18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the serious position now existing in the canned fish industry in- Australia, and particularly in Tasmania, due to very strong overseas competition, will the Minister for Trade and Customs take action to protect this important industry?
– The honorable senator has previously made representations to me about the canned fish industry and I have given a good deal of consideration to this matter. On two occasions representatives of the industry have interviewed mc and supplied me with valuable data. I am sympathetically disposed towards this industry not only because of its value in connexion with defence, but ako because it could become very important to the economy of Australia. However, my opportunities for taking any action which would ba satisfactory to the industry are somewhat limited. I have already undertaken to discuss the matter fully with other Ministers and I hope that we will be able to take such steps as will encourage the development of this very important industry.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel inform the Senate whether it is a fact that Mr. I. Williams, president of the miners’ federation, has sent an urgent message to the Prime Minister indicating that a serious coal crisis is imminent? If so, has the Minister any statement to make to the Senate about the matter?
– I have no statement to make with relation to any message that has been sent to the Prime Minister. However, in the interests of the economy of this nation I suggest to the honorable senator that if matters relating to the coal-mining industry and other industries are left in the hands of the tribunals that have been established to deal with them, there will be greater production and better relations in the industrial sphere.
Reconstruction Training Scheme
-Can the Minister representing the Minister for PostwarReconstruction give me any indication of the progress made by reconstruction trainees at the University of Melbourne!
-I understand that the reconstruction trainees at all Australian universities have acquitted themselves particularly well, and that approximately 300 obtained either degrees or diplomas at the University of Melbourne last year. That is an indication of the high calibre of the trainees and of the earnestness with which they addressed themselves to the task. It also indicates that they appreciate what the country is trying to do for them. I add that the 500 reconstruction trainees who graduated at the University of Melbourne last year have been placed satisfactorily in their chosen vocations.
– In view of the number of inquiries that I have received, I ask whether reconstruction trainees at universities are permitted to earn only £3 a week during the vacation period? If that is not correct, what is the maximum amount that they are permitted to earn?
– Students who are not ex-service personnel but are receiving Commonwealth assistance are permitted to earn only 30s. a week during vacation periods, but post-war reconstruction trainees are not subject to any limitation of their earnings during such periods. In other words, the living allowance granted to them by the Commonwealth is not affected during vacations.
-Some months ago the Postmaster-General announced the Government’s plans for introducing tele- vision in this country, and I asked him then whether he would provide a station at Newcastle to serve a potential audience of more than 250,000 people, which is perhaps twice the population of the capital city of Tasmania. The department’s plans have advanced since then and I now ask the Postmaster-General whether he will make a television station available to serve the Newcastle district?
– The matter raised by the honorable senator has been referred to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which has held several meetings, including one yesterday afternoon. I hope that within the next three or four weeks I shall be able to make a statement of the Government’s intentions concerning the installation of television equipment which will provide for such centres as that mentioned by the honorable senator. The matter involves considerable inquiry, more particularly because equipment of different types is available, and naturally the Government desires to obtain the best equipment possible.
– Can the Postmaster-General say whether the Government has received tenders from the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Holland for the installation of television equipment? If so, will he inform the Senate of the details of the tenders and of the probable cost of installing television transmitters?
-Tenders have been received and are now under consideration. The Government’s policy in this matter will be made known within a few weeks.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior inform me under what conditions licences are issued to shoot water buffaloes in the Northern Territory? Will the Government issue instructions that licences shall be issued only to those persons who utilize the whole of the carcass of the buffalo? In order to preserve the buffaloes in the Northern Territory, will the Government also issue instructions that no cow buffalo may be shot within the next two years?
– I am afraid that I am unable, at the moment, to answer the honorable senator’s question, but I shall ask my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, to reply to it.
– I ask the Minister for Supply and Development whether Australian workers are being displaced at the Woomera rocket range in favour of displaced person immigrants. Is there a long waiting list of Australian workmen seeking employment on the range? Are they being denied employment while displaced persons are available?
– There is no shortage of manual labour at the Woomera rocket range at present. Until some months ago, there was an acute shortage, and displaced persons were employed to make up the deficiency. At present, more than 90 displaced persons are on the way to the range, but they are all tradesmen and are mainly of Maltese extraction. At present, there is more labour available at the range than can be used, but Australian workmen are not being dismissed to make way for displaced persons. The latter were engaged only when it was not possible to get Australian workmen.
– I ask the Minister for Health what progress is being made with the production of streptomycin in this country. If it is not being made here, has approval been given to the importation of adequate quantities?
– It is some time since I directed my mind to the subject of streptomycin. I know that efforts were being made at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories at Royal Park to produce this drug in a form which would exclude the toxic qualities associated with it, but I do not know whether the experiments have been successful. I shall have inquiries made and advise the honorable senator on that point. I do know however, that streptomycin, which is most valuable in the treatment of certain types of tuberculosis, is being imported in adequate quantities. There are no dollar restrictions on its importation, and the Government has taken steps to ensure that adequate supplies shall be available for the treatment of cases to which it is particularly applicable. I shall ascertain what is being done at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and advise the honorable senator later.
– Will the Minister for Health give consideration to asking Dr. Robson, the eminent Canadian authority on silicosis, who is now touring Australia, lecturing and displaying a film on the treatment of this disease, to visit Canberra to show his film to members of Parliament, and to give them his informative talk on this important subject?
– I understand that Dr. Robson, who is from the Canadian Institute, and is an expert on silicosis and its treatment by aluminium dust is touring Australia. I do not know whether Canberra is on his itinerary hut I shall make inquiries. Honorable senators may be interested to know that a world conference on pneumonoconiosis, which will touch on silicosis, is to be held in Australia early in 1950. It will be promoted by the International Labour Organization. The question of silicosis and its cure will be very much in the news and to the forefront early in 1950 in this country. The Government, naturally, is very interested in any industrial disease that affects the welfare of workers. It was for that reason that not long ago it approved of the setting up of a very strong unit of industrial hygiene at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at the University of Sydney. That unit will be concerned with problems that affect the health of workers such as noise, dust, vibration, fumes, lighting, temperatures and ventilation, all of which are the incidents pf employment.- Silicosis is one more disease that arises out of employment. I know that my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service is particularly concerned about that problem, and I shall confer with him to see whether Dr. Robson will include Canberra in his itinerary.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General, relating to the manual telephone exchange at Padstow Park. In that locality, the New South Wales State Housing Commission has built a number of houses, many of which are now occupied by doctors and other professional men. Those classes of residents require a continuous telephone service. However, some of those residences have been connected with the manual exchange at Padstow Park which provides a restricted service. The locality is situated 12 miles from the centre of the city, and the inadequate telephone service is a serious handicap to those residents. Can the Postmaster-General say whether the department has any plan to provide an automatic telephone service in that locality in the near future?
– The policy of the department is to replace all manual exchanges with automatic exchanges so far as that is physically possible. A very comprehensive plan has been prepared, but offhand I am unable to say whether it includes the locality to which :he honorable senator has referred. I shall make inquiries and supply the information to him later. The department’s plan provides for the installation of an additional 600 automatic exchanges to replace manual exchanges. Our objective is to install automatic exchanges wherever required throughout the Commonwealth as soon as it is possible to do so.
– I understand that a considerable number of German technical and industrial scientists were on offer to Australia and that a number have been brought to this country. Can the Minister representing the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction inform the Senate how many of those scientists have come here? Can he make a statement dealing with the success of the experiment of bringing such scientists to Australia to assist our industries?
– The Government has sponsored the arrival in Australia of a number of European scientists, including Germans. These men have exceptional qualifications in their callings and have been brought to Australia to help with particular industrial problems that require technical assistance. The object of bringing them here was not only to help to solve scientific and technical problems, but also to train Australians to deal with the same problems. I speak entirely from memory and subject to correction when I say that more than 30 scientists have been brought to Australia. However, I know that they have done excellent work and that their services are keenly sought in industry. The experiment has been a great success. The Government has made strenuous efforts to obtain scientists of the right calibre, but it has found that other governments are equally anxious to obtain the benefit of the knowledge of those men. I shall ascertain the exact number of scientists involved in the scheme and inform the honorable senator.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing inform the Senate whether any progress has been made with the scheme for the reticulation of water to the Great Southern area of Western Australia ? Has the State Government drawn any part of the amount of £2,500,000 that has been made available for the purpose of the scheme by the Commonwealth free of interest ?
– I am not able to supply the information at the moment, but I shall refer the question to the Minister for Works and Housing and obtain a reply as soon as possible.
– In view of the many conflicting statements tha! are being made from day to da, about petrol supplies, and the extensive advertising campaign that has been undertaken by various oil companies, indicating that they are able to supply petrol in unlimited quantities, will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel make a statement now, or at an early date, to inform the people of the quantities of petrol that are available in Australia? If he can do so without committing a breach of security, will he also make available figures showing the quantities of petrol that are imported for all purposes? I do not want the honorable gentleman to disclose anything that might affect defence security.
– Petrol is a burning question to-day. I pointed out yesterday that a conference would be held this afternoon between the Prime Minister, myself, departmental officers and representatives of petrol supply companies. The Government is no longer in a position to implement rationing, which was retained for the sole purpose of conserving dollars and assisting Great Britain in its economic struggle. The amount of dollars to be expended on petrol this year has been budgeted for. Consequently, if that expenditure is increased, we shall have to restrict dollar expenditure upon the importation of tractors, tobacco, or other goods from hard currency areas. The Government is no longer responsible for the equitable distribution of petrol. That responsibility now falls upon the oil companies and the distributors. The Government is concerned that the amount available within the dollar budget shall be distributed equitably among the people of this country. The object of the conference to take place this afternoon is to see whether an agreement can be reached voluntarily for the States to take over petrol rationing. Although I am unable to furnish the honorable senator with any additional information at this stage, I shall make a further statement to the Senate when the position is clarified.
– Now that the petrol rationing regulations have - been declared -by the Full Court of Australia to be invalid, has the Government any power to control the grade of petrol that the various oil companies may sell? I understand that during the whole of the period of rationing we were using “ pool “ petrol which has a certain octane content.
– At present the Government exercises no control over the quality of petrol. That is a matter entirely for the major oil companies. The octane content of petrol is determined bf the amount of lead that is applied to it. and there has been a scarcity of that commodity. I do not know whether thi1 companies will now sell petrol of the high octane content that was available before the war, but I should think that when the necessary ingredients are available they will do so.
– I understood the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to say, when replying to my previous question, that petrol is only one of mam items that are included in the dollar pool or dollar purchases made by Australians, and that if more petrol is consumed, les* tobacco, fewer tractors, and reduced quantities of many other items will be imported into Australia from dollar sources. Is that the position?
– The position is a> has been stated by Senator Sheehan. Each year a budget is prepared with relation to dollar expenditure. It is designed to assist the Government of Great Britain to achieve improved economic conditions. The only control that the Government may now exercise over petrol is by means of import licences. However, I am hopeful that there will he sufficient petrol available to meet our essential needs, and that further resort to that expedient will not be necessary. The action that may he taken will depend on whether the oil companies are prepared to co-operate with the Governments of Great Britain and Australia in connexion with this problem.
– What about petrol from sterling areas?
– That aspect of the matter has been hawked around the country during the last few weeks by the Leader of the Australian Country party in the House of Representatives. His arguments have been fully answered by the Prime Minister, and I do not consider that a repetition of that explanation is warranted in this chamber.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a position to inform the Senate of the amount of subsidy that has been paid to people engaged in the dairying industry in respect of butter during the present financial year and the amount that the Government intends to set aside for this purpose during the next financial year? If not, will he obtain the information and supply it to the Senate?
– This matter is at present being considered by the Government. Although I am unable to supply the information desired at present [ am sure that a statement on the subject will be issued at an early date.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence inform the Senate whether it is a fact that high-ranking military officers have criticized the absence of Australian and New Zealand observers from the defence talks which began in Hong Kong on the 7th June? In view of the fact that these talks will have a vital bearing on defence policy in the South-West Pacific will the Minister say whether the Australian Government was invited to send representatives to the Hong Kong conference?.-
– I am not aware that criticism has been levelled at the Australian and New Zealand Governments in connexion with this matter. However, if the honorable senator will place his question upon the notice-paper [ shall endeavour to secure for him the information desired.
– In view of the great interest being exhibited by the Government, and particularly the Department of Health, in the matter of tuberculosis, and the efforts that are being made to assist sufferers to eradicate that disease will the Minister for Health inform the Senate whether similar research is being conducted with relation to cancer so that more adequate measures can be taken to combat this scourge? Will the Minister also say whether any financial assistance is rendered to the dependants of longterm cancer sufferers as in the case of tuberculosis?
