2 September 1948

18th Parliament · 2nd Session

ThePresident (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.

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Senator AMOUR:

– In the floods which occurred recently in northern New South Wales the water brigades at Grafton and Lismore rendered yeoman service and saved many lives. I was a member of a committee appointed to report on the damage caused by the floods, but as the terms of reference did not permit the committee to vote money for. the purpose of providing new sheds or launches for those brigades I now ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel if he will confer with the Prime Minister, who in turn may approach the Premier of New South Wales, with a view to providing those brigades with funds with which to obtain sheds, boats and other equipment to be used in any future floods:

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

– The honorable senator’s request will be conveyed’ to the Prime Minister.

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Senator LAMP:

– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel undertake to place before Cabinet the desirability of requesting the State governments to bring in legislation to control the distribution of tobacco in each State, so that returned service personnel will obtain a fair share?

Senator ASHLEY:

– I shall comply with the honorable senator’s request, but it is a pity that this matter was not brought forward a little earlier, so that it could have been placed before the Premiers during their recent conference with Commonwealth Ministers.

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Shipments to South Australia,


– Is the Minister for Shipping and Fuel able to confirm published statements that an extra collier has been made available to take coal to South Australia? If so, can he give any indication when that vessel will reach that State.

Senator ASHLEY:

– I am not in a position at the moment to supply the desired information. Prior to his depar- ture for abroad, the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Pl ay ford, protested against the inadequate shipping facilities provided for taking coal to South Australia. The interruption to shipping resulted from the strike by pilots in New South Wales. Some dislocation took place, but I understand that the coal which was lost during that period will be made up. An extra collier is being provided so that there shall be ample shipping available to transport coal to South Australia.

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SenatorO’SULLIVAN.- I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether, as a Brisbane newspaper reported recently, Communist influence is interrupting Australian coastal shipping and causing many merchant marine officers to leave theservice? Is it correct, as a former officer reported, that one Sydney based vessel bad not completed two RockhamptonSydney voyages in the last six months? Does the Minister know that’ every member” ““of the Commonwealth Shipping Service is obliged to join the Merchant -Service Guild of Australasia, in which, it is alleged, there are distinct Communist tendencies 1 Do the guild’s aims and objects, to which every member must adhere, include a ban on private Ownership of .land? ‘ Senator’ ASHLEY. - The honorable senator has referred, to allegations published in the Brisbane press. I am not prepared’ to discuss allegations made in a newspaper. The honorable senator will admit that such reports are not always correct. ‘ If he will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall endeavour to obtain the information he desires.

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– In the absenceof: the Minister for Trade and Customs, I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether he ‘ has seen a statement which appeared in the Perth Sunday Times recently regarding the importation from Great Britain of butterscotch which is made entirely from dairy butter, sugar and glucose? As that article points out that the rationing pf butter in Australia is being continued in order to assist the British people, can the Minister explain why confectionery manufacturers in Great Britain are permitted to export sweets to Australia and thereby compete with local production? Senator ASHLEY. - I have not seen the statement to which the honorable senator has referred. I understand that confectionery, including chocolates, is being imported into Australia, and possibly some of it is manufactured from ingredients which are obtained from Australia by Great Britain and are sorely needed in that country. . However, such a position would be explained largely by Britain’s present economic position; and I do not think that we shall assist in any way by criticizing the exportation of such goods from .Great Britain to Australia.

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The , PRESIDENT.- I have received letters from the Leader, of the Senate and from the Acting Leader of the’ Opposition in the Senate, nominating, in accordance with Standing Order 36a, Senators Arnold, Cooke, Katz and Nash, and Senators Cooper, O’sullivan and Rankin, respectively, as members of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.

Motion (by Senator ASHLEY’ - by leave -agreed to- ‘

That a. Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances be appointed, to consist of Senators Arnold, Cooke, Cooper, .Katz, Nash, O’sullivan and Rankin, .such senators having, been du]; nominated- in accordance . with the provisions of Standing Order 36a.

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– Pursuant to Standing Order 38, I hereby appoint the following senators to be the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications: - Senator R. E. Clothier, Senator W. J.

Cooper, Senator J. Harris,- Senator T. M. Nicholls, Senator S. W. O’flaherty, Senator N. O’sullivan, and Senator A. J. M. Rankin

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– Pursuant to Standing’ Order 28a, I lay on the table my warrant nominating Senator S. K. Amour, Senator J. J. Arnold, Senator W. E. Aylett, and Senator R. H.Nash a panel- to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees if absent.

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– I -ask ‘the

Minister representing ‘ the Treasurer whether, in view of the approach’ of the summer months, he will favorably consider the remission of sales tax on ice, particularly as this charge bears heavily upon persons in the lower income groups who cannot afford refrigerators?

