17th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Restrictions - Metises
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping been drawn to a report in yesterday’s Adelaide Advertiser that the use of gas and electricity is to be restricted in South Australia because of the cancellation of the sailing of ships which were due to carry coal to that - State for use by gas and electricity suppliers? .
– My attention has been drawn to a report that the Shipping Control Board had been unable to provide substitute vessels for two coalcarrying ships the departure of winch had been cancelled, and that the earliest dato on which a collier could sail, for South. Australia, providing conditions were favorable, would be next Saturday. The position is that two vessels, namely, the Ocean Pride and the Empire Cowdray, were scheduled to load coal at Newcastle between the 22nd and the 27th July. The Ocean Pride will commence to- load coal to-night, and should sail to-morrow afternoon, Friday, the 26th July, with a full’ cargo of coal for Adelaide - namely 8,500 tons. It should reach Fort Adelaide on Wednesday or Thursday next. The Empire Cowdray has experienced some delay in getting under the cranes because of one ‘day’s delay in obtaining dry ‘dock accommodation. This ship should leave on Monday or Tuesday, next. Special steps are being taken by the shipping authority to ensure that shipping is provided to move whatever coal is available for South Australia, and the needs of that State, is conjunction with those of’ other States, will continue to be given’ the closest attention from the shipping stand-point.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Shipping aware that there is a great shortage of electricity meters and that the electricity supply authorities, being unable to secure them, are making a fiat rate charge on the consumers? Is he also aware that the fiat rate-charge may operate against the lower’ paid members of the community? If this position is well known to the Minister, will he take immediate action to ‘have the manufacture of electricity meters stepped up in order that the supply authorities may meet the demand caused by the great building programme that is in operation ?
– The’ honorable senator brought this matter to my notice yesterday. 1 now- wish to advise him that the control previously exercised by the Department df Munitions was lifted early this year. 1 understand, however, that the Department of Works and Housing maintains close contact with manufacturers of electricity meters from whom regular reports of production and distribution are received. I am Informed that no complaints of shortages have as yet been received from any of the State housing authorities, or from the manufacturing companies, and that a general review of the position made some time ago showed that manufacturing capacity in Australia is adequate to meet requirements. The honorable senator will appreciate that this industry is dependent to a certain extent on female labour, of which there- is at present a general shortage. No doubt any immediate difficul-, ties being experienced are due to this cause. I shall refer the matter to the Minister for Works and Housing, for investigation, and I shall furnish a further report when ‘ these inquiries have en completed.
– In view of the- shortage of explosives which are urgently required for mining purposes in Western Australia, will the Minister representing the Minister, for the ‘ Army have &! review made of all suitable excess stocks of war-time explosives with the object of disposing of them, in a modified and adjusted ‘form, to the mining industry at a reasonable price and in a’ reasonably short time?’
– From time to time, assessments of the stocks of explosives , and other munitions held by the Army Department are .made. When that department transfers them to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission, the latter body, not the Army Department, fixes the price at which they shall be offered for sale, and disposes of them.
– Has the Minister for Supply and Shipping seen a statement which appeared in the Sydney press a few days ago that at a meeting of rubber control officials and motor tyre manufacturers it was stated that controls would be lifted from truck tyres at the end of this month, and that all controls of rubber would be lifted about September? Did he see the further statement that, it was probable that petrol rationing would :be discontinued in September ? If so, will he make a statement to the Senate clarifying the position as regards the rationing of tyres and petrol?
– During the past twelve months there has been considerable press speculation regarding the relaxation, or abolition, .of petrol rationing and tyre control. I advise the public not to pay any heed to such forecasts. Immediately it is possible to remove the restrictions on the sale of petrol and the control ;on. tyres, the public will be advised officially. I assure the honorable senator, and the people of Australia generally, that these restrictions and controls will not be retained any longer than is necessary. The control of tyres is still necessary because production is not equal to the demand, due to .a shortage of manpower. When production reaches the limit of safety, the controls on tyres will bc removed, but at present I am not in a position to indicate when that will he.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer the following questions : -
– An answer to the honorable senator’s question will involve certain inquiries, but I can assure him that I shall bring the matter to the notice of the Treasurer and obtain the information desired.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture what was “ the quantity of butter or butter fats shipped to Great Britain from Australia in each year from 1942-43 to 1945-46 ; also what quantity is estimated to be supplied to Great Britain in 1946-47?
– I have not all the information that the honorable senator seeks but, speaking from memory, the quantity of butter shipped in 1942-43 was 49,000 tons, and the target for 1946-47 is approximately 69,000 tons.
Tasmania^ Services - Austral?” rn Coastal TRADE
– In view of the many representations that have been made by Tasmanian members of this Parliament in regard to the acute shortage of shipping between Tasmania and the mainland, and the fact that a recent conference of exporters and importers, attended by the Premier of Tasmania, emphasized the urgent need for more ships to deal with the accumulation of cargo now awaiting shipment, I ask the Minister for . Supply and Shipping whether the Premier of Tasmania who is now in Canberra, has brought this matter to the notice of the Department of Supply and Shipping? If so, what action, if any, does the Government propose to take to alleviate the position.
– At least once a week a question is asked in this chamber regarding this matter. I have said on several occasions that the shipping tonnage allocated to. the run between Tasmania and the mainland is in conformity with that allocated for services between the other States. Only last week I pointed out that Tasmania’s shipping needs were greater than they were in prewar days.- The Government has not lost sight of the fact that increased production in Tasmania is making greater demands upon available shipping; but the basis of the present allocation of available tonnage is regarded as fair.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Supply and Shipping been drawn to press reports that a number of ships now engaged in the Australian coastal trade have been sold to foreign owners, and are to proceed overseas shortly? What steps does the Government propose to- take to ensure that Australian coastal shipping will not be further depleted until additional tonage has been provided to cope with our own requirements?
– I presume that the honorable member refers to Katoomba and other ships which operated on the coast. Last week, in reply to a similar question, I pointed out that Katoomba’s navigation certificate expired in February when lengthy survey repairs would have been necessary. Further, it is the responsibility of the Navy Department to re-condition the. ship and place it in “ on-survey “ ‘ commission. The cost to the Navy Department in respect of those survey repairs would have been £60,000, the re-conditioning costs would have approximated from £40,000 to £30,000; and, on the assumption that reconditioning could have been completed in six months, which is very doubtful, an expenditure of £36,000 for charter money would have been incurred. The Navy. Department’s liability has been discharged for £55,000. Therefore, the Commonwealth has saved over £100,000, and will receive a considerable sum in tax on the sale price of Katoomba and on the amount paid by the Navy Department to the owners in settlement. Much the same conditions apply in respect of the other ships which the honorable senator has in mind.
– Owing to the irregularity of shipping movements between Sydney and the north-west coast of Tasmania, will the Minister for Supply and Shipping consider establishing a regular service, either weekly or fortnightly, with a cargo ship of about 2,000 tons capacity to improve the general service to traders and facilitate the handling of perishable goods ? Will the Minister also investigate the constitution of the Priorities Boardte ascertain whether it is possible to effect some alteration? At present it is most noticeable that, because the board includes in its membership persons who have a financial interest in some of the shipping combines, some small traders receive unfavorable treatment in the granting of priorities for the shipment of goods.
– The provision of a regular shipping service for the west coast of Tasmania is dependent upon the availability of shipping tonnage. Recently ships were chartered from the British Government, and when they are in commission shipping services throughout Australia should be improved. With regard to the honorable member’s question about the Priorities Board, I shall have investigations made and endeavour to secure the information that he desires.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether the Welshpool .munitions factory in Western Australia is still in the hands of the Commonwealth Government? If not, to whom has the factory been allocated?
– The Commonwealth Government and the State Government of Western Australia has been negotiating for some time in regard to the future “of this establishment, but I am not in a position to inform the honorable senator whether any decision has yet been reached. I shall have inquiries made and furnish the honorable senator with an answer to his question.
– Is it a fact that lathes and other machine tools not now required by the Army, are still in possession of the Army authorities? If so, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army take steps to have them made available either through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission or some other authority, to overcome the shortage of machine tools in industry.
– I am not aware that the Army is holding surplus Stocks of machine tools. It is the policy of the Government that all departments 3hall make surplus stocks available for sale to the. public through the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. I shall have inquiries made, and I can assure the honorable senator that if the goods to which he has referred are surplus, steps will be taken to make them available to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission as soon as possible.
– In view of the success which ha3 attended the establishment of the Lady Gowrie centres for the preschool child, as centres for both nutritional research and education, will the Minister for Health give consideration to the establishment. of at least one spastic centre in Australia to engage in research to assist child victims of cerebral palsy? If this be not practicable at this juncture, will the Minister consider providing assistance to the spastic centre already established in Sydney at great selfsacrifice by the parents of such children?
– I shall give consideration to the suggestion that theGovernment give some help to ,a spastic centre by way of demonstration of what can be done for children affected in the way indicated by the honorable senator. Recently, the proprietors of the spasticcentre’ in New South Wales requested the Government, through me, to give such assistance.. I have referred those who are conducting that institution, which is doing very valuable work, to the National Health and Medical Research Council, which has at its disposal funds for research. I am hopeful that some funds at the disposal of that body will be made available. I assure the honorable senator of ray interest in that work.
– Is the” Minister for Trade and Customs correctly reported in to-day’s Sydney Daily Telegraph as having denied any knowledge of any duty imposed on penicillin, a view, which, I understand, was shared by the Minister for Health? If so, will the Minister explain Customs Order No. 46/133 of the 13th July?
– It is not - correct to say that I have no knowledge of any duty imposed on penicillin. What I said was that I had no knowledge of any special duty being imposed on penicillin. The Minister for Health will bear out that statement. There is a duty on penicillin as there is on any other drug, but it is a blanket duty. A special duty has not been imposed on penicillin.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that the Tariff Board recommended, on the 28th August, 1939, that the marginbetween the customs duty on. imported valves and excise duty on valves made in Australia should be reduced ? Is he aware that such recommendations for reduction have not been implemented, but, on the contrary, the margin has actually been increased? Is he further aware that the effects of the import licensing regulations administered by his department are aggravating the disadvantage to the industry of the high margins of import duty which were condemned by the Tariff Board? Is he aware that because the report has not been adopted .and because licensing control is being strictly enforced in regard to imported valves, his department is furthering the machinations of a combine largely owned and controlled by foreign interests who have been successful by the methods pointed out in the Tariff Board report in putting out of business a large number of small Australian manufacturers and thereby substantially obtained the whole market for radio receivers of their own manufacture ?
– I am sure that the honorable senator does not expect me to answer his questions offhand. I am aware of the Tariff Board report to which he refers. War conditions have prevented the implementation of that report. I shall investigate the matter.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister forthe Army inform the Senate how many troops are still being used as garrison troops in the PacificIslands, and whether it is expected that these troops will he returned to the mainland in the near future?
– Some forces are still stationed in the Pacific Islands. I made a statement dealing with this matter some time ago. The reason for the delay in returning these troops is due to the difficulty experienced in returning prisoners of war to Japan.
-I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs has now available a question which I asked with respect to the shipment of oats and barley to Scandinavia.
– I have had a look at the press report to which the honorable senator referred. That report is not correct. The export of oats and barley will be permitted when Australian requirements are covered fully.
– According to press reports the quota system in respect of meat for butchers has been lifted in the mainland States where the coupon system has been restored. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether the quota systemhas been lifted also in Tasmania? If not, why is a system retained in Tasmania which prevents a return to the practice of meat deliveries? Has the Commonwealth power under the
Constitution to make a regulation applicable to one State only?
– The abolition of the quota system has been exercising the mind of the Government for some time, because the Government desires that normal deliveries of meat to housewives be restored as soon as possible. The quota system has been abolished on the mainland. In Tasmania it has been retained at the request of the industry. There is no constitutional problem, because the National Security Act and regulations made under it will be effective until the end of this year.
– Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping discuss with the Prime Minister the advisability of setting up a Senate -Foreign Affairs Committee, similar to that which exists in the United States of America?
– The proposal could probably be dealt with better in another way, as I believe the honorable senator is aware.
– Can the Minister for Supply and Shipping’ give to the Senate any indication of the quantity of tinned plate held in Australia? Does he consider that there will be difficulty in obtaining future supplies of tinned plate for canning, particularly for the canning of fish?
– I am not in a position to state what quantities of tinned plate are available in Australia at present. However, I can tell the honorable senator that supplies are not so plentiful as the Government would like them to be. There is a world shortage of tinned plate. I realized this about seven months ago, and a mission was sent to Great Britain and the United States of America in an endeavour to obtain greater supplies for Australia. . The mission found that restrictions on the use of tinned plate were in force in the United States of America. Therefore, with a view to securingconsideration for Australia’s requests, it was essential that the Government should place controls upon the use of tinned plate in Australia. The American authorities would have given little consideration to our request while the use of tinned plate in Australia was unrestricted.
– “Will the fish canning industry be given priority?
– Priorities will be determined as stocks become available.
Volume - Employment
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
With regard to geophysical surveys the bureau has the responsibility for the basic gravimetric and magnetic surveys of the Commonwealth, and all States have agreed to rely upon the bureau forany geophysical surveys they may require. In this regard I may say that the Premier of Queensland has Tecently written to the Prime Minister asking that the bureau should carry out surveys in the Roma district.
Hotel Lounge Prices
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows:- 1.No. 2 and 3. See No. 1.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, upon notice - .
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers: -
Occupation Force in Japan.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
Sale at Rocklea.
asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Reposting OFFICERS Organization.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
-The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answers : -
Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, upon notice -
– The Minister for Transport has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amounts of bank credit and/or treasury-bills have been issued in each financial year from 1938-39 to 1945-46? 2: What are the rates of interest thereon? .
–The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
Debate resumed from the 24th July (vide page 2952), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the bill be now read a second time,
.- I congratulate the Government on the introduction of this important legislation, which is a part of its postwar programme. The feature that I appreciate most in connexion with this proposal is that it concentrates our thoughts on matters of construction. During the past six years when the efforts of Australia and its allies were concentrated on the attainment of victory over our enemies, we became accustomed to reading about the destruction of life and property associated with war. During that period the amount expended for war purposes totalled many hundreds of millions of pounds and, unhappily, many hundreds of thousands of valuable lives were lost. It is refreshing, therefore, to be able to concentrate on something which will add to our cultural development. The bill provides for the establishment in the Australian Capital Territory of an Aus tralian National University. As the Minister said in his second-reading speech, this is indeed a forward step. I do not think that any logical argument can be advanced against the establishment of a university in the National Capital. The functions of the university are set out in clauses 6, 7 and 8. It has been said that the proposed university will deal only with matters of research, but its functions go further than that. Paragraph a of clause 6 provides that one of the functions of the university shall be -
To encourage, and provide facilities for, post-graduate research and study both generally and in relation to subjects of national importance to Australia.
