16 September 1948

18th Parliament · 2nd Session

The-President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Blown) took the chair. at3 p.m. and read prayers

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Senator LAMP:

– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate whether large stocks of tea and sago are held by the Indonesians in Java? If so, he say whether arrangements can be made for those stocks to be made available to Australia?

Minister for Trade and Customs · QUEENSLAND · ALP

– I have no information that large stocks of tea and sago are held in Java, but I shall have inquiries made as to the position. The matter of securing supplies of tea for Australia is a difficult one and I doubt very much whether a large quantity of tea is available as suggested. I shall advise the Senate in due course of the result of my inquiries.

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– In view of the message from Paris reported in this morning’s press, will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs inform the Senate - 1. Whether Mr. Beasley’s telegram to the Four Power Conference, requesting that Australia’s views be heard upon the future o’f the Italian colonies, was sent with the knowledge and approval of the Australian Government? 2. What are the views of the Government on this subject? 3. Will those views be expressed by the High Commissioner in London, or by the Attorney-General ? :Senator McKENNA. - I have no personal ‘knowledge of the matter raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, but t shall inquire ‘as to the facts. Reports in the press are not necessarily always accurate, I should imagine that as the “Minister for External Affairs is abroad attending to matters of great moment to this country, representations would normally be made by him, and not through the High Commissioner. If there are any special circumstances warranting the latter course being followed, I shall advise the honorable senator of them.

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

– The honorable senator brought this matter to my notice some days ago, and I have since obtained the following answer from the Minister for Transport: -

Following the recent meeting of Premiers in Canberra, a conference took place between the Prime Minister, the Commonwealth Minister for Transport, the Premier of Western Australia, the Minister for Housing, forests and Native Affairs, acting on behalf of the Minister for Railways, who was absent on account of ill health, and a number of technical officers of both the State and .the Commonwealth. The discussion centred around the findings of a recent inquiry conducted by the Western Australian Government into the railways of that State, and the inability of that State to carry out the work recommended to put the railway system into a safe working condition, from its own resources. The Commonwealth recognizes the need to assist Western Australia, otherwise there could be a complete breakdown of the railway system, which would have serious national consequences. However, the Commonwealth considered that it would ‘be wasteful to undertake such extensive railway work without embodying it in a scheme to standardize the gauge. Discussions have not reached finality, but following consideration of points raised it is proposed to have further talks, when it is hoped something definite :can be finalized.

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Frequency Modulation

Senator CAMERON:
PostmasterGeneral · Victoria · ALP

by leave - I desire to make the following statement in compliance with the request made by Senator Rankin ‘regarding frequency modulation broadcasting. I welcome the opportunity to do so because of the interest of honorable senators generally in the matter, and to outline as briefly as possible the developments .which have already taken place in connexion with frequency modulation broadcasting in Australia and’ ‘the way in which ;the Government proposes to establish ‘and. expand frequency modulation ‘services.

First, I should like to explain that frequency modulation, or P.M., as it is generally described, is a modern process df broadcasting in the very high frequency band. The present system of broadcasting in the medium wave band is known as amplitude modulation, or A.M. The number of stations which can transmit on the medium frequency band allotted to Australia without interfering seriously with each other is limited ; only 107 channels are available, but already there are 136 amplitude modulation stations, that is 34 national and 102 commercial stations, and additional national stations must be provided to meet the requirements of listeners in country areas.

In order to enable more broadcasting stations to be established, it is necessary to use a new band of frequencies. The only frequencies available are in the very high baud and are very suitable for local reception and do not suffer from long-range interference. It so happens that the best system of modulation for these very high frequency stations is that known as frequency modulation, just as the best system for the medium wave band is amplitude modulation. Disregarding technical distinctions, the main difference between frequency modulation and amplitude modulation broadcasting is that frequency modulation transmissions take place at very high frequencies outside the tuning range of existing amplitude modulation receivers and necessitate a special way of modulating the carrier wave. The main advantages of the frequency modulation system are that a station using frequency modulation in the very high frequency band and operating in conjunction with suitably designed receivers is less subject to radio inductive interference than is an amplitude modulation station; frequency modulation broadcasting is not, however, entirely free from such interference ; it is capable of laying down a signal which is substantially steady day and night in contrast to the fading distortion and variable signals which occur towards the outskirts of the service area of a standard band station due to ionospheric effects. Fading can occur, however, in a very high frequency service area, although it is not common. It is also capable of being planned in a system in such a way that more stations can work effectively on a given number of channels than in the standard amplitude modulation band. Moreover, it is capable of giving improved reproduction compared with the standard band amplitude modulation system.

On the other hand, there are certain disadvantages associated with a station using frequency modulation in the very high frequency band, namely, the necessity for transmitting equipment different from that used on the standard amplitude modulation band ; the need for listeners to purchase new receivers or tuners to enable amplitude modulation sets to receive frequency-modulation programmes; the cost of receiving equipment designed to take full advantage of the properties of frequency modulation which is substantially greater than the cost of receiving equipment commonly used for amplitude modulation reception; and the smaller good service area covered by a frequency modulation station, compared with the area over which a standard band amplitude-modulation station can be heard, admitting, of course, that the amplitude modulation service is of relatively poor quality at great distances from the transmitter. Other problems for listeners include the fact that, in certain circumstances, the aerial system assumes greater importance than in the case of an amplitude modulation set, and the tuning of the receiver is different from the tuning of amplitude modulation sets to which so many people are accustomed. Frequency modulation broadcasting has made great strides in the United States of America, where 500 stations have been established and more than 700 additional stations are to be erected or installed in the near future. In Canada and the United Kingdom the frequency modulation system is being introduced, and there is every indication that, within the next few years, frequency modulation, which represents the latest technique in broadcasting, will increase rapidly.

Recognizing that advantage must be taken of all modern developments, the Government appointed a Cabinet subcommittee to consider frequency modulation and other aspects of broadcasting, and the Postal Department was directed to establish experimental frequency modulation stations in each of the State capital cities. Stations have been erected in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide and the trials have been most helpful. Last year, the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs, Mr. Panning, and other officers of the Australian Postal Department visited the United Kingdom and North America, as members of a delegation to important international telecommunication conferences. They were requested to study at first hand developments in the broadcasting field, with particular reference to frequency modulation and television. Upon his return to Australia, Mr. Panning submitted a comprehensive report dealing with frequency modulation and this received the most careful consideration by the Cabinet subcommittee which presented certain proposals to the Government. The proposals have been examined carefully and critically by the Government, which has approved of the gradual introduction of a frequency modulation broadcasting service in Australia on the following lines : -

  1. That frequency modulation broadcasting be introduced gradually into the national broadcasting service in Australia.
  2. That in the State capital cities the frequency modulation system be introduced as early as practicable, the amplitude modulation service to be retained also for so long as may be necessary.
  3. That in country districts the frequency modulation system be utilized where it is technically practicable and advantageous to listeners, and that the amplitude modulation service also be retained and extended where necessary.
  4. That a fundamental plan be prepared by the Postal Department for the introduction of the frequency modulation system into the national broadcasting service, provision being made in such plan for channels for the national broadcasting service in State capital cities and selected country centres to enable frequency modulation programmes to be radi ated and also provide for special services, such as parliamentary debates and school broadcasts.
  5. That, as a preliminary step in connexion with the preparation of the fundamental plan, the Postal Department should consult the various manufacturing interests concerned in the broadcasting industry with a view to ensuring the smooth introduction of the frequency modulation service.
  6. That tests of frequency modulation broadcasting from the experimental stations set up by the Postal Department in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, be continued, and that similar stations be established in the other State capital cities as soon as possible; also that these transmitters shall regularly broadcast national broadcasting service programmes.

Quite apart from the advantages of frequency modulation compared with amplitude modulation from the standpoint of reception, the incorporation of frequency modulation in the Australian broadcasting service is essential and inevitable, having regard to the limited number of amplitude modulation channels available and the large number of stations which are necessary to cater for reasonable public requirements in a satisfactory and economical manner. It may be said that the time is inopportune to introduce the frequency modulation system when materials and skilled labour are in short supply and the Postal Department is confronted with a huge programme of urgent works for the purpose of rehabilitating its postal and telecommunication facilities and restoring services to a high standard of efficiency. It is a bare statement of truth, however, to say that without frequency modulation stations the broadcasting system cannot be developed and expanded to the requisite degree and that any delay in inaugurating a frequency modulation service would be seriously detrimental to the interests of the community. Fears have ‘been expressed in some quarters that the frequency modulation system would involve the purchase by the majority of listeners of new- receiving sets, but I should like to emphasize that the development of frequency modulation broadcasting will proceed on a gradual and’ orderly basis a3 a supplementary service to the existing system and that a service incorporating both amplitude modulation and frequency modulation stations will have to be maintained for some time to come. Irrespective of the. types of receivers possessed by listeners or the kind they desire to buy at present, listeners can purchase models now available without any fear that they will become obsolete in the course of the next few years. Ifr can .be assumed that tuners, which will permit- frequency modulation programmes to be received on amplitude modulation receivers, will be available at a relatively low cost to those who wish to receive- both types- of programmes.. In statements which have appeared in a section of the daily press, the claim has been- made that “ freedom of the air is just as important to democracy as freedom of the press “ and that, freedom of the air means- that the entire radio resources of Australia should, be permitted to share in- progress “. An impartial consideration, of the nature of broadcasting, however, must inevitably to the. conclusion, that such, a claim, is i unsound. All countries recognize the principle of the public domain of the air waves, and all broadcasting is a. public, service since it uses the limited frequencies available, which are. part? of the. national domain. Freedom of. the. press; and freedom of the: air are not the same.. Tj; normal times any one who has the. money can start, a- newspaper, but only a-, limited number of people have- the opportunity to use the. limited, number of radio, frequencies available. Ai newspaperowner is not using public- property, but. a-, radio station operator, is. There ar.e very rigid technical barriers to the granting. of unlimited broadcasting licences, and it is> mainly owing to these natural restrictions; that the nations of the world have- been compelled to unite in formulating a- plan, by mutual consent under which the best conditions maybe established throughout the world. Broadcasting, does not exist, for- sectional: purposes; it is essentially a- public utility service which should. make- its appeal in one form or another to- every member of the community. For this service to retain its value as a great national asset, it must be controlled’ in an effective manner in regard to both the use of frequency channels- and the broadcasting of highly controversial matters which might separate and embitter the community. As I have explained, the Government has decided to incorporate frequency modulation in the national broadcasting service1. It is- considered to be in the best interest of the public that there should be government control, through the agency of the national broad1 casting service, over this new form of broadcasting. Much of” the criticism that has- been levelled’ against the Government is without a sound foundation, This matter has received very careful’ consideration by the Government, which- has approached it in a practical manner The decision reached has-, been based’ on the interests of the general’ community, with a- full recognition of the-need* for expanding the- broadcasting service of’ Australia in an orderly way, not only in the densely settled areas, but also in outlying districts where it is not. practicable tpi provide a satisfactory service with amplitude modulation stations. As the Minister charged with the- control of the Postal Department, which has been given certain powers by the National Parliament in connexion with the control of broadcasting- in Australia, I can’ assure honorable senators- that the department will press on with the establishment of frequency modulation stations in accordance with the decision reached by the Government. Before: formulating, a fundamental plan covering the national broadcasting service as: a whole, it will confer with manufacturing interests in the-broadcasting, industry, with whom it is desired to co-operate to the. fullest, possible degree.

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Senator LAMP:

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

What amount is paid annually for’ rent of Government offices in each. State 7 ‘

Minister for Trade and Customs · QUEENSLAND · ALP

– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer : -

The amount paid for rent by the Department of the Interior for the financial year 1947-48 was as follows: -

The estimated amount to be paid for the year 1948-49 is -

The amounts of £777,241 and £676,976 cover office accommodation and, in respect of certain departments, such charges as rental ofstorage space &c.

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Broadcasting Services

Senator RANKIN:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. What loss was incurred by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in the technical operations for the national broadcasting services for the year ended 30th June,. 1947?
  2. How is thisloss met? Is it provided from profits made from mail, telephone and telegraph services?
  3. Is this loss additional to the loss made by, the Australian Broadcasting Commission? what is the total of the two losses for the year ended 30th June, 1947?
Senator CAMERON:

– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. The post office proportion of the receipts from listeners’ licence-fees is paid to Consolidated Revenue whilst the funds neces- sary for the technical operation of the national broadcasting services are provided annually as an appropriation of the Consolidated Revenue Fund. For the year ended 30th June, 1947, there was an excess of expenditure amounting to £335,735.

  1. The difference between the total expen- diture by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the provision of programme services; &c, and its proportion of receipts from listeners licence-fees and other receipts during the year ended 30th June, 1947, amount to £239,254, of which £222,889 was made good to the commission by Parliament in 1946-47 through the votes of the Post Office and the remaining £16,305 in 1947-48 through the same source. The amount of £222,889 is included in the figure of £335,735 referred to in the answer to items 1 and 2 of this question.
Senator RANKIN:

asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -

  1. Is it correct that in a recent allocation of wave lengths (or frequencies) the PostmasterGeneral’s Departmenthas indicated the provision of some twenty or more new national stations ? 2: What is the estimated capital cost of these stations ?
  2. Whatis the total estimated operating cost of these stations ?
  3. Have tenders been called for any of the buildings, aerials and transmitters for these stations; if so, have any been accepted?
  4. From what source is the money to be secured? Is it the intention to divert still more money from mail, telephone and telegraph profits, or is it to be loan money?
  5. Is the increasing drain on the PostmasterGeneral’s revenue by these broadcasting activities one of the reasons for maintaining the high scale for postal services?
Senator CAMERON:

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

  1. Provision has been made inthe frequency plan for twenty additional national stations, one of which (2NU Manilla) is almost completed and will commence service in October, 1948.
  2. £500,000.

3: £75,000 per annum.

  1. Yes. Tenders have been called for (a) three buildings, (6) four aerials, (c) ten transmitters. Tenders have been accepted for (a) three buildings, (b) one aerial, (c) ten transmitters.
  2. Funds for these stations are appropriated by Parliament in the annual estimates of expenditure. To date the expenditure has been met from Consolidated Revenue .
  3. The scale of charges for postal services is not influenced by any losses or profits from the operation ofthe national broadcasting service.

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Formal Termination

Senator RANKIN:

asked the Minister representing the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -

  1. Is it a fact that Australia isstill officially at war with Austria, whilst Britain, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa are not?
  2. If so, can the Minister give any indication when Australia is likely to take similar reasonable action?
Senator McKENNA:
Minister for Health · TASMANIA · ALP

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

  1. Yes.
  2. The necessary formal steps are being taken and the termination of the state of war with Austria will be effected at an early date.

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Debate resumed from the loth September (vide page 414), on motion by Senator Ashley -

That the following papers be printed: -

Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending the 30th June, 1949.

The Budget 1948-49 - Papers presented by theRight Honorable J. B. Chifley, M.P., on the occasion of the Budget of 1948-49.

South Australia

– I join with the honorable senators who have spoken before me, in complimenting the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) on being able to present a budget of this description to Parliament, and to the taxpayers of Australia. It is all the more remarkable when we examine the troubled position of the world to-day. During the war years, burdens and restrictions had to be imposed upon the people of this country in order that we could successfully prosecute this war. Although to-day Australia is free, and is the most independent country in the world to-day, we must not lose sight of the fact that, despite the outcry from almost every section of the people for relief from imposts, this Labour Government has remained adamant in its determination to see that its responsibilities to the nation shall be discharged. No section of the community is able to hurl innuendoes at this Government such us were directed at the Australian Government which was in office after World War I. I commend the Government for the manner in which it has managed and controlled the affairs of this country. I am sure that the results which have been achieved will be the envy of every country in the world where responsible government exists.

It would have been easy for the Treasurer to yield to the popular and natural clamour for relief from restrictions which the Government found necessary to impose upon the Australian people. Our political opponents lost no opportunity to stress the alleged hardships that this Government was continuing to impose upon the Australian people. During the period of war, when our very lives were at stake, there was none of that sort of argument from the Opposition or from the capitalistic press, and I venture to say that, in spite of all that has happened and everything that this Government has been forced to do in order to preserve Australia, by and large the people of this country have never been in a better position than they are in to-day. That is something of which we can be proud, and for which we should be highly grateful, when we observe the troubles existing to-day in so many other countries. Despite the burdens which our people shouldered under war-time taxation, the difficulties inherent in restrictions, and the loss of Australian live during the war, this country is now ina very fortunate position.

Although in some instances reduction of taxes already effected have not been as great as one would like - and to that degree, perhaps, I fall into line with the popular clamour - the reductions as a whole represent substantial relief to the community. Many people are prone to under-estimate the measure of relief already afforded by the Government through reductions of taxes and, therefore. I propose to refresh the minds of the Senate in that respect. The Government has consistently followed the policy outlined by the Prime Minister that it would reduce taxes when circumstances permitted to a degree that would avoid dislocation of the national economy. Since hostilities ceased, reductions of taxes of various forms have amounted to £110,850,000. That is an outstanding achievement. However. not very much publicity has been given to it. Since the 1st January, 1946, taxes have been reduced on three occasions. As at that date, tax rates were reducedby121/2 per cent., representing a total cost in revenue to the Government of £20,000,000. As from the 1st July. 1946, a further reduction was made involving a loss of revenue of £17,500,000; and the third reduction was made as from the 1st July, 1947, at a cost of revenue to the Government of £33,000,000. The last-mentioned sum included £11,500,000 representing concessional deductions in respect of dependants. The reduction of taxes now proposed will involve a further loss of revenue amounting to £26,000,000. Including the deductions now proposed, the Government has reduced taxes in the aggregate by £96,500,000 since the 1st January, 1946, Of course, many will say that that is not sufficient. In order to appreciate fully the value of these concessions, one needs only to compare our economic position to-day, three years after the last war, with that existing three years after World War I. On this basis the Government can claim to have profited by the mistakes made by governments which were in office during World War I. Under these proposals the majority of taxpayers will pay less than half the tax which they would have paid in respect of corresponding incomes prior to 1938-39, whilst the majority of taxpayers with dependants will be still better off. On the basis of war-time tax rates, reductions of taxes range from 100 per cent, in respect of persons with dependants on the lower ranges of income to from 25 per cent, to 30 per cent, in respect of persons on the higher ranges of income. For instance, a man with a wife and two children, having an income of £6 a week would have paid a pre-war tax of 4 in the State which imposed the lowest rate of income tax, whereas under the Government’s proposals, a person in that category will not pay either income tax or social service contribution. A man with a wife and two children who lived in the State which imposed the highest rate of income tax in 1938-39 may now earn up to £11 10s. a week and still pay less tax than he would then have paid in combined Commonwealth and State tax on an income of £6 a week. Those examples are illuminating. They give the lie direct to the statements made by people who constantly attach the Government for purely political motives with the object of capitalizing the unpopularity of taxation in any form whatever. Whilst the

Government has given this very substantial relief to the taxpayers, the position of Australia to-day is the envy of other countries. Our people enjoy a higher standard of living and greater prosperity.

Unfortunately many of our people are extremely parochial. Only in times of crisis, or national danger, such as a war or a depression, do they show any willingness to co-operate with the National Government. That is a great shame. We emerged from the two world wars with a truly national outlook, but that change, unfortunately, was only temporary. This parochialism is evident, not only as between the States and the Commonwealth, but also between parts of States, and it behoves us to do what we can to counteract that outlook. I shall refer first to transport, provision for which in its various forms, is made in the budget. One of the greatest disadvantages under which our road transport system functions, is the lack of uniformity in the road transport legislation of the various States and of the Commonwealth. Each of the six States has its own regulations, and in Commonwealth territories a seventh sei applies. A function of this National Parliament should be to co-ordinate transport legislation throughout the Commonwealth. The sooner that is done the more rapid will be the development of this country.

