10 February 1949

18th Parliament · 2nd Session

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

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Senator MURRAY:

– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether, in view of the decision by the Federal Cabinet to develop the whaling industry in Australia as a Commonwealth Government enterprise, the Government will give consideration to establishing a unit of this industry in Tasmanian waters. Can the Government give effect to the proposals made by a previous Minister for Repatriation in connexion, with this matter? Has the Government explored the possibility of obtaining suitable chaser vessels and equipment as reparations from Japan ?

SenatorCOURTICE.- I undertake to bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, and to provide an answer as early as possible.

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– I preface a question to the Leader of the Senate by referring to the spontaneous expressions of horror and disgust that have come from every quarter of the civilized world at the mock trial of, and the savage sentences inflicted upon, the Cardinal Primate of Hungary and six others. I refer also to the reported protests by the British Foreign Secretary that British observers were not allowed to attend the trial. If the action which I shall suggest has not yet been taken, will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs urge the Government to lodge a formal protest with the Hungarian Government against the refusal to afford the Australian Ambassador in Paris, Colonel Hodgson, an opportunity to attend the trial, and demand that all further proceedings be stayed until independent observers have had an opportunity to conduct a full and unfettered inquiry into the whole circumstances of the matter ?

Senator McKENNA:
Minister for Health · TASMANIA · ALP

– The Australian Government is, and has been for some time, most concerned at developments in Hungary, relating not only to the trial of Cardinal Mindszenty and his associates, but also to proceedings that have been taken against the leaders of other churches, including the Calvinist Church and the Lutheran Church. Those matters all seem to be related. Before there was any public protest in this country at all, the Commonwealth Government had been in very close touch with the Australian High Commissioner in London and the Australian Ambassador in Paris. Efforts were made to determine the facts so that the Australian Government might shape its course. The various protests made in Australia, including one by a State government, were sent to the Australian Ambassador at Paris for presentation to the Hungarian Government. Later, full Cabinet recorded a very strong protest through the Australian Ambassador in

Paris against what was apparently a breach of the treaty entered into about the middle of last year, under which both Australia and Hungary guaranteed the nationals of each country freedom of religious worship, freedom of speech, and certain other fundamental human rights. The developments in Hungary appeared to the Australian Government to be in breach of Hungary’s obligations under the treaty. Colonel Hodgson, the Australian Ambassador in Paris, was instructed to seek admission to Budapest to observe proceedings and to have communication with the counsel and advisers to those who were under trial. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) announced in the House of Representatives yesterday that, although six separate promises had been made that avisé would be issued to enable Colonel Hodgson to visit Budapest, the visé had not been forthcoming. The Australian Government is very concerned about that and about the fact that the proposals of the United Kingdom Government that it might have an observer on the spot also were not met. The refusal to meet countries like Australia and the United Kingdom by allowing them to . have observers at the trial certainly constitutes, as the Minister said yesterday, a prima facie case, if not a stronger position than that, for investigation of the whole of the proceedings in this trial and in earlier trials. The Minister for External Affairs said yesterday that he had been informed that the whole of the recent proceedings were to be referred to the United Nations at its meetings two months hence. I agree with the general comments of Senator O’Sullivan. Many people have been shocked by the apparent disregard of fundamental human rights in this matter. Honorable senators may be assured that the Government is fully conscious of the implications, realizing that any injustice, if there be injustice in this case, should be exposed. It is very fortunate that there exists in the world to-day a forum such as that constituted by the United Nations, where a matter of this nature may be fully investigated and commented upon.


– If the Cardinal is still alive.

Senator McKENNA:

– I still believe that, with the United Nations organization in existence, the perpetrators of injustice anywhere in the world will not be able to escape the bar of public opinion. I assure Senator O’Sullivan that the Government is very gravely concerned and will take all possible action to ensure that the status quo shall not be disturbed, a possibility which the honorable senator suggested by interjection a moment ago.

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SenatorCRITCHLEY.- Owing to the coal shortage in South Australia, thousands of workers in industry have been locked out or put out of employment, and the Chamber of Manufactures in Adelaide has made a request to the Government for the release of additional supplies of liquid fuel for use in auxiliary power plants so that men may be kept at work. The request has been refused. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether that refusal was intended to cover firms which have reserve stocks of liquid fuel on hand and which, by using those supplies, would not impose an additional drain upon the nation’s pool of fuel. TheChamber of Manufactures in Adelaide has announced that, according to the Government’s instruction, firms which have reserve stocks are not allowed to use them. That statement is reported in South Australian newspapers to-day. I ask the Minister whether it was the Government’s intention that such reserve stocks should not be used.

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

– The circumstances surrounding this matter are as follows : The Premier of South Australia applied for substitute fuel in order to enable essential services to be continued and auxiliary plants to be operated. I decided on ‘behalf of the Government, that essentia] services such as electricity, gas and railways had to be maintained, and that substitute fuel would be provided for that purpose. Those essential services provide the power that is necessary for industry to continue to function, and the Government believes that sufficient substitute fuel has been supplied to meet their requirements. However, sufficient fuel is not available to supply auxiliary plants.

SenatorCRITCHLEY. -I am sorry that I do not understand the answer supplied by the Minister for Shipping andFuel to my question. I desire to know whether the Government is adamant in its refusal to allow firms which have conserved liquid fuel stocks to use those stocks during the coal crisis in South Australia. If they were permitted to use such stocks they would be able to carry on for a while, without forming a drain on the reserve pool. That is the position according to the Chamber of Manufactures.

Senator ASHLEY:

– I do not know how the reserve stocks of fuel to which the honorable senator referred were obtained. It may be that some of those reserve stocks should not be held by those firms. I am not prepared to agree to any firm in South Australia, or elsewhere, being placed in an advantageous position compared with its competitors, by being permitted to use reserve stocks that have been accumulated in circumstances of which I am not aware. Of course those reserve stocks could have been accumulated quite legitimately. It is not right that firms should be permitted to use reserve stocks which may later have to be replenished, when there is no general approval for the using of substitute fuel, and thereby gain an advantage over their competitors.

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Senator COOPER.CanthePostmasterGeneral explain why the report of the committee appointed to inquire into the organization of the Australian Broadcasting Commission was tabled in the Senate only yesterday, although it is dated the 5th March, 1948, which nearly a year ago?

Senator CAMERON:
Postmaster-General · VICTORIA · ALP

– The explanation is that the report was submitted to a sub-committee of Cabinet for consideration. After a number of meetings the Cabinet sub-committee made recommendations to the Government, as the result of which the Australian Broadcasting Bill was introduced. Certain aspects of the report are still receiving consideration.

In the circumstances it was not considered desirable that the report should be tabled earlier.

Senator COOPER:

– Can the PostmasterGeneral say whether the recommendation made by the committee which inquired into the administration of the Australian Broadcasting Commission that the commission’s news service and organization should be overhauled in detail by an expert with wide experience in first-class journalism, inboth its news gathering and administrative aspects, has teen adopted?

Senator CAMERON:

– When the committee’s report was received a copy of it was forwarded almost immediately to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and I understand that as the result the commission has made an. investigation and effected certain charges. The Government is now awaiting a report from the commission as to the degree to which it has implemented the recommendations of the committee. One reason for the delay in releasing the committee’s report was that the Government desired to make all inquiries necessary so that the Parliament could be fully informed on the subject after the investigations indicated had been made. Those investigations are still being continued, and I expect that the commission will be able to furnish a complete report in the near future.

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Senator RANKIN:

– In view of the Government’s declared policy of reducing taxes, can the Minister for Shipping and Fuel say whether the Government will give urgent consideration to the immediate removal of sales tax from ice and refrigerators, which are vitally necessary to the maintenance ofhealth and the living standards of the community?

Senator ASHLEY:

– The Government has always given serious consideration to the alleviation of the tax burden borne by the people. The incidence of sales tax on ice has been mentioned by the honorable senator in this chamber on a number of occasions, and I have pointed out that the sales tax on ice does not amount to1d. per week per home. I cannot agree, therefore, that a reduction of sales tax on ice would greatly benefit the community. However, I shall bring the honorable senator’s request to the notice of the Treasurer.

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Senator LAMP:

– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction aware that in Tasmania there is a serious shortage of flat galvanized iron which is used for the manufacture of sanitary pans and for the ratproofing of barns and food storehouses? Is the Minister also aware that the chairman of the Ironmongers’ Association of Tasmania stated, when he was approached concerning this matter, that he was not interested in supplying the needs of the community but only in getting the Labour Government out?

Senator McKENNA:

– I could answer both questions very shortly with the word “ No “. I am not aware of the shortage of flat galvanized iron, although I have no doubt that a shortage does exist. I do not know the chairman of the Ironmongers’ Association, and I have no knowledge of the statement that he is reported to have made. At the same time I realize that there are some misguided people in the community, who, like him, wish to see Labour removed from office.

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– About 1927, the Government issued a booklet containing information concerning the payment of pensions and the method of making application. That publication is now, of course, hopelessly out of date, and I should like to know from the Minister for Social Services whether he has put in hand the publication of an uptodate booklet, and if so, when the booklet will be issued ?

Senator McKENNA:

– The preparation of such a booklet was in contemplation for a considerable period, but despite the consolidation in 1947 of about 50 acts, the rate at which the Government developed socialserviceswas so great, and the number of changes made since 1947 was so many, thatthe completion of the booklet was deferred so that when it was ultimately issued it would be a comprehensive and uptodate publication. The honorable senator will be pleased to know that the preparation of that’ publication has been completed and that the booklet is in course of being set up by the printer. I hope that very large numbers of the booklet will be available for general distribution throughout Australia about the end of March. In the meantime, my department has prepared -a twelve-page statement, multigraph copies of which have been circulated throughout Australia, and to honorable senators. That statement provides a brief review of all of the social services benefits available. Information regarding such benefits has therefore been made available in the interim.

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Senator MORROW:

– Will the Minister for Supply and Development inform the Senate whether the steamship Barrigun was sold to the Australian United Steam Navigation Company Limited? If so, why was it sold, what was the cost of building the ship, and for what amount was it sold?

Minister for Supply and Development · NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Although I am not able to furnish accurate figures offhand, I shall obtain them for the honorable senator during the course of the afternoon. Two vessels, Barrigun and Balarr, were sold because, whilst the institution of a Commonwealth line of steamers is in contemplation, an urgent need exists for shipping tonnage on the Australian coast. The shipping companies applied for permits to purchase ships being built under contract to the Australian Shipping Board. I can assure the honorable senator that the price paid for Barrigun was a handsome price, being many thousands of pounds in excess of the cost of production of the vessel. That was because Barrigun was built some time ago at Whyalla when costs were much lower than present costs, and was sold on the basis of replacement cost. Other B class vessels are being built and they will cost as much as £60,000 more than Barrigun. Consequently, when they are sold the average selling price will represent a reasonable return to the Commonwealth.

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Senator MURRAY:

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. What are the guiding principles and functions of the tobacco distribution committees set up in each State?
  2. ls there an independent people’s representative on each of these committees?
  3. If not, will the Government take stepsto ensure that ex-servicemen and otherdeserving applicants for a tobacco quota haverepresentation on such committees, and that, such representatives have no financial interest in the tobacco industry?
Minister for Trade and Customs · QUEENSLAND · ALP

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

  1. The present tobacco distribution committees were set up by the trade when control over the distribution of tobacco by the Government ceased at the end of March 1040. It is understood that tobacco manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are represented on the trade committees and it is assumed their functions are to secure an equitable distribution of available supplies.
  2. It is not known.
  3. As the Government now has no control over tobacco distribution it cannot nominate representatives to tobacco distribution committees. The Government in accordance with its policy of relinquishing controls wherever possible has no desire to re-establish control over the distribution of tobacco.

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asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

  1. Have any licences to import wire netting into Australia been issued during the last twelve months?
  2. If so, how much wire netting has been imported during that period?
  3. In view of the very urgent need for increased supplies of wire netting to land-holders to combat the destruction of feed and land caused by the unusual rabbit plague, will the Minister give an assurance that every possible avenue will be explored, in order that wire netting will be available more quickly and in bigger quantities?

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

  1. The following approximate quantities of wire netting have been licensed during the past twelve months: - Ex - Japan, 1,000 tons; Belgium, 2,000 tons.; Germany, 1,000 tons;Holland, 2,000 tons. Most of the licences have been taken out in the past few months as wire netting was not readily available in the first half of 1948.
  2. 401 tuns.
  3. In order to assist in overcoming the shortage I am prepared to authorize the issue of licences to import all the wire netting that becomes available in easy currency countries and in countries with currencies which might be describedas less difficult. Information regarding availability during 1949 is as under: Belgium, 4,500 tons; France, 7,000 tons; Germany, 10,000 tons; total, 21,500. In the current quarter an increase has been made in the Belgian budget to permit of the licensing of 1,500 tons of wire netting in the quarter and dollars have been made available to licence approximately 1,200 tons from the dollar area. The local production for 1949 should reach 11,000 tons and the Government is endeavouring to have the Australian production increased.

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

by leave - I propose to outline, for the information of honorable senators, the foreign policy of the Australian Government dealing in particular with the relationship of this country with the United Nations, the British Commonwealth, the United States of America, the Pacific and South-East Asia, and with the economic agencies of the United Nations. It will be clear that there has been no change in policy since the establishment of the United Nations. The basic principles, which have been previously stated in ministerial statements, remain the foundation of Australian policy. These have been debated before, and general agreement with them has been expressed. It is only in the application of these principles to particular situations that there is room for debate and the Government is prepared to assert that, in all cases, it has endeavoured to deal with each situation on the basis of the principles already outlined to the Australian Parliament.

The first and fundamental principle of Australia’s policy in foreign affairs is steady and unwavering support for the United Nations, especially the purposes and principles declared in the Charter of the United Nations. The United Nations Charter is not merely the constitution of an international organization. It also contains declarations of duties, obligations and international conduct to which each member is pledged. The declared objectives and purposes of the United Nations organization also describe essen tial features of what every nation’s foreign policy ought to be and how it should behave to all other nations - in short its international duty to its neighbour.

The main purposes of the United Nations are: (a) To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war by intervening in all cases of threats to the peace, acts of aggression, or in situations likely to cause international friction; (b) to adjust and settle all such cases not arbitrarily but in conformity with the general principles of justice, such principles certainly including just procedures and the careful investigation of all relevant facts before decisions are reached; (c) to solve international problems of economic and social significance by promoting respect for human rights and fundamental freedom and by requiring all nations to secure higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development, and (d) to ensure the political, economic, social and educational advancement of all dependent peoples, recognizing that the interests of the inhabitants of these territories are a paramount trust.

Unwavering support for the United Nations implies unwavering support for the decisions of its councils and organizations. In one form or another, every member of the United Nations is given a fair opportunity to ensure that these decisions shall be made in accordance with the provisions of the Charter. It is essential that they shall be loyal to those decisions. In this connexion and by way of example, I wish to read to honorable senators the text of the resolution passed recently by the Security Council on the problem of Indonesia. This resolution was put forward by the United States of America only after careful and prolonged examination of the situation by the Committee of Good Offices at Batavia, by the representatives of eighteen governments at the Delhi Conference, and by the Security Council itself, at which both Dutch and Indonesian representatives were permitted to express their points of view. The conclusions thus arrived at should be based on fact and those which, in the view of the United Nations, are best calculated to bring about a peaceful settlement of the dispute in Indonesia. There has been a lot of comment in Australia and throughout the world on the question of Indonesia, and for that reason I wish to draw the attention of honorable senators to the report of the Committee of Good Offices dated the 21st December and also to the subsequent Security Council resolution.

Paragraph 5 of the committee’s report is as follows : -

  1. The Committee draws the attention of the Security Council to the following points which emerge from the foregoing and from the Committee’s previous reports: -

    1. In their repudiation of the Renville Truce Agreement, the Netherlands Government did not comply with the provisions of Article 10 of the Agreement.
    2. The Committee is not aware of any circumstances connected with the concentration of Republican forces or the manoeuvres of the Republican army which should have given rise to apprehensions and alarm, leading to precipitate action on the part of the Netherlands.
    3. The tone of the Netherlands letter of 17 December to the United States representative(vide Supplementary Report of 18 December) and the requirements of a reply within a time limit which was impossible of fulfilment give to this letter some feature of an ultimatum.
    4. Military operations of the nature carried out by the Netherlands forces must have involved considerable planning and it is difficult for the Committee not to conclude that plans for such operations were in progress during the exchange of correspondence referred to in the Committee’s Special Report of 12 December and the Supplementary Report thereto of 18 December, and at the time the Netherlands authorities facilitated the transfer of the Committee’s head-quarters to Kaliurang.
    5. Not only have the possibilities of negotiations under the auspices of the Committee not been exhausted, but they have not been adequately explored. There have been no negotiations under the auspices of the Committee since 23 July. The recent direct talks cannot be regarded as negotiations, as they took the form of Netherlands demands for the complete surrender of the Republic to the Netherlands position on all important issues.
    6. In commencing military operations on 10 December, the Netherlands Government acted in violation of its obligations under the Renville Truce Agreement.

