18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives “without amendment.
Assent to the following bills reported : - Judges’ Pensions Bill 1948. Whaling Bill 1948. War Service Homes Bill 1948. Commonwealth Bank Bill 1948. Social Services Consolidation Bill (No. 2) 1948.
Stevedoring Industry Bill 1948.
Side and Leather Industries Bill 1948.
International Organizations (Privileges and
Immunities) Bill 1948.
International Trade Organization Bill 1948. War Damage to Property Bill 1948. Commonwealth Public Service Bill (No. 2)
Trade Marks Bill 194S. Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1948. Mental Institution Benefits Bill 1948.
Acts Interpretation Bill 1948.
Coal Production (War-time) Act Repeal
National Health Service Bill 1948. Hospital Benefits Bill 1948. Nationality and Citizenship Bill 1948. Aliens Deportation Bill 1948. Passports Bill 1948. Immigration Bill 1948.
Wool Realization (Distribution of Profits) Bill 1948.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Bill 1948.
Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Bill 1948.
River Murray Waters Bill 1948. Commonwealth Aid Roads and Works Bill 1948.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 5) 1948. Excise Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1948.
– I ask you, Mr. President, whether it would be possible to have the centre light in this chamber turned on again ? It was turned off a few minutes ago.
– There are several reasons for not using the centre light. One is that it makes the chamber very hot, and if honorable senators can see without it, I do not propose to have it turned on. I think that the most honorable senators can see sufficiently well without the centre light. However, if any honorable senator cannot see to do his work, I suppose that we shall have to provide additional light for him by some means. I shall he pleased to make arrangements to provide Senator Aylett with some form of lamp immediately to overcome his blindness.
– I cannot see without the centre light now, otherwise I should not have asked that it be turned on again.
– “Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me what are the guiding principles and functions of the tobacco distribution committees in each State? Are there independent people’s representatives on those committees ? If not, will the Government take steps to ensure that ex-servicemen and other deserving applicants for a tobacco quota shall be represented on those .committees by men who have no financial interest in the tobacco industry?
– Honorable senators will appreciate that the Commonwealth Government no longer has any authority over the distribution of tobacco. It did have that authority at one time, but the people of the Commonwealth, in their wisdom or otherwise, decided that it would be better if other arrangements were made. Consequently, the Commonwealth cannot now interfere in any way with the distribution of tobacco. That is a matter entirely for the committees that have been set up by the tobacco interests. I have made representations on behalf of various people who have approached me for assistance to obtain a tobacco quota, and I have always received reasonable consideration from the tobacco industry.
– Then the Minister is the only one who has.
– I repeat that the Commonwealth has no power of direction over tobacco distribution. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper I shall endeavour to give him a complete answer at a later date.
– Will the Minister for Health inform the Senate what States have taken action to execute an agree ment with the Commonwealth Government to authorize payments under the Mental Institution Benefits Act? What State governments have indicated that they will seek approval by their respective parliaments of an agreement made in accordance with the schedule to that act? What is the position of Western Australia in this connexion ? How soon after an agreement between the State and Commonwealth governments has been made will patients or their relatives he relieved of the liability for fees for maintenance or treatment? Can the Commonwealth Government influence State governments to make early agreements to afford relief to the very many persons who will benefit, under the act?
– Honorable senators will recall that the Mental Institution Benefits Act was passed only in December last. The State governments, therefore, have not had much opportunity to consider legislation. So far, only South Australia has placed the necessary legislation on its statute-book. All States, with the exception only of Western Australia, have agreed to the scheme in principle. The Western Australian Government has not rejected the Commonwealth’s proposal for mental hospital benefits, but, as late as yesterday, it had not signified its acceptance of the scheme. I understand that it is still considering the proposals that have been made to it. The honorable senator also asked how soon the benefits would become payable after the passage of the necessary legislation. I suggest that the agreements could come into full effect immediately after the passage of the legislation. We are conducting negotiations at .the moment in order to determine the relevant rate of reimbursement that should be paid to them to compensate them for giving up the making of charges to patients and their relatives. Honorable senators will recall that the agreement was exhibited as >a schedule to the bill. The various formal agreements are now with the Crown Solicitor and are about to be sent to the States which are interested. It is necessary, in terms of our own legislation, that the States should pass laws complementary to those of the Commonwealth before agreements can be brought into being.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Fuel aware that there is unemployment and interruption of industry in South Australia because of the shortage of coal? Can he inform me of the true position in connexion with the supply of coal to that State? Has he had any requests for the supply of fuel for temporary plant, and have any arrangements been made to supply fuel for such plant?
– The Premier of South Australia almost invariably communicates with the Prime Minister in relation to matters such as this. Very rarely does he address any of his requests to me or to the Joint Coal Board, which is the authority for both the production and the distribution of coal. The coal supply position in South Australia has not been as good as it might have been. Reasons for that have been the depletion of stocks over the Christmas period, difficulties in connexion with shipping, and the fact that last week there was a public holiday on the Monday, which left only four days for the loading of coal at Newcastle. Furthermore, two ships which were set aside to carry coal to South Australia last week were delayed owing to crew trouble. Of course, that was a matter over which neither the Joint Coal Board nor the Department of Shipping and Fuel had control. The honorable senator also referred to the use of substitute fuel. The Premier of South Australia sent a telegraph message to the Prime Minister on that subject, and yesterday the Prime Minister asked me to make supplies of substitute fuel available for rail services in South Australia, the South Australian electricity trust and the South Australian Gas Company, pending the arrival in that State of fresh coal stocks. Although that matter was attended to yesterday, I noticed in some newspapers this morning a report of a statement by Mr. Playford that consideration was only being given to it. A telegram was sent to Mr. Playford yesterday, notifying him of what had been done. A request has also been made that’ substitute oil fuel be supplied for auxiliary plant. That request cannot be granted because of the limited supply of fuel that is available.
However, services that are essential to the operation of industry in South Australia have been provided with fuel as the Premier has requested.
– Can the Minister for Shipping and Fuel say whether the proportion of coal allocated to South Australia under the quota system compares favorably with that allocated to other States? For instance, would the amount allocated to South Australia during the last twelve months exceed the amount allocated to Victoria during that period?
– .Since I arrived in Canberra yesterday I have received many inquiries from senators and members of the House of Representatives from South Australia concerning the coal position in that State. Although South Australia and Victoria receive approximately similar supplies, the Government of Victoria has imported coal for use in that State and has made itself largely independent of supplies from New South Wales. Following the representations made by members of the Parliament, I caused inquiries to be made as to the situation in South Australia, and particularly concerning the production of coal at Leigh Creek. Statistics supplied by the Joint Coal Board show that the production at Leigh Creek has been as follows: -
Honorable senators will realize, therefore, that the rate of production at Leigh Creek has diminished, notwithstanding that at the beginning of last year arrangements were made with the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, Mr. Gahan, and the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, to produce and haul from Leigh Creek to Adelaids a substantial quantity of coal. It is evident, therefore, that the Premier of South Australia has something to answer for, in that the production of coal in that State has diminished from approximately 27,000 tons to approximately 18,000 tons per four weeks.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction aware that the operations of the hydro-electric works in Tasmania are being seriously retarded because of the shortage of steel? Will the Minister give a resume of the steps that have been taken during the last twelve months to increase steel production in Australia?
– I am not in a position to furnish a detailed answer to the honorable senator’s question, but I shall obtain exact information from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction. I am aware, however, that steps have been taken by the Minister for Immigration to make available a greater number of migrants for employment in the steel industry, and an arrangement has been made with the trade union concerned whereby a large number of migrants will be diverted to the production of steel. As the honorable senator is doubtless aware, the industry suffers from the lack of labour, particularly skilled labour. The rate of production of steel is also affected by the availability of supplies
Df coal because the industry is largely dependent on fuel. However, I assure Senator Lamp that week by week the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction iv association with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel reviews the production of steel and coal. The Government is vitally concerned to stimulate the production and distribution of steel in order to facilitate housing. Recognizing the seriousness of the present position, the Government has also permitted to be imported free of customs duty certain steel products, including, in particular, steel piping and steel bars. The Government recognizes fully the need for greater steel production, and is using its best endeavours to bring about that very desirable result. I have not attempted to cover the whole field of the Government’s activities in relation to steel production, but I shall ask the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction to supply a complete answer for the honorable senator.
– Will the Minister for Social Services inform the
Senate whether the Commonwealth socialservices scheme provides for Xrayfacilities, and for the free immunization of children against whooping cough? I also have in mind the case of a nurse who is crippled by arthritis, and1 has no means of transportation other than by using her own motor ear. Would she, by reason of her ownership of that vehicle, be precluded from receiving an invalid pension?
– Provision ismade in the Commonwealth social services scheme for the free immunization of children against whooping cough. Some months ago the Commonwealth decided to make available two forms of prophylactic for immunization against whooping cough and diphtheria free to the States, to be passed on to competent authorities who would be conductingcampaigns of that kind. Ample safeguards are also being provided against the waste of immunization materialswherever free immunization may take place. There is provision in the National Health Services Act that was passed in. December last, for X-ray and other services. No doubt the honorable senator will recollect that provision was included in that measure for a medical benefits scheme, under which the Government would pay one half of the cost of patients. It will take some time for that scheme to be developed in full and whilst it may apply in the first instance in the general practitioner field, it will be taken step by step as in New Zealand until the various fields, including radiology, are covered. Power is included in that measure toprovide those services hoth directly and by means of the medical benefits scheme. The honorable senator referred to a nursewho is crippled by arthritis and is theowner of a motor car, and asked whether, in those circumstances, the car would be regarded as a part of her assets. I presume that the honorable senator desires toascertain what the position would be if she were to apply for, or were the recipient of an invalid pension. She may have a permissible income of £1 10s. a week and the value of property that shemay own has been increased to £750. A good deal would depend upon the value of the motor car in determining whether the ownership of it would affect the pension. She could own her own home and personal belongings, and if the value of the car did not exceed £109 it would not be reckoned among her assets. However, if its value exceeded £109, the surplus over £100 would be taken into account in the application of the property test.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral inform the Senate whether food parcels are now consigned free of charge to the United Kingdom from Canada and South Africa? If so, will he say whether the Government is prepared to make similar arrangements in respect of food parcels forwarded to the United Kingdom from Australia?
– The charges for food parcels have been fixed by agreement between three parties - the British Government, the shipping companies and the Australian Government. Applications have been made for a review, with the object of reducing the charges, but up to date the British Government has stated that it regrets that it cannot agree to any reduction. I shall again inquire into the matter with a view to having the subject reconsidered. In the event of the British Government agreeing to a reduction of the charges, the Australian Government will do likewise.
– I remind the Minister for Trade and Customs that in October last I raised the matter of the shortage of sugar in Victoria, and other honorable senators dealt with the shortage of sugar in other States. At that time various replies were given to honorable senators, and just prior to the adjournment for the Christmas recess the Minister for Shipping and Fuel made a statement in which he suggested that whilst the shortage of refined sugar in Victoria was due to various reasons the main cause was the shortage of labour. He suggested also that the Minister for Immigration would make available from SO to 100 Baits for employment in sugar refineries in Victoria.
– Order I What is the honorable senator’s question?
– Has the Minister for Immigration made available to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited a number of additional hands as was promised ? If so, can the Minister for Trade and Customs say whether supplies of sugar in Victoria are likely to improve in the very near future ?
– The honorable senator was correct when he said that the main reason for the shortage of sugar in Victoria was a shortage of labour. I have discussed this subject at various times with the Minister for Immigration, who has been very active in the matter. I understand that 100 Baits are now engaged at the refinery in Victoria. The provision of that additional labour will have a beneficial effect upon supplies. In spite of the heavy demands for sugar because of the fruit processing season, I am given to understand that the position is now much better in Victoria, and that this is due largely to the fact that the Minister for Immigration has been so active in supplying additional labour for the industry.
– In view of the economic difficulties confronting the goldmining industry in Western Australia, particularly on the Kalgoorlie gold-field, as the result of the present selling price of gold and the high cost of production, I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether the Government intends to give early consideration to a review of the basis of its financial assistance to the industry?
– I am not in a position to indicate the intention of the Government in the matter raised by the honorable senator. I shall bring his question to the notice of the Treasurer, and later supply him with the information he seeks.
– Because they have to compete with herbs imported from overseas countries, gardeners who, at the request of the Australian Government, changed over to herb-growing during the war, now find that they cannot carry on production. Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say what has been the result of representations made to him by herb-growers when he visited South Australia, and how far the Government has gone towards giving help to them in order to enable them to continue in production?
– Senator Beerworth has constantly stressed the claims of herb-growers. I have had the subject examined and have received a good deal of advice and information from those associated with the industry, and I find that all I can do with a view to assisting it is to submit its claims to the Tariff Board for further inquiry. When the Government receives the board’s report it can then take whatever action may be desirable. I assure the honorable senator that I have kept this subject constantly under review, and that I shall do my best to have it reported on by the Tariff Board as soon as possible.
– In view of a statement made by the Treasurer during the latter part of 1948, that 90 per cent, of the petrol consumed in Australia for civil purposes was for commercial and industrial use, I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether the Government will consider reducing the petrol tax, and thereby give to the general community some measure of relief from the rising cost of living.
– The Government has constantly under consideration the reduction of taxation. Evidence of that fact was provided hy the recent announcement that income tax would be reduced in the aggregate by over £30,000,000 per. annum. I assure the honorable senator that the Government constantly keeps under consideration the reduction of taxes, and that when it finds the time opportune to make reductions it will do so, whether it happens to be dealing with the petrol tax or taxes on other commodities.
– In view of the announcement that powerful zinc manu facturing interests have formed a combine, can the Minister for Supply and Development inform me if there is any likelihood of the Australian market being starved of zinc supplies because of the extraordinarily high prices ruling for zinc overseas? If so, what action can be taken to maintain supplies of vital needs such as roofing iron, &c., in Australia?
– Zinc and lead producers in Australia set up a voluntary pool during the last few weeks. Previously, great difficulty was experienced in many industries because of the shortage of zinc and lead supplies. In fact, one prominent firm in the Newcastle district, Lysaghts, had to close down because of the lack of zinc to keep its works going. The producers had a strong case for an increase of the local price of zinc and lead. On the Australian market they were selling zinc for about onesixth of the price they were obtaining for zinc overseas. Consequently, they would not supply zinc to any industry in such quantities as would enable it to build up a stockpile, but arranged supplies on a quota system and kept to that quota. In those circumstances, when anything untoward happened to prevent the quota arriving to schedule production was held up in many industries. Following a conference of State Premiers and Ministers administering prices control at which agreement on an increased price for zinc and lead was reached, producers of those commodities formed a voluntary pool and promised that they would fulfil all Australia’s requirements of both metals. A meeting of the pool authorities was held in Melbourne to-day, and I am confident that from now on there will not be any difficulty in supplying the needs of industry in this country for lead and zinc. This is most important. Great difficulty has been experienced in having the matter finally settled- and both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture have spent a great deal of time endeavouring to find a satisfactory solution of the problem. I believe that from now on many of the difficulties that have beset industry generally will be overcome.
– Is the Minister for Supply and Development aware of the serious shortage of galvanized iron including that used in the manufacture of baths which are required mainly for country areas’ Has the Commonwealth Government any control over the distribution of galvanized iron? If not, can the Minister say upon whom this responsibility rests?
– It is true that there is a shortage of many steel and iron products throughout the Commonwealth to-day. The Minister for Health has already dealt with this matter fairly fully. Basically, the problem is one of man-power, and the Government is doing its utmost to find a solution. The Minister for Immigration has been endeavouring to assist by encouraging the immigration to this country of labour suitable for the iron and steel industry. He has arranged for the erection of a hostel at Port Stephens to accommodate approximately 500 men. Another hostel is being erected at Newcastle to house 400 men, and similar provision is being made at Port Kembla. Australian Iron and Steel Limited is also erecting a hos.tel at Port Kembla to accommodate 500 men. It is hoped to draw this labour from the ranks of displaced persons and should these efforts prove successful, the sad state of affairs in industry to-day will be improved very quickly.
