18th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator theHon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following ‘bills reported : -
War Service Homes Bill 1949.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1949.
International Wheat Agreement Bill 1949.
Post and Telegraph Bates Bill 1949.
– I understand that the Minister for Shipping and Fuel now has available a reply to the request I made last week that’ the Government provide financial assistance for the maintenance of water brigades at Lismore, Grafton and South Grafton, which did such wonderful work in the national interest during the recent floods in those areas.
– Supplementing my interim replies to the honorable senator on the 8th June and the 30th June, I now advise him that the Government is unable to provide funds for such a purpose. Assistance in the supply of equipment to water brigades is essentially a matter for the municipal or State authorities concerned; it is outside the scope of Commonwealth responsibility.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether the Government, with the object of stimulating and encouraging Australian music, will request the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to take up with the Australian Broadcasting Commission the question of conducting annual national championships in music and singing, such competitions to include contests for soprano, contralto, tenor, baritone, and bass voices, and contests in the instrumental section for piano, violin, flute, clarionet, saxophone, trumpet and trombone? Will the Government consider making available the necessary funds to send the most promising competitors overseas each year for further training?
– I shall furnish « reply to the honorable senator’s question as soon as possible.
Reconstruction Training Scheme
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction indicate what progress has been made in the establishment of textile training colleges in Victoria and New South Wales which the Secondary Industries Commission recommended should be set up?
– Considerable progress has been made in the establishment of textile training colleges in both Victoria and New South Wales. Sites for the requisite buildings have been set aside by the governments of those States at Preston, near ‘Melbourne, and at Daceyville, in .Sydney. The post of principal at each college was advertised abroad, and the successful applicants have been obtained .from abroad. They aro now in Australia and are engaged in supervising the erection of the necessary buildings and the selection and ordering of the necessary plant and equipment. I understand that the Public Works Department in each of the two States is preparing the necessary plans and is pressing forward with the work. The honorable senator will be interested to know that the Australian Government is playing a very active part in the development of these colleges. It has contributed to each of them the sum of £50,000 in respect of the capital cost of buildings, and a further sum of £50,000 for -Hie. purchase of equipment. The Government expects that both these colleges will play a very large part in its Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme. It may take about two years before the colleges will be fully in operation on a permanent basis. The Minister for Labour and National Service is the Commonwealth Minister most immediately concerned with the task of establishing the. colleges and getting them into operation.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction whether he can inform me how many trainees under the Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme, (a) have completed their training; (o) are still being trained; and (c) have been accepted for training, but have not yet commenced their courses?
– Thanks to the forewarning given by the honorable senator, the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction has informed me that there are three main types of training, namely, university, technical and rural. Approximately 9,000 trainees have completed university training; 36,000 have completed technical training ; and 3,000 have completed rural training. In addition, 15,000 are at present attending universities, 134,000 are undergoing technical training, and 1,000 are being given rural training, making a total of 150,000 at present in training. Approximately 11,000 trainees in the three categories still await training. The total expenditure by the Commonwealth on reconstruction trainees is approximately £33,000,000.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel what action the Government is taking to mako available for essential purposes the quantity of coal, estimated to bc approximately 36,000 tons, now in trucks and at grass in New South Wales? Has the Government taken any steps to import coal with a view to building up future stocks?
– I understand that there is about 36,000 tons of coal at grass in New South Wales, 20,000 tons being on the northern coal-fields and about 16,000 tons at Cullen Bullen on the western coal-field. The Government hae given consideration to the recovery of that coal and also to the importation of coal.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that the chairman of the Joint Coal Board was allotted time by the Australian Broadcasting Commission for a radio broadcast so that he could explain the coal situation as it appeared to him. Is it also a fact that the miners’ federation applied to the Australian Broadcasting Commission for an allotment of time for the purpose of enabling its representatives to state their side of the case? If the answer to each of those questions is in the affirmative, why was the federation refused the same privilege as was granted to the chairman of the Joint Coal Board ?
– An application was made to me on behalf of the miners’ federation, and I informed the applicant that the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial stations had the power to allot broadcasting time. I am not able to say whether an application was subsequently made to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. However, if the honorable senator will give notice of his questions, I shall ascertain the facts and supply them to him.
– Is there any truth in the statements that have been made in the House of Representatives to the effect that, if three shifts were worked in openout mines in New South Wales, a total quantity of between 120,000 and 130,000 tons of coal could be produced from those mines each week?
– Some erroneous and extravagant statements have been made regarding the potential production from open-cut mines. With, all the resources of men and machinery that could be marshalled, the full production capacity of open-cut mines in New South Wales would be 55,000 tons a week. I have noticed that statements have been made in the press and in the House of Representatives that the output from those mines could be increased to 130,000 tons a week. I point out to the Senate that, for every shift worked on the production of coal from open cuts, two shifts have to be worked on the removal of overburden. Even assuming that three shifts were worked as suggested by those who advocate the scheme as a means of solving our problems, it would not be possible to win more than 55,000 tons of coal each week. The project would require the employment of over 1,000 men. It has been suggested that labour should be diverted for such work. I do not think that members of the Australian WorkersUnion would take the place of members of the Australian Engineering Union, the Federated Engine Drivers and Eiremen’s Association and other organizations that are involved’ with the miners’ federation in the coal strike.
– During the past week, conflicting information about the coal-mining industry has been published in newspaper advertisements. The result is that the issues are confused in the minds of many people. Therefore, I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel the following questions: - 1. Is it a fact that miners working in the Broken Hill mines have had a 35-hour week for more than twenty years? 2. Is it a fact that miners working in Western Australian mines have had a 35-hour alternate week for a considerable time? 3. Did the miners’ federation, on the 19th March, lodge with, the central industrial authority a claim seeking a 35-hour week, and was that claim registered with the authority as claim No. 4? 4. Did the miners’ federation on the 21st May, lodge with the Coal Industry Tribunal a claim for a 35-hour week? 5. If the answers to the above questions are in the affirmative, why were decisions not made by the respective authorities on those longstanding applications ? 6. Did the miners’ federation, on the 21st May, 1948, lodge with the Coal Industry Tribunal a claim for long-service leave rights? 7. Was that claim rejected? 8. Was the executive of the miners’ federation prepared to accept in settlement of the claim for long-service leave, provisions similar to those now in force at Wonthaggi?
– I assure the honorable senator that every advertisement that has appeared in the press over the signature of the Prime Minister of this country has contained only factual matter. However, I did see an incorrect advertisement in the Sunday press recently. In view of the extensive information sought by the honorable senator, I ask him to place his question on the notice-paper.
– On the 9th June, 1949, Senator Aylett asked the following question: -
Ib 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?
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answers : -
– On the 29th June, Senator Katz asked a question concerning the steamer Levenpool. I am now able to supply the honorable senator with the following additional information: -
The vessel Levenpool has left Geelong for Melbourne, from which port it will sail for Sydney on the 8th July. There are definitely no repairs to be made to the vessel on account of the Australian Shipping Board, and although some minor maintenance repairs were done at Geelong neither the master nor the agents is aware of any other repairs which would necessitate the vessel remaining in Melbourne.
– I ask the Minister for Health, who is also the Minister for Social Services, the following questions: - 1. Has the Australia-wide survey of existing facilities and needs in the fields of maternal health and infant welfare been completed ? 2. If so, has the Minister yet made any recommendations to Cabinet for nation-wide action on a uniform basis?
– I explained some time ago that a survey was about to be undertaken. That survey has not yet been completed and consequently I am not yet able tj make a recommendation to
Cabinet. However, the honorable senator can rest assured that the importance of the work is recognized by me and also by Cabinet ; indeed the interest of the Government in the matter is evidenced by the fact that it has authorized the making of the survey. The survey has been expedited, and when it is completed I shall not delay in making the necessary recommendations to Cabinet.
– Can the Minister for Health say whether it is correct, as reported in the Brisbane Courier-Mail, that Brisbane doctors cannot obtain supplies of vaccine to immunize children against whooping cough? If so will the Minister ensure that the necessary supplies will be made available to Queensland as soon as possible?
– I was not aware of any difficulty in obtaining supplies of whooping cough vaccine, but if any difficulty exists I shall investigate the causes immediately. Supplies of whooping cough and anti-diphtheria vaccines, which are both prophylactic preparations, are made available free to all bodies in Australia which conduct immunization campaigns. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories was concerned some time ago to ensure that adequate supplies were available. I shall inquire into the reports mentioned by the honorable senator, and if any cause for complaint exists it will be promptly remedied.
– Approximately twelve months ago Tasmanian senators conducted negotiations with the service departments on behalf of Tasmanian servicemen to enable them to obtain air travel from the mainland to Tasmania while on leave, and I understand that the Prime Minister issued instructions that all such personnel should be granted air travel. As I have been informed that the Navy is not carrying out the Prime Minister’s instructions, I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy the following questions: 1. Is it a fact that officers of the Navy can travel from Melbourne to Tasmania by Trans-Australia Airlines when on annual leave whilst ratings cannot? 2. Why does such class distinction operate? 3. Is it a fact that approval was given by the Prime Minister some considerable time ago for all Tasmanian service personnel to travel to their home State by Trans-Australia Airlines while on annual leave?
– The answer to the first question is “ No “, and to the second question “ Yes “. In amplification of those brief answers, I point out that more than twelve months ago approval was given for naval ratings, in common with all Tasmanian members of the services who were proceeding to their homes in Tasmania on leave, to have the option of travelling by air or by sea. That approval covers not only officers of the Navy, but also ratings-
– The ratings do not know it.
– I have been informed by the Minister for the Navy that the approval has been acted upon. It may be that some naval ratings are not aware of their rights. However, I can assure the honorable senator that the approval was given, and that the right may be exercised by ratings as well as by officers.
– Will the Minister ensure that the naval authorities will be instructed to inform the men that they are entitled to free air travel to Tasmania when they are on annual leave?
– I shall be very pleased to convey the honorable senator’s request to the Minister for the Navy. I assure him that the Minister will be happy to ensure that ratings and officers shall be made fully aware of their rights in that matter.
– On the 23rd
June, 1949, Senator O’Byrne asked the following question: -
I point out that the tax of1s. 3d. a lb. which is levied on the sale of rabbit skins to skin dealers in Tasmania is deterring trappers from destroying rabbits in that State. In order to assist in overcoming the rabbit menace will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture consider removing the tax?
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has supplied the following answer : -
A Government tax on sales of rabbit skins to dealers has not at any time operated in Australia. However, since June, 1940, a levy on rabbit skins exported from the Commonwealth has operated at intervals. This levy, which was introduced to finance the Government rabbit skins marketing scheme, was discontinued on the 2nd September, 1948, and the whole scheme has since been terminated. The relatively low prices offering for rabbit skins this winter in all States are due to market factors outside the control of the Commonwealth or State governments.
– Has the Minister for Health received a request from the federal council of the Flying Doctor service for an increase of the present subsidy of £7,500 per annum ? If so, will the Minister sympathetically consider the request because the costs of that organization have increased considerably, and it is most desirable that the service should be extended?
– The federal council of the Flying Doctor service has made a claim for an increase of the subsidy of £7,500 which it receives at present. It has asked that the amount of that subsidy be increased to £22,000 per annum to cover increased operating costs, and for an additional subsidy of £15,000 per annum for a period of three years to help to meet the cost of new buildings and equipment. The National Health Service Act passed by the Parliament towards the end of last year provides that the Director-General of Health may provide or arrange for the provision of medical services. I have no doubt that the claim could be entertained under that provision. I am well aware of the excellent and unique work of the Flying Doctor Service, and I can assure the honorable senator that the claim by the Federal Council of that service will receive full and sympathetic consideration.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction, who administers the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial
Research, Organization, whether his attention has been drawn to an announcement by scientists of the Dairy Research Institute at Reading, England, that a few tasteless tablets containing a new drug “ L Thyroxine “ have raised the average yield of test cows by nearly 5 pints of milk daily? Will the Minister investigate this new drug with a view to ascertaining the possibility of its use in dairy herds in this country?
– I have not seen the report to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, who is in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, will of course, be interested in anything that will increase the yield of milk. The report mentioned by the honorable senator mentions an increased yield of 5 pints daily, which is substantial. Such drugs, however, must be tested thoroughly, because there is always a danger that although the yield of milk may be increased immediately, the result over a long term is not so satisfactory. However, I am sure that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will be most interested in the news. Probably an examination is already being made of the new drug and its effects.
– On the 16th June, Senator Sheehan asked the following question : -
I have read reports in the newspapers recently that certain organizations of wheat growers have accepted the International Wheat Agreement under protest. Will the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture make available to the Senate the grounds on which growers have based their protests? What do they consider to be wrong with the international agreement?
The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture has now supplied the following answer : -
The Commonwealth Government consulted the Australian Wheat Growers Federation, which is representative of the majority of Australian wheat farmers, and the terms of the International Wheat Agreement were fully outlined. The views of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation were conveyed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in the following telegram, received on 18th March, 1949:-
At Conference held Melbourne 17/3/49 re International Wheat Agreement the following resolutions were carried: After considering a full report of the General Secretary on the International Wheat Agreement and the information obtained the Australian Wheat Federation had cause to believe that the International Wheat Agreement may be arranged by the other exporting nations (1) that in any Agreement so arranged between Canada, United States and Russia, Australia cannot afford to remain out as India and other nearby markets to Australia would be partially lost by Australia to other exporting signatories, (2) that we are seriously perturbed at the attitude of the United Kingdom in forcing down world price of wheat to a ceiling of 180 cents. The Australian Wheat Growers Federation to cable a protest to the representatives of the United Kingdom at Washington on this point. (3) That there appears to be no alternative but to remain in an agreement. (4) That the A.W.F. holds the opinion that a reasonable ceiling would be 200 cents, however we point out that we a.re forced to accept a ceiling of 180 cents. We do so on conditions that the greater proportion of the nearby markets to Australia are preserved to Australia under the quotas. (5) The A.W.F. demand that the Federation be kept in touch with every phase of the proposed International Wheat Agreement and further that we demand a representative of the Federation be sent to Washington forthwith and the Commonwealth Government pay the expenses of our Representative. (0) That in the event of the Government agreeing that a delegate can be transported to Washington in time and is prepared to pay his expenses that this Federation nominates Mr. Stott to represent the A.W.F. at Washington.
– Will the Minister for Social Services inform the Senate of the rights of a person who desires to obtain free medicine under the Commonwealth pharmaceutical benefits scheme? When he presents himself to the doctor for treatment, does he have to request the doctor to write his prescription on the prescribed form so that he may obtain his medicine free of charge?
– At present, it is not compulsory for a doctor to prescribe from the formulary although there is nothing to prevent a patient from asking a doctor to do so. The doctor may then please himself whether he complies with the request. However, that position will be altered when the pharmaceutical benefits legislation recently passed by the Parliament becomes operative. Incidentally, I inform the Senate that it is likely that the amending legislation will be proclaimed within the next few days, to take effect from a later date this month. Upon the proclamation of the act, there will be a clear obligation on doctors, if they decide to prescribe medicines contained in the formulary, to write their prescriptions on a Commonwealth form, and so make the medicines free to the patients. Therefore, in respect of any prescription contained in the formulary, it will not be necessary for a patient to request his doctor to use the Commonwealth form. The doctor will be under an obligation to do so, and thus make the medicine free. The Senate will recall, however, that there is a provision whereby, for any reason that seems proper to a patient, he may ask that the doctor prescribe for him outside the scheme. Thus, the patient himself, but not the doctor, may contract out of the scheme. The patient must originate the request if he wishes to be dealt with outside the scheme in relation to a compound or specific that is contained in the formulary.
– As there has been no meeting of the advisory committee on the Japanese peace settlement for over fifteen months, and in view of the latest developments in international affairs, will the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs consider re-convening that committee, so that its investigations may be brought up to date by discussing outstanding problems which are militating against an early and final peace settlement?
– I am aware that the committee gave a great deal of consideration to the problem of the Japanese peace settlement and that its efforts were greatly appreciated by the Minister for External Affairs. There is talk at present of broaching the question of a peace treaty with Japan, and I shall bring the honorable senator’s request to the notice of the Minister and will leave it to him to give full consideration to it.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whetherhe will make a recommendation to the Treasurer that much larger sums of money than usual be allocated to the National Fitness Council from now until the date of the Olympic games which I understand will be held in Australia in 1956. A tremendous amount of work will devolve upon the National Fitness Council in preparing athletes; some of whom are now only boys and girls, for participation in the games, and I hope that the Treasurer will do something to encourage its work.
– I shall have the honorable senator’s request brought to the,notice of the Treasurer.
Reciprocal Arrangement with New Zealand.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repartiation, upon notice -
In view of the statement made in the Senate on the 29th June by the Minister for Health and Social Services regarding the reciprocal arrangement made between the New Zealand and Australian Governments in respect of social services benefits, will the Government negotiate with the New Zealand Government with a view to reaching a similar agreement in regard to service pensions?
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer: -
Preliminary inquiries are being made as to the practicability of a reciprocal arrangement by the Australian and New Zealand Governments in respect of service pensions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Housing, upon notice -
-. - The attention of the New South Wales Minister for Justice, the Honorable R. R. Downing, has been drawn to the questions asked by the honorable senator, and he has been asked to supply whatever information is possible. The honorable senator will be further advised when a reply is received from the State Minister for Justice.
Trades Training - Housekeeper’s Allowance
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has supplied the following answers : -
Highly skilled trades. - Blacksmith and welder, bricklayer, carpenter and joiner, draughtsman, engine fitter, telegraph mechanic, electrician, fitter and turner, instrument mechanic, telecommunications mechanic, vehicle mechanic, radio mechanic, plumber and pipe- fitter.
