19th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Eon. Gordon Brown) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Now that the Government has abolished the rationing cf petrol, a commodity that is used by only one section of the community, can the Minister for Trade and Customs say what are the prospects of the early abolition of the rationing of butter, a food that is used in every household?
– Butter rationing cannot be placed in the same category as petrol rationing. The derationing of petrol affected only our own economy. The abolition of butter rationing could affect the already poor food standard of the people of the United Kingdom. Butter rationing will be kept continually under observation, hut a vital consideration will always be the effect that its abolition would have on the food standard of the British working people.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Fuel whether it is true that the ships Dalby and Eugowra are to be taken from the Bass Strait service and placed on the New South “Wales and Queensland route?
– I understand that any ships that are taken out of service for repairs ai-e replaced by others. I am not familiar with the circumstances surrounding the use of the two vessels that the honorable senator has mentioned, but if he will place his question on the notice-paper T shall obtain a prompt reply for him.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel have some investigation made so that the port of Busselton in Western Australia shall receive the service ‘ of some of the “ River “ class ships during certain periods of the year? During several months of the year the port is inadequately serviced by ships. In view of the Government’s policy of decentralization, which it inherited from the previous Government, I hope that the Minister will make an examination of the port and of matters concerning the loading of ships there as well as the possibility of having “ River “ class vessels service the port?
– I shall be pleased to make the requested examination. I hope I shall be able to visit Western Australia as soon as possible in order to make a thorough examination of shipping problems there.
– Will the Minister for Social Services say whether a sum of money has been allocated by the Australian Government for the establishment of a housekeeper service? If it has, will he inform the Senate whether any of the money has been paid to the State governments? If it has been paid, to which State governments has it been paid and what are the sums involved ? In what way is the money to be used when it is allocated? Will it be used to assist existing organizations that are doing this kind of work?
– A sum of £15,000 was provided in the last two budgets for the establishment of a domestic help service or a housekeeper service, but it has not yet been found practicable to establish the service. If my recollection is right, the ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, communicated to all State governments a proposal for the inauguration of a housekeeper service, but no finality has been reached as a result of that correspondence. I believe that it was proposed that, the money should be utilized to subsidize or augment work that is at present being undertaken in this field by voluntary organizations. I am unable to say offhand what amount of money was allocated to each State. The money that has been disbursed has been allocated upon a formula based upon the size of the population of the States. I have made preliminary investigation of the papers relating to the proposed scheme. I believe that it has considerable merit, but I doubt whether it can be implemented in its present form. In my opinion, to establish an effective housekeeper service would require an appropriation of more than £15,000.
– I should like to address a question to the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate through you, Mr. President. My question relates to the statements that have appeared in the press in relation to Mr. Strachey, who was previously Minister for Food in Great Britain, and is now Minister for the Army in that country. In view of the disastrous statements made by the United Kingdom Government of the effects that Fuchs, who was apparently covered by some very prominent member-
– I rise to order. I should like to know if the honorable senator is in order addressing a question to the Leader of the Opposition, through YOU, Mr. President?
– My impression was that the honorable senator was addressing a question through me to the Leader of the Opposition. It is not in order for him to do that unless the question relates to business on the notice-paper.
– “Will the Minister for Social Services inform the Senate whether the successful scheme that was inaugurated in Tasmania by the State Government to assist housewives in need is being financed by the Commonwealth?
– So f,ar as I am aware, the Commonwealth is neither financing nor assisting to finance any housekeeping or domestic help service in Tasmania. My recollection of the correspondence in this matter is that when the Commonwealth approached the Tasmanian Government about this matter that Government replied that it would be interested in such a proposal provided that in some way the money was utilized to develop the work that the Red Cross was already doing in that sphere of activity.
– In view of the growing importance of the home in the community, and the manner in which matters such as the prices of commodities have been handled - which has a direct bearing on the efficiency and happiness of the home - will the Minister for Trade and Customs request the Cabinet to consider establishing a Ministry of Housekeeping? Such ministries have been conspicuously successful in both Denmark and Sweden.
– The Government recognizes fully that the basis of every well-conducted and happy country is the home. No country can be great, happy, or successful for very long unless it recognizes that the home is the basic unit of a nation. As this question raises very interesting issues I should be pleased if the honorable senator would place it on the notice-paper in order that it may be considered fully.
– On the 23rd February, Senator O’Flaherty asked me a question relating to the publication of a listener’s guide on Parliament for the public. I have been informed by the news editor of the Melbourne Herald, which produced the previous listener’s guide, that following many requests from members of Parliament and the public, the proprietors of that newspaper are putting in hand immediately the preparation of a new Listener’s Guide to Canberra. It may carry a different title, but it will contain biographies of all members of the Parliament and all other features of the last issue.
– I ask’ the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is a fact that licences will not be issued for the importation of laundry machinery, including spare parts for existing equipment, from dollar sources? Is the Minister aware that the lack of services offered by laundries is partly caused by a shortage of modern machinery obtainable in the United States of America? Will he consider the importation of such equipment, the prohibition of which is causing considerable hardship to the womenfolk of Australia and could have a serious effect on the health of the community?
– The Government is very conscious of the difficult circumstances which face the womenfolk of Australia and is eager to do all in its power to remove that drudgery. Import licences are not granted for such things as washing machines if they are available from Britain or other easy currency countries. However, import licences will readily be granted for replacements of existing machines. If the honorable senator has knowledge of any difficulty in this connexion I should he very happy to seek an explanation and supply it to her if she would give me details.
– In view of the strong advocacy during the recent election campaign of the establishment of an efficient and profitable cotton-growing industry, by candidates supporting the present Government, will the Minister for Trade and Customs indicate whether the Government proposes to take steps at an early date to establish this important industry on an economic basis?
– I am glad to know that the honorable senator is so interested in cotton. I remember that when he was Minister for Trade and Customs in the previous Government I commended the case for the cotton industry to his sympathetic consideration. I am examining the matter to which he has referred. There are a number of elements and items to be taken into consideration, in connexion with it, but I assure the honorable senator that the interests of the cotton industry in Queensland are being well guarded by the present Government. When I am in a position to provide him with further information in reply to his question, I shall be happy to do so.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel say whether the number of staff engaged in work connected with petrol rationing was, as I have heard, 716? Can he inform me how many of that number were permanent employees and how many were temporary employees ?
– That question has been asked in several places before and I have had the necessary information prepared for me. The total number of staff employed in connexion with petrol rationing was 716, of whom 598 were temporary employees and 118 permanent employees. Of that number of permanent employees, six were Commonwealth public servants and 112 were State public servants. I am advised that a number of the employees have returned to State departments, and that they have been able to relieve temporary employees engaged there. Some of the temporary employees have returned to employment in private enterprise where their services are so urgently required.
– Will the Minister for Shipping and Fuel make a statement to the Senate giving details of the petrol quotas granted to petrol companies on a State basis before and after petrol rationing was abolished?
– The percentage quotas of petrol that were allocated before rationing was abolished have been continued since the abolition of rationing.
– Will the Minister say how many persons who were formerly employed directly upon the administration of petrol rationing were transferred to State public services, how many were retained in the Common wealth Public Service, and how many have not been absorbed into either the Commonwealth Public Service or the public service of a State?
– I have already given that information to the Senate. Six permanent officers of the Commonwealth were transferred to other employment in the Commonwealth Public Service, and 58 permanent officers of State public services were transferred to other employment in those services. I understand that the other officers who were engaged upon the administration of petrol rationing have been absorbed by private enterprise.
– My information is that only a very small number of those officers have been absorbed by private enterprise.
– That is not so.
– Will the Minister inform the Senate how many of the temporary officers who were engaged to administer petrol rationing have been retained in the Commonwealth Public Service ?
– I cannot supply that information now, and I cannot agree to put the officers of my department to the trouble of obtaining it. They have more important work to do than that.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral any information to impart to the Senate on the subject of superannuated public servants who were reemployed in government departments during the war period?
– On .the 23rd February, the honorable senator asked, me whether I would undertake to reconstitute the committee that was appointed by the previous Government to examine the claims of such superannuated officers. As the matter fell within the jurisdiction of the Treasurer, the matter was referred to the Treasury for advice. I am now advised by the Treasury that the question of the conditions under which maximum age pensioners under the Superannuation Act, who are re-employed by the Commonwealth after their retirement, are. to be permitted to receive their pensions was under consideration by the previous
Government when the last Parliament was dissolved. Consideration of the question involves matters of government policy and these are now being closely examined by the present Government.
– I direct a series of questions to the Minister for Shipping and Fuel as follows : - 1. Is it a fact .that the Minister has held conferences with the colliery proprietors and the Joint Coal Board on the Government’s plan for the coal-mining industry, while ignoring the mine-workers in connexion with the matter? 2. Can we regard that action as a sample of the Government’s policy, as announced by the Minister for Social Services, of fair play for both sides of the industry? 3. Will the Minister inform the Senate what proposals were submitted by him to the colliery proprietors and how they will increase the production of coal ? 4. Is it a fact .that the proposals being discussed with the colliery proprietors include Commonwealth legislation, dealing with the mechanical extraction of pillars, that would cut across State legislation governing the safety of mine-workers? 5. Is it a fact that industrial unrest is threatened in New South Wales coal mines over the action of the colliery proprietors in seeking to interfere wi th mine-workers’ holiday awards, and that the Joint Coal Board has supported the move despite the existence of an agreement among the Federal and State governments, the Joint Coal Board and the miners’ federation, that such applications would not be made without prior discussion by the parties to the agreement?
– I do not propose to answer offhand all of the questions that the honorable senator has asked. It is untrue to say that I met the representatives of colliery proprietors before meeting the representatives of the miners. Indeed, I reversed that order, and first met the representatives of the coal-miners and shale-miners. I had the pleasure of going down a mine to the coal face accompanied by Mr. Idriss Williams and Mr. George Grant. I indicated publicly that I should extend the same treatment towards the representatives of the employees as I extend to those of the employers. I met the representatives of the employees a month before I was able to arrange a meeting with the employers. I shall examine the questions which the honorable senator has asked, and if I am given leave to do so I shall be pleased to make a ‘ statement to-morrow on the matters that he has raised.
On the 1st March, Senator Mattner asked whether it was correct that no person, even a competent miner from Great Britain, could work on a coal-face in Australian mines unless he had had at least three years’ service above ground on the Australian coalfields. 1 have been informed by the Joint Coal Board that general rule No. 40 of the New South Wales Coal Mines Regulation Act provides that no person shall work in or about the face of the workings of an underground coal mine as a coal-getter or machine-operator, unless he has previously worked for at least two years in or about the face of the workings of a mine as a coal-getter, machine-operator or shiftman, or is working in company with a person who has so worked. Experience in coal-mines in the United Kingdom is accepted for the purposes of this rule, and there is no statutory requirement that a coal-face employee must previously have had at least three years’ service above ground. Mining certificates of competency and of service, granted in Great Britain, are automatically accepted in New South Wales. In Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, such certificates are accepted subject to approval by a board of examiners.
– As the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has reduced the output of its steelworks to 70 per cent, of their capacity because of the shortage of coal, and has announced that a further cut of 20 per cent, is probable, when may the people of Australia expect some action by the Government to improve coal production?
– The Government is giving this matter its serious attention, and I can assure the honorable senator that if he and his colleagues would lend a hand by curbing the activities of some fanatics on the coal-fields, the Government would be considerably assisted.
– In view of the alarming ‘situation that has developed throughout the Commonwealth as the result of the spiralling of costs of basic commodities which has reduced the standard of living of all persons in receipt of incomes of £10 a week and less, can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform, me what the Government intends to do in the event of the bid to lift all prices controls that will be made by the representative of the Victorian Hollway Government at the conference of State Ministers for Prices to he held next Friday proving successful?
– I appreciate the interest that the honorable senator has evinced in the spiralling of prices, and I assure him that his sympathy in that respect does not exceed that of the Government. I also assure him that the Government will take every step to restore the purchasing power of the fi as it promised to do at the last general election.
– From time to time members of the Parliament give their services voluntarily on various committees in the investigation of matters that the Government may refer to them for inquiry and certain allowances are paid to them in respect of their outofpocket expenses. Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform the Senate when the present rates of those allowances were fixed, and by whom they were fixed ? In view of the increasing cost of hotel accommodation will the Government take steps to adjust those allowances in relation to present-day costs?
– I am unable to answer the honorable senator’s question offhand. I agree that if the allowances to which he has referred were fixed some considerable time ago they should be reviewed in relation to present-day costs. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall have the matter investigated and supply a complete answer to him.
– In view of recent disastrous experiences of treachery in the United Kingdom, involving Professor Fuchs and others, will the Attorney-General urge upon the Government the necessity to investigate further the security provisions for the guided weapons testing range and atomic energy research work in this country? Does the Government take a serious view of the fact that immigrants from exenemy countries are permitted to work in the areas in which those highly important projects are being carried out?
– I assure the honorable senator that the Government intends to make our security services as effective as possible. I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks to the attention of the Prime Minister.
– As the recovery of sufferers from tuberculosis in sanatoriums is considerably hampered by worry about the rising cost of living, I ask the Minister for Social Service whether the Government has given consideration to raising the allowance payable to such patients and their dependants? If so, when may we expect an early announcement of the Government’s decision?
– The matter raised by the honorable senator comes within the purview of the Minister for Health, but I am fortunately able to give at least a partial reply to the question because I am a member of the Cabinet sub-committee which at present is considering this problem. The Minister for Health has prepared a comprehensive readjustment of pensions and allowances including those paid to sufferers from tuberculosis? I hope that the plan will receive the approval of Cabinet and that the legislation to implement it will come before the Parliament during this session. I believe that the Government’s proposals will receive the support of all honorable senators.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Customs, is prompted by the everincreasing prices of consumer goods, especially food items. Has the Government taken any action to fulfil its election promise to check the present process of price inflation that is causing hardship to many persons in Australia, especially those who are in receipt only of the basic wage ?
– The Government is taking action to prevent increases of the cost of living. Not only honorable senators, but also the people of Australia generally will have reason to be grateful to the Government for its care and solicitude in dealing with that problem.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health is making inquiries into various aspects of health and is holding discussions with organizations interested in these matters, but no ‘decision has yet been made. When a decision has been made, the Senate will be informed of it.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer3 to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer -
In view of the reported anticipated shortage of tobacco leaf, will the Treasurer inform the Senate if there has been any reduction in the amount of dollars allocated for this commodity?
-The Treasurer has advised that since the present Government hasbeen in office, there has not been any reduction in the allocation of dollars for the purchase of tobacco leaf.
Motion (by Senator O’Sullivan) - by leave - agreed to -
That, during the unavoidable absence of the Deputy President, the President be authorized to call upon any one of the Temporary Chairmen of Committees to relieve him temporarily in the Chair, without any formal communication to the Senate.
Debate resumed from the 2nd March (vide page 293), on motion by Senator McCallum -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General he agreed to: -
May it please Your Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– At the outset I wish to associate myself with the affirmations of loyalty contained in the Address-in-Reply. With other honorable senators I was gratified to learn from His Excellency’s Speech that Their Majesties the King and Queen may visit Australia in 1952. Such a visit would serve to emphasize that the British Commonwealth of Nations is indivisible. Although I have no desire to anticipate what may be contained in the statement on foreign affairs that will shortly be placed before the Senate, I propose to refer to several matters that have a bearing on that subject. I shall confine my remarks to the subjects of development, decentralization, immigration, and housing that were referred to by His Excellency. He mentioned the strategic distribution of manpower and material resources, which I am sure honorable senators will agree is a vital matter, the urgency of which cannot be over-stressed. No leisurely approach to such a distribution of the strength of the British Commonwealth of Nations will satisfy us. There should be no delay in assessing the resources of this country and of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and effecting that distribution as soon as possible.
His Excellency also referred to the need for industrial growth, which I am sure all honorable senators will agree is an urgent necessity. We must recognize the fact that we are faced with a time limit in relation to this matter. In relation to the drift to the cities His Excellency said -
In view of the urgent need to develop Australia’s vast resources and to arrest the movement of rural population to the cities my Government will create a Ministryof National Development.
I have heard about the drift to the cities frequently since I came to Australia 30 years ago, and for a long time I have sought in vain for evidence of some real action in connexion with this matter by the Australian Government and the governments of the States. To-day 63 per cent. of the population of New South Wales is domiciled in the City of Sydney and its environs, whilst 62 per cent, of the population of Victoria is situated in the City of Melbourne and its suburbs. Similarly, 57 per cent, of the population of South Australia is located in the City of Adelaide. This state of affairs is indicative of the position obtaining throughout Australia. No less than 25 per cent, of the entire population of Australia is centred in the City of Sydney and its environs. Doubtless that concentration in Sydney has occurred because that was the starting point of development of this country. These facts are of especial interest to the Senate, which is intended to be a State house of review. We must, bear in mind also the necessity for a transfer of population from the most thickly populated to the other States. It may be contended that the growth of the cities is a matter that disturbs only the people that live in the country districts of Australia. That is not so, however, because all of our cities are growing so rapidly that within a short period of time it may become impossible to live in them unless there is a. vast expenditure of public money to enable them to function free of traffic difficulties, and to enable industry to function in a practicable and economic way. Unless we ensure that an effective policy of decentralization is adopted, and that the future growth of Australia shall not be concentrated in a few main cities, the rising costs in the cities will preclude the country districts from participating in any governmental expenditure.
I have been much impressed by the evidence of faith shown in the development of the country in the last century as shown in public buildings and other works, particularly in New South Wales. No doubt it is a mere coincidence that the Federal Government was established about that time, but it is true that similar constructive evidence of faith in the country has not been continued since the last century ended. One wonders what happened to stop that creative faith in the country. The pioneers who developed the inland areas would have been disappointed men had they lived to see the drift to the cities and the cessation of the flow of population to rural districts. The cause of these trends lies in the industrial development that replaced the agricultural side of the economy of this and other nations. As industries grew in the cities of the world, the urban population ceased to be adequate to service industrial needs and the people began to leave the land. On studying figures compiled over the last sixteen years I was interested to find that Sydney attracted 14 per cent, more population than did the whole of the State of New South Wales. In trying to find where the 14 per cent, increase came from, I examined first the country towns. The population of a few of them remained stationary but in most cases there was a decline. However, the loss of those towns was not sufficient to make up the 14 per cent, increase in Sydney, it had been filled by people who came from the land itself. The cities must face the important fact that they are dependent to a great degree on primary production. If the flow from the inland continues on the scale maintained over the last fifteen or twenty years - and the evidence is that it is accelerating - there will not be a person left ‘ on the land in primary industry in 30 years’ time. In that event, the city would be without its sources of supply. To prescribe corrective measures, it is necesary to see the existing trends clearly. In the last two or three years, there has been a marked movement of immigrants to Australia. During the 25 years to 1947, the net increase in the population of Australia was only 15,000 per annum. I know there has been a notable achievement in migration during the last two or three years, but I am not so blind to the past that I do not realize that without greater effort it will not keep up to that level. Great efforts will be needed to increase it.