The honorable senator has asked by whom control of the distribution of iron and steel products is exercised. The Commonwealth exercises a form of over-all supervision in the national interest. It can direct what quantities of those products shall be sent to the various States, but it has no authority over distribution within the States. That is the problem of the State governments. The honorable senator has mentioned baths. At the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’s factory in Melbourne, the general manager, “Wing-Commander “Wackett has developed a rather revolutionary plan for the manufacture of baths, and he is confident that if sufficient iron can be made available to him, he will be able in one factory to make all the baths required in the Commonwealth. He proposes to undertake production on the chain system applied to aircraft manufacture. The fact remains, however, that the supply of raw material is insufficient at present. “We hope that with additional man-power, that problem will be substantially overcome.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether any licences to import wire netting into Australia have been issued during the last year? If so, can the Minister say how much wire netting has been imported during that time ? In view of the urgent need of land-owners for increased supplies of wire netting to combat the destruction of feed and lambs as the result of the unusual rabbit plague, will the Minister give an assurance that every avenue will be explored so that wire netting may be made available more quickly, and in larger quantities?
– I cannot, offhand, give the honorable senator a detailed reply to his question. I can, however, inform him that licences have been issued for the importation of wire netting from all countries in which it is available. Every licence sought has been granted, but, of course, the price of imported wire netting is very high and that factor has limited importation. Some time ago authority was given for the issue of licences to import approximately £100,000 worth of wire netting from the
United States of America, but only a small quantity has been sought so far. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall provide him with a complete answer as soon as possible.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say what has delayed the erection of a new post office and residence at Tullah in Tasmania? As the Tullah district is one of the coldest in the State, and postal officials at present have to work under deplorable conditions, will the Postmaster-General give an assurance that the post office and residence will be provided before the next winter sets in? Approval for the erection of the buildings was given months ago.
– As the honorable senator is aware, responsibility for erecting new post office buildings rests upon the Department of Works and Housing. I am not in a position at the moment to provide the honorable senator with the information that he seeks, but if he will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall endeavour to ascertain when the work will be commenced. I remind the honorable senator that there is still a shortage of man-power and materials, and that the Department of Works and Housing is doing its utmost to expedite the erection of all buildings for which it is responsible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answers: - 1, 2 and 3. At the third meeting of the South Pacific Air Transport Council held in Wellington last week, a special committee set up to deal with matters concerning the air service operated by British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines Limited from Australia and New Zealand on the one hand to North America on the other, recommended that British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines Limited be authorized to purchase four DC6 aircraft - secured recently by the Australian Government - for use on its trans-Pacific services. When this recommendation is confirmed by the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australian Governments, which are partners in British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines Limited, the transfer of the aircraft to British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines Limited under contract of sale will be finalized. In the meantime, while waiting for the Government’s confirmation of the Wellington recommendation the company is making preparations to place the aircraft into operation on its trans-Pacific services.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answers : -
– On the 2nd December, Senator Hendrickson asked me questions relating to the allocation of moneys to the States for country road construction. Further to my reply to the honorable senator on that occasion, I now inform him that during the financial year 1947-48 the following expenditure for road construction in the State of Victoria was approved by the
Commonwealth Minister for Transport out of funds available from -
For the current year 1948-49, an additional sum of £174,000 is to be made available under section 6 (4), which will bring the total sum to be distributed to Victoria to approximately £982,000. These grants are, of course, from Commonwealth funds only. The States themselves spend considerable sums, drawn from registration and licensing collections, upon the construction and maintenance of roads, and local municipalities similarly employ their own funds. Details of these amounts are not available from Commonwealth sources.
Debate resumed from the 9th December, 1948 (vide page 4225), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Before dealing with the Shipping Bill, I should like to express my thanks to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’sullivan) and the Opposition Whip (Senator Rankin) for the very efficient way in which they discharged their duties as members of the Opposition during my absence abroad. I understand that the last sessional period was one of the longest since the inauguration of federation, and I appreciate the varied and arduous nature of their task. I am sure that they worthily upheld the traditions of this chamber, and I offer ,them my sincere congratulations.
When he introduced the present measure, at the end of the sessional period referred to, the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) stated that it embraced three objectives. Those objectives are, first, to provide for the maintenance of the Australian mercantile marine ; secondly, to provide for the maintenance of the ship-building industry; and, thirdly, to provide for the establishment of a Commonwealth line of steamers. In my view, it is unfortunate that the Government should seek to attain those three objectives by the passage of a single measure. Whilst. I am in complete accord with certain of the Government’s aims concerning shipping, I am in complete disagreement with other proposals, and the combination of the Government’s various proposals in one measure renders it embarrassing and difficult for the Opposition properly to discuss them.
At the commencement of his speech, the Minister stressed the fact that the measure does not provide for the nationalization of the shipping industry. The word “nationalization” must be foremost in the Minister’s mind whenever any new legislation is brought forward, and he is so obviously obsessed by the idea that everything should be nationalized that he seeks to disarm members of the Opposition by assuring them in advance that this particular measure does not provide for the nationalization of the shipping industry. However, the Minister “ doth protest too much methinks “, and that leads me to scrutinize the provisions of this measure to ensure that they do not provide for the nationalization of the industry. Division 2 of Part II. of the bill proposes that very wide powers shall be conferred upon the Minister, and it seems to me that that part of the measure might conceivably be invoked to exercise pressure on the shipping companies to enable the Government to take over their ships. Such a result might he brought about, for instance, by the withholding of certain permits. Of course, we all realize that not only Aus- tralia, but also every other nation, is affected by a shortage of shipping. Whilst the shortage is nowhere greater than in the United Kingdom, because British shipping suffered most severely during World War LT., every nation which possessed a mercantile marine, including neutrals as well as belligerents, lost, heavily during the war. During my recent visit to the United Kingdom I inspected, at the invitation of the Clyde Trust, the shipbuilding yards on the River Clyde, where some of the greatest ship-building enterprises in the world are located. I visited the huge yards of John Brown, which built Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary and other huge vessels. Every single foot on each bank of the river seemed to be devoted to the construction or the repair of ships. At every yard on the Clyde they are working round the clock in a desperate endeavour to replace the tonnage lost during the war, and almost every day new ships are launched. Whilst some are of enormous size, others are of smaller types. The shipbuilding industry has existed there for many years. Long ago it was realized that the very life of that country was, to a large degree, dependent on the amount of shipbuilding that could be accomplished there in the shortest possible space of time. Australia is an island continent, and in the new world alinement it has become necessary for us to build ships in this country. It is imperative that in the years to come Australia shall be in a position to build and repair ships. Honorable senators will agree that since 1945 an entirely new alinement has been established in the eastern portion of the world. India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaya and Burma have become either republics or self-governing dominions. Australia is almost the furthest outpost of Great Britain, and it has become of increasing importance that we in this country should be able, not only to build and maintain ships, but also to repair any British or Allied ships that may be in Australian waters. So far as this measure relates to the building of ships, every encouragement should be given to the development of the shipbuilding industry in this country as early as possible. Of course. it is remembered that a commencement in this direction waa made some years ago, and I am pleased that the Minister for Shipping and Fuel referred to that in his second-reading speech. In 1940 a start was made with the building of the “River” class ships. At that time it was realized that the maintenance of shipping would be vital during the war years. The industry that was commenced then has grown considerably. However, we must look at the position that now presents itself in Australia. I was pleased to hear the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna), when replying to a question this afternoon, furnish some information with regard to the steel industry, because the future production of steel and coal will be an important factor in connexion with the shipbuilding industry. The production of those raw materials will determine the extent to which the shipping industry can develop. If the Government hopes to achieve any real measure of success in the building of ships provision must he made for increased production of coal and steel. It has been shown that Australia can produce steel at prices equal to world parity.
– And cheaper.
– In fact, we have produced and sold steel at prices cheaper than world parity. Although we are probably better off than are many other countries of the world in relation to the availability of the basic materials needed for shipbuilding, we have fallen down in regard to production. According to recent press reports the production of coal and steel in this country has been insufficient to meet our own requirements. Only recently the Deputy Premier of Queensland announced that he contemplated placing an order for steel in Japan. In other States also the possibility of obtaining steel products from Belgium has been canvassed. The Railways Commissioner in New South Wales is endeavouring to obtain 800 miles of new steel railway lines from abroad. He has stated that he is unable to procure them in this country. That quantity is the minimum required to repair and recondition the railway system in New South Wales. I point out that the Australian production of steel railway lines amounts to only 60 miles a year. Honorable senators will realize therefore that unless the production of the basic materials, iron and coal, can be increased, it is of no use our contemplating building modern all-steel ships.
– Is that the honorable senator’s only objection?
– We must also take into account the enormous quantity of steel that is necessary for building construction. Just before I left the United Kingdom recently a White Paper was issued by the Government there, stating that compared with 1939 the steel production of the United Kingdom had increased during the year 1948 by 100 per cent.
– There is a good Labour Government in the United Kingdom.
– And the production of steel there has not yet been nationalized. My opinion is that it would be foolish for the United Kingdom Government to nationalize ‘an industry that has shown such a remarkable improvement in production. That proves conclusively that the men responsible for running that industry in the United Kingdom are fully conversant with its ramifications, and realize fully their responsibilities to Great Britain and other parts of the world to supply this most essential basic commodity. Steel is in demand in every part of the world, and unless production of steel can be increased in Australia it is futile for the Government to hope to achieve any measure of success in the big ship-building industry contemplated in this measure. The Government regards this measure partly as a means of developing the shipping industry, but it will not succeed in building many ships unless it can place the coal and iron and steel industries on a more effective basis. The primary objective is to make more ships available. Indeed, at present, it does not matter a great deal who may be responsible for running the ships at present afloat. The Government should put all its resources and energy into increasing the production of materials that are needed for this .basic industry. It should also take steps to increase the carrying capacity of ships already in service. An examination of the figures in respect of the various Australian ports shows that the turn-round of ships to-day is very much slower than it was in 1939 and during the pre-war years generally. In spite of the work of conciliation commissioners and the control vested in the Stevedoring, Industry Commission, we are still experiencing many Communist-inspired strikes on the waterfront. Go-slow tactics are still in evidence on the wharfs. Irritating, pin-pricking demands are being made by the waterside workers. For instance, only ten days ago the waterside workers at Brisbane made a demand that iced water be Supplied to them.
– Don’t forget that out-of-date machinery is still used on the wharfs.
– I do not overlook that p∫ but strong opposition is offered to the installation of up-to-date machinery for the loading and unloading of vessels.
– Only a week ago a member of the Stevedoring Industry Commission visited Townsville and endeavoured to impress upon the wharf labourers there the necessity to speed up the turn-round of ships.
– Be fair. Tell the Senate what happened subsequently; a ship was loaded in record time.
– Yes ; hut the Minister does not seem .to realize the importance of expediting the turn-round of ships generally.
– The honorable senator was recently in England; is not the position worse there?
– Yes, it is.
– I shall supply concrete evidence on that point. The slow turn-round of ships in this country has not benn due entirely to strikes. It has been due largely to the opposition offered by the waterside workers to the installation of better methods of loading and unloading. Does the Minister for Shipping and Fuel believe that it is necessary that wharf labourers should be supplied with iced water?
– They are just as much entitled to iced water as is the honorable senator when he is in this chamber.
– In any event I do not drink iced water. The wharf labourers indulge in pin-pricking strikes and oppose the installation of modern loading and unloading machinery not because they are sincere, but simply in order to slow down the turn-round of shipping. Their tactics are to cause minor troubles in order to hold up shipping generally. When I was overseas recently I travelled in the company of the managing director of a small shipping line which has its head-quarters in Glasgow. While we were visiting various ship-building yards we discussed the troubles in the industry generally, and he asked me why ships were held up for such a long time in Australian ports. I told him that if he named specific ships which had been held up I could, perhaps, find out the reason for the delays. He replied that he would forward such information to me. A few days ago I received a letter from that gentleman who is the managing director of the Lyle Shipping Company Limited ‘ of St. Vincent-street, Glasgow, whose vessels are mainly cargo ships engaged in the carriage of wheat, flour and foodstuffs generally. The first ship he mentioned was Blairclova. Its loading port was Sydney where it arrived on the 31st May, 1948, and its sailing date was the 13th July, 1948. It loaded 7,814 tons of hulk grain and it was 44 days in port at Sydney.
– There may be an answer to that.
– There is an answer ; other ships were ahead of it, and they were held up. However, the fact remains that it took seven days to load its cargo. That works out at a rate of loading of 1,000 tons of bulk grain a day. The next vessel which my friend mentioned was Cape Corso which went to Melbourne for fitting. Although that joh was not a big one it took fifteen days. The vessel then proceeded to Geelong, where it loaded 9,102 tons of bulk wheat in ten days.
– There is nothing wrong with that; that is the average.
– One thousand tons a day is not a very satisfactory average rate for the loading of hulk grain. The vessel then proceeded to Newcastle for bunker coal where it remained three days loading coal. The next vessel was Cape Nelson, which loaded 9,163 tons of bagged wheat at Wallaroo in 22 days. The next vessel, Cape Ortegal, loaded general cargo at Melbourne, the loading taking twenty days. Another vessel, Cape Rodney, loaded 7,666 tons of oats in 28 days, although in that instance loading was delayed by rain and a docker’s strike. The next vessel, Cape York, loaded 9,035 tons of bagged flour at Sydney, taking 21 days, and Queen Adelaide, loaded about the same cargo of bagged flour in 22 days. Another vessel, Rocky Mountain’s Park, loaded 8,505 tons of bagged flour at Sydney in nineteen days and 9,326 tons of bulk wheat in Geelong in nineteen days. It then returned to Sydney, where it remained ten days undergoing some slight fitting adjustment. I do not cite those examples in any carping spirit, but in order to show what shippers overseas think of the turn-round of ships in this country. The rate of loading of foodstuffs is of unusual moment to-day when so many countries overseas are short of foodstuffs and shipping is inadequate. The turnround of ships could be accelerated. Even an improvement of one or two hours in respect of each ship would mean a substantial improvement over a period of twelve months. The Government has introduced this bill because we need more ships, and I am simply showing that the present position can be substantially improved by increasing the turn-round of ships. There must be some reason for the fact that the turn-round to-day is much slower than it was in the immediately pre-war years. If we are to hold this country and progress as we should we must accept the responsibility of doing our utmost towards the prevention of starvation in countries overseas. If we succeed in that task the peoples who are starving in other parts of the world will not be able to say that with an abundance of foodstuffs we are merely looking after ourselves and not bothering about any other people, or that, although shipping is inadequate, we are holding ships in port for longer periods than are necessary. That is the proposition which I put to the Government, and I believe that it is a fair proposition.
The third objective of the bill is to provide for the establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line. First, I point out that the mere establishment of a line by the Commonwealth will not put one more ship on the run between Australia and overseas or in the Australian coastal trade. This proposition merely amounts to taking over something that somebody else is now using and, perhaps, providing additional ships in the distant future. The mere establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line will not help to shift more goods from this country or to bring more goods to this country in the immediate future. I take it that one reason for this proposal is to increase shipping facilities between Australia and overseas, but the Government would be better advised to concentrate upon making greater use of the ships already in commission by increasing the turn-round of vessels in our ports. In that way the Government would benefit not only the Australian community but also peoples in need in countries overseas. I repeat that the mere establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line will not shift one additional ton of wheat, flour, wool or refrigerated cargo than is being shifted at present. Surely the Government is aware of our experience on a previous occasion when the Australian Government set up a shipping line during the first world war under conditions very similar to those existing to-day. At that time the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) purchased a number of vessels to accelerate the exportation of Australian raw material during 1916, 1917 and 1918. That line was established for a specific purpose. Indeed, its establishment was part of the war effort of this country during the first world war, and it did a remarkably good job. It was successful both from the point of view of goods carried and of profit. During World War I., those ships earned approximately £7,000,000 for the Treasury of this country.
– They also kept freights down.
– I shall deal with freights later. It is all very well to say that the vessels made a profit of £7,000,000; but from whom did that money come? It came from Australian exporters and importers. The £7,000,000 was profit made from the carriage of goods to and from this country.
– If those ships made £7,000,000, what had the other shipping lines been making previously?