Almost since federation, a controversy has existed amongst the people of the Northern Territory, South Australia, Queensland, and Western Australia, regarding the construction of the northsouth railway line. I agree wholeheartedly with a statement made by the Director-General of Rail Standardization, Sir Harold Clapp, regarding the vital role of rail transport in the defence of the Commonwealth. It is quite wrong to view the danger of invasion through the glasses of 30 or 40 years ago. To-day, for war or defence, distance means practically nothing. Sir Harold was right when he said that whilst he hoped that the need to defend this country against an invader would never again arise, one project which would contribute more than any other to our security would be the standardization of our railway gauges.

I have -heard ^questions asked “frequently about the latest developments in the standardization proposals and my South Australian colleagues, and I are sufficiently parochial .to want to know w.hat progress has been made under the agreement entered into some years ago by South Australia and the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, due to differences of opinion amongst the States, the project appears to be no further advanced than it was twenty years ago. At present, the operation of railway lines in various parts of .the Commonwealth is costing the Australian Government substantial sums of money. Co-ordination of rail transport would eliminate over-lapping and ease the burden upon taxpayers. A new form of road transport is appearing in the Northern Territory, the northern portions of ‘South Australia, and in some of the remote districts in the other States. Some honorable senators may have seen a picture which appeared in the daily press a “few weeks ago of a stock road train consisting of two large trailers. This vehicle, the largest of its kind in the Commonwealth, was shown passing through Bordertown on its way to Alice Springs. The train is 135 feet long and can carry 80 head of cattle or 200 sheep, at ‘.twenty miles an hour. It is powered by a diesel engine developing 200 horsepower. Although this form of transport may operate without hindrance to traffic in the outback districts, how will the ordinary motorist fare if such vehicles appear .on our highways in large numbers? Again I urge upon the Government the necessity to have uniform road transport regulations throughout the Commonwealth so that our highways may be safe, for travellers. I do not condemn stock-owners for utilizing road trains. I should not like to be misunderstood on that point. Our railways rendered wonderful service in the developmental years of this country but to-day rail transport has, to some degree at least, outlived its usefulness. One can understand primary producers seeking to move with the times and to preserve as far as possible, the market value of their produce ; but this a national problem which should be tackled by the National Parliament.

I am pleased to see provision made in the budget for the Australian shipbuilding industry. The lack of interstate shipping is one of the most serious disabilities besetting this country to-day. I -read a report in the press recently that a ship had travelled from Great Britain to Australia via South Africa in ballast. “We realize that home requirements prevent the people of Great Britain from exporting as many of their products as they may desire, but it seems an unnecessary waste that a ship should travel 11,000 miles without a cargo. This ‘vessel, I understand, came to Australia to load wheat which is sorely needed in Great Britain. With primary production in Australia at record proportions, and secondary industries developing in a manner unparalleled in any other country, the time is long overdue for the Australian Government to take steps to ensure that modern ships shall be available to transport Australian goods to .overseas destinations. Australia’s rapid development in recent years has been due largely to the energetic manner in which the Australian Government has fostered our secondary industries. I do not deny the States the credit that is due to them in this connexion and I have no wish to deprive the Liberal Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, of any kudos for the development that has taken place in that State, but the fact remains that secondary industries generally throughout the Commonwealth have :been given substantial financial assistance by the Australian Government.

I ‘make these proposals in regard to transport because I appreciate the complications and dangers arising from the present system of overlapping and outmoded administrations. Under this wornout system the dangers -to road users is constantly increasing, because, in spite of the shortages of new motor vehicles, there are -more registered motor car and truck owners in Australia to-day than ever before. This increase is all to the good in one respect, but it also has an important hearing on the shortage of -petrol and other fuels. The Government, and the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), in particular, have been assailed on account of the shortage of petroleum products. The continually increasing number of ‘registered motor vehicles in every State adds to the already severe, strain imposed upon: our. depleted reserves- of petrol. Imagine1 what would, happen, if motor vehicle registrations continued to increase at the rate of 2,000 a month in each State. If the average ration of petrol for each vehicle were ten gallons monthly - many owners to-day receive twice or. three times as much as that: - the demand upon our petrol pool could not be met. Motorists and other petrol users should give serious, thought to the situation and pay more heed to the oft-expressed warnings of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel. “Who’ amongst us would have forecast a few years ago that the position would become so alarming as that which the Minister disclosed to the Senate last” week? He informed us that the United States of America, formerly a considerable exporter r>f petrol, had become a large scale importer. Such a state of affairs would have been scarcely conceivable to the average Australian citizen who enjoyed the freedom of our open spaces in the days before the shortages occasioned by war. The imposition of petrol rationing was regarded as a terrible- hardship. The Minister also informed us last week that the closing of the Haifa pipe line had diminished the world petrol supply by 4,000,000 tons per annum. In fairness to the Government and to ourselves, we should not lose sight of those important facts. Every new motor vehicle registration means an additional drain upon our petrol reserves. Many of us are not sufficiently concerned with the seriousness of the situation.

I shall now make- some observations a rising from a tour of Queensland which 1 made a few weeks ago with a delegation from this Parliament. I take the opportunity to thank both this Government and the Government of Queensland for making my visit to the northern-. State possible. The tour, was extremely educational and I now appreciate why thousands of young southerners who were stationed at military establishments in various parts of Queensland during the war have returned to their home States full of praise and admiration for the Queensland people. After travelling extensively through the State I can readily understand their feelings. However I am afraid that the spirit: of parochialism, which. I mentioned: earlier; is: no: less evident, in Queensland than in other-‘ States. Of course, the average southerner, who,hai not had an opportunity to tour the continent, usually has only a vague’ idea of the vast distances of our northern areas. Also, it is a fact that residents of Queensland, the Northern Territory, and the north-western areas: of Western Australia, realize more keenly than their fellow Australians what a “ narrow shave “ we had during the war. Throughout our northern areas, there are still signs- of the preparations that were made to defend Australia against an imminent attack by an enemy who was only a very short distance away from our shores. What interested me most in Queensland was the number and variety of the forms of production in that State. It seems to me that not one avenue of production is foreign to Queensland. So many and various are the opportunities for development of that State that I believe that the time is fast approaching when it will have to call upon the National Government for assistance in exploiting its rich potentialities. The wealth of the State is particularly evident in the coastal regions and on the tablelands. Australia is blessed because, around its coast, except for strips on the shores of the Great Australian. Bight and along the Western Australian coast, there is an area about 200 miles wide which is a veritable paradise awaiting development. The resources of Queensland seem to be unlimited.

I’ desire- to say something with regard to the sugar industry in Queensland.. For many years before I entered the Parliament I read with interest the reports of the debates of the Parliament and the accounts in the press of- the clamour raised by sugar-growers that the industry should be placed upon a proper basis. The Queensland Minister who was in charge of our party, and the other Queenslanders who accompanied us, lost no time in acquainting us with the ramifications of tHe industry. No doubt, they indulged in the cynical hope that when we returned to the south- we would dispel the illusion that people engaged in the sugar’ industry in Queensland simply have to knock down the dry cane, split it open and let the refined’ sugar pour forth. Of. course; that is a1 gross exaggeration of the view taken by the majority of the people in the southern States, and, in any event, residents of the southern States could rightly accuse Queenslanders of making similar exaggerated statements in regard to industries conducted in the south. Be that as it may, it is clear that the sugar industry in Queensland has had a hard, long and laborious struggle to attain to its present position. Even the most unreceptive could not fail to realize the magnitude of the development which has taken place, or to appreciate the paramount importance to Australia of the sugar industry. At the risk of offending Australians who criticize the Queensland sugar-growers, and complain that fortunes are made in sugar-growing, I point out that sugar is a very necessary commodity to all Australians, and that the sugar grown in Queensland is sold in this country at a price lower than in any other country in the world. I certainly do not criticize people engaged in the industry for the strenuous efforts which they have made to ensure that they get a fair return for their labour.

Queensland’s timber resources are truly remarkable, and have to be seen to be believed. Unfortunately, we did not have sufficient time to ascertain from the Queensland Government what it intends :o do in regard to legislation to provide for reafforestation in areas that are not used to promote closer settlement or to foster development. All those who are interested in timber, including persons engaged in the timber industry in other States that are not so well endowed as Queensland, would do well to make a visit and see for themselves the natural timbers of Queensland, which are the envy of the world. I understand that timber-buyers from almost every country in the world, including Canada, have visited Queensland since the recent war for the purpose of purchasing some of its beautiful timbers. “Whilst the sale of Queensland timbers to other countries may be a valuable source of income to Australia, it would be a tragic error if Queensland were to neglect the prior claims of other Australian States to purchase its timber for home-building and other necessary purposes. I consider that the National Parliament is under an obligation, not only to Queensland, but also to the rest of Australia, to assist the Queensland Government to conserve for all time its invaluable timber resources.

The coal resources of Queensland are unbelievably rich. In South Australia and other southern States we have experienced shortages of commodities and materials for our secondary industries for so long that it is somewhat difficult for us to view in a proper light the Queensland Government’s project for the development of its coal resources. I was told that in almost any part of Queensland coal of first-grade quality can be won without much effort, and the development which has taken place at the open-cut mine at. Blair Athol is truly remarkable. The Government of Queensland should receive some assistance from the National Government to enable it to exploit adequately its great coal deposits. On my return to South Australia I spoke to the Premier of that State and told him of what I had seen. As many honorablesenators are aware, we have in South Australia a substantial deposit of coal shale. However, that deposit is situated nearly 400 miles from Adelaide, and long haulage is required to bring the coal won to the metropolitan area. The Government of South Australia has received financial assistance from the National Government to defray the heavy expense involved, and had it not been for the coal produced in South Australia the State’s economy would have been destroyed. The fact remains, however, that production of coal in such an expensive fashion is economically unsound. Although the deposits of coal in Queensland appear to be almost unlimited the costs entailed in hauling the coal won at Blair Athol to Mackay, or to some other port on the Queensland coast, are considerable, and 1 consider the provision of financial assistance to the Queensland Government to assist in meeting those costs should be regarded as a national obligation. I do not know just what progress has been made by the National and Queensland Governments to devise means of transporting the coal won at Blair Athol to the coast, but I think that both governments should co-operate in order to introduce. as soon as possible, an adequate system of transport to the coast and to provide proper port facilities for the coal to be shipped to the south.

I was also greatly impressed by the progress and potentialities of the tobacco industry. In frankness, I should state that before I went to Queensland, and even after I returned, I made careful research in order to ascertain what I could concerning the prospects of the industry I’n Queensland. When we were at Mareeba, which is situated on the tableland, I had the good fortune to meet a man with whom I had had some acquaintance in South Australia many years before. Some years ago he and his family left South Australia and went to Queensland, where he has engaged in tobacco-growing. This man was able to give me some interesting information regarding the development of the industry in Queensland. We also inspected various phases of the industry at Mareeba, where the growers, who comprise men of many nationalities, have banded themselves into a co-operative concern, and I know that I am voicing the opinion of all members of the party when I say that I was amazed at the development which had taken place. If ony the growers could get the governmental assistance which they deserve they would certainly be on the high road to success. We examined many specimens of the tobacco leaf grown at Mareeba, and we saw the various phases of its manufacture into smoking tobacco. We were all greatly impressed by the cleanliness and the modern aspect of the entire plant. Not only did we all admire the quality of the leaf grown, but we found, to our astonishment, that the smoking mixture into which the leaf is manufactured is so similar to the best Virginian tobacco that we could easily have mistaken it for imported tobacco. Nevertheless the growers have not achieved anything like the success which they deserve, but whether or not their failure to do so is attributable to the attitude of the National Government I do not know. The fact remains that those engaged in the industry are not reaping a reward comparable with that obtained by tobacco-growers in other parts of the world. I propose to read a few extracts from an interesting document which I received from the tobacco-grower at Mareeba to whom I have referred. The document states -

The crop held up as a fair average quality all round in every pound can be manufactured into a top-price smoke or smokes. The owner of the leaf would have been satisfied with 2s. Od. per lb. average. What he was offered was ls. 8d. per lb. average, which is just impossible to produce at this price.

The British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited have an officer there. The crop is displayed as one would see wool at a wool sale. A “ hand “ of tobacco is extracted, and if one leaf is split - as is very often done by the appraiser, for valuation purposes - the leaf is described and counted as inferior, with consequential loss to the grower. In one instance, men who have been engaged in the industry for many years valued the leaf within 3d. each way of 32d. per lb., yet the representative who was appraising that tobacco valued it at. only 15d. per lb. So pronounced are those unfair methods of appraisement that many tobacco-growers contemplated withdrawing from the industry. I am glad to be able to inform the Senate that thi* Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) told me. this morning that there had been some adjustment of that valuation.

Whilst I do not want to do the tobacco combines an injustice, the fact remains that, owing to the dollar position, American exports of tobacco leaf ‘.o England have dropped by 35 per cent. In Rhodesia also, the British- Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited and W. D. and H. 0. Wills Limited have interests. It has been claimed by many people who are more informed on the subject than I am that, because of the restriction on the American exportation of tobacco to England, those companies fear that unless they can get a further “ strangle-hold “ on Australian leaf, their lucrative businesses will diminish. I hope that is not so. The average Australian grower, with an Australian outlook, would hate to think that the British-Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, or any other combine, would not hesitate to drive him out of the industry in order to preserve its own interests. It would be most unfortunate if any of those men were forced out of the business and .the tobacco industry was allowed to lapse.

I have mentioned these things because I believe that, because of the limitations imposed by the Constitution we cannot progress as we desired, or as the framers of the Constitution hoped. I realize that the suggestion that I am about to make, and which appears to me to be the only successful way to alter the position, will perhaps fall on deaf ears. I contend that, in the interests of Australia, something should be done to amend the Constitution. Whenever this Government has endeavoured to do something which would be in the interests of the wheatproducers of this country it has encountered opposition, not only from the wheatgrowers, but also from vested interests and political opponents. Despite the many warnings given by this Government regarding conditions overseas, it was not until a fall of prices in the international sphere became fairly obvious that any attempt was made by the States, or the wheat-growers, to do something for themselves. In South Australia the lot of the wheat-grower has always been a worry to the government of the State. On nearly every occasion that an Australian government has asked the people for an increase of power in order to govern this country, the referendum has been defeated. That fact is borne out by a recently published summary .of the result of referendums conducted between 1903 and 1946. I shall not weary the Senate with figures, but they prove conclusively the unwillingness of the people of this country to extend permanently the constitutional powers of the Australian Government - an extension which was readily given in war-time. There is no valid reason why these matters should not receive the calm consideration which they deserve by every member .of this Parliament, now that the battle of the rents and prices referendum has ended and the political .seas are calm again. I see no escape from the conclusion that sooner -or later - perhaps sooner than we imagine, .because of the severe limitation .placed upon the governing powers of this National Parliament - we shall again be forced to approach the people by means of ;a .referendum. That applies to whatever government .may .be An power at ;the time. £The figures furnished in the (summary :reveal a .sorry picture of the unwillingness of .the Australian electors, a3 the result of a spate of propaganda from vested interests of the parkin opposition to alter the Constitution.

It would be idle to hope that this Government could escape criticism for ifr handling of repatriation problems, but most of the criticism has been political I say that with a due sense of responsibility. Despite the outbursts that are so frequently heard, and adverse pres.1 criticism of the activities of this Labour Government on behalf of ex-service meL and women, I doubt very much whether there is a parliament anywhere else in th* world which contains so many exservicemen as this one does. Some of its. mem bers have given years of service to th<Empire, at the cost of .great family sacrifices. I should like to have see] bigger increases in service pensions announced in the .budget. It is poor comfort to say that the present rates of pensions are more liberal :than .those .granted after World War I.

I especially d,r-aw the attention of honorable senators to the plight of many ex-service personnel “who are suffering from war neurosis. No doubt all honorable senators have had the experience of being confronted by the dependants .of such people, and at times the individuals themselves. From .reports furnished by expert medical officers who have .attended to ex-service personnel suffering from wai neurosis it would appear that in many cases the illness of these unfortunates will be of long duration. During the last session of the Parliament provision wasmade ‘for .the ‘construction of suitable premises for .them, and I trust that such work shall be proceeded with as expeditiously as possible. The victims of war neurosis .are burdened with that disability as the result ‘of service given to their country, and suitable institutions should be provided for them as early as possible. They are deserving of .better treatment from the nation. I know that .the Government is doing all it -can to liberalize medical and :hospital benefits for .them.

Some time ago I discussed with .the Minister for -Repatriation (Mr. -Barnard) the amounts of loans made, available to. exservicemen .for the purpose -of -setting up in business, and be promised to inquire into the matter. I draw attention to what I consider to be a serious anomaly. Whilst a maximum loan of only £250 is made available in respect of a mixed business, an ex-serviceman can obtain a loan of up to £5.00 for the purchase of a delicatessen. [Extension of time granted.] That is most unfair, and I have no doubt that an investigation would reveal ways and means of rectifying it. This discrimination is probably an oversight; nevertheless it is unfair. A delicatessen is defined as a store where prepared foods, such as cooked meats and salads, are sold. Such a store would carry only a small stock, because not more than one or two days’ supply of cooked meats and salads would be carried. The plant necessary to conduct such a business could be an ice chest and a pair of scales. It is evident, therefore, that the assets, which would become the security for a loan, might be of a low capital value. As a matter of fact, very few delicatessens would be conducted if the definition were strictly adhered to. On the other hand, a mixed business sells all lines that a delicatessen sells and, in most instances, it also sells ice cream, confectionery, fruit and vegetables, bread, cake, groceries, meat, tobacco and cigarettes. Thus, a large stock would be carried, the value of which would be high. I again urge the Minister for Repatriation to investigate this anomaly and to rectify it by enabling ex-service personnel to borrow up to £500 for the purchase cf a mixed business.

I have already given my impressions of industries in Queensland and also transport systems in that State. Our national resources can be fully developed only under a policy of adequate water conservation and irrigation. At one centre at which we were entertained in the right royal fashion characteristic of Queenslanders, a member of the local government authority complained of the cost which his council had to incur for the upkeep of roads, bridges and water tables. I informed him that in many parts of South Australia the most general complaint of individuals was that they were obliged to pay too much for their supplies of drinking water, -and that many local government bodies in that State would lee! that they were hawing a treat if they had to expend any of their fund? upon .the repair of roads and bridges. Whilst we crossed numerous running streams in North Queensland, the northern portion of South Australia is practically waterless. However, the Morgan- Whyalla pipe line in that State is an outstanding example of -what can be achieved by water conservation. Whyalla, to-day, is a modern port with extensive shipbuilding yards and is adjacent to the largest deposits of iron ore in the Commonwealth. That town depends entirely for its water upon the pipe line which taps the river Murray at Morgan about 240 miles away. Its construction and maintenance was partly financed by the Australian Government. It runs through a windswept plain where the average rainfall is from 5 inches to 7 inches annually. However., within the vicinity of Whyalla, healthy fodder crops are now grown and local dairies are able to supply the milk and dairy products required by the townspeople. The pipeline has helped to bring about a remarkable transformation at Whyalla. I cite that project as an example of what can be -achieved under a policy of water conservation. Therefore, I -appeal to the Government to take every opportunity to develop such a policy.

I shall now refer to the development of the timber industry in the south-east portion .of South Australia. Lord Robinson, a visitor from England, who was in that area recently, expressed surprise at the development of the industry. Whereas 25 years ago, the area was sparsely populated, several townships have now been established there, including Mount Burr and Nangwarry. At present 65,000,000 super, feet of timber is being cut annually by clear felling or by milling, and this output will be increased to 250,000,000 super, feet within the next fifteen years. The -average age of the plantations being cut is about 28 years. Lord Robinson said that that was extraordinary, whilst other experts on pine forests -have .expressed similar wonderment when they have visited the area. The timber mills in the area are producing annually 1,000^000 lineal feet of flooring and linings, 1,000,000 -citrus cases. 1,000,000 dried fruit <cases. 2,000,000 super, feet of match veneer, and 6,000,000 super, feet of pulp-wood, which, it is estimated, will be increased to 30,000,000 super, feet. Those mills, which are making a substantial contribution to the material prosperity of South Australia, are capable of producing the total flooring requirements of the State.

