18th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
SenatorCOOPER. - I ask the Leader of the Senate whether it is a fact that the Minister for Supply and Development has stated, as is reported in the press, that the Cabinet contains sufficient men of sufficient ingenuity to ensure that the banking legislation shall come into force whatever the High Court may decide, and that it would be brought into operation by referendum if held invalid by the court. Was the Minister for Supply and Development speaking with the authority of the Government on this matter?
– The Government cannot take any responsibility for statements that are made by any one outside this Parliament. The press report to which the honorable senator has referred may or may not be accurate. Very often statements on controversial matters such as the banking issue are incorrectly reported, and I am confident that that has been so in this instance.
– Can the Minister for Social Services say whether there is any truth in the statement published in the Melbourne press last week that the Government has decided to increase the age pension by 5s. a week?
– There is no truth in the statement. The Government has not given consideration to the matter but, in the normal course of events, the position will be reviewed by Cabinet when the next budget is under consideration.
Ban on Dutch Ships.
– Can the Minis ter for Shipping and Fuel inform the Senate whether the ban on Dutch ships still remains? If so, what is the present position with regard to the export of fresh fruit and perishable foodstuffs to Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies?
– The ban on Dutch ships remains, but to what degree it is being enforced I am not in a position to say. Originally it was imposed on war materials and munitions. I understand that certain negotiations are taking place and I hope they will lead to the removal of the ban.
Report of PublicWorks Committee.
– As chairman, I present the report of the Public “Works Committee on the following subject : -
Proposed erection of additions to the telephone exchange at Hamilton, New South Wales.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to an article in the Brisbane Telegraph of the 15th April, which credited him with having stated that Australian workers could no longer take the view that they were “ kicking the boss in the shins “ when they ceased work, and that there was a growing realization of the fact that the workers themselves, and the community as a whole, suffered most from stoppages? Will the Minister undertake to bring his statements to the notice of the officers of certain industrial organizations who have been responsible for serious hold-ups in Australian industry in recent months?
– I do not remember having seen in the Brisbane Telegraph the statement mentioned, but what the honorable senator has stated is reasonably accurate. I admit having made a statement drawing attention to the necessity for all sections of the community to have a greater appreciation of their responsibilities, in order to overcome some of the difficult problems that exist to-day. There is no need for me to draw the attention of the leaders of industrial organizations to this matter particularly; it should be generally recognized that economic and industrial conditions are such that it behoves all sections of the community to do their best to overcome the shortages of supplies which unfortunately exist in Australia to-day. Whilst I have no desire to make particular reference to any section of the community, I believe that any stoppage or dislocation of industry has a very detrimental effect on the people generally, and particularly on the workers.
Ord River Scheme
– Will the Minister representing the Ministerfor the Interior inform the Senate whether any report by the committee appointed by the Government to inquire into the Ord river scheme is yet available?
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the responsible Minister, and request that a reply be furnished as soon as possible.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel say whether the Governments of Victoria and South Australia have indicated that they are not prepared to re-enact complementary legislation which would permit the continuance of prices control by the Australian Government? Has the Government of Western Australia indicated its attitude towards the repeal after December, 1948, of the existing State act which permits the Australian Government to provide this very necessary protection? Did the Premiers of all the States agree that it was essential that the Australian Government should continue to control prices?
– The operation of the legislation in the States of Victoria and South Australia has been extended to a certain date, but the Government of Western Australia has given no indication that the controls will be continued after that date. I have no other information at the moment, but if the honorable senator wishes, I shall make inquiries on the subject.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Static condensers of the oil-immersed type.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKenna) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to enlarge the Commonwealth Parliament. During the first half-century of Australia’s history as a nation, its population has more than doubled. During these years there has also been a great expansion, especially under the stimulus of two world wars and a world depression, of the responsibilities borne by this Parliament. The purpose of the bill is to enlarge both Houses of the Parliament so that its numbers will be more in keeping withthese fundamental factors in our political life.
In order to function efficiently, a democracy must devise a system of representation of the people in which the diverse views and interests of the community can find expression. This cannot be achieved if the number of representatives is too small. There isno automatic scale of numbers or areas for securing the best democratic results. Nevertheless, it is clear that Australia has altogether outgrown the small parliament with which the federation was equipped in 1900. How small numerically the Commonwealth Parliament is in comparison with some of the State legislatures can be seen from the following figures : -
The Constitution empowers the legislature to increase the size of the Parliament if it thinks fit, but lays down certain conditions which must be observed. The most important of those conditions is the rule, set out in section 24, that the number of members of the House of Representatives must always be “ as nearly as practicable “ twice the number of senators. If, therefore, the number of representatives is to be increased there must of necessity be a correlative increase of the number of senators. Accordingly, this bill effects an increase of the number of senators, with the appropriate correlative increase of the number of members of the House of Representatives.
The bill provides that there shall be ten senators for each State instead of six as at present. Thus, if the bill is passed, the total number of senators will be increased from 36 to 60. Authority for the proposals contained in the bill is provided by sections 7 and 14 of the Constitution, which set out, inter alia, that the Parliament may make laws increasing or diminishing the number of senators for each State, but so that equal representation of the several original States shall be maintained, and further, that whenever the number of senators is increased, the Parliament may make such provisions for the vacating of the places of senators as it deems necessary to maintain regularity in the rotation.
Section 24 of the Constitution lays down that the number of members of the House of Representatives shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of senators. Therefore, if the number of senators is increased, as provided in the bill now presented, the number of members of the House of Representatives must be correspondingly raised to a number, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators. The actual number will probably be 121. Pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution and the Representation Act 1905-1938, the actual increase of the number of members of the House of Representatives representing the States which will follow the passing of this bill will be from 74 to 121. There will be no change in Tasmania, but in the other States the numbers will increase as follows : -
New South Wales, from 28 to 47.
Victoria, from 20 to 33.
Queensland, from 10 to 18.
South Australia, from 6 to 10.
Western Australia, from 5 to 8.
At this point I remind the Senate that the representation of the several States in the House of Representatives is determined by dividing the number of the population of each State, as revealed at the last census, by a quota ascertained by dividing the number of the population of the Commonwealth by twice the number of senators.
The proposed enlargement of the numerical strength of the Commonwealth Parliament which the passing of this bill will permit is regarded as both necessary and warranted. Since the establishment of the Commonwealth, the population of Australia has more than doubled. To be exact, it has increased from 3,765,339 in 1900, to 7,580,820 in 1947. At the Senate elections in 1903, 1,893,586 electors were enrolled. To-day the number is 4,780,334, or more than two and a half times as many. In 1903, in the aggregate there was one senator for every 52,596 electors. To-day the ratio is one senator for every 132,787 electors. If the number of senators is increased to 60 as provided in this bill, the ratio at the next elections will be one senator to approximately 83,000 electors, which is less, proportionately, than in 1903.