– Particular attention has not been given to research in the field of cancer. However, research into that disease is taking place on a very large scale in many other countries of the world. Colossal plants and staffs are required to pursue these investigations. As Australia keeps in touch with research activities in other parts of the world, the Government does not feel justified in duplicating efforts that are being made on a very excellent scale overseas,. Very close attention is paid to what is being done in this matter. The Government has several thoughts in mind with relation to cancer. At the University of Melbourne there has been established an X-ray and radium laboratory which supplies radium to various hospitals throughout Australia, and conditions or re-conditions the radium from time to time. Work being clone by the distribution of radio-active isotopes at the X-ray and radium laboratory ensures that supplies are properly calibrated and of proper standards. In that way the X-ray and radium laboratory is making a very real contribution in the field of cancer. Its activities arc not confined solely to deep X-ray, which is one of the procedures used for treating cancer. It has many other aspects as well. The Commonwealth is not unmindful of the need for care in that direction. The reason that the Government was disposed to embark on tuberculosis as one of its first measures is that that disease affects vitally the younger age-group, that is people between 20 and 40 years of age. It is not long since I told the Senate that that disease is the greatest killer of those people in their most productive and re-productive years. It is recognized that cancer is a killer also, but generally it attacks people in their later years. It also has the advantage, if it can be said that cancer has any advantages, that it is not infectious. On the other hand, tuberculosis, unless properly controlled - and it can be easily controlled - is infectious and may constitute a danger to the people who do not know about it. The mere fact that we have embarked on a tuberculosis campaign does not display a lack of interest in, and appreciation of, cancer troubles. The problem from a national point of view is a very acute one. No particular amount is appropriated to help sufferers from cancer but they have various benefits available to them. If they are in a public ward of a public hospital there is no charge for accommodation, treatment or medicines. They would be eligible for invalid pensions, and in many instances may be entitled to sickness or unemployment benefits. Should they be ineligible for benefits under the headings that I have mentioned, there is provision for payment to them of a special benefit. Apart from those benefits, no additional allowances are provided, as in the case of dependants of sufferers from tuberculosis, who are provided for by a special allowance.
Motions (by Senator Clothier) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Critchley on account of Absence overseas on public business.
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Beerworth on account of ill health.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the following subject : -
Ordered to be printed.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Ashley) read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 8th June (vide page 642), on motion by Senator Ashley -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– When the debate on this measure was suspended last night I was about to congratulate the members of the Government in this chamber. As a member of friendly societies all my life, I am familiar with the unpleasant duty of having to console the relatives of deceased persons, and unhappily I have also had to perform a similar duty on the death of members of the Parliament. On such occasions the good qualities and achievements of the deceased are invariably recalled. Obviously, such tributes cannot then be appreciated by the deceased, and for that reason I make a point of expressing my appreciation of deserving individuals while they are alive. I believe that we all appreciate a word of encouragement when we are doing a good job; it encourages us to continue our labours. I take this opportunity, therefore, to express my appreciation of the ability displayed by the five members of the Government in this chamber. I believe that the soundness of the Government’s policy and the success of its administration are due in no small measure to their counsels and activities. I desire particularly to congratulate the PostmasterGeneral (Senator Cameron) on his administration of the Postal Department.
– Because he has increased the postal charges?
– I suppose the honorable senator would prefer that I should be able to congratulate the PostmasterGeneral on the erection of a new general post office in Brisbane. Ever since I have been a member of the Senate, I have striven consistently to have more postal and telephone services provided, particularly in Western Australia, where so many people are separated by great distances from post offices. While I was in opposition I fought tooth and nail for the erection of post offices in that State, and I have not ceased to campaign for the provision of those facilities since Labour has been in office. Thanks to the late ex-Senator Collett, who was Acting Postmaster-General before the war, I succeeded in persuading the government of that time to erect a post office at Inglewood, and notice of the Government’s intention to proceed with the work appeared in the Commonwealth Gazette. However,the war intervened, and the construction of the building had to be postponed. Since hostilities ended I have been pressing the present Government to proceed with the work, and within the last month or so it has announced its intention to erect post offices at that place, at Hawthorn, and in the suburb in which I reside. I have also advocated consistently that seating accommodation should be provided for aged and invalid pensioners who have to attend post offices to draw their pensions, and frequently have to wait for lengthy periods. The Inglewood post office is now nearly completed. Public telephone facilities have been improved also. I consider that the PostmasterGeneral has done a wonderful job, despite the shortages of telephones, cables and other equipment. Certainly he has done his best.
One of my pet subjects ever since I have been a member of this chamber has been the standardization of railway gauges. My Western Australian colleagues and I have farther to travel to Canberra than have most other members of the Parliament, and, therefore, probably, we have a better knowledge of the disabilities caused by the present breaks of gauge. Every time we make the journey we see women with children struggling to make four, five or even six changes of trains if they are travelling as far as Brisbane. Travellers to Canberra from Western Australia have to change trains five times. I have always been a strong advocate of a standard gauge line across the continent. Such a line would have many obvious advantages in wartime. Primarily, it would facilitate the rapid transport of troops and war material. Of almost equal importance, however, would be the advantages in time of peace, Not only would transcontinental passengers be saved the inconvenience of repeated changes of trains, but also stock could be transferred rapidly in time of drought. Less handling of goods would mean cheaper freights. The Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) is not to blame for the lack of progress in the building of a standard gauge line. The plan has been delayed by the f ailure of certain State governments, including the Government of Western Australia, to sign the agreement. In the Sydney Sun, of the 7th June appeared the following report of an interview with Mr. John
Elliott, a prominent English authority on railways: -
For efficient operation, Australia’s railway system should be under uniform Commonwealth control, British railways expert, Mr. John Elliott, said to-day.
Mr. Elliott is director of the southern region of British railways.
At the invitation of the Victorian Government, he has just completed a comprehensive report on the Victorian railways.
Mr. Elliott said that all top State railway officials with whom he had discussed Australia’s railway problems agreed with him, that separate State control was prejudicial to efficiency. “ Australia needs a Commonwealth centralized transport commission, similar to the one now operating in Britain. “ Transport is indivisible, and it is essential that rail gauges between the capital cities, be standardized.
Fantastic ‘ System. “ Division of Australian railways into five watertight State compartments prevents proper economic use of rolling stock. “ It is fantastic that this system should continue.”
Mr. Elliott instanced the South African and Canadian rail systems as perfect examples nf unified control. lie strongly criticized what he described as our out-of-date method of feeding railway travellers. “ It is a sheer waste of time to stop a train to feed people,” he said. “ They should be fed on the train.”
Mr. Elliott’s statement bears out what I have been saying for a long time, and I hope that the various State authorities will soon reach agreement on the project.
Speaking last night on the subject of peace in industry, I drew attention to the fact that certain new undertakings were being established in Western Australia where they would be free from the industrial dislocation which is so prevalent in the eastern States. I recall that on the occasion of a coal strike in New South Wales some time ago, I boasted in this chamber that Western Australia was free from such troubles and therefore should be chosen by industrialists for the establishment of a new undertaking. Next day, there was a strike in Perth, and I had to laugh at my mistimed boast. However, I consider that there would be much less trouble in industry if a secret ballot were compulsory. I have always urged that.
Under Labour leadership, Australia has developed more rapidly than has any other country, and the people have everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing their support of a government which did not fail them in war-time or in the difficult post-war years. Undoubtedly the Labour Government did a remarkable job during the war. At that time of course most people recognized that the war effort should come first and, under its defence power, the Commonwealth was able to direct labour to where it was required most. To-day, conditions are entirely different. Workmen like to exercise their right to choose their own employment, and they know that they can get jobs anywhere. This makes the Government’s task all the more difficult, but the position is improving.
The Government is to be commended on its immigration scheme. When I was a boy, I lived for some time at Coorparoo in Queensland. In that district there were many German immigrants who had married Australian girls and were raising good Australian families. Their children fought with us in World War I., and their grandchildren fought with us in World War II. The Germans are splendid immigrants and good farmers, as their fine settlements in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia show. I contend that we should bring young Germans to this country in preference to southern Europeans. Our primary requirement of course is more native-born Australians, but under our immigration scheme, we should concentrate first on people of British stock, and then give next preference to Germans. We must be prepared to share Australia with people of our own choice who will become good Australians.
I have always been a strong advocate of adequate assistance to primary producers. I have some knowledge of farm life in Western Australia and also in Queensland where I have many relations on the land. I know how hard farming communities have to work. This Government has eased the burden of the primary producers considerably. Its financial assistance to them has been substantial. Liberal party and Australian Country party members in Western Australia have always been lavish in their promises to the man on the land. Some of thosepromises have been fulfilled, but many have not. The Labour Government has expended £71,000,000 on assistance to primary producers in the last five years. As recently as 1939 the total Commonwealth budget did not exceed £100,000,000 and, at that time, such expenditure was considered by many people to be extravagant. This Government is now providing assistance amounting to £71,000,000 annually to primary producers alone. That fact reflects the enormous development that has taken place in this country during the last few years.
Labour’s policy is to do justice to all sections of the community. Every Labour senator always endeavours to represent all sections of the community. Yet, we are often charged with looking after only the interests of our own supporters. Under the leadership of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) Australia has a great future; our people have nothing to fear. The Government has given practical effect to its policy of social security by ensuring full employment and by establishing the National Welfare Fund, from which it is now able to finance social benefits which are estimated to cost £100,000,000 next financial year. It has liberalized all classes of social services benefits, and, in some instances, has doubled or trebled previous rates. In respect of social services alone the Government’s commitment to-day is equal to the total budget of the Commonwealth ten years ago. There are now 8,000 more factories in Australia than there were before the war, and in that period the average monthly employment in factories has increased from 542,000 to 800,000. Unemployment is at an alltime low. The latest available figures show that only 1,802 persons are receiving unemployment benefit.
– I can offer one explanation for the shortage of foodstuffs. In the past, employers in country districts refused to pay decent wages, with the result that a great proportion of our rural population drifted to the cities. Under the Government’s policy of decentralizing industries remunerative employment will be proviled in country districts for all classes of workers. Honorable senators who come from Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales should urge industrialists in those States to establish subsidiary organizations in Western Australia and thus give greater encouragement to people in that State to remain there. Industry in Western Australia was considerably handicapped in the past by the fact that much higher wages were obtainable in the eastern States. For 39 years I was manager of a boot factory in Western Australia, and I can speak with first-hand knowledge of the conditions that existed in that industry. I recall that on one occasion ex-Senator Wilson boasted about the achievements of industry in Adelaide, but I am sure that he felt like crawling under a threepenny piece after I had stated the facts from the point of view of Western Australia. The Government’s policy of decentralizing industry will remove many of the handicaps which Western Australia has suffered in the past. Whilst the Government does not claim all the credit for the present high prices which we are receiving for our exports, it does claim that it has greatly assisted primary production by its wheat stabilization plan, the organization of orderly marketing of primary products and the provision of subsidies to primary producers. The result is that to-day, for the first time, our primary producers are enjoying real security. Some years ago, with Senator Nash, I was waiting at a railway station in one of the eastern capitals and made the acquaintance of three farmers, who were accompanied by their wives. They told us that they had just bad a holiday and were endeavouring to obtain seats for the return journey to Perth, but were unable to do so. Being a Western Australian, I immediately volunteered to help them, and I had the good fortune to obtain seats for them. Those people told us that they were primary producers, and that that was the first trip they had been able to afford for 25 years. Further evidence of the degree of prosperity being enjoyed by our people to-day is provided by savings bank deposits. Whereas in 1938 the deposits in savings banks totalled £244,000,000, that figure had risen to £688,416,000 at the 31st December last. That money did not drop from th, clouds; the depositors earned it, and the present Government gave them th, opportunity to do so. Our opponents say that the Labour party is anti-British. That charge was completely refuted when the Prime Minister recently visited th, United Kingdom to attend a conference of Empire Prime Ministers. Following that conference, he declared that the personal relationship of the King and members of the Royal Family with th, Dominions was an even stronger link than was the symbol of the Crown. H* was supported in that view by Mr. Fraser, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. The people of this country have nothing to fear under a Labour government. Unfortunately, the Government has noi received much assistance from the present Opposition parties, which are devoid of constructive ideas. I sincerely trust that the enlargement of the Parliament will produce a non-Labour Opposition that will at least bc able to make some contribution to the welfare of this country.
