17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Broadcasting of Proceedings: Report of Committee. The PRESIDENT.- I present the second report of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee, which reads as follows : -
The Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings submits its Second Report for presentation to each House of the Parliament and recommends its adoption.
The Joint Committee has further considered the general principles upon which there should be determined the days upon which, and the periods during which, the proceedings of the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be broadcast, which were specified in itsFirst Report adopted by both Houses on5th July, 1946. In accordance with section 12 (1.)of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946, the Joint Committee has now resolved -
That the following words be addedto paragraph (2) of the general principles set out in its First Report;-“ orat 11.30 p.m., whichever is the earlier “. (The paragraph would then read - “ (2) Periods during which proceedings shall be broadcast:The broadcast shall commence on each sitting day at the time fixed for the meeting of the House whose opening proceedings are to be broadcast on that day as determined by the Joint Committee on, the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings in accordance with section 12 (2.) of the Parliamentary . Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946, and shall cease when the adjournment is moved in the House which is being broadcast at that time or at 11.30 p.m., whichever is the earlier.”).
That the following paragraph be added to the general principles set out in its First Report: - “ (6) The general principles specified in the First Report of the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings adopted by both Houses on 5th July, 1946, shall be observed generally by the Joint Committee in making determinations in accordance with the Parliamentary Proceedings. Broadcasting Act 1946 but nothing in those general principles shall be taken to prevent the Joint
Committee from departing from those general principles in order to meet any unusual or special circumstances”. (Sgd.) . J.S.Rosevear, Chairman. 16th July, 1946.
The recommendations now made are considered by the committee to be necessary, in order to modify certain provisions in the first report which, on review, were found to be somewhat rigid. Paragraph 2 of the first report made it mandatory for the broadcasts to continue until the motion for the adjournment is made by a Minister. The committee examined the times at which the adjournment had been moved over a recent period of twelve months, and found that 47 per cent. of the motions had been made before 10.30 p.m., 41 per cent. between 10.30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. and 12 per cent. after 11.30 p.m. The committee also ascertained that the cost of extending the broadcast after 11.30 p.m.,. the time at which the second national stations normally close down, would be approximately £50 anhour. It was considered that, although the number of occasions on which the adjournment is moved later than 11.30 p.m. is likely to be relatively small; the continuation of the broadcast to a late hour, cannot, as a general practice, be justified. Accordingly the committee has recommended that, unless unusual circumstances render an extension desirable, the broadcast should not continue after 11.30 p.m. The additional words and paragraphs are designed to give effect to this recommendation, and will also allow the committee to make such determinations as are deemed desirable in order to meet any unusual or unforseen circumstances which may arise.
Motion (by Senator Cameron) - by leave - agreed to -
That the report toe adopted.
CONDITIONS OF NURSES- BENEFITS.
-I ask the Minister for Health the following questions : -
-I have no knowledge of any award having been made in favour of nurses in repatriation hospitals. As the honorable senator will appreciate, that matter comes within the province of the Minister forRepatriation, and, accordingly, I am not in a position to make the comparison for which he asks. I suggest that the honorable senator give notice of bis question, in which eventI shall have the matter investigatedand, later, supply him with an answer to his third question.
– I ask the Minister for Health the followingquestions: -
– The honorable senator was good enough to let me have prior notice of his questions. I compliment him on the extraordinary memory that enabled him to. repeat verbatim the questions which he had previously presented to me. Tie answers that I ‘have, had an opportunity to prepare are as follows : - »
– Is the Minister for Health aware that, since the passing of the Hospital Benefits Act, numerous private hospitals have raised their fees by £2 2s. a week, the actual amount of the Commonwealth payment, which, therefore, does not benefit the patients and so defeats the purpose of the legislation?
– I am aware that in certain instances increases have taken place. In each ease the increase has been made with the full authority of the Prices Commissioner. My department and the Prices Commissioner recognize that the purpose of the legislation, which was designed to give a benefit to patients, might easily be defeated if charges by private hospitals are not watched very carefully. I assure the honorable senator that there is very close co-operation between officers of my department and the prices authorities to ensure that the intention of the legislation is not defeated. Increases have been permitted in a few cases only after very close investigation, and I believe that, in almost every instance, they are due to the fact that hospital costs, arising from nurses’ salaries and other charges, have increased. As I said earlier in reply to Senator Nicholls, only sixteen increases have been approved in South Australia. The honorable senator may. safely rely on my department, in conjunction with the officers of the Prices Branch, to see that no abuses occur.
– In view of the serious shortage of ships on the Tasmania-King Island service, and the promise by the former Minister for Supply and Shipping, Mr. Beasley, on the 12th October, 1944, that every effort would be made to have the vessel Tambarreleased to return to this service, what relief, if any, can the Minister for Supply and Shipping promise now that Tambar has been taken for another service?’
– My advice is that King Island is being adequately served .by the steamers Naracoopa, Narrabeen, and with Tambar calling at that island as part of its total itinerary in the MelbourneUlverstone service. -. I have been advised fo-day by the Director of Shipping that cargoes that accumulated as the result of the delays to Naracoopa and Narrabeen earlier in the month, have now been moved and that there is no cargo awaiting clearance to King Island. Also, adequate provision has been made for the transport of cattle from King Island to Melbourne.
– Some time ago I drew the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping to the acute shortage of shipping tonnage between Tasmania and the mainland. The Minister then informed me that he was hopeful that in the near future an additional number of vessels would be placed in the Australian coastal trade. Is the Minister now in a position to say whether any other ships have been added to the trade, and, if not, when we may expect additional tonnage to become available to relieve the acute shortage now prevailing?
– The shipping services between Tasmania and the mainland, like the other coastal services of Australia, have been under close consideration. The honorable senator will realize, as does the . Government, that owing to the heavy calls made on shipping during the war and the great -loss of tonnage, a fairly good service has been provided for Tasmania under present conditions. There has been a greater- quantity of produce and goods transported between Tasmania and the mainland during the last three years than during the pre-war period.
– That speaks well for production in Tasmania.
– It also speaks well for the Government which has been in charge of the affairs of this country. During the next few months it is proposed to return the steamers Taroona, Talune, Ormiston and Delamere to the coastal trade for a short period. Whilst I realize that water carriage is the only form of transport which can fully meet the. needs of Tasmania, the claims of the other , States also require consideration.
Although the tonnage that has been withdrawn from the Tasmanian services is greater than ever in the history of that State; a similar problem has arisen with regard to the needs of the other States. Having regard to the limited quantity of tonnage, available, and the applications received from. Queensland, Western Australia: and South Australia for improved shipping services, everything possible has been, -done to distribute the available tonnage, on an equitable basis. I can assure the honorable senator that the claims of Tasmania will not be overlooked in the distribution of any additional tonnage that may be available.
– :;; - POWER RESOURCES.
Petrol Rationing - Leigh Creek Coal - Hydro-electric Power.
– Now that the Government of the United States of America has approved the loan to Great Britain, can the Minister for Supply and Shipping inform the Senate how this will affect the restoration of full petrol supplies to this country? Also, can he say to what degree has the Commonwealth Government assisted the Government of South Australia in the development of the Leigh- Creek coal-field? In view of the very heavy demands that inevitably - will be made on coal for generating electric power for industrial and domestic lise, will the Minister acquaint the
Senate of the possibilities of generating this power by the utilization of Australian waterways?
– I believe that the ratification by Congress of the United States of America of the loan to Great Britain will have some bearing on the petrol position in this country. Australia, like other Empire countries, is dependent upon Great Britain for dollar funds, and I assume that the loan will replenish the dollar pool; but I remind honorable senators that the loan primarily is to improve the austerity living standards of the people of. Great Britain, and to enable that country to import machinery and other capital equipment. Australia has kept” in line with Great Britain in regard to petrol rationing, and I understand that the British Minister for Fuel, Mr. Shinwell, has announced in the House of Commons that there will be an increase of 50 per cent, in the basic petrol ration in Great Britain, and also a more generous allowance for essential users. In view of that action by the British Government the time should not be far distant - after a survey of the position has been made by my department and consultations carried out with the British authorities - when petrol rationing in this country will be abolished.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that the quantity of petrol for which, ration tickets are issued each month to liquid fuel consumers is now in excess of the quantity of petrol being consumed? Having regard to the buoyant position of petrol stocks now held in Australia, and in view of the annual cost of the rationing scheme of £250,000, will the Minister give immediate consideration to the removal of liquid fuel controls?
– Evidently the honorable senator was not present when I answered a question regarding petrol rationing earlier to-day. I then indicated that petrol rationing was being continued because the Government had no information regarding future supplies. At present, stocks of petrol in Australia are probably sufficient to last for two or two and a half months. The rationing scheme in Australia is similar to -that in Great Britain. As I said previously, the Australian Government is following the British Government in regard to petrol rationing, and any modification of the scheme would probably have an effect, on the dollar pool. As early as last April, I made representations to the British Government, through the Australian Resident Minister in London, Mr. Beasley, stressing the transport difficulties existing in Australia, which is much larger in area than Great Britain, and asking that consideration be given to an improvement of the petrol rationing scheme. I was advised by the British Government that, although South Africa had lifted rationing and New Zealand had passed control over to the distributors, it was desirable to continue the rationing scheme in Australia. Every avenue has been surveyed. The problem of distribution must be considered. Certain petrol pumps in the outback areas that were out of operation during the war must be reconditioned before the rationing scheme can be abolished so that there will be an equitable distribution of supplies. It would be unjust to discontinue petrol rationing at a time when only the residents of cities or large country towns would be able to take full advantage of supplies. I want to be assured that everybody in Australia, . particularly residents of outback areas, will have a fair opportunity to take advantage of increased supplies when rationing is lifted. The honorable senator may rest assured that the rationing scheme will be abolished as soon as possible. I am fully aware of the cost of the scheme, and the Government - does not intend to continue that expenditure any longer than is necessary.
– I think the Minister for Supply and Shipping missed the point of my . question.
– Order! The honorable senator must ask a question.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that the quantity of petrol represented hy ration tickets issued to liquid fuel consumers each month is greater than the quantity of petrol being consumed?
– The honorable senator’s question indicates that certain people are in receipt of a surplus of ration tickets. I see nothing wrong in that; there is nothing dishonest about it. This may occur to certain fortunate people. It is not compulsory for any person issued with ration tickets to-use all of them or to return unused tickets. I recall a time early in the period of rationing when I returned unused coupons at the end of each month in order to’ conserve petrol supplies. Many other people did likewise. If the honorable senator has any friends who have an excess supply of ration tickets, I suggest that he ask them to return those tickets at the end of each month and do a service to the country.
– Earlier this afternoon I directed three questions to the Minister for Supply and Shipping. 1 thank him for his reply to my-first question, and now ask him if he would be good enough to reply to the other two questions. They were - To what degree has the Commonwealth Government assisted the Government of South Australia, in the development of the Leigh Creek coal-field? In view of the very heavy demands that will in future be made on coal for generating electric power for industrial and domestic use, will the Minister inform the Senate as to the possibilities of generating the electric power required by the utilization of Australia’s waterways?
-J regret that in answering the first of the honorable senator’s questions I omitted to reply to his other two questions. As to the granting of assistance to the Government of South Australia, I point out that in 1944 the Commonwealth -Government was approached by the Premier of South Australia for financial assistance in the development of the Leigh Creek coalfield, and it agreed to make a grant of £100,000 to assist in that project. In 1945 it made another advance of £50,000, which, I think, was in connexion with a plant for the cleaning and drying of the coal from Leigh Creek. As to the utilization of waters for the production of electricity, I can inform the honorable senator that about three weeks ago repro
Ber. rat ives- of the Governments of the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victoria met in conference at Canberra to discuss the best use to ‘ which the waters of the Snowy River could be put. The Government of Victoria- proposed that the waters should be utilized to generate electricity, whereas the Government of New South Wales proposed that some of the Snowy River waters should be diverted into the river Murrumbidgee. The Commonwealth Government was represented at the conference by reason of the rights conferred on it by an agreement entered into in 1910. The conference decided that an investigation should be carried out and a report made within six months. When this report has been compiled, the use of the waters of the Snowy River will be determined. Tasmania, of course, developed its hydroelectric resources considerably. If the honorable senator requires any further information on this subject I shall endeavour to make it available to him.
Eat Lambs - Prices - Deliveries
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister ,for Commerce and ‘Agriculture whether he knows that the fat lamb industry in Tasmania is being developed on very sound lines, that the quality of Tasmanian lambs is equal to the best Canterbury lambs and that- the industry is capable of very great expansion? Will the Government ensure to the industry in Tasmania direct representation on the proposed meat board?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice -of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
– I understand that the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has now available a reply to a question which I asked some time ago in relation to the meat contract between the Australian and United Kingdom Governments. .
– On the 28th June Senator Gibson referred to certain questions which he had asked in connexion with the long-term agreement with the Government of the United Kingdom covering meat and the prices paid. The answer to his original question on the 5th April, 1945, was very lengthy, and after- consultation with the Minister for Commerce and .Agriculture and with the Clerk of the
Senate, the replies were furnished to the honorable senator by letter during the recess. I would suggest that instead of being critical of the action taken by my colleague, the honorable senator should have expressed some appreciation for the information furnished, as it involved quite a .deal of research and the collection of considerable data. However, as intimated to the Senate on the 28th June, 1946, I arranged for a portion of the answers to the various question to be incorporated in Ilansard. It now appears that the honorable senator has not been able to understand fully the information which has been furnished to him. In his further statement, in the course of which he has attacked the Government on the basis of incorrect assumptions, he is seeking the explanations which he apparently is unable to work out for himself.
The honorable senator was informed in the replies to his questions that the . Commonwealth Government is the purchaser on an f.o.b. basis of all meat for export under a long-term purchase agreement. This agreement has been acclaimed by producers throughout Australia, and yet the honorable senator, refers to a fictitious profit which he claims occurs between the time the meat is placed f.o.b. in Australia until it is handled wholesale on behalf of the British Government in the United Kingdom. It should have been very obvious to the honorable senator that if meat is sold, f.o.b. by the Commonwealth Government to the British Government, which in turn i3 the shipper, buyer ‘and distributor of the meat, profits, if any, would accrue to the Government of the United Kingdom. He will note, however, the words “ if any “ as it is highly, improbable that the Government of the United Kingdom, which is entrusted with the huge task, of feeding the population of the United Kingdom, would wittingly make profits out of its purchases of meat from Australia, New Zealand or any other supplying country.
I regret that the honorable senator should have raised this matter. He has already been told in reply to his questions the whole position with regard to the purchase arrangement. He has suggested that from the meagre details which he furnished to this chamber he has sufficient evidence to prove that the producer is not receiving what he is entitled to. I deny this charge and challenge the honorable senator to prove it. The meat producer of Australia has not only received from the Commonwealth Government the returns to which he is entitled under the long-term purchase agreement but also the additional returns made possible by the Government’s recent action in purchasing at wholesale ceiling levels the exportable surplus of meat in the several States of the Commonwealth instead of allowing this meat to find its way into export at the lower contract values.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say what charges I have made that he denies and what assertions I have made that he challenges me to prove? The simple question I asked was what became of the difference between the £1 9s. 4d. paid to the producer for a lamb in Australia, and the £2 10s., for which that lamb is sold in London. I challenge the Minister now tn answer that question.
– I do not u ink it is necessary for the honorable senator to challenge rae. In fairness to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture I must point out that the honorable senator accused the Government of robbing the producer-.
– I did not do anything of the kind.
– If the honorable senator can give a concrete instance bearing out has allegation I am sure that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture will furnish him with a statement.
– It has happened in respect of every 50-lb lamb that has left Australia.
– To assist in bringing about the return of home deliveries of meat, will the Minister for Trade and Customs consider dispensing with the quota system of distributing meat to butchers and implementing the ration coupon system, which was in operation previously? Some butchers are hiding behind the- quota system, whereas others are prepared to resume deliveries but cannot obtain adequate supplies under the present system.
