18th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– As there is an acute shortage of aperture rifle sights used by members of Australian rifle clubs, and as the duty, primage, sales tax, &c, makes the price of imported British sights about £6 each, as against £3 for the Australian sight, when procurable, can the Minister for Trade and Customs see his way clear to suspend all duties and primage on. British sights for a period, to allow time for Australian manufacturers to supply these articles again?
– There is no provision in the Customs Tariff whereby aperture rifle sights could be admitted free of customs duty or by which the duty ordinarily imposed under the appropriate tariff item could be reduced.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral consider the advisability of employing in telephone exchanges disabled ex-servicemen, men in receipt of social services who have lost one limb, and men who are receiving unemployment benefit who have lost one limb ?
– I shall give sympathetic consideration to the honorable senator’s request, and see that disabled and partly-disabled ex-servicemen and pensioners are employed by the department wherever possible.
– I ask you, Mr. President, in your capacity as a member of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee, whether your attention has been drawn to an editorial in to-day’s Sydney Daily Telegraph under the caption “They can’t censor us - yet “, which states that the free and independent news service of that Australian Broadcasting Commission was censored, and that the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee forbade the Australian Broadcasting Commission to re-broadcast an incident which had occurred in . Parliament, referring to an attack made on Senator Amour? If your attention has been drawn to the article, oan you state whether the information published in the report is correct?
– Senator Nash was kind enough to inform me that he intended to ask this question, and consequently, I obtained a copy of the .Sydney Daily Telegraph in which is published the article to which he refers. I have read the article. It is only fit and proper that we should place before the public of Australia the position of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broad.easting Committee, of which I am a member. The article, in my opinion, is most unfair. Bearing in mind certain events with regard to the establishment of an independent news service by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, I leave it to honorable senators to think out for themselves the reason behind this attack by the Sydney Daily Telegraph. The editor of the Daily Telegraph may have had those matters in mind when he wrote this article. The article states -
They can’t censor us - yet. Last night the “ free and independent news service “ of the Australian Broadcasting Commission was censored.
The Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings forbade the Australian Broadcasting Commission to re-broadcast an incident which happened in Parliament.
It is grossly unfair to convey to thepublic of Australia the impression that the committee censored the Australian Broadcasting Commission and would not allow the commission to re-broadcast certain material. Undoubtedly, ‘ thedebate in question took place in the Houseof Representatives, and undoubtedly, thedebate was recorded by the commission’stechnicians. The debate occupied morethan half the time usually allowed forthe asking and answering of questions- without notice. The interpolation of other matters besides the asking and answering of questions during “ question time “ has been brought to my attention on several occasions. Honorable senators have felt aggrieved that the time which is ordinarily set aside for questions should be taken up by other matters. On one or two occasions in the Senate, fairly long statements have been made during “ question time “, but on no occasion has any statement been made that occupied more than half of the time allotted to questions. I have had cause to discuss this matter with honorable senators, and to point out that it is unfair for any one to occupy in any other -way the time that has been deliberately set aside for the asking and answering ofquestions.
T draw the attention of the public to the principles upon which we base that procedure. I have in my hand a statement published by the Parliamentary. Proceedings Broadcasting Committee, entitled “ Consolidation of general principles specified in the Committee’s First, Second and Third Reports, adopted by both Houses on the 5th July, 17th July and the loth November, 1946, respectively “. I draw the attention of honorable senators to paragraph 4 of the specified general principles, which reads -
Re-broadcast of Questions and Answers. - Within the limits of time available, the following parliamentary proceedings shall be rebroadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission between 7.20 p.m. and 7:55 p.m. on each sitting day -
Senate proceedings - Questions without notice and on notice and answers thereto;
House of Representatives proceedings - Questions without notice and answers thereto.
It will be understood that questions on notice are not answered in the House of Representatives by Ministers on the floor of the House, whereas in the Senate questions on notice are answered in this chamber and are recorded for broadcasting. Some time ago it was pointed out at a sitting of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee that honorable senators would like to have broadcast the answers to questions on notice in the Senate, because we do not usually take up with questions without notice all of the time available for broadcasting. However, on occasions, incidents have arisen which have cut into question time, with the result that some honorable senators who desired to have their questions and the answers to them broadcast have been denied this privilege. That is grossly unfair, and action would have been taken in this chamber had the practice developed. However, as the result of private conversations, an agreement was reached that honorable senators should refrain from interpolating matter at question time.
Yesterday, in the House of Representatives, a discussion on a certain matter was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies), and more than half of the time that normally would have been allowed for the re-broadcasting of questions was taken up by statements by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). The incident was brought to the notice of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee. In my opinion, it was wrong that so much of the time allowed for the re-broadcasting of questions and answers should be taken up by the statements to which I have referred. The entire incident was broadcast when it happened in the morning, and has been fully reported in the press;- yet, now, there is an outcry because the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee, of which I am a member, decided to adhere to the general principle laid down when the broadcasting of parliamentary proceedings commenced, namely, that the re-broadcasts in the evening should be limited to questions and answers.
On several occasions in the past, we have had occasion to call attention to remissness on the part of theSydney Daily Telegraph. It seems that this journal is prone to print matter that is not strictly in accordance with fact. On this occasion, the article is most misleading to the general public. No censorship of news broadcasts has been exercised by the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee. The committee merely carried out the principle agreed upon, at the institution of parliamentary broadcasts. In future, the committee intends to ensure, so far as possible, that the entire re-broadcast of parliamentary proceedings in the evening shall be confined to questions and answers. Honorable senators will realize that if this incident were allowed to pass without comment, some of the more politically shrewd individuals would lose no opportunity to secure publicity by introducing into the first 35 minutes of the proceedings of either house, matter which could not be construed as a genuine endeavour to seek information. That would be contrary to the expressed wish, of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Committee. That is a. plain statement of the facts. I repeat that no censorship was exercised, and that the Sydney Daily Telegraph gave an entirely wrong impression of what occurred.
– I understand that in the House of Representatives a list has been made available showing the articles that may be importedfrom Great Britain under a permit from the Department of Trade and Customs. Other goods, I am informed, may be imported from Great Britain without a permit. I should like to know whether Villiers engines suitable for concrete mixers may be imported from. Great Britain without a permit.
– Import licences are required in respect of very few commodities obtained from Great Britain. In regard to the engines that the honorable senator has mentioned, I am not fully conversant with the details of the matter, but I shall make enquiries and provide the honorable senator with an answer as soon as possible.
Motion (by Senator ASHLEY - by leave - agreed to -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act 1946, Senator O’sullivan be appointed to fill the vacancy now existing on the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings.
asked the Minister for Supply and Shipping, upon notice -
– -The answers tothe honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for “Works and Housing, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works and Housing has supplied the following answers : -
2 and 3. 093 and 378, respectively. It has been assumed these questions also relate only to houses under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement.
These figures in each case relate to the position at 30th September, 1947.
– Yesterday, Senator Murray asked a question concerning the re-introduction of the passenger shipping service from Hobart to Sydney. The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
During last summer, Ormiston was placed in the passenger service between Sydney and Hobart for the tourist season by the Australian Shipping Board. This vessel was then under charter to the Department of the Navy, which concurred in the arrangement. Ormiston, has since been returned to the owner the Australian United Steam Navigation Company Limited, which proposes to place the vessel on its pre-war normal run between Melbourne and Queensland ports as soon as its overhaul is completed about the end of this month. Duntroon, which is still under Navy charter and being operated by the Australian Shipping Board, is also returning to its prewar run from the eastern States to Western Australia. It is expected that this vessel will be de-requisitioned at an early date, and the Director of Shipping has advised that owners propose to retain the vessel in the Western Australian service. There are no passenger vessels at the disposal of the Australian Shipping Board which could be diverted to the Hobart-Sydney service, and although the board has made complete inquiries from various private shipping companies, it is regretted that there appears to be no prospect of any vessel being available for this service.
– -On the 5th June, Senator Beerworth asked a question upon notice regarding the restriction of the exportation of tractors from the United States of America and also asked what action was being taken to overcome the difficulty caused by the curtailment of American tractor imports into Australia.
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has now supplied the following information : -
It is a fact that the United States Civilian Production Administration has strictly limited the exportation of tractors.
Exportation is subject to limitation of export control imposed by the United States authorities primarily to ensure adequate supplies of tractors for domestic use. Under the control the number of tractors which may be exported to all countries except Canada is limited to 15 per cent. wheel type and 20 per cent crawler type produced each month by each manufacturer. Distribution between countries of tractors available for exports is left to the manufacturer to determine.
Export limitation was imposed last year and so far as can be ascertained is still in existence and likely to remain for some time.
The Commonwealth Government exercises control over wheel and crawler tractors coming into this country to ensure that available supplies are allocated only to priority users.
Practical assistance and encouragement have been given to tractor manufacture in Australia and it is anticipated that, within a period of twelve months, locally-made tractors will be coming on to the Australian market in fairly substantial numbers.
The Government has also arranged for additional supplies of tractors from Great Britain.
– On the 23rd
May, Senator Aylett asked whether any Commonwealth-wide plan had been devised in conjunction with. State governments for the prevention of soil erosion, which is particularly noticeable in times of drought.
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has now supplied the following answer : -
Arising out of a recommendation by the Australian Agricultural Council to a Premiers conference held early in 1946, a Standing Committee on Soil Conservation was created to co-ordinate measures required for minimizing soil erosion. This Standing Committee is composed of the chiefs of the State soil conservation services and a representative each from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. The committee meets at fairly regular intervals. Through it, the soil conservation service in each State becomes apprised of activities in other States, and uniform plans are evolved and recommendations made for consideration by the Australian Agricultural Council.
Motion (by Senator Courtice) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Customs Act 1901-1936.
Bill -presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Courtice) proposed -
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.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill to amend the Customs Act 1901-1936 has a two-fold purpose, namely, to provide for the conversion into Australian currency of the value of goods on which ad valorem duties are charged and to abolish the addition of 10 per cent., commonly referred to as “ the statutory 10 per cent.”, in calculating that value. In accordance with the provisions of the Customs Act, all duties are payable in British currency and values shown on invoices in any other currency must be converted to British currency for the purpose of calculating the value on which ad valorem duties are charged. The currency circulating in any part of the British Empire is British currency, but as only Australian notes and coins are legal tender in Australia no difficulty has arisen in relation to the payment of duties. However, the ambiguity of the term, “British currency “, presented considerable difficulty in calculating the value of goods on which duty is charged when Australian currency ceased to be equivalent to the currency of the United Kingdom. In view of the facts that United Kingdom currency came within the term “ British currency “ and that the Customs Act made no provision for the conversion of the United Kingdom currency into Australian currency, the Crown Law authorities advised that the expression “British currency” should be regarded as meaning simply “ sterling “ - that is, pounds, shillings and pence, without any distinction between the currency of Australia and the currency of the United Kingdom.
It has therefore been the practice to calculate the value for duty of goods in United Kingdom currency and to accept Australian notes and coins in payment of the duties. The result of this practice is that the ad valorem rates of duty prescribed by the Customs Tariff indicate higher tariff levels than actually operate. This is not a desirable position in tariff discussions or negotiations with other countries because in such discussions a comparison of actual tariff rates is usually made. In addition, imports are recorded in sterling (United Kingdom currency) and exports in Australian currency. It is therefore necessary to convert the recorded values to a common basis whenever it is desired to make comparisons.
The second purpose of this bill relates to the provision in the Customs Act that, in calculating the value for duty of goods subject to ad valorem duties, an addition of 10 per cent., commonly referred to as “ the statutory 10 per cent.”, shall be made to the sum of the price paid for the goods or the current domestic value of the goods, whichever be the higher, and the free on board charges. The Customs Act, when originally enacted in 1901, included this provision, which was apparently intended to cover the overall cost of the transfer of the goods to Australia. It really has no significance to-day, but has the effect of indicating lower tariff levels than are actually operative. It is therefore proposed to abolish the statutory addition of 10 per cent. The calculation of the value for duty of goods in Australian currency instead of in United Kingdom currency would increase the amounts of duty collected at ad valorem rates by 25 per cent., and the abolition of “ the statutory 10 per cent.” would reduce those amounts by one-eleventh. Together, these changes would have the effect of increasing the amounts collected by about 13$ per cent. As the amendments proposed are for purposes of administration, it is not desired that the bill, if enacted, should increase the amounts of duty collected, and it is therefore proposed to reduce appropriately all ad valorem rates of duty prescribed by the Customs Tariff to accomplish this end. For this reason, the bill includes provision for the amendments to come into operation on a date to be proclaimed. The amendments will operate from the the same date as the reduced ad valorem tariff rates of duty. Section 157 of the Customs Act 1903- 1936 prescribes that the values shown on the invoices for goods shall be converted to British currency, for which it is now proposed to substitute Australian currency, at a fair rate of exchange to be declared in case of doubt by the Minister. This power to declare a fair rate of exchange may only be exercised in relation to each invoice and is quite inappropriate to circumstances in which a doubt exists, not only in respect of particular transactions, but also in regard to the exchange value of a foreign currency.
The bill therefore proposes an extension of the method by which the Minister may, in case of doubt, exercise his power to declare a fair rate by enabling him to specify a fair rate of exchange for any particular currency for each day or for a period. The measure does not contain any contentious or controversial proposals; it is designed merely to provide a formula for the calculation of customs duties and does not involve any alteration of the present tariff.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Courtice) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the New Zealand Re-exports Act 1924.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Courtice) proposed -
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.
Senator COURTICE (Queensland-
Minister for Tradeand Customs) [3.30].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
I have already introduced a bill to amend the Customs Act 1901-1936 and this bill, which proposes to amend the New Zealand Re-exports Act 1924, is a complementary measure. The New Zealand Re-exports Act 1924 prescribes two alternative bases for calculating the value for duty of goods not the produce of, or manufactured in, New Zealand which are re-exported from that country to Australia. The lower of the two rates of duty applies. In conformity with the principles prescribed by the Customs Act 1901-1936 for calculating the value for duty of goods both these bases include the addition of “ the statutory 10 . per cent.”
As it is proposed in the bill to amend the Customs Act by abolishing the statutory 10 per cent. addition, it will be necessary to delete from the New Zealand Re-exports Act 1924 the provision whichoccurs twice in section 3 of that act for the addition of the “statutory 10 per cent.” in calculating the value for duty of goods re-exported from New Zealand.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Courtice) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to approve an agreement amending the agreement approved by the Sugar Agreement Act 1940.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Courtice) proposed -
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.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a. second time.
This bill is intended to approve the supplementary sugar agreement made on the 17th October last between the Australian Government and the Government of Queensland. Under that agreement the Australian and Queensland Governments agreed to amend the present sugar agreement to provide for an increase of £4 2s. 8d. per ton in the wholesale price of refined sugar of 1a grade, and for the prices of sugar of other grades at present fixed by the Sugar Agreement Act 1946, to be increased commensurately. Comparison of the new maximum prices with the present ones is supplied in the following table : -
The effect of the increase of £4. 2s. Sd. per ton in the wholesale price will be to raise the retail price of refined sugar by £4 13s. 4d. per ton, or, in other words, by id- per lb. The new retail price in. capital cities will therefore be 4£d. instead of 4d. per lb. The remaining clauses of the present sugar agreement will remain intact. The only purpose of the supplementary agreement is to increase the prices set out in clause 5 of the present agreement.
The decision of the Government to recommend to Parliament the amendment of the present sugar agreement to provide for increased prices was made after a careful survey of the present position and future prospects of the sugar industry, and after consultation with the Queensland Government, which had made the request, on behalf of the sugar industry, that prices be increased.
When the present agreement with the Queensland Government was signed in October, 194.5, the Australian Government gave an assurance to the sugar industry that, if during the currency of the agreement, cost levels in Australia increased substantially, it would be prepared to consider instituting an inquiry into the position of the industry. The Government has become increasingly aware of the difficulties which the industry had to face during the war years and since, and it is now convinced that the urgency of the industry’s need for assistance is such that immediate action must be taken to provide a stimulus to the industry.
