime Minister and me, and we recognize its tremendous importance. The subject was discussed on the occasion of my recent visit to America. As the Leader of the Opposition has indicated, the American Congress has passed a measure giving to President Truman the right to reduce any tariff by 50 per cent., and that gives ground for hope of a satisfactory arrangement being reached. At the conclusion of the officials’ conference now proceeding at Washington, the British delegation will return to London, where the delegation from Australia will meet the representatives of Great Britain. In the meantime the advisability of ministerial representation of the Commonwealth is under consideration.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army makea statement clearly setting out the conditions under which persons are released from the armed forces? Much confusion prevails as to whether priority is given in accordance with the points system, or to releases on compassionate or occupational grounds.
– The honorable senator’s request will be given attention.
Hostels - Film Representation - Motor. Hire Carregulation
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior propose to make a statement to the Senate in relation to the rather alarming reports which have appeared in the press regarding the treatment of women, especially in respect of diet, at government hostels? If so, will he say who is responsible for the existing state of affairs? Further, will he indicate what treatment aboriginal natives of Australia can expect when such conditions exist in the National Capital ?
– The matter to which the honorable senator has referred is now under examination by the Government. The Minister for the Interior is at present in his electorate on important business, but the matter has been referred to him, and an inquiry is in process. When the Minister returnsI am confident that I shall be authorized to make a statement on his behalf in this chamber.
– Was the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior present at the screening last Sunday night of a film dealing with Canberra, and, if so, does he believe that it was truly representative of the life of the Australian capital city and the Parliament of the nation? Does he believe that the film would be suitable to send overseasas an advertisement for the Australian capital and the national life of the Australian people?
– If I under stand the honorable senator’s question aright, he has asked me to express a personal opinion. I shall not do that. However, the film to which he alluded is under consideration because the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell), whose department was responsible for the production of the picture, is not satisfied that the Senate was adequately represented.
– The Senate was not represented at all.
– It was represented, but very imperfectly. I understand - and I am sure that honorable senators will be satisfied with the proposal - that a picture which will give prominence to the Senate and its proceedings will be taken at a later date.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Is it a fact that people cominginto the Territory for the first time have been charged excessively high fares by certain car operators; if so, will the Minister, in view of the increasing demand for motor transport of this kind in Canberra, and the need to safeguard hirers against being overcharged in future -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: -
The operation of hire cars is governed by- (a)Part 3 of the Motor Traffic Ordinance 1936-43, and
– In view of the fact that coal stocks in South Australia are almost depleted, will the Minister for Supply and Shipping indicatewhat steps the Government intends to take to ensure that the sixteen ships which are reported as being held up at Newcastle shall be loaded without delay?
– It is a fact that certain ships are held up because of a dispute with coal-trimmers at Newcastle. A conference is to take place this morning, and there are prospects of the trouble being settled. The position is being examined with a view to sending coal to South Australia by rail should sea transport not be available.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.When prominent Australians go abroad to represent different phases of Australian economic or industrial life, it is customary to furnish each of them with a well-bound volume containing information regarding Australian production and other statistics. Was such information supplied to Mr. Thornton, whois representing the trade unionists of Australia at a very important conference in Paris? It would appear from press reports that Mr. Thornton’s data have become somewhat mixed. In view of the fact that the Federated Ironworkers Union has been de-registered, will the Minister make representations in the proper quarter for the immediate recall of Mr. Thornton?
– I am not aware that any data were supplied to Australian delegates to the Conference of the International Labour Office. Mr. Thornton was chosen as a delegate by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which is the leading industrial body in Australia, and I have no intention of interfering with the work he is doing.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Army if he is aware of the great uneasiness and dissatisfaction existing among relatives regarding the fate of Australian prisoners of war previously located on Amboina, known as the Ambon Forces? I have been advised by the president of the Battalion Auxiliary that a telegram which was sent on behalf of the organization to the Minister for the Army with reference to this matter was not answered until eighteen days after the telegram was despatched. Will the Minister inquire immediately into this complaint, and give an assurance before the Parliament goes into recess that everything possible is being done in the interests of Australian prisoners of war located on Amboina, and provide all available information to the relatives of those men? Is it a fact that the telegram sent by the organization was not answered until eighteen days later?
– Inquiries will be made into the matter raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
Reports on Items - Annual Report.
– I lay on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -
Ordered to be printed.
I also lay on the table the following papers : -
Tariff Board Act - Tariff Board - Annual Report for year 1944-45, together with summary of recommendations.
Ordered that the report only be printed.
asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
Will the Minister give early consideration to the restoration of the regular shipping services between Hobart and Sydney?
– The restoration of regular shipping services, not only to Tasmania, but also to the whole of the Commonwealth, is the constant objective of the Government. As soon as the available tonnage allows this to be done, regular services will be arranged.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works and Housing has supplied the following answers : -
As it will be some time, however, before people with children are all adequately housed, dwellings under the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement are not likely to be available to persons without children until after the more urgent requirements of those in greatest need are met.
Under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement funds to enable State governments to undertake housing schemes will be made available from time to time by the Commonwealth Government on loan to the States. The Commonwealth will meet three-fifths of losses involved.
Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to-
That Standing Order 68 be suspended up to and including Friday, 5th October next, to enable new business to be token after 10.30 p.m.
Bill received from tie House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I hare already explained to honorable senators that, although the war is over, the Government is still in need of very substantial revenue to enable it to carry out the manifold tasks which still lie ahead. For that reason it is not yet possible to grant any relief from sales tax by way of a reduction of the general rate. It is proposed, however, to grant a limited measure of relief by reducing the rate of tax in respect of certain goods which have been subject to the maximum rate of 25 per cent., but which are clearly goods of utilitarian character. Further relief is proposed by way of certain additional exemptions. These proposals, which involve a loss of revenue at the rate of £2,800,000 per annum, or approximately £1,900,000 in the current financial year, are incorporated in the bill, which also contains a provision to the effect that the new concessions shall apply to sales made on and from the 13th September, 1945.
Arrangements have been made for circulation among honorable senators of a statement showing particulars of the goods affected by the proposed new exemptions, and of the goods upon which the rate of tax is being reduced from 25 per cent, to 12£ per cent. Perhaps the most important item is the proposed exemption of plant and machinery for use in the manufacture of goods. Ever since the inception of sales tax, manufacturers have protested against having to bear tax on machinery plant and other goods used by them in the manufacture of goods. The contention has been that where tax is payable on the manufactured goods, double taxation is unfairly imposed, if tax has also to be paid on goods used in manufacturing processes.
In 1936, the government of the day made provision for an exemption of consumable aids-to-manufacture, that is to say, materials of a kind consumed in manufacturing processes. Tax continued to be payable in respect of plant and machinery for use in manufacture, the view apparently being taken that the allowance of exemption of such goods would involve considerable administrative difficulties.
The Government is anxious to do everything possible to encourage the development of industry so as to create the maximum employment, and, in these circumstances, it is considered desirable to reduce the cost of manufacturing plant and machinery by removing the sales tax from such equipment. The exemption will apply to machinery, implements and apparatus for use exclusively, or primarily and principally in the manufacture of goods. It will not apply to machinery, implements and apparatus for use exclusively or primarily and principally for repairs, or for other purposes not involving the manufacture of goods. Manufacturers who are registered as such, for the purposes of the Sales Tax Assessment Acts, will quote their certificates of registration upon the importation or purchase of the goods in question, in the same manner as they do when importing or purchasing raw materials or aids to manufacture in the form of consumable materials.
Another item of general interest is the proposed exemption of goods for the use of local governing bodies. This exemption will apply also to goods for the use of fire brigades, including bush fire brigades. The exemption will apply to goods for use and not for sale by the bodies specified in the bill.
In accordance with the Government’s policy of encouraging the construction of houses, it is proposed to extend the existing exemption of building materials so as to cover the further materials specified in the bill. It has not been found practicable to provide for exemption of all the materials used in the construction of houses, but it is safe to say that, with this extension, the tax on those materials which now remain taxable is so small as to have no appreciable effect upon the cost of home building.
The law is also being amended in regard to the specification, in the second schedule to the Sales Tax Exemptions and Classifications Act, of the rationed clothing and household drapery which is subject to tax at the special rate of 7½ per cent. These goods are specified in the existing law as goods included in the definition of coupon goods in Rationing Order No. 27 as amended from time to time. The effect of the existing law is that whenever Rationing Order No. 27 is amended to make any goods free of coupons, the rate of tax on those goods automatically rises from 7½ per cent. to 12½ per cent.
With the expected improvement of the clothing situation, freedom from coupons will be granted in respect of increasingly wide ranges of goods. If these goods were thus to become taxable at the higher rate of 12½ per cent., it might lead to an increase of the cost of living, which the Government is most anxious to avoid. It is proposed, therefore, to amend the law so as to cause the special rate of 7½ per cent. to apply to goods which were coupon goods under Rationing Order No. 27 in the form in which it stood on the 13th September, 1945. The rate of tax on these goods will therefore remain unaffected if and when the goods become coupon-free subsequent to that date.
The opportunity is also being taken to seek certain minor amendments of the law which have been under consideration for some time. These amendments include slight extensions of the existing exemption of goods for the use of the GovernorGeneral, the State Governors, diplomatic representatives andsimilar representatives of other countries. In this regard, the sales tax law is being brought into line with the existing position in regard to customs duty on these goods. The concessions are similar to those allowed by the governments of other countries to Australian representatives in those countries. Other amendments included in the bill are for the purpose of ensuring retrospectively that goods for members of the Britisharmed forces in Australia shall receive the same measure of exemption from sales tax as was previously provided for in respect of goods for members of the United States and other Allied forces. These amendments will have no appreciable effect on the revenue. I shall be glad, at a later stage, to give honorable senators such explanations of the provisions of the bill as they may require. The measure is confined to the granting of relief from tax and, therefore, it should commend itself to all honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The Government proposes that the whole of the social and. health services expenditure will be financed through the National Welfare Fund now that hostilities have ceased. The bill now before honorable senators amends the National Welfare Fund Act to provide for the new . items of income and the additional channels of expenditure from that fund. From the 1st July, 1945, all social services expenditure will become a charge to the fund, and clauses 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the bill make the necessary amendments to the National Welfare Fund Act and other social services acts to achieve this purpose. The existing basis for payments into the fund will continue until the 31st December, 1945, and the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has estimated that £15,000,000 would he paid into the fund in those circumstances. Proposed new section 5 (1) appropriates that sum for the six months ending the 30th June, 1946. In addition, in this and following years, the equivalent of the collections of the pay-roll tax and the new social services contribution will be paid into the fund. In regard to the social services contribution, it has been necessary to find a practical means of determining the amount tobe paid into the fund because the collections of social services contribution and income tax -will not be accounted separately. Accounts for actual collections separately would cause much inconvenience to employers, and would necessitate the employment of a large number of additional officers in the Taxation Department. The social services contribution and income tax will, however, be assessed separately, and it is proposed that a sum equivalent to the amount of contributions “ payable “ in each financial year will be paid into the fund. This procedure is set out in proposed new section 5 (2) (c) and offers a practical solution of the difficulty. In the long run, of course, actual collections and the amount payable will be equal. For the last six months of 1.945-46 and for the year 1946-47, the formula under proposed new section 5 (2) (c) will not be capable of application because there will be no assessments of social services contributions issued in the last six months ‘ of 1945-46, and in 1946-47 the assessments will apply only to the last six months of 1945-46. Accordingly, proposed new section 5 (2) (a) appropriates £20,000,000 as the Treasurer’s budget estimate of five months’ instalments collections from employees and provisional contributions payable by non-employees in the last six months of 1945-4.6. Proposed new section 5 (2) (Z>) appropriates £51,000,000 for the full year 1946-47, this being the budget estimate of the collections for that year. Details of the fund’s position for 194.5-46 are set out in table 6 of the budget speech for 1945-46 and indicate that it will eventually be necessary to supplement the income of the National Welfare Fund from Consolidated Revenue Fund. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Leckie) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is one of several measures designed to give effect to the Government’s taxation proposals. So far as the taxation of income is concerned, those proposals involve a substantial reduction of the rates of tax and the establishment of a plan of social services contributions. With this plan, the measure at present before the Senate is associated. Honorable senators will remember that the important subject of social security was examined by the Social Security Committee.” The report of that committee favored the financing of the nation’s social services by means of a contribution to be paid, at graduated rates, on income received by each member of the community except, of course, those members in the lowest income ranges.
The Government’s proposals adopt the principle that the financing of social services should be assisted by contributions based on income and assessed at graduated rates, subject to a maximum of ls. 6d. in the £1. The action now proposed, therefore, is to separate the present income tax into two separate levies - one of which will he a social services contribution. The amount which is obtained from this levy will be used exclusively for the purposes of financing social services. This will not in any way diminish the value of the reductions that are being made in the income tax rates. Although there will be two distinct levies, additional obligations on the community arc being avoided by adapting, for the purposes of the contribution, the machinery for the assessment and collection of income tax. This procedure will obviate duplication in the lodgment of returns, collection of instalment deductions from salaries and wages and the issue of assessments. Any person who is at present free from income tax will not be called upon to pay the new social services contribution so long as his income remains at the present level. This means that no person with a dependent wife, or child, or mother, will be required, to pay social services contribution unless his annual income exceeds £156, whilst a single person will he free from contribution if his income is not greater than £104. As the proposed date of commencement of the plan is the 1st January, 1946, the social services contribution in the current financial year will be for six months only, and contributors will be required to pay in this financial year, 3945-46, only one-half of the annual contribution. A special provision in the bill ensures that no contributor to social services will pay a greater amount than his or her present income tax after allowing for the general reduction of approximately 12^ per cent, for a complete year. “With regard to companies, the contribution will be limited in its application to the undistributed profits of private companies. Apart from this liability, company profits will be free from the levy. In conformity with the principle which applies for income tax purposes private companies will be required to pay the additional social services contribution their shareholders would have paid, if the .undistributed profits had been released to the shareholders by way of dividends.
As mentioned earlier, the machinery provisions of this bill are so designed that taxpayers will experience the minimum of inconvenience by the separation of income tax into two levies. One return of income will serve for the purposes of both social services contribution and income tax. Similarly, with a view to simplicity, a single notice of assessment will include the social services contribution and the amount of income tax payable. The two charges will, however, be shown separately on the notice of assessment. A similar procedure will be adopted in regard to the instalment deductions which are now made from salaries and wages. The introduction of the social services contribution as from he 1st January, 1946, will not impose any further obligations or duties upon either employers or employees, as the deductions which are made from that date will serve the dual purposes of social services contribution and income tax.
Honorable senators have already had the opportunity to peruse a printed memorandum dealing with the clauses of the various measures relating to the taxation of incomes. The explanations contained in that memorandum may, if necessary, be supplemented by further explanations at the committee stage.
Debate (on motion by Senator Leckie) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
– J move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill is to impose the rates at which social services contribution shall be paid. Subject to a maximum of ls. 6d. in the £1, the rate of contribution is graduated according to the income of the contributor and other factors such as the number of his dependants. The graduation in the scale of contribution is illustrated by the following table : -
Tables which have already been distributed to honorable senators indicate the amounts which it is proposed to collect from contributors in various income rangesand with various family responsibilities. The bill provides that in no caseshall a full year’s social services contribution exceed 87½ per cent. of the incometax payable at current rates. This ensures that the full benefit of the 12½ percent. reduction of income tax will apply tosocial services contributors also.
The first complete financial year in which the contribution scheme will operate will be that commencing on the 1st July, 1946. In the current year, however, the contribution will be for a halfyear. Consequently, only half-rates of contribution will apply. Similarly, in order to give effect to the reduction of income tax as from the 1st January, 1946, income tax will be payable at half the present rates plus half the reduced rates. In the case of salaries and wages, instalment deductions will be reduced as from the 1st January next. The estimate of approximate revenue to be derived from the social services contribution is, for a full year, £51,000,000, and, for the current year, £20,000,000.
Debate (on motion by Senator Leckie) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read first time.
SenatorKEANE (Victoria- Minister for Trade and Customs) [11.18].- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. In introducing the Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill, reference was made to the separation of the reduced income tax into two levies, first, a social service contribution; and, secondly, a general income tax. In order to implement this proposal, it has been necessary to make Borne consequential amendments in the Income Tax Assessment Act. These amendments are embodied in this bill. As detailed explanations of the clauses have already been circulated, it is necessary at this stage to describe only the practical effects of the legislation. The minimum income in respect of which social services contribution will be paid is as follows : -
Income tax will not be payable unless the income exceeds, in the case of a -
A clause has been incorporated in the bill to preserve the benefits of the rebates of income tax now allowable in respect of dependants, life assurance premiums, medical expenses, &c. A full explanation of these provisions, and of the minor amendments proposed in the bill, can be given at the committee stage.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Keane) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The principal purpose of this bill is to effect a reduction of the rates of income tax to be applied to the incomes derived by individuals during the current financial year. Honorable senators will recall that, in May last, rates of tax were imposed in respect of thefinancial year commencing on the 1st July, 1945.. The enactment of the rates of tax prior to the commencement of the financial year is an essential feature of the pay-as-you-earn system of taxation and is necessary in order that the instalment deductions to be made from salaries land wages may be determined. Following the cessation of hostilities, the national finances have been reviewed and, as a consequence of that review, the Government has decided that a reduction of the income tax rates should be made. Upon examination of the various fields of war-time taxation, it must be recognized that the heaviest burdens have been borne by the individual payers of income tax. As it is considered that any lightening of the wartimetaxation burden should be granted first to this class, the present bill provides for a reduction of the rates of income tax payable by individuals. As indicated previously, the present income tax will be divided into two levies - a social services contribution and la general income tax. It is proposed that the total of these two levies should represent a reduction of the liability of individuals amounting to approximately 12% per cent., for a full year, of the present income tax. Rates of tax on companies remain unaltered, but private companies will derive a benefit from the bill, in that the individual rates to be applied in their assessments upon undistributed profits will be reduced. The reductions result, in the aggregate, in a remission of £20,000,000 of revenue for ia complete year, or, as the reductions will apply from the 1st January, 1946, a remission of £10,000,000 for the current year.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 2nd October (vide page 6207).
Department of TRADE awd Customs.
Proposed vote, £767,000.
– Is any indication given in these figures of the costs of the ‘Commonwealth Prices Commission? I have scrutinized the figures thoroughly, but I can see no reference to the commission.
Senator KEANE (Victoria - Minister
Commonwealth Prices Commission is dealt with under the heading “ Other War Services “. The expenditure for administration of the Commission last year was £490,794, and the estimate for this year is £520,000, an increase of £29,206. The increase is due largely to the Government’s stabilization plan and the necessity for extra office accommodation and extra staff to deal with the subsidy activities of the commission.
.- I should like to have some information about the Tariff Board. What use is being made of that body f Will it return to its original duties now the war has ended, and will it be fully occupied? I notice that provision of £5,800 is made for salaries and allowances, but this applies only to the chairman of the board. Evidently, fees are paid to the other members. What fees and allowances are paid to them?
– Members receive £5 5s. a day on each day of meeting, and travelling expenses of £1 ls. a day when the meetings are held away from head-quarters.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department or Health.
Proposed vote, £211,000.
.- Questions have .been asked in this chamber regarding the treatment of females residing in Canberra hostels with particular reference to the quality of the meals supplied to them. Is the Department of Health taking notice of this matter, or is it left entirely to the Department of the Interior? If the Department of Health is to be a useful department of the Commonwealth Public Service, surely it should attend to health matters in Canberra. I was amazed when I read some of the letters received by Senator Tangney and published in the press. They almost led one to believe th’at we have horror camps in Canberra. Are matters of this kind to be reserved for the unsympathetic consideration which appears to be meted out by the Minister for the Interior?
– I have already made a statement to the effect that the matter referred to by Senator Tangney is now being investigated, but, owing to the absence of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) in Western Australia, it is impossible to obtain a statement from him at present. Administratively the matter concerns his department, but complaints relating to the food supplied in government hostels are dealt with by the Department of Health when it is invited by the Department of the Interior to investigate them. That aspect is being reviewed, and when the Minister returns to Canberra he will be able to report definite action with regard to it.
. -Apparently two departments are concerned in this matter, and the Health Department must be absolved from all blame, because the department of the Interior claims responsibility. If red tape practices obtain between two important departments, the sooner the position Ls remedied the better. If a ridiculous idea about one department being afraid to tread on the corns of another prevents an investigation of a matter such as that to which I have directed attention, it shows the need for full reciprocity between the two departments. I consider that the responsibility should rest with one department instead of two.
– I regret to say that the honorable senator has taken advantage of his position to misrepresent entirely the statement which I have made. He knows that because I was previously Minister for the Interior I am familiar with the whole of the circumstances. There is no truth in the statement that an attempt Ls being made by the Department of the Interior to prevent the Department of Health from functioning in a proper manner. Previously, because of a statement which was entirely -without foundation, the Department of Health undertook a complete survey of the meals supplied in government hostels. The report was to the effect that there was no foundation whatever for the suggestion that the food regimen was below a reasonable standard, or was responsible for malnutrition. Beyond my previous knowledge of the position, I decline to usurp the position of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) in his absence from Canberra. If I were still the Minister for the Interior, the Health Department would be asked to make another survey of the matter and report upon it to the Parliament. It is most unfair for Senator Leckie to take advantage of the fact that I was previously the Minister for the Interior, and am not now Minister, for the reasons which he would appear to suggest. In selfprotection, I must say something, because I was Minister for the Interior for nearly four years. The Health Department does not hesitate to take action in connexion with matters relating to the Australian Capital Territory.-
– Facts are now being disclosed. It seems that the Minister was hiding himself and all his knowledge behind the absence of the present Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson). Now that pressure has been maintained, he now discloses that he knows all about the matter, that there is no truth in any of the allegations, and that despite the fact that the Health Department would investigate the grievance if invited to do so, the department has already reported on the hostels. The Minister says I have no right to ask questions of this kind, but it is my job to dp so. Three attempts were made by me before I could get any worthwhile information. The statements made in to-day’s press in letters received by Senator Tangney deserve investigation.