Primarily, that does indicate postgraduate education, but as time goes on I hope that under-graduate courses also will be provided. The university is also -
To provide facilities: for university education for persons who elect to avail themselves of those facilities and are eligible so to do.
That paragraph provides for the broader scope to which I have referred. It appears to me that this bill envisages ultimately the accomplishment of everything that pertains to university education generally. Clause 7 provides that the university may establish such research schools as are deemed desirable. I am pleased to note that mention is made in that clause of a school of medical research to be known as “ The John Curtin School of Medical Research”. Knowing the late Prime Minister’s interest in all that pertains to human welfare, I do not think that any better tribute could be paid to his memory than to associate his name with the proposed school of medical research. In this field of research Australia has much to learn. One of the greatdisadvantages of the University of Western Australia has been that it has never had a chair of medicine. Efforts to remedy that state ofaffairs have been made, and it may be that the disability to which I have referred no longer exists. I hope that as the result of the establishment of this school of medical research Australia will keep pace with other countries in this field. I approve also the establishment of aresearch school of physical sciences, and am particularly pleased that provision is to be made for a research school of social sciences and a research school of Pacific studies. The latter two subjects are of paramount importance, because, after all, individuals who seek the suffrage of electors, “ and assume responsible positions in the parliaments of Australia, are faced with many social problems. Despite all that has been accomplished by the Government over the last two or three years in the improvement of the- social welfare of the people of this country, we have’ not yet been able to get to the root of many of our social disabilities. We provide benefits to compensate for certain disabilities, but we must get down to the basic cause of the suffering of the people, because unless our problems can be tackled at the root, we shall continue to be faced with the necessity to provide .large sums of money annually for social service payments in respect of disabilities resulting probably from malnutrition, and other adverse living conditions that should not be tolerated.
The proposed school of Pacific studies is of particular importance because now, more than ever before, the people of this country, as well as the peoples of other nations, have to study international problems. I can remember the days when Australian citizens were concerned largely with the future of Australia. The only other country in which they were interested, was Great Britain. When I went to school, I read all about Australia, and “Great Britain, and the accomplishments of the British people- over the ages. I became very proud, and I still am proud, to be British ; but unfortunately, in those days we were taught very little about other countries, which, with the passing years have played an increasingly important part” in the complex machine of world affairs. The last war has taught us that we must adopt, not only an Australian point of view, but also that we must endeavour to understand the point of view of other peoples .and particularly those who are our. immediate neighbours. There is an urgent necessity for us to know something about China, India, and the islands adjacent to this country, because in the Pacific area there will always be a potential threat to our security. In view of the fact that recently more than 50 nations assembled in San Francisco and formed a world organization to prevent aggression, to maintain economic- stability J-and security, and to ensure freedom from want and fear, the fullest consideration must be given to making available to students- in this country an opportunity to obtain at least a fundamental knowledge of the trials and tribulations, not only of their own land, but also of the countries that are our near neighbours. To the best of our ability we must cultivate our friendship with other nations which to-day may not have a true conception of this country. In the schoolof Pacific studies every opportunity will be given’ to Australians to acquire a thorough knowledge of the economic, military, and social characteristics of other Pacific countries. Another important feature of this legislation is the proposal that the Australian National University shall provide specialist training for public servants.” One hears a great deal of criticism of public servants. I have heard such obnoxious “terms as “ bureaucrats “ applied to them in this chamber. I wish to pay a tribute to the public servants of this country. Because of the ramifications of the work on which they are engaged, they require a high sense of public duty. They are entrusted with confidential documents and knowledge. In negotiations between Australia and other countries, high ranking public servants advise our representatives on what attitude should be adopted or what course should be pursued. Under the present system, our public servants commence their careers as youngsters- and work up through the ranks to responsible positions, but they are at a disadvantage in’ that the responsibility for acquiring knowledge -rests upon themselves. The Australian National University will give to young public servants an opportunity to do what may be regarded “ as a primary course of study in public administration, which eventually will be to the great advantage, not only of the parliaments of this , country, but also of the people generally. Therefore, despite all that may be said to the contrary, I consider that this legislation will be of great benefit to the nation.
I visualize Canberra as a city of the future. When I was privileged to visit Washington some months ago, the first thought that occurred to me was that some day Canberra must become a second Washington. One frequently hears people say that Canberra should be abandoned and (hat the country that it occupies is not even good enough for sheep. Canberra is the cultural capital and the political centre of Australia. We must build here’ a city that will compare favorably with the best cities overseas. It will be argued, of course, that the population of this country is very small compared with that of the United States of America, or of the United Kingdom ; but our population of 7,250,000 people is not very much less than that of Canada which has 12,000,000 people. In Ottawa and ‘Winnipeg I found that the most outstanding public buildings were those of the parliaments- - the provincial parliament in Winnipeg and the Federal Parliament at Ottawa. British Columbia too, which has not a large population, has a splendid parliamentary institution. The Department of Agriculture in Winnipeg is another impressive - structure. That department has spent many millions of dollars on research into agricultural problems, and to enable that work to be carried .on efficiently, the people have erected a building that simply astounded me and made me feel, when I thought of the unsightly structure that has been raised in this city to house the Prices Branch, that it was time we awakened to our. responsibilities. We must look forward to better things, not merely in the distant future, but also in the immediate future. Washington appealed to me because of its great institutions and magnificent statuary. In the minds of American citizens it represents a national aspiration and a national ideal. All Americans are anxious to visit Washington some day. How many Australian citizens say, “ Some day, I should like to visit Canberra “. It is the duty of this Parliament to ensure that the’ building of this city shall be carried out in such a manner that all Australian citizens will desire to see it.” One of. the finest buildings in Canberra is the National War Memorial. In my opinion the large sum of money spent on that structure was fully justified. Whilst 1 do not believe in the glorification of war, I consider that our National War Memorial ranks with the best in the world, and that the lesson it teaches is so realistic that the States would be well advised to organize annual visits to Canberra by parties of children. The museum section contains thousands of interesting relics of the war of 1914-18, and I assume that additional accommodation will be provided for exhibits relating to the war just concluded. This magnificent building and its exhibits are worthy of inspection, but few people visit Canberra to appreciate them. In addition, the Institute of Anatomy, which I presume is performing a very useful educational function, is a credit to -the National Capital. A National University is an equally important unit in the National Capital. In addition, the first section of the National Library has been completed, and is rendering an essential service in our political capital. During the last six years Australia, with other countries, expended huge sums of money for purposes of war. ‘ Bearing in mind that expenditure for purposes of destruction, the taxpayers of Australia, under this measure, are being asked to contribute merely a “ flea bite “ for the establishment of a seat of learning which will further the cause of peace. Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth cannot control education. We have established a Department of Education, but it is primarily concerned with collaboration with the States with a view to rendering financial assistance to the States in their educational programmes. The establishment of a national university at Canberra will be one step further towards the control of education on a national basis. That reform is necessary. Like Senator Tangney, 1 realize the necessity to cultivate Australian art, music and “ literature. To-day, a preponderance of literature obtainable at bookstalls and of the material broadcast in this country is of American origin. I am not prejudiced against Americans; but I believe that Australia should develop a literature and art of its own. The establishment of a national university will help us to achieve that objective. I suggest that once the Australian National
University is established the Government should make available scholarships to one student from each of the States and the territories under the control of the Com.monwealth. Such scholarships would provide a strong incentive to the more brilliant of our rising generation to enter the Australian National University. That would be one of the highest scholastic prizes that could be offered to young Australians. . I congratulate the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Collings) upon his excellent speech. I was greatly impressed by’ his” emphasis that, whilst the necessity to educate adults was not so great because, they were too conservative, nevertheless we had an urgent duty to provide the very best education for the youth of the nation. We must ensure that the youth of this country become thoroughly Australian in outlook and ideals, and that they shall not become impregnated with foreign ideas. We must enable the growing child to realize the privilege of being not only an Australian but also a member of the British race. I notice that Senator Leckie has entered the chamber. I take him to task because during his speech he said that this proposal represented “ the gravest waste of public money I have seen for a long time “. He disparaged the measure. The key note of his speech was that the present was an inopportune time to provide for the establishment of a national university. The present is always inopportune to people like the honorable senator whenever pro,gressive proposals are placed before them. T direct the honorable senator’s attention to the King George V. Memorial in front of Parliament House at Canberra. That structure is an atrocity;- but it cost £32,000, and that expenditure was incurred at a time when hundreds of thousands of our people were looking for employment and, despite their plight, were denied sustenance by the government of the day. Under this measure it is intended to expend £325,000 annually as from 1951-52 and subsequently that expenditure will be reviewed every five years. Senator Mattner said that £50,000 should ‘ be made available annually to the Stales for the purpose of assisting university education, hut the
Commonwealth Government is already rendering valuable assistance in that respect. As. the. Government proposes to expend £872,500 on the . construction of the Australian National University, I urge it to get on with the job as quickly as possible. I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council who said that, despite his advanced age, he hoped to see the new university completed. I hope that the commencement of the construction of the building will not be delayed for five years. I support Senator O’Flaherty’s contention that we need to establish reciprocity between all universities in Australia. It is useless for a student to win a diploma in one State which is not recognized in other States. The Commonwealth, of course, has not power to remedy that position unless the Constitution be amended to enable the Commonwealth to deal with education generally. The Minister” in charge of the bill concluded his second-reading speech with the following sentence: -
With the establishment of an Australian university, liberally endowed, properly housed, and staffed with men of world repute, Australia will have, taken one more step to align itself among the great and enlightened nations of the world.
I wish to see Australia become one of the great nations of the world; and I submit that this proposal will help us to achieve that aim.
.- When the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator Collings) resumed his seat after delivering a very eloquent speech, I was reminded of the story of the midshipman who was obliged to submit to his captain for perusal all letters he had written. On one occasion, he wrote a letter which commenced, “ Dear Mum and Dad “, and, after describing his activities, concluded with the words, “ I say my prayers every night and pray for yow and Mum. “ When the captain remarked, “ That is . not right Jack “, the midshipman replied, “No, sir, it is not right, but it reads well. “ All I can say is that the Minister’s speech sounded very we1! He dealt with the. subject of education very freely. He told fis of h’is ambition in respect ‘of education, and wh’at could, and would, be done through ‘education, fie said that education would prevent wars, and Would make all men brothers. He also said that i’t would ‘stop people fro’m spitting on the footpath’s in the capital cities. I disagree with hi’s view that education will prevent wars. Senator Mattner took our minds back some centuries ago. Let me remind honorable senators that when Rome and Athens were at their zenith and their peoples the most highly educated in the world the Romans set out to conquer “the world”. I do not believe that education will prevent wars. The view that education will make all men brothers is merely a wonderful ideal. The man who spits on th’e footpath is not of the type to Care very much whether a national university is established at Canberra. However, I agree with the Minister that we must encourage the highest standards of education. He said that this proposal was being opposed by honorable senators on this side of the chamber because it was an innovation. This is not an innovation. To-day, a university exists in each of our capital cities, and we should be “well advised to help those institutions in every possible way.’ Probably, the time will come when we shall see a national university . at Canberra, and I sincerely hope that when that day arrives that institution will be a monument worthy of this nation. I maintain that the time is not ripe for the establishment of a national university at Canberra.
– The old; old story !
-It is not an Old story. Higher education is a necessity arid we favour its promotion. But what ab6ut lower grades of education? What about the salaries of teachers and the housing of teachers? The expenditure proposed for the national university wOuld be far better used foi* the improvement of the primary educational systems of the States. We have heard a great deal about communism in Australia in the last few years; We lire encouraging communism by the way in which we treat our’ existing educational institutions.- Men and women are working “for salaries ‘that -are far, too low for persons ‘charged with ‘the .great responsibility of educating young Australians. We provide them with disgraceful living, quarters in many instances, and school buildings are often dilapidated and inadequate. -I know that the Government “will say that the improvement ‘of primary and Secondary education facilities is the responsibility of State governments. But the money proposed to be “used for the establishment of a national university will come from the people of the States. Everything that we have in our national capital belongs to the people of Australia. Therefore, the proposed expenditure should be evenly distributed amongst the States. The Government might also say that it has not the p’ower to assist the States in this respect.
– It has the .power to establish a .university at Canberra.
-Yes, but theMoney could- be Used in a much better way. The Government may claim bli a it lacks power to do as I suggest, but it seems to be able to do everything that it really wants to do whether it has the constitutional power or riot. I favour the establishment of a national university at Canberra, but not at present. If we can spare this money to assist education, we should devote it to providing better facilities for youngsters iri country areas and tb paying better salaries to teachers.
– Tell that story to Playford. That is his job.
– I am telling it to Playford, to this Government, and “to the people of Australia, The Government wants to erect a monumental white elephant in Canberra. the proposed university would ‘ merely duplicate the work of the State universities, which are doing good work.
– The honorable senator is seeing pink elephants, not white elephants.
– Much is I respect the opinion of the Minister, T remind him that it is not the only possible Opinion. Other people besides himself have the right to think and talk.
The expenditure of £325,000 a year on the proposed university would be better set aside for education in the States. The Government says that the national university will not be able to commence work until 1950 or 1951. ‘ “Why not legislate for next century? Let us take first tilings first, and improve existing education systems so that youngsters may be given a fair chance in life. Those who show ability can go on to the universities in the States and, perhaps, in years to come, to a national university at Canberra.
– I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of this bill to establish a national university at Canberra. The thought predominant in my mind at the moment is that this provides a great opportunity for the people of Australia to perpetuate the memory of our late Prime Minister. It is contemplated that one section of the university shall be known as “ The John Curtin School of Medical Research “. That is a good proposal, but it is not good enough. The university should be named “The John Curtin Memorial University”. No Australian has done more to deserve a memorial than John Curtin, and no memorial would he more appropriate than a national university at Canberra, where he did so much for the nation in the last years of his life. .The Minister should ask the Government to amend the bill to provide that the university be named “ The John Curtin Memorial University “ instead of “ The Australian National University Such a decision would be acclaimed throughout Australia. It would be a worthy, tribute to a great man who died while leading his country out of the dark shadow of war into the clear light of a victorious peace. I listened with interest to Senator James McLachlan and others who opposed the establishment of a national university at this time. I consider that the plan is magnificent and is long overdue. Any man who claims that the State universities are doing a satisfactory job shows ignorance of the problems which beset those institutions. More than 600 students are at present engaged in the first year of their medical course at the University of Sydney. It is impossible to cope properly with such numbers with the facilities- available at that University. We all know that many hundreds of ex-servicemen were unable to enter universities this year because there was not sufficient accommodation for them. For the last twenty years the State universities have not been able to cope with the growing urge of the people to undertake higher education. This bill represents a great step forward. Decentralization of education, like decentralization of industry, deserves the highest praise. The establishment of a university in this, country town - for Canberra is only a provincial centre - will do much to encourage decentralization of education.