Senator LAMP (Tasmania) [45lThe Commonwealth Public Works Committee recently visited the Northern Territory. As chairman of the committee. I take this opportunity to express the thanks of all members to the Administrator of the Northern Territory, Mr. Driver, and his officers for the hospitality that they extended to us during our brief visit. They placed at our disposal al) available facilities and gave us a right royal reception. I also wish to thank Brigadier Fullarton, whom I was very pleased to meet. He is the right man in the right place, a good mixer and a most efficient officer. I extend to him the thanks of the committee for hia hospitality. I also wish to thank the Reverend Henry Griffiths, of the Methodist Inland Mission at Alice Springs, and Mr. Wharton, who, I understand, is a Commonwealth officer, for their very painstaking attention to the committee during its short stay in the town. I wish to comment briefly upon the administration of the Northern Territory. The committee was in a unique position during its visit. It was able to call evidence from citizens, and it met all of the senior public servants. Therefore, its members were able to judge how the administrative organization of the territory was functioning. I sincerely believe that the Administrator is not getting a fair chance to demonstrate his ability. What we need in the Northern Territory is one administration, and one administration only. The Administrator should be in supreme control of all departmental activities, and there should be a special Minister for the Northern Territory in this Parliament to allocate funds and determine administrative policy. The territory should also be represented at conferences of Commonwealth and State Ministers so that the Administrator’s views about the territory’s requirements of materials and services could be submitted for consideration. Until we have a unified form of control in the territory I do not think that our administration of that region will be very successful.
I was amazed to find that one of the greatest assets of the Northern Territory, the water buffalo herds, were being destroyed indiscriminately and wastefully. The animals are shot, the hides are taken, and -the carcasses ‘ are left to rot on ‘ the ground or feed the vermin, which are plentiful. The Government should restrict the shooting of buffaloes by issuing licences only to persons who make use of the entire carcass of each animal. I understand that producers in the territory are badly in need of superphosphate and other fertilizers. That provides an avenue for the profitable disposal of buffalo carcasses. I understand that certain people have applied for the lease of 100 acres of land adjacent to the Mary river in order to establish a factory for the manufacture of margarine from buffalo fat and fertilizers from the remainder of the carcasses. The Government would be well advised to encourage that project and facilitate its speedy establishment. I emphasize that a unified administrative organization must be established in the territory with the Administrator in sole control of all departments. There should be a special budget for the territory and a Minister in this Parliament to give him guidance
The Administrator should represent the territory at Commonwealth and State conferences. I cannot envisage any other means of administering that huge and important territory successfully. I hope that the Government will adopt my suggestion. Before I visited Alice Springs, I had a somewhat perverted opinion of the Methodist Inland Mission. I thought that it was conducted by a lot of old fogies who meddled in things that did not concern them. I have changed that opinion. I consider now that the Mission is doing a wonderful job both at Alice Springs and farther north in the territory. I was pleased to meet the Reverend Henry Griffiths, who is in charge of the mission’s activities in Central Australia. He is a very capable gentleman and is doing a great work. The mission’s hostels are highly efficient and are carrying out tasks that the Commonwealth ought to be performing. I have seen examples of the work of natives at the mission at Darwin. The products of their industry are excellent. I raise my hat to the Methodist Inland Mission and say that it is doing great and valuable work. I hope that it will be able to continue its operations for many years and that the Government will recognize its real value and assist it in every possible way.
Recently I read in the magazine World Trade an article written by its business editor, Mr. Herbert Harris, dealing with President Truman’s “ Fair Deal “ administration in the United States of America. The heading over the article was - “ It won’t be revolution but politicoeconomic evolution “. I shall quote passages from the article in order to show that Mr. Truman’s great victory in the presidential election arose from a policy that is somewhat similar to that of the Australian Labour party. The article stated -
In to-day’s world, the Fair Deal is the only economic idea being put into action by a government that is not hog-tied by dogma. No Marx, no Kautsky. no Webb has prepared a blueprint for it. The Fair Deal is as flexible as Mr. Truman, himself . . . There will be no delay on Mr. Truman’s part in discarding any economic procedure that fails to pay out. Only the goal is fixed: prosperity by means of full production and full employment.
The points of Mr. Truman’s policy speech were few in number, but they were very effective. They were -
To raise minimum wage standards.
To extend social security coverage over domestics, small business men, and certain professionals.
To subsidize low-cost housing and slum clearance.
To provide other subsidies for rural electrification programmes
To start new Tennessee Valley Authorities.
To continue government support of farm prices.
To impose heavier corporation taxes.
To make more rigorous federal control of bank credit.
To give back to labour some of the advantages it lost through the Taft-Hartley Act.
Such proposals could well be put into operation by any government in the world. Those points won over the American people, although the betting against the probability of Mr. Truman’s return to office had been quoted at 50 to 1. If Mr. Truman does as the Australian Labour party is doing in Australia, and gives practical effect to those principles,, I am sure that he will remain in power for many years. The article in World Trade continued -
Despite fears of another depression, which in many quarters are very real and pervasive, the people ave reasonably confident that they can look to their government to provide jobs, income, sustenance or at least subsistence in whatever areas of economic activity private enterprise is unable to assure them.
Leadership in business, government, agriculture, labour, education has learned that it is feasible to “ do something “ not only to cure a collapse if it comes, but also to prevent its very onset. The fact that the reviews and forecasts of the President’s admirable Council of Economic Advisers increasingly influence economic decisions in every sphere merely emphasizes this new mental set.
I have quoted sufficient of the article to convince my listeners that the implementation of a soundly planned economic programme that will provide full employment and social security for everybody will have the wholehearted support of the people upon any occasion.
I refer to the Government’s policy for combating communism in Australia. The policy of the Australian Labour party is to provide full employment in order to secure full production, and social services to carry the workers over intermittent periods of unemployment. I commend to honorable senators the booklet Christianity and Communism, by the Most Reverend Cyril F. Garbett. Archbishop of York, published by the Industrial Christian Fellowship. It contains a reference to the principles that the Austrtalian Labour party has been endeavouring to carry out for a great number of years. The author of the book, after reading books on capitalism by Karl Marx, commented -
I was not in the least impressed by it* economic theory, but I was deeply moved by its account of the cruelties and hardships suffered in mines and factories by underpaid workers at the time of the Industrial Revolution. Wherever there is great poverty, and especially when there is a glaring contrast between luxury and want, wherever there if squalor and misery there ie fertile ground for the seed of communism. Communism is a judgment on the social and economic sins oi Western civilization. The best defence against communism is the removal of the social wrongs in which it flourishes. The Church must take a firm stand against any form of economic domination, whether capitalistic or communistic, which denies the rights of the individual.
It must protest at all times against social injustice wherever it exists, against unfair conditions of labour, against industrial systems which treat the worker as an unintelligent cog in a machine, and against bad housing. It must demand that all are given opportunities of useful employment, a just reward for their labours, some voice in the -work in which they are engaged, and the houses in which privacy, health, and comfort are possible.
– That sounds very similar to the policy of the Liberal party.
– It is the policy that the Australian Labour party has been endeavouring to implement for many years. If the honorable senator contends that that coincides with the policy of the Liberal party he should come across to this side of the chamber and assist the Government to carry out that policy. Another paragraph in the booklet reads -
Marxian communism mut be defeated not only by argument and condemnation, but by showing that injustice and poverty can be removed by better methods than those of violence and revolution.
The Australian Labour party is the only party in Australia that can implement those principles because its members are neither capitalists nor Communists; they comprise the “ centre party “ that has advocated and put into . operation such things as are advocated by the Archbishop of York. I urge people who do not understand clearly the difference between the policies of the* Australian Labour party and other political parties to read pamphlets that have been published by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church dealing with social justice. Throughout the world Liberal and other capitalist parties have been responsible t’or bringing about intolerable conditions, >n which communism thrives. The object ->f the Australian Labour party is to remove industrial injustices in order that communism shall have no chance of nourishing. In Australia, communism can be combated effectively only by our giving effect to the policy of the Australian Labour party.
– But not the socialist party!
– I urge the Government to institute a system of co-operative societies in cities and towns where they do not at present exist. It is the policy of the Australian Labour party to implement economic and social co-operation. I am very disappointed that the cooperative society operating in Canberra has not progressed to any degree. That is hard to understand, because there exists in the Federal Capital a solid basis for its successful operation. As I have said before in this chamber, although there are available in the Federal Capital many highly trained public servants who carry out the administration of governmental activities, there exists in the beautiful city of Canberra only a comparatively small co-operative society, which is not progressing as it should. The Government should erect offices and stores and make them available to the society at a nominal rental. Alternatively, the stores that are being erected in the suburbs of Canberra could be handed over to the co-operative society and conducted in the interests of the people in the community. The business people in Canberra are the most ignorant, selfish and domineering that I have met in any ‘part of Australia. They have no consideration whatever for the welfare of the citizens. The extraordinarily high prices charged for commodities are not justified in many in stances. That can be overcome only by a proper system of co-operative trading. In England last year the co-operative societies made a profit of £33,000,000. That did not result in the creation of 33 more millionaires. That amount was distributed to the people, thus increasing their purchasing power. Honorable senators will be astonished to learn, also, that the co-operative societies in England purchase a third of our entire wheat crop.
– Are they federated as a central body, or separate in each town ?
– They are not separate bodies. There are wholesale and retail distributing organizations working practically under one administration. They enjoy a certain degree of autonomy, and at their conferences policy is decided upon, as b shareholders in a public company or corporation. They have autonomy in their own locality and maintain their own managerial staff.
– the policy -to be adopted throughout England be governed by one body?
– The policy to be followed throughout the country would be governed by the votes of the purchasers. I understand that the concern commenced operations with a capital of only £28. Their capital now is over £400,000,000.
Not long ago, I visited Queensland as a member of the Public Works Committee. Whilst in that State I visited the Wholesale Poultry Co-operative Society, which is being efficiently and successfully conducted. If any honorable senator is interested in the operations of that society, and communicates with the director, I am sure that that gentleman would be pleased to arrange 1 an inspection of the works and explain the system to him.
I urge the Government to establish branches of the Commonwealth Bank at Smithton, Ulverston, New Norfolk, Wynyard and Deloraine, in Tasmania. It i* indeed an anomalous position that, whilst at Wynyard five of the associated bank, have branches, there is no branch of the Commonwealth Bank. It has been brought to my notice that people in the areas that I have mentioned who desire to deal with the Commonwealth Bank -with relation to housing and other loans have to travel to Launceston, Burnie or Devonport. The managers of the branches at those centres do not, of course, know the persons concerned, with the result that it is at times difficult for them to convince the managers of the justice of their claims. There should be a branch of the Commonwealth Bank in each of those towns, so that the residents may have access to the facilities provided by that bank.
I should also like to be informed of the Government’s attitude towards the establishment in north-western Tasmania of a regional station of the national broadcasting network. It is all very well to apeak of the advantages of television, but the residents of that district are not even able to enjoy listening to a local broadcasting station. When we complained about it we were told that wireless reception from the national stations in Melbourne and Launceston is good and that it is an adequate substitute for the programmes broadcast by station 7NT. Of course, that is not correct; the people of north-western Tasmania are unable, for technical reasons, even to receive programmes from an alternative station. I should like to know whether the Postmaster-General has sufficiently impressed upon the Australian Broadcasting Control Board the necessity for establishing a station in north-western Tasmania, where two-thirds of the population of that State reside.
I have also been requested by many residents, including tradesmen, in different parts of Tasmania to point out that the official statistics published by the Commonwealth Statistician of house rents in that State are inaccurate and grossly misleading. According to the official statistics the average housing rental in Hobart is 21s. 3d. a week, in Launceston 19s. 7d., in Burnie 18s., in Devonport 16s. Id., and in Queenstown 1 7s. a week. The plain fact is that houses are not available in any part of Tasmania at anything approximating those figures. The Government should inquire why the Commonwealth Statistician has published such misleading figures. Statistics which approximate more nearly to actual rentals should be published. When the amended statistics are published the workers of Tasmania should certainly be given the benefit by increasing the basic wage to bring it into alinement with the actual cost of living. Having ventilated those grievances on the part of the residents of Tasmania, my constituents, I express my support of the general policy of the Government, and I commend this measure to the Senate.
– In the course of his speech yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) complained of the insufficiency of Australian secondary production. We al recognize that demand still exceeds supply, but the honorable senator apparently does not yet realize that the continued excess of demand over supply constitute? not a criticism but a commendation of the present Government’s administration. The reason why Australian industry is not producing sufficient for the people of this country is that the demands of the people and their purchasing power have increased to a degree unprecedented ii our history. We are enjoying remarkable prosperity. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition implied that the principal reason for the inadequacy of production was that the workers in industry were not producing sufficient goods. He mentioned particularly steel, and said that New South Wales has had to import steel. It is true, that that State has had to import steel, but the fact that we are using all the steel produced in this country and still require more is proof of the expansion of our industries-
– But the steel industry is not producing to anything like capacity.
– We are getting only 58 per cent, production.
– Those honorable senators opposite, who are interjecting in unison, know that their statements are absolute rot.
– They are noi absolute rot.
– I realize that we should not expect the Leader of the Opposition to realize the stupidity of those statements. He is still in th, political kindergarten, but one day he may graduate to the university of Labour, and then he will become more enlightened.