– They will be investigated.
– I know that now, but under pressure from me the VicePresident of the Executive Council now discloses that there is no truth in the statements. The Minister may be prepared to allow matters of that kind to drift along, but honorable senators of the Opposition are not willing to allow such apathy. If the health of the young people of Canberra is being jeopardized by niggardly ordinances or regulations, we desire to know all about it. The trouble should be remedied. We should not hide the position under a plea that the Minister for the Interior is now absent. Candour is called for in such circumstances.
– I cannot allow the matter to remain where Senator Leckie has attempted to leave it. His final statement could be described very shortly in unparliamentary language, because it is entirely untrue. I did nothing of the kind suggested by him. I did not say that owing to the absence of the Minister nothing will be done. I said that I was not able to make a statement on his behalf. I have not referred to the present complaints. All I said was that previously, when I was Minister for the Interior, similar statements were made and investigated. The Department of Health inquired into the whole position with regard to Canberra hostels, whether controlled by the Government or leased to private individuals, and the department declared at that stage that there was no truth in the allegations made. I have not said that there is no truth in the statements now made. I refuse to comment On them, because I have not the authority of the Minister for the Interior to make a statement on his behalf. In the meantime, inquiries are being made regarding the particular matter to which Senator Leckie has referred. I will not usurp the position of the Minister.
.- The position we have now reached is that the Minister is satisfied that there is no ground for any charges made against the Department of the Interior and himself, but he is very suspicious regarding the case which I have presented to-day.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department op Commerce awd AGRICULTURE,
Proposed vote, £374,000.
– As the war is now over, Australia will be seeking markets abroad for its products, and I consider that the proposed vote for commercial intelligence services abroad should be greater than £40,900. The Government should make those services as good as possible, in order that Australia may secure markets in the post-war period.
.- Tha Government is considering a further, accession to the overseas commercial intelligence staff. The proposed increase is due to the fact that a trade commissioner is to be appointed in the United States of America, additional staff is being appointed in India, and increases of living allowances are to be provided for certain officers abroad. An increase is also necessary to cover incremental advances for temporary employees. Tho matter raised by Senator Cooper fi under review at present, and the Government hopes to be able to make rb announcement in a week or two regarding several additional appointments in other parts of the world.
.- Is the salary of the Director-General of Agriculture, Mr. Bulcock, included among administrative payments in the nature of salaries ?
– His salary is included in the vote for war services.
– Can the Minister inform th» committee what steps have been taken, or are proposed to be taken, to ensure overseas markets for Australian primary products? During the war agriculture in Great Britain has developed so remarkably that two-thirds of that country’s requirements of primary products are now grown locally. Therefore we shall have to look to other countries for markets to absorb our surplus pro1duction. It is not too early to appoint trade commissioners in other countries, particularly Eastern countries, with a view to obtaining the markets which are an essential feature of any successful scheme of land settlement for exservicemen. In normal circumstances, we cannot hope to dispose of large quantities of manufactured goods overseas, and therefore, it is important that we shall build up credit in other countries by increasing sales of our primary products.
.- The Department of External Affairs is responsible for appointing diplomatic and other representatives in countries overseas. Already Australia has representatives in the United Kingdom, the
United States of America, Canada, China, and India. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has presented to Cabinet a . submission regarding further appointments to Near Eastern and Far Eastern countries where it is thought markets for Australian primary products can he developed. It is generally agreed that markets must be round for our products if the people from other countries are to be induced to settle in Australia. Australia needs more people on the land, not more people in its capital cities, and therefore we must be sure that markets exist for their production. The matter to which the honorable senator has referred is receiving the attention of the Government.
– Has the Government any longrange policy in connexion with the tobacco industry? Yesterday, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) said that Australians consume about 25,000,000 lb. of tobacco each year, of which only about 5,000,000 lb. is grown in this country. During the war more Australian leaf has been used in tobacco blending, and if that policy be continued, until the percentage of imported leaf is reduced considerably, the outlook for the Australian industry will be bright. The Minister also said that tobacco-growing was an industry suitable for email areas, as the return for each acre was high. He also said that the industry employs considerable labour. In view of the difficult position in relation to dollar exchange we must do all that we can to avoid unnecessary imports’. I have been informed that light yellow leaf grown in northern Queensland is equal to the best imported leaf. If a long-range policy were decided on, and if growers knew what scientific and other assistance they could expect, they would be encouraged to purchase the latest machinery and to adopt the most modern processes, thereby making this industry even more valuable to Australia. I should be glad to hear that the Government has a long-range policy in regard to this industry.
– Yesterday, when I outlined the Government’s policy in regard to the growing of tobacco, I forgot to mention that manufacturers of tobacco and cigarettes are compelled to use a percentage of Australian leaf. ‘ As a fairly heavy smoker for many years, I say without hesitation that some Australian leaf is equal to the best imported leaf. Between 1929 and 1931 the Scullin Government did much to encourage the tobacco-growing industry, but unfortunately technical knowledge was not then sufficient to overcome blue mould which damaged many crops, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales. I am glad to say that since then officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have been successful in overcoming blue mould. As I said yesterday, tobacco-growing is eminently suited to intensive cultivation; a block of five acres is sufficient for the average producer. The Tobacco Committee meets regularly, and provided that appraisements are satisfactory, I predict a great future for this Australian industry. Anything that my department can do to develop it will be done. Good tobacco leaf can be grown in Queensland and Western Australia and also in some parts of South Australia, the Ovens Valley district of Victoria, and some areas of New South Wales. Had this industry been of bigger dimensions it would have been of great advantage to Australia during the war. It is not realized by many people that about 3,000,000 adults in Australia smoke approximately 25,000,000 lb. of tobacco each year.
– So far, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has dealt almost exclusively with the growing of tobacco. I should like to know whether his department is taking steps to encourage this industry in its manufacturing aspects. . In my opinion, Australian manufacturers of tobacco have not treated Australian leaf fairly. A good deal of the prejudice which exists against Australian tobacco is due to manufacturers not trying to meet the wishes and tastes of Australian smokers. I am aware of the connexion between the tobacco monopoly in this country and big overseas concerns, and should like the Minister and his officers to ensure that manufacturers shall not sabotage this Australian industry. In order to develop it fully, attention to its manufacturing aspects is necessary.
.- Senator Sheehan has charged Australian manufacturers of tobacco with deliberately sabotaging the Australian tobaccogrowing industry. I cannot allow that charge to pass without protest. Australian manufacturers are only too glad to get as much Australian leaf as possible. The honorable senator goes a little too far when he blames Australian manufacturers for smokers not liking some types of Australian tobacco. Every smoker knows that Australian, leaf has its distinctive flavour or tang which many smokers do not like. The Government has wisely followed a policy of educating the people of Australia to use Australian leaf by insisting on increased percentages of such leaf being used in all blends. A great deal of the trouble is due to the fact that much of our tobacco is grown on land which is too heavy for cigarette tobacco. Senator Sheehan’s implication that tobacco manufacturers are deliberately sabotaging not only the Australian tobacco industry but also their own business is ridiculous. What does it matter to them what leaf they use in manufacture?
– It makes a difference if the Australian companies are tied up with an overseas monopoly.
– Australian manufacturers are obliged to import tobacco leaf, and in order to do so they must find sufficient dollar funds. In the future they will have great difficulty in that respect. Apparently, Senator Sheehan makes his charge merely because he regards all manufacturers as saboteurs of Australian industry. The absurdity of his charge is clear; to the degree that the manufacturers suit the Australian public, the greater will be the sales of their products.
.- Under the Customs Act the manufacturers of tobacco are compelled to use a proportion of Australian leaf. However, Senator Sheehan is most concerned about the sale of inferior tobacco. All that I can say in reply is that the grades of leaf vary considerably, and there are hig, medium anil small manufacturers. Some of the lower grade leaf is made up into an inferior smoking tobacco, and this is sold at cheaper prices. Under tobacco rationing, care is taken to ensure that a reasonable proportion of good leaf is despatched to every centre. Thus, every one is obliged to take a little of the inferior tobacco. The Government has not power to control the quality of tobacco. That is a State matter, and the Government has made repeated efforts to have the position improved. I have received numerous complaints about the sale of inferior tobacco, and samples which have been sent to me have been analysed by our experts. We have taken all steps possible to check the sale of inferior leaf, but so far we have not been successful. The big tobacco companies, undoubtedly, make a lot of money, but they are heavily taxed and are subject to price fixation. It is fair to say that they have co-operated in tobacco rationing, and have worked very well with the department in that respect. I do not know of any occasion on which they have failed to comply with a direction.
– I should like the Minister to indicate what plans the Government has in mind to encourage scientific investigations into various spheres of primary production. Is it doing anything in cooperation with the States to provide scholarships for the training of young agriculturists? Every honorable senator realizes the need to improve our methods of production, to increase the rate of production, and, at the same time, reduce the cost of production in order to enable us to compete on overseas markets without having to impose undue levies on our own people in the form of a home consumption price. The provision of educational facilities for young agriculturists should he part and parcel of a comprehensive national scheme in an endeavour to keep Australia abreast of the most up-to-date primary producing countries. With only one government, the Dominion of New Zealand is better able to tackle this problem than we are. Owing to a multiplicity of governments considerable overlapping seems to be unavoidable in Australia. However, I emphasize the importance of scientific research in primary production. Will the Minister outline what the Government is doing in this direction?
. -The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) in reply to the point I raised with respect to the sale of inferior tobacco did not deal with my main point. [ dismiss Senator Leckie’s spirited defence of monopolies. I am convinced that Australia is fast coming under the domination of an absolute monopoly so far as the manufacture of tobacco and cigarettes are concerned. During the last few years the products of smaller companies have completely disappeared from the market. If this trend continues the Australian tobacco growers will be completely at the mercy of a tobacco monopoly. Monopolists are not concerned about how, or where, they make profits so long as they make them. Scores of growers in this country were driven out of the industry because of the unpayable prices offered to them for their products by the tobacco monopoly, and because of the failure of past governments to provide adequate tariff protection for the industry. I should like the Minister to note that there is very little difference, if any, between the prices of brands of tobacco now being sold. The inferior brands are causing Australian smokers to eschew Australian tobacco. This is not merely a matter for departmental action; the Government must ensure that tobacco produced from Australian leaf is made as palatable as possible to the Australian smoker. To-day, certain brands of tobacco consist of sweepings and stems, and this is encouraging the prejudice against the Australian leaf. That prejudice must be broken down immediately.
.- I shall again examine the matter raised by Senator Sheehan. However, I repeat that the Government has already given considerable attention to it. Not only Australian leaf is inferior; some of the imported leaf also comes within that category. Some of the leaf now being sold should not be permitted to enter the market. However, owing to the lack of man-power, which has resulted in a shortage of leaf, manufacturers have been obliged to use everything in manufacture, including the stems.
Senator Herbert Hays inquired whether the Government had any plans for the education of young agriculturists. The authority to be set up under the Education Bill will deal with subjects of the kind raised by the honorable senator. Up to date this has been solely a State matter. Agricultural colleges exist in all of the States for the training of young agriculturists. Furthermore, under the Government’s rehabilitation scheme opportunity will be provided to exservice personnel to be trained in all branches of primary production.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Social See vices.
Proposed vote, £632,000.
.- The Department of Social Services seems to be broken up into a number of subdepartments each being under separate administration. They include Head Office, Child Endowment, Invalid and Old-age Pensions, “Widows’ Pensions, and Unemployment and Sickness Benefits sections. Is this system to be perpetuated? I had the idea that all of these sections would now be consolidated in one department. The appropriation proposed in respect of the Unemployment and Sickness Benefits Section this year is £220,000, whereas last year £10,548 was voted for this purpose. I am not questioning the amount, because this is a new activity and the Government must provide for it. However, the Department of Social Services should be provided for under one head, and should have only one administrative staff. Otherwise, a big department may spring up eventually from each of these subdepartments. Can the Minister say when the unemployment and sickness benefits section will come into full operation?
.- All of the sub-departments listed in the Estimates are under the control of the Director-General of Social Services, Mr. Rowe. Necessarily, these various subdepartments have different functions, and it is necessary to show precisely the appropriations to be made in respect of each of them. This does not involve overlapping at all. Whilst Mr. Rowe i« the Director-General of Social Services, Dr. Mc Galium, for instance, is the head of the health services, and certain subsections come under his branch. The sub-departments are” merely shown so that the actual costs can be made clear to honorable senators.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Supply and Shipping.
Proposed vote, £288,000.
.- When the construction of the Captain Cook Graving Dock in Sydney was planned by a previous government, the total cost was estimated to he a little more than £3,000,000. I understand that the actual cost has been much higher than that figure, and is in the vicinity of £8,000,000 or £10,000,000. This compares most unfavorably with the cost of the second-largest graving dock in the world which has just been completed at Capetown in South Africa. The total cost of that dock was £3,500,000.
– It is absurd to compare the cost of the graving dock in South Africa with that of the Captain Cook Graving Dock. In South Africa, native labour was used, and the materials imported from Great Britain had to be transported only half as far as those which were brought to Australia.
– We did not have to import cement or steel.
– Certain machinery had to be imported. A great deal of the plant was brought from Great Britain.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote- Department of External Territories, £40,000 - agreed to.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed vote, £216,000.
– I notice that £65,000 is set aside for child immigration. This, of course, is only ancillary to the complete migration scheme. Child migration is of little immediate value from the point of view of the defence of Australia. For this reason, adult migration should have first priority, but, nevertheless, every financial support should be given to the child migration scheme. Many religious and other organizations in
Western Australia are agitating in favour of the encouragement of child migration, and the subject is one of great public interest in that State. I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that adequate financial assistance mli be given not only to child migration, but also to British adult, migration, for which £50,000 is provided in the Estimator, with a view to increasing our population a* rapidly as possible.
.- The provision of £65,000 foi child migration is intended to cover the costs of the overseas mission for the selection of children in the United Kingdom and on the continent for migration to Australia, the costs of passages for children, escorts, &c, and the operation of cottage homes, hostels, &c, in Australia. The provision of £50,000 for British adult, migration is intended to cover the costs of the reception and accommodation of British ex-service personnel, the costs of transport to their final Australian destinations, the) costa of assisted passages for British migrant? other than ex-service personnel, and associated expenditure.
– The Minister has not mentioned payment by the Commonwealth for the education and sustenance of child migrants who are already in Australia. I hope that payments in respect of the Fairbridge Farm School and similar institutions will be maintained.
– No phase of the welfare of children after their arrival in Australia is being overlooked.
– Has any provision been made for the encouragement of immigrants from the United States of America, particularly ex-servicemen, including those who have married Australian women ? If not, will the Government consider the matter! 1 know that there are many Americans, especially in California, who are anxious to settle in Australia.
.- -This phase of the Government’s immigration policy is being given attention. The Government is making it as easy cs possible for ex-servicemen in the United States of America to take advantage of our immigration proposals, the details of which are still under consideration. These matters require collaboration with the countries concerned, and thin applies particularly to the United States cf America. Wherever possible, regulations are being waived in order to assist the entry to Australia of ex-service migrants from America.
– There has been a great deal of delay in the issuing of naturalization papers to qualified aliens, and I understand that applications are banking up. Many of these people, who will be worthy citizens, are becoming impatient at the delay. I realize that war-time staff shortages and other difficulties have caused delay, but I now ask the Minister to expedite the handling of applications for naturalization.
– When naturalization applications were being handled by the Department of the Interior, enlistments from the staff caused delay in the issuing of certificates. The difficulty was partly overcome by the employment of untrained girls. However, the disturbed state of affairs in other countries and the improved conditions made available by this Government to persons already resident in Australia caused a large increase of the volume of applications for certificates. Apart from the need for an increase of the number of efficiently trained officers, more delay has occurred than previously. At one stage I stipulated that every application was to be dealt with in its turn, according to the date it bore, because I found that persons with a .certain amount of influence could get an application heard before prior applications were considered. If there has been delay in any case, it is due to the fact that the staff has been working under abnormal conditions. I understand that the congestion has now been overcome.
– The amounts of £5,000 for subsidies to farm schools and £7,500 for subsidies to voluntary organizations appear to be very small.
– Provision is made in the proposed vote of £5,000 for subsidies to farm schools to cover the requests for capital assistance in increasing the facilities at existing schools. When I was Minister for the Interior, I was so impressed with the excellence of the work being done at the area schools in Tasmania that I took the opportunity to send one of my principalofficers to that State to inspect the activities there. We intended at that stage to take full advantage of those establishments. The proposed vote of £7,500 is intended to provide subsidies to approved immigration organizations attending to the reception, placement and after-care of immigrants. Years ago, when immigrants were being brought to Australia in large numbers, the work accomplished by certain organizations of that kind was mostly satisfactory. Applications have been received from numerous voluntary societies to be allowed to assist in the immigration work now being undertaken, and after careful inquiry we have accepted the cooperation of certain approved organizations. Some of the applications were rejected, because it was not practicable in the circumstances to accept them.
– The increase of the expenditure on immigration activities from £32,420 to £216,000 would indicate to an outsider that the Government has now decided to pursue a vigorous immigration policy.
– Not on the figures presented to us.
– At least the Government has made a start in that direction. The sum of £25,000 is proposed to be expended for migration publicity, and that is something new. I wish to know how the proposed expenditure squares with the declaration of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) that Australia will not be prepared to take immigrants for about eighteen months or two years. Of what use is it to provide for considerable expenditure in connexion with a migration policy, and at the same time to tell the world that Australia is not ready to receive migrants at present? Does the Government imagine that two years hence, when workers overseas will have settled down in new niches, they will be willing to consider migration to this country? Now is the time when people will be inclined to immigrate.
– How could they be brought out in view of the fact that shipping facilities are not available?
– I do not know. If the Government and its supporters are helpless in this matter they should not try to deceive the people into believing that they have a vigorous immigration policy. Expenditure on a publicity campaign to attract people who cannot be expected to come to Australia during the next two years seems to be a waste of money.
– It is refreshing to hear Senator Leckie admit that he does not know how shipping facilities could be provided for the transport of immigrants to Australia from overseas countries. He says that h« desires certain information, if the Minister dealing with the matter will agree to let him have it. I am not aware that I have ever been backward in supplying information sought by honorable senators. He dealt first with the proposed vote of £25,000 for immigration publicity, and before he had finished he referred to the total vote of the Department of Immigration. I have not read a statement by anybody to the effect that Australia will be unable to take any migrants for two years, and I do not believe that the honorable senator has.
– I have. It was made by the High Commissioner for Australia in London.
– The statement made by that official was not to that effect. It was not made in the terms employed by the honorable senator. A comprehensive scheme with regard to publicity necessary to implement fully the Government’s decisions with respect to its migration policy has been drawn up, and covers such expenditure as newspaper advertising, picture service to the British press, and specialized press exploitation. Regarding radio publicity, it provides for the engagement of talent, recordings, Ac., a short-wave wireless migration service to the British Broadcasting Corporation, features on continental radios, and broadcasting generally to Great . Britain. Short documentary films are contemplated and subsidies to ensure a wider exhibition of approved commercial feature films dealing with Australian life. Printed material to be provided includes posters, brochures, leaflets, &c. There are to be subsidies to secure cheap publication in Great Britain of approved books on Australian life. The preparation of books and visual aids for use in schools in Great Britain is also proposed. Lecturer* will be maintained in Great Britain, and there will be sponsored visits to Australia by British newspaper correspondents. Il is estimated that, when fully organised, publicity expenditure will exceed £100,000 per annum. It is considered that £25,000 will be sufficient for the time being. If Australia is to attract immigrants of the type needed, ?t must encourage potential migrants to bt interested in this country. We propose to expend £25,000 for publicity purpose? in the hope that preparation will be made for the migration to this country of settlers of the right kind.
.- The Minister should be able to give information in general terms concerning the representations to be made to people overseas about Australia, and he should also tell us what provision will be made to receive migrant* on arrival. We have had unfortunate experience in the past in that migrants have been deceived as to their prospects in Australia. On one occasion, when a vigorous policy was in operation, people who had migrated to Australia from Great Britain were leaving this country at one period at the rate, I believe, of almost 1,000 a month. They were returning to the Old Country because they were dissatisfied with their prospects in Australia. Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– In asking the Minister to indicate the Government’s policy in regard to immigration, I hope that the mistakes of the past will not be repeated. In 19*25 and 1926 Australia had agencies in Great Britain to induce people to migrate to Australia. I do not say that conditions in Australia were misrepresented, but the fact remains that many of those who came here were unhappy and returned to the Old Country as soon as they could. Unfortunately, they went back with a bad impression of Australia. Those of us who were born in Australia believe that this is one of the best countries in the world. People born in Great Britain probably think the same of their native land. It is idle to say that there is not room in Australia for a much larger population. This country has great potentialities and could absorb many millions of migrants. Queensland, for instance, could carry a population equal to the present population of the whole. of the Commonwealth and still not be over-crowded. Western Australia also offers great possibilities for development and a much bigger population. It is all very well to be enthusiastic on the subject of immigration but we must not allow our enthusiasm to warp our judgment. It will be useless to attract people to Australia unless Australians treat them as friends when they come here. Nor should people be told that they have only to come to Australia to make fortunes; they must know that they cannot succeed unless they are prepared to work hard. A good deal has been said regarding child immigrants, but the situation is not so easy as some people would have us believe. What would we say if it were suggested that large numbers of Australian children should migrate to another country? We must be sure that we are acting wisely when wo decide on our immigration policy. It is useless to bring people here as the result of deceptive propaganda. The truth about Australian conditions must be told. It must be remembered that we are setting out to attract not tourists but permanent residents, and so the difficulties and hardships as well as the attractions of Australian life must be told to would-be immigrants. Australia was developed by pioneers who triumphed over many adversities, and those who will come here in the future must have the same spirit. I am no dismal Jonah, but I repeat that care must be taken to present the facts to those whom we would attract to this country and that Australians must learn to welcome them when they come if they are to become good Australian citizens.