The greater age of large groups of the population is another serious matter. In 1901 persons under nineteen years of age represented 45.3 per cent, of the population. The percentage was reduced to 31.7 per cent, in 1950, so that the number of persons under nineteen years to-day is only two-thirds of the proportion in 1901. Persons between 20 years and 39 years in 1901 formed 34.5 per cent, of the total population, but to-day that group embraces only 28.7 per cent. The 49 years to 59 years group has increased from 14.1 per cent, in 1901 to 28.4 per cent., and the number of persons 60 years and over has grown from 6 per cent, to 12 per cent. The number of persons aged from 49 years upwards has doubled, but there has been a decline in the number of younger persons. This question of the ageing nation has an important bearing on the selection of migrants for Australia and indicates that we should bring more families and persons in the lower age groups into the Commonwealth. In one region alone, the average age is 32 years. On present trends it will be 37 years in 28 to 30 years, whereas 26 years ago the average age of the people there was only 29 years. Wrapped up with the drift to the cities is the fact that with an ageing nation there must be a drift from agriculture to supply a working population sufficient to service our secondary industries. There is every indication that unless we maintain immigration, the drift will be accelerated. In addition, the nation is faced with the fact, as reported by the National Health and Medical Research Council, that the birth rate has been declining over the last 40 years. Secondary industries employ about 2,500,000 people. There is obviously a great need to reverse the order and bring youthful people into the country and back to the land. The Governor-General’s Speech refers to decentralization. I know that has been talked about for a long time. Attempts have been made to get a statement from the Commonwealth and State Governments as to what they mean by decentralization, but even at the end of three years there has been no effective reply. I look forward to an explanation of the statement in the Speech that an effective scheme of decentralization will be introduced, and I hope that at last we will get past papers and reports to a plan of action. I believe that national development can be made effective only if it is carried out with » close attention to individual areas with every locality taking an active part in it. The authorities of every locality, which have an intimate knowledge of local requirements and developmental needs, should indicate to the central authority the works necessary to give effect to the potentialities of each area and should also state the number of immigrants required to make full development in the area possible. No immigration scheme can be effective if the distribution of the immigrants within this country is too centralized. We must base development on the existing country centres of population and must also create entirely new towns in suitable areas. At present there are 88 regions in Australia that are covered by a complete set of maps, and their potentialities are known. I hope that the Minister, in bringing forward the scheme for national development envisaged in the Governor-General’s Speech, will be conscious of the value of the work already done in those regions and, by utilizing the existing information regarding them, will thereby obviate any long and slow processes that would be involved in making new examinations and collations of information and in the submission of reports. There is a sufficient number of personnel available in the local government authorities throughout Australia to enable rapid progress to be made.. There are about 10,000 persons in local government organizations in Australia who give their services free in the interests of the localities in which they reside. They represent a force that, allied to a full use of the regional knowledge already available, will make immediate action towards decentralization possible.
Like most other countries Australia is in the unfortunate position that its population is not self-replacing, and therefore Australia requires immigration on a great scale to prevent it from disappearing as a nation. The need for a Department of National Development is long overdue, but need for concrete action in respect of national development is not only overdue; it is vital. We are still faced with the problem of obtaining a sufficient flow of immigrants. Some people believe that we cannot obtain as many immigrants from Great Britain as we require. I agree with the view of a recent visitor to Australia, Sir Frank Newson-Smith, an ex-Lord Mayor of London who is president of the World Chambers of Commerce, that we can obtain large numbers of British immigrants for Australia. In fact, he said authoritatively that it would be necessary to move at least 5,000,000 British people from the United Kingdom to this country immediately. Lord Fairfax, a member of the British House of Lords, recently visited Australia to examine the matter of the movement of British families to this country. He put the number of persons that should be moved, in the essential interests of Great Britain if that country is to survive, at between 10,000,000 and 15,000,000. I commend the expressions of opinion of these two very eminent men to the Minister for consideration in connexion with any decision regarding the numbers of immigrants to come to this country from the United Kingdom.
I was pleased to note that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech referred to the Governments intention to retain the balance of British stock in Australia’s population. It is very important to do so because this country, in the not far distant future, may be put to the test of war, and the need to have a large proportion of people of our own way of life brought to this country to assist in its defence is vital indeed. At the same time I believe that we should extend our contacts with the United States of America and endeavour to obtain immigrants from that country in the proportion of 15 or 20 per cent, of the total number that comes from Great Britain. If we do not strengthen our blood ties with America we shall regret it. Mere paper connexions with the United States are not enough. The time to get Americans to move here is now. While Americans have fresh recollections of the fact that Australians and Americans were comrades in arms in the last war we still have a chance of attracting large numbers of them as immigrants, but if we delay in making overtures in that connexion we shall be too late. In my view there are three great reasons why our population must be expanded. Speakers in this Parliament, and public men outside it, have affirmed the need for immigration to assist in decentralization and development, and I am hopeful that we shall see great plans to give effect to what we all believe is the right course of action. The first of the reasons for an expansion of our population is that it is necessary for the development of our primary and secondary industries. Unless they are developed as fully as possible, we shall not be able to hold our own in the world of international trade, and shall be unable to purchase our full requirements from overseas. Moreover I believe that expansion of our population, and the consequent expansion of our industrial development, will increase our stature at international meetings, .because we shall be able to show the world that we are developing our country to the fullest possible degree. We cannot just sit down, leisurely increase our population and equally leisurely approach the problem of our national development and then expect to be able to appear at international conferences such as those now being held and affirm that we are doing all that we could with this country. I am very impressed by the fact that the population of the world is increasing rapidly, and that to the north of Australia the increase during the next ten years will be about 200,000,000 persons.
The United Nations organization brands Australia as being one of the worst sinners in the world in connexion with soil erosion and the waste of land, In six generations we have done more to destroy our natural resources than many nations have done in 50 generations. Soil erosion and atomic war are twin evils, of which I consider the former to be the more insidious. The greatest atomic force of all, so far as Australia is concerned at the moment, is the rapid expansion of population in countries to our north. Unless we increase our population and accelerate the speed of our national development we shall not be able to put our representatives at conferences of such international organizations as the International Emergency Food Council, in the position of being able to say that we are developing Australia so rapidly that nobody else could succeed in doing so well. Only a few days ago I read in the press that there was a. movement of population towards Indo-China to get rice. It could be more correctly said that it was a movement to get rice lands. There is a move to grow rice in the Northern Territory on land that ha3 never been exploited. Should the production of rice or of any other food be raised at the International Emergency Food Council the Australian representative on that body would .find himself in a tough spot in trying to explain why. we arn merely sitting on so much land and, at the same time, preventing people who are starving from making use of it. At ‘ any world parley dealings with the production of food, Australia, which has so much of the limited areas that still remain uncultivated in the world, will have a hard job to prove that it is making full use of such land.
It is essential that we greatly increase our population not over a long period of years, or even during our lifetime, but within the next ten years. Otherwise, our situation in the event of the outbreak of another war will be most perilous. A population of 20,000,000 is a totally different proposition for an aggressor to deal with than a population of S,000,000. This is the greatest problem that confronts this country. The foundation of a programme of immigration has been laid, but I hope that in the near future the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) will expand it to such a degree that the present target of 200,000 migrants a year will be but a starting point. I do not believe that anything less than double the present population within the next ten to fifteen years will suffice to meet our economic and defence needs.
Dealing with the problem of housing, the Governor-General’s Speech referred to the importation of prefabricated houses. Any step at all that will stimulate the provision of houses will be welcome. Therefore, I am pleased to know that the Government has decided to lift the import duties on many classes of building materials. To-day, housing construction represents 85 per cent, of building activities in this country compared with 60 per cent, prior to the recent war. However, notwithstanding that fact and also the fact that we are building approximately 60,000 houses a year we are still 30,000 houses short of our annual needs on the basis of our present population. The importation of prefabricated houses, or of structures of any type that will provide housing accommodation, regardless of the country from which we obtain’ them, will benefit our economy because we are so short of manpower. Regardless of the number of prefabricated houses that we might import, we require our available man-power for other work such as the preparation of sites and work that will be involved in assembling the prefabricated shells. I trust that the Minister will give careful consideration to the kind of prefabricated houses to be imported. The houses that have recently been illustrated in the daily press are not of the type that should De imported. We must import structures of a type that will be suitable for the conditions obtaining in the various States, particularly in the hotter climates. Housing can play an important part in a policy of decentralization. Perhaps the type that would be most suitable for our needs would be the type that is common in country areas. Furthermore, the erection of houses in the country areas would be less costly on a pound for pound basis than in the cities and large towns where many limitations apply to the erection of dwellings. In the country, houses are constructed in an open fashion whereas in the cities fencing and various other additional requirements must be provided. For an equal outlay of finance and labour, it is possible to provide far more houses in a country area than in a city.
I have been completely disappointed with the results achieved by the experimental building station that was established by the previous Government. I had something to do with the establishment of that station in that I had the opportunity to place my views upon the project before a parliamentary committee that inquired into the setting up of the undertaking. I was under the impression that that station would be set up specifically to evolve ways and means of providing houses more quickly than it is possible to erect them to-day. I hoped that something would come out of that project that would enable us to do more than merely provide orthodox houses in the orthodox way. Unfortunately, that station has embarked cn various side issues, some of which may be new and interesting and, perhaps, very advanced from a highly technical point of view ; hut it has not developed the core that I envisaged. It has not evolved ways and means of providing houses quickly and economically, such as structures that could be built on a unit basis and extended at various stages and in the construction of which we should be able to short-cut most of the work that is now involved in the present system of house construction, which, after all, is very, antiquated. Consequently, we find houses still being provided that are of the type that have recently been illustrated in the newspapers. They merely represent the same old orthodox method of construction in another form. I regret that we have failed to make a new approach to housing construction. However, we must do so if we really face the facts of housing. The importation of prefabricated houses will not really help us to overcome the present housing shortage unless we get away from the orthodox system of construction. At present, our whole approach to housing is wrong. The practice is to erect houses that will last for about three generations whereas all that is needed is a structure that will last for one generation. We should approach this problem in much the same way as we approach the purchase of motor cars or refrigerators. Unless we can evolve a system of constructing houses that will last a generation and can be paid for within a reasonable proportion of one’s lifetime, we shall not solve this problem no matter how many prefabricated houses we may import. Otherwise, we shall be obliged to employ practically the whole of the community on the construction of houses if we are to solve the problem ; or unless we do that, great numbers of persons not only our age but also those who are now only about twenty years of age, will have no hope of obtaining houses. Therefore, I plead for a new approach to this problem. We should aim at the provision of accommodation rather than of houses, and concentrate upon the provision not of houses that will last three generations but structures that will be sufficient to meet the needs of the average individual for the duration of his or her life.
I welcome the reference in the Governor-General’s Speech to the development of the Northern Territory. That is another matter that has been talked about for as long as I can remember. The time has arrived when we must cease talking and concentrate upon action. The survey now being made of the Northern Territory by the Royal Australian Air
Force and the provision of scientists to engage in research there are excellent ideas, but for the last 75 or 80 years we have had available complete knowledge of many parts of the Northern Territory which could be developed immediately along practical lines. It is time that we declared war upon all talk- about the disadvantages of the Territory and made the ‘best of its advantages. I should advocate a close season for the making of reports, and, at the same time, declare an open season for action in such matters. In view of the proposal set out in the Governor-General’s Speech I believe that we shall witness a change in that direction. During the recent war our defence forces acquired a great deal of knowledge of the Northern Territory, and that information should be used to the best advantage. I suspect, however, that it is likely to be pigeon-holed and that a new series of investigations will be commenced. The Territory falls naturally into four regions and we should develop it on a regional basis. It should not be controlled from Canberra. It should be given some form of autonomous control that would enable us to use the services of men who not only have lived there and helped to develop the area but also are prepared to remain there for the rest of their lives. The interests of these people lie in the Northern Territory. This far-flung continent cannot be developed adequately by an administration centralized in Canberra. I know from my own experience that the Northern Territory has suffered and continues to suffer from Canberra control. Residents of that Territory must be granted some freedom of action, otherwise even good developmental schemes will be rejected by them. The Northern Territory is so important, in my opinion, that its administration and development should be entrusted to a special section of the Department of Supply and Development.
Our island territories should be treated similarly. It is all very well for us to say through our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender) that we shall not _ entertain even the thought that the new Republic of Indonesia should reach across to New Guinea. We are entitled to claim New Guinea only if we are prepared to develop it. Unless we justify our ownership with action, we Iia ve no moral right to sit like a dog with a bone, keeping every one else away. I plead with the Government therefore to consider the establishment of a special section of the Department’ of Supply and Development to develop the Northern Territory and our island territories. It is true that the residents of those territories are not numerous, and therefore may not be able to bring much pressure to bear at election time, but I believe that our slogan for our territories should be “ Use them or lose them “.
I thank honorable senators for the courteous hearing that I have been given in this, my maiden speech in the Senate. Perhaps I have confined myself more rigidly to the contents of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech than have many previous speakers, but unfortunately the time allotted to honorable senators is not suffificent to enable them to cover a wide range of subjects.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Nicholls). - The honorable senator may speak for 1^ hours if he so desires.
– I realize that, and perhaps I could elaborate further on some matters upon which I have touched rather briefly. I believe however that the Senate should confine its attention to matters of national importance. 1 have been somewhat surprised at the nature of some of the subjects to which reference has been made in the course of this debate. Many of those matters, I thought, in my ignorance - it may be my wisdom - could well have been left to the other branch of the legislature. Unless the Senate is prepared to devote most of its time to matters of State and national interest, it can never fulfil the function that it could so well perform to the great advantage of this country as a whole. Here, we should press for immediate action on all matters that we consider to be of national importance. We are free from the confines of electoral boundaries which, to some degree at least, limit the outlook of members of the House of Representatives. We should bring a broad national outlook to our discussions, and deal only with issues that are worthy of a purely national legislative body.
I have dealt with the need, for defence considerations at least, to increase the population of this country and to develop our continent in a truly decentralized manner. I am sure that no honorable senator will dissent from that view. Decentralization is essential if we are to weld our immigrants into our population structure. Questions that have been asked in this chamber and in the House of Representatives indicate that many members of the Parliament are wondering what is happening to the large number of immigrants now flowing into this country. Nobody is quite sure where they are. It is unfortunate that immigrants, upon the completion of the service which they are in duty bound to give to the Commonwealth, are being permitted to drift all over the country. Our immigration problem should he broken up into sections. Consider, for instance, the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, an engineering project of such dimensions that it confounds the ordinary man. After all, it is only a number of pieces of steel put together by average workers. Attempting to handle our immigration project in a centralized way is like expecting a structure such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge to be built overnight. Our immigration plans should deal with specific regions throughout the Commonwealth. Each region should be listed, together with the types of workers that are necessary for its development. Then, all immigrants should be classified according to their skills and experience. Central receiving depots may have some transitory value, and for that reason I do not object to them, but I believe that new Australians should be directed immediately upon their arrival to the various regions of the Commonwealth in which they have chosen to work and live. Such a scheme could be carried out only by cataloguing the opportunities that are open to immigrants in this country, and taking full advantage of the pioneering spirit, particularly of the British people. I have seen immigrants, upon completion of their term of service, drift aimlessly in and out of country towns, apparently without any set purpose. Unless the movements of immigrants are more intelligently arranged than they have been in the past, a large majority of them will drift to the cities. It is true that their services will be welcomed in our secondary industri.es> but that will not assist decentralization. We are informed that our industries were decentralized during the war, but I had some experience of the war-time movements of industry, and I know that thorough decentralization has not yet taken place. The war-time reorganization produced only a placement of industries in relation to man-power. When industries were established in country districts under that so-called decentralization scheme, all that was produced was a secondary centralization because the new industries in the country towns drew labour from the land. It is useless merely to push factories out into the country^ Undoubtedly our secondary industries should extend to the country districts, but there should be a simultaneous flow of people from the cities to the country to maintain those industries, and, at the same time, to bolster rural activities. 1 have addressed myself to what I consider to be the vital points of the Governor-General’s Speech. I have spoken from my own knowledge and experience. I now leave my suggestions for the consideration of the appropriate Ministers confident that what I have proposed will receive’ the support of honorable senators on both sides of the chamber.
– The Governor-General, in his opening address to the Nineteenth Parliament, has again given pleasure to Australians by announcing the confident hope that Their Majesties the King and Queen will be able to visit us in 1952. It is gratifying indeed to know that His Majesty’s health has improved sufficiently to make such an event possible. I regret, however, that whilst the projected visit of the King and Queen has evoked from the Government expressions of loyalty to the Crown, His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom has been so slurred by innuendo that one Government supporter has had to withdraw a remark. We of the Labour party believe that the loyalty and affection of the Australian people can be shown much better by actions than by the protestations of honorable senators opposite. The loyalty of the Australian people is due no less to the constitutionally elected Government of the United Kingdom than to the King, because although the King is the nominal head of the State, the Government directs the policy. Unfortunately,, since Labour was returned to office in the United Kingdom, we have heard from certain members or supporters of this Government expressions of which any Australian might well feel ashamed. It has been said that if the British peopledo not supply us with more dollars tobuy petrol, they may have to tighten their belts. According to a press report - I do not know whether the newspaperscan be relied upon on this occasion - a responsible Minister has stated that if dollars are not released for increased petro] purchases by Australia, the British people cannot expect Australians to buy their products, particularly motor cars. That type of loyalty is rather different from the pious utterances that have been mouthed in this chamber. However, I have no doubt that many honorable senators opposite do sincerely believe in the allegiance that we owe to the British Commonwealth of Nations, particularly to the Old Country, and I hope that they will be prepared to show to the British people the same generosity as was shown by the Labour Government, which, during its term of office, made several substantial gifts of money to the United Kingdom. I hope, too, that the Government will be able to restrain certain greedy sections of the community who believe that Australia is not getting enough out of the pool, and are prepared to prejudice the rights - I use the word “ rights “ advisedly - of the people who bore the heat and burden of World War II. We did not hear much cheering from these individuals when Great Britain and the Dominions stood alone against the totalitarian countries in the early days of the war. I suggest that the Government should follow the example that has been set by the Labour party, and also that it should take steps to discourage the tendency of its supporters to be disloyal to the Government of the United Kingdom if it is of a political colour that they do not like.
