6 October 1949

18th Parliament · 2nd Session

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

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Senator LAMP:

– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General when the Parliament may expect the High Court to give its decision in the pharmaceutical benefits case?

Senator McKENNA:
Minister for Health · TASMANIA · ALP

– I am happy to be able to inform the honorable senator that advice has been received that the High Court will deliver judgment in that matter to-morrow morning in Melbourne.

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Senator COOPER:

– In view of urgent representations that I have received from persons engaged in the cotton-growing industry in Queensland, will the Minister for Trade and Customs indicate when he proposes to lay on the table of the Senate the report of the Tariff Board relating to the cotton industry, so that growers may know whether they are to obtain a reasonable guaranteed price for their product?

Minister for Trade and Customs · QUEENSLAND · ALP

– I shall be happy to lay on the table of the Senate the report of the Tariff Board on the cotton industry immediately I receive it.

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Senator MURRAY:

– During the war, thousands of women served in various organizations associated with military forces. Not the least of these were the Voluntary Aid Detachments which rendered yeoman assistance to our medical services. Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army give consideration to the provision of financial assistance for voluntary aid detachments throughout Australia for the purchase of the specified uniforms? Is consideration being given to the enlistment of women in the Citizen Military Forces as members of the Australian Army Medical Services? Is the Minister aware that many women who acquired considerable nursing and medical experience during the war and provided the reservoir for the army nursing service are anxious to continue this worthwhile activity?

Minister for Supply and Development · NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Consideration is at present being given to the reestablishment of voluntary aid detachments on the lines laid down prior to the war, when payment of a per capita efficiency grant was made, from which the detachments could meet certain administrative and other expenses. The merits of the formation, in the Citizen Military Forces, of units of the Australian Women’s Army Medical Service are being considered, as against the payment of the per capita efficiency grant referred to. The formation of units in the Citizen Military Forces has the advantage that such personnel are trained during peacetime in military, duties, and are readily available in an emergency to serve as members of the Military Forces. The Minister is aware of the position and he is gratified by the interest being displayed by the honorable senator in these women who are anxious once again to serve their country.

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– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Postwar Reconstruction ascertain whether, in view of the grave shortages of personnel in the nursing and teaching professions in Victoria and New South Wales, Commonwealth reconstruction training scheme trainees can be encouraged to enter those callings ?

Senator McKENNA:

– I undertake to obtain the information sought by the honorable senator, and I shall let him have it at the earliest possible date.

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– Has the Minister for Supply and Development given consideration to the establishment of wet canteens for men not included in the officer section who are employed on defence undertakings, particularly in South Australia ? If he has not done so, will he take the matter up seriously so that the men can get a drop of beer when they wish?


– I realize the importance of this matter, and I shall certainly take it up urgently. The only place that would be affected, I think, would be the guided weapons testing range. We have already been able to provide for at least the fundamental needs of beer-drinkers there, even though there may not be a great surplus of beer supplies at the range.

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

– Yesterday, Senator Rankin asked me to inform the Senate of the increase of cost, due to devaluation, in meeting interest and sinking fund charges on loans raised in the United States of America for the Commonwealth, the States and semigovernmental bodies.

In accordance with my undertaking to supply the information to-day, I desire to inform the honorable senator that the total annual cost of interest and sinking fund for the loans mentioned, on the basis of the debt outstanding at the 30th June, 1949, is 11,056,000 dollars. At the exchange rate previously existing the annual cost, in Australian pounds, of meeting this payment was £3,444,000. Since the devaluation of the Australian pound, the annual cost will be £4,950,000, an increase of £1,506,000. No consideration has been given to any proposal to relieve the State Governments or semigovernmental authorities of any of the additional charge.

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Senator LAMP:

– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs tell me how much money has been expended on the tea subsidy and what rate of subsidy is being paid at present ?


– I cannot supply the figures offhand. The subsidy at present represents about 2s. 9d. or 2s. lOd. for each pound of tea. I shall have a complete statement prepared and will supply it to the honorable senator at the next sitting of the Senate.

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Senator AYLETT:

– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether it is necessary for private enterprise to apply to the Government for permission to establish oil refineries in Australia? If so, how many applications have been made in recent years for such permission and is it a fact, as the newspapers report, and as Liberal candidates have stated, that” the Government has prevented companies from establishing oil refineries, with the result that we now suffer from a shortage of petrol?

Senator ASHLEY:

– The establishment of oil refineries in Australia would be treated in the same way as the establishment of other industrial undertakings. The matter would be dealt with by the government of the State in which the company concerned decided to erect its plant. The Australian Government has always been ready to do what lies in its power to encourage the establishment of industries. Its policy in that respect is reflected in the large increase in the number of industries that have been established in recent years. It has not offered any impediment to the establishment in this country of the oil industry or of any other industry.

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Senator O’BYRNE:

– In view of the historic importance of the ceremony of commencement of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project which will be performed in the near future, will the PostmasterGeneral endeavour to have the ceremony broadcast through the national stations and through as many regional stations as possible? Bearing in mind the importance of this scheme to the future of the nation, will he also do what he can to have facilities made available to school children to listen to that broadcast ?

Senator CAMERON:
Postmaster-General · VICTORIA · ALP

– I shall submit the honorable senator’s request to the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission with the recommendation that it be granted, if it be physically possible to arrange such a broadcast. I shall inform the honorable senator as soon as possible of the result of my representations.

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– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel if it is a fact that the Joint Coal Board has purchased, or is negotiating to purchase, Marx House, Sydney? If so, what price was paid, or is contemplated; and from what source and upon what terms has the purchase price been provided?

Senator ASHLEY:

– I understand that negotiations are taking place for the purchase of Marx House, hut I am not in a position to indicate the amount of the purchase price. If the honorable senator will place his question on the noticepaper I shall endeavour to obtain the information for him as soon as possible. .

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Annual Pilgrimage of School Children

Senator NASH:

– I understand that the Minister for Shipping and Fuel now has available a reply to a question that I asked yesterday concerning the institution of an annual pilgrimage of school children from everystate to Canberra.

Senator ASHLEY:

– I have now been advised that the matter that the honorable senator has raised was not discussed at the recent conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, but that the Prime Minister is in communication with the State Premiers on the matter.

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Senator COOPER:

– I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs if it is a fact that roofing iron is being imported from Japan? If so, what quantity is being imported; what is the landed price in Australia and what is the price that is being charged to purchasers? What is the possibility of obtaining in the form of reparations from Japan roofing iron and similar commodities that are urgently needed in Australia?


– Offhand, I am not able to give a complete answer to the honorable senator’s question, but a limited quantity of roofing iron has been imported from Japan. I shall make a statement on the matter as early as possible.

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– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration furnish me with particulars of the number of immigrants that have arrived in this country from overseas and the countries from which they have come?


– I shall request the Minister for Immigration to furnish the desired particulars to the honorable senator. I know that he will he pleased to do so. So that the honorable senator may see the position at a glance I shall request the Minister to categorize the new Australians in relation to nationality, numbers, and where they have come from.

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Sixteenth Report

Senator ASHLEY:

– I lay on the table the following paper : -

Commonwealth Grants Commission Act - Commonwealth Grants Commission - Sixteenth Report (1949)

Although only a limited number of copies of the report are at present available for honorable senators, further supplies shouldbe received from the Government Printer within a few days.

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Debate resumed from the 5th October (vide page 894), on motion by Senator Ashley -

That the following papers be printed: -

Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure, and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, and Other Services involving Capital Expenditure, for the year ending the 30th June, 1950;

The Budget 1949-50 - Papers presented by the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, M.P., on the occasion of the Budget of 1949-50;

National Income and Expenditure 1948-49

Senator FINLAY:
South Australia

– This budget reflects the sound financial, economic, and social position that Australia is in to-day. The truly remarkable progress that this country has made since the war is evident from the many millions of pounds that it is proposed to provide to carry on the different phases of our national life. Every section of the community is to-day better off than ever before in living memory. The fact that there has been such a tremendous increase in savings banks deposits in Australia, and that government loans are so readily -filled, is further evidence of the great prosperity that the people of this country are now enjoying. Every section of our community has received some benefit as a result of the various administrative acts of this Government. Those who have received the least benefit from the present Government are probably those who enjoy extremely high incomes, out of which they are compelled to pay heavy taxes in order to provide social services for their less fortunate brethren. However, the primary producers have a great deal for which to thank the present Government, which has directly assisted them by arranging for the orderly marketing of their produce. That has, in turn, contributed to the high prices that the primary producers have received for their produce. Before Labour governments were in office many primary ‘producers were depressed because of their commitments to the trading banks and because they were unable to market their produce profitably. Merchants handled their produce and manipulated its disposal, so that the growers of wool, wheat and fruit often received, very little, whilst the merchants never failed to receive a substantial return from it. To-day primary producers generally are enjoying prosperity because of the arrangements made by the .Government for the orderly marketing of their produce, which has enabled them to obtain sufficient money to discharge their obligations to the financial institutions.

Another remarkable feature of our progress since the war is the extraordinary expansion of our secondary industries. That expansion was due, in the first place, to the war, but it has received tremendous encouragement from the enlightened administration of the ^present Government. The war gave our manufacturers an opportunity to embark’ upon the production of goods and services for which we had formerly to rely - on industrialists overseas. The successful response to the demands made during the war showed that we had men of enterprise and ability who could produce the goods required. Incidentally, many of the goods manufactured in this country have proved to be superior to those im- ported. Overseas capital has been attracted to this country, and has also contributed to the remarkable expansion of our secondary industries. That expens]on has, in turn, made possible the huge immigration policy upon which the Government has embarked. While the present Government remains in office it is obvious that we shall have little difficulty in providing full employment for all our people.

I propose this afternoon to deal .particularly with the results of the application of science to industry in order todemonstrate the part played by science overseas in developing industry throughout the world. When I visited the United States of America in 1947 I was amazed at the rapid expansion of the motor industry that had occurred. That expansion was, in very large measure due to the application of science to that industry. I visited the plants of the Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation in Detroit. There I saw complete motor cars, ready to be driven away under their own power, being produced from raw material in 70 minutes. That is hardly credible,” but it is true. However, I should not like to see the workers of this country working under the conditions that industrial science has forced on the workers of the United States of America. In the Ford factory I saw motor-car bodies travelling along an assembly line, driven by a caterpillar chain, and alongside the line was a row of workers, each doing one particular job. There was also a travelling chain overhead carrying motor body parts. The movement was timed to the split second so that, as a motor-car body came opposite a worker, the part that that worker had to add to the body was directly overhead. His job was to take the part off the line, fix it to the body with two or three spot welds, and then perhaps adjust a nut or two. By that time, the body was nearing the next operative. Each man had to stand in his place for eight hours every day. If he wanted to leave his work for a few moments, he had to signal a spare man who was walking along the line to come and take his place. Manufacturing processes to-day have become so organized that it is almost impossible for any workman to use his initiative in his job. This system is gradually but surely creeping into Australian industry. Employers no longer require skilled operatives except m tooling. What Las been the result of all this? In almost every instance, the advantages of modern machinery have been gained not by the workers but by the employers. Not only have employers been able to secure expanded production by the introduction of scientific methods, but also the breaking up of skilled occupations has given them a sound reason, in their opinion, for seeking a reduction of wages. Employees are becoming almost mechanical parts of the vast industrial organization. That is not for the good of Australian workmen. The system is foreign to the Australian way of life.

When I hear people saying that the present system of wage payments should be altered, I listen for any suggestions for an improved system. Possibly the present method may not be the best because, as we all know, wage increases granted in accordance with variations of the index figures, are invariably followed by increased production costs, and, therefore, an increased cost of living. I shall show how unfairly the present system operates on the working people of this country. Take, for instance, bread. Australian bakers do not have to meet international competition. Their entire production is sold locally, and no bread is brought from overseas. We grow our own wheat. A baker producing, say, 1,000 loaves a day may find that, according to the Statisticians’ figures, he is incurring increased wage costs which would warrant an increase of Jd. a loaf in the price of ‘ bread, but as the half-penny is the smallest coin in our currency, he increases his price by that amount. An increase of one farthing on 1,000 loaves a day would mean an additional return of 20s. lOd. a day, but an increase of a ½d. a loaf brings him an additional £2 ls. 8d. a day, or £374 a year. Obviously, a system that permits such an anomaly cannot be right. Prices control was operated most successfully by the Labour Government. I say that in all sincerity because, while control was in Commonwealth hands, wage fluctuations did not exceed 3s. or 4s: a week. Unfortunately, the people rejected the continuance of prices control by the Commonwealth, with the result that to-day, the position is almost chaotic. The prices of most commodities, including even the necessaries of life, have soared beyond all reason.

One system of wage payments that has been suggested as an alternative to that now in operation, is the wage incentive system. That is nothing new to the people of Australia. It goes back for- quite a number of years. There was a time when the boss fixed the price of the goods that Iiia workman produced, and the wage of the worker was determined by his output. Whenever the boss found that some of his men were making a little bit more than ordinary wages, he reduced his piece-work rates. Under that vicious system, most workmen found eventually that they were earning less than the weekly wage fixed by the Arbitration Court. Australian workmen, therefore, with the exception of those engaged in a few industries such as shearing and other seasonal work, fought strenuously against the continuance of the incentive payment system. There has been a strong agitation in recent years for the reintroduction of incentive payments, and I want the Government to tread very carefully in its dealing with those who advocate the change. The incentive payment system is totally foreign to the Australian way of life. Piece-work rates of payment are not fixed according to what the boss considers to be a fair standard. They are established by means of a close and intensive time-study of workers’ operations. Most big factories to-day employ men to do nothing else but make careful timestudies of various processes. Very few people know how these time-studies are made. The men engaged upon this class of research first attend schools of instruction. Then they are sent out to various factories. The typical procedure is to select a man performing a particular operation who appears to be a good worker. The expert times that man’s operations on the job. If he walks away from his bench to pick up a tool, the time during which he is absent from the bench is deducted from the actual time of operation. All time during which the operator is not actually engaged upon the shaping of the article upon which he is working is noted and classed as “ fatigue time “.

The operation is timed repeatedly. Then the expert determines the maximum efficiency of the worker and a piecework rate is fixed upon the result of that time-study. What has happened since that method was introduced in industry? No longer does the employer risk offending the workers by reducing their wages. Instead, he says to his employees, “I shall give you full protection in respect of your weekly wage. Your minimum rate will be the amount that is considered by the Arbitration Court to be a fair wage. I will gladly pay you anything that you earn above those rates.” I shall describe the system that is used by a big company in Adelaide in order to illustrate how it works in practice. On pay day, every employee who has earned more than the normal wage under the piece-work system receives his money in one envelope. Every worker who has not succeeeded in earning the full wage by piece-work receives his pay in two envelopes. One of those envelopes contains the amount of money earned by piece-work, and the other contains the amount that the company must pay in order to make up the guaranteed wage. The names of all workers in the latter category are called out so that everybody may know who has failed to earn the full amount of the weekly wage by piece-work according to the time-study method. We must be very careful not to allow such a system, which would upset the equilibrium of industry as nothing else could do, to come into general use.

There is only one fair system of incentive payment. That is the system by which all workers share equally in the profits that are made from their labours. Under the piece-work system based on the time-study of workers’ operations, only the workers engaged upon the processes that have been subjected to timestudies receive incentive payments. All other workers are forced automatically to speed up their operations so that the supply of materials to the piece-workers can be maintained. They receive no incentive payments. They are paid only the rates prescribed by the Arbitration Court, even though they are expected to increase their rate of work in order that piece-work operators may earn additional money.

Senator Nash:

– How long does a piece-worker last at his job ?

Senator FINLAY:

– The system has not been in operation long enough for me to find out. I sincerely hope that it will be discarded before I have the opportunity to learn the answer to that question. That is the modern method used by employers to determine what they describe as fair and equitable rates of pay for their employees. To all those who urge the introduction of incentive payment systems for the purpose of increasing industrial production, I give a warning to take care lest they stir up a hornet’s nest and create a situation that will have a much greater effect in industry than we can foresee now. I register my emphatic protest against the growing tendency to use such unfair methods.

Opponents of this Government maintain a constant agitation in favour of a very serious reduction of the number of our public servants. Members of the Opposition claim that the Government is squandering millions of pounds in providing employment for thousands of Australians. They fail to realize that the Public Service must expand in order to provide for the efficient operation of the departments that have been established since the Labour party came to power for the purpose of providing additional social services benefits and administering defence and other vital functions of the National Government. The Labour party encourages the proper education of young Australians by all means at its disposal. Our growing citizens are trained to become highly efficient. What are we going to do with them after we have given them that education ? Are we merely going to send them to work in factories under systems of the kind that I have just described. Are we going to encourage them to enter more congenial employment? I warn all public servants to be very careful of the decision they make on the 10th December next, because the Opposition parties have already stated that if they are returned to office they will have no option but to prune the public service. I believe that the great majority of the Australian people cannot do anything else than support the Government that has placed upon the statute-book so much legislation that is in the interests of all sections of the community. The people of this country must follow the middle course. The Labour party is following the middle course, and by doing so it has brought prosperity to Australia. We could easily fall to the right, or to the left; hut on either side is to be found grave extremism, whereas the Government has achieved outstanding success by sticking to the middle course. I am sure that the budget will be accepted by the people as evidence not only of the many services that the Government has already rendered to them but also of many great additional services that it will render to them in the future.

Senator AYLETT:

– Perhaps, we can best analyse the budget as shareholders in a company would analyse the balance-sheet and reports presented to them by their directors. The representatives of the people in the Parliament are like the directors of a huge organization, which, in our case, is the nation. It is our duty to decide policies for the electors of Australia who are the shareholders in this huge company. One can best judge the merits of the budget by comparing it with previous budgets. This budget shows that the Government has done an excellent administrative job. Whilst the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) has budgeted for a deficit for the current financial year, the Government finished the last financial year with a substantial surplus in hard cash and with a considerable increase of national assets. It has maintained a policy of full employment and, at the same time, has extended social services benefits and liberalized existing benefits. Therefore, even should the Government be faced with a deficit at the end of the current financial year, that disadvantage will be more than offset by the value of the national assets that it created during the past financial year. In addition, it has built up our overseas credits to the sum of £452,000,000.