The new university will be able to” concentrate particularly on certain avenues of education which are neglected by the State universities. For instance, Australia is playing an increasingly important part in world affairs. We have diplomatic representation in many countries, and this is only the beginning of a movement towards increased and more effective representation throughout the world. At present, our diplomats are selected almost haphazardly from amongst public servants, members of Parliament and members of the general public. A man does not become a good diplomat merely by changing into a dark coat and striped” trousers, as many people seem to believe. . A diplomat i3 a highly trained official. A national university at Canberra would be the logical place to educate men for such important work. There will be a great, increase of population in Canberra in the future, and a large Public Service community will grow up around the diplomatic community. Young men and women are brought here from all parts of Australia and many of them are anxious to fit themselves for important positions. At present they have little chance of securing the education that they require, except by correspondence, which is unsatisfactory. The population and importance of Australia are growing and we must realize that what is sufficient to-day will be inadequate to-morrow. There are too many members of this Parliament who, like Senator McLachlan, say that the time is not ripe for us to progress. They pretend that they are in favour of innovations, but they always append the qualification that “.the time is inopportune”. There are no monuments to .people who have said that “the time is inopportune”. But. there are monuments to men who, having decided that a thing should be done, have said, “Let us do it now”. Those who say that a national university in Canberra would ‘be a grand thing but that it should not be established now, would say the same thing 50 years hence, even on their death beds. Unfortunately, this state of mind is inherent in the conservative and reactionary sections of .our community. When argument fails they fall hack on their old catch-cry. I appeal to the Senate to give its blessing to this bill. A university will do more than anything else to make Canberra the national and cultural centre of Australia. I repeat my appeal to the Government to consider naming the university, “ The John Curtin Memorial University “. Such an act would meet with the approval of every good Australian.
– It must not be accepted that honorable” senators who have commented adversely on the expenditure proposed in this bill are’ opposed to higher education. Senator Armstrong would lead us to believe that Australia lags behind other countries in the field of education. I disagree with that view. We can justly point with pride and satisfaction to Australians who have been educated in this country and who are now holding important positions in many parts of the world.
We all agree that at some period a national university should be established at Canberra for the higher education of the people of this country. We can look back with pride and satisfaction at what has been accomplished in Australia in the realm of education. It may be said, generally speaking, that those who have passed through the universities in the capital cities have done well. The educational accomplishments of the members of the judiciary afford ample testimony to the fact that Australia has nothing for which to reproach itself with regard to the educational facilities provided for the- citizens. In reply to Senator Armstrong I maintain that the question to be decided is not whether the time is ripe to give effect to this proposal. We should consider the necessity for doing first things first. It is intended that nearly £1,000,000 shall be expended on the proposed university buildings, and that £325,000 a year shall be provided for the working expenses of the institution. Those figures are merely estimates, and it is safe to venture the opinion that in all probability the actual cost of the buildings will not be far short of £1,250,000.
It has been said that more money should be expended on primary and secondary education. It seems to me that the money proposed to be expended under this measure could be used to better advantage in giving financial assistance to the State university authorities. Can any honorable senator deny that the provision of houses for the people is a more urgent matter than the adoption of the present proposal, which would divert large sums of money into a channel where it is not urgently required, and slow up the work of constructing houses for the people? A great deal of labour and material would be absorbed in the construction of the proposed university buildings, and nobody would suffer if the project were postponed. If a decision had to be made as to whether the money proposed to be expended should be used in building a national university or in providing homes for the people, all honorable senators would probably decide in favour of house construction. I know that there is a shortage of public buildings, and the proposed university is doubtless desirable, but priority should be given to the housing problem. If the Government considers that we have been remiss in our duty to the citizens in not having given sufficient thought to the claims of higher education, let us assist the States, which are now struggling to maintain their university activities at a proper levelSimilar help could be given to the authorities- responsible for primary and secondary education. The State education authorities could be given financial assistance by the Commonwealth in the provision of scholarships for students in secondary schools. I shall never place obstacles in the way of improvements of the educational facilities of the people.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Collings) waxed eloquent about the bill, and would have us believe that the whole outlook of the people would be changed if the measure became law. He suggested that a great brotherhood of man would prevail throughout the countryside. No other inference could have been drawn from his remarks. All wrongs were to be righted, and the principles of good citizenship, which had been sadly neglected, would be fostered. There is no .justification for that prognostication. Whilst the proposed university would serve ft useful purpose, it is idle to say that the whole outlook and characteristics of the people would be changed by it. This Parliament controls the major financial policy of the country and the State authorities could turn to the Loan Council for financial assistance in the promotion of education. The great problem confronting this Parliament and the State authorities at present is that of providing homes for the people, and until it has been solved the construction of the proposed university should be postponed: If we diverted the money proposed to be expended as outlined in the bill to the building of homes for the people, the subsidizing of primary and secondary schools and universities, the provision of scholarships for bright young students who are not in a position to pay for university courses, the people of Australia would commend our action. I disagree with those who say that the States have neglected their duty to the people in the matter of education, and that Australia has suffered through not having a national university. Australian citizens who have been trained in our schools, colleges and universities occupy many high positions not only in this country but also in other countries. Whatever may be said to the contrary, they are living evidence of the success’ of our education system.
– I see a good deal of merit in the bill before the Senate. After our spiritual welfare and the health of the nation, few matters are of greater importance than the education’ of the. people. I judge this measure more on the basis of our future development than on present- day values. I have sufficient- confidence hi Australia to believe that before long it will have a greatly increased population. Not only will we be able to attract many of our kinsfolk from Great Britain to this country, but I believe that, in addition, many people who have suffered as the result of their residence in the less peaceful states of Europe will come to Australia, not as Dutchmen or Norwegians, but as potential Australian citizens who, within a few years, will become naturalized and will take an active part in the development of the Commonwealth. I believe, too, that because of changing conditions throughout the world, Australia will, in future, be re-“ quired to play a greater part in matters affecting the welfare of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and in international affairs generally, than in the past. Therefore, I consider that the time is opportune for consideration to be given to the fulfilment of the vision of those who planned Canberra and made provision for a national university in the National Capital.- I am not unmindful of the needs of primary education, but, as has already been pointed out, that is a matter for the States. It is fair to say that during recent years there have been clear indications that the States are alive to their responsibility in this matter. That is particularly true of Tasmania and Victoria, in which States there is growing evidence of interest in higher, education. Higher elementary schools, high schools and area schools have been established at suitable centres, and in Victoria free transport is now provided to enable children living in outback districts to take advantage of the better educational facilities available in the larger centres of population. In Victoria, and, I believe, in most of the other States also, the applications from students to enter upon university courses cannot bc coped with. That problem has compelled the University of Melbourne to establish a university college at Mildura. It is clear that, with our natural development and a big increase of population, additional university facilities will have to be provided. I prefer that the money that will be expended in that direction should be expended in establishing a national university at Canberra rather than that it should be used to assist existing universities which are already overcrowded. The establishment of a university at Canberra will assist in solving the problem of providing accommodation for students. That difficulty lias forced many university students in Victoria whose homes are in the country centres to pursue their studies in ‘Adelaide, where the accommodation problem is not so acute. As pointed out by the Minister in his second-reading speech, the proposed Australian National University will provide for post-graduate courses in fields of research which are likely to be of benefit to Australia in the future. Such investigations must be undertaken, and it seems appropriate that the National Capital should, provide the necessary facilities. I am not unmindful of the fact that economics and finance are important matters. If, as I predict, it will be necessary to establish priorities in respect of various undertakings, I should like to see the Australian National University high on such a priority list. As the measure has my blessing I shall not further occupy the time of the Senate in discussing it, but in committee I shall take the opportunity lo make some further observations.
– in reply - Before reviewing briefly the interesting debate that followed my second-reading speech on this bill, I wish to pay a tribute to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) for his interest in education generally, and in particular; the higher forms of education. That interest has been demonstrated in many ways during recent years. The measure which he has sponsored and which is now before the Senate, is, in my opinion, the high-water mark of his endeavours in that field.
The provision of an Australian National University in the Australian Capital Territory is, happily, a matter c oncerning which no constitutional difficulties arise. The position is entirely different when we come to consider benefit: to students, family allowances, and other matters which will be included in the forthcoming referendum. The Commonwealth lacks constitutional power to operate in those fields-. It has no power to enter the field of education, except in the way that has been suggested during this debate, namely, by making grants under section 96 of the Constitution, either with or without conditions. That, I submit, is not a satisfactory way for the Commonwealth to participate in matters affecting the education of the people’; it should not have to use its superior financial power to force standards and conditions on others. Accordingly, with the Constitution as it is, plenary powers in respect of e’ducation must remain with the States.
In reviewing the comments of honorable, senators during the debate I naturally have in mind the remarks of my very good friend, Senator Leckie. On Wednesday last the honorable senator made the most extraordinary of his many extraordinary speeches. He commenced by congratulating me upon the introduction of the first measure of which I have been in charge in this chamber. For that kindly courtesy I thank him sincerely. He next expressed the hope that all the measures that I might introduce would have as speedy a passage as he hoped would be given to this one. The honorable senator went on to, say that he approached the bill sympathetically; but all I can. say regarding his approach is that the sympathy very speedily evaporated, and the approach itself was quickly converted into a retreat from everything that this bill is to provide. There was a complete change of face and pf heart in the honorable senator’s approach. In fact, if it could be regarded as an approach at all, I can only say that it was the briefest one on record. The honorable senator then embarked upon trenchant’ criticism of myself for introducing a measure that he had prepared me to believe would have his approbation and assistance in speeding it On its way through this chamber, and proceeded to present a completely false view of the purpose of this legislation to the people of Australia. Either the honorable senator had not resolved his thoughts on this bill when he began to speak or, in common with the rest of us, he suffered some degree of nervous tension on the occasion of our first public broadcast to the people of Australia. Perhaps he was altogether too air-minded and, although believing that the measure had merit, was not prepared to concede to the Government the credit that is due to it for taking this, very progressive national step. Whatever inspired, or failed to inspire, the honorable senator, apparently repenting of his sins, he came before us yesterday and made an explanation regarding a term that he had used in his second-reading speech. He had said that the measure was full of crudities. Yesterday, a week later, he felt obliged to withdraw that remark. That was all to the good; but I am afraid that the honorable senator failed to make his position very much better, because he has still allowed other statements infinitely worse than that to remain unaltered. For instance, he has not withdrawn his statement that the bill is “ pretentious and unreal “. He is in the position of a man who has called somebody a “confirmed thief, liar and “murderer “ and then, when his charge has been objected to, has withdrawn the word “ confirmed “. In support of his argument that the bill was pretentious and unreal, the honorable senator pointed as an example to the -name that had been chosen for the university. I would say the mountain had laboured and brought forth a mouse.
– And a very small mouse.
– Exactly. I agree that the name is important, and . I am prepared to concede to the Senate that there is room for a difference of opinion as to whether this institution should be called the “ Canberra University “, the “ University of the Australian Capital Territory “, or the Australian National University, the name that finally has been assigned to it. Whilst de*aling with this minor point, I draw attention to the fact that the practice throughout Australia in regard to the naming of universities varies. There are three universities named after the capital cities in which they are situated, and three others, namely, those of Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland, that bear the name of their respec tive States. I believe that a happy choice has been made in this instance. lu any case, some difference of opinion on that point certainly did not justify the terms that the honorable senator applied to the whole bill.
Senator Leckie also complained of the expenditure of £872,500 upon the erection of a national university. This, he said, was shocking at a . time when ‘ housing was so badly needed throughout Australia. The honorable senator must have realized that he was not putting the position in its proper light when making that statement. Every one knows that finance is not a difficulty in connexion with the. erection of homes. Unlimited finance is available for this purpose. The only difficulties are those associated with the supply of materials and skilled labour. .Moreover, Senator Leckie spoke as though this money were to be expended forthwith ; then, in the next breath, he complained that the bill itself provided that a start was not to bc made until 1951 or 1952. Both statements are incorrect. There is no intention to expend this large sura of money immediately. The method of procedure has been determined by “an interdepartmental committee, which was guided by other committees of experts .and scientists. The money is to be apportioned under three headings, namely, buildings, furniture and equipment, and, finally, the library. It will take the council, when it i.-: appointed, considerable time to go through the preliminaries, establish the convocation, select administrative officers, prepare plans, select a research staff, send members of it abroad to be trained in research work, and do all the other spade work required. Considerable time will . elapse before any capital expenditure is required: As I said in my secondreading speech, the total sum required will not he sought in any one budget, hut will be spread over a number of budgets and this Parliament will have an opportunity to consider the allocation of -that money. I refer again to the suggestion by Senator Leckie that there would be some retarding of housing activity if this money were allocated. That is quite untrue.
Senator Leckie also objected to . Canberra as a suitable site for medical research. In that respect, all I can say is that his opinion is at variance with that of an expert committee, comprised of some of the most highly qualified men in Australia. When there was some slight difference of opinion amongst members of that committee they were confirmed in their outlook by no less a person than Sir Howard Florey, the eminent scientist. There is a strong body of medical and expert opinion that there is no more suitable place for research than Canberra itself. Oxford University, for instance, is in a better position for research than Sydney Uni1 versity. In Sydney and Melbourne where there are vast numbers of students there can be no personal relations between teachers and students, very little team work, and I venture to say very little association between the students themselves. My own experience, going back to the early 1920’s, when I went through various law schools in Victoria, was that I Spent four years without even reaching a nodding acquaintanceship with many of my fellow students. When one comes to research - and the emphasis is to be on research in this institution - residential accommodation or quarters will be required, so that Australians may live together, team together and think together, I can imagine no more suitable place than the Australian National Capital for work of that nature.