In the course of his remarks, yesterday the honorable senator referred to the need to undertake major developmental works. Of course, the Government has always realized that necessity, and it has made provision for such works- I remind the Leader of the Opposition that when the anti-Labour administrations which he supported were in office, they did not make the slightest effort to carry out developmental works, such as the unification of railways, conservation of water and the construction of roads, although the country was not then suffering any shortage of labour or materials. The nation suffered severely during World War II. because projects of the kind that I have indicated, which should have been completed years before, had not even been commenced. Of course, honorable senators on this side of the chamber know why the antiLabour administrations did nothing about such works. When the political parties opposite, which have functioned under many names, were in office they were always under the dictatorship of the privately owned banks; and if they are returned to office at the next general election they will again place themselves under the control of the banks. Any honorable senator who doubts the truth of my assertion need only refer to the public statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), who announced that if the Opposition parties are returned to power they will repeal the banking legislation of 1945 and 1947. That means, of course, that the Government of this country would again revert to the control of the private banks. Although the people of this, country suffered most bitterly only a few years before the recent war it is necessary to let the younger voters know what happened during the depression. The late Mr. Lyons, who was Prime Minister of this country during part of the depression, because he happened to ‘ be the Leader of the United Australia party - the initials of which corresponded with its policy, which was “ unemployment and poverty “ - indicated at a public meeting in Adelaide in 1932 that his go- vernment was dictated to by the private banks. He said that it was only because the banks had confidence in his government that he was able to carry on. If further proof of dictation by private banks is needed, here it is. In the same year the then Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Stevens, who is now Sir Bertram Stevens, according to the press of the 23rd November, 1932, made the following public statement: -
My Government is getting out into the field of economic endeavour as courageously as the banks will allow.
He was referring to the attempts that he proposed to make to solve the problem of unemployment. Was not his statement simply another admission of the control exercised over governments by the private banks? Nevertheless, honorable senators opposite have the colossal effrontery to profess concern for the workers. A circular issued by the Bank of New South Wales in 1932 said that the banks refused to co-operate with the Government unless drastic reductions of expenditure were made. The circular went on to state that whilst the bank realized that such reductions would inevitably entail unemployment, that was only a secondary consideration. As further proof of the ruthless dictatorship exercised by the private banks, I remind honorable senators that when control of the Commonwealth Bank had been handed over to the trading banks in 1924 by an anti-Labour Government those institutions refused to finance the marketing of our wheat and wool crops unless they were permitted to impose their own conditions. In October of that year the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, conferred secretly with representatives of the Commonwealth Bank Board and the trading banks on the matter. Later it was stated that the trading banks had issued an ultimatum, and had won at every point. Their main demand was that they should have the right to draw £10,000,000 on the Commonwealth Bank. Although they agreed to pay 4 per cent, on bank-notes actually drawn, they did not, of course, fall into that trap. They simply operated on their credit with the Commonwealth Bank, but did not actually draw bank-notes, so that they did not pay any interest. But they traded on their “ right to draw “ and charged full interest rates. Those facts are undeniable, and the electors of Australia, who are not deceived by mere changes of the names of the anti-Labour political parties, know that if those parties are returned to power, the trading banks will once again dominate this country.
The Scullin Government is still condemned because it was compelled to effect certain economies during the early stages of the depression when it occupied the treasury bench. The Leader of the Opposition, who was first elected to the Senate in 192S, repeated that criticism and said that the Scullin Government was in power during the depression years. The fact is that that administration was not in power, but merely in office. When the honorable senator made the forecast that Australia would have a. non-Labour administration after the next general election, he undoubtedly had in mind that the two political parties opposite would form a coalition government. Of course they are not likely to win the election, ,but even if they do it is exceedingly doubtful, in the light of the bitter enmity existing between the Liberal party and the Country party in Victoria, whether they could combine to form a stable government. To return to the Scullin Government, I remind the Senate that although it had a majority in the House of Representatives, which passed a measure to authorize a fiduciary issue of £18,000,000, its humanitarian aims were frustrated by the ‘anti-Labour majority in this chamber. Included amongst that majority was the present Leader of the Opposition, who recorded his vote against the bill, notwithstanding that it was intended to succour the starving men, women and children of this country. To-day the honorable senator has the effrontery to pretend that the Australian electors are so unintelligent that they will vote for him and his colleagues at the next elections.
What consideration has the political party to which the Leader of the Opposition belongs - the Australian Country party ever displayed for the farmers of Australia? I shall remind the Senate of an enlightening statement made by the deputy leader of that party in the House of Representatives, the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), when he was a member of a composite Ministry at the time. The primary producers, who were in desperate need of assistance, asked him to persuade the Government to do something for them. Although the honorable gentleman was well aware of the plight of the farmers of this country at that time he declined to approach the Government on their behalf on the ground that he did not want to embarrass the then Prime Minister. That is typical of the attitude of the political parties opposite when they have been in office and sections of the community have appealed to them for help.
I turn now to the dishonest propaganda that is being circulated by our opponents concerning housing accommodation. Large numbers of advertisements have appeared in the press throughout Australia, which reproduce a photograph of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), and credits him with making this promise -
We give this firm promise to young couples. The Liberal party, when returned to office -
Of course, the inclusion of the word “ when “ must he a printer’9 error. The appropriate word is “if”. The advertisement continues -
He and his party promise, if elected to power, _ to make homes available to young couples. The publication of such a statement with the authority of an allegedly responsible man, who aspires to the Prime Ministership of this country, is nothing less than sheer dishonesty and misrepresentation. Every intelligent person knows that the Commonwealth Parliament has no control over housing generally. It can only give financial assistance to the States for housing projects. Its direct authority over housing is confined to war service homes. That inaccuracy, however, does not worry the Opposition parties. If they can fool most of the people most of the time they are quite satisfied. That is amply demonstrated by the number of occasions on which the name of the present Liberal party has been changed. The Leader ‘ of the Opposition in the House of Representatives, in the course of his “ come-back “ campaign, has been aping American electioneering tactics. He was overseas last year, and in the course of his wanderings he visited the United States of America, where, I understand, he hitched his wagon to the Dewey star. While’ in America, he talked with Dewey, and later he said that he was absolutely certain that Dewey would win the presidential election. His opinion was reinforced, of course, by gallup polls, but we all know how unfortunate Opposition parties have been with their gallup poll predictions. The right honorable gentleman told the Australian people that if they were in America Labour supporters would be voting for Truman, and Liberal-Australian Country party supporters for Dewey. When he said that, of course, he was quite certain from his own observations in the United States of America that Dewey would win.
– He was a poor tipster.
– And he is an equally poor tipster on the result of the next general election. I cannot imagine the people sacrificing the favorable economic conditions that exist in this country to-day largely as a result of the foresight of the Labour Government. The Opposition party leaders, who to-day ara appealing to the Australian people to elect them to office in this Parliament, are the very leaders who failed Australia in its greatest crisis. Can any one imagine the people of this country being so foolish as to trust the responsibilities of government once again to men who could not agree amongst themselves when the nation was in dire peril ? As Senator Aylett pointed out last night, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who was a member of the Menzies- ministry, charged his then leader with being the greatest self-seeker in the country and the fountain head of all whispering campaigns. We all know, too, how the then Prime Minister, and his colleague who is now Leader of the Australian Country party, charged each other with employing stab-in-the-back tactics. The present political situation in Victoria will be duplicated in this Parliament should the Opposition parties be returned to power to form a composite ministry and there will be a repetition of the internecine strife of 1939-41.. The leader of the Country party in Victoria, Mr. McDonald, and his colleague, Sir Albert Dunstan, have been touring the State describing the Premier, Mr. Hollway, as a “ political playboy “ and a “political nitwit”. How can the people of this Commonwealth have any confidence in such men or in the parties of which they are members? The Opposition parties have committed themselves publicly to repealing the Labour party’s banking legislation. Such action, of course, would inevitably bring this country again under the control of private financiers and big business. An amusing feature of Liberal party electioneering advertisements is the appeal for funds that appears on almost every one of them. Could anything be more ridiculous? If “Little Audrey” heard of it, she would laugh and laugh, because she would know that the banks and big business are prepared to provide the anti-Labour parties with all the money that they are likely to require. Everybody knows, too, that not long ago the “ repatriated rajah “ - Mr. R. G. Casey - visited the United Kingdom to seek financial assistance for the Opposition parties in the forthcoming election campaign. It has never been authoritatively denied that that was his mission. The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives has opened his election campaign by barnstorming the country in the Thomas Dewey fashion, addressing meetings at workshops and factories. He has been telling the people that the return of a Labour government would mean complete socialization, and that workers would then have only one boss. I remind the country, however, that should the right honorable gentleman’s party be elected to office, tens of thousands of people will not even have one boss, because they will be out of work. There is ample verification of that claim in a statement made in Tasmania by Professor Hytten, formerly economic adviser to the Bank of New South Wales.
Professor Hytten, said that full employment was not practicable - that claim has been reiterated by Opposition party leaders - and that the ideal form of society is one in which there is an unemployment rate of from 6 to S per cent. That is the policy of the anti-Labour parties, provided, of course, that they are not included in the 6 or 8 per cent. Their main concern is that big business shall make profits. They speak of unemployment in terms of a percentage. They do not realize what it means in terms of human suffering.
– That is the honorable senator’s opinion, not ours.
– I remind the Leader of the Opposition that he voted in this chamber against a proposal to make money available to provide work for thousands of unemployed Australians «o that they could buy enough to eat.
– That is only the honorable senator’s interpretation of what happened.
– Did the honorable senator not vote against that measure?
– 1 voted against inflation.
– And the effect of that vote was to impose further hardship on tens of thousands of people.
– It was not; it saved them from hardship.
– It was rather a strange way to save people from suffering, because the result was increased suffering.
– Then why was the Lyons Ministry returned to office at two subsequent elections?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! Honorable senators must not conduct a discussion across the chamber.
– If I were Senator Cooper and had such charges levelled against me, I should be squirming in my seat I repeat that the defeat by the Senate of the financial proposal to which I have referred, inflicted further suffering on the people of this country. That is undeniable. I have no doubt that the same thing will occur should the Australian people ever again trust the responsibilities of government to the antiLabour parties, whatever their names may happen to be.
Ever since I can remember, and probably ever since the oldest senator in this chamber can remember, Labour’s political opponents have been raising the old bogy of communism. Once again I say that “Little Audrey” would laugh and laugh at such tactics because she would know very well that the conditions imposed upon working people by conservative anti-Labour governments breed communism. We need not fear a spread of communism while Labour is in office, because economic conditions will be so satisfactory that working people have no time for communism or any other “ ism “. People will not readily subscribe to the doctrines of communism while they are adequately fed, clothed and housed.
Honorable senators opposite frequently speak of the housing shortage. We all know that there is an acute shortage of houses to-day. One reason for that, of course, is that tens of thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth are enjoying a degree of prosperity that they never dreamed of during the regime of anti-Labour governments. The demand for telephones, hot-water services, refrigerators and motor cars is unprecedented. Many thousands of people who are enjoying those amenities to-day would never have had an opportunity to acquire them but for Labour’s administration. In 1925, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, stumped the country appealing to the people to return his Government to office so that steps could be taken to curb the growth of communism. His Government was returned to office, but what did it do? It did not do anything at all. Again in 1928 the same old bogy was raised. The anti-Labour propaganda is now at full blast. Communism is the only issue which the Opposition parties can place before the electors, because they are politically bankrupt. Their representatives are stumping the country and endeavouring to frighten the people by talking about the danger of communism. But the people know very well that no real danger of communism will arise unless an anti-Labour Government is returned to office. With a great fan-fare the antiLabour press has published the articles written by Cecil Sharpley. They were published first in serial form in the Melbourne Herald and then in booklet form. That newspaper apparently thought that Sharpley’s articles would be an election winner for the Opposition parties, but they told the public nothing that spokesmen for the Government had not been telling them for many years, namely, that the Communist party is out to defeat Labour. Sharpley in one of his articles stated-
Around the core of fanatics we were to build what the tutors termed “ a mass party “. They told us widespread human suffering and discontent would offer the most favorable grounds for such progress.
Communism is the only peg on which the Opposition parties can hang their hats at the next general election and they are making as much of it as they can. Surely, no further evidence is required to show that they are simply endeavouring to create a psychology of fear in the community, depending on the people’s knowledge of Communist infiltration in certain European and Asian countries. It is noteworthy, however, that in those countries which the Communists have overrun the standard of living of the mass of the people is very low. Communism will not have an opportunity to spread in a country like Australia so long as a Labour government is in office. I do not propose to deal in detail with the social services which the Government has made available to the people. When the Opposition parties claim that they have the welfare of the people at heart, the people need only examine the record of those parties when they were in office in the past to learn the truth. When those parties claim that they will increase production and undertake a programme of developmental works, the people should remember that anti-Labour governments in the past failed completely to do either of those things during a period when materials were available in abundance and hundreds of thousands of Australians were walking the streets in search of employment. Because of the failure of antiLabour governments in that respect Australia found itself in difficulties at the out- break of the war in 1939. Even two years later when the Curtin Labour Government assumed office, although we were supposed to be engaged in a total war and to be fighting for our national existence, those parties were squabbling amongst themselves and could not effectively prosecute the war. At that time between 200,000 and 300,000 people wen unemployed in this country.
