30 April 1947

18th Parliament · 1st Session

The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair. at 3 p.m., and readprayers.

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Assent to the following hills reported: -

Stevedoring Industry Bill 1947

Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Bill 1947.

Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill 1947.

International Monetary Agreements Bill 1947.

Air Navigation Bill 1947.

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Senator SAMPSON:

-I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he is correctly reported as having stated that the postage levied on food parcels for the United Kingdom from the Commonwealth is fixed by the . British authorities? What proportion of the postage paid on these parcels is retained by his department? Is he aware that the present high rates are a serious deterrent to many generous-hearted Australian men and women who desire to . increase their effort’s in the provision of food for Britain? Willhe make an earnest effort to secure a reduction of postage approaching that made on parcels to troops overseas ?

Senator ASHLEY:
Minister for Supply and Shipping · NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– In the absence of the Postmaster-General, I inform the honorable senator that the existing postage charges on food parcels for the United Kingdom have been fixed under an international agreement, and, therefore, any reduction of them would have to be made by agreement among the countries concerned. I shall bring the remainder of the. honorablesenator’s question to the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.

Senator AYLETT:

– In view of the anti-Australian and anti-British statements concerning the provision of food for the people of Britain that are made repeatedly in the press, especially those calling upon the people of this country to rebel, will the Minister for Supply and- Shipping- give an assurance, that the’’ Security Service- Branch will be instructed to keep’ a strict check on. individuals making those statements, whether they be Communists,’ fascists, or anybody else?’

Senator ASHLEY:

– The honorable senator’s question is rather vague. If he were more specific I should try to answer him more fully; but .1 can assure him that for security purposes every endeavour is being made by this Government to ensure that anti-British activities in this country shall be suppressed.

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SS. “Misr”

Senator COLLETT:

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration what is the history of the draft of immigrants who arrived at Fremantle on Misr on the 13th April last? ‘‘Whence-, and under what authority, were those immigrants collected and despatched to - Australia? How many nationalities did they represent? To what States and in what numbers did they take passage? ‘ Did the Minister visit the ship when it arrived at Fremantle? Has he read reports in the daily press of Perth of the . 14th April dealing with the arrival of the vessel 1 . If so, and in view of inquiries which, possibly, he has made in the meantime, does he consider the complaints and comments -published in the West Australian ‘and the Daily News of that date to be, true in substance, and justified ? Is it a fact that the large .proportion of the extraordinary mixture of nationalities on board Misr showed during the voyage that they possess few of the qualities desirable in Australian citizens? Has the Minister expressed the desire to establish in Western ‘Australia, as a voyage terminal, what might be described as an immigrant depot. If so, what would be the purposes of that depot? Has. the Minister consulted with the .Government of “Western Australia on that ‘matter? If not, why not? Has the Commonwealth Government’s policy on - immigration been communicated to State Governments’? If so, has their concurrence and support been indicated and offered to the Minister?

Minister for Munitions · NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The Minister for Immigration maintains very close contact with the State governments in respect of immigration. Nothing. is done in the Commonwealth sphere except after consultation . with .State immigration Ministers and’ officers. Recently a conference of -State Ministers in charge of immigration was held at Canberra, and that’ conference agreed upon methods for the handling of immigrants. It also decided to set up centres for the reception of immigrants. That was done with the full concurrence of all of the State governments. I have no knowledge of the reports in the Western Australian press to which the honorable senator has referred; but I know that the Minister is happy about the kind of migrants who arrived on Misr. Fifty per cent, of them were children, and 80 per cent, of them were young. Only a few of them were . elderly, and they have como here to join their families with whom they hope to spend the lastfew years of their, lives in the shelter of this country. An absolutely wrong approach is being made by certain sections of the community to the arrival of those .people in this country. Instead of giving them the welcome that they deserve, the press of Australia, and certain individuals, including the honorable member for Reid, and certain members of the Opposition in . the House of Representatives,’ have taken up the cry that these immigrants are undesirables. Frankly, they are an excellent lot of people. I am’ certain that they will be happy here, and’ that as’ time goes on we shall be very proud to have them. I shall ask the Minister for Immigration to provide a detailed reply to the honorable senator’s questions.