Honorable senators will recall that the Good Offices Committee was appointed by the United Nations and consisted of rep resentatives of Australia, the United States of America and Belgium. This report of the committee was considered by the Security Council on the 28th January, 1949, when it adopted the following finding : -

The Security Council

Recalling its resolutions of 1st August 1947, 25th August 1947 and 1st November 1947 with respect to the Indonesian question ;

Taking note with approval of the reports submitted to the Security Council by its Committee of Good Offices for Indonesia ;

Considering that its resolutions of 24th December1948 and28th December1948 have not been fully carried out;

Considering that continued occupation of the territory of the Republic of Indonesia by the armed forces of the Netherlands is incompatible with the resolution of good relations between the parties and with the final achievement of a. just and lasting settlement of the Indonesian disputes;

Considering that the establishment and maintenance of law and order throughout Indonesia is a necessary condition to the achievement of the expressed objectives and desires of both parties;

Noting with satisfaction that the parties continue to adhere to the principles of the Renville Agreement and agree that free and democratic elections should be held throughout Indonesia for the purpose of establishing a constituent assembly at the earliest practicable date and further agree that the Security Council should arrange for the observation of such elections by an appropriate agency of the United Nations and that the Representative of the Netherlands has expressed his Government’s desire to have such elections held not later than October 1, 1949;

Noting also with satisfaction that the Government of the Netherlands plans to transfer sovereignty to the United States of Indonesia by January 1, 1950 if possible and in any case during the year 1950;

Conscious of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and in order that the rights, claims and positions of the parties may not be prejudiced by the use of force,

Calls upon the Government of the Netherlands to insure the immediate discontinuance of all military operations;

Calls upon the Government of the Republic simultaneously to order its armed adherents to cease guerrilla warfare, and

Calls upon both parties to co-operate in the restoration of peace and the maintenance of law and order throughout the area affected;

Calls upon the Government of the Netherlands to release immediately and unconditionally all political prisoners arrested by them on the 17th December, 1948, in the Republic of Indonesia, and to facilitate the immediate return of officials of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia to Djokjakarta in order that they may discharge their responsibilities under paragraph 1 above and in order to exercise their appropriate functions in full freedom, including administration of the Djokjakarta area, which shall include the city of Djokjakarta and its immediate environs. The Netherlands authorities shall afford to the Government of the Republic of Indonesia such facilities as may reasonably be required by that Government for its effective functioning in Djokjakarta and for communication and consultation with all persons in Indonesia.

In making the recommendation the Security Council was actuated solely by the desire to do justice between all parties in the field -

  1. Recommends that in the interest of carrying out the expressed objectives and desires of both parties to establish a Federal Independent and Sovereign United States of Indonesia at the earliest possible date, negotiations be undertaken as soon as possible by representatives of the Government of the Netherlands and the representatives of the Republic of Indonesia with the assistance of the Commission referred to in paragraph (4) below on the basis of the principles set forth in the Linggadjatti and Renville Agreements and taking advantage of the extent of agreements reached between the parties regarding the proposal submitted to them by the United States representative on the Committee of Good Offices on September 10, 1948 and in particular on the basis that -

    1. the establishment of the Interim Federal Government which is to be granted the powers of internal government in Indonesia during the Interim period before the transfer of sovereignty will be the result of the above negotiations and shall take place not later than March 15, 1949;
    2. the elections which are to be held for the purpose of choosing representatives to an Indonesian Constituent Assembly should be completed by October 1, 1949; and
    3. the transfer of sovereignty over Indonesia by the Government of the Netherlands to the United States of Indonesia should take place at the earliest possible date and in any case not later than July 1, 1950;

Provided that if no agreement is reached by one month prior to the respective dates referred to in sub-paragraphs(a), (b) and (c) above, the Commission referred to in paragraph 4 (a) below or such other United Nations agency as may be established in accordance with paragraph 4 (c) below, shall immediately report to the Security Council with its recommendations for a solution of the difficulties.

  1. The Committee of Good Offices shall henceforth be known as the United Nations Commission for Indonesia.

    1. The Commission shall net as the representative of the Security Council in Indonesia and shall have all the functions assigned to the Committee of Good Offices by the Security

Council since December16 and the functions conferred on it by the terms of this resolution. The Commission shall act by majority votebut its reports and recommendations to the Security Council shall present both majority and minority views if there is a difference of opinion among the members of the Commission.

  1. The Consular Commission is requested to facilitate the work of the United Nations Commission for Indonesia by providing military observers and other staff and facilities to enable the Commission to carry out its duties under the Council’s resolutions of 24th and 28th December, 1948, as well as under the present resolution and shall temporarily suspend other activities.
  2. The Commission shall assist the parties in the implementation of this resolution and shall assist the parties in the negotiations to be undertaken under paragraph (3) above and is authorized to make recommendations to them or to the Security Council on matters within its competence. Upon agreement being reached in such negotiations, the Commission shall make recommendations to the Security Council as to the nature, powers and functions of the United Nations agency which should remain in Indonesia to assist in the implementation of the provisions of such agreement until sovereignty is transferred by the Government of the Netherlands to the United States of Indonesia.
  3. The Commission shall have authority to consult with representatives of areas in Indonesia other than the Republic, and to invite representatives of such areas to participate in the negotiations referred to in paragraph (3) above.
  4. The Commission or such other United Nations agency as may be established in accordance with its recommendation under the second preceding paragraph is authorized to observe on behalf of the United Nations the elections to be held throughout Indonesia and is further authorized in respect of the territories of Java, Madura and Sumatra to make recommendations regarding the conditions necessary -

    1. to ensure that such elections are free and democratic, and
    2. to guarantee freedoms of assembly, speech and publication at all times provided that such guarantee is not construed so as to include the advocacy of violence or reprisals.
  5. The Commission should assist in achieving the earliest possible restoration of the civil administration of the Republic. To this end it shall, after consultation with the parties, recommend the extent to which consistent with reasonable requirements of public security and the protection of life and property areas controlled by the Republic under the Renville Agreement (outside the Djokjakarta area) should be progressively returned to the administration of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and shall supervise such transfers. The recommendations of the Commission may include provision for such economic measures as are required for the proper functioning of the administration and for the economic well being of the population of the areas involved in such transfers.
  6. The Commission shall, after consultation with the parties, recommend which, if any. Netherlands forces shall be retained temporarily in any area in order to assist in the maintenance of law and order. If either of the parties fails to accept the recommendations of the Commission mentioned in this paragraph, the Commission shall report immediately to the Security Council with its further recommendations fora solution of the difficulties. (h)TheCommissionshallrenderperiodic reports to the Council and special reports whenever the Commission deems necessary. The Commission shall employ such observers, officers and other persons as it deems necessary.

    1. Requests the Secretary -General to make available to the Commission such staff, funds and other facilities as are required by the Commission for the discharge of its function.
    2. Calls upon the Government of the Netherlands and the Republic of Indonesia to co-operate fully in giving effect to the provisions of this resolution.

I have dealt with this matter at some length merely by way of illustration that, once the United Nations has made a careful examination of a situation and has received the best information available to it, including information from parties to the dispute, the decisions of the United Nations should be loyally upheld by all its members. I have not gone into the merits of the dispute and have merely emphasized that support for the United Nations implies support for the decisions of its councils.

I pass now to a consideration of British Commonwealth co-operation. The Government’s policy is one of active cooperation as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations aiming at a world peace based on justice and better conditions of life for all peoples. Each member of the British Commonwealth, including the United Kingdom Government, has its own special problems and obligations, sometimes regional, sometimes political, sometimes strategic, sometimes economic. These special problems have to be taken into account in considering particular aspects of British Commonwealth co-operation. So far as Australia is concerned, there has been no holding back by the Government from the full implications of British Commonwealth membership. On the contrary, we have repeatedly taken the lead in initiating improvements in the practices of cooperative, consultation; and we are still doing so. The fact is that no member of the British Commonwealth of Nations has done more to advance co-operation than has Australia, and this is well illustrated by the recent conference at London.

There is complete harmony between the policy of supporting the United Nations and the policy of actively co-operating as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The recent conference of Prime Ministers in London showed a remarkable community of outlook among all the Governments of the British Commonwealth in their approach to present world problems, and - this is of vital importance - the fundamental approach of all members was “ support of the objectives of the United Nations as an instrument for world peace and their determination to make its work fully effective “. Any other view would be unthinkable because the British Commonwealth is itself a brotherhood of free and equal nations which made important contributions to the framing of the United Nations Charter and to the military victory which alone made the United Nations organization possible. Australian support for the United Nations, therefore, so far from in any way weakening British Commonwealth co-operation, strengthens and reinforces it. Equally, members of the British Commonwealth have agreed to work together in upholding the broad objectives of the United Nations - peace based on justice, the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means based on justice, high standards of living, and full employment.

An integral part of Australia’s foreign policy is the maximum degree of cooperation of Australia with the United States of America, especially in relation to the Pacific and South-East Asia. In point of fact the co-operation of Australia with the United States - very close in time of war with President Roosevelt as chairman of the Pacific War Council and General MacArthur as Supreme Commander of the South-West Pacific - is being confirmed and strengthened by President Truman, whose courage and perseverance have recently been matched by his constructive “ Fair Deal “ plan for the world announced at his recent inaugural.

In time of war Australia’s policy was necessarily directed to energetic and whole-hearted concentration upon our survival as a free nation. Equally important is Australia’s attitude to international affairs in time of peace - that war can best be prevented by removing its underlying causes and that international disputes must be settled by reference to the standard of what is just and right and not to what is merely expedient : as well as by promoting, in accordance with the Atlantic Charter, improvements of living standards not only in Australia and the British Commonwealth but throughout the world.

Australia, both inside the United Nations organization and in connexion with the peace settlements outside the United Nations framework, has always insisted upon democratic methods and procedures in international conferences. From San Francisco onwards we opposed the unrestricted veto in the Security Council and we have asserted and claimed the positive right of every nation that contributed to victory over our enemies to take an active part in the negotiations and making of the peace treaties. It is the failure to recognize these simple, just and democratic procedures which has led to tragic delays in the making of peace for Germany and for Japan.

Australia has always recognized the importance of regional consultation and co-operation, both in matters of security and in matters of economic and social welfare. This approach is perfectly consistent, not only with British Commonwealth co-operation, but also with the Charter of the United Nations. For instance, valuable and important European and American regional organizations have already been established in accordance with the United Nations Charter which, as a general rule, requires Security Council authoriziation in cases of enforcement. In addition, Article 51 of the Charter explicitly recognizes the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in the case of armed attack pending the taking of enforcement measures by the Security Council itself.

Accordingly, Australia and New Zealand made a special agreement for consultation in 1944 and subsequently both countries initiated the South Pacific Commission for international cooperation aiming at the welfare of the peoples of the South Pacific islands under the sovereignty of Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands and France. Regional consultation in South-East Asia and the Pacific is strictly in accordance with the practice of the United Nations and of the British Commonwealth. Indeed, the South-East Asia and Pacific regions include no less than six of the eight members of the British Commonwealth - the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, New Zealand and Australia. The principle of regional co-operation in these areas has already been recognized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East and by Lord Killearn’s pioneer work particularly on food, as well as by regular co-operation between the South-East Asian members of the British Commonwealth.

With great power differences multiplying and becoming critical, the role of the United Nations as mediator and conciliator is becoming of very special importance. This function of conciliation and mediation, which has been exercised both by the Security Council a,nd the General Assembly, and especially by the middle and smaller nations, only embodies the duty which rests upon every nation to promote the peaceful- adjustment of international disputes and to avoid the arbitrament of force. United Nations interventions in the Balkans, Kashmir, Palestine, Indonesia, Korea and Berlin sufficiently illustrate the principle. To-day, in the case of China, where a long and tragic war has convulsed the nation and delayed the rehabilitation and restoration to which its long-suffering people are justly entitled, it would, in my judgment, be strictly in accordance with United Nations principles to assist mediation in an attempt to bring about an agreed settlement which would save countless lives. The work of the recent Assembly meeting at Paris is evidence of the part that the United Nations is playing in bringing about peaceful settlement of disputes, and, more especially, in creating conditions which prevent disputes from arising. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has made available to honorable senators the report of the Australian delegation led by the Minister to the third annual General Assembly held in Paris last September. A glance at that report, including as it does, some 70 items dealt with by the Assembly, shows that, on a great number of matters, positive and constructive action was taken. I shall mention some of the matters that were considered by the Assembly. Honorable senators have had circulated to them the report to which I. have just referred. If they refer to the table of contents of this very lengthy document they will find that matters relating to atomic energy, disarmament, Palestine, appeal to the Great Powers to renew their efforts to compose their differences and establish a lasting peace, Korea, threats to the territorial integrity and political independence of Greece, Greek children, Balkan conciliation talks, advisability of establishing a permanent Committee of the General Assembly, admission of new members, and the problem of voting in the Security Council were discussed. Under the heading of “ Economic, Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Questions “, the problem of the wasting of food by certain countries, numerous other matters, the Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of information, International Children’s Emergency Fund, and the report of the Trusteeship Council were discussed. Items covering many scores of independent questions are listed, and if honorable senators will also refer to the second document that has been circulated they will find the resolutions that were adopted by the meeting of the General Assembly in Paris, held from the 21st September to the 12th December, 1948. They will find a very lengthy index of the matters upon which resolutions were passed. I think that they number 56 in all, nine relating to political and security subjects, some relating to economic and financial matters, and other matters submitted to the Assembly by other committees of the Council, including humanitarian and cultural matters. Altogether, this very comprehensive report and list of resolutions presented to the Senate on behalf of the Minister for External Affairs must leave in the minds of honorable senators, who take the trouble to read and study them, an impression not only of vast endeavour, but also of vast achievement and importance.

The second document to which I have referred as having been made available by the Minister sets out all of the resolutions that were adopted by the Assembly. It will be seen that progress was made in the discussion of almost all items on the agenda. This progress, however, is not often reflected in the reports of the Assembly which appear in the press and elsewhere, as these reports usually relate to disputes, and rarely refer to agreements of the Assembly or its committees. Honorable senators will find the delegation report on the General Assembly and the text of the resolutions adopted by the Genera] Assembly of very real interest.

Australia has not only carried out its international obligation under the Charter to maintain full employment and higher standards of living within Australia; it has also discharged its important duty to assist in the rehabilitation and relief of peoples outside its own borders. In effect, Australia has throughout the post-war era been steadily pursuing its own version of the Marshall plan. Thus Australia has actively supported all United Nations action in aid of needy and distressed peoples. It has provided assistance to many relief and welfare organizations. In the case of Unrra, Australia was the fourth largest contributor in the world. Post-Unrra relief has carried on this policy. An illustration is the United Nations Internationa] Children’s Emergency Fund, which assists children and mothers in want, guided only by needs and without any form of discrimination whatsoever. The Australian Government’s contribution to the United Nations Children’s Fund has been the second largest in the world. This remarkable achievement has recently been reinforced by the voluntary gifts recently made by our people in answer to the United Nations 1948 Appeal for Children, resulting in a ‘ greater direct contribution to the United Nations Children’s Fund than in the case of any other nation. A further illustration of this policy was Australia’s prompt assistance to the relief of Arab refugees and its very active support of the International Refugee Organization. Perhaps I should also be permitted to mention Australia’s gifts of £35,000,000 as practical evidence of our admiration of the magnificent effort being made by the Government and people of Britain towards its economic rehabilitation - an effort not unworthy of our kinsmen’s epic sacrifices in the common struggle against aggression.

A close examination of the three years’ work of the United Nations, of its Assembly, its Security Council, its Economic Council and its Trusteeship Council shows a faithful pursuit of its great objectives. The recent Assembly meeting at Paris is a further proof of steady accomplishment, despite many difficulties. The United Nations is undoubtedly contributing day by day to the maintenance and even the making of a just peace, and the active participation of Australian delegations on these great occasions not only helps the United Nations but proves that Australia is conducting its foreign policy in a way which is worthy of the war-time effort of its people.

In this critical period of the history of mankind, President Truman, after the recent endorsement of his policy by the American people, has greatly encouraged those who have also placed their faith in the United Nations. In the President’s words at his inauguration, “ the supreme need of our time is for men to learn to live together in peace and harmony “, and to this end the first guiding principle he enunciated is to “ continue unfaltering support of the United Nations and United Nations agencies. New nations now advancing towards self-government will strengthen its hand “.

Amongst all Australians there ought to be complete agreement with the foreign policy of the Australian Government so frequently and frankly stated and consistently carried into effect. Differences in emphasis are understandable. But the essential objective of our foreign policy is the same in relation to political, social or economic matters. It is the maintenance of peace based on justice, a peace made enduring by increasing living standards and by the development of political independence and political responsibility. Means to this end are : continuous support of the purposes, principles and decisions of the United Nations; the greatest possible co-operation with members of the British Commonwealth of Nations; regional arrangements in order to promote welfare and to settle disputes causing international friction ; assumption of the role of international conciliation and mediation whenever and wherever it might be sought, and practical support for the economic and humanitarian activities of the United Nations, its specialized agencies and all regional bodies - all this with a view to making life worth living for all.

I lay on the table the following papers : -

Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement. 10th February, 1949

United Nations -

General Assembly - First Part of Third Annual Session. Paris, SeptemberDecember, 1948 -

Report of Australian Delegation

Resolutions adopted.

Resolution on Berlin presented to the

Security Council by Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China. Colombia and Syria - 22nd October, 1948- and move -

That the papers be printed.

Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.

page 108


Second Reading

Debate resumed from the 9th February (vide page 43). on motion by Senator Ashley -

That the bill be now read a second time.