– That is not true.
– I might be out by half a dozen. I have told the Leader of the Opposition several times that if I were in his position, and had any conscience at all, I should be ashamed to profess that the Opposition has any concern for the worker or the public generally. If his party is returned to office it must obey the dictates of private finance. Mention has been made of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), who is known as the “tragic treasurer”. The Opposition parties produced another tragic treasurer who endeavoured to do an even better job of mutilating the Commonwealth Bank. I refer to Mr. R. G. Casey, who, when he was Treasurer in the Lyons Government, sponsored legislation which, had it been implemented, would have resulted in handing over control of the Commonwealth Bank to private financial interests for all time. Now, private finance has at last been challenged. When the Government’s decision to nationalize the banks was first made known the Melbourne Herald reported it in its stop press one Saturday night. Yet, on the following Monday morning, less than 36 hours later, the Sun Pictorial published a report under banner headlines that a nationwide protest had been made against the Government’s decision. Usually I refer to the Melbourne Herald as a newspaper for ‘people who cannot think, and to the Sun Pictorial as a newspaper for people who cannot read. However, I am sure that at the next general election the people will adhere to the old slogan, “ When you are on a good thing, stick to it”.
The Liberal party claims that if returned to office it will pay child endowment in respect of the first child. That party made that promise at the last general election. However, the people know the real answer to that proposal. They know that the basic wage is computed upon the cost of living of a man, his wife and one child, that is, a family unit of three; and they realize that should child endowment be paid in respect of the first child the basic wage would be reduced correspondingly. They realize that, in those circumstances, they would lose more than they would gain. That promise is deceptive. The Liberal party would not attempt to honor it unless, at the same time, the extra payment was more than offset by a reduction of the basic wage, [n racing parlance, I shall give a “ tip “ to the people of Australia for the next “ federal stakes “. I can best do so by giving the pedigree of the different starters as follows: - Liberal - out of Favour by Awakened Elector; Country party - half brother to Liberal and raced by same stable - out of Favour by Misnomer; Labour - and this runner must commend itself to the people of Australia -by Security out of Justice.
.- I was staggered by the logic of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper). He said repeatedly that he stood for private enterprise and opposed government enterprise. However, towards the end of his speech he complained that the Government was not doing anything to assist graziers in Queensland to combat the depredations of the dingo. Whilst he wants the Government to assist private enterprise all the time, he deplores any interference by the Government with private enterprise. He blamed governments for the present shortage of coal. Who owns the coal-mines in Queensland and New South Wales? They are owned not by governments but by private enterprise, which takes the profit made from the coal hewn by the miners. The Opposition parties are always complaining that the workers will not work hard enough. When Senator Sandford said that production had been increased, Senator O’sullivan interjected, “ What rot ! “ On that point, I refer that honorable senator to an authority whom he will not challenge, namely, Professor Copland, who was used by anti-Labour governments for the purpose of reducing wages in this country after the depression that occurred between the two world wars. At every opportunity in the press and on the platform the Opposition parties quoted the opinion of Professor Copland to justify their action in reducing wages and age and invalid pensions by 10 per cent. Child endowment, of course, was not paid in those days, although the general subject of social services was a live issue. This is what Professor Copland said -
The real output per man in Australia hai not fallen, but has increased by probably 12.8 per cent, since before the war.
One would think that, in ordinary political fairness, the Opposition parties, which were pleased to adopt Professor Copland’s doctrine after the depression, would accept that statement as being authoritative and not biased against the employing class.’
– It does not contradict what I said.
– It does. When Senator Sandford said that production had increased, Senator O’sullivan interjected, “ What rot “. I am quoting Professor Copland’s statement in order to prove my point. The professor added -
Recurrent shortages and interruptions to production have given the impression that the output per man has fallen. However, full employment and increased capital equipment in use should have given a higher output than has been achieved.
The professor was quite fair and I do not contradict his statement. He pointed out that production had increased by 12.5 per cent. I presume that, in his view, the increase should have been 20 per cent, or even 25 per cent. One can appreciate the plight of the Opposition parties to-day, when their arguments are contradicted by a man who was once their economic adviser. Professor Copland represented the banking institutions of Australia when he succeeded in persuading the Arbitration Court to reduce wages. I again refer to the professor’s statements, this time on the subject of coal production. He said -
Coal production is now running at a weekly rate or some 30 per cent, higher than before the war.
The facts that he has stated entirely discredit the political parties that are trying to displace the Government on the ground that production in Australia has diminished.
– What did the professor say about steel ?
– I shall deal with that.
He added -
Even so, it is far less than the demand from Australian industry.
The professor was pointing out that, although there had been a vast increase of coal production, the supply of coal was insufficient to meet the requirements of the manufacturers of iron and steel products. What does that mean? It means that the policy of the Government over the last six or seven years has been so beneficial to the community at large, and has produced such wealth as the result of full employment, that private enterprise in the steel industry has been unable to cope with the demand that has been made possible by prosperity. Wherever one looks to-day there are signs of abundance. Never in the history of the Commonwealth has there been a period of greater prosperity. Therefore, the Opposition continually tries to dodge the real issues and raises false bogies like that of communism.
The Government has declared that the best way to fight communism is to prosecute with the utmost rigour of the law any person who makes a subversive or treasonable speech. What is the policy of the Opposition? It declares that Communists should be banned. The outcome of such a policy can readily be determined by referring to the fate of countries where it has been implemented. I refer, as an example, to the Chinese empire, which has probably the largest population in the world. Chiang Kai-shek did not merely ban the Communists; he had their heads chopped off, not by the hundred but by the thousand. What was the result? The vast Chinese empire to-day is controlled by Communists. That plainly demonstrates the futility of the tactics adopted by the Chinese Nationalist Government. The Australian Government took its stand against the banning of Communists before the Nationalist forces of China were annihilated by the Communists. Any logically minded person who studies affairs in Australia to-day can reach no other conclusion, than that every action of the Government has helped to create a state of national economic security that is the envy of governments throughout the world. According to all the information that I have been able to obtain, workers in other countries consider that Australia is in the vanguard of political thought and action.
My next point should be of special interest to Senator Rankin. who stand* for the rights of the women of Australia and of the old ladies and gentlemen in Queensland who, through no fault of their own, have been relegated to eventide homes. Surely everybody must be in sympathy, with a government that helps to lighten the burden of our aged citizens! I shall demonstrate that Senator Rankin has fallen down on her job. The High Court of Australia this week declared that the Women’s Employment Board was an unconstitutional body. It ruled that, as a state of war had ceased to exist, the board could no longer operate. That tribunal gave a ruling that, subject to certain conditions, women employed in industry should receive at least 90 per cent, of adult male wage rates. But I have not heard any protest from Senator Rankin. or from any of the women’s organizations of the Liberal party or the Australian Country party, against the termination of the board’s activities. The Labour party had to make a great fight in order to secure adequate rates of remuneration for female workers in industry. The employers strongly resisted our efforts to secure wage increases, as well as comforts and amenities for women in factories. I recall the time when women employed in certain manufacturing establishments in Victoria were not permitted to talk while at work. They were not even allowed to “ pass the time of day “ after they entered the factories. As a result, a deputation of women waited upon their trade union secretary and said to him, “ Unless we are allowed to talk, we shall go off our nuts “. The employers were not concerned with providing amenities or making their factories pleasant places in which to work. All that they wanted was iron discipline among their employees. That sort of treatment of the workers, coupled with the tragedies of the depression, made many of our young men and women highly susceptible to foreign doctrines. Only a few years before World War 11., shocking conditions were imposed upon workers by an establishment in Victoria -which used motor trucks to distribute merchandise from Melbourne to its stores in various country towns. The truck drivers had to drive at night. Almost invariably they were asked, if they were married, whether their wives had motor drivers’ licences because the employers wanted to gain the advantage of having husband and wife working for the wage of only one person throughout the night hours. -Such practices were prevented only because of agitation by the workers. I have referred to the Government’s method of dealing with subversive elements in Australia. Large groups of employers, such as the Australasian Steamship Owners Federation, have been responsible in a large measure for the advance of Communist thought and action in Australia. I well recollect the time when the steamship owners sought to defeat the Waterside Workers Federation, by persuading men to form on organization which was registered as the Pennament and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. The Waterside Workers Federation was an anti-Communist organization, and I saw thu new union develop into a Communist outfit. That is how the employers and their representatives have nurtured communism. They have refused to listen to the advice of this Government, which 3peaks from long experience. Most members of the Government have had years of experience in the industrial field and, as a result, are able to envisage a state of society, which is gradually coming into being, in which no man, woman or child shall want for food, clothing or shelter. One would think that, in view of the prosperity that abounds on all sides under the administration of the Labour Government, the Liberal party and the Australian Country party would support its legislation. Several weeks ago I took the trouble to ascertain the circulation of capitalist newspapers in Victoria. The Melbourne Herald has a circulation of about 397,000 copies a day, whilst the Mel bourne Sun has a daily circulation of between 405,000 and 406,000 copies. Honorable senators are fully aware of the quantity of propaganda that is directed against the Australian Labour party by the one company, whose newspapers have a daily circulation of about 800,000. In addition, the proprietors of those two newspapers control the activities of many weekly and provincial journals. In all they decide the policy governing the presentation of the contents of about 5,500,000 newspapers sold each week in Victoria.
The hosiery industry has been developed extensively, and Victoria is now the principal hosiery manufacturing State in Australia. According to the Melbourne Sun of the 22nd March-
The profit of Holeproof Ltd. and subsidiaries for the year to 31st December, 194S, was a record at £51,730, compared with £33,176 in 1947. Latest profit includes £5,267 from the sale of spinning plants.
The huge profit made by that company is sufficient proof that legislation that has been enacted by this Government is not detrimental to the hosiery industry. Furthermore, the conditions enjoyed by employees in that industry are now very much better than formerly. It is somewhat significant that in many instances people who support attacks against the Australian Labour party themselves try to prevent the present Government from improving the conditions of their employees. In the same edition of the Melbourne Sun this paragraph appears with relation to profits made by York Motors Proprietary Limited -
Demand for motor vehicles is reflected in a record profit of £253,259 earned by York Motors Pty. Ltd., operating subsidiary of York Motors (Holding) Ltd. for the year to 30th November last. Profit in the preceding 12 months was £159,335.
Honorable senators will note that the profit earned by this company last year was ab/>ut £94,000 greater than in the preceding year. I point out that such huge profits have only been made possible by the workers.
I shall now refer to the operations of the International Harvester Company of Australia Proprietary Limited, frequently referred to as the company that farms the farmers”. This should be of particular interest to Senator Cooper who is vitally interested in any matter relating to farming. According to the Melbourne Herald of the 12th April -
The International Harvester Co. of Aust. Pty. Ltd. has bought for £135,014 the South Melbourne premises it has occupied for many years.
That company is operating successfully and making big profits. Whilst I have no comment to offer in that connexion I object strongly to the fact that its representatives have continually attacked the Government that has made those profits possible. Why could that company outlay such a large amount of capital for the acquisition of additional premises? The answer is that the directors are quite confident that the workers of Australia will make possible not only the repayment of the capital outlay but also the interest involved and the profits necessary for the efficient carrying on of the business.
In view of all the criticism that we have heard during recent months about the output of sugar in Australia, it is interesting to note that there has been a big increase of sugar production. According to the Melbourne Age of the 22nd March -
The 1948 sugar output was an Australian record. It is estimated at 044,000 tons, substantial^ exceeding the previous record of 928,147 tons in 1939.
This is particularly pleasing to me because every since I have been privileged to sit in this chamber I have heard insults hurled at the people of Queensland. Time and time again the workers have been blamed for the slow turn-round of ships. Not long ago I had the opportunity to visit Mackay, where there is one of the finest cargo sheds in Australia. I had been told previously that the canegrowers could not get their sugar away. When I went to the cargo shed, which is a very long building, I walked from one end to the other and could not find even half a pound of sugar; it had all been sent overseas. Whilst I have no objection to restraint being exercised to prevent the extravagant use of sugar, I object strongly to the continual insults directed at the workers who were responsible for the record output achieved last,year.
I have frequently heard complaints that the lag in home-building is due to the fact that there is insufficient sawn timber available for the builders. That is difficult to understand, in the light of the following report in the Melbourne Age of the 30th March:-
Production of sawn timber by the Forest* Commission last year reached the all-time record of 247.420,000 super, feet, despite continuing shortages of man-power and equipment.