Other trades. - Clerk, cook, earth-moving equipment operator, lineman, textile refitter, projectionist, stevedoring trades.
Time does not permit basic trade training being given to Commonwealth Military Forces personnel, and men enlisted for trade postings in the Commonwealth Military Forces must be tradesmen. However, these men have their trade knowledge broadened by training on complicated Army equipments.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will the Minister consider the granting to permanent members of the forces who are widowers with dependent children a housekeeper’s allowance equivalent to that of a wife, so that such children may be adequately cared for in their own homes?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer : -
Under the post-war pay code for the forces provision exists for a widower maintaining his own home for his children with the aid of a housekeeper to receive allowances on the same basis as a married member.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Will the Minister indicate whether the Government is prepared to re-constitute the Joint Parliamentary Committee of Returned Soldier Senators and Members with a view to its examination and report on existing rates of war pensions payable under the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act?
– The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer: -
The Government’s attitude in this matter was explained in a statement on 24th June last by the Prime Minister, who said: -
At one time a joint parliamentary select committee was appointed to examine matters relating to war pensions. No such examination has been made for a number of years now. Although I am prepared to consider the matter of the reconstitution of such a committee, my mind, at the moment, is opposed to that procedure at this stage. The general principles laid down by the former committee, of which the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture was chairman, have been generally followed, and reviews of the rates of war pensions have been made from time to time without any reference to any committee, resulting in some increases of those pensions being granted. I am prepared to examine the honorable member’s suggestion, but I repeat that at the moment I am not in favour of making any recommendation to the Government that such a committee should be reestablished at this stage.
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
Special Leave. - The grant of special leave with pay, subject to the prescribed conditions, is at the discretion of chief officers of departments. Permanent officers may be granted up to three days special leave in any twelve months. Temporary employees may be granted special leave under the following conditions : -
Motion (by Senator Ashley) put -
That Standing Order 68 be suspended up to and including Friday, the 8th July next, to enable new business to he commenced after 10.30 p.m.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators present, and no dissentient voice, I declare the question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Armstrong) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I should like it to be clearly understood that the purpose of this bill is to maintain what every Australian has understood to have been the law of the land for the past 48 years. The bill is designed to continue the administration of the Immigration Act according to the interpretation of it that was thought to be correct by governments of differing political complexions throughout the whole of those 48 years, until a recent High Court judgment revealed that the act had certain weaknesses never before disclosed. There has been a great deal of controversy over certain events which have led to the introduction of this bill, and the voices of the Communists, the seekers after cheap labour and the sentimentalists, have been loud in the land. But, so far as the Senate is concerned, there can hardly be any argument at all about the purposes of the bill or its necessity. Our policy of restricted immigration simply cannot be maintained if certain recently discovered flaws in the original Immigration Restriction Act are not corrected. Any person who opposes the bill must, by so doing, label himself a disbeliever in any effective restriction where immigration is concerned, and one who wishes to destroy the living standards and way of life that have been built up in this nation in little more than a century and a half. The Immigration Restriction Act, which came into operation in 1901, made provision for the grant of certificates which exempted the holders from the provisions of the act and thereby enabled persons, who otherwise would be prohibited from landing, to enter Australia for a stipulated period. This system, which has since continued to operate, has proved highly satisfactory in every respect. It has enabled arrangements to be concluded with the governments of Asian countries under which their nationals can be admitted as businessmen, students and tourists without infringing the basic principle on which our immigration policy is based. In this way, the system has made
HO small contribution towards the development of trade and the maintenance of friendly relations with our northern neighbours. The grant of certificates of exemption is not, however, confined to non-Europeans but has been, and is, widely used in connexion with the admission of Europeans, both British and nonBritish. In particular, it has enabled the immigration authorities to permit the entry of those persons who were technically prohibited immigrants under the restrictive provisions of immigration legislation, but whose admission could not well be denied on humanitarian grounds. The system has the added advantage that it enabled the immigration authorities to exercise full control over the persons admitted under its provisions during the whole period of their stay in Australia. On all counts, therefore, it is most desirable that the principles on which the system is based and which have operated so successfully over 48 years should continue unchanged.
In the administration of the system, it has always been the practice to grant certificates of exemption without actually declaring the person concerned to be a prohibited immigrant or subjecting him or her to a dictation test. In its recent judgment on the case of an Ambonese woman, the High Court, however, laid it down that the act as it now stands provides that if a person is admitted to Australia without being declared a prohibited immigrant at the time of entry or has not been subjected to and failed to pass a dictation test, he or she cannot lawfully be issued with a certificate of exemption. The High Court judgment has very farreaching effects. What it means is that thousands of certificates of exemption which have been issued to occidentals and orientals are ineffective. It means that grantees who have been here for five years or longer - and a substantial number of non-Europeans admitted under specific conditions come within this class - have completely passed from the control of the immigration authorities, unless and until amending legislation is enacted to rectify this situation. In the case of those who have been here less than five years, it will be necessary, in order to retain control over them, to subject each one to a dictation test and on failure to pass the test, to issue them with fresh certificates of exemption. Some idea of the magnitude of this task will be gained from the fact that there are over 35,000 Europeans alone, widely spread throughout the Commonwealth, now here under exemption. The judgment will also affect the administrative procedure of the Department of Immigration in regard to future applications for the admission of non-Europeans, displaced persons of European origin and certain other classes of migrants. To ensure that control may be exercised over such persons, it will be necessary to have them declared prohibited immigrants at the time of entry or alternatively to apply a dictation test shortly after landing before they can be issued with certificates of exemption. Either procedure would be objectionable in principle and would give rise to serious administrative difficulties. If the principles which have underlaid our immigration policy since federation are to be preserved and if we are to maintain a full measure of control over those we admit to our shores, it is imperative that action be taken to validate the position as regards the certificates of exemption granted -.to those already here and to remove any administrative obstacles in the way of those arriving in future. Unless such action is taken, our immigration policy will for all practical purposes become impossible of application. This bill will rectify the position which has arisen as a result of the High Court’s decision and restore the control which the immigration authorities have always previously exercised by -
It is appropriate at this stage to refer to the question of an Australian immigration quota for non-Europeans, which some very good citizens have advocated and for which some other people, a small but noisy minority, have set up an insistent clamour. It is claimed that the grant of a token quota, under which only a few non-Europeans wouldbe admitted each year, would satisfy the aspirations of our northern neighbours and would allay the resentment which, it is said, they feel at being allegedly discriminated against on racial grounds. According to this argument, once a quota has been granted, our neighbours would be quite content that our doors should remain barred to the rest of their nationals. Such an argument, in my view, is quite fallacious. The claim is also made that such a system could in no way affect the composition of our present population, but that its adoption would lead to much friendlier feelings between the various countries. It is true that a measure of discrimination on racial grounds is exercised in the administration of our immigration policy. That is inevitable in a policy which is based on the concept that the homogeneous character of the population, which settled and developed the country, shall be maintained. Australia does not, however, stand alone in this matter. The dominant factor of the United States immigration law is the preservation of the ethnic composition of the population of that country and that principle is inherent in the immigration laws of all countries. Non-Europeans as well as Europeans practise it. For instance, Malaya and Burma restrict the immigration of Chinese and Indians,
Indonesia and the Philippines restrict the immigration of Chinese, and Ceylon restricts the admission of Indians. Unfortunately, the application of this principle in Australian immigration policy has been magnified and distorted in a fashion which has led to a mistaken belief on the part of many of our northern neighbours that we regard them as racially inferior and because of that we apply to them a policy of total exclusion. Let me make it perfectly clear that our policy is not, and never has been, directed at the total exclusion of non-Europeans; nor is it based on any assumption of racial superiority. The ideal which underlies our policy is the preservation of the homogeneous character of our population and the avoidance of the friction which inevitably follows an influx of peoples having different standards of living, traditions, culture and national characteristics. The wide use of the very misleading term “ the White Australia policy” by newspapers and others has been largely responsible for the misconception that has arisen in regard to the policy. I emphasize that the term has no official basis. Wherever possible the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has avoided its use, not only because it describes our immigration policy inaccurately, but because it can be regarded as offensive to non-Europeans. It does not appear in any of our legislation or regulations or in any laws of any State parliament. One of the Minister’s first actions as Minister for Immigration was to stress on his new department that the language used in official correspondence must make no reference to this term or to any other expression concerning the pigmentation of other people’s skins or anything else that could give offence. The Minister earnestly urges that this lead be followed by others. The term “ the White Australia policy “ might be described as journalese. As to the claim that Asian peoples would be satisfied with a token quota, let us face the facts fairly and squarely. Pressure of population in the main Asian countries has been so intense that for years outlets have had to be found for their surplus people. Millions of Chinese now live in other countries, and a report issued some little time ago by the United Nations stated that the Chinese Government desired that numbers of its people should still emigrate, although various countries had placed limitations on their entry. Before World War II., Japanese established communities in South America, Hawaii and the United States, and Indians have also gone abroad in their thousands, principally to Malaya, South Africa, Fiji and Burma. Population pressure in these countries continues undiminished and only recently the Minister for Immigration in the Indonesian Provisional Republic suggested northern Australia as one of the areas to which Indonesians might go to relieve overcrowding in Java. In the face of these facts, is it conceivable that these countries would rest content with a token quota amounting to five, or one hundred or five hundred or even one thousand persons, from each Asian country annually? The advocates of the quota policy presumably base their proposal on the system which operates in the United States immigration law. What they overlook is that under United States law quota restrictions are imposed on Europeans as well as non-Europeans and that the immigration policy of that country is in effect a restrictive one. Australia, on the other hand, eagerly seeks European migrants to the full capacity to which it can absorb them because it feels that it can absorb them. They are not likely to create problems of miscegenation and the like.
The policy of encouraging European migration to the fullest possible extent must be pursued with the utmost vigour if our economic stability and future welfare are to be assured. It is unthinkable that, . situated as we are, we should adopt a quota system which would apply to Europeans and non-Europeans alike. Such a course would, first, greatly limit our capacity to increase our population and, secondly, would definitely affect the ethnic composition of our population. It would, above all, frustrate our development as a major industrial Pacific nation. On the other hand, a quota system which applied only to non-Europeans could not be construed otherwise than as a .policy of racial discrimination in its worst form. It would not satisfy non-European aspirations, but would be most hurtful to non-European susceptibilities.
Turning to the actual result that would be achieved by the adoption of a quota for non-Europeans based on the United States system, we find, taking into account the comparative populations of the two countries, that Australia would admit five nationals each from certain Asian countries each year. That would be nothing like as generous as the numbers which may be admitted under our existing policy as merchants, local traders, assistants, students, scientists and tourists. The most vociferous advocates of a quota system are political agitators, and certain newspapers whose loyalty to the preservation of the principles embedded in our established immigration policy is, to be charitable, more than dubious. These people, following the line of the opportunist in politics, have never hesitated to impugn the Government’s actions and, by mischievous propaganda, have attempted to create dissension and ill will towards us on the part of our northern neighbours. They march shoulder to shoulder with the Communists, who have never masked their hostility to those principles. Because of their actions and associations, any cause which such people support can only be viewed1 with the gravest -suspicion. This Government, like the overwhelming majority of the Australian people, is steadfast in its adherence to our established immigration policy, and I give the Senate the firm assurance that we will resolutely resist any attempt to whittle down that policy or any opening of our doors which could possibly lead to our population eventually being submerged by peoples alien to us in thought, aspirations, culture and way of life.
The nature of this continent is not such that it could offer any worthwhile relief to the many millions of people who, unfortunately, are compelled by various causes to lead miserable and undernourished lives in overcrowded Asia. The introduction into Australia of as many of them as we could take would be only an insignificant contribution to the solution of the problem. In fact, it would create new problems within Australia without solving a single one of the troubles that exist elsewhere. There is no evidence anywhere on the face of the earth that great aggregations of peoples of widely differing standards of living, culture and ideals, can live together in the one community in peace and mutual prosperity. When such association is attempted, at worst it leads to hatred, bloodshed and continual outbursts of ferocious civil war. At the very best, it produces furtive fear and dislike, with one race or the other in a hopelessly subordinate position, doing the menial work of the nation and living mean and ambitionless lives on a level somewhere between that of domestic animals and that of free human beings. That “ very best “ is not good enough for Australia. In some lands, the existence of vast, underprivileged sections of the community provides certain physical comforts for the superior groups. But the spiritual and mental effects of such exploitation of man by man are degrading alike to the exploiter and the exploited. The young people of the race which considers itself superior are brought up in daily contact with “ man’s inhumanity to man “ on a level that would shock and horrify most Australians. I hope that Australians will never be brought into such close contact with these conditions that they will become inured’ to them. Indeed, I hope that, until such conditions have been wiped from the face of the earth, Australians will always be shocked and horrified by them. The Australian is not a man who harbours prejudices against his neighbour because of creed or colour. Within this country, such non-European residents as are here legally - and they number many thousands - are treated1 in the same way as are other human beings. There is no segregation and no discrimination, social or otherwise. There are no doors closed against any people. Every Australianborn person is an Australian citizen, whatever his ethnic origin; and every Australian citizen has equal rights with every other citizen. During the war and since the war, we have shown in the most practical ways our desire to be very good neighbours to the races that surround us, and Australians are held in high esteem by such people as men and women of goodwill and high principles.
But I believe, and I think most Australians believe, that most of the troubles of the Asian countries of to-day have been inherited from the Asia of yesterday. Countless generations of oppression and monopoly, of exploitation by native and foreign capitalists, of immense wealth and dire poverty, of war, of slavery and of native religious intolerance have produced the conditions that exist to-day. The job for the Asian who is a man of goodwill and patriotism lies right in his own country and not in seeking will o’ the wisps in new lands or in undertaking pioneering work of a kind for which his background and training and disposition do not equip him. The way in which we can best help these neighbours of ours is the way in which we are helping them, that is, by offering training to their young men and women, technological knowledge to their industrialists, example and guidance in social organization, and by trading with them and helping them in every way towards a higher standard of living in their own countries.
This land is our land, to own and to develop. Our claim to hold this country and to continue its development rests not on conquest nor on feelings of hostility to any other people. It is based on the great work of our fathers, our grandfathers and great-grandfathers - the men who explored our great continent, tilled its land, built its cities, and developed its industries. Our forefathers handed to us a proud heritage. We can only preserve our heritage for our descendants by preserving the homogeneity of our race, and that we must and will do. We cherish no annexationist ideas, we covet no other territory and we have no imperialist ambitions. On the contrary, we are eager to help the countries surrounding us to grow and prosper and to increase their wealth and the happiness of their people. In short, we want to assist our neighbours to achieve great social and industrial development.
The title of the bill has been worded so as to permit any honorable -member who advocates the adoption of a quota system, or feels that the discretionary powers now exercised by the Minister should be whittled down, or more clearly defined, or, in fact, altered in any way that he desires, to submit any amendments without the possibility of such amendments being ruled out of order only on the technical ground that the amendments go beyond the title of the bill. Honorable senators on the Opposition benches will, therefore, have every opportunity to put their opinions on restricted immigration matters, if they have any, to the test. If they fail to take advantage of this opportunity and do not divide the Senate and the committee on the issues on which they feel strongly, they will have no right in future even to mention the subject of restricted immigration again. With the predominant thought in my mind that this bill is good for the Australians of to-day and the Australians of to-morrow and that it will advance the cause of Australia Fair, I commend the measure to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bil] (on motion by Senator Armstrong) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure, like the bill introduced this session to amend the Immigration Act, is intended to remedy a defect brought to light by a recent High Court judgment in the case of an Ambonese woman married to an Australian man. The Immigration Bill deals with the question of the Government’s control over immigrants admitted under exemption in normal circumstances, whilst this bill relates to a special class of persons, namely those who were permitted to enter in special circumstances during the war.
Some thousands of people, who normally would have been refused admission, were given refuge here during the war purely on compassionate grounds. Not a few who entered irregularly during that period were permitted to remain for the same reason. In all these cases, permission to enter or remain was given on the definite assurance that these people would return to their own countries at the conclusion of hostilities. It is to their credit that the great majority did not demur when called upon to return and accepted repatriation without hesitation. A minority of some hundreds have, however, consistently ignored all warnings given to them. In fact, they have made it clear that they do not propose to fulfil their obligations to the country which gave them refuge in time of danger, and that they are resolved to remain here permanently if they can, but, in any event, for so long as it suits them to do so. Amongst this recalcitrant minority are some whose only thought during the war period was to further their own selfish ends and who apparently felt no qualms if they jeopardized the lives and safety of Australians engaged in battle areas. These included the men who deserted merchant ships in Australian ports and refused to go to sea again even when the war ended. The ships which they deserted were urgently needed for the carriage of equipment and supplies to Australian and Allied troops on the battlefronts. Others among the refugees were indentured labourers from Pacific Islands such as Nauru and Ocean Islands. Some of these also have proved most difficult to deal with, and their presence in Australia in the war years was not very helpful to this country.
No government could, of course, afford to ignore the impudent challenge to its authority from this hard core of passive resisters. Unfortunately, the decision of the High Court in the case of the Ambonese woman has, for the time being, restricted the Government’s power to deal effectively with the problem of repatriating these people, and it has become necessary to seek fresh power to enable the policy of the Government and of the Australian people to be put into effect. That is precisely what the bill seeks to achieve.