I disagree entirely with the many isms “ which are floating around to-day. ft is very difficult for a public man to stand on a public platform without finding himself associated with some form of “ ism “. I stand for Christian ideals. Unless we return to Christian standards which were the proud possession of our forefathers we shall have great difficulty in ensuring the liberty and happiness of the individual in this country. All of us stand for freedom. However, the present state of affairs in Australia has been brought about mainly by those who use liberty as a catch-cry. No one objects to newspapers, radio stations or any other section publishing their views so long as they do not infringe the law in doing so. The Australian Labour party believes in freedom, but not the spurious freedom advocated so -widely to-day. Many people believe that freedom means freedom for them to do what they like and say what they like regardless of the consequences of their words or actions on their fellow citizens. The socalled freedom- of the press has assumed the proportions of a national menace. Who can deny that the exploitation by the press of emotionalism and sensationalism is unprecedented in Australian journalism? Any one who is inclined to dispute that fact can disabuse his mind by undertaking a little research of the newspaper files in any library in the Commonwealth. He will find that journalistic ethics have greatly deteriorated, and that the sensationalism of our press in dealing with national and international affairs is a grave menace to our welfare. Our people as a whole must return to Christian ethics. Only upon such a basis can we strengthen the nation morally. To-day, those principles are flouted by the press whose prime purpose is to exploit sensationalism. That is a great pity. Australia is a great country and the majority of our people are Christians who desire to follow to the best of their ability the teachings of our Redeemer and to do whatever they can to make the lot of their fellow citizens happier. They are not aided by people who regard with contumely the principles and feelings of decent citizens. What would nations now in distress, Suck as France, Germany, the Balkan States, India and South Africa, not give to be in a position comparable to that which we enjoy! We have won our present position through the loyalty and affection of our people for our Most Gracious Sovereign, whom we hope to welcome to this country next year, and by respect for the parliamentary system of government which has survived despite divergences of views within the community. What would any of those countries I have mentioned not give to be enjoying the happiness which liberty-loving Australians enjoy to-day? I commend the Government for its. success in keeping the Australian economic ship on an even keel. Its record, I am sure, is appreciated by every thoughtful person in the community, and has earned the admiration of governments throughout the world.

In conclusion, I offer LIly meagre, but sincere congratulations of the Government upon the presentation of this budget, and I appeal again to those people, who believe in freedom only when it suits them, to do less to encourage the belief that sensationalism - and borderline sensationalism at that - can do something to make Australia the nation that we all want it to .be.

Senator KATZ:

.- 1, too, commend the Government upon the presentation to the Parliament of a budget which I consider will be readily acceptable to most sections of the community. It is astounding, indeed, that, in time of peace, an Australian government should be in a position to budget for an expenditure of £509,542,000, which is very nearly equal to the national debt of Great Britain during the early part of World War I. I use that illustration to show the wonderful development that has taken place in this country.

Expenditure upon re-establishment and repatriation services in the current financial year is estimated at £38,000,000. No country in the world is doing more than Australia is for its ex-service men and women. In World War II., according to figures supplied by the Department of Air, the Department of the Army, and the Commonwealth Statistician, out of Australia’s total population of approximately 7,000,000, no less than 990,176, or nearly one-eighth, enlisted in the armed forces or were otherwise directly associated with the war effort. That was an achievement unparalleled in any other country. Between the 15th August, 1945, and the 30th June, 1.948, the total number of men and women demobilized from the services was 584,767, out of a total of 595,740. Of the men and women demobilized, reinstatement rights were exercised by 237,484 between the 1st October, 1945, and the 30th June, 1948. In the same period, apprenticeship revivals totalled 9,794. What other government in the world provided not only for the re-establishment of ex-service men and women in industry, but also for the preservation of ordinary indenture rights to apprentices? An. apprentice who enlisted in the Australian armed forces at, say, eighteen years of age, and served for three years, was paid full award rates upon his return to industry, a subsidy being paid to his employer for this purpose. That ensured that no young man, who was serving an apprenticeship upon his enlistment in the armed forces, was prejudiced by his absence from industry during his war service. Between the 1st October, 1945, and the 30th June, 1948, 23,276 young men indicated upon discharge their intention to return to their own businesses or farms. Applications for agricultural loans totalled 13,450, of which 3,441 were withdrawn or refused, 9,4S3 approved, 850 declined after approval had been granted, and 526 have not yet been approved. The agricultural loans approved averaged £716, and totalled approximately £7,000,000. The Government has also made available to ex-servicemen, free tuition at various agricultural colleges throughout the Commonwealth. Up to the 30th June, 1948, 11,400 applications had .been received for re-establishment allowances for ex-servicemen wishing to attend agricultural colleges. Of this number, 9,287 have been approved, 1,62.1 have been withdrawn, and 492 have noi yet been approved. In brief, nearly 10,000 young men are receiving reestablishment living allowances while attending various agricultural institutions. In addition, where accommodation has noi been available, students have been sent to work with farmers, allowances being paid by the Commonwealth to the employers. By the end of June of this year. 7,360,000 acres of land had been submitted for settlement by ex-servicemen. 668,250 acres had been rejected, 5,840,232 acres approved as suitable for settlement, and 5,810,548 acres approved for acquisition. Holdings allocated and ready for occupation numbered 1.427 and the total area allocated is 3,3.1.7,765 acres. War service homes loans have been granted to 11,377 applicants since the 3rd September, 1939. Between the 27th August. 1945, and the 30th June, 1948, the Department of Repatriation supplemented the wages of 12,368 apprentices, and made furniture grants to 4,523 widows. 97 totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen, and 38 blinded exservicemen. The same department, between the 1st November, 1943, and the 30th June. 1948, made 16,945 small business loans. Agricultural loans of up to £250 each have been made to 1,038 applicants. Loans to ex-servicemen and women wishing to enter professions have numbered 1,109. Ex-servicemen desiring to travel overseas have also been helped, and 4,701 free passages to and from Australia have been made available to them. Relief has been given to 66,088 men through the ordinary re-employment allowances provided by the Government. One phase of the Government’s activities on behalf of ex-servicemen which has always been lightly touched upon is its comprehensive education scheme. Those of us who have had experience as members of State reconstruction committees, which work in conjunction with the Universities Commission, have an intimate knowledge of what has been achieved. Many men who had commenced university courses prior to enlistment have been assisted to resume their studies, but the department has gone even further than that. For instance, young men who showed aptitude in army education courses, even though they did not reach the leaving certificate standard, have been assisted to undertake university training.’ Many such, trainees havealready obtained degrees. In fact, in Victoria last year the average standard of ex-service trainees in university courses was much higher than that of ordinary students. That fact shows plainly what can be done for our youth if only opportunities for education are made available to them. The amount expended by the Government on the education of young ex-servicemen and women upon their return to civilian life has reached the total of £7,600,000. This programme has illustrated what can be done by a Government which really has at heart the welfare of our people and the development of our country. The results of the education scheme indicate that in the past many young men and women have suffered because of lack of opportunities for education rather than because of incapacity. Thousands of the young men who have qualified as skilled tradesmen under the reconstruction training scheme were obviously victims of the after effects of the economic depression of the ‘thirties and had not qualified as tradesmen previously merely because they had not had opportunities for training. They have become assets to the community as the result of the sympathetic treatment of this Government. Never again must we allow hundreds of thousands of young citizens to enter “ dead end “ occupations merely because they cannot afford to pay for their own training. The encouraging results of the reconstruction programme lead many of us to hope that the already bright prospects for the future development of the Commonwealth will be surpassed.

Many people complain that Australians are heavily taxed. What country has not been heavily taxed in recent years? It is far bettor that we should now bear a heavy financial burden than that we should be suffering the consequences of conquest by a foreign power and be unable to pay for anything. The justification for high rates of tax is- the nature of the projects upon which the1 Government expends its revenue from- this source. For example, the Repatriation Commission has an annual liability of £7,704,095 for pensions in Australia. Its annual liability in the United Kingdom is £55,695. That is only one example of the Government’s benevolent expenditure. Taxes must be levied in order to finance such commitments. The Repatriation Commission has supplied tools of trad, to many ex-servicemen. The cost of such gifts up to the present has been £1,795,192. Loans for the purchase of tools have also been made at a cost of £200,265. The cost of books, material and equipment supplied to technical trainee? under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme between the 1st July. 1944, and the 30th June, 1948, was £195,771. University training, including full and part-time courses, cost £468,583. The training of what are termed “ problem cases “ amongst incapacitated ex-servicemen cost £2,675. The value of housing loans and advances approved from the 3rd September, 1939, to the 30th June, 1948, was £13,000,000. The amount actually expended was £6,945,069. Wherever we study the facts, we see evidence of an effort of which any government could be proud. This Government deserves the unanimous support of the community for the wonderful work that it has done on behalf of ex-servicemen.

The Government also has a remarkable record of achievement in the field of social services. In this respect, the budget which we are discussing is the most notable in the history of the Commonwealth. The rate of age and invalid pensions has been increased from £1 17s. 6d. to £2 2s. 6d. a week. This will provide a married couple eligible for pension with a direct income of £4 5s. a week. In addition to that, a pensioner will be permitted to earn £1 10s. a week, instead of £1 a week, without reduction of pension. This will enable a married couple to bring a total of £7 5s. a week into the home without being penalized by a pension cut. Another noteworthy improvement in the social services system is the easing of the mean? test. I regard this as a forerunner of the complete abolition of the test, a goal towards which every intelligent man and woman who believes in democracy should strive. An applicant for pension is now permitted to have a bank balance of £100, whereas formerly the permissible limit was £50. Thus, a married couple eligible for pension can have a nest-egg of £200 in the- bank. Furthermore, a pensioner now need have no worries about a pauper’s burial because the Australian Government provides, an amount for burial expenses. These advances- give us great hope for the future, and I believe that, within the next few years, further improvements will be made to our social services system. I believe that our opponents in the Liberal party and the Australian Country party would give almost anything in their power to be able to submit such a budget to the people of Australia. [. do not think that they ever dreamed that such a budget could be possible.

Senator O’Sullivan:

– Yes, it is like a nightmare !

Senator KATZ:

– I expected that my remark would draw some comment from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Sullivan). He may deride the suggestion that the Opposition should join in a coalition government, but I remind him of what has happened in Tasmania. Four days ago, the Leader of the Opposition in the Tasmanian Parliament, who previously had condemned the Labour Premier, Mr. Cosgrove, from one end of the island to the other, actually proposed to Mr. Cosgrove that a coalition government be formed. The offer was rejected. Members of’ the Opposition know as well as I do that they have no possibility of regaining the treasury bench. They criticize the Government for the expenditure of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but the people know that the commission is making a splendid effort to educate and entertain the listening public. In Great Britain, where also a Labour government is in office, there are no business broadcasting corporations, or “B” class broadcasting stations, as we know them in Australia. Many years ago an anti-Labour government granted a franchise to certain business concerns in this country to operate broadcasting stations, and I say, with a proper sense of responsibility, that many of those concerns are using their broadcasting licences for purposes which are certainly not legitimate. Modern radio broadcasting has dramatized politics, and some of the most indecent’ political progaganda ever disseminated has emanated from the B class stations, which employ people like “Mr.

Austral.”’ to broadcast nefarious propaganda over large radio “ hook-ups “. Notwithstanding their efforts, and those of the large metropolitan newspaper proprietors, the present Government has retained the confidence of the people.

Like many others, I believe that the budget’ could be improved in certain minor respects, but, of course, it is impossible to prepare a budget which will completely satisfy every one. I am convinced that in preparing the budget before us the Government has done s service to the people of Australia and has enhanced its prospects of retaining office after the next elections. The budget contains ample evidence of the Government’s determination to accomplish something worthwhile for the people of Australia, and it must commend itself to all honorable senators.

Senator AMOUR:
New South Wales

– As a supporter of the Govern: ment, I am proud to be associated with the political party which has introduced the present budget, because that document indicates the sincerity of the Government’s intention to provide real security for the people of Australia. As Senator Katz pointed out. the Government intends to expend, in the interests of the people of this country, an amount unequalled in the history of the National Parliament. It is determined to provide adequately, not only for the defence of the nation, but also for the social security of the people. There is no doubt that the social insecurity which prevailed for so long during the regime of’ various anti-Labour government’! contributed materially to the rise of the Communist party, for whose existence the newspapers are continually “belting” the Government. The budget will provide funds to enable our people to be housed decently and our womenfolk to enjoy proper conditions. Tt provides for increases of the age, invalid, service and war pensions, as well as for larger widows’ pensions, family endowment and allowances to public hospitals. Those are features of the Government’s policy, which aims at building a sounder nation bv providing adequate social security for the people. The need for a proper system nf social security is obvious when we recall the privations’ which so many people had to endure between 1929 and 1935, and, in some instances, even until 1939. Last night I witnessed the screening of a documentary film which showed the appalling conditions which prevail today in Germany, Japan, China, India, the Balkan countries, and even in England. Hundreds of thousands of unfortunate people in those countries are suffering misery, starvation, degradation and disease. The film also showed us what happened in the thirties, when huge quantities of wheat which could not be sold profitably were either burnt or tipped into the sea. At that time millions of people in those countries could not obtain sufficient to eat and it must be admitted, a similar state of affairs existed in Australia. I recall vividly a report by a New South Wales government medical officer which stated that of the children who were attending the public school at Balmain in 1932, approximately 87 per cent, suffered from malnutrition and many from rickets. That happened in Australia, where there has always been an abundance of food, and I remind honorable senators that the political parties represented by members of the present Opposition were in office during that dreadful time and did nothing to arrest the drift.

A great deal of criticism is directed at the Government because of the number of people employed by it. Prior to the war the national government maintained a number of public departments, including the service departments, but during the war it was necessary to make a much greater contribution to the defence of the country and consequently the number employed in the services increased. The war also resulted in the establishment of departments to deal with munitions, aircraft production, supply and shipping, and post-war reconstruction, whilst the activities of the Repatriation Commission had to be considerably expanded. Since the war ended the departments dealing with health and social services has had to be expanded enormously in order to meet the demands of the people for adequate social security. To assist Australians to obtain employment, and so reduce the number of people unemployed, the Commonwealth Employment “Service was established, and this organization has maintained branches throughout Australia. Because of the prosperity which we are enjoying that organization has not been called upon to function as it will in less prosperous times, but I point out that it has already placed 100,000 men and women in suitable employment. The value of that organization will become apparent when the large numbers of immigrants which the Government plans to bring to this country are seeking employment. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Department of Works and Housing, the War Service Homes Commission and the Department of External Affairs are other examples of greatly increased governmental activity. Yet the total number of men and women employed in all Commonwealth departments to-day amounts only to 52,800. Of course, members of the Opposition repeatedly claim that the number of persons employed in the Commonwealth serservice is 167,000, but to make that misleading estimate they have to lump together, not only the number engaged in governmental industrial enterprises, such as mines and quarries, munitions factories and workshops, transport undertakings and re-afforestation schemes, but also workers in hospitals, telegraph linesmen, employees of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, teachers in the education service and many others, who certainly do not belong to the Public Service as we know it. The Public Service comprises officers in the various departments, whom the public have to interview in connexion with matters which concern them. They are the persons whom the members of this Parliament have to approach when they want advice in. connexion with various matters. What the Opposition fails to acknowledge is that Australia has grown up. It has grown too fast for them, and that is why they complain about the increase of the number of public servants. Each day in this chamber questions are directed to the PostmasterGeneral by members of the Opposition about the necessity for provision of additional telephone facilities, and, in addition, they write many letters to the Minister requesting the provision of additional automatic telephone exchanges. Millions of pounds are available to the Postmaster-General for that purpose. This Government recognizes that an extension of the telephone service is essential. The Postmaster-General has been prevented by a serious shortage of labour from giving effect to the Government’s desire to extend the telephone service. On the one hand, members of the Opposition complain of the increase of the number of public servants and yet, on the other hand, they continually request .extensions of existing services, which would entail a great amount of labour. “Whenever an extension is carried out, members of the Opposition proceed to add the additional staff employed in consequence to the existing figures, and then condemn the Government for increasing the number of public servants.

I shall refer briefly to the Government’s immigration policy.’ I believe that with the Immigration Department working as at present, and having at its head a Minister who is more conscious of the importance of his job than are most other men, good results will be achieved, tip is anxious to bring to this country the very best citizens procurable. We do not require only experts of great technicians, but we want to obtain from the United States of America, Germany, Great Britain and all the other countries which can provide them, workers in various industries who are willing to migrate to Australia. With the help of those people we hope to be able to give to the people the facilities and amenities that are necessary or desirable. I listened very attentively to Senator Critchley’s remarks concerning Queensland timber, and I know that transport difficulties preclude such timber from being transported to other States where it is most urgently required. Substantial buildings must be constructed for the extension of telephone services, and there is a lot of technical work to bc accomplished. Ministers for housing in the various States have said that the Postmaster-General may please himself, but that they prefer that houses be built rather than that additional structures in connexion with the telephone services and improvement of post offices be provided at the present time. In most of the towns more people live now than before the war, and, consequently, most of the post office buildings throughout Australia require enlarging. A big demand exists, also, for the provision of new post offices. In this connexion, I think it opportune to mention that the next time I go to Queensland 1 hope to hear that definite steps have been taken for the building of a new general post office in Brisbane. The matters 1 have mentioned constitute difficulties over which the Government has no great control. It is doing its very best by assisting the Australian States as far as possible to proceed with their building programmes.

Many references have been made to communism. I remind honorable senators that in April, 1937, the federal executive of the Australian Labour party carried the following resolution : -

The Australian Labour party hereby refuses affiliation to the Communist party, and dissociates itself from the policy, methods, and propaganda of the Communist party and all its auxiliary organizations. Tt declares the Communist party to be an anti-Labour political organization. It declares, furthermore, that the Communist party is in direct conflict with the policy, platform and constitution of the Australian Labour party. Membership of the Australian Labour party is obtainable by every person who supports its principles and policy and who is not a member of any other political party or any subsidiary body connected therewith. It is by membership of the Australian Labour party alone that a united front can be presented by the workers of the Commonwealth towards the forces of war, fascism and reaction generally.

Since then that resolution has been reaffirmed on many occasions. The Australian Labour party is the only political party in Australia that bars members of the Communist party from its ranks. The Liberal party has never made such a declaration. I have searched the newspapers of the Commonwealth and the literature disseminated by the Liberal party, containing scurrilous, lying propaganda by associating the Australian Labour party with the Communist party, but I have never heard or read that the Liberal party has announced having any objection to a Communist joining its ranks. My remarks apply also to the Austraiian Country party and I stress this aspect because of all the “ hooey “ that has been spoken in this connexion.