– The position io -being examined, but the problem is not so easy of solution as the honorable senator would suggest. The abolition of the quota, system is beset with complications and great difficulties. Having this in mind, I am having an examination made to ascertain whether it is possible to dispense with the system. The abolition of the quota system might have the effect of accelerating a return to the normal conditions of home delivery, but the problem is not easy.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether his department has investigated the present shortage of cigarette papers? Are the manufacturers holding any stocks ? Is an increase of the price of cigarette papers contemplated? If .so, has this any bearing upon the present shortage?
– There has been a grave shortage of cigarette papers. An investigation hy the department disclosed that it was due entirely to lack of female labour. With a view to overcoming the shortage, I have placed an embargo on the exportation . of cigarette papers for the time being, and have also issued additional import licences. Manufacturers in New South Wales and Victoria have opened factories in country areas in those States and production from such units should relieve the shortage in the near future.
– In view of the importance to the domestic economy of Australia of providing full and productive employment and with a view to establishing further Australian credits overseas, especially in the dollar field, will the Minister representing the Treasurer give his wholehearted support to my representations to the Treasurer for encouraging the maximum production of gold ? With that end in view, and for the purpose of compensating the industry in some measure for increased production costs, will the Minister assist ray representations by advocating the abolition of the selective Commonwealth gold production tax and also expedite the early return to the gold-fields of all mining machinery impressed , by the Government for war purposes ?
– I realize the importance of gold production to Australia’s economy, particularly in relation to the accumulation of dollar exchange. It is not usual to ask a Minister to disclose Government policy regarding the continuance or otherwise of a tax in answer to a question. If I recall the facts, the tax referred to by the honorable senator was imposed by a United Australia party government of which the honorable senator was a supporter. He now asks whether I am prepared to disclose Government policyin regard to it. Like other people in Australia, gold-miners, mine owners and others associated with the industry will be well looked after by the present Government.
Standardization of Gauges
– In view of the urgent necessity for overcoming the break of gauge problem at Kalgoorlie, will the Minister representing the Minister for Transport again take up with the Government of Western Australia the need for constructing a standard gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Perth as soon as possible? In his discussions with the State authorities, will he emphasize the importance of this work from the aspect of defence?
– Thematter is receiving the earnest and continuous consideration of the Government, but it is not one which can be discussed to-day and disposed of to-morrow. The necessity for this work is fully realized, and I can assure the honorable senator that no avoidable delay will occur in giving effect to the final decisions reached.
– In view of the fact that strong representations have been made to the Government by the Northern New England Farmers
Union and the Northern New England Farmers Co-operative Society, to be given an opportunity to purchase machinery from the pool situated at Guyra, and the purchase by them of the shed which housed the machinery so as to enable them to assist farmers in the northern sections of New South Wales, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture inform the Senate whether the Government has given consideration to the request? If it has, will the Minister state its decision in the matter? Has the Government also considered the request of the Northern New England Farmers Cooperative Society to be allowed to become a buying agent under the Potato Agreement Regulations, and has the application been favorably considered?
– The request by the Northern New England Farmers Union and the Northern New England Farmers Co-operative Society for an opportunity to purchase certain machinery at Guyra is being considered by the Government, whose policy is to give sympathetic consideration to the granting of assistance to co-operative societies throughout Australia. When a decision has been reached as to the other matter referred to by the honorable senator, a reply regarding it will be furnished to him.
Licences for ex-Servicemen.
– In view of the high wheat yields in Tasmania in the past, will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture immediately issue a register of farms available to ex-servicemen, and issue permanent wheat licences to them, so that, they may commence fallowing their land for next season’s crop? Will exservicemen be assured of participation in the wheat stabilization scheme?
– The honorable senator was good enough to furnish me with a copy of his question, and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has replied that temporary registration of a wheat farm this season is granted to any applicant under the wheat stabilization proposals. This will in future be a State function. Licences are issued annually, and those for nest season will be issued by the States under the wheat stabilization plan. Ex-servicemen may be assured that they will participate in the stabilization scheme.
– In view of the claim by many recipients of superannuation pensions, annuities, and other payments which in the main are more in the nature of repayments of capital than income, will the Minister representing the Treasurer consider the exemption of such payments from the social services tax?
– I shall discuss the matter with the Treasurer, and supply the honorable senator with a reply to his question later.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that there is an accumulated stock of over 50,000 tons of steel products, including galvanized iron, plain and barbed wire, wire netting, piping and other building materials, awaiting shipment at Newcastle? If so, what action will the Minister take to provide transport facilities, so that primary producers and builders may obtain delivery of these materials which are urgently required? In the event of shipping not being available, what assistance will the Minister give in providing overland transport?
– I am aware that there is some congestion at Newcastle of the materials described by the honorable senator, but he should be more explicit, and mention the particular State which he has in mind.
– Twenty thousand tons of these products are required in Victoria.
– I did not know whether the honorable senator was referring to Victoria, South Australia, or “Western Australia, but I shall give consideration to the matter.
– Earlier this afternoon I asked the Minister for
Supply and Shipping if he was aware that at Newcastle there is an accumulation of more than 50,000 tons of steel products including galvanized iron, plain and barbed wire, wire netting, piping and other materials, 20,000 tons of which is awaiting shipment to Victoria? If so, what action will the Minister take to provide transport facilities so that primary producers and builders in Victoria may obtain delivery of these urgently required materials? In the event of shipping not being available, what assistance can the Minister give in regard to overland transport to Victoria? .
– I thought I had made this matter clear to the honorable senator in answer to a previous question. He ‘has now modified hi? original general question. It may be that there are 50,000 tons of material stored at Newcastle. The honorable senator has made particular reference to the position in the State of Victoria. The Premier of that State was in touch with me a fortnight ago, and arrangements were made for the transport of materials from Newcastle to Victoria. The only material remaining at Newcastle at that time amounted to about 7,000 tons. I should like to know, therefore, if the figure quoted by the honorable senator is up to date. However, I shall get in touch with the Premier of Victoria tomorrow morning, and I hope that I shall be in a position to give to honorable senators an accurate statement of the position in Victoria at a later stage.
– MOTOR TYRES.
– In view of the lifting of controls on motor tubes this week, can the Minister for Supply and Shipping say when an announcement of the early lifting of tyre rationing can be expected ?
– It is a fact that the control of motor tubes has been lifted, but there is no present indication that* it will be possible to remove the control over tyres. I assure the honorable senator that all controls wi 11- be removed as soon as possible. The Government does not desire to retain them any longer than is necessary. It realizes that controls cause inconvenience, and in some instancse hardship, and. do not add to the popularity of* the government which imposes them. Controls are continued only in respect of goods that are in short supply, thereby ensuring an equitable distribution of the goods that are available.
– The Minister for Supply and Shipping doubtless knows of the acute shortage of coal in Victoria, resulting in many factories being either closed, or working at about half capacity. He also knows how necessary it is for those in control of factories to know in advance when their establishments will be working in order that the “fullest possible employment may be provided. I was informed in Melbourne last week that the Minister had the coal-miners under control.
– Order ‘ The honorable senator must ask his question.
– I was also informed that there would be any amount of coal in Victoria in September. I now ask the Minister whether that information is correct, and, if so, whether factories will be able to remain open, and thereby provide full employment, during the forthcoming election, campaign ?
– In answer to the honorable senator’s sarcastic question, I inform him that I never intimated that there would be large quantities of coal available in Victoria, in September. I question the reliability of his statement that many Victorian factories are working at about half capacity. Only a few days ago I saw in the press a statement that there was no unemployment in that State resulting from a shortage of coal, but whether or not the statement was correct I do not know.
– It is not. correct.
– The Government is ‘doing everything possible to provide coal, not only for Victoria, but also for other parts of the Commonwealth where’ it is required.
– Has the Minister for Supply and Shipping seen a statement by Mr. A. G. Cameron, a director of Goodyear Tyre- and Rubber Company of the United States of America, in a recent address to the National Foreign Trade Council in New York, after a visit to Australia, in which he declared that this country had done a better job in controlling inflation than any other country in the world ?
– Order! The honorable senator is not in order in” reading newspaper extracts when asking a question. I ask him to state his question succinctly.
– Mr. Cameron also said that his company had never regretted the substantial investment it made when it established’ the Goodyear factory in Australia in 1927. In view of the fact that the honorable member for Warringah in the House of Representatives (Mr. Spender) is also a director -of that, company, will the Minister convey Mr. Cameron’s statement to him in order that the time of the House of Representatives might not be wasted by the honorable member for Warringah in attempts to show that the Government has not done a good job?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable senator has referred; but I appreciate Mr. Cameron’s reference to the effectiveness of the controls imposed by the Commonwealth Government. Honorable senators will ‘ agree that those controls have been effective when they reflect on the results which followed the lifting of price controls in the United States of America, a few days ago, and recall that the removal of controls there caused the cost, of living to rise by 2S£ per cent, compared with a rise of 24 per cent, in Australia during the whole period of the war.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral reconsider his decision to add to; and repair the old shack now in use at Currie, King Island, as a post office, and give consideration to the construction of a new building?
– The decision referred to by Senator Aylett was reached in the light of the enormous volume of work that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, has before it.
This Government inherited enormous arrears of work that had accumulated’ during the depression years due to the inaction of the Government then in office, and also during the war. It is the policy of the department to bring its post offices up to date, and the most urgent work will be carried out first. I assure the honorable senator that I shall be pleased to reconsider the decision, and also to consider the demolition and reconstruction of quite a number of other post offices in the country districts of Tasmania and the mainland.
– Ha3 the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce .and Agriculture been drawn to a Canberra report published in the June issue of the Australian Trade Chronicle that the Government is shipping to Scandinavia 1,000,000 bushels of barley, declared to be in excess of Australia’s heeds? If this report be correct, and having regard to the excess stocks of other coarse grains such as oats, will the Minister advise me when the export embargo on oats will be lifted, as quantities of oats now frozen at ports are missing a profitable market overseas?
-I have no knowledge of the report to which the honorable senator has referred, but I shall place his representations before the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and endeavour to obtain the information sought.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether the Government proposes to reduce the coupon rating on cotton goods for persons resident north of the 26th parallel in “Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland? If this be not practicable, will the Minister give consideration to issuing additional coupons to residents of these’ areas for the purchase of cotton goods, as climatic conditions militate against the use of silk or woollen articles?
– A special allowance of coupons was. made to residents north pf the 26th parallel, mainly for the purchase of cotton goods. I have not had any representations from the people concerned for any special concession.
Fining of Union Employee
– I preface a question which I desire to ask the Leader of the Senate by reading a press report which states that an employee in thebuilding trade in Victoria has been fined £25 by his union for having. given . evidence in the Arbitration Court-
– The honorable senator is not in order in reading from a press report.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate if it is a fact that an employee in the building trade in Victoria has been fined £25 by his union for giving evidence in the Arbitration Court in the 40-hour week case, because the union bosses expressed the view that such evidence was favorable to the employers’ case ? If that statement be correct, what action does the Government propose to take in order to prevent union bosses’ from using such intimidatory tactics to prevent witnesses from presenting their just opinions to the court?
– I have not seen the statement to which the honorable member refers. I do not know the circumstances of the case he mentions and, therefore, I am not able to express an opinion upon it.
– About a fortnight ago I asked the Minister for Trade and Customs a question relating to licences to import refrigerators. The Minister was good enough to reply that four licences had been issued, two of which had been cancelled. The ambiguity of. the answer, which I- believe was unintentional, gave rise to the belief that licences were issued for only four units. 1 now ask the Minister what number of units were covered by those licences? If he. is not able to say the number of units, can he give the value of the units involved ?
– I am sorry that 1 did not give to the honorable senator the information he desired. Two licences were issued in respect of 10,000 sealed units At present, other licences are under examination.
Deduction of Opticians’ CHARGES
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer state whether he will give consideration to requests that have been made that expenses incurred by taxpayers in respect of treatment by opticians he allowed as a deduction for income tax purposes?
-I shall -bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Treasurer.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether the Government has instructed its. representative at the hearing of the. 40-hour week case in the Arbitration Court to support the claim for a reduction of hours? If so, in view of the man-power shortage and the demand for consumer goods, will the Government review its attitude and advocate longer hours,- increased production and the provision of incentive pay in industry ?
– Counsel representing the Commonwealth in the 40-hour week case now being heard by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court has already announced that he appears in order to assist the court by supplying’ all statistical and other data which the Commonwealth by its particular advantage has at its disposal. He has also announced that he appears in’ order to assist the court to obtain any information which the court itself desires. The Government has a clear realization that there are many aspects of our economy involved in this application. It has shown its appreciation of that fact by intervening in the case, and by turning what was an application by the Printing Industry Employees Union into one of general application on the subject of a 40-hour week. As the second part of the honorable member’s question was subject to a condition, there is no need for me to deal with it.
. TOMATIN. .. :.
– J understand that the Minister for Health has now available a reply to a question which I asked on a previous occasion regarding the possibility of producing tomatin in Australia.
– Since the development of penicillin, and the recognition of its value’ in the treatment of certain diseases, a new field of investigation has been opened. Penicillin is the product of a mould and, since the scientific world grasped the possibility of the value of new drugs from moulds, every . possible mould has been investigated. More promising fields have been opened and scientific workers throughout the world are pursuing them as far as possible. My officers at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have kept fully up to date on every development, along these lines and, in their opinion, no drugs have yet been developed which can replace penicillin and streptomycin. Tomatin is one of those products, concerning which there is no information in the scientific journals in Australia and probably it will be some time, before its value is-proved. The large manufacturing firms which are carrying out investigations into these products, are not willing to share their secrets with other firms, consequently the detailed processes of manufacture of this class of product are not available to anyone except themselves. Every opportunity will be taken by my officers to investigate any reports regarding this and similar drugs.
Cable and Wireless Limited
– Will the PostmasterGeneral say what will be the position of members of the staff of Cable and Wireless Limited under the proposed telecommunications legislation, as regards compensation, if they are not engaged by the commission?
– This matter is under consideration and will be referred to a committee which will submit recommendations to. the commission.
– I lay on the table the following paper: -
United Nations - Food and Agriculture Organization - Report by Australian Delegation of Conference held at Quebec. Canada. October-November 1045.
– I have received from Senator Sampson an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a’ definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The failure of the Chifley Government to adequately handle the re-habilitation needs of returned servicemen, particularly in ‘the matter of the provision of training, homes, jobs and land settlement.
– I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, nt 9 a.m._
– Is the motion supported ?
Four honorable senators having risen in support of the motion,
– The Senate has evinced a tremendous thirst for knowledge and information to-day. With the short time at my disposal, I want to deal with various matters related to the reestablishment and employment of ex-servicemen. I have no diffidence in doing so, because, for a considerable time, I have been receiving masses of correspondence, and have been in touch with demobilized servicemen, on the subject of reestablishment. I shall suggest to the Government ways in which the machinery which has been established under the Department of Post-war Reconstruction can be improved, oiled, and made to work more smoothly and efficiently in the interests of ex-servicemen. Last year this Parliament passed the Re-establishment and Employment Bill, which was debated at great length and carefully scrutinized by honorable senators. The Opposition submitted numerous proposed amendments, but no notice was taken of them by the Minister in charge of the bill, whose attitude was that the Government desired the measure to be passed as drafted and would not accept any amendments proposed by the Opposition..
The demobilization of service personnel has proceeded smoothly, and the Government is deserving of credit in that it had the wisdom to place in charge of that work a distinguished citizen soldier who was also an efficient business- man. I refer to Lieutenant-General Savige. The chairmanship of the Repatriation Commission was given to another distinguished citizen soldier. I wish I could congratulate the Government upon the activities of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. Practically the whole of the, work of reconstruction, reestablishment and employment comes under the purview of that department. Its qualifications for sympathetic and knowledgable treatment of ex-service personnel depend on having men in charge of those activities who are acquainted with the problems of ex-servicemen. I have certain qualms about the matter. Hansard shows that, last year, in reply to a question about the staff of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, it was stated that officers in receipt of salaries exceeding £500 per annum numbered 169, of whom only 47 were ex-servicemen. It would have been a good idea if able and distinguished soldiers who were being demobilized had been seconded to, or employed by, that department. Therefore, I have some doubt as to the treatment some exservicemen may receive from this department-
Vocational training is one of the most important matters, apart from housing, which affect ex-service personnel. Enrolment for this training is restricted to men who were 21 years or less at the time of enlistment, or the ex-servicemen must have commenced training before enlistment. In this chamber the Opposition proposed that the age limit should be increased from 21 years to 30 years, and I regret that its proposal was not accepted by the Government. Servicemen who are eligible for vocational and professional training are drawn from several classes. There are those who enlisted on or before their 21st birthday, and those who. through .war-caused incapacity, are unable to return to- their pre-war occupation.