The main clauses of the bill are clauses 4 and 5. Clause 4 will, with certain specified exceptions, bring within the scope of the act all aliens who entered Australia during the war, and also certain non-aliens who came here by reason of circumstances attributable to the war. It is necessary to include the latter class, as a number of the persons, in regard to whom it is desired to take action, are British subjects. Clause 5 provides that any person to whom the act applies may be deported pursuant to an order of the Minister. The remaining clauses of the bill do not call for any special comment. They are machinery measures designed to ensure that when a deportation order has been issued it shall not .be rendered ineffective by action on the part of a deportee or any other person, and that a transport company shall not unduly delay providing a passage for a deportee when called upon to do so.
Deportation is essential to the effective administration of immigration legislation, and every Minister who has had charge of the Immigration Act, no matter what his political affiliation, has deported migrants who failed to observe the conditions which governed their admission. Nor has the fact that a non-European, admitted temporarily, may have married an Australian woman ever been regarded as a ground for authorizing his permanent admission. Previous Ministers frowned on such marriages and did everything in their power to discourage them. I shall cite a few instances as evidence of this. In 1925, Senator Sir George Pearce informed the Bishop of Carpentaria that Asiatics employed in the pearling industry had no right to remain permanently in Australia and that it had always been felt that their marriage to local aboriginal women was most undesirable. At the direction of Senator Sir William Glasgow, the Sub-Collector of Customs at Broome was advised in 1926 that the marriage of an Asiatic to a local woman gave him no right to remain in Australia. In 1930, a warning was issued to pearlers that it was desired to deter their non-European employees from associating with local women and in the event of such cases coming under notice, consideration would be given to the question of requiring the men to leave. In 1933, the then Minister, the Honorable J. A. Perkins, refused to allow a Malayan to remain here because he had married a local woman. In 1936, the Honorable J. A. J. Hunter directed that a Japanese, who contemplated marry ing a local woman, be advised that if he did so serious consideration would be given to the question of requiring him to leave. A similar attitude was taken by the Honorable T. Paterson in 1937. Many instances of similar decisions, made prior to 1925, could also be quoted. In doing as they did, those Ministers merely gave effect to the principles which underlie our immigration policy. No hysterical outburst greeted the actions of those Ministers and none of them was assailed on the score of harsh and intolerant administration as the present Government has been. The fact that all were non-Labour Ministers will, no doubt, account for the difference. A comparison of deportations ordered by the United States and Australia will furnish any additional evidence that may be necessary to refute the baseless charge that this Government has been unnecessarily severe or intolerant in administering the Immigration Act. During the years 1946 and 1947, which provide the latest figures available, the United States of America deported) 33,038 persons, or approximately one deportation for each 4,200 of the population. During the same period, Australia deported 143 persons, or approximately one deportee to 48,000 of our population. America deported its unwelcome guests to Asian, South American and European countries alike. With regard to the immigration policy of the United States, some interesting points were made by Sir Frederic Eggleston in a statement to a Sydney newspaper as recently as the 2nd June last. Sir Frederic is, of course, a distinguished Australian who has served’ this country as its Minister to China and to the United States and was, at one time, Minister for Railways in a Nationalist Government in the State of Victoria. Sir Frederic said -
America’s exclusion of Orientals was always ruthless before the establishment of the quota system and now, outside the quotas, it is still ruthless for all migrants. Few exceptions are made, and deportation follows any violation of temporary permits.
Notwithstanding the trifling quota to Orientals by the United States, Australia has always been, and still is, more lenient in her policy than America.
The difference is that American action. is taken as a matter of course by the people of that country and is not ventilated in the press, whereas, in Australia, criticism has a political basis and is made without a knowledge of the circumstances of each case, in ignorance of Australian policy, and in ignorance of the policy of other countries.
In addition, the liaison between the Australian Associated Press and Reuters is used to ventilate cases in Asiatic countries in order to get an additional stick to beat the political tom-tom. The result is that grave damage is done to Australian interests without any real cause whatever.
After those very pointed comments, Sir Frederic continued -
The U.S.S.R. totally excludes all migration, Malaya, Siam, the Philippines, and Indonesia all have exclusion policies with small quotas, or none at all. Most of these countries have internal discriminations against foreigners, while there are practically none in Australia. Canada and New Zealand, I understand, have a passport system of entry by which complete control is .retained over admissions. These countries escape criticism while we, by the action of the Australian press, are made the Aunt Sally for attack in South-East Asia.
It must be obvious to the meanest intelligence that nobody can say whether we are unjust to the Filipinos in the person of Sergeant Gamboa unless the treatment of Filipinos generally is known, nor can he say whether Indonesia has been treated badly in the case of Mrs. O’Keefe unless he understands that thousands of Indonesians, who were given sanctuary here during the war on a solemn promise to return, have gone back in pursuance of the promise given.
The Australian Natives’ Association, an Australia-wide body with the largest membership of any friendly society in this country, composed entirely of nativeborn Australians, and representing members of every religious and political faith, has, through its federal officers, pledged its unwavering support for the maintenance of our immigration laws and staunchly supports the repatriation of war-time evacuees. The Returned Servicemen’s League has left no room for doubt as to where it stands on the question of the maintenance of our established immigration policy, or on the return of persons given refuge in this country during the war. A resolution adopted by the federal executive of the league, meeting last month at Hobart, reaffirmed its traditional policy. The resolution reads -
That this Executive pledges its unwavering support for the principle of a White Australia and agrees with the decision of the Government to repatriate war-time evacuees whom it admitted to Australia under specific conditions as to their return and, approving as it does, the Commonwealth’s gesture in giving them sanctuary at that time, it will support any legislation which the Government may consider necessary to empower it to effect the return of these people to their countries of origin in accordance with the conditions under which they were admitted.
There is a marked similarity between the views held by Australian and American ex-servicemen on this question. The National Convention of the American Legion, held in November, 1945, resolved -
That all war refugees who have been enjoying our sanctuary, haven and hospitality shall be returned promptly to the countries whence they came.
The resolution of the legion went on to say -
Post-war immigration will receive the very earnest attention of the Congress during the current session; in fact, a. special subcommittee of the Congress has been engaged since early summer on a survey not only on the broad subject of immigration but also on deportation and naturalization legislation. Already available reports of their meetings indicate a coalition of various types of organizations and minority groups whose particular functions appear to be . . . assisting the aliens within the deportable classes to avoid deportation, and in aiding and abetting the naturalization of aliens generally. Their primary interest is the aliens rather than the general welfare of their country.
Some of the legislative proposals of these groups would increase immigration; grant lawful entry to aliens now here in violation of our laws; confer citizenship on persons lacking the ordinary educational requirements . . and relax existing deportation laws.
The minority groups referred to in the legion’s resolution have their counterpart in Australia, and the legion’s comment in regard to the American groups could apply with equal force to the few unpatriotic Australians, in whose eyes a handful of people admitted to this country as war-time evacuees finds greater favour than does the present and future wellbeing of their own country. The Government’s authority has been challenged by a comparatively small group, who have flagrantly abused our hospitality and have shown, in no uncertain manner, that they are not readily amenable to our laws. We cannot allow that challenge to pass unheeded, or the matter to be glossed over, as has been suggested. It would be tantamount to abdicating a sovereign right, if we failed to take action which would conclusively show that it is solely for the Government of Australia to say who shall enter our shores and under what conditions they shallbe permitted to remain. This bill, specially designed to deal with the war-time evacuee problem, puts the position of the people concerned beyond all doubt. Once their cases have been disposed of, it will have fulfilled its purpose.
Debate (on motion by Senator Cooper) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKenna) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is being introduced to seek parliamentary approval for ratification by Australia of the International Convention on Genocide. The convention was approved by 55 nations at the recently concluded third session of the General Assembly. The Assembly proposed the convention for signature and acceptance by all States. Already over twenty States have signed the convention. The drafting of the convention followed a decision taken at the first session of the General Assembly. In December, 1946, the Assembly unanimously affirmed that genocide was a crime under international law condemned by the civilized world.
The word “ genocide “ means the wholesale or partial destruction of religious, racial, or national groups. History, unfortunately, contains many horrifying examples of acts of genocide. The term itself, however, only came into general use at the time of the Nuremberg trials. It was then used to describe the destruction by the Nazis of groups of human beings on racial or religious grounds. “ On occasions in the past, nations have intervened either singly or jointly to protect victims of genocide. Those inter ventions, although allegedly humanitarian in character, were frequently promoted by political reasons. When the Convention on Genocide comes into force the sanction will be based on principles of law and supported by the collective authority of the international community. In the convention the term “ genocide “ covers various acts committed with intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such. The contracting parties are obliged to give effect to the provisions of the convention and to provide effective penalties for genocide. The convention will come into force on the ninetieth day following the day of deposit of the twentieth instrument of acceptance. The bill also approves that the Secretary-General of the United Nations be notified of the extension of the convention to territories for the conduct of whose foreign relations Australia is responsible. This is in accordance with Article XII. of the convention and a separate resolution of the General Assembly which recommends that States apply the convention to their dependent territories.
.- This bill seeks parliamentary approval of the ratification by Australia of the international convention for the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide. In plain language, the word “ genocide “ means the wholesale or partial destruction of religious, racial, or national groups. Events that took place during World War II. made necessary the introduction of some form of international law to prevent genocide. During the war, German forces engaged in the mass killing of racial minorities both in Germany and in conquered countries. The matter was discussed at the third session of the United Nations General Assembly with a view to laying down a course of action for the prevention of such organized brutality and murder in the future. After hearisg evidence and deliberating at length, the representatives of 55 nations approvedof adraftconvention designed to prevent genocide. Twenty States have already ratified it.All honorable senators mustsupporttheconcept of the UnitedNationsfromthehorrible crime of mass killing must be prevented at all costs. Under the convention, all contracting parties are obliged to provide effective penalties against genocide. That is where its weakness lies. Although many nations may subscribe to the convention, it will be ineffective unless they are able to enforce penalties. Although the mere ratification of the convention cannot prevent genocide, I believe that it will serve to emphasize to the peoples of the world the horrible nature of the crimes of this nature that have been committed in the past. I am sure that people throughout the world regard with horror the mass killing of civilians for reasons of race or religion and that, having recent examples of such crimes fresh in their memories, they will gladly do everything possible to prevent repetitions of the crime in the future. “War brings to the fore the worst characteristics of many nations, although it calls forth the best from other nations. Apparently the early victories of the Germans in World War II. brought uppermost the worst aspects of their national character. Many millions of soldiers from many nations were killed or wounded during World War I. and World War II. Such losses are inevitably part of the price that must be paid for war. But one does not expect civilized nations to engage in the mass murder of civilians. It is true that such slaughter is not a new crime against humanity. It has occurred repeatedly since the beginning of recorded history, and there is some evidence even to-day of the possibility that it will occur again. Whether the ratification of the convention on genocide by 55 nations will prevent such shocking acts remains to be seen. My own opinion is that the convention alone will not deter criminal nations from engaging in genocide. The trend of world events does not encourage us to hope that the peoples of the world have learned the bitter lessons of war. Nevertheless, we can concentrate upon educating them to a higher conception of civilization. If we do so, I believe that the ratification of the convention will help greatly to discourage genocide in the future. I support the bill.
. -This bill has great implications. In supporting it, I wish to congratulate the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), the distinguished representative of Australia at the United Nations, who has been largely responsible for the introduction of the bill in this Parliament. As the Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) explained, genocide means the wholesale or partial destruction of religious, racial or national groups. It is true that there have been many dreadful examples of this crime in history. The Bible alone contains the stories of many acts of genocide, such as the slaughter of the inhabitants of Ai by the Israelites under Joshua. Many massacres are mentioned in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In recent history, the cold-blooded mass destruction by the Nazis of racial minority groups, such as the Jews and the Poles, horrified the rest of the civilized world. Only by the wholehearted co-operation of the members of the United Nations can the repetition of such brutalities be avoided. There are many ways, apart from violence, by which minority groups can be eliminated. I have in mind, for instance, economic sanctions, which enable groups of countries to bring about the downfall of a single country merely by withholding trade. In the Asiatic arena, minority groups can be exterminated by the withholding of supplies of food. The weapon of starvation can be frightfully effective in regions where the rapid growth of populations imposes a severe drain upon food resources. Strong nations with imperialistic designs can use this weapon to subjugate or destroy weaker nations. Not long before the outbreak of World War II., we witnessed the example of Italian action in Abyssinia. The Fascists, under the leadership of Mussolini, sought to bring about the elimination of the Abyssinians by imposing economic sanctions. They cut off the supply of food to Abyssinia through Italian Somaliland. Another shocking example was that of the Japanese action against the aboriginal inhabitants of the island of Hokkaido, the Hairy Ainus. The Japanese reduced the diet of the Hairy Ainus, and withheld medical supplies and other benefits of civilization. The result was that the aboriginal population declined rapidly and was eventually almost ousted by
Japanese settlers. I have referred to those examples in order to demonstrate that mass murder of racial or religious minorities can be accomplished without recourse to war. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill, and commend it to all honorable senators.
.- in reply - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) has so well set out the principles that underlie this legislation that I shall develop them very little further. He has very admirably posed the principles on which the legislation rests. The bill is the product of proper thought and international cooperation to ensure that this wretched crime of genocide shall be outlawed by humanity. The term is defined in Article TI. of the convention as any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) killing members of the group ; (o) causing serious bodily harm or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. Senator Murray, referred to the extermination or emasculation of people by economic assaults. I suggest to the honorable senator that paragraph (c) of Article II., of the convention covers broadly, anything of that description that he foresaw could happen. The United Nations, realizing that the economic conditions of people with relation to their continuance on the face of the earth, and the standards of culture and living that they may enjoy are matters of vast importance, has established organizations to look after the economic welfare of people who are in difficulties. In addition to a vast international trade organization there are bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank. The latter helps the development of backward countries. There are also the Economic and Social Council, the “World Health Organization, and the Food and Agricultural organization. These agencies of the United Nations realize very fully what Senator Murray has mentioned, and that it is very necessary to devote particular attention to the economic welfare of peoples throughout the world. It is an extension of the old truth -
Love thy neighbour as thy self.
Very fortunately for the future peace of the world there is a widening recognition that one’s neighbour is not necessarily the one who lives immediately next door or in the next suburb ; all the peoples of the world are our neighbours. That is a truth that is recognized in this type of legislation establishing the various organizations for which the United Nations is responsible. The further acts prohibited under Article II. of the convention are: (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and (e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. In addition, pursuant to Article III., the following acts are punishable: (a) genocide; (b) conspiracy to commit genocide; (c) direct and public incitement to commit genocide. There is a very good safeguard in that prohibition. It is a crime and an offence under the convention for anybody to direct and publicly incite others to commit genocide. That is something that will do much to cause people whose thoughts and desires tend in the direction of genocide to hesitate, because none of these acts takes place without prior thought and prior incitement. Before a crime of this nature is committed there is generally a good deal of forethought, of toying with the idea of inciting the public mind so that it will ‘be possible for people who seek to obtain that end to move actively in that direction. Paragraph (e) of Article III. strikes at the fundamentals of the crime of genocide. It will prevent stimulation of thought in the direction of genocide, which is a very useful provision. The following acts, also, shall be punishable under Article III.: (d) attempt to commit genocide; and (e) complicity in genocide. It is clear that most of those offences which relate to the destruction of life, mainly by individuals, already constitute crimes under our code. In any event they are punishable under this convention. I agree with what Senator Cooper has said. He posed the crime with a specific label as an object of horror. Abhorrence of a crime of that nature, and the stimulation of public opinion against it is one of the greatest safeguards against its commission. In fact that is one of the prime purposes of the convention that the Senate is now asked to ratify. The convention has already been signed on behalf of Australia. The purpose of this bill is to give it formal ratification so that Australia may be one of the signatories whose signatures will launch the convention into active operation. Pursuant to article VIII., apart from the obligation cast upon contracting States to punish offences of genocide, there is the provision that -
Any Contracting Party may call upon the competent organs of the United Nations to take such action under the Charter of the United Nations as they consider appropriate for the prevention and suppression of acts of genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III.
I appreciate the support of the Senate for the measure, and commend it to the chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Courtice) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to make provision for a whaling industry to be established and developed on sound lines in Australia and to provide for the appointment of a central authority to administer and manage whaling operations on the Government’s behalf. With the exception of certain private interests which have engaged in whaling activities in a small way at odd points on the Australian coast no serious attempt has been made since 1937 to take advantage of the fact that normal whale tracks lie within easy reach of the Australian coast on both the western and eastern sides. A valuable resource which should logically be available to our country has therefore been practically neglected for many years. It is only after much thought and research that the Government has decided to establish this enterprise. Following inquiries over several years a recognized Norwegian whaling expert, Captain Alf Melsom, was engaged by the Government nearly eighteen months ago and he spent over a year investigating the possibilities of the successful development of the industry in Australia. Captain Melsom is convinced that there is a bright future for this industry. His ideas run first to a factory ship with chaser vessels to operate at various locations off the Australian coast and occasionally, in order to spell the Australian waters, in the Antarctic. Shore based stations involving chaser vessels and processing factories on land could operate either in addition to a factory ship or as a modified alternative. The Government considers that there is no reason why Australia, with its natural geographic advantages, should not take an active part in whaling operations. As a result of inquiries which were pursued in several countries it became apparent that a suitable factory ship could neither be constructed nor converted in time to commence whaling operations in the 1950-51 season, and because of this, the alternative proposal of erecting and operating a shore station as a first step has been adopted. Subject to Parliament approving the present bill, it is hoped that a suitable station can be erected and fitted, and chaser vessels and skilled personnel obtained in time to commence whaling in June, 1950. The time factor is important since it is desirable that the undertaking be commenced while prices of whale oil and other whale products remain high.