– I am not quibbling about the profit of £7,000,000. Government supporters are always arguing that shipping lines should be operated for the benefit of the community, but these ships made a profit of £7,000,000 ! Clearly, therefore, no attempt was made at that time by the line to reduce freights. It accepted the profits that were offering. That was quite justifiable, and I have no quarrel on that score. I am merely pointing out that any shipping line can make profits in war-time because the demand for shipping space is such that holds are always full. Freight rates are a minor consideration, because time is of the essence of the contract. A similar position arose during World War II. Again, profits on the carriage of goods by sea were substantial. The demand for cargo space was immense, and there was no need for ships to travel unladen. But let us return to the events following the purchase of ships by the Commonwealth in 1916. What happened after the war, when shipping tonnage increased and trade returned to normal? Profits dwindled gradually until, eventually, the government of the day had to consider seriously whether the retention of the vessels was justified. I remind the Senate that Australia was not the only country that had embarked upon the ownership of a shipping line during World War I. Canada had taken similar action, and the history of the Canadian shipping line provides an extraordinary parallel with that of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. At page 653 the Canada Year Book of 1926 deals with the Canadian Government merchant marine in these words -
Prior to December 31, 1019, nineteen vessels had been delivered by the builders. Additions were made to the fleet in the following years until the total fleet, as at December 31, 1924, numbered 57 vessels of a total deadweight tonnage of 353,450. Through sale or loss of vessels the fleet was reduced to 49 vessels with a deadweight tonnage of 324,986 at December 31, 1925. With regard to ownership and operation, a separate company was organized for each vessel, and the capital stock of each is owned by the Canadian Government Merchant Marine Limited. Under an operating agreement with each of these companies, the Canadian Government Merchant Marine Limited operates all the steamers and keeps a separate account for each company. Promissory notes have been given to the Minister of Finance and ReceiverGeneral for the total capital stock of each vessel, with interest payable at 5J per cent, per annum.
Early operations proved profitable, and a surplus of 1,004,233 dollars (without provision for interest charges) was shown for the year ended December 31, 1920. Subsequent years, however, have shown the effects of the depression in the shipping industry, and annual deficits of 8,047,635 dollars, 9,649,479 dollars, 9,368,670 dollars, 8,836,609 dollars and 7,667,512 dollars are shown for 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924 and 1925 respectively. As a result, the Board of Directors has proposed further reductions in the number of vessels (only the larger, speedier and specialized ships to be retained) .
Eventually the Canadian Government was forced to rid itself of the ships. What happened in this country? In 1923, the Bruce-Page Government was in office and at least some .members of it strongly favoured the disposal to private enterprise of the Commonwealth-owned ships. However, to give the line a fair trial, the Government set up the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board under an act of Parliament passed in July, 1923. That hoard was similar to the authority now proposed by the Labour Government. The Bruce-Page Government decided that it would do everything possible to put the Commonwealth vessels on a .paying basis.
– Where did the honorable senator get that information?
– It is all in the Year-Boohs of that period, and honorable senators may read in Hansard a full report of the debates that took place both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives. The Commonwealth Shipping Act was given Royal assent on the 31st July, 1923.
– The Board then constituted was quite different from that envisaged in this legislation.
– Let me proceed with the story in my own way. The act brought the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers into being. The controlling board was an independent authority of not less than three and not more than five directors, who were completely free from political control. Although the value of the ships was shown in the Government’s accounts as approximately £14,000,000, that sum was written down to £4.725,000, so that the line could commence operations free from over-loaded capital charges. The line was then composed of 54 vessels including the five 13,000 tons “ Bay “ liners, which had cost approximately £1,000,000 each. Those ships were handed over to the board at a valuation of £600,000 each. Clearly, therefore, the Bruce-Page Government had. no desire to kill the enterprise, but, on the contrary, was doing everything in its power to facilitate its successful operation. However, in succeeding years, the line suffered heavy losses, and later the Public Accounts Committee was asked to investigate and report upon its finances. The committee presented its report on the 28th September, 1927, and, on page 14 of the report, the losses suffered by the line were shown as follows: -
There is no need for me to deal in detail with the strikes and other troubles that affected the line during that period. The chairman of the board, Mr. Larkin, was placed in an intolerable position, and operations were carried on only with the utmost difficulty notwithstanding the fact that the crews of the ships were better paid than were any other British seamen and enjoyed excellent conditions. The difference between the rates of pay of Australian crews and those of English crews was very much in favour of the Australians, and there were no complaints from the unions regarding the conditions under which men were employed on Commonwealth ships. I shall not deal with that aspect of the subject at further length because the facts are available and honorable senators can easily obtain them.
Several honorable senators have referred by interjection to freight rates and have claimed that low freight rates helped the farmers. But did the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers help to reduce freight rates? If the Minister cares to examine the history of the line, he will observe that in 1927, when the report from which I have quoted was presented, there were only seven ships still in the service of the line. They were the five “ Bay “ vessels and two cargo vessels. What effect could seven ships have against the enormous tonnage of shipping that was then operating to Australia? Only 2 per cent, of Australia’s wheat exports and only 3 per cent, of its wool exports were carried by the Commonwealth line.
– The honorable senator is putting up a good tale.
– -That is no tale. The statistics speak for themselves. I admit that Commonwealth ships carried refrigerated cargo, but I point out that many of the ships trading to Australia at that time did not belong to the Inchcape shipping trust, or whatever honorable senators opposite may call it. Norwegian, Danish, Italian and American ships, and vessels owned by free lines in Great Britain, carried cargoes to and from our shores. Vessels from every maritime country in the world operated to Australia, and freights were reduced for the reason that will again lead to their reduction. The supply of ships will overtake the demand for cargo space. That circumstance caused freights to be reduced then. The reduction had nothing to do with the operations of the few ships owned by the Commonwealth line. Most of the smaller ships owned by the line varied from 3,000 tons to 6,000 tons burden, and the tonnage of some was as low as 1,100. The five “Bay” ships, which were good vessels, had a tonnage of .between 13,000 and 14,000. The relatively small volume of cargo that those ships carried could have had no effect upon the freight rates charged by the owners of the hundreds of larger ships from all parts of the world, which were competing strenuously with each other, not with the Commonwealth line. As shipping space became more readily available, the owners, being anxious to fill their ships, naturally reduced freight rates.
The sale of the ships has been mentioned by interjection. The ships were offered for sale during the latter part of 1927, upon the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee of this Parliament. Only three tenders were submitted, and the government of the day accepted that of the White Star Line, which offered a price of £1,900,000. We all know that the White Star Line went into liquidation at a later date, owing the Australian Government an amount of £400,000. Admittedly the Commonwealth lost £400,000 as the result of that circumstance, but we ought to consider the fact that the operation of the line was costing the Australian public £500,000 every year. In fact, the annual financial loss of the line had increased at the time of the sale to £570,000. The loss of £400,000 resulting from the liquidation of the White Star Line was not the fault of the Government of the day. It sold the ships in good faith for a price of £1,900,000 to a reputable shipping company, which was not the only concern that went into liquidation about that time. I consider that the taxpayers of Australia were very fortunate to escape from the commitment at such a little cost. Had the line carried on the annual rate of loss would probably have increased to £600,000. The country has not suffered as the result of the sale of those ships. Plenty of vessels have come to Australia to load our exportable goods, and we have heard no protests from primary producers about exorbitant freight rates. Of course, freight charges are always increased when the supply of shipping space falls below the demand. I have traced in detail the history of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers and a similar governmentowned Canadian line, both of which sustained very heavy financial losses after the special need which led to their establishment ceased to exist. The creation of each of those Government-owned shipping lines was a war-time emergency measure, and each service operated very well for its special purpose. However, when the period of emergency ended, private enterprise was able to provide essential shipping services at reasonable charges. Realizing that the “ Bay “ ships operated at a loss under public ownership, we must also realize that the services which they provided were therefore more costly than those of privately owned vessels in spite of low freight rates. I point to those facts in order to warn the people of the position into which they are being led again by this Government.
The history of experimental State enterprises in Australia is not a happy one. I estimate that 90 per cent, of such enterprises have failed dismally. Their sponsors were forced eventually to discontinue them at considerable financial loss to the people. I acknowledge that some State enterprises have been conducted successfully. No doubt the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice) will ask, “ What about the State insurance scheme in Queensland ? “ I agree that that scheme has been successful, but it enjoys the advantage of being a monopoly. Without detracting from its success in any way,. I consider that, by and large, experimental State ownership of cattle stations,, butcher shops and fish shops in Western Australia and Queensland, the Tasmanian shipping service, and many other projects^
– What about the State shipping service in Western Australia?
– That is one of thefew ventures that have not failed dismally. I concede that 10 per cent, of such State projects have turned out well, but, considering the 90 per cent, that have failed, the over-all result has been very bad. I forecast failure for the proposed new Commonwealth line of ships. Another Commonwealth experiment in transport has been the establishment of Trans-Australia Airlines. That airline provides a reasonable service, but not a better one than is provided by companies which are competing with it. The competing companies have forced’
Trans-Australia Airlines to reduce fares to much lower levels than would otherwise have been charged. [Extension of time granted.] Trans-Australia Airlines was established with approximately £3,670,000 of the taxpayers’ money and, up to the present, it has disclosed accumulated losses of £808,257. The organization has not paid any interest and has not paid taxes. Millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money have been invested in that unsuccessful venture. Now the Government proposes to go one step further along the disastrous road of State enterprise and to invest public money in the establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line. Had the Minister been able to show that even six new ships would be in operation within the first twelve months of operation of the line, there would have been some justification for the undertaking. But the fact is that not one additional ship will go into service as the result of the Government’s action. As I have shown, State trading operations in Australia have failed dismally on the whole, and there is nothing to show that the proposed Commonwealth line of ships will not place an additional burden upon the taxpayers without providing them with any benefits in return. I am doing only my duty to the people by pointing out what has happened in the past and what undoubtedly will happen in the future. I must oppose the proposal for the establishment of a government shipping line, and, in doing so, I shall have to oppose the entire bill.
– Like the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), I shall deal with this bill in two phases. First I shall deal with the building of ships, and secondly I shall deal with the proposed Commonwealth line of ships. I shall endeavour to do my best in spite of the partial black-out in this chamber, which prevents me from referring to the notes that I have prepared for my speech. I shall refer to the subject of this obscurity on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate rat a later stage. Ship-building in Australia had receded to a very low ebb when “World War II. broke upon us. That was the result of the short-sighted policy of previous administrations, re gardless of their political character, which had held the reins of government in theCommonwealth. As every honorable senator is aware, there were times when tens of thousands of unemployed could profitably have been employed in theconstruction of. ships for the economicdevelopment and the defence of thiscountry. However, the shipbuildingindustry was eventually established in Australia, and its purpose was not only to construct and repair Australian vesselsbut also to repair the vessels of other nations to meet the demands of the recent war. Now that the industry has been established it is vitally important, for two main reasons, that its development should continue. The first reason is theelimination of the waste of hundreds of thousands of tons of foodstuffs which weare still losing through lack of sufficient shipping. The second reason is that the-, menacing condition of world affairs demands that Australia should not be unprepared in another emergency. In any event, it is obvious that shipping will be in great demand throughout the world during the next few years. Apart from the disturbed state of affairs in Europe, the happenings in the countries to the north of Australia are sufficient to cause us the gravest concern. Civil war- is raging in many of them, and we do not know what may follow the termination of internecine hostilities or what nationalist ambitions some of those countries may cherish. Another sound reason which may be advanced in support of the development of the ship-building industry in this country is the market that undoubtedly exists in Eastern countries for ships of Australian construction. It has been proved beyond doubt that Australia can build vessels equal to those built in any part of the world, and whilst our present construction costs are comparatively high it should not be long before our costs decline, through increased production, sufficiently to enable the local industry to compete with overseas shipbuilders. In any event, even if our costs cannot be reduced to a competitive level, it may pay us handsomely to subsidize the industry in order to develop it.
I mentioned that during the war many millions of pounds’ worth of foodstuffs rotted and perished in this country, although half the world was in a state of semi-starvation. I remind honorable senators now that even as late as last year tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of foodstuffs could not be transported to the United Kingdom and other countries, where they were badly needed, because of the acute shortage of shipping. It is obvious, therefore, that the provision of adequate shipping is as essential as is the construction and maintenance of roads and railways. The development of Tasmania and Western Australia, in particular, has been severely handicapped by the lack of shipping. During the war, and since, those States have been deprived of the benefit of millions of pounds’ worth of foodstuffs which they have produced because it could not be shipped away. They are also deprived of the necessary imports from other States because sufficient shipping space is not available to transport to Tasmania and Western Australia the goods which they require! They have been unable even to obtain their quota of certain primary and secondary products.
Apart from the disability inflicted upon the States, many islands, particularly those off the coast of northern Australia, have suffered severe hardships and have been retarded in their development because of their dependence upon the shipping monopolies which control the coastal trade. If it suits those monopolies to withhold ships from the islands they do not hesitate to do so, regardless of the loss, inconvenience and suffering inflicted on the inhabitants. It is important to the economy and also to the defence of this country, that those islands be properly developed. Nevertheless, it is clear from our experience of the last two or three decades that the shipping companies have failed to provide the necessary service. The Government has no alternative, therefore, hut to establish a satisfactory national service. In my criticism of the shipping companies’ treatment of the islands I include also their treatment of Tasmania during the last 30 years. If Tasmania and the islands are to progress the Government must come to the rescue by carrying out its election promise to establish a line of ships. The introduction of the present measure represents the fulfilment of the Government’s pledge. I prophesy that when the Government line is established shipping freights, which have been increased from 400 to 500 per cent, since the war, will be reduced. In any event, primary producers and consumers in Tasmania and Western Australia cannot continue to pay the huge surcharge in the form of exorbitant shipping freights. Indeed, I think that the need to reduce the present high freights is a sufficient justification for the Government to establish a line of vessels. I do not care whether that line pays its way or not so long as it serves the economic development of this country as it should be served. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) referred to the profits made by the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers during World War I. He did not say who was responsible for the operation of that line at that time, but he said that the profits were distributed to the States. He went on to tell us that when the war ended a board was established to control the Commonwealth line, and that the profits of the line dwindled. Obviously, the diminution of profits must have been the fault of the hoard.
– The hoard was established for that purpose.
– It must have been. The board crippled the line and rapidly disposed of the vessels until, of the 54 vessels first mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, only five remained. The honorable senator did not tell us what happened to the other 49 vessels, ‘but almost implied that they simply disappeared. However, he did mention that the line sustained successive annual losses of approximately £300,000, £400,000 and £500,000. At the end of its term the board recommended that the remaining vessels should he sold. The vessels were sold, and as the Leader of the Opposition should recall more vividly than any one, freight charges to primary producers suddenly increased enormously. Although he did not mention it, the Leader of the Opposition must realize that the operation of the former Commonwealth line saved the primary producers of this country millions of pounds by keeping freights down to a. reasonable level.
– Can the honorable senator refer the Senate to any authentic in formation in support of his contention?
– Authentic proof is readily available in the form of official statistics if the Leader of the Opposition cares to refer to them. Of course, I realize that it suits the Leader of the Opposition to verify only those facts which support his political contentions; he is not interested in consulting authorities which do not support those contentions. Wo must remember that in any discussion of shipping we are dealing with something that is vital to the development and, indeed, to the continued survival of this country. The Leader of the Opposition, in the course of his criticism of governmental enterprise, alleged that not 10 per cent, of the enterprises established by governments have succeeded. Let me remind him of what happened during the recent war. How far did private enterprise take us in the defence of this country before the Government was compelled to intervene? How much ammunition was manufactured? How many guns, aircraft and ships were constructed ? What quantity of foodstuffs was produced? We all know that it was not until the Government intervened, and assumed control of production of the munitions of war, that we came into the picture at all. Let me remind the Leader of the Opposition that after two years of war we still had 200,000 unemployed. It was not until Labour assumed office and established State enterprises that we made any headway in providing for our defence. Australia’s war-time production was achieved largely by State enterprise-
– Inspectors had to be appointed to see that private enterprise did not rob us!
– That all occurred during a time of war.
– I am trying to show the honorable senator that if private enterprise is incapable of supplying our needs in time of war it is just as incapable of doing so in time of peace.
– That proves my argument, because–
– If State enterprise can pull us out of the mud in a time of emergency-
– But the Government can do that only in war-time; it cannot impose the same controls in peace-time.
– As soon as the time of danger is passed the opponents of Labour say, “ Labour should get out of office; everything it does is a failure”. They forget that Labour saved their skins from the Japanese.
– I can tell the honorable senator of failures of government enterprises during the war.
– There might have been an odd failure, but-
– Nobody suggested that the war should be run by private enterprise. Let the honorable senator be fair!