Senator LAMP:

.-I describe this bill to establish a Commonwealth shipping line as a magnificent measure, and I whole-heartedly support it. I was greatly impressed by the record of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers and the splendid job which it accomplished on behalf of the primary producers of this country. The proposal under this measure to establish another government shipping line is timely.I believe that the Government could go much further. It should establish a joint company with the British Government for the operation of a shipping line between

Australia and the Mother Country. Honorable senators will recall the criticism voiced recently when several ships which came to Australia fully loaded returned to England with their holds empty. Such incidents would not be repeated if a joint company formed by the Australian and British Governments were operating a shipping line between their two countries, lt is well known that management by direct representation makes for more efficient operation than representation by agencies. If a company of the kind which I suggest were formed and directly managed in Australia and Great Britain, its vessels would be kept running to schedule and full cargoes would always be assured. Under those conditions the success of such a line of ships would be guaranteed. I also suggest that the Government should form a similar company in partnership with the Government of New Zealand. T. earnestly request the Government to consider my proposal. I am sure that such companies would prove of great benefit to the governments concerned and would be assured of success.

The establishment of the proposed slapping line is essential in order to serve the interests of the outposts of the Commonwealth. I refer to islands under Australian control in the far north, Manus Island and other islands in the Pacific, the islands in Bass Strait, Macquarie Island, and the dependencies of the Commonwealth. It is essential that we maintain direct contact with people living in those places. Because of its geographical situation, Australia must establish and maintain its own virile mercantile marine. The Leader of the Opposition (.Senator Cooper) and his colleague, Senator Rankin, said that the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers did not keep down shipping freights. In my view the greatest advantage of a Commonwealth-owned activity is that it can regulate profit margins generally in its particular sphere. For many year9 past government-owned railways in this country have been the subject of much criticism in respect of their earning capacity and their ability to make profits. However, when voicing such criticism, members of the Opposition parties fail to point out that the railways carry many commodities, such as timber and superphosphate, at concession freights, sometimes at less than cost ofcarriage, and in that way are the means of directly subsidizing the primary producers of this country and industry generally. I can best illustrate that point by dealing with the competition between Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines. Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited increased its passenger fare from Victoria to Tasmania from £3 16s. to £4 10s. . “When Trans-Australia Airlines was established, it charged £3 16s. and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited quickly followed suit. That reduction of 14s. represented a direct subsidy to all persons using that service. That is a great achievement in itself; and the same observation applies with respect to shipping. To-day, the fare by air between Tasmania and Victoria is less than the steamer fare between Launceston and Melbourne, the latter fare, via. Beauty Point, being approximately £4 4s. 6d. compared with the airways fare of £3 16s. As the Leader of the Opposition contended that the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers did not justify ite existence. I take the following extract from a pamphlet written by Mr. Amos, in which he briefly tells the story of those ships: -

They were employed carrying wheat to England, from which they returned laden with general goods, and on 1Sth October, 1919, Mr. Poynton could report, in his budget speech, that the fleet had carried to and from Australia, 1,020,072 tone of cargo, and that in the case of the “ Australs “, at 30th September, 1918, receipts exceeded expenditure by f 2,121,000; while the net earnings of the ex-enemy boats, from 1914 to 1919, totalled £3,576,901. There can be no doubt that the management of the fleet took advantage of the high freights ruling to make money - the fleet had to be paid for - but still their average freight for wheat was £0 per ton, whereas, with other shipping owners, the freight fluctuated between £10 and £12, and even reached as high as £15 per ton. Moreover, when national needs demanded it, profits were sacrificed to service; the “ Australs “ carried 123,000 tons of phosphate rock at one time to help Australian farmers; during the coal famine. 20 vessels of the fleet were employed in carrying coal from Newcastle to the other States; its vessels carried sugar for us when we required it; they conveyed chaff to places where it was needed during the drought, and, when they could have earned £15 per ton carrying cargo in other parts of the world, they were used instead to carry cornsacks to Australia at £5 per ton.

Therefore, the line justified itself by providing a service to the whole community and not merely to private profit makers. Our watch-word should be “ service to the community “. I am one who has rendered service to the community all my life, and T believe that great satisfaction is to be derived from such work.

Honorable senators will recall that I. was the Australian delegate to the twentyeighth session of the International Labour Conference held at Seattle in June- July, 1946. A maritime session of that conference dealt with shipping in general, and I learned to my dismay that all American ships received a government subsidy, although I was unable to ascertain the exact basis of that subsidy. American railways too are subsidized by as much as 11 per cent, on their capital. “When I raised the matter of subsidized shipping, I was informed that rates of pay, hours, and working conditions ou American vessels were so much better than those on other shipping lines, that American ships had to be subsidized. The purpose of the International Conference was to agree upon uniform rates of pay and conditions throughout the world. Later, I shall tell honora’ble senators something about what happened. At Portland, Oregon, I saw 2000 ships tied up in rows and I understand that they ure still there. Large numbers of vessels are also tied up at Seattle, the great shipping port in the north, west. In time of war what counts is not strength of our armed forces, but the industrial and scientific capacity of the countries engaged in conflict. I sincerely believe that the task of building a great Australian mercantile fleet can be tackled successfully by the Commonwealth Government itself. I propose to make another quotation from the publication to which I have already referred, but first I remind the Senate that although the original Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers was sold at a ridiculously low figure, even that amount was never paid in full. The ships were pur chased by the White Star Line, which was a unit of the British shipping combine. Subsequently the company went into liquidation and £4.00,000 is still owing to the Commonwealth Government in principal and interest. After the sale of the steamers, private shipping interests got together and formed what was called the Conference Shipping Line. In thai connexion, The Story of the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Fleet states -

In order to keep up these freights, Lord Inchcape formed his famous “ Shipping Conference “ which governs British shipping, while Morgan formed the trust which controls vessels, and by 1921 both were working in unison and owning most of the shipping plying on the Australian Coast. Said Morgan, with grim humour, at a banquet tendered him by business magnates on his completion of the Trust, “* We are the advanced socialists: we have discovered that combination, not competition, means success in trade, and we are going to take the profits of combination until the people are sufficiently intelligent to take the profits for themselves “.

We have arrived at the stage when we are sufficiently intelligent to take the profit for ourselves. It is the job of the Commonwealth Government to enter into competition with private shipping lines and to reap the resultant benefit for the Australian people.

As the Minister said in his secondreading speech, the mercantile marine is an arm of the fighting services, and therefore the existence of an adequate mercantile marine in this country cannot be left to the accidents of commercial chance. The fact is, however, that in 1939, of a total fleet of approximately 225 vessels aggregating 450,000 tons, 82 ships aggregating 107,000 tons were more than twenty years old, and 50 ships totalling 102,000 tons were from sixteen to twenty years old. Replying to a question earlier to-day, the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator Armstrong) adequately justified the establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line, and I congratulate him on his efforts, and upon the expert manner in which the task is being tackled.

We should not lose sight of the benefit to this country of a strong shipbuilding industry. I understand that in 1921, not long after World War I., only 3,000 persons were employed in the Australian shipbuilding industry. Now, there are 7,000 people directly employed in this industry. Had shipbuilding in this country not been developed, the town of Whyalla in South Australia would never have been established. During World War II. Tasmania, with its magnificent supply of shipbuilding timbers, did a marvellous job, mainly in the construction of small ships for the island trade. Those vessels were of tremendous value to the Commonwealth Government, and to the fighting services in particular. I trust that should the need ever again arise for the production of similar vessels, the part that Tasmania has played in this industry will not be overlooked.

I read with concern some time ago a book by Ellen Wilkinson called The Town that Was Murdered. The town referred to is Jarrow, which at one time was one of the greatest shipbuilding centres in the world. After the depression, industrial combines in Great Britain and elsewhere carried out what they termed the rationalization of industry. In effect, the plan was to expand existing combines in every possible way by closing up smaller concerns and absorbing those that remained. The result was the abandonment of some beautiful industrial towns which were well equipped with factories, workshops and valuable plant. When war broke out it was found that the combines had left the Old Country without the necessary industrial capacity to provide the shipping that was so vitally needed. As I have said, in 1921, employees in the Australian shipbuilding industry numbered 3,000. This year the industry employs 7,204 persons, and it is interesting to note how shipbuilding has spread throughout the Commonwealth. This decentralization is most desirable. Walkers Limited at Maryborough in Queensland employs 345 persons, Evans Deakin Limited in Brisbane, 261, the State Dockyard at Newcastle, 1,356, Cockatoo Dockyard, Sydney, 2,265, Mort’s Dock, Sydney, 1,750, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Whyalla, 937, and Poole and Steele Limited, Sydney, 290, making a total of 7,204. In addition the Commonwealth marine engine works in Melbourne and Brisbane employ approximately 300 men mainly on the. construction of engines for ships, although other engineering work is done.

The figures that I have given relate only to direct employment in shipbuilding. In addition, large numbers of operatives are indirectly employed in subsidiary undertakings which provide components for ships including gears and boilers, and equipment such as cutlery and linen. As a further example of the degree to which shipbuilding makes demands upon other industries, the Australian Shipbuilding Board at present has orders placed for approximately fifteen miles of electrical cable for installation in ships. Approximately two miles of cable is required for a merchant vessel. That shows the ramifications of the shipbuilding industry. The industry is vital to Australia and the defence of the Commonwealth.

I shall quote now a paragraph or two from a pamphlet prepared by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). The pamphlet states that Australia has a great shipbuilding record. That cannot be denied. The Minister further states -

Another striking performance during this same period has “been accomplished by the ship construction section of our Naval Department in spite of labour shortages through so many of our young men being needed for the various fighting services. This if demonstrated by the following figures:

No less than eighty-three major naval fighting ships have been- built and launched and most of them have seen action. The latest types built are the modern large type destroyers named after the famous battles” in which Australian troops played an important part, such as H.M.A.S. Tobruk and H.M.A.S. Anzac

In addition to these modern fighting ships, hundreds of small craft were built during the same period.

When we turn to the record of the Commonwealth Shipbuilding Board, established by the Curtin Government in 1941, we cannot help being proud of its splendid achievements, for, during its seven years’ operation, it has surprised its critics.

Here are some of the facts:

Since 1941, no less than 25 ships have been built, launched and put into commission, with a total deadweight tonnage of 154,000. Of these, thirteen ships were of 9,000 deadweight tons, two were 0,500 tons, and eight were 3,000 deadweight tons per ship, and the only criticism I have heard is that they are built too well.

A further 44 vessels aggregating 205,100 deadweight tons are scheduled for construction, of which work is proceeding on nineteen vessels, comprising ten of6,500 deadweight tons, six of 3,000 deadweight tons, and three of 700 deadweight tons.

A magnificent achievement during the war years was the repair of 12,160 merchant vessels totalling53,079,182 tons, some of which were very badly damaged.

Honorable senators will recall seeing many extensively damaged ships in Australian ports during the war. I am pleased to be able to congratulate the workers who repaired those vessels upon the magnificent work that they did.I had not previously expected to see the day when our shipyards could do such good work.

Senator Nash:

-Where would those ships have been repaired if the Curtin Government had not established the board in 1941 ?

Senator LAMP:

– Most of them would not have been repaired. Some of them might have been towed to the United States of America or to New Zealand, but I believe that the action of the Curtin Government in making possible the repair of those vessels in Australia contributed greatly to the success of our war effort. We should also pay tribute to the Australian Shipping Board for the work that it is doing at present. The organization of the sea transport of coal from Newcastle deserves creditable mention. Honorable senators will be interested to note that during 1948 a total quantity of 2,258,794 tons of coal was shipped interstate from Newcastle. Commonwealth ships carried 1,471,522 tons, which was approximately 65 per cent. of the total tonnage. Those figures show that, but for the assistance provided by Commonwealth-owned and chartered ships, industry in States other than New South Wales would have been in extreme difficulties during 1948. The work done by the Combined Traffic Committee in Melbourne inorganizing the movements of the ships needed to shift nearly 2,500,000 tons of coal deserves great praise because at least 70,000 tons of shipping weekly had to be worked into position in New South Wales despite all the difficulties of moving vessels through their intermediate ports.

The facts that I have already stated constitutea very good case in support of this bill. However, I shall now refer to otheraspectsoftheshippingindustry which demonstrate the need for a Commonwealth line of vessels. One of those aspects is the monopoly of small ships that exists in Australia. That stranglehold must be broken. I refer particularly to the trade between Flinders Island and Tasmania and between King Island and Tasmania. One company controls both the air services and the shipping services which operate to and from King Island and Flinders Island. I say without fear of successful contradiction that that monopoly has created in the minds of the residents of both islands such a degree of antagonism towards the company that, if a. vote were taken on the subject, they would be almost unanimous in condemning it. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) and Senator Rankin spoke of the rate of turn-round of ships. Senator O’Byrne and I visited King Island only last week. A ship arrived at King Island on the Saturday morning of Australia Day week-end. Unloading was not commenced on that day because the waterside workers would have been entitled to overtime rates. Monday was a holiday for Australia Day, and no work was done then. Unloading began on Tuesday morning after three full days had been wasted in port. That was not the fault of the workers, yet honorable senators opposite blame them for delays in the movement of ships. The men were willing to work that ship on the day of its arrival. They had no desire to work on Sunday, of course, but they were willing to work on the Monday as well. The delay was caused entirely by the company, which would not pay the overtime rates that would have been incurred as the result of working on holidays.

On another occasion, a vessel operated by the company departed from King Island leaving a large amount of cargo on the wharf. When complaints were madeabout that, the company’s representatives ‘blamed the waterside workers. But the workers called a public meeting and explained the facts to the fanners of the island with the result that a resolution condemning the shipping company and congratulating the waterside workers upon the stand that they had taken was passed. Senator O’Byrne and I attended a meeting at which we were told by the residentsoftheislandthatthewaterside workers were doing a good job in difficult circumstances.

Senator Morrow:

– I am sure that that was not reported in the press.

Senator LAMP:

– No. of course not. Residents of King Island have great difficulty in obtaining supplies throughout the year, but especially during the winter season. The depth of the bar at Currie on King Island will permit the passage of ships with a draught of not more than 9 ft. 6 ins. Therefore, in bad weather, ships must stand off or go elsewhere. As the result, the islanders are sometimes left without fresh supplies for a month or more. The following figures indicate that they are now very poorly served by the shipping company : -

That table shows that the islanders are being neglected. I hope that the new Commonwealth shipping line will be able to provide a greatly improved service for those worthy Australian citizens, who produce the best cattle and some of the highest quality butter in the world. During the war, thousands of tons of cheese destined for Great Britain had to be stacked on the island because of the lack of shipping space. I hope that when the Commonwealth shipping line is properly established it will be able to conduct a service of small ships between Melbourne, King Island, Flinders Island and Tasmanian ports.

On the international plane, I believe that it is absolutely necessary to arrive at an international agreement on rates of pay and working conditions on ships. It is useless for any shipping line to undercut the vessels of other countries engaged on the same class of work. The United States policy of subsidizing American ship? so greatly that the vessels of other nations are deprived of opportunities to earn badly needed dollars serves no good purpose either for the United States of America or for the countries that are adversely affected. During World War II., the ships of Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom were able to earn dollars by carrying American goods from American ports to other places. However, the subsidizing of American ships, with the resultant dominance of American shipping services, has prevented those countries from continuing to earn large dollar amounts in that way. That has caused them to reduce the volume of their imports from the United States of America and has thus reacted unfavorably against American working men. Therefore, even the people of the United States of America have much to gain from an international agreement on wages and working conditions for seamen.

As 1 said earlier, I was the Australian Government’s delegate to the Maritime Session of the 2Sth International Conference of the International Labour Organization at Seattle in 1946. The agenda for that session included the following items: Director’s report; social security for seafarers; crew accommodation on board ship; food and catering on board ship; entry, training and promoting of seafarers; holidays with pay for seafarers; continuous employment for seafarers; recognition of seafarers’ organizations; wages and hours of work on board ship and manning. 1 was a member of the committee that regulated hours of work; wages and manning conditions. After a great deal of argument and negotiation, that committee was able to lay down an international basic rate of pay for able-bodied seamen of £16 a month. At that time, American, Australian and Canadian seamen were paid rates above that figure. However, the seamen of all other countries were on standards far below that level. I believe that all honorable senators will agree that a wage of £16 a month is very low indeed. It indicates the necessity for something to be done to bring conditions on the ships of other nations up to a level comparable with that of the United States of America, Canada and Australia. One aspect of the committee’s deliberations that amused me very much was the consistent attitude of the New Zealand shipowners’ delegate. The report of the committee’s decisions shows that he performed the impressive record of voting against every proposal that was made at the gathering.