Australia was, in pre-war years, one of the major sugar exporting countries of the world, its export quota of 400,000 tons under the International Sugar Agreement was exceeded only by those of Cuba, the Netherlands, the Philippines and the British Colonial Empire. Australian production was then approximately 800,000 tons per annum. However, because of the operation of unavoidable circumstances brought about by the war, production fell considerably during the last seven years. In .1943 the total output decreased to 523,000 tons, which was the lowest production since 1927. Production since 1943 has also been well below normal. Last year the crop yielded only 548,000 tons, and this season’s yield will be about 575,000 tons, which is still 225,000 tons below the pre-war average. As a consequence exports fell considerably. It is essential that the total production be restored to its pre-war level as quickly as possible, not only in order that we may export as great a quantity as possible to the United Kingdom to meet that country’s needs, but also that we may at least maintain our export quota when the international sugar agreement is being reviewed.
In recent yea.rs the sugar industry has suffered not only from a serious fall in production but also from other causes. The net return from sales of sugar on the domestic market has always been recognized as the major stabilizing factor in the industry’s economy. Owing to increased costs of transport, jute sacks, refining and selling, the net return available for distribution by Ohe Queensland Sugar Board to growers and millers from sugar consumed in Australia declined from £24 a ton in 1939 to £21 18s. a ton in 1946. The Premier of Queensland has estimated that if the price of sugar is not increased the return to the industry for the 1947 season’s crop will be still lower. In addition to the higher costs borne by the industry in respect of sugar after it has been milled, growers and millers have also had to meet much higher production costs on the sugar during the growing, harvesting and milling stages. Labour costs are a big item in the production of sugar, and an indication of how these have increased may be given by a comparison of -the wages of representative employees. For instance, the wages of field workers employed on cane farms increased by 43 per cent, between 1932 and July, 1947. Over the same period the wages of mill hands increased by 4S per cent. “Wages are now higher than in 1930, when the retail price of sugar was 4½d. per lb. Prices of materials used by both farmers and millers have also risen sharply. The cost of farm materials, including fertilizers, horse feed, oils and repairs has risen by approximately 40 percent., whilst the prices of mill materials have risen by varying amounts. Costs of the principal items, coal and firewood, have varied by over 30 per cent, and 33. per cent, respectively.
Before the war the Australian sugar industry was among the most efficient in the world, and the industry was justifiably proud of its high productive efficiency, with high yields of cane and sugar to the acre. Under war-time conditions, however, the efficiency of the industry declined owing to factors beyond its control, such as shortages of manpower, fertilizers, materials and shipping. The result was the lengthening of the crushing season, deterioration of sugar due to long delays in milling and transport of sugar to refineries, and reduced yield of sugar to the acre. The average tonnage of cane fell from 21 tons to the acre in 1936-38 to 16 tons to the acre in 1947. The sugar industry is highly mechanized. In the cultivation, harvesting and milling of the cane the machinery is heavy and. complex and represents a large portion of the final cost. For the past six or seven years the industry has been required to “ mend and make do “. Replacement and repairs have now to be undertaken at greatly increased, costs. The industry, having strained its resources in the past, cannot meet the increased costs from current profits. The combined effect of all the factors that I have mentioned has been to increase the industry’s overall costs by between 4’0 per cent, and 50 per cent. These have had to be carried, notwithstanding a fall of £2 2s. a ton in the net return from home-consumption sales.
Admittedly, export prices have risen, but they have been of little benefit to the industry because of the substantial decline of the quantity of sugar exported. The industry cannot be expected to carry on under these difficult conditions without compensation. The increase of £4 13s. 4d. a ton in the retail price of sugar will enable the industry to bear these increased costs and will facilitate the rehabilitation of the industry. Moreover, it will encourage a return to pre-war production levels. Although the retail price of sugar will be increased by £4 13s. 4d. a ton, the growers and millers will not benefit to that degree. Out of that amount an additional 10s. 8d. a ton will be paid to retail grocers, and an additional ls. Sd. a ton will go to sugar wholesalers. These increases are proportional to the margins already received by retailers and wholesalers. In addition, the sugar industry will no longer receive the benefit of the subsidy of 10s. a ton allowed on coastal freights. The subsidy will be withdrawn as from the date of operation of the new prices. The effect of these reductions will be to lower to £3 lis. a ton of refined sugar the amount payable to growers and millers out of the increase of £4 13s. 4d. a ton. The actual return to the industry, however, will be in terms of raw sugar produced. Conversion to a raw sugar basis would reduce the net return to approximately £3 7s. a ton. However, to arrive at the net return to the industry for future production, it would be also necessary to take into account further increases of costs. It is calculated that the price increase will raise the net return to growers and millers from, home consumption sugars of the 1947 crop by approximately £3 a ton of raw sugar. Not one penny of the extra moneys resulting from the increase of price will accrue to refiners, the object of the increase being primarily to raise the returns to the growers and millers of sugar. The amount of assistance to the fruit industry will not be altered.
The new price of sugar to manufacturers will still be amongst the lowest, if not the lowest, in the world. The price to manufacturers in New Zealand is £53 a ton; in the United State of America, the lowest price is £51 10s. a ton ; and in the United Kingdom it is £60 a ton. During the war Australian manufacturers of products containing sugar have been immune to the violent fluctuations of sugar prices overseas. In many countries the price of sugar rose to fantastic heig’hts, and in some countries these high prices still prevail. Exporters of manufactured products will continue to be protected by clauses in the agreement providing for the payment of export sugar rebates in the event of the world parity price of sugar falling below the equivalent Australian price. Australian consumers have also received the benefit of retail prices which have been amongst the lowest in the world, and have remained constant at their present level since the reduction of -id. per lb. was made in January, 1933, in accordance with the principles of the Premiers plan. The new retail price of 4-Jd. per lb. will still be generally lower than in any other country. The prices in* certain other countries expressed in Australian currency are as follows : -
The United Kingdom Ministry of Food announced on the 16th October last that as from the 9 th November the retail price of refined sugar would be increased by 2d. sterling per lb. This would make the price equivalent to 6¼d. per lb. in Australian currency. From the foregoing honorable senators will notice that it is clear that Australian consumers of sugar are in a much more advantageous position than are the people in other countries. Further, Australian consumers have not only been supplied with sugar from local sources when it would have been impossible to obtain supplies from other countries, but they have also been safeguarded against the high world prices which existed during the war, and still obtain. The measure of assistance which it is now proposed to afford the industry is fully justified. It will assist in rehabilitating the industry to its former level, and will maintain for Australia a virile white population in the vulnerable coastal areas of North Queens-
Sena for Courtice. land. It is unnecessary for me to reiterate at length the immense strategic value of the industry in that part of Australia. The events in the last war proved that clearly.
I have great pleasure in presenting the bill, because I appreciate fully that the changed conditions are justified. It is a matter for satisfaction to all Australians that the sugar-growing industry can operate successfully when only white labour is employed. Its present stability is due largely to the wise legislation passed in earlier years. The passing of this measure will assist an industry which is of great value to this country. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 22nd October (vide page 1090), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I congratulate you, Mr. President, upon your re-election to your high office in the Senate. I also welcome honorable senators who have just been elected to this chamber. Those who have already spoken have given ample evidence that they are acquisitions to the debating strength of this chamber. I regret to say, however, that criticism of the kind voiced by Senator O’Sullivan is to be deplored. His colleague, Senator Rankin, observed the best traditions of parliamentary debate throughout her speech. The same cannot be said about the remarks passed by Senator O’Sullivan concerning the late John Curtin. Mr. Curtin planned ahead, and as Prime Minister of this country achieved the most outstanding record of any man yet elected to this National Parliament. Throughout his period of office, when he was constantly harassed by the Opposition parties, he strove to promote the welfare of the country. Prior to the outbreak of the recent w.ar, when he was Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, he stressed the paramount importance of building up an adequate air force as the first line of our defence. He urged the government of the day to establish the organization required to maintain an effective air force. W!hat was the reaction of members of the government of the day to that proposal? They laughed at him, and said that he did not know what he was talking about. The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page”1 declared -
The defence policy of the Labour party is just a plain invitation to us to commit suicide . . Labour is asking the people to bury their head in the sand, and they will be all right.
Mr. Lyons, when he was Prime Minister, commented on the proposals then enunciated by Mr. Curtin as follows : -
A vote for Labour will mean the isolation of Australia from the rest of the Empire and a defence force which will consist mainly of aeroplanes.
And. the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) who claims to know all there is to be known about defence, speaking in the House of Representatives on the 25th August, 1937, said -
The idea that aircraft are going to fight the next war is absolutely wrong . . . Their principal duty will be to obtain information.
Eoi lowing our experience in the early days of the recent war when we felt so tragically the lack of an air force to defend this country, we now know that the policy advocated by the late Mr. Curtin was much sounder than that supported by members of anti-Labour governments before the outbreak of the war.
The need to provide water conservation is one of the most pressing problems now confronting this country. Although we have had drought after drought, Ave have failed dismally in this respect. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) had much to say on this matter. This Government is tackling the problem. [ recall that the State Labour Government in Western Australia did more in this sphere than any other government in the history of this country. It constructed the Mundaring Weir and the reservoir at Canning Dam. Water conservation is the first requisite of an effective policy of land settlement. We cannot hope to establish young men on the land unless adequate supplies of water are made available in all settlements.
I emphasize the need for the Australian Broadcasting Commission to give every possible encouragement to young
Australians who are distinguished for their talent in the musical field. When speaking in aid of orphanages at a Pleasant Sunday Afternoon recently in Western Australia I was brought to book because I said that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is not providing opportunities for local talent. At the same time, I criticized the commission for its over eagerness to import artists from abroad. The commission should give more consideration to the development of local musical talent. I am disgusted when I listen to some of the jazz bands included in the commission’s programmes. Their .performances remind me of Chinese music. The commission should reduce its importation of artists from overseas in order to give greater opportunities to local talent. I know several young artists in Western Australia who have never been given a chance in this respect.
I urge honorable senators generally, particularly the younger members of this chamber, to take every opportunity to see at first hand as much of this great Commonwealth as they possibly can. In that way they will be enabled to obtain a proper perspective of the difficulties and needs confronting our people in all parts of the continent. Since I was elected to the Senate, I have visited practically every part of the Commonwealth and I have taken every opportunity to disseminate the knowledge I thus gained among people not familiar with conditions outside the district, or the State, in which they live. As the result of my visits to Queensland, I always have a good word to’ say for that State.
– What is wrong with New South Wales?
– So far as New South Wales and Victoria are concerned, Western Australia is not on the map. It is- about time that the people of the eastern States gave Western Australia a fair “ go “. The only publicity given to Western Australia in the press of the eastern States is of the sensational type, such as reports of unusual crimes.
Reverting to land settlement, I again emphasize the need for an extensive programme of water conservation. I recall that in Western Australia the
Midland Railway Company bought a considerable area of land and assisted young settlers to take up holdings. To-day, those farmers are among the finest in Australia. We should also improve our pastures. We should give special encouragement to young married couples to settle on the land. I suggest that the Government should implement a policy of marriage loans for this purpose. In this respect, we could well emulate the example set by South Africa, where a deduction of from £50 to £100, is made from the original loan upon the birth of a child, the reductions being progressively . increased upon the birth of additional children. We must ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes made in respect of land settlement in the past. In Western Australia many settlers were starved off the land during the depression. Six months had not elapsed after they had deserted their homesteads when all buildings were practically destroyed. As a requisite in land settlement, first-class homes should be provided for settlers, who should be assisted in every way possible in order to enable them to avoid being strangled by debt.
Housing is another urgent problem. When I was a member of the Opposition in this chamber, I was informed in answer to <a question that the shortage of houses in Canberra at that time was 365 dwellings. To-day, we are nearly 1,000 houses short of our requirements in the National Capital. Prior to the war, anti-Labour Governments failed to undertake housing programmes. Although timber, bricks .and man-power were available in abundance, no worthwhile programme was undertaken to provide homes for our people. To-day, however, members of the Opposition ask why sufficient houses cannot now be provided. The reason, of course, i3 clear. During the war all of our young men were in the defence forces and hundreds of thousands were employed in the production of war materials; we had no surplus labour to cut timber and provide the materials necessary for the construction of homes. The Government is now doing a wonderful job in this direction. When I was a member of the State Parliament of Western Australia, many people built homes under a Workers Homes Scheme.
At that time the average cost of a home was from £500 to £600. Purchasers also paid a deposit of about £50 on furniture which they required. When the depression came, many of those people lost their homes because of the burden of debt which they were obliged to carry. To-day, on the average, homes cost twice as much. At various centres in Victoria, we saw under construction houses of the type known as “ brick veneer “. They consist of an outer wall of brick, and an inner lining of wood and fibrous plaster. 1 made some inquiries about them, and I was informed that compared with a brick house, this type of construction resulted in the saving of sufficient bricks to build an extra room. The fibrous plaster work and insulation was of a high standard. The homes are modern and look very well indeed.
I come now to the matter on which I have spoken many times before since I first entered this chamber, namely, the standardization of railway gauges. I am satisfied that this project at last is to become a reality. In . this country we are one people, and we should have one railway gauge. At present a traveller from Perth to Brisbane has to change trains half a dozen times. These changes are a constant annoyance to everybody, and more important, they are a great inconvenience to women and children. The proposal is to provide a standard gauge line from Perth to Brisbane. At present there are three gauges : In Victoria and South Australia, the gauge is 5 ft. 3 in., in Queensland and Western Australia, 3 ft. 6 in. and in New South Wales, 4 ft. in. - the standard gauge. Not long ago, when I was booking my passage from Perth to Canberra for a meeting of Parliament - since the abolition of priorities we have to book 28 days in advance - a gentleman standing in front of me was making bookings for five people. I heard him ask the booking clerk, “ Will I have to stand in a queue again at Spencer-street station in Melbourne to get tickets for the rest of my journey to Brisbane?”. The booking clerk said, “ I have not received a telegram stating that bookings have been made for the journey beyond Melbourne. You will have to take your turn with the others when you reach that city.” The man then said, “Well cancel the lot; we shall go by air “. This meant a substantial loss to the railways. The provision of a standard gauge line from one end of the Commonwealth to the other would increase the popularity of rail travel, and so bolster railway revenue. In addition, of course, there would be the added convenience not only for travellers, but also for railway employees. I believe also that the standardization of our railway gauges would open up hitherto undeveloped country. In view of all these obvious advantages, why have two States, Western Australia and Queensland, refused to sign the standardization agreement ? The time will come when they will have to sign. I was pleased to note that while the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) was in the United States of America, he made a close inspection of the American railway system with a view to determining Australia’s needs. I understand that the survey of the proposed standard gauge line is proceeding. So far, it has cost £35,738. The Australian Government at least is doing its best. The estimated cost of the completed standardization job is £41,000,000. South Australia was only too pleased to sign the agreement, and had the responsibility of determining Western Australia’s participation in the scheme rested with me I certainly should have signed because I have no doubt that even if that State were unable to make the necessary contribution, Commowealth assistance would be given to enable the job to be finished. The refusal of these two States to participate has delayed the work temporarily, but I am confident that it will not be long before an agreement is reached
A standard gauge line across the Australian continent is a matter of first-class importance in time of war for the transport of troops and war materials. The Lender of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) touched upon another advantage that would be derived from the completion of this project, namely, greater transport facilities for stock in time of drought. At present, because of the break-of-gauge difficulties, the transport of starving and thirsty stock by rail is not- an economic proposition, but the elimination of the transference of stock from one truck to another would greatly facilitate and cheapen this service. More rapid freight transportation between Western Australia and the eastern States would also be of great benefit to the Western Australian primary producers, particularly vegetable and fruit growers. Western Australian tomatoes, for instance, could be sent to the Melbourne market two or three months before crops grown in the eastern States mature. I believe also that fruit could be carried by rail from Western Australia and sold on the eastern markets, in many instances more cheaply than the local products. Take for instance, the price of fruit in Canberra. In this city one has to pay 3d., 4d. or 5d. each for apples and oranges, while passion-fruit is 2s. 6d. or 3s. a dozen. Even with substantial freight charges, Western Australian fruit could be marketed here more cheaply than that. Our tomato-growers are considered to be amongst the most efficient in the Commonwealth, and the quality of their product is unexcelled.