Is it any wonder that the workers become annoyed when they read reports of parliamentary debates implying that they are loafing on the job ?
There has also been a big increase in the production of flax. The Melbourne Age of the 30th March reported -
An increase of £1 to £9 a ton for flax straw is expected to result in a record harvest thi* year.
This is another instance of record production in industry. The Opposition frequently criticizes the production of iron, steel and wire. It is interesting to note, that according to a report from London published in the Melbourne Herald on the 31st March-
The Finance Corporation for Industry Limited has agreed to advance £10,500,000 to John Lysaght’s Scunthorpe Works Limited for expansions of its Lincolnshire steelworks during the next five years.
It is apparent that the directors of that company have absolute confidence in the workers of Australia and do not think that they will loaf on the job.
During 1947-48 the total number of factories operating in Victoria increased by about 750, with a consequent increase in the number of employees and production generally. Prosperity is evident on every side.
– It must be the golden era !
– It certainly is the golden era, but apparently the honorable senator has not hitherto realized the prosperous state of the country.
– I certainly did not realize that we were passing through such an era.
– Let us contrast the conditions that exist to-day with those in by-gone years when anti-Labour governments were in office. In Victoria during the depression years I frequently saw queues of about 200 men waiting for one job. I also saw men sleeping in tramway waiting sheds in order to be first on the spot next morning to apply for jobs. They were called “ battlers “. It is to be hoped that the conditions of those days will never again be experienced in this country.
From time to time the Opposition has claimed that the slow turn-round of ships is hampering the making of profits by shipping companies. That that contention is not justified is evidenced by the following statement that was published in the Melbourne Age on the 14th April -
Net profit of £147,415 was earned by Howard Smith Limited for the year ended December 31, 1948, against £130,771 for1947. Ordinary dividend is 5 per cent. against 4½ per cent. for 1947.
On every hand there is evidence of huge profits being made, not only by those engaged in primary production, but also by the secondary industries. Mr. C. M. McKay, manager of H. V. McKay Massey Harris Proprietary Limited is also president of the Chamber of Manufactures. It is interesting to note that he had as headings for his annual speech: Arbitration; the threat of socialism; the Communist menace ; and taxation. It is indeed amusing that the heading “ arbitration “ should be listed by him for mention because the company has always taken advantage of the workers. In the early stages of industrial legislation in Victoria the wages board system confined representation of employees to those engaged in the industry. At that time professional advocates were not permitted to appear before wages boards to represent the parties to industrial disputes and claims, and the parties had to appear, as far as possible, in person. In order to circumvent that provision the company to which I have referred made their industrial officer, a man named Charles Grant, a nominal shareholder in the company by presenting him with a single share. He was then entitled to appear before the wages boards to represent it, and since he had been appearing on the company’s behalf before the wages boards for a considerable period, the company suffered no disadvantage whatever because of the new regulation. Of course, the company’s manoeuvre was a typical piece of sharp practice because it was abso lutely farcical to suggest that an individual who held a single share in a company with a capital of £1,000,000 had any control over the company’s policy. The employers generally have resorted to similar artifices to obtain the advantage of expert representation before the industrial courts. Incidentally, the company which made a “ shareholder “ of Mr. Grant was responsible for moving the High Court to upset the judgment of Mr. Justice Higgins in the famous Harvester case.
The people of Australia must applaud the present Government for its conduct of the affairs of the nation. I can assure them that although it has already accomplished a great deal in their interest, it includes men of vision who plan to introduce even more further enlightened legislation and to continue the progressive administration that has characterized its term of office. Despite the empty talk by members of the Opposition of their hopes of victory at the next general election, I do not believe that amongst the Opposition parties in both houses of the Parliament there are two members who really believe that their political parties have any earthly chance of obtaining a majority of votes at the next election. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) in the House of Representatives has been a keen observer of the activities of the present Government, and he was honest enough, when addressing a branch meeting of Liberals in his constituency recently, to tell them that if a general election were held to-morrow there was no doubt that Labour would be returned to office. It is significant that his own political party did not take any disciplinary action against him for that utterance. The obvious explanation of their reluctance to deal with him is that they knew that he was speaking the truth. I support the bill.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
– This bill seeks the authority of the Parliament for the appropriation of £16,900,000 to maintain certain essential services until the annual budgetary provision is made later in the year. However, the Opposition has seized upon the opportunity given by the debate on the measure to attack the Government. Opposition senators have devoted considerable time to their attempts to prove that governmental expenditure has been wasteful, and has ignored the true welfare of the people of the Commonwealth. The sum to be appropriated by this measure is only a relatively small proportion of what will be needed to carry on the essential services of the Commonwealth in the ensuing financial year, but Opposition senators have made no reference whatever to the purposes of the proposed expenditure. They have confined their remarks to condemnation of the Government for its alleged inefficiency. Had they taken the trouble to examine the bill, they would have found, for instance, that it makes provision for the expenditure of £4,000.000 on defence. Of that sum £1,250,000 is to be expended on the Navy, mostly on constructional work. Recently, there arrived in this country H.M.A.S. Sydney, a new aircraft carrier which, according to reports, is one of the most comfortable fighting ships afloat, if not the most comfortable. That is the result of this Government’s determination that all men who serve in the fighting forces are entitled to the best possible conditions. At one time, it was thought that anything was good enough for the serviceman. Amenities were few, and living conditions were poor. H.M.A.S. Sydney, which, with its sister ship H.M.A.S. Melbourne, later to be added to the Australian fleet, will be the spearhead of our sea defence, has been designed to serve in tropical waters. “We all hope that the vessel will never be required for war purposes, but it is an insurance against attack. In making living conditions aboard Sydney as comfortable as possible, we are only acting in accordance with our firm belief that the amenities and general conditions provided for workers, whether they be on the wharfs, in the factories, or in the forests, should be of the highest possible standard. Servicemen cannot be considered as a section apart from the rest of the community. They are an integral part of the community, and there is no reason why their conditions should not be as good as those of their fellows in civil life. A man from a good home deserves to be treated in a manner which will enable him to settle down and make one of the services his career. He must be made to feel “ happy in the service “.
The Royal Australian Navy at present has one aircraft carrier, three cruisers - Australia, Shropshire, and Hobart - and several “Tribal” class destroyers. By June, 1952, additions to these ships will give us a first-class fleet. Already we have a compact fighting unit, the designation of which has been changed from the Royal Australian Squadron to the Royal Australian Naval Fleet. In 1939, naval personnel totalled 5,500. Under the Labour Government’s defence expansion programme, this number has been increased to 11,000. That is a clear indication that our defence expenditure is being applied in the be9t possible manner to ensure our future safety. Defence in the air, too, is being expanded. On board Sydney is w’hat is known at the “ First Carrier Air Group “, which consists of 40 aircraft of the latest type available. They are mostly Seafires, which are the carrier-borne version of the Spitfire. They are capable of speed* exceeding 400 miles an hour. Had Opposition senators shown more interest in the details of the expenditure provided for in this measure instead of wasting their time endeavouring to create the impression that this Government is indulging in extravagance, they would have found that substantial provision if made for the Royal Australian Air Force. There is also an appropriation for the payment of subsidies including price stabilization subsidies on tea and butter. Expenditure under that head will amount to £5,700,000. I am pleased to note that an additional £400,000 has been provided for war services and other repatriation benefits, particularly for veterans of World War I. As time goes on, and physical deterioration is accentuated, claims for pensions become more numerous. In their eagerness to return to civil life, many servicemen were inclined to overlook minor ailment* or disabilities resulting from their war service. But now the passage of years is telling on them, and .they are finding that their physical standard if not 100 per cent. That deterioration will be accentuated as years go by, and provision will have to be made for increasing expenditure on repatriation.
The Government is to be commended for its action in steadily building up the war gratuity reserve fund. The war gratuity will become payable in the’ financial year 1950-51, and although more than £6,000,000 has already been paid to ex-servicemen in necessitous circumstances, there remains an outstanding liability of £75,000,000. As interest is chargeable at approximately 3 per cent., that liability will continue to mount. Already £23,400,000 has been set aside from Commonwealth revenue for the payment of the war gratuity. That is a very wise precaution, because unless a substantial annual contribution is made to the reserve fund, when the gratuity falls due, the drain on the exchequer will mean either the raising of a loan or a heavier call on the taxpayers of this country. Opposition senators, of course, have refrained from mentioning that wise action by the Government. Why does the Opposition assume so readily that the Government is not concerned about the welfare of ex-servicemen? After all, the Labour party includes a large number of men who served in one or both world wars. We are only too eager to do what we can for ex-servicemen, but we realize that we cannot treat ex-service men and women as being apart from the rest of the community. They belong to the community, and their requirements must be assessed in relation to the needs of other people, and with due regard to the finances of the country.
Of the total appropriation provided for in this measure, £5,300,000 has been allocated to the Postal Department. That, of course, is only part of the huge sum that will be required to meet the expanding activities of that department, including the provision of television, frequency modulation, and other new broadcasting services, as well as developments in the field of electronics and communications generally. Those services will require many millions of pounds in addition to the substantial sums that have already been expended on equipment. In my wanderings through Tasmania and on the mainland I have always been struck by the fact that the hardest worked official in most towns and villages is the post master. Not only does he attend to his postal work, but he also acts on behalf of other Commonwealth departments, such as the Department of Social Services, by paying pensions. Until recently postal officials also handled petrol rationing and they may have to do so again if the States cannot evolve schemes of their own. The postmaster in any centre is a valuable citizen, but it is a wonder indeed that so many remain in the service in view of their working conditions and poor housing. The best buildings in any town are usually the picture theatre, the hotels, the banks and the churches. The post office is stuck away in a little back street. Tt is an old dingy building in which harassed postal officials endeavour to render a good service to the community. The Postal Department is the largest employing agency in the Commonwealth. It dwarfs even such huge commercial organizations as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited. To-day there is a growing realization of the necessity to improve working conditions in the postal service, and to bolster the morale of postal officials if recruitment is to be successful. In the past, recruitment to the Postal Department has been poor because of unattractive working conditions. The Postal Department has been the training ground for engineers, telephonists, and technicians, who eventually have been attracted by more lucrative jobs in private industry. When Labour assumed office, its inheritance was a poorly equipped and poorly paid postal organization. Considerable improvement has been effected since those days. However, many efficient employees of the Postal Department transferred to private enterprise, and their skill has been lost to the Government. Men with reputations like those of Sir Harry Brown and Mr. D. McVey, each of whom formerly occupied the position of Director of Posts and Telegraphs, were enticed away by private enterprise. That drift to private enterprise occurred because antiLabour governments in the past refused to use the profits made by the Postal Department to improve and extend departmental services and the working conditions of employees. As a consequence this
Government has been obliged to increase departmental charges in order to make up the leeway.
The Leader of the Opposition spoke at length about war pensions. He said that neither the Government nor the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) was sympathetic towards war pensioners. I have handled a number of cases on behalf of ex-servicemen, and invariably 1 have received the greatest consideration and courtesy from departmental officials, who, wherever it is possible to do so, have stretched a point to meet particular cases. Of course, they cannot grant claims out of hand ; they must administer the act. The speech of the Leader of the Opposition consisted mainly of criticism of the Government. “We do not expect praise from the Opposition. However, he made no mention of the outstanding contribution which Australia is making towards the relief of distressed people in other countries under the sponsorship of the United Nations. This year Australia will contribute the sum of 146,000 dollars to the International Labour Organization to help it in its efforts to improve world standards of labour. I remember reading with pleasure the report which Senator Lamp brought back to this country after attending a conference of maritime unions in Seattle. That conference achieved a great deal in raising the general standards to be observed in the provision of lifesaving appliances on sea-going vessels. It prescribed the standards to be observed in the loading and stowing of life-boats and life-belts, and prescribed the provision of the latest safety devices. It is not generally known that the standards observed in this respect by various countries differ to a great degree. Recently, we were made aware of the practice of unscrupulous ship-owners of transferring vessels from the British register, which prescribed high standards to the Panamanian register. Vessels on the latter register are not obliged to observe very high standards in respect of safety measures, or wages and conditions of employment of crews. This year Australia will contribute the sum of 1.25,000 dollars to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which has undertaken the work of establishing a fairer allocation of world food production. That problem has assumed tremendous importance in view of the growth of world population. For instance, the population of Japan alone is increasing at the rate of over 2,000,000 a year. That is an average increase of 38,164 monthly. Assuming that half of thai number are males, it means that eighteen years hence the number of men coming of age in Japan each month will be sufficient to form a division. In the meantime, of course, that rate of increase may be stepped up still further. Last nigh honorable senators had an opportunity to witness a film showing what could be done in the development of the Murray Valley. Such plans could be multiplied one hundredfold in many other countries. The world must face up to the problem of food distribution. For many centuries the population of Asiatic countries has been depleted by famine and disease. Ii can be said to Australia’s credit that we have done much to help the people of Asiatic countries, apart altogether from the contributions which we are now making through the United Nations for that purpose. However, not one word of praise of the Government has been uttered in that respect. This year Australia will contribute the sum of 92,000 dollars to the World Health Organization, which is engaged in research with the object of combating diseases that beset mankind. We were afforded an example of the work being done by that organization during the last few. days when we were afforded the opportunity to undergo skin tests for the detection of tuberculosis. International health organizations are pooling their knowledge of medical science in order to evolve the best means of combating disease. The items which I have mentioned involve Australia in an annual expenditure of approximately £400,000 sterling. That is a worthy contribution from a country with so small a population. Those organizations are striving to bring about a happier existence for the peoples of the world.