Australia must ratify the international conventions. 1 brought this matter before the notice of the Director of the Maritime Session of the International Labour Organization Conference, and pointed out that Australia, unlike other countries, did not have direct agreements between employers and employees, but had an Arbitration Court which settled, usually satisfactorily, wages and conditions and terms of employment between employers and employees. The conference decided that awards of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court would ratify a convention, so that now any award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court automatically ratifies a convention. Our hardest fight developed on the matter of . working hours, and ultimately it was decided that a 4S-hour week should be worked on distant trade ships, and a 56-hour week on near trade ships. I opposed both motions, and I .pointed out that in Australia workers were then enjoying a 44-hour week, which, it was hoped, would shortly be reduced to 40 hours. Of course, very long hours are worked on many overseas ships. For instance, I understand that on ships which operate between the United Kingdom and France and. Belgium, 12-hour shifts are worked on a 54-hour week basis. Something should be done for seamen by the International Labour Office, and I consider that action should be taken to ratify the conventions. For one thing, the dangers inherent in the payment of subsidies should be brought to the notice of the International Labour Office with a view to evolving some practical means to overcome thatpernicious system. When an Australian Commonwealth line of steamers is established, its vessels should operate not only in the coastal trade but also in the passenger and freight trade to the United Kingdom and New Zealand. I referred a moment ago to the practice adopted by some countries of paying subsidies to shipping lines. That pernicious practice should be abolished as soon as possible. We want fair competition between the private steamship lines and the proposed government line, and given fair treatment I am convinced that the proposed Commonwealth line will sweep the seas, not only around the coast of Australia but also between this country and New

Zealand and the United Kingdom. 1 support the bill most heartily.

Senator FINLAY:
South Australia

– I give the bill my wholehearted support. The principal criticism levelled at it by members of the Opposition is that it allegedly represents another attempt by the Government to nationalize industry. Of course, that criticism has been uttered so often by members of the. Opposition that it has become almost an obsession with them. It is obvious that they could not have paid much attention to the preliminary remarks of the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley), who introduced the bill, because lie made the Government’s objectives quite clear. He said -

In introducing this bill, I should like to assure the members of the Opposition, in anticipation of their usual protests in regard to socialization, that there is no provision in the bill for the nationalization of the shipping industry. The objectives of the Government in introducing the bill are, first, to provide for the maintenance of the Australian mercantile marine, secondly, to provide for the maintenance of the shipbuilding industry in Australia, and thirdly, to provide for the establishment of a Commonwealth line of steamers.

I think that we might well direct our remarks, whether they be in support of or in opposition to the measure, to the objectives so clearly expressed. First of all, we must consider why the Government should decide to seek parliamentary authority to embark upon the ownership and operation of ships and to engage in shipbuilding. From the remarks of members of the Opposition, one would imagine that there was no threat of war confronting us and that it was no longer necessary for the Government to concern itself with the construction and maintenance of ‘ vessels. I remind honorable senators of the tragic position that confronted Australia during World War T. At that time, we did not have the semblance of a shipbuilding industry and under the pressure of war we had to set about establishing it. We did succeed in establishing a small industry, hut after the war was over it was allowed to decay, and when World War II. began were hopelessly unable to replace vessels lost in that war or even to repair them Australia was thrown entirely on its own resources, and could no longer look to the United Kingdom to construct and repair vessels for it. The establishment of the shipbuilding industry in Australia by a Labour government during the stress of total war was a magnificent achievement, and it behoves everyone who has the interests of this country at heart, not only to maintain the existing industry but also to expand it as rapidly as possible. For that reason, apart from any other, I was astounded to hear Senator Rankin make three very critical observations on the Government’s proposal. First of all, she asked: Is the building of ships by the Australian Government really necessary? Secondly, she asked : From what source is the money to come? Then the honorable senator went on to say that in condemning the measure she expressed the view of the women of Australia. I do not know where the honorable senator got the idea that she was representing the women of Australia when she opposed the measure. It seems to me that, at most, she was expressing the view of only a fraction of the women of Australia. What will the establishment of the industry on an adequate basis mean to the womenfolk of Australia? Obviously, it must redound to their benefit because of the employment which it will provide for so many skilled workers. From that point of view alone I should imagine that tens of thousands of mothers will be only too pleased to welcome the implementation of the Government’s plans.

Senator O’Sullivan:

Senator Rankin did not oppose the expansion of the shipbuilding industry ; she opposed the operation of shipping lines by the Government.

Senator FINLAY:

– The honorable senator could speak for herself if she were here. The fact remains that generally speaking, she opposed any interference with the profits madeby private shipping companies. The obsolescent state of our merchant fleet demands that prompt action shall be taken by the Government to construct new vessels of modern design. The provision of a fleet of modern vessels is necessary, not only to serve the requirements, of interstate trade, but also to enable Australia to obtain its proper share of overseas trade. Further more, we must realize that we may be called upon to defend our country once more, and that the effort involved will make the greatest demand upon our naval and merchant shipping. For those reasons, I submit that Senator Rankin had no right whatever to claim that she was voicing the opinion of the women of Australia when she opposed this measure.

Senator Collings:

– The honorable senator flattered herself.

Senator FINLAY:

– She certainly did. The honorable senator also inquired whether the construction of additional vessels was necessary. Fancy the honorable senator, who claims to represent the women of Australia, asking such a question! For the benefit of the honorable senator, and any one else who does not realize the present acute shortage of shipping due to the destruction of vessels during the war, I propose to quote some statistics from the Britannica Book of the Year, 1946. That publication shows that each of the Allied powers lost at least 50 per cent. of its shipping tonnage. France, for instance, lost twothirds, whilst Russia is known to have sustained tremendous losses through the destruction of vessels during the German occupation and also through the aerial bombardment of Russian ports. Of 20,000,000 gross tons, with which the United Kingdom started the war, ships weighing 12,000,000 tons were sunk and only 7,000,000 tons was constructed as replacements. One thousand three hundred and sixty vesselswere lost because of enemy submarine action, 440 because of aircraft, 340 because of mines and 210 because of surface raiders. British naval losses were also colossal. The Royal Navy lost 730 vessels, the United States Navy 696, the Dominions navies 46 and the French 239, a total of 1,711 vessels. Those statistics do not include Russian naval losses. It is abundantly clear, therefore, that Australia is now dependent entirely upon its own resources and rightly so. We must provide not only naval craft, but also merchant vessels for interstate and overseas trade. Fortunately, Australia possesses all the natural resources for the development of the shipbuilding industry, including skilled labour. It behoves every Australian who has the interests of his country at heart, to throw all his weight belli nd the Government to establish the industry on a proper basis.

I pass now to Senator Rankin’s inquiry as to the source from which the industry is to be financed, and I point out that since 1941 Labour has made remarkable financial provision for the development of Australian resources. I suggest to the honorable senator that we would be able to finance the construction of all the vessels we require in the same way as an earlier administration financed the construction of the trans-continental railway. We have the money in the Commonwealth Bank with which to implement the Government’s financial policy to maintain full employment. It is interesting to review the recipients of interest payments in respect of the national debt, and I shall quote figures that have been supplied by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway). At the 30th June, 1948, the combined Commonwealth and State debts totalled about £2,930,000,000, of which £499,000,000 was payable, in London and £62,000,000 in New York. The colossal sum of £2,352,000,000 was payable in Australia. The annual interest liability on this debt as at June, 1948, was £86,500,000, of which £16,000,000 was paid in London, £2,500,000 in New York, and £67,500,000 in Australia. These figures show conclusively that in financing Australia’s participation in the world war recently concluded we were able, due to the foresight of this Government and its capable handling of our internal economy, to borrow within Australia no less than £2,352,000,000, and have been it bie to pay back to our own people 667,500,000. That money has been returned to the people’s pockets and doubtless much of it is now in the Commonwealth Bank. Furthermore, we have been able, to reduce our national interest debt overseas by over £16,000,000 and in addition have made donations totalling £35,000,000 to the United Kingdom. Despite that, Senator Rankin has asked from where we are likely to get the. money to build these ships. I have no doubt that the people of this country will respond to any call that the Government may make for finance to establish this important industry, just as they did when money was required to prosecute the war. As honorable senators know, this industry will be a vital factor in our defence, transport, and internal economy. One would think, listening to criticisms that have been made by honorable senators of the Opposition, that the finances of this country were in such a deplorable condition that it would be impossible for the Government to get money to proceed to build an Australian shipping line. However, the people of this country were never more prosperous than they are to-day. In a large measure that has been brought about by the very capable manner in which the internal economy of this country has been handled and administered by the Government since the termination of the recent war.

In November, 1948, the combined deposits in savings banks in this country amounted to about £688,515,000 or 381 per cent, mora than in 1939, when the total deposits were approximately £244,895,000. The average amount of deposits per head of population in 1948 was £S9 3s. 6d. compared with £35 3s. Sd. in 1939. The number of accounts increased during the same period by no less than 200,000. I consider, therefore, that the criticisms that have been made of this measure, and the doubts that have been expressed as to whether money will be available to further the proposed shipbuilding programme, have been effectively answered. One could be excused for believing, after hearing the criticism of honorable senators opposite, that the Government seeks to do something detrimental to the interests of those who desire to engage in shipping. The Government is not attempting to do anything of the kind, but will invite shipowners to agree to a standardized system of shipbuilding. It will ask the shipowners of this country to purchase their ships through the board that will be established when this bill becomes law, and the Government will assist private shipowners in every way possible to ensure that the ships bought by the shipping companies of this country shall not cost any more than if they were built in England. I consider, therefore, that the Government can justifiably look forward to the co-operation of all who are engaged in shipping to assist to develop this industry.

During this debate Senator Rankin and, I believe, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) contended that the proposed shipping line must fail financially, because the railways, aircraft, and everything else that the Government had tampered with in connexion with the development of this country had so failed. I do not believe that any government worthy of the name that has occupied the treasury bench in this Parliament in the past, ever really expected that any developmental work in the form of opening up country by providing transportation to it would pay. Governments must always be prepared to spend money in the development of the resources of this country, and whilst by this measure the Government proposes to enter into the field of transportation hy sea, as it did in the field of air transport, it must be remembered that the Government has promised to utilize the ships first in Australian ports. They will go to ports where the shipping companies have, in the past, refused to send their ships because it was not economically sound to do so. If we are sincere in our desire to encourage the people of this country to go outback, we must be prepared to provide facilities to transport their produce to the markets of the world. Because these ships will be sent to all sorts of out of the way ports to pick up rural produce, the shipping line will not be expected to make any profit. Indeed, we will be fortunate if it succeeds in encouraging people to go outback to develop the natural resources of this country. Although the Government has done much to fulfil promises that have been made to the Australian people, a lot still remains to be done. One of the objects of the Government in establishing this shipping line is to ensure that producers shall not be held up for shipping space, and also that we will be ready in time of war, or threatened war, to switch immediately to the building of vessels immesary for our defence. Knowing fully what is behind the Government’s mind in introducing this hill, I give it my wholehearted support.

Senator AMOUR:
New South Wales

– I shall not delay the Senate in the passage of this very important legislation, because I consider that it will provide economic security for the workers of this country. It is in line with the decisions that were reached at the conference at San Francisco on the 25th July, 1945, to establish the United Nations. At that conference the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) played a very important part by showing to those assembled that, following the conclusion of the recent war, affairs should be handled differently in the future, that the new order that had been advocated by the conservative elements of the world should be implemented, and that we should not turn back the clock to conditions that existed in the period following World War I., when armies of unemployed walked the streets in the various countries of the world. At that conference it was determined that the new order should provide for full employment. Australia was very early in the field, and on the 30th May, 1945, a White Paper entitled Full Employment in Australia was presented to this Parliament. That in itself was a very important matter, but much planning remained to be done. The Department of Post-war Reconstruction was established and it planned major capital works that could absorb any unemployed workers.

The United Nations set out to solve international problems of economic and social significance by promoting respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms and by requiring all nations to secure higher standards of living, full employment and conditions of economic and social progress and development. Australia has played no small part in international affairs, and because 56 countries subscribed to the United Nations Charter we should feel proud that Australia was represented by a man of the calibre of Dr. Evatt, who successfully pointed out to the leading citizens of the various countries of the world that it was essentia], in the cause of peace, that full employment should be maintained. Consequently, is it not natural that the Government should proceed to give effect to its undertaking to provide full employment? Projects of this kindwillenabletoMinisterforExter- nal Affairs to assure the United Nations organization that Australia is honouring t hat promise. The Government proposes toundertake a shipbuilding programme unprecedented in the history of this nation. Such a project spells economic security for many workers. Thousands of young men have already been trained as tradesmen under the Government’s postwar rehabilitation scheme. Many of them never had a job before they joined the armed forces, and had no opportunity to learn a trade. That scheme, which caters for ex-service women also, provides for the training of carpenters, bricklayers, plumbers, painters, electricians, tile layers, fitters, turners, engineers and all classes of tradesmen, and many men trained under it are now engaged in their respective callings. Indeed, many of the men now classified as fourth-year trainees hold positions as foremen on very big jobs. Australia has always produced intelligent workers. One would have to be blind to fail to realize that fact after inspecting such products of their labour and skill as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the naval dockyard in Sydney. The young Australians now being trained under the Commonwealth’s rehabilitation scheme are just as intelligent as their forefathers were, and they will be capable of implementing the Government’s reconstruction programmes. In addition, over 250,000 migrants, including many skilled tradesmen, have arrived in this country in recent years and are engaged not only in building homes but also in timber-getting and the manufacture of bricks, fibrocement, tiles, and all the requirements necessary for the building of homes. As time goes on more men will be trained in the various trades, and, no doubt, we shall arrive at a stage when the demand for homes will return to normal. If provision is not made now to meet that eventuality many thousands of tradesmen will be thrown out of employment. They can be assured of continued employment in industries like shipbuilding, which, incidentally, embraces practically all the basic trades with the exception of bricklaying. Therefore, projects of this kind will contribute greatly to the economic security of the workers. In addition, I repeat, they will enable the Minister for External Affairs to assure the United Nations organization that Australia is implementing its undertaking to provide full employment.

The conservative element will always oppose proposals of this kind. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) and his colleague SenatorRankin are of one mind with the tories who sat in the Senate during the depression years. AntiLabour governments in the past were negative administrations. They must have been fully informed of what was happening overseas and must have had full knowledge of the drift that was taking place in world affairs, but they just sat idly by and did nothing to safeguard this country against the depression. All they did was. to bring to Australia such representatives of big finance as Sir Otto Niemeyer, who told the Government of the day what it must do. Stanley Melbourne Bruce, who was Prime Minister at that time, thought he would go a little further and explain the position to the Australian people; but all he could tell them was that they would have to pull in their belts a couple of notches. That is all he could say in explanation of the failure of his Government to protect theinterests of the nation. That outlook is typical of the conservative mind. The Opposition parties do not want the Government to build ships in this country because such a programme will help to maintain full employment. Only a few days ago, Professor Hytten publicly expressed the view that rather than aim at full employment Australia should seek to have a “balanced” economy by maintaining a pool of 8 per cent. unemployed. That is the view of the Opposition parties. Although we had a huge army of unemployed in this country during the depression years they have not learnt what unemployment really means. It must he obvious that if a substantial section of the community is unable to purchase the goods manufactured by their fellow citizens the number of unemployed must increase. That is how the depression got out of hand. God knows what would have happened in the United States of America had President Roosevelt failed to implement his New Deal policy. He was confronted with a greater struggle against the conservative clement in his own country than the Labour party has had to face in this country. A majority of judges of the Supreme Court in the United States of America declared President Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation to be invalid. However, he took good advice and appointed additional judges with the result that ii majority of the court later upheld the validity of that legislation. Had he failed in that task, God only knows to what dimensions the army of unemployed throughout the world would have grown. The effect of President Roosevelt’s progressive legislation was felt throughout the world. To-day, however, the Opposition parties advocate a system under which there would always be an army of unemployed. The Government is opposed to such a policy, and this project will be one means of combating it.

Senator Rankin said that she spoke for the housewives of Australia. To me that was a significant statement. She expressed pity for the housewives who, she said, were obliged to stand in queues waiting to obtain goods which were in short supply. It is true that many people to-day are obliged to stand in queues to obtain certain commodities, but any housewife who does so now can at least be proud of the fact that she has money in her purse with which to purchase the goods she requires. I remind Senator Rankin that under anti-Labour administrations the housewives of this country saw their husbands humiliated when they were obliged to stand in queues at grocery and butcher shops in order to exchange dole tickets for goods. The present Government is determined that the workers and the housewives of Australia shall not again be humiliated in that way. It is not altogether a bad thing that certain goods and materials should be in short supply. One can be assured that under such conditions very few people will be obliged to look for employment. I hope that the day is not far distant when production, will ‘be sufficient to meet the community’s demands completely, but I hope also that production will never he so great as to cause unemployment. This proposal is part of a comprehensive programme to give security to the workers, and I am proud to be a supporter of the Government which has introduced this legislation. I wholeheartedly support the bill. 1 trust that it will soon be implemented and that plans will speedily be completed to build not only ships for the normal Australian and overseas trade but also vessels of the type of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary. We must aim to build the best vessels possible. The Australian worker possesses the necessary skill and ability to do so. As Senator Finlay said, the conservative mind always worries about where the money to finance such projects is to come from. That has always been the outlook of the Opposition parties; the time is never ripe to do anything. When I was an alderman in a metropolitan council for twelve years the tory members of that body always said that they were in favour of certain work, such as the repairing of roads being undertaken; but for them the time was never ripe for doing anything. Invariably they asked where the money to finance the work was to come from. As Senator Finlay pointed out, deposits in savings banks in this country are now at a record level. In recent years, Australia has been able to make gifts to Great Britain to the value of £35,000,000 whilst, at the same time, the Government has provided millions of pounds for social services. This Government has funds in reserve for the extension of essential services including the construction of post offices, telephone exchanges, hospitals and clinics. I have no doubt that it will be able to finance its shipbuilding programme. Every ship constructed under this scheme will represent a saving and a benefit to the people of this country, particularly our farmers and workers. When the worker sees the goods which he has helped to manufacture being shipped overseas he will be assured of continuity of employment.