There is, I regret to say, an unfortunate tendency on the part of some Australians to decry everything Australian whether it be our mode of life, our products, or our institutions. I believe quite frankly that most Australians are proud of all those things, and I deplore the fashion of decrying everything that is Australian. There is an unexampled opportunity for the Senate to be unanimous in supporting this measure, free of party considerations. If. the measure does not deal specifically with primary education, at least it is the medium, through which we may expect rapid progress, rapid development, and the efficient handling of problems peculiar to Australia. In considering this project, one must bear in mind its fruits. It will be the teacher of our most intellectual, and the centre of our post-graduate courses. It. will prepare the teachers for our other universities and colleges. . It will prepare teachers for medical colleges. Its ramifications will extend to every school of education, even into primary schools. It will constitute a standard for other universities. It may perhaps coordinate their activities in the manner suggested by Senator O’Flaherty, who spoke of the varying standards of instruction in Australian universities and the lack of reciprocity between them. A university such as we envisage in this measure will help to foster Australian’ national sentiment, pride, and ideas. It will bring to fruition the visions of the fathers of federation when they decided that there should be such a place as a National Capital. 1’ a in certain that they envisaged the National Capital as the cradle of the Australian national sentiment that they hoped would be born in this country. I have said before, and I make no apology for repeating - i.t now, that true Australian national sentiment was not born but only conceived with the advent of federation. It was born in the travail and adversity of the war of 1914-18, and now it. is reaching adolescence. Every, honorable senator should regard it as his primary duty to foster and- encourage that spirit, and to bring it to maturity. In preparing the way for the establishment of a national university, a truly Australian conception dealing not only with the needs of its locality,’ but expanding to meet the needs of the whole community, we have an unexampled opportunity to speed the development of that national spirit.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Collings) gave to us in his speech the benefit of his profound thoughts and very highsouled utterances; and I’ am happy to be able ir. s;>y that T have received many letters and (a :munications from people in all parts of the Commonwealth making congratulatory reference to his contribution to the debate. Senator Tangney made the very useful suggestion that a school of literature be established at the university. I make it clear that the Government is not seeking to lay down the lines along which” the university shall develop. That will be left entirely to .the council which, as honorable senators will . notice, will be very representative. The Government has, no intention of directing the council at all. The council may set up all these research schools, or any one of them, or abandon all of them and proceed along different lines. After all, the proper function of a university - and I think every university in the world was established and proceeded along these lines - is to start slowly and to gather momentum in meeting the needs of-, the- community in which ir finds itself. It may be that those who constitute the council, which will include two honorable senators, will in their wisdom be able to steer this uni-‘ versity in accordance with the needs ofthe times. I believe that the university will develop upon lines which will make us proud to have been associated with it in its initial stage.. It will be for the council to determine whether a school of literature should be instituted. I join with Senator Tangney in hoping that that will be done.
Senator O’flaherty referred to the lack of reciprocity between certain universities i.n respect of various subjects. To my knowledge a high degree of reciprocity has already been established between the universities; but in certain cases the courses prescribed for students vary greatly between two universities although the- subjects are given the same designation. That leads to the difficulty to which the senator has drawn attention. I believe that an Australian National University, generating and holding the prestige which I hope this university will enjoy, will he one which can deal with the universities of Australia on at least an equal basis, . and be in the very happyposition to co-ordinate their activities and obviate the various, difficulties which O’Flaherty has indicated.
Senator Brand struck a happy note when he said that Canberra was a suitable place for research. In Canberra we already have research for ‘ forestry, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the School of Astra-physics at Mount Stromlo Observatory; and now we hope to add to those institutions in the fullness of time this Australian National’ University.
The construction of the university buildings will not be proceeded with to the detriment of housing. But it is very necessary to prepare our plans carefully and to provide for a sufficient lapse of time. 1 assure the Senate that the Government will pay due regard to the primary claims of the housing needs of the people. There is so much planning to be done, however, that it is necessary to make a start and get the project under way in the near future. An additional reason for urgency is this: The Government hopes that the council of the university will be in a position to attract toits professorial staff certain eminent scientists who are now abroad, and some of whom reflect great lustre on the teaching of this country. It is necessary that some approach be made to them by somebody authorized to speak for the university in the near future. Otherwise^, their services and the services of other outstanding scientists and men may be lost to this country.. That is an additional reason why we should not allow from four to six years to elapse, as certain senators have suggested, before we do anything at all.
When Senator Mattner was speaking I am sure that he had no realization of what the Government has already done in the sphere of higher education. The Government has paid fees and allowances in> respect of 9,000 men attending the universities in Australia. It has provided! subsidies direct to each of the six universities. It has already advanced tothose universities £1,500,000 to enable accommodation to be extended and furtherplant and equipment to be provided. The money which will be expended in 1946-47 on buildings alone at the six State universities will amount to approximately £800,000. In addition the payment of fees and subsidies direct to those universities will account for another £2,000,000. Accordingly Senator Mattner’ssuggestion that we should reduce, the proposed annual grant to the new university by £50,000 and distribute that sum annually for research to the various universities, falls far short of what we are already doing and what we have already planned. ‘ Apart from what T have told the Senate, the Commonwealth now provides £52,000 per annum for research alone at the six existing universities in the fields of physical science and social. science. Therefore, I may claim that this Government has shown full appreciation of the needs of higher education, and of the need to extend the universities in the States as well as to build its own university in the Australian Capital Territory. Altogether, it has made a most generous contribution to thecause of higher education.
Senator Nash raised a very interesting point when he spoke of the need to establish scholarships. The tragedy in Australia in the past, and the greatest barrier to research, has been the absence of’ assistance in that form for post-graduate work. The sum of £325,000, whichit is proposed under the measure to make available annually, will be very largely expended in the provision of scholarships and fellowships, and allowances to graduates who will be attending the new university. That will prevent those men, as has been happening in the past, from obtaining scholarships which necessarily take them abroad, and thereafter, not returning to give the benefit of their knowledge and experience to this country. I assure the honorable senator that that phase of the matter has been fully considered by the sponsors of this proposal, and I trust that a very generous proportion of the £325,000 to be made available annually will be apportioned for that purpose. Senator Armstrong suggested that the university might be named the “ John Curtin Memorial University”. That is a worthy suggestion which, even at this late stage, I shall convey to the Government, but 1 believe that something of that nature has already been considered. However, 1 point out that the name of Australia’s late Prime Minister will be perpetuated in one of the very important research schools to be established.
To-day our universities are overcrowded with students, and professorial staffs and their assistants are overworked. Consequently, there is a very grave neglect of’ a very important field, that of research. This university, if it develops, as we hope, will rectifythat deficiency. It will be for the council to determine whether under-graduate facilities should be provided at the new university. I think that such facilities, inevitably, will be provided because the Canberra University College, which is already functioning, provides a nucleus for that purpose. That body is affiliated . with the University of Melbourne, at which its studentstake their degrees. The Council of the University “College is most enthusiastic about this project, and I anticipate that that college will be the first of many which will group themselves around the parent university with each college developing its own spirit and approach to the university and its problems and the community in which they are established.
I pay a tribute to the officers who, under the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, have given a good deal of thought to the preparation of this measure and the machinery required to set up the Australian National University. I mention particularly Professor R. C. Mills, Dr. Coombs, Mr. Goodes, an Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, Sir George Knowles, Professor Bailey, Sir Robert Garran and Mr. C. S. Daley of the Department of the Interior. With the permission of the Senate I incorporate in Hansard the following list of names of scientists who were consulted by the inter-departmental committee in respect of the project.
Committee on the School of Medical Research -
Dr. F. M. Burnet, Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute.
Dr. S. McCullum, Commonwealth DirectorGeneral of Health.
Sir Alan Newton, member of the Central Medical Co-ordination Committee and Chairman of the Medical Equipment Control Committee.
Professor H. K. Ward, of Sydney University.
Professor R. D. Wright, of Melbourne University.
Committee on the Research School of Pacific Affairs -
Dr. J. W. Burton, of the Department of External Affairs.
Professor R. M. Crawford, of Melbourne University.
Dr. Ian Hogbin, of Sydney University.
Colonel J. K. Murray, Administrator.
Professor G. L. Wood, of Melbourne University.
Committee on the Research School of Social Sciences -
Professor F. Alexander, of the University of Western Australia.
Professor S. J. Butlin, of Sydney University.
Dr. K. S. Cunningham, Director of the Australian Council for Educational Research.
Sir Robert Garran.
ProfessorG.W.Paton,of Melbourne University.
Dr. Roland Wilson, of the Department of Labour and National Service.
Committee on the Research School of Physical Sciences -
Dr. G. H. Briggs, Chief of the Division of Physics, National Standards Laboratory.
Sir John Madsen.
Professor L. H. Martin, of Melbourne University.
Dr. D. F. Martin, of the Radiophysics Laboratory, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Dr. F. W. White, of the Council for Scientific and’ Industrial Research.
Dr. R. v. d. R. Woolley, Commonwealth Astronomer.
This committee has consulted with -
Professor T. M. Cherry, of Melbourne University.
Professor E. K. Bullen, of Sydney University.
Professor A. L. McAuley, of the University of Tasmania.
Dr. H. C. Webster, of the University of Queensland.
I believe that the Australian National University will be a great institution of national importance. It will provide outstanding teachers for the most intellectual young men and women of Australia. It will be a very useful contribution to community service. It will leave on its students its own imprint of character and quality. In addition,it will provide competent teachers for other universities and schools, and will help gradually to raise the standards of conduct, character and culture in this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses. 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Establishment and incorporation of University).
. -Will the Minister in chargeof the bill indicate who were the members of the committee responsible for proposing the name “ The Australian National University “ ? Or, was that decision made by Cabinet? Were any other names proposed; if so, what were they?
. As I said in my second-reading speech, considerable difference of opinion existed in respect of the matter he has raised. However, I am at least able to say that not all members of the Cabinet favoured the name that was chosen. There was a difference even in the Cabinet. My own view is that the matter has been thoroughly considered, and the principle followed in selecting the name is supported by the practice adopted by universities in three of the States. I believe that the name is distinctive and bears the advantages which I mentioned in the course of my second-reading speech. I regret that I cannot at the moment supply the names of all the scientists, or experts, who-‘ suggested the name.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Functions of the University).
.- I have indicated that, accepting the principle that a university at Canberra is necessary and that now is the appropriate time for its establishment, the bill shows signs of careful preparation and considerable knowledge of other universities. However, some honorable senators apparently have a misconception of the meaning of paragrapha, which states that one of the functions of the university shall be to encourage and provide facilities for post-graduate research and study. The burden ofmany speeches has been that the youth of Australia will be educated at the university. I cannot agree that post-graduate training involves the training of youths. One honorable senator’ also said that education at the university should be Australian in outlook. If we set out to make education national in outlook, we shall confine it to very narrow limits. Education has no boundaries; it is international. Furthermore, if we decide that all post-graduate work must be done at the new university, thus preventing our most brilliant students from working with the students of other nations, the establishment of the institution will be little short of atragedy. I hope that the government has no such intention-. In spite of what the Minister has said, I am still gravely doubtful as to whether certain phases of the post-graduate research work proposed to be done at the university can be done in Canberra. Considering medical research, three great scourges of the human race immediately come to mind, namely, cancer, tuberculosis and infantile paralysis. Students will not be able to carry out research into these diseases unless they have patients to study and examine. Canberra is known to be one of the healthiest communities of its size in Australia. Therefore, in order to carry out research into many diseases it would be necessary to bring patients to Canberra and to pro-x vide accommodation for them here. I do not agree with the Minister that the objects set down in the bill will be achieved. Australia has not neglected higher education, except in a few respects, but it has neglected primary education. One honorable senator said that 600 students were engaged in their first year of study in the medical course at’ the University of Sydney. He implied that the establishment of a university at Canberra would relieve Congestion in Sydney. That is not so. The first essential -of a medical course is the presence nearby of a large metropolitan hospital to provide plenty of practical examples for students. I fear that many honorable senators who expect great things of the new university will be gravely disappointed. If the Minister returns to Canberra 25 years hence and reads the report of the speech which he made to-day, he will be astounded to realize how greatly his opinions have changed in -the meantime. He will be disappointed that many things which he had expected to happen have not occurred, although, no’ doubt, he will be gratified that some of his prophecies have been fulfilled. I repeat that it would be a grave mistake to attempt to carry out post-graduate research work here without keeping in touch with developments in other countries. Although it is a deplorable fact that competent men who have been trained in Australia have left the country and have not returned, I consider that it would be advantageous for brilliant students to go to Vienna, for instance, to study research in eye diseases, or to other European centres of learning. There should be an interchange of views between our research workers and those of other nations. 1 am sorry that some honorable senators consider that” I am opposed to the advancement pf higher education. That is not true. I had the advantage of attending a university, and, therefore,’! have some knowledge of this subject, and do not approach it in the same frame of mind as certain honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber. I hope that the expectations of honorable senators opposite- will be realized, but I warn them not to expect too much. Australians must not be led to believe that the establishment of a national university at Canberra will be the ultimate achievement in educational progress in this country.
Senator. A. J. FRASER (Victoria) [5.581 - I hoped that the Minister (Senator McKenna) would reply to Senator Leckie’.s remarks, and say whether this clause will enable the interchange of views with other countries .which the honorable gentleman considers to be so important. I do not believe that the Government intends post-graduate research work to be confined entirely to the national univer sity. Such work can still be carried on, at the State universities, and it will still be possible for students to go overseas to pursue their studies.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Minister for -Health and Minister for Social Services) r8.0”. - I assure Senator Leckie that I bad every intention to reply to his remarks, but my attention was attracted by an attendant when the honorable senator ‘resumed his seat. He formed the impression that the Government proposed to concentrate oh the development of the particular type of education that might be styled Australian education. Tt is unfortunate that that impression has been created. I thought that emphasis was placed on the development of an Australian national spirit, but that had nothing to do with the form of education to be undertaken at the proposed university. I pointed out that there would be a liaison with research workers overseas in certain respects, and that we proposed to send our research workers abroad in order to obtain, first-hand knowledge of the progress being made in scientific research. I- then said that the Government desired to obtain the services of eminent scientists from abroad. That would establish another liaison. The .council of the university will adopt a continuous process in that regard, as it will be necessary to keep abreast of the latest developments in research .throughout the world. That is an aspect of education in which Australia has been sadly deficient up to the present and that, gap will be bridged by the proposed university.