The Minister for Transport has stated that half of the cost of the first portion of the standardization project would be incurred in respect of labour and materials. An important factor in this regard is the use of modern earth-moving equipment. In days gone by, this type of work was carried out by men wielding picks and shovels and wheeling barrows. To-day it is all done by machines such as bulldozers. Bearing in mind the railway standardization project, the Government was sufficiently far-seeing to retain in the various States some of the earth-moving equipment used during the war for the making of aerodromes. This machinery is available for use as soon as the agreement becomes operative; and it must become operative because the people of this country are demanding progress. One often hears the criticism that the standardization of our railway gauges would not be a paying proposition; but the railways are a public utility, and are operated more for the convenience of the people than for the making of profits. Whether they pay or not, their service is essential to the .community. Travelling in a modern comfortable train is a pleasant experience. The trains on the trans-Australia line between Port
Augusta and Kalgoorlie are an example of modern rail travel. They are a credit to the people of Australia, and to the Commonwealth Department of .Railways. The difference is very noticeable when one gets into the trains at either end of the trans-Australia line. When I visited Queensland recently people said, “ You must have a ride in our ‘ Sunshine Express”’; but I found that the train was of about the same standard as the express running between Kalgoorlie and Perth. We want more trains of the type now running on the trans-Australia line. I conclude my remarks on this matter by again emphasizing the necessity for a standard gauge line, not only for the convenience and comfort of travellers, but also in the interests of Australian defence, and for the carriage of stock in drought, periods. Australian citizens living in widely separated parts of the Commonwealth should have an opportunity to meet each other and learn more about ea.ch other’s ways of life.
I congratulate Senator Rankin on her remarks regarding the necessity for improved telephone services. The time has arrived, as the honorable senator said, when every house should have a telephone. We must not be content to rest upon past achievements. I believe that the revenue of the Postmaster-General’s Department in the last month or six weeks from all sources, would be sufficient to provide all the telephone and new post offices that are required.
– That work is now in progress.
– I am glad to hoar it. For many years I have advocated the construction of a new post office ill; Inglewood, Western Australia. In that regard I pay a tribute to the late Senator Collett, during whose term in a previous Ministry, specifications and plans were prepared for this work. Unfortunately the war broke out, and the project had to be shelved ; but I am informed by the present PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) that the Inglewood post office is the next job to be undertaken in Western Australia, and I intend to see that it is.
– So do I.
– You have heard the Postmaster-General’s remark,
Mr. President. I shall not let him forget it. I appeal to my Western Australian colleagues in this chamber to help me keep the Postmaster-General to his word.
– We . shall keep him up to it.
– Provided we can get the materials.
– I shall deal now with another matter. I remember hearing my parents say in days gone by that any one who cut down a tree should plant two to replace it. Unfortunately that is not being done in Australia today. In Western Australia, some of the finest hardwoods in Australia, including jarrah and karri are grown. The natural forests are gradually being cut out to provide timber not only for local requirements, but also for export to South Africa, India and the eastern States ; but there is no replanting. There are many artificial softwood forests in this country, but in my opinion adequate steps are not being taken to safeguard our supply of hardwoods. There should be an act of parliament providing for the planting of two trees for every one cut down. Softwoods mature in 25 to 30 years, but hardwoods take much longer. We must look to the future. In Germany in the prewar years re-afforestation was compulsory, and that is why there is no shortage of timber in that country to-day. If the present practice continues, Australia will be without an adequate supply of hardwoods at some time in the future. We must make provision for the needs of generations to come. Unless we plant trees, our timber resources will be exhausted. It is foolish to import timber when we could provide for our future needs by planting carefully.
The newspapers recently reported statements that had been made in the House of .Representatives about communism. It was said by one honorable member that the Communists had the Labour party “ by the throat “. I should like to see the Communist who could get me by the throat. The Communists have never dominated the .Labour party. The statement was all “ hooey “. Every man and woman who joins the Australian Labour party must first sign a pledge of loyalty to the organization, which has been kept free of the influence of communism. The
Labour party has made remarkable progress in the interests of this country since it has been in power. Australia is a young and vigorous nation, and I hope that it will grow to great proportions. The Labour party is the only political party capable of governing the people efficiently and giving effect to their wishes. Why is this? Because it has always been strong and united. I recall that the United Australia party and the Australian Country party, when they were in power, were always fighting between themselves with the result that they could not govern the country efficiently. Unlike the Liberal party, the Australian Labour party has never had to change its name. A party must be united within its ranks in order to succeed. The Labour party has always been a stronglyknit organization. It is a credit to the people, and to-day it is stronger than ever before. For over six years the people have entrusted the Australian Labour party with the direction of Australia’s affairs. It has created full employment and provided a better standard of living for Australians than is enjoyed in other countries.
The world is in a troubled state today, but I have faith that this Government will direct our people along the road to happiness. It will provide the machinery necessary for that purpose. An example of its wise and efficient administration is to be seen in its reestablishment schemes for ex-service personnel. The Government is always willing and happy to assist exservicemen to establish themselves on farms and in businesses. I have supported the applications of numbers of exservicemen who needed assistance to establish their own businesses. Not one of those applications was “ knocked back and all of those men are prospering. Men who have applied for assistance t;o settle on the land have been treated in an equally helpful fashion. I have had no trouble in obtaining financial help for such men. Ex-servicemen who do not wish to settle on the land or engage in business are assisted by means of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, which provides them with technical training of all sorts. This Government has also done a great deal to help invalids by finding profitable employment for them. I know two young ladies who, because of their ill health, were unable to work. They were so handicapped by their disabilities that they rarely went out of doors. However, the Commonwealth social services authorities provided them with training. One of them found employment in a florist’s shop, where conditions of work were not difficult.. In that job she gained confidence in herability, and to-day she is a shareholder in a florist’s business. By means of such encouragement and help, many people whoformerly were not able to support themselves are now happily employed. This humane work has also saved the expenditure of thousands of pounds of public money on pensions.
The Australian Labour party has a proud history, but we must not live in the past. The methods of fifteen or twenty years ago are unsatisfactory to-day. We have to plan ahead, always keeping an eye on the future. The only way to make this country successful and prosperous is for all of us to give of our very best. In that statement I include politicians, trade unionists, and other workers. I include politicians because we are supposed to do our best for the people we represent. However, we need the help of the workers. People complain that the Government has failed to d« many things. But it has accomplished many notable improvements since it has been in office. When the Labour party was in opposition in this Parliament, I was a member of the parliamentary committee on war expenditure. My blood boiled when I visited war-time factories in Sydney and Melbourne which were operating on the cost-plus system, an obnoxious method of robbing the Government.
– Conducted by private enterprise?
– Yes. When the Labour party came into power it eliminated that system of extorting unreasonably large profits from public funds. The Government is particularly mindful of the interests of our young citizens. The women of Australia, particularly the young ones, gave wonderful service to the country during World War II. Some of them served for 4rJ years with the armed forces. They worked well then, but to-day they are not willing to work in industry under difficult and arduous conditions. I visited a tobacco factory in Melbourne one morning some time ago and saw a full staff of girls at work. When I had occasion to re-visit the factory in the afternoon there was not one girl at work. I asked where they had gone, and I was told that, because they had earned so much money during the war, they were prepared now to work only half shifts. I carne back the following morning and once again I saw a full staff of girls at work. Many of them received such hard treatment from officers in the army during the war that now they are not anxious to over-exert themselves. I have ample proof that girls who enrolled in the auxiliary services had to work for long shifts under very tiresome conditions. Women were employed in industry under the regimes of anti-Labour governments in somewhat similar circumstances, but the Labour party has made sure that those conditions shall not return. Before the Labour party came into power, I sent two men to a government employment office in Francis-street, Perth, to obtain jobs. They had served in the Army during World War I, and were good citizens. The letter from me which they presented was placed on a file, as I learned later, and when I visited the officer a week afterwards I found that they had not been given jobs. The reason for this was that they were not of the same kidney as the officer who interviewed them. However, they were given jobs afterwards, because I “ spilled the beans “. The antagonistic attitude of some government employees continued even after the Labour party came into power. Such men were always ready to hamper the efforts of the Government to improve working conditions. They were never willing to let members of Parliament visit their offices, but I entered one group of offices once by means of a pretext and, while I was talking to a young employee, another man asked him who I was. When he learned my name, he said, “What could he do here?” I said, “Because of your remark I shall let you see what T can do here. If this place is not cleaned up, sprayed, and fumigated within 24 hours, these people will not be allowed to work here “. The man left then. Within 24 hours he was shifted out of the building altogether and it was fumigated. People can play with me for a while, but it is not safe to do so for too long.
Australia is better known in the rest of the world to-day than ever before in its history. We have ‘an outstanding representative overseas now in the person of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). He has been criticized by members of the Opposition parties, but articles and reports which appear in the newspapers of other countries show how highly he is regarded abroad. Even General Smuts, of South Africa, has praised him to the utmost. Our diplomatic representatives in other countries also are of outstanding calibre. Mr. Makin is a wonderful ambassador for Australia in the United States of America. Mr. Forde is doing a good job on our behlf in Canada as is Mr. Beasley in Great Britain. Australia’s name is becoming well known because our representatives are not afraid to speak their minds and tell the world about conditions in this country. Honorable senators opposite and their colleagues in the House of Representatives have complained about the expense of sending representatives abroad. Never mind about the expense ! The cost of overseas representation is more than outweighed by the benefits derived from it. Members of this Parliament can learn a great deal by travelling and put their knowledge to good use on behalf of the people.
To-day we have opportunities to increase production of foodstuffs in Australia such as we have never had before. There. are great markets to be served, and prices are profitable. Producers are in a better situation than they have been in for years. In spite of this, our opponents say that we are not doing enough to stimulate production of food and other commodities. I remind them again that they cannot have their cake and eat it too. People will not work on the land if they ca-n find more congenial employment elsewhere. I hope that some of the immigrants brought to Australia by this government will settle on the land. As the immigration scheme progresses, we should be able to overtake the lag in the production of primary commodities. The Government is encouraging the use of modern methods of production. Under its guidance, I believe that Australians will outstrip other countries in devising methods of producing primary commodities. Australians can equal any achievements in other countries, either in the field of production or on the battle-field. Our soldiers have proved that they are incomparable as fighting men. Under this Government, Australia will have one of thefinest navies in the world. It will be a fighting service of which, in view of the size of this nation, we can well be proud. I have here a report on the Royal Australian Navy which, with the consent of honorable senators, I shall incorporate in Hansard. It has only one feature which I dislike. That is the absence of any reference to the construction of a dock at the Fremantle Naval base as a memorial to the late Mr. John Curtin. Fremantle is the gateway to Australia. There should be a dock at that port, but there is no reference to any such undertaking in the report. There are docks in Queensland and in New South Wales, and the Government would be justified in providing one in Western Australia, even if it were only a floating dock. That is a wish which was expressed by the late Mr. Curtin. The report is as follows: -
The estimates indicate the sum of £15,000,000 is being voted for the Navy Department for the coining year.
Some months ago the Minister for Defence stated amongst other things, that the Navy had laid down a plan for the next five years - a plan which would cost £75,000,000.
The Government has decided to rebuild a Royal Australian Naval Squadron with two aircraft carriers as the core of that squadron. The first carrier is to be commissioned during this financial year: the second carrier is to be commissioned in the following year.
At the present time two destroyers are being built - one at Cockatoo Dockyard and one at the Naval Dockyard at Williamstown, Victoria. Four more destroyers are to be built at the shipyards in the course of the next five years; in other words, six new destroyers will be added to the Australian Squadron. At the 30th June, 1952, at the conclusion of the naval five-year plan, the Royal Australian Squadron will consist of -
Two modern light fleet carriers;
Six destroyers; and other vessels, whilst in reserve there will he one cruiser and two destroyers, and a considerable number of other vessels.
Of the ships in commission, it is quite obvious that Australia will have the strongest peace-time Navy in her history. In addition the squadron will be modern; the two carriers, for instance, will be equipped with every modern device.
These carriers will have 24 aircraft each during peace, and in the event of war these numbers will rise to about 44. They will consist of Fire Flies and Sea Furies. The top speed of these aircraft is in the vicinity of 400 miles per hour - in other words, the aircraft will also be modern.
It is noted the personnel of the Royal Australian Navy at the present time is 10,450 - this will rise to 14,753 by the 30th June, 1952. In pre-war days the number of personnel in the Royal Australian Navy was about 6,000 - this indicates also just by how much the Royal Australian Naval Squadron is being stepped up.
The Government is indicating to the world through this plan that, although we have a population of a little over 7,000,000, we do recognize our responsibility to the British Commonwealth of Nations in matters of defence.
In time of war a navy fills a dual role - First, it can be used as a striking force against the enemy, and secondly for the purpose of keeping the sea lanes open in the event of Australia being involved in another war. As has already been very forcibly brought home to us during the war with Japan, it is absolutely essential for us to receive assistance from outside Australia.
We are many thousands of miles from the United States and nearly as far from South Africa. These sea lanes would have to be kept open; therefore, from the point of view of our own defence, it is essential that the Navy be modernized and increased in numbers. Due regard, however, must be paid to the Government’s policy of progressively reducing taxation, so that the naval plan has been formulated with a view to -
1 ) our increasing responsibilities for Pacific defence; and
the desirability of keeping our sea lanes open in time of war; and the Government is able to achieve this and at the same time effect substantial reductions in taxation, because the cost of the Navy must come from taxation.
In conclusion, I am convinced that if Australians will unite in their efforts to overcome the problems confronting them, as they did during the war, nothing can prevent the advancement of this country, economically and socially.
– I propose to address myself to some of the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), because the matters which he raised are important and deserve consideration. In the course of his speech lie said “ The receipts from direct taxation have increased substantially year by year. It can have only one result and that is simply to tax enterprise tod initiative out of existence “. However, that is so only in appearance and not in reality. Fundamentally, all taxes, direct and indirect, are paid by the workers engaged in essential industries and services. Taxes can be paid only from the wealth created by the workers of the country. Unless those workers make possible an income for the nonproductive members of the community, the latter would not be able to pay taxes. Extending that line of reasoning, one realizes that the workers are really responsible for the higher knowledge and learning attained by the graduates of our universities and technical institutions. Those graduates are regarded as possessing superior intellects, but the fact remains that they would not be able to attain any degree of advanced learning were it not for the wealth created by the workers in the first place. As I say, people engaged in non-essential occupa tions, including members of this Parliament, are able to pay taxes only because of the wealth created by the workers in the community. Although complaints are made of the allegedly high taxes, it is paradoxically true that the incomes of public companies and large private concerns have never been higher than they are to-day; in fact, their profits constitute a record. Yet, notwithstanding that fact, the Leader of the Opposition suggests that they are in danger of being taxed out of existence. However, a moment’s reflection will convince anyone that the position is quite the reverse. I have had prepared a summary of the profits earned by a number of large companies from figures in respect of the period from July to October which appeared in the columns of the Melbourne Herald. That summary shows very clearly the substantial increase of profits made by those companies, even after payment of the allegedly high taxes, and with the permission of honorable senators I propose to incorporate it in Hansard. It is as follows : -
Some more interesting figures are disclosed in a recent issue of Rydge’s Journal. and also by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics, and with the permission of honorable senators I propose to incorporate them in Hansard-
Those lists include most of the large companies in Australia, and the statistics contained in them prove conclusively that, in spite of the allegedly high taxation, their profits were never greater. Indeed, their profits, in many cases, constitute an all-time record. Yet we are told by the Leader of the Opposition and others who think as he does that high taxation will drive these businesses out of existence. The figures that I have given to the Senate show clearly that the banks have not yet been driven out of existence. On the contrary, the greater their profits the fiercer their resistance.
If honorable senators have been sufficiently interested in the tables compiled by the Commonwealth Statistician, they will know that between 1938-39 and 1946-47 the income of companies increased by £14,000,000, and that private capital investments increased during the same period by £125,000,000. That happened notwithstanding an increase of £37,000,000 in direct taxes, which comprised income tax, undistributed profits tax, and war-time company tax. Increases of wages and salaries by business undertakings, including public utilities, - have not been separated from the figures for salaries and wages in respect of private undertakings. At the 30th June, 1939, the income of companies, comprising distributed and undistributed dividends for both local and overseas shareholders, was £73,000,000. That amount represented the net profit after paying direct taxes amounting to £16,000,000. For 1946-47, the net profit was £87,000,000, after paying £53,000,000 in taxes. Those figures show that compared with 1938-39 company profits for 1946-47 showed a net increase of £14,000,000, despite high taxation. Those figures do not indicate that high taxes have been designed to tax enterprise and initiative out of existence. I leave it to the Leader of the Opposition to study those figures from the angle from which I have approached them. Probably on the next occasion that he speaks in this chamber he may try to point out where enterprise and initiative are being taxed out of existence, but I contend that the figures do not support that view.