– On several occasions I have suggested that some of the millions of war orphans in Europe should be brought to Australia as immigrants. There is a splendid opportunity to bring to this country children who would grow up as Australians and become valuable citizens in the future. In my opinion, the sum of £65,000 set down in the Estimates for child immigration is too small. There are many thousands of homeless orphans in Europe and* I suggest that an organization be established to care for them until shipping is available to bring them to Australia. The children should be educated and trained in those occupations which would be of use to them in Australia. I hope that my suggestion will receive consideration.
– I have some knowledge of the difficulties associated with immigration as I was immigration officer for Tasmania between 1922 and 1925. The only indication of the Government’s policy in regard to immigration was contained in a statement that it was prepared to accept 51,000 children in a period of three years, or about 17,000 a year. I also read a report from London that Australia could not do anything in regard to migration for another two years. The report went on to say that many thousands of inquiries were being made at Australia House regarding migration to Australia, but that applicants could not get any information. The Estimates contain a sum for advertising Australia with a view to encouraging immigration, but that is putting the cart before the horse. It is useless to expend money on advertisements to attract immigrants when we have no proper scheme for handling them should they come. It is foolish to say that Australia cannot absorb any immigrants until all its own people have found employment. Statistics for the period 1909 to 1914 show that during those years this country absorbed 260,000 immigrants. Honorable senators will recollect that that period was one of great prosperity, with little unemployment. The argument that immigrants will cause unemployment is absolute nonsense. Immigrants create employment, as the experience of the United States of
America before a quota system was introduced proves conclusively. Those who come to Australia will need milk, bread, meat and other food, as well as clothing and shelter. In providing those things employment is created. The immigrants that Australia needs are people with a good fighting record. History shows that certain nations have very good fighting records, and their peoples are imbued with a .spirit of independence. To put it bluntly they have “ guts “. On the other hand, other peoples lack this quality. If we intend merely to keep on waiting until we can absorb people from outside, we hall go on waiting for ever. A very large number of servicemen of various nationalities, who, for various and obvious reasons, do not desire to return to their own countries, could no doubt be attracted to Australia. I refer, for instance, to Poles, who are fine fighting men. A Polish squadron was one of the finest that took part in the Battle of Britain. There are also many Czechs, and numbers from other European countries who do not desire to return to their native land, who would make desirable settlers and citizens in this country. If the policy of the Government at present is that we can absorb only so many children from abroad to the exclusion of adults, the outlook is pretty gloomy for Australia. The amount proposed to be appropriated for the Department of Immigration reveals timidity on the part of the Government in dealing with this problem. It is shrinking from the job. I should welcome to this country at present all the people who are known to have the best fighting traditions and are imbued with the spirit of democracy. However, the proposed vote represents a most timid approach to this problem which we must face, or else suffer the consequences.
, - I note with pleasure the provision being made in respect of immigration for the ensuing financial year. The fact that the amount is comparatively small is not inconsistent with a businesslike approach to the problem. Senator Leckie wanted to know why any provision was being made at all in view of the fact that it would not be possible to bring adult migrants to this country for the next eighteen’ months or two years. Obviously, the Government must first provide transport to Australia for the wives of Australian servicemen in Great Britain. They number several thousands. Then, there are still many Australians in Great Britain who happened to be in that country at the outbreak of war. No doubt, they will want to return to Australia. However, this provision is being made in respect of preliminary work. Propaganda must be carried out. It would be absurd to suggest that the amount proposed would be sufficient were it possible to bring large numbers of migrants to this country within the near future. I congratulate Senator Herbert Hays on his speech on this subject. He dealt with practically every phase of the problem, and discussed the matter very fairly. He pointed out the difficulties involved. He mentioned one cause of our failure in respect of migration in the past, namely, the antagonism shown to many migrants. He suggested that, primarily, we should attract the right people, and endeavour to place such people in avenues most suited to their ability.
– Including Scots?
– But for the fact that large numbers of Scots came to this country, Australia would have reverted to the aborigines. The fact that Australia is a good place to live in to-day is due largely to the migration to this land of the physical Scot who came here 100 years ago, and the intellectual Scot who migrated to Australia during the last 30 years. We must take cognizance of the fact that between the two world wars, more Britishers left Australia permanently than came from Britain to settle permanently in this country. What was the reason for that fact? Many of them did not have sufficient “ guts “ to make a success of life in this country. Australia is a tough country, and in order to make good here, one must keep coming up despite knocks. The Australian admires any one who will keep on fighting. He will stick to any migrant who displays gameness. This is not a country for weaklings, or for those who have not intestinal fortitude. Secondly, many of those migrants were hopelessly incompetent to make a success of life in the occupations which they undertook. Many were put on the land, and failed at that task. In this connexion, we may learn a lesson from the picture which honorable senators viewed recently which depicted a one-man farm on which, through the use of machinery, the expenditure of manual energy on the land was practically eliminated. However, one of the main causes for the loss of many migrants in the past, was the offensive remarks made about them by Australians. The Sydney Bulletin, which is looked upon as being the acme of Australian psychology, has for the last 30 years ridiculed the “ pommy “ in most offensive and insulting cartoons. The reaction of many migrants to such treatment was, “ This is no good to me. I have been insulted here. I am going back to my own people”. “We must realize that whilst we may be doing migrants who come here a good turn, at the same time they are also doing this country a service. The most vital problem confronting Australia is the need to increase our population. Either we must solve that problem, or we shall lose Australia. Our population of 7,000,000 occupies an island continent exceeding 3,000,000 square miles in area. The greatest menace to this country is ite emptiness. Japanese invariably inquire of Australians how many people live in Australia. When I was asked that question on one occasion and replied, “7,000,000”, my questioner said, “Not quite”. And when the Japanese are told the area of Australia, they want to know why they are not allowed to settle here. We cannot justify the White Australia policy unless we increase our population. I am in favour of a White Australia policy provided we are able to maintain, it. But we must be realistic. We must either populate the country, or sooner or later be overrun by Asiatic peoples. However, I believe that we can fully populate Australia with Europeans.
– It will be a slow process.
– That, of course, will depend on who is doing the job. My experience teaches me that nothing that is worth while can be done quickly. If we cannot obtain sufficient numbers of migrants we must attract migrants of quality. One man who can develop the atomic bomb is worth millions of people employed digging the ground with primitive rakes. Looking at this problem objectively we are forced to the conclusion that up to date we have not justified our existence. I do not mean that we have not done a great job, or that we have not done our best for ourselves and our country. However, Australia has been occupied by the white man for over 150 years, but our population to-day is only 7,000,000. The population of Great Britain was about 7,000,000 200 years ago, and the United States of America, in the last few hundred years, has built up a population of 145,000,000. We have failed to populate Australia. We must now study the best means to solve this problem, because it is the most important subject that can be discussed by the Parliament. We may discuss wages, capital, labour, industrial conciliation and arbitration, but all these are mere incidentals alongside the fact that to-day our small population occupies a country over 3,000,000 square miles in area. In Japan, every little piece of land on the hillside is terraced and cultivated in “pocket handkerchief blocks “. Much of the land in Japan is unfit for cultivation, and 70,000,000 people are crammed on those small islands, whilst a few thousand miles away our small population occupies a vast continent. We cannot justify our occupancy of this country unless we solve this problem. I do not agree entirely with the view often expressed by trade union leaders that migrants who come to this country must necessarily displace Australians in employment. That conclusion has not been borne out as the result of the settlement of European refugees in England during the recent war. Those refugees did not displace Britons in their employment. On the contrary they inaugurated many new industries, such as the making of leather bags of a kind not previously made in England. Emigres from Czechoslovakia, in particular, developed certain phases of the glass manufacturing industry not previously undertaken in England. Indeed, statisticians who made a study of the effect of this wave of migration to England, have come to the conclusion that those migrants did not displace any English people in employment. I do not say that that argument is conclusive, because other factors, such as war conditions, must also be taken into consideration. However, whether or not the entry of migrants to Australia will result in the displacement of some people in employment, the fact remains that we must increase our population. I am confident that all parties in the Parliament will do their best to see that the right class of migrant is attracted to this country. I repeat that we must, in future, welcome our own kith and kin from Great Britain. There is no difference between a Britisher and an Australian. The great majority of Australians are descendants of British people. I have no blood relatives in this country. All of my relatives are in Great Britain, and I know their difficulties. Of course, as I said earlier, many migrants who came to Australia in the past were not of the type to make a success of life in a new land. But, on the other hand, many of those were of good type and supersensitive. They objected to the insulting attitude adopted towards them by Australians, and eventually returned to the Old Country. We should realize that it is to our own interest to attract British migrants to this country. I repeat that we must populate this country, or lose it altogether.
.- I am not sorry that I started the ball rolling on- this subject, because we have just listened to a very interesting speech by Senator Grant. I never become oratorical or provocative. All I want to know is why £25,000 is set aside for migration publicity at a time_ when the Government declares that it is not prepared to take immigrants for the next two years. That has been denied, by interjection, by honorable senators opposite, but I base my statement on the following newspaper report of a letter which the High Commissioner in London has prepared for circulation to prospective migrants : -
The retiring High Commissioner for Australia, Mr. S. M. Bruce, will issue a letter soon advising all potential migrants to Australia, that it may be any period up to two years before assisted immigration can be resumed on a general scale. The letter states that while Australia wants mure people as fast as she can take them, Australia has more than 500,000 service men and women still to foe demobilized and placed in jobs before openings can be offered people from other countries.
The report then goes on to refer to shipping shortages. The Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) made a. similar statement in the House of Representatives, and, in answer to a question which I asked, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Keane) said that two years would elapse before immigration plans could become effective. The Government has no immigration policy in operation at present. Why should it expend £25,000 to encourage immigrants who will not be welcome ?
– Why bring them here when we have no homes for them?
– The honorable senator agrees with me that we should not bring migrants to Australia until we can provide them with accommodation and work. There can be no question about the need to increase our population, in the interests of defence, but publicity will be wasteful unless we can commence immigration at once. Unless we obtain immigrants within the next two years it will be useless to try to persuade them to come here.
– Even if we could get immigrants now, we would not be able to bring them here owing to the shipping shortage.
– The honorable senator admits that the Government is helpless. I agree that it is helpless in this and in many other matters. If the Government’s protestations are sincere, it should proceed with its plans at once while prospective migrants are undecided about their future plans. If it waits for two years, these people will settle down and will not want to uproot themselves again. The Government says, in a pusillanimous way : “ These are the advantages of coming to Australia, but for God’s sake do not come for two years.” I question the wisdom of expending £25,000 on publicity to deceive people.
– I want to put Senator Leckie right on two points about which he has - misconceptions. It is important that the statements which he persists in repeating as though they were official should be denied. The original statement made on behalf of the Government was that we should require up to two years before we could commence immigration on a general scale. There has been no suggestion that we will be unprepared to receive immigrants for the next two years. The honorable senator has also taken exception to the proposed expenditure this year of £25,000 for migration publicity abroad. I . have already mentioned some of the purposes for which this money will be employed. The fund will also be devoted to the distribution of printed material such as posters, brochures and leaflets, to the provision of subsidies to secure cheap publication in Great Britain of approved books dealing with Australian life, to the preparation of talks and visual aids for British school children, to the payment of (lecturers in Great Britain, to the encouragement of visits to Australia by British newspaper correspondents, and to incidental expenditure. It is estimated that, when fully organized, the publicity campaign overseas will cost more than £100,000 per annum. However, it is considered that £25,000 will he sufficient for this year. One of the things which we want the people of Great Britain and other countries to understand is the nature of our existing social services and our plans for the future, which, in some respects, are superior to those of their own countries. Is there anything wrong with informing them of the advantages of living in Australia ? We do not want to deceive them. We should explain the position to them so that, when opportunities are available for migration to take place on a large scale, we shall have no difficulty in persuading people to come here.
– I am hopeful that Australian publicity overseas on this occasion will be different from that which was used to encourage immigration after the war of 1914-18. Recently I met in Perth a number of people who came from Great Britain under an earlier scheme and who are still trying to repay the fares which were advanced to them by the Government of the day. Many of these immigrants have received such a raw deal that they have never been able to wipe out their indebtedness. Although their sons and daughters have served in our fighting forces, they are still bound bv those old debts and are unable to leave Australia until they pay them off. Many of these people were in receipt of dole payments for years because the land on which they were settled was unsuitable for farming of any sort, and particularly for the sort of farming in which they were expected to engage. We must have the best sort of migration publicity abroad in future, and we must offer every possible facility to immigrants in order to prevent a repetition of the soul-searing experiences to which immigrants were subjected after the war of 1914-18. Already many instrumentalities are prepared to employ young migrants. Five or six such organizations in Western Australia would welcome young people from other countries now, and we should proceed at once with our immigration plans. Many war orphans in Europe would welcome a chance to start life anew in Australia ; they would become good citizens in the best Australian traditions. Our publicity in London must be of the kind mentioned by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Collings) so that prospective immigrants will have no misconceptions about life in this country. Many members of the British naval forces who are now in Australia will be good ambassadors for us on their return to Great Britain. Recently I met in Western Australia a number of Americans who are anxious to settle here and invest money in secondary industries. Any plan to publicize Australia overseas should have the support of the committee. I do not care greatly what sort of publicity is used, as long as it is honest. The proposed vote of £25,000 for an advertising campaign overseas is a reasonable amount to expend this year, and it should yield good dividends provided that people are not misled. We must not have a hotchpotch migration policy such as the one that caused so much distress to English migrants after the war of 1914-18.
.- I am a much misunderstood man, but I bear my fate with a gentle resignation which is very commendable in a senator.
I repeat that I do not object to £25,000 being expended on publicity overseas. In fact, I would not object to £100,000 being devoted to a publicity campaign, because Australia’s population should be increased as soon as possible. My objection is to the expenditure of the money at a time when the Government has declared that it Will not be able to take immigrants for two years.
– The honorable senator knows that the Government has made no such statement.
– The letter written by the High Commissioner in London, on behalf of the Government, stated that immigration may not be undertaken for any period up to two years.
– That may mean only three months.
-In all probability when Mr. Bruce mentions two years, the Government will take three years. It is always a little behind time. Australia is not any better off than other countries which in the past six years have devoted all their energies to war. We have spent colossal sums of money on the prosecution of the war. There has been huge wastage, and we cannot afford to throw more money into the gutter; but what has the Minister said ? He has told us that this money is to ‘be spent upon posters, brochures, and lectures. And for what purpose? To bring migrants to this country two years from now, or at an even later date. Does he not think that we should strike while the iron is hot? I do not wish to be misunderstood. I should have no objection to the £25,000 being expended on migration publicity if we were prepared immediately to bring migrants to this country. Apparently, the Government’s intention is to interest prospective migrants in the possibilities of this country and then to say to them, “ Have a holiday for two years. At the end of that time we shall be in a position to accept you.”
– I asked the Minister if any portion of the £65,000 to be expended upon child migration in the current financial year had been set aside to bring war orphans from Europe. I should like some information on that matter.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland-
Vice-President of the Executive Council) [3.2]. - Apparently certain honorable senators opposite believe that in dealing with the various items of expenditure under the heading of immigration, all the details of the Government’s migration policy should be outlined. There may be occasions on which that would be done, but certainly at this stage it is quite impossible. Senator Leckie said that the Government did not have an immigration policy. That is not true. The Government has a policy, and is developing it as rapidly as possible. Honorable senators opposite should not run away with the idea that there are countries ready to make available immediately large numbers of migrants to settle in Australia. Any one who believes that shows little knowledge of international affairs. . Originally the Government set up an inter-departmental committee to inquire into migration. Members of that committee were men of outstanding ability, and they made an exhaustive inquiry. They explored all phases of the subject and compiled a wealth of valuable information. Subsequently, a Cabinet subcommittee was appointed to further examine the position. The Government has been negotiating with other countries, particularly the United Kingdom. These negotiations have been protracted because of the important details involved. Consideration has had to be given to such matters as the fares to be charged to migrants. There was considerable discussion on that matter. We objected to the amounts suggested. Eventually agreement was reached upon figures considerably more modest than the original claims. Other difficulties cropped up in connexion with the benefits to be received in this country by migrants compared with those offered in other countries. The question of reciprocity was also considered. I can assure honorable senators opposite that there is no need for them at this stage to point out that a population of 7,000,000 people is too small for this huge territory. Everybody knows that to be true ; but it is foolish to assume that large numbers of migrants can be brought from other countries immediately to meet Australia’s requirements. Transport for instance would make mass movements of migrants utterly impossible.
Shipping isso shortat present that we are unable to transport Australian brides to their husbands in other countries as quickly as we would like.
– We cannot provide sufficient transport to bring prisoners of war and members of our fighting forces home as expeditiously as we had hoped.
SenatorCOLLINGS. - Exactly. Is it suggested that migrants should be brought to Australia whilst these other important tasks remain undone?
I emphasize again that the Government has a definite migration policy. It has set up an organization, and is exploring every possible avenue. The estimated expenditure of £25,000 on publicityis the amount that we consider to be necessary immediately to create the right atmosphere and to make prospective migrants feel that Australia offers to them the best opportunities. The latest information available from Australia House is that of all the Dominions seeking migrants, Australia is in the best position to receive them, because its plans are more advanced than those of other countries.
– The Minister has not yet answered my question. I am not concerned with the expenditure of £25,000 on publicity, or with the other matters that have been mentioned. We have a duty to the people who elect us to Parliament, and I have been requested by certain organizations to furnishthem with information regarding the bringing of war orphans to this country. I have raised this matter on several occasions. I assume that of the £65,000 allocated for expenditure during the current financial year on child migration, a portion will be allocated to orphans. The Minister has not indicated what the Government intends to do with this money.
– The £65,000 earmarked is the amount which we consider will be necessary immediately to commence the work of bringing child migrants to this country. That work of course cannot be started until children are available. It will be a task of some magnitude to bring over 50,000 children to this country within three years. Child migration is one phase of the Government’s migration policy which has been completed, and its implementation depends only upon physical factors such as the availability of war orphans, and the provisions of transport.
– “What organization does the Government have for this work?
SenatorCOLLINGS. - There are organizations in various parts of Australia which have rendered yeoman service in the past in connexion with child migration. These include institutions such as the Fairbridge Farm School in Western Australia. Some organizations of course have been rejected as worthless, but I can assure Senator Arnold that we are very keen to bring children to this country. Not only are we taking steps to have them brought here as soon as possible, but also we are making complete arrangements for their care after arrival. If there are any other details that Senator Arnold seeks I shall be pleased to make them available to him.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Defence andWar (1939-45) Services.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £197,000.
– Honorable senators will recall that in February, 1943, we passed a bill authorizing for the duration of the war, the services of members of our citizen forces within a certain zone of the Southwestern Pacific theatre of war. Quite a number of honorable senators were opposed to that legislation. Hostilities have now ceased, and the effects of that measure are being brought to our notice rather forcibly. The act might be termed the “ Curtin Limitation Act or the “ Curtin Line Act “. It limited service by citizen forces to a zone bounded on the north by the Equator, in the west by the 110th meridian, and in the east by the 159th meridian. No boundary was fixed on the south, so presumably we could have sent enlisted men to the South Pole had we so desired. The existence of this legislation however, meant that Australian Imperial Force men had to be sent to Nauru and Ocean Islands when the Japanese surrendered, and to evacuate the Japanese garrisons from those islands. Nauru is 26 miles south of the Equator, but unfortunately, it is beyond the 159th meridian, and Ocean Island is 125 miles farther east. The position was therefore, that troops who 1 had borne the burden of the fighting on Bougainville - I refer to one battalion in particular - had to be detailed for duty in Nauru and Ocean Island, to handle the evacuation and surrender of 1,250 Japanese. The circumstances of the surrender have not been reported very fully in the press. For instance, the newspapers omitted to mention that upon the arrival of the Australian troops, they found that the Japanese had already stacked their arms neatly and concentrated their munitions into dumps. They also had motor transport ready to assist the Australians in the assembly of stores. On the way to Torokina, the Japanese were well disciplined, clean and neat. A gentleman named Ottaway wrote a lot of rubbish in the press about the surrender at Nauru, but as I. have said the newspapers did not publish the other details which I have given. Most of the Australians detailed for this job had served since 1939, and their discharges were delayed because of these additional duties. They have also had to provide garrisons for Nauru and Ocean Island. So, the Government is reaping as it ha3 sown. Only now are the repercussions of that miserable legislation to which I have referred becoming apparent. “We could not send to Nauru and Ocean Island compulsorily enlisted troops who had remained within Australia during the whole of the war, and had never seen a shot fired in anger. It was further provided that the act should continue in force until the expiration of six months from the time when Australia ceased to be engaged in hostilities. Some of the veterans of the Middle East, Greece and Crete have borne the heat and burden of the day at Bougainville. It was proposed to give them either leave or discharge after their long service, and they were ready to leave Bougainville by the Taroona when this order was issued. They were the only troops who could be sent beyond the wretched “ Curtin. Line “, and they had to go, whereas the oompulsorily enlisted men who had not been outside Australia and its territorial limits escaped being sent to garrison our Pacific outposts. The act to which I have referred did a great deal of harm to Australia in Great Britain, the United States of America and elsewhere. It is deplorable that some of our men who have had six years service should have to go to places like Nauru and Ocean Island to form part of the garrison* there, when other members of the forces have not “ done their bit “. I say again that the act, which was passed despite the strong opposition raised to it in the Senate, was a shocking piece of legislation. To-day we are reaping the fruits of it, and those who voted for it should bc heartily ashamed of themselves.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed vote, £31,815,000.