There is no doubt that large numbers of whales pass along certain portions of our eastern and western ‘coasts each season. In the 1936 and 1937 seasons two factory ships operating off the Western Australian coast captured between them over 6,000 whales, which produced approximately 42,000 tons of high grade oil valued at.£850,000. At that time whale oil was valued at about £20 a ton whereas to-day’s United Kingdom price is about £112 Australian currency, <s. & f. United Kingdom port, a ton for No. 1 grade oil. On .the estimates of technical advisers, it seems evident that provided the prices of whale oil and other products of this industry stay at reasonable levels, capital expenditure on the establishment of shore stations or on the provision of a factory ship will be recouped in a relatively short period. If Australia does not exploit this latest resource it is certain that other countries will be interested in doing so. We already have some indications of that interest. The Government believes that the experience that will be gained in the operation of a shore station will prove valuable at a later stage when it is intended that whaling activities will be expanded, if the early results appear to justify such, expansion.
Preliminary inquiries are being made abroad about modern whaling technique and the availability of suitable vessels, plant and machinery as well as expert personnel. It will be necessary to engage a proportion of skilled men from overseas, and it is believed that the types of men who will be selected will prove an asset to the country should they decide to remain with their families in this country. The development of a whaling industry in less populated spots on the Australian coast will be a progressive step in the Government’s decentralization policy. It is proposed to erect the first station on the Western Australian coast, but the most suitable spot has not yet been finally determined. It is expected that a moderately-sized station with three chaser vessels should catch about 600 whales in a season. Humpback whales, which have been protected in the Antarctic under the international convention, are plentiful in Australian latitudes and can be taken there. Australia has been represented at several international whaling conferences and has subscribed to the International Whaling Convention of 1946. The first meeting of the International Whaling Commission arising from the 1946 convention was held at London during the last few weeks, and the Director of Fisheries represented Australia.
The Government has introduced this bill because it believes that Australia should not delay entering the whaling industry. As I have said, no real attempt has been made by private enterprise to develop this industry on a proper scale. The Government believes that the only sound and practical alternative is to establish it as a government enterprise with a relatively moderate beginning that will allow opportunity for such development in nearby waters or in the Antarctic as may appear to be justified from the early experiences. It is proposed to set up a commission of three to establish and manage the industry and it is intended that the chairman will be the executive member of the commission on a full-time basis. The bill is divided into three parts. Part I. comprises machinery provisions and definitions. Part II. provides for the establishment of a commission and defines its powers and functions. Provisions relating to the appointment of staff, methods of finance and the presentation of annual reports are also included in this part. Part III. contains a miscellaneous provision and authorizes the making of regulations.
– The purpose of the bill is to provide for the establishment of an Australian Whaling Commission to carry on whaling and incidental activities in certain waters. In 1935 the Lyons Government passed the Whaling Act which gave legislative effect to a convention held at Geneva in 1931. The preamble to that measure reads -
Whereas it is desirable and necessary to make provision to ensure the application of the provisions of the Convention for the Regulation of Whaling signed at Geneva on the 24th September, 1931, and the punishment of infractions of the said provisions . . .
That measure provided penalties for breaches of that convention such as the killing of undersized whales. It was designed to prevent the total extermination of whales by the killing of cow whales and calves. It provided for the issue of licences to all ships which used Australian ports as bases for whaling activities. That act was amended in 1948 in order to give effect to the decisions of the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling held at Washington in 1946. Thus, whaling in Antarctic waters, particularly to the south of Australia, has been the subject of several international conventions designed to control operations which have been carried on mainly in the interests of other nations.
Under the bill ‘now before us the Government proposes to establish a governmentcontrolled whaling industry which will be administered by a commission consisting of three persons of whom the chairman will be appointed for a period of five years and the other two members for shorter periods. Those appointments are to be made by the Governor-General in Council, but that really means that they will be made by the Minister in charge of the measure who, I presume, will be the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. In those circumstances I am impelled to ask whether the Government intends to socialize the whaling industry. If that be its intention, I remind it that similar ventures undertaken by State governments have proved dismal failures. For instance, about 30 years ago a Labour government in Queensland went in for State enterprises on a very extensive scale. In one of those ventures it purchased a trawler and established shops for the retail sale of fish. The cost of the trawler was approximately £34,000, but in the short period for which it operated it caught only 15,000 lb. fish which was sold for a gross return of £412. The expense incurred in running the trawler during that period amounted to £1,216. That venture ended in dismal failure. The name of the trawler was Bar-el-mud, but it was popularly referred to as the “ barrel of mud “. In 1921, the Queensland Government sold the trawler to the Government of New South Wales for £25,000 and reference to the report of the Auditor-General in that State for that year reveals that the Government of New South Wales incurred a heavy loss in the operations of that trawler. I mention those facts to show that this is not the first occasion on which a government in Australia has attempted to socialize an industry of this kind. Very heavy losses were incurred by Labour governments in State enterprises in Queensland. In addition to fish shops, it established a chain of butcher shops and purchased a number of stations as sources of supplies of beef for those shops. The majority of those State enterprises proved to be such failures that no government in that State has since attempted to socialize any other industry.
The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice), in his second-reading speech, said that the price of whale oil in the United Kingdom is now £112 a ton whereas in 1937 it was only £20 a ton. That fact bears out what my colleagues and I have repeatedly emphasized, namely, that world prices of all raw materials, particularly primary products, are now at their peak. I trust that the Government in deciding to establish a socialized whaling industry has not assumed that the present price of whale oil will be maintained for any considerable period. The Government must look many years ahead if it hopes to arrive at any worthwhile estimates of prices on which to base its operations. The present price of £112 a ton is not likely to remain for long. In any event operating costs and the cost of equipment and materials required for the carrying on of the industry will be correspondingly high. I point out that there is no guarantee that the present prices of whale oil and1 products will be maintained. Those prices are essentially determined by overseas demand. Whilst we consume a certain amount of whale oil and whale products in Australia, and can therefore control the price of those products in this country, we cannot exercise any control over the overseas prices of those products. Because of that consideration we must face the possibility of having to sell our surplus whale oil and’ products for prices much lower than those at present obtaining overseas. Undoubtedly many other nations will resume whaling operations and will market whale oil and products, which will have the effect of depressing prices.
I understand that investigations have already been made concerning the possibility of developing the Australian whaling industry. From my general knowledge of the subject and the information given to us by the Minister in his second-reading speech, I have no doubt that the report prepared by Captain Melsom is sound’. Captain Melsom understands the industry and’ is thoroughly qualified to tender advice to the Government. Furthermore, he has had eighteen months in which to investigate the possibilities of establishing the industry in Australia. As the result of his investigations and special knowledge of the matter he has recommended’ that a factory ship and chaser vessels should operate off the Australian coast and in the Antarctic area, or, alternatively, that shore stations should be established. The adoption of the alternative proposal would involve the purchase of a number of vessels to act as chasers and the installation of substantial facilities on land. I understand that the Government has decided in favour of the alternative proposal. It has been stated that the Government could have purchased a factory ship of 17,000 tons for approximately £2,000,000, but, because of its indecision, the opportunity slipped through its fingers and some other nation, which may compete with us, will acquire the vessel.
I shall quote now an article which appeared in The Harbour of the 1st June last, which contains a reported’ comment by Sir Douglas Mawson, the famous Antarctic explorer, who is well known throughout Australia. Sir Douglas Mawson visited Antarctica many times and has a thorough knowledge of conditions there and of the prospects of the whaling industry generally. That journal publishes the following comment by Sir Douglas Mawson: -
Australia’s reluctance to pay £2,000,000 for a 17,000-ton whaling ship meant another extended postponement of Australia’s entry into Antarctic whaling - and that was regrettable. The Government’s intention, he added, to enter the whaling industry on a more modest scale would have little bearing on the matter, because whales were limited near Australia’s coasts. The Government proposal could not mean any extensive development of its activities in the Antarctic. Pelagic whaling was another matter, calling for a capital expenditure of £3,000,000. Antarctic whaling could be a national undertaking, linked with Australian territorial claims in Antarctica, he said. Whaling in Antarctica had been so profitable in recent years that the high capital cost should be no obstacle. Government policy, concluded Sir Douglas, should be to acquire a mother factory ship and chasers and then operate by arrangement with Scandinavian crews, who were encouraged to migrate to Australia. Young Australians could then be trained for the job. Eighteen whaling expeditions were in the Antarctic during the recent season, one more than in 1947-48. Norway had ten factory ships, the United Kingdom three, Japan two, Union of South Africa, Netherlands and the Soviet one each.
It will be noted that Australia has not one vessel engaged in the industry. Sir Douglas Mawson’s comments coincide with the recommendations made by Captain Melsom. The employment of Scandinavian whaling crews would also stimulate the flow of migrants from those countries, and would enable the operations of the vessels to co-operate with private enterprise in establishing the industry on a national basis. I believe that if the industry is to be of real value it must be operated by the Government in conjunction with private enterprise. The Government will provide the capital and will be able to exercise some control over the operation of the vessels actually engaged in catching the whales and in the general conduct of the industry. It is important that we should be served by the most expert crews, and that is the reason of the recommendation that Scandinavians should be brought out to man the vessels.
In the course of his second-reading speech the Minister stated that at least twelve months must elapse before the industry oan be properly established. That estimate is based on the assumption that the commission which will be in charge of the venture will require some time to establish itself and to organize its operations. However, we all know the seriousness of the shortage of goods, particularly building materials, which exists, and it appears to une that the Minister was somewhat overoptimistic when he suggested that the industry might be operating toy June, 1950. Because of the reasons that I have indicated it appears to me that at least one additional year will be required before the industry is operating in this country. Suitable personnel have to be selected and brought to this country; vessels will have to be purchased or constructed, and shore bases, including treatment plants, will have to be established. During that time the price of whale oil may decline to much less than the present price of £112 a ton. However, it is most unlikely that the cost of materials and equipment will decline correspondingly. It seems clear, therefore, that the ‘Government will have to incur the highest costs while, at the same time, it will be confronted with the possibility of a substantial decline in the price of whale products.
In the course of his second-reading speech, the Minister stated -
As I mentioned earlier, there has been no real attempt by private enterprise to establish this industry on a proper scale.
The Minister may correct me if I have been misinformed, but I believe that during the recent war, when a serious shortage of whale oil was experienced, an Australian syndicate proposed to the Department of War Organization of Industry which was then operating, that the syndicate should invest a sum of more than £1,000,000 to establish the industry in this country. Later, the Government discovered that it could obtain oil from overseas and it did not accept or reject the syndicate’s offer.
– When was that? In 1945?
– I am not sure, but the Minister will be able to enlighten us. The important fact is that because of the indecisive attitude adopted by the Government the syndicate lost interest in the proposal.
– Some whaling concerns are operating now.
– -A few small concerns may be operating, but no major concern with a capital of £1,000,000, such as that which I have mentioned, has embarked on any whaling undertaking. Had the syndicate been encouraged at that time we should now have been enjoying the fruit of its operations and the Government would have had tha benefit of the syndicate’s experience, instead of having to rely on a mere proposal on paper. I emphasize that fact because of the Minister’s statement that private enterprise has done nothing to establish the industry in this country. Under the legislation that was passed in 1935 it appears to me that the Minister has the power to create a monopoly in this industry by merely withholding licences from persons who desire to employ vessels in the industry. Furthermore, under the Shipping Act that was recently passed the Government has the power to prevent the construction of any vessels. I should like the Minister to inform me whether the Government now requires persons who propose to engage in the whaling industry first to obtain licences.
Clause 21 contains a similar provision to that which was contained in the previous legislation. It provides that -
The Commission shall have power to borrow money on overdraft from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia upon the guarantee of the Treasurer.
A few days ago, the Parliament approved a measure providing for the expenditure of approximately £200,000,000 on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. Earlier in the present session, legislation was passed relating to shipbuilding and the establishment of a Commonwealth-owned fleet of vessels. I take it that substantial sums of public -money will be put into those enterprises. Now we have a bill for the establishment of the whaling industry, and that too will involve considerable public expenditure. If all these projects are to be financed by overdrafts from the Commonwealth Bank, definite inflationary movements will be felt in this country. We are constantly being told by the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) that there are so many hundreds of millions of pounds in the savings banks of this country, and that with all that money in the hands of the people, there is a grave risk of uncontrolled inflation. Here is an opportunity to draw off some of that excess spending power. Let the people of the Commonwealth invest money in this enterprise. Let the finance required be provided from loan funds instead of from taxes.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that debentures be issued.
– No. My opinion is that the money should be subscribed by loan. We are still borrowing money for other purposes; why not for this enterprise? As I have said, that would be an effective means of drawing off some of the surplus spending power now in the hands of the people. By constantly resorting to bank overdrafts, we are increasing instead of decreasing the surplus money in the community. The Parliament will not have any control over expenditure on the whaling industry because the proposed commission will have power to borrow money on overdraft from the Commonwealth Bank on the guarantee of the Treasurer. I regard that as a retrograde step because the Parliament, which is elected by the people, should have some control over the expenditure of the large sums of money that are involved in the numerous projects that the Government is sponsoring.
I fully agree with Sir Douglas Mawson that the whaling industry could be of considerable importance to this country. I suggest, however, that with the assistance of trained whalers from the Scandanavian countries, the industry could be developed by the Commonwealth and private enterprise on a co-operative basis. Such a scheme would be more likely to be successful than a purely governmental undertaking. All those who are prepared to operate in this field should be given the fullest possible encouragement by the Government. I do not favour a socialist whaling monopoly.
– In supporting this measure, I wish to draw the attention of the Senate to an endeavour that has been made by a Western Australian syndicate to commence whaling operations. I had extensive correspondence with the syndicate in an endeavour to faciliate its operations. Its activities were to be confined to the eastern and western coasts of the Australian continent. Members of the syndicate claimed that there are plenty of whales in Australian waters without going into the Antarctic. About two months ago, they informed me that they expected to establish the venture successfully as the price of whale oil was between £80 and £90 a ton. According to the Minister’s second-reading speech, it is now £112 a ton. The name of the organization was to be the Coastal Whaling Company. Its objective was to recondition the old Norwegian whaling station at Point Cloates which has not functioned for twenty years, and which in that time has been wrecked by two cyclones. Originally it was hoped to commence operations this month, but there has been some hitch over registration, and I .understand that a licence has not been granted. Approval is required from both the State and Commonwealth governments. The assets of the organization were taken over by a Mr. Moore, who proposes to proceed with the venture. I understand that ex-naval M.L. vessels are to be used as chasers. I have been informed that, subject to Mr. Moore complying with the conditions laid down by the Commonwealth and State authorities, a whaling licence will be issued. I hope that in the interests of Australia and of this organization, which will give employment to quite a number of men, the conditions laid down by the Commonwealth and the State will not be so hard as to cripple the enterprise in its initial stages. The crews will consist almost entirely of Western Australians, with the exception of experienced whalers brought from overseas.
The Minister, in his second-reading speech, said that in 1936 and 1937, two factory ships were operating off the Western Australian coast, and that between them they captured 6,000 whales which produced 42,000 tons of high-grade whale oil valued at £850,000. That return of course, was on the basis of the then ruling price of £20 a ton. To-day, the price is £112 a ton. Clearly there is money to foe made in this industry. There has been little whaling in Australian waters for quite a number of years. The Australian Government has now decided to enter this industry, but there is no reason why private organizations should not be in the field as well. I am a great believer in competition particularly in an undertaking such as this. For instance, were it not for the competition between Australian fishermen with .their modern trawlers, and the Italians who have been in the industry for so long, we would be paying higher prices for fish. The Government intends to appoint a commission to carry out whaling. Obviously, some controlling body must be set up. Whilst I believe that the Government is taking proper action, I repeat that there is room in the industry for all. We must not be selfish. The Minister said in his secondreading speech, that as the industry was developed, whaling would be extended to the Antarctic regions. As I have said, the Western Australian organization, to which. I have referred, does not propose to operate in the Antarctic, because it believes that there are sufficient whales in Australian coastal waters to keep the industry going for many years. I hope that the company will succeed in reestablishing the Point Cloates station, and that its activities will succeed. I recall that some years ago, limited whaling activities were carried on at Albany in Western Australia. However, the plant was small and the whale chasers inadequate. Eventually the enterprise was closed down. The organization to which I have referred is determined to use only efficient and safe chaser vessels which will not be in danger of capsize in rough waters. It is prepared to establish its undertaking on a sound basis and I hope that it succeeds.
.- 3 support this bill because I believe that the establishment of the whaling industry is urgently necessary. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) said that he hoped that this would not be a socialist enterprise. Of course it will be a socialist enterprise. Private industry has failed to do the job. The honorable senator also said that for some time a private company had been trying to secure permission to carry out whaling. That, I understand, was during the war years when the Government could not be expected to authorize capital for such a gigantic enterprise. The Leader of the Opposition said that it was not right to set up a commission to carry on whaling because the Parliament would not have authority over its expenditure. The commission will consist of three men, one of whom will be a full-time departmental officer responsible to the Minister. If that will not guarantee sufficient control over the industry, I have yet to learn what control means. The Leader of the Opposition also said that private industry should be given an opportunity to develop this industry. As Senator Clothier pointed out some small companies are already operating. The Minister said in his second-reading speech that if Australia did not exploit these latent resources, it was certain that other countries would do so. He also pointed out that in 1936 and 1937, Norwegian-manned American vessels caught 6,000 whales off the coast of Western Australia. Are we going to allow other nations to monopolize that field and develop the resources that should belong to us ? If private enterprise in Australia cannot undertake the task, the Government must do so. I sincerely hope that the undertaking will be successful. The Minister stated, in his secondreading speech -
It is only after much thought and research that the Government has decided to establish this enterprise.