The Governor-General’s Speech was very vague in many respects. Much could be done under the policy that was outlined in it, but it contained few definite statements of what in fact will be done. The Speech that was delivered by His Excellency on the 22nd February of this year was very different from that which he delivered in September, 1948, in which the policy of the Chifley Government was announced. On that occasion the programme of the Chifley Government in respect of defence, housing, water conservation and the development of secondary industries was clearly stated. The Labour party stated clearly what it intended to do and how far it intended to go.
Senator Tate, in a lengthy speech, referred to water conservation and soil erosion. I say advisedly that the first real attempt to solve the problems of land husbandry, soil erosion and water conservation was made by the Chifley Government, which prepared the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme and the great water conservation scheme for the south-west of Western Australia. The soil erosion that has occurred in this country is due largely to the policies of the anti-Labour governments that controlled the affairs of this country for many years. They permitted private individuals to own large estates. The policy of those administrations was that the Government should keep out. Erosion of the soil occurred because it was beyond the financial capacity of private persons properly to develop those large estates, and the Government was not permitted to do anything. The view of the present Government is that the Commonwealth must keep out of big national projects because it would be a socialistic measure if it engaged in them, but the protection of the nation’s assets .by the Commonwealth is not socialism. That is something that the Government must realize that before it can govern Australia in the way in which it has promised the people it will govern. It will have to embark on many socialistic projects.
Honorable senators opposite have expressed the hope that the Senate will act as a States’ House and not as a party House. I do not think that the future vole of this chamber will be very different from its previous role. At this stage I desire to express my disappointment that, for the first time since federa tion, Western Australia has been deprived of a ministerial representative in the Australian Government. I do not know whether the reason for that omission is that the Western Australian members of the Parliament are persons that the Government considers should not be given ministerial rank, or whether it reflects the result of a democratic ballot of the members of the Government parties. Honorable senators opposite have suggested that the officers of trade unions should be elected democratically, and I assume that the members of the Government parties elected the Ministers of the Government by ballot. I suggest that a statement should be made upon this matter, because it is most disappointing that, whether by direction of an individual or as the result of a ballot of the members of the Government parties, Western Australia is not represented in this Ministry.
In the Speech of the Governor-General there was some sabre-rattling in relation to industrial peace and the handling of industrial organizations, especially trade unions, by the Government. The Government parties have promised the people that they will endeavour to establish peace in industry and to make the trade unions democratic institutions. The Australian trade unions have forced more democracy into this country than honorable senators opposite can ever hope to understand. The trade unions waged a fight for democracy by insisting that the working people of this country should be given a voice in the administration of its affairs. Democracy in Australia has sprung from the trade union movement. If the Government interferes with the trade unions, it will be taking a retrograde step because it will not improve them by so doing. It will not achieve industrial peace if it follows the traditional viciousness of Liberalism in dealing with trade unions. Industrial peace will exist in this country only when the workers are justly treated and ‘ given a fair share of the wealth that they produce. Before, during and after the war, the workers of this country did an excellent job of production. An unfortunate feature of conditions before the war was that many competent young men and women in Australia who were willing and able to work were not able to secure employment at remunerative rates, or even at all. I urge the Government not to act viciously in respect of the trade unions, but to treat them as a section of the community upon which our production is based. If the Government does not treat the workers of Australia justly by preserving their freedom to conduct trade unions in their own way, by ensuring that they can feed, clothe and educate their children in accordance with reasonable standards, and by providing the health services for which the country can well afford to pay, it cannot expect to obtain from them the production that they achieved when they gave their services willingly at a time when Australia was in dire need.
The Government has announced that it intends to ban the Communist party arid to eliminate communism in Australia. The banning of the Communist party will not, of itself eliminate communism. I have no love for Communists, and the Labour party does not accept them. It i3 the only political party in Australia that insists that its members shall sign a pledge stating that they are not members of the Communist party. If there has been any real effort to banish communism from Australia, it has been made by the Labour party. “We have not acted viciously or banned the Communist party. We have expelled Communists from outranks whenever we have found them there, and have forbidden our members to associate with them. The big organizations that are now outside the Labour fold will eventually cleanse themselves and return to the fold. I urge the Government not to introduce sectional legislation that will bring Australia down to the level of some continental countries in which persons are persecuted because they are Catholics, Communists or Jews. If sectional legislation is enacted by the government of a country and one section of the community is broken for the benefit of another section, the whole foundation of democracy and decent nationhood is disturbed. If we are to enjoy the freedom that was talked about so much by the candidates of the parties forming the present Government during the last general election campaign, the Government must avoid enacting sectional legislation. Such legislation, because it is, in
Senator Cooke. its character, undemocratic and unjust, will cause unrest in the community. If the Government proposes to introduce legislation prescribing the manner in which trade unions shall conduct their domestic affairs why should it not also introduce legislation to prescribe the manner in which large organizations such as the Australian Mutual Provident Society and Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited shall conduct their affairs? Sectional legislation should be condemned by every person who has studied the effect of a restriction of the freedom of a law-abiding section of the community. The law as it stands is strong enough to enable the Government to combat communism in this country. Some of the provisions of the Crimes Act, which are a scar upon the statute-book, give the Government almost unlimited power. Surely honorable senators opposite do not wish to add to those provisions. If the Government acts in the manner in which it has indicated that it will act, it will cause disruption in Australia and the Communists will become stronger than they are.
The prices control structure of this country was destroyed at the instance of the present Government parties and their supporters. The Liberal Premiers of some States told the Australian people that they could control prices adequately and prevent inflation, but now they are bleating that they cannot do so. The Victorian Government has failed so completely to control prices that, even at this desperate period, it wants to shed responsibility for prices control. Honorable senators opposite have expressed concern at the vicious spiral in which prices are caught at present, but not one of them has suggested a remedy. The Government has said glibly that it will put the value back into the Australian £1. 1 remember that in 1929 my salary was reduced by 22^ per cent. I had a young family then but, because my father was thrown out of employment, I had to contribute from my small income what amounts I could spare for the support of my parents. The value was in the £1 then. It was there because goods were left unsold and people were starving. Those persons who were fortunate enough to be in work were trying to assist those who were dependent upon them, not legally but morally. They did what all members of decent families do. Guts of mutton and beef that now cost ls. 2d. or ls. 3d. per lb. could be bought then for d. per lb., but ‘many people could not afford to pay even that price. Babbits which now cost 3s. 3d. each could be bought for 6d. each. The value was certainly in the £1 then. If the Government implements the policy that it has foreshadowed, it will put the value back into the £1, but it will do so only by destroying the livelihood of working men and by so reducing the demand for commodities that supply will be in excess of demand. If value is to be infused into the £1, property prices must be adjusted, fixed assets must be reassessed, values reduced generally, and the whole national economic equation must be lowered. That will not occur but a lopsided adjustment will be made leaving capital protected, working conditions broken and unemployment again general.
Tins afternoon, at question time, Senator Armstrong asked the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator McLeay) about the Government’s attitude towards permanent and temporary public servants who, through no fault of their own, were placet! in an invidious position relating to employment following the closing of their department because of the abolition of petrol rationing. The Minister cited, figures relating to the number of employees that had been retained by both the Australian and State governments, and said that the remainder had been absorbed by private enterprise. He carefully avoided saying what became of the temporary employees, many of whom had served the Government well for years. Their appointments should have been confirmed long ago. I point out .that Senator Armstrong is just as able as the Minister to elicit the truth in these matters. The Minister refused to give particulars of what happened to temporary employees, many of whom probably voted for the election of some honorable senators opposite to this chamber, accepting as true the lies and distortions that anti-Labour political parties disseminated in order to gain their votes. This state of affairs cannot persist if the Government hopes to obtain the cooperation of the people of this country. Even if the Communist party were banned, the
Communists would grow in numbers should the Government, by reducing wages, lowering living conditions and reducing social services in an eli:ort to put value back into the Australian £1, lessen the demand for goods, thus causing unemployment, poverty and the destruction of family life.
Much has been said about the free medicine scheme. I say advisedly that the people of this country have already paid for such a scheme. The National Welfare Fund, which was established by the Curtin Labour Government, has a credit of £100,000,000. That should enable every deserving person in Australia to receive free medical treatment. The breadwinners are entitled, in good times as well as bad, to the secure knowledge that should their health break down their families would be able to receive the benefits for which they have contributed. They have contributed for the provision of such a scheme just as definitely as if their money had been paid into an assurance company to secure protection for themselves and their wives and children in the event of illness or untimely death. It is evident, however, from statements that have appeared in the press, that the present Government intends to repudiate its obligations to the bread-winners of this country, although the fund that already exists is sound enough to provide a satisfactory medical health scheme. The reason that the Government intends to repudiate is apparent to any person who has studied political economy. The Liberal economy demands that the Government should not make such provisions for the people; that the individual should be able to look after himself. It is a disgraceful state of affairs that the Government should repudiate its obligations to the people who have paid by their taxes, given their labour, and their time for the development of this country, and from whose contributions there has been established such a substantial fund for that very purpose. They are to be relegated to a standard far below that of the peoples of countries that are not nearly so advanced as Australia. This proves that honorable senators opposite do not really hate communism because basically it is much the same as their own philosophy.
Although some honorable senators opposite may laugh at that contention, nevertheless the philosophies are similar. In fact, Communist totalitarianism is worse than Liberalism only because Liberalism demands that the Government should stand out, and that the individual should be able to establish himself without any impediment. It demands further that -the Government should not interfere by enacting laws designed to stop individual exploitation and greed. On the other hand the Communist philosophy is that certain cliques in the community, or one individual shall be given supreme power with the assistance of laws passed for that purpose, thus, giving privileges to some that are denied to others. In checking the history of Liberalism in this country, we find that that has been the case. Privileges have been given to individuals to the disadvantage of the majority of the people by Liberals right down through the ages. Labour established the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamer? which served this country, well at a time when privately-owned ships would not come to Australia to shift our primary products. Subsequently, however, an anti-Labour government that subscribed to the policies of the present Government sold that shipping line to big interests which did not serve this country. Even in World War II. they refused to provide Australia with adequate uptodate shipping facilities. The Australian people have a just and reasonable right to say that they shall not be robbed of a heritage. I hope that the present Commonwealth ships will not be disposed of and that the shipbuilding industry will continue to operate as established by the Chifley Government.
I have already referred to the glib, phrase that the Government will put value back into the Australian £1. Some honorable senators opposite have tried to confuse the issue by declaring that that means the same as appreciation of the Australian £1. There is absolutely no relation between these two matters. So far as Western Australia is concerned, I point out that it would be a damning move, economically, for the Government to appreciate the Australian £1, because that State’s primary producers would suffer severely. Gold pro- duction would be hit badly through a reduction of its price, and the production of woo] and wheat, the export value of which “is far in excess of the value of our imports, would suffer seriously. So far as secondary industries are concerned, I point out that the factory of Chamberlain Industries Limited, at Welshpool, in Western Australia, is as extensive as any other tractor factory and has better plant and machinery than most manufacturers operating in the southern hemisphere. If the Australian £1 is appreciated that concern will be a dead loss to the government that financed it. Will the appreciation of tha £1 do anything to assist the machinery manufacturing industry? Et would not. By importing machinery and other plant from the United Kingdom and the sterling areas at a lower cost than Australian industry can produce comparable articles, as has been done before by anti-Labour governments, then the present Government could easily destroy secondary industry, which is already struggling desperately. By permitting other countries to dump their surpluses in Australia the Government could again make it impossible for our secondary industries to continue. Unless the Government desires to interfere with the expansion of primary and secondary industries and, particularly in Western Australia, gold production, this is not the time to consider appreciating the Australian £1. The only suggestion that has emanated from the Government side of the chamber in relation to the method by which they propose to put value back into the Australian £1 is that the workers should produce more, and at the same time receive lower wages. At no stage has it been suggested that the Government is prepared to write clown capital costs, or the assets of big firms and investors, which constitute just as big a stranglehold as the wages that the workers draw from .industry. The amount that the workers take out of industry represents only a very small percentage of national costs. If the Government proposes to put value back into the Australian £1 or appreciate it to the position it occupied before World War I., I contend that members of anti-Labour political parties lied to the people during the recent election campaign. If value is to be restored to the Australian £1 in the manner that has been suggested in this chamber the result will be that the workers will receive less wages, and many will ultimately lose their homes. That was the principle that was followed on a former occasion by an anti-Labour government, when the living standard of the Australian workers was forced to an all-time low. In Western Australia married men with children received only 3s. a day sustenance. Although that is indicative of the value of the £1 in those days, the workers starved. They could not even afford tobuy liver, tripe and other offal that is rarely mentioned on hotel menus. In those days cabbages were sold for1/2d. per lb., compared with the high prices ruling to-day. Only recently I saw peas for sale in Perth at 2s. 3d. per lb. That is a ridiculous state of affairs. Considering the good seasons that have prevailed during the last twelve months in Western Australia the supply of vegetables in that State should exceed the demand. The Government should pay serious attention to the fact that if it tries to adjust matters by viciously attacking workers’ conditions and reducing them generally below the standard that should exist in a civilized country it will fail miserably in its effort to restore value to the Australian £1. It would then become apparent to the workers that the conditions that they had enjoyed under the Labour Government in war-time had been taken from them in peace-time as a result of intensive propaganda backed by cash, mainly by individualists and people with monetary interests. Although that big section of monetary interests is coming back to power, I hope that it will never be in a position again to say to the people, “ We will not permit the Government to continue “. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber will do all in their power to prevent that state of affairs.
In the past we have heard honorable senators opposite refer frequently to the fact that private business must be encouraged. Senator Hannaford declared that only free enterprise will expand production. But let us consider how free private enterprise really is. It is not free of the banks or of the combines that members of the Government represent. I appeal to the Government to free business from the control of tobacco distribution, in which the Government has no say at present. I know of a poor little woman who is trying to carry on her business, but is losing her customers to a big firm which is able to supply them with tobacco with their orders. I know of another instance in which an exserviceman was trying to conduct a business near Mullewa. Because he could not obtain a sufficient tobacco licence he lost considerable business to well-established firms in that town. His inability to obtain a ration proved a serious handicap.
– When did he apply for a licence?
– Although he applied for a licence on four occasions, he could not get one. However, because of my personal representations to the board on his behalf, I am glad to say that he now has an increased tobacco quota. I also know of instances of people without war service to their credit trying to keep their businesses going. Nothing has been done for them. If private enterprise is to be free the handicaps associated with boards that have been established by powerful people must be removed, because those boards decide whether businesses shall live or die.
– I understood the honorable senator to say before that these boards were established by the Labour Government.
– That is not so. Boards established by the Labour Government are not now permitted to operate because of a decision of the High Court. Although the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) has been a member of this chamber for a long time, he is apparently ignorant of this matter. Under the National Emergency Regulations in connexion with the control of certain commodities throughout Australia, these boards were charged with the responsibility of ensuring that there would be an equitable distribution of those commodities. Amongst them was the Tobacco Industry Distribution Committee whose authority to function was challenged before the High Court of Australia. The Government wanted to relieve the situation as far as it could, but it could not continue because of the High Court decision. Then the big tobacco combine took a hand and said : “ We have everybody under our thumb. We will set up a board and say who will live and who will die “. There was no objection by the present Government, and there never will be. The Government is waiting for its master’s voice to define its policy.
– What year was that?
– I shall give the honorable senator an answer outside the chamber.
The Minister for Social Services (Senator Spooner) made a contribution to the debate on which I must compliment him because of its balance and well-ordered thought. If I wanted to say something very nice, make no admissions whatever, and smother up a lot of deficiencies which possibly existed, I could not have done better myself. He said that the Government would legislate for all sections of the community, but he did not say how it proposed to do so. Certain contemplated legislation is definitely levelled against one section of the community, and will not be applicable to another. He said it would be just. If the Government is going to be just it will follow a natural law and protect the weak against the strong, whether it is economic or otherwise to do so. But all its projected legislation is contrary .to that principle. It has said that it intends to repeal legislation which was enacted by the Labour Government for no other purpose than to protect the man who has not against the power of the man who has. Honorable senators should not be misled. The attitude of the present Government will be revealed not only internationally, but internally as well. The Labour party has been fighting for years against the strong when strength has been applied unjustly. It succeeded, but the Government now proposes to restore its position. The Government says that there must be unemployment, and some method of regulating the workers - that it must be possible for an employer to say, “ You are hired “, and “ You are fired “. As far as a man without dependants is concerned it does not matter a great deal because every Australian man will earn a living somehow, but it is a bad thing for the bread-winner who has a wife and family depending on him to supply the necessaries of life. That ie the fear in the hearts of men. If I had no one else to support I would deserve to starve if I could not feed and clothe myself. But if my right to earn for my wife and children were challenged, I would fight viciously. I say to every worker in this country, “ Fight viciously against any such influence because the law is there to see that justice prevails “. A man who obeys the law should have the same protection as any other person, and if he disobeys he must pay the penalty no matter what his social standing. If sectional legislation is to be enacted in this country to destroy the just protection we have built up, the fight is on.
The Senate has had a long dissertation by Senator Tate on the vital statistics of Australia. It was peculiarly Liberal. He mentioned three things which inspired him to think that the population should be built up by migration. They were war, defence and paying our national debt. Three lovely ideas ! I say that we are building up our population to give asylum in a civilized community to people from war-stricken countries, to encourage a Christian outlook among the immigrants and allow them to breed in this country a race of men who have no inhibitions. They must be helped to realize that they are free men, able to speak their minds and better themselves. Then if war comes they will have something worth defending as Australian citizens and Australia will not be ashamed of them. I dissociate myself from any suggestion that we are seeking migrants so that they may fight in the front line to keep the economic section of industry going. If the Government, is earnest in its desire to build up the population of Australia, it should make family life secure. There are many things that stop people from producing families. Nature takes a hand sometimes, but in the main the fear of economic insecurity and the doubt that they will not be able to raise children and give them reasonable opportunities, deters them. Men feel that if they have dependants they will have to sacrificesomething or that there will be an economic collapse. In this country there is a feeling abroad that a man can earn what he likes, but that he must not have any encumbrances, and so he casts off all that is likely to impede him. Such people may become financial magnates but they gain nothing. I ask the Government to deal with the scourge of combines and not to put the onus on one group of persons to protect the country’s living standards. I regret that no indication whatever has been given to this Senate, either in the addresses from members or Ministers, or in the answers by Ministers to questions as to the possible actions of the Government. All too frequently Ministers refuse to answer questions claiming that Government policy is involved. This attitude indicates that their minds are vacant and that no statement of the Government’s intentions can be expected until the monetary interests that financed them to power indicate what is tobe done. In conclusion, I say seriously that Ministers opposite are well described in the following quotation from Pope -
You beat your pate, and fancy wit will come. Knock as you please, there’s nobody at home.