– The expenditure last year on the Captain Cook Graving Dock, Sydney, was £1,848,486, and the proposed expenditure for the current year is £539,000. How is the latter amount apportioned, and does it represent the final charge against the dock, the cost of which has exceeded even estimates which were undreamt of?
– Is the honorable senator sorry that it was built?
– No, because the Lyons Government was associated with its construction long before the Curtin Government came into power. The estimates were exceeded during the term of the Curtin Government. I should like to know how much further expenditure will be incurred in the construction of the dock?
– The proposed expenditure of £509,000 this year is for the completion of the work.
– What will be th« total cost?
– Approximately £9,500,000.
.- I draw attention to Division 99 - “ General Expenses - H.M.A. Ships Fleet Auxiliaries and Naval Depots
The expenditure incurred under this heading last year when the war was in progress, amounted to £8,598,959, and the expenditure proposed for the ensuing year in time of peace is £7,500,000. That represents a reduction of 12 per cent., or about £1,000,000 less in peace than in war. There may be a valid reason why the propound expenditure on the Navy for the coming year is as high as it is, but 1 should lite to know what extravagances are attributable to the heavy proposed outlay. Why is the reduction not greater that it is! I know that in respect of war expenditure the Government has said broadly that the budget will be £100,000,000 less than previously. I suppose that was merely a guess. Is the amount by which the expenditure on the Navy should bo reduced, decided by means of guess-work? Perhaps the Government can offer a satisfactory explanation. The total expenditure under the control of the Department of the Navy is to be reduced from £34,262,694 - to £30,621,000. What expenditure has to be maintained at the war-time level ?
– The provision made in the last budget in Division 99 was £9,364,000, but the actual expenditure was only £8,598,959. The expenditure proposed for 1945-46 is £7,500,000. The Navy has been built up to its full strength, and it is just as active . as though the nation were still at war. It is doing essential work, such as removing prisoners of war, and its personnel has to be paid. The expenditure under this heading includes provision for the maintenance of the Fleet auxiliaries, including the cost of repairs to and the refitting of ships, supplies of oil fuel, bitumen, equipment, and medical, dental, and ordnance stores. I do not think the estimate could be further reduced. In view of the fact that the sum voted last year was not wholly expended, it is reasonable to suppose that the whole of the vote proposed for the coming year will not be used.
.- The explanation given by the Minister is that as the vote last year was not wholly expended, it is therefore necessary to vote £7,600,000 this year. Had he pre sented the argument that the Navy would probably have to work at full strength for a longer period than the other services in such operations as returning our troops to this country, I should have been satisfied. The demobilization of the Navy may not be carried out as rapidly as that of the other armed forces. I do not know whether the Government has reached a decision regarding Naval policy, and I do not press for a pronouncement on the matter at this early stage, but the Minister should not endeavour to justify the smallness of the reduction for this year by saying that the Navy did not expend last year as much as was voted. The plea that the department is so careful that it could have expended nearly £1,000,000 more than it did disburse leaves me cold. No doubt, it did its best to spend the money, and could not manage to do so. Many persons employed on the administrative side of the department are not now needed in the service. Many engaged on small craft of various kinds will no longer be required, because it cannot be claimed that they will be engaged in bringing back our prisoners of war and other troops, or in repatriating Japanese. I submit that in a year of peace £7,500,000 is a large sum to expend under this heading. I urge the Government to keep a wary eye on naval expenditure.
– It is generally agreed that surplus personnel will be the last of the fighting service men to be demobilized, because vessels will be required to bring troops back to Australia and to convey occupational forces to Japan. Provision has to be made to keep these ships moving.
– Under Division 100 - Auxiliary Vessels for Naval Defence Purposes - the sum of £400,000 is set down. Oan the Minister say whether that sum includes any expenditure in connexion with the building of wooden ships in Tasmania and
Western Australia? The cost of these small vessels should be thoroughly investigated. I regard an expenditure of over £200 a ton on shin construction aB evidence of wicked waste, particularly when I remember that private ship builders in Tasmania have constructed similar vessels for about £23 a ton.
.- The proposed vote of £400,000 does not include the wooden vessels to which the honorable senator has referred.
Proposed vote agreed to.
DEPARTMENT op the Army.
Proposed vote, £174,757,000.
.- Last year’s expenditure for the Department of the Army was £173,618,116. The proposed vote for 1945-46 is £174,757,000, or over £1,000,000 more than was expended last year. It may be that the amount includes deferred pay to members of the fighting services. Individual items of expenditure call for some explanation. For instance, the proposed vote of £20,000,000 for camp expenses, training, and maintenance, under Division 113, is only £5,626,087 less than the expenditure last year, which was a year of war. Does this item cover the cost of a scheme of universal training, or has the Government in mind the training of a new army for another war ? The figures -indicate a hopeless state of affairs. Similarly, the proposed expenditure of £24,183,000 on arms, armament, ammunition, mechanization, equipment, and reserves, under Division 122, is only £2,630,234 less than was expended in 1944-45. Why is so large an amount needed in peace-time?
– The proposed vote for the Department of the Army includes £69,000,000 for pay and allowances, £35,000,000 for deferred pay to members of the fighting services, £8,000,000 for pay to prisoners of war, and a similar sum for leave and other payments on demobilization. Those items alone total £120,000,000 of the total of £174,757,000.
– The items mentioned by the Minister cost only £104,927,921 last year.
– They will cost more this year, largely because of provision for deferred pay and other items which were not included in last year’s expenditure. Senator Leckie referred to
Division 122 - Arms, Armament, Ammunition, Mechanization, Equipment, and Reserves - for which the proposed vote is £24,183,000. That sum includes amounts owed abroad for arms and munitions which have been already received.
The sum of £20,000,000 for camp expenses, training and maintenance, covers maintenance and victualling of men in camps until they are demobilized. These men have to he kept in training, and they must be fed.
. -The sum of £2,000 is to be set aside for general expenses in connexion with rifle clubs and associations. Notwithstanding the advances that have been made in modern warfare, success depends largely on men having a complete mastery of their weapons. In the war of 1914-18 members of the regular army profited by the experience gained in South Africa in the war of 1899-1902, where they learned the power of the rifle in the hands of experts. During the war which has just ended rifle clubs throughout Australia were practically disbanded, but men associated with them continued to do much valuable work in a voluntary capacity, particularly in the training of young men prior to their call-up. I hope that as soon as practicable these clubs and associations will again become active. I disagree with those who say that they serve no good purpose. The value of the training of young men in the rudiments of musketry was shown in the jungles of New Guinea and other theatres of war. A rifle in the hands of a cool, calm, and determined man is a deadly weapon indeed, particularly when the man possessing it is under cover. I assume that the small amount which appears in the Estimates is merely to keep the organizations functioning. I have spoken to the Minister on many occasions about this matter in the hope that an increased allowance of .22 ammunition will be made available to members of rifle clubs and associations, so that men, who during the last two or three years have expended their own money and have devoted two or three nights a week as well as Saturday afternoons to making marksmen of young fellows whom they have trained, may be encouraged to continue their good work. We hear a lot about Tommy guns, Sten guns and Bren guns, but a skilled man with a rifle in his hands is a deadly foe indeed, particularly in jungle warfare. I hope that before the end of the financial year many of these rifle clubs and associations will again be as active as they were before the war.
.- Afl chairman of the Victorian Rifle Association I support the remarks of Senator Sampson. I have been in touch with the Minister in connexion with this matter, and he expressed the hope that next year the Government would be able to do something along the lines indicated by the honorable senator. For many years past the sum provided for this purpose has remained static at £2,000, but with the demobilization of young servicemen the matter assumes new importance. Most of these young fellows have a liking for the rifle and quick-firing weapons, and rifle clubs provide the means to keep our young men together, particularly in country districts, in voluntary groups in the interests of the defence of the country.. I should like to see at least £20,000 provided for this purpose next year. At present the Commonwealth Government holds in trust about £22,000, the property of the various rifle unions throughout tie Commonwealth. Before the end of the year that money should be returned to those organizations to enable them to meet the new conditions following the cessation of hostilities.
– Earlier to-day Senator Sampson ‘hao touched briefly on the occupational troops who will be required for some time to come to guard strategic points. This matter is a burning question with service veterans. I have not the slightest doubt that if the Army authorities called for volunteers for this work the response would bf> more than adequate. The Army authorities have had this matter under consideration for some time, and should know’ the number of men that will be required for this purpose. Volunteers could be given their leave £ad then despatched to the various areas in which they are required to serve.
I am certain that many men now awaiting discharge would be eager to volunteer for this work. However, the position to-day is most unsatisfactory. Whereas we have composite units of members of the Australian Imperial Force and members of the Militia forces, the former are being called upon to guard certain areas, and whilst they’ move forward the members of the Militia are left behind. This must cause considerable disorganization of unit commands. By calling for volunteers for this work, demobilization could be accelerated and much dissatisfaction among servicemen could thus be overcome.
Some time ago I spoke about certain deficiencies in Army units, and I received a number of letters from young servicemen dealing with the matter. I handed one of those letters to the Minister because I believed that it conveyed a very fair picture of the position. The writer was personally known to me. Honorable senators can imagine my surprise when I learned that this lad was carpeted by his commanding officer and asked for reasons why he had written to me on the matter. The name of the lad was Fountain, and he was a member of the 2nd/14th Field Regiment, of which the commanding officer was Colonel Hone. I did not think for one moment when I gave the letter to the Minister that the writer would be reprimanded, because it did not contain anything of military importance. I did not imagine that it would be used against a very good soldier.
– The remarks of Senator Sampson and Senator Brand with respect to the garrison forces will be brought to the notice of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde). The provision in respect of rifle clubs has been fixed at £2,000 annually for many years, but owing to the war the amount has not been fully expended. Only £1,209 was expended on this item last year.
– During the war these clubs have been dormant.
– I am fully aware of the position. The Government is sympathetic towards the encouragement of rifle clubs.
– And the provision of ammunition for rifle clubs?
-Yes. The Minister for the Army has announced in the House of Representatives that sympathetic consideration will he given to the encouragement of rifle clubs.
Senator SAMPSON ‘ (Tasmania) [3.52’. - I should like some information with respect to the item “ Australian Imperial Force - Maintenance in United Kingdom, £370,000”. Last year a sum of £61,000 was voted for this purpose, but the expenditure was nil. I should like information about the item, particularly in view of the fact that on DDay no slouch hats were to be seen in France or Belgium; and slouch hats have not yet been seen in Germany or Japan. I should like to know exactly the reason for this provision. Are any members of the Australian Imperial Force at present in the United Kingdom? If so, what are they doing there?
– This provision is in respect of the maintenance of Australian prisoners of war to be provided for by the British Government at the same per capita rate, namely, £205 per annum, as applies to personnel serving abroad under British Command. The amount provided covers three months’ maintenance at the above rate in respect of the estimated total number of Australian Military Force prisoners of war in Europe.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Arn.
Proposed vote, £86,203,000.
– I should like information with respect to the item “ Aircraft, Equipment and Stores, £21,000,000 “, beneath which appears the note, “Proceeds of sale of Lend-Lease aviation spirit and oil may be credited to this vote “. Perhaps, the Minister may be able to give some idea of the volume of the sales of high octane spirit imported under lend-lease. In common with other honorable senators from Western Australia, I have received a communication from the Roads Boards Association in that State urging me to press for the reduction of the petrol tax to 6d. a gallon, and ask that the proceeds of the tax be remitted Ik) the State? to be used for the maintenance of roads. Many roads in all States have been allowed to deteriorate during the war. That was unavoidable because of the shortage of man-power and of materials, such as bitumen. I agree with the request made by the Roads Boards Association of Western Australia, which is analogous to the Shire Councils Associations in the eastern States, that revenue derived from the petrol tax should be expended on the repair of roads which in most cases have been damaged as the result of use by the iron-tyred class of military vehicles. Can the Minister give us some details concerning the resale of this petrol “which, apparently, will enable the Government to recoup its very minute reduction of the rate of income tax as from the 1st January next?
– The aviation spirit referred to by Senator Allan MacDonald has been imported under lend-lease and purchased by the oil companies. It is then re-sold to the Department of Air. It ie expected that stocks of aviation petrol now in Australia will be used entirely for aviation purposes. It is unlikely that there will be a surplus for release to civilians.
– Does the re-sale of petrol by the Department of Air mean that the oil companies buy the fuel back, from the department?
– Yes. With regard to the quality of petrol, representations have been made to me on this subject in this chamber on several occasions, and I have entered into correspondence with the major oil companies. They are now endeavouring to arrange for an improved quality of petrol to be supplied by their parent companies. Low-grade petrol is being sold to private motorists because there was a high demand for tetra-ethyl lead, which is a constituent of high-grade petrol, for war purposes. This caused a shortage of supplies for civilian use.
– What about a reduction of the petrol tax?
– That is a matter of Government policy, which it is not proper to discuss on the Estimates.
.- The expenditure for the Department of Air is to be decreased from £119,929,146 last year to £86,208,000 this year. This is surprising in view of the increased vote for the Department of the Army. When I asked the reason for the increase of the Army estimates, I was given various reasons, and I accepted the explanation. The Department of Air has exactly the same obligations as the Army in respect of deferred pay, leave pay and demobilization, yet it can afford to make a reduction of over £33,000,000. I am glad to see that this can be done, but I should like the Minister to state the reason why it is possible for one war department to effect such a large saving whilst another war department requires additional funds.
– Senator Leckie has said that exactly the same conditions apply to the Department of Air as apply to the Department of the Army. I join issue with him, and say that there is a distinction with a considerable difference, as the honorable senator has so astutely deduced. The reduction of the proposed expenditure for the Department of Air is due to the fact that, for obvious reasons, the department is not now purchasing large quantities of equipment and aircraft and does not intend to maintain the wartime strength of aircraft.
– Parliament recently passed a bill to empower the Government to take over interstate airlines. Where is provision made in the Estimates for financing this activity? When the bill was before the Senate, we were told that the Government would proceed with the acquisition of civil interstate airlines forthwith. Has the Government been deterred by the announced intention of one of the civil, aviation companies to resist the Government’s proposal through the High Court, although Senator McKenna advised it positively that there was no constitutional bar to the immediate acquisition of interstate airlines? Is any provision made in the Estimates for compensation of the civil aviation companies in respect of their property!
– The honorable senator is apparently confusing the operational air forces with the civil airlines. The Government’s intention regarding nationalization of airlines has nothing to do with the matter now before the committee. As the honorable senator well knows, the Government has made its plans to take over the civil interstate airlines and is prepared to operate them, notwithstanding the report that the legislation is to be challenged in the High Court.
– This is an appropriate time for the Government to give an intimation to the Senate regarding its proposals to conduct interstate air services.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Courtice). Order I The honorable senator is not entitled to refer to the asquisition of civil airlines under the Department of Air.
– I have no desire to disobey your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but, for the benefit of the committee and the country in general, the Government should announce now what progress has been made with ite plans to nationalize civil interstate airlinos.
– The honorable, senator will be given ample information at the appropriate time.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Munitions.
Proposed vote, £7,432,000.
.- I direct attention to Division No. 147, relating to the construction of locomotives and rolling stock. What use is made of this rolling stock, and is it used on Commonwealth railways or State railways?
– The provision is required to meet expenditure in connexion with the construction of Garratt locomotives and bogie wagons. Expenditure in 1944-45 exceeded the estimate, because final construction costs exceeded anticipated costs. The proposed vote this year will cover the finalization of accounts and certain necessary alterations to existing locomotives.
– I should like to have some information regarding Division No. 145, which refers to shipbuilding plant, equipment, and buildings and reserves of materials, and regarding Division No. 146, which relates to the construction of standard ships. Last year, provision of £250,000 was made under Division No. 145, hut actual expenditure amounted to only £3,728. The proposed expenditure this year is £150,000. Last year an amount of £3,000,000 was set aside for the construction of standard ships and actual expenditure was £2,690,456. The proposed vote this year is £3,000,000. Have these divisions anything to do with the construction of wooden ships in Tasmania or Western Australia? It is high time for an exhaustive inquiry to be made into the shipbuilding scheme that was undertaken at Prince of Wales Bay, near Newtown, Tasmania, in the first instance by the State Government. The Tasmanian Government made such an unholy mess of the project that, after spending £300,000 it “ squealed “ to the Commonwealth Government, which then took over the work. I understand that the Commonwealth Government has since expended £1,000,000 on the project. The vessels will be of very little use in peacetime, and their construction costs have been unduly high. I should like to have full information about these two divisions.
– This proposed vote is not related to the building of wooden ships in Western Australia or Tasmania. The provision under these divisions is required to meet the expenditure on buildings, slipways and extensions at government works and industrial concerns engaged upon the construction of standard ships; equipment of annexes associated with the shipbuilding project; loans to industrial concerns engaged upon the construction of standard ships ; and the provision of facilities and reserve materials for ship repairs.
Expenditure last year on plant, equipment, &c, was £3,728. This low expendi ture was caused through large credits being received during the year. The shipbuilding’ programme is continuing, and the provision made for this year is to cover any expenditure which may arise.
, - The estimated expenditure upon the establishment of the aluminium industry in Australia is £100,000. 1 should, like to know what .progress has been made in regard to the establishment of this industry in Tasmania. Is the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) in a position to say whether a site has been chosen for the works, whether plant for the manufacture of aluminium has been procured, where the bauxite will be obtained, when the factories will be ready to commence operations, and what will he the cost of the works, plant, land, &c?
.- The establishment of the aluminium industry is still in the planning stage, and I am not in a. position at present to state what progress has been made. However, I hope to be able to provide some information at a later stage. This is a new division. Act No. 44 of 1944, created a body known as the Australian Aluminium Production Commission. The function of this commission, which at present is under the jurisdiction of this department, is to erect and operate a refinery for the production of ingot aluminium. The undertaking is jointly under the control of the Commonwealth and the Government of Tasmania and will be situated in Tasmania. The Government of Tasmania is required to subscribe £1 for £1 with the Commonwealth towards the cost of establishing the industry. It is difficult at this stage to assess probable expenditure for 1945-46. For this reason an amount sufficient only for preliminary expenditure has been provided. The expenditure last year was £5,000.
.- In my speech on the budget I drew attention to the administrative costs of the Department of Munitions. Expenditure last year was £2,269,006, and this year the estimated expenditure ii? £1,750,000. I also drew attention to the fact, which was common knowledge, that operatives employed at munitions establishments were being dismissed in thousands. The reduction of expenditure upon the administrative side appears, therefore, to be very small indeed. I should have thought that the Department of Munitions, of all Commonwealth departments, would have been the first to show substantial reductions of expenditure. I see no reason why the manufacture of munitions should not have ceased suddenly upon the declaration of peace. It seems however that this work is to continue.
I also draw attention to the vote of £132,000 for salaries and payments in the nature of salaries in respect of munitions factories. That sum is off-set by a similar amount to be provided from a trust fund. In the same division, £500,000 is provided for general expenses, whereas last year the expenditure was only £28,685. What is the trust fund that is referred to, and why have general expenses jumped suddenly from £2S,685 to £500,000?
– It was not possible to terminate the manufacture of munitions immediately upon the cessation of hostilities. In many cases, contracts had been let, and adjustments had to be made. However there is a general tapering off of production so that large numbers of employees will not be thrown out of work at the same time. I have in mind the small arms factory at Lithgow. At one period during the war that establishment employed 7,000 people. To-day, employees number only 1,400 and further reductions are to be made. I understand that another 400 employees will cease work at Lithgow within the next couple of weeks.
– What is being made at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory ?
– The factory was making machine guns and rifles but production of these goods is ceasing.
– What (roods will be produced there ?
– I am not in a position to say offhand what is to be done at the Lithgow factory, but I shall obtain that information for the honorable senator.
.- What is being done at the aluminium factory at Wangaratta, how many men are employed there and is it intended that aluminium produced in Tasmania shall be treated at that establishment? The factory appears to be completely idle at present.
– Although annexes will in the course of time cease production, whilst they are still operating, certain miscellaneous expenditure of a capital nature is being incurred. In addition three large annexes, the Imperial Chemical Industries Limited synthetic ammonia annexe, the Stewart and Lloyds annexe, and the Aluminium Rolling Mills at. Wangaratta, are almost completed, but still require funds to finalize accounts.
.- What is to be the fate of the munitions factory in Tasmania. I understand that production at this large establishment ceased quite a long time ago. Does the Government intend to retain the premises on a “ stand by “ basis, or does it propose to dismantle and remove the building? If the factory is to remain on its present site, will it be used for some other manufacturing purpose, or will it be made available to the State government?