Tasmanian representatives have been pressing for the establishment of an Australian whaling industry for many years, and we know that the Government has been investigating the proposition for some time with the object of establishing the industry on a satisfactory basis. The Minister also said -
Following inquiries over several years a recognized Norwegian whaling expert, Captain Alf Melsom, was engaged by the Government nearly eighteen months ago and he spent over a year investigating the possibilities of the successful development of the industry in Australia. Captain Melsom is convinced that there is a bright future for this industry. His ideas run first to a factory ship with chaser vessels to operate at various locations off the Australian coast and occasionally, in order to spell the Australian waters, in the Antarctic. Shore-based stations involving chaser vessels and processing factories on land could operate either in addition to a factory ship or as a modified alternative.
I believe that the two propositions should go together. It is advisable to operate whaling stations on the Australian coast because research has proved that whales migrate along both the eastern and the western sides of the continent. Furthermore, I can see no reason why the vast field that awaits exploitation in the Antarctic should be abandoned to other countries. Australia should take full advantage of the opportunities that are available there. We have the finest deepwater port in the world at Hobart. It is also closer to the Antarctic than is any other deep-water port and, therefore, is the most suitable port in the world for use as a whaling base. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) complained that the Government had refused to buy from Great Britain a ship worth £2,000,000. I, too, regret that the Government did not buy the vessel. Expense should not have prevented it from doing so. Australia recently made gifts of £25,000,000 and £10,000,000 to Great Britain. Obviously, therefore, the Government was not prevented by economic considerations from purchasing the ship. Even if the cost had been charged against the industry, I believe that the outlay would have been more than recovered from profits.
The potential value to Australia of the Antarctic whaling industry is clearly illustrated by the observer’s report upon operations in the Boss Sea. His record states -
On arriving in the Eoss Sea it was observed that krill (the main food of the baleen whale) was there in large quantities and also many blue whales were to be seen.
Fishing was carried out from Wednesday, 11th February, until Wednesday, 25th February, for a total catch of 78 blue whales or 5.5 per day. This was not a good catch considering the number of whales that were in the area, but the catchers were restricted in their operations by the inefficiency of their diesel engines. These engines caused a great deal of trouble and it was not uncommon to see three catcher boats drifting near the factory ship repairing engines.
The blue whales did not appear familiar with the catcher boats as they did not make off when approached but carried on feeding. However they were difficult to kill owing to the fact that they showed very little of their body above the surface when blowing, causing the gunners to fire many miss shots.
The slow chasing method was used in the Ross Sea, that is, the catcher boat approaches from behind the whale at a slow speed and so manoeuvres into position for the killing. The sound of the engine does not appear to scare the whales.
All blue whales killed in the Eoss Sea were very large and fat, the blubber being of a rich yellow colour resulting in a high oil yield per B.W.U. The largest whale caught was 91 -ft. female blue whale.
The Eoss Sea was remarkably free of icebergs, the only ones sighted being of a small nature. Fine weather was experienced during »ur stay, no fishing days being lost through fog or gales.
Many minke whales were sighted, but no finbacks.
According to that information, there can be no doubt that the whaling industry could be successfully developed from Australian bases. Modern harpoon guns in skilled hands could enable expeditions to kill many more whales than are killed under present conditions. With capable operators, a well-equipped expedition should be able to capture a full quota of whales within a very brief space of time.
Statistics show that enormous wealth lies almost at Australia’s doors. In 1938, 46,000 whales were caught in the Antarctic. The total catch from 1933 to 1939 was 250,000 whales. Sixteen whaling fleets from Norway, Great Britain, Japan, the United States of America and South Africa operated in the Antarctic in 1948. Norway exports between 15,000 tons and 20,000 tons of whale meat annually to the United Kingdom. If Norway can do that, is it not reasonable to assume that Australia could engage profitably in the same trade? Last year, 16,000 blue whales were caught in the Antarctic. That catch yielded 500,000 tons of whale meat, which exceeded the volume of meat exported from Argentina, the leading beef exporting country of the world. What would it mean to Great Britain if we could engage in that trade and supply it with frozen whale meat? I urge the Government to undertake the supply of whale products, especially meat, to the United Kingdom in its present hour of economic need. The Japanese expedition to the Antarctic last year obtained 22,000 tons of whale meat. I say that Australia has lacked enterprise in failing to engage in the industry. Whale meat is only one of its valuable products. Others are lubricants, paints, candles, cosmetics, soap, glycerine, chemicals for explosives, fertilizers and brushes.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had bowled over Senator Cooper’s socialization bogy. Oil and meat are not the only valuable parts of the whale. In addition to the byproducts that I have already mentioned, I understand that bone used in ladies’ corsets, so valuable for the figures of to-day, is also obtained from whales. The oil is of very high quality, and is used for tempering and hardening steel. I shall cite a few figures contained in a publication by the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, based on a report by Mr. K. J. Coonan, who was the official Australian observer in connexion with the Japanese whaling expedition that operated in the Antarctic in 1947-48. These figures give the total production, and whilst I am not familiar with some of the parts mentioned honorable senators may be assured that they are parts of whales. Under the heading of production, this information appears -
The total catch for the season was 490 whales, three blue whales were lost by reason of adverse weather conditions leaving a total of 487 whales processed, this number included: -
The whale oil yielded was 6,765 tons (40,590 barrels) with an average of 106.96 barrels per blue whale unit.
The following additional products were also derived: -
Sperm oil - 60 barrels (10 tons).
Liver oil - 7,292 kilograms.
Testis - 3,797 kilograms.
Ovary: - 372 kilograms.
Bone meal - 31.708 tons.
Salted products (raw material) -
Bed meat - 8,009 tons.
Sunoko - 797.72 tons.
Une - 2,068.77 tons.
Dendo - 146.44 tons.
Vomer - 33.05 tons.
Flukes - 212.28 tons.
Internal organs - 224.27 tons.
Frozen products (raw material) -
Bed meat - 1,265.35 tons.
Liver - 29.61 tons.
Cold storage (raw material)-
Bed meat - 1,200.8 tons.
A grand total of- 6,765 tons of whale oil. 14,677.89 tons of raw materials. 10,057.106 tons of finished products.
These figures show conclusively how valuable is the whaling industry to any country, and what benefit we should derive if Australia were able to obtain those urgently required materials. I understand that in 1947-48 there were seventeen factory ships operating in the Antarctic, whilst this year it is expected that 21 factory ships will be engaged there. If the catch is limited to 16,000 whales, I cannot see why Australia should not participate in that catch. I hope that the Government will reconsider its decision not to engage in Antarctic whaling and will, when possible, purchase a factory ship so that we can obtain our fair share of the good things offering down south. I understand that there are the following shore stations at present operating: Pour Norwegian; five British, at Natal, Newfoundland, Labrador, South Georgia and in South Africa; two Danish ; one in Iceland; two in Chile; two Canadian ; and one in Argentina. A pamphlet published by Karl Brandt, of the Food Research Institute, Stanford University, California, deals with the growth of the world’s Antarctic whaling fleet. This comment appears with relation to the shore stations that I have mentioned -
Of these shore stations the most important and effective producers of whale oil are the Argentinian and British stations in South Georgia, and the two South African stations. The Argentinian station seems capable of outproducing all the other shore stations of the world combined. The oil output of all shore stations will probably not exceed 5 to 10 per cent, of the world’s total whale-oil output.
Honorable senators will understand from this comment how necessary it is for Australia to engage in the Antarctic whaling industry if we desire to get our share of whale products. The article continues -
For sizing up the prospects for the supply of whale oil, the most relevant feature in the reconstruction of the fleets is the fact that during the second post-war whaling year the catching and processing capacity already ex- ceeded the catch limit set by international agreement.
It is evident that other countries are making sure of obtaining a share of the products of the Antarctic. I repeat that I hope that the Government will reconsider its decision, and buy a factory ship for use in the Antarctic, and base it at Hobart. According to Walkabout of the 1st September, 1946, Professor W. J. Dakin, professor of zoology at the University of Sydney, made this comment with relation to the possibilities of whaling -
Some indication of the whale hunt will be gleaned from the following figures for 1937-38. In that short summer 44,152 whales were killed in the Antarctic. In addition, during 1937 (chiefly in the winter) 3,242 humpbacks were killed off the coast of Western Australia (the biggest catch ever made there), 298 humpbacks were taken off the Congo, 3,381 whales were taken off the South African coasts, 4,120 were caught off Chile and Peru;, and 1,887 were taken off South Georgia.
Furthermore, the following comment was contained in an article on Australian whaling by Mr. Robin Hutcheon, which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 7th May, with relation to whaling in Western Australia : -
The whales start on their long trek from Antarctica as the Australian summer draws to an end, and make their first appearance off
King George’s Sound in May. During June and July the whales pass Pt. Cloates in an almost unending procession.
Those comments should convince any one of the wisdom of the Australian Government’s decision to commence whaling operations off the shores of Western Australia and New South Wales. I have much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– The purpose of this bill, as was explained by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Courtice) in his secondreading speech, is to make provision for the whaling industry to be established and developed on sound lines in Australia, and to appoint a central authority to manage that industry on behalf of the Government. I approach the consideration of this measure with a certain amount of background knowledge. This industry, when established by the Government on a proper footing, will make a great contribution to our food resources, and to Australia’s national economy. As the industry develops it will make possible the fulfilment of promises made some time ago to establish an Antarctic whaling base in Hobart. When the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization last met in Paris it decided that the food production in the world was insufficient to meet the ever-growing demands of larger populations; it is still far below the unsatisfactory pre-war levels. This gloomy fact is emphasized when seen in the light of the terrific rise of the world’s population. We must realize that there are now nearly 250,000,000 more mouths to be fed than in 1946. The necessity for Australia to establish the whaling industry to obtain oil and food is essential and, indeed, vital. My association with whaling, particularly in the Antarctic, dates back to 1923, when I was a boy of fourteen years of age. I remember that there came to the port of Hobart a Norwegian whaling fleet, under the command of Captain Carl Anton Larsen. It was the first Antarctic expedition to call there for many years. The mother ship, Sir James Clark Boss, was accompanied by five whale chasers known as stars 1 to 5. I had the natural curiosity concerning shipping of a boy who had been brought up in a seaport. Again in 1924 Nielson Alonzo, accompanied by a number of whale chasers, was at Hobart for some time. The services of a number of young Tasmanians were recruited and many people from Tasmania went to the Antarctic with both expeditions and accumulated a great deal of knowledge about whales. Some of them subsequently went to Norway and Hamburg with the mother ships and acquired additional knowledge. The whale chasers were left at Hobart to be repaired and refitted. Unfortunately, owing to certain circumstances, the Norwegian companies removed the scene of operations to Port Chalmers, in New Zealand, and the association of the port of Hobart with whaling in the Antarctic ceased. This bill proposes to establish the off-shore whaling industry at Point Cloates in Western Australia, similar to that in the Falkland Islands and at Durban in South Africa. That might be a satisfactory start, but, sooner or later, Australia must go to the heart of the tremendous natural resources in the Antarctic, much of which region is Australian territory. We have considerable interests there, and if we are to derive full value from the whaling industry we must outfit complete fleets consisting of a modern mother ship and Antarctic whalers. Many people regard the whale as being merely a big, fat fish, but the whale is not a fish; it is a warm-blooded mammal. It is of the same class of vertebrates as cattle. The cow whale produces its calves in the same way as does any of the bovine species. Therefore it is incorrect to regard the whale as an extraordinary large fish as most people do. Unfortunately, that is the limit of the knowledge of most people on the subject. The big blue whale has an average weight of 1 ton to the foot. One of the largest whales yet captured in the Antarctic was 120 feet long and weighed 120 tons. The blue whale is one of the most important of the species. Following the cessation of hostilities, the Norwegians quickly got back on to the job in the Antarctic when big companies associated with Lever Brothers organized expeditions to that region. The Norwegians realized that owing to the interruption of whaling during the war, the number of whales must have increased tremendously. They were soon followed by Japanese and Argentine operators, who employed fully equipped factory ships and chasers. At present whale meat is being eaten in Great Britain as a table dish. The meat is dark red in colour, not unlike a steak, but it has a fishy and oily flavour and is a little spongy. However, it is highly edible, and when mixed with curries and other spices it makes a good savoury, or entree. In addition, the industry produces many important by-products including margarine, and canned meat, leather and varnishes.
I shall now deal briefly with the history of whaling in Australia. It is not generally known that this country was one of the major whaling countries, and that at one time Hobart was the most famous of all the whaling ports. In Tasmania in the early 1830’s black whales were plentiful around Hobart and were found at points as far inland as 24 miles up the Derwent at New Norfolk. From 1827 to 1831 Tasmanian exports of oil and fins increased from 179 tons to 838 tons and from 168 cwt. to 818 cwt. respectively. In 1841 there were 35 bay whaling stations in that State, most of them operating four whale-boats, each manned ‘by seven men. In 1848 there were 37 locally owned whalers which operated around the west coast and in Bass Strait around King Island and Flinders Island. Their total displacement was 8,516 tons, and their crews totalled 1,046 men. In 1859, 27 locallyowned whalers, totalling 5,901 tons, with crews numbering 680 men brought their cargoes to Hobart. Then the industry began to decline. In 1870 there were seventeen whaling vessels engaged in waters around Hobart, but five years later only twelve vessels were operating in that area. The last boat to set out from Hobart on a whaling cruise was the barque Helen, which made that voyage in June, 1896. Thus, within a period of 65 years the whaling industry in Tasmania was born, it flourished and it died. At that time the waterfront at Hobart always presented a scene of great activity. Whaling men of all nationalities came there, including Americans from the Pacific coast, Norwegians and British, and it was not unusual for 35 whaling vessels to be in port at the one time. Those facts convey some idea of the importance of the whaling industry even in those days to Australia, and particularly to Tasmania.
In recent times no development of importance occurred until 1937 when a company set up a station at Albany on the coast of Western Australia. In that year that company caught six whales. Later, operations were conducted on a somewhat smaller scale at Twofold Bay, New South Wales, and, later still, at Point Cloates on the Western Australian coast. When I was returning from New Guinea via the west coast of Australia I went ashore at Point Cloates and inspected that company’s factory which had been neglected following the cessation of operations during the war. Senator Clothier has informed us that a private company is now about to commence operations there on a large scale fishing off shore and intercepting whales on their migratory trek from the Antarctic. I should like to emphasize an important point with respect to off-shore whaling. While in the Antarctic the whales are at their fattest. There they live on marine organisms which abound in those waters. In that region they build up their storage of oil. However, during their thrash of thousands of miles from the Antarctic they become worn out and lose condition in the same way as cattle lose condition when being taken from good pastures over miles of dusty road to the coast. Therefore, off-shore whaling is not so profitable as is whaling in the Antarctic. For that reason we ‘must eventually exploit the Antarctic waters.
Since I have been a member of the Parliament I have made a study of the whaling industry. I have often been asked why the Government did not proceed with the acquisition of a factory ship in accordance with a Cabinet decision made in 1946. At the time that decision was taken, the Norwegian Government passed a law forbidding Norwegian nationals from assisting in pelagic whaling operations except with expeditions which had operated prior to the war. By that means, the Norwegian Government sought to check certain proposals by another country to engage in Antarctic whaling, and its action would have prevented Australia from obtaining the services of experienced gunners and operatives for Antarctic operations. I submit that that problem can be overcome by the training of Australian personnel during coastal operations and by the use of men skilled in whaling who may migrate to this country. The Australian can become capable of undertaking any task provided he is given the requisite training and opportunities. Honorable senators will recall that at one time it was said that Australian industry could not produce a motor car, or an aeroplane. I have no doubt that Australians can be trained in the art of shooting whales. Indeed, although the whale is a difficult target, the average Australian who is a pretty good shot, could soon learn the art. It has also been said that Australia cannot obtain its full requirements to establish the industry. For instance, we cannot obtain modern factory ships. I believe that our shipbuilding yards are capable of constructing such vessels as well as vessels of other types used in the industry. During the last few years the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has constructed large vessels which are being used to transport iron ore from Yampi Sound. I cannot see any reason why we should not build all vessels of the types needed for whaling. In the 1936 and 3 937 seasons, two factory ships which operated off the coast of Western Australia captured over 6,000 whales, from which 42,000 tons of high grade oil, valued’ at over £850,000, was produced. At that time, whale oil was valued at about £20 a ton, whereas the price in the United Kingdom to-day is approximately £112 sterling a ton for No. 1 grade oil. A similar result would be most valuable on the basis of the present price of whale oil.