Reference has been made to profits, which many people regard as sacred. Profits come into existence as the result of the under-payment of wages on the one hand and over-charging on the other hand. During the war years, these allegedly patriotic companies did remarkably well. They were able to capitalize to a degree never before possible the sufferings and sacrifices of others. The war proved a veritable harvest for them, because had there been no war they would not have been able to make such profits. Yet these are the people who to-day screech from the house-tops against the workers who have the temerity to cease work as a protest against unjust conditions. These facts should be stated in this chamber, because they are never stated in the press, and only occasionally are they heard over broadcasting stations. There are obvious reasons why such statements are not made more frequently. They can be stated only by representatives of the Labour party who study such matters and are not misled by the jargon of the gentlemen who style themselves economists or accountants, or even of those entrepreneurs who would teach everybody else what to do. Members of the Labour movement know that before anything worth-while can be done for the people the processes which have been in operation over the years must be put in reverse gear. “What is needed is the payment of a maximum wage to workers and a reduction of prices to the minimum. When I refer to prices, I desire to point out that increasing capital charges are included in prices, and thus the enormous profits that are being made are accounted for. At the last general elections the people were asked whether they desired the existing iniquitous system to continue. The Government asked for additional powers over industry so that the man who worked the hardest in essential industries and services should receive the maximum wage and the best treatment. From public platforms throughout the Commonwealth, the position was explained, but the people rejected the proposals. As a result of that defeat private enterprise has been able to rob the people as never before. That is the reason why there is trouble throughout the world - strikes, disputes and hold-ups. Is it reasonable to expect anything else? The workers may not understand the technique of those who exploit them, but they feel the effects of the exploitation. They find, for example, that although their nominal wages rise, the extra money in their pockets will not purchase more than previously, and they wonder why. Those who exploit them ignore the principle that quantitative differences beyond a certain point became qualitative changes. The result is that the satisfied worker of yesterday becomes the dissatisfied worker of to-day. That is because the workers realize that they are being robbed through the medium of accumulated profits.
The Leader of the Opposition said that thousands of ex-service personnel were searching for homes, and he asked what was the cause of that tragedy. The cause should be apparent to him. Homes for workers have always been in short supply. So long as I can remember, there have never been sufficient homes for the workers, except, perhaps, when they lived in tents. This country has what is known as a basic wage. The term means exactly what it says. The workers are expected te be content with a minimum of food, clothing and shelter. Many of the companies to which I have referred are vitally concerned with keeping old dilapidated houses in existence. In each of our capital cities, as for instance, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or Adelaide, there are thousands of houses 50, 60 or 70 years old in which workers and their families are living. Many of the buildings are verminous, badly ventilated, and damp; they are veritable death-traps. Yet those who own them charge exorbitant rentals to the occupiers. The capital cost of these houses is recovered by their owners over and over again during the period of occupancy, yet the worker is paid once only for building them. There will never be adequate housing for the workers under those conditions. It is true that Commonwealth and State authorities are building houses as quickly as they can. The policy of Labour is to provide healthy homes fit for the rearing of families, but its power to give effect to that policy is limited. It is private enterprise, operating under various names as the hanks do, that is restricting supplies in every direction and making it impossible for the community to obtain the requisite materials. Private enterprise is using workmen in hundreds and thousands in non-essential services. Therefore, if we are to abolish these houses which are unfit for human habitation, the houses in which the most useful people live, there is only one way to do it, and that is to say to the landlords and the bankers, “Gentlemen, you have recovered your capital costs 20 or 30 times over. For the future, instead of charging 30s. or 35s. a week rental for a house that is not worth 5s. a week, the rent will be the cost of the maintenance “. Then it will not be profitable for those sections of the community to invest new capital in old houses. They will then discover that it willbe more profitable to invest their capital in new houses; and they will be made to understand that capital costs cannot be recoveredor multiplied indefinitely. Prices and costs may beclassified in two categories, the economic price and the monetary price. The economic price of production has never been lower than it is to-day; but the monetary cost of production, in terms ofdepreciated currency plus capital charges, has never been higher than it is to-day. That system is controlled by private enterprise. This Government has not the power to interfere to the degree that is necessary. It has not the power to re-organize our internal economy so as to bring about the abolition of slums and make it possible to provide adequate housing at a minimum cost.
The Government proposes to ask the people in the near future to give to the National Parliament the necessary authority to control prices. Then, we shall see honorable senators opposite taking the platforms screeching, “ This is socialism ! The Communists are at the back ofthis. They are out to rob you of your heritage and freedom. Are you going to allow that? These men in the Federal Parliament, these revolutionaries ! “ Honorable senators opposite will not make their appeal to the common sense of the people, but to the fears and prejudices of the people, as their spokesmen are doing to-day. They will not argue on the pros and the cons, or on the figures, and show the distinction between economic price and monetary price. On the contrary, they will dish out the same platitudes which they dished out years ago - these great statesmen who have fooled, ruled and robbed the people for years and will endeavour to continue to do so. It is necessary that these things he said.
I am just wondering for how long the people of this country will tolerate the present shortage of houses. The Government cannot be blamed for the shortage, because it has not the power to undertake the work that must be done. Probably, if it attempted to enact the necessary legislation it would be challenged in the High Court and, very probably, that super-legislative body, which is not responsible to the people, would declare the legislation to be ultra vires. That has happened in the past, as we know; and, probably, it wouldhappen again if the Government attempted to do what I have said. So, the Government will holda referendum on this matter. The difference between holding a referendum with respect to the Government’s banking power and the power to control prices is that the Commonwealth already has power under the Constitution, as it has had for the last 46 years, to deal with banking; but it has no power to deal with prices in the manner that I have indicated.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) said that there had been no substantial increase of unit production. We have to ask ourselves: “Does Senator Cooper know what he is talking about, or does the Commonwealth Statistician know what he is talking about?”; because the Commonwealth Statistician says, emphatically, that except in a few instances, there has been a substantial increase in the unit of production. I quote from a report published in the Melbourne Herald dealing with a return issued by the Commonwealth Statistician early in September last -
A production rise in many fields of Australian industry is disclosed in figures just issued by the Commonwealth Statistician. The rise is very heartening, although it is not nearly enough to overtake the great accumulation of war-time arrears and to provide for the growth of population.
If honorable senators opposite are sufficiently interested in the very informative reports that are issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, they should obtain the last report released on the 25th September and examine the figures set out in it. They will find that in nearly every instance there has been an increase of the unit of production. Yet. the Leader of the Opposition says that there has been no increase of the unit of production. It may be all right for honorable senators opposite to make statements of that kind in the press, or from the public platform, when their hearers may not know any better; but it is not quite all right to make such statements in a legislative assembly of this kind.
The Leader of the Opposition had something to say about strikes. He sees great dangers in strikes. He is rather perturbed and wants to know all about them. I submit this thought to him : All strikes have their origin in incompetent or very provocative management. “When we examine the background of every strike and study the facts, we shall find that provocation or incompetent management is responsible for it. I wonder at times, in my meditative moments, just how long the workers are going to tolerate the conditions that are developing. What constitutes the greatest obstacle to the social reforms that we desire to effect to-day? I should say that it- is the readiness with which the great majority of workers are prepared to acquiesce in their own subjection. What I hold against the workers is that they acquiesce in their present conditions of life and employment to a far greater degree than they are justified in doing. To us a colloquialism, if they were more militant and more intelligently aggressive, they would receive much better treatment than they receive to-day. The coal-miners would not be living in hovels on the coal-fields, and their working conditions w;ould be made safer. All through the war the coal-miners at Wonthaggi in Victoria worked year after year, down on their hands and knees in from eighteen to twenty inches of slush. There was not one strike during the war at those mines. The coal-miners continued to get out the coal so that we could carry on our war effort. Yet the great statesmen in the Opposition parties in this Parliament condemn them whenever they ask for more congenial working conditions. I express my surprise sometimes that they are so easily satisfied. They are not living in this world as workers to work out their very soul case in order to provide profits for certain people. The workers should not be influenced in the slightest by the criticism that is levelled at them in the press by editors who write according to instructions, or by members of. the Opposition in this Parliament who criticize them because they are not working hard enough and fast enough. After many years, far more than should have been the case, the workers applied to the Arbitration Court for a 40-hour week, and, eventually, the court awarded a 40-hour week. Judge Foster made the admission, which I was very glad to read, that the court acted in a dictatorial capacity. It has always done so in the past.
But just now a change is taking place. A 40-hour week has been conceded to the workers. What did the non-workers say then - “ What is to become of our profits? We demand that you work harder and faster so that our profits will not be in any way reduced or imperilled “. That is their cry, and they want to make the workers keep pace with the machine. I sometimes wish that I was back among the workers in the various positions which I occupied in the past in order to urge them to strike and resist, and to point out to them, as can be pointed out, that they have an unanswerable claim for better treatment. They have been fooled, ruled and robbed from the cradle to the grave. Figures prove that to be so. When I was a member of the Opposition in this chamber in 1939 I advocated in connexion with taxation that no one who was receiving £500 a year, or less, should be obliged to pay income tax until all persons who were receiving considerably in excess of that amount had been taxed down towards that level. That has never been done; and that is one reason why so much profit is being made by certain people to-day. We have just gone through the greatest war in the history of the world, and have been subject to the greatest dangers that Australia has ever known. Members of the Government know more about those dangers than most people. After a shipwreck, when all the passengers are in the life-boat, there are no privileges for first-class passengers. All have to pull their weight, and the rations are divided on the principle of share and share alike. But all through the recent war, in Australia, Great
Britain and the United States of America, the people who were appropriating war-time profits on a scale never known before, were dining, wining and living on the best while men were suffering and being sacrificed in the front line That is how the war was capitalized. Strikes are a healthy reaction. They bring us back to earth. If it were not for strikes, no consideration would be shown for the workers at all. If the workers of this country were as acquiescent as they are in other lands, particularly those inhabited by coloured races, we should be down to the level of those races in no time. If it were not for strikes this country would still be a convict settlement, provided certain individuals overseas had their way.
For the benefit of our new friend, Senator Rankin, I shall refer now to the Postmaster-General’s Department. I am rather flattered to find that my department was the only one mentioned by the honorable senator. I do not know what I have said or done to deserve this compliment. First, I should like to point out the reason why the report of my department for 1945-46 is not available. Not so much by direct statement as by very subtle implication - a technique in which the honorable senator appears to excel - she indicated that the delay was our fault; that we were dilatory and neglected our duties; and that we treated this Parliament with contempt. The fact is that the report has been in the hands of the Government Printer for the last three months, but has not yet been printed. I do not suggest for a moment that that is the fault of the Government Printer. It is not. The Government Printing Office is overworked, and requires additional men and machinery. Mr. Johnston has done his best to have the report- published on time, but the task has been a physical impossibility. I assure Senator Rankin that when the report is available I shall be most happy to supply her with a copy.
Senator Rankin referred to the profits made by the Postmaster-General’s Department. It is true that the department has made substantial profits, but under past administrations the practice was to pay those profits into Consolidated Revenue and starve the services provided by the department. The object of putting the profits into Consolidated Revenue was, of course, to protect wealthy individuals against additional taxes. Whenever there was a financial lag to be made up, although there was always the remedy of increased taxes on higher incomes, these governments had a look at the ledger of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and saw that profits were accumulating. Immediately, these profits were transferred to Consolidated Revenue. The result is that, to-day, most of the 2,000 post offices throughout the Commonwealth are obsolete. I have said on several occasions, and I say again, that some of them are no better than glorified shanties, due to the apathy, neglect, and lack of foresight on the part of previous governments. This Government inherited not only the arrears of the war years when 7,500 of the working personnel of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and 800 of its first-class technicians served in the fighting forces, but also the arrears of the depression years, when hundreds of thousands of men were looking in vain for work, ‘although ample materials were available, and there was plenty of money in the banks in the form of frozen credits. The Government, realizing the task confronting it, has done what no other administration was courageous enough to do. It has short-circuited the procedure of allocating moneys for works undertakings for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Instead of that department having to go to the Government year by year and ask for money to carry out essential work, a four-year programme involving the expenditure of £42,000,000 has been drawn up. The Government has authorized the expenditure of £30,000,000 in the first three years, and £12,000,000 in the fourth year. Our present difficulty is to obtain sufficient labour and materials to carry out this work. The activities of the department have grown enormously, notwithstanding the six years of war, during which a substantial proportion of its technical and working personnel were in the armed forces. With the trained staff remaining, and the large numbers of untrained workers that we were able to obtain, the turnover has increased from £182,000,000 in 1939 to £500,000,000 in 1945-46. In addition, we have established all-time records for the installation of telephones. Last year, 92,000 telephones were installed. At the cessation of hostilities, the back-lag was about 42,000, but, not withstanding the enormous number of installations since then, the lag is now 107,000. Honorable senators will appreciate the difficulties with which the department is faced.
I do not resent in the slightest the criticism offered by Senator Rankin. In fact, I almost feel under an obligation to the honorable senator, because she has given me an opportunity to say something that I should like to say about the present position. Had the honorable senator not spoken, possibly I should not have thought it necessary to say these things, because I have said them so often before through the press and at meetings that I have addressed in various parts of Australia. I suggest that the honorable senator should make a study of the affairs of the Postmaster-General’s department. I shall be only too pleased to give her any information that is available. The honorable senator spoke of the effect of the alleged high postal and telephone charges upon the women in the community. Actually, these charges are not high, compared with corresponding rates in other countries. But my personal attitude to this matter is that there should be no reduction of charges until we can bring the services of the department up to date and pay to our employees the salaries and wages to which they are entitled. The honorable senator may invite her friends to write letters to me asking for a reduction of charges for this and that, but I shall reply courteously, saying that it will not be done until people realize that there is such a word in the dictionary as “reciprocity”. When all members of the community are prepared to do their best to assist the department to raise the living standards of its employees, and bring the services up to date, Ave shall consider a reduction of our charges.
I pay a tribute to the Government in connexion with my department. The Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) was Postmaster-General at one time.” When he occupied that por tion, he found that non-official postmasters, of whom there are about 8,000, were underpaid, and he increased the total annual payment to them by £250,000. It has since been increased by a further £270,000. Not long ago, I was challenged by a former Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, ex-Senator McLeay, in regard to the wages and salaries paid to postal employees, and I informed him then that the policy of the Government was to pay the best possible rates. Since then, the official employees have received increases of salaries and wages approximating £1,750,000. We did not ask them to go to the Arbitration Court to plead their case. We did not resist them. We said, in effect, “ Here is an increase of £1,750,000; we give this to you without prejudice to any claims that you may make in the future “. In addition, during the term of office of the Minister for Supply and Shipping and myself, the working conditions of postal employees have been improved in many ways. However, at the Brisbane General Post Office, the employees in the parcels department are still working in a dirty old brewery cellar, and I have yet to hear any honorable senator opposite draw attention to that fact. The cellar is rat-infested, and unfit for anybody to work in; yet postal employees have been working there for years. The Government has promised the people of Brisbane a new post office, but here again private enterprise has us by the throat. We lack the man-power necessary to start this work, although in every State luxury houses are being built. This goes on while the people who do the useful work in society, in essential industries and services, are- still working in filthy workshops, mines and post offices. When workers acquiesce in these thing3, they create a difficult situation. I should like to hear a protest from every worker against these things. I want all workers to record their protest at meetings of their organizations, and above all, I want to see them bring pressure to bear on the Opposition in this Parliament. There is a slogan, “ All things yield to pressure ; but when there is no pressure there are no results “. If no pressure is exerted by the workers there will be no results. The brewery cellar and the filthy workshops will remain and the mines will continue o he unsafe and inadequately ventilated.
Any student of philosophy cannot help wondering at times “what is the real objective of life. I am amazed to think that workers are prepared to submit to these conditions. I have done all that is physically possible to make them thoroughly dissatisfied - dissatisfied with paying to those individuals represented by the Opposition in this Parliament the huge profits that they receive; dissatisfied when they see bank balances accumulating; and when they are thoroughly dissatisfied, and understand the technique of finance and economics peculiar to capitalism as it should be understood, and translate their thoughts into action, honorable senators opposite will no longer be in this chamber, unless they change their views and sit on this side.