– The Government’s policy is that only three munitions establishments will be retained - two in Victoria and one in New South Wales. The disposal of other factories and annexes is a matter for determination by the Secondary Industries Commission. These undertakings cither will be let to private enterprise, or will be utilized in some other way in the best interests of the country, whether they are in Tasmania, Western Australia or any other State. Several factories already have been let for civil manufacturing purposes.
Senator LECKIE (Victoria) [4.2SJ.- The Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) has not yet replied to my inquiry concerning the nature of the trust fund mentioned in Division 138, nor has he given any explanation of the sudden increase of general expenses under the same division from £28,685 last year to £500,000 this year.
, - The trust fund is necessary because the factories are going out of production. A nucleus of staff will he retained. For instance, last year a factory may have manufactured 100,000 rifles, and portion of the expenses for which this fund is now provided would have been distributed over that item. In regard to the increase of general expenses mentioned by the honorable senator, the provision under this subdivision is required to meet expenditure on equipment for the transport fleet operating at munitions factories, and for other miscellaneous services in connexion with munitions factories, not chargeable to production.
– What is the reason for the great increase?
– Last year, the expenses were distributed over the various products.
– In view of the reply by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) to Senator Herbert Hays in regard to the disposal of factories in the various States. I assume that establishments in Western Australia will meet the same fate as the Tasmanian undertaking. Has the Minister received applications from craft unions for the taking over of the plants of industrial establishments being vacated by the Government, in order to carry on the work of production on a co-operative or interunion basis? Has any suggestion been made by the unions that they should apply for the lease or the purchase of the assets of those plants?
– It is competent for any craft union or private undertaking to apply to the Secondary Industries Commission for consideration with regard to any factories no longer required for Commonwealth purposes, but I have no knowledge of any such applications having been received. I shall inquire into the matter and let the honorable senator know the result.
– From time to time the Government has announced that it favours the decentralization of industries as far as practicable. As many of the factories to be disposed of to private enterprise are situated inland, will the Government give favorable consideration to the encouragement of those who. are prepared to remove their factories from city areas to country districts? A statement appeared in the Sydney press that the Government of New South Wales was about to establish a large clothing factory in a Sydney suburb. In view of the fact that factory premises situated near railways are available in country districts a golden opportunity presents itself to put the policy of decentralization into effect. What is the Government’s attitude to the matter?
– Wherever practicable, the Government will encourage the decentralization of industry. Government annexes erected in country centres have already been leased to private enterprise at reasonable rentals, in order to encourage decentralization and the manufacture of goods in country centres. No government since the establishment of federation has clone so much as has the present Ministry to give practical effect to the policy of decentralization. In the past, that policy has been preached during election campaigns, hut at other times it has been almost forgotten. The present Government has been prepared to give effect to it wherever possible, and it will continue to do so.
– I am glad to have the assurance given by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), but, as a clothing factory is proposed to be established in Sydney, will the Government endeavour to have the industry carried on at some country centre such as Orange ?
– The Government has no intention to interfere with the New South Wales authorities in the location of any factory. Nor would it attempt to influence the Government of Tasmania regarding the site of any factory proposed to be established in that State. Many statements published in the press are untrue, and I am not able to say with certainty that the clothing factory referred to will be established in Sydney.
– I merely point out that, as vacant buildings are available for factory purposes in country centres, the Government might suggest to the New South Wales authorities that some of the present buildings should be utilized, as they are admirably adapted for factory purposes. If new factories are built, an extra demand will be made upon the labour pool available for the construction of houses for the people.
.- The New South Wales Government has appointed a committee to inquire into the practicability of utilizing factories in inland centres for manufacturing purposes. If a factory is proposed to be established anywhere in New South Wales, I presume that that committee has examined the proposal, and it would be in a much better position than honorable senators to make recommendations as to where the factory should be established.
.- Does the Minister know whether the large factory at Bendigo, which was established by the Menzies Government for the manufacture of naval guns, and the cordite factory at Ballarat will be closed?
– If the factory at Bendigo has been engaged in the manufacture of naval guns, possibly it will meet the same fate as that of other factories which have been producing armaments elsewhere. If necessary, I shall be pleased to get any information available on the matter from the Secondary Industries Commission.
.- Machinery formerly used by the Department of Munitions is being sold to manufacturers and others, and a certain scale of charges is laid down, according to the period for which the machinery has been in operation. A machine tool which costs £2,600 in the United States of America or Great Britain would cost h great deal more in Australia. When it « imported into this country the purchaser is called upon to pay freight and insurance, duty, primage and sales tax, and the cost to the local purchaser would be about £4,000. The reduction of the cost of second hand machinery according to its period of use, means that the Australian manufacturer would lose £600 or £700 as compared with a manufacturer in Great Britain. Will the Minister investigate the matter, as it will be found that the system by which the percentage reduction of the cost of these machines is determined leaves a good deal i-> be desired ?
– The honorable senator’s comments apply not particularly to machines used in government factories, but to all machines, and it is difficult to arrive at a basis which will be free from anomalies. The life of some machines is much greater than that of others.
– Should the Australian manufacturer have to pay 40 per cent, more for his machines than do his competitors in Great Britain?
– Matters of this kind are determined by the Prices Commissioner, and the honorable senator’s representation will be brought to his notice. I agree that anomalies arise, but we have yet to discover a perfect system.
.- The sum of £100,000 is set down under Division 142 for armament annexes, plant, material and experimental work. As many of these annexes will be closed in the near future, what does the Government propose to do with the buildings, plant and equipment? Will they be offered to persons engaged in industry, or is it the Government’s intention to retain them?
– The method of disposal is that, in the first place, buildings, plant and equipment will be offered to Commonwealth and State Governments, and then to other government instrumentalities, such as municipal councils, shires, and educational organizations. Failing a satisfactory response by those bodies, they will be sold either by tender or at public auction.
Proposed vote agreed to.
DEPARTMENT of Aircraft Production.
Proposed vote, £4,724,000.
– Under Division 159 - Plant, equipment and machinery - the sum of £2,005,000 is set down for 1945-46, whereas last year only £38,400 was expended. What is the reason for this great increase? Does the Government propose to produce large numbers of fighting aircraft, or will it build civil aircraft? I point out that whatever machines may he produced by the department, they will be obsolete by the time that they are made.
– This provision is to cover the estimated cost of machine tools, jigs, tools and fixtures and establishment expenses connected with manufacture of Lancaster aircraft as approved by War Cabinet. Provision was made on the basis that the war would continue. The Government took a. long-range view and decided to prepare for whatever might happen. It is not correct to say that the machines will he obsolete as soon as they are made. Lancaster aircraft are the most up to date in the world.
– Under Division 157 - Engine factory, construction and equipment - the sum of £680,000 is to be provided. Last year only £80,750 was expended under this division. I should like an explanation of the expenditure proposed to be incurred this year.
– The amount comprises a rebate of £620,000, that being the amount unexpended from the 1944-45 provision for the capital cost in connexion with the manufacture of Rolls Royce-Merlin engines, and also new moneys amounting to £60,000 approved by War Cabinet for the transfer from Lidcombe, New South Wales, and the re-erection at Fishermen’s Bend, Victoria, of the twin row Wasp engine factory. The manufacture of Merlin engines is being undertaken at Lidcombe and the manufacturing costs are to be provided by the Department of Air. Merlin engines will be used in Lancaster and Mosquito aircraft.
Senator ATT. A Tff MacDONALD (Western Australia) [4.52]. - The amount set down in this division will not go very far in the production of Merlin engines. Tests to determine engine power and the absorption of that power by the propellor are matters for scientists. I do not know how the Government proposes to produce Merlin engines with the amount proposed to be expended. In a matter of this kind we should have regard to the example set by the Rolls Royce Company at Glasgow, where the manager is neither a mechanical engineer nor a constructional engineer, but a scientist. If Australia is to keep abreast of developments in aircraft engines, scientists will have to be employed. I urge the Minister to consult with his departmental head on this subject, because otherwise I fear that we shall lag behind other countries in the production of high-powered aircraft engines. In saying that, I have no intention to be disloyal to Australia.
– The proposed appropriation for the Department of Aircraft Production amounts to £4,^24,000. Last year’s vote was £2,878,000, and of that amount over £1,000,000 remained unexpended at the end of the year. It is clear that these Estimates were prepared for a year of war. I frankly admit that the Government could not have been expected to know that the war would end so quickly. In the circumstances, it would have been better to withdraw the Estimates and submit revised Estimates to meet the changed conditions. I should like to know what the Government’s policy in regard to aircraft construction is. Does it intend to embark on an elaborate scheme of aircraft construction, and if so, for what purpose? Is it proposed to build up a big fleet of aircraft, and, in that event, is it intended to construct small machines for the use of people in outback districts? The proposed appropriation is far in excess of peacetime needs. I predict that next year we shall find that huge sums of money provided in these Estimates will be unexpended. Aircraft production is practically a new industry in Australia and will have to face strong competition from overseas manufacturers. “We should also bear in mind that in the near future large numbers of aircraft which were constructed for war purposes will be available. It is our duty to ensure that appropriations are not in excess of the Government’s reasonable requirements. This money has to be raised by loan, taxation, or, perhaps, by bank credit. At present, the public are being asked to subscribe to the Fourth Victory Loan. However, I venture to say that it will be shown in the near future that much of the money which we are now being asked to appropriate will not be required during the current financial year unless the Government intends to retain many war industries at their war-time strength. I raise these queries because I wish to be able to assure the people that these large appropriations are really necessary.
– The costs to which Senator Allan MacDonald and Senator Herbert Hay. referred are establishment costs only. It is true that the manufacture of Merlin engines is a costly process; but it is not exactly the last word in air power. When I was Minister for Aircraft Production, I reported to the Senate that a number of technicians had been sent abroad to be trained in the manufacture of jetpropelled aircraft. The Government intends to prepare for likely emergencies. Senator Herbert Hays said that as peace has come this expenditure is hardly necessary; but neither he, nor any one else, can say for how long peace will last, if there is one lesson which we have learned more than any other as the result of the war it is that we must as far as possible, and consistent with our resources, make this nation self-contained and independent of overseas supplies. In 1942, particularly, and also in. 1943, when ships were going to the bottom almost as soon as they left the shores of England and America, we thought that we would have to close down aircraft production in this country because of the shortage of supplies. Fortunately, we received those supplies in time. Those who are competent to judge «s the result of our experience during the war, agree that we must prepare for the continuance of the manu facture of aircraft for operational purposes. Personally, I believe that we should keep up to date as far as we possibly can in that respect, particularly in view of our isolation and the immense area of this continent which we have to defend. In these circumstances the manufacture of modern aircraft and equipment generally will be a great investment to the nation, and I have no doubt that the people of Australia will approve this expenditure for this purpose.
– Last year the amount appropriated in respect of aircraft production was £2,878,000, but despite the fact that we were then still at war only £1,855,230 was expended. The point I raise now is why, following the cessation of hostilities, we should be asked to appropriate for this purpose £4,724,000, or nearly £3,000,000 more than was actually expended in a war year.
– It was not expected that the war would end so suddenly, and in the existing circumstances the Government made preparations for two things : First, we prepared to manufacture spare parts for the Lancaster aircraft, because we planned to station a squadron of Lancasters in Australia. Secondly, we commenced the manufacture of the Lancaster aircraft itself. The increase in the proposed appropriation is to meet the balance of commitments in respect of machine tools, jigs, fixtures andtooling for the Lancaster-Lincoln project, decision to undertake which was made by War Cabinet in November, 1943, with the endorsement of the Advisory War Council. Thus, the additional expenditure is required to place the manufacture of up-to-date operational aircraft in Australia on a permanent basis.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department or Supply and Shipping.
Proposed vote, £8,326,000.
.- I should like detailed information concerning the proposed expenditure in respect of the flax industry and the production of power alcohol. I have already expressed my views concerning flax production. I should like to know at what price flax and tow were acquired. The Government undertook the production of power alcohol as a war-time emergency, hut, up to date, the distilleries have not been put into operation. However, the Government, apparently, intends to proceed with the construction of distilleries, [n view of the fact that the war is over, and we shall not need power alcohol, the Government should not waste money by continuing with these projects. I do not criticize the Government for undertaking the projects at a time when it appeared that we might be driven to rely upon supplies of liquid fuel produced in this country. However, the Government would be well, advised to abandon these projects immediately, and not throw good rooney after bad. Perhaps, the Minister could explain the position in detail.
Senator ASHLEY (New South WalesMinister for Supply and Shipping) 1 5.11]. - The acreage approved for flax planting in 1945 was 62,500 acres. The expenditure capital totalled £1,159,064, made up of £611,S0S in respect of machinery and plant, and £547,256 in respect of buildings and sites. The Governments of the United Kingdom and Australia agreed to share profits and losses. Interest at 3 per cent, per annum was to be charged in costs. The basis of apportionment of quantities of line fibre was approximately two-thirds to the United Kingdom, and one-third to Australia. Revenue for the current crop should equal expenditure. The crop for 1945-46 will show a surplus. The accumulated loss for 1940-41 will be approximately £600,000 when proceeds from the 1944-45 crop are realized. Of this loss, Australia’s share’ will approximate £200,000. The Flax Committee has endeavoured to mechanize and modernize processes from the field through the mills. This industry is a new enterprise. It has been confronted with difficulties common to all primary production, such as bushfires and drought. The crop last year was very bad, and unsuitable areas which could not very well be eliminated had to be utilized. The industry was undertaken at the request of the United Kingdom on the basis that flax must be produced at any cost.
– At what price was the flax taken over?
– Prices varied according to grades. I shall supply to the honorable senator the various prices. The production of power alcohol was undertaken when we had a surplus of wheat. We were then badly in need of power alcohol. There was every justification’ for the construction of the distilleries. The cost was approximately £1,750,000, and an amount of £70,000 is needed to complete some of the plants this year. The Government considers that it is justified in expending this money.
– Are flax mills still being constructed ? It would be an extraordinary state of affairs if the Government proposed to expend £79,000 to construct new mills when existing flax .mills are idle.
– No new mills will be constructed. Existing mills are to be improved in order to modernize methods of production.
Proposed vote agreed to.
DEPARTMENT OF HOME SECURITY.
Proposed vote, £60,000.
Senator SAMPSON (Tasmania) [5.16 J. - Division No. 1S3 provides for payments to the States, in respect of air-raid precautions, totalling £18,000. I should like to know the reason for this expenditure. There is no need to worry about air-raid precautions. Also, an amount of £21,000 is set down for air-raid precautions equipment. What in the name of fortune does the Government want to purchase such equipment for now, when a Jot of junk is now being sold? It appears to be ridiculous on the face of it.
– The payments to the States arise from the Commonwealth’s agreement to pay 50 per cent, of the cost of telephone services for air-raid precautions purposes to the 30th April, 1945. There is nothing ridiculous about the provision in respect of air-raid precautions equipment. This sum is to pay for refugee cargoes not yet invoiced to the department, all of which was issued subject to the recoupment of costs. It is not a new item of expenditure; it was incurred when our danger was great, and we must now honour our obligations.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Reciprocal Len m- le ase to United States Forces.
Proposed vote, £20,000,000.
– It is difficult to understand the necessity for this proposed vote. As everybody knows, lend-lease was suddenly stopped a? from the 1st September, yet we seem to be continuing with, reciprocal lendlease. Has the United States of America demanded that we must continue reciprocal lend-lease? This was a reciprocal arrangement, and it is natural to expect that it should cease with the cessation of lend-lease from the United States of America.
[5.21”J. - Australia supplied the United States of America with certain materials, foodstuffs, and services for which money had to be provided in this country. The provision in the Estimates is necessary to complete these transactions. The honorable senator has suggested that reciprocal lend-lease should have been terminated at the same time as lend-lease was terminated by the United States of America. That has been done substantially,, but negotiations are still proceeding on this point. As from a certain date, the Government cancelled all unnecessary orders for Australia for war purposes. However, that still left a tremendous quantity of materials which are needed for industrial purposes and for which we shall have to pay in dollars. We are acting in conjunction with the Government of the United Kingdom in connexion with the cancellation of reciprocal lend-lease, because the lend-lease arrangement was originally established by the United Kingdom Government issuing a White Paper to- which Australia later became a signatory. At the moment, the Allies are cancelling the majority of their contracts under reciprocal lend-lease, and this may enable us to give more help to the Old Country.
Proposed vote agreed to.
.- This is such a large amount that I cannot let it pass without asking for an explanation from the Minister.
.- The details of these credits are as follows : - Sales of non-military lend-lease goods, £10,000,000; sales of non-military Canadian Mutual Aid Goods, £2,000,000; assignments of munitions to the United Kingdom Government from Army stocks, £3,000,000; departmental credits, consisting of repayments of expenditure and sundry credits, including £S,000,000 rebate in respect of lend-lease components of equipment, Asc., purchased from the United Kingdom Government, £10,000,000.
Credit agreed to.
Other Wah Services.
Proposed vole. £44,549,000.
– Did the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner who, I understand, has retired, have a full-time job with the Commonwealth Government? If so, what was his remuneration? If not, under what conditions was he employed?
.- The Commonwealth Prices Commissioner, Professor Copland, was on loan to the Commonwealth Government from the University of Melbourne. His rate of salary was £1,800 per annum, and he was paid certain expenses when he was working away from his head office. The Assistant Prices Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioners in the States are Customs officers on loan to the Commonwealth Prices Commission. Some increase of the costs of this department is essential because of the Government’s subsidy scheme, which will require a great deal of extra work and, consequently, an increase of staff.
– I refer to Item 9 under “ Miscellaneous “ in Division 193, relating to. occupation surveys. It is proposed to expend £32,000 on the survey in this financial year. Expenditure last year amounted to £11,117. What is the pui-pose of this survey, and what good can result from continuing with it during the demobilization period ?
.- The purpose of the survey is to provide the
Government with up-to-date information concerning the number of workers in various occupations and industries for guidance in planning the return of industry from war-time to peace-time conditions. The estimated total cost is £51,600. This includes salaries £27,000, cards £12,600, postage £2,000, equipment £4,500, and other expenses £5,500.
– Can the survey be pursued under present conditions?
– I think so.
.- Division 212 contains reference to the inquiry into the suspension of civil administration in Papua, for which the proposed vote is £1,000. Expenditure, last year was £1,724. I understand this refers to an investigation carried out by Mr. Barry, K.C. If that is so, can the Minister tell me the rate at which Mr. Barry was paid and what period the work occupied ?
.- Mr. J. V. Barry, K.C, was appointed as a commissioner under the National Security (Inquiries) Regulations, to inquire into the suspension of civil administration in Papua. The expenditure in respect of the commission will be approximately £2,724, itemized as follows: -
– I should like some information in regard to the provision of £25,000 under Division 206 - “Department of Health”, for the campaign for the prevention and cure of venereal diseases.
.- This amount of £25,000 has been provided to cover the payment of subsidies to the States in the campaign for the prevention and cure of venereal diseases.
.- Under Division 213 - “Department of Transport”, £60,000 is provided for investigation expenses in connexion with the standardization of railway gauges. A good deal of criticism of Sir Harold Clapp’s report on the standardization and modernization of our railways has come from the Acting Premier of Queensland. This gentleman appears to have overlooked completely the Army authorities’ contention that a line linking Bourke with Townsville, through Charleville, Blackall and Longreach is of the highest importance from a defence point of view. That view is set out on page 87 of the report and is based on the experience of the war which has just ended. The difficulty of defending a line on the eastern side of the ranges is thoughtfully analysed. The report bears evidence of very careful preparation and of discussion with authorities well versed in the national requirements, both in respect of defence and of economic factors.
The Queensland Government has obligations in connexion with its own railways. There is no reason why that State could not, of its own accord, construct railways of lesser strategical importance. “Whatever the Queensland Government decided to do in this way would supplement the very substantial benefit which will accrue from the connexion of the great pastoral areas of the west with the best markets, wherever they may be.
Transport is a means to an end and is not an end in itself. Defence and national development must not be neglected because, for some reason, a railway in one location is less popular than one elsewhere. The States, particularly Queensland, which I know well, should not adopt a parochial attitude. The strategical line recommended in Sir Harold Clapp’s report will enable the great open spaces of the west to obtain the benefit of efficient transport to market of cattle; sheep, wheat or any other products. In time of drought the speedy transport of starving livestock to better pastures would, be of immense value to the State and Commonwealth alike. We must heed the warning . so strongly sounded by the recent threatened Japanese invasion, that Queensland is nearer the Asiatic mainland than the southern States where, for economic reasons, the greatest proportion of our forces are raised and maintained. By standardizing our gauges and railway equipment, southern forces, with their equipment, could be moved north in at least a third of the time it would take under present conditions.
I understand that a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Transport will be held shortly in Sydney to decide what lines will be standardized first. Any conflicting opinions or undue delays will mean the duplication of expenditure on rolling-stock so urgently in need of repairs and renewal. It would be far better to use public funds for the replacement of rolling-stock for use on standard gauges, than to continue expenditure on rolling-stock for gauges which in a few years time will be of secondary importance. Urgent though the replacement of railway rolling-stock may be, the building of homes is even more urgent.
– I should like some information in regard to the manner in which the £60,000 allocation for the standardization of railway gauges is to be expended.