I wish now to refer to a matter of great importance. I was appointed by the Government as Commonwealth representative on the Flood Belief Committee, whose job it was to proceed to the north coast of New South Wales, after the recent floods, examine the position there, and grant relief as urgently as possible to people who had had their homes flooded, their lands damaged, their fences washed away, and whose cattle in many instances had been drowned. We had public moneys to expend by way of relief but at no time did the committee have the power of a committee of compensation. Our job was one purely of relief. We moved around as fast as we could over the flooded areas, and determined matters relating to freight on fodder, barbed wire, and the food distributed by the police as an urgent matter. In relation to those matters the committee authorized payments. If a person affected by the flood owned a property which was well stocked, the New South Wales Government, through its Rural Bank, provided loans at reasonable rates of interest. A pre-requisite however, was that a person had to have assets in order to secure the loon. Much of the action initiated by the Flood Relief Committee “was necessarily of an extremely urgent nature. It included the transportation by air of big applies of blankets to meet the urgent needs of homeless families; the supply of penicillin for use in cases of pneumonia resulting from the floods; and the transportation by air pf a special consignment of fodder for cattle which had been stranded, and would otherwise have died. That job was carried out by a Royal Australian Air Force aeroplane. In other instances supplies of fodder were sent by boat for cattle isolated by the flood waters. An emergency hospital was established at Woodburn, thousands of people who had been rendered homeless by the floods were fed, and clothing was provided in cases of distress. Boats were hired where necessary to convey food to families which “had been stranded in isolated areas and who, had this relief not been provided, might have perished. Honorable senators will be pleased to know that the Royal Australian Air Force and the Department of ‘the Army cooperated splendidly with the committee in ‘making available blankets and transport, and ‘the committee has specially recorded in its minutes, appreciation of the services rendered by the Minister ‘for Air (Mr. Drakeford) land the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), both of whom acted immediately, on the Wednesday that the flood occurred. LieutenantGeneral Berryman was instructed on thai day to do what he could to relieve the suffering and distress of the residents of the flooded areas, and Royal Australian Air Force aeroplanes were provided to b< used in any way necessary to rendel assistance. Many fences in the flooded areas were carried .away, but the State Minister for Building Materials, working in association with the Flood Relief Committee forwarded substantial quantitiesof fencing wire to the flooded areas. Such action by the department resulted, in most favorable comment from residents of the districts concerned. Much valuable dairying land was flooded, and the flood waters are likely to remain in that area f0 some months to come, because creeks were blocked by debris, while water hyacinth still covers much land on the lower reaches of the Clarence River. When the flood waters came down they flowed onto the roads and remained there. In some instances the water hyacinth, remained on the paddocks in large quantities and rendered the land useless. My impression is that if the owners of land adjacent to the Clarence River were compelled, periodically, to check the growth of the water hyacinth, losses through this cause would be reduced in any futur floods. It is incumbent upon land-holders in the Richmond River district to exterminate that weed, and, consequently, they dc not suffer any trouble because of it. In th recent floods many people were rendered homeless for several days, and provision was made through the local police to house and feed them. The cost of thai relief exceeded the cost incurred in the flood of 1945. “Various estimates wenmade of the losses of stock, but, finally, the general impression was that those losses were not so serious as they were al first thought .to be. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony.) .stated that thousands of cattle were drowned. He truth is.that thanks to the the timely issue of flood warnings many .beasts were shifted io higher land and .escaped drowning.

The (flood waters completely submerged many homes, and rivers broke ‘their banks >and spread to a width ‘Of many miles. Rescue parties they were floating over tree tops ‘Or over river channels. They risked their lives in that work. I again pay tribute to the magnificent job that was done by the water brigades. A few days ago I asked that the Government confer with the State authorities with a view to providing boats, equipment and storage for gear for the water brigades. Those bodies must be maintained at all times at a high level of efficiency. There have -been many floods in the Clarence .River district and many people have lost their homes. But for the .good work performed by the water brigades and .the police I believe that the recent .flood would have proved to be an unprecedented disaster. On one occasion when I was in Lismore, the lo’cal police -were informed that three people who lived 8 miles away had not been accounted for. The police set out in a small boat in the dark to search for them. They had no .means by which they could be .guided to the home of the persons concerned, but they eventually arrived there and found that the family had managed to reach safety. Although the flood waters .spread into shopping areas, the damage caused to stocks was not so great .as that caused in 1945. On this occasion, thanks to early warnings, storekeepers were able to move much of their stocks on to shelves. The local radio station performed valuable services in .organizing rescue squads. Officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department also rendered valuable assistance in that direction, and in repairing disrupted telephone services. I - pay .a tribute to the work performed by Superintendent Delaney and Inspector Snowden who were in charge of a squad of police sent from Sydney and also to Inspector Taylor of Lismore and Inspector McEwan of Grafton as well as to members of the .police force stationed in areas that were flooded. They performed their duties in the face of many perils.

I urge the .Government to give sympathetic consideration to the position of local government bodies -whose finances are not sufficient to stand the strain of repairing roads which have been partly washed -away or seriously damaged in successive floods. In some places damage caused in :the .1945 flood had just been repaired when the roads were washed away again in the 1946 flood ; and th< latter damage had hardly been repaired when the same roads were washed awa> again in the recent floods. That work has involved local government bodies in an expenditure of hundreds of pounds which they -cannot afford. The State Government subsidizes local government bodies for .such work ‘On a £1 for £1 basis, but unless a ^council has sufficient funds to meet its quota of the expense involved in the ‘repair and upkeep of roads it must entirely forgo assistance from the State Government. In these .circumstances, ] urge the Australian Government to relieve local government bodies of their share .of the cost of this work. People in countrydistricts must depend upon these roads to maintain contact with local towns. ] cannot .over-emphasize the importance of this matter. In addition, something must be done to prevent families resident in these districts, .from being washed out season .after season.

During the course of my work as th<Commonwealth Government’s representative on the relief committee, I heard revived the proposal urged by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) for the construction of the Clarence River gorge scheme. I am noi an engineer and do not pretend to know much about the prevention of floods, bin I have seen, at first hand, the distress which such disasters cause to families through damage to their homes and loss of stock, products and equipment. ‘The right ‘honorable member for Cowper has gained much publicity in recent years for the scheme he has proposed. During the war he published a pamphlet in which he advocated it, and it was given such wide publicity in ‘the local press that one is ‘led to suspect that, in -view of the many chances he has had to do -something in the matter during the last 30 years, ‘he is now more interested in gaining publicity for himself than in getting anything done. He has been quick to get on to “the ‘band waggon in order to gain personal and political publicity. He has revived the ‘Clarence River .gorge scheme, apparently in the hope of ‘bolstering up ‘his declining popularity. The right honorable gentleman ‘has been a m ember of .the Parliament since 1919.. .He was Treasurer in the Bruce-Page Government, and on the 13th June, 1924, he introduced the legislation under which the Commonwealth Bank was placed under the control of a board. He was a Minister in both the Lyons and the Menzies Governments in which he held the portfolio of Commerce. Incidentally, the greatest destruction caused by the floods in the Clarence River district has been the loss of dairy farms. The floods covered thousands of acres with mud silt which renders the soil useless. During all the years the right honorable member was a Minister in past governments, he failed to do anything in this matter. To-day, he is urging his scheme as the only one which is worthy of consideration. I have first-hand knowledge of the Clarence River area and I know that he is ignoring the views of many of the residents there. Many graziers from the Clarence River area are of the opinion nhat the scheme would involve the wholesale destruction of valuable property. However, publicity has been given to the scheme he propounds to the exclusion of all other proposals, including what is known as the new Mulligan scheme which many people in the district consider to be more practical and economical. Under the new Mulligan scheme only country useless for primary production would be inundated. Valuable farms would not have to be destroyed. I believe that even the right honorable gentleman’s own supporters are not unanimous about the value of the scheme he advocates. Many station-owners in the district contend that thousands of valuable acres included in their properties would have to be submerged. This would cause a serious decrease of production of beef cattle and dairy products. Those land-holders have become so concerned about the matter that they have formed the Upper Clarence development scheme in order to protect their interests. No one who has seen the devastation’ caused by floods in the Clarence River district will deny that some scheme must be evolved in order to prevent flooding. However, all aspects of the problem should be considered. Attention should not be confined to one or two aspects. Every possibility should be considered by experts.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

Senator AMOUR:

– In addition, full: evidence should be taken from local, residents in the light of their bitter first-hand experiences of floods on the Clarence River. Suggestions foi coping with these floods did not come first from the right honorable member for Cowper. As far back as 60 years ago a school teacher named Archibald claimed that by building a dam at the gorge on the upper Clarence where various tributaries meet, floods along the closely settled areas of the river could be prevented. Since that time, there have been many major floods and innumerable smaller floods. Various anti-Labour administrations have been in power for most of the intervening period, but have done little to prevent damage from floods. The right honorable member for Cowper is not the pioneer of flood prevention schemes that his publicists would have us believe. He advocates a costly scheme on the lines of the Tennessee Valley scheme; but there are many people in the Clarence River district who say that such a scheme is not needed. They claim that a dam on the upper Clarence would prevent flooding of the lower reaches of the river and would not necessitate the inundation of thousands of acres of good country which would be involved in the proposal advanced by the right honorable member for Cowper. I repeat that I am not a hydro-electric engineer - nor is the right honorable member for Cowper - but I do say that all schemes, and especially the new Mulligan scheme, should be investigated thoroughly before any move is made to implement any one of them. 3 have seen at first-hand the devastation of these floods, and I appreciate the need for preventing them. The Australian Government has contributed thousands of pounds in flood relief and, I am sure, would be prepared to assist in any move to prevent a repetition of the disasters that have come with the frequent floodings of the Clarence River. The right honorable member for Cowper is quiteright in urging that something should be done, but we should not forget that he was Treasurer of the Commonwealth for some years, and also held other portfolios in various governments. The right honorable gentleman sat on the treasury bench, in the Parliament when there were 200,000 or 300,000 unemployed in this country and materials were cheap. How wonderful it would have been for Australia if some of those men had been taken off the dole and put to work on that worthwhile project! The ‘scheme advanced by the right honorable member now would relieve the flood situation on the Clarence, but what about the people at Lismore, which is on the Richmond River, or of Murwillumbah, which is on the Tweed? What suggestions have been offered by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) for a scheme to prevent flood waters from rushing over the homes of the people on the lower reaches of the Richmond River? Floods have been occurring on the Clarence River since records were commenced in 1839, but it was not until 19.45, when Labour governments held office in the Commonwealth and in New South Wales, that some assistance was given to the victims of these disasters, f have listened to speeches by the right honorable member for Cowper and the honorable member for Richmond. Their only contribution to the solution of this problem has been to criticize the amounts of the flood relief grants. I remind them that floods are not new to the districts in which they live, and that during the long terms of office of anti-Labour governments little was done to alleviate the suffering caused by the floods. Control of the waters of our northern rivers is essential, not only because of the urgent need for water conservation, but also because of the need for hydro-electric power. Control of the waters of the Tweed, Richmond, and Clarence rivers would not only remove present flood dangers, but also would enable the generation of sufficient electricity to supply large areas of Queensland and New South Wales. This is of vital importance when one considers that whether coal is produced by open-cut mining, or by ordinary tunnelling methods, the supply will not be sufficient to meet the growing needs of Australian industries.

Recently, in company -with the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan), representing the Minister for Munitions, the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Mr. Scully), who is the honorable member for Gwydir in the House of Representatives, and several members of the New South Wales Parliament, including the Minister for Labour (Mr. Dixon), I visited the Inverell district, where we inspected the local bauxite deposits. There are bauxite deposits in Tasmania also, but I understand that of the 6,000,000 tons of bauxite known to exist in this country, more than 5,000,000 tons is in the Inverell deposits. At Ashford, not far from Inverell, there is a coal mine, and I have been informed by coal authorities that the heating content of Ashford coal is equalled only by that produced in one mine in the Maitland field, and is much better than that of coal mined at Newcastle, or on the southern or western New South Wales fields. There are other coal deposits adjacent to the Ashford field. In addition, in the same locality, there are deposits of limestone which are calculated to be sufficient for all requirements for 100 years, and I believe that that is a conservative estimate. The North-West County Council proposes to build a large electricity generating plant adjacent to the Ashford coal mine. For cooling purposes, water can be drawn from the Severn River, which is not far away. If the Australian Government were to assist in the establishment of an aluminium plant at Inverell, the power required for processing the bauxite would be available on the spot. The potentialities of the Inverell district are great. Not only could it support a great industrial centre, but also the surrounding areas are suitable for intensive agriculture. In addition, I am led to believe that the district produces diamonds which are most valuable for industrial purposes. I invite the Australian Government to co-operate with the Government of New South Wales in the development of this project. The first essential is the provision of a rail link from Inverell to the coast. I have urged this work on many occasions. The line was first recommended for defence purposes, and in 1924 a. start was made on the link between Guyra and Dorrigo. The proposal was then to link Guyra and Inverell through Tinga. This work was commenced by a Labour government in New South Wales, but when that administration was dismissed from office and the saintly Mr. Stevens, that great archpatriot, was elected Premier of New South. Wales, his first action was to discontinue the building of that line. In World War 11., a Japanese invasion threatened this country, and had the Hawkesbury River bridge been destroyed the link between northern and southern New South Wales would have been severed. The line from Guyra to Inverell would provide an alternative route by which to send troops to the coast and to the north of the continent. But the Stevens Government in New South Wales had no more interest in the defence of this country than had the Menzies Administration in the Commonwealth sphere prior to the outbreak of war. The people of this country should remember these things and should not heed the attempt that is now being made by anti-Labour forces to associate the Labour party with the Communists. That appears to be the only shot that the Opposition parties have left in their locker. The Australian people should carry their minds back to the condition of this country in the dark days of the war. The Labour Administration was not’ elected to office; it was called upon to govern this country when certain members of the House of Representatives decided that they could no longer support the government then in office because of its attitude to defence. Some people, of course, have short memories, and they will forget these things; but I am confident that the Australian people generally will realize that this budget will do much to ensure their security. It will also do much to defeat the aims of the Communists by the extension of social services and social justice to every one in the community. That is the only way those “ isms “’ can be beaten. I commend the Government upon the budget, and conclude by saying that I am proud to be in my place in this chamber to speak upon a budget which will do so much for the Australian people.

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

– On the 15th June last, just three months ago, I informed the Senate of matters connected with thepharmaceutical benefits scheme up to that date. I propose tonight to review subsequent developments.

On the 3rd. July last, I had a long conference with the Federal Council of the British Medical Association in Melbourne. At that meeting I submitted certain proposals that were designed to overcome the objections of the council to the pharmaceutical benefits scheme.. Those objections fell under three headings, namely the type of prescription form to be used, penalties, and the use of a formulary. The results of that conference were incorporated in the following Health Department circular, which has been circulated to all doctors, and which, with the concurrence of the Senate. I shall incorporate in Hansard: -

Following an exchange of letters between Senatorthe Hon. N. E. McKenna, Minister for Health and Social Services, and Sir Henry Newland, Kt., G.B.E., D.S.O., President of the Federal Council of the B.M.A. in Australia, the Minister agreed to confer with the Federal Council on the question of the elimination of -

The limitation of prescribing toa formulary.

The use of Prescription Forms.

All penal clauses applicableto doctors.

The conference was held at the Common wealth offices, Treasury Gardens, Melbourne, on Saturday, 3rd of July, and dealt exhaustively with the three points at issue.

The Minister indicated his readiness to alter certain regulations in a numberof respects.

Limitation of Prescribing to a Formulary.

The Minister said that after consideration of the matters discussed he was prepared to

provide greater elasticity in the use of flavourings by allowing a choice of flavours in the several classes;

add extensively to the number of drugs mentioned in the list of allowable additions which could be added to formulae included in the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Formulary. The new items to be settled by a Committee composed of representatives of the Federal Council and the Government.

allow two drugs, if necessary, to be added to a formula, instead of one as at present, from the list of allowable additions;

add to the Formulary a supplement comprising such drugs taken from the limited list of essential and life saving drugs submitted by the Federal Council of the British Medical Association on 29th May. 1947 (excluding oxygen and gases) as were not already included in the Formulary, provided that drugs listed in the supplement would be recorded under common and not proprietarydesignations.

Prescription Forms.

The Minister put before the Federal Council in detail reasons for the view that there was no practical alternative to the use of forms.

Whilst there were great administrative advantages in having only one prescription on each form, he was prepared to provide larger forms to permit the writing of two prescriptions on each form.

On20th July, 1048, the Minister wrote to the President of the Federal Council intimating that he was prepared to adopt a prescription form which could be overprinted by an individual doctor so as to record his name, address, telephone number, surgery hours and other relevant particulars. Pro-formas of a used and unused sample of the form are


  1. Penalties.

The various sections of the Act and the regulations to which penalty clauses were attached were dealt with seriatim.

Section 7 (3) of the Act is as follows:-

Subject to the next succeeding sub-section, an approved pharmaceutical chemist, approved medical practitioner or approved hospital authority shall not demand or receive a payment (other than a payment from the Commonwealth) or other valuable consideration in respect of the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit.

Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for three months.”

The Minister pointed out that in its application to doctors this section deals solely with doctors who, in sparsely populated areas, act also in the capacity of chemist. It was essential to prohibit receipt of two payments for the one supply.

Section 20 of the Act is as follows:- “ (1) A person shall not -

  1. make or present to the DirectorGeneral or to an officer or person doing duty under this Act a statement or document which is false or misleading in any particular;
  2. obtain a pharmaceutical benefit to which he is not entitled;
  3. obtain a payment in respect of the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit which is not payable;
  4. not being a medicalpractitioner, write a prescription in accordance with the prescribed form; or
  5. by means of impersonation, a false or misleading statement or a fraudulent device, obtain, or aid or abet another person to obtain, a pharmaceutical benefit or a payment in respect of the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit.

Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for three months.

  1. A person convicted of an offence against this section may, in addition, to the penalty imposed for the offence, be ordered to repay to the Commonwealth the value of any phar maceutical benefit received by that person, or any amount received by that person in respect of the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit, in consequence of the act in respect of whichhe was convicted.”

The Minister pointed out that the Section has no particular application to doctors and that it would be unreasonable to expect that the prohibition should be expressed to apply to a person other than a doctor.

Regulation 10. “ Where the approval of a pharmaceutical chemist, medical practitioner or hospital authority has been suspended or revoked, the pharmaceutical chemist, medical practitioner or hospital authority -

  1. shall, if the Director-General so requires, deliver up to the DirectorGeneral all documents and forms supplied to him or it by the Commonwealth with respect to the provision of pharmaceutical benefits, other than documents or forms which he has parted with in accordance with the Act and these Regula tions; and
  2. shall not display any sign indicating that he or it has been, or is, approved to supply pharmaceutical benefits under the Act.

Penalty: Fifty pounds.”

This regulation applies only to doctors acting in the capacity of a pharmacist. The Minister said he was prepared if so desired to omit the reference to a medical practitioner.

Regulation 11 (3). “ A medical practitioner shall not use a prescription form supplied by the Commonwealth otherwise than for the writing of a prescription in accordance with, and for the purposes of, the Act and these Regulations.

Penalty: Fifty pounds.”

The Minister expressed the view that this regulation is needed since prescriptions are documents of entitlement to both costly and dangerous drugs.

Regulation 11 (7). “ A medical practitioner to whom a request has been made under the last preceding subregulation shall, within two days after the making of the request, comply with the request.

Penalty: Fifty pounds.”

The preceding sub-regulation (6) reads - “ Where a pharmaceutical chemist has supplied a pharmaceutical benefit on presentation of a prescription written by a medical practitioner in accordance with the last preceding sub-regulation, the pharmaceutical chemist -

  1. shall, as soon as is practicable, request the medical practitioner to furnish to the pharmaceutical chemist, in lieu of that prescription, a separate prescription, in duplicate, on a form supplied by ‘the Commonwealth in respect of each pharmaceutical benefit included in the first-mentioned prescription ; and
  2. subject to this regulation, shall not be entitled to receive payment from the Commonwealth in respect of that pharmaceutical benefit unless he has obtained, and produces with his claim for payment, such a separate prescription.”

This regulation is a necessary provision but the Minister said that he was prepared to lengthen the time of notice and if desired to reduce the amount of penalty to a small num.

Regulation 11 (10). “ Subject to these Regulations, a medical practitioner shall not give or send or cause or permit to be given or sent to any person a form in accordance with FormE (whether signed by him or not) unless he has first written on the form, in accordance with these Regulations, a prescription for the supply of a pharmaceutical benefit.