The Leader of the Opposition complained yesterday that, in talking about increased production, honorable senator? on this side of the chamber had referred only to money values, instead of to actual quantities. I shall present some interesting comparisons in terms of quantities to show that in many spheres production is now at record levels. Last season we produced 219,000,000 bushels of wheat, of which 145,100,000 bushels were exported, the latter quantity including 45,600,000 bushels in the form of flour. We exported more than half of our total production of wheat, and we did so with the object of helping to feed the starving peoples of other countries. Last season, Australia’s milk production totalled 1,100,068,000 gallons, which was an increase of 88,500,000 gallons over the production for 1947. Our milk production last year was the highest since 1940. People who are not aware of how that milk is consumed wonder why the Government still continues to ration butter. Much of that milk is used for the manufacture of baby foods. In Tasmania bulk milk wagons patrol the roads in dairying areas and transport milk from the farms to the factories of CadburyFryPascall Proprietary Limited at Claremont and the Ovaltine company at Devenport, where the milk is converted into the foods which are just as nutritious as is butter. When we consider the quantity of Bournvita, Ovaltine and milk powder that is made from whole milk, we realize that the dairy industry is pulling its weight and that its production is being used to the best advantage. In addition, the consumption of milk as a beverage has increased tremendously. When I was a boy, very few milk bars were to be seen in any largesized town, but, to-day, milk bars are operated in practically every street in every town of any size. A large quantity of milk is also used in the manufacture of ice cream, the consumption of which has increased by 1000 , Der cent, since the beginning of the recent war. Manufacturers now distribute ice cream throughout the Commonwealth by air. Those facts explain why, despite the increase of milk production, it is necessary to retain butter rationing. In 1945-46, our meat production totalled 805,307 tons. In the following year, that figure increased to 9S5,201 tons and in 1947-48 to 942,143 tons, or an increase of approximately 136,836 tons within that period of two years. I have stated the facts in relation to meat. There can be no doubt that there has been a considerable increase of production. In addition to carcass meat, Australia exports 96,600,000 lb. of bully beef, camp pie and other canned meat annually. This has required the investment of a tremendous amount of wealth and energy in the meat processing and packing industry. 1 recall that the bully beef that was supplied to us in the armed forces during the war was superior in quality, texture and flavour to the canned meat from Argentina supplied to the United Kingdom forces and that supplied from Chicago and elsewhere in their home country to the United States forces. In fact, American servicemen often tried to “ swop “ pork meat for what they called our “ best red beef “. That fact speaks volumes for the quality of the Australian product. The Government has not desisted from its efforts to increase meat production. In conjunction with the United Kingdom Government, it has launched a vast scheme for meat production in northern Australia, and it plans to restock huge areas of grazing land, build new roads, sink bores and do everything else possible to produce meat in everincreasing quantities so that the people of Great Britain may obtain all the food that they need from within the Empire, instead of remaining at the mercy of Argentina or any other country outside the sterling group. We have heard a great deal in the last two days about dingoes, “ Bengal tigers “ and other destructive animals. In my opinion, many reports about these pests are greatly exaggerated. I compare the so-called Bengal tiger to a Persian pussy cat. Dingoes may be a pest in northern Queensland, but they are not beyond the control of pastoralists.
Another avenue of food production that this Government is helping to exploit is the fishing industry. The fisheries division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization employs marine biologists who have been working for many years to determine the habits of school fish and other edible fish. They have travelled around our coast in trawlers, mapped breeding grounds, and charted the courses that fish follow in their migratory movements. Their researches have disclosed that Australia has a potentially great fishprocessing industry. We are now exporting considerable quantities of canned fish to the United Kingdom, although, at the same time, strangely enough, we receive Scotch herrings and other fish foods from the United Kingdom. The industry began to develop under war-time conditions, when a great deal of money was expended by fishermen on the construction of special types of vessels. The Government also became involved when it provided finance to enable ex-servicemen to enter the industry. It established a fisheries school in New South Wales for the benefit of ex-servicemen. Unfortunately, those men have been forced into a difficult position by competition from overseas, particularly from South Africa, where large quantities of fish are caught and processed by cheap coloured labour. I was pleased to learn to-day that the Government is investigating the situation with a view to protecting the Australian industry, which is very important to our economy. I hope that a campaign will be begun soon to publicize the value of fish as a food. About one-third of the diet of people in Europe consists of fish, but an Australian considers that he is getting ‘plenty of it if he eats one fish meal a fortnight. The people of Great Britain have been forced by food shortages to fall back upon fish as a staple part of their diet, and they would have had to co hungry indeed but for the magnificient efforts of their trawler fishermen.
Honorable senators opposite have overlooked the importance of the Government’s immigration policy. There is a huge human reservoir in Europe from which many nations are drawing new citizens. Canada, Argentina, South Africa, and many other countries with open spaces are competing to attract migrants from Europe. The Australian Government has expended a great deal of money in sending special teams of immigration officers to Europe, providing accommodation here for newcomers, and taking over and reconditioning ships for the transport of immigrants. In my opinion, that money has been well inverted and will return great dividends in the future. We must increase our population. Our natural resources are almost limitless, but they will not develop . themselves. We must have human hearts and hands to do the work, and we need people who will absorb our tradition* and customs and settle down happily to the task of developing the nation. I am heartened by the thought that these nen Australians will work for the country, and perhaps, if the need should eve arise, take part in its defence. The Opposition has taken advantage of thi.’ debate, not for the purpose of saying or doing anything constructive, but simply as a means of attacking the Government and criticizing it? policy. In the circumstances, it if not to be wondered at that we look forward to the continued confidence of the people in the Govern ment. 1 have no doubt that we shall remain in power for many years to connso that we may carry out our progressive policies. I wholeheartedly support the bill.
– I listened with interest to tinLeader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) yesterday, especially when he referred to industrial production and to the pensions and allowances paid to permanently and totally incapacitated ex-servicemen and war widows. Like the honorable senator, I have been interested in service pensions since 1920 I know that the honorable, gentleman ha.interested himself in exservicemen’sorganizations and done everything in hi* power to help them. But a brief examination of the facts discloses that Labour governments have done more for exservice pensioners since 1943 than was done by anti-Labour governments in twenty years. There can be no doubthat the present Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) is very sympathetic towards ex-servicemen. When he visited Perth recently, the good impression of ex-service organizations in Western Australia regarding his interest in their affairs was confirmed. They were completely satisfied with his explanation of the Government’s policy in relation to pensions. Labour governments have increased pensions by approximately 30 per cent, during the last six or seven years. For twenty years prior to that, antiLabour governments did not attempt to increase pensions. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that pension rates are not so high as we could wish, but, in the light of the facts, we can reasonably claim that this Government has clone a great deal to improve the lot of pensioners. The honorable gentleman spoke of the cost of living. We know that the cost of living has increased, and we also know that age and invalid pensioners receive much less than is paid to permanently and totally incapacitated exservicemen and therefore suffer considerably as the result of rising costs. Agc and invalid pensioners are paid only 42s. 6d. a week, whereas incapacitated ex-servicemen are paid about £4 or £5 a week, with additional allowances for wives and children. The Leader of the Opposition said that the war widows’ pension rate was inadequate. One honorable senator has referred to the extra allowances that are paid to war widows for their dependent children. Those with the largest families deserve the greatest consideration. During the war many young servicemen who were living in camps married, and in many instances their wives lived with in-laws and continued working at their jobs. Some, of course, had their own homes. Unfortunately, many of those men were subsequently killed in action. Their widows are entitled to the utmost consideration, particularly those with children. Such mothers should be guaranteed a decent standard of living. War widows without children are receiving £3 a week, and many of them are still pursuing their former occupations. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) has given the utmost consideration to the claims of all war widows. Although the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) has criticized the Government with relation to repatriation generally, let us consider what the Government has done. No less than 250,000 ex-service men and women have been supplied with tools of trade. In addition a trainee scheme has operated for a number of years in connexion with all trades and professions. According to figures recently released by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) that has cost the Government over £80,000,000. As an ex-serviceman of World War I., I well remember what the Government of the day did for the ex-servicemen then. The trainee scheme operated to only a very limited extent on a basis not to be compared with the basis of the present scheme. In 1920 the trainees were trained for approximately six months and then allotted to employers. In many instances when the employers realized subsequently that those trainees were about to qualify for payment as full tradesmen the men were retrenched, and they had to find employment elsewhere. The employers would then apply for more trainees and pay them only 40 per cent, of the journeyman’s wage. This Government has taken steps to ensure that unscrupulous, employers shall not be permitted to employ trainees for two years or three years at a low wage and dismiss them when they are about to qualify for full rates. Those few employers who have not honoured their agreement with the Government have been blacklisted and will not be allotted any more trainees. The Government has also made ample provision for exservicemen desiring to go on the land. Up to date the scheme has cost the Government about £35,000,000. Nearly 8,000 men have been trained for rural pursuits and about 10,000 ex-servicemen have been granted re-establishment loans of £750 each to enable them to commence agricultural production. Living allowances payable to such men during the first year on their farms have averaged about £1S0 each. That is a free gift from the Government. Under the War Service Land Settlement Scheme approval has been given for the acquisition of 8,000,000 acres of land, sufficient for 4,000 exservicemen. Areas which will ensure a high standard of living for those men and their families will be allotted. Many of those servicemen were in dead-end jobs before the war. After war service a lot of them returned fit whilst others were disabled. The Government has done everything possible to assist both types of exservicemen. They have been provided with training in the trade of their choice. If the ex-serviceman was a rural worker before enlistment he has been provided with facilities to study farming methods and then undertake practical farming.
Between 1920 and 1939, there were many variations of the basic wage. In Western Australia the rate fluctuated between £3 19s. and £5 7s. 6d. a week during the period that Liberal governments were in office. At no time were they sympathetic to the returned servicemen of World War I. If they had had the interests of those men at heart increases would have been made in the pension rate when the basic wage was increased. One has only to visit the repatriation hospitals to learn of the hardships that are being endured by the ex-servicemen of World War I. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the pensions payable to those men should in many instances be increased, and I should gladly support any move in that direction because I consider that in view of the increase of the cost of living higher rates should be paid to them. When dealing with production in Australia the Leader of the Opposition mentioned specifically steel, coal, wire, and wire netting. At present there is full employment in this country. That was not so in bygone years. I well remember long queues of men waiting outside factories and workshops for employment during the depression years. However, every industry in this country is now flourishing and numerous requests have been received for the supply of additional -labour. The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) is endeavouring to bring large numbers of migrants to. Australia and to place them in industry. Thousands of jobs have yet to be filled. It is unfortunately true that to a degree our rural industries are suffering. In many instances men who followed rural occupations prior to the war do not now feel disposed to return to that type of work, for the reason that they can secure more remunerative jobs in the industrial areas. Those men will not return to farming pursuits unless some encouragement is given to them.
Steel is in short supply at present and is being imported from England at a high cost. Although the price of Australian steel supplied by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is only £20 a ton, a firm in Western Australia has been obliged to import steel from England at a cost of £60 a ton because of the shortage of supplies in Australia. It is for that reason that the Minister for Immigration has negotiated with the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to place 300 or 400 migrants in that company’s steel works. I deplore the criticism of the Opposition in this matter. It continually claims that there is low production in the steel industry. That is not so. Although the men individually are performing maximum production, unfortunately the factories are only in half production. The blast furnaces at Newcastle and Broken Hill have been lying idle for years.
– That is because there is insufficient labour available to fill the jobs. I am quite sure that the manager of that company would confirm my assertion if the honorable senator cares to interview him about the matter. As I have already said, that is the reason why the Minister wishes to put about 400 Bait labourers into that industry. It is not because men are on strike and all that sort of tommy-rot.
– What about coal production ?
– That is always the cry of the Opposition. A political football is always made of coal and communism issues.
– The Opposition has little else to talk about.