Senator MURRAY:

. I have read the measure very carefully and analysed all its provisions. From my own practical knowledge of shipbuilding I am convinced that the introduction of the bill is timely. Its objects are set out in the preamble which reads -

Whereas the Parliament of the Commonwealth has power to make laws for peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -

  1. trade and commerce with other countries and among the States; and
  2. the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States :

And whereas the power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping:

And whereas it is desirable in the interests of the naval and military defence of the Commonwealth and of the several States to establish the shipping industry and the shipbuilding industry in the Commonwealth on an adequate scale and to maintain those industries in continuous operation :

Those are the cardinal points of this bill, and upon them I shall build my argument in support of the measure. To promote and sustain commerce, both overseas and interstate, it is necessary first to provide for the building, maintenance, and operation of an Australian mercantile navy. I do not mean only that the Government should build ships and operate them. We must develop in this country an Australian mercantile navy which will be the second line of defence to our fighting ships. One of the prime lessons of the two great wars has been that a fighting navy cannot be maintained without a strong and efficient mercantile marine. Once we have established such a mercantile marine in this country we shall have gone a long way towards securing the defence of our coastline. Finally, provision is made in the bill to co-ordinate control of the many ships which have been built by or are under charter to the Commonwealth Government. This will be done by establishing the Commonwealth shipping line. I use the term “ Commonwealth shipping line” in preference to that used in the Minister’s secondreading speech, “ Commonwealth line of steamers because steamers are becoming obsolete. Most modern vessels are propelled by diesel engines or by means other than steam, and I believe that the day is not far distant when ships will be driven by atomic power.

What are the factors that make this bill both desirable and urgent? Senator Rankin questioned whether the time was opportune for the establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line, but I believe that no time could be more oppor tune. Australia is a young country branching out into many fields of commerce. Some ships have already been built, and I earnestly hope that the project will be proceeded with at the earliest possible opportunity. I am pleased indeed to be associated with the proposals contained in this measure. What is the position of Australian shipping today? A perusal of the Australian and New Zealand Shipping Register shows that the merchant shipping available to this country at the outbreak of war in 1939, consisted of 225 vessels totalling 450,000 tons. That was totally inadequate. At least 82 of those ships, totalling 107,000 tons, or more than onethird of the fleet, were twenty years old. Their efficiency had deteriorated, much of their gear was worn out, and when they were pressed into service at that time of national emergency, they were found wanting. On the older ships, accommodation for both passengers and crew was deplorable. I have had practical experience of some of those vessels. I have sailed in a few of them. During the war, I was closely associated with Australian shipping in the transportation of men and materials overseas and I am confident that many vessels would not have been permitted to go to sea had there not been a dire need for them in the absence of other more modern ships. The fact that they reached their destinations was a striking tribute to the ability of the men who sailed them. Of the shipping available to the Commonwealth at the outbreak of war, 50 vessels totalling 102,000 tons were between sixteen and twenty years old. The average age of more than half of the fleet, therefore, was such that economic operation was not possible. Should we wait any longer to place our shipping on a sound basis? As I have said, I have considerable practical knowledge of the working of ships both at sea and alongside the wharfs. The company with which I was associated had some vessels which were more than 50 years old, and I was amazed that they were ever granted certificates of seaworthiness. I believe that there must have been some loophole in the Navigation Act which permitted their registration. However, they were able to do a useful job. The shortage of ships which was so acute during the war and La the immediate post-war years, still exists. 1 refer particularly to vessels of suitable types. I am a strong believer in having the right tool for the right job, and I consider that many of the ships now plying on the Australian coast are not suitable for the task. We have thirteen “ River “ class ships. No doubt many members of this chamber have seen some of them. They were built originally for overseas trade, but, because of the shortage of tonnage on the Australian coast, they are now engaged in the interstate trade. In my opinion, they are far too big for this work. Their cargo capacity is so large that at many ports there is insufficient storage space in the wharf sheds, with the result that loading and unloading is delayed considerably. The slow turn-round of these vessels is almost invariably blamed on the waterside workers, but in many instances the fault lies in the unsuitability of the vessels or the obsolete handling equipment that is available. I have heard of ships being delayed in port for two or three weeks, but investigations have revealed that the trouble was due, not to waterfront labour, but to the other factors that I have mentioned. Storage capacity on some wharfs has been so taxed by vessels discharging cargo in port that merchants have had to ask the shipping companies to cease unloading until the goods could be cleared and order restored. Two B class ships of 6,000 tons have been built by the Commonwealth. They are Barrigun and Balaar. Both have been sold to interstate shipping companies as replacements for lost vessels. Lt is not the intention of the Government to deprive Australian shipping interests of new vessels. The Commonwealth is prepared to sell its ships on certain terms. The purpose of this bill is not to prevent private companies from earning profits, but to set up a Commonwealth Government line of steamers, the movements of which can be controlled in the national interest. The Australian-owned vessels will be directed to operate on developmental routes. In this way new country will be opened up, and cargo space will be provided for bulk cargoes and other goods which the private shipping companies will not carry because they prefer to confine their attention to more profitable lines.

Then we have the D class vessels, such as Dubbo and Delamere, of 2,500 tons, which, in my opinion, are ideal for the Australian coastal trade. They are well-equipped and their gear is efficient. Their hatches are large and they are easily manoeuvred. Their carrying capacity is substantial, and their cargo can be handled economically with the shed space now available. Much has been said about Australian ports. Undoubtedly, there are many fine harbours. Sydney harbour, of course, is excellent, and Hobart, too, is outstanding, but, generally speaking, cargo accommodation on the wharfs is not nearly so good as it is at Yokohama and other Asiatic ports. The auxiliary handling gear at Hobart and at some other Australian ports is poor or nonexistent, with the result that a breakdown of a ship’s own equipment means substantial delay.

Another useful type of vessel now operating on the Australian coast is the E class ship of 560 tons, which is ideal for trading to smaller ports. I have been at the port of Strahan, in Tasmania, in an E class vessel, and I am convinced that those ships are excellent for trading on the north-west coast of that State, where the weather is frequently bad, and difficult harbour bars have to be crossed. I consider that in building up the proposed Commonwealth line, considerable attention should be given to the construction of vessels of this type. They are handy little ships and. could be of great assistance in opening up portions of the Commonwealth which are not at present served by railways. I have in mind, for instance, such places as Carnarvon and Port Headland on the north-west coast of Western Australia. As I have said, I am a great believer in having the right tool for the right job. In my opinion, much of Australia’s merchant shipping has not been of the right type, hut I do not blame the Australian Shipping Board for that. The hoard had to charter whatever ships it -could get, and it has done a good job. Vessels of the Inchmay type on the Hong Kong register and with Chinese crews have been doing excellent work,but there is an urgent need for the board to proceed with the construction of vessels more suitable for Australian conditions, so that eventually it. will not be necessary to operate ships under charter. Our aim should be to provide a properly balanced fleet to serve Australia’s requirements. Those ships must be built for their specific tasks. That is what I mean when I say that we must have the right tool for the right job. A watch cannot be mended with a crow bar and a 6,000-ton ship cannot be sent into a port which has facilities only for vessels of 1,500 or 1,700 tons. Port facilities, too, must he improved. Handling gear must be adequate to sort, stack and clear cargoes with the minimum of delay. Usually breakages are blamed on the waterside workers, but in many instances they are due to the restricted equipment available for handling cargoes. Wharf labourers are accused of pilfering cargoes on a gigantic scale. Sometimes it. is even alleged that heavy articles such as baths and machinery are being stolen, but obviously it is not possible for a waterside worker to carry a bath away in his pocket. Usually it is found that the goods which were believed stolen were left on the wharfs. I have been associated with shipping for twenty years, and I am convinced that it is not physically possible for waterside workers to carry out even one-third of the thefts that are attributed to them. I have spent a lifetime in this industry, and I know that comparatively little of the blame for shortages and destruction can be placed on the waterside workers. Undoubtedly, they get away with some of the goodsbut not, all of them.

Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.

Senator MURRAY:

– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had set out to demonstrate, by argument and logic, the necessity for the establishment of a Commonwealth line of steamers, for developing our own shipbuilding industry, and for forming a strong merchant navy which could, in time, become an adjunct to our fighting navy by providing armoured vessels under the proud banner of the Red Ensign. I set out also to demon strate the necessity for having a balanced merchant fleet. The 25 ships that have already been built in Australia are of four classes. One class of vessel has not been included in the programme of building envisaged by the Australian Shipping Board. I refer to tankers. The provision of a tanker fleet owned, controlled and manned by Australians is very important tous but, although we have talked about freighters of various types, there appears to be no provision for the building of tankers. Norwegian, British, Dutch and American tankers visit Australia from time to time. The Australian Shipping Board and the Government would be wise to make provision for the building in this country of particular types of ships for particular trades. We need tankers and also special types of colliers with special gear with which bulk cargoes can be handled more quickly than with ordinary derricks and winches. I have inspected ships that carry bulk cargoes, suchas limestone, cement, coal and grain, and the advantage of having bulk handling gear on such vessels is abundantly evident.

Australia has already made a commendable beginning in the shipbuilding industry. There are seaports around the fringe of this great island continent in which great numbers of ships are being built. I see no reason why Australia should not become the great shipbuilding nation of the Pacific and build ships for export to New Zealand, South Africa and Asia. There is a great demand for small ships in this part of the world. That demand is particularly evident in New Guinea and its surrounding islands. Small vessels are needed for coastal trading and for transport along the big inland streams, such as the Ply River and the Sepik. Special types of craft are needed for that sort of work, and those types of vessels were built very successfully during World War II. in Tasmania, Western Australia and New South Wales for army water transport units. They were very well designed, and missionaries and inter-island traders have since bought them. They are doing very good work. They are also in service on the Bass Strait run to the smaller ports on the north-west coast of Tasmania, suchas

Ulverstone, Burnie, Stanley and Smithton, and to outports in the southern parr, nf the island.

Great Britain became great because it was a maritime nation. Its ships traversed the seas of the world and the men who manned them proved to be the finest seamen in the world. To a lesser degree, Australia has established a good reputation for the ability, character and courage of its seamen. That reputation was confirmed time after time during World War I. and World War II. by the exploits of the Royal Australian Navy and the Mercantile Marine, which maintained essential communications between Australia and our various fighting units overseas. 1 see no reason why Australia should not have its Birkenhead, its NewcastleonTyne and its Belfast, and I look forward confidently to the time when, as the result of the encouragement provided by this bill, we shall build not only the ships that we need ourselves but also ships for service in other countries. We export many commodities and we should be able to build ships for export also. E have had considerable practical experience on ships. For most, of my working life I have worked for shipping companies and I know that Australian-built ships are of a standard equal to the best in the world. Furthermore, the accommodation provided for crews in Australian ships is far better than that provided on many overseas vessels that I have seen. We should set an example in the provision of amenities and comforts for crews so that our seamen will be satisfied with their jobs. The seaman has always been regarded as a footloose individual who transfers from ship to ship and never settles down, but Australian ships to-day provide conditions that should induce crews to take pride in them and in the work that they do. We should destroy the illusion that seamen do not deserve to be treated as considerately as we treat tradesmen. When one realizes the conditions under which seamen have had to work, there is little cause for wonder at their instability. Under the Navigation Act, ships operating in Australian waters must provide decent amenities and comforts for crews.

The bill provides for the building and handing over of certain classes of ships to Australian shipping companies. When they want ships, the companies will approach the Commonwealth, which will place the necessary orders with the Australian Shipping Board. Companies like Huddart Parker Limited, the Union Steamship Company Limited and the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company Limited will be able to buy ships in that way at prices approximating the costs of similar vessels in the United Kingdom. This will obviate a great deal of needless expenditure by the companies. They will not be obliged to send supervising engineers to Great Britain in order to supervise the construction of vessels that they wish to purchase. They will also save the cost of fuel and providoring between Great Britain and Australia and the cost of the wages and repatriation of crews which would have to be engaged to bring vessels from the United Kingdom to Australia. In fact, this bill provides not only for the establishment of a Commonwealth shipping line but also for the assistance of existing shipping companies. I have noticed that two ships, Ballarr and Barrigun, have already been sold by the Commonwealth to interstate operators. Barrigun has been bought by the Australasian United Steam Navigation Company Limited I have been aboard Barrigun, and I consider that it is one of the best of that type that has been built in Australia. Its gear is first class. It is not surprising that interstate companies were glad to buy it and its sister ship. They are an asset to the Australian coastal shipping services and no doubt they will be operated very efficiently by their present owners.

There has been a great deal of criticism in this debate of the former Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers. I shall not weary honorable senators by repeating a great deal of ancient history. However, shipping has been a hobby of mine. I have worked on many ships, I have collected photographs of hundreds of ships, and I am well acquainted with vessels of the old Commonwealth line such as Austral Lind, Austral Dale, Austral Fern. Austral Craig and Austral Mount, as well as Ferndale and Fordsdale, two magnificent ships that. were built in Australia. Those vessels gave valuable service to Australia and were built, at the order not of a Labour government, but of an anti-Labour government which was seised with the necessity for the development of an Australian line of ships under government control and direction to be used in the interests of the Australian people. We all know what happened to the five “ Bay “ steamers. In referring to them, I direct attention again to the importance of having a sound and efficient merchant navy. One of the most famous of the “ Bay “ steamers was Jervis Bay, which operated during World War II. as an armoured convoy cruiser. It was attacked on the 5th November, 1942, in the North Atlantic by a German pocket battleship when it was at the head of a convoy. It steamed towards the vastly superior enemy ship, under the command of Captain Fogarty Fegan, who signalled to the ships in convoy to disperse while Jervis Bay attacked the enemy. The crew of Jervis Bay sailed to their deaths, and their action brought the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross to their commander. Only 62 survivors were recovered from the vessel. Such men and such ships have proved the worth of the Australian merchant navy and have maintained the best traditions of the British navy and mercantile marine.

The enactment of this bill will do much to improve shipping services to ports that are now badly neglected. Other honorable senators have remarked already upon the need for the building of small ships for service in Bass Strait, along the north-west coast of Tasmania and along the north-west coast of Western Australia. We have two fertile islands in Bass Strait - Flinders Island and King Island. Both of those islands have been seriously isolated from mainland markets for their cattle and dairy products for many years, and that situation has caused considerable worry to the Tasmanian Government as well as to the islanders. The problem of communication became so acute years ago that the Tasmanian government of the day, a non-Labour government, was forced to engage in the shipping business on its own account and to establish a State line of ships. That action had to be taken in the interests of the residents of King Island and Flinders Island as well as those of Tasmanian exporters and importers. In 1922, theTasmanian Government brought from Holland Polta, a vessel of 1,679 tons, and also provided for trade with the two islands the two small ships, Tambar and Colloboi. Eventually those vessels went the way of the “ Bay “ ships, and Poolta came into the hands of the Union. Steamship Company. Tambar and Colloboi were bought by Holyman and Sons Proprietary Limited. which operated them for many years at considerable profit. The Tasmanian Government was forced to sell the vessels because of unfair competition. Whenever thi.’ ships of the State line were due to leave a port, a privately owned ship would bein readiness to leave at about the same time. The State line was forced out of business by unfair tactics and the ships’ eventually had to be sold. The present Government of Western Australia, being a Liberal Government, has not given away the State shipping line.

Senator Nash:

– And it will not do so.

Senator MURRAY:

– No. It would not remain in office for ten minutes if it tried to do so. It must provide an essential service to the north-western coast of Western Australia. Prior to World War II., the State owned two fine ships. One of them was sunk near Wyndham by Japanese dive bombers. Kalimna and two chartered vessels are now doing important work in opening up that vast territory from Geraldton to Port Hedland, Onslow, Broome, Wyndham and Yampi Sound, where Australian Iron and Steel Limited is mining large quantities of iron ore essential to the maintenance of our basic production of iron and steel. That anti-Labour Government is seised with, the necessity for conducting a State shipping line in order to open up a vast area of only partly developed country. After all, it is an economic truism that water is the cheapest form of transportation. From my own experience of these matters, I know that various private concerns such as Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited were compelled, because of the unsatisfactory service provided by the shipping combine, to establish their own shipping lines. Gibson’s flour mills in Tasmania found it necessary to establish its own shipping line to transport wheat from the mainland to their mills to grind it into flour because the freights charged by the shipping combines were absolutely exorbitant. What happened to that line? Immediately it commenced to function the interstate shipping group, which previously alleged that it could not find sufficient tonnage to transport the wheat to Tasmania, made available a number of vessels which entered into active competition with Gibson’s ships. The result was that after a year or two that line went the same way as the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers; in other words, it was forced out of business. Another example is supplied by the interstate shipping line founded by Captain James Patrick. Incidentally, some of the vessels operated by that line are still in service. The Patrick line did a great deal to improve the services for shippers. Its vessels called at ports which the established shipping lines would not visit and set themselves out to render real service to the business community. Freight rates were reduced substantially, and the line catered particularly for the transportation of goods, such a3 fruit and other perishables, which the associated companies would not handle. The Patrick ships picked up fruit at Port Cygnet, Port Huon and other small places and, as I have said, rendered real service to the community. However, as soon as that line was established and had demonstrated that it could operate profitably, the shipping combine entered into cut-throat competition with it. The result is that to-day the Patrick line has joined the associated companies and no independent steamship company operates on the Australian coast. Freight rates, passenger charges and service standards are identical with all the Australian shipping companies, and there is not the slightest semblance of competition between them. By contrast, I invite honorable senators to consider the position of civil aviation to-day. As the result of the entry into the field, on a proper competitive basis, of TransAustralia Airlines the standards of safety and comfort in passenger transportation and the efficient and cheapness of air freight haulage have been improved immeasurably. The success of TransAustralia Airlines in raising the standards of civil aviation in this country demonstrates clearly what can be achieved by the entry into the coastal shipping tradeof a government line.