In 1903 each member of the House of Representatives represented, on an average, 25,247 electors. To-day, the average is 64,599, whilst if Tasmania is omitted, and allowance made for the expected rise in enrolment in the meantime, the average for the mainland divisions towards the end of this Parliament will be about 69,000 electors. However, if the number of members of the House of Representatives be increased to 121, the average number of electors represented by each member at the time of the next elections will be reduced- to approximately 41,300, or, omitting Tasmania, 41,680.
In 1903 the Senate and House of Representatives taken together provided one representative in the Commonwealth Parliament for every 17,059 electors. Today,” the ratio is one for every 43,457 electors. With the Senate membership increased to 60 and that of the House of Representatives to 121, at the time of the next general election there will be one representative for approximately every 27,600 electors. Therefore, referring again to the 1903 figure, on a proportionate basis there is an argument for an even greater increase of the membership of both chambers than is proposed in this measure. The average numbers of electors for each representative in the State Parliaments of Australia, including both upper and lower houses, are as follows : - New South Wales, 12,532 electors; Victoria, 13,657 electors; Queensland, 10,744 electors; South Australia, 7,148 electors; Western Australia, 3,756 electors; and Tasmania, 3,290 electors.
For some time past there has been a strong body of opinion that, having regard to the growth of population and the marked expansion of Commonwealth interests and activities, the numerical strength of the National Parliament should be substantially increased. The Parliament of Canada, which dominion comprises an area roughly one-fifth larger than that of Australia and has a population of about 12,000,000, provides probably the best parallel with Australia. It consists of a Senate of 96 members and a House of Commons of about 250 members. The Australian Government is convinced that in the interests of the people of the Commonwealth the Parliament ought to be enlarged to the degree provided in the bill, and since, in any event a redistribution of the electorates is due prior to the next general election, the Government considers the present to be an opportune time at which to effect such enlargement.
It is proposed to bring the Senate up to the full strength of 60 senators as from the day of the first meeting of the Parliament after the next dissolution of the House of Representatives. This will be necessary in order that membership of the Senate shall, from that date, be approximately half of that of the House of Representatives as is provided in the Constitution. Accordingly, the bill provides that, apart from any long casual vacancies that may have to be filled, seven senators shall be chosen in each State at the next election. Four of the new senators elected in each State will take office as from the date of the first meeting of the Parliament after the election, and, according to the order of their election, will continue in office until the 30th June, 1956, or the 30th June, 1953. The 42 new senators, together with the eighteen who will not retire for a further three years, will bring the Senate membership up to 60. At each subsequent election of senators, five senators will normally be elected in each State, making 30 to be elected at each periodical election.
I commend the bill to honorable senators and urge its speedy passage. It is essential that the bill be dealt with at this early stage in order to permit a reasonable period for the considerable preparation which will be involved between now and the next general election in the redistribution of the States into new electoral divisions and subsequently the preparation of new maps and rolls, the establishment of additional divisional head-quarters and so on.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKenna) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make provision for the application of proportional representation to the election of senators. Prior to 1918, senators were elected by what is usually termed the “ first past the post “ method. Each voter was required to place a cross in the square opposite the name of each candidate for whom he desired to vote, the number of crosses permitted being confined to the exact number of senators to be elected. Thus where three senators were required the three candidates with the greatest number of crosses were chosen. In 1918 the “ preferential block majority “ system was introduced in respect of Senate elections. This system continued the principle of the old “ first past the post “ system in that under it generally all seats in a State went to the party or combination of parties favoured at the time by a bare or simple majority of the electors. In truth the system used since 1918 may be considered an improvement on the old system only to the degree that it ensures majority representation as against possible minority representation. The great defect, from the representation aspect, of both the old “first past the post” system and the more recently used block majority system is that at an election generally all seats in a State have been won by candidates of the one party, leaving a minority of between 40 and 50 per cent, of the electors without any representation in the Senate at all. For many years there has been a demand that Parliament should provide a system of electing senators which would give more equitable results and enable the electorate to be more truly represented in the Senate. The Government has given careful consideration to the matter, and has closely examined alternative methods. It has decided that, in relation to the election of senators, where the State votes as one electorate, the fairest system and the one most likely to enhance the status of the Senate is that of proportional representation.
The bill now presented sets out in detail the method of counting proposed to be adopted in respect of future elections of senators. The method is generally in accord with the practice laid down by the Proportional Representation Society. It follows closely the provisions contained in the Proportional Representation Bil] 1912 of Great Britain and the system employed in respect of municipal elections in the United Kingdom and South Africa. It is virtually identical with the method used in the election of the Parliament of Eire, and is similar to the system which was employed in respect of parliamentary elections in New South Wales from 1920 to 1925. In principle, the method proposed is the same as that used in Tasmania, although for reasons of workability and simplicity it differs slightly in its practical application.
It is not proposed to alter the existing style of the Senate ballot-paper or the provision that candidates may be grouped thereon with their names in such order within the group as they desire. Nor is it intended to vary the requirement that voters must indicate the order of theirpreference for all the candidates. Whilst this latter requirement may have theeffect of continuing to produce a fairlyhigh informal vote it definitely precludes the possibly greater evil of exhausted” votes, that is votes which become exhausted in the process of transfer. In this connexion it is pointed out that at the 1922 and 1925 Parliamentary elections in New South Wales the exhausted votes, which in number exceeded the informal votes, were the cause of much dissatisfaction and disputation. Clause 3 prescribes the manner in which it is proposed the several vacancies shall be filled. As hitherto, the count will be carried out, under the direction of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, in the offices of the respective divisional returning officers. This will ensure completion of the count with the greatest safety, the maximum of speed and the minimum of cost. When he has received the final result of the count of the first preference votes from all the returning officers and has totalled such results the Commonwealth Electoral Officer will determine a quota by dividing the total number of first preference votes by one more than the number of candidates required to be elected and by increasing the quotient so obtained by one. This formula for determining a quota, which in effect produces the lowest number which, when multiplied by the number of candidates to be elected, leaves a remainder of votes less than that lowest number, is the one recommended by the Proportional Representation Society, and used in Tasmania, in Eire, and generally in all places in British communities where proportional representation has been applied. Any candidate who, either on the count of the first preference votes, or at any subsequent stage, obtains a number of votes equal to or greater than the quota shall be elected ; and until all vacancies have been filled, the surplus votes, that is, any number in excess of the quota, of such elected candidate will, in the manner set out in the bill, be transferred to the continuing candidates in strict proportion to the next preferences indicated by voters.