.- On the 10th November, 1944, in the interests of defence and national development generally, Cabinet approved the desirability to standardize Australia’s railway gauges on the 4-ft.8½-in. basis. Sir Harold Clapp’s report on standardization, which he was commissioned to prepare in March, 1944, was presented to Cabinet in April last. Approval was subsequently given for a survey to be made of a proposed independent standard gauge line between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle, which is estimated to cost £8, 352,000. Preparations are now in hand for this work to proceed at an early date. Expenditure estimated at £9,000 has also been approved to cover the cost of tests to be carried out with steel sleepers as recommended by Sir Harold Clapp. Approximately 3,000,000 of such sleepers would be required under the standardization project, and it is desirable to determine as early as possible the type of sleeper to be used. All costs incurred in the preparatory work associated with the project are to be borne initially by the Commonwealth, subject to adjustment when the basis of alloca tion of cost between the Commonwealth and States has been determined. Resolutions regarding the standardization of railway gauges which were carried at the conference of Commonwealth Ministers and State Premiers, held on the 20th August, 1945, included the following: -
That a committee of representatives of the States and of the Commonwealth confer and reportupon the division of financial commitment having regard to
Action has been taken to proceed with the temporary appointment of a Director-General, a Director of Mechanical Engineering and a Director of Civil Engineering with the staffs necessary to assist them in this preparatory work. It is probable that the personnel required for this work will be obtained on loan from the several States’ railway systems and it is proposed to charge any costs in this connexion to the item under which £60,000 is provided for investigation expenses.
.- Under Division No. 209- “Miscellaneous”, item 9, provision is made for the expenditure of £2,000 upon the Labour Corps in Western Australia. Last year, although the vote was the same as it is this year, the actual expenditure was £5,450. Can the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) explain what is involved in this expenditure?
.- The rural labour position in Western Australia is more acute than in any other
State. Labour is particularly inadequate for such important priority crops as flax, hay and potatoes. To overcome the difficulty, it was decided to form a Labour Corps of 300 enemy aliens under the joint control of the Commonwealth and the Western Australian Departments of Forests and Agriculture. This corps works half time on agricultural work, the farmers paying for this labour at normal rates.
– The total vote for the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, under Divisions Nos. 218 to 224, is £8,510,000, including £4,643,000 for the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme. Relatives of former prisoners of war in Japanese hands are rather concerned over the health of these men upon their return and are most anxious that special consideration should be given to them in vocational and professional training. Some of those people have communicated with me, and no doubt with other honorable senators, requesting that former prisoners of war in Japanese hands be classed in category 1 for vocational and professional training. Can the Minister give me any information on the matter ?
– Prisoners of war are eligible for consideration in category 1 of both schemes.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Credits. - Other Administrations, Recoverable Expenditure, £20,000,000 ; Credits from Disposals Commission, £28,000,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,007,000.
– Last year I drew attention to the need for more sympathetic consideration of the vote for the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness for which £72,000 is provided. This item appears in Division 235 - Department of Health. The sum of £25,000 has been voted for the prevention and cure of venereal disease, and I notice also that many millions of pounds have been provided for the education of the mind, yet for work of such importance as the encouragement of national fitness only £72,000 is proposed to be voted. I pro test against the attitude of the Government to this matter. The Minister for Health and Social Services (Senator Eraser) informed me last year that the States had some responsibility with regard to it. I point out that they also have responsibility regarding matters of much less importance. Concerning the treatment and cure of venereal disease, the Government seems to have adopted a short-sighted view. A major consideration in dealing with the health of the people is the necessity for the proper care of children. They should be trained in proper habits, taught how to use their leisure hours to advantage, and given a sane and clear outlook on life. The national fitness movement has spread throughout Australia in a remarkable manner in the last couple of years. It has enlisted the whole-hearted co-operation of the citizens in all districts. The work being done to give children a cleaner and happier life warrants more sympathetic consideration from the Government than the paltry vote of £72,500 allocated this year. This work has been definitely neglected by the Government. The Minister promised me on other occasions that greater assistance would be given to the movement than has been accorded in the past, and I thought that the Government would have increased the vote.
– In fairness to the Minister and the Government, I assure honorable senators that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) recently asked the Social Security Committee to investigate the subject of national fitness, and the committee is now engaged on the work. It has made inquiries in two States, and within the next month it will visit two others, in order to find out what has been done with the money provided for the encouragement of national fitness, and to what degree the work should he expanded. It will be soon enough to protest against the attitude of the Government, if the committee recommends increased expenditure and the Government fails to act upon its recommendation. The matter may well be left to the committee for the present. We all realize the importance of national fitness, and the present Government has done more than any previous administration to promote it. The results which have been achieved since the inauguration of the Commonwealth. Council for National Fitness will be made known to the Parliament early next session.
– Whilst I am appreciative of the proposed vote for the promotion of national fitness, I have recently had brought to my notice a proposal which may assist greatly in advancing this worthy cause. I was rather surprised recently to be informed by the secretary of the National Football League of Australia that it is treated as an incorporated company for income tax purposes, and is liable for tax on the ground that it does not distribute its profits. I have also received the following communication from Mr. T. S. Hill, Secretary of the South Australian National Football League -
Following our conversation of last Saturday in Adelaide, I am writing to ask you if you will do what you can to have the annual surpluses of sporting bodies, such as football leagues and clubs, exempted from company taxation. At present this leagueand its affiliated clubs are subject to company tax of 6s. in the £1 and, because it does not distribute its profits (it has no shareholders; profits are used for carrying on the game) we are levied a further 2s. in the £1 on the ground that we do not distribute our profits. The successful promotion of our national game is to a very large extent wrapped up in conserving funds for important purposes as follows : -
Propagating the game amongst school children.
Securing leases of suitable playing fields.
Improvements to playing fields and provision of suitable accommodation for players and spectators.
Establishment of reserve funds to provide medical attention and sustenance to seriously injured players.
Maintaining satisfactory reserves earned in good years for security in lean years.
Provision for interstate tours for the purpose of playing interstate games.
My league and the Western Australian League, now that the war is over, are hopeful of resuming playing games against each other in Adelaide and Perth in alternate years, as was done before the outbreak of hostilities. Prior to the levying of the present heavy rate of taxation, profit from the game against
Western Australia in Adelaide was put away to help meet the cost of the trip to Perth in the following year. The cost of sending a team to Western Australia is in the vicinity of £800. Any money put away now toward this cost would at the end of the year be levied at the rate of 8s. in the £1, and while this high rate remains it will be very difficult to get together sufficient funds to play interstate matches between South Australia and Western Australia. We have been approached by the Western Australian League to see if any relief can be obtained on this point.
Healthy and vigorous games with a moving ball on open fields are an undoubted means towards building healthy bodies and sound minds for young Australians, thus, in the interests of national fitness, it would, I contend, pay our Government to encourage bodies such as ours to intensify their efforts in extending the activities of the national game as much as possible, but should the heavy rate of taxation continue, our efforts will be considerably hampered. It is interesting to note that more than 90 per cent. of those responsible for ‘carrying on the game in Australia give their services in an entirely honorary capacity. May I submit the following as an illustration of how unfair the tax is: -
I am a member of a licensed club in this State. It makes substantial profit out of the sale of liquor, billiards, &c., and, because this profit is used in improvements and in the carrying on of the business engaged in, it is exempt from taxation. On the other hand, although the surpluses earned by football leagues and clubs are all used in the best interest of the game, we are called upon to pay 8s. in the £1.
The tax of 8s. in the £1 is additional to the entertainments tax paid by spectators. I was also surprised to learn that cricketing material is subject to a sales tax of 25 per cent. I hope that the Minister (Senator Keane) will bear that fact in mind when the next bill relating to the sales tax comes before us. By taxing the equipment used by young people in the public schools and by the members of sporting bodies, we retard activities designed to produce physical fitness. It is essential for us to build a virile race, and, as the Government has intimated its desire to assist in that direction, I hope it will consider the advisability of reconsidering the financial provision made to assist in this worthy cause.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m..
– I agree with Senator Arnold that the grant for National Fitness is inadequate. Senator
Tangney, who is a member of the Social Security Committee, outlined the present position. This matter was last discussed by the Government nearly three years ago. The £72,500 to be voted for 1945-46 will he devoted to the encouragement and development of national fitness in each State under the direction of the National Fitness Council appointed by the Government of each State, and to the promotion of physical education in schools, universities and colleges, and for such other purposes as the Minister may determine. It will be seen that there is ample power to expand this work, and I am hopeful that next year the amount for this important work will be larger.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Refunds of Revenue, £5,000,000- agreed to.
Advance to The Treasurer.
Proposed vote, £10,000,000.
– I should be glad if the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) could explain this proposed vote.
.- There is a footnote which reads, “Expenditure shown throughout the Estimates under the heads to which it will be finally charged when specially appropriated”.
Proposed vote agreed to.
War (1914-18) Services.
Proposed vole,. £929,000.
.- The amount set down for the War Service Homes Commission is £91,000, compared with an expenditure of £60,216 last year. Now that a new department to deal with housing has been established, I desire to know if it is intended that the War Service Homes Commission shall continue to build homes for exservicemen. If so, it would appear that several different authorities will be doing the same work, and that there will be competition for the materials available.
Senator ASHLEY (New South WalesMinister for Supply and Shipping) ‘8.6]. - It is intended that the War Service Homes Commission shall continue to carry out the same functions as in ibr past?
– The proposed votefor temporary and Casual employees of the Department of Repatriation is tobe more than was expended last year, the respective amounts being £197,000- and £119,038. The sooner this department is given full recognition asa permanent Commonwealth department the better. Its officers should have the same status as permanent Commonwealth public servants. There was a time when it was thought that the Repatriation Commission would not be needed because in the course of time servicemen of the last war would pass on, but the war which has just ended will make the commission a permanent organization.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Commonwealth Railways, £2,120,000- agreed to.
Postmaster-General’s Department. t.
Proposed vote, £20,899,000.
– The vote for the Postmaster-General’s Department will exceed last year’s expenditure of £20,675,190 by £223,810. I. should like to know the Government’s intentions regarding postal works which would have been undertaken but for the war. I am concerned particularly with the provision of better telephonic and telegraphic facilities in outback districts. During the war there has been a shortage of man-power and materials, but the time has now arrived when the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) should give an indication of the Government’s programme for the future. No department comes more closely in touch with the people than does the Postal Department.
– I support the remarks of Senator Sheehan regarding the provision of better postal facilities, especially in outback districts. The estimated expenditure for 1945-46 in respect of mail services is £3,262,200. I should like to know whether the department contemplates an aerial feeder service in outback districts which are now served by motor transport. Now that the war has ended, it should be possible to obtain aircraft to conduct such a service.
– The matters raised by Senator Sheehan have been brought to my notice in correspondence practically every day since I became Postmaster-General. I have replied to thousands of letters on these subjects, and have made many press statements dealing with them. I take this opportunity to give a clear, and, I trust, a convincing explanation of the position now confronting the department. Honorable senators, of course, will appreciate that the department has now about six years of arrears of work to overcome, and also that in many respects it was not as up to date as it might have been when war broke out. At that time, for example, many manual exchanges existed in capital cities where automatic exchanges should have been installed, and post offices in many country towns were ill equipped to serve their respective communities.
Owing to war-time conditions and the serious shortage of man-power and materials, it has not been practicable to maintain and develop postal and telecommunication services in a manner necessary to meet the needs of the community. The exigencies of war, and the urgent demands of the fighting services for all classes of communication facilities, have forced the Postal Department to curtail, and even withhold, services in many instances. The public have accepted these conditions in a reasonable spirit, and it is, therefore, the obvious duty of the department to remove entirely the restrictions immediately circumstances permit. It is not generally realized that communications play a vitally important part in a modern war, and the Postal Department as the communications authority in this country, has been faced with a tremendous task in meeting the telecommunication requirements of the armed forces during the war period. In addition to meeting this demand, the normal activities of the department have expanded and transactions have now assumed record proportions.
The financial turnover of the Postal Department has risen from £185,000,000 in 1939 to over £470,000,000 in 1944. During the same period, the revenue earned from all sources has increased from £17,000,000 to £26,000,000. Telegrams have increased from 17,000,000 to over 34,000,000. Local telephone calls have risen from 596,000,000 to over 664,000,000. Trunk line calls have increased from 4)1,000,000 to over 52,000,000. It is important to emphasize that in a department requiring the services of thousands of employees, skilled in administrative, professional, technical and manipulative functions, the release of approximately 7,700 members of its staff for duty with the fighting forces, and a further 500 key men to assist in the work of war-time departments, has not been without its attendant difficulties. The general expansion of business and the diversion of man-power and materials to meet the requirements of the armed forces and those engaged in essentialwartime activities have strained the resources of the department to the .utmost. Reserves of plant and equipment are almost exhausted, and it is quite impracticable to meet the existing demand for postal and telecommunication facilities.
As the inevitable result of the factors referred to heavy arrears of works have accumulated, and the department is confronted with an enormous task in overtaking these arrears. In addition, it must proceed with projects urgently needed for the orderly development and expansion of postal, telephone and telegraph facilities. In order to regain the ground lost during the war period and to enable the department to play its full part in assisting in the rehabilitation of primary and secondary industries in this country, a comprehensive programme of post-war postal works, involving an expenditure of approximately £19,000,000, has been approved. The works scheduled cover a very wide field of activity and will ensure that many and substantial improvements will be effected in the postal, telephone, telegraph and broadcasting services of the Commonwealth.
The main works to be undertaken in the several capital cities embrace the erection of buildings for purely post office purposes and buildings to accommodate automatic exchange equipment, the establishment of new exchanges, the provision of additional junction lines between existing exchange’s and the laying of underground cables to meet the anticipated heavy development in the demand for telephone services. In country districts the works comprise the erection of many new post office buildings, alterations to and renovations of existing buildings, the re-arrangement of important trunk line routes to permit of the installation of additional facilities of the most modern type, the laying of underground cables between large centres where the existing aerial routes are overloaded and the installation of a large number of automatic exchanges in order to permit of the provision of continuous clay and night service where a limited day or evening service only is at present available.
The provision made in the Estimates for the current year provide a basis for the commencement of the work necessary to overtake the arrears which have been referred to. The rate of progress will naturally depend on the availability of man-power and materials. The matter of reviewing the existing tariffs for all classes of postal, telephone and telegraph services has not been overlooked and it is hoped that immediately the financial circumstances permit this course to be followed, a modification of the existing charges will be made. In view, however, of the very special circumstances which apply to people in country districts, who a re engaged on important work associated with primary production, it is intended to effect immediately some improvement in the conditions under which telephone exchange services are provided and to reduce the scale of charges for services which extend beyond the base rate area of 2 miles from the relevant exchange.
With regard to the provision of subscribers’ services in country districts, it will bp. well known that under the existing conditions the expenditure by the department is limited to a maximum sum of £50. and where the capital cost exceeds £”>0 the applicant is required to contribute the balance of the expenditure incurred bv the department. The matter has been reviewed and under the new basis which will apply forthwith it is proposed that where there is no existing pole route in the direction of the premises of the applicant, the department will erect a new pole lino for a distance of 60 chains from the exchange. Where departmental pole, construction already exists for a portion or the whole of the distance between the exchange and the applicant’s premises, the department will spend up to £100 in providing the service concerned, this sum representing the average cost of erecting 60 chains of poles with one pair of wire? thereon. In cases involving construction in excess of 60 chains or an expenditure exceeding £100 in the erection of wires on existing construction, the alternatives now available to applicants regarding cash contributions, supply of poles and/or labour to reduce the overall cost and the erection and maintenance of a section of the line, will continue to apply. The general effect of the new basis will be to double the amount of construction to be undertaken by the department and should do much to encourage development of the telephone service in country districts.
Concerning the matter of extra mileage charges, it is believed that this represents the greatest source of complaint from telephone subscribers in country districts. Owing to the more intensive development in the metropolitan areas relatively few subscribers in the networks of the capital cities are required to pay excess mileage fees, whereas in country districts quite a substantial number of subscribers are required to pay these charges. With a view, therefore, to ameliorating the conditions in this respect the charges for subscribers’ lines extending beyond 2 miles radially from the relevant exchange will be reduced on a sliding scale basis. At the present tune in local call areas embracing more than 1,000 lines, that is in the capital cities and the larger provincial towns, the extra mileage charge for an exclusive service is fixed at the rate of 10s. per quarter mile per annum for that section of the line extending beyond the 2-mile limit. In all other areas the charge is 7s. 6d. per quarter mile per annum. For party lines the charge is 5s. per quarter mile per annum foi- each point on a two-party service and 2s. 6d. for each point on a three or more party service. It is proposed as from the 1st January, 1946, to reduce the existing excess mileage charges and the revised fees will apply in all areas irrespective of the number of .subscribers’ lines connected. The new rate per quarter mile per annum for an exclusive service will be 6s. 3d. for the section between 2 and 3 miles from the exchange, 5s. for the section between 3 and 4 miles, 3s. 9d. for the section between 4 and 5 miles and 2s. 6d. for those sections extending beyond 5 miles from the exchange. Tor party line services the rate per party will represent cbe total amount of extra mileage charges for an exclusive service with the same length of line divided by the number of parties connected to the line. The adoption of the proposed scale of fees will benefit over 26,000 subscribers throughout the Commonwealth and the reduction in charges will be approximately £30,000 per annum, representing an average’ of about £1. 2s. 6d. per subscriber affected.
-The Minister’s time has expired.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia) “S.2S. - It is useless for the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) to prate about the fact that the department is now handling so many telephone calls and telegrams annually, alien one cannot walk into a post office and obtain a decent nib to write out a telegram. Usually, if the nib is all right -lie ink well is empty, or the telegram has to be written on spongy paper. I am sorry that the Postmaster-General has followed the example of his predecessors and puffed up his department and himself by talking about the immensity of his business undertaking. As a rule, the Postmaster-General usually concludes such statements with a peroration the feature of which is a forecast that the profits of the department for the ensuing year will be from £4,500,000 to £5,000,000. Nothing is farther from the truth. A telephone call made by a departmental official in Canberra to another official in Perth provides no real profit to the Treasury. Nevertheless, successive Postmasters-General have continued to claim that such “profits” are the result of their business acumen - it is noticeable that Postmasters-General are usually senators. The Postal Department has many excellent technical experts, but its accountancy methods might almost date back to the ark. This annual parade of wealth by each successive PostmasterGeneral - I notice that Senator Gibson is listening attentively because he is a former Postmaster-General - represents profits on paper only. To claim that such profits are actually made only incites organized taxpayers, through the Chambers of Commerce and similar organizations, to demand with every justification cheaper postal and telegraphicrates. The sooner that’ the Postal Department’s accounts, particularly with respect to inter-departmental services, are placed on. a more realistic basis the better it will be for everybody. Ibo present system is merely a method of puffing up the department’s profits and using the Post Office as a taxing machine.
Australian postage stamps are unsightly from a philatelist’s point of view. The only two designs which can be regarded as works of art are those on the 5s. and the 10s. stamps. There is no more popular and far-reaching means of publicizing Australia than through our postage stamps. They go to every corner of the world, and such publicity costs the Government nothing. It is time for us to have a proper set of modern and attractive postage stamps. Many of our stamps are mere travesties of art. We have in Australia men capable of engravure equal to the best that can he produced in any other country, and therefore there is no reason why our stamps should not bo attractive. The profit to be derived, by sales to philatelists alone, from a set of aristic stamps, from the id. denomination to the 5s. denomination, would be about £150,000. No extra expense, apart from printing costs, would be incurred, as sales would be made over post office counters in the normal way and no other service is given. Therefore, from the point of view of profit-making it would be a good idea. I have made the suggestion to various Postmasters-General, but we continue to issue mediocre stamps. I hope that a complete issue of new stamps will be made to celebrate victory in the Pacific area, as has been done in other countries. Australia should have a set of stamps comparable with those of any country.
Senator GIBSON (Victoria) rs.36].- I am surprised at the attitude of Senator Allan MacDonald in attacking former Postmasters-General, including myself. The service that the Postal Department gives to the Australian public is the cheapest- in the world, particularly in connexion with telephone and telegraph facilities. I do not know what reason Senator Allan MacDonald has for complaint. If he lived in another country he would find that the cost of sending a telegram a distance equivalent to that from Canberra to Western Australia would be at least 15s. Here, the cost is ls. It seems that the honorable senator’s mind is obsessed with philately. He wants to link Australia with countries like Mexico, which obtains revenue by issuing stamps for the benefit of philatelists. We should not do that sort of thing. It would belittle us in the eyes of the world if we made money in that way. In any case, our stamps are as good as those of any other country. There are artistic. Our airmail stamps, in particular, are attractive. They are works of art. The Government gave a prize of £100 for the design of our airmail stamps, and they are looked upon as being some of the finest stamps ever printed.
I notice that, in the summary of expenditure for the Postal Department, it is proposed to expend less on mail services this year than last year. I hope this does not mean that there will be a curtailment of country mail services. There ought to be an extension of those services. In Great Britain there are relatively few post offices, but the people are given a good service, and letters are delivered within a radius of three miles of any p03t office. We want service of that kind in Australia. When I was PostmasterGeneral I aimed at providing good service for the public rather than at building ornate post offices throughout the country. I should like to see an improvement of country telephone services. In many instances, nine or ten houses are served by one party telephone line. Under the selective system of ringing, it would be possible to call any one of those subscribers without the others knowing about the call. This selective system should be installed wherever possible. One circuit could cover a distance of 50 miles and serve up to ten subscribers. The cost of installing one circuit would be considerably less than that of installing ten circuits. Also, many rural telephone lines which subscribers install at their own cost ought to be serviced by the department at least once in ten years. That would not be a severe charge upon the department. I pay £9 a’ year to the department for the rent of my share of a telephone line, and I have had to maintain that section of line for 30 years. The department ought to do that work. Senator Allan MacDonald sneered at our. automatic telephones. He had no occasion to do so.