One of the greatest functions that any government can perform is to ensure that every person in the community is fully employed. The Government has achieved that objective by encouraging the expansion of industries throughout the Commonwealth and by maintaining high standards of working conditions. Despite the old socialist “ tiger “ that the Opposition parties still trot out, the Government has encouraged private enterprise to establish industries. It has consistently pursued that policy since it assumed office in 1941. If that policy can be described as socialism then the people of this country will want more socialism. In addition to providing full employment, the Government has realized the necessity to keep employees as a whole contented. No employee can be contented unless he has a home to live in and has some guarantee of social security. This Government has been the first in the history of this country to sponsor a programme of housing for the workers. For that purpose it has already provided the sum of £48,000,000 under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. Under that scheme homes have already been provided for no less than 100,000 good Australians. Compare that record with that of its predecessors which found a home for only two individuals when it built a house in Canberra for Mr. Casey and his wife.

Since the Government assumed office, the national wealth has been increased considerably. By wealth I do not mean just what is produced from day to day, or from year to year. I include in that category every new factory and every new home, because they are assets and are more valuable than quantities of gold that are buried in the bowels of the earth. The wealth that has been created as the result of the administration of the Government is of untold value to Australia, and in that respect this budget excels any that was previously presented to the Parliament. That has been made possible only because the Government has guaranteed the people security. In order to guarantee continued economic security to the people of this country should a recession ever occur, this Government has found it necessary to increase the provision in relation to social services benefits from about £16,000,000 a year to approximately £100,000,000 a year. I point out that before this Government came to office, anti-Labour governments that were not even providing £16,000,000 a year for social services benefits, reduced the mere pittances that were paid to necessitous people, although times were hard. An anti-Labour treasurer at that time claimed that the provision of £3,000,000 a year for a social services plan could not be entertained, and legislation was then introduced to reduce the social services expenditure to £2,000,000 a year. Even then the anti-Labour government of the day got “stage-fright” and did not implement the proposed scheme.. I remind honorable senators that even during the war period, and at times of national crisis, this Government continued’ to pay social services benefits to widows, children, invalids, and people who were sick or unemployed. Security is guaranteed to those people at all times. Only by so doing can we achieve increased production, and consequently, increased wealth. Yet we are twitted from day to day about the taxes that the people of this country are called upon to pay. I point out that to-day even workers in receipt of more than the basic wage are paying less in taxes than ever before. Rates of taxation on the lower incomes were never les3 than they are to-day. I remind honorable senators that prior to Labour coming into office, married men with two, three and even four children, and in receipt of incomes of only £150 a year were required to pay income tax. Just imagine that! Despite the progressive programme that has been pursued by this Government, direct taxation has been reduced by approximately £170,000,000 since the war. Furthermore, during the last financial year, reductions in tax amounting to £133,000,000 were granted.

In a statement that has just been circulated by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. Fadden), complaint is made about the high rates of taxation being imposed on the people, and attention is drawn to the fact that revenue has increased from year to year. It is significant that following every reduction of income tax since 1945, the revenue received by this Government has increased by millions of pounds. I remind the Senate that following the most recent reduction of income tax, revenue in- creased by about £20,000,000. That has been made possible because of Labour’s policy of full employment. From time to time the Opposition has implied that taxes should be relaxed in order to reduce revenue to the 1938-39 figure. But how could the Government contemplate the progressive programme that has been planned if that were done? We must bear in mind also that from 600,000 to 700,000 workers were out of work in that year, and consequently did not pay taxes. There are to-day more than 1,000,000 additional workers engaged in production in this country than before the war. Every time that reductions of taxes are effected, revenue increases and more goode are produced. To-day the national income is about £1,830,000,000 a year, which is more than twice the figure of ten years ago. Labour’s policy of full employment has been mainly responsible for that increase. I stress that if the policy of full employment were not maintained, both the national income and the revenue would decrease rapidly. This policy of full employment is not the “ Socialist Tiger “ that will bite on sight, as has been implied by the Opposition.

In order to assist production in this country, subsidies totalling £93,000,000 have been paid by this Government to the primary producers. I well remember that before the present administration decided to pay these subsidies, thousands of primary producers each year faced bank.ruptcy. In those days they could not get markets for their products, and in many instances ‘the prices that they received were lower than the cost of production. Furthermore, the private associated banks clamped down and took their properties from them whenever they were unable to pay the high rates of interest that were charged on their overdrafts. Immediately Labour assumed office in 1941, it subsidized the primary producers in order to arrest the drift that was taking place. Because at that time many of the wheat-growers of this country were facing ruin, the wheat industry was one of the first industries that this Government took in hand and put back on its feet. Although Tasmania is not a wheat-growing State, wheat production on the mainland is a big factor in the economy of this country. High prices are now being received for our wheat, but I remind honorable senators that when Labour came to office there was not a guaranteed market for our wheat, with the result that the farmers had no alternative but to store their wheat and risk a percentage of it being spoilt by weevils whilst endeavouring to effect sales which would yield the cost of production plus a margin on which to live. In those days there were huge wheat-pools throughout the country. That state of affairs was remedied by this socialist Labour Government, about which the Opposition has coined a catch-word. Considerable improvements have also been effected in the meat, butter, tobacco, cheese, milk, and vegetable industries. Prices are now guaranteed in respect of all of these commodities. I remind honorable senators also that, prior to this Government assuming office, thousands of cows were being slaughtered and sent to the bone-yard. Once again Labour had to come to the rescue. I remind the Senate that Labour was the first, and, indeed, the only administration, ever to provide direct assistance to the dairy farmers. To-day the dairy farmers of this country are receiving £5,500,000 annually in subsidy, apart from their share of the annual subsidy paid on superphosphate, which totals £3,500,000. Yet honorable senators opposite accuse this “socialist” Government of wanting to take the farms away from the farmers! I have just returned from a tour of farming areas in Tasmania. During my visit farmers repeatedly said to me : “ If this is socialism, we want more of it “. Similarly, the industrial workers, for whom the Government has provided very substantial assistance to enable them to purchase homes, say: “If this is socialism let us have more of it “.

If honorable senators opposite do not agree with Labour’s policy in these matters why do they not openly announce that if they are returned to power at the forthcoming election they will withdraw the subsidies on primary produce, discontinue the assistance given to home seekers, and, generally, permit conditions to revert to the pre-war standard? Why do they not tell the invalid and aged pensioners that they will reduce their pensions? We all know that the antiLabour parties do not believe in social services, and their members know in their hearts that if they are returned to office they will find some pretext to curtail such services. Although they do not believe in the payment of government assistance to primary producers or to home builders, or in the payment of social services, they have not the courage to tell the people so. Although members of the Opposition are continually prating of their intention to improve social services, their protestations are false because they have no anxiety for the people’s welfare, and they know it.

When we compare the present position with the past we find that the savings bank deposits of the people have increased by £420,000,000 since Labour took office. Does that look as though this “ socialist “ Government is ruining the country, and that people are desperate?


the honorable senator suggest that savings bank deposits increased by £420,000,000 in one year?

Senator AYLETT:

– I did not say that ; I was referring to the period that has elapsed since Labour assumed office in 1941. At that time most people did not have savings bank balances. Indeed, many of them were still on the dole. To-day many of them have homes and savings bank deposits. As I have said, the total deposits have increased by £420,000,000 during Labour’s term of office.


– What can the people buy with that’ money?

Senator AYLETT:

– Within reason, they can buy anything that they desire. If Senator O’sullivan is seeking to suggest that people are experiencing hardship because some goods are still in short supply, I point out to him that it is better for people to be employed regularly, to have homes and savings bank deposits and to do without some minor luxuries, than to have no credit in the hanks, no jobs and no immediate prospects of getting employment. Those are the conditions that characterized the workers of this country during the long term of office of the parties that are at present in opposition. The people of this country can purchase quite freely any essential, goods, but it should be realized that many people, like Senator O’Sullivan, prefer to put aside some of their money for future commitments. Possibly many of them want to purchase some special amenities and they are saving up for that purpose-

Senator O’Sullivan:

– They will be pretty old when they are able to purchase the amenities.

Senator AYLETT:

– Although Senator O’sullivan has interjected a good deal in the last few minutes he has not been able to name a single item that people need which they cannot purchase-

Senator COOPER:

– Many people cannot even buy a home.

Senator AYLETT:

– “Whose fault is it that all the people who desire homes cannot obtain them? We all know that during the depression years when the anti-Labour parties were in office people were not concerned about building homes. They were walking the streets, jobless, shoeless and hungry, and all that the anti-Labour administrations of that time could offer them was the dole. No homes were built in this country for ten years, and that is the principal reason for the acute shortage that still exists. I remind our friends opposite that the’ present Labour Administration is the first Commonwealth Administration to provide money to encourage the construction of homes. In addition to advancing money to the States to enable homes to be built, it has also made it possible for men to rent those homes very cheaply. Thanks to the present Government, a man who obtains the tenancy of one of those homes is not called upon to pay more than one-fifth of his weekly earnings in rent. If he receives £5 a week, he is not called upon to pay £2 or £2 10s. a week for rent as was the position during the regime of the anti-Labour administrations. No antiLabour administration would have ever dreamed of introducing such a provision. In addition to providing money for the States to finance the construction of large numbers of homes, the Government has made it possible for people to commence the purchase of those homes without even paying deposits on them. Labour’s record contrasts strongly with that of our friends opposite, who, when they were in power, built exactly one home - for Mr. R. G. Casey and his wife.

The present Government is not unmindful of the possible effects that changes in the international economy may have on the prices of Australian produce. It realizes that the United States of America, where most of the world’s gold is concentrated, has at present 5,000,000 workers unemployed. Despite the accumulated wealth of that country and its vaunted efficiency, unemployment will undoubtedly increase there unless its people can find overseas markets for their surplus production. But to win markets overseas and to increase the home consumption of their goods, the Americans will have to change their policy considerably. The Australian Government realizes very clearly that should unemployment continue to increase in America, it will inevitably be followed by a general recession of prices throughout the world, which must affect Australia considerably. Having those facts in mind, the present Government has done all in its power to buttress the national economy against the adverse effects of a world economic recession. It is determined that the people of this country shall not again have to endure the miseries experienced during the depression. As part of its plan to buttress our economy the Government has accumulated overseas a vast sterling credit of £452,000,000, which can be called upon to make up the deficiency in overseas prices for our produce should any sudden collapse occur in the economy of the sterling area. We have £100,000,000 in the National Welfare Fund. Should a recession occur and our receipts from the social services contribution be reduced, we shall be able to draw on that vast sum. Most important of all, the Government has mapped out a public works programme estimated to cost £700,000,000. That programme includes many developmental undertakings of a national character which could be started immediately should there be any tendency for the level of employment in this country to fall. We do not pretend that an unemployed person who lives at say Kings Cross will he able to secure a joh at Kings Cross. It might be necessary for him to travel 40 or 50 miles to his place of employment, but there will be a job for him, and if I know anything about Australian workmen, they will all prefer to work rather than go on the dole. Contrast Labour’s policy with that of our political opponents ! We can only judge the Opposition parties by their past accomplishments. What have they done for the people of this country? Their record is one of permanent unemployment, the dole, low wages, a stricken agricultural community, closed factories, and bankruptcies amongst industrialists and farmers alike. That was the experience of the Australian people under the rule of governments formed by the present Opposition parties. Those things were not merely offered , to the Australian people; they were forced upon them. Labour supporters are accused of being socialists who are out to ruin the country, but let us compare the achievements of this so-called ‘ socialist administration with the record of anti-Labour administrations. What has been the result of Labour’s socialism? Since we assumed office in 1941, the number of factories in this country has increased by 198,000, or 30 per cent. This under a government that is supposed to be stifling enterprise and discouraging endeavour! Those new factories have ‘been established because Australia’s sound stable economy has given every inducement to investors to put their money into new business enterprises. Industrial expansion has received every encouragement from the Government, and in many instances, financial assistance has been provided. If this Government really wanted to socialize this country completely, obviously it would not have sold to private enterprise at very low prices a large number of war-time factories and annexes fully equipped with modern machinery. The Government itself could have operated those factories, but we believe that if private enterprise is doing a good job for the benefit of the country as a whole, there should not be interference with private enterprise. There has not been any such interference. However, we do not shrink from saying that if monopolies are exploiting the people of this country, then the Government will act, within its constitutional limits. We do not intend to interfere with any organization that is doing a fair and honest job in the interests of the country as hundreds and thousands of private undertakings are doing to-day. If honorable senators opposite were genuinely opposed to all forms of socialism, they would, if returned to office, eradicate all evidence of socialism from the community. In addition to reducing social services benefits, abolishing subsidies now paid .to primary producers, and withholding government assistance from new business enterprises, one of their first actions would be to sell the Commonwealth Bank and the Postal Department.

Senator O’Sullivan:

– And the roads and rivers.

Senator AYLETT:

– If they could, yes; but who would buy them? That is the point. No private organization would buy our roads. We are told that roads are a national undertaking and must be the responsibility of the Government.

Senator Cooper:

– Somebody must have tried to sell the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the honorable senator.

Senator AYLETT:

– I have no doubt that if the Opposition parties were the government in New South Wales, they would consider even selling the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They would not be likely to do that, however, because private enterprise could make the bridge pay for itself only by imposing extremely high toll charges. Obviously, no private concern could make a profit out of our highways or railways. No company would be prepared to operate at a loss the thousands of miles of railway lines running into the interior of this continent. To sell the Commonwealth Bank and the Postal Department to private enterprise would be dishonest to the people of Australia. Those institutions might find their way into the hands of organizations controlled by a power hostile to Australia.

Senator O’sullivan:

– Who would buy our roads and streets?

Senator AYLETT:

– As I have said, if the Opposition parties were returned to office, and were genuinely opposed to socialism they would sell the Com.monwealth Bank and the Postal Department and withdraw subsidy payments to primary producers. They would also cease building homes for the workers. We all know, of course, that they would not do those things. It is interesting to note that, in spite of the outcry by Labour’s opponents against a nationalized banking system, the Commonwealth Bank made a profit of £6,000,000 last year.


– And £4,000,000 of that came from the note issue.

Senator AYLETT:

– I am just telling the Senate what is revealed in the balancesheet of the Commonwealth Bank. I am not interested in the honorable senator’s comments. We can see very plainly now why the private banks are prepared to expend thousands of pounds in an endeavour to defeat the Labour Government. I am informed that members “of the staffs of the private banks are making a house to house canvass throughout the Commonwealth spreading anti-Labour propaganda. Obviously the banks are worried because the 1945 amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Act made it possible for that institution to increase its own profits as well as to reduce interest rates and thus curtail the profits of the private banks.

Senator O’sullivan:

– Two-thirds of the Commonwealth Bank profit came from the note issue.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls) - Order! Senator Aylett must be permitted to make his speech in his own way.

Senator AYLETT:

– Not only could the £6,000,000 profit earned by the Commonwealth Bank have gone to the private banks, but also, in the absence of restricted interest rates, those institutions could have made very much higher profits themselves. Thank heaven for the Commonwealth Bank ! Due to the wisdom of the people of Australia, there is in office a government that has had the courage to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act to enable that institution to operate in the interests of the people as a whole, and mot in the interests of only a privi leged few. Knowing full well that there is a danger of the Labour Government carrying the provisions of the 1945 Commonwealth Bank Act a little further, and thus making greater inroads on the profits of the private banks, those institutions are prepared to do their utmost to secure Labour’s defeat at the forthcoming general election. As I have said, canvassers, including officers selected from the staffs of the private banks, are endeavouring to convince householders tha: they should vote against Labour. The canvassers are having all their expenses paid, and are even being provided with motor cars to assist them in their campaign. In the past, anti-Labour governments which were unable to balance their budgets had to resort to the issue of treasury-bills, on which an interest rate of 6 per cent, had to be paid. To-day, treasury-bills can be obtained if necessary at i per cent, interest. The eagerness of the private bank to defeat the Government, therefore, is quite understandable. They are no longer able to charge interest rates of 1 per cent, and 8 per cent, as they did before the war. Their profits are curtailed by the restrictions enforced by the Commonwealth Bank, and the Commonwealth Bank itself is taking some of the profit which, in years gone by, went to the private banks. To-day, our banking system is controlled by the Commonwealth Bank which is guided by Government policy, and after all, who is more entitled than are the elected representatives of the people, -to control the commodity that is most vital to the welfare of the people ? I do not suggest that Labour wishes to control the inside . administration of the Commonwealth Bank, but its operations must be subject to Government policy. That is all we desire. The administration can be left to experienced bank officers. By ensuring the application of its financial policy, the Government has been able to save the people of Australia many millions of pounds in interest charges alone. In addition, thousands of Australians have been saved from the claws of the private banks and perhaps from bankruptcy. I have never yet found a private banker to be other than most obliging and helpful. I have not had to go to them, but many of my friends have done so. Their experience has been that, when prices for exportable commodities are high and workers are in constant employment and receiving good wages, the private banks will grant almost any assistance within reason that is asked of them. They will maintain that policy as long as conditions are good, but, as soon as a recession sets in, they start calling in overdrafts. They receive their first warning when people find themselves in difficulties and are forced to apply for extra financial aid. That is a signal for the private banks to call in existing overdrafts, which immediately makes the situation worse and causes unemployment. They know that the man who is dunned for the payment of his overdraft is forced to reduce the amount of his working capital and effect other retrenchments, which involve the dismissal of employees. That is the first movement in the cycle of a nation-wide depression, and it can be initiated only by those who determine the financial policy that governs the condition of our national economy. ‘ If we were to repeal the “Banking Act, the control of the nation’s finances would be handed over to the private bankers and we should deserve the treatment that they would mete out to us. We have had our warning. We know what the private banks did to Australia during the last depression. We saw bankrupt farmers evicted from their properties, manufacturers lose their factories, and workers and other honest people lose their homes, and even their furniture. Thousands or citizens were forced to walk the highways and byways of the country in search of work. That shocking state of affairs was caused by the private bankers, who controlled the nation’s financial policy. Finally, they brought the economy of Australia and of other countries to such a low state that many people even committed suicide because of their hopeless poverty. The Government’s policy in relation to finance is entirely different from that of the private banks. In order to make a clear analysis of the balance-sheet that has been presented to us by the Government we must compare it with the balance-sheet of an anti-Labour government. If the electors make that comparison, I have no doubt about which party they will choose to control the destiny of Australia for the next 50 years at least.