The method of disposing of an elected candidate’s surplus votes prescribed in the bill is that recommended by the Proportional Representation Society and is precisely the same as that used in Eire, in municipal elections in Great Britain and South Africa, and is similar to the method employed in connexion with the parliamentary elections in New South Wales in the early nineteen-twenties. It differs from the Tasmanian practice in that whereas in Tasmania all the votes of the elected candidate are transferred at a fractional value, under the proposed method only such number of votes as equals the surplus, taken in strict proportion to the preferences on the whole of the votes of the elected candidate, are transferred. It is thought that the Tasmanian system, whilst suitable where the number of votes is comparatively small and all such votes are concentrated at one centre, is not readily capable of being worked efficiently by too remote a control. Consequently in order to employ that system at a Senate election, it would first be necessary to assemble the whole of the ballot-papers for the State at one centre. Not only would this delay completion, involve risks of loss in transit, and increase costs heavily, but also in the larger States the Commonwealth Electoral Officer would bc faced with the almost insuperable task of securing for a period of several weeks the extensive accommodation and equipment needed, as well as additional staff.
Whilst it may be claimed the Tasmanian system is mathematically more exact, tests that have been made reveal that a similar result is obtained by the employment of the method proposed. Questioned as to the likelihood of difference, eminent mathematicians advised the Proportional Representation Society of England that “ Whenever a considerable number of votes is in play, the element of chance involved is so small as to be negligible “. Dealing with the point in its comprehensive report on Electoral Systems, the United Kingdom Royal Commission of 1908 said “ The chance of the result being affected is too small to be seriously considered. We agree with the Proportional Representation Society the additional labour involved (in the Tas- manian System) is greater than it is worth “. In a report furnished in 1913, a committee consisting of Mr. H. E. Packer, Chief Electoral Officer for Tasmania, Mr. E. L. Piesse, LL.B., and Mr. J. F. Daly stated inter aiia, “ We are justified in saying that in each district, at each of the three elections - 15 contests in all - the result would have been the same with the English rules as with the Tasmanian rules. . . . We therefore recommend that if the form of the rules should again be considered by Parliament the English rules be adopted “. Thus it will be observed that a responsible local committee reported in favour of the adoption in Tasmania of the time saving method of disposing with surplus votes proposed in this bill. The bill further provides that if, after the count of the first preference votes or after the transfer of the surplus votes of an elected candidate at any stage, no candidate or less than the number required to be elected has or have obtained the quota, then the candidate with the fewest votes shall be excluded, and the whole of his ballotpapers transferred to the continuing candidates; and if, thereupon, no candidate has yet reached the quota, the process of excluding the candidate with the fewest votes and the transferring of his ballotpapers will continue until a continuing candidate has received a number of votes equal to the quota,- or in respect of the last vacancy, a majority of the votes. In its later clauses the HH provides that where candidates are elected at the same time the order of their election shall be determined by the number of their surplus votes. The candidate with the largest surplus shall be the first elected, and so on. The same principle will apply in relation to the transfer of surplus votes. The largest surplus will be transferred first, and so on. The bill further provides that, if on any count two or more candidates have an equal number of votes, and one of them has to be excluded, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall decide upon the candidate to be excluded; or if two or more candidates are elected with an equal number of votes, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall decide the order of their election and the. transfer of their votes ; or if, in the final count for the filling of the last vacancy, two candidates have an equal number of votes, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall decide which shall be elected, but that except, as so provided, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall not vote at the election.
From statements that have been made from time to time it would seem that the proposed application of proportional representation to the election of senators would be welcomed -by the people.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide for the establishment of acoustic laboratories. Parliament will be asked to provide the necessary funds from time to time.
During 1942, problems of noise and difficulties of inter-communication in aircraft and armoured fighting vehicles arose, and in April, 1943, the National Health and Medical Research Council, with funds provided by the Commonwealth, established the Acoustic Research Laboratory at the Kanematsu Institute of Pathology, Sydney Hospital, to investigate these matters.. The laboratory was later moved to the New Medical School, University of Sydney. As a result of investigations, a highly efficient inter-communication system was devised for tanks and aircraft, and an excellent series of ear plugs was designed, and adopted by the services for protection against excessive noise and blast from mortars, guns, armoured fighting vehicles and aircraft. “With the termination of hostilities, attention was directed to civilian problems in the acoustic field, the most immediate of these being associated with the rehabilitation of deafened exservicemen.
A further important problem arose concerning a large group of children about five years old, whose congenital deafness was the result of the mothers being affected by rubella or German measles during pregnancy. Techniques for taking accurate measurements of the hearing deficiencies of these children were devised, and special hearing aids were designed to assist in their education and speech development. This research work was initially carried out in collaboration with the New South “Wales Education Department.
In 1946, the National Health and Medical Research Council decided that, as the war-time research activities had ceased, and the amount of routine civilian work was increasing, it no longer felt justified in financing the operations of the laboratory. The council, however, considered that the laboratory was much too valuable to be disbanded, and recommended that it should be taken over by the Commonwealth Department of Health. Cabinet agreed to this proposal in May, 1946, and the transfer -was effected on the 1st J January, 1947. The name of this establishment was then changed from the Acoustic Research Laboratory to the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratory, and it is now situated in Erskine House, York-street, Sydney. In the meantime, the work that was being carried out, in collaboration with the New South “Wales Education Department, on school children with hearing defects, evoked general interest, and requests from other States for similar assistance were received.
Staff and portable equipment were sent to Victoria, South Australia and “Western Australia, to measure the degrees of deafness in the affected children, and to indicate which of the children would benefit by the use of hearing aids. “Calibration and fitting of the hearing aids purchased by individuals and by the State authorities was also carried out by the laboratory staff.
In April, 1947, a request was received from the Repatriation Commission for assistance in the choice, fitting and maintenance of the hearing aids which were being supplied to deafened ex-servicemen. An arrangement was made with the Commonwealth Department of Health that acoustic laboratories should be established in Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane, and that the Repatriation Commission would contribute to the cost of their establishment and maintenance. Those at Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth are now in operation. The main laboratory, situated in Sydney, attends to the requirements of the Repatriation Commission in New South Wales.
At present, in private enterprise no standards are defined for qualification as a hearing-aid technician, nor is there any provision for the registration of personnel, other than registered medical practitioners, recognized as skilled in the measurement of degrees of deafness. The service provided by the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories is, therefore, the only one of its type in the Commonwealth. The functions of these laboratories are: - (1) To carry out the requirements of the Repatriation Commission for deafened ex-service personnel and to provide a similar service for the Commonwealth Department of Social Services in respect of deafened exservice personnel whose disability was not caused by war service; (2) to assist the Education Departments of the States in measuring deafness, fitting aids, and maintaining hearing aid equipment for school children; (3) to act on behalf of various State and other authorities which desire to have independent tests made before assisting financially in the purchase of hearing aids for people under their care.