– There is definitely a shortage of labour. I am convinced that the production of steel will be increased tremendously within twelve months of the Bait labourers entering the industry. My remarks apply equally to the wire netting industry, which is one of the “ sweat “ industries of Australia. Thousands of tons of wire rods are available but unfortunately when the wire has been pulled from those rods, and the netting completed, in many instances zinc is not available for galvanizing. I recollect that during the last sessional period of the Parliament the works of Lysaghts were closed for about three weeks because of a shortage of zinc supplies. During that time many men were idle and urgently needed supplies of wire netting were held up. The reason why manufacturers cannot obtain galvanizing material is that zinc is not available.
Honorable senators will recall that during a recent discussion in this chamber concerning the shortage of zinc, it was revealed that a substantial proportion of Australian zinc was being exported because the local price was only £24 a ton, against the overseas price of £109 a ton. Because of the inadequate supply of zinc sufficient galvanized wire and wire netting is not being manufactured in Australia. It is clear, therefore, that the scarcity of wire and wire netting is not due to strikes, but to the operation of the profit-making motive on the zinc companies. If the Government had prevented the export of zinc the Leader of the Opposition, who is a grazier, and the Liberal party, whose members in the Parliament are the direct representatives of vested interests in this country, would have had a great deal to say. Another factor in retarding the production of galvanized material is the conditions under which the work is done. It is carried on in plants that are dirty and impose the maximum discomfort on the workers, many of whom have to wear filters over their mouths. The workers are driven by the operation of a bonus system. but the employers have fixed a high figure as the minimum output so that the workers have to sweat to earn a bonus. Because the unpleasant conditions of the industry are well known to workers, it is difficult to attract men to it. It is up to the employers to improve substantially the conditions under which the work is done if they hope to attract more workers, and thereby increase production.
A great deal has been said by members of the Opposition from time to time about the allegedly irresponsible strikes of the coal-miners, and it is suggested that the miners are wholly responsible for the inadequate production of coal. Only this afternoon I was speaking to a friend from Western Australia of the conditions that obtain in the coal mine at Collie in that State, and we both agreed that because of the appalling conditions under which the miners have to work, it is extraordinary that the mine has not experienced more strikes. In portions of the mine which I have seen the miners have to work in slush which is inches deep. [ accompanied a judge of the Arbitration Court on an inspection of the mine, and
I know the conditions at first hand. Whilst I understand that the conditions of miners in New South Wales and Victoria have been improved considerably in recent years, honorable senators should realize that a great deal remains to be done to bring their conditions up to a proper standard. Statistics of current coal production indicate that it is surprisingly high when compared with the number of miners employed. Fewer miners are working in the pits than ever previously was the case, and their numbers will continue to decrease. Because of the dangerous and unpleasant nature of the work miners’ sons will not follow their fathers into the pits. The only way by which we can obtain more labour for our coal mines is to bring .to this country more people from overseas, and divert them to the industry. Many of the migrants who have come to this country have lived for years under conditions which would be absolutely intolerable to Australians, and they would probably not object to working in the mines for a few years. Most of the interruptions to the production of coal are due not to the miners but to the pinpricking tactics adopted by the mine owners. I am certain that the Liberal party does not want the mines of this country to work to full capacity because a shortage of coal affords them an excellent opportunity to belabour the present Government, and the members of that party can be relied upon to do their utmost to foster discontent in the coalmining industry between now and the date of the general election.
A great deal has been said by members of the Opposition about the shortage of housing accommodation, but every honorable senator knows that the Government has done its utmost, by providing funds and technical advice to State housing authorities, to overcome the problem. In the field of housing accommodation, the National Government is restricted to the construction of war service homes, and it has done its utmost, despite the shortage of labour and materials to expedite the construction of those homes.
– The Commonwealth Government is at a further disadvantage because it has no control over the distribution of building materials.
– That is why the War Service Homes Commission can build only approximately one house to every ten houses erected by State Housing commissions. The acute shortage of housing material is indicated by the fact that in Western Australia imported cement, which costs from 13s. 6d. to 14s. 6d. a bag, has to be used because the local cement, which is at least the equal of the imported cement and costs only 5s. or 6s. a bag, is not available in sufficient quantities. Timber is also in short supply. The reason for the scarcity of timber is very similar to that which explains the shortage of galvanized material and coal. Working and living conditions in the timber belt of Western Australia, where most of our building timber is obtained, are so bad that workers cannot be attracted to the industry in sufficient numbers to enable even the local demand for timber to be fulfilled. The men who actually fell the standing timber, and- the hands engaged in the spot mills, are living under almost unbelievable conditions, and the State immigration authorities have been compelled to allocate a number of Bait migrants to the industry to stimulate the supply of building timber. So that honorable senators may understand the reason why Australians are not anxious to remain in the industry, I mention that many timber workers in the forest areas have to live in two-roomed shacks that are lighted at night by hurricane lamps. Their women folk are deprived of all the amenities enjoyed by women in the cities, and proper school facilities are not available for their children. The only effort that has been made to improve the conditions of those workers and their families was made by a State Labour administration, which erected some decent houses and provided a proper school for the children. Many of the former timber workers, who were diverted to the cities during the war to engage in the production of munitions and other essential war material, experienced for the first time the amenities available in the cities, and they have no desire to return to the hardships of the timber areas.
The Leader of the Opposition spent some considerable time in addressing him self to the dingo pest in the outback of Queensland, and lie has complained at great length on previous occasions of the Government’s alleged lack of interest in the matter. He said that the pest was causing considerable concern to the squatters in the sheep areas, and he suggested that to combat the dingoes the Government should pay a higher bonus on dingo scalps to trappers. I point out to the honorable senator at once that the mere provision of a bonus, even if it were as high as £5 a scalp, would not accomplish a great deal, because only skilled trappers can destroy any great number of dingoes. Those who used formerly to engage in the trapping of dingoes have long since abandoned that occupation because they are not compelled any longer to obtain a living by that means. Dingo trappers have to live under bower sheds, and subsist on damper and “ tin-dog “. Naturally, no man who has been able to earn a decent livelihood under reasonable conditions is anxious to return to such a life. It h obvious, therefore, that men cannot be lured to the outback to trap dingoes by the mere payment of substantial bonuses. When the Leader of the Opposition appealed to the Government to encourage men to seek a livelihood trapping dingoes he must have been thinking of “ the good old days “ of the Lyons Administrations, when from 10 to 12 per cent, of our population were unemployed and were glad of the offer of a job at only 10s. a week, even if they had to travel 1,000 miles to obtain it. Times have altered since then, and workers now insist on a decent standard of living. In conclusion I emphasize the importance, should a depression occur in the future, of the Government’s national construction programme, which will he sufficient to provide employment for the whole community. This comprehensive plan, which embraces every phase of the national effort, provides for the expenditure, if necessary, of £400,000,000 to withstand the effects on our local economy of any depression overseas. The implementation of that plan will ensure that Australians shall not again be compelled to seek sustenance payments of 143. a week. I congratulate the Government on its achievements, and I support the bill.
– -I am happy to support this measure, which will give to the Government the finance necessary to carry on the magnificent work that it has done throughout the entire period for which it has had a mandate from the people to govern this country. From now until the day of the forthcoming general election, every effort will be made by Labour’s political opponents to discredit the Labour Government. We shall have opposed to as all the power of the press and the radio, and all the influence and affluence of the anti-Labour parties. The people will be told that the Labour Government has been a miserable failure. I propose, therefore, to review some of the achievements of this Government since it assumed office. How was it that the Labour party came to be entrusted with the national administration at a time when it . had not a majority in either House of this legislature? Its accession to power was due entirely to the inability of the then Government to administer the affairs of the country in a time of national crises. I defy any member of the Opposition to deny the truth of that assertion. How well satisfied the people of the Commonwealth are with Labour’s administration is amply demonstrated by the depleted ranks of the Opposition in the Senate to-day. At the 1943 elections, many members of the parties which so grossly mismanaged the affairs of this country for so many years Dr,or to the war were swept from the Parliament. In 1946, the Opposition in this chamber was reduced to three. It is obvious that, in spite of all that has been said about Labour’s alleged maladministration, the people of this country are well content with the rule of the present Government. Let us consider for a moment the grave responsibilities which, in 1941, were placed upon the shoulders of a body of men, most of whom had never before had an opportunity to administer the affairs of this nation. Only twice in the history of federation has Labour been given an opportunity to govern, and on both occasions we were fighting for our very existence as a nation. In 1941, Labour was called upon to stear the entire country to a total war effort. The war was not going very well for the Allies. Our troops were badly armed. Our shores were inadequately defended, and there was little hope that Great Britain could give us any material assistance should we be attacked. Having accepted the responsibility of defending Australia, the Labour Government sought the aid of the United States of America. The previous Administration had failed in its duty to regiment this country for a full-scale war effort. However, as a result of the splendid efforts of John Curtin and his colleagues, America came to our assistance, and the result is now history. The Battle of the Coral Sea saved Australia from the horrors of a Japanese invasion. ] venture to suggest that no other administration could have succeeded as Labour did in preparing the minds of working people of this country to accept not only industrial conscription but also military conscription for service inside and outside the Commonwealth. The Menzies and Fadden Administrations had failed to win the confidence of the great industrial movement in this country, and it was left to Labour to introduce conscription measures.
– For within territorial limits.
– The people of the Commonwealth had so little confidence in the anti-Labour administrations in the early days of the war, that they were not prepared to accept any form of direction, but, realizing that new, active, and virile leaders had assumed control of the country’s destinies, they were prepared to place their services at the disposal of the nation unreservedly. Australia’s total war effort involved not only conscription, but also the rationing of essential commodities that were in short supply. The Government’s rationing plans were severely criticized. Nevertheless, they enabled every member of the community, regardless of his station in life, to share equally in the goods that were available. Unfortunately the High Court’s decision that the Commonwealth no longer has power to ration petrol may be the death knell of other rationing schemes still in operation. An endeavour is being made to convince the people of this country that the High Court’s decision is a slap in the face for the Chifley Government. Nothing could be further from the truth. I recall that during recent referendum campaigns, when increased powers were sought for the Commonwealth, supporters ofan affirmative vote pointed out that a successful challenge of the Commonwealth’s defence powers in the High Court might mean the end of the Commonwealth’s effort to ensure a fair distribution of commodities that are still in short supply. That fear has now become very real, and there is a grave danger that moneyed people will enjoy an advantage over their less fortunate fellow-citizens in the purchase of scarce items. Some authority must be set up to ensure that no motorist, regardless of his means, will be deprived of a supply of petrol at least equal to that to which he is entitled under the rationing plan. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Armstrong) agreed to-
That theSenate, at its rising, adjourn to Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Armstrong) pro posed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– A couple of months ago, Senator O’Byrne and I were asked to inquire into a dispute that had occurred at Grassy, on King Island. We arranged to receive a deputation from the men, but as they were working all day we could do so only in the evening. We received the deputation at 8 o’clock and concluded our discussion at 9.30 o’clock. The ordinary bus service from Grassy to Currie, which is a distance of 15 miles, does not run in the evening and as no accommodation is available at Grassy we had to arrange for the bus to make a special trip to Grassy to return us to our hotel at Currie. For that trip the bus proprietor charged £2 10s., that is, £1 5s. each. In view of the fact that we had no option but to arrange that special service I applied to the Department of the Interior for a refund of that charge. Up to the present my claim has not been granted and I am at a loss to understand why the department should take so long to make up its mind on so simple a matter. As a reasonable time has elapsed since I made my application, I request the Minister for Supply and Development (Senator Armstrong) to take up the matter with the Department of the Interior.
– Senator Morrow and I recently had an experience in circumstances similar to those described by Senator Lamp. We went from Currie to Grassy to interview representatives of the employees at the scheelite mine at the latter centre, and we were obliged to engage the bus to make a special trip from Currie to take us back to our hotel at that town. In circumstances of that kind, I do not think that the department should cavil at refunding expenses which honorable senators incur unavoidably while engaged on government business. Therefore, I support the representations made by Senator Lamp in this matter.
. - in reply - I shall bring to the notice of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) the matter which Senator Lamp and Senator Murray have raised. I believe that when an honorable senator incurs travelling expenses in circumstances in which ordinary transport services are not available, he should be refunded such expenditure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1949 -
No. 35 - Federated Clerks’ Union of Australia.
No. 36 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 37 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 38 - Printing Industry Employees’ Union of Australia.
No. 39 - Hospital Employees’ Federation of Australasia.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of the Interior - D. D. Best, N. S. Conrad.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) ActNational Security (Industrial Property)
Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (18).
National Security (Prices) Regulations - Order- No. 3430.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for-
Defence purposes - Wacol, Queensland.
Postal purposes - Tathra, New South Wales.
Senate adjourned at 9.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 9 June 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1949/19490609_senate_18_202/>.