Senator ASHLEY:

-Consideration ‘ is now being ‘given -to the reduction of sales tax on certain items. I assume that’ there will. not he any danger in announcing that ice is being considered in that respect, because I do not think that anybody will be storing that commodity. I snail bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Treasurer, and furnish him with a complete reply.

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Senator AYLETT:

– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel make a statement on the petrol ration reductions that will come into force shortly? In order that the general public may appreciate fully the necessity for these reductions, [ suggest to the Minister the advisability of amplifying the press reports that have already been published. Senator ASHLEY -If it is the desire of honorable senators, I shall make a statement on the petrol position at an early date.

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) - by leave - agreed to -

That, during the unavoidable absence of the Deputy President, the President be authorized to call upon any one of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees to relieve him temporarily in the Chair, without any formal communicat ion to the Senate.

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Senator ASHLEY:
Minister for Shipping and Fuel · New South Wales · ALP

by leave. - As most honorable senators are probably aware, the Attorney-General and Minister for External Affairs (.Dr. Evatt) and the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator Armstrong) are absent abroad on official missions. For the information of honorable senators who may not be aware of the arrangements made, T now inform the Senate that the Minister for Health and Minister for Social Services (Senator McKenna) is Acting Attorney-General and the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is acting as Minister for External Affairs until Dr Evatt’s return to Australia. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) is acting as Minister for Supply and Development during the absence abroad of Senator Armstrong. I am representing the Acting Minister for Supply and Development in the Senate.

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -

That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered, he Wednesday,

Thursday and Friday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and 10.30 a.m. on Friday.

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -

That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the Whole Senate, bie suspended from 12.45 p.m. to 2.15 p.m., and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -

That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, at 3.45 p.m. on Fridays the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate; if the Senate be in committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question - That he do leave the Chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate: Provided that if the Senate or the committee he in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of al such adjournment it shall appear on the notice-paper for the next sitting day.

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -

That on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper, except questions and formal motions, and except that general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays, after 8 p.m.; and that, unless otherwise ordered, general orders if the day take precedence of general notices of notion on alternate Thursdays.

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Motions (by Senator Ashley) agreed to-

Standing Orders Committee

That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Cooper, Critchley.

Devlin, Harris, O’sullivan, Rankin and Sandford, with power to act during recess, and to confer with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.

LIBRARY Committee.

That a Library Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators Arnold, Cooke, Cooper, O’sullivan, Rankin and Tangney, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.

House Committee

That a House Committee be appointed, to consist of- the President, Senators Amour, Aylett, Cooper, Fraser, O’sullivan and Rankin, with power to act during recess, and to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.

Printing Committee

That a Printing Committee bc appointed, In consist of Senators Beerworth, Cooper, O’Byrne, O’sullivan, Rankin, Sandford and Ward, with power to confer or sit as a joint committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.

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Senator O’BYRNE:

– I move -

That the following Address-in-Reply be agreed to: -

To His Excellency the Governor-General - May it please Your Excellency:

We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

I am fully appreciative of the great honour that has been bestowed upon me by the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), and I am deeply mindful of the privilege it Ls to move the Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral at the opening of Parliament yesterday. It is with the highest sense of pride that I submit this motion because this is the second time in the history of the Commonwealth that an Australian-born citizen has held the exalted position of Governor-General and has fulfilled, with great credit, courtesy and efficiency, the responsibility of representing His Majesty the King in this very important unit of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

Australians generally will deplore the ignorance .displayed and will bitterly resent the offensiveness of the headings, in some of the newspapers on this occasion. “ McKell Opens Parliament “, they have printed! That is not merely an insult to His Excellency; it also shows great disrespect to His Majesty, whom the GovernorGeneral was representing at this national and official ceremony. It is typical of the gross disservice to Australia for which sections of the press are responsible in destroying respect for great national institutions and constituted authority. This motion expressing loyalty has even more than its usual significance because of the impending visit to Australia of Their Majesties the King and Queen and the Princess Margaret. All Australians are looking forward with the greatest joy to the day when, for the first time in the history of our country, a reigning British monarch will set foot on our soil. Australians send their affectionate greetings to Their Majesties, and will show them by the warmth of their welcome the strength of the bonds which unite Great Britain and Australia. Those bonds have gained tensility and strength inside the framework of the British Commonwealth of Nations. I endorse the sentiments of His Excellency, and I hope that the stay of Their Majesties will be a very happy one.

The proposal to make a gift of £A.10,000,000 to the Government of the United Kingdom is a gesture of goodwill towards a great people, who showed us their essence in those fateful days of 1940-41, when they stood alone against the forces of fascism. During that time I was in England as a member of a fighter squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force, and I can speak with first-hand experience of the great example set by every member of the Royal Family to the stout-hearted British people in their hour of trial. That spirit of Dunkirk will, I am sure, bring them through the great crisis which England is at present experiencing.