With the development of the acoustic laboratory service, it is proposed to extend its activities to the investigation of problems associated with noise in industry. To do this, it will be necessary first to define noise levels which affect the production and the sensibilities of the persons working in noisy conditions. Equipment and staff will then be provided to measure the noise levels obtaining in various industries and to advise on methods for reduction of noise to safe proportions, cr, if this be not possible, for the protection of the worker from ill effects. Investigations will be made for the purpose of developing apparatus for detecting early deafness in children at the most prevalent age, with a view to taking early preventive action against deafness. A Commonwealth-wide acoustic laboratory service will be of great value as part of a national health service in providing advice and assistance with all the techni- cai equipment which is necessary for measuring degrees of deafness, and for the maintenance of efficiency in hearing aids.
Some of the smaller States have already requested that the acoustic laboratories should actually carry out tests in respect of citizens generally. This would greatly increase the activities which at present are the responsibility of State authorities and organizations. This expansion will be considered in planning for a national health service. To encourage the production in Australia of hearing aids and their component parts, technical advice and information as to the standards to be achieved will be available to manufacturers. I emphasize that the Government fully appreciates the disadvantages suffered by those whose misfortune it is to be afflicted with deafness. People so afflicted are deprived of many pleasures and experiences. The Government is desirous of taking every step possible which will contribute to the application of scientific advances in off-setting .or correcting the disability under which so many people are labouring, and thus open up for them the opportunities that proper aids would permit. It is not proposed that the Commonwealth should supply hearing aids at present; the provision of such a. service in other countries is under close observation and consideration will be given to this aspect by the national health organization which the Government proposes to establish. I commend this bill to the Senate.
– I had an opportunity to examine this bill before the Senate met this morning. As indicated by the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna), the purpose of the measure is to provide for the establishment of acoustic laboratories in the capital cities of the States. The first such laboratory was established in Sydney for the purpose of investigating problems of noise and difficulties of communication between fighting service vehicles, such as tanks. This work has now been completed, and it is proposed to transfer the activities of the laboratories to the field of civilian deafness, including research into the elimination of noise in factories. The bill commends itself particularly in respect of the treatment and rehabilitation of deafened ex-service men and women. According to the report of the Repatriation Commission for 1944-45, the latest one available, 657 ex-members of the forces who enlisted during World War II. and were in receipt of war pensions were then suffering from deafness and ear trouble. It is safe to assume that the incidence of deafness amongst ex-servicemen to-day is infinitely greater than that figure indicates. The necessity for close cooperation between the Departments of Health and Repatriation in alleviating the condition of those men is most apparent, and it is satisfactory to learn that the departments are co-operating in the work of choosing, fitting and maintaining hearing aids for ex-service men and women. I commend the Government for making such assistance available to them.
Fortunately, the percentage of persons suffering from total loss of hearing is small. However, there are many thousands of people who may be best described as being “ hard of hearing “ and I hope that the advancement of acoustic research will give considerable relief to them. The Minister has referred to certain corrective action taken by the Department of Health in respect of children who are congenitally deaf as the result of their mothers having been infected by German measles during pregnancy. Mr. H. Best, in his comprehensive book entitled Deafness and the Deaf in the United States, lays special stress on the necessity for combating those diseases which cause deafness and generally occur in the early years of life. According to the latest available statistics for the United States of America, 21.4 per cent, of acquired deafness is attributable to scarlet fever and 22.4 per cent, to meningitis. This bill is confined largely to the field of acoustics, but I am sure the Minister will agree that the combating of diseases which cause deafness is of the utmost importance and that research into such diseases could be allied to acoustic research. I hope that his department will give adequate attention to this aspect of the subject of deafness. The Opposition supports the bill.
– wi reply - I am glad that this measure has the support of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) and his colleagues. I point out to the Leader of the Opposition that the number of deafened exservicemen receiving treatment has increased enormously in recent years. He referred to a total of 657 in 1944-45; in fact, this service is attending to the needs of approximately 2,500 deafened! ex-servicemen at present. The honorablesenator discussed the need for research.. This service to 2,500 ex-servicemen presents a wide field for research. Themen are scattered throughout Australia in all kinds of climates, under all kinds of conditions, and they present to the department an opportunity to determine the best type of hearing aid and to examine the effects upon it of varying climatic and other conditions. I agree entirely with what the Leader of the Opposition has said about the need for research into diseases that produce very deleterious effects upon mothers and particularly upon young children. As the honorable gentleman knows, this Government grants a sum of approximately £50,000 per annum for medical research alone to the National Health and Medical Research Council. Under the aegis of that council, the medical profession co-operates most generously in every phase of research.
Allied to the matter mentioned by the honorable senator is the work being conducted at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute at Melbourne under the direction of Professor Burnett. The Australian Government makes a contribution of about £15,000 per annum to that institute and recently it granted an additional amount of £20,000, through the National Health and Medical Research Council, to enable Professor Burnett and his associates to embark upon further elaborate investigations in relation to virus diseases. At present the institute is engaged upon intense research into Rubella, or German measles. It has at last been able to identify a germ in connexion with that disease and, with the cooperation of a number of women from the university and the staff of the hospital, it has been able to transmit German measles deliberately to human beings. I pay a very sincere tribute to the women who have offered themselves for treatment under those conditions for the betterment of their fellows. It will interest honorable senators to learn that one of the “ guinea pigs “ in that experiment is the daughter of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman). In the light of this information, the Leader of the Opposition will appreciate that the Government is very active in fostering research into German measles and in attending to the needs of children who suffered from the last epidemic of the disease about eight years ago. I agree that research should be conducted into several fields, including diseases of the kind mentioned by the honorable senator. However, I believe that the Senate will agree that the Government has displayed considerable interest in research directed to the prevention of disease. A large sum of money will be expended in the establishment of the John Curtin Medical Research School, which is to be founded in Canberra to function in association with the National University. In addition, the Government contemplates establishing, in the near future, a national health organization. So far as I can influence the development of that service, I can assure honorable senators that I shall endeavour to give to it a bias in favour of the promotion of positive health in the community, and in the undertaking of research directed to the prevention of disease. I am grateful to the Senate for its support of the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- Whilst I wholeheartedly support the bill, I should like to know something of the Government’s intentions in regard to the prevention and treatment of occupational deafness. I have in mind particularly that almost every boilermaker suffers from deafness caused by the constant use of electrically operated hammers and chipping machines. Can anything be done to compel employers to safeguard the health of their employees by providing approved preventive equipment? Other classes of industrial workers, who use electric blowers and machines which emit a constant humming sound, are also afflicted with deafness. Many industrial workers, particularly blacksmiths, are deaf in one ear, and workers in heavy industries where a great deal of noise is encountered often find that they can hear normally only while they are in a noisy plant.