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Senator SHEEHAN:

– Has an increase of the price of tallow been granted recently? If so, does the increase apply to tallow for home , consumption, or to export tallow, or both? Have any steps been taken to compel holders of tallow to declare the quantity that they have on hand? If not, will such steps be taken immediately ?

Minister for Trade and Customs · QUEENSLAND · ALP

– A new schedule of prices recently announced provides for an increase of the price of edible beef tallow to £45 a ton, edible white mutton tallow to £40 a ton, andinedible mixed prime bright tallow to £42 10s. a ton. In each casethe increase is considerable. The price of export tallow isnot determined in this country. It depends upon what overseas purchasers are prepared to pay for it. However, because of the need for tallow in this country , none is being exported . at present. I shall give consideration to the honorable senator’s request for an investigation of the amount of tallow that is held in this country.

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Trans-Australia Airlines

Senator COOPER:

– Has the Minister for Supply and Shipping seen press reports thatTrans-Australia Airlines arelosing heavily on their operations, and have already spent . £3,000,000 ? If so, as the Australian taxpayers will be called upon to meet this heavy loss, will the Minister inform theSenate what justification there is for the conversion of several passenger aircraft to enable Trans-Australia Airlines to establish a regular air-freighting service for racehorses ? In view of the pressing need for economy, will the Minister confer with the Prime Minister with a view to eliminating this unnecessary expenditure?

Senator ASHLEY:

-I have not read the statements to which the honorable senator has referred. I imagine, however, that an airline service, like a newspaper, or theextension of. railway facilities to countrydistricts, must inevitably encounter initial losses. Most of the initial outlay, however, is nonrecurring, and I am given to understand that in a short time TransAustralia Airlines will be a payingconcern. I am not prepared to consult with the Prime Minister in regard to the conversion of aircraft for the development of the hinterland of this country,because I believe that the Australian National Airlines Commission is capable of handling its own affairs. The Government seesno need for interference.

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SenatorNASH. - I present the sixth reportof the Regulationsand Ordinances Committee, and move -

That the report be printed.

It is my intention at a later stage to move for the adoption of the report.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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Retirements from Australian Staff Corps.

Senator COLLETT:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, uponnotice -

  1. What number of officers oftheStaff Corps has been retired since the termination of hostilities in 1945?
  2. Whatwere the substantive ranks ofsuch officers ?
  3. What werethe reasons for such retirements ?
  4. What is the nature of thecompensation, if any, paid to such officers?
  5. Has there been any recent reduction in the establishment of enlisted personnel in the Permanent Force?
  6. If so, under what conditions : have noncommissioned ranks been retired?

– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -

  1. The number of officers of the Australian Staff Corps retired since the termination of hostilities is 80.
  2. The substantive Staff Corps ranks of such officers were - Lieutenants-General, 2; Majors-General, 2; Colonels, 9; LieutenantsColonel, 13; Majors, 20; Captains, 3; Lieutenants, 37.
  3. The reasons for such retirements were -
  1. Normal provision for retirement of Staff Corps officers is by way of superannuation pension, for which they contribute at the rate for retirement at age CO. If retirement takes place before age GO, the actual equivalent of the pension their contribution would entitle them to is paid. In eases under the interim retirement scheme the pension to which they would normally be entitled was substantially supplemented by the Government so that pensions on a sliding scale were paid ranging from 75 per cent. of the full pension on retirement at age 47 to 100 per cent. of the full pension on retirement at age 57 or later. In cases of officers contributing for maximum pension of £416 at age 00, the interim scheme provided . pensions ranging from £312 per annum at age 47 to £416 at age 57 and later. In addition a cash gratuity of approximately £200 was granted. Provision was also made for commutation of part of pension if desired; also for payment in lieu of accrued leave and for up to two years half pay (less pension). In the case of other members who were retired or invalided from the service and for the other reasons stated, the appropriate retiring provisions were applied. 5 and6. Therehas been no recent reduction in the establishment of enlisted personnel in the permanent military forces.

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– On the 26th March, Senator Allan MacDonald asked whether, in view of persistent press rumours of a possible shortage of sugar in this country, I would make a comprehensive statement on the matter, and give an assurance that adequate steps are being taken to ensure the availability of sufficient sugar to meet our domestic requirements and to permit the export of the largest possible quantity to the United Kingdom.