Senator CAMERON:
PostmasterGeneral · Victoria · ALP

– My contribution to this debate will deal solely with matters affecting the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. This statement outlines briefly the development and main activities of the Postmaster-General’s Department during the past three years. It gives only the highlights and does not cover all the activities of a national organization which serves the length and breadth of the Commonwealth and is a vital factor in the business and domestic life of the whole community. No undertaking has received more attention by the Government than has the Postal Department, which is the largest business concern in the Commonwealth, employing as it does 83,000 people and serving through 10,000 post offices and associated services all households in Australia, whether they be in cities, in townships or in outback areas.

During the war the full resources of the Postal Department were made available to the Australian and allied forces and essential organizations on the home front: The invaluable part played by the department during the long war years is past history, but it can be said truly that it contributed greatly to the national effort by providing extensive postal and telecommunication facilities, by producing millions of pounds worth of technical equipment for the armed forces, by assisting in the development of radar and other secret and important devices, by developing new and substitute materials for telephone, telegraph and radio apparatus, by releasing 7,500 employees for service with the forces, and by releasing 750 officers for work in war organizations.

It was only natural that, when peace returned, the department was in a most unsatisfactory position. Due to the suspension of normal developmental works in the war years and the inability to secure anything like adequate supplies of materials, there was a huge accumulation of urgent works, which would have been completed in ordinary circumstances. There were many thousands of outstanding applications for telephone subscribers’ services, the telephone trunk lines were not sufficient to handle the increased traffic expeditiously, mail services were lacking in scope or frequency, and there was a serious lack of accommodation for public and staff requirements. In addition, there had been a phenomenal increase of business since 1939. Even before the war ended the Government had commenced to plan the restoration and expansion of the Postal Department facilities, and a special programme of capital and maintenance works was organized. The difficulties facing the department in undertaking, the huge arrears of works were aggravated by the acute shortage of skilled labour and materials and the extraordinary post-war increase of the public demand for facilities. Plans formulated by myself, as PostmasterGeneral, were endorsed by the Government which agreed to provide finance, subject to the approval of the Parliament, for a special programme of new works to the value of £42,000,000. Despite difficulties in obtaining adequate skilled labour and materials, an amount of £20,700,000 was expended on new works during the financial years 1947-48 and 1948- 49, and it is estimated that the 1949- 50 expenditure will exceed £14,000,000. The programme, which initially covered a period of three years, will be extended from year to year until all arrears have been overtaken and postal services have reached the highest possible level of efficiency.

The Government’s action in providing finance for new works on a continuing three-year basis has enabled the Postal Department to plan the recruitment and training of staff in an orderly manner. Several thousand workmen, most of them ex-servicemen, have already been recruited and trained. The beneficial effects of this policy are already apparent and will become still more noticeable as more employees complete their training. As the result of the realistic policy of the Government, the department has been able to arrange for the forward-ordering of materials. Large orders have been placed with local and British firms for technical equipment and other materials, and deliveries are now being made in steadily increasing quantities. The Government has also fostered the development of Australian industries in the field of telecommunication plant and apparatus. Two factories for the manufacture of automatic switching equipment have been established and another to produce underground cable is now being erected. The department’s own workshops have been expanded and modernized, and they are assisting appreciably in providing essential equipment. The planned recruitment and training of staff, the forward-ordering of materials, the modernization and the adoption of the Latest techniques have enabled the department to implement its works programme with speed and economy. As a result of these measures, the volume of work carried out has far exceeded that achieved in any pre-war year. For example, the net increase in telephones during 1948-49 was twice as great as that in 1938-39, and it is expected that installations during. 1949-50 will show a further 40 per cent, increase. Although the outstanding applications for telephone service are still numerous, there is clear evidence that the extraordinary steps taken by the department to meet the position are becoming increasingly effective. The Government’s action in providing finance on a long-term basis has made these steps possible.

The increase of the volume of postal, telegraph and telephone traffic in recent years has been staggering, as the following comparisons will show : -

The Government has also introduced more liberal conditions generally, with particular emphasis on facilities in rural areas, including new and extended mail services, house-to-house letter deliveries, establishment of rural automatic exchanges, increased hours of- attendance at manual telephone exchanges and new post offices.

During the last three years the department has opened 330 new post offices. The policy of providing post office facilities adequate to meet the needs of industrial and residential expansion in metropolitan and country districts will be continued. The remuneration of non-official postmasters has been increased by about £800,000 yearly. In addition, those who are employed full-time and conduct post offices as self-contained units apart from a private business have been granted furlough, recreation and sick leave, and district allowance privileges on a basis similar to that enjoyed by permanent officers.

The department has provided 460 additional house-to-house letter deliveries and has extended and improved the delivery services in 730 other centres. The delivery of parcels has been improved greatly by the adoption of a system of delivering parcels by motor vehicles in the capital cities and at 96 suburban and country centres. A total of 573 new road mail services have been established, the routes of 939 existing services have been extended and the frequency of 1,019 other services has been increased. The aim of the Government is the provision of at least a three-times-weekly mail service in all country areas, without expense to the local residents, and public convenience, rather than the financial aspect, is now the guiding factor.

The number of air-mail services within Australia has been increased from 42 to 68, including a number which carry all classes of mail without payment of airmail fees in sparsely populated areas. Air-mail facilities have been improved by extending and rearranging existing air services, and 50 country centres have been added to the regular ports of call on airmail routes. The route mileage of domestic air-mail services has been increased from 27,000 to 40,000 miles. The plans provide for the further extension of air-mail services. New international air services have been established to America, Fiji, Hongkong, Japan, New Hebrides, the Philippines, and the Solomon Islands. Marked improvements have been effected in the frequency and speed of air-mail services and special attention has been given to mail services for members of the Australian forces in Japan.

The cheap lightweight airletter service has been greatly extended, and this facility is now available on all international air routes from Australia.

The department now provides street letter receivers in both metropolitan and country areas on a generous basis. Although progress was retarded by difficulties in obtaining receptacles, 1,224 new receivers have been provided during the last three years. In spite of trouble in procuring machines, the policy of providing stamp-selling units at post offices has been pursued actively, and 1,200 machines have been installed since 1948 and 600 additional units are on order. In 1947 the annual fees for private boxes at country and suburban post offices were reduced by 50 per cent. Private boxholders throughout Australia have benefited by £10,000 yearly from this concession. The staffs of district inspectors’ offices in country districts have been increased so that each district inspector will be able to devote greater attention to developmental aspects of post office work in his area.

During the last three years the telegraph network has been expanded substantially to meet development. There are 766,000 miles of telegraph channels in use, compared with 300,000 miles in use in June, 1939. Fifty-one private- wire teleprinter services have been provided. There are now 277 such services in operation, these utilizing more than 148,000 miles of channels. The department has converted 90 telegraph channels from morse to machine operation. This has resulted in more economical operation and an improved grade of service to the public. An additional 50 channels will be converted during the present financial year. The chief telegraph offices in Brisbane, Perth and Hobart, have been modernized and work on the offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide is proceeding. Modernization plans are designed to secure an improvement in the service and better working conditions for the staff. The most modern phonogram equipment has been installed in the chief telegraph offices in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Hobart, and also at some important country centres, to expedite the acceptance of telegrams telephoned by subscribers. Plans are in band covering Melbourne, Adelaide and other places. A picturegram service incorporating modern photo-transmission equipment has been established between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, and action is proceeding for the installation of similar equipment at Perth, Hobart and Newcastle.

In 1946, the Parliament passed the Overseas Telecommunications Act which established the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia) for the purpose of acquiring the external telecommunications assets in Australia and its territories of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited as well as those of Cable and Wireless Limited. The commission undertook the operation, as a national responsibility, of telecommunication services between Australia and overseas countries, ships at sea and aircraft. In 1947 a public radio-telegram service was provided, by arrangement with the Overseas Telecommunication Commission, for passengers travelling by Trans-Australia Airlines aircraft on the Melbourne-Perth route. A similar service is also available to British Commonwealth Pacific Airways passengers travelling between Australia and America. In September, 1946, charges for the re-transmission of telegrams within the Commonwealth were abolished. Where the addressee has moved to another place the message is now sent to the new office without additional charge. Since March, 1948, halfrates only have been charged for telegrams exchanged to verify the contents of a message or to obtain more detailed particulars concerning the identity of the person who lodged the telegram. Despite vigorous recruitment campaigns the department has been unable to secure the services of sufficient junior postal officers to undertake the delivery of telegrams. The extensive use of motor cycles has resulted, however, in a substantial improvement in the delivery service.

The exigencies of war reduced new telephone installations to a minimum and the huge arrears of work, coupled with the extraordinary post-war demands for facilities, so increased the applications for telephone services that, in spite of all the department’s efforts, the number of applications outstanding has continued to grow. During the last three years more than 172,000 telephones have been added to the system, and the net increase of 65,000 during 1948-49 constituted an all-time record. The average number of telephones connected yearly prior to the war wa3 about 31,000. With equipment and line plant coming to hand in increasing quantities, it is expected that at least 90,000 new telephone services will be provided in the present financial year. Following the adoption of a more liberal basis for determining the hours of attendance at telephone exchanges, the period of service has been increased at more than 2,000 exchanges and the hours of attendance at many more exchanges will be extended in the current financial year. Approximately 82 per cent, of country subscribers are now connected to continuous service exchanges and 13 per cent, are served by exchanges which remain open in the evenings.

As a further means of improving the telephone service in country districts, the equipment for 650 rural automatic exchanges has been ordered from the United Kingdoms Although deliveries commenced only a few months ago, 30 of these exchanges have already been installed and work is proceeding so rapidly that 150 will be established during the current financial year. There are now 182 rural automatic exchanges in operation, of which 51 have been provided in the last two years. At the same time, the needs of urban communities have not been overlooked, and during the past three years 50 automatic exchanges have been installed in metropolitan areas. The Postal Department will establish a further 50 automatic exchanges in urban areas in the present financial year.

During the past three years 1,062 additional trunk-line circuits and 158 carrier telephone systems have been brought into service. It is proposed to add a further 1,100 trunk-line channels during the current financial year. The abnormal increase in trunk-line traffic in recent years has obscured the great efforts made by the department to provide additional facilities, but with the continued expansion of the works programme delays on trunk-line channels will be reduced progressively to a minimum.

Extra trunk-line channels have been provided on the main interstate routes, as shown hereunder - Sydney-Melbourne, 6; Brisbane-Sydney, 12; MelbourneAdelaide, 8; Mainland-Tasmania, 6; Canberra-Sydney, 12 ; CanberraMelbourne 12. It is proposed to install a radio-telephone link between Melbourne and Perth to ensure that telecommunication facilities will be maintained should an interruption occur to land lines on this important route. Two MelbournePerth circuits will be provided by this means. Additional trunk-line channels are to be supplied on all interstate routes, one major project being the erection of a new alternative route between Sydney and Melbourne, via Deniliquin, which will provide 100 additional channels. Main trunk exchanges are being modernized to facilitate the handling of trunk-line calls, and direct dialling is now possible from some metropolitan areas to certain nearby country centres. This principle has been adopted extensively in the Melbourne network, and to a limited degree in Adelaide and Sydney. The department plans to extend the direct dialling system to all networks, so that short distance trunk-line calls may be bandied expeditiously.

The conditions Under which country district lines - that is, trunk-lines to rural centres not connected by telephone - are provided have been liberalized. During the past three years the department has authorized the construction of 253 lines to serve 263 new offices.

Additional public telephones are being provided to meet the growing demand for telephone facilities. During the past three years 1,100 public telephones have been installed, and many additional services will be established as speedily as man-power and materials permit.

In accordance with the policy of providing the best possible postal and telecommunication facilities for outback areas, extensive tests are being conducted with radio-telephone equipment to serve districts where the cost of erecting land lines is prohibitive. An experimental high frequency radio-telephone subscribers’ network is operating successfully in the Broken Hill district. Plans are being made for its extension and also for the establishment of other networks.

Following satisfactory tests, it is proposed to install base station radio equipment and remote receiving apparatus in all capital cities so that mobile radiotelephone services - that is, services installed in motor vehicles - may have access to both the local exchange network and the trunk-line system. It is expected that this service will ‘be available in all metropolitan areas within six months.

Consequent on the closure of the Victorian State Observatory, the Research Laboratories of the Postal Department have taken over the Victorian time service. Substantial improvements have been made in the reliability and precision of the service.

During the war years many thousands of skilled departmental workers joined the forces or were transferred to other essential organizations. Many did not return to their former employment and this, together with the reduced rate of recruitment which prevailed during the war, left the department with a seriously depleted staff at a time when the demand for services was at the highest level in its history. To keep faith with the public and in order to improve the communication services, special attention was given to the personnel problems facing the department, to the recruitment, training and welfare of the great army of postal workers, and to the efficient organization of their work. During the past three years the department has recruited 10,000 ex-service men and women to its employment. The total increase in staff necessary to cope with the greatly expanded volume of postal, telegraph and telephone business has been 14,750, of whom nearly 10,000 have been engaged for the Engineering Branch to assist to carry out the rehabilitation works programme. The recruitment and training of such large numbers of men and women was made possible only by departmental foresight and initiative, and by the adoption of streamlined procedures. Prior to the war the department trained only youths, but there are now, in addition, 2,400 adults being trained for mechanical and associated work. Most of these are exservicemen, who have been given every encouragement and opportunity to join the staff of the Postal Department. In the last three years 7,000 technicians and linemen have been trained by the department.

A system of training clerical and administrative staff has also been developed, and in future an adequate course of training will be provided for every officer. Local sources having been explored fully without success, telecommunication engineers are being recruited from the United Kingdom, .with the cooperation of the Department of Immigration. It is expected that during the next eighteen months at least 100 engineers from Great Britain will take up duty with the Postal Department, and thus help to speed up the provision of telephone and other services.

The department has re-organized the staffing of all its branches to ensure that the best use shall be made of available labour resources. At the same time office methods have been under constant examination to determine whether greater efficiency can be achieved, particularly by the introduction of modern machine systems. Greater accuracy and speed have been gained by the extensive use of office machines. Although these improvements have been restricted by ‘the dollar shortage, the maximum use is being made of machinery available from sterling sources.

The Government’s policy is to ensure that working conditions shall be improved, and adequate remuneration provided for employees. As the largest business undertaking in Australia, the Postal Department is endeavouring to lead the way in furnishing good working conditions and doing everything possible to cater for the welfare of its staff. The development of food services; the extension of social and cultural activities, through encouragement and subsidizing of the Australian Postal Institute; and the provision of lockers, lunch rooms, rest rooms, washing facilities, improved lighting and heating, and other amenities have been given a prominent place in the department’s activities. The rates of pay of postal employees have been improved greatly, and during the past three years they have benefited from wage increases amounting to £7,000,000 yearly.

Works in metropolitan areas have included the extension of existing automatic exchanges, the establishment of new exchanges, the laying of underground cables to provide telephone subscribers’ services, the laying of junction lines between exchanges, the installation of additional switching equipment in many automatic exchanges, the erection of new exchange and postal buildings, the modernization of telegraph offices, and the provision of mechanical equipment for the handling of mail matter. Works in country districts have included the provision of many additional trunk-line and telegraph channels, the erection of lines to serve rural communities not yet connected with the public trunk-line system, the laying of underground cables between the capital cities and important provincial centres, the erection of new postal buildings, the extension and remodelling of existing premises, and, as already stated, the establishment of a large number of rural automatic exchanges designed specially to meet the needs of outback areas.

During the past three years the department has added 172,000 telephones; installed 97 automatic exchanges, including 51 in rural areas; provided 1,062 additional trunk-line circuits and 158 carrier telephone systems; laid 384,000 circuit miles of underground cables; added 29,000 miles of telegraph channels ; installed 90 teleprinter systems for public traffic; provided new phonogram equipment - at chief telegraph offices; modernized chief telegraph offices; provided public picturegram services between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide; and established seven regional and three short-wave national broadcasting stations.

It has completed 97 new buildings and has 100 others under construction; remodelled and extended 57 buildings and has work in progress on 48 others; acquired 361 new sites; provided 460 house-to-house letter deliveries in new areas, and extended and improved delivery services in 730 other centres. It has installed 1,224 street letter receivers ; opened 330 new post offices, and provided 573 new mail services, and extended and improved 1,958 others. In addition, the department has greatly increased domestic air-mail facilities, which now operate on 68 routes, and provided for mails to be conveyed by air at normal letter rates in several outback areas. As a part of its programme, the service has recruited and trained 7,000 men as technicians and linemen.

In the same period the department laboratories have conducted intensive research to assist the programme of developmental work. Particular attention has been directed to post-war problems of the telephone and telegraph services caused by shortages of essential equipment, and practical methods of overcoming some shortages have been devised. The research laboratories have also assisted local manufacturers of telecommunication equipment with advice on technical problems and have devised ways and means of using substitute materials in lieu of those which are difficult to obtain at present.

During the present financial year the Postal Department aims to add 90,000 new telephones; install 200 automatic exchanges, including 150 in rural areas; provide 1,100 additional trunk-line channels; lay 200,000 circuit miles of underground cables ; and convert 50 morse telegraph channels to machine operation. In addition, it will continue to improve phonogram equipment; link up Perth, Hobart and Newcastle with the picturegram service; establish fourteen medium frequency and two high-frequency national broadcasting stations; and accelerate its building programme.

The introduction on the 1st July, 1949, of increases of certain postal, telegraph and telephone rates calls for special mention. The increases were made because of increased annual costs of approximately £13,000,000 which were due mainly to higher wages of Postal Department employees and the additional costs of materials, particularly those imported from overseas. The extra charges represented an overall increase of only 16 per cent, in the department’s tariffs. The Australian, postal, telegraph and telephone charges still remain among the lowest in the world. The Postal Department, in common with private business and other public utilities, must pay its way, and the overall increase of 16 per cent, is very moderate in comparison with the additional charges for goods and services imposed by privately operated public utilities and business undertakings.

In devising the new charges, the Government gave special consideration to country residents. Many telephone users in country towns are actually paying lower rentals than in 1920, and the annual charge for rental and local calls for a rural telephone service is considerably lower than in the United States of America, Great Britain, Canada, South Africa or New Zealand.