Penalty: Fifty pounds.”

It was not intended that this regulation should apply to a doctor who might hand a prescription form or forms to a fellow doctor. To make this clear the Minister said, he was prepared to add a proviso that a form or book may under prescribed conditions be transferred to other members of the profession.

Regulation 20. “An approved pharmaceutical chemist, approved medical practitioner or approved hospital authority shall not permit a person other than a registered pharmacist or pharmaceutical chemist, or a medical practitioner, to dispense any pharmaceutical benefit for the purpose of the Act except under the direct supervision of a registered pharmacist or pharmaceutical chemist or of a medical practitioner.

Penalty: Fifty pounds.”

This regulation applies only to an approved doctor acting as chemist. The Minister said he was prepared if so desired to delete the reference to a medical practitioner.

Regulation 21. “An approved pharmaceutical chemist, approved medical practitioner or approved hospital authority shall, if so required by the Director-General, furnish to the DirectorGeneral the names, and particulars of the qualifications, of all persons employed by him or it in dispensing pharmaceutical benefits for the purposes of the Act.

Penalty: Fifty pounds.”

This regulation also only applies to a doctor acting asa chemist. The Minister said he was prepared, if so desired, to delete the reference to a medical practitioner.

Regulation 34 (1) and (2). “ (1) A person shall not expect in accordance with the Act or these Regulations or with the consent or at the direction of the DirectorGeneral, part with possession of mutilate or destroy -

  1. any copy of the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Formulary, or the addendum thereto;
  2. any copy of any rules; or
  3. any list or form, supplied to him by or on behalf of the Commonwealth under or for the purposes of the Act. or these Regulations.

    1. The Director-General may, by notice in. writing served on a person require that person to deliver up to the Director-General, or to a person specified in the direction, within a time specified in the direction, any document or other paper specified in the last preceding sub-regulation which is in the possession of the person on whom the notice is served, and that person shall comply with the direction.

Penalty : Fifty pounds.”

This regulation was intended to prevent forms from falling into wrong hands. The Minister said that he would be ready to amend it by deleting sub-regulation (1) and repealing sub-regulation (2) and substituting therefor a provision vesting power in the DirectorGeneral to require prescription forms and repeat authorizations to be delivered up on the death of a doctor or a chemist respectively, on a chemist going out of business, and in case of misconduct under Section 13 of the Act - that is on the part of a doctor acting alchemist.

The Minister added that as a general principle he would be prepared to consult the profession in any matter affecting medical practitioners involving any alteration to the Regulations.

After hearing the Minister’s statement the conference temporarily adjourned in order to allow the Federal Council time to consider the Government’s proposals.

On resumption, the President of the Council informed the Minister that his Council had resolved that - “The Minister be informed that as the mandate held by the Federal Council was to reach an agreement based on acceptance of the principles outlined in our letter of 15th May and as these proposals do not imply acceptance of the principles, the Council is in the position of having to refer the whole matter back to the Branch Councils before a reply can be made.”

The President gave the Minister an assurance that everything that could be done to expedite consideration by the branches or the branch Councils, would be done.

Commonwealth Department of Health, Canberra, A.C.T. 23rd July, 1948.

Not long after that, I wrote a further letter to the council dealing with the subject of prescription forms. It also I shall’ incorporate in Hansard with the concurrence of the Senate. The letter is as follows : -

Parliament House,

Canberra. 20th July, 1948.

Pharmaceutical Benefits.

Dear Sir Henry,

After reading the transcript of my recent conference in Melbourne with the Federal Council, I have given further considerationto the discussions relating to the use of Government prescription forms.

Viewed fromthe standpoint of its function as a basic originating unit in the pharmaceutical benefits scheme, the present form, varied to permit of two prescriptions, is in my view an adequate and efficient document for that purpose. However, I have been concerned to meet what I gauge to be the feelings of your -council in relation to the present form.

I now forward herewith copies of a new pro forma prescription form.

The face of the original is plain, apart from a number which can be placed inconspicuously in the lower right hand corner, and apart from a marginal line drawn at the left of the form. The back of the original is plain except for the words “ Pharmaceutical Benefits Act 1947 - Form E “ in small print at its base. The face of the duplicate is the same as that of the original except for the addition of the word “ Duplicate “. The rear of the duplicate is the same as the rear of the original except for headings and lines to provide for notation of the dispensing of repeat prescriptions.

The form is slightly larger than that now in use under the regulations and permits of much more space for the writing of prescriptions. It is thought that this size will best serve the convenience of doctors visiting patients in hospital and in their homes. The printing, writing or stamping of the doctor’s name and address at the head of the form will be necessary. The notation of surgery hours, telephone number and other information would be optional. The doctor would arrange for the printing, writing or stamping as he desired. He would be free to send the forms to a printer. It would he necessary that the patient’s name and address be recorded at the head of the form.

The space to the left of the marginal line is intended to be reserved for notations by the chemist and the department.

Provision for the signature of the doctor and insertion of the date is made at the end of the form.

One form marked “sample” has been filled in to demonstrate a used form.

It is proposed to remove all words except the words “Prescription Book” from the outside cover of the book of prescription forms. These words are retained solely to distinguish the front from the back of the book.

These forms would be supplied by the Com monweallh. As already indicated, overprinting or stamping would be a matter for the doctor’s choice.

The alterations I have already proposed to penalty clauses will apply to the new form. 1 shall be obliged if you will treat this proposed new form aspart of the proposals which I made at the conference and which your council intimated would be referred to branch councils of your association.

Yours faithfully,

  1. E. McKenna.

Sir Henry Newland, Kt., C.B.E… D.S.O.,

President, Federal Council of the British Medical Association in Australia, 163 North Terrace, Adelaide. S.A.

At the conference, the president intimated to me that the council could not then and there dispose of the proposals that I had submitted. He indicated that it would be necesary to refer the proposals to the branches of the British Medical Association in the various States. Those consultations took some time, but in due course I received a letter from the president dated the 20th August. The letter which sets out the views of the council, is as follows: -

The Federal Council of the British Medical Association in Australia in session in Perth has considered the matters arising out of the conference in Melbourne on 3rd July, 1948

It is to be regretted that the Government has not appreciated what the Federal Council has continually submitted, viz., the importance to the patients’ interests of the right to re ceive free those medicines which, in their doctors’ judgment, they need. The Federal Council wishes again to inform you that the co-operation of the medical profession in the working of the Act can be assured once the Government agrees to allow, for the purposes of benefits under the Act, prescribing on the doctors’ own forms of drugs within the British Pharmacopoeia and any others that may be mutually agreed upon, in any dose and in any combination. Prescriptions for this pur pose could be written upon doctors’ private forms, uniform in size, in duplicate and bear ing the name and address of both the patient and the doctor.

In accordance with the undertaking given to you at the conference on the 3rd July. 1948, your proposed amendments to The Phar maceutical Benefits Act, which do not en visage the acceptance of this offer or the elimination of any of the three main objec tionable features of the Act, have been sub mitted to all State Branches of the British Medical Association and through them to every member of the. Association in Australia Having received replies from the Branches, the Federal Council is now in a position to state that no change in the attitude of mem bers of the medical profession has taken place as a result of the proposed amendments. The Federal Council wishes to make it clear that the question of voluntary co-operation in the working of The Pharmaceutical Bene fits Act is a matter for the decision of the individual member of the medical profession, voiced through the Federal Council.

In view of the fact that there is no dispute on the general principle that the people of Australia should receive free medicine, the Federal Council ventures to suggest that it would be wise for the Government to abandon the unnecessary and intolerable formalities and restrictions which are alone preventing the issue of free medicine to the people.

Finally, the Federal Council wishes to in form you that it reserves the right to make public the contents of this letter.

On the 6th September I replied to the president of the Federal Council of the association in these terms -

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of 20th August, 1948. I welcome your advice to the effect that your Council now accepts the general principle that the people of Australia should receive pharmaceutical benefits without charge.

Since the difference is confined merely to the form and scope of the scheme by which benefits are made available, I regret that your objections have been expressed in the most general terms. Your Council has not dealt in detail with the Government’s proposals made at and following the conference in Melbourne on 3rd July last.

An understanding and reconciliation of differing viewpoints is possible only by detailed consideration of the matters at issue. Accordingly I propose to discuss these briefly.

Prescription Forms.

Doctors’ Private Prescription Forms.

I note that, following my explanation of the necessity for Government forms from the viewpoint of efficient administration, your Council has agreed that prescription forms should be of uniform size, be prepared in duplicate, and bear the name and address of both the patient and the doctor.

The only question outstanding is whether the forms should be the doctors’ private forms or Government forms.

Documents upon which prescriptions for pharmaceutical benefits are written are, when passed to chemists, documents of entitlement to the receipt of money from the Commonwealth for the provision of pharmaceutical benefits to the estimated total of at least £2,000,000 per annum. I am sure you will concede the need for safeguarding as far as possible the expenditure of a sum of this order.

I summarize the Government’s main objections to the doctors’ private forms as under -

  1. There can be no control of the number of private prescription forms in circulation. Each doctor would select his own printer. There would he almost unlimited opportunities for unauthorized persons to obtain these forms, thus opening the way to forgeries involving large sums or to obtain large quantities of costly and dangerous drugs. Since an approved chemist at any place in Australia must supply a pharmaceutical benefit written by a doctor at any other place in Australia, the scope for forgery and illegal practices is greatly increased,
  2. The absence of numbers on the doctors’ forms would destroy the Base for the arrangement whereby a patient may obtain a “ repeat “ prescription from any chemist in Australia instead of being obliged to return to the chemist who dispensed the original prescription. It would also prevent a check being made to ensure that the Commonwealth was not paying for unauthorized repeats.
  3. Prescribing by doctors on the same type of form of items within and outside the formulary would result in discussions in the publicity of the chemist’s shop as to whether the prescription was to be supplied free or not. That decision is one which should be made in the doctor’s surgery where the prescrip tion originates.
  4. Use of doctor’s privateprescription forms would involve detailed examination of each one of about 20,000,000 prescriptions per annum and would entail the employment of a large staff of trained chemists, who are not available in any case, to check and cost prescriptions. The Government’s scheme requires a staff of 134, inclusive of only seventeen chemists.. The proposal of your Council would need staff and accommodation at least six times greater than those required for the Government’s scheme.

Government Forms.

These permit of central printing; identifies tion by consecutive numbering and distribution by governmental agencies. They minimize the possibility of fraud and forgery and through being numbered provide the advantage for the public that repeat” prescriptions may be dispensed anywhere in Australia.

The new forms proposed are designed to enable a doctor to overprint or stamp them with his name, address and details such as telephone number, surgery hours, in accordance with his own taste and wishes.

Under the Government’s scheme prescription forms, which are documents of entitlement, pass only from responsible hands to responsible hands.


In the light of explanations made at our conference in Melbourne, the Federal Council raised no objection to the penalties fixed by the Act. These relate to the only offence’s under the scheme which provide for a term of imprisonment.

There remain only the monetary penalties fixed by the regulations.

Some regulations include a reference to doctors acting in the capacity of chemist in an outback area where there is no practising chemist. From what was said at our conference, it is clear that’ there is acceptance of the principle that a distinction could not well be drawn between chemists, and doctors when acting as chemists, in these circumstances.

It seems to me, too, that the only issues of moment in. relation to penalties concern Regulations 11 (3) and 11 (10) to he amended as indicated at our conference.

Both, these regulations, when amended as -proposed, will be measures essential to the protection of public funds. They will provide that a doctor shall write on the. Government prescription form only a pharmaceutical benefit available under the Act and that he shall not part with possession of the forms other than to a fellow practitioner or for overprinting of the, forms with his personal, particulars.

The Formulary.

Some scores of doctors- already co-operating in. the Scheme have demonstrated in their practices that the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Formulary is sufficiently wide and flexible to provide for almost the whole of their patients’ needs, and is time saving in operation.

Government proposals- made at our conference permit of further extension of the formulary.

The medical profession, which through your Council declined to participate in the framing ut the Formularly in its original form, has been- offered the opportunity to mould the Formulary of the- future, through the predominance of medical’ men to be appointed to the Formulary Committee.

The Government Has so designed’ the’ Scheme that all doctors have complete’ clinical freedom to prescribe either inside, or outside* the Formulary, just as they have complete freedom either to participate or- not in- the Scheme itself’.. r have- set out the Government’s,- position in- some detail to -afford your. Council’ a further opportunity of considering and dealing with the points at issue.

The only contribution the doctor in practice is asked to make to the implementation of this Scheme- for the benefit of the people is that he write- his prescriptions for pharmaceutical benefits on a form provided by the- Government, with minimal necessary obligations designed solely to safeguard public funds and to1 prevent- abuse of dangerous drugs.

There is not the slightest justification for your description of these essential provisions as “ unnecessary and intolerable formalities.

Hud restrictions “.

Your. Council’s dismissal of the- Scheme in those general terms, without any attempt to justify, its- objections- in detail, leads me to conclude-that your Council is unable to. justify its objections in fact.

If I am wrong in that conclusion I. shall’ be glad to consider any suggestions your Council’ may make that will minimize- therisk of. forgery; prevent’ abuse of drugs, safeguard public funds, provide economy- in administration, audi meet the convenience of the public.

The Federal Council, by its advice to doctors not to take part in- the- Scheme and by its request - complied with by approximatelyhalf of the doctors of: Australia - not to take delivery of the forms and Formulary, must accept responsibility for denying to the people it benefit approved by- them first at a referen dum and. election in 1940, then by the Govern ment and finally by the Federal Parliament itself.

It is a matter for regret that the medical profession, so many of whose members have given much valuable and gratuitous service to the community, should be presented to the public as a body unwilling to accept a degree of social responsibility in providing a benefit, the principle of which is approved by the profession..

Hie Government has exerted its influence to restrain a; public demand for the implementation of the Scheme. In doing this it has been actuated by a desire to prevent the provision of pharmaceutical benefits resulting in. the stimulation of an. undue demand for medicaments.

Resolutions passed by responsible bodies all over Australia are being forwarded to me daily, protesting against the attitude of themedical profession; diabetics, other sufferers from. chronic complaints and patients incurring heavy expense for specifics in their treatment are writing to me in great numbers, voicing similar complaints.

This is- not a desirable state of affairs, and Before it assumes larger proportions I inviteyour Council to join with the Government in giving, effect to the Scheme.

There should-, be no need for me to point out the important part that freedom from financial worry associated with sickness playin the recovery of the patient.

Having’ regard to the absence of merit in theobjections put forward by your Council and remembering the continued opposition that hatmarked the attitude of your Council to thePharmaceutical Benefits Scheme - opposition that has extended from 1943 up to the present time - I feel impelled to inquire whether yOU Council has. objections to the Scheme which have not been disclosed to the Government.

If your Council thinks that, the Scheme ii> a step towards the nationalization of themedical’ profession, let me- repeat what I have already stated publicy.

In 1940 the Government sought power “tomake laws with respect to the provision of medical and dental benefits but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription “ : the people by referendum conferred power in these- terms: the Government did not seek power in terms which would permit of thenationalization of the medical profession: it lias no power to nationalize the* profession it has no desire to do so.

I trust that the contents of this letter will give to your Council &< better appreciation of the Government’s point of view and will lead to the. withdrawal of your Council’s - advice to its members not to co-operate in a Scheme which the Government has provided.’ at the clearly expressed will, of the people of Australia..

That letter- sets out clearly the attitude of the Government in this matter. Since I wrote- it I have’ received; from Sir

Henry Newland and intimation that he will consult his colleagues in the Federal Council of the British Medical Association regarding its contents, and I do not propose to comment further at this stage.

I pass now to discussion of some of the general principles underlying the proposals contained in the budget. Many people are worried about the size of the national budget which in pre-war years aggregated only approximately £100,000,000 per annum. It is not generally appreciated that many of the items for which provision has now to be made in the national budget did not appear in the budgets of pre-war years, and that those items have inflated post-war budgets by approximately £300,000,000 a year. Most of them will appear in the national budgets for many years to come. To-night [ propose to refer only to five of them. One of the first commitments which confronts the national Government is to provide for repayment of principal and interest of moneys borrowed for the prosecution of the Avar. Honorable senators are aware that between 1939 and 1.945, approximately £1,300,000,000 was borrowed in -order to prosecute the war, and they are also aware that every penny of that money was raised from the people of this country. No money whatever was borrowed outside Australia. Approximately £50,’000,000 per annum is required to meet the interest and unking fund payments on that debt, find an item of approximately £50,000,000 for repayment of war debts and interest charges will appear in the national budget during the remainder of our lives. [ emphasize that it is a new commitment which arose directly from the war. There has been a huge increase in the vote for social services, which has grown from £16,000,000 in 1939 to £78,000,000 during the current financial year, which is an increase of £62,000,000. Another new element in post-war budgets is income tax reimbursement. The national Government must now repay to the State governments some portion of the income tax which it collects so that the States can finance their activities. The amount which will be repaid to the States during the current financial year i» £53,700,000 and the amount will increase progressively with the increased cost of living in this country.

I come now to certain post-war and rehabilitation charges which arise directly out of the recent wai- and which will be a feature of national budgets for many years to come. Those items approximate £50,000,000 annually. The last item to which I shall refer is one of importance to everyone in the community. Because of the present condition of world affairs the Government believes that the country must be adequately defended. For that purpose it has embarked upon a comprehensive defence programme which will require the expenditure of £250,000,000 during the next five years. It follows that there will be an annual charge of approximately £50,000,000 in the national budget during the next five years. Althought I have mentioned only five new items, the expenditure in respect of them amounts to approximately £265,700,000 annually.

It is all very well for people to criticize the large volume of national expenditure, but I do not think that they realize the extent of the changes which have taken place in the financial relationships between’ the National Government and the State governments, the demands involved in the provision of adequate defence, and the huge commitments involved in the provision of pensions, repatriation and rehabilitation services for ex-service men and women. Those obligations are inescapable, and I do not think that the Australian people desire the Government to avoid them.

The budget contains tax concessions aggregating almost £29,000,000. Belief from social service contributions is provided to the amount of £80,000,000 and from ordinary income tax to the amount of £18,000,000, and there are certain other concessions which aggregate approximately £750,000. Company tax is reduced by an estimated sum of £1,500,000, ‘sales tax by almost £500,000, and excise charges by approximately £130,000. Altogether provision is made for taxes to be reduced by approximately £28,S55,000. In addition to the relief to be afforded to taxpayers in regard to income tax, substantial concessions have been, made in regard to social services contributions. I do not purport to give an exclusive list of concessions, but briefly, 1 may say that the amount payable to age and invalid pensioners has been increased, and the conditions attaching to the payment of those pensions have been liberalized by the liberalizing of the means test. Those improvements will cost the country an annual amount of £8,300,000 for some time to come. Increased child endowment will cost £6,700,000, and increase of hospital benefits will account for a further £1,400,000. The first phase of the attack on tuberculosis, which is to be made this year, will cost £600,000. The proposal to relieve mental patients and their relatives of the financial burden associated with the maintenance and treatment of the mentally afflicted will cost approximately £500,000 in a complete period of twelve months. The plan which the Government is developing for the rehabilitation of physically incapacitated persons will cost approximately £600,000 this year. The estimates which I have mentioned aggregate approximately £16,100,000, which is an enormous contribution to the social welfare of the people of this country.