Over the last few years, owing to shortages of man-power and materials and adverse weather conditions, the Australian sugar crop has been below pre-war levels. Nevertheless, sufficient sugar has been produced in Australia each season to supply the local market on a rationed basis and to provide a quantity for export. There have been occasional temporary shortages of refined sugar in certain areas, but I stress that this does not indicate that there has been an acute shortage of the commodity generally in Australia. These temporary shortages have been due to the fact that refineries in some States have had at times to close down or to operate below normal capacity due to various causes, such as man-power shortages, delays in transportation of raw sugar from Queensland ports to refineries, industrial disputes, and insufficiency of available supplies of coal and lime. In pre-war’ years, it was the practice to build up reserve stocks of refined sugar during the period of the year when demand slackens in order fully to meet requirements during the periods when consumption is at its peak. Over recent years, for the reasons already given, this has not been possible. To alleviate the position in areas where recently there have been shortages of refined sugar, transfers have been made interstate. Demand for sugar normally slackens in the winter months, and it is expected that if, during the coming winter months, refineries can operate continuously at full capacity, there will be adequate supplies of refined sugar available for all requirements throughout Australia on the existing rationed . basis. Consideration is always given to the question of determining the maximum quantity that can be supplied for export. In this regard, it should be made clear that all of Australia’s sugar exports do not necessarily go to the United Kingdom. The world’s available sugar supplies each year are surveyed and allocated to consuming countries by . the International Emergency Food Council, Washington, mainly on a regional basis, in order to make the best use of available shipping.

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Freight and Insurance Rates

Senator AYLETT:

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What was the increase in shipping freights brought about by war risk?
  2. What was the increase in insurance rates on shipping freight brought about by war risks?
  3. Have any of the increases in shipping freight or insurance been reduced since the war ended; if not, will the Minister take steps to have a reduction brought about at an early date by using his power under pricefixing control?

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -

  1. The increase on freight rates, due to war conditions, for general cargo, has been approximately 45 per cent.
  2. The maximum increase in insurance rates on shipping cargo charged by the Commonwealth Marine War Risk Insurance Board, was 15s. per £100.
  3. There, have been no reductions in shipping freight rates since the war ended. Actual costs are higher than freights charged and the difference is cared for by subsidy. If subsidy is removed it is fairly certain that freight rates will increase. War risk insurance rates have been reduced progressively from the maximum of 15s. reached in November, 1943, to fid. per £100 at present.

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Senator COOPER:

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What is the price per lb. at which the Tea Control Board supplies tea to wholesalers?
  2. What is the retail price per lb. to consumers ?
  3. What is the approximate average cost to the board per lb. of overseas purchases of tea?
  4. Will the Minister instruct the Prices Commissioner to review the profit margins at present allowed?

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -

  1. 2s. per lb.
  2. 2s- 9d. per lb.
  3. In 1045-40 the average- landed cost of tea, including duty, was 2s. 8d. per lb. The present average landed cost is about 4s. Gd. per lb.
  4. Profit margins are now lower than prewar margins and arc the subject of constant review by the Prices Commissioner.

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Resignations of Officials

Senator COOPER:

asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

  1. ls it a fact that Mr. Eugene Meyer has resigned from the presidency of the World Bank, and that Mr. E. G. Collano has also resigned as executive director?
  2. If so, what were the reasons for such resignations?
Senator ASHLEY:

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -

  1. Yes.
  2. In his letter of resignation Mr. Meyer stated that he had originally accepted the position on the understanding that he should remain in it only while the bank was in its initial stages. As the bank was now passing from the preliminary work of preparation to that of operating activities, Mr. Meyer stated that he felt that the- time had arrived when a permanent head should be selected. The reasons for Mr. Collano’s resignation are not known.

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asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -

  1. What was the total expenditure for the years 1941-42 to 1945-46, showing - (o) expenditure in respect of war, repatriation, rehabilitation of returned soldiers, &c. ; (6) other expenditure?’
  2. How much money has the Government paid out in subsidies since it has been in office, and, of this amount, how much was paid in respect df foodstuffs?
  3. What is the yearly amount of taxation reductions made in respect of - (a) direct, and (6) indirect taxation? t
  4. What is the estimated amount of taxation reductions in respect of - (a) direct, and (6) indirect taxation, in the Government’s proposals that will take effect ‘from 1st July next?
  5. What is the total amount of deferred pay that has been paid to returned soldiers to date?