It is only reasonable that we in Australia, in our .research work, should concentrate, particularly in the early stages, upon problems peculiar to this country. In our medical research I think we should place less emphasis on diseases like smallpox, which is not prevalent in Australia, although it rages in countries adjacent to our shores, and place more emphasis on the maladies mentioned by Senator Leckie, such as tuberculosis, infantile paralysis and cancer. The honorable senator raised doubts whether adequate research could be conducted in Canberra on subjects of that nature. I confess that I .am not competent to express an opinion on the* matter. I accept the view of the experts’ who have advised the Government regarding it, and that view has been supported by no less eminent an authority than Sir Howard Florey. The doubts of the honorable senator on that point could be dismissed, in view of the fact tha.t the Government has not proceeded hastily, but has had the benefit of- that expert advice. The Government will not take any part in influencing the development of the proposed university. It will be for an expert council to determine which fields of research shall be entered on, and in which order the various elements of research shall be undertaken.
Another point raised by Senator Leckie related to the congestion which is apparent in other universities throughout Australia. It will be for the council to determine whether the Australian National University shall develop on undergraduate lines, either wholly or partially, and whether quickly or at a slow pace. No influence will be exerted by the Government on this body other than such influence as may be brought to bear by the two members of the council from the Senate and the two from the House of Representatives. It may be that in the fullness of time the undergraduate aspect now founded in the Canberra University College will achieve such prominence that it will attract students from other States. I hope that it will . achieve such fame throughout Australia and the world that we may even attract students from overseas. That would be a very desirable development. I gather from what Senator Leckie has said that he now feels disposed to support the bill. I value that support, if I have interpreted his intention correctly. I now find that he has retreated from his retreat, and accordingly he has established an interesting position in a double negative. I take it that he is now advancing with the supporters of the bill, in order to pass it through its remaining stages. I welcome the honorable senator’s support, and congratulate him upon his conversion.
– I trust that the high hopes of - theMinister (Senator McKenna), and other honorable senators, will in the course of time be realized, and that students will come perhaps from other States and overseas. I have vivid recollections of the high hopes held out about 1928, when the Australian Forestry School was established, at Westridge, Canberra. “When the school was opened, it was expected that students would come to it from all parts of Australia.
– And they have.
– It was to be a central school of forestry that would, give a lead to the forestry schools in the States, but it has had a most dismalrecord.
– The honorable senator is’ wrong in saying that.
– No. I have been interested in the school ever since its establishment. At first it was impossible to get students for love or money, whilst the forestry schools in the various States,, particularly that at Creswick, Victoria^ are flourishing. I hope sincerely that the expectations with regard to the university to be established under this measure will be realized, but I do not think it will undertake post-graduate courses in my time.. Canberra should have educational facilities similar to those in the capital cities of the States, but we shall have to proceed slowly. The bill provides for a step in a right direction. I am not a pessimist, but, having regard to the record of the Australian Forestry School, we will do extremely well if half the expectations regarding the proposed new university are realized.
– I hope that the hopes expressed by honorable senators regarding what may be expected of this proposal are based on sounder premises than those on which he offered his remarks oh the Australian Forestry School. A great measure of success has been accomplished in the Australian Capital Territory with regard to afforestation. As the result of both practical and theoretical work carried out, large pine forests have been established, and forestry work has been done here equal to that accomplished in any of the States. The flooring timber in all the houses now being built in Canberra consists of pine grown in the local “forests. For four and a half years I was ministerial head of the Australian Forestry School, and I know what I am talking about. The school has produced some exceptionally good foresters and, if it has not been overwhelmed with students, it should be remembered that for six years there was a world war. “We had a fine assembly of students prior to the war, but they sought permission to enlist in the fighting services and were allowed to do so. That in itself shows that a fine spirit was developed at the school, and holds hope for the future as to the kind of spirit that will be infused into the educational life of Australia by the proposed university. No honorable senator who loves culture and higher education should fail to reply to base charges such as those made by Senator Sampson.
– Senator Leckie’s conclusions with regard to research students are based on false, premises. He seemed to think it imperative that every State university should be able to send its students to the Australian National University for the purpose of research, but all of the universities throughout the Commonwealth will still have the right to award scholarships for research in overseas universities. We hope to see schools of research established at Canberra which will compete with schools overseas, and at the same time will derive benefit from research carried out abroad. In the course of time, this will prove of greater value to the community than some of the research work undertaken abroad, because the investigations made in Australia will have a more direct bearing on local conditions. As to the suggestion that the establishment of a national university will not relieve the congestion of medical students in their first year at the University of Sydney, it must be remembered that that university has practically a century of tradition behind it, whereas the Australian National University cannot be developed overnight. When a school of medicine is established at Canberra which can compete on the same footing, as the University of Sydney, we shall find that students will come to Canberra.. We cannot expect immediate alleviation of the congested conditions in the State universities. Senator Leckie said that students did not return to Australia, after having undertaken research abroad, but I contend that it would be to our advantage if.they returned in order to give to us the benefit of their research. We shall induce students to return to Australia and so enable the country to benefit from their riper experience and increased knowledge only if we offer to them conditions equal to those offered in other countries. I am convinced that if conditions were made sufficiently attractive many students who have made their mark abroad would be only too pleased to return to the Australian National University to give of their best to their country.
.- I thank the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) for his reply to the secondreading debate and for the suavity with which he delivered his speech. He has set an example which might well be followed by other Ministers. I feel, however, that his suavity was not exceeded by his sense of fair play. I cannot allow to pass without protest his repeated remark that I had retreated from, and apologized for,_the attitude I had adopted towards this bill. I said that, as the Parliament had decided to establish an Australian National University my only desire was that it should justify the Minister’s highest hopes. My fears still remain, however; I am puzzled to know where Senator Tangney got the impression that I had said that the universities in the several States would be debarred from undertaking research and carrying out post-graduate work once the proposed university was established. I cannot imagine how any words of mine could have been construed in that way. I now assure Senator Tangney that my understanding and common sense would not allow me to fall into an error of that kind. The honorable senator is labouring under a misapprehension. So that there shall be no misunderstanding regarding my attitude towards this hill, I repeat that, as the second reading has been agreed to, and, as I have no objection to its machinery provisions, I wish the university success. I hope that those who will control it will take notice of the things to which I have directed attention, and that the highest hope of the Minister will be realized. I point out, however, that those hopes have been based mainly on the success of Sir Howard Morey.
Clause agreed to. “
Clause 7 (Research schools).
– This ‘ clause provides for the establishment of various research schools. [ should like to have seen an additional paragraph intimating that a research school of international affairs was in the mind of the Government. The Minister will probably say that there is nothing in the measure to prevent such a research school from being established, particularly in view of the provisions of Clause 8, but realizing that in the years to come this country will be called upon to play a greater part in international affairs, I am of the opinion that provision should be made for the proper -study of international problems. The need for such training is emphasized by the fact that Australia has appointed trade commissioners, Resident Ministers and ambassadors to various countries, and will probably make further appointments of that nature. The persons appointed to such position, or at least, the members of their staffs, would he the better qualified for their important duties if they were to undergo a period or training in international problems. Having in mind the importance of such studies, I regret that there is not specific mention of a research school of international affairs in this clause.
– I welcome Senator A. J. Fraser’s contribution to the discussion. As Australia is playing an increasingly important part in world affairs, it certainly is desirable to focus attention on that aspect of our activities. I again point out that the -setting up of’ any of these schools will be a matter entirely for the council of the proposed university. I pointed out earlier that a university grows in accordance with the needs of the moment and the needs of the people; its growth is gradual. It may be that the council, when appointed, will elect to establish a research school of international affairs, either in the near future or at -some later time. I shall draw the attention of those responsible to the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– Paragraph a of this clause relates to a school of medical research to be known as “ The John “ Curtin School of Medical Research “. I have no desire to detract from the excellent record of the late John Curtin as Prime Minister of Australia, but I point out that there have, been other Prime Ministers since the seat of government was transferred to Canberra, who, in my opinion, also are -deserving of having their names associated with a school of - research. Among .’them I include the first Prime Minister to reside in Canberra, Mr. S. M. Bruce - a man who has given wonderful service to Australia, but whose name is not mentioned in this clause. I draw attention also to the splendid record as Prime Minister of the late Mr. .J. A. Lyons, who “held that high office for many years. Although he also rendered outstanding service to
Australia ‘ his name is not mentioned. Other Prime Ministers since Canberra became the centre of the legislative activities of the Commonwealth include Mr. . R. G. Menzies, Sir Earle Page, Mr. A. W. Fadden and Mr. J. H. Scullin, each of whom is deserving of recognition. I suggest, with respect, that it is not right to single out one former Prime Minister for this signal honour.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 (Constitution of Council).
.- This clause - provides that the council shall consist of not more than 30 mem- ‘ ber3, and that of that number, two shall be members of the Senate elected by the’. Senate, and two shall be members of the House of Representatives elected by that House, lt would appear that a mistake has been made, for surely equal representation of the two Houses of the Parliament i§ inconsistent with legislation which was passed recently. It would appear that, in this instance, the opinion of people outside the Parliament has been accepted. Naturally, they would agree that the Senate is at least equal in importance to the House of Representatives. 1 am glad that by accepting that outside advice the Minister has shown his high opinion of this branch of the legislature. I draw his attention to this matter so that if a slip has been made in granting equal representation to the two Houses, he may have the clause amended.
– I have no desire to make any change.
– Sub-clause 8 provides that three members of the .council shall be appointed or elected to represent the professorial and teaching staff of the university. As the total membership of ‘ the council may be 30 members, three members does not appear a sufficient number to represent the professorial and teaching staff. I know the danger of having too many professors associated with the control ‘ of a university, because, however eminent they may be in their professions, they are not always practical men. I say that without meaning any offence. My first impression was that there was danger of too much influence by the staff of the university, but that does not appear to be the case on further examination of the clause, although, as convocation may elect .to the council not more than nine members, the way is open for more than three members of the teaching staff to be elected. I want to guard against having too much university influence on the council and also against having too little such influence. If under sub-clause 5 it is intended that additional professors or members of the teaching staff’ shall be appointed to the council I think that their number should not exceed five. That is a fair proportion of the 30; but there is a danger both ways, and I should like to know if the Minister has any information about that matter. Probably all universities at times have had the experience, of being rather over-influenced by the .lecturers or professors. In this case, I should like a clear course to be steered between too many representatives of the lecturing staff, and too few. . I am drawing attention to this matter in the hope that we shall be able to do something to avert dangers that are inherent.
– I welcome the approbation of Senator Leckie regarding the provisions of sub-clauses 2 and 3. Provision is made in sub-clause 8 for three representatives of the professorial and teaching staff. As Senator Leckie has said, membership of the council may be as high as 27, to which number there may be added a further three. The council will determine whether these three shall be drawn from the professorial staff. I am confident that we can safely leave that to the discretion of the council. I point out that in a council of 26 at the Sydney University there are five members of the university staff, and at the Melbourne University, where the council numbers 32, there are also five. So far as the Australian National University is concerned, it is proposed, after conferring with the authorities of theother universities, to limit the number for the time being to three, with the possibility that the council itself may determine to add to the number. I believe that there is sufficient safeguard there to meet the two possible difficulties that are visualized by Senator Leckie.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 34 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
-FOOD FOB BRITAIN.
Debate resumed from the’ 5th July (vide page 22S2), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That this Senate is of opinion that, to ensure the supply of foodstuffs to the underfed people of Britain, any sacrifice on the food front by the Australian people is justified, and that the Government should take immediate action to increase the production pf food of all kinds, and that to this end the primary producers be encouraged and assisted to the fullest extent.
– In my remarks prior to -the . adjournment of this debate some weeks ago, I mentioned the assistance that had been given to Great Britain by the Dominion of Canada in the way of food gifts and facilities for finance to purchase food. I had hoped that before the resumption of this debate my request for a statement- by the Treasury as to what assistance had been given to the Motherland by Australia would have been met, so that I could have compared that with the effort that has been made by the Dominion of Canada. Unfortunately, I arn not able to make that comparison, as there is no record of any statement being, made by the Treasury on the lines I have suggested, and I can only hope that more will be done by this country for such a well-deserved cause so that we as a people may claim an honoured place equal to that occupied by citizens of the Dominion of Canada.
The difficulties caused by the fact that many foodstuffs, such as Australian wheat, are not being sent to the United Kingdom at all, because of the method of distribution adopted could be surmounted to a. degree by making an outright gift of foodstuffs to the Mother Country. The citizens of Australia have given a lead by making a voluntary effort to alleviate the desperate food position in the United
Kingdom. Individuals have been sending parcels to relatives and friends, and the collection pf funds for the purchase of foodstuffs has been efficiently organized on a purely voluntary basis. However, in addition to that voluntary effort, I believe that it is highly desirable that the Commonwealth Government should make a gesture to the people of Great. Britain by making an outright gift of, say, £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 worth of foodstuffs. I am sure that the people of this country would wholeheartedly support any such action by the Commonwealth Government. We would then have the feeling that not only were we playing our part individually, but also that Australia as a member , of the British” Commonwealth of Nations was doing its best to augment the scant ration at present available to the British people - so scant, in fact, that a person arriving from another world might well be excused for asking whether Britain actually had won the war. After six years df trials and tribulations, the British people now have to face a new rationing horror that we in Australia were never called upon to face, namely, the rationing of bread. I assure honorable senators that even “during the war the bread eaten by the people in the Mother Country was of the worst type that it has ever been my lot to eat. It looked and tasted horrible. The inclusion of a high content of potato, rye and barley flour and God knows how many admixtures under the guise of flour, made a loaf which we in Australia would hesitate to give to a dog. But, after their long years of privation, the people of Great Britain must now face the fact that this extremely repugnant loaf is to be rationed. I do not believe that any other country has succeeded in extracting a higher content of flour from wheat than was achieved in Great Britain during the war. Prior to the landing at Gallipoli, the dark rye bread we had to eat in the Grecian Islands was the worst we had ever tasted, but even that bread was more palatable than some of the bread we had to eat when I visited Great Britain during the war. In those circumstances, a gift of foodstuffs from Australia, including a substantial quantity .of our nutritious Australian wheat, would hearten the British^ housewife .more than any other article of food. Therefore, I urge the Government to do something along the lines I have suggested.
Australia could also make a substantial gift of meat to the people of Great Britain. I am still not convinced, as> I have seen no evidence to the contrary, of the truth of the astounding statement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator .J. M. Fraser), and apparently culled from a report of the Nutritional Committee in London, that the people of Great Britain are now enjoying 78 per cent, of their pre-war ration of meat. Such a statement is too ludicrous to gain credence in this chamber. I. am afraid that one of the assistants who helped to compile that report must have been an official of Australia House, whose previous job had been to take stock of Mr. Beasley’s own private supply of provisions. I cannot imagine that that committee could make such a statement, in view of my personal experience in Great Britain during the war; and the position, if anything, has since deteriorated.
– When was that statement made?