Broadcasting has become a part of every citizen’s daily life. During the past three years, the number of broadcast listeners’ licences has increased from 1,530,000 to 1,950,000. To-day, 95 per cent, of Australian homes have receivers. Notwithstanding the rapid progress that has been made in recent years, broadcasting is still in its infancy, and many important developments which will improve standards of transmission and reception are taking place. The most spectacular development is television, which has made remarkable progress in the United States of America and Great Britain. Other developments include frequency modulation broadcasting, which operates in the very high frequencies where many’ channels are available. Since the inception of broadcasting in Australia, the Post Office has been responsible for administering the legislation introduced to control radio transmission and reception. The department has also been responsible for providing the technical facilities for, and the maintenance of, the national broadcasting service.

After studying existing conditions and prospective development in the Commonwealth, the Government introduced legislation in 1948, which became effective from the 15th March, 1949. The new act covered two important aspects of broadcasting. The first was the appointment of an independent authority, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, to control, develop and co-ordinate broadcasting services throughout Australia. The second was the appointment to the Australian Broadcasting Commission of representatives of the Treasury and the Postal Department, and the adoption of a system of financing its activities from Consolidated Revenue. Those changes should be of great benefit to the Australian community by setting high standards for broadcasting services and enabling speedy adoption of the latest developments and techniques.

Television has been engaging the attention of the Government for some time, and the latest developments in overseas countries have been closely studied. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board has been authorized to prepare an overall plan for the introduction of a national television service. Standards to meet local conditions have already been adopted, and tenders for providing transmitting equipment in the capital cities are under consideration. Frequency modulation, with its capacity to provide for transmission on the higher wave lengths, has definite possibilities, particularly in improving service to people in rural areas. The plans covering the overall development and expansion of broadcasting services will embrace this alternative system of transmitting programmes. Experimental frequency modulation stations are being operated by the Postal Department in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and action is proceeding to establish trial transmitters in other capital cities.

I submit, therefore, that the Postal Department has done wonderful work during the past three years, and great credit is due to all members of the staff for the conscientious and capable manner in which they have carried out their duties. They realize that they are under an obligation to the people of Australia to give the best possible service, and I consider that the people of this country are under a reciprocal obligation to them to provide the best possible conditions of employment. Having regard to the remarkable achievements of the department since the war, I think that any fair-minded person will readily admit that the Government should provide such conditions for the department’s staff. To this end an interdepartmental committee has been appointed to review the provision of housing accommodation for departmental employees, particularly linemen and others who work in country districts, so that when they are transferred from one place to another they will not experience difficulty in obtaining housing accommodation. I trust that the charges that will be made for accom- modation i in the premises to be provided will conform as far as possible with the rentals paid by employees in the homes that they now occupy, and that the charges made for the new accommodation will be fixed in accordance with the wages of the employees. In addition, the department will provide adequate mobile accommodation in the capital cities as soon as possible, so that when the department’s services are affected by the occurrence of emergencies, such as the recent storms and floods, the staff who have to carry out repairs to the department’s installations will be transported and accommodated in vehicles that will provide workrooms, kitchens and diningrooms. At present many of the field employees have to carry out their duties under the most primitive conditions. Instead of employees having to waste time erecting tents, and having to work under all kinds of discomforts and disabilities, they will be provided with mobile accommodation which shall benefit not only the employees but also the community which they serve.

In conclusion, I desire to pay a particular tribute to the very fine work accomplished by the employees of the Postal Department in Queensland and northern New South Wales during the recent heavy floods, when hundreds of miles of telegraph and telephone lines were washed away. When the disaster occurred it was not necessary to make a special appeal to them to do their utmost to assist the unfortunate people in the affected areas by restoring the department’s services. The employees voluntarily worked extremely long hours, in some instances under the worst possible conditions. Telephonists voluntarily stayed on duty at their switchboards for periods up to fifteen hours. Linemen and others worked chest-deep in flood water for hours, restoring the lines of communication. A similar spirit was manifested by the employees during the disastrous floods that dislocated communications in the Broken Hill and Maitland districts. On behalf of the Government I express its keen appreciation of the very fine work done by the department’s employees, and I pay tribute to their efficiency, which has enabled so many improvements to be made in the service provided for the public.


– I congratulate the Postmas ster-General (Senator Cameron) on the achievements of his department during the period to which he has referred. I am sure that all honorable senators are gratified at the advancement that has taken place in our postal services. The Postmaster-General’s statement to the Senate to-day should be filed in the archives to provide a permanent record of Labour’s accomplishments. I remind the Postmaster-General, however, that people with long -outstanding applications for telephones, will gain little comfort from his review of what has already been done. They would far rather have some assurance that they will be provided with telephones in the near future, and I trust that the PostmasterGeneral will bear that matter in mind.

The budget is an impressive record of the Government’s work in the last financial year, and a hopeful message for the future. One of its most important features is the provision that it makes for the reductions of income tax and social services contributions which came into operation on the 1st July of this year. These reductions total £36,500,000. Ordinarily, the man in the street does not bother to analyse aggregate figures such as these, so I propose to give one or two illustrations of actual tax reductions. Under the revised income tax scale now in operation no single man or woman throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth pays income tax on a personal exertion income of less than £500 a year, or £9 12s. 4d. a week. Because of Australia’s urgent need for money for war purposes, it was necessary, during the regime of the Curtin Government, to fix the income tax exemption limit as low as £150 a year. Since the end of the war, however, taxes have been progressively reduced. The basis of Labour’s taxation plan, formulated during Mr. Cm-tin’s term of office as Prime Minister, and carried into effect by the Chifley Administration, is that the greatest tax contributions should be made by those members of the community who can best afford to make them. Similarly, the aim of our social services plan is to give the greatest relief to those who are most in” need of relief. Not only have taxes been reduced, but also taxation scales have been adjusted, until to-day, as I have said, no single income earner receiving less than £500 a year pays any income tax at all. The exemption for a man with a- dependent wife is £560 a year. It increases by approximately £60 for each dependent child, so that a man with a wife and, five children may earn up to £15 a week without paying income tax. The man in the street may argue that 1 do not know what I am talking about because he may know of workers receiving much less than £500 a year who have tax deductions from their pay envelopes. Those deductions, however, are for the social services contribution. That contribution, too, is levied on a graduated scale. It starts at 3d. in the £1 on income* of £105 a year, increasing to a maximum of ls. 6d. in the £1 at £500 a year. The social services contribution, like the income tax, is levied in accordance with family responsibilities. For instance, a man with a dependent wife does not start to pay the social services contribution until he receives £250 a year. A man with a wife and five children is exempt until he earns approximately £11 a week. It has taken some time for the Labour Government to get its income tax and social services contribution scales on to their present fair basis. These things cannot be done overnight without causing disruption. The task must be tackled slowly. Some members of the community may question the need for the continuance of the present social services contribution scales in view of the fact that we have £100,000,000 in the National Welfare Fund, but Labour’s aim over the years has always been to give the utmost consideration to the human factor, rather than to property rights. Ever since feudal times and the inception of parliamentary government as we know it to-day, property rights have played an important part in our political administration. In fact, those rights still have a place in some of our parliamentary institutions. The Commonwealth Parliament’s authority is limited to certain powers that have been delegated to it by the States. Over all other matters, the States have complete sovereignty. With the exception of Queensland, all the States have bicameral legislatures dominated, except perhaps in New South Wales, by legislative councils elected on a property franchise. In South Australia, for instance, a citizen has to be a property owner or the occupier of a rented property of a certain value before he can vote at the Legislative Council elections. Similar qualifications are necessary in some of the other States. The principle is that special recognition must be given to the man who has what is called a “ stake in the country Therefore, in some of the State parliaments, the important factor is still property, not the rights of human beings. Labour has endeavoured to alter that system for many years. In the Commonwealth sphere, because of the agitation of the great Labour movement in pre-federation days, both Houses of the Parliament are elected by universal franchise. The Commonwealth Parliament, however, continues to function under a Constitution founded on the principle of property rights. Labour has been striving to alter that principle, and has already started on the road. Our social services programme to-day is founded on the human factor, and not on property rights. It starts with the unborn baby. The mother is given pre-natal care. When the child is born, the mother is paid a maternity allowance. Previously there was an allowance of £5, but all sorts of restrictions were imposed on the payment of that sum. I shall not discuss my personal history except to point out that my wife and I were not successful in obtaining the baby bonus on any occasion, although we had a large family. Restrictions of that sort have been removed. The Labour party has increased the allowance for the first child from £5 to £15, for the second child to £16, and for the third and any subsequent children to £17 10s. each. The allowance is not subject to a means test. Thus, every child is taken care of, through the mother, from birth. Then, as soon as a second child arrives in any family, child endowment is payable. The rate of child endowment has been increased by the Labour party from 5s. to 10s. a week for each child after the first until it is sixteen years of age. Endow- ment, also, is not subject to any meanstest. It is a payment that is made toevery citizen who has the responsibility of raising a family.

Child endowment ceases as children pass the age of sixteen years, but then the Government’s full employment policy takes effect. In the not distant past,, children often failed to find employment when they left school at the age of sixteen years. Very few jobs were available under the old cut-throat financial system, which allowed people to starve. The situation has been changed since then, and the Government’s policy now provides for the employment of everybody who is willing and able to work. The Government also is providing educational facilities, in conjunction with the States, for technical and professional training. Formerly, many brilliant children had to go without the education that could have developed them into outstanding citizens, but to-day, under the Government’s system of educational assistance, such children can obtain the training that is necessary to fit them for trades and professions. As soon as a child obtains employment, he becomes eligible for social service assistance in the form of unemployment and sickness benefits. Those benefits are available to a male from the age of sixteen to 65 years and to a female from the age of sixteen to 60 years. Should a factory or some other place of employment close down and put a man out of work for a month or even six months, he is able to claim the unemployment benefit. I realize that the unemployment and sickness benefits are not large, but I have vivid recollections of the paucity of the financial relief that was afforded to the unemployed during the depression. The unemployment benefit is considerably better than anything that was provided for the workers during that period. These benefits also make provision for the dependants of a breadwinner. In addition to the benefit that is available for a sick or unemployed man, allowances are paid for his wife and first child, as well as child endowment for any other children in his family. Such assistance was never provided for our unfortunate citizens by anti-Labour governments. The unemployment benefit has already proved to be a boon to thousands of people who were thrown out of work as the result of the disruption that was caused by the foolishness of the coalminers not long ago.

The Government has also provided for widows’ pensions. The introduction of a pensions scheme for widows was talked about for many years, but benefits were available for such unfortunate women in only one of Australia’s six States until this Government instituted a nationwide scheme. Admittedly, the widow’s pension is not a huge sum, but at least it provides security for its recipients. A widow under the age of 50 years who has no children is entitled to receive the pension for six months after the death of her husband. That tides her over the period when she needs help most and provides her with the opportunity to adjust herself to her changed circumstances. If she is over 50 years of age when her husband dies, she is entitled to draw the pension for the remainder of her life. Such payments are subject to a slight means test, but that does not affect most of the widows in Australia. A widow with children is entitled to a pension whatever her age may be. Furthermore, she receives an allowance for the first child in addition to child endowment for any other children. The next benefit is the age pension, which becomes available to a man at the age of 65 years and to a woman at the age of 60 years. Of course, if a bread-winner should be incapacitated before reaching the normal age at which his working life should end he may draw the invalid pension. The invalid pension scheme has been improved by the Labour party so that the pensioner may also receive allowances for his wife and his first dependent child. Whatever may happen to an Australian, he is assured of security throughout his life.

There has been a great deal of criticism of the application of the means test to age and invalid pensioners. Many of the Government’s critics in this respect talk through the backs of their necks. The policy of the Labour party is to help those in the greatest need and to force those who are best able to pay to contribute to their help. It would not be fair to pay the age pension to somebody who was drawing an income of £2,000 a year as the result of the exploita tion of the labour of other people. Therefore, a means test is applied to the age pension. Before the Labour party liberalized the pensions system, a severe property bar was applied to the age pension. Any person who owned a house worth £400 or more was ineligible for the pension, whether he lived in the house or not. If he owned a house worth less than £400, the government of the day would grant a pension but would take a lien on the property so that, upon the pensioner’s death, it could recoup all or a part of the total amount that had been paid in pension. Anything that happened to be left over would be handed to the pensioner’s heirs. That sort of thing does not happen to-day. The Labour party raised the property bar, first from £400 to £650, and then to £750. In addition to that, a pensioner may also have £100 in the bank without sacrificing any pension rights. Previously the cash limit was £50. The property bar of £750 applies equally to the husband and wife, in the case of a married couple, but if they live in a house that they own, their entitlement to a full pension is not affected. The permissible income limit also has been raised by the Labour party. Formerly, the permissible income was 12s. 6d. for each pensioner. The Labour party has gradually increased that to 30s. a week so that a man and wife in receipt of pension may have a joint income of £3 without loss of any part of their pension. This means that the husband is allowed to earn £3 a week, so that the joint income of the two pensioners can amount to as much as £7 5s. a week. Considering that they may also keep £100 each in their bank accounts, their situation is not unsatisfactory.

All of the benefits that I have mentioned are financed from the National Welfare Fund. Yet opponents of the Government say that the Government is just squandering money and should reduce taxes. As I have pointed out, people on the lower income ranges pay only nominal amounts in taxes and social services contribution. A man who earns over £10,000 a year, of course, is obliged to pay income tax at the rate of 13s. 6d. in £1 and the social service contribution of ls. 6d. in the £1, making a total charge of 15s. in the £1. People like that are the people who have the ability to pay, but they are the ones who are continually squealing about high taxes.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


– When the sitting was suspended I had dealt with the Government’s taxation and social services programmes. I now propose to consider its financial policy and to show its effect upon our economy generally and upon certain sections of the community in particular. Next to wool, wheat is our most important primary product, and export commodity. More time is devoted by the Parliament to the subject of wheat production than to any other topic. Our debates upon it involve the consideration of numerous reports and may appear to be a little confusing to city dwellers. However, in areas where wheat is produced, the all-absorbing topic is wheat not only among the growers themselves but also among storekeepers, the residents of the towns in those districts and those indirectly associated with the industry. During the period that governments have dealt with the production of wheat, South Australia has always been to the forefront of improving methods of production. It was in that State that the stripper, which afterwards was developed into a complete harvester combine, was invented. The roller for clearing mallee scrub and the stump-jump plough are other inventions of South Australians; and experiments for improvement of yields carried out at Roseworthy Agricultural College by Professors Constance and Lowrie have shown the use of superphosphate to be a necessity. The plant building scientists have materially altered the class of wheat now grown, all to the . wheat-farmer’s advantage. The Australian Government has played its part in this work through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and in co-operation with agricultural colleges and universities.

All this was done to aid the production of wheat : but very little indeed was done Co aid the farmer in marketing his produce until the inauguration of what is now known as the Scully wheat marketing stabilization plan. In 1931, the wholesale price of wheat was 2s. 4f d. a bushel, and in 1939 it was 2s. 4d. a bushel, whilst the average wholesale price for the period 1931-1940 was 3s. 4£d. a bushel. In 1938, this Parliament passed the Wheat Industry Assistance Act which provided a home-consumption price of 5s. 2d. a bushel, whilst the old flour tax was reenacted to raise the necessary funds for payment to the growers. In all, the wheat-growers have been assisted by government aid in one form or another from 1931 to 19415 to the amount of nearly £40,000,000. In 1940, legislation was enacted with the object of stabilizing the industry. A board was established to control marketing, and a price of 3s. lOd. a bushel at ports was guaranteed. That guaranteed price was increased in 1942 to 4s. a bushel, and in 1944 to 4s. 3d. a bushel ; and it continued to increase until in 1948 it was 6s. 3d. a bushel f.o.b. The guaranteed price also became the homeconsumption price.

With the exception of sales made on a government to government basis, the Australian Wheat Board has had sole control of marketing and even in respect of government-to-government transactions it has been consulted as the representative of the farmers.

After the lapse of the Commonwealth’s war-time powers, the Government, with the concurrence of the States, passed the Wheat Industry Stabilization Act in 1948. That act provided a revolutionary procedure in the stabilization and marketing of farmers’ produce. First the control of the Australian Wheat Board was vested in the farmers who elect a majority of members of the board. The guaranteed price and home-consumption price of 6s. 3d. a bushel was based upon a statistical inquiry into the cost of production. The farmers were represented on the board of inquiry. The price of wheat is now 6s. 8d. a bushel f .o.r. at ports. In addition, under the International Wheat Agreement, arrangements have been made to dispose of 80,000,000 bushels of wheat overseas, to those countries which are signatories to the agreement, for a period of four years. The maximum price for this wheat works out at about lis. 2d. a bushel, with a minimum price in the’ fourth year of about 7s. 3d. f.o.b. Australian ports. Before this agreement was concluded, the federal council of the Australian Wheat Growers Federation was consulted and eventually it agreed to the minimum and maximum price range.

An important phase of the wheat industry is that the farmers are solid in their determination that wheat will not again suffer the depression conditions, and they have used their organizations in pressing for political action to varying degrees; but it has been the Labour party that has actually stabilized their industry and been persistent in its advocacy of a better deal for farmers. It has, with the aid of the farmers themselves, through their representatives meeting and discussing their problems, finally established the Australian Wheat Board to market their wheat and has fixed a minimum price based upon the cost of production. And last, but not least, is the Labour Government’s recognition of the rights of the farmer to have majority representation on councils, conferences or boards dealing with wheat production and marketing. I mention those facts particularly because, over the years, pseudo “country” party organizations have continually claimed to represent the wheat-growers of Australia. However, although the Australian Country party has been in office in conjunction with the Liberal party in not only this Parliament but also in State parliaments, it has never attempted to give to the cereal-growers a fair deal with respect to either marketing or the cost of production, and it has never enabled them to reap the full benefit of overseas prices for their products whatever those prices may have been. It has remained for the Labour Government to give those benefits to the wheat-growers.