His Excellency the Governor-General referred to the obligation which we have accepted to make a large contribution towards the defence of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific. The expenditure of £250,000,000, which is involved in the five-year defence programme, is a substantial attempt to ease the burden which has been borne by Great Britain for so long.

I listened with particular interest to His Excellency’s reference to the Government’s policy in regard to immigration. The Government is to be highly commended for its noble and ambitious plans to populate this country. The original target of 70,000 migrants a year will be exceeded next year, and the increased shipping tonnage available will enable us to obtain even greater numbers of migrants amongst allied ex-servicemen in the United States of America, displaced persons in Europe, and our own kinsfolk in the United Kingdom. Wherever one travels - from Hobart to Cairns or from Sydney to Fremantle - the cry heard everywhere is one of shortage of labour. The Government’s carefully planned and efficiently organized migration scheme is the cornerstone on which Australia’s great new future is to be built. The establishment of reception and training centres to give those less fortunate people who have been uprooted from their homes and families a new start in life is a fine act of statesmanship. Those new Australians are of the highest calibre, and I am confident that all fair-minded Australians will assist in their rapid assimilation in the certain knowledge that they will soon be woven into our social pattern, which will become a democracy in its best form.

His Excellency the Governor-General referred to the development of civil aviation, and Australia can certainly be proud of the position that its airways and air services occupy in comparison with those in other parts of the world. With the exception of the United States of America, we have in this country the finest internal airline service in the world. Our international airlines are second to none for safety, speed and efficiency. The aircraft manufacturing industry of this country deserves a tribute for the wonderful contributions it has made to the development of aircraft design. Our scientists, who are doing their utmost to perfect the technique of “ all-weather “ flying, deserve a special tribute. The Government has played its part in writing one of the proudest chapters in the history of the development of civil aviation, and it is sparing no effort to ensure that the industry in Australia will develop even more rapidly in the future. The expansion of civil aviation since 1939 has been remarkable. In that year 15,000,000 passenger miles were flown in this country, but to-day it is estimated that more than 30 times that distance is flown annually.

One of the achievements that will go down in the history of Australia is the r.e-establishment in civil life of the men and women who served this country in the armed services during the war. The Government’s plan is being executed most satisfactorily. To give some conception of the magnitude of the scheme, I mention that more than 1,300,000 exservicemen and women have been assisted to reestablish themselves. Provision of training facilities, allowances and advances to acquire businesses, and the acquisition of land for settlement by ex-servicemen have cost £45,000,000. The Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme has partially or fully trained 25,000 men and women, and that number will be increased by many thousands as trainees complete their courses in universities and technical colleges. This scheme is the greatest experiment in adult education ever attempted in this country, and I Should like to see it extended in the future to cover civilians who would be capable of benefiting by it to the same degree as our ex-service personnel have done.

The war service land settlement scheme will come into full operation during the coming year. Already it can be said that the groundwork of acquiring, developing, improving and subdividing suitable land that will assure. a decent living for ex-servicemen has been efficiently carried out. The policy of the Government to proceed, cautiously in such matters as land settlement was shaped by the lessons learned from the first world war. The people would never forgive the Government if the tragic mistakes associated with soldier settlement after World War I. were repeated. Just as failure accompanied the first attempt at soldier land settlement, so I am confident that success will crown the present war service land settlement scheme.

In the field of repatriation inestimable benefits have been conferred on ex-service personnel by the granting of business and re-establishment loans totalling £4,269,550, the issue of tools of trade to the value of £1,610,233, as well as furniture grants and medical treatment for widows and children. A further £6,879,554 has been expended on repatriation hospitals, out-patients’ clinics, sanatoriums, mental institutions, and artificial limb factories. The annual liability of the Government for war pensions alone is £16,000,000. As His Excellency mentioned, the Government proposes to introduce legislation to increase war pensions and service pensions besides increasing the rate of payment in respect of social services.

For several years it has been the Government’s policy to make the benefits of higher education available more easily to all persons in the community and to expand educational and research facilities. Substantial progress is being made in the establishment of the Australian National University at Canberra. This new institution will be a most important addition to the existing structure of university education in Australia, and will provide facilities equal to, or better than, those available in any other country ‘ for advanced research work and higher studies in medicine, physical and social sciences and Pacific matters. Australia has a special responsibility for the advancement of knowledge in these fields. The plans made by the interim council of the university are well advanced; they have been the subject of intensive discussions with leading world authorities who have recently visited Australia.