There are those who require a short refresher course, or desire to complete the full-time course which was interrupted by the war, or who contemplated such a course before enlistment. Then there are others who displayed conspicuous mental ability during their service, and those who had been either self-employed before enlistment, and are unable- to resume their former activities, or who are adequately supplied with’ vocational skill. That applies to many men who, while in the services, became skilful in some trade or calling. Not all servicemen who applied for this training are necessarily accepted by the departmental experts. We get confusing statements from the Minister about the numbers accepted for training. We take it for granted that they are actually undergoing training, but many who have been accepted have not yet commenced their studies, and cannot -find out when they are likely to commence it. Representations have been made to the training branch of the department in Melbourne that successful applicants should be told approximately when they are likely to commence, but the Deputy Director has replied that it is not easy to determine the approximate date, as that depends on factors which may vary from time to time. It is unfortunate that severe restrictions are imposed on the selection of approved applicants. These are attributable in the main to the shortage of skilled teachers and text books. The supply of text books raises an acute problem, but it could be solved. Some government departments publish elaborate pamphlets on paper of good quality, yet the Department of Post-war Reconstruction states that it cannot supply the printed matter required. I believe that where there’s a will there’s a way. The trade unions will not agree to the admission of trainees* to industries which are still employing dilutees or unskilled workers. The first requirement is the appointment of more teachers, and these should be paid well. Secondly, there should be a revised understanding with the trade unions.
Now I turn to university training for the professions. The students’ living allowance is limited to three years, and subsequently the allowance becomes a loan. It is very misleading to call this full-time professional training, when the course may occupy from four to six years, and the living allowance operates for only three years. Apparently, after three years’ training, the students must live on air or go into debt.
– They received no living allowance after World War I.
– I am not concerned at present with that war. The next war is the one about which we should be concerned. The facilities for training more workers for the building. trades are quite inadequate. It was stated on the 23rd February last that the training scheme of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction would contribute only 600 artisans this year to the building industry in New South Wales. Our peace-time problem is the man-power shortage rather than unemployment. There should not be an unemployment problem in this country for many years. There is a crying need for skilled workers, and- it is imperative that, full-time professional training and full-time industrial and rural trainingshould be speeded up and augmented. I noticed in a pamphlet issued by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), on the 1st July, that the unemployment allowance is now being paid to 4,753 ex-servicemen. That shows that there is some unemployment among the demobilized men, but there, should not be- any. Mr. Bolton, the ex-servicemen’s representative on the New South Wales Regional Training Committee, has revealed that, up to the 14th February last, the number of applications for trade training in New’ South Wales was 12,371. Of these, 2,325 were for full-time training, 5,118 for part-time training, and 4,92S were for correspondence courses, but only 653 ex-servicemen had commenced full-time training. There is a big lag in New South Wales. This is a serious problem which should be tackled immediately. On the 22nd February last 1,057 Victorian ex-servicemen had been selected for full-time university training, but only 638 had been accommodated. There were 2,848 Victorian applications foi- university training, and for full-time technical training there were 8,651 applicants.. Of that latter number, 3,272 have been selected for training, but only 759 had been accommodated. In the plans of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction I was pleased to see something for which we on this side have asked for many months. - Dealing with demobilization and employment the Minister said -
But it should be remembered that while the Government can make employment plans their success depends mostly upon employers. And for this reason, I ask all employers to play their part in both the immediate need - reemployment of ex-service men and women and in the ultimate achievement of full employment. In this way they follow in the footsteps of the men who fought and, the women who worked to win the war. They earn their right to the peace.
– Does the honorable senator agree with that?
– I do. It is high time that the harassing treatment of employers ceased. They should be allowed to get on with the job instead of being hindered by regulations and dictated to by bureaucrats who do not know anything about the industries with which they deal. Last year the Parliament decided to repeal a number of existing legislative provisions contrary fo the desires of honorable members on this side of the chamber. For instance, section 117 of the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act was repealed. Some honorable senators may remember the circumstances in which that provision was included in the” statute. ‘Attention was also given to the Commonwealth Public. Service Act, .particularly section 83,” which dealt with the temporary employment of returned soldiers and section S4 which dealt with their permanent appointment to the Commonwealth Public Service. Both those sections were repealed. We on this side pointed out at the time that the provisions inserted in their place were a sham and a mockery. Subsequent events have proved that we were right. When the Parliament decided to repeal section Si- 9 c of the Commonwealth Public Service Act it wiped out something which meant a great deal to ex-servicemen. I know of the many fights that took place during the years, and of the miserable way in which government departments, particularly the Postmaster-General’s Department, has treated returned servicemen. That department made a habit of putting off returned soldiers who had served a week, or a fortnight, or perhaps a month less than two years continuously.
– What Government was in power when that was done?
– That action was taken by successive governments and successive Postmasters-General, but the position was particularly bad during the regime of the Scullin Government. I have in mind one particular instance. It concerns a soldier who was first employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department in 1932. ‘ During his employment he served as telegraph messenger, male telephonist, postman, postal assistant, grade 1, postal assistant, grade 2, and postmaster. He performed practically all mail-room and counter duties. In 1939 he applied for permanent employment, but was advised that as he was not a returned soldier his application could not be approved. Thereupon, he enlisted with the Australian Imperial Force, and served in the Middle East . and New Guinea. Altogether, he served for nearly five years, and at the time of his discharge he held the rank of sergeant. He is again a temporary employee of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. As a returned’ soldier, he again applied for permanent employment in 1945. It will be remembered that he was refused a permanent appointment in 1939 because he was not then a returned soldier. Now that he is a returned soldier, with a good record, he is told, in reply to his application -
With reference to your memorandum dated the 1st November, 1945, in which you made application for permanent appointment to this department, I have to inform you that your application was submitted to the Public Service Board, and I am now in receipt of advice to the effect that no provision exists for your permanent appointment, as your temporary employment combined with subsequent war service, does not constitute the necessary qualifications.
Honorable senators will agree that when section 84 9 c of the Commonwealth Public Service Act was repealed something of value to returned soldiers was taken from them. I have here an official statement dealing with temporary and permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service, which reads -
Prior to the proclamation of the Reestablishment and Employment Act, 1945, a “returned soldier” could acquire eligibility for appointment to the permanent staff of the Commonwealth Public Service after two years’ continuous satisfactory service in a temporary capacity, in accordance with .section 84 (9) (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. This section of the Act was, however, repealed by the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945, which requires that in considering the claims of applicants for employment the following factors must be taken into account : -
The length, locality and nature of war service of applicants;
The relative qualifications of applicants for the position sought; and
The procedure provided by law for engaging persons for employment. These new legislative provisions became operative on 27th August, 1945, and the existing law does not therefore permit the application of the repealed section 84 (9) (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. The Commonwealth Public Service Board hap recently indicated that under the revised legislation it is obliged, when recruiting permanent staff, to hold tests to determine the relative qualifications of candidates desiring appointment and to accord preference in employment as required by the Re-establishment and Employment Act 1945.
It will be seen that that is a “ washout “ so far as ex-servicemen are concerned.
I shall now deal with houses for exservice men and women-. Already many thousands of ex-servicemen have returnedto their former occupations, but there are still many of them who are noi so fortunate. The main objectives of a returned serviceman are training, a job in the real sense of the term, and a home. The Commonwealth has power to legislate for the housing of ex-servicemen. Indeed, it has done so; the War Service Homes Act was passed in 1918 for that purpose. The present Government, however, prefers to pass to the States the responsibility for housing discharged servicemen. By an agreement with the States a target of 24,000 homes to be constructed by. State housing authorities and private enterprise in equal proportions, was fixed for the financial year 1945-46. In May, 1946, the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) said that he expected that that number of houses would be built, but he then qualified ‘ his statement by referring to houses either completed or in ‘course of construction. On the 31st March, 194.6, the Minister disclosed that 6,300 houses had been completed by private enterprise, and 2,650 by government housing authorities. The War Service Homes Act has worked well during the years. The chief point in its favour is that ex-service personnel believe that their interests will bemore sympathetically considered by a body, the whole of whose staff consists of ex-servicemen, than by any other authority. I want to know whether or not the Government has a policy in regard to war service homes. A vigorouspolicy is needed. If it. has no policy, it should no longer attempt to mislead exservice men and women by telling them, that they can get homes from the commission. I. shall give the figures relatingto Tasmania in order to show how unsatisfactory is the position, in regard towar service homes. From the 1st July,. 1944, to .the 30th March, 1946, applications for 606 war service homes werelodged in Tasmania. Honorable senators may be astonished to learn that of that number only 45 were approved, and’ that only twelve houses have actually been provided for applicants. Twohouses were built, six existing homes were purchased, and mortgages were discharged in respect of four other homesThe work of the commission in Tasmania; is practically in a state of stagnation. It is time that the rosy promises made to the men who fought were honoured. If the Government does not intend tohonour them, it should be honest, and say so. Recently, the War Service Homes Act was amended to enable theadvance to be increased from £950 to- £1,250 in respect of a war service home, but even for that greater sum the ex-serviceman will not get a better home than he previously could have obtained for £950. I ask the Government to adopt a vigorous policy’ in regard .towar service homes. It has a commissionwith a capable staff, but very little is being done.
The Government is also deserving of criticism for its delay in introducinglegislation to settle ex-servicemen on the land.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I had expected to hear some constructive comments from Senator Sampson, but in the course of his speech he referred to only “ one specific case of failure to accord preference to. .a .returned soldier. “ Senator McLeay.; - Senator Sampson dealt with the position in Tasmania with regard to war service homes.
– In regard to that matter, as in connexion with the technical and university training of exservicemen, the honorable senator misquoted the facts. The total number of exservicemen enrolled for full-time and part-time technical training is 111,590, and the number now in training full-time and part-time is 89,000. So, Senator Sampson is far astray in some of his figures. I come now to housing. During the war, obviously the Government could not build homes and at the same time produce munitions and enlist many thousands of men for service in the Navy, Army and Air Force. Therefore, the home-building programme had to await the end of the war; but even before then the Government had drawn up its plan for overtaking the lag. in home construction.
– That is all it has done - made plans. ~ Senator AYLETT. - No. Its plans have been implemented, much to the regret of honorable senators opposite. The Government considered that if it could build 24)000 homes in the first year after the cessation of hostilities, it would be doing welt “, Oh.- the :31st March last, of that 24;000 prospective homes, 9,000 had been completed and 10;500 were in course of construction, making a total of 19,500 with three months of the year still to run. The figures’ given by Senator Sampson in this regard were not correct, and his attack nas no foundation- whatever. I point out also, that 60 per cent, of the homes already completed have been allocated to ex-servicemen. What is the record of governments that’ Senator Sampson supported in this chamber from 1924 to 19371 In the years when tens of thousands of men, many of them returned soldiers of the last war, were out of employment, and thousands lacked adequate shelter, the honorable senator sat dumbly in his place in this chamber without raising one word of protest. During the depression many returned soldiers . were forced off their farms, but the honorable senator did not object to that either ; yet he poses - to-day as the champion of exservicemen and alleges that this Government is not- doing anything to rehabilitate them. He claims that 4,000 exservicemen are unemployed to-day. When one -considers that 480,000 members of the armed forces have been “demobilized since the cessation of hostilities, and that jobs have been provided for a large majority of them, this number is of little significance. It may be that there are 4,000 ex-servicemen unemployed to-day, but next week the number may be only 2,000, or if another 10,000 men are released . from the services quickly, it may be 8,000. Ex-servicemen are paid an unemployment allowance until they are able to secure “ employment or are absorbed in university or technical training courses.’ Up to the middle of last week, in the very city in which Senator Sampson resides, only six ex-servicemen had not been placed in employment. I believe that the Government has .tackled this task manfully. I disagree with the honorable senator’s suggestion that the age limit for training should have been extended to 30 years. Had that been done, of the 700,000 men who were members of our fighting forces, probably 600,000 would have applied for technical or university training courses.
– The honorable senator is not a good mathematician.
– Possibly ; but Senator Sampson is far worse if his figures relating to technical training can be taken as an example. Obviously it is impossible to absorb immediately all men who apply for technical- training or university courses, ft is no use getting ‘ men to undertake courses when a term is half completed. They have to wait until new courses are ready to start.
– What do they do in the meantime ? _ Senator AYLETT.- Most of them find jobs. . If they cannot get employment, they receive,the unemployment allowance. Most ex-servicemen will do their best to help themselves. They are not of the type , to which the honorable senator referred. They are not content to sit idly by and draw the unemployment allowance until they are called up for training. I know many returned soldiers who are in permanent employment whilst awaiting their turn to undertake training. It would have been utterly impossible to make training facilities available to all ex-servicemen up to 30 years of age. That is not the responsibility of this Government. Most men who were more than 21 years of age at the time of enlistment had their opportunity to enter a trade or calling before joining the forces. Senator Sampson, who now appears so concerned about the provision of trained facilities for ex- servicemen had ample opportunity whilst he was a supporter of anti-Labour administrations in this chamber to urge upon them the advisability of undertaking vocational training schemes; but he did not do that.
Compare what is being done by the Government in regard to land settlement schemes with what was done after the last war. To-day, the pick, of the land in the various States has been acquired for soldier settlement.
– That is all nonsense.
– If it is all nonsense so far as Victoria - the State that the honorable senator represents in this chamber - is concerned, their it is a reflection upon him. I know that what I have said is true in respect of Tasmania and some other States. If the honorable senator has friends in Victoria who are trying to foist land upon the Government of Victoria for soldier settlement schemes, he is not faithfully discharging his duties to his electors if he does not protest against it.
– How* many exservicemen have been settled on the land” in .Tasmania?
– I am coming to that. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) is not a farmer, and does not realize that men cannot be.settled on the land until farms have been prepared for them. At present, land is being subdivided, houses and out-buildings erected, and f arms prepared so that immediately they are occupied by exservicemen production may commence.. A farm cannot be put into production in a few months.
– The war has been over nearly a year. Has the Government got any farms in production yet?
– Approximately 1,300 ex-servicemen are already settled on farms and engaged in production. Senator Sampson said that not one farm had been occupied.
– Where are the farms to which the honorable senator refers ?
– They are in all States of the Commonwealth, including Tasmania.
– How many are there in Tasmania?
– I have not the detailed figures. I am speaking on a national basis and not parochially. The 1,300 farmers to whom I have referred were given financial assistance. Many of them selected their own farms. . .
– That is not correct.
– If the honorable senator has information to the contrary, let him state it. The scheme is already in operation, and that is what counts. We believe in action, and not words.
– Can the honorable senator tell me of one farm that the Government has purchased in South Australia ?
– I am stating facts and not hearsay. I say definitely, and without qualification, that 1,300 exservicemen have been settled on farms with the assistance .of this Government.’ I am not referring to properties that the Government has acquired and is now putting into working order. . The farms were bought with government assistance. Had that not been done, the men now occupying them would be waiting for the Government to subdivide land, build homes, and get farms into working order.
– Did the 1,300 men have an interest in ‘their farms prior to enlistment?
– Whilst I cannot speak for all of them, I know that a great number of them had no interest in them. This Government itself is not carrying out the -land settlement schemes. The State Governments ai-e acting for the Commonwealth.
– Then how did the Commonwealth Government manage to put 1; 300 ex-servicemen on the land?