– On the 5th July last. I again urge the Government, to give official recognition to the voluntary and very commendable efforts of our citizens in sending food parcels to Great Britain to augment and vary the diet of the British people’ by making a substantial contribution of foodstuffs to the Mother Country, particularly of meat and wheat. ‘
– The motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) reads : -
That this Senate is of opinion that, to unsure the supply of foodstuffs to the underfed people .of Britain, any sacrifice on the food front by the Australian people is justified, and that the Government should take immediate action to increase the production of food of all kinds, and that to this end the primary producers be encouraged and assisted to the fullest extent.
Ostensibly, the motion is submitted for the purpose of directing attention to the need to send as much food as possible to Great Britain ; but to any honorable senator who followed the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition as closely and as critically as he should, it was obvious that the Leader of the Opposition was not so much concerned about increasing food supplies to Great Britain as he was to attack Australian workers and indulge in superficial theatricalism with the object of discrediting the workers of this country who did such good work during the wa.r. About 3,000,000 food parcels have been sent by individuals in Australia to Great Britain since the cessaton of hostilities. Had additional facilities been available, that quantity would have been considerably greater. There can be no doubt about the desire of the Australian people to do all they possibly can to send additional food supplies to Great Britain, but the people of this country cannot be blamed for the fact that adequate facilities’ were not available for that purpose. They cannot be blamed for the fact that, for the best of reasons from the viewpoint of the British Government, more liberal conditions cannot be made to enable, them to do so.
– What does the Minister mean by “facilities”?
– Bigger parcels could be sent at cheaper rates, but the British authorities have limited the weight of parcels and fixed the charges. Apparently, the real problem is one of distribution of the parcels in Great Britain. The point I wish to emphasize more than any other is that the motion would imply that the people of Australia lack proper appreciation of the position in Great Britain.
– That is my opinion ; and it is fortified by the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition in attacking the workers of this country. For example, he said -
Because of strikes ships have not been able to load meat and have had to go to New Zealand to obtain it . . . During the last month or six weeks we have experienced one of the most deplorable meat strikes in Brisbane that has ever occurred in this country.
I: is obvious that what is intended by the motion is not so much to direct attention to the scarcity of food in Great Britain and the need for Australia to send more food to the Old Country as it is to attribute to place the blame upon the workers who have, gone on strike in this country. There is a good deal of loose thinking as well as loose talking about strikes. In my judgment, strikes are caused mostly by provocative and incompetent management, just as wars originate as the result of actions of provocative or incompetent governments.
– Doc3 that observation apply to the recent meat strike in Queensland?
– In that instance, had the employers exercised tact and been sympathetic and genuinely anxious to prevent a strike they could easily .have done so. Strikes are not peculiar to Australia. They are a common occurrence in almost every country, more particularly in those countries which are highly industrialized. Where ji few employers have dictatorial powei-3 and are prepared to use them against the interests of the workers, strikes will inevitably occur; they are the inevitable outcome of provocative or incompetent management. I ask honorable senators to compare the working conditions in coal mines in New South Wales with those enjoyed by the miners in the mines of the Zinc Corporation Limited at Broken Hill. At the latter mine,, The men work under comparatively ideal conditions. I visited that mine in May last and spent half a day underground. I have had considerable experience in gold mining, although very little experience in coal mining. In the mines of the Zinc Corporation Limited at Broken Hill conditions underground are almost as safe and as clean as those in underground railways. At one time that mine was notorious for the dangerous conditions under which the miners worked, but today there has been a complete change. One can enjoy a meal 2,800 feet below the surface in just as much comfort as on the surface because the air below is pure, and there is no dust. The Leader of the Opposition endeavoured to attribute our failure to send more food to Great Britain to the occurrence of strikes.
– He said that merely in passing.
– He intended to make a scathing and convincing indictment of the workers, but his attack was far from convincing. It was merely so much theatricalism for propaganda purposes. It was a wholesale condemnation of men without a proper inquiry and without any effort being made by the honorable. gentleman to establish the relationship between cause and effect. At Broken Hill, men work in the mines at contract rates which are arrived at by conference and- agreement; In addition to the contract rates, the men were being paid a bonus of 15s. 6d. a day when I was there in May. Their conditions of work were ideal in comparison with the conditions under which coal-miners work. In my judgment, the conditions in coal mines could be made just as good as those at Broken Hill.
– It is suggested that’ that is the case already.
– The reverse is the case. Consider the conditions of miners at Wonthaggi. There, men worked throughout the war standing in icy slush from 18 inches to 20 inches deep.
– And they worked continuously under those conditions for five years.
– That is so. Those conditions could have been avoided. Had the. men gone on strike, as they were entitled to do in the circumstances, 1 can imagine that honorable senators opposite would have condemned them without giving a thought to the cause of the trouble or without suggesting that the conditions should be improved. I consider that it is more than ‘ a coincidence that strikes should occur just prior to the general elections. It will be recalled, that strikes also occurred in Great Britain immediately after a Labour government had come into office. Strikes cannot be avoided unless managements are sympathetic and, above all, competent. Where there is provocative or incompetent management, as there is in the New South Wales coal mines, on the waterfront, and in other places, there will always be strikes.
– Surely the Minister does not refer to all New South Wales coal mines?
– No, but in nine out of ten mines where strikes do not occur, the management ‘is found to be more sympathetic and competent than in mines where strikes do occur. Primarily strikes have their origin in inefficient management. I emphasize, that fact in order to combat the arguments advanced by the Leader of the » Opposition, who claims ipso facto that men who go on strike are entirely to blame. I point out that the coal-miners in New South Wales are under the obligation not only to earn their own livelihood but also to provide royalties and dividends for a large number of persons who contribute nothing towards the mining of coal. Strikes’ are inevitable in such circumstances. I believe that, if the Leader of the Opposition and his supporters were in the same position as the coalminers, waterside-workers, _ or meatworkers in Queensland, they would do exactly what those men have done. Employers have far too much power to hire and “ fire “ at their own sweet will. That is one reason why strikes occur. The average employee working for the average employer has no voice 1at all in deciding the conditions under , which he shall work. An employer may please himself whether hie allows a man to work or discharges him. This gives rise to considerable irritation. The trouble in Queensland arose, according to press reports, because four men were discharged on the ground that their work was not satisfactory. The men considered that their work was satisfactory. The employers were adamant and so were the workers. A trial of strength took place, and resulted in incalculable loss and inconvenience to the general public. Had proper machinery to control this sort of thing existed in Queensland, the strikes would not have occurred. .
Consider the dispute that was reported in New Zealand on the day that the motion now before the Senate was submitted by the Leader of the Opposition. According to the Melbourne Argus of the 5th July, New Zealand wharflabourers refused to load butter for America. They claimed that the butter should be sent to Great Britain instead of to America. They could obtain no satisfaction, and so they decided to hold up the shipment. Had I been one of [ill] those workers I would have taken a similar stand.
– Then the Minister is opposed to law and order ?
– No, I am not opposed to law and order. I am opposed to the people who make the laws and then abuse them.
– In this instance, the Minister is apparently criticizing the Labour Government of New Zealand.
– No. The butter was not owned by the Government.’ It was privately owned. There were 16,000 cases to be sent to America, .and naturally the waterside-workers asked: “ Why are we sending this to America when the people of Great Britain need butter?” No explanation was forthcoming. The men were entitled to be informed of the reason. They are men just as we are, and should not be ignored, either as workers or as citizens. They are entitled to be considered in the same way as employers. They should not be expected to .act on the assumption that the employers can do no wrong. Very naturally they decided to . hold up the shipment until a satisfactory explanation was given to them.
– Was their question .answered ?
– Yes, The answer was that America was making available to Great Britain an equivalent quantity of fats. < _ Then -the workers asked : “ Why should not America use its- own fats ? “. That was a pertinent question. My point is that it is unreasonable to expect thousands of men to carry’ out the will of employers against their own views without friction or delay occurring. The report in the Melbourne Argus went on to say that. the Prime Minister of New Zealand, speaking on behalf of the Government, had stated that the price to be paid by America for the first consignment of 10,000,000 lb. of butter was 2s. 9d. per lb., New Zealand currency, compared with the price of ls. 8d. per lb. paid by Great Britain. It appears that, notwithstanding the desperate need’ of the British people, for butter, the owners were sending it to America because they could obtain a higher price from that country than from Great Britain.
– Surely the Minister, knows that butter is acquired on behalf of the Government of New Zealand under National Security Regulations? Senator CAMERON.- I know that the people of Great Britain need butter and that butter was to be sent to America because a higher price could be obtained -there than in Great Britain. That was tantamount to the owners of the butter saying to their own kith and kin: “ Because you cannot pay a higher price for our butter than America you can go without it “.
– Surely the Minister realizes that he is criticizing the Labour Government in New Zealand?
– I am not criticizing the New Zealand Government. The position is that a government, by the laws which it makes, delegates certain powers to employers who, for all practical purposes, act dictatorially in their dealings with employees. In this case, the butter was owned privately, not by the New Zealand Government. Because the owners were able to secure a high price in America they decided, without consultation with the Government- -
– That statement is totally erroneous.
– It may be erroneous in the honorable senator’s opinion, but it. is not erroneous in my opinion. I am dealing with the position as I know it.. It will not be denied that the men protested against the butter being sent to America when, in their judgment, it should have been sent to Great Britain. The honorable senator may ask: “What right had the employees to interfere and dictate to the employers? “. I say to him that he is destined to be disillusioned if he thinks that the workers of New Zealand, or of any other country, can be controlled along such lines.
Take another example of the causes of industrial disruption. In the United States of America, prices controls were removed recently with the result that the purchasing power of wages was considerably reduced. This act represented an interference with the workers’ right of access to the means by which they live.
What remedy do they have against such an act? Similar acts have been committed, in many countries, including Australia before the Labour party came into power. The only remedy is to go on strike. The workers are not able to appeal to a court to prevent inflation. They may appeal to their government, but if the Government refuses to act and allows them to be fooled, ruled and robbed from the cradle to the grave, what can they do ? What would the honorable senator do in similar circumstances? He would take some action.
– I would take action similar to that which this Government now proposes to control, the coalmining industry.
– I am speaking not of the coal mines, but of. the causes of strikes, and I am directing particular attention to ‘the effect on the workers of currency inflation such as has recently occurred in America. I am trying to establish the fact that strikes are the effect of grossly incompetent or grossly provocative management. When the management is what it should be, strikes do not occur. We can hardly imagine public servants, whose working conditions, on the whole, are satisfactory, going on strike.
– The transport workers in Canberra threatened to do so.
– I could imagine public servants doing that, if they were being unjustly treated. They are . treated better than other workers as a general rule, because they are comparatively indispensable. The honorable senator who hasinterjected has been on strike, - and he lost his job. because of it.
-1 - That statement is erroneous and untrue.
– The men and women in industry who are treated worst of all are those who are dispensable, and those who are indispensable are treated best. It is considered by many people’ that waterside workers are not entitled’ to as much consideration as members of the Public Service, because they are not indispensable. If they were treated with1 as much consideration as is shown to public servants there would be few strikes.!
That’ remark has general application to the lower-paid workers. I emphasize thematter of strikes because of- the way in which- ft was emphasized’ by the Leader of the Opposition’.. In my judgment he used this motion as a means of making, an attack on workers who go on strike.
The Leader- of the Opposition had a good’ deal to say about Communists. I hold no brief for1 them,, any more than I db for honorable senators on the opposite side of’ the chamber: Communists are the product of: certain- conditions, and. they doi not” make those- conditions.
- (Senator the Hon. Gordon- Brown).. - I hope that the Minister intends- to connect his remarks with the motion before the- Chair:
– The Leader of the Opposition- stated that Communists are. responsible for the strikes which are taking place. In saying that the honorable senator gave the Communists more credit than they deserve. If there were no shortage of houses, the people would not listen to the Communists who complain about the shortage.
– The Communists have caused the shortage.
– No, it has been caused by governments with which the Opposition has been connected. It3 policy is to keep houses in short supply in order that rents shall remain as high as possible.. The Opposition also wishes to keep dilapidated houses in commission.
– What has. the Minister been doing with regard to it for many years ?
– Exposing people like the members’ of the Opposition. That is why I am a member of this chamber, and why honorable senators opposite will be defeated at the next elections. It may seem that my remarks are irrelevant, but this motion was made for an alleged altruistic purpose. The Leader of the Opposition professed to be concerned about the interests of the people of Great Britain, but his whole speech was an unprovoked’ attack on those engaged in production who have given of their best during the war years. The workers of Australia have more than held their own with the people of other countries in both primary and secondary industry. Although- our working personnel’ was- reduced to the- absolute minimum during tHe> war, the value of secondary production increased by 69 per. cent. That gives some- idea of the way in- which the workers whom the Leader, of the Opposition condemned’ responded” to the call at a time of great nationalstress. If the employees on- the waterfront, and those w.ho man- the ships and mine the coaL received fair, treatment,, which they will ultimately get; there would be no. strikes. So long as there is divided and conflicting, control in the coalmining industry, inflated overheadcharges and enormous wastage- of manpower, the ‘ friction that results ‘ in loss of coal, production will continue. Only when we treat men as. we should like to be treated ourselves shall we remove the causes of strikes.
If strikes .are to become things, of the past, we must have more democratic control than, at present, of primary and secondary production. As long as the coal-mining industry is controlled by a few men who act in a dictatorial manner there will be strikes, and’ they will occur when it suits the convenience of the few men who cause strikes for the purpose of discrediting a Labour government, or for other political purposes. It is much’ more than a mere coincidence that strikes occur either immediately before or after the elections: In almost every instance where I have been closely associated with negotiations in connexion with industrial disputes, it has been- disclosed that disputes have their origin in the way in which industries have been managed. Only after negotiations, and possibly’ appeals to the Arbitration- Court, do the management relax and industrial peace for the time being prevail. If there is . any more talk about strikes by honorable senators opposite, I hope they will- speak more intelligently than previously. The Leader of the Opposition contributes nothing of value in saying that the Government should take its courage in both hands. What does he imply that the Government should do? Does he mean that workers who go on strike should be bludgeoned, shot or imprisoned, as in the past? We have had men thrown into prison, but strikes still occur. In view of our experience, particularly during the recent war, a much more intelligent approach should be made to this problem. We should try to imagine ourselves in the position of coal-miners, waterside workers or seamen, particularly during the war years. If I am a reasonably good judge of human nature, exactly what those men have done is what honorable senators opposite would have done in similar circumstances. .
– They would lead the workers in revolt.
– I could imagine Senator Leckie leading them.