.- The people of Australia were delighted when they learnt of the splendid recovery from illness of His Majesty the King and were overjoyed to learn from the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that Their Majesties may visit Australian in 1952. The nation was thrown into gloom when the people learnt of His Majesty’s illness, but with Divine blessing we hope that Their Majesties will be able to visit Australia where a loyal welcome awaits them.
Like other honorable senators on this side of the chamber who have preceded me in this debate, I compliment the Government on the forthright and statesmanlike policy placed before us in the Governor-General’s Speech. The result of the election has created a feeling of confidence and freedom among the people of the Commonwealth. They have a sense of security which is essential to our national well-being. At no time in the history of Australia has a Government assumed office with so much leeway to make up and so much to straighten out The Government has a formidable task before it. It must, and undoubtedly will, provide a stimulus to individual effort, which is, I suggest, the solution of many of our present problems. Butwe must exercise a little patience and give the Government an opportunity to put into operation the programme which has received the approbation of the people of Australia. Recovery takes much longer than decline. It is easier to go downhill than up. It is possible to break a leg in an instant, but it takes the victim weeks to recover. Similarly, with our national ills; they cannot be cured overnight and so we must exercise some patience.
– The honorable senator thinks prosperity is still around the corner?
– There is no prosperity where the honorable senator is. Australia is faced with the full responsibility of nationhood. We are face to face with a supreme test of our national character that must be met with dauntless courage and fortitude. Surely every other consideration fades into insignificance compared with our national safety. World affairs to-day are in a very unsettled state. The international position is becoming increasingly difficult and it must be apparent to even the most casual observer that the present situation is fraught with very grave and serious possibilities. We are passing through a phase of incalculable change, and the prevention of war is the greatest task facing mankind to-day. It is obvious that foreign affairs and defence matters require very careful and expert handling. We dare not be content with following the line of least resistance and of trying vainly to console ourselves that what happened in other countries cannot happen here. A well-planned stroke could reduce us very quickly to the position of other people in the world whose tolerance led to their undoing because they, like some of us, did not believe that the things that happened to other countries could happen to them. Unfortunately, they did.
– They happened under capitalism.
– I am sure that all of us, except possibly the honorable senator who has just interjected, desire peace and international justice and respect for the independence of all nations. I am glad to note that the Government is giving those matters of international moment a high priority and that no effort will be spared to produce peace along the lines that I have suggested. Every honest, humane person in the world, I should say, believes in disarmament and the outlawing of war, but nobody outside a lunatic asylum would suggest that one country should disarm while another country was strenuously manufacturing the implements of war. Without underestimating the grave responsibilities confronting the United Nations, I suggest that we should endeavour to bring about a world agreement on disarmament. But it is necessary that such an agreement should be policed. If the members of the United Nations were sincere in their advocacy of peace and the outlawing of war, surely none of them could reasonably object to other major nations policing such an agreement. For instance, why should not Britain and America maintain a permanent commission in Soviet Russia, while Soviet Russia had permanent commissions in America and in Britain, each with the purpose of ensuring that the world disarmament agreement was carried out in its entirety. There may possibly be some defects in that suggestion, but it is still worthy of consideration. It would undoubtedly be costly to put such a scheme into practice, but it would not cost one-millionth part of the amount that a war would cost. There is so much at stake, in any event, that cost should not be taken into consideration. In this connexion I welcome the Government’s proposal to establish a parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs. Such a committee will be informative to honorable senators and to the people generally, and will depart from the old practice of confining discussion and consideration of foreign affairs to a comparatively few people.
Turning to domestic matters I point out that Australia cannot be prosperous unless its primary indus tries prosper. Research reveals that the total factory wage bill in peace-time never exceeds the gross farm income, and that the factory wage bill fluctuates in proportion to the level of farm income. The comparatively low prices for farm products which occur periodically have the disastrous effect of eliminating some farmers as productive units. Low prices may prevent a farmer from meeting his obligations, from employing labour and from maintaining his farm at a productive level. They reduce the standards of farming and production, and force the farmer and his family to accept a low standard of living. They also have the effect of preventing farmers from paying anything like the standard wages that employers in other industries can pay, and that fact is definitely a drawback to our primary industries. One of the greatest problems confronting agriculture in Australia is that of overcoming the gluts that often follow shortages. Such gluts can be greatly reduced, or even abolished, in normal seasons by fixing minimum prices that would dissuade farmers from periodically abandoning production of a particular product.
– Then the honorable senator believes in prices control?
– I believe in guaranteed prices, a principle which is foreign to the honorable senator who has just interjected. Low prices cause shortages in normal seasons. Extreme climatic conditions also play their part in creating shortages, but the cause is mostly decreased production resulting from low prices. I suggest that the minimum price for a product should not be fixed so high as to induce farmers to increase production of that particular product and cause a glut, but must be high enough to save them from. ruin. Just as a basic wage is required for secondary industry so a basic price is also necessary for agricultural products. The means of estimating the minimum price for a product from time to time in different parts of the country should be similar to the method of computing the basic wage. Evenness of production would lead to better farming methods and greater stability in business, as well as a steadier demand at more even prices for agricultural products. The principle to which I refer was put into effect in America just prior to that country entering the last war, when minimum prices were fixed for certain primary products.
I take this opportunity to point out to the Senate the grave injustice that is being done to Tasmanian potatogrowers, who to-day are not receiving a fair return for their labour. Honorable senators opposite may laugh when I ask for a fair return for a worker. After all, nobody, not even honorable senators opposite, works harder than the farmer. New South Wales relies very considerably on Tasmanian potato-growers to supply its potato requirements, yet the Minister controlling prices in New South Wales has fixed the price for Tasmanian potatoes on the Sydney market at a level below the cost of production.
– What is the figure ?
– I have forgotten the exact figure, but if the honorable senator who has just interjected will see me later I shall prove to him without any doubt, if he has a modicum of common sense, that the prices paid for potatoes on the Sydney market are below the cost of putting them on that market. The honor able senator should know that digging, bagging, and other processes of the marketing of potatoes have all increased in cost, in some cases very considerably. If the Minister’s action is not an infringement of section 92 of the Constitution, then it is a subterfuge to get around the spirit of the Constitution, which provides for absolute freedom of trade between the States. The worst aspect of the whole matter is that the potato industry faces uncertainty and insecurity, and I am afraid that there will be a serious decline in that industry as a result. Many growers in Tasmania are halving their acreage and I can foresee that the recurrent potato famines that New South Wales experiences will, in consequence, be aggravated. Quite apart from that aspect, it is wrong to ask a worker to produce something at less than cost price. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture to confer with his colleague with a view to rectifying this grave anomaly.
J turn now to a matter relating to our system of election. I suggest that the Commonwealth electoral law has certain defects, not the least of which is the method of voting. The number of informal votes cast at the last general election was appalling. When we reflect that one out of every nine persons who voted cast an informal vote, we must conclude that something is wrong. I realize quite well that a number of votes were deliberately made informal by those, who cast them, but I believe that most of the informal votes were the result of honest mistakes brought about by a foolish law that compels electors to vote for all candidates. It is definitely wrong to compel electors to indicate a preference for a candidate in whom they may have no confidence whatever. At the recent general election Senator Courtice, for instance, was obliged to indicate a preference for a Communist party candidate in order to avoid invalidating hi9 vote. That system is wrong. Many people refuse to indicate preferences for candidates in whom they have no confidence and, consequently, render their votes informal. The Parliament has approved the system of proportional representation for the election of senators-
– The honorable senator voted for a Communist in Tasmania !
– Yes; because I was compelled to do so in order to cast a formal vote.
– What is wrong with that ? No Communist candidates had any chance of being elected.
– In any event, the principle to which I have referred is wrong. As the proportional representation system is generally approved, and as we have adopted it in principle, why do we not adopt it in its entirety? Why do we apply it in piece-meal fashion? The Parliament should adopt the HareClark system of proportional representation which provides that so long as an elector indicates his, or her, preference for three or more candidates, the vote ia valid. That system has been in use in Tasmania for more than 40 years.
– Is not the number of candidates required to be elected also an important factor ?
– Under the Hare-Clark system in Tasmania, where six candidates are required to be elected from each division at State general elections, a voter is obliged to indicate his, or her, preference for only three candidates.
– How could that system be applied in respect of the election of senators?
– That could be done quite easily, because, whilst it is not mandatory to do so, an elector may, after indicating his, or her, first three preferences, indicate a preference in respect of any of the other candidates, or for all of them if he so wishes. It is generally agreed that supporters of a particular party desire to vote only for candidates of that party without being obliged to indicate a preference in respect of candidates of other parties in whom, perhaps, they may have no confidence whatever.
– How many informal votes were cast at the last State election in Tasmania?
– Quite a lot, but not as many as were cast in that State at the recent election for the Senate. I ako urge that canvassing in the vicinity of booths on polling day should be prohibited. The practice of thrusting dozens of “ How to vote “ cards into the hands of voters as they arrive at polling booths is an insult to them. Under present conditions many voters are inundated with party political literature on their arrival at a booth, and, consequently, tend to become confused. For this reason, many aged people, when they are about to enter a polling booth to cast their vote, are practically reduced to a state of hysteria, and it is not surprising that many of them cast informal votes. That evil is aggravated at Senate elections when the names of as many as 25 candidates may appear on the ballot-paper. The Commonwealth Electoral Act prohibits the broadcasting of political propaganda within 48 hours of the opening of the polling booths. The object of that provision is to assist voters to arrive at a calm and dispassionate decision after considering the merits of the various candidates. I suggest that the same principle should be applied in respect of canvassing at polling booths. No canvassing whatever is allowed on polling day at State elections in Tasmania and the Government would be well advised to follow that example.
I am afraid that we have allowed ourselves to drift into a position where party politics rather than the best interests of the nation are our primary concern. We should show a little more tolerance and respect for one another, and give each other credit for honesty of purpose. Members of all parties seem to be obsessed by the idea of scoring off political opponents at every opportunity. When I was listening to honorable senators opposite asking questions in this chamber a few days ago I could not help feeling that they were not really eliciting information but were indulging in party political propaganda. After all, we have been elected as the representatives of the people and we should endeavour to represent not only those people who voted for us but also those who worked and voted against us. We should endeavour to represent all sections of the community. We are directors of this great Commonwealth, and, surely, it is our duty to do a job in the best interest of the nation. A company whose directors were constantly pulling against one another and endeavouring to score off one another would soon fail. Of course, we must have differences of opinion; otherwise we should stagnate. However, we should look at major questions through national spectacles rather than through the spectacles of any political party. Surely, when events throughout the world are so unpredictable it behoves us to work in the best interests of Australia. I am reminded of the biblical injunction -
In the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
We should endeavour to live up to that motto. Recriminations and abuse are useless and will not get us anywhere, because the interests of the State suffer when we continually attempt to gain party political advantage. Individually, we may believe that certain proposals placed before us are not in the best interests of the nation, and we may express our opposition to them. However, at the same time, we should give opponents credit for honesty of purpose. It is not right that we should impute ulterior motives to any one simply because he, or she, disagrees with our views. Should any honorable senator believe in the principle of socialization he has every right to advocate it, and I should not impute any ulterior motive to him on that score.
– The honorable senator used to advocate socialization.
– The honorable senator is wrong. I may disagree with the opinions expresed by members of the Opposition, but I respect their sincerity. All I ask is that they should respect the honesty of purpose of supporters of the Government. This is a free country. We enjoy freedom of speech so long as we exercise that freedom without interfering with the freedom of others and provided that our remarks are not of a /”evolutionary, subversive or blasphemous nature. Therefore, in the interests of Australia, we should exercise a little more tolerance and understanding towards each other regardless of party.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
, - I congratulate the GovernorGeneral upon his delivery of the Speech with which be opened the Nineteenth Parliament of the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, the Speech propounded the same old policy of the antiLabour parties. There is nothing new about this Government. It is composed mostly of the same old people who formed anti-Labour governments in the pre-war years. Of the new senators on the Government side, two were ardent supporters of the Fadden Government which was defeated when two former members of the House of Representatives, Mr. A. W. Coles and Mr. A. Wilson, crossed the floor to vote with the Labour party. The present Government has indicated, through the Governor-General’s Speech, that, like all other administrations of the same political complexion, it is imbued with the desire to destroy. Much has been made of the Government’s proposal to set up a Ministry of National Development. The activities of such a ministry would, of course, be centred on the great Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project. That project, I remind the Senate, although born of the Bruce-Page Government, was given life by the Chifley Labour Government. People travelled from all over Australia to be present when the first sod was turned near Adaminaby by the then Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Lemmon. The Liberal party, however, boycotted the ceremony. One wonders therefore when one hears all this talk about the Government’s developmental programme, whether it really intends to proceed with this great scheme.
A feature of the Governor-General’s Speech was the announcement of the Government’s intention to restore board control to the Commonwealth Bank. The effect of such a move can only be to retard the development of this country as it has always been retarded by antiLabour administrations. The Government proposes also to interfere in the internal management of the trade union movement. That is a Fascist proposal. I wonder whether any honorable senator opposite belongs to a trade union. I belong to two trade unions, from each of which I receive ballot-papers by post. I venture to suggest that if the Government forcibly introduced secret ballots into unwilling trade unions, the rank and file unionists would tear up the ballotpapers, as they did during the timberworkers strike.
I shall return for a moment to the proposed Ministry of National Development. Who is to be in charge of this important department? Its head is to be none other than the present Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey) who was once Australian Minister to Washington. I remember well that during Australia’s dark days, he deserted us to become British Minister in the Middle East. Subsequently, he was made Governor of Bengal, and I have yet to learn that he did a wonderful job in that capacity. So far as I am aware, millions of people continued to starve during his term of office. It is unlikely, therefore, that we can expect very much from the proposed new ministry.
Senator Guy has suggested an alteration of the Senate voting system. His proposal is that electors should not be compelled to vote for every candidate. With that I agree. The appointment of an international authority to police disarmament is also a splendid idea, but this is the first occasion on which I have heard the abolition of armaments suggested by any honorable senator opposite. The reason is, of course, the fear that atomic and hydrogen bombs will wipe out entire cities. Bombs are no respectors of persons. Therefore we hear now of this desire to stop the armaments race and appoint an organization to ensure peace by policing disarmament. We on this side of the chamber have always believed that there should be an international police force to ensure that the brain of man shall be used for the benefit of man instead of for his destruction. Therefore, we support Senator Guy’s proposal whole-heartedly.
I have spoken of the retarding of our national development by anti-Labour governments. I remind the Senate that the Royal Australian Navy was established by a Labour government against the fierce criticism of the then Opposition, members of which spoke of “ tin cans “ floating around Australia’s shores. It was a Labour government, too> that first established a nationally-owned line of steamers to carry Australian produce to ether countries ; and it was a Nationalist government that subsequently sold the vessels. The aircraft construction industry is now well established in this country. It owes its existence to Wing Commander Wackett, who had wide experience in aviation. The United Australia party discouraged Wing Commander Wackett; yet honorable senators opposite preach the virtues of private enterprise. Wing Commander Wackett told me that he had; to gather his staff from all over Australia. He established the organization which subsequently turned out the Wirraway aircraft. It is true that much finer aircraft have been produced in this country since then. Under Labour’s administration, Australian workmen haveproduced a variety of machines from the Beaufort bombers to jet-propelled fighters. Surely honorable senators opposite are aware, too, that it was left to a Labour government to build up the defences of this nation in the early days of the war.
The establishment of the shipbuilding industry in Australia is another Labour achievement. To-day, at Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and elsewhere, Australian shipbuilding yards are producing naval and civil craft of all descriptions. Senator Tate has expressed the opinion that housing in this country will never reach saturation point, but I hold the contrary belief. When work in the building trades is slackening, it will be possible to divert large numbers of workers to employment in the shipbuilding industry. During Labour’s term of office, the Royal Australian Navy was greatly strengthened. An aircraft carrier and submarines were brought to Australian waters. In the desert of South Australia, we established the Woomera rocket range, which, in the years to come will undoubtedly make a substantial contribution to our defence. The Labour Government also made rates of pay and working conditions in the peace-time armed forces attractive to recruits. To-day, men enlisting in any of the services have an opportunity to become specialists. Honorable senators opposite speak of a need for improved defences in this country, yet, when they were in office, in the early days of the war the only defence that Australia had against an aggressor was some barbed wire on our beaches and “ the Brisbane line “. Even after the war had started they insisted that there was no need to call men up for service.
– What did -John Curtin say when he took office in 1941 ?
– At the 1937 general election, John Curtin told this country that its best means of defence was air power; but what did the then Government do about it? It ignored him entirely. To-day, the Government speaks of conscripting man-power for the armed services. It proposes to put young men into military camps at a time when, as everybody knows, there is a shortage of labour even in essential industries. According to press reports, the age group to be called up is between seventeen and nineteen years. It is also reported that certain industries will be exempt. Why should this bc so? Are not all our industries essential ? I should like to know also whether the Government proposes that, in addition to attending camps, conscripts should be trained on Saturday afternoons when they should be enjoying their recreation. *
I assure the Government that the Senate will scrutinize closely all the legislation that is brought before it. The Senate will be truly a house of review.
Much has been said about the drift of population from country districts to the cities. Senator Tate spoke of the pioneers who went out into the country. Of course they did, and they “ dummied “ the land. They took over huge tracts of it. When the Labour Government had to tackle the problem of cutting up large estates for the settlement of ex-servicemen after World War II., what was the attitude of honorable senators opposite and their supporters? They did everything in their power to preserve the large holdings. When all the obstacles that they raised were overcome, they took the matter to the High Court, and it was found that, due to a technicality, the Commonwealth would have to leave land resumptions to the States. If honorable senators opposite had their way, no large estates would he cut up, because this Government represents the holders of large estates. The drift of population from the country to the cities is largely seasonal. When there are no crops to be planted or harvested, and no sheep to be shorn or crutched, there is no employment in the country districts for the sons and daughters of farmers, and. they go to the cities where they take temporary jobs. Country party members are determined, of course, that no industry shall be established in the northern and north-eastern districts of New South Wales that they represent in this Parliament. Population will be attracted to the country districts only if these districts can offer some of the amenities of life. That is a matter to which the Government could direct its attention, but unfortunately the Commonwealth Parliament has little authority in that sphere. It could, however, provide the necessary finance, and thus exercise some control over the expanding of that money by the States. If the money were to be expended upon projects for the supply of electricity to small hamlets and large country towns at prices that the people there could afford to pay, there would be some attraction for workers to remain in the country areas. I know of three farmers who desire that a supply of electricity should be made available to their farms, but they have been told that before that can be done they must lodge £700 with the electricity company and agree to pay ls. a unit for the electricity that they consume. It is time that an electricity commission was appointed in New South Wales and charged with the duty of ensuring that electric light and power shall be made available to country people at the same rates as those which obtain in the cities, even if, in order to achieve that objective, the city dwellers are required to pay more for their electricity than they are paying at present. After all, the country people are just as entitled to amenities as are the city dwellers, and something must be done for them. Doubtless the Government will argue that to do what I have suggested would be to indulge in socialism. I say in passing that this Government was successful at the last general election because of the assistance that it received from the newspapers of this country, which pumped out propaganda for it on almost any pretext. ‘ 1 ‘ *<i *
Much has been said about the Clarence River gorge scheme. I have heard that the Minister for Supply and Development, the Minister for Health (Sir Earle Page) and other Ministers are to make an aerial tour of the north coast of New South “Wales and of the Snowy Mountains region in order to see what can be done to prevent the north coast rivers from flooding the surrounding land periodically and to learn how the waters of the Snowy River can best be controlled. Not being an engineer, I do not know how the waters of the north coast rivers can be prevented from flooding valuable land periodically .and adversely affecting primary production, and I do not think that the Minister for Health or the Minister for Supply and Development knows what should be done to prevent it. Everybody knows that the area between Murwillumbah and Newcastle is subject to floods. The Chifley Government expended large sums of money to assist the people of that area to get their farms into production again after floods. It was during one period of flooding that the present Minister for Health put forward the Clarence River gorge scheme, which, he said, would prevent those floods. It is true that the scheme, if implemented, would prevent the flooding of Grafton and the lower Clarence district, but it would not prevent the flooding of Lismore, Kempsey or Maitland. What is required is that an eminent engineer should devise a plan for the conservation of the river waters and for the prevention of the flooding of some of our most valuable agricultural land.