Whilst I believe that the Government should have gone much further under this bill, I agree that we can use coastal operations as a stepping-stone to operations in the Antarctic, using Hobart as the major base. On the 29th August, 1946, Mr. Frost, who was then member for Franklin and Minister for Repatriation, announced as a member of a Cabinet sub-committee appointed’ to investigate the proposals to establish the whaling industry that Australia would participate in the 1947 whaling season, and that requests had been made that Japanese factory ships, as well as a number of chasers, should be handed over to Australia as part of Japanese reparations. That request was refused by the American authorities in Japan. When I visited that country as a member of the parliamentary delegation I learned’ the reason for that refusal. In conversations with General MacArthur and representatives of the American Economic Bureau in Japan, we were informed that it was essential to enable the Japanese to re-establish their whaling industry as a means of easing the extreme shortage of food in that country. However, I have yet to be convinced that Australia should not be given factory ships and chasers as part of Japanese reparations, because there is very little else that the Japanese can make available to this country which would be of much use to us. I have examined statistics relating to the disposal of German whaling ships. The Germans were very interested in whaling and had considerable interest in the Antarctica. When the disposal of the German merchant marine was under consideration in 1946, it was decided to distribute its vessels to various allied countries in accordance with _ the proportion of shipping losses sustained by those countries. Under that arrangement, Great Britain received 46 per cent, of the German merchant marine because Britain had suffered the huge loss of 10,870,000 tons of its merchant shipping. It was announced at Oslo on the 9th April, 1946, that the three German whale oil refinery vessels that operated in “Norwegian waters during the German occupation of that country and were afterwards taken over by the Allies would be distributed to Great Britain, Russia and Norway. Empire Victory, which was formerly Unitas, of 22,000 tons gross, and was the world’s largest cargo-vessel, was given to Great Britain; Em.pi.re Venture, which was formerly Wikinger, of 13,800 tons, was given to Russia ; and Walter Rau, of 13,800 tons, was given to Norway. That indicates tha importance which major maritime powers attach to whaling vessels. Since Great Britain, Russia and Norway were considered entitled to receive German whaling vessels, surely we are entitled to press our request to the appropriate authorities to ensure that we obtain at least one whale factory ship with complementary chasers, from Japan, as part of our share of reparations.
When I was in Japan, I had in mind the establishement of the whaling industry by Australia, and with other members of the Australian parliamentary delegation. I made a special visit to Omanichi, where two large whaling ships were being fitted out by the Japanese, under the supervision of the American authorities, to proceed to the Antarctica as the third unit of the Japanese whaling fleet. I have with mr. photographs of the two vessels, Toyadachi Maru, and Nissin Maru, which honorable senators who are interested in the matter may care to examine. We saw Toyadachi Maru, but Nissin Maru, which was to have been available for our inspection, was for some reason best known to the Japanese, removed to another port, allegedly for inspection, on the eve of our visit. However, we learned that is- was to be used as a green meat factory ship. It was to be fitted with refrigerating machinery, so that the edible portions of green whale meat could be placed in cold storage for transport to Japan in much the same way as our vessels carry cargoes of beef and mutton to the United Kingdom. In addition, a complete canning plant was being installed in the vessel for the treatment of a number of whale meat delicacies. The construction of that vessel, which was of 16,000 tons, represents a major attempt on the part of the Japanese to re-establish themselves in the whaling industry. We were also informed that additional vessels of similar type could be built fairly quickly. In order to ensure that no unnecessary killing of whales took place, and generally to supervise the activities of the Japanese in the Antarctic, Australia was permitted to send an observer, Mr. Coonan, with the Japanese fleet. Mr. Coonan’s duty was to ensure that the Japanese did not slaughter young whales or commit other breaches of the international whaling convention.
Undoubtedly, Australia has a vital interest in the Antarctic, and by introducing this measure the Government has demonstrated its willingness to establish the industry. Although the Government proposes to make a start by establishing shore bases in Western Australia, I point out that the geographical location of
Hobart makes it the natural base for Australian whaling operations in thiAntarctic. Hobart is the last major port in the track of any vessel proceeding to, or returning from, the Antarctic. It has a magnificent harbour and is practically in a direct line to Ross Sea, Weddell Sea and the great Antarctic ice barrier. Hobart can provide adequate port facilities, including equipment for the repair, overhaul and refit of small chasers and, if necessary, of mother ships. There is no reason why factories for treatment of whale products should not be established there as an adjunct. The whale offal could be converted into poultry and cattle meal and oil cake, as is done in the Falkland Islands, and in Durban, South Africa. Incidentally, I understand that the Durban plant is worked mainly by coloured labour, so that its costs would he considerably less than ours. However, our costs would be much lower than those of our northern competitors, because our whaling vessels would be operating much closer to their base and the whales caught would not have to be carried nearly so far. I emphasize that whaling vessels which visit the Antarctic from countries in the north-eastern corner, of the globe, including Norway, have to travel thousands of miles to reach the Antarctic, and when they have made their catches they have to travel tremendous distances to reach their home ports, which considerably increases their costs. I repeat that Tasmania’s geographical location would make it an ideal place in which to establish the Australian whaling industry.
An acquaintance of mine who was in Norway at the outbreak of the recent war joined Terje Viken, a large Norwegian whaling ship of 32,000 tons, on which hi hoped ultimately to return to Australia. That vessel was the largest whale factory ship afloat. It was controlled by the Anglo Norske Company, of Great Britain, which is a combination of British and Norwegian capital. While he was in Antarctic waters he saw a number of other large vessels engaged in whaling operations, including Tapelberg, Hektonia, Cosmos, Nielsen Alonso and other Norwegian vessels, as well as American and Japanese factory ships. On board Terje Viken was a scientist, a graduate of Cambridge, “who was experimenting with the food values of canned meat. At the conclusion of the voyage he presented a report to the British authorities on his investigations. That report stated that the livers, flesh and hearts of whales were all excellent for canning, and that the meat of suitable small whales provided particularly nourishing and valuable steaks after being hung for several days.
It should not be impossible for Australian shipyards to build chasers which could be converted into naval auxiliary vessels in time of war. It is noteworthy that the British, German and Norwegians were able to convert their whale factory ships into mother ships for submarines and destroyers and also into oil tankers during the recent war. From the viewpoint of defence, apart altogether from economic considerations, it is clear that the establishment of the industry in Australia would be of vital importance. The Government has promised that the industry will be established in Hobart in the near future, and when that undertaking is fulfilled, I shall feel that we have really embarked on the industry.
In conclusion, I note that the bill provides for the establishment of a commission, which shall consist of a chairman, a deputy chairman and one other member. I do not know who will be appointed to those positions, but I hope that they know something about the industry, and I trust that they will take some notice of what has been said in this chamber to-night. As far back as 1946 a Cabinet sub-committe recommended that the whaling industry should be established in Tasmania. When I raised the matter in the Senate, the Minister informed me that in due course the industry would be established in Tasmania, but that the Government intended first to establish a shore based industry at Shark Bay, Western Australia. He said that when it was decided to embark on pelagic whaling, with factory ships, the base would be in Tasmania. I have pointed out that we can obtain factory ships in two ways. We are entitled to demand Japanese factory ships as part of the reparations to which we are entitled from our former Japanese enemies. Because of the extreme suffering and privation which they inflicted on our nationals during the war, the handing over of whaling vessels to this country by the Japanese would be a fitting reparation. Since General MacArthur has stated that that is not practicable, I believe that whaling ships should be built in Australia. That would also stimulate the development of our shipbuilding industry. We have the materials, the skilled labour and sufficient knowledge of shipbuilding. The construction of whaling vessels would provide a considerable amount of work in this country, and would attract national attention to the industry. Now that the Government has made a start by introducing this measure, I hope that in the near future the pelagic whaling industry in the Antarctic will be operated from Tasmania. I heartily commend the bill to honorable senators.
Senator TANGNEY (Western Australia fS. 44]. - In supporting the bill, 1 compliment Senator Murray on the great amount of research that he has performed and on the able manner in which he has presented his views. I feel that quite a number of us knew very little about the industry previously, but having had the advantage of hearing his exposition of the subject, it is not his fault if we do not know a great deal more about it now. Whilst I trust that the representations which he made on behalf of Tasmania will bear fruit, as a loyal Western Australian I am more than pleased that the Government proposes to establish the industry in Western Australia, as a beginning. The whaling industry in that State has always been a source of keen interest to our people. When I was a school child in Fremantle, I can remember seeing the Japanese whalers and chasers putting into port, and I have since wondered why the industry has been left solely to the Japanese. However, the Japanese taught us a thing or two, because while they were ostensibily engaged in carrying on the industry, they gained a great deal of knowledge of the coast of Western Australia. I view the whaling industry not solely from the economic point of view, but also from the defence point of view. Australia is an island continent, and anything that is concerned with the sea is of vital importance to our security. Just as people who come to settle in this country have to travel by sea, so our enemies who would attack us have to come by sea, and anything that we can do to foster industries that have a bearing on the sea, will be of great importance to the future continuance of this nation. Whilst supporting the bill, I regret that it has not been possible to obtain a factory ship in time to commence operations next year. In 1937, as several speakers have already said, there were two factory ships operating off the Western Australian coast. The report of one of the inspectors who was on board Ulysses, one of the factory ships, has been made available to me. The inspector also communicated with the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture when this whaling project was first mooted earlier in the year. The experiences of those on board that ship should be of some assistance to us in deciding the future of the whaling industry in this country, and particularly that part of it which this bill is designed to inaugurate. The factory ship Ulysses is of 16,000 tons. While operating in Western Australian waters, it had eight chasers each of 250 tons, and with a speed of 13 knots. In two and a half months, those chasers were able to catch 2,076 whales and the total value of the whale products at the then ruling rates was £400,000. The catches would have been greater had the ship been able to take aboard more water, or had its condensers been able to provide greater supplies each day. The vessel was able to condense 300 tons of water a day, but that was not sufficient and it was necessary for the vessel to put in at Carnarvon frequently to renew its water supply. However, the work done during that season showed that there is a big field of expansion for the industry up as far as Shark Bay and perhaps beyond. Whales have been known to travel as far north as Broome. In fact I myself have seen them in the waters around Broome, and, according to reports, they have been sighted as far north as Java. There may be something in what Senator Murray has said about whales losing condition as they venture northwards, but that certainly did not happen to me. The fact that the factory ship Ulysses was able in such a short space of time to load whale products valued at £400,000 shows that there is a future in the whaling industry in Australian waters if it is properly developed. There are many handicaps associated with shore stations. One is the towing of whales from where they are caught to the shore base. The Ulysses made an average catch of one whale every half-hour. One can readily imagine how the work of that vessel would have been handicapped if all the whales had to be towed to the shore base at the end of each catch. The supply would have been cut down by about 66§ per cent. When towing, the speed of a chaser is reduced from 13 knots to 3 knots. That, too, would have held up the work considerably. However, apparently the Government has made every endeavour to purchase a factory ship for next year’s operations. I understand that consideration was given earlier in the year to the purchase of a vessel from Belfast, but that ship was found to be unsuitable. I agree with Senator Murray that we should build our own factory ships. Five years ago, it was my privilege to launch H.M.A.S. Shoalhaven at a Queensland dockyard. That vessel has since proved its worth in tropical waters. Although it was built during the war, when speed was of the essence of the contract, it has proved to be an efficient unit of the Royal Australian Navy. In fact, last year, it won the prize for efficiency. In the prewar years, no one in this country dreamed that Australia would so soon be building ships of that type. I commend to the Minister who is in control of the Commonwealth shipbuilding activities, the suggestion that consideration be given to the construction of whaling vessels and chasers in this country as a very important adjunct to the establishment of this necessary and vital industry.
The whaling industry will also be a valuable avenue of employment. Many young Australians are thrilled to the core by the call of adventure and the call of the sea. There was ample evidence of this in the large numbers of young men who flocked to the armed forces at the beginning of the war. Dozens of former pupils of the school at which I taught before entering the Senate, enlisted in the Royal Australian Navy. Unfortunately, many of them did not return, but quite a number of those who did come back chose the merchant navy as a career, or invested all their savings, including their deferred pay, in the purchase of a ship to trade to Borneo and the Straits Settlements. That is typical of the spirit with which young Australians are imbued to-day, and I feel certain that there will be plenty of recruits to this industry when it is established.
The only criticism that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) offered of the proposal was that it would be a socialistic venture. Of course, there are always Jonahs where there are whales, and I think that the honorable senator has been a Jonah in his attitude towards this industry. I remind him- that many State enterprises have paid. I refer particularly to “Western Australia where the whaling industry is to be established. I have spoken on many occasions in this chamber of the excellent work, of the State Shipping Service of Western Australia. That service operates to the north-western coast of the State where there are many fine ports and harbours and anchorages. It has been more than a mere service to the people of the northwestern portion of Western Australia ; it has been their lifeline. It was inaugurated long before air services were established, and even to-day it still carries food and other essential supplies to northern ports because its freight rates are much cheaper than those of the airlines. The operations of the State Shipping Service also reduced fares and freights on the Western Australian coast. In fact, passengers may still travel by the vessels of that service at lower fares than apply anywhere else in the world. T say that without fear of contradiction, because the charges made by the service are astonishingly low. The undertaking, however, pays its way while rendering an excellent service. Its greatest drawback at present is a lack of sufficient vessels owing to losses by enemy action during the war.
I have a personal knowledge of the area in which the whaling industry is to be established. There are many excellent harbours and roads for ships, and I am certain that, with some success in the initial stages, the venture could be completed before long by the addition of factory ships, preferably built in this country. I have no doubt that the whaling industry can be placed on a sound, permanent footing in this country. At present, Australia is lagging behind other countries, some of which are carrying out whaling operation not only in the Antarctic, but also in Australian waters. Australia is a signatory to the International Whaling Convention and as such has an obligation to enforce the international whaling regulations. The Australian delegates to the international conference pledged the assistance of this country in the building up of the whaling industry which is more vital to-day than ever before because of the world food position. If we can help to provide more food, it is up to us to get on with the job. I tasted whale meat whilst I was in England, and although I did not like it - certainly I would not like to live on it - no doubt, as Senator Murray has said, it can be made more attractive by various methods of preparation. The people of Great Britain are very well pleased indeed to be able to buy whale meat, which I understand it quite palatable when properly cooked.
I commend the Government upon the introduction of this measure. It does not go as far as I should like it to go, but the fact that the whaling industry is to be established in this country is most gratifying. We have had small private whaling ventures before. For instance there was one at Albany comparatively recently, but unfortunately it was not on a large scale because of lack of capital. This is a big project, and it can only be undertaken on a national scale with the assistance of the National Parliament.
– in reply - I have listened with considerable pleasure to the very interesting discussion on this measure and I appreciate the general support that has been afforded to the bill by most honorable senators who have taken part in the debate. The only discordant note was sounded by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) ; but I do not think that he seriously opposes the measure. He expressed the fear that the passage of the bill would lead to the establishment of a socialist enterprise, but I point out that the Government has already issued whaling licences to certain companies operating on the Western Australian coast. There is no suggestion that the industry should be made a government monopoly to the exclusion of private enterprise. There is nothing in this” measure to prevent the operation of private companies. Undoubtedly whaling can be an important industry to this country. The project has been given a great deal of consideration by the Government over a long period. As I said in my second-reading speech, after inquiries extending over several years, a recognized Norwegian whaling expert Captain Alf Melsom was engaged by the Government nearly eighteen months ago and has spent more than a year investigating the possibilities of the successful development of the industry in Australia.
Several speakers have offered advice to the Government on what they regard as the best method of developing the _ whaling industry. Senator Murray, Senator Lamp, and other honorable senators are strongly of the opinion that a factory ship should be the basis of the industry. That is the view of Captain Melsom also ; he is convinced that there is a bright future for this industry. His ideas run first to a factory ship with chaser vessels to operate at various locations off the Australian coast, with occasional “ spells “ in the Antarctic. He believes that shore based stations with chaser vessels and processing factories on land could operate either in addition to a factory ship or as a modified alternative. Two or three years ago, when the Government first considered the proposal that it should engage in the industry, it decided that the best way to enter upon the project would be to buy a factory ship. However, the difficulty of obtaining a vessel was very great and the Government decided that, rather than delay the attempt to establish the industry, it would proceed along the lines indicated in this bill. T made it clear in my second-reading speech that the Government had made inquiries in various countries but had been unable to purchase a suitable vessel or to have one constructed or converted within a reasonable period of time. However, it will keep in mind the need for a suitable factory ship. Honorable senators need have no doubt that a genuine effort will be made to establish the whaling industry in Australia on a sound basis. The scientific advice that the Government has obtained indicates that the resources available near this continent are such as to justify the hope that the industry will be successful. If our hopes materialize, Australia will benefit considerably. The development of the industry will lead to decentralization in several parts of the Commonwealth, particularly in Western Australia, because its ramifications are great and will entail the employment of a great deal of labour.
I am not yet sure whether the Leader of the Opposition is opposed to the bill or not. Nevertheless, I rely upon his good judgment and his knowledge of affairs in general to influence him in the right direction. I am confident that he will realize the importance to Australia of having a flourishing industry of this kind and that, therefore, he will join with us in supporting the proposal. The measure was passed very promptly in the House of Representatives, in which there was practically no opposition to it. The Leader of the Opposition need have no fear that the venture will be a socialistic enterprise. I have no such fears. According to all the information that is available to me, I believe that the industry will be profitable to Australia. In Western Australia recently, I discussed the proposition with several persons who had been engaged in the industry for many years and had applied to the Government for licences to enable them to continue their operations. The Government is convinced that the manner in which private enterprise approaches the industry is not in the best interests of Australia. It believes that the approach must be determined and comprehensive. The expert whom the Government engaged as an adviser had been connected with the industry in many countries for a long time, and his reports were very encouraging. I hope that this potentially valuable industry will soon be added to the many other industries that now help to maintain our national prosperity. I thank honorable senators who have participated in the debate for their valuable contributions to it. After listening to them, I realize that I have yet to learn a great deal about the whaling industry. I appreciate very much the support that they have given to the measure, and I hope that it will be passed without delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McKenna) read a first time.
– I move -
That the hill he now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to repeal the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947-1948 and to make provision for the replacement of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Honorable senators will notice from a comparison of the titles of the existing act and the bill that the objects of the two measures are the same. In this casual industry, it has been very difficult over the years to provide sufficient pools of labour for handling cargoes and to maintain regularity of employment and earnings among waterside workers. That is why it is necessary to have some authority to provide pools of labour for the regular and speedy turn-round of ships and to change, as far as possible and with as little dislocation as possible, this casual and intermittent industry into one providing regular and steady employment.