– That is a figment. of the imagination.
– Either the Leader of the Opposition and his followers are too ignorant to understand my point, or they are determined not to understand it. Their criticism, slurs and sneers will not get them anywhere. They should adopt a more sympathetic attitude to the workers than they have in the past.
– The. Minister ‘ is becoming annoyed.
– No. I am trying to bring home to the honorable senator the position with which he is faced. He wants food for Britain and more clothes and houses for Australia, but he will not -get them until he cultivates a more intelligent attitude in dealing with these matters. If honorable senators opposite understand human nature as well as they understand machinery we would get along much better.
– They think, that the human being is a machine.
– They do not treat human beings as well as they treat machines. If honorable senators opposite, who condemn the men on strike, really understood human nature, or were prepared to treat men as they treat their machines, there would be very little friction in industry, and few strikes would occur. More food for Britain can be obtained only by providing better conditions for workers in primary and secondary industries, including men on the waterfront and those who go down to the sea in ships. Better conditions must be provided for them, not only in Australia, but also in other countries. Unless something be . done in that direction, , condi tions will become . worse ; but if action along those lines be taken,’ there will be a progressive ‘ improvement of conditions in industry, and strikes of which we have heard so much will become things of the past.
. I had hoped that the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) would tell us what the Government has done, and intends to do, to provide more food for Britain, but there has been almost a conspiracy of silence regarding this matter. About a month ago, I asked a question which had as its foundation the proposal to ration bread in Britain. I asked what the Government proposed to do to increase food supplies -to Britain, and .1 received the stereotyped reply that the Government was giving consideration to the export of food to the United Kingdom.. It is significant that Ministers have refrained from supplying figures showing the quantities of food sent to Britain, and I am reluctantly compelled to conclude that they show almost a complete indifference te the plight of the British people. Had the Government so chosen, it could have supported what nature has done, and what Australians are willing to do, in. the way of providing large quantities of foodstuffs for our kinsmen overseas. This is a matter that is exercising the minds of. many people in this country. The motion has drawn from the. Postmaster-General a series of piffling statements regarding strikes. He evaded the real issue. At one time I thought that he would suggest that the people of .Britain should have a feed of zinc: As soon as the war was over, and the people of this country learned what Britain had faced, and was still facing, because’ of a shortage of food, the generous Australian spirit manifested itself in a great wave of sympathy. It did not stop there, but was expressed in action. We have been told of the millions of parcels that have been sent to Britain by private citizens of the Commonwealth who were determined that they would make some contribution to ease the situation. Decent citizens of all classes rose to the occasion, and “ Food for Britain “ appeals sprang up throughout the Commonwealth almost overnight. But did the Chifley Government assume leadership, and call for a vast production drive, oi do any of the things that any Australian Government worthy of the name would have done? It did not. On the contrary, it caused a statement to be broadcast in -which opposition to the appeals for parcels of food for Britain was expressed. I heard the broadcast. The official spokesman was supported by a Minister of the present Government. That happened about seven months ago. Excepting for blather by some Minister on the subject of food for the underfed people -of Britain, and an appeal from the Minister for the Army (Mr. Forde) to “ the workers “ to “co-operate in despatching food “ when there were meat, shipping and coal strikes, the Government has not lifted a finger. Its record in this matter is’ black. Compared with that of the New Zealand Government it is feeble indeed. In meat exports to Britain alone since January of this year, New Zealand has a record of 500,000 tons. Last February, the Prime Minister of- New Zealand set up a national committee for “ voluntary saving pf food for Britain and other overseas countries “. . By May of this year, after the campaign, had been in operation five weeks, 1,651,000 citizens of New Zealand had surrendered 1,0S5,537 meat and butter coupons. That represented a week’s ration for 250,000 people. Coupons are still being received in increasing numbers. The efforts of the people of New Zealand are backed by the Prime Minister of that dominion and his Government. He promised that the Government would stand behind any worth-while scheme to send more food to. Britain, and he has kept his promise. There is, in New Zealand, a national drive to save fat, so that Britain may have more tallow. The sister dominion is aiming at impressive increases of - all essential- foodstuffs. A comparison of New Zealand’s efforts in this direction with our efforts in Australia is humiliating. Australia has about 13,000,000 cattle compared with about 4,500,000 in New Zealand, and there are 1.22,000,000 sheep in Australia whereas New Zealand has only about 32,000,000 sheep. Yet since January of this year New Zealand has ‘ shipped to Britain about 500,000 tons of meat. All that the Commonwealth Government has done is to blather about a target of 300,000 tons by the end of this year. If the efforts of the two dominions are compared it will be seen Australia has made a poor effort/ All decent Australians are filled with a sense of shame. The Australian people have sufficient imagination to understand what Britain is going through. There are many in this country who know what Britain did for Australia and the rest of the world in 1940 and subsequent years. If given a chance, the Australian people would throw themselves into a Food for Britain” drive- that would be astonishing. But they have not been encouraged by the Government to do so. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) visited the United Kingdom a few months ago, and although he was there for only a short time he must have seen the sad plight of its people.- Yet when he returned all he could say was, “ Things in Britain are pretty tough “. He let it go at that. Such a state of affairs is not good enough; we must do better. If the Prime Minister had had ,any vision or imagination, he could have done great things; the people were only waiting for him to give them a lead. He failed to initiate a movement to send a worth-while gift of food to the people of Britain. By God, they deserve it.
– This is one of the most extraordinary debates to which I have ever listened, in this chamber. Never previously have I heard so much hypocrisy presented so blatantly to the Senate. After six years of war, members of the Opposition now make impassioned appeals of the kind that we have heard to-night, but one has only to look at the speakers to see that those appeals come from their heads, not from their hearts. We must remember that the parties now in opposition were in power during the period to which Senator Sampson has referred to-night. A nonLabour government was in office at the time of Dunkirk, and after.
– I spoke of what should be done now.
– The honorable senator would like to forget the past, but I shall not allow him to do so.
– I am concerned about the present and the future.
– The Commonwealth has earned the praise of the world for what it has done to feed starving peoples,’ but because a Labour government is in power in the Commonwealth, ‘ honorable senators opposite set out to decry Australia’s achievements. Before I conclude I shall show that the praise which people in other countries have showered on Australia is well deserved. When the Labour Government assumed office, stocks of foodstuffs and clothing in this country were in a deplorable state. . There had been a demand that the decreasing supplies should be fairly distributed throughout the community - in other words there had been a demand for rationing - but the government then in office, which was formed by the political party of which Senator Sampson is a vociferous member and the party associated with it in opposition to-day, took no action. It dodged the issue.
– I was not in the Parliament at that time.
– I am speaking of the party to which the honorable senator belongs. Despite the public demand for rationing, the then government would not introduce it because, in its own words, rationing would be “politically dangerous “. It feared the loss of seats at the next elections. Then what happened ? The Labour Government led by its late Prime Minister, John Curtin, appointed the Rationing Commission, consisting of three men, to set up an’ organization for the rationing of foodstuffs and clothing in this country. He asked Mr. A. W. Coles, then the independent member for Henty in the House of Representatives, to be chairman of the commission, and ex-Senator J. A. Spicer and myself .to be members. Ex-Senator Spicer actually attended the inaugural meetings of the commission which carried out the preliminary planning of the rationing organization; but he made it clear that he was not sure at that time whether he would continue to be a member of the commission because that matter would have to be determined by his party.
– A caucus meeting!
– Yes. The party met, and ex-Senator Spicer informed his colleagues that he had provisionally accepted an appointment to the Rationing Commission in view of the fact that the Labour party was anxious that the commission should be a non-party body. The party meeting decided that ex-Senator Spicer would have to decline appointment to the commission because of the political danger of rationing; yet members of that same party, deep-dyed in hypocrisy, are proclaiming in this chamber tonight that Australia is not doing sufficient to ease the food shortage in Great Gritain. To complete the story, exSenator Spicer did not attend any further meetings of the Rationing Commission. However, the Government, anxious to retain the non-party character of the Rationing Commission,’ because it believed that the task of imposing rationing upon the people of this country should be divorced entirely from party politics, then approached another member of the United Australia party, the former member for Martin in the House of Representatives, Mr. W. V. McCall, with a request that ‘he . accept membership of the commission. Mr. McCall stated publicly that the ‘ Labour ‘ Government was giving him an opportunity to. do a war job, and he was thankful for that opportunity and would be pleased to become a member of the commission. When he appeared before his party caucus, a determined effort was made to force him to resign from the commission, but he said that he would not do so. He felt that it was one way in which he could serve his country. Mr. McCall remained on the commission, which has been a non-party body ever since. We all remember those days - that is, all of us who care to, and have the political honesty, to think back. There are .others, of course, who were afraid to face the necessity of rationing, and choose now not to remember. What is the true story of the Australian Government’s efforts to assist the people of the Old Country? Every citizen of the United Kingdom with whom a visitor may converse - members of the Opposition as well as Government supporters have had an opportunity fo visit Great Britain in war-time- is thankful for the great efforts that the Australian people have made to send to that country all the foodstuffs that could be spared. Of course, everything we send overseas does not go to Great Britain itself. In fact, a great ileal of what we save in certain lines goes to our sister dominion of New Zealand. One particular item that we export to Vew Zealand is rationed in this country but not in New Zealand. .
– What is that?
– Sugar. One result of this is that in New Zealand hotels are open all day. Honorable senators from Western Australia have been making great efforts to’ secure a greater allocation of sugar to the breweries of that State so that more beer may be produced ; but from the point of view of beer consumption, Western Australia is better off than any other State.
– What is the alcoholic content of New Zealand beer?
– I do - not know what it is now, but up to three years ago it was greater than that of Australian beer. The more sugar that is used in the process the greater is the strength of the beer produced because sugar is the fermenting and fertilizing agent. I have no doubt that New Zealand is doing its best to send foodstuffs overseas, and I do not wish to detract one iota, of the credit that is due to that nation. Before the war New Zealand was a great meat exporting country, and probably its only market was Great Britain. New Zealand has continued to supply that market to the ‘best of its ability. The name Canterbury lamb has become a symbol of high-grade lamb throughout the world. That was the back-bone of the New Zealand export trade. Throughout the war, New Zealand has continued to send large .quantities of meat to Great Britain, but meat rationing in that Dominion is not so severe as it is in this country. Severe rationing of meat, butter, sugar, and tea has been imposed in this country. Recently the former Director-General of Unrra said that only two nations in the world had maintained war-time restrictions in order to send food to starving Europe. These were Australia and the United Kingdom. In the case of Australia, war-time, restrictions on butter have even been increased so that every possible ounce may be exported. In addition, of course, many thousands of pounds worth of foodstuffs have been sent from the people of this country to relatives and friends in Great Britain as individual gifts. Air carriers have, left our shores loaded with parcels for the people of the Homeland. There cannot be any doubt about the suffering of the British people to-day, and, I have no doubt, it is the. wish of every Australian citizen to relieve that suffering to the greatest possible degree, but to charge this Government with having -failed to do everything possible over the years to improve Britain’s food position is blatant political hypocrisy. As I have said, the United Australia party - now the Liberal party - deliberately withdrew its representative from the Rationing Commission because it regarded rationing as a’ political danger. The anti-Labour administrations in office in the early months of the war were not courageous enough to introduce rationing. Even after the war had been in progress for two years, nothing had been done ; but when the Labour Government which has been so bitterly attacked in the course of this debate purely for political propaganda, endeavoured to face the position, little or no assistance was given by the then Opposition. The state of this country at the time of the introduction of rationing was such that the first job of- the commission was to ensure that there was adequate food and clothing for the civilian community, so sadly had the stocks of these goods been depleted. Had rationing been held off for another three months, the position would have been desperate. There had been set up by a previous administration the Department of Supply, the function of which was to ensure that the requirements of the services were met. It did that job well; but it was an easy job, because the civilian pool of commodities could be raided. When Labour assumed office, and appointed the Rationing Commission, one of its responsibilities was to throw the responsibility on the Department of Supply to make certain that adequate supplies were available not only for the armed services, but also for our civilian population.
I have no wish to speak at length on this matter, but I felt that I should tell the true story, including the manner in which the Opposition tried to sabotage the inauguration of rationing, which was urgently required in the national interest. The civilian community in this country has done an excellent job. In the ration of foodstuffs allowed to the Australian people there is nothing to spare. It is true that Australia is in a better position than many other countries, but one has only to read the many thousands .of letters received by the Rationing Commission to realize the great difficulty that is being experienced under the present rationing scale. Thousands of civilians are suffering hardship. Some members of the community are fortunate in that they are able to have meals away from home, but others, mainly working-class families, members of which have most of their meals at home or take meals from their homes to their place of employment, are enduring extraordinary hardship. I repeat that the people of the United Kingdom are loud in their praises of the efforts of the Australian people to send to Great Britain all the foodstuffs that they can reasonably spare in order that they may show their appreciation of the great fight put up by the British people during the war. We hope that it will not belong before the fruits of victory that have been so well earned by the British people will be theirs to enjoy. The dark days that we all thought would end with the fall of Rome, Berlin and Tokio, have not yet passed. We cannot but admire the spirit of the British people who have voluntarily reduced even their meagre war-time rations .in order that pestilence shall not arise from famine in Europe, as was the’ case after the last war. They realize that their own safety lies in preventing starvation in Europe, thus avoiding an epidemic which would sweep across their own country as it did after the war of 1914-18. They have done that voluntarily for the good of the world and for their own good ; and I have heard from thousands of British people - it is a shame that we cannot hear it echoed by some honorable senators opposite - their sincere thanks to the people of Australia for what they have done for the people of Great Britain.