– The fact remains that in the greatest crisis which ever confronted this country private enterprise fell down on the job. State enterprise lifted us out of the hole and pulled us through. Now the Leader of the Opposition says that only 10 per cent, of government enterprises were successful; that 90 per cent, of them were failures. What a distorted picture to paint !
The honorable senator then turned his attention to Trans-Australia Airlines. Of course, that enterprise has nothing to do with shipping, but he chose to lump it with the former Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers in order to condemn it. The honorable senator quoted Trans-Australia Airlines as an example of humbug. When he mentioned the losses of that undertaking he should have taken into account the huge cost of training all of the pilots, engineers, mechanics and staff in connexion with the defence of this country. It cannot be denied that they form the nucleus of a defence force, which is the life blood of this country, and we have them under State control. That staff would have to be trained, whether controlled by Trans- Australia Airlines or not. If they were not under State control, we should be in a hopeless position if war broke out.
– What about the Australian National Airlines staff?
– If they were coopted in an emergency, the whole of the air transportation system would be paralysed. Whether or not a loss is incurred, we must train pilots in Australia, as mechanics and engineers are trained to operate ships. Although a loss is being incurred at present, I remind honorable senators that that loss would be infinitesimal compared with the expenditure that would be necessary to train the same staff in the Air Force of this country. I repeat that we have a nucleus of air defence staff which, together with the Royal Australian Air Force, would be a very strong arm in an emergency. I point out, also, that if the present rate of reduction of losses by Trans-Australia Airlines is maintained, that organization should, within a few years, be making a profit at least equivalent to the present losses. I claim that if the proposed Commonwealth line of steamers is condemned because of possible losses, that is a very short-sighted policy, when the economy and safety of this country are taken into account. Surely the fact that private shipping companies have increased freights by 400 and 500 per cent, is sufficient justification for the Commonwealth to step in to reduce freight charges, to prevent the crippling of industry. I do not agree with the honorable senator’s contention that if a Commonwealth line of steamers is established, not another ton of merchandise will he shipped than at present. I recall an occasion on which I was present at a port when a Commonwealth 3hip on charter to a private company tied up. The inward load comprised only five tons of cargo. It could have been 500 tons. The reason was that the private company took care to ensure that where it was possible to carry cargo back in their own ships they did so, and where it was possible to make an excuse to send a Commonwealth-chartered ship back empty, that was done because the Commonwealth subsidized the operations of those ships, and the greater the loss, the greater was the amount of subsidy received. In many instances the Commonwealth ships that were chartered to private companies were allowed to run almost empty. Apparently the Leader of the Opposition does not consider that they should carry full loads each way. I suggest that the honorable senator should make further investigations in this matter, to see whether he cannot find reasons in support of the operation of ships by the Commonwealth.
In view of instances such as the one that I have cited, I agree with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) that the Government has no alternative but to establish a Commonwealth shipping line. Freight charges have risen very steeply. One of my colleagues was recently charged £55 for the conveyance of his car from Melbourne to Tasmania and back. Prior to the war, the charge would have been no more than £15. The vehicle was merely lashed to the open deck, and was at the mercy of the elements. I believe it was a matter of indifference to the shipping company whether they undertook the carriage of the vehicle or not, and that attitude applies in many instances these days. The private shipping companies are delaying the removal of cargo from various ports, in an endeavour to annoy the farmers as much as possible. Although plenty of ships have been available, and time has been ample, the cargoes have been held up solely for political reasons. Because the Government has played a part in the control of ships, the private companies have tried to hamper the movement of cargoes and bring the Government into disfavour.
Whilst the railway system operates throughout Queensland, and the Queensland ports enjoy a fair measure of preference in relation to shipping, I point out that Tasmania is not so favorably circumstanced. This matter must be approached from a national rather than a selfish State point of view. I maintain that if the proposed Commonwealth line of steamers is not established, the day is not far distant when, regardless of the cost involved, almost all types of goods will be carried by air, because the interstate shipping companies have large interests in the air services. I remind honorable senators that Australian National Airways is about to become a public company. In a sense it has been a public company for a long time, so far as the shipping companies are concerned. It is only necessary to peruse the list of shareholders to realize who have been controlling the airlines of Australia. The statements that lave been made in the public press have been denied by the Opposition.
– Are all of the shares owned by the shipping combine?
– Probably the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) knows more than is contained in the published statement of the chairman of directors.
– They could not fool the honorable senator !
– I should not be here if they could. It is obvious that the Government must counter that combine in some way or be prepared to go out of office. The big shipping companies are gaining control of the air-lines, and unless something concrete is done, the people will be paying ls. a lb. to freight everything by air. We are determined to fight any organization that pits itself against this Government -to defeat the economy, development and transportation requirements of this country, and I think that we shall win. That is why the Government proposes to operate a line of steamers.
Recently, the Repco Ball Bearing Company, of Mowbray Heights, Launceston, imported hundreds of tons of machinery, and was compelled to freight it by air in order to push on with its installation. “The company did that rather than -suffer long delays and await the convenience of private shipping companies, and despite the enormous cost of air freight. I do not believe that the Commonwealth authorities are so devoid of intelligence that they could not combat that state of affairs by undertaking the carriage of heavy cargo in government-owned ships over long distances. Regardless of what the Opposition and shipping combines may say, we are not going to be defeated in our plans for the economic development and defence of Australia.
– I was very pleased this afternoon to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) give his blessing and full support to the measure proposed by the Government. He afterwards mentioned some matters which were disturbing his mind. I suggest that if he carefully peruses the Minister’s second-reading speech, those disturbing thoughts will be cleared up. At the outset, he stated that in 1940, twelve months after the beginning of the war, another government woke up to the fact that we were very short of shipping in this country, and it proceeded to establish a shipping board, with power to control and provide shipping during the war period. As the honorable senator admitted, that board failed lamentably because the government of the day did not take notice of the people who really deal with wars and fight them, and know what is necessary in war-time. In 1916-18, the then Leader of the Labour Government in this Parliament realized what would be the result of the neglect of previous governments prior to the outbreak of World War I., and, with the knowledge he had gained in the great labour and trade union movements, he was able to impress upon the Parliament the necessity to establish a Commonwealth shipping line. Under the Hughes Administration of those years, the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was established. As pointed out by Senator Cooper, we were faced with similar difficulties at the outbreak of World War II. One of the objectives of the present measure is that we shall not again be placed in such an invidious position should a crisis occur. The Leader of the Opposition has mentioned that there is a shortage of steel in this country for shipbuilding. That is common knowledge. He also mentioned that he had visited some of the shipbuilding yards in England, and said that steel production in that country had increased by 100 per cent, since the termination of the war. I shall tell the Leader of the Opposition the reason: a Labour administration in England has nationalized the coal-mining industry and has thus made available ample coal for the production of steel. At the same time that Government has provided amenities for the workers in the steel industry. If that is not so I should like to know from Senator O’Sullivan, who is interjecting, why private enterprise prior to and during the last world war could not produce sufficient steel to meet the requirements of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The Leader of the Opposition says that to-day ample steel is available to meet all requirements in Great Britain where production has been increased by 100 per cent.
– The steel industry in Great Britain has not been nationalized.
– No, but the day will soon come when it will be. Under a Labour Government the coalmining industry in Great Britain has been nationalized, whereas previously sufficient coal was not available to meet the requirements of British industry.
– No coal is being exported from Great Britain to-day.
– The Minister for Mines in Victoria has just been to England to purchase coal for the Victorian Government. I admit that it is wrong that any State should have to import coal from overseas. However, the point I make is that prior to the outbreak of the last world war anti-Labour governments in this country failed to provide for the emergency of war. That was so not only here but also in Great Britain. I assure all honorable senators that the passage of this measure will prevent a repetition of the conditions which existed in 1939. The Leader of the Opposition also dealt with the slow turn-around of ships which he attributed to the “ Corns “. I do not know whether he, like so many of his party colleagues in the House of Representatives, has “ Com-phobia “, but if be is so afflicted, I assure him that, under non-Labour administrations which he supported, the number of “ Corns “ in this country was increasing to great numbers. Under the sane administration of the Chifley Government the “ Corns “, unfortunately for the Opposition parties in this Parliament, are gradually decreasing’ in numbers. When the Communist party in this country dies a natural death under Labour governments I do not know what bogy the Opposition parties will be able to raise. What I say is proven by the fact that, whereas at the 1945 State elections in Victoria the Communist candidate who opposed the successful Labour candidate in the Port Melbourne electorate polled 4,500 votes, in the State elections in 1947 the Communist candidate in that electorate polled only 1,200 votes. The only way to eliminate the “ Corns “ from our midst is by a sane programme of legislation for the provision of full employment, adequate social services and economic security. I assure the members of the Opposition that under Labour governments it will not be long before the conditions resulting from maladministration on the part of past governments are rectified and the Communists entirely eliminated. This Government is determined to prevent a recurrence of the conditions which existed under anti-Labour governments.
The Leader of the Opposition also criticized the audacity of the wharf labourers of Townsville and Cairns in wanting cool water supplied to them. I remind him that in this chamber where we sit in luxury honorable senators are provided with iced water. If we are entitled to iced water under the conditions under which we work here, surely the wharf labourers in the far north are entitled to have cool water made available to them.
– Here, of course, we have to listen to the honorable senator.
– More wharf labourers are needed in Townsville and the honorable senator would be doing a better job for the nation if he went to work on the wharfs. The Leader of the Opposition objected to wharf labourers in Townsville and Cairns asking for cold water. Even the chap who humps his “ bluey “ on the track supplies himself with a water-bag.
– I said that the wharf labourers at Townsville demanded iced water, not cool, or cold, water.
– I understood the Leader of the Opposition to say cold water. He also mentioned the legislation passed by the Bruce-Page Government in 1923 for the purpose of placing the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers under the control of a shipping board. Surely, he does not suggest that that action was taken in the interests of the primary producers or the workers of this country. In any event, the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, as the honorable senator admitted, made a profit of £7,000,000. In the face of that fact even the audacious Bruce-Page combination was not game enough to dispose of that line at that stage, so they placed it under the control of a shipping board which entered into trading arrangements with private shipping lines. Surely, it cannot be argued that a Commonwealth line of ships which was capable of making a profit of £7,000,000 should have been allowed to go out of business. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition made the excuse that that profit was made under war-time conditions when ships’ holds were invariably filled to capacity and conditions were not comparable with those of peace-time. I should like him to cite one privately-owned line of ships which went “broke” after the first world war. We know what happened in those days. We know the class of freight which the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was obliged to cater for and the class of freight which was reserved exclusively for the privately-owned shipping lines. The high-class freight .was always made available to the private companies which paid lower rates of wages to their employees than the Government line paid to its employees, although only the lower cost freight was made available to the Government line. In those circumstances it was not surprising that the shipping board at that time was able to report to the Government - and, incidentally, it was a minority report - that the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was not paying and should be sold. If it is necessary to expedite the transport of commodities during a war it is doubly necessary to do so under peacetime conditions. How can any one justify the action of the Bruce-Page Government in disposing of that shipping line two or three years after it had made a profit of £7,000,000? At the time it was sold it was reported to be losing £500,000 per annum. The Bruce-Page Government ruined that line, but in doing so “ Stanley Melbourne Bruce” killed himself politically. “Billy” Hughes had previously killed himself politically and “ Bob “ Menzies killed himself politically in 1941 because of his maladministration of affairs in this country. When this measure is passed the people of Australia can rest assured that the conditions under which the nation was saddled with a huge debt through the mal-administration and sale of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers and placed in the dangerous position in which we found ourselves in 1939 will not be allowed to recur. Why did the Australian Commonwealth Line of ships more than pay its way during World War I? Why was private enterprise so glad to allow that line to remain in the Government’s hands at that time? The answer is that private enterprise realizes that only the National Government can prosecute a war effort successfully. That fact was proven in both world wars. When the last war broke out we were short of shipping and private enterprise was glad to hand over ships under charter to the Australian Government. Although the shipping available was inadequate to meet the nation’s needs the Government achieved a 100 per cent, war effort in the interests of this country and the British Commonwealth of Nations. However, when war has passed private enterprise will not tolerate interference from any government but desires to get back to conditions under which it can make huge profits. What happened when the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was sold? On my way to work each morning in Melbourne I used to see many of those vessels tied up in the bay absolutely idle. Yet the Leader of the Opposition calmly says that the line went “ broke “. It went “ broke “ because it was never given an opportunity to compete on its own terms with private enterprise. Anti-labour governments pursued that policy not only with respect to shipping but also in other spheres. The Leader of the Opposition had the audacity to cite Trans-Australia Airlines in his criticism of government enterprise. His illustration was unfortunate from his point of view because I assure him that in the near future he and other critics of Trans-Australia Airlines will be obliged to eat their words. The people of Australia are resolved that they will never again be sold out by traitors as they were after World War I. The people know that the Labour party in this Parliament was never so solid as it is to-day when it enjoys the honour of having 76 members in both Houses with 75 of them solidly behind Mr. Chifley who is one of the greatest leaders the party has ever had. The people can rest assured that spectacle which they witnessed at the beginning of the last war when this country was sold out by traitors will not recur. The Government’s operation of TransAustralia Airlines will prove as successful as did its control of the nation’s affairs during the last war. It has been said that, possibly ships could be purchased overseas at a price lower than the cost of building them in this country. That view is not well-founded because there are no better, or faster, tradesmen, or workers who do a better job than Australian workmen, and I have no doubt that they will prove to the Opposition parties in this Parliament and also to the people that they can build ships equally as good as any that can be launched in shipbuilding yards overseas.
– They proved that during the war.
– Yes; and because they did so private enterprise is afraid. The great shipbuilding magnates here and in other countries have sat back in the lap of luxury, but now they see the writing on the wall. The profits from the new Commonwealth Government line will not go into the coffers of private enterprise, but into the coffers of the Australian people. Instead of Australians being exploited as they have been in the past 160 years by influential overseas magnates, the profits of at least part of the shipping industry in this country, like those of certain other Australian industries, will go to the Treasury. The Leader of the Opposition, speaking of the former Commonwealth shipping line, endeavoured to create the impression that profits amounting to £7,000,000 had been amassed by private individuals. I asked, by interjection, “ Surely you do not suggest that ‘ Billy ‘ Hughes pinched them ? “ Had I not made that interjection, the honorable senator probably would not have explained that the £7,000,000 was paid into the Commonwealth Treasury and thus assisted the development of this great nation. The purpose of this bill is to foster that development.
The proposed shipping line will not operate in the interests of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), or any private members of the Government. It will operate in the interests of thenation. This bill will be administered for the benefit of those Australians whoreally count - the people who work - and not in the interests of private enterprisewhich, in the past, has dictated to governments of this country. Labour legislatesfor the people. The purpose of this bil! is to develop Australia, and not to make it a barnacle impeding the progress of our great ship the British Commonwealth of Nations. Australia is one of the most important components of that Commonwealth, and must be permitted to play itspart. For generations we were told that Australia should content itself with producing a few bales of wool and a few bags of wheat, and that if ever our shores had to be defended, the British Navy and Army would be ready. Even the simplest school child knows now that that policy was all “hooey”. The individuals whomisled the Australian people in those days were those who, in World War II., were prepared to sell the great British flag tofascism and Nazi-ism. I warn the opponents of this legislation to be careful,, because one day their actions may deprive them of the privileges that we enjoy under the British flag and for which British and Australian workers have sweated and’ shed their blood. This Government isa government of the people, and it is prepared to meet any emergency that may arise. Had the development of Australia been left to the profit-makers where should we have been to-day? Think of our vast coastline and huge underdeveloped areas! Why has the great Australian outback not been developed?” The reason is that since federation Labour has been in office in the Commonwealth sphere virtually only during thetwo wars. Because of the insidious and malicious propaganda of the present Opposition parties, Labour in the past 5’f> years has been usually cast aside at elections but, with perseverance and teaching; we have at last made the people of this country realize that Labour governs in the interests of the people. The great majority of Australian citizens have no doubt about this now, because they have in their hands the fruits of Labour’s wise administration. There will not be a repetition of Labour’s defeat after World War I. This Government will be privileged to continue in office for many years and so to develop this country into the great nation that it is destined to be. The bill now before the Senate is only one of the measures that the Government has in mind to achieve that end.
The establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line will facilitate the development of Australian outback areas. Just imagine, in this young nation of 7,000,000 people, Sydney is the third largest city in the British Empire ! That is tragic. We should develop our unpopulated areas. That development has been hindered in the past because of the greedy administration of private enterprise which believes that the greatest profits come through centralization. Private enterprise does not agree with Labour that the greatest benefit for all conies through decentralization. In Victoria, there are great opportunities for development by establishing ports at Geelong, Portland and other places, but this has ‘been stultified by successive antiLabour administrations which have bowed to the dictates of private enterprise. Because private enterprise has made many millions of pounds from the ports close to Melbourne, much of Victoria remains undeveloped. A port should have been built at Portland many. years ugo so that overseas vessels could have called and thus developed the surrounding district, but the Dalgetys, Darlings and Younghusband^ do not believe in decentralization. A Commonwealth line of ships will break existing monopolies. We are not concerned whether the line returns profits in its initial stages. There is need for the development of new shipping routes in this country just as there was a need in earlier days for developmental railways. Would any one suggest, for instance, that the great Victorian railways system should be in the hands of private enterprise as similar systems are or were in Great Britain?
Railways have been ‘built throughout this country not as profit-making ventures but to lay the foundation of a prosperous nation. Profits are not essential so long as transport services are conducted on sound business lines and contribute to primary production and the development of secondary industries.
The Minister has given an assurance that the Commonwealth vessels will be used to develop many of the smaller ports on our coast line which, so far, have been neglected. I congratulate the Minister on his second-reading speech. It is comprehensive and conveys a clear picture of the Government’s proposals. I was particularly interested in the following passage : -
The Australian Shipping Board, however, operates the vessels in the public interest in view of the necessity for maintaining shipments of essential commodities such as coal, ironstone, timber, sugar, &c.
On numerous occasions recently the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice) has been questioned in this chamber about sugar shortages in the southern States of the Commonwealth. Sometimes blame has been placed on the waterside workers, and sometimes on shipping, but always the Government has been held responsible. Some honorable senators would have us believe that the “ Corns “ lie at the root of the trouble, but that is untrue. The fault lies with the maladministration of anti-Labour governments in years gone by. They never intended to build this country into a great nation.
– What about the administration during the last seven years ?
– I could tell the honorable senator quite a lot about that.
– not mind that so long as what the honorable senator says is true.
– I assure the honorable senator that he need never question the veracity of any member of the Labour party, which is more than can be said for the anti-Labour press. Since I became a member of this chamber I have made many speeches on many topics but they have passed without publicity. I have heard Senator O’sullivan make similar contributions to debates and have invariably found them printed word for word in the Melbourne Herald and the Melbourne Sun News Pictorial. It is not difficult to know, therefore, who Senator O’Sullivan represents in this chamber. Certainly he does not represent Australian citizens who are struggling to build their country into a great nation. His supporters are those who, prior to the outbreak of World War II., conspired to bring about the defeat of the British flag. The honorable senator cannot deny that, and I make the charge in all seriousness.
– The honorable senator should be careful ; he is embarrassing his friends.
– No. What I have said is correct. Senator O’Sullivan’s speeches in this chamber are published under black headlines in the Melbourne press. Honorable senators may draw their own conclusions about who Senator O’Sullivan represents in this chamber.
– Undoubtedly my speeches are worth publicity, but I seldom see them in print.
– I shall bring copies of Melbourne newspapers into the chamber to-morrow. The Minister also said in his second-reading speech -
A further point is that the Australian Shipping Board is operating vessels in what might be termed “ developmental routes “ and to ports which are not served, or are not adequately served, by the vessels owned by the private companies owing to the fact that the cargoes available are not sufficient to enable ships to call there on a profitable basis.
Private enterprise is not prepared to open up remote ports because there would not be any profit in shipping services to those ports. When this measure has been carried, its provisions will not be maladministered and sabotaged as antiLabour governments sabotaged the operations of the original Australian Commonwealth line of steamers. Labour, I am confident, will remain in office to operate the Commonwealth shipping line in the same efficient manner as it has controlled other industries during the past seven years.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8.0 p.m.
– The introduction of this legislation tocreate a Commonwealth shipping line provides further evidence of the cleaning up that devolves upon Labour governments after the conservative anti-Labour parties have done their wrecking. The Government i« to be congratulated upon its decision to create a Commonwealth shipping hue. The necessity for such a line is obvious. Because of our geographicsituation, we are very dependent upon, shipping services and we have found byexperience that we cannot safely depend upon private enterprise to provide theservices that we require. I was verypleased to hear that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) did not offer too much opposition to the measure. He said that he disagreed with a portion’ of the bill. Obviously his disagreement arose from his fear that it would involve the nationalization of the shipping industry. The honorable senator, of course, is running true to form. He has the nationalization “ bug “. The political’ history of anti-Labour parties in this country, under all of the numerous names by which they have masqueraded, discloses a long list of “ sell-outs “.
The Labour party has always done the right thing for the people when it has been in power in the Commonwealth sphere. During World War I. it established the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. Even prior to that, it had established the Commonwealth Bank. At every opportunity it has done something tangible for the benefit of the nation as a whole. The anti-Labour parties, the wreckers, always start upon a programme of destruction in the interests of private enterprise whenever they gain power from the Labour partyafter danger to the country has passed. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of losses sustained by the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. Those figures were fictitious. He said, on one hand, that the line had earned a profit of £7,000,000 during World War I., and then, on the other hand, declared that it had been sold after the war because it could not be operated at a profit. He ignored altogether the fact that the line served the people and saved them many millions of pounds indirectly by keeping freight rates down to a low level, by providing service for them, and by helping to open up the country. The honorable gentleman is well aware of that fact, but he will not admit it. The wrecking activities of anti-Labour parties have not been confined only to the shipping line.
After World War I., as soon as the opportunity presented itself to them, they sold the Commonwealth Woollen Mills also to private interests. They were not concerned about the benefit that would have accrued to the people had the mills been retained by the Commonwealth and conducted on behalf of the people. They were solely concerned about the vested interests which they represented. Another example of selling out to private interests by anti-Labour governments occurred in 1924, when the Bruce-Page Government “sold out” the Commonwealth Bank to the private banking interests. The Leader of the Opposition mentioned the fact that a board had been established in 1923 to control the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. That board was hand-picked and appointed for the specific purpose of selling out the line to private interests as soon as possible. It was appointed by the government of the day as a face-saving device. Instead of selling out the line holus bolus on its own initiative, the government created that board and used the excuse, after it had operated for a while, that a “ competent shipping board “ had advised the sale of the line. The Leader of the Opposition remarked that an amount of £400,000 is still owing to the Commonwealth for the ships that it sold. He also said that, at the time of the sale, the line had gradually dwindled until only five ships, the “Bay” steamers, were left. However, honorable senators opposite never tell the full story of their misdeeds. The Government at that time was led by the Nationalist party, as it was then called. Incidentally, I understand that there is talk of its successor, the Liberal party, changing its name again, at least in Victoria, purely and simply for the purpose of hoodwinking the people.
In 1924 the Bruce-Page Government established the Commonwealth Bank Board. One need only examine the names of the members of the original board in order to understand how fictitious were the arguments used in support of their appointment. It was another handpicked board representative of the private financial interests of this country. Prom 1924 until a Labour government introduced special banking legislation in 1945, the Commonwealth Bank was absolutely hamstrung and powerless to operate the financial machinery of Australia in the interests of the people. During the discussion of later banking legislation in this Parliament in 1947, opponents of this Government freely stated in this Parliament, and from public platforms, radio stations and the pages of newspapers, that citizens who had applied to the Commonwealth Bank for assistance had been unable to secure accommodation and had been forced to turn to the private banks. That was one of the half-truths that our opponents are accustomed to use. They told the truth up to a point, but they did not tell the whole story. The real truth was that, under a Commonwealth Bank Board subservient to the private banking interests, the Commonwealth Bank had not been permitted to take business away from the private banks. The appointment of the Commonwealth Bank Board in 1924 was another example of a complete sell-out by the anti-Labour parties to the banking interests. In order to restrict the Commonwealth Bank even further, Mr. R. G. Casey, our “repatriated rajah “, introduced in 1938 legislation, the effect of which would have been to hand over control of the Commonwealth Bank to the private trading banks and place it irrevocably out of the control of the government of the country.
The instances which I have cited in relation to the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers and the Commonwealth Bank provide evidence of the insincerity and the un-Australian outlook of the conservative parties in this country. Their only concern, when the country is not in immediate danger, is to advance as much as possible the special interests of the people whom they represent in this Parliament. They are not principally concerned with the welfare of the general mass of the people. Their entire political history points to that fact. Anybody who has read the book Guilty Men, written by Cato, must agree that, if the political history of this country were to be described by the same author, the members of anti-Labour governments that controlled Australia for many years prior to 1939 would be included in the category of guilty men. The Leader of the Opposition endeavoured to claim some praise for the Opposition parties by saying that an anti-Labour government had realized in 1940 that we needed ships and had started a shipbuilding industry. Unfortunately, it made its decision to do so twelve months after World War II. had started. I remind the honorable gentleman that the government which he supported was fully aware in 1938 of the inevitability of war, yet, on his own admission, it did nothing to encourage shipbuilding until we had been at war for twelve months. Incidentally, that antiLabour government had the indictable record, after two years of war, from 1939 to 1941, of having 200,000 or 300,000 unemployed in Australia although the nation was supposedly engaged in a total war effort. Everybody knows, as a matter of history, that nothing tangible was done to gear Australia for a successful war effort until the Labour party gained power in this Parliament in 1941. Members of the Opposition have to admit that fact. The people of Australia recognize it, because they returned the Labour party to power by overwhelming majorities in 1943 and 1946. I am certain that the Labour party will again be returned to office in 1949.
Examination of the facts shows that there is no basis for comparison between the records of anti-Labour governments during their many years of mismanagement and of the Labour governments that have been in power in Australia since 1941. For a long time prior to the outbreak of war in 1939, almost everybody realized that war was inevitable. Yet nothing was done by the composite antiLabour governments of those years to establish shipbuilding facilities in Australia. That was admitted by the Leader of the Opposition. But this Labour Government has established a shipbuilding industry of which we may be proud. The record of that industry under a Labour administration is amazing in the light of the fact that shipbuilding was practically unknown in Australia prior to the outbreak of World War II. Consider the achievements of Labour since 1941. In Ten Years of War and Peace, a pamphlet issued by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr.. Holloway), the Minister states -
Since 1941, no less than 25 ships have been built, launched and put into commission, with, a total deadweight tonnage of 154,000. Of those, thirteen ships were of 9,000 deadweight tons, two were 6,500 tons, and eight were 3,000’ deadweight tons per ship, and the only criticism I have heard is that they are built toowell.
A further 44 vessels aggregating 205,100- deadweight tons are scheduled for construction, of which work is proceeding on nineteen vessels, comprising ten of 6,500 deadweight tons, six of 3,000 deadweight tons, and three of 700 deadweight tons.
A magnificent achievement during the war years was thd repair of 12,160 merchant vesselstotalling 53,079,182 tons, some of which were very badly damaged.
Incidentally, the available expert advicedemonstrates that ships of Australian construction are equal to those built in any other country. The number of vessels repaired and their total tonnageconstitute a record of which any government may be justly proud. Indeed, it is a record which the Opposition parties could not achieve when they were inoffice. In any event, it would not suit the interests which honorable senators opposite represent to establish Australian enterprise on such a scale.
Reference has been made to comparative costs of construction, and examination of the relevant statistics shows Australian costs in a very favorable light. Reliable statistics which were published recently show that the comparative costsof construction in Australia and overseasare as follows : United Kingdom oneunit, Sweden .95, Canada 1.23, Australia 1.3, United States of America 1.75, Denmark 1, Italy 1.5, Spain 1.4. Thosestatistics indicate clearly that construction costs in Australia are satisfactory.
– More particularly when one takes into consideration, the wages and conditions of workers inAustralia.
– As SenatorO’Flaherty has pointed out, the comparative Australian production costs are even more favorable when we recall” that our living and industrial standards are higher than those of any of the countries mentioned, including the United States of America.
The Leader of the Opposition again referred to what he termed “petty strikes”. I do not propose to discuss that matter again at any length, because it has been exhaustively discussed on numerous occasions. The honorable senator blames the Communists for all our industrial ills. However, in my opinion, the anti-Labour administrations of this country have been guilty of more sabotage, more fifth-column activity and more treachery to our national interests than has any Communist organization. My contention is supported by the record of the antiLabour parties when they were in office, and particularly by the complete sell-outs which they made on a number of occasions. In particular, 1 have mentioned the sacrifice of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. The disposal of that undertaking, like the sabotage of a number of other State enterprises, illustrates the depths to which the anti-Labour parties will sink when the interests of those whom they represent are threatened.
Australia is a vast country of approximately 3,000,000 square miles, with a population of only approximately 7,500,000. It is obvious, therefore, that Australia must be developed much more intensively than it has been to date. In order to promote and assist that development, the Government must supply the necessary services, because private enterprise will not expend money on any developmental projects unless it shows an assured return. Because of their nature, developmental works cannot be expected to 3how immediate financial returns. It is necessary, therefore, for the Government to intervene in order to promote development.
Perhaps the most effective answer to the Liberal party’s criticism of the Government is that that party has found it expedient to change its name so often. The frequency with which it has changed its label indicates its political impotence. Of course, it must be admitted that in changing its name so often it has succeeded in deceiving: some of the people. Undoubtedly, when it changed its name from “ United Australia party “ to “ Liberal “ it successfully misled <a number of people, and even in Victoria to-day it is seekingfurther to mislead the people with, another change of name. However,, on examination we find that irrespectiveof the label under which the party functions it represents the same interests,, which are certainly not identical with the best interests of the Australian people.
– It is time that they came into the open and called themselves- “ conservatives “.
– They are actually conservatives, -but they preferto masquerade under various political” pseudonyms. Nevertheless, the dictum that you cannot fool all the people all thetime still holds good.
A lot was said, earlier in the debateabout the sale of the former Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and theLeader of the Opposition repeated thealleged justification for the sale, which we have all heard so often. He said that a competent, impartial body was established to operate the line, but the members of that body found that they could not doso. However, that story would not deceiveany one. The appointment of that body was simply a political manoeuvre, made with the idea of obtaining some evidenceto justify the anti-Labour administration of that time in selling the line to privateshipping interests for the inadequate sum of less than £2,000,000. However, as a matter of history, the Commonwealth did not receive even> that amount. As I have said on a number of previous occasions, although we sold the line for a song, all we got was a part of the chorus. Of course, if the proposed shipping line is established, and the anti-Labour parties again attain office at some future time, they arequite capable of giving away that asset as they did the previous one.
In 1927, the Joint Committee on Public Accounts reported on the activities of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. It is important to remember that members of that committee were not unanimous in recommending that the line should be sold. Consideration of the benefits and disabilities of the Commonwealth line resulted in a division of the committee, a majority of the committee favouring the disposal of the line, while a minority favoured its ‘retention. However, the majority recommendations were tempered by a clear recognition of the benefits of the line. At pages 19-20 of the report it was recommended that a company should be formed, “ which might well be called a co-operative venture “, to take over the remaining Commonwealthowned ships. I repeat that the number of ships possessed by the line had dwindled from 54 to five. Throughout its report, the committee referred to the benefits conferred on Australia by the operation of the line, which was instituted during the war years and was qf considerable value in performing war-time shipping tasks. The establishment of the line brought into being an organization which facilitated the utilization of the output of Australian shipbuilding yards, an industrial venture which was vitally necessary in the interests of defence. In the years which immediately followed World War I., the line enabled Australian exporters to send goods to overseas markets at a time of severe shortage of shipping. When honorable senators realize what a great advantage the continued ownership of that line would have been to Australia during the recent war, they will understand what I meant when I referred to the sabotage of Australia’s interests by anti-Labour administrations, one of which was in such a hurry to dispose of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. To return to the report of the Joint Committee, I point out that the committee noted that the line preserved a high standard of efficiency in the handling of cargoes, and provided an efficient and popular service. Of course, one of the reasons which was supposed to have influenced the administration to dispose of that line was the adverse criticism of the line that appeared in the press. . The interests of the controllers of the press and of the controllers of shipping are interwoven, and that is why the press was so consistently hostile to the line. Any undertaking that is controlled by the Government causes the press, like the Leader of the Opposition, to begin worrying about “ nationaliza- tion “ and “ socialization of industry “. Because of the inept record of the antiLabour administrations I think that the sooner we can introduce “ nationalization “ and “ socialization of industry “ the better for Australia.