The Government decided in 1947 that every possible step should be taken to achieve industrial peace in what had always been one of Australia’s most tur bulent industries. The experience gained from the Stevedoring Industry Commission set up in the war years, together with Mr. Justice Foster’s recommendation, led the Government to make a bold legislative experiment. It vested in the one commission, not only the administrative functions that I have mentioned, but also powers to prevent or settle industrial disputes. Success in handling these disputes was hoped for, not because of any departure from arbitration, but because there would be greater opportunities for co-operation of both employers and employees whilst still retaining arbitration. The spirit and rules of arbitration were maintained by providing that a judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, or a conciliation commissioner, would be the independent and impartial chairman of the commission. In fact, Mr. Justice Kelly, a judge of the court, was appointed as first chairman.
The commission - continuing the work of the war-time body - has performed its two-fold functions, one in the sphere of management, and the other in the sphere of conciliation and arbitration, with a measure of success which well justified both the Government’s experiment and the commission’s continued existence. Regular pools of labour have been available for stevedoring operations throughout Australian ports, and in various ways assistance has been given to both ship-owners and waterside workers in the more efficient conduct of stevedoring operations. Here I mention the very valuable assistance rendered by the commission in the. removal of the major portion of the 1948 record sugar crop from Queensland sugar ports. That was an important success because, at the beginning of crushing, all sugar interests and shipowners agreed that the task was well nigh impossible. They also predicted that sugar would be moved so slowly that crushing would be stopped at various mills. In fact, however, such catastrophes did not occur. The commission has maintained bureaux and pick-up centres and has allocated labour among the various ships and competing shipowners in a manner which it would have been impossible for shipowners themselves in the various ports to achieve. In this connexion, attention must be paid to the general shortage of labour in Australian industry and the responsibility of the commission not to take too much labour from the common pool and give it to the shipping industry to the detriment of industry generally and the Australian economy.
On the industrial side, by virtue of the stress which was laid on conciliation the commission was able very substantially to reduce the time lost by strikes and industrial stoppages. In the first phase of the commission’s activities, the time lost by these stoppages, even including the time lost in the long general strike in Queensland in 1948, was reduced to well under one-half of that lost in the previous year. Later, and up to the suspension of the commission’s activities, this lost time was reduced still further to between onethird and one-quarter. The commission was able also to continue benefits which, although due to the men, would have been difficult of achievement if the industry had not been under some sort of unified control. In this connexion, I mention the payment of attendance money, which not only was a benefit to the men but also provided an effective guarantee of their regular attendance at pick-up centres for work. Also, the commission was able to grant annual leave with pay to workers in this casual industry and to organize the arrangements for the actual taking of such leave.
Having devoted its primary attention to the reduction of strikes, the commission had advanced to a position where it could devote more attention to the achievement of greater efficiency in the conduct of stevedoring operations. At that stage, when the round-table method had achieved success in the avenues indicated, and when gradual success in other avenues was to be expected, the representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation on the commission indicated in a clear and unmistakable manner that the round-table method could not succeed so long as they were members of the commission. Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach, the federation’s representatives, on two different occasions incited waterside workers to strike against their own commission’s orders. The strikes had nothing whatever to do with the conditions of employment of waterside workers, but followed court proceedings against a Mr. Sharkey and a Mr. McPhillips, neither of whom had any connexion with this industry. As a result of those incitements, stoppages occurred in various ports and a state of affairs was brought about which neither the chairman of the commission nor the Government could tolerate. The Government asked for assurances from Mr. Healy and Mr. Roach, that, while they remained members of the commission, they would cooperate with it and not incite members of their federation to flout the commission’s authority and disobey its orders. They refused to give these assurances and the Government then asked the federation to nominate two other representatives in their place. When the federation refused to do that, the Government had no alternative but to dissolve the Stevedoring Industry Commission. At the same time the Government realized that the admitted need for an administrative authority to maintain pick-up centres and bureaux and supply labour still existed. As events had shown that the time was not yet ripe for the actual disputants to be represented on the commission the only solution was to create a similar authority on which neither side would be represented. This bill, therefore, provides for the establishment of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board which will replace the .Stevedoring Industry Commission. The Government considered, however, that the industrial functions should not be vested in the board, but in a judicial tribunal. It considered that the most appropriate tribunal for this industry was the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. The bill therefore provides that the jurisdiction to prevent or settle by conciliation or arbitration, industrial disputes in this industry, and power to regulate industrial matters should be vested in that Court. This jurisdiction will be exercised by a single judge. The Board has power to intervene and be represented in all proceedings before the court, thus preserving a vital link between the board and the court. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Board will consist of a chairman and two other members, fulfilling, broadly speaking, the functions exercised by the commission other than those associated with arbitration. These functions are set out in clause 13, and include the regulation of stevedoring operations, the provision of sufficient waterside workers for such operations, the payment of attendance money, the establishment of employment bureaux, and the provision of amenities. The board is also charged with the function of developing port facilities, including the introduction of mechanized methods of handling cargo. The Board’s functions are to be performed with a view to securing the speedy, safe and efficient performance of stevedoring operations. This board will continue to deal with such matters as the actual machinery of registration of waterside workers, the allotment of gangs to employers as required, the provision of amenities, and generally to ensure that such measures as are possible are taken for securing efficient working on the waterfront and the availability of adequate labour for the loading and unloading of ships. No provision is made for the representation of any particular interests on the board.
Parts III. and IV. of the bill provide, respectively, for the continuation of the systems of registration of employers and waterside workers and the establishment of waterside employment committees. The provisions of the regulations made under the Stevedoring Industry Act with respect to alteration of port quotas have, with slight modification, been inserted in clause 22. The financial provisions of the bill are similar in effect to the financial provisions of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947-1948. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Board will assume all the rights, property, assets, obligations and liabilities of the Stevedoring Industry Commission constituted under the Stevedoring Industry Act 1947-1948. The continuance of proceedings and the keeping in force of orders made by the commission are also provided for. There will be no interruption of the control and regulation of the industry, and the new board will be able to take over from the commission with a minimum of dislocation.
In introducing this measure the Government is making an earnest endeavour to retain for the industry and the community the benefits that were obtained by its former legislation, and to provide for further progress, greater efficiency and more harmony in the industry. There is room for considerable improvement in cooperation between employers and the workers in this industry and the Government trusts that, under the measures now introduced, employers and employees will co-operate fully with the court and the board. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Sullivan) adjourned.
Debate resumed(vide page 2000).
– I suggest that the debate on this measure should also cover the War-time Refugees Removal Bill 1949, because one measure is complementary to the other.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - With the concurrence of the Senate, I agree to the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– The Immigration Bill 1949 deals with the power to remove from Australia certain Asian people who came here as a result of the exigencies of war, and during the period of hostilities. The War-time Refugees Removal Bill is based on the amendment of the Immigration Act, and deals with certificates granted to migrants who come to this country on a temporary basis only. I understand that as the result of a recent High Court decision it has become necessary to legalize those temporary certificates, in order to make the stay of students attending colleges and business people legal. Our national immigration policy has been adhered to by all Australian governments, irrespective of political colour, ever since the Immigration Restriction Act was placed on the statute-book in 1901. Whatever government has been in power, the aim of that policy has been to maintain the European character of our population. Australia has probably a higher percentage of European population than has any other country in the world. Preservation of that basis has been accomplished principally by the application of the dictation test, which consists of the writing of a sentence of 50 words in a European language. It is dictated by an immigration officer to a person seeking entry to Australia. Over the years that method has been of considerable benefit. That policy was not adopted because of any thought of racial superiority, and it is not intended to convey to people in other parts of the world that the colour of a person’s skin is of any significance in the matter. By its use we merely maintain our Australian national characteristics and the standard of living in this country. Other countries, both European and non-European, have laws providing for restricted immigration. For example, both Malaya and Burma restrict the immigration of Chinese and Indians to those countries ; Indonesia and the Philippines also restrict the immigration of Chinese. Other countries have adopted the quota system by which they permit the entry of a specified quota of people of different nationalities each year. The position is fully in accord with the national immigration policy of this country followed through the years, but it is not in accord with the hard and fast attitude that has been adopted by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) when dealing with certain isolated cases such as what has become known as the O’Keefe case, that was mentioned by the Minister when introducing the bill this afternoon. Although the act empowers the Minister to use his discretion, he has administered the act with a rigourous application to all and sundry. Unfortunately a few cases have attracted worldwide attention, and have caused misapprehension and misunderstanding in some Asian countries. Surely the Minister could have adopted a more “ Nelson-like “ attitude towards those cases. At times his actions have reminded me of a little boy poking a hornet’s nest; when the hornets start to come out of the nest and sting him there is a general flare-up. The Minister appears to have stirred up a hornet’s nest, not in this country, but in the outside world, and caused a general flare-up in some Asian countries. What possible detriment could have resulted to Australia if the O’Keefe family had been allowed to remain in this country?
Briefly, the facts are that the present Mrs. O’Keefe, together with her husband and seven children, escaped from the Japanese forces in the islands. The whole family was brought to Australia by an Australian warship on the 18th September, 1942. Another child was born in Australia on the 23rd August, 1943. Her husband, after receiving special training in Australia, was killed in September, 1944, whilst serving with the Dutch Army. On the 14th January, 1947, approximately three years after her husband’s death, this woman married John William O’Keefe, a British subject. Under section Iti of the Nationality Act, Mrs. O’Keefe became a British subject by her marriage to John William O’Keefe. Her case was most exceptional and could not possibly be regarded as a precedent that might be invoked in respect of any appreciable number of other cases, as the Minister suggested it could be. Therefore, in this instance, the Minister should have used his discretion and allowed Mrs. O’Keefe to remain in Australia, particularly as her deportation would entail the removal of British subjects in the persons of herself and her husband, and one of her children, who is a native-born Australian. It is all the more deplorable that such hardship should be inflicted upon the family of a man who died in defence of Australia. On the 9th February last, the Minister said -
If we allow these people to stay we shall have to leave the flood-gates open to any Asiatics who want to come here.
That statement was most illogical, because if the Minister allowed the O’Keefe family to stay in Australia, such a decision, having regard to the special circumstances of the case, would not in any way have any bearing at all upon our national policy of excluding certain people from this country. The power of exclusion still remains under the Immigration Act. It would be interesting to know exactly how many families in Australia, are situated in similar circumstances. I should say that there would be very few similar cases. It would appear that as the result of the High Court’s judgment in favour of Mrs. O’Keefe, she and her family are now to be victimized, and that the Minister has introduced this measure primarily in order to pursue his relentless pressure upon that unfortunate family. It would be difficult to imagine a title more offensive than the title of this measure, which reads, “ War-time Refugees Removal Bill”. That title is offensive to those people who found sanctuary in this country during the recent war. It is a most provocative use of words, to which people in various Asian countries will take strong exception. A better title for the bill would be “ Immigration War-time Adjustment Bill “. It would be much less offensive than that given to the measure by the Government. The people who sought sanctuary in this country during the war can well be regarded as war-time migrants. The title which I suggest would not give any offence to our Asian neighbours whose nationals are directly affected by this hill. Although I have criticized the Minister’s administration of our immigration law, nevertheless I have not criticized Australia’s standing policy in respect of matters of this kind. I ask honorable senators opposite to note that point particularly. I make it clear to the Government that the Opposition is entirely in accord with the immigration law of this country, but, as I have already pointed out, we believe that administrative justice should be tempered with mercy in special cases.
– I do not suppose that any legislation introduced into this Parliament since the end of the recent war has been more controversial than this measure. I sincerely trust that the press, if it reports any portion of my speech to-night, will record my remarks accurately, because from my observations on my recent visit abroad, I believe that no event in Australia has caused more concern in other countries than has the High Court’s judgment in the O’Keefe case. That judgment and the various statements which have been attributed in the Australian press to members of all political parties in this country regarding that case and similar cases have been given the widest possible publicity in newspapers overseas, and some of the statements published in the American pres9 regarding the Australian Government’s handling of our immigration policy in such instances were grave distortions of the facts. I can only assume that such1 statements were published deliberately’ with the objects of arousing disgust at the Australian Government’s action andto cause international ill will. One object of those reports was to create” the impression that the White Australia policy - I am not now concerned about the appropriateness of that term - which has been supported by the overwhelming majority of Australians since federation, rests on an anti-racial basis. I was glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) say to-night, as he has said on several previous occasions, that Australians regard the White Australia policy, not as an anti-racial but primarily as an economic policy, which has enabled this young country to achieve an enviable standard of living for its citizens. It is a thousand pities that statements made during discussions on this matter, which is of vital interest to this young nation, should he torn to shreds by the press, not only in this country, but also in other countries, with a view to creating the impression that Australians would deny any right to people because of their colour. I say emphatically - and I hope that the press, if it reports my remarks will report them accurately - that, after witnessing certain events in the United States of America, if there is one thing for which Australians should thank our predecessors in this Parliament, it is that they steadfastly maintained a policy which has obviated racial problems which are of every-day occurrence in countries overseas. Australians, to-day, have a lot to be thankful for in that respect. I hope that should it ever come, the day will be far distant when Australia will be confronted with problems similar to those existing in countries on the other side of the Pacific.
Much has been said about the manner in which the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has handled these cases. The Minister does not require any one to make an apology for him on that score. In discharging his difficult task, no doubt as distasteful to him as it would have been to any other person who may have occupied’ his position, he had no alternative but to do what he did. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate and his colleagues in the Opposition parties in the House of Representatives, have contended that the Minister should have used his discretion in dealing with the O’Keefe case and similar cases. I submit that he would have been lacking in his duty had he thus shirked his responsibility. Since the end of the recent war, every honorable senator, in the course of his duties as a member of the Parliament, has been asked to make representations to the Minister to allow to remain in Australia certain people who came to this country as refugees during that conflict. I make no apology for saying that I wholeheartedly support the Minister’s handling of the various cases that have arisen. I emphasize that I am not devoid of human sympathy, and I quite appreciate the painful embarrassment which the Minister must have suffered in having to decide many of the cases placed before him. Having said that, I express the sincere hope that Australia will never deviate from its present immigration policy. Had it not been for the recent decision of the High Court in the O’Keefe case, this legislation would not have been introduced. All political parties must accept their share of the odium associated with the enforcement of the White Australia policy. Since the Australian people have declared their emphatic support of that policy, and since it appears to he impracticable to obtain an affirmative vote at a referendum, the only means by which agreement can be obtained concerning the application of that policy is to hold a convention of all political parties. However, I point out that the United .States of America, which in point of population and material wealth has become one of the modern wonders of the world, fearlessly enforces its immigration laws. Had our White Australia policy and our immigration laws been embodied in the Constitution, the present Government would have been saved the embarrassment connected with enforcing the law during the last eighteen months. I cannot discover any valid reason to justify the Opposition continually prating about the need for the Minister to exercise discretion in administering our immigration laws.
– Particularly since an anti-Labour administration waa responsible for the mishandling of the Freer case only a few years ago.
– I am sorry that Senator Aylett has mentioned that matter, because I am sure that it must embarrass the Leader of the Opposition, who was a member of the Senate and a supporter of the anti-Labour administration that was in office at that time. The purpose of the present measure is to remedy the situation that was disclosed by the recent decision of the High Court. The enactment of this legislation will permit the Government to continue to exercise the power to deport unwanted aliens which it was always believed to possess. The circumstances which gave rise to the recent litigation in the High Court, and were responsible for the introduction of this measure, must cause the gravest anxiety to every citizen of this country. Any real Australian who realizes what is happening in other countries, including the British Commonwealth, because of racial minorities, must whole-heartedly support the Government’s endeavours to preserve us from a repetition of those unpleasant occurrences. In saying that I am not actuated by any feeling of hostility to those who differ from me in colour, race or creed. I am simply pointing out that in the interests of Asiatic people, as well as of our own, Australia must remain “white”.
During my recent visit overseas I discovered that thoughtful people in various countries, including coloured people, are at a loss to understand why all this trouble has arisen concerning the deportation of Asiatic people who were given asylum here during the war. People overseas realize that during the war no nation was more generous than Australia was in providing refuge and succour for refugee aliens, and that most of those who were given refuge here during the war would not have been permitted under any consideration to enter, still less to remain in, Australia before the war. I agree with critics of the Government that the Minister for Immigration should be able to exercise discretion in administering our immigration laws, but I point out that members of the Opposition have no right to complain when the Minister exercises that discretion and discharges his public duty by upholding the law. Indeed, it ill becomes public men and the press of this country to attack the Minister merely because he is upholding the settled policy of this country. When I was in the United States of America, I was unpleasantly surprised when I was asked whether it was correct that certain Australian newspapers had invited the people to subscribe to a fund to contest the legal right of the Government to deport unwanted aliens. Whilst I had to admit that that was true, I took the opportunity to point out that the attitude of the press organizations concerned was nothing more than a blatant political manoeuvre. Wherever I went I emphasized that the Minister for Immigration is anything but a man of stone. I told those with whom I came in contact that the honorable gentleman is one of the most sincere men that I have known, that he has a wide sympathy with, and understanding of, human nature, and that he was merely doing his duty. I pointed out that the people of this country are determined that it shall remain “white” and that they wholeheartedly support the Minister. I particularly regret that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper), who has always asserted his firm support for the White Australia policy, should have attacked the Minister. It is not without significance that outbursts in the press against members of the Government are invariably followed by attacks on Ministers by members of the Opposition in both chambers of the Parliament. I defy contradiction when I say that in the last two controversial deportation cases, which were most distressing, the press presented their version of the facts in a most unfair and distorted fashion. Although the cases were vitally connected with a fundamental national policy the press reports, articles and editorials were coloured by considerable political bias. I trust that the passage of this measure will put an end to the unpleasant and damaging propaganda that has been directed at the Government. The present measure must be passed because obviously the Government must have adequate powers to administer the law.