– I did not intend to speak on this subject. I assumed that the matters under consideration were matters concerned with present-day affairs, and that our discussion would not deal with events of years ago. I’ am astonished at the speeches made by two honorable senators opposite. ‘ The Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) sought to justify the Government’s failure to send food to Great Britain by supporting the action of strikers in this country. He spent half an hour attempting to justify every strike which has occurred in Australia. What his remarks had to do with the subject under discussion, I do not know. Senator Armstrong dealt with events which took place nearly five years ago. I am sorry that his recollection of those events is not a little nearer to the facts. Honorable senators will recall that before the Labour party assumed office - that is, before Japan entered the last war - abundant supplies of foodstuffs existed in Australia. We had plentiful supplies of food and textiles. At that time the tea-growing countries had not been overrun ; and plenty of sugar was available, because Fiji, J ava and other sugar-producing countries had not been overrun. When Senator Armstrong says’ that preceding governments should have introduced’ rationing years bel ore it was introduced and at a time when we had abundance of food which we could not ship overseas because of the hazard of submarines, does he expect the people to forget the conditions which existed at that time? Rationing in Australia has nothing to do with the subject of the motion before the Chair. Senator Armstrong endeavoured to justify our failure to send, more food to Great Britain oh the ground that Great Britain was sending food to other countries. He praised Britain’s generosity in that respect, and that praise was well deserved; but it is absurd to say that we should not send more food to Great Britain because Britain is sending food .to other countries. The fact of the matter is that at present we have an abundance of foodstuffs. For this time of the year, meat supplies are unprecedented in the history of this country. We have an over-abundance of meat at present. If a campaign were launched to gave animal fats in this country, we could send thousands of tons of fats to Great Britain. We’ could spare large quantities of food of all kinds. The Government takes credit to itself for the fact that private citizens in Australia are sending food parcels to the people of Great Britain. The fact that they were able to purchase such food proves that the food is available here. However, the Government has left to private citizens the job which it should have done, and which it could do much more graciously to help the hungry people of Great Britain. Honorable senators opposite are condemned out of their own mouths when they claim credit for the efforts made by private citizens in sending food parcels to Great Britain. Honorable senators opposite claim that no food was available to be sent to Britain, and that had it been available sufficient ships could not be obtained to transport it overseas. When ships were made available the Government took no action to see that they were fully loaded with foodstuffs. I had hoped that the motion would have been debated on the basis of Australian sentiment towards the Old Country, recognizing that our people can, and desire, to spare all food not essential to their well being in order to help the people of the ‘Old Land. The# motion has not. been debated from that” point of view. The motion, .which speaks for itself, implies that if more severe rationing is necessary in Australia to enable more food to be sent to Great Britain, the people of this country are willing to submit to it. At the same time, our people want- to be assured that when they submit to rationing, the . food thus made available will be sent to Great Britain. But it is not being sent to Britain. Whilst- recognizing the achievements of the present Government - and it is not to be condemned for all its actions - there is in its inaction in this respect something which is not Australan in sentiment or fair to the people of the Old Land. Although Senator Armstrong would naturally hear private people in Great Britain thank private citizens in Australia for the dole they were sending overseas, the people of Australia know that, in this matter, the Government, unfortunately, has failed because it “has not been wholeheartedly behind their efforts to send food to Britain.
– The’ honorable senator is indulging in a little election propaganda.
– Honorable senators opposite cannot get away from elections.
– We got away from the last elections very nicely.
– Instead of sending more food to Great Britain, .the Government proposes to send the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Collings). How that will help the people of Great Britain I do not know. Neither do I know how the attack made by honorable senators opposite on New Zealand will help, the position. Let us attend to our own job, which is to spare every ounce of food we can for the people of Great Britain who are suffering great hardship. Unless the Government uses all its power to do so, and, if necessary, even asks the people of Australia to submit to further restrictions, it will not be doing its duty to the people of the Homeland in their hour of trial.
– Senator Leckie insisted upon, confining the debate to the subject of the supply of food to Great Britain, but. he did not explain where we were to obtain the food about which he spoke. During the course of his dissertation he became very excited, and complained that Senator Armstrong had dealt with events which took place some years ago. He said that we were concerned with what the Government was doing now, not with what it had done in the past. I propose to tell him something about the things which the Government has done, and to. give details of the tonnages of food which it has despatched to Great Britain.
– Senator Leckie is well aware of those facts.
– I shall do no. harm if I remind him of them, because, in his excitability, I have no doubt that when he goes on the hustings he will take a deep breath, puff’ out his chest, and tell his hearers what Victoria has achieved
On tie food front. But he . will not mention that Victoria has done those things under a Labour administration. The honorable senator said that when ships were available we could not, or would not, load them with foodstuffs. That is a remarkable statement in view of our heavy loss of shipping during the war. The honorable senator did not tell us what vessels were allowed to leave this country without being loaded fully with foodstuffs. He ignores the fact that all food ships are under the direction of the British Ministry of Food. He did not name any ships which he said the Government had not loaded with foodstuffs. He knows as well as any other honorable senator that,: despite delays, the food eventually was shipped to Great Britain. The shortage of shipping is still our greatest difficulty . in this matter. Indeed, we feel that shortage ‘ very severely on the Australian coast, particularly in respect of the transport of coal which is required for the production of many classes of foodstuffs. Neither the present Government, nor its predecessors, can be blamed for that shortage. It has been caused solely by losses sustained during the war. That is why the British Ministry of Food has taken over the direction of all ships for the transport of foodstuffs from Australia. It arranges to load consignments in Australia and sends them to the nearest importing countries in order to save time and secure a quicker “ turn-round “ of ships. That is. what is happening, but the Opposition will not tell that to the people. Honorable senators opposite referred to the quantities of foodstuffs produced in Victoria, for instance, but they did not give any credit to the Government for. having directed the production of those commodities.
– Did it?
– All of its efforts seem to be directed to the. restriction of production.
– That is not so. I ask the honorable senator to pause and consider what has happened in the wheat industry.. Who was instrumental in securing phosphatic rock, in having it processed and in .providing subsidies to the growers to enable them to buy it at a fixed price so that they could, produce more wheat? That was all done by this Government.
– Merely because it happened to be in power at the time.
– Why not be honest about it? There is no need to be shifty. The honorable senator admitted that the Labour Government does some good some times, but he was careful not to mention anything good that it has done.’ It has so .organized the primary industries that) notwithstanding droughts, some crops have been produced in greater quantity than ever before, although manpower is below normal strength. For instance, the production of butter and cheese has been subsidized by the Government so that the yield in low production areas has increased considerably. More butter and cheese is being produced in South Australia now than at any previous time.
– Then why not send’ it overseas?
– It is being sent overseas. I shall cite the figures later. The honorable senator knows the facts as well as I do. He is trying to make us believe that the Government is at fault because we are not allowed to send more individual parcels to people in Great Britain. Every honorable senator opposite who has spoken in this debate has raised that point. That is the honorable senator’s argument, is it not?
– No, I did not mention that.
– The honorable senator has twisted. -He specifically mentioned it.
– There is nothing to prevent private parcels being sent.
– Senator Leckie suggests that the Government should arrange for more private parcels to be sent.
– The Government should ship the food instead of leaving the job to private individuals.
– But the honorable senator said that the Government should organize a drive to increase the number of parcels sent privately to Great Britain.
– Order! The honorable senator must address himself to the Chair. It is not in order for him to be constantly arguing with another honorable senator.
– Honorable senators opposite argue that insufficient food is being sent overseas and they complain because the Government will not allow greater numbers of private parcels to be ‘ sent to individuals .in Great Britain. This matter involves the problem of shipping space. The Postmaster-General has stated that over 3,000,000 parcels have1 been sent to Great Britain from Australia since the cessation of hostilities. That proves that facilities have been provided for the sending of private parcels. However, the British Ministry of Food has discovered that more food can be sent in bulk than in private parcels.
– That has been my argument all the time.
– Well, the Government is doing that. The Opposition has “ squealed “ because the permissible weight of private parcels has been reduced from. 11 lb. to 7 lb. of food. This has made no difference to the total quantity of food shipped to the United Kingdom. The quantity that cannot be sen,t by parcels will be exported just the same, because most foodstuffs, particularly fats, are rationed here, and the surplus will be available for export. No honorable senator is opposed to supplying as much food as possible to Great Britain..
I take exception to the terms of the motion submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, which states that the Government should take immediate action to increase the production of foods of all kinds and that, to this end, the primary producers should be encouraged and. assisted to the fullest extent. It is ridiculous to tell the Government to .take immediate action, because it has taken action already. I remind honorable senators again that shipments nf food from Australia are controlled by the British Ministry of Food, which so organizes transport that. it. r;m make use of shipping space to the fullest degree.
For instance, if the Ministry has an opportunity to secure 1,000 tons of wheat from Australia and another consignment of 1,000 tons from Canada, it arranges for the Canadian wheat to be shipped to the . United Kingdom and for the Australian wheat to be shipped to some nearer country that is in need of food. For instance, by sending the Australian consignment to India it is possible to assist that country’s starving population and at the same time make the fullest possible use of such shipping space as is available. Two trips can be made between Australia and India while one is being made between Australia and Great Britain. Also the journey from Canada to Great Britain is shorter than that from Australia to Great Britain. I now direct the attention of honorable senators opposite to the quantities of foodstuffs being produced in Australia for export. During 1945-46 we exported 1,500,000 tons, of wheat and flour. Admittedly a large proportion of this has been distributed by Unrra, but that was arranged by the British Ministry of Food. Honorable senators opposite referred to the meat strike in Queensland, hut they did not say that any ships had left for Great Britain without meat as the result of that strike. In fairness- we must consider the quantities of meat that have been exported to Great Britain. During 194-H, 300,000 tons of meat, carcass weight, will be exported under contract, as compared .with an average annual export of 237,000 tons for the three years immediately preceding the war.
- Senator Sampson wanted the facts, ‘but now he is not here to hear them.
– Honorable senators opposite say things and then run away. He who fights and runs away will be a coward another day. . A total of 115,000 tons of butter, cheese and processed milk will be exported, during 1S46. The average annual total for the three years preceding the war was 112,000. tons.
– In spite of the shortage of shipping!
– Yes: Eggs have been scarce in Great Britain for a considerable’ time, but that is not the fault of this Government.’ This year, we shall send to Great Britain eggs in shell and in powdered form equivalent to a total of 1,500,000 cases of eggs in shell. The average annual total for the three years preceding the war was 400,000 cases. The present rate of export has never been equalled in the history of Australia. The Government has taken special trouble to carry out the organization necessary for this effort. It has installed machinery for the pulping of eggs,’ again at the behest of the British Ministry of Food. There is no point in the requests made by honorable senators opposite for immediate action. The necessary action has been taken. The only difficulties remaining are those caused by shortages of man-power and of shipping space. Honorable senators will recall that, when the Prime Minister returned from his recent visit overseas, he announced that he had offered a quantity of surplus sugar to Great Britain, but that the British Government could not accept it because of shipping difficulties. The British Ministry of Food secured supplies from other countries, and advised this Government to send its surplus sugar elsewhere. That is why sugar is being exported to New Zealand and other places. Apart from’ exports controlled by the British Ministry of Food, the Government has shipped overseas 200,000 tons of sugar and 52,000 tons of dried fruits.
– Dried fruits .have been rationed.
– Yes, they hy ve been rationed severely in Australia. I: has been almost impossible to secure dried fruits here, and local consumption hp= decreased by 5,000 tons a year, thus increasing the surplus available for export. In spite of all these magnificent achievements, the Opposition claims that the Government’ should take immediate action to assist Great Britain. The Government has been acting all the time, and it will continue to do so. Australia is not a great rice-producing country, -but the Government has curtailed the distribution of rice in Australia in order to provide supplies for countries in the Pacific area. That has been done at the request of the Allied nations, through the British Ministry of Food, and about 15,000 tons of rice has been exported. Who made provision for the extensionof rice-growing in Australia, despite State opposition, and curtailed supplies for home consumption, so that more rice might be made available to the British Ministry of Food ? It .was the Commonwealth Labour Government. It has done the very things which the Opposition professes to’ be indignant about. It is not surprising that Senator Armstrong has referred to the hypocrisy of honorable senators opposite. To-morrow, perhaps, they will tell us that the price of wheat for home consumption should be increased, because of the shortage of’ food in Great Britain, and the higher price paid in the United States of America. We should not exploit the difficulties of Great Britain that were born of war.
– The honorable senator does not grow wheat.
– I have grown foodstuffs that have been exported overseas to Great Britain since the beginning of the recent war.
– Does the honorable senator still grow them ?
– Yes ; I have a crop in this year, and I worked night arid day to get it sown. Although people such as honorable senators opposite are always traducing the efforts of the people of Australia and of the Australian Labour Government, there are others who recognize the good qualities of the people and Government of this country. Unfortunately, we have to go outside this chamber to find people of the. same trend of political thought as members of the Opposition, who have made statements about the creditable work of our people. In April, 1946, Mr. Herbert Lehman, former Director-General of Unrra, said -
Australia and Canada were the two main supplying countries which had retained war-‘ time controls to help feed those abroad who were starving.
Admiral. Sir Bruce Fraser, who visited Melbourne in December, 1944, remarked -
Australia has done all that was asked, and more, in docks, lighters, equipment and especially food. It was forthcoming in all the quantities required, but again I do want to say thinks to Australia for food. It has been splendid.
When Sir Henry French visited Australia on behalf of the Government of Great Britain, in November, 1945, his comments were reported in this way: -
Be wanted tobring hometo every one he met in Australia how greatly the people or the United Kingdom appreciated the important contribution which Australia made to British food supplies.
Neither of the last two authorities whom I have quoted is a Labour supporter. They are probably Liberals ; possibly one is a Conservative. InMarch last, Sir Ben Smith, when in Washington as Minister for. Food in Great Britain, stated -
Australia was exporting a disappropriate . share of her total production, notwithstanding the recent drought, and was postponing to a later date the rebuilding of her own stocks.
Australia has received praise from all quarters. The following statement appeared in the Sydney Sun of the 22nd May : -
Praise for that great dominion, Australia, was voiced by the British Foreign Minister, Mr. Bevan, when announcing good progress in the fight against famine.
I could point to the number of millions of pounds worth of food which the Commonwealth Government has provided through theUnrra organization for the peoples of countries stricken by famine because of the ravages of war. This has beenpossible because the Labour Government set to work some years ago for the purpose of restricting the local consumption of certain commodities’ to enable them to be exported. One of the bills now before the Senate’ deals with wheat production, and meat bills have been introduced to ensure an increased exportable surplus of meat. In the past, work of this kind has always been left to private enterprise. Honorable senators opposite will tell us that we should not have introduced plans for stabilization, so that the producers could get a fair and equalized price in Australia for their products, and so that the surplus might be exported to Great Britain on the most favorable terms. I hope that we shall not hear any more about this belated appeal by the Opposition to the Government to take immediate action in the interests of the people of Great Britain. The Government can be relied upon to stand behind the Mother Country, because Australia is a member of the British Com- ‘ monwealth of Nations. The primary industries of this country will be organized so that there will be systematic production of foodstuffs for distribution locally and overseas, without taking advantage of GreatBritain in its dire extremity.
Debate (on motion by Senator A. J. Fraser) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act -
Appointment - Attorney-General’s Department - I. H. Green.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946. No. 120.
Wool (Contributory Charge) Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1946, No. 108.
Senate adjourned at 10.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 July 1946, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1946/19460725_senate_17_188/>.