    1. What is the total amount that has been expended to date in connexion with the rehabilitation of our ex-servicemen and women?
  6. What is the total value of income tax concessions granted to members of the forces by the present Government?

    1. What is the estimated expenditure for social services for the present financial year?
Senator ASHLEY:

– On the assumption that, in his references to war and rehabilitation expenditure, the honorable senator has in mind the 1939-1945 war, the answers to his questions are as follows : - 1. (a) £2,264,000,000; (b) £709,000,000.

  1. Approximately £125,000,000 to 31st December, 194G. Of this amount £81,000,000 was in respect of foodstuffs.
  2. The estimated yearly cost to revenue of tile taxation reductions and concessions (excluding concessions to servicemen but including the reductions and concessions announced in the Treasurer’s Financial Statement of 25th March. 1947) is as follows: - (o) Direct taxation, £74,500,000; (6) indirect taxation’, £28,800.000; total, £103,300,000. 4. (o) £34,000,000 a year; (b) Nil.’
  3. Deferred pay payments to all service per,sonnel to 31st March, 1947, totalled £105,600,000. Of this amount £75,900,000 was in respect of army personnel.
  4. Expenditure to 31st December, 1946 wai £35,G0O,00O.
  5. The total value of all income tax concessions to members of the forces (including those provided after the outbreak of war by the Government then in office and continued by the present Government) has been estimated at as high as £18,000,000 a year at the peak “period of the war. However, as the majority of members of the forces were not obliged to submit income tax returns, there is insufficient information available to -enable a satisfactory separate estimate of the value of the concessions granted to servicemen by the present Government to be made.
  6. The Budget Estimate for 1940-47 is £07,070,000.

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Senator SAMPSON:

asked the Minister for Health and Social Services, upon notice -

What amount has been disbursed in unemployment benefits in each State of the Commonwealth, since the 30th June, 1940?

Senator McKENNA:
Minister for Health · TASMANIA · ALP

– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -

Unemployment benefit expenditure - 1st July, 1946, to 31st March, 1947-

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Additional Land-line from East to “West.

Senator NASH:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

In connexion with the procurement of the ‘ equipment necessary to provide a second high quality programme channel between Adelaide and Perth to permit of relays to national stations in Western Australia when parliamentary proceedings are being broadcast, will he inform the Senate what progress has been made to date in the provision of the second land-line, and whether the new channel will bo available toward the end of June next, as indicated by him last December?

Senator CAMERON:
Postmaster-General · through Senator Ashley · ALP

– The answer to the honorable senator’s, question is as follows : -

The equipment will be available within about two weeks. Unless there are unforeseen difficulties the original forecast for the end ‘ of Tune will be met.

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Industrial. Finance Department Senator FRASER asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -

What are the terms of the Industrial Section of the Commonwealth Bank for advances, to applicants ?

ls it a fact that bills of sale are required over assets before advances are mode?

Is it a fact that the private banks make the advances on overdraft without bills of sale over assets?

If so, will action be taken by ‘the Government to give’ to applicants at least the same terms as are given by the private banks?

Senator ASHLEY:

– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -

  1. There are no set terms for the granting of advances by the Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank. Every possibility is examined of -shaping each .proposal into such a form that a loan can be arranged.
  2. As a general rule security is required for all advances. This takes the form of freehold mortgage, bill of sale, debenture mortgage and the like.
  3. It is the recognized practice of Australian banks to take security, including bills of sale, foi* advances granted.
  4. The terms on’ which advances are granted by the Industrial Finance Department of the Commonwealth Bank are, as a rule, more liberal than those granted by the trading banks.

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Newspaper Attacks

Senator LARGE:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Information, upon notice -

In view of the attacks by sections of the press on parliamentary institutions, together with misleading statements, will the Minister give consideration to introducing a bill for the purpose of enacting reprisals such as a charge of Id. per copy for every copy sold with the mis-statements published ?