[5.35 - in reply - I add my congratulations to those which have already been extended to new members of the Senate upon the contributions which they have made to their first debate in this chamber. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) compared the Government with the board of directors of a large company. I do not think that he could have had in mind the exact purport of such a statement, because it is recognized that His Majesty’s Opposition in this chamber plays an important part in the government of the country. The comparison was not a very happy one for him, because all but three of the anti-Labour candidates who submitted themselves for election to the .Senate recently were dismissed by the people and replaced by members of the Labour party, to the great advantage of Australia. The benefit to the nation of having a Labour government is. reflected in the prosperity which the people enjoy to-day. The Leader of the Opposition expressed doubt as to whether the budget papers indicated a satisfactory level of national income. He said that a careful investigation of the figures contained in the Estimates and budget papers showed that the situation was not so satisfactory as the Government claimed. Only by juggling the figures to his own satisfaction can the honorable senator possibly justify that settlement. Our national income has increased from £803,000,000 in 1938-39 to £1,265,000,000 in 1946-47, and the gross value of national production kas increased from £93S,000,000 in 1938- 39 to nearly £1,500,000,000 in 1946-47. an increase of approximately 60 per cent. This is an amazing achievement over a period of eight years, during the greater part of which the nation was waging a war in order to preserve its very existence.
– What about money values ?
– It is all very well for the honorable senator to talk about money values. I shall deal with that subject later.
The honorable senator said we should realize that Australia’s economy depends almost, entirely upon primary production. We acknowledge that fact. The Government has a full realization of the importance to the nation of primary production and has, in fact, given more support to the primary producers than has any other government in the history of Australia. The honorable senator has said that we should always look forward, but I notice that he does not hesitate to look back when he thinks that he can do so to the disadvantage of the Government. I remind him that prior to World War II., the present Opposition parties controlled the destiny of Australia for approximately 25 years, with the exception of a brief span of slightly over two years. During that period they occupied the treasury benches not only of the Australian Parliament but also of most of the State parliaments. But there was no prosperity in the rural areas during that time. Wheat, one of our major products, was selling at a price of only ls. 6d. or 2s. a bushel when World War II. broke out. What, did the then government do to assist the wheat-growers? It is idle for the honorable senator to say that the primary producers have not benefited as the result of the Australian Labour party taking control of the government of the nation. I do not, claim that the prosperity which we enjoy to-day is entirely due to the activities of this Government. I admit that the widespread devastation in other countries caused by the war has given rise to an unprecedented demand for Australia’s primary products. That demand is a factor contributing to our present, prosperity. Nevertheless, I remind the honorable gentleman that the Labour Government was able to preserve our internal economy during the period of the war when men were absent, not only from our primary industries but also from secondary industries, in the fighting services. In spite of the severe dislocation caused by war, Australia is to-day in a very favorable economic situation.
The Leader of the Opposition also complained about shortages of materials essential to primary industries. I point out that, despite his complaints and those of his colleagues in the House of Representatives regarding dispute’s and delays in industry, production in Australia to-day is at a much higher level than it was in the years immediately preceding World War II. The honorable senator mentioned wirenetting, wire and other materials needed in primary industries which are not being manufactured to-day in such large quantities as before the war. In this connexion, the Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron) has suggested that the workers of Australia are endeavouring to better their conditions. That is true. They were promised during the war that they would find better conditions in industry when peace returned, and that their welfare would be assured. The men who to-day demand better conditions in industry are the men who fought for and saved this country from alien oppression. Men who have returned from the fighting services ha ve -joined with those who helped to keep them in the fighting lines by working on the home front, in a campaign for improved working conditions. Frequent references have been made in this chamber to disruption in the coal-mining industry and on the waterfront. I repeat what I said early to-day in answer to a question asked by Senator Beerworth, that production of coal to-day is at a higher level than it was last year. This is a noteworthy achievement in view of the fact that since the war ended 2,000 workers have left the coal-mining industry. Those men left the mines because of the bad working conditions in them. The dust menace, for instance, is one of the major causes of this drift. Those men have gone to more congenial forms of employment which are available to them. As I have often said, it has been traditional for sons to follow their fathers in the coal-mining industry. But that is not so to-day. Parents prevent their sons from working in the minesbecause of the danger to their health of dust and other risks involved in that occupation. For this reason, there are not enough men. working in the mines to produce sufficient coal for the nation’s needs. A similar shortage of man-power is retarding production in other heavy industries. Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, one of the main iron and steel manufacturers of Austr.alia has a shortage of 3,000 workers in its factories to-day. Considering all thesis adverse factors, honorable senators opposite should realize that the shortages of certain important commodities are not the fault of the Government. In order to obtain a true picture of the economic situation I asked the Department of Supply and Shipping to provide me with the production figures, particularly those relating to steel. The report presented to me shows very clearly that output is mainly governed by the availability of manpower. It states -
If it were possible to obtain an additional 2,700 nien, the Australian steel industry could produce to maximum capacity, and with few minor exceptions meet the full Australian demand. In addition,’ the industry wo’uld have a margin for export.
That is the position, and the Government cannot fairly be blamed for it. I venture to say that, if the Opposition parties were in power, the situation would be much worse than it is.
One of the problems which affect the availability of man-power in heavy industries is that caused by the shortage of houses, which has been mentioned already by the Postmaster-General. The securing of men to work in industry is a problem in itself. The shortage of houses makes that problem even more acute. This shortage is not new in industrial centres. Older members of the Senate will remember that in 1937, 1938 and 1939, I appealed frequently in this chamber to have houses built for workers at Lithgow. In those days, there were between 200,000 and 300,000 unemployed men in Australia, and all the materials necessary for home construction were readily available. Men then engaged in the production of munitions and armaments of war in anticipation of the coming conflict were camped in tents, garages and other flimsy structures at Lithgow and in other industrial centres. As I have said, there were plenty of materials and plenty of man-power to build houses then. Men were walking the streets looking for work. The parties in Opposition, which now criticize the Government so vociferously on account of housing and other shortages, were then in control of the government of this country, but they did nothing to satisfy the needs of the people. The report from which I have already quoted also states -
Pig iron is required for the foundry trade and for the production of ingot steel from ‘ which the semi-fabricated steel products mentioned below are made. Production only slightly exceeds the average production in the three years preceding the war. However, it falls considerably short of the Australian demand. The bridging of the gap will be solved with the provision of additional labour.
Again a labour problem! It continues -
The present production of steel bars and wire rope, wire and wire product* is considerably below the demand but the position should be considerably improved when the new plant is installed and is in operation. This, it is hoped, will be towards the end of the present vear. It is hoped that this will be done before the end of the year. The production of pipes, tubes and solid drawn and butt-welded tubes is more than 50 per cent, in excess of the average pre-war production. In the case of pipes and tubes there is a surplus available for export of 1 5.000 tons. Although there has been an appreciable increase of solid drawn and butt-welded tubes, the present production still falls well below the demand. The production of steel plates, sheet and strip is considerably higher than the pre-war production, when supplies were increased by imports which are no longer available. .Even though these items are in short supply, the quantity now made available to industry represents an increase of 38 per cent, on the pre-war figures.
I ask honorable senators to take particular notice of that statement. The report continues -
An important item in this group is galvanized iron, for which there is an almost insatiable demand. Production of galvanized iron depends, of course, upon the quantity of black sheets produced, for which there is a very considerable demand for the manufacture of inch items as drums, stoves, Ac. The produc- tion of forgings, steel castings, tyres, wheels and axles is satisfactory and is meeting completely the demands.
Summarized, it can be stated that the solution of our steel problems depends upon th« ability of the steel manufacturers to solve their labour difficulties. As I have previously indicated, a valuable contribution to this solution will be the provision of additional homes foi workers in the steel production districts. However, with a general improvement in the labour conditions in the steel plants, it is hoped that more men will be attracted to the industry.
That is the reason why production is inadequate in the .heavy industries to-day. I presume that most honorable senators have visited the steelworks at Newcastle and Port Kembla and have observed the laborious and fatiguing nature of the work done by the employees at those works, particularly in the furnaces. They have to use tongs to handle the molten metal, and in almost every branch of the industry the work is extremely exhausting. The natural result is that when work offers in other industries men are attracted away from the steel industry. The same comment applies, of course, to the coal-mining industry. In addition.there is an element of personal danger to employees in these industries which is not present in other industries.
The Leader of the Opposition maintained that greater reduction of taxes should have been made, and he endeavoured to prove that, because revenues were buoyant, and that in some cases they exceeded the estimates, the concessions made were of little real value to the taxpayers. However, the actual cost to the Government of the reductions of tax which it has made and the concessions which it has granted is estimated at approximately £111,000,000 per annum. Included in that figure are sums of £74,300,000 in respect of reduction of rates and concessions granted, £3,500,000 because of the abolition of war-time company tax, £28,300.000 in respect of sales tax exemptions and reductions, £4,000,000 as the result of reduced duties of customs and excise, and £800,000 because of reduction of gold tax, estate duty and gift duty. ‘ That is the real measure of the relief afforded by the present Government, which totals £110,900,000.
– Those figures include the last two years and the present financial year.
– Those figures show that unless those reductions and remissions of taxes had been made, the people of Australia would be paying approximately £111,000,000 more in taxes.
Senator O’Sullivan interjecting,
– It is misleading to assert that because government revenue rises with increasing incomes tax concessions have no value. I commend my observation, particularly to Senator O’Sullivan, because he probably has an increasing income. The fact that Commonwealth revenue is rising is due simply to increased employment and buoyant trade conditions. The value of the reductions and concessions granted is all the greater because they are so calculated that they afford the greatest relief to people in receipt of the lowest incomes.
– That is the complaint made by members of the Opposition.
– Honorable senators opposite are continuously appealing for reduction of taxes, and they invariably base their appeals on the plight. of the unfortunate widow and her children. In reality, however, they are concerned with, their wealthy friends who are so affected by the imposition of taxes. They are not concerned about the workers of this country, and never have been. They do not represent the workers, so why should they be concerned about them? They do not even purport to represent them, either in this chamber or in any other place.
Silting suspended from 5.59 to S p.m.
– .Senator O’sullivan referred to the slow turn-round of ships, and cited figures in support of his statements. I regret that the honorable senator is not now in the chamber because I do not like to criticize him in his absence. At the same time, I am of the opinion that his charge should be answered. He compared the period July to December, 193S, with the period July, 1946, to June, 1947. It will be seen that in the first instance the period was six months, whereas in the second instance the figures related to a period of twelve months. .That was not a fair comparison, especially when we reflect that there is much lo.-t time in the winter months.
Tens of thousands of hours are lost in the months of June and July and the rainy season on the waterfront because there is practically no cover for the men. The only cover provided is for those handling frozen cargo, and the reason that that cover is provided is that demurrage charges are levied in respect of such cargo. It was most unfair of Senator O’Sullivan to use those figures as a basis for his charge. Such tactics might succeed in the police court where he has been practising, but not in the Senate. As he gains experience he will realize that his statements in this chamber will be carefully watched and, if need be, challenged.
At the moment, there is grave disappointment on the part of the capitalist press because the miners and the waterside workers are not participating in some dispute. Whenever the workers in these vital industries are involved in a dispute the fact is proclaimed to the world under prominent headlines, but when things are working smoothly no mention is made of the fact. That has been my experience since I took over the control of the department dealing with mining. I shall read a report which appeared in a country newspaper recently, because it is rather significant that it was not republished in any Sydney newspaper, so far as I am aware.
Kandos Cement Company yesterday celebrated its 22nd year without industrial trouble among more than 300 employees.
General Manager (Mr. Kneeshaw) attributes the absence of strikes to close co-operation between the firm’s representatives and union officials.
Kandos miners are 64 per cent, married men, with families living in the township.
Among amenities are a bowling green, tennis courts, Scouts^ hall, baby clinic, and clean, modern conditions at the mine.
Miners come up into the fresh air and sit on park benches among trees and flowers for the.iv lunch.
The mine is completely mechanized and in this respect is regarded as one of the best in the world.
Mr. Kneeshaw said: “None wants to leave us, and there is a big waiting list of men wanting jobs, but they have to wait for old age to retire our miners.”
Obviously, when nien are treated as human beings, conditions are satisfactory on the coal-fields, and stoppages, if they occur at all, are infrequent.
– The Minister’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
First Schedule agreed to.
– With the consent of the committee, I shall take each department separately.
Proposed vote, £324,700.
– I should like some information regarding Division 9, “ Miscellaneous particularly the item “ Conveyance of members of Parliament and others, £115,800”. During 1946-47 the expenditure under this item -was £66,021, which was slightly more than the £66,000 voted for that year. For 1947-4S, however, the expenditure is estimated at £115,800, a difference of nearly £50,000. Some time ago the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) stressed the necessity for conserving petrol and saving dollars. If this increased vote means that motor cars are to be used more than in the past, it would appear that effect is not being given to that policy hy the Government. I shall be glad to have same information regarding this item.
– Increased expenditure under this heading has been incurred in recent years owing to the greater use by Ministers of air travel, and also to the fact that motor cars are used in preference to rail travel. Members of the Parliament are now entitled to use air transport when travelling to and from Canberra when the Parliament is in session. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) now travels to and from Brisbane by air instead of utilizing his gold pass on the railways. The gold pass over the railways, although not used so much as previously, must be paid for in addition to the cost of air transport.
.- The service provided for senators and members who arrive at Melbourne either by air or steamer is unsatisfactory, and I hope that something will be done to improve it. At the beginning of this sessional period I travelled from Tasmania to Melbourne with my wife and daughter in order to attend my parliamentary duties at Canberra. The day was wet and when we reached Melbourne I ordered a car to meet us at 5.30 p.m. in order to take us to the train. At six o’clock the car had not arrived and so I communicated with the company. I was told that it was not yet six o’clock. I replied that a car had been ordered for 5.30 p.m. Finally, I had to engage a taxi in order to catch the train. I had a similar experience some time earlier. I ordered a car for 5.30 p.m. and the honorable member for Darwin (Dame Enid Lyons) ordered a car for 5.45 p.m. Her car arrived, but .mine did not. It would appear that City Motors Limited does everything possible to annoy Labour members and to patronize members of the Opposition parties. I ask the Minister to transfer the contract to an efficient firm, which will render the same service to all parties.
– The matter raised by the honorable senator will be investigated.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £2,335,200.
– Division No. 12 relates to the Public Service Board, and I notice that the vote for this year is £16,404 more than the amount expended during 1946-47, and also that the staff totals 51 , more than last year. I bring to the notice of the committee a complaint by ex-servicemen regarding the delay in notifying them of the results of examinations for which they have sat. Some time ago a number of ex-servicemen applied for permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service. They sat for examination No. 2,741 for appointment as postal officer, fourth division, in all States. An examination was held in Brisbane on the 12th April, 1947, but, despite representations that I have made to the Public Service Inspector and the Chairman of the Public Service Board, the results of that examination have not yet been gazetted, so far as I know, although the results of an examination held four months later have been published.
– The information sought by the honorable senator will be supplied when the Estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department are under consideration.
– Australia’s representation in the United Kingdom is a matter of great importance, and a very high standardis called for. I believe that that standard has been maintained, but I should like some information regarding the vote of £109,300 for “temporary and casual employees “. That sum represents an increase of £32,173 compared with the expenditure last year. I should like the Minister to explain the reason for the increase. Can he say whether these employees are Australians and, if not, whether it wouldbe possible to appoint Australians to such positions, thereby providing them with an opportunity to become acquainted with conditions in the United Kingdom, thus making their services of greater value to the Government on their return to Australia.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) will recall that complaints were made that adequate attention was not being given to inquiries at Australia House. In order to cope with all inquiries the staff at the High Commissioner’s office has been increased during recent years by the transfer of experienced public servants from Australia together with a consequential increase of the number of locally recruited staff whose salaries are met from this vote. For example, the number of temporary employees in the High Commissioner’s office now exceeds 300, of whom approximately 120 are engaged in the Immigration Branch. This is a new activity, and it is anticipated that an additional 40 employees will be engaged during the current financial year. The increase under this item is required mainly to meet the salaries of the additional employees, and also provision for normal increments, allowances under pre scribed conditions to officers performing duties of a higher class, payments to officers on retirement, leave, and adjustment of salaries of locally engaged staff.