As a great deal is said nowadays about taxes, and we are continually reading in the press complaints of the high rates of taxes, 1 shall explain to honorable senators the effect on the country of the Government’s tax proposals. When honorable senators realize the full extent of the Government’s tax remissions, I venture the opinion that they will be surprised, and not least at the heavy bias displayed by the Government in favour of persons with family responsibilities. There are two forms of tax on income to-day; social services contributing tax, which ranges from 3d. in the £1 to the maximum of ls. 6d.- in the £1, the proceeds of which are earmarked for the provision of social services, and are paid, not into the general revenues of the country, but into the National Welfare Fund; and the ordinary tax, which we all know as income tax. I propose now to put before the Senate the levels of exemption from both those taxes under the proposals contained in the present budget. A single man does not have to pay social service tax until his annual income amounts to £105, and he is exempt from payment of income tax if his salary is less than £351. A man with a dependent wife is exempt from payment of social service tax until his income reaches £201 per annum, and from income tax until his income reaches £501. A man with a wife and one child is exempt from payment of social service tax if his income is less than £284, and from income tax if his income is less than £614. A man with a wife and two children is exempt from social service tax unless his income reaches £318, and from payment of income tax unless he earns £669. A man with three children is exempt from payment of social service tax if his income does not amount to £351 per annum, and from income tax if his income does not amount to £726. A man with a wife and four children is exempt from social service tax up to £401 per annum, and from income tax up to £783. A man with five children is exempt from social service tax unless his income aggregates £451 per annum, and from income tax unless his income exceeds £839. I point out also that those who have two or more children under sixteen years of age are entitled to child endowment. The budget provides for an increase of the amount of child endowment from 7s. 6d. to 10s a week for each child. It will be realized that under the budget, men with family responsibilities receive substantial assistance. A man with a wife and three children pays no social service tax until his income amounts to £351, and no income tax until his income amounts to £726. However, he is entitled to child endowment of £52 or an additional £1 a week, without any obligation to pay tax of any kind. In short, a man with family responsibilities will pay the least and will receive the most.

As I move around the country I am amazed to discover how many peoplehave an eye only for the disadvantages which they may suffer. It is a trait of human nature that we prefer always tolook upon the dark side of things, but, notwithstanding that fact, I am surprised that there are so many people who have regard only to what they contribute and disregard completely the benefits which they ‘receive from the ‘payment of taxes. A number of family men have complained to me of the incidence of taxes, but in almost every instance I have been able to point out to them that not only are they not paying excessive taxes, but also that they are taking out in child endowment much more than they put in. They nearly all admitted quite frankly that they overlooked the contribution made to their family budget by child endowment. I need only mention that approximately £8S,0000,000 will be distributed this year in social service benefits, to show that the distribution of that large sum must have the effect of bringing about a levelling of incomes in the community. Two classes of people now contribute largely to income tax. Those two classes comprise taxpayers without family dependants, and taxpayers in receipt of reasonably substantial incomes, and it is a matter of deliberate design and intent on the part of the Government that they should make the greatest contribution. [ am prepared to say that only selfish, unthinking members of the community will deny that that is a proper policy. The distribution of the vast sum which [ have mentioned has certain other results, the chief of which is that the money is expended upon necessaries and is therefore .expended quickly. The very fact that such a large sum is going into circulation, and is being turned over rapidly is a prime cause of employment in the community and a great stimulus to activity. I stress the emphasis which Labour has placed on the provision of adequate social services since it assumed office in 1941. In the short space of seven years, despite the fact that it had to concentrate on prosecuting a war during the greater part of that time it has been able to double age and invalid pensions. When it assumed office an invalid pension was only 21s 6d. a week, but Labour has increased the pension to £2 2s. 6d. a week. During that period, maternity benefits have been trebled ; by two separate increases child endowment has been doubled; and Labour has also introduced a variety of new social service benefits which are essential to the welfare of the people. The Government was respon- sible for ‘.the introduction of widows’” pensions, -of ‘.unemployment and sickness benefits, of .hospital benefits and -also of private hospital benefits, to say nothing of “the pharmaceutical .benefits that will be available to the community when the medical profession decides to co-operate It has embarked on an ambitious tuberculosis plan designed not only to do justice to the people afflicted with that disease, but also to protect healthy persons in the community. It also introduced allowances to wives and children and funeral benefits for age and invalid pensioners. While all that has been done the Government is still concerned with the health of the people. I spoke of ‘the new proposals in the budget in relation to health. They are a development of very recent date, but I would like to refresh the minds of honorable senators on that matter. It will be remembered that the quarantine ring around Australia is a vast and hitherto very successful contribution to the protection of the health of the people of this country. Recently ‘the Government authorized the establishment of a Division of Child Health in the “Department of Health, provided for the establishment of an Institute of Child Health at the Sydney University, and a Unit of Industrial Hygiene in the same university. Acoustic laboratories have also been established in all of the mainland capital cities. The Government has now embarked upon .a campaign against tuberculosis, in respect of which legislation will soon be introduced into this chamber, and it has in contemplation very important proposals in relation to national health and a national dental service. I mention these matters as new developments, and, tending as they -do to protect the .health of the people of this country, they ;are a very important .contribution to the well-being of our people.

I have already pointed out that in the levying of taxes a bias :has been given in favour of “persons with family responsibilities. .1 invite honorable senators to :consider for :a moment the social service benefits in .the same direction. The Government recognizes very clearly .’that the important thing in Australia to-day is to establish, :foster -and develop the family unit.

That is the unit upon which the whole of our society is based. If honorable senators follow the pattern of social security that has been introduced, they will find that it, too, has been heavily biased in favour of the person with family responsibilities. There is provided a maternity allowance at a minimum of £15 for the mother with her first child, and hospital treatment completely free if she is in a public hospital, and. a benefit of 8s. a day if the is in a private hospital. It is completely true that most of the mothers of Australia to-day come from a hospital out of debt to their doctor, out of debt to their hospital, with a cheque, and plus the baby, which is a very desirable state of affairs. When the second child comes along there is provision for it by way of child endowment. To ensure the peace of mind of the breadwinner of the family, unemployment and sickness benefits are provided. He is secured against the normal risks of living. As the children grow, if they are bright children, the Government makes provision for their education at universities should their parents not be able to finance courses.

In embarking upon that plan of social services; in stimulating migration to this country to provide for its development ; in ensuring full employment from one end of the country to the other for the first time in the history of Australia in its action to ensure that the credit control of this country shall be in responsible national hands; and in providing, through the National Works Council, in collaboration with the States, that there shall be a reserve of national developmental works to cost more than £300,000,000 this Government is deliberately setting up buttresses against any depression, and is looking ahead to ensure the protection of the people should we again be unfortunate enough to experience a recession or depression.

Senator Fraser:

– It is skilful planning.

Senator McKENNA:

– I do not disagree with Senator Fraser. I merely say that these things do not happen of their own accord, but are the result of deliberate planning, and foresight.

The Government has shown concern for the welfare of the great masses of the people of this country, and has been active in providing for their social security and health. In the few brief thoughts that I have put before the Senate to-night there is ample evidence of the fact that this Government, with all the difficulties that it has faced, domestically and internationally, has made a vast contribution to healthy, happy living for our people.

QueenslandDeputy Leader of the Opposition

– I have great pleasure in congratulating Senator Critchley on the discourse he gave to the Senate in regard to the merits of Queensland. It was good to hear an honorable senator from another State praise the great natural resources of Queensland. He appeared quite happy to let the rest of Australia known something about its potentialities. I hope that when matters affecting Queensland come before the Senate in the future, Queensland senators will be able to rely for support, not only on Senator Critchley, but also on honorable senators from other States.

Senator Sheehan:

– The Australian Labour party looks after Queensland.


– The north of Queensland really bore the brunt and the strain of war during the period when Australia was faced with invasion by the Japanese. Over 2,000,000 American troops passed through Queensland, and many of them were billeted there. The people of Queensland, particularly in the far north and outback districts, suffered the greatest privations and hardships of any people in the Commonwealth during the war years, and I trust that the Commonwealth will, before long, express in a practical way its appreciation of the very vital part that north Queensland must play in any considered scheme of defence for Australia. That applies particularly to the. people who are living there and working as employees. They are entitled to every consideration. I cannot understand why people living in those outback parts - as if that in itself is not a sufficient handicap - have to pay exorbitant prices for the every-day necessaries of life. Refrigerators, electric energy and other amenities which help to make life bearable in those areas are very costly.

Similarly, the cost of taking their wives and families to the seaside for a change and some relief from the torrid temperatures of the western summers is, in many instances, beyond the financial resources of the men who live there.

I propose to refer to industries in the north of Queensland, which call for sympathetic and understanding treatment by the Government. I presume that honorable senators have an idea of the background of the sugar industry, and therefore I do not propose to give a lengthy discourse upon it. Briefly, in Queensland there are 32 sugar mills; the remaining three sugar mills in Australia are in New South. Wales. Those mills, and the growers who supply them, provide the whole of the requirements of sugar for the Australian population. A.s honorable senators know, Australia is a very important exporter of sugar, and in 1937 received a basic export quota of 400,000 tons of sugar. The net value of sugar exports for the five years from 1.935-36 to 1939-40, totalled approximately £19,000,000. There are approximately 9,000 cane-farmers in Queensland ; the average sugar-cane farm comprises about 50 acres whilst the value of land, farm equipment, and milling machinery is about £55,000,000. The millers have provided over 200 locomotives and 31,000 trucks for use on. the 2-ft. gauge tramways to transport to the mills a substantial proportion of the cane harvested. The cane is also transported by motor trucks and over the “-ft. 6-in. gauge Queensland railways. If Australia can again export that International Sugar Agreement quota of 400,000 tons and the export price remains as at present, the export value would probably exceed £10,000,000 a year. It is estimated that the gross value of the 1.947 sugar crop will be approximately £14,000,000 and when production is again in full swing it is possible that the total gross value of the crop may reach between £.18,000,000 and £21,000,000 annually. The early reconstruction of the industry and the restoration of at least pre-war levels of production are essential to the well-being of the industry, and the economy, not only of Queensland, but of Australia as a whole. If a satisfactory labour quota is provided and there is no difficulty in regard to wharf loading, there is every prospect of the industry being maintained on an “ even keel “, but if there is to be trouble in regard to loading, or the labour necessary for cutting the cane, the industry as well as the Queensland and Australian economy, will be very seriously disturbed. Those engaged in the sugar industry are appreciative of the assistance given to them by both the Labour Government of Queensland and the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) by the supply of additional cane-cutters. The Baits who have been engaged in that industry there have, from all accounts, settled into a very happy, useful and contented Australian way of life. Difficulty always faces an industry that relies on fixed prices. As honorable senators know, the price of sugar was recently increased from 4d. to 4£d. per lb. as the result of legislation which was introduced by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice): Since then the industry has been faced with additional costs arising from an increase of freight charges. There was recently a 7s. a ton increase in shipping freights on sugar. The cane-growers will be forced to carry 70 per cent, of that cost. To relate this increased freight to sugar used for human consumption would result in an increased charge of £175,000 per annum, or ls. a ton of cane used for the manufacture of sugar for home consumption. The growers would be obliged to pay approximately 8½d. a ton of cane, which would represent an additional burden of over £22 for each grower. The growers view this with grave concern. It would be fairer to them if, instead of having to wait for the price of sugar cane to be fixed for a certain period as is the practice al present, the price were to be fixed from time to time automatically in relation to the cost of production. That is the only fair way to meet the claims of the industry. In 1933, the retail price of sugar was reduced from 4½d. per lb. to 4d. per lb. That reduction was restored only last year, that is after a period of fourteen years. The increase of id. per lb. is equivalent to £4 13s. 4d. a ton of refined sugar out of which the industry has to meet shipping freight as the rate of 10s. a ton and this cost results from the discontinuance of the subsidy previously paid in respect of shipping f eights. In addition, the sum of 10s. 8d. has to be provided in order to make up the wholesalers and retailers’ margins, and the growers now have to meet an additional payment of 7s. a ton. It is obvious that the charges which the board must meet in the marketing of raw sugar will result in a still further reduction of the return to the grower. Earlier I referred to the slow turn round of ships. Honorable senators may have seen in yesterday’s press a reference to this matter by spokesmen for the industry emphasizing that it will be faced with a very serious state of affairs unless the rate of loading is greatly accelerated. The following statement was issued recently by Mr. C. W. Rothe, general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited, Mr. E. T. S. Pearce, general secretary of the Australian Sugar Producers Association, and Mr. R. Muir, general secretary of the Australian Canegrowers Council -

The whole industry is very gravely concerned at the difficulties confronting the shipment both interstate and overseas of sugar through the north Queeusland ports in the next twelve months, because of the slow rate of handling sugar by waterside workers. Their daily handling rate is less than half the regular pre-war rate despite the concessions granted to watersiders in the shape of better conditions, shorter hours, appearance money, etc.

All sections of the industry have collaborated to present to the Stevedoring Industry Commission a clear picture of the problem and the Commission is considering the matter.

The present cane crop will for the first time be back to the normal pre-war level, capable of yielding 800,000 tons of raw sugar and, owing to the recent Queensland waterfront strike, there is, in addition, a huge carry-over of 120,000 tons of old season’s sugar awaiting shipment. In order to prevent a catastrophe, the sugar must be shipped at about a 55 per cent, faster rate than last year.

If sugar cannot be shipped at a faster rate than achieved last season, approximately onethird of the cane crop in north Queensland, equivalent to about 211,000 tons of sugar worth £6,000,000 will be lost, causing enormous financial loss to the producers and a grevious reduction in the quantity of sugar available for the British Ministry of Food where the ration is at the very low level of 8 oz. per head per week.

It has been pointed out to the Commission that this would be a very serious moral default on the part of Australia as a whole. The cane has been grown and the Ministry of Food is arranging the vessels to take all available export sugar. The problem is to obtain the necessary improvement in the work of the watersiders in order to load these vessels fast enough.

I urge the Government to give earnest consideration to that statement. In view of what I have said, honorable senators opposite, no doubt, will suggest that 1 am castigating the members of some poor, hard working, industrious section of the community who cannot defend themselves and whom they will feel obliged to champion. However, I have only stated facts. It is clear that because of the slow rate of loading this vital industryis now facing disaster.

Senator Grant:

– What about the profits of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited?


– Those profits, whatever they may be, could not justify inflicting upon the unfortunate cane-growers the loss which they will suffer through the destruction of the greater part of their crop. I appeal to the Minister responsible to see what can be done to expedite the rate of loading. As recently as the 14th of this month the Brisbane Telegraph published the following report: -

page 491



Sugar shipments from North Queensland for the four months from May till August fell 34,000 tons short of the target of 282,000 tom, it was announced in Brisbane to-day.

The sugar industry has been mainly responsible for populating the area north of Mackay. That area is of vital importance to Australia as a whole. Of the settled portions of the Commonwealth, it is nearest to the teeming millions to the north of the continent who would probably be the spearhead of any invasion that might confront this country. The industry is entitled to every consideration not only by the Government of Queensland but also by the Australian Government.

I shall now deal with the cotton industry. Climatic and soil conditions in Queensland are ideally suited to the growing of raw cotton. If the industry is adequately encouraged I can see no reason why Australia’s requirements of cotton cannot be supplied by the cottongrowers in Queensland within a reasonable period of years. We hear a lot about the urgency of conserving dollars by doing without commodities which are not absolutely essential, and finding substitutes for’ other commodities. However, we are expending millions of pounds annually on the importation of cotton. Under a planned programme extending over a number of years these imports could be supplied by the industry in Queensland. The bounty on cotton, excluding made-up goods, amounted to approximately £3,000,000 annually for the period for which it was paid. I take this opportunity to place before the Senate the following information which I’ quote from an article by the financial editor of the Brisbane Courier Mail of the 20th August last -

While a huge dollar deficit is piled up and millions of Australian pounds go in subsidy on imports every year, our own cotton industry is left by Canberra to die. . . .

Queensland, the only cotton State, is producing only 1,000 bales of raw cotton a year. Lt once produced ten to twelve times that quantity.

Australia’s annual imports are more than 70,000 bales. Even that meets little more than half the full estimated needs. And it does not take into account the equivalent of 250,000 bales that comes in as piece goods.

Supplies are being brought in from wherever they can be got - raw cotton from the United States, Brazil, India, Egypt; spun yarn from Britain, Belgium, Brazil, Italy. . . .

Do honorable senators realize the value in dollars we are losing in this way? We are now suffering this loss because the cotton industry in Queensland has been allowed to languish. The article continues -

On every pound that comes in Commonwealth subsidy is paid. It applies to raw cotton as well as to cotton manufactures. And although Commonwealth price control is in the discard, these subsidies are still being paid on cotton shipped from abroad before the 31st July, and due here about the middle of September. . . .

It is estimated that the subsidy on raw cotton alone has cost the Federal Treasury at least £3,000.000 a year, while not less than £10,000,000 to £15,000,000 has been disbursed annually in import subsidies on the manufactured side.

The value of the industry will be appreciated when we realize that for every 1,000 bales by which production can be increased in Australia we would save, on present prices, £66,000 a year in purchase* now made overseas. The Queensland cotton target is an annual production of 25,000 bales within a limited number of years, provided the industry is adequately assisted. However, at present it is waning. Already, production has fallen to only 1,600 bales, the reason being thai producers in areas which are suitable for the efficient production of cotton cannot afford to do so unless they are guaranteed a minimum payable price for a period of five years. The price they receive today is 22d. or 23d. per lb., whereat world parity is 6Sd. or 69d. per lb. ] urge the Government to give earnest con>sideration to the problem of putting the industry on a sound basis. That can be done by guaranteeing a minimum payable price for a period of five years. 1 do not suggest what a fair price would be; that is a matter for determination by experts. By that means, we should save our Australian economy a tremendous amount in respect of overseas purchases involving the expenditure of dollars.

Another industry which is flourishing in north Queensland in spite of many difficulties is the tobacco industry. Again, however, the growers do not receive a payable price. I am informed by men who claim to be experts in such matters that the texture and quality of tobacco leaf grown at Texas in south-west Queensland and at Mareeba in the far north of Queensland, is equal to that of leaf grown anywhere else in the world. It is a matter for great regret that the Australian Government has done so little to foster the industry or to improve the quality of the leaf if room exists for such improvement. The Government should do two things: First, through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, it should place at the disposal of the industry experts to advise grower* with respect to the choice of soil and the most suitable class of leaf to be grown; and, secondly, it should guarantee a minimum payable price which will assure growers a reasonable livelihood. I commend that suggestion to the Govern, ment. Listening to the budget debate in this chamber, one would imagine that Government supporters either have not read the speech delivered by the Prime

Minister (Mr. Chifley) in the House of Representatives, or having read it, they do not believe it. It would appear from what has been said in this chamber that any suggestion that all is not well with the Australian economy is sheer nonsense ; that things have never been better, brighter or happier, and that everybody Ls behaving and pulling his weight in his own sphere of industry. But what did the Prime Minister say ? He said -

Two main factors are causing shortages which now dominate our supply and production problem. One is the coal situation which I shall discuss presently, and the other is the insufficient output of certain key industries on which many other industries, depend, coal, iron, steel, timber.