– I am obliged to Senator Lamp for having raised the important subject of occupational deafness. However, I remind him that in the course of my second-reading speech I mentioned that the Government intends that the national health service which it will introduce shall embrace research into occupational diseases. Quite apart from the humanitarian aspect of such measures, the Government appreciates that considerable loss of production is caused by occupational disease. The Department of Health is working in the closest cooperation with the Department of Labour and National Service to devise means of preventing, and treating, disease of that kind. The industrial welfare bureau of the Department of Labour and National Service collates information in regard to occupational disease, and its work is co-ordinated with that of other government departments in order to ensure that the means adopted to solve the problem of occupational disease are practical, as well as scientific. The scientist who is in charge of the acoustics service of that bureau is a brother of Senator Murray. He has performed extraordinary work during the few years that he has occupied that position. He has developed apparatus for determining the degree and type of deafness which afflicts various classes of industrial workers, noise levels in industry and its effect on individuals. He has also carried out important research into the incidence of rubella in children as it affects their aural faculties. It is difficult for us, who listen so much, and talk so much, to realize that there are in the community people who have never heard the sound of a human voice, the song of a bird or the rustle of the breeze. Of course, we realize that it is not always of advantage to be able to hear, but I do not think that honorable senators will disagree with me when I say that most of the sounds in the world are pleasant rather than otherwise. Mr. Murray and his associates are really interested in their work, and they have related most interesting stories of the joy experienced by children afflicted with deafness because of rubella and other diseases when the children realize for the first time that there is such a thing as sound. The suggestion of the honorable senator that the Government should take action to compel employers to reduce the noise from machines which emit such a volume of sound as to be harmful to those working near them is one which he has mentioned to me on previous occasions. However, I am sure that he realizes that the Government has no power constitutionally to interfere in the industrial field. I remind the Senate that on two recent occasions the Government sought from the people powerto make laws with regard to the terms and conditions of employment in industry. Although the Government’s last attempt to obtain that power very nearly succeeded, the Commonwealth still does not possess it. The Parliament has no power to legislate directly in relation to industrial relationships. All that it can do in that field is to establish arbitral tribunals, such as conciliation commissioners, and leave it to them to determine the terms and conditions which shall apply in industry. It is a matter for regret that the Parliament, which is charged with the responsibility of governing the nation, should lack any real power to intervene directly in the regulation of wages and conditions in industry, because the development of our economy depends very largely on those factors. Much as I should like to be able to give the honorable senator an assurance that the Commonwealth will require employers who are not prepared to co-operate and are unmindful of the effects of noise upon their workers to take positive remedial action, I cannot do so because that is a matter in which the Commonwealth has no power. I must leave it to the State governments. However, the Commonwealth will lead in the field of research and the establishment of standards and in advising what ought to be done. The Commonwealth will do all it can in those fields, but only the States can compel employers to do what they ought to do.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 29th April (vide page 1235), on motion by Senator McKenna -
That the following paper be printed: -
InternationalAffairs - Statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs, 11th March, 1948.
– In the brief time available to honorable senators to peruse this lengthy and belated statement prepared by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), I have read as much of it as I have been able. I have also listened with interest to this debate, keenly alert to find clear, decisive and definite indications to guide the Government in its future foreign policy. I am very disturbed to find so few of them. The lengthy statement submitted by the Minister for External Affairs can only be described as a review of historical events of the last few years. Although I have searched the statement I can find no declaration of the Government’s foreign policy even for the near future or in relation to our near neighbours. The statement is merely a recapitulation of events of the past few years. Nor, in listening to the statements made by Ministers and honorable senators opposite in this debate have I found much to illuminate my understanding of the future policy of the Government. In this connexion, I quote one Minister who stated -
Time and time again I have seen the arguments put forward by the smaller nations succeed because the meetings are public, and no government can be indifferent to world opinion or to the opinion of its own people.
Obviously, the only way by which the Government can become aware of the opinions of the people is by debate in the Parliament by their elected representatives. Therefore, this debate should indicate to the Government the feelings of the Australian people on this subject. As the Minister so openly advocates public discussion, let us hope that he will live up to his belief and arrange more frequent public discussions on Australia’s foreign policy than have been the rule in the past. As a learned jurist, the Minister for External Affairs must be well acquainted with the satisfactions of the process called “ codification “. In his speech he has indicated several principles guiding Australia’s foreign policy. Those principles permit of interpretations so general and so wide that they are little better than pious hopes. What is wanted is something more concise, more definite and more representative of Australian ideas and ideals. We require a clear-cut, straight forward delineation of our attitude to world problems and to our neighbours.
What is the use of telling us in 1948 that the first meeting of the South Pacific (Commission is to be held soon? This is 1948. Surely, we should be further ahead. What is the Government’s policy with respect to the South Pacific? Has the Minister explained that policy? Have there been any negotiations regarding the future administration of the British Solomons? What is the position of the so-called Anglo-French Condominium? Has this gone for ever? What is to be the future government and administration of the various islands ? It is interesting to note the Minister’s comment that the second point of Australia’s policy is “settlement based upon right and justice and not upon mere expediency or mere strategical preparation for another war “. Does that mean that the necessity for providing for the perimeter defences of Australia will not be overlooked and that our interests in the Solomons and other Pacific Islands, as well as in Cocos Island and Indian Ocean Islands generally will be safeguarded? Frankly, I believe that we are entitled to public debate upon a definite and more earthy plane which would enable us as the elected representatives of the people to indicate to the Minister the opinions of our people upon these and similar questions.
I say plainly that Australia stands for a peace based on broad humanitarianism and completely opposed to the tyrannies, including the tyranny of forced ideologies - a peace that is based upon the four freedoms, the family, the home and good neighbourliness. We want peace, not conflict - a permanent peace and not just an armistice between wars, a peace which will enable us to develop our country and bring up our youth to play their part in building a better world. We, the people of Australia, are tired of disharmony, weary of discordance, and heartily sick of the lust for power. We want a peace in. which we can enjoy freedom and not suffer bondage; we want freedom from despotism and freedom from aggression. Secondly, 1 express emphatically our adherence to the “ good neighbour “ policy, and here, I should like to express my support of certain remarks made last night by Senator Lamp, who spoke of something that has been in my mind for some time. Is it not time that we worked for one common language? One of the greatest contributors to international misunderstanding is the barrier of speech. An outstanding example of international amity in the world to-day is the friendship of the British Empire and the United States of America. I am convinced that one of the great reasons for this friendship is that we speak a common language, and so have access to each other’s literature, including technical publications and journals of all kinds, newspapers, and records of political debates. In short, we understand each other thoroughly. Would it not be grand if the same freedom of exchange of ideas existed between us and other peoples of the world ! Surely, that would reduce the opportunities for misunderstanding which in the past have resulted in war. I urge the Minister for External Affairs to work unceasingly for the development of a common language by the United Nations. In that, I see a glorious opportunity for the promotion of friendship between the nations. The existence of the present differing systems of weights and measures is another artificial barrier between nations, and so I urge the Minister also to fight for a world standard of weights and measures. Teaching children to convert miles into kilometres, long tons into short tons, gallons into litres, and so on, has always seemed to me a waste of time. I am confident that a common language and a universal system of weights and measures would be worthwhile contributions by this generation towards that peace and good neighbourliness to which we all aspire. Let us not forget the importance of the “ good neighbour “ policy.