During the recent flood at Kempsey, I informed the newspapers that a stock inspector,’ who is a most reliable officer had told me that as a result of that flood 5,000 cows had been lost. The present Minister for Health, supported by the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony), and Mr. Abbott, who was at that time the member for New England, criticized me for having done that. Sir Earle Page wrote to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, and said that by making that statement, which he described ,as calamitous, I had done a great disservice to the people of the Kempsey area. I had not made a statement; I had only repeated what a stock inspector had told me.. Mr. Chifley forwarded to me the complaint that Sir Earle Page had made.. When I had received another report, I told Mr. Chifley that the estimated loss of stock due to the flood was 7,000 head. Sir Earle. Page said that 15,000 head had been lost. My remarks were published in the press, and the newspapers of the north coast of New South Wales criticized me as one who was making statements that were damaging . to the committee that was collecting cattle there. As I have said, I had not made a statement but had repeated what I had been told by responsible officials. After I sent my reply, based upon authority, to Mr. Chifley, we heard no more from Sir Earle Page. When people have had their property damaged by flood waters,, their homes filled with silt and the contents of those homes destroyed or washed out to sea, it is a very sad state of affairs if some politician, for cheap gain, tries to make political capital from the disaster. I was not prepared to allow Sir Earle Page to get away with that, because I believed what I had been told by responsible officials. Those officials were loyal servants of 4he Department of Agriculture in New South Wales who serve the Government of New South Wales irrespective of its political colour. When Mr. Chifley persisted that I should reply to Sir Earle Page, I asked the Police Department to make a thorough survey of the district and to estimate the number of stock that had been lost. Sir Earle Page made his statement on the 21st September, 1949. On the 21st October, 1949, I was informed by the Police Department that the loss of stock was 3,285 cows and 2,09S calves, or a total of 5,383 head of dairy stock. The first report was that 5,000 head of cattle had been lost. The police, having made a check in every area, estimated that the loss was 5,383 head of dairy stock. Sir Earle Page had said that it was calamitous to suggest that the loss was 5,000. The total loss of stock, including cows, bulls, calves, heifers, pigs, fat stock and horses, was 7,562 head. It was filthy propaganda to try to score off people who had lost their all in order to make it appear that the Government was doing nothing to assist them. To-day land along the lower Clarence River- and at other places in the north of New South Wales is inundated. Some of our best dairying lands is under water. When the Labour party occupied the treasury bench in the Parliament there was a clamour to give financial assistance to flood victims. When the Chifley Government and the New South Wales Government made 40,000 available for that purpose and stated that more money would be forthcoming if necessary, the Maitland Mercury published a sheet, the flood waters having damaged its plant, which referred to “Two-bob Chifley” and “ Two-bob McGirr “. I must “ hand it “ to the members of the present Government. Although those waters have again flooded the land and valuable dairying country is out of production, they have not given even “ two bob “.
The workers of this country can expect nothing from this Government. The 5s. child endowment that it proposes to pay in respect of the first child in a family may have an effect upon the basic wage. If that be so, the Government will pay out a few thousand pounds a year to endow the first or only child but the workers will lose many millions of “pounds a year. I direct attention to the fact that the Arbitration Court adjourned the hearing of the present claim for an increase of the basic wage until after the last general election because the present Government parties had announced that if they were returned to office they would pay child endowment in respect of the first child. I am very concerned to know whether that endowment will have an effect upon the basic wage. If it will not have an effect upon it, why does not the Government propose to pay an endowment of 10s. for the first child as well as for the second and subsequent children? Is it intended that the first child shall be a half-price child? I do not expect the Government to pursue a policy that is designed to maintain full employment in Australia. It is a government of the same kind as that which sold the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, and it is unlikely to encourage government shipbuilding. Fortunately for the people of Australia, the Labour party, which believes in a fair deal for the people, has a majority in the Senate. The Labour party believes in looking after those who have not rather than those who have. It desires to give the people a sense of security and to ensure that the pangs of unemployment and hunger will not worry them night after night.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) S.28”. - I am fortunate in that this debate leaves me free to talk of some matters that I deem to be urgent and important, but which may not at first sight appear to be germane to the Speech that was delivered in this chamber by the representative of His Majesty the King, His Excellency the Right Honorable W. J. McKell. In that Speech, which was not all couched in the plainest of terms, it was made clear that the policy of the present anti-Labour Government contains much that we on this side of the chamber, sitting here as His Majesty’s properly constituted Opposition, must perforce challenge. In 1492 Columbus discovered America. Of course, I realize that no honorable senator present could have personal knowledge of what happened at that time, although perhaps I can remember world events further back than most honorable senators. Senator Maher actually discovered Queensland in December last, almost ten weeks ago! During his maiden speech in this chamber, he said that he had discovered that coal exists in Queensland. He suggested that it would be desirable to construct a railway line from Gladstone to the Callide coal-field in order to distribute that coal. Of course, it is common knowledge that considerable quantities of coal have been produced in Queensland for many years past. It is to the credit of that State which, fortunately, has had the advantage of a Labour government being in office for all but three years of the last 35 years, that the coal-miners have carried out their work with few stoppages. That is not so, however, in the other States. While Senator Maher was making his outburst in this chamber, other honorable senators, in accordance with tradition, refrained from interjecting. However, that was not his maiden speech in a parliament, because he was a member of the Queensland Parliament for a number of years. Because of the sagacity of the electors of Queensland, he always sat in opposition in the State Parliament.
During his long parliamentary experience he should have learnt something of parliamentary procedure, courtesy, and good manners. Perhaps the honorable senator could be excused for his outburst on the ground that he is fearful of what the Labour majority in this chamber may do. Other honorable senators opposite also have the shivers in that connexion.
– Perhaps the honorable senator is referring to his colleagues sitting in Opposition in this chamber ?
– He is afraid that he and the political party that he supports will be forced back into the wilderness from which they have so recently emerged. He became the heavy father of melodrama and made a pathetic appeal to Labour senators to be merciful. A Queensland press report accuses him of having asserted that the Senate now is autocratic. The report reads -
Dalby, Tuesday. - “The Senate, as constructed to-day, is an autocratic body “, Senator e. B. Maher said at a meeting of the Western Division of the Australian Country party to-day.
I trust that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) is listening to my remarks. The report continued -
Warning his supporters to be prepared foi an early Federal election, Senator Maher said it would he a travesty of democracy if the autocratically set-up Senate tried to harass, frustrate, or reject any legislation covered by the wide mandate the present Government had received from the electors.
– Hear, hear !
– I advise Senator Reid not to be too free with his u hear, hears “. Of what does Senator Maher complain ? I remind the Senate that, the great Mother of Parliaments gave to us “the bi-cameral system of government.
– Why is the Australian Labour party pledged to destroy it?
– Why did that party destroy it in Queensland?
– I excuse the new senator because he is nervous. It is true that the Queensland upper chamber was abolished.
– But only following a referendum.
– It was not abolished until we had had two subsequent elections in which the people were told that Labour would abolish the upper chamber when it had the opportunity to do so. That opportunity subsequently occurred and the upper chamber was abolished. I was a member of the “suicide squad” that abolished it. I claim that not one member of the Australian Country party or any other political party in Queensland would vote to re-establish that chamber. I point out that the State of Queensland is the only self-governing authority in the world that has ever, of its own volition, abolished the upper chamber. The bicameral system of government means that every law must be passed by both Houses of the Parliament. That is the law in the federal sphere. Legislation initiated in the other chamber is transmitted to the Senate for review and discussion. Until the Senate passes the legislation it cannot become law in this country. That means that practically 100 per cent, of the electors who cast an effective vote have agreed to that law. I am sorry that Senator Maher is not present in the chamber this evening because I should like to remind him that in this National Parliament in 1929 the political party that he supports did not hesitate to use its huge majority as a brake on the lower House. Consequently, honorable senators opposite should not be. surprised if we put the brake on when we get the opportunity to do so. We will surely do it. Of course we have not done it yet. What would Senator Maher have to growl about ? Of course I realize that he is very nervous about this matter. I was present at the official declaration of the poll in Brisbane a few weeks ago when the honorable senator made an exactly similar statement. Although I represent Queensland in the Senate I was not a candidate, and I thought that I had better not say anything at that time. But Senator Courtice very properly told Senator Maher in mild and gentlemanly terms where he “got off “. Senator Maher’s maiden speech in the Senate further emphasized his craven fear of the wrath to come. It may sooth his soul - and I hope that it does - and perhaps help to dry his tears if I assure him and all those trusting innocents abroad now sitting on the Government side of this chamber, so ably led by Senators McLeay and Spooner, with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity that I have, that there will be no abandonment in the least degree of Labour’s basic principles. Senator Maher’s colleagues have not yet recovered from the shock and surprise that they experienced on the 10th December last, when they learnt that the Chifley Government had been defeated and that they had to get on with the job. They are still shaking in their shoes because they are timorous and afraid. Doubtless they remember the words of the immortal bard, “William Shakespeare, who wrote -
The thief doth fear each bush an officer.
They sit to-night as in a condemned cell, awaiting in agony the coming of their inevitable doom. As is frequently said in the American courts of justice, “ I shall now let the case rest “.
I propose now to deal with a subject that has provoked world-wide discussion - the fate of democracy. The word “ democracy “ has been bandied about so frequently in this chamber, in the press, and over the air that it has become almost tiresome. I well remember the state of aff airs that existed in this country in 1941, when the enemy was literally at the gates of the northern part of Australia. When addressing a meeting of the Labour caucus the then Prime Minister, Mr. John Curtin, emphasized the seriousness of the situation. He claimed that the task before us was to prove that democracy could work. The result of the recent general election proves that democracy is working.
– Hear, hear!
– I advise the honorable senator not to be in too much of a hurry with his “ hear, hears “, because I may become nervous and unable to continue. Australia appealed to the people, exercising the widest franchise in the world, and the people in all six States came in their hundreds of thousands to the polling booths. By their votes they decided upon a change of government. That was democracy at work. At the moment honorable senators on this side of the chamber do not necessarily appreciate that verdict. I would be a perfect hypocrite if I suggested anything of the kind. However, perhaps I may be excused if I amplify that statement somewhat, because I know how the cards were stacked against Labour. Almost without exception the newspapers of this country, day after day and week after week, poured out poisonous propaganda, which succeeded in creating in the minds of many people feelings of prejudice and fear. That was the intention of the newspapers. Even the churches got into the fight and practically from every pulpit it was declared that the Labour Government had ruined the country and that another party had to be put into power. The radio did its best to help the newpapers to create the prejudice and fear which finally led to the nation’s verdict. The poll was taken and the decision was recorded. That is democracy at work, and it will go on working; but do not forget also that “ Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small “.
Labour was called to office in 1941. Senator Amour has effectively dealt with that phase, and I will not go into the reasons why the call came. They reflect no credit on the anti-Labour Government which was then in control of the nation’s destiny. We had no illusions about the immensity of the task we had undertaken, but we accepted the responsibility because we knew, as only Labour can know that if one is not feeling the bumps one is not moving. We also knew that one cannot go wrong when doing right. So we went ahead to do the right. Labour was then privileged to have as its leader that great Australian, John Curtin, and under his leadership we pursued the task. When he passed on to that great beyond from which no traveller ever returns the responsibility fell upon the shoulders of Joseph Benedict Chifley. He did not spare himself. His inspiring leadership, tremendous capacity for work and his abiding faith in the Australia he loves carried this great democracy through its darkest days. I should like to read here what a great Australian newspaper said about Mr. Chifley, who was Labour’s leader and the Prime Minister. This is not from a
Labour paper. It is from a great Australian newspaper, published in the interests of the opponents of Labour. It stated -
No Australian has ever passed out of the Prime Ministership with greater laurels than Mr. Chifley. He was one of the political architects of Australia’s unification in wartime and one of those who contributed immensely to the effectiveness of her war effort. And he helped to clear up the aftermath of conflict with a skill and a brilliancy that have made Australia extraordinarily successful in the transition from war to peace; in no country has there been less disturbance in this respect than in Australia under Mr. Chifley’s administration.
Much of his legislation will be recorded in history as the contribution of a small country to the furtherance of great human ideals. He has, moreover, succeeded in doing something that is unique in our political history; that is to say, he has converted his political opponents to his own conception of the welfare state, which Mr. Menzies has pledged himself to uphold.
It has been rumoured that Mr. Chifley might retire from active politics. We hope for Australia’s sake that this is not true. He has done more than any Labour man in history to give his party maturity and a sense of the importance of serving national as distinct from class interests. That leaves him with a great role to play.
He will accept defeat without rancour. Apart from the great issues of principle on which he is bound to differ from his successor in office, he will seek to uphold parliamentary democracy and to advance the unity of this nation.
He thus has a contribution to make to Australia’s future in the next three years - a contribution which, if less decisive than Mr. Menzies’s, is not less profound. And he can be relied upon to make it; for, like Mr. Menzies, he has a real and deep and lasting respect for the free institution of Parliament and all that it means.
No finer tribute has ever been paid by any Australian newspaper to a public man. Time marches on and Labour marches with it. Labour knows that poverty and hunger are the greatest enemies of human welfare and happiness, and Labour’s greatest concentration in times of war or peace is upon economic stability and social security. Labour will not be diverted from its course. We shall fight on for a brave new world, a world in which strife, anarchy and war will be replaced by cooperation, harmony and peace. By the inexorable effluxion of time this is probably the last time I shall be privileged to speak from this forum. I am retiring of my own volition. As one of my friends said after the last election, it was a good job I got out before I was kicked out. But I did get out. I was not a candidate for election and I shall finish my eighteen years term in this chamber on the 30th June. I will probably have a lot to say when I get into the placid waters of retirement.
Because this is a privileged forum and it is possible that it will be the last time I shall avail myself of the opportunity, I want to say this - and I want particularly to ask that the remarks I make shall be accepted, whether honorable senators likethem or not, as coming from my heart and as being entirely sincere. I believe we spend much pf our legislative time and opportunity doing things that are not really of great importance when one considers the unhappy position of the whole world to-day. I have previously said in this chamber that the time has come when we have to make up our minds that we cannot go on as we are going. We have to make a choice, as individuals and as a legislative authority, whether we want one world or none. There is no other alternative. I firmly believe that all men desire peace, but I know that all men do not desire those things which alone can make for peace. A distinguished Jewish rabbi who devoted his life to healing those who were too poor to afford medical aid once said, “ There is no such thing as Jewish mumps, Catholic measles or Protestant pneumonia “. That is true. Neither can there be any such thing as a Catholic peace or a Protestant peace, or peace for the West and not for the East. There has to be one peace for the whole world or none at all.
It is not necessary for me to attempt to detail the horrors of war. They have been recited from time immemorial by those who love peace, but I should like to draw attention to the fact that as the years pass we are going from one form of savagery to another and worse form. Germ warfare was outlawed in the recent war and other things must be outlawed too. Honorable senators will remember that the allied forces dropped a bomb on Hiroshima. This was the effect of one bomb - 78,150 people were killed, 37.425 injured, 13,983 missing. The total casualties were 129,558. That was with an atom bomb. The latest scientific horror is the hydrogen bomb. It is estimated that one small bomb of this type will easily exterminate 10,000,000 people. Another scientific writer whose statement was reproduced in the press during the last few days has said that it would be possible to wipe out, with one hydrogen bomb, the whole of the City of New York. That holocaust would mean the death of many more than 10,000,000 people. Can we sit here as responsible legislators knowing these facts and do nothing ? I stress that they are facts and not arguments. My remarks do not constitute any attempt on my part to gain supremacy in a debate. What motivates me in this speech is merely my earnest desire to submit these facts, because, if honorable senators on both sides of the chamber are not prepared to unite now in one great demand that there shall be no more war and that we shall establish, once and for all, a world peace, I fear for what may happen in the future. I should like to say here that we who fight for peace believe in peace. All of us here believe in peace, because there is not one honorable senator who would stand up and say that he or she does not so believe. The easiest possible way to put our beliefs into effect is to go on believing and set to work to convert others to our belief. Then the result that we all desire will at least be brought considerably nearer than it is to-day. All who fight for peace, and who stand for world peace, fight in good company. I shall quote briefly excerpts from the utterances of a few great men on this very problem. Einstein said -
Our defence is not in armaments, nor in science, nor in going underground. It is in law and order. I do not believe that we can prepare for war and at the same time prepare for world unity. To the village square we must carry the facts of atomic energy. From there must come the people’s voice.
Mr. Williams, the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Canberra, had this to say -
Over the last twenty years one hour in every three we have been at war.
A ghastly fact ! One hour in every three !
His statement continued. -
We cannot afford to throw the best of our young men of each generation over the precipice. A lasting peace now is vital to enable us to plan human life properly.
We are continuing to plan and to talk about preparedness. Great Britain has just announced that its expenditure on defence this year will be £780,000,000 sterling. The American Methodist Conference placed on record in 1946 the following statement, which I quote from the Washington Evening Star: -
We believe that world peace can be promoted best through the full exercise of our democratic procedures. Any system of compulsory training, however disguised, unnecessarily violates the principles of individual freedom and scraps the volunteer system which has successfully furnished peace-time security for the nation throughout its history. It seriously interrupts the normal education careers of youth and by placing them for long periods under military tutors makes possible the direct influence of the military mind upon the whole education system of our country. It ignores the radical change inevitably made in the tactics of war by the atomic bomb and will tend to lull the country into false security.