I turn now to the criticism of TransAustralia Airlines made by the Leader of the Opposition, who attempted to compare Trans-Australia Airlines with private airlines to its disadvantage. In my opinion his comparison was a dishonest one, and in making it he was actuated purely by political motives. The establishment of such a large organization as Trans-Australia Airlines obviously involves a large initial outlay of capital. If we are to compare the financial return from Trans-Australia Airlines with that of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, then we should take into account the airports, services and navigational facilities provided by the Government free of charge to private airlines. In addition, Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and other private airline companies for many years received substantial subsidies from the Government. I am told that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited at this moment owes the Commonwealth approximately £180,000.
– That includes only the amount owing since the charges were instituted.
– Yes. Prior to that, time all services were provided free. Of course, the contention that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited pioneered the aerial services of this country is’ simply rubbish because, as was pointed out earlier in this debate, the actual controllers of Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited are the Australian snipping companies. The pioneers of civil aviation in this country were Sir Ross Smith, Sir Keith Smith, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Miss Amy Johnson and other distinguished fliers. Those individuals had nothing whatever to do with Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited or even with its formation.
The Government is to be congratulated on the introduction of the bill, which is an indication of Labour’s determination, while it remains in office, to legislate in the interests of the people as a whole and to develop Australia along proper lines. We are determined that not only in connexion with the shipping line, but also concerning every other activity of this Government, of which we are proud to be supporters, we shall do our best to live up to our promises that the people of this country shall be made economically and socially secure, and to make absolutely certain that we do not experience another period such as the first two years of World War II. under anti-Labour governments. Even in 1942, when the Japanese were close to our shores, this country was ill-prepared to withstand invasion and to repel an enemy. The whole of the blame for that lies at the doors of antiLabour governments which had control of this country for so long. That cannot be denied. Every time that this country has faced a crisis there has devolved upon a Labour government the responsibility for rescuing it. We experienced that during World War I., during the depression years, and again in 1941, because the conservative parties in Australia are not capable of pulling this country through any national crisis. I suggest ‘that the present postwar period constitutes just as big a crisis, and is just as important as were the war years, because the strength of a country is undoubtedly reflected by the serength, happiness and security of its people. So long as the Labour Government is in control in Australia, this country will go forward to greater achievements in both the domestic and the national sphere. Under a Labour Government every person in the community will have a hope of economic and social security. We heard .a lot of platitudes and pious resolutions from the anti-Labour parties within these walls during the war. Whilst the heat was on, they promised a new order, and said, “ We will never get back to the old way of life”. Now, when the Government proposes to establish a national shipping line to make Australia partially secure from a shipping point of view which, having regard to our geographical position, is absolutely imperative, we meet with opposition from the conservative parties in this Parliament, and are told that it is another step towards nationalization. On the records of the various governments of this country, if we can reach nationalization of key industries under a Labour government, the people of this country will be much more secure than they would ever be under anti-Labour governments.
.- By introducing this bill the Government is carrying out the policy which all democratic countries are attempting to put into operation. The story of shipping is a long one. Prior to the first world war this Parliament dealt with the whole matter of shipping control throughout the world. Labour men at that time, and more especially the late Mr. Frank Anstey, traced all of the ramifications of the shipping combine* of the world, the growth of shipping from its very foundations in Europe and other parts of the northern hemisphere, and also the various shipping companies throughout Australia. They were all linked up with and part of what was known as the Lord Inchcape combine. Because of their ramifications the people of Australia had a very strong organization to combat. In searching the records we in Australia found that the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand Limited, the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company Limited, the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company Limited and the whole of the large shipping companies of Australia and the world were linked up with what was known as the Inchcape line. This Government, true to the principles of democracy, had to do something to protect all sections of the community. It must be very disheartening to the producers of Australia to find that to-day the Australian Country party is opposing this legislation which has been introduced by the Australian Labour party. It was well recognized at the time that the “Bay” steamers, far from incurring losses, saved the producers of Australia many millions of pounds. The lower freights charged by that line were responsible for a reduction of charges to the Australian primary producers because of its influence on freights that were being charged by all overseas lines. That was the reason why the “ Bay “ line of steamers was sacrificed. Eventually, those steamers were sold, but the purchase money was never paid to the government. In that connexion the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) as reported in Hansard, said -
The vessels were sold at an absurdly low figure to the White Star line,- and let me say here that the White Star line of steamers was really one of the Inchcape group- a unit of the British shipping combine. The full purchase price, low as it was, was not received by the Commonwealth and- the company subsequently went into liquidation still owing the Commonwealth over £400,000 in principal and interest . . .
The Australian Shipping Board and its predecessor, the Shipping Control Board, have during the war been responsible for the control of all Australian shipping and for the operation of the vessels owned and chartered by the Commonwealth.
That demonstrates that when the Commonwealth was threatened by outside forces only by the Government taking control of major industries could the economy of the country be saved.
I shall refer briefly to some of the work -that was carried out by the “ Bay “ liners. I have already pointed out how they safeguarded the interests of the primary producers. We must not lose sight of the fact that during World War II. the very liners that had been condemned by the opponents of Labour in this chamber were used for the conveyance of troops from British and Australian ports to the battle areas. They have been operating for about 30 years. Those steamers are now being used for the conveyance of immigrants to this country. I claim, therefore, that those steamers have performed wonderful service, notwithstanding that they were practically given away, and were condemned by representatives of those who are opposed to Labour in Australia.
This afternoon reference was made to a statement that had appeared in the press relative to the policy of the Australian Labour party. I remind honorable senators that throughout the last quarter of a century the press of this country has been consistent in its denunciation of the Government’s attempt to control the shipping of the Commonwealth. When one deals with the press and its publicity, I remind honorable senators that some time ago there was a by-election and that the Opposition in this chamber claimed that the result was a pointer to the result of the next general election, and proved that Labour was on the way out. During the recent election in Victoria the press in that State condemned the Australian Labour party and refused to give any real publicity to the Labour candidates in that State. So wrapped up in conservatism are the opponents of Labour that even here in the capital city of the Commonwealth a daily newspaper, the Canberra Times, is a standing disgrace not only to the capital city of the nation, but it would oe a disgrace to a backward country town. The following is an example of what has happened repeatedly. In this chamber there are three honorable senators sitting in opposition, and 33 on the government side of the chamber. At times a column and a half in the Canberra Times has been devoted to a report of speeches made by the honorable senators of the Opposition, whilst not an inch of space has been allocated for a report of the speeches of the whole of the representatives of Labour on the government side of the chamber.
– That paper is prejudiced.
– If I had anything to do with the allocation of newsprint, one of the first newspapers to which I would deny supplies would be the “ rag “ called the Canberra Times. Although the Parliament may sit day and night at Canberra that newspaper never prints one word from speeches of supporters of the Government, but simply gives . prominence to “ratbag” statements made in criticism of the Government.
– The Opposition parties are trying to win the Canberra seat in the next Parliament.
– I hope that the person who is elected to represent Canberra in the new Parliament will be anything but a mouthpiece for the Canberra Times. No thinking man or woman in Australia believes that there is the slightest possibility of a change of Government in this country for at least the next ten years. Nobody in the community gives the Opposition parties any chance of winning control of the treasury bench in the next Parliament. The Opposition parties themselves realize that fact, although they have had their emissaries overseas during the last twelve months where, it has been alleged, £1,000,000 has been placed at their disposal to help them to defeat this Labour Government. Recently at a by-election in Victoria the Labour party increased a majority of 91 votes to a majority in excess of 500 in favour of a new candidate. In that small electorate the Liberal party engaged 40 men at a daily wage of 35s. each to canvass every little home in search of postal votes at . that by-election. That party has money to burn. Indeed, it has so much money to-day that it is setting out to destroy the Australian Country party, of which the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber is a member. In Victoria, the Liberal party has said, “ The Country party as a party has to go”. The Liberal party intends to contest every country seat in Victoria. A few months ago there was some talk about a Liberal party-Country party Senate team, but to-day that is a thing of the past. The Liberal party has said to the Country party in that State, “ You are not going to sneak in on the backs of Liberals. We have the money and we shall control our own candidates. We shall contest every country seat in Victoria.” It is obvious that big business is preparing to make one last big desperate attempt to secure control of the treasury bench in this Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, (Mr. Menzies), has admitted that when he went overseas recently he took lessons on how to run a political campaign. He sat on the same platform with Governor Dewey, with the bands playing and all the “ hooey “ in the world going on. The right honorable gentleman thought that Governor Dewey was sure to be elected President of the United States of America and he made up his mind to introduce the same electioneering tactics into this country using, possibly, some of the money which the Liberal party’s emissaries were able to raise, in Great Britain. But Dewey was defeated ; and
I believe that the leader of the Liberal party in this Parliament will have as much chance of winning- the next general elections as Governor Dewey had of defeating Truman.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– The issue in this matter is related directly to the attempt being made by the Opposition parties to control the destiny of this Commonwealth. The Government is resolved to safeguard the interests of all sections of the community and to protect all sections from being exploited. It is resolved to safeguard the interests of the primary producers. When members of the Opposition criticize this proposal from the viewpoint of cost they lose sight of the fact that the primary producers of Australia in the sale of their produce on the British market enjoy an exchange advantage of 25 per cent. When they compare shipbuilding costs in this country with those in Great Britain they also fail to make allowances for that difference in the exchange rate in respect of sterling. Therefore, when one speaks about costs of shipbuilding in Australia compared with those ruling overseas we must not forget that we have that margin in our favour. To-day, over 5,000 men are employed in shipbuilding yards throughout the Commonwealth. Every one now realizes that one of the dangers which confronted Australia at the outbreak of the last world war was our lack of shipping. At Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, of which State the Leader of the Opposition is a representative in the Senate, there is one of the finest docks in Australia. The cost of constructing that dock was shared by the Australian Government. I have always noticed that members of the Opposition parties, when dealing with measures of this kind, never fail to talk about the slow turn-around of ships. Invariably, they criticize the waterside workers who, they say, will not work and are mainly responsible for the lag. The Melbourne Age reported that yesterday there were more vessels in the port of Melbourne than have ever previously been seen in that port at the one time, the total number being in excess of 50 ships. Of that number, five vessels could not obtain berths yesterday. The remainder were being loaded with commodities and articles produced by the farmers and workers of Australia. That production has been so magnificent that we cannot obtain sufficient vessels in any port in Australia to ship the cargoes available.
– Every vessel available is being loaded to capacity.
– Yes; and five of the vessels I have mentioned are waiting for berths. Members of the Opposition parties, when criticizing this proposal, also complained about the shortage of labour. In the port of Melbourne yesterday, 3,116 were at work, whilst another 1,496 men were required. We have been told that half of the trouble on the waterf l out is caused by the lack of labour, or, it is said, because the waterside workers will not work. I remind the members of the Opposition that the shipping companies of Australia will not allow more men to be registered for labour on the waterfront because they know that should a slump occur they would be obliged to pay all men registered waiting time at the rate of 12s. a day. However, Opposition members never say anything about that fact. Much the same thing is happening in New South Wales. When the Leader of the Opposition passed through Melbourne a few weeks ago, had he looked across from Spencer-street to Victoria Docks, he would have seen more overseas vessels at those docks than have ever been seen there previously in one group. That is the story behind the Government’s shipbuilding programme. This proposal is designed to safeguard the interests of the people as a whole. It is about time that something was done to protect the workers of this country from the insults hurled at them by the Opposition parties. The volume of our exports is sufficient evidence of the productive effort now being made by the primary producers and workers of this country. In this respect, I do not claim credit solely for the workers, but, definitely, as a whole, they are adding their quota to the production of foodstuffs which are now being shipped overseas in such large quantities. Not so long ago Melbourne was described as a 30-ship port. To-day, it is known as a 40-ship port. However, as I have said, nearly 60 vessels were in that port yesterday loading foodstuffs for overseas. The Government is resolved to safeguard the interests of primary producers because by doing so it will safeguard the interests of the Australian people as a whole. Everybody knows that when the last slump came, when wages were cut substantially the main reason for it was not that the workers could not, or would not, produce but, as Professor Copland then demonstrated, because the value of Australia’s primary products on the world’s markets had depreciated to such a degree as to cause the national income to decline substantially. The Government is attempting to protect the interests of the primary producers. For instance, it took a hand with respect to the price and transport of wheat overseas, and the farmers of Australia have endorsed its policy. The Government is applying a similar policy in respect of shipping and shipbuilding. Recently, when I visited the docks in Melbourne I was pleased to see Largs Bay, which was one of the vessels which were given away when an antiLabour government disposed of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, lt had just arrived in Melbourne with hundreds of migrants. The establishment of the proposed shipping line will be in the best interests of our people. Consequently, I am not surprised at the attacks through the press and over the air upon this proposal. By the implementation of measures of this kind the Government is building up the economy of the country. It is already building vessels and in the process personnel are being fully trained. Such, a proposal must add to the welfare and wealth of the Commonwealth.
– It is with great pleasure that I support the Government’s proposal to establish once again a Commonwealth shipping line. I was pleased when the “Bay” line of steamers was established and I know why that enterprise was not successful. As I listened to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) I began to wonder whether he learned anything during his recent trip abroad. His opinions are still just as conservative as they ever were. He seems still to be just as hide-bound as he ever was. He is still steeped in conservatism and speaks the most conservative twaddle that I have ever heard. He is a tory among tories. People may say, “ But he is such a fine fellow “. I am not concerned with what the honorable senator may be outside this chamber. If I am to be stabbed it does not matter a “ tinker’s cuss “ to me whether the stabbing is to be done by a nice fellow, or one who is not so nice. It will hurt just as much. That is my approach to this matter, and it is in that vein that I embark upon my criticism of the Leader of the Opposition. I am pleased to see the honorable senator back. However, I had hoped that upon his return lie would show a gleam of understanding which would indicate that he had benefited from his experiences overseas. I recall that when Labour held office in this Parliament with the support of two independents in the House of Representatives, and was in a minority of two in this chamber, and therefore was dependent upon the unswerving loyalty of Labour members, I heard some very interesting remarks made by a man who had just returned from a trip abroad. He said, “ I want to tell my friends this. I have come back with changed views as the result of my sojourn in Europe. I am much more democratic in thought than I was when I left these shores. I could not help appreciating the work that was being done by the downtrodden people of the Old Country”. Somebody said, “ That change may be reflected in your future political attitude “ and the traveller replied, “It most certainly will “. The man to whom I refer was the then honorable member for Henty in the House of Representatives, Mr. A. W. Coles, who, not long afterwards, on an historic occasion, crossed the floor of the chamber to support the Labour Government. He. had been convinced by his close association with events overseas that, he had been, in the vernacular, “ backing the wrong horse “. He realized that he had been a member of a party which had not been correctly representing the will of the majority of the people. I hoped that the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber would experience a similar change of outlook, as the result of his travels, but those hopes have faded. We have heard him raise that old bogy the Communist menace which, he alleges, the Government is doing nothing to combat. His utterances were typical of those that one hears so frequently from Opposition members in the House of Representatives. In fact communism seems to be the only stalking horse that they have left. The theme is threadbare. The honorable senator emphasized the influence of the “ comrades “ in this country. I call them “ comrades “ because they have brought into disrepute one of the most beautiful word3 in our language - “comrade”. I use the term derisively. I no longer employ it in its ordinary sense because to me it connotes a group of “ ratbags “ who are not even masters of their well-worn shibboleths.