In 1947-4S, .the value of Australia’s exports reached the record high level of £411,000,000, exceeding the previous record by over £100,000,000. That highly satisfactory achievement was mainly due to high world prices, particularly for wool, wheat and metals, and to increased production of important export commodities. Plans have been evolved and developed with the object of ensuring stability in many agricultural industries, thereby protecting the interests of producers. The outlook for agricultural production during the next twelve months is most promising. The Commonwealth guarantees returns to dairyfarmers and provides a substantial grant annually to promote efficiency in the dairying industry. In the broader field of agriculture, the Government is taking an active interest in such problems as soil conservation, fodder conservation and irrigation development. It is fully aware of the importance of primary products in maintaining a stable economy. I earnestly appeal to every man on the land, regardless of his political beliefs, ta’ help Australia to make its full contribution to the feeding of a hungry world.

His Excellency told us of the Government’s plan to introduce during this session legislation to provide for a largescale attack on the scourge of tuberculosis. Under existing legislation, the States are granted subsidies to improve diagnostic and after-care facilities, and alleviate the economic plight of sufferers from this disease. Commonwealth and State Ministers have now agreed upon a general plan which involves provision by the Commonwealth of funds for new buildings and a substantial contribution towards additional maintenance costs. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Act came into operation on the 1st June. Under this scheme provision has been made for free medicine for the people, particularly the aged and invalids, but unfortunately that wonderful benefit has not yet been passed on to them. I sincerely hope that the British Medical Association will co-operate fully in this social service ‘ scheme in the near future, and so relieve those who are entitled to the benefits provided by the act of the burden of the cost of expensive medicines which they need to restore them to health. The diagnostic service of the Commonwealth health laboratories is being expanded and additional medical officers are being trained in pathology, and bio-chemistry. New laboratories will be opened this year at Albury and Wollongong in New South “Wales, and in Victoria. It is expected that a further three laboratories will be opened in 1949. Production of penicillin at the Commonwealth serum laboratories continues in increased quantities and B.C.G. vaccine for use against tuberculosis will also be manufactured.

The Industrial “Welfare Division of the Department of Labour and National Service is concerned with raising the standards of working conditions in industry, and is an advisory and reference authority to which employers may turn on matters of personal practice, physical working conditions and industrial food services. Research work has been carried out in the field of natural lighting and ventilation of factories. During the past twelve months over 500 firms have been assisted with advice in the designing and equipping of kitchens, cafeterias, staff training and operational methods.

Of particular interest to Tasmania, is the project for the production of aluminium. The Australian Aluminium Production Commission has completed its surveys of known bauxite deposits in Australia, and now controls mining titles of 6,000,000 tons of ore of grades suitable for the production of aluminium. A site for the erection of a plant has been selected at Native Point on the East Tamar river, near Launceston, and tenders have been called for the alumina section of the work. The Tasmanian Hydro Electric Commission, which will supply the large quantity of power necessary for the industry, has also advanced its plans for the commencement of its part of the project. The increasing demands of local industries and the shortage of ingot supplies of aluminium within the sterling area warrant the local production of this metal.

Despite the many post-war problems confronting the building industry, the Australian housing programme is well established and the present output of houses is greater than in 1939; 40,000 houses out of 50,000 that were under construction last year were completed.

The activities of the Government which I have mentioned do not nearly cover the whole field, but even those that I have touched on should make every Australian feel proud to be the inheritor of such a great country. In spite of the bitterness that is engendered by continuous attacks on the Australian Government by sections of the press and the radio of this country in an organized attempt to vilify and defame the Administration, its actions speak much louder than do any words that they may use. Recently the electors of Tasmania gave their reply to the tory press, even though many newspapers descended to the lowest depths in their efforts to delude the people of that State. Australia can justifiably be proud of the good judgment of the Tasmanian people, as I certainly am. In these days of crises, we must bear in mind that progress cannot be stopped. The policy of those who would turn the clock back to prewar days would inevitably result in the conditions that make for depressions and war. If we would build a strong united Commonwealth we must not waste our substance in destructive channels, but must always choose the way that is constructive. Therein lies the hope of Australia and of the British Commonwealth.

Since the commencement of the first period of the present Parliament, the great conception of the British Commonwealth has been brought a step nearer to fruition by the inclusion of the self-governing and independent dominions of India and Pakistan. I take this opportunity to express my satisfaction with this progressive step which I hope will be a precedent in the work of uniting peoples of all colours and creeds in a world-wide co-operative commonwealth. Man has within his power to-day the means of raising the standard of living of all people to a degree undreamt of by past generations. I commend the United Nations organization for the splendid work it has performed. The noble ideate of the United Nations are a guiding light for all nations and an inspiration to those who believe that it is possible to banish poverty and its natural corollary, war, from this planet. The successes of the United Nations organization during the short period of its existence far outweigh its failures. The very fact that it has had failures proves that it has not lost the common touch. When the history of our time is written, it will show that the mediation in disputes such »s occurred in Indonesia, and latterly in Palestine, in which the fate of millions of people was involved, justified the existence of the organization. Australia has played its part in lending the fullest support to the United Nations and its related organizations.