In the course of my earlier remarks I referred briefly to the Government’s full employment policy. The inauguration of a full employment policy involves a long-range plan because whilst it may be comparatively easy to operate in a favorable environment it is not so easy to do so over a period of years when conditions are not so favorable. There is the possibility that economic depressions in other countries will effect our economy. The Government has so arranged our economy that nearly 1,000,000 personnel have been discharged from the armed forces and every one of that number who has been able and willing to work has been placed in employment. The Government has implemented, also, a rehabilitation training scheme in the various trades and professions. Now that the economy of other countries is being dislocated we shall soon see the effect of Labour’s longrange policy of full employment more clearly. Already, a start has been made with its Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, which will enable the development of Australia to go ahead. Huge Government undertakings of that kind will take up any slack in employment and will act as a buffer against any unemployment that may be caused by a recession, in overseas countries, that may affect Australia. Already, plans have been made for implementing developmental schemes at a cost of £700,000,000.

The Government will ensure that wildcat schemes such as those embarked upon after the World War I. shall not be repeated. Every industry that has been established by private enterprise with Government assistance has been carefully analysed and planned to ensure continuity of employment and its progressive expansion. All this has been achieved by implementing Labour’s economic policy. One of the main reasons for its success is that the Government has taken from financiers the power to dictate government policy. All down the years there has been an urge on the part of governments of every political colour to develop Australia but in the past when developmental work was proposed the question of whether it was for the benefit of Australia was never raised. It was always a question of whether the Government could get the finance necessary to carry out the work; and, if the financiers objected to any project that was the end of it. That is exemplified to-day in South Australia, where for many years governments have been enunciating proposals for the conservation of water and endeavouring to implement such proposals, but because the projects were not considered to be paying propositions the requisite finance was never made available. Consequently, on Monday next people living in South Australia will be restricted in the quantity of water they may use because there will not be sufficient available to meet normal requirements during the summer months. But if the financiers saw the possibility of securing a “ rake-off “ by way of interest they would allow the Government to borrow the money to go on with the job. Sometimes high rates of interest were charged because the financiers stated that the security of a State was not good. Honorable senators remember that during the depression years money could not be obtained. Although we were told that our security was not good, Australia was crying out for development. There was abundant material and labour available. All of this has been altered by Labour’s policy, which provides for the utilization of our nation’s resources and the national credit through the Commonwealth Bank, so that no question of where the money comes from will arise. As this credit is advanced by our own bank, the low interest rate charged will be paid back to ourselves, and a part at least will be used to reduce our national debt, including that portion of it that is owing to private financiers, some of whom have never seen Australia. It is apparent, therefore, that the full employment programme of the Labour Government needs to be safeguarded. That will be done if the Chifley Government is returned at the forthcoming general election in December.

An extraordinary amount of propaganda is disseminated by Labour’s opponents, chiefly through the press, in an attempt to divide the people on their vote for the Chifley Labour Government. Much of it is without foundation. A newsletter is being published and distributed free in numerous districts in Australia, ostensibly on behalf of various so-called committees. The fact is that these pamphlets are issued by a committee of trading bank officers. I am convinced that the trading banks are connected with these committees. It is not so many years ago that I was approached by the Bank Officers Association to present an application for improved wages and conditions to the Arbitration Court. In South Australia to-day that association has a whole floor of a building over the Bank of New South Wales, which it is using for the purpose of propaganda and the distribution of these newsletters. It is therefore very easy to connect these activities with the trading banks. These pamphlets contain a continual tirade of abuse of socialistic enterprise.’ Honorable senators will remember, also, the hoarding placards which pictured the “ socialistic hand “ grabbing the workers’ savings bank and a lot of other things.

Senator Ashley:

– They said that “ Billy Hughes “ was doing it.


– That is so. All of these propaganda articles have either been squibs or crackers which after a big bang have fizzled out. Although these newsletters are ostensibly published by various little local committees, they are the work of bank officials or other people connected with the trading banks. Usually, although these newsletters contain some little local item confined to about three inches or four inches of space, giving particulars of the meetings of the Red Cross or some other organization, the remainder is devoted to abuse not only of the Labour movement but also of its socialist programme. In addition, there are distorted statements about socialism.

But here is proof against all of these traducers of Labour : The Commonwealth Bank is the “ child of Labour “, although the opponents of Labour call it a socialistic enterprise under political control. As I have already said the opposition to the establishment of the Commonwealth Savings Bank was so fierce at the time that quite a lot of people were stampeded into the belief that we were going to take their savings and squander them on the ocean, or something of that kind. From the time of its establishment until 1945 the bank was depicted as a socialist enterprise, and it was claimed that the Government was taking away the rights of the people to control the finances of this country. It was also claimed that we were going to place it under the political control of this Parliament. The Commonwealth Bank started off with a guarantee of £10,000, which was never used. Reference to the published accounts of that bank show that to-day its assets total ;£912,178,268. Despite all the propaganda of the private financiers, amounts deposited with the Commonwealth Savings Bank now total £468,697,094. There are almost 4,000,000 depositors. It is the largest institution of its kind in the world. At the 30th June, 1949, it had a reserve fund of £5,862,507. That shows the confidence that the mass of the people have in this socialistic enterprise.

Quite apart from the savings division, the Commonwealth Bank made a profit of £6,244,198 in 1948-49. Of the aggregate profits from all departments, £5,576,000 was paid into the Commonwealth Treasury. That sum included £4,460,000 paid into Consolidated Revenue. That is to say, some of the profits of this banking institution have been returned to the people by being transferred to Consolidated Revenue. Although that saves the people a considerable amount of tax, the Opposition is always squealing about it. An amount of £1,116,000 was paid into the National Debt Sinking Fund; £600,660 was paid to certain State governments where the amalgamation of savings banks occurred, and £1,507,000 was credited, to capital and reserve funds. What a nice little haul the private banking institutions are fighting to get for themselves by their propaganda to smash Labour’s banking legislation ! A total of £39,698,000 of depositors’ money is now deposited in the general trading division of the Commonwealth Bank. These deposits are guaranteed by the security of the nation. During 1948-49 housing loans approved amounted to £3,660,000, and bore interest at the rate of 3f per cent. Some honorable senators will remember that private housing loans after World War I. bore interest at from 5$ per cent, to 6$ per cent.

Senator Lamp:

– I paid 8 per cent.


– The rural credit department of the bank has made available to various marketing boards and co-operative societies no less than £217,044,000. No wonder that the other fellows could not provide marketing schemes ! They had no idea of using the Commonwealth Bank for the purpose of guaranteeing and providing the funds necessary to do the marketing. These, advances have stabilized primary pro duction and enabled orderly marketing. A further advance of £48,000,000 was made available to exporters against shipping documents for foodstuff under contract to the British Ministry of Food. From the profits made in this department, £509,730 has been granted for the purpose of research into various aspects of primary production. All of this has been accomplished under the Labour party’s socialistic programme.

The new industrial finance department of the bank has approved advances to 25,306 people totalling £13,979,289 as fixed loans and overdrafts, and in connexion with hire purchase agreements. The note issue department has made large profits, all of which were controlled by private hanks before this socialistic enterprise took control and returned profits to the people of Australia. It is therefore apparent why our opponents are using “ fireworks “ to try to upset Labour’s financial plan.

Senator LAMP:

.- I desire to extend my congratulations to Senator O’Flaherty on his very able speech, and also to compliment the Government on introducing this splendid budget. I 9hall mention several matters of less importance before dealing with major issues. The first matter to which I refer is the need to redecorate the dining and refreshment rooms in Parliament House. Before the refreshmentroom was altered during the major structural alterations to the building that were carried out recently, the walls of the dining and refreshment rooms exhibited very fine decorations. Those decorations have not been replaced, and I should like to know why. We have the staff to carry out such work satisfactorily. From my experience of the tradesmen employed in Parliament House and from inspection of the work that they have performed, I know that they can do work of this kind that would be equal to that performed in any part of the world. I am amazed that the tradesmen employed in Parliament House have not been given the opportunity to display their talents in the new refreshmentroom, and I ask that consideration be given to redecorating the refreshmentroom and the lounge as soon as practicable.

I do not know whose function it is to supervise the quality of lighting in the Hotel Kurrajong, at Canberra, where members of Parliament are accommodated. The Public Works Committee, of which I am chairman, has just returned from Hobart. While there I was impressed with the quality of the lighting in the lounge of the hotel in which, we were accommodated. Difficulties had been encountered in the lighting of the lounge in that hoted similar to those which exist in the lounge of the Hotel Kurrajong, but the management of the Hobart hotel overcame those difficulties by having wall lights installed. The . lounge of the Hotel Kurrajong, which is dim, dingy and unsightly, should be similarly treated, and I ask that action be taken by the Government to improve its facilities before the next Parliament assembles.

Dealing still with conditions in Canberra, I notice that during the past financial year £130,146 was expended on provisions for government hostels and hotels. Not long ago, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson) issued a statement that plans had been approved by the Government to provide adequate facilities for the increasing population of Canberra. The Minister stated that it was estimated that the population of Canberra, which in 1947 amounted to 15,000. would increase to 18,000 by 1950, to 24,000 in 1952, to 28,000 in 1954, and would reach 44,000 in 1957. However, no plans have been made for the erection of additional shops in Canberra, whose shopkeepers are the most arrogant in Australia. The shopkeepers of Canberra do not give any appreciable service to their customers. As I have mentioned, a considerable amount was expended during the past financial year for the provision of food for government hostels and hotels. The commodities are purchased through a local supply and tender board. I suggest that that body should be disbanded and that the Government should deal directly with the Canberra Co-operative Society. The added volume of business for the society would enable that body to expand its present premises and to furnish an even better service to the local community than it is now doing. Furthermore, the

Government would enjoy the advantage that the members of its commissariat would not be obliged to accept food and other articles from the contractors at unseasonable times merely because they were included in the contract. The members of the commissariat would be quite free to order what they liked from the co-operative society and at times that were most suitable to them.

When I spoke on the budget twelve months ago, I devoted some time to discussing the high cost of living in Canberra, and I related my remarks to the defeat of the Government’s referendum proposal that it should be empowered to continue to control rents and prices throughout Australia. I then forecast that the cost of living would rise steeply because of the inability of six State bodies to administer prices control as effectively as the Australian Government had done during the war and in the immediate post-war period. Unfortunately, my prediction, which was echoed by all supporters of the Government, has been borne out by the facts. At that time I also emphasized the great part played by the cooperative consumers’ societies in keeping down the cost of living in all communities where they exist. I do not intend to weary honorable senators with a recital of all the merits of co-operative societies because the principles of co-operation are well known to every one. They were first applied in Great Britain over 100 years ago, and that pattern has been followed in many other countries, where hundreds of millions of people are now enjoying the benefits offered by the co-operative movement. I am convinced that the movement that was begun by the immortal twenty weavers of Rochdale should function in every country of the world.

Honorable senators will recall that, when I spoke on the budget last year, I complimented the people of Canberra on having established a co-operative society in this fair city. All that I desire to do now is to underline what I said on that occasion. I then said -

The lead-quarters of the Public Service is located in Canberra, and the members of that body are skilled in the art of government. If the public servants cannot run a co-operative society which is the best in Australia then they cannot administer properly the various departments.

I am glad to say that the high opinion that I expressed of the public servants at that time has been borne out by the success of the local co-operative movement. In the second year of trading, notwithstanding that it has to conduct its business in premises that are situated in what is virtually a back street, it has accumulated a surplus of income over expenditure amounting to £1,320. In the first year of operation it had a deficit of £198. Now it has been able to pay interest on share capital at the rate of per cent., and although it has been forced to confine its activities to trading in groceries, because of the lack of adequate trading premises, the society has been able to make a rebate on purchases of ls. in the £1, to its shareholders, who now comprise 656 families. It is obvious that the society has proved worth while to its members. That is a remarkable achievement, which more than justifies my contention that the Government should do something to assist the society, which aims at reducing the high cost of living in Canberra. Honorable senators are well aware that the shortage of business premises in Canberra has been pronounced for many years. I again ask the Government to give consideration to the needs of the Canberra Co-operative Society. As a Labour supporter, I know that the fourth principle of action for implementing the Labour party’s objective, as set out in the Federal platform of the party is -

The organization and establishment of cooperative activities, in which the workers and other producers, shall be trained in the management, responsibility and control of industry.

Within two years of its establishment, the Canberra Co-operative Society has provided practical evidence of that training, and I again compliment it on its success. At the same time I ask the Government to provide edequate premises for the society, which requires a building on the north side of the river as well as one on the south side. I see no reason why the Government should not construct suitable buildings for the society and permit it to occupy them for a nominal rental.

In Australia we have had several examples of co-operative retail societies and small building organizations that have built homes for workers for little more than cost, and in almost all instances those organizations have functioned most successfully. I propose now to tell honorable senators a little about the progress made by co-operative societies in other parts of the world. In Denmark the production and importation of building materials is now to be undertaken by a co-operative body formed by the Danish Workers Co-operative Council to compete with private enterprise. That organization will function, as far as present restrictions will permit it, as a wholesale buyer for the entire co-operative movement in Denmark. It is also hoped that that movement will begin to produce bricks and to operate lime quarries. A co-operative organization provides the only independent source of supply in Denmark. All the other forms of supply are linked with the cartel which, before the war, collaborated with most of Europe’s cement firms. If we want to break down a monopoly the most effective way to do so is to form a co-operative society to function in competition with the monopoly. In France, which is not a socialist country, and which, incidentally, is in an economic mess at the moment, a co-operative society was formed in Paris to take over the cleaning of the trains and to maintain the cleanliness of railway stations. That was, of course, a most worthwhile activity. In Finland a co-operative society has been formed to produce and distribute milk, and now, 98 per cent, of the milk trade of that country is conducted by that organization. That is only as things should be. In Germany co-operative societies are being formed to conduct the fishing industry, instead of permitting powerful investors to exploit the demand for fish. Later it is hoped that those societies will also conduct wholesale as well as retail trade in fish. In Sweden a hotel with 250 rooms has been erected by the co-operative movement in Stockholm, and has functioned most successfully. I mention those facts to impress upon honorable senators the benefits of co-operation.

I desire to mention now a scheme which I have advocated for the last three or four years. I refer to the proposal to generate electricity in Tasmania from the vast hydro-electric sources available in that State in order to supply electrical current to western

Victoria and South. Australia. I preface the remarks that I am now about to make by pointing out that it is inevitable that my comments on this matter will contain some repetition of statements that I have previously made. The broad principle of the proposal is that Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and the Commonwealth shall enter into an agreement whereby Tasmania will generate and transmit to western Victoria and South Australia the electrical equivalent of 1,000,000 horse-power annually. I desire to make it quite clear, however, that Tasmania does not intend to give away its electricity because in years to come Tasmania hopes to be able to utilize all the hydro-electric power that it can generate. It is necessary, therefore, as a preliminary to any agreement that Tasmania shall be guaranteed proper payment for its electrical current before it will enter into any negotiations. My people live in South Australia, and I have visited that State on many occasions. Frequently, the boys have been out of work for considerable periods because of the lack of coal to generate electricity to keep the factories going. The loss of wages in South Australia in recent years must amount to many hundreds of thousands of pounds. Each year, South Australia obtains 261,000 tons of coal from Newcastle. As Adelaide is approximately 1,000 miles from Newcastle, the enormous cost of transporting coal can be appreciated readily. I may also point out that the submarine telephone cable from Tasmania to Victoria has been out of action only once in its thirteen years of operation. It did not break, but chafing on a rock allowed the entry of water. Therefore, the idea of a submarine power cable is practicable, and there would . be little danger of it being put out of action. The need for the electricity in South Australia is urgent. I propose now to show that the necessary power is available in Tasmania. On the 17 th January, 1948, the Launceston Examiner published the following article: -

Hydro-electric power development in Tasmania represents only 8 or 9 per cent, of the hydro-electric potential of the State.

This is stated in a report prepared on behalf of the State Finance Committee for the Com monwealth Grants Commission. With development in hand, or contemplated, this percentage might possibly be doubled in 15 or 20 years.

The most serious problem facing the industry is man-power shortage. The report says that a great deal depends upon the Hydro-Electric Commission’s ability to attract and retain labour for its developmental projects.

The following is the opinion of Mr. Knight, the Tasmanian hydro-electric commissioner on this matter: -

Only between 7 and 8 per cent, of Tasmania’s potential water power has so far been developed. New construction now under way will, when completed, add 66,000 horse-power to present total capacity of 226,000 horse-power. With three-quarters of Australia’s potential hydro power resources, Tasmania believes it has a national responsibility to develop these resources and so promote the industrial strength of Australia as a whole. Expert staff is engaged on the investigation of all aspects of these natural resources so that as the demand comes power is available for the development of these vital resources. Tasmania is the future power house of Australia.

There is no saying when full development of all potential hydro-power will be reached. For obvious reasons progress must be gradual. Mr. Knight points out, for example -

With development of power you have to have more people, because there is a limit to the amount of power than can be consumed per head. However, there is right throughout the world a tremendous expansion in demand for power. Greater reliance is being placed on power. It is being generally realized that greater production can be got by using more power per head. Appreciation of this was probably sharpened by war-time necessities. Eight to 10 per cent, increase every year in demand for power is a fairly general figure throughout industrial countries of the world.

Not only in Tasmania are there plans for big hydro-electric developments. It is proposed to spend £165,000,000, for instance, on the Snowy Mountains HydroElectric Power Scheme in the south corner of the Australian mainland. The important point is that the catchment of the rivers involved in the Snowy scheme is about equal to the Derwent catchment in Tasmania. On this subject Mr. Knight has this to say -

It is now getting within the realm of practicability to transmit power to the mainland by under-water cables. With the labour and material resources in Tasmania at the moment we can do little more than meet our own power requirements, but within ten years or so the picture may have changed considerably, enabling us to supply power to the mainland much more cheaply than it can be generated there. Of course, one does not know what developments in atomic power may take place in that period. Because water power is not using up any consumable asset, it is clearly in the national and even the international interest that the most economical water resources of a country be developed first.