Those shortages are of vital importance to every dependent industry. If coal is not mined, steel cannot be made. If steel is not produced, there will inevitably be a shortage of many commodities necessary in home building. If transport is inadequate, then even though commodities are produced, they will not reach their proper destinations. Conditions are far from satisfactory in both production and transport. Monetarily speaking, we are enjoying financial buoyancy. The budget indicates that our national income has increased by £276,000,000- a colossal riseand that the value of our exports has risen by more than £102,000,000 a year. Wages and salaries have increased by £131,000,000 and civilian employment has increased by 100,000. Revenue will rise this year almost to the £500,000,000 mark. These figures appear very encouraging,, but they are not quite so good when one examines them closely. The budget does not show that compared with the 1938-39 levels, prices of our export commodities have increased by more than 300 per cent. Even since June of last year, there has been an increase of 44 per. cent. But how has unit production fared? If national production has actually increased to the degree indicated by the figures in the budget, why is there still a. shortage of many- commodities? That many essential goods are still in short supply is undeniable. An examination of figures provided by the Commonwealth Statistician shows that there has been a decline in unit production, particularly in primary industries. There may have been some shortages in pre-war years due, perhaps, to seasonal conditions5or to droughts^ but the truth is thattoday, unit production is considerably less, mainly because high taxes have destroyed incentive to produce. Whether’ or not that attitude is commendable, the” facts must be faced. We all know that* there is a widespread feeling abroad - “Why work for Chifley? I’ve had it”. This may be an unpatriotic or unmoral attitude, but it is very prevalent. Figures made available by the Commonwealth Statistician and published frequently in the press, show that unit production of butter, cheese, mutton and practically every other primary product has been steadily declining. That is a matter of grave concern. Take, for instance, the Australian iron and steel industry, which does not depend upon raw materials from overseas. This industry produces basic items for use in dependent industries including those engaged in the manufacture of commodities required by primary producers. One of the reasons for the decline in primary production ii the lack of essential materials. In 1941- 42 the monthly production of pig iron was 129,803 tons; in June of this year production was only 89,000 tons. A similar decline has occurred in the production of steel. In 1941-42 the monthly production was 141,384 tons, whereas in June of this year it had f allen to 101,136 tons. Similar decreases have occurred in other industries. In industry to-day is there the continuity of work that is so essential if demands are to be met ? Some honorable senators opposite appear to believe that production is satisfactory and that there is no reason for perturbation. I am glad to say that the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) and the Prime Minister do not share that’ view. In fact they are very much concerned about the industrial position. I do not wish to misquote the Prime Minister; but I think that he referred to some hold-ups in the industry as “ petty and piffling “. Undoubtedly, that is what the man in the street thinks. Unfortunately, the ordinary citizen, who is not a party to these repeated industrial disturbances, is usually the one who suffers most when they occur; It is incumbent on the Government to give to these people greater protection than they have enjoyed in the past. The Government took a bold step when it handed control of the coal-mining industry to the Joint Coal Board, an authority set up within the industry itself. However, when a dispute arose in the mines and, according to press reports, the Coal Industry Tribunal had not concluded hearing the evidence in the case, the Government intervened, frustrating the instrumentality that it had created to bring peace and discipline into the industry. Actions such as that inevitably bring not only the Government, but also the Parliament into disrepute. The Coal Industry Tribunal is a statutory body, but it has not been permitted to function free from government interference. If the tribunal cannot function efficiently, then let us alter its constitution by introducing amending legislation into the Parliament. Let us know what is happening. At present, all wc know about the matter is what we read in the press. Apparently the tribunal was about to enforce some discipline where previously there had existed only industrial anarchy, but before it could complete its investigations the Government stepped in, thus destroying the authority of its own creature. By all means let us have justice in industry. It is not for the Government to fix wages and conditions of labour, but it can so legislate that these matters shall be determined by a generous, independent authority free from the whims and caprices of whatever government may be in office. That authority must be clothed with sufficient power to ensure that complete justice shall be done to employer and employee alike; but once an award has been made, it must be obeyed. There will be nothing but chaos so long as there is one rule for one party to a dispute, and a completely different rule for the other party. Industrial conciliation and arbitration can only be held up to ridicule unless the edicts of the courts are enforced. They are enforced against employers, and I call upon the Government to ensure that they shall be enforced against the employees. Has there been any improvement in industrial conditions during the last few years? I shall compare figures for 1946 with those for 1948. In those two years, industrial disputes have increased by 78 per cent., and the number of establishments in which disputes have taken place has increased by 1,670 per cent. I ask honorable senators to bear those figures in mind because from them I propose to draw an inference showing that those disputes are part of the plan of our industrial wreckers. In the coal-mining industry disputes increased by 117 per cent. In shipping, and on the wharfs, the number of establishments affected increased by 1,150. In 1938, there were 376 disputes affecting 143,000 workers.


– I have no figures for that year, although I should like to have them. In 1946 there were S69 disputes affecting 350,000 employees, and the number of establishments in which disputes took place had increased from 528 to 1,882. In 1947 there were 9S2 disputes affecting 327,000 employees. My point is that this shocking increase of industrial disturbances and the number of establishments in which they took place indicates a definite plan by the Communist wreckers to bring chaos and disaffection into industry. I am quite prepared to accept the word of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) that he hates to have disturbances in industry. I had the opportunity recently to hear the Prime Minister state his opinions about the reason* for this spread of industrial anarchy. I have my own views as to what should be done about it. I may be entirely wrong. But, if we are sincere, whether we oppose the Government or support it. we cannot afford to sit down and say that nothing will be done. I call upon the Government when there are definite breaches of the existing law - as there have been from time to time of both the Crimes Act and the ordinary criminal code - to implement the law and make sure that it is obeyed. If the law is unduly oppressive, unfair, or silly, it should be withdrawn or amended, but while it is regarded as fair and reasonable it should be obeyed. There is much to be said for those who give reasons why the Communists, as a body, should be banned, but it is not for me at this time and place to express my opinion on that subject. The proposal would perhaps be very difficult to implement.

But, if the Communists commit an overt act of sabotage, disloyalty, sedition, or industrial frustration, they are lawbreakers and the Government should enforce the law. They should be prosecuted, not because they are Communists, but because they violate the just laws of our land. They are bringing chaos into our industries and misery into our homes, and eventually they will bring bankruptcy to our country.

Much has been said about the Government’s magnanimous reduction of taxation. But where is it? There is to be a reduction representing approximately £25,000,000 a year, but nevertheless in 1.948-49 the hungry Treasurer will take from the taxpayers, in direct and indirect taxes, £35,000,000 more than he took from them last year. He declares to the people - and, goodness me, we can scarcely see his head for his halo - “ What a great man am I! I am taking £35,000,000 more from you than I took last year, but I am going to let you believe that I am granting you a reduction of £25,000,000 “.

Senator Lamp:

– We shall benefit by a quid “ a week.


– I do not know what the effect will be on our income range, but I shall cite a few figures affecting lower incomes. A man with a wife and two children who earns £500 a year will be granted the magnificent reduction of £8 lis. a year - a little more than 3s. a week. Does the Government expect him to fly into an ecstasy of delight? What rubbish! A man with a wife and two children who earns £600 a year will pay £10 7s. a year less income tax, a saving of almost 5s. a week. Yet the Government’s supporters shout, What a magnificent budget ! “. This budget is really a very sad one from the Australian point of view. Nobody begrudges the little tax relief that will be given, and nobody objects to the petty increases that will be given to pensioners and recipients of child endowment. The tragic fact is that, in spite of the almost royal buoyancy of our revenue, not one farthing is being saved. We are on a spree from which somebody will wake up with a tremendous headache, if we wake up at all. The Government has the silly idea that it can spend our money more wisely than we ourselves can spend it. The Treasurer says to the taxpayers, “ A tax reduction will lead to inflation “. What he really means is, “ You earn the money, and I will spend it because, if you spend it, there will be inflation, whereas if I, the Treasurer, spend it there will not be inflation The people are tired of allowing a prodigal Treasurer to spend their hard-earned money. If these tax remissions and pension increases were the result of reduced expenditure, I should be very happy indeed to congratulate the Treasurer. However, we are flying in the face of Providence. There is no guarantee that present buoyant prices shall continue. They cannot rise much higher, and, if anything happens to the prices of our wool, wheat and other primary export commodities, we shall be faced with absolute ruin. Our revenue will not be comparable in any way with the buoyant revenue that we have now. I appeal to the Government to effect, some economy.

I ask honorable senators to bear in mind, from the figures appearing in the budget, the total amounts of our national income and our taxation. They will realize that the Commonwealth’s share of the total income is over 30 per cent. Yet leading world economists say that no government can take more than 25 per cent, of the national income without risking financial chaos. I quote from the Economic News, a very reliable and accurate publication -

A study of the data available for various countries indicates that the critical level of taxation is about 25 per cent, of the national income, or possibly rather less in countries like Australia where income is fairly evenly distributed and there are few big fortunes to tax.

That view has been expressed by several famous economists. In spite of that, the Commonwealth takes more than 30 per cent, of the national income. Only one thing can follow from that. The people on fixed incomes, such as pensioners, will eventually bear the whole brunt of this wild and ruthless extravagance. Another interesting comment on the subject is published in the Economic News. It states -

This last alternative-

That is, the spiralling of costs - is -what will in fact happen if the Commonwealth Government continues to take the line of least resistance and to avoid the necessary but unpopular task of cutting its expenditure programme. In other words, the main part of the burden will be quite unfairly placed on -pensioners and other fixed income recipients. Attempts to compensate them for rising prices out of the budget will merely start a fresh cycle of inflation. No amount of financial ingenuity will make the Australian people in peace-time pay 30 per cent, of the country’s entire national income in taxation.

The Government is going quietly along its way because, for the present, it has the numbers necessary to enforce its will. However, it will not remain long in that position. It must not be allowed to remain in power if the country is to survive, because our rate, of public expenditure cannot possibly be maintained. I do not agree for a moment that the Treasurer knows better than I do what to do with my money, and I believe that most taxpayers are in sympathy with me. However, if the right honorable gentleman proposes to maintain the present oppressive burden of taxation, for goodness sake let him build up some reserve for the rainy day which will come if there is any sudden drop of overseas prices. Unless he does so there will be nothing but chaos.

Much has been said about the splendid increase of civil employment, but it is shameful that so much of that employment is provided by the Public Service. I make perfectly clear, as I have done previously, that I have nothing but the highest respect for the efficiency, loyalty, and capacity of our regular public servants.

Senator Ashley:

– The honorable senator kicks them, and then he wants to kiss them !


– Since the Labour party has been in power, there has been a colossal increase, of the number of temporary public servants. These may include some of the honorable senator’s appointees. The increase has been so rapid that there are now 50 per cent, more temporary employees than permanent employees in the Public Service. Recently, the Associated Chambers of Commerce asked the Prime Minister to stop this continual snowballing process.

The Prime Minister replied in words to this effect, “You suggest how we can reduce the Public Service. I have been guided by the Public Service Board”. The Public Service Board does not dictate the policy of the Government. If some “ screw-ball “ in the Ministry decides that he wants another department or sub-department and that he needs staff to man it, it is certainly not the function of the Public Service Board to tell him that he is “ nuts “. The board might tell him that he wants too many men for the particular foolish experiment on which he proposes to embark, but if the Government decided that the particular department or sub-department suggested should be established, then it would be established whether the Public Service Board consented or not. For that reason, it is grossly unfair for supporters of the Government to attempt to cast upon the Public Service Board responsibility foi the grossly inflated number now employed in the- Public Service. At the present time private enterprise is fairly shrieking for man-power. Whilst it may be a good thing in a time of depression or emergency for the Government to afford relief to the community by providing employment, that justification certainly does noi apply at present.

In his budget speech the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) emphasized that our shortages are due in no small part to scarcity of labour; yet the increase of the number of government departments is proceeding in a continuing spiral. I do not know the latest score, but the number of departments and sub-departments now in existence is entering the realm of Bradman’s scores, and this process has continued ever since Labour assumed office. Men are being taken out of private enterprise, where they are engaged in normal production which is of real value to the community, and are given tasks which turns them into deadheads on the public pay-roll. I have no doubt that, in due course, my remarks concerning the Public Service will be grossly misrepresented, but I make no apology for saying that whilst I have a great admiration for our permanent Public Service, I have no time at all for this creature of the Government, which is simply part of th+pattern of the completely socialized state.

If”, and when, the Australian Labour party’s platform of socializing the means of production, distribution and exchange is implemented all of us shall be in the hands of the Government, and shall become public servants.

The Government and its supporters, with amazing complacency, express satisfaction with what they have done to provide for the defence of the country. I wonder if they noticed the caption “ Britain Be-arming “, which appeared in to-day’s evening press, and the reports of the decision of the Government of the United States of America to expand its permanent army to approximately 2,000,000 members. Incidentally, that number does not include those engaged in the other armed services and in the general reserve. It is certainly true that we are spending a great deal of money on defence - not the Go’ernment’s money, but our own money, because it is quite plain that that money is being taken from the taxpayers. Wherever Ave go Ave see advertisements such as “ Join the Army”, but the real point is: What effective action is being taken to provide the nucleus of an army? Our experts have told us that if another Avar occurs - and God grant that it Wi 11 not - it will come without warning, and we shall be given no breathing space, such as we had in 1939, in which to prepare. Recently, I read a press announcement, purporting to have the authority of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), which stated, “ Shock force for Australia of 4,500 “. That announcement was referred to by the president of the Returned Servicemen’s League in Queensland as a “ Shock farce of 4,500 “. Fancy 4,500 men comprising the army of this country! The most amazing feature of the Government’s defence policy is that while it is expressing satisfaction with its efforts the whole world is re-arming. [Extension of time granted..’] I thank the Senate for the courtesy extended to me. On present indications, another war can emanate from only one quarter. Because of that fact, it is imperative that the closest co-operation shall be established between our defence experts and those of the United Kingdom, the other members of the British Commonwealth, and the great republic of the United

States of America. I do not know what is. being done in that connexion, and, because of the need to protect our national interests, it would not be wise to publish details. However, the Government should give some indication that it is consulting its experts, and is implementing the suggestions made by those experts. I do not know whether General Sir Thomas Blarney is one of the Government’s experts, but he certainly has a very poor opinion of the effort being made by the Government to defend the country in time of war. General Blarney, Viscount Montgomery and other world leaders are fearful of the occurrence of another, and more dreadful, war. We should not lightly disregard the considered opinions of such men, and our defence programme should be co-ordinated by adopting the advice of the defence experts of all the countries that are likely to be aligned with us in the event of war occurring.

I was most concerned at the announcement made by the Government that it intends to assume a monopoly of the new frequency modulation radio transmission. Although there is in existence a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Broadcasting, I do not know whether or not the Government’s decision was made on the recommendation of that committee. If the Government’s decision is based on a recommendation of the committee, then the committee, in its report, has failed to make clear the fact that it made such a recommendation. The Government’s disregard of the parliamentary committee is but another instance of the contemptuous regard which it has for the Parliament. That is something which is calculated to lower and damage the prestige of the Parliament. If parliamentary committees such as the Broadcasting Committee are established with statutory authority, why should they not be permitted to discharge their normal function in matters such as this? Tho announcement to which I have referred should not have been made by the Government until it had considered the report of the standing committee. Of course. whether or not it accepted the report of the committee is another matter, but the Parliament should at least have the opportunity of considering the report.

Such disregard of parliamentary institutions is but another of the steps which lead towards the complete serf .State.

A great deal has been said by the Government about “ security “, and no Australian citizen will deny the obligation of the Government to maintain the national security, or the obligation of the citizen te wards the Government in such a matter. Those obligations are mutual, and it is the duty and the function of the Government to ensure that none of the citizens who find themselves in want through misfortune, or some circumstance, such as sickness, over which they have no control, shall suffer. There is an obligation on the country to look after them; but that does not mean that we should make our people pension-minded. I realize that our pensions are small, but we should offer our people in their youth something more, something bigger and better, than the prospect of a pension when they get old. What youth wants is opportunity, but to-day youth is being denied full opportunity.

We have before us the prospect of the Government establishing a monopoly of frequency modulation transmission, which will have the effect of putting off the air the commercial, or B class, broadcasting stations, which have been the pioneers of radio broadcasting. Although I have no doubt that the public will loyally stand by those who can give them the best service, 1 must say that it is typical of the arrogance of the Government that its members feel themselves justified in adopting what they believe to be a more modern method of radio transmission without any regard for the B class stations, the pioneers of radio transmission, which they propose to leave out in the cold. I think that the people will take a very poor view of the Government’s action when they get an opportunity to express an opinion.

Then we have the proposal to establish a Commonwealth line of steamships. Again the Government seeks to justify its proposals on the ground of “ security “. But the people in gaol have security; they are housed, clothed and fed. Surely it i» not desired that we shall all be placed in one huge gaol where there is only one boss, the State? I warn honorable senators that economic socialism cannot exist side by side with political democracy. If we introduce economic socialism we shall destroy political democracy. If economic socialism is tq be carried to its logical conclusion, we shall have only one employer and one master, the State ; and if any one of us loses his job then out he goes. If we ever reach such a pass we can say good-bye for ever to political democracy.

Senator MORROW:

– I propose first of all to deal with some of the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan). He advocates the same old tactic of using force to get the best out of people. He is living in the past and he does not realize that to-day people are better educated, and will not stand for the use of force as it was practised in the days of Port Arthur. He said a great deal about putting the law into operation, and suggested that disputes were holding up industry. Although he did not say it in so many words, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition implied that most of the disputes are caused by the workers. He is taking a view which is typical of what appears in the newspapers. It is realized that the papers to-day are engaged in a campaign to condemn the working people of this country. The Opposition parties realize that if they are not able to regain the treasury bench at an early date, they will be finished for all time, and the newspapers do not hesitate to publish a few lies condemning the Government of this country. I heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition say that there was an increase of 117 per cent, in the number of disputes in the coal-mining industry. Again that implied that we lost coal because the workers were responsible for those disputes. I wonder if the honorable senator realizes the actual position in the coal industry. The miners have been condemned by the newspapers from one end of the country to the other, but the mining industry is the basis of all other industry in this country to-day; in fact, it is the life-blood of Australia. Were it not for the miners we should not be in such a favorable position. The national income is bouyant, amounting to £1,870,000,000, as compared with £839,000,000 when the present Opposition was in office. The miners contribute a great deal towards this national income. They are doing a very good job; they are producing more coal now per man than ever before in the history of Australia. Employees in the coal-mining industry in 1926 numbered 24,781 and they produced 10,885,766 tons of coal, or an average of 439 tons a man. In 1947, there were 17,400 employees who produced 11,683,123 tons. Honorable senators will see from those figures that man-power was reduced by about 7,000, yet nearly L,000,000 tons more was produced in L947 than in 1926. Despite that, honorable senators of the Opposition contend that the miners are going slow, or will not work. A psychological outlook has been developed among the working people so that they now say, “What is the use of our working hard, going on producing and producing? We get no credit for it “. Coal-miners frequently work at places two miles from the pit-head, under dangerous conditions, and in dark and hot places. The parasites, the directors of mining companies, who do not produce one thing, then say that the miners will not work !

When I was in Sydney recently, I travelled by ferry from Mosman to Circular Quay, During the crossing I conversed with a woman, who said, “ Things are very bad, aren’t they ? “ I said, “ In what way?” She said, “The miners won’t work; they won’t get the coal out “. I said, “ What has that to do with you ? “ She said, “ My husband is one of the directors of a coal mine “. I said, “ Does he own a coal mine ? “, and she said, “ Yes “. I then said, “ Does he want the coal?” She replied, “Yes”. [ then said to her, “ Well, why does he not go down into the mine and dig it out?”

Senator O’sullivan:

– That is the kind of thing I expected that the honorable senator would say; it is most unintelligent.

Senator MORROW:

Senator O’sullivan apparently does not like the truth, When I was at the coal-fields recently another woman there told me that after her husband has gone to work she lives in dread of hearing a knock at the door, and someone telling her that he has been killed in the mine. Yet we have people blaming the workers who go down into the bowels of the earth, risking their lives to hew coal. I agree with the coal-miners, that they should have a “ better spin “ ; and the sooner they get it the better it will be for all concerned.

The Deputy-Leader of the Opposition complained that the Government is not subsidizing certain industries in Queensland. Yet he complains about the Government taxing people for the purpose of assisting to carry on the industry of this country, and that taxation is too high. Honorable senators to-night heard the scale of taxation read out in this chamber. So far as the useful people are concerned, taxation should be low. By “ useful “, I mean those who produce the commodities of this country.