What that statement would have been had the members at that conference known about the hydrogen bomb we can only imagine. The Right Honorable Philip Noel-Baker, chairman of the British Labour party made this important statement at the 46th annual conference of the party -
If we could end the fear of war there is almost no enterprise beyond our power.
He went on then to enumerate the things that could be done. I need not attempt to do so here. If there was no occasion for the British Government to expend the proposed sum of £780,000,000 on defence, what a great deal could be done with that money in that wonderful country ! Money and effort are being expended in the sacred name of preparedness. Everybody listening to me knows that preparedness never prevented war. There was never a time in the world’s history when the nations were as prepared as they were in 1939, in which year World War II. began. I am sure that not one honorable senator will deny that to-day war not only threatens democracy but also threatens our civilization and, because of the hydrogen bomb, threatens even our very existence. To-day it is not alone the fighting men in the firing line who fight our wars. They make the great sacrifice but modern war is waged also on the civilian community. Men, women and little children are the sacrifices demanded and the sacrifices which have to be paid. That is contrary to the very fundamentals of Christian teaching. Was it not the great world Teacher who said -
Suffer little children to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.
I submit that He meant those words and that it is our job to see that we bring the Kingdom of Heaven to this earth at least for little children. We can do it if we realize the need for it. Who is there to-day who will say that there is no need for it? After World War I. we talked of building a new world fit for heroes to live in. I want a world fit for heroes, not for the heroes of war but for the greater heroes in the fight for peace. Every one of us here to-night may with very great advantage go home and give this matter serious consideration. We cannot argue that we are making the world fit for heroes or fit for little children. To-day Senator Tate made an appeal for an expansion of our population. We are denouncing birth control; we are bringing immigrants into this country; we are establishing national fitness councils; we are organizing youth centres. To what end ? All the time the argument is advanced that unless we have more people here somebody else will take our country. It is said that we must bring more immigrants here for defence and that we must have the youth of the nation physically fit. For what? Because we stand for a nation of people with healthy bodies and therefore healthy minds? No! But in order that we may be ready for the next great conflict. Mr. Williams said and I repeat it, that we dare not ever again throw our youth over the precipice. I say now with all the emphasis that I can command that we are the guilty parties, we are the people responsible. There must be no more war and there need not be if we, as legislators, and all the governments of this country and elsewhere will only recognize what to-day is an indisputable fact - that preparedness for wars brings wars but never prevents them.
– The honorable senator ought to address those remarks to Russia.
– By such remarks honorable senators opposite only display their lack of feeling and common sense. They may laugh at ray views or they may stifle their better nature if those views seem to appeal to them. They may try to allay their fears and to satisfy themselves that all will be well, but there is only one thing that is worth while remembering, and that is that in some way a solution of this problem will be found. The immortal Abraham Lincoln, whose fight for the liberation of the slaves in America honorable senators will recall, said -
With malice towards none–
Let that phrase, with malice towards none, sink in - with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in.
I know that honorable senators opposite, who constitute the present Government, will have work to do in connexion with other and more mundane matters that will arise from hour to hour, day to day, and month to month; but I desire to remind them that when they have done all that, have given the people better conditions of life and have contributed to their security and welfare, they will still not have solved the problem posed by the fact that one hydrogen bomb will destroy it all in one sorrowful second of time.
I shall conclude by reading something that that great British author, Edward Carpenter, wrote. His words were -
He that will be servant of all, helper of most, by that very fact, becomes their lord and master. Seek not your own life, for that is death. But seek how you can best and most joyfully give your own life away - and every morning for ever, fresh life shall come to you from over the hills.
Let us seek that morning of which Carpenter speaks. Let us look beyond the hills and beyond this Parliament, into our own heart and our own soul. Let us ask ourselves, “ Are we ready for universal peace ? “ If we, as individuals, are ready for peace, let us ask ourselves the further question, “ Are we ourselves resolved to go forward in the work that we have in hand at the moment, and finish it ? “ Let each of us do his bit, according to his opportunities, to bring in that new life, which, Carpenter says, will come to us from over the hills. All members of this Parliament are privileged individuals. We have opportunities that are not given to the great community of men and women outside our legislative halls. Let us go on and do that work and usher in, as we can and must, a new life in which there shall be one great new world in which war and all the things that cause war shall be outlawed. That is the only possible world in which all mankind will be free from the fear of want and of war and shall live together in universal peace and harmony. “That job appears to be too tremendous, but let us get on with it. I appeal to honorable senators to realize their personal responsibilities as I have attempted to-night to realize my own responsibilities in making these remarks. It is impossible to think that we can go on as we are to-day when there is unrest not only in Australia and all English-speaking countries, but also everywhere else. The world is in a state of continuous turmoil because of the fear of war and, in the domestic sphere, because of the fear of want. We who live in this age enjoy a wonderful opportunity and responsibility, and I hope that some day, somewhere, somehow, we shall accept that privilege and that responsibility.
– In supporting the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech ably delivered by the representative of His Majesty, Eng George VI., I join with all honorable senators who have already spoken in this debate in their expressions of loyalty to the Throne. The people of Australia were greatly perturbed when the Royal visit that was proposed to be made in 1949 had to be postponed; but we now rejoice that Hie Majesty’s health has improved to such a degree that it is probable that he will visit Australia in 1952. I hope that should he do so, he will be accompanied by Queen Elizabeth and other members of the Royal Family. We enjoy a great privilege in our membership of the British Empire. I believe that it is the earnest wish of every Australian that this great Empire of ours that has done more for the world and brought more good to it than any other nation has done will continue to hold the esteem and respect of all other nations.
The Senate, as it is now constituted, occupies a pre-eminent place in public affairs in Australia. Undoubtedly, the attention of the people will be centred upon all our deliberations, because I believe that, as the framers of the Constitution intended to be, the Senate has now become the more important chamber in the national legislature. Every honorable senator has the duty to maintain the highest traditions of the Senate. The people will observe, analyse and carefully weigh our deliberations. We are entrusted with three great responsibilities: First, to safeguard State rights; secondly, to think and act nationally; and thirdly, to act constitutionally. At the recent general election only three of the candidates of the party to which I belong were elected to the Senate to represent South Australia compared with four of our opponents. I have been elected to this chamber because of the new system th:: operated in connexion with that election. Senator O’Flaherty, who was the No. 1 candidate for the Labour party received the highest number of first preferences. However, six years ago he had a majority of 60,000 votes, whereas at the recent election that majority was reduced to 10,000. All of my colleagues certainly did their best to wrest the honorable senator’s lead from him, and we shall continue to endeavour to displace him. Senator O’Flaherty said -
I am a socialist, and from every platform I proclaim that I am a socialist.
– And I have always done so.
– I should like to know whether the honorable senator upholds his own special brand of socialism or whether he supports the socialism of Plato, More, Rousseau, Marx, or Lenin. I have heard it said that under nationalism all business in a State is> run at a profit, but under socialism the State runs all business at a loss. The name of Mr. Playford, the Premier of South Australia, has been mentioned in this debate. Incidentally, his Government was returned last Saturday in the State Parliament with a handsome majority. One honorable senator said that the Playford Government had socialized the Leigh Creek coal-field. That is a very excellent undertaking, and the people of South Australia know the circumstances that actuated the Playford Government in taking control of it. However, I do not admit the contention that the Leigh Creek coal undertaking is an example of socialism except, perhaps, that it fits the usual definition of socialism in that a loss is incurred in the winning of every ton of coal on that field. The State Government had excellent reasons for taking control of Leigh Creek, and its success is a tribute to Mr. Playford, his Government, and the Australian worker. It is an example of the happy co-operation that can be established between management and labour. Perhaps, Senator (^Flaherty’s brand of socialism differs from that of Morelli, who once said that avarice was the one vice in the world, and that if people had no property there would be no pernicious consequences. However, I believe that Senator 0’Flaherty upholds the principle of private ownership. I recall that on one occasion when he was delivering one of his characteristic homilies, he said that he had a property of 2,000 acres situated within 17 miles of Adelaide, and that it was a better farm than I had, or was ever likely to have. Even a good old “ Nat “ would not be ashamed of owning such a property.
– I have sold it.
– It is very probable that the honorable senator received at least £30 an acre, or a mere total price of £60,000 for that property. Interest on that sum at a rate of 2 per cent, would yield an income of £1,200 a year. On that basis, our population of 7,000,000 would require assets to the value of £420,000,000,000 to enable us all to be equal socialists, and from those assets our total national income would amount to approximately £S,400,000,000 annually.
– The price of land would not be as high as that mentioned by the honorable senator.
– In 1919 the ruling price of land in that area was £30 an acre, and I suggest that the average price would now have risen to at least £60 an acre. I leave the honorable senator to work out that sum for himself. .Socialists are more concerned about dividing existing wealth than about creating wealth. Even now they are forming plans to divide the loot when they take office again. How ever, should they do so, who will distribute the loot, because under socialism all will be equal and there will be no authority to which any one can appeal? Under socialism, the worker would not .be permitted to strike, or to change his job, because there would be only the one master, the State. British justice has always stood for the right of the individual to choose his job, and we are prepared to fight for the retention of that right. Indeed, that was one of the issues at the recent general election.
Senator Collings has just expressed some very fine sentiments. I propose to deal with one aspect of his remarks. I believe that every Australian loves his native land. If that be true, it is of vital importance that he should be able to look to the National Government to fulfil its obligation to establish a sound defence scheme in which responsibility will be shared by all. Our slogan in this respect should be “ One in, all in “. The great trade unions of Australia believe that membership of trade unions should be compulsory. Trade unionists say that voluntary unionism is a failure, and that no person should be permitted to benefit from the gains that the unions have made unless he, or she, is a member of a trade union. If that contention be correct, all trade unionists in Australia must logically support the principle of universal military training. We must be assured that any scheme of universal training that we undertake shall be based on sound and sensible foundations. We must avail ourselves of the great store of knowledge possessed by those who served in the Navy, Army, Air Force and the Women’s Army during the recent war.
– Would the people have the opportunity to exercise their own choice or would they be compelled to serve under such a scheme?
– I have made it clear that such a scheme would be a form of national service. I do not think that the honorable senator is averse to performing his duty as a citizen. He believes in compulsory unionism, and I do not think that he would shirk his duty so far as national defence is concerned. Many outstanding men and women who are skilled in the arts and possess vision, courage and character are available to contribute to the success of such a scheme. T place much emphasis upon character. If we are to have any scheme of military training at all, we shall require the services of men with the highest ability and character to take charge of our young men and women under conditions which will ensure that they will be trained to be good Australians.. Let us comb the ranks of our ex-service men and women, and obtain the services of the best of .them to direct and carry out this training. Let us encourage young Australians to follow in the traditions of some of the great men who have served this country so well. Names that come readily to my mind include those of LieutenantGeneral Rowell and LieutenantGeneral Berryman. It was my privilege to serve in our land forces, and it is for that reason that I mention the names of two distinguished soldiers. I have no doubt that men who served with the Royal Australian Air Force or the Royal Australian Navy can also call to mind the names of great Australians who were members of those services. Lieutenant-General Rowell and Lieutenant-General Berryman are brilliant men who contributed substantially to the defence of this country. Lieutenant-General Berryman has probably seen more front-line service than any other high-ranking officer in Australia. It was my privilege to serve under him as a ranker. Unfortunately, I have not had an opportunity to carry on the friendship that we established in those days. He came to us in 1917 in the darkest days in France, as, I believe, the youngest major in the Australian Imperial Force. I pay a tribute to his gallantry, courage and character. He is a great man and a . great Australian. In World War II. he built upon the foundations that he laid in the first world war, and became one of our greatest generals. I could wish for nothing better than that m.y sons should receive the benefit of his guidance. Under such men as LieutenantGeneral Berryman and LieutenantGeneral Rowell we could be assured of a training scheme that was just and generous. It pains me to hear men who nave had no experience of service in the forces speak -of our military leaders as “ sabre-rattlers “ and “ swashbucklers “, and I sometimes wonder why men of our own age who are not themselves exservicemen, seem a little unfriendly to returned soldiers. Could it be that we are a living reproach to them? That is. the only explanation that I can offer to their attitude. We have never questioned any man’s right to choose his own course. We have never asked any man why he did not enlist. We do not know why he did not enlist, but we do know that he is missing the quiet satisfaction that comes to a man after he has served his country.
– The Government has not a monopoly of returned soldiers in this Parliament. There are exservicemen on this side of the chamber as well.
– I should hate to think that I ever believed that we had a monopoly of anything. This is a serious matter, and I am merely stating what I believe to be correct. In two great wars we have seen the tragic loss of young lives. I have seen the great sadness of parents bereft of sons. It has been my melancholy duty on occasions to inform them of their loss. It is not a great comfort to them to know that the glories of their boys even now cry across the land. But the greatest loss in war is not the dead body ; it is the loss of fathers and potential fathers who had a right to bring children into this world - the loss of unborn generations of fine children who, had they lived, would have provided a wonderful levening in this country. All men desire immortality, but they can achieve immortality only through their children.. For the sake of the young lives in this country, let us ensure that our defences shall be adequate. Let us put defence upon a national basis. If our defence is sure, then we can proceed to raise our standard of living.
Almost every honorable senator who has spoken in this debate has touched upon rising prices and the decline of the standard of living. All have stressed the need for increased production, particularly of the basic requirements of the people. Our standard of living has improved in the last ten years and the Government aims to raise it further. Bearing that in mind, it is gratifying to realize that a vigorous policy of development both in rural and secondary industry is contemplated. Vision of the future will influence our plans which, of necessity, must be flexible and readily adjustable to circumstances as they arise. There are many urgent demands, such as food supplies and housing, which require immediate attention and call for the full utilization of our available resources. Increased production of meat, fresh and dried fruits, and dairy products, I suggest, must come in the settled areas which are already served by transport and communication facilities. As much as I agree with the wisdom of decentralized development, we must concentrate on already settled lands to produce the goods that we require not in 50 years’ time, but to-day, to-morrow and the day after. What impediment is there to increased production? First, primary producers cannot obtain essential materials such as wire, wire netting, galvanized iron, and water piping. A 40-hour week cannot meet our needs. The Australian worker is equal to any in the world, but he cannot cram 44 hours’ work into 40 hours, as the majority of the Australian people know. Anybody who deliberately slacks on his job lowers the standard of living of his fellow workers. The civil strife that is rampant in Australia to-day is a tragic process from which the aged, the infirm, and women and children suffer most. The preaching of the doctrine that there should be no peace in industry and no harmony between employer and employee is wicked, cowardly, and traitorous, because it is forcing men, women and children to live under conditions which should not be tolerated. My remedy for the present state of affairs will not be popular. I say, “ Let us have a little bit of work “.
– Well, why not go right ahead?
– It would give me the greatest pleasure if honorable senators opposite were to visit my farm during a parliamentary recess. I am sure that my activity would make them the happiest men in the world. If we all take off our coats and get to work we shall get out of our present troubles very quickly. I am not pointing at any particular section of the community. I am referring to all sections of it. To-day, we are all having a glorious loaf, just drifting along, hoping for the 1 , est. There is only one thing that will improve our standard of living and give to men and women the many things that they desire, and that is work. Honorable senators opposite ask why the £1 does not do as much for us to-day as it did in past years. The answer is because we do not do as much for the £1. By far the greatest measure of employment in this country is provided by industries in which between one and one hundred operatives are engaged. There is a substantial measure of harmony between the small employer and his employees and I should like this system to continue, because from small businesses many men and women, by their thrift and industry, branch out. into undertakings of their own. That is a progressive development. The small business organization is quick to anticipate the needs of the people. It readily supplies their wants. Industrial peace must be preserved in those undertakings. When a customer enters a store he selects the goods that he wants, for quality and cost. In effect, he is selecting the worker that gives him the best value or, in other words, he is the employer choosing his employees.
In spite of inadequate supplies of materials, I believe that we can push on with our plan to increase production in our settled areas. I remind the Senate, however, that when we increase the fertility and carrying capacity of land by means of water conservation and irrigation, pasture improvement, and better farm management, we also increase the incidence of diseases and pests to which crops and live-stock are subject. To counter this development I believe that we should encourage young men and women to train as veterinary scientists and field workers. At present, training in veterinary science in Australia is confined to the University of Sydney. Would it not be possible to establish a faculty of veterinary science at the New England University College at Armidale? I suggest Armidale because it is the centre of the cattle industry, and is not far from some of our best sheep country. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization already has a research station in the district. I believe that young men and women who are studying veterinary science should be able to gain practical experience. I suggest that Armidale would be the best place at which to establish a veterinary faculty, but the decision must be left to (lie appropriate authorities. It is envisaged that Canberra will be the seat of the finest medical faculty in the southern hemisphere. It is my desire that Australia should possess one of the finest veterinary faculties in the world, and one which would attract not only Australian students but also students from New Zealand and South Africa. To illustrate the benefits that veterinary science can confer upon us, I point out that the eradication of cattle tick would be worth at least £3,000,000 to Australia and would also enable us to increase our exports of beef. There are many other diseases and ailments of stock that adversely effect meat production, and the treatment of those diseases can be undertaken only by skilled men. The poultry industry offers great opportunities for trained veterinary workers, perhaps greater than those that are offered by any other primary industry. The use of .skilled veterinary officers would result in increased production and lower production costs.
Some of the statements that have been made in the course of this debate have puzzled me. We have been told that the effect of the payment of child endowment is to decrease the basic wage. If that be true, why did’ the Chifley Government during the last general election campaign proclaim throughout the length and breadth of Australia that it had increased child endowment from 5s. to 10s. a week? T would like the payment in respect of the first child to be 10s., and not 5s. a week, but I would not provide in the legislation that that payment should not be taken into consideration by the Arbitration Court in determining the basic wage. The Arbitration Court is well fitted to make a decision upon that matter, and it is not the function of any government to instruct it as to what it should or should not do. I have been told that in respect of each new Australian who arrives in this country the Commonwealth is involved in an expenditure of approximately £1,000. To pay child endowment in respect of the first child at the rate of 10s. a week for sixteen years would cost £436, and the children in respect of whom the allowance had been paid would have a good Australian outlook and would be able to speak English. Our inability to speak .many foreign languages and the Inability of the new Australians to speak English is a great stumbling block in that it reduces the economic value to us of the new Australians who are coming here.