We are pledged to take an active part in every field that will encourage and improve international relations. This is possible only when the economic welfare of all peoples throughout the world is aided by a progressive policy of full employment and social security and the political and economic development of small and dependent States. The Government’s policy is quite clear; it has been repeatedly stated by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). We support the principles expressed in the United Nations Charter without fear or favour to any country or group of countries. We transpose our traditional beliefs and convictions from the national to the international plane by insisting that all international disputes be independently investigated with a view to settlement by arbitration and conciliation based upon moral right and justice. The late President Roosevelt, in the last speech which he wrote on the eve on his death but never delivered, made one of his most profound observations when he said -

To-day we are faced with the pre-eminent fact that if civilization is to survive we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of peoples of all kinds to live together and to work together in the same world at peace.

This is the path that cuts across petty domestic political quarrels and nationalistic rivalries of international financiers and of belligerent and aggressive warmongers. This is the path of peace that transcends what is mean and evil and elevates mankind to that which is great and good. I repeat the message of His Excellency the Governor-General in his request that all Australians play their part worthily in the great work that is ahead of us in Australia to develop our wonderful heritage. The policy outlined in the speech will contribute much to Australia as a nation; and as a partner in the British Commonwealth, Australia, too, expects each one to do his duty. I have much pleasure in moving the AddressinReply .

Senator COOKE:
Western Australia

– In seconding the AddressinReply, I congratulate Senator O’Byrne upon the excellence of the speech he has just made. I join with him in express ing appreciation and pleasure at the announcement made by His Excellency the Governor-General that His Majesty, accompanied by Her Majesty and the Princess Margaret, will visit this country early next year. I have no doubt that the announcement will give great pleasure to our people who appreciate the high qualities of our Monarch and his family.

Senator O’Byrne referred to many aspects of the Governor-General’s Speech, which touched upon nearly every feature of our national life. I am proud that the honour of delivering the Speech on this occasion fell to an Australian who has done so much for Australia. The Speech set out a policy of which, I believe, he, as well as we, can be proud as the programme for the second session of the Eighteenth Parliament. It is clear that the Government hae given careful consideration to every phase of Australia’s advancement and development, our national economy, social services and the protection of the nation. I endorse Senator O’Byrne’s emphasis upon the need to> maintain world peace. The Australian Labour party abhors war, and the Government will do all in its power to maintain peace. However, we realize that apart from the contributions that Australia has already made for that purpose, the best guarantee of peace is sound defence; and the Government has not neglected that principle. We must beable to make whatever contribution the United Nations organization or theBritish Commonwealth of Nations, may expect from us, and it is necessary for us to show that our strength is sufficient for that purpose. The broad objectives of the Government’s post-war defence policy and programme are the provision of such forces as will enable Australia to fulfil its obligations under the United Nations Charter, including those in respect of regional arrangements in the Pacific, participation in the defence of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and provision for the inherent right ofindividual self-defence. The Government’s allocation for defence for the next five years amounts to £250,000,000. This sum will provide a balanced scheme of defence covering naval, army and air forces, defence research and development, and munitions and supplies in proper proportions within the limits-of our available resources which can be devoted to this purpose. The programme gives practical and substantial effect to the acceptance by Australia of a larger contribution towards the defence of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific and will relieve Great Britain to a corresponding degree of the great burden which the Mother Country has carried in the past. The need for improved machinery for co-operation in British Commonwealth defence has been recognized, and the Government’s defence programme has been balanced in full co-operation with New Zealand and the other dominions. To achieve a balanced defence policy it is necessary to ensure proper co-ordination of the navy, army and air forces, the supply organization and the civil economy which supports the direct military effort. The defence machinery must provide for the co-ordination of these as integral parts of national defence policy, and the resulting plans are embodied in the Commonwealth War Booh and departmental war books. The machinery for the remainder of the subjects covered by the Commonwealth War Book, such as the allocation of man-power resources, will be set up and working within the next few months.