When I hear members of this chamber dilating on the activities of the Communists, my mind goes back to the occasion when I charged the Leader of the Opposition with having been a member of a group of senators who did more to breed and foster communism than any other group of men have done in the history of this world. I refer to the rejection by the Senate of the Scullin Government’s proposal for a fiduciary issue of notes during the depression years. When I made this charge against the honorable senator, he replied that he was proud to have been a member of the party which took that action. The honorable senator is not a whit different to-day from what he was then. He is still the same dyedinthewool crusted old tory. I doubt if his knowledge of politics or economics is deep. He may know something about growing peanuts, producing sugar, or raising sheep, but I question his authority to speak about the economy of this country. To describe such talk as nauseating is to put it mildly. The honorable senator and his colleagues condemn what they term socialism. They claim that socialism is a part of the platform of the Australian Labour party. Of course it is. Therefore, why the surprise when we seek to put that platform into effect? Admittedly we are introducing by constitutional methods a form of socialism which, of course, means the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. If we do not do that, then, by all the laws of ‘logic, somebody .else ‘will introduce socialism in an unconstitutional way with such violence and force .that the .result will mean disaster for this and other countries. “For (twenty -years at least the Labour party has been a :buff er between the people ‘Of this country and red revolution, particularly during >the depression period which bred so .many :Ot the Communists about which honorable senators opposite squeal so loudly to-day. W/bat is wrong -.with -socialism - the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange’ During World War II. eminent authorities ranging from the Archbishop .of ‘Canterbury down to the Leader ;of the ‘Opposition in the House of Representative (Mr. Menzies) proclaimed that ‘the old order was finished, and that the profit motive -had gone .forever. .No longer would workers be .called upon to make huge profits for a few fortunate individuals. .But even while this new order was being promised, the Senator Coopers ,and their prototypes in other ,countries were winking at one another and saying, “ We shall see about that”.. Mr. Winston Chur.chill proclaimed that not while he -was Prime Minister would anybody institute ,any grea>t change in the form of the Govern- ment of India. Promises of a new order after World Waa- II. >were no more sincere than -were the promises made during World Waa- .1. that Australia would be made a land -fit for .heroes ‘to live in, and the world would be made .safe for democracy. Anti-Labour governments sat idly by while nested interests represented by Mr,. Montague Norman and :Sir Otto Niemeyer - be was a. nightmare to most of us - breathed pestilence -over this and other lands, and preached starvation to o.ur people. I .contend that the refusal of the ‘Senate to sanction the .Scullin .Government’s .fiduciary issue .w.as responsible for more malnutrition, broken health .and suicide than were the two World Wars put together. Honorable senators opposite talk about socialism. They do not know what they are talking about. I have said on previous occasions, “ God forgive them for they know not what’ they do “, but I am inclined to believe that they know very well what they are doing. During World War I. the Allies, ‘Great Britain, France and Italy, were without success until about <the middle of 1916. For two -years -they .’lost .every battle. Why? The reason is well .known, .-and I have often -wondered -why the Jesson /has -not been learned by the people. At .the outbreak of war in 1914, -private employersas :such ceased to exist in .Germany. It was not until 1916 when allied governments assumed control of essential industries .and -commodities that our troopsshowed any sign of breaking <down themorale and resistance of -.the enemy. There is the lesson. Private -enterprise was absolutely useless. It ‘has always been useless. When the test ‘has come ‘private enterprise ‘invariably has fallen down ‘On the job, and it has been necessary to run national undertakings in -the national interests. The Allied governments learned .a lesson from ‘the -first -war, .but they .conveniently left .the rank and file in. the -dark. They did not say, “ We lave discovered something good, and -we ‘shall’ explore its possibilities .and expand this system which enables -us to produce a l’OO per cent, war effort -when .other effortsfail “. But in World War II., the Government took charge of all essential services, and because .of that we were able to wage -a total war effort of which anybody could be proud. Why do these people never -wake up ? Why do they say, whenever any innovation is proposed in Australia, “Do not do .this. You are unpatriotic. You are not helping ‘.Great Britain.”, or something of that sort?1 They want >us to be ‘“wood and water joeys “ -all <out ‘lives. That desire guidestheir policies. They say that ‘we -must not build ships or arsenals, or ‘engage in activities that make for -the progress of the (country, but must continue to import our needs. They pursue that policy for the simple reason that certain vested interests mate .great profits from its implementation. I ‘have “not heard any mention during this debate of the fact that, two months after the “Bay”’ steamers bad been sold to the Inchcape Line, freight rates rose by 17s. a ton. Tothose who say that it cost Australia hundreds of thousands of pounds tooperate those ships, I .say that the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was instrumental in keeping freight ratesdown to a level which benefited Australia, to the amount >of millions of pounds.
Why do honorable senators opposite and their supporters hold up their hands in pious horror at the word “ socialism “ ? What is wrong with it? No member of the Opposition has ever told us what is basically wrong with socialism. I am a convinced socialist. I believe in the socialistic ideal of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. I believe in introducing it along constitutional lines in such a way that the people will like it and refuse ever to forego it. In that process, of course, many tall poppies will have to fall. Many people will not be able to continue making the profits to which they are accustomed. Is it surprising that the Leader of the Opposition is able to 9ay, “ Money was lost here, money was lost there; this private enterprise failed because it lost money, and so did that and the other “ ? I propose to recount for the honorable gentleman an experience that will be ari eye-opener to him. It will explain to him why the profits of various enterprises cease. For many years I was a member of the executive committee of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. In 1911 that organization was anxious to expand. We secured the job of installing engines and boilers in one or two ferries, and we essayed also to do work for the Royal Australian Navy. I recall that we were anxious to obtain a contract for the installation of gun emplacements on naval vessels that were being built in Australia. H.M.A.S. Brisbane, I think, was one of those ships. Naturally, we had our espionage officers in the ranks of the enemy, as they had in our ranks. Amongst our agents was an expert tradesman, who was in an office position. He was accustomed to visit us periodically to inform us of the results of certain tests that were being made. He would tell us that therehad been a “ blow “ on a certain date, and that the installation under test had withstood a tensile strain of, say, 28 tons or 29 tons to the square inch. The results of successive tests showed improvement. The object was to reach a minimum tensile strength of 31 tons to the square inch. The experiments continued from January to May, and in May one “ blow “ registered 31.4 tons to the square inch, and another one registered more than 32 tone. Now I come to the heartbreaking point of my story.
The union executive of which I was a member instructed its secretary to write to the authorities and ask for the results of the April and May tests. They informed us that they had become tired of supplying the particulars to us, and we were unable to obtain any further information from that date, although we knew that our “ blows “ had passed the required standard. That situation ‘.xi itself was tragic. But now I come to the sequel. I was working in a government railways service at the time, and one day a man came to speak to me about a job. He noticed that I was looking intently at two men, one of whom was the works manager, named Warren. The man asked me if I knew the man with Warren. I replied that I did, and that his name was Charles Salmon. My companion told me that Salmon was the gun expert for the Commonwealth Government. I was amazed. Like many other English gentlemen, Salmon had been entered for the army. He had failed. Then he had been entered for the navy. He had failed again. In such circumstances, the usual thing then was for a man to be trained to wear his collar back to front. Salmon’s gorge would not allow him to undertake a clerical career, and he refused to follow that course. His father was the manager of Vickers, Sons, and Maxim, at whose establishment I then worked. In order to get his son a job, he established the first ambulance room ever installed in any British workshop.
When I engage in retrospect and realize that I saw the first ambulance room installed in any industrial factory, and that to-day every little factory has its own ambulance and nursing staff, as well as other conveniences, I realize that we have progressed greatly in my lifetime, in spite of the “diehards”, the people who try to stem torrents with straws. Young Salmon did not make a success of his job in the ambulance room. I cannot repeat in reputable company what he said to me one day when I hurt my hand and went to the ambulance room. He and two or three other choice spirits were playing an enterprising game called “ shove halfpenny “ when I presented myself for treatment. The Leader of the Opposition, having been in England and Scotland recently, may have seen it being played. It is as good as “ two up “. When I arrived, he interrupted his game to tell one of his companions, “ See what that so-and-so ‘ wants “. I explained to the man that I had burt my hand. Charlie Salmon then came to me and asked me what I wanted. There had been an epidemic at the time, and he asked whether I had diarrhoea, but he did not use the polite term. When he found that I had hurt my hand, he called an assistant and I bandaged the wound. I mention that as a side issue in order to indicate what sort of man was able to come to Australia four years later as a gun expert. After .Salmon had failed in the job of supervising the ambulance room at the factory, he was appointed as one of four supervising foremen in charge of the 6,000 men employed at the works. Everybody there regarded the appointment as a joke. Nobody treated the man seriously. About that time, I left and came to Australia. After six months in the bush I found myself working in the government railways service. It was in that job that I again encountered Salmon, less than four years after first meeting with him. He was then a Commonwealth gun expert. When I saw him in’ Australia I asked my companion, Charlie Mason, what salary would be paid to Salmon in his job as a gun expert. I was told that he received £1,200 a year. I replied that I was willing to bet that he also received £2,500 a year from the armaments ring in order to prevent us from doing anything useful in their line of business, and condemning all our work. That story may be of interest to the Leader of the Opposition, because it shows that vested interests are prepared to use “stool pigeons”. With their filthy money they buy the services of agents who are willing to destroy an enterprise.
We had in New South Wales a State brick works, but when an anti-Labour government came into office that establishment was sold to private enterprise.
– It had been operating profitably, too!
– Yes, but within a month of its sale the price of bricks throughout the State was increased by £2 a thousand. Honorable senators opposite say that government-owned enterprises lose money and should be sold because they are not successful. The fact is that it is profitable to vested interests to spend millions of pounds to prevent such enterprises from becoming successful. That ia why they are engaged in the fight. They do not want socialism. But I want socialism. I have always believed that constant dripping wears away a stone, hut I have never been able to learn what effect it has on diamonds. I have come to the conclusion that the Leader of the Opposition must be a diamond. He does not seem to have been affected by any of the things that he has seen or heard. He still raises the same old shibboleths. I am sorry about that because I know that, like other people, he can be a good and fine fellow. However, I do not lose sight, of the fact that if he stabs me he hurts me. I contend that anybody who opposes the idealistic movement of socialism stabs me and hurts me. Therefore, I have to regard him basically as an enemy, even if superficially I have to practise hypocrisy and say, “ How do you do; you are nice “, and pay silly compliments. Because I am an idealist I have joined the movement to which I belong I am prepared to give my life for it. I want this world to be a brighter and a better place, and I know that such an end can be achieved only if we have a government such as is now in power. I know that the tools of vested interests will fight the harder as our progress becomes more apparent, and I am sorry that I must regard them as basic enemies of all that I hold dear in life. I am pleased that the Commonwealth is going to establish its own line of steamers, and I hope that the line will be bigger, better and more extensive than any previous inroad which Labour has made into the domain of private enterprise. I hope that the Government will make a good joh of it; indeed, I am sure that it will, because I believe that the Australian Labour party will hold the reins of office for a long time to come. I say that objectively, because I do not know, or care, whether I shall be here in three years’ time. However, I firmly believe that within that time Labour will have implemented almost completely its legislative plan and will have gone a long way towards introducing the socialistic ideal into our economy. Only by the implementation of that socialist ideal can we save the people from the evils, the oppressions and the appalling catastrophe which will befall them if we fall under the dominance of the so-called revolutionaries, the Communists. I am nauseated when I hear the Leader of the Opposition complain that the present Government is doing nothing to keep the Communists in check and that the Communists are doing what they like because the Government has fallen down on its job. I am nauseated by such statements because I realize that the maker of them has done more than all the rest of the members of the .Senate together to prepare the ground for the sowers of the seed of communism. 1 give the bill my blessing, and I trust that I shall live to witness the establishment of a government line of steamers that will be the envy of the world. I ask honorable senators to disregard the twitterings of the little minds who say, “ This proposal is no good ; you cannot make any money out of it because all government enterprises lose money”. I commend the bill.
Senator RANKIN (Queensland) “9.33]. - I rise to speak to the Shipping Bill, and I must say that like many other Australians, I am concerned at the serious implications of the measure. It would appear that we are to have yet another Government trading enterprise, this time a shipping line. Apparently it does not matter whether or not its establishment is necessary, whether or not we can afford it, whether or not it is timely, or whether it has been fairly presented to the people. The Government has issued a dictum that we are to have a Commonwealth line of steamers, and apparently that is all there is to it! It does not seem to matter whether or not Trans-Australia Airlines has been a success, whether the Commonwealth Railways are efficient or successful in operation, or whether any of the other governmental enterprises are successful. Irrespective of those considerations or of any of them, we are to have foisted upon us a government shipping line.
I propose to deal with some of the details of the proposal. First of all I ask is the proposal necessary? Is there any real necessity, apart from the Government’s urge to nationalize everything and to regiment everybody, for it to enter the shipping business? I say that there is not; that the shipping industry in Australia has served us well. In fact, the Australian shipping industry is probably prepared in the future to continue to serve Australia just as well, or better, than it has done in the past. The Australian shipping industry has supplied an efficient service, and it has developed and expanded that service. It has grown throughout the Commonwealth. It has rendered to the community a friendly service, and in two world wars it has demonstrated its willingness to co-operate with the Government in any emergency. The Australian shipping companies have expanded their services far beyond our coast and are already serving eastern ports. Prior to World War II. Australian companies were expanding and developing their Pacific services extensively. If the Government is not satisfied with the pace of development but wishes to quicken the expansion of our shipping industry, why does it not offer encouragement and help to the present companies? Of course, such a suggestion is entirely unacceptable to this socialist Government. Apparently, the idea is that every expansion of industry and every development of Australia is to provide another opportunity for infiltration by government enterprise. Let us think for a moment. The present shipping proposal follows very closely the pattern of Trans-Australia Airlines, Qantas Empire Airways and BritishCommonwealth Pacific Airways Limited. First of all, there was penetration by government instrumentalities ; later there was forced patronage by government business, then expansion until private operators were hemmed in, and finally the emergence of a government monopoly. I should like honorable senators to ask themselves whether the proposed national shipping line is necessary. Is there any necessity for the Government to establish a Commonwealth line of steamers? If the Government believes that it is necessary, why has it not given us statistics to justify its proposal? Why has it not made available to us, for instance, the tonnage carried on interstate ships, the tonnage carried in and out of the ports of Australia, and the total tonnage estimated to be required for the speedy and efficient transportation of freight and passengers? Why has not the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) given us details of the additional tonnage that the Government proposes to make available? The Minister has not submitted any such statistics. He has not given us any detail, either of the present or of the proposed tonnage of cargo or number of passengers to be carried.
– Will the honorable senator indicate exactly what statistics she requires ?
– I suggested that the Senate might be furnished with statistics of interstate shipping tonnage, of the tonnage of cargo carried in and out of ports and the number of passengers carried interstate and so on.
– It would be difficult to get that information from the shipping companies.
– But the Minister has not even attempted to furnish an estimate of cargo or passenger-carrying needs. Of course, the reason why he has not done so is that the exposure of details would demonstrate that the creation of a Government line would not necessarily put one more ship on the coast or shift one additional ton of cargo. Passage of the Government’s legislation will not alleviate the present position at all. It will simply increase the danger of further industrial disturbances ; it will slow down still further the turn-around of ships and render the cost of shipping operations even higher because the Government will put itself in a vulnerable position with the militant trade unionists. Indeed, by any standard it is evident that the establishment of the proposed line is unnecessary and undesirable.
I propose to ask some further questions. Will the ships that are to be engaged in the line be oil-burning vessels ? Is the Government prepared to take a stand in that connexion? If they are not to be oil-burning vessels, are they to be powered by coal? Does the Government believe that it will have any more success than the shipping companies in dealing with the militant group of unions that is headed by the Seamen’s Union and the wharf labourers’ federation. As a woman who represents the woman’s point of view I say unhesitatingly that the need for improving the transport facilities throughout the Commonwealth is most urgent. But does the creation of a government line of steamers promise an expansion of transport facilities? Will it give us more ships? Will it give us quicker journeys and faster turn-arounds, and so release more goods for distribution by making more raw material available? Will it speed up distribution? Those are the questions that we must ask ourselves. I notice that so far the Minister has carefully avoided saying anything concerning those matters. He has not promised one more ship, one faster journey, any quicker handling; he has not made even the slightest reference to the coal problem; all he has done is to confront us with the bald announcement that a new Commonwealth line of steamers is to be created so that more people can be placed in government jobs. I say that the proposed new line is unnecessary.
Let us apply another test to this legislative proposal. Who will benefit by its passage? I want to make it quite clear now that I am referring to the proposed Commonwealth line of steamers, and not to the shipbuilding proposals that the Government has outlined. As I have said, we must ask ourselves who will benefit by the passage of this measure? Will it be the manufacturer, who is hampered by slow deliveries of raw materials ? Will it be the merchant, who is so frequently held up by non-delivery of supplies? Will it be the housewife, who is always struggling with the ever-increasing cost of living? The housewife, of course, suffers most because she is so frequently compelled to do without supplies of the most necessary commodities. I ask one more question. Is the primary producer, who is hampered by the non-availability of barbed wire and other essential supplies, to receive any benefit from the establishment of the proposed line; or will the only people to benefit be those who will obtain jobs at the expense of the Australian taxpayers ?