– In co-operation with the State governments. Senator Sampson has endeavoured to show that the Commonwealth Government has not made any progress in its rehabilitation schemes ; but I ask the Senate to compare w hat is being done to-day for exservice:men in the construction of homes, the provision of technical and university training for .men who, because of service in the armed forces, were unable to learn trades or embark upon professions, and in the development of land settlement schemes, with the conditions that existed after the war of 1914-18 and, in fact, during all the years that Senator Sampson was a supporter in this chamber of inactive anti-Labour administrations. To-day exservicemen are being established on firstquality land instead of barren useless larid, as was the case in some soldiersettlement projects after the war of 1914- 18. The honorable senator did not raise his voice in protest when soldier settlers were being turned off their farms during . the depression years ; yet now he poses as the champion of ex-servicemen.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- When the Re-establishment and Employment Bill was debated in this chamber last year, the Opposition moved several amendments with the object of improving the measure. Each of those amendments was rejected. Our only consolation was a hope that the act, which operated as from the 21st June, 1945, would be administered in the spirit as well, as the letter of the law. Time has shown that by and large that has not been done. The rehabilitation of ex-servicemen does not concern one particular Minister, but all Ministers. More often than not, their subordinates, individually and collectively, acting as executive authorities, make decisions without the Minister’s knowledge. However, the Minister remains responsible for such decisions. The Government, . therefore/ must answer adverse criticism when such is justified.
Next Tuesday, at the High Court sittings in Sydney, will be witnessed the unprecedented spectacle of the Commonwealth Government having to defend itself in an appeal by a -young ex-serviceman against a recent decision given by a lower court ‘in Melbourne. I should like to repeat what I said on this matter in this chamber on the 29th June, but I would not be in order in doing so. The court’s decision is being awaited with greatinterest all over Australia. Many exservicemen with initiative, speak with bitterness of the difficulties they encounter when they try to launch out and rehabilitate themselves. Civilians may be in need of plant, equipment and tools, but at least they have something. The ex-serviceman usually has nothing with which to start himself in a trade or business. Why does not the Government collect all the surplus war equipment suitable for rehabilitating ex-servicemen, in a number of control depots and sell them, as it were, over the counter, to these men ? If typewriters, duplicators, cars, trucks, accounting machines and the like must be put through the trade, the ex-serviceman should have absolute preference over the civil population to buy his requirements. At present, the reverse is the case.” The dealer retails the goods at high prices which the ex-serviceman has- to pay, and thus absorb his deferred pay and any savings he might have made during his period of service.
A few days ago I received a letter from an ex-serviceman who, on his return after five-and-a-half years service overseas, bought a mixed foodstuffs and confectionery business in Coburg. Wishing to develop this business, he, at the request of some business men in the area, decided to provide light luncheons. He accordingly applied to the Rationing Commission for a small quota of butter, tea and sugar. Although there are no such facilities in the neighbourhood, the commission refused the application. He appealed again, with the same result. There is a case of an ex-serviceman with initiative, seeking to rehabilitate himself. Instead of helping him, the Government, through the Rationing Commission, is putting obstacles in the way. Surely, special quotas of those commodities could be made available in such circumstances. The ex-serviceman who is. prepared to launch out on his own account instead of drawing unemployment allowance should he encouraged.
There is no more disillusioned body of men than the ex-servicemen who are anxious to obtain security of employment as technicians in the Postmaster-General’s Department. After, satisfying an interviewer, they, at the end of a month’s course, passed a written test and a practical technicians’ examination. With the foundational knowledge gained as members of signal and engineer units in the fighting forces, they have now entered upon a six months’ intensive course with the object of adapting that knowledge to departmental requirements, and becoming skilled tradesmen according to departmental standards. Imagine’ their consternation when they were informed that, irrespective of the standard reached, they would be classed as temporary technicians’ assistants until they had passed a most searching educational examination. I have seen the syllabus for that examination, which is to take place in all capital cities on the 9th November next. I have also seen the papers set for the 1945 examination. They are up to, and even beyond, the standard required for a Leaving Certificate. Young fellows with the educational qualifications for entrance to a university, no doubt, would pass the test, but it is too difficult for these ex-servicemen who, during four, five or six years’ active service had no opportunities to study. Their average age is about 25 years. Some have been in Japanese prison camps. No one desires to lower, the standard of education for entrance to - the Commonwealth Public Service ; but these ex-servicemen are in a different category to the ordinary young applicant, who was able to continue his studies. In view of the projected developments in the Postmaster-General’s Department, involving the expenditure of millions of pounds, the number of exservicemen seeking permanency will be only small compared with the number required in the future. But that is not the main point I stress. When the Re-establishment and Employment Bill was debated in this chamber, Ministers expressed the Government’s de- sire, as did all honorable senators, that every assistance should be given to exservicemen to rehabilitate themselves with some degree of stability. These men whose case I now place before the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, have a just grievance. They feel they have been let down. Here is an instance where the Minister can rise to the occasion. He should bring the matter before Cabinet with the object of exempting these men from the educational examination. In the trial test, they must have shown some standard of education, otherwise their written answers to technical questions would have been unsatisfactory. An exemption would satisfy them that the Government was sincere in affording preferment. So far, they have had none. They have attained the status of skilled technicians by their own efforts, by the technical knowledge which they gained in fighting for .this country’s freedom. It is a small matter to the Minister, but of great importance to these young men. If nothing is done in the direction I.have indicated, they will be temporary employees and liable to be removed from the pay-roll at any time. In view of their services overseas they are entitled to security of employment. The restoration of section 84-9 c of the Commonwealth Public. Service Act would meet their case.
On the 2nd April last, I asked the following question: -
Will the Prime Minister consider the question of restoration of section 84 (9) (c) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, which provided for the granting of permanent status to temporary returned soldier public servants who -‘had been favorably reported upon after two years’ efficient service.
The reply was as follows :-
The Government does not propose at present to restore this section of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. The order of preference for appointment given by former section 84 (9) (c) did not always operatefairly as between ex-servicemen. Men secured priority in permanent appointment merely by the fortuitous circumstances of having been available for temporary employment. Capable and highly efficient returned soldiers who had not sought temporary employment but wished to secure permanent appointment in the Commonwealth Public Service were debarred, because of the preference given to those who happened to have been available earlier for temporary engagement.
The answer. implies that no employee of any Commonwealth department should he granted promotion or permanency for fear of offending men outside the government service. It implies that an exserviceman employed by the Commonwealth Public Service must not ever think that he is part of the service, or that the service is as loyal to him as he is to the service. Is he to believe that the Commonwealth Public Service Board has no regard for its own employees, but is more solicitous for the welfare of men in industry? -That attitude is extraordinary. Where else are conditions of employment, or permanency, decided on the basis of what employees elsewhere might think or need. If the Government has a reason for not wanting to facilitate the permanent employment of ex-servicemen, it should frankly say so, instead of resorting to puerile excuses. The provision of a- stiff educational test to enable these potential technicians to become permanent is analogous to the imposition of a stiff foreign language test upon alien migrants whose presence in this country is not desired.
Senator ARNOLD (New South Wales) £5.11]. - I am very pleased that honorable senators opposite have’ taken this opportunity to bring before the Senate this matter which is of very great importance. As a supporter of the Government I am particularly pleased to find that the Opposition has so little ground on which to condemn the Government. I should have thought that in respect of a problem of such magnitude, honorable senators opposite would be able to level much criticism against the Administration. I am very proud to be a supporter of a government which has been able to do so much in sp limited a time, in the interests of ex-service personnel. This problem is of fundamental importance. That being so it is appropriate to review what has been done in respect of it during the last few years and thus place in their proper perspective the achievements of the Government. When war broke out a government supported by honorable senators opposite was in office. It cannot be denied that at that time considerable unemployment existed throughout the country. In the coal-fields districts there were many young men who before the war had not had a constant job after leaving school. In those days the housing position was difficult, but it was not so acute as it is to-day, because at that time people were not able to provide the rent whereas now they are in receipt of good wages. At that time sufficient employment did not exist to create a demand for houses such as is the case to-day. It was under such conditions that war was thrust upon us. TheGovernment of the day was soon removed from office, giving way to a Labour administration. The new Government was confronted with the problem, unprecedented in the history of Australia, of defending the nation against invasion. To that end it bent all its energies. Possibly the Government made mistakes. In the light of what we know today,it is probably true that it transferred’ too much man-power from industry to the services. It may be true that we denuded the farms of labour so that the nation could not produce as much food as it might have done. Probably we were over-cautious, and we may have called into the- armed services more menthan were needed. * Members of the Government are ready to admit that they made some mistakes. However, the problem was grave, and we were determined to survive as a nation first, and to fight out the peace afterwards.
– The unions are fighting it out now, with strikes and civil war.
– We are fighting it out by strikes and other means, but we are doing so in a peaceful atmosphere in which the’ Australian workman can exercise his freedom of action without any fear of suppression by force, a danger which threatened us a few years ago.
– He can do so as long as we’ have a spineless government that will not enforce the law.
– .The honorable senator may prefer a government of the kind that arose in Europe and other parts of the world a few years ago, and which we fought with all our energy to destroy. That is not the sort of government that I would support. The kind of government that will be supported by the Labour movement will, give the people the utmost freedom to lead their lives in their own way.
– Even freedom to break the law and strike.
– The honorable senator continues to harp on strikes. He considers them to have an important effect on his political destiny in the next few months.
– So do the discharged soldiers when they find that they cannot get galvanized iron for their homes.
– The people of Australia will not be influenced by any immediate consideration of that sort. In their wisdom, they will, reflect on what has happened during the past ten or fifteen years and compare the records of an ti -La bour governments, with the record “of this Government. After doing -so, I am confident that they will return the Labour party to power at the general elections with an overwhelming majority.
Faced with the dangers that threatened the nation in the dark days of the war, the Government called a great deal of our man-power into the armed services. In fact, at the end of the war there were 604,000 men in the services. Since the end of the war the Government has discharged 480,000 of those men into civil life. At the same time, it has closed down a great number of war factories. People who were employed in the manufacture of armaments and supplies needed by the fighting men have been taken from wartime factories and returned to” civil production. All of this has been done in the brief period of eleven months. That has been no mean feat. In a nation of 7,000,000 people, to disturb 1,000,000 people and transfer them from war-time services and the armed forces into civil employment is not an easy task. Even if the Government ‘had had some years in which to plan the change-over, it could not have been achieved without some dislocation. Yet honorable senators opposite complain because, of the 480,000 men discharged from the services, nearly 4,000 are receiving unemployment benefits. I say that it is a remarkable achievement to have provided employment for the remainder.
– Those figures include members of the women’s services dc they not?
– What about the people still in the services who are not doing anything?
– The honorable senator could probably find all sorts of minor points on which he could score against the Government. I say that the holding of men in the services has merit. To transfer these people into civil life is not simply a matter of handing- them their discharge certificates and saying:: “ We have finished with you. Go back and find a job and we will try to help you out for the first few months, after which you will have to fend for yourselves “. That sort of thing may appeal to honorable senators opposite, but it is not the sort of plan that the Government has laid down. It has attempted to provide for the full employment of all of our people in the years ahead’. This calls for a considerable amount of planning and readjustment. It requires some of our people to throw aside established principles. It has been said that the trade union movement is resisting the return of servicemen into its ranks. I deny that. Ii is not true. The trade union movement has been most helpful in taking servicemen back into its ranks.
– Is that why a conference has been held on the matter?
– A. conference has been held, and more conferences will be held from time to time. Difficulties have to be ironed out.. We do not want any trade to be so diluted that in a year’s time 50 per cent, of the men engaged in it will be out of work. We do not want to have men rehabilitated into some industry that can employ them now but which, within a few years, will have no room for them. We want to rehabilitate them properly by taking them into industries in which they will have continuous employment, so that their livelihood will be secure in the future. Thus, when the trade union movement offers any resistance to the reestablishment of ex-servicemen in certain industries, that resistance is due to the fact that the unions do not want industries to take more men than they can absorb.
This Parliament has been fortunate in having the co-operation and assistance of the trade union movement throughout the war and in the post-war period. I hope that this help will continue to be given in future.
– It has been given by the “ employers’ union “, too.
– That is quite true. The employers have played their part. A considerable number of them have been most helpful ; but I regret to say that a considerable number have not been helpful.
– That applies io both sides.
– I am glad that the honorable senator realizes that, and, when there is resistance to the employers, I ‘ask; him to keep the fact in mind. Now I come to the problem of what can be done for the men being discharged from the armed services. Of the 480,000 men already discharged, over 200,000 have already gone back to their pre-war jobs. The Government is now training unskilled men who require such training. This reminds me of the period before the war when young men who had left school were standing idle at street corners, without any possibility of being taken into a- trade and without even the possibility of securing a job.
– Surely that is not true.
– It is true. The honorable senator ought to know that, but he probably leads a secluded life and does not see such things. Had he any knowledge of the’ northern coal-fields, a district about which I can speak With some authority, he would know that some men who went into the . services had never had a continuous job between the time when they left school and the outbreak of war.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Courtice). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- I propose to deal only with the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. I was astounded by some of the statements made -by Senator Aylett, who said that about 13,000 ex-servicemen had been settled on the land up to the present time.
– If the honorable senator does not know that his information is not up to date.
– The honorable senator is confusing this matter with the number of advances made by the Government under the loan scheme, which, I understand, has now been amended to permit the amount that may be advanced to exceed £1,000. These advances have been made mainly to men engaged in share-farming on small dairy farms, poultry farms and the like. They do not apply to men engaged in general farming. The fact is that not one ex-serviceman has been settled on the land as a general farmer. Estates have been purchased in Victoria, but nothing has been done beyond that. I do not blame the Land Settlement Commission for this. It was appointed only recently and has not had an opportunity to do anything more than inspect the estates. These properties have not been sub-divided yet, and nothing has been done towards settling men on them. The Government has entirely failed in its duty in this regard. Many young men who want to fallow land for next year have not been granted registration of .their farms or licences to grow wheat next year. All that they have been able to obtain are temporary licences to grow wheat this year. If they buy machinery and equipment for this year’s operations, the whole pf that expenditure may be thrown into the discard through the withholding of licences for next year. The least that the Government can do is to allow these men to know exactly where they stand. After World War I., extraordinary prices were paid for primary products. Butter was worth 2s. 6d. per lb., wool 2s. per lb., wheat, for six years after the war, was worth 10s. l£d. a bushel, and oats 6s. a bushel. Everything in the garden looked lovely, but a collapse occurred. Many of the returned soldier settlers were unsuited to the work, and most of them left their properties, except in Victoria, where the largest number remained on the land. The success of the land settlement scheme hinges on markets. What has this Government done to find markets for the exportable products that these men will produce? It has done nothing at all so far as I know. I have yet to find a Government supporter who will tell me what the Government has done to find overseas markets for primary products. The Rural Reconstruction Commissionhas estimated that 54,000 ex-servicemen will make applications for land. Add 54,000 mixed farmers to the number of mixed farmers already operating, and ruin will overtake all of them except those who are growing for export. Mixed farmers already on the land grow sufficient oats, hay, barley, and potatoes for our local requirements. They could grow even larger quantities, but they are not permitted to do so under the Government’s licensing system.
– Should we not settle ex-servicemen on the land?
– Yes, but the proper way to carry out a scheme of settlement is to place men ‘ on 1,000-sheep properties. There is an. existing marketfor mutton and wool. A 1,000-sheep property is a one-man job. With 1,000 sheep a man should be able to secure a gross annual return of £1,000; with a little careful management, he might even increase it to £1,200 or £1,400. That is the sort of scheme which the Government ought to introduce. I know of properties adjacent to my own which have been rejected by the Government and its advisers as being unsuitable for the settlement of ex-servicemen. Almost any land is suitable for settlement, provided that each settler is given an area capable of carrying 1,000 sheep, . The area might he 5,000 acres, or only 600 acres, depending on the quality of the land.
Senator 0’FLAHERTY. There might be a question of prices, too.
– But the land may be acquired at a higher price than that at which it is to be given to the exserviceman, and the Government will have to make up the difference.
There will be ah outlet for dairy products in Australia for many years. We export practically all of our butter to Great Britain, which could take up to 100,’000 tons a year. The prices of land and of dairy stock are high, and great care will have to be exercised in purchasing them. No man should be placed on a dairy farm with fewer than 40 cows, otherwise he could not possibly make a success of the venture.
– Many farmers have started with fewer cows than that.