I believe that the science of war is changing. The defence policy of this Government is that we must be in full marching order with the most advanced weapons of defence, that we must maintain a nucleus of well-trained personnel that will keep this country abreast of defence developments and enable us rapidly to expand our forces if and when it is necessary for us to declare ourselves, always with the objective of maintaining democracy and peace. The Australian Military Forces, which are a component of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force operating in Japan, has a total strength of about 2,500 men, together with the necessary administrative auxiliary divisions. When I visited Japan recently I felt very proud of the bearing, manner and efficiency of our troops in that country. I was not at all influenced by the murmurings which arose in this country, but decided to reserve my decision on the matter until I had actually seen those sons of Australia operating for the first time in our history as an occupational force in a foreign country. The Americans have paid high compliments to members of the Australian occupation force, and I can assure the Senate that their bearing, efficiency, and general conduct is of a standard of which we may all be proud. Unfortunately in repeated scurrilous and vicious attacks, the press of this country has done a great injury to these boys and to their relatives. These attacks are completely without foundation. I understand that they have been made by journalists of poor repute whose sole concern has been their linage. This has resulted in the publication of articles detrimental, not only to the Australian troops themselves, but also to Australia as a nation. Against these filthy and unwarranted attacks the Australian lads in Japan have had no opportunity to defend themselves. That is not Australian decency. I believe that not only this Parliament, but also the people of the Commonwealth should take the matter up. I found in Japan splendid young men representing their country in a foreign land in the most adverse circumstances. They assumed their duties in Japan when everything had been destroyed, and they did not know what to expect, but they have maintained a standard of discipline and behaviour equal to that of our fighting forces in wartime. General MacArthur has paid a glowing tribute to our troops. He said that although he had been associated with five occupations, he had never seen troops of a higher standard, of a better carriage, or of a better moral outlook than the Australian occupation troops in Japan. He believed them to be equal to the Aus.tralian troops in war. They were magnificent. We can rest assured therefore that our forces have upheld the prestige of this country in Japan. Unfortunately it has been the will of the Australian press to defame our troops, and, in so doing, it has defamed this nation. I am confident that the defence of the Commonwealth is in good hands, and that the Government’s programme is adequate. Every care has been taken by those responsible to ensure efficiency.

During the last session of the Parliament a measure was passed to establish a pensions scheme for members of the permanent Naval, Military, and Air Forces of the Commonwealth. During my contact with defence personnel, I found that officers and men alike were grateful to the Government for having provided something which they had considered necessary for many years.

The Governor-General spoke of migration, and this subject was again touched upon to-day by Senator O’Byrne. The Australian Government’s migration objectives are ambitious, but I believe that they will be achieved. It is essential that we should, to the utmost of our resources, pursue our efforts to locate and bring to this country suitable migrants. In the Pacific, Australia is a European nation surrounded by many millions of coloured peoples. Increased population is necessary for the development of this country, and the Government’s proposal to bring to Australia 70,000 selected migrants each year will be a valuable contribution to this end. So far, the Government’s migration policy has been carried out well, and I am confident that it will be pursued in the future to the benefit of the nation as a whole.

I come now to civil aviation. Returning from Japan recently I travelled by Qantas Empire Airways, and I found that Australian civil aviation services were spoken of highly outside of the Commonwealth. Americans who inspected the Constellation aircraft used on Australian overseas services said that the standard of comfort and service was as high as that observed on any other international line, including even the American services. Australian domestic air services have expanded greatly in recent years. In 1939, our domestic airlines boasted a total of 15,000,000 passenger miles - less than one-thirtieth qf the total to-day. In the same year freight carried totalled 330 tons, compared with more than 22,000 tons a year being carried at present.

Perhaps the most extraordinary example of enterprise in Australian aviation is the rise of Trans-Australia Airlines. In September, 1946, this newly formed government airline began its first interim service between Melbourne and Sydney. By the end of that year, the

Trans-Australia Airlines network covered six States, and within two years of the establishment of the organization, its planes had carried 500,000 passengers and its total route mileage had reached 8,812’ - the greatest in Australia. To-day,. Trans-Australia Airlines is recognized as one of the great airlines of the world,, offering a service which is not surpassed anywhere. Trans-Australia Airlines isnow taking delivery of Convair liners,, which are the most up-to-date aircraft, available for inter-capital air routes. Control of an industry expanding so rapidly as is civil aviation in this country imposes heavy responsibilities on the authorities charged with the -task of ensuring its orderly development, especially as the enforcement of hundreds of safety regulations is a matter of life itself. The Department of Civil Aviation haskept pace with the rest of the industry and has adapted itself rapidly tothe changed conditions. In some respects, it has led the way. Much of the groundwork is designed to cater for future needs,, and will not bear fruit for some years. To enable the department’s organization to be decentralized, regional offices are being set up in each capital city. When this organization is complete, only important policy matters will have to he referred to the head office.