Not the slightest mention has been made by the Minister of his plans for the operation of the proposed line, and I should like some further information on that aspect of the matter. I inferred from the Minister’s speech that the Government at present owns certain vessels employed in the coastal trade, and has under charter certain additional vessels that are engaged in that trade. Those vessels are at present operated by the shipping companies. Are the vessels to be taken from them and operated by the proposed board? If so, we shall have a repetition of the old story that yet one more governmental organization must be established and another huge overhead created, this time to handle the same ships with increased costs instead of more efficiency. What benefit will the people of Australia, the patient taxpayers, derive from the creation of yet another government department? The present proposal follows the same old pattern of more power to the Minister, more people in government employment, more people rushing around at the public expense managing things. It is significant that the Minister’s speech and the Government’s announcements do not contain any reference to additional or more speedy transport, and apparently all that is to happen is that another group of jobs is to be created.
This legislation must fail when tested and measured by the simple question: Is it good for the whole of the people? Then there is another question: Is the bill timely? Is the present the right time to implement such a proposal as this? Recently the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) made a plea to the people of this country for more saving and less expenditure. Surely the Government itself should respect the Prime Minister’s plea. Can Australia afford a new shipping line presumably to operate the same ships, when the nation is being called upon to spend less? The Prime Minister earlier made a plea for increased production. What has happened ? I invite honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber to take advantage of the opportunity that this bill affords them to debate in particular one of the points that the Minister for Shipping and Fuel did not develop, namely, that we need increased transport because of increased production. I do not believe that one honorable senator could present a factual picture of increased production. Why create another department when man-power is so urgently needed throughout the length and breadth of this country for production ? One great need in Australia to-day is industrial- peace. That is needed urgently on the waterfront^ and the determination of the unions touse direct action instead of arbitrationis causing us all very grave concern. Arenot’ these problems more urgent than the establishment of yet another government employment enterprise? Why must the Government force through legislation that is designed to create socialistic enterprises, when there are so many urgent problems requiring attention? Again I ask, are there more ships available than the industry can use? If industry is using all of the available ships, is it timely to start an enterprise such as this? If industry is not using all available ships, is the reason man-power shortage, fuel shortage, or some other reason, and will not those reasons apply equally to the new enterprise? Is it timely, with these facts in our minds to present such a proposal when there are so many urgent problems which require immediate attention? Has this proposal been fairly presented to the people ?
In his second-reading speech the Minister declared that the bill had three objectives. The first was the maintenance of the Australian mercantile marine. I noted carefully that there was no mention of the expansion of our shipping industry. The second was the maintenance of the shipbuilding industry, and the third referred to the Commonwealth Line of Steamers. The preamble to the bill states “ To establish the shipping industry and the shipbuilding industry … on an adequate scale and to maintain these industries in continuous operation”. From that point the bill merely provides for the creation of the Australian Shipping Board and the licensing of new ships for 24 years only. I ask the Minister to inform the Senate further on the shipbuilding proposal.
Two of the objectives that the Minister mentioned are very dear to the hearts of all Australians, and despite the fact that we cannot altogether see eye to eye or agree as to the method of implementing the ideas, and despite the use of the word “ maintenance “ which I take it does not mean maintenance in the sense of repairs, hut should be interpreted as meaning expansion, I feel that it is very desirable for the good of all Australians, that the Australian shipbuilding industry should serve not only the Australian coast and territories, hut also all of the ports of the world from which we import and to which we export. Further, these ships should be manned by Australians who have received their training in Australian ships under Australian officers. But why these references to maintenance and a lengthy reference to certain shipbuilding proposals? I cannot but believe that the presentation of the bill was arranged so that the voting public would get the idea that the expansion of our shipbuilding industry was the main business of the bill, and the proposal to establish the Commonwealth line of steamers was only incidental to that proposal.
It is true that there are clauses relating to the licensing of ships and the withdrawal from service of ships 24 years old, and so on, but where are the shipbuilding proposals developed? It would seem mainly in the Minister’s speech. Why is that so carefully avoided in this measure ? The proposal was most capably outlined by the Minister, and falls within four classifications: (1) ‘Only Australianbuilt ships shall operate on the Australian coast; (2) Shipping companies to order from the Government; (3) The Government to order from shipbuilders, and (4) The Government to sell to the shipping company at the equivalent of English prices, if these are cheaper than Australian, provided that the concession is not more than 25 per cent.
What is the position of the shipping companies ? The Minister also stated that at some future date all vessels in the interstate and intra-state trade will be Australian-built. I should like to know how the Minister hopes to achieve this. The situation is that the shipbuilding industry proposal is scarcely dealt with in this bill, and so far as the Minister’s statement is concerned, it is at the most only an outline of the Government’s intentions, and may be modified.
In presenting this bill to the Senate the Minister so linked the shipbuilding proposal to the Government shipping line project that I feel sure that most of the electors are of the opinion that the two proposals are linked one with the other in this bill whereas there is practically no reference to shipbuilding in the bill.
I again ask the Minister to support the case for the bill by presenting a statisticil summary of the shipping facilities of Australia, and the extent to which these are being used efficiently. Why not present some statistics of the total tonnage available, the average number of days at sea, the average number of days occupied in port loading and unloading, and the average number of industrial stoppages involving shipping on. the Australian coast? I am convinced that this bill is part of a pattern for government control of transport. This Government has gone far towards a monopoly for overseas air traffic. It has created Trans-Australia Airlines to stifle private enterprise, and now proposes to infiltrate, the shipping business. It only needs now to enter into the road transport business to enable it to dominate transportation throughout Australia, and as all distribution of goods is dependent on transportation, I can see that this Government, if it pursues its present course unchecked, will undoubtedly dominate distribution throughout the length and breadth of the country. The Government has not been slow to learn from the militant unions that certain operations are key operations, and wield a great deal of power. The Government only needs to dominate transport in order to have effective control of industrial distribution. This is just one more step towards that end. While this goes on, I have nothing but pity for the housewife of Australia. While the Government develops grandiose plans for unnecessary new enterprises, such as this line of steamers, all, I remind honorable senators to be paid for by the taxes extracted from the pay envelope of her husband, the housewife is continually struggling against rising prices and lack of goods.
– The honorable senator really has no sympathy for the housewife.
– Whilst the housewife is being importuned by the Prime Minister to save, she has to face shortages of goods and high prices-
– The honorable senator’s party never helped the housewife.
– I urge the Government, instead of considering an unnecessary venture such as this, to face the facts, and give its full attention to the more urgent problems which confront the people of Australia to-day, the problems of the workers’ daily lives, rising prices and lowered standards of living.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lamp) adjourned.
Tobacco - Senate Lighting. Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to associate myself with a question asked by Senator Murray this afternoon regarding the desirability of the Government taking action to curb the activities of the great tobacco combine in Australia. On several occasions I have asked the Government to take this matter up with the State governments because of the necessity for doing something to obtain a fair distribution of tobacco throughout the Commonwealth. We have the spectacle of returned soldiers who went away and fought for democracy coming back and opening up businesses in competition with other people, but being denied tobacco supplies by the tobacco combine. These men fought so that such organizations as the tobacco combine could continue to exist, and therefore they have the right to share in the products of the country. Those who control the distribution of tobacco tell returned soldiers who start businesses that if they were not in receipt of a tobacco quota before the war they cannot obtain a quota now. When a man opens up a business, or takes over an old business, to build, it up, there is no use his continuing unless he can receive a regular supply of tobacco for sale. It boils down to the simple fact that the tobacco combine acts as if it were the Government of the country, making the law and saying whether a man shall continue in business or not. It is the duty of the Government to take a firm stand and to see that returned soldiers who have justly earned the right to go into competitive business, get a fair deal. I am pleading now not for ordinary business men, but for returned soldiers.
– When the Government controlled tobacco it saw that returned soldiers received a fair quota.
– I asked the Government some time ago to take up this question with the States. I believe that that was done, and that some action can be taken to curb the combine. The Government will be justified if it tells the combine that it will withdraw dollar permits unless they give returned soldiers a fairer deal, and I urge the Government to take some action.
. -In the Senate to-day I asked a question ^regarding the lighting of the chamber and I desire to address some further remarks
On that matter to you, Mr. President. We, in this National Parliament, should set an example to Australia, whether we be Labour, Liberal or any other political denomination. I have previously raised the question of the effect of the inferior lighting upon honorable senators. I am also concerned with its effect on members pf the staff who work in and about the precincts of this chamber. I ask you now, Mr. President, to take your mind back and consider how many honorable senators have had to wear glasses within two or three years of becoming senators. I ask you to check over the staff to ascertain how many of them have had to wear glasses before they came anywhere near to middle age. I am quite positive that in the State of Tasmania, which is a small State, there is no industrial inspector who would pass the lighting facilities of this chamber in any factory. Tasmanian factories have better lighting facilities than has this Senate because employers are forced to provide such facilities as not affect workers’ eyes. During the d ay one earn walk into this chamber from the glorious daylight outside and find oneself in a half black-out. There are twelve beautiful windows above us, draped as if there were a black-out in force, while the light outside, provided by nature, is kept outside. If one tried to admit light by pulling the cords, I doubt whether the curtains would come apart. I emphasize that I am not speaking for myself only nor am I raising this matter facetiously. I admit that the lighting -facilities have been slightly improved -since I previously spoke about them. When I came into the chamber to-day I could read anything on my desk, but suddenly the main light went out. The excuse given for the turning out of that light was that it heated the chamber too much, If that is so, why cannot our technicians find some system to combat the heat from the light without turning it off:? Could we not have a fan below it ? Something of that nature could be done. This Parliament should set an example instead of lagging behind the rest of the country in the provision of proper facilities. I ask any honorable senator to go into any modern factory and study the lighting system in use either in the day time or at night and compare it with the lighting system in this chamber, and if he can tell me that this chamber compares favorably with modern factory lighting systems lie should go and have a second look, and also look at himself in the mirror. I have no objection to wearing glasses, but I am not concerned with my eyes alone, but with those of other people which are being affected through the lack of lighting facilities. I raise this matter in all sincerity for the protection of honorable senators both present and future, and of the staff who work in the precincts of the chamber.
. - in reply - I have brought the matter raised by Senator Lamp to the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice) who will make inquiries and give the information desired.
I do not know whether you, Mr. President intend to say anything with respect to Senator Aylett’s complaint regarding the lighting of this chamber. Possibly, that matter has been brought to the attention of the Joint House Committee. However, I am not aware that any other honorable senator has made a similar complaint. Personally, I have none to make on that score.
– I should like to say a few words with respect to the lighting of the Senate chamber. I am convinced that the existing lighting could be improved; it has certainly affected my sight. Possibly, the colour scheme of the chamber has contributed to that result. God’s daylight would be far preferable to electric lighting, hut I do not know whether it is possible to light the chamber naturally during daylight. However, complaints about the lighting of the chamber have so far been very few. Indeed Senator Aylett is the only honorable senator who has actually made such a complaint. I do not imply that he should remain silent on the subject merely because of that fact. It is only right that any honorable senator who has a grievance should bring it to the notice of the Senate ; there is always room for improvement.
With respect to the heating of the Senate chamber, we have been doing our best for a long time to forward the development of air-conditioning, and engineers are still engaged on that work which has been proceeding for the last twelve months. I was informed to-day that, probably, it would not be finished for at least another six months. The heat from the central group of lights in the chamber may be offset when the chamber is fully air-conditioned. I suggest that Senator Aylett should bring his complaint to the notice of the Joint House Committee which I have no doubt will thoroughly consider the matter “and not only obtain the views of its members but also ascertain whether the existing lighting adversely affects the sight of other honorable senators and whether they desire any change to be made. In some parts of the building fluorescent lighting has been installed and I understand that it has proved successful. Possibly, fluorescent lighting may thee solution of the problem as a whole. It may enable us to dispense with the existing, lighting and provide” a means of illumination which will not adversely affect our sight. I repeat- that even should only one honorable senator have cause to complain about the effect of the existing lighting upon his sight, his> complaint should receive the fullest consideration and those responsible’ should do their best to rectify the difficulty. Whilst Senator Aylett nas no complaint with respect; to the central group of lights in this- chamber, several honorable senators have- complained when those lights- have- been, turned on. However, this matter can best be considered by the Joint House- Committee. I shall certainly support any effort (0 improve the existing lighting.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented :- »
Air Force Ac* - Regulations - ‘Statutory
Rules 1949, No; 2. Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1948 - No. 92 - Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association /Australia) and others.
No. 93 - Australian Broadcasting Commission Staff Association. No. 94 - Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.
No. 96 - Commonwealth Public Service
No. 96- Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia and Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia. Australian Broadcasting Act - Sixteenth Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for year 1947-48. Australian Broadcasting Commission - Report Of Committee appointed by Government on certain aspects of Administration. Banking Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1448, Nos, 154, 166. Commonwealth Bank Act - Appointment- B. Major.
Classification of positions with names and salaries of officers in the Service of the Bank as at 38th June, 1948.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments- ^Department -
Attorney-General - G. H. J. Phil-rips. Civil Aviation- O. D. Damson, W. G.
Commerrce and1 Agriculture - Si S.
Hoffman, 1. Meteor .
Defence. - E- M. Anderson, R, D.
Botterill, A. O. Eastway, C. D. Inglis,
Payne, K. W. Stevenson, Ji. W.
Warmington,, M.. A.. Williams. Health - R. A. Bimington Interior-R. C. MoBride..
Labour- and. National. Service - £. E. A. 6. Black, E.. X.. Deaner,
Post-war Reconstruction - ET.. Coppock Prime Minister - H. Iff. Smith. Repatriation - D. J”. Rae,. ST. S. Rogers,
Supply and Development - J. W.
Beagley, R. G. Curedale, H..A. Doyle,
Newman, W. ff. Oldham, G. F.
Schaeffer, R. D. Walker. Treasury - W. R. C. Jay.
Works and Housing- G, W. Allen, J.
Goldsmith, L. M. Kaberry, B, A. Keal,
Regulations - Statutory Rules - 1948- Nos. 1«7, 158. I94B- No. 1.
Customs Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules - 1948- No. 156. 1949- No. 3.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descrip- tions) Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948, Nos. 166. Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Properly) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (17). National Security (Liquid Fuel) Regula- tions - Orders - 1948, Nos. 3, 4. National Security (Prices) Regulations -
Orders- Nos. 3417-3419. National Security (Tea Control) Regulations^ - Orders - Nos. 9 (Substitute copy), 10.
Order - Revocation of Orders under the National Security (Food Control) Regulations.
Regulations - Statutory Rules - 1948 - Nos. 160, 163. Education Act - Regulations - Statutory
Rules 194.8, No. IBO. Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations -
Statutory Rules, 1948, No. 162. Judiciary Act- Rule of Court, dated 28th
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Banking purposes - Melbourne, Victoria. Defence purposes -
Glenunga, South Australia.
Karrakatta, Western Australia.
Parkes, New South Wales,
South Fremantle, Western Australia.
Department oi Civil Aviation purposes - Geraldton, Western Australia.
Department of Commerce and Agriculture purposes - Albany, Western Australia.
Postal purposes -
Bankstown, New South Wales.
Deepwater, New South Wales.
Laverton, Victoria. Murrurundi, New South Wales.
Palm Beach, New South Wales.
Penrose, New South Wales.
Perth, Western Australia.
Saddleworth, South Australia.
Scone, New South Wales.
South Brisbane, Queensland.
Wetherill Park, New South Wales.
Winton, Queensland. Seat of Government purposes - Oaks
Estate, Australian Capital Territory, Telephonic purposes - Canning Bridge,
Nationality and Citizenship Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1949, No. 4.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Regulations- 1948- No. 6 (Plant Diseases Ordinance).
Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administration Act - Ordinances - 1948- s No. 12 - Barristers and Solicitors
Admission. No. 13 - Appropriation 1948-49. 1949-
No. I - Lands’ Acquisition (Town Planning) .
Pharmaceutical Benefits Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1948, No. 155.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) ActOrdinances - 1948 -
No. 6- Liquor (No. 3) No. 1 - Liquor (No. 4). No. 8 - Hawkers.
Social Services Contribution Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1948. No. 164.
Stevedoring Industry Act - -Orders - 1948, Nos. 32, 38, 40-43, 45, 48.
Senate adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 February 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1949/19490209_senate_18_201/>.