– I take it that the majority of the additional officers have been transferred from Australia?
– That is correct.
– I commend the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research upon the efficiency with which it has conducted its activities over the years. The Council’s work has been of wonderful assistance to both primary and secondary industries. Last year an amount of £31,800 was voted in respect of wool textile research, but of that sum only £4,205 was expended. The proposed vote for that item this year is £30,030. I should like to know why so small a sum of the amount voted last year was actually expended. Was not the council able to push on with this work?
– The reason why so small an amount was expended last year was the delay in the provision of facilities for research in wool textiles which forms a logical complement to the council’s work on wool production and its associated problems. In 1945, four experts in textile research from overseas visited Australia and reported to the council on the establishment of such facilities. As the result, it is proposed to set up a Division of Wool Textile Technology embracing a wide range of activities in the fields of textile engineering and technology. One difficulty in proceeding with the plans which have been drawn up is the shortage of qualified personnel. It is proposed to use some of the money sought under this heading to send selected officers abroad on studentships for a period of training. It is also hoped to make a start during the current year with the establishment of a head-quarters for the new Division at Geelong.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £1,032,000.
– The expenditure in respect of this department last year was £S66,261. The proposed vote represents a considerable increase over that sum. The Department of External Affairs is one of the most important of all departments. It is essential that every opportunity be taken to make Australia’s voice heard in the councils of the world. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is doing excellent work in that direction. We should first establish adequate representation in the Mother Country and in the other countries which are members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Next, we should ensure strong representation of Australia in Pacific countries including the United States of America. We have a particular interest in India and China, and also Russia which is now one of the four great powers. We also require to be strongly represented in the Netherlands East Indies and Indonesia. We now have representation in those countries. However, I believe that we could dispense with our present representation in Brazil, Chile and France, where the maintenance of legations is very costly. The Government stresses the need to conserve dollars. This is one way in which it could effect substantial economies.
The next point I raise is the advisability of presenting reports to Parliament from our various representatives overseas. Up-to-date, no such reports have been made available to us. They should be presented to the Parliament periodically in order to enable honorable members and honorable senators to acquaint themselves with the activities of our representatives in other countries. I should also like more information concerning the expenditure incurred in financing visits abroad of members of the Parliament during the last twelve months. I realize that the growth of Australia’s importance in international affairs during and since the war necessitates Ministers undertaking various missions abroad. Such missions afford facilities to Ministers to make the most effective contact with the peoples of other countries. However, the journeys abroad of members of the Parliament during the last twelve months can hardly be justified.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), apparently, believes that we should establish representation only in countries with which we enjoy substantial reciprocal trade. I point out that such representation is highly desirable for political reasons. The practice of sending members of the Parliament abroad has been followed for many years; and I have a clear recollection of the Opposition parties advocating the continuance of that practice in order to enable members of the Parliament to acquaint themselves at first hand with conditions in other countries. It is not practicable to accede to the request of the Leader of the Opposition that reports from our various representatives abroad should be made periodically to the Parliament. It is customary for the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs to inform the Parliament on such matters. These reports have frequently been tabled in the House of Representatives and in this chamber.
– I think that the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley) has misunderstood me. I was not cavilling at our trade representation. I was referring to consular representation. Australia is a Pacific country, and it is on other Pacific countries, such as the Americas, China, India and the Netherlands East Indies, that we should concentrate. I cannot see any reason for such representation in Brazil or Chile.
– The honorable senator mentioned France, also.
– In that regard, I think we could be better represented by some one in the British legation, where he would have access to documents in the possession of the British Government, than by a separate consul in Paris. However, I am more concerned with the Pacific because it is in that area that anr destiny lies.
Senator ASHLEY (New South WalesMinister for Supply and Shipping)
Opposition (Senator Cooper) that Australia is well represented in all Pacific countries where representation is desirable.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £3,445,500.
.- The vote for this department in 1943-44 was £1,416,000. This year the estimated expenditure is £3,445,500, an increase of approximately £2,000,000. That is a substantial amount, and I should liketo know the reason for it. The estimated expenditure by the taxation office is £3,026,000, compared with an actual expenditure of £2,511,757 last year. Why has the cost of collecting taxes increased by more than £500,000 since last year. Taxes have been reduced substantially since the peak year 1933-34, yet reference to the schedule discloses that the number of officers engaged by the taxation office has increased from 5,391 last year to 6,294 in the current year, an increase of 903. What is the reason for this increase ? Could it be that the complicated systemof concessional rebates now in operation necessitates lengthy and involved calculations, and an inordinate amount of clerical work? I have no criticism to offer of the experienced officers of the taxation office, who have done such a conscientious job in the past; but their ranks are being increased by 903 this year. Will these additional employees be taxation experts, or will they have to be trained? Under the present system, not one taxpayer in 100 can work out his own assessment.Is the increased staff being appointed to overcome the back-lag of approximately 700,000 assessments that were unissued at the 30th June of this year? If so, revenue from taxes during the current financial year will be greatly increased.
. - The increased cost of collecting taxes is one of the penalties that we pay for prosperity. The increased work of the taxation office is due mainly to higher wages and salaries in the community, and to the operation of the “ pay-as-you earn “ system. The estimate of £1,957,500 for salaries and allowances is £372,216 more than the actual expenditure during the last financial year. The increase is due to serious arrears of work that accumulated during the war years. Additional work includes valuations in connexion with the war service land settlement scheme, increased registrations under the sales tax and payroll tax acts, the “ pay-as-you-earn “ system, and the normal expansion of work. Nine hundred and three new positions have been created, at an estimated increased cost of £160,000. The basic wage adjustment of £18 per annum made on the 5th December, 1946, accounts for £55,000. Arbitration determinations Nos. 14 and 27 of 1947 provided marginal increases for all salaries up to £720 per annum, and the cost of these increases this year is estimated at £155,000. Salary increments account for £18,000. and the cost-of-living increase of £6 per annum accounts for £20,000, making a total of £384,000. This sum is reduced by £12,000 by the return of officers previously on loan from other departments, making the net total £372,000. Those are some of the reasons for the increased provision compared with last year’s expenditure.
– I welcome the information that has been given by the Minister for Supply and Shipping (Senator Ashley), but I should like him to tell me whether, when the arrears of work in the taxation office have been overtaken, the additional 903 officers will become permanent members of the staff of that office.
– It is expected that the majority of officers at present employed temporarily will be made permanent. Even now considerable overtime is being worked in the taxation office.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £528,000.
– I notice that in 1946-47, expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth Investigation Service was £52,125. The proposed vote for this year is £74,200 an increase of more than £20,000. Reference to the schedules indicates that this increase is due partly to the appointment of additional inquiry officers in all States. If the appointment of these officers will assist to remove the communistic element from the Australian community, the money will be well spent, and I commend the Government for its action. When the parties now in opposition were in occupation of the treasury bench, they took strong action against the Communists. They imposed a ban on the Communist party, but the present Government has since removed that ban. During the budget debate, members of the Opposition strand the necessity for action against the Communists in this country, and if the building up of the Commonwealth Investigation Service is an indication of the Government’s intention to curb the activities of these undesirable individuals, members of the Opposition will be willing to give the Government every possible support. However, the fact that the Investigation Service needs to be strengthened to cope with Communist agitators who are sabotaging our industrial efforts is a good argument for the appointment of a. royal commission to inquire into Communist activities as has been urged in the House of Representatives.
– One would have thought that the end of the war would have brought a reduction of the work of the Commonwealth Investigation Service, but instead we find that the activities of this service are being expanded. This week, I read a report in the press that consideration was being given to the setting up of an organization in this country on the lines of tho Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States of America, and I am wondering whether the increased vote for the Commonwealth Investigation Service is an indication of the Government’s intention to do this.
– I am not in a position to answer the inquiry by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) as to the amount of money which is to be expended on policing the activities of Communists. I have nothing on my file which indicates the financial provision for that purpose* The proposal mentioned by Senator Arnold for the establishment of a new form of investigation service in Australia has not been considered by the Government. I understand that it is the subject of a recommendation by the chiefs of police of the various States, but, so far, the Government has not considered the recommendation. The increased expenditure for which provision is made is due in part to the guided weapons project which has been undertaken in Australia. - It will be necessary to observe certain security measures in relation to those experiments and these, together with other investigations that are taking place, account for the increased estimate.
.- I refer to Division 48- the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. I believe that few Australians would object to expenditure under this heading being increased if provision were made for the proper control of elections of office-bearers of trade unions under the auspices of an officer of the court. In order to get away from the law of thejungle, particularly in the industrial field, I am strongly in favour of the principle of compulsory unionism. This would be the only basis upon which representatives of a union could honestly say that they spoke for the members of their union. With compulsory .unionism, representatives of the employees could meet in conference with representatives of the employers and, in the event of inability to reach a.n amicable settlement of any dispute, the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration-
– Can we accept that as a declaration that the honorable senator’s party believes in compulsory unionism ?
– I speak as a senator from Queensland, and I assure the Minister that I am prepared to do anything that lies in my power to ensure that compulsory unionism shall become the law of the land. I shall elaborate my reasons. The only proper basis upon which employers can deal with employees is through the duly elected representatives of the unions. It would add considerably to peace and harmony in industry if an employer, in the event of “ his having reason for dissatisfaction with an employee, could go to a representative of the union to which the employee belonged, instead of making the matter a ‘personal issue between himself and the employee, and say, “ Tom, Bill, Dick or Harry is not pulling his weight. He is frequently absent or neglects his duties “. Having pointed out the reason for his dissatisfaction, it would then be the responsibility of the , union to exercise such discipline as the circumstances demanded. I also’ suggest that provision be made for elections of union officials to he supervised by -officers of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. After all, trade unions are statutory bodies. There is very little difference, so far as statute law is concerned, between a trade union and a company.
– Would the honorable senator apply the same principle to the Law Institute?
– The Law Institute is very rigidly subject to the law. Woe betide a member of the institute who, in his dealings with the public or with a member of his own profession, departs in any way from the standard of behaviour required by the institute!
– Does the honorable senator favour supervision of the elections of officers of the institute?
– I shall not waste the time of the Senate in explaining the matter now, but I point out that there are government representatives on the Law Institute. We welcomed their presence, which has done the institute and the public a great deal of good. The Law Institute was not consulted in regard to these appointments, but its members gladly submitted to thom, and I think they have added considerably to public confidence in the institute. I believe that the discipline so imposed is wise and, for the same reason, I believe-
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. I submit that the honorable senator i3 entirely out of order in discussing trade union matters in connexion with the division now before the Chair.
– The point of order is upheld.
– Correct me if I am wrong, Mr. Chairman, but I point out that trade unions and arbitration are somewhat cognate, and, as the unions have access to the Arbitration Court, I am suggesting ways and means whereby industrial peace might be brought to this country and industrial chaos and anarchy eliminated. One way, as I was about to say, would be to appoint an officer of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to act as a returning officer for union elections. That would involve an extension of the duties of officers of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, which is the subject now under discussion. Another extension of the duties of such officers could enable them to have access to the books of a union for the purposes of audit, when called upon by any member of the public concerned - that is, by any member of the union - to do so. After all, probably many millions of pounds of the people’s money are in union funds. Nobody complains about that. I merely state it as a fact. As the books of public companies are subject by law to an investigation at any time by the AuditorGeneral, I consider that we might well extend the duties of Arbitration Court officers to enable them, if and when called upon to do so and upon the showing of good cause before the court, to have the books of any union brought before the court for audit and examination.
I refer now to Division 50 - the Commonwealth Investigation Service. We have been informed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) in the House of representatives that the Commonwealth Investigation Service is keeping a very close tag upon people who may be able to injure our country-
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. The honorable senator is referring to something that has been said in the House of Representatives. That is entirely out of order in a discussion in this chamber.
– I understand that the honorable senator is referring to Division 50 - the Commonwealth Investigation Service.
– That is so.
– The honorable senator is in order in doing so.
– He has referred to remarks in the House of Representatives.
– I assure honorable senators that I have no desire to transgress.
– The honorable senator would not be in order in quoting anything stated in the House of Representatives.
– We have been generally informed that a careful eye is being kept upon members of the Communist party, in particular to ensure that they shall not be permitted to occupy positions in which, in the event of our country being endangered, they might be able to prejudice whatever activity the government of the day might see fit to carry on in the interests of the protection of our country. I trust that that is so. However, I am rather concerned by some statements that have been made in the Senate to the effect that Communists are “ all right “. I want to be quite fair.’ I know that the Labour party is intensely and bitterly opposed to the Communists, and that nobody can be a good Labour man and a Communist at the same time. What I say now is no reflection on the Labour party or on any other party except the Communist party. I speak as an Australian to Australians. 1 urge that provision be made - if it has not already been made - to ensure that Communists shall not be allowed to infiltrate into positions where they can damage the country before we can prevent them from doing so. We know the attitude of the Government of the United States of America on this matter. We know also about the unfortunate experience of Canada. It is all very well to say, “ We believe in free speech “. Of course we do ! But a person who wants to practise free speech must do so in a way that is consistent with the law. He must observe the law against blasphemy, the law against sedition, and the law against libel and slander. A Communist who professes a sort of remote idealistic philosophy does no harm. If he merely sits back in an armchair and indulges in theories he is not a real Communist. The true Communist is pledged to do things which must disrupt this country. In the old days, strikes, which were often justifiable, arose from economic issues, such as hours, wages and conditions of labour. Latterly, however, strikes have been political. They have been directed against the Government - not just against a Labour government or any other government, but against the institution of government. Here isa quotation from one of the Communist party’s hand-books -
Strikes properly led and conducted and properly timed are a revolutionary weapon. Strikes develop the Labour movement, organizeand unite workers and win the intermediate social strata to the side of the revolution.
Another extract from the same booklet is as follows : -
Organizing for shop committees in. factories is a foremost task of the Communist. The shop committees play a most important rolein the preparation and mobilization of theworkers for strike action. In a revolutionary situation the shop committees would be one of the chief instruments for drawing the whole of the working class into the fight, into the street and the general revolutionary struggle.
No political party in Australia wants that, and I ask that more effective provision be made to ensure that any Communist who infiltrates himself into a position of responsibility-
– I rise to order. 1 am reluctant to interrupt the honorable senator, but I do not think that his dissertation on the Communist party, or thepolicy of that party, has anything to do with the estimates under discussion.
– I uphold the point of order.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vole, £1,246,700.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives berequested to reduce the vote for the Department of the Interior- £1,240,700 - by fi, as an instruction to the Government - to include in the Estimates for the Depart ment of the Interior, which controls the electoral, machinery, provision for taking a referendum on the Government’s proposal tonationalize banks.
In submitting this request, I do so in the firm belief that the majority of the people of Australia are opposed to the Government’s proposal to nationalize banks. In submitting this request, I do so in the firm belief that the majority of the people of
Australia are opposed to the Government’s proposal. My belief is fortified by the number of petitions and letters of protest submitted by tens of thousands of people to members of Parliament, including supporters of the Government, objecting to what they consider to be an unwarranted intrusion on the liberty of the individual. The Government claims that it has a mandate from the people to proceed with the proposed legislation. But when did it obtain that mandate? The Prime Minister is maintaining, in effect, that that mandate was obtained when he was a small boy. That was in the ‘nineties, when the people of Australia voted for the adoption of the Commonwealth Constitution, which included a provision to empower the Parliament to make laws with respect to banking. How many of the people who voted for the adoption of the Constitution envisaged that in the future a socialistic government would institute legislation to destroy the great trading banks and to introduce in their stead a monopolistic bank. I do not propose, at this juncture, to discuss the constitutional or legal aspects involved in the Governments proposal ; my colleagues and I will have ample opportunity of doing so later.