– Yes, but in different times from those now experienced, and prices were different, too. Many of the 54,000 ex-servicemen who are expected to. apply for land are sons of farmers and are not eligible for assistance because they were not engaged in farming before enlistment. I know men whose fathers have, purchased land for them and have made application for its registration for wheat growing, but registration has been refused. The ex-servicemen have been told that they may grow wheat on share farms. A licence can be obtained for one year only, but a person cannot grow wheat without a licence, nor grow it on land that is not registered. That is all wrong. If Australia had a population of about 20,000,000, mixed farming would he profitable, and more oats, barley and potatoes could be grown, but there is no outlet for the export of those commodities at present, as the Government has placed an embargo on it. It has fixed the price of oats at 3s. a bushel, although there is a market abroad for them at a little over 6s. ‘ a bushel f.o.b.
– As near to Australia as South Africa.
– Yes. Oats are being stored and will have to be exported when- prices will probably be much lower than at’ present. That is next door to robbery. Although wheat brought 10s. lid. a bushel for six years after World War I., and present sales of wheat average over 10s. a bushel, the farmer is to be guaranteed only 5s. 2d. a bushel at ports, which is 4s. 2d. a bushel at sidings.
– What would the farmer get if wheat were bringing only 3i. a bushel at .the farm?
– In many districts that price would be profitable, but in others it would be far from profitable. If the farmer enjoyed a free market for the next six years, he would get an average of 10s. a bushel for his wheat.
L hope that the Government will take action to have applicants for land placed on suitable properties without further delay. At the present’ rate of progress twenty years will elapse before they are settled on farms. They should be placed on the land now, while they are young and energetic. If we settled a man on 150 acres of land priced at £20 an acre, by the time provision had been made for a house, sheds, fencing, a tractor, a motor truck and other farm requisites, a further £20 an acre would be added to the cost of the land, and immediately the property would be over-capitalized. The proper thing to do is to place ex-service- men on 1.000-sheen propositions, or on dairy farms with not fewer than 40 cows.
– Should no more wheat be grown?”
– If the Government proposes to prevent farmers from growing wheat, other avenues of employment will have to be made available to them. The present Government, in conjunction with the governments of the States, has a heavy burden resting on its shoulders, in respect of the settlement of ex-servicemen on the land. The legislation that has been enacted with regard to the. scheme has been long, delayed, and this has .prevented the governments of the .States from sub-dividing suitable properties’ and getting them ready for settlement.
– There will not be ten years of prosperity for wheatgrowers.
– I visualize six years’ of prosperity for them, if prices similar to those experienced recently are. maintained for that period.
Senator TAINEY (“Western Australia) [5.391. - When Senator Sampson submitted this motion, I expected to hear constructive criticism in respect of each of the three matters raised, but I regret that, so far as the Opposition is concerned, the debate has produced only a reiteration of arguments advanced in thi* chamber a fortnight ago. The Opposition has not substantiated the case which it has sought to present. The Government’s housing proposals have come in for a great deal of criticism. One point that has been overlooked by every honorable senator who has spoken this afternoon is the fact that during the six years of war the whole housing programme of Australia was practically’ at a stand-still because of the exigencies of war. In Western Australia, prior to the war, about 2,000 houses were being built annually, and after six years of war there was a definite lag of about 12,000 houses, apart from the increased demand for homes because of the increase of the marriage rate during the war years.
At the outbreak of war, the Government had to choose- between the usual activities of peace and the diversion of the resources of the country to a total War effort. Timber was urgently required for huts in New Guinea, and for military hospitals and other similar buildings on the mainland, and it could not be spared to the extent desirable for homes for. civilians. As we had to fight a war for survival, it became necessary to divert man-power and materials to that purpose. Recently, in various outposts in Western Australia I have seen “ some of the work that had to’ be done in the. transport of timber and in the construction of hospitals and aerodromes. The extent of the work accomplished by the Civil Constructional Corps has- to be seen to be appreciated. I recently visited the Truscott aerodrome, which is one of the largest in Australia. The last Japanese plane shot down over ^Australian territory met its fate there. Every particle of material required in the construction of that aerodrome had to be transported thousands of miles. None of it could be produced within 2,000 miles of the spot where it was required. In Western Australia the number of people now employed in the building industry approximates the total number engaged in it in pre-war times. Last Wednesday, the Premier of Western Australia announced the appointment of a commission to inquire whether building activities could be speeded up. He said that at present as many artisans are being used in the building trade in that State as before the war, but there is a
Jack of seasoned timber. I have seen logs being taken from the forests, and I know the length of time that must elapse before the timber can be used in the construction of homes. There is also a lack of other building materials.
– To what degree have strikes retarded progress in the twelve months of peace?
– I admit that industry has received set-backs because of strikes, but industrial stoppages are not confined to this country or this period. Strikes have occurred ever since the right of the workers to organize for the purpose of improving their industrial conditions has been admitted by democratic governments. I do not condone illegal strikes, or unwarranted stoppages in industry, but. since the cessation of hostilities the Government has done its utmost to get the construction of houses under way, and it has achieved considerable success in that direction. In Western Australia, the target set for home construction has practically been reached. For the quarter just ended the number of houses built exceeded the original quota, and that has been due in great measure to co-operation between private builders and the Workers Homes Board, which controls both private and government building. That progress is due partly to the fact that the agreement reached between the Commonwealth and the State Governments with regard to house construction has resulted in increased building activity in the last eighteen months. I deplore the present high cost of houses. Something must be done to bring them down so that the average worker can afford to purchase a home. The Government’s plan to subsidize workers in respect of rentals is a good one. Honorable senators who have seen in the newspapers descriptions of pre-fabricated steel houses which it has been suggested should be imported from the United Kingdom, must realize that they will not appeal to Australians. They have not been designed for Australian conditions. For instance, they lack the verandahs which houses in this country should have. Moreover, Australian housewives are not accustomed to having the laundry in the kitchen, or sinks in the places shown in the designs. Obviously, such houses were planned by men. The planning of houses is a matter in which the voices of women should be heard. The housewife spends most of her life in her home, and knows more what is required than any man can possibly know. ‘ It is woman’s function .to make a home out of a house. No building is a true home unless the needs of the housewife are given careful attention.
The Government has been criticized for its re-establishment and employment scheme. I have visited a number of training schools throughout the Commonwealth where I have seen ex-servicemen doing work for which they had no prewar training. At the present time, 111,590 men from the forces are receiving training. I think that even Senator Sampson will admit that that is a fine achievement in the comparatively short period that has elapsed since the war ended. The transition from war to peace is even more difficult than the change from peace to war, because some of the motives which govern people’s actions in war-time are lacking in time of peace.
I do not know whether Senator Sampson is aware of the figures, in relation to rural training and rural loans and, therefore, I point out. that £1,269,244 has already been made available by way of loans to 1,754 ex-members of the forces. Surely that expenditure is evidence that the Government is alive to the necessity to do more than make promises to the men who fought. I hope that the mistakes which were made after the war of 1914-18 in regard to the settlement of ex-servicemen on’ the land will not be repeated. In Western Australia numbers of soldiers who fought, in that war were placed oh blocks the leases of which had a tenure of 99 years, but in many instances the quality of the land was such that even the most scientific treatment failed to produce satisfactory results. Many soldier settlers had to leave their holdings because the land was not suitable for the class of production in which they were engaged. There were many disillusioned men and women among those who had holdings in group settlements in Western Australia. Recently, I talked to a number of wives of soldier settlers in the Busselton district of that State. Their one theme was that on this occasion the Government should avoid putting their sons on land on which there was no chance of making a living. I hope that the lessons of the past will be heeded not only in respect of the land selected for settlement but also in respect of the training of men for rural pursuits. Care must be taken also to ensure that markets will be available for their products. In Western Australia large areas of land, eminently suitable for soldier settlement, are portions of “ big estates. I do not mind how much land a family owns so long as it is being fully developed, but when large tracts of country remain in the possession of a few families who do not use the land to its full capacity, and in some cases hardly at all, it is not right to leave such land idle, particularly if it is in a good rainfall district, is well served with roads, railways or other transport facilities, and possesses other natural advantages, and force new settlers into less favorable districts where it is difficult or impossible for them to make a living. A wrong policy -at this juncture may drive settlers off their holdings within a few years. I hope that the Government will keep in mind that vast areas of land suitable for settlement by ex-servicemen are available in the south-western portion of Western Australia. Much of it is eminently suitable for growing apple3 and pears. In many districts ten acres of land is sufficient to provide a good living for a man and his family. While such suitable land is available for settlement there is no need to take the risk of settling ex-servicemen in marginal areas. Some of the unused big estates will have to be subdivided. I do not say that they should be acquired compulsorily, without paying reasonable compensation to their owners; no one wants to steal their land from them. However, land which is not used to the best advantage should be given to people who will put it to good use. Australia needs a greatly increased population. Western Australia comprises one-third of the area of the Commonwealth, yet its total population is not greater than onethird of that of Melbourne or Sydney. Instead of carrying a population of only about 250,000 people, the” south-western district of Western Australia alone should have a population of 1,000,000.
The PEE ESIDENT. - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak to. this motion. Obviously, the shortage of homes in this country is one of the major problems in the rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, and I have no hesitation in saying that in this regard the Labour Government has fallen down on its job. As I proceed I shall endeavour to substantiate that charge. The shortage of homes is not confined to any one State ; it is acute in all States, and in Queensland the position is as bad as it is anywhere else. Thousands of people cannot obtain adequate shelter. Many are sharing rooms ; others are living with relations or with their families; some are living in tents, sub-standard homes and garages, and some even have to sleep in omnibus shelters and parks. Just before I left Brisbane recently my attention was drawn to the fact that a family of six, including four children under thirteen years of age, were living in a disused fowl house in a suburb of Brisbane. Housing conditions such as these must undermine the morale of the individual and create a dissatisfied and disunited feeling amongst the people of this country. In Brisbane, the position has become so desperate that one exservicemen’s organization has started to build homes for its members, and another has formed itself into a co-operative society for the same purpose. On the 12th October, 1941, the then Minister for Health (Mr. Holloway) agreed that there was a serious shortage of homes. The matter was again brought to the notice of the Government by the Social Security Committee in its interim report dated the 21st September, 1941. The committee recommended that the Government create a planning authority for home building so that plans could be ready for the construction of large numbers of dwellings, immediately the opportunity arose. In a special report presented on the 24th May, 1942, the committee further stressed the necessity to prepare plans to bring a home-construction scheme into operation immediately hostilities ceased, and suggested that key men in. the building and allied trades be released immediately from the services. J realize that the points system under which members of the services are discharged is fair; but, in my opinion, it was more important that men should be released for this highly important job of building homes whether they had the required number of points or not. However, approximately two years elapsed before the Government appointed the Commonwealth Housing Commission to investigate and make a full report upon housing conditions throughout Australia. The commission commenced its inquiries in April, 1943, and its final report was tabled on the 10th September, 1945. The report stated that at least 700,000 houses would be required within the ensuing ten years to solve Australia’s housing problem. Since that time the estimate has been, increased to 800,000, which means a target of 80,000 houses a year for the next ten years. At the time the Commonwealth Housing Commission’s report was made, the issuing of home building permits was controlled by the Department of Works and Housing. In November, 1945, after the commission’s report had been received, the Government handed over control of building permits to the States. That was a sound move, because the States are in closer contact with the people than is the Commonwealth Government, with its head-quarters in Canberra. By agreement with the States, the Commonwealth Government fixed the home-building target for the year ending the 30th June, 1946, at 24,000. These were to be erected by the housing authorities of the States, and by private enterprise on an equal basis. On the 31st March of this year, the Minister for Works and Housing (Mr. Lazzarini) stated that up to that date 6,300 houses had been completed by private enterprise and only 2,650 by the State housing authorities, making a total of 8,950. That meant that with three months of the year left, more than 15,000 houses had to be completed to reach the target. On the 2Sth May, the Minister stated that he expected the target to be reached. However, he qualified his statement by saying that he did not mean that “ 24,000 houses would be completed by that date, but that 24,000 houses would be either completed or in the course of construction, which is an entirely different matter. In the interests of homeless Australians, I hope that the target was reached; but I am sure that had that been .so we would have heard from the Minister long ere now. In the absence of any announcement by the Minister, I am inclined to doubt very much that .the target was reached. It can be seen therefore, that at the present rate of construction, or even if that rate be increased substantially, many years will elapse before the shortage of 800,000 houses has been overtaken. In Queensland, the target for. the year ended the 31st December,. 1945, was 1,855 houses; but,’ according to a statement made by the Minister for Works and Housing, at the end of the year the number of houses actually completed or under construction was only 496, which is far short of the target. A statement issued by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction in Brisbane, on the 28th February, 1946, disclosed that only 299 houses had been completed between April, 1944, and the end of December, 1945. So far I have been dealing only with houses built by the State housing authorities and by private enterprise. But. there is another instrumentality which builds homes for ex-service personnel. I refer to the War Service Homes Commission.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– It is becoming the practice of the Opposition in this chamber to launch a ‘weekly attack upon the Government.- That, perhaps, does not cause any great surprise, having regard to the political considerations.. The motion moved by Senator Sampson permits discussion of a wide range of subjects. I shall deal retrospectively with some of the “matters touched upon. The Opposition accepts every opportunity to attempt to discredit the Government, particularly with regard to the housing shortage and the rehabilitation of ex-service personnel. I shall deal .with these matters as fairly as I can. Let us recall the ‘conditions which confronted the Government when hostilities in the Pacific suddenly ceased. It was with great satisfaction and joy that the people of Australia and the peoples of all the United Nations heard of the termination of the war in the Pacific, but hostilities were not expected to conclude so soon. One of the huge tasks which confronted the Government at that time was the demobilization of members of the services. Senator Sampson^ in the course of his speech, acknowledged that the demobilization’ plan had worked very smoothly, and, in this respect, he paid a tribute to Lieutenant-General Savige for the magnificent job he had done. I remind the honorable senator that prior to Lieutenant-General Savige taking up his appointment of Director of Demobilization, the organizational work on which the demobilization plan had been based had been well advanced. While I acknowledge the magnificent part played by Lieutenant-General Savige, I believe that Senator Sampson could have been sufficiently generous to give due credit to the Government in this matter.
– What for?
– For the huge task it accomplished in the demobilization of service personnel. That work was carried out according to plan. Dispersal centres were established in each of the capital cities!. At each centre information of every description required by service personnel upon demobilization was made available to them. In addition, units of the Commonwealth Employment Service were established at. each dispersal centre. ‘ Complete and up-to-date bulletins were issued by the Commonwealth Employment Service staffs, and very often contact was made by telephone with prospective employers on behalf of personnel, and appointments arranged for them. Individuals who were not sure of the kind of work they desired to engage in were aided by vocational guidance services. Facilities were provided for these individuals to lodge applications for training in any calling. Those seeking homes, or wishing to settle on the land or go into business, were provided with all information which they required; and facilities were provided for the lodgment of applications at the?e centres in respect of all classes of rehabilitation assistance. Provision was made for the distribution of coupons in respect of tobacco, food and clothing, and facilities were even provided to enable ex-service personnel to enrol on their respective electoral rolls.
As- honorable senators opposite are aware the demobilization plan was implemented at a rate in excess of the original target which was considered to be very high. At the 30th June last 45,000 personnel in excess of the target had been demobilized. This success was achieved in spite of the difficulties arising from the severe shortage of shipping at that time. At the same time, provision in respect of food and equipment had to be made for forces still in the field and in military camps. I am sure that honorable senators opposite in their hearts believe that the Government has done an excellent job in the matter of demobilization. At the cessation of hostilities on the 15th August, -1945, the strength of the various services was as follows: - -Royal Australian Navy 39,621 ; Australian Military Forces 401,662; Royal Australian Air Force 163,301 making a total of 604,584. From that- date to the 6th July last the numbers demobilized . were : - Royal Australian Navy 23,675 ; Australian Military Forces 315,806; Royal Australian Air Force 136,153 making a total of 475,634. That is a wonderful achievement which reflects great credit upon not only the Government, but also the officers directly engaged in implementing the demobilization plan. At the same time, recruiting has been resumed in order to maintain interim and occupation forces. New enlistments up to the 6th July last were as follows: - Royal Australian Navy 3,606;- Australian Military Forces 9,624; totalling 13,230. The strength of the various services at the 6th July last was: Royal Australian Navy 19,552; Australian Military Forces 95,480;’ Royal Australian Air Force 27,148 or a total of 142,180. Of these personnel the following numbers will be demobilized by- the 30th December next or at any earlier date: - Royal Australian Navy 6,052; Australian Militay Forces 45,480; Royal Australian Air Force 7,148, or a total of 58,680. The strength of the interim force authorized, by cabinet is as follows: - Royal Australian Navy 13,500; Australian .Military Forces 50,000 ; Royal Australian Air Force 20,000 or a total of 83,500. Thus, far from being open to criticism the Government is deserving of the highest credit for the speed and smoothness which has characterized the carrying out of this most difficult task.