More able debaters than I in this chamber and in the House of Representatives have expressed abhorrence of the Indonesian trouble, and I shall not prolong the debate upon that matter other than to remind the Senate that the Minister for External Affairs has not mentioned this distasteful episode in the report that we are now discussing. I assure our neighbours that we are interested in their problems; that we are anxious to help them; and that we are prepared to be good neighbours. Let us have a south Pacific committee by all means. We hope that it will meet some day and that it will give to us an opportunity to show our neighbours how keen we are to co-operate with them. I ask the Minister for External Affairs to use his perception, knowledge experience, and wisdom to interpret to the world the Australian ideal of peace, with understanding. He should represent not just the views of the waterside workers, or any other section pf the community, “but the sound common sense of the Australian people as a whole. I hope that after this full discussion on international affairs, the Minister will realize that the task before him is to strive for peace, for better understanding between neighbours, and for a clear-cut definite policy, publicly and fearlessly debated by the most democratic of all organizations, an elected parliament.
– Senator O’sullivan has urged that the people of this country, should be consulted through their elected representatives in this Parliament before any decision is made on foreign policy. That view was supported by Senator Rankin. With due deference to the opinions of those two honorable senators, I should like to point out that the suggestion is not practicable because of the rapidly changing international situation. Nobody knows what will happen in some part of the world, tomorrow, the day after, or next week, and it is necessary that our representative overseas should be given, in effect, a blank cheque to act on these matters as he believes this country should act. I point out, too, that when Australia’s attitude to international problems is enunciated, it is not the personal opinion of the Minister for External Affairs that is being expressed; it is the opinion of cabinet, voiced by the Minister, or by some official of his department.
It is only right that the people of this country should be made aware of the manner in which the time of the House of Representatives has been deliberately wasted by the Opposition parties in recent months. Members of those parties find it more expedient, politically, to indulge in propaganda against the Government than to devote their time to the legitimate business of the Parliament which is the enactment of legislation that is in the interests of the community as a whole. Par from assisting the Government in dealing with international problems, opposition members have employed obstructionist tactics.
Senator O’Sullivan claimed that the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) had supported the Indonesians against the Dutch, and similar allegations have been made by other honorable senators opposite. Australia did not support the Indonesians against the Dutch. When fighting brokeout in Indonesia, Australia brought the conflict to the notice of the Security Council to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. The Australian delegate made no attempt to pre-judge the issues involved. Opposition speakers in this debate have stated that despite the voluminous nature of the document that we are now discussing, it is silent on the Indonesian question ; but I point out that the Minister for External Affairs has made the following statement in regard to that problem: -
The resumption of hostilities was viewed with concern by the Australian Government, which brought the dispute before the United Nations Security Council under Article ?5 of the Charter. The Australian representative on the Council asked that both -parties be instructed to act upon Article 17 of the Linggadjati Agreement, which specifically provided for arbitration by a third party and for reference to the International Court of Justice in the event of failure of arbitration. The Security Council resolved on the 1st August that the situation in Indonesia constituted a threat to the peace and called upon both parties to cease hostilities and settle their dispute by arbitration or other peaceful means. On the 4th August both the Dutch and the Republican authorities ordered their troops to cease fire.
That does not support the charge that Australia has adopted a hostile attitude to the Dutch. It shows clearly that Australia, through its representatives overseas, has endeavoured to maintain the right of the peoples of all nations to determine their own destiny - a principle with which we all agree. The Minister’s statement continues -
The Australian Government took an active part in subsequent discussions in the Security Council on means of bringing’ about a settlement. An Australian proposal for joint United States-Australian arbitration . was followed by a resolution, also introduced by Australia, proposing a commission to report direct to the council on the situation. On the 2S”th August the council approved a resolution proposed jointly by Australia and China for the establishment of a commission consisting of consular officers of member States of the Security Council already at Batavia, to supervise the implementation of the council’s “ cease hostilities “ order of the 1st August.
– Why are we not trading with the Dutch in Indonesia?
– I am not dealing with trade. I am debating a statement on international affairs. Unfortunately, quite a number of honorable senators opposite, in the course of this debate, have departed considerably from the subject-matter under discussion. Senator O’sullivan has alleged that the Minister’s report advances his own personal views rather than those of the Australian people; but I point out that throughout this debate, honorable senators opposite have obviously expressed their own opinions, and have shown little regard for the factual statements contained in the document now before us. The report continues -
After protracted negotiations at Batavia, at Djokjakarta, and aboard, the U.S.S. Renville (which the United States Government had placed at the disposal of the committee as a means of resolving a deadlock on the choice of a venue for the substantive negotia tions), the committee at last succeeded, on 17th January, 1948, in persuading both sides to accept a truce agreement and to agree to certain principles as a basis for the subsequent political and economic discussions.
The more one reads of this factual statement the more evident it becomes that the observations of Opposition members were not based on facts.
On the Indonesian question, I quote another portion of the report -
Meanwhile in Indonesia itself the implementation of the truce agreement has so far been proceeding satisfactorily under the eyes of the deputies of the Committee of Good Offices and their staff of military assistants. Negotiations for a settlement of all outstanding’ matters of substance between the Netherlands and the Republican Government are expected to be resumed as soon as the principal Netherlands negotiator has returned to Batavia from consultations at the Hague.
Is it any wonder that I deplore loose statements made in this chamber? When honorable senators make comments in connexion with such a subject as international affairs, they should confine themselves to the factual statements which have been made available by the Minister for External Affairs following his representation of this country at conferences on those matters. I offer my congratulations to the Minister on the very creditable way in which he disposed of the tremendous task which faced him. Unlike other people, he is not able to sit at his desk in Australia and arrive at decisions on an ideological basis, or put forward some thesis of his own imagination. He has, of necessity, to be au fait with everything that is going on, internationally, at a particular moment. In his capacity as the responsible Minister, he must also be prepared to furnish an impromptu opinion as to what would be suitable to the Australian people in certain circumstances. Let us consider what material exists to guide his determination in that respect. If I am any judge - and I think I am - he takes as his guide the decisions of the United Nations, which both houses of this Parliament have endorsed. So that, in all the international conferences that have taken place since the cessation of hostilities in the recent war, the Minister’s decisions and subsequent actions have been influenced by the decisions and policy of the United Nations.