We have heard it said that the production of steel is falling off. I was astounded to read yesterday that Mr. Hoskins, general manager of the Australian Iron and Steel Company Limited at Port Kembla, had congratulated the workers in that plant on breaking several production records. I was also surprised to read about increased productivity in this country, particularly by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. The figures published by that company reveal that in 1944 it made a profit of £873,969. In 1947 the profit made was £1,163,473, whilst in 1948 the profit rose to £1,241,504. Yet we are told that the men will not work. Let us consider how those profits were made possible. Obviously they are the direct result of the efforts of the workers. My impression is that honorable senators of the Opposition make statements in a manner calculated to curry favour with particular newspapers. The attitude of the people to-day, however, is that whenever a statement appears in a newspaper, they regard the opposite meaning as being correct. Unfortunately, newspapers to-day are frequently guilty of publishing misrepresentations, distortions, half-truths, and whole lies. Consequently many workers consider that if they disbelieve what they read in the newspapers, they will be on the right track.

Senator -Grant. - They showed that in the elections in Tasmania.

Senator MORROW:

– Yes. Although the Liberals tried by every known trickby distortion and misrepresentation, and by having “ door-knockers “ going around the country; by arranging for the “Bengal Tiger”’, as Mr. R. G. Casey is called, to go to Tasmania - to influence the electors a minority vote for the antiLabour candidates was recorded in every district that he visited. Undoubtedly the Opposition is on the wane.

The budget is to be admired because at the present time this Government has no means of obtaining revenue other than by taxation. Following the war, the Government desired to utilize about £100,000,000 worth of machinery which was lying idle in order to overcome shortages by producing articles at reasonable prices for the people of Australia. However, the Liberal party, the newspapers and other anti-Labour forces combined to advise the people to reject the proposal at the referendum, and unfortunately the people were misled and accepted that advice. The Government’s proposal was rejected at the. referendum, and as a result this Government cannot engage in trade. In all the circumstances I believe that this budget is admirable, particularly when it is realized that private enterprise owns and controls all commodities that are produced. It suggests to me a number of men making a large loaf of bread. The whole nation is working in unity so to speak, for the purpose of producing that loaf of bread. The men who till the soil and grow the wheat, as well as those who make the flour, the baking tins, and the ovens, all work in unity; yet when that loaf of bread, to the value of £1,870,000, is produced, it belongs to private enterprise. The loaf is then carved up and goes back to the owners. The Government is able to get a small portion of that loaf of bread by taxation. The few crumbs which fall from the table are distributed to the working people of this country. In those circumstances the Government has done a very good job in distributing those few crumbs. The position as I see it is that the poor people will receive less and less, while the rich people will become richer and richer. That is the natural result under capitalism. There is no way out because the greater proportion of the loaf of bread that has been baked goes to the section I have named.

There is great unrest throughout the world to-day. We are passing through a revolution. Whilst we do not see it clearly in Australia, nevertheless a state of .revolution exists, and we have to face the facts of the position. This is one of the most interesting periods since the industrial revolution took place in England. We are now passing through a period when people are struggling all over the world. We have heard it said that communism is causing the whole of the trouble. What makes Communists?

Senator Ward:

– The Liberals!

Senator MORROW:

– Unjust economic conditions are mainly responsible for the growth of communism. To-day, the people of Australia are striving for more of the better things of life.

Senator O’sullivan:

– Coal, for instance.

Senator MORROW:

– I have just pointed out that the coal-miners to-day are producing more coal than was produced in 1926, although there are now 7,000 fewer men engaged in the industry. Despite that fact, the honorable senator said that the coal-miners will not work. My reply to him is that there are plenty of coal mines, and thai instead of sitting here and “ squealing he should get a job in a coal mine and see what contribution he can make toward? increasing the production of coal. Society consists of two classes, namely, those who produce all and receive little, and those who produce little but take all. The line of demarcation between those two classes is gradually becoming keener, because the former class is begining to realize that it must do something to assist itself. The main problem confronting the world is how to halt the unrest which is apparent in all countries to-day.

Senator Collings:

– It has only just started.

Senator MORROW:

– That is so; and it will gain impetus unless the present economic system is reformed to enable the class which now produces all and receives little, the working people, to receive its just due. The present economic system succeeded so long as adequate markets were available in international trade; but, to-day, markets are not available. At the same time, the productivity of many countries has increased tremendously. Whilst we in this country are short of a few things, the United States of America is capable of producing up to 67 per cent, of the world’s requirements. At the same time; Great Britain is producing to its full capacity. Nevertheless, the peoples of many other countries are starving. What is the cause of such conditions? The explanation is that too many restrictions are imposed by the owners of the means of production. They are out to get all they possibly can for themselves; but the workers are now striving to get a greater share of the wealth they produce. Honorable senators opposite and the interests they represent desire to perpetuate the present system because it means for them an easy life. For that purpose they use the press and the radio and any other stooges which will join in their attempt to mislead the people. Unfortunately, they have succeeded in misleading some of our people. When they are challenged, they trot out the old bogy, “ He’s a Communist “. Ever since the Labour movement began bogies of that kind have been raised by our opponents. In the earliest days of the Labour movement our opponents applied “ Labour man “ as a discreditable term.* Later, Labour representatives were called “socialists”; and when that lost its sting, they were called “ red-raggers “. Later still, they were called “ I.W.W.’s “ ; and when the people took no notice of that tag, Labour men were called “ Sein Feiners “ and “ Bolsheviks “. Opponents of Labour now seek to discredit Labour men by dubbing them “ Communists “. Listening to people who talk like that, one would think that Australia was overrun by murderers. However, I know no case of a leader of the workers having been found guilty of subversive action, or having done anything to the detriment of the people as a whole.

Senator O’Sullivan:

– Does the honorable senator say that seriously?

Senator MORROW:

– Their actions may have been to the detriment of certain interests, but none of their actions has been to the detriment of the people as a whole. The workers should be given more of the good things of life. When the Government assumed office it submitted to the people a proposal to alter the Constitution to empower the National Parliament -to fix wages and conditions of employment. On that occasion, the liberal party backed up by its press stooges cried out, “Don’t give any more power to the bureaucrats at Canberra. You don’t want this reform. You don’t want any change in the Constitution”. Unfortunately, the people were again misled. Consequently, the National Parliament has not the power to fix wages and conditions of employment. That power is still limited to the Arbitration Court. However, although the Government has been frustrated in its endeavour to give to the workers more of the good things of life, it should get solidly behind their claims for increased wages. A claim is to be lodged in the near future for an increase of the basic wage by 30s. a week. That is little enough. Indeed, I do not know how the worker can subsist on the present basic wage. However, that is the fault not of the Government but of private enterprise. The Government’s power is limited under the Constitution. Even though it wishes to increase wages, it has not the authority to do so. I urge it to support to the greatest possible degree the claim about to be made to the Arbitration Court for an increase of the basic wage. We are told by certain interests that industry cannot afford to pay a higher basic wage, that if it is obliged te do so the country will go “broke”. I have perused the statement recently presented to the Parliament on national income and expenditure, and I find that the gross national income has increased from £938,000,000, in 1938-39 to £1,870,000,000 in 1947-48, or an increase of nearly 100 per cent, during that period. In 1938-39 profits and earnings, other than wages, amounted to £367,000,000. In 1945-46 they were £509,000,000, or £142,000,000 in excess of the figure for 1938-39. By .1947-48 profits and earnings other than wages had increased to £588,000,000, or £221,000,000 more than in 1938-39. The Government Statistician’s figures show that wages have increased by only 46.2 per cent, since 1939, and the cost of living by just over 32 per cent. When we study the way in which those figures are calculated, we find that they are somewhat misleading. I am of the opinion that in order to keep pace with the increased productivity of the country a further 53.8 per cent, should have been added to the 46.2 per cent, wage increase. That would have put the wage-earners on a better footing. If profits increased by 100 per cent., wages also should have been increased.

The basic wage is calculated on a regimen prepared by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The Government has no voice in the matter, and could not interfere even if it wanted to. It is solely the function of the court. The judges take evidence from dietitians, statisticians, trade union officials and employers’ representatives, and then determine the amount on which a man with a wife and one child can live.

Dealing with groceries, the regimen provides for each person 5 lb. of flour a week, 21/3 oz. tea, 2 lb. sugar and 21/3 oz. polished rice. Rice is unobtainable without a doctor’s certificate and a commodity not in the regimen must be substituted for it. That may cost more than rice, but no account is taken of that fact. The allowances for each person also provide for 1 lb. sago or seed tapioca a year, 12 lb. jam, 2 lb. golden syrup, 8 lb. loose flaked oats, 5 lb. seeded raisins, and 2 lb. loose currants. That is equivalent to 9 pennyweights a week. It is like weighing out gold. Four and a half pennyweights of apricots are allowed each week for each person and three 30-oz. tins of peaches a year, which is equivalent to about 28 pennyweights a week. Other items are one 30 oz. tin of pears a year, three 1-lb. tins of salmon a year - salmon is unobtainable - and a weekly allowance of 39 oz. of potatoes, 4 oz. of onions and 5 oz. of soap.

Turning to dairy products, and again dealing with the quantity allowed for each person, butter is allowed at the rate of 9 oz. a week. The butter ration at present is only 6 oz., so I suppose that is a better allowance. Then provision is made for 1 oz. cheese a week, 6 dozen eggs a year, 12 lb. bacon a year, five tins of condensed milk a year, and 72 quarts of fresh milk a year.

That is the work of the Arbitration Court and not of the Government. When the Government asked the people to be allowed to alter that situation the people would not agree, because they were misled by the newspapers and the anti-Labour parties, who wanted the position to remain as it was so that the workers would continue to work for as little as possible. It is “ pretty tough “ when we get down to pennyweights a week. The meat allowance is approximately 31/2 lb. a week.

Dealing with clothing for a man, the regimen provides as follows: -

Suit, ready-made - three every two years.

The prices have increased, and he will not be able to afford those now -

Trousers, working - two per year.

Overcoat, ready-made, tweed - one per four years.

Hat, fur felt - one per year.

Shirt, fashion, two collars - five per two years.

Shirt, working, drill - four per year.

Singlet (wool), short sleeves- one per year.

Singlet (cotton), athletic- one per year.

Underpants (wool) - one per year.

Underpants (cotton) - one per year.

Socks (all wool) - two per year.

Braces - four per three years.

Handkerchief, cotton - six per year.

Pyjamas - three per two years.

Pullover, all wood - one per year.

Shoes (best), box calf - one per two years.

I suppose they would have iron soles -

Boots, working, box hide - three per two years.

For a woman, the regimen provides as follows : -

Costume, ready-made, tweed-one per two years.

Skirt, ready-made, tweed - five per four years.

Hat, fur felt - three per four years.

Hat, straw - three per two years.

This would not suit some of the women to-day -

Frock, ready-made, cotton - three per two years.

Frock, ready-made artificial silk - three per two years.

Brassiere (cotton brocade) - nine per two years.

Undervests, wool and artificial silk - three per two years.

Undervest, artificial silk - three per two years.

Bloomers, artificial silk - nine per two years.

Princess slip - one per year.

Stockings, artificial silk - six per year.

Stockings, lisle - three per year.

Gloves, fabric - nine per four years.

Gloves, nappa - three per four years.

Nightdress, artificial silk - three per two years.

Pyjamas - three per two years.

Apron cotton - six per year.

Cardigan, all wool - one per two years.

Shoes (best), glace kid - three per two years.

Shoes, ordinary, box calf - three per two years.

For clothing for a boy of ten and a half years of age, the regimen provides as follows : -

Suit, ready-made, tweed - one per year.

Pants, ready-made, tweed - three per year.

Overcoat, ready-made, tweed- one per three years.

Cap - three per two years.

Shirt, sports - five per year.

Singlet, wool - one per year.

Singlet, cotton - one per year.

Braces - one per year.

Stockings - four per year.

Pyjamas - three per two years.

Pullover - one per two years.

Shoes, box yearling- one per year.

Fancy expecting a pair of shoes to last a boy for a year ! I have a grandchild at home whose shoes, costing anything up to 23s., wear out within a month. These are the conditions under which the Arbitration Court expects the workers to live. The allowance for rent is 23s. 6d. a week, but everybody knows that a house of a reasonable standard cannot be obtained for that. I am informed by the Commonwealth Statistician that there are such houses, but I should not like to live in one. They could only be slums. On the other hand, we find that the big companies which exercise the sole right to exploit the workers of this country are well off. The following is a comparison of company profits in 1944 and in 1947 or 1948:-

Those profits have been made despite high taxes. They are net profits after taxes have been deducted ; yet it is alleged that workers to-day will not produce! Who is producing the commodities upon which these profits have been made? Certainly not the company executives. Allegations of go-slow tactics are so much newspaper talk. They are made in an attempt to bewilder and mislead the people. Here are the figures for a few more companies -

The financial standing of companies can be ascertained from the daily press. I advise any honorable senator or any other person who is interested in this matter to read the financial pages of the various newspapers. Taking one of today’s newspapers at random, I find the following increases of company dividends reported : -

These figures prove that the people of this country are working conscientiously. In my opinion, there should he an increase of the basic wage comparable with increased profits. According to the Commonwealth Statistician, the increase of the cost of living has been only 32.6 per cent., but 80 per cent, would be nearer the mark. The Australian Government is powerless in the matter because the misleading propaganda of Opposition parties secured the defeat of the recent referendum proposals. Had an affirmative vote been registered at the referendum, this Parliament would have been much more able to look after the welfare of the community generally. The Government should do everything possible to secure an increase of the basic wage. Why should these companies grow richer while the workers grow poorer? Why should the basic wage earner be told that he can have only one pair of shoes and one pair of trousers a year? That is degrading in an enlightened community. That the judges of the Arbitration Court should make such a decision while they themselves receive salaries of £3,000 a year, is not very considerate, but after all they confine themselves to the system under which we are working and under which the basic wage is fixed. Their decision is based not on how much a man can earn, or on how much he desires, but on how little he can live on and still produce sufficient energy to work. Science i3 brought into the court to prove how little a worker needs to enable him to live in a manner that will keep him from being sick and allow him to produce sufficient energy to do eight hours work each day, as well as re-produce his kind so that there will be more workers to produce wealth for those who exploit them. The whole method of calculating the basic wage should be altered. We should get away from the idea of fixing the basic wage on how little a man can exist on. It should be fixed in a manner which will provide that the wages of a worker will increase with the productivity of the industry in which he is employed. The workers should share in the progress and prosperity of industry. Honorable senators opposite say that the workers will not work. What incentive is there for them to work? I say that they work hard, although, since they know that the more they produce the more willi be taken away from them, they have no incentive to do so. In those conditions It is a wonder that there is not a nation-wide revolt. I sometimes feel that such a revolt is necessary and that the impositions placed upon the workers which steal from them the products of their labour, should make them rise to prevent it. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition talks of a few petty stoppages, but apparently he does not realize that many of those stoppages are not caused by the workers. The coal indus* try is one in which the honorable senator said the workers were not pulling their weight because there had been an increase of 117 per cent, in the number of disputes. Referring to the need for an increased production of coal, Chief Judge Drake-Brockman said -

The coal industry will carry on even though all the present owners and companies, through their own folly and cut-throat methods oi competition, destroy themselves. I have come to the conclusion, therefore, that employees should not be deprived of proper conditions of work merely because of unwise method? adopted by the owners. If existing owners cannot provide the finance then the time haicome for them to make way for others with wider ideas as to finance and trading opera tions. The unsatisfactory financial position of the industry is due to the owners them selves.

Chief Judge Drake-Brockman was an exUnited Australia party senator, and was president of the Employers Federation before he went to the Arbitration Court. Conditions must be deplorable when om of the mine-owners’ own kith and kin makes such a statement. Is. that not an indictment of the employers and mineowners ?

Some coal miners go as far as two miles under the ground to work. Recently a miner was injured in a pit and six of his mates carried him two miles in an effort to save his life. Unfortunately, the man died. The men returned to their work after carrying the injured man out, but found on the following pay day that the time they had lost in carrying him out was deducted from their pay. Consequently, there was a strike at that mine. I would strike, too, in similar circumstances. Not only would I strike, but I would get square in some other fashion.

Not; long, ago we had an- instance- in which (he Liberal Government in Victoria attempted to- discredit the- miners and embarrass the Australian Government. Lt stated that it did not have sufficient coal to run trains to the New South Wales border, and it also cancelled suburban, trains, particularly electric trains. New. South Wales black coal is not used to’ generate electricity for Victorian suburban trains-. The coal used for that purpose is brown coal from Yallourn. However, the Victorian Government used that excuse and inconvenienced the people of Victoria for the purpose of discrediting the miners and embarrassing the Australian Government. That is an illustration of the lengths to which Liberal party interests will go in their endeavours to create ill feeling. They would wreck the whole community to gain their own ends. Country rail services in Victoria were also cancelled although the engines hauling those country trains were oilburning engines and not steam locomotives. I have heard of Ned Kelly, but the more I think about him the more admiration I have for him. I regard him as having been an absolute gentleman. He robbed the banks and gave the money to the’ poor. Those who support the present system rob the poor and give the proceeds to the rich. Ned Kelly was hanged, hut those people are committing robbery in a more scientific way and getting away with it.

I believe that the people of this country will have tq face a rather difficult position in regard to prices, and that the increase of 30s. a week in the basic wage,, which ‘.the anions have requested, will . not nearly compensate for the increase in the cost of living, particularly after October, mainly due to the activities of the Liberal party, the press and other Liberal party stooges. Honorable members will recall that recently the Labour party told the people that it thought the Government’s powers to control prices were waning. To clarify the price control position it asked the people to write into the Constitution a provision to give the Australian Government the power to control prices. The Liberal party and all its stooges told the people to ignore that appeal by the Labour party. I addressed more than 60 meetings during that referendum cam paign; and I prefaced- my., remarks w> each occasion by saying, “ I want to tell’, you, ladies and gentlemen, that this is- a national question. It is not a party question, and’ if you do not give the Government the powers it asks, it will make no difference to me as a parliamentarian, hut it will make a difference to me as an individual, because I shall have to pay- increased prices just as you will have to “. I warned them that the Government could not continue to pay subsidies if it lost control over prices. As everybody knows, subsidies were paid in order to help to keep prices down. For instance, potatoes were purchased from the farmers for £13 10s. a ton and re-sold to the public for £6 10s. a ton. I do not think that any farmer in Tasmania ate his own potatoes. He took his crop to the market, sold it, and bought other pota-toes for less than half the price he received. The Liberal party and its propaganda sheets declared, “‘Take no notice of the Labour party. Subsidies will nol he discontinued. Prices will not rise. The States will be able to carry on “. 1 was terribly shocked to think that the people, when asked, in effect, “Do you. want to keep- prices down ? , answered “No”. It is said that the people are always right, but I think that their decision in that instance went against themselves. The fact is that the cost of living will increase considerably. Do we intend to make any provision to meet that We can do so by increasing wages. The increase could be financed from the profits made in Australia last year. As I have said, those profits amounted to £588,000,000, and a wage increase of 80s. a week would account for only £140,000,000 a year. That would leave £448,000,000 to pay the profiteers and to cover incidental expenses such as the profits of the farmers and the retail traders. In fact, I consider that the people who ask for a wage increase of 30s. a week are asking for too little. They should ask for at least £2 a week. The Piddington inquiry fixed the economic wage for a man with a wife and two children at £5 17s. a week. At that time the basic wage varied from ‘ £3 18s. to £4 2s. a week according to locality. On the basis of those figures, the basic wage to-day should be £10 a week. That would be only the equivalent of the economic wage established by the Piddington inquiry. It would be little enough to provide the people with an average standard of comfort. Six months hence, the same amount would be completely inadequate. [Extension of time granted.) I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.

page 506


Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -

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

page 506


The following paper was presented : -

Stevedoring Industry Act - Stevedoring Industry Commission - Annual Report and Financial Accounts, for period ended 30th June, 1948.

The Senate adjourned at 10.58 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 September 1948, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.