I turn now to another aspect of sea transportation that has not been dealt with by members of the Opposition. I refer to the improvement of the lot of seamen. A great deal has been said by members of the Opposition about therecalcitrant attitude adopted by the Seamen’s Union and by other maritime organizations. In reply, I point out that the days of “ iron men in wooden ships “’ made familiar by Joseph Conrad, and the “ brutal mates and shanghaied crews “ of the days of which Jack London wrotehave disappeared. To-day, thanks to the struggles of their unions, seamen enjoy reasonable conditions. A great deal has been done to improve their lot by insisting that their quarters must be located aft instead of for’ard. No longer are they compelled to live in dirty stinking forecastles. No longer are seamen treated like pigs. To-day they are accommodated not forward but aft or amidships., where they have some chance of safety in the event of emergencies. Only a few years ago the crew of Kakariki were drowned like rats in a trap when their vessel came into collision with Carradule off the Gellibrand light. . Kakariki was struck a little aft of the forecastle, thc> ship went down and the men, who were quartered in the forecastle, were drowned.

Members of the Opposition haveclaimed that the establishment of a Commonwealth line of steamers is unnecessary, but when we have regard to the facts which confront any one who knowsanything about coastal shipping to-day it is difficult to imagine any more necessary project than the establishment of a government line. Furthermore, the importance of coastal shipping to Australia is heightened by the immense distances which separate the principal centres of Australia and by the delays and expense of rail transport of goods, due to the breaks of gauge. It must be evident toany one who has studied the problem of transportation in Australia that we need’ a bigger and better merchant navy. Extended reference was made by members of the Opposition to the industrial disputes which have occurred at sea and on the waterfront, and the Australian press, which appears to have developed a psychosis in this matter, invariably blames the seamen and waterside workers for every hold-up that occurs. Of course, it may be the fault of the workers on some occasions, but it cannot be their fault on every occasion. I have had some experience of industrial maritime disputes, and I know that the “snag” in these matters is not always presented by the maritime unions or their representatives. A good example of the unfair attitude adopted by the press in these matters was supplied by the dispute on the Greek steamer, Kotor, which occurred in a Tasmanian port some time ago. That vessel, incidentally, is over 40 years old. The press published pictures of the crew sitting down on the vessel doing nothing, with the caption, “ This is the way we get it “. I visited that vessel at the time of the dispute, and whilst it is true that the men were sitting down doing nothing, the newspapers omitted to mention that the reason that they were doing nothing was that the winches had broken down and no attempt had been made by the engineers to repair them. The crew could not be expected to climb down holds 40 feet deep and carry cargo on their backs up on to the decks of the vessel in order to unload it. The engineers did not even attempt to rig any emergency gear. If the marine superintendent of the company for which I formerly worked had been on the job the ship’s engineer would have been promptly sacked for failing to repair the winches. Of course, the explanation of the disinterestedness of the ship’s officers was that the vessel was under Commonwealth charter, their wages were paid, and it did not matter apparently how much time elapsed before they repaired the winches. That incident was merely another instance of the lack of cooperation between owners, management and crew to serve the interests of the people of Australia. I resent the unfair criticism of seamen and waterside workers made by members of the Opposition and by the press, because from my practical experience I know that there is a dignity in labour. I have been associated with men who preferred at any time to do an honest day’s work rather than “get their money easy “.

I notice that the bill ‘provides for the establishment of a board of five members. I am a great stickler for efficiency, and I admire the success of various governmental enterprises that are managed by boards. On those boards are men of first-class ability and experience. I have in mind particularly the board of Amalgamated “Wireless (Australasia) Limited and the Australian National Airlines Commission. Labour administrations have not hesitated to appoint outstandingly successful business men from private enterprise like Mr. A. W. Coles and Mr. L. J. Brain to conduct their undertakings. T have no doubt that the Government will adopt a similar policy when making its appointments to the proposed shipping board, but I emphasize that it is imperative that only men with practical experience be appointed. As marine superintendent, we must have some one who knows ships’ engines and ships’ engineers thoroughly. The stevedoring and passenger superintendent who is to be appointed must know his ships and his officers, and the catering superintendent must understand that complicated business thoroughly. In all other appointments to the control of the proposed line the Government must ensure that it obtains the services of men of practical experience and proven ability, because only in that way can it hope to build up an esprit de corps amongst the personnel of the line. A splendid example of the way in which that can be done is supplied by TransAustralia Airlines, to the efficiency of whose personnel I have already referred. Of course, the successful operation of other governmental enterprises, such as the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, negatives the suggestion that the Commonwealth cannot run a business enterprise efficiently.

Senator Nash:

– Trans-Australia Airlines was sabotaged.

Senator MURRAY:

– That may be, but T do not want the new shipping line to be sabotaged as the old one was. Whilst it is true that some governmental enterprises have not been successful, it should be remembered that the human element enters largely into these matters, and that the explanation of the failure of some of the governmental concerns was that those who were appointed to control them were not really concerned faithfully to carry out the duties for which they accepted the Commonwealth’s money.

Another feature of the bill which commends itself to me is the intention to train officers and cadets for the mercantile marine. The profession of the sea is an old and honoured one, and I commend the Government for its decision to assist in recruiting and training to a high standard young men who wish to go to sea. It is to be hoped that the young men who receive their training in the Commonwealth line will remember with gratitude the debt that they owe to that line, and when they receive the command of vessels will keep in mind the duty they owe to the line and to the Commonwealth of Australia. When we analyse the f actors which serve to establish an efficient shipping line we must realize that the Government’s proposal is a sound one, and that there is little room left in the Government’s plan for honest criticism. I consider that the criticism that has been levelled against this measure by honorable senators on the Opposition side of the chamber has been theoretical and political, rather than actual and practical. It is the usual type of criticism with which we are affronted from time to time when any measure of importance comes before the Senate. I have had considerable experience of shipping matters both in peace and during war-time; I have “ pushed the barrow “ and I have acted in. an executive capacity. In war-time I commanded my unit, which comprised all sorts of craft, and I saw service on Queen Elizabeth, Manunda, Kanimbla and Westralia, which vessels carried troops throughout the whole of the SouthWest Pacific area. I served also on Liberty ships, Star ships, Victory ships and the A.L.C.M’s, and consider that I am well equipped to debate a matter such as this. I have spent practically a lifetime in shipping circles, and am pleased to be associated with the Government in its desire to bring this shipping line into being. I have very much pleasure in commending this bill to the Senate, and trust that the time is not fardistant when we will see it as an actual and accomplished fact.


– To refresh the minds of” honorable senators on this measure, I refer to the second-reading speech of the Minister for Shipping and; Fuel (Senator Ashley), who introduced it. The Minister said that the objectives of the Government in introducing the bill were, first, to provide for the maintenance of the Australian mercantile marine ; secondly to provide f oi~ the maintenance of the shipbuilding industry in Australia; and thirdly to provide for the establishment of a Commonwealth line of steamers. At this stage I offer no objection to the first proposition. I do not think that any Australian who is conscious of the necessity for having an efficient mercantile marine could take any exception to that objective. I cordially commend the second proposition because I know that in Queensland” there are firms and companies that greatly assisted this country in its time of need. Great credit is due to them. I just heard some cheap snigger. It appears to be thought necessary when Government measures are introduced that cheap abuse should be thrown at honorable senators on this side of the chamber. Never at any time havemeasures been introduced by the Government that have not been considered seriously on their merits by honorable senators in Opposition. At all times I trust that that shall be the attitude of” the Opposition, regardless of party, rather than that these cheap suggestions, innuendoes and charges should be made.

Senator Cooke:

– Does the honorable senator admit that the measure has some merits ?


– I have timeand again said that the Labour Government has been responsible for putting on our statute-book many fine pieces of legislation and I trust that in the short period1 that is left of its life it may add to that record. The point I make, however, is that whenever a bill is introduced by the Government, we in Opposition consider it on its merits, and we have no reason whatever to defend our own sincerity and decency, or to challenge that of the honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber. “We are not suggesting that we are the only decent and Australia-minded members of this chamber, although that appears to be the claim made for themselves by Government senators. If that type of rabble-rousing is to be indulged in continually whenever a major measure comes before this chamber, the Opposition as a party will not be harmed. The Government will suffer. What is much more important is that the prestige and dignity of this chamber will be damaged. I am sorry that Senator Hendrickson has temporarily left the chamber, because when he spoke on this measure he said that I represented the people who, before World War II., conspired to destroy the British flag. I have not as yet heard of his being reprimanded by his leader or his colleagues, but if that sort of “ tripe “ is to be introduced into this chamber as argument in a debate, the sooner the Senate is abolished the better.

It is our common practice to agree with the Government whenever we believe that its propositions merit agreement. When we have disagreed we have tried to put forward the reasons for our disagreement, which has nothing whatever to do with my conception of their honesty, or Government senators’ conception of my honesty and decency. That is not in dispute. In this chamber honesty and decency should be taken for granted; otherwise none of us should be here. If I disagree - and I hope during the course of my few remarks to disagree very strongly - I trust that it is understood entirely that it is the proposition, regardless of the individual responsible for it, with which I disagree.

With the first two propositions suggested by the Minister, I am in entire agreement. His conception of how best they may be implemented may differ from mine, but I propose to confine my few remarks to the Minister’s third proposition. In the face of history and information available to all of us, I : ShoUld consider myself completely ignorant if I were to say that this is a good proposition for the Commonwealth. By all means let us have our mercantile marine, and let us preserve, develop and expand our shipbuilding industry, but in the name of common sense, do not let us have on our hands another horrible farce of futile governmental enterprise and control.- It is quite clear that there is no mandate at all for the Government to engage in this enterprise. Of course it can be said that there was no promise in the Government’s programme that it would not undertake to establish this shipping line. The only justification is that it did not promise that it would not establish such a line. There are lots of things which it did not promise, and I hope that it is not going to try to put them all into operation in the few short months of life left to it.

My reasons for opposing the Commonwealth conducting this shipping line are based on facts, and a long, sad history of government enterprise. Whenever the meddling deadly hand of government has attempted to intrude commercial enterprise it has inevitably been a sad and costly affair for the taxpayer, regardless of whether it has been a Labour or a nonLabour government. I refer particularly to the earlier government shipping line that we had. As was said earlier in this chamber, that line was commenced in 1916, and the ships were sold about 1928. During that period the line incurred a loss of about £6,000,000, although in the boom war years profits were made. Allowing for all that, the overall result was a loss to the Australian taxpayers of over £6,000,000. I emphasize that I am not attacking this measure from a party political line, because that shipping line was not run and conducted while a Labour government was in power. It was run under a non-Labour government. I shall attempt to prove to those who are prepared to listen, that it is impracticable, in the face of history and experience, for a government to run any enterprise successfully. If, as Senator Murray suggested, we could have this idealistic system it might be a different matter. When I was seventeen or eighteen years of age I thought that it was practicable, but in the light of experience I have found it does not work out that way. Itis a matter of the general incompetence of a government outside its own sphere. We know how bungling a government is even when it stays within its own sphere. My objection is to government control, or, as the honorable senators on. the Government side of the chamber are happy to refer to it, socialist enterprise.

Senator Large:

– Tell us something about socialism.


– The honorable senator who has just interjected is an example of socialism. Let us consider in the light of history whether any government enterprise has proved successful. It may be suggested that the State Insurance Office in Queensland is successful. I point out that only by virtue of certain protection that has been provided for that instrumentality has it been able to survive. But let us consider that poor dead forebear of this very line which the Government intends to resurrect. Altogether, we lost £6,250,000 including the loss on the sale of steamers which comprised the original Commonwealth shipping line. That was done during the regime of a non-Labour government. The sky is the limit under a Labour government. Irrespective of party politics, those who have recently returned from the Old Country are unanimous that the only virile and successful industry operating in Great Britain at present is the iron and steel industry. The reason is that that is the only major industry that has not yet had the clammy deadening hand of socialization placed on it. Senator Hendrickson contended that the success of the steel industry was due - God help us - to the fact that the coal mines had been nationalized. The figures that I shall cite can be confirmed by any honorable senator who cares to check them with the British High Commissioner, in the publications available. I shall quote from a few.

Coal has become of vital importance both in Australia and in England. In Australia the coal industry is under Government control through the Joint Coal Board. In Britain it has been nationalized. “ In 1944, the last complete year under private enterprise “, said Robert Foot, Chairman of the British Mining Association, “ the output of deep-mined sale able coal was 206,000,000 tons. In 1946, it was 180,000,000 tons although the number of men employed on the average throughout the year was approximately thesame, and there was far more mechanization in 1940”.

That was the result despite increased numbers and greater mechanization, but under socialization -

The figures for 1947 and 1948, with increasing employment and mechanization are: 1947 - 186,500,000 tons; 1948-196,700,000 tons.

That is an example of socialization. Mr. Shinwell, who was the first Minister to take charge of the coal mines in Great Britain after they had been nationalized, himself admitted it was a shocking catastrophe that men who knew nothing whatever about an industry should run it under socialization. Can we not learn from the past ? Who do we think we are, that we should believe we can succeed where everybody else has failed ? Socialization essentially encourages inefficiency, it has not the germ of efficiency in itself.

I shall not wearyhonorable senators with a recital of the long calendar of failures of State enterprises in the various States. In New South Wales, the Government failed when it took over joinerywork, lime works, timber yards and so forth. Victoria has a sad list of failures in industries which were socialized, whilst in Queensland substantial losses resulted from the Government’s purchase of cattle stations, butcher shops, fisheries and other industrial undertakings, all of which, with the exception of an hotel and coldstores at Hamilton, showed a loss of about £2,000,000. South Australia also has a long list of failures in socialized industries. Honorable senators opposite should be aware of this record, but, perhaps, such knowledge would not have any effect upon them. It is fit and proper that enterprises, such as railways for developmental purposes, post offices in outlying parts of the country, and many other services should be provided for the people, particularly when such services could not otherwise be supplied. But in a sphere in which efficient commercial companies are running enterprises and the Government has complete control over freights and charges, there is no reason, in the light of our experience, for the Government to place this additional burden upon the shoulders of the long-suffering taxpayers. I shall give the view of a man who was employed in the Commonwealth Public Service in various States for over 40 years. I refer to Mr. A. D. Corbett, who at one time was DeputyDirector of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland and later was Director of Civil Aviation. In a letter which he addressed to various public bodies in 1944, when the Government’s intention to nationalize airlines became apparent, he said -

Speaking as one with over 44-years’ experience as a civil servant, who for many years held executive positions in two great Commonwealth Departments, I say that political interference and control of the detail work of airline operations and management must inevitably lead to disaster arising from delays in decisions, lack of funds provided promptly at the right time, lack of knowledge, and permitting political expediency to override efficient management. Nothing can prevent political interference and disorganization in any industry owned by the Government in which untrained and inexperienced ministers assume the role of managing directors, and override the advice of trained executives.

That was a warning. Fortunately, so far as we are able to judge at this stage, there has been very little interference on the part of the Government in the management of Trans-Australia Airlines. I have no complaint to make about the service rendered by that organization; its officers are both efficient and courteous. But whether the organization is financially efficient can be judged only as time goes on, and we are enabled to discover how much public money has been sunk in that enterprise, and whether its operations have resulted in a loss or a profit. I do not suggest that such an organization should be out solely to make a profit; I shall be perfectly satisfied if it provides an efficient service and does not place any additional financial hurden upon the taxpayers, provided, at the same time, that it completes on a fair basis with private enterprise. Trans-Australia Airlines is not subject to taxation and other imposts which constitute a heavy drain upon the revenue of private airline operators. To that degree Trans-Australia Airlines enjoys an unfair advantage in competition with private companies. However, I have no complaint to make about the service it is now providing. As to its financial efficiency, I shall reserve judgment until we have had an opportunity to examine its operational accounts.

My main objection to the measure is not in respect of its provisions for the preservation of a mercantile marine or the establishment of a shipbuilding industry, but to those provisions which will enable the Government to intrude into the management of the proposed shipping line. I shall repeat the protests which the Opposition parties made last August, when they were obliged to rely upon press reports to discover that the Minister had written to a ship’s committee intimating that it was the Government’s intention to squander the taxpayers’ money upon the establishment of a new Commonwealth line of steamers. That was the first intimation given to the Parliament of the Government’s intention in this matter. Naturally, I have not been able to obtain the Minister’s original letter but, subject to the Minister’s correction, this is what he wrote to that ship’s committee on the 5th August last -

With regard to the sale of the two “ B “ class vessels, the Government, in arriving at its decision to sell these vessels, was actuated by the constitutional consideration . . .