– I did not mention them.
– Rural automatic telephones are my “ pets “. As PostmasterGeneral, I was instrumental in having them introduced to Australia, which was the first country in the world to use them in rural areas. Highly technical officers of the department established an outstanding rural automatic service. The present PostmasterGeneral proposes to install 400 such circuits; he ought to increase the number to 1,000. These automatic telephones provide a continuous service to country residents. They are installed in units of 25, and they are of great benefit to people in sparsely settled districts which do not warrant the cost of employing an officer to provide an all-night manual service. Another postal service which should be increased in country areas is the automatic post office system. There is an automatic post office in my district. A mail delivery service extends for nine miles from the nearest post office and at the end of that distance is a set of boxes, similar to those at large post offices, in which letters are placed for collection by subscribers. There is also a box where letters may be posted. This provides a good service, which ought to be extended to many more country districts. The general service that the department already gives and which the Postmaster-General now proposes to extend is of .great benefit to the community. Economy could be effected in country areas by the use of lower telephone poles. Twelve feet poles could bo substituted for the existing 20-feet poles, and two men would be able to erect them instead of five as at- present. I introduced this idea when I was PostmasterGeneral, and the saving achieved represented £1 a pole. Originally, the height of telephone poles was fixed at 20 feet because it was feared that people might cut the lines and interfere with the service. That sort of thing does not occur nowadays. I had special legislation passed to permit telephone wires to be erected within S feet of the ground, instead of at the previous minimum height of 12 feet. This, together with the introduction of 9-ft. cross-arms instead of 6-ft. cross-arms, enabled wires to be erected within easy reach of a man standing on a service truck, thus obviating the necessity for using ladders. The more extensive use of shorter poles would greatly facilitate the servicing of telephone lines. Of course, it would be necessary for the wires to cross roadways at heights not less than 20 feet.
The officers of the department are an excellent body of men. The Postmaster-General has pointed out that over 7,000 postal employees are serving in the armed forces. These men could be released and returned to their civil jobs immediately. This would relieve the strain on the Army and at the same time would restore to the public a service which is badly needed. I am pleased that, the Postal Department intends to extend country telephone services, and to provide cheaper telephone rates. I remind the Postmaster-General that some years ago it was the practice for the Postal Department to pay for the first two miles of a telephone line required by’ a subscriber. I suggest that this concession be restored.
.- I listened to the long and carefully prepared statement of the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) of what his department had done, and intends to do. in the hope that its climax would be the announcement of a reduction of the ordinary letter postage charge to 2d. Within our recollection penny postage existed in this country. Since then the charge has gradually increased until now it is 2-id. That may be all very well for members of Parliament, because they receive a free stamp allowance, but to the person who sends half a dozen letters a week, the present charge is a severe tax. I believe that telegraph and telephono charges are sufficiently low, but 2½d. is too much to pay for the carriage of a letter, possibly to a person in the next street. At least, the war-time increase of £d. should be removed. The Postal Department is making a profit of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000 a year. Does the Postmaster-General not agree that the time is opportune to grant some relief, or does he regard his department merely as a money-making concern? Here is an excellent opportunity for the Government to demonstrate its intention to ease the burden that the people of this country have had to bear during the war years.
– I should like the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) to give some information in reply to my query relating to feeder aerial services in outback regions. I understand that just prior to the war alternative tenders were to be called for mail services, one by road and the other by air.
– Senator Leckie has raised thequestion of reducing postage rates, but I am more concerned with what I may call the department’s slave traffic. I refer to its non-official post offices. Not only are the non-official postmasters themselves sworn to secrecy in connexion with their work, but their wives alsotake the oath of secrecy. In most nonofficial post offices, the duties of the postmaster are so heavy that he is obliged to call upon the assistance of his wife and other members of the family. His remuneration is very small indeed. In my travels around the State of New South Wales I have found non-official post offices in which the postmaster has received only £7 a week, despite the fact that he has required the full-time assistance of members of his family. In some instances they work from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., and then re-commence duty at 1.30 p.m. to get the mail ready by 3 p.m. Apart from this they have numerous duties to perform throughout the day. Those conditions would not be tolerated by any other section of the community. I have had several discussions with the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) on this matter and I understand that he is endeavouring to remedy the situation..
– In reply to Senator Cooper, I have to say that the department is always ready to take advantage of improved facilities for the transport of mails in country districts. The honorable senator can rest assured that this policy will continue. The department has everything to gain and nothing to lose by improving its services. I endorse wholeheartedly the remarks of Senator Gibson. During the war the Postal Department has been operating with 7,700 of its officers and staff in the fighting forces. It is true that it has had the assistance of a number of temporary employees, but it has rendered a service far in excess of that called for in pre-war years. In my long experience I have never met any body of men so loyal or so job-conscious as the officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department. They are prepared to do their best to serve the public. My personal belief is that the department has not received a fair deal. The technicians to whom reference has been made have not received the encouragement which should have been given to them, because of the tendency on the part of previous governments to increase surpluses rather than to improve services. I think I should be justified in endeavouring to reverse the process so far as possible, by increasing services and reducing surpluses. That brings me to the question of the non-official post offices to which Senator Amour has referred. There are roughly 8,000 such offices in the Commonwealth, compared with 1,200 official post offices. I am convinced from information at my disposal, that non-official postmasters are underpaid. They are rendering a valuable service, and are not receiving the remuneration to which they are entitled. However, the department i3 inquiring into this matter with a view to improving the position so far as is practicable.
In my opinion and the opinion of officers of my department, the telegraph operating rooms in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne are over-crowded. The men and women working in these offices do not enjoy the conditions which are so necessary if they are to render their best service. On one occasion I stood for an hour in the telegraph operating room in the Adelaide post office. I was amazed at the rapidity with which the officials worked, and the manner in which they endeavoured to excel in rendering service to the public. It is my intention to do whatever I can to improve their conditions.
Reference has been made by Senator Allan MacDonald to the issue of Australian Victory stamps in all denominations up to ls. That could be done provided man-power were available. Arrangements have been made for the issue of these stamps in three denominations, and I trust that the design will meet with the approval of the honorable senator. I do not pretend to be an artist, but so far as I am able to judge the design of the stamps does full credit to the artist responsible for them, and I am sure that they will meet with the complete approval of the public.
I appreciate Senator- Gibson’s remarks concerning officers of my department. His tribute was well merited, and 1 endorse what he has said. I assure the honorable senator that there is no intention of curtailing mail services. On the contrary, as soon as circumstances permit it is proposed to improve country mail services. The higher cost in 1944-45 to which the honorable senator drew attention, was due to the settlement of outstanding charges for the carriage of mails which will not recur this year.
I believe that quite a lot could be done to provide official postmasters with residences, and to improve accommodation which already exists. I refer in particular to Adelaide where owing to the increase of staff, the postmasters do not enjoy the privacy to which they are entitled. I am sure that when these matters are referred to the Government and a full statement is made of what can be done to improve the conditions under which official and non-official postmasters work, the Government will agree that there is room for improvement.
– I understood the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) to say that the Government had approved a post-war expenditure in his department of £19,000,000. If that be correct, can the
Postmaster-General say whether any money will be appropriated under this bill for that specific purpose? Were these estimates prepared before the war with J apan ended, and, if so, have they been revised to meet the new position? Numerous complaints have recently been made, particularly since the Minister has assumed control of the department, about the great delay that occurs in effecting trunk line telephone calls. I understand that this is due to a shortage of staff. I was impressed by the point made by Senator Gibson that, if 7,000 employees of the departmentare still in the armed forces, and the department is anxious to provide the service to which the public is entitled, the prompt release of those men would help to relieve the present manpower problems of the department. As an ex-Postmaster-General, I have always been under the impression that the Postal Department is the most efficient of all government departments, and the one department in which there is a general desire to render service to the people. I hope that its proud record will not be marred by deterioration of the trunk line telephone services. I hope that the present difficulty has been brought about only by the shortages of staff and of trunk lines.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Territories of the Commonwealth.
Proposed vote, £828,000.
.- I have no objection to the proposed vote of £507,700 for the Australian Capital Territory, but I should like to know whether the Government intends to move in the direction of giving to the people of the Australian Capital Territory a voice in the control of their local affairs. It seems anomalous that in a city of the size of Canberra, where the proportion of able and intelligent citizens is larger than is usual elsewhere, the people should have practically no voice in local government matters. It seems to me that some way should be devised to remove the dissatisfaction expressed at the fact that the residents have no effective voice in regard to either municipal or political affairs. In municipal matters, at least, there should be no difficulty in enabling the people to participate in local govern ment. The dissatisfaction felt at the way in which municipal affairs are conducted is quite justified. Has the Government any scheme in mind by which the people may be granted a larger share than at present in the management of the business of the Territory? The granting of such a right to the people would add to their interest in the National Capital, and to their pride in their own city. It would be of great advantage to the Commonwealth Government to be relieved of a great deal of the work which the management of the municipal affairs of the Territory involves.
– We have in Canberra an Advisory Council, to which are appointed curtain elected representatives of the people of the Territory. The function of that body is to consider what may be described as municipal problems, and to make recommendations to the Minister for the Interior regarding them. Therefore, to some degree, the wishes of the people in that regard have been met. The political representation of the residents of the Territory is bound up with the necessity for recasting electoral divisions throughout the Commonwealth. No census has been taken in Australia for a long period. The law, provides that this shall be done at certain intervals, but it has not been done regularly. It has been done on occasions, but because of difficulties associated with the war and the shortage of man-power, a census has not been taken for a considerable time. It is proposed to take a census throughout the Commonwealth with a view to levelling up or down the electoral inequalities which have arisen over the years. When that is done, the position in Canberra will be considered in conjunction with the requirements of the people of the rest of Australia. The Government is not unmindful of the fact that the people of this Territory are entitled to political representation. A representative citizens’ committee has been appointed, and it is preparing a scheme for the consideration of the responsible Minister. When the scheme is ready, the Government will give consideration to it, and see what can be done in the direction indicated by the Leader of the Opposition.
.- Has the Government any proposals for giving self-government to the people of the Northern Territory? The war being over, I also direct attention to the anomaly existing in connexion with the Department of External Affairs by the fact that the salaries of the officials from the top to the bottom have been fixed at ridiculously low rates by comparison with those prevailing in other departments. A similar comment is applicable to the Department of the Interior. This matter should be attended to, because the Commonwealth is losing many good men who have been employed in important departments. In view of the increased Cost of living, brought about by the war, and the increased taxes which the people are being called upon to pay, the Government is not offering the inducement which should be given to the officers of important departments, the heads of which should receive at least £2,000 per annum.
– Wages have been pegged, but the honorable senator seems to be concerned mainly with the men at the top.
– Due recognition should be given to merit. In the military arena, a major always receives higher pay than a private.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) spoke of salaries paid in certain Government departments, but I am not quite clear whether he intended to refer to the Department of External Affairs or the Department of External Territories. No proposal is being considered by the Government at present for granting political representation to the Australian Capital Territory.
– I was referring particularly to the matter of local government.
– I am disappointed with the reply given by the Minister (Senator Collings) regarding the political representation of the people of the Australian
Capital Territory. The National Capita] of the Commonwealth is without any municipal authority whatever. Of course, there is an Advisory Council, but ite sole function is to offer advice, and the Department of the Interior can please itself whether it accepts the recommendations of the council. The Capital City of the Commonwealth should have a proper municipal authority. The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Collings) has always taken t keen interest in the affairs of this city, and I am astonished that he has not taken steps to establish such a body, as it would tend to increase the civic pride of the people. In my opinion the Minister would make an excellent lord mayor of Canberra. At present, there is no dignitary to receive and welcome distinguished visitors on behalf of the city. In my opinion, a Lord Mayor of Canberra should follow the example of other lord mayors and have an annual dinner to which members of Parliament, consular representatives, and others would be invited. Such an occasion would provide an opportunity for the Prime Minister of the day to make important pronouncements of policy, and would attract large numbers of visitors to this city. We all appreciate the excellent work which the Vice-President of the Executive Council has done for Canberra, but I think that he has missed the opportunity of his life. However, it is not too late for him to give effect to my suggestion.
.- I thank Senator Herbert Hays for the compliment that he has paid to me in suggesting that I would make an excellent Lord Mayor of Canberra, but in my opinion, the position is one for an old man, and therefore I am not yet a candidate. There seems to be some misconception regarding this city. There is no room whatever for a municipal council in Canberra, because there would be no work for it to do. In Canberra the Government takes the place of a municipality; it supplies all the usual services which are provided in other cities by municipal councils. I do not know what a municipal council would do in Canberra, or where it would get fund.?.
No part of Australia is so well represented in the National Parliament as is the Australian Capital Territory, because every member who lives in Canberra or stays here from time to time becomes a representative of the city because he is so easily available to residents.
Although the Government has never been able to provide sufficient accommodation in Canberra, and there is no likelihood of the demand being met for some time, additional accommodation is being provided. Ever since I came to Canberra about fifteen or sixteen years ago there has been a waiting list of persons desiring homes, and at times as many as 400 or 500 names have appeared on it. However, the lack of houses and living accommodation is not peculiar to Canberra; it exists in other Australian cities and towns and in every other country in the world. Canberra has been particularly unfortunate in that two wars and a world depression have occurred since the decision to establish a capital here was made. Nevertheless, many hundreds of houses have been constructed since the seat of government was transferred here.
– Another 1,000 houses are wanted.
– The quota of houses allotted to Canberra has been decided on a liberal basis, and all that is now needed is the physical capacity to give effect to the desires of the Government to provide homes. [ assure the committee that the requirements of this city in the matter of accommodation have not been overlooked. Some cottages are always in the course of construction, and as they are completed they will be occupied. As soon as labour and materials are available some real progress in housing will bc made.
– I was in earnest when I said, that Canberra should have a municipal authority and therefore I was somewhat astonished at the reaction of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Collings) to my suggestion that he would make an excellent Lord Mayor. Knowing that he is a strict teetotaller, it is, perhaps, not surprising that he should throw cold water on my proposal.
.- Is the Minister in a position to say whether there is any likelihood of the main administrative offices, for which foundations were laid some years ago, being erected in the near future?
– I am pleased to be able to inform Senator Lamp that some time ago the Government decided to proceed with the erection of a building on the site to which he has referred. It is proposed that one-third of the building ultimately to be erected on those foundations shall be proceeded with as soon as possible. So far, the Government has not been able to do more than prepare plans, but work will be commenced as soon as labour and materials are available.
– I realize that there would be difficulty in giving effect to the suggestion of Senator Herbert Hays that Canberra should have its own municipal council and Lord Mayor, which is equivalent to Canberra having its lord of the manor, a state of affairs which should not exist in a democratic community. It is true that Canberra has its Civic Centre, but it is a Civic Centre only in name. The basis of all good government is local government. The present healthy democratic spirit in British countries is rooted in the system of local government that existed in England centuries ago. That system proved to be the most efficient and most democratic of all forms of government. In the local councils all complaints were ventilated and remedied. In spite of all the difficulties mentioned by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, the present position in the Australian Capital Territory should not be allowed to continue. It is not right that thousands of people in a community such as this should be disfranchised. That is against democratic principles. Should legislation be necessary to overcome those difficulties, the Government should enact such legislation without delay. If the number of voters in the Australian Capital Territory is not sufficient to entitle this community to a vote in the National Parliament they are at least entitled to representation in the Parliament in order that their voice may be heard. The fact that the present position has been allowed to exist for so long is a sad commentary upon democratic government in this country. The problem should be dealt with before it becomes more complicated.
– What the people of the Australian Capital Territory are asking for is a vote in the National Parliament. I should like to inform Senator Grant that residents of Washington have no representative in the Congress.
– They are represented in. the body which controls the municipality of Washington.
– The agitation in the Australian Capital Territory is not for representation in a municipal council, because the Government supplies all of the community’s needs in that respect. The agitation here - and it is perfectly justifiable - is for a representative in the National Parliament. The late Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, gave to a deputation of Canberra citizens an assurance that he was in favour of their being represented in the Parliament. He stated that he was a firm believer in the principle of no taxation without representation. But he also pointed out to that deputation the difficulties in the way of implementing their desires and said that so soon as those difficulties to which I have already referred could be overcome the matter would receive sympathetic consideration.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Preamble and Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. The Estimates tabled on the 7th September include provision for the expen diture of an amount of £8,640,000 for additions, new works and buildings. The proposed appropriations may he summarized as follows : -
Details will be found on pages 324-336 of the budget papers. With the cessation of hostilities and the consequent diversion of labour and materials from defence works it has become possible to make greater provision than in recent years for civil works of an urgent and essential nature. The provision for such works in the current year is £8,640,000, as compared with expenditure of £5,705,000 in 1944-45. The amount of £817,000 for war service homes allows for the construction of 600 new homes as well as for the purchase of land, improvement of existing homes and the taking over of onerous mortgages.
The provision of £1,574,000 for the Department of Civil Aviation covers electrical and other equipment and buildings and worksat aerodromes. The amount of £4,100,000 for the Postal Department will allow a commencement to be made in the provision of urgently needed postal facilities which necessarily had to be deferred during the war. Provision is made for £300,000 for hospitals and other institutions for the Repatriation Commission towardsa total programme of £947,000. Existing military facilities will be drawn upon wherever practicable. Reconstruction and developmental work will be required in the Northern Territory and £147,000 is included for this purpose. ‘ The amount of £595,000 for the Australian Capital Territory includes provision for the construction of 160 new cottages together with the associated engineering services. Details regarding specific works of the various departments will be supplied to honorable senators by the respective Ministers at the committee stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from the 2nd August vide page 4904) on motion by Senator Keane -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Approved pharmaceutical chemists).
.-I move -
That the clause be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following clause: - “ 5. Section ten of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - 10.- (1.) The Director-General shall, on application by a pharmaceutical chemist who is willing, subject to sub-section (5.) of this section, to supply pharmaceutical benefits on demand, approve that pharmaceutical chemist for the purposes of supplying pharmaceutical benefits in accordance with this Act. (2.) Where a pharmaceutical chemist desires to supply pharmaceutical benefits at several premises, a. separate application shall be made in respect of each of the premises and separate approval shall be granted in respect of each of the premises. (3.) Where an approved pharmaceutical chemist desires to supply pharmaceutical benefits at premises other than premises in respect of which approval has been granted, the Director-General shall, on application by the approved pharmaceutical chemist, grant approval in respect of those other premises. (4.) Subject to the next succeeding subsection, the approval of a pharmaceutical chemist (being a friendly society) under this section in respect of any premises shall bo an approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits to persons generally. (5.) Where, at the time approval is granted to a pharmaceutical chemist (being a friendly society) in respect of any premises, the number of premises in respect of which approvals are in force in favour of friendly societies is not less than the number of premises at which friendly societies carried on dispensaries on the first day of August, One thousand nine hundred and forty-five, the approval so granted (in this Act referred to as a “limited approval”) shall be an approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits to members of the friendly society, and to their respective spouses and children, only. (6.) Every approved pharmaceutical chemist shall display, at each of the premises in respect of which he is approved (but not including premises in respect of which the approval granted is a limited approval) a sign, in accordance with the prescribed form, indicating that he has been approved under this Act.’.”.
This amendment replaces the one which was originally proposed as the result of protests lodged by the friendly societies and the Chemists’ Guild. A meeting was held with representatives of the two organizations, and as a result this amendment, which appears to give satisfaction all round, was drafted. I am aware that honorable senators have received hundreds of telegrams within the last week, but this is due entirely to an inaccurate report regarding the nature of the proposed amendment. In my absence, due to illness a few days ago, the Prime Minister met representatives of the friendly societies and the Chemists’ Guild in Canberra, and again had a conference with the chemists’ representatives in Melbourne in order to secure agreement on the form of the amendment. I commend it to the Senate.
– I have not had time to consider the full implications of the amendment. Why has the Government changed its mind in connexion with clause 5 ? In his secondreading speech, the Minister commended clause 5 in its original form and said that it was desirable that the DirectorGeneral of Medical Services should not. give approval for the opening of new businesses by friendly societies. I understand that a promise to that effect was given to the chemists, but that they were subsequently advised that the Governmenthad gone back on its word and proposed to amend the bill as a sort of compromise to appease the friendly societies. Did the Government promise that it would do what was proposed in the original bill ?
– Then why has the Government broken its promise introducing this amendment?
Senator KEANE (Victoria - Minister form of the amendment which was originally proposed was the result of a conference between the Minister for Health and Social Services (Senator Fraser) and his officers with the representatives of the Chemists Guild. However, a law was passed by the Parliament of New South Wales permitting friendly societies in that State to open new dispensaries for the benefit of their own members. That position would not have applied in Victoria under the proposed amendment, which caused perturbation amongst friendly societies in that State. The amendment which I have now submitted provides that the friendly societies shall retain their existing dispensaries, and shall have the right to open new dispensaries for their own members. I am afraid that the growth of friendly societies in Australia will not continue on the scale which has prevailed up to the present because of new social services provided by this Government in the form of medical benefits, unemployment and sickness benefits, and free medicine, if it can be described as such, together with ‘other proposals which the Government has in mind. Neither the chemists nor the friendly societies will he injured by this bill. The amendment was drafted as the result of conferences at which the position was discussed and to my knowledge the chemists and the friendly societies are satisfied with it.