No other country has demobilized its service personnel so quickly or so completely absorbed ex-service personnel in civilian employment.
Great stress has been laid upon the present housing position. It is well to remember the difficulties which face the Government in this respect. The Commonwealth, under the Constitution, has power to provide only war service homes. Its housing programme has been carried out in a systematic manner and whilst the goals laid down may not have been reached, rapid progress is being made in that direction. Honorable senators opposite should remember the lack of labour, particularly skilled labour, which has resulted from the dislocation of industry during the war. Under war conditions all youths, upon reaching the age of eighteen years were drafted into the services. Consequently, the shortage of skilled man-power was not replenished, and there was no opportunity to provide for the training of men to keep up the flow of skilled tradesmen. The Government is. also confronted with a serious problem in respect of materials. During the war the resources and man-power of the country were directed towards the provision of buildings required for the manufacture of armaments and war materials. The war service homes scheme is distinct from the Commonwealth-State housing scheme. I do not propose to deal in detail with the. latter scheme except to point out that ex-service personnel are eligible to obtain homes up to a value of £1,250 compared with a previous limit of £950, whilst the rate of interest in respect of war service home loans has been reduced to 3f per cent. The Government has also decided to embrace within the war service homes scheme members of the mercantile marine, who played so prominent a part in our war effort. I ask honorable senators who are so critical of the Government’s housing programme to recall what happened after World War I. The government at that time undertook an ambitious scheme to build homes for ex-servicemen.
– And it built them, too.
– Some homes were built, but the Government did not appear in a very good light a3 a result of its handling of the scheme, which eventually had to be terminated. Two official inquiries were conducted into its operations, one by a parliamentary committee and one by a royal commission. The Government had rushed into the scheme without making a thorough investigation. The scandal associated with the building “ of those houses was mo§t discreditable. In the report of the parliamentary committee dated the 1st October, 1924-
– That is a long time ago.
– Yes, but the facts are on record. The report stated that the materials used in the houses were of poor quality. The timber appeared to be very inferior and was badly infested with borers. The paint could be rubbed off the verandah posts. The fences and outhouses were of the poorest description. The bricks used were of the most inferior quality. There was a housing scandal at Toowoomba. According to the committee’s report of the 8th December, 1921, strong exception was taken by returned soldiers’ organizations to the acquisition of an estate at Toowoomba on account of the high price of £5,000 charged for 10 acres. . It was contended by .these organizations that -the land was too expensive for war service homes and that the cost “ of preparing the land for settlement would be very great. It was also stated that’ the property was not adequately drained. The protest was made before the purchase had been completed, and it was asserted that areas of land just as conveniently situated could have been purchased at a lower cost. One alternative offer of land for £900 was refused. Not only did the Commonwealth Government lose £1,500,000 on the scheme up to- June, 1925, but also ex-soldiers were saddled with unnecessarily high land costs and other charges which should have been avoided. The committee also reported -
The attempt to compel a soldier to accept a house already erected by the commission, although unsuitable to him by reason of its price or situation, is to be deprecated. When.’ in addition to this, the soldier is informed that, if he does not take the” house offered to him, he will have to. go without, it appears that the intentions of the act are being deliberately and improperly put aside.
In its report dated the 26th July, 1922, the committee stated -
The outstanding fact of the present position is that for over a year the building and purchasing of homes for those eligible under the act has been almost at a standstill.
This was only about four years” after the end of World War I. Nevertheless the Opposition is now complaining, less than twelve months after the end of World War II., because the Government has not erected all the houses that the people require. The report which I have quoted further criticized the inaction of the” anti-Labour government by stating -
Of the men and women for whom the scheme was intended only a small percentage had up to the cessation of work obtained their homes. Disheartened and disgusted many of these have gone to other agencies for supplying homes. To the ‘ extent that this has taken place - and it is considerable - the Commonwealth is certainly relieved of the responsibility. …
This United Australia party committee - it can be so described although there were probably one or two members of the Australian Labour party in its membership - added - ‘
In view of the stated intentions of the Government and Parliament, the committee is of the opinion. that the financing of the scheme has fallen short of its requirements.
The position is vastly different to-day. Honorable senators opposite constantly criticize the Government’s housing programme although - their criticism is not limited to housing alone. They do this in spite of the fact that all the difficulties confronting the Government must be evident to them.
This afternoon Senator .Gibson referred to the purchase of land for the settlement of’ ex-servicemen. When Senator Gibson speaks in this chamber, he generally knows the subject he is talking about and his remarks are entitled to serious consideration. Personally, I attach great credit to anything that_he says and recognize his authority, particularly in relation to land matters. Senator Gibson’s complaint to-day seemed to be that the Government had not hurriedly placed a. large number of ex-servicemen on the land, as was done after World War I. Senator Tangney spoke of the fate of ex-servicemen who were settled on the land after World War I. Many thousands of them had to walk off their properties. The reason for this was that “the government in power at the time did not exercise the same degree of supervision over the scheme as is being exercised by this Government. Some delay is inevitable, because the Government has the responsibility of arranging the financing of the .scheme in conjunction with the States, and it is’ being careful to ensure that ex-servicemen will not be settled on marginal lands. After World War I., many thousands of returned soldiers invested all of their savings in poor land where there was no guaranteed rainfall.
– And the areas were too small.
– I agree. Evidence of these facts can be found throughout the Commonwealth, particularly in New South Wales. Senator Gibson was correct when he said that the settlement scheme had been more successful in Victoria than in any other part of the Commonwealth. That was due to the guaranteed rainfall in the areas settled in that State, and to the fact that the land was more suited to the purposes to which it was applied than the marginal areas in other parts of the Commonwealth which were sold to returned soldiers at fabulous prices. Supervision of the scheme to-day is much more strict than it was after World War I. The Government has benefited from the mistakes made in those days - and I do not blame those governments entirely for their mistakes - and. it has determined not to permit a repetition of costly errors. There was some delay in reaching agreement with the governments of the States ; in fact eighteen months elapsed before the final agreement was made. . However, the fact that greater supervision . will be exercised than’ previously reflects credit upon the Governments concerned. We intend to ensure that men will not be settled on marginal lands which, after years of labour, they’ will be forced to leave, with their wives and children, having lost all their money and without receiving compensation. That happened to many exservicemen after the 1914-18 war. -In two or three years’ time, when this Government’s scheme is properly in operation, ex-servicemen will be settled on good land in suitable areas. I agree with Senator Gibson that each settler should be provided with enough land to carry 1,000 sheep, or, in the case of dairy property, 40 cows. The prices of stock to-day are much higher than they were after World War I., and other costs also have increased considerably. These factors must be taken into consideration. A contentious matter which has been mentioned in this debate relates to the acquisition of single blocks of land. Ex-servicemen’s organizations have raised strong objections to men being permitted to purchase single blocks. They contend that every prospective settler should have a chance to secure these blocks. Being Australians, they are willing to gamble, and they consider that every block of land available should be disposed of by ballot. .The PRESIDENT.- The Minister’s time has expired. .
– The Leader of the Senate (Senator Ashley) has had half an hour in which to reply to the charges’ levelled against the Government by Senator Sampson, but he has spent part’ of that time in taking credit for what military officers have done in the demobilization of the armed forces. We know that half a million ex-service men and women have been discharged, but honorable senators on this side of the chamber have paid a tribute to Lieuten ant-General Savige with regard .to that work, and have made no complaint against the Government on that score. The Minister has run away from the real charges. He spoke of some mistakes made in certain areas where the government of the day built war service homes after World War I. I understand that the War Service Homes Commission has built 37,000 homes since that time. Honorable senators opposite have indulged in personalities, but have not replied to the charges laid.
– We are still waiting for them.
– In his usual personal way, Senator Aylett criticized Senator Sampson for being mute in this chamber. That is a totally unjustified reflection on an honorable senator who fought in the Boer War and in World War I., and who has two sons who took part in World War II. Senator Aylett should go to Tasmania and ask the people of that State whether they share his views with regard to Senator Sampson, who has not been afraid to express his opinions on defence matters.
Praise was lavished on the Government by Senator Tangney for what it had accomplished, but she carefully avoided the charges levelled against it. She remarked that the voice of the women should be heard, and that home building was too costly, but has her voice been raised against the Communists who have adopted a go-slow policy, imposed the darg system on the galvanized iron industry, and fomented strikes which have done much to retard home building? The people would like to hear Senator Tangney complain of the lack of action by the Government regarding those important matters. Senator Sampson said that the Government had not honoured its promises to ex-servicemen, and that in the staffing of the Department of Post-war Reconstruction only 47 officials out of 169 chosen for the work were ex-service men and women. The honorable senator also reminded us that the present Government had been instrumental in having the Commonwealth Public Service Act amended by deleting a vital provision which makes it almost impossible for exservicemen in temporary positions to obtain permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. Hp instanced the type of case in which a man could not get permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service before the recent war, if he was not an ‘exserviceman, and after five years’ war service he was still unable to obtain permanent status in the Commonwealth PublicService, because of the manner in which the act had been amended at the instance of the present Government. Ministers and supporters of the Government are not prepared to meet the charges levelled against them by the Opposition.
Although 500,000 men and women have been demobilized, and glowing promises have been made about homes, jobs and farms for all who need them, and preference in employment, it is staggering to .find that the Government is prepared to meander and muddle along. It does not appreciate the fact that unless the housing problem be- regarded as most urgent, and prompt steps be taken to do something out of the ordinary for the next five years, Australia will witness the greatest muddle and scandal in its history. I have not time at my disposal to outline completely the position that . obtains throughout Australia, but few homes have been built in the last six years. The wives of ex-servicemen and civilians cannot find accommodation in maternity hospitals. Ex-servicemen and their families cannot obtain homes of . their own, and they cannot secure accommodation in the homes of other people. Ministers should not lay the flattering unction to .their souls that they have done a great job for Australia. They cannot escape from the cold facts. How many homes will be required in the next five years.? What is the Government’s target, and how does it propose to reach it? If the Govern- , ment compares what it has done in the last twelve months with what it has promised to do, it should bow its head in shame. Many tons of newsprint and’ much man-power has been wasted by the Government in the production of literature containing the promises to exservicemen that homes and farms will be made available to them. I have before me a booklet issued on the 14th July, 1944, by the Department of Post-war Reconstruction. It states -
The Commonwealth Government is sponsoring a war housing programme with a target of ,at least 1215 low-cost permanent homes for each quarter in .1.944.
Low-cost homes! The cost of housing has gone up beyond recognition, because the Government cannot secure satisfactory results from the men engaged in the construction of homes. Another paragraph in the booklet reads-
Catch up the shortage! Fifty thousand homes is thu target set by the Commonwealth for the first post-war year. Of these the Commonwealth will sponsor 30,000 for lowincome earners, and 20,000 will be built by private enterprise …. By the end of the third post-war year the Commonwealth plans to increase its building target to 80,000 dwellings a year.
According to the latest information supplied by the officials associated with the Commonwealth housing plan, 40,000 houses a year is the most than can be provided although that was the target years ago. This is a time when special efforts must be made. The Department’s own figures suggest that the present deficiency is 350,000 homes, and it is expected that 40,000 will be required annually for five years. That brings the total to 550,000, or 110,000 a year for five years. If the target set cannot be reached, surely we can improve considerably on what has been accomplished up to -the present. It has been reported by officials of the Department that from the inception of the “Commonwealth housing scheme two years ago to the 30th June, 1946, 12,000 houses were under construction and 5,000 were completed, yet- the Government promised exservice.men 50,000 homes in the first year of the scheme. Those figures were prepared either by fools, or by officials who had no practical knowledge of the problem. If some of the time spent on propaganda on behalf of the Government were used in the practical work of preparing specifications and blueprints for house construction, and in speeding up the supply of essential materials, the position would be improved. As Senator Sampson remarked, the War Service Homes Department is looked to for a special effort with regard to the housing problem. I defy the Government to deny that all that was expended by the Government on Housing in 1944-45 was £93,000.. Assuming that the average cost of each house would bc £1,000, we find that provision was made for the construction of only 93 homes. In the Estimates for 1945-46, the expenditure authorized was £817,000. Yet the Government declares that it is dealing with this problem to the best of its ability. I contend that it has not answered the charge with regard to preference in employment to ex-servicemen, and is falling down on the job of providing houses for. them.
Literature . has been distributed throughout the Commonwealth at a cost of thousands of pounds concerning the Government’s scheme for settlement of ex-servicemen “on the land, but the Government Printer is weeks behind with his work, and cannot obtain labour to “print important documents required by “this Parliament. The Minister for Postwar Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) supplied, j answers in the House .of Representatives, this week to several questions submitted to him concerning the land settlement of ex-servicemen. The first question was “ How many applications under the war service land settlement scheme, have been received in each State to the 1st June, 1946?”, and the reply was. that the applications numbered ‘ 32,000,. of which 9,400 were approved and 1,300 rejected. The Minister stated that in Victoria the classification committee had commenced, interviewing applicants, but no final decisions had been given. The next question was “What is the total amount advanced to successful applicants in each State to the 1st June, 1946?”. The reply was -
Nil under. the land settlement scheme. However, nearly £1,000,000 has been advanced in rural loans under the Re-establishment and Employment Act.
The final question was - “ How many applicants, if any, are now actually on their blocks or holdings, “, and the answer ‘ given was “ Nil, under the land settlement scheme “.
The Opposition is justified in bringing . these matters to the attention of the Government. It is of no use to moan about the past. ‘ What are the Government’s housing plans for the next five years? What are its targets, and how does it propose to reach them ? It should get out of the present doldrums, and discard its policy of appeasement. It should declare a state of national emergency and should introduce three shifts a day. It should show enough courage to deal with the fanatics who are holding up industry. The Premier of . South Australia announced in Adelaide recently that roofing material for 1,000 homes is required in that State, but galvanized iron cannot be obtained. There is a shortage of raw materials, because the necessary shipping cannot be provided for their transport from the eastern States. Every day there is a shipping strike, a coal strike or a stoppage of work in a galvanized iron factory or some other industry. We have arbitration laws, but . the Government is so spineless that it will not enforce them. By its policy of appeasement, it will create a situation that will get worse from day to day and will soon become chaotic. The Government should take its courage in both hands and realize- that, if it will only do the right thing, the Opposition will stand behind it.
– I greatly regret that valuable time has been taken up to-day in debating matters which are of -value only as electioneering propaganda. The only criticism levelled against the Government has been in connexion with the reestablishment of ex-servicemen and the housing of the people.
– They are very important subjects.
– That is so. If what honorable senators opposite have said were true, the Government would deserve the most severe castigation, but those statements are not true, as I shall endeavour to show. No honorable senator has more regard for exservicemen than I have, and no one is more anxious than I am that they should be re-established in civilian life as quickly as possible. But I am more concerned that their re-establishment shall be effected in a way which will reflect credit on the country generally, and will in some measure recompense them for the sacrifices that they have made.