Honorable senators will, no doubt, recollect that I was in San Francisco in 1945. On that occasion I had the great honour to be present at the preliminary plenary sessions of a body which was destined to become the United Nations, and the remarks of the American President, Mr. Truman, still ring in my ears. Likewise, the remarks of Mr. Stettinius, the then Secretary of State for the United States of America, and of Mr. Anthony Eden, who represented Great Britain, are fresh in my memory, as are also the statements of that grand old man who represented South Africa - General Smuts - many of whose suggestions were accepted by the United Nations and incorporated in the preamble to the constitution of that body. I can also recall the speech of Mr. Molotov, of Russia, who spoke from the dais on that occasion. There was also present, Mr. Frank Forde, an ex-Prime Minister of this country, whose speech was most forceful and constructive. It must be remembered that at that time the guns of war were still belching, people were being killed, aeroplanes were dropping bombs on defenceless cities, and people in many parts of the world did not know what might happen to them next. The Armistice with Germany came about during that conference of the United Nations. All the representatives that I have named, and others, spoke with the utmost sincerity of the pressing, necessity for the establishment of an organization to prevent aggression by any nation in the future, and to bring about a state of international peace and prosperity. It was as a result of the opinions expressed by the representatives of the peace-loving nations at that time that there finally came into being the organization now known as the United Nations, the charter of which we in Australia must stand “ four square “ behind. That was the feeling at a time of war, but now, if we be honest and analytical, we must admit, at least to ourselves, that the desire for universal peace and a better economy throughout the world has, to a degree, diminished. There may be some reason for the differences of opinion to-day between the five great powers to whom the peoples of the world at that time appealed to ensure future peace. I do not. profess to know the reason for the present state of affairs, but I shall make a suggestion as to what may be the cause. Honorable senators will recollect that during the war there was the “ hig three comprising Mr. Winston Churchill, the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Generalissimo Stalin, representatives of Great Britain, the United States of America, and Russia respectively. At that time those three leaders were pulling together; money did not matter; man-power did not matter. What did matter was that the essentials for war were made available to bring about the defeat of the Nazis and the J apanese. But whilst there wa9 that unanimity and co-operation between those three nations, two of them had a secret - the atomic bomb. It is extraordinary that at a time when their nations were still fighting the war, and there was unanimity between those three leaders, two of them were in possession of knowledge which was denied the remaining member. I suggest, therefore, that much of the difficulty that has arisen internationally during the past few years, particularly since the establishment of the United Nations, can be attributed to the possibilities associated with the possession of the secret of the atomic bomb. Possibly that has had the effect of arousing in the minds of the Russian people a suspicion that something may happen, as the years go by, to affect their country. I believe that we are rapidly approaching the time when there will be two clearly defined expressions of opinion. It appears that a determined attempt is being made by the Soviet Union to extend the sphere of its influence in Europe. There have been very interesting developments with regard to the zones of Germany. An “ iron curtain “ has been placed around the Russian zone, the British and American zones have been consolidated and the French zone remains intact. We have read in the newspapers about events in Germany affecting the British occupation forces. Only recently a British aircraft was brought down in the Russian zone and the lives of all of its occupants were lost. We must be realistic and face the facts of the situation. It is useless to try to ignore the possible ambitions of Soviet Russia for world domination. “We have been led to believe, by statements made in this Parliament, that political changes in some European countries, which are now described as “ Soviet-dominated “, have been brought about in order to give effect to the wishes of the people. However, an examination of the factual information contained in the statement of the Minister for External Affairs forces us to the conclusion that the situation in those countries is not exactly as some people would like us to believe. I refer to the Russian bloc in Europe - Yugoslavia, Albania, Roumania, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia.
The Minister for External Affairs has pointed out that the form of government in those countries was altered as the outcome of a series of political treaties of mutual friendship with Russia. Whether those countries have adopted the Soviet ideology and united for the purpose of forming a Russian Hoc in Europe is a matter for conjecture. The fact is that suspicion and doubt have been engendered in the minds of the people of the United States of America, France and Great Britain. I do not want to deal in detail with the economic circumstances involved. I realize that international conflagrations are usually the result of trade disputes arising from the’ desire of one nation to get something owned by another nation. Wars have often resulted from nations adopting the attitude that, if they cannot get what they want by peaceful means, they will take it by force. The rapid sequence of changes in the international sphere in recent months must cause all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations to reflect seriously about the future and to consider what policy should be adopted towards the creation of what appears to be a Russian bloc in Europe. Consider what has happened in Bulgaria. The report by the Minister for External Affairs states that M. Petkov, the Agrarian party leader of the Opposition in the Bulgarian parliament, was condemned to death despite protests from the United States of America and Great Britain. The Bulgarian National Assembly dissolved the Agrarian party, which previously had been the principal political party in the country. Bulgaria has since acquired a new constitution somewhat similar to that of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Even more important is the fact that the new cabinet includes a majority of Communists. My statements do not arise from guess work or imagination. They deal with facts as set out by the Minister for External Affairs. I am merely endeavouring to inform honorable senators of the actual situation in Bulgaria.
– Why was the former premier liquidated?
– I leave that to the honorable senator’s imagination.
– I have a rough idea of the reason. I merely wondered what the honorable senator thought about it.
– I think I have the same idea as Senator O’Sullivan, but I do not want to argue a casus belli and so I leave the reason to the honorable senator’s imagination. What has happened in Roumania recently? It is reported that Great Britain protested against the arrests of many Roumanian citizens who had no political affiliations of any kind. The Roumanian National Assembly was dissolved, and the Communist and Socialist parties combined, under the name of the United Workers’ party, “ for the purpose of maintaining political and ideological unity “. When King Michael abdicated the throne, he declared that he did so on the ground that the institution of monarchy “ no longer corresponded to the conditions of life in Roumania “.
What has happened in Hungary? Earlier in this debate, an honorable sena. tor read a letter which he had received from an important citizen of that country who occupies a position of authority in the health and hygiene service. As I understood the honorable senator’s statement, he considered that, despite recent political changes in Hungary, everything in the country must be all right. However, the ministerial statement which we are considering points out that the Hungarian Small-holders party, which received more than half of the votes cast at the first post-war election, has been reduced in the Parliament to 15 per cent, of the total membership. The Communist party has emerged as the strongest unit. We are also informed that a new electoral law disfranchising 500,000 people has been brought into force in Hungary. Once more, I merely draw the attention of honorable senators to the facts and allow them to draw their own conclusions. I am not prepared to say whether these events in Europe indicate any ulterior motives on the part of Russia. However, I hold the opinion that we, as a part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, must prepare to safeguard our own position in the future. Before I leave this subject, I refer to a journal published in the United States of America under the title Freedom and Union, which describes itself as a “ journal of the world republic “. I understand that this publication is endeavouring to foster the creation of a world parliament.
– It is backed by the super-capitalists.
– That may be so. I do not know who is responsible for its editorial policy. I refer honorable senators to a passage in an article by T. J. B. Hoff, published in Freedom and Union, under the heading “Letter from Norway “. It states -
It is in the name of democracy that Soviet Russia advances westwards, but that means little. It does, however, mean a lot that wherever Soviet Russia comes into power, the result is bondage, lawlessness and unendurable conditions for all who demand respect for the European ideals of justice and culture.