– Did the Minister say that a conference was held between representatives of the Government, the friendly societies, and the Chemists Guild ?
– Such conferences were held on numerous occasions. When the first proposed amendment, which has now been withdrawn, was mentioned by me in my second-reading speech, a large deputation of representatives of all friendly societies interviewed the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and myself at Canberra. Subsequently, further representations were made on behalf of those organizations, and the agitation, grew stronger daily. Therefore, the Government decided to investigate the matter further, and last week a conference was held at which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) acted on my behalf. A suggestion was then made on the lines contained in the amendment which I have submitted. The Prime Minister afterwards visited Melbourne, where he again met representatives of the Chemists Guild. To my knowledge the present proposal is satisfactory to everybody concerned.
.- I am not convinced that everybody is satisfied with the proposed amendment. In common with other honorable senators, I have been almost inundated with telegrams of protest, many of which have arrived within the last two days. I am not aware that any conference to adjust disagreements was held after Monday or Tuesday of this week. I want a clear explanation of the amendment from the Minister. Sub-clause 4 of proposed new section 5 is as follows: - (4.) Subject to the next succeeding subsection, the approval of a pharmaceutical chemist (being a friendly society) under this section in respect of any premises shall be an approval to supply pharmaceutical benefits to persons generally.
That provides that the friendly societies may sell medicine to persons other than their own members, except, as provided in proposed new sub-section 5, that new dispensaries shall confine their business to members and their respective spouses and children. The original unemployment and sickness benefits legislation contained no provision for friendly societies to sell medicine to non-members. Therefore, under proposed new subsection 4, the scope of the friendly societies dispensaries will be extended, and, under proposed new sub-section 5, it will be partially restricted by the fact that new dispensaries will not he allowed to trade with the general public. Can the Minister assure us that both the chemists and the friendly societies are satisfied with this proposal? If, in fact, the chemists are satisfied, and the telegrams which I have received have been sent as the result of a misunderstanding, I shall be satisfied.
– An inaccurate report was spread. How that happened I do not know.
– In Victoria and New South Wales, friendly society dispensaries are not permitted to sell medicine to the outside public. This bill will widen their scope. It is a sort of sop to them, because undoubtedly the Government’s social benefits legislation represents their death blow. Subject to the assurance of the Minister that the amendment has the approval of both the friendly societies and the chemists, I shall not object to it.
– It is proper forme to place on record an objection which is characteristic of many which I have received. I am not satisfied with the Government’s attitude regarding the proposed amendment. When the Minister made his second-reading speech on this bill on the 2nd August, he stated -
In order, therefore, that there shall be no further misunderstanding in this regard, it has been deemed advisable to define more clearly the Government’s intentions by limiting the number of dispensaries to be approved to those at present operating. I feel sure, in view of the various statements that have been made recently on this subject, that this amendment is eminently fair and will provide a satisfactory basis for agreement between all parties, provided, of course, that the States concerned make it possible for all existing dispensaries to play their part in providing benefits under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Act. The action of the New South Wales Government in limiting the number of dispensaries to’ those operating before the 1st March, 1945, is evidence, if any were needed, of the necessity for such a provision. [n view of that statement by the Acting Minister for Health (Senator Keane), I feel disposed to vote against the amendment. I wish to place on record also, a protest that I have received from the Pharmaceutical Students Association of the University of Adelaide. It reads as follows : -
We have learned with consternation of the proposed Government amendment to permit additional friendly society dispensaries to operate, thus entering into direct opposition to the profession for which we are training.
We understand the status quo of pharmacy has already been affected by legislation in four States allowing friendly societies open trading.
Representatives of pharmacy were told at an early stage in the negotiations that the status quo would not lie altered. Are we then to understand that at this late stage the Government proposes to go back on its promises to the pharmaceutical representatives?
At the Government’s request our course of training during the war .period was reduced to three years, in order that a greater number of pharmacists would become available to meet public demands. This reduced course has been a hardship both to the students and their masters, and we now feel that our co-operation has been in vain.
As our future depends upon the conditions of the free medicine scheme, we urge the Government to reconsider its proposals and thus restore our confidence in the men we have elected to rule in the best interests of democracy.
If the Government is adamant on this point, I propose to vote against the amendment.
– I should like to clear up one or two points of which much is being made by honorable senators opposite who are opposed to this measure. I have received a flood of telegrams from South Australia in regard to the matter, and I am certain that these communications have been sent as a result of a garbled and inaccurate press report of what the Government intended to do in this bill. The report was not a true account of the agreement arrived at between the Government and the friendly societies. This amendment will not permit any greater extension of the trade of friendly societies with the general public than is provided for in the original measure. The amendment seeks only to restore to the friendly societies a right that never should have been taken away from them - the right to extend their business and trade with their own members. The laws of the different States vary. In South Australia, friendly societies are permitted to establish branches and to trade with the general public. Were we to agree to the clause as at present drafted, considerable hardship would be inflicted upon friendly societies in South Australia, because the trade of their dispensaries with the general public would have been restricted to branches that were established prior to the 1st August, 1945. They would not have been permitted to extend their dispensaries. One can well visualize the protest that such a proposal would bring from the friendly societies in South Australia. In certain of the States friendly societies do not have the right to trade with the general public, so that under the original clause, they would have received a distinct advantage in that they would have been able to trade with the public, or, in other words, become approved societies.
– To what States is the honorable senator referring?
– New South Wales is one, and I believe that Victoria is another. In those States friendly societies’ dispensaries cannot trade with the general public. Therefore, under the clause as originally drafted, we would be giving a benefit to friendly societies in New South Wales and Victoria, but inflicting a hardship upon friendly societies in South Australia. This amendment remedies that injustice. It does not represent a departure from the principles enunciated in the Minister’s secondreading speech. Friendly societies which have been in touch with me to-day, have informed me that they are perfectly satisfied with the bill, although they believe that they are still being treated unfairly in not being permitted to trade with the general public through branches which may have been established after the 1st August. I am certain that the Chemists Guild has misunderstood the position. Its members will not lose anything. They will have the right to establish branches wherever they please.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
Section thirteen of the Principal Actis amended by omitting sub-sections (2.) and (3.) and inserting in their stead the following sub-sections: - “ (2.) An approved pharmaceutical chemist shall not be entitled to payment under this section in respect of the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit at premises other than premises in respect of which the pharmaceutical chemist is approved.
Amendment (by Senator Keane) agreed to -
That, after proposed new sub-section (2.), the following new sub-section be inserted: - “ (2a.) Where the approval under section ten of this Act granted to a pharmaceutical chemist (being a friendly society) in respect of any premises is a limited approval, that friendly society shall not be entitled to payment under this section in respect of a pharmaceutical benefit supplied at those premises to a person who is not a member of that friendly society or the spouse or child of such a member.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.
New clause 11.
Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to-
That, after clause . 10, the following new clause be added: - “ 11. Section twenty-five of the Principal Act is amended -
by adding at the end of paragraph (a) the words ‘or of any approved hospital authority ‘ ; and
by inserting in paragraph (c), after the word ‘ as ‘, the words ‘, or may be ingredients of,V
New clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The amendments to the Bankruptcy Act which the Senate is now asked to consider are of a machinery nature, and make no fundamental alterations in bankruptcy law. Provision is made in the principal act for the establishment of a Federal Court of Bankruptcy, which is to consist of a judge or judges, but not more than two in number shall be appointed. Those eligible for appointment are persons who are or have been judges or -who are barristers or solicitors of five years’ standing.
The act further provides, in section 18c, for the salary and pension of a judge, but only in respect of a judge who, immediately prior to his appointment, was a judge of another federal court. It is now proposed to make express provision for the salary and pension payable to a judge to whom section18c does not apply. In the case of the appointment of His Honour Mr. Justice Clyne, who was not immediately prior to his appointment, a judge of a federal court, his salary was fixed by an Executive Council minute at £2,500 per annum, which is the salary usually payable to a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. This is the amount of salary proposed to be fixed by this bill. The rate of pension proposed is also based on that payable in the case of judges of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, but subject to the variation that, where the judge was serving, immediately prior to his appointment, in any judicial office under a State, the terms of that service, but not exceeding five years, shall be added to the term of his service as a judge in bankruptcy for the purpose of calculating his pension.
Express provision is also made in the bill for the taking by a judge of an oath of allegiance and an. oath of office. As Mr. Justice Clyne took these oaths on his appointment, it is proposed that this provision shall be deemed to have come into operation on the 7th November, 1942, that being the date of Mr. Justice Clyne’s a ppointment.
The provisions of section 80 relate to the examination of persons with a view to the discovery of the dealings and affairs of a bankrupt, and it is proposed to extend the operation of those provisions to cases where the bankrupt is deceased. Provision is already made in section 155 for an examination of the affairs of deceased bankrupts, but there seems to be no reason why the ordinary provisions of section SO should not apply.
A further amendment relates to Part XII. of the act which relates to deeds of arrangement. It is at times desirable to remove a trustee of a deed of arrangement or to appoint a new trustee. Provision for that to be done has not been made in the existing act and it is now proposed to remedy the defect. I commend the bill to the Senate.
– This is a technical bill and the Opposition supports it.
.- This bill makes me laugh. I was a member of the Senate when the first Bankruptcy Bill was passed. We were told an impressive story. There was to be a Judge in Bankruptcy, a Registrar, and a clerk. That was to be the entire organization. Of course, since that time, like every other Commonwealth department, the Bankruptcy Court has grown steadily. I have no special objection to the bill, but no doubt the administration of theact will cost at the outset at least £2,000 a year. Like every other government department which has been estab lished, this department will gradually grow, and there will be no chance of ever abolishing it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 6280).
.-I congratulate the Government upon the proposal in this measure to remove the sales tax from certain articles and to reduce the tax applicable to others. This is a step in the right direction. I realize that it would be a waste of time for me to appeal to the Government at this stage to consider the exemption of other commodities from sales tax, and therefore I shall support the bill.
– I draw attention to the desirability of removing the sales tax from a line of floor coverings used extensively in Australian homes. Floor coverings in the form of felt, carpets, rugs, &c, other than linoleums, now carry this tax at the highest rate. They are subject to a tax of 25 per cent., but they cannot properly be described as luxury lines.
– Feltex cannot be obtained at present.
– I understand that it will be available shortly. It is not a particularly expensive floor covering, and it should be exempted from this objectionable impost.
The sales tax has been increased to the following rates: -
Since 1942, the tax has been increased in some instances to as much as 25 per cent.
.- I well recollect the imposition of the first sales tax in 1930. It was introduced by the Scullin Government as a temporary measure. That Government brought from Canada a man named Jones, who told us some fairy tales about the success of the tax in that dominion. He tried to make us believe that everybody in Canada admired it and that nobody felt its impact. But it is a bad tax. lt increases the cost of living, and imposes hardship on the man on a low income. Mr. Jones, who came to Australia to explain what a good tax it is, pulled a long bow. When I was in Canada in 1928, I was informed by members of the boards of trade in that dominion, which correspond to the chambers of commerce in Australia, that nobody in Canada had a good word to say about the tax. They declared that it was an abominable impost, and I agree with them.
– A government which the honorable senator supported doubled the tax.
– The party with which the honorable senator is associated has trebled it and has “monkeyed about” with it. When I waited upon the Treasurer of one of the governments which I supported, and asked him to reduce the tax, he replied, “ There will be no reduction, because this tax is an absolute money spinner “. The trouble is that the tax yields easy money to the Government. Like other indirect imposts, it hits the small man and the Government can “get away with it”. I should like to see the tax abolished.
.-This bill will meet with general approval, because it provides for the reduction of a tax which imposes hardships on the family-man and on the worker in receipt of a low wage. For a long period it has been accepted as a necessary evil, but it has a serious effect on the cost of living, and impedes industrial enterprise. I should have preferred no reduction of ordinary taxes rather than have the sales tax retained at the present level. The time has arrived for a review of tariff matters generally. When the only result of an impost is to produce revenue, serious attention should be given to its removal. Of course, tariffs are necessary for the protection of industry, but if they be merely used for revenue purposes, the wisdom of retaining them should be carefully considered. Probably the sales tax should not be removed from luxury articles, but serious consideration should be given to the reduction, if not the complete removal, of the tax from commodities in general use.
.- One of the anomalies in this legislation is that sales tax is imposed on paint. All householders use paint, in order to preserve buildings from the effects of the weather. A man with a small income who is buying his home, and has to pay rates and taxes on it, should not have to pay sales tax on the paint used to preserve his home. I know of men with moderate incomes occupying war service homes who have had the cost of the paint necessary to preserve their homes added to the capital cost of the dwelling rather than leave the house without the protection afforded by paint which they could not afford to buy. It is a sad state of affairs when materials necessary for the proper maintenance of homes are subject to taxes of this kind. I hope that the Government will consider seriously the abolition of the sales tax on paint.
– In my opinion heavy taxes must continue for some years, much as we would like to see them reduced. We must face the fact that we have to pay for the war. Nevertheless, I should like to see the sales tax abolished. It is a difficult tax to collect, and it entails an enormous amount of clerical work on business people. Sales tax clogs industry and hits especially the very section of the community whom we all profess to want to help.
– Nearly everything used by people with small incomes is exempt from sales tax, and the honorable senator knows that agricultural implements and other requisites of primary producers are also exempt.
– I admit that I do not have to pay sales tax on agricultural machinery and implements, but I know that sales tax appears on many accounts which I have to pay. Every householder pays sales tax. As a citizen of this country, I regard sales tax as an imposition which should be abolished as soon as possible.
– I support this measure for reasons which may differ from those of other honorable senators. In my opinion, sales tax is not so iniquitous a burden as some honorable senators would have us believe, although I admit that any tax on the necessaries of life is an unjust hurden. The community generally has no objection to a tax on amusements, and pays the tax willingly. Sales tax on luxury goods cannot be objected to. The removal of sales tax from a long list of articles, and the reduction of the tax on other commodities, show that the Government intends to return to ordinary methods of taxation as soon as possible. I recall that when a non-Labour government sought to impose sales tax on certain articles I attacked it rather violently. I am, therefore, pleased that the present Labour Government, which has had to use this means of obtaining revenue during the war, has shown its honesty and sincerity by removing the tax from many articles and reducing it on others. I should like to see other goods freed from sales tax. In this connexion, I mention that cricketing materials used by youths in the community are still subject to 25 per cent, sales tax. It is not right that sporting materials used in colleges and schools, and by young people generally, should bear this tax. I agree that certain articles used by public bodies, such as fire brigades, and materials used for the building of homes should be exempted from sales tax, and T believe that from time to time further exemptions will be made. I hope that the Government will take steps to ensure that the public gets the benefit of these reductions of sales tax. It may be necessary for the Prices Commissioner to follow up this legislation, because people who have been in the habit of paying certain prices for articles for a considerable period may not know that the tax on them has been removed or reduced. It is to be regretted that the proceedings of this Parliament are not given wider publicity. Important discussions on matters affecting closely the life of the community are rarely brought to the notice of the public, whereas a foolish remark or any disagreement is published under big headlines. It is possible that little or no publicity will be given by the press to the reduction of sales tax on many articles in every-day use, and therefore it may be necessary for this legislation to be policed. I compliment the Government on the introduction of this measure, and I am confident that other items will be exempted from sales tax as circumstances permit.
– in reply - Contrary to general belief and to the opinion of many honorable senators, most of the articles used by that section of the community frequently described as the workers have been exempted from sales tax for some years. Moreover, agricultural implements, farm equipment, and all articles of food, such as meat, bread, butter, jam, sugar, milk, tea and fish, as well as beer and tobacco, are exempted from sales tax. The tax on clothing will in future be only per cent. In the light of these facts, the statement that working people are taxed heavily on essential requirements is not correct.
Senator Lamp urged that the sales tax on paint should be removed. Paint is used for many purposes, and it is impossible to differentiate between paint used for preserving homes and paint used for other purposes. The Government has gone as far as possible by exempting from sales tax goods used in the construction of homes. Senator Lamp’s suggestion will be considered when further exemptions are contemplated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 6281).
.- This measure gives effect to proposals outlined in the budget, and we discussed those proposals fully when the budget was under consideration. The bill brings into the National Welfare Fund old-age pensions, widows’ pensions, child endowment and other social service benefits. It appears to be more advantageous to pay these benefits from a central trust fund rather than from revenue. The Opposition has no objection to the rearrangement proposed along those lines.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through i ts remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 6282).
.- As the second reading of this measure was moved earlier to-day, and in the meantime we have been engaged on other business, we have not had an opportunity to scrutinize it. So far as I can ascertain, the measure is designed to carry out proposals embodied in the budget. We disagree with the rates proposed, and having voiced that objection, the passage of the measure becomes the responsibility of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 6283).
.- This is a machinery measure which, like the two preceding measures just passed, results from the fact that the Government has made a very important step in its history and a very great departure from the policy to which it previously adhered. It has now taken a step advocated for so long by the Opposition towards recognition of the contributory principle in the provision of social service benefits. The Government has partly seen the light; it might be said that its eyes are now half open.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through remaining stages without requests or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 6283).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 6284).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Motion (by Senator Keane) agreed to -
Th at the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
.- I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
This morning, Senator Arnold asked, upon notice -
Is it a fact that apples, for which the grower in Tasmania receives5s. a case, are allowed to be sold in the Sydney market at 30s. a case : if so, why?
I now inform him that a maximum wholesale price for apples of 29s. a case has been fixed by the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner. This price also applies to sales by the Apple and Pear Marketing Board, but the advances made by the board to the growers in Tasmania are fixed by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture at specified rates according to variety and grade.
Earlier to-day, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) asked for information concerning a force despatched to Ambon. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) has now supplied the following answers : -
It is now desired to advise the honorable senator that the Australian force sent to Amboina was known as the “Gull” force, consisting of a head-quarters and a battalion group of a total strength of 1,092 personnel. The organization of this force had been developed in collaboration with the Allied Governments prior to this Government taking office, and the Government honoured the commitment that had been entered into - the force that was despatched being largely based upon the inter-allied plans that had been developed at the time.
It has been suggested that the force was inadequately supplied with fighting equipment and was deficient in medical supplies. This is definitely incorrect. Supplies of ammunition, medical and all other requirements were completely adequate, it being directed by the Government that six months’ reserves of such requirements must be maintained at Amboina, and of this reserve considerable quantities had reached its destination some months prior to the force. In addition, 30 days’ maintenance supplies were taken with the force itself andafurther shipment arrived early in January, 1942, providing further maintenance supplies, and bringing the total reserve of all requirements to approximately five months.
Australian forces were based in strategic positions in the islands guarding the northern approaches to the continent of Australia, and while there has been some criticism from those who have not been fully aware of the necessity for these strategic plans, it is nevertheless known to those in responsible quarters that the gallant stand made by these men - many of whom have unfortunately given their lives in consequence - resulted in staying the onward p ush of the Japanese hordes, thus enabling, the Allied forces to reinforce their strength and eventually to drive them back and achieve victory. I record these indisputable facts, so that the name of the “ Gull “ Force may live al ways in the memory of the people of this country. The information that is available in regard to the fate of the members of this force is that, at the time of occupation of Amboina by the Japanese, it was established in two main groups, at Ambon and Laha respectively. Ambou and Laha are located on the island of Amboina on opposite sides of Ambon Bay, the distanceacross the bay being only 5 or6 miles,but much further by land. During the Japanese Occupation, there was no contact whatever between the Australian prisoners of war in these two locations. As far as is known to date, Australians who have been recovered were all members of the group that was located on the Ambon side of the bay, and so far these recovered personnel have not been able to furnish any information as to the whereabouts at any time after capture of the force that was located at Laha, and to date there are no known recoveries from the group which was originally at Laha. The recovery force consisted of an Australian infantry brigade group, which entered Amboinaon the 23rd September, 1945, as an occupation force and to effect the recovery of prisoners of war and internees then on the island. Advice has been received from this force that all possible clues are being actively followed up’ in efforts to trace prisoners of war and internees, advice of whose fate has not yet been forthcoming. Special efforts are being made to endeavour to trace the movements of the Laha group, instructions having been given for the interrogation of all Japanese commanders, officers and staffs as in their, knowledge of this group, with par ticular reference to any movement of the group or individuals of the group since the Japanese occupation. Next-of-kin and others who areso anxiously awaiting news of missing prisoners of war may be assured that no effortsare being spared in the prosecution of these inquiries. Similar investigations are being made in all other localities throughout the Pacific East Asia and in Japan. On behalf of the Government - and I believe that I can also speak on behalf of this Parliament - I extend our greatest sympathy to the next-of-kin ana relatives of those who laid down their livesin this island outpost in order that we, asa nation, might survive. We extol the gallantry and devotion of the whole force. We honour the memory of those who made the supreme sacrifice, and to those survivors who will shortly return home we pay due homage. My latest advice is that the commanding office! of this force, Lieutenant-Colonel W. J.R Scott, with 125 other members arrivedin Sydney to-day, the 3rd October, 1945. Of the total force, 407 deaths in hostilities and during other activities have been reported, and 306 have been recovered alive. This includesa number who were transferred by the Japanese from Amboina to Hainan. Personnel about whom no specific reportsby name have been received number 380.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented
National Security Act -
National Security (General) Regulations - Orders -
Control of cork (No. 2).
Handbags (Manufacture) (No. 2).
National Security (Timber Control) Regu- lations-Orders-
Control of timber (No. 5) - Revocation.
Timber (Revocation and amendment; (No. 1).
War Service Homes Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1945, No. 152.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 October 1945, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1945/19451003_senate_17_185/>.