I shall deal with three aspects of the problem of re-establishment. First, there is the settlement of ex-members of the fighting forces on the land. In our consideration of this subject we must not forget that the war against Japan ended only in August, 1945 - less than a year ago. Since that time the Government has appointed a number of committees in each State to protect the interests of ex-servicemen. Honorable senators know of the tragic happenings in connexion with the settlement of soldiers on the land .after the war of 1914-18. In the light of the experience gained then, the Government is taking steps to ensure that on this occasion only men who are suited for rural pursuits _are placed on the land, and also that only suitable land shall be made available for soldier settlement. It is of little use to provide money for the settlement of ex-members of the fighting forces on desert land, where there is no hope of a successful living being made. It will be to the credit of the Government if it takes great care in these directions.
– The governing factor is the price of the land.
– I am concerned, not so much with the price of the land as with its quality, it must be land on which a man can earn a living.
The second aspect of the Government’s re-establishment policy to which I wish to refer is the technical training of exservicemen. In whatever form that training is given a complete organization has to be set up, if efficient and correct training is to be provided. The figures cited by Senator Sampson as to the number of men who have been accepted for instruction related to February, 1946 - only six months after the termination of hostilities. The honorable senator would have presented a fairer case to the listening public if he had brought his figures up to date, but it did not suit his purpose to do so. The fact is that men are being accepted for training as rapidly as teachers can be provided to train them. In the education of ex-servicemen sound training is essential, and that means that qualified teachers must be employed.
The third aspect of re-establishment with which I wish to deal is the preparation of ex-servicemen for employment in industry. Honorable senators opposite have said that 4,000 Australian ex-servicemen* are at present unemployed. Do they realize that until August, 1945, Australia was engaged in total -war ? That meant that the manpower of the country was organized solely for war purposes. A change over from a war-time economy to peace-time production in secondary industries cannot ‘be made by the waving of a fairy’s wand, but it is being made as rapidly as the captains of industry can make it. That only 4,000 exservicemen are unemployed speaks volumes for the way in which demobilized men have been absorbed in industry. It will not be long.before the motor vehicle industry of Australia will absorb large, numbers of workers. One has only to read in the newspapers of the industrial programme of such companies as General Motors.Holdens Limited and the Ruskin organization, and see their advertisements for men and women employees, to realize that before long they will be absorbing workers in great numbers. I ask honorable senators opposite who seek to make political capital out of the fact that a few thousand ex-servicemen are out of work to-day to compare present conditions with those which existed in 1938 and 1939,. when thousands of men who had never had a day’s work since they left school” were asked to defend their country. All that great army of unemployed workers, with the exception of about 4,000 men, if we accept the figures of Senator Sampson,, have been absorbed in industry. That is no mean achievement.
I come now to the subject of housing. From the utterances of honorable senators opposite to-day one would think that the whole of the blame for the present housing shortage in Australia could be laid at the door of- the present Government. Surely no honorable senator was sincere when he spoke in that way. The only explanation of such statement’s is that they were made for election purposes. What has been the cause of ‘‘the great shortage of homes in this country? We must not forget that ‘for four or five years Australia suffered a great depression. There was then an abundance of labour and materials, but the government of the day did not seize the opportunity to build homes for those who needed them. However, young people married and children were born, and so more and more homes were required, but the inaction of. the go,vernments of that time forced many young couples to live with their relations instead of in homes of their own. The depression was followed by six years of devastating war, during which period all building materials in the country were utilized for defence purposes. Hundreds of tradesmen working with the Allied Works Council were employed in building hutments and other accommodation for the members of the fighting forces of not only Australia, but also of the United Kingdom and allied nations. It was not until after August, 1945, that building materials of any kind became available for the construction of homes for the people. The present Government has a definite housing plan. It has set an objective which, . with the co-operation of the States, it is trying to reach as rapidly as possible. As the result of what 1 saw during my recent trip abroad I am convinced that no other country is making such rapid progress towards the solution o’f its housing problem as is Australia. It would be well if those honorable senators who have criticized the Government iti respect of housing could, visit the United States of America. If they did so, they would have a saner outlook on this subject than they have indicated to-day. In the United States of America the’ shortage of homes is more pronounced than it is in this country; millions of people there are not adequately housed. Moreover, rentals in the United States of America as well as the purchase price of Homes, are far above Australian figures. Honorable senators opposite would have done better . if they had had something to say about the interest charges which ex-servicemen ‘ have to pay in respect of their homes. If I were a soldier of the war of 1939-45 I should hesitate to ‘pay £1,250 for a cottage of three :or four rooms, and 4 per cent, interest on its cost. The only equity that many ex-servicemen will have in homes built under present conditions- will bathe va!lue ‘of the land bought by them out of their” war gratuity or deferred pay. - For £1^250 it will not be possible to provide more ‘than a workman’s cottage, with a minimum of comfort. If an exserviceman sets out to make a home costing £1,250 his own in 30 years, he will have to pay in the first year £50 ‘interest in addition to £41 7s. repayment of principal, or a total of £91 7s. in order to obtain security of tenure in his home, and that is all he would have.
– Under what scheme is” that?
– Under any scheme.
– Order ! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to correct some figures that have been given in this debate by honorable senators opposite. To do this I shall quote from an official statement issued by “the Minister for Post-war
Reconstruction (Mr., Dedman) on the 1st July of this year. Honorable senators opposite have claimed that the number of ex-servicemen undertaking university and technical training is approximately 80,000. ‘ One honorable senator put the figure as high as 111,000. The truth is, according to the Minister’s official statement, that the total number is 18,346.
– That is university training only.
– No. It includes men undergoing university and technical training. Possibly the confusion has arisen over the number of applications for training which is-approximately 80,000. I believe that honorable senators opposite were quite honest in quoting the figures they did ; but I point out that applicants ‘” accepted “ for training are not necessarily in training. According to the Minister’s statement, 428,244 men had been discharged from the ser vires, and 186,963 had been reinstated in their former jobs, 148,029 had undertaken new jobs through the Commonwealth Employment Service, 44,025 were going into businesses or on to farms, 18,346 were receiving technical or university training, 6,875 were resuming apprenticeship, and 4,753 were in receipt of the unemployment, allowance. A pertinent question that is being asked by many exservicemen is why, in view of wagepegging and price-fixing, a house, which formerly could be built for £900, now costs £1250. They are saying, quite rightly, that there is not ‘that value in the house. I expected the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) to state the reasons why the cost of home construction had increased so much. Exservicemen believe that the Government has let them down in this regard. According to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction himself, not one ex-serviceman has yet been settled on the land under the Government’s rehabilitation scheme. The Minister has stated “also that up to the 3lst May, applications for agricultural loans totalled 2,935, of which 1,360 had been granted. It is interesting to note that in Tasmania 216 applications have been made and only 26 approved. It is remarkable, also, that under the land settlement scheme some exservicemen will hold their land on perpetual lease in certain States. Ex-servicemen also want to know why their production of certain commodities is to be restricted whilst men who did not go to the war can carry on unrestricted production. I refer chiefly to dried fruits. Wheat production also presents a problem to ex-servicemen. I know of one case in which the father of a man serving overseas in the Royal Australian Air Force wanted to grow wheat as a gift to his son. Because the son was in the services and the farm was half his property, a permit was refused for three years.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order 64.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
Transport of Members
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will the Prime Minister advise when members of the Commonwealth Parliament will be able to use the airways for travel by production of the gold passes used by them in connexion with travel on railways?
– The Prime Minister states that the question of the availability of gold passes for airways travel will receive the consideration of the Government in due course.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister state to what extent the provisions of Part XII. of the Defence Act 1903-1941 are being observed?
– The Acting Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer: -
The provisions of Part XII. of the Defence Act are not being implemented at the present time.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– ThePrime Minister has suppliedthe following answers : -
Senator ASHLEY (New South Wales-
Minister for Supply and Shipping) [9.30.]- I lay on the table the following paper : -
Financial Statement dated 12th July, 1946, by the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, M.P., Treasurer. and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Senator McLeay) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKenna) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In July, 1945, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) set out in some detail the Government’s plans relating to education and mentioned, among other aspects of the broad general problem, that the Government had decided to proceed with the establishment of an Australian National University at Canberra. Australia has already gained a justifiably high reputation in university teaching and research, and the Government believes that the establishment of an Australian National University at Canberra will bring still further credit to our country, not only by the work done within its own walls by its own staff and research students, but also by collaboration and co-operation between its members and the research workers and teachers’ of the other Australian universities. With the help and encouragement of the other universities and of all men and women of goodwill the Australian National University will soon be in a position to take its share in solving the many complex problems which are the joint responsibility of all the universities.
The establishment of a university is a matter of considerable complexity and a very great responsibility. For this reason the Government has not acted hastily. Opportunity has been taken to discuss the problems involved with the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) and with other Ministers concerned; with the vice-chancellors of the universities of Sydney and Melbourne and with groups of distinguished scientists who have been called together by the Inter-Departmental Committee on Education to advise on the general and detailed questions involved. In addition the Government has had the help and advice of the Council of the Canberra University College, the members of- which have for years kept in front of their minds the project for a university at Canberra. In fact it is very largely their project, although the suggestion that a university be established in Canberra goes back to the days of the Federal Capital Commission.
It is more than ever important at this stage in Australia’s development that the Australian people should have available everything they need to enable them to understand the problems -with which we are faced. Both in Australia and in the world at large, these problems must be solved if the future is to be made safe and the people placed in a position to enjoy the fruits of the developments in science and in human relationships, which have appeared during the past six years. The first thing that must be done by us, however, is to ensure that these developments are studied in particular relation to their application in Australia. Progress in physical science has culminated in the harnessing of atomic energy and this has. brought the world to its final crossroads. It is essential that Australia, in common with the other nations of .the world, should do everything possible to foster that careful research in these fields, which will allow us to become the masters, not the servants, of our physical environment. In medicine, too, the outstanding achievements of the war years await full and proper application to the civil needs of our people. Once again this implies patient research by all the talent at our disposal. The .Government feels that the university now proposed for Canberra is an appropriate place in which this research may be carried out.
On the side of human relationships, our continued development, and a full understanding of our problems, require that we encourage research into the social sciences. Here, perhaps, more than in any other field of learning, Australia has an outstanding contribution to make to the world at large. Our social institutions are not yet finally determined, and for that reason, apart from many others, our opportunities for research into the social sciences are unique. We have also greatly increased responsibility to shoulder in relation to other people, and particularly to those with whom we are associated as a Pacific Power. Our relations with the East, with the Americas, with the East Indies, New Zealand, New Guinea, and all the Pacific islands must be carefully studied in order that they may become friendly and as fruitful as they must be if our future is to be safeguarded and if we are to make our full contribution in the councils of the nations.
The bill is very straightforward and needs little amplification. It follows in broad outline the general plan of government which has been found to operate successfully in other universities both in Australia and overseas. It will be noted that the functions of the university as set out in clause 6 lay particular stress on .post-graduate research. Clause 7 sets out the research schools which are of immediate importance to Australia, but nothing in the bill prevents the establishment of other research schools that may appear essential to the governing body of the university.
Whilst the university is intended to be primarily a post-graduate research university, it is, nevertheless, recognized that facilities must be made available in Canberra to meet the increasing needs for undergraduate studies and for special training for officers of government departments. Provision therefore, is made in clause 6 and in clauses 8 and 9 to enable this to be done.
The governing authority of the university as set out in clause 11 is a council consisting of not more than 30 members, partly elected, and partly appointed by the Governor-General and by the Parliament. It is obvious that the university must be free to administer its own affairs without any pressure from outside. The appropriate safeguards against such outside interference are contained in clause 23 of the bill which specifically refers all matters connected with the government of the university to the council. Whilst I do not anticipate that the university will be in full operation for some time it is essential that basic planning be completed as early as possible so that the necessary plans can be laid for buildings and other’ essential work. Naturally, I realize that the acute shortage of labour and materials for buildings, will prevent an immediate start being made on any accommodation for the university. It will in- any case be necessary to await the appointment of the key personnel in the various research schools before final plans are completed for any buildings.
On the ‘financial side, the Government proposes to make available for the university in the first five years commencing with the financial year 1951-52, the sum of £325,000 per annum. The amount will be reviewed every five years thereafter. In the period before July, 1951, such amount will be made available, to a maximum of £325,000 per annum, as is actually needed to meet the running expenses of the university. The Government is also well aware that it must provide sufficient funds to enable the university to start with buildings worthy of the objects for which they are built and in keeping with the best types of architecture in the Australian Capital Territory. Accordingly, the Government has approved an amount of £872,500 for buildings for the university. This amount, of course, will not bo required immediately, nor will it be drawn from any one budget.
Finally, I should like to say something about the staff of the university. The vice-chancellor, as’ the administrative head of the university, is, in many ways, the key member of its staff. In the first instance, as set.out in clause 18, it is proposed that the vice-chancellor be appointed by the Governor-General for a period of five years. All subsequent appointments to that office will be made by the council. It is vital that the vicechancellor be .-a man of outstanding administrative ability, and, if possible, of high academic standing. I believe, too, that he must at all costs secure men of world reputation to supervise the Work of the various research schools. I believe that there are very eminent Australians overseas who would be very happy to come back home to appointments, which would give them freedom to carry out their research-in an Australian national university. We must leave no stone unturned to secure their services. After all, the reputation of a university depends not on the number of its students’ or on the splendour of its buildings; but on the quality of its members and the nature of its contribution to learning. With the establishment of an Australian National University liberally endowed, properly housed and staffed with men of world repute, Australia will have taken one more step to aline herself among the great and enlightened nations of the world.
.- I congratulate the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) upon introducing his first measure in the Senate. I hope that most of the bills of which he will have charge in this chamber will be as easy to steer through the Senate as I hope this measure will be. Our approach to the subject of higher education must be sympathetic. At the same time, however, it has become the habit in Australia’ to regard higher education with a sort of reverential awe, or, at any rate, exaggerated respect. I am inclined to believe that this measure is premature. Therefore, I propose to examine carefully some of its implications and endeavour to persuade the Minister that it would be better under existing conditions’ to postpone the operation of the measure for some years. The bill provides for the expenditure of the- sum of £872,500 upon buildings for the university. That is an estimate, and, knowing how estimates are drawn up, we need have no doubt that the final cost of the university buildings in Canberra will exceed £1,000,000, and that the estimated yearly expenditure of £325,000 will also be . exceeded. At present, Australia is pretty hard up. The nation is looking for money which it requires in order to rehabilitate ex-service personnel. An amount of £1,000,000 would provide homes for about 1,000 ex-servicemen, and the £325,000 a year proposed to be expended on this university would provide approximately 300 houses. Furthermore, if the money were expended on the same terms, those houses would be provided for nothing. The money would be far better expended in that way than on this premature plan. What great national service will this university perform ? What will be its effect upon the.national life of Australia and the future education of thepeople? The standard of culture of a people depends upon the masses of the people, lt does not depend upon the few at the top of the cultural scale. It depends upon the general sense of culture of the whole population. When I examine some of the lower stages of the education systems of Australia, I am driven to the conclusion that the annual expenditure of £325,000 proposed in this bill would be very much better expended on primary education and the provision of school buildings and equipment. The universities of Australia, over-crowded though they are, are capable of training the teachers and others necessary for the education of the ordinary people who do not want to go to universities. That should be the first consideration, and it should be undertaken before starting an extravagant scheme of this kind. What will be the purpose of this synthetic, provincial university? Various targets - the Government is always aiming at targets and failing to hit them - have been set by the Government, but they do not seem to be worth while. It is to be a post-graduate university, but it will be far removed from the great centres of population. It will be expected to carry out research work dealing, first, with the medical profession. In my youth I had some experience of the training required for that profession, and I know that, the first essential is to have big hospitals nearby with provision for the study of anatomy. Human bodies are’ needed. How ca-n such training be carried out in Canberra? The first object, that of establishing a medical research school at Canberra, falls down at the outset because of lack of essential facilities. The Minister said that the Government had accepted the advice of some distinguished educational authorities in formulating its plan. Unfortunately, the honorable gentleman did not present the report of those authorities to the Senate. We must accept his word. If the report was worth anything at all it should have been presented to us, so that we should have had full knowledge of the implications of the proposal before agreeing to the expenditure involved. I cannot imagine for a moment that medical research of any value could be carried on at Canberra. The university will also include a research school of physical science. The Minister deliberately referred to the atomic bomb and what it means to civilization. Does he anticipate that an atomic research plant will be set up at Canberra? He says that civilization is “ at the cross-roads “. Atomic studies have been so far advanced in other parts of the world that, before we could make any progress with research into that subject - the university will not commence work until 1951 or 1952 at the very earliest - the “ cross-roads “ will have been blown up. Another object of the university will be to “undertake research into social science. How can a school of social science be carried on better at Canberra than at any established university? I know that it is the habit of this Government to run to professors or pseudo-professors to get it out of trouble, but where has that led us? These students of social science have produced a tremendous number of plans, but all the planning carried on during the war has not led to anything. I am very doubtful about the value of any such school. There is also to be a school of Pacific affairs and diplomatic study. These subjects are to be specialized. Fancy having research work into Pacific affairs at Canberra ! What will the professors do? Will they bring Polynesians to Canberra so that they may make a study of the race? Will they make investigations to see whether we should break down the White Australia policy by bringing people from Indonesia or other places in the Pacific to this country? One of the functions of the university will be to award and confer degrees and diplomas.- What sort of degrees will be given in respect of Pacific affairs and diplomatic studies? I suppose a lot of men will qualify to write “ P.A. “, for Pacific affairs, after their names by visiting Timor.