In 1945, the Chifley Government introduced legislation to control banking, which we were told was designed to arm the Commonwealth with complete power to stabilize our finances. That legislation clearly contemplated that the trading banks would continue to function. Why has the Government made this sudden change of front? It would appear that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), after consulting with members of his party, decided that there is not sufficient power in that legislation, and now he seeks to assume control of the entire banking system. How can supporters of the Government claim that a mandate was obtained at the last election? During the debate in the House of Representatives on the estimates of the Department of External Affairs, Government supporters went to great lengths to defend, and even to eulogize, the Minister for External Affairs, Dr. Evatt, who is now overseas. I have in my possession an electioneering pamphlet authorized by “ J. Stewart, M.L.C., Sydney “, on which appears a photograph of Dr. Evatt, with the head ing “ Evatt Ends an Argument”. This is what the pamphlet states -
Labour is opposed to National Security Regulations except where they are essential for the prosecution of the war, and is pledged to revert to legislation in the normal manner as soon as war exigencies permit. The Commonwealth Constitution gives no general power to nationalize industries. Under Labour government there will be more room for private enterprise and business initiative after the war than ever before.
– What has that to do with the estimates under discussion?
– It is so important that I propose to repeat what the Government’s eminent constitutional authority said on that occasion. He said: “The Commonwealth Constitution gives no general power to nationalize industries “. Is this the mandate to which honorable senators opposite refer, or is it the one which they claim was obtained 50 years ago?
The whole argument for taking a referendum on this matter is based upon the right of the people to be consulted before revolutionary changes are made in their way of life. If the Prime Minister has the slightest doubt that the Government’s proposals are not acceptable to the people he should have no hesitation in granting them the right, to express their views by means of a referendum. Can one honorable senator opposite tell this chamber exactly what the Prime Minister said - if he said anything at all - about nationalization of banks during the last election campaign?
– It has been proposed by the Australian Labour party for the last 25 years.
– That may be, but the policy of the Australian Labour party is not identical with the policy speech made by the Prime Minister. In the course of his electioneering speeches he made to the people a distinct statement of the policy which he intended to implement if his Government were returned to office.
During the budget debate, Senator Hendrickson said a great deal about the present political situation in Victoria.
– Order! The honorable senator is not in order in refering to something which was not said during the present debate. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to discussion of the proposed referendum, and not enter upon discussion of the nationalization of banks, which is f.t present being discussed in the House of Representatives.
– A political situation has arisen in Victoria in regard to the Legislative Council, which occupies a position in the Victorian Parliament similar to that occupied by the Senate in the Australian Parliament. Indeed, the only important difference between the two chambers is that the Victorian Legislative Council is not elected on a democratic basis, whereas the Senate is.
– I rise to order. Is the honorable senator in order in dealing with the constitution of the Victorian Legislative Council? I cannot perceive that it has any connexion with the estimates under discussion. I am reluctant to interrupt members of the Opposition, because their numbers are so small, but if discussion of the Estimates is permitted to drift into dissertation on matters such as those raised by the honorable senator we shall never conclude discussion of the Estimates.
– The honorable senator must connect his remarks with the estimates under discussion.
– I shall connect my former remarks quite clearly with the estimates under discussion. The Victorian Legislative Council was constituted for a purpose similar to that intended for the Senate, and I connect my remarks with the estimates under discussion by pointing out that the Victorian Legislative Council took drastic action to compel the government of that State to afford the Victorian people an opportunity of expressing their v;ow of the action proposed to be taken by the Australian Government.
– I rise to order. Is there any connexion between the honorable senator’s remarks concerning the Government’s proposed bank legislation and the estimates under discussion?
– The honorable senator is in order in speaking to his proposed amendment, and the division of the estimates under discussion includes the Commonwealth Electoral Office.
– I do not know whether the Chair has appreciated my point of order. There is no indication that the division under discussion includes provision for certain proposed legislation.
– The Department of the Interior, whose estimates the committee is discussing, administers the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I do not uphold the honorable senator’s point of order.
– Before I was subjected to a number of interruptions, I was endeavouring to point out that the Victorian Legislative Council was seeking to afford the people of Victoria an opportunity to express their opinions as to whether a referendum should be taken on the Australian Government’s proposals for the nationalization of banks. I connect my remarks in regard to the Victorian Legislative Council with the position of the Senate by pointing out that if members of the present Opposition in this chamber were in a majority they would take similar steps to those taken by the Victorian Legislative Council to give the people an opportunity to express their opinion on a matter of such tremendous importance. The Government’s proposals will affect the social and commercial welfare of the community for many years to come, and members of the political parties which I represent would have adopted that method of compelling the House of Representatives to afford the people an opportunity to decide by referendum whether they considered that the Government’s proposal should be enacted. Unfortunately, members of the Opposition in this chamber are not in that fortunate position, and the only course left for us is to express our disapproval of the Government’s attitude by moving a reduction of the proposed vote of the Department of the Interior, which administers the Commonwealth Electoral Office.
– The Government cannot accept the amendment moved. I do not intend to discuss the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition that a referendum should be taken. The intentions of the Government in regard to control of banking are well known, and it does not propose to hold a referendum.
– I support the amendment. There is a general impression that a referendum will be held on other matters early next year, ‘and I suggest that the added cost of including an extra item would be infinitesimal. The committee will appreciate that, although a general power may be given to a government, the Government must then submit specific proposals to the electors as to the manner in which that general power shall be exercised. There are 39 items covered by section 51 of the Constitution under which certain powers have been given to the Commonwealth Parliament. Had there been any doubt at the time that the Constitution was framed, it could have stated in clear and unequivocal terms something to the following effect: - “ The States hand over to the Commonwealth the right to monopolize the whole of the banking services of the Commonwealth of Australia”. Under the same section of the Constitution the Commonwealth has power to make laws in respect of marriage.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the holding of a referendum.
– I shall not transgress your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I am trying to point out what can be done under section 51 of the Constitution. In his amendment, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) asked that a referendum on the subject of the nationalization of banking be held. Under section 51 of the Constitution, the Commonwealth has certain powers in respect of banking. I was about to point out that under the same section it has powers relating to marriage. My reason for advocating that a referendum should be held on the subject of banking is that, according to the press, the Government intends to exercise the power conferred on it without holding a referendum. My point is that it could just as consistently wipe out the marriage laws under that section.
– I rise to order. I am reluctant to draw attention to Standing Order 419, and .although I appreciate that honorable senators may be granted certain liberties, on this occasion an elastic rope would be necessary to bring the matter to which Senator O’sullivan has referred within the scope of the amendment now before the chamber. I ask for a ruling as to whether or not he is in order.
– The point of order is upheld. Senator O’sullivan must confine his remarks to the question of a referendum.
– I am not trying to be difficult, Mr. Chairman. Naturally, I have much to learn about procedure in this chamber. I am trying to connect my remarks with the subjectmatter of the amendment; it is a matter relating to the exercise of a power conferred on the Commonwealth by section 51 of the Constitution. I proposed to make passing reference to another power conferred on the Commonwealth by that section. I submit that all the subjectmatters covered by it are related.
– Is the honorable senator questioning the Chairman’s ruling ?
– No. I was about to say that the Government would have as much justification for bringing in a law to abolish marriage without a referendum as for introducing legislation to -abolish private banking without a referendum. It could legislate to provide that the only contracts of marriage which would be legal would be those conducted in a certain way; in other words, it could legislate to give to a Commonwealth instrumentality a monopoly in respect of marriage. Will honorable senators say that such a law would be reasonable without submitting the proposal to the people by way of a referendum?
– The Government would not have the power.
– There is as much power under the Constitution tomake law3 in relation to marriage as there is to pass laws in respect of banking. A man who is held in great esteem for his legal knowledge - I refer to the Attorney-General (Dr. Evatt) - has written a book entitled, The King and
His Dominion Governments. I commend it to the committee, especially the right honorable gentleman’s remarks relating to matters of a serious revolutionary nature.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the amendment.
– The circumstances, in which, according to the AttorneyGeneral, a referendum should be held are mentioned in the book. I suggest that a proposal to introduce legislation in respect of banking is one of them.
. -I agree with the remarks of my Leader (Senator Cooper), and I support his amendment for a reduction by £1 of the proposed vote for the Department of the Interior, as an instruction to the Government to include provision for the taking of a referendum on its proposal for the nationalization of banking. That proposal was not put before the people in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and, therefore the electors should have an opportunity to express their opinion concerning it.
Question put -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the vote for the Department of the Interior -£1,240,700- by £1 (Senator Cooper’s amendment ) .
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. M. NlCHOLLS.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I should like some information regarding Division 55, Meteorological Branch. It appears that 24 observers and eighteen weather officers have been taken from the aviation field staff and added to the central staff. Can the Minister say whether this is merely a change of personnel or does it mean that a different method of working the branch is now in operation?
– There has been a reorganization of the branch, and the staff has been transferred to where it will be of the most use.
– I am confident that all honorable senators are agreed that forestry is an industry which should be given every possible assistance, and therefore I should like some information regarding the proposed vote for the forestry branch under division 57. Last financial year the sum of £28,000 was voted in respect of salaries of employees in the forestry branch, but actual expenditure amounted to only £20,188. The proposed vote for this year is £30,400. Is that an indication that the forestry branch is getting on its feet again ?
– The full amount voted last year in respect of the forestry branch was not expended because of the difficulty experienced in obtaining staff.
– Is the Australian Forestry School still in operation ?
– Yes. Quite a number of students of the school are on forestry stations in the different States. The policy of the department is to extend the activities of the school.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Works and Housing.
Proposed vote. £1,902,000.
– Now that we are recovering from the impact of war, I submit that the Department of Works and Housing should be merged with the Department of the Interior. I understand that in the past the latter department did substantially the work now being done by this department. One experiences the greatest delay in having to go from one department to another in order to have certain services done. The letting of a building is controlled by one department, and the furnishing of the same building by another department, whilst the provision of other equipment in the building is the responsibility of yet another department. Greater efficiency would be achieved by reducing the existing nineteen departments to as few as is practicable. The total number of departments prior to the outbreak of the recent war was eleven. Such re-organization would lead to greater efficiency and coordination. I am not blaming the Government in any way. By amalgamating as many departments as possible we should reduce overhead expenses substantially, and, at the same time, achieve greater efficiency.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed vote, £3,821,000.
– Provision is made for an increase of the administrative staff of this department by 634 employees. What is the reason for that increase of staff?
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, £1,322,000.
– The chairman of the Tariff Board is also the Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs. Is it the intention to continue the amalgamation of those two positions, or is this merely a temporary arrangement? Previously, the chairmanship of the Tariff Board was an entirely independent position.
. -The Chairman of the Tariff Board, Mr. Morris, who is also Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs, is attending the International Conference on Trade and Employment at Geneva. He is due to retire at an early date. It is not the intention, permanently, to combine the position of Chairman of the Tariff Board and that of Deputy Comptroller-General of Customs.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £304,400.
– The number of employees engaged in respect of pharmaceutical services is to be increased from 74 to 136, and this increase is largely accounted for by the appointment of female checkers. What are the duties of such employees? What is the reason for this substantial increase?
– The reason for the increase of staff is that this branch was not in operation last financial year.
– Do these female checkers check prescriptions?
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Commerce and Agriculture.
Proposed vote, £742,800.
– Provision is made for the appointment of an additional 50 meat inspectors. Is this step being taken in anticipation of an increase of our export trade during the next twelve months? Are these officers to be permanent employees?
. - Formerly, these inspectors were temporary employees and it has now been decided to make them permanent.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Social Services.
Proposed vote £792,000.
– This department is of particular interest to all honorable members and all honorable senators. I have made a close study of the National Welfare Fund, and it is my duty to draw the attention of the Government to the possibility of the fund becoming insecure. As at the 30th June, 1946, the fund stood at £47,000,000, and as at the 30th June, 1947, it had increased to £50,000,000. It is estimated that receipts during the current financial year will total £69,000,000, whereas expenditure is estimated at £77,000,000, that is an estimated deficit of £8,000,000. The Government’s revenues have been so buoyant recently as to justify describing the last few years as a boom period. For this financial year unemployment and sickness benefits are estimated to cost £4,500,000. In view of the fact that there has been full employment throughout Australia during the last few years, only a slight increase of unemployment will increase that cost to from £10,000,000 to £15,000,000. The National Welfare Fund will also be used to finance social services generally. Therefore I am justified in warning the Government of the possibility of the fund becoming insecure. All the social services visualized by the Government are not yet in operation, and the means test has not yet been abandoned. When these additional services become operative, and if, and when, the means test i3 abolished, the Government will be in financial difficulties, because it is budgeting for only £8,000,000 over and above what will be in the National Welfare Fund. I point out, too, that the number of ‘persons in the age group 65 years and over is increasing rapidly whereas, according to statistical returns, the numbers in the main production age group, namely, 20 to 40 years, are decreasing. The estimated expenditure in respect of invalid and old-age pensions alone for the current year is £39,500,000. This is approximately £10,000,000 more than last year, and £12,500,000 more than in 1945-46. What will the position be in another ten or fifteen years? Obviously, expenditure on invalid and old-age pensions will reach something like £50,000,000 a year. From these figures it can be expected that the drain on the National Welfare Fund will be £100,000,000 without any additional benefits or increased rates. On the other hand, a slight decrease of the present revenue will reduce the income of the fund to such a degree that it will not be solvent. At present we are enjoying a period of buoyant revenues and full cib- ployment, but should the fund become insolvent, either social services contributions, which are already high, will have to be increased, or payments in the form of benefits will have to be decreased. That is something that the Government will have to consider in the very ne:nfuture.
– The cost of unemployment benefits in 1946-47 was £910,822. At the 30th June, 1947, there were 6,59S persons in receipt of the unemployment benefit, but, because of the nature of the benefit, this figure can increase or decrease considerably and rapidly, according to industrial conditions. It is quite impossible to forecast with accuracy the possible expenditure for any period twelve months ahead, and, in the circumstances, it is considered that, on the basis of expenditure in 1946-47, and the fact that unemployment may, for some unforeseen reason, be extensive throughout the year, or very extensive for a part of the year, provision should be made to cover all contingencies. An estimate of £3,000,000 has, therefore, been submitted. All that money will not necessarily be expended.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) has also referred to a fear regarding the solvency of the National Welfare Fund. I assure him that if the fund were in any danger legislation would be passed by the Government to ensure its solvency.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Supply and Shipping
Proposed vote £4,795,000.
– Complaints have been made to me in regard to the method adopted for the disposal to government departments of goods such as motor car spare parts held by the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. The recent practice is to distribute these articles through the trade to the people who require them. Whilst that is a commendable practice, because it allows private enterprise to play its part in the disposal of surplus war stock, in the case of government departments there is room for some criticism of the system. After the spare parts have been selected by representatives of government departments they still have to go through trade channels. The result is that they are sent out to traders and then hack ito the department requiring them. I suggest that when articles have been chosen by a department a list of what has been taken should be sent to the traders concerned, who could then invoice the goods to the department requiring them. This would obviate any delay in making the goods available to the departments.
– I am pleased to hear the favorable comments of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) in regard to the operations of the Commonwealth Disposals Commission. The commission has done a magnificent job for Australia. To date, it has handled more than £120,000,000 worth of goods which have been distributed not only throughout the Commonwealth, but also in the islands adjacent to Australia, and in other countries. Whilst the commission may at times have got a little off the rails, generally speaking its work has been of the greatest value, and there has been little complaint about its operations throughout the length and breadth of Australia.
In regard to the supplying of goods to government departments, the honorable senator will appreciate the difficulties involved in any change of policy. The principles laid down originally for the disposal of war surplus goods are sound. It is provided that the Australian Government shall have first preference in the purchase of goods. Second preference is given to the State governments, and then the Commonwealth and State instrumentalities have an opportunity to buy. Anything not required by these authorities is disposed of through the trade at regular intervals and in such a manner that supplies will not .interfere with ordinary business. The suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition will be given consideration. I shall refer his representations to departmental officials and ascertain whether a change is desirable.
– The estimated expenditure by the Requisitioned Ships section of the Shipping
Branch for the current year is £1,753,800, compared with £2,755,492 actually expended in 1946-47. I should like to know whether this means that a certain percentage of the shipping formerly requisitioned has been returned to private ownership.
It is interesting to note also that estimated expenditure on attendance money for waterside workers is £85,000 compared with £206,264 in 1946-47. Does that mean that there are now fewer waterside workers, or that more employment is available for them?