One honorable senator stated that since 1907 the basic wage has increased by only 4s. a week. That statement requires some explanation. How does the honorable senator reconcile it with the Labour party advertisements that were displayed during the last general election campaign and which stated that the people’s savings had increased considerably? If a worker saved 4s. a week, he would be saving at the rate of only £10 a year. The increase of savings bank deposits and the statement of the honorable senator cannot be reconciled. Labour held office for the eight years between 1941 and 1949. It is no wonder that it was defeated at the last general election if the best that it could do during that time was to secure an average annual increase of the basic wage of, at the most, 6d. a week.
An honorable senator who referred to strikes pointed out that a trade union may have city members and country members. He said that if the city members of the union desired to strike, it would take too long to obtain the opinion of country members by means of a ballot and that strikes were, therefore, called on the decision of the city members. Does that mean that country unionists have no say at all in the making of decisions to strike?
In our deliberations we must apply the test of what use we can make of our wealth and possessions. Our real wealth is our labour. That is the greatest asset that any country has. We must utilize it to the best advantage so that every person in Australia can earn a living, save money and own property. The people have instructed us to govern this country in a way that will enable us to achieve that objective. We have the essential raw materials to feed, clothe and house ourselves. The greatest problem of the United Kingdom is to feed its population. If we could produce more food for Britain, the expenditure by Britain of dollars to purchase food from the United States of America would be reduced. Fewer dollars for British food would mean more dollars for Australia 10 purchase petrol, trucks, tractors and other commodities that we must have to increase our agricultural production so that we may feed not only Australia, but also other countries. The quoting of statistics does not help to provide the food, clothes and houses that we need. With regard to housing, the price of the iron ore from which steel is made is the same as it was 30 years ago, and the royalty upon the timber that is grown in our forests has increased only slightly. The cost of basic raw materials has not risen to any degree, but the cost of turning those commodities into finished articles has increased considerably. I am delighted to learn that the Government has decided to reduce import duties upon the articles that we must import to enable us to implement our housing programme. The sparrows, swallows and magpies are doing a better job to house themselves than we are doing, and, what is more, they are using local materials. I am very sorry that we are being forced to import prefabricated houses, because I should prefer them to be manufactured in Australia. Let us get on to the job of housing our people. The persons who suffer most from the present shortage of houses are the workers. But because we are afraid that to do so might cost us a few votes, we are hot game enough to say, “ Let us get to work “. We are not producing enough goods to satisfy our needs. The- doctrine that increased production may lead to unemployment is being spread, but I do not think that anybody need be out of a job during my life-time, and I should like to live for as long as Senator Collings has lived, because, after all, this is not a bad world. We shall not finish the tasks that lie before us or see our people housed satisfactorily if, because we fear that we may lose a few votes by doing so, we are afraid to say, “ Let us get to work “.
Irresponsible employers and irresponsible employees are causing the industrial unrest that exists in this country at present. We on this side of the chamber will do our utmost to curb irresponsible employers who besmirch the name and honour of decent men, and it is up to honorable senators opposite to endeavour to control irresponsible employees. ‘ One difficulty is that the Labour party, which for- many years told the workers that they were down-trodden, discovered when it became the master from whose decision there was no appeal, that what it had advocated was wrong, but was npt game enough to admit its error publicly.
The people of Australia have approved of the bold and progressive policy outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech. It is the duty of the Senate to translate that policy into action. That task will provide scope for every senator to apply his talents to the problem of improving the well-being of all our people. May we justify the confidence of the electors and, in all our deliberations, uphold the dignity of the Senate.
Senator WEDGWOOD (Victoria) [9.5S). - In rising to make my maiden speech in this chamber I am filled with trepidation because I know that many fine men and women have contributed to the debates that have taken place in this Parliament. I desire to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty to His Majesty the King that have been voiced and to congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. To the whole of the British peoples, the Crown is a symbol of unity, and we are proud that its wearer is a simple, godly, family nian. We look forward with joy and anticipation to the day when, for the first time in the history of Australia, the King will stand upon Australian soil.
I was heartened to hear honorable senators opposite say that every piece of legislation that is for the good of the community will be judged on its merits. That is what the people of Australia are looking for. I hope the Senate will pardon my presumption, as a new member, in saying that the most trenchant criticism of the last Parliament was directed not at the legislation it enacted but to behaviour in debates. The Parliament of the Commonwealth is, or should be, the highest debating forum in the country, and the people expect its members to uphold its dignity and traditions. It is our responsibility to ensure that they shall not be disappointed.
I should like to congratulate the Government on several of the matters contained in His Excellency’s Speech. The first was his reference to the establishment of a cabinet sub-committee to review pensions and allowances paid to exservice men and women and their dependants. This is long overdue. The military or war pension is a disability pension. It is given to men and women as compensation for services rendered to their country, and it is paid also to their widows and dependants to enable them, in some small measure at best, to obtain the material things their husbands and fathers would have given them had they lived. I consider that it is the responsibility of the remainder of the community to see that those who suffered in the nation’s service are not disregarded in its days of prosperity. Since 1939 it .has been estimated that the increase of the national income is 117 per cent, per head of population. Who is more fitted to receive a fair share of that prosperity than the men and the women who risked their lives to defend this country? I was also pleased to learn that the Government intends to investigate anomalies in connexion with the provision of pensions to the aged, widows and invalids. I consider that grave injustices exist in these provisions. People who have been thrifty are to-day suffering because of the limitation of the means test. It has been computed that at the present time it takes an investment of £7,000 at the ordinary rate of government loan interest for a . man and his wife to obtain an income equivalent to the age pension. Young people are realizing this fact, and, very unfortunately, we are getting in our community a conditioning of mind which is debarring young folk from entering into voluntary superannuation schemes. They realize that many thousands of superannuated people are being penalized. Because they have been fiercely independent and frugal, they and others are being debarred from drawing a full age pension. I know m woman who has been supporting her family since she was 23 years of age. Because for many years she has held as n reserve fund a £200 insurance policy that her husband left her, she is debarred from drawing a full pension. As we penalize thrift we are in danger of discouraging it.
I hope also that some attention will be paid to the pensions and allowances paid to sufferers from tuberculosis. It may not be known to all honorable senators that the special allowance paid from the National Welfare Fund to sufferers from pulmonary tuberculosis, which is an addition to the invalid pension, is not paid to patients who are suffering from tuberculosis in other parts of the body. In order to receive a special allowance from this fund one needs to have a tuberculous infection in a particular part of the body. This is anomalous. I sincerely hope that the Government, in consultation with the Premiers and Ministers for Health in all States will at a very early date consider the position of the aged and infirm members of the community. This matter is crying out for attention. As I represent the State of Victoria I shall speak of statistics for that State. I presume that what exists there exists also in the other States. In Victoria there are 195,000 persons of pensionable age. Of those, about 75,000 are drawing age pensions. Fifteen thousand others are receiving invalid pensions. The Rountree report, published in England in 1946, showed that it was estimated that about 95 per cent, of the people who reach pensionable age are provided for in private dwellings, whilst the other 5 per cent, need institutional care. That is only a very conservative estimate. If ‘those figures are applied to Victoria it means that that State needs 10,500 beds at least to accommodate its aged and infirm people. At present Victoria has only 4,482 beds available, and a further 700 to 800 are being provided for by extensions and the building of additional institutions. This is very inadequate for our needs. Victoria is still only half-way to the goal. I know that honorable senators are constantly in touch with cases which are pitiful in the extreme. I spent practically the whole of last weekend arranging’ accommodation for an 89-year old blind man who had, for sixteen years, been looked after by his wife, who to-day is at death’s door. It is not only a matter of money. We are rather prone to think that because we supply pensions to people that is all they need. When people reach the autumn of their lives they need care and kindly attention. I suggest that in any consideration given to the general matter of health, the matter of these aged people should be very carefully investigated. I could relate many instances of old people whose relatives are desperate, and who wonder whether certification, or the charging of the person as a neglected person, would be the answer to their problem. I contend that the character of a nation can be easily determined by its attitude to its young, its brave, and its aged. In conclusion I remind the Senate of the wish expressed by His Excellency that Divine Providence would guide the deliberations of this Parliament. I believe that each member of it has a responsibility to himself, to the Australian nation, and to his God. It is to search his or her heart diligently for new ideas that would transform this Parliament and this land. No one race, no one section, no one class, can dominate the rest. We would be wise, at the beginning of this Nineteenth Parliament, if we forgot the histories, hatreds, and prejudices of the past, and looked to the future. If we do that, we will establish the brave new world that Senator Collings spoke about - the brave new world we all long for, that so few of us work for, but for which our bravest and best have died.
Senator SCOTT (Western Australia) [10.1.1 1 . - I, too, wish to express my regret that Their Majesties the King and Queen and the Princess Margaret will be unable to come to Australia in its jubilee year. However, I shall look forward to co-operating in extending a welcome to Their Majesties should they visit this country in 1952. I congratulate the Government on its far-sighted policy to establish a Ministry of National Development, in order to develop the resources of Australia. For that purpose the Government proposes to borrow about £200,000,000. Interest and sinking fund payments will be met from the proceeds of the petrol tax. For years past a number of boards and local authorities have found that they cannot finance the upkeep of their roads in rural areas. I suggest that some of that money should be earmarked to enable local authorities to construct roads in those areas. To-day those authorities are much worse off than they have been for many years past. Many honorable senators will remember that twenty years ago produce of all kinds was carried by horse-drawn vehicles and bullock-waggons. To-day there travel over our roads fast moving motor vehicles carrying loads up to 20 tons. Frequently they travel at speeds of 50 miles an hour. Our roads have deteriorated to such a degree that it is almost a matter of impossibility for the local authorities, particularly in Western Australia, to maintain feeder roads to the railheads. When the new ministry has been formed and money is available I should like to see a fair proportion of it applied to the construction of water conservation schemes. To-day 98 per cent, of the water that flows down our rivers empties into the sea. We should take steps to conserve much of that water during the winter months for use in connexion with the growing of fodder in the summer month,?. As some honorable senators are probably aware, a limited irrigation system has been in operation in Western Australia for about fifteen years. It has proved a wonderful success in connexion with closer settlement schemes, and the improving of the standard of food supplied to the cities. If additional irrigation schemes are provided Australia will be able to carry a much larger population than at present. The Labour Government started a policy of immigration on which I congratulate it. I believe it is essential to industry and production in Australia that we should have a vigorous migration policy and I am pleased that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) has announced that the Government intends to bring in about 200,000 immigrants in this coming year. I hope that many of those people will be put on to construction work in the rural areas. Senator Katz made the statement that it was this Government’s policy and intention to have a reservoir of unemployed. I cannot understand the honorable senator making that statement after hearing the Governor-General’s Speech, in which it was declared that this Government would spend £200,000,000 on development. The interest and sinking fund on that amount will be paid out of the petrol tax. The
Labour Government with its donation to State governments and local authorities of £6,500,000 after collecting about £16,500,000 from petrol tax contributed far more to the pool of unemployed than has the present Government. It is the intention of this Government to have full employment and it is here to develop the country. The Labour Government cannot take much credit for full employment. This country has never had more favorable conditions. Production is high and prices are the best ever recorded. Any government would have full employment in those circumstances. It is by creating the Ministry of National Development that we will be able to sustain full employment. When the £200,000,000 is spent we hope to borrow another £200,000,000 and continue developing Australia so that we can maintain a policy of full employment.
On the question of proportional representation, Senator Hendrickson and Senator O’Flaherty said that the Labour party had a mandate from the people to govern Australia. I presume those honorable senators were speaking of this chamber. My comment is that their mandate is practically extinct. It wa3 obtained in 1946, before the Labour party endeavoured to nationalize the banks. Without proportional representation, the honorable senators would not have had an opportunity to make the statements to which I have referred. If we had retained the previous system of electing senators, the Labour members who are smiling so happily on the other side of the chamber would not be here and we would have complete control. I have heard much in this chamber about petrol rationing. When I came into this Parliament I had the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator McLeay) sitting close to me. At question time honorable senators opposite wanted to know how he got sufficient petrol to lift petrol rationing. Senator Hendrickson said there was ample petrol after June, but because of panic buying, large quantities were conserved. He said that he knew of farms in the Corowa district where hundreds of drums of petrol were stored. Those hundreds of drums were held outside Corowa simply because the Labour Government, after losing a case in the
High Court in June over petrol rationing, endeavoured to stampede the country into buying petrol. In many newspapers it was reported that the then Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) had stated specifically that there would not be sufficient petrol in Australia to allow the farmers to harvest their crops. Panic buying was forced on the people by the Chifley Labour Government. When the present Government got into office it was able to lift petrol rationing and we were assured to-day, and last week by the Minister controlling fuel, that there are ample stocks of petrol in Australia. The questions asked about petrol are getting fewer and fewer as the days pass. Do honorable senators think the Labour Government wanted to bring extra petrol into this country or to increase the dollar reserve? Since the war, the Labour Government has made no effort to get extra dollars. A study of gold production in Australia - 70 per cent, of it is produced in Western Australia - shows that in 1939-40 the output was 1,645,000 oz. At the height of the war, in 1944-45, production fell to 657,000 oz. In 1947, following the conclusion of the war and an increased price, production rose to 937,000 oz., but in 1948 it fell to 890,000 oz. This followed the establishment of the International Monetary Fund in 1946 and the fixation of the gold rate at 35 dollars per oz. and was influenced by increased costs of production. If the Labour Government had been interested in getting gold, it could have increased the price and taken gold production back to the’ 1939-40 level. That would have given Australia about 1,600,000 oz., which was worth about £16,000,000 in 1939, but to-day would be worth £24,000,000. Ample dollars would have been available then to import extra petrol and heavy machinery needed to improve rural roads and construct dams and waterways.
The Communist party is not interested in production. It is a world-wide organization formed to hinder production and to stop the nations outside the Communist group from having peace in industry. But to those on the other side it works along different lines. If industrial organizations tried to disrupt industries in Communist-controlled countries, they would be sent to a concentration camp or shot. Senator Collings made a. sincere speech to-night on which [ congratulate him. He said we should all strive for peace, but we find that Russia is going ahead with its war production far faster, and on a larger scale, than any other nation. Russia has about 700 submarines and the United States of America, 79; Russia has 50,000 tanks and America has 7,000; Russia has 427 combat ships, America, 250 ; Russia has 17.000 fighter and bomber planes, America has 8,800. Russia’s standing army numbers 2,000,000 men compared with America’s standing army of 640,000 men. The Communist party is working towards one end - the control of the world. Whilst in Russia the Communists ruthlessly liquidate any groups of persons that cause industrial trouble, they encourage Communists in the freedom-loving countries of the world to cause disruption. It is the duty of this Parliament to ensure that the Communist party will not be in the position to disrupt industry as it is doing to-day. All honorable senators know of the strikes that are occurring throughout Australian industry at the present time. The rolling strike menace is gaining ground. If we, who support the Government of this nation, do our duty to the country we will not allow the Communist party to disrupt our industries. [ am sure that we shall have the support of every freedom-loving individual in Australia if we take steps to stem the tide of communism, and that honorable senators opposite will give the Government full support in any action that, it may take to end industrial disruption by the Communists and to keep the shores of this great nation free from Communist influence.
– I realize and acknowledge the great honour that has been done to me by the electors of Western Australia in electing me to this chamber. As a citizen of the Commonwealth and representing, as I do, both men and women, I trust that I shall he able to carry out my duties with intelligence, dignity and honour and impartiality towards all. Having been left, while young, a widow with three children to rear, I have had to take the place normally occupied by the breadwinner of the family, and have therefore had the experience of seeing life from the man’s point of view as well as from the woman’s. I consider that that has been a very valuable education for me. The community service in which I have been privileged to engage for many years has also allowed me to see how the other half lives, and I hope, therefore, that I may be able to contribute something of value to the deliberations of this chamber on the many questions vitally affecting the citizens of this Commonwealth,
The entry of women into all avenues of citizenship is now world wide. It is not surprising that that is so. Foisome years we have had in operation co-educational systems that are now beginning to give results. It is right and proper that an increasing number of women should’ be prepared to shoulder their full responsibilities of citizenship and that they should be training themselves in the art of leadership. For many years, in a voluntary capacity, women have taken a leading part in the fight for improvements in home conditions, in housing and nursing services, and in many other matters that so vitally affect a nation. But there are still great avenues available for co-operation. I acknowledge that women’s basic influence is in the home, for behind every man, he he great or small, there is a woman. If the home influence in this country provides for the best things in life I have no fear for the future of this Commonwealth.
Before dealing with the matters contained in the Governor-General’s Speech, I- desire to pay a tribute to those honorable senators of my sex who have pioneered the way for women in this chamber. I refer first to Senator Dorothy Tangney, whose illness I greatly deplore, and whose words of welcome to me I appreciate very much. T next refer to Senator Annabelle Rankin, who also has done her share of pioneering. I offer my congratulations to Senator Wedgwood, who, like myself, is a “ freshman “ in this chamber. I learned with great pleasure from the Governor-General’s Speech that the health of His Majesty the King has so mm:h improved that it is expected that in 1952 he will be able to pay Australia his long-promised visit. I assure the Senate that there is no part of the Commonwealth in which Their Majesties will receive a warmer, more sincere and more loyal welcome than they will receive from the people of Western Australia.
I turn now to the subject of peace. Goodwill has never been at a greater premium than at this moment. While one bloc of nations seems determined to hold the world to ransom we cannot help fearing that peace is difficult to achieve and that wai- is possible. We should ask ourselves the vital question whether the world is to be ruled by force or by reason. The fundamental need of the world to-day is peace, and Australia is being called upon to make its contribution towards that end. Through the discovery of the secrets of atomic energy, civilization has created the means of its own doom, and I say with regret that the development of atomic energy was first started by a woman. Women have started many things in the world. Professor Lise Meitner is the woman who, in her early discoveries, started her scientific confreres on the trail of atomic energy. Now, exiled by Hitler, a refugee in another country, she laments the fact that she discovered and passed on to her confreres the secret of atomic energy. I venture to hope that Australia will welcome the holding of a world disarmament conference as a prelude to achieving world peace, but such a conference should not preclude us from making the defences of our country secure. We must bend all our energies to gaining an understanding and sympathetic appreciation of each other’s basic needs. That must be the duty of every citizen of the nation. We must endeavour to ensure that atomic energy is used for construction and not for destruction. The achievements of science in the air have eliminated distance, and no nation <>au live unto itself.
That brings me to the subject of foreign affairs, about which I do not propose to say very much at this stage, because I understand that that matter will be the basis of another debate.
Whilst I have not yet seen the full report of the Colombo conference of British Commonwealth nations, where Australia was so ably represented by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Spender), I know sufficient about it to realize that the Minister is on the right track by attempting to gain an understanding of the basic needs of the Asian peoples who are so near to our shores, and by offering them assistance in agricultural developments so as to improve their standards of living. I desire to impress on everybody the momentousness of the task that has been imposed on Australia, which has a population of a mere 8,000,000, in that it has been called to assume the position of leadership in the Pacific. I note also with great pleasure that the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Attlee, has referred to the Canberra conference proposed by the Minister for External Affairs as being a step in the right direction.