I agree that water power is the most economical way of generating electricity. Generation of electricity from coal cannot compete. I have proved that the required electricity could be generated. The problem then would be to transmit it to the mainland. The rivers that could be used in Tasmania are the Mersey, the Emu, the Pieman and its tributaries, including the White River, the Arthur, the King and its tributaries, the Queen and the Princess, the Gordon and the Collingwood. Those are some of the finest rivers in the Commonwealth. In the Tennessee Valley scheme in the United States of America, there are fourteen dams on the Tennessee River alone. I believe that more than fourteen would be necessary in Tasmania to produce the 1,000,000 horse-power that I mentioned earlier. That would be sufficient to provide South Australia with 25 per cent, more power than it is using at present. The proposal is to run a submarine power cable from the coast of Tasmania to King Island, across the island underground, and then to the western coast of Victoria and overland to South Australia. The total distance would be more than 500 miles, but that would not present any great difficulty because, as I propose to show in a few moments, similar projects have already been successfully carried out in other countries. I sincerely believe that the people of Tasmania should always remember the 121st Psalm: “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help “. God has provided us with flowing gold in abundance, but we are allowing it to run to waste. In the districts of Tasmania in which the rivers to which I have referred flow, there is an assured rainfall, as the’ following table shows : -

Obviously, an adequate water supply is guaranteed. We who have lived on the west coast of Tasmania know how reliable the rains are. They have never failed us yet, and will never fail us in the future. Some years ago, I heard from the British Broadcasting Corporation the news that the Government of the United Kingdom believed that electricity could be generated in the fiords of Norway for use in British factories. We all know, of course, that Hitler conquered Norway not for its fish or its man-power, but for its electricity supply. Electricity generated in the nords is transmitted down Norway, across to Denmark, and into the industrial areas of Germany. I have here a copy of a letter that I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) a considerable time ago on the subject of using Tasmanian hydro-electric power in South Australia, and thus saving the 261,000 tons of coal that is transported annually from Newcastle to Adelaide. I stated -

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

Further to my talk with you, in regard tothe generation of electricity in Tasmania, and its transmission to South Australia, I stated that it was possible to supply, to South Australia 1,000,000 horse-power. I believe this is now a conservative estimate.

I also said that this would save the carrying of 261,000 tons of coal, 1,000 miles from Newcastle. I pointed out that the technical difficulty was the re-inversion of the current from alternating to direct current, and that the Germans during the waT had perfected equipment that would allow this to be donecheaply. I believe that the Russians stole this equipment, and that it is very difficult to obtain copies of the plans.

I now understand from the Enfield CableCompany, of England, that there is to be held in Paris, on 24th June of this year an international conference, on large electric systems. I also understand that the Russians are to be represented.

The Prime Minister replied to that letter, and through his good graces, an Australian representative was sent to the conference. Unfortunately, the interpretation was poor and sometimes nonexistent, with the result that we wereunable to find out what we wanted to know. Later, I wrote to the Prime Minister, as follows : -

With the conquest of Norway, the Germanshad set themselves the task of generating power in the fiords and taking it by cable through Denmark to Germany. It is understood that the British are considering the same scheme. I was informed of this by the Enfield Cable Company. It is also understood that the Germans generated the current A.C. transformed it to D.C. for transmission to Germany then re-inverted the current to A.C. for use at the factories. It is also known that the Germans have perfected a cable for transmission of electricity, and now the British have also. The Germans also perfected equipment for the inversion and re-inversion of the current. That is a cheap method of transformation. We are told that the Russians stole this transforming equipment and it is very difficult to obtain copies of the plans. Of course there is nothing to stop this scheme from being put into operation now, only the cost of inverting the current, which is very considerable. If this technique of the Germans were secured for this job, it should be economically possible to supply South Australia with all the electrical energy that is needed, and to save the 261,000 tons of coal each year, leaving the Leigh Creek coal for future development. If the Commonwealth Government would send a man to Germany to find out all that is possible in regard to this matter, it would enable concrete plans to be put before the Commonwealth and the two States, for its development.

The Commonwealth appointed Mr. Magee of the Sydney City Council as its representative in London, and a Mr. Faraker, an expert from Australia House attended the conference held at Paris in June of last year. Mr. Magee sent me the following letter : -

Hearing from confidential sources that you were generally interested in the recent developments in electrical transmission by Direct Current at high voltages, I am taking the liberty of sending you a copy of a .section of my report to the Commonwealth Government on the Discussions at the C.I.G.B..E. Conference held in Paris in July this year.

Perhaps I should explain that I was co-opted as a technical observer to accompany Mr. Faraker of Australia House to this Conference and have recently forwarded the abovementioned report to him for sending on to Canberra.

From the attached Notes, it will be seen that a very different viewpoint from that held a few years ago by British engineers on H.V.D.C. possibilities, is now put forward - and it is now evident that they wish to match the progress already made by the Swedish and Swiss engineers, by the earliest possible development here of this form of transmission, and apply it in its most promising form to undersea point-to-point projects. I recall that not many years ago it was held by British engineers that ten to fifteen years would elapse before they could see plant developed and applied for such purposes, but this policy - if such it may be called - has been dropped, presumably because of the competition likely from Continental manufacturing firms should inquiries be received for such plant from overseas in the near future.

That proves to me that, given sufficient incentive, the British people can produce the equipment necessary to put this scheme into operation. I received a letter from Lord Forrester of Enfield Cables Limited, setting forth his views on the subject. I disagreed with his idea that the main part of Victoria should be supplied with electricity from Tasmania because I knew that Victoria could develop its own power resources economically. Therefore, I wrote to Lord Forrester on the 19th June, 1947, in the following terms: -

I have read with considerable interest the report I received last week, for which I sincerely thank you.

Certain aspects of the scheme need explanation. In the first place Tasmania would never have the resources to develop this scheme in any way to make it worthwhile. The idea is for the Commonwealth, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania to combine to put the scheme into actual operation and to share the cost.

Tasmania at the present time is experiencing great difficulty in securing enough labour and material to complete the Butlers Gorge Dam which is an essential part of the central scheme.

My idea is that the rivers in the North West and West Coast of Tasmania should be reserved for this scheme, leaving all the others which are very considerable for future development.

The Government at the present time is committed to supply King Island with electricity and now has the job under consideration.

I estimate that Adelaide is 380 miles from Appollo Bay, where the present telephone cable terminates in Victoria. The main consideration, I believe, would be whether or not the distance is too great. If South Australia is to be the main consideration, the termination of the cable could be at Warrnambool or at Portland. South Australia is in a terrible position. They have no coal, except at Leigh Creek, which is 500 miles from Adelaide. The deposits are considerable, but not a very high grade of coal. Consideration has been given to the generation of electricity on the spot, but I believe it has been abandoned on account of the scarcity of water.

I understand that, since then, plans have been made to establish a plant at Port Augusta to use Leigh Creek coal for the generation of electricity for South Australia. My letter continued -

Something must be done in the near future to overcome this difficulty.

In regard to the supply to Victoria. Victoria lias enormous supplies of brown coal. This coal is fairly wet and consequently fairly expensive to use, but I understand they are gradually overcoming the difficulty, so it would be as well to eliminate the central and eastern parts of Victoria from the scheme and such centres as Colac, Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton, Ararat, Stawell, Horsham, Dimboola, and Mount Gambier, just across the South Australian border, could be supplied.

Taking the big scheme as a whole, all these towns and South Australia could be supplied.

Only a few clays ago I received a letter from Lord Forrester stating that he proposed to visit Australia soon and would be very pleased to discuss the subject again, and to learn what further progress had been made with the scheme. [ also have with me an official report of papers that were read to the Paris conference about schemes that were being put into effect in other parts of the world. They prove that my scheme is practicable. If other countries oan succeed, we can succeed, too. The report states -

Mr, Ahmed Bey (Egypt), speaking on that section of Paper 332, devoted to the transport of power from Minule to the White Nile near Malakal, said here was a clear case for H.V./D.C. underground cable transmission. The distance involved was approximately 650 kilometres (400 miles) and the power involved was 120,000 Kw - the present intentions were that a voltage of 150 kV between outers should be employed.

It then referred to the type of cable to be used and other technical subjects, and added -

Development of the large capacity high voltage rectifying plant was still lagging, and hu urged C.I.G.R.E. to come behind the call to the manufacturers.

That confirms my view that the chief obstacle to progress is the lack of technical development in rectifiers. The report also states -

Mr. Borgquist (Sweden) wished to make it clear to C.I.G.R.E. that Sweden was expediting construction of still larger experimental plant that has been operating between Trollhattan-Mallerud since 1946. The first step in the Swedish 1,000 kilometre transmission line from the extreme North to the South of the Country has had - for various economic reasons at present existing - to bo put into effect as a380kVA.C. overhead line.

The Swedish experts hope that the line can be extended to a length of 600 miles without loss of efficiency. Lord Forrester and Mr. F. J. Errol presented a paper dealing with the transmission of electricity from. Tasmania to the mainland of Australia. The report states -

Mention is made of this Paper here because it contains a proposal which may be of some interest to Tasmanian, South Australian and Victorian engineers. Of the four (4) major projects suggested therein as highly suitable to the application of H.V./D.C. transmission technique, one is devoted to a proposition of linking Tasmania with the mainland of Australia at a point where the relatively cheaper hydro-power could do much to develop a new or backward district. Quite apart from the general interest Australian engineers will feel in this suggestion by LordForrester it is felt the claim made in the Paper that Cablemakers can meet the duty imposed by high voltage D.C. working is some justification for the view expressed above.

The meaning of that passage may not. be very clear. In effect, Lord Forrester claimed that the cable-makers had perfected a cable capable of transmitting high voltage direct current over an almost unlimited distance. The paper then referred to the coal situation in South Australia, which I have already discussed. It added -

Any projected transmission across Bass Strait can best be studied under four main headings : -

The energy resources available in Tasmania and the future requirements of industry in that State.

The load in Australia; its probable growth and the existing or authorized schemes available to deal with it.

Thu method of transmission to be employed; type of terminal equipment and the design of the undersea cable.

The selection of a route and the laying and maintenance of the submarine cable.

The undertaking that I have in mind is of great magnitude. I believe that it would cost about £400,000,000 to complete, but it would be capable of supplying electrical energy to western Victoria and South Australia more cheaply than power could be supplied from coal-burning generating equipment. Furthermore, I can guarantee that it will give greater satisfaction than any other system could give. I ask the Government to give earnest consideration to the scheme. It should call a conference between representatives of the Commonwealth and the States of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania with a view to developing the almost unlimited hydro-electric resources of western Tasmania.

I was somewhat disappointed that the budget did not make provision for an increase of the age pension. I consider that the pension rate should be increased to at least £2 10s. a week. Tailing that, the Government should provide cheap homes for age pensioners. At any rate, I am pleased that it has made a start in that direction by providing for a group of homes for pensioners in Canberra. As a member of the National Planning and Development Committee, I know that the president of the committee, Mr. Moorehouse, has prepared a scheme that will give every satisfaction to the pensioners who will live in the new homes. I hope that, when that plan is in operation in Canberra, the Government will initiate similar projects in other parts of Australia through the Commonwealth and State housing scheme. The Minister for “Works and Housing (Mr. Lemmon) recently declared that men earning the basic wage should not be required to pay more than one-fifth of their income for home rent. I also read recently that an amount of about £60,000 had been made available to the States for the purpose of financing rental rebates, but I have not heard yet of any man receiving a rebate. I have a brother in Tasmania who fought for three years without success to secure a home for himself. He was unable to get a house because he was a pensioner. I consider that, if the age and invalid pension is to be allowed to remain at the present figure, even if only for the next twelve months, the Government should provide cheap homes for pensioners. I ask it to take action through the Commonwealth and State housing scheme to enable unfortunate pensioners who have not homes of their own to receive the benefit of rental rebates. I have a vivid recollection of going to the Albert Hall in Launceston in 1926 to hear a speech by the Prime Minister of the day, now Viscount Bruce. I recall with perfect clarity his declaration that the Government would deposit in the Commonwealth Bank an amount of £20,000,000 to be used for the building of homes. I distinctly remember him saying that, if every person in Australia had a home of his own, there would be an end to communism. I understand that £20,000,000 was placed in the Commonwealth Bank, but not one home was built with that money. The only house that

I know of that was built by an antiLabour government was an expensive residence for Mr. B. G. Casey in Canberra.

During the war and in the immediate post-war years, the Government has had to pay an annual bill of £1,000,000 for office rentals. Members of the Opposition describe themselves as statesmen of thepast, but apparently they could not even supply the Commonwealth with accommodation for its public servants. In thesmall State of Tasmania alone, the Government is committed to an annual expenditure of £13,000 for office rent. Therefore, I am glad that the Government contemplates the erection of Commonwealth offices in Hobart. Plans have been prepared also for a building to house theArbitration Court in Melbourne. The Government does not own the building, which the Arbitration Court occupies. At present, Commonwealth officers arehoused in a dungeon in Bourke-street. Now, however, the Government, in Melbourne alone, has approved plans for the construction of a new arbitration court, a tribo-physics laboratory at the university, a large sanatorium for sufferers from tuberculosis at McLeod, and telephoneexchanges at Russell, Barton, St. Kilda and City West as well as a new block of offices in Spring-street. Perhaps I can best illustrate the problem that confronts the Government in the provision of uptodate office accommodation by pointing out that anti-Labour governments, following World War I., erected a row of huts on the Esplanade, at Perth, to housethe staff of the Repatriation Department in that city. Those huts were erected on boggy ground and have always been damp and unhealthy. After 30 years,, they are still occupied by the Repatriation Department. Apparently that wasthe best that ani-Labour governments could do to meet the problem of providing accommodation for their own departments. This Government has produced plans for the construction of a new building for the Repatriation Department in Perth. In the sphere of housing, the Government has made available thesum of £48,000,000 under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement for the construction of homes. Under that agreement, up to last year 52,500 homes- had been completed, whilst construction had been commenced on another 60,000 homes, whereas the average rate of construction before the recent war was 27,000 homes a year. That fact reflects the keen interest that the Government is taking in the welfare of the people.

The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) has asked the Government to revive the all-party committee of ex-service members of the Parliament that reviewed the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act at the request of the late Mr. John Curtin when he was Prime Minister. I was an original member of that committee, and I know that the Opposition parties went to great pains in their endeavours to destroy it. I believe that ultimately the committee was disbanded largely as the result of the antagonism of the Opposition parties to it. However, that committee did a good job. Mr. Curtin actually liberalized repatriation benefits to a greater degree than the committee recommended. I repeat that that committee was not reconstituted because of the antagonism of the Opposition parties to it. During the recent war the Government revised the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act. It did so in order to ensure that Labour’s policy foi the repatriation and rehabilitation of members of the fighting services would be implemented effectively as soon as hostilities ceased. The provision that the Government has made for post-war hospitalization and medical services has been the subject of great praise by all sections of the community. Indeed,^ Labour’s critics have given up their attempts to find a weakness in its policy in that respect. The Government has thrown open repatriation hospitals to war widows and the widowed mothers of exservice personnel who can now obtain medical treatment as out-patients at those institutions. However, anti-Labour governments provided no in-patient treatment and only limited out-patient treatment for widows of ex-service personnel, and that treatment was made available only through friendly societies. In addition, the Government has extended full out-patient and in-patient treatment to widows of men who served in World War

  1. An outstanding improvement has been the granting of a higher rate of medical sustenance to ex-servicemen while they are in hospital. Before Labour assumed office, United Australia party governments provided to that class of pensioner only £2 2s. a week inclusive of pension. The present Government has raised that payment to £2 15s. a week, and in respect of married pensioners the payment has been increased in some instances to £6 6s. a week. The Government has increased the amount by approximately 150 per cent, in respect of single ex-servicemen and by over 200 per cent, in respect of married ex-servicemen.

One of the first acts of the present Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Barnard) was to widen the definition of “theatre of war “ in the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act in order to make eligible for repatriation benefits a considerable number of ex-servicemen who were previously denied such benefits. When exservicemen have to travel to obtain medical treatment and attention they are now paid a travelling allowance at double the rate previously provided, whilst funeral allowances to ex-servicemen have been increased by 25 per cent. Compared with the rates paid when Labour assumed office in 1941, war pensions are now much higher all round. For ex-servicemen who are able to engage in occupations and are classified as percentage pensioners, the base rate, generally known as the 100 per cent, rate, has been increased from £2 2s. a week to £2 15s. a week. The Government has increased by 33 per cent, the higher special rate of war pension known as the totally and permanently incapacitated rate, which is paid in respect of blind ex-servicemen or those suffering from tuberculosis and other forms of total incapacitation. In addition, it has raised by 60 per cent, the pension payable to ex-servicemen who suffer from tuberculosis but are capable of engaging in light employment. The rates of pensions for wives and children of special rate pensioners have also been considerably increased. Another outstanding improvement of repatriation benefits that has been effected by this Government has been the substantial increase of the rate of pension paid to ex-servicemen who become temporarily totally incapacitated. Before the Government assumed office service pensioners received only approximately 43 per cent, of the pension they now receive. That is another pension that has been doubled. Whereas prior to 1941 those classes of pensioners did not receive any additional pension if they were single, and only an additional fi a week if they were married, the Government has provided an additional pension in such cases of £2 10s. a week. The Government has cheerfully accepted its obligation to deal with the care of disabled ex-service personnel as a national responsibility. Its policy in that respect is most disconcerting to the Opposition parties who invariably claim that they are the champions of the ox-serviceman whereas in fact they cannot substantiate that claim. Recently, the representative of a prominent exservicemen’s organization stated -

Australia leads the world in its repatriation and rehabilitation plans and in the manner of their implementation. No other country has done so much for its ex-servicemen. For its magnificent achievement the Federal Labour Government can claim full credit. Its record unquestionably is unassailable and praiseworthy.

As I said earlier, I believe that the Government in this budget should have increased existing repatriation benefits as a whole, and I sincerely trust that it will make provision for such increases in the first budget that it introduces after the next general election or, better still, in a supplementary budget that can be introduced at any time. I also believe that the Government on this occasion should have increased still further the age and invalid pension. However, the people have the consolation of knowing that this Government is a humane government and will accept the first opportunity to increase those benefits.

Senator O’flaherty made some interesting remarks about the Commonwealth Bank. I believe that the bank is not expanding its activities in country areas as rapidly as it should. For instance, no branch of the bank has yet been established in many important country towns in Tasmania, such as, Smithtown, Ulverstone, Scotsdale, Wynyard, New Norfolk, Oaklands, and Deloraine. However, there are branches of at least five trading banks in each of those towns. I trust that the

Commonwealth Bank will extend its services as quickly as possible to all rural centres so that the advantages it can offer by way of housing loans and in the provision of other facilities can be made available to those communities. I conclude my speech by placing on record the words of that great writer, Jack London -

Not one ignoble thought or act is demanded of any one of all mon and women in the world to make fair the world. The call is for nobility of thinking, nobility of doing; the call is for service and such is the wholesomeness of it that he who serves all best serves himself.