– The Minister for Information has supplied the following answer : - .

The Commonwealth Parliament has no power to enact legislation on the lines suggested by the honorable, senator, but the question of. the introduction? of a privileges bill to deal with attacks by sections of the press on parliamentary institutions is a matter that might well be considered by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Standing Orders in the first instance. ‘I will request the President of the Senate- to’ convene a meeting- of this committee for the purpose of discussing my proposal.

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Senator AMOUR:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that when making his secondreading speech on the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Bill 1945 the Minister introducing’ the bill in’ the Senate stated that “ the Commonwealth ‘Government has takes lite view that a family earning the basic wage should not pay more than one-fifth of its income. in rent”? 2’. If so, is he aware that the rents charged’ do not conform to tha-t view?
  2. Is it a. fact that the rents charged are causing hardship, in many, instances?’
  3. Will he take the matter up with the State governments with a view to having the rents charged on the principle- of one-fifth of the income?

– The Minis ter for Works and Housing- has supplied the following answers: -

  1. Yes.
  2. No; The States have- followed out completely the rental rebate scheme outlined in the Minister’s speech, and incorporated in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Act 1945. The scheme provides that a family earning a’ sum equal to the basic wage should pay only one-fifth of the family income as calculated.; but the rebate is a sliding one, diminishing both in- proportion, and. amount as the family income rises and increasing if the family has an income, as defined, less- than the basic wage. The rebate falls by 4d. for every l.s.. by which the. family’s income rises above the basic wage-, and rises by 3d. for. every ls. by which the income Jails below the Basic wage. It is not a flat proportion, and helps the lower-paid family more- thant those better ofl.
  3. lt is in no sense true that these rents are causing hardship; exactly the contrary. They are designed as the first real attempt to get good housing to the less fortunate families, and the Government- regards this housing scheme as a major social advance. It is a scheme specially designed to assist those cases where hardship might occur, as tenants who fall, sick or- become unemployed will find.
  4. Except in South Australia,, which has not so far operated under the agreement, but reserves the right to do so, all States have loyally observed the agreement.

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Senator BRAND:

asked the Minister representing the Treasurer,- upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that the difference: between the money paid to servicemen employed on wharfs during strikes on the waterfront and the normal’ award rates paid to the Government by the- shipping companies for such service was- used: in benefits for these men?
  2. What was the amount of. the difference between the two rates of pay received By the Government? 3>. Is it a fact that these: benefits comprised special rates of pay, exemption from income tax, ‘ extra payment for dependants, special rations and accommodation, quarters, clothing, . medical attention and other amenities?
  3. Did the soldiers- employed on the Townsville and Cairns waterfronts receive any benefits?
  4. What was the- amount paid for each of these benefits?
Senator ASHLEY:

– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -

  1. No. It is not a fact that servicemen employed during strikes on the waterfront received special benefits.
  2. The difference between the two rates of pay is not ascertainable without appreciable research. Such difference, if any, would be very small..
  3. The benefits mentioned are granted to all service personnel. Workers on the waterfront received their normal entitlements in the same way as other Service personnel’.
  4. No benefits other than those provided, for all servicemen were granted to personnel employed on the waterfronts at Townsville and Cairns.
  5. The amount paid for the various services and concessions provided for servicemen varies with each individual and accordingly an assessment of the value of- such services- and concessions is not practicable.

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Production in Great Britain.

Senator COOPER:

asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -

  1. Has the Government been informed by the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom that British coal-miners have promised to deal drastically with slackers and to reduce absenteeism- to- a minimum? .
  2. Does this suggest to the- Government that even with nationalization of the coal mines, as in Britain, some miners are not prepared to recognize their responsibilities?
  3. Does it also suggest to the Government a course of action which should be .followed by the miners’’ federation in Australia?
Senator ASHLEY:

– The answers to the honorable1 senator’s questions are’ as follows : -

  1. No. 2 and 3-. See answer to- No. 1.

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Senator ASHLEY:

– On the 25th March, -Senator Leckie asked a question relating to the gift of £25,000,000 from Australia to Great Britain. In reply to the first part of the question, I have already indicated that any statement which- may have been made by Senator Sheehan on the subject of the gift to the United Kingdom would have been made on his own responsibility and not on behalf of the Government.