I said that I would give sympathetic consideration to this bill, and I am doing so. I am directing attention to a few of its outstanding features which do not warrant glowing enthusiasm on the part of anybody but a few professors. In addition to the post-graduate studies which I have mentioned, the Government visualizes bringing undergraduates to Canberra. I presume that, apart from a relatively, small number of Canberra students, they will come from distant parts of the Commonwealth. Apparently the Government envisages
Canberra as a sort of boarding house for undergraduates. Are students to leave their homes and families and incur the expense of living in Canberra - unless the Government pays their living expenses - instead of attending universities already established in the States? The Government’s supporters have used the argument that the existing universities are overcrowded. That is true. There is a tremendous rush by the youth of Australia to engage in professions. That is a worthy objective, but it has resulted in overcrowding in the universities. However, the establishment of a university at Canberra is not likely to lessen that overcrowding. If the Government established a university in the vicinity of Sydney or Melbourne, it could be used to take the overflow from one or other of those establishments and there would be some virtue in the scheme. However, the Government’s plan will make the cost of university education for the rank and file of students very high, because they will have to live at residential colleges. Supporters of the bill in the House of Representatives claimed that professors at existing universities, particularly those in Melbourne and Sydney, are so busy teaching their professions that they have no time available for research work.No doubt there is a great deal of truth in that statement. Professors certainly have not as much leisure time now as they would have had 30 or 40 years ago, but there is a better way of overcoming this problem than that of establishing a university at Canberra. If the £325,000 a year proposed to be expended on the Canberra university were placed at the disposal of the existing universities, they would be able to relieve their leading professors of the drudgery of redundant teaching. They could use some of their time in research work in the big cities where they would have all necessary facilities at their command. We should not imagine that university professors could do their research work in a remote part of Australia such as Canberra. They need to have their brains brushed now and again by mixing with the everyday world. They must exchange ideas and discuss their plans with people of their own intellectual calibre, but would they get an opportunity to do that in Can berra? I visualise half a dozen prof essors engaged in research work attending their traditional dinner, and, over a bottle of wine, discussing their many problems. Every professor would have his own line of study, and no other residents of Canberra would be able to discuss his problems with him.
I said at the outset that I would approach the consideration of this bill sympathetically, but on examining the measure I find that its many crudities should be made known. I fear that the scheme did not receive as much consideration in the House of Representatives as it warranted. I know that the Government has an exaggerated idea of the kudos that is obtainable from this proposal, and it is anxious to have credit for having introduced a measure for the establishment of a national university. When I see a proposal which is pretentious and unreal, I cannot help directing attention to those qualities. “ The Australian National University “ is a high sounding title for an institution that has not yet been established, and it is only a name. It will be time enough to call it a national university when it has come into being, and has proved itself to be a success. I venture to think that a long time will elapse before that title will be justified by events. When people from overseas visit Canberra, they will naturally ask where the Australian National University is situated, and the reply will be, “ Over there in the paddock “.
– Everything has a beginning.
– That is the pity of it. The Government, I suppose, hopes to gain a reputation for being longsighted ; but in view of the fact that the proposal is expected to cost £1,000,000 for buildings and £325,000 a year for upkeep, we should hesitate before agreeing to the measure. Primary education is being starved in some of the States, and teachers are underpaid. Education should be taken to the great masses of the people, and should not be reserved for a few at the top. As the money proposed to be expended on this project could be better devoted to other purposes, it would be well for the Government to be satisfied to keep the scheme in mind for a few years. Perhaps* ten years after the conclusion of the greatest war in history, when the people have returned to their natural way of life - if that may be called natural^- it will be time enough to decide whether this proposal should be adopted. In all the circumstances, this heavy expenditure should now be postponed. The Minister has not attempted to justify the objects of the university by telling us of anybody who has asked for it.
– Research benefits all.
– Does that remark apply to research regarding atomic energy? I have already indicated that Canberra could not .provide proper facilities for research in medical science. Seeing that money is urgently required for more desirable purposes, the implementation of this proposal would cause, the greatest waste of public money that has occurred in Australia for a long time. As this is the first measure that the Minister has taken charge of in the Senate, he would gain renown for himself and credit for the Government if he withdrew it, and postponed further consideration of the proposal for five or six years.
– One of my first speeches in this chamber was delivered early in 1932, and I well remember concluding my remarks on that occasion with these words -
I hope some day to see an Australian national university established in Canberra, and established on such national lines that no man’s education- will be deemed complete unless he has the imprimatur of that university.
That statement was made fourteen years ago. I am not only astounded, but I am sorry, to have heard the remarks of Senator Leckie on this measure. Let us consider certain phases of the work that must be done in building up this Australian nation. I shall refer briefly to what I imagine to be what every honorable senator would agree is Canberra’s place in the affairs of this nation. I believe that here, at the seat of government, we should have the head-quarters of every Commonwealth department, including the Department pf Defence. The present Government is determined, if it remains in office long enough, to have this progressively accomplished. It will always be necessary, of course, to have branches of the various departments operating in the capital cities of Australia. The National Capital of Australia should be the place from which all the activities of the Commonwealth Government are directed.
Let us consider the functions of education. The National Federation of Teachers and other similar bodies are agreed that education is an essential requirement of any nation. There is agreement also that there is need for a different outlook towards education from that which has prevailed hitherto. More is needed than training to make a living. So far, that is all that we have done, but the recent war has proved that people must be taught not only to make a living, but also how to live with other people and other nations. That is a new outlook on education. Senator Leckie complimented the Minister in charge of the bill on his second-reading speech - a. compliment to which the Minister was undoubtedly entitled. He went on to say that no great exception could be taken to the bill, and he expressed the hope that every other bill which the Minister, introduced would have as easy a passage as this one. Following those remarks, the honorable senator referred to the bill in most uncomplimentary terms. He said that it was so overcrowded with crudities that it should be withdrawn and redrafted: There is nothing new in that kind of criticism. So long as I can remember - and that is a long time - whenever something for the benefit of Australia has been proposed, there have been Jeremiah’s who have said that the time was not ripe for the innovation, that. further consideration should be given to the proposal, and so on. Anything which would delay a proposed forward move has been advanced as an argument against it. Honorable senators will agree that the< world is in a sad condition to-day. We and our allies have just emerged, fortunately, victoriously from the greatest war that the’ world has witnessed. A war does not happen by accident ; it is the result of certain definite factors. Wars arise from the fact that the peoples of the world have not been properly educated.
– Not necessarily.
– I think that Senator Mattner will agree that the world is in an unsatisfactory state - that science has travelled so rapidly along the lines which lead to destruction that something must be done if the world is to be saved. The problems of to-day are different from those which we have encountered hitherto. I firmly believe that in . a world where people have been properly educated the problems that now. face us could not arise.
– Does the honorable senator say that in a political sense?
– I say it iri every sense. I want honorable senators to realize that if the “ new order of which we have heard so much, is to come, we must begin with the child in the school as its foundation. In other .words, there cannot be a “ new order “ if the old kind of education is continued. If we continue to raise the kind of adults that our system of education has raised so far, we shall have a continuation of the crudities to which reference has already been made. Senator Leckie referred to alleged crudities in the bill ; I refer to actual crudities in the world about us. Once we teach the individual child to realize that he belongs, not merely to the home from which he comes, or to. the parents who gave him birth, but to the community, and that to the degree that he harmonizes his life, with’ the lives of others- in the community, he is making a new world possible.
Senator Leckie also said that this bill does not warrant any great enthusiasm. No innovation of value ever has called forth great enthusiasm on the part of the many. All the really great things that have ever been accomplished in the world have had their foundation in the brain of individuals. Men and women have had to work hard before they and their colleagues could arouse any great enthusiasm in the community for the things for which they were working. The fact that Senator Leckie cannot work up any great enthusiasm for this measure does not appear to me to be a serious deficiency in the bill. I do not say that offensively. The honorable senator said that large numbers of undergraduates coming to the National Capital to attend the national university would convert Canberra into a huge’ boarding-house. I remind the honorable senator that every university in Australia is faced with the difficulty of finding accommodation for its undergraduates.
– That is not so.
-The present Commonwealth Labour Government is convinced that educational reform is necessary to the creation of a new kind of world. It proposes to make £1,000,000 available in order to provide that the brilliant child of the poorest parents in the land can send that child to a university if his qualifications justify it. That was never attempted by any of the governments which Senator .Leckie so enthusiastically supported.
– Where is that provided for in the bill?
– I do not suppose that Senator Mattner desires me to read the bill to him. He knows what the measure contains. I admit that there is nothing in the bill about a grant of money to enable the child of poor parents to attend a university and get a degree, but it is the background of the bill. It is the intention of . the present Labour Government to proceed in an orderly way with the process. of educating the people. This is a matter of more than ordinary importance, and I ask honorable senators to treat it as such. I think that all honorable senators will agree that there is something radically wrong with society to-day. No honorable senator would say that he would not be happier if there was no such thing as poverty in the world, even though he himself were rich beyond the dreams of avarice. Nor would any honorable senator claim that there is no ignorance in the community. When I speak of ignorance I do not mean inability to read, or spell, or add up a few figures. I do say, however, that there is not a truly educated, intelligent community in Australia to-day. I could show how erroneous a contrary opinion would be. On a number of occasions I have attended declarations of the electoral poll. I am pleased to say that on every occasion when I have been a candidate it has been my pleasure to hear the returning officer say that 1 had been elected by the people. On one occasion, a returning officer said that it was a sad commentary on the expenditure of large sums of money on education that 24,5S5 votes had been informally cast. He wenton to say. that if that state of affairs continued, as he feared it would, “ Mr, Informal “ would poll more votes than would be cast in favour of the elected representative. That has already happened in one Australian State; more informal votes have been recorded than were cast in favour of the successful candidate.
– Will- ‘the bill prevent that?
– Unlike Senator Leckie, some honorable senators on this side of the chamber, in spite of- advancing, years, are not opposed to a change. We believe that there is something wrong with the world ; that otherwise the recent devastating war., in which hundreds of thousands of people became casualties, could not have occurred. A state of affairs which makes possible a greater death-roll through accidents in our city streets than the number of Australian soldiers killed in the recent war would be impossible in a properly educated community. At the ‘ back of all these tragedies is a lack of education. I fear that there is very little positive morality in the world to-day. There is, I agree, a great deal of negative morality of the type which says, “I must not do this ‘ or that because if I am found out I shall be fined “. We must so change our educational methods that people will be taught to have a positive morality which will cause them to say, “ I will not do this or that because it interferes with the liberty of other members of the community, or endangers them in some way “. When walking along the streets of some of- our capital cities I have seen notices reading, “Do not spit, on the footpath; penalty £2”. I have noticed that in those cities people do not spit on the footpath. Instead they walk te the edge of the footpath and spit dexterously into the middle of the road. Some day we shall have the people of this country so educated that they will have no hesitation in refraining from spitting, because they -will know that it is a filthy disease-breeding habit. That they do it to-day - and none of us is altogether blameless in these matters - is definite evidence that the people of this community are not yet properly educated. Speaking, presumably, on behalf of the great intelligent Opposition, Senator Leckie said that we should riot build a national university yet. It is too early. We should not build a boarding-house for the undergraduates of Canberra. Such talk makes me feel very sad. I suppose that having passed the allotted span, I have not very much longer to go. In that regard Senator Leckie is much more fortunate than I, because in the ordinary course of events, he has many more years ahead of him than I have; but I do not wish to have to wait any longer for the reforms that I hope to see enacted. 1 wish to see the Australian « people so educated that they will love the best and not the worst things in life. During the war years, and since the war, the cry has been, “Not enough beer, not enough tobacco, not enough opportunity to gamble at the races”. All these desires are evidence of a defective education system. The fact is -that we cannot have these evidences in the community without learning that what I am saying is based on fundamental truths. We must begin in theschools of this country to educate a new race of people if we want to breed out wars and to ensure that ‘’ the people will have good health instead of disease. That can be achieved by proper education from the schools upwards, and this Labour Government, of which I am proud to be a member, is determined that so far as possible it will lay in this national capital the founda-. tions of a new system of education that will not only teach people how to make a living. That is not half so important as teaching them how to live, and having taught them how to live, the fact that must be hammered home is that they must learn to live in harmony with their environment and with the rest of the community. When that has been achieved all arguments .about strikes will cease because no individual who is properly educated will be an anti-social animal. That is the cause of most of the trouble to-day. Any one who is properly educated realizes that man cannot live by bread alone and cannot live unto himself. He can only live happily to the degree that he can completely harmonize his existence with that of his fellows. I believe this bill is fundamental. It gets right down to the basis of our difficulties. It, is the best measure that has been introduced into this chamber in the fourteen years that I have been a proud member of it. If I live long enough to see the Australian National University established at Canberra, and the National Capital developed to such a degree that it will house all the national and governmental activities of this country, I shall feel that I have been indeed privileged. I ask honorable senators to think of this proposal on the lines that I have indicated. If we start now on the right track we cannot go wrong.We all agree that there is something wrong with society to-day. I believe that our greatest fault is selfishness, and selfishness can be bred out of our race if our educational system be soundly based. I believe that the Australian National University will be an educational foundation of which we shall all be very proud indeed. As I have already said, we cannot have wrong things in a community of people who. have been rightly educated. It is no use trying to educate the adults. We are all hopeless. We. have been educated on wrong lines, and the deplorable state of affairs to-day is the result. All that should be regarded as a closed book and. a fresh start made with the children in the schools. I do not wish to have “ isms “ taught in the schools, nor do I wish to see my own particular brand of politics taught. Let us teach each child how to live in harmony with his environment and with the rest of the community, demanding no liberty for himself that might endanger a similar liberty being afforded to every other unit in the community. When we have done that throughout Australia, we shall have lit a beacon light that will be an inspiration to the world.
Debate (on motion bySenator Tangney) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Air Force Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 111.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No 19 of 1946 - Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australasia.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Post-war Reconstruction - T. W. Swan.
Treasury - J. M. Copes.
Works andHousing - L. C. Lucas.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 100.
Customs Act and’ Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 107.
Lands Acquisition Act -
Land acquired for -
Commonwealth purposes -
Bendigo, Victoria. ,
Fremantle, Western Australia.
Lidcombe, New South Wales.
Newcastle. New South Wales.
Raglan near Bathurst, New South Wales.
Regents Park, New South Wales.
Surry Hills, New South Wales.
Defence purposes - Cape River, Queensland.
Postal purposes -
Batlow, New South Wales:
Blakehurst, New South Wales.
Hawker, South Australia.
Quorn, South Australia.
Land disposed of - Gingin, Western Aus tralia.
National Security Act -
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders- Nos. 2582-2603.
National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Order - 1946, No. 17.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, Nos. 102, 105, 109, 110.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinance - No. 5 of 1946 - Crown Lands.
Science and Industry Research Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 104.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance - No. 6 of 1946 - Canberra Community Hospital.
Senate adjourned at 10.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 July 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1946/19460717_senate_17_187/>.