– Most of the ships requisitioned by the Commonwealth are reverting to their former owners. The Shipping Control Board, which was the predecessor of this section of the Directorate, sub-chartered a number of vessels from the British Ministry of War Transport for use on the Australian coast, and provision is made for £510,000 representing charter money and war risk insurance money still unpaid on this account. These payments will be made in London. The amount payable is that necessary to recoup the British Ministry for disbursements. At the 30th June, amounts estimated at £800,000 were due to various owners of requisitioned ships for the operation of the vessels on behalf of the Commonwealth. In addition, the return of these vessels to the owners consequent upon the decision of the Commonwealth to de-requisition them, was to have been completed before the 30th September, 1947, and for those three months it was estimated that a further £400,000 would be required.
As with unemployment relief, it is difficult to forecast the expenditure that will be involved in the payment of attendance money. In any case, this will not be a charge against general revenue, but will be raised by a special levy on the shipping industry, based on the manhours of the waterside workers. The benefit of the attendance money is reflected in the contentment that is apparent in the industry to-day. There is not now the disputation and dislocation that was so evident some time ago. Disputes do occur of course, but they are settled by the Stevedoring Industry Commission very quickly, thus facilitating a greater continuity of work. As I said earlier to-night, I am hopeful that conditions in this industry will continue as they are at present because it is of the greatest importance to the Commonwealth.
– Division No. 98 includes provision for the expenditure on the Glen Davis shale oil project of an amount of £289,000. I can find no record of any expenditure on this undertaking last year, but I know that considerable payments have been made in respect of it in the past. Will the Minister for Supply and Shipping state whether the project is still being carried on and what position has been reached with it?
– Unfortunately, large sums of money have had to be expended on the Glen Davis shale oil project. However, I consider that the outlay has been justified by the results of the experiments which have been conducted with the construction of retorts for the extraction of oil from shale. Petrol is being produced at Glen Davis much more cheaply now than was the case several years ago, and in view of recent developments I am hopeful that there will be a further improvement in this direction in the’ near future. Within the last few weeks, miners engaged in the extraction of shale at Glen Davis have reached agreement with the management upon the working of the shale pillars by mechanical means. This should result in accelerated production of shale, which is essential to the success of the industry. The quantity of shale at grass is very limited and the miners’ federation has agreed to mechanization because the output has been too small to keep the project operating efficiently. The increased output should result in reduced costs of production. The amount expended by the Government on the Glen Davis project last year was £5S6,000.
– Division 99, Joint Coal Board, includes an item of £750,000 for “grants and advances for capital purposes and other expenditure “. Will this amount be recoverable or will it be disbursed in straight-out grants?
– The total expenditure proposed for the Joint Coal Board is approximately £1,000,000. The board was appointed under a long-range policy to undertake a wide variety of duties involving the re-organization of the coal industry. It has had to introduce mechanized methods in certain mines where the proprietors were not disposed, or perhaps not able, to purchase the necessary machinery. This has been a costly business. The board has been operating only since last March, but already it has done excellent work. The success of its activities is indicated by the action that was taken by the executive of the miners’ federation only yesterday, when it disciplined some miners on the northern coal-field for causing a stoppage. That action showed that the federation appreciates the fact that the Joint Coal Board is endeavouring to improve conditions in the industry. We can achieve the results that we seek only by providing better working conditions and amenities for the miners. When the board is able to break down the unfortunate psychological effect resulting from the miners’ belief that they are outcasts from society, we shall then get what we have long been seeking, namely, greater production of coal and peace and contentment in the industry. The expenditure provided for the Joint Coal Board can readily be explained. For instance, the establishment of the Coal Industry Tribunal has involved a considerable amount of expenditure. The board has had to establish offices at Sydney, Newcastle, and Lithgow, and on the south coast coalfields. It has also had to appoint engineers, welfare officers, industrial officers, coal engineers, and a clerical staff. Its staffs on the coal-fields are as follows: - Newcastle, 14; Wollongong, 8; Lithgow, 9; Cessnock, 9. The Joint Coal Board is empowered, subject to Treasury approval, to provide financial assistance for privately owned and governmentcontrolled mines. Recently the management of a mine which sought financial assistance refused to submit a balancesheet covering its operations, the board could not secure the information that it desired, and the company threatened to close the mine. The hoard took over the mine and has operated it so successfully that, only a few days ago, I was informed that it was at least “breaking even”. It has already improved conditions in the industry generally, and is taking action to increase coal production, which is essential to the economic welfare of the nation.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote - Department of External Territories, £64,000 - agreed to.
Department of Immigration.
Proposed vote, £1,775,500.
. - This is a most important department, and its proposed expenditure in 1947-48 of £1,775,500 represents a very great increase over its expenditure last year. 1 take this opportunity to state publicly that I consider that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) is administering the department very efficiently. Immigration is of the utmost importance to Australia, because a considerable increase of our population is vitally necessary. Although we all agree that the natural born Australian is the best immigrant, statistics show that the natural increase is too slow to build up the population to the level which history has shown to be necessary for the adequate defence of the nation. The Minister has demonstrated that he is fully aware of the importance of. bringing suitable immigrants to Australia as quickly as possible. I have examined figures prepared by the Commonwealth Statistician which give an alarming picture of population trends. The first group of figures which I have deals with the main producing group of the community, which consists of people between the ages of 20 years and 49 years. The Statistician estimates that the size of this group is decreasing. In 1946, the number of citizens included in that group was 3,729,000. According to present trends, that number will be reduced to 3,400,000 in 1950 and to 3,360,000 in 19S0. While this group is dwindling, the group which embraces people 65 years of age and over is expanding. The latter group numbered 510,000 in 1940 and 563,000 in 3946. It is estimated that the number will increase to 660,000 by 1950 and to 1,060,000 by 19S0. Those figures emphasize the importance of increasing our population of young people. It is necessary to encourage the right type of immigrant, and the Minister made a thorough investigation of this matter during his recent trip abroad when he visited various countries in search of desirable types of immigrants. The shortage of ships, and Australia’s distance from Europe, make the transport of immigrants a serious problem. I believe that all of us would prefer to obtain immigrants from, the United Kingdom. However, it appears that Great Britain cannot supply our needs at present. For this reason, I am particularly pleased that arrangements have been made to bring child migrants to Australia. I believe that children in their early impressionable years can be assimilated much more readily than could older people. Another problem associated with immigration arises from the shortage of houses in Australia. That is why priority is being given to immigrants nominated by Australian residents who hold themselves responsible for housing and caring for the newcomers. This will not cause interference with the housing requirements of our own people. In any case, many immigrants will be skilled tradesmen who will be able to help us to accelerate our house construction programmes. In the past, Australians have been considerably at fault in allowing immigrants to congregate in national communities. Australians have been accustomed to refer to immigrants, including those from the United Kingdom, in an uncomplimentary manner, and I believe that in many instances they have been made to feel .that they are not wanted in this country. The hand of friendship was certainly not extended to many of them. However, now that the people generally realize that immigrants are a valuable asset to this country, and that they are vitally necessary if we are to populate the country and develop it, I trust that a different outlook will prevail and that immigrants will be welcomed to our shores.
I notice that reports in the press state that some change is to be made in the status of nationality conferred on immigrants for various parts of the British Commonwealth. For some years I have believed that such a change was necessary to develop this nation. I understand now that when an immigrant from a nonBritish country wishes to become nationalized he will be accorded Australian nationality. That will probably assist in breaking down some of the barriers which existed in the past. I also stress the need for the exercise of care in the selection of immigrants, to ensure that a proper balance is preserved in the allocation to primary and secondary indusries. Agricultural labour is badly needed to assist the development of the wheat, sugar and dairying industries, and an immense amount of work has to be achieved in those fields. I trust that the Government will bear that in mind when determining the proportion of agricultural and industrial workers it brings to this country, and the policy adopted should be a flexible one, so that it can be adjusted in accordance with changes in the local situation.
Provision is to be made for the proper reception of immigrants on their arrival. That is commendable, because first impressions of people coming to this country are often the most lasting. Proper provision should also be made for their accommodation and treatment during the transitional period between their arrival and their absorption in employment.
Queensland has done a great deal to attract immigrants, but, unfortunately for that State, it seems to be the “ Cinderella “ of Australia in regard to allocation of immigrants. The quota of immigrants fixed for Queensland this year was 9,000, but I believe that only a few hundred have found their way to that State. I understand that Western Australia is given first preference in the allocation of immigrants. Immigrants arriving in Australia land in Western Australia, where they obtain their first impressions of Australia. It is a commonplace that many of them decide to settle there. That is all very well, but, in fairness to other States, particularly Queensland, a more just allocation of immigrants should be made.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Ashley) read a first time.
Senator ASHLEY (New South Wales-
Minister for Supply and Shipping) [10.22].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The provision made in the 1947-48 Estimates for expenditure on additions, new works, buildings, &c, is £29,967,000 from annual votes,and an additional £2,636,000 from special appropriations. The proposed appropriation under annual votes, for which parliamentary approval is now sought, may be summarized as follows : -
Further details may be found on pages 394-409 of the printed Estimates.
The provision for buildings and engineering works will be devoted mainly to the completion of works on hand, of which there was a considerable accumulation at the 30 th June last. A comprehensive programme of further works has been prepared, and this is being examined by the Government with a view to deciding, in the light of the labour and materials available, which of the works it is practicable to commence during the present year. The provision included in the estimates for the various departments represents, therefore, the best estimate available, having regard to prevailing conditions, of the amount which will be expended during the current year.
The amount of £1,554,000 provided for the Department of the Interior is mainly for the acquisition of sites and buildings for Commonwealth offices at the capital cities. Initial expenditure for the new administrative block at Canberra is also included. The sum of £7,144,000 is included for expenditure in connexion with war service homes. This will provide for the construction of homes, the purchase of land, the improvement of existing homes and the taking over of onerous mortgages. Anticipated expenditure of the Department of Munitions includes £2,400,000 for shipbuilding, and £700,000 for working capital and plant for the production of Beaufort homes. The provision of £7,835,000 for the Department of Civil Aviation covers electrical and other equipment and buildings and works at aerodromes. The proposed expenditure of £606,000 for the Repatriation Department consists mainly of additions and improvements to existing hospitals and institutions. The sum of £8,239,000 is required for the first stage of the Post Office rehabilitation programme which was recently approved by the Government. Development and restoration work in the Northern Territory will be continued and £531,000 is included for this purpose. The provision of £1,769,000 for the Australian Capital Territory is mainly for the construction of cottages and hostels. The appropriation does not include proposed expenditure on defence and post-war works such as the longrange guided weapons project, for which provision is made in the main estimates. Any further details which may be desired regarding specific works will be supplied by the Ministers concerned.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Courtice) read a first time.
Senator COURTICE (Queensland-
Minister for Trade and Customs) [10.28].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to amend the Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1924- 1942 to provide for the reconstitution of the Australian Dairy Produce Board as established under that act for the purpose of regulating and controlling the export of butter and cheese from the Commonwealth of Australia. During the war the board’s activities were curtailed considerably, and meetings were held only to comply with the provisions of the act, as in November, 1939, with the passing of the National Security (Dairy Produce Acquisition) Regulations, the control of the dairying industry was taken over by a small committee which was vested with wide powers to control the industry under war-time conditions. The Government now proposes to reinstate the Australian Dairy Produce Board so that a statutory authority shall be available to advise and assist in dealing with the important industry problems likely to arise with the gradual rehabilitation of overseas markets. The present board consists of seventeen members appointed under the act. These comprise four producers, nine representatives of co-operative butter and cheese factories, two members of proprietary and privately-owned butter and cheese factories, one representative of the Australian Council of the Australian Institute of Dairy Factory Managers and Secretaries, and a representative of the Commonwealth Government. It is the view of the Government that more effective administration would be achieved by a smaller body, and the amending act provides for twelve members in all who will be representative of the following interests: - Dairyfarmers of Australia (nominated from a panel of names submitted by the Australian Dairy Farmers’ Federation), two; co-operative butter and cheese factories (one from each State elected as prescribed), six; proprietary and privately owned, butter and cheese factories (elected as prescribed), two; employees of butter and cheese factories, one; Commonwealth Government representative (who shall be chairman of the board), one; total, twelve.
As the six members elected to represent co-operative butter and cheese factories will be directors of those factories who are elected to the positions of directors by the producer suppliers to those factories, it will be appreciated that producers have eight representatives on a board of twelve members.
The Australian Government has entered into a long-term purchase arrangement with the Government of the United Kingdom covering the export of Australian butter and cheese up to the 30th June, 1948, and an extension of this arrangement has been sought to the 30th June, 1950. This arrangement has caused a complete change in the methods covering the export of butter and cheese from Australia, and in view of the period of the arrangement it is essential that control of the industry be transferred from the war-time authority to the statutory board. The terms of the purchase arrangement with the United Kingdom Government make it necessary for the Australian Government to empower the board to carry out certain of the functions of the war-time authority and to enable it on behalf of the Australian Government to buy and sell butter and cheese intended for export. For this purpose provision is made in the bill for the board to obtain advances from the Commonwealth Bank. The board will, during such period as the long term purchase arrangement for the sale of Australia’s exportable butter and cheese continues, handle annually Australian Government finance to the amount of more than £15,000,000, and in these circumstances it is the view of the Government that it should have the right to appoint the chairman. Provision is also made in the amending bill for the board to take over the assets, rights, obligations, liabilities, contracts and agreements of the Dairy Produce Control Committee constituted by the National Security (Dairy Produce Requisition) Regulations in force under the Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act 1946. Other amendments are of a machinery nature only and are necessary to give effect to the major amendments, to which attention has already been directed.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Ashley) read a first time.
Senator ASHLEY (New South Wales-
Minister for Supply and Shipping) [10.33].- I move-
That thebill be now read a second time.
In this bill authority is sought to increase the salaries payable to the holders of certain statutory offices where salaries are determined by legislation. For many years it has been widely recognized that members of the judiciary and officers in the higher executive positions of the Commonwealth Public Service have not been remunerated on a scale commensurate with their responsibilities, and the Government has decided that adjustments should now be made. In assessing the increases which it proposes to make the Government has taken into consideration - (a) the long period during which there has been no upward adjustment of the basis of remuneration; (b) the general trend of salaries for professional and high executive positions in Australia; and (c) the rates of remuneration of similar offices in the United Kingdom and other countries. The salaries of justiceship of the High Court were fixed by the Parliament in 1903, and have not been altered since. The salaries of the other judicial offices included in the bill were fixed subsequently, but strictly in relation to the salaries attaching to High Court justiceships. These salaries no longer bear the relationship originally existing to the earnings of the leaders of the profession at the bar, and the increases now proposed are in the direction of rectifying the position. I need scarcely emphasize how essential it is to the maintenance of the high tradition of the judiciary that the salaries should be sufficient to enable outstanding legal men to relinquish their professional practices and become available for service in responsible judicial office. The salaries attaching to the other positions covered by the bill were last determined by Parliament as follows : Public Service Arbitrator, in 1920; Chairman and members of the Public Service Board, in 1923; Commissioner and Second Commissioner of Taxation, in 1923; and AuditorGeneral, in 1926.
The proposed increases have been determined as the result of a general review of salaries of permanentheads and other high executive officers of the Commonwealth Public Service. Provision for increased salaries for holders of nonstatutory appointments has been included in the Estimates, and these willbecomepayable when the Appropriation Bill has been passed. The last general review of salaries attaching to senior positions was made in 1937. Since that time important changes have taken place in the scope and functions of the several departments, the general effect of which hasbeen to increase the responsibilities of the senior officers of those departments. The Government is convinced that the proposed increases of the salaries of permanent heads and other high executive officers are necessary to attract and retain the best men available, and thus avoid the numerous resignations which have been an unfortunate feature of the Commonwealth Public Service since the end of the recent war. I therefore commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10 a.m.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act- Appointment - Department of Civil Aviation - B. A. J. Scoles.
Commonwealth Shipping Act - Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board - Cockatoo Island Dockyard - Balance-sheet and Liquidation Account, together with AuditorGeneral’s report thereon, for year ended 28th February, 1947.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act -
National Security (Economic Organiza tion ) Regulations- Orders - Exemption.
War service land settlement - Victoria (dated 29th September, 1947).
National Security (Enemy Property) Regulations - Order - Persons ceasing to be enemy subjects.
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Orders - Nos. 3098-3113.
National Security (Supplementary) Regulations - Order - Prohibition of works near aerodromes.
River Murray Waters Act- River Murray Commission - Report for year 1946-47.
Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for the Australian Capital Territory, for year 1946-47.
Senate adjourned at 10.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 October 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1947/19471023_senate_18_194/>.