I quote that merely for what it is worth. The statement may be quite incorrect; I am not in a position to judge its accuracy. However, I can declare confidently that, beyond any doubt, the political ideology of another country is having an effect in Australia. We must be prepared to resist the inroads of that ideology.
I agree with other honorable senators on this side of the chamber who have said that the answer to the challenge of this creed is progressive legislation, such as this Government has enacted, for the economic welfare of the people. Such legislation raises an effective barrier against the spread of this foreign ideology. I. have not made these remarks with the object of trying to antagonize Communists. All I want to do is to emphasize the facts contained in the statement of the Minister for External Affairs. I declare to members of the Opposition! that, if any organization in Australia has endeavoured to prevent the upsurgeof communism, it is the Australian Labourparty. It is the only party that has attempted to keep itself free of Communist influence. Every member of theparty has signed a pledge of loyalty and1 a declaration that he does not belong toany other political party, including theCommunist party. Can that be said truthfully of members of the Liberal party and the Australian Country party, or of those people who are trying tomislead the public by means of damnably untruthful advertisements which they publish daily in the newspapers urging our citizens to vote “ No “ at the forthcoming referendum on price and rent controls? The Communists are getting money to carry on their work from somesource. Where is it coming from?
– Russia, I suppose.
– The honorable senator makes that statement very glibly. I believe that I can safely say that many Communists in Australia would not be tolerated in Russia. Furthermore, I believe that Russia would not give them even a half-penny piece. I firmly believe that the money which is forthcoming to maintain that organization is supplied by some of the interests which members of the Opposition represent. I know of two instances in Western Australia of business people making finance available to a certain organization, and that has gone on for years. What is the motive behind it? Obviously, the purpose is to create a division amongst the working classes of this country so that the enemies of those classes may bring about a state of affairs similar to that which existed not so long ago, when an army of unemployed was created whose members were desperately anxious to take the jobs of those who were employed. Frequent mention has been made in the course of this debate of the fact that the growth of communism in Australia is the result mainly of the repressive action taken by anti-Labour governments to discipline what they termed “ recalcitrant “ workers. The only crime of those unfortunates was that they sought a fairer share of the economic loaf than they were receiving. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Mk. de Valera - Treatment of Migrant Children.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- [ express my profound regret that members of the Senate were not given an opportunity to meet Mr. de Valera, who visited Parliament House yesterday. That gentleman is widely regarded as one of the outstanding statesmen of the world. I am not a co-religionist of Mr. de Valera, nor do I share his political beliefs; but, like many other people, I regard him as one of the most courageous public men of our time. The fight which he waged for his beliefs, and those of many other Irishmen, convinces me that he is one of the most sincere men in public life to-day. I thought that the Government would have arranged for members of the Parliament to meet Mr. de Valera at some small function, at which he could have delivered an address so that we might have the benefit of his views. Furthermore, I consider that the least the Government should have done was to invite him to take a seat on the floor of this chamber. I mention my disappointment at the treatment extended to Mr. de Valera and to honorable senators during his short visit, in the hope that members of the Government in this chamber will ensure that in future the Senate will not again be overlooked.
– I rise to correct the false impression which may have been created by the publication in the Australian press of reports which appeared in British newspapers recently to the effect that the British migrant children who recently arrived in this country have not been treated as they should have been. During the recent parliamentary recess I made it my business to visit the places in Western Australia where many of the children are housed and to observe the conditions under which they are living. I also seized the opportunity to converse with as many of the children as possible in order to ascertain their reactions to life in Australia. As a background to my visit, I had the experience gained last September when, as the representative of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell), I met the children who arrived on Asturias and Ormonde. I have much pleasure in informing the Senate that every institution which I visited was a credit to those responsible for the reception and welfare of the children. My favorable impression of the treatment extended to them was strengthened by the conversations which I had with many of the children. On last Sunday, which was Anzac Day, I attended a gathering of Australian and migrant children at Clontarf, one of the institutions in Western Australia in which the- migrant children are housed. That institution has been functioning as a hostel and training centre for migrant children for many years. Of the children who passed through it during the years between the two wars, many saw active service in the recent war, some lost their lives, and one was decorated with the Victoria Cross. The migrant children who are now living at Clontarf entered into the spirit of the Anzac Day celebration and showed themselves to be most receptive of Australian ideals and traditions. The accommodation provided for the children compares more than favorably with that provided in most boarding colleges. The children are thriving on the food supplied to them, and I have had a number of letters from them expressing their appreciation of their new surroundings and the kind treatment extended to them. They have accepted me as a kind of universal aunt, and they welcome visits by people interested in their welfare. I trust that honorable senators will visit them from time to time and display some interest in them. Most of them suffered most serious losses during the war; indeed, every child to whom I spoke had lost either one or both parents in the blitz of London. As war victims, they have a claim upon our sympathy and generosity, and we should do anything that we can to assist them or provide them with opportunities. The people of Western Australia, in whose State most of the children are accommodated, hope that the scheme for the reception and care of migrant children which operates in that State will be adopted by other States.
I desire to refute the suggestion that has been made in some quarters that the children are being trained only for employment as farm labourers and domestic servants. At Clontarf boys’ town, Bindoon farm and trades school, and Tardun I observed the nature of the educational facilities available to tho children. The curriculum is well up to primary school standard, and a sound secondary education is available for any children who desire it. Provision is to be made whereby children who have completed their secondary education can, if they desire, proceed to the universities. Expert instruction is available for those who desire to become farmers, and they will be assisted to acquire their own farms or to take part in schemes of cooperative farm ownership. The girls .are also given a good secondary education, which is of higher standard than that which would be necessary if they were being trained only for domestic service. At the same time, domestic science fills an important part in the curriculum, as it should in all girls’ schools. Already, several of the girls have been transferred from the institutions to hoarding schools because they have displayed particular adaptability for specialized training. Finally, we need have no fear that the children will not make good Australians, because they are being given every encouragement to become good citizens and to take their place in the country which has given refuge to them.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) [12.40]. - I should like to correct the false impression which may have been created by Senator Lamp’s remarks in regard to the visit to Parliament House yesterday of Mr. de Valera. That gentleman was invited to take a seat on the floor of the House of Representatives, and he did so. On behalf of the Senate, I extended - a similar invitation to him, and I was informed by one of the chamber officials that Mr. de Valera would intimate before half-past two o’clock whether or not he would he able to visit the Senate. Mr. de Valera was unable to avail himself of the invitation, extended to him, and therefore 1 deprecate the suggestion that any discourtesy was shown to him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (12).
Senate adjourned at 12.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 April 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1948/19480430_senate_18_197/>.