The comparative statistics of deportation? from Australia and the United
States of America that were quoted by the Minister during his second-reading speech were most enlightening. While I was in the United States of America, I took the trouble to obtain statistics concerning the number of aliens who had been deported from that country, and those statistics agree with those mentioned by the Minister. Although I do not propose to reveal details of conversations that I had with American public men, I was surprised that I should be interrogated concerning the recent incidents connected with the enforcement of our immigration laws. I explained the situation, and invited the American authorities to confer with the Australian Ambassador to Washington to confirm my remarks. I hoped thereby to assist to restore the good name which we previously enjoyed overseas. I lay at the door of members of the Opposition and the press the responsibility for the ill feeling that has been engendered abroad against this country. It is time that a halt was called to such subversive propaganda. The statistics cited by the Minister showed that during 1946 and 1947, Australia deported 143 persons, or approximately one person for every 48,000 of the population. During the corresponding period the United States deported 33,038 persons, or approximately one for every 4,200 of the population. Until the recent war it was believed that Australia was almost immune from attack by any Asiatic power, but the rapid development of air striking forces during the war and the application of science to methods of destruction, have demonstrated the need for us to be more vigilant than ever to safeguard our security. Nevertheless, Australia is still one of the freest and least troubled nations in the world, which is borne out by a comparison of the statistics of deportations from the United States of America. Those statistics also furnish some indication of the determination of the people of the United States to preserve their present racial composition. Although it is true that the population of the United States of America is eighteen times that of Australia, the figures that I have given are significant. Ninety per cent, of the people deported from the United States of America were in that country temporarily. It is interesting to note the following statement by Sir Frederic Eggleston -
America’s exclusion of orientals was always ruthless before the establishment of the quota system and now, outside the quotas, it is still ruthless for all immigrants. Few exceptions are made, and deportation follows any violation of temporary permits.
Who are we to question the wisdom of the immigration policy of the United States of America? That country is confronted with a delicate problem which, owing to the foresight of early legislators, does not exist in this country, and, please God, will never exist. The views of certain organizations in this country on our immigration policy are significant. As the Minister said in his second-reading speech, the Australian Natives Association has for many years stood behind Australian governments, whether Libera] or Labour, in maintaining the White Australia policy. The Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, too, has left no room for doubt about where it stands. I was particularly interested in the Minister’s reference to the marked similarity between the views of Australian and American ex-servicemen on this question. The Minister drew attention to the fact that the National Convention of the American Legion, held in November, 1945, had resolved -
That all war refugees who have been enjoying our /sanctuary, haven and hospitality shall lie returned promptly to the countries whence they came.
The resolution continued -
Post-war immigration will receive the very earnest attention of the Congress during the current session : in fact, a special subcommittee of the Congress has been engaged since early summer on a survey, not only on the broad subject of immigration, but also on deportation and naturalization legislation. Already available reports of their meetings indicate a coalition of various types of organizations and minority groups whose particular functions appear to be . . . assisting the aliens within the deportable classes to avoid deportation, and in aiding and abetting the naturalization of aliens generally. Their primary interest is the aliens rather than the general welfare of their country.
Pome of the legislative proposals of these groups would increase immigration; grant lawful entry to aliens now here in violation of our laws; confer citizenship on persons lacking the ordinary educational requirements . and relax existing deportation laws.
Obviously, minority pressure groups are at work in the United States of America, as they are in this country. Their existence is admitted by loyal-minded American citizens whose love of their country, I have no doubt, is no less than that of Australians. Apparently, it is well known that there are many people in the United .States of America who work unceasingly to find loopholes in the immigration laws of that country which will permit the entry of undesirable foreigners. Can we claim that Australia is free from such people? I have only to remind the Senate of the widespread publicity that has been given to the proposed deportation of certain individuals, and of the tactics of the Opposition parties, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, to show that it is not. The term “ merciless “ has been applied to the Minister for Immigration, but I contend that had he failed to act as he has done he would have been doing a disservice to this country and would have been permitting our immigration laws to be used as a political football by Labour’s lifelong opponents. I sincerely trust that the powers sought under thi? measure will be adequate to protect this country from a statu nf affairs which is prevalent in some of the more thickly populated lands. I refer, of course, to the “ colour “ problem. That, I admit, is an unfortunate term, but we use it in the absence of a better ore. I could cite cases of hardship which would almost, make one cry. The Minister’s task has been most difficult. I have no doubt that he has been most sympathetic to some of those people, but he has had to be firm in spite of adverse publicity and the repeated cries for the exercise of discretion. I speak with some feeling on this matter because I believe in the right of every human being to a reasonable, existence. If I could do a good turn for some of those people I would not his lagging behind any honorable member opposite. The Government is to be commended upon the manner in which it has administered the immigration laws of this country. It has adhered rigidly to the White Australia policy, not on the ground of .racial discrimination, but because of economic necessity. It ha.i always done its utmost to raise the standard, of living in less fortunate countries. 1 trust that the time will never come when Australia will have to pass legislation such as that now in force in the United States of America. God forbid that we in this country should ever have to face the racial problem that exists in America, and also to some degree in South Africa. I warmly commend the bill, and 1 hope that if my remarks upon it are to be reported in the press, they will not be torn from their context. I have endeavoured to give an accurate representation of the facts as I see them.
– I have great pleasure in supporting this bill, because it is fundamental to the development of this country by a predominantly Anglo-Saxon people. 1. also congratulate the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) upon the introduction of the measure. In my opinion, he has taken the only action that could be taken by any Minister who has the welfare of this country at heart. The bill relates to the Government’s control over people who come to this country in normal circumstances and also to a special class of persons who entered Australia during the war. When the Asiatic hordes from Japan swept down on the countries to the north of Australia, asylum was given in this country to thousands of people of all denominations, colours and creeds. I recall seeing crowds arriving at Broome by air and sea. I also remember the arrival of the refugee fleet which was driven out of the Philippines, Java and various other countries to our north. Many people who came here as war-time refugees worked hard in the interests of this country, but there were some who had deserted their ships in time of war, and because of the higher standards of living in this country, decided to remain here as long as possible. They have forgotten, apparently, the debt of gratitude that they owe to this country for granting them protection during the war, because they have made it most difficult for the Australian immigration authorities to repatriate them. In this matter, the press of Australia has sought to malign the Government, and particularly the Minister for Immigration, but in my opinion he followed the only course open to him in the interests of the Australian people. I compliment him upon his determination to see this matter out despite rebuffs by the press and by the High Court. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, mentioned people from China, Nauru, Indonesia and other places. Many of them of course returned to their native lands grateful for what this country did for them. Many others had to be tracked down at great expense, and when proceedings were taken against them with the object of removing them from the country the Minister was made the target for a stream of vituperation and abuse by people whose sole purpose was to embarrass the Government .as much as possible. It is not generally appreciated that, for humanitarian reasons, the Minister would gladly treat each case upon its individual merits, but that the law contains no provision for the exercise of compassion. In sticking to his guns and seeing the matter through, the Minister has done only what has been required of him by the law.
Members of the Opposition in the Senate and in the House of Representatives have argued that every person has the right to choose his or her wife or husband. That is true, and it is not denied. But every country has the right to decide whom it will permit to live within its borders. The marriage of Australian citizens to people of coloured races is not relevant to this discussion. Our laws at present do not permit such persons to remain in Australia without authority. The discussion of this subject brings to mind the questions that have been asked from time to time about the fate that will befall the wives of Australian members of the occupation forces in Japan who married in that country. Stories about the marriage of Australian men to Japanese women have been’ greatly exaggerated. I have been reliably informed by the military authorities that the Australian commanding general has not authorized any marriages of Australians with Japanese women. Any unions that have taken place have occurred outside military jurisdiction according to Shinto rites. They are. not what we would recognize as marriages. Therefore, the question of the admittance of Japanese women does not enter into this matter. It is not generally known in Australia that, during 1946-47, the latest period for which statistics are available, the immigration authorities in the United States of America deported 33,038 persons, which represents u rate of approximately one person for every 4,200 citizens. That subject was not mentioned by the press throughout its campaign against the Minister for Immigration and the Government in connexion with the O’Keefe case. An experience that befell one of my relatives in the United States of America illustrates the manner in which the authorities in that country administer its immigration laws. My relative, having joined the crew of an American ship, decided that he would like to see more of the United States of America than he had been able to see in the ports at which the vessel had called. Without an entry permit or passport he deserted his ship and remained in the United States of America for approximately six months. He was eventually apprehended and, despite his protests as a good white Australian, was herded in a calaboose with Assyrians and people from many other parts of the world until he was able to make -contact with the British ViceConsul at San Francisco. His efforts were of no avail, and he had to leave the country. That is how a civilized, white, democratic country deals with its immigration problems. It deported a good white Australian. I do not complain about that. My relative was in the country illegally, and the United States authorities exercised their right to return him to his native land. Unlike many of the people to which this bill will apply, he was fully prepared to leave the country because he had no right to remain there.
The bill seeks to do only what is done as a matter of normal administration in the United States of America. It provides for the deportation of certain aliens who have made up their minds to remain in Australia as long as they wish to stay, although they have no right to do so. As an ex-serviceman, I associate myself with the attitude of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. The league has left no room for doubt concerning its support of our established immigration policy and the deportation of persons who sought refuge in Australia during the war. The federal executive of the league reaffirmed its traditional policy at a recent meeting in Hobart, at which it passed the following resolution : -
That this executive pledges its unwavering support for the principle of a White Australia and agrees with the decision of the Government to repatriate war-time evacuees whom it admitted to Australia under specific conditions as to their return, and, approving as it does* the Commonwealth’s gesture in giving them sanctuary at that time, it will support any legislation which the Government may consider necessary to empower it to effect the return of these people to their countries of origin in accordance with the conditions under which they were admitted.
I also direct the attention of the Senate to the attitude of the Australian Natives Association, an Australia-wide body of Australian-born citizens, which has set an example to many other organizations by pledging its unwavering support for the maintenance of, not what is termed erroneously the “White Australia policy “, but the policy that was laid down many years ago and that has been pursued ever since by governments of all political colours. I shall not labour the subject. The need for the bill is obvious, and I congratulate the Minister for Immigration upon having introduced it in spite of the storm of abuse that has broken over him. It has been designed especially to deal with the problem of war-time evacuees. It will place the situation of all such persons beyond any doubt and, when those who still remain in Australia have been removed, it will have fulfilled its purpose. I support the bill.
– in reply - There has been very little criticism to answer in this debate. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) stated very definitely the policy that he and the parties that he represents accept now and have always accepted in relation to restricted immigration. We are all in line on that policy. There is no doubt about that. I support the earnest prayer that was voiced by Senator Critchley that we shall always be in line on that policy. Although the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has held that office for some years, only one case has been brought forward as au illustration of his so-called harsh, cruel and unkind application of our immigration laws. That is the famous O’Keefe case. The Leader of the Opposition declared that the treatment of Mrs. O’Keefe by the Minister for Immigration had been harsh and indiscreet. “We all know that the decision of the High Court of Australia in relation to that case led to the introduction of the measures that we have been discussing in this debate. Until our immigration law was challenged in the High Court, successive Australian governments had administered it firmly convinced that they had a valid right to do so. However, the court’s decision disclosed that people whom it was not desirable to accept as permanent citizens could not legally be deported. Therefore, the Government was obliged to introduce corrective legislation.
I had the great honour to act as Minister for Immigration for a period of more than three months, during which the Minister was overseas. From my experience, I know that every application made by an alien for permission to remain in the country has a strong personal aspect. Each lias its background of emotional human problems, and I should say that, if the Minister were to exercise his discretion very much, he would have the greatest difficulty in bringing himself to deport anybody. Every one of those persons has a strong personal reason for wanting to remain in Australia. Some are afraid to return to their homelands. Others have made strong friendships within Australia. Others have lent money and cannot get it back, and they claim, as a reason why they should stay in Australia, that they must wait until they can collect what is due to them. That is a very important matter for such persons. A man who has lent his life savings would naturally fear that, once deported, his chance of recovering his money would be infinitesimal. The appeals that are made to the Minister cover such a wide field that only those who have intimate contact with his work can have a proper conception of the complexity of the problems with which he must deal. Yet of all the thousands of cases that the Minister has handled, only one has been paraded before the Parliament this evening as an example of harshness! I should say that that is an outstanding tribute to the manner in which the honorable gentleman has conducted the affairs of the Department of Immigration. We do not know all of the facts of the O’Keefe case. The file that deals with that woman’s affairs is not available to us. However, having acted as Minister for Immigration for a period, I can assure the Senate that the Minister does exercise his discretion. He does not exercise it often, but he acts in his own wisdom and discharges to the best of his ability the duties that he was appointed to perform. In the case of Mrs. O’Keefe, I should say that she unquestionably accepted an obligation, when she was admitted as a refugee during the war, to return to her own country as soon as the need for sanctuary ceased. I shall not argue the merits or demerits of the case. It was a problem in which the Minister exercised his judgment in the best in:terests of the country. However, I emphasize the point that was strongly developed by Senator Critchley. The press of Australia did a grave disservice to the nation by the way in which it treated that and other immigration cases. I consider that the newspapers should accept a share of responsibility for the maintenance of our external relations. When they are asked whether they support the traditional immigration policy of Australia, they admit that they do support it. But, because the Government that administers that policy to-day in accordance with countless precedents that have been established since 1901 is a Labour government, and because the the Minister for Immigration personally is most unpopular with the press barons, they engage in a campaign of vilification designed to destroy his political reputation. In pressing that vicious campaign, they show little regard for the good name of Australia and care little that they may jeopardize the future safety of the nation by arousing disaffection in the minds of people who live in the near north. If the press of Australia approached our immigration problems as does the press of the United States of America, there would have been not more than a passing mention of the O’Keefe case. There would have been a factual report of the circumstances, and that would have been the end of it. However, a deliberate attempt was made to develop hysteria of the worst kind. As Senator Critchley pointed out, newspapers even went to the extreme of inviting subscriptions to support the case for Mrs. O’Keefe in the High Court. That campaign may have increased the sales of newspapers. The proprietors may have obtained some mundane reward for their efforts in besmirching the fair name of their own country. If they consider that the sale of a few hundred additional copies of their newspapers was sufficient reward for placing their country in jeopardy, I hope that they are satisfied. I appeal to them to agree that where the good name of this country is concerned, there shall be no party, politics, press or creed, but that all of us shall face four-square those that would traduce us and besmirch our name. It is, as Senator Critchley has said, unfortunate, that we should have to introduce amendments to our immigration legislation because of decisions of the High Court. However, no other course is now open to the Government. We must have the power to bring these people under the control of the Government of this country. It is true that this measure will undoubtedly give the Minister power to review the O’Keefe case, and it is a matter for his determination what he does about it. He can please himself in the matter, and as he has more knowledge of this problem than anybody else in this country, we may leave it in his hands, completely confident that he will act in the best interests of his country.
The Leader of the Opposition made one other criticism with relation to the name of the second measure now under discussion, the War-time Refugees Removal Bill. I understand that the Minister himself wanted to Gall it the War-time Refugees Repatriation Bill, but because of the fact that that would bring it into direct conflict with other repatriation legislation now on the statute-book, he decided that the present title would most appropriately convey to everybody exactly what this bill proposes to do. It must not be forgotten that only a handful of the thousands of war-time evacuees who came to this countryis still here. Every one of those people is determined to stay in Australia as long as he wishes. However, the title of the bill conveys a true picture of what this measure seeks to achieve. I have received many representations from people covered by the bill who wish to remain in Australia, and doubtless the reasons advanced by them are similar to those that have been advanced in representations that have been received by other honorable senators. It is obvious that none of the evacuees still in Australia will leave this country freely, and that pressure will have to be brought to bear to compel them to do so. I repeat that the name of this measure is a true reflection of what the bill proposes to do. This aspect of the matter was brought to the notice of the Minister in charge of the bill in the House of Representatives by the Leader of the Opposition in that chamber (Mr. Menzies), and the Minister replied that he was not prepared to alter the name of the bill because it covers adequately what is intended. He did not consider that any of our Asian friends would feel personally affronted by the title of the bill as it stands. All of the damage in that connexion has already been done to our friends in Indonesia and in the Philippines by the way that the press has handled the situation. In commending this bill to the Senate I emphasize that the decisions of the High Court made it imperative for the Government to amend our immigration laws. I assure honorable senators that, as Senator Critchley has already said, the Minister administering those laws is most humane and has the interests of Australia at heart at all times. I am convinced that we shall be completely satisfied with his administration of this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed (vide page 2003), on motion by Senator Armstrong -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its ‘ remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 2.30 p.m.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Shipping and Fuel - A. W. Fulton.
Works and Housing- J. K. McElgunn.
Lands Acquisition Act- Land acquired for -
Defence purposes - Bacchus Marsh, Victoria.
Department of Civil Aviation purposes - Adelaide, South Australia.
Postal purposes -
Harden, New South Wales.
Margaret River, Western Australia.
Victoria Park, Western Australia.
Papua-New Guinea Provisional Administra tion Act - Ordinance - 1949- No.5 - Public Service.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Regulations - 1 949 -
No. 5 (Motor Traffic Ordinance).
No.6 (Buildings and Services Ordinance).
War Service Homes Act - Amendment of an Arrangement between the Director of War Service Homes and the Stateof Western Australia.
Senate adjourned at 10. 38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 July 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1949/19490706_senate_18_203/>.