Senator NASH:
Western Australia

– Since the Curtin Labour Government assumed office in October, 1941, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), in his capacity as Treasurer, has introduced what have been described as war budgets and post-war budgets. I believe that this budget is of a different nature, and can best he described as a security budget. In the course of debates in the

House of Representatives various descriptions have been applied to it. During the recent war the Labour Government took over the helm of the ship of state and with the full support of the people it has steered that ship through perilous times. After successfully prosecuting the war, Labour with equal success has faced the difficult problems of the post-war era. Now it can be said that the immediate post-war period has passed. Bearing in mind our present economic prosperity, of which full employment is a feature, it is not difficult to realize that a tremendous amount, of new capital has been introduced into this country. We also know that this Government is not desirous of having “ hot “ money brought into this country. It only wants capital for undertakings which will be of full value to our economy to be brought to Australia. There is no disputing that production in Australia to-day is greatly in excess of what it was before the war. In fact, it has expanded steadily year by year since this Government assumed office in 1941. That is when the real government of Australia actually commenced. Prior to that the national government was not greatly concerned about the welfare of this country. It is because of the tremendous activity of Labour since 1941 that such prosperous conditions exist to-day. During and since the war a sound economy has been maintained, despite constitutional difficulties and the efforts of people who are not associated with the Labour movement to upset this Government’s plans. It was unfortunate that the people voted against the Australian Government retaining power to control prices.

Senator Ashley:

– They were misled by the Opposition.

Senator NASH:

– That is so. They were also misled by the capitalist press of this country and by the capitalistic forces. Those people want quick profits and are not concerned about the welfare of the people of Australia generally. The States have been “ messing about “ since they took over the administration of prices control. They are continually holding conferences on the subject. When I was in Tasmania a few days ago, another of these recurring conferences by the price-fixing authorities was being held. Although I believe that their intentions are good, I cannot forget that the Government warned the people during the campaign prior to the referendum on rents and prices that if the Commonwealth lost control of price fixing, the States would not be able to control prices and prevent an increase in, the cost of living. That prediction has since been borne out. The Legislative Councils in some States are elected on a restricted franchise, and one State cannot legislate for another State in respect of the price -of commodities. Up to 1945 the increase of costs over the pre-war level was only about 23 per cent. The increase has increased to about 50 per cent., bearing in mind the purchasing value of money available to the people of this country. When speaking about war pensions, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cooper) pointed out that the relationship of war pensions to the basic wage had deteriorated since 1943. We know, of course, that the purchasing power of money is less now than previously. That is borne out by the fact that industrial organizations are seeking a £10 a week basic wage, because prices have skyrocketed since the Commonwealth relinquished prices control. The wages of the workers are always well behind costs. It takes them some time to catch up, and then prices start to skyrocket again. In my opinion the economy of this country has reached a stage when the vicious circle will continue to operate unless a method can be evolved whereby it can be ensured that products in general demand shall not be sold beyond certain prices. If we could accomplish that objective we could fix a wage commensurate with the stabilized cost of living. Although much is heard about socialism and its supposed dangers, it is a fact that during the war period, stability was maintained because of the powers that were vested in the Commonwealth under the National Security Regulations. We did not experience the fantastic rises in wages that have taken place in Australia since the referendum was defeated, because the Commonwealth was able to peg wages, interest, and other costs. Under the system now operating the inflationary spiral will be accentuated.

I do not think that the people of Australia will be so foolish as to replace this Government at the forthcoming general election, but irrespective of what government will control this country in the not far-distant future, so long as the individual States are responsible for maintaining the economy, the stabilization of that economy will be impossible of attainment.

A lot of criticism has been heard about petrol rationing. Although I believe that the decision of the High Court in respect to that matter was constitutionally correct, I incline to the opinion that the court did not pay sufficient regard to the effect of the cancellation of petrol rationing on the economy of this country. Furthermore, the person who thought he was very clever by approaching the High Court for a decision in this matter, was an Australian of the poorest possible type. He was guided only by a selfish motive. He was concerned about the welfare of this country no more than are other people in this country who want to make profits quickly. As a result of that decision petrol is not now rationed, and there has developed a. system of hoarding. We are told by the press that the principal offenders are primary producers. I do not know whether that is correct, hut I do know that without a system of rationing, no matter what the commodity in short supply may be, persons with means will purchase supplies of that commodity to the utmost degree possible, whilst other people in the community will have to go without. That would have been the situation in Australia during the war period in respect of foodstuffs had it not been for rationing. There is now no equitable distribution of petrol. Much to my regret there was a suggestion - and in this suggestion Opposition parties played a very large part - that there were unlimited supplies of petrol available from the sterling areas for importation into this country. We were told, also, that supplies of petrol could be obtained from sources behind the Iron Curtain. It was proved subsequently that those assertions were incorrect. I understand that Russia has refused to allow the export of petrol to Australia from the sources where it was claimed by the Opposition parties that supplies were available. Petrol is one of the life-streams of this nation, and the drain on the dollar pool of the British Commonwealth of Nations as a result of our imports of that commodity is not a myth. That drain has been accentuated because of the devaluation of sterling in relation to the dollar. It has been truly said that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. When I was travelling from the City of Melbourne to the aerodrome two days ago I saw a number of notices displayed outside motor garages. Several of them were worded : “ No petrol - quota sold “ ; “ No petrol - regular customers only “ ; “ Sorry. No petrol until further supplies “. When the Commonwealth administered petrol rationing in this country we never had a situation such as that. Everybody got his fair share of the available supplies according to the power of his vehicle or the need of the industry in which he was engaged. But to-day, because of greed or the desire of some people to make prints quickly, there is insufficient petrol available to meet the requirements of the people of this country. The State governments must accept responsibility for the present situation. Certain interests in this country have now stated publicly that they will not agree to accept petrol rationing unless they are supplied with certain confidential information. If the people want the present system, which permits such chaos as we are now experiencing in the distribution of petrol to continue, then they can vote against the present Government at the forthcoming election.

The Liberal party and the Australian Country party are now indulging in a great deal of advertising. I have in my hand a copy of a full-page advertisement that was inserted in the Melbourne Herald of the 30th September, and which must have cost at least £100. Underneath the insignia of the hammer and sickle it states -

Moving towards the Soviet State by simple socialist steps!

Socialization of airways.

Socialization of medical profession.

Socialization of shipping.

Socialization of banks.

Socialization of this and socialization of that, and so socialization of YOU.

What a magnificent effort! What a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts ! The advertisement also states that “A socialist victory is a Soviet victory “. The advertisement was inserted by the Liberal and Country parties and authorized by J. V. McConnell, 108 Queenstreet, Melbourne. All I hope is that in the hereafter Mr. McConnell will be forgiven for his sins of deliberate misrepresentation. Of course, the bogy of socialism has been used by our political friends opposite to frighten the people for a long time. By using that bogy the antiLabour parties endeavour to cloak the fact that they have no constructive programme to offer the people.

SenatorO’Sullivan. - The honorable senator signed the socialist plank of the Labour party platform.

Senator NASH:

– I shall tell the honorable senator something about that plank presently. For the moment I content myself with asking members of the Opposition whether, if their parties are returned to power, they will be prepared to dispose of public hospitals, public schools, war service homes, health services, housing schemes, water supply systems, railways, irrigation works, electrical power and light, weather bureaux, forestries, fire brigades or tramways. Of course, I could name many more enterprises conducted by the community for its own benefit. They are all “ socialist “ enterprises, irrespective of whether they are conducted by national or State governments or by municipal or other local government bodies. Would our friends opposite be prepared to dispose of them because they are socialist enterprises? Of course, such public undertakings as those I have mentioned are true examples of socialism, in contrast with the spurious examples contained in the propaganda of the antiLabour parties.

The anti-Labour parties are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds in an endeavour to influence the people to reject the present Government at the forthcoming election, notwithstanding that the majority of the people have believed for some time that Labour is the proper political party to control the destinies of this country.


was before Labour embraced socialism.

Senator NASH:

– Members of the Opposition do not relish the truth. They have been telling lies for so long that they cannot detect the truth now when they hear it. Senator O’sullivan referred a few moments ago to Labour’s “ socialist objective “. I am not ashamed of Labour’s objectives, and its so-called “socialist objective” has stood the test of time since 1921. I expressly declare my approval of Labour’s so-called “ socialist objective “ because that objective embodies the only progressive policy that can achieve anything for the Australian people. What is the “socialist objective “ about which we hear so much ? It is comprised in only a few words. They are -

Socialization of industry, production, distribution and exchange.

Our enemies have endeavoured to distort the meaning of those few words by reading into them a lot of fallacious propaganda. When that plank was inserted in the platform of the Australian Labour party in 1921, a declaration of policy was made at the same time.


– declaration was not incorporated in the “ socialist objective “.

Senator NASH:

– It is not necessary to incorporate a declaration in a decision.. That declaration stated that Labour proposed collective ownership for the purposeof preventing exploitation of the community. It also provided that whereverprivate ownership was exploitting the community it would be opposed by the party, but is expressly declared that Labour would not seek to abolish private ownership of the means of production, distribution or exchange where it was functioning in the interests of the community.


did not appear in the Labour party’s rule book until a few days ago.

Senator NASH:

– That is rot. The declaration has been available for perusal for the last 28 years.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - Order! Senator O’sullivan will have an opportunity to express his views when he speaks. He must not continue to interrupt Senator Nash, who has the floor.

Senator NASH:

– Opposition members do not like the truth, but I do not mind how often they interject. In to-day’s press there appeared the following statement: -

The federal executive of the Australian Labour party yesterday reaffirmed the 1921 declaration of the party on socialism.

The federal executive of the Australian Labour party has been meeting in Canberra during the last few days. It is the body that interprets the policy of the Labour party between the federal congresses. The executive, which contains representatives of each State of the Commonwealth, has reaffirmed the 1921 declaration that I have just read to the Senate. That declaration expresses Labour’s attitude, and I emphasize that that has always been Labour’s attitude. In fact, the Opposition parties have suddenly dug up the “ socialist objective “ and the declaration. They did not know that they existed until a few7 months ago.

The anti-Labour forces hope that a recital of its terms will frighten the electors at the forthcoming election. But the “ socialist objective “ is not new. It has been included in Labour’s platform for 28 years and the Labour movement sees no reason to change it now.

Labour has proved that it is just as capable of administering the country as is an administration of any other political complexion. Labour believes that the function of providing 80 per cent, of the requirements of the community is the responsibility of what is called “ private enterprise and that the Government should be responsible for providing the remaining 20 per cent. Such a policy is regarded as providing sound administration. When we review the achievements of Labour’s “ socialist “ administrations during the past eight years we ask ourselves, what has been the result for the people ? Have they suffered in any way ? Have they been deprived of any liberties ? We hear a great deal nowadays about the deprivation of liberty. I challenge the Opposition parties to show that any one has been deprived of his liberty because of the efforts made by the present Government to improve the lot of members of the community, notwithstanding that the Opposition has referred to those efforts as “ socialist experiments “. If socialism implies full employment, prosperity and a sound economy - something that Australia never enjoyed previously - then there is a great deal to be said for socialism. I prophesy that the anti-Labour parties will discover at the forthcoming election that the common sense of the people will be sufficient to protect them from accepting the spurious propaganda contained in the anti-Labour publicity. Personally, I have nothing but contempt for publicity such as that contained in the advertisement that I read to the Senate a few minutes ago. If that is all the Opposition parties have to offer the people, then I am sorry for the people of this country.

Senator WARD:
Minister for External Territories · SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

– That is all the antiLabour parties have to offer.

Senator NASH:

– That is so. I notice that they are not prepared to furnish details of their own accomplishments, or to give particulars of their many failures, during their term of office. They do not come out and tell the people now that they let us down during the war.

Senator COOPER:

– That is entirely wrong.

Senator NASH:

– That is not entirely wrong; on the contrary, it is entirely correct. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to endeavour now to gloss over the unpleasant fact that I have just mentioned.

Senator Cooper:

– I know what the former Prime Minister, the late John Curtin, said about our administration of the country during the early years of the war.

Senator NASH:

– Honorable senators opposite think that the public have forgotten the facts, but they will find that the public have not forgotten them. The people remember that when Labour assumed office in 1941 it did so because of the ineptitude of the political parties that are at present in Opposition. Those parties failed to govern the country. They were riddled with internecine strife, backstabbing and other disruptive influences. What effort has any anti-Labour government ever made to improve the social conditions of our people? What has any anti-Labour administration ever achieved? The best that they could do to provide social services for the people of this country in 1938-39 was to appropriate approximately £16,000,000. That was regarded as a tremendous effort, but they were so concerned about the prospect of expending such huge sums that they introduced a national insurance scheme. We have heard a lot from honorable senators opposite about the merits of contributory social services schemes; but significantly enough, the contributory scheme enacted in 1939 provided for a pension payment less than that paid, free from any contribution, when Labour assumed office in 1941. Age and invalid pensioners were to receive less than £1 a week. That is on record. In return for benefits on that miserable scale, wage-earners were to contribute ls. 6d. a week. However, after spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on the preparation of the scheme, and finally securing its passage through the Parliament, the then Government ignominiously threw the proposal overboard. I remember well the glowing tributes that were paid by members of the present Opposition parties to the Beveridge social security plan in Great Britain, which was similar to the national insurance scheme proposed for this country. The Labour party was opposed to the national insurance scheme. We said that we would provide social services for the people financed by a tax levied in accordance with the ability of people to pay. We would not support any proposal to take ls. 6d. a week from a lad who might be earning only 15s. a week as an apprentice in industry. AntiLabour administrations failed this country in time of war, and when I say that, I am letting them down lightly. Before the war, they made no effort to improve social conditions in Australia.

This Government has already made gifts totalling £35,000,000 to the United Kingdom. A further £10,000,000 is provided in the current budget for this purpose. We are told by the Opposition parties that Great Britain’s economy is unstable because a socialist Labour government occupies the treasury bench in that country. It is said that the British Government has socialized the coal-mining industry and the railways. No mention is made of the fact that, during the war, Britain was forced to relinquish its overseas investments to provide funds for war purposes. When the end of the war came, the British people decided that despite the accomplishments of their war-time hero, Mr. Churchill, upon whom I do not wish to cast any aspersions, they had had enough of Conservative governments, and they returned a Labour government to office.


– A socialist government.

Senator NASH:

– The honorable senator is like a bird which has been taught a word and will not stop saying it. The Labour Government in the United Kingdom has done a magnificent job, and any one who has any sense of fairness or decency will not hesitate to admit that its economic difficulties have been enormous. I do not ask anybody to take my word for that. On the 29th August. 1949, at Washington, Mr. Paul Hoffman, the administrator of the Marshall aid plan, denied that socialism was delaying Great Britain’s economic recovery. H<; admitted that the coal-mining industry, the railways and, mark you, the Bank of England, had been nationalized, but he said -

When you get down to cases, nothing the British Government has done has yet effected the recovery programme.

I ask honorable senators to note the significance of the next few words, particularly in view of the efforts of the private banks in this country to defeat Labour at the forthcoming general election. Mr. Hoffman said -


That is the British Government - nationalized the Bank of England and nobody knew the difference.

Labour’s political opponents claim that the nationalization of the banks in this country would mean that depositors would lose their savings. That is a deliberate untruth. It will not bear investigation, but, of course, anything is goods enough to put over the people of this country if honorable senators opposite can get away with it. However, I am afraid that they will not get away with the ideas that are in their minds at present. This Government did endeavour to nationalize the private banks in this country, not in the interests of the Government itself or of the Labour movement, but in the interests of the people as a whole. I challenge any honorable senator opposite to deny that. The Government’s aim was to protect the people; to obviate the possibility of another depression; to assume control, through the medium of the Commonwealth Bank, of the national credit, so that exploitation by the wealthy could be prevented ; and to ensure that credit would not be restricted when it should be expanded. Everyone knows, although, of course, honorable senators opposite will not admit it, that, during the depression years, the restriction of credit by the private banks threw 300,000 people out of employment, and forced hundreds of men and women off the land. Let us be honest and tell the people the truth. I am tired of listening to the misstatemerits of members of the Opposition parties. Why was it necessary for the Labour Government to endeavour to nationalize the hanks of this country! Was it not because the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) made the definite assertion, prior to the 1946 elections, that if the Opposition parties were returned to office, one of their first acts would be to restore the Commonwealth Bank Board? That was why the Government realized the necessity to endeavour to nationalize the private banks. The Commonwealth Bank Board was established under legislation passed by the Bruce-Page Government. It was subject entirely to the dictates of private banking interests in this country.

Senator O’Flaherty gave the Senate some very illuminating figures to-night. He pointed out that the Commonwealth Bank had made a worthwhile profit in 1948-49. I think he said that the total profit had been £6,000,000, and that the Note Issue Department had made a profit of £4,000,000. All that money will go back to the people of this country, and that is why the private banks are so keen to defeat the Labour Government. They believe that if the activities of the Commonwealth Bank can be restricted, their own profits will be increased. The Australian people are being constantly told of the dangers of a nationalized banking system, but after all, the Bank of England has been nationalized without any ill-effects. Are the people of this country aware that the Bank of England controls the policy of ‘the private banking institutions of Great Britain? It would be interesting to know how much money the Australian private banks have appropriated from their shareholders’ funds to finance their anti-Labour campaign. I do not think that such expenditure can possibly be regarded as legitimate. Still the banks are able to get away with that sort of thing because they control the press and the radio, whereas the Labour movement has to endeavour to circulate information by word of mouth. However, we tell the people the truth.


must be difficult. v Senator NASH. - No, unlike the Opposition parties when they had to relinquish the reins of office in 1941, we have nothing to hide. The controversy over nationalization of banking in this country has produced an organization known as the Bank Employees’ Anti-Socialist Movement. Quite a mouthful ! There is a branch in Western Australia.

Senator Cooper:

– That must hurt.