Much painstaking work has been put into the re-writing of air navigation regulations and the laying down of strict standards for air crews and ground staffs. The department has undertaken the periodical examination of all pilots through the agency of check pilots, specially trained in the latest technique of air navigation. Millions of pounds have been spent on new airports- in every State, both in capital cities and at country centres. New communications systems have been installed, and new radio aids to aerial navigation provided. Direct radio communication channels have been opened with improved staging points throughout Australia and better communications for aircraft in flight have been provided. The department has cooperated with the Radio Physics Division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to develop rad’ar devices that will bring new and improved standards of safety and regularity to our air- lines. The department is planning to install within the next two years 90 distancemeasuring beacons covering more than 2,000,000 square miles of territory. These will enable pilots of almost all aircraft anywhere in Australia to know their exact position along the air route they are following. Australia is the first country in the world to adopt standard distance-measuring equipment. The- department has two special branches concerned solely with the study and prevention of accidents. The Chief Inspector of Accident Investigations and his staff of experts make a thorough investigation of every serious accident in the Commonwealth and their ‘recommendations are framed to avoid a recurrence of similar mishaps. The Superintendent of Accident Studies deals mainly with minor incidents which may indicate potential hazards. The department is more concerned with preventing accidents before they happen than in determining the cause after the event. It will be seen, therefore, that in the development of civil aviation under government control in this country the application of the resources of science and industry to the provision of security aids has enabled Australia to offer safer airline services than in any other country. It is to the credit of the Government and will be to the continued credit of the nation that such airlines operate in Australia.

In the field of education, the Government’s policy has been and will be to make the benefits of higher education available to all persons in the community. The Commonwealth has paid more than 800,000 in subsidies to meet additional running costs of the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme and has expended over £1,000,000 to provide new university buildings and equipment. The Government has continued a scheme, begun during the war, to give financial assistance to selected students of high ability who would have difficulty in financing their own university studies. In 1 947, 2,000 students were assisted at a cost of over £217,000. The Government has also assisted universities to train research workers and to carry out basic research work in physical and social sciences. The grant for this purpose was recently increased to £82,000 a year. The Govern ment is also taking an active part in the work, of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, of which Australia is a foundation member. As a point of interest, I point out that members of the Australian parliamentary delegation which recently visited Japan were approached by representatives of Japanese universities and educational committees who were anxious to learn about the United Nations higher educational and industrial research plan. They hoped that the Japanese nation would be convinced of the value of being accepted into the ranks of the United Nations and would learn to appreciate fully the great benefits bestowed by education upon democratic civilized countries.

In the field of labour relations, the Government has made valuable amendments to our industrial conciliation and arbitration law. I consider that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act as it now stands is a great piece of legislation which will be effective in maintaining peace in industry by providing for conciliation instead of arbitration wherever possible. If both employers and employees contribute to the successful operation of this law, it will prove to be perhaps the best industrial - arbitration machinery in the world. The desire of the Government is to maintain industrial peace at all times. Its policy - a very sound one - is never to interfere in industrial disputes of any kind but to leave the just settlement of such matters to an authority having proper legal standing. The Government has provided the legal machinery and the employers and employees are now charged with the responsibility of using it to the best advantage. If they do so, we shall have continued industrial peace and progress in Australia. The Government has also declared its intention to amend the Commonwealth Workmen’s Compensation Act. I believe that the amending bill will make our legislation in this field superior to that of any other country. It will make provision for the payment of £1,000 plus £50 for each child, to the dependants of any worker killed at his job. It will also make generous provisions for the protection of workers in industry and will contribute greatly to their economic stability. The employment position in Australia to-day is highly satisfactory. Up to the present, the Commonwealth Employment Service has placed 348,000 persons in employment. The number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefits in June, 1948, was only 1,838. That is a gratifying achievement, particularly when we recall the days when 250,000 persons in Australia were looking for work. I consider that the Government has placed before us a very commendable programme of work for the second session of the Eighteenth Parliament.

Debate (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) adjourned.

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -

That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Senator LAMP:

.- 1 sincerely regret that it was necessary for me to place upon the notice-paper this afternoon a number of questions in regard to housing conditions in Tasmania. For a long time I have been very dissatisfied with the administration of the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement in Tasmania by the Agricultural Bank. Before I left Tasmania to attend this session I declared my intention to ask a number of questions regarding the housing activities of the Agricultural Bank. The State Minister in control of housing thereupon made a statement to the press that I had an ulterior motive. So far, that ulterior motive has not been brought forward. Perhaps the motive which he suggested may be found in the fact that I have a worthy brother, who lives at S2 Main-road, Moonah, Hobart, and has been trying unsuccessfully to obtain a house. Jack Lamp applied for a house in June, 1943. That application was allowed to lapse. He did not proceed with it because he thought that he had no chance of getting a house. However, when the Commonwealth came into the field under the CommonwealthState Housing Agreement, he decided to renew his application and did so in January, 1947. The Agricultural Bank thereupon agreed to take into consideration the period for which the first application was in force. Therefore, his present application is of three years’ standing. There is something very wrong with the housing agreement if a person cannot get a house within three years. Our worthy Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) said only yesterday, “ The future of Australia depends upon those people who raise large families “. My brother is an invalid pensioner who worked in the mines on the west coast of Tasmania. Ho has reared “a family of twelve. Four of his sons are living with him now, so that six members of the family are living in three rooms. I have taken other members of Parliament to look at the house and they have agreed with me that the conditions under which the family live are deplorable. I have repeatedly endeavoured to convince the Agricultural Bank of the necessity for providing my brother with a house. This is the latest reply that I have received from the bank -

There is no prospect of an early allotment owing to a greater degree of need of other applicants and particularly those with younger children.