As to the second part of the question, the Prime Minister discussed the subject of sterling, balances with, the United Kingdom authorities and it was. his belief that they would very much appreciate assistance in the nature of that proposed by the Government.

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Motion (by Senator McKenna) agreed to -

That leave he given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Quarantine Act 1908- 1924.

Bill presented, and read a first time. Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed - i

That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.


– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.

Second Reading

Senator McKENNA:
Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services · Tasmania · ALP

– I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

The object of this bill is to amend the Quarantine Act 1908-1924 in several particulars, which, for convenience, may be grouped into two parts, one dealing with human, and the other with animal quarantine. Section 6 of the bill refers to quarantine of humans, and is designed to confer on quarantine officers additional power to control the movements of travellers from overseas, who may be a menace to health, until it is established that they are not “infected with any serious communicable disease. The Quarantine Act provides that an oversea vessel or aircraft arriving in Australia is “ subject to quarantine “ and remains so subject until pratique has been granted. ‘ Any person who is. or has been, on board such a vessel or aircraft is also “ subject to quarantine “, but ceases to be so subject when pratique has been granted to the vessel. The act empowers quarantine officers to vaccinate or inoculate oversea travellers only while they are “ subject to quarantine “. Travellers who refuse to submit to this process may be prosecuted; conviction involves only a monetary penalty. Immediately after arrival of an aircraft at a first port of entry in Australia a quarantine officer enters the aircraft and examines each person on board. If no one presents- . any evidence of disease, if there are no suspicious circumstances, and each traveller has a certificate of successful vaccination against small-pox, pratique is granted to the vessel; the travellers are then free to land and go where they will. There may, ‘ however, be a passenger who has spent the previous week in, say, Calcutta, where small-pox is rife, and who cannot satisfy the quarantine officer that he is protected against small-pox. This person may actually be incubating a disease, but shows no evidence of it and may not do so until several days later. The present law stipulates that he should be vaccinated, but it does not provide for him to be kept in quarantine or under surveillance unless pratique is withheld from the aircraft.

The quarantine officer may, therefore, be faced with whether he should withhold pratique, to the great inconvenience of all travellers on board, or grant pratique and risk the entry into Australia of a person about whose freedom from quarantinable disease he may have a doubt.

The amendment proposed by the bill will remove this difficulty by enabling him to grant pratique, but place in quarantine or under surveillance a traveller about whose freedom from disease he may have doubts. I mention at this point that section S4 of the act states that a quarantine officer who maliciously, and without reasonable cause, orders any vessel, person, goods, animal or plants into quarantine is guilty of an indictable offence for which a penalty, of two years imprisonment is provided.

The vast increase of air traffic from overseas into Australia has drawn attention to the necessity for this amendment, which will strengthen the hands of those who are entrusted with the responsibility of guarding Australia against the introduction of diseases which do not exist in this country. The bulk of overseas air traffic originates in or traverses the very countries, in Asia especially, where smallpox, cholera, plague and typhus are so prevalent. By reason of the island nature of its conformation, and its distance from other lands, Australia is ‘ in a unique position to provide an effective quarantine guard against importation of disease. The effectiveness of this barrier may be gauged by our freedom down the years from the major quarantinable diseases. On rare occasions in the past, some of them have gained a foothold here, but they have always been eradicated. For approximately a quarter of a century none of these diseases has passed our quarantine barrier, although on many occasions they have been detected on vessels arriving at our seaboard. Australia and New Zealand are the only considerable countries in the world which are completely free of small-pox, cholera, plague and epidemic typhus, diseases which cause tremendous loss of life and efficiency in other lands. Sir Andrew Balfour, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, ‘ a foremostauthority on public health, referred to Australia’s quarantine service as “ possibly the most advanced and efficient in the world “, and no less an authority than Sir William Macgregor, physician, colonial administrator, explorer, author and former Governor of Queensland, stated that “ in Australia, quarantine safeguards are established on a firm and scientific basis “. Australia may take pride in this international reputation, but the greatest satisfaction of those responsible for our happy position is to know that their efforts have helped to keep our country free from these scourges.