Senator NASH:

– Not in the least. Paid employees of the banks are engaged on work that cannot be regarded as legitimate banking business. They are going round to business firms and talking with directors, and they are seeking permission to address employees in workshops and factories to state the case of vested interests on the banking issue, in the hope that, by their mendacious propaganda, they will influence the people against Labour. That organization has published a series of pamphlets. Number 9 of the series deals with bank nationalization. That may be legitimate. But Number 10, which was issued in September, contains the following statements under the heading, “ Socialism and Social Services “ : -

An idea seems to have developed in the minds of some people that the Socialists are the only ones who believe in the provision of social services for the people. Indeed, fears have been expressed that, unless a Socialist Government controls Australia, the social services which the community to-day enjoys will all disappear, or at least be substantially reduced.

This idea, is, of course, completely wrong, but it is cultivated by the Socialists in their efforts to frighten the people into voting for Socialist can idates at the forthcoming Federal election.

Australia’s political history shows that several-

I ask honorable senators to notice particularly the word “ several “ - of the big advances in the realm of social services for tho people have been made by governments which could never, by any stretch of imagination, be regarded as socialistically inclined. Two such social services are the old age pensions and the child endowment.

The movement is supposed to be a nonpolitical organization that is opposed to anybody who tries to interfere with the vested interests of private banking in Australia. Would anybody suggest that the statements on socialism and social services that I have quoted relate strictly to the proclaimed aspirations of that organization? The fact is that the publication of the article was a direct invasion of the field of politics the object of which was to bring about the defeat of this Government. I remind such people that antiLabour governments could raise only £16,000,000 in 1940-41 for old-age pensions and maternity allowances-

Senator COOPER:

– Inflation had not occurred then.

Senator NASH:

– I am talking of the year 1940-41, not of the present. I ask the honorable senator to concentrate on the relevant date. Does he deny that the government of that period could raise only approximately £16,000,000 for old-age pensions and maternity allowances ? This Government is finding over £80,000,000 annually for social services, which cover a much wider field than was covered in 1940-41.

The Bank Employees Anti-Socialization Movement claims that an anti-Labour government introduced child endowment. It is true that a non-Labour government introduced the scheme, but it did not pay one penny piece in child endowment because the responsibility for the administration of the scheme fell upon the Labour Government that came into office in 1941. In any case, why did the anti-Labour Government introduce child endowment at that time? The answer is that it knew that, unless it did something of the sort, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court would provide for the requirements of the married men of this country and industry would be required to bear the cost of a higher basic wage. That is the only reason why that government was so laudably inclined to make child endowment available. But it did not extend endowment to the first child in each family, although members of the Opposition now declare that the Government should take that step. Child endowment was the baby of an anti-Labour government. Why did not that Government provide in the original legislation for the payment of endowment in respect of every child under the age of sixteen years ? We who have some knowledge of economics know that, if a government interfered with the basic wage by providing child endowment for the first child of every family, the method of computation of the basic wage would be upset to such a degree that the wage-earning power of the workers would be considerably reduced.


– And the employers would save a tremendous amount of .money.

Senator NASH:

– That is true. Let us look at the facts fairly and squarely. I have quoted from the pamphlet dealing with socialism and social services in order to expose the hypocrisy of the organization which describes itself as the Bank Employees Anti-Socialization Movement. As Senator O’Flaherty said earlier to-day, the bank employees not very long ago asked members of the Labour movement to negotiate with the private banks in order to obtain foi :hem a decent standard of living. They had to rely upon somebody associated with the industrial movement of the Australian Labour party to make the private banks pay reasonable wages and salaries to their employees.

To-day, because of the economic power that the banks wield, the employees are afraid to stand up against the dictates of those people, who want this Government to be defeated. I am convinced that my assertion is truthful, because J. know of the treatment that has been meted out to a person who is employed in a>. private bank. Because of the views that this man expressed about the AntiSocialization Movement, preferment was: denied to him. Another employee; received preferment instead, although in all probability, his attainments were not so great as those of the person who had the courage to defend his right to freedom of thought. We hear a great deal about freedom of thought and action from members of the Opposition. They say that the Labour party wants to destroy freedom and to interfere with the rights of the individual.

Senator COOPER:

– That is true, is it not?

Senator NASH:

– It is not true, and the honorable senator knows that it is not true. The truth is that the so-called freedom which the honorable senator and his colleagues advocate consists of freedom for certain interests to exploit the people. Such exploitation has been known throughout history and was practised in Australia for many years.

This is the only Government that has had the courage to legislate in the interests of the people in a way that members of the. Opposition dub as socialization. If the Government’s enactments represent socialization, then I am proud to be associated with socialization. This is the only Government that has ever done anything really worthwhile in the interests of the Australian people. The tactics employed by the Liberal party for the purpose of defeating the Government are well illustrated by an incident that has been described to me in a letter. I do not propose to give the name of the writer or the names of the persons referred to in the letter.

Senator O’sullivan:

– Was the letter written by the honorable senator’s secretary ?

Senator NASH:

– No. I am not in the habit of committing such contemptible practices, even if Senator O’sullivan might do so.

Senator O’Sullivan:

– If the honorable senator is not prepared to say who wrote the letter, he should not read it.

Senator NASH:

– It is a legitimate letter and has been signed by the writer, who states that I may make use of its contents if necessary. I propose to do so. It was written on the 30th September. It states -

Last Sunday afternoon two lads called at our place to see my son. After about a half hour session he caine inside with an application card for my daughter to sign to join the Young Liberal League or something of the sort. My son had already signed his. I promptly tore up the daughter’s and read the Riot Act to my son. I told him that when he turned 21 he could join anything he liked, but until then he would be subject to my direction.

They are putting it over as a social and recreation club and nothing to do with politics. I told my son that if they formed a debating society and gave both sides the opportunity of putting a case I would not mind, but he is not going to have all sorts of cockeyed beliefs shoved down his neck if I can help it.

The part that got under my skin was their approaching young people to join a political organization without putting it to their parents first.

I agree with everything that the writer has stated. What right has any political party to send .representatives to ask minors to join its ranks without reference to their parents?

Senator O’BYRNE:

– Hitler would have done that.

Senator NASH:

– It is typical Hitlerism. That is the sort of thing that is done by the party which professes to be so concerned about the freedom and general welfare of the people of Australia.

During the last financial year, the Government met all expenditure, with the exception of approximately £48,000,000 that was advanced to the States for Lousing, from revenue. In addition, it set aside substantial sums for . the National Welfare Fund and the War

Gratuity Reserve. That was a great achievement.

Senator Cooper:

– How could the Government fail, when it took 40 per cent, of the national income for its own purposes ?

Senator NASH:

– Despite the honorable senator’s interjection I consider that it was a great achievement and it was accomplished to the chagrin of the Opposition parties. [Extension of time granted.’] It was a great achievement considering the enormous range of the Government’s activities, which now cover a wide field of social services, the reestablishment of ex-service men and women and many other creditable undertakings. It is especially commendable when one realizes that, in 1944-45, the last complete financial year of the war period, revenue fell short of expenditure by £266,000,000. The overtaking of that lag was a great achievement in itself. But, in the four years since 1945, tax reductions equivalent to an amount of £280.000.000- per annum on .present income levels have been made. In spite of this splendid record of tax reduction, members of the Opposition frequently talk about crippling taxation killing incentive. That claim is not borne out by the facts. Yet, members of the Opposition parties contend that greater reductions of taxes could have been made. Listening to their statements one might be led to believe that the Government has not reduced taxes at all. 1 9hall give the facts. Since January, 1946, the Government has reduced direct taxes on five occasions as follows, the aggregate reductions amounting to £133~000,000 : -

I emphasize that the above amounts are reductions of taxes on incomes derived from personal exertion and also reductions of social services contributions. They also show that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has honoured his promise to the people to reduce taxes as circumstances permitted. The following table shows how taxpayers in various ranges of income have benefited from those reductions : -

Whilst taxpayers with an income of £15,000 are still heavily taxed it is clear from the above figures that they have received corresponding benefits from the reductions that have been made. In each instance taxpayers with an income of £15,000 retain a substantial net amount after tax has been paid. I also point out that a taxpayer with a dependent wife and two children with an income of £400, who now pays tax amounting to £5, receives the sum of £26 annually in the form of child endowment. Reductions of taxes since 1942 represent a cost to the Government’s revenues of £176,210,000. Therefore, the claim of the Opposition parties that the Government has not given substantial reductions of taxes cannot be substantiated. Since 1945 the Government has expended £188,000,000 in respect of repatriation and re-establishment of ex-service personnel. Senator- Lamp dealt with repatriation benefits in detail. During the twelve months ended the 30th June last, over 40,000 ex-service personnel were treated as in-patients and 75,000 as out-patients in repatriation hospitals. Therefore, the Government, has done an excellent job in the interests of ex-service personnel, and the same observation applies to its treatment of war widows and their families. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet a representative of the British Government when he visited this country for the purpose of studying our repatriation legislation. He told me that in his opinion Australia was treating its exservice personnel far too generously. Yet, honorable senators opposite contend that the Government is not doing sufficient for them. The record of anti-Labour governments after World War I. will not bear comparison with this Government’s record in that respect. I realize that the cost of living is continually rising. On previous occasions I have given the reasons for that trend. However, whilst I believe that additional existing repatriation benefits should be increased in order to offset rising prices, the present Government has done more than has the government of any other country in the provision of repatriation benefits. I need only point out that it is expending £25,000,000 a year under that heading. That figure is, indeed, generous, and its magnitude can be better appreciated when we remember that it was not exceeded by the total of budgets introduced in this Parliament not very many years ago. I recall that the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Menzies), when he was Treasurer just before the outbreak of the recent war, introduced the first budget in the history of this country to exceed £100,000,000, and on that occasion he said that he was in the unhappy position of having to introduce so large a budget. The present Government is not unhappy in budgeting for an expenditure of £544,000,000 in the current financial year because it realizes that the increased expenditure is due to the unprecedented extension of industry in this country. Of the estimated expenditure of £544,000,000, the sum of £100,425,000 will be expended on social services benefits, and the sum of £59,962,000 will be expended on defence requirements. Just prior to the outbreak of the recent war, when it was clear to every intelligent person from the existing international situation that a world conflict was very probable, the anti-Labour Government of the day provided only approximately £11,000,000 for defence requirements. I emphasize that whilst the budget is of astronomical proportions, the fact remains that the bulk of the proposed expenditure will be incurred in the interests of the great majority of the people and not merely for the benefit of the privileged few.

Western Australia

– I should like to congratulate the Prime Minister and Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) for bringing down the wonderful budget that is now being debated. Although Commonwealth budgets are growing larger year by year it must be remembered that all phases of governmental activity are being expanded. The Treasurer has established a record for the number of successive budgets that he has brought down, each larger and more extensive in every way than that for the preceding year. As Senator Nash has said, when the Commonwealth budget reached £100,000,000 every one thought that that was a very big budget. Now, however, it has reached almost £600,000,000. The Treasurer is now recognized to be the fairest and best Treasurer that this country has ever had. He budgets for the good of all of the people, not merely a chosen few. It is worthy of mention that the London Times has praised the Treasurer for introducing this budget. As honorable senators are aware, praise by such a conservative newspaper is proof positive of the high regard in which the Treasurer is held. It is generally conceded that this budget makes adequate provision for the security of the people of this country. . It is very necessary that the people should be informed of these provisions, because the representatives of political parties sitting in opposition in this chamber have been going from house to house proclaiming that this socialist Government intends to socialize all industry. I assure the people of this country that that is not true, and that so long as Labour remains in power, their lives and the economy of this country will be secure. I hope that Labour will remain in office for many years to come because it caters for all of the people all of the time.

During a debate in the House of Representatives several days ago, derogatory remarks were passed by members of the Opposition about Mr. Makin, Australian Ambassador to the United States of America. I regretted personally that he was selected for an overseas appointment, because he was one of the best Ministers ever to have graced this Parliament. One of the honorable members sitting in opposition in the House of Representatives who claimed that Mr. Makin was not capable of doing his job efficiently is not fit to clean Mr. Makin’s boots. As many honorable senators are aware, Mr. Makin is an honest, goodliving man of the highest integrity. As I have said on previous occasions, I believe that if a man does a good job he should be praised while he is alive. That encourages him to do an even better job. In many instances good men have passed on without receiving their just praise. Glowing tributes have then been paid to them. But of what avail is it if they cannot hear those eulogies? The Australian Labour party Has been successful because its members do not hesitate to give praise when it is due. During my younger years I was secretary of a friendly society in Western Australia.. Although I had. some “ hard customers “ to deal with I was always very fair to them, and subsequently my efforts were the subject of praise, which spurred me on to greater efforts. The Ministers in this chamber are doing wonderful jobs and rendering sterling service to the Prime Minister. As honorable senators know, in addition to their own portfolios those Ministers also represent Ministers in the House of Representatives.

The enthusiasm and ability of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Riordan) is apparent when one compares post-war expenditure in connexion with the

Royal Australian Navy with expenditure prior to the war. In the three ‘ years immediately -preceding the warexpenditure was; ‘1936-37, £3,161,346; 1937-38, £2,828,467; and 1938-39, £4,696,081. The expenditure in the three post-war years .has been: 1946- 47, £22,149,44«; 1947-48, £18,373,201; and 1948-49, £20,512,904. For 1949-50 the proposed .vote is £19,188,000. This is convincing proof to the people of this country of what tie Government is doing to safeguard Australia. In days gone by I have heard members of Opposition parties in another place contend that Australia did not need naval vessels or aircraft, so long as we had military strength. That occurred “during the Prime Ministership of the late John Curtin.. When die right honorable gentleman said thai Australia should acquire additional aircraft he was scorned by the Opposition. However it was subsequently proved that that was a real necessity. This Government has advanced still further , by acquiring not only aircraft carriers for the Navy, but also modern equipment for the Royal Australian Air Force. In addition the living conditions of personnel of the Royal Australian Navy are being reviewed constantly in order to ensure that they will be the most favorable possible.

The opponents of Labour have -claimed that this Government is strangling private enterprise. That that is ludicrous is evidenced by the fact that since Labour has been in office the reserves of thirteen large companies in this country have been increased by more than £9,000,000.

Much has been said by honorable senators opposite about the necessity for reducing income tax. During the election campaign in 1946, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives promised the people that if the Liberal party was elected to office income tax would be reduced by 40 per cent, over a period of three years. It is interesting to review Labour’s record in this connexion. The taxation imposed on a married man with dependent wife in receipt of various incomes, has been reduced as follows : Income of - £400 a year, 87 per cent.; £600, 75 per cent.; £800, 65’ per cent. ; £1,000, 61 per cent. ; £1,500, 53 per cent. Even the strongest opponents of Labour could not claim that these reductions are not substantial. Furthermore, -sweeping cuts have been made in indirect taxation, whilst there have been reductions in sales and entertainments taxes, as well as customs, excise, and primage. In its leading article on the 8th September, the Argus stated - It is a good .budget ; an l.c.l. budget. Upon inquiry I found that the abbreviation. “ L.C.L.” meant lower cost of living. It is indeed gratifying that that newspaper should consider that Labour is doing a good job. There is no doubt that tikis budget discloses a big improvement in the Australian economy. Based on present income levels, the taxation reductions already granted would be valued at £280,000,000 a year. The Bum of £108,000,000 has been provided for the repatriation and re-establishment of ex-service men and women, whilst £184,000,000 will be appropriated for interest and sinking fund deposits on debts incurred as a result of the recent war. Gifts already made to the United Kingdom total £8’5,000,000 whilst £30,000,000 has been contributed by Australia towards the relief of people distressed as a result of the war. Subsidies amounting to £132,000,000 have been paid in order to assist the primary producers of ‘ this country, in an effort to keep the cost of living at a reasonable level. It is easy for honorable senators to imagine what would have been the position in this country to-day if those subsidies had not been paid. I cannot recollect subsidies being paid in connexion with any industry when I Was a member of the State Parliament in Western Australia some years ago. It is not likely that the primary producers who have been so assisted will forget the good work; that has been done by this Government.

I remind the -Senate that expenditure, on social services has risen- from £39,000,000 a year to £81,000,000 in 1948-49, whilst the proposed expenditure under this heading in’ 1949-50 is estimated at £100,000,000. As Senator Nash has already explained fully the provisions, that have been made by this Government for the payment of age and invalid pensions, unemployment and sickness benefits, child endowment and other social services, I shall not deal at length with them. However, it is worthy of mention that maternity allowances have been increased considerably. “When the maternity allowance was only £5, a means test was applied. If the wage-earner was in receipt of income above a specified amount that allowance was not paid. It is indeed unfortunate that nurses and doctors have increased their fees so considerably.

It cannot be gainsaid that Labour has provided this country with a strong and stable economy. Healthy credit balances overseas have replaced the crushing burden of debt and interest payments that were piled up by anti-Labour governments between the two world wars. General prosperity has replaced the wholesale unemployment and social distress of those unhappy years. We are all well aware of the money that has been ear-marked for that purpose. All our secondary industries have expanded, and considerable improvements have been effected in industry generally. Factories that have been established in Australia by many overseas concerns have also expanded. In this connexion it is worthy of mention that new projects which have involved an expenditure of £100,000,000 are now firmly established in this country. According to press reports many more overseas companies also desire to establish branches in Australia. In Western Australia many factories that have been established during the last few years are expanding slowly but surely. I consider that we should extend every encouragement to overseas manufacturers to establish factories in this country. I ask leave to continue my remarks. Leave granted; debate adjourned.

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Motion (by Senator Ashley) agreed to -

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

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The following papers were pre sented : -

Commonwealth Public Service Act- Appointments Department -

Postmaster-General’s -G. H. Adams, S. R, Bickerdike, E.G. C. Boraston, K.G Dwyer,C Fierman,G. Freer,

Henderson, J. K. Home, D. A A. Jose, J. A. Lang, G. F. Lennard, I. E. Pengelly, R. F. Purves, J. H. Sharpe. C. E. C. Skuse, W. Thompson.

Treasury- S. R. P. Allen-Rand.

Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Commonwealth office accommodation purposes - Sydney, New South Wales.

Defence purposes - Nowra, New South Wales.

Postal purposes - Concord South, New South Wales.

Senate adjourned at 10.58 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 October 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.