L’ should like honorable senators to note these words particularly - . . that it is not possible for the Government to, itself, operate a shipping service on the coast and at the same time deny to the private shipping companies reasonable opportunities to procure the vessels they may need to keep their own fleets in operation.

If the Commonwealth is to set up its own line of steamers, therefore, it is necessary that the private companies- shall be allowed to purchase vessels themselves.

That was the first intimation which we, the people’s representatives in the Parliament, were given of the Government’s intentions. The letter continued -

In view of the Government’s intention to introduce legislation that in future only vessels constructed in Australia shall be used on the Australian coast, the only source of supply of vessels for the private companies is from Australian shipyards. With relatively few exceptions, the whole output of the yards up to date has been taken by vessels ordered by the Commonwealth. The sale of Barrigun and Balaar will, therefore, not in any way prejudice the Commonwealth line when it is sei up . . . the sale of the vessels to private companies will be of assistance in meeting any possible challenge which might be made to the Government’s proposals in regard to the setting up of the Commonwealth line.

Senator Ashley:

– That is frank.


– It is brutally frank; it takes away a lot of the sweetness of the remarks made by the Minister in his second-reading speech, when he said -

I should like, to assure members of the Opposition, in anticipation of their usual protests in regard to socialization, that there is no provision in the bill for the socialization of the shipping industry.

That sweet blandishment was given to honorable senators in November last, although in the preceding August the Minister, in the letter which I have just quoted, had stated that, the Government was not nationalizing the shipping industry because constitutionally it could not do so. I see no evidence of a change of heart on the part of the Government that would lead me to believe that if it had the power to nationalize the industry it would not attempt so, as it attempted to nationalize private airlines. It would have nationalized private airlines but for the prohibition pronounced by the High Court. The Minister, apparently having a little more legal knowledge by now, the Government having had so many reversals in the High Court, was able to say, “We cannot nationalize the shipping industry “. But, to-day, he comes into this chamber and says, “We do not intend to nationalize the shipping industry “. For how long the intention and the wish will be separated only time will tell. However, conditions will be different after the next general elections, and probably we shall not have an opportunity to be enlightened on that point. I again urge the Government to confine its activities to the proper and legitimate realms of government. I know that my .plea will fall on deaf ears but I urge it not to extend its tentacles into the affairs of private enterprise which it has ample power to control and thus ensure that justice and decency shall prevail. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has it within his power to do something immediately to improve shipping facilities in this country. He can do something to accelerate the turn-round of ships in Aus tralian ports. On each occasion, when my colleagues and I comment upon the slow turn-round of ships, honorable senators opposite become indignant and say, “ How dare you criticize the poor old wharfie ? “ Well, he has been criticized by the Prime Minister and by most sensible industrialists in this country. The Minister would do well to read the warning given only this month by Mr. W. H. Nuse of the Australian Workers Union, which is probably the greatest trade union in Australia and has done more for the worker than all of the other trade unions combined. Incidentally, it has achieved much for the worker in recent years by adhering to the principle of industrial arbitration and conciliation. Some honorable senators opposite are becoming indignant. They invariably go back to the early ‘eighties. They cannot get out of their minds the conditions which existed in the distant past. How shall we ever achieve progress in this country when Government supporters are always harking back to the time of the Boer War? I appeal to them to eject the bitterness from their hearts and to face the nation’s present problems as they should. Frequently my colleagues and I are asked, “What would you do if you were the Government ? “ As the party which I support is not in office, I do not know at this stage what I should do. I understand that there are 6,700 waterside workers at the port of Sydney. Although I have no doubt that there will always be some room for improvement, I am informed that conditions on the Sydney waterfront have been considerably improved in the last ten years. Hours of labour have been reduced, wages have been increased, and general amenities improved. One of the most unfortunate aspects of waterfront labour, of course, is that it is casual, and I shall touch upon that matter later in my speech. The fact remains however, that the waterside workers are to-day the highest paid casual employees in the Commonwealth. Regardless of what the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) has said in reply to questions in this chamber about the slow turnround of ships, it is a notorious fact that port delays are increasing. Work per man hour has dropped by 50 per cent, or more, according to some authorities. Undeniably, less cargo is being loaded or unloaded per man hour. The usual excuse is that cargo-handling facilities on the wharfs are antiquated; but they have not become antiquated in the last 24 hours or in the last few years. At Glebe Island there is a modern automatic conveyor capable of loading 50 tons of cargo an hour. It has in fact reached that rate, but since 1934 loading speed has declined. In 1946 it was only 21 tons per hour. The figures for 1947 and 1948 are not yet available, but the shipping companies believe that there has been no improvement. As I have said, during the past ten years waterside workers have enjoyed the advantages of better pay, a shorter working day, bigger gangs and more holidays. I do not begrudge them those improvements, but there should be a quid pro quo. I do not have to meet the increased costs of handling cargoes. They have to be met eventually by the unfortunate public. The shipping companies do not have to meet them. All the additional charges are passed on in the form of higher freights which ultimately are reflected in a higher cost of living. Shippers say that to-day 40 or 50 per cent, less work is being done on the wharfs than in i938. A gang which discharged 25 tons of general cargo an hour in 1939, now discharges only 15 tons an hour, and a gang which handled 35 to 40 tons of sugar an hour in 1939, handles only from 18 to 20 tons an hour to-day. That naturally means extended loading and unloading times, and therefore more days in port. Harbour dues vary from £500 to £2,000 a day according to the size of a ship. A vessel which in 1938 discharged and loaded in Australian ports in 42 days, now spends 90 days. Simple arithmetic shows that that means at least an additional £24,000 in harbour dues alone. The result, of course, is an increase of shipping freights and, as I pointed out earlier, a consequent increase of the cost of living generally. “What is the remedy? These are matters to which I suggest the Minister should direct his attention instead of undertaking the duties of admiral of a fleet. They are matters essentially within the jurisdiction of his department. I do not know the extent of the mess in which the Department finds itself to-day, and therefore I cannot suggest a comprehensive remedy, but I can make a few suggestions. One is that heed should be paid to the advice given some time ago by the general president of the Australian Workers Union, Mr. Nicol, that the Communists should be expelled from the trade unions. Mr. Nicol has challenged the Communists to point to one strike that they have organized in the interests of industrial reform. He says, quite truly, that all the Communist strikes have been, and still are, exclusively political. They do not strike against the boss. On the contrary, they are notorious as scabs and strike .breakers. That is one action that could be taken - rid the trade unions of the Communists. In the meantime, decent unionists should be assured of the protection of the law. We read in the newspaper last week of a promise by the Government to protect workers who were following their lawful occupations. Is it not a grave indictment of any Government that it should feel obliged to promise honest workers following their lawful avocations that they will be protected against this lawless mob that is trying to disrupt not only trade unionism but, more important still, our constitutional form of government and our way of life? Honorable senators opposite sit back in idle complacency. Here is one man, the general president of the Australian Workers Union, who says that there is no need for direct action. He claims that the unions have accomplished more under the tribunals set up by the State and the Commonwealth for the settlement of disputes than the Communists have ever accomplished by direct action. The lawful gains of the unions have been made” without loss to themselves, and with satisfaction to the Australian people.

I happen to know some waterside workers in Brisbane. I do not claim to know them all, but at least I am able to obtain a reasonable cross section of their opinion. The majority of them are honest, hard-working fellows, but they are being bullied and badgered by a communistic minority. They receive no protection from the law.

Senator Large:

– How does the honorable senator know that?


– Because of the futile strikes that occur from time to time, and the frequent bashings on the waterfront. As I have said on previous occasions, the Government could protect trade unionists by insisting upon secret ballots on important matters under the aegis of the Registrar of the Arbitration Court. That would eliminate the present system under which it is merely a matter of saying, “All the scabs on this side, and all the ‘ dinkum blokes ‘ on the other side “. That is a tragedy. Compulsory secret ballots would defeat the efforts of these beasts who are out to destroy the trade union movement.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the hill.


– I am merely pointing out that, instead of aspiring to the rank of admiralofthefleet, the Minister should have more regard for the men on the waterfront. He should ensure the protection of decent workers. That would considerably accelerate the turn-round of ships at Australian ports. Instead of toying with the devious schemes indicated in the bill, the Government should endeavour to eliminate, so far as possible, the casual nature of waterside employment. Fear of insecurity is always associated with casual work, and fear leads to unrest. That is one phase of the waterfront problem to which I urge the Government to devote more attention. Its solution would do much to restore harmony and honest work to the waterfront, and would be far more effective than the Commonwealth attempting to run another line of ships.

I trust that the suggestions which have been made will receive the earnest consideration of the Government. Unfortunately, our experience indicates that they will not. Ever since it has been in office, this power-drunk Administration has refused to listen to suggestions from this side of the chamber. In fact, any attempt to offer suggestions usually results in offensive attacks by Govern ment members. One is reminded of governments in certain other countries. All honorable senators have certain responsibilities in this chamber. We cannot stop the Government from being contemptuous, and we cannot make its spokesmen courteous, but God forbid that we should ever feel obliged to remain silent.

Senator ARNOLD:
New South Wales

.- The bill before the chamber deals with shipping, but the extraordinary speech that we have just heard from Senator O’Sullivan dealt mainly with other subjects. Rarely did he mention shipping. I must confess that I was somewhat impressed by the honorable senator’s earlier remarks, in which he complained that some members of this chamber were inclined occasionally to play the game rather roughly, and to be somewhat offensive. I thought that perhaps the honorable senator was a little tender and hated hearing harsh words uttered against him. I felt inclined to point out that men who came into this chamber were not namby-pambies, that they were leaders in their particular spheres of activity, vigorous men, and that although at times they might advance arguments with some force, the honorable senators should be prepared to “ take it “. However, when the honorable senator wound up that portion of his speech by suggesting that although the Government did not say straight out that it intended to nationalize the shipping industry, certain things would be done dishonestly and surreptitiously, my sympathy very soon vanished. I shall not refer further to the honorable senator’s speech other than to say that I regret that his contribution to this debate was not worthy of deep thought by members of the Government. “Unfortunately the honorable senator was so obsessed by communism, socialism, and other “isms’” that he could not direct his mind to the matter which is the subject of the bill. He merely clouded the issue, and distorted the Government’s purpose in introducing this measure. As such his speech was of little value. The honorable senator has advanced a plea for more consideration by the Government of suggestions advanced by Opposition speakers. If he genuinely seeks that co-operation, he should endeavour to make more constructive contributions to a debate, and to advance ideas that are worthy of consideration. The honorable senator destroyed his own case by confining his speech on this measure to matters that had little to do with the proposal now before the Senate. If he wants the Government to accept his advice and the Opposition to take its proper place in this Parliament, he should try to make thoughtful and useful contributions to our discussions.

This is a very important measure. It touches vitally upon our security as an island nation. We have learned by hitter experience over the last ten years that Australia is many thousands of miles away from the British Isles and those people who over the years have watched over us and upon whose strength we have been able to rely. We have been made to realize, by painful experience, that Australia is now a nation on its own and must be prepared to resist any thrusts made upon it by the hundreds of millions of people who dwell not far from its shores. Therefore, any subject as important as this bill merits the most careful consideration. My thoughts are drawn back to the period before World War II. when our merchant fleet consisted of slightly more than 200 ships. Over half of that number were at least fifteen years old and many were much older even than that. Most of them were decrepit craft that crept around our coastline, continually being repaired. The accommodation provided for crews was obsolete, and their lifting gear was virtually useless. When war broke out they proved to be useless in convoy.

Senator HARRIS:

– That is what private enterprise achieves !

Senator ARNOLD:

– I do not want to be led into a discussion of the demerits of private enterprise as opposed to socialism at this juncture, although I am prepared to debate the subject at the appropriate time. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) declared that no project had succeeded under socialism. As an outstanding instance of the inaccuracy of his assertion, I refer to the State brick works of New South Wales. A Labour government undertook that scheme in order to bring down the cost of bricks, but, when an anti-Labour government came into power, it sold the brickyards to the brick combine. Within a few brief months of that unfortunate transaction, the price of bricks in New South Wales had increased extraordinarily. Anybody who has studied the history of socialistic experiments in Australia knows that that experiment was a great success. As I was saying when I diverged from the thread of my speech, the old ships in service in Australian waters at the outbreak of World War II. constituted an impediment to our transport system. Because of their low speeds, other vessels in convoy with them had to reduce speed so much that they became “ sitting ducks “ for Japanese submarines. Many Australian ships were discarded from convoys because they were useless. By contrast, the Japanese merchant navy was highly efficient. Most Japanese ships had a speed of eighteen knots and were able to render great aid to the Japanese effort immediately war broke out. Our merchant navy was futile.

For many years before the war we were troubled with frequent strikes of seamen. Hold-ups occurred in every port in Australia because of the terrible conditions under which seamen were expected to work. Old ships provided accommodation for crews which ordinary men would not tolerate. The owners wanted Australians to man such vessels and the result was that delays occurred because men fought for better conditions. Every honorable senator should be glad to look forward to the complete elimination of such conditions and the establishment of a really satisfactory state of affairs. An experiment of a socialist nature was undertaken at Walsh Island, where ships were built for the Australian trade. They were good ships. Men were trained for highly skilled technical work, and some of the ships which they helped to build are operating around the Australian coast to-day. That project showed that, given the proper opportunity and encouragement, Australian workers could build ships in which Australian seamen could carry Australian produce around Australian shores.

The Australian Shipping Board was established in 1941, as the result of dire necessity, for the development of a shipbuilding and repairing industry in Australia. With the full urge of the Labour Government behind the scheme, major shipyards were established in the four largest States of the Commonwealth as well as small shipyards in every State. Those great shipyards are still in exis-tence and are doing great work. Hu ring the war we suffered from the lack of trained men for shipbuilding and we were forced by sheer necessity to employ most of the available men upon the repairing of ships that were damaged in the Pacific war theatre. Ships constantly limped into the harbours of Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle and Melbourne, torn by bombs and torpedoes, and they had to be repaired expeditiously. Therefore, men were directed to ship repair work as fast as they could be trained. The floating dock at Newcastle, the only one in Australia, was constantly in use during the war. I doubt whether it was idle for more than a few hours at a time. Ships were constantly arriving to be repaired there, and remarkable jobs were performed upon them. I have a. vivid recollection of a United States cruiser entering Sydney Harbour, with the whole of its bow shot away. It appeared to be in a sinking condition, but it was docked, provided with a new bow and returned to war service. After we had developed efficient repair facilities, we were able to build up the shipbuilding industry by slow degrees so that, before hostilities ceased, we were able to produce ships of war. I saw a destroyer launched at Newcastle. That vessel, built at the State dockyard, was a credit to the Australian workmen who built it, and it was completed in time to participate in operations in war zones. The same excellent standard has been maintained in this yard in the many ships it has since built. Similar developments occurred in other ports in Australia. We built many ships that were needed to maintain our coastal transport services and so sustain our war effort. Between 1941 and 1948, ships totalling over 200,000 tons dead weight were built in Australia. They included vessels of all types. Thirteen magnificent vessels of 9,000 tons, of the “ River “ class, were produced. Those ships are beautiful to see and are a credit to Australia. Other vessels built in Australian yards ranged from 6,000 tons down to 700 tons. We are also capable, of building vessels of 12,500 tons. Last year I had the pleasure of visiting the magnificent town of Whyalla in South Australia to witness the launching of a vessel of that size. The ship is in commission to-day and is rendering valuable service in Australian waters. A second ship of the same dimensions is now being constructed, and it will be followed by a third and a fourth. At the same time, ships of about 6,000 tons are being built at Whyalla.

While I speak of the town, I must pay tribute to some of the men who have done great things for the Australian people in the field of shipbuilding. I am reminded of Mr. Essington Lewis, a man of outstanding courage and vision, whose energy led to the carving out of a great industrial town from barren desert land in the Spencer’s Gulf region. He foresaw the time when, in that locality, a mighty steelworks and shiipbuilding yards would exist where a few cattle then roamed. We should be deeply grateful to a man of such vision. I also pay tribute to the Chairman of the Australian Shipping Board, Mr. McAlpine, who was a member of the board for many years prior to his elevation to his present position. He brought to his task as a member of the board a wealth of experience, a great deal of skill, and a tremendous amount of energy. He has devoted his activities to the interests of the Australian people, and he well merits our gratitude for what be has achieved. I could tell of the great efforts that have been made on behalf of Australia by other citizens in the various States. In Queensland, for instance, two firms have done a great deal to advance the shipbuilding industry. The firm of Walkers Limited, at Maryborough, has built numbers of ships of 700 tons and has equipped them with diesel engines of a type that it has developed by its own initiative. Those craft are in service around the Australian coast to-day and have proved themselves to be very useful. Little is heard of the activities of that firm, but it has done a great job for the nation. I am also reminded of the firm of Evans Deakin and Company Limited at Brisbane, which has built magnificent ships. I am proud to tell the .Senate that a representative of Llyods, the authorities on shipping, publicly stated that ships built by Evans Dickens and Company Limited were the finest ships constructed in the world. That was no mean tribute. We need have no worries about the efficiency of Australian shipbuilders.