A greater need than that of a man who has reared a family of twelve and has four sons at home with him now must be dire indeed. I say that if a man has done justice to the country, as my brother has done, he is deserving of some consideration. I question the truth of the statement that priority is given to people with young families because I know of at least one family with seven or eight children which is still in temporary accommodation in Brighton Camp. This family has been waiting for a house for two years. Another family in the northern part of Tasmania, which includes eight or nine children, has also been waiting for a very considerable time. The Agricultural Bank states in its note that it gives priority to people who have children to maintain, but that statement does not accord with my experience. Not long ago I was inspecting factories at Derwent Park with a Tasmanian Minister. A man, who was either a’ manager or a foreman at one of the factories there, came to us and complained that he could not get a house, whereupon the Minister said, “ We ought to be able to get one for you “. Since then it has been admitted’ that eight or nine people who were brought from Victoria and other States to manage factories in Tasmania have been given houses in preference to Tasmanians who were waiting. Tasmanian people badly’ require’ houses, and the policy which should be applied in determining eligibility for houses is that those with the greatest number of children ure in the greatest need. I am seeking to ascertain how many children each of the factory managers to’ whom houses have been allocated has in his family.

An even more serious criticism which can be made of the Agricultural Bank is that it has advised applicants for homes to break up their families by sending their sons to board. If it is good enough for Tasmanian home-seekers to break up their families in that way, then it is good enough for the imported factory managers, who can afford to obtain accommodation at even the most luxurious hotels, to do likewise. The attitude adopted by the Agricultural Bank in this matter is most callous.

A great many people are aware that I was until a short time ago the president of the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Labour party. In my capacity as president I had brought to my notice certain confidential information regarding the allocation of houses in that State. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose that information, but I hope that it will become public through some other source. The Tasmanian Minister for Housing alleged that when I raised this matter I was prompted to do so by an ulterior motive, but the fact is that I have previously explained to the Tasmanian authorities that I have no objection whatever to the allocation of homes on a family basis. The Prime Minister has declared that to be the proper policy to be followed, and Tasmanian people are satisfied that that policy is just. However, I insist that the. policy be implemented by the Tasmanian authorities, and it is my duty to ensure, so far as I can, that justice is done to home-seekers. Apparently I committed a grievous offence in Tasmania by saying that the Minister was inexperienced, and that he took more notice of the officers of his department than of his friends in the Australian Labour party. In reply, he contended that his view was more representative of the Tasmanian people than mine, because at the last elections I -gained only 7,000 votes throughout the whole of Tasmania, whereas, at the last Slate elections, he gained 4,000 votes in the electorate of Darwin alone. I think that such a contention amply demonstrates that the Minister is politically inexperienced. If he had -had a little more experience of politics he certainly would not attempt to use electoral statistics to support his argument. Apparently he overlooks the fact that at the elections he had the benefit of the assistance of his able ‘ and energetic brother, who is a senator, otherwise he would probably not have been elected. He also forgot to mention that throughout the last Commonwealth election campaign I did not do any campaigning at all. As honorable senators on this side of the chamber are aware, I was in hospital throughout that campaign, and I was so ill that I am lucky to be alive now. Nevertheless, the fact remains that I was the second senator to be declared elected for Tasmania, and I was declared elected even before the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna), who is one of the most able Ministers ever to be drawn from that State.

Senator ASHLEY:
New South WalesMinister for Shipping and Fuel · ALP

- in reply. - I point out to Senator Lamp that the only control which the Australian Government can legally exercise over housing in the several States is that conferred on it by the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States under which the Commonwealth undertakes to provide certain finance for housing schemes. The’ honorable senator’s corn.plaint will be brought to the notice of the Government of Tasmania, ‘ and I shall endeavour to obtain a reply for him. ‘

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The following papers were pre sented:- . Commonwealth Public Service Act- Appointments - Department of Supply and Development - J: J. E. Glover, D. Johnstone.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Defence purposes - Brighton, South Australia.

Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Mascot, NewSouth Wales.

Department of Supply and Development purposes - H dra, Queensland. .

Postal purposes -

Glen Osmond, South Australia, - - Palm Beach, New South Wales.

National Debt Sinking Fund Act - National Debt Commission - Twenty-fifth Annual Report, for year 1947-48.

Postmaster-General’s Department - Thirtyseventh AnnualReport, for year 1946-47.

Senate adjourned at 4.11 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 2 September 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.