Until comparatively recent years, our quarantine defences have had -to operate only with respect to comparatively slowmoving maritime traffic. The advent of air traffic has introduced a new factor into the problem. No longer can we rely on the lapse of time involved in a sea passage from port to port to assist us in our efforts. A traveller may be in Calcutta to-day and in Sydney, to-morrow, and even this speed of travel may be eclipsed in the near future. Air travel has speeded international communication to such a degree that it is possible for a person infected with smallpox or other exotic disease to arrive in Australia during the incubation period, and, unless adequate precautions existed, to traverse the length and breadth of the land before the disease is manifest. Such a happening could cause a major disaster in this country. Medical science has provided, in prophylactic vaccinations and inoculations, a means of protecting individuals against infection with certain diseases. The most important bulwark in Australia’s protection against the eventuality that I have indicated is strict insistence on travellers themselves being .protected against these diseases by proven prophylactic measures.

Clauses 3, 4, 5, 7, S and 9 of the bill relate to animal quarantine, and,, in the main, are designed to embody in the Quarantine Act powers which it was found necessary to grant under National Security (Control of Animal Diseases) Regulations during the war years, and which are, at present, contained in the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946. During the war years the abnormal shipping conditions vastly increased the risk of introduction into Australia of animal diseases. This increased risk drew attention to certain omissions from the legislation, which were rectified temporarily by regulations under the National Security Act, which the bill now proposes to incorporate in permanent legislation. To illustrate the very real danger to which Australia is exposed in this respect, I shall mention some of the animal diseases against which protection is needed. Rabies, or hydrophobia, is a frightful scourge, and Australia is the only continent which is completely free of it. It is widespread in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and in many parts of Europe. All mammalian animals can be infected with rabies, but carnivorous animals, chiefly dogs, are the main source of infection. Dogs are also the principal means by which humans become infected with rabies. Encephalomyelitis occurs in horses and allied species. This disease may be transferred from animal to animal, including many varieties of birds, and to man, by insect vectors, mosquitoes being the commonest. .This disease does not exist in Australia, but is very prevalent overseas, notably in North and South America and in part of Asia. The names, at least, of rinderpest and foot and mouth disease are known to most Australians. If these diseases became established in this country, they would cause chaos in our animal production. They are both highly infectious and are spread by animal contact and ; by animal products and contaminated materials. In 1923,Western Australia had an experience of rinderpest, fortunately confined to a small area, and eventually eradicated. As a result of this experience, a prohibition was placed on the importation into any port in Australia of all cloven-footed animals unless they were for regulated importation. However, some difficulty has always been experienced in dealing with cases in which this prohibition was flouted.

Ships’ pets, such as monkeys, dogs, cats and various birds are required by regulations to be kept in confinement while a ship is in Australian ports. If these regulations are not observed, the ship’s master is liable to prosecution. Such prosecution, however, does not render the animal any less menacing to Australia’s animal health, and power is sought to have such animals seized and destroyed if they are not securely confined on board. This power existed under National Security (Control of Animal Diseases) Regulations Nos. 9 and 10, and it is considered that it was largely responsible for the effective way in which serious animal disease was prevented from gaining entry here during the war years. The hill provides for thepermanent retention of this power, sothat Australia may be preserved from the tremendous economic loss which would result from the introduction of diseases of the type I have mentioned.

The bill will enable the Quarantineservice to maintain a closerguard against the introductionof those diseases which have never become established in this country, hut which are a constant threat to the national health and economy. I commend the bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.

page 1696


Food forbritain.

Motion (by Senator Ashley) pro posed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Senator AYLETT:

– In answer to a question in relation to food for Britain which I asked this after noon, the Minister for Supply andShipping (Senator Ashley) sought further information. I know that the Government is doing everything possible to assist thepeopleofGreat Britain, and probably other dominion governments are doing the same, but communist and fascist organizations, mainly the latter, . are taking action designedto prevent food from being sent to Britain. When one takes up the daily press, one reads antiAustralian and anti-British statements by would-be fascists, claiming that Australia is being governed by bureaucrats, and is under a tyranny. These fascists are urging thepeopleof thisCountryto rebel. Obviously, they wish to foment revolution. They do not want to assist thecountry in its (present difficulties; they want to disrupt it. And they are aidedby conditions throughout the world generally. To-day, conditions are not very bright in any country. The people of Europe as a whole are practically confronted with semi-starvation, and the people of Great Britain are not much better off. Australia is the only country which , has continued rationing control into the peace in order to assist the people of the United Kingdom. While the people of this country are supporting the Government in its endeavour to help our kinsmen overseas, this antiAustralian and anti-British element is attempting to undermine our economic position with a view to’ creating chaos. Surely, we are confronted with sufficient difficulties in the existing industrial unrest, in which the Commonwealth Government, because of our antiquated Constitution, is powerless to intervene. But these fascists are not content with that position, They seek to adapt the methods that were employed by Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany in order tobring about disruption, with the object of overthrowing constitutional government, regardlessof party. It was for these reasons that I asked the Minister earlier to-day whether the security service was checking up on these people and keeping a tab on them, becauseI believe that they are a menace to Australia and if not kept under control will bring ill upon this country.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

page 1697


The following paperswere pre sented : -

Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, 4 c. - 1947 -

No:14 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association and others; and Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.

No. 15 - Australian Third Division Telegraphists and Postal Clerks’ Union.

No. 16 - Meat Inspectors’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.

No. 17 - Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen.

No. 18-Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association,

No. 19 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association:

No.20 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association,

No. 21 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.

Australian Imperial Force Canteens Fund: Act - Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the Trustees, for year 1945-46.

Australian National Airlines Act - First Annual Report; including Financial Accounts, of the Australian. National Airlines Commission, for period ended 30th June, 1946.

Census and Statistics Act -Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947. No. 38.

Coal. Industry Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 44..

Commonwealth Public Service Act- Appointments - Department -

Civil Aviation - N. R. L. Blackmore, W. W. I. Burgen; W. A. L. Burrell, F. C. G. Coughlin, W. R. Dean, P. F. Ellis, W G. Faithful!, W. J.M. Faithfull; N. W. H. Hill, C. S. Holroyd; D. F. Leigh,. M. M. McDonald, R.G. McLean,G. P. McLennan, J. J. Murphy,. W.Revell, S. J. Scarborough; F. W.Smith,.N. W. Walmsley, A. E. White.

Defence - A. P. Fleming,

Interior- E. Woston;

Labour and National Service - R. J. Alexander,. L.F. J. Edmonds,. M. Kangan, J. McCreadie,.W. H. McLean, R.J. Tilby.

Parliamentary- Reporting; Staff - A. M. Leehy.

Supply and Shipping.- J. F. Ivanac, L. A. Richardson, C.J. Sullivan.

Trade and Customs -T. C. Jenkins, E. G. Miller.

Works and Housing - E. H. McCandless, C. D. Osborne, W. M. Telford.

Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act - Twentieth, General Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.

Control of Nasal Waters Act - Regulations -Statutory- Rules 1947, No. 45.

Customs Act and Commerce (Trade, Descriptions:): Act - Regulations - Statutory. Rules 1947, No. 37.

Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Minerals) Regulations - Order - Lead.

National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Orders - 1947, Nos. 6, 7, 9.

Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, Nos. 21, 32, 41, 42, 43.

Dried Fruits Export Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 24.

Dried Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 18.

Forestry and. Timber Bureau Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1947, No. 23.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Defence purposes -

Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, New South Wales.

Wynyard, Tasmania.

Postal purposes -

Ascot Vale, Victoria.

Carramar, New South Wales.

Cranbourne, Victoria.

Forest Hill, Queensland.

Harvey, Western. Australia.

Hurstville, New South Wales.

Injune, Queensland.

Mount Gambier, South Australia.

Scarborough-, Western. Australia.

South Brisbane, Queensland.

Springwood, New South Wales.

Templestowe, Victoria.

Wallan, Victoria.

Wandoan; Queensland.

Wantirna, Victoria.

Wyandra, Queensland.

Matrimonial Causes Act- Rules of Court -

Statutory Rules1947, No. 50.

Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinance - 1947 - No. 1 - Liquor.

Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations– Statutory Rules 1947, No. 39.

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - . Canberra University College - Report for, 1946.

Trade Commissioners Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 48.

Senate adjourned at 3.53 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 April 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.