Senator Murray said that Australians had not attempted to build certain types of ships, such as tankers. That is true. The demand for ordinary freighters has been so great that our shipyards have not yet had the opportunity to attempt to construct such vessels. However, the Australian Shipping Board and the Australian people are capable of building any type of ship of any size, and I am sure that, with the continued interest of this Government, Australian builders will soon be constructing ships of the types mentioned by Senator Murray. The problem that we have to solve is not that of building ships, but that of building ships economically. That is a very difficult problem. However, I point out that, although Australian firms cannot build ships as economically as British shipyards can, they are at least able to produce vessels more cheaply than can builders in the United States, despite all the magnificent resources of that country. In the light of that fact, it appears that we have not far to go before we overcome the difficulty of high costs. When we aspire to compete with British shipyards we must realize that we have to compete with shipbuilders, both employers and employees, who have been engaged in the industry for generations. They know all the short-cuts. Then we must bear in mind the tremendous advantage conferred on British shipbuilders by the huge tonnage of ships which they construct. Because of the large number of British shipyards and the tremendous aggregate tonnage of shipping constructed in each yard, it is possible for individual shipyards to specialize in the construction of vessels of particular types and tonnage. An individual shipbuilder knows, for instance, that once he has designed and manufactured a particular plate he can fabricate ten more at the same time because they will be used in further orders for ships of similar tonnage and design. So it is with the fittings and equipment, which are standardized in vessels of certain types and tonnage. That cannot happen in Australia, at least for many years to come. Every vessel constructed in this country at the present time is a “ custom-built “ ship ; each vessel is a new design. The effect of that situation s that patterns have to be made for every part of each ship constructed, and endless time and trouble taken. Obviously the Australian shipbuilding industry will require some years before it can hope to attain “ straight “ production on anything like the British scale. Of course, the Minister realizes that very clearly, and he has emphasized that for that reason the number of designs of Australian vessels must be restricted to a minimum. Whilst the Government agrees that it is necessary to have varying designs for vessels engaged in different classes of trade, as far as possible design, fittings and equipment must be standardized. Foi that reason the Minister has wisely said to the ship owners, “ You will not be able to build any type of vessel you like; you will not be permitted to incorporate ;.ll your individual whims and fancies “. Allowance will be made for ships required for special purposes but, as I have pointed out, ship-owners, generally speaking, will be required to conform to standard designs in order that the Australian shipbuilders may be able to construct vessels at costs competitive with those of shipyards overseas. Another fact which .must be borne in mind is that in Great Britain many of the components of vessels are fabricated outside the shipyards. Foundries and steel manufacturers specialize in the manufacture for shipyards of such items as ventilators, pumps, valves and davits. The shipyards are not concerned with the manufacture of any of those items, so that, in effect, many of them are simply assembly ways. By rationalization of that kind costs are substantially reduced. We hope that the Australian ship-building industry will attain that happy position in year3 to come, but to give the industry proper encouragement it is necessary to guarantee the shipyards continuity of work. That is why the bill provides that every ship engaged on the Australian coast must be an Australian ship, and that after its useful life has ended it must be replaced by another vessel. In that way it is hoped to encourage and enable our shipbuilders to reduce costs. In addition to the prefabrication of various parts English shipbuilders enjoy special advantages from the engineering industry in Great Britain, which manufactures ships’ engines. English shipbuilders are able to obtain the most modern power units for their vessels. Fortunately, the former Department of Munitions was able to overcome one of the major obstacles which has confronted the Australian shipbuilding industry and Government enterprise now manufactures modern Doxford diesel engines. I hope that in the next couple of years at least six of our 6,000 ton ships will be powered by those engines.

Reference was made by Senator Murray to the Government’s intention to train officers and men to man our ships efficiently. I thing that the need to do so is obvious, and I do not propose to emphasize it. However, apart from the training of officers and men, I stress the need to train technicians. We must develop in Australia technicians possessed of the special skill required for the construction and operation of modern marine engines and engineering equipment. For that purpose the Government has wisely decided to send men to England to acquire experience. It has instituted scholarships to enable young men who possess special qualifications to be sent to the University of Edinburgh for training in naval architecture, marine engineering ‘ and other important aspects of shipping design and operation. Although little is known or said of the Government’s activity in that direction, its achievements are highly commendable. We must be able not only to put ships together but we must also possess people who can design ships and ships’ engines to compete with those produced in any other part of the world. For that reason, apart from any other, I welcome the introduction of this measure.

I do not desire to delay the passage of this measure, and I shall conclude by commending the Government for its wisdom in planning so as to prevent in an emergency a recurrence of the shocking maritime difficulties which confronted Australia in the last two wars. The Government’s purpose in establishing a shipping line, is to ensure that our mercantile marine shall not grow old and obsolescent, and that our shipyards shall be capable of supplying our requirements in peace as well as in war. In assisting to achieve that objective by passing this measure I believe that we are doing a magnificent job for the Australian people. I commend the bill.


– The experiences of members of this chamber are many and varied. At times we have to consider measures which are highly contentious, and at such times supporters of the Government naturally expect a good deal of conscientious opposition. However, this measure, in my opinion, might well be treated on a nonparty basis. What does the bill propose? First of all, let me ask another question : why are we here in this chamber ? Why, every three years, are the people of Australia asked to vote at an election to select members of the House of Representatives, and, of the Senate? The answer is simple. In this National Parliament we meet to consider the wisdom of doing things which the Government of the day believes to be necessary in the interests of all the people of Australia. Why should we not build ships? If, on division, it were decided that we should not build ships - and I do not anticipate for a moment that the division would result in such a decision - I should like to know what reasons could be advanced why Australia should not build ships. Let us look for a moment at the measure itself, which sets out very definitely what is proposed. The preamble states -

Whereas the Parliament of the Commonwealth hag power to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -

trade and commerce with other countries and among the States; and

the naval and military defence of the

Commonwealth and of the several States:

And whereas the power of the Parliament to make laws with respect to trade and commerce extends to navigation and shipping:

And whereat it is desirable in the interests of the naval and military defence of the Com monwealth and of the several States to establish the shipping industry and the shipbuilding industry in the Commonwealth on an adequate scale and to maintain those industries in continuous operation:

Bc it therefore enacted ….

That seems to me a fairly simple proposition. “Why any body should oppose it, or why we should be told during the course of this debate that women oppose it, is difficult to understand. I believe that if the people of Australia were told honestly why we need shipping, for the defence of the Commonwealth, what it will mean in the improvement of transport, and in all the other spheres referred to by previous speakers in the debate, no reasonable opposition could be raised to the measure. Of course, if members of the Opposition in this chamber are going to adopt the attitude that this Labour Government can do no good there would be an end to our present form of democratic constitutional government. But no one has suggested that the Government is incapable of doing any good; in fact, we were told to-night by members of the Opposition that it is all right to have railways owned and controlled by the Government. I remember the days in Queensland when those who believed in private enterprise running the railways were violently opposed to government-owned railways, and they were very vocal and difficult to handle. However, the stage has now been reached when most of us accept the idea that the Government is entitled to do some things, if not all. Usually we find that’ in the opinion of the critics of Labour, the Government is entitled to do those things which involve huge organization, incur the expenditure of tremendous amounts of money, and render great service to the community, but do not return great profits. That is the kind of enterprise which the Government is considered capable of undertaking. However, those enterprises which yield a maximum of profit and furnish a minimum of service to the community, which has to pay for them, should not, in the opinion of our critics, be taken away from private enterprise. Shakespeare said -

The thief doth fear each bush an officer.

To that I may add, “ The timid are ever fearful of change “. That probably explains some of the opposition to this measure. By establishing this shipbuilding industry, as we intend, we shall be doing something which in every seafaring country has always resulted in extensive benefit to that country. In the mere getting of men together and training them as craftsmen for the shipbuilding industry, many of the details of which Senator Arnold has already furnished, we shall confer on Australia a big national benefit, because we shall build up within the nation men who love the sea, and who love building ships and all that goes with them. Reference has been made to the capacity of tha Australian workmen. As Senator Arnold has said, men have to be trained. They have to have a love of the work and a belief in the dignity of labour. They have to be prepared to learn tha job and to do it with some pride. I remind honorable senators that some very fine jobs have been carried out in Australia. Australian workmen built the Sydney Harbour Bridge. On the completion of that work a banquet was given by the directors of Dorman Long & Co. Ltd., who were the contractors. On that occasion the manager said that although his company had built most of the important bridges in all parts of the world, he had found that Australian workmen were at least equal to those in any other part of the world where he had had experience.

I recall that some years ago when we in Queensland were actively engaged in the search for oil in that State, two brothers named Evans were brought out from the United States of America to take charge of the drilling operations. After the work was finished one of them married an Australian girl and remained in this country. Although such drilling operations had not previously been performed in Queensland, at a gathering which I attended on the conclusion of the job, a special tribute was paid to the Australian workmen who had been engaged on it. One of the Evans brothers said “Gentlemen, I have found that in spite of the fact that none of the men employed by us had had previous exexperience of drilling, we have found them, equal to men in other countries who have been bred and horn- to the work”. Obviously, therefore, we have nothing to fear so far as the workmen are concerned.

What else do we want? All wealth is created by human labour applied to raw material. We have raw material in this country and I am assuming that we have the human labour. Doubtless some will say “ You want money “. Do not let us be under any illusion about that. The money that it will cost to build a ship will be paid in Australian currency. Of what value is that currency except that it is a token of service rendered, entitling the men holding it to obtain the equivalent in food, clothing, shelter and other things they require? If we buy the ships abroad we shall have the ships, but the men in the country from which we buy them will have the employment and the money. If we build the ships we shall have the ships and the money also. So there should be no argument about that. Money, as I have already said, is only a token of service rendered, entitling us to an exchange.

The timidity with which some people approach this matter fairly astounds me. Earlier to-day Senator Lamp referred to the time when he was abroad as a member of a delegation to an international labour conference at Seattle, which dealt with matters relating to the maritime industry. In 1946 I had the pleasure of representing the Government at a similar conference at Montreal. I was the leader of the Australian delegation, and learned a great deal at that conference. At the conclusion of the proceedings I had the opportunity to visit other countries, as the members of the Empire Parliamentary Delegation recently had. I thereupon visited England, and whilst in London went to No. 10 Downing-street, by appointment, and had a very interesting talk with the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee. I was privileged on that occasion to be at the opening of the United Kingdom Parliament, and I commend very seriously to the attention of His Majesty’s Opposition in this chamber the incident that I am about to relate. I sat nearer to His Majesty the King, who opened the Parliament, than I am to you, Mr. Deputy President. I heard the King say, amongst other things, when he announced the policy of his Government, “My advisers will bring down legislation, having for its objective the nationalization of all the means of transport on land, on sea and in the air “. To me, the King did not appear to be at all nervous about it, nor did his hand shake as he held the document. He did not appear to be in any hurry to leave the chamber through fear that he had done something terrible, and not in the interests of the United Kingdom. In a quiet and calm voice he told the people of Great Britain that because of the verdict they had given by returning a Labour government, his advisers would nationalize all forms of transport. So why all this timidity?

I remind honorable senators that the coal industry in Great Britain was recently nationalized. At times there was, of course, natural opposition in the House as a result of the conservative mind, but all parties admitted that only the Government could safely handle such a matter. That was because the mines were in such bad condition in many instances that new machinery, plant, and methods were required in order that the miners would have decent working conditions, and so that the coal would be won economically. A little later the same government proposed to nationalize the steel industry. Although I am not aware how far they have proceeded with that proposition, I know that immediately there was a complete change of front on the part of the Opposition. The great captains of industry involved in the manufacture of steel said “No, this is something that we can handle better than the Government “. Of course they thought so, because there was a good deal more to be made out of that commodity by private enterprise.

During this debate mention has been made of Ellen Wilkinson’s book, The Town That Was Murdered. I have obtained that book from the library and shall read for the information of honorable senators some of the very eloquent comments that appear relating to the shipbuilding industry as it was carried on at Jarrow. I remind honorable” senators that Ellen Wilkinson was ‘ a member of the Cabinet of the United Kingdom Government. She said -

For us in Britain shipbuilding is a vital industry. We are dependent for the greater part of our foodstuffs on our merchant shipping. Much of our industrial propertyis based on raw materials brought from overseas. If, for any reason, the safe passage of these ships were interrupted, England would be in a desperate plight.

Another passage that is very significant reads -

On February 28, 1930, the first public statement was made regarding National Shipbuilders’ Security, Ltd. Its purpose was defined as being to assist the shipbuilding industry by the purchase of redundant or obsolete yards …

This venture was controlled by private enterprise -

To ensure that the productive capacity of the industry was definitely reduced the shipbuilding equipment was to be scrapped and the site of the yard was to be restricted against further use for shipbuilding.

Again, after the company had done its foul work and sabotaged the shipbuilding industry in Jarrow, in a subsequent chapter this passage appears -

The last recorded percentage of unemployment in Jarrow was in September, 1935 . . . 72.9 per cent. As from June, 1936, the Ministry of Labour decided to amalgamate the Jarrow and Hebburn Labour Exchanges.

Although the full story is most interesting, I am only making limited quotations. In the same chapter this appears -

Jarrow’s problem is not confined to the older men, however, for one quarter of the unemployed men are between twenty-five and thirty-four. They cannot be classed as too old or unadaptable. Nor can the 350 young men between eighteen and twenty-four. Theyare fit for, and ready for, any kind of a job

But they have not got the job because private enterprise sabotaged the shipbuilding industry. Is it contended for one moment that we should take these risks, that we should leave ourselves open here to a lack of ships when we know what that means not only in time of war but also in peace-time? Is it argued that we have no right to build up this great industry? Senator Arnold and other honorable senators have given figures showing the number of ships under construction at present. The Leader of the Opposition, who is a Queenslander like myself, knows of the wonderful work which Walkers Limited at Maryborough, and Evans Deakin Limited at Brisbane, are doing in this industry. Is it contended for one moment that, this great country of Australia, with its vast areas and its coastline of over 12,000 miles, should be left vulnerable any longer, whether in peace or war? Our present position is positively untenable.

In conclusion, I shall attempt to convey to honorable senators the picture which ran through my mind when I was preparing my speech. Some of us have been members of the Senate for quite a long time and have had a varied experience; but the story does not change very much. The Government brings down legislation ; the scenes are changed, the players change, performers come and go and the titles of the plays are altered, but all the time it is a see-saw contest between the processes of the party of reform and progress and those of the exploiters, profiteers, rack-renters, blackmarketeers and the political reactionaries. It is the same old story with the same contending forces - the forces of progress and the forces of those timid people who are always afraid of change. However, the nation progresses; it still moves forward in spite of the “ stand-patters “. This measure is evidence of the fact that it does move and that nothing that reactionary forces, politicalor otherwise, in this great country may do, can prevent us from continuing to move forward.

Debate (on motion by Senator Critchley) adjourned.

page 140


Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to-

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

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) proposed -

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Senator LAMP:

.- I was very disappointed with the reply given’ this afternoon by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice) to the question asked by Senator Murray with respect to the supply of tobacco to ex-service personnel who have opened stores in Australia since the cessation of hostilities. The present system is a gross injustice to ex-service personnel. Surely, the Government “will not be content to let matters rest as they are. Two courses are open to it : First, it can withdraw dollars from the tobacco interests and compel them to do as it directs ; or, secondly, it can ask the States to take over responsibility in the matter. Some months ago I asked the Government to take up with the State Governments the present system of allocation of tobacco supplies. I should like to know whether it intends to do anything about the matter. Surely it is not prepared to allow these racketeers to get away with . what they are “ putting over “ the people at present.

SenatorCOURTICE (QueenslandMinister for Trade and Customs) [10.6). - The tobacco industry is completely under the control of private enterprise and the Government has no constitutional power to control the allocation of tobacco supplies. As Senator Lamp has said, the Government controls the importation of tobacco; but it has no power to do as he suggests. When the Government controlled the allocation of tobacco supplies it was inundated with complaints from all parts of the Commonwealth regarding the system of distribution then in operation, and it was requested by persons of all shades of political opinion to relinquish its control of the industry. The Government decided to abandon that control, and it cannot now control the industry in any way. On numerous occasions I, personally, have made representations on behalf of exservice personnel with a view to obtaining quotas of tobacco for them. However, in view of the Government’s previous experience, which I have already indicated, it does not intend to attempt to direct private enterprise in the allocation of tobacco supplies. In any event, I repeat, it has not the power to do so. Honorable senators know that when the people were asked to give the Parliament power to continue to control prices on a nationwide basis, which is a far more important issue, the Government’s referendum proposals were re j ected .

Senator Lamp:

– Will the Minister take up the matter with the State governments ?

SenatorCOURTICE.- That has already been done. We have given every assistance possible to the States with respect to the transfer of the control of prices. I do not intend to comment upon the methods which the States are adopting in that respect. However, I believe that the people now realize they made a serious blunder when they refused to give to this Parliament power to control prices on a nation-wide basis. The same principle arises in the matter which the honorable senator has mentioned. The tobacco manufacturing industry is a private industry and theGovernment has no more power to allocate tobacco supplies than it has to allocate shirts or sugar. It has endeavoured to assist ex-service personnel in the manner indicated by the honorable senator, but it has no power to enforce its desires. It would be useless for me to say that it could do something which it has. no power at all to do. I repeat that it does not again intend to accept responsibility for the distribution of tobacco supplies.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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The following papers were pre sented . -

Defence Act - Royal Military College - Report for 1047. lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for

Defence purposes - Linden Park, South Australia.

Senate adjourned at 10.9 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 February 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.