The fact that Australia is to take a leading part in the Pacific brings me to what I consider is the most important point that I desire to deal with - the subject of education. Australia’s place in the Pacific demands a high standard of citizenship that can bc reached only by a high standard of individual thought and action, to secure which we must have more, better, and more diversified education. I join forces with Senator Tangney in regretting that no reference was made in the Governor-General’s Speech to that most important subject. I am fully aware that education is primarily a matter for the States, but I consider that the Commonwealth .must come to the aid of the States in this matter and be willing to part with larger sums of money than heretofore for educational purposes.
I regard the introduction of the 40-hour week, whilst very desirable in that it provides people with more leisure - although it is noticeable it was not introduced on behalf of the housewife or of the farmer’s cow - and a good thing if it could be universal, as premature in a pioneering country like Australia. My reasons for so ‘believing are first, that, it is necessary that our production should be maintained at a high level to help us to provide the goods that the rest of the world so badly needs and, secondly, that our education systems have never provided education for leisure. It is safe to assert that in no State of this Commonwealth have there ever been sufficient domestic science schools to train the potential mothers of this country in the arts of home-making. I can also assert without fear of denial that there have never been sufficient manual training centres to enable our lads to learn and enjoy the crafts of wood and metal working. There are practically no libraries throughout this land to help youth in cultural development, nor are there any art and cultural centres commensurate with the necessity that this young country has for such institutions. I repeat, therefore, that I should like generous grants to he made by the Commonwealth to the States so that there may be a complete revision of our State education systems. I may perhaps give the Treasurer (Mr. Fadden) a mild shock when I suggest that a loan of £100,000,000, floated for the purposes of education, would not be too much to ask for. This is >a matter on which we should think big. We should take the long-range view of it and approach it constructively. We must provide means for the adequate education of children suffering from rubella, as well as spastic and crippled children, of whom there are thousands in this country. When I investigated that problem I was staggered at the number of these handicapped children in our midst. Many of them can be responsive to certain types of education. That work will involve great expenditure, but the Government must be prepared to carry it out properly in order that these children who are so sadly handicapped to find some joy in life and reach the stage of citizenship, may be of use in the community in which they live. In order to enable Australia to take its place as a leading nation in the Pacific we must have a better and more diversified system of education and provide greater facilities for the cultural development of our people.
I am pleased that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) has dealt with some of the more unfortunate refugees in a much more sympathetic manner than his predecessor did. Whilst the previous Government should be congratu- lated upon the immigration scheme that it inaugurated and upon its early success, at the same time, we do not want to see Australia flooded with people who would reduce our standard of living. In this respect I recall the following words that were uttered by the late Mr. Ramsay McDonald, who said many wise things during his life: -
National pride may be a valuable possession, but when it becomes a consciousness of racial superiority it ceases to be a virtue.
We should take heed of that warning and endeavour to avoid doing anything of that kind. The problem of immigration is most important, but as many honorable senators have already spoken at length upon the subject I shall not enlarge upon it. However, the true story of conditions in Australia should be told at the other end. Undoubtedly, we have our roses here, but we have also some mighty big thorns ; and no good purpose can be served by exaggerating our virtues or minimizing our vices and deficiencies. I believe that over-enthusiasm on the part of some members of the staff of Australia House and their limited factual knowledge of conditions in Australia has caused a small number of British migrants to be disappointed when they come to this country and, consequently, they have returned to their homeland. We cannot expect any scheme of immigration to be 100 per cent, perfect. Whilst realizing the need for adult immigration, I should like to see a greater measure of child immigration. In this sphere, several schemes, notably the Fairbridge scheme, with which I have had considerable experience, have achieved notable success. I know that a census was taken by the previous Government of the number of institutions and orphanages in Western Australia with a view to ascertaining the space that would be available to accommodate children who could be brought here from Great Britain. However, no progress has been made in that direction. Some of those institutions which offered to provide accommodation for 100 children have not yet received one child. I appreciate Great Britain’s diffidence about getting rid of its child life. The Mother Country like Australia is faced with the problems inherent in an ageing population and, therefore, is trying to retain its young life. We must press on with our immigration programme and make every possible effort to help migrants feel that they are a part of this nation and that we welcome them wholeheartedly.
As a representative of Western Australia, I was pleased to hear that it is the Government’s intention to establish a Ministry of National Development which will be charged with the duty of taking an overall view of the development of this great continent. Western Australia seems to be the forgotten State of the Commonwealth. Everything seems to stop when one reaches Adelaide. Nothing happens when one goes further west from that city. Western Australia is regarded as a land of desert or, as it used to be referred to, “ a land of sin, sand, sorrow and sore eyes “. I point out that although that State is one-third of the area, of the Commonwealth, it contains only one-fourteenth of our total population. In Western Australia we are closest to our Asian friends. The north-west of the State is unpeopled and undeveloped, and the only means by which we can induce those who have- been sufficiently brave to make their permanent homes there and so help to increase the population in that area, some of which is most fertile, is to provide water. Schemes such as the Ord River scheme will make a tremendous difference in the lives of the people in those remote areas. They will provide adequate water and power supply and give to those people amenities that are enjoyed by people who reside further south. The Minister for Supply and Development (Mr. Casey) said recently that there was a great danger in having six growing capital cities in Australia. Strategically the north-west of Western Australia is our No. 1 danger spot. The sooner we develop that area, the Northern Territory and the northern part of Queensland the better it will be for those who live on the wonderful plains in the southern parts of this great continent.
Having regard to the lateness of the hour, T shall refer only briefly to the subjects of housing, health, and hospitals. If I were asked to say what has been the No. 1 tragedy in this country in the postwar years I would say that it has been the shared kitchen. More feuds, more bad temper and more bad feeling have been caused by the shared kitchens of this country than by any other factor in the post-war period. That, of course, is merely saying that the housing of our people has been too slow. I do not need to go into the reasons for the delay in the building of houses. All of us know why the construction of houses has been held up. One of the principal causes for the delay has been the disruptive influence in the trade unions which has prevented the decent trade unionist from getting on with the job. Having been a unionist myself, I know what I arn talking about when I make that statement. I have had first-hand knowledge of disruptive influences in trade unions in Western Australia. The party to which I belong stands four-square on the principle of home ownership by the people. Nothing gives a man, or a woman, a better feeling in life than the knowledge that he, or she, owns a home. The spirit of independence born of home ownership is expressed in the following lines in Scott’s Rob Roy -
My foot is on my native heath, and my name’s MacGregor !
I sincerely trust that the shortage of houses will gradually be overtaken. The building of hospitals is seriously lagging in every State, and considerable difficulty is being experienced in obtaining a sufficient number of recruits for the nursing services. The conditions under which nurses work have been greatly improved during the last few years, but many more improvements can be made in order to make that noble profession more attractive to young women. A good deal more could also be done in the Commonwealth in the prevention of illness, and a start should be made with the children. I am particularly happy to notice that the Government intends to distribute milk free of charge to children under twelve years of age. Since 1924, 1 have had the privilege of being the honorary secretary of the Free Milk and Nutritional Council of Western Australia, and for years I have sold badges in the streets in order to collect funds to provide milk for school children. By voluntary effort, we have raised as much as £1,000 a year to provide milk for the children of parents in receipt of less than the basic “wage. Therefore, I have some knowledge of such schemes, and of the good that has been done. We did not start the scheme until we had made an investigation in every school and had details prepared of the fatigue-hour of school children. After a child has rushed his breakfast and hurried to school, he begins to feel fatigue about 30.30 a.m. and so we decided that was the most suitable time to issue milk to the young people. The health of the children has been greatly improved since they have been receiving this milk. I am sure that honorable senators opposite have some knowledge of the wonderful scheme that has been operating in Western Australia, and, I assume, in other parts of Australia, to help some of the under-privileged children to health. I hope that the Commonwealth will be able to provide for every school child a ration of milk daily. Children who are unable to drink milk should be provided with orange juice. I was present at a reception tendered to a distinguished medical woman, Dame Katherine Watt, who came to Australia a fortnight ago for the purpose of opening the Australian College of Nursing. I spoke to her about the health of school children in the Old Country, and she informed me that they had never looked so well. Their condition is due to the fact that, during the war, they were given milk, orange juice, cocoa and other nourishing foods.
Action should be taken in Australia to place fruit within the reach of persons in the lower income groups. I do not see how it is possible for a person in receipt of the basic wage to provide fruit for his family at the present high prices, particularly those ruling in Canberra. When I was in London on one occasion, X purchased a peach at the cost of 9d. and I felt that I was biting gold. I had left peaches on my own trees in Western Australia, and I had purchased them in that State for 3d. per lb. However, I paid 7d. for a peach in Canberra a few days ago, and the thought of the price nearly caused me to choke when T ate the fruit. Such high prices are absurd. Australia is one of the greatest fruit producing countries in the world, but the price of fruit is so prohibitive that our children are being deprived of it. The orderly marketing scheme should provide for .a reduction of the price of fruit to the consumer. I am not altogether in favour of orderly marketing. Since the appointment of the egg board I have not had a fresh egg. Every egg I purchase seems to be about a month old. In order to obtain a fresh egg, a person must go into the country and do a bit of black marketing. A similar position applies in respect of apples and pears. Orderly marketing, has helped the producer but has not benefited the consumer. I hope that the best brains in this country will be directed to evolving a scheme that will benefit the grower and consumer alike, and when I refer to the consumer, I have in mind particularly the children who need plenty of fruit.
Social services require constant adjustment in these days of rising prices. I regard as one of the finest pronouncements in the Governor-General’s Speech the intimation that a committee had been appointed to inquire into social services. The many anomalies that now exist should be rectified. As previous speakers have referred to them, I shall not elaborate the ones that I have in my note. However, I was horrified, on coming to Canberra, to learn that no provision for aged people had been made in this city, where ample provision has been made for everything that is beautiful and artistic. There should be added to the plan for Canberra a garden city for those who have borne the heat and burden of the day. Apparently, the old people in this community are cared for in the Canberra Community Hospital, because they have nowhere else to go. The provision of suitable accommodation for the aged is one of the first matters that should receive attention.
I come now to the core of Australia’s problem., namely, industrial peace. When we speak of rising costs and .the basic wage, we immediately think of industrial peace. After world peace, no subject is of greater importance than industrial peace, but, unfortunately, an influence that hates to see industrial peace in this country has infiltrated the trade unions. The question that I should like to ask every employer and employee is this: “Are we to play down to the worst motives of human nature - fear and greed - or are we to play up to the best motives, such as pride in the job that we do, a sense of responsibility, and a desire to act a worthy part in the life of this community?” I have no doubt about the answer that honorable senators who ire thinking deeply about this matter would give to that question. Senator Collings has given us some wonderful things to think about, and I hope that they will not quickly be forgotten. The system of conciliation and arbitration in Australia is the fairest in the world, but the idea has crept into the minds of many trade unionists that a strike can be lawful. Unionists cannot have it both ways. The former Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) made that matter clear to them last year. If workers resort to strike tactics, they cannot expect to go hack to the Arbitration Court. Arbitration is the only fair way in which industrial difficulties can be settled. The Government is to be commended upon the active steps that it has already taken to interview persons associated with industry with .the object of achieving industrial peace.
I should like to speak on such subjects as communism, socialism and international affairs, but I shall reserve my views on them until other suitable opportunities occur. I shall then answer some of, the accusations that have been hurled at the Liberal party by honorable senators opposite. I thank the Senate for having listened to my speech so patiently. I am one of those persons, old-fashioned, perhaps, who believes that the Word of the Old Book is still true: “ Righteousness exalteth a nation “. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in his Christmas message to the Australian people, said -
All people have a right to justice aud to goodwill. That we should serve ourselves is the privilege of men and women, hut that we should serve others is the true proof of a. religious and social conscience.
I hope that, in the words of the late Lord Acton, “we shall realize a sense of the greatness of human affairs “. I also trust that we members of this Nineteenth Parliament of the Commonwealth will go forward with goodwill and justice in our hearts towards all, irrespective of party politics. I appeal to all citizens of this great country to co-operate with us so that our- ideal of democracy may be realized.
– This is the eighth occasion on which I have participated in an Address-in-Reply debate. I spoke in three such debates in the State Parliament of Western Australia, and this is my fifth in Canberra. On each occasion, a new government has been “ cashing in “ on the work of its predecessor. I am con.vinced, however, that the Chifley Government is the only administration in the Commonwealth sphere that has ever fulfilled its promises to the people. Everything that Labour said it would do has been done, or is now being done. Nothing has been said in this debate about the splendid work performed by Ministers of the Chifley Government, and I propose to say something now. On my right is Senator Ashley, who, as Minister for Shipping and Fuel, rendered excellent service to Australia. Although Labour had a majority of 30 in this chamber during his term of office, he never failed to keep his supporters on the job. His duties were most onerous because of continual industrial unrest on the coal-fields. Often I expected him to return from Sydney black as an aboriginal after his prolonged efforts to bring peace to the coal mines. Senator Courtice also rendered valuable service to this country as Minister for Trade and Customs. I believe that when a man is doing a good job he should be told so, and thus be encouraged to continue it. What is the use of waiting until a man is dead before saying what splendid service he rendered? One frequently hears in this chamber eugolistic references to the lifelong endeavours of men who have died. What good purpose can such speeches serve ? I believe that, wherever possible, we should pay our tributes to the work of living people. T congratulate Senator Robertson upon an excellent speech. I am pleased indeed to find that she is a “ dinkum “ Western Australian. Our Postal Department to-day is a striking tribute to the work of the former Postmaster-General (Senator Cameron). The department employs 72,000 men, and has 10,000 post offices. Under Senator Cameron’s administration,
Perth was given three new post offices, which I am sure would never have been built by an anti-Labour government.
Earlier to-day, reference was made to the Royal Australian Air Force. When, in 1937, the then Prime Minister, Mr. Curtin, appealed for a powerful air force to defend this country, the then honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who is now Speaker of the House of Representatives said that an air force would be of little use because the final outcome of wars still depended upon military forces. I am confident that there will be no more wars, because, whereas in the past war casualties have been mainly soldiers and workers, the atom and hydrogen bombs now in the course of development, will be capable of killing entire communities, and the “ big fellow “ will make quite sure that he is not killed.
An honorable senator opposite spoke of water conservation. The record of the Chifley Government in that sphere is unparalleled. Take for instance, the Snowy Mountains scheme. What a wonderful boon that will be when it is completed ! The former Minister for Works and Housing, Mr. Lemmon, is to be highly commended for his work in that connexion. Unfortunately, he is not now in the Parliament, but he is young and will return some day. Western Australia too has done much in the field of water conservation. When the Wise Labour Government was in office in that State, large water conservation schemes were undertaken with the help of Commonwealth money. The defeat of the Wise Government was as big a surprise to its members as the defeat of the Chifley Government was to us, and to honorable senators opposite. The Wise Government was defeated largely because its supporters took things too easily. However, another election will be held shortly, and I am confident that Labour will again assume office.
We are told that Labour’s socialistic policy was the cause of the Chifley Government’s defeat. Those who express that opinion apparently forget that we have socialized water supplies, telephonic and postal services, railways, and other transport facilities. The Chifley Government was defeated because of the dirty talk about socialism. An intense propa- ganda campaign was waged against Labour in the press, and over the air All our economic ills were attributed to the Chifley Government. I remind honorable senators that socialization is not confined to the Labour party. For instance, the Liberal government in South Australia socialized the Adelaide electricity undertaking. There is a story behind that, but I cannot tell it to-night.
I come now to my pet subject, the standardization of our railway gauges. Ever since I have been in this Parliament I have stressed the necessity for a standard gauge line from Brisbane to Fremantle. It is reported that the standardization project envisaged by the Chifley Government is to be shelved. That would be a national tragedy. Supposing there was another war, how would we transport our troops and war material? Would we transport them as we did during the last war? Frequently when I travelled on the transAustralia line in the war years I saw eight or nine trains standing at sidings waiting for the express to pass. At that time, there were only one or two passenger trains a week ea.ch way. The necessity to change trains at break-of-gauge points makes family travelling most difficult. A traveller from Western Australia has to change at Kalgoorlie, Port Pirie, Adelaide, Melbourne and Albury. This means, of course, that he has to 3pend a lot of money paying porters to carry his baggage from one train to another.
I agree with -Senator Robertson that Western Australian is not getting a fair deal. I endorse those remarks because the present Commonwealth Government does not contain a Minister from Western Australia. I think that that is a crying shame. Surely that State deserves one Minister. Surely there is one of its representatives who can be tutored or trained or given a trial. Why leave Western Australia out? If the Government does not rectify this position, before very long, when the time comes for it to go out it will stay out, and then Western Australia will again have direct representation in the Ministry. I hope that the Government will give this matter consideration and that it will have a Minister from Western Australia because that
Would save time and trouble for some of our members who have to get in touch with Ministers. Previously, two Ministers came from Western Australia. Now, that State has none. As Senator Robertson has stated, the size of Western Australia merits that it should be represented by a Minister.
Before the elections, remarks which have since been proved to be untruthful were made by an honorable member speaking inWestern Australia over the air in the course of which a promise of 10s. a week child endowment for the first child in a family was given. Now we find that the amount is to be only 5s. I agree with Senator Amour that the amount should be 10s. I ask the Government to give that matter consideration. The Government has plently of money. It went in with an overflowing Treasury. When the Labour Government took over under Mr. John. Curtin it had nothing. Isay to” the Government, “ Don’t be like a lot of Jews. Spend some of it. Let the people have some money for their happiness.” I am convinced that the Government will do that because if it does not it will not be on the treasury bench after the next election.
I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Broadcasting Act- Seventeenth Annual Report and Balance-sheet of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, for year 1948-49.
Commonwealth Public Service Act- Appointments - Department -
Defence - D. A. Heap, P. Middleton, J. A. Scott.
Labour and National Service - M. T. Shaw.
Supply and Development - M. G. Allen. A. J. Barlow, D. P. Dyson,R. P . Loh.
Defence Act - Royal Military College - Report for 1948.
Defence Act and Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1950, No. 7.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (28).
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Defence purposes - Middle Swan, Western Australia.
Norfolk Island Act -
Ordinances - 1 949 -
No. 3 - Brands and Marks.
No. 4 - Pasturage and Enclosure. Regulations - 1949 -
No. 2 (Brands and Marks Ordinance).
No. 3 (Pasturage and Enclosure
Services Trust Funds Act - Services Canteens
Trust Fund - Report for year 1948-49.
Wool Use Promotion Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1950, No. 6.
Senate adjourned at 11.18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 March 1950, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1950/19500308_senate_19_206/>.